Technique Tuesday: Ab Rollout

Technique Tuesday: The Ab Rollout

The Ab Rollout is one of those exercises that you’ve likely seen on late night infomercials when you’re up waaay past your bed time.  For 3 easy payments of $19.99, you too can have the abs of your dreams by using this fitness wheel.  The fitness wheel will give you all the ab gainz you could possibly want.

If you’ve read previous articles on core training or the plank, you’ll remember that the role of the core is to resist movement.  You want to maintain spinal stability in a neutral position while moving.  That is one of the great things about the plank.  It’s an isometric anti extension exercise.  The Ab Rollout is at its base level, a plank, but with movement, which will make it significantly more challenging.

In order to perfect the Ab Rollout, there are a few steps that you’ll need to take to get there.

  • Perfect the Plank
  • Avoid Common Mistakes
  • Earn Your Next Progression

Perfect the Plank

The first step in doing an Ab Wheel Rollout is hammering down the technique of your plank.  If you are unable to maintain a plank with a neutral spine, then you must master this technique before graduating to something more challenging.  .

Common Mistakes

There are a few breakdowns of the rollout that we want to avoid in order to get the most out of the exercise.

  • Leading with the Arms
    • Performing the movement by leading with the arms will put the rest of the body in a less than optimal position.  This could be due to strength issue.  A great cue to remember is to think about initiating the exercise from the hips, while keeping the glutes contracted.  Then letting the arms and upper body following.
  • Low Back Arching/Caving
    • This is a result of not enough bracing, or just plain not being strong enough to perform the exercise.  You have two choices.  Brace harder through your abs and glutes, or pick an option that you can perform.  We want to avoid putting the back into a compromised position.
  • Hips Shifting Back
    • This is more of an issue on the return to start.  Rather than pull the wheel back while keeping a neutral spine, there’s a tendency to just shift the hips back up.  This disengages your core and leads to 1/2 an exercise, which could be another sign of some core weakness.

Earn Your Next Progression

Much like you wouldn’t jump from a stationary lifestyle to squatting 200 pounds on your first day of training ( I haven’t seen a couch to 200lb squat program yet) you wouldn’t try a rollout before conquering the basics.  This means we don’t advance until we’re ready.

  1. Physio Ball- In the kneeling position, place the stability ball in front of you. Reaching your arms out at a 45 degree angle, place your hands flat against the ball. Once you have braced your core you can begin extending. Be sure to contract everything, if you keep constant tension through your body it will make the movement as well as maintaining your form through the exercise much easier. Once you have extended as far as you can while keeping that modified plank position, you can start retracting your body to the start position under control.
  2. Glide Disc Negatives- from the same kneeling position, place each of your hands on the glide disks. With a tight, contracted core and glutes, extend your body to that modified plank position. While maintaining that good form, continue moving your hips toward the ground as your arms extend further overhead, until you are completely parallel to the floor. The key is control. Once your form begins to suffer or you have reached the end point of the extension, collapse to the ground, sliding your hands to your sides and push-up off the floor and return to the start position.
  1. Ab Wheel Rollouts- This is it! All your regressions and practice have lead to this exercise. Begin in the same manner, kneeling on the floor grasp either side of the Ab Wheel and begin in that kneeling plank position and once again think about bringing yourself into a plank while the hips and arms extend out to the floor.  Once you have extended out parallel to the floor or as far as you can while maintaining control and proper form, you will engage your lats while keeping your glutes contracted and return to the kneeling plank position.


Prevent Shoulder Injuries With 5 TRX Shoulder Exercises

The shoulder is a complex joint that requires a lot of moving pieces to maintain some degree of health. To prevent pain and injury, the thoracic spine, scapula, gleno-humeral joint and upper arm all need to work together, without compensations and restrictions.

Many of these TRX exercises can accomplish that goal, training the muscles that attach at the shoulder to function the way they are supposed to.

A myriad of exercises will improve or maintain shoulder health, using bands, dumbbells, or bodyweight; but the TRX brings a unique dimension. A steeper angle means more resistance, making the exercise more intense, and vice versa. Bonus! Because every exercise has some degree of angle, your core musculature must constantly be engaged—leading to a better relationship for the whole body.  This equals way more gains.

While these exercises might look easy,trust me they are not.  Intention of movement is vital to the success of these exercises and your shoulder health.

After mobilizing and activating the areas that need the corresponding exercises, make sure the prehab drills stick by incorporating systemic strength exercises involving the shoulder joint. Exercises like the TRX Low Row and the TRX Chest Press will add strength to the newfound ranges of movement and engage newly activated muscles.

Check out the full article at Stack.com


Build Strong Hamstrings to Avoid Pulls & Strains

Explosive athletes, or those who require short-burst sprints, like football players and track runners, are usually the most susceptible to hamstring strains due to the nature of their sports. However, even weekend warriors are not immune from injuring their hamstrings.

But there is hope. These injuries can be prevented. The main precursor causing one to suffer a hamstring strain is having previously injured that muscle (or part of the muscle group). Adding a few hamstring exercises to your training program can keep you off the disabled list with a strain. Hamstring strains can cost an athlete weeks or even months of training and competing, so it’s important to take preventative measures to stave off an injury.

 

Aside from a history of hamstring injuries, strength, flexibility, and stability all factor into preventing hamstring strains.

Lack of Eccentric Strength
Hamstring injuries occur when there is a rapid change from acceleration to deceleration or when you approach top speed during a sprint. Since the hamstrings act to decelerate your leg during full sprints, lacking eccentric strength cause a strain. To prevent injury, it’s important that your hamstrings have the ability to control flexion at the knee while lengthening.

 

Lack of Glute Strength/Activation
In addition to being a prime mover for knee flexion, the hamstrings also perform hip extension, a role they share with the gluteus maximus muscles. The glutes are a huge, powerful muscle. Just take a look at the backside of any Olympic sprinter. However, when there is little or no activation/strength in the glutes, the hamstrings pick up the slack. They have to act synergistically, not solo. This is a recipe for a hamstring strain.
Lack of Flexibility/Mobility
Most people complain that their hamstrings are “tight” or “tense,” without actually having an issue with the muscles themselves. If you lack flexibility, it’s important to figure out why and not just crank away on the muscle through various stretching techniques. Lack of flexibility or having too much tension in the muscle can be a recipe for injury when you call upon it to fire quickly and it’s too locked up to do anything. You need flexibility so the muscle isn’t forced past its extensibility potential.

Muscle Imbalance
Many of us are naturally quad dominant, and our lives and daily patterns exacerbate the imbalance. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore our posterior chain. Too much quad strength over hamstring strength can lead to anterior pelvic tilt. When the posterior chain gets ignored, this condition becomes more aggravated.

 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” —Benjamin Franklin

Check out the full article HERE


Wednesday Warm-up: Bird-Dog

_DSC1542

 

Week 2 of our warm-up series takes a look at the very first exercise you’ll perform in our sequence.  The bird-dog.

The bird-dog is essentially a version of the deadbug, but in a quadruped position.  The demands of the exercise require you to maintain core control while moving your opposite arm and leg and this is where some falter.  Just like with the deadbug, take the exercise slow and remember the point of the bird-dog is to get the core engaged, but also provides activation for the back extensors.

What’s likely to happen if you rush this exercise:

  • Arms and legs flail under zero control
  • Low back arches
  • Leg comes up too high
  • Hip rotation to one side
  • Fall over

 

What we want to see from the bird-dog  is extension of the arm and leg, almost as if you are reaching as far back behind you towards the walls.  Really, you are trying to create distance between your hand and opposite foot.  Now while you are moving your opposite limbs, you’re trying avoid a few things.

  • Keep the hips from rotating
  • Keep the ribs from flaring
  • Keep your low back from arching

From this exercise you’ll gain the ability to stabilize your low back during upper and lower limb movement and overall lead to better spinal health.

YouTube


Exercising for Now or for Life?

The Sprint vs The Journey

The sprinter goes all out right out of the blocks.  Everything is extreme.  Extreme exercise program, extreme nutrition program, extreme calorie reduction, extreme restrictions!  110% at all times.  These are the people that are training for the short term.  Ignoring technique, mechanics, proper progression/regressions.  It’s all go, go, GO!  They want to get results and they want them yesterday.

The journeyman is all about the process, learning as they go through proper progressions.  They make small changes in habits and stick to them over the long haul.  They understand that they have many many years ahead of them and they would like to enjoy them healthily.  Along with any fat loss or muscle building goals comes the goal of being able to move better and to not be miserable during it.  They want to be able to enjoy life.

So which one are you?  Are you the sprinter, training for the here and now?  Are you the journeyman, training for life?

I would opt for the journeyman.  You want to be able to do what you are doing now, 5, 10, 20 years from now…within reason.   You should be able to do a  push, pull, squat, and deadlift.  Maybe it’s already hit that time that you dont even squat or deadlift because “it hurts your back” or “hurts your knees.”  If that’s the case, it’s time to rethink your training program.

How often are you getting hurt?  Nagging, chronic injuries? More acute, sudden injuries or pain?  Again, maybe time to re-strategize.

Look, starting an exercise program is an awesome idea.  Whether you are looking to build muscle, lose fat, gain strength, get faster,  train for a particular sport, whatever; training is a great idea.  There a a myriad of positives when it comes to exercise, but as with anything, we can get carried away.  Whenever I see people start an exercise program, my first thought is “awesome, it’s great to see people moving and taking care of themselves.”

This leads me to my next point on exercise.  Exercise is not punishment.  That is exercising for the NOW, not for LIFE.  The warm and fuzzy feelings I get from people starting a training program quickly disappears  when you take a look at the approach to exercise that many take.  Unfortunately for many, exercise has become synonymous with punishment, as in “I have to X amount of cardio to make up for the cake I ate” or “OMG I ate so bad this weekend I have to kill myself in the gym this week.”  That negative connection to exercise is often why most people fail in their training endeavors.  They make the mistake of viewing it as punishment, as something negative.  Exercise is something you GET to do, something your ABLE to do.  It provides multiple benefits, physically, emotionally and mentally.

What is your view on exercise?  Or better yet, what constitutes a good workout for you?

For most, it’s about how big of an ass kicking they can get.  They want to crawl out of the gym, be sore for days and leave a pile of sweat and/or puke on the ground.

Exercise should be challenging for sure, but if it has you to the point that you can’t function the next day or day after that, did you really accomplish anything.  Now I’m not saying DOMS isn’t a thing or that you should never feel sore.  That’s not it at all.  Soreness is going to happen.  It’s the bodies response to a new stimulus.  But is that soreness the result of pushing you towards the adaptation you want or further away?

This obsession with being beaten down stems from the fact that there is a misunderstanding with how exercise benefits our body.  We have this preconceived notion that in order to it to work, we should be sweaty, tired, and sore. But it’s not about how much you can sweat; you can just sit in a sauna for that. It’s not how tired it makes you or even about how sore you are the next couple of days.  It comes down to how is it making you better.  Is it bringing you closer to your goal or further away? Really, the biggest indicator of whether it’s working or not is if you’re seeing the results you want.

Part of the blame falls on all the fitsporation that you see on Instagram or Facebook.  Things like:5417951858_62179c3035_bthe_only_workout_you_regret_poster-re476742a6f5a4e4fa0f9451a6ad0905f_wvt_8byvr_324

With garbage like that, its no wonder we have a dysfunctional view of exercise.  All that is BS.  I don’t regret not working out.  What I actually regret is not giving myself recovery days. As I’m typing this, I’m on a recovery week from 12 weeks of intense training with a ton of volume.  I needed a deload week before I jump back to heavy training again.  My body THANKS me for it.  Pain is alerting you that something is wrong and you better fix it or suffer some serious shit.  If you’re pushing through pain, you’re most certainly training for the now and not for life.  So….

Are you exercising for now or for life?