Smart Body or Dumb Body?


You have a choice: Do you think your body is smart or do you think your body is dumb? Lets look at the two viewpoints of the body, the dumb body approach and the smart body approach.The dumb body approach looks at the body in segments with training and rehab consisting of putting the pieces together, essentially assembling building blocks. It is linear, reductionist, and mechanistic. The emphasis is on correcting dysfunctions and balancing out asymmetries with corrective exercises. The dumb body approach focuses on muscles and then looks for exercises that develop those muscles. In conditioning the models are based on training each energy system in isolation and carefully separating neural from metabolic in clean and convenient training packages. In skill learning and coaching the dumb body approach breaks the skills into separate discrete segments and teaches step by step.

The smart body approach takes advantage of the body’s inherent wisdom through emphasis on connections and linkages. It recognizes that the body is self-organizing and highly adaptable. Smart body training recognizes context and builds on relationships between all systems of the body. The emphasis is on training movements. It recognizes the muscles have different functions based on the movement required to achieve a specific task. Sport scientist Roger Enoka put it best: “The function of a muscle depends on the context in which it is activated.” In conditioning the smart body recognizes that there is a synergistic relationship between all systems of the body. They all work together to produce efficient movement. The emphasis is on the process and constant refinement of the process to produce higher levels of adaption. In skill learning and refinement the smart body approach allows the body to solve movement problems through exploration. The process is guided by providing progressively more difficult movement problems for the body to solve.

Obviously I weigh in on the smart body choice. There’s no question that the body is highly adaptable and self-organizing which gives it an incredible ability to adapt to radical extremes in terms of environment and all the various stressors that can be placed upon it. Look around and see movement with different eyes. If you need more clues to the smart body watch a baby as it grows and starts to solve the different movement problems presented by its ever expanding environment. Recognizing that the body is smart will open a whole mew vista in training and rehab. There are no limits beyond your imagination and creativity as a coach, teacher or rehab specialist. Look for possibilities not limitations and dysfunctions; give the body credit for its wisdom and then coach, teach and rehab accordingly. Enjoy the process and marvel at the discoveries.

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.
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Vern Gambetta

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