Tag: conditioning

Summer Outdoor Workout Routine

Summer sun; summer fun. Whether you are going on vacation or enjoying the multitude of options available in our backyard, here are a few exercises that can go outdoors with you.

*Superman pushup (full or modified) – This pushup incorporates an opposite arm and leg raise at the top position to train in a transverse plane (posterior oblique fascial line) for increased core strength and stabilization. The modification for this is a kneeling pushup or finding an inclined surface, like a bench or a wall.

*Wall jump dips- With your hands on an inclined surface jump as high as you can getting your legs in a tuck position like you are trying to jump up on the wall.

*Surfers- Start by lying on the ground and jump into a surfing diagonal squat position, jump back into a plank, lower yourself to the ground, and repeat on the other side.

*Multi-directional lunges- Lunges forward, reverse, lateral, or in a curtsy target stabilizers and train proprioception in different planes of motion.

*Single-leg squat touch down- Perform a single-leg squat with a hinge motion forward and touch down diagonally with the opposite hand. For an added level of difficulty, add a pepper jump (a single-leg jump) in the top position of the squat for dynamic stabilization.

It’s important you know how to do these movements correctly for full benefit and prevention of injury. There are additional outdoor workouts in our archive that can give you more exercises to try. Contact any our fitness staff for details and instruction. Be safe this summer and have fun out there!

Swimming Circuit

Below is one of my favorite exercises in the pool because it is quick paced, but has a lot of variation in stroke. The individual medley was one of my favorite and best races; therefore I still like to practice all of my strokes when climbing in the pool for a workout. Freestyle is the most commonly used stroke, which is why I chose it as an individual set as well. It is important to practice the different components of a stroke, so adding kicks, pulls, and paddles into a workout is a huge advantage.

Warm up: 200 Freestyle

Exercise:
Set one:

  • 80 Kick
  • 100 Paddle
  • 140 Pull
  • 180 swim
  • X3 (rest for 60 seconds between each set)

Set two:

  • 40 Fly
  • 40 Back
  • 40 Breast-stroke
  • 40 Free
  • X3 (rest for 45 seconds between each set, 15 seconds between each stroke)

Cool Down: 200 Freestyle (easy)

Try this swimming workout today and let me know how it goes. If you have any questions please contact swim instructor and personal fitness trainer Amber Gruger.

Genuine Movement Lunges

“Get under the ball!” Racquet sports athletes have probably heard this ad naseum from their coaches and with good reason. Getting low to receive and re-direct an incoming ball in squash or tennis allows you more control of your shot as well as help to control your momentum and change direction. Broken down to its essence, this movement is a lunge pattern. Yet when I screen beginning, intermediate and even advanced squash players I frequently see difficulty in getting into a lunge position as well as maintaining stability in a lunge. Test your self: Align your feet in a straight line with your feet about as far apart as the length of your foreleg. Lower down until your rear knee contacts the ground and your knees are both at 90 degrees. Return to the starting position. If you can’t get into the bottom position or if your chest is strongly leaning forward in the bottom position, you are immobile in this pattern. If you can get down to the bottom position but you lose your balance, you are unstable in this pattern. If either applies, your ability to stop, change direction, change elevation and bend to the ground are impaired for racquet sports, field/court sports and daily life. If you are immobile, go back and do the Genuine Movement Mobility Routine.

If you are unstable, don’t worry. The following exercises can help stabilize you and, with frequent practice, you will see a difference in your performance in 2-4 weeks.

½ Kneeling Cable Chops

  • Get in the ½ kneeling position: one knee down, opposite foot directly in front of the down knee
  • Use wooden dowel on cable machine
  • Chop across your body from high to low
  • Return to start by reversing the pattern
  • Don’t move hips, trunk or shoulders
  • 2 x 10

½ Kneeling 1 Arm Curl and Press

  • In ½ kneeling position, hold one DB in the hand on the opposite side of the front foot.
  • Curl and press DB while maintaining balance and position of hips and shoulders.

1 Arm Lunges

  • Stand with feet in a straight line
  • Hold DB in the opposite side of the front leg
  • Lower rear knee to floor to perform lunges with your feet in place
  • 2 x 10

1 Arm Lunges Overhead

  • Identical set up as 1 Arm Lunges but the weight is held overhead.
  • 2 x 10

Test yourself as you did previously to evaluate your improvement.

Practice these exercises about 2-3 times per week for 2-4 weeks and you should notice dramatic improvement in your lunge ability and your performance. If you don’t see an improvement, make sure to contact me to determine if another movement issue is preventing you from lunging. Please contact me at hspencer@sacdt.com for all your movement needs!

How to become a runner

Whether you are preparing for a 5K, a half marathon, or the Army Physical Fitness Test, the road to improving your cardiovascular performance is relatively straightforward. There are many aspects of cardiovascular training that are often ignored and/or overlooked, but with the right approach you can avoid injury and become the runner that you always hoped to (or never thought you could) be.

The mental aspect of running can be the most challenging hurdle to overcome. Despite what you may have heard, the human body is built to run. Yes, this includes yours. It may feel like your body is not well prepared for running, and admittedly some of us do have more of a mechanical advantage than others, however that said, with the exception of those with permanent disability we all have the potential to become very successful runners. Physically we are capable of much more than we give ourselves credit for, and when you begin to run your mind will play tricks on you. Your head will be filled with frequent suggestions to slow down, alarms telling you that you are breathing too hard, and a voice devilishly reminding you that you can always head back a little early. I have found that the best way to overcome your running-averse inner voice is distraction. Find something interesting to do and take your mind off of the desire to quit. Try listening to music or podcasts, finding a beautiful outdoor route and focusing on the scenery, or even counting breaths and steps to make the time pass more quickly. Anything to keep your mind off of the desire to quit!

Now that we have discussed the mental aspect of running, let’s take a look at the physical aspect. There is a lot to consider, so let’s discuss things from the ground up:

  • Foot strike. Your foot should land lightly and in a relatively neutral position when it strikes the ground. Avoid landing primarily on your heel or your toe. Also if you can hear your foot slapping against the ground you are wasting energy and causing undue wear and tear on your joints.
  • Leg stride. Avoid bounding, as it is also a waste of energy. Your goal should be to move completely rectilinearly, and to spend no energy traveling up away from the ground or absorbing the impact of a dramatic downward descent. Also try to take long, smooth strides. Lengthening your stride is a great way to improve the efficiency of your run as it will ultimately take fewer steps to arrive at your destination.
  • Hips. Positioning your hips can be pretty subtle, so you may need some help from a friend or the mirror. Running with dramatic posterior pelvic tilt (sticking your booty out) slows you down and can create hip and/or low back pain as you progress. Instead try and keep your hips directly underneath your shoulders by tilting them forward.
  • Core. Another subtle point, one for which the mirror will be of no assistance. The importance of maintaining a strong core cannot be understated, although it is often ignored because it can be difficult to explain. For runners, good core position begins from the deep support musculature near your spine. You can practice maintaining a tight core by standing, contracting your pelvic floor, imagining a rope connecting your hips and your neck and pulling it straight up (to engage your multifidi) while also pulling your belly button in toward your low back (to engage your transversus abdominus). This should feel markedly different from “flexing your abs”, and while it is a lot to think about it is worth the practice as it will pay dividends down the road.
  • Upper body posture. Keep your shoulders back as well as your shoulder blades seated to help lessen the intra-abdominal pressure on your lungs and make it easier for you to breathe.
  • Lungs. Breathing is obviously critical to successful cardiovascular performance, but let me assure you that you can relax. You have enough oxygen and you will never run out. In fact, we are swimming in more oxygen than one would ever need to facilitate a cardiovascular workout. The limiting factor regarding oxygen is our body’s ability to utilize it effectively, not a lack of supply. Maximizing oxygen utilization comes from training, not from rapid breathing. All of that said, it is important to maintain a relaxed, rhythmic breathing pattern. The side aches that plague us arise for a variety or reasons, the most common of which is arhythmic diaphragmatic contraction (chaotic breathing). Take slow, deep, and even breaths throughout your run.
  • Arm swing. Do not pump your arms. Pumping your arms is a critical aspect of rapid sprinting, but it will do little more than waste energy during a long run. Instead relax your elbows and wrists, and try to minimize their swing. Also take care to swing your arms in the sagittal plane (straight forward along your sides). Swinging your arms across your body lessens your ability to move rectilinearly and is inefficient.
  • Head position. Hold your head high, directly over your shoulders to avoid neck stress and assist with good torso posture. Look straight ahead, but below the horizon. This will help assist with your rhythmic breathing and keep you moving forward safely without distraction.

So now you know how to run! Time to discuss the finer points of program design. Let’s take a look at how to decide where to start and also how to manage your workouts.

Selecting your start point is a very important aspect of making a successful running program. While we are all built to run, that does not necessarily imply that you have the ability to tie your shoes and go for a five-mile run this very moment. If you run too much or too fast without giving your body time to adapt injury is inevitable. For some, the best way to start preparing your body to run may be to begin walking on a regular basis. For some others, you may be ready to run but not prepared to go very far or very fast. Start off by running no faster or farther than you can handle, and focus on making cardiovascular exercise part of your regular routine. Once you are running consistently (at least three times per week without fail) then begin to work on increasing the volume and intensity of your workouts, but not before.

We also need to discuss the three big variables to consider when planning your runs: intensity, duration, and distance. Intensity can be measured in a variety of ways, the most common of which is via heart rate. For textbook cardiovascular improvement you need to keep your heart rate elevated at a level of 65% to 85% of your maximum heart rate throughout your workout. Measuring your heart rate throughout your workout can be difficult, and as such likely requires a heart rate monitor. Since not everyone has access to the equipment required I will leave it at that. If you want more information about how to use your heart rate monitor or calculate your maximum heart rate please email me (dkrantz@sacdt.com). For the rest of us, intensity can be measured on the Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) scale and with some commonsense. Using the RPE scale of 0-10, where 0 is no standing still and 10 is sprinting for your life; you should be working out between the levels 6 and 8. You can also measure intensity by paying attention to your breathing. During your workout you should be breathing hard enough to prevent you from maintaining a conversation, but you should not feel like you cannot catch your breath.

Duration and distance are both ways to measure the volume of your workout, and you should incorporate training that focuses on each. Some of your runs should be all about distance (e.g. running two miles as fast as possible), and some should be all about duration (e.g. running for 60 minutes). Incorporating runs that approach volume from each perspective will help you see steady improvement and avoid boredom. One of the biggest mistakes runners make in training is to train at the same intensity all of the time. To see improvement in your running performance it is important to vary your workouts. For example, if you are running three times per week and you can comfortably run two miles, it would be appropriate to plan three different runs: one one-mile workout at an RPE of 8, one 2-mile workout at an RPE of 7, and one three-mile workout at an RPE of 6.

Once you are performing cardiovascular exercise regularly and you have a handle on how to approach the requisite intensity, distance, and duration of your runs, it is time to think about progression. Appropriate cardiovascular progression is approximately 10 percent per week. I recommend you round to the nearest tenth-mile for ease of execution.

It is important to differentiate between increasing your workouts via percentage of distance and increasing via an absolute amount of distance. Using the example of three runs per week from before, an example of 10% progression is illustrated in the table below.

To prevent overtraining and give your body time to adapt to new levels of volume it is most effective to increase your volume in an undulating fashion, illustrated in the table below.

Lastly, here are a few general tips that you may find useful along the way:

  • Pace yourself. While interval training can be an effective way to improve your speed, add variety to your workout, and break through those pesky plateaus, varying your speed during competition will burn you out during longer runs and ultimately reduce your performance. Instead try and set one brisk pace for your events – you will do much better.
  • Warm up. Always warm up before you run, especially before you compete! Conduct dynamic movements like lunges and deep knee bends, and jog around a bit. Never conduct static stretching prior to a run, it reduces the ability of your muscles to produce force and increases your propensity for injury by creating micro-tears in your muscle fibers.
  • Treadmill running. Treadmills are great tools, particularly when the weather is bad! However they create an artificially perfect running environment, which can be misleading. If you regularly train on the treadmill but conduct your test outdoors you may be disappointed with your performance. In order to mitigate the impact of the treadmill on your competition performance always run at a minimum of a 1% grade.
  • Supporting activities. Although improving your run is best accomplished by running, resistance training and flexibility work will help you avoid injury and dramatically improve your performance. Resistance training (e.g. lifting weights) helps keep your joints strong, promote muscular balance, and makes you a more efficient runner as lean body tissue takes less energy to move around. Flexibility work (e.g. static stretching, yoga) will help improve your active range of motion and in turn increase your stride length, also improving your efficiency.

With the aforementioned approach and some dedication coupled with hard work nearly anyone can call themselves a runner.

Resistance Training for Children

For years there has been a belief that resistance training was inappropriate or even dangerous for children. This belief stems from a study performed in the 1970’s by a group of Japanese researchers that observed juvenile workers that were subjected to many hours of lifting and moving heavy objects. On average these children were shorter than their non-working counterparts. Through this observation they concluded that it was the heavy lifting at such a young age that had a negative effect on their epiphyseal plate, and in turn, resulted in a stunted growth. However, recently there has been a growing amount of evidence that suggests that resistance training for children is not only safe, but can be highly beneficial.

Researchers from the Institute of Training Science and Sports Informatics published a study that analyzed 60 years worth of studies involving children and weightlifting. The researchers found that virtually all of the children and adolescents benefited from weight training. Interestingly enough, although the older kids did have greater strength gains, compared to the younger kids the difference wasn’t significant. This study also found that, contrary to popular belief, there was no sizable difference in strength increases once the children hit puberty. There was however a difference in hypertrophy (increase in muscle mass) that was likely due to the amount of testosterone in the adolescent population. Because of the lack of noticeable size gains in children, many researchers in the past had concluded that weightlifting wasn’t an effective training method for the youth.

So how young is too young to start resistance training? The jury is still out on this question, though most scientific literature seems to point to ages 6-8. Resistance training at this age should involve body weight exercises or very light loads with emphasis on control and form. Squats using a wooden dowel or push-ups are a common method of training children at this age. Heavy loads (without proper progression) or exercises that involve ballistic movements should be avoided when training children.

For more information on youth resistance training please contact Will Paton.

Are you fit for hiking?

As the snow starts to melt and the flowers start poking their heads through the frozen ground, hikers across the Puget Sound area are dusting off their boots and trekking poles as they prepare to resume their exploration of the vast Pacific Northwest! Will you be one of those hikers this year? Better yet, will you be PREPARED to be one of those hikers this year?? Below is a simple series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles used while hiking. Most people tend to focus solely on quadriceps strength in regards to hiking. While the quads are very important (especially for the decent), the glutes and core muscles help prevent injuries to your ankles, knees, hips and back.

These can be incorporated into a regular, normal routine or at the completion of a cardio session!!

Warm-up

  • Hip Bridges – 10 reps
  • Knee Drops – 10 each side
  • Walking lunges – 1 lap (feel a stretch in the hip flexor, keeping the stomach strong!)
  • T walks/Birdfeeders – 1 lap (no weights. Take 3 steps in between each 1 to bring you to the next leg)
  • Curtsey Squats – 10 each side

Main Set:

  • Step Ups – 10 each leg (Stay on the same leg for all 10, then switch. Bring opposite knee up to add a balance component.)
  • Walking lunges with 15lbs dumbbells – 2 laps
  • Lateral quick steps over the BOSU – 10 each side (start at the side, move sideways over the BOSU staying as low as you can. Be sure to bring each foot down to the ground before you change directions.
  • Standing squats with 15lbs dumbbells – 20 reps
  • Band side steps – 1 lap
  • Plank Mountain Climbers (knee to opposite elbow) – 10 each side
  • Repeat x3

Cool Down

  • Knee to chest stretch
  • Figure 4 stretch
  • Hamstring stretch
  • Hip flexor stretch
  • Foam roll calves, quads, IT band, hip flexors

The beauty of a crystal clear swimming pool

All swimming pools have pretty much the same rules. One rule in particular will be at any swimming pool you go to, that is “Please shower before you enter the pool”. This rule is there for a very specific reason. And no it’s not to annoy you. Pool chemistry can be a tricky thing. If you get in without showering your perfume, sweat, make-up and what the day has proceeded to leave on you can throw off the chemicals of the pool. You might think I haven’t been anywhere I haven’t done anything to cause the pool chemistry to go off balance. If everyone has that thought then the pool will never be clean.

In order to help keep the pool chemistry in balance is that everyone showers prior to getting in. So, keeping that in mind on your next visit to the pool please remember to shower before you get in.

Member Spotlight: Lori Dickinson

Lori lives and works over 40 miles away from the Seattle Athletic Club. She drives here religiously every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to participate in Swim Conditioning. I can always rely on Lori to show up with a smile on her face and eager to jump in. She helps me keep count of the set they are swimming. Her enthusiasm for swimming shows in every length she swims.

She has been a member of the Seattle Athletic Club since the club opened its doors in the 1980’s. Lori started in the swimming program just a short time after joining, going from only being able to swim one length of the pool to participating in the entire workout. She has been actively participating ever since, making her three swim workouts a high priority every week. Swimming has kept her healthy, happy, and relatively injury-free for a long time, she doesn’t plan to ever give it up.

“I’ve had various competitive goals during my swimming years, for 2012 I set a goal just to compete against myself–to swim 250 miles for the year. At the time I set the goal I really didn’t think too much about it, I calculated the number of yards I usually swim in a week and multiplied it by 52 weeks in the year.

What I didn’t think about was the inevitable snow and ice and marathon road-closures that make being late for practice a regular occurrence. I didn’t think about the work and family emergencies that would pull me away from practice. I didn’t take into account a bout with the whooping cough that took swimming away as an option for a number of weeks, or the fact that both Thanksgiving and Christmas hit on swim workouts days. During the summer I realized that hitting my goal was actually going to require some pretty aggressive work on my part.

From that point forward I made it a point to stay late after class if my yardage hadn’t met my daily goal. When the club closed for the summer maintenance I joined another club to keep my weekly yardage up. As the end of the year approached I counted out the number of workouts left, added up the anticipated mileage for each one and realized that I had to swim every single yard in every single workout to make my goal. If a snowstorm or illness prevented me from getting in I knew I wouldn’t make it.

Thanks to my coach, Kelli, who was tracking my mileage just as closely as I was, I got in a couple of extra yards here and there on top of my plan. It wasn’t just my coach that kept me motivated, the other members of the class have always been super supportive of each other, so they helped a lot, too. I hit my 250 mile goal with 2 miles to spare on the last workout of the year. Hooray!”

I look forward to seeing Lori 3 days a week. Thank you Lori for all of your hard work!

A Runner’s Guide to Maintenance

Running is a very dynamic sport that involves several different joints to function in correct alignment to absorb and react to impact efficiently. A routine that strengthens to prevent injury, creates length, reinforces proper movement patterns, and treats or prevents inflammation can help you become a stronger and safer runner.

Mobility warm ups:
A general warm up might be too limited to maintain proper strength, flexibility, and stabilizer activation. Here are a few extra movements for optimal joint function.

Ankles:

  • Using a combo balance board for ankle circles, lateral and medial motion, and forward and back wobble motion. If you do not have a balance board, you can do multidirectional toe taps, ABC’s, or ankle circles.

Hips:

  • Move from a hurdler’s stretch position to a track start position with the toes up to warm up and lengthen the front and back of the hips. An alternative is forward and back leg swings.
  • Folding forward touch down to an elevated surface like a step, or grab under the toes and transition from the forward fold to a deep squat with knees out and the heels up while using the arms to stretch the inner thighs and groin area. An alternative is a lateral leg swing, pendulum motion. Make sure that you are warmed up properly for this kind of motion.
  • Figure 8’s or circles can be done in a controlled movement or in a ballistic leg swing. Make sure to maintain a neutral spine and tight core for safety.

Spine:

  • Move from a flexed spine into extension on the floor, or use a resistance band or stability ball for added traction.
  • Lateral bends reaching up and over done in a controlled movement lengthen major muscles, such as: lats, quadratus lumborum, and the psoas.
  • Lateral twists can be done in a ballistic motion from the arms or lying down with the legs as windshield wipers.

Exercises:
When it comes to an exercise routine make sure you have these simple, yet important basics in your repertoire.

  • A leg strengthener that is general and highly effective for spinal integrity, core strength and proper length/ tension relationships of the body is a barbell squat. This can be done with light weight body bars and can progress from there.
  • An upper body strengthener that utilizes core and shoulder stabilizers is a pushup. You can do a ball pushup using the stability ball under the hands for added activation and increased difficulty.
  • Chin-ups or pull-ups counter-effect shoulder elevation that is common in runners and again integrate a lot of core and stabilization.
  • An overhead shoulder press is good not only for shoulder stability, but range of motion and health of the shoulder joint. If you are doing this correctly with complete range, you should be able to extend the elbows straight with the weights held directly above you without extension at the lower back or shoulder elevation.
  • Core or spinal stabilizers have the greatest importance for endurance athletes. A plank or leg lifts for added psoas activation are great choices for runners.

Strength and mobility aspects of fitness are important to maintain as a runner to complement your running program. In addition, proper flexibility and massage will keep the body healthy and will aid in recovery. If you have additional questions, or would like more advanced options please contact personal fitness trainer Amber Walz.

Genuine Movement: Mobility Routine


Mobility is the ability of a joint to move in a functionally adequate range of motion. It is the foundation of movement ability because it allows your body to be comfortable in stable positions. Mobility is the opposite of the stiffness, tightness and restriction that many of us experience everyday. I have noticed several lower body “hot spots” in SAC members lately. Ankles, knees, hips and even upper backs (thoracic spine) are commonly tight which leads to difficulty in squats, jumping and sports. Many people assume that these malevolent joints are caused by muscles being too short but mobility is actually much more complicated. Mobility is in part determined by nervous system control of all the tissues surrounding a joint which means that increasing mobility at a joint really depends on changing the neuromuscular system. The bad news: this means that passive stretching will probably not make a long lasting improvement. The good news: using smarter mobility exercises can help you overcome immobility in as soon as 2-4 weeks of consistent practice. Genuine Movement is a program that teaches great movement ability in a semi-guided format. Here are some Genuine Movement mobility drills to get you moving naturally and spontaneously. Please contact Hunter Spencer at Hspencer@sacdt.com with questions or for more information about Genuine Movement.

½ Kneeling Stretch

  • Targets: Ankle, knee hip
  • Lean forward until you feel a moderate stretch in the thigh or calf
  • Return to starting position. Repeat.
  • Oscillate continuously for 10 reps
  • 2 x 10

Rib Pulls

  • Lying on your side with top knee pressing into the support
  • Keep knee above hip level
  • Rotate shoulders away from bent knee
  • Hold 3-5 seconds and return to starting position
  • 2 x 6

Squat Progression

  • Targets: Ankles, knees, hips, upper back
  • Use small silver box
  • Start with arms overhead
  • Bend down and touch box with straight legs
  • Continue pressing into the box as you drop your hips down into a deep squat
  • Lift one arm and look at your hand, hold 10 seconds
  • Switch sides and repeat
  • Lift both arms overhead and return to starting position
  • 3 x 6

Please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer with your questions.