(Reuters Life!) – Crunches, curls and sit-ups may be standard workout fare in gyms, basements and living rooms across the land.
But the authors of a new book suggest people get plenty of that movement in their daily lives. They say to get a really strong midsection the back of the body needs to be worked.
“Sitting at desks, working on computers, waiting in traffic, we are continually contracting our abs, throwing our shoulders forward and, ultimately, shutting down the back of the body, said Dr. Eric Goodman, co-author with Peter Park of “Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence.”
“If we’re going to keep our posture and our spines strong, it has to be done by exercising the back of the body as the core of the body,” explained Goodman, a chiropractor based in Santa Barbara, California.
The exercises illustrated in the book require no machines or equipment and take the spine as the body’s center of stability. In the signature, or founder exercise, knees are bent over ankles, the body hinges from the hip joint, and movement originates in the pelvis, hips and hip joints.
“You’re sticking your butt out on everything,” explained Park, a trainer and owner of Platinum Fitness gyms, said. “We’re aiming for the posterior chain.”
Park is cycling great Lance Armstrong’s strength and conditioning coach. The seven-time Tour deFrance winner wrote the forward for the book.
“Lance needed it more than anybody,” Park said of the workout. “It opened him up. (With his) rounded back, rounded shoulders he almost looked funny off the bike.”
The exercises are designed to augment, rather than replace, a regular fitness regime, Goodman said.
“We don’t want people to stop doing yoga or Pilates. If you’re currently doing cardio or other training just add foundation to it,” Goodman said. “If you’re doing it properly, 20 minutes is plenty. It’s hard.”
Neal Pire, spokesperson for the American College of Sports Medicine, said the concept of “hinging” or loading the posterior chain while maintaining neutral spine is mainstream, but he’s never seen a book entirely devoted to it.
“Extension is key, because we do indeed live in a flexed state,” he said, adding that if the public perception is that abs are the core, the public is mistaken.
“The core involves two sets of muscles: deep muscles whose roles are primarily stabilizing the spine, or more generally the trunk, and shallower muscles whose primary role is movement,” Pire explained.
Goodman advocates a four-to-one ratio of back-to-front training.
“For every four exercises you do for the back of the body, you get to do one for the front. I think that’s the opposite of what most people are doing.”
Park said too many workouts reinforce sedentary postures.
“You see a guy who is sedentary all day go to the gym, do bench presses and ride on a bike. He’s reinforcing what he did all day,” said Park.
“We’re trying to bring everyone back to the center, where they should be. I think this is the missing link.”
Strengthen and Stretch for More Effective Riding
All those hours hunched in the saddle come at a cost. “The small muscles in the front of your body (hip flexors, quads) work harder relative to your largest muscle group (low back, glutes, hamstrings),” says Santa Barbara, California-based chiropractor Eric Goodman. The result? A lopsided tug-of-war that can cause a world of hurt–and ineffective riding. This sequence strengthens posterior muscles and stretches the ones in front. Do it three or four times a week.
A. Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
B. Extend your arms until they’re shoulder-height and lower yourself into a squat. Press through your heels to come back to start. Do 10.
A. Stand with legs shoulder-width apart, elbows bent.
B. Hinge forward at the hips, keeping your back straight, knees slightly bent and weight on your heels. Keeping your spine extended, pull yourself quickly back up by contracting your glutes and hamstrings. Do 10 to 15.
A. Stand in a wide straddle stance, knees slightly bent, butt pressed back, chest high, weight on your heels. Extend your arms in front of you and hold 15 seconds.
B. Keeping your back flat, twist to the right and hinge forward. Reach to the ground with your left hand while reaching to the sky with the right. Hold for 20 to 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Workout adapted from Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence by Goodman and Peter Park (Rodale, $23).
By: Andrew Daniels
For the first time in his life, Lance Armstrong was fat. It was the summer of 2008, and the former cycling superstar was already three years deep into his retirement from professional sports—if you can call crisscrossing the globe to spread cancer awareness and only occasionally finding time to relax “retirement.” Exercise—once a daily staple—was now a luxury. Something to fit in when time allowed. And it showed.
He was, in the words of strength and conditioning coach Peter Park, kind of pudgy.
That might be hard to believe about a man who amassed seven consecutive Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005, but that’s exactly what Park faced when Armstrong showed up at his Santa Barbara-based gym, Platinum Fitness, in 2008, and announced that he wanted to start competing in marathons, beginning with Chicago in the fall.
“Not only was he out of shape, but all of that time off from cycling had resulted in a lot of imbalances in his hips, hamstrings, and core, which threw off his strength and coordination,” says Park, who has known Armstrong since the two began competing in the same triathlons as teenagers, and coached him during cycling’s off-season (August to December) for more than a decade. At least there was one advantage to Armstrong’s softer physique: “During the first weeks of training, I could actually outrace him,” says Park.
Park’s bragging right didn’t last long. Armstrong soon began shedding fat, adding muscle, winning smaller races, and setting his sights not only on marathons, but also on the Tour de France. But before he could become truly competitive again, he had to get rid of some niggling injuries.
Like most cyclists, Armstrong had spent his athletic career hunched over the handlebars of a bike in a forward-flexed, internally rotated position that aggravated his spine and ultimately triggered low back pain. “It’s a particularly big problem for cyclists, since the back is where powerful pedal strokes originate,” says Park.
To rebalance Armstrong’s body, Park focused first on boosting his flexibility and strengthening his “posterior chain”—a series of muscles that includes the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and others that support the spine and provide power, speed, and stability in sports. “I call it foundation training,” says Park, whose book on the subject, The Foundation, with co-author Eric Goodman comes out next year. “It’s a great place to start for athletes and beginners alike—everyone kind of skips right to the heavy weights without building these ‘foundation’ muscles, which comprise the body’s true core.”
As he does with all of his athletes, including surfer Kelly Slater and LA Lakers point guard Derek Fisher, Park also tailored Armstrong’s training to complement his specific goals. “If you’re a cyclist, you need to have the upper body of a 12-year-old girl and the lower body of a power lifter,” says Park, adding that a barrel chest and monster arms only weigh a cyclist down, especially during longer races with steep ascents like the Tour de France. “So we stayed focused on core work, leg strength, and flexibility.”
What followed was Armstrong’s second comeback (the first was in 1998 following testicular cancer). He spent the 2009 season with Team Astana, capping it off with a third place finish in the Tour de France and a determination to finish even stronger in 2010. It wasn’t meant to be. Three crashes midway through this year’s Tour (now with Team RadioShack) all but eliminated Armstrong’s chance at a medal and sparked renewed chatter amongst critics that the cycling giant had finally fallen.
Armstrong has heard it before. “He loves it when people count him out,” says Park. “He thrives on it. And he’s in the best shape that I’ve ever seen him.” In short, Armstrong might still have a few surprises left up his sleeve for his detractors. If nothing else, says Park, he now has the foundation to remain in cycling’s top ranks for years to come.
THE FOUNDATION WORKOUT
Follow Lance Armstrong’s secret training plan to banish back pain and build total body power
Even if you’re not a cyclist, odds are that you spend the bulk of your day hunched in a seat. And that’s a recipe for back pain, says trainer Peter Park, who developed the following workout to help Lance Armstrong strengthen his “posterior chain”—a series of muscles that include the glutes, hamstrings, lower back, and others that stabilize the spine and provide speed and power in sports. Add it to your own weekly fitness plan to shore up your weak spots and build a strong foundation for any athletic endeavor.
Perform one set of each exercise without resting. For example, you’ll do the prescribed number of repetitions of the first exercise, then immediately do the second exercise, and so on. Once you’ve completed all of the exercises, move on to the core circuit.
1. Lateral Band Walk
2. Plank (Hold for 20 seconds 20 reps)
3. Iliotibial Band Roll (6 per side)
4. Groiner (6-8 per side)
5. Hand Crossover (3 reps)
6. Lunge (10 reps per side)
7. Lunge with Side Bend (5 reps)
8. Elbow-to-Foot Lunge (10 reps per side)
9. Sumo Squat to Stand (2 reps)
10. Kettlebell Goblet Squat (3 reps)
11. Doorway Stretch (1 rep)
Perform one set of each exercise without resting. For example, you’ll do the prescribed number of repetitions of the first exercise, then immediately do the second exercise, and so on. Once you’ve completed all of the exercises, move on to Strength Circuit 1.
1. Side Planks (30 seconds per side)
2. Back Extensions (3 reps)
3. Swiss-Ball Roll (30 reps per side)
4. Swiss-Ball Pike (20 reps per side)
5. Mountain Climber with Feet on Valslides (30 reps)
6. Wrist-to-Knee Crunches (25 reps)
7. Plank (5-6 reps)
STRENGTH CIRCUIT 1
Perform one set of each exercise without resting. For example, you’ll do the prescribed number of repetitions of the first exercise, and immediately do the second exercise. Then rest one minute. That’s one circuit. Do a total of 3 circuits, then move on to Strength Circuit 2.
1. Pistol Squat (5 reps each leg)
2. Single-Leg Deadlift (8 reps per side)
STRENGTH CIRCUIT 2
Perform one set of each exercise without resting. For example, you’ll do the prescribed number of repetitions of the first exercise, and immediately do the second exercise. Then rest one minute. That’s one circuit. Do a total of 3 circuits, then move on to the Metabolic Circuit.
Single-Leg Squat (12-15 reps)
Lunge (10 reps per side)
If you’re exhausted, stop here. But if you still have energy, perform this final circuit up to three times, depending on how good you feel. Perform one set of each exercise without resting. For example, you’ll do the prescribed number of repetitions of the first exercise, then immediately do the second exercise, and so on. Once you’ve completed all of the exercises, congratulations—you’ve just trained like Lance Armstrong.
1. Single Arm Dumbbell Swing (25)
2. High Box Jump (15)
3. Single Arm Dumbbell Swing (25)
4. Split Jacks (12 each side)
5. Single Arm Dumbbell Swing (25)
Back pain is a barrier to millions of people, interfering with their health, happiness, and enjoyment of life. The creators of Foundation Training talk about why and how they developed the program, and how to begin your journey in eliminating back pain.
Dr. Eric Goodman (top photo) brings innovation to the Health and Fitness community. In creating Foundation exercises he found a way to successfully manage and prevent common injuries while creating accountability in clients of all types. After establishing a career training professional and Olympic athletes using Foundation principles, Dr. Goodman is now introducing his ideas to the public.
The official strength and conditioning coach for Lance Armstrong, Peter Park (bottom photo) is a former world-class triathlete and ultra runner, and the current coach to numerous high profile athletes and personalities, including surfing champion Kelly Slater, the L.A. Lakers, the U.S.A. Cycling Team, Matthew McConaughy, and Rob Lowe.
Goodman and Park have merged their passion, knowledge and experience to offer what has become the highest level of conditioning possible. They have created a full regimen based on Foundation Training that will help to eliminate longstanding, chronic pain, often when nothing else has worked. Their program does not treat injuries. They train your body to move in a balanced way that is so effective and powerful that mechanical imbalances and weaknesses fall by the wayside.
Their Foundation Training program is detailed in the book Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence.
Host: Marty Flanagan
Guests: Dr. Eric Goodman & Peter Park – Creators of the “Foundation” training program and authors of Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence.
Producer: Trevis Carletta
Booking Agent: Tara Dosh
Check out the interview HERE!