DMS -1 and the great Chris Duffin

If you have ever been to Contemporary Athlete or met David Bender, you know birthdays are usually celebrated with kettlebell swings and copious amounts of sweat. So when Dave told me he had a birthday present for me, I’ll admit I was mildly concerned. I imagined some terrible form of torture where he tries to get me to cry mid-workout. Thankfully, he had a different plan. This birthday present came in the form of an educational trip. (However, I’m not blind to the idea that he may still try to make me cry during a workout but I mean – that will never happen).

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of traveling out to Portland, OR to visit the Kabuki Strength Lab – home to Chris Duffin and the Duffin Movement System. Chris Duffin came from a very humble beginning that included learning how to forage and hunt for his meals. He then went on to become a corporate executive, a world record holding powerlifter, and now owner of his own gym. He is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for sumo deadlifting 405lbs for 40 reps in a single minute. Yeah I can’t quite wrap my head around that either. Needless to say he’s an impressive man. It’s quite clear when in Chris’ presence, and around his staff, that they are all very passionate about the work they do.

I spent two days at the Kabuki Strength Lab with 40 other trainers, clinicians, and fitness enthusiasts learning the system that Chris and his coaches have developed for coaching and cueing barbell movements. This seminar focused on the “big 3’; squat, deadlift, and bench press, and using these lifts as a way to also assess the movement of clients. Becoming proficient at a movement without any load or added weight is great progress for most clients.   Performing those same movements under load drastically changes the way our muscles respond. Adding load can give a trainer a great deal of information about which muscles are working to move the weight, which muscles are stabilizing the body, and which muscles are just on vacation and not doing their job. Clients can easily, and unknowingly, fake proper movement when there is no added weight. Throw some weight into a movement and various red flags can start popping up. As a trainer, we must have a toolbox full of ways we can help a client learn the proper ways to engage and fire their muscles to perform any movement or lift properly. Besides just helping your clients move better, you are also preventing injury or even helping them to overcome past injuries and prevent them from happening again.

The goal of the Duffin Movement System is to add to that toolbox. Most of the work to perform a lift properly comes from how you set up for that lift. You need to properly prime and prepare your muscles so they can move with efficiency. With that said, learning the proper set up is no easy task. It takes practice. Over time, we all develop deficiencies in how we move. We have muscles that don’t fire at all, latent firing muscles, or we simply don’t understand how to fully engage a muscle. The Duffin Movement system walked us through a variety of exercises to teach clients to better understand their own movement and how to move with purpose and intention. This was a recurring theme of the weekend, move with purpose and intention. All of this ultimately leads to a client being able to properly set their body up and prepare to work efficiently.

The great thing about the seminar was the accessibility. This seminar is by no means reserved for industry professionals. Any person, at any level, interested in learning to lift better would benefit from the Duffin Movement System training. The coaches were welcoming and fully available for our questions and concerns. They spoke in terms that any level of attendee could understand. We worked in small groups throughout the weekend, side by side with the coaches performing the lifts. In doing do, we learned to correct our own form as well as the form of those in our group. Afterwards we even went out to eat and drink with the coaches. I filled pages and pages of a notebook trying to absorb all the great information. If you’ve been to any of my Women’s Strength classes in the last two weeks you’ve seen what I learned being applied. If you have ever had even a little interest in lifting weights (and learning firsthand just how awesome it is to deadlift) stop by Contemporary Athlete and I’ll show you what it really means to stabilize your core and brace for that big lift.

On January 23rd, I will be offering a deadlift specific clinic here at Contemporary Athlete. If you are interested, please take a look at the flyer below!