Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Welcome back: Updates, Nicknames, and Shoulder health

Welcome back. You may have noticed the recent hiatus from the blog. Things are starting to come back to normal speed with High Impact and at NDAC. I truly enjoyed the spike in number of people we've been able to help, but it was fairly hectic to program and train that many hours.

To give you all some updates, we were able to help out some really great kids in West Liberty this summer, and at North Dodge Kettlebell classes and Personal Training went through the roof. It's been a blast working with everybody. There was quite a range as well. 35 athletes in West Liberty where the main sports were football and volleyball. At north dodge I've been seeing people needing help getting ready to hike mountains, lose fat and live healthy, some triathletes joined the Kettlebell class (very exciting), and even helping one female prepare to pass the physical tests for the army. It's been a great and challenging time.

Here's a few of the younger kids from the West Liberty camp. They were awesome. Tons of fun to work with.
By the end almost everyone at the West Liberty camp had a nickname. This is Sally, Amitha, and Goatcheese (from left to right). I wont go into how they earned their names.

To get on with the rest of the blog I wanted to cover an issue/epidemic that I'm seeing more and more recently, and it has to do with PULL-UPS.

Okay, the first problem I see with pull-ups is that people are not doing them enough. Shoulder problems are one of the most common complaints and problems I see on a regular basis and I'm sure there are many dr.'s and physical therapists that would say the same thing. The prime mover (muscle that does the most work) during the pullup is the Lat (latismus Dorsi), and it has huge implications when it comes to shoulder and back health.

It attaches from the lumbar spine to the humerus (upper arm bone). I talk about depression of the shoulder all the time, and this is one of the areas where I see that people are the weakest and many times the tightest. So their shoulders are left out to the wind and anything could happen.

The Pullup also requires requitment of the mid and lower traps which are also huge with shoulder health and scapular stability.
The trapezius is another area I see that is incredibly weak and many times stiff (which is different than tight, and is not good for the area at all).

The last place of functional anatomy I'll get into is the aspect of the core. I already hit on the lower back but with the pullup you'll also see a synergistic contraction through the anterior portion of the abdominals. Mainly obliques and rectus firing. I routinely get feedback that this is the area that hurts worse the day after doing this exercise.
These are just three areas, really it works your entire upper body. How many people do you know doing bicep curls every time they go to the gym? I'm just guessing but they're probably trying to make their biceps bigger when really a pullup is going to do way more for them in less time, make them much stronger, and look tons better than that bicep curl ever will.

For those that don't know me or have ever seen me, I haven't done one bicep curl or isolated type exercise like that in years and I weigh 230 lbs and sit somewhere around 9% body fat.

To get to the point I wanted to make in the beginning. What I'm seeing in the few people who do pullups is the lack of range that they get. Depth is important. Going down half way is not doing you justice. You must go down to lockout, which is when your arms are straight at the bottom. Like this,
This is actually one of our West lib high school athletes doing a very good job of locking out

If you are unable to do this and return to the top that is not a big deal. The majority of the people I work with are unable to do this at the beginning as well, it just takes time and effort. So start by lowering yourself slowly and jumping back up to the top with your legs. Working the eccentric (muscle lengthening) portion of the contraction can actually be more effective and safer anyway.

A proper Pullup should start at the bottom with the arms locked out, and should end with pulling the body as high as you possibly can, most of the time to the lower portions of the chest. Otherwise the pullup does not count. just getting the chin above the bar does not constitute a proper pullup. Pulling as high as you can (or starting as high as you can) ensures you are getting to most out of all the muscles.

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