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KETTLE BELLS AND SELF LIMITING EXERCISES

Kettle bells have been around forever, in fact the first mention of them was back in 1704 within a Russian dictionary. Over the past 3 years or so they have been re-introduced as the next best thing to weight training and performance.

What you need to know:

Kettle bells are an awesome tool, but use them as that. They are another tool just like a dumbbell, barbell, or a treadmill.

Do I like them:

Yeah, I love them. They have taught me a new found respect in terms of movement, coordination, strength and power. I appreciate the grip strength needed to manage them, the control your core must exert to maneuver them, and kettle bell movements are great self-limiting exercises.

What’s a self-limiting exercise:

Gray Cook describes self-limiting exercises as “requiring mindfulness and an awareness of movement, alignment, balance and control. Self-limiting exercise requires engagement”.  I enjoyed hearing and reading that.  I believe we all work on movement patterns whether we are conscious of it or not.  Every minute of everyday we are teaching our bodies to either move more or less efficiently.  One of the most common things I try to teach my clients is to improve movement.  As we correct patterns through self-limiting exercises, they get stronger and more efficient.

(Click Here to listen to Gray Cook Radio for even more info!)

Who can use kettle bells:

Anyone can use them it just depends on how you use them, and where you are in your in terms of training level and competence.

For beginners/phase 1:I like to teach kettle bell carries/walks and dead lifts.  Walking with kettle bells in a low carry position teaches lateral stability of the hips and torso.  Its a great way to get your core  to engage and wok on strengthening posture and gait.  As for the dead lifts, I like teaching a sumo style dead lift with the Kettle Bell.  Its a great way to open up the hips, teach spinal posture and glute contraction.

For Intermediate/phase 2:I like teaching shoulder level and overhead carries/walks, kettle bell swings. Walking while carrying at shoulder height or overhead is a great way to further improve core stability, grip strength and posture for the shoulder girdle and thoracic spine.  Swings get pretty intense, but are a great way to program power in the hip hinge pattern.  I can’t stress enough that swings can easily be performed incorrectly so make sure your hip hinge pattern is on point before beginning!

For Advanced/phase 3:I like to teach 1 arm swings (with and asymmetric hip loading), and the kettle bell snatch.  1 arm swings with asymmetric hip loading is a great way to strengthen rotary hip power, core control and strength.  It’s pretty intense movement  that will tax your anaerobic system, I like it.  The kettle bell snatch is a great transition from the swing.  Again it’s great from for the core, shoulder girdle and power training.

What about the Turkish Get-Up:

You may have heard about the Turkish Get-Up or read about it in a magazine.  If you have trained with me, you’ve definitely done it 😀

The Turkish Get-Up is a movement I use across the board with beginners to advanced  clients.  Essentially is requires you to get up off the ground and stand all the way up while maintaining a weight over head in 1 hand, but it is much more than that.  You to work on some great movement patterns such as rolling, side bridging, sitting up, 3 point brige, hip rotation, split squat.  It works anterior chain, posterior chain and lateral chains.  It is the ultimate self-limiting exercise in my opinion.  The only thing missing is a gait or walking pattern (which can be added in).  It a great move that can really teach you a lot about yourself, which I appreciate.

If you have any questions or want to come in to get assessed and see what phase of training your should be in let me know!  Train safe, learn something about yourself and have fun!

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QUALITY OF MUSCLE TISSUE

If you have worked with me, you have probably heard the “beef jerky” talk. Here’s the typical scenario:

Me: Hows it going today?
Client: Good but my _____ hurts (you can put in knee, neck, shoulder, back etc)
Me: Hows your water been?
Client: Well could be better…
Me: Have you been foam rolling
Client: No I didn’t have time so I got straight into my workouts

This is about where I stop, and ask:
Me: Do you know what beef jerky is?
Client: Well, yeah
Me: So what is it? How is it made?
Client: *Smiling and thinking where is he going with this* It meat that is dried out, dehydrated
Me: Exactly

You may have heard at some point in your life that you are made of 70-80% water, which is completely correct. OUr bodies use water for our circulatory system, digestive system, and even for movement. Most of your water should be stored in your muscle tissue, so when you need extra digest a big meal or to keep your circulatory system moving it’s there. When you dehydrate or don’t hydrate enough, your body pulls water from any storage (i.e. muscles) to use for whatever it needs so you don’t shut down or pass out.

Being dehydrated makes your muscles tight and less pliable. Then add movement to that and getting sore from a workout and lactic acid build up from repetitive movement…guess what. You get knots in your muscles. When you have knots in your muscles that pulls on your joints in different angles, then guess what things wear down and…YOU HURT!

Something I have been adamant about for years has been foam rolling and hydration. Over the past few years working with various clients (golfers, martial artists, post rehab, general fitness), one thing stays constant people want to move better, feel better and look better. You don’t go to the gym to move shitty, feel shitty and look like shitty do you?

Mom I know you will read this so sorry for the language but this goes for you too 🙂

Let me put it to you this way, if you are tight you can’t move efficiently. If you can’t move efficiently but you do anyway, you get better at moving worse. If you continue to do that you get an injury, and that is not the goal of exercise.  The point of fitness is better health, not worse.

There’s a reason we go for the Filet Mignon over beef jerky…We don’t prefer to chew on leather if we don’t have to. That being said, hydrate, foam roll then move. In the short term you will feel better, in the long term will can move better and ultimately you will perform better.

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POWER PRODUCTION FOR ATHLETES!

My buddy Jason Glass did a video with Titleist Performance Institute (TPI), highlighting kettle bell work focusing power production for rotary sports.  I thought it was a great video and wanted to share!

Enjoy

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BALANCE FOR GOLFERS…

Over the years, I have assessed and worked with many golfer (from juniors, to recreational adults and even tour level pros) and it never ceases to amaze me how much golfers need to work on balance!

One of the biggest swing inconsistancies is found in lack of hip stability.  More often than not, golfers exhibit good stabiltiy in the lead leg, and poor stability in the trail leg.  Here are a couple of things I have used to help re-educate the hips and strength them in stabilization.

Enjoy!

Bridge

Great drill for strengthening your glutes and lateral hip stability

Half Kneeling Chops

Great for lateral hip stability and incorporating arm speed

Medicine Ball throws

Great for lateral hip stability, arm speed and reaction training

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HOW DO YOUR SHOULDERS WORK?

Did you know your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in your body? Your shoulder joint is the only joint that can flex (lift forward), extend (pull behind you), abduct (pull away from your body), adduct (pull into your body), rotate (both in towards the body and away from the body) and circumduct (move in circular patterns).

With all that movement, it’s no wonder why the shoulder joint is also one of the easiest joints to injure!

The shoulder joint is pretty complex and it’s not just the shoulder that makes all it’s movement happen.  Functionally speaking the shoulder girdle is where we get proper movement.

So you might be asking what’s the shoulder girdle?  Well the shoulder girdle breaks down into a few different bones, and they link together to provide stability to the entire shoulder region.

All the bones that affect the shoulder girdle function/movement:

-       Upper Arm (Humerus)

-       Shoulder Blade (Scapulae)

-       Collar Bone (Clavicle)

-       Upper Spine (Thoracic spine)

The upper arm (humerus) moves as a ball and socket joint with part of the shoulder blade and that is where we get most of our shoulder movement.  Without the shoulder girdle (shoulder blade, upper spine and collar bone) the shoulder would have nothing to stabilize it.  When the structure of the shoulder girdle does not stabilize the shoulder joint we typically see shoulder injury such as “grinding or clicking” noises and pains, rotator cuff tears, labrum tears, biceps tendonitis, etc.

If you have trained with me before, you have probably heard me say “all movement starts at the core” and I mean that.  In earlier articles we discussed what the core is and I defined it as everything excepts your arms and legs.  To me the shoulder girdle (shoulder blades, collar bones and upper spine) make up the top half of your core.  So whenever you start ANY upper body movement, you must stabilize you shoulder girdle (Chest up! Shoulders Back!) to allow your shoulder free motion without causing damage or pain.

To test what I mean, slouch as much as you can, then lift your arms as high up overhead as possible.  STAY SLOUCHED AND HOLD FOR A 5 COUNT.  What you should notice is… that it doesn’t feel good!  Imagine adding weight to that and doing it over and over again.  It’s painful and it will age you.

OK, let’s try it again, sit up as tall as possible and pinch your shoulder blades together and down, now lift your arms as high up overhead as possible.  YOU’RE YOUR SPINE TALL AND HOLD THOSE SHOULDER BLADES DOWN, FOR A 5 COUNT.  What you should notice is… MUSCLES WORKING!

When you slouch, your upper spine rounds and your shoulder blades slide as far from one another as they can.  This decreases shoulder stability.  Therefore when you move from the shoulder there is more possibility for pain and injury.

GOLF TIPS

Putting is the most important part of the game, over 40% of strokes are on the green. Most difficulties come from distance control.

1.. To help your distance control we first have to make sure that your posture is correct. You can check your posture by setting up to a ball in your putting stance, with a second ball in your left hand. Raise the ball to your left eye and then drop the ball. If you posture is correct the ball will land on the ball on the ground. You can adjust your posture based upon where the ball lands. The correct posture allows the pendulum of the shoulders to be consistent.

2. A drill that is effective to help distance control is a simple one, yet very effective for practice or warming up before your round . Place two golf balls onto the green (two steps about 6 ft.) from the collar or fringe. Going through your entire REAL process putt the balls so they will stop at the edge of the collar. Key is to go through the process on each putt, not simply walk up and hit the second putt. This will help you develop distance control and build confidence.

Repeat this process again taking three steps (about 15ft). Again the key is to go through your REAL process on each putt as you will do in your round and feel the stroke applying the correct distance. Repeat the drill twice… then go make one two foot putt to hear the sound of the cup and you are ready for the first tee.

This golf tip was provided by K. Tracy Roberts.  Coach Roberts is a PGA Class A Teaching Professional and has been dedicated to athletes, coaching golf at the championship level for more than two decades. His golf coaching is based in Irvine at Rancho San Joaquin Golf Course.

For more information visit www.PlayREALGolf.com

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STRATEGIES FOR AGING WELL

As we age our bodies begin to breakdown.  We have to deal with injury and nagging aches and pains.  In the current issue of The Strength and Condition Journal (Oct.2010, Vol. 32, Num. 5) an article was published titled Strategies for Aging Well.  In this article a handful of studies were discussed and quoted in their findings of age related changes and the benefits of exercise.  Different types of training were discussed (Resistance Training and Power Training, Mobility and Balance Training will be used as examples here).

As we age some of the biggest issues we deal with are difficulty in movement (either due to lack of activity, previous injury, or disease), decreased balance, and lack of strength and speed.  The right kinds of exercise can help all of these things.  In the article Strategies for Aging Well, they discussed studies done on flexibility and balance training, resistance training and power training, and the benefits of each.

What they found were: In every study done, the subjects improved in whatever they were working on (balance, strength, power, flexibility).  The summary of the article reads as follows, “’The old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ is a key rule for maintaining physical independence as a person grows older’.  A comprehensive physical activity program for adults includes aerobic exercise, resistance training including power training, neuromuscular training, and flexibility exercise. Resistance training is associated with a long list of documented benefits, including increased muscle mass and strength, and enhancements in functional performance (particularly with power training), which is related to being able to maintain independence and protect quality of life… The exercise professional who is familiar with age-related changes and challenges that face adults is poised to assist them in aging well by helping them to improve their fitness…we can all take steps to age successfully.”

I enjoyed this article because it reinforced what I have been saying for the past few years to all of my clients, young, middle aged and older adult; it’s all about use it or lose it.  You can always get it back if you’ve lost it but it’s easier to keep it from an early age, rather than earn it later on in life.

Reference

  1. 1. Geithner, C,  PhD, Mckenney, D,  BS. Strategies for Aging Well. Strength and Conditioning Journal, Oct 2010, Vol. 3, Num. 5

CHIP TIPS- PROPER SAND BUNKER PLAY

By: Eric Lohman, PGA, Director of Golf at Oak Creek Golf Club

elohman@oakcreekgolfclub.com

Hitting a bunker shot isn’t supposed to be like your 3 year old son or daughter spending a day at the beach.  You are not supposed to get sand everywhere, make a mess and eventually have your sand castle wash away in the surf.   These are a few pointers that will help you get out of the sand in a consistent manner.

1)*** Most important tip…make sure to hit  the sand and not the ball.  Do not hit the ball!!!  To hit a proper sand shot, the golfer must make a golf swing that allows the golf club to push the sand out of the bunker and also the ball which rides the sand.  To accomplish this it is important to change your swing plane some by making it more vertical or upright.  Do this by swinging the club more outside your normal swing plane and by picking it up more from the beginning of your swing. By swinging more upright it will make it easier to hit down and through the sand more consistently.
2) Pretend your golf ball is laying on a dollar bill.  Try and hit the dollar bill out of the bunker towards your intended target. The dollar bill represents how much sand you should try and hit out of the bunker. Not to wide, not to thick. Just a dollar bill worth of sand.

3) Buy a good Sand Wedge and then open the clubface when hitting a bunker shot.  All Sand Wedges have bounce.  Bounce is a term which describes the rounded edge on the bottom of the club. When you open a Sand Wedge up it increase the amount of bounce.  The bounce will allow you to hit the sand with a proper golf swing, but not dig too deeply into the sand. If you hit the sand with the sharp leading edge or with a club with little bounce, the club would dig deeper into the sand, take more sand out with the golf shot, disrupt the continuity to your golf swing and lead to fat, inconsistent golf shots with little if any spin.

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INTENSITY

How much effort do you put into what you do? How Much Focus is really there?

What’s the difference between an athlete and me? Is an athlete born or made? Is there a secret routine that I don’t know about? Why can’t I get my 6- pack abs?  These are just a few questions I get asked as a trainer over and over again, and my answers are always the same….

– Everyone is different, and there is the occasional ‘genetic freak’ that are stronger, faster, or smarter than the rest of us.   We cannot compare ourselves to them.  What we can do is appreciate their work ethic and strive to do the best we can.

– Athletes train with focus and intensity! This is yet another thing we can strive for.  The difference maker for many of my clients is when they focus and think about what they are doing while they do it, rather than just going through the motions.

-Athletes are meticulous about their eating, recovery and training.  Again something we should try to achieve.  Many people train just to  but lack proper nutrition and/or sleep.  Eating well and sleeping 8-9 hrs per night are just as important as training.  IF the body isn’t allowed time to recovery with sleep and given the proper nutrients, it will never grow or improve.

 

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SECRETS TO FAT LOSS

Hey Everybody,

So we are in the throws of summer and the big question I get when I am out and about is “what’s the secret to losing weight”.  I both love and hate this question because if you’re looking for a secret, you’re looking for the easy way out…

When most people ask “How do I lose weight” my immediate response is “chop off a limb”, then of course I get the “dude you are you crazy” look.  We are all so geared into ‘weight loss’ because of shows like the biggest loser, and getting information from sources less credible that sometimes we don’t know what we are asking. Let’s ask for what we really want. You want to feel good in your clothes and look good naked.  To do that, you have to lose body fat, not body weight.

The truth of the matter is, there is no secret to losing body fat.  You’ve got to work hard, eat properly, keep your stress down, and get your sleep CONSISTENTLY.

If I don’t work out, I am never going to ask my body to change.  If I don’t eat properly, I am never going to ask my body to change.  If I don’t keep my stress down, I am never going to ask my body to change.  If I don’t get proper rest….You get the idea.  Being consistent is difficult, and when people lack consistency and do not change they get frustrated and stop.  I hate hearing “I’ve tried everything and I can’t lose fat”. Let’s call it for what it is, you’ve tried it but didn’t stick to it so it didn’t work.  You lacked the discipline to be consistent and that’s why you failed.  The bottom line is, there is no secret training routine, there is no secret diet, there is no secret supplement.  There is getting is done and being smart about it.

Having a plan is first.  You have to know where your weaknesses are and be to prepare to deal with them.  If I have knee issues, doing hours of cardio may not be my best thing for you, address the knee issues first then move on.  If you plan on starving yourself, be prepared to lose more muscle than fat.  If you plan on just dieting, again be prepared to most likely lose more muscle than fat.  If you are insanely stressed be prepared for a long road, your body will be stubborn about change. Getting back to the point, have a plan that is efficient and stick to it.

Make it a priority.  You have nothing without consistency.  Look at your schedule and make time.  The biggest excuses I hear deal with losing track of time, or getting side tracked.  Again, let’s call it for what it is, you mis-managed your time. It happens, we can never predict what life will throw at us, but we can do the best we can to approriate our time. If something happens and you get side tracked for some reason don’t be discouraged.  Learn from your mistake and get back on it the next day.  If your goal is to lose fat and get into better health, schedule some time for yourself and make it a priority.

I typically ask my fat loss clients a few questions at the start of every session:

1) How have you been sleeping? Less than 7 hours is bad, try for 8-9

2) How has your eating been? Shoot for eating every 4 hours or so and eat until you are 80% full

3) How has your cardio been? I ask that you do some cardio 3-5 days per week at about 20 min per session

4) How have your workouts been? Most of my clients workout on their own as well as with me.  I am the coach, and coach isn’t the end all, be all.  You’ve got to put time in on your own.  Unless you are seeing me 3 times a week of more you probably aren’t doing enough…

Without going back on what I said earlier, there is no ‘best’ anything.  The questions I ask are guidelines, if you stay within the guidelines, you get what you want.  If you don’t, you won’t.  It might be cliche, but how bad do you want it?