Is buying a treadmill going to help me lose weight? What about a bicycle? Should I do cardio before or after I lift weights? What about body wraps, will they help me shed the unwanted pounds?
Having worked in gyms for the last ~10 years, you see and hear a lot of things from all walks of life, many vouch the effects of a specific movement, idea or fad that will promise the ULTIMATE EXTREME FAT BURNING EXPERIENCE!! You see sweatsuits and facemasks (you might as well just breathe through a straw), bodywraps and shoes that promise a tighter ass. You get barraged with folks asking about the newest supplement and you see Johnny in the back of corner of the gym hogging equipment with 3 towels on each machine in the vicinity going from 30 cleans to 60 box jumps before deadlifting 300 pounds for 21 reps.
Here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s disregard all that. Because I’d rather not have you confused by ridiculous marketing promises that fail to deliver anything other than broken minds and bodies.
To make this simple, let’s categorize your cardiovascular program based on your experience. Scroll through the categories below and use it as your guideline. For reference of intensities, I am going to use the following Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale as our measure of exercise intensity during your workout. No need for heart rate monitors, fancy gadgets or rectal thermometers, let’s go by how hard you FEEL you are working.
Beginner – You haven’t exercised for > 6 months or you have been exercising less than 150 minutes a week. You have limited experience weight training and have yet to become familiar with the gym, exercise names and movements. You have led a mostly sedentary lifestyle for the last few years but are ready to get your butt off the couch and start…TODAY!
Congrats on your decision !
If your goal is weight loss and/or health improvement, the recommended amount of activity for exercise is at a minimum of 150 minutes at a moderate intensity per week. Mind you – there are significant increases in weight loss and health risk improvement with greater than 250 minutes per week.
Your cardiovascular routine should be focused on achieving a constant heart rate that has you working and sweating – but not so high that you’re unable to talk. You should focus on one activity that you can safely perform for anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes at a time (low impact exercises include walking, an elliptical, a bicycle or swimming are great places to start).
As you work, your sentences might become broken as you spend time getting your heart rate to climb. But you’re not feeling faint, dizzy or coughing up a lung every time you hit the gym, pavement or pool. Your RPE as a beginner should be a relatively slow climb from 12-16. In your exercise log, you should be tracking your distance and time. Week by week, you want to progress your cardiovascular exercise in one of the following parameters – frequency, intensity, time or type (the FITT principle). For example, this week you turn on your walking app. You take 30 minutes and end up walking 1.75 miles four days this week. If you were increasing frequency, you would increase your exercise to five days the following week. If you were increasing intensity, you would try to go two miles each time you walk. If you were to increase time, you’d bump it up to 35 minutes per workout. And if you were to change the type, you decide to try your hand at swimming instead of walking.
Beginner summed up –
Get moving for >150 minutes per week (or greater than 250 minutes per week for serious results) at an intensity anywhere from 12-16 on the RPE scale. Each week, increase at least one parameter of the FITT principle. Continue your progress and make it sustainable – Increase by no more than 10% by week and keep at it for 4-6 weeks. Until you become…
Intermediate – You have been getting your heart rate up and sweating for >150 minutes a week regularly. If you hit the gym for weight training, you generally have some ideas but not much of a plan to follow. You are able to walk/run a few miles and have been a regular exerciser for over 6 weeks.
My advice to you is to start working cardio intervals. The benefits of interval training are amazing! You burn more fat in a shorter time, a lot of it being as you recover from exercise. It can be very time efficient, so if you’ve got 20 minutes, you can bust out some interval training. These sessions can be much shorter because you’re really going to push your RPE.
Choose your favorite (or least favorite because you like a challenge) activity for cardio. Let’s use walking as our example. You are now at the point where fast walking is literally a walk in the park so you want to begin a running program. A great place to start is a 1:2 work to rest ratio. In this example, you run at a good pace for one minute, followed by rest/walking for two minutes. Your rating of perceived exertion while running is 16 and drops down to a 10-12 by the time you finish your 2 minutes of walking/rest. You perform another set. This time, your RPE goes up to 17. You recover. The next set your RPE goes up to 18. You recover…rinse and repeat.
My recommendation would be to start with no more than two days a week of interval training – which allows the flexibility to increase it over time. You should still perform at least another two days per week of longer duration, lower intensity cardio because there are still great benefits of long duration cardiovascular exercise when it comes to burning Calories. As you progress, you increase the intensity of your running by upping your speed or time in the high intensity zone, decreasing your rest periods, increasing the number of sets or including different types of cardio exercise.
Intermediate summed up –
Interval training is best at decreasing your waist line. If you are looking to slim down your cookie pouch/beer gut, start working in some intervals. Keep track of your sets, rest periods and intensity by using the RPE scale. Modify and mess around with your work to rest ratios in order to vary intensity.
As you get tired of hitting the pavement, you want to find other ways to implement cardio for fat burning. You’ve become more familiar with the basics of weight lifting because you’ve done your research…you become…
Experienced – You are a regular exerciser. You sweat in the gym, you go hard and you regularly get into some mental battles. You are familiar with a reasonable amount of gym terms, flow of workouts and have spent 3-6 months lifting weights and implementing cardiovascular exercise.
My recommendation for you is to work your strength circuits into high intensity interval sessions. Your emphasis should be on keeping proper form while hitting different planes of movement. If you want a heck of a workout, are looking to build strength and improve your endurance, turn your movement and strength training into intervals. Some folks would call it Crossfit. Which, in a sense, it can be. High intensity training has been around forever. And it’s the most effective method of fat burning there is. These circuits usually end up at the end of your workout, due to an increased amount of fat utilization post-strength training. It will truly challenge you, keep your strength up and have you walking out of the gym feeling like you just moved a mountain. Because maybe you did…
Work in circuit fashion and push yourself. Movements involved should include any and all of the following throughout your weekly workouts:
- Push – pushups, bench press, overhead press, dips
- Pull – pullups, rows, hi-pull, cleans
- Squat – goblet squat, back squat, split squats, lunges, stepups
- Hinge – deadlift, kettlbell or dumbell swings, hip thrusters
- Rotation – Ball tosses, pallof press, battle ropes, chops
- Gait – sprinting, jogging, sled work
- Carrying heavy stuff – farmers carries, waiter carries, briefcase carries, awkward objects
Some of my favorites:
- 3 – 5 rounds of : 10 Dumbell Thrusters x 50 yard Farmers carry x 25 Max effort rope slams
- 10-20 minutes, as many rounds as you can : 5 Pullups, 10 pushups, 15 squats
- 3-10 rounds of Sled suicides w/ 1 minute rest between sets
Experienced summed up –
Stick to functional movements you are familiar with. Your body has grooved a pattern for how the movement should feel. These workouts are fun, challenging and a great way to push your body for drastic change. You want your heart rate to be elevated and your RPE to approach the 16-20 range for the ‘work’ periods. One of the biggest benefits of this style of training is the amount of energy your body needs after you finish. You can burn up to 150 Calories after you finish! Sitting around, after your workout. Burning Calories without moving? Count me in! Not to mention the testosterone release, growth hormone release and inevitable hair you grow on your chest.
Overall, programming your cardiovascular exercise around what ‘level’ you belong to is a sure way to keep you healthy while losing weight. I’ve seen a lot of folks get discouraged, injured, frustrated and quit due to biting off more than they could chew early on. Start moving, move more week by week, be consistent and your metabolism will follow. If you have any questions, comments or favorite training circuits, let me know!
Peace like Geese,
Today begins a 3-part series introduction to fat loss. (Edit from the fuure: The blog gets a little long mathy/sciency, be ready to calculate some numbers to figure out what your metabolism looks like)
The purpose of my focus for the next month is going to be focused on weight loss while kick starting your metabolism. Here’s my personal experience. My initial motivation when I started training was to look like Rocky. I was a pudgy little athlete who had no idea how to pick up weights but I could have probably beat you in video games. I decided one day I wanted a shredded physique with abs that could take a punch. The drive to become ripped and see abs sort of became an obsession. It started innocent enough – eating healthy foods, more protein, lifting weights, doing cardio. I kept finding myself staying strict but never saw the ripped obliques, the awesome serratus anterior definition and had the hardest time figuring out how to drop bodyfat.
I like to experiment. I’ve gone paleo, I’ve done intermittent fasting and I enjoy being a lab rat. And here are some pictures of when I got skinny. And below that is how I figured it out.
It is a confusing world out there. What to eat, when to eat, how to eat. The world is a clusterf*ck of confusing discussion and broscience. For each article out there touting the effectiveness of a specific diet, there’s an equally confusing article describing the ill effects of adapting that same diet.
Cut the BS. I’m tired of the 21-day fixes. The gluten-free diets. The cayenne pepper and sugar water is not sustainable and most of all, not going fix your relationship with food.
Nutrition and diet begins with your goals. Your body. What are you doing to it and where do you want to go with it? Are you looking to lose weight? Put on muscle? Or a little bit of both?
It starts with metabolism. Simply put, metabolism is the act of your body breaking down, storing and using nutrients. Your metabolism is specific to you – each individual has a different metabolism than the next and a lot of that is dependent on the food choices we make. Some people are seriously sensitive to sugar, some to eggs. Some people can’t handle fiber well while you see others eat McDonald’s cheeseburgers for a shredded 6-pack. Each person breaks down and utilizes energy in a unique way. That said, there are some nearly universal truths when it comes to life and metabolism. Your first step begins with what you take in…
How to Calculate your Energy needs
A few different factors come into play when you are calculating the number of Calories your body needs. They include gender (males burn more than females due to different muscle mass and hormone release), age(younger folks burn more than older) and activity levels (The more you move, the more your body needs). The three ways you burn energy are through your basal metabolic rate(your body’s energy needs purely to sustain life – 60-70% of your daily expenditure), the thermic effect of food (the process of digesting food – 10-15% of your daily expenditure) and the energy expenditure of your physical activity (30-40% of your daily expenditure).
To calculate your body’s energy needs, start with the following equation:
BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
The number you come up with is an estimate of your total Caloric needs if your body was at rest 24/7 and ate zero food. In order to get a realistic estimate of your daily total, use the number you got and multiply it by one of the following factors:
Sedentary. Little to no exercise Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2
Mild activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 20 minutes 1 to 3 times per week. This may include such things as bicycling, jogging, basketball, swimming, skating, etc. If you do not exercise regularly, but you maintain a busy life style that requires you to walk frequently for long periods, you meet the requirements of this level. Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.3 – 1.375
Moderate activity level: Intensive exercise for at least 30 to 60 minutes 3 to 4 times per week. Daily calories needed=BMR x 1.5
Heavy or (Labor-intensive) activity level: Intensive exercise for 60 minutes or greater 5 to 7 days per week (see sample activities above). Labor-intensive occupations also qualify for this level. Labor-intensive occupations include construction work (brick laying, carpentry, general labor, etc.). Also farming, landscape worker or similar occupations. Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.7
Extreme level: Exceedingly active and/or very demanding activities: Examples include: athlete with an almost unstoppable training schedule with multiple training sessions throughout the day or a very demanding job, such as shoveling coal or working long hours on an assembly line. Generally, this level of activity is very difficult to achieve. Daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9
When you get your number, write it down. This is the estimated amount of Calories your body consumes on a daily basis. If you eat more than that number, you will gain weight. If you eat less than that number, you will lose weight. I recommend a deficit or surplus of 500-1,000 pounds per day for weight loss as well as weight gain. Keep track.
Macro-nutrients are the substrates plugged into processes that allow you to eat, sleep, breathe and move. They make up the Calories we put in our bodies, each with a specific purpose when it comes to your daily movements and processes. When your body demands energy, your body runs through either Anaerobic metabolism (doesn’t use oxygen) or aerobic metabolism (uses oxygen). Carbohydrate, fat and protein are the only truly useful macro-nutrients that can be plugged into either of these processes. (another macronutrient does exist – Alcohol. It can be used but since you are reading this, you need to know that alcohol use is counterproductive to making your body a fat burning machine).
Macronutrient can measured in Calories – our favorite unit of energy.
Protein – 1 Gram = 4 Calories
Protein simplified is the basic building block of cells in your body. Your body doesn’t to use protein as a fuel source. It can, but it is only responsible for 5-10% of your energy expenditure on a daily basis. When your body does use it too much as a source of energy, muscle will waste from your body and will have a negative effect on recovery as well as bodyfat. Overconsumption can also have a bit of an impact on the kidneys, so don’t adopt a protein only diet.
Protein is in charge of repair when muscle gets broken down, has a great ability to help you feel full and is VERY important when it comes to recovery. The recommended amount of protein (on the high end) for individuals is anywhere from 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram of desired lean body mass (NSCA). There have been studies that show supplementing your protein around your workout increases fat free mass (muscle and lean tissue) compared to ingesting at different times or all at once. So after you crush a hard HIIT/strength session be sure to nab a shake or some kind of fast-digesting protein (whey and egg protein are the best – do a google search for proteins high in leucine).
Carbohydrate – 1 Gram = 4 Calories
Carbs simplified are your main source of energy. Carbs break down into sugar. The two types of sugar we store are in our muscle (called muscle glycogen) and in our liver as glucose. When you go through a tough strength workout, your body utilizes the muscle glycogen first. It runs through either anaerobic or aerobic metabolism then sends a signal to release glucose after the glycogen stores begin to get depleted. There is a saying that resonated with me throughout school when we were understanding the Krebs Cycle – ‘Fat burns in a carbohydrate flame’. Simply put, you should consume carbohydrate relative to your day’s activity levels. If you hit a hard training session earlier in the day, don’t be afraid to eat a crap ton of fruit, veggies, sweet potatoes, etc.
Carbs are hugely important in recovery. After exercise, you should concoct a mixture that contains a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrate to protein. Carb choice post-workout should be something high in the glycemic index – some type of simple sugar that your body will easily absorb. My recommendation would be to blend some fruit, throw in a scoop of protein powder and chug. That or a glass of chocolate milk.
Fat – 1 Gram = 9 Calories
Fat is the most calorically dense macro nutrient of the three. It contains the most Calories per gram, meaning that it’s easy to take in a lot more energy with a higher relative fat consumption. With that said, fats are generally in charge of hormone release, assist greatly in energy expenditure and are vitally important in carrying out an efficient metabolism. There is a great push toward eating Omega 3 fatty acids – fats that actually help in burning fat, lowering blood pressure as well as cholesterol. Keep track of fat consumption – when you have a rest day, lean toward a higher fat, lower carb diet for the day.
With all this information, my brain starts to fatigue. It gets much deeper. But I don’t want to go too far down the rabbit hole. If you take home one message from the former, ALL OF THIS MATTERS!
In summation, the following are some action points I have set up to help you lose weight and fat.
1)Calculate your body’s energy needs. If you goal is to lose weight, choose a Calorie count 500-1,000 Calories per day less than your calculated energy demands.
2)Log your food for a least a week. Quantity, quality and Calories need to be known. If you don’t want to count Calories in the long run that’s ok. But you HAVE to hold yourself accountable for a period of time in order to see change.
3)Energy expenditure on a given day should dictate carbohydrate and fat consumption. If you are going to be hitting the gym hard, a higher carb, lower fat day is necessary. If you are taking the day off, go for lower carb consumption and a slightly higher fat count for the day.
4)Be consistent. Plan your foods, plan your days and be prepared. I had a client who lost half of her bodyweight because she didn’t allow herself any excuses. She literally carried around cans of sardines in case she had to go somewhere or do something unexpected! Think about the excuses you can make and prepare yourself to battle the excuses relentlessly.
5)Be realistic. Sure, you can lose 50 pounds in 25 days in theory, but should you? Prepare for the long run and keep your focus on the next day/week/month of programing!
Comment, ask questions and hit me up with suggestions!!
One thing that happens in life for anybody that I work with is travel. People go places. They get caught up in work. Or vacation. Or just need to get away for a little while. And it’s amazing!!!
I am a huge advocate of adventure, seeing new places and travelling to far away lands. Which is why I always do my best to program for people movements and exercises they can do without too much equipment. If your biggest barrier to exercise is not having a gym – you need to find yourself a new program! You can move, exercise AND find fun/active things to do no matter where you are!
With that said, a bunch of people have been clamoring for the best ways to continue with health progress while abstaining from completely giving in to the temptations of eating out, having one too many brews and getting into trouble with your trainer.
The basic movements we perform in a well rounded exercise program include activities that you should be performing as living, breathing, functioning human beans: Push, pull, squat, hinging and being a machine.
Without further ado,
WORKOUT 1 – Death March
With all of that combined, find some exciting stuff to do while you adventure! Give back, get in nature and explore!
400m run. It’s a doozy. It’s intense. But before I expand, check out video of this 400m relay. Amazing finish, Phil Healy takes on a soon-to-be Olympian ‘From the depths of Hell’.
400m isn’t the worst if you’re just cruising. But why would you want to just cruise, ever, when you run? You want it to be over as fast as it can be done.
And that’s why you do it. If you play a sport that last longer than 10 seconds, if you want to improve your work capacity or if you want to be a better athlete, it’s nearly mandatory to work running into your program.
Why putting the 400m run into your training program will be the best addition:
The time frame you are working during the 400 shows a benefit in nearly every energy system in your body (assuming the time for one sprint around the track lies somewhere between 45 seconds-3 minutes). Fast glycolysis and oxidative energy systems are both kicked into high gear. Fast glycolysis is in charge of any activity lasting longer than 10 seconds but less that 30 seconds and primarily uses muscle glycogen as fuel. The oxidative energy system is in charge of exercise that lasts longer than 3 minutes and primarily uses fat as your fuel.The 400m run is an activity that hits the sweet spot between the two energy systems. By combining both energy systems, you are getting the best out of your body for any competition that lasts longer than 10 seconds.
How to implement the 400 into your training program today:
By changing up the work:rest ratios you can fine tune the 400 to improve your work capacity.
Work to rest ratios are calculated by taking the time it takes for you to complete one 400m run. For example, if your work to rest ratio is 1:2 and you run the 400m in one minute, you’ll rest two minutes. A few examples of work to rest ratios and which you should use are detailed below.
- If you are an athlete who generally fatigues throughout the competition or find yourself gasping for breath earlier than you would hope to, you’ll want to work the 400m with a higher work to rest ratio. A work to rest ratio of anywhere between 1:1 and 2:1 helps improve the oxidative component, training your body to clear lactate more efficiently with regard to how much time you need to recover. As you improve this component through training, you’ll find that you’re able to last longer, take shorter rest periods and see your heart rate recover quicker with this ratio.
- If you feel you are slow and less explosive toward the end of competition (if you want to improve sprinting speed at the end of a marathon, bull people over in the fourth quarter, etc.), you are going to want to use a lower work to rest ratio. By using a work to rest ratio as low as 1:6, you allow your muscles to fully clear the lactate accumulated. This training interval improves your speed and power with a full clearing of lactate. So you’ll be stronger, faster and more explosive for activities that last longer than 10 seconds.
- If you are looking to improve your sprint speed combined with endurance, a ratio of 1:2 to 1:4 is recommended for the 400m. This is the starting point I would use for the majority. If you are an experienced athlete and know where you need to improve, use either of the above examples to fine tune your ratio.
In summation, the 400m is brutal if you go all out. But that’s why you’ve gotta do it.
Peace like Geese,
First workout in the Chop Shop. Died.
Warmup/movement prep: 1×10 each
A2 PVC Pass through
A3 Bottom of squat hold
Agility: 10 minutes
Foot ladder drills – in/out, forward back
Hopping drills – Lateral shuffle for power, power hops
5×5 Back Squat
3×10 Each rear foot elevated Squat
3×10-15 Hip Thruster
3×10 each Single leg deadlift
Deadlift, Ball slam, Overhead carry w/kettlebell
What’s up Gaggle?
Just received a huge shipment from Hawaii…THE GYM IS HERE.
It’s pretty awesome for a little home gym. From $12,000 eccentric-only squat machines to Ab twisting rockers, there is a crap ton of stuff out there that can really clog up space when you’re crunching for space.
The must-haves for your home gym:
1a)Squat rack, barbell and weight set – Necessary if you are looking to build strength (which you should be!). My favorite piece of equipment in the gym is a good barbell. Something about gritting your teeth, stepping up to the metal, knowing it’s just you and the weight on your back and whatever fortitude you can muster. Every single reputable trainer in the world knows how valuable a good barbell can be for you. Push, pull, squat, lift, press, rotate…it might be the most versatile piece of equipment in the gym.
1b)Foam roller – Favorite recovery tool. You can use the foam roller to increase flexibility, joint range of motion or just as a tool to get the knots out. Everybody should be using one and if you’re not you should. I’ve used mine on occasion to shut my body down if I’m feeling rambunctious at night. It soothes and relaxes your muscle, decreasing tone and tension. Please get one, your body will thank you.
2)Kettlebells – What makes a kettlebell special isn’t that it’s been shown to burn the most Cals in an hour long workout – what makes it special is the fact that it takes up less space than that box full of batteries, mementos and random stuff every household has. It is compact, fun to use, gives a crap ton of variety and is cool for being nothing more than a chunk of metal with a handle.
3)Pull up bar – One of my favorite move for developing upper body strength. Pullups/chinups/neutral grip pulls are the best exercises for developing the upper back and arm strength. One of my favorite -isms in the training world comes from the weight lifting world…you can’t shoot a cannon out of a rowboat. Want to get better at pressing? Develop your back. Period.
4)Adjustable Plyo box – For me this one holds a spot close to my heart. Might not be necessary but this thing is cool. With three different heights on the box, you can use the thing for stepups, plyo jumps and it works as an amazing seat for when you get light headed after a heavy set of squats. I’ve always put an emphasis on power output and one of the most important exercises for developing power is definitely jumping.
5)Dumbbells – To me, dumbbells provide a lot of training in a more chaotic environment. They force you to stabilize unilaterally, bringing out the weak points like no other tool in the box. I like the utility of dumbbells but if you get a full set, it can take up a crap ton of space. So if space is really a limiting factor in you spot, nix the dumbbells and make use of the kettle bells, pull up bar and rack.
This is my space. Feel free to say your piece on stuff I left out…like a forearm curl bar
It’s so easy to sit on the couch and watch TV.
It takes so much less effort to go out to eat than it is to cook that healthy meal at home.
Counting Calories? It sucks.
Each and every one of these questions run through our minds. Personally, I love eating boatloads of crappy foods every now and then. I just took to logging my food only to find out that I am pretty much depriving myself of nutrients throughout the week – until the weekend comes along and I crush it. Not a cheat day – a cheat weekend is more like it. And every time I stuff my face with bread or sweets, I always get down on myself or try to ‘make up for it’ with a kickass workout. Truth is, you can’t make up for it. You can only learn from it.
So I take a look back at myself. I run through all the pictures of me sporting a 6-pack. Veins ripping up my ‘tight core’, shoulders that look like they were carved from marble, a shoulder-waist-hip ratio that I’d kill for today.
Then I think about it.
I’ve done it before. I can do that again if I want.
It’s not something that my genetics is limiting.
There’s so much stress on the physical self in this career. And it can really be intimidating – but that’s why I love it. That moment you are able to crush that intimidation with a compassionate kick in the ass…worth every second. A lot of people fail to say ‘I am proud of myself’. And that’s where a true professional comes in.
Realizing that you don’t need to be perfect. That your greatest desire is to learn and grow. To push your limits further than you have before. You’re going to lay a perfect brick each and every time you strive to put up a wall. You want to live with action and passion. You want to learn through action. You want people to love you for who you are and what you do. And even though your friends, family, clients and all those faces behind Social media will judge you when you take off your shirt, that’s ok. You are who you are and you are proud.
This weekend was full of reflection. One of my closest ‘clients’ recently came to me, tail between the legs after putting on some weight after dropping a significant portion. The thing that hit home to me in our discussion was how easy it is to beat yourself up. There isn’t a day that goes by where you tell yourself to put that food down. There isn’t a moment where you try to trick yourself into thinking a donut is healthy for your body. When we were talking, there was disappointment, frustration and regret in his voice. In my mind, the only thing that mattered was that he had done it before. There was hope and he needed to realize it. And this time it’s going to be done the right way.
There was a moment when we spoke that told me he was ready for change…nothing more than a quick quip.
After we spilled our frustrations, regrets and self-hate, we defined what our outcome was going to be. We know where we are going and what kind of dedication it will take. We talked and decided on a program. We’re not going to be perfect. We’ll never be. After he received the program, all that was said in the moment was the following:
Ok, I’m in.
A tone of finality. A tone of focus. A deliberate case of affirmation.
He had forgiven himself for the relapse and is ready to attack it again. And there was something more to it than just a moment of readiness. There was something in it that inspired me. I knew he was ready to do it again. And this time, he seems hungry. He’s ready for the battle.
There are moments of weakness. There are moments of clarity. And when those two moments meet, you’ll feel vulnerable. When you realize the change you want to see, you have all the power in the world and there’s no stopping you.
It’s not going to be easy. It takes dedication. And bravery like you’ve never known before. But know that for every moment you struggle and fret and want to quit, there is someone out there cheering you on, working hard FOR YOU because YOU motivate them.
To all my clients, fellow trainers and fitness enthusiasts…thank you.
Imagine a test that gives you the answer to all the questions you’ve ever had about the way you move. The full on assessment of how you will perform, how you will move when you’re exhausted, a test on your every movement and how likely it will be for you to get injured in a given activity. A test that determines the sex of your next child…the age at which you die…it will give you a glimpse into the way you die. You open your eyes and see the light. The embodiment of Christ comes down upon you, tells you the meaning of life and you finally reach your moment of enlightenment. All is clear and your mind is forever at ease with where you are, who you are and every single question you have ever had is answered by someone other than Google. All because of the test.
Alright, that’s not likely to happen. At the same time there is a lot of stuff out there on the pros/cons on the Functional Movement Screen. For those unfamiliar with the FMS, it is a series of seven tests developed to screen and stratify individuals based on the way they move. It scores individuals on a scale of 0-21, demonstrating that athletes with a score of 14 or greater correlates to a lower risk of injury. It has been the basis of argument for many professionals and here, we’re going to dive a little deeper.
Why do people dislike the FMS?
There are a lot of coaches, trainers, therapists and individuals who deem the test worthless. One of the main complaints is that the FMS places human movement in a box. The idea that it is such a generalized test, comprised of movements unfamiliar and unrecognizable from a ‘functional standpoint’.
When was the last time you performed an overhead squat?
The tests in themselves are new movement patterns to 90% of the athletes screened. The setup and screen in itself is meant to essentially introduce individuals to movements that mimic functional exercise – the same types of movements that strength and conditioning programs provide to enhance performance. In that sense, you could test someone today and see improvement in their neuromuscular response by simply getting the reps in.
The test is not an accurate depiction of how you move in sport, creating wasted time in the gym. Imagine lining up face to face with a 250# linebacker, dropping your right shoulder driving from your hips while trying to secure the football with your dominant hand and stiff arm him with the opposite. There is so much that goes on in your sport that if you try to make a blanket screen to how you move, it doesn’t make sense. The relationship to your strengths and weaknesses is purely superficial the second an athlete steps foot onto the field/court/bowling alley.
There have been many individuals who stress the importance of improving your FMS score…when it is plainly stated in its mission that it is not meant to be used as a tool for performance. A lot of different places you will find the use of FMS used as a tool for ‘corrective exercise’, preying upon the insecurities of general gym-goers and athletes alike, triggering a fear of getting injured during something as simple as learning how to pick something up.
As an aside, pretty much every study that determines the efficacy of FMS agrees on the following:
Studies clearly illustrate its limited ability to predict athletic performance.
There has been absolutely no correlation found between FMS score and performance. Which explains my lack of ability to dunk a basketball.
Why do people like the FMS?
There is a lot to be said about the FMS being used for good. One thing the strength and conditioning community is truly missing are standards for movement. These general standards can be applied in a multitude of settings – everyone needs to have an understanding of how they move. They also need to be cognizant of how their body can move most efficiently, which the FMS provides as good of a general template as any other test for athletes.
It assesses your general health through movement. The test does provide a great deal of flexibility in determining the athlete’s joint health. With the various clearing tests, it makes it very easy as a health professional to say ‘hey, go see your Doctor before we start doing anything physical’. The medical field and the fitness field hardly ever see communication other than when someone gets hurt. The FMS has provided a decent platform in bringing together large populations of strength coaches, personal trainers and athletes to begin having those important conversations.
Finally, test improvement has shown a loose correlation to decreased injury risk as long as the professional knows what they’re doing while screening.
On the contrary, to predict injury risk in team sports, the FMS total score is supported by moderate scientific evidence. The majority of the FMS based intervention programs showed an improvement on general motor quality.
Your standpoint on the FMS should really not be polarized in one direction or another. There is plenty of research out there that confirms the efficacy of it as a predictor for injury. There is also plenty of research out there that confirms that a higher score on the test does not correlate to a higher level of performance on the field.
The use of the FMS is a step in the right direction in the realm of strength and conditioning. One of the missing links in the field is credibility and relaying health issues to Doctors, physical therapists and athletic trainers. It serves as a tool for purely screening – if someone’s shoulder hurts, you know to refer them to their Doctor before beginning a program. If there are stark asymmetries, that will be a red flag. I’ll never use the test or an FMS movement for power development. I’ll never use it to make someone faster, stronger or jump higher. In general, it does help to a certain extent accomplish the stated goals, straight from the FMS website…but it also shouldn’t be the only tool in the strength coach’s toolbox. There’s a lot more to a health program than if your athlete can’t score a 3 on the overhead squat.
Leave a comment, discuss the points and live your life tremendously…
Sitting in Starbucks. All by your lonesome. Not a care in the world, cruising on some work related things while sippin on an Iced Americano. Situated in a corner, next to a dark window, you sit listening to Trap Back Jumpin at the recommendation of a good friend. Thinking about life, trying to organize your thoughts on a blog post that seems to be going alright.
Out of the corner of your eye comes a man. A man who stands outside in the moist Hawaiian heat. Looks to be hard on his luck.
He stands adjacent to you and the window after setting down his bag of goodies…there seems to be a water bottle, a bag of ice and some other random things that are helping him make it through the day. Looks a little rough, seems dehydrated and somewhat defeated.
As he sets down his bag, you see him go for his pants. Ok, he’s readjusting.
He’s got a pair of old jeans on. His belt buckle is not at all a belt buckle, it’s that piece of trash bag that allows you to cinch it all together to keep it nice and tight once you fill the bag to the brim. The back of his jeans are adorned with a stain on the backside, a stain you only have nightmares of seeing on your own.
Wait a second. He’s undoing his pants.
You look around Starbucks frantically. To see if anyone else sees what you’re seeing. It’s freaking you out. This dude, dropping trow. No way he’s really doing it. Of all the places to go, why here? Why now?
He’s definitely doing it.
As you catch a glimpse of his board shorts beneath the brown stained pants, you search around the store, see if others are noticing. You have half a mind to yell and scream at the Starbucks employees to get this guy away from you as fast as possible. The filth, the stained shorts, the awful condition this man is placing you in…you and him linked together as if he chose to share this moment with you.
He whips it out and you turn your body to block your own vision and decide to sprint to the bathroom yourself.
After a minute, you walk back out to your chair. He is facing the other way with a stain on the sidewalk leading into the street. You sit. You think. You want to tell the employees. You want to discuss what just happened. You want to tell everyone that this guy just took a leak outside YOUR window and how disgusted you are.
2 seconds later, you take a deep breath.
You put yourself in his shoes.
You see his eyes. Worn and fatigued, you bring yourself to look at him. What do you think he is worried about?
Some semi-adult stressing over having just seen a grown man urinate on the street? No way. Is he worried about the way he looks to others having worn a pair of jeans so stained that it hurts to do anything but hold your breath when you walk by? No way in hell. Do you think he is stressing over the fact that his entire life resides in the contents of that plastic bag from the grocery store? No.
Not at all. He’s worried about his next meal. Or his family that he’s missing. Or that he doesn’t know where he is sleeping tonight. This guy has far greater fish to fry in this world than the small spurt of anxiety and discomfort he created for you.
Initially, I wanted to make jokes and laugh about it. I wanted to tell a story about this guy and what happened while drinking my coffee at Starbucks. But after thinking about it, it really wasn’t funny.
There was a man behind that window and today he taught me a lesson.