During the recent months, we have educated our self a lot, a lot of changes have gone through our gym. The influence Strongfit has in our classes doesn’t limit itself to the Strongfit classes. Nearly every WOD class starts with an opener these days.
In this blog, I want to give you guys a bit more in-depth information about the two chains of torque. I will go into the anatomy of the chains, a quick introduction into nervous systems and how these chains work a part of the nervous system including breathing and why we chose to follow Strongfit principles.
The two chains, Internal and external torque.
Internal ‘inner parts or features’ and torque ‘apply torque or a twisting force to (an object)’. How to visualize this is, rotating inwards to your body. The muscles we use during this movement; pecs, teres major, medial head of the bi’ & tri’s, the front part of the deltoid, external oblique the two inner hamstrings and the inner quad.
One thing all of these muscles have in common; internal rotation.
By activating these muscles internal rotation will occur, this is what we want when we are doing internal movements. Movement patterns which fill within IT are the hinge and push. Think of deadlifts, push-up, and a rope pull. During these movements, we want to use the IT torque. If you coach ever pokes you in the ext. oblique or perhaps feels to see if the upper traps are on is to find out if you are in IT torque. I will come back to this point later in the why.
External ‘the outward features of something’ and torque ‘apply torque or a twisting force to (an object)’. This time visualize this as rotation away from your body. The muscles we use during this movement; upper traps, lateral head of the biceps and two outer parts of the triceps, middle and outer part of the deltoid, rectus abdominis (six-pack), latissimus dorsi (your ‘wings’), outer quad, the outer hamstrings. These muscles you want to use during ET movements, the squat and pull.
The nervous system can best be seen like the format of a family tree in the sense that one ‘branch’ will separate and another two will separate from that same ‘branch’. It can be divided into the CNS (central nervous system) this is the spinal cord and the brain. And the peripheral NS this is everything outside of the spinal cord. Once a nerve exits the spinal cord it becomes peripheral. This can then be divided into autonomic and somatic.
Somatic is your conscious part of the PNS, you will actively be able to use this, think of moving your fingers, doing a squat or flexing your biceps to show off your hard-earned #gainz.
The autonomic part is the part on which you don’t have control to some extent (more info later on). This involves; body temperature (sweating), metabolism or the production of the tears when no one notices your #gainz. The autonomic division can further be divided into the sympathetic and the parasympathetic system. If you have attended a Strongfit class at CFL you most likely will have heard of the terms being used.
The sympathetic nervous system, this is where the fight, flight or freeze happens. If you happen to be attacked by a tiger on your way back from the gym you can fight the tiger, flight (highly recommend this) or freeze in front of it. These decisions come through this system. After this attack, you will come down to a more chilled and resting phase; the parasympathetic nervous system. This allows your body to relax, lower your heart rate etc. and return back to homeostasis.
Now coming onto the topic of how to affect the autonomic division. The way we breathe is a way how we can increase our parasympathetic activity and remain in a calmer state. By actively being conscious and trying to focus on slow and deep breathing studies have shown a big increase in parasympathetic activity. This way you will be able to make more reps and more #gainz in the long run.
So if you are being attacked by a tiger or feel like a workout is kicking your ass try and breath, slow and deep. This allows your sympathetic nervous system to ease off and increase the parasympathetic activity allowing you to regain control and we have even found we are able to make more reps (no scientific research).
Now the why
The reason we chose to implement the Strongfit principles is that in CrossFit we see a lot of external torque on a lot of movements which are actually internal. This will lead to hypertrophy of the wrong chain of muscles and create muscles imbalances. Muscle imbalances can increase the chance of injuries or get you stuck on a training plateau. Crossfitters are known for this, massive upper traps and erector spinae’s (the cable like muscle running alongside the spine). And relatively speaking smaller middle and lower traps and pecs (I will go more into anatomy during this week). This is because of the manner we perform our exercises in. For example; not hinging during a deadlift will force the erectors to work overtime, using your traps during pull-ups.
Think of it as an arch. IT on one side ET on the other side. In an ideal world this scale would be in the center this would mean you as an athlete are balanced. By performing a lot of movements in an ET manor the arch will go more to the ET side making you unbalanced and increasing your risk of injury.