Think about walking into a commercial gym- what are you going to see a lot of?
I would bet you would see a lot of squats, bench press, and deadlifts. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with those exercises, but there is a key element of training that most people and personal trainers overlook. That is the element is alternation.
What is alternation? It is opposing movement of the arm and legs. This is something you do every time you take a step. As your right leg comes forward, your left arm goes forward. This happens while your left leg goes back with your right arm. That is alternation.
However, when most individuals exercise, they don’t consider this quality of movement. They perform exercises in a neutral stance with a ribcage that doesn’t move. If this is all you do at a gym, you can expect to stiffen your ribcage over time, leading to an inability to alternate when you move. This can lead to all sorts of aliments such as back pain and shoulder pain, as different areas of the body will try to make up for movement that should be available through your ribcage.
This is an individual who cannot move through their ribcage. Notice the lack of arm swing and overall stiffness to their movement.
So we must train alternation in our exercise programs. Why would we not train qualities that are essential for living a pain-free life? Here are a few examples of exercises that train alternation: