Cleanses are still bullshit

batmancleanses

Slap the toxins right out of your mouth

 

“Rid your body of toxins”… “Jumpstart your metabolism!”… “7 days to a flatter stomach!”… Sounds great, doesn’t it? The thing is… It’s bullshit. As nice as it would be to be able to “get a flat stomach in 7 days”, or to “jumpstart your metabolism” – things aren’t that simple, and frankly, they don’t work that way. Juicing, cleanses, detoxes, free radicals – oh my! It’s no wonder that in today’s world people tend to believe in these products when the companies that sell them do such a great job marketing them by preying on people’s fears and emotions. Here’s the thing, you don’t have to fall for it.

Let’s go over a few things real quick. First, let’s outline some information that will help understand just exactly why these things are bogus.

  • Toxins & Free Radicals: Ever notice how whenever the word “toxin” is used, no one can identify what toxin/toxins they’re specifically talking about? It’s usually more of a generalization. Free radicals, on the other hand, are a bit more specific, but still pretty generalized.

What people buying these products don’t know, is that the human body has a “detox system” built into it already! Your renal and digestive system (kidneys & liver specifically) do a FINE job of “ridding your body of toxins”. Furthermore, your body produces antioxidants to deal with free radicals. So if you’re drinking enough water and eating a reasonable amount of fruits and veggies – you’re probably good.

  • Weight loss: I’m talking about real, sustainable weight loss. It takes time! Losing body fat requires you to be in a caloric deficit (burning more calories/day than you consume). At best, you can expect to safely lose about 1-2Lbs/week of body fat depending on the individual.

So with these bits of information in mind, let’s quickly examine these “detoxes” and “cleanses”. First off, do they work, and if so, how?

  • Cleanses/Detoxes work primarily by putting the person in a heavy caloric deficit (good right? Not exactly…) The issue with this is that typically the reduction in calories is so great, that once that person starts eating food again, their weight will creep right back up to where it was before. So in other words, not sustainable. Some even use diuretic herbs to help “cleanse the body” of demons, taco bell, and other toxins. So all of that water weight you shed will be coming right back once you’re no longer running to the toilet every 30-45mins. Sounds like fun!…
  • Real, sustainable weight loss takes time and effort. PERIOD! Repeat after me, there are no shortcuts, there are no magic pills or Brazilian fruit juices that will give you a six pack, or make you look 15 years younger. Those things require consistency, dedication, time, effort, and probably a time machine. Again, you need to be in a caloric deficit in order to lose weight and drop body fat. This, combined with a quality exercise program or an adequate amount of daily activity – is what will coax the body in a healthy direction. Remember, to keep the weight off you need to do so in a rational and safe manner. This combined with an appropriate lifestyle adjustment will help ensure success. Not sexy, but it’s the truth.

So do yourself a favor. The next time you consider paying for a cleanse or a detox, save yourself the time, money and suffering, and spend it on something useful – like food and water. Eat your fruits and veggies, get your protein, don’t fear carbohydrates – you need those for energy, and consume healthy fats. If you have any more questions about losing body fat and increasing lean muscle mass, let me know!

     Justin

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Supplements:

Supplements! At one point or another, most of you have probably wondered or even tried various kinds of supplements to help fuel your workouts, aid in your recovery, or just help you get mad yolked swole. In any event, there’s a few things you should know before you embark on the Wild West that is the supplement industry. Supplement companies promise easy weight loss, a tight round booty, muscle mass gains beyond your wildest dreams, a big chest and arms, and a shredded six-pack – and all of this can be yours for just three easy payments of $19.95! Plus shipping and handling of course…

That moment you realize you forgot your pre-workout…

 

When it comes to supplementation, one thing needs to be understood above all else, and that is that you CAN NOT expect progress if your diet is not on point. Trying to use supplements before getting your diet in order is like trying to snatch before you can deadlift. Not very smart or effective.

Don’t be this guy

 

Enough with the sensible talk, let’s get into some supplements! Rather than try to cover the vast array of supplements available, I’m going to only focus on a few supplements that are actually backed by science, and have true value for you based on your goals.


Whey Protein Powder:

 

Whey protein powder is a protein supplement that is derived from milk. Whey is one part of milk protein, and casein is the other part. The two proteins are separated from milk by using a coagulant which gives us whey, and curds (casein). Now that we’ve got that covered, lets discuss why this stuff may be worth your hard earned dollars.

 

Why take it?

  • Whey is useful in aiding hitting your daily protein goal.
  • Whey is absorbed faster than other types of proteins, and is therefore great for increasing muscle protein synthesis (muscle protein synthesis is the driving force behind adaptive responses to exercise and represents a widely adopted proxy for gauging chronic efficacy of acute interventions).
  • Whey contains a large amount of L-cysteine, which helps aid against developing a deficiency associated with diabetes and aging.
  • Whey protein has been claimed to aid in fat loss, but it is in fact the inintake of protein itself that aids in fat loss, not just the supplement alone.
  • Whey protein does not harm the kidneys, but if you have a damaged liver or kidneys, it may exacerbate the condition. You should speak to your physician not only if you are considering supplementing with whey protein, but are considering increasing your protein intake drastically.

 

How much should I take?

So now you know the benefits of supplementing with Whey protein. Next question, how much do you need to take? Well, the science says that there is no benefit from taking in more than 0.55g of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, a 175Lb athletic male would only truly need 96g PER DAY. The minimum requirement for protein intake is 0.36g per pound of bodyweight for sedentary individuals, or 63g for a 175Lb sedentary male. None of this is set in stone, and taking more than .55g/day won’t hurt you if there is a need for it depending on your needs.


Fish Oil:

 

Ah fish oil, our stinky inflammation fighting friend. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about the many benefits associated with taking fish oil. So what’s the deal, and why should you bother looking into this stuff?

 

Fish oil is really just a term used to refer to the two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fats are most typically found in fish, phytoplankton, and other animal products (Vegans, you’re out of luck there). Fish are the most abundant and cheapest source.

 

Enough science! Why would it be good for you to take this? Well, the typical American diet is terribly disproportionate in our omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid ratio. Basically, we eat a lot of eggs, meat, etc. Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids helps bring the ratio back into balance, which should be 1:1. So why is fish oil worth considering?

 

Why take it?

  • Fish oil can help reduce high levels of triglycerides in people that have elevated levels, but it can also increase cholesterol levels. So if you have cholesterol problems, consult your physician.
  • Fish oil can help decrease the risk of diabetes, and several forms of cancer – including breast cancer.
  • Fish oil has been shown to be as effective as pharmaceutical drugs in combating depression.
  • Fish oil is associated with decreasing muscle soreness (most notably – DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness).

 

How much should I take?

The recommended dose for “general health” is 250mg a day. The American Heart Association recommends 1g a day. For those of you looking to use it to reduce soreness and inflamation, 6g a day (spread out throughout the day) is the recommended dose.


Vitamin D: (Vitamin D3)


Vitamin D. This is another one you’ve probably heard plenty about. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin/nutrient, and is obtained from sunlight and food sources such as fish, eggs, and fortified dairy products. The body produces it from sunlight exposure and cholesterol.

 

Why take it?

  • Increased cognitive function
  • Immunity boosting properties
  • Bone health
  • Reduction of the risk of: Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis
  • Increased testosterone levels


Looks pretty good, right?

How much should I take?

The current RDA for Vitamin D is between 400-800IU/day. For adults, the recommended dosage is 2,000IU/day. The safe higher end dosage is set at 10,000IU/day. Dosage based on Bodyweight is set at 20-80IU/kg of bodyweight per day (1,600-6,300IU/day for a 175Lb male).

It is best taken with meals containing fat to help aid with absorption. It should also be noted that Vitamin D3 is the preferred form of the nutrient due to better effectiveness.

 

Creatine:

 

Creatine is one of the most studied supplements out there, but is also misunderstood by many. Lets put an end to that right now. First off, what is it, and what does it do? Creatine is molecule that is found in foods such as meat, eggs, and fish. It is also produced in the body. That’s right, you make it on your own. The main role of creatine within the body is that it stores high-energy phosphate groups, aka – phosphocreatine. The body uses these phosphate groups to aid in the production of energy during periods of stress (exercise, going HAM, etc). In plain English, it means it supplies energy to your cells and makes you stronger!

 

What is creatine, and what does it do?

Why take it?

  • Creatine increases power output and exercise intensity.
  • Creatine increases lean body mass

Creatine is safe and effective when supplemented properly. If you are going to take it, creatine monohydrate is the most cheap and effective version. Just make sure you are getting plenty of water while supplementing with it.

 

How much should I take?

If you’re going to go through a “loading phase”, the recommendation is to take about 20g/day for the first 5-7 days, and 2-5g per day after that. It should also be noted that taking high doses of creatine can cause nausea, cramping, and “digestive issues”. So, just make sure you stay within the proper dosage levels.

So hopefully now you have a better understanding of some supplements that are actually backed by science. Just remember that in order for you to get any benefit from any of these supplements that you have to begin with a sound diet.


 


References:

 

Atherton PJ, Smith K. Muscle protein synthesis in response to nutrition and exercise. J Physiol (Lond). 2012;590(Pt 5):1049-57.

Adequate Protein Intake

Creatine

Fish Oil

Whey Protein

Alternative Exercises: Choosing the right exercises for your body

Today’s guest post comes from my friend, Matt Immerman. Matt is a recent graduate of The Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Mercer University in Atlanta, GA. Matt has been in the health and fitness industry for ten years. He started out as a trainer helping people to get stronger, and more fit. Like many trainers, Matt had to work around his client’s various limitations. Knowing what exercise is appropriate for you (or your client) is vital to long term progress and injury prevention.


Picking the right exercise for your body

Who this article is for:

Those who are new to weight training or exercise.

Or those who have had a history of problems with their knees, back or shoulders and want to continue strength training without further aggravating old injuries.

So you have decided to pick up weight training! Right on! The benefits of lifting relatively heavy weight are too innumerable to list. However, the other side to this coin is that there are potential risks (like with any physical activity) when you engage in weight training. Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize this risk by picking the right exercise for YOUR body. With a little knowledge you can enjoy the many benefits of strength training while minimizing the potential risks that come with it.

In this article, I will offer alternative exercises to the “staples” of weight training which include barbell squats, deadlifts, and shoulder presses. Now, before you completely tune me out, please know that I am a HUGE fan of these exercises. When done correctly with proper form they can be extremely beneficial in building strength, improving bone density, helping with balance, and the list goes on. However, not everyone is able to perform all of these exercises for a myriad of reasons… whether it’s a previous injury, tight muscles and joints, bony anatomy, or even lack of space or proper equipment available at your gym. And that’s okay! Just because something may be preventing you from doing squats or deadlifts or presses doesn’t mean that you still can`t train hard!

What follows are a few of my favorite alternative exercises which I like to perform which target similar muscle groups and still provide an awesome bang for your buck much like the aforementioned “staples.”

Walking Lunges

These are great for working the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings. You can also add plenty of resistance to this exercise simply by holding dumbbells in each hand. Unlike the back squat, your torso is vertical and the weight is down at your sides which means the lower back is not having to work as hard as it does in a back squat which means you can work the legs as hard as you want while `working around the back.` This is a great option for those whose backs don’t tolerate the back squat as well especially as the weight gets heavy.  As an added bonus, the walking lunge can also challenge your balance and ability to decelerate which is key for sports as well as just staying fit and healthy.

Sled Pushes

Sled Pushes

The sled push is an awesome exercise which also is fairly easy on the joints because it is purely concentric in nature. Furthermore, it is very easy to make sure your back remains nice and straight and that you are only using your legs to push the sled. This exercise is great for building lower body strength and as added bonus it gets you breathing pretty hard! Plus there is nothing more satisfying knowing you just pushed a ton of weight across the gym! Be careful on these though…get too good at these and all your friends will start calling you when their cars are stuck in the snow!

Landmine Press

Landmine Press

This exercise is great for hitting the same muscles that you would target with a traditional shoulder press but with the different angle, you are much less likely to impinge some of the smaller muscles in the shoulder. Furthermore, it is much easier to keep your back straight and abs tight with this exercise thereby ensuring you are working the shoulder and not putting undue stress on the back by over -arching.

Those were just a few examples of alternative exercises you can play around with and see what works best for you. Ultimately the best thing is to see a professional trainer who can help you along your path to fitness! Thanks for reading!

Matt Immerman  PT, DPT, CPT

The Pushup:

Ah the pushup. An exercise that countless women are convinced they’ll never do, and one that most men feel is a God given right to do. I’m tired of seeing women doing these from the knees, and the contortion act many men put on while attempting them. Its got to stop. If any woman has hopes of doing an actual pushup one day, it’s time to start training for them correctly.

The pushup is like a mobile plank. You maintain neutral spine throughout the range of motion. The chest, shoulders, and triceps fire to move the body while the core, legs, serratus, and upper back musculature work to stabilize the body. The elbows stay close to the body to generate external rotation and torque from the shoulder joint & upper body, and the scapulae retract and depress on the way down and on the way up to stabilize the shoulder joint until end range is reached at the top, where they protract a bit.

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Nasty looking push up

So ladies, how are you going to do a pushup if it’s not from the knees? Well, first we can try elevating the surface that you’re pushing from. A bench, step, or even an elevated barbell will do. The idea here being that you eventually work your way down to a more parallel position, i.e – the floor. The idea here is to train in the position that you’re trying to achieve, only modified. You can also use bands to help offset the load of your own bodyweight. Trying to do this from the knees isn’t going to cut it in the long run.

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Band assisted Pushup

Elevating the surface that you’re pushing from is a great way to help scale the exercise, but there are a few key components you’ll need to do them properly.

– Scapular stability (Keeping the shoulder blades in retraction and depression, aka – “down & back” while descending to the floor and on the way back up)
– Adequate core strength and stability
– Glute activation to help further stabilize your core

What’s scapular stability? Simply put, it’s the ability to keep the shoulder blades in a controlled/fixed position while the arms and rest of the body moves. What you often see when people have poor scapular control is a forward head posture as they descend towards the floor in the pushup. This is a common compensation for the individual’s inability to properly retract, depress and stabilize their shoulder blades, among other things. A lack of scapular stability also prevents the chest and shoulders from firing maximally to drive the movement. A lack of upper back strength and scapular stability puts you at a disadvantage, and makes your pushups look like crap.

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Scapular retraction and depression

There’s another thing I’d like to touch on in regards to upper body positioning. The elbows. Keeping the elbows “in” is important for proper recruitment and shoulder mechanics. The more you “flare” the elbows out to the side away from your torso, the more the shoulders become internally rotated. For pressing mechanics, we want an externally rotated shoulder. This allows us to generate more torque through the joint, and keeps the shoulder joint in a safer position to operate within while loaded. Plus, healthy rotator cuffs are kind if important.

Core strength and stability. Ever see people doing pushups with a ridiculously swayed back? Of course you have! Excessive lumbar lordosis (extreme lower back curvature) can be pretty to look at, but it’s not very comfortable in a loaded position. If the anterior core (aaaaaab-dominals) isn’t firing, you’re going to see that lower back arch like Nicki Minaj doing the Anaconda. In this instance it’s not a good thing.

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Yeah...

Glute activation is also extremely important because the glutes have to fire in order to help stabilize the lumbar spine as well. I’ve always said, “Never underestimate the power of the ass”, and this also holds true for the pushup. The combination of a weak anterior core and poor glute activation makes doing a proper push up pretty much impossible. So get that booty fired up!

So to summarize:

• Elevate the surface from which you’re pushing from while maintaining proper position
• Make sure you’re squeezing your shoulder blades down and back to maintain proper stability in the upper back
• Make sure you’re bracing the core musculature while performing the push up
• Keep your elbows close to your torso throughout the range of motion
•  Squeeze your butt!

Pick up something heavy.

Proximal stability for distal mobility:

There are many times I can think of when a new client comes in and is complaining of stiffness in the hips or shoulders, or their calves are tight. When I ask them what they’ve been trying to do in order to correct this issue, I usually hear something like this…

“I stretch it occasionally. You know, just try to loosen it up so it doesn’t bother me”.

After assessing and screening these individuals, I often find that they lack core/spinal stability. Tissues may be “tight”, but it’s imperative to find out WHY they’re tight to begin with.

What these poor souls don’t realize is that aside from possibly having some true tissue stiffness, they also possess a lack of core stability. What needs to be understood is that a lack of stability in the core has an impact on the other joints (hip, shoulder, neck, ankle, ect).

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What happens over time is that these joints basically “pick up the slack” for the lack of core/spinal stability, and in turn the body creates an artificial stability by “locking down” the tissues at that joint. That joint becomes unable to proficiently transfer any sort of load or force back towards the core because the body realizes that the core can’t handle it. This can happen up and down the kinetic chain.

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…Nerd alert!

If we take a look at how each of us develops from an early age, you’ll see that we are born with mobility. It’s through exploring movement as infants, trial and error and a LOT of reppetition that we gain our stability. Gray Cook explains this very nicely in the video below. I especially like how he talks about kicking your kid so that he or she has to keep getting back up to truly gain the ability to stand and eventually, walk.

Here is an image of the progression of gross motor control. Remember the good ol’ days?

Started from the bottom, now we here.

Life has a funny way of changing this. As we age, we pick up bad movement habits, we sit more and we move less. The body is incredibly good at finding alternatives and adapting when something in the chain isn’t working properly. This brings me to my next point, which is… Stretching is NOT always the answer when stiffness/tightness is present.

You can stretch and foam roll all you want, but if that joint is unstable, or there’s an unstable joint in one of your myofascial lines (Thomas Myers anyone?), your body is going to b**** slap you right back to where you were before – TIGHT, WEAK & UNSTABLE.

For example. I routinely see people with “tight shoulders” who also present very poor scapular control/stability. I have them perform exercises that focus on joint centration and stability and the tension may subside. Of course this isn’t always the case, and things aren’t typically that simple. This is why it’s imperative that we look elsewhere for issues that may be contributing to the problem. The point is that stretching should not be your go-to whenever tension is present. Investigate, assess and correct.

Kettlebell training can be especially beneficial if executed correctly for shoulder stability. The turkish get-up is one of my absolute favorite exercises for this. Of course, whether or not they are safe for you or a client is subjective, but when learned correctly they are an invaluable tool for shoulder health and performance. Bottoms-up kettlebell variations are also a simpler alternative for working shoulder stability.

Turkish Get-Up:

Bottoms-up Kettlebell Carry:  Eric Cressey

“Failure of the rotator cuff and the scapular stabilizers to maintain the humeral head in the glenoid fossa can lead to excessive humeral head migration and either increased tensile stress on the tendons 10, 15 or compression of the tendons from abutment of the humeral head on the undersurface of the acromian.” (1)

External rotation much?!

 

Eric Cressey on anterior humeral glide in a common rowing motion:

So, to quickly recap:

  • If your core is weak/unstable, surrounding joints/tissues can & will pick up the slack and create tension at those joints/tissues
  • Unstable joints are sloppy joints. They under perform and can often cause discomfort or pain for the individual depending on the severity
  • Working on joint centration and stressing osteokinematics as well as arthrokinematics is vital to your joint health & overall performance

Osteokinematics:

  • Gross movements of bones at joints
  • Flexion / extension
  • Abduction / adduction
  • Internal rotation / external rotation

Arthrokinematics:

  • Small amplitude motions of bones at joint surface
  • Roll
  • Glide (or slide)
  • Spin

 


 

References:

(1)  Tovin BJ. Prevention and Treatment of Swimmer’s Shoulder. N Am J Sports Phys Ther. 2006;1(4):166-75.

 

Pick up something heavy.

The Hip Hinge:

When it comes to being a “functional badass”, there are many ways to display the various qualities that showcase the body’s ability to perform.  In the world of “functional fitness”, it’s easy to lose sight of the fundamentals.  It may look impressive to see some poor soul pistol squatting on a kettlebell while simultaneously doing a dumbbell curl with one hand, and an overhead press in the other; but that doesn’t have much carryover to the real world.  Unless of course, you work for Cirque du soleil.  As much as Planet Fitness loves to mock strength, (or anything remotely related to strength for that matter), “picking stuff up and putting it down” is in fact, incredibly beneficial!  Man or woman, it doesn’t matter.  Getting stronger is good for you, regardless of what sport or activities you engage in.

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So much room for activities!

If you are going to engage in picking up heavy stuff regularly, and you should – then you need to do it correctly. Hint – it doesn’t involve standing on a Bosu… As you may have guessed from the title, I’m talking about… THE HIP HINGE!

The hip hinge is the most powerful movement a human can do, it’s the apex movement of an apex hunter– Dan John.

The hip hinge is one of the most beneficial movement patterns that we should be utilizing in everyday life. Everyone should master this movement, for a number of reasons.

–  Hip hinging is a requisite for athletic movement & performance
–  The hip hinge allows for maximal activation and utilization of the posterior chain; and can help bring balance between the anterior & posterior chain
–  It allows for loads to be lifted with the hips, while sparing the knees and the spine (when done correctly)
–  It can increase hamstring flexibility
–  When done quickly and explosively, it’s incredibly effective for burning fat
–  Hip hinging is generally much easier to master and perform than the squat
–  Hip hinging is corrective
–  Learning the hip hinge will allow you to deadlift, and therefore become superhuman, and super sexy.

The list goes on and on…

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Ovechkin single leg hinging like a boss.

Before you go and grab a barbell or kettlebell, lets take a look at something that’s vital to this movement. Core stability! Your spine will thank you, and chances are that if you work a desk job, you could use the help.

Deadbugs:

Deadbugs are a great core stabilization exercise. You begin by laying on your back, keeping your back flat against the floor. Keep your hips and knees bent. Extend one leg while keeping the static leg from drawing in towards the chest. The objective here it to avoid extension of the spine (excessive arching of the lower back), so make sure your lower back is flat against the floor, and your “ribcage is down”.

Planks:

Planks are about recruitment, not endurance. There is little reason if any to hold a plank for any ridiculous period of time. Make sure to contract the glutes, quads, abdominals, lats, and shoulders maximally.

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Stir the Pot:

From the brilliant Dr. Stuart McGill.  What we’re going for here is a neutral/stable spine.  Using the swiss ball challenges the core musculature’s ability to stabilize the spine – and you need that!  Placing your elbows on a swiss ball, make small smooth circles while keeping the rest of your body still.  Eventually, try to make the circles larger.

Now lets get into some hinging! There are many progressions, regressions, and ways to learn and coach the hip hinge.

The Dowel Method:

For beginners the dowel method can work well. The dowel method is great because it provides instant kinesthetic feedback. Here are a few pointers for performing it:

–  Start with a symmetrical shoulder width stance
–  Holding the dowel behind you, make sure your body contacts the dowel at three points (the head, upper back, and lower back)
–  One of your hands should be holding the dowel at the small of your neck and the other at the small of the lower back
–  Maintain contact at the three points (head, upper and lower back)
–  Keep abdominals braced (as if you were about to be punched in the stomach)
–  Initiate the movement by bending at the waist and sitting your hips back behind you
–  Keep your shins vertical throughout the movement, allowing the knees to bend only to allow for the hips to sit back
–  Squeeze the glutes to return the torso to the upright position

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Once you’ve mastered the basic hip hinge pattern, you can advance to a loaded version of the movement – the kettlebell Romanian deadlift.

Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift:

The kettlebell RDL (Romanian DeadLift) is a nice progression for a beginner who doesn’t possess any profound limitations in motor control or mobility/stability. If you do have issues getting into a proper deadlifting position, don’t worry; the movement can be easily scaled as you work towards improving your limitations. You can perform the KB RDL on a step, yoga block, or plyo-box to shorten up the range of motion. Simply place the kettlebell on one of these options and perform the lift. If you’re still struggling with the movement after adding these implements, then you’ll need to address those deficiencies first.

Here are some tips:

–  Stand over the kettlebell with a symmetrical hip-width stance
–  Line up the midpoint of the feet with the handle of the KB
–  Brace the core, keep the spine neutral and the back straight throughout the movement
–  Send the hips back, keeping the shins vertical
–  Reach down to grasp the handle of the KB (you should feel the hips & hamstrings “turn on” at this point)
–  Squeeze glutes and push the feet into the floor (emphasis on heels and mid-foot) as you stand up
–  Finish with a strong squeeze of the glutes at the top before lowering the kettlebell

Alright, so now you’ve got the basic hip hinge pattern down. Lets move onto another incredible movement – the Kettlebell Swing!

Kettlebell Swing:

The kettlebell swing is an explosive movement that is capable of building strength and improving conditioning. It does much more than that though.  The recruitment of the posterior chain and the core strength and stability that are needed make this exercise very demanding, but also insanely beneficial.  Not only that, but kettlebell swings are a great alternative to the much more technical Olympic lifts.

In a study conducted by Stuart McGill it was noted that “Some unique loading patterns discovered during the kettlebell swing included the posterior shear of the L4 vertebra on L5, which is opposite in polarity to a traditional lift. Thus, quantitative analysis provides an insight into why many individuals credit kettlebell swings with restoring and enhancing back health and function, although a few find that they irritate tissues.”  If they’re good enough for the king of back health, they’re good enough for me.

Here’s a video by Tony Gentilcore on the kettlebell swing:

TonyGentilcore.com Cleaning Up Kettlebell Swing T…: http://youtu.be/xWgl1rEiCeQ

So there you have it.  These are just a few examples of what learning how to hip hinge can do for you.  More importantly, if you’re someone who is performing this movement incorrectly day in and day out, then low back pain is likely to be a result eventually.  It’s best to understand how to perform basic human movements correctly since most of us do these things fairly often.  Not only that, but correctly learning how to hip hinge will allow you to work with a multitude of wonderful strength tools such as barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, bands, ect.  Put simply, there is a bunch of valuable carryover that this movement will provide you with.

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References:

McGill, S. M., & Marshall, L. W. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21997449

Pick up something heavy.

The Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex, Part 1:

Today I’m fortunate enough to have my very first guest post by someone who I respect and admire in this industry – my brother, Brandon McCary. Brandon is a Rehab Specialist who holds certifications with NASM (PES), Functional Movement Systems (Level-2 FMS Expert), and ISSA (SSN) – just to name a few.
If you’re a trainer, than this is a great post for you. So with that, enjoy!
_________________________________________________________
The Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex, Part 1.
The core is comprised of two stabilization systems, the local and global core systems. The core is made up of muscles and connective tissues of the lumbar spine, pelvic girdle, and hip joint, which constitutes the Lumbo-Pelvic-Hip Complex. The core is where the body’s center of gravity is located and where all movement originates. Active individuals with a stable core can prevent abdominal tears, by activating the local core prior to extremity movement, such as during a soccer strike.

 

 

File:Football iu 1996.jpg

 

 

A neuromuscularly efficient core is needed in order to have optimal neuromuscular control of the human movement system. A stable, strong, and powerful firing core prevents injury and allows for acceleration, deceleration, and stabilization during dynamic movements.

 

 

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The Local Stabilization System The primary muscles that make up the local stabilization system are the diaphragm, transverse abdominis, internal obliques, multifidus, and pelvic floor musculature. The local core muscles attachdirectly to the vertebrae. These deep muscles of the spine are primarily slow twitch muscle fibers, fibers with optimal endurance for maintaining posture and respiration. Muscle spindles are abundant among the local core muscles, muscle spindles are sensory receptors which detect the rate of change in muscle length.Inline image 5
Intervertebral Stability (deep stiffness) 

Intervertebral Stability (IVS) is only possible through training both types of intervertebral stiffness. The first type of stiffness is achieved by co-contraction of the transverse abdominus and multifidus by performing an exercise known as “Drawing-In”. Next up, performing exercises that increase intra-abdominal pressure, like “Belly Breathing” will also increase IVS. These exercises can be progressing through three different postures: Fundamental, Transitional, and Functional. A great example of transitional phase belly breathing is in the sphinx position (more on this cool stuff in part 2). By having both forms of core stiffness trained, you will have 100% local core stability achieved, which allows for optimal IVS, which then limits excessive compressive, shear, and rotational forces between spinal segments.

 

Core Stabilization Mechanisms The core is also stabilized during functional movement by two core stabilization mechanisms, one being the fascial nextwork that acts as an auxiliary core stabilizer by dynamic engagement, the thoracolumbar fascia mechanism. The second auxiliary core stabilizing mechanism is the intra-abdominal pressure mechanism, which activates the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

Inspiration and Expiration

Inspiration and expiration is also achieved via local core activation. The muscles required for inspiration and elevation of the ribs are your “principal” and “accessory” muscles. The principal muscles are the diaphragm, external intercostals, and the accessory muscles are the scalene group, sternocleidomastoid and pectoralis minor. The muscles required for expiration and rib depression are your “active breathing” and “quiet breathing” muscles. The active breathing muscles are the internal intercostals, abdominals and quadratus lumborum. As for quiet breathing, the expiration results from passive, elastic recoil of the lungs, rib cage, and diaphragm.


 

Diaphragm, Intra-abdominal Pressure, Pelvo-
Ocular Reflex

 

 

 

The “roof” of the local core, is the diaphragm. Since the diaphragm is located between the thoracic and abdominal cavities, learning to build intra-abdominal pressure will cause diaphragmatic elevation and pelvic floor contraction, which allows for decreased compressive forces across spinal segments. Simply being able to contract your diaphragm can help you prevent injury, and produce optimal movement! Learning to breathe with the diaphragm/abdomen rather than the chest/accessory musculature is extremely useful in pain relief and performance. Chest breathing can actually alter your head position due to the hypertonic/tight accessory neck muscles. The “pelvo-ocular reflex” theorized that one’s head position can have an effect on one’s pelvic position. If your head migrates forward, the pelvis reflexively rotates anteriorly to readjust one’s center of gravity, which will cause even further problems with thoracolumbar fascia pain of the low back. In part 2, exercises for diaphragmatic breathing and both the local, and global core will be discussed.
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Thoracolumbar Fascia Mechanism 
The thoracolumbar fascia (TLF) is a fascial network of noncontractile tissue that is engaged dynamically by contractile tissues that attach to it, such as the erector spinae, multifidus, transverse abdominis, internal oblique, gluteus maximus, latissimus dorsi, and quadratus lumborum. Training the local core achieves increased spinal stiffness/stability which decreases translational and rotational stress at the spine. The multifidus is the local core’s multisegmental “spinal glue”, and from the cervical region all the way down to the sacral region, the multifidus runs deep within each spinal segment, stabilizing each facet joint from the neck to the tailbone.

 

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Pelvic Floor Mechanism, Stress Incontinence 

 

 

The pelvic floor is considered the “floor” of the local core, and is activated when intra-abdominal pressure is present. Having weak pelvic floor musculature is common among adults, unfortunately, if it goes unnoticed for too long, pelvic floor dysfunction can set in. Also, common among females is stress incontinence, but the good news is, it can be easily treated with core stability exercises and functional movements. The deep squat exercise is actually great for recruiting the pelvic floor, and should be part of ones rehab program once local core stability has been worked on.

 

 

 

  The Global Stabilization System

The global core muscles are the quadratus lumborum, psoas major, external/internal obliques, rectus abdominis, gluteus medius, and adductor musculature. These muscles transfer loads between the upper and lower extremity and provide stability between the pelvis and spine.

Lumbo-Pelvic Stability (superficial stiffness) 

 

 

By simultaneously activating the abdominals (rectus abdominis), lower back (quadratus lumborum), buttock (gluteus medius) at the same time, you achieve what is called co-contraction of superficial musculature of the spine, which is known as an exercise called, “bracing”. Just like with drawing-in and belly breathing, there are also three different postures for core bracing: Fundamental, Transitional, and Functional. When the muscles are contracting, they are increasing stiffness between the spine and pelvis. A great example of a functional brace is when you stand up from squatting, and simultaneously brace the abs, low back and glutes in effort to stabilize the lumbar spine (the thoracolumbar fascia mechanism also has a role in this).

 

Optimal Movement Optimal neuromuscular control of movement is made up of several factors. We are already learned the local and global core systems role in movement, now it’s time to learn what other factors need to be considered for optimal movement.

 

 

 File:Muybridge disk step walk.jpg1. Length-Tension Relationships

Having an optimal gamma efferent system, which is achieved by having optimal force generation in relation to a muscles “tone”. Neurologically, normal muscles aren’t hypertonic (overactive/tight) or hypotonic (underactive/weak+tight). For ex. When running, having the ability to generate force/tension in the hamstrings without spasticity (muscle spasm) occuring!

 

 

 

 File:Lion stretching at Ouwehands 2010.JPG2. Force-Couple Relationships

Another necessary factor for having optimal neuromuscular control is having normal force-coupling relationships, or the ability to activate groups of muscles at once. A great example would be during a baseball pitcher’s throw, the upper and lower trapezius muscles have to activate together in order to stabilize scapular upward rotation.

 

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3. Joint Arthokinematics (Joint Centration) Lastly, having normal joint arthokinematics is the ability to maintain joint position through all planes of motion, for ex. as seen in the photo below, the ball and socket joint-the shoulder joint should be able to move from flexion to extension without the humeral head gliding anteriorly.

 

 

 

 4. Buttressing Your Truss (Spinal Stability)

 

As the eminent Biomechanist, Dr. Stuart McGill once said, “Create a truss”. Think of your core as a stable bridge, the deeper the truss, the more stable the bridge! How do we make our core “deep” in effort to become more stable? We train not only the global/superficial core, but also the local/deep core! When both core systems are stabilized, we then have….optimal Spinal Stability! Intervertebral Stability + Lumbo-Pelvic Stability = Spinal Stability
Inline image 1Inline image 2Finally…Optimal Neuromuscular Control!

All of these factors: spinal stability, length-tension relationships, force-couple relationships, and joint arthokinematics have to be normal in order for there to be symmetrical, powerful, and optimal movement!

 

 

 

 File:Eadweard Muybridge 2.gifNext up!  

In part 2, the local core, “drawing-in/belly breathing” exercise progressions, and static/dynamic global core “bracing” exercise progressions will be discussed, and demonstrated.