Recap of the 2013 Perform Better Functional Training Summit

Doesn’t everybody love family holidays?  You get to see the cousins that you grew up with and the aunts and uncles that love to give you a hard time.  You’ll get to play games, talk about life, and are entertained when someone brings up politics with the folks who fall on the opposite side of the spectrum.  Perhaps you have some crazy in-laws, and your family is a little nutty on its own.  Either way, you come together with the bond of family exercise.

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During the first full weekend in June, Perform Better hosts their Functional Training Summit in Providence, Rhode Island.  (They also host events in Chicago and Long Beach.)  I attended my first Summit in 2010, and attended in 2011 and 2012 as well.  The 2013 Summit was my fourth one, and perhaps the best one I’ve ever been to.  Here’s my recap of the weekend:

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Pre-Conference:  The Future of Exercise Program Design:  A Standard Operating Procedure – Gray Cook, Lee Burton, Alwyn Cosgrove

The goal of the pre-con presentation was to “present a standing operating procedure, which will help you create better decisions when testing and screening, demonstrate the importance of having a standard operating procedure, and utilize case studies to demonstrate the ease and effectiveness of how this model works.  When you look at cover of the Pre-Con packet, you’ll see a just a few indicators that the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) was touched on during the event.  Uh oh; that damn FMS.

While there certainly is a WWGD (What would Gray do?) crowd that seems to swear that the FMS cures cancer (burden of proof), Gray opened up the day by explaining the need for a qualitative movement appraisal that looks at baseline movement competency; vital signs for movement.  It’s part of the standard operating procedure for the medical field.  You expect your doctor to include a visual and auditory component to your yearly physical.  If you hear all of the peeps and can tell the difference between an E and an Ǝ, then you’re good to go.  They listen to your pulse, and pop on a sphygmomanometer, and if you fall within norms, you’re good to go.  Gray dreams of a day where a movement assessment becomes part of your yearly physical, where your “annual FMS”, is par for the course.

If you’re cleared by your doctor after your health screening, you should be good to go kick ass at life.  Sure, something may come up, but we don’t have to worry about that too much.  The same goes for screening;  if you score a 14 (out of 21) with no asymmetries, then you’re set for ass-kickery.  In both cases, people might go against what’s recommended, as they have the freedom to do so, but the discerning professional uses a standard operating procedure to first implement a training protocol.

During Alwyn Cosgrove’s component of the presentation, we looked at case studies, and designed programs with partners to grade the appropriateness of exercises.  Alwyn asked us to write programs for people with a variety of goals who just so happened to be  symmetrical 14’s.  After that the sneaky Scot would change the Screen results, and we would modify our program accordingly. He called for a volunteer to explain their program based on the imposed guidelines, and Bill Rom’s hand shot up faster than a speeding bullet.  He explained our training to nods of approval from Gray, Lee, and Burton.  Yippee.

Alwyn stressed the point that everyone at the pre-conference event writes good programs, and it isn’t necessary to completely rewrite them.   Instead, establish a Standard Operating Procedure that allows you to first screen for movement competency, then gather more information with appropriate assessment.

StrengthCoach.com Pre-Con After Party.

Dat’s right.  There was an after party, and it was awesome.  There were decadent hors d’oeuvre and lively music to invigorate us after a long hard day of… sitting down talking about exercise.  The finger foods were good, somebody had their Pandora account dialed in, and we were able to mix and mingle with StrengthCoach.com members, pre-con attendees, some of the Perform Better crew, and a number of presenters.  It was awesome.

After the after party, I headed over to the food court at Providence Place for some foodage with several of the coaches that I met, and enjoyed an extra hour of talking shop with Jon, Rob, and Tara.  Then it was back to the hotel for some sleep before the Summit began.

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Friday

Alwyn Cosgrove – Training the Executive Athlete

Alwyn’s presentation was a more detailed review of the work he discussed at the pre-con event, which was perfect.  He’s been a ‘business’ guy for the last few years, and hearing him discuss programming concepts was a great reminder that he’s a damn good coach.  Alwyn’s gym, Results Fitness, is one of the best fat-loss gyms in the country, which is a problem.  If the Results Fitness team does their job, then don’t they lose clients?

Alwyn discussed the “Third demographic”, that’s not a traditional fat loss client or a competitive athlete.  This is the “Executive Athlete.”  These are people between 35-60 who have been working out most of their lives, are reasonably fit but bored with their workouts, have new goals or motivations, still feel athletic or want to feel athletic again, and aren’t interested in circuit training/ body building/ going for a run.  They are competitive.

At Results, clients loved the athletic style events or workouts, and so Alwyn began to seek out local events with an element of competition.  These included 5k’s, mud runs, powerlifting meets, half-marathons, triathlons; Results will even create their own events when there is member demand.  The executive athlete is extremely time challenged, and may come in beat up.  Following a Standard Operating Procedure means they already have a base level of fitness, and Alwyn noted that there is a Zone of Readiness:  Are your clients 6 weeks away from any competition?

Alwyn discussed the need for build-in social support, from the coaches, classmates (who are training for the same event), and utilizing social media to support clients and enhance their experience, and ultimately success.  If you can turn somebody into a championship winning athlete, you have a client for life.

Alwyn left us with this: “We do not rise to the level of our expectations.  We fall to the level of our training.”

Thomas Myers – Anatomy Trains and the Spine

I’ve seen Thomas Myers before, and he’s a swell guy.  I find that he reminds us a little bit too frequently that he’s not a strength coach or personal trainer; he likes to step off of the pedestal that the industry has put him on.  That’s fine.  The world is not ready for Thomas Myers

Thomas discusses the role of fascia in movement and health, which we in turn translate into posture and performance.  This is pretty common for the PB crowd, who is a group of professionals that like to spend their free time massaging their ass with a lacrosse ball.  Applying this information to our clients and athletes is easy, as we simply make exercise selections that allow for the dynamic movements and a healthy dose of rebounding.  I imagine a few of the audience members had spikes in blood pressure when he exclaimed, “Bring back ballistic stretching!”

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If you’re not up on your fascial fitness, get to reading.  It might be more important than muscle when it comes to how you move, feel, and perform.

Lunch

We went to Subway a block or so from the RICC for lunch.  Here’s why:

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Jon Torine – Programming: More than Sets and Reps

Jon Torine is the former strength coach for the Colts, who don’t suck.  Jon opened with a story about “Bill’s Three Things”, which was one of the first conversations he had with Colts management.

  • Don’t get them hurt.
  • Don’t get them rehurt.
  • Get them ready to play on Game Day.

“Now get out of my office.”  Yup, time to get to work.  Jon discussed that his goal to empty his cup, learn as much as possible, and how you can create a solution to a problem with a service, product, or call to action.  He quoted Steve Jobs, “Be a yardstick of quality.  There are no shortcuts to excellence.”  Jon also referenced Simon Sinke’s Golden Circle, reminding us that “Functional Movement Systems wants to change the way the world looks at movement.”, and “Results Fitness wants to change the way the fitness is done.”  [HG Note:  About 80% of the presenters referenced the Golden Circle.  It was awesome.]  Once this point was made, Jon said, “Let’s talk Systems”

He discussed the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) at places such as Chipotle & Starbucks.  How many of you have a preferred location for those stores?  There are thousands of those stores, you get the same experience at each and every one of them, but you still go to the same one every damn time.  That’s the power of the SOP.  Jon then went into Human Performance Mapping, asking, Where will we make the largest impact?  What is the Point of Entry?  Jon’s hit-list of things to address was:

  • Health & Durability
  • Character
  • Screen/Test/Assess
  • Nutrition & Body Composition
  • Movement Competency
  • Physical Capacity
  • Recover & Readiness
  • Body Clock & Environment
  • Support
  • Fundamental Skill Training
  • Neurological Pathway Training
  • Competition & Performance

This includes connecting with them on the professional and personal level, looking at their health history, identifying dysfunctions and problems, providing actionable solutions to those problems, and then acting on it.  He included this quote form Larry Winget: “Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it.”  At the close of his presentation, he reminded us that we only have control of one variable, and that is time.  My brain immediately tied Torine to Gandalf:

decide

Gray Cook – Exploring Functional Movement

Gray Cook is the Functional Movement Screen.  That’s what people think.  He’s all about fixing the Active Straight Leg Raise, and would rather have Dartfish confirm that somebody has symmetrical 3’s on the inline lunge than ask them to load the pattern.  “Don’t put strength on top of dysfunction.”

It’s not all about the FMS.  I attended Gray’s presentation because he was talking about organic movement and movement quality.  This is Gray’s “Why”.  He wants the world to look at movement competency as a starting point, and the move from there.  As far as FMS zealotry goes, he reminded us that “We’re not policing movement perfect, we’re identifying movement dysfunction.”

Too frequently, we regularly perform corrective exercises based on our needs, then continue with the same workout.  Maybe something in your workout is creating a problem that requires a corrective strategy.  What?!  Blasphemy!  But it’s true.

We were reminded that the FMS has a neurological base.  Kids are born without mobility issues and they earn their stability naturally.  Self-limiting exercise is something that we all need to look into, because it has a great respect for movement quality than other styles of training.  From Gray’s Movement book:

Self-limiting exercises make us think, and even make us feel more connected to exercise and to movement. They demand greater engagement and produce greater physical awareness. Self-limiting exercises do not offer the easy confidence or quick mastery provided by a fitness machine.

I believe Gray’s point is best illustrated with two clips from the DVD he just released with Erwan Le Corre, of MovNat fame:

These are ideas that I’ve loved since I first heard about MovNat in the last several years, ideas that I utilized during my elementary PE student teaching, and ideas that are an increasing part of my training programs.

Bill Parisi – Becoming a Legendary Youth Performance Coach

Bill Parisi is a shitty presenter.  He reads from his notes, his glasses block his eyes, he mumbles and is monotone.

Just kidding; Bill was one of the most dynamic presenters I’ve ever seen at a Perform Better Summit, including Martin Rooney; I want whatever those guys put in their coffee.  Bill discussed the transfer of energy, and he lived what he was explaining to us.  He asked us, “How high can you get your athletes to aspire?” and answered with, “You have to think outside the box to motivate your athletes.”

He reminded us that coaching is not about the activity, that the goal is how you make your athletes feel.  You have to have mastery of the fundamentals, but that you play the role of connection to your athletes, especially in a culture where the most deadly disease is low self-esteem.

We can easily define self-esteem as Belonging, Competence, and Worth, but we live in a world where 91% of teens admit to being bullied and the average parent has under 40 minutes of meaningful conversation with their teens each week.  The key to being successful is being a problem solver.  Our goal is to get kids to bounce back.  Get your kids fired up about making the impossible, possible.

Bill explained that you need to Fall in love with your coaching style by connecting to athletes on the personal level.  Learn how to communicate, build rapport.  Ask them about school, their parents, their children, their dogs.  Once you connect with the athletes that are in front of you, you can begin to implement speaking engagements, team camps & clinics, continuing education, and in-service seminars.

Bill’s final reminder was that you have to love your job. “When you strive to be the best in the world, you’re affecting the way that people feel.”  Strive to be the best you that you can be.

Dick Vermeil

Call me an idiot (or just not a football fan), but I had no idea who Dick Vermeil was before The Summit.  I had some catching up to do.  Dick had this fascinating ability to make it seem like he was talking to only one person, despite the fact that I was lounging next to Jordan Syatt and Bill Rom.  Among Dick’s quotables were:

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It became evident to me why he was voted the 2nd most motivational football coach of all time.  After Dick gave us his wisdom, it was time to put on our party pants.

This was the first year that I went to the Perform Better Social.  In the past, I’ve gone out to dinner or hit the gym.  I’ve been missing out.  There was a ton of chatter to be had with strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists.  I spoke with coaches from Ireland, Switzerland, Boston, New York…we keep getting closer to home here.  It’s not often that you can talk shop about the finer points of cleans or rack pulls.

Some of the funniest and most passionate guys that I met over the weekend were the team from Mark Fisher Fitness: Mark, Kyle, and Brian.  If you’re in NYC, check their place out: MFF.

Saturday

Charlie Weingroff – Cracking the Stretching Code (Lecture and Hands on)

If you think that Gray Cook has a cult following, just give Charlie Weingroff a few more years.  I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the attendees had T=R,R-T tattooed on their diaphrams.  Charlie discussed “The Roles and Effectiveness of Stretching & Mobility Training” and how we can become better at what we like to do.  Charlie noted that “Animals are stronger than us, they’re faster than us, they have amazing recovery abilities:  I want what they have.”  He then suggested that we Google “Frogs and stretching”, which doesn’t disappoint:

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Charlie discussed the typical justifications that come up when we explore stretching:  Injury limitation, movement profile, athletic performance, and recovery.  A quick glance at research is inconclusive when it comes to injury reduction.  We might not get the best look at movement competency with stretching; after all, passive range of motion doesn’t dictate movement capacity.  Most research on athletic performance demonstrates that static stretching is usually performed in a fashion that depresses the Central Nervous System, but that a dynamic warm-up can restore performance and prime the central nervous system.  When it comes to recovery, stretching can create a para-sympathetic shift, and Charlie cited a Russian study translated by  University of Minnesota Strength & Conditioning:  “It can be assumed that the stretching of the muscles increases the pores in the membranes, and through them quickly begin to take hormones and other substances necessary for the synthesis of organelles in the muscle fibers.”  Finally, we return to that rhetorical question: Why stretch?”

Outside of capsular or true structural limitation, most of our mobility issues are neurological in nature.  That is, our brain prevents us from entering ranges of motion that it deems inappropriate.  Charlie discussed the concept of centration, which allows for maximum load bearing by distrubuting load over the surfaces of a joint, and the ideal balance of mobilizers and stabilizers acting on a joint.  When you consider the posture that most people develop and practice, their centration is off:

JandaSyndromesCharlie discussed rather old concepts. PNF isn’t new to anybody, but the components are effective and important.  Here’s a clip from Charlie’s Training=Rehab, Rehab=Training DVD where he explains it:

If muscles drive the motions, motions drive the joints, and joint position drives the CNS, then this is a way of ‘hacking’ the central nervous system by contracting/relaxing as well as breathing in certain positions.  It can be used to restore a movement standard or to enhance movement capability.  This will work best when soft tissue is relatively free of adhesions, and must be in a non-threatening environment.

We addressed this in more detail during the hands-on portion of Charlie’s presentation, where we went through an increasingly aggressive PNF patterns in half-kneeling, Tactical Frog, and Brettzel 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.  I recorded the entire thing using my phone, and after reviewing the audio you can hear a faint voice in the background (Charlie), lots of panting (the attendees), some cursing (me), and several voice notes that I’ve included myself.  I’d like to share the tactical frog as well as two of the Brettzels with you.  These videos aren’t from Charlie, but they’ll allow you to absolutely hate enjoy these ‘stretches’ just as the attendees were able to.

What I enjoyed about Charlie’s hands-on and his emphasis during the lecture was being on the ground and using as many points of contact as possible.  This increases proprioception, provides an anchor for tension, assists in centration, and allows us to  relax into the stretch.  Breathing should be a limiting factor here; maintain a diaphragmatic breath throughout!

Martin Rooney – Hurricane Training: Metabolic Work Made Simple

Martin Rooney is a dynamic speaker.  So dynamic that he’s like a Hurricane.  Okay, that’s pretty cheesy.  Martin’s presentation sought to simplify the often over-complicated and over zealous world of metabolic resistance training.  This is the sad state of today’s training:

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Martin’s Hurricane training system was borne from his work with Mixed Martial Artists, and “MMA” training is about as popular as you can be in fitness right now.  Martin said something along the lines of, “If you’re not getting punched in the face, you’re not training for MMA”.  Thing is, that style of training gets people into great shape, and it’s fun.  (Think Cosgrove.)

Martin’s Training for Warriors System Continuum begins with an evaluation, addressing areas of immobility, addressing areas of relative strength, beginning absolutely strength work, beginning hurricane training, and ending with power work.  The Hurricane Training systems is divided into 5 categories, just like the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Damage-Potential Scale.  Each category uses 9 total sets, and each set uses a sprint variation.  Here they are:

  1. Sprint with HR recovery for 9 sets.
  2. Sprint Variation with body weight/med ball for 9 sets.
  3. Sprint Variation with light weights for 9 sets.
  4. Sprint Variation with heavy weights for 9 sets.
  5. Sprint Variation with Strongman Training for 9 sets.

Martin stressed the difference between nurture and torture, that we’re in the motivation business, and must learn the difference between serious and fun.  He reminded us that geese take turns alternating who leads their flying V, and as a team they can cover much greater distances.  Most fitness professionals have found their inner coach, and it’s essential that we reveal this inner coach in each of our clients so that they can be as strong as possible inside and outside of the gym.

Lunch

It was a sunny day, so Billy and I ventured a few minutes south to Westminster St. where the words Organic, Fair-Trade, and Local inspired my inner hipster.  Into Small Point Cafe it was.

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If you go there, get double meat.  We were advised against it, but I’d strongly suggest it.  Also, don’t get a macchiato.  Either I’m not hip enough for this, or Starbucks has ruined it for me.  Either way, it tasted like a shot of motor oil:

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Despite disparaging views on how much meat should be on a salad (Answer: as much as possible.) and a discovery of my unhipsterness, this place rocked.  Back to the RICC for:

Nick Winkelman – What We Say Matters: Uncovering the Truth About Cueing

Nick Winkelman; I like this guy.  In the world of athletic performance, where pseudoscience is abound and “genetics” are the catch-all excuse for “I don’t know how the hell to explain this.”  Nick is nerdy as hell, all about da science.  He’s the Director, Education and Performance Systems; Director, Methodology, and he’s currently working on his PhD.  Not a slouch.

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Nick frequently does the Art of Coaching segment on the StrengthCoach Podcast, which is where I first heard him rain knowledge bombs.  This specific presentation looked at the “Art” of coaching by delving into the science of cueing.  His first big key was to “Be a Minimalist.”  Nobody wants to hear that they should flex at the hip, abduct the femur, and create external rotation force on the ground while they squat.  Instead, they’d rather hear, “Reach back with your hips and keep your knees apart.  But, according to Nick, “Internal cues hinder performance and external cues enhance it… External cues connect us to the world…If you can avoid it, never give an internal cue again.” Rather than that last cue, how about about “Sit back and pull the ground apart.”  Boom.

Nick suggested  using external cues that gives that farthest feasible distance to improve performance even more than just external cuing.  Use action words that create images; images are better at creating the desired movement pattern. It was noted that “External cuing is the construct, but the word selection is where you become elite.”  If cueing is your word usage, and Words = thoughts = images = feelings = actions = goals, then Cues = goals.  It’s important to remember that What we say matters.

Here’s a segment that Nick did for Sklz:

At this point, Billy and I skipped a presentation.  I know; sacrilege.  We started at Brandon Marcello’s hands-on about the diaphragm, which was good, but based on selections earlier in the weekend, it was redundant.  Instead, we pow-wowed in the pavillion to discuss what we had gained insight to and learned that day, and began discussing what we could implement at Prospect, with our own clients, and in the future.

Presenter Q&A

The Perform Better crowd is a damn fine group, asking a number of great questions.  The presenters also gave great answers, although this year I noticed more repeat answers from them to questions.  For example, when asked about their top power exercises, it was almost a unanimous answer or sprinting or med ball throws.  Like his brother the night before, Al Vermeil had a number of awesome one-liners:

Screen Shot 2013-06-17 at 6.58.27 AMAfter the Q&A was over, we made tentative plans for a movie with Jon and Rob, then hit the hotel.  Bill did some work, and I went downstairs to #DoWork at the hotel gym.  Dumbbells up to 50lbs, a cable station with 150lbs per side, and my TRX, and I was good to go.  The only problem was the placement of the ceiling:

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If you’re in charge of the layout of a fitness center and you don’t account for human head height when placing a chin-up bar, then I must ask, Do you even lift?  The lights were recessed, so I had room to do full chin-ups, but I’d rather not Swiffer your lights with my head just to crank out some damn chin-ups!  End rant.

Post-workout shake in hand, Billy and I hit the riverfront to check out the arts and culture at WaterFire, which was awesome.  We each got the #2 Meat Special from Taste of India, found some good dessert as well, and things are always fun when there are multiple fires and lots of people.

Wait… that doesn’t sound right.

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Sunday

Todd Wright – Coach It Up or Let It Happen

Todd Wright was the lead-off batter on Sunday morning, which tends to have a Perform Better Lite vibe to it.  There are far fewer people around for Sunday morning at 8am, which I’m fine with, because I’m getting better than you.  This was the 4th time I’ve seen Todd speak; he’s the only presenter I’ve gone to four years in a row, and it’s worth it every time.  In the past he’s gone over technical aspects of his exercise selection and program design, and this year he discussed a more philosphical/practical approach to how he approaches coaching.

Todd began talking about communication.  He noted that the people get to the front of the room because of their communication skills, and also that people succeed or fail as coaches because of their communication skills.  When you start as a young coach, your job is to go learn; to hustle.  As you gain experience, your job is to put people around you that compliment you and make you better.  This is when you fine tune your systems and find ways to coach it up.  As you become an ‘old’ coach, you become a mentor and give back to the field.

As always, Todd touches on the Vertical Core, which is really just a thought process about taking floor based core training to a standing position.   The human body doesn’t function straight up and down, the human body functions to integrate/utilize vectors.  Why are we still training segments in isolation?  According to Todd, “Functional training looks and smells like sport.”  This doesn’t mean you should be wearing a football helmet or lacrosse gloves in the weight room.  This means that you should train basic movement patterns and variations that you’d see in your sport.  Here’s the Train 4 The Game Athlete Development video:

Robert Dos Remedios – Building Better Athletes: Creating Optimal Training Programs, Creating Optimal Training Cultures

This was my first time seeing Coach Dos, and it was exactly what I expected; simple yet effective awesomeness.  According to Dos, “Programming is easy; the more you see…not so good.  You can have great coaches and shitty programs, or shitty programs and great coaches. The concept of building the culture; without culture, you won’t get the most out of that program.”  You can have the same program(s), different messages, but with different messages you’re getting different results.  You’re buying into a culture. Culture = Program + Coach.

The aspect of culture is something that made me reflect on how I’ve trained and coached in the past, and how I’ll do so in the future.  Dos quoted Dick Vermeil when he said,  ““There is a big difference between making an impression on somebody and making an IMPACT on somebody.” He later added a simple yet profound statement from Brian Grasso, “Coaches ELEVATE!”

Dos works at the College of the Canyons Once where he’s coupled a brilliant coaching style with effective yet simple training strategies.  His programing is simple, and he gave this demo day:

  • Warm-up
  • Activation
  • Explosion and Core
  • Knee Dominant, Upper Body Pull
  • Hip Dominant, Upper Body Push

Easy-peasy, right?  He added the specific notes of including frontal plane movements at least every 3rd workout, and to include lateral/rotational movements in each workout.  He also recommended getting out of the weight room.  In his many demo videos, Dos showed his teams pulling sleds down the hallways, doing stair drills for footwork, using the fields for sport-speed and chaos training, and even doing partner fireman carries.  He even put up a compilation of those videos on CoachDos.com:

Coach Dos touched on research for a bit, and shared a recent study from the NSCA Strength & Conditioning Journal from April of 2013.  The study confirmed a training strategy that Dos had been using since 2007.  Dos asked, “Who drives the research?” His answer was,  “We do.  Without the shit that we’re doing, there’s no research.”  Too often we’re taking an approach that focuses only on research, and this leaves us behind the innovation curve.  Let’s step it up, shall we?

Dos left us with his Dosercise Principles:

  • Programming is EASY…
  • Building a Culture is not as easy but it is MANDATORY for success.
  • Outwork/Out-train your opponent EVERYDAY.
  • Work Capacity will dictate EVERYTHING.
  • “Comfort” truly is the enemy.
  • It’s not where you start, it’s where you FINISH.

Art Horne – Injury Purgatory: Atypical Training Strategies for Injury Reduction & Improved Performance

Art Horne is the Director of Sports Performance at Northeastern, and his discussion was mostly on the beauty of breathing for injury assessment, reduction, and performance enhancement.  Art opened with this cannonball: “If your program doesn’t look at breathing patterns, it is going to fail.”

Art noted that “If there’s things that multiple people are talking about it’s probably important.”  Breathing is the hot topic in the strength and conditioning world this year, because it plays a huge component in spinal mechanics and performance.  The diaphragm gets a lot of attention, which it should, but it’s important to remember that the entire core plays a role in apical expansion.  The diaphram is doing too funky things in too many people.  Where’s the parachute at?

Zone-of-Apposition

Art discussed looking at breathing first in assessments, because addressing breathing dysfunction can be a huge component in reducing pain.  For example, the McKenzie method looks at press-ups as a recovery strategy.  When you fully exhale, you create negative pressure and reduce intra-disc pressure in the lumbar spine.  This is what happens everytime you exhale.  You’ll get a whole lot more exposure to breathing patterns than you will to press-ups, or an inversion table.

A big point was made to respect the neurodevelopemntal model.  Just as you learn to crawl before you can walk, and walk before you learn to run, you should get back to the ground.  Practice breathing laying down, in quadruped, while crawling, while standing, and when walking.  Breathing should be authentic and they should be able to breathe the entire time that they’re doing it.  If not, go back.  Breath is the limiting factor.  Exercises should be appropriate for where the client/patient falls within this model.

Breathing has received a great deal of attention this past year, and it’s greatly underrated.  Meatheads don’t want to breathe, they just want to squat.  If you want to squat more weight, more times, then check out your breathing.  If you’re in a stressful situation, check out your breathing.  If you’ve hit a fat loss plateau, check out your breathing.  If you’ve never done a squat in your life or have 100lbs to lose, breathing isn’t the biggest bang-for-your-buck thing to cover.  Hit the big stuff first.

Take Away Points

This was the best Perform Better Functional Training Summit that I’ve ever been to, hands down.  It wasn’t because I’ve learned more, it’s because I believe I’m capable of doing more with what I’ve learned.  So far, I’ve focused on these three things:

1.) Using as many external cues as possible. I’m talking to myself more than usual, and my clients hear me muttering “that wasn’t external” to myself sometimes, but I’m already finding that exercises are cleaning up more quickly when I use external cues.

2.) Starting warm-ups on the floor..We’re getting back to the ground.  We’re starting on our backs, breathing.  We roll, we bridge, we plank.  We’re in quadruped.  We crawl.  We’re on one knee, reaching, rotating, still breathing.  Then we go kick ass.

3.) Using breathe as a limiting factor.  I won’t be writing “30 second” Pallof hold for a while.  Instead, it will be “6 breaths.”  It will take some programming tweaks and getting used to; we’re not used to being told how to breathe.  While it’s more concrete, time is arbitrary when it comes to movement quality, and I want to ensure we’re getting the best results possible.

The first weekend of June in 2014 is already blocked off on my calendar for the Perform Better Summit.  I hope to see you there.

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