strength

The One Arm Push-Up

The One Arm Push-Up

In today's post, I discuss how to improve your one arm push-up, as well as some tips and drills that will help you master this body weight exercise. 

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 5: Mobility For the Front Squat

Tune-Up Tuesday - Episode 5: Mobility For the Front Squat

In this episode of Tune-Up Tuesday, we have Dr. Clinton Lee here to teach us a quick and easy mobility drill that will help you improve your front squat.

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.

Move Better Installment No. 2: Controlled Articular Rotations

Move Better Installment No. 2: Controlled Articular Rotations

This blog post is a follow up to last weeks post on CARs.  Learn how to correctly perform shoulder and hip CARs - as well as some key points needed to effectively perform Controlled Articular Rotations.

Controlled Articular Rotations

Controlled Articular Rotations

Controlled Articular Rotations (CARs) have been all the rage lately.  This is because they offer many benefits to your body.  Want to move better?  Have decreased pain levels?  Prevent loss of mobility as you age?  Want to decrease your risk of injury? Then CARs are for you!

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.

 

Is Squatting Right For You?

 

 

Do you struggle with your squat technique?  

Is it difficult to get to the bottom of the squat?

Do your feet turn out at a certain depth?

Do you experience early butt wink?

Do squats cause you pain or stiffness?

 Have you plateaued? 

In my experience, many people begin exercising or attempt a new fitness goal (such as running a marathon or doing a handstand) without the proper prerequisite movement required to do said task.  

The squat may seem like a basic movement (I mean we learn how to do it as a baby), but many people train the squat and can't do a good one with their body weight. 

If this is you, there are 2 areas you should focus your mobility training on to ensure you can get "ass to grass":

1) Hip Flexion - In order to get parallel or lower in your squat, you need adequate hip flexion range of motion.  If you cannot actively flex your hip a minimum of 90 degrees, and preferably a hell of a lot more, then you will struggle squatting. 

Why does it need to be active?  

Lack of active control means you are unable to control that part of a range of motion.  If you go lower then what you can actively control you will be supported by passive structures (ie. ligaments and tendons and not your muscles.)  This will cause you to have to compensate to finish the movement.  

Try this drill to improve your hip flexion. 

  • Pull your knee actively towards your chest.
  • Put your hands on your knees.
  • Push your knee into your hands as hard as you can (resist with your hands and don't let your leg move).
  • Hold the contraction for 10 seconds.
  • After 10 seconds, pull your knee into your chest (without the help of your hands) for 10 more seconds.
  • Repeat this process 2-3 times.

2) Ankle Dorsiflexion - When descending into a squat our ankles go into dorsiflexion (lifting your foot up towards your shin bone).  If there is a limitation here, you will have to compensate in order to get deep into your squat.  

Here are some signs of lack of dorsiflexion: early butt wink, turning out your feet, trunk falling forward and/or your knees pointing inward.  

How much dorsiflexion do you need? About 5 inches.  Check out my blog post here about how to test and improve your ankle mobility. 

If these areas are severely limited, you shouldn't load your squat.  There are plenty of other exercises out there that can help you attain a training effect.

By improving these two aspects of your mobility, you will see improved movement capabilities and better ability to squat.  This will allow you to safely and efficiently squat so you can continue to build upon your fitness goals.

Move Well, Stay Strong!

Touching Your Toes. Are Your Hamstrings Too Tight?

Can't touch your toes? It's probably because you have always had tight muscles, or you have gotten too old.  

When you were a child you were able to touch your toes, squat perfectly and move in all sorts of ways you no longer can.  This is not because you have gotten older that you lost your movement patterns, but rather we get stiff and tight because we sit down and stop moving. For many it can start with school. 

BabySquat.jpeg

There are multiple reasons why someone would lose the ability to touch their toes.  The two most common are mobility (the ability to move your joints freely throughout a full ROM) and motor control (timing, stabilization and coordination of movement) issues.  

That being said the ability to touch your toes is usually NOT a hamstring tightness problem.  

Muscles can often have the perception of tightness when poor movement patterns exist, or when there is a lack of stability to an area. In the case of the toe touch, if your body feels unstable while trying to bend forward and touch your toes, it will activate the hamstrings and lumbar extensors to protect and limit the movement.  This is when you "feel" that your hamstrings are tight.  

Touching our toes is an essential movement that we NEED to be able to do if one plans to be active.  Whether it is running, deadlifting, squatting, sports, hiking or anything else in the spectrum of movement.  If you can not touch your toes, dysfunction is present.  

Common Flaws:

1) Decreased active straight leg raise (ASLR):

  • Will prevent you from touching your toes.
  • Impede your ability to hip hinge either bilaterally or unilaterally. 
  • Affect your running stride

2) Decreased ability to posteriorly weight shift.

3) Decreased ability to flex the spine while bending forward. 

The video presents 3 simple ways to improve your toe touch.  If none of them improve it, or worse cause pain take it upon yourself to have it looked at by a trained professional (either a physical therapist or personal trainer).  If they do help, well enjoy touching your toes!  

Leave a comment down below on your experiences being able to, or not able to touch those feet. 

 

 

 

Four Hacks to the Turkish Get Up

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a highly technical exercise that requires attention to detail for proper execution.  Last week I wrote about how to properly perform the TGU, you can read that here.  This week I will take this a step further and discuss 4 common technique flaws and how you can fix them. 

 

1) Set Up -

During the set up, we want to have enough space to work with.  I often see people set up with their legs too close together.  This decreases your base of support, making you less stable and increases the difficulty of the first step (see number 2 below). 

2) Leg Kicks Up -

This happens when we do not produce enough tension during the initial step or if you are using too much weight.

3) Misplacing the Moving Leg -

During each stage of the get up, there are optimal places to put your extremities so all your joints are properly aligned.  Often times people put their legs in places that decrease their base of support which makes this exercise harder.

4) Not Hinging From the Hips -

When people are reversing their get up, people often have difficulty with the transition from 1/2 kneeling position to placing the hand on the floor.  People like to bend from their spine and flop to the floor.  You must maintain your core stiffness and push your hips out to the side.  This keeps the spine in a strong position and trains hip mobility in the frontal plane.

Try some of these quick fixes and let me know in the comments section below if they were helpful.   

 

Feel Better In 5 Minutes A Day

If I told you that in 5 minutes a day you could decrease pain, increase energy levels, and decrease stiffness in muscles and joints, would you do it?

Is this some sort of magic pill that will make you feel like you just drank from the fountain of youth? No, not quite. The "pill" I speak of is what I like to call movement variability.

Movement variability is defined as, "repetitive movement that is not repetitive" (insert confused emoticon here).  To simplify this definition, you should simply move in ways that are different than what you are currently accustomed to. 

For most people, sitting at a desk is a reoccurring stimulus on an everyday basis. For marathon runners, this repetitive movement is constant running in one direction without ever moving within any other planes of motion.  Over time as we continue to load the same patterns over and over, pain can develop due to multiple factors.  If we spent time moving with variety throughout the day it is possible that both our perception of tightness and pain can be diminished.

Here's the crazy part. 

In order to start moving and feeling better, all you need to start with is five minutes of movement.  For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know that I love Max Shank's 5 Minute Flow.  I've done this since June and honestly feel better now than I did in my college days.  Since initiating in a daily five minute flow, I've dramatically decreased pain in my lower back. I feel much more limber and mobile throughout the day, which has boosted my confidence when lifting weights. I also feel more energized to start my day, after just five minutes of free and random movement!

Max Shank states that you should, "move for five minutes in a way that gently pushes your flexibility but keep moving.  Don't worry if you get stuck somewhere, retrace your steps while you think of the next movement.  If you're into martial arts or yoga throw your own blend of that together."

Everyone can find five minutes in their day, whether it be in the morning, during a lunch break or sometime in the evening.  If you claim to not have time to flow, you need to take a better look as to why you really are not doing this. Not having time is an underlying translation for, "I don't want to do it." Give it a chance, I promise you, in just a few days, you'll feel like you're reliving your youth.

HOW TO:

  1. Set a Timer for 5 minutes. If you have a favorite song that's exactly five minutes, use it.
  2. Find an open space where you don't have to worry about banging into tables, or having anything fall on you.
  3. Just move continuously. Do any stretches, mobility drills or yoga poses for 5 minutes straight. The only rule is to constantly move. 
  4. Commit to 30 days.  Try it for 30 days, see how you feel, and keep doing it afterwards if it makes a positive change. 

Below is a 5 minute example.  The video is time lapsed, if you would like to see a full version you can click here

Get your Joe Flow on and let me know how you feel in the comments section below.