Archive for the ‘strength’ Category

Living in Las Vegas, Nevada affords me many great opportunities, not the least of which is being smack dab in the middle of MMA’s epicenter.  Being a rabid fan of MMA, partaking in MMA training (Specifically Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu) and having the honor of working with many of the incredible MMA athletes (amateur as well as professional) gives me a multi-dimensional viewpoint when it comes to what works and doesn’t work with MMA conditioning training.  I am humble in my approach as I feel I am forever a student of the body and I would like to believe that is what helps me to achieve great success with my clients.  I don’t pretend to know it all, but rather I voraciously pursue furthering my knowledge base by means of reading cutting edge scientific journals, attending as many relevant certifications as possible and just flat out keeping an open mind.

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Something I see happen all too often, is a random trainer calling himself a “MMA conditioning specialist” with little to no practical knowledge or experience in the field.  Training Mrs. Smith to lose 10 pounds of fat is ever so slightly different from training an elite athlete to perform at his/her peak in competition.  (Did my sarcasm show through just now?) While a lot of these trainers might have good intentions, they are sadly setting themselves and their clients up for failure by applying antiquated belief systems and training paradigms to what might be considered the single most challenging athletic endeavor out there: MMA.  These athletes need a flowing, balanced blend of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance that is tailored to their own unique physiology in such a manner that the outcome is a harmonious dynamic of purposeful movement that does the “Art” portion of the moniker justice.

A true professional MMA conditioning coach approaches their athlete with a goal of improving their structural and movement based efficiency, facilitating effective improvement in the goal based aspects of the program and all the while minimizing opportunities for injury and/or overtraining.  This requires a thorough grasp of exercise science and the ability to apply it in an individualized manner that is both progressive and periodized as needed to accommodate the athlete’s goals. The balancing of speed, strength, skill, flexibility and endurance is of paramount importance to the MMA athlete’s success.

There are three main steps to this process:

  1. Assess the athlete for goal orientation as well as physical needs/capabilities
  2. Design the program based around the information provided by the assessments
  3. Instruct the athlete utilizing the well-designed program

If you or someone you know is thinking about working with a MMA conditioning coach, make sure that coach can answer the following questions:

  • What muscles groups should be trained? Why?
  • What basic energy sources (e.g. anaerobic, aerobic) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the types of muscle action(s) (e.g. isometric, eccentric) should be trained? Why?
  • What are the primary sites of injury for the particular sport or activity, and what is the prior injury history of the individual?
  • What are the specific needs for muscle strength, hypertrophy, endurance, power, speed, agility, flexibility, body composition, balance and coordination?

A true professional will be able to answer all these and more.

While I would never want to do anything but encourage more women to hit the gym for their own fitness goals, I do have a hard time keeping my mouth shut when it comes to some of the insanity that goes down once they get there.  Getting great results from your time in the gym really isn’t all that complex, unless you make it that way yourself.

Ladies, high five for your continued efforts to better yourselves! Along the way on your fitness journey, please try to keep a few of the following items in mind:

  1. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop working your abs all the time. Your abdominal muscles, just like all of the other effective-ab-workouts-for-womenmuscles on your body, do NOT need to be beaten down every single day. Should you challenge your core muscles?  Absolutely!  Just try to work them the same number of times per week as you would your back or shoulders.  Think Goldilocks and the 3 bears – not too much, not too little.  (Oh and stop thinking you can magically spot reduce the fat in your midsection by working your abs, cause it doesn’t work that way!)
  2. You are doing waaaay too much cardio. If you are doing 90 minutes of cardio every single day of the week in an effort to lose fat to fit into your favorite pair of jeans, you might want to KNOCK IT OFF! The truth is that while a great way to build aerobic endurance should you be entering your first 5k run, cardio will never be able to match proper nutritional intake when it comes to fat loss. You’ve heard the phrase, “Abs are made in the kitchen” right?  Well, it just might be the most profound statement out there when it comes to fat loss.  Eat better and you’ll look better.  Cut back on that cardio and put more effort into your diet.  You’ll thank me later.
  3. Stop changing your workout every couple days. I know patience is a virtue that you were not blessed with, but come on!  Stick to a routine for no less than 4 weeks before you decide it isn’t working for you.  Nobody gets results the first time they try a new program and that includes YOU, so relax and stick to the one you already have and maybe you’ll start seeing the results you were hoping for.download (12)
  4. You are doing too many exercises for your booty. Yes, I know it is one of your focal points.  Yes, I know you think “More is better.”  No, doing 47 different movements for your rear will NOT magically make you look like J-lo.  Whether your goal is to lose some fat off the rear or to build up some muscle down there, too much is exactly that: too much. (Please see number 1 above)  If you want better buns, you need to include two things in your workouts: Squats and sprints.  That’s it!
  5. Stop thinking that lifting heavy weights will make you get HUGE. Every bodybuilder out there hates you because they know the Tricep-Exercises-For-Womentruth is to build big muscles you have to spend YEARS beating the crap out of your body and stuffing your face with huge amounts of food.  Choosing to use the 30lb dumbbells instead of the 5lb ones might be the smartest thing you can do to fast forward your results.  You’ll get stronger, build a tiny amount more muscle and boost your metabolism so you can burn more fat.  If anything you’ll end up getting smaller instead of bigger.  Win!

Get out there and hit the gym ladies!  Everyone wins when you move closer to your fitness goals and that can happen sooner if you were paying attention to my rant above.

 

I suppose if you are dressing up for Halloween as Bane, it might be a good idea to strap on one of those fancy MMA high altitude simulating masks, but if it doesn’t happen to be October 31st, there is a pretty good chance all that mask is doing is making you look like an idiot.  All the rage these days, training masks that have been popularized by the psuedo-science laden MMA magazine advertisements and Facebook ads alike, don’t hold up to the stringent demands of real science. Let me drop some actual knowledge on you about these  masks so you can better choose your workout gear going forward and hopefully avoid those nasty looks people keep giving you..

bane mma mask

What do these masks promise to do for the unsuspecting user?

  • Improved oxygen uptake
  • Improved anaerobic capacity
  • Increased lung capacity

The claims by the manufacturers of these masks are loosely attributed to the mask simulating training at high altitude (because the breathing restriction aspect of the mask allows less air/less oxygen in each breath) which allegedly causes the user to have lung efficiency adaptations.

So now we know what the claims are, let’s take a look at the science to see if it supports these claims.

  • Improved oxygen uptake – This one falls apart REAL quickly. The basic principle of the oxygen deprivation mask is riding the tails of LLTH (Live Low Train High) principle…. i.e. you wear the mask only when you are training to simulate altitude. This has been proven false. In the study, “Is Hypoxia Training Good for Muscles and Exercise Performance?” authors Vogt and Hoppeler clear this up by stating, “… A common feature of virtually all studies on “live low–train high” is that hypoxic exposure only during exercise sessions is not sufficient to induce changes in hematologic parameters. Hematocrit and hemoglobin concentrations usually remain unchanged with “live low–train high.”  Next…
  •  Improved anaerobic capacity – In the study “Effects of intermittent hypoxic training on aerobic and anaerobic performance. ” authors Cable and Morton found that hypoxic training (using a mask or training at altitude) had, “no enhanced effect on the degree of improvement in either aerobic or anaerobic performance.”  Damn you science!!!
  • Increased lung capacity – All right, last chance here training masks! On the third and final chance at bat, the training masks actually deliver….well…kinda.  It is true that there indeed is an increase in lung capacity due to the restricted nature of these masks, however, that increase did NOT lead to an increase in any of the important aspects of performance such as VO2MAX or anaerobic capacity. Darn!

mma mask fitness

While it might feel like I am here to bash the entire genre of altitude simulation/MMA training masks, the reality is I am just trying to be a clear voice of science founded reason on the topic.  I think it is important to note that while the above info beats down the mask’s ability to back up the claims of the marketers out there, it does actually have a very viable use for MMA athletes.  Wearing these masks makes it hard to breath and “smothers” the user so that they have to adapt psychologically to wearing them and thereby become prepared should an opponent block their breathing in a fight(this is legal to do in MMA) it won’t have as dramatic of an impact on the training mask user.  See, one good point after all!

If you don’t mind looking like a dork and you want to improve your mental game for MMA, then a training mask might be the thing for you!  Everyone else, keep on doing whatever you were already doing…

 

If you have a child of 6 to 8 years old that wants
to start exercising and lifting weights, you may
find yourself wondering what you should do. While
some think it is perfectly fine for children to
exercise, there are others that think differently.

The long and short of it is that yes, it is
beneficial for your child to partake in exercise
or a weight training regimen although there are a
few things that you should keep in mind once this
starts to happen.

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No matter how you look at it, children aren’t
minature adults and therefore you can’t use the
same methods with growing children that you can use
with adults, as children are different from adults
emotionally, anatomically, and physiologically.

All children have immature skeletons, as their
bones don’t mature until they get 14 – 22 years of
age. With girls, exercise during childhood can
have very critical effects on bone health that
can last for their entire lives.

Children are often times vulnerable to growth
related overuse injuries such as Osgood schlatter
disease. Children have immature temperature
regulation systems due to their having a large
surface area compared to their muscle mass which
will cause them to be more susceptible to injury
when they aren’t properly warmed up.

Children don’t sweat as much as adults do, so
they will be more susceptible to heat exhaustion
as well as a heat stroke. Due to their low muscle
mass and immature hormone system, it makes it
harder for them to develop strength and speed.
Their breathing and heart response during
exercise are also different from an adults, which
will affect their capacity for exercise.

On the other hand, young boys and girls can
drastically improve their strength with weight
training although opposed to adults, neurological
factors instead of muscle growth factors are mostly
responsible.

When you consider programs for children, first and
foremost you should obtain a medical clearance.
The first approach to designing a program is to
establish a repetition range of 8 – 12 and keep
the work load appropriate for the range.

You should ensure that workouts are spread out
enough to have at least 1 – 2 full days of rest
between workouts. The main focus when working out
should be on the form of every exercise performed,
and not on the amount of weight being lifted.

Before weight training, warm up and stretching
should be done. Start your children off with light
loads and then make adjustments accordingly. No
more than 3 non consecutive exercise sessions
should be done in a week. You should also see to
it that they drink plenty of water before, during,
and after exercise. Getting enough water is very
important with exercise, as it is often times very
easy to get dehydrated – especially with children.

 

If you are looking for one very efficient piece of exercise, look no further than the kettlebell. Kettlebell workouts are famous for burning fat by increasing lean muscle while building balance and grace. Plus it is an amazing stress-reliever that relieves tension in both the muscles and the mind. The exercises are simple, yet effective.

When used correctly, kettleballs are wonderful conditioning tools. They can be used for various purposes such as:

  • Cardiovascular conditioning
  • Fat loss
  • Strength and stamina
  • Muscular endurance, especially the legs, buttocks and lower back

Choosing the Correctly Sized Kettlebell
When first starting out, choosing the correct size kettlebell to train with is very important. You need to pick a weight that is easy enough to handle but heavy enough to make you use your hips explosively to drive the kettlebell in to its correct position, depending upon the exercise that you are doing.

Most ladies would normally start with either a 5-10 pound kettlebell, while men would normally start with a 15-20 pound kettlebell. The size depends on the condition of the person exercising, so don’t be afraid to drop down a size to keep proper form. Initially, more repetitions are better than more weight.

Kettlebell Basic Exercises
Before you can start on a basic routine, you must first master the three basic exercises with the kettlebell. These are:

  1. The Swing
  2. The Clean
  3. The Snatch

1. The Swing
This is a simple exercise, but extremely effective using the whole body. Standing with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart, hold a kettlebell with knees bent. Grip the kettlebell with both hands and lift to groin height. Ensure that your back is arched and that your head is upright. Keep the weight on your heels, bending at the knees, back straight and head looking up and forwards (as if you are going to sit down in a chair). Swing the kettlebell to the rear backwards, between the legs. The weight should remain on your heels and the shins should be vertical.

swing

It is essential that you perfect this movement because without it, you will never have the leverage to get your hips into the movement. You should feel the kettlebell pulling you backwards and your hamstrings contracting. Pushing through your feet and legs, quickly snap/thrust the hips forward tightening the glutes and abs (This motion is similar to jumping up vertically.) Do this quick snap of the hips motion while at the same time projecting the kettlebell forwards and away from the body. Keep the arms relatively straight and bring the kettlebell to waist, chest or head height, then allow the kettlebell to freely return to the start position and repeat.

2. The Clean
Hold the kettlebell in one hand. Swing it through the legs, bring it forward, and push up through the legs from the feet. As the kettlebell comes over the top of your hand to hit your forearm, grip the handle tight and also dip at the knees. This will assist you in absorbing the impact of the kettlebell. The kettlebell should lie on the forearm with your elbow tucked into the side. The wrist should be flat, and your palm should be facing inwards towards the body.

clean

The Swing will test your stamina, grip, and body coordination. The entire exercise can be carried out using one hand, switching at the top or bottom of the drill. It is important to keep core muscles tight to control the kettlebell at all times.

3. The ‘One-Arm’ Snatch
Swing the kettlebell back through the legs as you push through the feet and legs. Bring it up, snapping at the hips, sucking the floor up with your glutes. At this point, the body should be locked; the power of your drill should now have the kettlebell well on its way up. Remember: as the kettlebell comes over, dip at the knees and grip the handle to slow the kettlebell and avoid the impact on the forearm. The entire body should be locked with total tension that includes a strong core.

snatch

Kettlebells can make a huge difference in your strength, core, muscle tone and stamina. The exercises are simple but effective. Losing weight is an added bonus! Enjoy!