MIHP Think Tank Brainstorms… Movement Training Specialists

15May/110

Strength Training the Endurance Athlete

This strength training blog will be delivered in a series over the next week and geared toward the runner, triathlete and walker. I hope this series will leave you with a handful of exercises to maintain strength through your season.  However, a biomechanical assessment of your individual needs should be considered at the conclusion of your season so that you are able to make optimal use of your off-season time to improve specific strengths.

The first exercise of this series is the Leg Press.  Those who have worked with me or other MIHP staff in the past, know our lack of love for any machine training, but I often recognize the need that individuals have for that "burn" they get from machine training.  The beauty of the leg press is that you are able to produce a co-contraction of the leg muscles vs an isolated contraction that the knee extension or leg curl machine  offer.  In function, the leg muscles never work independent of each other, they must rely on the stabilizing muscles to do their jobs so that they can contract correctly at the right times.

The runner and walker need to emphasize strengthening the  hip stabilizers called on in a single -legged stance or narrow base stance (glute medius and maximus). The cyclist need to consider strengthening of this same muscle group, as the over-use of their quads and calf muscles often predispose them to an injury.

My leg-press prescription is to perform this exercise in a "shallow" fashion and single legged.  Meaning you will come from a fully extended position of the knee to only 30-45 degrees of knee bend.  I prefer a sled-fashion machine where the platform is non moving, however you can still perform this exercise on the machine with a moving platform. Initiate this exercise by placing your feet approximately hip width apart on the platform.  Choose a weight that is going to be challenging (probably over 40# for most).  Your feet should be placed high enough on the platform that the knees are bent only 90 degrees.  Push yourself out using both legs to a fully extended position, before dropping one leg off the platform.  Proceed to lower yourself no further than 30-45 degrees of knee bend and back out.  Repeat 15-20 reps on one leg before placing your other leg back on the platform to return yourself to the starting position and repeating on the other leg.  Your resistance should be heavy enough that you are left feeling fatigued at the end of the set  (like you couldn't do two more reps).  The burn should be centered in the glute, hamstrings and hip area greater than the quad burn felt with a traditional leg press.  Begin with 3 sets and progress to 3 sets of 15-20 reps 3x per week.

13May/110

30/30/30 (A mid week workout for the run/walker)

This workout will add variety to your weekly running schedule by allowing you to get in a short quality run (even lunch- time friendly) designed to improve speed and form. A thirty minute run with a 30:30 second ratio of run/walk.

After a short warm up to activate the core and hip muscles (see the Runner's Daily Dozen) begin your run with a five minute "active" walk. This is a walk that is incorporating full hip extension and dynamic core strength. The next five minutes are used to introduce the needed acceleration/deceleration used in a 30/30 ratio by slowly jogging thirty seconds with a brisk walk for thirty seconds. Now that you are adequately warmed up you will spend the next twenty minutes increasing your run speed by focusing on the push off phase of your gait (when the stance leg is behind you), and increasing your cadence. Note that I did not mention opening your stride, a very common error when someone is attempting to increase speed. Shorter steps with power will increase your cadence (See Jeff Galloway's cadence drill), improving both your speed and form.
Enjoy this thirty minute workout and if time is permitted incorporate a good triangle and revolving triangle yoga pose to complete your workout.

13May/110

30/30/30 (A mid week workout for the run/walker)

This workout will add variety to your weekly running schedule by allowing you to get in a short quality run (even lunch- time friendly) designed to improve speed and form. A thirty minute run with a 30:30 second ratio of run/walk.

After a short warm up to activate the core and hip muscles (see the Runner's Daily Dozen) begin your run with a five minute "active" walk. This is a walk that is incorporating full hip extension and dynamic core strength. The next five minutes are used to introduce the needed acceleration/deceleration used in a 30/30 ratio by slowly jogging thirty seconds with a brisk walk for thirty seconds. Now that you are adequately warmed up you will spend the next twenty minutes increasing your run speed by focusing on the push off phase of your gait (when the stance leg is behind you), and increasing your cadence. Note that I did not mention opening your stride, a very common error when someone is attempting to increase speed. Shorter steps with power will increase your cadence (See Jeff Galloway's cadence drill), improving both your speed and form.
Enjoy this thirty minute workout and if time is permitted incorporate a good triangle and revolving triangle yoga pose to complete your workout.

27Apr/101

Incorporating One “Strong” Walk Into Your Running Schedule

No this is not me preaching the "run/walk" method again, or selling Jeff Galloways programs, but only a sharing of my recent awareness of the benefits from incorporating a "strong" walk into your weekly schedule.   Strong is not about "speed" in this element, but about quality of movement. Activating the hip and abdominal muscles and taking your body through the full range of motion it was designed to be taken through.

Most of the injures that are sidelining runners these days are caused from a loss of mobility at a specific joint, which results in inhibition of specific muscles, usually on the opposite side of the tightness.    When your running speed increases your turnover rate increases, which means that less time is spent on your foot (leg), less time in contact with the ground.   This is all great stuff as you are setting PR's and improving your endurance however, this reduction in time spent on the ground  significantly reduces the mobility at the ankle, knee and hip and even reduces the natural rotation that occurs in the upper back when your leg hits full hip extension. 

If you can incorporate at least one walk a week, and possibly a 5-10 minute warm-up walk prior to your runs, it will allow the body to engage all the muscles needed to prevent injury and take the body through the full range of motion it is not getting in on your runs.  

How?

Awareness of your standing posture is the first step.  You need to be sure you are not standing with your shoulders rounded or head sitting way forward of your shoulders.  Your butt should not be tucked in.  The best way to get your body to sit in the correct position, is to activate your deep abdominal muscles.  Pretend you just put on a bathing suit for the first time this season, or a tight fitting dress ladies.  What do we do?  We pull in our belly button to tighten the stomach muscles.  Now this should not feel like you are holding your breath, but simply pulling your belly button away from your pant line.  This contraction will automatically place the upper back and neck in a neutral position.  Focus on your toes pointing forward and not in or outward, and begin your walk.  You want to walk in a heel to toe fashion and keep your foot in contact with the ground all the way through hip extension (this is when your leg comes behind you).  When your right leg is in the back a natural turn of your upper body to the left should occur.  This motion with the activation of your abdominal muscles will: 

1.  Provide full hip extension which stretches the hip flexors out and activates the gluteus maximus (your butt).

2.  Create dorsiflexion (ankle mobility) elongating the calf, achilles and plantar fascia.

3.  Rotate the torso, also creating elongation of the hip flexors and activation of the oblique muscles.

4.  Elongate the IT bands, hamstrings and piriformis with the toe in a straight forward position.

5.  Strengthen your core which is engine of your run.  

6.   PREVENT INJURY BY GIVING YOUR BODY BACK ITS FULL RANGE OF MOTION AND ACTIVATION OF ALL THE STABILIZERS.  

Give it a try!  It works on a treadmill too, just stick your back foot to the belt and ride it as far back as you can before your lift it off the belt.  We call it the "sticky foot" workout.

26Apr/100

The X in P90X

P90X has become the "buzz" of the fitness community and everyone seems to be sharing their opinions, fears, and excitement over this newest fitness rage.  So I thought I would take this blogging opportunity to share my insight on this program from the stand of a PTA, personal trainer and the wife of a Tony Horton fan!  

My husband has always been intrigued by  infomercials, and frequently asks my opinion of the product being sold.  I have to admit that the p90x was the first to catch my full attention. I was intrigued by the philosophy of this program and found similarities in my own exercise prescription philosophy.  The use of body weight and dumbbells challenging the muscles as a group vs machine training in isolation.  I loved the emphasis placed on varied workouts preventing adaptation or plateau and creating muscles confusion.  This muscle confusion is the base for creating growth and enhancing the nervous system.   So I decided to bite the bullet and make my very first infomercial  purchase. This would offer us an opportunity to work out together in the comfort of our home and give me the hands on experimenting that could also benefit my cliental.   

This program is laid out in a fashion that varies the body part being worked out daily. Alternating between the upper and lower extremities, martial arts, plyometrics, core, stretching and yoga (which happens to be the toughest work out of them all).  The beauty of the program is that you need very little space and equipment, in addition to the elimination of travel time to and from the gym. It promotes mobility and strength in all three planes of movement and emphasizes strength of the stabilizing muscles.  

So how could you go wrong based on all of the pros listed here?  Well just like any other exercise program, if it lands in the hands of an individual who doesn't have the ability or knowledge of where to begin and how to progress, or someone who has not been priorly educated in proper body mechanics with exercises such as lunges, push ups, or squats, it can serve as a danger.  Although the videos do a good job of consistently reminding you to start slow, with fewer reps or light resistance and to listen to your body, this can still serve as a challenge to the type "A" personality, or the individual who is a newbie to fitness.  It can also be a danger for the person who decides to just pick and choose their daily workouts vs following the schedule, if...... he only chooses the muscles that he can see in the mirror, such as the chest, biceps, and abdominals.  Remember that there some very important muscles on your backside that are also being admired and if you neglect these scapular stabilizers, hamstrings or glutes, your performance could be greatly inhibited and your workouts may come to an end sooner than you wish due to injury.  

My recommendation is, if you have been active with a strengthening program at the gym for more than a year now, take this opportunity to change up your routine.  You will quickly note the benefits of this program.  If the majority of your exercises have been performed on machines, be cautious and consider professional (personal trainer, physical therapist or MIHP????) guidance with initiating this program.  If you are just beginning a fitness program, then take note that in each workout video they will have one of the instructors showing an alternate approach to each exercise whether it be positioning, or different forms of resistance.  Stick with this form until you become stronger.  Also, if you note any neck pain with doing shoulder exercises, consider using one arm at a time vs both arms together.  This will allow an increase in the natural rotational pattern our body requires with upper extremity movement.  

Please tune in tomorrow for how to periodized your P90X workout into the training schedule for the endurance athlete.