Progressive Movement for Maximal Results and Injury Avoidance with Tyler Bramlett

Progressive Movement for Maximal Results and Injury Avoidance

I am back from San Diego.

On my way back, I stopped off at the BCFit’13 conference and did a presentation in North Vancouver on Sunday.

I did a presentation on hands-free self-massage. The session went great.

Okay, for today, I have an interview for you. It is with good old Tyler Bramlett and we talk about the importance of progressive movement.

Enjoy the interview.

~ Rick Kaselj, MS


Today, I have another interview for you and it’s with Tyler Bramlett. He has been on EFI many times before but I have him on again and what we are going to talk about is the importance of progressive movement.

A lot of people are avoiding or not following progressive movement and that ends up leading to injury and pain and also slowing down one’s results. So Tyler, for those people that don’t know you I need you to do a brief introduction of who you are.

Who is Tyler Bramlett?

Tyler Bramlett: Just to give you a back story on the call. Rick and I, we are on the call for about 45 minutes ago and we are just starting now. He can see that I can talk. So how did I get into the dungeon some of you guys may have known me for the past interviews, I am Tyler Bramlett from

Basically, I am just a guy who was out of shape, sick, fat, tired, and overweight as a youngster. As I got older I wanted to change everything, I wanted to change it a lot. I went through a process of many mistakes over the course of a decade and a half. I’ve learned now what I feel is the correct way to approach your training not only for performance but for body transformation as well. I am just passionate to share that with all. It took so long to learn how to do the stuff, right?

Rick Kaselj: Oh, yeah.

Tyler Bramlett: I don’t want people to go through the loops that I did. You are ‘exercises for injuries’ and we have a lot of conversation about this because I had a lot of injuries in my days and I am making mistakes.

I think the biggest thing was just teaching people the way to go about this safely so that they can be fit and they can get out there and just live their lives for real. I am not here trying to teach people how to be cross-fit game champions of huge bodybuilders. I am teaching people how to be fit to play and that’s how I kind of work right now.

Rick Kaselj: Okay. So you have done a lot of training yourself, you’ve done a lot of training with people, and you’ve run boot camps.

This Mistake Leads to A Lot of Injuries…..

What was the thing that you saw in all those environments, that mistake that people are making that leads to injuries and pain?

Tyler Bramlett: The biggest mistake that I saw was the lack of progression. I’ve started picturing myself in this progressive mindset, this progressive movement thing and it is originally based around the progressive movement technology.

And if you guys don’t know what progressive movement is, basically what I am talking about is there are some foundational movements, I am sure we are going to this in the future but let’s just take the squat for example right now, you should really know how to squat with your body weight well before you add a dumbbell or a barbell or a dynamic movement like a jump or you start doing unilateral variations like lunges, right?

So if you just go straight to lunges and your squat sucks, then your lunges are going to suck as well. And if you go from lunges to one-legged squat, then your one-legged squat is going to suck. That’s where we see injuries, pain, dysfunctions, and so on and so forth.

This progressive movement model started with exercise and since I have been doing interviews like you Rick and I have talked to top experts on diet, mindset up, and stuff and now I just want to progress and I say holy crap people need a progression for their lifestyle, for their diet, for their mindset, for their exercise, and so that’s what I try to focus on through my articles, videos, and everything.

If I recall John Berardi that day, who’s one of the top nutrition experts in the world, his entire whole model is now based upon progression which is instead of giving you a diet that’s like you are going to go from the crappy diet that makes you fat, sick, and tired to this diet that is going to make you feel better.

For the first week I want you to drink more water and if you could do that for seven days then come back and we will tell you the next thing to do. Okay, you accomplished it for seven days, great. Now I want you to chew your food. Regardless of what it is you are eating you just have to chew more of it. You know what I mean.

It creates this progression model of nutrition and I mean like everything needs to be this way. If there’s anything that I want you to take from this call as we go through is that you need to approach your training, your nutrition, your lifestyle, each one of those components in a progressive model because that is when it is going to get you long term results and it’s going to get you to the safest way.

It is Important to Have These Foundational Movements…

Rick Kaselj: Okay. You talked about these foundational movements, now what would be some examples of foundational movements? You talked about squat, what would be the other ones?

Tyler Bramlett: Right, I just try to dissect the human body into what it is supposed to be able to do. If we look at the core principles of the human body, ultimately what you are supposed to be able to do is squat correctly which basically means you are bio-mechanically correct and your joints are in alignment and you are not experiencing pain.

Squatting, hip hinging, or lifting stuff off the ground like doing a deadlift, from there putting something overhead like a pressing motion, pulling something in a vertical plane, pushing something in a horizontal plane, and involves that scapular retraction which is really common in most people who are talking about muscle imbalances as well.

And then core stability which is just a phrase for people out there like it’s a penny into a wishing well. People say core stability and they do their workout that doesn’t have an element of core stability.

What we mean about core stability is the ability to keep your torso in a rigid position from your hips all the way to the top of your head and shoulders.

I think those are the foundational components and to give you an example on each one of these real quick just so you guys get so much value in this interview it’s squats, it’s deadlift or picking something up, it’s push up, it’s bodyweight rolls, it’s pull-ups, and it’s some sort of vertical press and some sort of core stability.

If you want to start with the foundation, my recommendation would be some sort of bridge like a shoulder bridge and some sort of plank-like elbow plank. And if you literally start with these components, those are what you need to master before taking any steps forward.

Rick, the number one thing that I see people do is taking the steps forward.

We talked about this when it relates to P90X, it’s a great idea and there’s a lot of motivation involved in there. Actually, it’s doing a lot of good for the world but one of the issues I see is when people look at the P90X program and they say “I am advanced.” That’s what I do, I start looking at myself and I say “I am advanced.” But as what we have talked about I have a lot of injuries and that’s how I got most of my injuries.

By building the foundational movement, by following those movement patterns we just talked about; the squat, the hip hinge, the push, the pull, the press, the vertical pull, and the core stability of the front, the back, and the sides of the body, that’s how you build your foundation.

If you can’t do those exercises perfectly, I am not talking about “oh he has an okay plank but he can’t squeeze his glutes let’s move on to the next variation,” you can’t hold a plank where your glutes are squeezed, your core is squeezed, your lats are engaged, your pecs are engaged, even your fingertips are engaged and your toes are engaged but you got no business moving on to the next variation. You’ve got no business doing things that require more core stability. Because if you do, you are setting yourself a pretty much disaster and that’s what I see people are doing over and over and over again.

They are doing too much, too fast, and not following a logical and intelligently designed progression and they are shooting themselves in the foot and they are not getting the results that they want.

Rick Kaselj: Awesome. Based on what you said if we all think about it we have exercises that we are good at and those are probably movements that we are really good at doing.

What to do with Poor Foundational Movements…

Now, what should people do when it comes to those movements that they are not good at?

For example, I know that I am pretty good at deadlifting and squatting I enjoy those, and I kind of gravitate to them, but I know with an overhead press I suck at it. I know I need to work on it.

What would you say to someone when it comes to looking at these movements that they are weak at?

Tyler Bramlett: Sure, okay so the biggest thing is obviously we just don’t want to nurse our strengths. If we nurse our strengths, we really get good at a few things and we never really get good at other things.

What I would like to do is, I’ve done this with my Bootcamp program, I’ve created a training cycle I do this with my private training programs, I do this with my online programs as well. I created a program that gives you a sense of muscle confusion, like a cross-fit and all these Bootcamp programs are doing consistently varied exercises which to me is fun but it’s not going to get you the best results possible because you are not exposed to a stimulus on a planted level.

You have to be exposed to it over and over again in order to get better at it. If you only do presses once every month or 3 weeks even, you are not going to get better at pressing.

What I would like to do is to create some sort of cycle that exposes people to all the movement patterns that we have just talked about over the course of anywhere between 2 to 3 weeks. And oftentimes it will be a variation of each one. The push-up might go from a regular kneeling push-up if you are a total beginner to maybe like a push slide where you kind of in a downward dog position to a push-up position and then back up.

So it might change in terms of these movements but it is still the same general motor pattern in that way we can have push-ups every single week and then every 2 to 3 weeks you go back down to that push-up again.

I like to set up a progression like this Rick, just so that people are exposed to a ton of variety. I am a fan of variety I think it’s fun for your workouts and it gives you better results in terms of being able to move in different capacities rather than just being nailed to one. The way I think about it is that powerlifters are really good at bench squatting and deadlifting but if you tell them to do a house sit it’s not going to happen, you know what I mean right? Like the hanging leg raise, that’s not going to happen.

I like to expose people to do a platter of movements but on a plan progression. Like for your example, you said you don’t press, you don’t like pressing as it’s kind of hard, well I am going to put you into something on the workout cycle that has included a good amount of exercises that you enjoy but definitely in the spurs of movement pattern that you avoid in that way you are forced to do them from time to time.

And personally what I do for myself is an exercise between planned days and cross-training days. So I go on a planned day where I am going to be working on those particular movements that I want to master then I will go on a cross-training day where it might be a 5-minute random workout or I might workout at the park, or might do some sprints, I might drag a sled, I might put-pull a tire, or I might just go on a 4-mile hike. I will just try to do those so I get enough variety and I get enough consistency at the same time in order to get better on those exercises that I wanted to be good at.

I am not sure if that 100% answers your question but if people are resisting doing an exercise because they are not good at it I think that you should program that into your routine consistently so that you can get exposed to it over and over again.

To me, it’s like the old saying “If you are not good at pressing, press more.” Somebody told me that, he is a slim-type hammer man and an all-time strong man. He said “If you want to be good at bending nails, you are not going to get better at it by doing grippers and doing farmer’s walk. If you want to get better at bending nails with your hands, bend nails with your hands.”

That’s it! If you want to get better at pressing, you got to press more. If you don’t like it, that’s probably a good sign that you should be doing it. One final thing that I thought about, this is Paul Anderson, if you guys know about him the Russians called him the “Wonder of Nature.” First, he got to squat a thousand pounds in the 1950s before steroids and this assistance equipment, this guy is really incredible. And Paul Anderson hated squats, he despised them with a passion, but he did them all the damn time because he said “I know they make me better.” Sometimes we need to look at things that we suck on and we say “I know they will make me better so I am going to do more.”

Rick Kaselj: What would be your approach let’s say you can see this with people let’s say when they are squatting and there’s like a breakdown on their technique? And their technique might be collapsing the knees or it might not be going far enough when it comes to depth like the hips passing the knees.

What ends up being your approach when addressing these faults or incorrect movements in those core movements?

Tyler Bramlett: Sure, that’s a loaded question. If you are a trainer out there you will know how loaded this question really is because ultimately all single movement patterns that are dysfunctional are going to have a different fix to fix the dysfunction.

But ultimately the way I break down movement dysfunction is into two categories: Ultimately you are going to either have a muscle firing sequence or you are going to have a physical range of motion limitation.

If we are going to break it down into those two categories, we can definitely find a way to fix that. So the example you gave was there’s somebody whose knees collapse. So when they do their squat their knees are collapsing in, we want to look at why is it happening?

There are two reasons why that typically happens. The first reason is they have improper muscle activation sequences. I created this cool phrase called Proper Muscle Activation Sequencing because it sounds really sexy and it becomes an acronym which I really like as well “PMAS.” But it ultimately tells us when you do a squat you have to have a proper sequence of muscle activation. If it’s improper, then it doesn’t work.

If you have somebody whose knees are wobbling, the first thing that you want to check is if their glute rotators or hip rotators in the outside of their glutes are actually working. The easiest way to do that is to beat the flow. I got that from the top physical therapist in the world, he said to push on the area that you tell them to push back on.

He has this great picture by the way Rick, of this guy who has a dysfunctional squat and he puts bands around him and in every spot that he has a dysfunction. So he puts a band on so he knew that there’s a dysfunction that happens. He got this picture of the guy with 12 bands on doing a perfect squat but he did so many perfect squats in that position and he started taking off one band at a time. And by the time that he took all the bands out, he squats perfectly. He re-educated the way his muscles are activating.

So you want to find out what’s going on. With the knees wobbling you want to test whether or not it’s the abductors or the hip rotators. So you test those two things and if there’s a deficiency there then you could train them with their hands push on their knees where a cable is wrapped around their knees in that specific position in order to improve their squat and to get their knees in alignment with their toes and to get their glutes to fire properly.

You also want to make sure of course that their weight distribution is good on their feet. You can test that like I have this rocker board where there is a middle section where you can put one foot on the rocker board and one foot on the block and have them squat and see if they fall out to the side or the inside of the board, there you will know if the pressure that they put on their foot is either exterior or interior laterally in that way you kind of diagnose how does somebody stand out there. They might stand on their knees knock all day long.

Ultimately we have tons of imbalances. Everybody has imbalances. Getting them proper during exercise is critical because you want to reduce the chances of getting injured. To get them proper in real-life subconsciously without having to think about it is a test, is a many-year test. You want to find a flaw, what muscle is not turning on properly in the sequence of movement, and then feed the flaw and you push back against it. That’s an example of the squat.

The other example for this is if they are tight, if their hamstrings are tight, if their ankles are tight, if their glutes are tight, that’s not going to allow their knees to move laterally outward. So what their knees will do is their knees will come in based on their restriction of mobility.

When we say restriction of mobility, the general description of restriction of mobility is I reduce the range of motion of what they can do perfectly and I do a movement progression of a range of motion. And an example of that for the squat, can you squat halfway down with perfect form? Great, we are going to squat to this box halfway form for a month and I am going to take you an inch up and in 12 months from now, you are going to do an ass to grass in a perfect form.

But a lot of people don’t want to put in 12 months or whatever it may take to get into a perfect squat and that’s why you might want to accelerate the process by doing some mobility exercises, doing the bodyweight flow program I have people do that if they have mobility restrictions in their movement, or having them do more aggressive stuff, there are great trainers out there that can do some stretching on you and you can dramatically increase your flexibility quickly as well.

I know that’s a lot of nerdy stuff and I think the trainers will appreciate that and maybe people not so much, but ultimately if you have a dysfunction in your movement, you are either not firing your muscles properly or you can’t simply go in that range of motion. You need to find out which one it is first and then find out how to fix it second which is either get more flexibility and range of motion in that movement pattern or learn how to properly fire the right muscles in the proper sequence; that literally takes time. I think people need to be more patient with their training as well.

Rick Kasej: Yeah and consistent.

Tyler Bramlett: Yes. Consistent, that’s true.

========= END OF PART 1 ===============

That is the end of part 1. I will be back in a few days with part 2.

If you would like to check out a new program that focuses on the progressive movement, check out here:

7 Minute HIIT Workout

Rick Kaselj, M.S