If you struggle with Shoulder Stability….you need this exercise!

Where are my fellow crazy wild arm hypermobile golfers at?

Yes, I’m talking to all of you who feel like it doesn’t matter what you do, your arms are in a completely different planet when you swing the club.  And that means you’re constantly struggling with timing.  Always using your hands to square the face to no avail.  You swear that you’re trying to shorten your swing but every time you video yourself, it’s past parallel even though you could have sworn you only took a half swing.  Most days your arms just feel like that are in another time zone by the time you transition in your downswing so it’s either a massive push slice or you hit it left of left in an effort to make up for the lateness of the club.  Hi friend, welcome, you’re not alone.

Of course there are a ton of reasons why this goes on, but I’m going to share with you a few exercises tonight that I’ve incorporated more consistently into my workouts that are paying off big time in terms of gaining better control and connection with my arms.

The base position for both moves you’re going to see in the video has a few different names attached to it, but essentially all you are doing is just slightly elevating an all 4’s (horse stand, bear crawl, table top) position.  And by elevating I mean only lifting the knees off the ground enough that a piece of paper could fit under it.  So before you even attempt to do what I’m showing in the video, live and breathe in the starting position.  Try holding in for 10 seconds and work your way up.  Establish a base!

The true work that will help you build those beautiful strong and stable shoulders is when you get comfortable lifting one arm off the ground, but your position goes unchanged.  That means the spine stays neutral, knees remain the same height off the ground and most importantly, you stabilizing arm remains strong.  I like using the cue of feeling like you are pushing the ground away from you to bring an even higher level of stability to the table.  All I am doing with my free arm is working through my full shoulder range of motion while keeping everything intact.

The second part of the video I am working through some scapular circles while again maintaining that awesome elevated all 4’s position.

The power of this position is that it addresses a few items.  Most importantly, shoulder and scap stability.  If you’re going to try and address a swing that is out of control due to your arms, you need those two items!  It also will leave your abs burning which is a huge bonus because having better proximal stability will lead to better control of the limbs.  Not to mention your hips are working hard here as well, it’s a head to toe stabilizing exercise of goodness.

So basically stop what you are doing, and try out these exercises.  They can benefit everyone, but to all my fellow golfers who have been banging their heads against the wall trying to get control of the arms, these are for you friends!

-S

Sliding into your next workout

Hi Friends or maybe I should say long lost friends! It’s been a hot minute since I last posted and that’s a long story for another day and post. But I’m back today and ready to bring you some new content and of course, some awesome exercises.

I was working with one of my junior athletes this week and had a bit of an epiphany that inspired a few of the exercises I’m about to share. This athlete in particular is right in the heart of some major changes physically. At 14 years old, his body isn’t growing evenly, his feet are huge and basically he’s struggling with body control. We’ve been working on basic movement patterns and more importantly, tension or bracing which is so essential to everyone at any stage understand. Creating tension is pretty difficult though, especially when your body seems to be changing everyday. So this week I decided to bust out my floor sliders because I figured one of the fastest ways to get someone to create tension is to put them on a slippery surface and tell them to stay stable.

Imagine standing on a sheet of ice while wearing shoes that have no grip, what would you have to do in order to prevent falling? You would grip using your entire body!

That’s in a sense what the sliders can do for you when applied correctly. I will give this word of caution though before I get to the exercises, please please do not add ridiculous amounts of weight to unstable movements like this. Your nervous system has to work overtime when it’s unstable and there is not much left from that to handle heavy load on top of it. Using the sliders is definitely something to do in supplement to loading movement patterns or even as a way to fire the body up in preparation for some work. Would you really want to do a heavy deadlift while standing on ice? That’s a fast way to get injured!

Ok, back to the fun part. Here are 3 of my favorite exercises you can do using sliders that are going to teach you how to tension your body.

Meet the sliding Cossack Squat.

Essentially what you’re doing here is a lateral Lunge but you’re letting the straight leg just slide out. I like doing these with a med ball or by crushing my hands together like you see in the video. This brings more tension to the table and allows for better upper body positioning. You want to load the standing leg and keep it loaded for the duration. The sliding leg is along for the ride and if you accidentally let some load shift there, you’ll be very unhappy very fast. I’m looking for quads, Glutes, hamstrings, core and even upper back to be working here. Make sure to work in a range of motion that suits your ability.

Next up is a Sliding Table Top.

I’m calling it that because that’s what I want you to imagine. Your back is a table, so stable that you could balance a glass is water on it and it would stay still. The wrists need to be positioned under the shoulders with hands at shoulder width or just outside. Get the feeling that you are pushing the ground away from you with your hands, this will engage the shoulders and bring more stability. Brace the core using your breath and slowly pull the knees to your chest. You want to keep the feeling in your feet light. Only pull the knees in far enough to maintain the table position.

And last up for some dynamic fun, this is an Alternating Lunge with a freeze.

I love jump lunges and this version is pretty cool. Once in the Lunge on the sliders, you will already have to work hard so you don’t do the splits, ouch! Use your arms to create force with the legs and think about keeping hips level throughout the motion. Brace with your breath and let an exhale out to initiate the motion. I like doing these with intensity and then freezing for a few seconds. That brings even more stability and tension to the plate.  Plus, I’m also a big fan of contrast speed work when working on building quickness with control.  Think of each rep as an all our exertion, then challenge yourself to become a statue when you stabilize the lunge.

As with all exercises, but especially these because they have a higher value to your nervous system, own each rep, don’t rush. Strength Coach Meghan Calloway talks a lot about treating each rep as it’s own set and I think that’s an incredible way to approach these challenging moves.  Quality is always a better choice especially when doing more advanced exercises.

Hope you enjoy these, happy Friday!

-Shawn

Some thoughts on coaching

I always say that the greatest lessons I have learned in my life have happened on horseback.  And today as I spent the morning riding, it provided me some time for reflection and also a good reminder of my true roll as a coach.

My sweet horse is still in recovery mode after close to 4 years of medical issues.  We’re finally getting to where I can ride her again, and this morning the little kid in me just wanted to hop on and gallop!  That’s the best part about riding horse, you feel free, you feel like you are flying.  But when I started our ride today, it became obvious that what I wanted out of time together, was not what she needed.

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See we’re still taking care of the basics right now.  Making sure she builds a base of strength and regains her mobility and even more importantly, starts to feel confident in her ability to move.  As a rider, my job is to provide her with support and listen to her body language.  If she pins her ears and swishes her tail, that’s a sign of discomfort.  If she feels heavy in my hands or trips, I know we have to put our focus away from going fast, and towards engaging her core.

This all turned into a 20 minutes of walk/trot today with a focus on transitions, backing up, going over two trot pulls to encourage her to pick her front feet up better and also plenty of recovery time.  After all that, we headed out to walk around the property and it got me thinking.

What I experienced today with my horse is one of the most important keys to being a coach.  People come to me for a lot of different reasons, but it’s essential to remember that it’s their goals not mine.  My job is to listen, provide feedback, understand all the variables that could be in play on any given day and adapt the work we are doing so they can get the most effective work done.  So often I have a client come in and what I had planned for that day with them gets thrown out the window.  As much as you may want to pull out all the fancy, difficult exercises or push someone to the point of complete exhaustion, chances are if you are working with general population, that’s not a smart decision most days.  Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Sweat and soreness doesn’t always equal a good workout
  • Always ask about stress and sleep, those two variables have a huge impact on someones ability to train
  • Be willing to adapt
  • Read body language and don’t feel like you have to complete every rep you planned out
  • There are great ways to lateralize a workout to make it effective but reduce a potential risk of injury
  • And above all, remember that it’s not your goals, it’s your client’s and you have to adapt your skill set to help them out.  And if you’re not in a position to provide them with the support they need, be willing to expand your team and get the help you need!

Being a coach in someones life is a huge role, one that needs to be taken seriously because it goes beyond just bring the person that provides a workout.  Everyone you work with has a unique story and journey they are on and they have chosen you to be apart of it!  Take the time to understand them, being willing to provide the feedback they so desperately need and never make it about your ego.  Push them when you know you can, back off when needed.  Every client that leaves you should feel better than they did when they walked in!

-S

 

 

Another Glute Killer

We’ll keep this simple today, set up like you are going to do clam shells. Lift up the top leg and reach it behind you so that your knee, hip and shoulder are in alignment and your foot ends up against the wall.

Take your top hand and push it in the ground as hard as you can and engage the abs. Now push your foot into the wall as hard as you freaking can!

Hello Glutes, nice to meet you 🙂

Try this before your workout to prime those glutes and get ready for some awesome!

Happy Saturday…….S

Clam Shells, no longer Basic

Clam Shells are probably the most prescribed, butchered, over and under utilized exercises (if that makes sense) in the history of the world.  If you’ve been to PT to rehab your knee, ankle or hip you’ve most likely done them.  And if you’ve been to PT for a broken finger I guarantee you also got them as homework for that too.  Yes, Clam Shells seem to be the cure for everything!  Don’t get me wrong, I do like this exercise.  I just want to know why the heck people are so quick to add extra resistance to them and why there is never any attention to detail being paid!  When performed correctly, this can be a really helpful exercise for engaging the glutes, but beyond that, working on hip external rotation.  That is what this exercise is actually meant to do!  However, the internet is littered with terrible examples of how to perform this exercise when in reality, the answer to making it more challenging requires no external loads!

I’ve been playing around with some techniques to get more out of this exercise while also engaging every inch of your body to assist.  And that is what I’m showing you today!  In the video, I am only going to perform 2 reps of standard Clam Shells, but you will see it takes close to 30 seconds per rep.  That doesn’t mean I’m going slow on purpose, what I’m doing is bringing an enormous amount of irradiation (tension via activation, pushing my hand into the ground, and also pushing my bottom leg to the ground) to the table and pretending that I’m  lifting tons of weight with my leg making it impossible to move.  Another way to think about this is that the air is really dense and it should feel challenging to perform the rep.

If you do this correctly, your glute will go crazy, especially on the way back down to the starting position.  An important variable to remember, you want to keep the spine lined up so a pillow will help the neck out and you also want to increase the tension in your abs to help stabilize the spine.

Hop off the couch tonight and give this a try!

Cheers friends, S

Golf warm up alert, but be prepared, this one is brutal!

Ok, it’s not really as brutal as it is difficult because you have to use every ounce of your body to make it happen!

What I mean by that is it requires a high level of awareness and engagement.  Gone are the days of just passively warming up, welcome to the world of priming your body to be at it’s very best no matter what you are doing.  I keep coming back to what Meghan Calloway posted about a few weeks ago.  Treat every rep like it’s own set.  This is so powerful in the fitness world, especially because we’re still in an era of trying to pump out 100’s of reps as fast as possible (sorry cross fitters, I’m talking about you).  What if instead of trying to do your workout as fast as possible, you slowed down and owned every inch of what you are doing?

Your warm up is what sets the pace for this, and if you can begin to mentally and physically check in to what you are doing that day, it’s amazing what you can get out of your workout.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about:

Lunges are frankly amazing, in fact, tomorrow is Lunge Friday!  (yes, get ready Friday 9am golfers!).  But so often people just go through the paces with them without a thought as to what they are trying to achieve.  I love using them in my warm up coupled with torso rotation, but today I threw the focus to the hips using some active controlled movements.  The goal with this is to achieve active external hip rotation once you step forward out of the lunge.

Here are some keys to getting the most out of this exercise:

  • This isn’t just about pulling your leg up, you need every part of your body working overtime to make this happen.
  • Consider what the feeling is when you engage 100% of your body, you are looking for about 75% of that with this exercise.
  • That means when you pull the leg up into external hip rotation, you are putting pressure into the lower abs, quads, glutes, hamstrings, feet and even shoulders.  The more you engage, the better the movement will be.
  • I’m also owning the lunge, making sure to hit every key point needed in that posture.  And as I drive up to the one leg position, I’m pushing my foot back into the ground and breathing out to elicit even more activation.
  • You can hear my breath out at the end, that’s a good indication of how hard I am really working to make this happen.
  • If you need some help balancing, this exercise can easily be modified to just doing a reverse lunge holding on to a wall or you could carry a dowel with you and drive it into the ground with each step.

And as you can see, my active external hip rotation sucks the big one.  But I am committed to improving it and finding a who new level of awesome in my body.  Just a week into incorporating more concepts like this into my workouts, my body is feeling alive!

Cheers Friends!

-S

A great drill to challenge your balance and engage the hip flexors!

Yes, you heard me right, today we’re working on the hip flexors.  These days it’s all about stretching because most people sit all day, but I’m here to present a challenge.  What if your hip flexors are week and that’s why they feel so tight?  After spending this past weekend challenging my body in ways I didn’t know was possible, it became very clear that I have a deficit in the hip flexor department.

So I worked on this drill today that engages the hip flexors and the core, while challenging you balance!  Fair warning, this one is not for the faint of heart and requires some major engagement of the entire body.

You need a foam roller or something you can wedge between your leg and torso.  The idea is that on each step you take, you will place the object in your hip crease and then use the leg to push it into your torso.  The key……stay tall in your torso and let the leg do the work.  While I’m doing this, my arms are positioned out to the side focusing on engaging the muscles through my arms and back.  I’m also flexing the muscles on my standing leg and feeling like I’m driving my foot into the ground.

The is a great addition to your warm up or even as a recovery set between strength exercises.  Give it a try and let me know how it goes!

-S

Singling out the hip

Ok, so I maybe went a little crazy today after spending the weekend taking the Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist certification.  All of the sudden, all I want to do is see what I can do with every joint in my body!  I will write more on my experience taking this course tomorrow, but tonight I wanted to share with you something I spent some time on today.

The challenge with any seminar is bringing that material back to my gym and figuring out how I want to incorporate it into my client’s programs and how it fits into with my current knowledge.

A highlight from this weekend for myself was finding out how crappy my internal hip rotation is and how much I lack control of the motion.  So today I worked through some different game plans on how to attack this, first starting with basic range of motion.  Laying supine is always a good option because it allows you the easiest place possible to leverage the rest of your body to produce enough stability to create better motion.

Here is what I did:

There’s nothing earth shattering going on here, I’m simply laying on my back with my knee stacked right over my hip and the leg set at a 90 degree angle.  This is sneaky hard though, the goal is to keep the knee in the same relative position as you rotate from the hip moving the foot away from your body.  You can see in the video that my motion is super shaky at first but begins to clean up as I continue on.  This takes a high level of focus and more importantly, engagement form the rest of your body as well.  While you rotate the hip, you want to drive your fists, free leg, everything into the ground as hard as humanly possibly.  You will be shocked at how much this just fries your body!

But the end result is a higher level of control of the motion and a body that is ready to take on anything.

Give it a try and let me know what you feel and how it goes!

-S

*As a disclaimer, make sure you are cleared to work on this specific motion before trying an exercise like this.  If you are lacking this particular motion, there can be a lot of reasons why and it’s best to know what’s going on first.  Also, it’s easy to compensate to create this motion, so be diligent in your form and keep everything else stable!

Got a duffle bag handy? Give this workout a try!

It doesn’t always have to be about pushing heavy weights or using the latest and greatest training tools.  Sometimes what you have in your house can work just fine and actually make the workout pretty fun!

I was up at the crack of dawn this morning for a seminar and wanted to squeeze a workout in beforehand since I knew I would be sitting quite a bit.  Only problem is, what the hell do I do?

Then I remembered that one of my college golfers was playing around with using her duffle bag as a weight a few months back and we tried it out while waiting for a flight.  We also got some very strange looks from people passing by.

Thankfully I had a nike duffle sitting around and I filled it with some sweatshirts to add some moderate weight.  This is the circuit I put together, you can set your timer for 20 minutes or complete 6 full rounds!

  • 10 Squats
  • 5 Pushups
  • 10 Snatches/Cleans/jump squats/something fun
  • 10 Alternating Lunges
  • 10 Thrusters (you can throw the bag into the air if you want)

Since my house is situated on a circle, I used that as a make shift track and sprinted in-between each round (about 30 seconds).

The beauty of this workout is that you can do it at your office, at home, a hotel room, pretty much anywhere you want.  This is when exercise truly becomes a part of your life, when you can wake up early and recognize that it’s all or something!

Happy weekend friends, S