Watching the Olympics this summer and remembering the Winter Olympics in Sotchi a couple of years ago, I was reminded of what perfectly combined forces between body and mind can achieve.

When everything is in harmony, all the right training is in place and practice has made perfect – we really are capable of the most staggering things!

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Quality of movement is key…

The intricacies of precision, foot and body placement that propels, spins, flips and steers the competitor exactly where he intends. It is exactly these skills and drills that allow them to excel. These athletes have been skating, sliding, skiing, sprinting, lifting, turning, twisting, jumping, throwing repeatedly – all with immense quality and precision…all to seize that moment and nail that score, time or distance for one of the biggest moments in their lives.

A friend the other day was talking about the golf grip (http://watchfit.com/exercise/great-golf-strength-training-program) While I tried to keep my eyes open and feign interest, he enthusiastically explained that if the golf club was held millimetres in the wrong position, that the swing, hit and distance of the ball would be hugely sabotaged.

There was more to this example than I first appreciated! And this is of course the case with every sport, its requirements, disciplines and accessories.

Miniscule appropriate adjustments here and there is the expertise a champion owns and a  beginner couldn’t mimic if he tried.

quality of movement _1

But how often are these marginal moves and differences of grip or body position considered in general fitness or gym training?

It is all too easy to gallop around studios burning calories and pounding through the weights in the gym with little consideration to finer detail.

We speak in measures of inclines and declines, narrow and wide grips, yet other details are somewhat overlooked.

Plenty of ladies walk into my studio wanting to ‘tone’ up but not ‘muscle or bulk’ up, with some clearly wearing the bulk already from their chosen hobby or sport. We can slim them down and shape them up but the balance and proportions stay the same for some and they look the same, only slimmer.

That’s not ‘change’ enough for some so this is where fine adjustments come in.

Active, sporty types can easily develop a rather blocky, angular look and, despite years of their chosen sport or good fitness levels, they are left wondering what more they can do to be the Goddess Helena.

It is here where different techniques in gym training can turn fit into feminine and butch into buff and beautiful.

Take the thighs/quads. Imagine a chunky, sporty, square-like thigh, slightly sway back legs and pigeon toes. Years of this position and mileage patterning the form, create this. This is a look I am familiar with where I live, plenty of the girls around here are powerful skiers or mountaineers, the kind of sports where the quads are worked overtime in pretty much a static and same directional (planal,) position.

Depending on the weight distribution on the tripod of the foot and depending on the degrees of the turn out and rotation in the hips, that image can be softened into sweeping curvy, athletic thighs with forward facing feet.

  • Changing planes in squatting
  • rotating more
  • widening stance more
  • turning feet out a fraction here and there

These simply applied elements put the emphasis or load on different muscle fibres. Take the good old leg extension – turning the feet out ballet style fractionally, puts more load on the vastus medialis, the teardrop of muscle just above the knee. Just as a mild turn in or pigeon toe position on the leg curl, will work the inner hamstrings more, therefore giving a fuller and balanced look to the back of the leg.

Of course the individual’s natural posture plays a role as to how effective these changes are and so exercise positions need to be adapted from the standard winning moves.

Lordotic types, those with a curvy lower back, will find that the same leg and glute exercise for a straight backed person, doesn’t tick the box for them. A tight, narrow squat would have the straight back exercises glutes burning. But instead for a lordotic, the quads would be feeling it.

One things is for sure, squats with raised heels follow most everyone’s anatomy more harmoniously than with no raise.

And speaking of raises – take the shoulder raise to the side, aimed at hitting the medial, middle shoulder, arms need to be slightly rotated forward to strike that small area, with added softness in the elbows… if water was to run down the arm it would fall off the thumb.

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