From The Coaches: Movement and why it matters

Ok, so you have been out in the tool shed pounding nails with all nine of your hammers and tinkering with the vise grips to deck out your pain cave. You are fit and ready anything Grunter can dish out … or are you?

Chances are, if you are like most of us, you focus on the hard stuff and the stuff that seems relevant at the time. And yes, I said US… We all struggle with finding balance. Let’s talk about that for a minute. Balance, that is. What am I talking about? Life balance, training balance, not falling over balance. Well, yes, all of it. Let’s start with movement balance.

The fact is that most endurance athletes move primarily in straight lines. On the bike, in the water or out on the run. And fair point, the shortest distance to the finish line is straight. But let’s broaden the scope for a minute here. The one endpoint that we don’t want to get to as fast as possible is the one where we are walking with a cane. Unfortunately that is an area of importance that we often miss until it is too late. Bringing some multi-directional movement into the picture can be a fantastic way to restore balance to your nervous system and your life as a whole.

So, movement… Let’s focus on this aspect. Multi-directional movement that is. Like when you were kid running around on the soccer or rugby pitch or playing sand volleyball, or frisbee or badminton, or ice skating, playing tag, square dancing, break dancing, dirty dancing, etc., you get my point. You move, and you move in different directions and dynamic patterns with your arms, legs, head, shoulders, hips, feet and ankles. We NEED this! It keeps tissue healthy, it keeps your nervous system engaged, it keeps your brain firing on all cylinders and it feels good. It will also delay the onset of the cane if you do it right and you do it frequently. And it is very important to understand that frequency is more important than intensity.

Your body is fantastic at adapting to patterns that get used frequently; laying down tissue and devoting resources to prepare and repair tissue along pathways that get used regularly. It is equally efficient at NOT building (and even deconstructing) tissue in areas that do not get used as much. Essentially, your body will divert its resources to what is getting used the most. As it should. The problem is that if your body is using all its resources to set up for linear motion it has very little left for everything else. And while that may be great in the short run, in the long run you will set yourself up for dysfunction and increased risk for a major injury.

When you move in multiple planes through various joint angles you improve kinesthetic awareness and proprioception. You increase circulation, improve nervous system function and musculoskeletal balance by distributing load through a greater amount of tissue. This includes muscle, fascial tissue, tendons, ligaments, nerves and the joint capsule. All of this adds up to you becoming more robust and adaptable, “Antifragile” if you will, to steal a term from Nicolas Taleb. Think of it as having multiple ways to get to a destination. The more routes you have the less traffic on any one road at a time. You may not need to use them all the time but they are there for you if you need them.

The point is you want to keep your movement patterns variable, and you need to do it frequently. Just like your MAP or FTP dropping because you don’t tap in occasionally, the walls of your movement bubble will slowly creep in on you. If you are like most people you won’t know it until you try to do something that you used to take for granted… and you are left hobbling around for three days. Or even worse, your 7 yr old daughter says, “come on, let’s go tumbling in the grass,” and you skip it because you are terrified!

What do you do? Obviously this depends on where you are now. Start small and move gently in new patterns. That could be as easy as a lateral shuffle, or side bend to start. But start, and move frequently. A perfect place to start is with the SUF Strength and or SUF Yoga progressions that are in the Sufferfest App. But less formally, pick up a hula hoop, go dancing or play frisbee and have a good laugh.

How do you move?


Plus going on the rollers once or twice a week, good for the core and balance


Great reminder, Coach Jeff. I was absolutely in that situation where ‘the walls of my movement bubble were slowly creeping in on me’ – that’s pretty much the main reason why I started the SUF Strength Training programme. It was a real eye opener to find out how difficult things like lateral lunges or single-leg balance were for me. A little scary, actually, as I could easily imagine it getting even worse a few years down the track.

More than a year on, I’m far more confident in how I move than I used to be. The STR moves like Around-the-Clock lunges and all the various compound movements are some of my favorites as I can feel how well they challenge me and see improvement on a regular basis. I fully intend to keep at it – not just because of the on-bike benefit but primarily because of the life benefits.


The obvious answer (if answer is even the correct term) is to play other sports!

I like racquet sports and play a lot of golf. All sports benefit from a solid core but these sports add that rotational element, reaction movements, using my legs to run forward and backward.

Plus they’re fun :grinning:


I have found strength helpful. However I cannot get to the higher levels. Some moves I cannot do. Press-ups on toes, and many high plank moves, I have insufficient wrist strength, also back extension with arm arcs , my back is the wrong shape.


Thanks for posting this. I’ve been doing taekwondo for over 10 years, but with COVID, it’s gone by the wayside (hard to spar or do self-defense when you’re 6 feet apart). I’d been thinking of quitting it entirely so this is a good reminder for me of why I do it and a good incentive to get back to it. It really does complement the bike training.


@Stonechat, that’s okay. Even though progression is something we often strive for it is not always necessary. Remember that with movement frequency is better than intensity. You simply want to challenge yourself. If you are continually having discomfort in the wrists you may want to attempt some of the ‘push’ moves against a wall to see if reducing the load helps. If it is a position issue (extension on the floor) with the wrist, you can make circles with the wrists to gently and gradually improve your range of motion. Or you can try some of the moves with a closed fist. I recommend that you play with this outside of the sessions so that you know what your options are when it comes time to get on your hands. For the back extension, its hard to say exactly what is happening without seeing you, but making sure that you are not hyper (over) extending your low back is key here. Make sure that the glutes and hamstrings are engaged. You don’t want to have the low back doing all the work. I hope this helps.


I don’t think I will ever do back extensions with arm arcs. Just getting shoulders off ground is tough, I think I do benefit it may loosen my back though

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Was going to post something to the same effect but with insufficient articulation by comparison.

What I had been thinking was just how great the yoga sessions are & have been for me. The past several weeks (maybe even months) have seen my form & fitness devolve into something that would give a Couchlandrian pause to say, “Damn, bro.”

But, with two—going on three—weeks straight of SUF yoga with focus on hips & hamstrings, I’ve seen my running endurance return to the point where I can run successive days without pain—and at a faster pace than I had been trending.

By no means am I “there”—and with my returning to work on Thursday, I am a bit concerned about a downward slide. But the engagement of body off the bike (yoga, running, rowing) has given me hope that it is possible to regain form, regain fitness, and Suffer.



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@SirDale, So glad to hear you are feeling better. It is so easy to overlook or leave out this kind of “maintenance” But just like your car or bike or other tools. Your body needs the love, not just the abuse.


I thought I’d revive this thread by @Coach.Jeff.H because:

  1. It contains pure Gold
  2. Personally it, and the concept of Antifragility, is shouting loud and clear to me right now.

@David.McQuillen.KoS’s response and experience will not be a surprise - many of us would have experienced it already (no matter how subtle) and many who haven’t will in the future. Being aware of it is key. For me the SUF Strength programs really brought it to the fore. As per Sir David it was the single-leg balance and lateral lunges that opened my eyes. And like Sir David I got better - quickly.

As a surgeon I am very fortunate to care for many “elderly” patients - many in their 80’s, quite a few in their 90’s and a handful over 100. Without a doubt movement is the key to healthy longevity. And in an anecdotal and very unscientific way I have noticed that:

  • Walkers that follow mountain trails and walk through forests navigating exposed tree roots and traversing rocky rivers are in better overall condition than those who do the same distance walking on paved city paths or park tracks. Despite the latter group being more focussed on it for their health.
  • My patients in their 80’s and 90’s (yes, 90’s) that play tennis are simply unbelievable! Truly!

Right now I’m a week post surgery with a lengthy recovery/ rehab period up ahead. It’s been a ‘tough’ year, part of which, when I thought things were back on an even keel, I wrote about here:

Well, 2 days after writing that I fell - minor slip on wet decking. And I felt my dominant shoulder tear as I fell - a horrible unzipping. As it unzipped I clearly saw the surgery and rehab coming my way. Sometimes you just know. (And we lost one of our beautiful goats (not laser) - Timmy - and a few days later our beautiful Cracker dog. Talk about kicking a man when he’s down!)
In true Sufferlandrian style I started the KoS Prep plan the following day (ever hopeful and naturally with just one hand on the bars), saw a sports physician the day after and as “luck” would have it (for my knighthood quest) an initial ultrasound underdiagnosed what an MRI 2 weeks later would show as a near complete tear of my supraspinatus at its insertion requiring surgery. Cleared the quest with my surgeon and had the surgery a week after.

Here’s the thing: no driving/ work x 6 weeks, no cycling at all for a few weeks and outdoor probably not for 3 months +, no classical guitar (another pastime to keep me sane) for 6-8 weeks etc. Despite having recently felt fitter than I have since my 20’s and seldom feeling much older than 19 (now 53) gee did I now feel FRAGILE. So I read up a bit on Taleb’s Antifragility and the first page I landed on started with this quote:

“How can you think yourself a great man, when the first accident that comes along can wipe you out completely.”

Here’s the link for those that want to read more: 10 Principles to Live an Antifragile Life - Farnam Street

So, while in the greater scheme of things (and having always been cognisant of having many different facets to my life) I think I tend to fall more around the resilient/ robust part of the fragile to antifragile continuum, I think there’s some work to be done to be firmly placed on the antifragile end. Already I miss GvA with a sense of longing rather than the initial one of despair and I’ve agreed I’ll apologise to my surgeon for how on Day 1 post-op I was already begging him to let me back on the trainer earlier. I’ll rehab well, ease back in with core and stability and lateral movement strengthening, and then get back on the bike. And I think I’ll hit the pool again. And play frisbee more.