When it comes to starting a fitness journey, it's natural to want immediate results. However, as a personal trainer, I want to emphasize the importance of beginning your fitness journey with what is called—the anatomical phase of training. This phase plays a critical role in setting the stage for long-term success and reducing the risk of injuries. In this article, we'll explore why the anatomical phase is crucial, how it benefits your training experience, and what you can expect during this phase.
Laying a Solid Foundation
Consider the anatomical phase as the foundation upon which you build your fitness goals. During this phase, your training will focus on enhancing mobility, stability, and overall body function. You can expect exercises that target specific muscle groups, joint mobility, and postural alignment. This phase aims to correct imbalances and weaknesses, activate dormant muscles, and improve neuromuscular coordination. Be prepared for a slower-paced training approach as you focus on building a strong foundation for future progress.
Common preparatory exercises in this phase include:
Foam Rolling: A self-myofascial release technique using a foam roller to target tight muscles and improve flexibility.
Joint Mobility Exercises: Dynamic movements that increase range of motion and lubricate the joints, such as arm circles, leg swings, and shoulder dislocations.
Core Stabilization: Engaging the core muscles through exercises like planks, bird dogs, and dead bugs to improve stability and support proper posture.
Injury Prevention and Longevity
The anatomical phase is vital for injury prevention. By gradually challenging your muscles, tendons, and ligaments, with higher receptions and sets you allow them to adapt and become stronger, reducing the likelihood of injuries.
Examples of commonly included exercises & why I use them include:
Bodyweight Squats: A fundamental lower body exercise that promotes proper squatting mechanics, builds leg strength, and improves hip mobility.
Glute Bridges: Activating and strengthening the glute muscles to support hip stability and reduce lower back pain.
Scapular Retraction: Targeting the muscles responsible for retracting the shoulder blades, such as rowing exercises or band pull-aparts, to improve posture and prevent shoulder injuries.
Single-Leg Balance Exercises: Enhancing balance and proprioception, such as single-leg stance or stability ball exercises, to improve stability and prevent ankle or knee injuries.
As a result of this training, you can expect improved movement quality, enhanced performance, and a reduced risk of injury during subsequent phases of training.
Patience and Sustainable Progress
During the anatomical phase, it's important to be patient and focus on sustainable progress. As you start slowly and build a strong foundation, you'll develop healthy habits, establish a better mind-muscle connection, and gain a deeper understanding of your body.
Expect to gradually increase the intensity and complexity of your exercises as you progress. Remember, fitness is a lifelong journey, and the anatomical phase sets the stage for smoother and more rewarding progress towards your goals.
Accept the slower pace, trust the process, and enjoy the benefits of a solid foundation that will support your fitness journey for years to come.