Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Great Content from Men's Fitness

So the February issue of Men's Fitness has a couple of exercises in it that you might want to give a try.  The first is a T-Push-up.  to perform the exercise, you do a regular push-up, but at the top of the movement, you raise one arm off the floor, rotate the body and perform a side or "T" plank.  In the article, they demonstrate it with one hand on a medicine ball, and both feet firmly on the floor.  Alternatively, you can do these without the medicine ball, and, as you transition into the plank, roll one foot up onto the other in a stacked position to place greater emphasis on the core muscles.

If you do choose to use the medicine ball as shown in the article, be sure to remember these three points that they do not mention:

  1. For greater stability, use a ball that is not full of air and rolling all over the place underneath you.  (Unless you really want to spend 6 weeks with your favorite physical therapist repairing your rotator cuff.)
  2. Rotate your body at the hips and in the thoracic (upper) spine, not in the lumbar (lower) spine.  The lumbar spine was not designed for rotation rotation under tension, and should be exercised from a stability standpoint, not a rotational one.  (For further reading on this, check out Stuart McGill's Low Back Disorders or Ultimate Back Fitness and Performance.)
  3. Perform the same number of repetitions on each side of the body!!  I know this may seem obvious, but I thought they should have at least mentioned it in the article.

The second exercise that they recommend is a squat assistance exercise called the Box Squat that has been used by powerlifters for years to help them increase their squats.  One of the objectives behind it is to train the oft under utilized glutes and hamstrings to fire during the regular squat.

Because most of us in our culture are quad dominant when it comes to our motor patterns, the glutes and hamstrings often need "encouragement" to fire at the right times.  The idea is that by sitting down onto a box at the bottom of the squat, you momentarily deactivate the quads (as well as other front side assisting muscles), when you then go to push back up, your glutes and hamstrings will jump in to do their fair share.

The key point that was not mentioned in the article is that, when you go to stand back up, be sure to keep your weight back and through your heels.  Do not lean forward, placing the weight on the balls of your feet, as this will counteract the benefit of the sit-down, throwing the pressure right back on your quads.

The author of this second article was Jason Ferruggia.  Jason does a lot of writing for Elite FTS, as well as creating his own information products.  He also writes a great blog, full of quality, well-researched information.

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