THE BEST FREE Leg Strength, Agility and Balance Program!

March 16, 2008 – 6:00 am

Ever since I first published my Four Corner Balance Drill (see the FREE PROGRAM below!) back in 1996, I’ve read more and more overwhelming benefits from this exercise. Well, now research just released that the one-legged squatting in the FCBD is actually… good for your heart!

“NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Exercising one leg at a time can improve aerobic capacity more than two-legged exercise in patients who have stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a report in the latest issue of the medical journal Chest. “We may have a new approach to enable patients with severe lung disease to improve their fitness,” Dr. Roger S. Goldstein told Reuters Health. “Hopefully this also increases their mobility, activities, and quality of life.”COPD is a common, progressive lung condition that is mostly seen in smokers and former smokers. It is characterized by emphysema and chronic bronchitis, which obstructs air flow to the lungs. COPD is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States.Goldstein from the University of Toronto, Ontario, and Thomas E. Dolmage note that shortness of breath limits exercise intensity for most COPD patients. “One-legged exercise,” at half the work load of exercise using two legs, “places the same metabolic demands on the targeted muscles.” However the stress on the lungs is reduced, permitting patients to increase their exercise capacity, the researchers point out.

They investigated the effects of one-legged training on the peak oxygen uptake on 18 COPD patients during stationary bicycle exercise compared with conventional two-legged training. “Two-legged trainers cycled continuously for 30 minutes, whereas one-legged trainers switched legs after 15 minutes.” The conditions were otherwise the same in terms of training frequency and session duration.

Both groups were able to increase their training intensity over the duration of the training program, the investigators report, and both groups significantly increased their total work per session.

The researchers found that the improvement in peak oxygen uptake was significantly higher in the one-legged training group than in the two-legged group. The one-legged group also had a significantly greater increase in peak ventilation and lower submaximal heart rate than the two-legged group.

“Although the one-legged group exercised at a higher muscle-specific intensity,” the investigators write in their report, “their overall exercise intensity remained below that of the two-legged group.”

“This approach enables patients who would otherwise be too short of breath to exercise to train at a lower work load (one that would allow them to continue exercising for longer) by using one leg at a time — in other words, by using a lower muscle mass,” Goldstein explained.

The technique is “easy to do, inexpensive, and it’s simple to modify a stationary bike,” Goldstein pointed out. The best candidates for this program are patients with severe but stable lung disease who would otherwise be too short of breath after minimal exertion to participate in any meaningful exercise.

“Single-leg exercise has been used to study physiologic mechanisms for more than 30 years,” writes Dr. M. Jeffery Mador, from the University of New York at Buffalo, in a related editorial. “The authors are to be commended for translating this type of study into exercise that is potentially adaptable to clinical practice and may benefit patients with COPD.”

Whether this approach is “ready for prime time” or just represents an interesting study will require additional trials with a larger number of patients, along with evaluation of actual patient benefits, the editorialist concludes.

Goldstein told Reuters Health that his group does plan to test the method in a larger sample of subjects before recommending it as an exercise training program for COPD patients.”


Got Intu-Flow?? WHY NOT??

Balance training has become in vogue and the new rave. From physical therapy to the hottest glamour gym, fitness enthusiasts everywhere are jumping on the wobbling, jostling, and teetering balance training bandwagon. From a proprioceptive perspective (that is, from the perspective of sensory receptors, chiefly in muscles, tendons, and joints responding to stimuli arising from body), learning balance work is highly specific because the nervous system learns it not in general but relative to the learning of specific skills. (1) That is why, for example, a highly-skilled kickboxer does not become a highly-skilled grappler without learning an entirely different set of skills.

Athletes are able to learn new balance skills more rapidly when the skills they are learning are complex. Their trainers and coaches too often wrongly assume, however, that the more rapid acquisition of these new skills is due to a “general” physical development of the “kinesthetic sense” rather than due to an improvement in the athletes’ ability to focus and concentrate as they learn each new skill.

The mechanical “ear” of proprioception is mechanoreception (reception that responds to mechanical stimuli such as tension and pressure). One of the three aspects of mechanoreception is movement — or kinesthetic sense. The other two aspects are position sense and force/tension sense. It is important to remember that movement (kinesthetic sense), position sense, and force/tension sense are, in fact, sense aspects of mechanoreception rather than its attributes. And they are senses that a person is born with just as one is born with the senses of sight, hearing, and taste.

Proprioception, then, is not something athletes develop like strength or endurance, but, rather, it is a “sixth” sense athletes have that is critical and which should not be overlooked or ignored.

Regarding the recent pop balance culture, unless one intends on fighting or competing on a pneumatic “wobble” surface, or on a playing field on rollers, then balance training will transfer more rapidly if it is approached from the top down rather than from the bottom up. Top-down balance training actively perturbs the structural alignment to illicit the body’s natural falling defense — the righting reflex.

Notice I said “reflex” not “learned skill.” This righting reflex is hard-wired into the human system, so we cannot alter it. However, skills to coordinate reactions subsequent to the righting reflex can be learned. And athletes can learn to coordinate their actions so that their center of mass remains aligned with their center of gravity, even when actively facing resistance.

Try the following to see what I mean. Lift one leg off the ground and have a friend push you. As your center of mass displaces off of your aligned center of balance, your leg instantly comes down to protect you from the fall. You can of course interfere with this by allowing your hands to break your fall. Regardless, righting yourself so that you do not fall becomes imperative in your mind, doesn’t it, overriding all other thoughts? Your mind is rightly concerned with your situation and designed to be so. It is a matter of survival.

In the martial arts, there are numerous falling and rolling skills one can learn for engaging the ground. These skills demand extensive conditioning to wet wire our system. Likewise, in developing balancing skills, this wet-wiring is not “balancing” that we learn. Rather, it’s improving our coordination through learning how to perform various stunts on equipment.

Developing coordination can be achieved much more effectively using the following drills for trainees of all skill levels. They combine strength, muscular endurance, muscle control, agility, soft tissue strengthening, dynamic range of motion, and dynamic flexibility along with, of course, coordination training. They are listed in order of difficulty:

  • Basic (1-3 months of training)
  • Intermediate (4-6 months of training)
  • Advanced (7-9 months of training)
  • Elite (1-2 years)

They should be practiced for only 10-15 minutes a day, every day, 3-5 repetitions per position in ultra-slow and ultra smooth movement. Do this, and you will see dramatic developments within 3 weeks.

As far as balance training, this set of drills is the only exercise you’ll ever need. Period. It covers every range of motion possible — hence the namesake of this article: Three Dimensional Balance: No Equipment. No Fuss. No Cost!


Four Corner Balance Drill

BASIC LEVEL: Heel Thrust

Frontal Thrust:
Begin with your planted foot turned outside to a 45 degree angle with your knee slightly bent. Project your other leg forward, locking your knee by pushing with your heel and pulling your toes back towards your shin. Sit back as much as possible without leaning. Flex your raised quad and planted glute in order to relax the hamstring of the raised leg. Exhale and grip the ground with your toes.
Lateral Thrust:
From the Front Thrust turn with your whole leg, leading with your pinky toe so that your raised leg rotates outward resting with your foot turned outward 45 degrees. Sit down without leaning and continue to rotate your leg outwards. Exhale and grip.
Dorsal Thrust:
Leading with your heel, rotate your leg inward and thrust your leg backwards until your foot rests behind you. Slowly dynamically resist your thrust backwards to a locked out position. Exhale and dig.Frontal Thrust:
Bend your knee and slowly swing your leg under you (bent knee) and begin again with your Front Thrust. Repeat.

INTERMEDIATE LEVEL: Toe Point

Frontal Point:
Instead of leading with the heel, extend and point all toes in alignment with the entire leg, locking out the knee.
 Lateral Point:
Swing the entire leg parallel to the ground outwards. Exhale and keep the toes pointed.
Dorsal Point:
Swing around behind and rotate the entire leg as one cylinder. Counterbalance by leaning your torso forward. Extend with your crown in one direction, your toes in the opposite: a great exercise for decompression of the spinal vertebrae.Frontal Point:
Bend your knee and swing your leg underneath you as if going to punt a football. Extend into the Frontal Point again.
Crossed Point:
Bend your knee and bring your ankle comfortably into your lap as you sit down. Stabilize with your planted foot directly in the middle of your frame. Counterbalance by extending your arms, as you exhale and sit. Come slowly out of this and use your hands to gently release the leg from your lap. Never let it quickly jerk out of your lap.

ADVANCED LEVEL: Hand Lift

Frontal Lift:
Begin by lifting your knee to your chest. Grab your heel with your outside arm. Extend your lower leg upwards until your lock your knee. If you feel tension in your hamstring, lower the amplitude of your lift and contract your quad in your lifted leg.
Lateral Lift:
Bend your knee and reach over to the inside and grab your heel. Extend your knee to a locked position while swinging your leg outwards. Remember the goal is to rotate your leg so that your toes point backwards at a 45 degree angle.Forward Press:
Bend your knee and while continuing to hold your heel, rotate your knee between your arm and torso so that you arrive with your knee bent behind you. Lock out your hip. Press the top of your foot into your hand while resisting it with your arm.
Dorsal Lift:
Begin to lean forward and lift your lower leg upwards. Maintain the press against your hand with the top of your foot.
Frontal Lift:
Swing your entire leg as one unit underneath you and re-grab on the outside of your heel to complete a Frontal Lift again.Upward Lift:
Do not lift your heel to your head! Take your arm underneath your knee pit and stabilize it against your tricep. Squat down and move your forehead towards your instep. Exhale deeply. Carefully place your foot on the ground when complete.

ELITE LEVEL: Partner Assisted Squats

Frontal Squat Thrust:
Using your partner’s hands as little as possible, stabilize yourself on the ball of your foot.
Lateral Squat Thrust:
Lift your leg up in an arc without touching your partner (and still minimizing the use of his spot) until your swing your leg out to the side. Keep your leg rotated outwards so that your toes point backwards at a 45 degree angle.
Dorsal Squat Thrust:
Rotating your leg and bending your knee, do not allow your leg to touch the ground. Extend your leg backwards keeping your shin parallel to the ground.Frontal Squat Thrust:
Bending your knee again, contract your knee to your chest and extend forward into the Frontal Squat Thrust.
Crossed Squat Thrust:
Bring your heel to your planted knee and place it on top of your thigh. If you need assistance, release one hand of your spotter’s and grab your shin (not your foot) to bring it to your thigh.

ELITE LEVEL: Solo Squats

The last and most difficult series is for the advanced athlete with strong, injury free knees and ankles. It took me two years to work to this point; the skill developed was all based upon the above progression of the Four Corner Balance Drill.

Frontal Squat Thrust:
Keep the heel of your planted foot pointed upwards towards your center of gravity. Push with your heel and pull your toes towards your shin. Initially you may use your hands as training wheels to strengthen the foot and the responsiveness of your planted leg muscles.
Lateral Squat Thrust:
Swing your leg to the outside and remember to rotate your leg so that your toes point backwards at a 45 degree angle.
Dorsal Squat Thrust:
Bring your knee to your chest and swing your leg forward. Extend leading with your heel into a Dorsal Squat Thrust.
Crossed Squat Thrust:
Load your leg into your lap and exhale. This one is tough, folks… and took my about two years to develop.

For instruction in this exercise, check out the Intu-Flow® Longevity System, and from the above study, you may be increasing your heart health, too!

Flow Thyself™,

  1. 2 Responses to “THE BEST FREE Leg Strength, Agility and Balance Program!”

  2. Scott,
    This is so very interesting.
    I start this progression today.
    I’m also saving for the Core Cadre…

    Please can you speak a little on general knee prehab. I love shin box/cossack squat and I love 1-2 minute squats. I still have some fear and creakiness in the knee. In your locust post you mentioned:

    ” There are usually a lot of unhealthy, dense attachments which you’ve developed to preventing full opening of your elbow, and as a result preventing full lubrication and nutrition to get to the tissues which require it”

    I feel that there are some similar things in the knee that I never address. What is feeling really good is standing on a stair and letting the heel hang down. For some reason that makes the knee happy- so I’m doing it!

    Anyway, thanks for all you do.
    –Paul

    By Paul on Mar 21, 2008

  3. Great exercises, I love them.
    I use to be verry unstable and after about 1,5 years I am upto the advanced level.
    One thing, I have one bad knee (torn crossbands and meniscus)and sometimes I feel my knee moving when I am balancing on that knee. I also do intu-flow movements with this knee. Question, do I have to go throug pain before it gets better? Will it get better? Another thing, my healthy knee squats all the way, my bad knee only up to 70%. How can I get this better? Thnx for advice and help. RV

    By Rob Vrancken on Dec 4, 2010

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