CB Athletic Consulting, Inc. Training Report
In the Media
Visit Part 1 of the "Get a Beach Ready Body" article online at Mensfitness.com: .
The June/July issue contains Parts 2 & 3 of this workout, as well as my monthly column called Textbook Muscle. In this issue of my column called Textbook Muscle, I discuss different ways to structure supersets in your workout and then I tell you which approach is best (hint: these supersets are the basis of the Turbulence Training routines).
1 - How to Workout Properly for Golf
A lot of people claim to be "golf fitness experts", but most of those same people don't have a full understanding of the body's "golf-specific" strength, power, and endurance requirements (and no, I'm not talking about the endurance needed to walk 18 holes). One guy that does know how to train properly for golf is fitness expert Bill Hartman.
Bill is a physical therapist and owner of yourgolffitnesscoach.com, but is only now getting the publicity he deserves. In an upcoming 2-part interview for the CB newsletter, Bill will outline shoulder injury prevention strategies.
But first, we encourage you to listen to Bill talk about golf training in this interview from trainingyoungathletes.com including the greatest mistake that most personal trainers make when designing "golf-specific" training programs. Here's a direct link to the interview:
Note: You will need Windows Media Player Version 8 or higher to listen to this audio. You can download a free player at:
Thanks to Chris Scarborough for the interview.
2 - Awesome Abs Without Crunches or Sit-ups
In Issue #113, Stephen Holt (the 2003 ACE Personal Trainer of the Year) gave us his research based opinion of traditional abdominal training. In Part II of his interview, Stephen answers some trick questions and gives us the magical bullet for getting a 6-pack. For more from Stephen, visit StephenHoltFitness.com.
CB: Ok, so core training on the floor. What's your opinion of that? And while we're at it, what's the correlation between great abs and getting a "burn in your abs" from crunching?
When I was an engineer at General Motors, we had a philosophy (copied from Japanese, manufacturers, of course) called "Zero Defects Forward."
If gizmo "D" consisted of parts A+B+C, in the old days we used to put A,B, and C together and then test D. Zero Defects Forward means that we first make sure each part - A, B, and C - is perfect before we put them together to form "D."
To tie in this wacky analogy with your question:
You may start with exercises like heel slides and dead bugs, for example, to make sure your abs can stabilize your pelvis while you're on the ground before you graduate to challenging your abs in an upright position. Isolation before Integration.
I often find out in assessments that most athletes can crunch all day but have inadequate strength in their "lower abs." By the way, in the book Muscles Testing and Function, Kendall describes the lower abs as the lateral fibers of the external oblique - NOT the lower sections of the rectus abdominis.
Kendall writes, "Indeed, it appears that repeated and persistent trunk flexion exercise [translation: lots of crunches] may contribute to continued weakness of the lateral fibers of the External oblique."
Even if you have to start on the ground, your goal should be to get upright to better integrate your core muscles with the rest of your body.
CB: Crunches, full sit-ups, or neither?
Trick question. It all depends on what you find in the assessment.
If assessment shows the rectus abdominis to be weak, that person may need crunches. This is rarely the case, though, since the average active person has done tons of crunches already.
If the assessment shows the psoas to be weak, that person may need to do full sit-ups. Again, most athletes have hip flexors that are already strong and typically too short relative to their other pelvic muscles.
Generally speaking, you don't have to do either to make your abs better at what they have to do.
CB: And the magic bullet for getting a six-pack is?
It's being lean all over. Direct abdominal work has virtually nothing to do with it. A quick peak at a National Geographic will show you people who are lean yet have never done a single crunch have abs that show.
CB: What role does heavy weight training and abdominal bracing have for core training?
Any time you lift a weight over your head and still keep proper posture, you're using your core.
CB: Research suggests that low-back endurance is the key to a healthy back. How can one improve their low-back endurance to maintain a healthy back?
The most ridiculous one is the leg lift or flutter kick - especially when you put your hands under your butt.
This motion is Hip Flexion. Your abs are (concentrically) spinal flexors. Your hip flexors are the muscles that perform hip flexion (duh!). So call this a hip flexor exercise, not an ab exercise.
As I mentioned before, one of the functions of your abs is to stabilize your pelvis while your legs are moving. When you put your hands under your butt, you're taking away from that responsibility of your abs to stabilize you. Your hands are doing the stabilizing.
So not only are you doing a hip flexor exercise and calling it an ab exercise, you're making your abs work even less than they normally would by cheating with your hands.
If you want to make this more of an ab exercise, however, get your hands out of the way and do it while maintaining a neutral spine at all times. Good luck.
Again, don't just think "abs," think "spine." Keep in mind what's safe for your spine and let that guide you in your selection of ab exercises.
CB: You actually place core training near the start of the workout, not at the end like most people do. Can you explain the reasons for this?
I learned that from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. One of their case studies showed that a certain NBA point guard (who I'm not allowed to name) added 5 inches to his vertical jump after making only this major change to his routine.
The theory is that core training at the beginning better sets the tone (pardon the pun) and makes your core muscles more active throughout the rest of your workout.
CB: Now most people find core training boring. Can you describe one exercise that is effective, challenging, and fun?
I tell my clients there's no reason to do a boring exercise. There's always something else that's more fun and at least nearly as effective.
My clients all love what I call Wall Ball - simply throwing a medicine ball against a wall. Turn 90 degrees away from the wall. Toss the ball sideways toward the wall in a motion resembling a two-handed backhand. While the ball's in the air, turn so you're facing the other direction (reverse your two-handed backhand), let the ball bounce once on the floor, then immediately throw it back to the wall.
You footwork should look like a tennis player warming up with alternating forehand/backhand volleys.
Of course, not everyone has a medicine ball, appropriate wall and adequate space available.
A new one for most people that's not even in our books (sorry, I just learned it) is a Reverse Lunge with Posterior Press and Reach. (Maybe one of your readers can come up with a catchier name.)
Instead of doing your reverse lunge and press with a traditional upright trunk, you lean back FROM YOUR HIP (this is crucial) and press the dumbbells up so that they end up behind the plane of your head (in other words, all the shoulder flexion you can safely handle).
This position is inherently hard on your shoulders and abs, but can be especially hard on your spine if not done exactly right. Get professional instruction and start with no added weight. Even my most experienced clients never use more than 8 pound dumbbells.
Remember you have to train your abs to help save you from this position. This full hip extension/minor back extension position is common to all sports involving throwing, catching or striking.
The reverse lunge portion of the exercise ensures more beneficial hip extension and less harmful back extension. It also anteriorly tilts your pelvis; your abs work to help you recover from that tilt and return to neutral.
CB: You also recommend a lot of rotational ab movements for athletes. Why?
Evan Osar's great book Form and Function: Anatomy of Motion points out that over 80% of the muscle fibers in the core are diagonally oriented. Voss's Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation, thankfully referred to as the PNF book, points out that all muscles are connected to our bones in spiral and diagonal patterns.
It makes sense, therefore, that we perform most of our core exercises in patterns that reflect this.
Besides, the transverse plane is your most powerful plane and ironically, the least trained plane in most athletes. Just look at virtually any sport - tennis, golf, hockey, lacrosse, baseball are all great examples - and you'll see that we humans naturally choose the transverse or rotational plane when we want to generate the most power.
CB: Any closing comments?
Like I wrote in the books (and I'm currently writing in my top secret core training book), the key to a better performing core is to forget about your six-pack.
Muscles are there to work, not necessarily to look good. Of course we all want to be more physically attractive, so go ahead and do a little rectus abdominis focused work if you must. Just keep in mind what your abs actually have to do for you to enhance your performance, then set your exercise priorities accordingly.
Stephen is also one of the reasons there are millions of websites on the Internet. His web sites include:
3 - Two Important Exercises for Your Ab Routine
A lot of readers were still struggling with how they should alter their core training routines based on the information in newsletter #113. The number one question was, "How do you obtain a 6-pack without doing endless crunches?"
As Stephen already pointed out, the key to a 6-pack is having low body fat (and a decent amount of abdominal muscle). For most people, direct ab training is probably the least effective way to get a 6-pack because crunches burn only a limited number of calories and don't contribute much to muscle growth.
To lose body fat and start showing off the muscle underneath, CB Athletics and workoutmanuals.com use the combination of proper nutrition and Turbulence Training routines. Turbulence Training is our trademarked exercise system known for its supersets of non-competing strength exercises and fat blasting interval training.
(Speaking of Turbulence Training, the next CB Athletics issue is a special PDF report covering all the details and theory of TT as well as the first two TT workouts. That means no more having to search the archives to find the absolute best fat-loss routines available today.)
Getting back to core training, we use "core endurance" exercises like the ab bridge (plank) and side bridge (side plank) to build endurance in the trunk muscles. These exercises are a great place to start your core training and help to build strong and stable abs with plenty of endurance to promote a healthy low back. If you've never heard of these exercises, please visit this link on Stephen's site to learn more.
We also encourage all personal trainers and anyone with a greater interest in eliminating back pain to pick up the new book by world-renowned back pain expert Dr. Stuart McGill. His book is called "Ultimate Back Fitness & Performance" and is available at www.backfitpro.com.
Our approach is extremely effective despite the fact that it's the complete opposite approach of most people in the gym. When others do light weight training, low periods of low intensity cardio, and endless crunches, they may in fact be doing their body more harm than good. In our case, we train the trunk for endurance and muscle control and strength, and we also get a 6-pack as an added benefit (as long as the body fat is lowered, of course!).
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