We’re coming to the close of yet another year.
It’s unbelievable how quickly the year has flown in. It seems like yesterday that my kids came down stairs to open their Santa stuff, yet here we are again making final arrangements with Santa before his visit in 2 weeks.
So I want to look back at some of the things I’ve learned over the last 12 months.
1: A Muscle Must Lengthen Before it Contracts
Learning about the Anatomy in motion system from Gary Ward and his right hand man, Chris Sritharan has been an eye opening experience.
The way in which these lads look at the body and broken down movement is astonishing.
In Gary’s 5 Laws, the one that states that muscles lengthen before they contract has been a game changer for many of my crew.
It means that if I have a muscle that is either not firing or is hypertonic, instead of getting on the foam roller and “smashing” it (to quote K-Star) or trying to stretch it into submission, I can simply find the position that add a little length to the muscle and then move into and out of that place.
In no time at all the muscle spindles and golgi tendon organs start telling the muscle to contract and lo and behold the nervous system kicks in to get that muscle firing properly.
Not only that but we can take any movement now and look at it through AiM eyes and see where the stretch is occurring, where contraction is happening and then begin to use that to build our training program.
2: Human Movement is both the Foundation AND the Top Tier of All Movement
Whoa, getting deep there!
But what is human movement?
Well, the term “movement” is being used a lot these days, and most of it is pretty cool.
As a martial arts guys, fell runner/mountain biker/snowboarder in my past and now S&C coach, you could say movement is what I do.
But all my movement & strength training left me with poor human movement which lead to injury.
So what is the most fundamental human movement?
The Gait Cycle, ie Walking.
Everything we need to know about the function of a body can be seen through its gait. If it walks well, it will run well and has the potential to do all things well. If not, it doesn’t
3: Hang for a Vast Array of Reasons
Ido Portal issued a hanging challenge. The idea was to accumulate 7minutes of hanging each day for a month.
I did it, as did many of my clients, and wow, good stuff happened.
Everyone noticed increased shoulder mobility, better grip, improved breathing patterns (hanging restricts the ribs so the diaphragm has to do its bit) and more.
I even felt my hip flexors stretch out.
Hang people, just hang.
Following on from this is simply the power of optimal breathing.
Several clients have reported in with shoulder issues, back pain, tight hips and the like and non of the standard work was helping them out.
When I got them to breathe deep into their diaphragm, to expand the abdomen out in all three dimensions as the inhaled and to fully exhale, and I mean fully.
When we did this, their issues started to fix themselves, shoulders dropped into place, hips loosened out and the abdominals kicked in properly.
Here’s one of the breathing drills we do:
Breathe people, in deep, out even deeper.
5: Bottoms Up Kettlebell Work is Magic
Grab a kettlebell, hold it by the handle with the ball above the hand, ie upside down.
Now, do things.
Press it, walk with it, squat it, do Turkish Get ups with it. Whatever.
But feel what a light bell held in this manner does to the whole body.
1/2 Get Ups with a bell in the bottoms up grip have become standard fare in WG
Bottoms Up Waiters Carry feature in many of my guys programs.
Don’t take my word, listen to Eric Cressey:
6: Direct Scapular Work is Essential
Maybe no essential, but highly recommended.
I’m talking about hanging scap ups, push up plus, overhead shrugs, inverted rows with an arm screw and of course Turkish Get ups and Windmills.
I’ve fallen out with traditional rotator cuff work in favour of these straight and bent arm movements and supports. They just work better.
Just about every physio type rotator cuff drill is covered in the TGU and Windmill (which is why the kettlebell Snatch/Get Up/Windmill complex is so effective), but we also need real strength to control the movement of the scapular and therefore shoulder, which is where real loaded straight arm work comes into play.
You’re only as strong as your weakest link and with physio clinics being chock full of people with shoulder issues, get the scaps strong and keep them strong.
There’s more I know, maybe I’ll write a follow up post, but these 6 points are the ones that stand out to me the most.