Well its true I have been a bit of a slacker when it comes to getting this weekly segment out in a timely manner. I would like to apologize for this I believed I have developed a new strategy for improving my consistency of posting. With that being said though all this time away from this particular segment has given me a lot of time to consider what exercise I wanted to share with everyone.
Sorry about not getting an "Exercise of the Week" out last week. The fall school semester started for me and I was focused on getting my routine set, "getting a good start on things", and trying to nail down scheduled time to work on the site. I have got everything where I want it for now so shouldn't have any problems with being regular with this particular series of installments. I was planning on writing this post later this evening, but what often happens I had a client cancel on me last minute, so I decided to seize the opportunity and take the next 20-45mins to bang out this week's "Exercise of the Week".
For the most part this series has consisted of nothing except strength training exercises. Now while I have a pretty extensive library of my own regarding this category of exercises I had felt this was a category that a lot of individuals were lacking variety in and could use some help expanding their existing collection. But as I was so kindly made aware of by one of my clients is that people need more help figuring out what they should be starting their training sessions with. I thought this was a great point and felt like an idiot for not thinking of it before hand. I mean I hammer away the idea that every training session should begin with a proper warm-up, yet I have not shared a single exercise suited for warm-up purposes. So I've decided to share over the next few weeks exercises that fit perfectly into a warm-up routine.
I personally believe a warm-up should do three important things. 1) it should activate and innervate the muscles that will be worked in the proceeding training session 2) it should mobilize the muscles by taking the fibers through their entire range of motion both contracting and lengthening 3) it should prepare one for movement, preferably specific to the movements that you will be performing in the proceeding training session. I take these three characteristics of a proper warm-up and use them to categorize my warm-up exercises into three categories. Mobilization exercises, Activation exercises, and movement specific exercises. I will be sharing this week's exercise from the mobilization category.
This week's "Exercise of the Week" is the split stance adductor mobilization exercise. I just happened up this exercise within the past two months since then it has become a staple exercise in my very own program as well as has been added to a number of my clients AMMP. I love this exercise for a number of reasons 1) it does a fantastic job at stretching the adductor group in a way that many have not experienced 2) it incorporates a hip flexion and extension and personally I think the more I can have my clients work on hip motion the better they will become at it.
To perform the Split Stance Adductor Mobilization one will assume a position on all fours with the hands directly beneath the shoulders and the knees directly below the hips. From this position the individual will pick a leg to begin the exercise. Once you have picked your working leg you will extend the leg from its resting ninety degree angle to a straight one hundred and eighty degrees straight out to the side of your body. Your hip and foot will create a straight line that is perpendicular to the rest of your body's position. Once you have assumed this split stance you will begin by sitting your hips back to the heel of the leg that is still positioned at a ninety degree angle below your opposite hip. As you do this you should feel a stretch up the inside on your leg. Once you have reached your full range of motion you will extend the hips back to their starting position and repeat for repetitions. Below are videos of me detailing the exercise from a side and back view.
This week's exercise bares much resemblance to the previous week's one-arm dumbbell two-point bent-over row. We are keeping the unilateral component with this week's exercise but we are switching from a posteriorly focused exercise to an anteriorly focused upper-body movement. The overhead press is a standard movement that has been the staple of many programs for as long as people have been picking up heavy objects and putting them above their heads. All we are going to do is take this very traditional exercise and add a little bit of a spin to it to incorporate a bit more core stability and functionality. To finally get to it this week's exercise is going to be a standing one-arm dumbbell overhead press.
I love this movement because of the many benefits it offers in spite of being an easily coached and learned movement. I primarily use this motion to teach individuals how to move into full shoulder flexion without any extension at the thoracic spine. As an added plus this motion also creates large amounts of abdominal activation because the individual must resist both extension and flexion in two different planes of motion.
To perform the said movement all you need is a kettlebell or dumbbell and yourself. You are going to pick the dumbbell or kettlebell up in the chosen working arm. Proceed by curling the weight up to shoulder height. From here you have a decision to make you can proceed into the pressing motion with either a pronated grip (palm facing forward) or a neutral grip (palm facing in). Now for my purposes I don't get to picky about grips because the focus of this exercise is not what musculature is being activated and stressed, but rather what is the quality of the motion, but I will say that traditionally one can handle a bit more weight with a hybrid grip between neutral and pronated it seems to be a little bit more shoulder friendly. Either way you make the call. Once grip has been decided this next step is the actual movement being trained which is a vertical press that will involve flexion of the shoulder and adduction of the arm as well as extension at the elbow. When you initiate the movement the dumbbell should be just at shoulder height. Thing about keeping your elbows and wrist in-line with one another as you drive the weighted implement in your hand toward the ceiling. During the press you want to remember to keep the shoulder blade pulled down and back. When you reach the top of the motion you should have your arm fully extended and your shoulder, elbow, and wrist should create a straight line. Do not allow the shoulder to squeeze up next to the ear rather keep the shoulder down and away from the ear. You then will lower the weight back down to shoulder level. During all this motion you want to make sure that the shoulders remain level, that the rib cage does not flare upward, and that your hips do not extend forward during the upward movement of the pressing motion. This is where a ton of abdominal activity comes into play.
Below is a video demonstrating the exercise correctly and safely from both a front and side angle. I hope you all take this week's exercise and try it at least once in your future programming. It doesn't have to be a staple exercise, but it is a nice change of pace.
This week's exercise of the week is a Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift. I thought that since I introduced an anterior focused exercise last week this week I would shed some light on one of my favorite exercises for developing the posterior chain. There is some discussion circulating about what a proper Romanian Deadlift (RDL) looks like, but in my opinion the biggest difference between an RDL and a conventional deadlift is the limited knee flexion and increased focus on the hip hinge. I love this exercise because it works well as an initial starting point for teaching one to find there hips and bend through their hips rather than their lumbar spine.
The RDL is a versatile exercise that can be done in a variety of positions, environments, and loaded with a number of different modes. I prefer to start people off with a dumbbell variation because it allows the individuals to manipulate the load out of their way when they extend their hips at the top of the movement.
To properly perform an RDL you want to begin standing upright with your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line with the spine in a neutral position. You want to maintain the neutral spine position throughout the entire exercise. Begin the movement my slightly flexing the knees once this position is assumed do not flex the knee any further. The rest of the exercise's motion should come from the flexion of the hips, think about driving your butt towards the wall behind you. As your hips flex backwards the dumbbells should migrate from the sides of your legs to the front of your body remaining close to your legs as you flex your hips. When the bottom position is reached you should feel a tight stretch in your hamstrings. Once you have maxed out your hip flexion range of motion. Initiate the the concentric part of the movement by extending the hips forward and squeezing the glutes. Remember to extend the knees as well and finish standing upright once again. This concentric motion should appear as if you are humping the air in front of you.
Remember that your range of motion will not be as great when you begin using the exercise in your program. But slowly over time with proper hip mobility drills one should be able to increase their range of motion drastically. Focus on moving through hips rather than reaching for the floor. This is not an exercise focused on the lower back, but rather on practicing proper hip hinge patterning and development of the glutes and hamstrings.
I recommend using this exercise once a week atleast focusing on movement quality over load. Once your proficiency has increased then begin placing increased loads throughout the movement. Variations of this exercise are numerous so if this doesn't quite work for you chances are there is a variation out there that better suits your physiology.
This post marks the first installment of a series of videos titled "Exercise of the Week". This will be a weekly series demonstrating a particular exercise and discussing the benefits of the exercise.
Exercise selection can make training fun and versatile as well as take a great training program and make it excellent. My goal with this series is to increase as many individuals library of exercises and their knowledge of their techniques and focus.
To kick off the series I am introducing one of my favorite squat variations that I find myself using again and again with clients as well as in my own programming. The goblet squat is the ideal movement for all individuals to move on to once the bodyweight squat has been mastered, This is because the load in the goblet squat is placed in the front of the body forcing the individual to maintain proper spine placement or they will fall forward. In doing this it teaches them to brace their anterior abdominal muscles to stabilize the neutral spine position. But unlike the front squat which places the load in a very unstable and uncomfortable position resting across the shoulders the goblet squat allows the individual to hold the load with their hands and allow the load to be supported by the elbows being forced together. Putting the load in this position also aids in teaching proper squat mechanics because it allows one to sit back with their hips and keep their weight in their heels without worrying about toppling over because the weight acts as a counter weight which balances the shift in the individuals center of gravity.
Below is the demonstration video which shows the correct goblet squat movement and provides directions in performing it. But to note a couple side coaching cues I would like to stress that the weight should stay at chin level with the elbows tucked in do not allow the weight to descend toward your stomach and your elbows to flare out. Also while in the bottom position of the squat I would suggest sliding your elbows just inside your knees and giving a slight push out against them. This serves two purposes one it makes you get to proper depth and two it acts as a great stretch for both the hip adductors and flexors.