Mobility and Tissue Issues

As we finish up this interview series, Alwyn gives us a low-level  stressors exercise that should be added to your daily training.

However, before you read on jump back to part 3, where we took a look at boxing from a business point of view with fitness expert Alwyn Cosgrove.


Alwyn Cosgrove I’ve told this story before. When I got out of the hospital my dad came over to visit me.  And every day I was doing as many pushups as I could as part of my sort of comeback workout.  And I think I was out of the hospital and I could do five or six.  And my dad did ten clapping his hands, complete plyo machine.

But a year later I was over visiting him.  And I said, “All right, let’s have a rematch.”  It was a year or a year-and-a-half later.  And he couldn’t get in position, Craig, to do one pushup.

The only thing that happened in that time, because there’s no way he went from ten plyometric pushups unable to hold a position for one in 18 months without severe injury.  And he never had one.  What happened is he retired from work and he just stopped moving really.  He had a physical job, and he stopped moving.

So I have a theory that training has to change partly with age, but partly it’s just your lifestyle and other factors.  When I was training in college, if I was too beat up and sore I just wouldn’t go to class the next day.

You don’t have that option as an adult.  If you’re a 45-year-old guy with two kids you don’t have the option of training so hard that you can’t walk the next day and you just take a couple of days off of work.

So a lot of this stuff is other factors.  You have other stresses in your body.  I don’t know who said it, [Punneman] I think, is a guy that stretches like water running into a sink.  And every stressor is a different tap, a different faucet.  And once it overflows you’re going to break down.

So it’s short-sighted of us to just look at training volume as the only stressor we can control.  If somebody’s going through a divorce or a family member is sick, they’re going to lose their house, lost their job, that person might be 22 but the body is going to respond like it’s a little older.

So it’s kind of a roundabout way of saying I think age is a factor in training volume and wear and tear, but the wear and tear on a 22-year-old UFC fighter is probably going to be more than a 42-year-old accountant that stayed relatively healthy.  I think there’s a use thing, not just an age thing.

Craig Ballantyne: Very cool.  That’s a good place to end our call today.  And we’ll come back in a couple of months and chat a little bit more about that after we’ve both had some time to think about that.  Our clients as well.

Alwyn Cosgrove: We have a client just in the local newspaper.  He’s 50 years old and he’s a police officer and he’s in great shape.  He said he’s in the best shape of his life, but he didn’t arrive at our gym in horrible condition.  He’d been active his whole life.  So he responds well to training and he recovers well.

There are other people that we’re constantly monitoring and you’ve got to cut sets.  And even at a certain point, if you can squat 200 pounds, or anything over 100 pounds, even in a warm-up, is training load.  So with some people you have to be careful how many warm-ups that you do, because that’s all load.  So listen to this call and start thinking about it.  Sometimes pulling back with some clients gets them better results.

Craig Ballantyne:  Right, yeah.  Good point.  And then putting in more of the mobility and foam rolling stuff.

Alwyn Cosgrove: Yeah.  You don’t have to just sit.  When I say rest, you can do mobility and stretch and activation work that’s very low level stressors in between sets and stuff.

Craig Ballantyne: Yeah.  And where would you rank putting mobility and foam rolling into somebody’s program on a scale of 1 to 10?  Would you say it’s 10, or an 8?

Alwyn Cosgrove: It’s hard because everything’s important.  If you didn’t have time to do mobility and foam rolling, I would pull something else.  So it might be the most important.  I don’t want to say it’s more important than strength for a power lifter or more important than cardio for an endurance athlete.

This is like I’ve got to take care of the tissue before I ask the tissue to perform better.  So if you said, “Hey, I’m running late today.  I’ve got to get out of here in 25 minutes.  What do we do?”  And I’m like, “Right, we’ll do foam rolling, mobility and core, and we’ll get the strength and conditioning stuff done another time.”  So I never cut back.

So I guess the answer to that is then it’s got to be the number one priority.  It’s got to be a 10.  What happens is it’s one of these things where people who don’t need it enjoy it.

Like I said, when I was doing static stretching when I was doing taekwondo, I would find it very relaxing to hold a stretch for a long period of time.  Other people are grimacing in pain.  And that’s the problem is that when you’re really tight and sore the foam roller hurts.  That’s the time you need it.

But it’s hard to get somebody to do something that uncomfortable.  My dad’s almost 69 now.  If I could get him to do one thing it would be foam rolling and mobility.  Quality of life is based on, I think, with the real aging population on tissue quality, range of motion and the value to produce power.

I think our focus on cardiac health is obviously important and our focus on muscle is important.  But I think we missed the boat.  I think the muscle declines because we’re not using it.  and you start doing that because you’ll hear – I’ll watch an old person reach for something.  And everybody looking at this old man, a picture if they reach for something or bend to tie their shoes with an involuntary groan.  Like, “Ahhhh,” like it’s a max effort thing.  That’s the first thing to go.

Obviously when you look at it, not to be morbid, but the last thing to go is obviously the heart.  But people lose their quality of life and their ability to move around and get in and out of cars, up and down stairs because of mobility and tissue issues way before they lose cardiovascular health.

Craig Ballantyne: That’s what I believe too.  I do 20 to 25 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes, before every workout, mobility and foam rolling.

And my shoulders haven’t been better in years.  And I’m just able to beat myself down in training and still allow myself to do that because of the foam rolling and the band pulls and the stretches that I do before training.

And it’s just like any other part of training.  It was not the most fun thing in the world to get started with, but it’s important.

Alwyn Cosgrove: It starts to feel good as you loosen up.  What we do is we do 50 minutes in the beginning.  And then between every – like if we do a split squat and dumbbell row, then instead of saying 90 seconds rest it may be 15 seconds rest and a head flexor stretch each side for 30 seconds.  So we put an end between the work sets too, just to increase the volume of it.

Our challenge has always been we need to get these people in shape and let them enjoy this workout and as much of this as possible.  There is a part of foam rolling and stretching that’s kind of relaxing and then I want people to get fired up and do something.  So we fit it in between work sets to get in some extra volume.

Craig Ballantyne: Yeah, that’s exactly it man.  And that kind of is a sneaky way of getting it in so that people don’t think, “Oh, I’ve got to go and do this warm-up before I actually get into my training.”  So throwing it in there as well is almost a third exercise in a tri set.

Alwyn Cosgrove: Right.  And that’s a separate way.  And the other way is to make the warm-up a little more – I think when people are – our clients know it’s a warm-up.  But I think if you saw me do this in the park, if I was doing a boot camp where I was doing a bodyweight class, you wouldn’t know where it ended and where the next part of the workout began.  Because you can make a warm-up fun.

I’ve always felt like there are some people who feel like it’s this drudgery you have to get over with before they really start training.  That’s our coaching issue.  You’ve got to program your clients to understand that this is part of the training.  This is maybe the most important part.

Craig Ballantyne: Yeah, exactly.  Hopefully some people on the call will take their warm-up seriously and get that foam roller and add it to their system, because in terms of the long view it’s really, really, really going to make a difference.

Alwyn Cosgrove:  It’s the poor man’s massage therapist.  If we could get a massage every day you’d love it.  This is the way we can do it without having to pay for a massage therapist every day.

Craig Ballantyne: Yeah, exactly.  Well sir, we’re out of time here.  That was a really good call.  It’s always good to talk to you again.  And I really appreciate everything you shared there.

Alwyn Cosgrove:  Sure, man.

Craig Ballantyne: All right.  Thanks again.  What’s your blog again, for people to check out?

Alwyn Cosgrove: It’s just my name,

Craig Ballantyne: It’s just my name that you can’t

Alwyn Cosgrove: It’s just my name that you can’t spell.  As I’ve said on a call with you before, if I can make money on the Internet with a name spelled like that, anybody can make money on the Internet.  Right?

Craig Ballantyne:  That’s exactly it, man.  That’s exactly it.  All right, sir.  Thank you very much, and thank you to everybody being on the call.

This is just another little chit chat we’re having about training and all the good stuff that my friend Alwyn Cosgrove knows about.

So check out his website and we’ll talk to you soon.  Bye-bye everyone.

Alwyn Cosgrove: All right.  Cheers, man.