Recently, I came up with a good idea. Due to the popularity of the book titled 50 Shades of Grey, I thought it would be appropriate to post a guest blog on Gray Cook titled, 50 Shades of Gray (Cook). I’ve learned a lot from Gray over the years, and this is my way of giving back. If you’ve never seen Gray speak, I recommend you do so. He’s got the gift of gab, and is without a doubt one of the most eloquent speakers the fitness industry has ever seen.
Last week I reached out to my friend Laree Draper to find me a bunch of quotes from Gray, and boy did she deliver. Without further adieu, here are
fifty one-hundred (you get double for your money) Gray Cook quotes. Enjoy!
1. The definition of functional exercise is what it produces, NOT what it looks like.
2. Unless you find the driver of bad movement, and find the thing that changes it, you’re just guessing.
3. First move well, then move often
4. Poor movement can exist anywhere in the body but poor movement patterns can only exist in the brain
5. The most objective person is the individual who realizes just how subjective he is.
6. Moving isn’t important, until you can’t.
7. Pain is not the problem — it’s the signal
8. Don’t add strength to dysfunction
9. Quantitative accumulation leads to qualitative changes.
10. When someone loses core stability, a bunch of planks don’t fix that shit
11. Are you moving poorly because you are in pain? Or are you in pain because you are moving poorly?
12. Do what people need, not what they want
13. Test for durability not only for performance
14. I wanna see if you have lost the abilities you had when you were 3 years old, at 3 you could roll, clime, balance on one foot, and run.
15. At 1 to 5 years old most of us are moving alike
16. The TGU is a proproceptive drill, but I don’t think is a strength move, even thou it will make you strong, it is a stability movement
17. Anatomist will tell you this: The neck and ribcage, and the neck and scapular share more muscles than they have independently
18. It’s very hard to catch, I can’t even tell you what injury, a left/right hip asymmetry is gonna cause, one person is gonna get SI pain, one person is gonna have low back pain, and one person is gonna have chronic knee pain, the asymmetry causes compensation, and compensation is a natural survival mechanism
19. Your brain is too smart to allow you to have full horsepower in a bad body position, it’s called muscle inhibition
20. 75% of world spends at least 30 seconds per day in that position (sic-deep squat going number 2). Why shouldn’t you?
21. When challenged the brain will always choose quantity of movement over quality of movement
22. Whenever possible, we must separate movement dysfunction from fitness and performance. Aggressive physical training cannot change fundamental mobility and stability problems at an effective rate without also introducing a degree of compensation and increased risk of injury.
23. Patterns and sequences remain the preferred mode of operation in biological organisms. Patterns are groups of singular movements linked in the brain like a single chunk of information. This chunk essentially resembles a mental motor program, the software that governs movement patterns. A pattern represents multiple single movements used together for specific function. Storage of a pattern creates efficiency and reduces processing time in the brain, much as a computer stores multiple documents of related content in one file to better organize and manage information. Common strengthening programs applied to muscles with the stabilization role will likely increase concentric strength but have little effect on timing and recruitment, which are the essence of stabilization.
24. Stabilizer training goes far beyond isometrics found in popular stability exercises such as side plank. In this isometric exercise model, conscious rigidity and stiffness are the goal, but true authentic stability is about effortless timing and the ability to go from hard to soft to hard to soft in a blink.
25. Stability is also confused with strength, where concentric and eccentric contractions build massive endurance. The muscles do become stronger in shortening andlengthening, but again they lack the timing and control needed for true functional stabilization. We should train muscles in the way we use them. Stabilizers need to respond quicker than any other muscle group to hold position and control joint movement during loading and movement.
26. Movement pattern corrective strategy is a form of exercise that focuses more on improving mobility, stability, basic motor control and whole movement patterns than the parameters of physical fitness and performance. Once established, the movement patterns create a platform for the general and specific parameters of fitness, including endurance, strength, speed, agility, power and task specificity
27. Maintain the squat, train the deadlift
28. If you have an issue with your active straight leg raise or shoulder mobility, you don’t have the right to go anywhere else in a corrective strategy. Don’t worry about your squat, clean up the active straight leg raise and shoulder mobility FIRST!
29. If you leave out one of the seven tests because of your own bias, your data will be flawed and you won’t get the same result. There are seven tests for a reason. They are all important!
30. After you clean up your active straight leg raise and shoulder mobility, shoot for cleaning up rotary stability, as this is a true test of “soft core” function.
31. Pain is not a signal we can train through.
32. You need to get your clients to stop doing negative activities that will hold back their progress in your program. Once movement clears up and is above a minimum standard, they can work back to doing what they like to do. If they aren’t willing to give these things up, the results of the program will always make you look bad, as they won’t improve. For example, the best back surgeons will not operate on smokers because smoking delays the healing process and their results will not be as good, making the surgeon look bad. You wouldn’t ask your mechanic to run alongside your car and fix the engine WHILE YOU ARE DRIVING IT!
33. Don’t be ready to add a positive (corrective exercise/strategy) to a training program. First try and remove a negative!
34. Any movement that you cannot score at least a two on means that you can’t do any conditioning or strength work on that movement. You must meet the minimum standard.
35. The definition of corrective exercise is move well and then move more. Most people just want to move more.
36. The best way to get your core to work right is to correct your worst movement pattern. If you can get mobility back, your core will turn on automatically and do what it needs to do (mobility before stability). Your core may not be able to work properly right now because your ankle is locked up, or your hips don’t move well, etc…Doing all the core work and plank exercises in the world won’t fix this problem.
37. Work backwards to the crib for correcting movements!
38. If you don’t move well in a pattern, don’t move often in that pattern until it improves. For example, if the squat pattern is bad, don’t worry about doing plyos or jumping activities until it is better.
39. It disappoints me to see research that tests stability without the researchers clearing mobility first. Stability is driven by optimal mobility, as mobility improves mechanoreceptor stimulation. Poor mobility = poor mechanoreceoptor function = poor stability.
40. A higher center of gravity will make you authentically stabilize. Seek to use a higher center of gravity in some of your exercises/movements.
41. If you go into a movement pattern and the muscles that are being lengthened contract and push you out of the pattern, THIS IS NOT TIGHTNESS. This is actually a contraction, even though the client describes it as tightness. A good example of this involves clients who can’t touch their toes and claim that their hamstrings are tight, when in reality, the hamstrings are turning on (when they should be lengthening) during the movement to provide stability to the pelvis since the core is not doing what it needs to do. This is muscular contraction and not hamstring tightness.
42. Inconsistencies in the FMS are usually stability problems, while consistencies are typically mobility problems.
43. If you want to see your abs eat better. If you want your abs to work better, move better!
44. You gotta break a pattern before you can make a pattern!
45. We’d like to think that we can verbalize to people how they can move better, but we can’t. Try and tell someone who has never ridden a bike how to do it and see if they can go out and reproduce it. They can’t! They have to actually go out, get on the bike, and try it out a few times to understand what it feels like. Exercise is the same way.
46. You can’t motor learn authentically in a painful pattern.
47. Neurodevelopmentally speaking, it was always quality before quantity. This should be true with our exercise programs as well.
48. Tarzan, to me, is the epitome of fitness. The guy is strong, agile and quick. He can run, jump, climb and swing through trees. If we take a person who moves well and put them on a Crossfit type of training program, we turn them into Tarzan. If we take that same program and give it to the majority of people in society who move poorly, we turn them into a patient.
49. If you can’t change the movement of the majority of clients you are working with then you are doing something wrong. You need to have a standard operating procedure as a way to test and re-test their movement patterns.
50. Once you can get a good toe touch and active straight leg raise, go immediately to deadlifting. Re-pattern that range of motion by locking down the newly gained mobility with some stability.
51. The brain will create a mobility problem because it is the only option you have left it.
52. Foam rolling should lead you to better movement. If it doesn’t, then you aren’t doing something right, and foam rolling may not be what you need.
53. The only thing documented for depression that does not have side effects is exercise.
54. Strength or mobility asymmetries of greater than 10% in an asymmetrical sport (IE, golf) are a problem!
55. You can’t strengthen stabilizers and assume the timing of them will improve. Muscles like the rotator cuff musculature and rhomboids are muscles that need to fire FAST, not necessarily strong. Seek to improve the timing of these muscles.
56. Programs are carried out the same way, no matter what happens. Systems have a way of breaking things down and telling us “if this, then than” and “if that, then this”. Use systems instead of programs to get what you want in your clients training programs.
57. The FMS is species specific, not sport specific. The FMS is made up of basic patterns that everyone should be able to perform, regardless of sport. These patterns show themselves in everyday movements and sports movements because we are all human beings.
58. Intelligence is made up of two-systems working together: Pattern recognition and memory recall.
59. The FMS seeks to predict injury from a behavioral standpoint. That behavior is measured by your ability to move through certain patterns.
60. When someone’s back hurts they don’t want to blame their lifestyle, fitness level, or daily patterns. Instead, they want to blame their back pain on starting the lawn mower last week, which, in reality, is probably just the straw that broke the camel’s back. Human beings live under the philosophy of, “I have a snowball and I have to throw it at someone.” No one wants to take responsibility.
61. If the CNS and transverse abdominus don’t communicate together nothing will happen. You can “shred someone’s abs” while they are lying on the floor, but as soon as they stand up they will revert back to the bad pattern(s) they are used to.
62. Are dysfunctions anatomically specific or movement specific? The gluteus medius may appear to do what it needs to do in a bilateral stance (IE squatting), but as soon as we get to a single leg stance or split stance, the person’s movement may deteriorate. Is the problem really the gluteus medius? Or is the problem the fact that they don’t move well in that pattern?
63. Stop thinking about things from a kinesiological standpoint. Movements are movements. Movements aren’t specific to one single muscle. You need to move better if you want to improve function.
64. Eye movements alone will light up muscular activity in the direction you are looking.
65. If you want people to move better stop shopping exercises and break down their movements.
66. For corrective exercise, put people in a position where they are making a lot of mistakes (this position needs to be a safe position though and not dangerous) and SHUT UP! Don’t over coach them. Let them work it out and learn to develop the pattern…THIS is motor learning! The baby didn’t need you to coach it on how to roll in the crib, crawl or stand. It figured it out on its own.
67. Walking and running strides have a heel strike that is between 1-4 inches apart.
68. Don’t migrate to just doing one thing – IE, runners just run, kettlebell coaches just coach kettlebells, etc. – you need to have variety and be well rounded. What would happen if I told you to eat chicken breast three times a day, every day, for the rest of your life? YOU’D MISS THINGS! Don’t miss things.
69. Build systems to protect yourself from your own subjectivity.
70. Your soft core (diaphragm, multifidi, pelvic floor, and transverse abdominus) needs to hold everything together. It makes up about 20% of your core activity.
71. You have three things to consider when dealing with a client/athlete:
- The first thing you always need to consider is movement. If movement quality is not above a minimum standard, then this is the first problem you need to deal with.
- Performance problems come next. If you move well, go ahead and add some conditioning, strength and speed.
- Issues with skill are the final thing to fix (IE, golf swing, throwing technique, running form, etc.)
72. Even an inappropriately performed deadlift does not have as much intradisc pressure as sitting down and pushing or pulling on things (performing exercises). Stand up and move!
73. You can’t coach people to do a movement that they can’t do. All they are doing is trying to survive the pattern! Poor movement is a balance reaction.
74. While the masses make maximums part of identity, the truly talented are just as clear that their minimums are also part of their identities. In fact, our minimums are usually our weakest links and influence outcomes more than our superlatives.
75. Whether they are mobility issues, stability problems, performance troubles, or skill and technique flaws, minimums usually represent the limitations that control performances. These limitations, once removed or at least managed, will allow for greatly improved skill acquisition, much better performance, much greater durability and also reduce wasted time doing ineffective training. Our minimums rob efficiency and waste valuable training time.”
76. 1. If you can’t test it, don’t train it 2. Go light and do it right 3. Balance is the base
77. Some of the fittest people in the world don’t obsess about their exercise time slot—they don’t require loud music or mirrors to motivate them. They simply practice movement skills, knowing they will never master them. They use exercise correctly and they stay in touch with movement. Exercise correctness is not a popular topic, but is a much needed perspective.
78. Quitting unproductive practices early and moving on to something better is a hallmark of successful people.
79. First, functional exercise must promote or maintain basic functional movement patterns. Second, functional exercise must promote or maintain basic physical capacity. Lastly, functional exercise must promote or maintain specific skills associated with athletics and activities. This is a big order, because it suggests that functional exercise choices must promote or maintain one level of function without compromising another.
80. Corrective exercise is probably the best remedy for movement pattern dysfunction, but it is not the best preventive measure. If we constructed and taught better exercise techniques, we could help prevent much of the need for corrective exercises and reserve corrective concepts to situations where rehabilitation and post-rehabilitation are necessary.
81. Squatting is not an exercise; it is a movement pattern. The movement is part of growth and development as a transition from the floor to standing. Squatting can be used as an exercise, but is first and foremost a movement pattern.
82. Adherence to a squatting program with no upper body work whatsoever will yield upper body development. However, attention to an upper body strength-training program does not yield the same benefits in the lower body. That in itself represents how powerful the squat is as a developmental platform.
83. These smaller, deeper muscles enhance the efficiency and power of the prime movers by creating resistance, stability and support of movement at one movable segment, and allowing freedom of movement at another. This interaction happens in milliseconds and occurs without conscious control.
84. The conscious brain does not act alone. It is supported by an automatic system of reflex activity with involuntary adjustments occurring in the background of every intended movement. This is possible because the sensory system constantly monitors our real-time movement to the intended movement pattern. We don’t really think about our muscles, we think about movement and our muscles act in accordance with our intensions and automatic support system.
85. Both the rectus femoris and the three hamstrings are active, and neither change length from sitting to standing position.
86. The muscles change roles responding both mechanically and with neuromuscular accommodation as they perform the task, unaware of the academic classifications.
87. Being strong doesn’t mean much without fluid, efficient movement;
88. We need to create an understanding and an active dialog between the professions. Our team does not advocate, not for a second, that any of us work outside of our particular specialties. This is merely a call to understand how to interact and communicate with others in or around the profession. A true paradigm shift requires better communication and new semantics may be required.
89. Many readers will skip what they consider philosophical mumbo jumbo to get to the discussion about screening, assessment and corrective strategies—after all, tools are the cool stuff. Nevertheless, skipping forward without understanding the basics would be the equivalent of studying the medical remedy for a perceived problem before having the skill to diagnose the cause.
90. If movement is dysfunctional, all things built on that dysfunction might be flawed, compromised or predisposed to risk even if disguised by acceptable levels of skill or performance.
91. Remember that muscles do what they are told. If they are doing something you don’t like, tell them to do it differently: communicate to the muscle through repetition of posture and movement.
92. We should make sure our methods always reflect our principles. It is easy to get caught up in methods, but those will change, improve or be replaced. Innovation, research, experience and expertise will always move us along to better methods, but we must always judge them against our principles. That is how we make sure the glitter is actually gold.
93. Explore stretching from a movement pattern, not a body part approach.
94. Current exercise programming has two inherent problems: Some movements are performed too frequently or with too much intensity, and some movements are used too infrequently or with too little intensity. The magic recipe is not universal; it is unique to each person’s movement map
95. The number one risk factor for musculoskeletal injury is a previous injury, implying that our rehabilitation process is missing something.
96. Mother Nature taught that movement, and it was expert teaching: basic, pure and unmolested by the interpretation of professional instructors. The practice was so pure, we didn’t know we were practicing. The rules and goals were clear: Here’s gravity; explore your world with your senses, and, by the way, an added benefit—your gift—will be movement.
97. Every day, out-of-shape people attempt to regain fitness, lose weight and become more active. They assume if they just move more, they will start to move well.
98. While some serious injuries are unavoidable and need surgical repair, we should do everything possible to build an injury buffer zone by training healthy movement. It is always better to bend than break—and strong agile bodies bend better than weak, stiff bodies.
99. The neglect occurred the minute we started to train partial movement patterns instead of whole movement patterns, the minute we focused on quantity maximums and did not set a quality minimum. One might argue we need progressions, but breaking down movement patterns into isolated muscle training is not as effective as following a developmental progression.
100. Original humans were on their feet for a large part of the day without leisure or entertainment opportunities designed around sitting in one place.
Thanks for your insight Gray!