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Corretive Exercise or Strength Work - What is the Set Up?

How do I correct my problems but still get stronger? You write about correcting issues and movements, and then you write about strength training programs (like the undulating periodization) and I am wondering how I do both? If I work on correcting my problems, I feel like my program is more like physical therapy or rehab; but, if I work on my strength and muscle size, then I feel like I am not fixing my movement problems and then I end up getting the usual aches, pains, tightness and poor movement patterns that gym lifters tend to get. Where is the middle ground? How do I set it up?


Hey Jon thanks for the question. I am sure there are a number of people in the same boat as you are and they have the exact same questions.

Due to my interests in training and soft tissue/manual therapies I have a love for both sides of the strength and conditioning coin; the world of enhanced performance (strength, speed, size, etc) and the world of corrective exercise/soft tissue treatments (trying to enhance movement, fix postural distortions, enhance tissue quality, etc.).

For most people, it can be overwhelming when thinking about what to do in the gym. You have to worry about your issues (posture, aches, pains, past injuries, asymmetries) and you have to worry about your goals (get stronger, get bigger, get faster, get more powerful, lose body fat, etc.) that it can difficult to know where to start in the whole process.

When establishing a program, I always use my assessment to determine where the greatest limitations are in the client. I try and look for the elephant in the room, as sometimes correcting the big problems will correct the smaller more annoying problems. Remember, a symptom is nothing more than your body telling you that there is something wrong; but it isn’t telling you exactly WHAT is wrong. That is your job to figure out! After the “elephant” has been determined, the program can be mapped out. For the corrective stuff, I like to use a lot of it in the warm up for two reasons:

A) We are not fatigued in the warm up, so we can properly focus and develop strength and movement in these muscles

B)Warming these muscles up with some exercise/movement gets them primed for some of the things to come.

The other time that the corrective work comes into play is occasionally as a super set to help re-enforce the new movement pattern or we may do some corrective stuff on off days to again, try and re-enforce the movement and make it more automatic.

One way you can set up your program, is (assuming you have determined your limiting factors):

Soft tissue work (foam roll, tennis ball, the stick, etc)
Warm up (warm up the entire body, but make sure you save time to focus specifically on your movement impairments)
Strength Training
Conditioning (if that is in your program for the day)
Stretching and/or foam rolling – to finish up

The strength work can be things that you normally may do; such as split squats, squats, bench pressing, push ups, rowing, etc. The only distinction I would make would be some of these movements may be contraindicated until you have corrected some of the issues you are having with your overall movement (this would have to be determined by your assessment to see exactly what you can and can not do). The strength work can also sometimes enhance the corrective work that you are doing (IE, Is your glute medius stronger from doing isolated glute medius work or is it stronger from performing squatting movements?).

The main thing to remember with all of this is that the lifting isn’t so much the problem as it is more a function of WHAT you are doing and HOW you are doing it.

With this program you now have the best of both worlds; some corrective work and some strength work. The more proactive you are about the corrective work, the quicker things will get better, allowing you to progress to more difficult tasks and make improvements in your strength training.

The only other thing I would add is that; while foam rolling/tennis ball rolling and the stick are all nice “self-care” modalities for soft tissue work, there is absolutely no substitute for a good - hands on - soft tissue therapist. If you can find someone in your area, and see them once a month, at the least (two times a month is better and once a week is optimal), you will really reap the benefits of your overall program.

- Patrick

Thanks a lot Patrick! You have answered a few of my questions too!! I also have a hamstring problem and my whole workouts routine goes for a toss as I spend a lot of time doing corrective exercises. But then corrective exercises are also important. I understand that. I like your idea of doing the corrective stuff during warm up session. The way you have set the workout program is also quite interesting. I think I’ll adopt it. You have been a great help. Thanks a ton mate! Let us discuss more about this stuff on http://www.liveleanblog.com/

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