Home Posts tagged "Core Stability Exercises" (Page 7)

What Folks are Saying about Functional Stability Training

On the fence about checking out Functional Stability Training for the Core?  Check out what some of the seminar attendees had to say about the event:

To learn more about this resource, head here.  To purchase, head here.

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Core Stability: Training Around Disc Herniations and Bulges

With the recent release of our Functional Stability Training resource, I thought you might be interested to check out this preview from one of my sections.  In the two minute video below, I discuss how one can manage clients with a history of intervertebral disc issues:

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Functional Stability Training is Now for Sale!

I'm excited to announce that my newest product, Functional Stability Training (a collaborative project with physical therapist Mike Reinold) is now available.  It will be on sale through Sunday at midnight at an introductory price of $77 (normally $97). This resource consists of the footage from a seminar we filmed this past fall at Cressey Performance; it includes both lecture and hands-on components.  The resource is geared toward personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches, various rehabilitation specialists, and fitness enthusiasts looking to learn the “why” behind the “what.”  Here was the agenda from the event:
  • Functional Stability Training – An integrated approach to rehabilitation and performance training – Reinold
  • Recent Advances in Core Performance - Understand the concept of Functional Stability Training for the Core, true function of the spine, and how this impacts injuries, rehab, and training – Reinold
  • Maintaining a Training Effect in Spite of Common Lumbar Spine and Lower Extremity Injuries – Outlines the causes and symptoms of several common injuries encountered in the lower extremity, and how to train around these issues to keep clients/athletes fit during rehabilitation – Cressey
  • Understanding and Controlling Extension in Athletes – Looks into the causes of and problems with excessive lumbar extension, anterior pelvic tilt, and rib flairs in athletes – Cressey
  • LAB – Assessing Core Movement Quality:  Understanding where to begin with Functional Stability Training exercises for the core – Reinold
  • LAB – A Dynamic Progression of Core Performance Exercises  - Progression from simple core control to advanced rehab and training techniques – Reinold
  • LAB – Understanding and Controlling Extension in Athletes – Progresses on the previous lecture with specific technique and coaching cues for exercises aimed toward those with these common issues – Cressey
  • LAB – Advanced Stability: Training Power Outside the Sagittal Plane – Traditional power training programs are predominantly focused on the sagittal plane, but in most athletic endeavors – especially rotational sports – power must be displayed in other planes of motion – Cressey
The product is available as either an online resource or DVD set; you get to choose. For more information, check out www.FunctionalStability.com. Or, you can purchase HERE using our 100% secure server. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Increasing Pitching Velocity: What Stride Length Means and How to Improve It – Part 3

In part 1 of this series, I touched on some of the mechanical factors one must consider in relation to increasing stride length in pitchers.  Then, in part 2, I got discussed physical factors – hip mobility and lower-body strength/power – that govern how far you can stride.  In wrapping up today with part 3, we’ll work our way up the kinetic chain to discuss three more physical factors that control stride length. 3. Rotary Stability – As I discussed in my recent article at T-Nation, What I Learned in 2011, hip mobility “sticks” better when you have adequate rotary stability, so we’ve been doing more of our core stability exercises in more “extreme” positions of hip mobility.

If you’re going to push the limits of hip abduction, internal, and external rotation range of motion, you need to be sure that you have adequate rotary stability to be stable in these positions in weight-bearing and not destroy the spine.  Anybody can just get into these positions in slow speed, but not everyone can control the body precisely with a combination of isometric and eccentric muscle action at the high velocities we see with pitching. Additionally, many of the big-time long stride guys rely heavily on controlling lumbar spine hyperextension as they ride the back hip down the mound.  This is something you’ll see if you watch the deliveries of smaller, athletic guys like Tim Lincecum, Tim Collins, and Trevor Bauer.  If they don’t maintain adequate anterior core function, they’ll wind up with extension-based back pain in no time.

4. Thoracic Mobility – Throwing and hitting (and really any rotational challenge like a hockey slapshot or tennis stroke) present a unique challenge to an athlete: the hips and shoulders are temporarily moving in opposite directions.  This creates separation, which allows an athlete to store elastic energy and create velocity via the stretch-shortening cycle.

The first issue to consider is that not all separation is created equal.  You can create separation with the hips and lower back – and jack up a lumbar spine over time.  The goal is to having adequate thoracic spine mobility to ensure that this separation occurs higher up (and engages the upper extremity well). The second issue is that the more you push the limits of hip mobility, the more you must push the limits of thoracic mobility.  We’ve always heard “equal and opposite” when it comes to the throwing arm and glove arm, but the truth is that it probably apply to the lower half and thoracic spine as well.  You simply don’t see guys with terrible thoracic mobility getting way down the mound, as that lack of thoracic mobility would cause them to leak forward with the upper body.  I covered this in part 1, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that the head doesn’t stay behind the hips long enough, so throwers lose separation. The third issue is that poor thoracic mobility will really interfere with getting an adequate scap load, so the arm speed will be slower.  Throwing with a poorly positioned scapula is like trying to jump out of sand; you just don’t have a firm platform from which to create force.

A very basic thoracic spine mobility drill that would be a “safe” bet for most throwers would be the quadruped extension-rotation.

This drill doesn’t crank the shoulder into excessive external rotation, which may be a problem for the really “loose” arms in the crowd. Progressions for the really stiff pitchers would be the side-lying windmill and side-lying extension-rotation.  I also like the yoga plex, a drill I learned from Nick Tumminello, as a means of syncing everything up with a longer stride.

Note: be sure to read this shoulder mobility blog on why not all thoracic spine mobility drills are created equal for throwers! 5. Quick Arm – When I say that you have to have a quick arm to have a long stride, I really just mean that you need some upper body power to make things work.  The longer the stride, the quicker your arm must be to catch up in time to create a downward plane and throw strikes. You simply don’t see guys with long strides competing at high levels unless they have a quick arm that can catch up to the lower body.

When a guy’s arm isn’t quick enough to catch up to his lower half, you see him miss up and arm side.

This type of thrower would be better off shortening up his stride (at least temporarily) and spending more time on good throwing programs to increase arm speed. This is one reason Justin Verlander is great.  If you watch him, he’s not an insanely long stride.  Rather, he’s shorter with it, and much stiffer on his landing leg to create an awesome downward plane.  Plus, he actually does have a ridiculously quick arm and outstanding secondary stuff.  A lot of pitching coaches would try to lengthen his stride – and while this might work, I don’t know about you, but I think overhauling a Cy Young winner’s mechanics is silly.

The “long stride, slow arm” issue is (in my experience) most common in young, lax players who have the joint range-of-motion and just enough stability to get a long stride, but don’t have adequate arm speed to catch up.  This is really common in the 14-17 age ranges, and I think it’s one reason why so many of these kids respond incredibly favorably to long toss; it teaches their arms to go faster and keep up with their strides. Conversely, as you start to deal with 18-year-olds and older (or kids who have grown quickly), you start to see that preparing everything below the arm is arguably more important than arm speed.  You don’t pitch in college or professional baseball unless you have a reasonably quick arm, and getting more aggressive with the lower half to stride longer is often exactly what guys need to make the big velocity jump.  Likewise, when guys don’t take care of the lower half, but continue on aggressive throwing programs, they often wind up with velocity drops, injuries, or control issues because they’ve lost the separation that made them successful. Closing Thoughts While a long stride can certainly be advantageous in the throwing motion, as I've shown in this series, forcing it when you don't have the right physical preparation or mechanical coaching in place can actually hurt an pitcher's performance and health.  Remember that the best changes are subtle ones; in other words, you might increase a stride by six inches over the course of a year, not in a single session. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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Strength Exercise of the Week: Half-Kneeling 1-arm Landmine Press

We've been utilizing the half-kneeling 1-arm landline press more and more with clients at Cressey Performance over the past few months, as it is a strength exercise that affords a number of full-body benefits. First, with the trailing leg positioned appropriately, it's a static hip flexor stretch that is even more effective because the athlete is cued to activate the same-side glutes and brace the core, so you're effectively increasing stiffness at an adjacent joint to help "solidify" the newly acquired range of motion into hip extension.  As I've written previously, increasing stiffness can be a good thing. Second, the core stability benefits occur in a number of contexts.  Because the load forces the athlete to resist extension, it serves as a great anterior core stability exercise.  And, because it's loaded asymmetrically, it serves as a great lateral and rotary core stability exercise. Third, I like all asymmetrical-loaded upper-body strength exercises because they train thoracic mobility and dynamic stability of the scapula, which you simply don't get on the same level with push-up variations and bilateral upper body exercises (although those categories do provide unique benefits in their own right). Fourth, because of the thicker handle at the end of the barbell, you're getting a different grip and forearm stimulus.

Key Coaching Cues:

1. Set up so that there is a subtle (but not aggressive) stretch on the trailing leg hip flexors.  Activate the glutes on that side as well. 2. Brace the core tightly to resist extension and rotation. 3. Press straight out, not across your body. 4. Don't allow the elbow to "migrate" past the body too much. Instead, pre-tension the scapular stabilizers to make sure that the shoulder is not anteriorly tilted as the humerus (upper arm) extends back to neutral on the eccentric. 5. Keep the chin tucked so that the cervical spine is in neutral. 6. Load with weights smaller than 25, as the 45-pound plates tend to get in the way.

This is a great exercise for loading the upper body without really beating up on the joints.  I particularly like it with some of my throwers who have gotten stronger in the upper body, as it's a good alternative to having baseball guys throwing really heavy dumbbells around, particularly as they are getting more aggressive with their throwing programs.

Give it a shot and let me know what you think!

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The Best of 2011: Features

I love writing multi-part features because it really affords me more time to dig deep into a topic of interest to both my readers and me.  In many ways, it’s a challenge on par with writing a short book, whereas individual blogs tend to be quick bullet points. That said,  here were five noteworthy features from 2011 at EricCressey.com: How to Deadlift: Which Deadlift Variation is Right for You? - Part 1 (Conventional Deadlift) - This kicked off a three-part series on why certain deadlift variations may be more appropriate than others for certain lifters.  Be sure to read installments 2 and 3: the Sumo Deadlift and the Trap Bar Deadlift.

Is an Exercise Science Degree Really Worth It? - Part 1 - I expected this series to be far more controversial than it was, but to be honest, most people simply agreed with me, so it was popular for a different reason!  Check out Part 2 as well.

Coffee Consumption and Health: The Final Word - Part 1 - As I noted the other day, one of the biggest surprises for me in 2011 was that my readers were psyched to get nutrition content at EricCressey.com, and Brian St. Pierre's guest blog on coffee consumption and health was one such example.  Be sure to check out Part 2 as well.

How to Fit Core Stability Exercises into Strength and Conditioning Programs - Part 1 - This two-part feature was published late in the year, but that didn't stop it from receiving enough traffic to rank in the top five at year-end.  It was a follow-up to the Functional Stability Training seminar that Mike Reinold and I presented at Cressey Performance in November.  Click here for part 2. Is Dairy Healthy? The Whole Story - Part 1 - This three-part feature was another great guest submission from Brian St. Pierre on a hotly debated topic in the nutrition world.  Check out Part 2 and Part 3 as well. Speaking of features, that wraps up this third installment of the "Best of 2011" series; I'll be back soon with the top videos of 2011. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and receive a four-part video series on how to deadlift!
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How to Fit Core Stability Exercises into Strength and Conditioning Programs: Part 2

In part 1 of this series, I discussed an overall approach to the categorization of core stability exercises.  Here, in the second installment of this series, I'll be talking about how to incorporate various core stability exercises into your strength and conditioning programs.

To recap, the categories we'll be dealing with are anterior core, posterior core, lateral core, and rotary core.  In reality, though, in my eyes, we only really need to specifically program for three of these categories.  You see, the posterior core seems to take care of itself, as we are already training the ability to resist flexion with various strength exercises like deadlifts, squats, pull-throughs, kettlebell swings, and a host of other strength.  Some folks may benefit from some birddogs in the warm-up period to help learn the anti-flexion patterning a bit better, but most folks are ready to rock and roll with a comprehensive strength and conditioning program that emphasizes the other three.

With that "exception" out of the way, I think it's important to appreciate three different factors when programming core stability exercises:

1. An individual's training experience - A true beginner can typically work on low-level core exercises like dead bugs and prone and side bridges on a daily basis to establish motor control.  Conversely, these exercises may be too basic for a more advanced lifter, so he/she would need to focus on more advanced exercises, but do them less frequently (1-3x/week).

2. An individual's weaknesses - A young athlete with a raging anterior pelvic tilt would need to prioritize anti-extension core stability exercises over the other categories, as you want to master the sagittal plane before getting "too sexy" in other planes.  Sure, you can train the other ones, but you're better off working on the most pressing issue first.

3. An individual's training frequency - Obviously, if someone is training 4-6x/week, you can do more in terms of  core stability exercises with his strength and conditioning programs than you could if he was only training 2x/week.  When they train less frequently, you often have to make some sacrifices in terms of core stability exercise volume in order to make sure the big-bang strength exercises (which can serve as indirect core training exercises) still get the attention they deserve.

With these three factors in mind, let's look at a few examples.  Keep in mind that in each of these examples, I've removed the compound exercises, mobility drills, foam rolling, and metabolic conditioning just so that you can see how the core training exercises exist in isolation.

Example 1: 4x/week Strength and Conditioning Program

Day 1: Challenging Anterior Core (e.g., Rollouts), Low-Level Lateral Core (e.g., Side Bridges)
Day 2: Challenging Rotary Core (e.g., Landmines), Low-Level Anterior Core (e.g., Naked Get-ups)
Day 3: Challenging Anterior Core (e.g., ), Low-Level Rotary Core (e.g., Pallof Presses)
Day 4: Challenging Lateral Core (e.g., 1-arm Carries), Low-Level Anterior Core (e.g., Reverse Crunches)

Here, you have all the flexibility in the work to prioritize the areas that are lagging the most.  This example emphasized anterior core, but it could have easily been lateral or rotary core stability with some quick and easy substitutions.

Example 2: 3x/week Strength and Conditioning Program

Day 1: Challenging Anterior Core (e.g., Rollouts), Low-Level Lateral Core (e.g., Side Bridges)
Day 2: Challenging Rotary Core (e.g., Landmines), Low-Level Anterior Core (e.g., Reverse Crunches)
Day 3: Challenging Lateral Core (e.g., 1-arm Carries), Low-Level Rotary Core (e.g., Pallof Presses)

You can still get in two versions of each of the "big three" core stability exercise categories over the course of the week - and that doesn't even include the "accidental" benefits you get from your compound strength exercises.

Example 3: 2x/week Strength and Conditioning Program

Day 1: Lateral Core (e.g., 1-arm Carries), Anterior Core from loaded push-up variation

Day 2: Rotary Core (e.g., Split-Stance Cable Lift), Anterior Core from overhead pressing.

You can see that this is far from "optimal" in terms of covering everything you want to cover in a comprehensive core stability exercise program, but when you can only get in two sessions a week (as might be the case for an in-season athlete), you make sacrifices and do what you can.  This athlete might be able to complement this program with some low-level prone bridges, reverse crunches, and get-up variations on off-days.

Hopefully, this gives you a little glimpse into what a few sample weeks of core stability exercises look like in Cressey Sports Performance strength training programs.  For more information and another perspective, I'd encourage you to check out our Functional Stability Training of the Core resource, which is on sale for 25% off this week (discount automatically applied at checkout).  Click here to learn more.

FST1

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How to Fit Core Stability Exercises into Strength and Conditioning Programs: Part 1

A while back, Mike Reinold and I presented our Functional Stability Training of the Core seminar to an audience of about 60 rehabilitation and strength and conditioning specialists at Cressey Sports Performance.  In today's post, I wanted to touch on a topic we covered collaboratively: how to categorize various core stability exercises and incorporate them into your strength and conditioning programs.

Both Mike and I are in agreement that your four general categories are anterior core stability, posterior core stability, lateral core stability, and rotary core stability.

Anterior core stability exercises  teach the body to resist excessive lumbar spine extension, and encompass a variety of drills, starting with dead bug, curl-up, and prone bridging activities.  In prepared individuals, they progress all the way up through more advanced exercises like stability ball rollouts, and TRX flutters and fallouts.

Posterior core stability exercises are designed to train the body to resist excessive lumbar spine flexion.  Your drills may include everything from the birddog all the way up through more conventional strength training exercises like  deadlift variations.

Lateral core stability exercises teach you how to resist lateral flexion; in other words, your goal is to avoid tipping over.  These drills may start with basic side bridging drills and progress all the way up through more advanced TRX drills and 1-arm carrying variations.

Rotary core stability exercises educate folks on how to resist excessive rotation through the lumbar spine.  Examples include drills like landmines, lifts, and chops.

To be candid, this classification of core stability exercises isn't anything new to those of you who have been paying attention over the past few years.  However, introducing these categories really wasn't my intention in this blog; rather, I had three key points I wanted to highlight:

1. It's not just what you do; it's how you do it.

You may be able to hold a prone bridge for 25 minutes, but if you're doing so in terrible positioning and just relying on your hip flexors and lumbar erectors to do the work, you're doing more harm than good.  You'd be amazed at how many high level athletes can't do a simple prone or side bridge correctly.

2. A core stability exercise rarely fits into one category, especially when you add progressions to it beyond the initial stages.

Take a kettlebell crosswalk, for instance.

In this exercise, you have different loads in each hand, which makes it a lateral core stability exercise.  With each step, the athlete goes into single-leg stance, which makes it a rotary core stability exercise.  With the load in the bottom hand, there is a tendency to be pulled into flexion, so you have a posterior core stability exercise.  Finally, with the arm overhead, one must prevent the rib cage from flying up and allowing the arm to fall backward, so you have an anterior core stability exercise as well.  This example demonstrates the role of synergy among all the muscles (and fascia) around the core in achieving multidirectional core stability simultaneously.

Taking it a step further, how you control one plane of movement impacts the benefit you derive from a core stability exercise in the intended plane. In this half-kneeling cable lift, for instance, the primary goal is to work on rotary and lateral core stability, as the pull of the cable back toward the column is the primary destabilizing torque.  You will, however, often see athletes perform the entire exercise in lumbar extension, as evidenced by a rib flair in the front, a backward lean, and loss of the packed neck.  I execute the first two reps with the incorrect positioning, and the subsequent reps in neutral spine with adequate anterior core control.

3. When you consider the overlap among the various core stability exercise categories, it can be challenging to determine how to appropriately sequence them in a strength and conditioning program.

This will be the focus of part 2; stay tuned!

If you're looking for a great core stability resource right now, I'd encourage you to check out Functional Stability Training of the Core (as well as the rest of the Functional Stability Training series).  And, to sweeten the deal, you can get 25% off through Monday (discount is automaticaly applied at checkout).

FST1

Several of our other products are also on sale; you can learn more HERE.

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