Foundational Movement Patterns: Importance to Health and Performance

What are they?   Foundational movement patterns or developmental are patterns of movement developed through childhood in a natural human environment.  These include, but are not limited to: crawling,  walking, running, climbing, throwing, swimming, fighting.

Effects on the body?  The effects on our lives are the obvious abilities that a human being should have physically.  If you are deficient in any one of these, you should revisit it’s development.  In terms of how practicing these affect the systems of the body, these are the foundations of cardiovascular conditioning, athletic conditioning, and strength.

What happens when we neglect these movements?  When we neglect these movements, we end up with pain, cardio-respiratory conditions, metabolic disease, immune disorders, and depression/psychological disorders.

How to integrate into a program?  Foundational movement patterns are the basis of a conditioning program.  They are the ‘foundation’ that the rest of the program is built on.  Every level of conditioning utilizes them.  The intensity and type of movement is the question.  If entering back into any training program, just practicing light walking, crawling, and swimming (if possible) are a great way to re-establish this foundation.  This is the time it may be useful to use a pedometer or step counter.

What not to do.  Do not start an intense program of development such as a bootcamp or heavy circuit based program unless these can be accomplished without pain and with a base level of performance!


The Best Location to Train for Your Conditioning Goals in 2017

Hey folks, happy Tues!

Today’s topic is training location and resource management in your conditioning program.  I know what you’re thinking: “Training location?  Don’t you train at the gym?”  The answer may surprise you.  For my clients, the answer is……. “Some of the time.”  My clients will actually utilize several different locations during a week/month/year depending on their programming and lifestyle needs.

So, if not the gym, where do I train?  Well, the fact is that you can train practically anywhere.  Each location has advantages and disadvantages.  The considerations for each location are: the resources needed (equipment, space, support services) for your conditioning program, the resources needed for the location (time/money/mental energy/etc), what the location gives back to us and simply what we like most.

First, let’s take a look at each resource and what it means for us.

  1. Time/Proximity: if it takes more time to get to a location, change, train, shower, etc than we have to allocate, the location is moot as we will not be training at all for lack of time.
  2. Money: Some locations cost more than others.  Some gyms cost quite a bit and, if more than our monthly budget will not be able to be used.
  3. Needs of a program: If one is participating in a specific type of training (for example: Olympic lifting), then one needs certain equipment.  If a location does not provide this, then we cannot train here.
  4. Discipline and Environment: The more we enjoy a location, the less mental work it will take for us to do our conditioning.
  5. Space:  Our time to condition our bodies is, for most, a time to focus on ourselves.  If we are crowded, our attention will be drawn toward the crowd negating the benefit of internal focus we are trying to cultivate.
  6. Social:  To some, one benefit of a particular space is the interaction with a specific group of people.

Now, let’s take a look at each type of location and analyze the costs and benefits for each.

  1. Commercial Gyms:  These gyms can take time to get in and out of.  For space, especially with the 9-5 crowd, they can get crowded during certain times of day.  The expense can vary greatly.  The higher end luxury facilities can go for up to $200/mo and the lower end facilities $20/mo. For general programming needs, the equipment is usually pretty standard but is new and shiny.  For specific programming needs, you will need to shop around.  These can offer a mix of people for social interaction.  There is a variety of support services that some may like.  There commonly exists a sales culture in most of these that may turn some people off.
  2. Studios:  Great for social interaction.  The team mentality of some of the circuit based gyms and programs is great.  They are usually very specific toward training process, so are not very dynamic with respect to individual programming.  Even ‘personal training’ studios can lack variety for the standards of the equipment and personnel.  They are the most expensive option.  Time is dependent on the proximity to the user and the facility itself.   They can be spacious or not depending on the setup.  For discipline, they take the mental part down a bit as they usually provide an individualized or general program (again, depending on the focus of the facility) to the user.
  3. Neighborhood gyms.  These are usually great for social interaction (as they are in the community), easy on the wallet, have a somewhat of a team aspect, and take little time to get to.  They usually have a perfunctory, general, but usable set of equipment.  I find them less crowded and less sales/minded than large commercial facilities.  The drawback is the basic non-specific equipment for different styles of training.
  4. Home Training.  Can be expensive to set up.  But, after the upfront costs, will have only upkeep costs.  For time/proximity, these have obvious advantages.  Space is great as it is up to you and what you have available.  Most back yards, basements, garages, and extra rooms are adaptable.  Programming is up the the user, their equipment budget, and their needs vs. space available.  You won’t have very much in the way of strength machines for space concerns.  The drawbacks can be lack of social interaction and separation of ‘gym time and space’ from other life aspect such as working from home, kids, and household duties.
  5. Outdoor parks and facilities.  These are great for specific types of training (body weight, athleticism, functional training), fresh air, a connection with the outdoors, free space, and little to no expense.  However, it can be a challenge to create/develop a program and only fits with specific types of programs (no Olympic lifting here).  It can take a bit of discipline, could lack social interaction, and is weather dependent.

So, there you have it, folks.  Those are the considerations when looking at locations for your conditioning needs.  If you do an in-depth analysis in the very first stages of beginning a program of development, then you can avoid the location specific pitfalls and hurdles that will keep you from attaining your conditioning goals this year.

Have a great year and meet your health, function, and performance goals!

Jason Root, CSCS


Laird and Breathing

Hey everyone!

Today’s post is a reference to a fantastic video I came across on YouTube with Laird Hamilton.  For those who don’t know who this guy is, Laird is one of the best surfers in the world (arguably ‘the best’).  He invented tow in surfing to ride waves 80 to 120 feet high!  When it comes to development, no one is better to follow than Laird.

Here he is talking about a breathing program from another intense dude named Wim Hof.  To learn about him, search his name and interview with Joe Rogan after this video.

Before you watch, keep in mind these questions about the training:  What is the importance of breath control? How can different techniques of breathing be used for different purposes?  Is our current paradigm/mindset of training in the community the most healthy one?  How can focused stimuli beat ‘hard’ work?  What is your mindset on development….practical, scientific or otherwise?  What are some different ways to create mental focus (presence) in training?

Ask these about sports psychology:  What is the nature of competitiveness in sport and training (is it the most effective method for growth)?  How can comradery help growth?  Think about the nature of courage along with knowing boundaries.

Lastly, there is a lot that is good ‘food for thought’ philosophiess that lie just a bit outside the scope of the subject matter that we teach.  But, it is great to think about and consider, never the less.

Have fun!

Jason Root, CSCS

Hardiness and Exercise

Hello everyone,

When going through my classes in sport and exercise psychology, there was a topic in which I was extraordinarily interested.  The topic is “hardiness”.  Hardiness is defined as “the ability to endure difficult conditions”.  What is exercise and training if not making us better mentally by applying a difficult physical condition?

However, I’d like to go back through this topic with you and explore the ways in which hardiness can be increased through exercise and sport.

In exercise, we make the body uncomfortable for the knowledge of physical/health gains.  Usually greater gains are made with slight increases in discomfort over time.  But, sometimes, we must push to the limit even if it is just to see how far we can go mentally.  This is why it helps to have some sort of goal in mind so that there is a end to our means.

In sport, hardiness is increased in a variety of ways.  One of the most evident is how we deal with winning and losing.  Being humble in winning and utilizing losses as a means for improvement is a mental dynamic sports offer.  Also, remembering that sport and game is not life but is analogous to the other challenges we may face.

Like exercise we have to train for our sport.  In sports, as opposed to exercise, sometimes the gains we are looking can be more ambiguous.  They may be disguised as setbacks.  This tests our resiliency, emotional intelligence, and our belief in our abilities to find an answer to a problem.

In sport, we deal with injury.  Injury can feel like a huge loss when we have endured difficult training to reach a goal and had a setback like an injury.  A serious injury that threatens our ability to play the sport again is even a bigger challenge.  How we react and recover is one of the biggest mechanisms for building hardiness.


So, work hard! Play hard! Then grab a beer to celebrate your growth this 4th of July weekend!


Jason Root, CSCS


Pelvic Floor/Diaphragm: After Pregnancy, Rehab, Athletics

Hello all!

I had a client the other day look at me a little doubtful when I asked her to jump rope.  I said, “Jane” (we’ll call her “Jane”)….”Jane, what’s up?”

She explained it to me.  Well, we hadn’t jumped rope in a while.  She had a baby about 6 mos prior.   We had trained through her pregnancy.  We had done a bit of core training based on the principles that we had started out with before her pregnancy.  The basics of which are the subject of this article.  She felt less than confident in her ability to avoid urinary leakage as she bounced up and down.

Ahhhh, I said.  We need to get back to the basics.  In order to properly create spinal stability for athletics and rehab, one must first learn to ‘engage the core’.  This means neuromuscularly integrating the deep stabilizers of your pelvis and lumbar spine.  The muscles that we are focusing on today are the ones on the bottom (the muscles of the pelvic floor) and on the top (the diaphragm) of what we refer to as our “core box”.

There is a combination of three different techniques that my clients learn as they first begin training so that they may avoid back and hip pain later on.  They have can have an immediate effect on incontinence for women in Jane’s situation (or otherwise), strength in lifting, speed for running, and power in punching (one of these is a martial arts technique).

1)  Our first exercise is the Kegel.  Many of you ladies have heard of this one.

First, lie on the floor like the skeleton below. Then, think of needing to go to the bathroom pretty bad…both #1 and 2.  Then think of the muscles used to hold this off.  Squeeze those as hard as you can along with your glutes.  Push into a posterior pelvic tilt as the top pic shows.  Go for 5-10 squeezes.  Go into the advanced bridge from the second pic to advance.

2)  Our next exercise I like to call Jagermeisters.  Have you ever had a bit too much Jager and ended up spending a little time worshiping the porcelain king?  How did your core feel the next day?  This mimics that muscular contraction.

Look at the top pic of the two below.  Inhale into this position as much air as possible.  Breath into your belly button.

Look at the bottom pic.  As you are moving from the top pic position to the bottom pic position, exhale forcing every last bit of breath you have out at the top.  When you reach the position in the bottom pic, feel beneath your belly button squeezing.  Do 5-10 of these.

3)  This is our martial arts technique.

Stand.  Put your tongue at the roof of your mouth in back of your teeth.  Force your breath out while squeezing the muscles from the other two exercises.  This should make a sound like tttzzzz!  Squeeze your fists as well.  This will increase the integration of all muscles involved.  Do 10-20.

Now you may start a regular “core” training routine, deadlifts, squats, or fight training.  Training the above way is a great start and will help safety and foundational strength later on.  After a few weeks the squeeze should be automatic in all your exercise.  See even how your running feels more efficient.

For Jane, we did 5 sets of 100 jumps jumping rope with 1 set of this circuit in between each set of jumps.  She was extremely pleased when soon she was very confident in jumping rope….or laughing, sneezing, coughing, etc.

For you nerds, here’s some research, anatomy, and other fun.

Texting Posture!!!

Does your neck mid or lower back pain ache?  THEN STOP THE TEXTING.  Well, at least mitigate the time periods you’re doing it.

A picture is worth a thousand words.  My back and neck hurt from just looking at this guy above!

Many of my clients and colleagues (and friends, family, girlfriends, the mailman, the gardener) know my aversion to texting and my belief that it: decreases ability to communicate in person,  develop natural conflict/resolution skills, read non-verbal communication cues, keep commitments, stay focused and productive, so on and so on.

But, these are all postulations and hypotheses formulated from my own experience and I haven’t seen many scientific studies yet to confirm this.  However, there is one thing we do know.  Constantly being on your phone will screw up your posture and cause you pain!

Look at the picture above.  Many of us look exactly like this for a large part of our day.

So what is happening here?….stretching and shutting down of our posterior chain muscles (for our posture, alignment, and locomotion) and shortening and weakening of our anterior chain muscles.  See the links below for more info.

Minimalist Footwear

Over the last few years, the popularity of barefoot running has taken off.  Minimalist shoes have come into the market, especially for runners.  The theory is that (using the paleo paradigm) our feet were meant to adapt to the surface that we’re running on.  Specifically, this is siting the Kenyans (among many others that copied them) winning of long distance events without shoes.  But, is the minimalist shoe the best way?  Let’s look at the variables.

Kenyans:  The Kenyans are raised in an environment without footwear and without paved surfaces.  As such, their running form will be different.  Their feet will have adapted differently to the softer surface of soil rather than cement.  They also run for life and not just fun.  Replacing a shoe will not make up for this upbringing.  Although, as seen from many other barefoot athletes from urban lifestyles, the running form can be mimicked if the body is free of imbalances….see Sylvester Stallone run in Converse Chuck T’s in Rocky I and II!

Surface:  The paleo paradigm states that we should work as our caveman genetics have programmed our bodies to work.  So, many runners went barefoot (minimalist footwear).  However, unless the runner is on a soft track (like the all weather Olympic tracks) or on soft soil, the surface is different than that of our caveman ancestors.  They did not have concrete or asphalt. We do.  Concrete and asphalt has no give to a striking force as soil does.  This puts awful strain on the feet under a pounding load.  Also, we grew up in shoes because of this.  Our feet are likely not adapted to the minimalist footwear for running or many other sports.

Sport/Activity Considerations:  We also need to consider the activity involved.  All different types of shoes have been invented for all different types of activity.  Weightlifting, for instance, requires a neurological connection between the athlete’s feet and the ground.  Yet there is no repeated accelerated force into the ground.  Walking has a light repeated accelerated force over time.  Running, still more.  Basketball requires degrees of force in different directions.

Individual differences:  Different persons’ feet will have adapted differently over time from varied activity, the individuals body type, genetics, and a host of other factors.  For instance, a person who is heavier will apply a higher repetitive load over time on their feet.  This may lead to flat feet, especially if they have been using support for a lifetime.

So, the scoop on minimalist shoes is: get some advice from a professional and take many things into consideration before joining any fitness fad.

Here’s a research based article from the National Strength and Conditioning Association if you’d like to read some more on the subject:

Have a great rest of your week!

Jason Root, CSCS

Screaming During Exersion

Hey everyone….Happy Thursday!

Ok, so here’s something that has always been an irritant to me at ‘health clubs’.  I was reading the Chive the other day and they had this listed under one of the faux pas (is that how you spell that?) at the gym.  Screaming, yelping, or any noise during exertion.

I am appalled when people complain about this….to a certain point.  First, gyms and places to go work on your body were started by athletes, bodybuilders, powerlifters, martial artists, and olympic lifters.  It is common place for these athletes to make noise upon strong exertion.  Then the sissy version called the ‘health club’ came along when Lalanne’s was bought out by Bally to make Bally Total Fitness.  When I bring up this argument, people say “Then go to a specialty gym…or, there’s no proof that that helps you.”  Specialty gyms may not be in the area and there is proof that it helps.

On the other hand, there is the occasional individual who takes this to the next level and has to let you know he’s done every single rep on his warm up.  This is not acceptable.  The ‘yelp’ must be pragmatic.

But, for all you naysayers who don’t work hard and think it may be a little intimidating to work out around those who do…check out this clip from ‘Sport Science’!….I love this show!  Then, we’ll talk about why it works.

Why does this work?  Number one, it releases air, keeping you from a Valsalva Maneuver.  Number two, it contracts your diaphragm and other muscles giving you a strong midsection base of support (engaging the core).  Number three…energy and emotion are strong factors in physical achievement and development.  The yell is an expression of this.

So, unless he is just unreasonable or lifting the pink rubber weights, cut that guy with the 500lb squat some slack and have some fun with your performance yourself.

Jason Root, CSCS