Monday, July 21, 2014 • West Hartford, CT 06117
In following with the theme of my first post to this blog I'm back again to share my latest insights. Lately I have noticed a big draw to body weight exercises. Such exercises can be done anywhere, great for coordination, balance, more functional in my opinion and can modified to fit either muscular strength or endurance. My latest read, "The Naked Warrior" by Pavel, had a lot of insight on breathing, force production and tension. All the time I see fellow trainers tell their clients to keep their core tight or to push off that leg. But there is so much more to get out of each exercise. Lately I've taken my push ups and planks to a new level. Now when I tell me clients to not just engage their core but to squeeze their core, trying to bring their pelvis and rib cage together. Next they squeeze their glutes together as if holding a penny and for push ups to roll their elbows in as if screwing their hands into the ground. All this tension makes the pushup or plank much tougher but creates a tremendous amount of stability and strength. The best part is you are working core better, glutes which are often neglected and shoulder position. By screwing the arms into the ground the shoulders roll into the socket and down. The muscles around the shoulder tighten creating stability, strengthen and teach neuromuscular control. Thus far for our push ups and planks we have addressed shoulder, core and glute activation, strength and stability which both exercises are designed to promote. Now lets reverse it to a row on a TRX , all the same principles apply. No TRX? Bent over row insteads? Certainly! Definately squeeze the glute there. No reason you can't squeeze the core very tight and it's a row so you want to engage your back muscles bringing your hands to your armpits. Best way to do that and relax the muscles in the neck is to roll the shoulders down and back. Think of bringing your shoulder blades together and driving the shoulders away from your ears. Reverse flies have the same principles, as well as a cable chest press and many more. Every time we move our bodies our core is always the first thing to activate. By that simple fact any exercise can become a core exercise to protect the body and create a stronger center to generate movement from. One of the other things I mentioned was force generation. Go ahead and squeeze your entire core like I just mentioned. Without moving you ribs or pelvis try and bring them together, sides too. Feel like your hands recieved some of that energy? It did. The tension created in one set of muscles always carries over the surrounding muscles and a little but through out the body. Just by engaging the core and glutes during an exercise the rest of the body will benefit added activation or tension spilling over to other areas of the body. With all my clients I've found this to a very easy but effective way to increase intensity, performance and giving them more bang for each exercise. With any exercise think of activating every muscle from the ground up along the chain. Areas not engaged are weak links and needed to be plugged up in order to maximize efficiency and output of the exercise. This is most important for athletes but anyone can always benefit from doing the rights things and getting the most out each and every exercise. Pick and exercise or series of exercise and try any of the above mentioned points. You'll notice a big difference in the intensity of your workout and your body will thank you.