If you train at CFR you have without a doubt noticed that we have made a few changes to our warm-up.  A lot of people have been asking questions like:

*Why is it important to do the breathing stuff?

*Why are we doing exercises on only one side?

*What is the point of these new exercises?

It’s our goal to make sure our clients are the most educated on the planet, so a simple “because it’s good for you” will not suffice. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we have been getting lately:

Breathing – There are thousands of benefits to deep breathing. Our goal with the breathing exercises we selected is a little deeper than what you will get from things like Yoga and Pilates.  When we ask you to complete our breathing patterns our goal is to:

  1. Restore your ribcage and pelvis to the proper position
  2. Restore the function of your diaphragm
  3. Get you out of “fight or flight mode”

So why does all of this stuff matter? Let’s keep this as simple as possible without getting into a bunch of therapist jargon.

  1. Everyone knows that they need a functional and strong core, but what most people don’t know is that it’s impossible to get a strong and functional core if your ribcage and pelvis are out of position.  By doing certain breathing exercises correctly, we can align the ribcage and pelvis, giving you the ability to train your core correctly. Almost everyone skips this step in the training process. This eventually leads to decreased results and back pain. This is the opposite of what we want. We want you to get great results and feel amazing, so a couple of minutes of quality breathing seems worth it to us.
  2. Another thing people who aren’t complete fitness and rehabilitation dorks never learn, is that proper diaphragm function is HUGE when it comes to staying healthy and strong.  Bad posture, stress, fear, anxiety, and many other factors contribute to loss of diaphragmatic function. When this happens, you will typically start breathing from accessory muscles like your throat, chest, upper back, and neck. This will then cause the muscles of the core that contribute to breathing to get weak or just quit working correctly. This once again, causes a variety of issues that cause lack of results and pain. Not to mention is causes people to slip into fight or flight mode.
  3. Fight or flight mode is another way to describe a dysfunction of the sympathetic nervous system. People that are type A personalities like myself are very susceptible to this, but it’s not something that only affects stress balls. Like I mentioned above, things like bad posture, stress, fear, anxiety, etc. are all causes of nervous system dysfunction. When you slip into fight or flight mode, you are at an extremely high risk of many health issues. Weight gain and lack of weight loss due to cortisol release are some of those issues. Restoring proper breathing patterns plays a major role in decreasing or eliminating sympathetic nervous system dysfunction. Once that is accomplished you will see an increase your fitness results, but more importantly your overall health and happiness.

The key to the breathing exercises we ask you to do is to breath in through our nose, exhale HARD through your mouth, drive the ribs down, hold the exhale for 5 seconds, and then keep the ribs down as you take your next breath.

One Sided Exercises – Myself, Dave, and Jared have spent hundreds of hours researching this topic, and honestly, explaining it is pretty difficult. However, here is a simple attempt:

Because of the fact that our liver is so big, our diaphragm is shaped asymmetrical to make room. This eventually causes asymmetry in the muscle function of the body. This causes the body to get a little twisted in one direction. When we do the exercises on one side, we are basically firing the muscles that will un-twist your body. Doing the exercises on both sides would just cancel out the effect.

Those points are why we have included these new exercises in the warm-up.  We use the FMS to find out exactly what your body needs, and then assign you custom corrective exercises for your individual needs. These new exercises are for issues that EVERYONE has, so we have added them to our general warm-up to make sure everything and everyone is covered.

This is just one more thing that adds to our COMPLETE approach to programming. Although it may be a little different, I assure you that the only reason that other gyms are not doing it is because they don’t understand yet and/or it takes a lot of extra work. It’s easy to make people sweat and feel like crap, but we get amazing results while making you feel great, move better, and learn more.  We hope you feel our extra work and the weirdness of it is worth the increase in results! 🙂

Steve Long

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