I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Joe Heiler for his website, www.sportsrehabexpert.com.
To listen to the interview CLICK HERE.
April 29, 2013 2 Comments
Foam rolling has become a popular modality used both in warm ups and as a method to assist in recovery from hard training. Little is known about how foam rolling works but the main goal and reason for its use is to decrease muscular tension and improve range of motion, similar to the way in which massage is often used.
A recent study in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research by MacDonald and colleagues aimed to understand the effects of an acute bout of foam rolling on knee joint range of motion and muscular force.
The subjects, 11 healthy recreational resistance training males (ages 18-25) participated in the study and were asked to report to the lab on four different occasions, separated by 24-48hrs of rest, each occasion focusing on either baseline measurements or a foam rolling intervention.
- Test Day 1 – A Range of Motion (ROM) assessment was followed by 2min of rest and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post rest
- Test Day 2 – Muscle force production was measured using maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and evoked muscle activation and was followed by 2min of rest and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post rest
- Test Day 3 – A Range of Motion (ROM) assessment followed by 2min of foam rolling and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post foam rolling
- Test Day 4 – Muscle force production was measured using maximal voluntary contraction (MVC) and evoked muscle activation and was followed by 2min of foam rolling and then the assessment was taken again at 2min and 10min post foam rolling
All test conditions were preceded by a 5min bike warm up.
Foam Rolling Protocol
Foam rolling was performed on a foam roller constructed from hollow PVC pipe surrounded by a neoprene foam of 1cm thickness. The subjects were taught to roll their quadriceps from origin to insertion for 1min. They then rested for 30sec and then rolled for another minute – 2minutes of total foam rolling.
Some Key Findings
- Foam rolling did not produce significant differences in either voluntary or evoked muscular force output
- Acute foam rolling significantly increased knee flexion ROM at both 2 and 10min post foam rolling
The increase in joint ROM is a promising finding of this study as improving joint mobility is often a goal of warming up for activity/training. Additionally, athletes who lack joint ROM in certain areas may find foam rolling to be a beneficial modality to help assist with limitations. While most associate foam rolling with relaxation its application has been used significantly in warm ups over the past several years and if often followed with some form of stretching activity or mobility activity where the muscles are taken through a range of motion, held of a second or two, and then brought back to their starting position, this sequence repeating for several repetitions. As I discussed in a blog article 3 years ago, Stretching As A Part of the Warm Up: Can We Make It Work?, when these two modalities are followed by a more active/dynamic warm up that prepares the nervous system there does not seem to be the performance decrement that most research notes when stretching is immediately followed by a test of maximal power.
Interestingly there was not a decrease in force output of the muscle, as one would assume that foam rolling would cause a greater amount of relaxation in the tissue similar to the findings of other massage research (Wiktorsson-Moller, et al). McKechnie, et al. did find a similar result – improved ankle joint ROM without a decrease in power output – using a 3 minute massage treatment of either Petrissage or Tapotement to the calf musculature.
I do wonder if some of this has to do with the fact that in massage research the subjects are at the mercy of the therapist and the therapist can adjust their touch and depth of pressure to “meet the subject’s nervous system where it is at” rather than trying to force things and go too deep, too fast, and hoping that this produces the results they would like. Perhaps the density of the foam roller in this study was too hard or maybe the subjects leaned too aggressively into the foam roller and really pushed, as many do with the “no pain, no gain” approach that is often taken with foam rolling? Or perhaps there is just something about human touch that allows for more relaxation, comfort, and an ease of tension? Additionally, time may be an issue when it comes to decreasing muscular force, as indicated in Wiktorsson-Moller et al’s study which used a 7-15min massage protocol administered by a therapist and showed a decrease in quadriceps isometric force and hamstring isokinetic force. Additionally, Crane et al have shown that longer periods of time on one area (10min on the quadriceps alone) produced a positive influence on inflammation following an intense bout of exercise (HERE is my write up of that paper from last year).
The time piece is a critical element, in my opinion, as everyone adapts at different rates and their nervous systems ability to adapt may be related to a variety of factors – fitness level, stress, perception, nutrition/hydration, etc – which is why I find it odd that some therapists will perform a few passes on a muscle and expect things to be normalized in 2min. I believe that to be truly comprehensive you need to take a holistic approach, think big picture, and consider how you want to influence more than just a few muscles within a treatment session. So, perhaps the subjects in the study just needed more time in order to see a favorable result in terms of decreased muscle force output?
This was an interesting study and shows some promise that foam rolling may have something beneficial to offer besides the anecdotal praises that it currently enjoys. We still don’t know how it exactly works, what it exactly does, and we don’t know all of the things that rolling your muscles on a piece of PVC may actually influence within the body. Regardless, it seems to do something and if that something improves a client’s ability to perform or feel better and does not have negative effects on health then I am all in!
April 16, 2013 5 Comments
I have talked about my Physiological Buffer Zone concept a few times (in THIS article about movement capacity, in THIS article regarding stress and allostasis, and in my lecture during the Strength in Motion Seminar).
The concept is centered around three components of performance:
- Stress and Stress Resistance
- Movement Competency
- Fitness Level (both general and specific)
A recent study by Lisman and colleagues published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise (Functional Movement Screen and Aerobic Fitness Predict Injuries in Military Training) looked at two components of the Physiological Buffer Zone – Movement Competency and Fitness Level – to help understand the association between injury risk, fitness level, exercise and injury history, and Functional Movement Screen (FMS) scores in Marine Recruits.
Marine Corps Officer Candidates, ages 20-25, who were enrolled in either the six (n = 447) or ten (n = 427) week candidate training program. While both programs consist of similar training activities due to the shorter time frame the six week training program is considered to be the more intensive of the two.
The standardized Marine Corps Physical Fitness Test consists of (performed in this order):
- Pull ups to exhaustion
- Abdominal crunches completed in 2min
- 3 mile run for time
The seven test FMS was used to understand the candidates baseline movement competency:
- Overhead Squat
- Hurdle Step
- Inline Lunge
- Shoulder Mobility
- Active Straight Leg Raise
- Trunk Stability Push Up
- Rotary Stability
Each test is scored on a 0-3 scale. A “0″ is scored if the individual experiences pain during a movement. A “1″ is scored if the athlete is unable complete the movement properly. A score of a “2″ is awarded if the subject can complete the movement but has some level of compensation and a “3″ is scored if the subject performs the movement correctly without any compensation. The highest possible score an athlete can achieve is a “21″, which would be a “3″ on all seven tests.
Finally, a questionnaire was administered to the subjects to understand their previous injury history as well as their prior exercise routines (modalities and frequency) prior to entering candidate training school.
Some of the Key Findings
- Slower 3-mile run times (>/= 20.5min) indicated a higher risk of injury
- Lower FMS scores (</= 14) indicated a higher risk for injury
- The pull up test and abdominal crunch test were not significantly associated with injury risk
- Subjects where at a higher risk of injury if they reported a prior lower limb injury
- A lower general exercise frequency, as reported via the questionnaire, was associated with a higher risk of injury
Some Words on FMS Scoring
Kiesel and colleagues (2007) found that NFL athletes were 12 times more likely to suffer an injury when their scores were </= 14 compared to those who scored >14. Thus, it would appear that the cut off point on the FMS is a 14. However, Gray Cook and Lee Burton (two of the developers of the FMS) have stated that the number may not be as important as obtaining a score of symmetrical “2′s” on each of the 7 tests. Two of the FMS tests (Overhead Squat and Trunk Stability Push up) are performed bilaterally while the other 5 tests (Hurdle Step, Inline Lunge, Shoulder Mobility, Active Straight Leg Raise, and Rotary Stability) are performed in a unilateral fashion and the lower score between the two sides is factored into the overall score. An individual with movement asymmetry is often at a higher risk of injury (Note: The human body is inherently asymmetrical and several sports may have asymmetrical tendencies. That being said, there is a rather larger range of what a two can look like on the FMS tests allowing us to have some individual asymmetry but still have relatively symmetrical movement competency. In other words, it is very hard to score a “3″ and it is very hard to score a “1″ but it should not be that hard to score a “2″ if you have some basic levels of both mobility and stability). Therefore, an athlete may be able to score a “14″ by obtaining a “3″ on the trunk stability push up and a “1″ on one of the asymmetrical tests but this may still place that at a higher risk of injury. So, the goal should actually be to obtain at least a 14 with no asymmetries.
I think this study was a good first step at trying to understand the association between fitness and movement competency. When FMS scores were low (</= 14) and when 3-mile run times were slow (>/= 20.5min) the subjects were 4 times more likely to sustain an injury. These findings were similar to an earlier study by O’Connor and colleagues (2011) who also evaluated the FMS and fitness level as a model of injury prediction in officer candidates and found that those with a score of </= 14 were at higher risk of injury compared with those who scored >14 and that those with better physical fitness scores were significantly less likely to suffer injury compared to those who had poorer fitness scores.
Interestingly the pull up test and the abdominal crunch test were not associated with a higher risk of injury. I wonder how much this may have to do with the type of activity that the subjects participate in during officer candidate school? Obviously they use their upper body to do pull ups, push ups, and lift/carry things but the lower extremity seems to take the most punishment during this time period as the candidates would appear to always be running or on their feet (standing, lifting, or carrying things).
Together, some sort of fitness screen and some sort of movement screen appears to offer us, as fitness professionals and strength coaches, some valuable information to help not only understand our athletes but also program appropriately for them. A lower fitness score would indicate that our training program needs to focus more on general fitness and aerobic capacity. One of the difficult things about officer candidate school may be that there really isn’t time to develop an individual’s level of fitness. Everyone is supposed to show up fit, in shape, and ready to face whatever is thrown at them from a fitness standpoint. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case, as evident by the fact that having a lower level of fitness and a lower frequency of general exercise training prior to officer candidate school led to a higher risk of injury. Essentially, the individual shows up unprepared to handle the stress that is placed upon them and they “break”.
Additionally, the FMS is not just a screen used to assess movement competency but it can also be used to influence program design and exercise selection. If you know what tests the individual is poor at or asymmetrical in and you understand the corrective exercise hierarchy (I talked a little bit about this in an article 3yrs ago on Developmental Kinesiology and Client Assessment and I encourage anyone interested in learning more about the FMS and the corrective hierarchy to attend one of the courses put on by Functional Movement Systems) then you can begin to develop a specific training program that not only meets that athlete’s needs but can also be re-tested and monitored to ensure you are moving in the right direction. Kiesel and colleagues (2009) found that a 7-week offseason training program, individualized for each athlete based on their FMS scores, improved the FMS scores of 62 NFL athletes with 41 of them being free from asymmetry at the end of the 7-weeks compared to 31 at the start of the study. Oftentimes people see the FMS and think it is a reason to be soft or not train hard. The FMS can tell you what not to do but it also can tell you what you can do and when you find things that the person can do you should be attacking those those things, loading them, and training hard while you concurrently improve upon their limitations (always keeping in mind that you must come back and re-test to ensure that you are improving the test and moving in the right direction).
When assessing individuals it is important to be holistic and take into account all aspects of the Physiological Buffer Zone. One part of the Physiological Buffer Zone is not more important than any other and I think, as professionals, we all have our biases towards subject areas we feel most comfortable – “I’m a movement guy” or “Fitness is the most important thing! Movement isn’t as important as getting guys fit” or “Strength is more important than anything. Just get them stronger and everything will be better.”
Rather than staying in our comfort zone (based on our previous experiences, education, etc) we should try and open up and be more aware of all things that may impact an athlete’s ability to appropriately adapt and tolerate the stresses that we, as coaches, apply to them in training (that stress resistance piece of the Physiological Buffer Zone is a really big piece and you can read more about it in my article on Allostasis and Physical Preparation).
Furthermore, the testing should in some way influence our training program. Don’t just test to test or do an FMS (or any other movement screen) just to say that you do it. Use these tests to provide you with information about the individual and then take that information and put together a program that reflects that individual’s needs and abilities. From their, the tests serve as a means of re-assessing to understand if your program is doing what you intend it to do or if you need to make some adjustments.
April 8, 2013 2 Comments
The basic premise of the system that is taught by the Postural Restoration Institute is that the body is asymmetrical and, in order to optimize human function, we need to try and restore as much symmetry needed in order to have balanced reciprocal function (while appreciating the asymmetries of the body and acknowledging that we will not change them). Basically, we have a liver on the right side, the crural attachments on the right lumbar vertebrae are thicker than on the left, the right lung has three lobes while the left lung has two, etc (we can go on and on with these sorts of asymmetries), thus we tend to orient ourselves over the right leg which places us in a pattern of right mid stance, referred to as a Left AIC.
The main pattern discussed and the backbone of their system is the Left AIC (short for Anterior Interior Chain). The Anterior Interior Chain is a chain of muscles which connect the torso to the knee and consists of the diaphragm, psoas, iliacus, TFL, vastus lateralis, and biceps femoris. We have two AICs in the body, one on both sides, however the Left AIC tends to be more dysfunctional than the right. Additionally, individuals may find themselves in other patterns but underneath those patterns is always a Left AIC due to the natural asymmetry of the human body as discussed above.
In this Left AIC pattern the main findings include things such as:
- Anterior pelvic rotation on the left
- Increased hamstring length, tension, and tone on the left
- Pelvis rotated to the right side
- Right ischial tuberosity sitting lower than the left
- Left femoral head is not received as well by the acetabulum as the right is
- Right side is more in a position of adduction, internal rotation, and extension
- Left side is more in a position of abduction, external rotation, and flexion
- Decreased trunk rotation to the right side
- Decreased right apical expansion and left diaphragm opposition
- Increased left rib flare (poor left zone of apposition)
- Decreased left mediastinum expansion
All of these things are actually “normal” and are due to the natural asymmetry we all posses; however, some people – with proper training – can control this position better than others and thus perform at a higher level. Other individuals may not control this position well and end up compensating in such a way that they themselves in a position of PEC – short for posterior exterior chain – where they exhibit many of the things above on both sides, bilaterally.
The Posterior Exterior Chain consists of our latissimus dorsi, QL, Posterior Intercostals, Serratus Posterior, and Ilicostalis Lumborum.
Being in a PEC position is characterized by attributes such as:
- Stiff looking gait mechanics
- Bilateral hyperlordosis
- Both hips in a position of flexion, external rotation, and abduction (people tend to walk with their toes out)
- Butt gripping (tight gluteus maximus bilaterally)
- Flat and stiff thoracic spine
- Bilateral compression of the SI-joints
- Sagital plane dominant individuals who have lost optimal function in the frontal and transverse planes
- Pelvic floor in a descended position, bilaterally, causing the muscles of the pelvic outlet to be stiff and inflexible leading to issues with constipation
- Poor zone of apposition bilaterally
- In a state of hyperinflation, lacking the ability to exhale and allow the diaphragm to dome up
Goal of PRI
The goal is to use a battery of tests to determine what sort of position the individual is in and then what type of control they actually have. To do this, the Postural Restoration Institute has a number of tests – some are tests of position while others are tests of function – to help understand the person in front of you and make informed decisions about exercise prescription. To take it a step further, the tests are also used, in an algorithmic sort of way, to differentiate between individuals displaying one of these patterns versus individuals displaying one of these patterns but considered to be “pathological” and displaying a certain amount of ligament laxity – referred to as a Patho Left AIC or Patho PEC. This information further drives exercise choices as those that are pathological may need a different set of exercises or exercise regression to ensure they are performing the movements in the right position and feeling the correct muscles working.
PRI can get extensive with the exercises as they have over 100 in their catalog although there are a few exercises that would be considered “big money” exercises for each of the possible patterns one may be in. If you understand the patterns and use the testing approach effectively you will understand which structures/muscles you are looking to facilitate and which you are looking to inhibit and can pretty much use any permutation of the “big money” exercises as long as they achieve the intended goal and improve the testing when you go to re-test, which should be done frequently to know if what you are doing is working and if you are helping re-position the individual.
Similarities with other Approaches
Whether it is PRI or any other system (DNS, FMS/SFMA, Janda, Osteopathic approaches, etc) there should be some similarities in the message as all of the systems are dealing with the human body. It is the similarities between all these things that I care the most about because it helps me see the big picture and be aware of more things when I look at an individual.
One thing PRI does is go heavy into the anatomy of the body with regard to how muscles function and they do a good job of differentiating between which attachments are moving and which are stable. For example, we can have femoral acetabular rotation (a femur rotating on a pelvis) and we can have acetabular femoral rotation (a pelvis rotating over a femur). This is similar to the idea of punctum fixum and punctum mobile in the DNS methodology. While some may consider looking at things like this as being a bit excessive, I truly believe that understanding these concepts can be extremely helpful to understanding function and programming exercise.
PRI has a large focus on breathing and talks extensively about the “zone of apposition” (ZOA) – the aspect of the diaphragm that apposes the chest wall. The ZOA is influenced by the position of the rib cage. When the rib cage is flared upward, ribs in external rotation, the ZOA is not in a position to function and allow for proper diaphragmatic breathing. In DNS this same position is referred to as on “open scissor position” where the rib cage is angled upward and the pelvis is angled downward (anteriorly tilted), causing increased erector spinae tone and a lengthened abdominal wall which posses a high amount of tension. Individuals with an inefficient ZOA or the open scissor tend to be more upper chest breathers, stuck in a hyperinflated position, and recruit the neck musculature (SCM, Scalenes, Levator, Upper Trap) to assist with respiration.
I see a bit of an Osteopathic influence in the PRI system which is cool because I have read a lot of Osteopathic texts. The whole approach to re-positioning the pelvis in PRI is similar to self Muscle Energy Techniques where the individual is using muscular force to drive the pelvis into a certain position (which is great because you don’t have to put your hands on the person for these techniques to be useful and can allow the client to feel empowered by performing the activities on their own). The interesting thing is that the common pattern in PRI, the Left AIC, is opposite that of the common pattern in Wolf Schamberger’s text, The Malalignment Syndrome, which states that everything is happening on the right side (right pelvis in anterior rotation rather than the left) and this is similar to some of the other Osteopathic things I have read in the past. The instructor gave some answers as to why this is and in the end it comes down to a visualization thing as most of the other approaches were looking at anatomical landmarks with the person either supine or prone on the table and because of this they can be flawed as anatomical landmarks can change when someone lies down on the table (Schamberger does talk about some of these changes in his book on pgs. 43-44). Thus, PRI recommends tests of position and function rather than static tests of anatomical landmarks. The instructor of the course also talked about how the Muscle Energy Techniques used in those Osteopathic approaches achieved a similar result a lot of the time, even though their understanding of the position was incorrect, because they were activating the correct muscles to drive the pelvis into the correction position. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Does it really matter? At the end of the day the goal is to make a positive improvement and if you did something that had a positive influence, even if your explanation or thought process wasn’t 100% correct, I don’t know if it matters all that much. Another thing that I would add is that the Osteopaths discussed breathing and the autonomic nervous system pretty extensively so perhaps their holistic approach achieved many of the similar results that those using PRI achieve. Regardless, there are a lot of similarities between these two approaches to pelvic movement and correction which is interesting to look at and be aware of. The Osteopathic similarities with PRI also show up with regard to the discussion on the diaphragm and viscera as the Osteopathic techniques on visceral manual therapy/massage discuss similar relationships between the diaphragm and the liver on the right side and the diaphragm and the spleen on the left.
Finally, the PRI patterns, particularly the PEC, is where I see some similarities to Janda and Travell and Simons. This pattern is very similar in appearance and function to the Upper and Lower Crossed Patterns from Janda. Many of the muscles which are discussed as needing inhibition in PRI (and in Janda) are also those that are either needed to keep us upright throughout the day (anti-gravity muscles) or those that help assist with respiration when the diaphragm is not functioning properly. So, it makes sense that things you want to inhibit in some of these patterns are the lumbar erectors (we live in a world of extension) and the glutes (particularly in the PEC pattern). Additionally, the vastus lateralis is a muscle which is part of the Anterior Interior Chain and one that can function significantly in these patterns to help provide stability. It comes as no surprise that this muscle is also one that is frequently riddled with trigger points, particularly in the lateral side under the IT-band (which lies over the vastus lateralis, biceps femoris, and is influenced by the TFL – all three muscles which are part of the Anterior Interior Chain).
Integration & Conclusions
I have enjoyed the courses thus far and look forward to taking more of them. I think that they underpin things I already do in practice very nicely and can fit well within the FMS model as another tool that can positively impact the results in some of the tests. Also, I have found that when there are a number of things going wrong in the FMS using some of the PRI approach can be helpful to reposition the individual and then retest to see what sort of improvements have been made. I have been using some of the exercises in my own warm ups and in the warm ups of a few people I have been working with (based on what we have found in testing) and the results have been very positive.
I don’t think any one system has all the answers and I don’t think any system will ever have all the answers as there are so many things that influence the body and so many things we don’t quite know. What I will say is that I really enjoy when different philosophies line up and share many similarities. The PRI approach is one more tool in the toolbox to help understand human function and their courses are some of the most fun I have had during a con ed course in a pretty long time.
March 18, 2013 21 Comments
Crossfit is an incredibly popular training system at the moment for a variety of reasons one of which being that the workouts are extremely challenging and demanding. A study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research set out to evaluate the fitness adaptations that take place during a 10 week Crossfit training program (Smith MM, et al. Crossfit-based high intensity power training improves maximal aerobic fitness and body composition. J Strength Cond Res 2013. Published ahead of print.).
The study began with 54 healthy participants of varying fitness levels; however, only 43 completed the study (23 males/20 females) and were able to return for the post training re-test (more on that later).
The subjects body composition and Vo2max were tested at the start and end of the study to evaluate for changes.
Following the initial testing the subjects performed a 10 week, periodized, CrossFit training program at a CrossFit affiliate gym. The program utilized basic gymnastic activities (handstands, ring work, etc) and multi-joint exercises such as the squat, press, deadlift, and Olympic lift variations. The training program had some variation to it, adding an element of periodization, where some exercises were performed as a time trial (best time) and others were performed in an as many reps as possible style for a prescribed time domain (E.g., 10 or 20min).
The subjects who completed the entire 10 weeks (43 of them) all experienced significant improvements in both VO2max and body composition changes (decreases in body fat percentage) leading the researchers to conclude, “Our data shows that high intensity power training (which is what they refer to CrossFit as in this study) significantly improves Vo2max and body composition in subjects of both genders across all levels of fitness.”
My Comments (The Nitty Gritty)
First I’ll begin by making some obvious statements which, may not be so obvious given that marketing and hoopla tend to cloud rational thinking:
1. CrossFit is not that novel. Circuit training and calisthenics have been around for hundreds of years. Training over a broad range of mixed time and modal domains is certainly not a new thing.
2. What CrossFit did do is create and environment and a culture that made that stuff cool and exciting for people, “Hey, it really sucks to suffer when I work out hard but if I suffer with a group of my friends it really isn’t that bad!” In that regard, I think CrossFit has done a great job motivating a lot of people to get off their butts and exercise. This is a good thing.
3. High intensity interval training or really hard aerobic power type activities, which make up the brunt of the energy system demands during a CrossFit workout, have been shown to improve things like VO2max and Body Composition so do these results really come as a surprise? This stuff has been looked at in hundreds of studies by now.
Now to the not so obvious stuff – the devil is in the details
While the fitness and body composition results seen in this study are certainly impressive, as they are in many studies on high resistance interval training (as I alluded to in point number three above) the most concerning thing about this study and the biggest thing that concerns me with CrossFit is that of the 54 original subjects only 43 were able to complete the study. Nine of the subjects dropped out citing overuse or injury (two of the 11 dropouts cited time restriction as a problem in completing the study).
This sort of dropout rate is a bit hard for me to handle and I believe it has to do with the type of activities chosen from CrossFit workouts, the intensity with which those activities are performed, and the frequency of high intensity workouts within the training week (IE, poor sequencing of training intensities over the week). We don’t see this sort of dropout rate in traditional High Intensity Interval Training studies (usually performed on a bike, treadmill, or rower) and yet we similar exercise benefits. This sort of stuff makes me question the utilization of CrossFit as a training system because the risk seems to outweigh the reward.
My Take Away Conclusions
1. Hard workouts are great. Hard workouts are fun. Pushing yourself is awesome. But, you need to do so with safe exercise selection and have a training program that takes into account your abilities to adapt. This means you need to look at the training week and sequence things properly to ensure that you aren’t killing yourself in the gym everyday and training yourself into a rut. A training program should make you a healthier person, not crush you and deteriorate your body.
2. Olympic lifting exercises should not be used as exercises to be performed “as many reps as possible”. They are highly technical exercises and the athlete should have adequate rest before performing their set.
3. Things like deadlifts and exercises that place the spine in a compromised position as fatigue sets in should not be performed for “as many reps as possible”. This is just asking for trouble.
4. Qualify people to do certain exercises. Sure, gymnastics skills are great and can be a fun addition to a workout; however, not everyone is immediately qualified to perform these activities – just like not everyone is immediately ready to squat, deadlift, or olympic lift. Make sure you have some sort of way to qualify individuals to perform these exercises. This goes beyond skill and technique and should first include ensuring that they have the requisite joint ranges of motion and stability to handle the exercises. Once they are qualified then spend time on technique. Once technique is solid then condition. Do not just throw people to the wolves.
5. Structure your training in phases so that you don’t go high intensity all the time and run the risk of breaking down. The body can only tolerate so much high intensity or maximal effort work. All high intensity interval training programs should have phases where that intense stimulus is removed or minimized to allow the body to not only recover but to also work on developing the aerobic system, which can be helpful in moving the lactate threshold further to the right and allowing the individual to tolerate greater amounts of high intensity work once you get back into that phase of training.
March 1, 2013 26 Comments