Written by: Paul DeAngelis
What is the most important factor in movement? If you come from a traditional fitness community, you might be tempted to say “strength”, or “power”, or even “motivation”. In actuality, it’s gravity.
Gravity is one of the first challenging forces we encounter as we grow up, since literally all movement is directed by it. Newborns trying to crawl, trying to stand, or trying to walk are facing it head on. Remember that movement, in essence, is the shifting of body weight in order to change from one position to another. What are you working against in order to complete these shifts in body weight? Gravity.
You can try to use as much muscular energy as you like, working only to bulk up and gain mass. But until you understand that gravity dictates all possible movements, you won’t be able to become faster, stronger, or more efficient.
So how can you harness the power of gravity and increase efficiency? One way is to watch and analyze the world’s top performers (something I’ve spent a lot of time doing); the reason they’re the best movers in the world is because they use gravity to their advantage, strategically making each movement easier for themselves. The way they do this is “falling” from one position to the next, using as little muscular energy as possible during the fall stages, and only re-engaging to assume the next ideal position.
A great example is to look at dancers. They make it look easy, right? That’s because their entire skill set is based on using gravity! The flow between steps and positions is actually them “falling”; shifting their body weight, then reassuming positions on cue. They’ve figured out how to work WITH the laws of nature, not against them.
Another example is children; the most natural movers in the world! The fantastic thing about children is that they don’t know their own limits because they haven’t hit them yet. They reach their top speeds, smiles plastered across their faces, genuinely enjoying dispersing energy. They’re masters at falling when they move without even thinking about it, so they’re able to do it for hours on end.
So how can YOU learn to harness gravity the way children, dancers, and Olympians use it? Two words: let go. You can’t get comfortable throwing your body weight around if you’re constantly fighting against it. Gravity is going to be around forever, so you only stand to benefit learning how to use it!