We like to push. We feel good about pushing. Pushing feels powerful. It allows us to impose our will. When we are tired we are told to push ourselves, we push our athletes. We push through the pain. We push our kids to do well in school.
In my old days at the gym I liked to push. Bench press, overhead press, tricep press, leg press, leg extensions, maybe even calf raises. These are all pushing. I was more likely to focus on those movements and leave the others for “if I had time”.
I have some theories on why this is:
- We like the muscles we can see in the mirror, and those are the ones most affected by pushing
- Our Western way of life does not typically require a large amount of pulling on things so we have become “front-body dominant”
We call the front-body muscles—developed mostly by pushing—the “show” muscles. But we call the back-body muscles—mostly developed by pulling—the “go” muscles.
In functional movement (i.e. exercises especially useful in actually accomplishing tasks), the pulling muscles and the act of pulling takes significantly more priority to pushing.
When we speak of pulling we are talking about things like:
- Picking things up
These are functions you are performing daily. This is why a well-developed back/hamstrings is a surer sign of fitness than a well-developed chest.
In the first paragraph, I alluded to pushing metaphorically. In our culture, pushing is synonymous with motivating. But what about pulling?
What if instead of pushing, we focused on pulling. Pushing forces me to get BEHIND something while pulling forces me to get IN FRONT.
To push something, I get behind it and try to force it to move forward to a new place. But to pull it, I have to get where I want it to be, and then pull it to where I once was as I move further along.
What if instead of pushing our kids to eat right, work hard, get good grades, never give up… we pulled them to do those things. This means we have to get where we want them to go first. This means we have to be the example.
Instead of, “Hey, you should go do that.” It becomes, “Hey you should come do this!” Instead of “Eat like that.” It becomes “Eat like this.” Instead of “Act like that.” It becomes, “Act like this.”
People, especially kids, don’t really give a shit what you say. It is very hard to hear over what you actually do.
What if we pulled each other to a higher, better place? Sounds great, right? But this means we, ourselves, have to get their first.
If you need help getting there so that you can help bring people to that place with you, that is our specialty.