What does Thomas Ford, Ray Kroc, and Steve Jobs have in common? Amongst many things, they are visionaries. The new buzz term is “disruptors”. CNBC defines them as people who create innovations that change the world. Another way to put it is people who don’t accept the current status quo. They know there is a better way. Ford knew there was a better way to travel. Kroc knew there was a better way to get a meal quickly. Jobs knew there was a better way to get information and music. I don’t think many would argue with me that these three deserve to be on the Mt. Rushmore of iconic visionaries. Creating something that didn’t exist before is very challenging. In my world, the fitness world, new concepts aren’t created every year. What happens, like in many industries, old concepts are recycled frequently. This is why, when a new training modality surfaces, it sends shock waves throughout the industry.
Suspension training was revolutionary. Randy Hetrick created the TRX suspension system and fitness hasn’t been the same. The same can be said about what Josh Henkin is currently doing with the Ultimate sandbag using his dynamic variable resistance training system (DVRT). Movement training is the rave now and, as an industry, we’re all learning that we aren’t built like Frankenstein. We can’t train individual muscle groups. Our bodies move in patterns within multiple planes of motion (sagittal, coronal or frontal, and transverse), and we should train on multiple planes.
For the record, I am in agreement with this thought process, and follow this protocol at my training studio. I prefer not to try and create something new but to follow forward thinking people who challenge the status quo like the famous names I mentioned in my opening sentence. One of those forward thinking people is Dr. Stuart McGill, or Yoda, as I like to refer to him. This man is, hands down, one of the most informed people on lower back mechanics and he has a heavy influence on the fitness industry. His lab has produced much of the research on lower back disorders and the core. He’s written multiple articles on how to train the core and how the muscles of the core respond to exercise & stress. Many cite him as the reason why the plank has replaced the crunch as the most productive way to train the core. What some lose in the translation of his articles is that it’s not the standard prone plank that he highly recommends, but the side plank as one of the most effective exercises you can perform for your core.
What I’ve observed at my studio working with clients is how people are very competent when working in the saggittal plane of motion, but once you either change or add an additional plane of motion, such as the frontal or transverse planes, things have a tendency to go sideways rather quickly. A common problem is that people will tend to fatigue a lot quicker in these two latter planes of motion. It was Henkin who joked, “obliques, which are used extensively in the frontal plane, are the new glutes”.
It was around 5 years ago that we all learned we needed to work our gluteus maximus or glutes more. Terms like “glute amnesia” become the buzz in conversations at the local Starbucks. I knew it was getting trendy when Tiger Woods stated his inability to fire his glutes as an explanation for his poor play at a major. More deadlifts, Tiger. To get back to training obliques, what I think we need to concentrate on is, not only training the obliques, but our ability to efficiently use them as our overall body starts to fatigue. A drill I like to coach at the studio is to have someone maintain a side plank as they use a battling rope. I observe to see if they can maintain stiffness in their side plank as they breathe hard and start to fatigue from the ropes. To see a demonstration of this exercise, watch this video.
Give that a try and let me know if you think obliques are the new glutes.
See you at the studio.