Top 10 Articles of 2016

It’s almost the end of 2016 which means a lot of people are going to be recapping what happened over the course of the year.  It’s been a busy year of writing articles on this side of the computer, whether for this page specifically, guest posts on other pages, or regularly featured articles for other websites.  I accomplished two of my fitness writing goals, being published on ThePTDC.com and making their “Top Articles of the Week” list (not once, but several times over).

All in all, I think in 2016, I put my own version of a stamp on the interwebz.  With that said, below are my top 10 articles of 2016.

  1. Manual Therapy & The Personal Trainers Scope of Practice DrJohnRusin.com  This was probably the most controversial article I’ve ever written as it put trainers in there place as far as manual therapy & stretching, and set the table for where a hybrid LMT/Trainer fits into this wacky industry.
  2. 6 Ways to Rock a Deadbug Mobility101.com/MovementResilience.com This was my first guest post of the year, really ever and set the tone for what I would accomplish over the course of the year.  So thanks to Matt for helping me out on this one.
  3. Match Your Clients Want with the Corrective Exercises They Need– The PTDC.com One of my goals as a trainer and a writer was to have an article on this site.  Well, check that off the list.  This was my take on corrective exercise and how I program them to put my clients in the most optimal positions for success.
  4. Preventing Re-Injury with Integrated Rehab & Training– DrJohnRusin.com It was interesting to see how this article spurned on a course of the same name that went into more depth into how I approach my post-rehab clients in terms of exercise selection and programming.
  5. Bulletproof Your Core with Crawling Exercises– Stack.com Crawling is a killer exercise that not only works you’re core,but can teach you how to maintain a neutral spine while moving.
  6. The 5 Exercise Thoracic Spine Mobility Fix– DrJohnRusin.com Another guest post for Dr. John Rusin, this time on how improving thoracic spine mobility can help shoulder and low back health.
  7. Bulgarian Split Squat Variation for Powerful Legs– Stack.com Single leg training is a great way to develop strength, power and size in your legs, and one way to do that is a hand assisted split squat using a safety squat bar. You can overload the legs and use the hands to assist the movement through sticking points.
  8. 6 Unconventionally Simple Exercises– TonyGentilcore.com I approached Tony at the Mark Fisher Fitness Summit about writing and blogging in general and through that conversation, he offered up a guest post if I was interested, which of course I was.  This was what I came up with, simple exercises that look easy but are soul crushing.  *side note* Tony introduced me to Schmackary’s, quite possibly the best cookie place ever!
  9. Build Strong Hamstrings to Avoid Pulls & Strains– Stack.com Hamstring injuries suck, and they tend to linger and never fully heal.  But if we program certain exercises and train them in a particular way, we can make the hamstrings more resilient to injury.
  10. Top 5 Hip Mobility Drills– Amp-training.com Hip mobility is important in order to squat or deadlift with solid form. Most of the time the focus is solely on external rotation, but I like to throw some internal rotation exercises in there too.

 

Thanks for checking out any of my articles, and I hope I can keep this up in 2017!

 


“Core Training”

The concept of core training has largely been bastardized by not only the fitness industry, but by the general public alike.  Everyone and their mother wants to do this during their training, and what they really mean is they want to focus on their abs.  But the one problem here is that the core is so much more than just your abs.  In fact, it is essentially an entire canister of musculature meant to support your spine, keep you upright, and resist movement.

You can do all the sit-ups and crunches you want, that still may not lead you to have a strong midsection.  In fact, you could argue that it will likely weaken your core as you’ve neglected the other aspects.  Your “core” is made up of muscles from the shoulders down to the knees and in a 360 degree rotation.  So not only are the abdominals part of that musculature, but it ranges to all the muscles in the back, the hips, the obliques and even deeper muscles like TVA.

The top exercises for a resilient core are the ones in which you are required to resist movement, falling into 3 categories, anti-extension, anti-rotation, and anti-lateral flexion.  Think exercises like Planks, Pallof Presses, and Side Planks respectively.  It’s also important to train the posterior part of your body, because the back and glutes are also part of the muscles that make up your core.  Exercises like the Sorenson Hold, Back Extensions, Glute Bridges, and Hip Thrusts.  Strong glutes = resilient low back.

antiext
Anti-Extension Deadbug
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Side Plank- Anti-Lateral Flexion
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Sorenson Hold
antirot
Anti Rotation Half Kneeling Pallof Press

The term “core training” has totally missed the mark in recent years.  Even group “core” exercise classes have popped up and its nothing but crunches, crunches and more crunches.  Crunches in every variation.  Legs up, legs down, one leg, legs crossed, knees to the side.  How many different types of crunches can one person do before they get bored or wake up one day and see that their body hasn’t gotten any different or that their core hasn’t gotten any stronger.  Or even worse, they wake up with back pain because they’ve only focused on one aspect, flexion.  You’re missing out on so many other exercises.

Next time you hit the gym, avoid the line for the ab machine, steer clear of the crunch marathon going on in the corner, and incorporate some “anti” movements into your routine instead.  An exercise doesn’t need to look intense in order to have an intense change on your body.  Simple movement, or in this case, the resisting of movement, can be a great challenge for your body and give you the change you’ve been looking for in strength and aesthetics.

The core serves a purpose, stabilizing the pelvis & spine.  If they can’t do what their intended purpose is, your body and your performance will suffer.  Don’t have abs that are “all show and no go.” Make sure they can function as well.

And remember, no matter how much abdominal training you do, you’ll never see them till you get your nutrition in check.

 


Technique Tuesday Reverse Crunch

The Reverse Crunch are a great core exercise that works the front of the core, but it can be butchered very easily.  It’s important to

  1. Stabilize the shoulders by getting a solid pull behind you, (in this case a rack) and
  2. Pull the ribs down to keep the shoulders, rib-cage and hips in one line.

The most common way to cheat reps during a reverse crunch is to simply roll up and bring your knees towards your head.  What this really does is use momentum to make it appear that you are doing the exercise.  The reps look solid, but are you REALLY feeling the abs contract when you do that?  Probably not.  If you did them this way, you could likely get tons of reps done, but in the end, did you accomplish anything.

On the other hand, if you look at the bottom example of what is a more solid reverse crunch, you’ll see that instead of rolling up, you are actually using the abs to lift the hips off the ground.  I have a solid pull on the rack, stabilizing my shoulders and upper torso and I’m using my core to lift up off the ground.  So all our big check points stay in line.  After a few reps of this new variation, you will feel it.

This is the first in a series of videos we’ll do on technique for certain exercises.  If there is anything you’d like to see covered, leave a comment below!

 


How to Motivate Yourself in 2017

With the new year on the horizon, it becomes that special time of year where you sign up for gym memberships and vow to get fit in 2017 (or insert year).  You are at peak motivation in the beginning of the year, but at time goes on, it gets harder to motivate yourself to go to the gym, which is why so many drop off after a month or two. But that’s not going to be you this year.

Getting in shape has no shortcuts, it requires consistency and at many times, determination.  There are going to be days that you’ll have to find motivation just to get out the door.

For 2017, if you key in on 3 things, you’ll be way ahead of the game and ready to tackle the new year.

3 tips for motivational success in 2017:

Focus on Behavior or Performance

… rather than outcomes to increase adherence. People get wrapped up in losing “x” amount of weight or inches or whatever. But you have no control over that outcome.  Pick goals relating to behavior and performance.  You can control behaviors and eventually by staying consistent with them, you’ll reach the outcome you want

Search For Meaning

Find your why, meaning why are you exercising or dieting. It shouldn’t be punishment or have negative connotations. It should be about creating a new you.  We get wrapped up in using exercise as a confessional for what we ate that day or the day before or the weekend before, etc.  No!  Use exercise to make yourself stronger.  Put more positive associations with it, and you’ll be less likely to hate it or lose motivation.

Enjoy The Journey

Lastly avoid looking at how far you have to go, it’s about how far you’ve come. We get wrapped up in a goal and not even looking back at how much we’ve accomplished.

See 99 more ways to stay motivated in 2017 HERE


Condition Your Core With A Loaded Carry

Pick things up, walk around with them, put them down. Those are the basics of what loaded carries are all about. Funny enough, that’s also what we do in life on a daily basis. So it’s no secret why they’ve lately been making a comeback in many strength programs. Carrying different weights in different positions has the potential to build strength and muscle, as well as improve work capacity. It’s just a matter of programming.

 The basics of each variation below are simple. Just grab the weight and go. There are, however, a few key tenets to be aware of before you start:
  • Keep an upright posture so that your shoulders, ribs and hips are all stacked over each other.
  • Take small steps so your feet stay somewhat underneath you. This will keep you in a solid position to get the most out of the carries.

Conditioning Focused Programming Options

One of the best things about loaded carries is that they are simple to include in programs, and two of the simplest ways are to go for time or for distance. In the case of improving work capacity and conditioning, programming based on time provides specific time under tension, with a concrete rest time.

Much like other forms of interval training, placing a loaded carry finisher at the end of your training program will finish you off as far as metabolic conditioning is concerned. Any timing ratio will work, but start with a 2:1 ratio of rest to work for maximal gains. For example, 20 seconds of walking, followed by 40 seconds of rest. This gives both your cardiovascular system and your grip a break.

For an even bigger challenge, try creating a loaded carry medley. This will put different lines of stress on your body, depending on where the weight is loaded.

Example: Set up weights 50 feet apart and carry them for the prescribed distance. If you’re short on space, carry for 20-30 seconds.

  • Farmer’s Walk – 50 feet or 20 seconds
  • Overhead Carry – 50 feet or 20 seconds
  • Goblet Carry – 50 feet or 20 seconds

Check out the full article at Stack.com