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. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

CORE: Best way to work it!

Over the last twenty plus year in this industry I have seen more magazine covers and now internet headlines than I can count (now my clients will say that’s not hard to do!) touting something about a tight core or six-pack abs.  The truth (and problem) is many are heavily focused on crunches and crunch variations.  Crunches done in large numbers can be bad for the lumbar spine (low back); there are only so many flexion (crunch action) movements our back can take before there is a structural breakdown.  Disk herniation is a common result from this breakdown.  Dr Stuart McGill uses a video in his lectures of a dissected rat spine that is put through large numbers of crunch movements until the spine breaks down and disk herniations occur.
Better options for a healthy core:
Plank varieties (regular, single leg, single arm, opposite arm/leg, side, etc.); these can be performed for time or breaths.  It is not about the length of time, think quality of position.  If you are doing a two minute plank, but only have the ability to hold proper position for thirty seconds, then you will have spent one-minute thirty training the body in a bad position.
Rotations/Anti-rotations (chopping, diagonal lifting and pallof pressing performed in the following positions: kneeling, ½ kneeling, lunging or standing); biggest key is to keep the low back stable (do not twist or rotate through this area).
Carries (farmers walk, suitcase carries, front rack, overhead); this is a great way to work the core and grip strength.  Maintain good posture, do not lean to one side, forward or back (over extension).
Low Back (hip hinge work using the following actions; extensions, reverse extensions, deadlifts); movements are done bending (hinging) at the hip not by bending at the lumbar spine (low back).

For a complete core pick one movement from each type of action one to two times per week.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Women should lift!

Women and weights!
A friend sent me an article the other day titled “How weight training can help woman stay strong” from npr.org.  The title made me chuckle a little, I didn’t know weight training only helps woman to stay strong.  This title could have rose out of the audience on npr.org and their possible need to attempt to educate people to do more than just “do their time” on cardio equipment.  Before everyone thinks I am just picking this article apart, it does have some good points; like the government recommends 150 minutes of moderate activity and seventy five of vigorous.  Women between the ages of 25 and 64 were asked about their activity level, and forty-nine percent reported they performed the recommended cardio and only eighteen percent were doing the recommended weights and cardio.  Cardio and weights have been shown to decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes.  Lifting weights has been shown to help increase muscle mass and this side effect of weights might keep us more active and prevent injuries as we age.   
Strength coaches and trainers have been saying this for years! 
Here are some other reasons woman should weight train:
•Weight training is more effective for fat loss than cardio, weights burn more calories, and there is increased fat burn during and after. 
•More muscle will increase caloric expenditure, as strength is increased, lean muscle mass will increase, muscle burns calories (stored body fat does not).  Weight training will not make you look masculine or bulky; everybody (men and women) builds muscle at different rates.  Look at all the shapes and sizes at the Olympics, they all weight train!
•Weight training increases heart health, a study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning found that those who lift have less risk factors for heart disease; like increased waist circumference, high triglycerides and elevated blood pressure and glucose levels.
•Improved Sleep, those who weight train report the ability to fall asleep faster and have improved sleep quality. 
•Weight training increases bone health in woman, postmenopausal women have increased risk of osteoporosis, resistance training can combat bone loss.
Heavy weight with low reps or lighter weight with higher reps is a question that’s asked a lot.  I feel the answer is both.  Some studies I read compared the training styles and each had positive outcomes.   Best results occurred in the groups that rated their exertion at 7, 8, or 9 on a ten point scale, not the amount of weight lifted or reps performed.  So, it’s not the amount of weight lifted or the number of reps performed, it’s how hard you work!

Go lift some weight, and work hard!