Introduction to the ROAM Method
Over my 27 plus years of working in the fitness industry I have watched too many people rip into high intensity fitness with gusto and injure themselves within 3 months because they attempt advanced movements without qualification of the prerequisite flexibility, stability, coordination and strength, at weight, rep range and speed that exceeds their skill level.
I see the reputation of Personal Trainers as a whole go down, gym retention rates at around 16% and the only people that are happy are the physiotherapists, osteopaths, chiropractors, Drs and surgeons who mop up the mess. What is ironic to me is that the rehabilitation exercises prescribed as the very progressions that beginner should have done in the first place, and, having done so would be way further along their health, fitness, performance and aesthetic goals if they had done so upon starting.
The ROAM Method was born to provide a safe and progressive pathway to help people improve the way they move. The puzzle that has taken years to this point is how to structure, present and apply this in a way people will appreciate and adhere too.
ROAM Cycle is born
The ROAM cycle draws upon the gymnastics levels system I followed as a gymnast and coach and is fused together with systems I had studied such as the functional fitness philosophy of the CHEK Institute, Yoga, Qi Gong, Georges Hebert Methode Naturelle, Crossfit, Westside barbell conjugate system and Exuberant animal "play as if your life depends on it concepts. The ROAM cycle represents an extended "on-ramp" that progressively builds range of active movement, physical ability and fitness capacity:
- Range of motion is a definition of flexibility; in many cases people have way more flexibility than they can stabilise and this leads to what I can "instability injuries" whereby the stabilisation strategy is faulty and compensates by locking out joints. Active flexibility is a term for range of motion that is controlled by activating the muscles. So range of active movement is movement that is safe and controlled, whist progressing through increased complexity, intensity and modality.
- The ROAM cycle is split into 6 segments, there are 5 individual life-movement pattern segments and the 6th serves as the key to all the concentration circle abilities. The spiral at the centre is the suggestion that we start our movement journey from the centre and become whole by spiralling outwards the abilities and concentric circles.
- Physical abilities are characteristics of movements and are borrowed from Tudor Bompar biomotor abilities, Georges Hebert, Crossfit and how the gymnastics code of points separates its elements into families and assigned difficulty values. Similarly Karate assign belt colours to signify levels of skill and training.
- The ROAM Spectrum is separates flexibility, stability, posture, crawls, coordination, strength, power, speed and agility into progressive complexity and fitness capacity as illustrated by the colours red, orange and green.
- Red is low level complexity and intensity, orange is moderate and green is high complexity and intensity. These colours also represent the risk of injury if attempted with prerequisite training, margin for error if distracted or fatigued.
Traffic light colours are safety and capacity.
The ROAM curriculum is the separated into three main but overlapping levels:
- Red is the level of basic health, forms the base of any movement pyramid and starts the isolation to integration stretch before strengthening process to encourage postural alignment, core control and good movement biomechanics. Bodyweight is the predominant modality.
- Orange is where we develop general strength and conditioning to increase the fitness capacity to adapt to physical challenge. External loads and multiple modalities are used intensively and extensively.
- Green is peak performance of power, speed and agility which harnesses the previous phases into task or sports specific application.
The spiral represents the idea that we spiral of range of active movement development from the centre out; by progressing in 360 degrees we remove any movement gaps that are often created by specialising in one sport or movement pattern. We empower expansion of peoples movement periphery or circumference much the same as waves spread out when dropping a pebble into still water.
Note injured people and sports specific athletes need to focus on specific abilities, movement patterns and capacities but would be well served by doing a one session per week, and a good portion of the off-season following this curriculum.
Progressing the ROAM Method Curriculum.
Every single person would benefit from doing every single exercise and programme and as such should start at Alliance; there are gymnasts, dancers and yogis that are already flexible and the best return on their time would be served in stability and strength training. In attempt to account for various differences in ability and fitness profiles there are various fitness test embedded into the curriculum to help qualify which is the safest and best course of action for your individual ambition, ability, condition and circumstance.
TESTING to qualify your ability and capacity.
- ROAM Mobility: 5 Poses or assessments.
- An average score of 8 or greater means you have great flexibility and perhaps you could concentrate on your tightest pattern and go straight to Foundation bodyweight fitness test.
- ROAM Foundation Bodyweight fitness test
- Scoring in the green zone means you could skip foundation and go straight to BSX
- Scoring in the red or amber means completing the all of alliance and the whole foundation would be the best course of action.
- ROAM Bodyweight Ninja Bodyweight fitness test and profile.
- You should achieve green in Foundation before doing this test.
- A score of red indicates that you would benefit from Foundation and also Alliance, or at least developing your most restricting flexibility pose.
- FAST 1 repetition maximum strength testing and technique training.
- 1 repetition maximum takes a significant level of conditioning to work up towards and should only be done in the presence of a trainer and or with all safety precautions taken.
- Have the flexibility to perform the exercises pain free and unweighted.
- Have the foundation movement coordination, ability and bodyweight condition of ROAM Foundation of above 7 or Bodyweight Ninja 7.
- Instead of doing 1 rm consider establishing your baseline strength at a safer 8 rm
- Many metcons (metabolic conditioning) are fitness tests in themselves. "BSX" & "RSX" programmes are built around such metcons.
Having said that everyone has muscle imbalances so everyone needs flexibility, stability and postural training. You are what you repeatedly do, if you are sedentary then you grow into that slouched posture, if you overload a sports specific movement pattern then the most used muscles get strong and short and whilst you maybe neuromuscularly efficient initially your will go tip over into law of diminishing return because you will loose range of motion, fluidity and reaction time because neglected muscles and movements will become weak and the imbalance will destabilise any movement - leading to compensatory movement dysfunction and pain. Therefore out starting point is realignment of joints by stretching and strengthening the body along facial lines and movement specific sequences.
- ROAM "Alliance" is balancing the body is 5 movement specific stretch and strengthening series: We use full yoga asanas as your target as they are the full expression of the specific functional movement. 6 lessons.
- Bend is first as it addresses the posterior line, lumbar disc pain and is the simplest and shortest.
- Push is second as it addresses the superficial front and arm lines, shoulder pain, sacroiliac pain.
- Lunge and pull address the lateral line, some aspect of groin and knee. pain and the ability to side bend and link the functional pulling and lunging action
- Squat is the deep frontal line, is quite complex in the it involves ankle, knee, hip, shoulder flexion as well as thoracic spine extension. And we want to have learnt the basics of stretching and benefit from the overlaps of the previous three to develop squatting roam.
- ROAM "Endurance" provides sample cardio vascular training programme for beginners at 3 days per week building up to 10 over 12 weeks, and an advanced 5 day per week building up to a fast 5k or 2000m row. We will be adding lectures on cardio vascular training the ROAM Method way. Note most ROAM programmes have a complimentary endurance programme with them.
- ROAM "Foundation" is a follow on from "Alliance" and assumes that you have developed a stretching habit and know which are the "best stretches" to align your posture and movement mechanics. Foundation is a low intensity beginners bodyweight programme that isolates and activates weak muscles and integrates them into specific and multiple movement pattern conditioning over 6-12 weeks (depending on starting conditioning and compliance. There are 6 levels and 12 lessons.
- Swiss Ball is an optional programme that enhances core conditioning and balance training. 1 week to 4 weeks.
- TRX is an optional programme that increases stability, coordination and strength using bodyweight and gravity. 3 phases 4-12 weeks.
- ROAM "BSX" is a bodyweight graduation programme that drags in all development to date and builds the session around one or more high intensity interval metcons. Reinforcement of core and posture continues. 25 lessons at 3 times per week = 8 weeks
- Kettlebell fundamentals: We place kettlebells at this stage as they are small and cheap enough to use at home and do not require a gym membership. We suggest starting with 1 or 2 8 kg kettlebells and adding to them once you have graduated from the 6 week fundamental and if you like the 6 week intermediate programme.
- Intermediate: We consolidate learning from the fundamental and work towards some key milestones in the swing, clean and jerk, snatch and goblet squat that should serve you well to join a specialist kettlebell course. 12 weeks.
- FAST - 1 session. This is strength testing and technique teaching session. A score of green 7 in each test is the aim of general physical preparation and means you could choose any programme and even go straight to RSX.. Score in the red would direct you towards FTF, FAST Fit & HiIT. Score of Amber you could do Strength meets function, then resilience and RSX.
- "FTF" Fit toned and functional. 12 weeks to enhance the strength and coordination of you movement patterns and the muscles slings, emphasis is on rotation, muscle tone and abdominal conditioning. Complimentary cardio session. 2-4 weights and 1-3 cardio per week will bring commensurate results i.e. .5-1.5kg of fat lose per week and more definition.
- Fast Fit and Fast HIIT: Higher intensity of FTF. 8 weeks
- Strength meets function 1 & 2. Strength training 4 days per week. No cardio. 6 weeks
- Resilience 6 week programme: Builds towards a Spartan Sprint event. High intensity and cardio. Need a good base level of fitness capacity and skill. level.
- RSX the equipment based equivalent to BSX. There will also be some BSX repeats according to the theme of the day. No cardio programme. 25 lessons minimum.
- Sport specific programmes: 12 week foundation programme split into three four week phases (base-development and peak). No prerequisites although preferable to do ROAM Mobility essential animal concurrently.
Time to complete the Curriculum.
I could give you a test book answer but in reality everyone will programme as different speed. A beginner will do well to follow a slow and steady increase, while at elite athlete has built up a capacity and skill level to have a steeper and undulating progression. I suggest committing a year as the very minimum. Here are some guidelines:
- Beginner starting at RED- "Alliance" 30 days, "Foundation" 12 weeks. "Swiss ball" 4 weeks, TRX 6 weeks, "BSX" 8 weeks, FTF 12 weeks, SMF 6 weeks, Resilience 6 weeks, "RSX" 8 weeks = 64 weeks.
- Intermediate starting at Amber - "Alliance" 30 days + "Foundation" 6 weeks. "Swiss ball" 2 weeks, TRX 4 weeks, "BSX" 6 weeks, FTF 12 weeks, FAST Fit& Hiit 6 weeks, SMF 6 weeks, Resilience 6 weeks, "RSX" 6 weeks = 54 weeks.
- Advanced starting at green "essential flexibility" throughout "Swiss ball" 2 weeks, TRX 4 weeks, "BSX" 6 weeks, FTF 12 weeks, SMF 6 weeks, Resilience 6 weeks, "RSX" 6 weeks + "Sports Specific" 12 weeks = 54 weeks.
Tone up lose weight and stay in shape
Each ability and programme improves the way we move and affords a level of muscle tone and weight loss. Please be clear that these programmes are designed to improve function, aesthetics are a by-product and will also require attention to lifestyle, stress levels and nutrition as taught in the Life-print and FNFAB programmes.
Consistency is the key
The most important aspect that people seem to be confused by when expecting results is compliance and adherence to a programme. Compliance is the consistency that you follow the programme and adherence is the accuracy that you action the intention of the exercise and the acute variables outlined i.e. reps, sets, rest. Patience and perseverance is what fitness is about; it takes around 30 days of consistent training before results will be felt, seen and noticed. For flexibility is means everyday, for stability, strength, muscle tone and cardiovascular endurance it is roughly every other day or 3 or are days per week for 4 weeks. Any other deviation downwards compromises tangible results. Deviation upwards will accelerate on the proviso that there is at least one recovery day per week.