If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I am all about training the basic movement patterns that we use all day long:  Squatting, Pushing, and Pulling.  You want a fairly equal amount of each movement, and if your routine lacks any of these movements, you’re going to start seeing some major imbalances in your muscular system.

As you begin to make progress in your program, and start using heavier and heavier weights, it is extremely important to devote a little bit of time each workout to strengthening your smaller, stabilizing muscles around your joints.  In regards to the upper body, this is especially true for throwing athletes, as well as anyone in a racquet sport.  Maintaining strong stabilizing muscles around the elbow and shoulder is crucial to getting the most out of your training program as well as to stay healthy in your sport.  But strong stabilizing muscles aren’t just important for athletes.  Anyone who regularly does strength training should hit their stabilizing muscles. Today, I’d like to talk about the stabilizing muscles of the shoulder, specially the rotator cuff muscles.

Note: The exercises below are meant to be “pre-habilitation” exercises, to be done during the course of a normal resistance training program.  These exercises are to be done ONLY when your shoulder is presumably healthy.  If you already feel like you may have a shoulder injury, these exercises COULD exacerbate the problem so it is always best to check with your physician or physical therapist before trying these exercises, or any exercises you find on the internet for that matter.  

What is this mysterious “rotator cuff,” and where is it, and what does it do?

The term “rotator cuff” gets tossed around a lot in the world of sports.  Any time a baseball pitcher or football quarterback go down with a shoulder injury, everyone’s first worry is that it’s the rotator cuff.  The rotator cuff is actually a group of 4 muscles that surround the shoulder joint.  The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for assisting the abduction (moving away from the body) and rotation of the arm, and they are also responsible for providing stability to the shoulder joint, holding the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) into the shoulder socket.

The 4 muscles that make up the rotator cuff are the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis.  The infraspinatus and teres minor both externally rotate the arm, while the subscapularis internally rotates the arm and the supraspinatus abducts the arm.

How can I strengthen my rotator cuff muscles?

Since the goal of rotator cuff training is to produce a functional, healthy, structurally sound shoulder, it is important to develop all 4 muscles of the rotator cuff equally.  We have 3 movements that we must do to target the rotator cuff muscles: internal and external rotation of the arm and abduction of the arm.  For simplicity and because the infraspinatus and teres minor both externally rotate the arm, the two will be trained together.

Internal Rotation (video courtesy of Liveexercise.com):

External Rotation:

The 10 Commandments of Training and Coaching

The following is a list of the 10 most important commandments for a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, or strength and conditioning coach to follow everyday.   Follow these commandments and you will find yourself becoming the coach or trainer you want to become.  They are in order starting with the most important:

  I.     Thou shall do no harm- Without a doubt, “Do not harm” is the most important commandment you will see on this list.  Your #1 priority and responsibility as a trainer or coach is to ensure your clients’ safety while they work with you.  Your client comes to you and trusts you to keep them safe while they’re with you, and it is your duty to live up to that trust.  If a client gets injured under your direction, YOU are at fault.  It’s not the client’s fault.   So from exercise selection to spotting technique, always focus on safety first and foremost.

 II.     Thou shall reduce the risk of injury- This may sound like another way to phrase commandment #1, but in fact it takes it a step further. While “Do No Harm” refers to your clients’ safety while they’re with you, Commandment #2 refers to their risk of injury outside of the gym.  Whether you’re training elite athletes, middle-aged professionals, or senior citizens, your first performance-related goal is to reduce their risk of injury outside of the gym, whether it’s on the playing field, at work, or around the house.  There’s no such thing as injury prevention, but we can certainly reduce their risk of injury by improving mobility and stability throughout the body.

 III.     Thou shall motivate your clients- Motivate. Inspire. Connect. Pump Up.  However you want to say it…as the trainer or coach YOU set the energy for the session.  If you’re dragging your feet through the workout, what do you think your client is going to do?  There are hundreds and probably thousands of qualified trainers all around you who would love to take on your clientele.  Give your clients a reason to keep coming to you. 

 IV.     Thou shall be attentive- Martin Rooney of Training For Warriors always says “Your most important client is the person you’re working with RIGHT NOW.” And he’s 100% correct.  When somebody is paying you X amount of dollars for a half hour or an hour of your time, there is NOBODY more important to you during that hour.  Give them 100% of your attention and energy and they will keep coming back.

 V.     Thou shall make progress- It may seem odd that this one is all the way down at #5.  Most trainers and coaches who are first starting out would put this one at #1, but the more you work with people, the more you realize that you must have the first 4 in order to get to #5.  An injured client doesn’t improve.  They don’t get stronger, they don’t lose body fat, they don’t improve their quality of life, and they definitely don’t improve their performance on the field.  The same can be said for an unmotivated client.  So you can see why Commandments 1-4 have to precede #5.  This is the reason we all got into this business-to make people better.

 VI.     Educate thyself- Whether you have a degree in an exercise-related field, or you have every certification on the planet, your learning process is NEVER over.  The best coaches and trainers in the world are the ones who are life-long learners.  It’s impossible to know enough in this ever-changing field.  Make a point to read/study/watch something with new information for 20 minutes everyday.  You’ll be shocked to see how much you learn in a week, a month, and a year.

 VII.     Thou shall be a professional- Connecting with and inspiring your clients is critically important to your success as a coach, but it’s equally as important to find the fine line of being a mentor and being a buddy.  This is especially true when working with young people.  Joking around is fine, but keeping the conversation professional is an absolute must and it’s your duty to set a good example for your clients.  There’s a time to chat, and there’s a time to get down to work.  It’s very important to know when and how to flip that switch.

VIII.     Shou shall be on time- This is an extension of Commandment #7, but I’ve seen this be an issue so many times in the past I thought it deserved special mention.  As a trainer, you must ALWAYS be on time and in fact you should arrive at least 15 minutes before your client does.  When your client is walking into the gym, you want to be ready for them, not running around setting things up.  Get to the gym early, write up your programs and get the gym set up so that as soon as your client walks in, you’re ready to go.

 IX.     Thou shall workout thyself (getting sick of these “thou and thy’s yet?)- It’s probably surprising to many to see this so far down on the list as well.  Keeping yourself in good shape is an important part of your day.  Along with getting your clients better and improving your abilities as a coach (through experience and education) it is important to keep yourself in good condition.  Since coaching and learning take up the majority of your day, find a way to squeeze in some good tough workouts in a short period of time everyday. 

 X.     Thou shall take care of thyself- To go along with acting professional and working out on your own, it’s important to take care of yourself in other ways as well.  You should always look presentable.  That doesn’t mean you need a shirt and tie to coach, but you should always be clean shaven, showered, etc.  You should also always be standing up straight, in your “ready to go” stance.  No slumped shoulders, no leaning on equipment, etc.  Your clients will pick up on EVERYTHING you do—from the tone of your voice to the way you stand, and therefore everything you do must convey positive, exciting energy.

 There you have it.  Follow these commandments and you will instantly see the difference in how your clients approach their sessions and what you both get out of it.

 Adam Reeder

Dumbbells

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday, I touched on the topic of testosterone and how it relates to muscle growth in response to resistance training.  I then provided reasoning as to why women should not fear the possibility of “getting too big” from resistance training: Women naturally have anywhere from 10 to 20 times LESS testosterone than men, and this is going to act as a big time limiting factor as far as muscle growth is concerned.

I’m sure my ever-compelling reasoning convinced you that you should NOT fear the weight room, but just because it’s not going to hurt you, is it really going to help?

There are two major reasons that women should seriously consider adding resistance training to their current (or future) workout routine:

1) Bone Health-  The incidence of osteoporosis is growing at alarming rate.  The International Osteoporosis Foundation finds that well over 10 million Americans have osteoporosis, and approximately 85% of those people are women.  It’s believed that that figure could be as large as 15 million people by the year 2020.  According to “Resistance Training for Health,” published by the American College of Sports Medicine, “Osteoporosis is a degenerative disease that is characterized by a decrease in bone mineral density (BMD). This loss makes the bones more susceptible to fractures. These fractures can lead to decreased physical activity and possibly increased susceptibility to further health problems and mortality.”

Bone health should take on the up most importance to all of us, but with such a high incidence in the female population, women must be especially pro-active in slowing the onset of osteoporosis.

Resistance training, it has been shown, is one of the most effective ways to combat bone density issues such as osteoporosis.  Several studies have shown that the stress placed on the bones and joints during resistance training promotes bone repair and formation.  For example: “In a comparison of BMD between female weightlifters, cyclists, cross-country skiers, and orienteers, Heinonen et al. (1993) reported that the weightlifters had the highest weight adjusted BMD in the distal radius, lumbar spine, distal femur, and patella.”

There is reason to believe that the stress placed on the body due to lifting weights promotes greater bone health than doing cardio alone.

2) Body Composition- This is the one most people are already thinking about before they even think about an exercise routine: I want to lose fat, tone up, look and feel better.  When people say they want to “tone up” what they mean is that they want get leaner by reducing their body fat.  To do this, many women take the route of doing as much cardio as possible.  They will get on the elliptical or treadmill for extended periods of time and then head home without ever touching a weight.

Let me first say this- there is nothing wrong with doing cardio.  It’s great for your heart health, and you are burning calories.

However, you are really taking a long and often unsuccessful route if you want look your best.  There are a few things to understand here.  First, if you perform resistance training, you are promoting the development of lean muscle tissue.  Muscle is a very tight and compact tissue when compared to fat, which is much “flabbier.”  In fact, if you had one pound of muscle sitting next to one pound of fat, the fat would take up about 3 times as much space.  Now imagine that we’re talking about around your mid-section or your hips.  If you can replace a pound of fat with a pound of muscle in that area, you’re going to look noticeably more lean.  In order to develop that mean muscle, however, you CAN’T just run until you’re blue in the face.  You have to overload, or really challenge the muscle to elicit the response of muscle development, and that just doesn’t happen when you’re doing long-duration, steady-state cardio.

The next thing to consider is that muscle actually burns calories!  If you increase the amount of lean muscle on your body, you will burn more calories throughout your day without even lifting a finger.  Compared to fat, muscle is a very active tissue and requires more energy to maintain.  A greater energy requirement means a greater caloric burn throughout the day.

There are many other obvious benefits to strength training that are not gender-specific, such as improving strength, improving posture, etc.  But the two reasons listed above should be reason enough for any woman reading to at least consider adding some resistance training to their exercise program.  Read On….

Check back soon for some great new exercise videos, and be sure to check out the brand new Functional Athletic Training Store!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
Facebook
Twitter

I cannot not even estimate how many times I’ve heard some form of the phrase “I don’t want to lift weights because I don’t want to bulk up,” from females who are either interested in starting an exercise program, or who have an exercise program but aren’t liking the results they’re seeing.  So is it true?  Are you really going to bulk up when you do resistance training?  Girls this article is for you, and I’d like to take some time today to explain why you shouldn’t worry about “getting too big.”  Tomorrow I will give you some incredibly important reasons to use resistance training in your work outs.

If I could give you a one word reason as to why women will not bulk up like guys do it would be: Testosterone

What is testosterone? 
Testosterone is  hormone that promotes muscle growth.   The brain sends a signal for testosterone to get released from the testes (men) or the ovaries (females).  When this happens, the released testosterone travels through the blood stream and into the surrounding tissues, including the muscles.  When the testosterone reaches the muscles it has an “anabolic” or muscle-building effect.  Without getting too scientific about it, your testosterone levels have a very direct effect on the growth of your muscles.

Resistance Training and Testosterone:
One of the reasons that people associate working out in the gym with muscle growth is that resistance training causes an increase in testosterone levels, which in turn leads to the aforementioned anabolic effect on the body’s muscles.  According to The National Strength and Conditioning Association’s (NSCA) Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, men experienced a significant rise in blood-testosterone concentrations following a high-intensity resistance training bout.  NSCA also found that the heavier the resistance, the more testosterone produced.  After 2+ years of resistance training with very heavy weights, men saw a noticeable change in their testosterone levels.

Why women shouldn’t be afraid use resistance training:
The next time you walk into your local health club or rec center, take notice of where all the women are at.  For the most part, you’re going to see a lot of women doing cardio and a lot of women doing some kind of mat exercises like abdominal work or stretching.  There will be some exceptions of course, but you will see only a very small percentage of women in the weight room.  One common reason for this is what I referenced earlier, a fear of getting bulky when their goal is to lose weight and lose inches.  The reason women SHOULD NOT worry about this:  According to Bill Kreamer in Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning, women have about 15 to 20 times less testosterone than men.  15 to 20 times LESS testosterone is a HUGE difference.  If you are also careful to keep your sets in a normal 8-12 rep range, you will ensure that resistance training does not greatly spike your testosterone levels.

That’s all for tonight.  Check back tomorrow as I will give you some important reasons to start doing resistance training as soon as possible if you want to reach your goals.

Thanks for reading!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
Facebook
Twitter

Coffee

Image via Wikipedia

There is a very common belief that coffee, or more specifically the caffeine that coffee contains, is bad for your health.  From cardiovascular risks to stunted growth, people have a lot of ideas about how caffeine is harmful.  Today, I’d like to address these ideas, as well as show you some potential benefits that you can gain from consuming caffeine responsibly.

First of all, here are some common beliefs related to caffeine:

#1: Caffeine is addictive.  Most experts do not consider caffeine to be addictive.  If you abruptly stop taking caffeine, there is a good chance you will experience some withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, but these tend to only last for a day or two.

#2: Caffeine keeps up you up at night.  This one can be true, but if you consume caffeine properly, there’s no reason it should have any effect on your sleep schedule.  Caffeine typically leaves your body relatively quickly, within about 7 hours after consumption.  This means that as long as you’re not consuming caffeine late in the evening or at night, you should be fine.

#3: Caffeine causes adverse side effects to your cardiovascular or bone health.  Again, this one CAN be true, but as long as you consume caffeine responsibly, you’re not at any greater risk.  As long as you limit your caffeine intake to about 300 mg per day (about 3 cups of coffee), studies indicate that you’re not at any greater risk for osteoporosis, high cholesterol, increased heart rate, or cardiovascular disease.

So now that we’ve cleared up a few common misconceptions about caffeine, let’s take a look at it’s potential benefits.  The most obvious benefit of caffeine consumption is an increase in your energy levels.  Here’s some other interesting things to note, from WebMD.com:

1)  “A growing body of research shows that coffee drinkers, compared to nondrinkers, are:

  • less likely to have type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia
  • have fewer cases of certain cancers, heart rhythm problems, and strokes

‘There is certainly much more good news than bad news, in terms of coffee and health,’ says Frank Hu, MD, MPH, PhD, nutrition and epidemiology professor at the Harvard School of Public Health.”

2) “In a study of about 130,000 Kaiser Permanente health plan members, people who reported drinking 1-3 cups of coffee per day were 20% less likely to be hospitalized for abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias) than nondrinkers, regardless of other risk factors.

And, for women, coffee may mean a lower risk of stroke.

In 2009, a study of 83,700 nurses enrolled in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study showed a 20% lower risk of stroke in those who reported drinking two or more cups of coffee daily compared to women who drank less coffee or none at all. That pattern held regardless of whether the women had high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, and type 2 diabetes.”

3)  Caffeine has also been shown to improve anaerobic performance (strength training)!

So while I will stop well short of telling you to drink a pot of coffee everyday to keep the doctor away, it is clear that caffeine’s negative effects are largely blown out of proportion.  Consume caffeine responsibly, and you can potentially lower your risk of several diseases, improve your strength, and of course, increase your energy.

That’s all for now!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com

In my last two posts, I’ve talked about training the core.  First, I explained what core stability means and showed you a video of one of the most basic yet effective core stability exercises: the forearm plank.  In the next post, I went over the difference between static stability and dynamic stability and how this can have an enormous effect on sports and life in general.  I also showed you this video of a core reaction exercise:

You might be asking yourself: What makes this an exercise for the core?

That’s a good question, and the answer(s) to that question is the basis for my entire integrated dynamic core training system.

First of all, look at the direction that the resistance is going:

It’s a little bit hard to read, but essentially the resistant force from the band is pulling diagonally down and to the left (in this picture) while the triceps are only exerting a vertical force, directly overhead.  Since the band is not only pulling in vertical plane, but also (and in this instance to a greater degree) in a horizontal one, there must be some stabilization involved, and any time the resistance is placed above the waist, this stabilization is going to come from the core.  Conversely, a typical overhead triceps extension as shown below does not have a diagonal component to it.  The resistance from the weight pulls directly down with gravity, while the triceps exert a force directly overhead:

(Image from fitnessanddefense.com)

Without the diagonal component, this exercise involves very minimal core stabilization.

In addition to this diagonal force vector that actively engages the core, the use of the band also creates VARIABLE resistance.  As the band is stretched, the amount of resistance goes up, and is at it’s peak at the final stage of the exercise.  This means that when the arms are completely extended overhead, the abs must engage the strongest in order to keep the spine in a neutral position.  It’s this variable resistance that creates the DYNAMIC nature of the exercise– a resistance that constantly changes through the range of motion.

That’s all for now.  Let me know what you think of these exercises as I continue to post them!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
Functional Athletic Training– Facebook
Follow us @TrainFunctional on Twitter

Yesterday, I explained the core muscles’ general responsibility to stabilize the spine in all directions. I then showed you one of the most basic core stabilization exercises, the forearm plank.

By all means, you can improve your core strength by a great deal by performing forearm planks.  However, there is a way to take your core training to a whole new level, and the results are not only rock hard abs, but an improved posture, enhanced athletic performance, and a reduced risk of injury.  The first thing you must understand in order to develop a dynamic core is what the phrase “dynamic core” actually means.  In this case, the word dynamic refers to the ability of the core to react to varying levels of force at any given time.  Take for example a football lineman.  When a defensive tackle rushes for the quarterback, he gets usually gets blocked by an offensive lineman:

The defensive player’s core muscles, more than any other muscles in his body, must react EXTREMELY quickly to the offensive player hitting him.  His muscles do not have time to contract in a slow and controlled motion like you see in a sit-up or crunch.  The core musculature must react in a flash to whatever varying degree of force is placed on them.  For this reason, traditional abdominal exercises such as sit-ups or crunches are extremely ineffective at developing a sports-specfic core.

So, if you can’t use crunches or sit-ups or other traditional ab exercises, what can you do to make your core reactive and dynamic?

The perfect solution to this problem: Resistance bands.

As a band gets stretched, it’s resistance gets progressively harder.  This is different from almost all other types of resistance, such as free weights, body weights, machines, etc.  By using a band as resistance, we are altering the force placed on the body based on how far the band is stretched.  Lately, I have been experimenting with a TON of different exercises that use bands to get the core dynamically reacting to the resistance placed on it. There are a few things I love about these exercises:

-They’re all extremely sport-specific

-They’re performed standing, which is specific to sports and life in general

-They allow for strengthening of other areas of the body while strengthening the core

Here is the first video in the “Developing a Dynamic Core” series- Let me know what you think!

Rectus abdominis muscle

Image via Wikipedia

I have talked about training the abdominals before and how inefficient it is to do crunch after crunch and sit-up after sit-up in order to strengthen the abdominal region.  For more information on functional ab training, check out my blog post.

Today, I want to go a little bit further into what’s called core stability.  Core stability refers to the ability of your core musculature (abdominals, obliques, spinal erectors, etc.) to keep your spine in a neutral position.    Essentially, your core acts as a shock-absorber, reacting by tensing up whenever impact or force is applied above the waist.  Your abdominal musculature is largely responsible for preventing the spine from bending backwards, while the postural and erector muscles of the back prevent the spine from bending forwards and the oblique muscles prevent lateral movement.  This is incredibly important not only for sports, but to improve everyday quality of life.

One of the most basic yet most effective exercises used to train core stability is the forearm plank.  In the video below you will see two versions of the forearm plank.  The first is a beginner’s level plank, followed by a small adjustment that makes the exercise much more challenging for the core:

The plank is a fantastic exercise, but you can’t stop there if you want to fully develop rock hard abs and a functional, dynamic core.  Try the planks out, and build your strength up to the point where you can perform the beginner’s level plank for 1-2 minutes before progressing to the advanced version of the plank.

Tomorrow, I will go one step further in Developing A Dynamic Core by showing you a basic chest press exercise modified to really target the abdominal region of the core.

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
Like Functional Athletic Training on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter @TrainFunctional

As  all of my clients and regular readers know, I am a huge fan of exercises that involve multiple muscle groups.  If you’re a new reader, here’s why these multi-joint movements are so effective:

-Almost all sport-related and everyday activities involve more than one muscle group.  We rarely find true isolation of specific muscles outside of the weight room.  Multi-joint exercises are much more functional to sports and life.

-Mutli-joint movements force your body to work harder than isolation exercises.  This means that you’re going to kick up your heart rate and respiratory rate, so you’re improving your cardiovascular fitness at the same time that you’re improving your muscular fitness.

-For reasons mentioned above, a multi-joint exercise is going to elicit a much greater metabolic effect on the body that exercises that require less energy.  For instance, a chin-up, which requires movement in both the elbow joint and the shoulder joint as well stabilization throughout the core region, is going to have a much greater metabolic effect than a bicep curl, which only requires movement in the elbow joint.  This means you’ll burn more calories in a shorter period of time.

With all this in mind, one of my all-time favorite free weight exercises is the Zercher Squat:

Zerchers are a great exercise.  The exercise is clearly targeting the legs, hips and glutes, and by coming all the way down to at least a parallel position in your knees, your quadriceps go through a very long range of motion.  This is great for explosion in sports as well as overall leg strength. In addition to targeting the legs, Zerchers also require a great deal of work to be done by the core stabilizing muslces as well many stabilizing muscles in the upper, middle, and lower back.

With pre-season hockey training really heating up, I’m always looking for good single-leg exercises due to hockey being a very single-leg dominated sport.  My athletes do a lot of lateral movement, single-leg squats, and many variations of lunges.  One great single-leg exercise is the stationary split squat:

Once this exercise becomes easy, a common progression would be to move from the stationary split squat to a reverse lunge.  The reverse lunge on it’s own is a good exercise, but as soon as I put myself into a Zercher position on the bar, the reverse lunge got that much better:

A few things to note:

-My back stays completely vertical, perpendicular to the ground.  With the weight in my elbows pulling me forward, my core muscles were forced to tighten up in order to keep my back straight.

-My shoulder blades stay pulled together in my back, this challenges the stabilizing muscles of my upper back.

-I’m creating an active stretch in the leg that is stepping back while greatly challenging my single-leg strength.

Give this exercise a try.  I suggest mastering the stationary split squat before moving into any type of lunge, and you should also master Zercher Squats before you try adding a dynamic movement to the exercise.

Have a great day!

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com

Here in Cleveland, Ohio, we are running out of nice days.  Soon the temperature is going to drop and the snow is going to start falling.  As such, you’re not going to be able to get many (if any) outdoor workouts.  That’s why I wanted to post this video.  I’m asking everyone who reads this blog to get outside this weekend and do some physical activity!  It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, just do something- go for a run, take the dog for a long walk, or…you could do what I did:

Head up to a local playground, and experiment with some functional movements.  Playgrounds are filled with hidden ways to do tons of basic and advanced movements.  If nothing else, this can break up the monotony of going to the gym everyday.

In the video below you’ll find a full-body workout.  There’s a warm-up, two three-exercise circuits and a core finisher.  Each circuit should be performed with very minimal rest from exercise to exercise, and a one-minute rest between sets.  Perform 3 sets of each circuit before moving on.

1) Active Warm-Up: 2 minutes
-Band Assisted Split Squats- 10 on each leg
-Band Assisted Split Jumps- 10 on each leg
-“Trunk chops”- 8 in each direction (this exercise is great to get the core and the hips activated and working together before you start)

2) Circuit #1: 2-3 minutes
-Plyometric Jumps: I just found the most reasonable step height among the “stairs” of the playground. Perform 10 Reps.
-Atomic Push-Ups: Who needs an expensive suspension system when you have a good ole swing? Perform 10 Reps.
-Monkey Bar Pull-Ups: These monkey bars proved to be a perfect width and grip to really hit the lat muscles of my back. Perform 10 Reps.

3) Circuit #2: 3-4 minutes
-Elevated, Band-Resisted Split Squats: This is a great single-leg exercise that allows for tons of Range of Motion (ROM) and is great for improving the End Range of Motion (EROM) strength for the “down” leg, while also actively stretching the “up” leg. Perform 10 reps on each leg.
-Body Weight Dips: This was the toughest exercise to figure out, because this particular playground didn’t have the traditional monkey bars.  I ended up just finding a set of “stairs” that had a few parallel bars and it ended up working well, allowing for solid depth. Perform 10 reps.
-Band Rows/Step Backs: I finished this circuit with a pulling motion using the band.  Perform 10 pulls with feet stationary, and 5 to each side while performing a step-back.

4) Core Finisher: 3-4 minutes
-Swing-Ups- I went into this workout with absolutely no plan until I got to the park.  When I examined the park and noticed the height of the swing, I immediately thought it would be a great tool to get some core work.  For the “Swing-Ups,” I went into an elevated pillar position with my feet on the swing and my shoulders directly over my hands.  I held this pillar for 5-10 seconds, and then proceeded to contract my abs, lifting my hips into the air into a “mid-pike” type position.  I prefer this to a full pike position because there is an increased emphasis on holding the abdominal contraction when you stop before bringing your hips all the way over your head.  Once in the “mid-pike” position, hold for 5-10 seconds, repeat 5 times.  Perform the core finisher 3 times with a 30 second break between sets.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know how I feel about the “I don’t have enough time to workout excuse.”  Well, after this you can also add “I can’t pay for a gym membership right now,” to the list of invalid excuses to avoid physical activity.  Folks, for a FRACTION of the cost of a gym membership, you can purchase the only thing you need for a total body workout just like this one: a resistance band. If you’re interested in purchasing a band like you’re about to see, send me an email: Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com

So again, get outside, enjoy the nice weather, and get a great functional workout!

Until next time,

Adam Reeder, cPT
Adam@GetFunctionalTraining.com
@TrainFunctional