Home Posts tagged "Arm Care" (Page 5)

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 10

Here's this week's list of random tips to make you more awesome, in collaboration with Cressey Performance coach Greg Robins.

1. Optimize your strength training program's warm-up sets.

Too often, I see people make the mistake of moving a ton of weight before they reach their top sets for that day. Many strength training programs are based on hitting a certain “top set” or sets in a given lift for that day. While this number may be a good distance from the first weight a person touches that day, it is important that you work to this set in a fashion that has you prepared to attack the weight, but not exhausted to a point that you cannot give that weight a true effort.

I often get asked how should one work up to these top sets. The answer is really dependent on the person asking; over time, a person will learn what works best for them. Here are a few things you should keep in mind:

  • “Treat the light weights heavy and the heavy weights light.” Move everything fast, be methodical in your approach, take advantage of every set as repetitions in good form. By doing so, you will set up for successful top sets, prime your CNS to deliver more powerful, coordinated efforts, and be more confident under heavy loads.
  • Keep your weight jumps consistent. How many pounds each jump should be will depend on how dictate how many warm-up sets you’ll take on the way from A to B. Just make sure to keep the jumps consistent, 10, 20, 30lbs, etc.
  • Just because the top sets call for multiple reps doesn’t mean the sets leading up to them need to be the same. I often take singles and doubles at the heavy weights that land near my top sets, and recommend you do the same. I advocate any additional volume (work done) you need to add be done via drop down sets, or via supplemental lifts.

Here are two examples of how to work up to the top sets in a program:

Deadlift 3 x 3 (Assuming my top sets will be between 475 and 505lbs)
135 x 3, 225 x 3, 315 x 1, 405 x 1, 455 x 1, 475 x 3, 495 x 3, 505 x 3

A1. Squat 3 x 5 (Assuming my top sets will be between 365 and 405lbs)
135 x 5, 185 x 3, 225 x 2, 275 x 1, 315 x 1, 365 x 5, 385 x 5, 405 x 5

You'll notice that the sets that "count" toward my working total follow the 90% rule that Eric outlined HERE.

2. Understand How to Modify Total Work as a Fat Loss Diet Progresses

You will be more successful with your fat loss dieting when you understand a simple concept: the harder you train, the hungrier you get.

The most important thing in losing fat is, has been, and will continue to be your nutrition. Your strength training program should be the priority in training when dieting. You want to maintain as much lean mass as possible, and what made the muscle (resistance training) is what’s going to keep it on you. However, you can’t just continue to strength train, add more conditioning, and eat less. It just doesn’t add up. Either you’re going to fail on the diet or get super weak. Neither of those sounds good to me.

So what’s the solution? Lower the volume as you lower the calories. Whether that comes in the way of shorter strength training workouts (focus on the top sets of big lifts and keep the accessory work limited), or you do less conditioning, you have to do less somewhere.

People are really into metabolic resistance training protocols nowadays, but in reality, all training is metabolic; your diet needs to come first, and these programs are just basic better management of total work done. Base your training around your diet, and as you eat less, do less. Pretty simple.

3. Make Kale Taste Better.

Kale by itself does not taste good. Fortunately, I have a simple recipe to make a delicious dressing to spice it up. I must admit that I am not the originator of this, so thank you to the person who showed me the recipe!


In a bowl, mix the following to “dress” four cups of uncooked kale:

• 3 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 3 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
• 3 TBSP Dijon Mustard
• 1 TBSP Pepper
• 2 TBSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Enjoy!

4. Make all Reps Quality Ones When You’re a Beginner.

When teaching a new athlete or client an exercise, trainers and coaches must understand the importance of using lighter loads. From a safety and development standpoint, it just makes sense. Moreover, a novice lifter can make gains from loads far below their estimated one-rep maximum.

In order to achieve technical proficiency with the exercise, make sure that you are also keeping the rep ranges low - even when the weights are light. While the person in question may very well be able to move the given load for 12 reps (as an example), you are better off splitting that into 3 sets of 4 reps. Even if that means they are doing 12 sets of 4 instead of 4 sets of 12 overall. Keep the rest a bit shorter, get quality reps, and don’t set them up to fail.

5. Make Sure Your Arm Care Program Includes Upward Rotation Training (from Eric)

I speak a lot to our staff about the importance of training scapular upward rotation to prevent and correct upper extremity problems (especially shoulders) in our clients, and one of my most prominent points is to consider not just "front to back" shoulder balance, but also "top to bottom."  This point was verified yet again by research from the Musculoskeletal Research Center at LaTrobe University in Australia.  Investigators found that "The major difference between groups was that the shoulder pain group displayed a significant downward rotation of the scapula in almost all shoulder positions. There were no differences between the two groups for training factors, range of motion, or in clinical test results."

Below are a few exercises we regularly include in our warm-ups to address these issues.  Forearm wall slides at 135 degrees stops short of full upward rotation and gives us a chance to train the lower trapezius in its line of pull.

 

Wall slides with overhead shrug and lift-off gets us to near full upward rotation of the scapula and recruits the upper trapezius more.  Remember, while upper trapezius recruitment has gotten a bad rap, the upper traps are actually tremendously important, as they elevate the scapula and directly oppose the depressive pull of the latissimus dorsi, which is heavily overrecruited in most folks.  As a heads-up, I generally teach this with the hands a bit closer together throughout the movement.

 

The upper and lower traps work with serratus anterior to get the scapula upwardly rotated (serratus recruitment is already optimized because we are slightly protracted and above 90 degrees of humeral elevation).

Summarily, remember the importance of scapular upward rotation when you see arm care programs where all the exercises are done with the arms at the sides.  Assuming folks can get there pain-free, get the arms up and start training upward rotation functionally.

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