(810) 750-1996 PH
Fenton Fitness (810) 750-0351 PH
Fenton Physical Therapy (810) 750-1996 PH
Linden Physical Therapy (810) 735-0010 PH
Milford Physical Therapy (248) 685-7272 PH

Learn more about Rehab, Sports Medicine & Performance

up

Heat Or Ice For My Shoulder?

Try Standing Upright

In the gym, at the golf course, and during a visit to the hardware store, I am asked my advice on abolishing shoulder pain.  What everyone wants is the magical exercise, miracle ointment, or newest thermal treatment.  What they need–and what they do not want to hear–is that they have to fix their horrible posture.

Sustained poor posture can alter the function of your shoulder complex.  The shoulder girdle has only one, very small, bone to body connection.  The entire system is an interconnected series of muscles and ligaments.  Sustained slouched over postures create a faulty length-tension relationship in these structures that places adverse stress and strain on the four joints of the shoulder and the nerves in the neck and upper back.

OMG I sit lmGm (like my GrandMa).  

Shoulder posture pain problems are happening earlier.  I do not know if it is more tech toys, less physical education in schools, or a change in youth activity levels, but in the physical therapy clinic we are seeing younger people with older people postural shoulder pain.  They sit on the treatment table in extremely slouched over positions and are unable to pull themselves up into a correct position.  Most are unconvinced that how they sit and stand could be the generator of their pain problem.

What exercises can I do?

Stronger muscles will help restore posture.  The shoulder evolved to pull, lift, and carry.  The muscles that keep the shoulder strong and happy are in the back of the shoulder.  They hold the shoulder in a healthy position on the body.  Most of us never perform any pulling or lifting activities other than hoisting our laptop or toting our smart phone.   Making your shoulder girdle muscles stronger will help, but being mindful of your posture during the day is the most important factor.  Physical Therapist and US Soccer Team Trainer Sue Falsone says “You can’t out rep poor posture.”

Start with how you work and live.

Eight hours a day for five days a week equals 2080 hours of computer / desk time a year for the average office worker.  Add in a daily one hour car commute and another two hours of television a day and we push the Monday through Friday slump numbers to 2860 hours a year (120 days).  We have spent millions on state of the art chairs, elevated monitors, slanting keyboards, wrist rests, and lumbar supports.  Office modifications, while well intentioned and generally a good idea, cannot compete with 2860 hours (this number is probably low) of sitting in a year.  In order to fight against the postural stress that creates pain, we need to get up and move.

Recent research on prolonged sitting has demonstrated that the amount of movement we need to stay healthy is greater than we once thought.  To combat the adaptive changes of prolonged sitting, it is suggested you get up and move every twenty minutes.  Set a timer, enlist the help of your coworkers, and work at this every workday for a month.  I believe you will be surprised by the results.

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#7—Go Easy On Caffeine And Sleep More.

Caffeine is one of the most widely used drugs in the United States.  We consume it in coffee, tea, pop, energy drinks, and sometimes even in pill form.  We often consume caffeine to help us feel more awake and alert or to elevate our performance.  Often times, this is done in an effort to undo the lethargic effects of inadequate sleep.  Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to caffeine.  These individuals can experience increased heart rate and/or blood pressure which puts extra strain on the cardiovascular system.  All the caffeine in the world will not make up for the poor hormonal profile which results from low levels of sleep and eventually leads to decreased muscle mass and increased fat mass.  In addition, the stimulating effects of caffeine wear off over time and your body requires more and more to create the same effect.  It is far better in your 20’s to establish a sleep and waking routine that allows you to consistently get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.  The well-formed habit will then be easier to maintain as you age and adopt a more complicated schedule with work, kids, a spouse, etc.

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#5—Get Strong.

Too many people (women in particular) place high priority on being “toned” and, therefore, funnel training time toward aerobic-based cardio activities like jogging, the elliptical, and group aerobics classes.  Any added resistance comes in the way of foam coated dumbbells, weighing less than most purses, for 2-3 sets of 12-20 reps, training primarily muscle endurance.  There are so many problems with this approach, but I will just touch on the most significant.  First, if your goal is to appear “toned,” the best way to get there is to have more muscle and/or less body fat.  The most efficient way to accomplish this goal long term is to build up your strength, so that you can do more work in less time over the coming years and decades.  The more work you can perform, the more calories you will burn, and the easier it will be to keep body fat off.

Secondly, real strength training (when you lift more weight over time) is one of the best tools for maintaining muscle mass, tendon/ligament strength, and bone density.  There is a narrow window in your life, which tends to peak out in your mid to late 20s, when it is significantly easier to build and maintain bone density and accumulate more muscle mass.  These tissues, by and large, need to last you the remaining 6-8 decades of your life so don’t wait to not have them to start thinking about them.

Finally, strength is one of the best tools we have for maintaining a high quality of life and staying out of a nursing home.  It might not be top priority or sound sexy when you are 21, but it will be largely too late when you are 61.

To hear Tom and Barb Doescher’s advice, see the video here: https://youtu.be/ce_n4ZF6HPg

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

 

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

Advice From The Experts At Fenton Fitness

Tara Parker-Pope wrote a great article in the October 17, 2016 edition of The New York Times entitled “The 8 Health Habits Experts Say You Need in Your 20s.”  While I agree with some of these recommendations, we at Fenton Fitness and Fenton Physical Therapy have some suggestions of our own.

#5—Stay Mobile.

We’ve all heard the cliche “use it or lose it,” and when it comes to mobility, nothing applies more.  The human body is incredibly adaptable, and if you don’t regularly take your joints through their full range of motion, the ill begin to lose it.  Look at any infant or toddler and you will notice how mobile they are (though they lack lots of stability).  We all start off with this range of motion but many of us manage to lose it somewhere along the way.  Notice I said mobility and not flexibility.  Mobility requires that you can control your body through these full ranges of motion.  The best way to maintain mobility is to utilize as large a range of motion as possible when doing things like squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups, etc.  Also, try incorporating different rolls, crawls, and get ups to keep things moving and stabilizing properly.

To view a client performing a Turkish Get Up which is great for mobility, click here: https://youtu.be/bQl8P6YuGMw

-Jeff Tirrell, CSCS, Pn1

To read the article, click on the link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/10/16/well/live/health-tips-for-your-20s.html?_r=0

 

 

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.

Download Here

Health and Ergonomic Assist Gift That Get Used

I have some fitness and health promoting ergonomic gift recommendations for the 2016 holiday season.  I have used all of these products and have been happy with the results.  Most can be purchased on line and this allows you to devote more time to a fitness program.  In the tradition of all great holiday shoppers, I like to get one for me and another to give.

Personal Training
Giving a healthy holiday gift is easy at Fenton Fitness and Athletic Center.  Our Christmas gift certificates can be used for any of the training programs at the club.  Team training classes and personal training packages make great gifts.  Numerous studies have shown that individuals who 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 everyone reach their fitness goals.

Jungle Gym XT Suspension Trainer
The creation of user-friendly suspension trainers set off a mini revolution in fitness.  If you go into a fitness center and they do not have multiple suspension trainers readily available, you need to find a new gym.  The Lifeline Jungle Gym XT is an elegantly simple and extremely versatile device that should be a part of every home gym.  Suspension trainer exercises can be scaled to any level of fitness and are a valuable weapon in our fight against age, injury, and occupational stress.  At $90.00, the Jungle Gym XT wins the price war and, in my experience, it has worked well in both commercial and clinical conditions.

Aerocart by Worx
worx-toolsGardening and landscaping activities are responsible for many of the referrals to physical therapy.  The afflicted gardener has tweaked a lower back or strained a knee after hoisting a heavy object or spending too much time slumped over the flowerbeds.  A single ergonomic tool can help remedy both of those problems.  The Aerocart from Worx is a gardener’s Swiss Army Knife.  It functions as a lightweight wheelbarrow, handcart, rock lifter, snow plow, pull wagon, and gardening stool.   The Aerocart costs $140 and you can get a snow plow- my favorite- and the wagon attachments for another $100.  I have used this tool to push snow, haul firewood, rearrange rocks, and move soil.  The fact that the bucket does not hold mega volume prevents a user from overloading his spine.  This device will extend the gardening career of the avid weed puller on your Christmas list.

All Purpose Bands From Perform Better
One of the best strength training devices is a set of the All Purpose Bands.  These bands are sturdy dipped latex products made by Lifeline.  They have two handles on one end and a loop system that makes them easy to anchor in either a closed door or around a stable upright device.  All Purpose Bands can be used in a home gym set up, but my suggestion is that you anchor a set in a door at work and fight off the debilitating stress of all day sitting with some daily rowing, hip hinging, and scapula retraction exercises.  A set of All Purpose Bands costs $25.00, and as your strength improves, you can purchase the next level of resistance in the series (light—purple, pink, orange, yellow, blue, black—strong) from performbetter.com.

Varidesk Conversion Desk
standing-desk-pro-plus-36_main-10a88d7d8eef66cbc9309ff1100d93b41Human physiology was designed to function under the physical demands of standing and walking.  Much of the now rampant obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome can be linked to our species’ sudden fall into sustained sitting.  The health statistics on the damaging effects of sustained sitting are distressing.

I can think of no better health-promoting gift for a loved one than a sit to stand conversion desk.  The product I have the most experience with is the Varidesk.  It comes pre-assembled and has functioned flawlessly.  It allows the user to sit for some portion of the day and gradually transition to greater time in the standing position.  The Varidesk comes in a variety of sizes / set ups and costs $375 to $550.

My First Stand Up from Jaswig
The New York Times recently reprinted an article by Jane Brody, “Posture Affects Standing, and Not Just the Physical Kind.”  In the article, Ms. Brody talks about how poor posture creates problems across multiple areas of physical and mental well-being.  The respiratory, digestive, emotional, and neurological systems are all impacted by postural restrictions.  You are even more likely to be a victim of crime if you have a slumped over posture.  So how do you develop better posture?

My suggestion is to start with early intervention in the form of a standing workstation.  The Belgian company Jaswig, has produced a standing desk for children.  As the child grows, this adjustable wood desk travels with him.  In our physical therapy clinics, we are seeing younger people with head, neck, and upper back pain problems related to poor posture.  Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and all the other “devices” are being used at earlier ages leading to the postural breakdown that usually occurs in later years of life.   The My First Stand Up workstation from Jaswig (cost $379) is the early intervention answer.

PowerBlock Adjustable Dumbbell Set
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.  The PowerBlock company 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 (5-40 pounds) costs from $300 – $330 and you can add expansion sets as you get stronger.  My thirteen-year old self would have loved to get a set of PowerBlocks for Christmas.

Hyper Vest
Most people have busy lives and limited time to devote to fitness.  They want to get stronger, improve mobility, and maintain some degree of conditioning with minimal time commitment.  For those people, I have a suggestion: Buy a Hyper Vest Pro and get to work.

I have used the Hyper Vest Pro for many years and can vouch for its durability.  The comfort and overall function of the Hyper Vest Pro is impressive.  The side lacing system makes the fit superior to other weight vest products.  The individual weights are small and spread evenly over the front and back of the vest.  Ten pounds of small steel plates are standard with the Hyper Vest Pro.  I have found fitness clients do well with vest loads between five and twelve pounds.  At $160, the Hyper Vest Pro is more expensive than other products, but the first rate fit and comfort make it worth the money.  It is a great holiday present for the fitness fanatic on your shopping list.

Roller
gridx_matrix1If you consistently exercise, one of the best things you can do to enhance recovery between sessions is perform foam rolling soft tissue work.  Combining foam roll work with mobility drills is the secret fitness ingredient that makes chronically tight individuals more flexible.  The older you are, the harder you work, and the more frequently you train, the more you will benefit from the foam roll.  I like the roller made by Trigger-Point (tptherapy.com).  They come as a short, 13 inch version for $40.00 or the longer, 26 inch roller for $65.00.

-Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Getting up and down off the ground is a movement skill we need to maintain.  It is the functional exercise activity that keeps us safe and independent for a lifetime. Developing proficiency in getting up and down off the ground has multiple benefits.  It takes away fear, builds confidence, and increases activity in other areas of life.  Your fitness training should involve activity that makes you better at moving gracefully in and out of the positions necessary to get up and down off the ground.  

Getting up and down off the ground is largely a neural activity.  Nearly everyone has enough strength, range of motion, and balance—you just need some practice.  Physiologically, we know that movement practice makes transmission of neural signals more efficient.  Research on motor learning has taught us that repetition, ascending challenge levels, and coaching produces the best results.  The reach and roll exercise is a good starting point for improving from the ground up movement skills.

Reach and Roll Performance

reach and rollYou need some open space.  Lay on your back.  Bend the right leg up and keep the left leg straight.  Reach the left arm out at 45 degrees in relationship to the body.  Brace the abdominal muscles.  Reach across the body with the right arm and then let the head follow as you rotate over to the left.  Roll the right leg across the body and turn over onto your left side.  Return back to the supine position and then repeat the exercise to the right.  Perform five times on each side.

One direction may be much easier than the other.  Try starting with that side and add in some extra repetitions to the weaker direction.  A common mistake is leading with the head instead of with the reaching arm.  Some coaching can make ground up movement skills much easier to master.  As you get better at the reach and roll, add in a lift up onto the elbow and then hand.

View video demonstration of reach and roll here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n4B8A8rnzsQ

Michael S. O’Hara, PT, OCS, CSCS

HIp_Turn_UnderGetting up and down off the ground is a movement skill we need to maintain. It is the functional exercise activity that keeps us safe and independent for a lifetime. Developing proficiency in getting up and down off the ground has multiple benefits. It takes away fear, builds confidence, and increases activity in other areas of life. Your fitness training should involve activity that makes you better at moving gracefully in and out of the positions necessary to get up and down off the ground.

Getting up and down off the ground is largely a neural activity. Nearly everyone has enough strength, range of motion, and balance—you just need some practice. Physiologically, we know that movement practice makes transmission of neural signals more efficient. Research on motor learning has taught us that repetition, ascending challenge levels, and coaching produces the best results. The hip turn under exercise is a good starting point for improving from the ground up movement skills.

Hip Turn Under Performance
Get down on the ground in an all four stance. Lift the knees up off the ground about six inches. Lift the left foot up off the ground and reach the left leg under the body. As the body turns to the right, lift up the right hand and lower down onto the left hip. Keep the left shoulder blade down the back and the neck long. Move back to the starting position by lifting the body with the right hip and rotating over the left shoulder. Plant the right hand back to the floor and repeat the exercise to the left. Perform five repetitions on each side.
Move slowly through this exercise. One side may feel easier than the other. Spend more time practicing that direction. I have found that a few sets of bridges performed before practicing the hip turn under can awaken sleepy gluteal muscles and make the exercise easier.

Watch Video

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

Semper Pullus

Strength Is A Skill–You Just Need To Practice

The Marine Corp just decided to delay implementation of the 3 pull up proficiency mandate for female recruits as only 45% of the female soldiers could achieve this level of proficiency.  They plan on revising their training protocol and assessing the results later in the year.

Bad news sells.  The stories that broke in the newspapers and on TV all mentioned that 55% of the female recruits could not achieve three pull ups, but what they did not tell you was that the duration of the training was only sixteen weeks and that the initial level of fitness for many of the female recruits was poor.  Ask any strength coach that has trained female clients and they will tell you that the Marine Corp pass rate of 45% on the 3 pull up test is above average.

The October 28, 2013 issue of the New York Times ran an article detailing all of the reasons women are unable to perform pull ups.  Research done at the University of Dayton on a pull up training program was the basis of the New York Times article.  The program consisted of only seventeen participants, so the training protocol was far from optimal.  The fact that they were able to progress four of the seventeen participants to one pull up with this flawed three month regimen shows that nearly every female can achieve pull up prowess.

For the military, the three pull up test demonstrates that the soldier can manipulate her body weight over an obstacle.  If you can perform three pull ups, you will be able to get out of a ditch, climb a fence, and haul your body out of the water and onto a raft.  For fitness clients, the ability to perform pull ups improves posture, bulletproofs the shoulders and makes you less likely to develop head, neck, and upper back pain problems.  Pull up proficiency makes you stronger at other skills, such as push-ups, sprinting, and throwing.  I have some suggestions on how female trainees can get better at pull ups.

Do Not Train With Other Machines
Strength is a skill and just like any other skill it is neurologically very specific.  You will not get better at hitting golf balls by hitting a tennis ball–it is too different.  Lat pull down machines, incline total gym trainers, and all other devices are too different from a fixed bar pull up.  If your goal is to get better at pull ups, you have to stay away from these devices.

Perform Inverted Rows
Watch the video and add this exercise to your training program.  Inverted rows require proper positioning of the spine and shoulders.  Inverted rows will make you better at initiating the movement with the back muscles and not the arms.  The horizontal pull strength you develop with an inverted row compliments the vertical pulling skill you need to perform a bar pull up.

Do Not Train To Failure
Pull up prowess requires you to make a connection between multiple muscles in a manner that will be very new to most fitness clients.  You need to keep the neural lines of communication fresh and free from fatigue.  You will start your training with one solid repetition followed by an extended recovery.

Do Not Train Your Biceps
You need to learn to pull with your back muscles and not your arms.  Stay away from any kind of direct biceps training while you are working on your pull up program.  Your biceps will get stronger from the pull up training.  Gymnasts are the “pull up kings” of the athletic world and they perform no direct biceps exercise activity.  This was a big mistake in the University of Dayton research program.

Do Not Do A Lot Of Cardio
The University of Dayton program had their female clients do cardio activity in an effort to lower their body fat levels so they would have less to lift during a pull up.   Lots of cardio blunts your acquisition of greater strength.  It is difficult to get stronger if you are sapping your recovery capacity with lots of miles on the treadmill or bike.  Use intervals of intense work with short rest periods as a substitute.  Increasing the strength and control of your muscles keeps you lean, pain free, and healthy for a lifetime.

Improve Your Thoracic Spine Mobility
Many fitness clients have a thoracic spine- mid and upper back- that is stuck in flexion.  Hours in the car, computer work, iphone, and some poor training practices have locked them in a bent over position.  You need to be able to extend the thoracic spine in order to set the pulling muscles of the back in a proper position for a successful pull up.  A simple foam roll can help improve extension in the thoracic spine.

Train With A Band Assist
The pull up novice needs to use the assist of an elastic band.  The band gives you assist at the bottom of the pull up, and then has you working harder as you get closer to the bar.  Make sure you keep your knee down so the band does not snap off the leg.

Do Not Kip a Pull Up
“Kipping” a pull up is when you use motion of the lower body and torso to help propel your body up toward the bar.  As a physical therapist who treats people with shoulder pain problems, I love the kipping pull—especially for high repetitions.  As a strength coach interested in improving function and not injuring clients, kipping a pull up places far too much stress on the shoulders of clients who are new to overhead training.  When you have trained on improving your pull up performance for six months and can execute six solid smooth pull ups, you may be ready for some kipping pull ups.

Train Pull Ups More Often
The beginner golfer who practices five days a week is going to have an advantage over the golfer who practices twice a week.  Pull ups are a skill and newbies need to practice more often.  Get a bar set up in a doorway at home–one you must walk under frequently.  Get your kids to practice pull ups and work on this skill as a team.

Improve Rib Cage Stability
The pulling muscles of the upper back attach to your rib cage.  You need to be able to hold the front of your rib cage down with your abdominal muscles to become proficient at pull ups.  Get better at planks, ball roll outs, and the power wheel, and you will get better at pull ups.

Be Patient And Stay Consistent
It is going to take longer than three or four months to become proficient at pull ups.  You need to give this training nine months.  If you have long arms it is going to take more time to get better at pull ups.  Female Olympic level gymnasts are four feet, nine inches tall, so they make it look easy.

The Formula
Three days a week in the gym you do this:  Set up a bar with a band if you need an assist.  Perform one smooth repetition and then stop.  Go do something else as long as it is not biceps exercises or long slow duration cardio, and then come back to the bar in seven to ten minutes and do another single repetition.  Repeat this process three or four times every time you go to the gym.  As you get stronger, use a lighter assist band or perform two repetitions as long as each repetition is smooth and struggle free.  On two of your off days, perform three or four single pull ups.  Space them out throughout the day.  One pull up in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one at night.  The emphasis should be on performing every repetition in a smooth and struggle free fashion and keeping your neural system free of fatigue.  Perform inverted rows for three sets at least twice a week.  Work on your thoracic spine mobility with a foam roll, and improve the strength of the rib cage stabilizers with some planks and roll outs.

Test Progress
Every six weeks, test your maximal pull up capacity.  How many pull ups can you perform in a row with no assist.  Do not get discouraged if after six weeks you cannot perform a single.  Only 20% of the female trainees will get a single with just six weeks of training, but after twelve weeks, 40% of them will get one pull up.  Most will require five months of training to get a single pull up.  The good news is that once you achieve a level of success with pull ups, your body holds on to the neural connections that make them easy to perform.  As your skill level increases, it takes less effort to get even better at pull ups.

Michael S. O’Hara, P.T., OCS, CSCS

Categories