You gotta love the fitness industry, stick around and you will more than likely see a good idea get taken to some interesting levels. I don’t know where it all started, but my favorite new trend to keep an eye on is the whole idea of “primal training”. After watching a recent series of Youtube videos and reading some blog posts about it, I got some inspiration to discuss the recent excitement around the idea of “primal” training. Heck, people are even naming their fitness businesses after the “primal” concept.
It actually would be easy to throw the idea of primal training into the same arena as core and functional training. Vague terms that try to describe some type of training philosophy. Unfortunately, I don’t think we can even put primal training into the same category as these other buzz terms. While “core” and “functional” training were eventually transformed into movements that got further and further away from their original intent, they were both built off a foundation of some science. Primal training, while inspired by good intent, is really in its own category.
Why is it problematic? Well, first off what is primal training? Like functional and core training there is no one definition. The idea stems from the concept that our body is meant to perform certain activities naturally and we should focus our training on those “primal” movement patterns. The first time I heard of such a philosophy was by Paul Chek that made a lot of sense that our bodies were meant to squat, bend, lunge, twist, pushing, pulling, and gait (our walking patterns). Hard to argue with these ideas and like many I an fully in favor of such training.
Wait, then what is the problem? First is that this type of training conceptually is no different than what has been done in the early years of more organized strength training and through to the most recent years. Yes, the evolution of machines and bodybuilding definitely detracted many from these concepts, but we can look at a host of books from a number of decades that really seemed supported by these concepts although they were never called “primal”.
In more recent years, we can argue that functional training at its heart was just what we are talking about now. In fact, people like Paul Chek were the father’s of functional training and somewhere along the line the idea kept evolving into something else.
Some will tell you that we have gotten away from our Paleolithic ways. We should have a return of sort to this time of gathering, hunting, etc. Now, I have to clarify, I am in full support of getting people to move more and to teach them how, but using such thinking is something I can’t understand. The Paleolithic era ended sometime around 20,000 years ago. That is quite a long time for generations of people to change and cultures to evolve, it changed because people found more effective ways of doing things. My point? We shouldn’t be stuck performing fitness programs just because they are old, “old” doesn’t always mean better just as “new” doesn’t always mean better. The idea of better is that is solves a goal BETTER than something else.
Ignoring our increased understanding of the human body and movement just so that we can work in a manner that we justify as simply being our “natural” ways ignores possibly better ways of teaching people how to move more effectively and efficiently. Most importantly, it is not a system of developing people’s movement skills. Even in the last forty years our society has changed tremendously.
In 1974, John Jesse wrote a landmark book called Wrestling Physical Conditioning Encyclopedia. In this great book Jesse hits on a key problem that has escalated to an epidemic today! According to Jesse, “In accepting the concept of progressive resistance training with weights the coaching profession in the English speaking countries, particularly America and Canada, were faced with cultural problems. With machines doing most of the work the majority of young men entering athletics were not drawn from a background of labor work in the mines, on the farms, in the forests or on the docks. With increasing affluence, urbanization and mechanization, children were losing the philosophy of hard work and patience to attain a goal.” (Jesse, p. 65) That was 1974 well before the age of the internet, cell phones, ipads, etc!
Ultimate Sandbag Training and Developing Real Movement Skills
What probably intrigues me the most is not the idea that we need to teach people these specific movement skills, but how we go about doing so. There are some that will tell you the reason to Olympic lift is because it is “primal”. The reason we perform gymnastics is that it is primal. The truth is that many of the exercises that are being focused on today are anything BUT primal. For example, Olympic lifting is a very specific sport. Great athletes spend YEARS getting proficient at the lifts. Heck, in fact, the modern way of Olympic lifting isn’t necessarily how people performed it in the earlier years. Athletes and coaches evolved techniques to accelerate performance in the sport, hmmm, evolution again. Even more interesting is the fact that when I began in the industry only about 15 years ago it wasn’t universally accepted even in high levels of sports training that everyone needed to Olympic lift. The popularity of these lifts have really been revitalized only in the last few years in a more mainstream basis.
The same can be said of gymnastics. Because we do a few handstands or pull-ups, or heck tumble a few times doesn’t mean we are performing gymnastics. It is almost a disservice to those men and women that spend countless hours a day for years perfecting skills. Plus, I am not sure when Paleolithic man ever really found himself walking on his hands?!
Do I think people that want to follow the “primal” concept are bad? No, I think we are probably more similar in many ways than we are different. My question is do you have a means to progressively teach people how to move better? It all comes back to how do we get people to LEARN how to move better?
That is probably makes me scratch my head the most. Right now it would be very easy for me to make an argument that if you really want to be “primal” then you shouldn’t lift bars, dumbbells, or kettlebells. Really if you are going to be “primal” then there is nothing better than sandbags. But that isn’t what I want to get across.
Does that Make Ultimate Sandbag Training A Fad?
Sandbag training can easily fall into this fad based world if we don’t have a greater understanding of it. I do find irony that people that want to have more functional or primal based based programs don’t understand the role that Ultimate Sandbag Training can play in creating that. Is it about just being unstable and awkward? NO!!! Probably the BIGGEST misunderstanding of sandbag training is that it should be unstable. That is an option, but not a necessity, unfortunately, that is the only reason people think they are using Ultimate Sandbag Training.
Whether it is Ultimate Sandbag Training, kettlebells, suspension training, or whatever you choose to use it is because it helps solve the problem in the training program more effectively than something else. What I love about our Ultimate Sandbag Training program is that it is designed not to be anything but a solution to teaching people how to be more successful in their fitness programs. Do you want it to be corrective exercise? Done! Want it to be great for functional fat loss programs? Done! Want it to about increasing performance? Done!
Don’t be satisfied with a concept or philosophy, learn how to develop solutions to problems and you will really see the power of an idea. That is what Ultimate Sandbag Training is all about!