Archives for the month of: August, 2012

Here at fitcorp we generally screen our clients with something called the Functional Movement Screen (or FMS). It allows us to see how our clients move, pick out any dysfunction, and/or movement compensations. There’s seven movements screened; the scoring is scaled from 1-3, 3 being the best.

If you’ve been following my posts, you know I’ve been dealing with back pain that’s had me out of the game for months now. I was having a casual conversation with my PT director about it and he asked if he could FMS me.  So, as is the standard he first tested my deep squat.

“It’s a good squat, but it’s not a 3.”

Much to my dismay… I was not a 3.

He had me stand in front of a wall and my squat was a different story. I couldn’t make it past parallel and I felt an immense tightness in my mid and upper back. Generally, not being able to stay upright in a deep squat means youre lacking somewhere in mobilty (usually shoulder, tspine or ankle) or motor control (that’s beyond the scope of this post). What the hell! I am the queen of thoracic mobility and squat patterning drills.

There must be some other factor in this equation.

But to be honest, I don’t know what it is. In most corrective exercise theories, you re-pattern movement from the ground up. So my director gave me some drills to get me to a perfect 3. These included supine leg slides and goblet squat with a bicep curl. The third one was face-the-wall squats. In theory you should be able to go into an overhead deep squat with your toes touching a wall. You may giggle at the thought of that but just wait until you fall over approximately 42 times trying it and then come talk to me.

In leu of this frustration I discovered something cool (I think).

The Cable Assisted Overhead Squat

1. Attach a straight bar at the highest setting possible
2. Start with setting the weight at about 2/3 your body weight
3. Stand in a cable very close to the column (like- uncomfortably close)
4. Rock your weight on your heels and start to go into a deep squat
5. Depending on how tall you are, at a certain point your arms will straighten and the weight will start to assist you and allow you to go deeper
6. Hang out at the bottom, tuck your shoulder blades down and allow your hips to open and feel the stretch in your upper back
7. Now try to move your weight into your mid foot and heel
8. Push through your heels and stand up
Decrease the weight until the movement is challenging but doable
This is your starting weight. Perform 3 sets of 15 every day for 1 week and decrease your weight each week

Ignore Steve being a pain in my arse. =)

As soon as I tried this on myself, I had to experiment with someone else. Just in time a member walked by who I knew experienced chronic back pain. I set him in position, cued and spotted him through the movement. What do ya know, I got him in a perfect 3 deep squat. He expressed what a great stretch it was and how fantastic it felt.

I’ll go out on a limb and say I’m probably not the first person ever to think of this theory; but I just may be the first person to impliment the cable machine. I plan on trying this with a few clients I have in mind (and myself) to see if I can progress them to an perfect 3 unassisted overhead squat. I will report back with results.

Try it yourself and let me know how it goes!



Happy Monday!

I hope everyone had a lovely weekend. We finally had some sunshine this weekend here in Boston. I celebrated my Italian heritage on Sunday and made it down to the north end for St. Anthony’s Feast. I may or may not have had an eggplant parm sub. (I did, and it was ahhhsome.) It was a lovely day and I got in about 3 hours of walking with some friends around the city. Sometimes it’s nice to not have a formal workout on the weekends but rather just get out and do something physically active. That can be the best physical AND mental recovery for a long week of working hard in the gym and in the office.

However, we’re somehow back to Monday and it’s time to get back at it!

Here’s your WUOTW:

1. Knee banded side lying clams- Glute activation, glute medius activation

Lay on your side with a mini band around your knees. Bring your knees to your chest so your hips and knees are at 90 degrees. Make sure your hips, knees and feet all stay stacked (especially when you start moving). Keep your feet together and open your knees. This should not be a big range of motion; you should feel the burn on the side of your butt after a few reps. Perform 10-15 per side.

2. Supine 45 degree leg lowers- active hamstring stretch, core activator, tri-planar movement

This is a progression from the standard leg lowers. Instead of going straight down with the moving leg, you’re going to bring it slightly out to 45 degrees. You will feel this more in the inner and outer thigh. Repeat 10x/side.

3. T-spine extensions on Foam Roller- Tspine mobilization

Start with the foam roller wedged at the top of your low back. Knees bent, feet flat, butt on the floor, support your head with your hands. Let gravity do the work and lean back as far as possible. This probably will feel pretty uncomfortable. Repeat 5 times, roll the FR up a couple segments toward your head. This position will feel better and more mobile than the first.  Repeat another 5 times.

Warning: Be cautious that you’re not using your lumbar spine for extension, which looks like this:

Substituting lumbar extension for thoracic does no good.

Prevent that by contracting your abs and exhaling as your go backwards. This will lock your lumbar into place and force to use your t-spine for extension.

4.  Slow motion single leg mountain climber- core + upper body activator, hip flexor activator, movement prep for step-ups

Use a slider or sock

Put yourself in plank position with 1 toe on a slider. Slowly bring your knee to your chest as far as possible without letting your low back curve under. Repeat 10x/side.

5. Body weight step ups- – glute, hamstring, quad, and core activator

Pick a height were you can step up without excessive forward lean. Make sure you’re using your glutes and hamstrings and push your butt back when you step down. Try to load your knees as little as possible.



For the few months after my spasm, my back pain was minimal. It didn’t interrupt my everyday life; the only way I can describe it was that it just didn’t feel right. It was annoying, and I’ve spent a lot of time (and not to mention mula) rehabbing.

I haven’t been posting my training logs lately because well… they’re nothing to write home about. But I’ve been seeing my PT for 3 weeks now and I think it’s safe to say… I’M BACK! After two heavy training days this week and last I’ve self reported soreness in my glutes and hamstrings (and not my back). BOOYEAH. I’m back baby.

Training Log:

Warm up: foam roll, corrective exercise (hip ab/adduction activation), supine heel taps, supine overhead leg slides, light goblet squats, face-to-wall squats, lunge +reach progressions (prescribed by my PT), and box jumps. Admittedly, this warm up took about a half hour. I stole this workout from Stevie.

Deadlift- (warm up sets prior) 3×4…135lbs

Front loaded reverse barbell lunges 4×6/leg… 75lbs

Farmers carry 3x175ft… 24kg (about 53lbs per hand)

Inverted Row (smith machine) 3×6

I had a killer session yesterday. I left feeling great… and even better today. I’m one of those strange people that like feeling sore. Getting the booty sore is an accomplishment!




Happy Monday everyone!

I hope everyone had a relaxing and restful weekend. Summer is coming to an end in Boston, and I woke up with a temperature of 60 degrees this morning. I must admit, I think I am ready for fall. Although summer is my favorite season, the days of 90 degrees and 104% humidity have been plentiful this year and I’m kind of over it.

Weather men don’t lie…

I’m ready for hiking season!

Anyway, here is your new WUOTW. Enjoy!

A.  Glute Bridges with Overhead Reach- Glute and core activation, shoulder mobility.

This is a more dynamic version of the standard glute bridge. Get into normal bridge postion and clasp your hands with arms straight over head (toward ceiling). As you bridge your hips up, reach arms overhead to touch the floor. Bring hips down and arms back up. If you don’t yet have the shoulder mobility to touch the floor, grab the ends of a small towel instead of clasping your hands together.

B. Supine heel taps- Anterior core activator, anterior pelvic tilt corrective


Lay supine in table top position- make sure your hips and knees are 90 degrees and your low back is pushed into the floor; your abs should be turned on before you even start moving. Keeping your knees bent, lower 1 heel at a time, alternating feet.

C. Plank with Toe Taps- Core activator, shoulder stability, rotary stability

Get into plank position. In the picture shown above, her neck is slighly hyperextended; make sure you’re looking straight down without letting your head fall forward. Take your right toe and tap it out to the right side. Bring it back and repeat on the left side. Continue alternating legs.

D. 1/2 Kneel-To-Stand with Dowel


When you’re in the start position, make sure your head, upper back, and butt are in contact with the dowel. Focus on keeping your torso tall and driving through your front heel to stand up.

E. Walking Pigeon- Single leg stability, hip external rotation mobility

Get your balance on 1 leg and grab the outer foot of the opposite leg so that your calf is perpendicular to your body. Alternate legs and take a step between each grab.

Go get ’em!


Happy Monday everyone!

First and foremost I apologize for not posting last week. I’m in the middle of moving all of my room mates into our new apartment, and the last two weeks have been chaos to say the least! Things are finally settling in and we’ve gotten enough toilet paper to last the year 😀

Anyway, I figured it would be cool to have a weekly feature of something everyone could incorporate into their gym routine. What’s better than  a weekly warmup?

If you’re not doing a warmup before lifting, you’re doing yourself a disservice. And I’m not talkin’ about a 5 minute walk on the treadmill. I’m sure you’ve heard the benefits of warming up before, but just to remind you:

a. preps your body for the more compound, nervous-system-taxing movements you’re about to do

b. increases body tempurature and blood flow

c. preps joints with mobility and range of motion

d. releases soft tissue constraints, ‘lubricates’ and mobilizes soft tissue

e. activates correct muscles

f. helps to prevent injury!

For my first edition of WUOTW I’m going to give you my go-to warm up routine.  It’s most likely stuff you’ve seen before, and maybe some new ones. This is my most basic form of warmup. I will give you progressions in upcoming weeks. In the future, I will have videos for each warm up. However, today will just be photos.  Here’s what were workin’ with:

A. T-spine twist- thoracic mobility, shoulder mobility, pec stretch, posture enforcer

B. Glute Bridges- Activates core and glutes

C. Birddog- activates core, glutes, and stabilizers. Posture enforcer and shoulder stabilizer

D. 1/2 kneeling hip flexor stretch- hip mobilization, hip flexor stretch

E. Inchworms- whole posterior back line flexibility, core activation

F. Spidermans- hip mobilization, t-spine mobilization, core activation, hip flexor activation, hamstring stretch

In my opinion, one characteristic of a good warm up is that it works from the ground up. Start with the simplest activations/stretches and work into more dynamic and compound movement. Of course, this isn’t always the case; but it’s a good rule of thumb. A warm up doesn’t have to take longer than 5-10 minutes but will do you a world of good for your workout.

It’s Monday! Go get ’em.