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Flexibility: Volume 1

Crush-Fitness-Flexibility-Series
“Blessed are those who are flexible, for they will never be bent out of shape." -Unknown

What is flexibility?
Flexibility is just as important as the strength we acquire from lifting weights.  During this “Flexibility Focus” series I will explain why flexibility should be a crucial part of your exercise routine and how to improve the range of motion (ROM), starting from the ground up. This will simply be an overview of the kinetic chain in relation to flexibility. To sum up flexibility in a nutshell, it is the ability to move a joint through a full range of motion.

 

What is the kinetic chain?
The kinetic chain is made up of multiple parts that all function together as a unit. I always start from the ground when looking at a problem, so naturally the foot/ankle region would be the first thing to observe. Next, we have the knee joints, followed by the hip joints and then the sacroiliac joints. The back portion following the sacroiliac joint would be the thoraco-lumbar spine region and then the cervical spine (neck) region.

 

Why is it important?
When one of these parts does not function properly it can cause pain in other places. I can use myself as an example. I have poor flexibility in my ankles and that affects my back squats and my traditional deadlifts just to name a few. Because I don’t have the flexibility I need in my ankles, it causes my chest to fall forward when my body hits that point where it can no longer descend through my legs. If my chest falls forward it places unnecessary pressure on other points of the kinetic chain. Getting the picture? Maybe your hips are not level when you walk, that may cause tension in your back and possibly even up to your neck region!

 

How does the kinetic chain function?
Another way to look at it is from a mobility/stability view. Each point in this kinetic chain has a specific design to help our body move as efficiently as it can. Every other joint is mobile while the next will be a stable joint. The ankles are designed to be a mobile type of joint, the knee joints provide stability, the hip joints are mobility, S-I joint is stability, the thoraco-lumbar spine is mobility and last in the chain is the cervical spine as a stability joint. The pattern of these joints creates an environment that allows our body to be structured but ‘flexible’ at the same time.

Crush-Fitness-Flexibility-Series

 

How does a person become more flexible?
Stretching! Over the next few weeks I will go in depth on each part of the kinetic chain to help you improve your flexibility. There are different styles and progressions, from static (stationary) stretches to dynamic (moving) types of stretches.

 

What are the benefits of stretching?
By increasing your joint range of motion you can improve other areas of fitness such as strength, power, and endurance. Increasing ROM can help prevent injuries as well! Improving flexibility can every help with every day tasks.

 

TYPES OF STRETCHES

Ballistic Stretching
Once thought to be a superior type of stretching has lost its edge. This style of stretching requires a bouncing movement, such as touching your toes over and over while getting a nice stretch in the hamstrings. Unfortunately, this stretching style is not used as often due to an increase in injury. The muscle may not be ready to stretch as far and this stretch is not as controllable as any of the others.

 

Static Stretching
This involves reaching the furthest point possible in relation to a    joint and holding that position for a short period of time. Example: Sit in the butterfly position with the bottom of your feet together and push knees toward the floor. This will stretch your groin.

 

Active Stretching
This type of stretching involves assuming a position and holding it with only the help of your agonistic (opposite) muscle. This causes the muscle to relax. Example: stretching quad by holding foot, the hamstring is flexed and the quad is extended and relaxed.

 

Dynamic Stretching
Moving parts of your body to warm up. Such movements are increased with speed of movement. Example: prisoner squats

 

PNF or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
Yes, this is a mouthful but most people just use PNF for short. This type of stretching can involve another person aiding the stretch. Lying on your back. The person helping will begin by pushing your [leg] to the furthest point possible (uncomfortable but not painful) and then having you actively push against them for 10 seconds. After pushing for 10 seconds this should allow the hamstring to relax and the person helping you with the stretch will further push your leg and decrease the hip angle, creating an increased stretch to the hamstring.

 

We are only as strong as the foundation beneath us…

 

 

Bibliography

Edwards, K. M. (n.d.). Weak Glutes: You Can Do Sidebends or Situps but Please Don't Lose That Butt!. [Kinetic Chain Image]. Retrieved from http://back2motionpt.com/atl/category/kinetic-chain

The Biomechanics of Resistance Apparatus

Crush-Fitness-University-BioMechanics-Resistance-Spenser

 

Gyms these days are packed with countless types of resistance machines and it is very important to understand the differences among them. The majority of them use gravitational forces, however, there are some that incorporate elastic, hydraulic, or pneumatic resistance. Each type of machine has its own biomechanical properties. It is crucial to understand that some of them are poorly designed resulting in a higher risk of injury. Proper selection of the type of resistance will make your workouts more effective as well as safer. Each of the aforementioned resistances will be discussed.

 

FREE WEIGHTS vs MACHINES

Using dumbbells in your workout is a good choice and this is why. Their resistance is caused by earth’s gravitational forces and it is always in a downward direction. They allow for full range of motion and there is an increased transfer to real world movements (Wilkins, 2010). Free weights allow you to work in a more functional environment and when done properly you are able to create the proper balance throughout your musculoskeletal system. You are able to recruit more stabilizing muscles since you are required to control the weight through multiple plans of motions. If you compare the electromyographic activity of a free weight squat to a smith machine squat the differences are noticeable. Studies have shown that there is a significantly higher electromyographic activity in the gastrocnemius, biceps femoris, and vastus medialis during a free weight squat versus a Smith machine squat (Schwanbeck, Chilibeck, & Binsted, 2009).  This indicates that free weights are more effective and translate better to daily activities such as getting out of a seated position, grabbing something off the ground, and countless others movements you do throughout the day.

 

Now don’t get me wrong not all machines are bad. Seated pulldowns, seated cable rows, and other hammer strength type exercises are still viable choices. The machines that have separate arms allow you to have an equal amount of resistance on each side. This results in a balance of muscular adaptations as you are not able to favor one side over the other. It is not unusual to have one side of your body being stronger than the other. If this is the case for you, focus on using equipment that will allow you to equalize both sides of your body. However, if you are new to the gym and consider yourself a beginner don’t think that you are forced to jump right into free weights unless you are confident in your form and technique. Machines can effectively ease you into free weights as long you are recruiting the right muscles. Ask for help from a friend or a trainer and don’t feel the need to go at someone else’s pace. You want to progress in a safe and effective manner.

 

HYDRAULIC RESISTANCE

Like any hydraulic system, there is a hydraulic ram that forces fluid through a small aperture and therefore creates resistance. Resistance machines that have this type of system provide only a concentric phase. This is quite popular in special populations due to the reduced amount of soreness by having no eccentric phase (Brown, 2008). Hydraulic machines are safe and easy to use but it is necessary to have an eccentric phase in your exercise. The eccentric phase causes muscle break down while your muscle lengthens under a load. During your squats for example, really focus on your glutes and hamstrings as you lower your body. If you are feeling a balance between the muscles on the front of your legs and those on the back of your legs then you are reinforcing good neuromuscular control.

 

ELASTIC RESISTANCE

The use of elastic bands is quite popular in the fitness world. They are very easy to use and are not intimidating at all. You can add resistance to your exercises in a simple and effective way. However, when using an elastic band, the resistance during the extension phase is lower than during the flexion phase (Wilkins, 2010). The resistance is greater the more you stretch the band. They are a great option to add while performing squats as you can functionally work your abductors. Elastic bands are a great for beginners but they are limited to their max resistance. You can get more resistance from using free weights or other resistance machines.

 

PNEUMATIC RESISTANCE

Pneumatic systems use air pressure to create resistance. Such machines provide both a concentric and eccentric phase (Brown, 2008). The higher the pressure is in the system the more resistance is supplied for the exercise. They are similar to the hydraulic system but the pneumatic system is advantageous since there is an eccentric phase. These types of machines are more geared towards physical therapy and older populations.

 

It is necessary to understand that the ideal weight training programs consists of a variety of resistance machines. You want to challenge your system in a safe and effective way without creating imbalances throughout your muscles. Perform exercises that are within your capabilities and focus on which muscles should do the moving. If you are not going to perform each repetition correctly, your brain will remember those imbalanced muscle patterns which can increase your chances of having complications down the road. Developing a balanced system takes time as you may be correcting a muscle pattern that you have reinforced for years. If needed seek guidance from a certified professional if you think you are doing something wrong.

 

 

Bibliography

Brown, T. J. (2008). Conditioning for Strength and Human Performance. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

Schwanbeck, S., Chilibeck, P. D., & Binsted, G. (2009). A Comparison of Free Weight Squat to Smith Machine Squat Using Electromyography. Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research , 2588-2591.

Wilkins, L. W. (2010). ACSM's Resources for the Personal Trainer 3rd Ed. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.

 

 

Chest & Arms Phase4 Preview

Are you getting excited for phase4 and the new Crush Fit app? Here's a workout from the shredding series of phase4. Enjoy it and let me know what you think! GOOD LUCK :)

 

THE WORKOUT

 

Incline Smith Press 5-5-5-5-5 2:00 Rest

Ez Bar Curls (Wide Grip)

15-10-5-5-5 1:30 Rest
-
Low Cable Fly 20-10-20
Superset 1:00 Rest
Cable Curl (Straight Bar) 10-20-10
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Seated DBCurl (Together) 15-15-15
Superset 1:00 Rest
Run 45s - 45s - 45s

 

Watch The Video!

How I Train Legs

nika Crush fit leg day

Leg day! 

The way I train legs differs with my goals at the moment.


When I train for strongman competitions, I train for strength so my leg workouts focus on low rep and high weight, and I also do a lot of sprints and work with pulling or pushing heavy weight like the prowler and sled. With strongman training, sometimes the workouts will differ depending on what the event includes in terms of legs. Sometimes the only leg intensive event at the competition is the car deadlift, so I focus on a lot of deadlifts, hack squats and trap-bar deadlifts if that’s the case. In the last competition I did, the leg-intensive event was a yolk squat, so my workouts really focused on doing high box squats and practicing squats with the yolk.

When I train for bodybuilding or just for fun, I focus my workouts around hypertrophy training, which is usually a lower weight, but much higher reps! When doing this type of training, it’s very important to develop a muscle-mind connection, which is essentially solely focusing on that particular muscle throughout its entire movement. It’s also important to be slow and controlled in the movement, because muscle is built with time under tension, and rushing through an exercise isn’t going to yield as great of a result as keeping the exercise slow and controlled.

An example of my strongman leg workout:

  • Front squats 5-3-1 @ 55/65/75% of my 1 RM
  • Back squats 3x8 @ 75% of my 1 RM
  • Heavy weighted walking lunges 3x10 each leg
  • Glute-ham raises supersetted with ab roll outs 3x15
  • Prowler push 4x100 ft in under 12 seconds
    An example of my bodybuilding leg workout:
    • Front squats 3x8
    • Back squats 20-15-12-10-8-6
    • Weighted walking lunges supersetted with hamstring curls 4x15
    • Leg press with legs a bit wider than shoulder width apart 5x15
    • Hip abduction supersetted with hip adduction 3x20
    • Leg extensions 4x20 with 3 second pause at the top

      When training for legs, there are so many ways to work each muscle group, so sometimes I split up my leg workout to focus on hamstrings and quads one day, and have a glute intensive day later in the week. Having 2 leg days a week isn’t necessary to grow legs, but my glutes are one of my weaker body parts because I’m very quad dominant and I like to have one day where I solely focus on them. This concept can be applied to training any body part, and having one day to really focus on your weakness!

      Ben's Delts Have a Name?

       

      Crush-Fitness-Ben-Williamson-YOLO-Delts

      YOLODELTS - THE WORKOUT

      Since you guys decided to name my delts, I decided to give you a simple and effective shoulder workout! 
      Good luck and let me know how you do!
      EXERCISE REP SCHEME REST TIME
      Seated Barbell OHP 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 - 5 2:30+
      DB Side Raise 20 - 20 - 20 - 20  45s
      Seated DB OHP 8 - 8 - 8 - 8 2:30+
      DB Side Raise 20 - 20 - 20 - 20 45s
      Cable Upright Row 15 - 15 - 15 - 15 30s
      DB Side Raise 20 - 20 - 20 - 20 45s
      *SELECT THE WEIGHT BASED ON THE REP NUMBER. FOR EXAMPLE, 5 REPS MEANS YOU ARE TO PICK A WEIGHT, THAT WILL MAKE YOU FAIL ON THE 5th REP. YES, THATS HEAVY!
      CLICK HERE FOR A VIDEO ON HOW TO READ THE WORKOUT