Posts Tagged ‘Physical fitness’

rsLogoAnthony Darmiento
Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach
United States Olympic Committee

As the National Strength and Conditioning Association states in their position statement on youth resistance training, “Strength training youth athletes needs to be safe, effective and enjoyable. In order for strength training to be safe it’s more than the method of strength training, but rather how it is being implemented.”

For example, important factors such as proper form when lifting and moving are overlooked when a coach simply follows a plan on a written document or tries to implement a training program they once performed.  For this reason, Responsible Coaches seek help and guidance from qualified strength coaches to assist in the development of athletes of any level to ensure that strength training is performed in a proper and appropriate manner.  The risks of strength training are similar between youth and adults and strength training is only effective when it is done in a safe environment with proper supervision.

In order for strength training to be effective Responsible Coaches realize that strength training must complement sport training. For example, eliminating practice time to introduce or implement an effective strength program and developing basic movement skills are safe investments. The off-season and preseason are ideal times to implement a strength program. Responsible Coaches recognize athletes need to have the appropriate motor control to perform basic exercises such as a squat, lunge and pushup before progressing to loaded exercises. Although these movements and others may seem rudimentary and common most young athletes lack the ability to execute them with proper form.  Another reason for stressing the importance of such training is that these skills and movements transfer to many different sports and across all levels of sport.

In order for strength training to be enjoyable two very important factors must be considered: Athlete’s must understand and see benefits from the strength program while also training in a fun and enjoyable environment. Any athlete is more likely to continue training when they understand the benefits and see results. This highlights the importance of a sound and effective program. This is especially important considering it may take a few weeks of progressing before performance increases are seen or athletes begin to feel the positive effects of training. Until then it is important to keep training fun and enjoyable by mixing in games or challenges that keep athletes focused. For example, performing walking lunges on a row of printer paper without stepping off could be enjoyable and challenging for younger athletes.

On the other hand older athletes might enjoy keeping a log of their vertical jump height as each athlete attempts to beat their own personal records over time. Setting goals that are both attainable and challenging for the team or each individual is very important when trying to keep athletes motivated and driven. Thus coaches should be prepared with progressions and regressions for different exercises or activities based on ranging abilities of their athletes. If all this is kept in mind it shouldn’t be hard to keep things in enjoyable and fun while still performing strength training in a safe and controlled manner.

References:

Fagenbaum, A. D., Kraemer, W. J., Blimkie, C. J., Jeffreys, I., Micheli, L. J., Nitka, M., et al. (2009). Youth Resistance Training: Updated Position Statement Paper From the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 60-79.


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Français : Tractions

Français : Tractions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


Doctor of Physical Therapy,
PhD Candidate at the University of Southern California
May 05, 2013

Death bydeadlift!

Pungent terminology to some, but if you’re a CrossFitter, it’s pure humdrum. There have been endless articles and blogs that have advocated for or against CrossFit. Those for it wax eloquent on its perceived benefits, like improving physical strength, endurance, range of motion and even appearance. So, you’re saying when you combine a strict diet minimizing dairy products and simple carbohydrates and work out harder and with more intensity, it yields results? Shocker (and that, ladies and gentlemen, is sarcasm at its finest).

The drawbacks of CrossFit are not as apparent. Due to a lack of prospective data, there is no definitive information attributing CrossFit to injury; rather, there are simply anecdotal reports associating CrossFit with — amongst other things — shoulder, back and knee pain. However, the associations between injury potential with the particular lifts and exercises performed during a typical class are painstakingly clear. Fortunately, it can all be addressed through improved quality control, but unlike Drake, it starts from the top.

There are currently no guidelines by any nationally-recognized authority (e.g. NSCA, NATA, ACSM, NCSF) that one can use to inform themselves about CrossFit training methods. Furthermore, potentially due to the minimal qualification requirements, the coaches may not always have the skillset or knowledge base to promote (and/or individually tailor) form in order to prevent injury. This is compounded by the fact that there are inadequate guidelines to prepare novice CrossFitters and potentially insufficient individual attention due to large class sizes. As many CrossFit programs are predicated upon competition amongst the class members, performance (e.g., time and/or repetitions) also often supersedes health. In other words, if you want to be first in the WOD (workout of the day), you may have to push through pain, injury and/or fatigue. It may be the essence of competition, but with high-intensity exercise, injury is inevitable if not done with the proper form. Athletes (novice and experts alike) should thus be cognizant of choosing facilities that offer coaches who are accredited by nationally recognized authorities. With that said, here are just a few typical CrossFit exercises to be cautious of:

Deadlift

An effective lift that targets the hamstrings and back extensors. However, if fatigued, or during competition, mechanics can get sloppy, particularly characterized by the back rounding out and the bar moving too far from the body. This can result in excessive strain (and pain) to the hamstrings, as well as the back muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Having the back bent during the loading and unloading phase can potentially lead to a herniated disc. Focus on maintaining a neutral spine, all the while keeping the bar close to the body.

Power Clean

Similar to deadlifts, power cleans are an Olympic lift, yet the complex movement pattern appears to make it even harder to master. Ex-NFL strength and conditioning coach Dan Riley notes that “the inherent dangers unique to this movement can make it a potential hazard … It places the muscles, lower back, tendons and joints in a vulnerable position.” In fact, even with perfect form, the load from the power clean, particularly during the descent phase, may result in excessive forces to the knee joint. If form degrades and the back begins to arch, the body relies more on the hamstrings and back to eccentrically (muscle lengthening contraction) control the weight, potentially leading to excessive strain and injury to these structures. If performing the power clean, be sure to maintain a neutral spine, bend sufficiently at the knees, and progress very slowly until a good technique is mastered. This may help limit excessive force transmission through the body. It is also advised that those with pre-existing knee pain steer clear of this lift.

Kettlebell Swing

The force to propel the kettlebell is supposed to be derived from the hips. If the weight is too great, or one begins to fatigue, they often compensate by overstressing the upper body — neck and shoulders — during the ascent, and the back — just as in the power clean — during the descent. Furthermore, if the stance is too wide and the knees begin to fall inward, it can result in excessive load to the lateral knee joint. If the stance is too narrow, it will minimize the ability to open the hips, likely resulting in a variety of compensatory (and deleterious) movement patterns. Correct selection of stance width, and having the feet slightly externally rotated can help avoid these pitfalls.

Muscle Up

The ring muscle up is the quintessential CrossFit exercise, requiring flexibility and strength of the core and shoulders as well as mental strength and confidence to complete the task. Though it is a combination of a pull up and a dip, many individuals whom are able to perform both exercises seamlessly have great difficulty in transitioning between the two and thus completing a muscle-up. During the pull phase, one requires core strength to complete a kip pull up, else there will be compensation by the shoulders. During the push phase, the elbows have to stay tucked in close to the body, otherwise it places the shoulders in more of an open-packed position, leaving them — and the rotator cuff, in particular — vulnerable to injury. Make sure to master both ring-based pull ups and dips prior to progressing to a muscle up. It is advised that individuals with pre-existing shoulder injury or instability take particular caution.

Death by. An obvious exaggeration that in CrossFit terminology means to add a single repetition each successive minute until failure. However, the term, and this method of exercise, symbolizes the CrossFit mantra of forging elite fitness, seemingly by pushing yourself past your preconceived limit. Adherence to the CrossFit program and performance of its exercises undoubtedly generates results, but if done improperly, even though the chances of actual death may be low, the likelihood of injury appears high. I would thus be amiss to advise against CrossFit exercises and the associated diet, so rather, I take aim at the CrossFit structure that clearly fails in ensuring that their coaches place emphasis on long-term health and wellness, rather than simple performance metrics. Because frankly, it’s hard to be elite with a herniated disc.

Personal trainer showing a client how to exerc...

Jamie Galloway
Personal trainer, fitness coach
and lifestyle consultant
Posted: 08/28/2012 8:00 pm

Last year a new client came to me with a problem. She should have been in incredible shape — she was running 50+ miles a week, doing yoga daily and training for her first triathlon. Despite her best efforts, however, she found her performance had plateaued or even decreased. Digging deeper, I asked about her mood and sleeping habits. “The smallest things annoy me,” she said. Her sleep, diet and performance at work were all out of whack too. Her problem: overtraining.

I’ve made a career out of working out and I spend a lot of time motivating my clients to love it as much as I do. Fortunately for me, your body and brain want to help me out. When we exercise we release endorphins — the chemicals that make us feel good — into our brains. Endorphins have both pleasurable and addictive effects, and many regular exercisers feel compelled to work out more and more and even feel guilty if they miss a day’s training. Dialing your training back can be difficult and overtraining can easily creep up on you.

Put simply, overtraining is a breakdown in performance that occurs when the body is pushed beyond its capacity to recover. If you don’t allow your body adequate time to recover, then you run the risk of undoing all your hard work at the gym or on the track. To be clear, overtraining is not a problem of too much training, but of too little rest and recuperation. Gains in your strength and fitness don’t happen just because you had an incredible workout, they happen because you rested, ate and recovered afterward.

Reduced performance in the gym isn’t the only symptom of overtraining, in fact, there are too many to list in this article, but I can highlight the main ones: fatigue, decreased athletic performance, weakened immune response, sleep disturbances, irritability, reduced libido, changes in appetite. Starting to sound like fun? No, I didn’t think so.

If some of these sound familiar to you and you think you may be overtraining, all is not lost. Below are some simple things you can do to get back on (or perhaps off) track.

  1. Get more sleep, ideally eight hours a night, and especially after a heavy training session.
  2. Make sure your diet is on point, that you’re consuming enough calories and that you take the time to prepare healthy post-workout meals.
  3. Take breaks from training, you’ll be stronger and more energized when you come back to it.
  4. When you do come back, change things up. Play with different training regimes but don’t just do everything the same or you’re more than likely to end up back where you started.

Try and apply the same commitment to recovery that you apply to your workouts. Give your body the time it needs to rebound and repair and you’ll find yourself with more energy, enhanced performance and a better disposition. Less is sometimes more.

For more by Jamie Galloway, click here.

For more on fitness and exercise, click here.

Follow Jamie Galloway on Twitter: www.twitter.com/trainwithjamie

A senior citizen in trying to slow down his pr...

Image via Wikipedia


Associate Editor, Healthy Living
Posted: 8/30/11 04:36 PM ET

Last week, the Los Angeles Times published a column about the benefits of vanity in exercising, and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Bad enough that I couldn’t stop myself from writing up a response.

According to the piece, it’s okay if looking good is your primary motivation in exercising, because you’ll reap the physiological benefits either way.:

When applied properly, vanity can be great for physical well-beingbecause of the myriad health benefits that come with regular exercise. He also believes it’s a common reason why people hit the gym or running trails: “While many people state they are pursuing fitness for health reasons, the truth is that these are often secondary to their desire to look better. In the back of their minds they’re killing two birds with one stone.”What’s more, it can be a lasting driver, he says: “It will keep us going back to maintain our new look.”

I’m not disputing the truthfulness of the first statement — obviously people are motivated by their looks, particularly when they exercise. But as for the “lasting driver” claim, well, that’s one of my issues. Studies have actually proven the exact opposite, that it’s actually motivations of health and wellness that keep people coming back to the gym for more. And as countless fitness and nutrition experts have repeated over the years, hitting your “goal weight” is often a hidden danger — if your main concern was your looks and you got the ones you wanted, your desire to maintain them may actually decrease, leading to weight gain and the yo-yo dieting cycle.

Not to mention, if you take the argument that “people happy with their results will continue with their plan” to its logical extreme, you can end up with some disordered thinking. The article does touch on some of the dangers of this attitude: eating disorders, taking steroids and weight loss supplements or dangerous crash dieting. But it fails to mention some of the less obvious — yet still damaging — issues like orthorexia that can affect your emotional well-being.

Our own bloggers here at Healthy Living Fitness have written pieces about why working out for vanity is an unproductive route. Mina Samuels, in her blog “Working Out Shouldn’t Be About Getting A Perfect Body,” explains that aiming for perfection physically is an unattainable goal, since the definition of physical perfection doesn’t exist. She suggests instead seeking personal excellence. And personal excellence has nothing to do with vanity — I know countless men and women who don’t look “perfect” but are faster, tougher, stronger and fitter than some of these more vain (and thinner) exercisers could ever hope to be.

Celebrity trainer Ramona Braganza wrote in her blog “Why You Shouldn’t Aim For A Hollywood Body” that even A-list celebs, whose virtual livelihood depends on vanity and attractiveness, still dig deeper for inspiring reasons to exercise (Jessica Alba has a family history of osteoporosis she fights with strength training, and Halle Berry works out to keep her diabetes in check).

While these beautiful women certainly think about the effect exercise has on their appearances, a deeper motivation has to exist — not just for better, more long-lasting results, but for a happier workout.

Follow Sara Gaynes on Twitter: www.twitter.com/sgaynes