Tim Anderson on Rolling Techniques to Move Better, Improve Gait, and “Connect the X” of the Body

Categories: In The News May 05, 2022

Today’s episode features Tim Anderson.  Tim is the co-owner of the Original Strength Institute, and has been a personal trainer for over 20 years.  He has written and co-written many books on human performance including The Becoming Bulletproof Project, Habitual Strength, Pressing RESET, and Original Strength Performance. When it comes down to it, his message is simple yet powerful: We were created to feel good and be strong throughout life.

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It is because of Tim that I’ve developed a fascination with crawling, and largely, a fascination with bodyweight training in general.  So often, our thought on bodyweight training is one that revolves around ways to produce copious amounts of muscle tension, such as in gymnastics, which is great, and do so in volumes that can produce slabs of muscle.  At the same time, bodyweight training is much more than simply looking for alternative ways to seek hypertrophy.  Training with one’s bodyweight allows for a variety of reciprocal movement actions, where energy is stored and released, transmitting itself through the hands, spine, pelvis and feet.  Training with one’s bodyweight also allows us to hone on rudimentary and reflexive movement skills, such as crawling.

Tim appeared on episode #154 of the podcast, talking about the power of crawling and reflexive movement.  On the tail end of that show, Tim discussed rolling for a few minutes, but I wanted to get him back to dig more thoroughly into that topic.

On today’s show, Tim goes into the benefits of rolling, and how he progresses and instructs it for his clients.  He speaks about rolling on the level of the vestibular system, joint rotation (particularly internal rotation), the gait cycle, sensation and awareness, and more.  At the end of the show, we talk about modulating speeds and rhythms in ground-work, and finally, Tim gets into how his own personal workouts and training have progressed over time, and how rolling plays an important part of his own daily strength routine.


Timestamps and Main Points:

3:28 – The purpose of rolling for human performance, and how Tim progresses it for clients


7:09 – The possibility of rolling to improve balance, coordination and dexterity through stimulation of the vestibular system


13:46 – Tim’s description of segmental rolling and how to progress it over time


23:30 – How much rolling Tim prescribes for various clients and individuals


26:53 – The specific elements in the process of rolling that helps to “connect the X” of the torso


32:21 – Ideas on using rolling or similar connective movements between more intensive main training sets


39:17 – How Tim looks at rolling and similar movements in light of their capacity to help improve internal rotation in individuals


46:44 – Addressing various speeds or rhythms to training movements


50:27 – What Tim’s early workouts looked like, and what his training has transitioned to now that he has gotten into his Original Strength workouts


58:29 – Ideas on super-slow crawling and the benefits of controlled bodyweight movement


1:04:02 – What the head and eye position should be like in the course of rolling


“Our skin is our largest tactile organ, and when we roll, we are stimulating the skin a lot”

“If you could imagine that your body is a sponge, and everything out there is information; so when you are rolling on the ground, you are trying to take that sponge and soak in the information everywhere”

“If we do these three things, we’ll more than likely stay healthy throughout our lives: The first one is breath properly with your diaphragm, nasal breathe, keep the tongue on the roof of your mouth.  The second is aggravate your vestibular system, and you can do that through eye and head rolling, things like that, and the third is to activate your gait pattern”

“When you add in the extra information that the brain is not getting that the nervous system is looking for; it really takes the brakes off of everything”

“A roll should look graceful and beautiful; a lot of people look like a log, they move like one whole piece, rather than a piece at a time”

“It’s the soft stuff that allows you to do the hard stuff better, safer, more free”

“If the body is a big “X” and when we roll, a great way to do it is to take your right shoulder towards your left hip”

“People want to do things too fast, most of the time I am trying to get them to slow down”

“I love using slow movements to fill in the gaps so people can demonstrate full control over how their body moves”

“When people really have control over their body, fast movement still looks beautiful”

“I spend every morning, 30-40 minutes rolling around, or rocking on the floor”

“In my regiment, super-slow crawling is a part of it, and it is literally how slow can I crawl and control every facet of the ground.  And sometimes only two limbs are on the ground for a long time”

“When a child is rolling, they have an intention (something they are reaching for)”

“We try to teach crawling in a way where if a leopard is crawling, it should look beautiful, so if a human is crawling, it should look just as beautiful”

“What you are seeing at the zoo is the truth of movement, while what you are seeing at the gym is the well-intentioned, misguided, notion of exercise”

Show Notes

Segmental Rolling

About Tim Anderson

Tim is the co-founder of Original Strength, and has been a personal trainer for over 20 years. He is an accomplished author and speaker and is known for streamlining complex ideas into simple and applicable information. He is passionate about helping people realize they were created to be strong and healthy.

Tim has written and co-written many books on this subject including The Becoming Bulletproof Project, Habitual Strength, Pressing RESET, and Original Strength Performance. When it comes down to it, his message is simple yet powerful: We were created to feel good and be strong throughout life.

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