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Perspectives Training

2 Key Points for a Solid Push-Up

I could rant on about a few things when it comes to the push-up, but I’ll choose two key points that I believe to have the greatest overall impact.

 

Core Stability – Everyone knows they need to “strengthen their core,” but few do.  This is by far where I see the biggest breakdown in push-up form and the cascade effect of a weak core will result in poor biomechanics everywhere else.  You shoulder hurts when you do a push-up?  It’s probably because your core wasn’t strong enough to support the variation you were attempting.  Work on core strength and stability first and choose a push-up regression that allows you to promote proper engagement and sequencing of your core at a difficulty level that you are actually capable of.

 

Points of Contact – I find this to be one of the most overlooked areas with any exercise.  Your points of contact are arguably the most import aspect of any exercise.  They anchor you to the external object that you are leveraging off of and transferring force through.  If you do not have solid contact your are giving away leverage and therefore strength.

 

With the push-up the main contact points are your hands.  If performing a push-up on the floor, spread those fingers apart and create as large a surface area.  The larger your contact surface is on your base of support, the greater your stability, feedback loop and force transfer will be, giving you more strength.  Whether you are gripping a bar or using the floor, use the muscles in your hands!  You need to have an active base.  Your wrists hurt when you do a push-up?  There’s a good chance you’re not using the muscles in your hands and wrists that provide support and create small space cushions around those joints.  Actively squeeze into the ground with those fingers and hands, or if on a bar, crush it.  Not only will this help protect your joints, the radiation effect of engaging those muscles will increase your overall strength in the movement.

Make sure your feet are well anchored as well.  They are another contact point and your body will leverage from them as well.

 

My favorite push-up regression is the incline push-up.  The incline can be adjusted to any level to make the movement achievable for all with out shortening levers such as with a bent knee push-up.  This promotes learning to engage your body and move it as an entire unit, maximizing the safety and effectiveness of the movement.

 

How to perform the push-up:

  • Whether on an incline, decline or the floor, start in a front support (straight arm plank) position on toes, with hands slightly wider than shoulder width and inline with shoulders.
  • Fingers should be spread apart to create more surface area while actively engaging hand and forearm muscles.
  • Head shoulders and hips should be in a neutral aligned position squared up with one another. Picture as steel rod going through your body from head to toe. Squeeze thighs, glutes and abdominals thinking of holding in your poo and pee.
  • Fill-up mid-back by driving hands through the floor, scooping your shoulder blades and slightly corkscrewing them into the ground by thinking of turning your hands out.
  • Initiate movement by thinking of actively pulling your torso toward the ground allowing elbows to bend. Head, shoulders and hips must stay aligned and all move together as one unit.
  • Lower until chest touches the ground or object you are on.
  • Drive hands through the ground maintaining tight body position returning to start.
  • If you cannot get your chest down to your target object, you are performing a variation that is too difficult for your current level. Squash your ego and regress the movement so that you can perform it properly and then as you get stronger, slowly increase the difficulty.

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Lifestyle Perspectives Training

Knee Pain? Do this! Front Foot Elevated Split Squat

The full range split squat is one of my favorite lower body movements and even more so when the modification of elevating the front foot is added.  If you experience knee pain, this modification might be an easy fix that allows you to keep your joint moving and strengthen the surrounding muscles to help improve its alignment and stability and alleviate some of that pain.

 

We live in “use it or lose it” bodies and brains.  Numerous studies have shown that when we cease to use our muscles and joints in certain patterns, the ability to perform those patterns diminishes, the same happens with the neuroplasticity of the brain.  That is why it is so important to keep moving and practice full movement patterns.

 

When we move our joints, a lubricating fluid is produced that helps keep them healthy and nourished.  Without movement, this fluid becomes absent and the joints will become stiff, immobile and possibly achy.  This is another reason why joints need to move.

 

Knee pain is often the result of an alignment issue causing excessive friction to the structures surrounding and/or within the joint.  One of the common areas where pain is felt in the knee is under or around the knee cap.  This pain often flares up with activities that produce a forward and down force, such as walking down stairs.  When the knee bends under this kind of pressure, the thigh bone glides forward creating greater tension on the tendons and ligaments surrounding the kneecap and on the cap itself.  If these structures are already exasperated due to another mechanical issue, this simple motion will cause pain.

 

We learned above that movement is important to maintain and restore joint health.  But we don’t want the movement to cause pain.  We need to modify the movement in order to achieve the results we are looking for.

 

The split squat incorporates multiple joints and muscles all important to knee health as well as challenges balance and proprioception.  Its functional carry over is undeniable.  But sore knees don’t like this movement pattern unless we add elevation to that front foot to distribute the load and force appropriately.

 

This video provides a quick overview of why we might elevate the front foot for the split squat and how to perform it properly.

 

Hopefully, you find these tips helpful.  Thanks for watching!

Categories
Lifestyle Training

8 No Equipment Hacks to get your Back Jacked

Need a killer back workout but don't have any equipment or access to gym? No problem!

This video provides no equipment home exercise solutions to get your back jacked! Gravity is a powerful form of resistance. Proper leveraging of your body weight with gravity can provide just as much muscle building stimulus as working with weights. We provide exercises for your lats, mid-back and lower back muscles as well as give you a free workout using the exercises shown in the video. The suggestions in this video range from beginner to advanced and will provide a challenging workout with zero equipment for anyone. If you find this video helpful, please subscribe to my YouTube channel, hit the like button and let us know! For customized training programs, video suggestions or inquires please contact us.

Have something you want me to make a video about? Let me know.

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Lifestyle Training

Free Follow Along Workouts

Amidst all the crazy COVID-19 stuff going on, a couple of my colleagues and I put together some free follow along workout videos to help keep you moving and healthy.  Please share this content with your friends and stay safe and healthy! I hope this finds you well. Enjoy!

Hip Mobility

Lower Body

Upper Body

Pilates with Lisa

Pilates with Anne

Fight Fit with Rob

Categories
Lifestyle Perspectives Training

Successful Changes often take a Paradigm Shift

In making a change that is permanent it’s important to appreciate the small changes that accumulate.  Hitting a home run is always nice, but most games are won by the successive accumulation of base hits. A strategy to keep in mind is to ask yourself what is just a little bit better or a little bit worse than what I’m currently doing now.  In other words, how can you get on base?  An example might be taking an elevator to go up 1 or 2 stories at your condo or work versus taking the stairs to add more movement into your day.  Many people will hear this advice and feel that they need to immediately start taking the stairs every day.  If they miss a day, they feel that they’ve failed, which leads to discouragement and giving up just as fast as you started.  This is an all or nothing mindset that nine times out of ten leads back to where you started.  A shift in perspective needs to happen where you can appreciate the success of making it up the stairs for 4 of those 5 days.  In truth if you make it up those stairs only once during that week, that’s a BIG win because it’s better than what you were doing previously.  You got on base!  This shift in mentality can keep you driven and accumulating the habits required to lead you to your desired outcome.

 

You’re not going to reach your big picture goal overnight or even in a couple of months, so throw those expectations out the window and appreciate and celebrate the small gains achieved over time.  You’re sculpting a masterpiece out of stone.  You won’t see even hints of the final product after only a few chiseled pieces.  It takes hard work, time, patience and the accumulation of many chiseled pieces slowly being removed to shape your work of art.  While some days it may not seem like you’re making a lot of progress, as long as you’re still chipping away changes are occurring.  Sometimes you might need to take a few steps back and change your viewpoint to realize how far you have come.  It’s not as easy as working with Play-Doh, but a stone sculpture will last.

 

Change that sticks comes best from within.  A teacher or coach might be able to plant a seed, give you some suggestions on where to start and provide guidance to streamline the process and keep you moving forward, but the solutions that stick best are the ones that come from within.

Categories
Training

Movement Tip: Get More Out Of Your Hip Flexor Stretch

Tight hip flexors are common these days.  Here’s how to get more out of your hip flexor stretching.

We’re going to use a PNF (proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation) technique, also known as MET (muscle energy technique).  Some benefits of using this over a passive stretch are:

  • Getting a deeper stretch
  • Building a neuromuscular connection
  • Creating mobility, not just flexibility
  • Longer lasting effect

How does this work?  By using a submaximal contraction of the same muscle we are stretching followed by the stretch itself, we can take advantage of a response called autogenic inhibition.  Without getting into the fancy terminology, this basically creates a relaxion response that allows us to sink a little deeper into the stretch.  By contracting the muscle in the lengthened position we’re creating neural pathways that let the brain and body know we can use this muscle in this lengthened state.  Knowing we can use the muscle begins to create a new range of motion that you can build control with.  Control of your flexibility is mobility.  This gives you a longer lasting effect.

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Perspectives Training Uncategorized

Movement Tip: Isometric Low Range Squat

Isometrics can be a great way to strengthen weaknesses throughout a range of motion in a movement.

In this example I’m using an assisted low range isometric squat, but you can take the principle and apply it to anything.  Use that pause to connect with your muscles and feel what’s working, what’s not, what should be.  Take the time while in that pause to figure it out and get everything responding the way it should be and then groove it proper.  You’re only as strong as your weakest link, so find it and strengthen it.

I’ll typically start people between 2-3 sets of 3-6 reps with 5-6 second pauses per rep.  I like this for slowing down mechanics and working on grooving proper patterns.

I’ve found this exercise to be an excellent way to get people comfortable with the bottom position of a squat. (Note:  Make sure the range of motion is there first.)

Categories
Lifestyle Training

Movement Tip: The Banana Stretch

Most of us are one-side dominant in our daily activities.  We typically open doors, carry groceries, get in and out of vehicles more frequently on one side than the other.  Over time these unconscious movements add up and create imbalances in our body which can sometimes lead to insidious aches pains or injuries.  One of my favorite stretches that can both expose imbalances from left to right and help restore some balance is the Banana Stretch.  Here’s a quick video tutorial! Hope you enjoy!

The Banana Stretch can also be performed in a door frame.
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Lifestyle Perspectives Training Uncategorized

Tips for Healthy hips!

Our hips play a huge role in our mobility.  They are at the center of where all the action takes place.  Just about every way we move involves the hip joint in some capacity, whether it be direct or indirect when we initiate movement, forces travel through the area.  It’s needless to say that keeping them healthy will have a huge impact in our overall well being and quality of life.

So, how do we keep them healthy you ask?  With 21 muscles crossing this incredible piece of architecture you might think that the answer is going to be complex.  Many experts will give you numerous stretches and exercises to take to task however the most important thing to do is keep them greased by keeping them moving regularly through all their movement ranges.  This is something that should be done daily however most of us have set patterns throughout our day that have us using our hips in a very limited capacity and so they become limited to that.

There are 6 primary ranges of motion that the hip joint provides for us:

Flexion – when the thigh bone moves forward ahead of the hip.

Extension – when the thigh bones moves backward behind the hip.

Abduction – when the thigh bone moves out to the side of the hip.

Adduction – when the thigh bones moves across our mid-line.

External Rotation – when the thigh bone rotates so that the knee points out away from the body.

Internal Rotation – when the thigh bone rotates so that the knee points in toward the body.

Do you move your hips through all these ranges in a deliberate manner daily?  Chances are that you don’t and by limiting the range of motion and freedom of your hips the cascade effect of compensatory patterns and the insidious onset of pain occurs.

To help mitigate this terrible outcome, I’m going to provide you with one simple dance that takes just seconds to perform to keep those hips greased and mobile daily.  Whether you’re young, old or currently experience some form of discomfort, this little jig has got you covered.  I have to give full credit to Kevin Darby, strength coach/educator extraordinaire and the authority in Canada for Fascial Stretch Therapy, as I picked this up from his playbook.

You can read this description, but the video provides a clear and easy visual as well as instructions.  While my mother is from South America, you’ll see that I clearly didn’t inherit those well greased dance hips often associated with South American populations.  Enjoy!

The Dance:

Step 1:  Take one foot and plant it to the ground.  Remember, plants don’t move so this foot will stay where it is for the whole dance as we maneuver around it.

Step 2: Take your other foot and step forward. (Planted foot hip is now in extension)

Step 3: Take that same foot and step back. (Planted foot hip is now in flexion)

Step 4: Now take a step across your planted foot to the side. (Planted foot hip is now in adduction)

Step 5: Step over to the other side. (Planted foot hip is now in abduction)

Step 6: Step back over to the other side crossing that planted foot and facing your whole body that way. (Planted foot hip is now in internal rotation)

Step 7: Now step back over to the other side again and rotate your whole body to face that direction without moving that planted foot.  (Planted foot hip is now in external rotation)

Can you see how we’ve just covered all of the primary ranges of motion for our hip?  It’s genius!  You can repeat these steps and each time you go through them as your hip frees up, you can take larger and deeper steps increasing the range of motion.

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Perspectives Training Uncategorized

Avoiding Knee Pain During Hill Training

We have an annual hill climb challenge at Active Life Condition called the Grind.  It’s about a 2.2km trail that ascends 237m up Blue Mountain in Collingwood, Ontario.  With this challenge seems to come a sudden increase in the amount of hill climb training volume and in the past, this has led to the surfacing of knee aches and pains.  I wanted to highlight an often-overlooked weakness that can contribute to knee pain to help mitigate these issues.

Often the knee itself isn’t the initial problem but becomes the primary concern when other structures in the body aren’t functioning optimally.  Hips and ankles are the two most common areas that directly effect the health of your knee.  When we look at the biomechanics of a hill climb, due to the incline and increased forward angle of the torso, the demand placed through the hips differs from walking or running on a flat surface.  The force that is driven through the ankle and foot also changes dramatically due to these angles and combining this with the uneven ground surface of a trail, the demand for ankle and foot mobility intensifies as well.  Having the stability and awareness to maintain the proper alignment to channel these forces through your body in the safest most efficient manner is crucial, and what we often see is the poor knee having to take up the slack being sandwiched between rigid or unstable hips and ankles.

The glutes get a lot of attention when it comes to hills or stairs, but I find the hip flexors tend to be a little more overlooked.  With an incline they are required to move the thigh higher into a range of motion often not used and generally weaker.  This leaves them prone to quicker fatigue and compensatory patterns occurring to achieve the hip flexion movement.  The videos below lend an explanation as well as an exercise tip to help create strength within this range.  Remember, this is just one of many things that could be occurring, it’s important look at the big picture, and take everything into consideration.  Enjoy!