Monday, January 16, 2017

The Basics

I started this journey in October and have accumulated more than 50 sessions of strength and mobility. The first thing I am learning is that it is going to take a long time to get the basics right. My mobility and flexibility are terrible right now (the difference is flexibility is passive, mobility requires strength through a range of motion). For example, I cannot squat down without lifting my heels off the ground, which means I cannot do an ass to grass squat without compromising form. So, I have to get the basics done first. This is very disheartening because it takes a long time for connective tissue to adapt -- many months. But, it only strengthens my resolve to do this right. The last thing I need is a back injury from squatting with bad form.

Interestingly, my bench press is better than my squat right now. I would assume that has a lot to do with mobility related issues in my legs, likely also contributing to my overuse injuries running.  As I work on mobility, I think I'll dial back the strength component and work in lower weight so I can work on form and a complete range of motion. For a day-to-day structure, I that covers all the different movements, I really like Coach Dos' book Men's Health Power Training.

Here are a few mobility things I like to do:


  1. AJ: OK, I can't help but ask this question. Why does it matter that you do an ass to grass squat? That isn't a very natural motion as I see it. The more natural motion is running. I think running is not being given enough credit here. It takes a TON of strength to complete a 100-miler. You are an accomplished runner and have had a nice couple of years. Give yourself some credit--you are very fit. Can we all get better? Yes. But I think you are supremely fit and I am wondering what an ass to grass squat can bring to the table. Help me understand, if you're so inclined.

  2. Wyatt - fair question. The answer has more to do with mobility than anything else. There are multiple squat techniques and which one is best for you depends on your goals. However, the human body is designed for a particular range of motion. And our strength is highest when everything works properly, regardless of where you plan to apply that strength. My issues, like most overuse injuries, are at least partly related to poor mobility and engaging the wrong muscles in the wrong sequence, aka compensation. So, an ass to grass squat is the most superior in my opinion to get full range of motion and because it is the most athletic position. It is the best for me because it addresses my weaknesses, which is what I am aiming to work on in the gym.

    I have nothing against running and am not declaring war on it. But, I have felt certain niggles, injuries, and imbalances the last few years that aren't getting better by pounding miles. The repetitive motion without addressing the underlying issues is a problem and frankly has made running borderline not fun. I actually believe I am quite strong, but my lack of mobility is not allowing that strength to be unleashed athletically, if that makes sense. Sitting at a desk all day doesn't help.