Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's about compression of time.

I favor my right hand. Both negatively and positively. I’ve struck a weird balance. My right is of course my dominant hand, but after tearing a tendon in it I basically trained only my left hand for about 6 months. Previously I had harbored an imbalance from left to right as most people do, but now that I have brought up the strength considerably on my left side, but am still weaker there, I realize just how bad it was. Being able to train only my left hand was probably a blessing in disguise.
Now I am working hard to strike a balance. It can be easy to slip up. If I have a packed day of training (6 hours for me) I may do hundreds of swings, snatches, presses, etc. demonstrating movements. If I don’t stay on the ball I could easily do most of them all on my right side. Aside from some limited range of motion, the little finger on my right hand is pretty much healed, so of course I have reverted back to my old ways, but I’m fighting it.
We notice the obvious imbalances such as someone who has no injuries walking with a limp, but others may not present themselves until the client is under a specific load. I was working with a trainer over the weekend who while snatching threw her right hip out a full three inches further than her left. That’s a big deviation, especially considering she was consciously trying not to do it. She told me that she had a tendency to favor her right side. Bingo. No fault of hers, and her snatch form was otherwise fine, she had just fallen into the habit of demonstrating everything on her right side. Ego-wise we will also have a tendency to want to do the strong stuff, and might bang out some 32 kilo presses on our right, but be unable to match the set with our left. Of course that doesn’t stop us from knocking out that set on the right.
I bring this up because I am very interested in how we move, why we move that way, and what short circuits our natural movement patterns. Tight IT Bands, tight hip flexors, desk jobs, injuries never rehabbed, poor diet that saps our energy and causes us to slump forward, etc. The list could go on forever.
When people walk in my door, they have a goal. Even if they are hesitant to present it, it’s there. It’s my job to pry it out of them. Often the goal is weight loss. They read about the kettlebells and bodyweight exercises, see the effective quality, and come in to get going on that New Year’s Resolution!
First you have to learn how to walk. How to sit. How to squat. How to bend.
No one ever walks in that door and says their goal is to live pain free and regain full range of motion in their shoulders. It’s not that they don’t want this; it’s just that they don’t realize how achievable it is barring any serious injuries or health problems. Once they feel the difference they want it.
This is why I’m very skeptical about trainers who promise things like losing 20 pounds by New Year’s on their website. If asked I will say it is a distinct possibility, but first we have to find out if you can walk, and if you can handle being loaded with external weight. Are there trainers out there who will damn the torpedoes and load you up, causing you to lose weight but also tearing your body apart? Sadly, yes.
I have a client who was put in this very situation. The trainer didn’t realize that she shouldn’t really be moving any weight other than her own body weight, loaded her up, and snap! Separated shoulder. If you were to look at my client, you would know there is no reason for her to be doing overhead pressing in the immediate future with anything other than a broomstick and perhaps a light medicine ball.
I have another client who has incredibly restricted range of motion in her shoulders, hips, and pretty much just in general. Her squat when we started was virtually non-existent. By adopting a movement pattern I had seen on a blog video and modifying it slightly we instantly added 3 inches to the depth of her squat. Sometimes I know why this stuff works, and sometimes I don’t. All I know is that she made a leap forward in regard to personal fitness, without an external load. She had lost one of her primal movement patterns, and has now regained at least some of it.
What’s the point of all this? Is it just a blog about how cool I am? Partially. ☺
Mainly it’s just that I am excited about learning. I was speaking to another client about some great opportunities I have coming up to expand my knowledge, and he asked “Do you really need to learn that much more?”
A perfectly reasonable question as it would seem I have a decent command of what I am doing. If you’re a humble person though (or trying to be), you find new questions in every answer. The path of learning is a path with no end. I have an endless number of bookmarked articles and websites, to the point where I mourn the fact that it will take me through the next year to get to all of them, and of course by then they will have expanded into many, many more.
It is also good. After all, what is it that I do? Do I unleash upon you the ‘secrets’ of the fitness industry? No, not really. There are no secrets. In reality I am not showing you anything you couldn’t learn for yourself from books, DVD’s, and youtube. The service I offer is compression of time, and my experience having witnessed many different scenarios and having come up with many different solutions.
Check out these two articles if you're interested in learning more about the ways we move and why.

Back to the future of abdominal training.

From handstands to bench press to jerks.


  1. great post and I agree completely.people don't realize how important those small ranges of motion are until they can't use them:))see ya friday.

  2. Thanks Mark. Looking forward to it.