Home Blog Don’t Be So Linear

Don’t Be So Linear

Written on July 12, 2007 at 9:15 am, by Eric Cressey

Got to any gym, and you’ll see loads of people doing cardio at varying intensities, with different machines, listening to different music, and wearing different exercise sneakers. While they each appear unique, the reality is that they’re all stuck in linear movements that always have them moving forward. Take any of these people off their precious ellipticals, treadmills, and recumbent bikes, and you’ll find that they lack frontal and transverse plane stability and carry their weight anteriorly. The solution is pretty simple; get them moving in different ways!

The first step is to include some single-leg work in all exercise programming. This does NOT include unilateral leg presses and Smith machine lunges; you should actually be doing some of the stabilization work!

Second, make sure that you’re training movements that require full hip flexion (knees get above 90 degrees) and hip extension (glutes fire to complete hip extension). Sprinting meets these guidelines very easy, but cardio equipment that limits range of motion will always fall short. I’m not saying that they don’t have their place; I’m just saying that I’d rather have people outside doing sprints and multi-directional work instead.

Third, and most importantly incorporate more backwards and lateral movement in your energy systems work. Here’s an example that I used with an online consulting client of mine recently:

Dynamic Flexibility Warm-up

The following should be performed in circuit fashion with the designated rest intervals from below incorporated between each drill.

A1) High Knee Run: 20 yards
A2) Butt Kicks: 20 yards
A3) Backpedal: 20 yards
A4) Carioca: 20 yards to the right
A5) Carioca: 20 yards to the left
A6) Side Shuffle: 20 yards to the right
A7) Side Shuffle: 20 yards to the left
A8) Backpedal: 20 yards
A9) Scap Push-up: 15 reps
A10) Sprint: 50 yards

Week 1: 3 times through, Rest interval: 15s between drills, two minutes between sets
Week 2: 3 times through, Rest interval: 10s between drills, two minutes between sets
Week 3: 4 times through, Rest interval: 10s between drills, two minutes between sets
Week 4: 2 times through, Rest interval: 5s between drills, two minutes between sets

Eric Cressey

Improved Posture is Not Only Good for your Health, but also good for your Performance.

4 Responses to “Don’t Be So Linear”

  1. Max Says:

    Well it is great but imho one of the reasons commercial gyms like cardio machines is that because there is clear ratio of machines /per square feet /per member they try to maintain. Overly busy gyms like mine for example have 3 rows of those machines often at 70% capacity.

    What if all those people were doing circuit in a fashion you describe? -thats right whole gym space would be barely enough for 10% of them. In my main gym I can hardly find space to do 4 step forward lunges without bumping into somebody, let alone do some movement into space for extended period of time

    Another issue -machines provide guidance – you can program them to cycle and then just step on it and do it. – I think that attracts a lot of casual folks who can just relax on it without thinking too much.

    You may say it is purely logistics. But well logistics is very important .And it is a reason for cardio machine proliferation in the way they are and the standard impression of how cardio should be done – in linear fashion on static machine.

  2. chris Says:

    How about going outside? Skip the gym all together and save some time and gas while getting a better cardio workout.
    Seems logical.

  3. Jason Paris, CSCS Says:

    You can do plenty of multi directional work in a typical commercial gym. When I am on a step mill I always spend time walking up sideways. It may take a little getting use to but you can rum backwards on a treadmill.

    Most gyms I have been in have a group fitness class room, that is a good place to warm – up and work the other planes.

    It will not take anymore room to do single leg work, so if you have an area to squat you have an area to do single leg work.

    Take a look around and I am sure you can find a way to something different.

  4. Mike T Nelson Says:

    Nice info. More variety of movement is a great thing!

    I think that most people would be better served to get off the hamster wheel (treadmill) and go outside.

    The treadmill may promote neural confusion since the limbs are moving, but the visual system says the body is NOT moving. As you know EC, the body has a hieracrhy of 1)visual 2)vestibular and 3) proprioception.

    Add to this that you are not propelling your body forward and it may lead to altered mechanics over time. Although a new study did NOT seem to find a statistical difference.

    Gait Posture. 2007 Jun;26(1):17-24.
    A kinematic and kinetic comparison of overground and treadmill walking in healthy subjects.
    Riley PO, Paolini G, Della Croce U, Paylo KW, Kerrigan DC.

    Keep up putting out the information and discussion!

    Mike T Nelson

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