What Is MovNat?
MovNat is a system of Natural Movement instruction. It’s different from traditional strength training in that it does not rely on a gym or gym equipment. It also relies on full range of motion movements instead of prescribed exercises. It is scalable in numerous ways and highly adaptable.
The MovNat Movement Groups
MovNat is broken down into three groups of movements. They are locomotive, manipulative, and combative.
Locomotive skills move you through your environment. This group includes crawling, walking, running, climbing, balancing, and swimming.
Manipulative skills are the skills you use to move your environment around you and include lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching.
And combative skills are the skills you use to defend yourself like striking and grappling.
MovNat teaches these whole movements so that student learn how to use their bodies as integrated wholes rather than breaking these movements down and training them in pieces like traditional strength training.
Because of the integrated nature of the human body and the fact that neurology controls movements there is a major problem with the isolation exercises (like bicep curls) generally applied in typical fitness programs. The body never learns how to integrate all the movement parts into a complete movement.
You do leg extensions and leg curls and calf raises, but that doesn’t mean your body has learned how to squat. All these isolation exercises don’t translate well to the real world and therefore don’t create efficient strength.
In fact, they may lead to injuries because it is much easier to develop muscle imbalances and inefficient movement patterns when performing isolation exercises compared to performing complete movements. The stronger you are when using inefficient movement patterns the more likely you are to damage your body.
Be Strong To Be Useful
One of the tenants of MovNat is that you need to be strong to be useful, or as it was put in one of my favorite ways –
“Strong people are harder to kill than weak people and more useful in general.”
― Mark Rippetoe
Strength is a skill that has to be learned. It is much more than just big muscles. And for strength to be useful, it must be applicable to the real world. Real strength is helpful all day every day, not just at a competition or in a game.
MovNat doesn’t focus on getting strong by repeating the same exercises and just adding weight as you improve. Movements are made more challenging by evolving the movement and changing the environment you apply the movement in. Yes weight can be increased, but instead, a balance aspect can be added, footing can be changed, the shape of the weight can be changed, or the movement itself can be changed to a more complex version.
An example of a movement evolution that can start very simple and eventually become very complex is a simple suitcase carry. Just walk 10 feet with a kettlebell in your hand. Easy right? Now do that same walk while balancing on a 2x4. And now add some things to step over and duck under. Ok, try going backward at the end of the 2x4. All of this makes the movement much more challenging without changing the weight. It forces you to adjust to a changing environment.
This complexity of movement builds neural connections so that you can better recruit the muscle you have. This is the way you build strength. Strength is a skill that needs to be developed. It will develop as a consequence of practicing dynamic, evolving, full range of motion movements.
MovNat Teaches Strength As A Consequence Of Movement Efficiency
Proper application of technique is an important part of strength. MovNat teaches movement efficiency, not how to build strength. Building more efficient movement patterns will create strength as a consequence. The less movement you waste the more energy you put directly into the movement.
Since building quality movement patterns is the focus of training you will also lower your risk of injury. The vast majority of injuries are actually overuse and misuse injuries. By using your body correctly you largely mitigate misuse injuries and by training movement skills instead of training muscles, there is much less chance for overuse injuries.
MovNat skills are taught in a progressive manner that keeps students from training skills at a complexity that greatly risks injury. Injury risk management is a huge part of MovNat workout design. Movements aren’t made more complex until a baseline performance level is reached on the less complex movement pattern.
MovNat Is For Everyone
There is no basic level of conditioning to start a MovNat program. Since the skills are adaptable for anyone, anyone can start in the MovNat system at any time. Everyone has movement inefficiencies. Correcting these movement inefficiencies is the heart of MovNat coaching and these corrections will change the way you move throughout the day.
You Will Still Build Muscle Doing MovNat
Just because building muscle and getting stronger isn’t the focus of MovNat training doesn’t mean that you won’t build muscle. Movements are progressive and as you become more competent you will move onto more challenging movements. As a consequence, your body will build the muscle it needs to efficiently perform these movements.
The difference between this and strength-based training is that you will build functional muscle. Instead of building a body that looks good so people think you are fit, you will be building a body that is fit so it looks good. This subtle difference has dramatic implications for how well you use your body.