To wrap up our week-long series on Charlie Weingroff’s brilliant new DVD set Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training, let’s jump right into some more content and how I’ve integrated some of Charlie’s teachings into our training programs at Endeavor.
Own the Movement
You’ll recall from Monday that there is an important distinction between movements and exercises. As a reminder, there are ranges of motion that your body should be able to move into under control (e.g. lumbar flexion), but that SHOULD NOT be included as exercises. I recognize this may seem counterintuitive; I went into a bit more detail in Monday’s post (Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training).
Charlie goes on to describe “owning a movement” as being able to maintain the correct posture/positioning at movement end-range while taking a full deep diaphragm-driven breath. In many cases, you’ll see someone pull back from the end range of the movement a bit as they take a deep breath, which can be indicative of a couple things:
With rare exception (e.g. a position where a forceful inhalation presses the belly out into an individuals thighs, causing a slight movement), it should be possible to breathe comfortably in end ranges without compensatory movement. Don’t just have it; own it!
High vs. Low Threshold Strategies
As a VERY brief neuroscience reminder, low and high threshold refer to the characteristics of motor units driving muscle contraction. Lower threshold units tend to produce less force, but be less fatiguable (better endurance), and higher threshold units tend to produce more force, but be more fatiguable. Depending on the primary role of a muscle (or muscle group), certain muscles will have a higher proportion of either lower or higher threshold motor units. As a result, simple movements like standing that only require minimal muscle contraction to maintain appropriate alignment can be controlled by “low threshold strategies.” In contrast, a max effort vertical jump or sprint would require a “high threshold strategy.”
Problems arise when we start to use high threshold strategies for movements and exercises that should only require low threshold strategies. This caused an “ah-ha” moment for me and will change the way I cue certain exercises at Endeavor. For example, a front plank shouldn’t be overly difficult. It’s inappropriate for someone performing a front plank to squeeze their butt and core as hard as they can while holding that position because it’s reinforcing using muscles groups that are primarily responsible for high force/power production for low force/power movements/exercises. Instead, the goal should be to set the athlete up in proper alignment, cue them to breathe using their diaphragm, and let them hold it using a more natural strategy.
In contrast, an exercise like a slideboard bodysaw may require a more high threshold strategy, and therefore cuing some of the larger prime movers is more appropriate.
Tuck your chin!
Endeavor Program Changes
In all, I took a little over 5 pages of notes while watching Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training. The DVDs gave me a lot of ideas, stimulated a lot of questions, and provided a number of other resources that I’ll need to look for to get some more information on different things Charlie talked about (or alluded to).
I rarely immediately incorporate new exercises into our athletes’ programs because I want to take time to experiment with them first. This allows me to better understand where the exercises fit within our program design philosophies, as well as how to teach and cue the exercises. With that said, I was also able to pull a few concepts out and start using them immediately as they pertain more to coaching cues than exercise selection.
One of the major themes of the DVDs was understanding the importance of the “inner core.” This was something that Joe Heiler hit on really well in my Ultimate Hockey Development Coaching Program. In this regard, packing the neck to promote proper spinal alignment and breathing using the diaphragm seemed to be two recurring recommendations for stimulating proper inner core function that we don’t cue a lot (or weren’t cuing a lot).
The deep cervical flexors are an integral part of the inner core
While I think packing the neck (think of getting tall and pulling the chin in) is a cue that can be universally applied to just about every exercise (including squatting, deadlifting, single-leg lifts, and all core work), an emphasis on focused diaphragm breathing needs to be taught differently for core exercises and other exercises that may fall more toward the “lower threshold strategy” end of the continuum in comparison to some of the heavier lifts.
Preparing for a deadlift PR
In comparison to the controlled breathing of lower threshold strategy exercises, high threshold exercises will require more of a “fat gut” isometric contraction of the core hoop with a diaphragm driven breath to pressurize that area. This breath is only partially released and refilled in between reps, so the athlete never fully exhales until the set is over. From an external perspective, you shouldn’t see much lower rib or abdominal movement in these exercises, whereas you may during an exercise like a front plank.
Lastly, another way to stimulate the inner core is through basic “soft” rolling patterns. Charlie highlighted a 2-way arm-drive roll and a 2-way leg-driven roll that we’ll eventually add to the end of our mobility/activation warm-up pairs once I get a firm grasp on how to teach and cue them. As with all stimulation/activation exercises, the goal is just to get the muscles firing in the patterns they’re supposed to be active in, allowing them to naturally integrate into other movements/exercises.
If you haven’t already, go to the link below to pick up your copy of Training = Rehab Rehab = Training. It’s been a huge eye-opener for me. It’s one of the few “must-have resources” I’ve come across to date.
Click here now to get your copy >> Training = Rehab, Rehab = Training
To your continued success,
P.S. Last chance; this starts this week! 2011 Sports Rehab to Sports Performance Teleseminar
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.