With the start of a new calendar year, many people set new year resolutions or goals. I have chosen to set a physical performance goal for myself. This year I want to successfully do a strict “muscle up” by June. The reason for this goal has to do with my enrollment in a MovNat level 2 certification course coming up in July. MovNat (short for Move Naturally) applies primal movement patterns, such as crawling, squatting, jumping and climbing, to explore our body’s full range of motion and agility potential — so that we can rebuild how we move from the ground up.
When you take a course like this, you are expected to practice what you preach. I will have to be able to physically perform certain movements with proficiency in order to become certified at a higher level. This is similar to martial arts where someone completes physical skills to attain the next color belt.
I am fairly new in my journey with MovNat and I have several areas of weakness, largely with upper-body pulling strength and power. This deficit shows up most during movements where I am hanging, pulling, or climbing.
One of the fundamental movements required of a level 2 MovNat certification is the power up exercise, better known as a “muscle up” in the fitness community. This involves pulling your body weight up from a hanging position (i.e., pull up), and then into a propped up position with your upper body above the bar. In terms of a practical application, the power up movement could be used to climb up on top of a surface or object such as a tree branch. Here's what it looks like:
You can also check out this video demonstration of a MovNat Power Up.
A NEW YEAR. A NEW GOAL.
In this blog series, I will take you through my journey to accomplish my performance goal. I will also help outline how you can apply this same framework to other movement goals.
My plan consists of 3 phases of training over the next 5 months:
- Phase 1 (Jan - Feb): Strength Training and MovNat hanging progressions
- Phase 2 (Mar - Apr): MovNat pull up progressions
- Phase 3 (May): Skill refinement and technical practice
So let's discuss what goes into each phase.
Since upper-body pulling strength is a weak area, I have decided to dedicate some time to building a foundation of strength using conventional weight training methods. This will include a few isolated exercises for the lats, rhomboids, biceps, and traps, with a specific prescription of 3-6 reps for 4-6 sets at a very high % of 1RM. This approach is best suited to build strength within a muscle group, rather than power or endurance. However, since exercise prescription is not the main intention of this blog post, I encourage you to reference a credible resource such as the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) or the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) for more information if you are interested.
Exercises in this program:
- Lat pulldown
- Bent over row with dumbbell
- Chin up
- Tricep dip
In order to accomplish more advanced movement skills such as a pull up or a power up, we must consider starting with some basics first. Once we practice and refine the fundamentals of a movement pattern at its easiest, then we are safe to build more advanced movements on top of it. For example, I have chosen to adopt a 6-week progression to build my tolerance to hanging. This has numerous benefits including increased grip strength, improved overhead shoulder mobility, increasing efficiency of upper extremity muscles, and incorporating breath control while under load.
Movements in this progression include:
- Side hang
- Front hang
- Scapular pinch
- Foot pinch
- High hang
- Side swing
For a glimpse into what these movements look like, I encourage you to visit the MovNat Youtube page which has a tremendous library of videos.
Phase 2Details of this phase will come in my second blog post. Movements in this progression can include:
- Forward swing
- Side swing traverse
- Forward swing traverse
- Climb up
- Swing up (variations)
Phase 3Details of this phase will come in the third blog post. Movements in this progression can include:
- Pop up variations
- Power up
- All previous movements
If you have a movement based goal that you have set for yourself, try to incorporate similar phases which gradually build upon one another, eventually leading up to your goal deadline. Be sure to provide ample time with each phase. Most research suggests 6-8 weeks for actual strength training gains to be observed. I would suggest using similar time frames when setting your training phases.
Another factor to consider when working on a hanging related goal like mine, is the process of building up callouses on your hands. Initially, if you have not done much hanging exercises before, it can take a toll on your hands. Be sure to gradually adjust to the increased workload. If you do too much too soon you risk skin breakdown and possibly tearing a callous which can be quite painful and debilitating to your progress.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.
Learn more about how a physical therapist and performance specialist can help you by clicking here to find an Activcore location near you.
Also check out our Telehealth offerings to get help from the comfort of your home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Bryan Lynd is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) golf medical level 3 practitioner who . He works at Activcore in Princeton, New Jersey, located just 2 miles from Princeton University.
As an all around active person and avid golfer himself, Bryan has a special interest in injuries from golf and other rotational sports. He holds a Bachelors degree in Kinesiology from Western University in Canada, as well as a Doctorate degree in Physical Therapy from D’Youville College in Buffalo, NY. He also has advanced post-graduate training in the evaluation and treatment of professional, amateur and junior level golfers through the prestigious Titleist Performance Institute. Additionally, he has been pursuing advanced certifications in MovNat, a unique approach to help people rebuild their natural movement patterns.
Prior to working at Activcore, Bryan gained much experience treating golfers at Golf & Body NYC, an exclusive golf performance and wellness center located in midtown Manhattan. He also co-founded the Westchester Golf Performance Academy.
Bryan goes beyond the symptoms and looks at the whole body to help you recover from pain and injury, and safely return to a fulfilling life of sport, activity and wellness. He is among less than 1% of all physical therapists to be certified by TPI as a level 3 medical practitioner, making him exceptionally equipped to treat you from head to toe. Furthermore, he is recognized nationally as a leading authority in the application of Redcord, a suspension exercise system designed to help you develop a smarter, balanced body through the power of neuromuscular activation. [READ MORE]