If you’ve ever been to the gym, you’ve heard it before. Some jacked up dude under a loaded bar making noises only comparable to rough sex or indigestion. The instantly recognizable “grunter” seems to be a staple in any gym setting. Regardless of how you feel about it, grunting is a primal instinct. It’s raw, unedited effort expression brought forth through strenuous activity. It’s a natural act that needs to be embraced and TRAINED instead of frowned upon.
Some of you may be less than impressed with the act of grunting. Perhaps it makes you feel uncomfortable or awkward, maybe even self-conscious. If this is the case, it’s time to cut the shit and get raw. Forget about “saving face” or blending in because that’s not what will get you results. Like I said, grunting is a PRIMAL, unedited expression of EFFORT, the thing that will ensure your success.
For those who know me, I am a huge advocate of the grunt. I try to ensure everyone who steps through the doors of Iron Performance Center understands the benefits of grunting as it pertains to their own training. In short, I feel if you suppress a positive primal instinct, you’re missing out on tremendous growth and results. So with that, here are my top 3 reasons why you need to start grunting.
1) Greater Muscle Fiber Involvement
The grunt has been compared to the “fight or flight” response that typically comes to fruition in stressful situations. An activity or event that requires maximal effort (even sub-max effort) needs the most musculature possible to respond. Grunting allows this to happen. There is a reason you see athletes involved in strength/power type sports (tennis comes to mind) grunting during competitions. It helps their performance! Need proof? No problem.
Research out of Drexel University and studies published in the Public Library of Science demonstrate evidence that suggest grunting can improve strength/power output anywhere from 9-25% when compared to regular breathing. Reason? Grunting is hypothesized to increase motor unit recruitment resulting in greater muscle fiber activation. Looking to break a record? Grunt.
2) Increased Stability
Grunting enhances core activation as you maximize intra-abdominal pressure. This increased pressure leads to a stronger trunk “brace” during your lifts. A stronger brace allows you to complete exercises with better control and with a decreased chance of “buckle”. Less buckle means a higher success rate. Your grunt is like strapping on an invisible weight belt. Simple enough right?
This is especially important for unilateral (single limb/side) training. The balance requirement becomes extremely elevated when under load on one side. This means there will be a higher demand for movement control during the exercise. Your trunk will need to rise to the occasion. Grunting will give your body it’s best chance to perform unbalanced movement with full range of motion and CONTROL. This is extremely important.
3) Safety During Exercise
Building on stability, a stronger trunk means stronger mechanics. Stronger technical mechanics means safer, more effective lifting habits. Controlled muscles are safe muscles. For those of you thinking about responding with “don’t lift heavy”, know that we respect your decision to remain fragile. Light weights may be for you but it’s just not our thing.
I can understand feeling awkward or a little uncomfortable with the notion of grunting but try to look at it from another angle. You are unleashing a primal instinct to produce maximal effort results. You are literally going beast mode. It’s something to embrace, not be ashamed of. If your current gym frowns upon grunting in it’s policies, find another gym. Hard work and effort need to be encouraged as a demonstration of trying one’s best. Any fitness facility that refrains from effort is one I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole. Don’t get sucked in to a world of effortless exercise while thinking that’s how it’s done. We both know it doesn’t work that way. So chalk up your hands and get a bar on your back. It’s time to #FindYourGrunt.
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Matrixx specializes in adolescent athletic development. He coaches some of the top athlete prospects coming out of high school in the Niagara region. He also works with dedicated members of the community who are passionate about improving personal fitness. Matrixx is also the author of The Iron Guide to Building Muscle.