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Gray Cook on Squat Devices

There are a variety of assistive squat devices on the market, and I thought it would be interesting to get Gray Cook’s take on how each of them work. Here’s his response to my request. ~Laree


GRAY: Sure, Laree, I have some thoughts on these devices, but first, you better than most know I have to open with the following statement: We don’t load the squat without screening it first.

These devices miss a key aspect of squatting—we need to make sure there’s no dysfunction first. If a person gets a ‘1’ on the squat screen, there’s a potential for injury…with or without a squat assistance device. We have to help the person fit the squat motion before we try to make the squat motion fit the person.

Unfortunately, the individual with the ‘1’ on the squat movement pattern will disregard this information and migrate to any and all tricks and devices that make the squat feel less awkward. The thinking behind this person’s action is that more must be better—more sets, more reps, more weight.

Another thing to remember is this odd thought: Even the absence of dysfunction doesn’t mean we need perfection.

I know you’ve learned a lot about screening from our conversations, and I’ll bet your readers will benefit from it too. They can go to functionalmovement.com to learn more or to find a local certified FMS specialist.

Now then, here’s how these devices help make the squat fit the person.

Manta Ray, $44.95
The main idea behind the manta ray is to spread the weight across more surface area than the bar does alone. It also raises the bar higher off the back, higher even than a high-bar squat, which changes the weight distribution, shifting the load slightly forward toward a more upright, quad-dominant squat.

Top Squat, $199
The top squat spreads the weight similar to the manta ray, but the real purpose of this unit is simply to get the hands in front of the body, mainly for people with shoulder problems.  Because you’re attaching something to a bar, the weight again sits a little higher than a plain bar. However, when letting the handles move as designed, the bar is in a lower position during the squat. This keeps the body more upright than a low-bar powerlifting squat.

Westside Cambered Squat Bar, $380
A favorite among powerlifters, a cambered bar can be used for squatting and good mornings—some cambered bars are even used for bench pressing. The benefit of this bar in squatting is the ability to grip about a foot lower than the bar.

Safety Squat Bar, $395
The Safety Squat Bar is also mostly used by powerlifters, usually in a special power rack that has handles. The idea here is to get the hands off the bar and onto the handles, to help keep the back straight by putting pressure against the rack. This also provides a sort of self-spotting ability to self-correct during the movement—you can use your hands to help position yourself.

Buffalo Bar, $589.95
The Buffalo Bar is the modern version of the slightly bent squat bar, popular among squatters for decades. The IronMind bar is slightly heavier, slightly longer and slightly thicker than a regular Olympic bar. This makes it a favorite among bigger guys because there’s more space between the collars.

Frank Zane Leg Blaster, $650
Frank Zane’s Leg Blaster is more similar to a front squat or even Dan John’s goblet squat than a traditional back squat. This harness unit brings the load both forward and down, and  allows a hands-free or assisted squat, and would be useful for bodybuilders to isolate the quads more than the regular squat motion.

Additional Thoughts

Supplementation with squat patterning on ‘off’ days will actually provide an advantage. Here we get the benefit of a rest and recovery day, with the refinement and efficiency of patterning work. All these can offer rest to a cranky shoulder and refinement to everything under the shoulder. And before we get too complicated, don’t forget Dan John’s simple goblet squat, or partner squats if you happen to have a partner like one of these guys around.


Drill 1—Work on The Pistol

Pavel Tsatsouline’s book The Naked Warrior discusses the development of a pistol or single-leg squat to demonstrate fundamental strength, balance and symmetry between the left and right sides of the body. He employs many tricks to help develop the pistol; common examples are a heel lift to move the weight forward and a box to limit depth.

I recommend doing a pistol on a hill. To begin, lie with your feet downhill. Bring your legs up—knees to chest—and quickly sit up into a pistol stance, one foot down and one foot out, and then use the momentum to stand. You will gain a heavy-day advantage over your competition because you will own more alignment, symmetry and core control.


Drill 2—Log Squat

This is not across-the-shoulders Rocky Balboa style, but instead the log is balanced on one shoulder. The feedback is amazing and the self-limiting aspect is huge. This teaches the squatter that sometimes the body is aligned in such a way that the shoulder is out of position. The drill should be done on the left and right sides. Half to two-thirds body weight is a good starting point, but don’t be afraid to go heavy.

Here, let me show you what it looks like in this clip the Exploring Functional Movement DVD, where Erwan Le Corre and I discuss unbalanced squatting.

Drill 3—Wide-Stance Deadlift

For this we use a really wide stance, with the hands shoulder-width apart, inside the knees. From the side this deadlift almost looks like a squat. Pull your shoulders back; your lats are engaged and your knees should be out—don’t let them cave in; they will if you don’t pay attention. This has all the benefits of a parallel back squat with no pressure on the shoulders. The bonus here is the traction on the shoulders has a rehab effect on the shoulder stabilizers and shoulder-girdle posture.

Thanks again for inviting me in on this discussion, Laree. See you at Perform Better Long Beach in August!







Dan John & Chip Conrad: Winning Combination

Dan John: A Systems Approach to Coaching & Training
Chip Conrad: How to Create a Holistic Athlete

What a winning combination!

Without intention, Dan and Chip’s lectures flow together so smoothly, you’ll think they planned this all winter. They successfully weave together Dan’s decades of experience and Chip’s study of physical culture and iron tradition, and come up with a delightful tapestry of thoughtful ideas you’ll ponder, and later use yourself and with your clients and athletes.

As always, this DVD includes a data folder that contains transcripts and audio files of both lectures, plus movementlectures.com audio lectures and excerpts from their recent books, Intervention and Lift with Your Head.

In this live-event lecture, strength coaches Dan John and Chip Conrad give us their newest ideas as they blend tradition and current thinking into substantial training results.

Dan and Chip are accomplished athletes, coaches, teachers and perhaps most importantly…thinkers. As they share what’s on their minds these days, you’ll find yourself stopping the video to ponder how to put this new material to use in your training or with your clients and athletes.

Never fear…they’ve got some ideas on that too.

Click here for more information

Lorimer Moseley on Pain

When Craig Liebenson introduced me to Lorimer Moseley as a suggestion to film his Pain lecture at Jason Tonley’s Cynergy Education event, I was pleased. But I had no clue what a gift that would turn out to be.

I’d watched Lorimer’s TED talk, and knew he was smart and funny. At the time, I didn’t know what a contribution he and his team had made toward our current understanding of pain. And I definitely didn’t know how skilled he is at teaching such a complex topic…this guy is terrific!

Much of the material in the lecture is over my head–way over–and some of you may feel the same. But at an instant before my brain was about to slide off toward something distracting, Lorimer switched to storytelling. And if I thought he was smart, that was nothing compared to how masterful he is at stories.

Lorimer packed this talk with important information…facts, research and working theories we all need to know about how pain works. And he interspersed it with great stories to help us understand and teach pain science.

I loved working on this, and you’re going to love watching it…at least twice.

Here’s the link to more information, more video clips or to buy the DVD or digital video.

50% Off Lectures You Might Like

I’m loving the work on movementlectures.com. I love the variety, love working with new people…love the whole idea of the downloadable products site.

But I know many of the lectures won’t be of interest to a big segment of the davedraper.com readers, so I thought I’d make note of some that should be relevant. And while I’m at it, let’s make a 50% off coupon for you: Enter the word DRAPER in the coupon box at the right side of the checkout at movementlectures.com, and you’ll get your selections at half off. The coupon expires in a week, so use it before Thursday, May 17, 2013.

Take a look at these and see what you think. I’m betting thumbs up.

^^Those are clickable links^^

Each lecture page has a couple of minutes of sample sound so you can get an idea of the lecture style.

Don’t forget the half-off coupon: Enter the word DRAPER in the coupon box at the right side of the checkout at movementlectures.com, and you’ll get your selections at half off. The coupon expires in a week, so use it before Thursday, May 17, 2013.

Exploring Functional Movement DVD

An Authentic and Natural Experience
Featuring Gray Cook & Erwan Le Corre
3-disc DVD set, a Functional Movement Systems production

Boy, was I eager to get my hands on this! Together — and this is just an opinion from my limited vantage point they’d probably both argue against — the guy who understands movement better than anyone alive, and the guy who does movement better than anyone alive.


The DVD set opens with Erwan putting Gray through some basics. After their introduction, they’ll spend about 45 minutes going through a variety of movement drills that display postural integrity and quality movement patterning.

Now that we have an impression of authentic movement, in Disc 2 we see Erwan putting two people through structured, progressively more difficult drills. In this disc, we’re invited to participate as he instructs us through a challenging set of ground-based MovNat maneuvers. We see the improvement in symmetrical movement over the course of the 90 minutes, and we get to listen in as Gray provides a few pointers. He’ll also give us his commentary to tie this work in with Functional Movement Systems.

How do you use this material in your gym or with your gym-based clients? For Disc 3 we move indoors, where Erwan shows how us to replicate these ground-based drills using common gym tools. Gray will teach us how to scale these movements as Erwan demonstrates, and through it all, Gray explains the connection with the movement screening model.

Disc 3 comes with the 41-page Exploring Functional Movement Exercise Manual. This comprehensive material defines the terms, separates the 37 exercises into movement categories, explains the practical applications, points out the important aspects of each movement, notes the relevant FMS tests for each exercise, and provides a concise table of the material by movement types and FMS patterns.

You’ll also find a 21-page introduction to Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat physical education system and movement efficiency principles, plus eight articles by Gray Cook, which he feels are important in learning the concepts found on the Exploring Functional Movement DVD.

Disc 1

  • Introduction—13 minutes
  • Live Coaching Session 1—27 minutes
  • Gray tells us what to expect to learn from the DVD set
  • Erwan opens with Reconnecting with the Ground drills
  • Bodyweight shifting, rocking, rolling, kneeling positions and recap
  • Live Coaching Session 2—20 minutes
  • Hierarchy of movement skills (locomotive, manipulative, combative)
  • Postural integrity, efficient quality movement patterning
  • Log drill
  • Gray recaps the first disc

Disc 2

  • Introduction and discussion of mindfulness
  • Erwan teaches the disc one drills to two students while Gray adds his commentary
  • Gray explains the learning found in the first section
  • Erwan shows the drills in a live coaching session
  • Credits and bloopers

Disc 3

  • Disc 3 comes with the 41-page Exploring Functional Movement Exercise Manual.
    This comprehensive material defines the terms, separates the 37 exercises into movement categories, explains the practical applications, points out the important aspects of each movement, notes the relevant FMS tests for each exercise, and provides a concise table of the material by movement types and FMS patterns.
  • You’ll also find a 21-page introduction to Erwan Le Corre’s MovNat physical education system and movement efficiency principles, plus eight articles by Gray Cook, which he feels are important in learning the concepts found on the Exploring Functional Movement DVD.
  • Gray explains the What & Why, the relevance of breaking down the patterns, and describes the MovNat & FMS certifications.
  • The bulk of disc 3 is the comprehensive exercise library—exercises categorized by type discussion and the developmental path. These are indoor movement drills, demonstrated by Erwan in Gray’s physical therapy clinic.

Rolling Exercises

Half backward roll from lying; backward and forward roll from lying; forward roll from standing

Crawling Exercises

Supine incline crawl; supine lateral crawl

Creeping Exercises

Supine creeping; low creeping; creeping on a beam; creeping on a bean over an obstacle; creeping under an obstacle

Transition Exercises

Prone press-up rotations; supine flexed rocking; rotational rocking; flexed side sit transitions; tall split kneeling rotations; standing to half-kneeling; hanging side swing; deep squat to low kneeling (loaded); deep squat to low kneeling (relaxed); deep squat to half-kneeling transition; deep squat to straight-leg sit; deep knee bend to tripod on beam; tripod-style getup; deep squat to low half-kneeling; deep squat to half-kneeling advance

Biped Exercises

Deep knee bend; deep knee bend on a beam; deep squat; narrow base deep squat, split-squat on a beam; split-squat turn on a beam; split-squat reach on a beam; forward stepping under; lateral stepping under; confined space stepping over; restricted space stepping over; stepping over obstacle on a beam

You can order the physical dvd via Functional Movement Systems, or the digital files via movementlectures.com.


Gray Cook and the Toe-Touch Discussion

I first read about Gray Cook’s thoughts on the importance of the toe touch in his book Athletic Body in Balance. I didn’t know him then, but I read the book three times, and I decided I might be one of those few people who just can’t touch their toes. Never could, not as long as I can remember — sorta figured a short torso was to blame, just three inches from bra line to pelvis… not much bending space, right?

Numerous discussions, work on his Movement book, podcast instructions, articles and video bits, and still I didn’t get it. In hindsight, I could have saved myself a few years of denial by just getting him to show me, but what the heck, then I wouldn’t have the satisfaction of the big lights-on moment.

I got to have one of those not too long ago, while working on Gray’s new Key Functional Exercises You Should Know DVD. It took a few times through to hammer it in, but that bright light went on, and now I can do a toe touch, no warming up, not practice runs… no stretching needed first. Nearly 50 years of being unable to touch my toes, fixed.

Here’s a snip from the new DVD:

Turns out Gray’s been singing the same song for ages. In fact, his bit on the very first strengthcoach.com podcast was on why the toe-touch progression works. In his own words, from 2007:

“One way to understand how the toe touch progression works is to stop thinking anatomy and start thinking pattern. The toe touch progression simply allows you to break a pattern.

“When the body and brain do not really connect in the forward bending pattern, doing the toe touch progression allows you to sort of scratch that old software and break through using some mobility and stability techniques.

“I’ll sometimes find people in the audience at lectures who haven’t touched their toes in a long time and will help them touch their toes very quickly simply by doing the drill you may have seen in Athletic Body in Balance.

“When I’m onstage showing this, it’s basically a quick trick to demonstrate that if all you are thinking is anatomy, you will never change a pattern like the toe touch that is limited for multiple reasons. What I am trying to demonstrate by doing this is that in most cases it is a pattern problem first.

“First, let me take you through a quick example of what this feels like to a person who cannot do a toe-touch. Back up to the wall so that both your heels and your buttocks are against the wall. Try to bend forward and touch your toes. You will find very quickly that if you go for your toes, you will wind up on your face.

“What I have done is taken away your ability to do a posterior weight shift, the thing that makes a deadlift good and the thing that makes forward bending uncomplicated.

“In people who don’t have a natural posterior weight shift of the hips, when they don’t shift weight behind the feet, they cannot put weight in front of the feet. These people will say their hamstrings are tight.

“The hamstrings aren’t tight; they’re contracting to keep the body from falling forward!

“The lack of a pattern and then the inappropriate weight shifting causes almost a protective response that locks the body out of the toe touch.

“Doing the toe up-toe causes weight shifting, reciprocal inhibition and patterning. It makes you be less dependent on your legs to hold you up, and more dependent on your core and your weight shifting to keep you balanced.

“There are quite a few instances where we will see this issue with the toe-touch. One thing it indicates is that people are dependent more on the legs for stabilization than on the core—and we don’t want that. The forward-bending pattern is such a primitive pattern that if this is limited always clean that up first, because it’s possible to not be able to touch your toes, but be able to squat or to be limited in both.

“Once you break through that pattern, you have a small window of opportunity before the pattern reverts. Maybe put a stick on the back so the spine will remain straight and erect. Rehearse some deadlifting mechanics. A simple way to do that is to step about a foot away from the wall, try to reach back as far as you can with your butt and just touch the wall—but don’t lean on the wall.

“We don’t want people doing corrective strategies for a long period of time. The minute you break through, try to upload new information that requires technique, mobility, stability, dynamic stabilization and appropriate breathing.

“There’s no specific anatomy being addressed or targeted more than another. If a muscle is tight, it’s because you’re using it that way. If a muscle is weak, it’s because you’re using it that way.

“This is not about stretching and strengthening. It’s about changing the pattern.”

He went into detail for about 14 minutes on the strengthcoach.com podcast, episode number one. Here’s his bit:

Host Anthony Renna has been going strong ever since that remarkable podcast launch. He had Gray on to talk about the toe touch on his first episode, November 2, 2007, and the link I’m about to give you rests on episode 119, five-and-a-half years later. Very nice work, Ant, and thanks for all the education you’ve made available to us!

Now then, get over there and grab the free podcast feed: Strengthcoachpodcast.com.

And let me remind you of the treasure chest of gems you’ll find in Gray’s new dvd. It’s fantastic.

Your Questions Answered in Gray Cook’s New Key Exercises DVD

Knowing how to do an exercise doesn’t mean owning the art of teaching and coaching it well enough to change movement.

Gray Cook Key Functional Exercises

A few years ago, Tim Ferriss got Gray to create a program for him when he interviewed Gray in what Tim later called the most important chapter of his bestselling book, The Four Hour Body. In our new live workshop DVD, Gray goes into the back-story behind those conversations with Tim, and his suggestions for Tim’s training—the reasons, the rules, the exceptions, the explanations and the pearls.

Gray Cook designed his Key Functional Exercises You Should Know seminar to introduce these go-to exercises, the exercises he gave Tim, which are the same exercises he uses most often with his athletes and patients. These key exercises are standouts in a library of functional exercise options, and you should know them, understand them and use them… so we filmed the lecture so you could see it at home.

Gray also took questions throughout the course of the workshop, questions yelled at will whenever some brave soul got stumped on a concept. During the DVD, you’ll learn the answers to some of the questions you may have wondered but haven’t had the opportunity to ask. For example, questions like—

  • Why do you use a high bridge in the Turkish getup? Is there ever a time when you wouldn’t?
  • What is the preferred knee position for deadlifting?
  • Do you have common options to modify the chop and lift?
  • How do I know when a cable bar chop and lift is lined up correctly?
  • What are key factors to look for before advancing the chop and lift from a cable bar to split handles or a rope?
  • Do you have rules for range of motion or range limitation in the deadlift?
  • Can you provide greater depth about exercises that require total engagement and a better explanation of self-limiting exercise?
  • What is the FMS company line on asymmetry, even for asymmetrical athletes?
  • What’s the difference between corrective exercise and functional exercise?
  • Why did you call these exercises ‘key’? What’s so special about them?
  • Can you explain how to use the FMS online exercise library?
  • What are the rules for single-leg deadlifting?
  • What functional patterns are represented in each of the key functional exercises?
  • What is the role of the grip and the lats in the deadlift?
  • Which modifications are key in the Turkish getup?
  • How do I spot faulty form in the deadlift?
  • How do I spot faulty form in the chop and lift?
  • How do I spot faulty form in the Turkish getup?
  • How and when do I progress from a corrective exercise to a functional exercise?

In this DVD, which includes the audio mp3 file and a full, illustrated transcript PDF, Gray covers four main exercises in depth, including discussion, demonstration, sample drills and Q&Q: the chop, the lift, the deadlift and the Turkish getup.

Here’s an example of part of the deadlift drill coverage:

When you finish this material, you’ll not only have seen and understand these exercises, but you’ll be able to teach them skillfully… you’ll own them!

Click here for more information on this DVD, available as a physical DVD or digital download.



Gray Cook: Functional vs Corrective Exercise

What’s the difference between functional exercise and corrective exercise? Do you know? Stop right here for a sec and consider that. Can you give a confident answer?

Gray Cook Functional Exercise DVD

When Gray Cook called nearly a year ago to start the planning for this Key Functional Exercises You Should Know DVD, he asked me that question. As I heard him speaking, I instantly assumed after years of corrective exercise immersion, I’d have a good response. But as the words started coming out of my mouth, I quickly floundered and my answer fizzled to mush. After six or eight years of reading, self-practice and discovery, I didn’t have a solid answer.

Many of us in our various backgrounds are using corrective exercise for fitness, sports performance and rehabilitation. As you think about that, you’ll realize the corrective exercise concept of improving movement dysfunction is standard, but those recipients are quite different.

Are you skilled enough to recognize those differences and implement a similar but different solution to each target group? Better yet, can you make changes on the fly as you work with individual client needs, and as those needs change from week to week or workout to workout…or minute to minute?

Tune in as Gray brings clarity to the corrective hierarchy. In this lecture, filmed live for DVD, he’ll explain the differences between functional and corrective exercise. He’ll provide the goals of both, and describe what each is best for and the challenges they present.

Then he gives us his top exercise choices, those Key Functional Exercises You Should Know, and teaches us the order to use them—and why. For each of the these, the chop & lift, the deadlift and the Turkish getup, he details his favorite variations, the verbal instructions he uses, then moves to live demonstration with on-the-fly corrections. This is followed by his commentary and a question-and-answer session.

Certainly Gray spends a lot of time discussing the four specific exercises, but what he also does is use these key exercises as a wrapper for his most important functional and corrective tools. Yes, he gives detailed instructions on what to look for in exercise execution. But there’s much more interwoven throughout: Why is this important?

This is the question many trainers and corrective exercise specialists and enthusiasts forget to ask. The question shouldn’t be if an exercise works; that’s the easy answer most everyone already knows. The better questions are, how is it working and why would each individual need it.

Gray will answer those questions for you in this dvd—those questions you didn’t know to ask.

As you watch your clients doing their corrective exercises today, do more than watch form. Ask yourself why you selected a particular exercise. What exactly is your goal for that exercise, for that person? Is it doing what you think it’s doing? Is it doing the same thing for your first client as it’s doing for the second?

These are the type of questions Gray proposes—and then answers—in this thought-provoking lecture.

Of course form is important. But it turns out, that’s only the first step.

Knowing quality form when you see it, and being able to offer the perceptive corrections to trigger righting responses is the foundation of what Gray will teach you in this lecture. Then he’ll build on that to help you think through the deeper levels of how these exercises work, and why you’d use one exercise over another for each of your clients.

A firm grasp of these concepts will help you make a bigger difference for your clients. And that makes for a fulfilling day at work.

I’m constantly learning important tips from Gray, even though I’m not a trainer or practitioner. His lectures are packed with off-the-cuff gems, scattered with what for him are throwaway comments that stop me cold: Wow, so that’s how that works!

Click here for the details on the topics he covers on each disc, or to place your order, $99 for the physical DVD, or $20 per disc for the digital downloads.

Dan John: Intervention Excerpt

Chapter 21
The Secrets of the Toolkit
Excerpted from Intervention: Course Corrections for the Athlete and Trainer
by Dan John
Available in print, ebook and audio book.

Listen along!

As I have given the basics of Intervention to my fellow coaches, a few reoccurring themes have emerged as they take back the key points to try them on themselves and their athletes. I refer to these as the secrets, in the same way ‘buy low, sell high’ is a secret.

This list represents a year or so of insights, follow up discussions and breakthroughs.

  • Get stronger in the fundamental human movements.
  • This is the Atkins Diet of lifting—by deliberately being imbalanced for a while in training, you balance the real imbalances.
  • There is no punishment in doing patterns—learning and coming back to patterns is never wrong.
  • It’s okay to get gassed at the patterns and grind movements.
  • Symmetry workouts are undervalued for their metabolic hit.
  • If you need explosive movements, check patterns, grinds and symmetry. Look at the triads.
  • The 80/10/10 rule is a valuable tool. Spend the bulk of your time on what your goal is all about—throwing, cooking and eating.
  • As you go on this path, make sure it expands you out—think about the spiral.
  • The goal is to keep the goal, the goal! Focus on it, don’t get caught up in a bunch of other things.

Remember the toolkit and put the following to memory—

Most people will be in Quadrant Three, so just because you can do everything, doesn’t mean you should. If you’re a trainer or coach, learn to push people to Quadrant Three. You may spend your life convincing people they’re not elite Special Forces or NFL players.

Get stronger in the fundamental human movements.
This is so obvious you might miss this important point, so pay attention: Almost universally, getting stronger is going to help you with your goals. Enough is enough when it comes to strength, but most people never even get close to the low-hanging fruit of strength training.

I work with men who gasp at my suggestion to bench bodyweight for 15 since they’ve never seen anyone that strong. Trust me, there are plenty of strong people on the planet. For fat loss, getting stronger is like the one-stop shop for turning yourself into a fat-loss machine.

Get in the weightroom and strive to add plates or move the pin down or slide over to a heavier dumbbell. It is the simplest thing I can teach you.

This is the Atkins Diet of lifting—by deliberately being imbalanced for a while in training, you balance the real imbalances.
One of the things that made the most sense about the original Atkins Diet was the two-week induction program to completely remove every carbohydrate from the diet. The thinking was this: If I’ve been imbalanced with carbs, let’s swing all the way to the opposite towards fat and protein to achieve that balance. It worked for many in his diet and it works in exercise.

There’s a chance that for a few weeks, you will do lots of goblet squats, farmer walking and rolling on the ground. You may ignore some things from the normal way you usually do things. But this imbalance in one direction is going to balance things out. It also happens very quickly.

If you don’t have an authentic squat pattern and you ignore your rhomboids, for example, it’s going to catch up in sports and in the process of aging. My orthopedic surgeon told me that nothing makes him sadder than when the decision to perform hip replacement is based on being able to relieve oneself. Losing the squat pattern through disuse or disease can be addressed by either the trainer and the surgeon, depending on the severity.

Let’s be a bit imbalanced for a few weeks to bring the glaring weaknesses up to some standard.

There is no punishment in doing patterns—learning and coming back to patterns is never wrong.
Many people consider the patterns—planks, batwings, HATs, goblet squats, farmer walks and basic rolling—to be beginner moves. True, we should teach these early and often, but advanced trainers often benefit more from the simple stuff than anything fancy I can dream up.

Pattern work can be fat burning. Pattern work can be correctives. Pattern work can make you stronger. Don’t consider pattern work to be sinful, punishment, regressive or embarrassing. These moves might be the answer to your issues and questions.

It’s okay to get gassed at the pattern and grind movements.
I’m never sure how to handle people who just want to feel ‘worked out.’ I like to train people to be and do better. If your sport, or your ego, demands some workouts that curl you over, vomiting into a flower pot, you can get there with patterns and grinds. Front squats followed by a truck push for a mile will get you all you need no matter what your needs are today.

Patterns and grinds are where you want to light things up, not on the Olympic lifts.

Symmetry workouts are undervalued for their metabolic hit.
When I travel, I often use the hotel gym to one-arm work. What I find amazing is that symmetry work, like basic correctives, seems to wear me out as much as a tough workout. There is a great conversation going on right now about why this happens, but many fitness experts have been finding their fat-loss clients get leaner doing corrective work and symmetry movements as opposed to more common movements like treadmills or cycles. It’s worth keeping an eye on in the future.

Moreover, as I learned from my multiple wrist surgeries, training a healthy limb seems to spark the rehab in the limb that is in a cast. It is bizarre, but true. My return to normal was half the time of a normal patient according to my doctor and he thinks that my insistence on continuing to train around the injury and sling was a major factor. The body is one piece, one marvelous piece, and perhaps symmetry training reminds us that you may have two limbs, but one heart and one brain.


If an athlete needs explosive movements, check patterns, grinds and symmetry. Look at the triads.

Don’t ignore that ‘if.’ Throwers, collision athletes and jumpers might need to snatch and clean & jerk. Grandma probably doesn’t. Take the time to really search and deal with gaps, asymmetries and poor movement patterns before tossing bodyweight overhead at an Olympic lifting meet. The injuries come fast and hard in the quick lifts.

Spend quality time mastering the push press, the swing and the Litvinov family. For many of us, these three will be enough to break through any physical barriers or limitations. The O lifts changed my career, but I was physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the challenge. I also had months to master the movements before I had to compete in my main sport, too.

You may not have the years it takes to walk up the path to explosive movements in the weightroom.

If you do, get going.

The 80/10/10 rule is a valuable tool. Spend the bulk of your time on what your goal is all about—throwing, cooking and eating
Time is the key here. If you have 40 hours a week to spend on your goal, we get to have you in the weightroom for four hours of lifting and four hours of corrective work. My math is fuzzy, but that looks like about eight hours. The rest of the time should be working on your goal.

For fat loss, you would spend 32 hours a week shopping, cooking, measuring, weighing, and proactively dealing with eating and food. If you are a thrower…throw! If you are a hurdler, hurdle! If you are a sprinter, sprint! If you are a jumper, jump!

Now I have given away all my secrets as a track coach too.

As you go on this path, make sure it expands you out—the spiral.
There are dozens of authors who have said this better, but here it is: Be wary of getting your goal and discovering it wasn’t worth it. Proper goal-setting should include expanding your life in every quadrant. Remember, the word ‘fit’ comes from the Old Norse word ‘to knit.’ Your life is your tapestry and it should have a great pictures, rich colors and a tight weave.

As I used to tell my students, “Your life is your message!”

The goal is to keep the goal, the goal! Focus on it, don’t get caught up in a bunch of other things.
Although this point seems to contradict the previous point, remember this: As Chris Long points out to me all the time, “When you’re up to your butt in alligators, it’s too late to ask why you drained the swamp.”

The best thing a personal trainer, life coach or good friend can do for you is to keep reminding you about your goal.

Excerpted from Intervention: Course Corrections for the Athlete and Trainer
Available in print, ebook and audio book

Our first audio book! Dan John’s Intervention

In the late ’60s, Dave hunkered down in a studio for a couple of weeks to read some kind of training information product for Joe Weider. The recording was never released, but the memory is so huge that to this day Dave doesn’t do phone or radio interviews, and wouldn’t even consider doing a lecture for our movementlectures.com site.

To him, the idea that people would be willing to talk into the 20 recorders we have traversing the country for the audio lectures is just crazy. He thought I’d never find people who would do it, yet we now have about 100 lectures on the site, and usually have a waiting list for the recorders. Fast-forward to today, and I have years in print and digital, and about a year-and-a-half experience editing audio lectures, but hadn’t worked on an audio book. Print books, ebooks…no audio book.

Dan John told me a few years ago he’d be willing to read Never Let Go for an audio book, but in the busy-ness of life, neither of us made it happen. Then, earlier this year as we started working on Intervention, we talked about doing an audio book, but again, no real momentum. About a month ago, Dan told me to send him a recorder and he’d record it.

I sent the recorder, but honestly, I expected to get the recorder back in a couple of months, empty. Really, it’s just too much to ask. Reading your own words is hard. Reading anything out loud is hard. Reading your own words, out loud, for public production? For pay? Yikes. No way did I think this would happen.

You know where this is going.

Two weeks ago I got the recorder back, filled with Intervention as only Dan could speak it. Realizing we could release the print book, the ebook and the audio book at the same time amped me like crazy, and I went into editing overdrive. Figuring out how to make chapter markers and have audio players remember where the listener left off took another couple of days, and now, today, Dan, a guy who grew up with a lisp, has read an audio book to rave reviews.

I’m pretty sure his reading and our synchronized print, digital and audio release is a first in our field. Now that’s just fun!

Here, listen to Dan as he reads the introductory chapter one.

Sounds just like him, doesn’t it?

If you’d like to have Dan tell you in six hours what he’s learned in 30 years and today thinks is most important about training, order now for immediate download. The file you’ll get contains the audio book, plus the ebook set of the PDF, the Kindle mobi file and the ePub file for use on any or all of your devices, which is also sold separately for $9.99, here.

Click here to order the paperback edition of Intervention, $24.95.

Aside for later: Dan’s pretty pleased with himself, too (don’t tell him I said that) — he had me send him a recorder the other day so he can start recording Never Let Go. And, oh heck! Can’t believe I almost forgot to send you over to kick around Dan’s new site!

Davedraper.com Clearance Sale

We first came online with davedraper.com in 1999, with the idea of setting up a few pages covering Dave’s history and some pictures. One of our gym members was a guy who grew up in LA where David the Gladiator, aka our Davey, entertained him Saturday nights during his freshman year of high school. Kevin kept at me to make a davedraper website, saying people would be looking for Dave online. I’d been online for a few years by then, but barely, because back then, waiting for a page to load took a couple of minutes and I had no patience for it.

Kevin had to nag for a couple of years before I took him seriously and to be honest, even then it was only because I was bored one weekend. Never for a second did I think it would develop into an income selling Draper products, and even less did I foresee publishing becoming a viable option and something that would lead to the terrific projects I’ve gotten to be a part of.

And now, 14 years later, we come to the point where we can’t keep up with both the projects and the order processing. The processing part is moving to a fulfillment company in a couple of weeks to free the time for more publishing fun.

As a part of the process, we’re trimming down our product list. What’s the mean to you? Maybe discounts on products you use!

Here’s where to spot your savings: davedraper.com clearance sale.

Excerpt: Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction

Evan Osar
Excerpted from Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction
From the Introduction, pages 7-16, edited for space

Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction

In his book How the Mighty Fall, author Jim Collins discusses cancer and how it is harder to detect in the early stages but easier to treat, and how it reverses in the advanced stages where it is easier to detect but much harder to treat. A similar analogy can be made about movement patterns—it is much harder to detect the subtleties of compensatory movement in the early stages although easier to correct them, and much easier to detect errors in chronic movement dysfunction when they are much more difficult to change.

What makes movement patterns so challenging to correct in the later stages than in the earlier stages? And what makes our clients’ movement so dysfunctional in the first place? It is important to ask these questions, as they are at the beginning of the journey to understanding the marvels and complexities of the human body, as well as provide a framework for both the correction and education processes that will help a client return to function. Too often clients are told there is nothing that can be done outside of medication or surgery, or worse, that the pain or limitations in movement are all in their heads. Unfortunately, for all the advances in medical technology, there are no fewer incidences of movement dysfunction.

Part of the issue with this disconnect is the fact that there are no medical machines or blood tests to prove movement dysfunction. The best these tests can prove is either there is or there is not pathology within the given region, meaning muscle inhibition cannot be seen in any test based  on medical standards.

Poor stabilization in a single-leg stance does not register in any standardized equipment. However, the manifestations of these poor movement and stabilization strategies can be graphically visualized on a radiograph or MRI image. Osteoarthritis, more accurately described as degenerative joint disease, is just one manifestation of poor movement strategies and is not simply a process of getting older. Non-traumatic labral tears within the shoulder or hip are not the result of poor genetics or hereditary weakness, but rather the result of poor stabilization of the humeral and femoral heads within their respective articulations. Disc bulges and herniations are the result of poor stabilization strategies, leading to either overcompression or instability at or around the area of the disc pathology.

The point is not to discount genetics or hereditary causation, but rather suggest that individuals are more responsible for what happens to their musculoskeletal system than the intangible hereditary factors.

Why do we lose function, particularly stability, range of motion and movement efficiency? While there are multiple causes of these issues, they essentially fall into one of three primary categories: poor neurodevelopment, injuries and learned behaviors.

Lack of optimal neurodevelopment
Dr. Vaclav Vojta, a Czechoslovakian neurologist focusing on the challenges of motor rehabilitation in children, suggested that one-third of children never develop optimal central nervous system function. This often manifests in poor patterning and many of the postural or movement dysfunctions we see in adolescent and adult populations.

Trauma including surgeries, injuries (chronic and acute) and emotions
These factors affect how an individual is able to both stabilize and create efficient movement. Surgery will always lead to muscle inhibition  and alterations  in motor control throughout  the system. Trauma  generally results in a reflexive stiffening of the injured region and subsequent compensatory alterations in the stabilization and movement systems.

Learned behaviors
These are patterns we adopt, based not necessarily on ingrained neurological patterns, but rather on things we learn throughout life. Everything from lifestyle to adapted postures and movement habits learned in childhood, from mimicking what we see to adopting a gripping pattern to appear slimmer has a dramatic effect on our movement patterns. Unfortunately, the very thing we use to improve our movement dysfunction—exercise—is an often-overlooked contributor to altered movement patterns.

For example, many of the exercises we perform are in direct opposition to the functional patterns ingrained in our nervous system. Consider the crawling child where the spine is moved around the fixed limbs. Many of the exercises we perform in the gym, such as barbell squats, barbell rows, biceps curls and bench presses, utilize the trunk and limbs in the exact opposite way they were intended: the trunk is fixed and the limbs move around the fixed trunk.

Notice how the developing child moves his spine around stable extremities—right hip and left shoulder. This develops simultaneous limb stability and spinal mobility. The majority of the exercises we perform with our clients do the exact opposite; they move the extremities around a fixed spine. Often these patterns are performed in a bilateral fashion, which fixates and locks the thorax, creating compensatory hypermobility in the extremities. This is not to suggest that these exercises are bad, but rather point out the long-term effects these exercises have on the mobility of the thorax and stability of the shoulder and hip complexes.

What about exercise cues we often use when instructing our clients? Generally, we cue our clients to ‘tighten the core’ or ‘squeeze the glutes’ or ‘pull the shoulder blades down and back.’ These cues often get the intended response of increased activation of the abdominal wall, glutes and scapular retractors. However, the biggest problem clients have is not in activating prime movers, but in activating the stabilizers, as well as coordinating the timing and efficiency of using these muscles. The result of our exercise cues is increased problems, such as compression syndromes at the spine and hips, as well as stabilization issues of the scapulothoracic region.

Additionally, whether we like to admit it or not, most of us have been influenced by learned behavior. As young children we watch and adopt the postures, mannerisms  and movement patterns of our parents, peers and social influences. Models who are taught to hang off their hips and overly extend through the thoracolumbar junction influence many young girls. Moreover, we are influenced by fashion, including things such as wearing high-heeled shoes, overly supportive athletic shoes, use of orthotics, each of which affects an individual’s stabilization and movement patterns.

Ultimately, these learned behaviors can lead to stiffness and rigidity of the spine and thorax, which in turn leads to common movement impairments including—

  •  compensatory  hypermobility  patterns  at  the  scapulothoracic,  thoracolumbar and  lumbopelvic regions;
  •  reflexive tightness of the glenohumeral and femoroacetabular joints;
  •  altered respiratory mechanics necessitating the increased utilization of the accessory respiratory muscles and further perpetuation of these patterns.

While the medical field is quick to blame genetics and old age, the resultant poor stabilization and movement patterns that result from improper neurological development, trauma and learned behaviors are the most common reasons for the majority of our client’s degenerative conditions, chronic pain and decreases in overall performance.

Our job, as well as our challenge as fitness and health care professionals, is to help clients and patients recognize the intimate relationship between how they move and what happens to their body as a direct result of how they move. Regardless of genetics, trauma, disease, past experiences, thoughts, beliefs and previous learned patterns, we can help our patients and clients create positive changes. This is not to suggest that someone with multiple sclerosis or just having suffered a stroke will ever return to a high level function they had prior to the disease. But it is not up to us to place restrictions or limitations upon them. Our job is to teach and empower them to regain their strength, stability, movement awareness and confidence so they can achieve the highest level of function they are able to given the current state. Empower them to challenge the current level with the faith that the nervous system is capable of so much more than it is often given credit for.

Because so many patients and clients present to medical doctors, chiropractic physicians, physical therapists and fitness professionals with movement dysfunction of the extremities, this book will focus on the hip and shoulder. The focus will be on the functional anatomy and kinesiology, as well as the common movement dysfunctions and corrective strategies for improving function. However, it is difficult, if not impossible, to discuss the hip and shoulder without giving attention to the thoracopelvic core. The thoracopelvic core will be discussed briefly throughout the book, as this region is an overlooked cause of, as well as a solution to, many common hip and shoulder conditions.

This book is designed in three parts to help you make the most of the information presented within. The first part is an introduction to movement and the components of the movement paradigm, including muscles, joints, proprioceptors and fundamental movement patterns. It also addresses some of the underlying problems that are recognized as keys to the development and prevalence of movement dysfunctions.

The second part discusses functional anatomy and kinesiology of the shoulder and hip complexes, including some of the common dysfunctions as well as several concepts that are necessary for improving function of these regions. An assessment of the trunk, hip and shoulders is also included in this section.

The third part will demonstrate the corrective exercise and movement progression based on the principles that were set up in the first two sections of the book. Included in this book are tables that contain both descriptions of the exercises, including setup, alignment, activation strategies and what your client  should  be feeling. Additional  tables  supply  you with clinical keys. All these are designed to provide you with clinically applicable techniques, strategies and ‘aha’ moments to help make the information connect and add even more relevance for you and your patient or client.

Click here to download the Table of Contents pdf, or here to order Corrective Exercise Solutions to Common Hip and Shoulder Dysfunction.

It Starts with Food

by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
Released June 12, 2012, Victory Belt Publishing

The next few weeks will bring a wave of raving reviews of Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s new book, It Starts with Food. The raving is valid—the book is great. It’s a friendly, easy read–at the same time encouraging your inner strength (demanding it, really), and is well-supported by science, including 20 pages of small-type references.

Go ahead, have a look at the Table of Contents (pdf).

Now here’s a bit you might not see in other reviews. While I love a good cookbook, I usually don’t care for recipes in diet or nutrition books. When I hit the point of the recipes in the back—sometimes it’s half the book!—I’m done. If I want a cookbook, I’ll buy a cookbook.

I know the brilliant diet coach Josh Hillis disagrees with me. He wants his clients to buy diet books, partially because he wants them to study other methods enough to learn which of the three fat-loss pillars a diet uses, but more than that, he wants dieters to enjoy the taste of good food. His thinking: A diet of austerity with bare chicken breast over dry greens will never last.

This section is where the Hartwigs take a shift from the norm. The recipe section is short, 24 pages of the 320, and is closer to a cooking lesson than structured recipes. They teach the reader how to think through a recipe, not just blindly follow one. They build a base for the recipes, then help us choose our own ingredients. This isn’t filler; it’s a recipe section we can actually use…how refreshing!

Here’s a sneak peek at the section. They call it the Meal Map.

The sidebars are fabulous, very good additions to the reading material. I have a [minor] criticism, and it’s probably just me, a gal who’s nuts enough not to like photos in books unless they’re needed to demonstrate something unusual or complicated…the only person alive who gets annoyed by the pull quotes that interrupt (er, I mean, break up) a nice magazine text column. Well, here it is: While at first glance the interior text is more creative in appearance with the sidebar material scattered, reading might flow better if larger chunks of the main text were unbroken. See, I told you it was minor. And I was crazy.

Now, if that stupid thing is my only criticism…

Well, heck! I think I’ll take another run at a Whole30, Dallas and Melissa’s food quality jumpstart program. I did it last fall, successfully, but couldn’t tell any difference between the tight diet and my normal 70% version. That seemed like a good reason to go back to the easier diet, but I’m now wondering if I’m more attentive these days and might pick up something I missed the first time through.

I’ll start Monday. Yes, I know that’s cliche. It’s cliche because we’re so acclimated to it that it really works. Whatever, I’ll take the free boost. And anyway, I have an unopened container of cottage cheese, and Dave would never let me through away perfectly good food.

The book was released today. You can join me on a Whole30 program beginning Monday, using their guide above, and if you place your book order now, it’ll be in your hands next week, just in time to get you re-motivated for your ramp-up.

Here’s the Amazon.com link to It Starts with Food so you can get your copy on the way. The Hartwigs also have a nice selection of pdf bonuses, given freely here: Hartwig’s It Starts with Food.

Learn How to Read Fitness and Health Research

I must be the last person alive who should be writing about training or nutrition research, but because of that, I’ve been collecting resources. My daily work involves typesetting, editing, coding or graphics (actually, it’s mostly email), so the studying I do is of software tech manuals. That makes my excuse for science inadequacy better than yours.

I never trained my brain to stay focused when reading about research. This works for me, but for those of you who work with clients and patients on health, fitness and strength issues, you don’t really get that freedom. These days, if you don’t stay aware of the latest science and can’t explain to your clients why you’re using the exercises you choose or how the news media got the latest research wrong, your clients are likely to trust you less. Unless your personality is the most contagious one in the gym, if you continue to let your eyes glaze over when science comes into play, as a personal trainer or strength coach you’re probably going to need a new retirement plan.

Jonathan Fass is working on a research lecture for us on the movementlectures.com site, and I’m sure the topic will get a mention often in future lectures. In the meantime I have a couple of suggestions for you… even as I sit here at my desk practicing audio editing techniques with no science involved at the level I work with the waveforms.

From PubMed: How to Read Health News:

Your first concern should be the research behind the news article. If an article touts a treatment or some aspect of your lifestyle that is supposed to prevent or cause a disease, but doesn’t give any information about the scientific research behind it, then treat it with a lot of caution. The same applies to research that has yet to be published.

From Bret Contreras: Evidence-Based Coaching:

Some types of articles are better than others. A meta-analysis showing strong results or a review paper citing multiple studies leading to the same conclusion would hold a lot of weight. In contrast, an in vitro study or an animal study might not. A specific study that carefully examines the topic at hand is ideal, but many times specific studies are lacking, causing us to extrapolate or piece information together, which isn’t quite as sound of a practice.

From Tim Huntley’s Scientific Research 101: Bad Science, Common Problems in Research Articles:

This problem typically occurs when the results of a study from a specific sample are extrapolated to what is believed to be a similar group.  An example would be research where a new cholesterol drug was tested on females aged 30-50.  Can we, or should we make assumptions on what the drug might do for males or 65 year old women?  Absolutely not.

From Mark Young’s How to Read Fitness Research:


Here’s a tutorial on how to get full text articles for PubMed citations, both free and for a fee.


Bret explains here:


And, of course, like me you can stick your head in the sand, because as Dr. Ferric Fang discovered, researchers doctor papers. Whatever you do, ignore mainstream headlines and double-check the wording. Oh, and be sure to sort out the quality from the flawed studies.

Late addition—Chris Kresser: How to Read and Understand Scientific Research



Which movementlectures.com audio lectures do I like?

Boris Bachmann, the guy who recorded the squat techniques lecture (he’s also the Squat Rx guy from YouTube), asked me the other day, “Are there some sleeper lectures you think are absolutely fantastic that might have gotten overlooked so far? Let me know and I will do some impulse buying.”

Boy that’s a real hard one because for me, I’m more into the talking than the learning, if you know what I mean. So while trainers might really go for one and coaches might really go for another and therapists yet another, I get a kick out of just listening to the talking… Dan John’s (goal setting), Dick Tyler’s (storytelling), Chip Conrad’s Sweet Chant and Lou Shuler’s Hero’s Journey. People like me who like bio stories will enjoy listening to Ric Drasin tell his tale.

Mike Mahler’s discussion of hormone optimization was fabulous (hold on to your wallet — I ended up buying four new supplements to try!), as was Jerry Brainum’s on supplements and Robert Yang’s on gluten. Brooks Kubik’s talk is on training for senior lifters, learning how to plan recovery, real good for some of this crowd. Tom Furman’s was excellent, especially as we get a little older and lose mobility.

Charlie Weingroff’s is a real big learning circle, very nice, and Evan Osar kicks in there on the human movement side as well. I really enjoyed Robb Rogers’ and also Tim Anderson’s; those were both a little different and off the mainstream.. stuff you probably haven’t heard before.

Oh, jeez, I can’t believe Boris got me doing this.

Anybody with trigger point curiosity, Perry Nickelston’s is super; there are a couple lectures on back pain (Eric Beard and Sam Visnic, and Eric also has one on shoulders), and one by Tom Patrick about his journey through back pain and back to golf.

Locked up t-spine? Sue Falsone is her usual wonderful self. Foot pain? Ron Jones has you covered. Wondering if all this fascia science is real, or important? Paul Ingraham dives into that one.

Want to learn something unexpected? Stacy Barrows and Martha Peterson. Need a Gray Cook fix? Self-limiting exercise, plus a discussion with Craig Liebenson and one with Joe Heiler. Lee Burton’s work with the core is unmatched, as is Brett Jones on corrective exercise and strength… short but complete overviews there, then you’d just get to work, right?

Brian Bott works with football players, Brijesh Patel with college athletes. Dave Whitley teaches breathing drills, Jim Schmitz has been coaching O lifting since the ’60s. Chiropractic literally saved Keith Wassung’s life — Keith Norris, Skyler Tanner and Mark Alexander are physical culture slash paleo crusaders; Mark Snow works group and bootcamp trainees using the FMS, and Pat Rigsby knows the business side of bootcamps like nobody else.

Michael Boyle’s talk on fat loss — well, Mike’s just great at everything, really — and Mike Roussell talks fat loss like a lean guy, too.

The Nicks — Winkelman and Tumminello– are superb coaches and know how to teach (the Winkelman talk is pretty cutting-edge, coaches should check that out), ditto Vince McConnell, who talks about privately coaching athletes in season in their sports. Zach EvenEsh is an extremely successful high school athlete coach, and in his lecture he tells how he trains them.

Galina Denzel is a specialist in training pregnant women, and tell us not only how the body changes during pregnancy, but how to train a woman to get her ready for delivery and baby rearing. If you train women, or if you’re pregnant, this one’s a must.

Oh! And there’s this Boris Bachmann guy who really knows squat.

Here’s your link to the Movementlectures.com Full Lecture Listing.


Downloadable Audio Lectures for Exercise and Rehabilitation Professionals & Fitness Enthusiasts

The movementlectures.com site launch last week went super smooth and we didn’t crash the server, not even once! Nearly a year in the making, we now have 45 lectures available for immediate download, ranging from exercise technique to physical rehab, from physical culture to goal setting — there’s something for everyone, and inexpensively, with instant access. There are another 17 lectures nearly ready for publication, and a dozen recorders jetting around the country collecting new material. Which of these is your new favorite lecture?

Boris Bachmann: Squat Talk | Brett Jones: Corrective Exercise Essentials | Brett Jones: Key Concepts in Corrective Exercise | Brett Jones: Strength for Success | Brian Bott: Building a Bulletproof Program | Brian Bott: Training the Trenches, Football | Brijesh Patel: It’s Not All About the Sets and Reps | Brooks Kubik: Strength Training for Older Adults | Charlie Weingroff: Trainable Human System | Chip Conrad: Why On Earth? Excerpts from Our Sweet Chant of Frantic Power | Craig Liebensen and Gray Cook: Dialogue on Function | Dan John: Intervention

Dan John: Goal Setting, Second Millennium, Plus a Decade | Eric Beard: Anatomy of Shoulder Impingement and Beyond | Eric Beard: Understanding Lower Back Pain: Functional Anatomy Interventions and Prevention | Evan Osar: Strategies and Techniques to Improve Human Movement | Gray Cook: Applying the Functional Movement Screen Model | Gray Cook: Self-Limiting Exercise | Jerry Brainum: Supplements: Those that Work vs Those that Don’t | Jim Schmitz: Olympic Style Weightlifting for Strength, Health, Physique, Fitness and Sport

Joe Heiler and Gray Cook: Meaningful Impairments | Keith Norris, Skyler Tanner and Mark Alexander: Paleo Discussion | Keith Wassung: Introduction to Chiropractic | Lee Burton: Core Testing and Assessment | Lou Schuler: Hero’s Journey into Fitness | Mark Snow: Using the FMS in a Group or Bootcamp Setting | Martha Peterson: Relieving Chronic Muscle Pain With Somatic Education | Michael Boyle: Fat Loss Secrets | Mike Mahler: Importance of Optimizing Hormones Naturally | Mike Roussell: 21 Ways to Lose More Weight

Nick Tumminello: Practical Program Design | Nick Winkelman: Coaching Science: Theory into Practice | Pat Rigsby: Boot Camp Financials | Paul Ingraham: Fascia Science: Does it Even Matter? | Perry Nickelston: Triggerpoints for Pain | Ric Drasin: The Golden Years | Robb Rogers: Functional Training vs Performance Training | Robert Yang: Nothing Wholesome in Eating Whole Grains | Ron Jones: Health from the Ground Up: A Practical Guide to Understanding Feet, Ankles and Shoes

Stacy Barrows: Foam Roller Methods for Optimal Posture and Movement Organization | Sue Falsone: Thoracic Spine: The Missing Link to Core Stability | Tim Anderson: Miracle of Crawling | Tom Furman: Ability to Move | Vince McConnell: Role of a Personal Strength Conditioning Coach | Zach EvenEsh: Training and Development of the High School Athlete


Last summer after a conversation about not having enough time to sit comfortably to read or watch training videos, Gray Cook, Lee Burton and I partnered up to build a new audio lecture site, movementlectures.com. Wouldn’t it be nice, we thought, to be able to listen to speakers lecturing on subjects we need to keep current with — just download the files to iPods and laptops for listening on planes, on the road or out for a health walk?

Yes, we decided — that would be nice.

So we called on colleagues to record lectures on topics they’re eager to talk about. Over the course of the last months, we gathered a bunch of recordings, made transcripts and pulled these together into a collection of inexpensive downloadable audio and text files.

And you are about a week from getting a look.

We’ll open with the first 50 lectures; there are another 20 in varying stages of completion that will be rolled out a few a week until finished. At that point, our expectation is one new lecture a week… ongoing. These recordings range in duration from 15 minutes to nearly 3 hours, and span the price scale from $2.95-$20, with most of them being around $5.

With all new websites come glitches, and to offset that we’re going to roll it out slowly over our available outlets. First look will go to those on our Facebook page, so that’s where to head to get in on the ground floor.

Movementlectures.com on Facebook

Functional Movement Improv

by Gray Cook

Human movement is a complex thing. The many systems of the body that assist us in growing, developing and becoming movement-learning machines are a literal miracle by no stretch of the term. Understanding human behavior will never be an exact science whether we look at emotional, social, group dynamic, or human behavior as it relates to movement patterns.

The book I wrote on movement titled Movement is 408 pages, and that’s intimidating. My point with such in-depth work was not to intimidate readers or scare people out of the movement professions. It was to make them consider everything that goes into movement-learning function and dysfunction, and then de-complicate the process with a systematic checklist approach to common movement behaviors and tendencies.

In a previous article on function, I mentioned a new book introduced to me by Mike Boyle called The Checklist Manifesto. This book has a consistent and parallel theme to the other books Why We Make Mistakes and Blunder. It talks about how the more complex a human endeavor becomes and the more technical and skillful a job becomes, the more it’s necessary to rely on a systematic checklist approach for structure and consistency.

I spent the first part of the Movement book talking about the complexity of the human movement learning system and going over some motor learning principles as well as musculoskeletal limitations. But my point, by the time you get to the middle of the book, was to distill these rules and principles down to a movement-based checklist that allows the user to take immediate and consistent action following systems and principles that promote movement change.

In a way, you could say I got real complex in my own paranoid attempt not to leave anything out. In contrast, the functional movement systems should be simple, effective and inexpensive to use so a majority of users can benefit. It can be an effective part of physical education, personal fitness, strength conditioning and rehabilitation in the future.

Since I wrote Movement, it has been my mission to make sure my lectures show a different side of functional movement systems. Where the book seems very in-depth and technical, I want my lectures to demonstrate the logic and consistency of following a system when we develop exercise programs or try to change or improve the way people move.

As I’ve said before, the purpose of the movement screen is not to legislate or enforce movement perfection. It is to make us all agree that there must be a tipping point, a point of minimal functional competency. Anything below this level will probably require a different technology than simple conditioning if movement is to improve.

Therefore, I went on a journey and shared my idea with Lee Burton, my business partner, and Chris Poirier of Perform Better, the key sponsor for the majority of our Functional Movement Screen workshops. We devised the idea of a pre-conference symposium at the three Perform Better summits in 2011—Rhode Island, Chicago and Long Beach.

In a nutshell, this was our idea: We wanted to do a quick overview of the system for people who were both certified in the movement screen or just learning about it, and then pull people from the audience and have them screened right there. From this, we took their data and put these on a score sheet. We then projected each score sheet onto the screen for everyone to see, and then we discussed programing for the individual while considering their movement screen alongside the other information they provided. For those who were unable to attend the events, we turned the cameras on… and did not turn them off. We knew we would have some great spontaneous examples, and we captured the whole thing.

The reason I call this Functional Movement Improv is because we felt like an improvisational comedian who takes a topic and immediately spins it into a funny skit. We attempted to create a training program for an individual from a screen and a few questions. This was ambitious to say the least, because we were not creating programs for just any client or athlete. We were challenging the current programs of fitness, performance and rehabilitation professionals. To put it a different way, we were programming the pros. Our secret weapon: The movement screen.

Each time someone from our audience came to the stage, the new program was constructed following a movement-based checklist. The rules of movement are simple and easy to follow, but cannot be overlooked. Each time we did this, the people onstage learned they should be doing something they currently were not doing. They also learned they should not be doing something they currently were doing.

Our point in the drill was if we can improve the programming of exercise professionals with a 10-minute movement profile, imagine what you can do for your clients, athletes and patients with the extra information.

Assisting me at each Summit were some of our functional movement screening instructors, along with our functional movement staff. On the last two events including the Summit in Long Beach, I had my long-term co-pilot, Brett Jones, helping me.

Certainly without exception, every person who was screened who then came onstage to have the screen exposed to the world learned something they did not already know about movement, and discovered something to add or subtract from their exercise programs.

The attendees for this Summit were some of the best of the best trainers, strength coaches and rehabilitation professionals I’ve met. They had done their homework and knew their stuff. They were also a surprisingly fit group of people who not only taught and learned training, but lived it as well.

My source of pride here is that our little system introduced these people to holes, inconsistencies and insights into their own programming. The point of the drill was not to demonstrate that I’m a good exercise programmer, because I didn’t do anything that wasn’t already exposed as simple movement logic in the Movement book. I followed my own 10 principles and basically questioned them about movement patterns they were or were not doing in their exercise programming.

When the movement screen showed us a dysfunction, we questioned any conditioning exercise pushing against that dysfunction. When the movement screen showed the need for a correction, we introduced corrective strategy. If the movement screen did not find dysfunction in a pattern, we didn’t find a problem with conditioning that pattern.

In a very improvisational open format, we turned exercise program design into a systematic process—not simply based on a person’s goals, available equipment or my background or preference of exercise. We turned it into a process that started with the individual’s own unique signature or thumbprint of movement.

People learn faster when we figure out the way they like to learn. Some are introverts. Some are extroverts. Some want to learn in auditory format. Some are kinesthetic learners. Some need to read, practice and then read again.

If we know the way someone learns, we can design learning systems that address their needs in a more efficient manner. Taking a movement profile does the same thing for physical movement.

Watch the following excerpts from this four-hour presentation where we built a case for movement screening, demonstrated how efficient the model can be, and then closed the day by revisiting the principles that allowed us, all from different exercise and rehabilitation backgrounds, to find common ground in a movement profile.

I hope you enjoy! ~Gray Cook





Click here to review the details of the 4-disc DVD set, or place an order.

Dr. Craig Liebenson’s New DVD Series

Stop Chasing Pain Review of Dr. Craig Liebenson’s New DVD Series
Perry Nickelston, DC, FMS, SFMA

Dr. Craig Liebenson is an icon in the world of chiropractic and rehabilitation. He is a pioneer in the field of understanding movement dysfunction and corrective exercise strategies to alleviate pain. His primary mission is to help people and restore their quality of life. He is a true giver in every sense of the word by teaching, sharing, and educating clinicians on his techniques. Needless to say, I really, really like the guy! Lol He is not only a trusted mentor, but a dear friend as well who has been an inspiration in helping me become a better doctor. It is my honor and privilege to review his latest contribution to the world. An impressive 3-Disc DVD Series which includes:

1. Functional Performance Training DVD

2. Core Stability Training DVD

3. Flexibility, Yoga Training and Ergonomic Postural Advice DVD

Triple Threat of Knowledge

I see people suffering in pain everyday at my Pain Laser Center. They are searching for answers. Searching for hope. Searching for an alternative to traditional therapies that are grossly inadequate. They come to me for help. By learning from experts like Dr. Liebenson I am able to provide my clients with a system that is based on sound principles that deliver maximum results. This DVD collection has been an invaluable asset in my goal of teaching clients how to move better to feel better. It’s all in how you move!

Dr. Liebenson’s DVD series is high quality with easy to follow exercise selections. There are clear camera angles with ideal distance for optimal learning. The audio is impeccable since Dr. Liebenson has chosen to voice over the videos by adding an audio track separately. This makes his explanations and instructions easy to follow and understand. So many DVD’s are published on the market that have low quality sound and bad camera angles. Not these DVD’s. No expense spared here.

The Chapter selections are easy to navigate and are divided into subsections so you can select a specific exercise you want to do. The overlay music is relaxing and smoothing. Not a distraction at all. Very easy to remain focused on the exercise and what Dr. Liebenson is saying. You have the option of purchasing the videos individually or as a set, which I highly recommend. They complement each other nicely and the levels of learning are integrated so you can continue from one DVD to the other.

Dr. Liebenson builds a solid fundamental foundation of movement and expands exercises in difficulty and challenge level based on your individual needs. Exercises are broken down into easier options for the novice and more challenging exercises for athletes or advanced users.

Functional Performance Training DVD

This DVD helps to re-educate your body. Dr. Liebenson reviews exercise basics and fundamentals so you can ‘own’ the movements. The section on ABC’s of Long Term Athletic Development was very enlightening. You learn principles of pushing, pulling, rotations and reaching as they relate to movement.

The end of the DVD covers Advanced Performance Training, agility and plyometrics (which can be very difficult to master unless you have a skilled coach like Dr. Liebenson). He also has an informative section on speed development which is built on functional power. Overall an excellent DVD to get you primed for functional movement training.

Core Stability Training DVD

This DVD is jam packed with awesome information. There is so much here to learn regarding the true techniques of core training. Core training is a popular buzzword now in the weight loss and fitness industry. Due to that popularity there inherently arrives a plethora of misinformation. Dr. Liebenson sets the record straight on the truth about Core Training.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first section on ‘Health Club Tips’ teaching you how to perform popular machine based training correctly. My pain relief clinics are located inside fitness centers and I constantly see people doing gym equipment exercises wrong. They are setting themselves up for injury and are not maximizing movement for metabolic fat burning.

Dr. Liebenson covers ‘Abdominal Bracing’ which is a SECRET WEAPON to core stability and injury recovery. This section teaches my all time favorite movement, ‘The Dead Bug.” You have to see it and then you will know what I mean! There are sections devoted to quadraped patterns, side bridges, The Superman, hamstring curls and bridges, and the McGill Abdominal Curl Up.

Section 6 on the Dying Bug is worth the entire price of the DVD in my opinion. This exercise alone can transform your body. Plus it’s the coolest name ever. Lol Section 14 is on the Shoulder/Upper Back Training which is critical to muscle balance and alleviating common pain complaints in the head and trapezius region. The ending track has a good example of a fully functional core routine that you can perform. It teaches you the thought process behind designing your own program.

Flexibility, Yoga Training and Ergonomic Postural Advice DVD

Besides having a really cool title, this DVD integrates many strategies for overall body balance. The Yoga and Respiration section is priceless in teaching proper breathing for a fundamentally optimized core. You learn assessments and techniques for maximizing diaphragmatic breathing required for relaxation and core control. Ergonomics sections demonstrate little tricks you can do at work for alleviating tension and soreness. There is an extensive section on learning to hinge with your hips for stability and reducing the risk of lower back injury.

Balance tactics are covered in detail to ensure proper stability and asymmetry from one side of the body to the other. You will find this section rather challenging. However, implementing balance training can make fast improvements in how you feel and move. Get more active with a Dynamic Warmup section showing you various ways to get your heart pumping and body moving.

The Brugger Postural Correction exercise is a gem. Stretching and mid-back postural corrections are included since this is a common area for abnormal postural referred pain. The DVD ends with another complete sample core functional routine that helps tie everything together.

The short and sweet of it is, this series is a MUST HAVE! Investing in yourself and your education is a win-win combination. Dr. Liebenson is sharing techniques learned in the trenches over the course of his distinguished career and these exercises are selected because THEY WORK! When it comes to corrective and functional exercise more is not better, better is better! It’s about precision of movement and quality over quantity. When you move better, you feel better.

This DVD series will teach you how to move better, without the risk of getting hurt. These are not your traditional hum drum boring exercises you have seen before. These are unique and effective. You will notice a positive change in your body with this program. Stay focused and don’t get discouraged. It takes time to master movements. But when you do, oh my you will feel incredible. That is a good thing! What are you waiting for? Click below to purchase them on AMAZON.


A heartfelt and personal thank you to Dr. Liebenson for sharing his DVD’s with me. Amazing piece of work my friend, and keep it coming!

Perry Nickelston
Stop Chasing Pain

Digital Book Selling

Now that all of our books are on Amazon and Barnes & Noble as ebooks — other than Stella’s Kitchen, which has too much formatting to work on a simple e-reader — I got to thinking: Why not offer all formats for the same price? Why make a person buy twice just because they want to read on a different device? That would be like making a person buy two copies of a print book because they want to read at home and also on the train. Makes no sense, right?

So that’s what we did. When you buy an ebook from our sites (davedraper.com or otpbooks.com), you’ll get an immediate download link to a ZIP file that contains all the available formats, usually meaning PDF, Kindle and Epub. Regular users have the convenience of ordering on Amazon.com or BN.com for instant access on their devices, but the tech savvy who want to read on multiple devices or the person who just wants the PDF to read or print off the computer can get the full package for the same price as a single format as found on the Kindle or Nook sites. Amazon and Barnes & Noble have a reason to protect their territory, but our interests are the opposite. Let’s read these books however we want to!

I haven’t made my way through the Apple iBook, Google Books or Kobo seller sign-up mazes yet, but those sites all use the Epub format, so you’ll be able to drag those files over to your iPad or email them to your phone if you want a headstart. Setting up publisher accounts with the various resellers is a struggle, and honestly, not worth it other than to support individual readers. Financially, our On Target experience anyway, Kindle outsells Nook about 50 to one, and the other players are farther behind if the rumors are true. Still, while as a customer I appreciate Amazon, as a publisher I want to support the other distributors and will finish the seller applications and uploads. You’d think they’d try to make it a little easier on us if they actually want more books, though. Just saying.

Now we come to the part where you go take a look at what I’m talking about. Here’s our downloadable books page at On Target, and here’s the downloadable page at Davedraper.com. And, of course, these great books are all available on Amazon.com or BN.com as well: Advances in Functional Training, Bill Pearl & Dave Draper: A Conversation, Mass Made Simple, Movement: Functional Movement Systems, Never Let Go, West Coast Bodybuilding Scene, Your Body Revival, Brother Iron Sister Steel, Iron On My Mind, To Grad from Dad.

If you have thoughts on digital book selling, let’s have a conversation. What a fascinating time to be a publisher… or a writer… or a reader.

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