Coaches Corner

The 2 Paths of Fitness | The Coach's Corner

In any endeavor there are 2 paths, the sexy, fast path and the slow, unsexy path.

It's the same in fitness. There's a fork in the road. One path, "the fast one," day to day seems effective, but ends up bringing you back to the same for. The second path is the "slow path," which takes time to get to the finish but we don't end up back where we started.

Take a listen to Coach Eds argument for the slow path and see which one is the best path.

In order for your body to be able to get into the proper position to absorb and adapt to stress, which is still the best justification I’ve heard for using the Functional Movement Screen you need to hit the bare minimum for three qualities:

1 - mobility
2 - motor control
3 - work capacity

Let's take the overhead press for example. If you want to get progressively stronger at the overhead press, you need adequate the three qualities listed above.

Lets go through both examples mentioned earlier (fast vs. slow).


The Fast Path

The first example involves using an extensive warm-up that allows you to perform the overhead press immediately, but only own it short term. In this case, you may be able to improve your shoulder mobility enough by performing a variety of different drills. 

This is where most people fall short. Even if they find the right combination of movements to improve your shoulder mobility enough, they have only truly addressed two of the three qualities  mentioned earlier, mobility and motor control. 

If one lacks authentic shoulder mobility, then they either have not spent much time training overhead recently, or you’ve been doing so with compensation.  Either way, your positional work capacity in the vertical pressing pattern will not exactly be the best.

Just because someone can do a few reps with decent form, doesn’t mean they’ll be able to maintain integrity in the movement, which will make it more likely you’ll get hurt.


The Slow Path

Assuming a person doesn't have any other movement limitations, a strength workout will be pretty complete.  You can do conditioning, ground based work, carry, throw, squat, hinge, push and pull horizontally. All the patterns the body needs to practice to get strong.

The only thing we have to cut out is overhead pushing and pulling.  Now the individual can spend however long it takes, doing a well rounded strength training program and build up your general work capacity.

Pairing this approach with 1 or 2 mobility drills that help improve thoracic spine mobility, we can slowly repattern motor control in a systematic manner, allowing us to build enough positional work capacity to maintain this skill over time as opposed to the short term.  

The slow, steady, tortoise option may not be the sexy approach, but it will help keep you safe, and make your strength gains more sustainable.  


In the End...

You’re not a child and I’m not your dad, so I can’t ground you, take away your overhead pressing, and tell you that you’ll understand when you’re older… So you have to decide.  

Are you willing to do things differently?  Are you willing to try a systematic approach to fitness in order to take your results to the next level?  To be totally honest with you, I don’t really care which option you pick.  As long as you have enough information to make an educated decision and you’re able to reach your goals, I’m happy.  

Hopefully this new spin on coach’s corner helped shed some light on how we approach training at Results Driven.  Comment below to let us know if you had any ah-ha moments or if you need any further guidance.  



Coaches Corner: Violet vs. Gravity

“I took the StrongFirst Bodyweight course because I want to get stronger myself and bring more to my clients, and I feel like I got that.” - Coach Violet

Violet, affectionally referred to as “Bone Crusher,” is a 2 1/2 year RD veteran. Beginning with the 2014 “New Year, New You” Challenge, Violet has made great strides in her health and fitness. She’s gone from not exercising in years, to consistently attending 6am classes and becoming an RD Coach. She’s reduced her blood sugar and cholesterol with regular exercise. Violet has also deadlifted 175 pounds for 5 reps and has one of the best kettlebell swings at RD. All of this at an age where most people feel life is over.

Coach Violet and Master SFG Phil Scarito.

Coach Violet and Master SFG Phil Scarito.

“Phil just makes you feel like you can.”

In the quest to increase her knowledge and bring more to her clients, Violet recently attended a StrongFirst Bodyweight (SFB) course outside of Philadelphia. The “Phil” she’s referring to is Phil Scarito, Master SFG and SFB instructor and mentor to the entire RD staff.

SFB teaches body weight training as opposed to kettlebell or barbell training. At the SFB course, participants learn the one arm push-up, pistol (one leg squat), L-sit pull-up and hang to toes to bar. By creating tension in the body, strength becomes more accessible. Learning these techniques has made push-ups a movement Violet has become proficient in. “I felt like I lost 20 lbs, just by transferring my weight from my hands to my heels. When you start to feel confident, your body doesn’t weigh so much.” Now the one-arm push-up is on her radar. 

Violet’s attention to mindset is also something that makes her valuable to our members:

“Sometimes we can’t do an move because we can’t move it in our head. And so, to transfer those thoughts out of ‘I don't know if I can. I’m afraid,’ to ‘I’m going to try and I will,’ I think that’s an important place to come to.”

She understands this because she’s been there. Joining the “New Year, New You” Challenge almost didn’t happen. Violet was lucky enough to be sitting next to another new member at the time, who encouraged her to participate, became her team mate and ultimately a good friend. Doubt is a normal place for anyone to come from when they first start something new, but it’s important to keep in mind that with patience you can do anything.

“I can’t do a one arm push up yet, but I’m going to practice, and if you want to come along with me, I’d be happy to show you how.”

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Coaches Corner: Life Without Weakness

Dead bugs build a stronger core. A stronger core means a solid foundation. Anything with a solid foundation is harder to knock down. 

I’m into getting stronger because I know what it is like to be weak. I’ve been the shy kid in school with only a handful of friends. I’ve been picked on and been too afraid to stand up for myself. Young me (Rob 1.0) was the kid who didn’t tell the girl he cares about how he feels. Who’s been the broken young man who lost family and let it tear him apart. I’ve spent years accomplishing nothing. Years I’ll never get back. 

Man, it’s good to be past all of that.

I think that’s  what life is all about. Time; not wasting it. It’s the only thing we can’t reproduce. Sure, we can eat healthy and exercise to increase the time we have (hopefully), but at any moment it can still all be taken away from us. 

I train to be strong. I train so my years on this Earth can be greater than I can imagine. I don’t want to look back and remember the things I could have done. I want to see as much of the world as I can and I want to feel free. When I have kids, I want them to understand and appreciate all of this as well.

Have you ever had a serious injury? Surgery? Chronic pain? Have you ever experienced a day, a week, or a month when you could not go for a walk with friends or family or do the things you love to do? It makes life feel like a prison.

Once, I felt twinge in my back in the first half mile of a 10k. Thanks to my foolish pride, I finished the race, but was crippled for a week. No work, no leaving the house. I could barely get to the couch or the bathroom. If you’ve read my previous post, you know that this left me with chronic back pain for years, until I met an FMS professional (thanks again, Ed) who set me on the right path.

This brings me back to dead bugs. They appear simple, and that’s the point. Too many of us are impatient and want to rush to the sexy moves like Deadlifts, Kettlebell Swings, Military Pressing, Bench Pressing, etc. After all, none of your friends want to hear how many dead bugs you can do (they’re soft anyway). So, we skip the steps needed to build a powerful foundation, or build the foundation, and don’t revisit the exercises that helped us get there. We resist, even when our coaches remind us of their impact.

I recently visited my trainer, Master SFG Phil Scarito, in King of Prussia, and he reminded me of this fact. A few rounds of dead bugs and hanging hollows (that’s an exercise for a future post) brought me to the realization that my core was not as strong as I believed it to be. After only two days of adding these two movements into my daily practice, I went from barely able to single arm Military Press a 32kg (roughly 70 pounds) one time, to pressing it 3 times with relative ease. Now, 2 weeks later, I have successfully pressed a 36kg bell (79 pounds) on the road to pressing the 48kg beast (106 pounds).

Foundation is everything.

A quick search on Google and you’ll find the definition of training is 1) “The action of teaching a person or animal a particular skill or type of behavior” and 2) “The action of undertaking a course of exercise and diet in preparation for a sporting event.”

Remember why you train. What skills, or qualities, are you trying to improve? There are certain qualities we all need in order to live a comfortable, healthy and capable life and there are certain qualities that your chosen sports or passions may require. Make sure your programming covers it all. Movement Screening is a great way to ensure your programming isn’t missing anything. 

I still make mistakes (I am human after all), but I’ll never be the same weak person I was again, mentally or physically. 

Remember that every foundation is made up of thousands of small bricks. Celebrate the victory of each one being laid down, and having the strength to make the tough decisions necessary to reach our goals inside and outside of the gym. 

Here’s to a life without weakness. 

Live a life without boundries!

Make fitness a part of your life.

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