Exercises I love doing and you should be doing too! -Deadbugs-

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The Deadbug exercise has been around for many many years, yet very few people include it in their training programs.  

It is a great way for individuals to train their Diagonal Stabilization (reciprocal pattern).  Meaning the connection your body makes with opposing appendages (i.e. Left Arm, Right Leg).  

Your body works in more diagonal patterns than you may think.  Here are a few examples: Throwing…anything.  If you throw with your right arm, which leg to you step forward with before you throw? Thats right..your Left Foot.  

The simplest example that you would never normally think about is walking.  As you step you usually walk with a little bit of a “swing” with your upper body.  If you pay close attention to it (nobody normally does), you will notice that as you step the opposite arm swings forward.  If you try to “correct” this by swinging the same arm as you step it will feel extremely weird.  This is because our body works in reciprocal patterns.  Just like how our left brain controls the right side of our body, same basic concept.  

So in order to train the core muscles in this pattern you need to establish the movement pattern of opposite arm, opposite leg.  There are 2 good ways to accomplish this, Quadruped (on your hands and knees) and Supine (on your back).  

The Deadbug focuses on the supine pattern (notice the picture of the Dead Bug).  There are a few different variations in which to perform the exercise (materials used).  I used a stability ball for the demo video but it can be done without one, as well as with a medicine ball (which makes it wayyy more difficult).  Notice in the video I keep my knee angle relatively close to 90 degrees, and then fully extend my legs forward without touching the ground.  Its important to remember to keep a flat back when performing the exercise.

Give it a try with 3 sets of 10-12 reps (per side).  Once that gets too easy, try this.  Extend the opposite arm/leg out, then with the arm/leg that are holding the ball up, squeeze them together as tight as possible, this will up the difficulty tremendously.

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Fitness Stuff You Should Be Reading!

Eric Cressey just put out a new article on Squat and Deadlift technique.  His main focus of the article was about cuing the squat/deadlift by saying “knees out”, he has a short video on how/why that may not be enough of a cue. 

http://www.ericcressey.com/squat-deadlift-technique-knees-out

Charlie Weingrof never disappoints with his articles.  His mind works in ways that no other person in this field could ever comprehend.  His article is about feet position during the squat, showing the variations that most people do, and why most of them are horrible for you.  Prepare for your mind to melt.

http://charlieweingroff.com/2012/01/foot-positions-in-the-squat/

This article is for the ladies.  Its an article from Nia Shanks (a woman) entitled “Why Women Should Lift Heavy Weights”.  Its a very informative article that gives women a females prospective on why they should lift heavy.

http://tribesports.com/blog/nia-shanks-why-women-should-lift-heavy-weights?utm_source=TS_twitter&utm_medium=t.co&utm_campaign=NiaShanks

Enjoy!

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The Weekend Warrior

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Imagine the position of my uncle.  He wakes up extremely early M-F to make the 6:13am train to NYC where he works.  The Train commute is 90 minutes.  Assuming he works an 8 hour day (most likely closer to 9-10), and adding in another 90 minute train ride back home.  Now add in 20 minutes (each) to and from the train station.  Total that all up and he leaves his house at about 5:45 am(approx), and doesn’t return home till roughly 7-8pm depending on the day.  He also has a wife and teenage daughter who he really does enjoy spending time with.  How will he ever have time to make it to the gym?

Now not everyone is in the same situation as my uncle, but I bet there are a lot of people who are in similar situations.  They work long hours and have families at home to take care of and spend time with.  Realistically getting to the gym for a 3-4 day a week program just isn’t going to happen.

Your training does not have to hinder to those factors just because you cannot get into the gym 3 or more times per week. Yes getting to the gym at least 3 times a week would be the ideal way to go, but a short time frame of twice a week does not have to slow you down, as long as you’re smart about your programming and hit all of the right areas that your body needs.

Insert The Weekend Warrior.  A two day a week type program that can be done on Saturday and Sunday that will give the individual a real workout that can facilitate all of their bodies requirements.

Strength and Conditioning coach Mike Boyle said “Push something, Pull something, and do something for your legs and core”. I agree with this statement, but I plan to not only elaborate a little bit, but also take it one-step further.

Since you are pressed for time, I like to use a quote from Strength Coach Dan John. “What you do in the first 15 minutes of your workout is probably the most important, treat it as such”. He is 100% correct; the first lift of your training should get the majority of your focus, and should be the exercise where you would like to see the most improvement.  It should also be the exercise that does the most “bang for your buck” for your body.

For me (and hopefully most of you), this lift should be either a Squat variation (Back squat, Front Squat, Goblet Squat, Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat {RFESS} etc.) or a Deadlift variation (Trap Bar, Straight Bar, Sumo Deadlift, Rack Pull etc.). Lower body exercises set up the foundation for the rest of your exercises because they require the most muscle fiber recruitment to complete the exercise.  Obviously the frequency of the exercises will not be where they should, but it will give you just enough to give your body the workout it needs.

Simply put it will consist of two full-body workouts with some specific guidelines to break down the workouts.  Each day will begin with a main lower body movement: Quad Dominant (Squats and such) or Hip Dominant (Deadlifts and whatnot).  These two groups will be done on different days.

The Upper body workouts work similarly.  Pushing and Pulling should be separated as well.  And finally your core exercises will be added in as accessory work to your main lifts (because your main lifts will be designed to work the core as well).

Here is a generic sample of what your days could look like:

Day 1

A1) Lower Body (Squat/Deadlift variation)

A2) Anti-Extension Core (Planks, Stability Ball Rollouts, etc.)

B1) Posterior Chain (RDL, Hip Bridges/Thrusts)

B2) Horizontal Pulling (Bent-Over Rows, Seated Cable Rows, etc.)

C1) Single Leg Stance (Split Squats, Lunges, etc.)

C2) Vertical Pressing (Standing Kettle Bell/Dumbell Overhead Press, )

D1) Diagonal Stabilization Core (Deadbugs, Birddogs, etc.)

D2) Metabolic Burn (Medicine Ball Slams, Battling Rope, etc.)

Day 2

A1) Lower Body (Squat/Deadlift variation, opposite to day 1)

A2) Anti-Rotation Core (Belly Press, Lateral Rope Pulls, etc.)

B1) Single Leg Posterior Chain (Single Leg RDL, Single Leg Bridges, etc.)

B2) Horizontal Pressing (Barbell Bench, Dumbell Bench, Pushups etc.)

C1) Single Leg Stance (Step-Ups, Single Leg Squats, etc.)

C2) Vertical Pulling (Chin-Ups/Pull-Ups, Lat Pulldowns)

D1) Lateral Stabilization Core (Side Planks, Farmers Walk variations, etc.)

D2) Metabolic Burn (Medicine Ball Slams, Battling Rope, etc.)

(Exercises labeled (A1, A2), (B1, B2), (C1, C2) and (D1, D2) are to be done back-to back {Super-set})

Each exercises should be done at least with 3 sets, as far as weight I would say use an approximate 10 Rep Max weight for sets of 6-8 reps for each of the exercises.

As I said this is just a sample, the important part is to remember to cover all of your bases and hit every movement pattern (not just the muscle group):

Lower Body:

  • Quad Dominant (Squats)
  • Hip Dominant (Deadlifts)

Upper Body:

  • Horizontal Pull (Rows)
  • Vertical Pull (Pullups)
  • Horizontal Push (Bench Press)
  • Vertical Push (Military Press)

Core:

  • Anti-Extension (Plank)
  • Anti-Rotation (Pallof Press)
  • Lateral Stabilization (Side Plank)
  • Diagonal Stabilization (Deadbugs)

The only cardio you really need is the running you will be doing to catch the train.

This type of program is not for everyone.  It is meant to be for individuals who truly have no way of making it to the gym during the week (watching survivor is no excuse, they have these magical boxes called DVR’s).

Hangover Mondays – The Gmen do it again!

Just checking in to make sure no one was trampled over when you HAD to go shopping at Midnight on Black Friday, because you absolutely HAD to get that crock pot that was 50% off the normal price.

Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving week(end).  I did my usual go to my grandmothers house for dinner and pass out before dessert, and it was a success.  The weekend was pretty relaxing otherwise.

Saturday Night I attended my friends band Evolutionary War (www.Evolutionarywarmusic.com). Sorry to make a plug like that but they are seriously really good.  They had a EP release show where they officially released…You guessed it, Their new EP “Life on High”. (good times were had by all).

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The New York Football Giants are back on track again.  All it took was the bye week to get refocused and refueled.  They embarrassed the Packers 38-10 and sacked Aaron Rodgers 5 times.  Here’s my take on how the game went.  For everyone who knows the Giants they are notorious for making every game come down to the last possession.  I felt so comfortable with the Giants lead last night that I went to bed with 8 minutes left in the game, knowing that they were going to win.

Eric Cressey is having a Black Friday/Cyber Monday deal on a few of his (and others) fitness related stuff.  He puts out a lot of great material with everything from optimal shoulder performance, to the best (cookie cutter) strength and conditioning program I have ever seen (fuck P90x).  So head on over to his website and check out his stuff while its still on sale.

http://www.ericcressey.com/im-having-a-black-friday-cyber-monday-sale

So This past Friday at the gym I decided to test my max in the Trap Bar Deadlift (currently sits at 510lbs).  Back story: 2 weeks ago I deadlifted every single god damn day to compete in a high volume deadlifting challenge (took 5th place overall go me!).  Then I promptly took a week off from deadlifting all together.  I managed to Pull 490 lbs (missed my 510 attempt).

However my 490 pull seemed to be a lot faster than it has been in the past so this might be a good sign that my deadlift will be going up really soon!

So for your enjoyment here is my 490lb deadlift:

Fitness Stuff You Should Be Reading!

I will be the first to admit that I don’t know everything about the fitness industry.  I am always constantly reading and learning about the latest trends and what research is being done in this ever growing field.  I post these articles from like-minded individuals of the fitness industry who I feel not only to help us learn, but to help change the industry in the best way possible.

 

Eric Cressey (of Cressey Performance) wrote a great article a few days ago on why it is important to add speed deadlifting into your routine.  He goes on to talk about how important bar speed off the floor is, especially when you are maxing out!  A very good read.

http://www.ericcressey.com/5-how-to-deadlift-technique-strength-training-programs

Mike Reinold posted an article last week some Scapula Exercise Myths.  It is great for anyone who might have shoulder issues (pain, lack of mobility, etc.).  The Shoulder girdle is a very complex joint that can have a laundry list of problems.  The Scapula plays a huge part in your shoulder function, so this article is great for anyone who wants to help prevent shoulder issues.

http://www.mikereinold.com/2012/11/3-myths-of-scapula-exercises.html

 

And what would my weekly fitness post be without a Tnation article :).  Dean Somerset wrote an amazing article on the glutes that really should get all of you off your ass (pun intended) and doing some heavy deadlifts.  

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/awaken_the_glute_monster

 

Hope everyone has an amazing Turkey Day!  I will be in a food coma for the next day or two, I hope to have another post up by Friday, but If not, enjoy the weekend!

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Hangover Mondays!

Happy Monday Everyone!  Hope you all enjoyed a relaxing weekend.  Mine was as well with the exception of Sunday, which was spent chopping wood for my Grandma.  I fit the part of Paul Bunyan perfectly with my Movember Beard, I was only missing the plaid shirt.

A Big Congratulations to my good friend Dan Harding for completing the Philly Marathon Yesterday!  He finished in a time of 3 hours 27 minutes and 38 seconds (a P.R. from his first marathon), I must say that its a pretty respectable time.  I know from past experience (I ran the Philly Marathon last year), that training for it is no cakewalk.  It takes at least 6 months of dedication and preparation to be fully ready for the 26.2 mile death race.

For the first time in over 20 years Notre Dame is ranked #1 in the BCS standings (last time was in 1988) with only one game left in their season.  This is big for Notre Dame because since they are not part of a conference it is difficult for them to get a high ranking based on strength of schedule (and the dark wizards that control the BCS rankings, who also are in fact in love with Alabama).  I hope they do win the championship, they have worked hard this year and are a great team, and really do deserve to win this!

Thanksgiving week is upon us.  A time when we give thanks for all that we have and share it with the people we love (Untill we all go shopping the next day and trample everyone in sight).

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Also football….Lots and Lots of Football!!!

I guess I will start off with a few things that I know you are going to do:

  • Your going to stuff your face with a lot of food
  • You are going to drink….a lot! (most of you at least)
  • You will take a nap after dinner

You don’t have to let Thanksgiving completely tear apart your fitness/diet program.  One day of eating/drinking bad isn’t going to completely destroy your body.  Just don’t overdue it.  Fill your plate with turkey and veggies first, then if there is room left on the plate, add a little stuffing and/or potatoes.  Keep those starchy carbs  to a minimum and you will be okay.  

Basically don’t be like John Goodman (ala family guy):

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Pending the Weather (depending on where you live) go for a walk after dinner (but only during halftime of the football game).  It will help your body digest that massive mound of food you just ate.

Exercises I Love Doing and You Should Be Doing Too! – Single Arm Kettle Bell Overhead Presses

The Kettle Bell is an incredible tool that offers many benefits that the Dumbell does not offer.  But like I just said the Kettle Bell is One of Many tools to give you the best possible workout, and should be treated as such.

That being said Overhead Presses are one of my favorite upper body exercises.  This exercise should be done just as much (if not more often) as your Bench Press! (Yes I said it).  There is one catch though, ALL overhead presses should be done standing, NONE should be done sitting.  I would consider the seated shoulder press to be on the same level as benching in the Smith Machine.  It gives little or no benefit to the rest of your body and isolates the shoulders.  The truth of the matter is your body does not move in isolation in real life, your body moves as a unit and you should train it that way.  

Standing during the overhead press doesn’t just target the shoulders, think of all of the hip/core stability you need to posses to keep your body upright during the press.  

Now onto my variation (not really mine, just the one I like using):

The Kettle Bell starts in the rack position (see picture)

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Notice how he holds the kettle bell in the picture.  Keeping it close to his chest with his forearm vertical.  Another little trick is your hand/wrist position.  First notice that his wrist is perfectly straight (not flexed or extended) and that his hand placement is so that his fist is facing his opposite shoulder (approx.).

This perfectly balances the kettle bell, it might take some practice for you to get used to the position.  

Next up is the press, here just imagine that you are punching the sky.  Your hand will rotate externally as you press up so that your palm is facing away from you at full extension.  Also ensure that the kettle bell is straight over your head, not in front of your head.

As you can see I keep my arm tight and close to my body in the Rack Position.  Then proceed to “punch” the sky with the kettle bell.  Make sure you stabilize your hips to prevent any movement in your lower body and get the kettle bell straight up over your head.

This can also be done with 2 kettle bells, but does not offer the same stabilization that the single arm does.  It works the stabilizers a little differently.

 

Hope everyone has a good weekend!