Original Strength

Sometime in 2012, I heard about Original Strength from one of Coach Dan John's books. The word crawl immediately clicked in my head, and I was reading the book the next day. And it just made sense.

I need things to click before I can do them - strength training did that but I got there the geeky way. With OS, it just clicked in the gut part of my brain immediately.

There are a lot of legitimate methods and training tools out there. The good ones all work. Strength training or mobility or correctives or kettlebells or barbells. They do the same or similar things, and are clear about what they give you. As long as you know what you want, and pick one that resonates with you.

Besides rocking, I had never used any of the drills previously. Neck nods and segmental rolling felt amazing. I started doing the Big 5 Resets daily. I just enjoyed doing them and I felt good. Segmental rolling made my back do clicking noises and it was awesome.

Try it out! Spend 10 minutes just being a kid.

I realised I could keep getting better and better at it as I just let myself be, and it became a form of meditation. On good days. There were also many days of just punching the clock.

In the crawl, the contralateral movement of the body was a lightbulb moment for me. Slow crawls showed imbalances that I could just slowly iron away with daily practice.

The first 5-20 minutes of my morning at 4am was this. Based on how much time I had available each morning, it changed. What didn't change was doing it daily. Coz Tim said so.

The drills are based on the fundamental movement learning pattern all humans have as a baby. We learn to move our heads, and then learn to roll, and then start crawling. And from there on, we get to walking and running. As we get older and we add poor habits like sitting and tightness and all the joy of adult life, wires get crossed and we start moving poorly. By working on the vestibular system (our sensory system), the OS helps us to reset how things work by using the original learning pattern again.


A few months go by and we were in Auroville to play the Hat (Ultimate Frisbee) that weekend. I had the urge to go on a long run, and since that's not something that happens much (I've probably had the urge to go on a long run about twice since then), I found myself running.  The first 5-10 minutes of every run, for me, is always Argh, you idiot! Why are you doing this to yourself. Let's go back. I had a plan to keep myself busy. Work on the run, which is a progression of crawl --> walk -->, like I did on the crawl. As am prone to over-thinking, I had simplified this to 3 things

  1. push off my big toe
  2. breathe through the nose
  3. try to keep my arms from flailing about and be steady

It kept my head busy and sometime into the run, something fun happened. I was in the zone. And I could just feel my body and my X and all the hmm-what things that the OS system talks about. I just felt well-knit, and I was just in a smooth running rhythm. If I drove my elbows just a bit harder, my stride length increased and so did my speed. If I slowed that elbow drive just a wee bit, woah, I could control my running in a way I never could before. I understood what using the arms in a run meant.

Run in the sun
Photo by lucas Favre / Unsplash

It was an enjoyable and eye-opening experience in my life, something that opened up how I approached training and thinking of movement and my body and lifting weights. Pretty much everything fitness-related. The only variable I had changed was Original Strength. And I've been continued doing the Big 5 pretty much daily since then. I include a significant part of it in my training as well.

It is something I am thankful for. Tim Anderson has created an interesting, obvious system. It works for me, and I love playing around with it. Tim has so much content out there for free. Most importantly, I love playing and discovering using it - it feels like an open system, a playground. I love it, and I cannot recommend it enough.


Doing the drills every day was key, for me. And results help. If it was not for the running experience, would I have continued after a year? I am not sure.

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#Breathing mechanics is rather poor to average for most people that I encounter, and not just in the gym. And that’s a big deal. . . Breathing through the nose and using the diaphragm - that’s what we need to do. . . We might be able to do it normally but anytime we are in a compromised position, the breathing goes out of whack - we become chest and neck breathers. . . Here’s a drill from the awesome folks at @original_strength that works as a drill to fix it, as well as a test. The actual idea might’ve been something else but I think the biggest benefit is feedback about breathing and compromised mechanics. . . By moving weight forward to your palms and then taking one/two limbs off, we put ourselves in a compromised position. Now - continue breathing using your nose and with as little tension as you can. . . . . . . . . . . #iamthequad #strength #strengthtraining #fitness #exercise #Chennai #madras

A post shared by Arvind Ashok (@arv43) on

I use it as warmup, before my actual warmup. Or some days, it is my only warmup. I do it every morning. If I have time, I try to press reset before dinner as well.

I have a 45 minute version of drills (mostly from OS and a few from other places as well) that I use for my recovery days, or when am playing a tournament.

I play with it - I make stuff up, I colour outside the lines. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not. That’s the joy of the playground!

I find it to be a meditative experience, and I've gotten better at using it that way when needed. It is something I still look forward to daily. And when am in the playground, it is a lot of fun. And some times, interesting ideas pop out too!

It works for me. Thank you, Tim!

A note/disclaimer: I am not officially certified or a licensed Original Strength practitioner. I read the books multiple times, bought the DVD when I started, and I've put in many hours of practice into it. Visiting their facility is definitely on the cards, hopefully whenever I visit the USA next.

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