Guest Post, by Max Jones - CARS, Software and the Triathlete

Guest Post, by Max Jones - CARS, Software and the Triathlete

CARS, Software, and the Triathlete. 

Triathletes are concerned about working on the engine; the aerobic engine.  If we had to make the logic parallel to a car, we could say the framework would be the musculoskeletal system and the engine could be the cardiovascular system, cool? 

Triathletes and coaches alike are obsessed over the numerical parameters of the engine, HR, Lactate, time, Watts, KOM’s etc etc. That’s how we get faster right? If we make those numbers go up, times go down, and become more efficient, we get better? 

However, though the same compulsion is clearly lacking in the respect to the frame, the musculoskeletal system which essentially carries the “engine.”

Triathletes and endurance athletes that are still battling the taboo of weights or anything movement related that ISN’T triathlon training won’t get them better. It HAS come a long way, don't get me wrong, but the majority of the industry still has an issue of the return of investment for performance.  (ROI) 

To get the frame ready, there are some key components that can be condensed from a time standpoint to get the maximum ROI. Specifically I am talking about a movement system called FRC (Functional Range Conditioning). The basis of FRC is to develop better mobility, joint strength, and body control or stability.  Dr. Andreo Spina, the creator of this system, coins a major component to injury prevention is the simple logic that if a tissue is put under a stimulus, when it is not used to that stimulus, it will get injured. 

Triathlon injuries are primarily overuse injuries that occur when the “frame” moves in an incorrect way for an excessive amount of reps/ strokes/pedals/strides.  Ultimately, this will cause a loss of consistency or a drop in volume of training, most notably the dreaded “red,” on your Training Peaks account. 

The areas this article will focus on are the big three:  Shoulder, Hip, and Ankle.

Three different articles could be written on the importance of these three key joint areas for a triathlete.

We know the best way to perform better is to do something consistently, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Our man Aristotle said that awhile back. 

So these three movements should happen DAILY. The key to Dr.Spina’s system is joint health.  To get the biggest bang for your buck in moving better is: target the joints

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs). Think of a merry-go-round for your joints, or as Dr.Spina puts it, “Active rotational movements at the outer limits of articular rotation.”

Rotating your shoulder, hip, and ankle joint in its maximum VOLUNTARY range of motion with TENSION and CONTROL.


What’s the WHY? 

Think Computers.

Brain =Software

Body= Hardware

The joint capsule has the most communicator cells called Mechanoreceptors which essentially are communicators with the brain and the affected area. Mechanoreceptors provide feedback to the brain of what the joint is doing and moving the “hardware,” around in a fashion to update the “software,” in the brain.  

Rotational movements (hardware) provides a high level of neural feedback and updates the brain (software) very effectively. If you don't use it…well you know the rest.


1.      Pick an area that you want to do a CAR with. (Shoulder, Hip, Ankle.)

2.      Stabilize or contract all articulations (joints) in order to minimize movement in non-targeted areas. Simply flex your muscles! (Isometric contraction)

3.      Begin CAR

4.      Attempt to perform the largest rotational movement that the joint allows.

5.      GO SLOW, speed hides inefficiencies in movement. 






3 on the right and 3 on the left, per joint, per day, is a great start. If you are doing these correctly, and slowly enough, 3 on each side of the body is all you need.

Do these daily and hopefully you will have less of those dreaded reds or blanks in your training!

We typically have athletes doing these first thing in the morning and pre-activity.

Use these CAR’s as a movement diagnostic.  Triathletes use HR as a measurement of training preparedness, or a way to dictate training intensity for the day.  Use the same approach here. Once you become accustomed to how these are supposed to feel, then you can use them as a way to see how you are feeling. 

Happy training! 

This guest post was written by Max Jones: 

Max Jones is Movement and Performance coach at Anthem Fitness located in Las Vegas, Nevada. He has a Master’s degree in Kinesiology from University of Nevada, Las Vegas.  He is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Endurance coach.  Continuing education includes FRC, FMS, SFMA, ACE-CPT.






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