Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Erg made simple

It is the middle of winter here in the northeast and a stretch of single digit/below zero temps and snow/ice have driven all of us indoors for activity.  So, when the treadmill and elliptical become boring and you feel the need for a different workout try the erg.  For those asking what an erg is, it is a indoor rowing machine.  This will provide one of the most beneficial total body cardio workouts.   Technique seems to be a problem most new erg-ers, so here is a straightforward guide.
There are four parts to each stroke: Recovery, Catch, Drive and Finish.
Recovery: this part of the stroke you are not applying any pressure to the handle, you are “recovering”. From the finish position (legs strait, handle touching chest and body slightly beyond ninety degrees (upright)), your first move is moving your arms away from your body. Once your arms are strait, the next move is to bring your body over, keeping your back flat and hinging at the hips.  You can begin to bend the legs once the body is over, moving to the catch.
Catch: this is the moment in the stroke between the recovery and drive.  As you slowly bend your knees at the end of the recovery, do not over extend or round your back and shoulders.  The catch ends when your shins are perpendicular to the floor.  This is when you are ready to drive.
Drive: this is the most physically demanding portion of the stroke, its where the boats movement is generated.  The large muscles of the legs and back get to show their strength.  You should drive your legs, then back, then arms.  The drive will later become an explosive movement requiring maximum effort, it is much slower during the learning process; correct sequencing is more important.  The drive starts in the legs, until they are almost straitened with the arms extended and the body over.  With the legs straitened begin swinging the body back until just beyond perpendicular to floor, then bend arms and pull handle to body.
Finish: You could think of everything from the body swinging back as the finish portion, then pulling the handle to the body just below the pectorals.  Then begin the next stroke by using your elbows to lower the handle and start the recovery of the next stroke.

In the early going keep it simple, legs, body and arms.  Don’t be jerky, stay smooth during the stroke.  Until you become proficient, the drive is the most important part of the stroke.     

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Strong Breath Strong Core

Here is a simple breathing exercise that will not only help with breathing efficiency but act as a great core strengthener. 

Sit in a comfortable upright position (against the wall if needed), cross legged if possible.

Breath in through your nose into your belly, making your belly big as possible (like Buddha).

Hold for count of one to two.

Exhale all the air through mouth or nose.

When you think you have released all the air, push a little more.

Then, when you really think all the air is released, squeeze your abdominals and hold for a one to two count.

Try this daily, start with sets that last for two minutes, work up to five minute sets.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Foot position during the squat

I wanted to write about squat foot position, I get asked about it often and correct during squats all the time.  I feel the proper position of the foot during the squat is toes forward position.  Toes forward allows the athlete to create the most stable position for the foot, ankle, knee and hip.  Toes forward allows for the creation of torque through external rotation at the hip.  The torque and external rotation stiffens the arch of your foot, this will create stability and power from the foot.  With the foot now set, the shins are now vertical and set properly into the ankle.  The vertical shin trains the knee to be in a more stable and safe position.  Decreasing the risk of knee injuries.  The goal is to train this position in a controlled setting of a workout, with the hope that the training carries over to the field.

Now, if you have noticed me working with some clients that do not have their toes pointed forward during their squats, there is usually a reason for that.  Most that I work with that do point their toes out while squatting usually have decreased range of motion in the hip, so toes pointed out a little will allow for work through the full deep squat.  Eventually working towards toes forward deep squats.

Start adding toes forward to your squat workouts to get stronger and safer.         

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Are you mentally tough!

As I write this article I am digesting the amazing Patriots comeback in the Super Bowl.  From an athletic and performance stand point it was one of the greatest performances ever.  Not just Tom Brady, but the entire team.  This team has shown incredible focus and mental toughness on the field.  Here are some tips or exercises for improving focus and mental toughness.
Visualization: perform the event before the actual event.  If you are about to attempt a PR (personal record) deadlift, step back and go through the steps of doing the lift, and see yourself successfully performing the lift.  In some cases, your body will feel as though it has already completed the event.
Meditation: like visualization, but you will be attempting to clear the mind of extraneous thoughts to mentally prepare you for the upcoming event. 
Breathwork: Having a strong breathing practice will help all focus and mental toughness work.  Strong breathwork will assist your visualization and meditation practice and help control your heartrate during times of exertion. 
Experience Discomfort:  the legendary coach John Wooden always wanted to make practice so difficult and physically challenging that games would be easy.  It could be as simple as running a little faster and longer than your race pace/distance, run hard sprints, take shorted rest interval during workouts.  Or one of my favorites, cold water.  Ice baths are a great way to enjoy discomfort.  Since most cannot regularly utilize ice baths, try using cold water in the shower, try twenty seconds of cold, followed by 10 seconds of hot for five to ten cycles. 
Give some of these a try, they won’t make a navy seal but may help you handle everyday life a little better.  

Friday, January 13, 2017

2017 is upon us and I hope everyone is having a great new year.  Last post I wrote about goal setting, so this post is somewhat of a continuation, some techniques that can be used to help keep you on track towards your goals.

Set small realistic goals: This allows for positive growth.  Huge harsh goals do not allow for human error to occur. Break your big audacious goal into manageable chunks. 

Reward yourself: not with food.  A five pound weight loss may “require” a reward of a new outfit!

Do something you like doing: You are more likely to do an activity you enjoy.  If you hate running and running is the major activity, then you are more likely to not continue with your workouts. 

Keep a Journal: this can be a food and workout journal, it allows progress to be seen.  Food tracking helps with finding dietary holes and eating patterns.  Strength increases can also be tracked using a journal.

Find a buddy or trainer: this is about accountability.  You are more likely to show for your workouts if someone is waiting for you.

Start at the right level for you (at this time): if you have not worked out for a long time, you should not restart where you left off.  Maybe start with a more beginner type routine.  Consistency is a key to long term success.  If you workout so hard on day one and have to take the remainder of the week off, you will be starting over at the beginning of the following week.

 These are not the only keep you on track techniques out there, and if you have a different one that has worked for you post it in the comments section.  It may help someone else.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Hello 2017

As I write this, 2016 is about three weeks from coming to an end.  I want everyone to look back on their goals that were made early in the year.  Have you reached them?  Are you close or have you forgotten about them?  If your goals were reached were attempts made to far beyond, or if they were forgotten they may not have been important enough to you.
It is time to start thinking of your goals for the New Year.  Some of the goals may be one from previous year or years.  If you have struggled to reach goals in the past, make them more of a priority.  Map out a plan to reach the goal.  Reaching a goal is about acquiring a new skill, whether the skill is strength, being able to run a marathon or write a book.  All of them require you to start, moving weight, taking a step or writing a page. 

Goals do not have to be based on the calendar year, if you have a new goal begin the work now.  Why wait to 2017?  The longer you put off starting the work, the harder it is to begin.  Make your goal or challenge, write it down and put it in many places (if you see your goal there is no escaping), map out a plan to attain the goal, and start the plan.      

With this post, I have completed one of my 2016 goals, average one post per month.  I may have to up that to two per month.  Stay tunes.
Happy health holidays to everyone.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

My hamstrings are tight!!!!!

Are you one of those people that feel as though your hamstrings are always tight, no matter how much stretching you perform? This is a common problem, and in a lot of cases NOT a hamstring problem. In many of these the tight sensation arises from the hamstrings actually being tired from being chronically elongated.  I know you’re trying to imagine what I’m talking about.

I have people do this simple test.  Lay on your back with your legs straight out, toes pointed to the ceiling.  While keeping them straight, raise one leg as high as possible.  If you are able to attain a vertical (90° angle at the hip) leg, your hamstrings are not tight. 

Now we have to look at the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC).  The pelvis may be anteriorly tilted, which causes the hamstrings at be chronically lengthened.  Simplistic visual of the anteriorly tilted pelvis is to imagine the pelvis as a bowl filled with water, and if the bowl is tilted forward the water will spill down the front.  This constant or chronic position will cause the hamstrings to feel tight.

So, if you pass the laying leg raise test, your core must become more active on a regular basis.  Try this lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (LPHC) reset and core activation steps:

•Start in a standing position and squeeze your glutes hard.

•Take a couple deep belly (diaphragmatic) breaths.

•Upon exhalation, pull tummy tight to a level 2 out of ten (0=full relaxed, 10 is squeezed as hard as possible).

•Relax Glues, keep core tight.

The LPHC is now neutral and under the control of the core.  This position will take some work in the beginning.  Go through the reset steps to program the position before you sit, pick anything up or doing just about any movement.  This will become your new normal with training and your hamstrings can finally get some rest.