The Body is Not a Machine


The mechanistic view of the body is passé. The body is not a machine, you can’t turn muscles on and off, and there are no switches to activate or deactivate muscles or for that matter energy systems. I struggle to understand what is going on when I hear statements like “the glute is not firing” or “I need to activate that muscle.” Statements like that demean the wisdom of the body; the body is so much smarter than that. Muscles do not turn on and off, they are always on, within one movement a muscle can perform many different functions depending on the requirements of the task, the movement problem that is being solved. Muscles do not work in isolation, they in work in synergy with other muscles to produce smooth efficient movement. When there is a problem with the movement it is usually a problem of coordination between muscle groups. I think the problem arises because of the way we are taught traditional anatomy that focuses on individual muscles and how they are innervated. It is a mentally convenient approach that does not reflect the realities of movement. We do not move and function in the anatomical position. The body is designed to solve movement problems, as coaches, teachers and therapists we need to present the body with increasingly complex problems to solve. Different individuals find different solutions to the same problem – that is OK. That is what makes the body special. If we all did everything the same we would be robots and all we would have to do would reprogram and replace parts. Frankly as a coach that does not appeal to me. I love the variability and the challenge of helping guide the athlete toward solutions to their movement problems. It is a constant challenge that resists a formulaic approach. I must use sound principles and apply them individually. I urge you to embrace the challenge.

Vern Gambetta

Vern Gambetta

Director at Gambetta Sports Training Systems
Vern is the Director of Gambetta Sports Training Systems. He has been the a conditioning coach for several MLS teams as well as the conditioning consultant to the US Men's World Cup Soccer team. Vern is the former Director of Conditioning for the Chicago White Sox and New York Mets. He has lectured and conducted clinics in Canada, Japan, Australia and Europe and has authored six books and over one hundred articles related to coaching and sport performance in a variety of sports. He has a BA in teaching with a coaching minor and an MA in Education with an emphasis in physical education from Stanford University.
Vern Gambetta


Athletic Development Coach & Consultant. Founder of GAIN Network. Proud dad. Love to read everything.
RT @GreatestQuotes: Your aspirations are your possibilities. - Samuel Johnson - 4 years ago
Vern Gambetta

Latest posts by Vern Gambetta (see all)