The gym movement folks have been causing a bit of a stir lately and several people have asked me my thoughts on it. In the spirit of “question everything” that is being put forth from these folks, I’m making some of those thoughts public.
By the way, I fully expect a bunch of y’all to unsubscribe from my newsletter list and unfriend me on the facebook as a result of this, so if you feel compelled to do so, have at it. I also must say that it is awesome and unexplainable that Josh is making progress with his tourette’s. Something he is doing is allowing him to regain control of his nervous system that he thought he’d lost and that is fantastic for him. Having said that……
Let me begin by saying that the idea of biofeedback and paying attention to the body’s reaction to stimuli is good. I don’t have the time or energy to go into all of them, but some of the methods I am seeing are cause for concern to me. Some are misleading. Some are silly. Some are just dangerous.
PR Every Day
I admit, it’s catchy. In most people’s mind “PR” is short for “personal record” and is synonymous with “all time best ever”, regardless of how you measure it. Is it possible to have your “all time best ever performance” every day, day after day, forever and ever? No. So what to do?
Simple: invent your own definition. Maybe a better (less misleading) catchphrase would be “progress everyday”, but that’s not nearly as awesome sounding. And how do you measure “progress”? The public has been encouraged to “try it out for yourself and see”. So I did.
In March, I read all the info and decided to see what the fuss was about. So for 2 weeks, or a total of 11 workouts, I tested my toe touch after movements and between sets. There was literally NO discernable change for me. A loose toe touch for me ends with my knuckles scraping the ground. Every time. It never lessened. It never got deeper unless I deliberately stretched rather than “stopping at the first sign of tension.” I also didn’t make progress….at all. I even slid backwards in some areas, most notably endurance in 32kg snatching. No biggie. It didn’t work for me and I resumed my normal training, which DOES work for me.
In the interest of drawing a meaningful comparison, I went back thru my training journal for 2 months (Dec and Jan) and was able, by manipulating my metric or method of measurement, to find an improvement in literally every single workout either in terms of intensity, density, volume or movement quality. All without a single toe touch.
What were the metrics?
Intensity-amount of weight/resistance being used. “How heavy is it?”
Volume- total amount of weight/resistance in a single session. “How much did you do?”
Density- Amount of time spent in activity. “How long did it take?”
Movement quality- Form or integrity of the skill executed. Without a tool like the Functional Movement Screen, this is very tough to measure, very subjective. “How did it feel?”
Science involves measurement of as few variables as possible. If you change your metric every time you measure you’ll be able to find progress somewhere. However, changing measurements to support a predicted outcome is the opposite of true science.
Baseline measurement with a toe touch, shoulder flexion, etc.
The only way I can think of to accurately measure this is to video and measure the joint angles in motion. Otherwise it is all by “feel”, which is fine, and it will probably work for a while, but it ain’t science, and it certainly cannot in good conscious be caled the “most technologically advanced and effective training system on the market”.
Using a method that goes by feel (stopping “at the first sign of tension” is testing a feeling) assumes that the body will always tell the truth and never lie. The problem with that is that the body neither tells truth nor lie, the body simply IS. Marinate on that for a moment.
The conscious mind INTERPRETS the feedback from the body, and the conscious mind is influenced by a lot of factors. If I really like doing deadlifts, then the deadlift will probably “test” well.
If you only perform movements that “test” well, you’ll only do what you are already good at doing. Sure, there can be some carryover, but if you want to get better at doing pull-ups, you are going to have to do pull-ups at some point. More importantly though, if you only do what feels good, you’ll never address asymmetries or imbalances in your movement patterns, which will ultimately lead to injury.
My belief is that the progress that is being seen by the people following the movement protocol is simply a result of paying more attention to rest/recovery and a placebo effect, along with changing variables in the measurement process. There’s nothing wrong with this, if you need to look from a different angle to find the little bits of progress each day, then that’s fine. It’s just not scientific and it certainly isn’t a true Personal Record. Then again “progress every day, depending on if you measure it the right way” isn’t much of a marketing catchphrase, is it?
OK, on the physical side there may or may not be a useful training tip. On the nutrition side is where the whole thing falls apart.
Perform the toe touch “test” (I use parentheses because as we covered previously, testing a feeling is too subjective to be a true test.)Hold an ingestible item and perform the toe touch again and if the ROM decreases, your body doesn’t want you to consume it. If the ROM increases, then it does. And if your body wants you to consume it, your body must need it, right? And if you need it, it has to be good for you. Let’s carry this to its logical conclusion.
Shall we perform this test with a heroin addict going through withdrawal? Does the junkies’ body “need” the heroin? Yes, this is why going cold turkey from heroin can be deadly. Is it nutritious or good for them?
How about with an alcoholic who is shaking from detox? Are they gonna test well for booze? If they do, does this mean it is good for them? Are they moving forward in any direction toward their sobriety?
The nutritional aspect of gym movement would seem ridiculous if it weren’t so dangerous. Seriously, put butter in your pocket and it will improve your exercise performance? Even if you NEED the nutrients in the butter, you must first ingest it.
If anyone wants to dispute me on this, I have devised a test that will prove it is utter bovine scatology. I won’t disclose all the details of it, but I will say this: it is 100% a test of the testing method I saw on the DVD. Can you perform your own test? Will your body tell you the truth? If I do a double blind test with water and bleach, are you willing to consume Clorox if you test positive for it?
Here is my open challenge to ANYONE in the gym movement organization, from the DVD customer all the way up the chain to Josh, Adam and Frankie: You travel to Nashville and I will take about 20 minutes to put you through my test. If you win, I’ll pay you $500 cash. If I win, you must publicly admit the system is hogwash and mow my grass.
If your “movement” is all you say it is, it should be easy money for you. Don’t hate mail me, if I get an email from you or see a post anywhere about me and and it contains anything other than a date and time for your arrival, I’ll consider it a concession of defeat. It’s time to put up or shut up.