Original Strength just a calisthenics program?

Discussion in 'Other' started by Smile-n-Nod, Aug 10, 2019.

  1. Smile-n-Nod

    Smile-n-Nod More than 500 posts

    Are there any reasons to think that the Original Strength (OS) program is something other than just another calisthenics or bodyweight exercise program? Is there any science behind the claims that certain OS movements (resets) provide a benefit to the body other than just the normal strength, balance, and flexibility improvements? Help me understand why (and if) OS is better than other programs.
  2. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    My perspective is that it is another tool in the toolbox.

    Just curious as to who is saying it's better than other programmes, and what other programmes?
    Phil12 likes this.
  3. Alan Mackey

    Alan Mackey Triple-Digit Post Count

    It's not better or worse, it's different.

    Both Starting Strength and Rite of Passage involve working with weights. That doesn't mean they are the same thing.

    OS is not calisthenics (OS uses chains, ropes, kettlebells and loaded carries galore), is not Yoga, it's not mobility stuff... It's its own thing (and worth exploring, in my opinion).

    I wouldn't follow an OS-centric routine (I wouldn't follow a Simple&Sinister-centric routine either), but I do quite ample use of OS resets, regressions and progressions (mixed with other Yoga, GFM and mobility stuff).
    Steve W. likes this.
  4. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement Senior Instructor

    We know that mobility is a move-it-or-lose-it proposition.

    I confess to be puzzled by this, "that certain OS movements provide a benefit to the body other than just the normal strength, balance, and flexibility improvements?" Improving one's strength, balance, and flexibility isn't enough?

    Although I am not a scientist, I believe there is evidence that our vestibular system, like any other body system, benefits from being appropriately challenged, and OS talks about this and provides this. If you want studies, you might reach out to Tim and ask him directly. I'm assuming you mean the vestibular system in your "other".

    Steve W. and Bauer like this.
  5. Bauer

    Bauer More than 500 posts

    This article sheds some light on your question.

    Original Strength – What It Is and What It’s Not | Original Strength

    OS is based on the premise that our bodies are meant to be strong and that we can tap into our natural strength potential when we engage in movements that nourish our CNS and our vestibular system. Contra-lateral movement, diaphragmetic breathing and head control are the basics of healthy movement and the resets try to restore and build these qualities.

    I have done a lot of crawling during the past weeks and have noticed quite a few benefits. For example:
    - joints are more stable, mobile and aligned. For the first time in years my left hip has stopped clicking!
    - my stabilizers are much more active and do their job in everyday life as well as in exercise - reflexive strength is effortless strength and takes the brakes of your movements
    - my lats and my midsection are much stronger
    - my squat depth and form has improved and my ankles have become more mobile
    - my lunges in TGUs have become much more stable

    Give it a shot and see for yourself. OS is much more a movement system or philosophy than an exercise.
    Denny Phillips and Steve W. like this.
  6. Dasho

    Dasho Triple-Digit Post Count

    I've been going through The Becoming Bulletproof Project (an OS book), and I think it has a lot to teach about the benefits of non-structured programming.

    Basically, it helps you take the brakes off both mind and body as far as what you can accomplish, i.e. not worrying about exact rest periods, reps, sets, etc. In turn, this has helped my training which is more structured. For instance, I had the hardest time working up to a 10 minute kettlebell-sport style long cycle. I kept thinking I had to go through very well-planned sessions with escalating density and hit all of these milestones before doing a 10 minute set. Now, my long cycle sessions are "Do 10 minutes of it, stop the clock when you need to as form deteriorates, start as soon as you can (with proper form and breathing again)" I went from a max length set of around 2:30-3:00 minutes to 8:30 in the span of 2-3 weeks. Not because I built so much extra endurance, but because I learned HOW to endure. Hopefully this makes sense.
  7. offwidth

    offwidth More than 5000 posts

    Not everyone figures this out...
    Bauer likes this.
  8. Steve W.

    Steve W. Quadruple-Digit Post Count

    I think of OS differently than an "exercise" program. I approach it as play, exploration and experimentation. Not as therapy. Not through a lens of dysfunction and correction. Not as mobility or flexibility training. Not as warm up for other activities. I approach it as play -- something to do for its own sake because it is fun and feels good to do. I approach it as exploration of and experimentation with movement. I don't look at the categories and principles (changing levels, moving the head, contralateral movements, limbs crossing the centerline, etc) as restrictions or instructions, but as inspiration to explore. If you look at Tim's videos on the OS YouTube channel, he exudes this vibe of play and exploration. He's constantly coming up with different variations, with only the directive to "give this a try."

    I think that Tim sometimes oversells and overemphasizes the theory behind it and the idea of emulating and recapitulating the development of movement skills in children, and the idea that we were "meant" to...whatever. I don't necessarily buy it, and largely ignore it. To me, it's completely beside the point of why I use OS.

    I just look at it in terms of black box cause and effect. It feels good when I do it, and when I do it regularly, I feel and move better. Specifically, my posture is better, my shoulder mechanics are better, and I feel both looser and more tied together overall.

    As I've gotten older (now 54) I feel like my movement vocabulary has shrunk. To maintain movement freedom (a term I like better than "mobility" or "flexibility"), I have to make time to explore movement variety. It's easy to get locked into certain patterns through a combination of training and lack of non-exercise play (even playing basketball regularly, there are patterns I naturally fall into that are hard to deviate from).

    For most of my life, I had very good movement freedom (mobility/flexibility, whatever you want to call it) -- until I didn't anymore. It sneaks up on you over time. As Ernest Hemingway once wrote in a different context, it happens "Two ways. Gradually and then suddenly."

    I actually started doing a lot of Scott Sonnon's mobility stuff (anyone remember Zdorovye?) many years ago, but didn't do it consistently because I didn't think I "needed" it. I didn't -- at the time. But looking back, I DID need to be doing it then, so I could still move that way NOW.

    Nowadays, I find OS works really well to help regain some of that lost movement freedom in a fun and enjoyable way. It doesn't pathologize your current state (whatever it happens to be). It doesn't require special expert instruction (just watch a video and give it a try). You don't need to conform to precise technique standards. You just need to crawl, roll, march, and skip around -- play, not train.

    "It might reasonably be maintained that the true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground." (GK Chesterton)​
    Denny Phillips, Bauer, Lee and 3 others like this.
  9. Alan Mackey

    Alan Mackey Triple-Digit Post Count


    That's EXACTLY why I'm more and more interested in things like OS, GFM (which, unfortunately, seems to be available only by attending seminars), MovNat and the like.

    My body and mind are constantly screaming at me: "don't workout, don't train, you fool! Just PLAY".
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2019
    Steve W. likes this.
  10. Chris Hall

    Chris Hall Double-Digit Post Count

    I actually really like Tim's ideas on why the stuff works, but it would be really difficult to prove that stuff right (or to prove it wrong for that matter) that is why I like your 'black box' view - it seriously does not matter whether the theory is correct or not.... or whether I like it and you think it is overdone... the stuff works anyway and who cares why.
    Stuart Elliott and offwidth like this.
  11. Jan

    Jan More than 500 posts

    Yes, there is science behind it all. You get the full explanation why the resets work during the OS Pro workshop, but basically, you are activating the vestibular system, which is the main "hub" for all information passing through your nervous system. The main difference between OS and other calisthenics and bodyweight exercises is that OS trains the nervous system, not necessarily the muscular system.

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