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power

Olympic Lifts–Do We Really Need Them?

Medicine Ball Wall Balls

Over the last several years, Olympic lifting movements have made a comeback into many gyms.  The primary reason to use Olympic lifts is to improve/maximize power output, or Rate of Force Development (RFD); however, the general fitness population lacks the requisite mobility and stability to safely get into the required positions to perform these exercises.  Over the next several weeks, I will introduce thirteen exercises that you can use instead to maximize speed, power, and RFD with less risk of injury, less technical skill required, and more efficiency.  Today’s exercise is the Medicine Ball Wall Balls.  Watch the video, give it a try, and let us know how you do. You can view the video here: https://youtu.be/vCWu2gsCfU4.

If you are looking for a full body movement that offers the same triple extension (ankle, knee, hip) as the traditional weightlifting movements, then this exercise is for you.  Wall Balls focus on vertical power development.  All medicine ball movements tend to be much higher on the speed continuum of the power movements.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1

 

Olympic Lifts–Do We Really Need Them?

Medicine Ball Chest Pass

Over the last several years, Olympic lifting movements have made a comeback into many gyms.  The primary reason to use Olympic lifts is to improve/maximize power output, or Rate of Force Development (RFD); however, the general fitness population lacks the requisite mobility and stability to safely get into the required positions to perform these exercises.  Over the next several weeks, I will introduce thirteen exercises that you can use instead to maximize speed, power, and RFD with less risk of injury, less technical skill required, and more efficiency.  Today’s exercise is the Medicine Ball Chest Pass.  Watch the video, give it a try, and let us know how you do. View the video here: https://youtu.be/iN4qcOPe2vo

The Med Ball chest pass is a great exercise to build up horizontal pushing power.  It can be regressed to be stable, safe, and emphasize the upper body musculature, or progressed to be very dynamic and athletic in nature.  All medicine ball movements tend to be much higher on the speed continuum of the power movements.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1

 

The Wisdom of Frank Part II

“Keep Your Legs In The Game”

I met my friend Frank when I was 21 years old and working out at a local gym.  Frank was sixty-eight years old and in great condition.  He had been a professional boxer, army fitness instructor, and then a physical education teacher.  Frank was an incredibly well read student of fitness and human performance.  He was stronger, more agile, and fitter than most people in their twenties.  Success leaves footprints, so I was eager to learn from a master.

Frank would work through some stretches, warm up and start in on the jump rope.  He was amazing with the rope.  Frank said an athlete was “nothing without his legs”.  “Power comes from the ground” and strong arms were useless without legs that could react.  He told me that keeping the “pop in your hop” was critical to successful aging.

Recent research on lower extremity power production and aging has proven Frank correct.  As we age, we lose lower extremity power nearly twice as fast as we lose strength.  Power production is what keeps us competitive on the field of play and safe during our daily tasks.  The current area of interest in exercise science has been the “discovery” of the benefits of lower extremity power training with older clients.  One of the best books on this subject is Bending the Aging Curve, by Dr. Joseph Signorile.  I read this book in 2011 and thought to myself, I heard all of this from Frank in 1979.

Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

kneerehabFitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated. Physical performance and recovery capacity are dramatically different. If you need proof, look for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL. The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime. I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.

Reduce the Presence of Pain in Your Life
You will reach all of your fitness goals much sooner if your brain is receiving fewer signals of pain. Your muscles and joints are slaves to the orders from the central nervous system. The presence of pain alters movement patterns and blunts the benefits of training. Do not accept pain as part of your life. In my work as a physical therapist, I have heard many euphemisms for pain. Physical therapy patients and fitness clients are not limping because of pain– they have a “discomfort,” “ache,” “spasm,” or “numbness”. When asked about pain, any answer other than a “no” is a “yes”. Resolving pain problems goes a long way toward restoring function and improving quality of life.

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Training Tip 4Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated. Physical performance and recovery capacity are dramatically different. If you need proof, look for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL. The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime. I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.

Prioritize Power

As we age, we tend to move slower. Unfortunately, life happens at faster speeds. Those of us past forty should perform fitness activities that improve quickness and enhance the control of deceleration forces.  I am sorry, but yoga and Pilates are not fast enough to be beneficial. You do not have to perform jump squats with a barbell on your back. Basic medicine ball throws and agility drills will work wonders.

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Fitness training for those of us past 40 years of age is more complicated. Physical performance and recovery capacity are dramatically different. If you need proof, look for the forty year olds in the NBA or NFL. The good news is that with proper planning, consistent performance, and the wisdom that comes with age, we can stay fit and active for a lifetime. I have compiled a collection of tips for the forty plus fitness client.

training_tip_2

 

Do the Most Important Thing First and Do It More Often

Older gym goers have a work capacity “gas tank” that is smaller than their younger friends. Their neural and energy pathways give out sooner and take longer to recover. Older fitness clients need to place the most important training activities early in an exercise session before fatigue degrades performance. Make your weakest movement pattern the first one you train. If you lack mobility in a specific movement such as a squat, hip hinge, or lunge, train that first. Activities that demand more neural control, such as balance and power drills, should be placed early in the training session.

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Nothing slows down your progress toward greater fitness and better performance than an injury. Bad combinations of exercises during a training session can set you up for a big crash. Poor exercise programming produces the joint overload or connective tissue stress that produces pain. Lumbar flexion activities combined with an exercise that compresses the lumbar spine is one of the more Hernaited_Disccommon killer combinations.

Here are some examples of lumbar flexion activities combined with exercise that increase lumbar intervertebral pressure. I am seeing these killer combos more frequently during my visits to the gym.

-Ten GHD sit ups followed by fifteen American Swings.

-Twenty medicine ball rotational crunches followed by a sixty yard farmers carry.

-Rowing machine for 500 meters followed by barbell on back walking lunges.

-Five toes to bar and then five barbell cleans.

-Five minutes of super slumped power texting followed by three heavy deadlifts.

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For injury prevention, athletic perforpower_productionmance, and general health, a regular program of lower extremity power training is beneficial. Traditional exercises that improve explosive leg power—jumps, hops, bounds, and skips—are too challenging for many fitness clients. Limited leg strength, poor balance, joint problems, and a high body mass index all make traditional plyometric training problematic. The assistance of a suspension trainer creates an environment that permits everyone to succeed in exercises that improve leg power.

Older fitness clients may not possess the balance to perform traditional plyometric power production exercises. The stability assist from the TRX is the balance “training wheels” necessary for beneficial jump, split jump, jump squat, and lunge exercises. The suspension trainer unloads an exercise and allows the client the opportunity to practice explosive movements with less joint stress. TRX power exercises require no set up time, and a full complement of explosive enhancing drills can be completed in five minutes.

Older fitness clients are in special need of training to improve leg power. Between the ages of 65 and 89 lower limb power (the ability to move the legs explosively) declines at a rate of 3.5% per year. Strength declines at a slower 1-2% per year rate in this same group. Power is the ability to create force in a short period of time and is different than raw strength. Lower extremity power capacity keeps us safe. It is the component of fitness that enables you to react and save yourself from a fall or sudden disturbance in balance. As leg power falters, injuries increase. As injuries increase, pain, mobility and independent living decreases.

Exercise is like medicine, administer the correct prescription at the proper dose and the patient thrives. The “exercise medicine” that is missing in many training programs is a consistent dose of power training. Watch the video for some examples of simple power production exercises you can add to your program.

-Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

To view a video demonstration of multiple exercises completed with TRX, click on the link below:

View_Video

Press_pressing_powerPressing Power:
Three New Ways to Press

If you’ve been around the gym for any significant amount of time, odds are that you’ve included some sort of pressing movements in your routine. I typically group presses into two categories: Vertical (pushing overhead) and Horizontal (pushing away from chest). Most commonly, the Bench Press with a barbell or dumbells and sometimes push ups are used for horizontal pressing, and a seated Military Press or standing Overhead Press are used for vertical pressing. These are all great exercises assuming you have no serious shoulder injuries. I strongly believe that the Bench Press, Push ups, and standing Overhead press should be staples in any program where maximal strength, hypertrophy, or power are primary goals (which should be most training programs).

If, however, your training program stops at these few foundational movements, then you are leaving a lot on the table when it comes to maximal performance and functionality (particularly for athletes). Your upper body and lower body are only as good as your weakest link when it comes to running faster, jumping higher/farther, throwing harder/faster/farther, punching harder, etc. For the vast majority of individuals, this weak link is often the core musculature. Incorporating proper core training that works on resisting rotation and extension is a great addition to your program, but training the core to brace and stabilize when making athletic type movements is even better. Below I will outline three great pressing movements that will tie your upper body into your core, hips, and lower body to better help you transfer your strength in real life situations and athletics.

Contralateral Dumbbell Bench Press: This is a great exercise to supplement traditional Bench Press training. It is a horizontal 1 arm press that requires the core to brace and stabilize while having one hip flexed and the other extended (just like it would be when throwing a ball). Grab 1 dumbbell (pick a weight 5-15lbs lighter than you’d use for a standard dumbbell bench press) and lay on a flat bench. The leg on the same side as your weighted arm will be down on the ground with the foot firmly planted. The leg on the opposite side will be flexed to 90 degrees at the hip, knee, and ankle. From this position, you will take a big breath to brace your core and press the dumbbell straight up into the air. If there is a big difference in the weight you can handle on this exercise vs a normal bench press, then you have work to do.

Half- Kneeling 1 arm DB or KB Press: This is a great supplemental exercise to go along with the Overhead Press. This is a 1 arm vertical press that will tie the strength of the upper body into the core, hips, and lower body. Unlike the Contralateral Bench Press, this exercise also allows for upward rotation of the shoulder blade which is an important athletic/throwing quality. Assuming a half-kneeling position, bring a DB or KB to shoulder level. The weight should be on the same side as the knee that is down. Contract your glute strongly on the side the leg is down and brace your core while pressing the weight up overhead. Make sure you straighten your arm all the way by bringing your bicep up to your ear. Repeat on the opposite side.

Staggered Stance 1 arm Cybex Punch: This is a very unique exercise in that it is a horizontal press done from the standing position. This obviously has a huge carryover to athletics and overall functionality as most of what we need to do is from the standing position. However, because of this positioning, it is also one of the more challenging movements in regards to the amount of weight you will be able to use. Using the Free Motion Cybex machine, adjust one arm so that it is roughly shoulder level. Assume a staggered stance and hold the handle in the hand on the same side as your back leg. Brace your core to ensure that your hips and lumbar spine don’t move. Extend your arm as if you were punching something, and allow your thoracic spine (upper back) to rotate as you do this. Perform on the opposite side.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

Pressing_Video

Ten million people in the U.S. have osteoporosis. An additional 18 million are at risk to develop it. An additional 34 million are at risk to develop osteopenia, or low bone mass. These ailments lead to higher incidents of fractures which lead to lack of physical activity and a quick decline in the fitness and health of affected individuals.

Last week, we talked about the vital role our diet plays when it comes to preventing osteoporosis by providing the needed nutrients to build and maintain strong bones. It should be noted that over half of our bone mass is accumulated during adolescence (12.5 years for girls and 14 years for boys) with peak bone mass being achieved in our mid 20’s. It is, therefore, very important for people of all ages, especially younger individuals, to incorporate appropriate activities and nutrition and not wait until we are in our 50’s and beyond to start trying to modify diet and activity.

In addition to giving our bodies the needed nutrients of calcium, vitamin D, and protein, the most effective way to stimulate our bone density is through activity. Ultimately, putting our bones under large amounts of force gives them the stimulus they need to get dense and strong.como

There are two main ways we can put stress on our bones where the requisite force is being absorbed or transferred which in turn stimulates bone density. One such way is through weight bearing exercises which force your body to absorb impact. These include walking (on hard surfaces), running, sprinting, jumping, and various upper extremity plyometric exercises. The potential drawback to some of these exercises is that they can be hard on your joints (knees, hips, back, ankles), especially for those with preexisting conditions in these areas. This type of training should be used 2-3x/week for 15-30 minutes.

The second form is that of resistance training. This can be done with machines, bands, body weight, or free weights. It has been demonstrated that free weight activities using barbells, dumbbells, and kettlebells (especially at heavier weights/intensities) lead to greater force production. It would stand to reason, therefore, that utilizing primarily free weight exercises with moderate to heavy weights would be most effective at increasing/maintaining bone density. Resistance training should be performed 3-5 times per week for 30-60 minutes.

It should be noted that low/no impact activities such as swimming, water aerobics, yoga, elliptical trainers, and biking provide little stimulus for improving bone density. Also, even with the best training protocol, appropriate considerations must be made in regard to nutrition to be sure the needed nutrients are available to build up our bones.

Click on the link below to see video demonstration of one of our members in action:

-Jeff Tirrell, B.S., OCS, CSCS

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