Stop Making Exercise So Complicated
“Start by doing the necessary, then the possible and suddenly you are doing the impossible” -St. Francis of Assisi
I smell a rant coming on. You are warned. The last time this happened the carnage was great. I am sure there are certain people that are convinced I am nuts as they shake their head and mutter “he just does not get it”
Truth be told I am not concerned. I am not out to personally attack anyone, but I can’t control how others interpret things. I love open discussion and that is the main reason for this blog as I love the interaction. The more we discuss and test things out, the more progress ALL of us make.
Here is my premise.
We are making things WAAAAY too complicated in regards to exercise.
If I move this fast enough, I think I can fly!!
Everything is funnier with a British accent!
Trust me, I am not exempt from this myself. I’ve spent many years convinced that I needed to learn more. Learning more is never a bad idea in and of itself, but ACTION must be applied. I think this is where many college programs go awry. Tons of data, but very little application. I should know a few things about college from being in for over 15 years, teaching classes and running labs too.
I’ve spent time learning about all sorts in the fitness area that I rarely, if ever, use today.
I’ve learned about nerve glides (nerve flossing), motor point work, soft tissue/ hands on work (again, done in proper context), occulomotor work (eye movements), joint mobility, vision work like supression, tracking, peripherial work, esophoria and exophoria, blah blah blah. I did pass on the Body Blade course though.
There may be a few cases where it is needed, but for the most part it is not needed.
I would bin static stretching, isometrics, foam rollers, painful soft tissue work, and treadmills at the bottom of the list of things I would rarely ever do or have performed on athletes. Not entirely worthless in my experience, but very close.
But I Do Those Things and I Get Results!
Can any of the above get a result? Sure! You can do almost anything (especially in regards to pain) to get a change. If you look into pain studies, the variance you find is massive. Even in training studies, the response is across the board most times when you look at the actual data, not just the averages.
Anyone that has done real research will tell you that most data never looks close to perfect.
Example Time: Painful Soft Tissue Work
If you come in to see me and complain about a left shoulder being painful when you raise your arm out to the side. I could then take my cow brander, get it all nice and hot (we need to make sure it is sterile), and brand XHP (self promotion) on your right arm. I can gaurantee that your LEFT arm will not hurt as bad.
Did I do anything to make your left arm? Nope? Did I drammatically alter the pain signal in your brain? Yep!
I think at a base level, painful soft tissue work modifies the signal in the brain. Creating pain somewhere else to decrease pain seems like a really bad idea.
Yes, I understand the proposed mechanism(s) involved in painful soft tissue work and no I don’t do lots of hands on work, but the whole concept just sounds bad. Wait, I have an idea. Let’s get an instrument and use that to do more damage. Brillant!
Graston Tools or Works of the Devil?
I paid someone a ton of money to do ART on my psoas when I ripped it years ago. For those who don’t know where the psoas muscle is, its deep in the inner hip (inguinal) area. To get to it, he had to press through lots of other tissue to pin the psoas as I extended my hip.
Wow, that hurt like all hell. I was sweating like like a cat in a Korean deli.
Did I think that it helped? Yep! Why? The pain was different and he told me this was a “good pain” plus I paid him a crap ton of money for 10 minutes work and everyone else told me ART was the bomb.
Would I do it now? Heck no. I am not paying someone to put me into pain, when I am trying to get OUT of pain.
Back on Track
So lots of stuff can “work” for various reasons.
My proposed solution from Adam T Glass when he was describing his training methods:
“Simply move where I can, pursue what tests best, and continue to train a variety of movements with a variety of tools.”
We will come back to this very soon.
I hear that “we need more tools in the ole toolbox”
“If you have a square peg and try to put it into a round hole, it will not work.”
“Sometimes it is a screw and you need a screwdriver and not a hammer”
The solution must be in here somewhere
Some (my hand is up for doing this in the past for sure) look to create a big a$$ toolbox thinking that it is the solution to their problems.
If you have 56 tools in there, how good are you going to be be with ALL of them?
Even if you do this 40-80 hours a week, I would argue that their are tools you will still not be very good at due to lack of practice.
The solution is to learn more (add tools) and spend even more time practicing. At some point, this is completely unsaleable.
What If There Was a Universal Tool?
Active Range of Motion
It follows that good movement allows good movement.
If you watch bench press Billy really cranking on that last rep as his face turns bright red, blows a vessel in his left eye as his arms shake when he really puts in that huge amount of effort (because effort makes you strong, right?) to make that last rep.
How good will his movement be after that? Correct, piss poor.
So the opposite is true. Nice fluid movement that is correct for YOUR body should allow better movement (as measured by a range of motion test in Grip n Rip DVDs).
Back to Adam’s quote. Test your movement for profound changes
When I was talking to Frankie on the phone the other day, he mentioned that the range of motion test is the leatherman of the fitness industry.
It Is All Connected
Can testing movement result in improvement in other systems of the body?
I’ve made more visual improvements by focusing on good movement (testing well) and then slowly adding in visual components (KB juggling) than any past visual work I have ever done.
Just one simple example for those that thing it is all unrelated. Movement is a highly orchestrated event, BUT that does NOT mean we need to TRAIN that way to see amazing benefits.
My Droid phone is complex, but just hit an icon and it does crazy stuff. The INTERFACE is simple. I just punched an icon.
The exercise INTERFACE is simple–test it, do what tests well within your limits moving towards your goals.
I think most fitness professionals (and myself in the past) are making the whole exercise thing waaaaay too complex. Start simple and only get as complex as needed. Most times, you don’t need to get too complicated
What to do
1) Baseline range of motion test
2) Perform an exercise
3) Re-test range of motion
4) Better? Good, do that one
5) Worse? Skip it for today and test another one
If you keep working exercises that test well with lower amounts of tension, you will see MASSIVE changes.
Thoughts? Let me know!
Mike T Nelson
If you want to hear first hand how this is possible, listen to Frank’s story below for FREE!