Archive for August, 2010
Chain Training Part Two: Increase Relative Body Weight Strength with Chains
Last week we discussed how chain can be attached to barbells in order to develop speed, strength, and explosive power.
In case you missed part 1 CLICK HERE.
Chains are also a great way to load body weight exercises.
Body weight exercises are a great way to develop strength in both athletic and general fitness populations. They require the user to control their own weight and stabilize their entire body. This is obviously important for athletic performance, but it is also important for overall health to be able to control one’s own body weight.
There are ways to make body weight exercises easier for beginner(which we will discuss in a different article), but for today we will show your how to make body weight exercises more challenging once you have mastered a particular exercise. Once an athlete can do 8, 10, and 12 repetitions with their own body weight without breaking a sweat it is time they start to add additional load.
Dumbbells and weight vests are fine choices for loading athletes, but sometimes those options aren’t available or practical in certain situations. There are also times when the coach has a very strong individual and a weight vest is simply not enough load to make the exercise effective. Chains can help solve these problems.
The are two basic ways to utilize chains to add resistance to body weight exercises. The chain can be simply draped over the athletes body or the athlete can use clip to attach the links together and put them on like a vest that looks like the letter “X”(see picture below).
When draping chains over the body I recommend using the middle link of the chain to ensure the chain is put on evenly on both sides. For exercises that are prone(face down) I recommend “criss crossing” the chains on the body forming the letter “X”. These exercises would included push up variations(see video below) as well as planks.
For exercises that are standing you can choose to attach them like a vest( as seen with the neutral grip pull ups in the first picture in the article) or they can be draped over the neck of the athlete as shown in the video below. If the athlete has a cervical(neck) limitations the “weight vest style” is a better option. Other exercises that could be loaded in this manner are pull up variations, lunge variations, squat variations, as well as others. This video is a demonstration of a single leg high box squat.
Chains can also to draped over the torso to load exercises like glute bridges and hip thrusts. Here is a video of an athlete performing back elevated single leg glute bridges with chain.
These are just some quick examples of ways to load body weight exercises. If you have some of your own body weight exercises please share them with a comments below! What are your favorites to load with chain? I will also include an article on single leg training in the near future as well if you have any questions about some of the exercises mentioned.
More Chain Training to come! Stay tuned.
It seems like a simple question at first, you might say to be healthy, be better at your sports and many other responses, but why do you do those things. I want to spread the question again and I WANT YOU TO ANSWER THE QUESTION. Really think about it.
WHY DO YOU TRAIN? This really could be why do you do ANYTHING, but we will focus on TRAINING with this post.
Here is my answer.
I think as a fitness professional it is of PARAMOUNT importance to lead by example and get UNDER THE BAR.
My athletes respect me so much more because I put myself through the same grueling workouts that they go through. How can I be an effective strength coach if I am not constantly trying to get BIGGER and STRONGER myself?
Training to me is a METAPHOR for LIFE….
I simply want to be the best I can be. Whether it is powerlifting, being a strength coach, or being an effective educator, I want to get a little BETTER each day. In life and training there are GOOD days and BAD days, but every day if you DO YOUR BEST and GIVE 100% every time you are going to get BETTER.
ATTITUDE is EVERYTHING! You need to have the right MINDSET to get BETTER. Stay POSITIVE and BELIEVE you are MAKING PROGRESS and you will!
I read books on training, watch instructional videos, meet with strength coaches, go to seminars, practice my techniques, and seek out the best methods for recovery. You can’t make EXCUSES. You have to FIND A WAY to GET IT DONE. FIND A WAY TO WIN!
Training gets me STRONGER both PHYSICALLY and MENTALLY. I seek out the BEST training partners I can find and learn from them. I don’t want to be the STRONGEST in my group I want to be the WEAKEST and then CLIMB to the top.
In life and in training you get better by surrounding yourself with POSITIVE people. People who will SUPPORT YOUR GOALS. Good Training PARTNERS will put you in your place when YOU ARE NOT PUSHING HARD ENOUGH or WHEN YOU ARE DOING TOO MUCH. They will tell you when your TECHNIQUE is on or when it needs some work.
Training teaches you to deal with ADVERSITY and NEVER GIVE UP. When you feel like you have nothing left to give you have to give that little extra, just like in life.
If you apply these life lessons you can be a WINNER in TRAINING and in LIFE.
I strive to be the best I CAN BE.
That is why I train.
Educate, Motivate, Dominate
Increase Hip Mobility and Thoracic Extension with Overhead Squats
By John Gaglione
Over the next few weeks I will be outlining some exercises that will help improve squat technique. Squats are one of the best exercises to improve leg strength. Squatting is also a fundamental movement pattern to learn since a good squat requires a great deal of mobility in key areas for athletics. A well executed squat requires mobility from the ankles, hips and the thoracic spine, which can help transfer to a solid athletic stance on the field. The problem is many people do not know how to squat properly or they may not have the adequate mobility to do so. The cook squat to overhead squat is a great way to teach someone how to squat with proper form as well as gain mobility.
The most common mistakes I see when people are performing squats are that their backs are rounded, their knees cave in, and weight shifts forward causing their heels to come off the ground. Many of these mistakes can be due to a hip , ankle, or thoracic spine mobility limitation or it can be form related. This exercise will help improve mobility in these areas as well it well help reinforce good technique to those athletes who already possess adequate mobility.
In the first part of this exercise the athlete will set up in their squat stance will the toes pointed slightly out. As a general rule of thumb the wider the squat stance the more the toes will flare out to the side. In general most athletes will want to set up with a moderate stance, where as a powerlifter might want to set up wider in order to limit the range of motion so he or she can squat more weight. The athlete will grab the insides of their feet and pull themselves down into a deep squat position. They want to “keep their chest proud” and be able to “wiggle their toes”. This will ensure the spine is in a safe position and the weight is shifted toward the heels. This part of the move places emphasis on stretching out the hips and improving ankle mobility. The athlete should also push their knees outside of their forearms. This will ensure the knees track the feet and stay “out”.
The coach should really emphasize keeping the chest up becuase it is very common for the athlete to pull themselves so far down that their lower back(lumbar spine) rounds and the pelvis shifts backward(posterior pelvic tilt). I have included a picture below, which does a pretty good job of illustrating this. The person in the picture is squatting deeper than should with his hip mobility.
From this position the athlete should actively pull the shoulder blades down and back (retract and depress) even harder and bring the arms overhead while sitting back in the deep squat position. Make sure when the athlete lets go of their feet that their body doesn’t change position. The athlete should proceed to drive their heels into the floor and execute the overhead squat. The athlete would then repeat for a given number of repetitions. This part of the exercise helps to improve thoracic spine extension and improve the function of the stabilizer muscles in the upper back while squatting. By keeping the arms overhead it will also help teach the athlete to keep the chest up.
This exercise will help improve squat technique with our athletes. I like to use this move as part of the dynamic warm up, but it can certainly be used as a strength building exercise for young athletes as well. The cook squat to overhead squat will help build mobility in the ankles, hips, and thoracic spine and can be a great addition to your dynamic warm up. I will continue to included more drills like this to help improve the squat and other big lifts as well.
I hope you enjoyed the exercise of the week! Any question please feel free to leave a comment or e-mail me at email@example.com. Keeping training hard!
Educate, Motivate, Dominate
By BARBARA BRENSEKE
Antioxidants, just as the name implies, are substances that combat the process of oxidation. Oxygen is necessary to many body processes, and oxidation is a natural chemical reaction, which takes place both within our bodies and in our environment. Some common oxidative reactions are the rusting of iron and the darkening of foods like potatoes when they are exposed to the oxygen in air. Although the oxidation reactions that take place in our bodies are normal, they can be harmful when they produce free radicals or chemically active molecules that have a charge on them due to an excess or deficient number of electrons. These charged, free radicals are very unstable and they try to scavenge or donate electrons to surrounding tissues, and while doing this, they often damage these tissues. Blood vessel damage that leads to heart disease is believed to be caused by free radical damage. Cancer, some degenerative eye problems, old age, and other inflammatory conditions are also believed to be affected by these unstable byproducts of oxidation. One would assume, therefore, that antioxidants could be very useful in preventing or possibly curing many diseases. And some studies have shown them to be helpful.
Some common antioxidants found in foods are vitamins A, E, and C, the mineral, selenium, and some carotenoids and polyphenols. Carotenoids and polyphenols are part of a group of substances called phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are found in plants and they affect the taste, color, scent, and other characteristics of the plants. There are thousands of phytochemicals in each vegetable, fruit and whole grain. A lot of studies have been done to explore what they specifically do in our bodies, but we have only begun to see the “tip of the iceberg” of this research.
We have a lot yet to learn about phytochemicals, antioxidants and how they benefit us. Although some studies have shown us that they may affect our bodies in a positive way, some research has been a little discouraging. A recent study to examine whether or not beta-carotene, vitamins A, E, and C and selenium would decrease deaths in adults was done. The results showed that taking a combination of these antioxidants would not make a difference. In fact, taking carotene, vitamin A and vitamin E separately may actually increase mortality. Vitamin C alone did not appear to affect the death rate in the studied individuals and selenium tended to decrease it, but more testing needs to be done. Other studies to find out if vitamin E helps slow heart disease have also not been as promising as expected. And, additional research of beta-carotene has shown us that it may not help prevent heart disease or cancer as we once hoped.
This does not mean, however, that we should give up on antioxidants. There have been some promising studies of these substances in addition to the not-so-promising ones. According to some researchers, a combination of vitamins C and E, beta-carotene and zinc may reduce the risk of developing a degenerative eye disease (age-related macular degeneration), which is a leading cause of blindness in our aging population. Also, vitamins E and C may help protect us from developing Alzheimer’s disease. And selenium seems to play a role in preventing prostate cancer in men. It appears, therefore, that there are some benefits to consuming antioxidants.
At this point, however, it is impossible to formulate any meaningful guidelines for how much of the different antioxidants we should eat. We can assume that it is safe to eat foods that contain antioxidants. In fact, a very good way of including more of these health-promoting substances in our diet is to eat the amount of fruits and vegetables recommended by the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Eating a variety of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily may be our best shot at getting these antioxidants in the least risky way. If you choose to take supplements, a safe rule of thumb to follow is to take no more than 1 ½ times the recommended daily value of vitamins and minerals, unless you are taking them for a specific medical reason that you have discussed with your doctor. Also, keep in mind that all health claims are not necessarily true. As we continue to study antioxidants and their possible benefits, we will discover many more uses for them; but, for now, exercise caution. And please stay informed as nutrition experts continue to develop better guidelines for including them in our diets.
Chain Training: Get Stronger and Faster
Many coaches utilize various forms of plyos, Olympic lifts, and box jumps in order to increase power, get stronger, and faster. I use many of these methods myself with my athletes, but many coaches do not have a lot of time to teach Olympic lifts(Snatch, Clean and Jerk, High Pull, etc) or may not feel comfortable teaching them. We can utilize the squat, bench, and deadlift in order to increase power and strength as using the Dynamic Effort Method and Max Effort Method. This is particularly effective with the combination of chains.
Many people think the bench, squat, and deadlift can only be utilized for building “slow strength”, but the reality is any lift performed explosively can be implemented to increase power. We can utilize what is called the Dynamic Effort method in order to develop speed and explosive power. As a general rule of thumb we can simply monitor bar speed in order to figure out what weight will work best, but I will give some percentages as mere guidelines for implementing this method.
The Dynamic Effort Method is typically 40%-70% of 1RM for 6-12 Sets of 1-3 Repetitions. In general If we use a lighter percents we will use more repetitions and more chain weight. When we use a higher percents we will use less chain weight and less repetitions.
We like to utilized chains with the Dynamic Effort method, since the chains on the barbell are a form of accommodating resistance. Accommodating resistance means that as the weight is lowered the chains will pile up on the ground and the weight will be lighter in the bottom of the motion. As the athlete reverses the motion and raises the weight back up the chain will come off the ground and the load will be heavier in the lock out position. This accommodates for the athlete’s natural strength curve, where the athlete is normally stronger in the lock out position. This teaches the athlete to accelerate through the entire lift. When using straight weight the athlete will naturally decelerate, since the weight will be the same through the entire range of motion. Since the weight gets heavier at the top the athlete is forced to accelerate through the entire range of motion.
In this example shown below the athlete is using about 60% of their max for the Safety Squat Bar Box Squat and 80 pounds of chain weight. Depending on the strength of the athlete we will utilize any where from 1-3 chains per side, which equates to 40-120 pounds of total chain weight. Each chain weighs approximately 20 pounds each and can be purchased through Elite Fitness Systems.
The chains help build a strong lockout and a powerful start for all types of lifts. If the athlete isn’t explosive the athlete will fail since the weight gets heavier at the top of the lift. The athlete is FORCED to move the weight fast in order to lock out the weight. When setting up the chain for the squat and the bench a smaller “feeder” chain should be used in order to have most of the chain de-loaded on the floor at the bottom position. This allowed for the greatest contrast of weight to be loaded and de-loaded in order to improve speed and lockout strength.
For the deadlift and floor press no feeder chain is necessary I like to use special collars for the deadlift, but they can be draped over the bar at the middle link of the chain for a quick and effective set up. You can also implement the chain for strength work and go heavier than 90% as shown below.
When we implement loads greater than 90% for 1 to 3 sets we call this the Max Effort method. True max effort work is done with single repetitions, but with our athletes we typically utilize 5RM(Rep Max), 3RM, or 2RM loads instead. This is not to be done with beginner athletes or clients. They should have solid technique and a good base of strength and strength endurance before utilizing the Max Effort method.
Here is a video showing how the chains can be draped over the bar for the floor press. This particular video was done for strength and the loads were very heavy. This athlete in particular bench presses around 305 pounds so we added 80 pounds of chain weight for the floor press. Some one who benches much less than this might only use 40 pounds of total chain weight for the floor press. This is an example of the modified Max Effort method since the load is greater than 90%, but is not a single repetition.
Chains can also be utilized for a variety of other exercises as well that I will outline in future articles. Chains can be used to improve strength, speed, and a help build a strong lock out for a variety of different lifts. If coaches are not comfortable teaching Olympic lifts, the bench, squat, and deadlift combined with chains can be used to develop an explosive and strong athlete. If you would like to have more information of how to utilize or set up chains in your workout please comment below.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s trainer tip!
Make your Goal Setting SMARTER
by John Gaglione
“You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.”
People want to get stronger, leaner, faster, but often times they do not have a goal in mind. Let me ask you something, would you go on a trip without a destination? Would you travel somewhere without a map, GPS, or directions? If you do not no where you are going then it is impossible to get better and reach your goals.
In order to get better you need a PLAN of attack. You need to write down you goals. By writing down your goals this makes the task real and tangible. Before you write it down the goal is just a thought, an idea a dream. Make the goal real by writing it down and put the goal some place where you can see it every day in order to remind you of what it is you are working on.
Make your goals specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, timely. I will give an example of a goal I had of squatting 675 pounds at my last power lifting meet, but the information in this article can be applied to any goal.
I wanted to squat at least 675(which is 7 plates on each side on a normal 45lb bar). My goal was not to simply squat more, I had a specific number in mind for a specific competition. A person may want to lose 10% body fat or 15 pounds. These are all numbers than can be quantified and measure in a certain amount of time. Specific really entails of the other elements as well.
Make sure the goal is measurable. I wanted to squat 675 at my next powerlifting competition. The way I measure the goal is by going to the meet and getting on the platform in front of three judges. The judges will make sure my form is good and I make good depth. If I don’t do a squat according to the rules the lift will not count.
If someones goal is fat loss they should know how much they want to lose. Numbers and units help us quantify what we are doing. I want to look better is not a good goal, because better is very vague. I want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months is a good goal because it is something we can measure with a scale. Some people may not care how much they weight, but they want a six pack. There will be certain weight and body fat percentage that will give them that look and that number should be their goal.
Goals should be realistic. I squatted 690 in training, but it was a little high and my form was a little off. In a competition if you are a little high the squat will not count. Even though my depth was questionable I was confident that I had the strength to squat at least 675 to proper depth. I also had a plan of attack to reach my goal. I trained with several powerlifters who were better than me. Many of the people I had trained with squatted more than, 700, 800, and even 900 pounds. I surrounded myself with good people and I got better as a result. I was in a realistic setting for reaching my goal. I was consistently pushing to have better form and work harder each and every workout. The other thing that helped a lot is I saw many people squat in excess of 700 pounds every week so in my brain I knew I could eventually do it too.
The environment you are in is crucial for success. If you want to lose weight you should be around people who support your goals. If you want to become a better wrestler you should wrestle with people who have more experience and better technique than you. People need to get out of their comfort zone and be challenged in order to get better.
Many times people ask me why do I compete in powerlifting? As a an athlete growing up I always went 100% in every drill and in every training session in order to get better. I learned as an athlete that the harder your work the better you will get, but you also need to work intelligently as well. Now I am a strength coach and a trainer I want to continue to get stronger and smarter in order to help myself as well as my clients. If I wasn’t constantly trying to get stronger why should anyone listen to me about strength. I will constantly push myself to my body’s limit, the same my I expect my athletes and clients to do. I strive to not only “talk the talk” , but more importantly “walk the walk.” I want to be a role model for my athletes/clients, inspire them to do better and achieve their goals.
Make sure your goals have meaning to you. Why do you want to get leaner, jump higher, or run faster? Make sure these goals are relevant to your life and have meaning. I know when I played sports I learned many life lessons about team work, work ethic, sacrifice, and goal setting. Training for sports taught me so much about life and helped prepared me for the real world and molded me into a better coach and trainer as a result.
Make sure you have a time frame for each goal and set mini goals along the way. I knew in order to squat 675 at some point I would have to squat 600 first, then 650 and so forth. My goal was to squat 675 on August 7th 2010, which goes back to being very specific. Make sure you have enough time to complete your goal and don’t be afraid to re-adjust your time frame if you don’t make it. Constantly log your progress in order to see if you are approaching your goal. I keep track of my lifts in an exercise journal on my computer to track my progress and to see if I am getting stronger. This also helps me see what assistance exercises are working for me.
If you are trying to get leaner keep a food journal. Keep track of what your are eating. Many times just by writing the food down will help you eat better since you are more conscious of how much you are eating and what you are eating. You should also weigh yourself once a week at the same time in the same clothes in order to monitor progress for weight loss.
I hope these tips will inspire you to have SMART goals for the rest of the year. And in case you are wondering I did get a 675 squat at my meet and I already have my goals written down for the next one!
Work hard and work SMART and you will achieve all of your goals whether it be in fitness or just in life!
Educate, Motivate, Dominate
Exercise of the Week: Gain Rotational Power with Quadruped Extension Rotation
Today we are going to show you an exercise that will help you gain rotational power and will help improve your golf swing!
I just got back from visiting Anthony Renna of Five Iron Fitness in White Plains today and we talked a lot of how we can improve rotational power in our athletes. If you do not know Anthony he is a prominent trainer who works with high end golfers and also is the host of Mike Boyle’s Strength Coach Podcast. If you want to improve your fitness or your golf game I highly recommend you check both of these resources out!
During my visit we spoke about how mobility and flexibility is a highly important component to our strength and power program. We can improve rotational power simply by gaining mobility and the ability to rotate through a greater range of motion. The problem is many golfers tend to gain their range of motion from the wrong places. Some joints are designed for mobility and other are designed for stability. Many people tend to rotate with their lumbar spine(low back) instead of rotating from their thoracic spine(upper-middle back). Many golfers tend to have back pain because they are rotating from the wrong place. Here is a diagram so you can see the difference.
By learning to rotate from the right places we can eliminate back pain when we play rotational sports as well as improve our performance. Once we understand where we need to rotate from we can then work to gain mobility in that area. A great exercise for increasing mobility in the thoracic spine is the Quadruped Extension Rotation. Here is a video below.
Quadruped simply means that we are setting up on all four limbs and the extension rotation is what we are doing to our upper back. When performing this exercise think about pulling the shoulder blades down and back and arch the middle back(extension) then start to rotate toward the ceiling(rotation). A good cue here is to follow your elbow with your eyes.
The quadruped extension rotation is a great way to gain mobility in order to improve rotational power for various sports such as golf, baseball, tennis and even throws in combat sports such as judo and greco roman wrestling.
Any questions about this exercise? Feel free to leave a comment below
Tuesday Trainer Tip with Coach Gaglione
Increase Power and Strength with Contrast Training!
Athletes need to be strong and explosive in order to compete at a high level. With advanced athletes we can use complexes in order to gain strength and power simultaneously. You can simply pair a strength exercise with a power exercise. For example you can take a quad dominant pattern and do a set of back squats(strength) followed by squat jumps(power).
The idea behind contrast training is to recruit a lot of muscle fibers before performing a power exercise in order fire more muscle fibers and produce more force during the power movement.
You can use low reps and really focus on max strength and power or you can use slightly higher reps to focus on strength and power endurance. These are great for any athlete who needs to be strong and explosive. I would consider 1-5 repetitions for more strength and power based and 6-12 repetitions for more strength and endurance based training. Three or four sets of each exercise should suffice for a great strength and power workout!
An example of a Contrast training workout would be. 3-4 Sets of 5-10 reps for each exercise.
A1) Front Squat (Quad Dominant)
A2) Box Squat Jump
B1) Weighted Chin Up(Upper Body Pulling)
B2) Medicine Ball Slam
C1)Sumo Deadlift(Hip Dominant)
C2) Broad Jumps
D1) Eccentric Emphasis Dumbbell Bench Press(Upper Body Pushing)
D2) Clap Push Up
Educate, Motivate, Dominate
Tumminello, Nick.(2009) Contrast Training for Size, Strength, Power. Testosterone Nation Magazine.
BARBARA BRENSEKE’S NUTRITION NEWS
LOW-FAT GLAZED CHICKEN IN CROCK-POT
Recipe By : Serving Size : 6
6 oz Orange juice, frozen concentrate
3 Chicken breasts — split
1/2 tsp Marjoram
1 d Ground nutmeg
1 d Garlic powder
1/4 c Water
2 tablespoon cornstarch
Preparation Time: 8:00 minutes
1. Combine thawed orange juice concentrate (not regular orange
juice) in bowl along with the marjoram, garlic powder and nutmeg.
Split the chicken breasts to make 6 serving sizes. Dip each piece into
the orange juice to coat completely. Place in crock pot. Pour the
remaining orange juice mixture over the chicken.
2. Cover and cook on low for 7-9 hours, or cook on high for 4 hours if
you wish. Precise cooking time is not important in crock-pot cooking.
3. When chicken is done, remove to serving platter. Pour the sauce
that remains in crock-pot into a saucepan. Mix the cornstarch and
water and stir into the juice in pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring
constantly, until thick and bubbly. Serve the sauce over the chicken.
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