Friday, November 21, 2008

The Functional Movement Screen

In August of this year I attended the Core Training Systems, Functional Movement Screen seminar in Boston, MA. The city was beautiful and I ended up learning so much in a small amount of time. I now am a Certified Specialist of the Functional Movement Screen and use it as the very foundation of my Injury Prevention and Human Performance Program.

The Functional Movement Screen (or FMS) was developed by Gray Cook. Gray is a licensed Physical Therapist, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, a level 1 coach with the US Weightlifting Federation, and is also a Level 1 Russian Kettlebell Instructor.

The FMS basically is 7 individual movement exercises that represent the foundational movements that exist since we were just babies. The tests include the Deep Squat, Hurdle Step, In Line Lunge, Shoulder Mobility, Active Straight Leg Raise, Trunk Stability Push Up, and Rotational Stability. Each movement is graded on a scale of 0-3: You get a 3 if you can perform the movement without cheating, 2 if you perform the movement but cheat, 1 if you cannot perform the movement at all, and 0 if you have pain with the movement. Highest score you can achieve is a 21. Some of the tests include you performing a test on the L side and a test on the R side.

Once the test has been completed this gives the FMS specialist a detailed map of the individual. What "the Map" will indicate if there are any asymmetries or imbalances present within that particular individuals body. Asymmetries are the second leading factors that can lead to injury (#1 is previous injury). It also tells the specialist if the movement issue is a stability problem or a mobility problem.

With this information we can determine what movement needs to be improved on to provide better balance to the individual.

So who could benefit from this? Everyone. Whether you have suffered a previous injury or had surgery, you are planning on training for that first 1/2 marathon, you want to begin an exercise program for one of your goals. This movement screen should be done first and foremost. If you test out and you have a good score with no imbalances, then train away. If you have a poor score with pain or imbalances then you need to work with a specialist who knows how to correct those movement imbalances.

NFL teams' Athletic Trainers & Strength Coaches use the FMS, why shouldn't you? I will try and get some video up on my first FMS that I performed for myself.

For more information on the FMS, and to find an FMS specialist near you. Check out

Kettlebell Bootcamp #18-Another Snatch Day

Hello everyone! Happy Friday! If you ask me I would term today's bootcamp is "get your ass kicked by the kettlebell snatch Friday". Dave was back from his travels and we spent the whole session practicing the snatch technique from the single arm kettlebell swing, to the "snatch pull" (as Dave termed it), then to the last part being the end of the snatch position.

We practiced by:
  • single arm swings 2x5 each side
  • single arm snatch pulls 2x5 each side
  • swing, to snatch pull, to snatch (then repeated full snatches x5 each side)
  • snatches 1x5 (with a hold at the top anywhere from 5 sec - 20 sec)
  • Lastly we did a snatch interval where we did 7 minutes of either continuous snatches, holds at the top of the snatch position, or swings. Our goal was to never drop or set down the kettlebell.

40 minutes later we were beat and the Heart Rate Monitor read 500 calories. Awesome day!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #16

Great workout today.  Did only two foundational exercises but Matt (subbing for Dave who is out of town) put a unique spin on one of them.

  • Warm up including "the pump"
  • Partner Get Ups 1 rep each side, then partner goes 1 rep each side (10 minutes)
  • Kettlebell swings 30 sec on/30 sec off - 1st 5 rounds of swings were performed with a kettlebell in each hand! I used 16kgs, Nik did 12kgs.  Once my technique got a bit sloppy moved to regular swings with a 24kg (Nik did 16kg) for another 5 rounds
Sorry I don't have a calorie count, I was a bit sleepy this AM and forgot to wear my heart rate monitor.  Starting to see some cool changes in the past 6 weeks.  Performing swings with at least 24kg kettlebell, where I could only do that for 1-2 rounds the first week.  Nik is kicking ass with a 16kg on swings and her get ups are getting much crisper.  Won't be long and she will be doing swings with a 24kg on a regular basis.

Dave was nice enough to allow us to loan out some kettlebells this week to practice at home until our order gets in.  He didn't have to do it, but chose to cause he is not only a great instructor, but a great person.  THANKS DAVE!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #15

You would not believe it but I am squatting much better since KBBC #14 where we worked on improving Nik and I's squatting pattern. Too cool.

Great bootcamp today. Hit the strength in a circuit set and then followed by an "ass kicking" with swings.

  • Warm up 5 minutes including spinal wave and the pump
  • Circuit in groups of 2 people, 30 seconds on and 20 seconds rest while changing stations: station 1: push ups, station 2: v-ups, station 3: renegade row, station 4: deep body weight squats. Performed 3 rounds
  • Kettlebell swing ladder w/partners: Each alternates performing swings: 10 swings, then 15, then 20 and repeat. Do as many ladders as you can in 12 minutes. I believe Nik and I did 5 rounds total. That is 225 swings in 12 minutes for each of us. A new achievement for us: Nik performed the ladder with a 16kg KB the whole time while I did 24kg KB. A new personal best for each of us.

Everyone have a terrific weekend and stay active!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #14 (learned to clean)

We had an awesome night tonight at bootcamp.  Unforgettable actually.  Nik and I walked in to greet Dave and he told us: "you want the good news or the bad".  "the bad news is, its just you two and me for bootcamp tonight, the good news's just you two and me for bootcamp tonight".  He turned our bootcamp into a terrific education section, then kicked our ass at the end.

  • warmed up with "the pump" - about 5-8 times
  • had us squat as low as we could go, then he had me lie on my back and made me mimic a squat while he put resistance on the top of my feet, then we had to squat again and work on "pulling ourselves deeper and deeper into the squat
  • then put us in this god awful frog like position that made me think I was going to pop my hip joint right out of socket, then had me sink deeper and deeper, push knees in, then push knees out.  It was awful.... Until I got back up and squatted probably 2 more inches deeper and my butt got lower than my knees.  Then we did a few goblet squats to reinforce our new range we achieved by improving our hip mobility.  Then did a few KB  swings, I could not believe how "cleaner" my swings felt.
  • Then Dave asked us: "what do you want to learn today?"  See, this is why he is the #1 rated RKC instructor by  We both were not sure what to do next, he then spent the next 20 minutes teaching us how to clean a kettlebell.  I was perplexed by how hard it was for us to learn, but did feel a lot better about my clean by the end of working with Dave.  
  • Then it was ass kicking time (literally).  We did kettlebell swings for 20 seconds with a 10 second rest for 10 rounds.  All in all we learned so much in one session and also burned almost 400 calories in just 10 minutes of work.  Amazing.  I am really glad that everyone showed up for the 5:30 time and not the 6:30 so Nik and I got to have Dave all to ourselves.  Again I am still amazed about how much I learned and how much performing kettlebell exercises can promote using your stabilizers better than any dumbbell or crappy machine exercise.  Every bootcamp session I learn something new that I can apply in my job in rehabilitation.
  • Dave was also so gracious as to stick around and talk to us about our goals for becoming RKC certified and felt that he could have us ready by April.  Financially we are shooting for late summer and early fall.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

KB Bootcamp #13 (week 5)

Great class again today.  Today was more of a technique component which I agree is essential to make sure that everyone reviews the very basics of kettlebell exercises.  I was surprised to see that my Turkish Get Up and Swing could still use some work.  This tells me that I should not be practicing other "sexy"  kettlebell tricks until I can get these two movements down.  If I can't perfect these first, then I will be unable to perform the more demanding lifts later on.  

Today in class:
  • Warm up for 5 minutes including "the pump"
  • Get up practice 1 rep each side
  • Partner Turkish Get Ups 1 rep each side then partner goes for 10 minutes
  • Kettlebell Swings that ended up turning into the "carousel of pain"  30 seconds swings with 20 seconds rest for 11 rounds
40 minutes & 400 calories later we were done.  Also on another fun note, Nikki and I ordered our first set of actual kettlebells!  I can't wait for them to arrive so I can perfect my Turkish Get Ups and Swings.  

Friday, November 7, 2008

A Few Good Reasons Why You Should Invest in Someone to Make You Exercise

I was at kettlebell bootcamp the other day when one of the ladies was talking about how much she loves this class and that she hated working out before she learned about the joys of kettlebells. She use to hire a personal trainer to work her out but she admitted that half the time she did not show up and let the personal trainer charge her when she missed sessions. She stated that looking back on her experience with a personal trainer, "I will never understand why people would hire a personal trainer." I pondered that question and began a list of reasons why people should invest in a personal trainer and/or a group exercise class like the kettlebell bootcamp I am currently in. Let me know what you think, if your reason is not on the list, please comment and give us your reason:

  • MOST PEOPLE BENEFIT FROM MAKING A FINANCIAL COMMITMENT TO WORKOUT- Think about it. Most people are more willing to not blow off their workouts if they have already have paid for the sessions in advance. The I am too stressed, to tired, too busy excuses tend to go away. This way you will make yourself go to the class/session since most people do not like to waste their money. This motivates you to go and creates a habit of you getting you exercising. My wife and I are a great example: for a good month we woke up early and worked out with each other at home on our own, then as time marched on getting out of bed got harder and harder. Now with our bootcamp (we made a 4 month commitment to workout) we would be wasting money when we sleep in and my tightass will not allow for that to happen!

  • IT IS A LOT CHEAPER THAN MEDICAL BILLS - A commitment to a group class and/or personal trainer seems expensive, but look at it this way. If your older self could go back in time and talk to you now he/she would kick you in the ass and curse you for not making the investment into your health. Believe me, I have seen way to many individuals now in their golden years who cannot enjoy their retirements because they did not train themselves the way they should have years before. They have a total joint replacement, are out of shape and fat since they can no longer exercise without pain and have poor health since they can no longer exercise or be active. Also now you have less money due to all the medical expenses you wasted your money on. Broke and miserable is no way to go through life.

  • SOME PEOPLE ARE NOT AS GOOD AT MOTIVATING THEMSELVES - Most people aren't the greatest at motivating themselves to workout. We need help from a workout partner, a group class with a knowledgeable instructor, or a well qualified personal trainer. These people can get you motivated to workout and can usually push you farther then you ever thought you could push yourself. I know for a fact that this is true with the class I currently attend.

  • TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE, TECHNIQUE - You ever worked out in the gym and watched someone do a certain exercise and you cringe at the sight of them working out? Their technique is so poor that you can almost guarantee that they will snap a limb out of place right then and there. That is why there are instructors and personal trainers. They can make sure that you are doing the exercise perfectly. Because if you are not doing perfect reps, you develop bad habits and are going to end up in the doctors office anyways.

  • BRING BALANCE TO YOUR LIFE AND BODY - The majority of us have some type of muscle imbalance in our bodies that we do not know about. If you begin an exercise program or train for a new activity (say a half marathon) without putting your body in the correct balance you can do a lot of damage. A good group instructor and/or personal trainer can help determine what weak links you may possess and help you to correct them so you can train/exercise more efficiently with bigger gains and make you less prone to injury. I would advise to anyone that if they want to train for their first ever marathon or 1/2 marathon, they need to get screened for movement imbalances and work with someone on preparing you for training for your upcoming event. Just running alone won't prepare you for a marathon or half-marathon.

  • THEY HAVE A PROGRAM, YOU DON'T - Lets face it, we have all done it. We walk into the gym without any type of plan whatsoever. We look around to see what machines (I HATE MACHINE WEIGHTS! but that is for another post) are available and we have no idea how many sets, reps, weights we are going to perform. Every GOOD group instructor/personal trainer can set you up with a program that identifies with your goals be it weight loss, muscle gain, training for a sport, or general fitness. Without that program you are like a gerbil on that wheel, you are definitely doing something ,which is nice, but you aren't getting anywhere doing it.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #12 (I got a weak Left cheek)

Very good class today. Not only in a performance aspect, but I always love it when I learn something in a workout.

As many of you already know (just ask my wife Nikki) I always preach a lot at about muscle imbalances and how they can wreck your body with activities. The beautiful thing about kettlebell training is that it helps you to work on those muscle imbalances, like my Left butt cheek (sort of speaking).
Today (after warm up) David had us get into a half kneeling position and move our feet in line like we were kneeling on a tight rope (I call it half kneeling tightrope position). Then had us rack the kettlebell and press it overhead. We have done this before but before we would have the left leg forward and press up with the right arm, which was hard enough. Today we had to have the left leg forward and press with the left leg. Talk about hard & unsteady. Then Dave showed what we were doing and then showed what it looks like if you engage your stabilizers (some people say "core" I like to say pillar) this means David engaged his hip stabilizers by squeezing his butt, engaged his core by how he likes to call it "pull your sternum and your pubic bone together" and engaged his scapular stabilizers in his shoulder by pulling back and down with the shoulder blade and squeezing the handle with his hand. This made the movement much more "efficient" lets say with way less "energy leaks". It is those leaks that occur during movement within our training or everyday activities that can lead us to injury.

As it turns out when I was pressing with my right arm, I was having a significant amount of trouble! Does that mean my right side is weaker, maybe. But more than likely it means that I am having trouble stabilizing with my left hip (my weak left cheek). I also notice this with my turkish get ups as well. Here is our workout today:

  • We did 1x5 tightrope half kneeling same side presses each side, then received more instruction then repeated with 1x5 each side with much more efficient presses
  • Then of course we did KB swings 30 seconds on, 20 seconds off for 6 rounds.
40-45 minutes later and 500 calories later we where winded and finished. Great workout! I will try and get us some video up of the tightrope press when David and I have time. I am also going to introduce everyone to the Functional Movement Screen and how I tested on the FMS before I began kettlebell bootcamp. Have a terrific day everyone!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #11 (I know how to SNATCH now!)

Yes, go ahead and laugh. I did too. Everyone does when they hear the word "snatch". All in all though Nikki and I had a terrific bootcamp this morning. I did not think we could top the rough, kick ass workout we got last night, but my wife and I left bootcamp today with a huge sense of accomplishment. Cause know we have learned the kettlebell snatch, probably wasn't the prettiest of snatches but we did them and our forearms are free from bruises.

The first time Nik and I met with Dave I told him that I have seen the kettlebell snatch but was not familiar on how to do it. He had me try and rep and "WHACK" I popped my forearm so hard I was rubbing it for a week. He told me that he would get me to doing pain free snatches in the near future. Low and behold I banged my forearm up really good with a 12kg kettlebell 4 weeks ago and today I snatched a 16kg kettlebell 15-20 times today and walked out with no bruises and pain free, David is no liar.

Here is the workout:
  • Warm up which included spinal wave and "the pump"
  • KB squat to press from rack position 15 sec, 15 sec rest then other side 15 sec x 3
  • Burpees followed by KB orbits (at least that is what I call them) around our midsection 30sec each then repeat x 2

Then David educated us step by step the art of the kettlebell snatch:

  • practiced "pulls" both sides x5, repeated 3 times
  • 3 pulls followed by 1 snatch (pull then punch at the sky), then continued with 5 more snatches, then switched sides: performed this 2 times each side
  • one arm swings for 30 seconds, 30 second rest
  • 3 one arm swings to snatch, continued to perform 5 more snatches, 30 second rest then switched sides

All in all around 43 minutes of work and 599 calories later. Heart rate got up to 185 during snatches. Notes: need to keep my damn opposite hand off of my thigh! Got in trouble 3 times, my bad gang. Ended up finishing my snatches with the opposite hand behind my back. Probably not the best snatches in the world, but damn it feels good to be able to perform a snatch. Need to keep practicing and cleaning up my swing, this will help me to perform a much better snatch!

Kettlebell Bootcamp #10

Kick ass day today in KBBC. Dave just returned from Japan where he instructed a kettlebell seminar and basically stepped off of the plane and headed over to teach class. Nikki and I went to an evening class this time due to the fact that Nikki has to go to work early on Friday.

  • Circuits of alternating dumbell row, push ups, goblet squats (I believe we went 30 seconds exercise and then 15 seconds rest) x4

  • After a quick break we did double arm kettlebell swings for 30 seconds and then 10 second rest x5

All in all we did only around 30 minutes of work, but my heart rate shot up to 185 and I burned 400 calories in that time. Let alone how many calories I am going to burn (one article states up to and maybe over 38 hour increase in calorie burn) since I combined weight training in a format that gets my heart rate to go at different levels.

After class I wanted to video myself performing a turkish get up to show everyone what we are doing when they hear about the turkish get up. David was so gracious as to stick around and watch to make sure I performed it correctly and then jumped in and gave step by step instructions. Thanks so much Dave. Your class and your instruction is top notch! Here is the video with instruction first and the full get up second.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Busy Sunday

My wife Nik and I had a very productive Sunday today. On Saturday we did about 3 hours of grocery shopping at 4 different stores. We first headed off to the Farmer's Market for vegetables, then to Costco for our bulk items, next Wal Mart and finally to Whole Foods for the things we needed that aren't at any of the other stores.

Woke up this morning and began cooking. In a few hours I had made 2 dinners (breakfast casserole from gourmet nutrition & an enchilada casserole) and 2 snacks/post workout bars (peanut butter bars & granola bars both from the gourmet nutrition cookbook). I did all of this in time to sit down and watch football and monitor my fantasy football teams. By the time the Giants were taking care of the Cowboys, Nik and I made one final meal of stir fry steak and cauliflower mash (kind of like rice or mashed potatoes with the fiber and not the starch-gourmet nutrition cookbook as well).

All in all Nik and I made 3 anytime meals and 2 snacks that will end up lasting us the whole week. Its very true what the experts say, it pays to plan ahead and make all of your meals ahead of time.

Now we have no excuse to say that "we have nothing to eat" or that "we are too tired to cook". I will try and get a recipe up this week and also try to get some more video of Nik and I performing our kettlebell routines.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Kettlebell Bootcamp #9

Two full weeks performed of kettlebell bootcamp.  Already had three comments this week of "have you lost weight" which is always welcomed.  Feeling stronger as well.  Nikki bought me as a pick me up when I was a little down in the dumps a cookbook called "Gourmet Nutrition 2.0".  I am so stoked about the cookbook as it comes from the precision nutrition line.  This is where the pumpkin pie bars came from.  We are going to try some recipes this weekend and I will report back next week.

As for the workout, after quick warm up:
  • Circuit of body weight lunges, kettlebell presses, and one arm bent over rows (30 seconds R  side, 30 seconds L side, rotate to next station during 30 seconds rest)
  • Kettlebell swings (45 seconds on, 45 seconds rest)  did 6 rounds I believe
40 minutes later and 460 calories torched, more of a strength portion today which was different since we went high on endurance last two sessions.  Still max heart rate got up to 175. 

Kettlebell Training in the Nashville News