Strength and Wellness Coaching – what exactly is that?

Let me define my role as a professional strength and wellness coach as someone who has a system for helping people assess their current physical health, and helps them set individualised strategies to achieve improvements in physical strength and fitness, mobility, stress management, nutrition and sleep.

I will define wellness as the successful interplay between exercise, mobility, stress management, nutrition and sleep. When any one or more of these are ‘out of whack’ let’s say, they negatively influence the other components.

If you want to lose 5kg of unwanted fat you’ve gathered up over the past 10 years, the chances of losing it if you’re stressed and over exercising for example, will not prove successful. It does not matter how hard you exercise when stressed, losing that 5kg of fat will be the hardest thing you will ever do. However, with the right approach, considering the other wellness components and best practices, that 5kg will come off.

My role as a coach is not to tell you exactly what to do, but to help you see where you are now, and what steps can be taken, one at a time, towards achieving your goals following very simple and effective habit based approaches.

Why strength? I regard physical and mental strength as a vital component of overall wellbeing, but also place strength on a pedestal by itself as a quality that comes before all else. Strength is the foundation from where we can build all other qualities. As babies we built our original strength to breath, to move, to explore, to allow our bodies and brains to develop further. To move, to run, to live a long healthy life takes physical strength, and not accepting frailty as a given.

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FitStrong Strength & Wellness gym in Albany Creek

How do I provide Strength & Wellness coaching? The physical components of wellness are taught in the gym, in the bush tracks of our countryside and the streets around us. The gym is the perfect supervised place to build strength and movement skills whether that’s on a one-to-one basis or in a small group. Walking, running, hiking, cycling etc really is best developed in nature. I am not a proponent of indoor treadmill or ergometer training unless it is the only option. Our location in Brisbane is fantastic for getting out in the fresh air and exploring the suburbs or rambling through any of our conservation parks.

The skill components of building healthier eating, sleeping, stress management habits are built either one-to-one in person or via social media (private facebook page for members) and bespoke online programs.

Very soon I will be releasing the first product to help get started by setting solid foundations from where to develop awesome Strength and Wellness. This short habit building program will demonstrate how quick and simple it can be to form new habits. Whether you want to stop snacking, want to start stretching more often, this short program will help.

To take part in this short program, please complete the following form and you will be notified when it is ready to commence.

The ‘Priority’ Kettlebell Complex

Did you know it’s totally ok to have only a short amount of time to train and to have training priorities and to expect results?

Usually time constraints mean you have to sacrifice moving forward towards gaining results in strength and fitness and have to instead make do with maintaining, or practicing. These latter two are of course vital aspects of continuing training but it’s commonly accepted that moving forward is only possible with detailed and lengthy training sessions. While this is true for big goals, you can still up your press, squat, cleans and swing strength with this simple Priority Stacked Complex.

A complex if unfamiliar, is a set of more than 2 exercises carried out back to back without resting the weight on the floor. An example would be performing cleans, moving straight to push presses and moving straight onto to performing front squats.

You can of course organise the sequence of the individual exercises to prioritise one exercise over the others. An example here would be performing more of the push press whilst carrying out fewer of the other movements.

A stacked complex is what I call a complex that grows per set by adding on a new additional exercise. I stack on a new exercise to practice after the first and prioritised exercise. In essence, the first exercise performed is the priority, the second is second priority and the final is least. All based on the total volume you’ll amount over the rounds.

The below routine demonstrates this idea.

The Priority Stacked Complex

Note: the 3 sets = 1 round.

Day 1.

  • Swing,
  • Swing, clean and press
  • Swing, clean and press, squat
  • Rest as needed before repeating

Day 2.

  • Clean and press
  • Clean and press, swing
  • Clean and press, swing, squat
  • Rest as needed before repeating

Day 3.

  • Squat
  • Squat, clean and press
  • Squat, clean and press, swing
  • Rest as needed before repeating

You can see how over the three sets you will perform the same movements but per day you prioritise either the Swing, Clean and Press or Squat.

In a program you could repeat the above round of the stacked complex for a total of 2 to 4 rounds, depending on repetitions. You could decide on working with a single arm / 1 kettlebell or double / 2 kettlebells, dependant on your ability and skill level.

So, let’s look at the repetitions with consideration to goals.

General Work Capacity:

6 to 8 reps of each movement.

This would amount quite a number of total reps on the final set of each round, 24 to 32 repetitions in fact. You would choose a weight that’s not close to your top strength 3 to 5 rep weight – maybe a kettlebell you could perform the weakest exercise of the complex for 10 reps.

General Strength:

5 repetitions of each movement. A conservative number for general strength development. Use a kettlebell you can perform the weakest movement in the complex for 7 reps.

Focussed Strength:

3 to 5 reps for the first / prioritised movement then just 1 for the following. You get to focus on that prioritised lift whilst performing simple practice of the others. Some may say to not bother with the following exercises and instead just perform the focussed exercise. But look, if you are stuck for time, getting any practice of the other moves is time well spent. Specialised programs are fine for a small percentage of the annual schedule and if this isn’t one of those times, keep up whatever practice you can, whenever you can. Use a weight that is 5 to 6 rep max (technical max).

There are lots of ways to build the numbers. I’m not writing this to argue a point but simply to demonstrate one solution. You could even just do singles for each movement in the complex to form a chain of heavy lifts.

Over a 4 week cycle, you could start with general work capacity, then move to general strength, to focussed strength before finishing the cycle with just heavy singles. Just an idea.

The Video below simply demonstrates the sequences listed for Day 1 with 5 reps per movement.

Got any feedback, questions or suggestions? Pop them on the contact form below.

Mobility Moves for Cyclists

Cycling can be a liberating experience. The wind through your hair, the freedom to roam the countryside and the unquestionably healthy exercise that it provides, makes it an easy addiction. However, nothing takes all the pros away like aches and pains.

Many cyclists will report how their best plans were irritated or cut short by back, knee or neck pain. 

Yes, cycling is great for you but let’s be honest, the cycling posture probably isn’t helping you.

In early 2018 I’ll be opening up sessions for cyclists who want to nip this irritation in the butt with a simple but effective program that targets both mobility and strength specific to what a cyclist needs.

Cycling will do wonders for your waist line and cardiovascular health but to get the most out of your time on the bike, keeping your body mobile, flexible and free from localised tension is vital. On top of that, developing crucial strengths will help you master your bike on the road and trails and help prevent fatigue.

In this first of two posts I am sharing my top THREE mobility moves to help cyclists stay ache free.

In a follow up post I’ll cover the essential top THREE strength moves. Yes, there are more than three mobility and strength activities to optimise your cycling time, but start with the basics.

 

 

A New Program for Cyclists

This post and the follow up are a brief glimpse of a new program for fellow cyclists that will be released in 2018.

I’ll be offering this as a 6 week program but for limited numbers of applicants as I want to offer a great service which can often be sacrificed with large numbers of participants.

If you are interested in getting stronger as a cyclist and want to work on eliminating the frustrating aches and pains that maybe keep you off the bike from time to time, get in touch below. You can use this form too to get put onto the early registration list… no commitment is required of course.

Oh, and wait, if you are not local to Albany Creek (Northern Brisbane suburb) I will also be putting together an online program will be nearly as good as the in-person program.

Interested? Send off the wee form below.

 

 

Men Wanted … for Thrivival!

Survival vs Thrivival!

Wow, now that’s a mouthful. Hopefully it got your attention whilst everything else on the internet vies for your attention too. 

Right now there is a growing population of men entering into their 40s and heading towards their 50s, me included. We’re faced with a couple of issues in this age category. There are some of us who have been physically active since leaving school who may have picked up a few tweaks along the way. Of course, there are some too who have been either lucky or strategic (whether intentional or not) to have avoided any injuries, aches and pains. 

There are also those of us who got side-tracked after school or college and now wonder what happened to that 30″ waist and the last 20 years.

At this point, as a 44 year man, father and husband and full time trainer, I’m looking at my daughter growing up and wondering about chasing grand children around and still being able to contribute in another 20 years time. I don’t want to be like so many other 60+ men who have fallen from physical grace, struggling to achieve even the most basic of day to day physical tasks. 

But, I am man who prides himself in being able to move well without pain, who can still throw around the weights albeit with sense and planning and I still want to and plan to do just that for another 20, 30 maybe 40 years. If I can age like the late and great Jack LaLanne, still active and leading by example in my 90s, then I will.

I won’t get there by chasing arbitrary numbers in the gym, beating myself up along the way like so many other gym rats in pursuit of a random goal. I will succeed by practicing the skills of strength and mobility pertaining to what I enjoy, what I need and want to focus on. In fact, this is exactly what I have been doing for the past few years along with most of my keen and eager gym members and friends, practicing the skill of strength. Members have progressed to be able to exercise without pain, regained confidence, lowered stress and have been able to get fitter and stronger than their 10 year younger selves. 

No pain, know gain.

Thrivival (just the word I’ve coined for this piece) is about thriving in our own lives so we can live, long and happy, pain free and able to contribute to the lives of our family, community and circle of friends. 

I don’t want to go into a lengthy, explanatory article here, but I want to invite other men like me, to discover how to still train for strength, to move better without creaking and find a way of exercising that isn’t threatening, but empowering. 

Nuf said!

To recap, I’m looking for a small bunch of men aged between 40-50 (maybe older, why not) who are looking to improve their health, strength and fitness but, without getting busted up along the way. 

Men who want to:

  1. Move without aches or pains
  2. Leave a training session feeling better than when they came in
  3. Rediscover how to use your own body to get stronger and tougher

Spots are limited and I’m looking for men who want to start now between early morning sessions and mid morning sessions at least twice a week.

If this is you, please fill out the form below.

Jamie

 

Just a very, very small glance of some moves we practice.
The list of options for YOU is huge.

How to Accomplish the Eagle

Coach Dan John has been an incredible influencer of many trainers over the past 10 years+, myself included. He has an incredible way of breaking down exercises and training methodology into the simplest nuggets of information that even the slowest of idiots, myself included can digest.

He also has a talent for creating programs and routines that’ll build any man-child into a warrior and any girly-girl into a feisty warrior princess!

One such routine is called the Eagle, which I wrote about before. Check it out

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Down to Business

The following 8 week program is just one of many solutions to help accomplishing the Eagle program described below by Dan John. I am pretty sure many other trainers could build a method to take on and of course, complete the Eagle with ease and mastery. My plan is simple, direct and yes, it works fine. Just follow the dam plan.

‘The athlete simply does 8 double-kettlebell front squats and then drops the weight to his sides and does a farmer’s walk for 20 meters. He then does another 8 squats. Repeat until completing eight circuits and then hurl in a bush because the workload is incredible. The suggested load for a high school male is two 24-kilo bells while females should start with 12-kilo bells. (While the suggested load may seem light, oftentimes the goal wasn’t met.)’ Dan John

Now, the program below is written to look like it takes a linear progression, gradually building up the volume and work capacity. However, what I heavily suggest doing are back-steps any time you feel the need. For example, let’s say you get to week 5, day 5 and realise you cannot complete the session. I’d suggest that the following session you return to week 3 and repeat it for a slightly less stressful week. You may of course just go back one week if week 5 was only slightly unbearable! Be reasonable with yourself.

I personally completed this program in 12 weeks haha. I back-stepped a couple of times to gain better mastery of the squat volume and arm endurance. I’ve weak arms!

Even though this is an intensive 8 week program it isn’t worth busting yourself up over. Consider this program a ‘mastery of the Squat and Carry’ combination. You don’t want to complete it feeling crap and beaten up. You want to finish the complete Eagle challenge session at the end, competently, safely and with a smile on your dial.

Each week the program comprises of a mobility and conditioning session, a medium effort squat and mixed loaded carry session and a heavier going squat and farmers walk session. The work to rest ratio is different for these squat and carry sessions.

Maybe follow a Monday, Wednesday and Saturday plan of assault but, ultimately it is up to you how you lay your week out with other factors considered, just don’t try to complete the sessions on back to back days. Rest more if needed.

Ideally take a day or two of active rest between these 3 sessions. And talking earlier of not getting beaten up, the days when you’re not squatting and carrying, I wholeheartedly recommend that you carry out a full routine of Original Strength resets along with wrist mobility (VIDEO HERE).

 

Once you have the program completed, take 4 days active recovery before tackling the Eagle.

 

Prerequisite

The Eagle and this program, requires the trainee to be able to perform front squats and farmers carries with two 24kg kettlebells for gents and two 12kg kettlebells for ladies. If unable to squat and carry these loads for 10 reps, then another program is required to be able to do that before tackling this. If that is the case, get in touch and i’ll sort you out.

 

Without further ado, here’s the PLAN…


Session 1

This session should remain relatively consistent throughout the program, only progressing any of the moves as and when you feel it necessary.

Week 1, day 1 starts with this – measure yourself… just in case anything grows or shrinks!

  • Measure hips at widest and waist around the belly button line.
  • Measure your thigh circumference too, mid way between your knee cap (knee bent) and the crease of your hips.
Routine
  • Warm up with Original Strength movements
  • Spend 10 mins alternating between a hardstyle plank and active hangs.

Or

  • Spend 10 mins alternating between the hollow and suspension ring rows
  • Finish with the Brettzel Stretch and rolling

There are no specific reps or sets, just work within your limits, do what feels like you’re working something but not busting your gut.

 


SESSION 2

This session works on increasing work capacity (the ability to do more in a given time) using ‘on the minute’ (OTM) timing. Each minute on the minute, you start the superset of squats and carries or cleans as specified. Whilst the sessions may only be 5 to 8 minutes in length, they pack a punch. Enjoy!

Warm up with a thorough mobility session of Original Strength movements.

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Cool Down with rocks, rolls and the brettzel stretch. I’d recommend wrist mobility exercises too.

 


SESSION 3

Session 3 builds endurance as you gradually superset the squat and carry more and more over the sessions. This time however, the carry remains the farmers walk. The carries build up in frequency over the weeks.

The final session sees you actually accumulate the Eagle volume of squats and carries at which point, carrying two 24s will be feeling more comfortable.

The squats will be increased with a simple rep ladder progression, from 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 reps building up to 8 sets of 8 reps.

Work to rest periods are similar to session 2, roughly a 1:2 work rest ratio but as you progress, feel free to play with this.

I encourage the use of rocks and head nods as a reset or active recoveries between sets.

When you (c. 20) this simply means to carry for 20 steps (we’re just considering a step a metre for this program) immediately after the squat set, as a superset.

Warm up with a thorough mobility session of Original Strength movements.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-4-25-39-pm

Cool Down with rocks, rolls and the brettzel stretch. I’d recommend wrist mobility exercises too.

Take four days active rest, then tackle the Eagle. You might want to measure out the 20m for the carries so you’ve one less thing to worry about during the challenge.

This rest period would also be a good time to retake those measurements from Week 1, Day 1.

Let me know how you got on and what size differences you recorded if any.

program printable pdf
Questions?

Post them on https://www.facebook.com/FitStrongPT/

Email: jamie@fitstrong.com.au

Good luck,

Jamie Hunter

FitStrong PT

 

DISCLAIMER The author and publisher of this material are not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury that may occur through following the instructions contained in this material. The activities, physical and otherwise, described herein for informational purposes only, may be too strenuous or dangerous for some people. Always consult a physician before engaging in an exercise regimen.

 

Why You Need Crawling in Your Life

Crawling is awesome and it’ll boost your fitness, strength, coordination and give you killer abs in just minutes a day…. hold on haha, that’s just too short, a bit like an infomercial and to be honest, not telling the story very well at all.

I re-discovered crawling in the past few years and I can only praise the movement and thank those for bringing to light just how awesome crawling is. I literally owe my ability to do more things now (note: and without pain) than I could even when I could squat 200kg!

So, what’s all the fuss about? I’m sure you may have seen some news reports on TV or in magazines etc. so, let’s start here, with a couple of observations.

Walk into pretty much any gym and what do you see? People exercising is probably your first thought before getting to details like running, cycling and rowing on stationary machines. You’ll note people too, in some very solid metal structures doing seated exercises for their legs, arms and back etc and yep, you’ll possibly see some people squatting, pressing and lifting barbells and dumbbells. Probably 90% of all this myriad of activities look impressive to you and to be honest, well done to those individuals for making the effort to rock up and exercise. Doing something is better than doing nothing at all you’ll agree, but, that’s where I’ll turn this around a little.

Most of the gym activities look fine until you look under the hood of what’s not happening or should I rephrase that as ‘not required to happen’.

A few big components missing from most gym training especially on sturdy machines is balance, stability and in particular reflexive stability.  The structure of the machine and its moving parts that you press, pull or whatever, takes away the natural movement from you. So, whilst you do get to target a few specific areas or body parts, it is far from being a whole and human movement as all you end up doing is moving in the directions that the machine allows for.

In life when you need to perform a physical task, it’s your whole body that’s expected to react by means of reflexes to undertake the task.

We learned these reflexes naturally when we were kids. We moved around, explored our environments, stumbled, fell a few times but got back up and made improvements. Our balance, reflexes and control of our whole body became awesome.

We developed our original strength.

Sitting on a machine is far from this natural awesomeness!

Now, it’s not just gym machines that I’m pointing fingers at. Many other elements of modern living have enabled physical non competencies and allowed our bodies to forget what human movement is.

Between sitting too much generally, at work and at home and rarely getting to the floor for any reason, we are gradually forgetting what our human movement is and we’re gradually losing connection with our bodies. Our bodies are losing grips with the simplest of activities we’re meant to be able to do comfortably and without risk of strain!

I know, that last bit may read a bit woo-woo, but seriously. Look around you at other adults, and not just our seniors and check out how they move, kneel down to tie a shoe lace or pick up their child. It shouldn’t look like a labour, but in most cases it is.

Soooooo, before I get much more righteous, what has crawling got to do with this demise and doom’n gloom etc?

First off, crawling is a movement pattern that’s natural but much more importantly I consider the act of crawling as a great big switch.

Let me explain

The crawl is indeed something we all did as young kids to move around until we discovered the ability of walking. It prepared and taught us quite a bit. Check out the learning list:

  • The movement pattern of gait; crawling, walking, climbing, running, sprinting with a simultaneous opposite arm swing. Seriously, try walking or running without your arms and you’ll figure out that it sucks!
  • It ties together our bodies muscles and developed the reflexes that allows for balance and coordination.
  • Head control. keeping that big mellon of ours steady whilst we moved around.
  • Develops eye body communication.
  • Develops mobility and stability in the 4 knots of the body; the two hips and two shoulders.
Why is this important for an adult, why do we need to crawl then?

In the quickest and easiest way to rationalise the why – adults are failing to move well.

In communities where adults have to move around frequently, get to the ground and back up easily and frequently, they move well generally. They walk tall, with good gait, arm’s a swingin’ and they probably don’t suffer the same lifestyle related issues compared to those communities who choose not to move often.

The simplest demonstration and practice of a crawl pattern is the static crawl and crawling in place.

Check out and even try this ‘Cross Crawling in place’ explained by Mark Cheng

If you can do this successfully then you’re in a good place physically. Struggle, wiggle and wobble a little? You need cross crawling in your life.

Now, let me explain one thing. The crawl as practiced by an adult should be used in my professional opinion as a tool to wake up dormant muscles and to reactivate forgotten movement skills to repair our function, posture and general wellbeing. It’s a tool that should be a in tool box with other great, purposeful health and fitness activities.

While it might get you a little out of breath, it’s not a fitness solution alone, not an interval tabatta tool or something that should be rushed or raced through.

On that note, how to crawl

There are a variety of methods of crawling from baby crawls which keeps us on our toes, knees and hands to more progressive variations like the spiderman crawl and leopard crawl.

To begin with, the baby crawl is where is starts. Mindful, slow crawling with the head up, looking where you’re going and having fun exploring the ground in the crawl position. If this proves a challenge, the crawling in place as per the video above is a great solution.

The spiderman, leopard crawl and other variations should only be practiced once the baby crawl is controlled. By control, I like to test this by having myself and clients do the baby crawl with a water bottle or yoga block on our backs and trying not to let it fall off whilst crawling. If our hips are dropping, balance falters, then we need more work.

To learn more about how to carry out the more advanced crawls, please watch the following videos but, in all seriousness, I really think more people need to start out at home practicing the baby crawl for a period of 1 to 5 minutes then getting up an moving on with daily activities. If this challenge is overcome, then the world of more fun crawls awaits.

Leopard Crawl

No space to crawl?

Multidirectional crawling

And, here’s Original Strengths Tim Anderson talking about the Spiderman Crawl

If you’ve managed to read this far, maybe you’re interested and you’d like to explore crawling more.

If so, fill in the contact form to arrange an introduction to your ‘core’ and crawling.

Peace,

Jamie Hunter

FitStrong Brisbane

Albany Creek, Qld 4035

Can’t Afford a Personal Trainer You Say?

On most occasions, trainers come up against this one overriding question on receipt of an enquiry – “how much do you cost”?

Yep, money rules but to quote the cliche, ‘you get what you pay for’… or do you?

Firstly, when you meet a trainer one-to-one, you aren’t really paying for a particular service, you’re exchanging a fee for their skills, experience and knowledge. If you are looking for a safe and effective outcome or experience, you’ll most likely place this on your prerequisite not cost.

a8305f265e95a6a0be0508d6a27c1566Think about it. If you wanted your hair done for a night out on the town, are you likely to choose the cheapest hair dresser?

I doubt it. I imagine you’ll want someone with experience and skill to look after your plumage. Why then would it be different when choosing someone you’ll be entrusting your physical wellbeing with?

The Problem

The average professional career life of a trainer in Australia is between 1 – 3 years according to the Australian Fitness Network. Many factors lead to the end of the dream for these 1000’s of trainers every year but sadly this reflects on the experience levels of trainers out there. In 2012 approximately 10000 personal trainer candidates where studying for their certificates. Whilst I do commend those pursuing a career in fitness, I must confess, it’s takes a lot of ongoing education past the initial cert 3 and 4 in Fitness. It takes determination, networking, lots and lots of marketing just to get a few new clients.

With so many new trainers circulating, the average experience level is very low and yes, many new trainers will respect this and have lower fees to reflect on this. Conversely though, it makes it harder for the in-the-market-for-PT customers to weigh up their decisions. A newbie may charge $25-$35 for a session whereas an experienced trainer with 8-10 years may charge $75 to $100 an hour.

The Solution

Thinking empathetically of the average customer, it can be a challenge to pay for a well experienced trainer to train them 2-3 times a week. However, rather than turn away this potential customer, many trainers, myself included have addressed this issue by providing Sharing solutions and Online Training.

Kettlebell-Swings-Partner

Working out with kettlebells

Shared or semi-private training allows for 2-3 people in a session where the trainer can supervise and instruct individuals successfully. A good indicator of an experienced trainer is just that – being able to instruct 3 people simultaneously! The investment is lower for the participants whilst the trainer is remunerated appropriately.

 

Online Training is a great way to gain training in the comfort of your own home or gym without the trainer having to actually be present. Systems are set in place where the client is provided with a detailed program, delivered via a smartphone app and uses a combination of videos and instructions. Accountability is provided by in-app messaging and frequent check-ins with the trainer.Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 11.50.08 AM

Online training again, is a cheaper alternative as a lot of the resources supplied by the trainer is already on file or automated cutting down on trainer workload time.

So, whilst face to face training can be cheap and nasty, or an investment, there are options. If looking for a trainer, be sure to ask them what experience they have, how they continue their education and of course, do they provide shared training and online training.

I sure do and love the variable working styles each provide me.

If interested in learning more about what FitStrong Brisbane does, or if you’re a trainer wondering how to step up your skills, please do get in touch.

Yours in health,

Jamie Hunter

 

Winter’s Coming, so Get Flexible!

As winter sets in here in Australia, many of us will inevitably spend more time sitting, huddled up in the evenings and maybe not doing the full range of physical activities we pursue in the warmer months. Now, I know this won’t apply to everyone but, in particular, I’m addressing the cold haters… you know who you are!

This lack of moving has no rewards. Your body doesn’t need to be huddled up. And we’re not hibernators. There, I said it!

With a lack of incidental mobility, flexibility will in turn take a hit and this causes problems. 

I’m actually writing this straight after a training session with a client who has just had a week off work. His biggest issues today were his hamstrings and hip flexors. He did stay active during his work break and in fact he did a 12km walk a couple days earlier but, his sitting quotient rose considerably over the week, despite his higher than usual physical activity.  An extra couple of hours of exercise in way balances out an extra 30+ hours sitting when he’d normally be on his feet at work. It’s not a criticism, it’s just what happens when when we remove mobility, purposeful or incidental.

Getting back on topic – flexibility. It’s a controversial subject that causes riffs in the strength conditioning world. Many trainers will shun ‘doing stretches’ whilst others will proclaim it’s a high agenda component of recovery post exercise.

The reality, it’s probably somewhere in the middle of priorities for the average population but as we age, or become less active such in the colder months, its importance rises.

The benefits of flexibility are so great that training experts like Ian King call flexibility the last frontier of human performance. King also said:

Flexibility, generally speaking, is the most important physical quality. The impact of the flexibility on all other physical qualities is greater than the one of any other single physical quality. Flexibility potentially improves strength, speed and endurance more than any of these qualities impact on the other. In addition, I believe of all physical qualities, this one has the greatest impact on injury prevention. Flexibility training also potentially has the greatest contribution to recovery of all the physical qualities.”

(cited from this article: https://breakingmuscle.com/mobility-recovery/flexibility-is-like-any-other-discipline-it-takes-discipline)

So, what’s a reasonable action we can all take? I say reasonable because I could very well list 6-10 stretches to do in the evening and after whatever exercise you are doing but ‘nah’, you’ll probably not do them. Instead, I want to share what is in my opinion, the best of all stretches for unravelling our bodies tension from all the poor postures we put ourselves into.

Enter The Brettzel…

Brett Jones and Gray Cook introduced the world to this stretch in 2008 and it has slowly spread around the training circles. It’s a simple shape to get into although it may still be challenging to some. It will help reduce tensions but also helps us to identify asymmetries and imbalances in all the corners of the body.

Without further nattering from me, here are a couple of videos of the Brettzel. I would really encourage you to play with this simple stretch. Don’t go to pain and if you can’t breath properly, you shouldn’t be in that position. If concerned, just drop me a message.

 

Here’s another version of the Bretzel:

 

So, instead of huddling up, learn the Brettzel… maybe in front of a heater!

Motion is Lotion

A wise man once told me how motion is lotion. How true these words ring with me.

Let me explain.

I’m getting older and I seem to be training greater percentages of people in my age demographic. Yes, I still train people much younger and older than me who present themselves with their own physical strengths, limitations and goals but, what I see in everyone in their late 30s to 50s is really quite specific.

frustrated-woman

The pain points that resonate are both actual pain points as well as intrinsic pain points and drivers. The problems facing each of us include:

  1. Posture related issues from years of working behind a desk
  2. Old sports injuries or other acquired injuries and strains
  3. Stress from work and modern life
  4. Lack of exercise full-stop

These are the problems or burdens of course, the pain points are deeper and emotional. Lets look at the above list to develop the pain points you may see reflected in yourself.

  1. Posture issues = pain, stiffness, sore heads, poor sleep. These things are what you want to feel less of and experience more of the opposite.
  2. Old injuries = almost as above but if you exercise or still desire to participate in your sport of choice, you might want a way to still exercise, play sport but without the old injuries resurrecting.
  3. Stress = relationship strain, poor work performance, no balance or escape. You simply want away from those stressful environments to work on activities that are not stressful. Play, fun, uplifting physical activities have been shown time and time again to help cope with stress.
  4. Lack of exercise = feeling weak, unfit, old, achy, tired all the time, unable to cope with stress and pretty much most of the above! If a lack of exercise is acknowledged it can be daunting and confusing deciding how to start an exercise plan.

For all these issues, the salutogenic factor is the lotion of motion.

Motion is the purest and simplest remedy to many physical and emotional strifes.

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Old Trainer!

As a trainer, getting older, with a list of old injuries from sports, early gym endeavours (yep, I made a fair few mistakes in the early years and I paid for those experiences) I can empathise with my peers. Now, 5 years ago I would be advocating all the big barbell lifts. Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press, Military Press and flipping big tyres but you know what, as fun as they are, they just a few things we can do, should do and are designed by nature to do.

Moving well should be the first priority, long before a barbell should be hoisted up for action. If we can’t move ourselves through a variety of positions, then should we really be attempting to move a heavy external load? If you feel you can answer that with an honest rational, then please do.

We owe it our bodies to best prepare it for life and all nature has planned for us in the future. How do we do that then? By just playing with movement.

I’m not saying to drop the kettlebell or barbell exercise, don’t get me wrong, I love my kettlebell training but, I probably wouldn’t be able to do exercise with kettlebells or bars if it wasn’t for the other ‘stuff’ that I play with.

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I’ve always loved calisthenic movements, even though I play mostly with the simplest, rudimentary forms of them but, they keep me lubricated,  greased and ready for doing the heavy stuff.

In the past couple of years I’ve been introducing more body movement activities, from the systemised Original Strength to other movements, and less heavy activities especially for my age demographics. Mostly, the pain points get addressed, actual pain is reduced, the sense of wellness increases and one great testimony I receive is …

I leave the gym feeling better than when I came in!

That right there, is what I want to help more people with. But, to start with, I need to get more people on board with doing more body weight exercise.

The problem most exercisers have with unloaded body weight exercise is that they see it as something too easy, something real beginners do cause they don’t have weights equipment to do trix with yet!

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And yes, Trix are for kids, but kids mostly still move and play…..AND SO this brings me to close this rather lengthy post.

This week I’ve introduced a Strength Mobility Challenge to FitStrong.

No weights, no kettlebells, just three body weight movements most people can do.

You are more than welcome to give it a try and post your results below. I’ll be running open events for FitStrongers to give it a go too and of course, I shall undertake the challenge very soon myself.

Here it is:

 

 

 

Good luck, move well, move often and smile 🙂

Jamie

I’m not flexible, I’m mobile!

A large component of my training focuses on moving well and that’s a journey I started after old sports injuries slowed me down and made my life a general discomfort, a stressor and forced me to stop a lot of the things I enjoyed… Gosh, what a miserable way to start a blog post!

Let’s fix that right now.

In the present day, I move a lot better, pretty dam well by average standards, my aches and pains are largely under control and I do get to play more, running around the bush (countryside for non-Aussies) and swing, press and squat my Kettlebells. Life’s generally rocking sweet \m/(><)\m/

IMG_0314When I share my training sessions or demonstrate some movements I get called bendy or flexible, “ooh, you must stretch all the time”, they say!

Actually, I do only one stretch most days (video below) but I do practice a fair amount of mobility.

Now, mobility isn’t just a description of not being confined to a chair for large periods of time as it often applies to some of our seniors. Mobility is something much more, but also includes the ability to get out of a seat too.

Mobility is NOT flexibility!

Flexibility describes the movement of a joint or the range of movement of a limb or torso often with the aid of gravity pulling upon it or a force being applied to it. Think of the hamstring flexibility stretch where stretchees (think I just made up that word… mmmm) sit on the floor, grab their toes with the legs straight and pull themselves forward. Or maybe a chest stretch with an arm pulled backwards against a wall or a post. Whilst these are fine stretches to temporarily relieve a general tension, mobility adds a much more applicable element, that of strength and integrity in the joints.

A lot of our daily practices from sitting, prolonged standing, chronic stillness to even sports can, over time, lead to a lack of good movement or the ability to control a limbs movement without restriction. These are often due to imbalances or over dominant movements, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Dangerous Deficit

Aye, that heading does sound like a bad title to an even badder book about finances but it’s not.

While being able to move to a certain range of movement before the body stops us is our flexibility, being able to use our strength to attain a full range of movement is mobility. Where there is a large difference between the two, a movement deficit, there is a greater risk of injury during physical activities.

Being able to control a movement to a certain point is done so with control and integrity, but once you go beyond that point, is there still control and integrity? Nope. The chance of injury has now increased and should loading be applied… well, the risk sores higher.

So you may be asking if flexibility is bad, well, no. It’s the difference between your flexibility and mobility that’s the problem.

You can be flexible and mobile but should not be flexible and immobile.

You clear on the message? If not, please get in touch and I’ll happily elaborate further…. and check out the videos below 😀

Everyone’s got to have the sickness

‘Cause everyone seems to need the cure

-Metallica

Yep, stiff and sore people are flailing their bodies around gym mats in the hope of curing what ails them and their tight this, that and the other, but dammit, what they need is to get stronger in their movement practice.

A mobility plan doesn’t need to be very hectic, painful or even that challenging to begin with. Like every physical endeavour, mobility training can be taken to extremes and I’m all for progressing but for most of us and definitely beginners, a slow and reasonable routine should be followed, practiced and really ‘owned’ before looking at advancements for their enhancements!

Where to start?

Well, I’m a lovely young man, well that’s what the old people describe me as and everyone else doesn’t think too badly of me either, so I’m happy to share some simple demos below just to give you an idea of what could be included in a personal mobility plan.

If you like reading, check out the Original Strength books from Tim Anderson and Geoff Neupert, it is probably the one system that has influenced me the most.

The simplicity of mobility training makes it often an easy component of exercise to ignore or belittle, especially when the movements may look odd, unloaded, don’t require any equipment etc. But by embracing an every day practice without duress or stress can lead to great outcomes in physicals wellness which will include improved strength.

These are some of the basic mobility drills everyone can and should play with on a daily basis.

Rocking:

Segmented Rolling:

Windshield Wipers:

Squats:

Frog stretch: by Master SFG Jon Engum

My only stretch:

Brettzel Stretch 1.0:

Brettzel 2.0:

Click HERE for other mobility sessions. 

You really don’t have to make a big deal about mobility practice. It’s just something to build into a daily habit and may mean starting with just on move that you feel adds to your day. Maybe something that frees up an irritating tight spot or a movement that is fun or inspires you to get on with your day with vitality or maybe a mobility drill that you find challenging like crawling.

In any case, the point here is to find a movement practice that you will actually practice. Just get it done, thrive and move on with your day.

As an example, here’s an actual example of what I do early morning before my first clients arrive.

This year I’m running frequent  Mobility Workshops. If you would like to attend, please get in touch to get onto the mailing list. (no junk, just notification of upcoming workshops)