Archive for Activation

LTAD and Going Through Puberty

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on March 17, 2014 by razorsedgeperformance

I see a lot of parents and coaches, who concerned about the safety of ‘strength training’ for their children, choose to wait until after puberty before starting athletic development. Coaches may call this the end of Training to Train and the start of Training to Compete.

While I understand where everyone is coming from, there is a major piece to the puzzle missing. Once a child goes through puberty, coordination usually falls behind, because their limb lengths are now much bigger, and they didn’t know how to control the smaller ones!

Gaining coordination as a young child, whether resisted with external loading or not, is extremely important to avoid this awkward stage that sometimes comes about with puberty. Resistance training is not unsafe for children (assuming you are supervised by a qualified individual…) and athletic development coaches will want to see effective use of body weight first none the less.

If you want to be a well coordinated athlete who can stay injury proof through your teens, learning how to move and control your body before puberty is much more efficient than waiting!

If you want to talk performance, you are able to get strong and powerful SOONER!

Kids are allowed to run and jump all they want in sport without restrictions, so why are we afraid to allow them to learn how to control their bodies under supervision? Something is missing here…

Becoming a Robot Part II….Improving Mobility

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on February 21, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Yesterday we talked about how mobility restrictions can really be hurting the way you move, which in turn can hold back your performances. Today i’ll share a few videos of things you can add into your dynamic warmup or interset rest periods to start enjoying the benefits of quality movement.

 

 

 

Try these out and see what happens!

 

It’s About Getting Better!

Stop! You’re becoming a robot

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , on February 20, 2012 by razorsedgeperformance

Somewhere along the line things got twisted. All of a sudden, the only thing that matters is strength. I’m seeing it all the time, guys are saying:”see how much I benched?? Squatted?”. Sure, strength development is important, but how did it become the be all and end all? I’ve written before about how important it is to learn – and become efficient at – proper movement patterns. This is something that the new strength-centric athletes are missing. When’s the last time you assessed your strengths and weaknesses? Guess what, it’s not a muscle group that’s lagging, it’s your mobility! If you’re anything like most of the young athletes I see these days, your flexibility and mobility suck and they’re holding you back. You have nobody to blame but yourself, I mean, everyone started out with great mobility and flexibility… (picked this up from a seminar)

can you still do this?

So why is it so important??

Look at it this way, mobility dictates positioning. This is what will allow you to go to end range and successfully complete movement patterns efficiently. A good example is a slingshot, since our muscles are like elastics. If you have a slingshot and you can barely pull back the band, does it make sense to make the band even stronger? The problem is, it actually gives it a slight improvement which is all the more misleading. A stronger band would probably improve performance slightly, but think about how much better it would be if you decided to focus on how you could pull the band back further? Attaining full range of motion will allow the elastic to build up more energy and allow the shot to be more accurate. This is how you need to treat your body. Stop focusing on getting stronger when you’ve got poor range of motion and terrible movement patterns.Enough is enough. Learn how to use your body more efficiently first, THEN you can increase your strength again.

If you’ve been sacrificing mobility and range of motion in the weight room (controlled environment), then how will you be able to magically pull it off in a high speed uncontrolled environment (sport)? Wake up and smell the roses. Take the next little while to focus on mobility and you’ll see yourself become more efficient, more effective and more injury resistant.

Come back tomorrow to see some different strategies and exercises to get you started on your path for better movement. Sometimes it just takes a more comprehensive dynamic warmup to help your body move properly for the following workout.

Added mobility has so many positive effects. Hypertrophy is increased when training through a full-range of motuon. Faulty movement patterns can lead to compensations, overuse of certain muscles and structures, then either knotted up muscles or possible tendinopathies. Increased mobility in key areas also allows you to be way more dynamic in all your movement. Do yourself a favour and do your next training session by a mirror and find out how you look going to full-depth in a squats, the start position of a deadlift, or the top of a pullup!

Remember,

It’s about getting better!

5 Tools for 2012

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on December 31, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

The holidays are over, it’s time to wake up. The food coma you’ve been in for the last 2 weeks is starting to wear off. The guilt is piling up almost as high as the holiday calories. It’s bad; you know it, I know it. The easy part? That was 2011. See what I did there? A fresh start for everyone.

A new year brings new goals and new ideas. There’s no better time to take your training game to a new level. This is where the title comes into play; below you will find a list of 5 training tools that can help you achieve your new goals in 2012.

1. 
Gymboss Interval Timer

The gym boss is an interval timer. Timing is crucial to training. Too little rest, your strength won’t return, too much rest, your heart rate returns to normal. No matter what your training goal is, a timer will be bring a consistency you’ve never been able to achieve before. Oh and if you’re looking to start interval training (hiit), this is probably the best interval timer on the market.

2. Multipurpose band

Iron Woody Stretch Bands

Besides a good timer, this might be the most versatile piece of equipment in your training bag. A good multi purpose Band can be used for strength, flexibility/mobility, warmup and explosive work.

3. Foam Roller

Maybe you have tried it, maybe you haven’t. We’ve talked about foam rollers before and other self-massage tools in the past, check them out here (Part 1 and Part 2). Not only is it a great tool for recovery from a good workout, it is also important for establishing good tissue quality as well as restoring proper length-tension relationships throughout your body. Issues relating to poor posture always require two things. The mobilization and release of the tight muscles that are causing restrictions, as well as the activation of the weak muscles that aren’t pulling their weight. Foam rolling is crucial for the release/mobilization aspect.

4. Grip4orce or fat gripz

Fat Gripz

While most people will credit the big movers for the majority of strength in things like pullups, bench press, and deadlifts, it is the grip that will hold you back from hitting that PR. The harder you can squeeze a bar, the more force you can put into it. If you have ever felt your grip fail during a set of deadlifts, you can recall how much your grip affects the whole lift. It is not just a matter of the bar slipping out of your fingers, but you lose your upper back, then your lower back, and finally your legs. When your grip is failing there is a reflex for the rest of your muscles to start turning off as well like a chain reaction. By using tools such as the Grip4orce or Fat Gripz, you can turn any bar or dumbell into a thick bar, constantly building your grip strength with every exercise.

5. Skipping rope

This is the best piece of equipment for cardio after your own legs. If sprinting is the king of conditioning exercises, then skipping is a prince. It is much more effective than jogging or biking (don’t even bring up the elliptical), and can be done virtually anywhere you have 8 or 9 feet of ceiling clearance. You can carry around a skipping rope all the time, and just break out the Gymboss to get a good interval workout in. If you haven’t skipped since grade 4, don’t worry, it comes back quick. Getting up to 45-60 secs straight with the rope is mostly about coordination and timing. After 60 seconds, it is all fitness!

If you still plan on doing some holiday shopping for yourself, then get these tools that will make your body and health a priority!

Most of these items can be found at Rogue Canada.

It’s About Getting Better!

Building and Assessing Your Foundation

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , on November 7, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I think it’s always good to be aware of what makes up the foundation of your health, movement, training, etc. Generally with health we can get into nutrition, social and emotional factors of weight, diet, training, and body image, and training factors like muscle imbalances or rest and recovery.

That’s a lot to get into, so I just want to focus on the physical body and the way it moves. There are a lot of opinions out there about the different basics that make up a workout, and what level of function a person has within different movements.

Gray Cook and Lee Burton and the rest of the minds behind the Functional Movement Screen have come up with a great resource to assess the way a person moves, and direct further attention to the areas of need. It is not the be all and end all of performance training but a good starting point.

I want to take a different approach and talk about an exercise/movement that can serve both as an assessment and practice for developing many of these basic movement patterns. In fact, I know it’s something that Gray values very much in his work for these reasons.

It is called the Turkish Getup and is an exercise that comes from the Kettlebell world. It’s important to note that it is also possible to do the exercises with a dumbell, so if you don’t have access to kettelebells regularly, don’t lose any sleep over it. In a nutshell, the TGU is an exercise where you start in a supine position (laying on your back) with the kettlebell overhead, and must work your way up to your feet, with the kettlebell above you at all times.

Here are some points as to why I love this movement so much. It utilizes some of the key aspects of body control that everyone should possess. The ability to roll/twist, keep your shoulder blades stable throughout a complex movement, use your glutes to create stability and movement, and an ability to keep your torso rigid through coordination of your core muscles. Having a person go through the TGU can either show me areas where they are weak, or give me an opportunity to have them ‘figure out’ through some cueing, ways in which to develop these basic characteristics.

Here are some brief pointers about the journey from supine to standing…

Step 1

Start with the kettlebell above you, with your arm extended, and your shoulder packed in tight. Bend the leg on the same side of your body as the kettlebell is, and have your foot flat on the ground. The other arm and leg are both extended. NOTE: The arm that starts extended should ALWAYS stay extended, and the foot on the ground should stay in that place for the whole movement.

Let’s imagine the kettlebell is in the right hand.

When you are ready, you are going to ‘crunch and punch’ the kettlebell up, while also rolling onto your left elbow.

Step 2

You are going to reach up again with your right arm, and extend your left arm underneath you, so you are resting on your left hand, both arms extended.

Step 3

You are going to push your right foot down  into the ground, contract your glutes and hamstring, and try to fully extend your right hip. This full extension is crucial for providing space for the next step

Step 4

With your hips up in the air, you are going to try to pull your left leg under your body and place your knee on the ground between your left hand and right foot. Your upper body should look like a T.

Step 5

Now you are going lift your torso so its tall, with your right arm back overhead, and left arm at your side. You are also going to turn your left knee so it is facing forward again and you are in a half-kneeling position.

Step 6

Now you need to pushoff with your legs and rise to a standing position with feet beside each, and arm still overhead.

Step 7

Now repeat all of steps 1-6 in reverse, to get back to the starting position properly.

Here are a couple videos I have made to show the technique. Notice that there should always be a slight pause between each step, so that a proper foundation can be set before proceeding with the next movement. With this move we are looking for stability in each position, not speed.

It’s About Getting Better!

Technique Matters!

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , on March 11, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

When training intensely, there is a fine line between challenging yourself with heavier weights and maintaining the proper technique through your lifts. I for one, recognize the importance of constantly challenging yourself with heavy weight in order to increase strength and muscle mass, but here is a quick explanation as to why technique needs to override max weight.

We all know about the dangers of injury when working out improperly so I won’t go there today. I want to address the issue of functional training. A lot of people associate this term with simulating movements from your sport in the gym via bosu balls and cable machines. This is not functional training. Functional training merely refers to the carryover of your strength work into athletic performance. This means we are focusing on development of force in the appropriate direction, by the appropriate muscles, in the appropriate sequence.

That is a very important definition. Sometimes in order to lift a maximum weight, we turn on some compensatory patterns in order to get the weight off the floor. So while you get the weight from point A to point B with a certain amount of force, you may not have recruited the appropriate muscles, and especially in the appropriate order. When we are looking at the way you move and perform in sport, we are attempting to put your body in position to be the most efficient and effective it can be. As soon as you alter some of these motor patterns in an incorrect way by altering the technique and recruitment of muscle in certain lifts, you change the way you move and react in space.

Remember, strength at the cost of technique is never OK! Lift strong, but lift right. It’s About Getting Better!!

Where’d My Shoes Go?

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , on December 31, 2010 by razorsedgeperformance
As a trainer I’d like to think I try to do most things properly and take advantage of the little things which most people either don’t know of or simply refuse to do. Either that, or I’m a little bit crazy. Either way, I’m fine with that. I’ve owned a pair of Vibram Five-Fingers for almost 6 months now and I have to say they’re one of my favourite training tools. They also happen to be a fantastic conversation starter.
Most people think I either got them from ninja training or I’m about to walk on the Great Barrier Reef. People don’t seem to understand the advantages of being barefoot, or to look at it in another way, the problems caused by shoes.
Vibram Five Fingers

Its taken until now to get people to do dynamic warm ups and regularly work on mobility, so why do we put our feet in an implement which restricts our mobility (and activation) the entire time we’re on them? It just doesn’t make sense.  People need to begin utilizing barefoot training more. An easy way to begin incorporating barefoot work into your training is as easy as doing dynamic warmups barefoot. This will give you an opportunity to work on joint mobility in your feet and ankles as well as light activation of the many muscles in your feet.

For those looking to take it a step further, Lunges, Deadlifts, and Squats are all great exercises which can and should be done without shoes on. If you don’t have vibrams, try doing this lifts in your socks or at least utilize shoes with a very thin, flat sole (ie chuck taylors).

Keep in mind that not all things are great in barefeet. Any activities where a lot of impact is involved will need a certain amount of cushion.  How much training did you do in barefeet in 2010? If the answer is very little or none at all then make that a goal of 2011!  The improved proprioception (balance) and lower limb and foot mobility will greatly improve performance and health in the new year.

For further reading, here is a great article written about Barefoot training by Martin Rooney:

http://articles.elitefts.com/articles/training-articles/the-importance-of-barefoot-training/

From Razor’s Edge Performance I’d like to wish all our readers and clients a Happy New Year! Remember…

It’s About Getting Better!

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