What happens when you only have 15 minutes to workout? For the majority of us 15 minutes means nothing happens. A lot of time we get it in our heads that we have to have at least 30, 45, or 60 minutes to get a workout in and anything less wouldn’t be worth the bother. Well as I can report from my own experience and any of my clients that show up late to a session can attest, a whole lot of good stuff can get done in 30 minutes or less.
One great way to making efficient and productive workouts in a very short amount of time is to:
Use big muscles
Use power exercises
Incorporate full body movements
Take few rests
One very valuable exercise for any workout but especially for short workouts is the Kettlebell Front Squat. Here’s how it goes…
Grab one kettlebell (for progression use two kettelbells in rack position), hold it tight to your chest with your hands on the low part of the handle and maybe slightly on the round part of the bell (see left side picture). With the bell on your upper chest descend down into a deep squat. Getting your thighs below parallel should always be the goal (see right side picture). However, to get to full depth in any squat you need to keep your feet flat, your chest up, your hips under you (not behind you), and to maintain tension in your muscles (not relaxing in the bottom). This is the easiest with weight on the front of your body as the weight counterbalances your backside. So not only is the KB Front Squat great for strength it is also a great exercise to help you understand posture in a full depth squat.
Why is this squat so darned good? Front squats are one of the best ways to increase strength in your quads, which in turn increases stability in your knees. The increase in depth also helps you fire more muscle fibers which will in turn increase your heart rate as well as caloric burn. Using your big muscles means a lot of effort goes into the movement thus increasing the results of strength from the exercise.
Here is a very basic and fun way to incorporate the front squat with a short and effective workout. So the next time you only have 15 minutes to workout there should be no excuses!
10 Kettlebell Front Squats
10 Bench Tricep Dips
10 Kettlebell Front Squats
10 Ab Crunches on the exercise ball
10 Kettlebell Front Squats
1 Minute “Sprint” on the Elliptical.
Repeat for a total of 3-5 times through.
For more information on effective workouts please contact Adriana Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
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
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.
As soon as you walk into a gym you are instantly bombarded with high outputs. The focus is often the number of reps you can do, the amount of weight you can move or the number of calories you just burned on the elliptical. Often lost in this fray is a whole class of exercises that focus on high inputs; exercises that provide a stimulus rich environment to foster accelerated motor learning. These exercises, termed corrective exercises, often involve seemingly simple mobility and stability challenges that become quite difficult if any limitations are present. The purpose of these exercises is not to become fitter or stronger but rather to give your body the opportunity to improve its movement ability. This increased movement ability then serves as the base from which performance goals are attained and surpassed. Corrective exercise trains the brain-nerve-body connection known as the neuromuscular system and can result in rapid improvement. As with any type of learning, motor learning takes place very quickly but must be practiced often to be maintained. Let’s take a look at an example of a fundamental movement and some corrective exercises that can improve it.
The Active Straight Leg Raise (ASLR) has you lie on your back, press one leg down into the floor and then raise the other foot as high as you can. The end position should look like an “L” with your legs while your back and tailbone remain flat on the floor. Other than AcroYoga practitioners, most people do not need to lie on their back with their feet elevated as high as they can so it is easy to dismiss this test as foolish. But, as is often the case, this is a functional movement not because it looks like a certain activity but because it contributes to healthy movement. Proper execution of the movement requires hamstring flexibility, pelvic stability, hip mobility to disassociate each leg, neuromuscular inhibition (well-timed relaxation) of the hamstrings and calf muscles, healthy abdominal function and proper quadriceps and hip flexor function. These requirements are also necessary for any movement requiring independent movement of the legs such as walking, stepping and running, indicating that the Active Straight Leg Raise is indeed functional for all bipedal locomotors and improving a dysfunctional pattern is worthwhile.
Corrective exercises need to focus on resolving the most limiting factor so if during the ASLR test you feel tightness in your hips and groin as your legs separate, the following progression can be used.
In the first exercise, one leg is supported with the foot as high as possible and the other leg is lowered and raised. Beginning with one foot elevated and supported lessens the stability demands in the pelvis and trunk, providing a good environment to learn how to move the leg through a progressively greater range.
In the second exercise, the elevated leg is not supported, increasing the requirement for stability but still providing a good opportunity to experience a full range of motion.
Often, a few minutes of these exercises can result in rapid improvement that cannot be accounted for by a physical change in the muscle tissues. Instead, the corrective exercises teach neuromuscular skills like the abilities to relax the hamstrings, activate the abdominals and use proper breathing to diminish muscle tension. The corrective exercises are described in more detail in the video blog here. These are just two of many corrective exercises that can be used to improve the ASLR and function of the lower limbs and trunk generally. As these exercises demonstrate, corrective exercises are a powerful tool to quickly improve your movement ability. Investing a few minutes into this type of high input exercise will help you develop a solid base from which to pursue higher outputs than ever before.
If you are interested in corrective exercises like the Active Straight Leg Raise or any other fundamental pattern, please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Hunter Spencer.