Archive for Mobility

Weightlifting is the Answer! Here is why…

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2013 by razorsedgeperformance
We have spoken a number of times on this page about why weightlifting exercises (SEE Snatch, Clean, and Jerks) are awesome for developing speed and power in athletes, and thus why they should be included in many training programs.
While that is still true, I am going to discuss why weightlifting is EVEN BETTER for recreational athletes, and for that matter strength and conditioning coaches!
Let me talk about the second group first, because that is my cohort. As strength and conditioning coaches we are usually a competitive bunch (most are former athletes) and so love to compete no matter how old or out of shape we get. Add to that thought the concept of the high power output that is present in these exercises and it makes for the perfect avenue to compete in that still stays true to what we preach all day in the weight room! Wait, there is a cherry on top…these lifts are highly technical, and require a lot of practice and some good coaching. So as strength coaches, we always want to be working on our craft to provide the best coaching to our athletes. The more you can practice the lifts on your own, the better you get at coaching them and picking them apart.
Now let’s get to the recreational lifter and with that the crossfit population. I will go on record and say there are some things I really enjoy about crossfit. People seem to love it and love getting to the gym. This is great for the health and fitness of overall communities and the individuals within them. It is a system that also works well to improve overall physical capacities and body composition. So why do people hate on it, especially in the health and fitness community? Probably because they break people…some of it is from the crazy amount of volume everyone is expected to do, and some of it is just from the fact few members get taught proper technique for the weightifting exercises (let alone basic barbell exercises!!)…
Here are a few reasons why they are actually amazing lifts for the recreational lifter, even though they seem too technical and only for the ‘elite’…
Mobility! Here is the world record holder in both lifts at 77kg class, Lu Xiaojun. I have a huge man-crush on him for his weightlifting abilities. Not only are we talking about crazy amounts of power to move the bar, but he is catching the weight in a full-depth overhead squat. Even go back and see his starting position; Weightlifting requires a high level of mobility in your hips and ankles, as well as shoulders and upper back. These are the kinds of things the office-warrior loses quickly as they age, so just working on getting to these positions is highly valuable. Posture is such a large emphasis for these lifts that these muscles will get a ton of attention, and have no choice but to get their act together!
Metabolic Demand! These lifts use the entire body. So when you do a set of 8 or 10 reps at a submaximal weight, you are burning a ton of fuel. No wonder all the elite lifters are shredded (save for superheavy’s)…
Even working with a dowel (wooden stick, step 1) to get the positions and transitions correct, will be a great workout for most people as the volume is typically high and the attention to detail as well.
Cool Factor! Because they are so technical, not a lot of people do them well…walking into a gym, taking over the platform, and rocking some double body weight clean and jerks will definitely get you some attention. You will make a lot of friends that day. A lot of people can squat, but throw the same weight overhead as fast as you can? My mind just got blown.
It is with all of these reasons that we have begun a weightlifting club out of FITS Toronto where we work with weekend warriors to master these lifts, and so far the response has been impressive. If you want to really kick your training into another gear, and find something that you can really pour your focus into…then start learning how to weightlift!! (Consult a professional!!)
BONUS: Here is me hitting some PR’s yesterday as I journey to a bodyweight snatch…join me!
DOUBLE BONUS: Here’s Kyle beating Cory‘s PRs
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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!

Front Squats Are The Bee’s Knees!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on May 18, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

I was in the middle of a set of front squats one time when a guy came up to me and asked how I do that. He said he sees athletes doing them all the time but he thinks they look so hard. Here’s the truth…he’s right and he’s right. Athletes do them all the time, and they CAN be hard. They don’t have to be hard to learn though.

Here are the advantages of front squatting..

1) Takes a huge portion of the load off of the spine…

2) Requires great use of core musculature to maintain posture

3) When done right, can allow for “ass-to-grass” squatting more easily than the back squat

Here are the disadvantages of the front squat…

1) It can be uncomfortable (boo hoo)

2) You won’t be able to lift as much as your back squat (is that a big deal?….no)

So I think we know which side wins…LEARN TO FRONT SQUAT

And here is a little video on some simple progressions.

Remember to keep the hips back, chest tall, and drive your elbows up….

If you want to see a heavy front squat in action, We both recently hit PR’s on the front squat!

Check out Cory’s video HERE
Check out Kyle’s video HERE

Breaking Down Barriers

Posted in Health, Performance with tags , , , , , , , on March 24, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

We talk ad nauseum about different strategies to get the results you need for improved performance. Sometimes you need to spend more time working out, and sometimes you need to cut back on your time but increase your intensity. For a lot of people, both of these strategies become too much. We break down and become exhausted and possibly injured. You know the more often you work hard, the better you become, but your performance reduces drastically as the week goes on. So what to do?

                                                                                                                       

Here are 5 strategies to increase the frequency of high intensity work.

1)  Build Your Stabilizers.

     By this I am simply talking about 3 major areas that control much of your movement. Upper back (scapulae) region, hips, and core are very important areas to build up some strength to keep you healthy. If you cant use these areas properly, you will never have enough stability to maintain proper posture during major lifts. Also, these tend to be the muscles that get overloaded first with a hard workout. If they aren’t strong, they will be sore all week and keep you from repeating some lifts later in the week.

2) Dynamic Warmup.

   A great dynamic warmup helps open up all of the joints that you jam up while sitting at your desk all day. It stretches certain muscles, activates others and teaches you appropriate movement patterns. Add in the benefit of increasing body temperature, and you have a great foundation for a great lift.

3) Post-Workout Shake.

Very few people take advantage of the post-workout nutrition window. If you don’t know what to mix, find a premixed solution like EAS Myoplex, Cytosport Musclemilk, or Dymatize Xpand Post. If you take in the right nutrients post-workout, you improve your rate of rehydration, glycogen replenishment, and muscle synthesis. Add these 3 things together and you’ll improve the way you feel and perform the day after a good workout.

4) Self-Massage.

Whether it is a foam roller, The Stick, a tennis ball, or TriggerPoint Therapy products, self-massage does amazing things for recovery. First, the pressure on your muscles from the different implements provides a relaxation effect to lower the resting tension in the desired area. Second, the act of massage improves blood flow to the area, clearing out the byproducts of exercise and bringing in fresh nutrients and oxygen. Not only is this good to keep the muscles you just used from getting overly tight or sore, it is also a great way to work on some of your postural issues. Think of it as me time, to keep your body primed for action.

5)  Nutrition.

If you want to do quality work, feed your body with quality food. Don’t look at the people who are already 6% bodyfat and eat at mcdonald’s for your nutrition recommendations. They do well DESPITE their diet, not because of it. If their body is burning up fuel like its nobody’s business, then they can even use junk as an energy source with little negative effect. You’d be kidding yourself though if you thought that they wouldnt benefit from nutrient rich, quality foods instead. Don’t waste your time. Eat well.

Do the behind-the-scenes work if you want to train hard ALL WEEK. 4-6 weeks of quality work can bring some absolutely amazing results to anybody!! It’s About Getting Better.

Razor’s Edge is Representing

Posted in Performance with tags , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2011 by razorsedgeperformance

It’s official: Razor’s Edge Performance is going to bring some awesome to the National Invitational Combine in Toronto this coming friday. I’d like to wish Willie and Mario luck in showing off their athleticism and skills for the attending CFL scouts. Both of these guys have been working their tails off and we’re proud to say they train with Razor’s Edge Performance.

Not only do we have athletes showing themselves off and measuring up to competition this week, in a way we’re also doing the same. This is our first year doing combine prep with CIS players. This is exciting because it’s a whole different type of training. Training an athlete over a long offseason for their sport is much different than a 2 month intensive program for a specific battery of tests. Not only is strength and power essential but the technical aspect of all of the tests cannot be overlooked. These athletes are training for agility, power, top end speed, lateral speed, explosiveness, as well as a significant mental component. That’s a lot of different things to try and focus on in such a short period of time! Due to the strenuous nature of this type of training, recovery is crucial. That’s why it’s important to have our guys eating and drinking well as well as taking care of their soft tissue, mobility and flexibility.

For those of you who don’t follow football or the scouting aspect, you now have an idea of the immense effort needed for such a short time. This is essentially the biggest job interview of their life thus far and depending on their success, may be the only one. The days are winding down and we’re excited to see Willie and Mario show off all their hard work. Look forward to a post next week with their results and other observations from the NIC and CFL E-Camp this coming weekend.

NOTE: Here’s a video of Willie’s results at the NIC.

Remember,
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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