Benefits of Deadbugs

Simple and quite honestly kind of boring, but far from worthless. Deadbugs can go a long way in improving lumbo-pelvic-hip stabilizers as well as helping to push more posterior pelvic tilting, which most all athletes can benefit from. Add in some diaphragmatic breathing and a really good code exercise becomes even better.

Performing a couple sets (1-3) on each side within the warm up or a filler between sets of other exercises. Cue a big inhale through the nose when the knees are 90 degrees with a 5+ second exhale through the mouth as you extend the leg

Random Thoughts: March Edition

It’s a new month, so here are 10 quick and random thoughts that have been floating around my brain recently. If nothing else I hope it makes you think a little. Enjoy!

1. The trunk stability push up (TSPU) or anti-extension strength/stability is huge in female populations. There is actually some research showing that a poor TSPU has the strongest correlation to ACL tears then any other screen in the FMS. The TSPU can help tell you if an athlete is able to control spinal stability under load. If it can’t bad things are potentially going happen.
2. Corrective exercise should change movement immediately. If it doesn’t it probably isn’t ever going to.

3. Strength training is all about balance. Do you have balance between hip dominant and knee dominant exercises? Do you have balance between your upper body pushing and pulling? Do you have balance within these categories? For example, if you are training an athlete three days a week, I think its important for shoulder health to press vertically (OH Press variation), horizontally (bench press/push up, etc.), and somewhere between the two (incline press, landmine press, etc.). Focusing on one more then the others will probably lead to issues in the long run.

4. A good strength coach should be able to modify any movement/exercise in the weight room and make it non-painful.

5. Athletes need to move in three planes more often as we speed way to much time training in the sagittal plane. It’s not only great for hip mobility and injury prevention, but moving in all three planes is great for neuromuscular input – it’s like candy for the brain.

6. If you can’t do something well in the weight room but yet continue to do it anyway, you are eventually going to get hurt. It’s really that black and white. Regress and/or lateralize.

7. In strength and conditioning, if you wait for the research to prove to you that something is right, you’ll be way behind. Follow smart people, find the commonalities in what they are doing, and steal it.

8. When you keep things simple in the weight room I think you can actually get more done and get more quality work done.

9. To use the previous thought as a jumping off point, I’m not sure many athletes really need much more then basic movements. If you simply change the intensity and volume over the course of time I think you’ll find that most athletes are going to progress at a very good pace over their athletic career.

10. Very few people really actually want to get better and are open minded…they just want information that confirms what they are already doing is correct. These same people pretend they want to get better, but they don’t really want to hear the truth. These same people claim they are open minded until they find out everything they are doing is wrong.

Overhead Pressing Overhead Athletes?

“Just because an exercise doesn’t hurt it doesn’t mean it’s not causing harm.” Eric Cressey

Would I overhead press an overhead athlete (volleyball in this case) with a barbell or even a dumbbell, even if it is pain free? No, the risk is not worth the reward – your probably playing with fire in the long term when it comes to shoulder health.

Would I do it with a kettlebell? Yes, we do bottoms up all the time and is a staple in our strength program.

Why the Bottoms Up KB Press:

1️) It allows the shoulder to find the path of least resistance. Not all shoulders work the same, especially overhead athletes.
2️) It helps to facilitate more rotator cuff activation. The rotator cuff is a reflex driven group of muscles built for stability, not strength. KB bottoms up press demands stability. If the rotator cuff isn’t stabilizing, the KB will fall over.

3️) It also teaches the core and the shoulder to work together as a unit. If you lose core stability, you’ll again probably lose the kettlebell.

4) Overhead athletes tend to have cranky shoulders with pain in certain positions. Simply flipping the KB over turns a typically painful movement into a non-painful movement. Training through pain is a terrible idea. On the other hand, not training through pain is always a good thing.

Our ‘Core’ Training

Our ‘core’ training. No crunches. No sit ups. No leg lifts. No quick “core/ab” session to start or finish a workout.

We use exercises that resist extension, flexion and rotation, loaded carries (suitcase/farmers) and get ups. We use exercises that demand core stability not core strength, exercises where the goal is to not move the presence of movement…which is the same demand placed on the core during sport.

Like everything else we do, the overall goal is that these exercises will help build a resilient athlete that can withstand the demands of an entire season…then we progress the exercise in some way each week.

Top Left: DB Plank Row
Top Right: Anti-Rotation/Belly Press
Bottom Left: Body Saw
Bottom Right: KB Drag

Anti-Extension Progression

Looking for a core that not only looks good but functions well, whether your a regular Joe or an athlete? Of course you are, because we all are.

What’s the most important function of the core? I would argue it’s the ability of the anterior core to prevent extension of the lumbar spine. It’s crucial for both everyday life, sport performance, and just feeling strong and healthy. How do you train anti-extension? Through this safe an effective progression that will not only allow you to improve your core strength but keep you from wrecking havoc on your back.

1. Front Plank: Everyone should be able to perform a perfect front plank for 30-45 seconds. What’s perfect? Your body should be a straight line, looking like you are standing. Core, glutes and quads tight.

2. Push Up Taps: Now with the body in a push up position, tap one hand to the opposite shoulder in a slow and controlled manner without the hips/lumbar spine moving. We have now added a small amount of anti-rotation to our anti-extension exercise, making it more difficult. Remember, the slower the better.

3. Ball Rollout: Begin tall with the glutes and core tight with your hands on the ball. With your toes digging into the ground, roll your entire body forward keeping a perfectly straight line from your knees to your shoulders. The key is not allowing any rounding of that lower back as you roll outward.

4. Body Saw: The body saw is very similar to the ball rollout. In a perfect plank position, acting just like a saw, use the shoulder joint to move your body forward and backward. The body saw is essentially a front plank with motion. Again, no rounding of that low back.

5. Slide Board Push Up: Without a doubt the most difficult progression. The combination of anti-extension, shoulder stability, and a rotary component due to the hand being in an asymmetrical position, makes this an extremely challenging and humbling exercise. In that same perfect front plank, reach one arm overhead while keeping the core engaged and resisting extension. Again, no rounding of the lower back.