Movement Training or Muscle Training?


I’m often asked what kind of training I prefer and like any good question, the answer is, it depends.  It depends on lots of things, like goals, desired outcomes, and where the person is starting from.  One of the ways we can define different types of training in a more general sense is by thinking about training movements or training muscles.

Movement training can be defined as a holistic approach that emphasizes functional, multi-joint exercises and patterns that mimic real-life movements, for overall strength, coordination, and flexibility. The goal is to improve your ability to perform daily activities and promote a mindful connection with the body.

Muscle training can be defined as a more targeted approach, focusing on isolated muscle groups to achieve specific goals like muscle growth, strength, or rehabilitation. This includes exercises that isolate particular muscles, promoting size, definition, and addressing muscle imbalances.

So depending on what you need, they both have their place.

Movement Training is great for:

  1. Everyday Functional Movements: If the goal is to get better at the things you do day to day and move more easily through your day, movement training that engages multiple muscle groups will promote overall strength and functionality more efficiently than focusing on isolated muscle exercises.
  2. Enhancing Athletic Performance: For athletes, focusing on movement patterns relevant to your sport is key. Agility and multidirectional work will help improve on-field performance in many sports, emphasizing the integration of various muscle groups.
  3. Joint Stability and Mobility: Dynamic mobilising sequences and practices like yoga can contribute to overall joint health and reduce the risk of injuries.
  4. Mindful Body Connection: Incorporating mindful movement practices can cultivate a strong mind-body connection by emphasising fluid, controlled motions and enhancing perception of where your body is in space.

When to Consider Muscle Training:

  1. Targeted Hypertrophy Goals: If your main goal is muscle growth, targeted muscle training is essential. Isolation exercises like bicep curls or tricep extensions allow for specific muscle targeting, promoting size and definition.
  2. Rehabilitation and Isolation: For rehabilitation or muscle imbalances, muscle-specific training may be necessary to address specific weaknesses and promote balanced muscle development.
  3. Sport-Specific Strength: Athletes with sport-specific strength requirements may incorporate muscle-focused training. Weightlifting for example has specific needs and therefore very specific, isolated exercises need to be prioritised.

Understanding when to prioritize movement training versus muscle training is key to crafting a well-rounded routine. Whether your goal is improved everyday functionality, enhanced athletic performance, or targeted muscle development, both approaches can have their place.

Tailoring your workouts to align with your objectives is a key part of what I do.  If you’re considering starting an exercise programme, matching you with the best training methods is essential to reaching your goals. If you’d like to know more, I’d love to hear from you.