[Fitness Friday] 5 Exercises for People who work on their feet all day

written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

5 Exercises for People who are on their feet all day

First of all, the foam roll is your friend…Recent research shows that the foam roll can dramatically improve your performance.  In fact, you might remember that recently another study shook up the fitness world when it  showed that stretching can inhibit your performance when done prior to your workouts or athletic events.  Leigh Mills and I discussed this in a past Fitness Friday segment.  Stretching, mind you, is still really good for you, it’s just that when you do it prior to your workouts or athletic performances, it disrupts your neurophysiology in such a way as to reduce the amount of force your muscles can generate.

The foam roll, on the other hand, has the opposite effect.  More recent research showed that even after highly intense workouts, consisting of multiple sets of squats, volunteers who used a foam roller on their leg muscles were far less sore and better able to leap and perform other physical tasks 72 hours later than subjects who did not use the foam roll.

Of course, standing all day is not really athletic performance, so the remaining four movements are focused on stretching, because when you stand on hard surfaces all day, you’re back, legs, and hips are going to become awfully tight.  Stretching these areas of your body, including your calves, will help keep your pelvis in optimal alignment, and leave you more ready for your workout at the gym after work 🙂

Forward Bends

This movement stretches both your low back along with your hamstrings.  You have four hamstrings.  They are on the back of your legs, and they become extremely tight when you stand and walk all day, especially on hard concrete surfaces.  When your hamstrings get tight, they tug on the bottom of your pelvis, which tilts your pelvis and belly forward and causes additional strain on your low back.

Single Leg forward Bend OR One Point Hamstring Stretch

This is essentially the same movement pattern as in the forward bend, but here you are only standing on one leg.  You can hold on to something to maintain your balance if you need to and watch out, this one is intense.  Typically, it won’t take as much bending to find an even more intense stretch on the entire back side of your leg and calf.

Piriformous Stretch

This one hits all of the external rotators of your hip.  Expecially the Piriformus.  These exeternal rotators tend to tighten right along with your hamstrings when standing all day, and when they do, they pull your hips in to more external rotation and narrow the space inside your low back, ultimately contributing to that tightness you feel down there.

Take a Load OFF!

Finally, if you can, maybe when you sneak off to go do your foam rolling, try lying down and putting your feet up on a chair for 5 minutes.  I know this isn’t technically an “exercise” but this position completely unloads your low back, helping to relieve pressure and tension and helping also to boost your energy level.  I know, it sounds unbelievable, but try it.  You’ll be amazed.

Have fun and don’t work too hard…


PS  If you’re reading this prior to my segment on the air with Leigh Mills on NBC15, check back on Sunday or next week for the video part of the segment where you will see an actual demonstration of each of these moves and one or two with the foam roll.


For twitter followers on my new account @jc_ashworth


I’ve taken a new position at Smart Motors of Madison, WI.  That’s right.  I’m a car Salesman.  Of course, as you most likely already know, I have many talents.  Sales and working with people being two of the top ones.  I needed a shift.  A BIG one in my life.  That combined with a drastically changed fitness industry landscape here in Madison led me to this new role, which I completely love.

Thanks for becoming a twitter follower today.  I created the new twitter account in the spirit of starting fresh.  I still post occasionally to @thefitnessnomad and of course, I still work with a small number of personal training clients and deliver the “Fitness Friday” segment on NBC15 with Leigh Mills the first and third Friday of each month.  But really…did you think I would remain a one dimensional fitness guy my whole career?

Think again…

Come and see me at Smart Motors.  The coffee and cookies are terrific! 🙂



[fitness friday] What are the best exercises?

written by john c ashworth, ma, cscs, ces

People often ask me…

“what is the best all around exercise?”

So I went looking and here is what I found.

AARP says it’s the plank.

A little time spent reviewing various expert opinions from The New York Times health and fitness portal revealed choices like the squat, the burpee and sprinting up hill. All of which are certainly on my top 10 list, because they all serve the purpose of working the entire body at once, raising your heart rate significantly, and making you functionally stronger for life and sport.

American strength training coach, Mark Rippetoe, would likely say that his choice would be the low-bar back squat. A version of the barbell squat where the bar is moved further down the athlete’s back for safety, ability to increase the load, and emphasis on working the entire posterior chain, or backside of your body, which is often neglected in training as compared to the front side.

Top Crossfit athlete, Rich Froning, says it’s the barbell thruster, which is easy to learn and combines two of my all-time favorites – the squat and the overhead press.

You could easily make an entire workout out of any one or two of these movements combined. Combine all of them and you would have a strength program that could last you a lifetime, and do far more good than most of what I see happening on a daily basis in the gym.

The real winner, though, is not the plank, the squat, the burpee, or any of the other expert moves mentioned. The real winner is the one you will actually do on a regular basis. Or the one that you actually can do, safely and effectively. If you asked me what the biggest problem in the fitness industry was today, I would say that it is our addiction for the latest or hottest fitness trend or craze. We are often in a never-ending cycle of chasing the latest greatest trends at the expense of this one very important fact. Doing something, heck anything, is the key. And I can tell you right now, that you’re never going to see me put a barbell on my back again and perform a squat. Unless it’s a few repetitions for a demonstration or video, and only if there’s no weight on the bar. My back won’t take it, and I don’t need this type of lift anymore.

My aversion to the squat is only one example of the truth that the BEST exercise or exercise program is the one you are going to engage in on a regular basis. Yes, it needs to change, adapt, cycle throughout the year, and provide you with a continually new and challenging stimulus, but at the heart of your success are movements and programs that you enjoy and will perform on a regular weekly basis.

Ask any one of my clients how much they like the burpee and whether or not they do very many, if any, on their own. The majority of them will tell you that the answer is a resounding ZERO! I don’t have to like that or even support that, but it’s the truth.

So what are you gonna do about it?


[archives] John Ashworth on the BBC with James Coomarasamy

John Ashworth, The Fitness Nomad as Heard (and seen) on the BBC News Hour

Links to the radio segment are below…

Click Here for the video


James Coomarasamy & The Fitness Nomad. Presents Newshour on the BBC World Service and also appear on BBC World News


Full Story is at the ~47th minute of this BBC News Hour Episode:

During the second broadcast of the news hour, they played my comments almost at the very start of the news hour – nice!

There is also then a slightly different version of the first broadcast at about the 48th minute.


Twitter / @jamiecoo: No sweat. Doing Paul Ryan’s ….