Posts Tagged ‘Training’

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I was training with a buddy of mine from Saipan a few weeks ago, and as is the case with everybody I workout with I ask what their training is like. He goes on by saying that he has been dealing with some chronic low back pain.

No surprise there.

Almost everybody at some point is going to experience some type of LBP.

After delving into the situation a little bit more as we were midway through our workout,  I asked him if he sought out a professional to help alleviate his LBP. He went to several physical therapists, chiropractors, and a few personal trainers, and they all basically said the same thing, “Just stretch your hamstrings.”

You can imagine my disbelief when he said that. That kind of information is about as useful as a used condom. Mind you, these so called “professionals” are supposed to be the real deal in their community. It’s one thing to be incompetent in what you do, but I find it utterly repulsive to be held in high regard and still be an incompetent douche bag (<—yeah, I said it).  It’s people like them that give fitness professionals a bad name.

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Look, there are multiple factors that can cause an individual to experience low back pain — hip deformity, poor mobility, spinal misalignment, tight hip flexors, weak glutes — but in most cases, stretching is almost never the answer. In fact, stretching actually makes matters worse.

What You Should Do

 

Your body is smarter than you think. That tightness you’re experiencing… it’s your body holding on for dear life because it’s out of whack.  Certain muscle groups (in this case the hamstrings) create a “protective tension” to try and provide some level of stability that is lacking elsewhere. Stretching those “tight” muscles destabilizes them, which will further increase your chance of becoming injured. So uhh…you’re basically just screwing yourself going through the same mundane stretching routine day-in and day-out.

Something as simple as a side plank, can get you feeling brand new  — it works like magic (seriously, it does).

Pretty cool huh? Like I said, just like magic.

To put things into perspective, when the muscles surrounding your spine is lacking adequate stability, it’s going to look elsewhere to garner some tension. That is why it is imperative to know why your hamstrings and/or low back is tight in the first place. While there are some people who absolutely need to improve their range of motion through various mobility drills and foam rolling techniques, it’s ignorant to assume everybody needs to do them because they’re feeling tight.

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Become An Insider

I’ve been seeing quite a few trainers do a lot of questionable things recently and it has me wondering, “What the hell are you doing?!” Considering I’ve only been a strength coach for two years, I’ve progressed fairly quickly in terms of gaining the knowledge and experience necessary to make an impact.  Much of that can be attributed to having great mentors, and I was very fortunate to have worked with like-minded individuals when I started at 24 Hour Fitness.

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24 Hour Fitness – Bishop St. Honolulu, HI

While other coaches and trainers may not have had the same opportunities, that doesn’t negate the fact that they should take the time to continually improve as a fitness professional — or as I like to put it, sharpening the sword.  I cringe every time I see a coach or trainer putting their clients through ridiculous workouts.  I’m not one to criticize, but you’re doing a disservice to your clients  if all you’re trying to do is impress them.  Educating them should be the number one priority, period. Below are two stupid things coaches do.

1. Plyometric Conditioning

 

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Movements that require a high amount of force production should be taken lightly when it comes to conditioning work. Treating box jumps as a means for improving endurance is asinine. I’ve said this time and time again, the purpose of plyometric work is to learn how to generate force — but more so, how to absorb it.  Taking your clients and having them repetitively do rebounding box jumps in a circuit fashion defeats the purpose. Training should yield some positive results. I can stand right in front of you and tell you to give me 20 burpees and 20 box jumps for three rounds, but the only thing you will have gotten in return is a “workout.”

The goal of implementing conditioning work is to elevate your heart rate, and improve both muscular and cardiovascular endurance. There are types of movements that don’t require a lot of coordination and those are the ones you can have your clients grind through.  Incorporating prowler/plate pushes, medicine ball stomps, battle ropes and kettlebell variations are much better choices than the former.

2. Lack of Assessment and Individualization

 

It amazes me how many coaches and trainers don’t even bother to thoroughly assess their clients.  Joint congruency and structural integrity should be prioritized before anything else.  Moreover, assessing allows you to individualize your strength program for each client.  It gives you insight as to what movements are applicable to them. For instance, incorporating a boat load of mobility work with someone who is already hypermobile to begin with is counter-productive.  Conversely, some may need to spend an ample amount of time doing mobility work in order to perform at a high level.

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What I’m trying to convey is that completely disregarding an individual’s limitations and restrictions at the expense of burning calories is irresponsible and is the very reason why our profession still gets a bad rap. Every aspect of the training program should differ from one individual to the next — this is critical as a coach.  You have to respect each and every individual’s anatomy and anthropometry. Training programs should not be the same across the board.  Take the time to evaluate your clients.

Takeaway

 

As coaches, it’s our moral obligation to motivate and push our clients so that they can perform at their best and yield the results. Granted, there are much more stupid things coaches do, but I’ve narrowed it down to the ones I see most.

And please, for the love of God, stop with the kipping pull ups and burpee box jumps.

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Become An Insider

I never realized how tiring traveling can be. I think the one thing I dislike most about traveling is that my routine gets messed up. I’m a routine kind of guy, so when that gets out of place, I don’t feel as productive. Keeping up with my training becomes a bit more challenging and staying on point with my nutrition just goes down the drain.

With that being said, it’s good to be back!

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If you were to tell me seven years ago that in seven years I’d be running my own fitness business and networking with some of the top minds of the fitness industry, I’d be lost for words. I was in Anaheim this past weekend and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of great trainers and coaches. Best part was that I was able to catch up with my buddy Josh Landis, and I got to meet up with Dean Somerset and Tony Gentilcore again for their awesome workshop.

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So…today’s post is all about exercises that really suck.

With regards to exercise selection, there’s obviously nothing wrong with varying your workouts or trying to isolate specific muscle groups.  For instance, I love to lift heavy ass weights just as much as the next person, but if it means wrecking myself in the process — it’s not worth it.  The same rule applies to exercise selection. If the movement you’re doing hurts, then don’t do it. You have to avoid what hurts.

What kind of a training effect would I get if I was doing high volume sit ups everyday or overhead pressing a barbell twice a week?  I don’t know about you, but my lower back and shoulders would be giving me the finger.

At the end of the day, the goal for every training session should be to maximize muscle fiber recruitment with minimal risk.  In other words, the rewards should far outweigh the risk for injury.

With that in mind, here are four exercises that really suck.

1. Sit Ups

We all know that having a strong core is important for developing overall strength, but that doesn’t mean doing a thousand sit ups like Rocky. Sit ups will wreak havoc on your discs. Imagine taking a wire coat hanger and bending it back and forth over and over.  Eventually the metal will break.   The same thing happens to your spine.  Dr. Stuart McGill notes that traditional sit-ups imposes huge loads of compressive forces on the spine, so repeatedly bending your spine will result in disc bulges.  You might get a nice 6-pack, but you’ll probably have some lower back pain to go along with that.

Do this instead: Stir the Pot

This has to be my favorite core exercise. Brace your core and squeeze your glutes to remain stable through the hips and lower back.

2. Upright Rows

I remember the first time I started performing this exercise.  I felt like a boss!  I mean come on, everybody else does it.  Arnold did it in the 70’s, and athletes all over the world do it as well.  Well let me tell you, nothing screams at your shoulders more than this exercise. I can tell you that most people will experience some type of shoulder discomfort if they were to implement this exercise in their program.

From a structural standpoint,  not all bodies are created equal.  Individuals with a type I acromion are the lucky ones who can pretty much upright row for days because they have a lot of space to work with.  Those with a type II and III acromion have a high impingement rate due to minimal space, so to put this simply — for most people performing the upright row is the equivalent of repeatedly banging your head against the wall.

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Photo Credit: tnation.com

Do this instead: Banded Face Pulls

In addition to working the shoulders, you work on building the entire musculature of the upper back with banded face pulls. Keep the shoulders low and chest high.

3. Barbell Overhead Press

If you can’t get your arms up overhead without dropping your head forward and excessively arching your lower back, then there is no reason for you to be adding load.  Loading a dysfunction creates more dysfunction, which will eventually lead to pain. So if your trainer or coach has you overhead pressing a barbell on day one without a proper assessment, here’s a tip: RUN!

From my own experience and training people from all walks of life, the overhead press doesn’t bode well for most people. For most general population folks, this movement might never be an option simply because the cost of doing business is too high — the risks far outweigh the benefits.

Don’t get me wrong, the overhead press is a fantastic exercise, but you have to earn the right to do it.

Do this instead: Landmine Press

I’ve grown quite fond of this variation because it’s a user-friendly exercise that can work the overhead pressing motion without compromising shoulder health and integrity.

4. Forward Lunges

Forward lunges are one of the most common exercises you will see almost everybody doing in the gym or outdoors.  It’s an exercise that I use to do a lot in the past, but I’ve found that all it really does is create a lot of anterior knee pain.

As Dr. John Rusin stated, “The forward lunge focuses on a hard eccentric quad contraction on the step leg to stabilize the foot and ankle, while still staying upright at the hip and trunk.” This is where most of the shear forces in the knee occur.

Do this instead: Reverse Lunges

From a coaching standpoint, I’ve found that reverse lunges are much easier to teach and are far more effective in terms of working the quads and glutes without the shear forces that it’s counterpart induces.

To put everything into perspective, your training should stimulate your body, not annihilate it.  You have to accommodate the activity to the structure. Peace!

Oh and one more thing… DON’T EVER DO THIS!