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Cueing the Arm Bar

Cueing the Arm Bar

In this post, I talk about how to properly cue the arm bar, and some steps you can take to get more out of this exercise.

4 Exercises To Keep You Feeling Young

When it comes to exercise - there are a few bang-for-your-buck exercises that will bullet proof your body and keep it feeling young for the years to come.  Until modern medicine figures something better out, it's safe to say these are the closest things to the fountain of youth we currently have. 

Here is a list of my top 4 exercises. When added to your program, these can help you build resilient tissues that can withstand whatever you throw their way.

 1) Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) - Part of the FRC system, CARs are the best thing since slice bread.  

CARs  are active, end range circular motions for a joint.  The reason why they make your body feel great is three fold.  

Quadruped Hip CARs 

  •  Movement is the body's best anti-inflammatory.  By constantly moving joints through all available range of motion, we continue to nourish the joint daily.
  • It allows us to maintain and expand our range of motion at a joint. By constantly taking our joints through full range of motion, we are able to maintain it.  One reason we lose mobility is because we don't spend any time there.  By doing CARs, we ensure that our joints are creating maximal movement - through the biggest circles we can possibly make - allowing us to hold onto our range of motion and even possibly expanding it. 
  •  CARs are a self assessment tool.  I think this is an extremely valuable aspect of CARs as it allows you to assess every joint in the body.  CARs can give you insight into when your joints may start becoming problematic; giving you insight into areas you need to address before pain/dysfunction is present. 

2) Turkish Get-Up - This is one of my favorite exercises because it promotes high levels of stability, mobility and strength and it's packaged into one power packed movement. 

Here are a few of the benefits that TGU's have to offer according to Brandon Hetzler:

  1. Promotes upper body stability
  2. Promotes lower body stability
  3. Promotes reflexive stability of the trunk and extremities
  4. Promotes cross lateralization (getting right brain to work with left side)
  5. Ties the right arm to the left leg, and left arm to the right leg
  6. Gets the upper extremities working reciprocally (legs, too)
  7. Stimulates the vestibular system (one of three senses that contributes to balance)
  8. Stimulates the visual system (second of three senses that contributes to balance)
  9. Stimulates the proprioception system (third sense that contributes to balance)
  10. Promotes spatial awareness
  11. Develops a front/back weight shift
  12. Develops upper body strength, trunks strength, and hip strength

If you aren't sold yet on why the TGU will keep you feeling young into your 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's and beyond - take a look at this study by Claudio Gil Araujo from Brazil.  The study said being able to stand up from a seated position on the ground was remarkably predictive of physical strength, flexibility, coordination at a range of ages. 

3) Carries - You have to give an exercise some major thought when Dan John categorizes it as one of the fundamental human movements: push, pull, hinge, squat, loaded carries and the sixth movement. 

When loaded properly farmers carries are an excellent exercise for core strengthening.  It is an easy to learn exercise that challenges your endurance, strength, stability and grip strength.  The ability to carry heavy loads gets our core to create super-stiffness.  Dr. Stuart McGill describes this super-stiffness as - the sum of the forces of all the muscles contracting is greater then what any individual muscle can provide.  This teaches you to build true strength that will aide you for any endeavor you wish to attempt. 

4) KB Swing - This exercise develops power in the hinge position.  Why is power important?  As you age, power decreases - so swinging consistently can help you maintain a power packed punch as you age - not to mention, allow you to improve your overall performance, strength, and endurance. 

What's even better than that?  The kettlebell swing is extremely beneficial for your lower back.  Having a flying bell not directly attached to your body forces your glutes, lats and core to work hard in order to control the bell.  This overall synergy of muscles will help keep your spine strong for years to come, as well as help you rehab from lower back injuries. 

Add these four exercises into your programs on a monthly basis and reap the benefits of better strength and performance; all while keeping pain at bay - even as you age. 

Move Well, Stay Strong.

 

Course Review: Optimizing the Big 3

A few weeks ago, I attended a seminar on optimizing the big three (bench press, squat and deadlift) at Cressey Sports Performance in Hudson, Massachusetts.  Greg Robins and Tony Bonvechhio are two smart dudes and offered a ton of value. 

Greg and Tony's seminar is geared towards the powerlifter but did a great job making this applicable to all walks of life.  I am by no means a powerlifter, yet I love to use the big three in my workouts and in my clients programming.  

The information provided gave me greater insight into the programming and cueing of these exercises.  The best part of the seminar is the hands on portion - in which we actually got to lift and get coached by both Greg, Tony and Miguel.  Getting insight into your bad habits as a lifter, as well as watching them coach several others gives you invaluable education you can't get elsewhere. 

I highly recommend anyone interested in powerlifting or weight training, whether a trainer or someone who is an avid fan of exercises - this is a must course.

Here are some take aways from the seminar:

When it comes to program design for any client, powerlifter or not, you must address the needs of the lifter.  What are the prerequisite movements to be successful at the exercise?  What limitations do the currently have?  What's their training age? etc..

Secondly, when it comes to programming the big three, there are three things we must take into consideration.

  1. They are all saggital plane movements
  2. They are all bilateral movements
  3. They are all extension based movements

Therefore, constant programming of these lifts will create postural and movement changes due to the repetitive nature and loading of these patterns

Greg and Tony talk about a great concept called "covering your basis". Due to the facts above, we address the repetitive nature of these exercises through corrective exercises and our warm-ups.

I have already been a proponent of using the warm-up to address movement concerns of the athlete at hand so this was music to my ears. Having a warm-up designed to prepare the body for the demands of that day is key to owning that session. 

Start from the ground up using a few drills to address movement concerns and prep for the major workouts of the day.  For example, work on scap stability or thoracic extension before bench press.  

Technique is the one thing as coaches that we have control over.  So not learning how to coach and cue is doing a disservice to your clients or yourself. They mention that "crappy technique puts a ceiling on your training."  This is absolutely vital. Poor technique not only puts a ceiling on training, but causes bad habits and increases chance for injury.  Learn how to coach these well, so you can set your clients and yourself up for success in the future. 

  1. Bench 
    • Bar and wrist over elbows 
    • Leg Drive 
      • If you use a flat footed stance, your leg drive is similar to pushing yourself up the bench.
      • If you prefer heels up, then your leg drive is trying to drive your feet into the ground and squeezing the bench with your thighs.
      • The leg drive serves a couple of purposes.  One, to develop more power throughout the entire body.  Two, to assist in maintaining your bar path.
    • Pull your shoulder blades into your back pockets.  This will add more passive stability to the shoulders, but also will help you maintain your thoracic extension - which is crucial to shortening the motion and maintaining bar path. 
  2. Deadlift 
    • Bar lined up over shoe strings
    • Arm pits in front of bar
    • Wedge yourself into the bar
      • What this means is that you are trying to take tension out of bar.  In order to do so you pull the weight of the bar off the floor by dropping your butt and raising your chest.  Once you feel the bars weight in your back, you know you're ready to drive through the floor.  
  3. Squat
    • Greg and Tony used two terms to describe your squat technique:
      • Don't be a stripper
      • And Don't Pop-Lock and Drop - but rather Lock, Drop and Pop
    • What this means is you don't want to arch your back on the decent.  You want to maintain a belt buckle up, ribs down posture throughout the entire set.  So, A - lock in the torso position, B - drop into the bottom of the squat and C - pop back to the top.

Another thing they mention, and I think we all forget this often, is fitness is dependent on the goal/sport at hand.  A golfer and a Cross-fitter require two very different training stimuli to reach their goal.  But does a golfer need to be crushed by a Workout of the Day (WOD) everyday in order to effectively hit a ball 300 yards down a fairway?  No, it can actually hinder their performance.  Point being, know your athlete and find their goals, and as Dan John says "keep the goal the goal."

All in all, this seminar blew away my expectations and I highly recommend you attend.  The work done at CSP is top notch and you can learn a lot from these fine gentlemen. 

Move Well, Stay Strong

 

How To Instantly Become More Productable

I always feel as if I am never productive enough. At the end of the day there is always something left on my to-do list, and before I know it, I have achieved almost nothing done.  My days always feel very busy, but my to-do list always seems to stay un-checked.  I have tried many times to overcome this, but all have failed - until now. 

I just recently read an amazing book called the Perfect Day Formula by Craig Ballentyne.  In a nut shell, the book is about helping you maximize your productivity so you can get your work done and still have time for the things you love. 

One message the book conveys to it's readers is how to take control of your mornings in order to increase your productivity. By doing so you can tackle tasks first thing in the morning while energy levels are at their highest and before your day distracts you. Craig states, to do this, simply wake up 15 minutes earlier and undertake any responsibilities that will lead you to your big goal.  

When I first read this, I thought Craig was deranged.  I am not a morning person by any means. For the first 30 minutes of the day I can barely function.  My typical morning begins with the the snooze button and continues on my couch where I drowsily scroll through social media. Before I realize it, I am behind in my morning routine and have to rush out the door. 

Nevertheless, I decided to give this a try.  

My first day trying this I woke up at 5:00 am instead of 5:15, while at the same time swearing off social media for the first hour of the day.  

This combination added 30 minutes of free time to my morning and improved my productivity.

Now I write blogs, read or get any other work done that needs to get done for the day.  I'm completing the tasks that I used to constantly run out of time to do on a regular basis.  I am closer to hitting my goal of investing in the stock market which takes research and time to initiate. 

If you want to instantly become more productive so you can complete tasks you constantly struggle to find time doing (HEP, writing a book etc...) you should wake up 15 minutes earlier than you do today.  Combo this with not touching your phone for an hour and you will be able to accomplish more each day then you thought was possible. 

Move Well, Stay Strong.