Movement, Strength and Skill…You Need Them All

Have you ever thought about how you walk? It seems like such a simple activity. And it is.

But are you doing it properly? Think about the following questions…

Which direction do your toes point in? Is one different than the other? Do your knees point in or out? Do your heels strike the ground? Are your hips raised higher on one side? Do your glutes and hamstrings control the movement, or your quads?

These and other factors are clues to whether you are moving in the most efficient manner.

Similar sets of questions can be developed for any physical skill. The answers to these questions lie in the understanding of the following.

The Performance Pyramid

Your ability to peform any movement/skill can be broken down with a  simple diagram called the performance pyramid. This pyramid is a visual representation of the building blocks of human movement.

It’s 3 tiered with each section building on top of the next.

Movement is the foundation. It’s concerned with your ability to move through a particular pattern with stability.  Mobility and flexibility are big factors in your ability to do this.

Strength is at the second tier. Once your movement has been cleared for a particular pattern you can begin to look at how efficiently and quickly you perform this pattern.  Building power through this range of motion can begin at this stage.

Skill is the final tier. Strength and movement are transferred into a specific skill. Development of this specific skill can now begin.

The buffers signify the overlap needed between each tier. Your movement level should be more than adequate to support strength development. Your strength level should be more the adequate to control the particular skill.

An Example

Squatting is the base movement here. The athlete in this picture is able to perform the body weight movement with excellent form. This is a good indicator that he has the necessary mobility and flexibility to add strength to this movement.  Once strength is added (the example shows squatting with weight and jumping) and the athlete has shown adequate power through this range of motion, he is now in a better position to control the skill of dunking a basketball.

Why Is This So Important?

If movement, strength and skill aren’t properly developed according to the pyramid then the following are true.

  •  You are opening yourself up to injury. For example, if you started squatting with weight before you could perform a proper body weight squat, you would be putting strength on top of a dysfunctional movement.  This will eventually lead to a problem.
  • You are not performing at you peak. There is inefficiency in your movement and therefore your body isn’t performing at the level it’s capable of.

How Does This Effect Training?

The performance pyramid lets you know what areas you need to target.  If your movement is good, but strength is lacking, your training should be focused on building strength. If you are sufficiently strong, but movement is weak, you need to take a step back and work on mobility and flexibility. Get the idea?

Wherever the weaklink is in the pyramid that’s where your training should be focused.

This Applies to Everyone!

Seriously! Don’t think because you aren’t an athlete or do not perform complicated movements, that you are immune. If you are performing basic movements incorrectly, in time, your body will break down. That lower back pain you complain about at age 30 will escalate to a real problem at 50. It’s in your best interest to take a preventative approach now!

The concept of the performance pyramid was developed by Gray Cook. Check his stuff out!

I’m sure you have questions.  Hit me with them in the comments.