Sunday, February 26, 2012

Knowledge Bombs From Charlie Weingroff's "How To Make A Monster" Seminar

Charlie Weingroff came to IFAST this past weekend to give his presentation titled, "How to Make a Monster".  To say that I took away a few things would be an understatement.  I also left his talk more motivated than ever to turn my clients into beasts!

Charlie did not present on "do this, do that", but gave guidelines and "rules" to help make intelligent decisions regarding your clients' movement, programming, and overall preparation.  My brain hurt after his talk, and I am still thinking all of it over.  So, I wanted to share some of things I took away.

1) You need a standard of movement to check against.  That way you can determine if you or your clients are improving.  This can involve an assessment, a series of movements, or whatever you have found that works.  

2) The goal is to spend as little time as possible with corrective exercise.  If things are not improving, then you may want to change your approach. 

3) Sometimes foam rolling and going home is the right thing if it makes the person feel better.

4) Aerobic training is beneficial!  I was so glad to hear Charlie say this because I am sick of people constantly putting it down.  It is great for recovery purposes and may be good for people in pain because it improves oxygen and blood flow, which I had not considered.

5) If you are very stressed, then you may want to stay away from anaerobic training, which will only further stress the body.

6) Your program should be perfect for that client on that day.  How are you ensuring this is the case?

7) To determine readiness track biomarkers.  The best ones use heart rate variability, but you could also use a vertical jump, a grip strength test, or a tap test.  Also, ask your clients about their readiness and motivation, and make changes to the program as needed.

8) Manage preparation through training.  Change preparation through programming.  Peak preparation through definable tasks (the more narrow the goal, the better).

9) Every muscle can act as a stabilizer or a mobilizer depending on joint position, fixed points, and motor control.

10) Balance of mobilizers and stabilizers acting at a joint is optimal joint centration.

11) Loss of centration will occur when phasic (mobilizers) muscles are forced to stabilize.

12) Non-optimal joint centration can lead to stress in the body, but this can work in the other direction as well.  Stress in the body can lead to a lack of joint centration.  This is another reason that managing stress and moving well is so important - you really cannot do one without the other.

13) Charlie defines stability as control in the presence of change.  Passive stability, which too many people rely on, comes from joint capsules and ligaments.  Functional stability, on the other hand, depends on optimal motor control and the ideal timing of tonic and phasic muscles' contractions.

14) Put your clients in a position to succeed.  Consider positions (supine, prone, quadruped, kneeling, standing), static vs. dynamic, unloaded vs. loaded, assistance vs. no assistance.  Find the one that leads to optimal joint centration

15) Bracing should be an option but only used when needed and should ideally be reactive.  Relying on bracing all the time creates a high-threshold stabilization pattern, which is okay for heavy lifts but should not be required for remedial tasks.  Look at great athletes - they have the ability to relax in movement and then instantly explode.

16) Protective responses, which are engrained motor patterns (look at babies), are red lines to the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS).  What Charlie means by this is that certain positions and movements are a drain on the nervous system because they signal fear or alarm.  For example, what does a person, or baby, do when they are frightened?  They throw their head back and arch their lower back, which is exactly the same thing most people do when squatting and deadlifting.   

17) A good diaphragmatic breath involves circumferential abdominal and rib expansion along with the belly button descending down and forward.  It is not just pushing your belly out.

18) Can you take a good diaphragmatic breath with a heavy bar in your hands or on your back?  If not, then you may want to decrease the weight and learn to create that intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) with a lighter weight.  This will make you stronger in the long run.

19) Ideal breathing may not occur with poor nutrition because of gut tensibility.  For the diaphragm to descend, the gut needs to be tensible.

20) Crawling is an awesome exercise!  Use it in your warm-up or load it up for your strength training or conditioning.  

21) To correct movement dysfunction, the first goal is to help the person feel wrong - become aware of the dysfunction (conscious dysfunction).  Once they can feel what is wrong, they can then feel what is right (conscious function).  Lastly, you want the right movement to become automatic (subconscious function), which will take repetition and awareness at first.

22) Roundedness of joints is important.  There should be minimal hallowing at areas such as the abs, shoulders, and hips.  If you have hallowing in these areas it means that your mobilizers are working extra hard to stabilize.  You need to find a position that allows you to train the area without hallowing.  For me, I had some crazy glute hallowing with basically any movement that trained my glutes (glute bridges, single leg RDL, etc.), but once I began crawling it disappeared.  I am now going to be crawling in my workouts at some point to work on my hip stabilizers. 

23) Joint Position=Rewriting the program
      Breathing=Hitting save

These are just a few of my notes from Charlie's seminar.  If you ever get the chance to go hear him speak, then I would definitely take the opportunity. 

Charlie also has a great DVD, Training=Rehab, Rehab=Training, which is full of more great information on helping you and/or your clients get out of pain and become beasts!  His blog can be found at

Have a great week everyone!


  1. Hey Zach, sounds like a great seminar. Wish I was there.

    What exactly do you mean by "glute hallowing" ? And how exactly do you do the crawling?

  2. Yeah it was really good. Glute hallowing occurs when you lack glute med and min stabilization. Therefore, glute max is working overtime to stabilize the hip and produce movement. To determine if you have glute hallowing just perform a basic hip exercise like a glute bridge and palpate the lateral side of your glute. If you have an indention then that is glute hallowing. Some people even have it when just standing. To correct it you need to find a position where you are challenging hip stabilization without hallowing. Does that make sense?

    It will be kind of hard to explain the crawling but basically you are on your knees and elbows with your femur slightly abducted (so that you knees are slightly outside of your hips) and your fists are pointing inward so that your forearms are basically parallel to each other. Then you just crawl:) Sorry not a very good explanation. If you have specific questions about it I can try to answer them.