Sunday, January 16, 2011

Developing Explosive Hips

This is a slight variation on a fundamental ancillary lift - The Split Hang Clean Pull provides a stable platform to develop explosive hips along with a staggered stance to accelerate the transferability from training into the real world

The idea here is to show three separate videos and focus on a positive and also an area we'd like to improve upon.  As you can see there are multiple things during each rep that each athlete is doing well and not so well.  These are variations of movements that are Olympic sports - in other words... strive for perfection with the intension of achieving excellence.  My cues are based on what I think would be most vital to improving technique and the subsequent transferability to high performance for sport (in this case rugby).  So, don't get all miffed by trying to correct everything for every lift - pick one facet, just one small area you'd like to improve; and focus on one cue that can help you do it better.
I trust these short clips will help you cue yourself or athletes you train to get 1% better everyday!


Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ankle Health

Whether to prevent a sprain or perfect your ability to cut on a dime - use this series of exercises to optimize your ankles

This a very easy to follow corrective exercise protocol to keep your ankles healthy.  And with healthy ankles comes increased stability, mobility, and productivity.  Improve your lateral movement as well as your ground based strength and power.  Follow these simple exercises in order to get the most our of this key joint:
Check the video for more details:
1. Self Myofascial Release or what we at ZoneReady call Self Care:  Hit the outside part of your calf on each side for about 90seconds.
2. Active/Isolated Stretching of the outside of your calf.  Hold each rep for 2seconds and then release for 15reps on each side.
3. Ankle Js with your feet elevated.  Do both at the same time for 20 reps each - isolate the movement at the ankles, don't let the hips get involved.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Deadlift Anywhere

Sometimes you gotta grab onto something heavy and just pull - make sure your core is the strong link!

Nothing too detailed here, just a healthy reminder to:
a.) Create tremendous intra-abdominal pressure when you lift.  This is the appropriate breath hold in combo with the tightening of inner and outer unit musculature to create optimal torso rigidity.   In short: hold your lungs at 75% capacity, fight your abdominals out like a sneeze, and GO!  (Please make sure you get a yearly physical).  I teach this concept with all the teams and groups I work with and go into extreme detail during 1on1 sessions.  I apologize for cursing over it today - keep checking in and I'll continue to drop some nuggets as '11 rears on!
b.) Remember "functional training" is only that, if it empowers you to do something that you want to do.  Keep on with your deadlifts, cleans, thrusters, zercher squats, 1-arm alternating kettlebell split snatches, etc.  There is a time for focused skill and strength gains in one area and a time to expand your ability to harness generalized motor programs that keep you strong and athletic for the real world.  To truly master both - realize that all training is functional in the long run.  More on my thoughts on this in the future.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Clean Ancillary - Hang Clean from Mid-Thigh on Boxes

Create a more sudden 2nd pull by using plyo boxes as a starting point for your hang clean

Use the Hang Clean from Mid-Thigh on Boxes if you have the following issues:
1. Start bending your elbows prior to 2nd pull.
2. As you explode - your back extends before your hips, knees and ankles do.
3. Lacking optimal aggressiveness at GO time!

This lift is awesome for athletes who want to have explosive legs and hips and subsequently fast hands.  It's important not to rip the bar off the boxes.  Instead, let your hips and legs do the work by initiating and moving the bar as far/fast as possible.  Then, get lightening quick and get yourself underneath everything  to finish.

Beginners... use light weight and strive for near perfection in your posture. Be patient with your rack, get your hips to extend completely.  95-135lbs (40-60kg) of 3-4 sets for 5 reps is a winner.
Advanced... You'll probably start counting working sets around 65-75% of your clean max.  Use it like any other ancillary lift to increase bar speed and improve technique.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Increase Overhead Squat Performance

Increase your stability in the bottom position for your Snatch and Overhead Squat

Here's a little twist on a strength and conditioning stand-by: the Overhead Squat.  And by twist, I'm talking about ensuring the rock solid position necessary to lock-out, bottom-out, and finish your snatch or overhead squat.  Twisting, bending, wobbling, etc. are the enemy of any successful lift and a sure fire way for an athlete to get hurt or have little to no transferability from the gym to the arena.
Having a partner provide slight rotational force on a dowel while in the overhead squatting position is what we term as rhythmic stability.  This is about finding the "middle way" - the route that ensures balanced contraction from both sides and from all angles.  This simplified definition asks one thing from the athlete and one thing from the partner.

- Athlete must keep proper posture for the entire exercise.  Never sacrifice technique or structural integrity for achievement.
- Partner must only provide enough force to ensure that the athlete can be challenged and still maintain posture.
Both must work together - no job trumps the other; just accept that this is not a "tug-o'-war" - it's about teamwork.

Doing this exercise correctly yields multiple benefits:
1. Decreased stress on our skeletal system as well as on tendons, ligaments, and joints.  The muscles have to contract appropriately, especially those small stabilizer muscles that then allow the big muscles to move the big weight and apply explosive force into the ground.
2. Improved respiration while performing intra-abdominal contraction - this will improve transferability to real life.  The training for this exercise extends as your ability to perform it improves - endurance is the key.  Stop counting reps - improve performance by extending time under tension with excellent form.  This is priority for preventative maintenance exercises as they help our major lifts and improve functional strength and power.  By increasing the length of the set and breathing more efficiently you promote transferability to the real world where counting reps is obsolete and respiration is essential.
3. Improved compliance to high performance training... we need variety, altered demands, and interaction with our friends, teammates, etc.  The timing and force vectors for this exercise is always different/changing, and there is just something to be said about resisting and fighting against good ole fashioned man (or woman) power.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Clean Ancillary - Hang Clean Pull

Own your 2nd pull... and have a little extra pop in your hips for anything life throws at you

I can't get enough of triple extension... it is needed in nearly every sport and there are so many great ways to train it.  The Hang Clean Pull is just one of the many exercises we do with our athletes to bring out the animal in their glutes and high hammies.  I love the clean pull off the ground that USAW showcases... the ZR Hang Clean Pull version is easier to learn, more specific for sport specific lifting, and just as beneficial.
I cover a lot of details in the video, but here's a quick list of the benefits and the applications-->

1. Simplify the hip extension movement which is so valuable to moving big weight or doing big things in most sports.
2. Teach young athletes and reaffirm to ole salty vets the reason why we are doing cleans to begin with - technique + assertiveness = success.
3. Build confidence... you can rep out 125% plus of your clean max for this lift.

- Perform a set or two prior to doing clean for strength or power development - this will excite your nervous system and get you ready to rock.
- Hit a rep before each full clean or power clean rep - this is an "on-th-spot" self coaching tool, great to ensure your moving the bar with your hips before your arms.
- Hit 3-5 sets of 2-5 reps of big resistance (90-125% of your clean max) on days after you hang clean or on days you're only snatching.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Squatting Below Parallel

Get your squat grooved just right to reap the maximum benefits (and stay in one piece)

Two issues that every coach and athlete must face when it comes to the squat:
1. Maintaining posture throughout an entire squat, especially at the end range/bottom position.
2. Maintaining the necessary intra-abdominal pressure to keep the pelvis and trunk connected.

Losing either of these battles leads to a shortened career squatting, due to lack of performance and/or injury.  For this video, I really want to dial into grooving that ideal squatting motion or hip hinge.  All the while keeping the low back with an acceptable lordosis.  You'll find your spine staying healthier, your hamstrings and gluteals being utilized more (thanks for the feedback 2nd day DOMS), and an improved endurance for stabilizing your core.  My focus will be on addressing issue #1 for this blog, my application will be the air squat.

Dial in and get these 5 things done to improve your below parallel squat:
1. Claw the ground with your toes
2. Spread the earth without letting your feet move
3. Initiate the downward motion by pushing your hips back smoothly
4. Allow the knees to bend
5. Keep your bodyweight on your heels

- Aim your butt BACK & DOWN - use a box or a bench as a target and kiss it with your cheeks.
- Hold onto a stable structure while air squatting to put more stretch on the hamstrings and elicit more from your posterior chain.
- Increase your range just like you would increase your strength; gains are made over time with consistency and dedication.