Tag Archives: health

Best Exercise You Ought to be Doing – The Kettlebell Pullover

2015 is here, and there are a lot of new faces in the gym.  “Resolution-ers” are filing in, jumping on the treadmill and banging out countless reps of sit-ups in hopes that this is the year they reach their goals.  If you have read my Core Training 101 post, you would already know that sit-ups are not the most effective way to strengthen your core. Nor will they help you get that six-pack you so desire.

Crunches

Enter the best core exercise in, well, ever.  The Kettlebell Pullover.  This is an exercise that I introduce to every client. I believe that it sets the foundation for strength and efficient movement.

Why you should use it-

  • Challenges The Core
    • When done correctly this exercise is taxing.  It looks easy at a glance, but when you maintain a posterior pelvic tilt and a rib pull, you will feel this like, “whoa!”  This is the type of exercise that the better you get, the harder it becomes.  If it is not difficult, you are not doing it correctly.
  • Teaches Proper Breath Patterning for Abdominal Support
    • Proper breathing is very important for your lower back and core.  And breathing properly helps maintain tightness and makes you stronger by increasing intra-abdominal pressure.  It is like wearing a weight belt without having to wear one.
    • This will ensure that you wont end up like those poor saps who wear a weight belt while walking around the gym or for arm curls.  Save those the weight belts for when you really need them to keep you from looking like a fool.Weight belt no no
  • Reinforces Technique at the Top of Squat and Deadlift
    • During the set up for the squat or deadlift, it is a common habit for people to hang out in an anterior pelvic tilt.  This puts increased stress on the lower back.  This exercise will help you build tension and find a better neutral position.  This will carry over to the top of your lifts and take excessive force off your spine.
  • Trains the deep core musculature – multifidus, transverse abdominus and obliques.
    • These muscles are very important for back health.  Studies have shown that those with recurring back pain have weak multifidi.  So this exercise can save your back!

The Technique

  • Start Position
    • Start lying on your back, with hips and knees bent at 90 degrees.
    • Grab kettlebell, medicine ball or dumbbell with arms extended over the chest
    • In this position, you will have a slight arch in your lower back.
  • The Movement
    • Flatten your lower back and sternum into the ground.  (Place an increased emphasis on your sternum and ribs)
    • Once flat, take a deep breath into your belly.
    • Reach your arms back as far as you can without any part of your lower back coming off the floor.
    • Once you reach the point in which your back wants to lift up, pull your ribs and spine harder into the ground and bring arms back to starting position.
  • Progressions
    • Make this exercise harder by
      • Lying on a foam roller
      • Putting your feet on the floor
      • Extend one leg outwards

If you can master this exercise, you will get the most out all your other core exercises. You will move better and have improved muscle activation and technique, not to mention a stronger, injury free back.


Staying True to Your New Years Resolutions

Happy Holidays everybody, and Happy New Year.  It is an exciting time because a New Year is beginning, new opportunities are on the horizon, and well, there is a new blog post here!

That time of year is here when the gyms are getting busy again because everyone is done feeling guilty about what they have eaten during the holiday season.  And they are ready to start off the New Year the right way with a better, healthier them.  But as February and March roll around, those once exciting goals of losing weight, getting shredded and looking like a sexified Ryan Grosling are in the past.  Well let’s hope this year, this IS NOT you!  And one way to do that, is reading this here post as it will give you a guide to staying on track for the long term.

Gosling

RULE #1: Keep Goals

The only way to achieve success, not just in the gym but in life, is to set goals.  I already spoke of this in a past post, and I think it is very important.  Your goals must be specific and obtainable.  If not, failure is often the case.  Goals give you a direction, and when you obtain them they are much more gratifying.

Here is a list of my weight lifting goals for 2014:

Weight = 175 lbs- Currently 163 lbs

Front Squat = 225 lbs – Currently 195 lbs

Deadlift = 315 lbs – Currently 275 lbs

Military Press = 135 lbs – Currently 115 lbs

Turkish Get-up = 100 lbs – Currently 88 lbs

I have toned down how high I set my goals this year. With school it gets very hard to continually progress without overtaxing myself.  I believe I will have no problems reaching these goals, or surpassing all of them by 2015.

RULE #2: Get a Friend 

FUnny workout ecard

Make sure that person’s goals fit with yours.  

Otherwise they could potentially be very bad influences.

Having somebody with similar goals as you will make your journey easier.  Recruit a friend or family member to join you in reaching your goals.  Maybe it is to lose 20 pounds, or walk 10,000 steps a day, or bike 50 miles a week.  Whatever the goal is having somebody at your side makes reaching your goals less daunting.  This also makes you accountable to someone else, which means you are making a commitment.  If you had to meet your best friend at the gym at 8am every morning, you can’t just skip on them.  Well you can, but that would be pretty douchey of you.

RULE #3: Tell People

By telling everybody around you what your goals are and how you’re going to achieve them this year will put more pressure on you and make you commit to your goals more.  Tell people on a consistent basis.  This does two things, one it does what I said before; it puts pressure on you, because who wants to fail in front of their friends and family?  And two, by constantly talking about your goals and how you will achieve them will help you believe that you will accomplish your goals in your own mind.  Once you feel like you can accomplish your goals, your chances of doing so are greatly improved.

RULE #4: Check Your Progress

Pick a regular interval that you will test your progress. So if you want a 315 bench and you currently are benching 250, you must test your bench every month or so to see if you are moving closer to your goals.  If you are not moving towards your goals, you must sit down and think why.  Is it my nutrition, lack of sleep, have I been inconsistent, etc… Once you figure this out, it will help you break through those frustrating plateaus that we all hit from time to time.


Exercise of the Month: Kettlebell Arm Bar

Hello everybody, welcome to my first edition of the exercise of the month, the Kettlebell Arm Bar.  It is very nice to have some time off from school so I can put some work into this blog.  And my brain is fresh so you know you are getting top quality work!

Since kettlebells are a pretty big thing these days, and they are found in almost every gym, I figured I’d start off the exercise of the month with a great shoulder strengthener/mobilizer/stabilizer that I use every week I work out.

Kettlebells

Why I love this exercise:

· Improves your shoulder stability:  The kettlebells have this great feature that no other piece of gym equipment can offer, the center of gravity of the weight is not in your hand.  With a kettlebell, the majority of the weight is in the bell which is not what you’re holding.  You are holding the handle, which is being pulled down by the weight of the bell.  This allows for greater muscle activity/stabilization as the resistance arm has A) been increased and B) requires higher control of the muscles at hand.  This all allows for the shoulders stabilization to increase.

· Improves Thoracic mobility – As you roll over and drive your hips into the ground, this will open up your thoracic spine, making it more mobile.  Combine a mobility movement with stability and watch your range of motion increase.  We call this sticking.  It’s very common to stretch and a day later be just as tight as the day before.  But add some strength and stability during a mobility exercise, and watch it stick. Meaning 2, 3, 4, 100 days later, you will feel looser then you do right now, not doing this exercise.

· Improves shoulder strength – By teaching your body how to stabilize itself through the lats and rotator cuff, it well help increase the strength of shoulder by association.  The shoulders thrive off stability.  An unstable shoulder will leave lots of weights on the ground, and will keep you from reaching your full potential.  The more stable those shoulders are, the stronger your grip is; the stronger irradiation of energy through your body equals you being stronger and less likely to get hurt.  What’s not to like about that?

TECHNIQUE

· First, for safety reasons, we begin cradling the kettlebell.  That is us lying on our sides grasping the kettlebell between interlaced fingers – seen in video above.

· From here we can safely roll over onto our back.  Extending the arm that is holding the KB and bending the knee with the same side leg.

· Once in position, get the core tight and pack your scapula.  I like using the cue spread your lats rather then pull shoulder blades back and down.  But you can use whatever gives you the best results.

· Once set, you must rotate over to your side; keep in mind you are not mindlessly rotating.  Your body must stay connected and you must rotate through your core, the whole body rotates as a segment.  To do this you must push your heels into the ground and keep your glutes tight.  This will allow you to get to your side.

· From here, maintain your tightness as your lift your leg up and over the stationary leg.

· Now, squeeze your glutes hard as if you were trying to press your pelvis into the floor.  Almost as if you were trying really hard to lay on your belly.

· Hold for a specific count or amount of breaths.  I typically do 15 seconds, but it depends on your goals here, and rationale for doing arm bars in the first place.

· Once you’re done with the rep, roll back over to your back with the same tightness you rolled over with.

· Pull the KB back to your chest.

· Roll over to the cradled position.

· BAM YOU ARE DONE!

· … Now do the other side.

Currently, the way I am inserting this exercise into my workouts is I super-set it with my bench press.  I will do this exercise before I bench so it will increase my shoulder stabilization and work on me using my lats, since the lats are a big player in a strong bench press.

You can also use this on your off days, as a warm-up or during any other part of your workout, as long as you have a reason to increase shoulder mobility, stability and strength (which will ALWAYS be the case).


This Weeks Good Reads 07/20/12

Do you remember the first time you started exercise? Maybe you were sixteen years old, maybe it was two years ago, maybe you are just about to start. These are the times where no matter what you did made a difference in your strength or your physique. Only now you are doing the same things that worked then but now you look exactly the same, or even worse. This article explains why and how you can change all that. Use these five tips to blow past your plateau and reach grounds never before achieved.

Demolish Your Genetic Limits – Brad Schoenfeld

This is a very fun read. It is ten facts about the human body. Goes into how we get blisters and birthmarks, how heart attacks work and why stripes make many of us look fat. Check it out if you would like to learn some fun facts about the human body.

And no the why stripes make us look fat is not really on there.  I hope I didn’t get your hopes up.

10 Fascinating Facts About the Human Body Part 3

Trying to get strong, learn to master your body weight first.  If you can’t do pushups, pullups and some of these other moves, good luck trying to bench 300+ or any other feat of strength.

Top 20 Body-weight Exercise for Building Muscle Strength – Jason Ferruggia

Trying to get strong? Learn to master your body weight first. If you can’t do pushups, pull-ups and some of these other moves, good luck trying to bench 300+ or any other feat of strength.

30 Rules to Lift Like a Girl and Look Awesome – Nia Shanks

I always like to throw in good stuff for the ladies out there, so this way they don’t have to just hear about exercise from a guys’ point of view. But check out this post by Nia Shanks. I hate to say I told you so, but it is much of the same stuff I have been preaching all along, not just to the women reading, but the men as well. Check out these rules to help you get on track with your exercise program.


Shoulder Mobility

Now that this blog has been up for a while, I know there has to be some questions out there. Feel free to leave a comment at the end of any post; this one or a previous one with any questions you may have about the material that has been posted up on the blog already or anything that you may be questioning about fitness.

Why do we need mobility?

Mobility is the ability for a person to move a joint through its full range of motion (ROM).  Every joint in the body has a job to do, and if it’s mobility is compromised it will cause problems throughout the rest of the body.  And due to our technology driven society, we sit down way too much and we all are developing overuse patterns that is causing our mobility to dwindle away.

The joint by joint approach of the body stacks joints that need mobility on top of those that need stability.  Here is how this model looks:

Joint – Function

Foot – Stability
Ankle — Mobility
Knee — Stability
Hip — Mobility
Lumbar Spine — Stability
Thoracic Spine — Mobility
Scapula — Stability
Gleno-Humeral Joint — Mobility
Elbow — Stability

The areas above that you see with mobility are the areas in which we need it the most, and once mobility is lost in that area it causes a decrease in stability in its neighboring joints.  Meaning if the ankles lose mobility, the knee and foot will lose stability in order to make up for the lacking range of motion at the ankle.  This, in turn, will cause mobility problems in the hip and affect the joints going up similar to a ripple effect.

If we are sitting down all day, and our hip flexors get overly tight, causing our glutes to turn off, as well as us to be hunched forward causing us to lose stability through the rotator cuff and loss of upward rotation of the scapulae pain will surely follow.

This is the major reason why mobility training becomes important.  It will help keep us pain free, more functional to attack the tasks of everyday life and better posture makes us all look and feel better.

So why aren’t you doing your mobility training?

Here is an example of what I do for mobility, and it will be a vast improvement towards every person’s training. It may not be quite specific to each individual who tries it but I am sure it will help make a difference in your mobility and posture.  And that will have a direct carry over to your exercises.  Every person should be able to achieve full range of motion in every joint, during every movement PAIN FREE.

Want an even better reason to do upper body mobility training?

It will help improve your strength.  As your mobility gets better watch your deadlift, bench, squat and any other lift imaginable become easier which will make you stronger.  This is what all of us want and need and this should be including all you ladies.  Gather the proper mobility and you can be squatting and deadlifting like kings and queens.

Pec Stretch

  1. Pec Major
  • Place both arms in a doorway at ninety degree angles.
  • Squeeze your scapulae back as hard as you can and lean as far forward as your scapulae lets you.
  • Feel your chest stretch

2.  Pec Minor

  • Place both arms on the wall, hands down by the hips.
  • Squeeze your scapulae together as hard as you can and lean as far forward as you can.
  • As a note, you will not feel this stretch a lot, but it is working for you.  So keep doing it!

Lat Stretch

  • Grab hold of a sturdy object with one arm.
  • Step back with the same leg that is holding the object.
  • Lean back into the back leg, pulling on the object in order to feel the entire lat stretch from armpit to hip.

Wall Slides

  • First off, we must make sure we set up correctly.  Keep your feet about six inches away from the wall.
  • Flatten your lower back into the wall by doing a posterior pelvic tilt.
  • Arms ninety degrees, back of arm, hand and fingers should all be touching the wall.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades together, and down towards the back pockets.
  • Lift your arms overhead while keeping the lower back on the wall, and all points of contact with the arms and hands.
  • And don’t forget to keep the shoulders away from the ears as you drive up, and make a stupid face as you see above.

This is not an exercise to cheat in to get higher.  Just go up as high as your mobility allows.  Cheating will not get you better mobility.  So stay as strict as possible and feel that stretch in the middle of your back.  This is T-Spine activation after all.

Foam Roller T-Spine Extensions

Here is another great T-Spine mobility drill.  This is great to help get that extension necessary to squat and deadlift big.

  • Lay on your back with the foam roller right under the shoulder blades.
  • Wrap your fingers around your head, and pull your elbows together.  This will keep you from cheating by leaning your head backwards.
  • Make sure your butt stays on the floor at all times.
  • Pull your ribs towards the floor, and lean as far back as you can. You may get your back to crack here and should feel a nice stretch in the middle of your back.

Shoulder Complex

This is a great stretch; it will help open up all your internal and external rotators.  You will get the lats, the pecs and almost everything else in between.

  • Lay on your side, bottom leg straight and top leg bent ninety degrees on a medicine ball or foam roller.
  • Drive your knee hard into the ball and rotate your upper shoulders towards the floor.  This will give you the appearance of lying on your back.  This is not a low back stretch.  You should not get any movement here from your lower back.  This is why that knee drive is important.
  • Point both arms to the ceiling and pack the scaps.
  • The working side is the same side you have placed on the ball.
  • While keeping the scap packed we will move our arm in three directions.  East to west, diagonal from knee to outside (south east to north west and vice versa) shoulder width, and north to south.

Over Head Squat

  • Place your feet wider then shoulder width.
  • Arms above your head, behind or lined up with your ears.
  • Squat down, not allowing the knees to buckle or pass the tips of the toes.

Windmills

These many of you will not be able to do right away.  It takes a lot of thoracic mobility.  Practice without weight first until you are sure that your technique is perfect.  Then you can load, without having to worry about breaking your lower back.

  • Set up your feet hip width apart.
  • Turn your feet forty five degrees away from the arm that is pointing to the ceiling.
  • Hip hinge back, keeping 75% of your weight on the back leg.
  • Keep the scap packed the whole time, from beginning to end.
  • Feel the back hip stretch and the weight sit in the shoulders and lats.

Putting it Together

When it comes to doing mobility, we need to do four things in a specific order:

1.     Foam roll.  If you are not sure how to refer back to here.

2.     Stretch.  Just gently.  Refer to pec and lat stretch.

3.     Mobility drills.  Gets the nervous system fired up and allows us to get the body into its full range of motion.  Almost like waking up the joints.

4.     Sticking the movement.  This is where we load ourselves lightly in the patterns we were trying to mobilize.  This allows the body to take its newer range of motion and apply it into a movement that uses this same range of motion.  By doing this the body understands better what the goal of stretching and mobility drills really are.  And this is how we actually get better ROM and keep it that way day in and day out.

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read?  Do you do mobility training? If so, what do you do?  Let me know; leave a comment below!


This Weeks Good Reads 07/06/12

Happy fourth of July everybody, hope you all enjoyed yourselves.  Let’s get this holiday weekend going with some great reads from the week.  ENJOY!

Oh and by the way Happy Birthday AMURIKA!

A lot of the rules in this article are not just for men, they work for women as well.  Since women and men do have the same anatomical body parts and muscles, they should train similarly.  Joe covers everything from lifting heavy to getting help if you need it to making sure you eat the right foods.  Follow these 30 rules and you will be not just lifting like a man, but also actually reaching your goals.

ImageRules to Lift Like a Man– Joe Meglio

This study compare low-carb diets to low-fat diets and a low-glycemic index diet.  The way they figured this out was to take obese subjects and put them on a diet that would cause them to lose 15% of their body weight (roughly 30 pounds); and once they reached the goal weight, these subjects were then placed into one of the above groups.  Each person was placed on the same calorie diet, to see if each of any of these three options would help prevent weight gain after weight loss has been achieved.

Low-Carb Regimen Tops Low-Fat Diet – Nanci Hellimich

In this article Dean reminds himself and everyone else that mobility is not just important in the gym.  He talks about how mobility is important outside the gym and how you can achieve this mobility, too.  Even though it may not be very often, you may find yourself doing some odd job and needing that little extra mobility to get the job done easier.  What happens if you don’t have that mobility?  Your life will be much harder than it has to be.

How Much Mobility do You Really Need – Dean Somerset

Everyone loves to have a couple of drinks, especially when they are out on the town with their best buds.  Who knew alcohol could have such awesome benefits? It is as awesome as this mustache tattoo.

Image

What is there not to love about alcohol now? It has cholesterol fighting powers and fat fighting capabilities.  Just make sure its in moderation.  This isn’t an all access pass to sloppy Saturdays.

Five Hidden Health Benefits of Alcohol – Livestrong.com

This is a great reminder for all of you: the differences between losing weight and losing fat.  Weight loss on the scale does not mean you have progressed.  Keep the true focus in mind, BODY FAT.  That is the true indicator of success in body image.

Weight Loss vs Fat Loss – Tony Gentilcore


This Weeks Good Reads 06/08/12

 This week has been exhausting thus far.  My morning schedule changed up slightly and has thrown off my day to day routines.  I haven’t been sleeping well, my workouts feel shitty and I am so very tired.  Usually it takes me a week or two to adjust to changes in my work schedule.

And because of this, I can’t tell if my max training program is not going as well as I would have hoped due to lack of sleep, or just simplybecause I am working way too close to my 1 RM.  It is probably a combination of the two.  Hopefully next week I can get my body on track, and will be making some changes to my exercise program in regards to mytraining volume and intensity.

Here are this weeks good reads:

This is a piece by Mike Boyle, in which he talks about how we only have one body.  With this body we have responsibilities to keep it running on all cylinders.  We do not get another body, and if we have to replace any parts they never work quite the same.  We can’t all be as bad ass as the six million dollar man.  This is a “to the point” reminder to take care of your body, health-wise and performance-wise, this way you can live a long, happy life.

ONLY ONE BODY – MIKE BOYLE

These are some great bullets to what you can do to help lose weight.  The little things count, and you will see so in the piece.  It ranges from everything from setting goals to why you should be eating more cayenne peppers.

71 TIPS TO LOSE FAT – DR. MOHR

For those of us who get really busy and want to maintain strength and not too sure how this article is perfect for you.  It talks about how much harder it is for us to reach our goals, yet so much easier to stay at those levels.  Using his eight steps, it really becomes a no brainer on how to keep strength up during the times of your life where things get out of control.

8 STRATEGIES FOR EASILY MAINTAINING STRENGTH – ERIC CRESSEY

Even though this article says training for men, it is applicable to everyone for any goal.  The title says men because it is an article posted on T-Nation which is predominately a testosterone filled website. It is still a worth while read for all as there are still valuable lessons to be learned here.  This is all about how to set priorities, cut down your training time, but still be effective at getting results and being effective in the gym.  This goes hand in hand with Cressey’s article above.  After reading these, there are no more excuses to not be in the gym.  And to be rather straight forward about it, now you’re just being plan lazy.

EFFECTIVE TRAINING FOR BUSY MEN – JIM WENDLER

Was this post helpful, enlightening, the purest, greatest thing you ever read? Let me know, leave a comment below!