Over many decades there has been a prevailing misconception in strength & conditioning circles that regular flexibility training, or stretching, when included in strength & conditioning programs will help:
1. Minimise, or even prevent, the delayed onset of muscle soreness that often follows strength & conditioning sessions.
2. Aid in the prevention of many of the commonly occurring soft tissue injuries experienced in sporting activities.
Extensive research and experience in this field, gathered over more than thirty years by this commentator has revealed that these misconceptions are exactly that, misconceptions.
There are however mitigating factors which contribute significantly to this being the case, and that flexibility & mobility principles could in fact be utilised to greater effect when the following ideals are sought with increased purpose.
1. Many athletes, whether professionally dedicated to a specific sport, or those who are involved for only personal performance reasons, do not commit to their stretching requirements as is necessary to produce improvements, displaying no perceivable signs of effort. More purpose and application are essential.
2. This is quite possibly due to the fact that flexibility & mobility increases do not show up as readily as do increases in strength and conditioning practices. It is not uncommon to see "athletes" stretch half-heartedly, while staring off into space, and completing stretching activities in 5 to 10 minutes.
3. The overall ineffectiveness of many of the currently employed flexibility delivery techniques, those that have mistakenly existed to achieve the desired/perceived level of injury prevention.
The view in this commentary, following on from 3 above, is that when flexibility programs are designed, even in this modern era of Exercise Physiology, Sports Science and Biomechanics, the specific application techniques, and actual moves chosen are one-size-fits-all, and may therefore be functionally inadequate. Just as functional strength & conditioning concepts differ from one sport/activity to another, and depending on physical and biomechanical intensity needs, so too do these principles apply to flexibility & mobility training.
The foremost consideration when programming flexibility & mobility schedules trainers/programmers should consider, are the loads exerted on athletes when they are performing their sports/activities. That is to say, soft tissue injuries occur under load in the execution of that sport/activity, not when athletes are passively standing, preparing to compete, or waiting to again be involved in play. Which is the most usually applied current stretching scenario. In no circumstance are athletes viewed completing flexibility/mobility moves whilst in training and under loads of any kind.
Therefore, it is pointless applying the common, every day, unloaded stretching techniques to athletes whose soft tissue injuries occur in situations where severe loads are produced. Consequently, exercise trainers/programmers should apply loaded flexibility/mobility moves using tri-planar, multi-dimensionally exerted loading concepts & techniques. (BODII-Advantage Through Adaptation III-Consolidating BODII concepts & techniques).
TODAY I AM A PENSIONER!
TODAY I AM A PENSIONER!! Yep, 66 years old today. I’ve included a very recent pic (taken yesterday) in this post, but one which is not in my usual conservative style (Sorry about serious face!). And the purpose? Over the 30+ years I have spent as a PT, I have literally been bombarded by countless offers and recommendations from other trainers and poorly informed and unqualified individuals to use this protein powder or that vitamin and mineral supplement. This to ensure I get the training results I desired. Results which I most certainly would NOT achieve unless I partook in these mind-blowingly wondrous and superiorly nutritious products. Well I have news, based on my experience, and more importantly, intimate understanding of what is, and is not real in popular mainstream strength and fitness practices, I am able to achieve my own personal strength & fitness training goals without the use of these heavily marketed and profit driven nutritional imposters. All my results have been based around and upon clean, whole, fresh balanced and sustainable nutritional principles. No pre-workout protein (Shish!!) and no post-workout protein!! All aimed at getting you to use more product of course. Question: Did you know that in the early days of protein powder availability, the main protein used was the superior quality egg protein (albumin), but that whey protein became the protein of choice, not because it is more effective, but because it was/is cheaper to manufacture? Tip: Research the real science, not the manufacturer’s hype. Yep, plenty of fresh fruit (yes, fruit) and vegetables, a full range of lean, complete protein sources (just the right balance, as the body will only convert any excess into glucose/glycogen anyway!) And of course carbs, yep about 55% of diet is complex carbs (bread, rice potatoes and pasta). No Musashi, no Swisse, Not Anything. If you want to lose weight, eat LESS, MOVE more, and don't kid yourself, it's entirely about being DISCIPLINED. If you want to gain muscle, keep your macro and micro-nutrients in balance, then train your heart out. And to complement either objective, drink more water!! So the lessons? Don’t be fooled, don’t get sucked into the hype because “everyone” is doing it, and most certainly, don’t waste your money!!
THE THREE BALL INCLINE PUSH-UP.
The final presentation offered today is another variation to the versatile push-up. However, in this version there is a very strong need to incorporate continuing adaptations to instability with core, upper body and wrist strength inclusions.
For those of you who have followed Bodii, and the numerous principles offered in this and previous series and blogs, you will understand that I am a firm believer in also placing all aspects of posture under as much progressive loads as is imaginably possible, and to then complete movements which seemingly have very little to do with initial positioning and exercise purpose.
To sum up this set of exercise movements (and by definition, Bodii), I cannot stress enough how important and integral core strength is to all manner of positions, both static and dynamic, and how totally synonymous a loaded posture is with sound strength & fitness applications and desired outcomes.
THE BODII TWO BALL BOUNCE.
Hello and welcome to the second last exercise I want to present in this special series of Bodii training innovations. The purpose of each exercise offered, has been firstly for a bit of fun, and secondly to show what can be achieved with some "out-of-the-box" thinking. The exercises you have seen over the past weeks exhibit many of the concepts and techniques already included and expanded upon in previous blogs on this site.
The two ball bounce in particular is a very good example of required inclusion and intensity as described in the "Phases of Engagement" Blog. Very deep core and posture, where participants are able to both initiate required impact/load, and also maintain strong exercise form/balance as fatiguing impact/loads are applied. A very necessary component to all competitive contact sports. It must of course be firstly acknowledged that it is the core which is the key player in these impact/load distribution activities, and that in fact, it is the core where the impact/contact loads are most directly absorbed. Thereby making it vital to all athletic pursuits for core strength & stability training to go to ultimate levels.
It's that time of the week again to share with you another Bodii "gem". This exercise has three points of included instability, and a highly adapted set of skills to be able to be performed successfully. I have been asked, over the developmental stages of these programs, why is it necessary to be able to perform such complex movements. My reply is always the same, it is about the acquisition of multi-dimensional functionality, and while adaptations to exercises as complex as the one demonstrated here are unlikely to be required in normal day-to-day activities, everyone has those times when situations are outside the norm, and so it is necessary to prepare beyond expected functional limits. Furthermore, functional adaptations are as diverse as the number of available lifestyle choices. For elite athletes, the physical requirements are greatly more intense, and therefore strength & fitness training must go to the nth degree to prepare athletes for what difficult/impossible scenarios may present. And if you have followed Bodii to any extent at all, you will understand that the core, and how it's associated systems cope with progressions of increasing instability and load is paramount to success.
THREE BALL PUSH-UP VARIATION.
Today we have quite an interesting variation to the much "loved" push-up. It has three points of instability, and just as the standard push-up has strong core involvement, this version has twice that need. When viewed realistically, the push-up is merely a more inclusive progression of the plank/hover. It should be noted at this point, that the exercises presented in this series are not necessarily offered as options for readers/viewers to perform, but more as general information as to what innovative lengths certain standards can be taken, and how core training needs to challenge participants beyond existing one-dimensional comfort levels.
Clearly, prior to attempting this move on the two forward placed/upper body medicine balls, this movement should be perfected to the stable floor/ground position. While as a dedicated strength & fitness enthusiast I enjoy and embrace a strong "willingness to fail", safety and natural progression/adaptation is uppermost in all my training concepts and techniques. For that reason, if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to make contact. I am always happy to discuss ideas that I put forward, and which I have now been practicing for almost a decade.
This week we will look at the Calf Raise/Hamstrings Stretch. A multi-faceted exercise, which once you have studied the Bodii system, you will come to understand as a complex movement, where it’s vital inclusions and progressions are quite possibly the most important in the entire Bodii range, especially in terms of its applications to modern sporting adaptations, and their resultant benefits.
There are various ways to mount the forward ball, and many ball size variations and combinations. In the demonstrated video I have chosen to jump onto the 25cm medicine-ball. Once settled into this position, which has two points of specific instability (and here I remind readers/viewers that ALL Bodii exercises have at least one point of instability) the basic Calf Raise action is completed. However, and this is critical to the exercise and its dominant purpose, it is the eccentric contraction which has greatest importance. Why is this the case? Because in the traditional approach to strength movements, it is the concentric contraction which gains most attention. In Bodii, the principle objective is not to gain mass per se, but to gain functional strength, through elongated range, with total inclusion of the participant’s core strength/stability centres, and also with full regard for individual ability to maintain sound postural considerations. In this exercise, and consequently all it’s variations and progressions, it is entirely about the posterior chain, from Achilles to Cervical curve, and the very important effect this unified system has on the potential of exercise and sport specific strength training adaptations to alleviate and manage many on-going sporting injury dilemmas.
Hello again, this week we have the second instalment in this series of some moderate to advanced Bodii exercises. Although, it could quite rightly be considered that the entire range of innovative Bodii exercises fit this description, we we will look at the Three-Ball Lift and Dip/Two Leg Mountain Climber combination.
This is an exercise which requires significant core strength/stability, and as a result, heightened body awareness and balance. A close look at exercise execution will reveal an acute focus on each of the four Bodii vital inclusions. It should be noted that the demonstrated movements are a result of increasing lower levels progressions. While many “experts” will consider the examples presented in this series to be non-functional “tricks”, I remind everyone that functionality is relative, and that true strength & fitness training extends beyond a participant’s perceived functional limits. The presented exercise has very strong implications in the area of sporting proprioceptive/neuromuscular adaptations.
THE MEDICINE BALL 360+ ROLL.
Over the next couple of months, I will highlight a number of Bodii exercise videos which I think/hope you find interesting. They each take time for adaptation, exercise understanding and performance confidence. I would be very happy to get your feedback, and any constructive criticism you might want to offer.
Leading us off is a very cool exercise that will test your capacity for core engagement strength, and core co-contraction endurance. Position is initially assumed between the lumbar curve/mid back or lower abdomen/base of the sternum. Thereafter, small rotations are activated, until participant position arrives at the alternate 180 degree starting position. Rotation process is continued until a full 360 has been completed up to the original starting point. Further 360 turns follow until multiple reps have been performed. Can be done on fitballs of reducing sizes as introductory lower level progressions. Co-ordination of leg positions are also critical to exercise success.
Do you ever wonder where local, or for that matter, worldwide strength & fitness trends are taking us? Does genuine innovation truly exist? And when it presents, is it recognised and embraced? Or do we still prefer the convenient options, and cling to old standards? As a long-time dedicated Fitness Professional, one who has lived the “Fitness Industry” and seen trends come and go, and then come again, these are the burning questions confronting us today. Of some of the recently recognised advancements, most have turned out to be passing fads ("Slide" training for example), and in many instances are a "re-jigging" of what has been tried before. The mountain climber’s exercise is one of these. Once upon a time, during the "fitness revolution" of the late 1970's early 1980's, they were known as single-leg treads. Even today's "HIIT" classes, are simply a re-branding of the common gym run circuit classes of the same era. Whilst alarmingly, many of the most inspiring, relevant and beneficial strength, fitness and range/motion techniques like Yoga and Pilates, are even now not included within the context of everyday gym programming, even though they have been employed with overwhelming success for a great number of years, and as such remain on the periphery of accepted mainstream practices.
Similarly, the Bodii system has been forged on alternative strength & fitness training principles, which deliberately oppose the traditional obsessions with support and stability, so as to better deliver unique strength, fitness, balance and range/motion outcomes. Cutting edge training advancements focused on graduated “progressive adaptations”, which are derived from strategic applications of load, based around thoughtful adjustments to the participant’s posture and position, through constant variations to included instability. Not, as is the case in traditional strength training, where the singular determinant to improvement is increases in applied weight. Often ill-considered increases at that. And as logic will tell you, eventually something has to give, and injuries will and do occur.
Modern strength training attitudes can only compound this very serious issue. A compulsion to lift more and more resistance, and to "smash-out" PBs has become the manic norm. A movement which has developed around the so-called "big three" power lifts of bench press, squats and deadlifts, that have now become the in-thing. A tendency, this presenter believes, brought about by a decided lack of innovation in an industry crying out for something genuinely new, but which at the same time is somewhat sceptical that anything new is even possible. After all, as a huge percentage of naïve fitness professionals would have you believe, most likely because they believe it themselves, what else can possibly be out there waiting to be discovered? Unfortunately, the old adage of “you don’t know, what you don’t know” is very much in play in this situation.
The ascendancy of the “big-three” lifts is in reality a "bit odd", as even in traditional circles, powerlifting itself was once upon a time on the periphery of standard practice, and was only followed by a select group of strength, 1RM fanatics. A group which often included dominant personalities, who over the years, have acquired higher profiles, enabling them to exert some influence over the direction strength & fitness would follow. And is not a focus necessarily based on sound industry progression and practice. Consequently, this about face is quite possibly the reason why the power lifts gained their impetus towards industry saturation. All recognised commercial strength training facilities will currently have an area devoted to the 3 lifts, amongst other popular current movements (sled push, box jumps) and are most often referred to as the “Functional Training Zone”.
Lifts labelled as "functional", a conclusion based on the effects they are reputed to have on the core and balance/stability outcomes, but which on closer scrutiny simply don't stack-up. As indicated in the immediately preceding blog on this site entitled “Core Strength & the Phases of Engagement”, the core can be subjected to differing levels of inclusion/activation, which in turn elicit varying outcome possibilities. Therefore, just because the core is in acquired mode, as it is at a minimum in each and every move we make, doesn’t mean that it is going through a strengthening process, and that the core is gaining real strength benefits. This can be likened to sitting down to a meal, where just because I am using my upper body muscles to cut up the food and deliver it to my mouth, doesn’t mean these upper body muscles are actually increasing in strength. They are in “acquired” mode. A situation which is identical to the role the core plays in the so-called big 3 lifts. Furthermore, the degrees of functionality can be best assessed by diligently employing the following criteria:
So, let’s now examine each of the lifts themselves: