Thursday, May 3, 2012

Don't go against millions of years of evolution

Recently a friend on facebook shared a link to this article series: 

It's hosted by my good friends Dallas and Melissa of Whole 9, but it features guest spots from some great coaches. There's a short bio for many of them, but suffice it to say that several (Dan John, Eric Cressey, Greg Everett, Michael Rutherford) have either decades of experience or several published works or both. There's some heavy hitters in there!

I shared this piece on the Full Circle facebook page and it received not a single comment. Not one. To be honest, this troubled me quite a bit. Not only are there several awesome contributors, but it's not every day that you can glean this much info (give me your top five, GO!) in this short a period of time (I said five, not six!), from such a collection of diverse but unquestionably highly qualified experts. 

So here I am, thinking this article is totally profound, what if I had read this in 2000? It's helping me be self-reflective about our programming for group training, and how what I want for my clients aligns with or conflicts with the demands of a group setting or teaching to the Crossfit. I am doing some soul searching, but what about my clients? What about our 300+ followers on Facebook? In particular, what about those 30-45 year old, overweight and de-conditioned members who have recently (6 days to 6 months ago) decided to make a change for the better and to improve their lives. What are they thinking about this incredible nugget of gold.


They are not considering it at all, and if so they are not saying it. Perhaps this is why they pay me. I know for a fact in many ways it is. But I have to call all my members out and say this unequivocally: We aim to empower our members. As such, sitting on your ass and letting others do all the thinking for you, or worse yet, assuming no thinking at all is necessary is NOT ACCEPTABLE. If you aren't asking how to make things better, it is no mystery to me why things are not getting better. 

As a coach, there is in fact very little I can actually do for you, especially if you are part of a group. You must take account for yourself, and you must start asking yourself some tough questions if you want to actualize all the potential that I SEE IN YOU EVERY DAY. The article above is a great start. Let's take a closer look, shall we?


There are 6 experts in each article, all are allowed 5 movements to suggest as indispensable. You can look at it two ways; how many times does a movement appear absolutely, or relative to how often it could come up. Either divide by 60 to see relative to the total, or divide by 12 to see how many experts couldn't exclude it. 

Lets examine some of the top contenders:

The deadlift
Appears six times (if you count Dan John's swing/dl hinge category). Take away, hip hinging is fundamental to most powerful extension based movements, and the harder, faster and longer you can do it the better at life you are.

Any Squat
Appears seven times. There are some back, some front and some overheads (almost equally distributed). The experts are undecided as to which squat is the best if you can only choose one, but most agree you should choose one and do it.

Appears 5 times
Take the deadlift and make it explosive. Accomplish a functional task. 

Press (includes loaded overhead presses and horizontal presses of any kind)
4 times
You have to push stuff. Simple.

Pull Ups
5 times
Can't climb and you can push if you don't have the pulls. Always important for balance and health, in some sports equal to or greater than the push.

Rows/Horizontal Pulls
4 times
See above.

Sprinting or Sled drag, carry or push (farmer's walk, prowler etc)
Appearing six times (excluding walking, crawling).
You gotta work son. And you gotta travel distance fast. This to me is the real eye opener for some. In a evolutionary sense, someone whose sprint capacity declines or doesn't exist is prey. EASY PREY.

Turkish Get Up
4 times
Sometimes I think of the TGU as a novelty, but whatever it's true functionality really is, the skills and strengths learned in it's practice are real. 

These seven movements comprise 41 out of a possible 60 selections. One interpretation of this data is that 12 eminent experts agree that 68.3% of your training time should be spend on these 7 domains. Special mention goes out to Airdyne, Lunges and jumping. If you expand your search to those, you rise to over 80%. 

One extrapolation I will offer is that if you combine crawling, sprinting, drags/pushes/carries and the Airdyne, what you have is a high intensity, full body locomotion domain that is most likely presumed to be high intensity interval training oriented. This broader category encompasses by far the largest single group at approximately 12 results, ie NO COACH could live without something from this domain. It might appear like 20% of training time, but what it really is is 100% of respondents had to include it, and many included more than one, such as both sprinting and swimming.

I am getting at two things. The first is that a good student of physical culture should not be satisfied to leave any stone unturned. If you have the opportunity to compare your performance in these domains to normative data (and if you come to Full Circle you have that opportunity every day) and find it to be substantially below average, you make an earnest effort to address this as quickly as possible. If you can't squat, sprint, press overhead or do a pull up, YOU ARE BROKEN AND YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. These primal movement patterns listed above are what got us from family bands in Africa to mining asteroids, and if you can't perform them you are the part of the herd that is soon to be 'thinned'. Whether it be Zombie outbreak, alien invasion or Russians coming up through Mexico you must have these basic skills to not only survive but thrive. 

I am saying this because I love you. "I can't run", "My doctor told me not to go overhead", "Squats are bad for my knees", "Pull ups are hard" are all inexcusable answers. So you can't do a pull up now? NOT A BIG DEAL. We'll work on it. Not willing to work on it? GTFO. That goes for every domain on this list. Not running is not accepted. Running poorly, and being willing to work on it is.

First rule of Zombieland: Cardio.


Juice said...

Great article! I did read the original article that you posted a while back and thought a lot about it.

cinnamynvapor said...

i didnt see the 1st article. but this one was really interesting. I actually just got a pullup/pushup/dip bar multigym for my birthday :) i can only do 2 pullups but now I can work on that more. woot!

Jason Struck, CSCS RKC said...

ass kisser

Crandall said...

Your article makes no sense.

Steven Hawking cannot do any of these movements, and yes, his body is "broken", but he has not died, and has contributed more to the world than any of us.

Nobody needs to perform these movements due to them being necessary for life or to escape predators.

Get real.

Crandall said...

Hah! This words make no sense Jason!

Many people do not need to do this movement to succeed in life.

Steven Hawking can do them at all, and he has not died, and has contributed more to the world than any of us.

As well, times have changed. We are not chased as prey anymore. Russians are not invading U.S. Zombies are not real Jason!!!

Get real and quit publishing bs son!