Official Website of Sarah E. Rippel, BS, CPT, FMS

-The “I Don’t Feel It” Phenomenon-


I was just over at John Izzo’s blog, reading his latest post, which is titled “Missing the Forest for the Trees.”  If you haven’t checked out his site and/or blog, I highly recommend that you do so!  He’s got some great info – not only for the personal trainer, but for the educated exerciser as well.  I own his “Stronger Shoulders” and “Moving More Muscles” DVD’s.  Both are excellent!

John’s post got me thinking about a few things, the main one which I decided to write about today.  I’m calling it the “I Don’t Feel It” Phenomenon.

Let me explain.

An exercise such as the Crab Walk would be a prime candidate for the “I Don’t Feel It” Phenomenon.  To the average Joe, this is a relatively-easy-looking albeit goofy exercise that looks like something their three-year-old would happily do.  They might ask, “why do I need to do that?”  My response would be:

“It’s a total-body movement, more specifically, it’s a crawling pattern.  It emphasizes cross-body patterning, which gets your nervous system fired-up and many believe improves mental function.  You’re using your legs and your arms while a ton of work is being done by your glutes, abs, and scapular stabilizers.  You’re in a supine position which discourages protraction of the shoulders and shouldn’t cause any neck strain.  Also, it can be pretty challenging and fun at the same time.  Oh, and I just want to be entertained by watching you crawl across the floor!”

Okay, we can leave that last bit out! 🙂

So, I have “average Joe” perform 20 yards of backwards crab walks.  He gets finished and is a little winded, and says “I don’t feel it.”  What do you tell him then?  

Here’s the deal:  you’re not gonna “feel” an exercise such as crab walks if you have that “feel the burn” mentality.  Bodypart training  is simply asenine in my opinion, if you’re wanting to improve body composition, strength, and overall conditioning.  Many people have “bodypart training” on the brain simply because that’s all they’re used to.  Their training has involved countless sets of biceps curls, lateral raises, triceps kickbacks, and calf raises.  Their workout week breaks down so that each bodypart has it’s own “special day” at the gym.  You can’t blame them, for this is all they know.  Bodypart training produces the “burn” that so many people seek.  Is the “burn” necessary for results?  No.  Is the “burn” an indicator of a good workout?  Heck no.  Training in this manner is definitely better than not training at all BUT I believe it’s definitely not the most effective method.

So, if you don’t “feel it,” does it mean you didn’t do diddly? 

Of course not.

You see, multi-joint movements aren’t going to produce the same kind of “burn.”  They will most definitely produce fatigue.  They will most definitely encourage better function through a chorus of muscles being called to action.  More muscles working = improved conditioning and metabolic “burn.”  Multi-joint movements should make up the bulk of an exercise program if the goal is a leaner body and improved performance.  Yes, exercises such as these are tougher than exercises that isolate a specific muscle group and produce that coveted “burn.”  

A set of crab walks is obviously more physically demanding than a set of dumbbell curls.

So, which would you rather do?

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3 responses

  1. i love crab walks and they do most certainly fatigue if you do them enough. for a while we were only doing bodyweight exercises and crab walks were def on the list.
    now if your clients are feeling “cheated” on the crab walking, you could offer them the demonic komodo walk instead. its a walking push ups, with alternating hands/feet with the hip dipping each way… 35 yards of these is the devil- video of me doing them here b/c its tricky to explain-

    December 15, 2008 at 10:31 am

  2. Crab walk. Yeah. I’ll try it – maybe. Post before and after pics. Though I need another blog for that.

    January 15, 2011 at 12:55 am

    • It’s a lot of fun! 😀

      January 18, 2011 at 1:28 pm

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