Clients Say the Darndest Things, #1, Front Squats

“I get it.  I just….I need to remember to just use my butt more.” ~M.S.

Use my butt more…words to a trainer’s ears.

1.) She can feel a major muscle group involved in the lift doing it’s job.  Always a plus.

2.) Though I don’t personally love cueing clients to “activate” anything, when you realize that putting more oomf  or drive into a body segment provides more force and feels better against the weight, it’s probably best to feed into that feeling.  Either that’s great and should be encouraged, ooooooor we need to adjust the lift, the weight, or the form to make it better suit your body type or athlete level.

3.) She’s starting to describe the lift in her own terms.  Instead of leaning on me to tell her when her reps are “right,” she’s identifying cues that help and transferring them into language she understands. So there’s a good chance when I’m not around she’ll remember them better (very helpful for all the monthly and 1x weekers out there).

Here’s a demo of the whiplash version:

And here’s more what we’re going for:

Watch the full side-by-side comparison here.

You can go through the vast internet hole and find many successful lifters using the thrust of their chest and thoracic extension to explode of out the hole.  However, this is a specific example of one client, not a professional lifter, and the variation of lift I’ve chosen specifically to work for her.  Why?  Many reasons, but mostly we’re working on Ms. Thinky Type A not just using her head to provide the initial spark for movement.  This is the job of thought, breathe, and the main drivers— not just getting stuck at the head and neck.  We’re not going for perfect; we’re just seeing how far we can get.

I mean, which is better for a squat, a strong neck or a strong boooooty?

Hugs & high fives.

NKT Review

Hello Adventurous and Wonderful People!

Thank you so much in helping me prepare and explore the world of NKT, Neurokinetic Therapy.  It’s been a crazy ride so far and I hope you’re as excited as I am to continue.  I figured I’d send this list along as something you can hold onto and refer back to as your come across questions in your own practice.  The protocol is as follows:

  1. Release
  2. Activate
  3. Strengthen

Shorting any of these steps will not likely result in a lock, so here’s a breakdown of each step.

Releasing a Muscle*

We release a muscle because it is inhibiting or taking over the function of another muscle or muscle group.  There are many ways to do this, but I usually demonstrate slight manipulation of “the spot” either with your own fingers or a tool (tennis ball, rumble roller) followed by stretching the line of pull of the muscle we’re releasing. A cheat for this is googling the facilitated muscle listed and to remind yourself if the picture and videos don’t help.  Also, email questions to or through Trainerize with your subsequent program.

  • Continue “stretching” until you feel a change for the better.  No specific numbers here.
  • Make sure you’re on the specific spot.  “Close, but no cigar” won’t work.
*Reactions to Releases
It is not uncommon to have some sort of reaction to releases.  Whether it’s a light headed positive feeling or more unpleasant like nausea or shortness of breathe, make sure to take care of yourself during this “positive change.”  Get water, go for a walk, or take a nap.  Sometimes a hug is appropriate as well, so ask if you need one.  
Keep talking to your care professional about how you are adjusting.  This isn’t a hard science and a LOT of environmental and emotional factors come into play.  If you have the urge to shut down, that’s OK, but try to reach out anyway.  Protection mode is powerful, but not always helpful.


Activating a Muscle

We activate muscles we’ve found are inhibited.  Inhibited muscles are ones that just aren’t doing their jobs properly for some reason.  They are the slackers in class so we want to wake them up, specifically.  Activation drills are like isolation exercises but should not be pushed to any real point of fatigue.  80% effort is enough to cause positive change without overuse.

  • Take your finger or tool off the facilitated spot, or “hot spot” FIRST. Then proceed to your release. You can’t do both at the same time. It’s just not how it works.
  • If you feel a cramp or your initial trigger point (the spot you just released) while Activating, stop.  Release the initial spot again until you feel positive change, and then use less pressure or range of motion on the activation.  Don’t cheat this and push through.  
  • ACTIVATION IS NOT A MAX LIFT.  The point is for that muscle to be reminded of it’s job, not freak out and default back to its original faulty action.  



This is programming.  Subtle variations in your routine can help your tissue work, rather than keep working against it.  A screening process like FMS, SFMA, or Z Health can provide comparable data in your progress over time.


Final Thoughts

Be gentle with yourself.  This is a self-care process of learning and discovery.  You are not broken.  You are figuring out neat things about yourself and how your body works.  It takes time.  As long as the benchmarks you’ve set (breaking through plateaus, movements with less pain, etc) are improving, we’re doing good work.

These protocols are not meant to substitute professional medical opinions. Consult a qualified practitioner before beginning any new treatment plan and make everyone known about all prior medical conditions. Tissue work can help a lot, but it DOES NOT SOLVE EVERYTHING. Being referred out doesn’t mean a failure, it just means there’s someone who can help you faster and is more qualified to do so.

If you’re not going to Release and Activate at least once/day, then don’t start.  Just don’t.  Try another method or make regular appointments with a manual therapist, to do the work for you.  But getting it to stick is YOUR work. Like it or not, your brain decided to take a shortcut somewhere so your brain has to relearn it.  And being bull-headed or stopping as soon as you get relief is not a long-term or healthy solution.  Because, honestly, you could end up half helped and more frustrated than when you started.  That said, if you’re not experiencing relief almost immediately (the same as in-session) then something is wrong.  Reach out and figure out if it’s a replication problem or a shift issue (shift being the problem area actually shifted). Make consistent follow up appointments until you have things figured out.

And please, no max attempts until you feel settled and the original reason for exploration has subsided.  This is just my opinion, but unless it’s absolutely necessary, huge patterning changes should not be in-season or just prior to competitions.  There’s not enough adjustment time.  Again, be gentle with yourself.

Hope this helps!


Your Partner in Progress,

Absence Does Not Make the Heart Grow Fonder

Sometimes taking a break is necessary for mental clarity, healing of the soul, or simply to rest.  But don’t seclude yourself from what continues to move.  If you take or give time from a situation, you will not go back to it the same.   And just like in the gym, the progress you make can’t be held onto without work.  Could you disappear from your partner for “just a couple months” and expect things to be OK when you get back?  Someone would get hurt.  At the very least, you would need to reassess.

My biggest question is, “Why is a break going to help?”  Usually it’s because life builds up like a pressure cooker and the easiest thing to give up is yourself; your happiness, your time, your money.  If no one else is going to do the work, it has to be you, right?  Or your support system.

Wait, whaaat?

Yes, a support system.  We’re pack animals.  Need evidence?  Look at all the systems in place for us NOT to feel alone when we die.  Morbid, but true.  And on this grim topic, if you don’t have enough money or people around you to help in your attempt to get healthy, then what’s going to happen when you’re sick?  Ignoring the little aches and pains or warning signs will make them give way to something worse.  At some point you have to break down and go to a doctor.  But how much time did you waste because you were just putting it off for more important things?  Your decision is to take a break from the most intimate thing you do (taking care of your body) and give it to….what?

Online dating?

Are you going to take a break from showering, too?

That will not help said online dating.

And why is suffering alone (quietly “dieting” or more likely not eating/wearing headphones and beating yourself up on some weird machine that causes you pain two days later) an easier social choice than being part of a healthy community? Labels be dammed, any group of people trying live positively gets credit for trying.  Why?

It’s fashionable to hurt yourself.  It’s normal to quit.

So OK, take your break.   I know, you need time.


But why?

Why Do You Wake?

“Every decision is made from a place of love or fear.” -Unknown

“The brain interprets fear and pain the same way.” – Tim Anderson

Going to work, creating a pattern, avoiding making ripples that could be good or bad…be braver than that.  Try making an actual change.  Own up to the bad choices you’ve made and don’t expect to just be forgiven.  A weekend binge won’t kill ya, but how many weekends has that been your life?  One white lie might go unnoticed, but how often do you have to lie?  Why is that your life?  There is nothing you can’t walk away from as long as you have your health- spiritual and physical-and there is nothing you can’t head toward.

If you choose to walk away, end the subject there.  Fess up to having nothing more to gain from a situation, good or awful, and stop hurting the world because you are stuck.  Change step and make that new direction your cause.  Take one step toward being the person you think you can be or once thought you were.

And be honest.  There is nothing so easily hurtful as deceit.  Be better than that in word and deed, especially to yourself.  Don’t promise yourself that you’ll change unless you will take action.  Stop telling others what you think they want to hear and maybe the habit will carry over to your own mantras.

It is rare to hear an honest voice.  But if you think you catch one on the wind, find it.  Discover what’s there and could inspire you.   Don’t beat yourself up if it’s hot air.  Just change direction.  And find  a new teacher.

In Progress…

Be strong for yourself so you can be strong for others.