Are your Workouts Building Strength,Power, and Endurance?

No matter why you exercise resistance training should be a priority; but how do you design a workout routine to incorporate all three muscle attributes?

During a general conditioning cycle for almost any sport, absolute strength, enhanced power output, and muscular and cardiovascular endurance need to be trained to a certain degree.  The modality used depends on the specific movements of the sport or activity.

To differentiate between the three types of exercise, here are the definitions:

Strength:  This can be thought of as the maximum amount of resistance the muscles can push against in a single effort.

Power:  Force x distance/time.  In terms of movement, this is how fast a movement can be performed against a resistance.  In other words, ‘explosive strength.’ 

Endurance:  Muscular endurance is talking about the number of times the muscles can repeat the movement with a sub-maximum weight or resistance. 

Putting it into Context

To use these three concepts, let’s put it into an exercise.

Starting with power, any exercise can be utilized to perform fast, controlled repetitions.  Force needs to be applied to the concentric and the eccentric phases of the movement

Using the bench press as an example, perform several sets (4-6) of low, explosive repetitions (3-5.)  If you can attach power bands or resistance cables, do so.  Use a weight 55-65% of your maximum; remember this is about stimulating muscles to generate force quickly.

If we take the same exercise and perform it to enhance absolute strength, we simply increase the volume (from 5-8 sets or more,) and lower the repetitions to 1-3.  This could be modified to five sets of five, or five sets of three if the weight is heavy enough. 

An excellent example of a muscular endurance exercise is the TRX body row.  Doing this exercise with a suspension trainer allows the angle to be changed so the muscles can continue working with a lowered resistance.

Generally, start by setting the TRX straps at a steep angle which will allow you to perform 10-12 repetitions.  When you can do no more, adjust the angle and keep going, until the muscles are exhausted. 
Repeat two to three times according to your fitness level.
 
These higher rep structures encourage a higher lactate threshold, training the muscles to keep going longer; i.e. muscular endurance.

For general fitness, designing a workout routine with elements of power, strength, and endurance will leverage conditioning efforts, and develop a well-rounded physique that is functional as well as attractive.

For more information on implementing the TRX into your workouts, visit www.flexandmove.com, or click on the banner ads on this site.

Until next time, get to work and have fun!    

Combining the TRX with Bodyweight Exercises for Optimum Muscle Development

The title says it all, this post is about utilizing the TRX suspension system in conjunction with a few select bodyweight exercises in a cohesive program to develop muscle.  Not just any muscle though. Read on for a great routine that builds core strength with every exercise, while working out the whole body at the same time. Want an even greater challenge? Add some resistance bands and start building serious muscle.

Not for the weak of heart!

Warm-up:

Light jogging, shadow boxing, sun salutations, jumping rope, etc.:  10 minutes.

Workout: (Perform three rounds of each with no more than 20 seconds between exercises.)

Hindu Push-Ups: x20
Scorpion Push-Ups: x 5-10 each side (depending on
strength level.)
Forearm Rocking Push-Ups: x10-15 (Assume regular pushup position, drop to forearms and rock body forward, back, and side-to-side before pushing up again.)

Then, 3 rounds each, 20 seconds or less between exercises:

Reach Under Side Plank: (Click for video) x10 each side:

Adjust the TRX to ~ 6-8 inches above the ground. With your feet rotated in the cradles, keep your body
straight and supported on one arm.  With the other, reach under the side facing the ground while keeping
your body straight.  Turn back to the starting position and reach the arm up to the sky.

Immediately jump to:

TRX Hamstring Curl:  x20. 

Re-adjust your feet in the straps and squeeze the hamstrings to initiate the movement.

Then:

Horizontal Body Rows or Plank Rows:

Re-adjust the straps to accommodate a horizontal body row with your arms fully extended.  Use a stool, bench or chair to put your feet on, so long as your body is horizontal or close to it.  For more difficulty, place feet higher, but keep body straight as a board. 

Do 10-15 depending on how strong you are.  If you can do more than this at horizontal, raise your feet higher.

Finish:

To end this workout I recommend doing a series of about 15-20 upward dogs to child pose stretches.

Remember, by increasing or decreasing the angle of the exercise, you can modify the level of difficulty.  Start out slowly if these exercises are new to you, and walk through the whole workout at a moderate pace and intensity before pushing yourself to give a max effort.

Have fun, and for video instructions on any of these exercises, visit the Suspension Trainer Exercises page.

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The Emotional Cost of Not Exercising

This morning as struggled with a 4 am wake up call from a coughing child, I grumbled and barked directions to get the cough under control, and struggled with another interrupted night of sleep.

In the back of mind however, a nagging voice was creeping up on me, “you’re actually pretty wide awake, and your body feels ready and alert, drop the sleepy act…”

Soon I paused and realized what was happening.  I had gotten over a cold myself which prevented a good workout for about a week (an unheard of amount of time for me,) and just last night I had been able to do a complete routine.

I had dived into mobility drills, a short yoga warm-up, and I even tried out a couple new exercises on my suspension trainer.  It felt good!

Because of this I had slept better and my body, instead of aching, actually felt prepared for anything.

I ended up back in bed for another hour, but the effects of exercise on my mental well-being made themselves more apparent as I drove my son to school.

The feeling coursing through my body was one of strength and an uplifted spirit.  Genuine smiles went out to everyone I saw. I wanted them to feel good too, seriously.

Of course, everyone knows regular exercise is healthy, but the psychological effects are just as big a benefit.
Working out regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle prevents emotional waste from building up, and gives us a way to work ti out of our systems. It does this by increasing blood flow and flushing out impurities, as well as through the release of endorphins and neurotransmitters.

This isn’t an essay on the physiology of exercise, however.  The chemistry works, period; and a good workout makes you feel more confident.  By increasing strength, endurance, and flexibility, you feel more capable of anything the day throws at you; possibilities open up that would not have come to mind before.

All of these benefits help balance us emotionallyl.  When stressful situations come up in our lives, we are more prepared to handle them.  If it becomes too much, well, exercise can be an outlet.

None of this should come as a surprise though,  Our bodies were designed to move!  Just try sitting in a chair for several hours at a time if you doubt it.  So it makes sense that all of the systems benefit from the expression of their purpose through movement.

Don’t wait to get the body either.  Life is too short for that; and there are no excuses.  “Wait, but my blood pressure is high and I’m diabetic and I’m paralyzed from the waist down!”  Sorry, but see a doctor and they will tell you that blood pressure meds work better with exercise; and the paralysis?  Nope.  Ever seen those guys with the gorilla arms gunning a sporty wheelchair on a marathon course?  Wow.  Who’s disabled now?

Now I am not saying it’s easy to get going no matter who you are, but that’s just another excuse.  Think Hellen Keller; her accomplishments as a deaf and blind woman make you wonder if she isn’t a fictional character.

One last example before I jump off the soapbox.  A couple of weeks ago, a video was shared on Facebook, maybe you’ve seen it.  Here was a man who was born with no arms, and no legs, and whose only semblance of an appendage is an underdeveloped foot.

He’s a motivational speaker who they showed moving smoothly down a field with a soccer ball, and speaking with absolute inspiration.  I nearly slapped myself for every excuse I made for not grabbing something in life.  There are many videos of him on the internet, so I won’t post them here.  Just look up:  Nick Vujicic.

Find something fun to do, and get moving.  Make it an activity you really are attracted to.  Beach volleyball? MMA? Boxing? Pilates? Handball against the garage? An adult skateboarding?  Surfing?  Go out and pursue it, and sooner or later, you’ll own it.

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Functional Workout Flexibility and Movement

Flexibility and Strength Go Hand in Hand in a Workout

We would all like to feel that we can move our bodies in any direction, without pain, at any time.  It doesn’t hurt to develop strength through every possible range of motion either.  As we get older, finding a balance in our exercise routines that includes flexibility training, functional exercises, and building or maintaining muscle or strength gets more difficult, but it must be done to maintain optimum health.

Let’s define these three briefly:
-Flexibility:  Increasing the muscles range of motion around a joint; yoga, pilates, static and dynamic stretching are highly recommended.

-Functional Exercises:  In my opinion this is a broadly used term today, but the exercises below demonstrate great functional movement practice for martial arts, police, military, or parents rolling around with their kids!  So check out the video, Coach Sonnon is fluid as can be.

However, a deadlift can be ‘functional’ as well.  In general, make workouts functional by including multiple major muscle groups into the workout, and practicing activity specific replications; i.e. Indian Club swings for golf, tennis, or baseball; or muscle-ups on a TRX suspension trainer for chasing bad guys over a wall or fence.

-Muscle Building/Strength Training: Unless you’re aspiring to be a WWF wrestler or a pro bodybuilder, packing on muscle for the sake of muscle is probably not the ultimate goal. However, striving to increase strength, and build muscle should be on both men’s and women’s list of exercise goals. As we age, we get weaker and lose muscle, as well as bone density. To prevent this, include heavy strength training in your overall workout plan, and never stop!

Whether you’re a powerlifter, bodybuilder, or full-time couch potato, including movements like the ones in the video below will create greater flexibility and awareness of your body.  These moves may be advanced for some, so work into them gradually, and always include yoga or other flexibility training in your routines.