"Get Conditioned for Summer Sports"
"Abdominal Training - Guest Column"
"Weight Belts and Lifting Straps"
"Hydration and Heat Acclimatization"
GETTING READY FOR SUMMER SPORTS
As summer nears, it is time to turn your thoughts
toward summer soccer, baseball, and trail running. It is
important to prepare your body specifically for these activities
and not to just rush out and play hardcore.
For injury prevention, strengthen the legs
and body core (abs and low back). Strong legs will help
in any summer activity such as Ultimate Frisbee, golf, beach
volleyball, and rugby. Well-built legs will also turn heads
at the beach and will prevent your huge upper body from
causing you to topple over!
Begin with a basic program of leg presses
or squats, hamstring curls, and calf raises. Add wide-stance
squats for hip adduction training (for lateral movement
sports) and hip flexion exercises (to assist running and
sprinting). Lunges are awesome for developing single-leg
strength, balance and sport-specific movement.
The abdominal muscles stabilize the body during
sport performance. Rotational movements are important because
of the rotational component of most sports (i.e. making
a cut in Ultimate Frisbee OR returning a shot in tennis).
Always train the lower back for muscular balance to prevent
Upper body strength will aid arm stride (fast
running), tackling (for our rugby players out there), swinging
(tennis and baseball), and throwing (slo-pitch and tossing
cans of beer to friends on the other side of the pool).
The basics should include a balance of pressing and pulling
movements (i.e. a chest press + a back row, a biceps curl
+ a triceps extension). Consider the importance of upper
body strength in your sport, a little more work will be
necessary for a slugger, but less for a road cyclist or
Some team sports will benefit from an endurance
fitness base. Hopefully you have developed this over the
winter. If not, training for sport-specific endurance will
be much more uncomfortable. But remember to ease into your
sport. Don't go too hard on your first day outside or you
could end up with a nasty groin, hamstring, or other injury
that could delay your season even longer than the cold weather!
If an injury develops, treat it properly! Give it rest,
ice, compression, and elevation for two days after, evaluate
the seriousness of the injury, and determine if professional
help is necessary.
Make sure to warm-up! And remember, as helpful
as training in the gym is, there will always be some soreness
as you become re-accustomed to your summer activities.
The author of this column is Mike Zappetelli.
Mike graduated from Kinesiology at McMaster and is now a
registered massage therapist. He is also a certified personal
trainer and a successful competitive amateur bodybuilder.
Here is his take on the "upper/lower abs" controversy.
The majority of muscles contract so that the
insertion moves towards the origin, right? i.e.) biceps
brachii origin = shoulder joint (coracoid process and glenoid
tuberosity) the insertion = forearm (radial tuberosity)
Thus the contraction moves the forearm (insertion)
to the shoulder (origin).
Let's use this principle with ab training.
Some anatomists say there are upper/lower abs while others
say that they don't exist. I agree with the former, however,
the rectus abdominus ("6-pack abdominal muscle") always
contracts to flex the trunk regardless of the exercise.
The entire rectus abdominal will contract during crunches
(supposedly for the upper abs) or reverse crunches (supposedly
for the lower abs). Therefore, they are both effective at
training the same muscle group. You really can't isolate
specific areas of the rectus abdominus. However, the oblique
muscles help to flex the trunk as well and this may allow
a distinction between "upper" and "lower" abs.
- Origin: lower ribs
- Insertion: Iliac crest (top of the hip bone)
- This muscle runs from lower ribs inferiorly (down) and
medially to grab onto the iliac crest. It will aid leg
raises/reverse crunches as the insertion moves toward
the origin. Hence, the "lower abs" would include the rectus
abdominus & external obliques.
- Origin: Iliac crest
- Insertion: lower ribs
- This muscle runs from the iliac crest superiorly and
laterally to grab onto the lower ribs. It will aid regular
crunches as the insertion moves towards its origin. Hence,
the "upper abs" would include the rectus abdominus & internal
Note: The rectus abdominus is a continuous
muscle from the sternum/xiphoid process to the pubic bone.
There is no possible way (I know of) that one can only contract/recruit
a certain segment (i.e. 1/3) of a muscle. Therefore it is
active in all abdominal movements!
Mike's information gives us some ideas for
our abdominal training. It appears that all abdominal training
will stimulate the rectus abdominus but we may be able to
isolate the oblique muscles. The bottom line is to train
the abdominals with a variety of movements, proper intensity
and technique, and allow them adequate recovery like any
other muscle group.
Thanks for the input Mike! Good luck in your
future bodybuilding contests. To contact Mike: email@example.com
These pieces of equipment are common place
in the gym, but are they necessary, beneficial, or detrimental?
Using a weight belt may increase lifting safety
during heavy lifts that stress the lower back. However,
at the same time the use of the belt prevents the abdominals
and lower back from being trained. Abdominal muscles then
become weak and may be injured during heavy lifting without
a belt. A weight belt is only necessary for extremely heavy
squats and deadlifts which most of the gym crowd avoids
It is certainly not necessary to wear a belt
for bench press, biceps curls, or any other exercise that
does not stress the low back. Try your warm-up sets without
a belt and then continue to add one working set without
a belt. Soon you will be back up to your previous weight
but will also have stronger abs as well.
For building functional gripping strength,
straps may be detrimental. On the other hand, they are very
helpful when grip strength limits your ability to fatigue
other muscle groups (i.e. during pulldowns or shrugs) and
therefore have bodybuilding applicability. However, you
will not develop proper grip strength by using straps in
all these exercises, thus limiting your functional (daily
activity and sport-specific) strength and performance. So
consider your training goals before wrapping on the straps
prior to each and every exercise.
Use straps and belts with caution and moderation.
Make sure to train the forearms, abdominals, and low back
separately if you do use these aids in order to develop
muscle balance, functional strength, and a healthy low-back
AND HEAT ACCLIMITIZATION
It is very easy to take water to the gym,
or to grab a drink from the fountain, and it is essential
that everyone drinks plenty when training. However, when
beginning summer activities, consuming adequate water often
becomes forgotten. So make sure you take some cold water
to practice or strap on a water bottle when you run or bike.
The acute weight loss following exercise is
all due to water loss. Sweat is produced to evaporate heat
and results in fluid loss from the body. Performance decreases
with dehydration, therefore it is important to drink a minimum
of 10 cups of fluids (preferably water) every day. Drink
an additional two cups for every pound you lose during exercise.
Before your run or sport, drink 500ml and then try to drink
250ml every 15 minutes. Don't wait until thirsty as this
indicates dehydration has already set in. DRINK, DRINK,
and DRINK AGAIN!
Extra fluid intake will be necessary for the
early stages of the summer as you get used to exercising
in the heat and obviously you will need to drink more when
the temperature rises. Post-game drinks should consist of
water (most important), pop (no caffeine), juices, or sports
drinks (second best). Add a small amount of a protein shake
or meal replacement drink for a protein source to further
help prevent muscle breakdown. When hitting the pub post-game,
include a round or two of water with every pint to re-hydrate,
recover, and to prevent those nasty hangovers.
During exercise, heat production increases
greatly. The greater the fitness level of an individual,
the greater the ability to dissipate heat (i.e. sweat more).
Acclimatizing to the heat (allows your body to get used
to exercising in heat) increases heat tolerance but is a
gradual process. Be careful not to overheat (hyperthermia
- can cause fatal heat stroke) when you exercise in the
heat, and be very careful (or even avoid) exercising in
humidity. Prevent dehydration with lots of fluid intake.
If you must exercise in a hot, humid environment, plan plenty
of fluid breaks.
CB ATHLETIC CONSULTING