Merging Foundation Training With Hillfit

Regular readers of this site know that I am a proponent of High-Intensity Training (HIT) and that the bodyweight approach I discuss the most is the Hillfit program. As great as that routine is there is one exercise in it that I never got many benefits from the Hip Extension. I tooled around with the different variations, but over time started doing it less and less as I didn’t feel I was getting any benefit. Then I hurt my knee and stopped doing it completely.

A year ago I posted on Foundation Training. Whereas Hillfit is a program of safely designed static hold movements that require very little skill to perform, Foundation Training is the movement equivalent. Much like HIT, Foundation Training is time-efficient, focuses on building strength and the movements are easy to learn.

I see Hillfit as a way to build strength that I can apply to any endeavor. I see Foundation Training as a way to undo the damage of modern life in minimal time.

By that, I mean limited movement and the hours we spend every day sitting at a desk, in a car, or in front of a TV. The movements used in Foundation Training are in my opinion time-efficient ways to reverse what sitting is doing to our body. I tried a standing desk. Didn’t care for it. Foundation Training works better for me.

Back in February in the post Body Language and Exercise Warm-Up, I mentioned that I always do Windmills before lifting. Foundation Training has a Windmill in it that was slightly different than the one I had been doing. It involves sitting further back before bending forward. Doing this stretched my hamstrings more and there some glute activation. That is when the light bulb went off. Instead of doing Windmill repetitions like in the Foundation Training routine, I’d use static holds like Hillfit.

The best glute exercise I’ve ever done and it only takes 90 seconds.

Foundation Training Book
Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence by Dr. Eric Goodman. I have not seen the Kindle version, but I can’t imagine it displaying the images as nicely as the paperback edition. 

The Static Windmill

I’m sure someone somewhere has stumbled onto this exercise and named it. Probably in a yoga routine. But I am unaware if they did. So for now I’ll be naming this movement The Static Windmill.

The most important part of this exercise is not the Windmill part, but the bend forward. Forget the old way of touching your toes. Widen your stance a little, stick your ass back, and now with a bend in your knees drop your hands to the ground about 6-12 inches (15-30 cm) in front of your feet. Hold this.

What you should feel is a stretch in your hamstrings and your glute muscles firing. If you don’t, you’ll need to “dial it in”. That is an espresso term for adjusting the grinder so the shot speed is perfect. We are all different, so our stances, the knee bend, and where our hands are will be different. Your goal is to dial in where you feel that tension. This is a similar concept to Hillfit, in that those exercises are held at the point where the most muscle fibers are engaged. Same concept here.

Once you think you have the spot, try driving your heels into the ground. This will tell you if you’ve dialed it in. You should feel increased gluteal muscle activation. If you do, you are on target. Now hold this for 30 seconds.

The first time you do this, I suggest stopping here. Don’t even do the Windmill part yet. I always ease into any new exercise.

Once you’ve done the 30-second hold, lift your left hand and twist your torso to the left into a windmill pose. Using your left hand, point to the sky. You’ll now notice your left glute is working harder. Now force your left heel down and you’ll really feel it. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to where you started and repeat the same movement on the right side.

That is it. Brief, intense, effective, and safe.

Before You Start

You could jump into the Static Windmill directly, but it might be wise to learn the principles of Foundation Training first. There is a 12-minute video on YouTube that is a great overview. Don’t do it all the first time. Start with a few minutes and then return to it in a few days and go a little longer. If you get a lot of value as I did from this clip, consider getting the full DVD which is available on the Foundation Training website. I bought version one of the DVD. Version two is out now, which I understand is even better.


Add yours

  1. I’m a big fan of both Hillfit and Foundation. I was reading Chris’s excellent blog for a long time before the book came out but foundation I found through you. I’ve had a lot of success with both approaches and I also see them as coming from a very similar place. Thanks!

    It’s a shame that Chris doesn’t post much anymore, but I really see where he’s coming from and I agree with him completely. I started with the whole paleo world believing I had found something magical and original, but at this point I think everything you really need to know about fitness and heath could fit on a business card. The take-aways are just not that complicated or counter intuitive and I have no time for the many charlatans in the fitness world.

  2. Stuart Gilbert

    Aug 26, 2014 — 3:28 am

    Although I mix weight training with bodyweight stuff, and do the occasional interval session…I agree with your sentiments totally. I too have reached that stage in my fitness journey where I have gone back to trying to keep things as simple as possible, both in my day to day practice..and in my head.
    It actually amazes me how the various fitness gurus, and publications keep finding different things to talk about on a daily / weekly / monthly basis in order to keep there readership happy. Writing an occasional blog is one thing, but to churn out the stuff that some of them do, as regularly as they do, is another. Once Chris had reached his current mindset, I could appreciate why he hardly wrote on his blog anymore. To do so, he would almost feel like he was being fraudulent to himself, and doing a disservice to his readers. To his credit Michael, does interlace the occasional fitness post with a whole host of other topics, so when a fitness post does appear on here, it’s like finding a rare gem.

  3. Stuart Gilbert

    Aug 26, 2014 — 3:31 am

    I do like Skyler Tanner’s take on things in this article. I think he hits the nail right on the head with this.

  4. I totally get why Chris posts less these days.

    There are so few that receptive to the message that exercise should be designed for safety first. They look to extreme outliers as realistic role models and are blind to the role of survivorship bias. And this is not just the individual, but the industry itself. They are finally rewarded for the model of fitness that believes perfect form on complex movements is possible 100% of the time for 100% of the people. Failures are blamed on those that don’t get results, not on the protocol itself.

    It wears you out. I just got another brotard comment on an older fitness post. It has been a few days and haven’t responded. I may never respond. I just to jump on those comments and take them on point by point, always respectful. At a certain point, you feel like you are repeating yourself and the last brotard is replaced by a new one. It never ends.

    At some point you move on. I’m not there yet, but I’m getting closer.

  5. Hi MAS. Have you tried a treadmill desk yet? I haven’t but I’m eyeing one…

  6. @Glenn – No. Not a fan of treadmills. I am a fan of sitting though. 🙂

  7. Regarding not feeling the hip extension.
    I use a version I got from Joe DeFranco that really targets my glutes.
    Basically you place the soles of your feet together (think butterfly stretch but laying on your back) and then do a bridge.
    You end up bridging on the blade of your foot vs your sole.

  8. @JM – I just tested it out. Very nice. Thank for sharing.

  9. Simple and slightly ironic way to avoid burning out with regards to talking about this stuff: turn off the comments. Anyone who has a legitimate complaint or concern (or challenge) will email you.

    It takes care of the drive-by assholes!

  10. Stuart,

    I agree about MAS, he’s so thoughtful and careful that I almost prefer when he writes things I disagree with since it forces me to take another look.

    And I certainly don’t mean that health and fitness aren’t complicated, flipping through a physiology textbook for 10 seconds proves that conclusively. People who have taken the time to really learn about them like Skyler are invaluable by helping to honestly explain what is known and not known to a lay audience. My point is that for my purposes I just need to know a handful of basic fitness concepts and then I can get on with other important things in my life. As MAS likes to say, it’s about return on investment.

    One of the curious things in American society is the complete distain for experts in some quarters. And not in the sense of a healthy skepticism about any proclamations earned from experience “bread is the worst thing I could eat, really?”. For some it’s as though these experts, who have spent lifetimes studying their field, could have intellectual circles run around them by somebody who spends a little spare time reading a few blogs. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that paleo circles are full of libertarians, there’s a common ‘obvious’ answer that both have to inherently complicated problems.

  11. @Skyler – I have turned comments off on a handful of posts. “Rejecting the Naked Warrior” and “My Bench Press Sucks and I Don’t Care” come to mind. Everything that could be said had. All I was getting was boastful brotards repeating the same nonsense over and over again.

    The majority of commenters provide value.

    @Karl – It has been a while since I did a contrarian post. 🙂

  12. Why do some sites refer to HIT as rapid interval-style workouts (like ‘stations’ day in P.E.), while others, like Drew Baye make HIT sound more like the Body By Science protocol? I’m getting confused…

  13. @Rita – Some sites use HIT when they really mean HIIT. Sometimes the more popular HIIT drops an “I”.

  14. Hey, just want to say thanks. I’m pretty careful about picking up new regimes for back care as most don’t pay off. I’ve had back issues flair up pretty badly at points, the most recent picking up a heavy backpack before boarding a plane. Done the egoscue’s on and off for a decade, it works really well but I just don’t find it sustainable. The progressive groin stretch is incredible but so is the amount of time it takes up. The 11 minute video is definitely doable although I find I do alternate between the full 11 mins and a shorter version. I’m a long way from sedentary but do spend more time on my butt that I’d like ( more truthfully, I like being on my butt, but it’s not good for me.) Having done the Foundation for 6 weeks I’m now confident it works.
    I’d love to know if you’ve explored any of the functional movement programs that deliberately move the body out of alignment and what you’ve found to be safe. I studied and taught Astanga for ten years but got tired of being in low levels of pain all the time. Your thoughts on ‘survivorship’ really ring true for me, it’s incredible just how unsafe a lot of what gets pushed is. You probably haven’t come across this but, within Astanga at least, injuries were often celebrated as ‘openings’. Total bullocks in my opinion!
    Just wanted to say thanks, this combined with my new fascination with coffee is all down to you.

  15. @Michael – Glad to hear FT is working for you.

    I haven’t looked into Astanga or other programs that move your body out of alignment. SOunds like I shoudl stay clear of them!

  16. I got the Foundation book in the post today after reading your link on FTA recently. What a beautiful book – thank you for recommending. I did a yoga class yesterday which was more dance yoga / stretch / tai chi. Really interesting and weird. Feel sore today but in a good way. All movement helps stretch and energise the body.

  17. Oh and we did something that is very much like the windmill, it really is a good workout.

  18. @Pauline – Glad you liked Foundation!

  19. can someone post a video of the static windmill. seems interesting but i am not sure if i am doing it right.

  20. @chuck – go to the 9 minute mark here:

    Instead of doing reps, move slowly into a static hold. If you aren’t feeling it in your glute, adjust your stance until you do.

  21. I’d recommend these kind of chairs for eliminating problems caused by sitting.

  22. I’m sure Foundation Training is great but I found all that extension work aggravated the hell out my sacroiliac joints and made the pain worse. Had to stop. Parenthetically, supine hollow holds, various side lunges with PPT seem to help a lot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.