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Functional Stability

The last twenty years have brought about many changes in the fitness industry as our understanding of functional anatomy and evidence based training grows.  Some of these changes have been taken too far, misunderstood, or poorly applied such as stability training. When I was introduced to weights in 1998, exercise programs were built around machines which offer very little carry over to stability, core strength, and function.  Machine based training fails to maximally improve balance/stability, prevent injury, or maximize performance.  Enter functional fitness.  This concept has been popularized by strength coaches and physical therapists such as Eric Cressey, Dan John, Mike Boyle, Grey Cook, and Fenton Fitness owner, Mike O’Hara who saw a gap in training methods and optimal coaching.  Functional training includes better core stability/lumbopelvic control and more unilateral (single limb) exercises that closely mimic human movement. Unfortunately, as with many concepts in the fitness industry, this trend has been taken too far.

Many have latched onto “functional” fitness and incorporated unstable surfaces to challenge the small stabilizing musculature. This gives the illusion of strength and function, but as world renowned strength coach Mark RIppetoe says, these are simply “balance tricks”.  Real life doesn’t involve unstable surfaces like wobble boards, bosu balls, physioballs, etc.  This type of training highly restricts the amount of work the primary movers of the body can do, and doesn’t allow for strength adaptation to occur which should be a primary focus of any solid fitness program.

This Functional Stability series will address the best ways to improve real world function and strength while reducing injury.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Horizontal Pulls

A horizontal pulling exercise is any exercise that involves moving a weight in towards your torso horizontally from straight out in front of you. A good exercise routine should incorporate both pushing and pulling movements in order to keep a healthy balance, better posture, and prevention of shoulder injuries. Muscles involved in pulling exercises include biceps, latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, posterior deltoid, and middle trapezius.

Arm DB Row
There are a couple different variations that could be done with the one arm row. In the first and most common variation, set up with one dumbbell and put the opposite hand and knee on a flat bench. The back should be flat and the weighted arm should be straight with full extension in the shoulder. Keeping the core braced, bring the dumbbell straight up to the side of your chest, keeping your upper arm close to your side. Concentrate on squeezing the back muscles once you reach the full contracted position. In the second variation, we are going to get a little more athletic and functional. It is called three stance row, or straddle stance row. Stand with the legs a little wider than shoulder width apart. Bend the knees slightly and make sure the feet are equally distributed and the back is flat (think linebacker).  Put one arm on the end of the bench or a 16-20” box. The hand with the dumbbell should be directly under the shoulder and centered. Row as described previously.

PUPP DB Row
Set up with two dumbbells in a push-up position plank. Keep the feet further apart to make the exercise easier, keep feet closer together to make it harder. Pull up one dumbbell, keeping the elbow close to the body and avoiding the tendency to dip the opposite hip. The body should stay still throughout the exercise. This variation is going to challenge the core as well as the rowing muscle groups. Alternate arms.

Horse Stance DB Row
This variation of the DB row is going to be more challenging than just a regular row as it is going to test your core stability and balance. Set up with one dumbbell and a bench. Put the opposite hand and knee on the bench and extend the free leg out horizontally, with the ankle dorsiflexed. The other arm is holding the dumbbell straight down as with any other row variation. Keeping the core braced, bring up the dumbbell in the same pattern as previously stated. Avoid the tendency to dip the opposite hip down. The weight used in this variation is going to be lighter than usual.

View the video here: https://youtu.be/gSMvrJGVeN4

Olympic Lifts–Do We Really Need Them?

Hang Snatch

 

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 Hang Snatch.  Watch the video, give it a try, and let us know how you do. View the video here: https://youtu.be/TrOhhKLIpqA.

The Hang Snatch, like the Hang Clean, is a better, easier option to learn than the full Snatch or Power Snatch.  Again, you start from the standing position.  We teach the Hang Snatch with a Hang Clean grip.  The traditional grip of the Snatch is much wider and places much more stress on the shoulders.  It is done to reduce the distance the bar must travel so you can increase the load you are able to use.  If you are not competing in Weightlifting, however, this doesn’t matter.  Once you are ready for the Hang Snatch and have the required shoulder mobility (can you touch your fingers behind your back?), it is the best power movement out there. The lighter loads used on this exercise compared to the Hang Clean make it an even friendlier exercise on your spine and the longer bar path requires more power output.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1

 

Olympic Lifts–Do We Really Need Them?

Hang Clean

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 Hang Clean.  Watch the video, give it a try, and let us know how you do.  See the video here: https://youtu.be/KupitKep6Lk

The problem with the traditional Clean and Power Clean is that many people have trouble getting into a good position to start the movement.  The Hang Clean eliminates this problem by starting from the standing position.  It only requires a small amount of hip movement, yet still produces a great deal of power.  A good goal for your hang clean is to do the same amount of weight as your 1 rep max bench press.  If you can’t get there, you need more cleans and less bench work.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1

 

Olympic Lifts–Do We Really Need Them?

Push Press

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 Push Press.  Watch the video, give it a try, and let us know how you do.  See the video here: https://youtu.be/1pI4eb6lMYQ

The Push Press is a limited, less technical, portion of the Clean and Jerk weightlifting movement.  It’s a great alternative as it has been shown to increase power but is much simpler to teach.  As long as you possess adequate shoulder mobility, there is much less risk with this exercise.  If done properly, both the hips and shoulders produce a large amount of vertical force which has strong carryover to sports that require jumping and overhead activities (throwers, volleyball, etc.).

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1

 

Olympic Lifts–Do We Really Need Them?

Plyo Push Ups

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: Plyo Push Ups.  Watch the video, give it a try, and let us know how you do. View the video here: https://youtu.be/C0A0dibCmqE

Plyo Push Ups are a great horizontal power exercise for the upper body that simultaneously improves core stability. Pushing has obvious carryover for most sports and tends to be more on the speed side of the power spectrum. It can be easily progressed by adding a weight vest (use caution while performing this exercise due to force on the wrists).

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CFSC, Pn1

 

Movement You Should Master

Push Ups

Modern medicine is keeping us alive longer, so now we need to put some effort into staying lively longer.  Mastering specific movements will improve our quality of life and help us stay independent and injury-free. I have come up with several exercises you can use to make yourself stronger, more durable, and develop a healthier, more functional body.  An exercise that requires no equipment and has bountiful benefits is the Push Up.

Push Ups

Push ups strengthen the pecs, deltoids, triceps.  They also allow free movement of the shoulder blades (unlike the bench press) and build stability in the core if done properly.  There is no need to get overly fancy with these.  If you can’t do a true push up with your chest touching the ground and your core locked in, start by elevating your hands instead of resorting to “girl” push ups on your knees.  Guys should try to work up to 3 sets of 20 reps at least a couple of times/week.  Women should strive for at least 10 reps but by no means need to stop there.  Watch the video and give it a try: https://youtu.be/7oQ-_J8FjEU

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

Keep your shoulders and spine happy and strong by following Mike O’Hara’s advice in “Pushing Up Performance”.  Video explanation and performance of pushups and their variations included.  Jeff Tirrell discusses the proper performance of pull ups in his article. “Movement You Should Master”. Is your mobility limited?  Try massage sticks or foam rollers with the information provided in “Pain, Pressure, and Pliability”.

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Spinning Wheel

HIIT Methods: Air Assault Dual Action Bike

The Air Assault dual action bike is a challenging metabolic disrupting machine.   For older fitness clients, heavier folks, and those of us with legs that are less tolerant of impact, the Air Assault improves cardio-respiratory capacity and minimizes joint stress.  If you are seeking an intense training experience, look no further than the Air Assault bike.

The number two reason people give for not exercising is limited time–lack of results is number one.  The Air Assault solves both of these problems.  Training sessions on the Air Assault are brief and very effective.

Set your seat for height and reach so at the bottom of the pedal stroke, the knee is bent about 20 degrees.  The arms should not fully extend at the elbows.  The bike is simple– increase the pedal speed and you push a greater volume of air.  Go slow—less resistance.  Go fast—more resistance.  Keep a tall posture to effectively drive with the arms and assist the legs.  I have outlined four of my favorite HIIT Air Assault training routines.  As usual, remember to perform a movement preparation warm up before launching into a HIIT session.

30 seconds on / 30 seconds off

Ride at an exertion level of 7/10 (1 is a stroll and 10 is sprinting away from a lion) for 30 seconds and then pedal slowly at a 1/10 exertion level for 30 seconds.  Repeat the cycle for ten intervals.  You are done in ten minutes.

45 seconds on / 15 seconds off

Ride at an exertion level of 7/10 (1 is a stroll and 10 is swimming to escape the alligator) for 45 seconds and then pedal slowly for at a 1/10 exertion level for 30 seconds.  Repeat the cycle for five intervals.  This workout takes five minutes.

Tabata Protocol

Twenty seconds on at an exertion level of 9/10 followed by ten seconds off at 1/10.  Repeat eight times.  This format is built right into the Air Assault bike timer.  Do not get discouraged if you have to stop well before completing eight intervals.  Work your way up to completing all four minutes of the session.

1.5, 1.0, 0.5 Mile Intervals

Ride for one and half miles and then rest 90 seconds.  Ride for one mile and rest for 45 seconds.  Ride for a half mile.  Record you overall time.

View Mike’s video on the assault bike: https://youtu.be/8Y3rmX2cF3s

For more information on the many benefits of HIIT read the The One Minute Workout by Dr. Martin Gibala.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Pushing For Performance

HIIT Methods: Sled Training

A good high intensity interval training (HIIT) session creates a disturbance of metabolic homeostasis while minimizing stress on the joints and / or compression of the spine.  Pushing a sled meets both of those goals.  Sled sessions are time efficient, and they have the added benefits of improving leg strength, core stability, and they make you better at nearly every daily challenge.  A well designed HIIT sled training protocol allows you to assess performance and track progress.  Presented below are four of my most frequently prescribed sled HIIT protocols.   Ditch the elliptical, cancel your Zumba sessions, and for the next month, give these a try.

I cannot tell you how much weight to use on the sled.  In general, men can start with bodyweight and women with half to two thirds bodyweight loads.  You will quickly learn if you have too much or too little on the sled.  Any progressive gym will have several sleds and plenty of open space.  The trainers at Fenton Fitness can get you started.

30 / 30 Protocol: Place a stopwatch so it is visible on the sled.  The load on the sled should create a thirty second interval exertion rating that feels “easy”.  Push the sled for thirty seconds and then rest for 30 seconds.  Perform eight intervals.

10 – 20 – 30 – 10 – 20 – 30 – 10 – 20 – 30 Yard Interval: Load your sled and start the timer.  Push the sled for 10 yards and rest twenty seconds.  Push the sled 20 yards and rest twenty seconds.  Push the sled 30 yards and rest twenty seconds.  Repeat 10, 20, and 30 yards two more times.   Finish all of the intervals and you will have covered 180 yards.  Record your time.

60 – 30 – 15 Yard Interval: Be careful that you do not use too much load for this HIIT sled session.  Push the sled 60 yards.  Rest thirty seconds.  Push the sled 30 yards.  Rest thirty seconds.  Push the sled 15 yards.  Record your time.

15 Yards Times Ten: Use a load on the sled that allows you to move at a fairly steady pace.  Think racehorse, not plow horse.  Place a stopwatch so it is visible on the sled.   Start the timer and push the sled fifteen yards.  Rest ten seconds and then push another fifteen yard push.  Perform ten, fifteen yard intervals.  Record your time.

View Mike’s video on sled training here: https://youtu.be/PfOccHMmzF4

For more information on the many benefits of high intensity interval training, read the The One Minute Workout by Dr. Martin Gibala.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

PDFStanding desks are great for posture and health, but many people have difficulty when they first start using them.  In this issue, Mike O’Hara, PT gives exercises that can help you stand for longer periods of time.  Watch the video for instruction on these exercises.  In his article, “The Biomechanics We All Need To Know, Mike agrees with the advice given by Stuart McGill.  Be sure to read about Fenton Fitness Member Jan Pilar and her success with her program.

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