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Just 10 minutes of training per day can help you work towards unlocking your body’s full potential. Beginning with a basic squat (which we as children do naturally but then as adults struggle to perform), ‘The Flexible Body : Move better anywhere, anytime in 10 minutes a day’ guides you through a series of positions, stretches, rolls and balances that re-train your body to move like it once could.Forget everything you think you know about exercise. International model and fitness expert Roger Frampton has developed a revolutionary new approach to movement, designed to get your body working in the way it was designed to.We are born with perfect spines that can move in millions of ways. But our sedentary western lifestyles rob us of our natural range of motion and leave us with stiff bodies, bad posture and a high incidence of back pain. Inspired by advanced yoga practitioners and Olympic gymnasts, and in consultation with leading figures from both fields, Roger has developed a simple but highly effective set of exercises known as the Frampton Method, designed to de-restrict your body and help you reach optimum strength and flexibility with no need for any kind of equipment, weights or gym membership. Split into method and movement sections, the movement sections covers a range of positions from hip actions to headstands, and then explain how to take each movement to the next level as you become more advanced.With a thorough explanation of the philosophy and science behind the method, plus hacks for incorporating it into your day-to-day life, this book will inspire you to put down the weights, forget HIIT, reclaim your body and achieve a level of fitness you’ve only ever dreamed of.

Year:
2018
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Pavilion Books
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english
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1911595873
ISBN 13:
9781911595878
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How to Use this Book

Your Movement Plan


THE METHOD

The Frampton Method

Debunking Exercise

Movement First

A, B, C, D, E of Longevity

The Frampton Phrasebook


THE MOVES

Overhead Squat

Front Support

Hollow Body

Frog Stand

Legs, Legs, Legs

Hip Action

Headstand

L-Sits

Stair Bridge


Index

My Story

Thank you!





HOW TO USE THIS BOOK


You can achieve every exercise in this book at home and without the need for equipment. I suggest using mats, carpets, rugs, blocks, books and chairs in some exercises to make them a little easier but there’s nothing to stop you starting right now! It’s all about your body.

Half the exercises in the book are static and half are slow and controlled movements that help you to develop strength and flexibility in the right places. Working at this pace gives you time to focus on being fully conscious, as well as allowing you to find flaws and weaknesses in your movement.

The book contains nine “moves” that you have a lifetime to master. However you need to complete 10 minutes a day. Every day! Each move is made up of ten support exercises, arranged by level of difficulty, 1 being the easiest and 10 the hardest. and each support exercise is subdivided into a 1-minute controlled movement and a 1-minute static hold.





CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF


Freeze! Right now! Don’t move a muscle. Now, check yourself. What is your body doing in this current position? How are you holding your foot, neck, hands, feet? Are you leaning to one side, forward or back; left or right? Don’t judge or try to change it, just notice it. This is your default position in this moment in time. Get used to identifying all these postural habits because it will give you a good idea of what to look out for when training. REMEMBER: stay conscious of your body as much as you can. The more aware you become of your body outside of training, the more aware you’ll become during training, too.





BEFORE YOU START


The first thing you need to do is to find what level you’re at with all n; ine moves. Start at exercise 1 and see how many support exercises you can complete within each move before the movement or hold becomes unachievable.

The support exercise before the one that becomes unachievable is your current level of ability and you should practise this exercise until you can achieve it for the required time before moving onto the next support exercise. By the time you complete the support exercises, you will be able to tackle the move shown at the beginning of each chapter.

Keep track of your ability as you work through the exercises. For example, in the Overhead Squat, if I can get my heels to the floor but I can’t yet stay there for the full minute then I will work on support exercise 4. The Overhead Squat is move 1. The support exercise is number 4. Write it down like this... 1/4.





YOUR MOVEMENT PLAN


You’ve picked up this book – CONGRATULATIONS! This is a movement plan for life. By following the exercises in this book for just 10 minutes a day you will keep your body healthy and mobile.





DAILY TRAINING


Aim to complete 10 minutes of exercise altogether. That’s all – 10 minutes. To make up those 10 minutes, choose five exercises from the book and perform a 1-minute movement and a 1-minute hold for each. Choose support exercises that you are able to complete. If you can’t complete either the movement or the static hold, you need to step back to an earlier support exercise that is manageable for you. Don’t rush. Slowly, your movement will improve so that you can then challenge yourself to progress to the next step. Don’t skip steps or kid yourself you’re there when you’re not. If you have mastered an exercise, you’ll be able to hold the exact position for 1 minute without moving. Only at that point are you ready to move on.





BUILD YOUR WEEK


Using the chart opposite, build your own personalised week of training. If you followed the instructions on here, you should now have nine exercises written down that you need to work on, each containing a 1-minute movement and a 1-minute hold that looks something like this; 1/4, 2/3, 3/5, 4/2, 5/4, 6/4, 7/1, 8/3, 9/1. Now write these into your chart on the right day.

REMEMBER: the second number is personal to you depending on what support exercise you are on. Write down your first move/level on the day you are going to start.

For example, if I’m starting on Tuesday my five entries will be: 1/4, 2/3, 3/5, 4/2, 5/4. This will be your 10-minute training for Tuesday. Your Wednesday will continue like so: 6/4, 7/1, 8/3, 9/1, 1/4. (See how you continued back to move 1 again.) Keep repeating this until your chart is completely full! This will set you up for your training for the next 7 days.

As you work through your movement journey, you will find you progress and your ability improves so after a few days, weeks or months 1/4 becomes 1/5 and you’ll need to edit your chart as this happens.

Don’t read any further until you have your plan for the next seven days in place. Remember you’re only committing to 10 minutes a day. (That’s around three advert breaks.)

Let’s get moving!





(You might want to photocopy this page before you write in your chart. If you need a spare copy there is a free PDF at www.roger.coach.)





QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF


Did I feel anything in my body?

Can I name the movement as either “good feeling” or “pain”?

What level of intensity was the feeling or pain?

Was the exercise challenging enough?





THE FRAMPTON METHOD


In these next pages, I am going to explain why exercise is not what you think it is. I’ll explain why conscious, slow, deliberate movement is the way to get your body back. But first, what is the Frampton Method?



I also believe that the best results take time. The Frampton Method is not a quick fix. It is a programme of training for long-term benefit. Imagine being in a maths class as a kid and the teacher setting a test, then screaming “Go! Go! Go!” You might complete the paper, but have you sacrificed the quality of your work and used your full capacity? Or, do you have a sense of relief that it’s over? The skills that teach you how to hold yourself in a Headstand are techniques worth learning properly and then applying consciously. They are the foundations of how your body moves and works at its best. If you take the time to learn and apply them, you get the best results.





USE IT, OR LOSE IT


Think of the stiffness you see in the older generation as they walk around you – do you think that was how they were born?

Think of your own range of movement compared with how you could move as a child, or even a mere 10 years ago.

The fitness industry’s answer to our stiffness is to get us out and about and moving... I agree. However, we do not need to move more! If we simply move more, we’ll just repeat the same movement patterns over and over again that led to our restricted movement in the first place.

Rather than moving more, each of us needs to move as our bodies were designed to move. We need to reverse engineer the process to reinstate the full range of movement before it disappears forever.

Move better and more regularly and you will:

» Burn fat

» Improve health

» Feel confident

» Avoid injury

» Lose weight

» Live longer



The Frampton Method is a “movement first” philosophy. Exercise is a “learning” process, measuring progress through your understanding of how your body moves best and applying that understanding appropriately. My aim is to teach you how to hold specific body positions and to be able to move as you once could.

Think of it like this:

If your house were burgled, you could try to find the perpetrator, knocking on doors, but leaving your house as susceptible to burglary as it was before. Or, you accept that it’s happened and set about tightening up security so that it doesn’t happen again.

Now apply this analogy to your body. You have an injury or pain. You can either knock on the door of every doctor or specialist and try to find a quick fix, or you can accept that it’s happened and set about making your body the most resilient it can be so that you can move without pain again.

The catalyst for your pain is a poor pattern of movement.

The Frampton Method teaches you patterns of movement that have long-term benefits for your body. It is a masterclass in the essential movements we were born with, combining elements of gymnastic fundamentals with using the full consciousness of the mind.

I strongly believe that you will need nothing other than your own body (and patience, awareness and – okay – perhaps a few household props) to transform your ability to move. It’s time to stop looking for excuses and unveil the true power of your phenomenal machine: the human body.





PAIN PROTECTS YOUR SPINE!


The most important training tool in your learning is your spine. Consider the possibility that the body is essentially just the spine and each segment of the spine is designed to move in a particular way.

If a segment of the spine were to “lose” its ability to move in the way it was designed to move, something further down the chain must be affected. The spine cannot lose function; it is the body’s utmost priority, to be protected at all costs.

So, when you feel tight hamstrings, lower back pain or neck pain, the feelings and symptoms are all just clever compensation mechanisms that your body is using to protect the spine to keep you functioning.

In other words, your body will happily pay the cost of a shoulder or hip injury in order to protect your central movement mechanism: the spine. Any pain you feel anywhere in the body is there to keep you moving and keep you alive.





DEBUNKING EXERCISE


Okay, let’s look at the three main reasons I hear for why people exercise – and why, to my mind, they leave you chasing the mythical pot of gold at the end of the rainbow (that is, they are a waste of time as reasons go).





I EXERCISE TO GET FIT


It’s not your fault if you give this answer. It’s an industry-standard answer. When I first qualified as a personal trainer, I’d run all sorts of tests to see how fit people were. It seemed to make sense at the time: take a measure of ability, then repeat the test at a later date to see if the results of that measure have improved.

So why is this way of testing fitness flawed?

Human physiology is extremely complex; we are machines capable of billions and billions of movements. If a whole industry is using the same standard exercises as tests for how “fit” we are, then we’re only seeing how “fit” people are at the tests that are being given. We’re not necessarily improving. Just because we did an extra five jumps in that minute doesn’t mean every jump was identical. For example, if burpee 1 didn’t look identical to burpee 10, then perhaps we didn’t do 10 burpees. This is a classic example of how much you move rather than how you move.

What if you run so much that you lose the ability to touch your toes? Surely you’ve just compensated for one weakness with another. According to the industry you’re fitter than you were, but are you now at a higher risk of injury because you lack movement in a part of the body you haven’t trained while running?

Do you believe that one day Mo Farah just started running faster and faster? Hell no. It’s his job. He has a coach; he uses specific techniques; and he runs in a way that is efficient and can bring home gold medals. But is he generally fit? Would he come in the top three in an Olympic 100-metre sprint? If we put Mo on some gymnastic rings, how would he fare? We can’t say he is simply “fit”. We have to say that he is fit at what he does. So, when you say, “I want to get fit”, I say “Get fit at what?”





I EXERCISE TO KEEP IN SHAPE


To keep in whose shape? If it’s your shape, you’re already “in shape”. Unless, that is, you have some idea of the shape you should be in, in which case it’s an ideal. So, at this point you’ll want to show me some pictures of models or movie stars in the shape you’re aiming for. I’ve worked alongside some of the most high-profile male and female models in the world, and if you think for one second these people are constantly happy with their bodies, you’re mistaken. Trying to look like them when they don’t necessarily even like their own body is a fast track to your own body misery. If you base your goals on an image, you’ll never be happy. You’ll always want more. What you see in the mirror will never be good enough.

And there’s another thing – who says what’s “in shape” anyway? Over time and across cultures, in shape is fashion- and trend-based, which means it’s pretty fickle and ever-changing. Look at images of people in the 1970s – being so-called in shape then gave a completely different look to how it does now. Similarly, culturally in shape differs wildly. The Japanese have a certain physique they would call in shape, as do the Russians, and I assure you these are not the same. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but you can never train to be in shape, because being in shape is purely down to perception. For the purposes of this book, the only aspiration you should have is to go back to having the range of movement you had as a child – not anyone else as a child (or an adult), but you.





I EXERCISE TO LOSE WEIGHT


Unless you were born with a relevant medical condition, no one is born overweight. Ricky Gervais summed up the weight issue perfectly in his stand-up routine:

“YOU get fat if YOU take in more calories than YOU burn off.”

This has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with exercise quality. If you eat (input) more than you move (output), then you put on weight. But moving more doesn’t necessarily equate to moving better. Think about this…

» If I banged my head on a brick wall, would I be burning calories? Yes.

» Would my fitness app congratulate me on banging my head against a brick wall and count it as output? Yes.

» Would my heart rate rise as a result of banging my head on a brick wall? Yes.

» Am I moving more? Yes.

» Would I lose weight? Eventually, yes.

So, in the eyes of the fitness industry everything adds up. But you and I both know that repeatedly banging my head against a brick wall isn’t healthy. So what if I’ve lost weight? I now have a long-term head injury.

Never use exercise to “fix” a weight problem. If you’re exercising with the sole purpose of losing weight, you’re just sacrificing your ability to move better in order to be thinner. You’re just swapping one problem for another. Why? Because you’re focusing on losing weight and not on how you move.





FITNESS VS MOVEMENT


On the left are fitness statements, and on the right are the equivalents for movement. They show why movement is more sustainable in the long term.

I train muscles

My body was designed to move in a specific way. The more I keep in line with how I’m designed to move, the less I need to focus on building muscles and the more naturally lean I will become anyway.



I want to lose weight

The more complex movements I learn and apply, the quicker my body will start burning fat at a high rate. (More on this shortly.)



I want to burn more calories

As I work my way through the exercise progressions in the book, the number of calories I burn will increase.



I want to move as fast as I can

The slower I move, the more conscious I become of my body; the more conscious I am of my body, the quicker I will progress and the more self-aware I will become.



I want a better butt

If I take my time to learn specific movements, my butt will become more toned and powerful.



I do

I learn.



I want a better body

My body is perfect just the way it is. My body will change as I progress. (Again, more on that shortly.)





This book strips away old-school “fitness” terminology and gives a new, fresh approach. Learning is the new doing. Exercise stops being exercise as we know it, and instead teaches us new skills, new ways of moving and focusing that stay with us and benefit us for the rest of our lives. Think mindfulness meets exercise.

In short, the skills you’ll learn in this book will not only teach your body new motor skills, but also enable you to develop phenomenal core strength, a greater understanding of how your body moves and greater powers of concentration.





WHAT ABOUT NUTRITION?


I don’t believe I have a diet. Well, not a diet in the sense of eating more to gain muscle or eating less to lose weight. I see diet another way.

I think diet should be something that is sustainable for life. I’ve eaten the same way for many years, even if I have a shoot coming up that I need to look good for. My body stays pretty much the same all year round. The only way it sometimes changes is if I add more flexibility or strength into my training. My physique is always a by-product of the exercise that I’m doing.

I’ve trained with some of the top gymnastic coaches in the world, and listened to some of the greatest acrobats, all of whom follow the same regime: they don’t diet; they just have a strict training programme. For me, nutrition shouldn’t even be put in the same category as exercise. It’s like putting English and Science together. They’re called different things for a reason.

Exercise is exercise and nutrition is nutrition. I’ve met nutritionists who have preached to me about what I should put in my body when they can’t even sit in a squat. If abs were made in the kitchen, the top athletes in the world would spend their time at home, but they don’t.

Why? Because:

» Eating broccoli won’t help you to learn to do a Headstand.

» Eating quinoa won’t improve your leg flexibility.

» Courgetti will not improve your wrist movement.

Are you following? Now, I’m not arguing that some foods aren’t good for your body – I’m saying they have nothing to do with the way you move.





CONSCIOUS MOVEMENT


So, if all those reasons for exercising are a waste of time, what’s the alternative? Answer: conscious movement and using the “movement first” philosophy.

Let’s first look at some everyday exercises that many of us do without really giving them a second thought – this is what I call unconscious exercise. Take squats, planks and press-ups. The short-term effects of pumping these out in endless repetition might look good, but in the long run, are those unconscious reps really doing you any good? Here’s what I think:

» Squats can give you great legs, but are they just creating tightness and restriction in your hips from repeated one-directional movement?

» Planks can give you great abs, but what are they doing to the muscles in your stomach and lower back that you might be ignoring?

» Press-ups can give you a great chest and arms, but are they restricting movement in your shoulders?

Thing is, I’m not interested in short-term gain. I think unconscious exercise (in not focussing on how you move) is a form of self-harm. Yes, self-harm. If you’re doing something to yourself that gives you short-term reward but causes you long-term damage, then you are self-harming.

Let me explain this another way. If you spend the majority of your day in static positions, but have a body that’s designed for constant movement, then you’re living outside of your means. You are in debt to your body and owe it a life of movement.

The answer is to forget quick-fix, short-term strategies and instead learn movements that do good in the long term. This means focusing on and being fully conscious of the specific movements you are doing. This is the founding principle of the Frampton Method. Everything you do in this book, you need to do with pure consciousness. By doing this, you will achieve a strong, restriction-free body without causing yourself long-term damage.

There are no quick fixes, but in time you will:

» Get fit (give your body back its movement)

» Lose weight (burn fat)

» Get in shape (your shape)

Sound familiar? I never train to change the appearance of my body. I’m not trying to gain muscle or lose weight or aspire to be like anyone else. All I’m trying to do is get back the beautiful essence of movement I was born with. I use Handstand techniques I’ve learned from gymnastics, some stretches from yoga classes, some moves I’ve created myself. I’m neither a yogi nor a gymnast. I refuse to be confined within any discipline. I am a human and the Frampton Method is, quite simply, human movement. I’m going to teach you how to move your body. As by-products I promise you this: becoming fit will occur, changing shape will occur and weight loss will occur – but none of these is ever the goal. They all happen as a result of conscious movement.





MOVEMENT FIRST


We’ve just learned what it means to be conscious in a movement, so now I want to explain about the “movement first” philosophy.

Okay, so stand up right now wherever you are with your feet together and your legs straight. Now press your heels against each other. I want you to notice what happened as a result of this movement. Did you feel that your butt muscles engaged? If you’re pressing your heels together, it’s impossible to avoid the muscular contraction in the butt that follows. Muscles engage as a result of a movement. This removes the need to focus on muscle engagement and encourages you to be more conscious of specific movements, because movement comes first. Here’s the sequence:



You see the whole body is interconnected.





THE BORING SCIENCE BIT


I really don’t like to use jargon because:

1. It’s theoretical and changes all the time.

2. I’m not a scientist. I simply look at the mechanics of how we were born to move.

3. We all moved perfectly before we even understood words, let alone scientific concepts.

My biggest belief is that we should all stop using jargon and start learning to move like we once could.

Sitting down for long periods of time freezes the spine into a constant flexed (rounded) position, putting repeated pressure on the same vertebrae.

As you freeze the range of motion in your legs, hips and spine, your body is left feeling tight and restricted, while your newly developed curved spine forces you to look down and literally makes you feel low. The curved spine shape also shrinks the space in which your lungs allow you to breathe, which may explain why you’re suddenly out of breath when climbing a single flight of stairs. This reduction in oxygen entering your blood stream results in reduced concentration and alertness.

Repeated sitting also blocks fat-burning enzymes, stopping you from losing excess weight easily. No wonder those fitness programmes are failing!

You see, everything is made easier for us when we’re older. We have priority seats on public transport, walking sticks, bungalows and stair lifts waiting for us to retire. Some of the biggest geriatric illnesses include: coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, metabolic dysfunction, type 2 diabetes. And here is a separate list of the top diseases caused (in part) by a sedentary lifestyle: coronary heart disease, stroke, respiratory diseases, metabolic dysfunction, type 2 diabetes.

Did you notice anything similar about the last two lists? They are exactly the same.

In fact, at 75 years old, two-thirds of us will be suffering from a chronic illness and may be reliant on pharmaceutical treatment to keep us alive. However, this is “preventable” and in this book I’m not just going to teach you to “move”. I’m going to teach you how to move like you were born to move.





A, B, C, D, E OF LONGEVITY


I promise, if you take the time to read through these next few pages before you start flicking through the rest of the book and attempting the exercises, you’ll have a much better understating of what it takes to maintain a healthy body for the rest of your life. Plus, you might learn a few new things about your body.





If you’ve ever had a conversation with, or worked alongside, a fitness professional – personal trainer, yoga teacher, physiotherapist – you may have noticed that they speak a specific language. They discuss the body from a theoretical perspective and give every twinge, restriction or inability a reason for what might be causing it. Their ideas seem plausible, but they live in a world of terminology and they talk the language of fitness. In this book, I deliver the language of human movement.

The language of movement gives you lifelong tools that you can use to derestrict your body. Anytime. Anywhere. For me, the process of derestricting should be available to all, a 70-year-old who is unable to leave the house as well as a 5-year-old in school. It is important to note that, as a two-year-old, you were capable of placing your elbows on the floor while sitting with your legs straight, but you’d never “stretched your hamstrings” to be able to do it. In fact, you couldn’t even say the word “hamstrings”. This language of fitness can inhibit your progress by telling you that there’s something wrong with you when there isn’t, like people being told they have flat feet or a weak core.

You see, as well as 800-odd muscles, humans are wrapped from head to toe in connective tissue. You may have heard of a thing called “fascia”.

Many years ago, scientists discovered all the separate muscles in the body, named them and gave them responsibilities. The bicep is responsible for flexing the elbow, the tricep is responsible for extending the elbow and so on. It all made sense and they put all the information into a textbook with images of the muscles responsible for movement, giving exercises named after the muscles to strengthen and lengthen them: Lat Pull-down, Bicep Curl, Tricep Dip and so on.

But then we discovered fascia, a clingfilm-like substance that covers your body, from the top of your head to the soles of your feet. When we’re born, the fascia in our bodies is supple, but as we become restricted, it can become tight and rigid. What I’m saying is that you can’t move one part of your body without it having an effect on another, because fascia interconnects us... everywhere. The way I see it, we are one. A whole. A body.

So, let’s get away from this theory of trying to improve muscles and look for something more tangible to improve, something that we can tell for ourselves. When we train, all that we feel is FEELING. I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: your body is capable of billions – yes, billions – of movements. It’s time to give up thinking about training muscles and get to the real issue: you have stopped moving naturally, and your first port of call is to regain that natural movement.





Have you ever looked at your dog or your cat, or in fact any animal, and said, “Oh, I wonder what they’re thinking?” But they can’t be, right? They don’t have a language to think in. For us to even think that the dog is sitting there thinking is a bit ridiculous. Think about this.

If you didn’t know language, you wouldn’t be able to think either. You can’t think in a language you can’t speak. But would you still exist? Of course you would. As young children, we all existed without knowing language. Negativity, fear, stress, anxiety, worry, embarrassment, guilt, regret, sadness, bitterness, resentment. None of these existed for you then.

As a baby, when you needed a poo, you just had a poo. There was no voice in your head that said, “Oh my god, what will they think of me?” When you wanted something, you’d just cry. You enjoyed being out in the rain without using words like “miserable”, and most importantly you existed – you just didn’t have the access to language yet.

We could say that, at that time in your life, you were fully aware of what you were feeling because you weren’t always in your head. You weren’t thinking all the time.

When I was younger, I used to think I was different because I would talk to myself all the time. Now I realize that we all do! We have a constant internal dialogue that rarely switches off. The only problem with talking to yourself is that you are not being present in the moment and may become unaware of what’s happening around you or what you are feeling. If you’ve ever meditated, you’ll know the purpose of meditation is to watch your thoughts or to be aware that you’re in a thinking state of mind.

So, how does this relate to the process of derestricting the body?

Have you recognized the feeling of being angry? When we get angry, we tend to say, “I am angry”. You’re not. You’re Susan. You’re Susan (or whatever your name is) naming the feeling that you call “anger”. What is most important to understand is that when we are fully aware of ourselves (not always mindlessly thinking), we can become completely conscious of the feelings in our bodies.

What do you feel right now? Nothing? Then follow an exercise in this book to create a feeling. Becoming less controlled by your stream of thought and more aware of feelings in your body is not only one of the most powerful life tools that you will ever know, but will be extremely valuable in derestricting your body.

The more you become aware (conscious) of how your body feels at any given time, the better you’ll become at recognising when to adjust your position in an exercise, which in turn will adjust the feeling. Awareness is everything. Think of this as your mantra:





“My body is not me, I am the watcher of my body.

My job is to be conscious of and take care of my body until the very end.”





Feelings, for each and every one of us, are unique and can only be defined by you, the feeler. I am the feeler of my feelings and you are the feeler of your feelings. I can have empathy, meaning I recognize that you are feeling a feeling, but I can’t actually feel it for you. Once you understand this, the next thing you need to determine is the type of feeling that you are feeling.

If you’ve ever been through an upsetting break-up, you may describe that feeling as having your heart broken. Now, on a physical level, you’re heart isn’t actually broken, but that’s what you feel.

When you pass your exams at school or get a promotion at work, you recognise a feeling of euphoria, pride, amazement, excitement, but in the same way as the example above, you may not go around physically jumping for joy yet you feel that type of feeling internally.

In these two examples, I used emotions to describe two different types of feeling. Now, I’m going to define the two different feelings that may occur in the process of derestricting your body.

The first is good feeling. Good feeling will feel like a stretchy or muscular sensation. I wouldn’t describe it as a comfortable feeling, but as soon as you have found a feeling that feels uncomfortable, you can rest assured that you are derestricting your body or working for its greater good. In other words, if you feel a stretch or as if your muscles are burning, then something good is happening. This feeling is an indicator of progress. If you feel nothing, then nothing is happening. Simple as that.

All the time we’re being sold comfort – a comfortable bed, sofa, car… But for the purpose of derestricting your body, you’ve got to become good at being uncomfortable. However, don’t confuse this with pain. You haven’t got to get good at being in pain. That would be a bit ridiculous. Good feeling is not pain.

Pain is a feeling you are most likely to experience in your knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, neck, lower back or any area where bones are exposed. Most people will describe the feeling they feel as a harsh, acute or painful feeling. Every single one of us has experienced this. When the water tap runs too hot, you pull away. It’s a signal – you’re very clever body is sending you a message: “Don’t go here!” It’s telling you to stop. Pain, although not a nice feeling, is phenomenal, and the fact that you feel it means that your body is smart.

Nothing good will ever come of you being in physical pain. It’s really not something I promote or advise people to persevere with.

In terms of derestricting your body, as soon as you feel pain, you need to stop what you’re doing and find a good feeling by moving in a different way. Remember, we’re looking for a feeling of discomfort, but never pain. You may need to go back several exercises in a move until you no longer feel pain.

The main reason I don’t advise or teach fast movement is because of this warning pain. When you move fast, you miss the opportunity to feel what’s happening in your body. It puts you in flight or fight mode, which produces hormones that mask these sensations. The slower you move, the more you can become aware of the different feelings in your body. Feelings are instant feedback on whether something is right and you should carry on, or wrong and you should stop.





RESOLVING PAIN


The only way to find the solution to pain is to explore the sensation yourself. The second you go off looking for somebody to prod a thumb into your muscles, crack some bones or (worst of all) dampen down the sensation with some medication, you lose the opportunity to discover for yourself the root cause of the problem. So, no more external fixes. Next time, try this train of thought instead:

» Hmm… there is a sensation in my neck.

» What have I been doing lately that may have caused this sensation to arise?

» How many hours a day do I spend sitting on a chair or staring at a phone/computer screen?

» Do I actually have any awareness of how my body is moving throughout the day?

» When I do exercise, am I even conscious of how I move or do I just move?

» Do I get pumped up to exercise? (Being pumped up and moving fast can rob you of consciousness.)

» Am I prepared to take the time to learn where the restrictions are in my body and take action to do some long-term good?





For the purposes of derestricting the body, we need to be able to number the intensity we are feeling, and for this we use a simple scale of 1 to 10. So, if your boyfriend leaves the toilet seat up, how angry do you get? For some people 1; for others 10. Feelings are subjective to the feeler.

Years ago when I used to lift weights at the gym, I would always train to my maximum, and even when I couldn’t do any more repetitions, I’d put all my effort into trying to get that bar to the top. Likewise, during my running days, I would summon every last ounce of power in me to cross the line in the quickest time. Then I got into yoga and I tried the same approach. Can you imagine how I looked putting all my energy into stretching? I’d cast my eyes around the room and see all the bendy people stretching and most seemed quite relaxed. I just put that down to, you know, once you get more flexible, it’s easier. But that’s not true – you just get better at coping with the feelings. When I started to relax a bit, my improvement went through the roof.

Based on the number system, when I first approached yoga, we could say I was using 10/10 effort.

So, if 10 is me in the stretch treating it like I need to cross the finish line as soon as possible, then the opposite of that is all you Child’s Posers. Oh yeah, you know who you are: “I’m gonna chill here in my Child’s Pose” or “I’m gonna do the least amount of effort until the teacher sees and then I’ll work really hard for a few seconds before going back to my Child’s Pose.”

When trying to improve your movement, the ideal numbers to be working in are between 6 and 8, maybe 9 as you get better at coping with discomfort. 10 is too much; you’re working too hard to be aware of what you feel and you’ll end up injuring yourself. And if you’re a 1, you might as well be sitting at home watching TV.

In A–D, we’ve learned that what we feel is unique feeling, that we can learn to be more conscious of our feelings, the difference between “good feeling” and “pain” and, lastly, how to number the sensations that we feel. Throughout the book, following the support exercises for each move, you will have the chance to test this effort scale on your body, but first we’re going to learn one last thing, the power of distraction.





Now, for the last step towards derestricting the body: the art of distraction.

Blink!

Because I just mentioned the word “blink”, are you now aware that you are blinking? Were you aware of blinking previously?

Earlier, we discussed how feeling a good feeling may not be comfortable, but we know that it is a very necessary process if we want to derestrict our bodies. What we can do is exploit the fact that our minds are only capable of feeling one feeling at one time, or focusing on one thing at one time.

Look, you can’t feel positive at the same time as feeling negative. You can’t feel happy and sad together. They are complete opposites.

The benefit of only being able to feel one feeling at one time is the ability to distract yourself from uncomfortable feelings when in the process of derestricting your body.

Nobody in their right mind goes into a stretch and thinks, “Woo hoo, this feels so great, I want to do this all day long!” It can become an addictive thing and you might end up enjoying the feeling, but the real reward comes in the long term. You feel rewarded for doing it immediately and, more than that, you will start to see the reward in how your body moves.

To help with progress, you can distract yourself in any of the following ways, but you must always have an awareness of the feeling you feel in the background. You can:

» Focus purely on your breathing

» Watch TV

» Listen to music

» Dream of sitting on a beach

» Smile

» If you’re outside, you can count the leaves on the trees

And that’s my A–E of Longevity.

Derestricting the body is a lifelong process. It never stops. When you stop training your body to move, you give up responsibility for its health.

In movement, there is no alignment or perfect form. There is just feeling. The feeling you feel holds the key to where you are restricted and what action you need to take.

The question, “Where am I supposed to be feeling it?” is irrelevant. You should instead ask, “Where am I feeling it?” or “What feeling do I feel in my body right now?”

The steps I have shown you here are tools that you can use to get the job done. Nobody else can derestrict your body for you. Your personal trainer or yoga teacher cannot derestrict your body. They can of course give guidance and feedback, but nobody else can ever feel what you feel.

Don’t think you’re going to achieve the perfect, injury- and pain-free body – the one that sits in a squat, and can fold over at the waist with palms flat on the floor – in, let’s say, six weeks.

Remember, the Frampton Method doesn’t work on time restraints. You are designed to move well for the rest of your life. As soon as you give up movement, you give up on life. Your body will only do as much as you allow it to. You don’t need to beat your body up, but you do need to be consistent. Movement is a habit that you must never ever forget again.

Go one step at a time, slowly, consciously. Remember that you’re undoing years and years of damage. It takes time to remind your body of all the things it used to be able to do naturally and you have to be patient. I can assure you, though, it will come.

The hare game is finished – the tortoise wins this race.





THE FRAMPTON PHRASEBOOK


Here’s the list of terminology I’ll be using throughout the book. It’s important that you read this to understand the concepts otherwise it’s highly likely you may get a little lost.

MOVEMENT Quite simply this is the exercise you are practising. That is all it is. If I use the word fitness, you might think I mean weight loss, a “leg day”, workouts, cardio. I’m not referring to any of this. As I’ve said before, four-year-olds don’t need these labels, and seeing as we’re aiming to move like a four-year-old, neither do we. You were born with a perfect body and your goal is to use movement to regain and then maintain that body.

CONSCIOUSNESS This is your complete focus and awareness. Training with a watchful eye will catch the body out when it slips into a painful or harmful pattern of movement. Consciousness makes sure you make adjustments to correct yourself.

SENSATION This is the feeling that you feel when you are doing any movement. You need to be present, conscious, mindful and alert to feel individual sensations. When you’ve felt it, you have to label it mentally – identify it as good feeling or compensation (pain).

COMPENSATION (PAIN) Compensation is a painful feeling you’re most likely to experience in your knees, elbows, shoulders, hips, neck or lower back – the bony bits. You might, for example, feel a pain in your lower back when you do a Bridge exercise – as an example, the compensation could be a result of having tight shoulders or it could be from having tight hips or in fact any restriction elsewhere in the body. Where the restriction occurs isn’t important. What’s important to grasp is that what you’re feeling is a result of something else not moving as intended – that is, a compensation. Most people describe compensation as a harsh pain that sends the message, “Don’t go here!” It’s telling you to stop. Nothing good will ever come of you working into this painful sensation, but please don’t get the wrong message that the sensation is bad. It’s just a warning. As soon as you feel it, pause. If you feel pain in your knees when you squat, change the movement until you find good feeling or no pain. You may need to change the movement several times.

GOOD FEELING This is the feeling most of us feel down the back of our legs when we keep our legs straight and try to touch our toes. It’s usually a muscular sensation that seems to stop you from going any further. Although uncomfortable, it is beneficial for long-term improvement. You will also come across good feeling when doing, say, the Front Support. This is a feeling that most will describe as a burning or fatiguing sensation. Again, although uncomfortable, a conscious burning sensation is necessary for long-term improvement.

RESTRICTION This is an area of the body that has become tight over a period of time. In order to survive, the human species has to adapt. In the process, we lose functions that we no longer need. In terms of movement, if you persistently use a chair rather than the natural squatting position, your body will lose access to the squat. As kids we could all bend over, legs straight, and place our palms on the floor, but now most of us can no longer even touch our toes. The body has shut down what it’s not using. That’s restriction.

In my opinion, there are three main culprits when it comes to restriction: shoes and tight clothing, chairs and screens. In turn, being restricted in movement causes four main problems: weight gain and even obesity (owing to lack of efficient output); lack of mobility, flexibility and strength; poor posture, injuries and pain; depression or a lack of self-worth.

However, remember that the solution to restriction is not to move more; it’s to strip back and learn (or relearn) how to move like we used to. To do this, you’ll hear me talk about “derestriction”. Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to start walking around in bare feet, loose clothing and quit your job to squat in public like a four-year-old. You’re just going to learn where you have become restricted.

NEURAL PATHWAY Do you remember learning to stand up? Don’t worry if you don’t. For the majority of us this was a thing that took months and months of practise before we could stand without thinking abut it. The neural pathway I sometimes refer to in this book is essentially the connection between the brain and the body during a specific movement. Some people call this “muscle memory”. Like learning to stand, crawl and walk, the movements in this book need to be learned. The best things take time!





OVERHEAD SQUAT


The Squat is a very natural position, and was really simple... when you were four years old. If you have kids, or you have a friend that has kids, you will notice that those kids spend a lot of time sitting in a squat position. For kids, the Squat is not an exercise but a resting position.

However, when you were a kid, you were probably told to sit in a chair for everything: sit at the table to eat or to do your homework; sit on the sofa to watch TV. As soon as you started school, you were introduced into a day that included five hours of sitting. By the time you got to adulthood, sitting in a chair had become your default resting position. We’re heading into the biggest epidemic of all time.

A study in 2012 found that musculoskeletal conditions were the second greatest cause of disability in the world, affecting more than 1.7 billion people worldwide. Professor Woolf, a world leader in healthcare, describes suffering from musculoskeletal disorders as being like a Ferrari without wheels: “If you don’t have mobility and dexterity, it doesn’t matter how healthy the rest of your body is.”

We are all born with perfectly formed hips and spine, and it’s high time to get our bodies back moving like they are designed to. Now, I’m not prepared to throw out a problem without providing you with a decent solution. Here goes…


BENEFITS

» Improved hip mobility

» Improved ankle mobility

» Improved body function

» Better awareness

But the biggest benefit of all: the squat is the position from which you can learn about the range of motion you have in the rest of your body. When you’re in a squat position, it’s very easy to recognise where other parts of your body have become restricted.


HOW TO MOVE

Choose 5 exercises from this book for your 10-minutes-a-day training. Identify the exercise in this section that you need to improve and repeat until you are able to progress to the next exercise. One exercise comprises both a 1-minute slow movement and a 1-minute static hold.





First, we want to make sure our squat journey is injury free. When you’re in the squat, the only part of your body in contact with the floor’s surface is your feet. If you spend some time focusing on getting your foot position right, and build up from this, the journey to the full squat will be a simple and safe one.

Your feet should face forwards, not inwards and not outwards, and your forwards-facing feet should be arched.

Ever heard of flat feet? Perhaps somebody once told you that you are flat-footed? It could be that the shoes you’ve been wearing for the last few decades have caused your feet to lose their natural arched position and become flat. Well, you’ll be pleased to know that your foot position is trainable.

A person once told me, “My feet turn out when I walk.” My reply: “Stop allowing your feet to turn out when you walk.” It sounds so simple, but when you become conscious of the way you stand, walk, squat and, most importantly, move, you can begin to change bad habits into good ones that keep you moving injury free. I mean, really, who controls your feet? You do. So, when you walk down the street, take responsibility for the way you move.

The first thing you need to do is stand up and look down at your feet. Next, face them forwards. For the squat, at no point will they need to turn outwards.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Stand up and face your feet forwards, then roll them between a collapsed position and an arched position, using as wide a range of motion as you can. It will look something like the photos on the left.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Stay standing with your feet facing forwards and roll your feet to an arched position, keeping your big toe connected to the ground. Hold.

TIP: You’ll notice that when the arches of your feet collapse, your knees turn inwards; when your feet are in an arched position, your knees rotate outwards.





You’re now going to repeat exactly the same movement as Exercise 1, only this time you’re going to attempt it sitting in a squat position.

IMPORTANT: The higher the surface onto which you place your heels, the easier the movement will be. Using blocks to position your heels allows you to move easily without any pain at all.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Move slowly between an arched foot and a collapsed foot while sitting in the squat position, elbows on thighs, hands clasped together. Focus on the following points:

» Feet face forwards

» Weight stays on the heels

REMEMBER: When your knees are wide, your foot is in an arched position. When your knees come towards each other, your foot is in a collapsed position. Your toes should never leave the ground.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Hold your knees wide in an arched-foot position, as in the top photo. If you’re doing this correctly, you should feel muscular tension on the outside of your hips around the butt area.





Let’s play a game to check that you’re staying on track. One of the images above is incorrect and one is correct. Which is the correct one?

Answer: B is correct, feet facing forwards.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


If you’re wondering why we keep the feet facing forwards instead of turned out, as is commonly taught in yoga, there are two reasons:

» 1. Turning the feet out increases the risk of collapsed feet and long-term ankle and knee damage. The goal of a movement prioritises the long-term benefits for your body.

» 2. Keeping the feet facing forwards ensures you maximise the effects of flexibility of your hips, rather than resting on the joint.





For Exercise 3, you’re going to focus your attention on the movement of your spine in the squat. You’ll need to keep your feet facing forwards while your attention goes elsewhere.

In the left photo, I am taking my spine to the most flexed position I can. In the right photo, I have lifted my spine into the most extended position I can.

Ask someone to take a photograph of you in this position, or use a mirror to see what your spine looks like. A good way to know you’re in a fully extended position is to see if you’re able to rest your elbows on top of your knees.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Squat on a block (or blocks – use as many as you need to) and roll your spine from a flexed to an extended position. Aim to sit your elbows on top of your knees. If this means shrugging your shoulders, raise your heels using more blocks until you can do it without a shrug.

The photographs at the bottom of the page show my elbows too far forwards, and too far back with my shoulders shrugged.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Squat on a block (or blocks), hold your elbows on top of your knees and extend your spine. Remember all the points so far:

» Feet facing forwards

» Feet in the arched position

» Elbows on top of knees

» Shoulders relaxed (not shrugged up around your ears)





For Exercise 4, you’re going to sit in the squat on a flat surface, but holding onto something for support. Use something like a lamppost, a bar or a sturdy chair – anything that counterbalances your weight.

This is the first exercise in which your heels will be in full contact with the floor. If you feel any joint pain (you might feel it in your knees), keep practising pain-free Exercise 3, until you can achieve the position of Exercise 4 without discomfort.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Use the movements from Exercises 1 and 2, but this time with your support fully supporting your weight so that you can focus fully on the movement of your feet rather than worrying about toppling over: roll your feet from a collapsed to an arched position. Do not lift up onto your toes. Your weight must remain on your heels with your toes in contact with the floor.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Your aim here is to hold your feet in the arched position with your knees as wide as possible. Keep your feet facing forwards at all times. You should start to feel a burning sensation around your butt area and the outsides of your hips. You may also feel that sense of burning (a muscular sensation that indications good feeling; see below) inside your hips and your shins. This is perfectly normal – as long as you don’t feel pain, hold the position.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


Good feeling is a muscular sensation. I wouldn’t describe it as pleasant, but it is beneficial, as it contributes to the long-term benefit of exercise for your body. Bad pain, on the other hand, is not effective for the long-term benefit of your body.





In Exercise 5, you’re going to practise the spine roll from Exercise 3, only this time using a support. You aren’t using the block and are sitting fully in the squat on a flat surface. This exercise will also introduce you to a straight-arm movement that will come up throughout the book.

In this exercise, you’ll learn to hold yourself in an upright position using your core rather than gripping with your arms. You may find that you need to move closer or further away from your support until you find a spot that is comfortable for you.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Sit in the squat on a flat surface, holding onto your support and keeping the weight on your heels. Move between a flexed or rounded spine and an extended or straight spine position. In the flexed-spine position, your knees should be under your armpits; in the extended-spine position, your chest should come away from your knees.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Sit in the squat on a flat surface, holding onto your support and keeping the weight on your heels. Hold your body in the extended-spine position. Keep your arms straight.

Remember all the points so far:

» Feet facing forwards on a flat surface

» Use your support to remain stable

» Weight on your heels

» Arms straight

» Chest away from knees

» Shoulders in a relaxed position – not shrugged

TIP: Focus on pushing your shoulders back and down at the top of the position to help keep your spine extended and to prevent any shrugging.





Exercise 6 is a movement that can be effective for opening up the hips (which in turn can help you to achieve the full squat position). You’ll need your blocks – the higher you place them in front of you, the easier the exercise.

You may not feel tightness here at all. I’ve taught people who can barely sit in a crossed-legged position, and I’ve also taught people who can sit very comfortably crossed-legged with their head resting on the floor and feel no stretch whatsoever. Every body is unique. If you feel no stretch as you practise this exercise, skip to Exercise 7. If you feel some tightness (a restriction), stick with it.

NOTE: Restriction is an area of the body that has become tight over time.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Sit upright in a crossed-legged position with a block in front of you. Upend the block for the least stretch, place it on its side for a medium stretch and flat for the furthest stretch – use whichever is pain free. Reach your head forwards, bending from the hips, until you touch the block with your forehead.

Raise up to the start position, then lower again, changing the position of the block as the sensation (stretch) dissipates. Cross your legs the other way and repeat to work different areas of the body.

Your elbows will lower towards the floor in front of your knees as you bend. As the sensation dissipates, you’ll be able to get lower and lower until one day you can rest your head on the floor with no blocks at all.

IMPORTANT: You should feel no pain in your knees. If you do, position your feet further away from your body.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Sit cross-legged. Rest your head on the block with your elbows on the floor and hold. Swap the cross. As you regain flexibility and the sensation dissipates, drop the blocks until your head meets the floor.





Exercise 7 looks for restrictions in the insides of the legs, around your groin area. You’ll need to place each of your knees on a block with your hips directly above or ideally behind your knees towards your feet. Use a mirror or ask someone to take a photograph of you.

Your shins should be parallel to one another and at right angles to your thighs. The priority is to keep your hips in line with your knees. The aim is to move backwards towards your heels.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Adopt the position described above. Move slowly between an untucked pelvis and a tucked pelvis, while keeping your knees and hips square to each other. In an untucked pelvis position, you should have a slight dip in your lower back. In a tucked pelvis position, you should have a flat back.

Tap into the sensations. Are they good or bad? How intense are they, on a scale of 1 to 10?

1: “I could sit here all day long.” (This is not enough for long-term improvement.)

10: “I need to stop now!” (Be patient: work towards long-term improvement, moving down the scale.)

Don’t be lazy and don’t go crazy: aim for a 7 or 8.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Hold the tucked pelvis position, numbering the sensation – if it is higher than 8, bring your knees towards each other; if it is lower than 7, slide your knees apart. Focus on the following:

» Hips above knees or slightly behind

» Shins parallel and at right angles

» Elbows on the floor





For Exercise 8, you’re coming back to the squat position. You’ll need to be completely comfortable sitting in a full squat on a flat surface – if you’re unable to do this yet, do the exercise with blocks under your heels, then over time remove the blocks until you’re able to do it without.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Starting in a full squat with your feet shoulder-width apart, roll your spine from a flexed position (with your body between your knees, hands clasped) to an extended position (chest pulled away). At the top of the movement, the goal is to place your elbows on top of your knees with your palms together, fingers clasped.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Sit in a full squat, elbows on top of your knees, spine extended. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed. Focus on the following:

» Feet shoulder-width apart

» Feet facing forwards

» Weight on heels

» Elbows on knees

» Palms together

» Chest upright

» Look straight ahead

» Shoulders back and down

IMPORTANT: For this exercise I am wearing footwear with a low heel. If your shoes have a heel, switch to bare feet or wear footwear that keeps your heels as low to the floor as possible.





For Exercise 9, you’re staying in the full squat, but moving on to develop the straight-arm work that we touched on in Exercise 5, this time using a block. When you come to do the Front Support, you’ll need to have learned this technique to press through your shoulders.

NOTE: Don’t just hold the block – actively press it up and away from you, even it moves only a tiny bit.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Sit fully in the squat position and press the block away from you, keeping your elbows locked (left, top photo). Once you can fully lock your arms, raise the block as high as possible, pressing it away and up until it is above your head (left, bottom photo).





1-MINUTE HOLD


Sit fully in the squat position. Hold the block as far up and back as possible, sliding your shoulder blades up your back to do so (below, second from left photo). Keep your hips low, taking care that they do not raise up and away from the ground. Make sure you don’t squeeze your back muscles up into your neck. Take a look at the correct and incorrect photographs (below). Keep going through the following points:

» Feet facing forwards

» Knees wider than hips

» Elbows locked

» Block pressed up and away using your back muscles (not your neck)

» Shoulder blades slide up the back





For Exercise 10, the objective is to start from a standing position facing a wall and lower into the squat position without letting the block touch the wall.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Stand with your feet facing forwards and your knees wider than your hips. Press the block up and overhead, and at the same time, slowly lower straight down to your lowest squat. The aim is to slowly lower all the way to the bottom and back up again without the block touching the wall, retaining the positions of your feet and hips.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Stand facing a wall, feet facing forwards and shoulder-width apart. Position yourself as close to the wall as possible so that you can squat with the block overhead, but without letting it touch the wall as you lower. Hold the lowest position.

NOTE: As you improve, move closer to the wall, until one day your toes actually touch it when you lower.



LIFE HACKS

TRAINSQUATTING

You can practise your moves anytime, anywhere – whenever you have a spare minute or some dead time. Imagine me on the train to work, checking my emails on my phone. Am I sat in a chair? No, I’m squatting. Not only do I avoid more chair-sitting, but I actually improve my squat position.

COMMUTER HOLD

I call this “secret stretching”. For one train stop, sit in the squat position against a flat surface. As your flexibility improves, squat for more stops.

NOTE: Your lower back must be in contact with the surface behind you. Don’t allow your pelvis to tuck under.

For more advice on how to do this, see www.roger.coach.

CONGRATULATIONS!

If you’ve mastered this move, you’re now squatting like you could when you were a four-year-old. Don’t ever let life take this position away from you again. And if you’re now up for a bigger challenge, practise all the squat exercises (from 1 to 10) using only one leg. Good luck!





FRONT SUPPORT


The Plank is one of the most common exercises in the fitness industry today. At first glance, you may think that this move is just another plank. However, this is called the Front Support, an exercise Olympic gymnasts use as one of their routine strengthening body alignment exercises.

The Plank is well known as a core exercise, but the Front Support is a true test of how active your back and butt muscles are, as well as your core. In this chapter, I will explain how to hold a Front Support correctly, how to avoid pain and what common mistakes inhibit your progress.

With practice, you’ll be able to hold the perfect Front Support with your palms pressing through the ground, your upper back rounded, shoulders pressing, rib cage pulled in, stomach sucked in, pelvis tucked under, knees locked and heels together. Sound like a lot to do? No problem. Let me show you how.


BENEFITS

» Improved butt muscles

» Improved pelvis mobility

» Awareness of your back muscles

» Improved spine alignment

» Core strength

» Shoulder strength

» Better awareness of your body


HOW TO MOVE

Choose 5 exercises from this book for your 10-minutes-a-day training. Identify the exercise in this section that you need to improve and repeat until you are able to progress to the next exercise. One exercise comprises both a 1-minute slow movement and a 1-minute static hold.





Exercise 1 teaches you the locked-arm position. It’s the same arm movement used for pressing away the block in the Locked-Arm Raises.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Kneel on the floor, knees and thighs together, sitting back on your heels. Interlock your fingers, palms facing your body. Press your hands away from you at shoulder height, until you go from a straight back to a rounded back. Try to create as much distance as possible between your ribs and your hands. At the point where your arms are fully locked, three things will happen:

» Arms rotate so that your biceps face upwards

» Ribs suck in

» Upper back rounds so that your shoulder blades are no longer visible

Keep moving back and forth.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Adopt the starting position for the movement. Press away your interlinked hands so that your back rounds. Hold this position, making sure you keep your arms at shoulder height.





In Exercise 2, you’re going to perform the same arm movement as Exercise 1. However, rather than sitting back on your knees, you’re going to practise it on all fours on the floor. This is not a push-up; your arms do not bend. You’re pushing with your shoulders to round your back.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Kneel on the floor on all fours with your back straight and your hands beneath your shoulders, fingers pointing forwards. Keep your arms straight. Move slowly, straightening your arms and rounding your shoulders and upper back. Focus on sucking in your ribs, rotating your elbows to face behind you and pressing your hands into the floor. Your shoulders should stack directly above your hands, without hunching, and your eyes should be looking downwards.





1-MINUTE HOLD


From the starting position in the movement, press through the floor to round your shoulders, pull your ribs in as much as you can and hold. You should feel a burning sensation around your shoulders, back and arms.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


When I say “hands pressed into the floor”, your fingers should point forwards and the underside of the knuckle of your index finger should stay connected with the floor (far left photo). If you feel pain in your wrists, turn your fingers out slightly (near left photo), but remember to always keep your index finger connected.





For Exercise 3, you’re going to get up to do a standing exercise. First, look at the photographs and focus on the differences between the look of an untucked and a tucked pelvis. Then, we’ll move on to what they feel like.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Stand straight, feet hip-width apart. Raise your arms to shoulder height and fold them. Untuck your pelvis and notice the arch in your back. Then, engage your butt muscles to tuck in your pelvis. Your back straightens. Move between tucking and untucking your pelvis for the full minute.

NOTE: Do not focus on your stomach muscles for this exercise; your butt muscles are the key. You can use your butt muscles to tuck in your pelvis, or you can tuck in your pelvis to engage your butt. I don’t care which one you focus on just be completely clear at this stage which is which.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Begin in the standing position at the start of the movement. Tuck in your pelvis, squeeze your butt and hold.





The images below look exactly the same as the images in Exercise 2. However, this time you’re going further down the chain to focus on the movement of your pelvis.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Position yourself on all fours, as in Exercise 2. Move between an arched back and a rounded back, and this time also use the tuck in your pelvis to make the switch. At the very top of the movement, you should feel your butt muscles engage. At the same time, you will move from a flat to a rounded back, just as you did in Exercise 2.





1-MINUTE HOLD


You’re now having to focus on several things at once. It’s complex at first, and getting it right will take practice. Assume the starting position for the movement and tuck in your pelvis, then hold. Keep repeating the following in your head as you hold the position:

» Hands pressed into the floor

» Rounded upper back

» Arms locked and elbows rotated to face behind

» Ribs sucked in

» Eyes looking down and slightly in front of the hands

» Pelvis tucked under

» Butt muscles engaged





This exercise is for single leg-locking, which will fully engage the muscles around your knees.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Build up your blocks or books underneath one of your heels until you can comfortably raise and hold your other heel off the ground with your leg straight out in front of you, locking your knee. Move slowly, lowering and raising the extended leg. Do this for 30 seconds each side, or spend longer on the side that feels harder.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Begin in the starting position for the movement, with one leg extended and your other heel on the block(s). Raise the extended leg off the ground in a locked position. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg.

NOTE: You may find this exercise easier on one side than the other. If so, work on the weaker side more, until it is equally easy on both sides.

If you’re finding the Pistol Squat tricky, try the exercise on here.





In the previous exercise, you familiarised yourself with what it feels like to lock your legs. The goal in Exercise 6 is to be able to extend and lock one leg in a Front Support position.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Starting in the same position as Exercise 4, extend one leg behind you and lock it completely. Return to the starting position and then extend the opposite leg and lock it completely. Take turns with each leg for the full minute. You should feel the straight leg activate and the butt engage.

TIP: You can keep your foot pointed or flexed as feels more comfortable.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Hold the straight leg locked in position for 30 seconds, then repeat with the other leg. Remember the following as you hold:

» Hands pressed into the floor

» Upper back rounded

» Arms locked and elbows rotated to face behind you

» Ribs sucked in

» Eyes looking down and slightly in front of your hands

» Pelvis tucked under

» Butt muscles engaged on the locked leg





For the record, this exercise does not cause back pain – unless you’re doing it incorrectly, in which case follow the advice below to remedy the problem. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the exercise altogether just because it hurts.

Before you begin, it’s important to set up the position correctly. Your shoulders should stack directly above your hands. Your arms should lock with your elbows rotated to face behind you. Press your shoulders back and down away from your ears. No shrugging.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Begin lying face down on the floor, legs extended behind you and palms below your shoulders. Press into the floor to lift your chest until it is perpendicular to the floor and your arms are straight with shoulders away from your ears. You may feel some tension in your lower back. Lock your legs and butt with your spine extended, taking the sensation away from your lower back, and raising your thighs and knees from the floor. Keep moving back and forth between relaxed and locked legs.

IMPORTANT: Your pelvis remains in an untucked position.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Beginning in the starting position for the movement, move into the extended spine and hold the locked-leg position. Keep your butt tight, with your shoulders directly above your hands and rolled back and down away from your ears.





The locked position you learned in the last exercise is the starting position for Exercise 8. This time, from the starting position you’re going to lift your body up in the air by pulling from your rib cage.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Starting in the hold position for Exercise 7 (opposite), keep your arms straight and locked and pull your rib cage in until your spine is flat and you are resting on the tops of your toes. Repeat the raise and lower for the full minute. (Don’t allow your thighs to touch the mat when you lower.)





1-MINUTE HOLD


Start in the hold position as you did for the movement, then pull your rib cage in. Hold at the top position. Focus on the following:

» Hands pressed into the floor

» Arms locked and straight

» Upper back rounded

» Ribs sucked in

» Legs locked and straight

» Pelvis tucked under





For Exercise 9, the goal is to move from a tucked pelvis to an untucked pelvis while holding your legs in a locked position. Remember the movement in Exercise 3, where we were mastering a standing tuck? This is the upgraded version of that.

Ever heard of muscle memory? Well, I can assure you that muscles themselves do not have memory. However, movements do. Your goal is to rewire your brain so that it remembers how to move your body like it once could.

How it works is this: you train a movement in basic terms, rather like Exercise 1, focusing on one thing. By the time you’ve mastered Exercise 9, it’s not the muscles that are remembering how to move, it’s your brain registering hundreds of tiny movements. In other words, the more complicated the exercises become, the smarter and more body aware you become.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Start in the hold position for Exercise 8, then lower so that you create a perfect line from your shoulder to your toes, as in a full Front Support. Staying in your line, tuck in your pelvis to create a hollow in your back, then untuck, causing your upper back to round and your lower back to flatten. Repeat for the full minute, without allowing your body to move up or down.

REMEMBER: As you tuck your pelvis in, you will feel your butt muscles engage; and you’ll feel them release as you untuck.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Raise yourself into the Front Support position and tuck in your pelvis. Hold like this for the full minute.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


In the photographs, I have pointed toes, but you may find it easier to raise yourself up onto flexed toes (toes under). We’ll work on pointing the toes in the next exercise. For now, get used to pushing your heels against each other, which will further help you to feel your butt muscles engage.





Once you have mastered Exercise 9, you should be able to move slowly and consciously between pointed toes and flexed toes while you are holding the line of the Front Support.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Follow the instructions for the hold position in Exercise 9, only this time have your feet flexed. Tuck in your pelvis. Rock forwards slightly, reducing the angle at your wrist, to move from a flexed-foot position to a pointed position, while keeping the strong line of the Front Support. Rock back and forth like this for the full minute.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Begin in the Front Support position with pointed toes. Hold, focusing on the following:

» Hands pressing through the ground

» Arms locked and elbows rotated backwards

» Ribs pulled in

» Pelvis tucked

» Upper back rounded

» Butt muscles engaged

» Legs locked

» Heels together

» Toes pointed





CONGRATULATIONS!


You are now a master of the perfect Front Support (you can call it a Plank if you like). This is a foundation for your bodyweight work, because all the exercises you’ve mastered to get here will come up again throughout the book. And, if you’re ready for something more challenging, come on over to the Headstand and hold a solid line with three – rather than four – points of contact. Good luck!



LIFE HACK

STANDING POSITION

Standing strong will not only give you better posture, burn more calories and potentially save you from joint replacements, but also help you become more bodily aware and more flexible.

A PLANK STAND?

A gymnastic Handstand, although a challenging exercise, puts the body through the same techniques as the perfect Front Support. Look at a gymnast doing a Handstand and consider:

» Hands pressing through the ground

» Arms locked

» Ribs pulled in

» Upper back rounded

» Pelvis tucked under

» Stomach sucked in

» Butt muscles engaged

» Legs locked

» Toes pointed

For more advice on how to do this, see www.roger.coach.





HOLLOW BODY


The Hollow Body is an exercise taken straight from gymnastics. Not only will this exercise teach you how to hold your body in a straight line, it will also highlight what areas of your body you need to work on: whether you have tight shoulders or tight hips, or need to boost your core strength, spine flexibility or even leg flexibility, this exercise will reveal all.

There are a number of things going on during this exercise, but if you follow the steps slowly and patiently, in addition to being able to perform the Hollow Body, you’ll fully understand what your body is doing and what it can achieve.

You’ll learn how to simultaneously keep your: stomach sucked in, arms locked, shoulders externally rotated (open), ribs pulled in and butt engaged.


BENEFITS

» Decrease in lower back pain

» Core strength

» Rib cage mobility

» Shoulder flexibility

» Hip flexibility

» Better awareness of your body

» Sets the foundation for the body-line to achieve the Headstand


HOW TO MOVE

Choose 5 exercises from this book for your 10-minutes-a-day training. Identify the exercise in this section that you need to improve and repeat until you are able to progress to the next exercise. One exercise comprises both a 1-minute slow movement and a 1-minute static hold.





The objective of Exercise 1 is to get you used to having your spine in contact with a surface. It’s a good warm-up exercise, too.

The most important point is to ensure you feel your lower back connect with the floor. As you make your way through the 10 exercises in this chapter, you’ll find it increasingly challenging to make that brain-to-body connection. Take time to master now how your lower back connects with the floor, and you’ll be less likely to lose the ability to notice it once you’re incorporating more complicated moves.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Sit down on a mat or soft surface with enough space behind you to roll backwards. Tuck your knees into your stomach and use your hands to hold them there; keep your feet flat on the floor. Then, raise your feet and begin to roll backwards, connecting every part of your spine with the floor as you do so, right to the top. Immediately, roll forwards again until your feet touch the floor. Roll backwards and forwards like this for 1 minute.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Lie down on a mat or soft surface and bring your knees to your chest, curling yourself into a ball. Your hips, head and shoulders will be off the ground, and your chin will be tucked into your chest. Hold. As you hold, notice your lower back press into the floor.





For Exercise 2, you’re going to work on controlling your stomach muscles, which can be trained in two ways:

1. Squeezing the abdominals (external)

2. Sucking in the stomach (internal)

To master the Hollow Body, it’s vital from the off that you spend some time understanding the difference between external and internal when it comes to your stomach. For the Hollow Body, the focus is sucking in (internal).

When you crunch (left photo) the distance between the base of your ribs and your belly button will reduce. Your upper back raises higher off the floor and your lower back presses down into the floor. This is squeezing the abdominals (external).

When you suck in and lengthen, lowering your upper back towards the floor (right photo), you increase the distance between the base of your ribs and your belly button. Your lower back stays in contact with the floor and your shoulders raise just off the floor. This is sucking the stomach in (internal).

In both movements, it is essential that your lower back remains in contact with the floor.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Lie on your back on the floor, knees bent, feet off the floor, arms by your sides. Slowly squeeze your abdominals to raise your upper back and shoulders, while keeping your knees tucked in. Lift your arms, too (left photo). When you’ve reached the top of the movement, suck in your stomach and lower your spine to the floor, keeping your feet raised. Move slowly back and forth between crunching the abdominals (external) and sucking the stomach in (internal).





1-MINUTE HOLD


Begin in the movement starting position and raise your body so that you are in the sucking-in (internal) position. Your belly button sucks in and your head and shoulders remain off the floor. Keep your knees tucked into your stomach with your feet off the ground. Your lower back should remain in contact with the floor.





For Exercise 3, the only change from the previous exercise is that your knees move away from your abdominals and your feet are lowered closer to the floor. You’re training yourself to be able to hold the weight of your legs with your stomach muscles. Support your head with your hands (don’t push).





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Lie on your back on a mat or soft surface with your knees bent and tucking in towards your chest. Place your hands behind your head. Raise your feet to hover above the floor and raise your head, neck and shoulders. Move between a tuck (squeezing the abdominals) and an advanced-tuck (bringing your hands behind your head and lowering your toes closer to the floor) position, keeping your feet off the floor and your lower back in contact with the floor throughout.

REMEMBER: Internal means you are sucking your belly button down to the floor; external means you are squeezing your abdominals.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Position yourself in the starting position for the movement and adopt the internal position: belly button sucked in, head and shoulders off the floor, feet hovering off the floor, lower back in contact with the floor at all times. Hold.





In Exercise 4, you’re going to practise moving your ribs. Grab a mat and a block (or this book) and lie on the ground in your tucked Hollow Body position.

First, I want you to test your spine and shoulder mobility by seeing if you can touch the floor behind you with a block. Initially, it doesn’t matter if you don’t touch the floor, but eventually you need to be able to get the block to the floor without raising your rib cage from the mat – if your rib cage raises, you’ve gone too far.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Lying in the tucked Hollow Tuck position, take a block (or book) as high overhead as possible towards the floor behind you. Your lower back should not leave the floor. Move your arms forward and back for the full minute.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Starting in the tucked Hollow Tuck position, pull your ribs closed and suck in your stomach. Bring your arms overhead, with your ribs sucked in, as far as you can go. Hold.





For years I attended yoga classes and I wish that somebody had pulled me aside to show me how to do this strength exercise correctly. It wasn’t until I came across gymnastics that I could really excel at it.

At first glance you may look at the image and go, “I know this one.” Trust me. This is not Child’s Pose nor the shoulder stretch you’re thinking of, although it does look familiar. This is a tough exercise that needs strength and flexibility. There are two things you need to know:

» PULL is your stomach sucking in (internal, like in Exercise 1)

» PUSH is arms externally rotating (opening) and actively pushing away

IMPORTANT: Do not press your chest down to the floor and collapse into your shoulders – your back must remain flat. You will end up doing more harm than good.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Kneel on all fours on a mat. Extend your arms in front of you, resting on the outsides of your hands, thumbs pointing upwards – this encourages your shoulders to externally rotate (open). Actively push away with your fingertips (thumbs upwards) and pull in your stomach. Your chest will lower towards the floor. Don’t bend your arms; keep your elbows locked and let the push/pull do the work.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Beginning in the final movement position, look at your hands and hold, actively pushing away and sucking in your stomach. As you pull in your stomach, your butt should be directly above the knees. The images below right show what your shoulders should and shouldn’t be doing from another angle, in a seated position. In the top photo, the shoulders are rotating in (closing); in the bottom photo, they are rotating out (opening).





The Locked-leg Pyramid will improve your overhead range – you’ll need this in order to perform the Full Hollow Body. I recommend that you get confident with Exercise 5 before doing this exercise, as it’s exactly the same thing but with locked legs. If you’ve ever done yoga, this may look a little like a Downward Dog. It has similarities, but your attention should focus on your shoulders, rather than aiming to get your heels flat on the floor.

In order to practise this exercise properly and safely, you’ll need to:

» PUSH with your hands

» PULL with your stomach





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Begin on all fours, hands shoulder-width apart, fingers pointing forwards. Lift your knees from the ground and come up on your toes, raising your body into the air. From here, press the ground away while sucking in your stomach. This pushes your butt as high as it will go, lowers your heels and creates a straight line from wrists to butt. Lock your legs to create the pyramid shape. Do all this slowly over the full minute.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Hold your body in the Pyramid you created at the end of the movement, while pushing through the floor and sucking in your stomach. This will flatten your spine and externally rotate your shoulders. Your legs should remain locked throughout.





In Exercise 7, you’re going to take a look at what your legs are doing when they go straight. Pointing your toes will really help you to squeeze your butt, which is essential in the exercise. Continuing to focus on sucking in your stomach will no longer help you in this exercise – we’ve got to get the butt involved for you to successfully achieve this progression.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Lie down in the Hollow Tuck, suck in your stomach and slightly raise your shoulders from the floor. Place your hands behind your neck (support, don’t push). Extend one leg, point your toes and squeeze your butt, while at the same time lock your leg. Your extended foot stays slightly off the ground – you should be actively pressing it away from you.

NOTE: It’s your tucked leg’s job to help keep your stomach sucked in.

Now, bring your extended leg back into the tuck position, while at the same time extending the other leg, toes pointed, hovering above the ground. When that leg is fully extended, slowly bring it back, extending the other leg again. Keep moving each leg slowly alternating legs.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Hold your body in the one-legged position for 30 seconds, then change legs (or spend longer on the side where you feel weaker, if you prefer). Focus on the following:

» Stomach sucked in

» Butt muscles squeezed

» Knees locked

» Toes pointed

» Extended leg locked out

PROGRESSION: Once you are comfortable keeping this hold for 30 seconds on each side, aim for 1 minute on each side instead.





The Hollow Wall is designed to test your core strength and leg flexibility at the same time, because each one affects the other.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Start in a Hollow Tuck with your butt as close to the wall as possible, hands supporting your head. Your aim is to move from a tuck position into a locked-leg position by extending your legs. Your feet must not touch the wall and your spine must always remain in contact with the ground. Use the full minute.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Suck in your stomach as much as you can to pull your legs away from the wall. Your spine should remain in contact with the floor and your legs should remain locked and straight. Hold.

TIP: If it seems impossible to keep your feet from dropping against the wall, scooch backwards a little, until you can hold the position comfortably for 1 minute with your back on the floor throughout.

PROGRESSION: When you’re ready, move closer to the wall so that your legs rest on the wall in the start position. Then, move them away from the wall and hold for 1 minute.





In Exercise 9, you’re going to take a look again at the role of the legs in achieving the Hollow Body. Before you attempt this, make sure you’re comfortable with the Single-leg Hollow Body (Exercise 7).

IMPORTANT: The biggest mistake I see people make during this exercise is to let the rib cage open, which puts pressure on your lower back.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Begin with your legs pointing upwards and angled slightly towards your head (as if away from an imaginary wall). From this position, slowly, maintaining a flat back throughout, lower both your legs simultaneously to the floor, but without letting them touch the floor. Make sure your lower back is in contact with the floor at all times. Keep moving your legs up and down for the full minute. Don’t forget: it’s essential to squeeze your butt and suck in your stomach.

TIP: You’ll only be able to squeeze your butt once your legs are low to the ground – just make sure you do it at the bottom before bringing your legs back up.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Follow the instructions for the movement, lowering your legs towards the floor. Keep them slightly off the floor, toes pointed, and hold for as long as you can, but ideally the whole minute. If you feel you’re losing your position and your lower back is arching from the ground, regress to single legs or even tucking the knees in. Focus on keeping:

» Stomach sucked in

» Butt squeezed

» Legs locked

» Toes pointed

» Lower back on the ground

TIP: Place your hands behind your neck to help alleviate any neck tension while you move.





Exercise 10 will test your shoulder mobility together with your core strength to create the Full Hollow Body. Pulling in your belly button to keep your lower back on the ground will test the core, and taking your arms overhead will determine your shoulder mobility. The aim is to get your arms down to the floor behind you, while your legs are lifted and your back remains in contact with the floor. (As you can see, I was a little restricted in this movement when the photo was taken!)

You may want to start by trying this exercise in a tuck and single-leg position before moving to the Full Hollow. Your priority is to protect your lower back.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Lie down in the final position for Exercise 4, but with your arms by your sides. Take your arms as far overhead as you can so that your shoulders externally rotate. Don’t just open your shoulders, but actively press your hands away from you. Holding a block can help. As you press back, your arms will lock and your elbow pits (the insides of your elbows) will face each other. Straighten your legs as you did in the final position for Exercise 9 (opposite). Move your knees from tucked to straight with arms reaching overhead, keeping your stomach sucked in and your feet off the ground. Repeat.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Lie down in the fully extended position you achieved in the movement, with your legs hovering above the floor and your arms fully extended and locked behind you – this is the Full Hollow Body. Hold the position for the full minute.



LIFE HACK

OFFICE STRETCH

Take advantage of this life hack while sitting on your office chair. Put your arms behind you and clasp your hands together around the back of your chair. Make sure your:

» Shoulders are stretched back

» Arms are locked

» Belly button is sucked in

This will help to keep your ribs down, just as they are in the Hollow Body. When you first stretch your shoulders back, your rib cage opens. Sucking in your belly button will add more tension to the stretch.

For more advice on how to do this, see www.roger.coach.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


I remember first being introduced to the Hollow Body several years ago. I was surprised how challenging I found it to keep my lower back on the floor, sucking my stomach in, even in a tuck position.

Before I started training using my own bodyweight for resistance, like most young guys I went to the gym and lifted weights, doing the usual bench-press and biceps-curl exercises that you would expect. I believed this had made me quite strong. However, the Hollow Body revealed what I had actually achieved: I’d become extremely tight and compromised on the natural movement I was born with.

Although my gym background was not a complete waste of time, getting my movement back meant that I needed to spend a lot of time undoing all the physiological changes I’d been through as a result of weight-training and not moving properly.

Like you, I was born with a full range of motion. Knowing that keeps me on track to spend the rest of my life getting that entire range of motion back. People ask me about “becoming” flexible. I simply reply: “You were born flexible; you have just got to invest some time into getting your flexibility back.”

I’d never experienced what it was like to suck in my stomach. Sure, I’d done crunches, Planks, even played around with an ab wheel and yoga ball, but I was always bracing my stomach (squeezing my abdominals), not sucking them in the way I talk about doing so for exercise, from the rib cage. Sucking in the stomach is one of the key components for training your body to be super-strong from the inside out.





FROG STAND


The Frog Stand requires skill. It’s important to know right from the off, though, that like the Headstand, the Frog Stand is not a balance exercise. It’s an exercise that requires you to fail regularly until you are able to do it. When I say fail, I mean fail to understand how it works – but, after some solid practice and correcting yourself as you go, you will have a “Eureka!” moment and everything will click into place.

The Frog Stand is about building your house on a solid foundation. Simply trying to balance over and over again will not only cause you to potentially injure yourself, but you’ll lack the ability to progress any further (which you’ll want to do if you want to get to achieve a Headstand or the move on the cover of this book, see Take Off). It’s a case of taking your time; building up, progression by progression and piece by piece. You’ve spent most of your life on your feet, so – be patient: it may take a while to get used to having the weight on your hands.

I love this exercise because as well as requiring me to be fully conscious, it also helps me to regain some confidence in my ability to move out of my comfort zone. Plus it has the physical benefits of making me stronger, and of training new neural pathways in my body.

How often do you stand there and wonder, “How am I able to stand?” You don’t. I promise you that it took you months of consistent, daily hard work to stand without thinking about it. Treat this exercise like your toddler self did when you wanted to be able to stand up. Practise, practise, practise and one day you’ll master it forever.


BENEFITS

» Improved wrist mobility

» Increased arm, back and shoulder strength

» Core strength

» Increased confidence

» Better awareness of your body


HOW TO MOVE

Choose 5 exercises from this book for your 10-minutes-a-day training. Identify the exercise in this section that you need to improve and repeat until you are able to progress to the next exercise. One exercise comprises both a 1-minute slow movement and a 1-minute static hold.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


An established neural pathway is the reason why right-handed people can’t initially write with their left hand and vice versa. People achieve ambidexterity by training themselves to write with their opposite hand. With a new movement or balance, you’re not necessarily training specific muscles you’re moving repetitively to rewire your brain and create new neural pathways in order to embed the movement in your ability and become a master at it. Just like standing.





Want to wake up tomorrow with neck ache? Nope, nor do I. So let’s get the hand positioning right. If your hands are not supporting you fully, then your head will do the work instead – and that means neck ache. If throughout any of these first exercises you experience neck pain, it’s a sign you’re not following the progressions in the right order.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Start by grabbing yourself a soft mat or two. Position the mats one on top of the other (if necessary), with the stacked short ends against a wall. Kneel up facing the wall. The first shape that you want to create is this: your head and neck are inverted right up against the wall; your hands are pressed into the floor either side of your knees; your elbows are bent into right angles and pulled in by your sides. The aim is to raise one knee at a time and place it on the equivalent elbow. Switch over, raising the other knee, and continue for the full minute.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Adopt the start position for the movement. Then, raise one knee and hold it on the equivalent elbow for 30 seconds. Lower it to the ground and repeat with the other knee and elbow. If you’re feeling a little more advanced, challenge yourself to do 1 minute on each side.

When you come out of the hold, ask yourself: do I feel tension in my neck or head? If the answer is yes, then you need to train your hands and arms to take more of the support. Your head, although a point of contact with the floor, is not a main support for your body.

IMPORTANT: Remember that the aim of this support exercise is to teach you hand positioning. The knuckle of your index finger presses into the floor, giving you enough power to support your knees on your elbows. In addition, make sure you keep your elbows pressed into your sides (see below, right photos).





In Exercise 2, you’re going to press your legs straight while keeping you arms, head and elbows in the same place: head against the wall, elbows raised and by your sides, forearms at right angles to the floor. It can help to tiptoe your feet forwards so that your upper back can rest on the wall. However, if this causes pressure on your head, walk your feet back a bit.

IMPORTANT: Your head should be right up against the wall – don’t bring it away from the wall, as this will cause you to roll on your neck.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Kneel facing the wall, invert your head and neck up against the wall, press your hands into the floor either side of your knees and bend your elbows. Slowly straighten your legs, pushing into the floor with your hands, raising your knees and keeping the tops of your toes on the ground. Keep your forearms at right angles to the floor. Raise and lower for the full minute. Don’t let your elbows fall out to the sides.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Adopt the starting position for the movement, then raise your knees and hold your body in the straight-leg position. If this is too much for you at first, bend your knees slightly. Your leg flexibility and core strength will have an impact on this exercise. Go through the following points while you are performing the hold:

» Head tight up against the wall

» Forearms at right angles to the ground

» Elbows pulled into the body

» Hands firmly pressed into the floor

» Belly button sucked in

» Upper back rested on the wall





In Exercise 3, you’re going to position one knee on top of one elbow from a straight-leg position. Some people experience pain in their wrists, which is the body compensating until your arms are strong enough to hold the position. Taking your hands slightly closer to the wall should help. The goal is not to push through pain, but to learn about your body through the sensations you feel.

Your starting positions are the same as in exercises 1 and 2: your head should be up against the wall, your wrists beside your knees and your hands pressed firmly into the floor.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


From the starting position, raise your knees so that your legs are straight. Bend one knee and place it on the equivalent elbow, then lower it back into the straight position. Repeat using the other leg. Keep alternating legs for the full minute.

REMEMBER: Press firmly through your hands to keep the pressure off your head. Your arms should feel some fatigue after this exercise.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Adopt the starting position for the movement, with the legs straight. In turn, hold each knee for 30 seconds on the equivalent elbow. For more advanced progression, try holding for 1 minute on each side.





In Exercise 4, you’re going to come away from the wall and attempt a position that directly relates to the Frog Stand, helping to build the strength in your arms and teaching you the recognise the position of your forearms.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Kneel on a mat, then put your hands on the floor, shoulders directly above your wrists. Bend your elbows, leaning forwards with your upper body so that it lowers towards the floor. Stop when your forearms and upper arms form a right angle at your elbow. Your nose and chest should be off the floor. Keep your elbows pulled in – this is crucial for a solid base. Move slowly up and down between straight and bent arms. Your knees remain on the floor throughout.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Starting on all fours with your arms straight, lean forwards and lower down into the bent-arm position, so that your upper arms and forearms form a right angle. Hold. Your elbows should be pulled in and your forearms directly over your wrists.





FOOD FOR THOUGHT


I used to do push-ups when I was younger. Then, I learned that my very bad habits made it impossible to transfer to a correct Frog Stand. It took me longer to relearn an elbows-in push-up than if I’d never done push-ups in the first place. Training with impeccable technique and getting the basics in place not only prevents injury, but ensures quick progress. In this book, each exercise leads on to the next one, building up your progress to the ultimate exercise in the sequence. In the Frog Stand, understanding the lean is fundamental to success. And bonus! It will also help you with Headstand and the L-Sits. As my uncle used to say, “Stuff leads to stuff.”





For Exercise 5, you’re going to repeat Exercise 4, only this time you’re going to tuck in your pelvis fully.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Start on all fours on a mat, pelvis tucked in, butt squeezed. Bend your arms at the elbows and lean forwards, keeping your pelvis tucked, lowering towards the floor, just as you did in Exercise 4. Pause for a few seconds in the bent-arm position, holding the right angle at your elbow. Your elbows should be pulled in close to your body and your forearms directly over your wrists. Move slowly up and down between bent arm and straight arm, keeping your pelvis tucked.

REMEMBER: Keeping your elbows pulled in and leaning forwards with your body is crucial for creating a solid base for the Frog Stand.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Start on your knees in a tucked-pelvis and straight-arm position, then lean forwards and lower down into the bent-arm position so that each arm creates a right angle at the elbow. Hold.





In Exercise 6, you’re going to lower into a position that directly matches the Frog Stand, but this time you’re going to start in a regular Plank but with an untucked pelvis. These positions form what are essentially Front Support push-ups.





1-MINUTE MOVEMENT


Starting in a Plank position with an untucked pelvis, lower yourself to the floor and pause with your arms bent, creating a right angle at the elbow. Move slowly up and down, leaning forwards as you lower. Only your toes and hands are in contact with the floor.





1-MINUTE HOLD


Begin in the start position for the movement and lower yourself to the floor, until your arms fo