Exercise outline Part 1

 In W.O.D.

Due to the amount of information I decided to make this a two part article. Having recently finished the article on High Intensity Interval Training or HIIT, I thought a great follow up would be the basics for designing an exercise routine. Obviously, there will never be a perfect routine that applies for every athlete. However, there exist some general constants that seem to work well with most routines. The following is the basic frame work I use in exercise programing, I do not proclaim to be the end all know all in exercise. I do however, continue to study and learn every day, when I find something that I am doing wrong I replace it, when I find something that could be better I try it and track the progress. It should be important to note this is a strength and conditioning routine, this program is not intended for bodybuilding. For clarification, I have nothing against bodybuilding, and I have designed workouts for those purposes however, this is not one of them.

The basic routine is as follows:

  1. Tissue mobilization
  2. Corrective exercises or mobility and stability exercises
  3. Warm ups
  4. Explosive or Olympic lifts
  5. The “workout”

Okay, that’s it and thank you for tuning in…just kidding, let’s take a second and break this down

1.       Tissue mobilization, is very important for both maintenance and injury prevention, it generally utilizes the foam roller. Foam rolling is one of the first thing any new training client or even new patient learns in my gym and clinic. It is a way to show your body some love, it’s a way or self-massage. It is important because you are able to mobilize your own muscles and other soft tissues (ligament, tendons, nerves etc) of your body. In general, unless the client or patient has a specific condition I like to foam roll; the quadriceps, calve, hamstrings, glutes, low mid and upper back and the lats. The latisimuss dorsi is often neglected in foam rolling and is important for men because they are often overly tight. In women this area seems to be especially tender, I theorize this is due to dampened lymphatic drainage caused by undergarments more so then the tight lats. After the client or patient has done this protocol for a couple weeks I’ll add in the Ilio-Tibial band (IT-band). I wait to add the IT-band because it is usually very tender and I’ve found that loosening the muscles that have insertions into it (mainly the vastus lateralis and gluteus maximus) tend to make the rolling more palatable. Foam rolling should be done every day. Spend at least a couple minutes in each area and if you find a Trigger Point (Tp) in a muscle spend some extra time and try to release it. I will be posting a video showing the basics shortly.

2.       Corrective exercises for mobility and stability, this is different for all clients and patients. This is determined by previous injuries, health concerns/condition, conditioning of the person, sports the athlete is involved in, and limited abilities…I could go on. All that being said, there exists some commonalities in the general athlete and public. Our hips, thoracic spine and shoulders lack mobility, and our core lack stability. In regards to the hips I like to do some dynamic stretching with some leg swings in addition I find it equally important to activate the glutes, either through glute raises or some variation thereof. In regards to core stability I tend to agree with the ideas of Grey Cook. Mr. Cook proposes training dynamic stability whenever possible and only when that cannot be achieved should static training take place. (Cook, 2010) In general, this means perform planks at first but as soon as you can move on to dynamic stabilization exercises such as lifts and chops then do so (google Grey Cook Chops). The thoracic spine can be mobilized in a number of ways, I like to start by using thoracic spine rotatory mobilizationa peanut (google search peanut foam rolling). The peanut will help to accentuate thoracic extension. Next, rotational work for the thoracic spine. This picture demonstrates one of my favorite exercises; assume a quadruped position with one palm in line with an imaginary line drawn from the middle of your knees. Place the palm of your other hand on the back of your neck. As one unit turn, raise you elbow and look to the direction of the raised elbow as far as you can. Complete 8-10 reps for 2-3 sets. If you find one side is harder than the other (almost always the case) do one more set on that side. The last place to warm up is the good-old gleno-humeral joint or shoulder joint. I am particularly fond of “shoulder dislocates” it’s not as scary as it sounds. Although, if you have suffered a significant shoulder injury that has not been properly rehabbed I do not recommend performing this exercise. Again, google “shoulder dislocates with PVC” and you’ll see videos on how to do this. If you are unable to perform using a dowel or PVC than began with a Thera-band or exercise tubing. The Thera-band will be more lenient then a PVC or dowel. Keep the neck in neutral and watch yourself in a mirror to make sure your shoulders are moving symmetrically. Perform 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps.

3.       Warm-ups are meant to get the body warmed up and ready to work. This is not to be confused with cardio. Some examples would be plyometric box jumps, jumping rope, light sprint work, battle ropes, wall ball slams, med ball slams, etc. I try to par the warm up to the patterns being worked for that day. Thus, if we are going to train upper body, the warm-up might include; about 1-1 ½ minutes on the battle ropes and 20 ball slams, alternating back and forth for about 10 minutes. Start easy and as you warm up increase the intensity, while still saving some juice for the real workout.

4.       Olympic lifts, the lifts most of us would benefit from but yet seldom are performed. Power is hard to gain, and fast to lose. When executed properly Olympic lifts provide a platform to develop power, speed, control and overall athleticism faster than other lifting methods. The problem is most gym goers have not fully mastered the form, in addition finding a good coach to teach proper Olympic form is difficult. This can be compounded by lacking the requisite range of motion to properly perform an Olympic lift. For patients or clients new to Olympic lifts I like teaching a variation of the Snatch. Single arm dumbbell snatches are easy for people who lack full shoulder range of motion. As the athlete progresses a “close grip snatch” can be learned and is often times easier to maintain good form then a clean or some variation thereof. Another option for those not well versed in Olympic lifting but whom want the benefits is jump squats. If you add the dumbbell snatch or the jump squat on leg or back days, you’re bound to see results. I use to place the Olympic lifts later in the workout, however, due to the logic of Mike Boyles I started making it the first exercise performed and I have seen some major improvements, fast.

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