Refining Your Tune Through Movement

The ease with which we can transition into and out of the various Archetypal Postures of squatting, kneeling and cross-legged positions – as discussed in Why We Should Sit on the Floor – is related to our biomechanical tune.  These postures serve as a corrective mechanism to preserve a harmony of movement between our muscles, fascia and sinew, without which we can find ourselves at odds with the freedom of movement. For example; knee joint crepitus (the crackling noise associated with joint movement) can be directly associated with the loss of ease in the Archetypal Postures. When you cannot squat (heals down, knees over toes, with arches lifted) the knee experiences intra-compartmental pressure that are malignly altered so that wear and tear on the joint is accelerated. Over the year, being out of tune will gradually distort your musculoskeletal structure and lead to premature again of the legs and lower back in particular.

Why can’t I stretch my way to tune, like we used to do in gym class? Before you bend over to touch your toes, listen to what former U.S. National Gymnastics coach and author of Building the Gymnastic Body, Christopher Sommers has to say; “flexibility can be passive, whereas mobility requires that you can demonstrate strength throughout the entire range of motion.” The individual muscle concept presented in traditional anatomy class gives a purely mechanical model of movement by separating things into discrete, executable functions that fail provide an accurate picture of the seamless integration seen in a living body – when one part moves, the body responds as a whole. Thus, the ability to transition into and out of a squat requires more than any one muscle being flexible. The approach to mobility parallels biomechanical tune, in that they engender a systemic or whole-body foundation. Efficient structural relationships, therefore, must be exposed and resolved within the individual so that one can grow out of a the dysfunctional pattern.

We can achieve better biomechanical tune by:

1.     Enacting a healthy load upon the system that will positively remodel its architecture. Regular loading (read: floor-sitting and rising) within the healthy limits of an individual induces a muscle and it’s surrounding tissues to remodel elasticity on a progressive basis. A lack of loading not only reduces the mobility surrounding a set of muscle and tissue, but will also reduce the available recoil native to that muscle. In other words, a sedentary person leaving the couch will face a much greater challenge getting into and out of any given Archetypal Posture

2.     Training the body to react to a variety of postures. Working on isolated groups may stretch that muscle well, but it can leave out many fascial tissues necessary for a healthy body’s functional movement. For instance, tight hamstrings are often thought to be the cause of low back pain and as such individuals will proceed to do the standard hamstring stretch to little benefit. As stated before, no movement isolates a single muscle. Our body’s all work by things pulling in different directions with an appreciable balance, so why not work on mobility the same way. Moving the body to the floor and back up again, while experiencing the varieties of squatting, kneeling and cross-legged postures not only builds elasticity within tissues but the strength in the muscle and sinew allowing for greater coordination of movement.

How can I get better at any given posture? The answer is fairly simple… move into and out of a variety of postures as often as you can. Here’s how:

Start here if you're a beginner:
If you have not lived on the floor since you learned how to walk, then you will need to reestablish your foundation. Have a solid chair present that will allow you to make your way down to the floor. Do it step-by-step, respecting any pains you encounter. From a cross-legged posture, use your arms to reach out for the chair to help you twist up to a toe-sitting posture. Twisting your way up and down from the floor is the most biomechanically efficient way of transitioning. Once you are in a toe-sitting posture, bring one leg through so that the foot is flat on the floor and the knee is at a forward angle – make sure the knee doesn’t fall inside the line of the big toe, but maintains a steady position over the smaller toes. To get up you will need to push from the back foot, transitioning the balance of your weight onto the front foot as you rise. Help yourself by using your arms if needed.

Complementary Exercises: Leg Swings


Intermediate Level:
If you are comfortable on the floor in most of the Archetypal Postures then you will want to work on strengthening your erector muscles (those that help you rise) by repeating transitions from floor-to-standing through a variety of techniques and repetitions. Start with 10 times up/down using the exercise mentioned above, alternating the forward leg with each subsequent transition. If possible, do not use your arms for assistance as it makes a big difference. Try transitioning all the way up 10 times form a supine position by rolling to either side and then twisting to a sitting position, then fully erect. There is no right way to rise, ancestral cultures have adapted to many different styles so allow your body to find its way. That said, do remember to keep good form. If you get tired and your form deteriorates, then you should stop. Injuring yourself and collapsing to the floor does not count toward reestablishing a solid relationship with the floor.

Complementary Exercises: Foam Rolling & Walking Spider-man's


Advanced Level: 
If you have perfected your technique and are capable of repeated transitions with good form then you may want to increase the difficulty (and fun!) of the exercise. From a fully supine position try to rise without utilizing a twisting motion. By brining your knees to your chest to gain momentum, roll back and go straight into a full squat and rise straight up. Repeat 10 times. From a standing position, drop down into a full squat (heals down, knees over smaller toes, with arches lifted) and rise back up, keep arms out in front as a counter-balance if necessary. Repeat 10 times with arms out, then 10 times with arms in. From a cross-legged posture, bring your feet in close and spring straight up, untwisting your legs as you stand fully erect. Repeat 10 times. From the toe-sitting posture you can explode out of the position by pushing your hips forward and landing in a full squat position. Repeat 10 times. Again, there is no right way to move. Have fun and be safe with your erections.

Complementary Exercises: Cossask Squat & Overhead Squat



These exercises, or erectorsices, are a fundamental movement pattern. They have naturally emerged from floor living, so return to them often when you eat your meals, read your books or visit with your friends.

Pearls of Wisdom

Pearls of Training Wisdom from Ed Coan, Charles R. Poliquin and Matt Wenning

Bench Press

Correct Grip Width

Grip width is a function of your biomechanics and needs to be set according to this. Biomechanics change from athlete to athlete due to shoulder width, length of the humerus and length of the forearms. A simple way to figure this out is to go into your natural push-up position, the body automatically selects the grip width you’re the strongest in and feels the best. That’s your competitive bench press grip. Just because you´re allowed to grip wider doesn´t mean it’s good for you.

Bench More with Structural Balance

Train your rotator cuff muscles and scapular retractors for a big bench and healthy shoulders. How are you supposed to bench big weights if you can´t even stabilize them? That’s like putting a Lamborghini engine into a Civic while still relying on the Civic’s breaking system. You´re just begging for an injury. 

Drive your head into the bench on the concentric phase of the lift

This activates your neck extensors and puts another 2-7 kg on your bench. Strong neck extensors potentiate every upper body lift.


Always keep your Sternum high

And pick a spot somewhere in front of you that’s slightly above to look at. This ensures that your head is high at all times. Your eyes dictate where the body goes. Look down and you’ll round forward.

Warm up your weak and/or inactive muscles before you train

Pick 3 exercises to address them and try to get those muscles working. Don’t smash yourself on the warm up, just potentiate those muscles. If you sit on your ass the whole day your glutes are most likely inactive and the lower back will take over a large portion of the work. I´m sure you experienced this at some point: your lower back is completely fatigued after squatting. That’s because your glutes are not firing.

60-70% of your total training volume should be traction based exercises for your spine

Heavy squatting and deadlifting always compress your spine so make sure you decompress it when doing your accessory work for more longevity.


The deadlift has a disadvantage to the bench press and the squat

This is because there´s no eccentric movement preceding the concentric phase. In the other two lifts it´s possible to correct your form on the way down but with deadlifts you can’t. That’s why the starting position is most important.

Deadlift cycles are the shortest due to their demand on the nervous system

Stretch your hip flexors statically before deadlifting

This will put another 5-15 kg on your deadlift. Tight hip flexors inhibit the strength of your hip extensors.

What is Functional Strength Training?

Do you live to exercise? Unless you are an athlete, you probably answered no to that question. Most people are simply looking to improve their quality of life and would likely say that they exercise to live. And that is the focus of Functional Strength Training – to develop a foundation of strength and mobility within the body so that it may accomplish daily activities more easily.

What is Functional Strength Training?

Functional Strength Training exercises are designed to train and develop your muscles to make it easier and safer to perform everyday activities, such as carrying groceries, picking objects up off the ground, or playing a pick-up game of basketball. A typical workout will incorporate various movements using muscles from the upper and lower body, as well as everything in between.

What is an example of a Functional Strength Training movement?

Functional exercises tend to be multi-joint, multi-muscle movements. 

A squat is a functional strength exercise because it trains the muscles used when you rise up and down from a chair or pick up low objects. You can see that it is both multi-joint and multi-muscle; incorporating the joints of the ankles, knees and hips, and the muscles such as the quadriceps and gluteal muscles. By training your muscles to work the way they do in everyday tasks, you prepare your body to perform well in a variety of tasks.

What are the benefits?

The benefits are multifaceted. Functional Strength Training, properly applied, will allow for a better quality of life by making everyday activities easier. With an increase in muscular strength, your body will become more functionally sound leading to improvements in balance, agility and help reduce the risk of falls.

Is Functional Strength Training for everyone?

Yes! Functional Strength Training is for everyone, as it can be adapted to any fitness level. If you are just starting out, you may only need to use your own body weight for resistance. As you become more fit and ready for more of a challenge, you can progress to using weights as your primary form of resistance.

What is the payoff?

 As you add more functional strength exercises to your workout, you should see improvements in your ability to perform your everyday activities, and, thus in your quality of life. That is quite a return on your exercise investment.

For more information on how you can get started with a Functional Strength Training routine please contact: Stay Strong | Strength & Conditioning today!