conditioning

To the Point: Ab Training

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Oh hey there back pain....

Why you need to train your abs:
1. Injury Prevention
2. Improved Posture
3. Improved Gym Performance

Strong abs are important no matter what you lifting goals are. When most people talk about their abs or “core” they usually are only referring to their abdominal muscles. In reality your “core” includes the abdominal muscles as well as the muscles of the back and spine. Contrary to what most think, the abdominal and other core muscles are not meant to create movement, they are meant to prevent it. Their primary function is anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-extension. In order for the abs to do their job properly then the joints surrounding them must be doing their as well. Fairly often if you look at someone with back pain you’ll see that the hips are locked up tight and their upper back (thoracic spine) is locked up tight as well. This forces the lower back to compensate for the lack of mobility in those two areas by loosening what is supposed to be a very stable area. This coupled up with a steady diet of crunches, sit ups, russian twists, and improperly performed back extensions is a recipe for back pain and dysfunction.

If you didn’t follow along with all that here are the cliff notes:

1. Loosen Up Your Hips- Defranco’s Agile 8 among other things works great and is easy to perform.  FWIW, if you have back pain and are blaming it on tight hamstrings you need to think again.  Most likely your hip flexors are far to tight which rocks your pelvis and low back out of alignment forcing your hamstrings to get tight and stay that way.  Stretch your hip flexors and see if that doesn’t help.

2. Pick Abdominal STABILITY Movements over Mobility Movements- Start with the basics like planks then move into something where you move around a stable base such as Stir the Pots, Pallof Presses, or Body Saws.

3. Loosen Your Upper Back- Check out Nick Tumminello and Tony Gentilcore on Youtube for some great movements here.

By focusing on those 3 areas you will then actually be able to move your hips, shoulders, and upper back through proper ranges of motion and allow your core to remain nice and stable like it needs to be.  Once you have those three taken care of then you can move into some more advanced movements but until you can create stability then don’t try to create movement!

A10 Week Wrap Up

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Sorry for not updating very fast, just been a little busy here lately.  I don’t have my log book in front of me so I don’t remember what all I did in each workout but I did hit all my sets and reps of bench and deadlift for that week.  I think on bench day I knocked out 50 reps of dips and chins each and on deadlift day it was some back extensions and other stuff.

Since I haven’t trained with much volume in awhile this is a HUGE switch for me.  So far I’m responding favorably which is a good thing.  I’ve only been insanely sore after my squat day but some extra walking, foam rolling, and stretching helped a ton.

C3D5- Pistols and Conditioning

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This was Tuesdays workout.

AM:
I worked on some pistol box squats and full pistols with the TRX but I couldn’t get past parallel without just dropping on my ass when I was doing the box squats. After thinking about it for a bit I remembered what the Iron Tamer David Whitley said when he was working on getting to a full pistol squat. The problem wasn’t really a strength issue, it was more balance so he used a kettlebell as a counter balance. So I grabbed my kettlebell (30#) and since I was training in flat soled shoes I grabbed a board that’s about 3/8 of an inch thick to elevate my heel on. After doing that I went from only being able to go about half way down to a full eccentric pistol squat in about 5 minutes. Now I just need to be able to stand up lol.

PM:
Hill Sprints x 10 (approximately 25 yards)

Took yesterday (Wednesday) completely off.

Magic Bullets and the Big Picture

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Ever since we started researching diet, exercise, and health we’ve always tried to find the one thing that will answer most, if not all of our problems. That’s why we every month we end up demonizing one particular nutrient or training method and blame a whole host of problems on them.

Over the years we’ve demonized fat, squats, and all other kinds of stuff. We’ve also tried taking a single nutrient or training method and painted them as the end-all-be-all of fitness and health.

Guess what, it’s all wrong.

We spend so much time breaking everything down and trying to find the one element of each that is either causing all the problems or creating all the benefits that we forget one important aspect:

The Sum is Greater than the Whole of It’s Parts

There is a reason that a man made antioxidant supplement doesn’t work nearly as well as actually eating a large variety of high quality fruits and veggies. It’s not about one single cog, it’s about how it works with the rest of the machine. Even though we’ve been making and researching supplements for the past 20+ years, we’re still rank amateurs compared to mother nature. Weighing and measuring poor quality food will get you far less results than focusing on eating the highest quality, highest nutrient per calorie foods.

That’s why leg pressing is an incredibly poor substitute for squats and the lat pulldown and the pec dec are poor substitutes for chins/pull ups and dips/push ups. They may use the same muscles, but the hormonal response, adaptive response, and calorie expenditure for each exercise are COMPLETELY different. If you want to build a great body with just machines you’re going to need to spend a couple grand and invest hours upon hours in the gym to get there. Conversely you can spend a fraction of that time and money to build an even better body (in my opinion) with some simple tools like barbells, body weight, and sandbags and focusing on big movements like squats, deadlifts, cleans, pull ups/chins, push ups/dips, and loaded carries.

What’s the point of looking good if you are still weak and not able to perform when it counts? Put down the psuedo-foods and step away from the pseudo-fitness machines and opt for more organic fruits, veggies, meats and fats then kick your fitness into overdrive with some squats, dips, pull ups and sled dragging!  There are no magic bullets or shortcuts.  It’s time to do the work!

C3/D2- Single Leg Training

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This was just a quick workout I got in over my lunch break yesterday.

Single Leg Squat off Step:
2nd Stair x 5 each leg
3rd Stair x 2 each leg x 3 sets

Single Leg Parallel Box Squat:
BW x 3 each
BW x 3 each

Sled Drag:
85 lbs x 3 trips

The third stair is a little below parallel. I’m getting better at controlling it all the way to the bottom but I don’t have much pop out of the bottom of it yet. Only a couple weeks till I try my pistols so I need to get crackin!

Oh Snap! Tony G. and Brett C. taking ass and kicking names!

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If you have a little time for some knowledge bombs to be dropped your way these articles are worth reading.  You need to read these in order for them to make sense.  They’re a little long but well worth the read.

#1- Just Say NO!– Life in Synergy

#2- Here We Go Again– Tony Gentilcore

#3- You Just Got Served– Brett Contreras

#4- Woe Be Unto Ye Who Contradicts the Glute Master!– Tony Gentilcore

You obviously have links to Tony’s blog so if you want to read more of Brett’s ramblings check out http://bretcontreras.com.

Conditioning

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Darth Vader in Training

 

 

Conditioning Day!

Nothing to exciting here. It’s been rainy and wet the past couple days so the alley behind my house is a muddy, sloppy mess so sled dragging was out. So I headed outside, grabbed my kettlebell, my 90# sandbag, and my jump rope and got to work. This session was very off the wall and I just rolled with whatever came to mind as I went and I didn’t count reps so I’ll just throw out the exercises I did. The session lasted just under 20 minutes with minimal breaks.

KB Swing
KB Snatches
Jump Rope
Sandbag Squat
Sandbag Carry
Sandbag Loading
Single Leg Squat

My only goal with this was to get my heart rate up and going for 15-20 minutes. The primary two exercises I kept jumping back and forth between were the sand bag loading (over a 6′ bar) and jumping rope.