Thoughts on 3D MAPS Part II: What is “Functional” Training?


If you’re a fitness or injury rehab professional then you probably recognize the name Gary Gray. His name is often associated with the concept of “functional” training.

In short, Gray realized early in his career that the body works in a very different way from the way he was taught. He saw that the body was far less a collection of individual pieces and is actually tremendously interconnected. What happens at one joint and one area of the body has an effect throughout the rest of the body.  He recognized that muscles typically move eccentrically (lengthen) before they move concentrically (shorten). He saw that all of our movement is affected by gravity, mass and momentum. He realized that most of the time we need to be strong and mobile while standing up as opposed to sitting on something like a weight-stack machine. He also noticed that we do a lot of work on one foot as we walk, step, and run.

(I learned a traditional model of anatomy and movement and I agree very much with Gray that real-life movement and muscle function happen very differently from what’s taught in lots of text books.)

The concept of functional training has spawned endless discussion. Ask 10 different trainers or coaches what functional training is and you’ll probably get 10 different answers. Some associate functional training with doing everything on a BOSU, stability ball or only on one leg. I think it’s a little more complicated. In the end, isn’t all training supposed to be functional? When would we seek out non-functional or dysfunctional training?

These are the characteristics of functional training as I see them:

These runners are primarily moving forward but rotation and side-to-side movement is clearly visible.

These runners are primarily moving forward but rotation and side-to-side movement is clearly visible.

3D/tri-plane mobility and stability

We move in three planes. We move in the saggital plane or front to back, the frontal plane or side-to-side, and the transverse plane or left/right rotation. Not only do we move in those planes but we must be able to stabilize our bodies as forces act on us in these three planes. Certain movements, sports or activities may demand more from us in one of these planes and less in another. For instance cycling is very saggital plane dominant. There’s very little transverse or frontal plane movement when we ride a bike. In contrast, tennis puts features a lot of work in all three planes. Functional training recognizes these needs and trains them accordingly.

Joints and limbs are integrated during movement. 

If we look at the body during typical real-life movement we see all the joints and limbs move together in an integrated fashion. Walking, stepping out of a car, picking up an object from the ground, throwing a ball, kicking a ball and standing up from a chair utilize all the joints limbs and muscles to accomplish the task. Gray calls these types of movements “authentic.” Functional training recognizes and favors this integrated movement process over isolated or “inauthentic” movement.

Joints and limbs are rarely if ever isolated.

Our bodies are integrated systems. In real life, we rarely move just one joint. We should train accordingly.

Our bodies are integrated systems. In real life, we rarely move just one joint. We should train accordingly.

In contrast to the integrated movement concept, we have exercises that isolate the limbs and joints. Many gym exercises (particularly machine-based exercises) are of an isolated nature. These exercises rarely have any similarity to typical human movement. In a leg extension for example, the user typically sits down with his or her feet off the ground and then flexes and extends the knee in isolation to perform the exercise.  No other muscles or joints are moved during this exercise. Now, I ask you, when was the last time you needed strong quads–but not glutes, hamstrings and other leg and trunk muscles–while seated and your feet not touching the floor? This just doesn’t happen outside of a gym.

Muscles work eccentrically before they work concentrically.

This means muscles lengthen before they shorten. For instance, if we prepare to jump into the air then must perform a partial squat before we leave the ground. When this happens we get a lengthening of the quads, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, calves; and if we swing the arms back then we lengthen the front deltoids, the biceps and various other muscles. These muscles then rapidly shorten in the opposite direction as we jump. Similarly in the overhead throw, the thrower draws back the ball and lengthens the abs, triceps, pecs, lats, hip flexors and others before launching the ball.

Iggy Pop is showing us  both eccentric muscle lengthening (the whole front of his body) AND amazing end-range control.  TOM COPI / MICHAEL OCHS ARCHIVES / GETTY

Iggy Pop is showing us both eccentric muscle lengthening (the whole front of his body) AND amazing end-range control.

This lengthen/contraction cycle (Gray often calls it “load to explode”) happens constantly throughout the day during nearly all activities. Most often it happens as our bodies manage gravitational forces as we interact with the ground. This eccentric-first model is functional in terms of typical human movement. It stands in contrast to a lot of anatomy and physiology teaching which emphasizes the concentric contraction only.

End-range control

The end-range of motion is somewhere near the furthest edge of where we can move. Once we get there we often reverse our movement and go back in the direction where we started. (Gary Gray calls this the “transformation zone.”)

This end-range is where a lot of injuries occur. We’re vulnerable at the end-range but clearly we go there sometimes even if we’re not athletes. If we have the flexibility to get there but we lack control and strength in that range then we may be in trouble. Functional training creates conditions where we go to the end range under control and learn to work there. For a lot more on end-range matters, check out Todd Hargrove’s article.

The lunge stance by the fencer on the right is a good example of an end-range of movement requirement. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 148073293

The lunge stance by the fencer on the right is a good example of an end-range of movement requirement. (Photo by Hannah Johnston/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 148073293

Most exercises are done standing.

Typically we need to be strong and/or powerful when we’re standing on one or two feet. It’s rare that we need to exert much muscular force when we’re sitting or lying down. For this reason, most functional training is done standing.

We typically need strength when we're standing, not when we're sitting or lying down.

We typically need strength when we’re standing, not when we’re sitting or lying down.

Perhaps more specifically, functional training is often conducted with the body in the position of the required task. Life and athletic competition may require us to get into any number of positions and postures.

Though most functional training is done while standing, I think there’s a lot of use in doing things on the ground in quadriped, on our side, and lying on our back or stomach. For that matter, just going from the ground to standing up may be very functional for a lot of people.

Externally directed vs. internally directed

I’ve discussed external cueing vs internal cueing as it pertains to coaching movement. External cueing directs the athlete to affect his or her environment. Internal cueing directs the focus internally into the body. An external cue might be “Step toward the target,” “Reach to the ceiling,” “Reach right/left,” “Reach down,” “Push,” and “Pull,” are examples of externally directed or task-oriented directions. Internal cues include “Squeeze the muscle,” “Contract the quads,” “Abduct the arm,” “Extend the leg,” “Tighten the abs,” are examples of internal cues. Functional training favors external cues (task-oriented) over internal cues, (Though I’ve found internal cues to be essential at times.) When using external cues we seem to get a full-body reaction and we can see as Gray terms it “authentic” movement. In other words we can observe how the person chooses to move and how their nervous system organizes the movement. With external cues we can see a client/patient react rather than perform for us.

(For more on internal/external cueing, this article from Bret Contreras may interest you.)

Energy-system specific

Thus far the functional training criteria I’ve listed has pertained only to movement. But if we really want to be comprehensive in our functional conditioning then we need to include a focus on the energy system(s) to be used during something like an athletic activity.

Let’s take distance running for example. It’s mainly a single-leg activity so we might want to perform one-leg squats of some sort and/or one-leg hops and jumps. So we have our exercises. With regard to the energy system, it’s the aerobic system that primarily drives distance running. With that in mind we probably want to perform the exercises while that system is up and running full-bore. That might mean doing very high reps (2 minutes or more) of our exercises. We could also run for a while, do one or more of our exercises, run more, do exercises and repeat for some duration. Or we could do several exercises in a row such that it takes several minutes to complete a circuit.

(I give further ideas for energy system conditioning for skiing here.)

Did I miss anything?

There are my thoughts and observations on what constitutes functional training. What do you think? Can you add anything else?

Thoughts on 3D MAPS & Functional Training: Part I


I recently attended a course called 3D MAPS. The course was presented by Dr. David Tiberio and it was offered through Gary Gray’s Gray Institute. I enjoyed the course and learned a lot. I’m now applying the concepts I learned in both my own training and in my clients’ programs. Here’s a rundown.


What is 3D MAPS all about? The Gray Institute describes it as such:

  • 3D – The human body moves three-dimensionally. All proprioceptors respond, all muscles react, and all joints move three-dimensionally. It only makes sense to analyze and progress the body three-dimensionally. 3DMAPS facilitates functional assessment and much, much more!
  • Movement – 3DMAPS leverages movements – lunges, reaches, squats – that are paramount to common, everyday movements and activities. These movements are authentic to the individual and relevant to what the individual does. While other screens, scans, analyses, claim to be functional, 3DMAPS actually is.
  • Analysis – 3DMAPS analyzes the entire body’s mobility (flexibility, range of motion) and stability (strength, control of motion) and then identifies a Relative Success Code specific to individual – based on symmetries, asymmetries, and disabling pain within the movements.
  • Performance – 3DMAPS enhances the function of the individual and progresses systematically and scientifically for optimal function and improvement.
  • System – Performance Movements parallel Analysis Movements, thus creating a seamless and intuitive process for both the practitioner and the patient / client.

As I see it, 3D MAPS is a movement analysis method that asks the client or patient to move through a wide range of motion in all three planes. As the client moves, the trainer continually asks “Is he/she showing adequate mobility?” and “Is he/she showing adequate stability?”

3D MAPS uses six lunges in three planes of motion to check mobility. In the saggital plane we have anterior/posterior lunges. In the frontal plane we have same-side lateral and opposite-side lateral. In the transverse plane we have same-side rotational and opposite-side rotational.

Six variations on one-legged squats are used to check stability. The same planes of motion are used as the lunges but instead of taking a full lunge step the client balances on one leg while reaching the other leg in the various different directions described above. These single-leg movements can be quite challenging and putting the foot down is allowed if needed.

In addition to the lunges and one-legged squats, clients swing their arms in the same three planes of motion as the lunges and squats.

3D MAPS movement patterns used to evaluate mobility and stability: anterior lunge, posterior lunge, opposite side lateral lunge, same side lateral lunge, opposite side rotational lunge, same side rotational lunge.

3D MAPS movement patterns used to evaluate mobility and stability: anterior lunge, posterior lunge, opposite side lateral lunge, same side lateral lunge, opposite side rotational lunge, same side rotational lunge. The lunge images are in black. The 1-leg squats are red.

Above are the basic movement patterns used in 3D MAPS. Trainers can “tweak” (in Gary Gray speak) in our out a wide variety of movement variables to make the movements more or less challenging. For instance, clients may lunge or one-leg squat without the arm swings or they may swing the arms without the lunges and one-leg squats. Lunges and one-leg squats may move in different planes from the arm swings.

The ground reaction force of the lunge may prove too challenging for some clients. A trainer can then simply ask the client to get in the lunge position and oscillate into and out of the lunge position.

The one-leg squat variations are designed to challenge the client’s balance and stability skills. They may be too challenging especially when the arm swings are used. Therefore a trainer may allow the free foot to tap down, tweak out the arms, keep the head steady (as opposed to moving with the trunk) or allow the client to hold lightly on to something for a little more stability. The idea here is to find the limits of someone’s stability but not to totally push them over the edge of his or her ability.

As we observe the client move we take note of the right/left symmetry of the client’s mobility, stability, and whether or not there’s pain present during the process. We note their successes and deficits as part of something called the Relative Success Code. This is a way of ranking their abilities from most to least successful and it helps determine our training or treatment process.


Based on real-life

I feel the 3D MAPS process lives up to its “functional” billing. That is, it allows us to observe movements that are specific to many real-life situations. 3D MAPS speaks to the SAID Principle which says our bodies adapt specifically to the demands imposed on us. Real-life demands us to move in three dimensions, react to gravity and that our joints, limbs and muscles all work together to accomplish various tasks. We tend to stand on one or two legs while doing these tasks. For all these reasons I feel like 3D MAPS is superior to something like the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), sit-and-reach tests, 3-minute step test, crunch test, pushup test, timed plank test, etc.

(The concept of “functional” training has stimulated my thinking. I’m writing a blog post on that concept right now.)

Feels like exercise

Most of my clients find themselves working fairly hard as we’ve gone through 3D MAPS. It feels like exercise. Not all movement analysis systems deliver this feeling to the participants. The reality is that many of our clients come to us because they want to exert and sweat. If we can gain valuable information and give our clients a workout then that’s a very good thing.

Easy to teach

The Gray Institute does a good job of teaching how to teach. Dr. Tiberio and the online videos made it easy to understand the breakdown of the movement patterns and how to progress and regress them.

Opens clients’ eyes

If 3D MAPS reveals a mobility and/or stability deficit then my clients typically perceive it. They often very clearly recognize that they’re lacking in their ability to lunge and they can always tell if they have poor balance. This is valuable in getting a client to buy into the 3D MAPS process.

Further, I’ve found that following the 3D MAPS intervention blueprint often results in noticeably better stability and/or mobility. It’s always exciting to see results!

The search for success

A very interesting aspect of the 3D MAPS methodology (and the Gray Institute process in general) is that we first want to find where and how the client can move successfully. We then want to to gradually move in on their lack of success. This is in contrast to what I think most of us want to do and that’s dive right into the task that gives us the most trouble. I think we typically want to climb the biggest, toughest obstacle before we tackle anything less significant. (Maybe that’s just me…. Nah.)

There are a couple of ideas behind the process of moving from the most successful down to the least successful movement task. One is that we want the client to feel successful and confident. If he or she can do something well and feel competent and confident then they will likely have a generally good workout experience. He or she may feel encouraged to try more difficult work.

The other idea informing the most-to-least-successful process is based on the possibility that the nervous system will best be able to solve the most difficult movement task if we very gradually expose it to increasingly difficult work. This makes sense if we think of learning anything from a language to music to driving a car to skiing. We do best if we start with very simple tasks and then progress toward more difficult territory. This process makes sense to me.

Many options

As I mentioned earlier, there are many ways to “tweak” the lunges, one-leg squats and the arm swings. Trainers can have clients move their head or not. We can ask clients to speed up, slow down, and lunge or squat farther out or closer in. We can go with lower-body or upper-body movements only and we can have clients use either the upper or lower body in ways to increase or decrease stability requirements. Beyond the assessment aspect of 3D MAPS, we can have clients hold weights, medicine balls, cables, bands, etc. if we want to create a greater challenge.


Not a great upper-body assessment

3D MAPS is a very good lower-body assessment but it seems limited as an upper-body assessment. It’s very difficult to observe scapular movement quality or humeral internal/external rotation quality. Further, while we can observe mobility and stability in the lower-body, 3D MAPS gives us virtually no indication of upper-body stability.

Better for global movement assessment than local assessment

For now, 3D MAPS gives me a big picture of how the person is moving. It doesn’t reveal a lot about individual joints. My criticism here will probably lessen as I become more familiar with and more skilled at using 3D MAPS. Proper use of “tweaks” should help reveal individual joint limitations.

Relative Success Code is difficult

The Relative Success Code is supposed to be simple but it’s not and from what Dr. Tiberio said, the Gray Institute knows that there’s more work to be done. We’re supposed to score the client’s movement from their best success down to their least and then start working from their best to worst movements. But with six lunge variations and six one-leg squat variations for both sides of the body there is a lot to try and see and score. The issue as I see it is that human movement is complex and we can only simplify it so much.

Scoring should be divided into mobility and stability

This is related to the previous criticism. 3D MAPS provides tests for both mobility and stability yet we’re only supposed to give the client a “+” if they show good mobility and stability, a “-” if they show poor mobility/stability or “- P” if they have pain on any test.

If we’re testing two things it seems we should give two separate scores on each test for stability and mobility. I imagine that every trainer and therapist who uses 3D MAPS will create their own two-part score. Dr. Tiberio acknowledged this during the presentation so I’m betting the scoring system will change soon.

Many options

One of its strengths can also be a weakness. There are near infinite ways to change the testing process as well as the training/treatment process derived from 3D MAPS. Initially it’s daunting when considering all the options. Like most any new skill, the more we use it the better we get at using it. This is a minor criticism.

My overall opinion

3D MAPS gets a thumbs-up from me. I use some portion of it daily with practically all my clients. More than anything I appreciate that the driving force behind 3D MAPS is actual real-life movement requirements. I love the emphasis on three-dimensional movement. Gary Gray maybe more than anyone in the industry insists that we always look at movement through a 3D lens.

Some of this gets complicated. It does take a lot of thinking and practice to feel comfortable using the system–but what new skill doesn’t take a lot of work to master?

Dr. Tiberio said something during the 3D MAPS presentation that I found wise and valuable to me. He said, “Don’t give up what got you here.” With that he meant don’t throw out all the training methods and tools that we’ve used to become successful trainers. Don’t rush too headlong into the shiny, brand-new, hottest thing that we’ve just learned (and likely not yet mastered).

His words spoke to me and some of my past experiences as a trainer. To my regret, I’ve thrown several babies out with various tubs of fitness bathwater. There were times I was convinced that I found the absolute best, most incredible absolutely most effective tool, exercise or system and I just had to push all my clients in the direction of said new-cool-thing. While in reality two things were probably true: A) Said new-cool-thing may not have been the miracle answer to all things I thought it was, and B) Some of my previous tools, exercises and systems were still valuable. The result was that sometimes either I, my clients or both of us were frustrated. With both Dr. Tiberio’s words and my own experiences in mind, I am trying to fold 3D MAPS into my training process in a way that’s both amenable to my clients and that doesn’t frustrate me as I get familiar with 3D MAPS.

What that means is that I typically work on some of the mobility/stability issues that I see in my clients but we may not spend the whole session on 3D MAPS-related issues. We still use barbells, kettlebells, the TRX and other training tools to perform non-3D MAPS-type exercises. I have found that a very good way to work on clients’ mobility/stability issues is to put 3D MAPS exercises in between sets of say bench press, deadlift, pull-ups, etc.

Further, if someone is preparing for an athletic tasks (I train several skiers and snowboarders for instance) then their sport dictates that they exhibit athletic skill during times of fatigue. I believe an effective way of training these athletes is to fatigue them in some way (with kettlebell swings for instance) and then require them to exhibit skilled mobility/stability (with some sort of one-legged squat for instance). Thus I’ve found that 3D MAPS work can easily be used alongside whatever other training modalities a trainer and his or her clients enjoy, so hooray for everyone!

That’s about it for now. My next post will speak to the idea of functional training and exactly what that term might mean.



What I’ve Learned: Principles of Movement & FASTER Global – Part II


From gym work to “real life.”

Athletic endeavors and typical daily movements are rarely symmetrical. We’re often stepping from one foot to the other in any of several directions, swiveling and/or bending our bodies, reaching, moving with a load on one side of our body–all potentially at the same time. If we think of the SAID Principle (discussed very thoroughly here by Todd Hargrove of Better Movement) then it stands to reason that some of our training ought to resemble our chosen athletic or leisure activity, both in movement pattern and energy system usage.

A squat by any other name…sss1

Skiing-in-France-HD-Wallpaper-1280x800-3A lot of conventional exercises–squats and
deadlifts for instance–keep the feet planted against the ground in a symmetrical stance. Fine, but how much should we expect those exercises to translate to something like skiing? Yes skiing uses two legs and it sort of looks like a squat but there’s a lot more going on during a ski turn than just moving the body down and up.

We could say something similar about basketball where there’s a lot of jumping,

how-to-deadliftlanding and movement into positions which look a good bit like a deadlift–but clearly doesn’t look like the standard deadlift.








Here’s a very interesting video on how to take a squat and add some flavor to it:

These are the types of movements that more closely resemble many sports and recreational activities. These can be used as part of a warm-up for a workout or they can be used as the workout itself.

Ground reaction forces

At some point we need to consider ground reaction forces. A foot or feet hitting the ground creates a whole different set of circumstances compared to planted feet. Enter the lunge.

A lunge creates a ground reaction force (GRF) as the foot hits the ground. A series of events should ideally take place in a certain sequence at the following joints: mid-tarsal joint, subtalar joint, talocrural joint, knee, hip and on up through the spine and even out to the shoulders and beyond!

(BTW, a lunge can be any distance or depth. If someone can’t lunge far and deep then it’s completely appropriate to simply take a step. I often ask my clients to go as far and/or deep as they can only so long as they can maintain control of the movement.)

There are a lot of variations on the lunge. We can step in any number of directions. Our world is a three-dimensional place so we can step forward or backwards, side to side, or in a circular or twisting type of motion.The purpose in doing this is to allow us to experience a wide range of joint angles and different ground impact scenarios. We can see if an athlete is able to move into his or her sport position. We might be able to expose a movement pattern that is unstable and which the athlete may want to improve for performance and safety.

Lunges for all occasions

Here are a collection of lunges done in an assortment of directions. Each type of lunge creates a different reaction throughout the limbs and joints.

Not pictured are lunges in which the trainee steps up or down off of a step. Any of these lunges can be done in this way. It’s a good way train for something like a hike (if for some reason a hike can’t be undertaken) or to simply add variety and new skills to the workout. Next you’ll see lunging in conjunction with reaching.


Summary of the NSCA Endurance Clinic: Day 2


Day 2:

  • Dr. Carwyn Sharp – Role of Strength Training & the Endurance Athlete
    • Factors determining successful endurance performance
      • VO2Max – Not nearly as important as we’ve thought for years
      • Lactate/Anaerobic Threshold
      • Economy of Movement
      • Velocity at onset of blood lactate accumulation (vOBLA) – This may be the most important.
      • We need to think of ways to increase performance, not just measurements like VO2Max.
    • Improving Running Economy (RE)/Economy of Movement (EM):
      • strength
      • speed
      • power
      • More force into the ground/pedals/water = speed
      • More force comes from more strength
      • Heavy strength training and plyometrics are best
      • Both are shown to improve vOBLA
      • Plyometrics need to look like running: 1-leg hops, bounds, skipping.  This is SPORT SPECIFIC TRAINING.
    • Good idea to cut strength training during a taper.
    • Strength training guidelines
      • heavy weight training:
      • 3-5 sets of 3-6 RM
      • with 3-5 minutes rest between sets
    • Plyometrics: most convincing performance results.
      • varies depending on training status, mode and intensity
      • work: rest of 1:5 to 1:10
      • 80-140 foot contacts per session; fewer for beginners
        • 2-foot landing counts as 2 contacts
        • 1-foot landing is 1 contact
      • Donald Chu, Jumping Into Plyometrics
  • Coach Jay Johnson, MS – The Strength & Conditioning Coach Meets the Running Coach
    • former collegiate runner and running coach at CU Boulder
    • coached 3 U.S. Track & Field champions
    • 6 main points
      • Athleticism
      • Runners (and everyone else) need to first have a base of athleticism
      • good movement in 3 planes of movement
      • full ROM at the joints
      • strength
      • He builds aerobic metabolism on top of this foundation of athleticism.
      • The idea of athleticism is massively important!
    • Why did your athlete/client get better?
      • Did they simply go from being sedentary to being active?
      • Or did they get better because of the program you designed?
    • Understand the role of glycogen
      • The body must be trained to use lipids as fuel
      • This syncs with Seebohar’s discussion on glycogen.
    • Development of the aerobic metabolism is the most important factor for peak running performance.
    • Runners must  do non-running work to stay healthy.
      • GSM (General Strength & Mobility Work)
      • Gary Gray’s 3D lunge matrix.  I’ve played with this in the past.  I’ve returned to it.  Here’s a video

  • Keep the easy days easy and the hard days hard.
    • Do the intense strength/plyometric work on the hard running days.
    • Take it easy on the off days.
    • This is a key part of the periodized plan
    • His discussion on periodization was very helpful to me
    • Macrocycle
      • When it’s time to progress the runs, do so on the hard days.
      • Run easy or rest on the easy days.  Never up the intensity of easy days.
      • A complete day off every 14 days is a good idea
      • Take an active rest week after every 5k, 10k, and half-marathon
      • He takes three weeks after a marathon.
    • Microcycle
      • 4 days/week running
      • Monday – recovery day: Do strides on Monday; 4-5 x 20-30 seconds at 5k pace with 1 minute easy jogging between reps.
      • Tuesday – workout: High level aerobic workout or race pace workout.  Can include:
        • Threshold/tempo run or
        • Fartlek run or
        • Progression run or
        • Long repetitions or
        • Alternate the above with race pace workouts week to week
      • Wednesday – aerobic cross-training
      • Thursday – off or cross-training
      • Friday – easy run day w/strides
      • Saturday – long run
      • Sunday – brisk walk
    • The lunge matrix is done before every run
    • Runs follow with general strength and mobility work and Active Isolated Stretching
    • Here’s a link to Johnson’s 8-week strength progression.
    • This may have been my favorite lecture.  Johnson did a fantastic job of taking academic information (physiology, periodization, race pace training) and telling us in simple terms how he implements these things.  His point on athleticism was HUGE to me. I plan to contact him for coaching this coming season.
  • Nick Clayton, MS, MBA, CSCS,*D, RSCC – Functional Training for the Endurance Athlete
    • This was an active demonstration in the performance center, not a lecture.
    • Sport specific movement that mimics body position, speed of contraction contraction type of said sport
    • trains the body as an integrated unit
    • Primal movement patterns
      • squat
      • lunge
      • lift
      • push
      • pull
      • twist
      • Squat progression
        • 1-leg balance
        • 1-leg squat
        • 1-leg squat in multiple planes and with other body movement
        • 1-leg squat jump to deceleration
      • Lunge progression
        • stationary with narrow base
        • multi-planar
        • multi-planar with reaching
        • split squat jumps with focus on quiet deceleration
      • Lift (deadlift related movements)
        • hip hinge and balance progression
        • 1-leg Romanian deadlift/deadlift
        • kettlebell swings
      • Push/Press: Discussed mainly addressing the postural and scapular considerations of safe and effective pushing in sport training
      • Pull:
        • Shoulder stability patterns:
        • Y, T, I, W, stability ball roll-out
        • I liked these patterns.  I’m using them now as part of the warm-up or as correctives as needed.
      • split stance dumbbell row
      • cable “lawnmower”
        • It’s a single-leg cable row with a hip hinge.
        • This is a running pattern. Here’s a demo

Prior to the strength and plyo demos, we went through a really cool walking/lunging mobility process. Nick said he was going to email out videos of the warm-up and when/if he does, I’ll post them here.  I may video it myself.

Getting out on the floor to play with these exercises was a lot of fun.  I really liked the 1-leg plyo work.  I definitely got some valuable ideas that I’ll implement in my own training and with my clients. I also liked the shoulder patterns a lot.  I’ve seen the Y, T, I, W patterns before but I understand them better now.  I think it’s key to KEEP THE SHOULDERS AWAY FROM THE EARS WHILE YOU DO THESE.

  • Randall Wilber – Training and Competing in a Hot and Humid Environment
    • Dr. Wilber discussed in great detail how he helped Deena Castor (bronze) and Meb Keflezighi (silver)  prepare for the Athens Olympic marathons in 2004.
    • While not terribly important to my goals, some of this information was new and very interesting.
    • 2 ways to prepare for heat/humidity:
      • Natural acclimatization
      • Arrive 10 days to two weeks out
      • Gradually adjust timing of high-intensity and low-intensity workouts (two-a-days)
      • Gradually creep the workouts towards the heat of the day such that the final day has a HI workout near noon and a LI intensity workout in the evening.
      • Pre-acclimatization (Deena and Meb both did this prior to Athens.)
        • Very simple: Train in more clothing to make the body hot and thus approximate the hot conditions in which you’re to compete.
        • Arrive a few days ahead of the event and do your final workouts.
      • Cooling strategies
      • clothing
        • no cotton
        • lightweight and light color
      • sunscreen: avoid it as much as possible as it clogs pores and inhibits sweating
      • ice packs/towels
      • ice vest
      • Apply cold/ice to hands and feet: I’ve noticed on my own how  in cold weather, I can put on gloves or take off gloves and experience a significant change in my overall temperature.
      • whole body immersion: showers, tubs
      • ice drinks (like Slurpees)
      • Stay as cool as possible right up to the event.
      • Consume more sodium while training in the heat.
  • David Bertrand – Managing the Endurance Athlete
    • MS, USA Triathlon Level II Coach, lectures at SMU in the Applied Physiology Dept, head of DFI Tri Club, Dallas
    • Athlete selection:
      • Very important to coach people with whom you mesh
      • You may not be the best coach for everyone
      • Curiosity: He needs to feel curious about his clients and their goals.
      • “Training with David” document: This was very insightful
        • What does training with David bring…
        • coaching philosophy
        • requirements
        • rates
        • weekly training availability
        • how training is delivered
        • training jargon and abbreviations
        • I need to develop a document like this w/my name in place of David’s
    • Coaching styles and methodologies
      • autocratic: best for groups with both high and low cohesion
      • democratic: best for groups with moderate cohesion
      • Display a vision.  Express belief in the athlete
      • Buy-in: “Here’s how were going to do it.”
    • Communication
      • How am I most effective?  1-on-1?  Small groups?  Big groups?  Ask my clients.
    • Training intensities
      • Most people go too hard.
      • This is in sync with Wilber’s advice that a little undertrained is far better than a little overtrained.
      • HR monitor can help keep athletes in check.
    • Writing and adjusting the plan
      • Adjusting the plan: This is your greatest value to them.  This separates you from the cookie cutter programs.
      • Most people need MORE RECOVERY, not more work.
    • Best practices
      • Don’t over-coach: Take 1 or 2 things and ask, “What did we focus on today?”  Less is more
      • Strive to learn.  Stay curious.  He told a great story about Jon Wooden.
      • Select days of the week for specific tasks.  Get organized.
      • Help athletes with something beyond just training.  Can you inspire them?
    • David gave a really superb lecture on what I call “filling in the cracks.”  That is, he spoke to issues beyond just physiology, heart rate, strength programs and other science. He talked about his time in the trade and how to actually work with human beings. I got a lot out of the lecture even though I’m not a tri coach nor do I plan on becoming one.


A Little Bit on Stretching: Part I

Artwork for the cover of Fantastic Four vol. 3, #52 (Apr, 2002). Art by Mike Wieringo.

Artwork for the cover of Fantastic Four vol. 3, #52 (Apr, 2002). Art by Mike Wieringo.

I’m all over the place here!  I’m tremendously excited over some new concepts that I’ve been learning; concepts concerning human movement and how we function.  A lot of it has to do with stretching but not necessarily the type you automatically think of (more on that in a little bit.)  My difficulty is in how to write about all this without putting out a some sort of treatise. Maybe I’ll make it more than one part…  Here’s the start.

A recent Washington Post MisFit column tackles the issue of stretching.  Is it beneficial or is one of those things that we do just because we’ve always done it?  What’s the evidence that there is any benefit to doing it?

I’ll tell you that I’ve done just about a 360 and then a 180 back the other way on stretching.  Like most people I was taught that stretching was important so I did it but I didn’t really understand it.  Then, several years ago I was persuaded to change my view.   I became convinced that dedicated (static) stretching was not effective and not safe.  Now I will tell you without hesitation that stretching absolutely must be done–in fact no human movement is possible without it! Remember that fact because it’s enormously important, and I’ll discuss it more later.

First, let’s figure out what stretching is.  Most people have an idea what it looks like to stretch but most likely there are other methods that might not come to mind immediately.  So let’s look at what might qualify as “stretching.”

  • Static stretching: This is probably what first comes to mind when you think stretching.  This involves moving a limb into a position to the point where a slight burning is felt in the muscle and the position is held for anywhere from several seconds to a minute or so.  Static stretching addresses passive flexibility.
  • Dynamic stretching: This is stretching with movement.  Maybe the best examples of dynamic stretching are found in the animal kingdom.  Ever see a cat or dog wake up from a nap?  Essentially, dynamic stretching involves moving limbs or the trunk through its available range of motion.  You often see athletes do this prior to a game.  Examples include kicking the legs, swinging the arms, twisting the torso, lunging and other such movements.  Dynamic stretching often involves swinging an implement such as a golf club, tennis racquet, or baseball bat.  Dynamic stretching addresses active flexibility.
  • PNF Stretching –  Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation: I won’t go into much detail on PNF as there’s a lot to it and I’m not terribly well versed on the topic.

The popular perception of (static) stretching says it’ll reduce likelihood of injury, increase range of motion, decrease muscle soreness.  Is any of this true?  Well, the evidence is not entirely clear.  There’s very little evidence that static stretching prior to exercise or competition decreases injury.  In fact it very likely contributes to injury.  Why?  I won’t go into every single physiological detail of stretching here but I’ll try to explain the big ideas as best I can.

Static stretching actually weakens the ability of a muscle to contract.  Though you may gain range of motion (ROM) from static stretching it also results in a less-active muscle and thus a less stable joint or joints which that muscle crosses.  This phenomenon has been shown by testing athletes strength and/or jumping ability pre- and post-stretch.  So if you stretch statically prior to your soccer or softball game what you’ve done is create weaker muscles and less stable joints.  That’s not what you want.  Dynamic stretching is safer and more pertinent to real-life situations.

Dynamic stretching is now generally recognized as an appropriate activity prior to a workout or athletic even, as research (see ch. 3 of Siff’s Supertraining) has shown that active flexibility is more closely correlated to sporting proficiency than is passive flexibility.  In this way, you wake up the nervous system and prepare the body for action.  A dynamic stretch routine should include movements that you will perform in the workout or game.  Examples include body weight squats, various lunges, twisting the torso and swinging and reaching the arms in various directions.

How’s that for part I?