About Featured Expert: Scott B. Sonnon is COO for RMAX International and International Director of the TACFIT® Academy. He is an adjunct instructor for the US Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) and has acted as an SME for many agencies including: Israeli LOTAR Counter-Terror Academy, NYPD Academy, 3/160th SOAR, U.S. Marshals Academy, U.S. DHS Office of State and Local Law Enforcement, the US CBP Use of Force Center and several U.S. Military SOF Units. He provides his consulting to the U.S. Veterans Hospitals as a service.
The following is a condensed version of the full audio interview, which can be found in the above link at Science of Skill’s SoundCloud station.
Coach Dan: When someone’s getting started with a bodyweight regimen, where do you normally have them jump off? You’ve trained a lot of folks I imagine from scratch or people have come to you from scratch. Where do they begin with no equipment and getting in shape?
Scott Sonnon: Our positions that we adopt, the loads that we have to carry and look at that adaptation that’s happened to our body from that. Any type of little aches and pains, tweaks throughout your body are its adaptation to the repeated patterns that you have at work and at home.
Your exercise program, your point of departure has to begin by restoring mobility to where those compensations have happened. If you don’t first move those and start to restore some function, then actually any exercise that you do is strengthening dysfunction probably greater than any physical benefit that you get from the exercise. You’re starting less than 0, we have to go and start with a mobility routine in order to regain some type of anti-gravitation so that we don’t become further screwed by the lifting that we perform.
CD: I imagine this would involve some semblance of physical therapy or somebody that knew what they were talking about to say, “Here might be where your biggest issues are. Where’s your pain? Can you move this this way? Can you move this that way?” How does someone assess those factors?
SS: That’s become a little boutique culture in fitness where we view ourselves as so unknowledgeable and our exercise so inaccessible that we need some type of guru or expert or therapist in order to put us back into our original function before we can begin. The industry feeds off of that. They’ve monetized our inability to exercise. What we have to do is be almost defiantly pugnacious about that BS.
…You need to do an anti-life workout. If you are a desk jockey, when you get home the exercises that you need to do for instance would be, one of the benefits would be a Hindu push up where you’re going to full hip extension. Don’t think of your push up as something where you have to keep the body as a plank. Actually allow yourself some back extension so that you can get the hips to drop and do the opposite motion.
CD: …This whole chair shape fitness requires a rounding out of those other aspects of our musculature, those elements of movement that we just don’t do all the time.
SS: That’s from an isolation standpoint as you say. The muscles need to be in a balanced state. There’s an antagonist and an agonist that all work but the notion of isolation is one of the things that killed our industry. We’re not able to exercise because we look with too great a granularity. We need to look at movement not muscles, but with my general movement and my general position, I’m going to do the opposite in my workout until my body has regained its natural symmetry.
CD: What are a few kind of basic places to start that people might Google or even see you do on the web somewhere or something? Those fundamental movements that free up the chair shaped folks in the world.
SS: If they go to YouTube and search for TACFIT, T-A-C-F-I-T, we have gyms in 33 countries and they’re constantly putting up examples of movement progressions. My educational background was in component learning so we had to start from the most simple move to the complex, the most general move to specific and the most gross move to find. We all have to keep coming back. There’s no mastery of exercise. We all have to keep coming back to our white belt exercises in order to restore and strengthen their stability. If they do a search, they’re going to find all the fundamentals.
…The reason that bodyweight training is so difficult and much more difficult than weightlifting is because when you weight lift unless you’ve already done your bodyweight first you should never load an exercise you can’t do with perfect form unloaded. If you only train the external or superficial muscles, then what happens to the intrinsic or internal musculature that holds your spine and holds your joints is that they become high tension wires that eventually snap or cause postural changes.
CD: You’re not in the first 2 months necessarily having gargantuan pecs or anything like you said. You can prepare when you’re really focusing on the stability in the deeper musculature and those gross movements to feel sore and not necessarily look entirely different.
SS: No, at a faster rate than we believe because the development of muscle and the burning of fat is a hormonal event. If the body is in a state of stress from postural deformation you do not build muscle. You do not burn fat. The body is in an alarmed state so all of the catecholamines, all of the launch of stress from a cascade of adrenal dump that your body is constantly dripping into your bloodstream from these postural distortions will cause you to not build muscle at night no matter how hard your workout is.
You’ll get a belly and why are you going to get a belly? Cortisol is released from the stress and there are 10 times the amount of cortisol receptors in your deep visceral fat than anywhere else in your body. You can have a really fit and strong guy and he can’t get inside size 40 pants.
…Your diet changes from 1, restoring your mobility. The difficult part is we don’t have much time. What we need to do is we need to create time. How do we create time? You remove the burden from the nervous system of baseline white noise pain. We do that through this 14 minute routine of mobility. Once we’ve performed that for 2 to 3 weeks, we remove the pain and suddenly we’re able to do more with the same amount of energy if not more energy. We create time by removing pain.
CD: I always encourage people to take action, give programs a shot. Where else can people find what you do online?
SS: If they go to tacfitacademy.com, that’s where all the daily updates are and there are constantly new videos and workouts released. Don’t follow it in order to find a new collection of random workouts.Go there to try and look at it as a mirror. How can I get a better view of what’s going on in my own body?
Image credit: Reader’s Digest
Coach Daniel is the founder and head publisher at Science of Skill, LLC. A martial arts black belt and self defense instructor, Dan has spent years training with and interviewing some of the world's best self protection experts. His passion lies in encouraging others to train smart and to improve the skills that make them safer and stronger.
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