365 Ways #269–The MENS System Posted on November 12, 2010, 0 Comments

#269--It’s not just for guys anymore. Never was, really. The MENS system stands for Minimal Electrical Neuromuscular Stimulation, and it’s one of the concepts by which the body works. To put it simply, it means that the body will use as little energy/stimulation necessary in order to accomplish a specified task. This fact is critical to grasp as it pertains to your exercise program. If you’re working out on machines, there is no need to:

Condition stabilizers and neutralizers in relation to the prime movers
Maintain your center of gravity over your own base of support
Integrate upper and lower extremity function
Train dynamic stability as well as static stability
Switch between righting reactions and tilting or equilibrium reactions
Be proficient at both closed and open-chain movements.
Develop high levels of inter as opposed to intra-muscular coordination

You don’t need to do any of these essential functions (which, for those complaining some of my posts are too full of technical jargon, can find their respective definitions in my book–Holistic Strength Training for Triathlon should be released by the end of the year), because the machines DO IT FOR YOU! And unless you can plan on going grocery shopping while seated on your shoulder press machine or playing tennis with your back extension machine strapped to your backside, all of that “fitness” you’ve developed in the gym will not help you once you’re in the real world. In fact, it’s going to hurt you.

When your muscles are asked to work outside the confines of the machines, they literally don’t know how to act. Three dimensions and stabilization are subjects they haven’t mastered during the thousands of guided repetitions performed in the sagittal plane. So though you might be able to pick up those 40lb jugs of water and take them to your car, pieces of you that you can’t see are falling apart or bumping against each other and getting inflamed. And while your answer may be swallowing some Advil or the orthopod’s idea that you’re “just getting older,” the real solution comes simply from exercising in a way that prepares you for the demands of your job or your sport or your life.