Posts Tagged ‘sport’

Great post by my good friend Adam Brush

Just so we’re on the same page, baseball is a rotational sport. So while recently looking over a collegiate baseball summer training program I couldn’t help but notice Olympic lifts were included. Really?
Olympic lifting is a sport in and of itself that includes lifts such as the Snatch and the Clean & Jerk. These lifts require a tremendous amount of technique and demand a high level of skill specific to the sport of Olympic lifting.
So why are these movements/exercises finding their way into the world of baseball training? I know, I know Olympic lifts can create powerful hips; and they do…in the sagittal plane of motion – which is not the motion dominated in baseball. Baseball is dominated thru the transverse/rotational plane. I’ll say it again – from hitting, throwing and running – baseball is a rotational sport requiring rotational power training.
Structurally, Olympic lifts can create abnormal and high levels of joint stress – particularly thru the shoulders and wrists- (let’s not forget about the shear force that can be placed on the knees). I think we would all agree that the knees, shoulders and wrists are rather important to a ball player, and we wouldn’t want to risk an off-season injury.
I’m not against Olympic lifts – I MIGHT incorporate them(MAYBE) if an athlete has a good base and understanding of Olympic lifting. However, I haven’t seen too many baseball players having exposure, or even master these lifts. Therefore I ask myself how important is it to teach and incorporate a potentially “risky” movement in order to develop sagittal plane hip power when baseball is dominated by rotational hip power. In other words what’s the reward:risk ratio?
Now, Im not saying we shouldnt do any sagittal plane power training. I just believe that in order to save the shoulders, wrists and knees a safer alternative, such as box jumps, can be performedBUT IN CONJUNCTION with rotational power training. Furthermore, you may find that you are working with limited time so wouldnt you rather spend your time training for baseball than teaching exercises specific to the sport of Olympic lifting.
Go hard in the yard.

Life is a sport,

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and dont forget to rotate!)



By Sean Barker
Author of The Dad Fitness System

Old habits are hard to break. But if you keep doing these 5 old school exercises you will be breaking more than old habits.

1. Leg Extensions

Unfortunately this exercise seems to be the extent of most guys leg training. Probably because sitting down and pumping out reps of quad extensions are a lot easier than squatting down with hundreds of pounds on your back.

Despite the “burn” you may feel from your upper thighs when performing this exercise, it is not a very efficient leg exercise as it only isolates the muscles above the knee. The only time this exercise has much benefit is in a rehab setting where these muscles directly surrounding the knee need to be developed for stability and strength. Otherwise opt for any variation of the free-range squat.

2. Behind the Neck Pulldowns

This is another exercise that I still see people doing in the gym. I cringe every time I see someone take a wide grip on the angled ends of the pulldown bar and starting pulling it down behind their neck. The angled ends of the bar are an outdated design and are not where you should be gripping the bar.

This puts your shoulders and rotator cuffs in a very vulnerable position. Putting most of the stress on the shoulders and limiting range of motion away from the back muscles this exercise should be crossed off your list. Work on being able to do bodyweight chin-ups instead or at least pulldowns to the front.

3. Behind the Neck Shoulder Press

Similar to the behind the neck pulldown, the behind the neck barbell shoulder press places your shoulder in a delicate position. It is basically the same movement but by adding additional weight to the bar and pushing up in the vertical plan you are putting your rotator cuffs at an even greater risk of injury.

With the extra weight you can pile on the bar with this exercise, trying to even unrack the bar will soon send your shoulders screaming in pain. Switch to the safer option; the front barbell shoulder press.

4. Concentration Curls

Probably the most popular bicep exercise for beginners wanting to “get the pump” and get Arnold-like biceps. It’s too bad a lot of experienced trainers still waste their time on this exercise. No matter how many reps of concentration curls you do, you won’t get that bicep peak like the Terminator, as muscle SHAPE is genetically determined.

Muscle SIZE on the other hand can be increased through basic movements that allow a heavy weight while use many muscles instead of isolating one smaller muscle. Standing barbell or dumbbells curls are a better choice for bicep development, but better again are close grip chin-ups, which put a lot of stress on the upper arms while working many other muscles.

5. Crunches

If would be nice if all you had to do to get that ripped six pack would be to lie on the floor and pump out hundreds of reps of back breaking crunches. Despite what the infomercials want you to believe, this is NOT true! You wouldn’t build your biceps by doing 100 reps with no weight, so why would you think you would develop your abdominals by doing 100 crunches or more? Your abdominals primary purpose is to actually stabilize your spine and to keep your torso from twisting in half under times of physical stress, not lift your neck off the floor.

Overall, the best exercises for your abs are exercises that allow your body to use your core the way it was meant to be used: for stability and support. Bodyweight planks, and compound exercises like squats and overhead presses will work your abs better than any crunch will ever do. Combined with a clean diet you might just see those abs looking back at you in the mirror.

OK quiz time. Do you see a trend with these 5 exercises?

They all involve sitting down, (which we are all experts at already) and they work only a small section of muscle, allowing you to pump out endless reps without much effort.

For you busy guys who want to get the most out of your workouts, stop wasting your valuable time on these old school exercises that break your body down instead of building it up.

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and lift smart!)




1: what provides amusement or enjoyment ; specifically : playful often boisterous action or speech

4: violent or excited activity or argument

Synonyms = SPORT, GAME, PLAY mean action or speech that provides amusement or arouses laughter.

FUN or recreation is the expenditure of time in a manner designed for therapeutic refreshment of one’s body or mind

While leisure is more likely a food for entertainment or rest, FUN or recreation is active for the participant but in a refreshing and diverting manner.

Its not hard to see FUN had a direct correlation to activity, sports, and recreation. Why then, have we removed FUN from our vocabulary when we start thinking exercise (training), and nutrition? They are inherently proactive endeavors, yet we tend to lean towards making them SUCK.

If you had the joy of witnessing my talk at the Annual Staley Training Summit you’d have noticed that while the talk was on strongman training the largest underlying message was have “FUN,” and more so, allowing yourself to have fun.

If you take just a minute to actually look its impossible not to notice the complete lack of fun in peoples exercise (training) and nutrition programs. Somewhere along the way the word “FUN” got discarded from the exercise (training) and nutrition equation.

Somewhere it became common place that exercise (training) and nutrition had to be focused around a negative connotation as opposed to a positive one, like “FUN.” They became focused on, and simply revolved around pain, deprivation, and a concentration on putting oneself through hell to reach ones goals.

Training and nutrition took a swing and became focused on repetitively taking part in an activity that you HATE, that sucks, that you dread the thought of.

Repeatedly visiting these loathed actions day after day in the hope that you just might reach a point that said activity is no longer god awful. You may reach a point where the activity or nutrition protocol is not “fun” per say, but that its slightly tolerable, its doesn’t quite suck so bad anymore.

Where the hell did this line of thinking come from? How did we get to this state? Where did we lose the sight of the fact, and ability to allow ourselves to have fun and enjoy our training and eating habits, To know that they can be progressive and lead to outstanding goals and be enjoyable.

That we can make awesome progress, arguably much better then when you hate what your doing, when what your doing is actually something you look forward to. That you can and will make progress when your not taking part in something you “should” do that you hate, but when your taking part in something you enjoy, possibly excel at, or at least find some sort of personal satisfaction and “fun“ in.

Where did we lose sight to the fact that there are endless forms of activity and eating habits that can be progressive, healthful, and enjoyed?

Why is fun largely void from training and nutrition, and in many cases not allowed? Why do people feel the need to deprive, torture, and despise what they are doing to reach their physique, athletic and health goals? Why do I have to preach and prod people into accepting the fact they can have fun, and train? Why do I have to tell people they can, that they can have fun, and do anything they have the desire if they just ALLOW it?

Simply, where did the “fun” go? Why is it gone from training and exercise, and instead largely, and falsely relegated to sedentary forms of entertainment, when in reality fun fit’s the bill for exercise (training) and nutrition.

Get the picture people? Let start having some FUN. Fun is active. Training is FUN if you give yourself the ability. Now allow yourself to enjoy what you do. The start and end are nothing but points at either end of along trail, you better learn to enjoy the ride.

About The Author

Phil, while attaining both his Bachelors and Masters degrees in studio art found another passion, that of training and nutrition. A constant student, his real-world under-the-barbell and behind-the-fork approach has led to many an opportunity, experience, and change in his life as well as those he has worked.


Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and have some FUN!)




By my friend, mentor and all around good guy David Tiberio PhD, PT, OCS

The internal power sources that drive the body are the hips and trunk: the core of the body. There are many ways to activate that power source, but probably the most important for upright function in our gravitational environment is eversion of the calcaneus.

Calcaneal eversion occurs in the frontal plane. It is one component of the tri-plane motion of pronation of the subtalar joint (STJ). Simultaneous with the eversion, a substantial amount of abduction occurs in the transverse plane at the STJ. The motion in the frontal and transverse planes at the STJ complements the ankle joint motion, which occurs primarily in the sagittal plane, to allow the rearfoot to move in all three planes. 
The calcaneal eversion results from the striking the lateral aspect of the heel when we walk. The ground reaction force (GRF) forces the calcaneus to evert. Since the motion is produced by gravity and the GRF (motion given for free), the role of the muscles is to decelerate the motion. In this process, the muscles are lengthened and activated proprioceptively. The strain created in the muscles during the deceleration is transformed into a concentric motion-producing force.

The calcaneal eversion that creates STJ pronation produces two important reactions in the body: one distal and one proximal. When the subtalar joint is pronated, the bones of the mid-tarsal joint (MTJ) are more mobile. During weightbearing this allows the foot to adapt to uneven surfaces and, more importantly, as the arch lowers certain muscles are lengthened (loaded) in order to become more powerful (e.g. peroneus longus). When the calcaneus begins to invert these processes are reversed in order to create a more stable foot at the time the muscles are “exploding.” 
The proximal effects of calcaneal eversion are more significant. Because of the angle of the STJ axis, the frontal plane motion of the calcaneus creates transverse plane motion of the lower leg. The STJ is called a “torque converter” because it converts the frontal plane motion of the foot into transverse plane motion of the leg (and vice versa). This transverse plane motion of the lower leg often transfers to the femur, pelvis, and lumbar vertebrae. Because the STJ is tri-planar and all joints move in three planes, the calcaneal eversion during weightbearing produces tri-planar reactions in the knee, hip, and spinal joints.
During walking, the knee will flex, abduct (valgus), and internally rotate. The hip responding to the calcaneal eversion and ankle motion will flex, adduct, and internally rotate. Since the pelvis is also driven by gravity and GRF, motion will be created in the lumbar spine. Remember that all these motions are “given for free” and muscles must first decelerate these motions prior to creating the opposite motions. It is these motions that turn on the hip and core muscles (both anterior and posterior), all initiated by the calcaneal eversion “switch.”


Frequently clinicians and trainers evaluate calcaneal eversion to see if the STJ pronation is excessive. A better approach is to apply the “Goldilock’s Assessment” – too much, too little, or about right. Although it is important to be cognizant of the role excessive pronation of the STJ plays in raising tissue stress to a symptomatic level, it is equally important to recognize how the lack of calcaneal eversion can inhibit the normal motion and muscle activation of the entire body. If excessive eversion of the calcaneus is too much of a good thing, then limited eversion is not enough of a good thing. Insufficent calcaneal eversion will inhibit the proximal bone movements. This will minimize the loading of the hip and core muscles. The knee will often exhibit a “varus thrust” and will not be an efficient shock absorber. The ankle will be susceptible to inversion ankle sprains. 
All functional assessments should include one or more tests to determine if the client has sufficient eversion available and whether they are using this motion during function. Causes of insufficient calcaneal eversion can be structural or functional. Structural limitations are determined by the amount of eversion when non-weightbearing. Many structural limitations are acquired. Any period of immobilization or protected weightbearing are likely to cause a limitation of calcaneal eversion. This motion must be restored to have a healthy and efficient body. 
Functional limitations are present when the joint motion is available, but other structures inhibit the use of that motion. A structural valgus position of the forefoot or a stiff MTJ will block the calcaneal eversion. Limited internal rotation of the hip often dictates to the STJ that calcaneal eversion should not occur. These functional limitations can produce structural changes if they persist over time. 

When our clients are standing in a weightbearing position (rather than walking or running) they may demonstrate a lot of calcaneal eversion, but they may not have any additional eversion to load the muscles. For example, a client who wants to be a quicker jumper may stand with the calcaneus everted. This excessive eversion may be caused by a structural varus of the rearfoot or forefoot. If the STJ is at end-range there is no more calcaneal eversion in order to turn on the power sources in the body. The excessively everted calcaneus has insufficient eversion to “load and explode.”

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



By Alwyn Cosgrove

As a trainer, I’ve witnessed some amazing things in the gym, most of which involved 300-pound powerlifters moving weight equal to that of a small SUV. (There was also the adult-film star I trained who had an orgasm every time she did hanging leg raises, but that’s another story.)


The most impressive feat I’ve ever seen, though, came courtesy of a 160-pound guy named Steve Cotter. Steve’s a martial artist, and one day he did a dozen single-leg squats while holding an 88-pound kettlebell in each hand. If that doesn’t sound particularly jaw-dropping, try doing one — without any weights.


And there lies an important point: Despite the plethora of gym equipment available, some of the greatest exercises remain the ones you can do with just your body weight — for instance, the single-arm pullup and the handstand pushup. Or the lower-body version, the best leg workout to build leg strength and improve athletic performance: the full-range, rock-bottom, single-leg squat.


So, while you may not be the strongest guy in the gym, you can still turn heads by banging out a set of single-leg squats. And the attention is just a side benefit. Master this one leg workout and you’ll see gains in strength, speed, and balance. You’ll squat more weight, jump higher, and discover athletic ability you never had before. The best part: You can do it all without setting foot in a gym.


Test your best

To determine your leg workout training plan, do as many single-leg squats as you can. If you aren’t able to perform at least two repetitions flawlessly, note the spot during your descent at which you can’t control your speed of movement. This is your “breaking point” — and you’ll need to know it to complete the routine. Once you’ve finished the test, proceed to the leg workout here that most closely matches your maximum effort. 


Stand on a bench or box that’s about knee height. Hold your arms in front of you and flex your right ankle so your toes are higher than your heel. Keeping your torso as upright as possible, bend your left knee and slowly lower your body until your right heel lightly touches the floor. Pause for 1 second, then push yourself up. That’s one repetition.




THE PROBLEM: Individually, your legs aren’t strong enough to support your body weight through the entire range of motion.

THE FIX: A two-pronged attack using “negatives” and “partials,” both of which help you challenge your weak spots and lower your breaking point. Do this workout once every 4 days until you can perform at least two single-leg squats with perfect form.


Step 1


Stand on your left leg, facing away from a bench. Holding your arms and your right leg in the air in front of you, slowly lower your body until your butt is slightly higher than your breaking point. (Ideally, this should take 5 to 7 seconds.) Sit, then stand up using both legs. That’s one repetition. Do six reps with your left leg, then six more  with your right. Complete a set. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes and move on to step 2.



Stand on a bench holding a pair of 5-pound dumbbells. As you perform a single-leg squat, simultaneously lift the dumbbells in front of you to shoulder height. (This helps counterbalance your body, making the movement easier.) Again, lower your body until you’re just above your breaking point, then pause for 2 seconds before pushing yourself back up. Do 10 repetitions with each leg, pausing for 10 seconds instead of 2 on the last rep with each.



THE PROBLEM: Because you can’t adjust the weight you’re using, as you can with free weights, your muscles give out quickly — and that limits the total number of repetitions you can perform, a key factor in increasing strength.

THE FIX: A technique called escalating density training, or EDT. Popularized by Charles Staley, author of Muscle Logic, this method helps you slow the onset of fatigue, so you can complete more total repetitions than usual. Instead of doing as many reps as you can in each set, you’ll do more sets of fewer repetitions. In addition, you’ll further increase the challenge to your legs by adding two other single-leg exercises: the Bulgarian split squat and the high stepup.


Step 1

Determine your starting point

Take the number of single-leg squats you can complete with perfect form and divide it by two. That’s how many repetitions you’ll do each set. (If your best effort is three, round down to one.) Perform the 4-week EDT routine below once every 4 days, doing the number of sets indicated and resting after each for the prescribed amount of time.


Step 2 


Stand with a bench about 2 feet behind you and place the instep of your right foot on the bench. Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Your left lower leg should remain perpendicular to the floor. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as you can. Do 12 to 15 repetitions, then repeat, this time with your left foot resting on the bench and your right foot in front. After you’ve worked both legs, immediately (without resting) complete step 3.


Step 3 


Stand facing a bench or step that’s about knee height. Lift your left foot and place it firmly on the bench, push down with your left heel, and push your body upward until your left leg is straight and your right foot hangs off the bench. Lower yourself back down. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 15, then do the same number of reps with your right leg.



THE PROBLEM: You have poor endurance.

THE FIX: Training your muscles to resist fatigue. Perform the following routine once every 4 days for 5 weeks.


Step 1

Do as many single-leg squats as you can, then rest for 60 seconds


Step 2

Repeat until you’ve completed twice the number of reps you achieved in your first set.

So, if you do seven reps in your first set, you’ll do as many sets as needed to complete 14 reps. For each subsequent workout, this will be your repetition goal.


Step 3

Each workout, try to reach your repetition goal in fewer sets. For instance, if you need five sets in your first workout, aim for your goal in four sets in your next session. After 5 weeks, repeat the entire process. But in order to keep improving, do the exercise while holding dumbbells at your sides.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



Injuries to the knee are seen throughout virtually all sports and all age ranges. Have you ever wondered why the knee is the most common reason for a visit to an orthopedic surgeon? Moreover, have you ever wondered how rehabilitation and training programs could better alleviate the stresses placed on the knee? The answers lie in using Applied Functional Science to understand the chain reaction biomechanics of the two “bookend” joints of the knee – the hip and the ankle.

Although the distal femur and the proximal tibia form the primary knee joint, the other ends of these two longest bones in the body reveal the reactive nature of the knee. The knee is referred to as a reactor because it responds to drivers from above and below. These drivers can be ground reaction force, gravity, momentum, hands, feet, or often times the eyes. During initial foot contact in upright function, the ankle joint, comprised of the distal tibia and talus, create a chain reaction from the ground up that directly influences the knee via tibial and fibular motion. Similarly, the hip joint, comprised of the proximal femur and the illium, influences the knee from the top down via the femur. The three-dimensional motions of these two “bookend” joints play a significant role in determining the magnitude of stress placed on the knee. An appropriate chain reaction from these two bookend joints enables the knee to effectively dissipate significant forces. However, dysfunction at either joint can leave the knee caught in the middle with few places to go and nowhere to hide.


A practical example of the chain reaction relationship between the ankle and the knee can be illustrated using a female beach volleyball player. Based on its attachment sites, the ACL it is placed under stress during combined knee flexion, abduction (i.e. valgus), and internal rotation. In this example, as the volleyball player approaches the net and begins to load her lower extremity to prepare for jumping, she steps in an uneven sand hole which causes her heel to abruptly evert and her talus to plantarflex and adduct. This motion of the talus influences the tibia to internally rotate and abduct. This tibial motion, if not properly decelerated, will create excessive knee internal rotation, abduction, and flexion which can directly lead to a right ACL tear. However, this motion can be properly controlled and reduce the risk of injury by muscles properly decelerating the tibia and femur. The specific tri-plane action of muscles that influence the knee are too numerous to adequately describe in this article and, therefore, will be discussed in an upcoming newsletter.

A second practical example can illustrate a situation when dysfunction at the hip is the underlying cause of patella femoral pain. Recent research has confirmed Gary Gray’s long held belief that patella femoral pain is more a track problem (femur) than a train problem (patella). Dr. Chris Powers, et al, summarized that “patellofemoral joint kinematics during weight-bearing conditions could be characterized as the femur rotating underneath the patella.”1 In another study, Dr. Powers, et al, goes on to assert that “interventions aimed at controlling hip and ankle motions may be warranted and should be considered when treating persons with patellofemoral joint dysfunction.”2


A forty-year-old triathlete with excessive femoral internal rotation during the loading phase of gait presents lateral right knee pain while running. His knee pain can be explained by the inability of the hip external rotators, adductors, and hamstring muscles to decelerate the excessive femoral motion. The track crashing toward midline too rapidly, in effect, causes the train to derail laterally. The symptoms are present at the knee; however, through use of lower extremity chain reaction biomechanics, one can easily understand how the cause is at the hip.

These examples illustrate a few core principles of Applied Functional Science. First, joints in the body move in three planes of motion. Second, function is driven by, among other things, ground reaction force, the environment, and gravity. Third, movement at one joint will create chain reaction responses at other joints throughout the body. Lastly, function is individualized and task-specific.

Applied Functional Science requires us to understand the person, tasks, and goal(s). A thorough understanding of the chain reaction biomechanics of all three joints will assist in implementing rehabilitation and training programs that ensure that, although still caught in the middle, the knee now has two powerful friends by its side. ——-By Brett Bloom

Gray G: Functional Video Digest. Functional Manual Reaction. The Knee. v3.7

Gray G: Functional Video Digest. Patella Femoral. The Train & The Track. v2.5

1. Powers CM, Ward SR, Fredericson M, Guillet M, Shellock FG. Patellofemoral kinematics during weightbearing and non-weightbearing knee extension in persons with patellar subluxation: A preliminary study. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 33:677-685, 2003.

2. Powers CM. The influence of altered lower extremity kinematics on patellofemoral joint dysfunction: A theoretical perspective J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 33:639-646, 2003

Get Strong! Stay Strong!




A few weeks ago, my six-year-old nephew was sleeping over at our house. I was awaken in the middle of the night by him exclaiming, “Uncle Joe, there’s a monster underneath my bed!” I went into his room and said, “Be nice to him and he’ll be your best friend. Give him a pop tart or something.” Okay, maybe I’m not the best uncle, but please read on.

The hip is the like a monster underneath the bed, minus a few dust balls and dirty magazines. If it’s working correctly, it can be your best friend. It can assist far away joints like the shoulder or ankle. Strength Coach Vern Gambetta called it, “The engine that drives the body.” No wonder, it has 17 of the thickest, longest muscles of the body directly attached to it. But do not look for them. They are superficially hidden by that big mattress we call the gluteus maximus. A few years back, researchers Porterfield & DeRosa discovered the monster even has tentacles! Well, sort of – we call it fascia. It functionally links the hips with pretty much the entire body.


This monster is tough all right. It has a deep suction cup of an acetabulum, with a head of the femur as round as Mini-Me’s head, and a thick synovial joint capsule to seal the deal. How does the hip stack up to other monsters, say Godzilla (he just spit fire)? The hip’s secret power is its contribution to three-dimensional loading (force reduction) and unloading (force production). Let’s use the ACL ligament of the knee as an example. Traditional rehab protocols have emphasized the quadriceps and hamstrings. However, physical therapist and biomechanist Daniel Cipriani makes the point that these muscles only become protective as the knee flexion angle approaches 90 degrees. But now look upstairs at the hips gluteus complex. By way of its multidirectional, multiplane orientation on the femur, it is well designed to control the 3D motion of the knee with the most critical being internal rotation, adduction, and flexion.


Let’s follow those tentacles up the kinetic chain to the shoulder. Can they protect the shoulder anterior instability that creates rotator cuff issues? You bet! Now we’ll call on the infamous “front butt,” including the iliopsoas, abdominals, adductors, rectus, etc. Try it yourself: Stand in a left stride stance with your right arm horizontally abducted at shoulder height with the elbow flexed. Feel the tug at the front of hips? This means they’re locked and loaded to explode, and so are the abs by way of chain reaction between the hip and shoulder. Now turn the front butt off by sitting on it. Do the same arm reach. Feel the difference?

We make the monster happy when we feed it. No, not with pop tarts. Hips love ground, gravity, and momentum. They prefer lunges, squats, and step-ups. Adding some arm reaches in with the mix is like whip cream on top. They love variety in the form of direction, plane, speed, and load changes. However, be cautious of feeding the hips with empty calories. Many exercises performed in the prone, side lying, or supine positions are what Gary Gray refers to as “isolated isolation.” They turn off the hip’s phone lines (proprioceptors) to the rest of the body and unhook those fascia links. They should be used sparingly. Dormant daily living does not nourish the hip. Sitting and activities that require prolonged static standing promotes injurious capsular patterns.  Interrupting these patterns with frequent “snacks” helps reconnect those lines.

By Joe Przytula ATC

Get Strong! Stay Strong! (Functionally)


Examining the characteristics of the human body further assists in understanding function.  This allows for better understanding of human movement for improved program design and rehabilitation programs.  For e a more depth explanation and further discussion check out my freind and colleague JC Santana’s book Functional Training; Breaking the Bonds of Traditionalism.

 The proportions of the human body are distinct from one person to another.  Therefore we all have unique movement patterns that are consistent with our strength, weaknesses and utility.

Our bodies are made to fit us.  They are a product of what “function” we have dictated for it.  That is why athletes look like athletes and couch potatoes look as they do.

The next two concepts probably have the most significance to training.

Our bodies have the ability to adapt.  This was first discovered by a Canadian endocronologist (Hans Seyle).  He was looking at the adrenal response of rats and stress.  He developed the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)  We have the ability to adapt both neurologically and morphologically.  Neurologic adaptations are what allow us to gain strength minute to minute.  Its due to synchronization, rate coding and proprioception.  Whereas morphologic changes are actual increases in the actual size of the muscle (hypertrophy).  This can take 6-12 weeks.

Lastly, proprioception is the communication system for reaction and interpretation of input from the body and its surroundings.   The body/brain uses all the proprioceptive info to make a decision on how and when to perform a specific movement or task.  Remember that muscles are dumb, they rely on proprioceptive and mechanorecptor info.  Proprioceptors are also a safety mechanism to inhibit harmful forces.  I think of proprioception as the foundation to human movement.  The muscles are slaves to the brain.  Power is nothing without control.  Most people are only concerned with strength without a thought to training balance.  I like to use the analogy that i would not put them in a formula 1 race car without brakes or a steering wheel.  Brute strength in function and sport is not as important as rate of force development.  Can you utilize the strength you have at have right time in the right amount to successfully complete the task or skill?  If you cant, your 300 pound bench press or 500 lb squat is meaningless (in function/sport).

So, based on the characteristics of the human body it becomes more clear the need to train the body functionally using more life/sport specific types of exercises.  Train the body for the task it is intended for using movements and positions that closely resemble the task to react /respond to gravity, ground reaction forces and momentum.

PS…unless your goal is body building.  In that case the body building approach is still the best way.

The question to ask yourself is are you training for “show” or “go”??

Get Strong! Stay Strong!  (But do it functionally!)


When you think of human movement it can be broken down into 4 basic categories.  Locomotion, Level Changes, Push/Pull and Rotation. These represent the 4 pillars of human movement as described by JC Santana in his book Functional Training; Breaking the Bonds of Traditionalism.  When designing rehab or fitness programs that are functionally based it is important to make sure all 4 pillars are incorporated.

LOCOMOTION:  This is the foundation for ground based force production.  It is the linear displacement of our bodies center of mass.  It is a triplane event in which all the muscles and joints are moving simultaneously in all three planes.  While at first glance it appears the body (while walking) is moving primarily in the sagittal plane(SP) (forward) close look would reveal that it is the transverse(TP) and frontal plane(FP) movement that drives us in the sagittal plane.  The TP and FP movement become more apparent when running.  This also requires the ability to efficiently load into the ground (deceleration) followed by the unloading or propulsive phase (acceleration).

LEVEL CHANGES:  This represents non locomotor tasks such as getting up off floor, picking up the baby or taking someone to the ground.

PUSHIN/PULLING: We use various push and pull movements for many everyday activities.  Opening and closing doors, pushing the stroller, taking a hanger off the rack and punching.  Pushing and pulling usually done unilaterally in a reciprocal manner is cross wired neurologically.  As one punch is thrown the opp. arm is retracted to eccentrically load in order to prepare for the next punch.  The same is true for arm swing in walking.

ROTATION:  Responsible for changes in direction and rotational torque production.  Dancing, throwing, and  running are examples of activity with a significant amount of rotation.  The transverse plane is probably the most important and the only plane not loaded by gravity.  The example I like to use to demonstrate the point is that a bicycle only moves forward because the wheels are rotating.  Approx. 90% of all the muscles are oriented in the diagonal to enhance rotational deceleration and acceleration.

Obviuosly many tasks consist of combinations if not all the above categories, but each has a unique and important contribution to human movement.  So, whether you are rehabbing or training it is important to include movements from each of the 4 pillars.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!



Concussions can happen to any athlete—male or female—in any sport. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), caused by a blow or jolt to the head that can range from mild to severe and can disrupt the way the brain normally works.  

  • A concussion can occur when an athlete receives a traumatic force to the head or upper body that causes the brain to shake inside of the skull.  The injury is defined as a concussion when it causes a change in mental status such as loss of consciousness, amnesia, disorientation, confusion or mental fogginess.

  • Between 1.4 and 3.6 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur each year, with the majority happening at the high school level, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.  Because many mild concussions go undiagnosed and unreported, it is difficult to estimate the rate of concussion in any sport, but studies estimate that at least 10 to 20 percent of all athletes involved in contact sports have a concussion each season

  • Because no two concussions are exactly alike and symptoms are not always definite, the injury’s severity, effects and recovery are sometimes difficult to determine.  The decision to allow the athlete to return to the game is not always straightforward, although research has shown that until a concussed brain is completely healed, the brain is likely vulnerable to further injury.  Thus, the critical importance of properly managing the injury.

  • Allowing enough healing and recovery time following a concussion is crucial in preventing any further damage. Research shows that the effects of repeated concussion in young athletes are cumulative. Most athletes who experience an initial concussion can recover completely as long as they are not returned to contact sports too soon. Following a concussion, there is a period of change in brain function that varies in severity and length with each individual. During this time, the brain is vulnerable to more severe or permanent injury. If the athlete sustains a second concussion during this time period, the risk of more serious brain injury increases.

  • In recent years, research has shown that even seemingly mild concussions can have serious consequences in young athletes if they are not properly managed. Loss of consciousness is not an indicator of injury severity. Traditional imaging techniques such as MRI and CT may be helpful in severe injury cases, but cannot identify subtle effects believed to occur in mild concussion. 

  • An explosion of scientific research over the past decade has taught doctors more about the proper management of sports-related concussion than was ever known before, and has raised public awareness and significantly changed the way sports concussions are managed.

  • Much of the recently published research includes data proving the usefulness of objective neurocognitive testing, such as ImPACT™, as part of the comprehensive clinical evaluation to determine recovery following concussion.  Recent international sports injury management guidelines have emphasized player symptoms and neuropsychological test results as “cornerstones” of the evaluation and management process.



Article adapted by MD Sports Weblog from original press release.





Contact: Susan Manko

University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences

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