Tag Archives: extreme conditioning

6 Must Include Total Body Medicine Ball Exercises

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

In our exploration of multiple pieces of equipment to use while adopting a more #Functional approach to training, medicine ball exercises are an excellent resource. Available in varying sizes and weights, these weighted spheres can help improve muscular power and sports performance. Medicine balls can be thrown and caught making for explosive movements that can improve overall athletic ability.

When choosing the correct medicine ball weight, pick a ball that is heavy enough to slow the motion, but not so heavy that control, accuracy, or range of motion loose control. Set a goal of 10 to 15 reps—or as many as you can do with good form.

Below are @fitnesspropelled 6 total body #MedicineBall exercises.

1) Squat with overhead press

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Stand with feet together shoulder width apart, holding a medicine ball in front of the chest in both hands. Lower down to a squat and on the return to a standing position reach the medicine ball straight overhead into a military press. Repeat.

2) Lunge with a twist

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  • Engage your core, standing hip width apart with shoulders relaxed. Holding a medicine ball a few inches in front of the chest, step forward into a lunge with the right leg. Extended arms, reach the medicine ball to the right, rotating the torso at the same time. Maintain the lunge and return to center. Come to standing, then lunge with the other leg (and rotate to the left this time).

3) Rolling push-ups

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  • Start into #High-plank with a medicine ball under one hand, and lower the chest toward the floor to perform a push-up. Return to #high-plank and roll the ball to the other hand. Repeat.

4) Wall Pass

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  • Find the nearest med ball-safe wall. Stand about 3 to 4 feet in front of it, holding a medicine ball with both hands. Get into an athletic stance, with a slight bend in the knees, and the core engaged. Bring the ball to the chest, and firmly throw it at the wall and catch the ball on its return. Repeat at a steady, yet quick pace.

5) Triceps extensions

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  • Stand in a comfortable stance, with the core engaged. Hold a medicine ball in both hands with the arms extended overhead, inner arms grazing the ears Bend the elbows, lowering the ball behind the head until the arms form a 45-degree angle. Squeeze the triceps to straighten the arms, bringing the ball back to the starting position. Repeat.

6) Roman twists

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  • Sit on a gym mat holding a medicine ball in both hands. To start hold the medicine ball out in front of you with straight arms. Twist the torso to the left and then to the right, reaching and planting the medicine ball on the floor toward each hips side. Repeat.

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References:

25 Must-Try Medicine Ball Exercises – BY NICOLE MCDERMOTThttp://greatist.com/fitness/25-must-try-medicine-ball-exercises

3 Fast Twitch Muscle Exercises to Improve Running Performance

By: Geoff Rubin, Fitness Propelled, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Improving running performance is multi-faceted; the aim of this article is to focus on exercises related to fast twitch muscle fibers and explains a general overview of their function.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers:

Type II fibers are involved in any activity that includes a quick explosive movement or the rapid development of power. Most common applicable example would be football players and track and field athletes.   Type II fibers develop more power then Type I or slow twitch muscle fibers because the Type IIx fiber can contract 10 times faster than the Type I fiber. The more adept you become at recruiting your Type II fibers; the more power you can develop. This leads to faster sprint times and decreased mile times for more focused short distance runs.

Two Types of Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers:

1) Type IIa (Fast Twitch, Oxidative-Glycolytic)

  • High number of mitochondria
  • Can use both fat stores and glycogen stores for energy
  • Resistant to fatigue and recover quickly
  • Good for fast, repetitive, low-intensity activity. Bodybuilders possess high numbers of Type IIa muscle fibers, and research suggests they play a big role in muscle size.

2) Type IIx (Fast Twitch, Non-Oxidative)

  • Low number of mitochondria
  • Large in diameter
  • Fast fatiguing
  • Good for high-intensity, large-power output, such as track/field events and power lifting.

Training for Fast-Twitch Muscle Fibers:

There are a number of ways to increase your ratio of Type II fibers—heavy strength training, speed training, plyometric training and Olympic lift training. Training does a few things:

  1. Hypertrophy or growth of the Type II fibers, increasing their power output.
  2. Help recruit, put them into applicable use of Type II fibers faster.
  3. Change Type I fibers to Type II fibers.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Workouts:

1) Dumbbell reverse lunges with quick switches utilizing jumps:

Preparation:

  • Stand holding a pair of dumbbells at your sides, with your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Ensure you have at least a few feet of clearance behind you.
  • Start with your chest out, head up, and a slight bend in your knees.

Exercise:

Step backward with your right leg, landing on the ball of the foot, then bend both knees to lower yourself to the floor. (Make sure to step back far enough so your front knee is behind the toes at the bottom of the movement.) When your front thigh is parallel with the floor, extend your knees and hips to stand back up to the start position. Alternate legs with jumps or quick transitions every rep.

2) Box jumps w/ kettlebell:

Preparation:

  • Obtain a plyometric box between 12-36 inches, depending on your abilities.
  • Grab a kettlebell where you can do 8-12 repetitions rather quickly.
  • Ensure you have enough room to safely land and clear jumps. Preferably 5ft by 5ft.

Exercise:

Assume an athletic position, with your feet about shoulder-width apart, at a comfortable distance from the box. Start the box jump by quickly getting into a quarter squat while hinging at the hips to engage the hamstrings and gluteus. Place and keep your hands at the crest of the kettlebell, so both hands are holding the bell. Hold the kettlebell close to your chest, just below chin level. Then, forcefully extend your hips, swing your arms and push your feet though the floor to propel yourself onto the box. Focus on landing lightly on top of the box with your knees slightly above 90 degrees with your chest up. Hold for two to three seconds, stand tall, and step back down. Repeat.

3) Deadlift followed by a squat jumps

Preparation:

  • Set an Olympic straight bar on the ground and load it with appropriate weight.
  • Ensure your space is clear and that you have enough room to work.

Exercise

Stand with feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead or slightly outward (no wider than 11 and 1 o’clock). The balls of the feet should line up under the bar. With knees slightly bent and hands gripping the bar slightly outside of legs, hinge forward from hips. With the bar close to shins, keep head up, eyes looking forward, chest out, and back flat. Inhale. Keeping the bar close to the body, exhale as you work to straighten the legs — drive through the heels, not the toes — and bring the weight up past knees. Keep core engaged throughout the entire movement (this helps protect the spine) and finish by thrusting the hips into alignment with the feet and squeezing your glutes. Maintaining a straight back, slowly hinge forward at the hips (allow knees to bend a little at the same time) and lower the bar back to the ground. That is one rep.

For the squat jumps, step back from your deadlifting bar, set your feet shoulder width apart. Lower yourself down to where hips / gluteus is loaded towards your rear. Bring your bottom to knee level and thrust straight up landing tall onto the toes then reset. Repeat.  

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Sources:

Josh Williams – 3 ways to develop fast-twitch muscle

Bill Rom – Workouts That Increase Speed & Train Fast Twitch Muscles

Anton Reid, Demand Media- How to Develop Fast-Twitch Leg Muscles

Google images

 

Running, it propels us forward

By: Geoff Rubin, CPT/CIFT/TRX II

Hitting the pavement and accruing mileage is certainly a physical feat, but what is the motive behind doing it? Running is a sport which is definitely not for the meek, so what is it that drives us to put on our shoes, tie those laces and exit that front door?

The reasons to run come from a multitude of places whether it is for health reasons, physique, weight loss, accomplishments, etc. Whether it is intrinsic or extrinsic motivational factors that lead you to run, you’re doing yourself a phenomenal favor. In fact, running blasts the most calories: In a study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin and the VA Medical Center, the treadmill (used at a “hard” exertion level) torched an average of 705-865 calories in an hour. Not only are you torching the calories while running, but running boosts “afterburn”—that is, the number of calories you burn after exercise. (Scientists call this EPOC, which stands for excess post oxygen consumption.)

Additional physical benefits of running include:

– Bolsters your cartilage by increasing oxygen flow and flushing out toxins, and by strengthening the ligaments around your joints.

– Your time on the treadmill can even prevent vision loss, or so it seems. Two studies from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have found that running reduced the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.

– One recent study in the British Journal of Cancer calculated that the “most active” (e.g. walked briskly 5-6 hours/week) people were 24 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than the “least active” people

Additional mental benefits of running include:

– Stress-busting powers of their regular jog. “Nothing beats that feeling when you settle into a strong stride with a powerful rhythm,” says Brooke Stevens, a four-time NYC marathoner, “The tension in my neck, back, and shoulders starts to loosen up, and I can think more clearly too.”

– Running is used by mental health experts to help treat clinical depression and other psychological disorders such as drug and alcohol addiction.

– In a 2006 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, researchers found that even a single bout of exercise—30 minutes of walking on a treadmill—could instantly lift the mood of someone suffering from a major depressive order.

Regardless of the reasons that you are hitting the concrete, trail-head or treadmill, the benefits of this readily available sport are right there for your taking.

 

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Sources:

– Womens Health – Health Benefits of Running, 2013

– Runners World – 6 ways running helps improve your health

 

Understanding Common Running Injuries

ImageAs a rather new, however avid running enthusiast, I wanted to investigate common running injuries that many passionate runners will often face. It’s important that we identify these potential injuries in advance as to avoid injuries in our future. With the health benefits of running bountiful from controlling weight, improving cardiovascular function and help alleviate a host of chronic health problems; it is clear as to why running has become so popular. However, with all of these advantages comes a toll on our lower extremities. Studies suggest knee-related injuries are the most common, accounting for 26-50% of all lower-extremity injuries, the foot, ankle and lower leg make up the other 50%, with hip and lower back always susceptible as well (Ellapen et al.2013; van Gent et al.2007;O’Toole 1992).

Well, what are the most common injury causes?

– rapid increase in weekly mileage

– continuous high mileage (runners averaging 50-70 miles per week have a 50% chance of injury (O’Toole)

– abrupt change in running surface

– failure to follow hard training days with light training days

– wearing inadequate or worn-out footwear

– running on uneven surfaces

– returning to previous mileage too fast after a layoff

– history of previous injuries

– too much hard interval training

– muscle imbalances near a lower-extremity joint and/or inadequate muscular strength or range of motion

Check out the table below for listings of injury sites & type along with injury mechanisms

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Injury Site and Type

Injury Mechanisms

Knee: Patellofemoral pain syndrome

Patellofemoral pain syndrome, or “runner’s knee,” is pain originating from the patella (kneecap). (Lopes et al. 2012)

Knee/hip: Illiotibial band syndrome

Illiotibial band syndrome (ITBS) is a sharp pain along the illiotibial band, which lies along the lateral portion of the thigh, from the hip to the knee. (O’Toole, 1992)

Lower leg: Meidial tibial stress syndrome

Commonly known as shin splints, medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is a pain on or near the anterior midline of the lower tibia, or shinbone (Lopes et al. 2012)

Lower leg: Achilles tendinopathy

Achillies tendinopathy (tendonitis) is a pain or stiffness along the Achilles tendon, caused by inflammation of the tendon and/or the tendon sheath. (Lopes et al. 2012)

Foot: Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis is a widespread running injury to the foot. (Lopes et al. 2012) The plantar fascia consists of thick connective tissue that supports the arch on the bottom of the foot, extending from the medial tubercle of the calcaneus (heel bone) to the metatarsal heads.

Impact on extreme conditioning programs: Crossfit, Insanity, etc

In 2011, the Consortium for Health and Military Performance and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) released the “Consensus Paper on Extreme Conditioning. (Link below).  The paper looked at extreme conditioning programs, including CrossFit and Insanity, and revealed that “physicians and other primary care and rehabilitation providers have identified a potential emerging problem of disproportionate musculoskeletal injury risk, particularly for novice participants.

The ACSM paper recommends that “an effective and safe conditioning regimen must consist of incremental, progressive introduction of exercises and workloads based on fitness and specific conditioning needs and limitations of the individual” (emphasis original).

What’s your take in regards to “Extreme Conditioning” programs?  Are they the proper fit for your every day fitness enthusiast?

Consortium for Health and Military Performance and American College of Sports Medicine consensus paper on extreme conditioning programs in military personnel.