Those of you who work with us know that kettlebells are one of our favorite training tools. Appropriate mobility, true core stability, and functional strength inside a balanced body that is moving authentically is THE KEY TO ATHLETIC SUCCESS, regardless of your sport. Kettlebells are so tremendously powerful in helping create faster, more ballistic, and injury-resistant athletes.
In Kettlebells from the Ground Up, Gray and Brett focus on mastering the incomperable Turkish Get-up. This move provides no better test of your stability and mobility in all planes of motion on both sides of your body. In Kettlebells from the Center, Gray and Brett guide you through perfecting hip-hinge mechanics, essential for the dynamic kettlebell swing. If you are a runner or triathlete, there is no better movement pattern to train than the kettlebell swing. True hip extension where the glute is the ultimate driver of the movement is a crucial movement pattern to own and master. In the video below, I demonstrate both movements for you.
One cannot overstate the impact Gray Cook and Brett Jones have had in the field of human movement and strength training. These two new videos add to the legend and lore of their reputations, and it is my privilege to present my thoughts on them. I will be doing more writing and reviewing of these two DVDs, and will be sure to share them with you as well.
We were delighted to receive this testimonial from one of our rock star clients, Steve Arendt. Steve came to us with a litany of injuries, and a spiraling downward trajectory in terms of running performance and training consistency. Instead of continuing to try and cram fitness on top of injury and dysfunction, he put his head down, did the work to get strong, stable, balanced and mobile. He is now seeing the benefit of his dedication, and it’s just the beginning of an athlete unleashed!
Thanks, Steve! We know there are great things in store for your training and racing!
I’m a runner and triathlete — I love the lifestyle and the feeling of being strong and fast. About two years ago I started on a downward spiral of running injuries: SI joint, piriformis, calves, and Achilles tendons. I grew to fear running — even when I took time off, it seemed like yet another injury would crop up as soon as I started running again. It was ruining my races because I couldn’t train with consistency. I tried all the usual things: massage, compression, stretching, icing, but the injuries just kept coming. I knew something bigger was wrong, but I didn’t know what.
So I flew out to Al and Kurt for a gait analysis. What a revelation! The Functional Movement Screen was eye-opening — I couldn’t believe how weak I was in some areas. I’ve been following Al and Kurt’s program for about 3 months now, and the results are amazing. I’ve been able to restart running and am slowly building back up (without injury). Running feels completely different now — I used to feel like I was plodding, but now I feel like I’m gliding along, light and easy. And my pace is about 30 to 45 seconds per mile faster with the same effort. The program is a lot of work, but its worth it.
Most importantly, with Al and Kurt’s explanations, I understand what I am trying to accomplish, so I know what to focus on. No more random exercises that might help or hurt the problem. And since I know what I’m trying to do, I can feel when I start losing form due to fatigue or lack of focus, and I can correct it.
Oh yeah, the swim. I went to Al and Kurt for help with running, but their program had an immediate effect on my swimming. I gained a nice bump in speed just from the improved core stability and strength. That was an unexpected, but very welcome, benefit.
I’m VERY excited for the coming race season, when I can try out my new run on the competition!
If you are like most endurance athletes in the northern hemisphere, you’ve put the 2011 season behind you, and are anxiously looking toward 2012 hoping to make it even better. Among the things you might be pondering is whether to add a new piece of training equipment or whether to start a new training program. Before you decide which new tools or tricks you want to add to your training mix, I highly recommend you take a step back for a moment, and begin your path to a great 2012 season by first taking a focused look at the quality, rather than just the quantity, of your movement. More miles or reps at the beginning stages of training, if some aspect of your movement is inefficient, causes pain, or is putting you at higher risk of injury, is short sighted and will surely end up slowing your ultimate progress. In short, avoid adding progressive fitness elements to your training (positives) before you resolve lingering sources of pain, inefficiency, or dysfunction (negatives).
More specifically, the “negatives” might be:
1. A restriction in movement or lack of appropriate mobility where it is needed.
2. A lack of stability or muscle balance.
3. A nagging injury that you’ve been nursing for a while resulting in other tissues being forced to compensate or absorb more stress than they were designed to handle.
Even a subtle lack of balanced strength and flexibility around the hips/pelvis, or in other joints in the body, will prevent you from achieving the desired results from challenging workouts. In a way, it would be akin to a farmer trying to plant seeds on gravel. They (the workouts) simply won’t be landing on fertile soil and will have little chance of producing a bountiful harvest. And a bountiful harvest–results– is what matters!
The bottom line: You have to move well before you throw reps, high heart rate, and miles at your movement pattern.
My suggestion to you: choose to reverse the “negatives” now!
Here are some TIPS to help you do just that:
o Know this: when you massage or use a foam roller on “healthy” muscle tissue, it shouldn’t be painful. If doing foam roller work is painful, the tissue has lingering micro-trauma and damage. Be smart and take care of the soft tissue work now to ensure normal muscle elasticity when you resume more progressive training.
o Get screened and/or evaluated by a knowledgeable professional who knows (and can show you) the difference between core “strength” and core “stability.” There is a difference! The best “screen” I know of is the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), which is an excellent way to learn what your weak links, asymmetries, and overall risk of injury is. Find a certified provider near you.
o If appropriate levels of flexibility are an issue it is going to interfere with training at some point. Remember, you might be “inflexible” in certain places because your body is creating stiffness due to a weak synergistic muscle somewhere else. Things aren’t always as they seem. Learn about Active Isolated Stretching and focus your flexibility work on muscles that are tight due to your lifestyle (sitting at a desk or behind the steering wheel for example).
o Poor mobility, stability, or balance will interfere with training. Get them cleared at the beginning of your training, so that they won’t limit your progress or create greater risk of injury moving forward.
o You can visit me and my partner, Dr. Kurt Strecker, at our Gait Analysis Lab and get a full assessment of all of the above items, starting with a detailed exam, FMS, and 3D-video analysis. We also do online assessments also for those of you who cannot make it to the lab.
o Besides being assessed by a professional, start videotaping every exercise you are doing in your routine. Learn and study what good movement is and improve your awareness of how you are moving.
All of the above applies whether you are a novice or elite athlete. We know that the central nervous system (CNS) of talented high-level athletes is much better at compensating than the average person’s CNS. However, an elite or a top age group athlete could still have a restriction in movement, or a lack of basic core stability or compensation that is holding them back. Here’s a prime example.
Lis Kenyon, who I coach, WON her age-group in Kona this year (and set a course record doing the same in 2010). She recently visited our Gait Lab. We discovered a number of issues related to stability, muscle balance, and strength. Despite the fact that she handily beat the best in the world in her age-group, she still has room for improvement and can be even healthier–and faster. As her coach, I feel that is exciting and is something that we can all learn from.
To summarize, this is a little bit like the story of The Tortoise and the Hare. You could start out now with workouts designed to achieve fast fitness benefits. OR you can decide to learn how to move better now, and increase the chances of finishing stronger and better later in the season. If you get it right in the beginning of the training process and progress steadily forward, you will most certainly increase your chances of “winning” in the end, beating the hares every time. Improving how you move NOW will pay big dividends in the long run, in the form of improved vitality, youthfulness, and much faster race results!