Guest post by Jon Chacon
After being engaged in the strength and conditioning community for a little more than 10 years now I think it’s safe to say that everyone has goals to improve their performance, movement, or efficiency whether it be in a competitive sport or just to improve in general. Whether you intend to or not, you are going to obtain and retain a certain volume of knowledge associated with the human body and how it works, and hopefully this level of knowledge goes beyond that of 6th grade physical education. Knowledge of strength training anatomy is incredibly valuable to your best possible progress.
Those who truly want to better their bodies should also be interested to learn and know how their body works and why it works the way that it does. This knowledge doesn’t stop with just learning the names of your muscles (I still have to constantly review some of the terms); it begins with these anatomy basics and works into the different systems of the body: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and neuromuscular.
Understanding these systems will allow the beginner to the advanced strength and conditioning enthusiast to best apply their own training methods in order to hone in on their goals.
Basic anatomy training is a great place to start if you wish to embark on this scientific journey. Even though you probably don’t want to hear it, a great place to find this information is in a, typically thick and heavy, textbook. Don’t get too discouraged because there are plenty of simplified versions, but I suggest investing in the right tools. There are plenty of resources out there. One that I have used and continue to use is the book “Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning” from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA).
This book is easy to read and even provides quizzes at the end of each chapter to test your knowledge. It starts with the basics and then becomes more detailed as you move on. Now, this book was originally intended for those individuals who are seeking to study to become a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), but anyone can purchase this book even if that is not your intention.
This book is great, especially for the beginner, because it also goes into nutrition, periodization, and how to properly execute a wide range of strength and conditioning movements. Again, not an “end all, beat all” tool, but I highly recommend it.
For some beginners, they have not acquired, nor have they tried to acquire, the knowledge necessary to begin training their bodies, but they have the willpower to begin pursuing some type of goal whether it involves looking better or feeling better. This is the point when most decide to ask one of their buddies how to start a program or they invest in a personal trainer.
Either one of these methods is fine, but they are going to be hit or miss. When I say this, I mean yes there will be friends or gym rats or personal trainers out there that know what they are doing and have the experience to prove it, but there are also a lot of the above mentioned individuals that really have no right to be telling others what they should be doing.
Remember, a bunch of letters in front of your name doesn’t mean much unless you have the results to prove it. I won’t step into this topic for now. As far as I’m concerned, the best person to train you, YOUR body, should be you. We are all capable of teaching ourselves how to move better and perform better.
If you are reading this, I’m pretty sure you taught yourself as an infant how to crawl, how to stand, how to squat, how to put food in your mouth, how to breath efficiently, how to use your nose, how to use your opposable thumbs, and much more, and all without a textbook or someone telling you how to do so. I am by no means saying that you should never ask other people for help, I’m simply advocating why it is important for you, as a beginner, to understand the fundamentals of your body.
How do you fix your car or your motorcycle or your bicycle when you don’t have the time or the money to take it into the shop? I’ve been there plenty of times. In most of these cases I’ve gone out and paid a small price for an owner’s manual or searched other resources for the info I needed or just went to work on the machine until I could troubleshoot what the problem was; and I learned from it.
This all leads to being less dependent on others. As with the machines we own, we can make an analogy to our bodies. When our bodies start breaking down, or we get sick, or hurt, we can’t always afford to go straight to the doc or the ER for every little thing. Instead it would be wise to troubleshoot some of the more simple problems on our own and learning from the experience, along with saving a little money on the side. Just think of buying one of these “textbooks” as investing in the owner’s manual for your body.
Asking good questions
Beginners will have more than just questions on how to execute certain movements; they’re also going to want to know how to eat right, how to track progress, and how to recover from injury. This is why it is again important to know how your body works. You can answer the following questions and more: Why and how does this particular food affect my performance or body composition? When is the best time to consume it and why?
How much should I consume and why? If I set this goal and reach it then how do I move on to the next? What are the symptoms of overtraining, and how do I combat them? I injured this part of my body when I did this; why did this happen, how can I prevent it from occurring again, and how do I get back on track?
The questions are endless so why wouldn’t you want to know more about your body? If you’re going to do any sort of body training, it’s great to know what’s going on under the hood.
I think you get the message I’m trying to project, but I’m not just addressing beginners. I encourage all athletes and general enthusiasts to constantly educate themselves and to seek education from various sources, and most importantly, not to believe everything you read.
Question everything! If you’re not the science “type” don’t let that discourage your ability or drive to learn. I’m telling you, just wait until you start learning how your endocrine system works, which will help you understand how you can increase your anabolic hormones with certain movements and certain foods, without the use of supplements and other substances.
We all have the potential to be stronger, faster, bigger, leaner, better naturally. We just have to know how to tap into the right systems to produce results. Have fun one this venture and your never-ending search for knowledge.
About the author:
You can visit Jon Chacon at primalsteel.tumblr.com, where he writes about exercise, fitness, anatomy, and more.