I don’t mean to put down nuanced, dance-like, flowery forms of exercise. Sometimes, that movement to music means something to people. But for those of us who see function over form and the goals are to improve strength or musculature, some of the funny little things we do are unnecessary and just plain silly.
I’ve read many times about Strongmen and Powerlifters who lift enormous amounts of weight. They say they never do sit-ups or "core work". When they lock in their bodies in preparation for a heavy lift, every single muscle from their toes to all the muscles of their face are engaged to the nth degree. If you focused on a finger alone to contract, you couldn’t do it more than they do in a single lift. Nothing is missed.
I found this to be so true a few weeks ago when I was doing yoke squats (pictured above). I try to do yoke squats every Saturday. But I do it as part of a bigger workout. But on this particular day, I only had about 20 minutes to workout. I did a few warm-up lifts while moving my yoke from its normal place. Then I jumped right into heavy stuff. I put on a heavy weight that I felt like I could accomplish, but I only did one rep. Then I jumped up and failed at lifting a heavier weight. Then I dropped back down and did a set of 3 reps at a lower weight.
All in all, I did 3 sets. And I did a total of 4 completed reps. That’s all I had time for. But for the following 2 days, my glutes, traps, biceps, calves,… were all quite sore. But not just your normal soreness. If I did a chest workout, I’d know exactly where it will be sore and I can characterize the soreness. For heavy work, it is very much a neuromuscular soreness. You get tingles and a core soreness that is very different. My abs were sore too without doing a single sit-up or crunch.
Now to the body pump group who do the little flairs of movement, I’d ask you to try this out. You don’t even have to lift a heavy weight. It could be isometrics. Maybe lean against a wall and press as hard as you can for 15 seconds. Do that for a few rounds. It may be going to the bumper of your car and lifting for 10 seconds. You’ll feel the same effect as doing a heavy lift. And you’ll engage everything.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go to YouTube and search "fitness motivation". You’ll see hundreds of videos of models doing really silly movements. Believe me, doing a
Plié prior to every squat may look beautiful, but its not doing much to make you stronger or look more fit. Maybe if you have all the time in the world, you can do all the excess movements. But if you focus on efficiency of time and movement, then you’ll find what I’m talking about to be true.
Pumping with 3 pound plastic dumbbells is fine. But if you want to drive your motivation higher, try to actually outperform yourself now and then. Surprise yourself with something heavier. You can throw your crunches and flutter kicks away.