“If the best in the world are stretching their ass off in order to get strong, why aren’t you?” – Christopher Sommer
If you loved the Pavel, Poliquin, or Dom D’Agostino episodes, you’ll love this one.
My guest this episode is Christopher Sommer (GymnasticBodies on Instagram/Facebook), former US national team gymnastics coach. He is also the founder of GymnasticBodies, a training system that I’m currently testing (and have no affiliation with). As a world-renowned Olympic coach, Sommer is known for building his students into some of the strongest, most powerful athletes in the world.
During his extensive 40-year coaching career, Coach Sommer took meticulous notes on his training techniques—his wins and failures—so that he could translate the best elements into a superior exercise system for both high-level and beginner athletes. His four decades of careful observation led to the birth of Gymnastics Strength Training™ (or GST).
In this episode, we cover A TON, including:
- The 3-5 exercises everyone should be doing (you’ve never heard of some of them)
- His opinions of kipping exercises, such as the kipping pull-ups common in CrossFit
- What bodyweight goals non-gymnasts should target
- Which exercises to remove from the gym entirely, at least in the first 6-12 months of training
- How to optimize biceps strength and mass with straight-arm work
- And much, much more…
I also asked Coach Sommer to gather some interesting stuff (samples, videos, etc.) at gymnasticbodies.com/tim, so take a gander. I don’t get any compensation for any of it; I just want people to consider more bodyweight training. I’ve found it revelatory and mind-expanding.
If you want some quick training tips, here are Coach Sommer’s mobility movements that will increase strength.
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast on fitness and training from a world-class coach? — Listen to my conversation with Pavel Tsatsouline. In this episode, we discuss the science of strength and the art of physical performance (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Which of Coach Sommer’s tips or exercises would you like to learn more about? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
Selected Links from the Episode
- Connect with Coach Sommer: GymnasticBodies.com | Instagram |Facebook
- Learn more about Paradiso CrossFit
- Learn more about Awaken Adult Gymnastics in Denver, Colorado
- Listen to my conversation with Amelia Boone
- Watch Allan Bower on the still rings
- Learn more about Forma GST in the UK
- Learn more about Robb Wolf
- Listen to my interview with Paul Levesque (AKA Triple H)
- Listen to my podcast with Tony Robbins
- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
- The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- Learn more about probiotics: Klaire probiotics | VSL3
- How to define Gymnastics Strength Training™ (GST) [7:54]
- Types of strength that most non-gymnasts will not have [12:55]
- Biggest mistakes made by those who self-teach handstands [16:30]
- Top exercises for identifying weaknesses in strength and mobility [22:12]
- The problem of focusing on muscular fatigue when training [35:07]
- What is a pike pulse and why does it matter [44:26]
- On kipping pull-ups [46:19]
- Identifying solutions to pain [54:08]
- The Jefferson curl [58:27]
- Why weighted mobility work needs to be approached with a different level of intensity than conditioning work [1:03:31]
- If someone is 35-years-old, a former athlete and never done gymnastics, what’s a good exercise and what should be avoided? [1:09:04]
- 3-5 joint mobility exercises for getting strong [1:14:52]
- Preferred way to work on shoulder extension [1:21:37]
- A good goal for those seeking to improve mobility [1:27:30]
- Yoga handstands vs gymnastics handstands (aesthetics vs. gold medals) [1:30:34]
- Who are some of the coaches who have impressed you the most? [1:37:39]
- The story of Dmitry Bilozerchev and Alexander Alexandrov [1:38:01]
- Differentiating immature athletes and mature athletes [1:47:05]
- Training for success [1:50:34]
- Describing the systematic approach to gymnastics strength training [1:53:41]
- What exercises to avoid for the first 6 months of GST [2:02:11]
- Breaking down the muscle-up [2:05:34]
- Understanding the purpose of using various grips [2:10:27]
- How do you mentally prep your athletes for a big competition? [2:18:49]
- What questions would Coach Sommer ask a gymnastic coach before sending his/her children off to train with them [2:29:38]
- What questions would Coach Sommer ask a gymnastic coach who trains adults? [2:34:24]
- Balancing stretching and training time [2:37:19]
- When you think of the word successful, who is the first person to come to mind and why? [2:42:36]
- Most gifted books [2:48:56]
- Morning rituals [2:52:05]
- What would you put on a billboard? [2:56:41]
- An ask or a request for the audience [3:02:41]
- Greg Glassman
- Allan Bower
- Dmitry Klokov
- Dmitry Bilozerchev
- Ivan Ivankov
- Tony Robbins
- Yuri van Gelder
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.
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355 Replies to “The Secrets of Gymnastic Strength Training (#158)”
If the BJ Miller podcast is the best about living, this one is the best about training. I recently almost started gymnastics training with a coach but I felt to ridiculously under prepared that I felt I needed some.pretraining.
You have exceeded my expectations massively!
Thank you so much for this free material that I actually want to send you something. Do know what you need but I will continue to pass the word about what you do! Best reagrds!
Does this program cater to complete beginners? My interest is in developing strength using Gymnastic rings.
If by using rings you mean cool “tricks” and skills like levers and muscle ups, then a complete beginner will have a very very long way ahead before starting training for them. But for boring simple stuff like rows and hangs you can use rings almost immediately.
To engage in real ring strength training safely and productively, it would be best to first lay the proper physical foundation.
I am 15 years old and I want to become an entrepreneur. What steps can I start taking now to help me succeed later in life? What mentors should I get? What books should I read?
I would check out Tim’s podcast with Seth Godin, there were so many good tips and pieces of wisdom.
Great question Steven. Following Tim Ferriss is a great start, I’ve found reading BOLD by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler.
I first heard about gymnastic bodies and Coach Sommers via Robb Wolf’s awesome podcast. I bought foundation 1 and handstand 1 almost immediately. I have zero affilitation to GB except as a very satisfied and impressed customer.
All I can say is the GB curriculum/system is INCREDIBLY well designed and was a hugely welcome change from the strict barbell work I had been doing. Some amazing things about the system:
1) Clear and logical progressions that allow you to progress and learn in a reasonable way. One of my complaints about bw strength training prior to this was that so many of the movements seemed impossible and I had no way of knowing what the proper preparatory progressions/exercises were. I’m 5’11/~210lbs. Planches out of the gate were NOT in the cards.
It’s amazing to achieve movements that you thought were IMPOSSIBLE at the beginning of the month.
2) My whole body just *felt good*. I felt springy and strong. The stretches that are paired with each exercise as active rest are amazing.
3) It’s pretty time efficient! I always thought body weight work required grinding out endless reps and really long work sessions (one of the reasons I gravitated towards barbell work was for the sheer efficiency of it). GB utilizes leverages and
3) It is FUN and STIMULATING. You are constantly mastering new movements, progressing towards new goals and learning how to move and feel your body in different ways. I love barbell strength training, but the GB system just felt incredibly dynamic and challenging and it was awesome learning new movements every week.
4) Doing a handstand in front of my (shocked) family for the first time was pretty priceless.
The only catch (in my mind) is that you WILL need some specialized equipment (namely stall bars) or access to a facility that does. I tried to make GB programming work at my local globogym and got a ton of weird looks (whatever). I eventually hit a wall and unfortunately my GB quest is on hiatus until I can locate a facility with the equipment I need. With that said, the forums do have some useful stuff for workarounds. REALLY makes me wish I had a home gym.
One final note: if you are overweight (as I was when beginning this program) you may want to prioritize getting down to a more manageable body weight. As a fat guy, some of the leveraged holds became pretty difficult (though I did find what I could accomplish to be pretty surprising!).
Thanks for an awesome podcast guys!
Is it possible to blush over the internet? 😉
Thank you for all of the kind words and I am very pleased to hear you are enjoying your GB courses so much.
My question coach is can I do this with a significantly arthritic knee and such limited flexibility? I’m in shape by the standard of mere mortals but you brother scare me (and inspire me). I’m in less than poor condition in how you would rate things I’m afraid. I’m 58 years old, 5’8, 152 lbs, 13% body fat, good strength. Can’t run or jump with my knee. Help. Good post eb, thanks for sharing.
Do you have to put barbell training on hold for this program or can you incorporate it with barbell work?
Depends upon how severe your mobility deficits are. If you have substantial issues, you would find it quite helpful to place your barbell training on maintainence mode while you focus on attacking the mobility problems.
Do you have to stop barbell training completely or does this supplement barbell training?
Depends on the level of involvement you want to pursue. Mobility work can be integrated with any other training modality.
Coach Sommers is great and the gst community is amazing. I’ve been doing gst for about 2 years and it is amazing. The hardest part is changing your mindset. I loved the part where you guys talk about immature vs mature athlete. For a year and a half I was that immature athlete which limited my progress. With gst you have be patient and accept your weaknesses and work to fix them. The community at gymnasticbodies.com is so knowledgeable and helpful. Even if you don’t want to do gymnastics work you should at least check out the mobility work.
Coach Sommer is the best in the field, excellent choice.
Forgot the Overcast link.
Thanks for the episode!
I’ve spent time listening to several podcasts. Crazy amounts of awesome info, as you are well aware!
It can be really hard to go back to a specific idea or topic.
Much like a book, I always try to listen to it in full. Then go back and take any notes. I do generally try to create my own index, which is why I bring it up.
A few ideas:
* soundcloud’s player comes to mind, where it leaves the ability to comment throughout the audio track. I’m not suggesting users be able to leave comments, instead you have the ability to use them as an index. We as the users then have the ability to quick jump to topics of interest!
* an ability to jump back a few seconds, a la Audible player would also be helpful, mostly in those moments when my brain drifts out of comprehension and I need to go back to something I missed.
* a quick text index in the post would probably be path of least technical resistance.
I’m having trouble visualizing the pike and pike pulses. Do you have any links for a visual?
I was hoping to find the same…specifically the move that shut down Tim’s kiwi rugby friend…
It’d be great to get an actual visual to better understand the form before trying these various exercises
If you look on the gymnasticsbodies Instagram, they have a bunch of pictures and videos of what was mentioned on the podcast.
Here’s a link of what I found after listening to this Podcast for the second time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ha911FRiiFU
Here’s the original video where he goes through the 3-5 exercises everyone should be doing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eW1psfpRLtk
“They failed warm-up!”
Best podcast moment ever. Laughing out loud. Yes.
Can we post a link to show the QL Walks?
google “butt walk”, but check out Donnie at 6:13 and he does a great explanation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eixkcrX_Qh8
I think this may be what they were referring to (at the 18:33 mark)
One QL walk coming up https://youtu.be/eixkcrX_Qh8?t=6m28s
Great to see some of this type of training making it onto the podcast. In our industry there’s tons of ways to train and no single way is right for everybody. Super-cool to see varied methods gain traction.
I have a serious podcast brain-boner right now… this is awesome. Thank you Tim & coach Sommer.
hahaha….so that’s what it’s called! me too!
Very informative interview– already looking forward to part two! This inspired me to try gymnastic strength training… Thanks guys!
Awesome pod, Tim! Appreciate the insight into something new I’d never considered.
Feeling soo inspired to start my gymnastics training this summer! Loving it!
Thank you so much Tim! Can’t wait to try Jefferson curl today! My body is crying for some advanced work – bridges, shoulder extensions, splits – all easy now, my father started training me once I could walk, so need some progress! Thank you and coach Sommer! Love you guys for the work you do!
And you go Tim! Do some crazy gymnastics whit to blow our minds away!
QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Which of Coach Sommer’s tips or exercises would you like to learn more about?
I’d just suggest do a video round 2 for obvious reasons. This episode is just not complete without it.
Would love to see some routine for home for people to practice to increase “normal” mobility of human body. By normal I mean natural not what modern homo-sitting-on-my-ass-all-day person considers normal.
The GymnasticBodies system can be followed online at home.
Link here: http://www.gymnasticbodies.com/training/
Before few months I started implementing in my life the approach of vegan body building and the results are really interesting
Such great advice on how to approach anything. Be consistent, patient, gradual and take care of the big rocks. Thanks guys; it’s always a pleasure to listen to what either of you has to share.
In addition to the excellent online courses designed by Coach Sommer, GymnasticBodies also has a handful of Affiliates worldwide that provide well structured, hands on coaching in GST, based on the GB protocols.
Link at the bottom of the GB homepage for details.
This definitely needs a video supporting material. Awesome podcast.
My question would be: “What kind of bodyweight exercises should be doing to prevent lower back pain or better yet what would be the best 10 – 15 min exercise routine you could do first thing in the morning?”
I must have missed it, but can you please point me to the knee-exercises, which improved your knee stability/health?
Same for me. Please do not forget / ignore that. Having knee issues for the first time in my life, unable to fix it I would be very thankful for those!
Buy foundations 1 and 2. The single leg squat variations will get you sorted
I too am here seeking Coach Rumin/Ruman’s knee strength routine mentioned at 2:16 — Tim mentions “skiers” and side squats but we need more info.
Same here! De La Riva guard is getting me down and a close friend just tore his meniscus. Been curious about this since it was mentioned on the last episode
Agreed. There was a promise of vids in the podcast and I am super interested (2 knee surgeries last year for meniscus tears and back in pain again now)
Just scroll thru the comments section here. Sample vids of the knee series have been posted in various comments.
So good… Okay, I bought the fundamentals. I’m 47, 5’3 125lb desk jockey with lower back pain. I’m going to give it the 4 weeks for the fundamentals and report back. Hopefully it’s not too late for me. 😉 Thanks so much for having Christopher on!
would love to know your progress. I am going buy and practice this also but I don’t know how to have this at home. I will never step a foot in an gym. I just know that of myself so I will be doing this at home.
You can do most all the beginning work at home without much equipment. A few items will be essential but a onetime purchase of a doorway pullup bar and gymnastic rings pay for themselves over the course of using them over a number of workouts
The body wants to be healthy and perform at its best, all we have to do is provide the right environment and training 🙂 I’m sure you will feel energized and make progress, report back on the program, I will plan to start it next month
I have back problems as well, and I am not an athlete, rather a somewhat sedentary middle-aged woman. Would be very interested in your progress.
Really enjoyed this podcast so informative. I’m a yoga instructor and I have been on a quest to find a training program that works seamlessly with my practice and here it is. Thank you Tim and Coach Sommer for your time it’s really appreciated.
So great. I’ve been doing GB Foundations for about a year and a half and it’s been totally game-changing. I live in Denver, so I’m considering joining Awaken after a jaunt in Thailand this summer…after a thoracotomy (cut my left lat in half), I’ve made huge improvements, but need some wise eyes on handstand prep work.
Question background: I rock climb (bouldering V8) and GB has been incredible for climbing performance. I took the Foundations rope pre work (incline pull etc.) out of my Foundations rotation because I was getting some elbow tendinitis flares even after dropping climbing performance to maintenance for 3 months.
Question: How would you recommend balancing Foundations rope prep work with maintenance training a sport (bouldering) that requires significant pull power through the elbows?
Nathan, that entirely depends upon how advanced your current
pulling strength is.
Thanks, coach. I’m guessing the way to figure that out is see where I land relative to the mastery week of the rope climb PE, which seems like a stupid-obvious answer haha. I appreciate the reply. There are a lot of variables that go into this, especially given the past lat issues, so I’ll just suck up the cost and join Awaken so I can get some legit eyes on me. It’s worth it.
I am also interested in this please. I am a golfer and have been doing prolotherapy/platelettreatment on my right elbow. This keeps flaring up when I try progress with GST foundation training. At the moment I am taking it very slow, setting my target on very slow foundation training over the next 200 days. If there is any advise on rehab/strengthening of elbows it would be appreciated. Maybe share what you and Tim have been working on.
PS: The updates on the website and making it responsive has really made it very easy to use.
Another outstanding podcast Tim. I started following gymnasticbodies on Instagram after you mentioned it on the Noah podcast and it’s been a great resource. Awesome to hear Coach Sommer share some of his knowledge. Thanks!
Great stuff. You mentioned (41 minute mark) supplemental knee work Tim. Could you share any of that work? I’m trying to work through some chronic tendonitis in one knee. Thanks
Lemme see if I can get coach to reply here. That’s his department 🙂
+1! I have looked on the site , cannot find the “knee program” mentioned. I would VERY much like to get my hands on it. (also noted at least 2 more persons in the comments wanting it.) Please let me know if it is in any of the bundles on the site. I will get on it.
Thanks to Coach Sommers – WOW! What an episode! Ive read Building the gymnastic body some years back, It is a great book (MUST READ for cocaches ), with great progressions! This episode reminded my of how good and effective GST can be. Thanks Tim and huge thanks to Coach Sommers for taking the time. I hope it will drive lots and lots of new athletes and coaches your way. What a value loaded episode!
Hi Tim- I also would love to know what the knee program is as I have had chronic (yes Coach Sommer- that means I kept slamming my hand in the door 🙂 ) patella tendonitis in both knees for over 20 years. However, in my defense my knee pain started before I ever started playing sports or training! That I kept aggravating it I will completely own.
+1 on the knee. I own Foundation 1 and Handstand 1. Wondering if the advice on the knee is in Tumbling or Fundamentals or something separate altogether.
The “knee program” probably comes under F1’s Single Leg Squat progression.
Any progress on those knee excercises. Or, as an alternative, please confirm that the ones in foundation 1 are the same as you mentioned in the podcast? Thanks.
Tim. Great podcast. Thank you. You referred to IBM sales in the podcast? Do you a book you can recommend on the subject?
I, like many others, sure would like the verification of the knee stability exercises.
From my experience 18 months and 2 – 2 week trips to the GB master affiliate in Denver, I recommend you search the GB Forum which has thousands of members addressing similar concerns as yourself. If you are unable to find specific information, you may post a question regarding your situation. These people on the forum know there stuff, and will talk to you like a PT so be prepared for an in-depth conversion.
The Single Leg Squat (SLS – Pistols) and the middle split or pancake series worked wonders on my MCL. For the SLS, specifically look into the Inside Squat as it’s AMAZING to improve the elasticity of your connective tissue within the knee (search for forum). During my personal progress through the middle split series, I would notice some slight discomfort while stretching, and then I would back off. THIS IS SUPER IMPORTANT!! This is not strength training, it’s stretching, and you’ll need to give your body time to adapt. Go to a point of slight discomfort and then back off. Don’t push through the pain or Zen-out while stretching. This is gymnastics and I’ve measured my progress over a 6-12 month cycle.
From the front split series, I did notice major improvement in the elasticity and durability of my patellar tendon.
Hope that helped.
Hey Zach. I’m pretty sure coach sommer has integrated these into F1 (Foundation 1) as part of the integrated mobility, as he mentioned these moves in the podcast (skiers, twisting squats, side squats). F1 helped me with my knee issues, along with Ido Portal’s squat routine 2 (on YouTube).
The GB knee mobility series is covered in detail in the Foundation One course.
As one of Coach’s Affiliates, please feel free to get in touch with me, or any one of the other affiliates. We would be glad to help. The knee mobility/stability exercises are programmed into the Single Leg Squat progressions. In general, each “strength element” is automatically paired with a “mobility exercise.” This is the case for every single element in GB. These can be found in the Foundation Series 1-4. That’s 3-5 years of programming for under $395- this includes video demonstrations and access to private forums. I can’t stress enough how amazing a deal this is. Remember, you are receiving programming from a WORLD CLASS COACH. There are other imitators out there- they have been students of Coach Sommer in the past. Why not learn from the source?
I started GB at the age of 37- I completely quit lifting 18 months ago and solely train GB- best decision of my life. As a FF/Medic, I still need to be able to lift heavy- GB transfers over into weightlifting- trust me. Because the GB universe is so huge and diverse, all questions you may have have probably already been asked and answered in the forums. GB is unlike anything else out there. The affiliates and coaches have been vetted and hand selected by Coach Sommer himself. You don’t become an instructor after a weekend course. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into the workouts and continue to improve. I’m still far from where I want to be, but I trust the process- this type of training is my meditation. I hope this helps!
Hi, I found very interesting how much shoulder extension affected the many skills. I was wondering if when you see people fail at the bar muscle up,were you need to pull to lower chest or even lower, is it more of a shoulder extension issue or strength ?…I guess it could be both, but I never thought of addressing a specific range of motion. Excellent podcast, by the way. Thanks.
Also amazing how much shoulder extension affects the component parts (e.g. dips). I’m enjoying doing shoulder-X work on the lowest rung of a Stahl bar.
Tim, I’ve been keeping up with your stuff since 2009. You have helped me to reduce my work hours from 60 hours a week down to 32 a week. Assisted me with being conversionary fluent in Spanish within a few months, and now it’s really cool to see that you’ve dove into something that I’ve become passionate about, Gymnastics Bodies. I’ve been working with GB and there GST program for about 18 months and it’s amazing to see the progress that I’ve made. I’m currently at Foundations 2 with Coach Sommer’s progressions: doing amazing bridge work, pancakes, front slips, body levers, and windshield wipers. It’s truly amazing how transferable these skills are. I’m excited to see your progress over the next few months to years.
Thanks so much for the comment, Bruce, and huge congrats on all the wins! Yes, I’m super excited about GB. I suck hard at the moment, but that leaves a lot of room for marked improvement 🙂
What is the knee series you’re doing Tim? Dying to know!!!
I can’t speak specifically for Tim but in the foundation program there are progressions for performing a single leg squat. Each exercise has a strength component and a mobility component. Many of the mobility components for single leg squat work on knee strengthening and mobilization.
I believe the knee series is in the Gymnastic Bodies “Foundations” course.
I’d like to second that request!
I’m having some jumper’s knee and golfer’s elbow issues and I’d like to be rid of them. Thanks!
Hey, Tim and Christopher. Christopher, it sounds like you’ve worked with almost exclusively men. Do you know of any differences in your training that you’d make for women?
Good question. I have also worked with a ton of women from beginners all the way up to competitors at the US Olympic Trials.
At the beginning and intermediate levels of GST there is really no difference between in the approach between the genders. Later, men will move on to more advanced straight arm strength elements on the rings, but that division does not happen for quite some time.
Tim – just listened to this and immediately forwarded to 3 friends who are rehab physios – excellent – thanks – p.s. love your books, love your podcasts but you gotta stop wearing that beanie – doesn’t do you justice 😉
Do you have a video of the Pike Ups you mentioned twice?
I added a link to a video towards the bottom of the comment section, check it out.
I’m 21. For 3 years I have been recovering from a shoulder, chest, abdominal and glute injury from doing a deadlifts. Spent over $3,000 of my own money on phisio, chiro, osteo, athletic therapy everything.. Still feeling the symptoms and pain every day. I used to be a gymnast and national trampolinist but I am contemplating giving up on being able to recover. I don’t know what to do next and I can’t just blindly spend more money as all of the rehab I have done up till today has not been effective. Can anyone here help?
First of all, sorry to hear about your ongoing issues.
It is important however to realize that the deadlifts themselves were not the primary issue. The primary issue was how the deadlifts were being approached; meaning the training philosophy being employed. For you to have ongoing chronic injuries of that severity you were training with a take no prisoners attitude.
The typical ‘no pain, no gain’ that most of us grew up with. The problem with this approach is that it eventually morphs into ‘no gain, all pain’.
Whether or not GST or any other training modality will be able to help will depend upon the severity of the structural damage you have done to yourself and to what degree the damage can be repaired.
Jonathan, I’m reading your post and I feel your pain. As someone who’s in the process of fixing some old injuries now, I completely identify with what Coach Sommer says below (and on the podcast). I find this podcast very timely as I want to get back into some strength training, but I’m finding the need to retrain & rebuild connective tissue to be much more critical (and I’ve got another 21 years on you!!)
As to your comment on trying everything, I want to address it from a clinician standpoint for a moment. Based on your injury description, if your out-of-pocket, no insurance costs were $3,000, I would say you’re just starting you’re starting, as that’s really a drop in the bucket for any one of those professionals. Don’t believe the hype, not all physio’s, chiro’s, osteo’s, etc are equal. Ask around, shop around. Quick example of one of my newest patients: she had been dealing with pain & numbness in her neck & hands for almost 5 years, and had tried everything she had come into contact with. The last chiropractor she had been seeing was adjusting her 3x a week for 8 months, and she had no relief. She was about to go in for surgery when her sister-in-law insist she find an upper cervical chiropractor (which is what I do). Her ultra-conservative neurosurgeon was ready to do surgery, but she ended up postponing surgery to try one last thing. We got her adjusted and almost overnight she had significant relief; no need for surgery.
I’m not saying what I do can help you, but I am saying shop around. In today’s strange world of insurance with high deductibles and less coverage, you have to find what works. Talk to the guys at your gym who have been lifting for 20-30 more years than you have and see who they use to keep in tip top shape. Most will do a complimentary consultation just to see if you’re in the right place, and its all about finding a right fit for you and the doctor/professional in question.
To quote another comment, just had a “brain boner”. This is the episode I’m excited about most – and I’ve listened to every one.
Chris’ course does an amazing job at progressions.
The major challenge with this type of gymnastics/calisthenics training is the equipment when your city is laden with globo gyms. I’m working at solving this with my muse selling equipment to make this fantastic type of training possible and affordable. [Moderator: link removed]
Would the GB program be okay for someone with low back pain and ankylosing spondylitis (which really makes my joints locked)?
Difficult to say. Once serious injuries arise and lead to permanent structural changes, the rules change as well.
My recommendation is such cases is always the same. With whatever modality of training you are doing, proceed cautiously. No training thru pain and very gradually work on improving ROM.
If I ever get to meet you in person I will certainly give you a hug for this podcast on gymnastics! I grew up as a gymnast and I have always talked about how different it is compared to other types of fitness and what a different and better body gymnastics can build!!!! I have never been into working out in a “normal” gym as I have always known how to use my own body. I am one of three sisters and the only one that did gymnastics and my physical shape is very different from theirs as a result of both knowing and exercising my body in such a better way. Mobility and extension makes ALL the difference! And I so appreciate hearing about connective tissue and joint fatigue. I do not have back pain or knee injuries and have always had a strong core! So thank you, thank you thankyou! I wish there were gyms specifically for adult gymnasts! It’s so benefits on so many levels.
I have hypermobile joints and although people look at my yoga practice in awe, I still have issues with imbalances with opposing muscles not having equal strength and flexibility. Will this program help build the strength and help address the imbalances I have? I find that I am limited in my training because my joints (and associated structures) aren’t anywhere near as strong as my muscles?
Any program will help as long as you approach it patiently and cautiously with the understanding that your joints are particularly vulnerable to overuse injuries.
As you have already discovered, the vast majority of people who are hypermobile focus too much on mobility (we all like to do what we do best!) as they find it challenging to build strength past a moderate level. The good news is that you are aware of this and are working to address it.
So would the fundamentals be the best place to start?
Yes, Fundamentals is the place to start.
Me too! I’m hypermobile (= super bendy with massive instability issues). Did you do the fundamentals? How did you like it?
What if you’re flat footed? What easy beginner strength training can I do to prevent lower body muscle aches?
I thoroughly enjoyed this episode! As a person rapidly approaching 40, with previous joint injuries, it was really interesting to hear Coach Connor’s approach and the information about mobility training. Makes me feel confident that with the right training and going slowly, I can get to that 75% place physically.
I am a fitness warrior in th making if God allows and I love great content and coach sommer and this podcast have me sold on my goal setting and taking the proper time. Thank you both
Great podcast! Tim, I didn’t hear Coach answer your question about the progression required for achieving a press-to-handstand. Having a goal like that would definitely keep me motivated. I had a similar yoga goal that enabled me to practice a number of interesting arm balances. Ready to set another goal!
Thanks for a great podcast, very inspired to try this out.
Does anyone have any opinion on how this compares to Freeletics Bodywheight?
I know it’s super difficult but this podcast would have been awesome as a video! Other than that, AWESOME as ever. Good descriptions of actions.
I am confused by this website… I would walk away from this because it is expensive but having listened to the podcast and reading comments here seems like the program I need. What is the difference between Fundamentals and Foundation. I clicked from the link on this page and signed up but only have Fundamentals and seem like the rest of the website is blocked out. Did I need Foundation? What is the difference. The website sucks explaining the difference. Big money difference too three times the cost. Can anybody explain?
Please help very frustrated and seems like no explanation anywhere for this.
Everyone should begin from the beginning which would be Fundamentals. A common error is that strong people want to focus on increasing strength and ignore mobility (most men fit nicely into this category). The other side of the coin are flexible people who want to focus on increasing mobility and ignore strength. Both approaches are incorrect. A healthy, athletic body is one that is both strong and mobile.
The are four steps to the Gymnastic Bodies curriculum and proceed in order from step 1 to step 4. All of them are clearly outlined on this page:
How is it possible to have “40 years of experience as a nation level coach” for a guy in his early fifties? Was he a teenager when he started?
I mean, he is obviously very knowledgeable coach with a great record, will people stop buying his program if he tells the truth, that he has “only” 20-25 (or whatever) years?
Read more carefully, bandera. Tim’s written comments above in the intro to this podcast mention that I have had a nearly forty year coaching career (currently at 38 years), not that I have been a national team coach for 40 years. 😉
I was hoping Coach Sommer could confirm which vitamin D brand he uses.
For years I have been using Bio-D-Mulsion Forte drops from Biotics. I’m sure there are other brands equally as good, but I am a firm believer in the old saying, “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it”.
I agree with Coach Sommer on this one. It’s really a best bang for your buck in this case. 5 drops gives you 10k IU of Vit D, which by some accounts (Mercola) is what you need daily. Also, a bottle will last you (and maybe your family) a year for around $20.
I agree with Coach as well, after some extensive labs for my son, Bio-D-Mulsion Forte drops/Biotics are the ones recommended by his doctor. Each person is different so some lab work would be a good idea to confirm what you are needing as everyone is uniquely different.
Coach Sommer, Thank you for agreeing to come on this podcast and share your wealth of Knowledge and Thank you TIM FERRIS for having him on the podcast. I plan to purchase the fundamentals and get started as learning a new type of activity is always beneficial, plus I also hope to get my kiddo doing this as well. Any other links, videos and followups on your progress TIM, would be appreciated.
Good day Tim and Coach Sommer:
First, after extensive labs done for my son, Bio-D-Mulsion Forte was recommended by his doctor. Maybe getting some labs done would be beneficial so you don’t over take or under take, my 2 cents on Vit-D.
Secondly, Thank you Coach Sommer for agreeing to come on the show and Thank you Tim Ferris for having him. Mobility is a big problem and it is great to get the word out and start getting all generations of people moving more. As a whole, the health of all humans seems to be going down the tube and getting mobility as part of exercise will help.
Lastly, while I am out on my long endurance training runs, listening to these podcasts makes the time go on plus they are educational. You have good sound quality and the variety of subject and people you have had on has made it enjoyable to listen to. I do have some suggestions for future podcast. When you have a Chance Tim Ferris, shot me an email.
I’m a beginning triathlete with tight shoulders and I can’t touch my toes. I’m not a beast. Only 160lbs at 5’10” tall. What program would you recommend?
Sounds like mobility/flexibility issues- in addition to the Fundamentals, I would purchase the stretch series. It will address your hamstring and shoulder issues by focusing specifically on those structures and those surrounding it. It’s all connected.
Fundamentals for four weeks and then segue into Foundation 1 for overall strength/active mobility. If your schedule permitted you could also include the GB Thoracic Bridge series for additional shoulder girdle mobility if you wanted to really target the shoulders.
Wow! Great interview. No words just wow.
Suggestion on iTunes naming convention for the podcasts: Please include the Podcast # and author in the title — it would make it much easier to share verbally. (eg: “Hey, checkout the Tim Ferriss podcast #85” or “Hey, checkout the Time Ferriss interview with Pavel Tsatsouline”). Currently very difficult to track down a podcast just by looking at the titles. Often sharing links via the iOS podcast app just links to the list of all the podcasts, and not specific podcasts, etc… So being able to visually scan by episode # and author would help in organic sharing of the podcasts.
This is where I miss the long blog post over the podcast. We get that your guest wants to sell courses- but the blog posts used to explain a few of the exercises to try out, maybe link to a video, stuff like that. The knee pain exercises? Let me try it for a few weeks, and if I see results I buy the course. The old guy tune-up? Same. It is similar to the Starret podcasts you do- the verbal description just doesn’t do it, and knowing that there are 500 exercises also doesn’t do it. We read Tim for the 80/20 breakdown, and to see if this works for us. The free assessment tells us that we are not gymnasts- but doesn’t give us the same baby steps (unless I am missing something) that we could try for 2 weeks and see if we get the same result as Tim. That used to be a staple of the blog- and I miss that. This comes across way more as a marketing podcast helping a client sell than a neat idea, or thing to try.
I know this probably won’t be published, since it isn’t golly-gee-whiz, but are you ever going back to blogging? I’m a reader, not a listener. I read way faster than you talk (speed- reading, anyone?), and also comprehend way better that way.
I often enjoy the more conversational style of the podcasts even though the information density isn’t as high, but it would be great if there were more robust show notes like what Roger is describing above. It seemed like there were a lot of things in this one in particular that were difficult to describe without some kind of visual (and some were promised?).
Completely agree with this comment. I loved and hated this episoed at the same time. A lot of what was said made a lot of sense. But every time Tim tried to talk about specific exercises to try, the interviewee changed the topic and just complained about how everything else is wrong. I get that – but i want to learn how to do it right. I am not saying this guy should give away his secret sauce for free. But I would have appreciated some examples here on the blog more than that discount code.
I bow my head and respect and awe.
Being the proverbial fat slob on the couch and I really hate it and would like to know how that type of person can start doing gymnastic strength building the baby steps just like the coach said.
I am recovering from a moderate lumbar disc bulge (3 weeks ago). I am currently working on extremely rudimentary posture exercises with some thoracic, shoulder, and hip mobility stuff. How long should I wait until I can work-in some GST Gymnastic Bodies type work? 6 months? Year+?
BTW – It’s a rare podcast that makes me hit the pause button to take notes. Coach Sommers was dropping a lot of knowledge and truth bombs.
Obviously as I am recovering from an injury, the bits about patience and consistency really penetrated my soul.
I was the workout warrior that Coach Sommers talks about at a D1 College Football Program. My coaches referred to me as a “physical specimen.” Very strong. Very fast.
But no–I wasn’t any good. I probably should have thought about joint health and mobility. Where was this information 10 and 15 years ago? I was reading Westside Barbell. I wish I knew this stuff too.
I think that you are taking the right approach. First priority needs to be addressing that bulging disc. All else is secondary.
As for a time frame, there really isn’t one. It will take as long as it takes. Anything that hurts, stop. As you have already learned patience, moderation and consistency are far more important than intensity.
I trained in Tae Kwon Do for two years, got my black belt, but I haven’t been back since because my teacher didn’t know much about how to prepare people strength-wise, or how to keep from getting injured. He himself struggled with years of injuries, and even now as a black belt, my form isn’t where I want it to be.
Does the GST program talk about what to do about muscle soreness (I trained through two years of near-constant muscle soreness), and how to prevent injuries? I’m very interested in strength training, but being a 46-year-old adult, I’m very wary of getting injured, and especially how to prevent injuries if I’m doing an online training course.
I want to be able to have full range of motion my whole life, not just for a few years. Plus, I really want splits.
Living in a near constant state of muscle soreness is indicative of your training for too intensely for your currently levels of strength and mobility. You are very fortunate that you have not incurred a long term chronic injury.
Extreme muscle soreness is the body’s way of telling us that it has not yet finished supercompensating from the previous workout.
I purchased the Fundamentals course and Day 1 I cannot do the crab walks! My horribly tight shoulders/chest prevent my arms from going back far enough to support myself. This is going to take some work and infuse it with plenty of Supple Leopard exercises to restore mobility.
Damn that is tight and screams you really need the mobility work. Best thing you can do for your body.
Fantastic podcast, the attention to detail of Coach Sommer is unparalleled. I especially enjoyed the insight about building connective tissue strength and joint preparation, even if you’re not doing gymnastics, these are so important to prevent injuries, but very few talk about it.
It’s very rare that I re-listen to 3 hour podcasts, but this one was that good!
I looked at the affiliates on the GB site but I don’t see any place in Los Angeles. Is there 1 (or more) gym(s) you would recommend there? Thanks!
Is there any way you can share the knee program? I have had chronic patella tendonitis for over 20 years (yes- this means I kept slamming my hand in the door) and would love to help fix the problem.
Sorry- Also, on the podcast I thought I heard that you would be providing sample videos/links on how to perform some of the movements that you and Coach Sommer discussed, however, the link you attached above for gymasticbodies just takes you to the fundamentals purchase page. Not sure if you have to purchase to obtain those or not. Thanks again
Would be great to have a few images in the shownotes with the different positions talked about.
Having done gymnastic in my youth I can only emphasis on how good it is for the body.
Thanks for the variety of topics on the podcast Tim. Suggestions: Robby Naish (windsurf – it’s like surf x100 in sensation & strenght) & Mike Horn (explorer – pretty sure you have read his book “Latitude Zero”, if not highly recommended for the craziness of the adventure he took on)
Awesome podcast. Love the ones that are long and packed full of great info like this. I have a question: Can anyone elaborate on what is in the Foundations course? A short-term goal for me is to be able to simply touch the floor with my hands with straight legs. I’m wondering if I can get that far with that course. Is it mostly mobility work/stretching? Thanks for taking time to put this together Tim and Coach!
Is there anywhere in Los Angeles (preferably near Venice/Culver) to get this training in person?
Sorry, no GB Affiliates in L.A. Yet!
Did you find a place/person to train with yet? I’m looking at going to LA Gymnastics in Culver City and following Chris’s starter course
I live in Silver Lake and would love something like this.
Another wonderful, informative podcast, Tim!
Question: Any chance Coach Sommer can recommend someplace in NYC to train/practice?
You are in luck, Lisa. One of my senior students own Transform Fitness in NYC.
Wonderful! Thank you, Coach!
First of all thanks for the podcasts, they are great!
I am thrilled to see you getting started on gymnastics training, especially with GymnasticBodies and Coach Sommer, as I am firm believer in his method. I am curious as to what kind of training regimen you are currently doing. Are you training only the progressions for the goals you have or do you go through all progressions in Coach’s program?
Excellent discussion, thank you both very much!
I have looked for information, both here in the comments and elsewhere, regarding the equipement and space needed to begin the fundamentals program. What equipment is needed to begin with the basics? Do you need rings, stahl bar, etc?
Fundamentals requires no equipment other than floor space.
Another great podcast. This was fantastic for me as a I currently taking handstand classes at the circus school in San Francisco and GB seems to have a good course on handstand progressions also. A couple of questions:
*Tim interviews a lot of experts in different fields of training (Chris Sommers, Pavel, Kelly Starrett). These experts sometimes have conflicting beliefs (Pavels belief of strength being the most important while Chris saying that you should be fully mobile before engaging in strength). My question is, with so many different from experts how do you choose which training modality best suits you? For me, I want something that keeps me well prepared physically for when I need it (going on a hike on a Saturday, sprinting 10 blocks in case of an emergency) and gives me a good base when I want to train for an event (marathon, triathlon, adventure race, etc). As Tim has done a lot of research in this area I am interested to understand how he looks at fitness and what training protocol he would suggest that best fits the description above. I think I heard Tim say on a podcast that fitness is a state of readiness. What training protocol makes you the most ready for a variety of typical situations an active adult might find themselves in?
Also, I am very impressed with how well Tim knows his audience. When he was describing a former athlete who eats pretty well, 35 years old, etc I felt like he was describing me to a tee. Well done.
Wanted to suggest a future podcast guest. Tim specializes in interviewing people from a variety of fields. One field that has not been on the podcast yet is the field of dance. This is surprising given Tim’s previous experience with tango and breakdancing. A person who I would love to see interviewed is Parris Goebel (http://www.parrisgoebel.com/biography.html). She is the best choreographer alive right now and is having incredible success in a field that is very difficult to succeed in and she’s in her mid-twenties. Here is an example of some of her work:
*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRh_vgS2dFE – 13th most viewed youtube video of all time
*https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJy6sR0-MVQ – over 6 million views
*https://www.instagram.com/p/BEm8UfDFL_t/?taken-by=royalfamilydotcom&hl=en – just awesome
That’s it. Thank you!
Thanks for all the specifics in this and many other podcasts. Suits me totally. It was tipped to me by a Dutch journalist some weeks ago and I didn’t stop listening since then. I agree with the suggestion of bringing in a dancer – choreographer (I wouldn’t mind more arts in general) – I was thinking the same thing after this episode. And I would also be VERY interested in hearing a pro about Pilates (could be a combo with dance too?) and all its possible health benefits. I have a primary form of lymphedema in my right leg and I am using the method for a year now, with good results. Love from Belgium.
I liked this comment! +1 vote. Recently saw the “Red Bull Flying Bach” breakdance meets classical fusion. Any one of those world champ breakdancers too!
Question for Coach Christopher Sommer: How can you determine if a person is hyper flexible or simply lacks strength and stability in their joints? I did CF on/off for 4 years, then had a child and took 2 years away from any sort of exercise… and now I’m doing Yoga and have received questions from the instructors asking if I’ve been doing yoga for years because of my ‘flexibility’… I’d like to get into GST but am unaware of how to test myself. Any suggestions? (male, 33, 6’/180lbs) Thanks!!!
I think you have already answered your own question. Untrained joints in the majority of adults get tighter with disuse, not more mobile.
Now there are individuals who have a perfect balance of strength and mobility. Both very strong and very mobile at the same time. But they are exceedingly rare. Out of thousands of athletes I have worked with, only 4 or 5 have fit into this category.
A daily stretching routine was mentioned that focused on different areas each day. Is there some material further explaining amount of time and movements?
Thank you for the great consistent podcasts
Linking Quinn Henoch, https://www.instagram.com/quinn.henochdpt/
A lot of valuable information.
Where are the videos you referred to in the podcast?
I didn’t find the PH.D named Quin ? SOmething? in the show notes who’s referenced in the portion regarding Jefferson curl safety. Time stamp around 1:02:05?
quinn henoch, there is several interviews with him over at the movement fix podcast
Tim, you mentioned everybody should check their labs more often than they have their car checked …. excellent point! Even though I’m a surgeon, I’m guilty as charged and need a full lab evaluation. Could you please list the labs you would suggest checking, or provide a link to such a list? Great podcast, thanks!
And since you life in SF, is there a gym in SF where one could get this training? Thanks again.
Wow. Just bought gymnasticbodies.com/tim and started day 1 ….. crab and ape kicked my ass. I gotta loooooong way to go …..
Love the idea of GSTI’m 48 and lost 40 pounds last year and looking for a new challenge. I’m wondering if there is a recommended gym where I could do in person, I feel like my body mechanics are too f-ed up to rely on video series. Thanks. I’ll be honest I didn’t think I’d enjoy this episode near as much as I did
It depends on where you live- there are Affiliates all over the world, but limited in number. It’s not an easy process, as Coach selects them himself. I am based out of Norther VA- we have affiliates in Australia, England, Singapore, Denver, NYC…
I’m in the Boston area
NYC is the closest that I have a senior instructor to Boston. Drop Paul a note at Transform Fitness.
All – during the podcast Tim and his guest talked about good knee exercises that would make ones knee feel stronger. Tim said he would post information about those knee exercises, does anyone know if this information was posted and if so, where I may locate it?
First off, great podcast. You both touched on a bunch of points I was looking for. I’m on the down slope of my thirties and am still trying to play like I’m 20. I’m a former varsity coach and player. I hurt everyday in my knees and hips. I purchased the fundamentals today and did the first set of stretches. I could not do the variation and even the basic form needs some work. For what it’s worth, I would recommend giving it a try.
I have an increased range of motion in most cases due to having hyper-mobile joints and need to stabilize my joints. Will the fundamentals course be suitable to assist me?
Thanks for taking the time out to chat with us. Been following you for quite some time. Looking for a gym im the Brooklyn NY area. Thanks for all you do.
Tim, Great podcast! As former SOF I can related to the damage that can be done to the human body and how strength and endurance can only do so much. Over time I’ve naturally balanced hard training with martial arts and stretching, but this is much more grounded in physiology. I’d love to see this fully integrated into our SOF programs and keep the injuries down. I’ll see what it can do for a 40-something…. Keep it up Tim and Coach!
I was surprised to learn on my last trip to Australia, that the Australian SAS community uses my materials extensively in some of their training manuals.
Favourite episode of the year so far. Thanks to both Tim & Coach Sommer’s for this. Makes me want to run out and find someone doing this sort of training (in Sydney). As a 50yo desk jockey I definitely need to kick off mobility exercises of this sort to avoid becoming (or get off the track from) that hunched over old person!
Pretty sure they do GST training at the Lift Performance centre around Surry Hills / Redfern. Looks like there is a 2 day seminar around November this year.
Hi Mike, the list of affiliates is available here: https://www.gymnasticbodies.com/affiliates/
I am about halfway through this amazing show and I must say that I am most interested in Coach Sommers’ comments about the neutral spine position as I have been training with Kettlebells. A neutral spine position is very critical in Stronfirst’s hardstyle techniques. What is Coach Sommers’ opinion on this?
Neutral spine or lordic arch while lifting maximizes leverage. But attempting to maintain a neutral spine on the field of play can’t be done as it is literally impossible to run, jump, climb, throw etc while doing so. As such it is important to train the spine to articulate with power from arch to hollow and from hollow to arch.
Dr Stuart McGill who is a professor of spine mechanics at Waterloo uni in Canada on Jefferson curl… http://themovementfix.com/podcast-ep-13-with-dr-stuart-mcgill/
Takeaway is why flex or extend spine under load when it is well known that repeated flex/extension even under modest load, like situps, causes collagen fibres to get loose, enough cycles causes delamination. You dont need to do this to get a strong core. But, if you want to get more reach, flexibility, sure, it will help but at what price over time?
This is great, more people should listen to this interview of dr. McGill before jumping into jefferson curls and similar nonsense.
This kind of thing really frustrates me. I get that Tim isn’t the author or creator of the conflicting content, but when you have two “experts” that both sound like they know what they’re talking about, and they disagree, we as the consumers of the content are stuck.
We have one person telling us Jefferson curls are a fantastic exercise, and another telling us they’re dangerous.
We had Pavel telling us how great swings are, and Kelly Starrett telling us he’d avoid them.
I’m vegetarian, borderline vegan, and have seen a lot of the pro-plant based diet research. Yet there’s always people on the other side, with varying degrees of knowledge and credibility, with the opposing side of the argument.
It leaves me in the middle, not sure which “expert” is trustworthy, and not enough time in the day to read all these studies myself, not to mention an insufficient science/medical background to fully understand all these studies even if I read them.
I hate the idea that what I’m likely doing is simply listening to the more persuasive sounding expert, knowing that this isn’t an indicator of rightness. Or more often then not, sticking with the status quo, rather than adopt a new practice, because the experts can’t agree.
I’d love to see a rebuttal here from Coach Sommers. I have joint pain and issues I believe are caused by lack of focus on my connective tissue, and I was pretty set towards trying GST, but this makes me hesitate. I’d love to not have a sore elbow but not at the risk of spinal damage.
@Brian J Man, do I feel you. I find all these different approaches incredibly fascinating, but often conflicting. How can they all be right? I do wonder if the variability comes down to the individual and their ability to adapt to different kinds of approaches, but that doesn’t help if you don’t know what your ‘type’ is. All I can hope for is to gather enough information to explore what seems to work for me and go with that.
I could not agree more. I absolutely love your podcast. But one point of criticism I stumbled upon more than one time is you refusing to critically question/discuss your guests points. Best example already mentioned: Kettlebell Swings Pavel vs. Polloquin. With you Kettlebell Background Tim I would love some more indepth questioning of such an statement.
I agree. I recognise that you dont want to get into an awkward position with guests but there are obvious alternate viewpoints that from your prior interviews you will know about so you could always pose in an amicable way why is there so much confusion around x. e.g. Kelly Starrett and Stuart McGill worry about load under flexion extension and are both extremely credible sources who show you can do most movements including sports with a stiff spine so, why would we need to do Jefferson curls? (Just picking on one point relevant on this podcast)
Please share examples of movements which can be performed on the field of play with a stiff spine as I am not aware of any. Certainly not running. Certainly not jumping, Certainly not throwing.
I am aware some sports require spine flexion /extension but as Kelly Starrett has gone to great lengths to show, even rowers, with some thought you can minimises the need minimal flexion /extension. Just because a sport requires you to do something that over time causes damage does not mean therefore it is advisable.
Even presuming your point that some movements obviously need extension /flexion does not logically mean that therefore one needs to deliberately train in extension/flexion as Stuart McGill notes one can develop great strength in the torso without such exercises.
Coach Sommers with all due respect I think you are missing the point. Neither Jonathan nor I are saying you are wrong. I am by far not in the position to argue against your knowledge. The point is though: There are very knowledgeable, highly respected people out there who would seemingly disagree.(not only with you but also e.g. Swings Polloquin vs. Pavel) We only wish for discussing these differences as this might lead to a deeper understanding for all of us.
To be fair the interviewer did not present the Jefferson Curl properly to McGill.
First of all it is not only a vertebrae strengthening exercise, but also a flexibility exercise because you aim for full range of motion in the pike position. In that sense Jefferson Curls introduce pike stretching with an external force pressing you deeper into the position. Second of all, people do not start with a 20 kg bar. People start with maximally 5 kg and build up over time.
With that said I also believe the Jefferson Curls to be dangerous when loaded too much. I do not believe 20 kg will result in cumulative enough damage to degenerate the collagen in the spine spine, but the people doing half to full body weight curls might be in risk of spinal damage.
If we consider the possibility of different vertebrae shapes and the possibility of increased flexion tolerance from flexion work over a period of many years we should not just write it off as an exercise – as is what McGill starts out by saying.
I would agree that the way the Jefferson Curls are being approached is outright dangerous for some. The belief that months can lead to 20 kg JC or a single year for 1/2 body weight just because you feel fine is a dangerous way of thinking. As Stuart McGill said himself there are no way we can predict collagen damage just by feeling (we need methods like ultrasound to discover thickness of collagen). Only when the nerve is getting crushed by bone tissue we are able to feel it.
On the other hand I have not heard of a single person having injured themselves from JC. It may be true that flexion work might continuously increase tolerance in the spine, despite there being inconclusive scientific studies to establish that as a principle.
Conclusion must be that if you choose to do JC you must keep good form. Furthermore, also minimize force and velocity, also sets and reps and total JC training days. Finally, build up to 20 kg maximally over let us say 1 year and stay at that weight, unless studies confirm the hypothesis of increased flexion tolerance from flexion work.
The best description I’ve heard that’ll help is Paul Grilley on yin yoga. There’s a massive myth in western philosophy that you cannot exercise the joints and connective tissue. That is true but only if you apply the yang methods seen in gyms of fast heavy loads or high reps. Yin is static and brittle with yang as dynamic. Get Paul’s dvd on the physiology behind x tissue building.
What scares me with the jeff curl which coach touches on, is the weight. That is one part. Speed and reps can just be as damaging for x tissue. Don’t be afraid to stress the joints but you have to apply a different mindset of extremely slow even static minimal loads for longer periods.
Paul Grilley is a great addition to the conversation.
I’ve practiced Yin for years, and have studied with Paul (*excellent* teacher, imo). I do feel that Grilley’s approach when combined with Starrett and Sommer is SIGNIFICANTLY more complete, however, than when taken in isolation (Starrett’s suggestion of the “normalcy” of the ability to squat with feet together, feels more correct to me [a personal trainer with significant “client hours” of observed patterns] versus Grilley’s explanation that the bones are a significant impediment). In any event, all (rightly) believe that it IS possible AND NECESSARY to exercise joints and connective tissue (although I’m not sure what you mean by “brittle” wrt to Yin).
The Jefferson Curl, as Sommer points out, is an adaptive exercise, which – as Grilley points out with potentially injurious postures in Yin – should be approached with a HIGH degree of care and introspection (Sommer: “No Brain, No Gain”; Grilley: “Engage the posture intelligently – injury is no more valid than wasting your time in a posture). No need to add weight until the pattern is correctly worn in, and the tissues have adapted…
Dr. Stu McGill would be great to have on the podcast. I would think risk vs reward. What is the benefit of JC? Spinal mobility? There are safer mobility drills for thoracic mobility. I have not heard too many strength and conditioning coaches promoting lumbar flexibility. Generally I thought to enhance athletic performance you would want too enhance thoracic and hip mobility and lumbar spine, knee stability.
Any movement into deep hip flexion I thought you would want to engage lats, lower traps to stabilize thoracic spine and load glutes….
If you are attempting this movement I suggest you are not just searching on youtube!
This is a very competitive field. I would trust your body and beware of potential health risks vs benefit for any exercise your perform!
Great advice. I wish I listened to this before I started training at home. I just hurt my shoulder…
Great episode! So many tangible advices. Worth every minute of listening.
For those looking for a video example of the QL Walk, found one here https://youtu.be/eixkcrX_Qh8?t=6m8s
Think I’ll do this at home BEFORE I head to the gym
Great link, thanks!
Hi Tim Really liked this episode but it is very hard to visualise some of this stuff without videos or images. The gymnasticbodies.com/tim link does not have any videos, images etc as you have described only a discount coupon for gymnastic bodies.
Gymnastic Bodies has a youtube channel, Instagram, and Facebook. All content is free…check them out.
Awesome. So many exercises I never heard of and a BS-free zone. Kind of like learning gymnastics from John Wayne.
What protein powder do you use? Heard soy lecithin in protein powders are bad, and artificial sweeteners. Can you help me find a healthy protein powder? Thank you so much!
What was the biggest mistake and best idea you ever had in life?
23 year old, drinking wine on her own, reading your book (page 62) and wondering if you will answer my question by PM
You’ve made my day. I train capoeira and have recently turned my attention to strength training and flexibility in order to crush my current plateau. I’ve started doing Ido Portal’s mobility/flexibility exercises but this looks great! Any advice on whether I should go with Fundamentals or Foundation 1? I’d like to pair that up with handstands.
If you have experience, perhaps Foundation1-4 is a good start. But to play it safe, Fundamentals is probably your best bet. You do know that Ido was Coach Sommer’s student, right? It’s probably best to get the knowledge from the source. Good luck!
I did not know that. Thanks!
I wonder if that’s where his criticisms of gymnastics’ “obsession” with the hollow position comes from. 😉
Hey Tim and Coach, some other people have made comments on this as well, can you talk more about these knee exercises? Maybe this could be your next product Chris, as a bunch of people are asking for it.
Thanks a lot guys, i’ve had to listen 3 times to catch it all!
Tim, concerning bodyweight training, you have to interview Olivier Lafay !
He’s the top seller in France for the last 10 years, he changed french fitness, his books are translated in several languages and he’s an educated philosopher (university trained).
He’s the one who put me, through his books, in shape.
Maybe Charles Poliquin will know him or his work.
His favorite concept is “L’efficience” so I think you guys should understand each others 🙂
Has anyone done Foundations 1? What equipment is required? Can it just be done at home?
I believe this is the Jane Fonda Bullshit Pike Pulse. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
How many should you do? Sets Reps?
aaaar i was looking for it. Thanks.
By far one of my favorite TF podcasts thus far. Thorough and precise detail! Regarding the pike pulse-after extending your arms by your sides, do you plant your fingertips by your shins/ankles? Or are the arms floating while simultaneously attempting to elevate the heels? Cheers, Tim and Coach Sommer! Thanks!
Thanks Tim. You revolutionise peoples lives. (well at least mine.)
The past several podcasts have been incredible, and this was icing on the cake. I plan on using the promo code and getting started w/ this program (the beginner course). I’m really glad you’ve been doing the program yourself for a few weeks too Tim. Your podcast is a huge value and I listen to it nearly every day. Coach Sommer is a boss, and I can’t wait to get started.
Hey Ian, what is the promo code for the program?
Are you related to Timothy who had something to do with the Golden Record on the Voyager 1?
Timothy Feris, sorry
You know this is an awesome podcast when it motivates you to try something new!! So excited to try a new method of excerise.
I’ve always been very naturally flexible. Now at 23, I’m super flexible but have zero upped body strength. I practice Ashtanga yoga but not at a consistent basis that it provides me results (I get too bored with it). I tried out the Awaken Gymantic’s promo video and noticed that my all time favorite yogi (Kino MacGreggor) does the same shoulder work outs before her practice (including the same sequence).
Long story short: I’m wondering if the fundamentals class will address strength (I know majority of the world is highly in flexible) and if I will be challenged outside of the stretching?
I’ve listened to about 95% of the podcasts and I’m SO glad this one finally came out. I’ve been doing Frank Medrano’s intermediate calisthenics program (which I’m sure he didn’t create entirely himself) for about 3-4 months now and I’ve been having more fun than ever in the gym doing body weight workouts.
I’ve finally been able to do a muscle up and I’ve improved on plenty of the exercises, but I’m lagging behind in other areas including flexibility, handstands, back levers, and probably mobility. Gymnastic Bodies looks like a really good program to bridge a lot of those gaps. I’m stoked that Tim is trying it out. Still on the fence because of the price..but I may give in.
Anyone notice a movement away from the typical weight gym towards gymnastics and calisthenics? It seems like every time I’m doing my bodyweight workouts, someone comes up to me and starts asking questions because they’re interested in getting started as well. It’s nice to see 🙂
Thanks Tim, more than you know! At 31, you’ve given me a whole new set of role models than I had in my 20’s and I’ve read dozens of books because of your podcast. Keep up the inspirational work.
I got really inspired by this podcast– I’m 42, with pectus excavatum and never had a very regular fitness routine, though I am in pretty good shape although tall and skinny– What I liked about this is that I’m willing to lay down the foundation first. I would like to train here in Los Angeles– can you recommend a gym/trainer here?
Great show and this guy is clearly at a world class level. There were two points that I can’t get out of my head. First is the importance of a great coach and the sin that I never got one during my athletic carreer. The same goes for many people I know that were even better sports men.
The other is a kick in the butt to change the gym routine and get to the next level.
keep up the good work.
Another great podcast, thanks Tim! And timely. I am reading mostly musculoskeletal MRIs these last few months and it was awesome to correlate what you and Coach were discussing during the podcast to the imaging and pathology I’m seeing every day.
If someone reasonably athletic who has major, but pretty typical mobility issues in the shoulders, hamstrings, and calves (but no injuries) wanted to seriously get into this, is the FUNDAMENTALS course as mentioned in the podcast, recommended as the first thing to get? Thanks
Yes, Fundamentals would be the first step.
This is a great podcast, may be the best on training so far – Thank you so much (I have just started to work on my fundamentals via the GST online course). I am wondering, how the mobility work/drills in GST relate to the work of Dr. Kelly Starrett and others (foam rolling, smashing, flossing, bands, etc.). It would be great if you both, Tim and Coach Sommer could comment on this. All the best!