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”.
Crawl and Bearhug Sandbag Carry
When designing programs for rehabilitation patients and fitness clients, I often pair up exercises. This practice is commonly called super-setting and it has multiple benefits:
Train efficiently—You get much more work done during your training time.
Abolish performance deficits—Most physical therapy and fitness clients need to work on glaring right vs. left movement asymmetries, postural restrictions, and stability limitations.
Lose weight—Fat loss is a primary goal of most fitness clients. Pairing exercises ramps up exercise intensity and creates the hormonal response that improves body composition.
Move better—Training neurologically related movement patterns improves motor control.
Crawl and Bearhug Sandbag Carry
A finisher is a short but intense, high metabolic cost, training event performed at the end of an exercise session. The best finishers create carry over to real life activities and can be made more challenging as you become more fit. When linked to proper diet, finishers produce the “metabolic hit” that stimulates fat loss. As the name implies, you always perform finishers at the end of your workout because, afterwards, you will not want to do anything else.
Crawling is all about the spiral, diagonal force connection that happens through the middle of the body. Crawling is the primal exercise that enabled us to stand and walk. The “core muscles” neurologically connect the left hip with the right shoulder and the right hip with the left shoulder. They stabilize the pelvis and spine so you can transfer force from the hips to the shoulders. Crawling keeps that connection healthy and strong.
Bear Hug Sandbag Carry
The bear hug sandbag carry is the cure for the epidemic of device disability syndrome (DDS). This exercise reverses all of the weakness that is created by endless hours planted in a chair, staring into a screen. Sandbag carries are functional core stability work. The abdominal muscles interact with the muscles in the legs and shoulder girdle to hold a stable upright position. Walking with a sandbag kicks starts your postural reflexes, the neural feedback mechanism that holds us up against gravity. Do not go too heavy on the sandbag. You should be able to stay tall and not stagger or lean forward.
The routine is simple: Crawl for twenty yards—ten yards down and ten yards back. Try to keep the knees close to the floor and the back flat. Immediately after finishing the crawl, pick up the sandbag with a bear hug hold- no hands linked- and carry it for twenty yards. Rest as needed and repeat. Start out with three circuits and increase to five. Try to keep the rest periods under thirty seconds. Once you get up to five circuits, add a weight vest and then a heavier sandbag. Modify the distance, load, and cycles to suit your needs. Give the crawl/bear hug carry combo finisher a try and let me know how it goes.
View video of Mike performing sandbag carries here: https://youtu.be/Ygg2vbf-Uoo
-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS