Category Archives: functional movement screen

7 Steps to a Fast Body

Leave a comment
Home of the Natural Method

From the concept of creating a FAST (Flexible Agile Strong Toned) body to deliver all-around athleticism, there are seven elements that should make up any training session in order to achieve your goal of total and complete fitness.

By following these simple guidelines, broken up into 7 easy steps, you will achieve what most programs promise you after 90 days without a realistic plan on how to continue beyond that. While it takes about 3 weeks to create a habit and about 3 months to keep one, too many of the advertised programs out there are short-sighted in the sense that their promise ends when the programs ends; you wind up usually too beat up from the intensity to even want to look at another set of jumping jacks or killer crunches. And that’s where the problem lies: sustainability.

Nothing else in your life works is encapsulated with finality into a short term period: it takes years to raise your kids, to get an education (and stay current). Your job is a great example too: for most of us, we have to stay and remain employed in order to live. I haven’t seen any get rich quick scheme that promises you to achieve all your dreams after only 3 months, followed up by a super early retirement!

“Anything worth doing is worth repeating”

So, just like your job, you have daily tasks that you do on any given day, which yield results and lead to the next day, week or month, giving you a sense of accomplishment, of progress, even if you know there is still more to do. The daily reward comes from the work, not from the results as they may not be near.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”

 Chasing the end goal or results can be the downfall of any journey, as it makes you focus so much on it, you can lose faith in the process. I have had many weight loss clients who, after having lost 30, 40 even 50 pounds, still had another 50+ pounds to lose. To someone who didn’t know them, they were still overweight, they still hadn’t achieved their ultimate goal, but they were reaping the physiological and psychological benefits of better health and considence every day because they trusted the process!

 There is no secret, and there is nothing new. Just like an old family recipe, or a trade secret, what stands the test of time is the key to true success. It is no different in fitness, and here are your 7 steps to total fitness!

STEP 1: FUNDAMENTAL EXERCISES

Fundamental exercises

As their name indicates, the fundamental exercises, also called basic educational exercises lay down the foundation for all your work. Not just a warm-up to get the blood flowing and the joints loosened up, they also comprise movement in all angles used for every aspect of your workout, as well as for the ultimate goal of playing sports, being conditioned for physical labor, or simply enjoy a healthy life where you may have to resort to tapping into that “fitness insurance”!

Using the rules of 7, we have:

  • 7 major joints: neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips knees and ankles.
  • 7 major arm positions: hands at hips, hands at shoulders, hands at chest, arms extended out, hands behind the head, one arm up & one arm down, both arms overhead.

Using the 7 joints guideline, we then use the 7 hand positions to perform movements that engage the joints. The simple placement of the hands takes care of joints 3 (wrists, elbows, shoulders) and by performing deep knee bends, squats or lunges, as well as single leg balancing exercises, we take care of the hips, knees and ankles.

The neck is taken care of through tilting, twisting, rolling, flexion and extension.

Another area to add to the mix is the spine, which can be worked the same way as the neck (even simultaneously): back extension, back flexion, lateral bending, twisting. The neck simply needs to follow the motions of the spine, e.g. if you bend sideways to the left, the neck, as an extension of the spine, also bends to the left.

STEP 2: KICKING AND PUNCHING

High Side Kick

Punching and kicking drills are both an extension of the fundamentals, as they simultaneously move the body in all planes and angles of movement and engage all the muscles and joints, with the added benefit of developing the skills of balance and coordination, toning up the muscles and promoting cardiovascular endurance.

STEP 3: WEIGHT LIFTING

Barbell Military Press

Keep it simple and pick ONE (1) lift per day. Yes, you read correctly! Only 1 exercise for weight lifting! How can this be?

Remember what we said about trusting the process? It may not make sense right now, so wait until you reached the 7th step of this guide J

However, I don’t want to keep you guessing: the 7 steps cover all areas of your fitness, for a full workout and complete integral development of your body.

By picking just one lift per day that you perform for a week, you get to practice it the same way you would practice a song on the guitar or piano, before moving on to the next piece or exercise. Like the song, the exercise will “play” more fluidly, strongly and then you can take a break from it and return to it more easily and strongly at any time.

STEP 4: JUMPING

Jumping over obstacle

Just like step 3, pick ONE type of jumping and work on it for a week, perfecting it, improving it by adding to it, be it distance, height, repetitions, etc.

Jumping is an important element of fitness because as we age, we lose our “spring”. It’s also a phenomenal “power” move because it forces you to generate a lot of power at once, recruiting several muscles, which can lead to better performance in other activities (including the ability to lift a heavier weight in Step 3).

People often think that because of issues in their joints, they shouldn’t jump, e.g. like bad knees or a bad hip. It’s the very weakness in those joints, when not addressed, that becomes the issue. Avoidance doesn’t mean acceptance, it’s only negligence. You don’t need to jump high or far, even with a full range of motion, to strengthen the bones and soft tissue used in jumping.

Remember, we are in this for the long haul. A one-inch jump on a soft surface, like grass, sand, dirt a wooden floor or a gym mat is still a jump. And it’s fun too!

STEP 5: CLIMBING

Straight rope climbing

Climbing can be anything from getting up on a stool to change a light bulb all the way to climbing rocks. It’s agility, balance, coordination and strength all at once. Whether it’s with the use of your hands only, a combination of hands and feet, or feet alone, the movement skill of climbing is quite useful and functional at all ages and in all circumstances and situations.

STEP 6: THROWING

Partner throwing exercises

A very underrated aspect of fitness, yet used more frequently than you think in your daily life. From tossing your keys to someone off the balcony (or to a person higher up), to lifting (lifting, yes) a trash bag and tossing it into a dumpster, throwing (light or heavy objects, with one or both hands) requires power, agility, coordination and can turn into a full body movement, depending on the weight of the object or the distance to throw it, with assistance from the legs (which got stronger from Step 4 and Step 5).

STEP 7: WALKING AND RUNNING

Any form of displacement is essential because, well, that’s how we get places (disregard cars and modes of transportation, those are not built-in to our body)!

Walking, a.k.a. marching helps you cover long distances efficiently and is a great fat burner, is sustainable and gets you outside!

By adjusting the speed, you adjust the effort and get a slew of other benefits.

Jogging is next and eventually sprinting.

The best part about Step 7 is that it’s the most readily available, aside from any movement fundamentals to loosen up the joints.

Greatly beneficial for all ages, Steps 1 & 7 help you maintain your mobility, flexibility and provide a general sense of wellness that is completely manageable.

Add all the other steps, by simply picking one exercise per category and changing it weekly, revisiting as part of a rotation every few weeks, or as you get more efficient with your time, combining two or more exercises per category, you will develop all-around athleticism.

The weights or difficulty of the exercises is up to you, just know that, unless you have a severely impaired ability to do something, all the categories have something in them you can do today! We’re not going after what’s three months down the line, we want you to feel great today and we want you to keep going for as long as possible.

Goals like weight loss, muscle gain or a specific performance will naturally fall into place as you follow the process.

“If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius”

-Michaelangelo

 

Note: According to Georges Hébert, Swimming should be part of this process, and Walking is separate from Running. All three are actually methods of locomotion, even if one of them is aquatic. I am lumping both Walking and Running together, being of similar leg-powered nature (albeit different mechanics). And Swimming is not always the most convenient activity to get to for many, while most everything else can be achieved with little to no equipment. The goal being to deliver you something to start doing right away without logistical hurdles.

Photos courtesy of Antje Anders Photography

Hébert session programming at the workshop

Leave a comment

I posted last week 3 programming concepts: daily, weekly and annually (by ways of 3 quarters, so it’s essentially 4 ways, 2-in-1 on the last).

And while most seasoned qualified trainers have a good idea of what to put into a session, incorporating a new skill daily, how do we keep a sense of balance since not everyone can squeeze a daily session, as the world today is not as ideal as we’d like it to be.

Setting aside any excuses or reasons, it is important to have a good sense of the fundamentals and that’s precisely what will be covered at the workshop on the fundamental positions of arms, legs, trunk etc.

The design is such that some moves are changed every other day. Clever combinations can permit the time-challenged subjects to hit nearly all aspects of preparation of the body. Sounds almost like a tall promise in an infomercial to get all you training done in just minutes a day, but it’s not the case.

There also a lot of talk about needing an hour versus only really needing 10 minutes, and yadda yadda yadda, in today’s marketing confusion (and yes, that’s what it is: confusion so you fall prey to what’s sold).

Truth is: there is no universal truth other than everything works, especially if done well. You can’t really snatch 53kg for an hour at high energy output, and if you can, you can’t do it daily.

What’s better? A little everyday or a lot every few days? It’s all good really, and you’ll still need to change things up, while keeping others the same. And once you are proficient at a movement and have confidence in your skill, who really cares about the ultimate perfect form, as it varies amongst individuals and their own skeletal structure or abilities.

I was recently asked “what’s the Natural Method” vs “Unnatural”. It’s not about that definition of the word, just to discuss semantics, rather using what’s available to use according the the natural inclinations of our bodies and finding those, rather than fitting a square peg in a round hole, and to know that, you must go through a learning process and weed out the bad by focusing on the good and how it feels. Unnatural may also feel foreign to you when it’s a new skill, but if the body’s not fighting it with alarm signals, then you’re just learning 🙂

 

What story are you telling? (part 1)

Leave a comment

This may sound presumptuous, but in many cases, one good look at someone’s physique, static & in easy, everyday motion (gait) and I can tell a lot about what’s going on.

No, I don’t have X-ray vision, or sub-dermal myovision, nor am I a psychic predicting your FMS score before running the assessments.

But I do believe in being able to read how our bodies tell the story of how we got to where we are today, beyond generalization of the known lifestyle of our modern sit-down, neck-craning, tiny-screen gazing, thumb-typing society (although that accounts for a lot of it).

And truthfully, most trainers with more than a few year’s experience ought to be able to feel assertive enough to make such a claim. Put humility aside for a second, and be confident in the skills you acquired. I would take it a step further: if you don’t think you know your shit, then don’t advertise knowledge any three-letter acronym months or years after you acquired said acronym(s). If you’re RKC or SFG and can’t swing properly, CPT and have shit form, FMS and can’t run a basic shoulder mobility, active straight leg raise or deep squat at the very least, then either ask for your money back for not having learned anything, or refund your clients.

(I remember when my smarter peers and mentors were already established a few years ago, and at the time had less experience in the field than I do today. Unless I am really dense or slow, it’s not a huge speculation to accept that what I gleaned has value. And if one is not confident in one’s abilities, too modest, would that inspire confidence in clients?)

Of course, that’s assuming that you are a good trainer in one of the most unregulated industries, where confusion and fear mongering are rapidly growing to feel inadequate as a trainer, or a client, if you don’t possess XYZ under your belt. After a while, it is no longer the measure of your own performance, but the results of your clientèle that ought to be #1. While we still expect you to perform, life, aging, kids, needs, time can get in the way and we get that. If I were in a wheelchair or lost a limb, surely I’d have new limitations, but unless I suffered brain damage, that knowledge is still there (with plenty of room for more).

Can you take a look at your body and have it tell its story in motion, not words? Can you tell a bodybuilder from a powerlifter, a soccer player from a  football player (using the US terminology here), a boxer from a wrestler?

I don’t mind a little disagreeing here, as this can be very specific, and I invite that conversation. It’s not about telling a lawyer from an accountant, a baggage handler from a grocery store employee stacking shelves (respectively sedentary and physically activities), it’s about looking at the muscular development, ability to perform basic tasks like squatting. We should be able to move like healthy 5-year olds (before we are subjected to sitting down at chairs and desks not custom fit). And the accountant can be a powerlifter, the lawyer a recreational baseball player. You can still tell those sub-plots, which is where the (qualified) personal trainer can never replace the cookie-cutter template from a fitness magazine.

Coincidentally, I was sent a video, by another trainer who needed help with his technique for one drill, and in a matter of a few reps, I was able to spot the subtle issues going on. The response to my observation off of those few reps was: “Damn. That is exactly how it feels. Good eye!”