The Distinction Between Movement and Exercise: Part 2

In part 1 of this series on “The Distinction Between Exercise and Movement,” we began discussing Ken Hutchins outline of  the “Five Distinctions Between Exercise and Recreation.” 
Exercise                          Recreation
Logical                             Instinctive
Universal                          Personal
General                            Specific
Physical                            Mental
Not Fun                             Fun

Previously, we discussed Logical versus Instinctive. This week we will take a look at Universal versus Personal and General versus Specific.

 Universal/Personal and General/Specific
I am discussing these together because they are similar discussions. When it comes to exercise or training, we all have similar and general needs. For example, we all have the same muscle and joint functions. In general, we all require the same type of movement. For our overall health and fitness it is essential to have the mobility to perform basic movement patterns and develop strength in those patterns.

Basic Movement Patterns
Vertical Pull
Vertical Push
Horizontal Pull
Horizontal Push
Hollow Body

These movements are both universal and general for everyone who is interested in moving well and having the freedom to move. What exercises, and how you choose to perform these movements would be more personal and specific. Your specific goals can also influence how you choose to perform these movements.

One example of a simple and yet very effective, safe, and efficient program based on these principles consist of the “Big 5” exercises popularized by Dr. Doug McGuff in his book, “Body by Science.” This program consists of the leg press, chest press, row, overhead press, and pull down.  These exercises address all the basic movements except for the hinge which can be trained via back extension or deadlift. Truly mastering these fundamental exercises and movements and striving to consistently progress in them can provide a lifetime of meaningful work but will also lead to a lifetime of health and fitness. 

You can choose to do more sports specific training but my advice is to first develop the above fundamental movements and exercises. Attempting to do the more complex movements before developing a sound base with the fundamentals can lead to higher risk of injury. We witnessed this as an issue during our time as a CrossFit affiliate when some would rush to learn the clean or snatch without first developing solid technique and adequate strength in the squat and deadlift. We also saw this with some of the volleyball athletes when their sport coaches wondered why we weren’t performing olympic lifts in their training in order to increase their vertical jump. It was our opinion that it would be unwise and downright dangerous with most of them who still had difficulty performing a good body weight squat.  Another potential issue that can arise when making decisions about the optimal exercise is that we some times develop an emotional attachment to a certain form or method of movement and can’t see another way of achieving our primary goal. For me, I realize that I had developed an attachment to the power lifts (squat, bench, deadlift). I continued to perform these lifts even when they caused joint pain and despite the fact that I had previously gotten good results using a SuperSlow protocol. Reflecting on the fact that my goal of gaining strength and muscle was primary and not my ability to demonstrate strength in a specific exercise led me back to a training method that allows me reach my goal without pain. 

One of the most rewarding experiences as a coach is to be able to give a client/student a different perspective or option on how to achieve their goals.  This testimonial from Sam Hunter is a great example of this:

By the time I got to Billy at Alliance I had not lifted weights or done any resistance
training for 5-6 years. My joints hurt with varying degrees of pain, but pretty much all the
time. I was in my early 60’s and I knew I could not go the rest of my life without weight
training, but I was quite frankly feeling hopeless.
I had tried personal trainers, but I could not find anyone who was sensitive to my past
workout mindset, as well as my age, and what my wife called, “My broken-down athlete
Now after two years I am back! My wife even says, “I got my husband back.”
Billy, and his approach to training has been the best thing that has happened to me in a
long time. I am stronger, and I feel great. My joints do not hurt at all – a miracle.
Billy knows how to build up your workout in such a way that after a while you realize,
“Hey, I am stronger, and I am working harder than I imagined possible, yet I have no
I actually enjoy my time with Billy and hope to be doing this at 75.”

Commit  •  Show Up  •  Don’t Quit  •  Be Uncommon  •  Be Your Best Self– Billy