Tag Archives: core stability

Improve Strength, Stability with Offset Training

9 Nov

IMG_3660[1]Offset training — loading one side of your body — makes lower-body exercises like the lunge and split squat more challenging.

When performing offset lunges, holding the weight in the hand opposite your working leg engages your glutes more; while holding it in the other hand emphasizes your quads.

Offset training can also be a useful upper-body training strategy.  For example, performing a dumbbell bench press while holding dumbbells of different weights in each hand.

At its simplest, offset loading is using a higher load on one side of the body. This can be accomplished by holding a heavier weight in one hand compared to the other, holding weight only on one side of the body, or loading a bar more on one side. The greater the difference in resistance from one side to the other, the greater the offset and the greater the demands on stability.

For example, if you’re doing farmer’s walks with an 80-pound load in one hand and a 60-pound load in the other, you’ll have a 20-pound offset, with a total load of 140 pounds. Now if you’re to use a 100-pound load in one hand and a 40-pound load in the other you’ll have a 60-pound offset, but still a total load of 140 pounds.

The greater offset will demand more core stability and strength to maintain a neutral spine while still using the same overall load. Being able to use the same load with a higher demand on core function is another benefit of offset loads, and another reason offset loading will help you break through strength plateaus.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Balance Training is for Everyone

30 Sep

airex_balance_beam_square[1]At Athletic Performance Training Center, we like balance training for all of our athletes.

Balance training improves neuromuscular communication and coordination; increases musculoskeletal strength and stability, especially around the joints; enhances strength and stability of connective tissue (ligaments and tendons); improves core strength and stability; and helps to reduce injury by “teaching” the body to adapt to instability.

And, although balance training is a valuable training strategy for athletes, everyone can benefit from balance training.

There are several tools — such as balance pads (pictured), discs, and BOSU balls — that allow for a variety of exercises performed with different degrees of instability.

Add balance training to your current training routine, allow for progression of difficulty over time, and improve your performance and overall physical functioning.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Strengthen Your Core and Legs to Throw Harder

31 Aug

It may seem counter-intuitive, but ball speed relies on lower-body power, according to an Ohio State study.

There’s nothing new about this information, and the rationale is pretty simple:  Pitchers who throw hardest put more force into the ground.

“A strong, stable core helps transfer energy through your hips and up your trunk to your arm,” says lead study author, Mike McNally, CSCS.

Lower-body exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges, glute-ham raises, and Romanian Deadlifts are great for strengthening your hips and legs; while plyometric training can add explosive power.

A recent Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research article also supports medicine ball training — throws and slams — as another effective way to improve throwing velocity.

Since medicine ball throws and slams, performed properly, require considerable core and lower-body engagement and activation, these exercises are an ideal complement for athletes wanting to improve throwing velocity.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Core Strength and Stability is the Key

15 Jun

bosu-ball-exercise-ball-elevated-push-up_-_step_2.max.v1[1]If you’re an athlete training to improve your performance, developing a strong, stable core — shoulders through hips, and not just abs — should be a priority.

Since every athlete’s strength and power are generated from the core musculature, movement-based, multi-joint exercises — including rotational and anti-rotational exercises — are important components of a well-designed strength and conditioning plan.

Here’s an article from EXOS titled, Why a Strong Pillar is Critical for Soccer, that discussed and simplifies the benefits of a strong, stable core, including:

  • Balance and stability
  • More effective and efficient movement
  • More muscular endurance/less muscular fatigue
  • Injury risk reduction

Although the article addresses soccer, the principles apply to all athletes and sports.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Stand Up (more) and Exercise

23 Jan

sitting.jpg.size.xxlarge.letterbox[1]We sit too much.  We sit at work.  We sit when we drive.  We sit when we watch TV.  And, of course, we sit when we eat.

Don’t go to the gym and do more sitting.

Spend more time exercising at the gym on your feet (and don’t sit between sets, either).  You’ll burn more calories, increase core activation, and stay more focused and engaged in your workout.

Sure, there will always be a place for exercises like the bench press.  But you’ll find that you can perform virtually any exercise or movement — and work any muscle group — while standing, instead of sitting or lying down.

As an alternative to barbells and dumbbells, incorporate bands, kettlebells and medicine balls into your workout.  You can push, pull, lift, swing and throw them — and get a great workout in the process.

Push or pull a weighted sled.

Try suspension training (we like the TRX), and anti-rotational training, using equipment like the TRX Rip Trainer.

When you’re upright, the muscles that keep you balanced and stabilized work twice as hard, compared with sitting or lying down.  This strategy will also create a more efficient, effective workout… and produce results.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Strengthen Your Core With This Workout

2 Jan

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Swiss Ball Plank

A good core workout should work your entire core (and not just your abs) — front, sides, and back; shoulders through hips — and improve core strength and stability.

Here’s a core workout that’s a favorite of many of the athletes that train at our facility:

You can incorporate this circuit into your workout, or make it a “stand alone” workout by performing each exercise multiple times.  Increase the difficulty/intensity of the workout by adding resistance (bands, weight plates, etc.) to body-weight exercises; progressively increasing weight and/or repetitions; or adding time to the plank.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Mobility: Make Your Workouts More Functional

28 Nov

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Physioball Weight Roll

We focus on functional training for our athletes.  That means movement-based — and not muscle-based — exercises make up the majority of every athlete’s workout.  In addition to developing strength, speed, agility, and athleticism, we want our athletes to improve mobility, balance, coordination, and stability.  All these components contribute to a more powerful, capable athlete.

Ultimately, the athlete’s training should reflect the demands and movement patterns of his or her sport.

Better mobility helps athletes reduce the incidence of injury, and also gives players a considerable advantage on the court or field.  Hip and ankle mobility are important for explosive movements like sprinting; accelerating and decelerating; changing direction; and blocking and tackling.

  • Unilateral exercises (those which load one side of the body at a time), like single-arm presses and single-leg squats, are probably more reflective of sports performance than traditional bilateral exercises (loading both sides equally).  We like alternating between unilateral and bilateral exercises, for a specific movement or muscle group, every other week, to build a stronger, more balanced musculature.
  • Perform more exercises standing, including standing on one leg.  When you sit or lie down to do an exercise, you’re not supporting your own weight and, as a result, you’re compromising the development of core strength and stability.
  • Get away from training on machines that “lock” your body into exercises that don’t require balance or stability, and those that don’t work multiple joints and muscle groups from different angles.  Opt instead for free-weight exercises using dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls, or even sandbags.
  • Move through different planes of motion when you workout.  Lateral, transverse (diagonal), rotational, and anti-rotational exercises are great additions to any training regimen.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Take Your Plank to the Next Level

20 Aug

Bridge-Plank-on-Elbows[1]At Athletic Performance Training Center, we really like the plank exercise and several of its variations.  Unlike traditional crunches and situps, the plank — done correctly — engages, strengthens, and stabilizes your entire core, shoulders to hips (and they’re easier on the back and hips).

I recently found this article titled, 47 Plank Variations for a Killer Core, which provides beginner, intermediate, and advanced level variations of this versatile, bodyweight exercise.

Check it out and give ’em a try.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Build Explosive Power with this Medicine Ball Exercise

18 Jul

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Medicine ball throws are great for developing explosive power, and can be used as an alternative to Olympic lifts.  These exercises strengthen and stabilize the core musculature, reinforce the biomechanics of force generation, reflect the demands and movement patterns of many sports, and can be performed in virtually every plane of motion.

Here’s one of the total-body exercises we use with our athletes to build explosive power.  This triple extension exercise is basically a heavy medicine ball clean and jerk, immediately followed by a forceful vertical or horizontal push/throw.

In the first video, Julianne — one of our high school basketball players — demonstrates the exercise with a 25 lb. medicine ball and a vertical throw, pushing the ball as high as she can.  Note how she uses her hips and legs (with minimal bend at the waist and back involvement) to get under the ball and generate force.

In the second video, Julianne uses the same medicine ball with a horizontal throw, pushing the ball as far as she can.  Mechanics and technique — hip and leg drive — are similar to the first exercise.

We have our athletes perform 3 sets of 4 repetitions, with a one minute rest between sets.  Typically, these types of (power) exercises are placed at the beginning of a workout, following an appropriate, dynamic warmup.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Strengthen Your Core with the Inverted Balance Plank

14 May
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APTC student-athletes performing the Inverted Balance Plank

Want to try a challenging, isometric core-strengthening exercise?  Next time you train, add the Inverted Balance Plank to your workout.

Here’s how to do it: Lie on your back, legs straight and feet together, arms folded across your shoulders.  To begin the exercise, elevate your shoulders and back, and legs and feet, so that you’re balancing on your butt.  Keep your shoulders and feet about six inches above the ground.  Brace your core (like you’re preparing to take a punch in the stomach) and hold that position for 30 seconds, or as long as you can.  As you are able, add more time in increments of 15 seconds.  Use this exercise as a workout “finisher.”

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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