A1: Focus on maintaining a neutral pelvis throughout. Take a moment to reset between each rep and make sure you're avoiding hyperextension. Think about reaching for the walls. Rest for 30 sec before A2.
A2: Make these phasic; each rep should be a shift into posterior-pelvic tilt, a bridge into hip extension, the eccentric back to the floor, then shifting into anterior pelvic tilt. Take these very slow and controlled and aim to practice mastering the pelvic movement. Rest 60 sec before returning to A1.
B1: Get a full ROM and take your time with the tempo. Protract your scaps at the top of each rep. Try to execute these in order to get the best pump in the pecs possible. No rest before B2.
B2: Use load that would be your ~20RM for a normal set of presses. Instead of performing dynamic reps, allow the load to stretch the pecs carefully. Try not to push against the load during these and keep your sternum elevated with scaps retracted. It's going to be excruciating if done right but make sure to not force it! Try to make the full time. Full rest before returning to B1.
C1: Use light to moderate load. Sink into each rep and get as deep into the ROM as possible. These are meant to be done for mobility rather than overload so pay close attention to positioning throughout. Rest 30 sec before C2.
C2: Keep elbows extended. These are meant to be a very small ROM and train the smaller scapular stabilizers. Think about allowing full elevation/stretch at the top of the rep (try and touch your shoulders to your ears) and then drive your scaps down forcefully without pulling with your arms. Keep the tempo slow. Rest 30 sec before C3.
C3: These should be LIGHT and strictly for mobility. Note the tempo and adhere closely to it. Elevate each foot by 12-18 inches and use a KB for these if possible. The goal is to get full flexion and extension of the spine. Think about slowly rounding your spine from neck to hips one vertebra at a time on the eccentric then repeat the process on the concentric. Do your best to relax the glutes and hamstrings and don't allow them to be prime movers. Full rest before returning to C1.
D1: Use upper body assistance if needed. The goal here is to externally rotate and abduct the hips while keeping the pelvis and shoulders square. You should be holding an "RDL position: of hip flexion. Take the tempo very slow and keep the knee of the working leg slightly bent. Rest 30 sec before D2.
D2: Note the tempo. These can be done with any attachment but a rope, strap or long individual handles are recommended. Perform them standing here and focus on maintaining full body rigidity during the sets. Pull into your upper chest and try to get full scapular movement. Rest 30 sec before D3.
D3: Note the tempo. Focus on keeping the load lighter and get full lumbar flexion and extension while keeping the hips static. These might feel a bit odd at first but note that the intent is NOT to train your abs; it's to move your spine freely! Full rest before returning to D1.
Goals Of This Session:
The aim here is going to be equal parts recovery from prior overloading sessions and getting the body unbound from developed compensations. We want the structures and tissues to work as they were intended by incorporating neglected or overlooked patterns.
-5-10 minutes of steady state cardio such as incline walking, elliptical, rowing, or ski erg
-Soft tissue manipulation in the form of 8-10 min of light foam rolling the mid-back, hamstrings, quads, glutes and teres major. More specific work can be done using a small lacrosse ball (or something similar) and working through bound up tissue in the pecs, calves, and scapular region. More diligence should be placed in this ares compared to traditional sessions.
-No need for specific mobility work in the warm-up here but deliberate activation work can be added in on an as needed bases for muscles that are lagging or struggling to contract at full strength.
Common Exercise Modifications:
Alternating Deadbugs- Deadbug Holds, Banded Deadbug Holds, Offset Load Deadbugs
Glute Bridge with Pelvic Tilt- Supine Pelvic Tilting, Feet Elevated Glute Bridge, Feet Elevated Hip Thrusts
Pushups- Machine Chest Pres, Pec Deck, Cable Flyes
Flat DB Pec Stretch- Deficit Pushup Stretch, Single Arm Pec Stretch (Against Door Frame or Post), Flat DB Isohold (in mid position of rep)
Goblet Cossack Squats- Assisted Alternating Cossack Squats, Lateral Lunges, Machine Adductions,
Wide Pronated Scap Depressions- Wide Pronated Partial Pulldowns, Wide Pronated Scap Depressions (on Pull-ups or Rack Pull-Ups), Wide Neutral Scap Depressions
Jefferson Curls- Swiss Ball Low Back Hyperextensions, Low Back 45º Hyperextensions, CatCows
Hip Airplanes- Single Leg Braced DB RDLs, Side Lying Hip Raises, Quadruped Fire-Hydrants
Cable Facepulls- Kneeling Band Facepulls, Bent Over DB Facepulls, Band Cuban Presses
Kneeling Cable Crunches- Swiss Ball Crunches, Extended ROM Crunches (on bench), Feet Elevated Crunches
Common Program Modifications:
Advanced trainees- Keep the program as is
Intermediate trainees- Keep the program as is if possible. Potentially sub out C3 for Swiss Ball Low Back Hyperextensions.
Beginner trainees- Perform only TWO sets of all sequences. A1 should be Deadbug Holds for 2x30 sec. B2 should be a manual single arm pec stretch for 20-30 sec each. C1 should be Assisted Cossack Squats. C3 should be CatCows for 2x10. D1 should be Quadruped Fire-Hydrants for 2x10 forwards and backwards. The intensity should be VERY low here and focused more on unloaded, free movement versus incorporating the strength element.
Male trainees- Keep the same.
Female trainees- The B sequence may need to be modified for those with breast augmentations. In this case, revert to a light blood flow movement for B1 followed by static stretching OR banded over-and-backs for B2.
Common Injury Modifications:
Shoulders- Some shoulder issues could be exacerbated by the pushup->pec stretch combo. In this case, it would be recommended to adjust to a comfortable sequence that allows for directed metabolic stress into the pecs followed by a lengthening of the pecs. Luckily, the effect can be accomplished through multiple avenues so this should be relatively easy to work around.
Hips- Cossack squats and the hip airplanes are going to put a ton of stress on the hip joints. The purpose of those movements is to test the limits of mobility in different planes of hip movement (adduction and abduction, respectively) but there will be pre-existing injuries that negate the benefits of these variations. The immediate recommendation is to unload each pattern and focus exclusively on achieving the upper bounds of your ROM without causing additional harm. If it is more of an exercise-specific issue, modify the movements as needed to continue to adhere to the stated intents.
Low Back- Jefferson curls are an advanced movement and NOT for everyone. Trainees with prior low back (or any other injury related to spinal movement) should immediately pivot to another variation. The mechanism of pain will determine the proper choice for modification but CatCows are a solid start to get controlled spinal flexion and extension while removing the load component.
I like to think of mobility as being able to express strength in a given range-of-motion.
Therefore, it is not enough to just be flexible (which I define as being able to achieve a given range-of-motion).
We must be able to own each position that we are working within.
Unfortunately, we all grew up with the indoctrination that static stretching is the way to go if you want to have a more limber, healthy and athletic body. The premise was sound but what was missing was the understanding of what we should've actually been aiming for.
How much time have you spent reaching for your toes? Or pulling your heel to your butt?
What was this intended to solve? Increase range of motion? Blunt some pain response? Loosen up tight tissue?
And did the static stretching actually help anything?
I know that's an overload of questions but the goal is to make you think beyond what the consensus parrots. We should be looking to move beyond the archaic dogmas—to stop spinning our wheels aimlessly with methods that are enticing because of their mindlessness.
The solution to most problems is to just get stronger, and this is no different. We can utilize specific movement patterns and novel variations to not only achieve targeted ranges-of-motion but also reduce neural inhibition, build strength and unlock those positions for future productive work.