Tag: training
November 18, 2014

Training Tip Tuesday – Getting the Most Out of Assisted Pull Ups


This week’s Tuesday training tip is all about pull ups. What level of assistance should you use and why is one of the most frequently asked question we get at Athletes Equation.  When using bands for assistance it is easy to turn a challenging exercise like chin ups and pull ups into a complete waste of time. When doing an exercise like a pull up it is easy to get lost in what is the real goal of the exercise. Vertical pulling like the Pull up, Chin up or Lat Pull down is designed to build strength in the biceps, upper back and lower back. Usually Lat pull downs are the easiest exercise of the three where chin ups and pull ups are challenging for most people so they will default to Lat Pull downs because it is easier. However you are limiting your potential significantly by doing that.

We use bands to give our clients assistance in performing body weight vertical pulls. But, the biggest mistake our clients make is to not challenge the drill. Turning the vertical pulling variation into an easy exercise. Vertical pulling is hard plain and simple. The goal of the exercise should be like the goal when learning to ride a bicycle. That is to get the training wheels off and for body weight vertical pulls like pull ups and chin ups bands are the training wheels. Just like riding a bike once you are able to do body weight pulls without assistance it is very hard to lose that skill. Even if you take time off from the gym.

How to go about getting rid of the training wheels. First is to understand the progression of the exercise. Pull ups and chin ups should be hard and by hard I mean you should be challenged for the final few reps to be able to perform them with proper technique. If rep one and ten feel the same than it is time to progress.

How to progress. It is easy. Everyone’s goal should be to eliminate the bands and do body weight pull ups. Everyone is capable of doing this and I mean that. It takes dedication and desire to achieve. But, everyone is capable of building that level of strength. So once you make your mind up to get rid of the training wheels it is about following a progressions to get to the goal.

Here is the road map.

  1. Understand where you are at. Can you do one pull up or do you need assistance?
  2. If you can do one pull than your job is to always try to do one or more pull ups before using assistance.
  3. If you can’t do a body weight pull up than your job is to know what is the least amount of assistance you need to perform a single hard pull up.
    1. Decide which colored band that is or whatever other assistance you are using.
  4. When using assistance you should use the least amount of assistance and perform as many reps as you can. If you don’t reach the prescribe amount of reps that is ok. Get as many as you can with no assistance than use as little assistance as possible to finish the number of desired reps.
    1. For example if the prescription is 10 reps and you can only do 5 BW pull ups do as many pull ups as you can then use as little assistance as possible to finish your final five reps.
  5. Continue to track your progress and try to improve each time you do pull ups.

Performing pull ups and chin ups are not easy. But, improving strength with them is. You just have to be focused on the task at hand which is taking of the training wheels.

core anatomy
October 8, 2014

Building the Athletic Foundation: The Truth about Core Training for Athletes


There is one area of training for sports performance that is often neglected, miss interpreted or poorly applied by Coaches and Athletes. You can go online or visit your local bookstore and find books and plenty of articles written on Core Training for athletes. Most Coaches and Athletes will tell you they know how to train their core. A vast majority of the time when Core training is discussed in conversation or in a written article or book the main focus is on abdominal musculature training and primarily the movement of trunk flexion.   When it comes to real Core Training for athletes it is about developing a foundation in the torso that the athlete can use to generate more force with their extremities and to transfer energy developed by the legs to the upper body. It is this Athletic foundation that will enable any athlete to improve and perform at a higher level. The abdominal musculature/ trunk flexion way of thinking for sports performance is the equivalent to people thinking the world was flat during Christopher Columbus’ time. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how focusing on developing the Athletic Foundation will create a better athlete and provide you with some simple exercises that will make any athlete better.

 

core anatomy

Athletic Performance core anatomy

Why is focusing on Abdominal training inappropriate for athletes? It isn’t that focusing on “abs” is bad. It is just that the abdominal wall is just one small portion of the musculature that makes up the Athletic Foundation.   If you think of your Athletic Foundation and torso as a box you will understand that this foundation has three dimensions to it. Traditional abdominal focused core training is one dimensional. The Athletic Foundation as a Top, bottom, Front, Back, Left and right side to it. You must train all of these aspects to create balance and strength throughout the torso. The top of the box is created by the diaphragm. This is the muscle that aids in breathing. But, it also separates the abdominal cavity of the torso from the cavity where the lungs and heart are located. The bottom of the box will be made up of the musculature that fills the bottom of the pelvic floor. Both of these sets of musculature is very strong and in the martial arts these two muscle systems are utilized to create great amounts of rigidity for both delivering strong blows but also protecting one’s self from taking strong blows. The sides of the box are going to be created by the internal and external obliques.   These muscles both flex the trunk but also create rotation. The back of the box is created by the musculature on the posterior side of the body. As you can see from the picture above that this is a great deal of musculature. These muscles primary job is to keep our body up right. Without strength in these muscles becoming faster and stronger is much harder than it needs to be. Finally the front of the box is created by two muscles that have varying roles. First, is the muscle that most people are knowledgeable of, it is the rectus abdominis. AKA the 6 Pack, there is probably no more misunderstood muscle in the human body than this muscle. First, to have a six pack has everything to do with body fat percentage and nothing to do with strength. But, that is a whole other topic. Second, if this muscle was meant for pure flexion like a sit up it would not have the appearance it has. The bands of connective tissue that creates the six pack appearance are there so this muscle can make a contraction with minimal movement. If it was meant to create a large movement like in a crunch these stents would not be there and this muscle would look more like two long muscles then the six pack that is there. The other muscle is the Transverse Abdominis. This muscle is vastly more important than the rectus abdominis and is designed with a huge surface area that can generate large amounts of stability in the torso.

 

Now that you have a better understanding of the structure of the Athletic Foundation we will learn how this structure needs to be trained.   At Athletes Equation we have 6 aspects of training that we focus on when training the Athletic Foundation. The 6 Criteria of training are:

  1. Dynamic Abdominal Training
  2. Static Abdominal Training
  3. Posterior Hip Development
  4. Medial Hip Development
  5. Posterior Shoulder training
  6. Spinal Stabilization

Our exercises we use for training the Athletic Foundation must meet more than one of these criteria for us to utilize it in our training program. Below is the Athletes Equation Big 12 exercises for an Athletic Foundation of Iron.

 

Drill One – Single Leg Hip Lift (Posterior Hip Development/Spinal Stabilization)

 

Drill Two – The Bird Dog (Spinal Stabilization/Static Abdominal Training)

 

Drill Three – Front Plank (Spinal Stabilization/Posterior Shoulder Training/Static Abdominal Training)

 

Drill Four – Push Up position Shoulder Taps (Posterior Shoulder Training/Spinal Stabilization)

 

Drill Five – Double Leg Lowers (Spinal Stabilization/Dynamic Abdominal Training)

 

Drill Six – Side Plank (Static Abdominal Training/Spinal Stabilization/Posterior Shoulder Training)

 

Drill Seven – The Russian Twist (Dynamic Abdominal Training/Spinal Stabilization)

 

Drill Eight – Hip Abduction Leg Lift (Medial Hip Training/Spinal Stabilization)

 

Drill Nine – Dead Bugs (dynamic Abdominal Training/ Spinal Stabilization)

 

Drill Ten – Draw in crunch (Dynamic Abdominal Training/Spinal Stabilization)

 

Drill Eleven – Athletic Position Band Holds (Spinal Stabilization/Static Abdominal Training)

 

Drill Twelve – Band Tears (posterior shoulder training/Spinal Stabilization)