Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Pushup - The Most Underrated Exercise

The pushup seems to be one of those exercises that most people tend to forget about nor bother with. Here are some of the reasons that I've heard as to why some don't perform pushups:
  • They seem 'too easy' 
  • There's no true strength component to benefit from
  • They're boring
  • I did them back in high school - it's an old school exercise that has no value
  • Blah, blah, blah..... 
Don't underestimate the power of the pushup and the value it has to help build total body strength. It's an exercise that was once-forgotten and is making a huge comeback. The reason is due to the versatility and the variations of the movement. Just when you think that you've mastered a specific pushup exercise, along comes another variation that's guaranteed to challenge you to greater heights.

Here's a test for you - perform as many pushups as you can in 3-minutes. You can rest & recover whenever you want within those 3-minutes but the clock will still be running. Performing 55 is average, but it you can't reach 75, then you either need to get stronger or lose weight!

Check out these 7 variations of the pushup that's guaranteed to help you get stronger and shed a few lb's in the process.

If you're in need to perfect your form in mastering the pushup, then read this post.

Now....get pushin'!


*Source: menshealth.com

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Squat a Little

Every now & then I'll be working with clients to always complain about having 'bad knees'"My knees are so bad that I just stopped squatting and lunging all together", they say. 

Maybe that's part of the problem - you're not performing squats (or any other related hip-knee dominant exercise) , which happens to be functional movement pattern that we use out in the real world. Maybe that's why your knees are so bad!

Think about it.

What happens when you drops your car keys or a pen/pencil on the floor? How do you pick it back up?

Hopefully you're not using your low back as you lean over from the hips to pick something up. Yet, we hear about this happening all of the time when people start 'throwing out their backs'.

Nope. Sorry. It wasn't that 1 incident that did your back in, but rather years of repetitive bad form that got you in trouble. Years of not using your legs to help you lift objects from the ground up. It just happened to be that this 1 incident was the 'straw that broke the camel's back', so to say.

Somewhere between our adolescent years and adulthood, we lose our ability to fully squat.

Check out this guest blog by my good friend and colleague, Guido Van Ryssegem, CSCS, ATC, PT - owner & founder of Kinetic Intergrations, as he give you the low down about the squat and how it applies to our daily movement patterns.

It’s hard to dispute that our so-called modern western world has adopted a far more sedentary lifestyle compared to the previous generations.  This sedentary lifestyle has lead to an epidemic of not only metabolic disorders such as obesity, but also musculoskeletal injuries.  One of the most common musculoskeletal injuries associated with this lifestyle is low back pain. It’s no coincidence that the rise of this problem has occurred at a time when the seated position has become the most common worldwide working posture. College students are not immune to this posture as they often spend hours a day in a sitting position in class, when studying and during their leisure time.

Modern Day Life

Modern day life has made most of us adopt different sustained postures and movement patterns then to what our body is made to do. If you have spent some time in Asia or Africa you would have seen the locals sitting in full squat position talking, waiting for the bus or drinking tea. When you compare the joint angles at the hips, knees and ankles in this position compared to sitting in a seat a big difference can be noticed. Although there is some suggestions that Asians have hip structure than suits a full squat position more than Westerners, our young ones show us that we do indeed have the ability to squat all the way down to the ground. As adults we just lose it because we don’t use it.

Workout Sessions

Incorporating a few deep squats at the end of your workout sessions can be a great way to restore some range to creaky ankle, knee and hip joints.  A bonus is that by sitting in this position allows you to stretch all these areas at the same time. You may need to hold onto something to stop yourself falling backwards when you first start doing this – that’s OK.

  1. Start with a wide-open stance and work the feet closer together and straighter as this gets easier.
  2. Focus on the weight being through the middle of the feet.
  3. Aim for a tempo of 4 seconds down, 1-2 seconds up, 10-12 repetitions and repeat 1 to 4 sets depending on the level of fitness.
  4. If your hips feel tight at the bottom of the squat, you may want to hold the exercise for 1 to 2 seconds to help increase the stretch of tight tissues.

Old Rule Applies

Deep squatting may not suit everyone.  If you have knee or back pain in this position there may be a problem that requires medical care.  The old rule applies. If it hurts don’t do it.  Go slow and work your way down within your limits.


Monday, August 15, 2011

The IDEA World 2011 Workout!

Check out this awesome and entertaining video by my friends & colleagues, Sean Croxton, CMTA of Underground Wellness and Josh Trent, CPT, CMTA of Wellness Force (both in San Diego, CA) as they make a visit to the IDEA World Fitness Convention in Los Angeles. Guest appearances by my very good friend, colleague and San Diego State Aztec brother, Todd Durkin, CSCS - owner of Fitness Quest 10 (San Diego), Brett Klika, CSCS - Fitness Quest 10, Josh Henkin, CSCS - owner & founder of Ultimate Sandbag Training and more. Check it out!



Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Coolest Dog In the World

Check out this awesome video of "the coolest dog in the world". Well, almost the coolest dog in the world because I think my dog is the coolest!



Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Conquer the Challenge

The other day I was in the middle of designing a program for one of my fitness classes. During that time, I was contemplating the exercise selection and the sequencing. I decided to intersperse challenging exercises with others that weren't too tough to handle.

Challenging exercises like Burpees, split jumps, Judo push-ups, inchworms/walkouts...to name a few.

Once the class started, we went through our warm-up progressions and explained the exercise sequence & protocol.

These were the  instructions that I presented:

"Here is a list of 10 exercises. Perform each exercise for 40 reps in sequence. Use as little rest as possible making sure that all reps are completed. Before you move on to your next exercise, keep in mind that you must finish all 40 reps. You will have 20-minutes to complete as many rounds as possible. Keep good form, no partial reps, work fast, work hard and be efficient in your quality of work!"

So there is was. The stage was set and it was time to unleash the beasts!

As the class started their 40-rep challenge, I saw beads of sweat start pouring down some furrowed brows. Sweat marks were becoming more evident on the backs of people's shirts. I'd hear huffing & puffing and the occasional grunts & growls to get through each rep.

There was no doubt that these guys were pushing it hard!

At the end of the 20-minutes, some lay there on the floor celebrating the fact that the challenge was over. Others were hunched over, hands on their knees as they caught their breath. 

"Hey everyone. I know those 20-minutes weren't easy and I know most of you, if not all of you, are tired. I get it!", I told the class. Then came the best part (which Martin Rooney once said at a conference I attended which stuck with me).  I then told the class, "Just because you're tired doesn't mean you have to look tired! So stand up, walk around and look like you're ready to conquer any obstacle that stands in your way!"

Speaking of obstacles, I then asked my class if they followed the instructions that I gave them in regards to the sequencing of exercises. To my surprise, half of the class came back & said that they skipped a few exercises in order to do the EASY ones first!

Are you kidding me?!

There was a big & logical reason why I told my class to go in sequence!

It's about more than just paying attention to detail & follow-through - both things that half the class missed out on!

Let's cut to the chase and get the point I'm trying to make.

Performing the exercises in sequence was a lesson to reinforce the following:
  • To face the challenge of demanding/difficult exercises head-on without hesitation
  • Understand that conquering the challenge of 40 reps would be possible by figuring out a plan of attack - 'a map of succession' as I call it
  • Realize that obstacles (no matter how big or small) will come in many shapes and sizes
  • Never underestimate your ability to succeed and overcome perceived limitations
  • Doing something difficult & challenging will give you that experience so that you may do it more efficiently if it ever arises again
  • Appreciate the fact that facing any challenge and/or obstacle is about living life in the real world
The key points above can be applied to many facets of our lives. As we aim to better our lives, mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually, we must understand that we will face many challenges that will stand before us. Like a wall that stands tall, it's our duty & responsibility to find a way around it or go through it.

It's about breaking down barriers that holds us back from achieving our true potential to create & embrace great things! 

If getting ahead in life is the game we play, how would you ever expect to move forward by doing the EASY things first?

Whether it's getting a job promotion, buying a new home, starting up a new business, moving to a new location, asking out the girl of your dreams - all of these things aren't easy to do. But we ALWAYS find a way to get these things done and reap the rewards of making the impossible possible!

Life is hard, no doubt! And it throws curveballs at us all the time. 

However, there comes a time where we can seize the moment and 'conquer the challenge' before us. It's just a matter of bringing out the bats, having an offensive plan of attack, and hitting all of the curveballs out of the park!


Thursday, August 4, 2011

How to Master the Perfect Push-up

I don't know what's up with people these days but every time I observe someone perform push-ups, it resembles some other foreign movement (sometimes it looks like 'humping the floor') which isn't anything close to being what I call "the perfect push-up". I most cases, and I do mean about 80-90% of the time, form & technique is out the window.

The person's head is hanging down - chin down to their chest.

The hips drop down to the floor causing severe low back extension - this isn't Yoga folks, so what's up with the Cobra Pose?!

The hands are way out in front and the elbows flare outward into a "T" position.

I even sometimes see regressions - push-ups on the knees with the butt up in the air. Despite the 'bowing' movement and the partial reps, this move doesn't cut it close to being the "perfect push-up!
Here's a 5-step primer to help improve your form & technique and get you on the road to mastering the perfect push-up.

  1. Maintain a neutral spine by keeping your head up & looking forward (down to the floor). Maintain a stiff upper back while bracing your head throughout the movement. If the heads drops, your upper back will sag.
  2. Brace your abs. Ever been punched in the stomach? If you have, then you know it's not a pleasant experience. In this case, given a warning about getting punched in the midsection, brace your abs hard, as if you want to minimize the impact of force if you were getting punched. Bracing the abs also assists in keeping the hips parallel to the floor as well as preventing any bowing movement of your mid back. 
  3. Make sure the knuckles of your hands are directly under your shoulders. This will maintain an optimal position to maintain shoulder stability thus allowing your chest to take the grunt of the work as it should.
  4. Focus on squeezing the shoulder blades at the bottom of the movement. As you push the floor away from you, roll the shoulder blades back out. 
  5. During the push phase, explode back up to your starting position keeping your elbows in tight next to the rib cage. Often times I see people who let their elbows bow out to the sides. If you were to take an aerial view from the top, their set-up would look like the letter "T". The ideal set-up should look like an arrow.
So there you have it. A solid 5-step plan to help you crank out some awesome, textbook push-ups.

For more awesome info on developing the push-up, be sure to check out this informative article that I came across on T-Nation by clicking HERE!

Time to get it done!