Redefining The Hierarchy of Fitness

hierarchy of fitness

Years ago I wrote about Redefining Langley Fitness with the Hierarchy of Fitness.

Now over 5 years later, I feel that it’s time to redefine this hierarchy.

See most things still hold true…

Your mindset is still the foundation of your fitness success as you can see from our original hierarchy here:

Because mindset is everything. Nothing is more important.

  • It’s the difference between you showing up to the gym when you don’t want to.
  • It’s the difference between you not eating the foods you want to eat when you know you shouldn’t.
  • It’s the difference between earning your carbs.
  • It’s pushing yourself a little harder when you know you can.
  • It’s taking it easier and listening to your body when you should as well (Like Wednesday and Saturday’s if you are coming 5-6x/week!)

And does your mindset affect anything more than nutrition? (Be honest with yourself…)

Good nutrition is honest and outcome based.
Said differently, good nutrition yields results… (or excuses if your mindset is not there in this aspect of your life).
It’s truly creating a molecular foundation in your body with the food you eat.

And any good foundation should be able to move pain free through a full range of motion.

Because unfortunately the average person still has a:

  • Weak core (because of too much sitting)
  • Weak mid back (think the trap 3 exercise to improve this)
  • Lack of shoulder extension/flexion (think dowel shoulder extension exercise to improve this)
  • Lack of hamstring strength and mobility/lives in ant. tilt (because of tight hip flexors)
  • Lack of calf mobility

And because proximal stability affects distal mobility, I now believe that core is more foundational than mobility.

Let’s define that crazy statement above: proximal means body parts closer to the middle of your body. Distal means body parts further away from the middle of your body. So if you want mobility in the arms and legs, you need stability in the muscles around your core.

Because some individuals no matter how much they stretch, may still not be able to produce a noticeable improvement in their mobility.

This is because a weak core will ask the other muscles connected to that joint to create the stability the core doesn’t have to protect the body.

For example, a weak core (and/or a weak pelvic floor), may cause the pelvis to tilt anteriorly (which causes an arch in the back or lumbar spine and may lead to chronic back pain).

This subsequent action will cause the hamstrings to actually lengthen (which is what happens when muscles are stretched), however because they are being lengthened without being stretched they actually will go into a protective mode of sorts and stay tight so this anterior tilt doesn’t get out of hand.

This is just one of the ways our body will adapt due to a weak core (which is far more than just situps and that 8 pack – it’s more related to bracing, breathing, and stabilizing the spine when you are not thinking about it)…

So mobility and core (stability) are still next on our list of importance.

And of course, even if you don’t have a fat loss goal, metabolic conditioning is still important, as it will improve your recovery between sets, help your movement during sets so you don’t get too fatigued in those 60 sec strength training movements and helps your heart rate recover between bouts of efforts.

But this is where the pyramid changes…

That’s because the hierarchy of fitness is actually different for lower body and upper body.

Think about it, when you are training lower body, of course a good foundation includes air squats, hip extensions, split squats and other bodyweight exercises before you move to weight training and power movements.

It’s absolutely the foundation of lower body training!

But when it comes to upper body, this is actually the reverse!

A person who is new to our gym is most likely not going to excel at upper body bodyweight exercises like pushups, dips, and pullups! That’s the last thing you would want to give them!

  • Instead, you can help them build a stronger foundation with upper body strength training!
  • Instead of pushups, we use a floor press or bench press to build the chest. We use skull crushers to build the triceps, and we start putting in modified bodyweight movements like elevated pushups so that they can get used to the movement.
  • Instead of pullups, we use trx rows, 1 arm rows, and bicep curls to build up the musculature in the upper body pulling movements.
  • Instead of dips, we use skull crushers, trx triceps, tricep kickbacks, etc…

The fact of the matter is, if you are training bodyweight for upper body training with a newer individual this is not the most logical thing to do. Bodyweight movements for the upper body are the absolute hardest movements in the gym for someone who is deconditioned, has some weight to lose, and just starting their fitness journey.

So here’s how we redefine the hierarchy of fitness:

hierarchy of fitness
This is just a small sample of the thought process that we go through when programming your group personal training sessions.

We think of all 400+ individuals in our gym, their strengths, their weaknesses, what most people need to improve on, a little bit of what you want, blended with a little bit of what you need, to give you a tough but fair workout session that has an appropriate relative intensity for everyone in the gym – no matter how fit you are!

Committed to your fitness success,
Josh Saunders, BS, CSCS