Friday, January 23, 2015

A Case of the Tilt

Everything’s cool when you’re just chilling with your arms at your sides. Posture’s good: ribs are down, pelvis and lumbar spine are neutral (or close enough to it), breathing is normal.

Something crazy happens, though, whenever you go to pick heavy stuff up off the floor and press it over your head. All of a sudden, you turn into Donald Duck!

Credits to Bret Contreras for the Donald Duck imagery.

What caused this cartoon metamorphosis? You lost your neutral posture. Your ribs flared up, your low back arched, you stopped breathing into your deep belly, and you went into a nasty anterior pelvic tilt.

Geez Louise, what’s anterior pelvic tilt? Sounds like some sort of airborne illness. Quick, call 9-1-1!

Not so fast, cowboy. We just might be able to reel this bad boy in without the help of the paramedics.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Guest Post: Bro, Do You Even Do (Man Flow) Yoga?

By Dean Pohlman

Today I have a terrific guest post by Dean Pohlman of Man Flow Yoga. Man Flow Yoga is the largest brand of yoga for men on the net -- and for good reason. Dean's approach is unique in that he focuses more on the strengthening and muscle-building properties of yoga and less on the Namaste.

Personally, I practice yoga about once a week. I love what it does for both my muscles and my state of mind, and I think you'll love what Dean has to say about the importance of yoga in a well-rounded training program.

-Fitness Pollenator

Let’s say you have five days a week to work out, and your main goal is to develop muscle mass. I would bet my right nut that most people would say that you should use all five of those days to lift weights. Luckily for me, I get to keep my right nut.

Lifting weights isnt the only thing that goes into developing muscle. Muscle growth doesnt actually occur while youre working out; it happens during the recovery process. The workout itself actually destroys your muscle tissue. That means that if you arent giving yourself the proper amount of recovery time that your body needs, then you are actually doing your body more harm than good.

So slow down on the weights, and change up your workout. Your body gets stronger when its exposed to different movements and new exercises. Incorporating yoga into your routine will not only help your body feel better, but it will also help you get better at weight training. Its the yin to yang. Its the aspect of your fitness thats missing.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Knee Pain? Train the Posterior Chain!

Thanks to your winter-long commitment to high-intensity workouts, you're in the absolute best shape of your life. Your clothes have never fit better. You've never been more proud of your beach-ready body and all your latest personal records in the gym.

But there's one problem: you have knee pain.

Knee pain when you squat. Knee pain when you take the stairs. Knee pain when you drive. Knee pain even when you just sit around.

You've been so committed to training with good technique. What gives?!

You go to the doctor. He gives you a shot of cortisone and sends you for an MRI. Surgery is the recommendation. Something about an abnormal meniscus since birth -- which quite frankly doesn't make any sense since you've been active your whole life but have only recently developed pain.

Might there be any other solution besides surgery? You sit down with a trusted friend to review your training program from the last few months. Heavy squats on Monday, light squats on Wednesday, medium squats on Friday. Your friend identifies the problem immediately.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Where My Girls At?: Getting Comfortable in the Weight Room

2 minutes of stretching, an hour on the stepmill (or similar piece of equipment), 10 minutes of “abs.” Bing-bang-boom.

Does this gym routine look familiar? It should, since it’s the fitness plan of about 90% of female gym-goers worldwide.

Don’t get me wrong. Daily movement is great, practically regardless of the particulars. And if the stepmill brings you great joy, then by all means, don’t let me block the stairs.

But if you want to make serious, lasting changes to your physique and function -- not to mention gain confidence, bone density, and a whole host of other residual benefits -- you have to lift weights. Heavy ones. And that can be scary.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Brief Lessons in Biomechanics: Taking Care of the Spine

Hi! I’m your friendly neighborhood biomechanist, the Fitness Pollenator, and I’m here to impart some quick lessons on how to take care of your spine. Enjoy!

The Importance of A Neutral Spine

Just about everybody knows that picking things up off the floor with a round back is dangerous, but did you know that an overly arched back can be just as bad?

The resultant force due to gravity always acts straight down. Viewed from the spine, this force can be broken down into two components:

(1) a compressive force that pushes the vertebrae together along their longitudinal axis, which the spine tolerates well, and

(2) a shear force that pulls the vertebrae apart transversely, which the spine doesn’t like nearly as much.

In the image above, you can see that the size of the resultant force due to gravity is the same for both the neutral spine and the arched spine. However, that nasty shear component is clearly larger for the arched spine than the neutral one.

Maintaining a neutral spine position (by tightening the abs and glutes) during both bending and overhead movements means that more of the force gets transmitted through compression as opposed to shear, keeping you safer and pain-free.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Stuff That Blew My Mind: Squat and Deadlift Edition

In addition to writing about fitness and creating fabulous videos of myself performing feats of strength, I also do a fair bit of reading. As such, I'd like to share three recent articles pertaining to the squat and deadlift that totally blew my mind.

Charles Staley, Mike Robertson, and Elsbeth Vaino are incredible writers and practitioners. If you like these articles, I highly encourage you to dig into their extensive archives. Just be sure to set aside a few hours, as you might just get lost in a sea of training wisdom. I know I have with these guys!