Training Tip: From the Ground Up

Most things in life don’t allow the option of sitting or lying in a more comfortable position to do physical work.  Power is gathered from the ground up.  This means that any movement we do requires action through the entire body.  Sometimes this is as simple as performing exercises you might do seated while standing.  But what this really means is that when performing power exercises, movement should begin at the feet.  Many people make the mistake of performing upper body power exercises such as Med Ball Chest Passes with no lower body involvement.  Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  This is not only true for skill but for training as well.  Why perform and reinforce movements that don’t improve general athleticism or mimic movement we want to occur naturally?

 

Jaime Gamache M.Ed., CSCS, is Owner and Head Strength Coach at The Way Human Performance Institute.  Follow us also on Facebook and Twitter.   Any questions or requests for future topics, please email jgamache@thewayhpi.com

Training Tip: Just because you can, should you?

“Do No Harm.”

A quote from Martin Rooney, quoting the Hippocratic Oath.  As a strength coach my constant goal is to maintain the health and wellness of my clients above all else.  Like I’ve said from the very beginning, running faster, jumping higher, pushing more weight or dominating your activity of choice are all admirable pursuits of training, they are a side-effect, a happy coincidence.  When I make an athlete more stable, they become more efficient.  There are less energy leaks.  The goal of the training is the injury prevention, but with addition by subtraction they become faster by transferring more power into the ground and getting a greater return on every step.  The exercises are tiring and challenging but far from impossible.  The question of every workout is: “What is the goal?” That goal shouldn’t be: “To be tired.”

For myself, I can answer that, even if it not always apparent to my clients.  The ones who have been with me awhile get the process and see the results of that process.  Exercise selection is about creating specific change in the body, not just fatigue.  Accidents happen, we’ve had twisted ankles, a few pulled muscles, the usual aches and pains, but the majority of clients feel better when they walked out than when they walked in.  If you’re getting injured from working out (and we should all know the difference between being “hurt” and “Injured”), then you’re doing too much.  If working out is sending you to the doctor or physical therapist for reasons you can’t relate directly to an accident, then you need to re-evaluate your workout plan.  This is especially true if your life depends on being sharp and focused on the job.  You don’t have the luxury of a “recovery day”.  Being sore is part of working out, getting hurt is not.

Jaime Gamache M.Ed., CSCS, is Owner and Head Strength Coach at The Way Human Performance Institute.  Follow us also on Facebook and Twitter.   Any questions or requests for future topics, please email jgamache@thewayhpi.com

Training Tip: Take a Breath

You know what workout advice I give to my clients the most often?

“Breathe.”

It’s staggering just how many people fail to do something as simple and vital as breathing. But try to maintain your systematic breathing while holding weight or controlling motion is often more difficult than it sounds.

Here’s a test: Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Put one hand under the small of your back and the other on tip of your stomach. Tighten your abs like you’re about to get punched in the gut and press your back into the hand on the ground as hard as you can. Now Breath. Not down through your diaphragm, but up through your ribcage. Now try it without the hand under your back. How about with your legs flat on the ground?

The movement of locking your abs in position is called an abdominal brace. Whether you feel it or not, that is the very first thing that happens when you make any kind of movement. Any kind. Your core musculature locks in position and allows the transfer of power between the upper and lower body. If you can’t maintain your breathing in a simple fixed position, how do you expect to do it while concentrating on a dozen other pieces of a movement. Simple, you can’t. You have to practice expanding your ribcage and not just breathing down through your stomach as part of either your warmup or cooldown or simply when you’re lying in bed. Making it a habit will ease the stress on your body during workouts and most other activities.

Jaime Gamache M.Ed., CSCS, is Owner and Head Strength Coach at The Way Human Performance Institute.  Follow us also on Facebook and Twitter.   Any questions or requests for future topics, please email jgamache@thewayhpi.com

Training Tip: Return to Your Youth

Crawling is tough. It’s a primal movement that most of us haven’t had to do with any regularity for many years. However, the reason it’s our primary and initial means of locomotion is because it involves so many different muscle groups. It’s not just about the hips and legs, it trains the core to stabilize as well as build the strength of the shoulders and hands. It is a fundamental movement that is truly a total body exercise.
Returning to these movements can be done with the same variation and intensity as any other exercise. In fact, it is in the variation of this movement that it becomes effective. Bear Crawls, Army Crawls, Crab Walks, Dolley Walks and Lame Dogs (see the video) all teach the body to use all the musculature in coordination to generate movement helps to gain control and balance.

Jaime Gamache M.Ed., CSCS, is Owner and Head Strength Coach at The Way Human Performance Institute.  Follow us also on Facebook and Twitter.   Any questions or requests for future topics, please email jgamache@thewayhpi.com

Training Tip: Keep Your Feet Moving

Plyometrics is a buzzword and everybody seems to want to do them, but how many people really understand what it means?  Plyometrics involves the eccentric stretch and elastic contraction of muscle (most often the hamstrings, though plyos can be done with a variety of movements).  Muscle can eccentrically load 140% of it’s concentric strength.  This means that when the foot strikes the ground and the hips drop, the hamstrings snap back and generate power through the hips.

As a learning drill (by learning, I mean teaching the Central Nervous System (CNS) to respond faster and more efficiently) one should not perform high volumes of excessive movement and repetition.  This becomes counterproductive to speed development and becomes simply a conditioning drill.  Also, as coordination degrades, the likelihood of injury increases due to poor form or control.  Plyometric movement should always follow good form for running, jumping, or similar triple-extension movements.

Jaime Gamache M.Ed., CSCS, is Owner and Head Strength Coach at The Way Human Performance Institute.  Follow us also on Facebook and Twitter.   Any questions or requests for future topics, please email jgamache@thewayhpi.com