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Foundation Training: A Key Workout for MX

by Luke Duncan


I had the pleasure of meeting and training for the day with Peter Park last spring when I was on a trip to California. If you don't know, not only has Peter worked as Lance Armstrong's strength coach for many years, he also works with Chad Reed in motocross. Peter and his colleague, Dr. Eric Goodman have put together a video called, Foundation Training that I believe was very instrumental in all but eliminating a chronic back problem I have had for years. Last April, shortly after returning from California, I herniated and displaced my L5 vertibra. Long story short after literally crawling on my hands and knees for 6-weeks followed by a full 4-months of inactivity, I was finally able to resume "semi" normal activity. But I still had pain and the physical therapists I was seeing were doing nothing beyond what I already knew; basic core strengthening and flexibility. Peter suggested I try some of the workouts in his Foundation Training CD and I am happy to say that after a month and half of doing the exercises, I am convinced my chronic back problem may just be a thing of the past. Even if it is not, I credit the things I have learned from Peter and the CD with much of my success. And the best part is that you do NOT have to have chronic back pain to benefit. If you ride motocross, Foundation Training may be the key to unlocking your full potential on the bike. Chad Reed certainly is digging it!

"Lil #foundation workout now off to see what the hypes all about.." - Chad Reed via Twitter. The hype Chad is referring to I assume was Lake Elsinore. - Virtual Trainer

An organization I came across earlier this year is Foundation Training, lead by Dr. Eric Goodman and Peter Park, former strength coach to Lance Armstrong. My first exposure to the group was a testimonial video on YouTube from Derek Fisher.

Derek is one of my favorite NBA players, so I decided to take a closer look at Foundation Training. I was impressed and intrigued by the emphasis placed on proper hinging; while I’d been exposed to this before from other sources, the specific attention given to hinging properly was something I hadn’t seen. A few weeks ago, I ordered a batch of books to update my library, and I made sure to include the Foundation book as part of that.

As a motocross rider, the importance of proper hinging is second to none. It can be the deciding factor between whether you ride efficiently or become fatigued.

Having just finished reading it, I have to give it a very high recommendation. The basis of the text is to help you move better, something that is so often overlooked in the fitness community. Most of the people who get to a gym just want to move handles on a machine with little-to-no regard for the way in which they’re doing it. As a result, they end up with little to show for their efforts other than maybe some injuries and chronic pain. The conclusion then becomes that they gave the active lifestyle a try and, “it didn’t work them,” so they revert back to sedentary living.

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Foundation steps in to say before you do something, make sure you can do it properly. As far as the authors are concerned, the biggest hiccup getting in the way of people executing proper movement is the inability to use one’s hips. Their root exercise (the Founder) is designed to remedy this scenario, as it teaches people to pivot as opposed to bending. Moving this way keeps you structurally sound; while the degree of hinging and back extension varies depending on the activity, it gives your body the most beneficial leverage for power output regardless of your application (weight lifting, running, cycling, etc.)

Though the book is written with a focus towards people dealing with chronic back pain, the principles it outlines are true for everybody, pained or not. As a motocross rider, the importance of proper hinging is second to none. It can be the deciding factor between whether you ride efficiently or become fatigued. It can also be the most powerful form of injury prevention, because it helps you control the bike better so your risk of crashing diminishes.

Chad Reed follows the program. He posted this on his Instagram account.

This has less to do with the specific requirements of riding a motorcycle in rough terrain (although that does play a part), so much as everybody who rides one is human, and the human body is designed to support loads in a certain way that is most beneficial to all of us; football players, wrestlers, Olympic weightlifters, martial artists, etc. all know how to maximize the use of their hips for maximal power, strength, and efficiency.

Foundation also covers life beyond their specific training program. They address the importance of proper rest, recovery, stress management, hydration, and nutrition. My only disagreement is with the inclusion of meat in their nutrition guidelines, although to their credit, they consider it to be a supplemental or ancillary part of one’s diet as opposed to a staple food (they also dissuade consumption of conventional, factory-farmed meats).

Overall, I consider this book an essential read for anyone who makes a living in the fitness industry or moves on a daily basis (meaning everybody). It’s well-written and concise, so you can easily digest the information in a day or two and start applying it right away. I did my first go at the basic Foundation routine this morning; I have to say that even for someone like me who has no pain issues and lifts weights on a regular basis, some of the exercises were quite challenging. I’ll be including Foundation work as a part of my training from now on, and I’m eager to see how my body responds in sport and life.

Until next time…Keep it strong, keep it vegan.

About the Author: Luke Duncan is the author of “Layman’s Strength," a blog site directed towards the aspirations of real world people and their concerns. A Certified Fitness Trainer with the I.S.S.A. and a Los Angeles County certified E.M.T. from 2008-2010, he is a health & fitness enthusiast with a passion for helping people realize their fitness & lifestyle goals in the most efficient, sustainable, & commonsense-way possible. He has ridden motorcycles since the age of 6 and currently produces motocross & other action-sports’ related content for D-Squared Images.

That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness. VT Signature

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  1. Gravatar
    Drew Whitehead September 13, 2012 at 8:54 am

    Awesome post! I am excited to get the book and apply this into my programming.

  2. Gravatar
    Joe Celso September 13, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Pretty cool...I'm digging the recent focus on proper positioning of the hip and back.

    I'm still a fan of WELL EXECUTED deadlifts...they don't need to be heavy, they need to be pretty.

  3. Gravatar
    Luke Duncan September 13, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I agree Joe. As far as I'm concerned, the only athletes who need to put raw numbers over technical execution are powerlifters & to a lesser extent, Olympic lifters. Everybody else is better off teaching their body how to be loaded properly through high-quality movement patterns.

  4. Gravatar
    Coach Seiji September 14, 2012 at 11:48 am

    Good stuff for sure. I like to say when doing lifts, exercise movements, etc. that there is a "one joint rule." This means, for example, if you are doing a dead lift as mentioned above or any variety of squat, that there should only be one functional joint around the proximal primary force developer Dead lift is hip extension, so for that movement to be correct, the only joint should be the hip and NOT several "joints" as when someone also flexes/extends their lumbar spine. I also like to say "its good to flex your spine as one complete unit" but terrible to flex your spine "in one or separate segments" (again as in lumbar flexion/extension in improper squat or dead lift.) Good "complete unit" spinal flexion/extension/rotation etc can be seen in the picture of the notebook computer in this post.

    Again, good stuff that I fully agree with and practice with my clients. Nice to see good stuff on here.

  5. Gravatar
    Coach Seiji September 14, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Would like to also add that in my experience, posterior chain development in cyclists and moto athletes is overlooked. Everyone wants to focus on what they see when they look in the mirror (quads, abs, chest, etc.) but the powerhouse on the motorcycle is the glute complex for sure. I would also point out that the hamstrings are a primary knee stabilizer. The above dead lift comment to me is right on you extend at the hips during dead lift and how you hinge at the hips with your spine "rigid" and under tension from core muscles (back and front) is how it should look on the dirt bike and bicycle I think from a mechanics standpoint. Again, stoked for good stuff to be on here. Really stoked. Good job you guys.

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