Are you a lean and tall ectomorph? An hourglass mesomorph? Or a pear-shaped endomorph? Our bodies come in different shapes and sizes. In the same way, our fitness goals may also differ, therefore the questions of how we should train and whether Essentrics is sufficient for us depend on our fitness goals.
Fitness Goal - What's Yours?
Most of us would say we wish to stay fit by working out, although "fit" means many things to many people. It is safe to say, however, that we all aspire to stay functional, pain free, comfortable in our body, and independent at any age. To do so, we need a balanced body with both functional strength and flexibility, a good sense of balance, and a body that can execute its full range of motion.
Beyond functional fitness, being and becoming "fit" can also mean the following to us:
- Weight loss & body fat reduction
- Toning, shaping and sculpting
- Hypertrophy (muscle building)
- Enhancing athletic performance (such as speed, power, agility)
- Increasing cardiac capacity
- Train for an event
- Stress reduction
- Brain-body/Mind-body connection
What Essentrics addresses
Functional fitness: Essentrics delivers most of the goals listed above. As a fully-body functional workout, it conditions everything from muscles to bones, joints, and fascia. It also balances strength and flexibility, in addition to improving speed, balance, mobility and power. By working the body on all planes and across all axes, and by using full rotational movements to engage all +650 muscles, the comprehensive workout suffices as standalone program for functional fitness. Doing Essentrics three to seven times a week will help us rapidly reach this goal. (Even if we can only do it once or twice a week, we will still benefit.)
Beyond functional fitness, Essentrics also helps to manage our weight as many movements engage our mitochondria - energy producing/calorie burning cells that are most abundant in our thighs. The eccentric technique in the program also tones, shapes and sculpts our musculature. By strengthening in lengthened positions, the workout creates a lean, long and sculpted look. By working both fast and slow twitch muscle fibers, and by improving our joint mobility - especially those in our feet, the workout also improves our speed, power, agility, and therefore, our overall athletic performance. In other words, Essentrics helps us to achieve most of the common fitness goals beyond functional fitness.
When To Add Other Training
Maximum heart rate. Most of us who have done Essentrics know that while the workout looks deceptively easy, it can be challenging and certainly lift our heart rates to a moderate level. In fact, Essentrics delivers full cardiorespiratory benenfits. However, if for any reason we wish to workout at our maximize heart rate, we should incorporate additional training such as sprinting.
Hypertrophy. Similarly, while Essentrics strengthens and builds lean, long muscles, if our goal is to bulk up then we should incorporate concentric weight training, or strengthening muscles in shortened positions. Note that during concentric training (such as lifting external weights), the weight is pulled towards the center/the body ("concentric" means towards the center). This compresses our joints. Maintaining Essentrics as part of our workout regimen will safeguard our joints by preventing them from over compression and inflammation.
Training for an event. If we wish to train for an event such as the marathon, then obviously we need to add a regular and progressive running schedule in addition to our Essentrics routine. Since most sports do not fully engage the full body, it is important to keep Essentrics as part of our overall conditioning to stay balanced.
Spirituality. Essentrics movements are great for connecting the body and the brain because of the neuromuscular techniques embedded. This brain-body synergy is a great foundation for enhancing our mind-body connection, regardless of how we choose to define the "mind." Essentrics is a secular program, therefore if we wish to incorporate workouts with an explicit focus on spirituality, then we can include training with that kind of approach. That said, many people find the dynamic stretching in Essentrics wonderful for stress release, while the concentration and awareness required in the moderately paced movements to be soothing and calming - both mentally and physically. Indeed, some would argue that when done with focus and body awareness, any sport can be an immersive spiritual experience.
Variety for Variety's Sake?
Some of us feel that we should add other training to Essentrics because it is good to have variety. What we really desire is variety in movements to avoid overusing the same muscles or joints. It is perfectly fine to do a variety of workouts if this is what we enjoy, because that motivates us to stay active. But for the sake of full body fitness and avoiding overuse, adding other training to Essentrics for variety is unnecessary. As we have discussed earlier, Essentrics embodies diverse movements that engage our full body and its full range of motion across all planes and axes.
Ascertaining Our Goals
Understanding what we mean by "fit" and clarifying what we wish to achieve will help to decide how we should train. Whatever training we add to Essentrics, it helps enormously if we do the ones we enjoy in order to stay motivated!