A few weeks ago I got the chance to attend a workshop by Steve Maxwell. Steve is a very interesting guy who has been involved in strength and fitness training for over 50 years and was also instrumental in bringing MMA and BJJ to America (he actually trained Royce Gracie for the first two UFC’s). He now travels the world with all of his belongings packed into a 44 oz. travel bag, teaching seminars and learning from the smartest people he can find.
Put on as the first day of the three day Strength Matters summit (which you can check out my full review of by clicking here), Steve showed us a lot of interesting ways to work on our breathing, our mobility and our body control/ awareness. While I learned a lot from his workshop, there were three things in particular I started using and together they make up what I call the Baby-Man Challenge.
I named it this for a couple of reasons. First, I was joking around with a training partner and thought the name sounded funny when I challenged him to it. There is also an Adventure Time reference in the name and since I love that show I’ll take any excuse to use something from the show (bonus points for anyone who knows the reference).
The name also refers to the fact that these three movements take you through the same developmental pattern you followed on the way from being a baby to a man or woman as the case may be. While there are a lot of steps in between, three of the major milestones for development are Rolling, Crawling and Squatting.
By taking you from the floor to standing upright, the Baby-Man Challenge is a fun way to see if you have any holes in your fundamental core strength and movement skills. One of the major problems I see with riders is that a lot of them have lost some of these developmental movement skills as adults and this leads to a weak athletic base on which to build your high level strength and fitness. We have an epidemic of riders who can pedal like a champ but can’t roll over, crawl or squat as well as their 3 year old self could.
When you fix these basic movement skills you will see an improvement in performance and in injury resistance. And since things like the Baby-Man Challenge allow you to assess and work on them, it is extremely important for you to use in your program.
So, what is the Baby-Man Challenge? It consists of these 3 exercises:
1 – Rolling over while only using your head.
2 – Crawling in a small square pattern.
3 – The Russian Squat Sequence.
Check out this video to see the challenges in action and see how you stack up to the Baby-Man Challenge.
As you will see in the video, these movements are pretty simple on the surface but remember that simple does not mean easy. The goal is not to muscle your way through them once so you can claim you met the Baby-Man Challenge. The goal is to use these exercises as a way to learn more about yourself, how you move and how things feel. If you focus on making these 3 exercises feel easier and more natural, you will get far more out of them than just going through the motions so you can rush back to doing “normal” exercises.
In fact, I like to do these 3 exercises when I’m traveling as a quick workout to reset my core and fight the effects of sitting a lot, which is what I tend to do when I travel. I also like to use them as a quick warm up or as part of an extended warm up. And of course I like to do them as a way to show people that there is far more to being strong than simply being able to get stiff and lift a lot of weight.
I hope you try the Baby-Man Challenge, if you do, be sure to post your thoughts or feedback on it. Add these 3 exercises into your routine and you’ll get closer to being a high functioning adult who can still handle basic movements like a kid. When you can do that you’ll be able to ride faster, while getting injured less and basically have more fun on the bike, which is really the ultimate goal for us all.
Until next time…
MTB Strength Training Systems