W.O.D.

Let’s start it off right!

Let's start it off right!

Dynamic Warmup

Mobility and Strength Prep

 

Strength: 5-4-3-2-1

Back Squat

Shoulder Press

 

WOD:

4 Rounds for time:

15 Chest to Bar Pull-ups

15 Box Jumps

15 Wall Balls 20#/14#

15 KB front Squats (1 KB each arm) 70#/53#

 

Wodivore Blog Jan 14, 2012

How to Improve Wrist and Ankle Mobility

ankleMost people have enough wrist and ankle mobility to get around life all aright, but most people think they’re doing just fine with grainssweets, and seed oils comprising the bulk of their diets. We can always improve our abilities to rotate, extend, and flex our various joints. We must, if we’re interested in retaining maximum mobility through old age and beyond.

How does one go about obtaining that much-vaunted wrist and ankle mobility?

Wrists

Let’s first figure out the extent of your immobility. To test the wrists, explore a few situations and ask yourself some questions:

Do you wrists ache after long days at the office sitting behind a keyboard? You may have poor wrist mobility, and it’s probably exacerbated by your sitting/typing/working conditions and wrist position.

When catching barbells in the rack position, or doing front squats, barbell thrusters, and handstand pushups, do your wrists hurt? Again, you probably have poor wrist mobility.

As opposed to the other major joints, there’s no easy way to objectively test wrist mobility without equipment or a trained eye. It’s very subjective. If your wrists are bothering you, if they’re proving to be a constant, noticeable impediment to your enjoyment of an active life, that’s usually enough to self-diagnose poor wrist mobility and initiate the following drills.

Wrist Rotations

This one’s pretty simple. Lace your fingers together and, using plenty of push-pull oppositional strength, put your wrists through every possible range of motion. Rotation, flexion, extension, adduction, abduction – just make sure you’re fully extending and fully flexing and fully rotating. If you’re working at the computer with stationary wrists for hours upon hours, it’s a good idea to work the wrist rotations every few hours. Be sure to hold the extreme positions for a few seconds to get some static stretches going.

Prayers

Stand up and place your hands together in front of you, as if in prayer. Maintaining contact between your hands, lower them. Go as far as you can. The longer you can keep your hands together, the better you’ll stretch the wrists. At the bottom, reverse things so that your fingers point downward and your hands remain together. Come back up.

Nail the Rack Position

Practice racking barbells, especially if this gives you trouble. A lot of times people complain about wrist pain because they’re trying to support the weight with these relatively puny wrists. Look at them – they’re tiny. They aren’t meant to support a couple hundred pounds of barbell. Racking a weight isn’t about using your wrists to lift the weight; it’s about using wrist mobility to keep the barbell atop your shoulders. Your shoulders/frame are supporting the barbell, and the wrists merely keep it in place. Stiff wrists will make it seem like you’re supporting the weight with them, while mobile wrists will have no issue in the rack position.

Typing

Make sure your workstation set-up allows a neutral wrist position when typing. If it does not, don’t rest until it does. A standing workstation might be in order.

 

Ankles

Next, let’s test your ankles. Luckily, it’s really easy to establish whether ankle mobility is a problem. Perform a full squat with proper form: sit back into your hips, maintain an arch in your lumbar spine, and go below parallel. If you can go into a full, deep squat while fulfilling the aforementioned requirements and keeping your heels on the ground, you have adequate ankle mobility. You may (actually, probably) still be able to improve, but at least you’re not completely tight down there.

If the only way to reach full squat depth while maintaining a tight lumbar curve is to raise your heels and rest on your toes, you have very poor ankle mobility.

For another illustration, refer back to my “How to Squat” post from last year and check out the “Asian Squat” vid at the end. The classic Asian/third world/Grok/indigenous people’s squat (whatever you want to call it) is the resting position of choice for billions because it’s sustainable and it’s sustainable because it maintains contact between the heel and the ground. With the heel down, the weight is evenly distributed; with the heel up, the weight bears down almost entirely on the anterior portion of your knee. Try resting on your toes for twenty minutes and see how you feel, let alone trying to toe squat with serious weight involved. It’s a bad idea all around.

Another sign of ankle immobility is pain or pressure in your feet, right where it meets your ankle, when dorsiflexing. It’ll feel like you’re pinching something in your foot right along the section covered by this woman’s ring finger, when you should be feeling your calves stretch.

Wall Dorsiflexion (Video)

Stand a few inches away from a wall and place one foot behind you. Bend the lead leg, trying to touch the wall with your knee by dorsiflexing your ankle. Don’t pause at the wall; bring it right back, because this is a mobility drill. Do five touches with each ankle, then move back an inch or two and repeat the process. Go as far back as you can while keeping your heels on the ground. Keep the weight on your heels and don’t push with your toes.

Wall Dorsiflexion with Tennis Ball Work (Video)

Perform the wall dorsiflexion as usual, only this time use a tennis, lacrosse, or baseball to work your calf. Each time you dorsiflex, roll your calf, starting right below the calf muscle and working up toward the back of your knee. Go easy at first. This should break up the tension and relieve that pressure on the tops of your feet (if you had it).

Foot Rolling

Fascia, the layer of fibrous connective tissue in the body, is continuous and uninterrupted. Tight fascia in the feet, then, is connected to and has an effect on tightness in the ankles and calf. Take the same tennis ball and roll the bottom of your foot along it, working the fascia. If it hurts, you’re probably tight, and that tightness could be carrying over to your ankle mobility.

Raised Dorsiflexion (Video)

Stand with your toes on a raised (several inches) platform. This should force you into a dorsiflexed position. Now, dorsiflex some more, using both ankles at once. For added fun, do the raised dorsiflexion on a pair of tennis balls.

Beginner’s Ankle Joint Mobility Medley (Video)

Dorsiflexion is a common problem for people, but there’s more to ankle mobility than just a single range of motion. Frequent commenter John Sifferman’s short and to the point video treatment of ankle mobility is perfect for anyone interested in all-around ankle mobility.

Once you’ve got pretty good mobility, practice! Do plenty of squats, making sure to hit parallel with good form. Throw a bit of weight on there if you’re feeling up to it. Play sports, like Ultimate Frisbee, that test your ability to change direction and subject your ankles to the full range of motion. Go on hikes, and don’t shy away from the hilly parts. If you’re having a mellow day, at the very least keep your ankles active by doing some passive rotations. That’s why moving around at a slow pace almost every day is so important – it keeps your joints lubricated and it maintains your sense of how to move and use your body. We don’t have to move around if we don’t want – we could order takeout, have our groceries delivered, and hire help to clean, cook, and do yard work – but our genes expect us to constantly be on the move. That doesn’t necessarily require hours and hours of grueling work in the gym or on the track, but it does mean we have to move our limbs daily.

Hopefully these ankle and wrist mobility drills will help you move fluidly and pleasurably.

 

 

 

Open 12.2

Open 12.2

Dynamic Warmup

Burgener Warmup

Strength: High Box Jump

We will also work our technique for the kipping pullup.

 

WOD: Open 12.2

 

MEN – includes Masters Men up to 54 years old

Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
135 pound Snatch, 30 reps
165 pound Snatch, 30 reps
210 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

 

WOMEN – includes Masters Women up to 54 years old

Proceed through the sequence below completing as many reps as possible in 10 minutes of:
45 pound Snatch, 30 reps
75 pound Snatch, 30 reps
100 pound Snatch, 30 reps
120 pound Snatch, as many reps as possible

http://youtu.be/boRe82OwxU4

 

Wodivore Blog Dec 12, 2013

Filling in the Gaps: How to Incorporate Joint Mobility Drills

puzzleBy now, I hope the importance of joint mobility is clear, and the benefits myriad. It isn’t the sexiest topic around to be sure. “The Importance of Shoulder Mobility” certainly isn’t as attention-grabbing as “How to Lose 10 lbs in 10 days!,” but it’s one of those often overlooked aspects of fitness that with just a little attention could save you years of pain, frustration, rehab and maybe even surgery – not to mention a boatload of cash in doctor bills. Incorporating just a few minutes of mobility drills a few times each week is a great way to round out an otherwise complete routine. If you’ve missed any of the articles I’ve written over the last few weeks you can catch up here:

 

 

By engaging every joint in your body the correct way you drastically decrease your chance of injury. With full joint mobility, there is very little of the “out of position” awkwardness that’s at the heart of many injuries. Too often, injuries occur because we make sudden movements along incorrect joints – twisting with the lumbar spine instead of the thoracic spine, for example – due to lack of joint mobility.

It increases the efficiency of your movement. Learning how to move your joints along their predetermined pathways means smooth, clean, unimpeded movement. When you pick up something heavy with your hips instead of your lower back, your only impediment is the weight itself; there are no structural deficiencies getting in your way and making it even harder and the risk of injury even higher. You still have to work against the load, but your efficiency is no longer hamstrung by the use of the wrong joints in the wrong places.

It increases your performance. Understanding the proper role of each joint and muscle group – and how to engage and activate them in your movements – results in massive performance gains. Your bench press will soar once you grasp the importance of the shoulder blade retraction; your vertical leap will jump once you learn to start extending your hips. And besides, you can’t expect to perform on any level if you’re sidelined with a mobility-related injury or if your movements are grossly inefficient.

It will increase your range of motion – your active flexibility. Static flexibility has its place, but for an athlete (or anyone moderately active, really), mobility is far more important. It’s similar to the question of isolation exercises versus compound exercises. Which are more applicable to the real world? Which more effectively mimic the movements you’ll make in your daily life? Static stretches are a bit like isolation exercises, while mobility prepares you for the rigors of real movement.

Application

If you failed, or came close to failing, the joint mobility tests mentioned in my previous posts, plan on incorporating joint mobility drills into your daily schedule. Off-days, on-days, sick days, vacation – no matter what you’re doing or whom you’re doing it with, make sure you perform a targeted joint mobility session every single day. Mobility must come before everything else. It must precede strength, sports, and even just protracted sessions of sitting. It’s the foundation. Mobility prepares you for life, and unless you plan on leading a completely sedentary existence (complete with sedan chair manned by indentured servants), you’re going to be moving throughout it. On consecutive days, do the drills I mentioned for each particular joint, or complete the suggested programs listed in each article. So, Monday will be hips, Tuesday thoracic spine, and so on. Repeat the cycle once you reach the end. Follow this schedule until you’re mobile or until you can complete the tests easily and move around without stiffness. Then, pick just one or two movements for each joint and incorporate them into your workout warm-ups. They should be quick and easy, but with focus on proper form. This should be enough to maintain mobility.

If you’re an athlete with good “subconscious” mobility, but who’s never really given thought to the issue, work the drills into your warm-ups. Natural, raw athleticism can appear to overcome any mobility deficiencies, but that only works for a while. It may even work for years. Eventually, though, lack of mobility will creep up on you. And when it does, when it finally manifests in the natural athlete, the results will be staggering. New, mysterious pains, long in the making, will appear, seemingly out of the blue. You most likely won’t be struck by an acute injury, but rather by wear and tear from years of improper movement obscured by natural talent. It’s better to address the potential problem before it appears. Do two weeks of intensive joint mobility drills, following the movements outlined in the articles, and then draw it down to warm-ups only. Choose one or two movements for each joint in your warm-up, paying attention to the composition of your impending workout to determine focus. Squat and deadlift days get hip mobility, while pressing days get thoracic spine and shoulder drills, and so on. The initial “shock” of full-on mobility training should cement the pathways in your brain and get the neurons firing, while the warm-up drills will maintain them. Never be content to rest on the laurels provided by natural athleticism.

Don’t get lazy. It’s easy to say “Oh, I’ll skip the mobility drill today,” but don’t do it. If it’s easy to skip, it’s just as easy to take a few minutes out of your life to actually do the drill and reduce your chances of injury. Inconsequentiality goes both ways; what’s easy to shrug off and dismiss is just as easy to address and commit to. Do the drills.

Finally, be mindful of your movements. Picking up a coin off the ground? Use your hips. Twisting to see someone calling your name on the street? Rotate along the thoracic spine. In these situations, you could just lapse into the old, lazy ways and get away with it, but you’d be reinforcing incorrect movement for the times when it really matters. What you do in your daily life will set the tone for the rest of your life. Lazy, incorrect joint movements outside of the weight room or athletic field will establish lazy, incorrect joint movements in the weight room and on the field.

Proper joint movements may feel strange. For a lot of people, mobility training forces their bodies to move in totally new, seemingly unnatural ways. We’ve been moving and sitting and standing so awkwardly and so incorrectly for so many years that natural movement patterns seem unnatural. It’s insane, really, how far we’ve gotten from our natures. Diet gets the brunt of the attention around here, but straying from the body’s natural joint movement pathways has powerful consequences, too.


 

 

 

 

Keep going!

Keep going!

Dynamic Warmup

Strength: Work your way up to a 1 rep max for 1 arm thruster using landmine. Each arm!

Practice shovel toss w/ lightweight

 

WOD:

30-20-10

Thrusters 95#/65

Burpees

 

Wodivore Blog Jan 11, 2013

How to Regain and Maintain Hip Mobility

xrayhip Athletes will get faster, stronger, and more powerful. Lifters will be able to lift more weight and squat heavier without rounding the lower back. Regular folks will spare their lower back from the stress of chronic sitting and bending over to pick things up. Extensive hip mobility will improve your love life (seriously, think about it – hip thrust, range of motion!), your deadlift, your Grok squat, and your posture. If you own a set of hips, the ability to traverse their full range of motion will improve your life in many ways. They are the fulcrum upon which most activity depends. Treat them well, keep them well lubed and tuned up, and you will reap the benefits and reduce your chance of injury. That much is pretty clear by now.

So, how do you do it? How do you get hip mobility, and how do you maintain it?

 

Before you launch into a series of drills and exercises, it’s important to understand exactly what I mean by hip mobility. I briefly went over it yesterday, but here’s a short exercise you can do right now to get the feeling for your hips.

Stand up (or remain standing if you’ve taken my advice to heart and set up a standup workstation).

Pick an object on the ground, or place one there. A shoe, a hat, a piece of paper, anything will work.

Now, pick up the object. But wait – don’t squat down to pick it up, and don’t just bend over at the waist. Erase the word “bend” from your vocabulary. You aren’t bending; you’re reaching back with your hips.

Stick your butt backwards, as if you were reaching for a stool to sit down. All the while, maintain a tight lumbar spine. Keep your back straight, in other words. Don’t round your back. Keep your legs nearly straight, too, just enough to unlock your knees.

Stick your hips back until you can grab the object. Grab it, then come back up by reversing the hip motion. Thrust your hips forward, as if you were performing a NSFW activity, Um, yeah. Thrust your hips forward by pulling against the ground with your heels. Squeeze your glutes for good measure, too. Feel that pull in your hamstrings and glute muscles as you draw power from your heels planted firmly against the ground?

That’s how you use your hips, and half the battle is won. Simply visualizing this usage of your hips will get you pretty far and improve your hip mobility (because now you know what using your hips feels like), but you can go even further. You can’t have too much hip mobility.

Soft Tissue Work

Next, get your hands on a foam roller and a tennis ball, baseball, golf ball, or a lacrosse ball. You’re going to do some soft tissue work to loosen up the muscles that are keeping your hips tight. Unless you’ve got a live in masseuse, these are essential items for any active person anyway, and they’re cheap, so there’s no excuse not to have them. Do these after a workout, in the morning, or, if you’re super tight and in a ton of pain, every day.

Foam Roll Your IT Band (VIDEO)

Tight hips often correlate with tight iliotibial bands, those infamous strips of connective tissue that run along the outside of our upper thighs. Start at your hip and roll down to just above your knee, pausing on any painful spots. Try slightly different angles to hit different aspects of the band. Fifteen rolls per leg.

Foam Roll Your Hip Adductors (Inner Thighs) (VIDEO)

You’ll sort of have to straddle the end of the roller to get your legs in position. It may look a bit obscene, but that’s okay. Fifteen rolls per leg.

Foam Roll Your Hamstring

If you desire a bit more pressure, do one leg at a time while keeping the off leg in the air.

Piriformis Myofascial Release (VIDEO)

Follow the directions in the video. Targeting the piriformis can be tricky, and this is the most reliable method I’ve found.

(Note: this isn’t really hip mobility, but it’s related, and I recall a commenter asking for help with piriformis pain. Try this. )

Otherwise, just generally foam roll the entire area – quads, hamstrings – and look for really tight spots which you can target with the ball.

Mobility Drills

These are classic mobility drills, essentially designed to explore the full range of motion in the hips. When you’re working these drills, think about starting out small. Instead of big circles right away, make controlled circles. Just make sure you’re actively using your hips in a controlled manner.

Front-Back Leg Swings (VIDEO)

Keeping your leg straight, hold on to a stable surface and swing your leg from front to back. Generate the power from your hips – from where the leg meets the hip socket – rather than from your thighs. To ensure hip engagement, keep your lumbar spine tight and still. If you find your lower back moving with each swing, swing a little shorter. Fifteen each leg.

Side to Side Leg Swings (VIDEO)

Similar to front-back leg swings, only performed from side to side. The urge to rotate your torso will be even greater with these, so be firm and lead with the hips, not the pelvis. Fifteen each leg.

Squat Stands (VIDEO)

Take a rather wide stance, touch your toes while keeping your legs straight, drop into a low squat position (elbows on the inside of your knees, knees shoved out and tracking over your toes) with a strong lumbar curve, throw your hands overhead, and come up. Make sure you maintain that lumbar curve and never round your back, because a rounded back means tension is taken off your hips. Repeat ten times.

Fire Hydrants (VIDEO).

On your hands and knees, make big (big – the video doesn’t really convey the range of motion) circles in the air with your knee by rotating at the hip. Do ten in each direction for each leg. These can be performed while walking upright (VIDEO), walking backward, (VIDEO) and briskly in reverse (VIDEO).

Reverse Lunge with Twist (VIDEO)

Take a big step backward (as far as you can). Drop to one knee and rotate your torso to the opposite side. Ten, each leg.

 

Mountain Climbers

Instead of going quickly and turning it into a workout, try to get your feet flat-footed on the ground, outside of your hands – and hold that position for a second or two before switching feet. Really feel the stretch. Make sure you maintain torso and hip position; don’t go flailing around with your whole body. See the third exercise in this video for an example (also shows fire hydrants, as well as some other great hip mobility stuff). Do ten of these for each leg.

Hip Thrusts

Sit on the ground, with your upper back resting on a bench, your feet on the floor and your knees up. Plant your feet firmly and thrust your hips forward by squeezing your glutes, creating a sort of bridge with your torso. Kinda like this, only without the absurd amount of weight. Light to no weight is also effective.

Hip mobility is nothing new. Trainers are increasingly aware of its importance, and there are some fantastic programs out there. Joe DeFranco’s “Agile Eight” hip mobility warm-up is a notable – and extremely effective – example. Consisting of eight basic drills, the Agile Eight hits all the basics of hip mobility. It’s perfect for maintenance, and it’s designed for daily use by experienced to semi-experienced athletes (or weekend warriors). It takes about seven or eight minutes to complete, perfect for the guy or gal who wants to stay mobile without turning it into a workout in and of itself. StrongLifts has another great dynamic stretch system for hip mobility that’s worth checking out.

Exercises and Activities That Support (and Require) Hip Mobility

Once you’re comfortable with your level of hip engagement, try some of these exercises. You’ll be amazed at how crucial the hips are in pretty much everything.

But first a word of warning: Some of these are advanced moves. If you don’t execute these with proper form you are putting yourself at risk of injury. My advice is to start light, use a coach for guidance and remember that this is more about form than it is about weight.

Deadlifts (VIDEO)

You know, that exercise in which you move more weight than any other exercise? That’s all hip extension, the most basic, powerful manifestation of strength we have at our disposal.

Box Jumps (VIDEO)

A bench will work, or even just a basic vertical leap to see how high you can touch on the wall. Only this time, pay close attention to your hips when you jump. What do you notice about jumping? It’s just an explosive hip extension! Steps and stairs are great for beginners.

Sprinting or running? Each stride is a single-legged hip extension. Try skip-sprinting (VIDEO), only explode with mini hip extensions on each step.

Kettlebell Swings (VIDEO)

Hip snap/extension.

Throwing a Punch (VIDEO)

Plant your foot, generate power and throw your body into it with a hip rotation.

My favorite way to engage the hips and nail the hip extension has always been the Romanian deadlift (VIDEO). After leaving the endurance world, the RDL was my breakthrough hip engagement exercise. It was eye-opening, because it let me know just how stiff and tight my hips were after decades of running with a limited range of motion (the marathoner’s plod). If you’re tight back there, it’ll do the same for you. It’s easier than the classic deadlift for newbies to grasp, and you use lower weights, making it fairly safe. And because it’s a mostly straight-legged move, it’s pure hip extension, whereas the classic deadlift is also about knee extension. The RDL is basically the drill mentioned above, only holding a barbell. Reach back with the hips, maintain lumbar curve/straight back, keep your legs barely unlocked, and lower the bar just past the knees. Come back up by extending/thrusting the hips forward, pulling your heels against the floor, and making sure to maintain skin-bar contact. You can go even lower with the bar as long as you maintain your lumbar curve. That’s the purest, simplest test of hip mobility. Most people off the street, if they can even grasp the nuance between hip extension and lower back extension, won’t be able to lower the bar lower than the knees unless they lose the straight legs and opt for bended knees. You know why? They suffer from tight hips that have never been used correctly.

Picking a Program

 

The good news is that there are many paths to fixing hip mobility. There are hundreds of drills, exercises, and stretches – both static and dynamic – that will help.

The bad news is that there are many paths to fixing hip mobility, almost too many. Faced with an array of choices, some people freeze up. If that’s you, fear not. I’m not an expert on mobility, but I’ve been there and I have an idea or two about what works best. I’ve suffered from limited hip mobility in the past and I learned how to rectify that unfortunate state. Here’s hoping you’re able to do the same.

If you’re incredibly tight, spend a week or two fixing the problem. Try all the drills, do all the soft tissue work, and once you’re confident in your ability to mobilize the hips, give the Romanian deadlifts a shot. If you just need to maintain mobility, pick three or four of the drills and do them as a warm-up along with the soft tissue work post workout three or four times a week. Once you’re aware of how important hip mobility is, you’ll never slack off again.


 

 

Thursday

Thursday

Group warmup and stretch

Strength: 5×5 of Bench and pullups

Pullups are done immediately after bench sets.

 

WOD:

21-15-9
Deadlifts (315#/215#)
Box Jumps (30″/24″)

 

Wodivore Blog Dec 10, 2013

The Importance of Wrist and Ankle Mobility

barefoot 1How mobile are your wrists and ankles? They’re the primary hinges for our two major sets of extremities – hands and feet – and yet they often go neglected. They’re two of the most common sites of debilitating pain and acute injury, and yet people do little else to correct the problem than tightening the high tops, strapping on some constrictive sleeves, or avoiding activity altogether. All those “solutions” miss the point entirely, in my opinion. Rather than fix the root issue, they skirt it and apply expensive band aids. If you know anything about how I approach other issues of health and wellness, you can guess that I’m not satisfied with the band aid approach to wrist and ankle mobility. We can do a whole lot better than that.

 

Wrists

The importance of wrist mobility is pretty self-evident – the things are literally built for flexion, extension, adduction, and abduction. Imagine how utterly useless our ability to grasp and grab things would be without a properly greased wrist hinge. It’d be like amputating your forearms and replacing them with those grabby arm things. Who wants that? They’re good for picking up trash, or maybe goosing buxom waitresses if you’re a dirty old man (or lustful robot with an eye for sentient beings), but for living, breathing humans interested in performing a wide range of activities that require active, mobile wrists, they won’t cut it. You need adequate wrist mobility, whether you work a keyboard for a living (carpal tunnel syndrome), catch barbells in the rack position, throw projectiles, cradle infants or small animals, examine books and magazines in book stores, use coffee mugs with handles, play darts professionally or recreationally, regularly direct others to “talk to the hand,” drink cocktails with a raised pinky, wave goodbye (especially if you employ the “royal wave”), play Ultimate Frisbee, or shoot hoops (with good follow through). If you plan on giving awesome high fives or becoming a dominant arm wrestler, you absolutely need mobile wrists.

Seriously, though, adequate wrist mobility is important for everyday life and intense exercise alike.

Ankles

Most people have fairly mobile wrists because almost everyone uses their wrists on a regular basis. They can usually use some extra mobility, especially when engaged in intensive exercise, but they can get along fine in normal, everyday mundane life. Ankles are different. Whether from disuse or misuse, most people suffer from poor ankle mobility, which typically manifests as a lack of dorsiflexion. In case you aren’t aware, dorsiflexion refers to movement that decreases the angle between the top of the foot and the shin; plantarflexion is movement that increases the angle. Plantarflexion is generally not an issue for most people, but lack of dorsiflexion is common, especially among shoe-wearers. Wearing shoes with raised heels forces plantarflexion and reduces the dorsiflexion requirements, and habitual shoe-wearers might find their natural dorsiflexion lacking in bare feet or minimal footwear. When the ankles are stiff, the knees overcompensate. Something’s got to bend, after all, and if you can’t mobilize your ankles, the stress of motion will simply move onto the next possible joint – just like tight hips can lead to lower back (and knee, for that matter) pain.

Poor dorsiflexion reduces the ability to squat at or below parallel, whether you’re just resting on your haunches in a Grok squat or squatting with some weight on your back. Oftentimes, people with tight ankles are unable to break parallel without shifting the weight to the toes and raising their heels. Raising the heel and keeping the toes on the ground to achieve dorsiflexion place massive shearing stress on the anterior portion of your knee, while keeping your heels on the ground distributes stress evenly, as it should be. Ideally, you should be able to squat deep while keeping your toes off the ground. (Don’t make that a habit, especially with a significant amount of weight. Just use it to check ankle mobility.) Either way, the more dorsiflexion you’re able to achieve, the lower you’ll be able to squat and avoid shearing stress on your knees. Power lifters will often wear weight-lifting shoes with elevated heels specifically designed to increase squat depth, but they’re hitting loads most recreational lifters will never reach. For the average active individual, relying on weight-lifting shoes (or any shoe, really) to make up for poor ankle dorsiflexion will only compound the problem.

Reduced ankle mobility also reduces your ability to engage the posterior chain. If you’re squatting with poor dorsiflexion, with most of the weight resting on your toes, the movement is going to be all quads, with minimal glute and hamstring action. This is arguably “good” for bodybuilders looking for massive quads, but bad for anyone else interested in overall strength, joint health, muscular balance, and general fitness functionality. Athletes need to be able to produce the most power in the safest, most efficient way possible, and that can really only be done by pushing off with the heel and engaging the hamstrings and glutes – and those things simply don’t happen without adequate ankle mobility and good dorsiflexion.

If you can’t achieve good dorsiflexion via the ankles, your body will get it from someplace else, and that means knee, hip, and even lower back overcompensations. Injuries will mount, too, probably in that order. Your knees undergo anterior stress, your hips will strain, and your lumbar spine will round.

Poor dorsiflexion negatively affects your ability to generate power while sprinting, too. When sprinting, you should land with a dorsiflexed ankle ready to immediately push off, as Michael Stember mentioned in his PrimalCon lecture. That way there’s no downtime, no need to go from plantarflexion to dorsiflexion. Reducing “time on ground” increases speed and energy efficiency while minimizing the chance of injury.

It’s clear that both wrist and ankle mobility are important for proper function in sport and everyday life. If either is compromised, especially the ankles, the rest of your joints will make up the difference. In a survival situation, this makes sense. It’ll keep you alive in the short-term. In the long term, though, regularly performing movements with the wrong joints will catch up with you. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss a few simple ways to improve wrist and ankle mobility so that you can take care of any issues you have before they become serious problems with lifelong reverberations.

 

The time is now!

The time is now!

Advanced warmup:

4 rds 

250m row

10 Box Jumps 

10 lateral shuffles

Then, advanced buddy assisted stretching, foam roll, lacrosse ball deep tissue work.

 

Strength: Work up to 2 rep max for full hang clean and also full clean. (full squat)

Things to remember; speed under the barbell, shoot those elbows through violently, chest up and knees out in that front squat, drive up with a purpose. Let’s go, come on!

 

WOD: Benhmark WOD “Grace”

30 Clean and Jerks for time

Men: 135#, Women:95#

 

Wodivore Blog Dec 9, 2012

The Importance of Thoracic Spine Mobility

spine 1Do your shoulders slump and round when you walk, sit, or stand?

Do you have trouble keeping your chest up when squatting under a bar or lifting heavy things off the ground?

Do you get lower back or neck pain when doing twisting or rotational movements?

Have you resigned yourself to living with that nagging rotator cuff pain that flares up during workouts and in bed?

If you answered “yes” to any of those (and most people will answer yes to at least one), you may have poor thoracic spine mobility. Even if you don’t notice any of the symptoms leaping out at you, it never hurts to get more mobility, especially in the thoracic spine. And establishing good habits by actively maintaining and training mobility, as opposed to being content with what you have (even if it’s not optimum), is always a good move. Scoff at the prospect of thoracic spine mobility all you want; you still gotta have it.

 

You can read a ton about it nowadays on the better fitness blogs and forums, but mainstream thoracic spine awareness is fairly recent. It used to be the sole province of specialized physical therapists and chiropractors (and even they failed to emphasize mobility), and the general citizenry have lived their lives without even considering the nuances of the various spinal vertebrae. They know “lower back” (because it probably hurts on a regular basis!) and they know “spine,” and that’s it. They’re bending with their lower backs, misusing their lumbar spines, while their thoracic spines curve from misuse. As a result, a nation of chronic shoulder slumpers has developed, and when those slumpers attempt to lift heavy things, pick up groceries, and throw footballs with their immobile, underutilized thoracic spines, bigger, acute injuries arise.

After the hips, thoracic spine mobility is probably the most crucial aspect of mobility. At least with the hips, though, people can identify them and grasp the concept of hip mobility just by reading text on the computer. Sticking your hips back is pretty self-explanatory. What about the thoracic spine? It’s a bit more nebulous.

Do you know how to use your thoracic spine? Are you even aware that it exists?

Honestly, I doubt it. It’s not that people ignore the thoracic spine willfully; it’s that they’re unaware of any distinctions between spinal and lumbar vertebrae. They know about the spine, and imagine it to be a uniform vertebral column, equally capable of bending, twisting, and rotating along its length. This is totally understandable. “Spine” is what we hear, not “thoracic spine” or “lumbar spine” or “cervical spine,” but it’s much more than that. People simply don’t know any differently. And if you do hear about the thoracic spine from an “expert,” they’re liable to tell you the thoracic spine is meant to be immobile. Yeah, I don’t get it either. Maybe they’re just so used to working with folks who have immobile thoracic spines that they can’t even imagine a mobile one.

385px Spinal column curvatureWe have to know what we’re talking about when we use words, or else they’re useless or dangerous. Words describing anatomy, anatomy that figures prominently into dynamic human movement pattern, require special care. The human spinal column is composed of five segments: the cervical spine, which extends up the neck to the base of the skull; the thoracic spine, which encompasses the shoulder and chest area; the lumbar spine, also known as the lower back; the sacrum; and, finally, the coccyx, or tail bone (the last two of which are lumped together as “Pelvic” in the graphic to the right). The various vertebrae weren’t given different names for fun. Each performs a different role. Each has different capabilities, different functions. Most importantly, each segment of the spine is designed for a certain range of motion. We’re mostly concerned with the lumbar and thoracic spine.

The thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion, and extension. It is highly mobile – or, rather, it has the potential for lots of mobility. Because of its mobility, the thoracic spine must be used, must be moved. But it has to be known. If people are unable to visualize and feel the movement of the thoracic spine, or if they’re unable to even grasp the concept of its existence, they’ll just attempt to twist, rotate, flex, and bend with something familiar to them: the lumbar spine. That’s bad news.

The lumbar spine is built for stability. It’s supposed to support the weight of the body (plus any added weights) and resist excessive rotation and twisting. It remains stable and acts as a conduit for power generated by the hips and fed to the mobile thoracic spine. It is not meant to twist and bend and do all sorts of the acts that active, thoracically-immobile folks expect it to. It can move, obviously, but it’s not meant to be wildly mobile. It’s meant to be solid, reliable.

Popular fitness trends have gotten people obsessed with “working the core.” I have no qualms with the idea of “working the core,” but people tend to fixate solely on two aspects of the core. Isolate the abs and the lower back. Crunches and weighted lower back extensions. The “core” is much more than a six pack and some lower back musculature. It’s the hips, it’s the lumbar spine, it’s the abs, and it’s the thoracic spine.

The real danger in thoracic spinal immobility lies in its seeming innocuousness. Because thoracic spine immobility is so commonplace, people don’t notice that anything is wrong. Nearly everyone slumps when they sit, and very few people perform the type of exercises that require full range of motion in the spine. You can get away with poor mobility if all you’re doing is isolation exercises on machines, just as millions of people “get away with” the SAD. How many times have you told people who balk at your eating habits to just “try it for thirty days and see how you feel”? If you’re (they’re) lucky, they’ll ditch the sugar and the grains and notice an incredible difference. But you’ll never know the difference until you give the other side a fair shot. You’ll never know how beneficial a mobile thoracic spine can be without developing its mobility. C’mon – you trusted me on grains, sugars, and vegetable oils, didn’t you?

You’ll find that an immobile thoracic spine isn’t just bad for the vertebrae themselves. It’s bad for your lower back and your shoulders, too. In fact, you’ll rarely feel actual pain along the twelve vertebrae that comprise your thoracic spine. Instead, your lower back will take over work for which it’s really not designed, getting chronic pain for its troubles, and your scapula (shoulder blades) will compensate by moving away from the spine, making overhead shoulder work difficult, dangerous, and painful, and a rotator cuff injury nearly inevitable. Everything in the body is linked, remember, and you can’t remove a major player from the equation without seriously affecting the balance.

The Benefits

With improved thoracic mobility, you’ll enjoy:

Lack of kyphosis – The bowing of the upper back, endemic in offices across the country, is almost entirely due to poor thoracic mobility. Improve your mobility, try to cut back on all the sitting, and your posture will improve and your pain will go away.

A less painful, more stable lower back – Your lumbar spine will be free to provide stability, rather than make up for your lack of mobility.

More lung volume – Improving mobility and reducing kyphosis actually increases lung capacity.

Healthier shoulders – No longer will a rounded upper back prevent natural scapular action during overhead movements, thus reducing the chance of rotator cuff impingement. For a fun (scary) test, exaggerate the round in your upper back; create a real hump, then try to press your arms overhead. You don’t want that to be your regular state, do you?

Greater range of motion – By finally engaging your thoracic spine in times of spinal rotation, flexion, and extension (like throwing a ball or a punch), instead of your lumbar spine, you will get stronger, faster, and more explosive in those movements.

I was lucky enough to be able to consult an expert on the spine for this and tomorrow’s article. Maya White has some tips that you should keep in mind about thoracic mobility from the Gokhale Method perspective:

Dos and Don’ts Around Thoracic Mobility

Do use thoracic mobility to:
a. Lengthen and straighten your thoracic spine
b. Breathe more deeply (longer, more relaxed muscles in the spine allow for more movement with the breath)
c. Enable your shoulders to roll further back without swaying the low back

Don’t use thoracic mobility to:
a. Hunch your thoracic spine
b. Hyper-extend your thoracic ligaments creating laxity in the ligaments and hyper-mobility in the thoracic spine. (The ligaments are not very elastic tissue, and continually overstretching them can lead to progressively more and more rounding – this is why is is not uncommon to see people in their 80s or 90s who have almost U-turns in the backs)

In sum, it is important to develop thoracic mobility in a precise way that allows healthy spinal architecture and movement and not in a wanton way that threatens your skeletal integrity or scaffolding. Loosening up the thoracic spine and then using that extra mobility to round or distort the spine further while sitting or standing is in some ways worse than being inflexible. It is therefore crucial to be conscious of posture as well, so that your whole spine is well-aligned throughout your day, and any extra mobility you create in your thoracic spine works to your advantage and towards making you straighter and taller.

Dominate!

Dominate!

Dynamic Warmup

High Knees, Skip Jumps, Lateral Jumps, Inch Worms, Push Ups, Situps

20 of each

 

Strength- Bear Complex

Athletes will start at designated weights and move up 10# every minute. Every minute on the minute you must complete 1 bear complex.

Guy’s start at 115#, ladsies start at 75#

 

WOD- 

3 RFT

6 Deadlifts

6 Snatch High Pulls

6 Front Squats

6 Push Jerks

6 Back Squats

225#/135#

 

Wodivore Blog Jan 8. 2013

The Physical Toll of Negative Emotions

fracturedLiving Primally is first and foremost about taking responsibility for your own health. Though we might not be able to control each and every facet of our lives and genetics, we have considerably more power than we think. Dietexercisesleepsunsocial connection, and play all figure centrally into our health. (If you’ve been with us at MDA for even a week, you’ve probably figured that out.) That said, there are also more nuanced facets to wellbeing – subtler influences and interactions that we might not consider each day. True, when we rein in the bad habits and rewire unhealthy patterns, we open the door for an unprecedented level of thriving. Some of us, however, carry other kinds of baggage burdensome enough to keep us from ultimately passing over the threshold. I’m talking about the emotional cargo we live with – the anger, resentment, repression, sadness, guilt, or inertia (to name a few) – and its inevitable toll on our physiological health.

A few months ago, Dr. Albert Fuchs wrote a post highlighting the role of guilt played in some of his patients’ symptoms. Many physicians, Fuchs explains, see people whose physical suffering has no apparent medical source – somatization in medical jargon. Their conditions, which range from insomnia to chest pain, are rooted in guilt. What these folks need, Fuchs argues, is emotional and spiritual “absolution,” not medical treatment.

Fuch’s observation is just the tip of the iceberg. In recent years, studies have highlighted the role stress, emotions, and personality traits play in serious health risks. For example, research shows sadness increases our perception of painAnxiety increases our chance of heart attackStress heightens our risk for strokeDepression raises levels of inflammation-promoting proteins and increases the accumulation of abdominal fat. Suppressing our feelings even suppresses our immune function!

Our emotions aren’t just intellectual configurations. They’re wholly visceral processes. Imagine the emotionally charged times when you’ve had sweaty palms, a tightened chest, muscle tension, a knotted stomach, constricted throat, or light-headedness. It’s all part of the inherent mind-body connection. Our emotions elicit biochemical signals that set in motion a chain of positive or negative physiological events that include or influence everything from blood pressure to blood viscositygastrointestinal function to pain perception.

We’re designed, of course, to experience (and recover quickly from) a wide range of emotions, but when we get stuck in a negative rut for too long, it exacts a physiological as well as psychological toll. Over time, our physical condition reflects our emotional state. The persistent physiological impact of our feelings becomes imbedded in our body itself – in skewed neurochemical patterns, inefficient systemic functioning, even epigenetic profiles.

Eastern medicine more readily acknowledges the nuances of our mind-body connection. Yoga, for one, attends to the physical tension we carry as manifestations of emotional strain. Within the strategic focus of poses and the centering of breath work, we can cultivate a physical and emotional sense of release. It’s a discipline that mirrors many other Eastern and alternative practices which appreciate either literally or metaphorically how our bodies and minds are inherently imbricated.

From an evolutionary standpoint, it also makes sense. The more we discover, the more we understand about the body’s and brain’s complementary operations in animals and in our own species. Emotions and emotional perception were part of the larger picture of survival. They spurred us to action or inaction that could save our hides when we were up against a predator or a hostile or helpful stranger. They fostered our successful interactions with kin and even our childhood caretakers.

Today, in a world much safer and more mentally detached from the imperative of the present, I think it’s easier to lose ourselves in emotional narratives (that destructive penchant for self-talk) that can extend and expand our pain beyond the actual situations that prompted them to begin with. How much of our emotional anguish is caused by an unfair or unfortunate scenario, and how much is caused by our unrelenting grip on it. Our negative emotion (e.g. anger, sadness, guilt) likely had at least some legitimate value when the circumstances occurred, but at what point does it spring not from the original event anymore but from our own self-destructive clinging?

From a personal standpoint, how many of us have lived for weeks if not months with our stomachs in knots over stress? How many have ever gone months or even years stressed by a negative relationship (be it partnership, friendship, family, or work) that caused chronic headaches, muscle tension, or other symptoms? (A literal as well as figurative pain in the neck?) How many have felt perpetually fatigued by the weight of resentment?

Hanging onto emotion after the fact, in its lesser forms, can hold us back from experiencing full thriving. In it’s worst manifestations, we let it cannibalize us. When we take responsibility for our health, we also take responsibility for our mental health and the self-talk that fuels (or constrains) our lives. It helps to cultivate a “let it go” approach to life and to let go of negative self-talk that sends us down a useless emotional path. Counselors commonly suggest patients who tend to fall into negative thought patterns nip the process in the bud by learning to identify the physical sensations that begin the downward spiral. Maybe it’s a flushed face, a head rush, or a queasy stomach. Staying attuned to our physical cues can be more effective for many people than trying to mentally police runaway thoughts.

However, taking responsibility also means being honest with ourselves about what we resist addressing in our lives. It calls us to make hard choices sometimes – to let go of friendships that aren’t serving us anymore, to take a risk moving on from a soul-sucking job, to either leave a relationship or commit to the hard (and mutual) work of reshaping it. It calls us to get real about the negative thoughts and patterns that lead us to self-sabotage our lives, actions that result in continual mental and physiological consequences. Responsibility for our wellbeing is undoubtedly life’s grandest opportunity, but it’s also our most profound accountability.

Thanks for reading today, everyone. How do you identify with or respond to the role emotions play in physical health? What advice, practices, or truths have you found meaningful in taking responsibility for your full wellbeing?

Get after it!

Get after it!

Dynamic Warmup

Strength: Muscle Up Progression

Chest to Bar

Deep Ring Dips

Band Turnovers on rings

***Utilize that false grip , pull into your chest,rip your shirt, and headbutt through the rings. You got this, come on!

I want to see some muscle-ups today!

http://youtu.be/FKcnpJSAsbo

WOD:

For time:

30 Overhead squats, 95# (65#)
7 Muscle-ups
20 Overhead squats, 95# (65#)
5 Muscle-ups

 

 

The Importance of Mobility: The Hips

hipPeople are exceedingly mobile these days. We can jet halfway across the world at a moment’s notice, check email on our phones, hop in the car and be in another state in five hours, conduct business from anywhere, transfer schools, and shave while reading the paper on the morning commute. Social mobility, financial mobility, spatial mobility, information mobility. Mobile workforce, mobile phone, Google Mobile. Yeah, clearly, mobility is highly prized.

What about joint mobility?

Too many people discount, or even outright ignore, this crucial aspect of physical fitness. Raw strength, speed, and stamina are all important, especially to athletes or weekend warriors, but everyone of any age or fitness level needs the ability to move their limbs and joints through their full range of motion as ordained by nature. That goes for grandmothers, teens, and couch potatoes alike. Though not everyone will be picking up barbells or running sprints or long jumping, we all have to function in a three-dimensional world. We all have space and gravity with which to contend if we’re planning on enjoying and experiencing all life offers, and that’s accomplished by moving through spatiality and against gravity. To thrive in this environment, we require the full, unfettered use of our limbs, joints, and muscles. Losing the shoes is a big step; so is getting strong and fit. One of the biggest, in my opinion, is regaining and maintaining maximum joint mobility.

 

“Regaining,” because we are born with joint mobility. Ever watch children play? They’re bendy, flexible little sprites with perfect squat and deadlift form. And they don’t need formal training to get there! Attainment of joint mobility, then, is regaining what was lost, not inventing something new.

Regaining’s the easy part. You’ve got to maintain your mobility, too, or else you run the risk of misplacing it all over again. Once you learn the mobility exercises, it’s actually really pretty simple to maintain. People generally fail out of sheer forgetfulness or laziness. If you can incorporate mobility drills into your regular warm-ups or daily activities (or even institute them as standalone workouts), maintenance becomes second nature.

Everyone has to pick up groceries, or walk up stairs, or perform any number of mundane tasks requiring the use of joints and limbs. If those joints and limbs are going to be useful, they have to be mobile. They need a full range of motion.

And if you are an athlete, mobility is even more important. Strength without the ability to move your body and limbs fully and completely – without the ability to use your strength in the real world – is pointless. Strength development itself suffers without proper joint mobility. The strongest lifters are the ones who move weights (or just themselves) through the full range of motion using compound movements and utilizing healthy, active joints. If you have poor joint mobility, performing quality squats, deadlifts, presses – any compound movement that requires precision and communication between joints and limbs – it’s going to be that much harder, and the risk for injury that much higher.

Power output and speed will be compromised with poor joint mobility. When you shoot a rubber band, the farther back you pull it, the more tension there is, and the farther it shoots. The greater your joint mobility, the greater your range of motion, and the more tension – and therefore power – you’ll be able to generate.

Most importantly, maintaining adequate joint mobility keeps our joints healthy. Just as our bones and our muscle fibers require physical stimuli, like load-bearing activities, to maintain strength, density, and to initiate positive structural changes/adaptations, our joints require regular movement and usage to maintain health and mobility. Think of your joints as hinges to a door; if the door is never opened, never used, and subjected to steady environmental or elemental decay without reprieve, that hinge isn’t going to work well. It’s going to rust, and it’ll creak and groan if you’re even able to get it moving. Same thing goes for the sedentary office worker, the bodybuilder who only focuses on pecs and biceps, and the daytime TV watcher. Their joints aren’t being used to their full potential (if at all, in some cases), and their mobility will suffer. Like the Tinman in Oz, their joints will “rust” over and the simplest tasks will become difficult, almost Herculean in extreme cases (and in old age).

Hip Mobility

Our joints, limbs, and muscles represent a collective of individual pieces, all working together to move the body, manipulate objects, and propel us through three dimensional space. Mobility in all areas is crucial, but it helps to consider them in segments. After all, different people will have different levels of mobility in different areas of the body. Perhaps the most common mobility deficiency resides in the hips. In my own case, it was a lack of hip mobility that was the proximate cause of my downfall as a runner/triathlete. I basically “seized up” after fifteen years of overuse in a very limited plane of movement.

People have forgotten (or don’t know) how to use their hips the way evolution designed them to be used. Instead of sitting back with their hips to pick something up, followed by a hip extension (thrust forward) to bring it up, they’ll bend at the waist and lift with the lower back. Picking up a potted plant? You can get away with poor hip mobility – for a while. Picking up a weighted barbell, a child or a bag of peat moss with poor hip mobility using your lower back? That’s an injury waiting to happen.

We sit too much. I know I do, and it’s especially bad to do so right after working out (yet I still do it sometimes). Sitting impacts hip mobility in two major ways: it weakens the glutes and it shortens the hip flexors. Both your glutes and your hip flexors figure prominently in the activation of your hips, so when they’re weak and/or inactive, the lower back takes over.Now, the lower back, or the lumbar spine, isn’t designed for a ton of activity. It’s mainly there to provide support and stability. It’s the core, after all. But with poor hip mobility brought on by excessive sitting and a weak posterior chain, your hip extension is no longer sufficient, and in comes the lower back. That potted plant is beginning to look a little heavier, eh? And that’s not even mentioning the barbell.

It’s a shame, because our hips are obviously designed to generate a ton of power. The ligaments, the tendons, the musculature, and the bones in that region are all dense, hardy, and robust – they’re made for activity and mobility – but too many people are selling their hips short. And when that happens, the other joints and muscles (like knees or lumbar spines) have to pick up the slack. It’s an adaptive mechanism that perhaps any multi-limbed animal possesses: the quick substitution for an injured limb/joint by an adjacent one. It’s not meant to be a lasting solution, though. We’re not meant to limp through life using one joint to do another’s prescribed task. It just doesn’t work, and it’s exactly why most people lift with their backs instead of their hips and then complain about back or knee pain.

Restoring hip mobility will help in several areas. It should reduce or eliminate lower back and/or knee pain stemming from overcompensation. It should improve your power output by allowing you to fully engage your posterior chain in training exercises like squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, and any of the Olympic lifts, while making them safer. It should improve the strength and power of your hip extension, extremely vital for performance of the aforementioned lifts, but also for vertical leapssprinting, and any basic explosive movement. It will improve your rotational strength; instead of rotating with the lumbar spine (a huge no-no), you’ll generate power with the hips – perfect for throwing a good punch, swinging a golf club, or tossing a big rock at prey. It’ll improve speed, especially sprinting speed.

Most of all, hip mobility will improve your relationship with the rest of your body. Because the hips are the most common sites of poor mobility, many people are walking around with dysfunctions borne of overcompensation. Fixing hip mobility won’t fix everything, but it will eliminate a major stressor on your system as a whole and allow you to focus on the smaller, but no less important, sites and joints.

Learn to love them!

Learn to love them!

Team Med Ball Dynamic warmup

 

Pick a weakness and dial it in. The only way to get better at something is to keep practicing!

WOD:

7min of Burpees! This is the first WOD from last years CrossFit Games Open. Shoot for over 100. Same standards apply to us today as they did in the open.

Metabolic conditioning or “metcon” refers to conditioning exercises intended to increase the storage and delivery of energy for any activity. The first thing that comes to mind for most people when training to improve endurance is conditioning the cardiovascular system to improve transport of blood to the working muscles. Concurrently, metabolic conditioning is conditioning the muscles to better use the fuel delivered to them by improving the efficiency of the different metabolic pathways. While it was once believed that only aerobic conditioning served to increase cardiovascular health, studies have now shown that anaerobic conditioning may also condition the heart to a same level as aerobic training alone. Dr. Izumi Tabata successfully produced excellent improvements in anaerobic and aerobic conditioning in a group of accomplished athletes using interval training. It is of note that Tabata’s four minute high intensity group experienced better V02 max improvement than the control group, which followed a 60 minute moderate intensity regimen.

The premise behind this type of conditioning is to condition the phosphagen and glycolytic pathways adequately (with enough volume to create significant improvement); it is much easier to accumulate volume in “aerobic” training (oxydative) because it requires less energy. Using the phosphagen pathway for example: when performing exercise at an intensity that requires energy to be supplied through the phosphagen pathway, the intensity is so high that the work can only be sustained for 10-30 seconds. In order to continue training at this intensity (to “metabolically condition” the body to work in this pathway), one must follow this by resting from 30-90 seconds before repeating the process. This is why high-intensity interval training is the principle method of metabolic conditioning.

Metabolic Pathways
  Sprinting Mid-distance Distance Primary Energy System Phosphagen Glycolytic Oxydative
Duration of Work (secs) 10-30 30-120 120-300
Duration of Recovery (secs) 30-90 60-240 120-300
Load:Recovery Ratio 1:3 1:2 1:1
Reps 25-30 10-20 3-5

Let’s keep going!

Let's keep going!

Stength/Skill: 5 rds 250m row sprints

Grab a buddy! While they are doing their row sprint you are practicing those double unders. Remember it’s all in the wrists. Just jump a little bit higher and flick those wrist twice as fast. 🙂

WOD:

20-15-10

Squat Clean Thrusters 95#/65#

Ring Dips

 

Wodivore Blog Jan 4, 2013

Knees out, elbows up, neutral neck.  What are these?  Besides being proper positions and form they are audible cues that you’ll hear in the gym all the time.  As trainers we use 3 types of cuing.  Audible, Visual, and Tactile.  Audible is us vocally telling you to get your knees out.  Visual is when we get in front of you and show you what we’re looking for.  Tactile is moving you into the correct position and showing you the range of motion we’re looking for in the movement.  

As athletes you all respond better to different types of cues.  As trainers we make it our focus to figure out which type of cue you as athletes respond to best.

The directions and instructions we provide are designed to make you better athletes, make sure that you’re in the correct position and that you are moving safe and efficiently.  If you prefer one type of cue over another or learn more effectively with a visual cue over a verbal cue, please let us know.  We give out instructions because we care for you and want to make sure you are getting the most out of your workouts.  

Let us know how you learn and we will make sure to give instructions based on your preference.

Thursday

Thursday

Dynamic Warmup

Open up the hips. Coaches will demonstrate various stretches.

Mobility, Hips, ankle, shoulder

Strength:

Bench 3-3-3-3-3-3

Pullups (Weighted) 5×6

Go directly from your set of bench and hit the pullups

 

WOD:

As many rounds/reps as possible in 15 min of the following:

5 Push Press 135#/95#

10 Pistols

15 Double Unders

 

Wodivore Blog Jan 3, 2012

The Importance of Shoulder Mobility and Scapular Stability

shoulderThe shoulder is a tricky joint because it has to provide adequate stability while maintaining full mobility to prevent injury and maximize function and performance. If you look at yourself in the mirror and wave your arms around, you’ll see what I mean. If that doesn’t work, watch a swimmer, preferably one doing the IM, and watch the incredible range of motion in those shoulders. That’s what the human body is capable of.

Know what you’re looking for and you should be able to count ten different types of shoulder articulations. Ten! Contrast that with the hips (eight), the ankles (two), the wrists (four), or the spine (five), and the shoulder is clearly the most complicated joint with the greatest range of motion. Because “with great power comes great responsibility,” the shoulder is also perhaps the joint most vulnerable to injury. You can do a whole lot with a well-functioning shoulder joint, but you can also really mess yourself up and curtail your activity level for a long time if you get haphazard with its maintenance. Take it from a guy who messed his shoulder up more than once: shoulder health is absolutely required for an active, enriched life. And if you plan on attaining any sort of athletic competency on any level, you need good shoulders.

 

Shoulder Structure

A person’s shoulder joint is composed of the clavicle (collar bone), the scapula (shoulder blades), and the humerus (upper arm bone), along with two joints – the acromioclavicular, or AC joint; and the glenohumeral joint. AC joints exist between the clavicle and the scapula, whereas the glenohumeral joint is the classic ball-and-socket joint responsible for basic arm rotations and hinging. All these bones and joints are in turn supported by the surrounding musculature.

Shoulderjoint

The surrounding musculature is extensive. You’ve got the big boys, like the rear, middle, and anterior deltoids or the trapezius, that get all the credit. They’re the ones that pop out and look great in tank tops. Important? Yes. But there are more important ones, I’d argue. Because for all that mobility and all that muscle mass to work correctly, you need stability. You need a base, something to work from.

This concept isn’t new, and it’s certainly not unique to the human shoulder joint. The entire body’s continuum of joints is governed by this “law.” Mobility-centric joints, like the hips, thoracic spine, and ankles, are connected to stability-centric joints, like the knees and lumbar spine. Each requires the next in line to function correctly and smoothly.

For the mobile shoulder joints to stay mobile and healthy, they rely almost entirely on the proper function of the scapula. Yes, the true key to shoulder mobility is scapular stability. You gotta have strong shoulder blades. You need a foundation.

While doing the bench press, that infamous destroyer of rotator cuffs, a trainee must tighten his scapula to create a “shelf” to lay against the bench. A trainee must also maintain that shelf throughout the set, even (especially) when pressing up. This is scapular retraction, and benching without it – with a loose, rounded back on the press up – will eventually kill your shoulders. It certainly knocked mine out for a good couple of months the most recent (and last) time I tried to max out my bench.

Any overhead work, whether it’s pressing a barbell, lifting a growing child, or moving luggage into the overhead bin on an airplane, requires scapular elevation to help the acromion clear the rotator cuff. It moves, ideally, smoothly, but if you’ve got poor scapular function (say, from kyphosis, or poor thoracic mobility), the upward rotation is halted, and impingement syndrome can result.

Back squats work best with a close grip and strong scapular retraction in order to urge the rest of the torso to stiffen and create that “shelf” for the bar to lie on. Try doing back squats with a wide grip and lax shoulder blades to see what I mean. Actually, don’t; it’ll just hurt your shoulders.

Rowing (machine, boat, or barbell) is all about scapular retraction. You’re not just going to yank on a cable or work a paddle by flailing your arms wildly. Well, you could, but you’d injure yourself. Setting your shoulder blades back and keeping them tight creates a safe, linear path for your primary rowing muscles to travel.

Pull-ups and chin-ups are all about scapular stability, very similar to the rows.

The shoulders figure into every upper body exercise. If your arms are moving, that movement is occurring along the joints that comprise the shoulder. Bench presses, dips, overhead presses, and anything else involving your arms depend on healthy shoulders and good scapular function. Tomorrow, I’ll explain more about the scapula, how to target its supporting musculature, and how it all figures into overall shoulder health and mobility.