John Sinclair, ViPR global educator, programming officer for the Institute of Motion and founder of Authentic Health Coaching, gets to grips with momentum.

Momentum could be considered as a directional flow of kinetic energy. In order to stop that momentum, it takes another force to change that momentum and its direction. Momentum indeed has a direction associated with it. As Newton’s first law states, an object will tend to stay in motion unless another force acts upon that object to change its direction or stop it all together. That is considered the object’s inertia. Inertia could then be described as an object’s resistance to change. If we can move with momentum (an example is walking), we become more efficient as humans. It takes more energy to slow you down and change direction altogether. When we harness momentum and capture it to be used and let force transmit through us, we can create a more efficient and economical body. This efficiency is enhanced by the ‘neuro-osteo-myofascial’ structures in finely tuned working order, just by using forces to our advantage. It is up to us as coaches to know when to prescribe movements that will enhance momentum and to learn how to change the inertia of an object to create a different reactive response to the body.

We have been told in the past not to use momentum and to stop swinging the weights. I would argue that, in order to add more force in a safer way, we would use momentum and enhance the elastic potential energy that comes from swinging weights. Now, we have to know that the client or athlete can handle that momentum. Momentum is an additional force. Momentum = Mass x Velocity! The faster you swing it, the greater the momentum. The heavier the object, the greater the momentum. You can swing a really heavy weight slowly and it still has a great amount of momentum. It doesn’t have to be moving fast to have a great deal of momentum. Try to stop a moving train that is going at 5km/hr. The train’s mass makes it very tough to stop. For the average human anyway … 

Here are some drills that focus on momentum with dumbbells and ViPR:

If you would like to see some other cool videos of using momentum, check out the Institute of Motion’s colleagues and my personal friends Genesis Performance on their YouTube page. They truly understand how to capture momentum and how to create FLOW in movement. Flow is fundamental to efficient, effective motor development and can be used with everyone!