Tag Archives: Balance

Ski/Board Strong, All Day Long: Week 2

Welcome back to the second week of the Ski and Snowboard Series.  This is a progressive strength and conditioning program specific to snow sports injury prevention and performance enhancement.

Last week’s blog emphasizing gluteal and balance progressions can be performed in addition to this week’s series emphasizing more advanced gluteal and abdominal stability work.

Core – Week 2

After performing the floor gluteal strengthening and balance exercises a couple of times we are ready to progress to what we call closed chained strengthening (feet on the ground), which is very specific to skiing and snowboarding.  Holding that crouched posture down the slopes takes endurance mixed with bursts of power.  If you don’t have enough endurance to last the entire run, you will be too gassed to perform any technical moves requiring quick changes of direction or bursts of energy.  The best way to develop both types of strength in the core is by performing a variety of plank exercises described in the video below.

Start: Stationary plank on elbows/toes.  This can be modified to elbows and knees.  Perform 3 sets of 30 seconds – 1 minute or to fatigue.  If you are able to hold the stationary plank for > 30 seconds with good form, attempt the more challenging versions.

Progress:  Dynamic plank on BOSU hands and toes or leg extension.  Perform 2 sets 10-20 of each or until fatigue.

Circuit these sets with the squats (below) or balance drills from last week to save time and keep your heart rate up.

Gluteal Progression – Week 2

This closed chained progression is the most specific to both skiing and snowboarding technique.  Having stong hip extensors and the ability for your core / hips to coordinate well together will minimize the possibility of improperly edging or wiping out on the board because you couldn’t get your hips centered in time.  The progression in the video below (to one leg squats) emphasizes glut and core coordination for improving quick change of direction.

Start: Double leg squats.  Perform 2 sets of 10-20 reps or to fatigue.  Add hand weights and lower body slowly to increase load.

Progress: Single leg Squats.  Perform 2 sets of 10-20 reps or to fatigue.

Still not motivated or don’t have enough time to practice every day?  Come to Total Body Fitness every Tuesday and Saturday where we will feature specific exercises geared to snow sports fitness.

Check back for next week’s installment of the ski and snowboard series!

Ski/Board Strong, All Day Long: Week 1

Ski and Snowboard Series

Thanksgiving is fast approaching and you are probably feeling the pressure of the holiday season.  Having a goal in mind and program in place will alleviate some of the pressure and keep you focused.   Knowing that there is a 10 foot base of snow will keep you motivated to start prepping for ski and snowboard season.   To help you progress your training safely, we will be uploading weekly videos.   We will also be posting about common snow sport injuries and training pitfalls.

If you routinely hit the slopes every winter, you are already aware of the potential risk of injuries without prepping your trunk and legs properly.  You are not only at risk for injury, but at risk for poor performance.  Everyone dreads the soreness after their first day back on the mountain.  Doing just a little bit of training will dramatically reduce the aftermath of that first day.  Each week we will post two sets of exercises that are focused on a specific muscle group or coordination of multiple muscle groups specific for skiing or snowboarding.  Get going today with these exercises for week 1.

Week 1 – Gluteal Progression

Week one of snow sport training involves waking up dormant hip muscles (specifically the gluteus medius).  This muscle is essential for stability and power during change of direction while carving or shredding down the mountain.

Start: sidelying hip abduction  – Perform 2 sets of 10-20 reps on each leg or until fatigue in the side of your hip.

Progress:  band walks – perform 1 minute walking even distances to the right and the left or until fatigue.

Week 1 – Balance Progression

Without superior balance we would not be able to stand up let alone descend the mountain on our skis or snowboards.  Standing on one leg coordinates glut and core activation, also essential for safe and efficient mechanics on the slopes.  Balance can be improved in extremely short amounts of time IF you practice it.

Start: Single leg stance.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat on both sides.  Progress to performing with eyes closed.

Progress:  Single leg stance on an unstable surface and/or ball toss.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Progress by closing eyes.  Also, progress by tossing a ball for 30-60 seconds.

Still not motivated or don’t have enough time to practice every day?  Come to Total Body Fitness every Tuesday and Saturday where we will feature special exercises geared for snow sport fitness!

Check back for next week’s installment of the ski and snowboard series!

Equipment Corner: The TRX® Suspension Trainer™

For the past three years, the TRX® Suspension Trainer™ from Fitness Anywhere, LLC went from unknown buzz word to major fixture at most gyms, training rooms, and households.  The black and yellow harness has revitalized portable, accessible bodyweight-based training to improve strength, core stability, and balance for people of all fitness levels.

History

The TRX was derived by company founder, Randy Hetrick’s experience in the US Navy SEALS Teams, where versatile training strategies and high-level fitness are fundamental to success.  “A few lengths of parachute webbing hand-stitched together by boat repair tools” created an “invention of necessity”.  After extensive research and development, including military testing in the field, the TRX® Suspension Trainer™ was introduced to the public in 2005.

What makes the TRX unique?

Ever tried a push up?  Challenging, right?  Ever tried a push up on the TRX?  More challenging!  Or is it less challenging?  Ok, now I’m confused.

Well, fear not!  The beauty of the TRX is its ability to initiate your “core muscles” with each exercise, and as we learned from our “Best Core Exercises” blog, these muscles help to provide a stable base and foundation for one’s body to function.  The TRX utilizes your body weight against gravity, so not only is bulky and expensive exercise equipment not required, but you have complete control over how challenging your exercise can be by simply taking a step forward or back.

Let’s test your problem solving skills:

Henry of the US Navy SEALS Teams thinks 10 push ups on the floor is too easy.  He can likely do push ups and brush his teeth at the same time without breaking a sweat:  great for oral hygiene, not so great for challenging his strength.

Grandma Jones of the Wednesday afternoon mahjong club thinks 10 push ups on the floor might land her in the hospital.

Both statements are likely true.  How do we accommodate both the ultimate athlete and our gracefully aging grandma?  Check out this video to see how the TRX can make a simple push up rewarding for both of these super athletes.

Is the TRX for me?

After solving the above push-up problem, it’s clear that the TRX is appropriate for all body types, ages, and fitness levels.  It can be used anywhere and by anyone, to improve strength, flexibility, and balance.

Below are a few examples of how the TRX can be used to accomplish individual fitness-related goals.  Unless you have experience using the TRX, you should seek instruction and supervision by a physical therapist or TRX trainer to ensure proper form and safety with these exercises.

Knee Rehabilitation:

The goal of these exercises is to improve balance and lower body strength, including but not limited to the gluteals, hamstrings, and quadriceps.  Improving hip flexibility will also ensure proper knee mechanics and posture after an injury or surgery.

Golf Fitness:

The goal of these exercises is to improve thoracic and hip rotation mobility, in addition to scapular and hip strength for better swing mechanics and a reduced handicap.

Marathon Training:

The goal of these exercises is to improve gluteal strength for knee stability and upright posture for running efficiency.  Plyometric training including jumping and hopping will help with shock absorption, hill running, and sprinting towards the finish line.

Where can I find a TRX?

Fitness Anywhere LLC hopes to expand their training centers throughout the United States, but there is currently only one available to the public in San Francisco, CA.  The TRX Training Center offers several TRX classes including stretching, boot camp, and circuit training.  The San Francisco-based company can be found promoting their product at fitness, military, and rehabilitation trade shows and events.

The TRX® Suspension Trainer™ can also be found in gyms, physical therapy clinics, and homes given it’s versatility in the fitness and rehabilitation world.  Since the TRX is portable, you may also see it at basketball courts, parks, or boot camp classes in your neighborhood.

Despite your fitness level or where you are in the world, everyone agrees that the TRX® Suspension Trainer™ is an easy and fun way to improve your strength, core stability, and balance.  So check out the TRX Training Center or our Total Body Fitness class to get a taste of what the TRX buzz is all about!

Get Ready for the Upcoming Golf Season

It’s the beginning of the year and the start of some resolutions.  Wanna be a better golfer?  Start simple, by focusing on your endurance, core strength and balance to make it happen.  Start by improving your stamina by walking for at least 30 minutes a day.  A round of golf is no walk in the park.  It requires a lot of endurance, particularly if you’re walking the course.  And let’s be honest, some of the courses around San Francisco are not exactly flat!  Progress to 45 minutes to an hour walks once or twice a week in addition to your 30 min daily walks.   Try to mix up the terrain to challenge your cardiovascular system and balance.  This might include walking on grass, sand or up/down hills.

For additional balance training, integrate single leg balance with trunk/hip rotations to simulate a golf swing.  If that’s easy, then try standing on an uneven surface or on a BOSU ball.  You can even hold on to a resistance band and swing with increased speed to challenge your core strength and improve power.  The golf swing requires balance and coordination as well as kinesthetic awareness of how your body is moving in space.  Using a mirror while training balance is helpful to see exactly where you are.

Core strength has been a catch phase in the exercise industry for some time now.  Just as a house requires a stable foundation to withstand environmental stresses, your body requires a strong core in order for your extremities to function properly.  If your foundation is weak, chances are you will have a break down in your movement/swing pattern.  Integrate core strengthening exercises daily such as the ones featured below.  If you need the motivation, enroll in a Pilates class once or twice a week.

A one on one golf fitness session to get specific exercises will help you address all your fitness needs to get you ready for spring golf.  Link here to find your closest  Titleist Performance Institute Golf Fitness Instructor  through TPI.   Just like any offseason, work hard now to get your best performance when your golf season starts.

Work Hard Now for a Better Snow Sports Season

Ski and Snowboard Series

Thanksgiving is over and you are probably feeling the pressure of the holiday season.  Having a goal in mind and program in place will alleviate some of the pressure and keep you focused.   Knowing that there is a 10 foot base of snow will keep you motivated to start prepping for ski and snowboard season.   In effort to help you progress your training safely we will be uploading weekly videos.   We will also be posting about common snow sport injuries and training pitfalls.

If you routinely hit the slopes every winter, you are already aware of the potential risk of injuries without prepping your trunk and legs properly.  You are not only at risk for injury, but at risk for poor performance.  Everyone dreads the soreness after their first day back on the mountain.  Doing just a little bit of training will dramatically reduce the aftermath of that first day.  Each week we will post two sets of exercises that are focused on a specific muscle group or coordination of multiple muscle groups specific for skiing or snowboarding.  Get going today with these exercises for week 1.

Week 1 – Gluteal Progression

Week one of snow sport training involves waking up dormant hip muscles (specifically the gluteus medius).  This muscle is essential for stability and power during change of direction while carving or shredding down the mountain.

Start: sidelying hip abduction  – Perform 2 sets of 10-20 reps on each leg or until fatigue in the side of your hip.

Progress:  band walks – perform 1 minute walking even distances to the right and the left or until fatigue.

Week 1 – Balance Progression

Without superior balance we would not be able to stand up let alone descend the mountain on our skis or snowboards.  Standing on one leg coordinates glut and core activation, also essential for safe and efficient mechanics on the slopes.  Balance can be improved in extremely short amounts of time IF you practice it.

Start: Single leg stance.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Repeat on both sides.  Progress to performing with eyes closed.

Progress:  Single leg stance on an unstable surface and/or ball toss.  Hold for 30 seconds.  Progress by closing eyes.  Also, progress by tossing a ball for 30-60 seconds.

Still not motivated or don’t have enough time to practice every day?  Come to Total Body Fitness every Tuesday and Saturday where we will feature special exercises geared for snow sport fitness.  Later this week we will be posting a blog specific to common skiing injuries.

What is Pilates?

Is Pilates the latest fad? Like the ball shaped like a bean? Like the electrical belt to give you 6-pack abs? How about the weight that shakes?  Actually, Pilates has been around for over half a century. The New York Times reported that in 2005, 11 million people in the across the nation practice Pilates regularly.¹

Pilates is a form of exercise developed by Joseph Pilates to strengthen muscles, increase flexibility, and improve overall general health.

Joseph Pilates was born in Germany 1883.  In his youth, he was often sick which made him weak.  So in the first half 1900’s, he explored different ways to improve his own health.  He understood that exercises can help cure illnesses, and that there was a connection between the mental and the physical health.  Improving flexibility and strength by controlling movements efficiently seems to relax the mind.  Joseph Pilates first developed 34 mat exercises in his first book “Return to Life” in 1945.  Then he invented several apparatuses, such as the Reformer, the Cadillac, and the Chair to provide progressive resistance using springs.

Benefits of Pilates:

There are reasons why this is the exercise of choice for dancers and gymnasts.

By performing Pilates, you can develop strength and flexibility, in order to prevent injuries.  Research has shown that Pilates is beneficial for people with low back pain.² Pilates addresses the whole body with movement through 6 basic principles.

Pilates Principles:

There are 6 principles in Pilates: breathing, concentration, control, centering, precision, and flow.

1) Breathing: Cleanses the body and increases the circulation throughout the body.  Proper breathing allows for proper engagement of core muscles.

2) Concentration: Focusing on what your entire body is doing.  This increases your body’s awareness to perform each exercise properly.

3) Control: Muscles control all movements against gravity or resistance. 

4) Centering: The center is where you control all your movements from.  Movements flow from the center.  Abdominals, hips and thigh muscles, and back muscles encompass your center and form your core.

5) Precision: Performing the correct movement is essential to achieve the maximum benefit of the exercise.

6) Flow: Movement flows fluidly outward from a strong core.

What is the difference between Mat and Apparatus Pilates?

Mat Pilates

Mat Pilates is usually performed in a group.  The group size can vary from a small group, more commonly at private owned studios to a very large group as seen in large gym facilities.  These classes are about an hour long and taught by one instructor.

Exercises classes can be offered for different student levels: beginners, intermediate and advance students.  But, most large group classes consist of a mixed class.  During the class, the instructor may utilize Pilates’ rings, straps, and foam rollers.  It is recommended that you bring your own mat to the class.

Apparatus Pilates

Apparatus Pilates uses equipment to implement Pilates movements and principles.  Some apparatus offer resistance using springs.

There are four different types of apparatus:

  1. Reformer: This the most common-some studios may have this
  2. Cadillac: This is also known as the trapeze table
  3. Barrel
  4. Chair

Apparatus Pilates is usually private 1:1, semi-private 1:2, or small groups.

Some common questions before trying Pilates:

How do I find a Pilates class?

Pilates has become very popular.  Pilates is offered at gyms, private Pilates studios, schools, and even hospitals, like our Wellness Pilates Program: Pilates Beyond Therapy.

I’ve heard Pilates is good for me but I’m recovering from an injury.  What is better for me? A group class or one on one session?

I usually recommend beginning with one on one sessions for at least 4 sessions before attempting to participate in a group mat class. Working with an instructor one on one definitely has its advantages.  You’ll be given constant feedback regarding the technique of the exercise and for your safety.  If you are pregnant, Pilates can be beneficial, but make sure that you are under the guidance of a fully trained expert.

How do I find a Pilates instructor?

A Pilates instructor’s training can vary from someone who teaches Pilates because they have been doing Pilates to someone who has been fully trained and certified.  Some Pilates instructors have a kinesiology background and biomechanics training.

Do not be afraid to interview and ask instructors what type of Pilates background and training they have.  If you are recovering from an injury, ask the instructor if they have any experience with this type of injury.

References:

1. ^ Ellin, A. (2005-07-21). “Now Let Us All Contemplate Our Own Financial Navels”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/21/business/21sbiz.html. Retrieved 2007-09-20.

2. Body-Mind-Spirit Review – March, 2007 Pilates-Based Exercises for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

What is a CSCS?

Have you ever wondered how high school, collegiate, and professional athletes are able to get into competitive shape from season to season?   How do they get prepared for all the movements and grueling tasks that are required of them by their coaches and sport?   The answer:   Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialists (CSCS).   These special groups of people are professionals who apply scientific knowledge to train athletes for the primary goal of improving athletic performance.   They conduct sport-specific testing sessions, design and implement safe and effective strength training and conditioning programs and provide guidance regarding nutrition and injury prevention.

Strength & Conditioning programs have made athletics more explosive and more exciting, as athletes have made great improvements in strength, power, speed, endurance, and body control.   So, the next time you see a great double OT game, a fantastic finish in a swimming meet, or an unbelievable final round in a golf tournament, you will know that a strength and conditioning coach helped to provide that athlete with the power, stamina, and endurance to provide that extraordinary event for you to experience.

Today, more than 21,000 professionals from a variety of academic and professional backgrounds hold the prestigious credential.   This diverse group includes strength coaches, athletic trainers, physical therapists, personal trainers, physicians, chiropractors, researchers, and educators.

Here is a clip of a Physical Therapist Assistant, who is also a CSCS, instructing a Total Body Fitness class here at CPMC. The exercises utilized in this class improve strength, agility, power, balance, core stability, and speed.  People who are CSCS must be good coaches and very motivational to help their athletes achieve their recreational and career goals.