Category Archives: Training for sports

The FMS results I have seen and what they mean

If you’ve read my stuff before, then you know that I am, well, a big geek. I think I probably took fitness geek to a whole new level with my bench press assessment article, talking about the work value of a bench press based on arm span. I think this article will further raise the bar on geek in the fitness industry.

This article is about what typical problem areas I see based on the Functional Movement Screen (FMS for those who like to keep things short) assessments that I perform. Not familiar with the FMS? Check out, or read on for a brief overview. Then follow the article to see an overview of the results I’ve seen in terms of what functional movements tend to cause the most problems, and how the results are different based on gender and whether someone is an athlete.

Lastly, I’ll share my take on what this should mean for your training (or programming for trainers) if you do not have access to the FMS or other assessment options to help guide you.
Continue reading The FMS results I have seen and what they mean

The bench press test

Bench press is a great exercise, but for anyone with a shoulder issue, it may not be ideal. How do you know if you should bench? Well for starters, if it hurts to bench, you probably shouldn’t bench. What if it doesn’t hurt during the bench, but it hurts later, you ask? Same answer. I suspect you knew that but were hoping for a different answer. Sorry.

If the bench press is painful for you, seeing a manual therapist (athletic therapist, chiro, massage therapist, osteopath, physio…) is a good idea to get you to pain-free state. But once you reach that point, then what?

Ideally you would switch to other exercises, at least for a while. When someone recovering from a shoulder injury (or has a long-standing shoulder issue) starts training with us, we often start them with a cable press, as it seems to be the most shoulder-friendly of the pressing exercises.

After that we like to work on proper bodyweight pushups (Click here for an article all about pushups), followed by Bottom Up Kettle bell (KB) bench press, and then we move to “normal” bench pressing.

I love the bottom up kb bench press because it requires a lot of stabilizing to be able to do it, which means my clients literally will not be able to increase the weight if they lack strength or stability in their shoulders. If they can’t do the bottom up KB bench press, they are not ready to bench press. Period.
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How much is your bench press worth?

I have become fascinated by the effect of different body size and shape on performance, both in sport and in the weight room. It is pretty obvious in some sports – the tall person is almost certainly going to do better in a sport like basketball than the short one. Not only is he taller, but she’s got a better reach. Height rules in many sports. But what about the weight room?
Continue reading How much is your bench press worth?

More Exercise Progressions: TRX Half Pendulum

When I first saw a video of someone doing a pendulum with a TRX, I thought it looked
Amazing but also very challenging. Here is a video from showing what it looks like:

Right away I wondered how someone who didn’t’ already have a strong core would do it. For some reason I think this way a lot. Maybe I’m going to my engineering roots here; trying to re-engineer exercises. There was the stability ball roll-out progression, the new approach to pullup progressions, and a look at pushups, including progressions that I did in an article with Bret Contreras (I’ll post once the article gets published). Whatever the reason, I like progressions!

But I digress – back to the story line…I didn’t really think further about the TRX pendulum until yesterday when it hit me: Start with a half-pendulum. Continue reading More Exercise Progressions: TRX Half Pendulum

Use the TRX to Work Your Way up to Pullups

Raise your hand if you’ve seen people do pullups and thought “pft – what a stupid exercise; nobody wants to be able to do that.” Anyone? Bueller? Bueller? (If you don’t know this reference, then it’s time to catch up on your 80s pop culture movies. Or time to say “wow, she’s old”. Either or.).

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My Favourite Training Tools #8 – Agility Ladder

This might seem like a strange item to include in my top 10 list, because it is probably not considered an essential tool by many. So why is it on my list? Because it is fun. And because anyone can do it. And most people should do it. But most people don’t do it.

I had an epiphany recently. My programs might be a little too serious. I’m a big geek. Some of you may not realize that before I became a trainer, I was an engineer. So being a geek is kind of part of the package. And when I put together fitness programs for clients, I look at it as though I’m designing a system. That means attention to every detail. Literally every element of every program has a raison d’etre. That probably doesn’t sound like a bad thing. But what is one of the common threads I hear from reluctant trainees? “It should be fun”. I think all of my programs are fun, of course. I mean come on – half-kneeling chops and lifts! Squats and deadlifts! Fun, fun, fun and fun. Intervals?
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Stop Confusing Your Muscles

“I always always always shock my body with new exercises.”
“I love it when my muscles are sore, because it means I worked hard.”

Stop the Confusion
I hear some version of those two statements often. Usually it’s people excitedly telling me about their new workout routine. When I see people that say this 3 months later, they usually are not working out anymore, and do not look any different than they did 3 months prior.
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Movement Assessment for Skiers

Have you ever wondered if your movement on land was limited? That maybe that was limiting your ability to move well on skis? If yes, try the movements in this video.

If you find that you have trouble with any of these movements, or that they feel differently from one side to the other, you have a limitation.
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To Lunge or To Squat? That is the question.

This is a clip from a presentation I gave at the Ottawa Ski Show called “Training Tips for Injury Risk Reduction & Performance”. This particular clip addresses squats and lunges and a spectrum of exercises in the squat progression. I think the only exercises missing from the progression I presented are the TRX rear-foot elevated split squat and TRX single-leg squat. Once you see the video, I’m sure you’ll know where to put them.
Continue reading To Lunge or To Squat? That is the question.

NY Times article: Do Orthotics Work?

The New York Times Health section often carries interesting and somewhat controversial articles, like this week’s article about orthotics. Orthotics are very common, but are they helping? The tone of the article is that they do not, although the specifics are that they do but they’re not sure why.

Take a read, but remember that often articles of this nature do gloss over some important facts while over-emphasizing less important ones to prove a point:

If you only want to skim, skip ahead to page 2 where they discuss the orthotic study they did with 240 Canadian soldiers (yes, we have more than 240 soldiers).

It would have been great if they had included a third group in the study that did single-leg barefoot strength training to try to improve their foot and ankle strength.