Dead Bug Workout Sequence

Looking for variations for your abdominal workouts? Try the Dead Bug, a twist on a classic crunch. We know crunches can get tiresome, and provide a limited range of motion, so we’re going to try to get more bang out of the effort for you.

The Set Up:
Get on your back as though you’re getting ready to do a classic crunch. Now, bring your knees to your chest and flex your ankles. We want the knees to be right over the hips.

1st Variation:
You’re going to take two hands, put them on the knees and create some pressure. You’ll feel immediate engagement in your mid section. Now, imagine there’s a marshmallow in the small of your back. Crush that marshmallow as you engage. Start at about a 30% effort, breathing smoothly.

2nd Variation:
From the same position, take one foot and reach out. This means the pelvis has to move a little bit. Try to keep that “marshmallow” down.

3rd Variation:
Now, try one hand and one knee, keeping the opposite hand high overhead. Bring that knee up and take that down leg straight down. Engage the knee in the hand, and push, crushing that imaginary marshmallow. Now, take your long hand and lift it a half inch and lift your head a half inch. Now, life that leg. If you lose the marshmallow, keep your leg down and lower your head slightly.

4th variation:
Add the forced exhalation breathing technique at any stage of the dead bug, or even on your basic crunches. We have to give a shout out to our friends at ViPR for promoting this technique, which is really valuable. Go back to the basic dead bug position., engaging your knees to your hips and flexing your ankles. Now, crush imaginary marshmallow while taking in a reasonably good breath and force the air at.

Imagine you’ve got a straw and are blowing that air out with a bit of force. The important thing is getting to that last two or three seconds, when it feels like there’s no air in the system and you’re blowing it, emptying the lungs fully. It recruits deep respiratory muscles that happen to be spinal stabilizers as well.. Doing this at the beginning of your work workout actually sets up better stabilization for the rest of your workout as you go through.

That breathing technique can be used on a lot of exercises, but most commonly used in a simple crunch or in this case, dead bugs. So remember the imaginary marshmallow, crush it, small lifts of the head and arms on the different variations and start with moderate contractions and then build to bigger squeezes as you like, but always keeping the air flowing

Arm Circle Variations Using the Egoscue Method

Here’s an exercise to counter some of the heavier pushups and overhead press work that you might be doing while you’re at home, during quarantine or colder winter months. We call it an arm circle, which actually comes to us from the Egoscue Method, the preeminent group in terms of posture correction. This move is really effective in helping to reset your thoracic spine after a hard set of pushups. It will have you walking around with better posture and better breathing as a result.

For this move, your arms are out and down, just a little bit before horizontal. You’ll make what we call a “golfer’s fist”. When the thumbs are forward, you’ll draw an eight-inch circle forward and your job is to oscillate the arms, which provides a little perturbation. It makes your body want to wobble, but try to  hold steady…  keep your quads tight, holding steady to resist the wobble.

The feel factor is going to be in your shoulders, though you’ll also feel the muscles in your lower back. When in doubt, err backwards a bit. You want a nice tall posture. Begin with sets of 20 as a good starting point.

Getting More Bang for Your Workout Buck

The less wear and tear we can expose the body to, with the biggest benefit from an exercise standpoint, the better. If we can give you more bang for your buck physiologically, and in terms of results from your exercise with less wear and tear on the joints and the tissue, we think that’s a home run.

An important strategy in that regard is making a visual tweak to your exercise.

First, determine which is your dominant eye, if you don’t already know it. In many of your exercises, you can simply cover that eye so that your nervous system has to process the same information with only one filter versus two. The body will then have to give more bandwidth to that process, making the exercise a little bit more difficult in terms of coordination and work.

Give it a try with a simple squat. There’s not a big balance requirement here, which will help you ease into this.

As you progress into a more challenging exercise like a lunge, you’ll see the difference.  We’re changing three different variables here: There’s a bigger balance and coordination requirement, and we also have your body weight load on one leg.

Now, let’s change the sensory input. You may wobble a little bit, as you have to gain control. This is great for both the joints, the musculature and the nervous system in general.

If we add weight, it’s not going to take much of it, depending on how much you rely on that dominant eye. Whether you’re doing the exercise at a light weight and high repetitions for systemic demand, or at heavy weight with low repetition for strength demand, your body has to process that information. That creates a physiological demand that makes the load a little bit heavier, and you’ll get more of that desired result in any of the cases.

Again, just tweaking out your dominant eye, a technique introduced to the industry in the last couple of years by Integrated Kinetic Neurology, a great group of instructors. It’s not a technique you’re going to do on a daily basis through the entirety of your sets, but pick a couple exercises. Be safe with it. See if you can’t start getting more for less.

How to Incorporate Periodization into your Workout Routine

Periodization is a strategy that you can use when gearing up for a particular performance. Going into a sports season, you’ll train hard throughout the season, and then taper off as you come back down out of the season. For example, the US Women’s Soccer Team is now in a down phase, coming off of their championship win. They’re not preparing for anything immediately.

For most general fitness programs, and that applies to the majority of us as adults, life periodizes us. If we’re lucky, we only get sick once a year. If we’re lucky, we take two vacations a year, and may also train less during the holiday season. If there’s a crisis at work, we might train less. So in our experience in a year, most people, no matter how consistent they try to be, still have 4-5 individual weeks where they experience down phases in their training. What we recommend is to be as consistent and as diligent as you can, because life is going to get in the way and periodize your training schedule for you.

Using the “Rule of 3s” for Fitness Success

A client recently asked me for advice about starting a new exercise program. And right away, I turned to the Rule of Threes to help her  avoid doing too much too soon, which can have the adverse effect of faltering efforts and goals.

So the first “3” that she’s shooting for is three workouts that are moderate, enjoyable, and leave her feeling good. The key is to not go for broke in those first couple of rounds. Once you can get through that for three weeks, exercise starts to become a regular part of your world and your schedule. It’s a behavioral shift. Still, you want to be at moderate levels – you can’t get fit in one workout, but you can burn yourself out pretty quickly if you’re going too hard too early.

The second “3” is to try to get through that three week rhythm over a course of three months – so you now have a full season of the year to start to inlay that habit and that lifestyle. And then the final “3” would be to complete this for three seasons (i.e. nine months). Getting through these “3”s at a moderate level, gradually being able to elevate your tolerance and exertional capacities, is a real recipe for success. To try to avoid the major pitfalls that really undermine most exercise programs, stick with the Rule of Threes.

 

Heavy Lifting: Is It Always The Best Strength Training Strategy?

by: Pat McCloskey, Director of Training and Education

Heavy resistance training is a clear path to muscle growth and strength gains — but there are enormous risks to favoring heavy lifting as it relates to tissue tolerance.

A client recently asked me, “Why aren’t I doing more heavy weight training in my program? More squatting, more dead lifting, more benching?” And it brought to mind for me the emphasis that all of the health magazines and fitness websites put on the scientific basis of heavy resistance training. And the science behind it is very real. Heavy weight lifting, for all populations, serves a good purpose. It stimulates hormonal numbers. And the reason the big three lifts — squatting, dead lifting, and bench pressing — are go-to exercises is because they’re very stable. You’re able to work against a lot of load, and the science shows that when you do that effectively, it stimulates a big testosterone release that serves muscle growth and strength gain.

But the risks with it, particularly in people who haven’t done it a lot, is tissue tolerance. Do we begin to write checks that our body might not be able to handle, for a number of reasons? Perhaps your shoulder, because of the way you slept the night before, cannot perform as usual. Or individuals with postural deviations already — now that we’re adding a lot of weight in an exercise, are we exacerbating the problem?

So I said to my client, “We will do some heavy resistance training in your program as we get you into better alignment. And we have to make sure that we dose it carefully, because it is a strategy. But we have to make sure that it’s not a strategy that leads to heavier and heavier, and eventually, an end game that is simply, “Wow, I can’t do that anymore because I got hurt.” I want his exercise — everybody’s exercise — to make him feel better outside the gym, not worse. We never want to do anything in a gym setting that makes life harder outside.

Great Personal Training Sessions

Great services deliver great value and produce highly satisfied customers. Generally speaking, great personal training sessions maximize the physiological and psychological benefits clients get from their workouts. Every client is unique and what makes a session great for one can be vastly different from what makes a session great for another. Personal trainers are responsible for many elements of their clients’ workout, including exercise selection, exercise execution, training intensity, and the psychological impact the session has on the client.

 

Most clients entrust their trainers to select exercises (program design) that best serve the client. Well- prescribed exercises are compatible with and enhance the client’s movement capabilities, can be performed safely and effectively, and are consistent with the client’s goals. Some very good exercises may not be appropriate because of medical precautions or movement limitations certain clients have, or may simply be too risky if outside the client’s skill level. Also, too often trainers prescribe exercises based on their own preferences even if those exercises may not be ideal for their specific client. Examples include trainers who are powerlifters who over-prescribe squats, bench presses and dead lifts; trainers who are kettlebells experts who over-prescribe kettlebell training; or trainers who are bodybuilders and design bodybuilding type programs even if their client’s goals warrant otherwise. Clients should be able to trust their trainers to design the best programs for them and should ask their trainers why they have chosen the exercise they have chosen. Good trainers have a well thought out reason for each exercise they prescribe.

 

Having a well-designed program is important, but successful execution of the prescribed exercises is even more important. Assuming the exercises selected are appropriate, getting the client to execute the exercises safely and effectively is both science and art.  The science component is the trainer’s knowledge of biomechanics as well as her ability to assess the individual client’s movement capacity to determine how that client can execute the exercise with safe and effective mechanics. The art is the trainer’s ability to communicate and effectively teach the exercise to the client. This is more complex than one might think. Great trainers don’t over or under teach, and great trainers make sure their clients do not feel inadequate, frustrated, defeated or dissatisfied. On any given day with any given client and with every single exercise, the trainer should provide just the right amount of instruction. This could range from a full two minute demonstration with verbal instruction, to a few quick pre-exercise tips coupled with just the right amount of effective queuing and reinforcement during the exercise.

 

Just as exercise selection should be specific to each individual client so should training intensity. Some clients want to be pushed to their absolute limits, others want to feel challenged but not overwhelmed and others are extremely precautious and have narrow comfort zones. Beyond different personality types and personal preferences, everyone has days when they feel great and able to give it their all, as well as days when they may not feel up for their best effort. Great trainers get just the right level of intensity out of every single exercise within a training session as well as out of the entire session as a whole. Regardless of the personalities and preferences of each individual client, generally speaking, clients should leave personal training sessions feeling as if they were challenged and that they accomplished more than they would have on their own.

 

Great personal trainers not only design and implement exercise programs that enhance physical fitness and performance, but that also enhance how a client feels. Ideally, great trainers help clients feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction after each exercise they do, and, even more importantly, help clients feel great both physically and emotionally once their workout is completed. Like any other service, great personal training sessions should leave clients with a sense of accomplishment, truly cared for, impressed and well served by their trainer, and looking forward to their next session.

Please contact us for more information or to take advantage of our trial offer so that you can see how the  Fitness Center can help you.