Over the next 20 years, this is what I’ve continued to do in a variety of ways. I’ve run, cycled, Yoga’d, Pilates’d, I’ve lifted heavy for low reps, I’ve lifted light for lots of reps, I’ve lifted Bodyweight, Dumbells, Kettlebell, Sandbags, Rock, Logs and other people.
And do you know what I’ve found to work the best?
All of them.
I’ve tried specialising on numerous occasions, marathon training, Powerlifting style training, bodybuilding training and more recently Kettlebell Sport training. Each time I did, my martial arts ability dropped which created a problem, strength and conditioning is supposed to make be better, not worse, at other things.
So, when I create programs, such the WMD training method used on the Boot Camp (still editing the book……), I use a blend of all the listed methods. In my regular classes I utilise two or three methods per class so over the course of a few weeks each gets some attention. And it works, but I never really figured out why. Most of the stuff I read comes from coaches who specialise, but why was it never working for me, which meant I couldn’t make it work for my clients. Why did I have to spend so much time and effort coming up with a style of training that has become known by some of my guys as “WGMA Style”? It would have been much easier just to copy stuff, like I did at school. Since becoming Coach I’ve really had to engage the brain!
And then today, while drinking coffee and browsing Facebook, I stumble, almost by accident on the following article:
Bookmark it, read it and read it again. It is that important.
Da Vinci's understanding of the body was way ahead of it's time
It comes from a bloke named Thomas Myers, a guy with a brain the size of a planet. He wrote the book Anatomy Trains which turned much of modern hands on therapy and training on its head. I first heard of him through a friend of mine, top Rolfing practitioner Tony Walsh. Tony presented here at Wild Geese a while ago and introduced us to the idea of fascia, the fascial network and some of the methods of keeping it healthy. This lead to me doing a load more reading, often way above my meagre IQ level.
Then this article from the man himself appears and it all starts to make sense.
He says: Finding #1:Specific training can enhance the fascial elasticity essential to systemic resilience. The basic news is that connective tissue—even dense tissues like tendons and aponeuroses—is much more significantly elastic than previously thought. The second essential part of that news is that fascial elasticity is stored and returned very quickly. In other words, it is more like a superball than a Nerf™ ball. Thus, fascial elasticity is a factor only when the motion is cyclic and quickly repeated, as in running, walking or bouncing, but not as in bicycling, in which the repetitive cycle is far too slow to take
Tony Walsh told me, after I’d introduced him to the kettlebell, that he had come to the conclusion that the classic lifts (Clean, Snatch and Jerk) were perhaps the most efficient way to strengthen the facial network.
Finding #2: The fascial system responds better to variation than to a repetitive program
Whole-Body Movements. Engaging long myofascial chains and whole-body movements is the better way to train the fascial
The Sandbag Halo drill, real full body training
system. This is true in the wider sense also, not just in terms of fascial strength. Isolation exercises should only be used in a rehabilitation setting, or for physique purposes.
Proximal Initiation. It’s best to start movements with a dynamic pre-stretch (distal extension) but accompany this with a proximal initiation in the desired direction, letting the more distal parts of the body follow in sequence, like an elastic pendulum.
In the martial arts we are told “to move left, first move right, to move up, first move down….” this activates the stretch reflex which largely a function of the fascial network. Even in things like the Deadlift this is applicable, watch Andy Bolton, he sets himself up, then bounces the hips up and down, once, twice and on the third he powers the bar off the floor. He’s the first man to deadlift over 1000lb, so he knows a thing or two! Is his pre lift routine an idle habit or has he instinctively figured out Proximal Initiation?
Adaptive Movement. Complex movement requiring adaptation, like parkour (see the beginning of the James Bond movie Casino Royale for a great example), beats repetitive exercise programs. Parkour is nothing new, Georges Herbert was doing it decades ago, but there is also circuit training, which, more recently has become called “Crossfit” and has become ma