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Getting to Overhead Pressing

 

Today I wanted to share a quick breakdown of how we progress to pressing overhead.

A lot of our overhead athletes have difficulty owning the overhead position so we use a variety of methods to help get them there.  We start by reducing the amount of motor control that they need to use by putting them in a tall kneeling position.  This allows them to focus on what the torso is doing.  We also will use the landmine apparatus before they go straight overhead.  This allows them to continue to get strong before they’re truly able to own the overhead position.

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Hang Clean Progressions

Here is a quick video on how we coach athletes to get to a proper hang clean.

If we have a novice athlete in our facility, we generally try and teach them the hang clean first, however, if they aren’t able we will regress.  We will focus on using triple extension, then move to triple extension with the arms, then put it all together over the course of a training block.  These exercises are also great for athletes who do not want to use the hang clean because they’re under the impression that they aren’t good for them.

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Exercises You Love to Hate

We all have an exercise or two that we absolutely hate doing in the gym.  You see it on your program and immediately you want to go back into the locker room, change, and leave because of some made up 24-hour disease you make up to avoid doing that one exercise.  If only there was a way to add an exercise into the one you hate to make it a little more tolerable.

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Hmm…

So, I try to convince you all that you need this particular exercise.  It is something that you’re not good at, and you can’t always just do the things that you’re good at.  If you only do the things that you’re good at here then you’ll develop imbalances, pain, potentially long term injury.  Which is inevitably met with, “I know, but I still don’t like it”.

Unanimously, the Assault or Airdyne sprints are the least favorite.  Personally, I don’t mind the Assault bike, I will choose it as a preferred method of aerobic work because I don’t enjoy running mostly (unless it is after a ball).  I’ve heard it been called a number of different names with words consisting of “death” and “machine”.  I’ll stop and ask why people don’t like it and all I get in return is a shrug of the shoulders or no real reason at all.  I understand, if you told me to run for a prolonged period of time I wouldn’t really be too pleasant about it.  Even sprints, no thanks.

Split squats and rear foot elevated/bulgarian split squats are pretty high up on that list too.

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Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat

Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with RFE split squats.  I know they’re good for me, I know that I am getting stronger, I can readily see that carryover to performance in other lifts and sprint performance, but they absolutely wipe me out.  I’m virtually junk after doing these.  So the idea of doing anything else afterward is absolutely demoralizing.  Especially if I were to do some sort of HIIT–forget it.  But, like I said, it is a necessary evil. 

There are a few others that I get the mysterious 2 hour sickness report on.  What does everybody else say?

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Passion Fruit

No, this isn’t a plug for a new Drake track.  It is, however, another installment of the exotic fruit segment.  If you’re not familiar yet, I have a strange fascination with trying new foods when I go to the store, more particularly exotic fruit because I can have it at work as a snack.  Simply walk in the store, find the most bizarre thing that I haven’t tried before, buy it (or have the gf do it for me).

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Leah packed another gem recently, passionfruit.  This one is a little more messy to deal with so I suggest a spoon, bowl, and of course a knife.  At first glance it doesn’t seem like much, just a little green ball.  The more shriveled.., the more ripe.  There was more to the description there, but not very P.C.  Cut the thing in half and you get a neon goop that you scoop out.  It’s a very unique flavor, tart to say the least, but I personally like that sort of thing.

 

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Alright, it tastes good but what else?  It is a sweet treat having less than 100 Calories if you count those things.  Mostly consisting of sugar and fiber, but keep it context related here.  Natural sugar from fruit isn’t the same as an Oreo.  Contains a number of micronutrients like, Vitamin A, a few B, C, K also calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus to name just a few.

 

I guess there are a couple different kinds.  As long as they taste similar I’m good.  I would definitely enjoy this more at home than to look like a slob at work.

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Core is more than a 6 Pack

There are certain things in the strength and conditioning/personal training field that make you cringe every time you hear them.  Core is toward the top of that list, however, sometimes living in cliche phrases is what we need to do in order to communicate better with our patients/clients.

To better define what it is, let’s describe what connects to it.

First and foremost, when we think of the core, we think of the 6 pack–known as the rectus abdominus.  The muscle is essentially a sheet that connects the front portion of your ribs to the front of you pelvis.  It gets it’s shape from a central tendon–linea alba–and tendons that run horizontally from there.

But, if that was all there was, we would be in trouble.  We have external obliques, internal obliques, and transverse abdominus that all band together to create a lattice of protection.  This is great, because without this protection we would basically rupture our internal organs housed in the area.

If we all addressed the strength and endurance of this area we would probably all be a little better off.  However, that is definitely not all that represents the core.  We have these fancy postural muscles that help hold us upright.  Commonly referred to the erector spinae group which is composed of three different pairs of muscles along the spine.  There are little tiny muscles that run between each vertebra in the spine, there is the QL, which runs from the hips to the lower ribs.  There is the iliopsoas group that runs from the lower spine to the hips.  One of the bigger players, I feel, is the lats.  They run from the upper arm and course all the way down to the hips.  They can create shoulder stability and a great extension moment in the spine.

Clearly, it is difficult to find balance.  Any imbalance, if great enough, will create movement dysfunction and surely pain.  In my experience, the majority of kids coming in can’t do a pull up or even some sort of inverted row which is essentially a lesser version.  They also present with a great amount of anterior tilt showing that their abs probably aren’t working all that well.  How do they conquer gravity then?

When taking part in a workout program, especially in the lower training ages (you haven’t worked out in a couple of months) then make sure to keep it semi balanced.  Realize that all your big lifts essentially have an extension moment on the spine, really requiring those meaty lats to hold down the fort.  I would encourage you to find some sort of flexion moment at the trunk level.

Please leave any feedback below!

 

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I Thought Trunk Flexion was Bad?

I was sitting down the other day writing some programs out and got to thinking, which is usually dangerous.  Fortunately, my head didn’t explode.  Instead, I was thinking about how I like to program–balanced.  For a general population, I’ll make sure to keep the pushes and pulls pretty even, accounting for volume and intensity.  The knee dominant and hip dominant variety also remains pretty equal.  Of course we have to take into account how the individual presented in the assessment piece, but keeping things simple, that’s how it generally looks.

If I see an individual come in with downwardly rotated shoulders that are painful or not painful (without going into the physical therapy), I’ll start thinking that giving that individual some exercises to encourage upward rotation would be a good thing so that I can get them back to neutral.

Bottom line: if I can keep opposition/apposition balanced, things will be all good.

Now, let’s cannonball right into this rabbit hole.  Think about all those hip hinge and knee dominant exercises, those bench presses and those rowing patterns.  We are just encouraging extension.  Even if you consider the corrective exercises that you may or may not sprinkle into the program, extension of some sort…usually.  In fact, trunk flexion has such a negative stigma attached to it.  It was a witch hunt for a while I think.

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Most Basic Extension Pattern

Who doesn’t love deadlifts?  They’re tremendously basic, reinforce movement patterns for the future for jumping or olympic lifting.  Conventional, sumo, RDL, trap bar, single leg–so much variety.  But, they’re still extension in it’s most basic form.

So now what, just do crunches?  Not exactly.  We can still think smarter when it comes to this whole flexion thing.

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Rarely do I wear white sox, don’t judge

Taken straight from the “smarter people than me” playbook, the reverse crunch. Here you are getting some external oblique (because of the line of pull), rectus abdominus, and of course transverse abdominus.  We can further challenge the exercise by getting rid of the wall or weight to hold on.  Those pesky internal obliques are left out which is something beyond the scope of this article.

This is just one option.  There are a number of different exercises you can place in here to combat the constant stress of extension.

Add your favorite.

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Like Exotic Fruit?

So I got packed a lunch again, like the twelve year old I am, by my girlfriend.  I always enjoy it because there will inevitably end up having a huge surprise.  It’s basically like Christmas every day.  Today was pretty awesome, and had all my coworkers asking, “what is that?”

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Enter Cherimoya.

Besides having it packed, I was also sent a text message with “how to” instructions as well as the health benefits.

It was really easy to eat believe it or not.  Cut it in half and take apart chunks whenever you want a new piece, it basically pulls apart into nice chunks.  Don’t eat the seeds.  Enjoy.

This banana/coconut tasting fruit is high in Vitamin C as well as a number of B vitamins.  It has a fair amount of iron, and since it is a fruit, a good amount of fiber.  It apparently has more mineral weight compared to other fruits containing copper, magnesium, potassium, and manganese.

Bottom line, it is quick and easy to eat, tastes great, and is apparently pretty good for you too.  Bring a napkin and something to spit the seeds into.  I didn’t eat the skin, and didn’t see anything saying you couldn’t but since it reminded me of dragon skin I felt it was better not to.

I haven’t thought of putting a cherimoya into anything as far as recipes go.  If anyone else has insight please share.

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Two Things That Anyone Can Make Better

A common denominator for anyone and everyone walking in the door of our facility is a lack in strength or stability in particular areas of the body.  Aesthetically, people want to know if they’ll get bigger (insert body part here), but realistically, two that are tremendously important should get better.  Without further adieu, here they are:

1. Anterior Core

Almost everyone I see is tremendously weak here.  It becomes even more clear when you ask someone to perform a simple push up.  They literally just hang on the ligaments of the spine.  How have you made it this far in life without learning how to perform a proper push up???

When I say anterior core, I’m referring to the portion known anatomically as rectus abdominus.  Fancy latin.  It connects the front portion of the ribs to the pelvis and when contracting forces the hips into a posterior pelvic tilt.  Not always great to be in that position, but with proper opposition/apposition it is fairly balanced to our normal 13 degrees of anterior pelvic tilt.

When this is weak, you see a lot of extra anterior pelvic tilt.  Your body just hangs out on whatever it knows will create stability…ligaments of your hips and spine.  Is it any wonder that we have soo much low back pain!?

Strengthen the abs, it will help create stability.  It isn’t the only answer as there are a few other abdominal muscles that are needed to help create that apposition we are looking for (different topic for a different day).

2. Buttcheeks

This is something that we work on almost every day in the facility.  To create almost all athletic motion, you need the glutes.  When developed, they can also have an aesthetic side to them too.

Glutes are great players in power, stability, multi direction motion.  We all have a gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, and gluteus minimus.  The hip joint (where the femur articulates with the acetabulum of the pelvis) also has a great deal of mobility, three planes actually.  Contracting here will create an external rotation element on the femur (thigh) as well as an extension moment.  It can create stability to the pelvis in a closed chain contraction taking shear off the low back.  And it gives us great power and push off in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes of motion.

The right side is usually a little weaker, again, different conversation for a different day.

This is anecdotal at best on my part.  When we screen our athletes and adults though, we see this to be consistent across the board.  Maybe it is indigenous to the Merrimack Valley, but I highly doubt it.  Let me know what you think by leaving a reply below.

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Quick Snack at Work

By total mistake, my gf picked up some tasty yumskins at the store for me.  Of course, I asked her to pick up a variety of fruits and veggies to nibble on throughout the week, and she came through on the clutch.  If left to my own devices, I tend to stick strictly to the same variety.  But, on this glorious day at snack time, I dug into a treat known as Goldenberry.  It tastes great, so it got me thinking, “how good is it really?”

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Golden Berry

Turns out, it is a good source of Vitamin A (Beta Carotene), a couple of the B vitamins, Vitamin C, as well as some other important micronutrients.  In terms of macronutrients, it is composed mostly of carbohydrates (fructose), but also has a little bit of proteins and fats.  Most importantly, for you calorie-counters out there, 3.5oz/100g is approximately 53 calories.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Outdoor Training in Cold Weather

It has been asked of me lately what my opinion is on training in the cold weather, or what precautions need to be taken to train outdoors in the winter months?  So here we go…

Aside from the nutrition and recovery side of things, there are certain things to consider when working in the cold.  First and foremost, don’t be a mouth breather.  You look ridiculous for lack of a better statement, and you’re setting yourself up for getting sick.

When you take a deep breath in through your nose, there is a particular pathway that the air must travel that is actually a longer route than straight through your mouth.  This gives the air a chance to heat up and become a little more humid, something that you’re lungs will appreciate.  Not only that, your nasal passageway has mucus and hairs that will trap particles creating a nice little filter for you.

That’s well and good when you’re just walking or standing around, but what if you start running–if you’re into that sort of thing–or moving things around or skiing/snowboarding?

Sure, you’ll have to breathe through your mouth just to keep up with the demands of the working muscles.  Of course it is always suggested to breathe in through your  nose, but let’s be realistic for a sec.  I’ve tried it, anecdotally, and can’t seem to be able to do it for a long period of time without thinking my heart is going to pop or my head explode.  Therefore, I wouldn’t expect any of my athletes to do it either.

Most people on the mountain wear ski masks.  This serves multiple purposes 1. protects your face from sub zero weather and wind 2. creates a barrier from mouth breathing.  Also why lumberjacks have beards, oddly enough, as I doubt they’re making a fashion statement.  There are also cold weather training masks you can purchase.  I myself received a fancy new ski mask that looks like a beard, 2 birds…

What else? In the past, people traditionally wore wool based clothing in the cold because it keeps you warm.  But, what about when you get really warm and start sweating? Then cool down?  The wool based material is now damp and you’re in a cold environment.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what that will lead to.  Having a material that will keep the heat in, but wick the moist out is ideal.  The military has done great research on environmental extremes.  This one is pretty solid–minus in the case of fire as the material seems to melt.  Wicking material covered by a thicker material is solid.  In some cases, they even make a coat or pants with the dry wicking material built in.  Possibly the most amazing thing ever.

Footwear? Wear boots that are pretty airtight. Duh.

Leave comments below.  I would love to hear some other perspective.