Tag Archives: deadlift

Injury-Proof Your Legs With Stronger Hips

8 Jul

sandbag-lunge-exercise-14102011[1]Athletes spend a lot of time on their feet.  As a result of impact, fatigue, and overuse, the incidence of leg injury increases.

Research shows that hip muscle weakness increases the risk of injuries like chronic knee pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and pain in the sole of the foot.  Since the muscles of the hip are important for stabilizing the leg during running, jumping, and other lower-extremity movement, weakness of these muscles can lead to less control of the legs and an increase in the risk of injury.

Hip muscle training can not only build up protection from future injuries, it can also help to alleviate pain from various running-related injuries, according to various studies.  Try hip-strengthening exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges (pictured, with sandbag), and glute bridges.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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The Deadlift Exercise: Straight Bar vs. Hexagonal Bar

8 Jun
Straight Bar Deadlift

Straight Bar Deadlift

Hex Bar Deadlift

Hex Bar Deadlift

The deadlift exercise is commonly performed to develop strength and power, and to train the lower-body and core.  It is widely used by athletes of many sports to enhance power and strength.

The deadlift exercise is particularly useful because it is a multi-joint exercise that activates several large muscle groups – including the legs, hips, back, and torso – and involves the lifting of heavy loads.  This elicits a larger stimulus to which the body must adapt, making it ideal for enhancing muscular strength and power.

Traditionalist and “hard-core” lifters would argue in favor of the straight barbell deadlift but, at our facility, we favor the hexagonal barbell.

We work with a diverse variety of athletes, ranging from professional athletes to young, scholastic athletes, and we’ve found that using the hexagonal bar for the deadlift exercise simply makes more ergonomic sense.

The athletes’ ability to grip the hexagonal barbell at their sides – as opposed to in front of them, with a straight barbell – leads to a safer movement pattern/range of motion (less inclination to lean forward and over-activate the lower back, keeping the emphasis of the exercise on the hips and legs), and the ability to lift more weight safely.

A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared muscle activation and power characteristics while performing the deadlift exercise with straight and hexagonal barbells.  In the study, researchers corroborate and confirm the benefits of the hexagonal bar deadlift, stating that “… the hexagonal barbell may be more effective at developing maximal force, power, and velocity.” (Camara, K., et.al.)

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

20 Apr

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Contributing Factors to Change-of-Direction Ability

23 Nov

marshall_faulk[1]Regardless of the sport you play, strength and speed are “difference makers.”  And, although linear sprint speed is important, most athletes will need to change direction while moving at high-speed.

This is another area where strength training becomes important to the athlete’s development.

According to a study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, “Change-of-direction ability… would be best improved through increases in an athlete’s strength and power while maintaining lean muscle mass.” (Delaney, et. al.)

Since change-of-direction ability is heavily dependent on relative strength and power, the development of these attributes through the core, hips, and lower extremities has a positive effect on change-of-direction (COD) performance.  Research shows a high correlation between 1-repetition maximum/body mass and COD in exercises like squats and deadlifts.

In addition to the squat and deadlift exercises, the leg press and split squat are also beneficial to the development of hip and leg drive.

Single-leg exercises, like the single-leg squat, step-up, and Bulgarian split squat, add an element of balance and stability to your lower-extremity strength development.

Plyometric exercises, like box jumps and depth jumps, can help you build explosive power, improving the amount of force you are able to generate against the ground.

Since long-term (>2 years) strength training improves COD performance, it is recommended as early as childhood and adolescence.  Consult with a knowledgeable, experienced strength and conditioning professional for guidance regarding an age-appropriate, well-designed, and well-supervised program.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Injury-Proof Your Legs With Stronger Hips

20 May

sandbag-lunge-exercise-14102011[1]Athletes spend a lot of time on their feet.  As a result of impact, fatigue, and overuse, the incidence of leg injury increases.

Research shows that hip muscle weakness increases the risk of injuries like chronic knee pain, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, and pain in the sole of the foot.  Since the muscles of the hip are important for stabilizing the leg during running, jumping, and other lower-extremity movement, weakness of these muscles can lead to less control of the legs and an increase in the risk of injury.

Hip muscle training can not only build up protection from future injuries, it can also help to alleviate pain from various running-related injuries, according to various studies.  Try hip-strengthening exercises like squats, deadlifts, lunges (pictured, with sandbag), and glute bridges.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Improve Your Speed and Agility with Jump Training

27 Mar

Lead%20Photo-1[1]Research has shown a definitive correlation between jumping ability and running performance, including speed and agility.  Generally, there is a stronger correlation based on the sprint distance.  The contribution of muscle power may be most important in shorter distance sprints (for example, 60, 100, and 200 meters), although middle- and long-distance running performance is positively impacted, as well.  Development of muscle power — via jump training — should be considered as  a component for training for most sports, including both sprinters and middle- and long-distance runners.

Running velocity, including the ability to accelerate, decelerate, and change direction quickly, has been shown to be a function of force and power production.  The high-power output associated with jumping activities has led researchers to determine that jumping tests could be used as a  predictor of running performance.

Force and power are obvious components of running ability.  Maximal squat strength has been significantly correlated to sprint performance.  So, how do you incorporate strength and power training — including jump training — into your strength and conditioning regimen in a relevant way?

Strength Training

Before you start jump training, including plyometrics, you’ve got to be strong.  In order to be safe and effective, high-intensity power training requires adequate strength.  Bilateral, lower-body strength exercises like the squat, deadlift, and Romanian deadlift will help you build a strong foundation.  Unilateral exercises like the stepup and Bulgarian split squat are more functional, requiring strength and stability

Jump Training

Plyometrics are the most effective way to build lower-extremity power.  These exercises, done correctly, are designed to help you generate the greatest possible force in the shortest amount of time.  Jumping rope and jumping jacks are basic plyometric exercises, and a good place to start.  Once proficient at these exercises, you can progress to multiple, continuous box and hurdle jumps.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

Your thoughts?

Building Muscle and Strength for the Female Athlete

7 Dec

DSCN0057Strength training can benefit everyone, male or female. And, while there are certainly some gender differences, women have the potential to build muscle and gain strength through a well-designed strength training program. Here are some tips for how to build muscle for women.

Be realistic. Think about (and write down) what you want to accomplish. Understand that progress won’t occur overnight. Set short- and long-term goals, then develop a plan that is aligned with your goals.

Be consistent. Avoid peaks and valleys that can occur as a result of over- or under-training. Commit yourself to a set schedule that fits with your lifestyle, and stick to it.

Push yourself. If you want to build muscle, you have to challenge yourself. That means using weight/resistance that challenges you through a certain number of reps and sets. Heavy weights force your body to recruit more muscle fibers, which leads to muscle growth. It’s not supposed to be easy.

Perform compound exercises — those which engage multiple joints and muscle groups — like the deadlift, squat, and bench press. These exercises are terrific for improving conditioning, building muscle, and increasing strength.

Workout at least three times a week. If you’re a novice, start with at least two times a week. Allow for a day of rest between training days.

Eat well. That means quality and quantity. Ensure that you’re getting adequate calories. Aim for 5-6 evenly-spaced, small meals throughout the day. Your diet should include lean protein, clean carbs, and healthy fats.

Fuel your workout. You need a combination of carbs and protein both before (30-90 minutes) and after (within 30 minutes) a workout. Carbs provide energy and replenish depleted glycogen stores. Protein is essential to rebuild and repair muscle.

Try a creatine supplement. Creatine monohydrate may have the ability to enhance your training — helping you workout harder and for a longer period of time. This could lead to increased muscle growth.

Track your progress. Keep a chart of every workout, including exercises, weights, reps, and sets. A nutrition journal is not a bad idea either.

Get help. Consider enlisting the services of a strength and conditioning professional, at least to get started. He or she can help you to be more effective and efficient.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Master the Deadlift to Improve Athletic Performance

30 Nov

Want to get stronger, faster, and more powerful?  One exercise — the deadlift — can help you accomplish that, according to the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Exerting force against the ground is the foundation for basic sports movements like running, jumping, and throwing.  The deadlift effectively strengthens your core and lower body (back, hips, and legs), increasing the amount of force you can generate against the ground.  Regardless of the sport you play, this exercise can help you improve your game.

Watch Josh Cribbs perform the deadlift exercise.

As with any exercise, technique is important.  When performing the deadlift, it’s important to ensure that your hips and legs, and not your back, are doing most of the work.  Focus on hip drive.  Here are some tips for proper execution of this exercise:

  • Assume a stance with feet about hip width apart
  • Grip the bar with hands just wider than shoulder width
  • In “down” position, keep bar close to shins and hips pushed back
  • Arms straight, chest and chin up
  • Push hips forward and straighten knees to stand up
  • Squeeze glutes
  • Keep back straight and bar close to body
  • Lower bar to ground by reversing movement
  • Repeat
  • Aim for 3-5 sets of 4-6 repetitions at 80-90% 1RM; rest 2-3 minutes between sets

You can also perform the deadlift exercise with a “trap” bar.  This version is especially recommended for novices, as the side handles make the exercise much less back-intensive.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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Develop Your Core to Improve Athletic Performance

29 Oct

It’s important to incorporate core (multi-joint) exercises into your Strength and Conditioning plan.  When some people hear core, they think abs.  Your core actually includes shoulders, chest, back, hips, glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings.  These are your body’s largest and strongest muscles; the muscles that initiate and generate strength and power for virtually every sport.  It won’t matter how strong muscles like your biceps, triceps, and calves are if you don’t have a strong core.

Train Movements, Not Muscles

All athletic movements incorporate the core in some way.   Very few muscle groups are isolated; the whole body works as a unit.  Core strength training should reflect the movement patterns of the athlete’s sport(s).  Benefits of core strength training include:

  • Greater efficiency of (functional) movement
  • Improved balance and stability
  • Increased strength and power output from both the core musculature and peripheral muscles such as the shoulders, arms, and legs
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Improved athletic performance

Resistance Training Exercises

There are lots of exercises athletes can do to strengthen the muscles of the core.  Some of the most effective are exercises like the Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift (RDL), Squat, Bench Press, and Row.  Unilateral variations of these exercises (single-arm, single-leg) are also beneficial because of the way they incorporate balance and stability, making them very functional.

Do It Right

Proper technique can make every exercise more effective and reduce the risk of injury.  If you’re just starting, it’s wise to enlist the help of an experienced, qualified Strength and Conditioning professional.  Even if you’re not a strength training novice, working with a professional can focus your efforts and help you be more efficient and productive en route to reaching and exceeding your athletic performance goals.

Get STRONGER, Get FASTER!

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