Check out Nick’s latest article on STACK and learn all about the importance of training the anterior section of the glute and internal rotation for better hip health and performance: The Forgotten Hip Muscle
If there is one thing that I’ve seen since coming into the fitness industry over 12 years ago, it’s the growth in the knowledge of the need for more specific glute work with a large number of people out there living today. Poor glute function often leads to an overworked low back and/or aggravated knees along with less than optimal movement quality. The fact that more and more people are becoming aware of this is great; however, there are other players around the hip and leg that are also very important to take care of, and in my opinion, a specific group of these often gets sad because they are not addressed and not included often enough in the conversation. While strengthening the glute muscles is great to help keep the outer hip solid, people often forget that there is a VERY LARGE section of muscle on the INSIDE of the hip and thigh. Bring on the adductors!Read More
A question I receive fairly often from people starting a new program is, “Why am I doing ‘x’ exercise?” Or, sometimes I’ll hear comments like, “Wow, this program looks a lot different!” Now, if it’s not a program I wrote, but was written by the one and only Nick Rosencutter, I’ll usually just give my default explanation of: he is crazy and wants you to suffer. If, on the other hand, I wrote the program, I will give them my rationale behind why I have them doing…oh I don’t know…hanging single-leg lateral calf raises with a chain for time.
Okay, so maybe it doesn’t get that crazy. However, statements and questions like the two mentioned are valid, and the exercises and sets and reps you are performing do deserve justification and should have meaning behind them. That is an article for a different time.Read More
It’s the start of a new year and that means one thing is for sure – everyone is making New Year’s resolutions or goals they’d like to achieve this coming year. Oh sure, you may not write them down or tell them to anyone, but you know you still have them. That thought about how you’d like to eat a little less sugar, or how you should really not watch as much T.V. and maybe read a little more. Or how you should be more productive at your job or spend more time with your family, and the list goes on. Maybe you’re the type of person who wrote them down or shared them with someone. In either case, awesome! I am all for having goals and things you would like to achieve, and what a better time than a fresh calendar year. I even wrote a few down myself.
Now, if you’re reading this and you can honestly say you don’t have any goals (yet) or areas of your life you would like to improve, I highly suggest you take a few minutes and think of just a few ways you would like to improve yourself in the coming weeks, months, and year. And not just fitness or health goals. Think of ways you would like to improve your relationships, how to be more productive with your time, or maybe some career goals.
Whatever area of your life you select to focus on improving, here are a couple tips that will make it a little easier and break things down into more manageable steps.
Don’t just set outcome goals, set process goals.
I’ll give you an example:
Outcome goal: I want to lose 60lbs. this year
Process goal: I will eat vegetables with two meals per day and exercise for one hour, three times per week.
Now, this is a simple example, and it is nothing earth-shattering that no one has ever said before; however, it is something that many of us forget about when it comes to goal-setting or making resolutions. Don’t only think about the big number/goal/achievement! Consider the small steps it takes to get there!
If your goal is to lose body fat and you say you want to lose sixty pounds this year, that may be overwhelming. Instead, if you say, I am going to eat more vegetables and exercise a few times per week (things that will encourage fat loss), the goal seems more attainable.
Or you may break down that goal another way:
Sixty pounds in one year is five pounds per month, which is just a little over one pound per week. That doesn’t sound so bad! Now, if you are consistent with your previous two process goals and focus on one pound per week, all of a sudden your lofty goal of sixty doesn’t seem so far out there.
Set S.M.A.R.T goals.
Setting SMART goals is an awesome way to organize your goal setting and give it a little more structure and definition. I’ll break it down by letter and give an example of each.
One of the most important keys in setting a goal or resolution is to make sure that your goal is not left open-ended, but has an exact definition, so that you and anyone else you may tell knows exactly what you are wanting to achieve
Non-specific: I want to exercise more
Specific: I will go to the gym and strength train three times per week
Having a goal that is measurable is a great way for you to not only track the progress you are making, but also gives you the chance to look back when you’ve achieved it and see how far you have come. Things like calorie amounts, workouts per week, and specific weight loss numbers are measurable. Broad statements about things you would like to do are not.
Bad example: I want to lose weight
Good example: I will lose five pounds per month
This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be wrong. How many times have you known someone who has set a resolution or been determined to accomplish a new goal and a few weeks or months into it they stop and realize it’s too far out there? The purpose of an attainable goal is to make sure that it is actually something you have the potential to achieve! Yes, you want to challenge yourself. But don’t be unrealistic and set such a lofty goal you have no chance of completing it. Set a goal you can ACTUALLY ACHIEVE, not just impress others with.
Unattainable: If you work fifty hours per week and have three children and run a business on the side, it’s probably not realistic for your goal to be to weight train five days per week for two hours each and run three marathons this year.
Attainable: Take the same situation from above (and let’s say that you’re a go-getter): Weight train two-three days per week, and go for one run per week. If you’re being honest with yourself, that’s probably a little more realistic.
This one is fairly straightforward. Make it YOUR GOAL and relevant to you! Not your wife’s, not your boss, no one else’s. It is your goal, specific to you, and something you want to achieve. Sure, others may encourage you or help steer you. But if you yourself are not truly in it and don’t really feel like it, you have already mentally checked yourself out.
Not relevant: Your husband encourages you to start running a few days per week, even though you don’t like running and it makes your knees hurt. But, because he said it and he likes it, it is now your goal for the new year.
Relevant: You enjoy lifting weights and working with a coach. You make it your goal to go and lift two-three days each week.
Last, but certainly not least, is time. You need to put a time-frame on your goal. If you simply say, I want to lose weight, or, I want to eat better, you are leaving your goal extremely open-ended. You give yourself no date by which it must be completed, and therefore you having nothing pushing you and motivating you. On the other hand, if you are wanting to lose weight so you can fit into your wedding dress, there is a specific date that lets you know exactly when you must complete it by.
Putting it all together.
Now that we have broken down each step into pieces, let’s put it all back together with an example.
Outcome goal: I want to lose sixty pounds by January 1st, 2020.
Process goals to help get me there:
- I will exercise three-four days per week for a minimum of one hour
- I will eat vegetables with at least two meals per day
- I will lose, on average, five pounds per month/one-two pounds per week
- I will cut out “x” food that I constantly overeat on calories (chips, ice cream, pizza, etc.)
- I will write down these goals and put it somewhere I can see it every day and be reminded of it
- I will tell one or two close friends that will help keep me accountable and encourage me
Outcome goal: I want to exercise three days per week for the next three months
Process goals to help get me there:
- Set specific workout times that you know you can make happen
- On Monday’s during my one hour lunch break, I will go down to the fitness center and lift instead of sit on my phone and scroll social media.
- When I get home from work on Wednesday’s I will use those twenty pound dumbbells I have sitting in my basement that haven’t been touched in years to do a full body workout.
- On Saturday afternoon’s my friend and I will go to the YMCA and work out together and do some swimming for conditioning work.
- I will block these time periods off in my schedule so that nothing may take the place of them.
- I will write down my workouts so that I can see my progress and improvement, which will help encourage me to continue.
- I will write down these goals and put it somewhere I can see it every day and be reminded of it
- I will tell one or two close friends that will help keep me accountable and encourage me
So, whether you have made New Year’s resolutions or you simply have goals you would like to accomplish, put these principles into practice and see what they can do for you!
Check out Nick’s latest article on DrJohnRusin.com and learn how to develop specific muscle fiber types for your sport.
Give it a read HERE !
By Nick Rosencutter
Upper body training. Probably the most popular emphasis of training that you will see if you walk through most gyms throughout the country. Everybody loves pumping their biceps and building their chests up. If you are lucky, you might even find someone who enjoys chiseling out their upper back. While working the upper body might be a very common thing to come across, very few people actually understand how to train it correctly. This is because very few people understand the anatomy and biomechanics of the activities that occur up top. (and if these things were understood even a little bit, those lovely things below the belt called legs would never be neglected).
So, when we look at gym goers who do hit their upper halves a few times a week, we can generally put people into a few different groups.
Group 1- The Bench and Curl All Day Every Day Group. These people love working the muscles that they see in the mirror and do many variations of pressing and curls with some extra delt and tricep work thrown in for good measure here and there. Neglecting the opposing muscles in the back leads to problems down the road and they are left with imbalances and shoulder issues.
Group 2- The Train with some Push-Pull Balance Group. These people at least understand the importance of balancing out pushing and pulling exercises and try to do some kind of pulling exercise to provide some balance to whatever pushing/pressing exercise they might be doing.
Group 3- The Shoulder Mechanics Involve More than 2 Motions Group. These are those in the know that understand the anatomy and mechanics of the shoulder and train movement and muscle around their upper bodies with some decent anatomically balanced precision; often leading to less shoulder issues and better looking and better performing postures.
Digging into this a little deeper, while group 1 is way off of the map, group 2 at least has SOME realization about balancing out the anatomy. So what is it that they are missing that Group 3 is not? That my friends, is the question that we shall answer with the rest of this article.
To understand how to properly train, we must first look at the anatomy and mechanics. I’m going to keep this straight forward and basic so this doesn’t turn into a textbook lesson. The first thing we need to look at is the scapula (known as your shoulder blade in street talk) and the motions it is capable of. The scapula lays on the back of your rib cage and has connections with your clavicle (collar bone) and humerus (arm bone). When we talk about “push pull balance,” we are generally talking about protraction and retraction of the scapulae (although many people don’t get quality protraction even with their pushing), flexion/extension, and on some occasions, internal/external rotation of the glenohumeral joint (what most think of as the shoulder joint) .
While having some balance here is great, we also need to factor in the multiple other possible actions of the scap and gh joint. The scap can also elevate, depress, rotate upward, rotate downward and tilt forward and backward. The gh joint also internally and externally rotates, adducts and abducts. There are certain muscles that help to perform all of these actions. Anytime we move our arm, whether that be forward and backward, out to our sides or overhead and back down, our scapula, gh joint and our thoracic spine all need to move with a certain harmony amongst each other. When one of these is off, the other(s) must compensate in order to create further motion. Most commonly, the scapula stops moving or moves abnormally and the humeral head (top of the arm bone) glides either upward or forward to compensate, leading to impingement. Simply pushing and pulling neglects many of these actions, although if we are talking pushing and pulling both horizontally and vertically we are at least getting closer to the prize.
Moving overhead involves multiple pieces, including flexion of the glenohumeral joint, upward rotation of the scapulae and extension of the thoracic spine
Pulling with good protraction of the scapulae and pushing with good protraction of the scapulae
Internal and External Rotation of the shoulder joint (in this instance while the scapulae are in a bit of retraction)
When we look at the most common pushing exercises that are performed, the bench press is definitely towards the top of the list. When we look at pulling exercises, a row variation is towards the top of the list as well. When done correctly, the row will work the rhomboids, mid traps and low traps, the main muscles that pull the scapulae into retraction (they pull your shoulder blades together). When done correctly, the bench press will work your pecs, anterior deltoids and triceps with the actual motion of the press; however, a correct set up involves pulling the shoulder blades together (retraction, as we learned a couple of sentences ago, which also utilizes the rhomboids). When we do too much pressing like this, without any protraction of the scapulae and pair it with straight rowing exercises, we end up getting what we call anterior glide of the humerus, where the top of your humerus (arm bone) moves towards the front of your shoulder joint, creating impingement. This occurs because when the scapulae fails to protract sufficiently during a push motion, the humeral head compensates by moving forward in the shoulder socket excessively (anterior glide); this ends up happening if we never train scapular protraction with our pushing movements. (Similarly, if our scapulae stop upwardly rotating when we move overhead, the humeral head tends to glide UP in the socket, causing impingement at the top of the joint)
To add further complication, when we add in any kind of shrugging exercise which involves elevation of the scapulae, the rhomboids are under pressure even more since they also assist with elevating the scapulae. Throw in some pulldowns or pullups, which involves downward rotation of the scapulae, which also activates the………guess what?………the rhomboids! So while at first glance, you might think that many people would need lots of rowing and pullups to balance out all of their pushing, you can now see that its not so black and white. When you add in the fact that any kind of pressing exercise and any kind of vertical pulling exercise also involve internal rotation of the shoulder joint, we can start to see some patterns occurring. Pecs, lats and deltoids often become overactive, pulling the shoudler joint into internal rotation and, along with the rhomboids becoming overactive, limiting protraction and upward rotation of the scapulae. While many of these people do have overactive rhomboids, many of them do still need to “open up” their shoulders. So how do we do this without creating further complications?
We need to balance out the types of pushing exercises we do, being sure to include exercises that allow us to get protraction and/or upward rotation of our scapulae
We need to train upward rotation of our scapulae and external rotation of our shoulder joints and/or do this ALONG with retraction.
Some people might be excessively depressed and some excessively elevated. This must also be factored into any programming.
Balancing out our pushing exercises
Rather than just bench pressing, incline bench pressing, decline bench pressing etc. we need to do some pushing that allows us to move our scaps freely. Landmine presses, cable pushes, overhead presses, and pushups are some great ones. These allow us to get either quality protraction or upward rotation, or some combination of the two. Ensuring that our scapula is able to move effectively in these pathways will better allow our humeral head to stay centered in the glenoid fossa (shoulder socket), preventing impingement and keeping our shoulders healthier.
Training our scapulae to upwardly rotate and stimulating the external rotators of our shoulder to help counteract all of the internal rotation going on are essential. Beyond that, we need to train some retraction without the rhomboids taking over. Y variations and basic external rotation variations are great ways to take care of the first two. Face Pull variations are a great way to conquer our third mission here. With a face pull, our scapula is in a position of upward rotation as we pull towards our head. Since rhomboids are also downward rotators of the scapulae, this takes them out of the movement to a certain extent and allows our mid and low traps to do more with the retraction of the exercise. So we have retraction with good recruitment of the mid and low traps in a position of scapular upward rotation, which is great. Add in the fact that we also get some external rotation at the shoulder joint as we pull, and you have a phenomenal exercise that can really do a lot to help balance out all of the issues that we talked about earlier. Both double and single arm variations work well here depending on the situation and person at hand. If there is side to side imbalance going on (one scap is positioned or moves differently than the other) then it is usually best to start with single arm face pulls.
If somebody is excessively elevated in their shoulder girdle, it is important to be sure that they do not shrug up as they perform these pulling exercises as this will add to the tension that they most likely feel quite often through their necks and shoulders. Performing a high to low face pull might also be a good idea to encourage some depression of the shoulder girdle as you pull. Being sure to keep the shoulders down and back on most pushing and pulling exercises is important here as well.
If somebody is excessively depressed, we need to get their shoulder girdle back up to a respectable level to allow optimal movement and to provide better support for the neck. These people often feel like their neck is “tight,” since its always being pulled on and stretched with the scapulae sitting lower than they should be. Factoring in the possibility of rhomboids being overactive from our earlier examples, we need to train elevation without overworking them more. Enter the Y shrug. This exercise allows us to engage the upper traps to help pull the scapulae up without adding fire to the rhomboids and levator scapulae, while also encouraging positive upward rotation of the scapulae via the lower traps, upper traps and serratus anterior muscles. Check it out above.
While I could go on all day about more factors that could possibly be considered in our shoulder puzzle and this is by no means an exhaustive list, these tips can and should go a long way in helping you to achieve a better balance around your joint; not to mention they should also help improve your lifts and your physique if those are goals of yours. After all, you can’t have a full road map on your back without hitting all of the muscles that are part of it.
In case you didn’t watch this video earlier, check it out now. We go through a lot of the anatomy considerations mentioned in the article and it should help put some of the things mentioned earlier together for you.
RUFP members competed at the 2016 WI State Fair Open and won Overall Best Lifter, the Female Division, the Teen 18-19 year old division, and Men’s Open 181-220 Division; and placed 3rd in the Mens Open 180 and Under Division. Check out the compilation video below to see the lifts. Great Job Everyone!
When it comes to skeletal muscle, our bodies contain different types of muscle fibers. Generally speaking, there are slow twitch and fast twitch fibers. Slow twitch are more geared towards endurance and low force activities like a marathon run while fast twitch are more geared towards fast, high powered, high force and shorter duration activities like a sprint. Different muscles throughout the body will generally be composed of more of one than the other. Furthermore, different people will genetically have more of one than the other.
While fast twitch can technically be divided to multiple different subsets, the two main subsets agreed upon by most are type a and b; with type a known as fast twitch oxidative. Fast twitch oxidative fibers have some good potential for good force and power output while still having the capability to assist with endurance activities. Through specific training, we can manipulate them to develop their oxidative potential to a certain extent. (or manipulate them the other way if that is the goal). By developing this oxidative potential in the weight room, these fibers can benefit an endurance athlete to a greater extent outside of the weight room. In addition to this, while most endurance athletes seem to grasp the concept that slow twitch fibers are utilized heavily with their runs or their bike rides, many don’t realize that they can be developed and trained in the weight room. How do we do this? The answer is Tempo Lifting.
While there is more than one way to do this, I will discuss a method we have been using with a former elite long track speed skater now turned competitive cyclist. I took a lot of this specific programming idea from sports scientist legend Yuri Verkhoshansky and his “Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches” and adapted it how I needed to for the task at hand.
Using the Yoke Squat as our main exercise, we will do the following for the first and key part of the training session on one day in the current programming phase.
In 1 series, he’ll hit a set of 15 to 20 slow tempo squats (currently 3 seconds down and 3 seconds up) to tap into his slow twitch fibers and get some hypertrophy out of them, followed by a set of 20 to 25 explosive squats to tap into his fast twitch oxidative fibers in order to prepare his body for the pace changes that can occur in a race. This is done for 3 series in his current program. There is 90 seconds rest between sets and 3 to 4 minutes rest between each series (of 2 sets). The weight for the explosive set is lighter than the slow tempo set.
To hit the oxidative fibers, we need enough resistance to require the body to utilize the fast twitch fibers (need to tap into their larger motor neuron) but also enough time with that resistance to tap into the oxidative side of things. The multiple series of the high reps with enough resistance and the explosive nature of the reps is a recipe to make this happen. So within these series we accomplish a few good things that are race specific:
1. We get some slow twitch hypertrophy (muscle growth) to help with their resiliance during the course of the race
2. We get some fast twitch oxidative development to help the slow twitch fibers on their journey and to help with the turbo boosters that will be needed at various points of the race
3. We train our bodies and muscle fibers to be more resiliant, stronger and more adapative to the tempo, intensity and pace changes that will inevitably occur through different stages of an actual race.
He follows this up with prowler pushes used in a similar manner. Trip 1 is slower paced followed up immediately by Trip 2 at a sprint pace. This is done for 5 to 6 sets. This is then followed by different accessory exercises such as glute ham raises and static inverted row holds.
His other lifting day in the program is focused on max strength and speed strength, which are also very important to any endurance race enthusiast though also often overlooked. He then has multiple bike days where we will develop specific energy systems and their subsets depending on the stage we are in leading up to the race. We can cover more on these other qualities in another article.
The goals for this article are to make you aware that we can develop and train slow twitch and the oxidative capability of type a fast twitch fibers in the weight room to help performance in that next race. Check out the videos below of Liam hitting his squat sets.
Explosive/Fast Twitch Oxidative Squats
Are you getting the most out of your race performance? Train with a purpose!
Note: It is essential that you have a decent strength training base built up before diving into something like this. You should know how to squat with proper movement/form and should have a decent level of general strength built up. Also, Liam is an elite athlete and can handle the workload and volume discussed. Those at a lower training level might not need as much. This is where the individual coaching comes into play 🙂
Today, we have an article by our fantastic trainer and coach Brittney Wilinski about staying active and eating healthy while traveling. Great information for any of you traveling out there……….
Brit doing her thing on the beach
Recently, I went on vacation to St.Petersburg, Florida for a week… and let me tell you, the weather was much more beautiful and consistent there! Like myself, I am betting there are quite a few of you who will be traveling, even if it is a 3-day weekend vacation. It is definitely a time for relaxing, having fun with family and friends, and most likely splurging a little more on food and drinks. But what about all that hard work you’ve been putting in at the gym and all the time you’ve been slaving in the kitchen making healthy meals?!
News flash, you don’t have to completely ditch your workout and eating habits just because you are going on vacation! It really is pretty easy to stick to your normal routine for the most part. While I was gone for a week in Florida, I stayed in a condo and was able to go to the grocery store and buy food for the week that I could cook or prepare easily. Some of the main foods I grabbed were: eggs, turkey, chicken, a bunch of veggies, Greek yogurt, fruit, granola, and salsa and guacamole (I love eating my veggies with both of these!). Even when we did go out for lunch or dinner I would try to order something that was more towards the healthier side and stayed away from deep fried, super greasy foods. One day I got a Jerk Chicken sandwich but ditched the bun and put it on a bed of lettuce… it was amazing! Don’t be afraid to ask your servers ‘weird’ or ‘picky’ questions, it really pays off because many times restaurants are very flexible, so you get a healthier meal and they get a better tip 😉 Win, Win!
Eating healthier is one goal to stick to, but there is also the working out and being active part! One thing that I tried to do every single day was walk on the beach. Again this is a win, win situation: I got to enjoy the warm Florida weather and amazing view, while also getting the benefit of being active. Another way to enjoy my vacation while also getting some exercise in was by walking to shops or stores, swimming in the pool or ocean, and playing volleyball or fun pool games that required me to move around a lot.
When I wasn’t outside enjoying myself, I was in the condo doing a quick bodyweight circuit to start my day off! Here is what my circuit consisted of:
1a. Suitcase Goblet Squats 3-4×12
1b. Pushups 3-4×15-20 60s. rest
2a. One leg hip thrust 3-4×10
2b. Suitcase rows 3-4×12 60s. rest
3a. Step-ups 3×12/leg
3b. Suitcase offset carries 3x 45s. rest
4a. Planks 3×6 w/10 sec. hold
4b. Double Leg Lowering 3x 30s. rest
5. Bent over ITY’s 3×15 30s. rest
I used my carry-on suitcase and loaded it up with a computer, book, and some full water bottles for my squats and one-arm rows. You could also do bodyweight squats and add a pause to make it more challenging. For the offset carries I used a larger suitcase that had some shoes in it and added my computer and book to make it slightly heavier. In our room there was a bench and chair; I used the bench for my hip thrusts and the chair for my step-ups. If a bench isn’t available, you can do glute bridges (double leg/single leg/march) from the floor and add a few more reps. To add weight to your ITY’s you could use water bottles or soup cans, or just body weight with more reps. If you are doing body weight or very light weight, you are still getting a great metabolic effect by doing more reps with less rest time.
As you can see, it really isn’t that hard to stay somewhat on track while you are out enjoying yourself on vacation. The main thing is to plan ahead of time what you will do for workouts and figure out where the nearest grocery store is. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to check out some restaurants’ menus to see which ones have healthier food options especially if you are going on a road trip!
Travel workouts can be some of the best and most fun workouts you will have. Be creative and spontaneous and you can get some awesome training in while you are away!