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Real Core Training Part Four

Anti-Rotation

Like everything in the fitness world, core training has evolved.  When I bought my first bodybuilding magazine in the late 90s, the word “core” wasn’t even used.  Instead, you would find ab workouts, oblique workouts, and sometime, low back workouts.  Like pretty much everything in the 90s, muscles were trained in isolation with little concern for how the musculoskeletal system was designed to function as a unit.  We have come a long way in our understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention/reduction.

The core used to be trained and often still is through movement: flexion (anterior), lateral flexion, extension, and rotation.  Sit ups, crunches, side bends, and Russian twists aim to strengthen the muscles concentrically and eccentrically.  These build mass and thickness to the core musculature.  The second way we train the core is to recognize it as a stabilizer of the low back and hips.  This involves training this musculature to resist movement.  When it comes to increasing strength, power, speed, and reducing injury, this training is more important than dynamically training the core.  This style of training is referred to as “anti-core training” because we are resisting flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation.  The other benefit of anti-core training is that it involves isometric contractions which are much less likely to create muscle hypertrophy, which individuals typically don’t want in their waist.  I typically recommend that 70-90% of your core training consist of anti-core work depending on your health/injury history and goals.

The key to good core training is understanding what you are trying to accomplish, as well as how to progress or regress the movement.  Here are the some of our favorites that we use at Fenton Fitness for each of the four anti-core categories.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Anti-Rotation

Tall Kneeling Pallof Press: Grab some elastic tubing or a cable (anchored to something sturdy) and assume a tall kneeling position.  Hold with both hands and press outward away from body.  Do not allow your body to twist or rotate.  Increase load or stretch on tubing to increase difficulty.  Work up to 12 reps per side.

Half Kneeling Pallof Press: Set up in a half kneeling position.  Use the same execution as the tall kneeling version.  Make sure that you don’t allow your legs/hips to lean or twist.  Work up to 12 reps per side.

Standing Pallof Press: Assume an athletic stance with your feet just outside of shoulder width, slight bend in the knees, and slightly flexed at the hips.  Execute the same movement as you would for the tall or half kneeling Pallof press. Work up to 12 reps per side.

One Leg Pallof Press: Stand on one leg with the other leg flexed at 90 degrees at the foot, knee, and hip.  Execute the Pallof press the same way as the standing Pallof press. This is a much more a balance and overall body stability drill.  Tension/resistance will need to be reduced.  Be slow and gradual with your increases in load, volume, or frequency to allow your knee time to adapt.  Work up to 12 reps per side.

PUPP with alternating arm raise:  Assume a push up position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.  Raise one arm out in front of your body while maintaining spine and pelvic positions.  A wider feet position makes the movement more stable and easier, while a narrower foot position increases difficulty.  You can also slow the movement to increase difficulty.  Remember, top priority is no hip/spine movement before trying to increase difficulty.  Work up to 10 per side.

Landmine Anti-Rotations:  Place a barbell in a landmine and assume an athletic position.  Press the landmine away from your body and slowly make a rainbow arching pattern moving the barbell from one hip to the other.  Make sure that only your shoulder/elbow joints move, everything else stays stiff.  Work up to 10 reps per side.

Crawl: Get on your hands and knees with your toes dug into the ground.  Lift your knees slightly off the ground.  Keeping your back flat and stable, move your opposite hand and foot to crawl forward or backward.  Work up to 50 yards.

For video demonstration of these exercises, click here

Real Core Training Part Three

Anti-Extension

Like everything in the fitness world, core training has evolved.  When I bought my first bodybuilding magazine in the late 90s, the word “core” wasn’t even used.  Instead, you would find ab workouts, oblique workouts, and sometime, low back workouts.  Like pretty much everything in the 90s, muscles were trained in isolation with little concern for how the musculoskeletal system was designed to function as a unit.  We have come a long way in our understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention/reduction.

The core used to be trained and often still is through movement: flexion (anterior), lateral flexion, extension, and rotation.  Sit ups, crunches, side bends, and Russian twists aim to strengthen the muscles concentrically and eccentrically.  These build mass and thickness to the core musculature.  The second way we train the core is to recognize it as a stabilizer of the low back and hips.  This involves training this musculature to resist movement.  When it comes to increasing strength, power, speed, and reducing injury, this training is more important than dynamically training the core.  This style of training is referred to as “anti-core training” because we are resisting flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation.  The other benefit of anti-core training is that it involves isometric contractions which are much less likely to create muscle hypertrophy, which individuals typically don’t want in their waist.  I typically recommend that 70-90% of your core training consist of anti-core work depending on your health/injury history and goals.

The key to good core training is understanding what you are trying to accomplish, as well as how to progress or regress the movement.  Here are the some of our favorites that we use at Fenton Fitness for each of the four anti-core categories.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Anti-Exension

Supine Bent Knee March

Lay on your back and lift your legs off the ground with your knees and hips at 90 degree angles.  Posteriorly tilt your hips so that your low back is pressed firmly into the ground.  Slowly lower one heel to the ground keeping your knee at 90 degrees and not allowing your low back to lift off the floor.  Bring this leg back up and repeat on the other side.  Work up to 10 reps per side.

Bent Leg Dead Bug

Assume the same position as the previous exercise.  Reach your arms straight up to the ceiling.  Keep your low back pressed into the floor and straighten one leg, getting the heel as close to the ground as possible without touching.  Simultaneously reach the opposite arm overhead without quite touching the ground.

Straight Leg Dead Bug

Lay on your back with your legs and arms all reaching up toward the ceiling.  Keep your leg straight. and slowly lower it toward the ground while simultaneously reaching overhead with the opposite arm.  Don’t allow your foot or arm to rest on the ground, and keep your low back pressed into the floor.

Hollow Body Hold

Lay on your back and press your low back into the floor.  Lift your feet, shoulders, and arms off the floor, keeping your low back pressed into the floor.  Keep your feet and arms as close to the ground as possible while also keeping your low back on the ground.  Hold for up to 60 seconds.

Plank

Lay on your stomach and place your elbows under your shoulders.  Put your feet together and lift your hips off the ground.  Maintain neutral lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine positions. Contract your glutes, pull your ribs down with a forceful exhalation, and try to pull your elbows toward your toes (they won’t actually move) to engage your lats.  Try to create maximum full body tension.  Hold for up to 30 seconds.

Long Lever Plank

Use the same set up and execution as the plank, except that the elbows will be farther out in front of the shoulders.  The farther forward the elbows, the harder this will be.  Work up to 30 seconds.

Body Saw

Use the set up the same as the plank only with carpet sliders under your toes.  Use your shoulders to slide yourself into the long lever position and then slide back.  Make sure you maintain spinal and pelvis positioning during the whole movement.  Work up to 12 reps.

Physioball Rollouts

Start in a tall kneeling position with a Physioball at arm’s length in front of you.  Pull your ribs down and engage your glutes.  Allow your body to fall forward by letting your hands and forearms roll up onto the ball.  Once you feel you are going to break lumbopelvic positioning, reverse the movement to get you back to your starting position.  Work up to 10 reps.

TRX Fallouts

Use the same set up as with the physioball, but use a suspension trainer instead.  Set up with straps at mid-thigh height.  Execute in the same manner.  Lower the strap starting position to increase difficulty.  Work up to 10 reps.

Ab Wheel/Dolly Rollouts

Set up on your knees with your hands on an ab wheel or dolly and place your hands directly under your shoulders.  Begin to fall forward by flexing the shoulder (overhead) and extending the hips.  Go forward as far as possible without losing spinal positioning and then reverse movement back to the start.  Make sure shoulder and hip joints extend/flex at the same speed.

For video demonstration of these exercises, click here

Ho Ho More Go

Holiday Gifts for the Fit and Soon to be Fit

I was recently asked to write up my recommendations for the fitness fanatic on the holiday gift list.  All of these suggestions are products I currently own and use on a consistent basis.  I would be very happy to be the recipient of any of these gifts.

Power Blocks
Dumbbell training is one of the most effective forms of exercise.  The big limitation of dumbbell training is the cost of buying a series of varying dumbbell weights and the space required to store 10 – 15 sets.  PowerBlock has solved this problem.  A set of PowerBlocks occupies less than three square feet of your home, and depending on the size you purchase, replaces 10 – 25 pairs of traditional dumbbells.  I have put some heavy use on a set of PowerBlocks that I purchased in 1992.  They have functioned flawlessly and show minimal wear.  A beginner set of PowerBlocks (5-32 pounds) cost $330 and you can add an expansion set as you get stronger.  My thirteen-year old self would have loved to get a set of PowerBlocks for Christmas.

Purmotion Air Fit Pro
The creation of the suspension trainer set off a mini revolution in fitness.  The Purmotion Air Fit Pro ($250.00) is different than other suspension trainers in that it has a high quality metal pulley built into the system.  The pulley introduces a rotational demand that is rarely addressed in traditional training.  Purmotion (purmotion.net) makes many different straps and handles that can be used with the Air Fit.  The three dimensional resistance provided by the Air Fit Pro is unique.  I bought my first Air Fit Pro seven years ago and it still functions flawlessly and shows not sign of wear.

Personal Training
Numerous studies have shown that individuals that utilize professional guidance are more successful in reaching fitness goals.  No one performs exercises correctly after only one training session.  You need ongoing evaluation and progression on proper exercise performance.  Older and physically limited individuals need the assistance of a trainer more than any other group.  Our team of trainers and physical therapists can help anyone reach their fitness goals.  Our Christmas gift certificate cards can be used for any of the training programs at the club.  Team training sessions and personal training packages make great gifts.

Massage Stick
If you consistently exercise, one of the best things you can do to enhance recovery is perform some form of soft tissue work.  Targeted stick work is the recovery ingredient that alleviates pain and restores mobility.  The older you are, the harder you work and the more frequently you train, the more you will benefit from some daily stick work.  I like The Stick from performbetter.com ($30 – 50)—it is a well built product.  We use these tools every day in our physical therapy clinics and I have never had one break.

Airex Mat
Getting up and down off the floor is an essential movement skill.  Lose the motor control for this basic task and all sorts of independence issues start to happen.  Everyone should have a quality floor mat as a training tool.  Airex makes many different sizes that are all treated to minimize microbial activity.  A basic mat can be purchased for $80.00.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Real Core Training Part Two

Anti-Lateral Flexion

Like everything in the fitness world, core training has evolved.  When I bought my first bodybuilding magazine in the late 90s, the word “core” wasn’t even used.  Instead, you would find ab workouts, oblique workouts, and sometime, low back workouts.  Like pretty much everything in the 90s, muscles were trained in isolation with little concern for how the musculoskeletal system was designed to function as a unit.  We have come a long way in our understanding of physiology, biomechanics, and injury prevention/reduction.

The core used to be trained and often still is through movement: flexion (anterior), lateral flexion, extension, and rotation.  Sit ups, crunches, side bends, and Russian twists aim to strengthen the muscles concentrically and eccentrically.  These build mass and thickness to the core musculature.  The second way we train the core is to recognize it as a stabilizer of the low back and hips.  This involves training this musculature to resist movement.  When it comes to increasing strength, power, speed, and reducing injury, this training is more important than dynamically training the core.  This style of training is referred to as “anti-core training” because we are resisting flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation.  The other benefit of anti-core training is that it involves isometric contractions which are much less likely to create muscle hypertrophy, which individuals typically don’t want in their waist.  I typically recommend that 70-90% of your core training consist of anti-core work depending on your health/injury history and goals.

The key to good core training is understanding what you are trying to accomplish, as well as how to progress or regress the movement.  Here are the some of our favorites that we use at Fenton Fitness for each of the four anti-core categories.

Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, CSFC, Pn1

Anti-Lateral Flexion

Bent Knee Side Plank

Lay on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder and line your knees up below your hips.  Lift your hips off the ground and hold.  Work up to 45 seconds.

Side Plank

Lay on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder and straighten your legs out.  Stack your legs on top of each other and lift your hips off the ground.  Hold for up to 60 seconds.

Side Plank with Top Leg Elevated

Position yourself in the same set up as the side plank.  Once your hips are lifted off the ground, you will move your top leg away from the bottom leg.  Make sure that you don’t flex either hip when raising the top leg.  Work up to 30 seconds.

Side Plank with Top Leg on Bench

Lay on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder.  Place your top leg on top of a bench.  Lift your hips off the ground.  The bottom leg can squeeze the bottom of the bench or dangle in the air.

Suitcase Hold

Grab a KB/DB in one hand, stand tall, and maintain a neutral lumbar, thoracic, and cervical spine position. Make sure your shoulder blades stay down and back.  If possible, watch yourself in the mirror to ensure you aren’t leaning.  Hold for up to 60 seconds.

Suitcase Carry

Assume the same set up as the suitcase hold.  Start walking with a normal gait.  Make sure to not lean excessively.  Start with 20 yards per side and work up to 100 yards.

For video demonstration of these exercises, click here

PDFIn this month’s issue, Mike O’Hara discusses hypermobile joints and exercise, 4 steps to fitness success are given, and information on how to stop back pain from disturbing sleep is presented.  Check out page three for a description of the latest class offered at Fenton Fitness– Suspension Shred.

Download Here

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

PDFThis month’s issue has information on the lumbopelvic hip complex including written/video exercises.  Mike O’Hara also gives information on unstable pressing exercises to improve posture and improve motor control and symmetry.  Also read about the Becoming Unstoppable clinic for athletes 13 years and older that will be help April 30th at Fenton Fitness.

Download Here

Suspension_LandingMost physical therapy patients are injured in a failed attempt to control deceleration. Most sports injuries do not involve contact from an opponent or any force greater than bodyweight. The athlete just plants a foot and attempts to move in a new direction. When an athlete is unable to properly control deceleration, he or she becomes much more prone to ankle, knee, hip, and even upper extremity injuries. Teaching physical therapy patients and athletes how to properly manage deceleration forces is an essential component of training.

For many people, it has been years since they have performed any jumping or hopping. They do not possess the core stability, balance, and proprioception necessary to control full bodyweight activities. A suspension trainer permits a gradual introduction on landing mechanics. You can slowly and steadily add load as you become more proficient.
Suspension Landing Performance

Use a TRX or similar suspension trainer attached at least nine feet up the wall. Grab the handles and face the attachment point. Place the feet at least hip distance apart. Bend at the ankles, knees, and hips. You will perform an easy jump and use the assist of the suspension trainer to support your landing. Attempt to land softly and hold a flexed ankle, knee, and hip position. We call this “sticking the landing.” Keep the knees in line with the feet and the torso upright.

Focus on landing in a smooth and efficient manner. The height of the jump is not important. Perform this exercise at the beginning of your workout, when you are rested and fresh. Five landings or less is a good start for most people.

This is the practice progression that I have found works well:

1) Basic bilateral landing
2) Rotation landing
3) Split landing
4) Single leg landing

Deceleration training is important for keeping older individuals free from falls and living independently for a lifetime. I recommend you take the time to get some instruction on proper deceleration mechanics.

For video demonstration of suspension landing performance, click here: Video_Practicing_Landing

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Pikesaw_photo“What is your favorite exercise for_________?” (Fill in the body part)

I get this question all the time.  I am not a big believer in body part training, so I usually say front squats or the Turkish Get Up.  Right behind those two exercises is the Pikesaw performed on a suspension trainer.  The Pikesaw engages the entire chain of muscles from the ankle to the elbows.  Core stability training is all about isometrically resisting the forces that attempt to bend the spine, flare the rib cage, and tilt the pelvis.  Every time you open your laptop, you reload the lazy scapula muscle virus into your neural network.  Most gym goers could use a revitalizing vaccination of scapula on rib cage stability training provided by the Pikesaw.

Pikesaw Performance
Set up the suspension trainer so the foot straps are at mid-shin level.  Lay prone and place the feet in the straps.  Assume a push up position plank (PUPP).  Keep the knees straight and pull the hips up toward the ceiling and let the head travel between the arms.  In a steady and controlled manner, return to the PUPP.  Keeping the body straight and stable, move the foot straps of the TRX backward by pushing with the arms.  Attempt to get the hands under the forehead.  Return to the PUPP and repeat the Pikesaw.  Perform five to ten repetitions.

View performance of the pikesaw here: Video_Pikesaw
-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

The exercises that produce the greatest long term pay off are the activities that slow the aging process and prevent injury.  I believe these activities should be part of all training programs.  One of my favorite exercises is the Suspension Push Up. 

Dr. Janda has told us that certain muscles tend to become weaker earlier in the aging process.  They are the deltoids, triceps, rhomboids, abdominal, and gluteal muscles.  The suspension push up activates all of these muscles.  If you are looking to stay strong and fight off the effects of aging, you cannot get much better than a suspension push up.  Paired up with a suspension row, you have a superior push-pull upper body strengthening and core stability program that is hard to beat.

A common cause of chronic shoulder pain is poor glenohumeral joint stability.  The humeral head (golf ball) does not stay properly centered against the glenoid (golf tee).  Muscle imbalances, prior injuries, and inappropriate training can all create an environment where the humeral head moves too far upward and forward.  Excessive humeral head movement is the cause of acromioclavicular joint degeneration, or tears in the rotator cuff tendons and damage to the articular surfaces and support cartilage of the shoulder.   Suspension Push Ups can retrain glenohumeral joint stability.

Most pressing-type strengthening exercises do little to enhance glenohumeral stability and many exercises such as wide grip bench pressing and dumbbell flys enhance instability.  Performing the push up with rings or suspension loops produces an outward pull on the shoulders as the arms move through a horizontal push.  The pectoral muscles, internal rotators, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, and deltoids must work as a team to prevent the rings from moving apart.   The unstable nature of the rings or loops helps to restore the dynamic isometric control of the humeral head on the glenoid.  An added bonus is the anti-extension, core stability demand.  Your arms can only push what your spine can hold up.

The position of the suspension rings or loops is important.  They must hang at least four feet apart.  This assures you will be working against a horizontal abduction force (outward pull) during the exercise.  A single strap TRX is not appropriate for this exercise.  The rings or loops should hang about eight inches from the floor.  Get into a push up position and set your feet at hip width.  Maintain a good strong grip on the rings or loops –this helps recruit better glenohumeral stability.  Keep the body straight in one long line from the ears to the ankles.  Tighten the gluteal muscles and pull the shoulder blades down the back.  Lower slowly by pulling the elbows in toward the sides of the body.  Hold briefly at the bottom of the push up, and then push back up to the starting position.  Maintain a steady inward pressure on the rings or loops at all times.  Perform two or three sets of six to ten repetitions.

Common mistakes during suspension push ups are flaring the elbows, holding the hips too high or losing core stability, and performing a circus seal push up.  Make sure you move through a full range of motion.

You can make this exercise more challenging by elevating your feet on a box, adding resistance from a weight vest, or by slowing the tempo of performance.

To view video demonstration of the Suspension Push Up, click on the link below:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytFMAdPv_XE&feature=youtu.be

-Michael O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

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