Recap of the 2015 Perform Better Functional Training Summit

Thursday morning.  I leave Harlem, pick up my Mark Fisher Fitness co-worker Kyle Langworthy on The Upper West Side, and we hit I-95 northbound. We’re going to Providence, Rhode Island, for Perform Better’s Functional Training Summit.  It’s my 6th year going, and I can honestly tell you that it’s one of my favorite weekends of the year.

Over the course of the weekend, I used Twitter as a public notepad; you can find a whole lot of info at @Harold_Gibbons.  You can also catch up on the weekend by checking the hashtag #PBFTS, where several other coaches were updating about the event.

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Buckle in for a ~5,600 word review of the weekend, including seminar notes and personal thoughts on these topics.  I hope to share with you the best representation of the weekend possible, as well as actionable information for everyone from fitness professionals to someone who’s considering exercise for the very first time.

I appreciate all questions and comments to continue the dialogue, and please share what you find useful. Let’s get into it:

Thursday: Pre-Con

Gray Cook & Greg Rose – Three Principles You Can Apply to Any Movement

Gray and Greg did a bang-up job of sharing some fundamental philosophy that guides our  exercises.  For example, they believe that we can’t develop ourselves better than nature can.  They do believe that we have the skills to do it faster and safer, provided that we master one level of development before moving to the next.  Gray’s taken 10 of his rules and distilled them into 3 Principles of Movement.

Principle 1 states that we should first move well, then move often.

Seek a qualitative minimum before we worry about quantities.  If moving well is the standard, moving often is the foreseeable outcome.  This is a natural principle that explains how organisms exist and thrive in diverse environments.

Principle 2 directs us to protect, correct, and develop the movement of those in our care.

Guided by the Hippocratic Oath, first do no harm and then progress in direction of independence and sustainability at each level of development.  This is an ethical principle practiced by parents, coaches, trainers, and health care professionals.

Principle 3 tells us to create systems that enforce your philosophy – your principles.

Implement a standard operating procedures, practice intelligent selection, always matching the risk:challenge ration to the growth and development desired.  This is a technical and tactical principle created to promote communication and accountability with respect to the first two principles.

Rick Mayo – Building Your Dream

Rick‘s building your dream talk looks at building a business from the ground up, from identifying your ideal client to what services you’ll offer.  He’s shared his big take-aways from his experience in coaching and consulting, and asked us to consider things such as competitive businesses, how far people are willing to travel, 1-on-1 training, semi-privates, small group training, team training, training tier systems, cross promotion, generating leads, maintaining membership… there was a hell of a lot going on.

The talk about business can be excessive for the “I-just-want-to-help-people” type trainer, but it’s important that we can use our training systems within an effective business model.  Otherwise, you’re not going to be able to help anybody!

After Ricks’ talk, we ventured out to Union Station Brewery so that the Mark Fisher Fitness crew could hangout with our friends from MBSC and DVRT.  A good time was had by all, then we got to bed early.  Coach Fury and I snuggled, Mark and Kyle snuggled, and we were excited children on Fitness Christmas Eve!

Friday

Mark Verstegen – Engineering Sustainable High-Performance

Mark Verstegen is the founder of EXOS, formerly Athlete’s Performance.  They’ve taken human performance to an incredibly polished level, and I appreciate how well they’ve cleaned up their work.  EXOS is leading the field in identifying weak-links to performance.  They’re great at taking off the brakes before stepping on the gas.

Taking off the brakes is all about habits, and Verstegen came out strong with this one:

He stressed the importance of providing structure by building systems.  We’re keen to wing in, to make it up as we go, but that increases the chances that we’ll fail.  Spending the time to build infrastructure is an investment in our success in the future.

Even when we’ve built a system, we’re not positive it’s going to work.  We can’t swear by it’s success, but we can get pretty close with our questioning.  There are meaningful conversations that result from this question:

Being successful is a product of hitting the gas, but it may be a bigger product of taking off the brakes.  Undo the habits or actions that may be holding you back.  The movement that EXOS is leading is the one of addressing pre-habilitation, and pre-covery.  Can you better prepare for your next workout, rather than recovering from the previous one?

High-performance used to be completely separate from sustainability, but when million dollar athletes want to keep doing what they’re doing, sustainability is everything.  As we learn from Verstegen and the team from EXOS, we can enhance our preparation for the next challenge.

Your preparation for the next workout begins as soon as the previous one ends, and it’s with better sleep, better nutrition, more balanced recovery exercise, and better appreciation of our stress that we become more robust.

Rick Mayo – Six-figure Small Group Personal Training

Rick Mayo is a great mind in the business of fitness.  After seeing his excellent Pre-Con lecture on Thursday, I wanted to clean up some of the ideas with his Friday morning lecture.  Rick does a great job of bridging the gap between fitness solutions and business solutions, and I believe it’s because he understands the psychology of people walking into the gym for the first time.

Many trainers, myself included, are in training to help people.  They want to provide the tools and skills that let others improve their own lives.  Thing is, they often miss opportunities to enhance their own life because of this.  Rick discussed how small group personal training lets us to both.  If the goal is to help people, then small group training does just that.  We can influence and improve more lives on a daily basis, while offering a more enjoyable coaching experience.  At the same time, the system becomes more profitable.

When we’re helping people, we want to maximize how effectively we’re using dollars and time.  The relationship is about doing what’s best for the client while running a profitable business.  This should that we maximize coaching time.  Planning appropriate workouts before hand does just that, and frees up the client’s other workout time for, well, other workouts. That means we should stick to programming machine-based intervals or steady state work to days that are non-coached days. Maximize your time for hands-on coaching!

Throughout the coaching process, we should also make sure we’re focusing on the BIG rocks.  If someone is coming off of an injury or addressing pain, movement should be precise.  However, look at the emotional role of coaching, too:

Rick further drove home the point by reminding us that the fitness isn’t complicated, and that the business isn’t complicated, but that finding a way to maximize the effectiveness of each is the art of it.  His system is close to the one that has been built at MFF, and it’s one that more trainers, and clients, are turning towards to improve their experience.

After Rick’s talk we ventured to Murphy’s Grill with our NYC friends from Structure Personal Fitness.  A big table, big personalities, and big salads made for a damn good lunch.

Brandon Marcello – Planning, Periodization: Faults & Fixes

Brandon is the second person on my do-not-miss list, along with Todd Wright (who’s coming later!)  I first heard him last year on overtraining, and this year he discussed general considerations for building better programs. Continuing on his talk from last year, Brandon discussed several of the things that interfere with our ability to perform.  An appearing trend for the weekend is to avoid what interferes with performance, as this is easier than focusing on enhancing performance.

The two big ones are nutrition and sleep.  We’ll never outperform poor sleep hygiene, and we’ll never out train a bad diet.  7-9 hours per night, and all of your vegetables.  Simple yet significant.  One of my favorite rules-for-life that was shared is this:

For many, change is hard.  In addition to change being hard, finding faults and fixes in your programming can be an emotional challenge.  It can be rough if you’re thinking, “Wow, what am I f*cking up?”  That approach pits you as your own enemy, and may not work.

We’re more effectively when we ask, “What can I do better?” We’re accustomed to assessing our starting point for a human body, looking at human movement.  It’s more of a challenge to assess the program itself.  Where are there gaps that we can plug?  A good program executed poorly doesn’t work.  A poor program executed well also doesn’t work.  While we’re addressing the execution of the program, we must also regularly access the program that we’re implementing.  Let’s meet that uncomfortable challenge with open arms:

When it comes to evaluating programs, we need to address selection, sequencing, progression, and variety.  How do we do all of that?  Brandon’s got a 6 Rule list that helps us understand how to progress any given exercise.  This is huge:

Brandon’s discussion of analysis was a great prep for the rest of the day, lining up Eric Cressey and Gray Cook to really shine on movement.  It’s important, and we can get even more out of it if we’re assessing our programming along the way.

Eric Cressey – Building A Better Warm-Up

“This guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”  “Yea, he’s a fraud!” This exchange took place between myself and Eric’s business partner, Pete Dupuis, who makes Cressey Sports Performance run.  It was obviously in jest, because Eric is one of the best coaches in the world.  This 75 minute lecture could have been an entire two day seminar.  Here’s why:

If you’re new to Eric Cressey‘s work, he spent 75 minutes telling you about the hierarchy of building an effective warm-up.  It looked at repositioning the pelvis and ribs around the diaphgram. (More on this later from Mike Mullin.) It looked at adaquately enhancing range of motion through the hips and scapulae.  It looked at keeping the shoulders and knees in good positions.  It was a straight forward approach to movement.

At the same time, it was an experience in a robotic, laser-focused awareness of movement compensation.  Holy hell, Eric Cressey is like a machine when it comes to abhorrent movement patterns.  I could listen to this man talk for days.

Eric reminded us to get our eyes ready for movement compensation from the beginning. We have to appreciate where movement is coming from, so that we can best educated and enhance the ability to create stiffness in desirable positions.  Our entire warm-up, the entire Joint-by-Joint approach, and all of human movement is about manipulating stiffness.  Why start with breathing then?

Once we’re set there, we turn to opening up the hips, thoracic spine, and ankles.  For some folks, such as Eric’s baseball population, we don’t always need more range of motion.  In those cases, the Joint by Joint approach doesn’t actually hold true.  It’s just a guidepost.  It’s also important to remember that the dichotomy of mobility and stability becomes grey when we consider the balance of relative stiffness.  We’re creating an appreciation for the area in between.

Learning about the body here is important for both coaches and those being coached.  Fitness professionals can continue to improve their eye, while those we’re coaching can improve on kinesthetic awareness.  Better movers in the gym become better movers outside of the gym.  The warm-up serves as the first place to build awareness of this:

When we bring our warm-up skills into the workout proper, we’re better able to express our strength and control, and that skill set we bring with us into our other activities, from baseball to biking and everything in between.  The warm-up is the perfect place to learn about how we want to express ourselves everywhere else.

Gray Cook – Balance, Posture, and Motor Control

Midway through Gray’s talk, I thought to myself, “Wow, this is the first time Gray Cook has let me down.”  There was nothing new in his content.  Until I realized that his delivery has evolved so much in the last few years.  I saw Gray at my first Perform Better 6 years ago, and since then I’ve noticed how much work he’s doing to undo the zealotry that can evolve from passionate, new FMS users.

“You’re a 1-1 on the ASLR, you’re a 2-1 on the Shoulder Mobility!”  I completely know what you’re saying, but the person who you’re saying that too hears, “Wow, you really suck!”

That’s not where we’re going with fitness, and Gray knows it.  In his talk, he demystified the difference between mobility and stability, arguably a difference that Gray has helped to inform on.  Indeed he has, with the Joint by Joint Approach being incredibly powerful.  Yet, as Cressey shared earlier, it’s just a guidepost for us!  Gray asked us to swap the word mobility for motor control, which can greatly change how we view the movement conversation.

This allows us to look at the bigger picture of movement, so that rather than a picture, it’s a video; we want to enhance how we transition between positions, not just pictures of those positions.  Why the difference?  It’s because we want to be able to appreciate how we respond to information to create the desired outcome.

We can often get carried away with the FMS, and “quality” of movement, that we fail to approriately challenge our ability to repeat that movement.  Remember, we’re not seeking perfection.  We’re not seeking 3’s on each part of the FMS.  Movements that are scored as a 1 are considered ones we shouldn’t challenge yet.  That’s it.

Once you’ve hit your vitals, go to town on challenging them:

However, when a screen is scored as a 1, that’s one that we want to improve to at least a 2 before we challenge it.  The reason is simple.  Adding excess load to a movement is like clicking “save” on that movement.  We accept that as our movement standard, but it may not be desirable.

Gray’s talk was appreciated because it provided some clarity on the conversation of movement.  Quality control is essential, as is knowing the difference between policing movement perfection, and pursuing movement progress.  Let’s focus on the latter, shall we?

We skipped the featured presentation so that we could nap and sneak in a workout before the festivities continued.  Kyle and I hit the gym at the Omni for a quick workout, including chin-ups, KB Swings, incline benching, and 2KB Squats.  We did some curls to stay sexy for our girlfriends back in NYC, cleaned up, then met the rest of the MFF team for dinner at Joe’s with the Drive 495 crew.

While I missed Ri-Ra’s, it’s now Rebel, and was still a blast.  It’s nice to see some world-class fitness professionals from MBSC, Drive 495, and Structure dancing their butts off. I want to give a specific shoutout to  Kevin Larrabee of The Fitcast for giving the world’s best high-fives.  I have a name for the dance move, Kev: #StrengthCoachJump

Saturday

Todd Wright – Functional Training vs Traditional Training

If you’ve read my Summit recaps before, you’ll know that Todd Wright is the one presenter I’ve never missed.  Since first seeing Todd 4 years ago, I’ve had my mind blown open every time.  What he’s done with Texas Basketball, at Train 4 the Game in Austin, and now with the Philadelphia 76ers, is amazing.  Todd’s talk this year was about blending functional training with traditional training.  Considering everything he’s discussed, this was pretty straight forward.

Todd’s “functional training” looks at a vertical core that can resist movement in three planes of motion.  An understanding of this core function to resist movement lets us appreciate something that can seem complicated, like this Arm Driver circuit:

Todd’s movement approach can seem so different to traditional barbell lifting that we pass it by, but I absolutely love it for general training.  Why?  Because it’s so goddamn inefficient.  There’s almost no way to become proficient at a move such as this arm driver, or a more common lunge matrix, which means that you’re working hard the entire time that you’re doing it.  That means that there’s a more elevated heart rate, improving performance and maximizing calories burned through out the session. While he’s using it to train professionals athletes, I think the general population and fat loss benefits here are missed with traditional sagittal plane lifting.

Todd’s work has been a big impact on my programming at MFF for the movement and metabolic variability.  An athlete benefits by improving on an inefficient movement pattern.  Someone with a physique goal can benefit by practicing those inefficient patterns until they start to become efficient…then moving on to another one.

Alwyn Cosgrove – Metabolic Resistance Training

I’ve seen Alwyn give this presentation at least three times.  He discussed his Hierarchy of Fat Loss, published as a T-Nation article in 2007.  Alwyn has been discussing Metabolic Resistance Training for 8 years.  There are still things to learn.

There is a great deal of lag on the implementation of ‘cutting edge’ training information.  We still have fitness professionals prescribing aerobic work for fat loss.  We’re still discarding egg yolks because of fat phobia.  We still have people using the leg extension machine to train the quads of someone who wants to lose 100lbs.  Friends, there are better ways to do things.

The Hierarchy of Fat Loss is a checklist for approaching fat loss.  It starts with dietary change.  It really starts with diet; you can’t out train your diet.  Good luck trying to lose weight while you’re dating Ben & Jerry at the same time.

After diet, we’re looking at strength training.  It burns calories during the action, and it provides ‘spikes’ in metabolism while your body recovers and repairs from the workout.  Strength training is followed by metabolic resistance training, which includes elevating the heart rate while lifting weights.  This lets us have the benefits of strength training along with the benefits of cardio.  #DoubleDipping.

Following metabolic resistance training, anaerobic intervals come into play, followed by aerobic intervals, then aerobic steady state work.  Following this plan, going for a run to ‘burn fat’ is the least effective thing you can do for physique changes.

Mark Fisher and I have an on going discussion on the benefits of aerobic work for recovery, regeneration, and general health, and that’s a conversation I love having.  When it comes to strictly aesthetic goals however, aerobic work is at the bottom of the barrel.  Fortunately as Alwyn teaches more about metabolic resistance training, we’re ditching treadmills in favor of a more efficient approach.  We’re replacing processed foods with more vegetables.  We’re lifting barbells.  We’re swinging kettlebells.  We’re throwing medicine balls.  We push sleds, sprint up hills, and spin on the Airdyne.  If you’re doing those FIRST, you’re far more likely to see the results that you want.

Emily Splichal – The Art of Movement Efficiency

Dr. Splichal is an NYC-based podiatrist who’s discussion of movement efficiency was mostly focused on the biomechanics of the foot, ankle, and lower leg.  I’ve gotta tell you, it was great.  Several years after everyone was wearing their Vibram Five-Fingers to granola-toasting parties at organic vineyards, it seems that the barefoot movement isn’t as strong.  Don’t worry; it is!  They’re just quieter and more nuanced.

Our stinky toe-shoes may be less popular, but the need for authentic foot strength and movement is still essential. Emily explained that most of what she does is actually re-education after movement error:

Our bodies have evolved an incredible ability to move efficiently. We have fascia and tendons that transmit force to reduce the need for muscular work, letting us save calories; great for hunter-gatherers, worse for New Yawkas.  In our efforts to outsmart our bodies, we’ve created surfaces that interfere with our ability to move well.  The floors that we walk on do nothing to absorb force, so we’ve created sneakers to do just that.  Unfortunately, this combination can shift excess force into a lower quarter that wasn’t designed to deal with these forces.

Our body fights back against our shoes, and conditions like plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis, or compartment syndrome can result of the not-give-a-shit-itis we develop from wearing whatever we think is fashionable.  Unfortunately, the fashionable can make our fascia un-able, and problems can carry up the kinetic chain.

Rather than stuffing our toes into shoes, it helps to keep them free while we train, but only if we do so intelligently.  Switching to barefoot while on your 6 mile run is a sure-fire way to injure yourself even worse.  Instead, spend sometime without shoes on.  Walk around on grass.  Wiggle your toes in the sand.  Scrunch up a towel with your feet.  Try lifting in your socks one day.  Perhaps go on a longer walk as your feet acclimate to less supportive, structure footwear.  Slowly progress to a more free-footed environment.

As a general rule when it comes to training, do what you can without shoes, but we ultimately want to be able to perform at any level of support.  You’ll need to be strong in your cleats or boots, too, so preparing for that is just as wise:

After Emily’s talk, we boogied over to Viva Mexico Cantina Grill for lunch, with plentiful protein for all parties.  Armi Legge joined us for lunch, and we recapped the morning’s learning.  Then it was off to Small Point Cafe for coffee before returning to learning:

Don Saladino – The Drive To Be The Best

Don Saladino is the owner of Drive 495, a facility in Soho that integrates state-of-the-art golf training into their fitness solutions.  Golf isn’t all that they do, and Don spoke to the work that he’s been doing since they first opened.  He shared several of his success secrets learned in the process.

One of his keys is essential to any team:

Throughout Don’s talk, there was evidence of seized opportunities.  From working with specific individuals or companies, to improving on the work that Drive is doing, he reminded us of something simple:

Simple?  Yes.  Actionable?  Hell no.  This is hard.  Identifying and taking those steps takes passion, acceptance of fear, and tenacity, and there’s a level of business acumen that some trainers just don’t have.  As Don explained all of the things that were learned by doing as a business owner, he reminded us of something that echoed an earlier talk from Drive PT, Charlie Weingroff:

Starting at the finish and working backwards is a method to frame your business, and also to frame your workouts.  Where do you want to be at the end?  Work backwards from there until you identify where you’re starting.  This applies to the workout program, and to your fiscal year.  And, whichever you’re doing, do it well.  Do it with fire, or burn in the process.

I was so excited for the field after Don’s talk that a few of us skipped the following session to talk shop.  During a conversation with Brandon Rearick of Movement As Medicine, he remarked, “It’s the conversations that are the best part.” He’s totally right.  The conversations were great, and it sparked a few great talks on the way back to our room for Nap Time.  That’s right, we napped like champs.  Kyle and I went on a 30 minute Audible walk around the capital building, then headed back to the room to chat with Fisher and our new friends Jen of Drive 495 and Erica of MFI while getting ready for dinner.

I had the best steak of my life at Capital Grille, a kona-crusted sirloin.  Armi captured the moment when we realized that there were 10 steaks at our table, and Erica had a platter of grilled vegetables.  So much fun was had that night!

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Sunday

It would be a mistake to not say this: Sunday morning was entirely about Michael Mullin.  If there was one presenter I was looking forward to all weekend, it was Mike.  I’ve seen a ton of his work on The Fitcast I and Part II, as well as on SportsRehabExpert.com.  It was going to be good. After taking several PRI courses, my biggest beef is that the complexity of the material sets such a high barrier of understanding that it’s not palpable for the majority of trainers, and therefore the majority of their clients.  Mike has addressed that beautifully.

Michael Mullin – Understanding Sequencing & Asymmetrical Rotational Patterns on Principles of Postural Restoration

Mike discussed the overarching principles of the Postural Restoration Institute.  He also discussed how to sequence several of their most powerful breathing drills.  He did it while skimming past all of the clinical assessments, and most of the prohibitively complex information.  Already nailing it.

The Postural Restoration Institute shares an appreciation for the asymmetrical human body, and how that physical asymmetry influences our interaction with the world. Our asymmetry is completely natural, and while we can exacerbate our asymmetrical patterns, we can also minimize them, and therefore move and feel better.  It all starts with our asymmetrical diaphragm.

Diaphragm

We’d expect that if the heart is on the left side of our chest cavity, and we have an extra lobe on the right lung, the diaphragm isn’t going to be completely symmetrical either.  With an off-set central tendon, it creates a rotational pull on the lumbar spine below, while it’s action on the lungs above can lead to a rotation of the ribs in relation to the lumbar spine.  Here’s what a significant difference looks like.  Image from the Hruska Clinic:

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If you reach down and touch your own ribs, you might feel this very difference; the left side is higher than the right.  In the back, this means that the right side may stick back further than the left.  It’s a left rib flare and a right rib hump.  Neat, right?!

Below the diaphragm, this leads to some asymmetries at the hips. The right side of our pelvis, or the “hemipelvis” in PRI-land, gets pulled backwards, the left side gets pulled forwards, and we start shifting into right stance as a result of this pelvic obliquity. You’ll see this difference in the picture below:

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Now, we’re never going to be able to UNDO this asymmetry; we can move organs and tendons inside of your body. We can however minimize the rotational effects that is has on us.  If we can teach our diaphragm to work better, we can improve how the entire system works.  This is why breathing patterns can be so damn important.

A complete exhalation requires volitional use of the diaphragm, enhancing it’s ability to contract.  When we figure that out, we can find balance elsewhere in the system.  It’s these breathing drills that can build kinesthetic awareness, and ultimately help develop a system of self-care to enhance how we move and feel.  Often when we begin it can become a form of hard work.  A complete exhale shouldn’t be “max effort” or sound like Parseltongue.

When we implement breathing patterns, we’re seeking to reduce the influence of these dominant chains in the body.  In the upper body, this is the Right Brachial Chain, and in the lower body, this is the Left Anterior Interior Chain.  These chains are dominant in all of us, but we can minimize they’re effect.

Let’s get into some of the drills that Mike shared in his hands on, so we can readily reap these benefits.  I’ll start with one of my favorites, the belly lift breathing drill.  We use it because spinal flexion positions our ribs and our pelvis in an orientation that best allowing the diaphragm to do it’s job.  When our spine is extended, our diaphragm is inefficient, but when it’s flexed, we’re golden.  An extended lumbar spine is ‘normal’ for so many of us, and we’d like to undo some of that:

If we can re-orient the pelvis and the ribcage, we’re better positioning our diaphragm to do it’s job.  When that happens, everything else improves. The underlying directional pull of dominant polyarticular chains creates a rotational imbalance in the human body, and establishing optimal respiratory exchange prior to training can mitigate asymmetrical rotational forces on the system. What we’re searching for is a transition from the left to the right here:

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How the hell do we do that?  Let’s go through several exercises that Mike offered us.  We’re starting with the Belly Lift breathing, which is a part of every workout we do at MFF, as well as in every program I write for my coaching clients.  It’s simple and effective for managing mechanical and neurological tension.

You’ll notice that the flexed spine will enhance diaphragmatic function, but remember, that’s not a position that we want to load.  The goal isn’t to learn to how to keep the spine flexed.  Nope, everything else we appreciate about lumbar integrity holds true.  We just want to learn what that position is, so we can use it when we need it.

As a general rule for breathing, we’re going to focus on driving air into our upper back, or posterior mediastinum.  Filling that back with air may feel like you’re a turtle, and that’s great.  We’re inflating a balloon.  Really, two of them; your lungs!

From the Belly Lift, we can try the short seated reach, which is one of my favorites.  We can feel comfortable with a flexed spine in a supported squatting position, and this one is highly useable for those of us that may get stuck sitting a lot.  When those shoulders get tied and nasty, this can become an easy go-to move:

These two moves directly address rib position above the diaphragm, and this reduces torque by creating some movement occurring above and below that as well.  When we look at the naturally rotated position of the pelvis, we can address this with a favorite, the 90/90 hip lift.

90/90 is the king of hip control. We’re essentially ‘mounting’ your hips in position where  your hamstrings can serve as posterior tilters of the pelvis, and the dominant left anterior interior chain can relax a bit.  Here’s a demo of the magic from Aaron Swanson:

When the 90/90 is feeling good, we like to get back to standing and keep the same sensations.  Asking, “What are you feeling?” is so important.  Specific sensations is what makes these moves effective.  Because of the dominant L AIC pattern, we’re really good at getting into right stance, and not as good at left stance.  An overarching goal of all of this is to restore alternating, reciprocal gait.

If we’re burning bright on one side and merely twinkling on one side, we want to strive to find that left hip a little bit more:

Mike took a great deal of time to explain that this is not only about best preparing for exercise, but it’s about maximizing quality of life.  We have an incredibly powerful body, and when we have a better appreciation and use of it, we have inherently more power:

We were living on such a knowledge-bomb high after Mike rocked our morning that we visited our favorite coffee shop in Providence for what seemed like the 45th time that weekend.  Coffee, conversation, and breakfast sandwiches filled our bellies, and we continued the discussion as we left Providence to return to NYC.

Our chat included topics from the talks, as well as further building friendships. Kyle, Erica, Jen, and I all learned different things, and it was a pleasure to talk through what we’re looking forward to improving upon in our practices at home.

Closing Thoughts.

After 6 years, attendingThe Perform Better Functional Training Summit in Providence is still one of the best events I attend all year.  Recently it’s transitioned from a source of new thoughts to an opportunity to refine old ones, and for that it’s one of the best continuing education events you can attend.

If there’s one theme that I’ve gleaned from the weekend, it’s maximizing the power of a nuanced approach.  Over the course of the weekend, I appreciated an air of ‘balance’.  We had heavy lifting aficionados discussing the benefits of dedicated aerobic work.  We had medical professionals reminding us that strength training IS corrective exercise.  We had strength coaches explaining the merits of a pre-hab and regeneration work.  The industry is refining our ability to appropriately implement each of  the powerful tools available to us.  It’s great to be a part of.

Next Steps.

Two of the weekend’s presenters shared thoughts that appear diametrically opposite, and are one in the same:

Too often we create a training dichotomy between “Wants” and “Needs,” and it behooves all of us to instead look at a Continuum of Appropriateness.  When coaches write appropriate programs that account for physical and psychological needs, everyone benefits.  When trainees identify and improve upon areas that may be holding them back, everyone benefits.

Going forward, let’s continue the work on Balance, on improvement, and on making every aspect of our personal performance, better.  Until we meet again, Providence.

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