Behind Bulletproof Bodies with Ross Clifford

Ross Clifford, co-author of Bulletproof Bodies: Body-weight Exercise for Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation, explains some of the book’s ‘Key Points’.

Soft tissue and bone breakdown and repair happens on a daily basis; it is a normal process that happens in response to the forces acting on your body.

This Key Point underpins much of the reason for the book – the body tissues are dynamic. There is a constant process of demolition and construction within the muscle-bone system. Physical stresses on the body influence this process but not necessarily in the negative way you might think. A great example of the positive effect of physical stress on the muscle-bone system is the astronaut who returns to Earth after a prolonged period in space. Their muscles struggle to hold them up against Earth’s gravity and their bones begin to show features of osteoporosis, or bone thinning. Why? Because their bodies have undergone the normal breakdown, but have lacked the stimulus of their body weight (their mass combined with the pull of gravity) to stimulate the growth and repair process. So if you want to maintain a strong muscle-bone system start pulling your weight – literally.

With bodyweight exercise the wrist functions under load and reverses the relationship between the hand and arm by fixing the hand to create movement of the arm / body.

I include this Key Point here to illustrate a major factor in using body-weight exercise – the relationship between body segments is often reversed. Take a standard gym exercise such as a bicep curl. The elbow bends and the forearm and wrist move towards the fixed upper arm. Now think of a chin-up – the elbow bends like before but this time the mobile upper arm moves towards the fixed wrist. In your mind compare the movements involved in the standard bench-press exercise with those of the press-up. In one the hands are moved relative to the body, in the other the body is lifted and lowered over the fixed hands. Both work the chest muscles and the triceps muscles of the arms. One requires specialised kit and location. The other can be done in many locations with minimal cost. More importantly, the body-weight exercises use multiple muscles at any one time and can be used for functional gains related to moving your body relative to the world around you.

Unlike the shoulder joint, the hip joint trades mobility for weight-bearing ability.

The hip joint lacks movement compared with the shoulder, despite both being very mobile ‘ball and socket’ joints. The hip needs more stability to take the load of the body but even so it has a huge potential for movement. On an average day how much of the available movement do you make use of? If you sit down you might get the hips to 90 degrees, but they can potentially bend to 125 degrees. When you stand the hips might reach a neutral extension position, but did you know they can potentially extend further. We haven’t even touched on the rotations available or the fact that you can abduct the hip outwards. When was the last time you moved your hip into these ranges? If you don’t use these ranges of motion regularly then eventually you may lose them. If you have already lost a large degree of hip movement then get an assessment from a qualified health or medical professional, such as a registered physiotherapist. You never know, your hip movement may be improved with some simple exercises. Body-weight exercise may be just one way in which you can maintain or restore that hip movement.

For a further insight into Bulletproof Bodies, order your copy here.