Archive for September, 2010
Improve you Deadlift Form Today
The Stick Good Morning
The Stick Good Morning is a great exercise to teach the deadlift. Many of the principles learned for the squat hold true for the deadlift as well. The athlete wants a tight upper back, brace abdominals, they want to sit back, and drive through their heels. A good cue is to “keep the chest proud” and be able to “wiggle your toes”. It is important to note that all of these exercises are NOT geared toward competitive powerlifting although a powerlifter would certainly benefit if they used these drills. They are more geared toward athlete and the general population.
The difference between a squat and deadlift is one is a more of a Knee or Quad dominant exercise and the other is a Hip dominant exercise. In other words a good squat has more knee range of motion and a good deadlift has more hip range motion. Many beginner trainees will want to round their back in the beginner stages when first learning to deadlift.
It is critical that people understand what a neutral spine feels like and they can get in that flat back position. The deadlift works the entire posterior chain, the grip and the core. This will help translate to a good stance when the athlete is on the field or when a regular person is picking up a heavy box or carrying groceries. Being able to pick up heavy things off the ground with proper form is a critical skill for everyday life.
The stick good morning helps teach proper spine position in the deadlift. The athlete will set up hold a stick on their back. One end of the stick will remain in contact with their upper back (near head and cervical spine) and the other remain in contact with their lower back(lumbar spine). The athlete will be instructed to perform a “hip hinge”, which essentially is the good morning exercise. If the athlete rounds their back(goes into lumbar flexion) the stick will lose contact with the body. This makes the stick good morning a great self checking tool when working on form for the deadlift. If the stick doesn’t remain in contact with the athlete the movement was performed poorly. Here is a video of the stick good morning below.
It is important for the athlete not to just squat down as that doesn’t really train the deadlift pattern effectively. The athlete wants to have a soft bend in the knee and continue to sit back as far as they can without going into lumbar flexion. They will feel a stretch in their hamstring at the end range of motion for this exercise. If the athlete is having trouble with sitting back and the athlete is squatting too much the next exercises of the week will correct that nicely.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s exercise of the week. Any questions? Please comment below
Healthy Shopping Tips: How to Read a Nutrition Label
Never Trust the Front of the Package.
No matter how enticing the claims on the front of that bag, box, bottle or can may seem, you need to spin that package around in order to get to the truth. Always look at the ingredient list and the nutrition facts. That’s the only place on a food package where you are guaranteed to get the truth… and nothing but the truth.
Pay Attention to the First Ingredient.
Remember the ingredients are listed in order of abundance. Therefore, pay careful attention to the first item on an ingredient list. In a breakfast cereal, if the first ingredient is sugar, you have to ask yourself whether this is really a cereal product. I think if the first ingredient is sugar, it is a sugar product. That means it is more like a dessert.
Beware of Common Public Enemies.
There are certain ingredients people should be certain to avoid at all cost. Public enemies number one and two are partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. Other ingredients to look out for are artificial ingredients of any kind, especially those with long, chemical names. You have to find them in a crowded ingredient list, and that’s kind of like looking for Waldo in the ‘Where’s Waldo’ game, It is looking for a familiar face in a big crowd.
Bands and Chain for Stability Part 2
Last week we discussed how hanging chains and bands can be sued for stability work with barbells. Chains and bands can also be used in combinations with body weight exercises as well as traditional Dumbbell type exercises. For all of these exercises you will need a D Handle or other cable attachment for both set ups as well as several carabineers(or one big carabineer if it can fit all the chains you want).
You can attach chains to a D Handle for a variety of different exercises. Any exercise that are standing up or lying on an incline bench will work great since the chains will be hanging in the air. The athletes will have to stabilize his or her body in order to perform the exercise correctly. Here is an example below.
When doing lower body exercises with the chains overhead makes the exercise extremely changing. By keeping the weight overhead the body is FORCED to stabilize the shoulder in order to keep them in a safe position. This also makes the exercise harder since the weight is further away from the body. Add that to the fact the chains want to start swinging all over the place and you have a extremely tough stability variation. Lunges and squat variations are perfect for this set up. Talking a walk overhead is a great variation as well. Here is an example of an overhead reverse lunge with chains.
Bands can be used for all of the exercises mentioned so far as well. You quadruple the bands through a kettlebell for all of these variations and attach them to a D hand as well. The bands are more advanced than the chains since they are much more unstable. As the athlete performs the exercise the band will make the weight oscillate through the entire range of motion. The athlete must stay extremely tight in order to maintain form throughout the entire set. Here is an example of an alternating Hanging Kettelbell Incline Press.
There are tons of other combinations that can be utilized for stability training. This is a great way to add variety to your training routine while building extra core strength and rock hard stability.
Dealing with ADVERSITY
By John Gaglione
Today we will start off the week with the story of the second wrestler I trained back in high school before I started working here at AFTLI. He still trains with me to this day when he isn’t at wrestling at College.
The other wrestler’s story starts the day of the county tournament. This wrestler’s had a “bad draw” for his first match. He ended up having to wrestler the previous year’s county finalist in his first match. This wrestler had given him problems all season long and he could just never end up on the winning end of the score.
He fought a tough match, but ended up losing his first match at the counties. All of his hopes and dreams of being a county champion were shattered. Many other wrestlers would have packed it in right there.
This wrestler would have to win 5 matches IN A ROW just to take third place. He ended up winning his first two matches pretty handily and even had to beat a previous year all county wrestler just to STAY ALIVE. He certainly did not have an easy road.
To make it to the second day this wrestler had a tough opponent. The wrestler was losing the match and got caught in the cradle and was nearly put on his back. Just in the NICK of time the wrestler broke out of the cradle got the reversal and won the match 3-2 in an exciting fashion! He found a WAY TO WIN. He made it HAPPEN even when it seemed like he was going to LOSE. He stayed calm and cool and stayed in control even when he was down on the score board.
The second day the wrestler end up up winning his next two matches and ended up taking third place at the counties. This was one of the biggest displays of HEART I have ever seen by any athlete. He would not QUIT even when he was faced with GREAT ADVERSITY. This lesson is not only important to training, but also important to all aspects of life.
The poem and video below does a great job of explaining the lesson of the day.
Here is you Monday Motivation for this week.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow–
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out–
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit–
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.
Never Quit on your TRAINING or YOUR LIFE DREAMS
KILL it in your next training session.
When you think you are on your last rep of your last set remember what you learned today….Find it deep within yourself and you’ll be able to get one more!
Educate, Motivate, Dominate
The senior co-captain was part of a defensive unit that allowed just one goal and six shots on goal in wins over Southern Maine (2-0) and Salve Regina (2-1). On the other end of the field, she assisted on both scores in the victory over USM.
Congrats to Cassie and keep up the great work!
Alleviate Tight Hip with the Exercises of the Week!
For this week’s segment I will outline a few hip flexor stretches. Stretching the hip flexors are extremely important for both athletes and the general population. Many people are students or have a desk job or just sit for a great portion of the day.
As you can see sitting over time can lead to poor posture. Even when sitting upright the hip flexors are in a shortened position. Overtime this can lead to restrictions in hip mobility. People who have a lack of hip mobility often times will have problems with their knees or low back as a result. The lack of hip mobility causes the body to compensate either above or below the hip joint. If someone has low back pain it is of paramount importance to make sure their hip flexors aren’t in a shortened position for too long. Hip mobility in crucial for many exercises like squats and deadlifts as well as they are important for athletic performance.
I don’t like to make generalizations often as every athlete and client is different, but I would say EVERYONE should be doing some form of a hip flexor stretch in their training. This will improve the length in the hip flexors and help counteract the sitting we do all day at work or at class. This will improve hip mobility and therefore increase our performance and overall health.
In the video below I outline three variations of the classic hip flexor stretch. The athlete will assume as half kneeling position and may use a stick or foam roll for balance. For each variation the goal is to get “tall and tight”. The athlete should really try to squeeze their back glute hard in order to extend their hip. This will intensify the stretch even more. The athlete can progress to a rear elevated foot position to make the stretch more effective as well get some rotation with an overhead reach. The coach should watch that the lumbar spine isn’t extending too much as this will give a false sense of hip extension. We never want to substitute hip extension for lumbar extension.
These stretches should be in everyone’s routine in order to improve their hip flexor length and improve their performance in the weight room and on the athletic field. Give these stretches a try and let me know what you think!
Southwestern Potato Salad
1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 pounds small red potatoes
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons canola oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Remove 1 chipotle chile from can. Chop chile to measure 2 teaspoons. Reserve remaining chiles and adobo
sauce for another use.
Place potatoes in a saucepan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes or until
tender. Drain; cool. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch cubes. Place potatoes in a large bowl.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add corn; sauté 5 minutes or
until lightly browned. Add corn, celery, and next 5 ingredients (celery through jalapeño) to potatoes; toss
Combine 2 teaspoons chopped chipotle chile, lime juice, oil, salt, and black pepper, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle
the lime juice mixture over potato mixture, and toss gently. Cover and chill 1 to 24 hours.
8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
CALORIES 209(25% from fat); FAT 5.8g (sat 0.4g,mono 3.1g,poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 5.1g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg;
CALCIUM 33mg; SODIUM 413mg; FIBER 5.7g; IRON 2.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 37.9g
Bands and Chains for Stability
Chains and Bands are a great way to add stability work into your training. I recommend when doing stability training with barbell that the athletes start off with chains and then progress to bands. Just like when we discussed chain training and band training for power the athlete should master straight weight first before progressing to these exercises.
The way to utilize chain for stability is to set them up with the chain hanging OFF the floor. You can use a carabineer to clip the ends the chain together and then loop it over the bar. You can also use special collars to attached the middle link of the chain onto the barbell. The reason the chain are great for stability is because when the athlete walks out the weight from the rack the chain will want to swing and the athlete is FORCED to stabilize the barbell. The athlete also must brace the abdominals extra hard in order to maintain good form and prevent the chains from swinging during the set. This set up is great for squats variations and overhead presses. Another effective exercise you can do is go for a walk with the chains hanging on the bar overhead. This is great for shoulder, core, and hip stability.
Bands can also be used for stability training as well. The athlete must utilize jump stretch bands and either 25 pound plates or Kettlebells. You will quadruple up the bands and loop it through the weight and hang it on the bar. As the athlete takes out the bar the weight will start to oscillate on the bar. This creates an incredibly unstable environment. This athlete must brace extremely hard and lower the weight under control in order to maintain good form. This is the ultimate way to build rock hard stability. If the athlete goes too fast or uses bad form, the athlete will lose control of the bar during the set. The athlete is forced to “turn on” their core in order to keep their technique. This set up is great for bench presses, squats, military press and Romanian deadlifts.
Hanging Chains and bands are a great way to add stability training into your program. Substitute the strength exercise of the day with stability variations from time to time. I would only use these exercises with your more advanced athletes. Make sure to use a very competent spotter at all times during these exercises due to the instability of the exercises. After working with these exercises it will make traditional barbell lifts seem much easier due to their increase in stability.
Don’t Make an Excuse, Find a Way to Make it Happen
Before we get in today’s topic I want to share a story to you about one of the kids I was training before I got to AFTLI. At the time I was training two high school wrestlers and both of their goals was to become a County Champion. This week I will share a story from one the two wrestlers.
The one in this story was not even projected to place top 6 in the county. He was only 4th in his league the year before and wasn’t the starter on his team. He did not care about what anyone else thought and he had his goal and he stuck to it for the entire season. The only people who believed it was possible were the ones training with him.
He didn’t make excuses and always found time to train. Sometimes he was beat up, hurt, or sick, but there was always something to do to get better.
Sometimes he just did some foam rolling and corrective work and then went home. No matter have bad he felt they always did something that was going to help him reach his goal.
One night the wrestler lost a match he should have easily one. He got caught and pinned by a much lesser opponent. The wrestler seemed very discouraged, like all he had worked for was lost. I pulled him aside and I said “It is not about TODAY. It is about what happens at the COUNTIES.” After the match we went on to train. The match ending up going very late so the gym we trained at wasn’t open. The only option was to train outside.
The problem was it WAS SNOWING OUTSIDE! The wrestlers did a sled workout in the SNOW. The wrestler who had a bad day and could have EASILY QUIT and just stopped training that day. It took a lot of mental strength to just get through the workout in the snow let alone after losing a match he should have won. He turned a BAD MATCH into a POSITIVE TRAINING SESSION! He had the right mind set to win it. He didn’t let the bad match mess with his head. That day MADE HIM a CHAMPION.
He didn’t make excuses he found a way to train even when he didn’t want to. This wrestler ended up upsetting the number one seed and taking second in the counties that year. Even though he didn’t reach his goal he showed tremendous heart and dedication during that year of training and I am confident that this mindset will carry over to the rest of his life. The second story of the second wrestler will be revealed next week.
The moral of the story is you can make an excuses if you want, but you need to be honest with yourself if you are not getting better.
Are you truly doing everything in your power to get better?
Are there workouts that you might have missed just because “you didn’t feel like it?”
Did your diet not work or did your cheat on it a “few” times along the way?
Here are a few videos of athletes “getting it done” no matter what the circumstance is.
Here is a video of one of my wrestlers who is training his upper body with a broken hand!?! Would you train if you had a broken hand?
Now did I get a little creative in order to give him a training effect? Absolutely, but it just goes to show you that when there is a WILL there is a WAY. If you have an injury there are way to work AROUND the injury. There is always something you can do to get better.
Here is a video of a wrestler named Dustin Carter. He was born with several limitations, but he still finds a way to train. I don’t think the word excuse is in his vocabulary.
If Dustin can find a way to perform better shouldn’t we all be able to find a way to get in shape and get to the gym????
Here is a video on a soldier who was injured and is forced to train with one good arm. Only having one good arm doesn’t stop him from achieving his fitness goals…
Don’t make EXCUSES. Find a WAY TO TRAIN! Don’t wait another DAY.
START TRAINING TODAY.
If this doesn’t get your FIRED UP to TRAIN there is something wrong with you!
Improving your Squat Part 4: Squat with RNT
Prevent the Knees caving in while Squatting
If you missed the first three parts you can find them below.
Many athletes and clients will come to you and tell you they get knee pain when perform squats. Often times if the have performed squat in the past they have used improper form. Many times the same people who complain of knee pain will squat with the knees coming inward while squatting.
This causes a lot of stress on the knee and is a very unsafe squatting pattern. Some times this is caused by lack of glute activation while squatting and other times the athlete simply needs to be cued to keep their knees out.
We can use a perform better mini-band or other tubing to actually force the athlete into the poor pattern. This is called reactive neuromuscular training(RNT). The athlete will perform a squat with the band above their knees. The athlete is FORCED to keep the knees out in order to perform the squat. Squats with bands around the knees will activate muscles in the hip and prevent valgus collapse(knees caving in).This will ensure proper alignment of the joint as well as provide glute activation for the movement.
If you do not have a band available you can provide manual resistance with you hands. You simply push the clients knees inward and should instruct your clients to push your hands apart as they squat. Provide just enough resistance for them to get in good position. The great thing about this drill is you can continue to load the squat and still use the band to reinforce good technique is so desired.
Here is a video on the Squat with RNT.
The squat with RNT is a great way to teach someone to force their knees out while squatting. This will ensure proper mechanics while lifting and help prevent knee pain in the future.