First my exact recommendations, in order of importance, then I’ll break down WHY…
- Start every strength session FEET FIRST.
- Rebalance the Nike Air cushion.
- Free your jammed up feet with bare feet or barefoot-inspired shoes.
CHAPTER 1: FEET FIRST
What occurs when we train our strength backward? We load through the feet themselves on every step. This is why “FEET” and “RHYTHM” are my only two mandatory intentions when doing backward.
In the image above, Derek Williams (@mr1nf1n1ty) and I are using treadmills that are not turned on and we are spinning them backward. Derek is 43 and looks like he’s 21 on the basketball court. I haven’t seen anyone in fitness who has done as many sessions as Derek and I have
I start every workout of my life with my feet.
At Common Sense University I learned that training from the feet up before every session has improved my strength, range of motion, and circulation in my big toes, feet, heels, Achilles, shins, and knees… all of which previously had degrees of chronic pain.
I recently got my Master’s Degree from CSU… by playing full basketball games and throwing down dunks while wearing barefoot Xero Shoes!
And FYI: If you don’t have a gym, that’s ZERO PROBLEM, either: My Zero Program has thousands of success stories and requires nothing but you, dedicatedly rebuilding your body from the ground up every session.
If I had to guess, FEET FIRST is the most common sense way to train for longevity…
Now let’s look at my beautiful wife, Alissa, pushing our Jeep, which is in neutral and on a flat surface:
Look at her feet!
When you resist yourself enough forward, you end up loading through your toes and Achilles, gaining strength, flexibility, and circulation all at the same time.
You’ll notice Alissa is belted up with Spud, Inc. Sled Belt + Sled Attachment, because she was starting with backward, then pushing back to the starting line.
You can click here for the equipment I use, with links and with all the discounts I could get for you so far.
This “Push-Pull” is my preferred style, so in my personal program, which I update before every week, each session starts with Push-Pull Sled. If you don’t have a Sled you do 5 minutes backward on the treadmill turned off — aka Deadmill.
Then you spend a 5-minute recovery period trying to convince your gym owner to get a sled and turf. If your gym can’t get turf installed, it should get a TankM4 Sled (also in the list above).
Resisted backward is mandatory.
Resisted forward is optional but highly recommended.
More forward than backward is never allowed.
That’s the end of Chapter 1. What follows is an unnecessary life rant about how to be successful without luck or connections…
For the record, I am fully aware that Spud, Inc. requires two purchases and that they are built for demands way beyond what’s necessary for how I do the resisted backward training. I am handling this and already have prototypes made on an ATG Sled Belt so that I can give you just one fast and easy purchase while saving you more than half the cost and still being built perfectly for the job. I will always love the Spud, Inc. version but it’s not fair for the 12-year-old me with knee pain that it’s so tough to get a belt designed for this purpose.
Every business decision I make comes back to the same question: “What would the 12-year-old me want?” And the 12-year-old me would want a much more affordable and precise Sled Belt. Part of what allows me to save you the most money is that I already have the most views and reads ever on the subject of backward, so I would need the least expense on ads to sell the product. Sometimes in life, you can just outright earn your way to something by putting in more effort than anyone else has on a subject.
I was a shit athlete from a small town with no connections and I didn’t even have a social media account when all my friends did. Now my Instagram and YouTube have a combined 1.3 million followers. Let that be a lesson to you regarding what you can achieve if you don’t lie to the universe about your effort. You don’t have to have luck. You can just treat success as a math equation, as I did. I decided I would simply do more work on knees over toes than anyone ever has (ah, did ya’ notice we are training knees over toes in both Image 1 and 2 above?), and that’s what I did. It worked. I had no idea it would work when I started. I did know I had a 0% chance if I didn’t try. I had already saved my own knees and I was saving dreams and life quality for people in person. It was no longer my choice. It became a duty to spread the knowledge…
“Good luck is another name for tenacity of purpose.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
CHAPTER 2: REBALANCE THE NIKE AIR CUSHION
We almost all have tight calves due to modern footwear, but it’s surprisingly easy to undo the effects. When we add a mistake to the human body’s perfect design, we introduce problems. With tight calves we get tighter hamstrings. We also get less ankle mobility, which is now well-documented in its relation to plantar fasciitis, heel pain, and Achilles tears. I’m not saying calf stretching on a slantboard is all you need, but I am saying life and training get exponentially easier when you start knocking out your weakest and tightest links.
The trick is leaning forward far enough to get your shin past vertical, thus actually putting your body’s load into it.
Derek makes this board. You could build your own. I have much less sympathy here because I use this for so many life-changing exercises and a 12-year-old me would have had no problem saving up for something so helpful, or building my own from wood.
There are multiple slantboard options in my equipment list above, including larger wood ones which I highly recommend to be customized for branding/gyms.
CHAPTER 3: FREE YOUR JAMMED-UP FEET
It’s sad but true that almost all of us have abnormal feet due to decades in shoes not designed…
Yep, modern footwear is designed for style, not how our feet are naturally shaped.
But walking on concrete all day is also not natural!
This is why many people fail with barefoot-inspired shoes — because it’s too much, too soon… but you could probably go for a 10-minute walk in them and build up gradually.
I do all my workouts in Xero Shoes and I even play basketball in them. I can’t recommend the basketball part for others because they’re going into something that hasn’t been done much — if at all. I do it because I push my body without anything for recovery: no supplements or treatment methods of any kind. Wearing barefoot shoes on a basketball court only forces my workouts to be more precise, since that’s all I have to protect me.
But original basketball shoes were designed much closer to natural with “zero drop.” This means they didn’t have the unnecessary heel lift modern basketball shoes have. They were designed with cushion, but with the same lift from toe to heel.
Now to come back in style, most barefoot/zero-drop shoes in general look super dorky. I’m okay with that, but it’s not ideal for most.
So to me it seems like the ideal shoe would have
- wide toe box to allow your feet their natural shape
- some cushion to make up for the fact we live in a concrete jungle now, rather than on sand/dirt/grass
- some style and branding!
And yes, I’ve already been working for months on such a shoe…
Two of my best friends are Foamer Simpson and his brother. We’ve been playing basketball together pretty much since I got out of college and we even played in some pro basketball events in Europe together. Steps 1 & 2 above helped get them back able to play basketball after their knees had taken the game away from them, but this Step 3 is a big reach for guys who have been at the pinnacle of sneaker style for the past decade. I don’t know if their soles or souls would hurt more from wearing barefoot shoes!
So regardless of business, we need these shoes for our own life quality, and if we need them, others probably will too. (<That might be a good piece of business advice, too!)
I can’t show you those designs, but we don’t care if others copy our idea!
In the meantime, I will keep rocking with my Xeros. I absolutely love them.
Bonus: The CEO of Xero Shoes, Steven Sashen, is a Master’s All-American sprinter, one of the fastest men in the US over the age 50!
Steven, CSU officially grants you an honorary doctoral degree. Thank you for your dedicated work in this field.
And thank you for reading this article.
Yours in Solutions,
To train exactly like me, with your own form coached and questions answered under 24 hours, please check out atgonlinecoaching.com!