Phase One and You

In a recent article on Breaking Muscle I outlined Phase One of training and gave some examples as to what a sample session might look like. The thing about Phase One is everyone feels too good, too advanced, too something to allow themselves to go back and do it.

Like with most training people aren’t everything they think they are. They’re not SEAL/ astronaut/ ninjas. They’re forty-something year olds who haven’t done anything active since high school over half heir life ago. And even if they have done something active there’s a fair chance they weren’t really doing it at a high level. Like the people who tell me they’re martial artists. But they train twice a week – sometimes – can’t touch their toes and are overweight. But in their heads they’re the love child of Royce Gracie and Bruce Lee.

The thing is that most people have very black and white ideas about training. They think, for instance, that the FMS is corrective only. No, the screen identifies issues, the corrective work addresses them, but then we segue into performance work. The final correction of the ASLR series (which test active hip flexion and extension) is the deadlift – hardly what most people have in mind when they think “corrective”. And, taken a step further, if we wish to go from slow strength to speed and power production the logical extension of that is the swing.

And that’s the problem – because people don’t understand the extent and range of what these concepts entail they immediately shun them. It’s not helped by most trainers not having much of a clue either. Like those who do RKC and feel that all they learned was some stuff about kettlebells. But like with the secret hidden gems in the FMS system what they really learned was all about sound lifting mechanics, principles of movement and strength production and all those skills are transferable to any type of lifting as well as all sporting actions.

Returning to Phase One isn’t punishment or being overly cautious either. A good friend of mine, Corey Howard, sent me a message today saying how after reading Phase One he went out and crawled for time and has woken up today with the front panel of his body lit up as well as his delts and traps. If that’s what happens to a guy who is in killer shape already gets from Phase One training, what’s stopping you?

The benefits of Phase One are simple – adding athleticism and shoring up weaknesses. Phase One is movement in all directions but often on the floor using quadruped movements and includes rolling of various types. It is animal movements done both fast and slow as well as static holds. Outside the gym it is easy endurance work – hiking and easy runs and rides are usually the easiest ways for people to get this. At RPT we actually have a Sunday session with our clients who are getting ready for the Melbourne Super that is 9+km of walking and running.

One of the most important things about the easy runs is the way they help rebuild the body. Remember, that the aerobic system is the thing that makes sure your immune system is strong, allows you to be a more effective fat burning machine (again highlighting how training for performance will give you aesthetic benefits incidentally) and helps you recover between hard efforts within a session. So having clients now adding in some longer aerobic work it’s interesting to see how their bodies are changing from that one simple addition. Not to mention that learning to continue despite hardship is a valuable lesson from longer sessions. In the gym it’s easy to do ten reps in twenty seconds, feel a bit out of breath and stop. When you’re faced with an enormous steep hill though you just have to keep going and deal with the discomfort. I personally believe that being able to dig in and persevere is an important skill in life, just as much as it is athletically.

So don’t feel like you’re too good for Phase One. If you have any asymmetries or weakness that needs addressing it’s for you. If you need to build base endurance it’s for you. If you need some actual athleticism – such as being able to do cartwheels and turn or step in multiple planes – then it’s for you. It’s even for you if you need to build some mental strength.