From Building Power

VIDEO: Innovative Exercises to Improve Your Low Back Strength

founder female

Click here to go right to video, but I would read this first!

I’ve added a few new exercises to my daily core routine and I’ve been getting great results with them. The exercises were designed by my friend and chiropractic colleague, Dr. Eric Goodman, and I’m enjoying improvements of my own in the strength and flexibility of my low back, hips and hamstrings. These exercises hit what we call the posterior chain of muscles which basically include the spinal erectors, gluteus maximus and hamstrings. Take a look at this guy…

posteriorchainchart1

 

Here’s a great video produced by Dr. Eric for World Surf League Pro Lakey Peterson (6th in the world!) I’ve been passing this video on to a few of my practice members and they are loving it.

A few important notes:

The first exercise is the squat with body weight. Because my focus is rehab for my injured leg, I do these slow and in control throughout. You should too. As Dr. Eric instructs, push that butt backwards and counterbalance with your arms. You shouldn’t feel it too much in the knees. Go down slowly only as far as you can and still feel strong and comfortable with no knee pain.

The second exercise is great for surfers and athletes, but I don’t recommend it as a beginner exercise. I do these after I’m warmed up and at a  slower pace. I’m not a 21 year old female surfer anymore!

The third exercise is the one where I want you to pay particular attention to Dr. Eric’s instruction. This one, called the Founder, is the basis for Foundation Training and it’s a wonderful exercise. It may look like a yoga posture but I assure you that it’s specifically formulated to strengthen the posterior chain. Some call it powerlifting for your deep core muscles and I agree. But you have to get the technique and form down.

founder1

The last exercise is an innovative variation of the standard plank called the 8 point plank. That’s because you are contacting the ground at your wrists, elbows, knees and flexed big toes. This may seem like an easier variation, and it is great for beginners, but believe me when I tell you that you can really feel this exercise where it counts – in your deep core.

8 point plank 2

Enjoy the video and give it a sincere try…you won’t be disappointed. Go to FoundationTraining.com to check out all of Dr. Eric’s cool videos and books. For any of you local people who need help with this, you know I’m always available in my office to check your form and make sure you get it right.

Click here to view video

A Unique Way To Feel Your Abs!

Seated_Vacuum

I have a great tip for you today that I’ve always known but just recently rediscovered based on a great article I read by Pilates guru Alycea Ungaro. Since my wife Lisa’s Pilates studio is connected to my chiropractic office, I constantly hear the instructors implying their clients to lift their abdominals  in and up as they contract them. But because I hear it all the time, I tuned it out, and forgot how important this verbal / mental cue is to really feeling your abs working completely with full stimulation.

Most people who exercise know the feeling of “crunching” the abs as done in the popular ab crunch exercise. A bodybuilder will do the same thing when flexing the abs in an abdominal pose or when you bear down on your abs when resisting a punch to the gut! This activates your six pack muscles, the rectus abdominis, as you flex slightly forward in this ab contraction.

What we want to activate to really feel our abs is the transverse abdominis (TA) muscles, your bodies deepest abdominal muscles that are your natural “weight lifting belt”. I love that some even call them your inborn “Spanx” muscles.

Here’s the anatomy…

Photo Aug 07, 7 45 32 PMPhoto Jul 06, 9 42 13 AM

Notice how the TA wraps around your waist fully like a girdle and fills the waist space from ribs to pelvis. When you learn to contract your TA muscles properly, you start to build tone in those muscles which creates a hollower waist for you, much like a strong cinching girdle.

So let’s review the cue you’ll tell yourself to help you feel these muscles contracting. That cue is pull your navel (center) IN AND UP! That’s right, you’ll feel your abdominal wall flatten and lift up into your ribcage. Much like Arnold in the featured image. Or, like this classic pose by Mr. Olympia, Frank Zane…

Frank_Zane_Vacum_Pose_3

You can try this ab vacuum maneuver standing, seated or lying supine. As you pull your center in and up, breathe out, and try not to use your chest and shoulders to pull up. You will immediately improve your posture with this move and stand a little bit taller. After a few reps, you should feel a nice burn at the sides of your waist and ribs.

One of my favorite places to complete a few reps is sitting in my car at stoplights on my morning drive around town. I get a good workout and the red lights seem to turn faster! I suggest you do sets of five repetitions holding for a ten count on contraction. As you breathe in, let your abs and waist relax as much as possible to get a full range of motion.

Even give this a try when you are doing any regular workout exercises as this awareness will help you brace yourself with proper form on many a variety of exercises. Let me know if you have any questions or need help finding these special muscles. I hope your waist size reduces as a result!

Evolution of an Old School Favorite: T-Bar Rows

Iconic image of Arnold doing T-Bar rows from the movie"Pumping Iron".
Iconic image of Arnold doing T-Bar rows from the movie”Pumping Iron”.

T- Bar rows were one of my favorite exercises back in the day! We’d take an Olympic bar, jam one end in a corner creaating a hinge, load up the free end with Olympic plates and add a detachable handle. Next we’d bend over and row, row, row! It was a more comfortable way to do rows because the lever action created by the hinge allowed for better body alignment and thus, less pressure on the low back. This allowed us to add more weights and get huge!

Now, five-time Olympic athlete Jorge Bonnet has founded a company called PurMotion that takes the hinged barbell concept to the next level of evolution. His system of equipment utilizes the hinge and lever effect to allow duplication of many standard strength and conditioning exercises creating improved functional and sports power. He stresses the safety of this type of training in that it allows for better body alignment and positional centering, thus reducing the abnormal stresses to the structures of your joints and spine.

 

If you’d like to see this concept in action, I’ve included a few short video links to some of the more common power movements below. On the videos, Jorge discusses the benefits and physics of the hinged lever arm and how it influences postural alignment over your center of gravity reducing undue pressure on the your spine and joints.

PurMotion Coaches Corner: Power Cleans

PurMotion Coaches Corner: Deadlifts

PurMotion Coaches Corner: Squats

Although widely popular and effective, at this time, not many gyms in our area, other than East Coast Fitness in North Bergen, NJ and some New York City clubs, are equipped with PurMotion training stations. You can call around your area to see if a gym close by you has it so you can try it and experience the results for yourself.

But don’t fret. Many gyms are equipped with other variations of a hinged barbell, and, depending on the equipment, you can experiment and replicate the  different movements that take advantage of the lever arm effect. In my gym, I use the hinged barbell to do squats, one arm presses, one arm rows, deadlifts and chest presses similar to the PurMotion moves.  You can even benefit by jamming a barbell into a corner like the guy below, just like we did in the old days!

One arm shoulder press using hinged barbell.

If you need help or suggestions to implement, give me a call, email me or stop by the office so I can guide you.

Keep Looking Forward…

Dr. Pete

drgratale@optonline.net

www.DrPete.com

201-836-9558

Why I Use a Cybex ARC Trainer for Cardio

Arc trainer

After my prior post “Treadmills Are For Hamsters!”, many of you have asked me what equipment I use in the gym to do High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). And while I believe that there is no better workout than a brisk climbing hike up a wooded mountain trail, rain days and busy schedules often force us to train indoors.

After my knee replacement surgery in 2010 (It’s now my strong knee!), I was on the lookout for a new piece of equipment to do HIIT cardiovascular training. The treadmill offered too much shock on the my knee joints, the stationary bike put too much pressure on my low back and I just think the elliptical is a weird machine with an unnatural motion.

I wanted something that gave me an awesome sweat producing high intensity workout but was easy on my knees and spine while improving my range of motion. I also didn’t want to be so bored that I had to watch TV while doing it.

My search ended when I discovered the Cybex Arc Trainer and I love using it for HIIT workouts. It works the upper body as well as the lower and I feel like I’m climbing a mountain when I’m on it! The arcing motion is similar to climbing up a hill with walking poles or climbing up stairs while pulling up on the handrails. As you climb, you’re working against gravity, which really stimulates muscle metabolism. And you never have to go downhill, so your joints don’t take a beating.

I use it three times a week and my sessions usually last 20 minutes. I perform at least 8 high intensity intervals. I roughly follow the HIIT formula of 30-45 seconds of high intensity at 90-100% of my maximum heart rate alternating with a couple of minutes of lower intensity at 60-70 max heart rate. But quite often I just rock out to the pace of the Nine Inch Nails coming through my headphones!

From the Cybex website:

The Arc Trainer, is scientifically tested to be gentler on your joints, burn 16% more calories than an elliptical, and is stronger and more durable than the leading ellipticals. On the Arc Trainer, the legs travel in a biomechanically correct path of motion. There’s less stress on the knees and more activation of the glutes and hamstrings.

Most gyms and health clubs now stock the equipment in various forms. To get an idea of what it looks like and how it works, I’ve included the link below

Here’s a link to the Arc Trainer website where you can learn more about the its benefits, compare it to the elliptical and see video of it in action

Keep Looking Forward…

Dr. Pete

drgratale@optonline.net

www.DrPete.com

201-836-9558