They say in order to get better you must surround yourself and associate with those better than you, and those far more knowledgeable.
When coaching, training or instructing others as a profession, it can be easy to get entwined in the mindset of only providing information and not receiving it. Of course, the genuine trainers, coaches and instructors of this world will know that they too, must seek coaching, instructing and training from others.
This is a prime example of self-investment. By bettering yourself you’re able to enhance the lives of those you come into contact with, and what you put out into this universe will come back to you.
Enter Emmet Louis’ Modern Methods Of Mobility Seminar (M3)
- Where: Crossfit Hackney (Momentum Training)
- When: The weekend of the 6th & 7th of May
- Course length: 2 x 7 hour days with an hour break for lunch each day
- Focus: Learn tried and tested methods for efficient and significant improvements in mobility, across all ranges throughout the body
- My reason for attending: Quality of movement dictates quality of life, particularly with regards to pain and pain relief. From the perspective of a personal trainer, aiding someone’s quality of movement is one of the keys to achieving a healthy and functional body capable of longevity
Day one: The meet & greet with some wizardry and vast improvements in my own flexibility
I drove down to London on Saturday morning not really knowing what to expect. I knew there would be a nice blend of theory and practicality. I also expected there to be many many people with far superior flexibility and mobility to myself. From a personal standpoint, my flexibility is OK – I can touch my toes quite comfortably, my straddle is reasonable but my shoulder flexibility is terribly lacking.
The gymnastics bridge is a position that a mere 8-9 months ago alluded me to the extent that I couldn’t even get my head off the floor! Even though I’m grossly unsatisfied with my current bridge, I must practice the mentality I would instil on a client; one of celebrating where we are now in comparison to where we were then.
I arrived at Crossfit Hackney ten minutes early (like a good student). There was loads going on; an Olympic lifting class and what looked to be a MetCon class. As it turned out, there had been a mistake on someone’s part which lead to a double booking. We had to wait until 1pm to start. Emmet turned up bang on time with his partner Elise and Severine.
He took this opportunity to lead the group of around 20 people to the park for a bit of “what’s your name and where do you come from?”
If you’re not familiar with Emmet Louis, here are some links to his YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and blog. The first thing that strikes you about him is his down to earth vibe. There’s no arrogance, no unnecessary swagger and no expectancy of worship. Some seminars are more about bowing down to your leader or guru than actually taking away valuable information. As soon as Emmet & Co arrived, you knew this wasn’t one of those seminars.
All across the UK & Europe
In the group we had Danes, Swedes, Parisians and people from all corners of England. It was clear people were willing to travel far and wide for such an occasion. I would say there was a nice 50/50 split between coaches and those looking to improve their own performance via mobility enhancement.
One thing we all noticed was the lack of women on the course. Maybe women are just naturally good at this stuff, they don’t need to learn, was a common theory. I don’t know. I expected much more women on such a course, particularly with the popularity of yoga and dancing, and their needs for advanced flexibility.
With or without the girls, we got started and had quite an in depth introductory chat in the park. This was where Emmet was able to give an outline and summary of his general approach to training, programming, fitness, health and even some nutritional thoughts.
The takeaways are as follows………
- Generally, to see significant changes in flexibility & mobility, you need to think in longer terms. 18 months is a good timeframe.
- Not everybody requires the same level of flexibility. Sure, there are standards people should be able to meet but not everyone will need an over-split in their life, more often than not you’ll never need such an advanced level of flexibility.
- Programs really only ever need changing if they do not work. Note: ‘Not working’ means ZERO results after a noticeable time period, not slow progress. Slow progress is good progress.
- So many fitness addicts and recreational trainees are overtrained and underfed. This was aimed at the Crossfitters………”you cant weigh 80 kg and train 6 hard session a week, all while on 2000 calories per day.” Emmet’s actual words.
- You cannot call techniques and principals bad solely on the premise they didn’t work for you. What works well for me might be a complete waste of time for you.
Pike, Pancake and side splits
Most of day one was spent trying to make our hamstrings and adductors lengthen to all time new levels. We started off with an ankle joint tractioning drill that gave some of us remarkable results, and others only slighter improvements. Many people were looking at Emmet like he had performed witchcraft on them……..when in reality this was just a neurological trick of sorts.
I gained a noticeable improvement in my pancake position. I managed to get my head to the floor with a little bit of gentle persuasion, whereas normally I struggle to get my torso 45 degrees down.
(Ryan Hurst of Gold Medal Bodies demonstrates a perfect pancake position)
Emmet showed us numerous techniques to exploit – such as ballistic stretching, end range closing, loaded stretching, partner assisted drills and using visual targets to gain more range. There were plenty of notes taken and the workbooks provided were full with extrapolations and tidbits.
Rounding off day one, Emmet warned us we were likely to be sore and we were likely to feel very tired come bedtime. This proved very much the case.
Front Splits, Hips & Bridges……..and sore hamstrings!
The warning wasn’t misplaced as I woke up with DOMS on par with those you’d expect to see after a German volume training workout, aimed entirely at the hamstrings. Nonetheless I hobbled on to day 2 and this was the day I was waiting for………..bridge work!
We started with looking at the front splits, and the move was broken down into segments; specifically the hip extension part of the equation. There was a unanimous cheer when we were kindly informed we would keep the hamstring section of front splits to minimum.
What was interesting to learn here was how much genuine hip extension most people lack – around 80% of our group were supposed to have no hip extension at all! More often than not, it’s lumbar extension and losing the squareness of the hips that leads us to believe we actually have more hip extension than is otherwise the case.
Bridge work flowed nicely from the hip extension drills after lunch, as hip flexibility plays a major role in the quality of your bridge. If you want a bridge with as straight legs as possible, you need to have good hip extension. As above.
The other limiting factor in bridge quality is my age old nemesis: TIGHT LATS/shoulders.
This not only runs in my family but the fact that I’m quite a good vertical puller makes things worse. You know you’re lacking in a movement when numerous people keep coming over to try and help you. This happened here but not with any of the other drills.
In order to bridge well you need open shoulders. To get fully open shoulders, there needs to be no restriction in the lats, pec minor, and your thoracic spine needs to be able to move. I left with lots of good ideas on how to go about improving these deficits.
I’ve got a question! I’ve got an answer!
At the end of Sunday we wrapped up with a lengthy and detailed Q&A, where anyone and everyone was encouraged to ask anything they liked. There was no time limit or no limit on the amount of questions you could ask – except maybe missing the last train home.
Emmet delved into programming here too and gave us many options regarding frequency and implementing the techniques we’d learned over the weekend. As expected, there were many golden answers and questions here. I wrote 5 pages of notes just here alone.
Wrapping up, the group all shook hands and posed for some final photos and we went on our way. It doesn’t end there though, emmet encourages you to ask any outstanding questions you may have via multiple platforms (social media, email etc..)
We were also warned that what we’ve essentially done over the weekend is force the body into a semi-overtrained state, and as a result, we could expect a lingering feeling of fatigue over the upcoming week, as what we had been doing was very neurological and CNS intensive.
Quick fire takeaways from the weekend:
- The results you achieve in fitness are proportionate to your current level. If you’re fit and conditioned you may get results quicker than someone overweight and riddled with diseases. Sounds simple, often forgotten.
- Stay hydrated, well nourished and try supplementing with magnesium for best results
- It’s not about using all the methods under the sun; it’s about finding the right 2 or 3 that maximise YOUR response
- Always search for the MINIMAL EFFECTIVE DOSE. Why do more than what’s needed to get results?
- Stop obsessing over the ‘whys’ and enjoy the results. You don’t have to understand every minute detail and have 150 studies backing something up. If it works for you, use it.
- If you have more than a 10% difference in strength between sides of the body, this is a significant imbalance and should be addressed/corrected
- If flexibility isn’t used it won’t be maintained. You can train your ass off for an Instagram pic but you will lose that range of motion if it’s not consistently used.
Thanks to Emmet, Elise, Severin and everyone else involved with the weekend. Also, a big shout out to Olly from Norwich who I met on the course for sharing some really inspiring ideas and training concepts. I hope to meet up with you for a session one day!
For more info on upcoming seminars and events featuring Emmet & Co, check Motion Impulse. Overall this was a really well organised and presented event. There is much to be learned and not all of it is applicable to you personally, but plenty of it may be applicable to others, which is great from a coaching and personal training perspective, as mentioned earlier.
Note: I can see people’s fears of being ‘immobile’ relative to others on the course being a possible reason for not attending. Fear not, the levels are completely mixed and more people aren’t at the advanced stages of flexibility than those that are.
Where the real magic happens is in the application of the concepts learned. Let’s get to work!