Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Break Time. 8/30 - 9/9

NO SESSIONS from 8/30 to 9/9. None!

Hopefully many of you heeded the warning I put out last week about sitting and have been spending more time on your feet. Super important! Do it! Do it, more! Walk, stand, be tall; just avoid sitting. Hopefully you've had a chance to roll around on the floor and shove a ball in your psoas.... oh, who am I kidding but myself. Maybe two of you did, one for sure.. Thanks James!

But I'll keep beating the dead horse just for fun.

If you don't want to experience the exhilarating thrill of the lacrosse ball in the psoas, then perhaps try this stretch throughout the day.. every hour or so. It only takes 30 seconds. Sooooo that means that no one will do it.. but at least watch the video.

This is a really good stretch. Just make sure you don't go flopping around your spine. Keep it together and tight and use your glute to open the hips and stretch the psoas only.

If nothing else, use the lacrosse ball to massage your feet to relieve some of the new tension from standing and using your feet more.

Free Time:
Yes, to many people's dismay, we are taking 10 days off. That means that you will skip 4 sessions. Just 4. Not a big deal. 4. That's it. 4 workouts. This will not impact your Olympic careers, folks. It's good to take time off from exercise, so whether you agree with that or not, you're going to have to figure your life out for a mere 10 days.

Here's some stuff you can do while you hold your breath through the 10 days:

- Enjoy yourselves! Go do something that you'll enjoy, for $#@&' s sake. You don't have to constantly spend your recreational time in a state of misery to prove to everyone how healthy you are. No one cares about your pool of sweat from 6 push ups, so quit telling everyone about it and go do something more fun. FUN! Have it!

- Mobility. You all lack it. Period. each and every one of us has an issue or 15 that need to be addressed. How about giving those hips some attention? Your feet? Wrists? Shoulders? Don't know how? No problem. Check out MobilityWOD for some pretty effective Mobs. Just search for the joint you want to deal with. 10 days is enough to fix most anything that ails you.
- Trim your calluses! You don't need those sucker going from exercise accolades to torn "battle" scars. Nothing cool about that battle and it's really not a good story to tell. "How'd you rip your hand?" "This crazy workout! Ring-rows really tore me up." "....... neat?" You don't need that.

- Exercise on your own. You all know the drill. If by now you haven't figured out how to put together workouts, then we need to have a serious talk. Simple. Move your body (squat, lunge, push up, pull up); hold positions (plank, side plank, back bridge, bird dog); Sprint. Simple as that. Mix and match to your little heart's content. Get together with others. I know that groups meet at various times so either show up and see who you find or get on the facebook thing and see what happens.
- Get as deconditioned as possible so that you can make huge strides and gains when you come back. Keep in mind that most progress is made when a person is at their worst. So take 10 days to find your worst. This is easier said than done. Ice cream and Dr. Pepper are good. Throw a couch and a TV into the mix; even better. You see where I'm going with this. Wouldn't be the wisest choice, but a CHOICE nonetheless.
The bottom line is, do whatever YOU want with these 10 days. Their yours to enjoy and waste at your disposal. Have fun with it. The common phobia as that somehow everyone is going to miraculous explode in the 10 days.
Well, if you use exercise to justify questionable eating choices, then you're already in the wrong and unfortunately no amount of exercise is going to undo that. So good luck. If you have addressed your nutritional behavior, then you'll be just fine and your cortisol will settle and you'll find a nice homeostasis. Ideally, that is.
Keep in mind: you can gain strength/muscle/conditioning and store fat at the same time. Think about football players. That's how they make their living. So don't think that exercise will stimulate growth in some but magically won't for you. That's just insane, according to Mr. Einstein.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Your hip flexors are short. Fix it!

Glad to hear that so many of you were inspired by Ali McWeeny. I sure am. I can't wait for my signed photo to come in the mail.

The Sport of Life

As members of the UCLA staff and faculty community, your lives are comprised mainly of some sort of sitting. Lots of it. Think about it. Track your day from start to finish and count the hours that you spend in a chair. Many of you will surely be in the double-digits. Well, guess what, sitting SUCKS! I typed in the word "sitting" into google and the screen nearly slapped me in the face with article after article that cited the words "dangerous", "death", "worse than smoking". Here's a few for your reading "pleasure".

The Most Dangerous Thing You'll Do All Day
Sitting less could extend your life
Sitting can be more dangerous than smoking, study shows
Too Much Sitting Can Kill You, Study Suggests
The “Sitting Is Killing You” Infographic Shows Just How Bad Prolonged Sitting Is

Get the idea? Sitting is not the best way to live, but the reality is that we can't avoid it (I can because of my job). If we wanted to abolish sitting, we'd have to make a lot of changes that would certainly trickle into other aspects of our lives. So, chances are that it probably won't happen for many of us. You do stand to benefit by... wait for it..... STANDING UP and walking around frequently.

The big problem for us in exercising is what happens to the hip flexor muscles after prolonged sitting. By prolonged, I mean within a few hours, let alone years.

These are the two main hip flexors:

These two muscles flex the hips. Meaning they either bring your knee closer to your chest, or your chest closer to your knees. Think situps, tuck-jumps, leg levers, flutter kicks.

When you spend too much time sitting, you artificially "freeze" these muscle into a shortened range of motion. Sitting in a full squat would help counter this since they would contract through a full range of motion, but few desks are equipped for this feat. This is a big problem when we ask you folks to squat and your hip flexors think the job is done when your hips drop to chair-height. Instead of pushing through to the bottom, many just drop the chest, round the back, or widen the feet.

The shortened PSOAS becomes a really big problem for many of you that sit and also have muted hip extensors (part of the same sitting package). Notice it is attached to the lumbar spine from the femur. Well if it is shortened, then one of those bony structures has to move. It's not going to be the femur as the leg is too long and that is mechanically unlikely. The lumbar spine, on the other hand, can move forward toward the belly button if pulled by the psoas. So it does. We call this "hyperlordosis". You call it "ouch, my lower back hurts, I probably lifted something incorrectly and now need surgery and a handicapped placard on my car for awesome parking spots".

Here's a picture:

Now let's attribute the mechanics to the source of the problem.

Bam. This is why your lower backs hurt after sitting and dead lifting and squatting. This is why you're prioritizing doing the dead lift with your back instead of your hips and you end up pushing through your belly instead of pulling the bar up.

So how do we fix this. Well, prioritizing hip extension is a good counter measure for the short flexors. Doing things in a hollow position is good too. But ideally, you're going to want to lengthen and relax the hip flexors. This is not easy. Obviously those muscles are hard to find since they're buried deep inside of you.

I go see an ART specialist and he PAINFULLY manipulates my muscles into submission. It is not pleasant but it works. Really well. www.drnelsonsantos.com is the guy, and no, I'm not getting hooked up for mentioning him; I pay, but he does take insurance. Or you can even go to your physician and they can give you a shot directly into your psoas. That sounds like a blast!

If you want to do it yourself, it will take time, but you have to be proactive. Check these out:

I like to do this one by laying on top of the ball and trying to expose the psoas with intensive glute and abdominal activation with rotation. This will hurt if you do it right.

You can use a band to distract the hip flexors as well, while you try to blast the hips open with your glute. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=SPpAECK8jFs#t=374s

Justin from 70'sbig made a great video on exposing the psoas to palpate it.

So these will be some fun things to do if you have any interest in preventing the common problems associated with chronic hyperlordosis or you want to actually move some heavy weights correctly and let the big muscles develop in your hips rather than punish your back.

Note: I ripped off all of the visual aids from www.70sbig.com. Justin made a few great posts about the hip flexors and they're really pertinent to us because of our lives in chairs. So read his stuff, watch his videos, and enjoy his work just as much as I do. Thanks Justin!

Stand up, walk around!


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Maybe she's not human..

It's good to see all of the newly-matriculated exercisers integrating with the on going exercisers. Hopefully everyone is or will be registered by the end of the week. Translation: pay up!! See the memebership desk at the JWC for help with that. Thanks!

Here's a picture of the central and peripheral nervous system. It's the maze of nerves that makes our thoughts and desires become actions. Pretty incredible, right? The human body seems like such a foreign object sometimes; as if we're completely removed and dissociated. Think about it. You exercise, and all of the sudden, muscles develop. You didn't have to tell that muscle to develop. It just did. On its own volition. The muscle fibers and enzymes that control their growth knew to take care of that to accomodate for the increased stresses placed upon them. Amazing! Blows my mind..


Meet Ali McWeeny:

Yes! She is indeed dead lifting on one leg. You thought you had a hard time lifting weights?

Ali was a record-holding powerlifter in 2009, until she loft her leg in a boating accident. Most people would have simply bowed their heads and played the role of a victim. Surely her doctors and many around her probably expected that.

Ali had different plans. She had dumbells delivered to her while in her hospital bed with morphine pumping through her body. She continued lifting weights and is now the only woman to COMPETE on one leg. That's right, she competes. Ali McWeeny is a real life warrior.

I think you all get the idea. Read the post on 70'sbig.com for more info about here.

Ali is trying to raise some cash for a new prosthetic leg that will help her achieve even greater degrees of awesomeness than she already has. You all know what a big proponent I am of making this world AWESOME, and I think that Ali is going to be an integral component: a leader. She was cut from the warrior cloth and I have a feeling that very little is going going to hold her back. She definitely has my support and if anyone else wants to help her out, you'll be doing a good thing. Here's a link to the fund-raising page: New Leg For Ali.

She already met her goal, but I'm sure she'll find something good to do with the extra cash.

If you're on the fence, watch this video without getting sentimental.. I challenge you!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Cohort 6. Welcome.

Just like that, another BHIP ON Ramp cohort has made its way through the 12 weeks of diligently learning how to exercise correctly. Ah the stories they will tell. Strangely they all sound much like the stories every other cohort has told, but none the less, they are good stories of epic failures and monumentous achievements.. in the realm of exercise of course. Take a moment to reflect on all of your accomplishments.

Without a doubt, we do get a huge response about the transference of the gains made during exercising into the real world. We love hearing about how easy the hard things are getting for you all. We love hearing about how you're all doing things that you haven't done in a long time or never dreamed of doing. That's what this is all about. Saying "YES" to anything life throws at you. Chances are, it's something fun and worth doing.

Lately, we have started implementing options for workouts. This seems to be a good idea so far and everyone seems to like it. This means that now you get to choose how you want to expend your efforts. No one workout is easier than another, so don't go choosing one over another for difficulty sake. If done right, a heavy lifting workout should wear you out just as much as running Drake Snakes. If it doesn't, then you have spent the workout warming up.

When making your choice consider the following:
- Lifting heavy weight for maximal efforts is intended for gaining strength. Strength means you can "DO" more. A good thing. It means you can impose your will on other... "objects". A good thing. It means that you have the capacity to help others and be of use to the human race. Pretty sweet. Keep in mind that there is no such thing as "too strong". No one has claimed that title.. yet.

- The stuff that makes your lungs burn, legs aches, and leaves you in a sweaty pile panting and moaning is called "conditioning". Some people call it cardio, but what most people consider "cardio" I consider "easy things done while breathing heavy". So we don't waste your time with those. The conditioning we do is done with the intent of improving your existing conditioning. Meaning that you can recover less as you improve. This involves willingly walking through the door into a place of discomfort and likely regret. This is where you hone your mental fortitude and indomitable spirits. This is where you run the risk of losing your lunch. And if not that, at least you'll feel a sense of accomplishment.

- So try to choose based on what you want. You want more strength? Focus of the heavy lifting and skill-based workouts and throw in an occasional gasser. Want to focus on conditioning? Huff and puff away to your heart's (dis)content. Variety is your friend.