Bodyweight Essential : The Plank

The pull-up & push-up exercises are without question two of the premiere movements in fitness. They remain a staple in building lean muscle and strengthening the upper body. Although not definite but if a third exercise were to follow the aforementioned movements, it’ll be the plank. Arguably the most universally preferred choice for developing the core and abdominals, the plank has been around for years and is as ancient as the squat. Planking requires virtually no equipment and can literally be performed anywhere thus making it a favorite for working the abs amongst many fineness enthusiasts.

The simplest way to get into a plank position is by first getting into a push-up position. From there, bend your elbows to 90-degrees and ensure that your shoulders are directly above your elbows. With your weight resting on your forearms and your legs fully extended, the exercise commences by holding that position for as long as possible. Ensure that there’s alignment from your head through your shoulder blades, butt and feet. The plank is an anti-extension exercise which means the lumbar spine will naturally want to ‘sag’ or go into lumbar extension and you have to resist it for the movement to be effective.

plank_483x350_11161182

 

When performed correctly, the plank develops the rectus abdominis, anterior core stabilizers, lumbar spine, quadriceps, glutes and shoulders. It requires major involvement of the shoulder girdle thereby making it difficult for those with preexisting shoulder pain. Individuals with chronic shoulder pain should seek out regressed versions of this movement (more on that later). Different metric standards exist for the plank making it difficult to determine what hold time is considered ideal. Some older individuals may not be able to hold a 1-minute plank while a 25-year old female could easily hold a 2-minute plank. As a rule of thumb, hold your plank for as long as possible and until your abs and shoulder start to burn.

For those interested in some challenge and competition, the world record for the longest plank belongs to Mao Weidong of China with a time of 4 hours 26 minutes and was set in September 2014.

If you enjoy doing the plank and would like to add some new challenges, here are a few progressions:

1. Body Saw Plank: This progression of the plank requires a TRX, stability ball or gliders. Set up the way you would for a regular plank but with your feet and legs placed on top or attached to either of the aforementioned accessories. From that position, glide your entire body back as far as possible while keeping your forearms stationary and then glide it forward as far possible again. If using a stability ball, the forearms should be mounted on a bench with legs extended on the ball. The advantage of the body saw plank is that it’s quick and it eliminates what could potentially be a long hold time. This is ideal for individuals pressed for time.

2. Plank on a Stability Ball: The unstable surface of a stability ball presents a unique challenge. Going from planking on the floor to planking on an unstable surface proprioceptively forces the body to adapt to new demands. Balance and motor control are enhanced thus forcing the abdominal muscles to react in a way it never did with the conventional plank. Variations include legs on ball/hands fully extended on the floor, forearms on ball/feet on the ground, hands fully extended on ball/feet on the ground and forearms on bench/legs extended on ball. Due to the advanced nature of this exercise, many people will have a hard time mastering it initially. Take your time in perfecting the old-fashioned plank before adding this progression to your routine.

exercise-ball-planks_-_step_2.max.v1stability-ball-plank-ex_0stability-ball-plankswiss-ball-plankfeetbench-male

 

3. Lifting One Leg/One Arm Up: This is a very challenging progression of the plank so it must be carefully performed. This progression is performed by either lifting one leg up or one arm so you’re planking on only 3 of your 4 limbs. To plank on leg, simply lift either your left or right leg just a few inches off the ground. A higher lift will result in more gluteal activation. To plank on one arm, take one hand off the ground and extend it in front of your or place it on your opposite shoulder. The latter requires the hands to be fully extended. With either progression, the body will naturally want to rotate and you must resist falling to one side. The anti-rotation component coupled with anti-extension makes this progression ideal for strengthening the entire abdominal region.

1101-plank-leg-liftPlank-1-arm-popsugar.com_IMG_2640

 

4. Plank Push-Up: This creative plank progression combines a traditional plank and a push up making it a great bang-for-your-buck choice for effectively targeting the abdominals, chest, triceps  and anterior deltoid. To perform this exercise, assume a plank position. From there, extend both your elbows one at a time until you’re in a full push-up position. Reverse the actions by bending both of your elbows and return to a plank. You can alternate hands or continually push off the same hand, though the former is more effective because both arms will be put to work. Intensity can be measured in reps (from plank position to push-up is 1 rep) or timed.

For those dealing with chronic shoulder pain, planking on a bench can be just as effective as planking on the floor. While holding until the abs begin to get a good burn is always recommended, the exercise should be discontinued if the shoulder region begins to flare up. Individuals with torn shoulder labrums and rotator cuff injuries should be especially conscious of this. This regression is also ideal for beginners who lack adequate core strength.

45-plank-female

 

If you routinely perform planks and have never done any of the progressions, trying adding some of them to your workouts. Most plank variations can be done anywhere which means you can do them in the office on a quick break or at home during a TV commercial break of your favorite shows. Exercises like Deadlift, Squat and Overhead Press can improve plank strength and hold time because of the recruitment of the lumbar muscles in the aforementioned exercises. It’s no surprise that individuals who are great at planking also perform compound movements.

I’ll talk about the side plank (the sister exercise to the traditional plank) on another post.

 

Advertisements

Bottled Water Vs. Tap Water : Which is better?

Water is arguably the most essential nutrient for mankind’s survival. It is as important to the human existence as air itself. Water plays a plethora of roles in the body such as cleaning out toxic waste, aiding in digestion, strengthening the immune system, weight loss and increased energy to name a few. Fortunately for many of us in the western world region, we have unlimited access to water which is certainly a good thing.

However, in recent years, several debates have emerged as to what type of water is the best. Most water drinkers, and an overwhelming majority of fitness enthusiasts, drink bottled water. Poland Springs, Dasani, Smart Water and Aquafina are some of the top brands of water that grace the floors of fitness centers. Not too many people drink tap water for fear of contamination and uncleanliness. In fact there are perceptions among water drinkers that tap water shouldn’t be consumed at all and can cause harm to the body.

So is tap water really unsafe for us?

Well, not exactly.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  is the United States Federal Agency that regulates water in America. This means water goes through inspection for safety before it is run through pipelines to our homes. In 1974, the EPA passed the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) which stipulates that safe, drinking water must be inspected and made available to the public. According to the EPA, tap water, if regulated, is just as safe as bottled water. Although bottled water is regulated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), it isn’t any safer or cleaner than tap water. The mere thought that water is packaged and presented in a sealed bottle gives water drinkers the belief that it is superior to tap water. This doesn’t mean bottled water isn’t safe. The EPA regulates and monitors tap water just as strictly as the FDA does to bottled water.

If you’re indecisive about what type of water to drink, here are a few things to consider:

Geographical Area: Thanks in large part to their population, New York and San Francisco have some of cleanest water in the country. In fact most inner cities have clean water. However, rural areas and farming towns may not be so lucky. If you live in one of these area, contact your local water agency and have them come test your water. Dialing 311 and speaking with an operator may also provide some useful information about your town’s water supply. The EPA website has tons of information on how to assess the safety of your water.

Use A Filter When In Doubt: Water filters have made it easier to comfortably ensure that the tap water we drink is clean and purified. The primary objective of a water filter is to remove contaminants and harmful chemicals from tap water. Top brands like Brita even highlight the exact contaminants that are targeted during filtering. Some modern filters can actually be attached directly to your faucet so water quickly goes from unfiltered to filtered as it gushes out. Keep in mind that many bottled waters are in fact filtered tap water so you may be better off filtering your own water while saving money and plastic.

Know The Source Of Your Water: Most big cities get their tap water from a community public water system that is supported by the SDWA. However in some rural towns, water supply is drawn from private wells. It is important to know that the SDWA does not cover private wells and bottled water. If your town’s source of water is a private well, your water could be at risk for chlorine and other hazardous organic chemicals. Many houses built during or before the 1970s contain lead-containing pipes which could also contaminate the water in the house. In both of these cases, contact your local water agency and have them come run a water test.

Special Situations Call For Bottled Water: Some people with unique medical conditions are better off drinking bottled water. Cancer and HIV patients can be very sensitive to even the smallest contaminant from tap water, especially while on certain medications. Drinking tap water of even filtered can reduce the functionality of the immune system. If you’re one of these people, ask your doctor for the best option.

Simple ways to fix muscle aches and pains

I can almost certainly say with conviction that virtually every person I know has some type of body ache, discomfort, pain and/or inflammation. The fact of that matter is as impactful as exercise is on the body, it inevitably won’t prevent us from experiencing some sort of muscle ache or pain at some point in our lives. For the majority of us, the stress and demands of life, work, school, companionships, family time and even gym time will ultimately fatigue the body and cause it to function less optimally in most cases.

How many times have you or someone you know felt a back ache, shoulder tightness or hip discomfort and wondered where it came from? That’s because when muscles are stressed repeatedly via strength training, home chores, manual labor, prolonged seating to name a few, the deep fascia of muscle fibers (innermost muscles tissue that surround bones, nerves and blood vessels) become wound and tangled up and begins to limit movements which can affect range of motion. On the contrary, superficial fibers are what we stretch on the surface and body of the skin like a basic lying hamstring stretch for example.

Here are 4 ways to to permanently fix and cure your aches and pains:

1. Soft Tissue Work: If you don’t already include soft tissue work in your exercise program, you ought to. Foam rollers, lacrosse/tennis ball and deep tissue massages make up this elite category. I believe it is one of the most underestimated areas of body care and maintenance. Soft tissue work can be unpleasant. In fact, it isn’t pleasant at all. If you’ve ever used a foam roller or lacrosse/tennis ball on your self, you know the feeling I’m referring to. Though painful and uncomfortable, soft tissue work allows collagen fibers of those deep fascia to untangle and loosen up, thus promoting efficient blood flow in muscles. This in turn translates into warmer and more relaxed muscles and better mobility in the joints.

2. Stretching: We all need to stretch more. It’s as simple and blunt as that. It’s quite alarming how many seasoned fitness enthusiasts lack adequate flexibility (Don’t worry, I’m one of them!). Part of the problem is that when it comes to relieving stress and endorphins kicking in, stretching pales in comparison to traditional strength training and just ins’t considered “fun”. As a result, many of us do it infrequently and when we do, it’s quick and fast. Here’s the thing: Stretching may not yield the benefits of a barbell squat or bench press, it is a vital component for movement patterns. To move efficiently and effectively, we must stretch. Tendons connect muscles to bone so in order for a joint to function well, the muscles around it must be stretched. Passive and PNF stretching are the best types and can be done anytime. While it’s important to stretch the entire body, emphasis should be placed mostly on tight muscles.

3. Corrective Exercise Training: This has been one of the most controversial areas of fitness over the last several years. By definition, corrective exercise training is the fixing of imbalances, weaknesses and muscle pain via traditional and nontraditional methods of training. It has become a staple in many training programs and a mainstream component of fitness. Corrective exercises were originally designed to fix and correct muscular imbalances that affect movement patterns, fix injury-related pain and alleviate chronic muscle tightness.

I’m all for using corrective exercises when warranted. However, it appears many exercise enthusiasts & fitness professionals today design their programs strictly around corrective exercise and that bothers me. If the underlying issue has been corrected, why keep correcting? If you’re unable to hinge low enough in a squat, strengthening and activating your hip external rotators and stretching your hamstrings & adductors should be part of the corrective remedy. Once those areas are addressed, it’s time to squat. Many people continue to utilize corrective training even after the problem is addressed. I’m a proponent of corrective exercise training and I believe it has a place in fitness. But it shouldn’t be overused and definitely shouldn’t make up an an entire workout program. Regardless of the individual or training goals and objectives, compound movements should always take precedence. They’ve been tried and tested over time.

4. Progressively Overloading: Most of us know in order to continue to see results and yield dividends, we must continually add new challenges to out workouts, whether it be more resistance, less rest between sets, more sets and/or more reps. However some of us overload too soon, not allowing the body to adapt to the early demands. Progressive Overload, gradually adding resistance to strength exercises, must be approached steadily. Going from bench pressing 100 pounds in week 1 to 150 pounds in week 2 may be too much of an overload. The central nervous system gets a shock each time we exercise, which forces the muscles of the body to respond by getting strong and growing. However if the shock goes from a mild state to a more severe state, the joints and muscles panic at the arrival of an unexpected tension and that usually causes injury. Think of it as a first time driver who goes from driving at 55 mph in week 1 to all of a sudden 85 mph in the second week. It’s very likely that new driver will be not be comfortable at 85 mph in only his/her 2nd week of driving and may lose control of his/her vehicle. Whether you’re a newbie in the gym or a seasoned lifter who took a month off, always start with a mild to moderate intensity and progressively and wisely overload.

 

5 Healthy & Fun Facts About Chia Seeds

Chia seeds maybe one of the hidden nutrition gems in the health and wellness industry. For those unfamiliar, chia is an edible, whole-grain seed that originates from  Salvia hispanica, a historical Mexican plant that dates back to the 16th century. They are rich in protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and tons of fiber!

Here are a few fun facts about chia seeds and why you need to include them in your diet if you’re not already doing so:

1. Fiber: Chia seeds are very rich in fiber, packing a whopping 11 grams per ounce, which is about one-third of the daily recommended intake. Fiber, as we all know, aids in maintenance of the digestive system, elimination of toxic waste from the body and avoiding curbing food cravings because of their ability to keep you full faster. Basically they prevent you from overeating.

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: By now many of us know the role healthy fats play in keeping our organs functioning at a high level. Omega-3 fatty acids is one of such healthy fats and they can be found in chia seeds as well. About 5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids can be found in an ounce of chia seeds, more than the amount in a single salmon. Remember our bodies can’t manufacture omega-3 fatty acids so we must obtain them from outside sources.

3. Protein: One ounce of chia seeds is also packed with nearly 5 grams of protein, making it another great source of protein for exercisers and fitness enthusiasts. Protein, as we all know, is an essential macronutrient for the development of lean tissue and maintenance of muscle and bone.

4. Calcium & Joint Pain: Consumption of chia seeds has been linked to reduction of osteoporosis and arthritic conditions in some people. This is due to its moderately-high calcium content of about 20 percent of the daily recommended intake. Those who are lactose-intolerant or those looking for a dairy-free calcium source can look to chia seeds as an alternative.

5. The Best Type: You can pick up chia seeds in most supermarkets or via www.nuts.com, a great site for all types of healthy nuts and seeds. However I prefer Nature’s Intent Organic Chia Seeds. It is certified organic by the USDA and also gluten-free, making a staple for those with gluten sensitivity. Whole Foods and Costco have organic versions of chia seeds.

photo-2

 

Chia seeds can be mixed with and sprinkled over cereals, oatmeal, beans, protein shakes and other beverages, cottage cheese, yogurt and pudding. They can also be used as an additive in baking snacks and foods or can simply be eaten raw.

5 interesting facts about caffeine

Walk into any coffee shop during the morning work commute rush and you’re bound to see long lines of people eagerly waiting to ingest some caffeine into their systems. As an avid coffee drinker myself, the lines at these coffee shops amusingly make us look like a bunch of wild, thirsty zombies looking to devour on fresh blood. Maybe its addiction but coffee consumption has become an essential part of the American way of living, thanks in large part of its superb boosting effects on the body. Caffeinated drinks like RedBull and coffee have been linked to exercise performance enhancement. People are often seen in gyms sipping on these beverages during their workouts. The truth is caffeine is here to stay and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Here are 5 interesting facts about caffeine:

1). Caffeine Reigns Supreme: Research shows that approximately 90 percent of Americans consume caffeine in one form or another everyday and over 50 percent of American adults consume over 300 milligrams of caffeine each day. So many of us rely on coffee to help jumpstart our day and can feel withdrawn and cranky without it sometimes. Annual coffee revenue alone in America is about $30 billion with another $70 million coming from soft beverages and drinks. Caffeine is by far America’s most popular drug.

2). Easy Access: Caffeine is the most readily available drug choice of Americans and the numbers back it up. About 75 percent of the caffeine consumption of the average American comes from coffee. Coffee shops and sales continue to skyrocket across the nation. This chart breaks down the numbers over the last decade and projects a bright future. More than 15,000 coffee shops were established between 2002 and 2014 and the numbers are only going to get better. However easy access sometimes means too much caffeine consumption which has been linked to nausea, insomnia, upset stomach and fast heartbeat.

3). Performance Enhancement: Up until the 90’s, caffeine was thought to have no impact on exercise and athletic performance. However several studies since then have proven otherwise and today many people consume coffee prior to their workouts. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) concluded in a research that caffeine consumption enhances performance in long, endurance exercises (running, group exercise class, etc) and short, intense activities (1RM test, 3 sets of barbell squat, etc). Studies on the impact of coffee on moderately-intense workouts (full body, split routine, etc) lasting more than 30 minutes remain inconclusive. Though many of the preworkout supplements used by weightlifters contain caffeine, it is the other powerful ingredients like arginine and nitric oxide that make them highly effective.

4). Diuretic & Dehydration: Too much consumption of caffeinated beverages will not cause dehydration, like many studies show. Lack of sufficient water is the main cause for dehydration. However ingestion of coffee and other beverages does act as a diuretic on the body. Though water is also a diuretic, drinking too much coffee and not enough water could lead to dehydration and potentially affect exercise performance. Some bodybuilders and bikini athletes rely on the natural diuretic benefits of coffee in shedding excess water weight from their bodies rather than take diuretic supplements. Whatever fluid you consume via caffeinated beverages is generally offset with fluid that  is lost via urination.

5). Darker Isn’t Necessarily Stronger: Contrary to what many coffee drinkers think, dark roast coffee does not contain more caffeine than light roast coffee. In fact, it is the other way around. During preparation of the dark roast coffee, the beans are left to roast under the fire for a very long time thus stripping away majority of the caffeine content. The dark in dark roast is usually a result of the burn accumulated. In light roast coffee, the beans only cook for a short amount of time in order to preserve a vast majority of the coffee. Keep in mind that the amount of creamer and sugar you put in your coffee can impact the effectiveness of the caffeine.

 

One exercise only to do for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a question on my Facebook page asking my fellow fitness enthusiasts if they had to pick just one, what single exercise would they do for the rest of their lives. I received a lot of interesting responses including popular movements like squat, deadlift and push-ups. The fact of the matter is any exercise is good for the body so from that perspective any exercise is better than no exercise at all. But lets say, hypothetically, we could only perform one exercise for the rest of  our lives, which one would take precedence? Are there certain movements that are more impactful on the body than others?

Without a doubt!

Compound movements will obviously be favored because of their multi-joint actions. But as all-encompassing as compound movements are, they  don’t engage all muscle groups. Regardless, a few muscles will be left unworked. So how does one select the ideal exercise to perform for the rest of their lives?

I can make a case for 4.

1) A Case For The Deadlift: If you deadlift on a regular basis, you know it is one of the most whole-body engaging movements. Its functional impact on the body also makes it a staple in every workout program. The entire posterior chain gets worked from the upper trapezius muscles to the lats, erector spinae, gluteus muscle group and hamstrings. There’s also emphasis on the anterior core, quads, biceps, forearms and grip enhancement. Very few movements offer a barometer for strength like the deadlift due to its biomechincal physiology. The term ‘dead’ in deadlift essentially means picking up a dead weight from the ground which requires a great deal of effort and precision. It is why so many people hurt their backs when picking up items from the floor because their kinetic chain isn’t mechanically aware and alert enough. The deadlift corrects and addresses the problem while strengthening the body over time.

Although the chest, triceps and shoulders don’t get a lot of work, the fact that two-thirds of the body is engaged during this movement makes it an ideal exercise to perform for life.

2) A Case For The Squat: Widely considered as the premier exercise, the barbell back squat remains an essential component for weight loss, strength and lean muscle. It remains an assessment tool for many fitness professionals. Though I’d argue that the deadlift can and should replace the squat in assessment protocols due to the fact that preexisting knee and back ailments can affect a person trying to perform the latter. But I digress. The squat and deadlift are by far the two most functional movements in fitness, partly due to to their hip-hinging similarities  and identical muscle groups that are used. There are over 600 muscles in the body and squat is known to work about half of them! That alone is a good incentive to pick the squat as the ideal exercise to perform. Glutes, quads hamstrings, anterior core and upper back are some of the engaged muscles.

The only drawback, which I mentioned earlier, is knee and back pain can make back squatting difficult and unable to perform. Compressive forces from a loaded barbell on a weak lumbar spine could discourage an exerciser from doing squat. Although variations like the front squat (an ideal replacement for those with knee and back pain) and single-leg squat exist, they require near-perfect precision and execution and can take a while to master (the Bulgarian Split Squat being the exception). All things considered, the squat remains a great exercise and in my estimation, one of the two most important exercises (the deadlift being the other).

3). A Case For The Push-Up: By far the most popular exercise and best for working the upper body, the push-up is as ancient as Greek gods and is here to stay. Simply put, no exercise targets the pecs, anterior core, shoulders and triceps like the push-up. Keep in mind that the traditional bench press is a derivative of the push-up so both exercises are essentially the same. But unlike the bench press, the push-up requires no equipment and no set-up and can be done virtually anywhere so from that standpoint, it is more advantageous to many exercisers. Variations like the one-hand push-up, feet elevated push-ups, plyo push-ups, T-push-ups, atomic push-ups and band push-ups make for unique and interesting challenges, one disadvantage with the bench press.

There is little to no engagement of the lower body during a push-up which could come as a detriment later in life to someone who choses to make it their only exercise. That’s the only case against the push-up. Aside from that, it is the ultimate upper body builder.

4). A Case For Walking: As impactful and popular as the push-up is, not many people can perform it well or do enough of them. Walking is the one activity everyone can relate to. Barring any chronic knee or ankle condition, walking is the simplest and easiest physical activity to do. It is why so many health experts and professionals recommend it as part of an exercise regimen to lose weight, lower blood pressure and high cholesterol and promote a healthy lifestyle because all it requires is for you to just get up and move. Simple! So many people enjoy walking and have reaped benefits via weight loss, mood and overall positive state of mind. Believe it or not, walking can also be made challenging and walking programs do exist for its lovers. For an in-depth look at these programs, take a look at this blog post I wrote a while back.

As ubiquitous as it is, walking just fails to address many of the musculoskeletal needs of the body. While fat loss can occur via walking, so can lean muscle. Power, muscle mass and raw strength cannot be achieved through walking, regardless of the distance covered. On a more encouraging note, walking is the only activity that has the lowest risk for injury and can be done by people of all ages.

5 Nontraditional Ways To Workout With Minimal Gym Equipment

By now we know that in order to lose weight, build lean muscle and get strong, resistance training has to be routinely performed. For many of us who resistance train, barbell and dumbbell exercises form the foundation of our workouts and rightfully so. However, there are some of us who may not always have access to a gym to perform a barbell squat or deadlift. Furthermore, there are also people who have to travel for work so much that they end up spending more time in hotels than at their homes.

Not having access to a gym can be discouraging for fitness enthusiasts and while a hotel gym is encouraging for those who travel a lot, many of them lack the basic equipment. The good news is that resistance training can be performed and even made challenging without the use of barbells, cable machines and dumbbells.

Here are 5 nontraditional ways to resistance train:

1. BODYWEIGHT TRAINING : This is unquestionably the easiest and simplest way to workout the body because all you need is your bodyweight and decent amount of room. The human body is designed to move in a plethora of directions and planes so multi-planar movements are made available. Keep in mind that in order to illicit a good physiological response from bodyweight exercises (Here’s my top 10 list), a structured program which allows for supersets, progressions and a short amount of rest is recommended. For example, if you can easily do 20 push-ups with minimal effort, try progressing to both feet elevated on a bench or lift one leg up.

Sample Bodyweight Training Program: Perform the exercises in each group 3 times, completing a group first before moving on to the next.

A1) Bodyweight Squat

A2) Push-Up

A3) Plank

B1) Reverse Lunge

B2)  Pull/Chin Up (If no access to a bar, then substitute for Scapular Wall Slide)

B3) Side Bridge

C1) Burpees

C2) Jumping Jacks

2) TRX SUSPENSION TRAINING : TRX training has become a mainstream phenomenon and it’s here to stay. Just like bodyweight training, TRX training can be done virtually anywhere, however it allows for more progressions and challenges than bodyweight training. What I like about the TRX is that nearly all the exercises force the core musculature to work a little harder than in a traditional setting because the body will always try to resist movement in every plane.

Sample TRX Workout: Perform the exercises in each group 3 times, completing a group first before moving on to the next.

A1) TRX Squat OR Single Leg Squat OR Overhead Squat

A2) TRX Push Up

B1) TRX Bulgarian Split Squat

B2) TRX Inverted Row

C1) TRX Roll-Out

C2) TRX Mountain Climbers

3) KETTLEBELL TRAINING : Although Kettlebells have been around for quite some time and a bit popular than the TRX, it appears that the only exercise I see most Kettlebell users do is the Kettlebell Swing. The Swing is by far the most popular KB exercise and a great one too. But there are  a multitude of exercises that can be performed with the KB. It’s important to know that handling of a KB requires thorough practice and possibly  coaching so if you’re unfamiliar with some movements, take time in learning the nuances first.

Sample Kettlebell Program: Perform the exercises in each group 3 times, completing a group first before moving on to the next.

A1) KB Front Squat (Unilateral or Bilateral; If Unilateral, perform the same number of reps on other side)

A2) KB Row (45-degree trunk hinge. Unilateral or Bilateral; If Unilateral, perform the same number of reps on other side)

B1) KB Single-Leg RDL (Contralateral)

B2) KB Push Press (Unilateral)

C1) KB Clean

C2) KB Swings

4) RESISTANCE BANDS :  Another inexpensive way to workout from a nontraditional perspective is the use of bands. Although the resistance bands with handles are the most popular, other versions like the thera-band and monster bands also exists. The resistance and monster bands allow for the most variety. Bands have the biomechanical advantage of constantly keeping tension in the muscles due to the elastic nature of them. This tension inevitably puts more emphasis on the concentric portion on the lift because it discourages you from relaxing or resting too long during the eccentric phase.

Sample Resistance Band Workout: Perform the exercises in each group 3 times, completing a group first before moving on to the next.

A1) Band-Resisted Squat

A2) Band-Resisted Push-Up

B1)  X-Band Walk

B2) 1-Arm Band Row

C1)  Band-Resisted Trunk Twist

C2) Band-Resisted Plank

5) GLIDERS: If you’re unfamiliar with this accessory, it looks just like one of those plastic plates you eat from at barbecues and cookouts. In fact, glider training can be successfully substituted with paper plates and they work on just about any floor surface. However smooth, bumpy-free concrete floors allow for the most rhythm and variety. The unique challenge with glider training is that you’re forced to work a little harder during the concentric phase because your feet and hands must drag or move the glider each time.

Sample Glider Training Program: Perform the exercises in each group 3 times, completing a group first before moving on to the next.

A1) Glider Alternating Reverse Lunge

A2) Glider Push-Up Fly (Modified or Regular)

B1) Glider Supine Hamstring Curl (Unilateral or Bilateral)

B2) Glider Prone Crunch

C1) Glider Bodysaw

C2) Glider Mountain Climbers

 

  • Make sure you warm-up the body dynamically and via some soft-tissue work to promote the flow of blood and oxygen to working muscles.
  • Notice I did not include specific number of reps because I want you to use good  judgement in determining that for yourself. If you perform 15 bodyweight squats on your first set and feel little to no challenge, perhaps you should perform 20 on your next set.
  • Because you won’t be doing any max effort work, keep your rest time between exercises and sets as minimal as possible. I recommend no longer than 90 seconds.
  • Another great way to make nontraditional training challenging is by documenting your workouts. This allows you to set new challenges and prevent you from regressing. For example if you rested 75 seconds between your TRX sets in week 1, increase the challenge by resting for 60 seconds in week 2.