Thursday, April 30, 2009

KBs, Inversion and Pistols - good, bad or ugly??

Training today:
Prep - Quick Z warm-up
Get-up 32 kg x 3+3
VO2 Max 20 kg - 8 reps per 15 sec. x 20 sets
Inversion table to finish
Tore a couple of decks of cards and quartered one half

Feeling good.

An Applied Strength blog reader posted a link to another blog/article on the Pistol - aka Single Leg Squat and it is worth responding here we go:  (I will try to add a picture soon)

First let me say that not every exercise is for every person - I acknowledge that and respect an individuals injury and training history.  

Second let me say that most exercises get bashed or demeaned because the individual that had a bad experience either- 
A) brought faulty movement patters, asymmetries, and restrictions to the exercise.
B) Used bad form.
C) Did not follow a proper and systematic progression towards achieving the goal movement.
Or they brought some combination of all three and wound up getting hurt or having a negative experience and therefore feel justified in bashing the exercise.

Personally I have performed pistols on and off for years now - since prepping for the 2002 Tactical Strength Challenge Article here...
and in March of 2003 I hit 10 pistols on the left leg and 9 pistols on the right leg holding the 32 kg KB at the second TSC in Vista, CA.  I have performed pistols holding onto the Beast (106# kb) and with 2/24 kg KBs in the rack position.  Bodyweight pistols, however, have been a bit of different story - only recently have these begun to feel good - previously I had to use a counter balance (kb, or hold on to the toes of the extended leg).  And I help to teach pistols at the Level 2 RKC and to clients so my point is...I know a little bit about the pistol.
And I have injured both of my knees in the past - knee surgery on the left and a significant injury on the right - and I can still perform the pistol.

Criticisms of the pistol can take the form of:
It's not functional.
It's not safe.
An individual's body proportions will make it impossible.

Well functional is in the eye of the beholder to a certain extent because barbell squatting is not functional (IMO and I love back squatting) but it seems to get a lot of "air time" for athletic development etc... 
Ask the question - Functional for what?  How does the exercise stack up?

Safe is more often than not determined by the issues I listed above which I will go into greater detail in a minute.

An individual's body proportions - as I said at the beginning - not every exercise is for everybody but to use this an excuse for why an exercise is just plain unsafe is not good reasoning.
Consider that the depth of the squat can and should be monitored by many factors one of those being the compression of the calf against the hamstring - by maintaining tension in the bottom position and stopping when these two areas touch and not "bottoming out" by relaxing or forcing the depth beyond the point of touching you will not "force open" the knee but most people because they lack control at the bottom of a pistol and have rushed to the full movement fall into this position and then blame the pistol and their body proportions - not so fast...

So lets look at the issues I raised in the beginning:
#1 - An individual brings faulty movement patterns, asymmetries or restrictions to the exercise and in that case ANY exercise can break you and often does in the gym (bench press and squats for example).  
This is the idea behind the FMS - remove the asymmetries and restrictions before getting into a "conditioning" routine.  Fail to do this and an ankle restriction etc.. can make any squat a potential date with injury.

#2 - Used bad form.  Dan John has a great saying - "Squats don't hurt your knees - The way YOU squat hurts your knees."  And this is VERY true in the single leg squat.  If you knee caves in or doesn't track or any number of other faults appear - STOP and go back to #1 and read carefully through #3...

#3 - 
Did not follow a systematic progression leading to the goal movement.  There might be 5 or 10 or 20 steps in the process to get someone to a full single leg squat.  Skip just one (but many people skip several) and you might have a negative experience - is it the squats fault that you were in too big of a hurry to progress appropriately???

VERY few people will be ready to tackle an exercise like the single leg squat without a fair amount of prep time which can include corrective strategies to remove roadblocks, and a multiple step systematic progression to achieving the goal.  

Can you even perform a deep bodyweight squat with good form?  If not - why are you even thinking of the single leg variety?

Ignore them at your own risk and don't blame the exercise when you have a negative experience.

Also - there are many single leg squat variations - the Airborn Lunge for example... (pic soon)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Bodyweight + VO2 max...

Prep - Z, Brettzel, ASLR
Bodyweight drills
Pull-up x 5, 10 (shoulder width grip), 8 (close grip)
Pistols x 2, 2, 3 (down on two legs in a close squat - up on one then full pistols)
Handstand pushups x 5, 3
Wall walk Bridges x 2, 1

24 kg VO2 Max - 7 reps per 15 sec. x 24 sets

Pistols are feeling good and working from the close squat is a keeper.
Getting back to some bodyweight training is a good thing + KBs = a great thing.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FMS > Get-up > Questions and Answers...

It seems there are more questions re: the Get-up as shown in Kalos Sthenos and it's corrective nature and the FMS ( so I figured I would try to answer the questions raised.
Specifically from a blog post by mc - found here - mc's blog

A little background on me - my Bachelor of Science is in Sport Medicine and Athletic Training which means I have a pretty deep understanding of anatomy, physiology, Orthopedic evaluation and rehabilitation and have been working with understanding movement, injury and rehabilitation for quite a while now (20 years or so).  Add to that- years as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA, various other certifications along the way and years of personal training which have culminated in achieving the Master RKC status and co-developing the CK-FMS (a blending of the FMS and RKC) and I am also on the Advisory Board for the FMS.  I am also working on Z Health (R, I, S phase so far) and I aggressively pursue my continuing education in various other ways.  As Master RKC and a teacher for FMS and the CK-FMS I routinely educate others on training, movement etc...
My point....I have been doing this for quite a while and speak from education as well as experience.

To the Questions:
Can the Get-up be a stand alone screen?  
Maybe is the answer... and I know most people hate that answer.  But - there it is.
As Pavel states in the Naked Warrior when he quotes a special forces member - "i should be able to take care of myself naked in the forest but it goes without saying that I would do better with my knife, gun, clothes, body armor, and my entire squad with me..." (that is a paraphrase by the way... get Naked Warrior for the full story...)

So can I use the get-up as a screen - Yes - Is it as good as or equal to the FMS - No.

Let's look at that from both angles... based on what I am looking for in the Get-up and if it has an FMS tie in:
Roll to Punch - 
I look for attention to detail and safety in respecting KB and shoulder.  Once the "punch" is performed I look for shoulder packing (shoulder blade in back pocket - lat engaged).  After that proper positioning of the opposite arm and same side leg.  FMS tie in - not really maybe some small correlation to the Rolling patterns in Primitive Patterns.

Punch to Elbow -
As this move is performed I look for the shoulders to stay packed and for the down leg to stay down and for a smooth but controlled 45 degree move to the elbow.  FMS tie in - inability to keep the down leg down can correlate to the Primitive Patterns and Rotary Stability test - 
this can possibly be addressed with the Get-up but may need deeper assessment through the Primitive Patterns program.

Elbow to Post -
I look for continued shoulder packing and positioning during transition and proper hand placement.  FMS tie in - Failure to maintain proper shoulder position with the KB could indicate restriction correlated with the Shoulder Mobility test or it could just indicate a lack of activation and ability to use the lat and scapula properly.

Post to Bridge -
Transitioning into the Bridge I look for continued shoulder packing and positioning and the ability to perform a full hip extension on both the straight and bent leg.  FMS tie in - the FMS checks hip extension in three different ways so we have some cross over here.

Bridge to Knee -
From the bridge into the transition into bringing the knee to the ground we look for continued shoulder position and the ability to keep the bent leg hip extended and work around that hip effectively.  FMS tie in - if the hip dips on the bent leg during transition it could indicate a failure to keep the glutes engaged which we check in both the Backside program and Knee and Hip program assessments also can correlate with the ASLR.

Knee to Half Kneel
Transitioning from the knee and hand on the ground to a half kneeling position while keeping the shoulder packed.  FMS tie in - could correlate with TSPU for core activation but not much tie in here.

Half Kneel to Stand
Smooth transition to standing from the half kneeling position - again shoulder packing and positioning and ability to maintain alignment and positioning of both the legs and spine and KB.  FMS tie in - most similar to the ILL but doesn't force crossing midline (an essential skill) so it misses an important part of that test but asymmetrical stance stability is tested.

So as you can see the Get-up has portions of the FMS but not the whole package. 
The Get-up can identify certain neck issues and breathing issues unique to it.

What is it missing or how does it compare to the FMS?
FMS tests stability (called coordination by some) in symmetrical stance, asymmetrical stance and single leg stance.  Get-up only gets asymmetrical (and that doesn't ask for the same crossing of midline).

FMS tests mobility of the hip, knee, ankle and shoulder - in multiple positions - the Get-up does this to an extent but not the same and not in the symmetrical and single leg stances.

FMS tests reflexive core stabilization in the Trunk Stability Push-up - the Get-up doen't really get this.  the Punch to Elbow is more rotary in nature but does have some reflexive stabilization in it but as I said it is more rotary in nature.

FMS tests Shoulder Mobility with a specific reach incorporating Thoracic extension, Shoulder abduction/external rotation and flexion and Shoulder addcution/internal rotation and extension.  While the Get-up assesses shoulder mobility and thoracic mobility it misses some of the specific positions of the SM test but does incorporate moving the body around a stabile shoulder - unique to the Get-up.

FMS tests split you in to Right and Left halves in 5 of the tests looking for asymmetry - The Get-up does this to an extent and within the moves of the Get-up and the tie-ins as mentioned.
Any exercise that is performed on the right and then left side can be a chance for evaluation of symmetry.

FMS tests (once all 7 are performed) allow you to quickly identify the Weak Link and provides corrections for those weak link (s).  The Get-up can find a weak link but it may just be specific to the Get-up and not as targeted as the FMS identified weak link.
On the "mixed research" - a little inside information here... one of the studies claiming the FMS doesn't find what it claims to find was scoring the tests in the opposite manner (meaning they took the 1's as the best and 3's as the worst) so you have to be very careful in interpreting the results of "research".  Research in the FMS means you have to find a group of people before they take on some given activity - screen them - and then do nothing but wait for them to get injured.  Sounds great doesn't it! ;-)  This is just one of the many reasons I hate research and why I do not wait for peer reviewed research to tell me what I already know from years of practice.  Will the research come?  Sure but despite there not being any peer reviewed research on ketchup we still put it on our fries and burgers.  (credit to Alwyn Cosgrove for that quip - see link on left for his blog)

On the hover or the thought that the bridge is dangerous:
#1 - The Get-up properly taught is taught bodyweight first - meaning you will already know if the person has an issue before you load them.
#2 - The hover uses your Hip Flexor to "trigger" your abs - this is the definition of a dysfunctional core stability pattern (can it be done - sure but you need to be sure it doesn't change your firing sequence) - and "feeling" your abs work means NOTHING in relation to true core stability and functioning of the Inner Unit of your Core.
#3 - Hopefully you performed the FMS screen before hand to check the individuals true movement ability before trying to condition them. (more on this in a moment)
#4 - If the person lacks hip extension or feels the bridge is too difficult perform one of the other options offered in the DVD.  You will know they lack hip extension from the bodyweight get-up - correct it before you ask for it in the weighted get-up.  Until it is corrected perform another variation or only the pieces of the Get-up that lead to that step.
#5 - This bridge position is mild compared to other bridging variations in training, yoga, martial arts, gymnastics etc.... but here it is dangerous... really???

Performing the FMS FIRST means you will have already targeted weak links and worked on Removing the Negative before you load the individual or begin to attempt to Condition the individual. 
Why FMS and not just the Get-up?  
Re-read the statement above and see if you still have the same question.

I choose to use both because there are benefits to both and the more tools I have in my "toolbox" the better able I am to work with my clients.
FMS and the Get-up and bands and whatever tool I deem necessary to help my client achieve their goal and/or remove the negative.

To be clear - if you know the FMS and the Get-up - use both.
If only FMS - obvious.
If only Get-up - use it as an appraisal of Left/right symmetry and use the corrections where you find issues.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A day of training...

Prep work - Z, ASLR, Brettzel
Get-ups 24 kg x 2+2, 2+2
Goblet Squat + Two Arm Swing Superset Ladder with 24 kg KB
10+10>9+9>8+8>short rest>7+7>6+6>5+5>short rest>4+4>3+3>2+2>1+1
Snatch Press Ladder (snatch before each press) with 24 kg KB
Z and Inversion to finish

Inversion feels great.

Off to Maryland for the FITCON conference tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Quick and Effective...

Pull-ups (bodyweight) - tactical x 10, sternum x 5, chins x 5
Prep work - Z and Brettzel
24 kg VO2 Max @ 7 reps per 15 sec. x 20 sets
little z and tumbling to finish

Good VO2 Max session for me - I think that is best I have done on the VO2 Max with the 24 kg.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Great RKC!

The RKC is a unique community.  Not only are we slightly off dead center in our interests (card tearing, bending, odd lifts, kettlebells, torn hands...) but there is a strong sense of community.
For example - upwards of 20 or so RKCs came back to assist at this RKC on a volunteer basis.
They volunteer their time and resources to assist at the RKC and are intent on providing the same experience they had to the new attendees.  It is amazing and it is a big reason why I am so motivated to stay on top of my game and why I am so proud to be a Master RKC.

Team Jones was simply great.  I had a combination of strength coaches, trainers, a florist, two true survivors and they all worked hard, learned well and made me proud.

My assistants were solid and represented the RKC very well.  Tim Anderson, Fawn Friday and Sharon Nelson took care of Team Jones and ensured that everyone had their questions answered and their form critiqued. I could not have done it without them.

Pavel and the rest of the Seniors, Master and Team Leaders - I learn every time I teach with you.

Go Team Jones!

Yesterday I did some card tearing:
6 decks total - 3 duct tape tears (one - 1 layer, two - 2 layers), 1 behind the back, 1 regular, 1 deck + 12 cards.  I also quartered two of the halves.
Adam Glass gave me a few pointers this weekend at the RKC which will help with my progression in card tearing. 

Training later today...

Well - it is later today...

Prep work - Z and Brettzel
24 kg Get-up x 2+2 (with high bridge)
40 kg Get-up x 1+1, 1+1 (with high bridge)
40 kg Bent Press x 2+2 
Military Press 40 kg x 1+1 x 5 sets
Snatch Press 24 kg x 3+3 x 5 sets
Goblet Sq 40 kg x 5 x 5 sets
40 kg Bent Press x 2+2
40 kg One Arm Swing x 5+5 x 5 sets
little Z to finish

Feeling good...

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Variety Day...

Prep work - Z, Rolling patterns, ASLR, Brettzel, some tumbling
24 kg Get-up x 5+5
24 kg SLDL x 5+5
24kg Front Squat x 5+5
24 kg Bottoms-up Press Ladder x 1 - 2- 3 (right and left continuous)
24 kg Windmill x 5+5
24 kg Side stepping Alternating Swing x 20
28 kg (x2) Renegade Row x 5+5
28 kg (x2) See Saw Press x 5+5
28 kg (x2) Double Snatch x 5
28 kg (x2) Double Swing x 5
32 kg Bent Press x 5+5
32kg Snatch x 5+5
Z, Wall walk Bridges, handstands to finish

Just felt like a variety day...

Off to MSP tomorrow for the RKC!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Here is a photo of the FMS gang (Gray, Lee and Me) along with Dr. Ed Thomas from our workshop in Virginia.

VO2 Max Training...

Prep work: Z, ASLR, Brettzel, Rolling
20 kg VO2 Max - 7 reps per 15 sec. x 40 sets
Z and Inversion to finish

Backing down to 7 reps makes a difference - I was focused on the pace and a solid lockout position and being tight at the finish of the hip snap.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quick and deadly...

Short on time but still a good session:

Prep work - Rolling, ASLR, Brettzel, Z
32 kg Get-up x 2+2
32 kg MP ladders (snatch start) x 2 ladders of (1-2-3)
32 kg Goblet Squat + 2 arm swing superset
5 GS + 10 swings, 4 GS +10 swings, 3 GS +10 swings, 2 GS + 10 swings,
1 GS +10 swings
Z to finish

Saturday, April 11, 2009

KB and Card Tearing...

Card Tearing x 7 decks
(2 decks were VERY hard, 4 decks torn and then tore 4 of those halves into quarters, and 1 duct tape tear)

Prep work - Rolling patterns, ASLR, Brettzel, Z
24 kg Arm Bar x 1+1
24 kg Get-up to Half Kneeling + 3 half kneeling presses x 1+1
24 kg MP ladders - 1 thru 5 reps x 2 ladders
continuous reps during ladders - rest between ladders - using a clean to get in position for each ladder
24 kg SLDL  5+5
24 kg  Swings x 50 (10 L + 10 R, 10 L + 10 R, 10 two arm)

Z to finish

Two of the decks were rubbery and very hard which is always a nice surprise ;-)
MPs felt good and training is feeling very good.  My prep work is efficient and targeted on my areas of concern which is a great way to start a training session.
VO2 Max Training From 4/10/09...

Prep work - ASLR, Brettzel, TSPU walkouts and some Z

16kg VO2 Max Snatch - 8 reps per 15 sec. x 40 sets

A little Z and ASLR to finish

The prep work was primarily done while filming a quick video for a soon to be release project with Geoff Neupert - Keep you eyes peeled for that... 

Thursday, April 09, 2009


The past few days are a blur but I think I am coming out the other side of the fatigue etc...
Sunday turned into a 24 hour travel day (not fun) and was followed by two long but good teaching days and then another (thankfully  shorter) travel day on Wednesday.

Training today...
Prep work - ASLR, Brettzel
24 kg Get-up x 2+2
Rite of Passage MP ladders (snatch press)
24 kg x 5 Ladders of 1 through 4 reps 
Goblet Squat and Two arm Swings superset ladder (10 thru 1)
10 Goblet Sq + 10 2 arm swings > down to 9+9 and on down to 1+1
A little Z and stretch to finish

I snatched the KB into place overhead to start my MP and there was no rest during each ladder only between ladders.  The Goblet Squat and 2 Arm swing superset is supposed to be without rest but I had to rest some.  

Friday, April 03, 2009

In the land of the Viking...

Safe and sound in Denmark 

Arrived yesterday morning and had the chance to walk around Copenhagen and grab a workout with the Dane of Pain.  Deadlifts, KB presses and pull-ups along with some card tearing and nail bending were the order of the day.  KJ gave me some pull-up tips that are going to help quite a bit I think.  A great dinner and then off to sleep.
Today = FMS workshop.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

On the Road Again....and Again....

Tomorrow I leave for Copenhagen to hit a one day FMS hosted by the Dane of Pain!
Sunday night I arrive in Newark and divert to Norfolk to assist Pavel with a workshop and return to Pittsburgh Wednesday the next couple of weeks look like this:
Travel 4/2 to Copenhagen
Teach one day FMS 4/4
Travel 4/5 Copenhagen to Newark > Newark to Norfolk
Teach 4/6 - 4/7
Travel 4/8 to Pittsburgh
and then...
4/16 - 4/19 - RKC in MSP
4/25 - Keynote presentation at the FITCON ( for details)
5/8 - Perform Better Summit in Providence
5/15 - 5/16 - Advanced Corrective Exercise workshop in Amsterdam
5/28 - 5/31 - CK-FMS workshop in MSP
6/6 - 6/7 - FMS workshop in Ohio

and I will stop there... but it continues to be a full year of travel and work!!

Will blog when I can as I travel.

Tore a three more decks - one of them a brutal duct tape tear! Fun
Potpouri today...

Card tearing - Casino Decks x 4, quartered 4 of those halves, one of the full tears was behind the back
Prep work - Z, rolling patterns, tumbling and handstands
Get-up 24kg x 2+2, 2+2 (special style to be revealed at CK-FMS)
32 kg Snatch 5+5 x 5 sets
Z, ASLR to finish

Mixed bag today - fun stuff

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