Friday, July 18, 2014

Lateralizations and Regressions: Product Review

I have spoken in the past about people in the industry who have inspired me in my training and coaching. Near the top of that list is Charlie Weingroff. He recently released a DVD series called Lateralizations and Regressions

Charlie's first DVD set furthered my knowledge of a lot of concepts that I still use (FMS, joint by joint, core pendulum theory etc.) Because I knew this new resource would be full of good material I watched the whole set (all 13 hours) with pen and paper in hand and took lots of notes.

For today's post I have taken those notes and compiled a list of what I found to be important or interesting takeaways. Because this encompasses many topics this will be less of a coherent article and just a series of bullet points that I found interesting. If any of these topics interest you drop a comment in the box and I'll try to expand on them in my next post. Thanks

- We often discuss fitness and optimal means of achieving it but rarely define what "fitness" is. Lateralizations and Regressions defines it as becoming resilient to stress. I love this definition because it allows for fitness to be flexible depending on the needs of the individual being trained. We all encounter different stressors and therefore we all have different fitness needs.

- General fitness is a part of any good rehab program. Aerobic conditioning decreases sympathetic tone. Someone who is sympathetically overtrained will not respond well to more aggressive manual therapy techniques. This is actually something I heard a few months ago from Patrick Ward but it was reiterated here. FMS is a system for pointing us in the right direction as to how we can safely accomplish that general fitness. Using heart rate variability or other less advanced methods of athlete tracking can tell us if we are using appropriate intensities.

- Exercises should make you move better or make you faster/stronger. Otherwise it's a warmup or a waste of time. This thought runs through my mind now every time I design exercise programs.

- Sometimes you can fix a sport problem with a fitness solution (being able to jump higher will allow a basketball player to get more rebounds), sometimes it requires a movement solution (greater ankle range of motion will allow a basketball player to maintain a more upright torso to release a jumpshot and avoid having it blocked). Figuring out these types of problems can make a strength coach an invaluable asset to a sports team.

- Our training can be looked at as a pyramid with movement quality at the bottom, capacity as the middle and sport skill at the top. A pyramid cannot be built tall (highly skilled technical athlete) without a wide base of movement competency. Gray Cook has referenced similar concepts in his books.

Performance Pyramid

- Just because there is pain or dysfunction in one position does not mean that you have to eliminate fitness altogether. Sometime a shoulder that has pain overhead will feel better after a few weeks of deadlifting and lower gripping positions like rows, and loaded carries. This is really just a more specific example of using FMS principles. FMS screens movements and tells you what not to do but you can still crush heavy lifts in patterns that you pass the movement screen. I have seen this theory in practice countless times.

- Ground based patterns like crawling and rolling "switch" the joint by joint theory, meaning that segments that are usually mobile become stable and segments that are usually stable become mobile. During crawling movement occurs at the lower back and scapula with stability coming from the thoracic spine. This reversal allows for the swishing of synovial fluid through the stable segments and restores normal range to areas that don't usually get that sort of movement and shouldn't under load.

- EMG is horse shit. Not sure if those are his exact words but that seemed to be the sentiment. I would have to agree. EMG only tells us what muscle is firing but not whether that is the most efficient path. Sometimes movement is optimized with a lower EMG of a particular muscle and higher output from it's synergist. If we were to compare squatters with identical weight and bar speed but one has higher EMG of the abdominal muscles does that mean that they have "stronger" abs or that they had to call upon higher threshold strategies while the other squatter had a lot left in the tank?

- Diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing, creates a fixed lumbar spine which allows for greater mobility at the thoracic spine and hips.

- Keep your damn neck straight when you lift weights. Read more here.

Perfect neck position for lifting heavy weights

- All of the rotator cuff muscles have a specific role(s) stated in your biomechanics and anatomy textbooks, either external or internal rotation as well as some secondary actions. However the true function of all of these muscles is to work synergistically to create a suction effect that pulls the glenoid into the fossa and stabilizes the shoulder. You can't train that with a silly yellow band

- The same concept just mentioned applies to using any stabilizing muscles as a prime mover. That means lateral band walks, IYT's and many of your favorite "corrective exercises". This is a tough one for me to swallow as I've long been a proponent of many of these movements. It's really just a matter of whether you think independently strengthening stabilizing muscles will make them function better in full body movement patterns, where they have a totally different role. I'm not certain what the answer is but it certainly warrants consideration.

- Muscles don't get longer. It takes 30 minutes in a static position to add sarcomeres in series. Muscles operate more like an old radio antenna when you pull it all the way out. Yes it appears it's getting longer but really that length was there all along you just didn't know how to access it.

That's how muscle "stretches"

- "tightness" in certain positions is really just a product of the brain perceiving threat in that position. If we can eliminate the perception of threat we can access a fuller ROM. There are many ways to do this but traditional static stretching is one of the less effective methods. Lifting weights in with full range of motion seems to work well.

A lot of what Charlie talks about is different from the mainstream thought process in regard to training so many of these bullet points may sound different from what you are accustomed to, although if you have read this blog before some of it hopefully sounds familiar. I can't recommend highly enough that if you are a coach or trainer and unsure of how to allocate your continuing education money this year there may not be a better product on the market. Let me know if you found any of the points interesting and I'll try to write more about them.


  1. I like Charlie's new outlook on fitness and movement. He makes good points about dinky corrective exercises that are a waste of time. Too often TWY's are tossed into a program at some random movement to strengthen a rotator cuff or posterior deltoid. When that client could be doing something heavier, harder, more challenging.

    I also like his point about people in pain not letting that stop their training.

    Alex I have a question is about stretching. What do we know about stretching and adding sarcomeres to a muscles (30 min? really? only way?) vs down regulating the muscle activity vs stretching a tendon and not a muscle at all.

  2. Extremely long stretches are the only way to add sarcomeres and make muscles "longer". I'm pretty sure he got that from Shirley Sahrman. But maybe flexibility isn't about making muscles longer. Maybe it's about toying with the nervous system to convince you that a position is safe and allow you to use the length that was there all along.

    Static stretching still has value in a cool down because it helps promote anabolic processes during recovery but i think it's hugely overrated for flexibility.

    PS I saw your splits. What was the training routine behind those?