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Building Work Capacity…

Guest blog by Robert Dos Remedios.

Building Work Capacity….

I’m often asked about my goals in my conditioning programming and my answer always seems to come back to one thing, WORK CAPACITY. If we can continue to turn the knob up and get more and more out of our athletes we will build their ability to keep pushing, to improve their all-important strength and power endurance. In essence we are assuring that over time, we will also be able to train harder and harder for longer periods of time with greater intensity. Perhaps most importantly, work capacity building sessions helps to forge amazing confidence…this is often the psychological variable that can be the difference between victory and defeat.

We push that envelope early and often with our football athletes, here is an example of a post-lifting fieldwork session….typical to what we have been doing since the beginning of February.

If you can increase your work capacity off of the water, it will only help you to improve your wakeboarding.

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

PS – For more information on Coach Dos checkout his website coachdos.com and his blog coachdos.blogspot.com.

Interval Training

If you aren’t doing interval training, you should be.

Interval training is great not only for fat loss and cutting down your workout time, but also for improving your wakeboarding.

Check out this article if you are still doing long slow cardio workouts.

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

Hacking

Guest blog by Alwyn Cosgrove

 

Hacking Your Strength Training
Alwyn Cosgrove

When I started out in the fitness-training field, the average client tended to be an active person who used gym exercise to augment the other types of activity he got outside the gym. Few of us specialized in fat-loss training, simply because it wasn’t the primary goal of the majority of our clients. It was a nice side-effect of solid workouts and a good diet, but it wasn’t the main reason our clients came to work with us.

Today, it’s the opposite. What we do with our clients in the gym may be the only exercise they get in a typical week. We regularly see clients who work 50 hours a week, not counting the two hours a day they spend commuting. Many of them can’t train on weekends because of work-related travel, or because it’s the only chance they get to spent time with their spouses and kids.

Since opening our facility in 2000, we’ve measured the body-fat percentages, abilities, range of motion, and posture of all our beginning members. I can say this unequivocally: The average beginner today arrives fatter and in worse shape than the average beginner just nine years ago.

That presents a huge problem for us. We have to address posture, strength, mobility, flexibility, elasticity, and cardio-respiratory endurance simultaneously. And we’re lucky if we get three hours a week to do it.

A traditional program won’t work for this population.

Now, before anyone counters with “dedicated people make time,” let me assure you that I’m talking about people who are dedicated. Let me describe two of my former clients:

Client #1: a professional motocross rider

• Races 45 weekends a year

• Flies out to the race site on Friday, competes Saturday and Sunday, and flies home on Monday

• Practices Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

• Trains with me Tuesday and Thursday

• Starts all over again on Friday

This is a guy who’s married, with two young sons. Is he not dedicated? Do you see any additional room in his schedule that would allow him to train more than he does?

Client #2: a doctor

• Works 60 to 70 hours a week, and is often on call longer than that

• Commutes an hour to work each way

• Married with three kids

• Attends his kids’ soccer games, and tries to spend to spend as much time as possible with his family

• Trains with me three times a week

Is he not a dedicated person? Should he devote more hours to the gym, at the expense of saving lives or spending time with his family?

The solution: To give these dedicated but time-challenged clients the best possible results, we need to hack traditional training down to its most basic and fundamental elements.
Hacking 101

You may be familiar with the term “life hack.” Basically, it’s a time-management system in which you hack away the unessential stuff in your life to increase productivity.

If we define productivity as “maximizing results per unit of time invested,” we can see the benefits of it. The goal is to spend less time doing things that bring us little if any benefit, and more time doing the things that improve our income, prospects, pleasure, and quality of life.

Another way to look at it: maximize productivity by minimizing redundancy.

As a fitness professional and owner of a training facility, I realized I had to hack our training programs if I had any hope of keeping pace with the rapidly changing needs of our clients.

For example, it’s not uncommon to see programs that include three exercises or more for each body part. So for biceps, you might see the barbell curl, EZ-bar curl, and seated dumbbell curl — three exercises that are more similar than different.

Hacking Your Strength Training

Barbell curls, EZ-bar curls, and seated dumbbell curls are essentially the same exercise.

Our first hack would be to switch to barbell curls and incline dumbbell curls. Now we’ve reduced the total number of exercises by a third, and we’ve also chosen a non-redundant exercise — the incline curl — to give us a different angle of pull and allow us to hit more muscle fibers.

A second hack would choose one of those exercises as our sole focus.

A third and final hack — the “max hack” — would eliminate the isolation work completely. Instead, we’d do close-grip chins, which would target the biceps effectively enough while also recruiting lots more muscle and building total-body strength.
Body by Pareto

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, is an important key to successful hacking of any type — whether we’re talking about training, running a business, or the overall management of our lives.

It’s named for Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who in 1906 observed that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population. After Pareto published his findings, many others observed similar ratios in their own areas of expertise. In the early 1940s, an industrial-efficiency expert named Joseph Juran applied Pareto’s ideas to project management, describing the principle of “the vital few and trivial many.”

Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, popularized the idea for my generation of entrepreneurs when he observed that 80 percent of his income came from 20 percent of his clients. So he hacked off 80 percent of his clients, effectively reducing his workload by 80 percent, and focused on the clients who accounted for 80 percent of his income. Yes, at first he took a 20 percent pay cut, but his productivity and income soared on a per-hour basis.

You can apply the Pareto principle to workout hacking with the assumption that 80 percent of the consequences come from 20 percent of the causes. Or, put another way, 20 percent of the exercises you do produce 80 percent of your results.

Let’s say you have a total-body workout with 10 exercises. If we hacked out eight of the 10 exercises, and just kept squats and chin-ups, would you expect to get just 20 percent of the results? Chances are it would be the opposite — you might get 80 percent of the results by focusing on just 20 percent of the exercises. So most of your results come from just two exercises, and relatively few results come from the other eight.

It’s easy to see why. Compound exercises recruit more muscle, allow you to use bigger loads, and burn more calories than isolation exercises. That’s why you want to build your program around them, and why your workouts should start with exercises like deadlifts or squats, the ones that produce the best results on a rep-by-rep basis.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you’ll get 100 percent of the results you want with a hacked program. The goal of hacking out what’s unessential from your training program is to free up more of your time without significantly diminishing your results. Don’t hack for the sake of hacking; you want to eliminate redundant or trivially beneficial exercises so you can accomplish other goals, in or out of the gym.

In the next few sections I’ll show you examples we’ve used successfully with clients in our facility. As you’ll see, there’s a sound basis in science for most of these hacks.

The Frequency and Volume Hack

Back in 2000, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared equal-volume resistance training over one day or three days per week. [1] The participants in the study were experienced lifters. Group one performed the entire workout — three sets of each exercise — on one day. Group two performed the same volume of work, but spread it out over three days. So they did one set of each exercise in each workout.

The researchers found that the once-per-week group achieved just 62 percent of the strength improvements of the three-times-per-week group, and also gained less muscle. The men in the second group put on nine pounds of muscle, vs. four pounds for those in the first group.

This gives us an idea of how to start our training hack: It’s better to reduce volume per workout than it is to reduce frequency. So if you work out three times a week, it’s better to make those workouts shorter than to do longer workouts less often.

A review published in Sports Medicine in 2007 looked at several studies on strength training and hypertrophy across different populations.[2] It concluded that, for hypertrophy, it’s better to train each muscle group three times a week.

Anecdotally, we know that a lot of bodybuilders use an increased frequency to bring up a lagging body part. If the problem is that every body part needs to be brought up, then three total-body workouts should work better than a series of split routines in which body parts are hit just once or twice per week.
The Sets and Reps Hack

Now that we’ve settled on three total-body workouts a week, we have to figure out how to hack unessential elements of those workouts to keep them at a reasonable length. But we still want results, so we have to figure out how best to employ sets and reps to increase size and strength.

A study published in JSCR in 2002 compared two different types of periodization.[3]

Traditional linear periodization works something like this: In weeks one to four, you’d do eight reps per set of all your exercises. In weeks five to eight, you’d do six reps, and in weeks nine to 12 you’d do four reps. So you’d progress from a hypertrophy protocol to one that emphasizes pure strength.

Undulating periodization aims to achieve those goals simultaneously, so on Monday you’d do four reps per set, on Wednesday you’d do six reps, and on Friday you’d do eight reps.

The researchers found that undulating periodization was better than linear periodization for strength gains.

Thus, we’ll use three distinct ranges of sets and reps in our three total-body workouts each week. That brings us to the next big question: Which exercises should we use?
Exercise Hack

At the 2000 annual conference of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, researchers at Ball State presented a study that compared the effects of two different workouts on upper-arm circumference.[4]

One group did four compound upper-body exercises in each workout, while the other did those four exercises plus biceps curls and triceps extensions.

Both groups increased their strength and arm size. But in 10 weeks of training, the additional arm exercises provided no additional benefit.

So if you’re going to hack your training program to make it as efficient as possible without sacrificing benefits, you can eliminate direct arm training with isolation exercises.

Hacking Your Strength Training

Big arms, no curls.
Workout Duration Hack

Sir Charles Scott Sherrington won the Nobel Prize in 1932 for his contributions in physiology and neuroscience. Sherrington’s law of reciprocal innervation states that “for every neural activation of a muscle, there is a corresponding inhibition of the opposing muscle.” This means that when you work your chest muscles, the opposite back muscles are forced to relax, thereby resting.

It’s easy to apply this one: Instead of waiting two minutes between sets of bench presses, for example, you can perform one set of the bench press, rest for one minute, and then do a bent-over row. After you finish, you’ll rest for one minute, then repeat the sequence until you complete all sets of both exercises. In an average workout, this technique saves at least eight to 10 minutes without sacrificing performance.

“If you could only do one exercise … “

I hate questions like this. But I do have an answer: The snatch-grip deadlift probably works more muscle through a bigger range of motion than any other single exercise. (In other words, I’m not comparing the snatch-grip deadlift to a combination exercise like the clean and press.) So we’ll start with that as our primary exercise. Our secondary exercise will be the front squat.

I also like to do single-leg exercises, so we’ll create a second total-body workout in which we use dumbbell Bulgarian split squats to target our quads, with step-ups as a hip-dominant counterpart.

For upper-body exercises, we’ll stick to the ones that use the most muscle and avoid single-joint exercises. The big four here will be chin-ups, dips (or dumbbell bench presses), dumbbell rows, and barbell push presses. We’ll do two of them in each of our total-body workouts.

Program A

1) Snatch-grip deadlift
2) Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat
3a) Dip
3b) Dumbbell row

Program B

1) Front squat
2) Step-up
3a) Barbell push press
3b) Close-grip chin-up

Here’s how we’ll alternate programs A and B:

Week one:

Mon: Program A
Wed: Program B
Fri: Program A

Week two:

Mon: Program B
Wed: Program A
Fri: Program B

Sets and reps for A and B work like this:

Mon: 4 sets of 4 reps of each exercise. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between sets.
Wed: 3 sets of 8 reps of each exercise. Rest 75 to 90 seconds between sets.
Fri: 2 to 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise. Rest 60 to 75 seconds between sets.

Select a load that’s appropriate for each exercise, given the rep range. You want to stop one or two reps short of failure on each set. Try this system as written for up to six weeks. You’ll do each program nine times, but only three times at each rep range.
Final Thoughts

Is this the perfect program? Absolutely not — the perfect program doesn’t exist. It’s just one way to hack out the unessential, trivial, and redundant exercises from your program, replacing them with the most effective exercises, and employing them in the most time-efficient way I know.

Does it work? Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t still be in business if it didn’t.

Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you are going to be “hacking.”

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

P.S. – For more info and articles from Alwyn Cosgrove – Check out alwyncosgrove.com

Touch Your Core With Light Load/High Velocity Resistance Training

I just received the latest edition of the Performance Training Journal from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA.) In it they have a bunch of great articles about “Core Training.” The articles are very well written and state a lot of the same methods and beliefs that I have about “Core Training.”

In wakeboarding, it doesn’t matter what skill level you are, you are always using your “Core.” Because of this, it is vital that you maintain a strong and stable core so that you can ride harder, longer, throw that new invert, and add an extra 180 to all of your spins.

With that in mind, read the article below and let me know what you think about it. Also, be sure to leave a comment and let me know if you want to see some more articles and info about “Core Training.”

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

Touch Your Core With Light Load/High Velocity Resistance Training
Kyle Brown, CSCS

One of the hottest fitness trends in the last decade has been core stability training. Unfortunately, this trend has led many athletes, as well as personal trainers, to move away from training major muscle groups and instead design entire workout programs around core training. Yet, as new research suggests, core strength does not significantly contribute to overall strength and power and shouldn’t be the main focus of a workout program (1). Many bodybuilders do not even do isolation movements for their core as they are aware of the fact that in nearly every standing resistance training exercise, the core must stabilize. Yet, while developing a strong core is important for increasing athletic performance, reducing likelihood of injury, and reducing existing pain levels, a strong core can be developed by stabilizing while simultaneously training your major muscle groups. A unique way to torch your core is with light load/high velocity resistance training, as you are able to train with high intensity at a sprinter’s pace.

A core stability exercise can be defined as “any exercise that channels motor patterns to ensure a stable spine through repetition” (2). Therefore, for example, squats, pull-ups, and standing overhead presses are all core stability exercises as they all require the core to stabilize. If your goal is to develop core strength and power while training major muscle groups, training at a high velocity can challenge your core. These explosive movements are very fast-paced, intense, high-energy, anaerobic movements that require a lot of muscle groups to fire simultaneously. This type of training allows the athlete to rapidly accelerate and achieve maximum velocity on every repetition. Moreover, the power output in a short amount of time is astounding. For example, if an athlete is able to do 25 repetitions with 40lbs cable presses in each hand (80 pounds total) in 20 seconds, that is 2,000lbs of power output in 20 seconds.

Rather than focus on how many repetitions to perform, instead focus on completing the maximum number of repetitions within a given time frame with high intensity and proper form. I cannot stress enough the importance of maintaining proper biomechanics while training at high velocity, as it will not only prevent injury, it will also effectively engage the proper muscles and lead to a more challenging workout. Too many times athletes, as well as trainers, sacrifice proper form for speed. To increase core activation, perform these exercises in a less stable environment. Marshall and Murphy compared muscle activity in the rectus abdominis, transversus/internal oblique abdominis, external oblique abdominis, and erector spinae when push-ups were performed on a Swiss ball versus a stable floor. The results demonstrated that at the top portion of the push-up, with the hands positioned on a Swiss ball, there was significantly greater activity in the rectus abdominis (35% vs. 9% of maximal activity) and transversus/internal oblique abdominis (33% vs. 13% of maximal activity) (3).

References

1. Nesser TW, Lee WL. The relationship between core strength and performance in Division I female soccer players. JEPonline 2009; 12(2):21 – 28.

2. Verstegen, M, and Williams, P. Physioball routine. In: Core Performance. New York, NY: Rodale, Inc., 2004. pp. 73 – 88.

3. Marshall, PW, and Murphy, BA. Core stability exercises on and off a Swiss ball. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 86: 242 – 249. 2005

Rope Workouts

September 28, 2009 3 comments

One of the most popular forms of exercise right now is using ropes in workouts. Ropes can be used in order to improve strength and endurance as well as working your entire core while giving you a cardiovascular workout all at the same time.  Ropes can be a great total body workout, plus they will also dramatically help you to you improve your wakeboarding by working all areas of fitness.  Check out the video below and let me know what you think.

If you want to check out their website visit: www.ropeworkout.com.

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

Train Movements, Not Muscles

September 14, 2009 Leave a comment

As you already know I am an advocate of using compound movements when working out and avoiding single joint, isolated exercises.  I prefer this type of training because of the many benefits of this type of training (increased caloric expenditure, increased workout efficiency, etc.)

This type of training is especially beneficial to wakeboarding because, while wakeboarding you are using multiple muscle groups at the same time. 

In order to improve your wakeboarding, you need to train the same way that you ride.  This is done by performing training that involves the activation of multiple muscle groups simultaneously.

Here is a great video that talks about using your whole body to workout and not to be worried about isolated movements and exercises.  The video is nice and short, a little over 1 minute long.  Click the link below, take a look at the video, and let me know what you think.

http://www.coreperformance.com/daily/movement/train-movements-not-muscles.html

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

Trampoline Training

September 10, 2009 1 comment

I was just going through a bunch of old emails and either deleting them or putting them into folders, in an attempt to become more organized, and came across this article.  In the article it gives a couple of different exercises that can be performed using a trampoline in order to improve your core strength and also your wakeboarding. 

 The article talks about using a smaller trampoline that is often found in many health clubs and fitness centers, but there is no reason that these exercises can’t be performed on a full size trampoline. 

If you are not already using a trampoline in order to improve your wakeboarding, you NEED to start.  Trampolines are a great, safe way, to learn new tricks that you are trying to land on the water.  By using a trampoline to perfect your new move before you head out on the water, it can save you a lot of time, and also some pain from not falling as much. 

There will be more to come on trampoline training later, but for now, read the article below and let me know if you have anymore exercises that can be performed using a trampoline.

Roger Ernst II, CSCS

 

 

Trampoline Training: Bounce Your Way to a Rock Hard Core

 

Kyle Brown, CSCS

 

When you mention the word trampoline, most people recall fond childhood memories of playing outside bouncing into the air as if they are defying gravity. Yet few people are aware of not only the health benefits of a trampoline but the tremendous core training benefits. Moreover, they do not know that many gyms and personal training studios now have mini indoor versions of trampolines called rebounders that elicit the same benefits. By bouncing on a trampoline, you are harnessing the force of gravity to strengthen every cell in your body. 

 

Your core muscles include all muscles from your abdominal, lower lumbar, and pelvic regions. They are responsible for supporting your spine and providing you balance and stability. Traditional core training involves movements like sit ups, crunches, bridges, and planks. Yet many athletes including many gymnasts have been able to develop incredibly powerful core muscles without any of these exercises. This is due to the tremendous amount of core strength required to stabilize in their sport. And the trampoline is a perfect example of a sport that requires and develops tremendous core strength.

 

When you bounce off a trampoline, you end up suspended in air and then land with twice the force of gravity, which challenges your body to grow stronger (1).  You constantly use your abdominal muscles with rebounder exercises to stabilize, maintain balance and postural control, and control the height of your jump.  Repeatedly bouncing up and down on trampolines develops proficiency for bracing the torso with intra-abdominal pressure and improves your core muscular endurance by maintaining an isometric contraction of the abdominals (1).

 

Trampoline training forces your body to use your core muscles as well as proprioceptors in order to balance.  Proprioceptors are specialized receptors that are located in the muscles, joints, tendons/ligaments, and the inner ear that provide information that enables your body to know where it is located in space and if necessary adjust posture or movement in order to maintain balance (1).  Proprioceptor training will work your core muscles as well as the rest of your musculature, joints, etc., thus improving your overall strength and balance. When you jump on a trampoline, every muscle in your body works simultaneously to adjust the body’s position to its constantly changing environment.

 

There are many exercises you can do to train your core on a rebounder. Here are a couple examples:

 

Sprint in Place

Stand in the middle of the trampoline and drive your knee up to your chest while simultaneously swinging up your opposite arm. Work at maximal output for 30 seconds to a minute.

 

Double Knee Ups

Stand in the middle of the trampoline and jump in the air as high as possible driving both knees to your chest.  Land and immediately repeat. The goal is to jump as high as possible

 

Side to Side Jumps

On either one or both legs, bounce from one side of the trampoline to the other.

 

Planks on Trampoline

Put your feet on the ground and your fists and elbows on the trampoline in plank position underneath your chest. Prop yourself up like a table or bridge using your toes and elbows. Use your gluteals and abdominals to stabilize.

 

Jump Twists

Use your core to twist your hips and keep your feet together while bouncing up and down.

 

References

1. Carter, Albert. (1998). Rebound To Better Health. National Institute of Reboundology and Health. Springville, UT.