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CBD oil case study

One of the new trends lately is CBD oil which is a derivative of the cannabis plant that most people associate with marijuana.  If you look closely on the shelves of some of your grocery stores or even your favorite coffee shop you will find CBD infused items all over the place.  Curiosity got the cat, so I will try.

CBD is traditionally used to help people with certain DSM diagnoses that will relieve anxiety, pain, some movement disorders, and cognition.  The stuff that you buy in the store is without THC unless otherwise noted.  THC is the active ingredient in marijuana that creates the “high” effect.  So basically once you tell someone about CBD, you will also have to explain to them that there isn’t THC.  Potential side effects were listed, but the only ones that caught my eye was malaise and weakness.

As far as I know I don’t have any psychoactive issues.  I’m not trying to treat a self diagnosed version of anxiety or anything like that.  Believe it or not I personally have a difficult time falling asleep especially on Sunday night.  Whether it is because I stay up too late on Saturday night combined with the sleeping in that I sometimes do on Sunday morning, or if it is because I stay up mind racing with the things I need to get done at work the next day I will lay in bed restless.  I have a number of clients who have been taking CBD oil because someone told them that it may be good so I decided I would give it a try.

CBD
Dropper of CBD oil

Day 1

I actually woke up 40 minutes before my alarm went off after 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.  I felt wide awake and ready to go.  I hadn’t fallen asleep and stayed asleep like that for a while so that was refreshing.

Day 2

I fell asleep relatively quick this night, however, I worked late and had a late dinner so there was no waking up earlier than the alarm.  I actually resented my alarm going off and felt a little groggy until the afternoon.  Sleep quality was still really good.

Day 3

I worked even later on Tuesday night and had a really late dinner.  Not ideal, but it is my reality.  I woke up around 4 a.m. briefly, but made it back to sleep no problem.  I tallied about 6 hours of sleep and was pretty groggy all day Wednesday until the late afternoon.

Day 4

I fell asleep relatively quickly again.  I did wake up in the middle of the night again, but that may be a result of drinking too much water later on in the day.  My motivation to get things done in the afternoon dropped significantly until about 3 p.m., but remain pretty groggy.  Work ended around 6 p.m. and I was able to go home and relax which was welcoming.

Day 5

I had Friday off so I was able to get an extra hour of sleep followed by a relaxing morning.  I could take my time getting my morning tea without any pressing deadlines.  I was able to sit down and write a little and go out to run some errands and felt much better with the extra rest.  I did go to a Celtics game that evening with some work colleagues, but felt normal.

Celtics Game
Pretty awesome seats

In conclusion, the week trial revealed to me that maybe on Sunday night it is a good idea to get some CBD in for the sleep aid.  All-in-all it did feel better than taking melatonin all week, anecdotally.  I will most likely continue to use it especially on those Sunday nights.

 

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Thoughts on Olympic Cleans

There are plenty of ways to coach and teach the clean and for a variety of different reasons.  What I mean is that you have the hang clean, power clean, olympic clean, etc as well as different grip options, lead up options, and accessory exercises.  That’s a lot to consider when planning how to develop power in a particular individual.  Here I’ll try and talk my way through the thought process I use.

For the most part, my primary demographic has been high school and college athletes.  I have worked with some professional athletes as well as general population, however, the primary is high school/college athlete.

With this population, I am trying to increase expression of certain qualities as well as increase performance on tests.  When it comes to how the coaching staff views a particular player coming in to preseason, the tests they’re going to perform is the window they use.  If you can wow the coaches with performance on these tests, there is a good chance that the athlete you’ve been working with will see the field.  It must be stated (I can’t believe that it does) that if the player is hurt because of bad coaching/programming/etc then it doesn’t matter.  That athlete would be a moron to return to your facility.

The tests that I have to improve my athletes performance on is usually some sort of sprint test as well as some sort of jumping test as it applies to the use of an olympic clean.  Of course the athlete will improve with performing the exact test, but that’s not good enough.  Of course the athlete will improve the test as you improve sprinting technique and jumping technique, but that too is still not good enough.  This is where knowing a thing or two about exercise physiology/exercise science comes in handy.  This is the why of using olympic lifts or loaded jumps, and as it pertains to this particular article, the hang clean specifically.

Why a hang clean vs. a traditional olympic clean or power clean?

Clean start (front)
Clean finish (front) With proper hook grip and all

A power clean or traditional olympic clean both start from the floor and can be too technical for the novice.  My job isn’t to create olympic lifters, it is to create an expression of power with athletes.  If I want an athlete to pull from the floor, I’ll simply add a version of deadlifts into their program.  Also, I like to measure power because I’m a nerd, and like physics.  If my start position and my end position are the same for my hips, what is the total displacement?  Makes it a little easier to measure.

The traditional Olympic Clean requires an individual to lift as much weight as they can from the floor to their shoulders in an effort to get them ready to Jerk the bar overhead.  The bar really doesn’t move all that far as you’re trying to minimize the distance that the bar has to travel, making it a little less challenging.  Also, you have to have amazing hip mobility to do well with this activity.  As has been stated before by many a famous pop artist, “hips don’t lie”.

The power clean is a crazy spawn between the Olympic clean and the hang clean.  You take the bar from the floor to the rack position as fast as you can.  Typically, this turns into back injuries and disgusting mechanics.

Hang Clean start (side)
Notice the hips

Hang Clean finish (side)

 

Depending on the sport, there are a couple of ways to load the clean as well.  Traditionally for all sorts of lifting, we meat heads like to load the bar with as much weight as we can perform while still using good form.  In certain cases this isn’t warranted.  For non-contact athletes–think soccer, baseball, basketball, tennis, golf, etc–we don’t need to use a huge weight to elicit a response.  Instead, we are able to use as little 40 per cent of what they’re able to use to still get adaptation.  This will virtually be a total expression of power here where these athletes are cued to move the bar as fast as they can.

For contact sports, like hockey and football, we need to add a little weight.  They will still get the expression of power that the other athletes are getting, but they will also get weight acceptance which is huge.  Think about a 200 pound man hitting you into a wall at 25 miles per hour.  That’s the sort of weight acceptance that needs to be encouraged.  You can get a little fancy and do a heavy hang clean day and a light hang clean day as well.  Personally, I like to have my lighter hang cleans, and my compound clean varieties be in the offseason where I am trying to improve the wear and tear from the previous season as well as movement composition.  Then I’ll get heavier as the season comes into view.

Hang cleans promote triple extension–ankle, knee, hip–as well as fast movement.  So does sprinting, and so does jumping.  Get really good at the hang clean for your athletes and you’ll be giving them that extra edge that they need to improve over the rest of the field.

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New Year, Simple Start

It’s that time of year again.  Everyone is planning on doing the right thing and the gyms are starting to pick up.  Almost everyone you speak to is on the “keto diet” as of the first of the new year.  So many great intentions, so little sustainability.  Here’s a quick reference guide for the new year.

Diet

The word diet is more a statement of what you consistently consume as opposed to the 8 week fix that you’re about to embark on.  Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of the newest fad diet that will inevitably fail, choose the healthy option.  What exactly is the healthy option?  The technical answer is that it depends on a host of information that is impossible to answer in one generic blog post.  But, it is possible to give a generic outline that you can plug and play with. The following is  a simple cheat sheet that you can use that is a heck more sustainable that getting extreme.

For Ladies

To maintain your current bodyweight/body fat consume roughly 1 palm size portion of lean protein, 1 fist portion of veggies, 1 handful of starchy carbs, and 1 thumb of healthy fats/oils.  To drop bodyweight/body fat simply cut out some of the starches.

For the fellas

Double what the ladies consume.

For a more detailed list of healthy foods and complete food composition, check out Precision Nutrition’s website.

Sleep

Whatever you do, get appropriate amounts of sleep.  This isn’t always possible if you have newborns or crappy neighbors, but ultimately you should be able to your sleep pretty regularly.  I’ve made mention of this in the past with an entire article, but the jist of the information is that in order to progress you need your sleep.  There are a number of sleep aids out there.  Melatonin seems to be the simplest choice, but now CBD is jumping into the mix.  If you’ve read my material before and you’re still looking at your phone in bed before trying to sleep, why?  Blue light emission from your phone/tv/tablet/computer can inhibit melatonin production in your body for up to two hours.

Exercise

If you are currently working with a professional, continue to do so.  Who couldn’t benefit from someone else pushing you and tracking your information.  Anything or anyone that promises to get a quick fix is just looking to get your money.  There is no magic pill here.

We can break exercise down into a number of different categories, however, resistance training and some sort of conditioning work are the most effective at achieving your goals.  There are certain populations that need to be careful about what they do and how they do it, but the evidence is pretty clear that exercise seems to positively impact everything.  Doing yard work and house work does not constitute exercise.  Walking does not constitute exercise unless you were unable to walk prior to starting a walking program.  Including upper body pushes and pulls, as well as lower body hip hinging and knee dominant work (squats) are a good starting point.

In conclusion, start to implement these simple tasks into your daily routine and you’ll find that your goals will start to come to fruition.  Seeking out a qualified individual who has experience in not just the exercise aspect of well-being, but in the entire performance envelope will be greatly beneficial.  This way you can have all of this information monitored.  Looking for an exercise physiologist or exercise scientist degree and an appropriate certification is usually a good place to start.

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Patient adherence to home/gym programs following regimen of physical therapy – A first hand clinical perspective

I asked my coworker to write a guest blog post on anything he wanted to write about.  Naturally, he chose to write about home exercise programs for the patient.  This is a great read for anyone from therapist to the rehabilitated.  Check it out, and be sure to look up Ben Sherr as he is a tremendously smart therapist and definitely helps me on a daily basis.

During a course of physical therapy treatment, a patient may be seen up to 2-3 times a week for an extended period of time.  In my short history as a PT, many outpatient orthopedic PT programs will not come to an end with the clearance and official discharge by a PT.  Many people will self discharge, or not return to PT. Those are the cases that I will not be visiting in this blog. However, those who are officially discharged from physical therapy, where do they end up?  Are they compliant with their programs that are set up for them? Are we as PTs working hard enough to ensure that the programs are sufficient for them after they finish their formal PT? The answers to these questions do not seem too clear.  This is just one PT’s self reflection regarding patient’s adherence to their gym/home program following outpatient physical therapy care.

Recently, I have had several patients for whom I have set up gym or home programs to work on their PT exercises following successful completion of PT care.  Whether they will complete their program at home, at the gym, with a trainer, or with a CSCS, they are all discharged with a plan going forward. I work in a clinic where there is a gym next door and there are plenty of terrific, certified personal trainers who are willing to help at a reasonable price.  A goal may be to have them work with the trainer and then become independent and join the gym, once again at a reasonable price. I have found that many patients have a hard time following through with this or start this program and then fall off the wagon. The same speaks to the patients that will “complete their program at home”. Unfortunately, compliance to these home programs is usually slim to none. Some patients may leave physical therapy “pain free” but predictably down the road, they return with the same issues they started with. I put much thought into each individual home program to help my patients be successful. With a lack of adherence to these programs what do I get to show for it?

Most of these patients do very well while in PT, so when they return, are they using PT as a crutch?  That is something that we as PT’s cannot enable, but that is a whole other topic, for another day. Back at the topic at hand.  

Why do patients have such a hard time following through with their plan of care.  Is it because they feel great and no longer need to do it? Is it because of differing mentalities?  Is life just too busy? There could be many reasons. Well, research does back it up that most patients are not completing their PT home programs after PT, as documented by Rizzo, et al in 2014, stating “patient adherence to physical therapy home exercise programs (HEP) is estimated between 35 and 72%”.  In addition to this statistic, the article also discusses mental models, which is basically how individuals view the world and how they think. Bottom line was that most patients and PT providers have differing mental models, so PT’s have to work extra hard to change their thought process to connect with the patient. Should we be the ones adjusting to them, or should they be adjusting their mentality to match ours? Again, difficult to answer.

I went into PT to help people.  It is as simple as that. I unfortunately have to ask myself am I doing so?  I believe that I am. I can only take a patient so far. If the patient is committed to PT as well, then they will do a great job.  Not only during their official treatment time, but also when they’re on their own. I have come across some tips that may help a patient stay with their routine following PT. First off, finding a purpose.  Why should this patient continue their exercises? Mostly, it will help them avoid re-injury and maintain their improvements. Maybe they are training for something, or maybe they want to better themselves in general.  Any of these are reasonable. Another tip would be connecting to the patient in a more effective manner. The patient may feel more accountable to complete their exercises following completion of PT. From Campbell et al, “initial compliance with PT is high because of loyalty to the therapist.”  It did not state that it drops off as time goes on, but I am sure that it does.  Lastly, education. Educate the patient to the best of your ability as to why they must continue their rehab to avoid decline in their status.  Or put a positive spin on it and educate them on how much improvements they will make by continuing the exercises. Use a goal as an example.  Just a thought. In all honesty, and according to research, somewhere around half of the time it will not work.

Back to the personal cases that I have come in contact with in the outpatient orthopedic setting.  I have had plenty of situations where past patients have followed through on their programs and eventually do not have to continue them.  Mostly this is a post-operative patient who has done great. Those who continue their programs in the long term are most likely athletes who play a sport or in training for an event.  These patients do great with continuation of care. The general public on the other hand, are very challenging. You try your hardest to adjust your mindset to think like the patient. Set them with plan for success.  I have had three gentlemen in the past month who have been set with gym programs, and have not returned once. Is this my fault? I do not believe so. I set them up for great success and put in a lot of effort. The patient themself needs to be accountable at some point, and that starts right after discharge.  

Maybe it is a possibly jaded view on the subject, but it seems that some patients just do not want to help themselves.  In the healthcare system we have today, these people want a quick fix, and some get it, albeit sometimes temporary. Unfortunately, these patients are the ones who are the returning patients.  And what do I do? Treat them with the best care possible. And will they follow their home program when finished? Maybe. Maybe not.

 

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Random Thought: HRV

I just finished up working with a group of peeps that I’ve been working with for the last 10 years–take a moment just to think about that one–and as I was driving home it hit me, “why do I measure HRV?”

Great question, self!

What the heck is HRV anyway?  HRV=heart rate variability, and it is something that I learned back in undergrad when dealing with the heart.  Somewhere around Exercise Physiology 1 if I recall correctly.  This was information so prudent, much like the Kreb’s cycle, electron transport chain, lactate threshold, etc that I immediately deleted the information from memory as soon as I wasn’t responsible for it (lost? don’t worry, these other terms aren’t the topic here).

If you really boil down what HRV is, it is the measurement of one QRS complex to the next on an ECG, or more specifically the R piece of that gathering of letters.  In a normal individual you would expect to find that from heart beat to heart beat they would be roughly the same.  This in turn means that your nervous system is regulating pretty darn well as that silly system drives each heart beat.  However, in fatigued individuals such as athletes, corporate execs, and just anyone who has kids or multiple jobs you’ll find that from beat to beat there are slight differences.  Simply put, your nervous system is struggling to keep everything regulated…just a bit though.

Why does this even matter?

If your nervous system is a little whacky trying to control the autonomic (automatic) systems in the body, then how do you think it will do with the controllable parts like the ever important biceps?  Knowing that you’re HRV isn’t so great could give you or your coach the ability to maybe take out a set or two, maybe even give you the day for active recovery.  You’re definitely not going to hit any PRs.  You’re most likely going to crash and get some sort of illness or hurt if you keep pushing it.  Think Seyle’s diagram where you’re overstimulated.  Or to the layperson, think pneumonia or mono.

 

IMG_4988
Not too shabby this week
IMG_5582
Notice the red and yellow??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can get this stuff pretty easy too.  Shoot, the programs basically tell you if you’re good to go, mildly stressed, or in need of a staycation.  You definitely don’t need an ECG/EKG everyday.  I’m not personally affiliated with any group out there, however, I do use Bioforce HRV.  I think that the owner is an incredibly smart guy and does his homework when it comes to the state of the nervous system and cardiac system which is what sold me ultimately.  There are holes here and there for sure, but ultimately it is pretty high quality.

Take your training to the next step and work smarter not harder!

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Squatting: Good or Bad?

I was speaking a someone in a gym recently about squatting.  The conversation was more a list of excuses of why they couldn’t do a good squat.  So at the end of the day I was reflecting back on the conversation considering some of the points they were making regarding why squats weren’t good for them.

Before I get into the nitty gritty here, let me disclose some of my biases.

I like to lift things, so when the discussion comes to lifting or not my attitude usually sways in favor of lifting.

In discussing points of performance or health, I prefer to program single leg squatting/knee dominant activity versus the more traditional back squat or front squat.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still plug in the front squat and the trap bar (virtually a squat) where appropriate.  The back squat I’ll reserve for individuals who are competing in events that require it, for peeps who have a higher training age and are working in a more 1:1 setting, or for those that will go back to their college or pro strength coach who makes them squat.

Triple extension activity and hinge activity has more carryover to jumping as opposed to squatting in my eyes, but both are prudent.

Finally, Im generalizing here.  Squats are an awesome exercise, do them in some form within your training programs.

Good

When dealing with sport performance, squatting is absolutely necessary for a number or reasons.  But, beyond the performance world, squatting is important for general population and rehab as well.

Doing all hip dominant activity would eventually lead to overdevelopment of the posterior chain, and more than likely a poor quad:hammy ratio.  This would eventually lead to knee joint dysfunction, hip joint dysfunction, poor athletic quality, poor general purpose carryover, and more than likely injury.  Including knee dominant activity (squats in their variable forms) helps to keep the ratios balanced, injury down, and improves control of the knee in space.  The reality is that most high school athletes coming into the clinic have either overdeveloped quads or extremely underdeveloped everything.  For those individuals who are extremely underdeveloped, the best corrective exercise is going to be lift some weight.  Parents, even though you’re trying to do a good thing by protecting your kids, get out of the way.  You wouldn’t hire a mechanic to do your taxes, don’t hire an artist to train your kid.  Find a professional with a good reputation and the appropriate credentials.

Training a squat pattern is essential for basic activities of daily life….like sitting and standing, or going to the bathroom.  I would like to preserve these abilities personally.

Squat patterns are a great way to add variety to your general training programs as well.  It doesn’t even have to be the traditional back squat.  You can do so many different types of squats like goblet varieties, front squat, double kettlebell versions, single leg, split, etc. Not only do they add variety, but they also tend to be so much more of a usurper of energy, requiring the entire body to work.

IMG_4384

Bad

Just like with any exercise you potentially perform, squatting has the tendency to get ugly quick leading to injury.  If you have the ability to watch high schoolers squat either with their football team/coach or with their buddies it almost seems straight out of a cartoon.  Not being able to perform the action without weight they immediately put on 135 because they want to get faster and stronger.  It’s difficult to articulate the silly events that occur.  For that reason, putting a back squat in for groups of people is a challenge.  Front squats are also a challenge because you still have to be able to squat correctly and you need to be semi humble.

Not everyones levers are the same.  Simple.  Someone with extremely long femurs relative to their trunk will squat significantly different than someone with shorter femur length relative to their trunk.  Butt-wink is not a good place to be.  Not everyone is going to squat ass to grass, so please stop enforcing that.

People tend to get too crazy with things too soon.  Simplicity is such an amazing and under appreciated variable.  Monitoring your numbers becomes important so that you’re not exhausting your options too soon.  Adding bands, chains, weight releasers, etc are all cool things to post on the gram, but not always necessary unless you need to change the stimulus based on stagnation.  Keep it Simple.

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Fitting the Puzzle Piece Together

I was recently golfing with a fellow strength and conditioning coach and had a fun little statement about what is going on with my swing.  Normally, I am long with my irons.  This isn’t to toot my own horn, it’s simply because I swing out of my shoes and throw a little extra bicep curl into the swing.  Here’s the problem:  I was falling way too short.  I was making great contact with the ball and everything looked the way it was supposed to (to my own standards), but I was way short.

I know that my infrequent visits to the golf course are part of the issue.  However, I have also not worked on any piece of the spectrum of lifting except strength for the last few months.  A little bit of bench, some accessory work, maybe sit on a bike and think about cardio for a few minutes, call it a day.

In the world of strength and conditioning, personal training, physical therapy, etc. there are some potential short-comings.  With PT, the general consensus is to get them long, get them strong, then get them fast.  That’s great, but you can’t really do that with your athletes efficiently.  Especially if you’re only going to see that athlete for 12-36 weeks.

If you want to be the biggest dude to walk the planet and still not be able to pick up a spare tire for your car, go get your pump on.  If you want to move a house, go lift the heaviest things you can.  But, if you want to be fast and explosive, you better train that too.

Traditionally with strength and conditioning and personal training, you would train absolute strength to develop a base to build off.  True.  But most people coming in off the street have some strength.  Quite the assumption I know.  Most athletes, believe it or not, can already jump or run.  The idea is to make them jump higher or run faster.  Program plyometrics, speed-strength, strength-speed, and power (not all in the same day perhaps) as well as your strength.  This way you’re a little more efficient with your programming.

You can allegedly hold 98 per cent of your strength for a month of not training it.  But, those numbers drop much more significantly with power where you can hold roughly 98% for about a week before you see large drops.

Don’t throw the kitchen sink at your athletes.  Still program intelligently.  But make sure to train some expression of power even if that isn’t your emphasis.  This will allow you to not swing a golf club like a nana.

Some of the speed-strength/power exercises that I like to use with my programming include:  olympic lifts, kettlebell swings, kettlebell snatches, loaded jumps, loaded bounds

You can also place an emphasis on speed with the tempo of the lifts that you are comfortable teaching or that you’re already using.  This would simply require that athlete to explode through the concentric portion of the lift.  I like to remember the “do no harm” phrase here.

I would love to hear what other coaches are using out there.  Please share if you have a different philosophy.

 

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How To Program Med Balls into Your Workouts

Today I have a guest post from a good friend of mine, Nick Esposito.  Nick is a strength and conditioning coach in Waltham, MA at Champion PT and Performance.  He also happens to be a pretty smart kid.  Here is a link to the original article if you have a chance to check out some of his videos too!

How To Program Med Balls into Your Workouts

 

Med Ball Exercises are a great way for a rotational athlete, such as a baseball player, to develop power and strength from their lower body to their upper body.

You often hear about rotational power or kinetic linking…but how do we maximize that?

How does that relate to athletes, especially baseball and softball?

Movements often found in sports are considered ballistic.

What is Ballistic Movement?

“Movements that are performed with maximal velocity and acceleration can be considered ballistic actions. Ballistic actions are characterized by high firing rates, brief contraction times, and high rates of force development.” -Department of Kinesiology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario.

SO, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF MED BALLS?

  • Improved coordination in movements demanding high rate of force development in all planes of motion (rotational power)
  • Improved ability to control and decelerate rotational forces
  • Improved kinetic linking through which helps the ability to generate and transfer force through the body.
  • There is also injury prevention qualities as well. Controlling rotation and deceleration.

After seeing some of those benefits, you can see why Med Balls are commonly seen in sports performance programs.

SETS & REPS

When done right, med balls can be a very demanding on the body, and the central nervous system. We program all med ball work to be done BEFORE any lifting for that day.

We will pick 2-3 med ball drills per workout day that will benefit the athlete the most.

Taking that into consideration, here is a how we commonly program for our athletes:

2 Days a Week Strength Program:

  • 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps

3 Days a Week Strength Program

  • 3 sets of 5-8 reps

4 Days a Week Strength Program

  • 2-3 sets of 5-8 reps

TOP 5 CONSIDERATIONS FOR MED BALLS

STANCE

There are several positions you can begin your med ball exercises in. Typically, I work from the ground up with new athletes. This gives less room for error with form, and a progression to reach in the short and long term goals.

Tall Kneeling (TK)
1/2 Kneeling
Iso-Hold Stance
Split Stance
Athletic Stance
Single Leg

DIRECTION & BALL PATH

Where is the athlete and med balls intended path. Taking the stances from above, now add in the follow 3 items:

What direction the athlete is facing…are the facing the wall, or facing sideways, etc.
Where the ball is starting from. Is the ball starting above their head, at their side, at their hips, etc
Where the Ball is Going. What is the intended target or direction you want to slam/throw the ball?

INITIATION

 

There are typically 3 initiation methods for med ball exercises:

1. Non- Counter Movement

This will be your traditional slam method. Accelerate at the wall, floor or target from a specific starting point.
2. Counter Movement

This will be a movement initiated by a partner or a coil motion. The ball is moving in a against you so that you must stop, load, and then unload in your intended direction.
3. Continuous

This will be a rapid movement…quick and precise. You will commonly see a plyo based or rubber bouncy ball for continuous med ball exercises.

MED BALL TYPES

There are several types of med balls out there. Some have handles, some are large, and some are small. Here are the common types we use with our athletes:

Jam Balls – These balls won’t have much bounce. They are very dense, and can be on the heavier side.
Plyo Balls – These are commonly smaller, and offer a bouncing recoil when you slam it. These are great for continuous and rapid med ball type exercises, and even single leg stance exercises.
Soft Toss Med Ball – Commonly seen in gyms as Dynamax or PB Extreme Balls, these are great for slamming, tossing, and offer many uses.

INTENT

This may be the most important one. For athletes, one of the common goals is becoming faster, and quicker, something med balls are great for. However, many can check their ego at the door and grab the heaviest possible ball to throw or slam…VERY SLOWLY!

If the med ball is going slow, are you truly gaining the benefits of ballistics and what med balls have been proven to help develop…probably not.

You have to put full effort and intent into each throw. Med Ball exercises are truly a “You get what you put into it” exercise.

FIND MORE ABOUT NICK

For more articles like this refer to the link above.  There you can check out some pretty cool videos, articles, maybe even grab some swag.

 

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Why Do You Lift That Much?

So, this past weekend we made a trip to the wonderful vacation destination of Syracuse, NY for my sister’s graduation party extravaganza.  My sister, much like my father is a runner.  If any of you follow me on social media, you’ll know how I feel about the whole running cult.

Running Sucks
One of the coolest t-shirts

With that said, I should say that I do actually like to do sprints following a workout as nothing will make you feel like you’ve accomplished something more.  Not run for 9 miles because gross.  So if you do see me outside running then you should probably run in the same direction really quickly as I’m probably being chased by Sharknado, a lion, or Dunkin’ Donuts advocates.

I was lifting a large cooler out of the car by myself when my father told me to stop because I may hurt myself.  Checking my ego I said, “nah it’s not that heavy, I pull over 400 pounds off the floor”.  When in my habitat, that statement is usually met with some grunts followed by how much others pull.  To people who don’t lift heavy weights often that is a meaningless piece of information.  So he asked, why?

I’m generally pretty quick to fire back at my dad, the only person on the planet who has mastered the ability to find every single one of my buttons of irritation–and press them over and over again for the pure amusement.  This time I still fired back because I like a challenge.  But I stewed over this for a couple of days.

Part of me wanted to say, why do you run?  That’s a silly thing to do.  You can certainly develop your cardiovascular system in many other ways.  Nothing in your life requires you to be good at running.  But, this is more a look at why I like to lift things (don’t make that cliche statement from that stupid commercial about lifting things please!).

A couple of years ago I set a goal to bench over 315, squat and deadlift over 405, clean 275.  None of this is necessary in my day-to-day requirements, however, when demonstrating to my athletes it was important that I could lift a semi respectable amount of weight.  Otherwise they would think that I’m a phony (their words not mine).  Plus, doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results was some smart guy’s (Einstein) definition of insanity.  And I know with my education in physiology that I need to continue to push the status quo in order to achieve adaptation.

Loaded Bar
415 for a couple singles…

School threw my aggressive training routine into the toilet.  Basically, life happens.  Now I’m finally hitting those goals and striving for different ones.

So now I understand why my parents always told me to think before I spoke.  Not only does lifting my goal coddle the ego a little, make sure that the high schoolers don’t chirp, but mostly I lift it because I like to.  The feeling of accomplishing your goals is awesome albeit short lived.  Runner’s want to run for 4 days straight–go ahead.  If you’re goal was to do that and live, then awesome.  If I want to lift a 20 pound cooler out of the trunk of the car without hurting myself, then don’t bend and twist.

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Coaching Cue on the Deadbug

The dead bug is a great tool to use for both rehab and for improving performance in the athletic and general population.  Creating stability with the floor will help the trunk musculature brace appropriately with virtually anyone on the planet being able to figure it out.  There are a couple different ways that you can attack this exercise and I’ll cover that in this article.

The deadbug exercise is used for a variety of reason in strength and conditioning and PT.  In PT, we can use it to help develop the trunk musculature which will potentially give us a better brace for protecting our low back.  Or a better anchor for our hip extensors to fire from (by protecting the integrity of the pelvis).  In strength and conditioning we can use it in a beginner program to help someone find their anterior core.  We can also use it as an offseason type exercise to help the athletes reset.

Generally speaking, when thinking about strengthening the trunk musculature–or core–people immediately think about the 6-pack.  Sure that is an important piece of the puzzle, however, consider all the other parts too.  If you  don’t have the ability to engage that internal Transverse Abdominus you’re going to have issues.  The idea isn’t that you want to live in the 1980’s and make each muscle fire independent of the others (impossible by the way).  Instead, find a way to coordinate all these groups together.

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A common cue that is used to train the deadbug exercise is “push your low back to the floor”.  This will certainly get you to engage your anterior core.  But is it the best way to keep you in a neutral position and bracing?

 

 

 

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Instead, try using a different line of cues.  Let the patient/client use their fingertips to feel the brace.  Simply have them find their ASIS and move in roughly an inch.  As they brace appropriately they should feel their “core” push out into their fingertips.  This is different from trying to suck your belly button to your spine though.  It is more of a hollowing effect similar to that used in gymnastics.

 

This also has an impact on the rest of your body.  If you’re cued to push your low back into the floor you will invariably drive all force into the floor.  But what happens to your upper trunk, neck, head?  If you’re bracing hard enough they’ll come off the floor similar to a crunch.  Fine, if you’re trying to get the anterior core work.  If you’re trying to get those deeper muscles to fire more effectively though, keeping neutral is a little better.  It will allow the patient to keep their head and upper trunk on the floor with the neck finding the natural, neutral position.

Give it a try in your programming and find what works best for you.  Feel free to give some feedback.