Monday, August 14, 2017

GLUTES


The gluteal region of the body is made up of several muscles that help stabilize and move the pelvis around. A few standout muscles are the glute medius and the glute minimus. These muscles have an important role in stabilizing the pelvis during movement as well as during single leg exercise. If you are standing and raise your leg, the opposite glute medius and minimus will contract to prevent the pelvis from dropping on that side. The primary actions of these two muscles is to assist in hip abduction and medial rotation of the lower limb. During movement, it prevents pelvic drop of the opposite limb.

Often times we overlook these muscles in our training programs, and over time, this can lead to pelvic instability and even low back and knee pain. A 2016 study tested the tensor fascia lata, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus of over 150 subjects with chronic low back pain. They found that the gluteus medius was weaker in people that had chronic low back pain. Another study, which looked at over 800 novice runners, concluded that runners who lack hip abduction strength were at a higher risk for knee pain. Aside from low back and knee pain, there are some other signs that the glutes may be weak or “turned off”. Poor mechanics in squat, hinge and lunges patterns, more specifically knees caving in, may indicate weak glutes. Some other signs may include a lack of soreness in the glutes when the aforementioned movements are trained.

As you can see from the research, strengthening your glute muscles, particularly your gluteus medius, is very important as a preventative measure for possible chronic issues down the road. As an athlete, having weak glutes can be detrimental to stability, mobility, power and strength.

Here are a few glute activation and strengthening exercises you can do on your own.
  1. Supine Glute Bridge with Band Resistance
  2. Sidelying Clamshell with Band Resistance (External Rotation)
  3. Sidelying Clamshell with Band Resistance (Internal Rotation)
  4. Single Leg RDL with Contralateral Reach
  5. Pull-Through


*Depending on your fitness level, you can use this as its own workout. I would work through each exercise performing 2-3 sets of 10 repetitions of each. If you are a little more advanced with your fitness, I would include these exercises into your warm up prior to any lower body work days. Perform 1 set of each exercise for 10 repetitions each as an activation drill prior to your lower body work (specifically squatting or deadlifting). 


1.      Supine Glute Bridge with Band Resistance


  • Begin by placing a band around your legs (just above the knee) and lay on your back with bent knees and your feet pressed firmly into the floor.
  • To begin, start with a deep inhale through your nose (a deep belly breathe is ideal).
  • While exhaling slowly yet forcefully, squeeze your glutes and extend your hips upward.
  • Hold at the top position for 2-3 seconds before relaxing and returning to the start position.


Tip: Proper breathing is a key component on this exercise, especially for those with excessive low back curvature. The forceful exhale will help to brace the core muscles which in turn will prevent excessive extension of the lower back.


2.      Sidelying Clam Shell with Band Resistance (External Rotation)

  
  • Begin by placing a band around your legs (just above the knee) and lying on your side with your legs/feet stacked on top of each other and your knees and hips slightly flexed (You are looking to achieve a neutral flat back).
  • Keeping your feet together, externally rotate your hip while turning your torso down slightly.
  • Squeeze at the top and return to the start position is a controlled fashion.


Tip: You really want to focus on isolating the glute in this exercise. Try only to rotate at your hip and not at your lower back as well.


3.      Sidelying Clam Shell with Band Resistance (Internal Rotation)


  • Begin by placing a band around your ankles and lying on your side with your legs/feet stacked on top of each other and your knees and hips slightly flexed (You are looking to achieve a neutral flat back).
  • Keeping your knees together, internally rotate your hip by lifting your foot upward.
  • Squeeze at the top and return to the start position is a controlled fashion.

Tip: Work hard to lower back to the starting position with as much control as possible.


4.      Single Leg RDL with Contralateral Arm Reach


  • Begin by standing next to a wall in a normal upright standing position.
  • With a soft bend in the knee, slowly begin to reach your hip back (hip hinge) on the leg closest to the wall while simultaneously reaching the opposite arm forward and opposite leg straight back.
  • Once you have achieved an optimal hinge, engage your glutes and return to the start position.

Tip: Do your best to maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement. Be mindful to push your leg straight back. You do not want to rotate at the hip during the movement.

5.      Pull-Through


  • Attach a rope to a cable machine.
  • Begin by stepping over the cable (back to the weight stacks) while grasping the rope with both hands resting on your groin. Feet should be between hip and shoulder width apart. Soft bend in your knees.
  • While inhaling, allow the weight to pull you into a hip hinge. Maintain a neutral spine.
  • Once you have reached your optimal hinge position, squeeze your glutes and extend your hips forward back to the start while forcefully exhaling.

Tip: Do your best to hinge and not squat during this exercise. Your shins should remain as vertical as possible during the movement. Keep your weight centered through your whole foot rather than shifting from heel to toe during the movement.

Blog post by Greg Wilson.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Long Bars, Short Bars, Mini Bars?


A common question when working with clients in the pool is “Which is harder the long bars or the short bars?”  

The answer to the question depends on the exercises that you will be doing and the goals of your exercise program.  Understanding the equipment and the differences will help you choose the appropriate tools to make your workout the most effective.  

Using bars with more buoyancy will create more resistance when trying to move them through the water.  This will make these types of exercises more difficult.  However, exercise where you are in the hanging position will be easier with more buoyant bars because they will provide more support and stability.

Using bars with less buoyancy creates less resistance when trying to move them through the water.  Less buoyant bars will make these types of exercises easier.  The less buoyant bars will make exercises more difficult in the hanging position.  The reduced support and stability will require your body to work harder to maintain alignment therefore challenging your core muscles more.

Example of progression from easy to difficult using equipment for an exercise that requires you to move the bars in and out of the water vs. a hanging exercise.

Pump and Walk
Mini Bar → Short Bars Level 1 → Short Bars Level 2 → Long Bars


Splits and Spreads
Long Bars→ Short Bars Level 2 → Short Bars Level 1 → Mini Bars


Equipment


Long Bars
Long bars provide the most buoyancy, therefore they will give you the most support and resistance.  


Short Bars Level 2
These bars have slightly less buoyancy than the long bars.  They will be a little easier for exercises that require movement through the water and slightly harder for hanging exercises than the long bars.


Short Bars Level 1
The level 1 short bars have less buoyancy than level 2 short bars and long bars.  They will be easier for exercises that require movement through the water and more difficult for hanging exercises.


Mini Bars
Mini bars provide the least amount buoyancy.  These bars will be the easiest for exercises that require movement through the water and the most difficult for hanging exercises.  



Blog post by Eric Chandler.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Don't Drink Your Calories

It's summer, it's hot, and you're thirsty. While those sports drinks and "Zero" thirst quenchers look tempting, think twice before packing your gym bag full of them.

While they taste great the drink you reach for could have more calories than you think. Sugars, sugar substitutes, and food dyes are all too common in the drinks we choose to cure our summer thirst.

All calories add up, the ones you eat and the ones you drink, but there is a difference in how our bodies react to them. Calories you eat from your meals, protein bars, and other snack help cure hunger and give our bodies a feeling of fullness. The calories that come from beverages on the other hand may make you feel refreshed, they have little to no impact on the feelings of hunger or fullness. This is a calorie over look that can cause us to add hundreds of calories to our daily intake without even realizing it and it could be why your summer diet of lean proteins and lots of salads may not be showing results. 

Some common beverages to watch out for:
  • Gatorade = 34 g sugar, 130 cal
  • Minute Maid Lemonade = 67g, 260 cal
  • Snapple Iced Tea = 46 g sugar, 200 cal
  • Coca-Cola 12oz = 39g sugar, 140 cal
  • Vitamin Water = 33g sugar, 125 cal
  • Apple Juice = 52g sugar, 240 cal
  • Red Bull = 27g sugar, 108 cal

http://dailysuperfoodlove.com/

Sweeteners have many names, be familiar with them!
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup (equivalent to 10 teaspoons of table sugar)
  • Aspartame (Asp)
  • Acesulfame (A.k)
  • Steviol
  • Saccharine (Sac)
  • Dextrose
  • Maltose


Hydration is an important part of our diets and fitness routines, just be aware of what else your drink may be adding to your diet. When in doubt stick to what's natural to our bodies... water!

Blog post by Erin Womboldt.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Kettlebell Swing into Summer

I can’t think of better piece of equipment in the gym than a kettlebell. There are over a dozen exercises that can be done with a kettlebell but today I want to highlight one of my all-time favorite exercises; The Kettlebell Swing.

The kettlebell swing (if done correctly) can be an amazing exercise to incorporate into your program. Whether you are looking to develop lower body explosive power, or just looking to tone up those glutes for the summer, the kettlebell swing is sure not to disappoint.

It’s a Hinge NOT a Squat!


First and foremost, the kettlebell swing is a hinge movement pattern, not a squat. A hinge is essentially maximal hip bend with minimal knee bend (think deadlift). As the hips come back in your hinge, the torso will begin to come down as well. On the other hand, a squat is maximal hip and knee bend simultaneously. During a squat, the torso will remain mostly vertical. This is a common error that I see most often with the exercise.

                                           Hip Hinge                                    Squat


Set Up and Execution


The set up for a kettlebell swing is fairly simple. Begin with kettlebell on the ground in front of you. It should be about arm’s length away. To begin, hip hinge back and place your hand firmly wrapped around the handle of the kettlebell. At this point, you can shift your weight back a bit and the bell should tilt on its side slightly.

While maintaining your hinged position, you will ‘hike’ the kettlebell back towards your glutes.

1                                                      2

Once the kettlebell has been hiked, proceed by driving the bell forward using your hips, glutes and hamstrings.  As the bell reaches shoulder height, engage your lats, pecs, shoulders and core to decelerate the bell.  

3

Tips

  • Sometimes the arms will start to do all the work in the movement if the weight is too light. If you feel like you are not engaging your posterior chain during the movement, try using a heavier kettlebell. I find this sometimes will clear up that problem.
  • Breathe! Breathing during the swing is very important. You should be exhaling forcefully as you drive the weight forward and inhaling at the top of the movement just as the bell begins to make its downward phase. Proper breathing during the swing will help brace the core and prevent injury.
  • Be Patient! A lot of times I notice there to be a disconnect between the upper and lower body during the swing. The most common error I see is, during the downward phase, the client will break their hips back into a hinge before the kettlebell has reached the hips. Breaking the hips back early can cause the kettlebell to travel below the knee and in turn create excessive tension in the lower back.


Blog post by Greg Wilson.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Motivational Strategies for Successful Training

Hi everyone! If you are reading this, then you are probably searching for some information to help you stay motivated with your training. No matter who you are, whether you are a beginner just starting out or a seasoned gym veteran, everyone has reached a point where they have hit a wall (metaphorically, that is).


My Story


For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Greg Wilson. I am a new strength & conditioning coach at the Mashpee Fitness Center (a division of Cape Cod Rehab). After a very successful high school and collegiate track and field career as a shot-put, discus and hammer thrower a few years ago, I was tipping the scales at a whopping 265 lbs. Needless to say, I was a bit stout.

As time went on and my knowledge of training and nutrition began to develop, I started applying it to myself. My training became a lot smarter and my nutrition was getting better.

To make a long story short (and I mean long), after five months, I lost a total of 60 lbs. Now, as you can imagine, there were many ups and downs along the way and losing those 60lbs wasn’t easy. There were plenty of times when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel, but I managed to keep myself motivated and I kept moving forward.

Here are some strategies that I used to keep myself motivated…


Goal Setting


Goal setting is really important to me and should be important to you too! Setting a goal is a great motivator and successfully completing that goal is an even greater measure of success. Here are some important points to think about when setting goals:

  • Small Goals: Setting small goals allows you to generate more success for yourself. When you keep reaching your small goals, step by step, you gain motivation to keep going towards your biggest goal. Always set attainable goals.
  • Be Specific: Identify exactly what your specific goal is. If you want to improve your max bench press, don’t just say “I want to improve my max bench press”, give yourself a specific weight like, “I want to increase my max bench press by 10 lbs”. This will help further measure success.
  • Deadline: Sometimes you need to give yourself an end date to really get you going. If weight loss is a goal, tell yourself, “I am going to lose 10 lbs by October 31”. Make that your deadline and stick with it.
  • Measurable: This point can be related back to the Be Specific example. If you set a goal to improve your max bench press by 10 lbs, and you meet that goal, then that is a measure of success. Another example would be if your goal is to lose 1 lb in 1 week and you are successful, then that is measurable.


Other Strategies


Here are some strategies to keep you moving forward if goal setting isn’t working for you, or if you just want a little extra motivation.

  • Positive Attitude: I think the number one problem for most people is that they are always down on themselves. You can’t put yourself down. Always keep a positive attitude and block out the negativity.
  • Collaborate: If you know somebody who has similar goals to you, or if they have already done something that you are trying to accomplish, talk to them. They might be able to give you advice on something you’re having an issue with.
  • Keep an Open Mind: It is always important to try to keep an open mind, especially when beginning a new training program or diet. Always give it a chance, because you never know what could happen.
  • Remove “Can’t” from your vocabulary: People use the word “CAN’T” too often. Instead of  “I can’t”, try saying “I will”.
  • Never Give Up: No matter how hard something gets. Never give up. Keep chipping away at it, because eventually you will break through your wall.

I hope that some of this information helps you to stay motivated and to never stop pursuing your training and nutritional goals, no matter how long they take! I think Arnold Schwarzenegger said it best….

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”

Blog post by Greg Wilson.