Despite the broiest title I’ve yet to come up with, Always Be Lifting is, again, a matter of perspective and habit rather than a directive to “get them gainz.” You don’t always need to be in the gym, obvi.
Movement is a skill. And as we’re all well aware, skills take a fair amount of consciousness and effort to develop before they become second nature. Lifting things is no exception.
In The Gym
It seems relatively easy to convince someone that proper form might be important when lifting weights. The issue, though, is in categorizing “when lifting weights.” It’s often interpreted as “when performing an exercise,” which sort of misses the boat.
Say you plan to do some lunges with a weight on your back. The “lifting weights” by most accounts would be “stepping forward, bending down, touching the rear knee to the ground, and standing back up.” What’s neglected in this definition is carrying said weight over to the spot where you intend to do the lunges, despite the fact that you’re literally lifting a weight.
If you think this sounds like a silly bit of nuance, go spend five minutes watching people in a big box gym. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who gives this preparation even the slightest bit of attention. It’s quite interesting to watch someone move a barbell from one spot to another, slump over to dump it on the ground, and then proceed to perform several sets of strict deadlifts.
There’s Only One Front Kick
I grew up practicing and teaching taekwondo, and we used to have a saying: “There’s only one front kick.” OK, I don’t remember if that was actually a saying or not, but I do know it was definitely a concept we instilled in our students.
The idea goes that, despite which activity you’re practicing (forms, sparring, board breaking, etc.), your front kick should be executed in the same way. You do not have a hardcore front kick that you perform when breaking a board; a different, faster one for sparring; and yet another, prettier one for performing a form. The only difference, essentially, is where you aim (if you throw a powerful kick straight at your opponent that lands ⅛” in front of them, you physically cannot harm them).
Why is this important? Habit! Muscle memory. Instinct. Reflex. If you have three distinct versions of a front kick that you practice in relatively equal amounts, how might you control which one presents itself when you need to use it in a threatening situation? Do you kick that mugger with your pretty front kick, or the baddass, board-breaking one?
It’s ALL Heavy
Much the same as how you shouldn’t have different front kicks for different activities, you shouldn’t have different movement patterns for lifting different things of different weights in different situations.
Movement is movement is movement, and the same rules apply whether you’re lifting a barbell off the floor or helping your friend move a couch. There should be no difference in how you move based on how heavy you expect or know an object to be. If you move as though everything is going to be heavy, you will always be prepared when something is heavy, expectedly or not.