Let’s put it all together….

We’ve hit a lot of different topics this past week all centered around building your best core!  That means having optimal mobility and control of the pelvis, strong glutes, the ability to stabilize your lumbar spine and maintaining a good level of hydration.

Today we’re putting all those pieces together and talking about what I really believe is the most essential concept in building core stability.  And that is making sure you bring a high level of awareness to each and every rep of your workout as well as selecting exercises that are at an appropriate difficulty level to provide a challenge, yet still allow you to maintain proper form.  Phewwww, that was a mouth full!

I get asked constantly: What is the best exercise for the core?  Can we add more core work to the workout?  Are we working the core muscles?

Honestly, sometimes I hate the word core!  But, it’s the best way to describe the cylinder that is your mid section and glutes that is essential to everyday function.

My answer to those questions is always the same though:  Everything you are doing is a core exercise!!  Yes, every lunge, squat, pushup, pullup, kettlebell swing, plank, etc is centered around using those core muscles in the way they were intended.  Just because an exercise doesn’t make your abs burn, doesn’t mean it’s not doing something!

Here are a few of my favorite tips for ensuring maximum core involvement in your workouts:

  • Avoid the machines, please.  They suck.  That’s it.
  • If I see you loading up weight on a smith machine to do squats, we’re not friends.  Ok, just kidding, but seriously, just get away from the machines.  They provide too much artificial stabilization and force your body into potential ranges of motion that you may not have.  It’s also too easy to go heavier than you really can because the machine is providing help.  And, they mostly work muscles in isolation which is not a realistic way to train the body long term unless you sit perfectly still bicep curling your coffee to your face everyday.
  • This one is courtesy of Meghan Calloway, treat each rep like it’s own set.  Put that much attention into one single movement and give yourself time to reset before the next.
  • If you are doing an exercise that involves hip extension, get your mind on the glutes and focus on them firing to transfer the energy.
  • Make sure to breath out on exertion and feel those deep stabilizers pull inward to your spine.
  • Be aware of your rib cage, if it flares open, it’s like cracking open a can of soda that you shook up.  We want to keep that cylinder pressurized to aide in our lifts.
  • Don’t be afraid to front squat, dead lift, swing kettlebells, do lunges, load an appropriate amount of weight or even incorporate core specific exercises into your workout.
  • And finally, keep an eye on your posture throughout the day while you are sitting at your desk chair!

Here’s a little workout I did this week that involves a lot of everything we talking about this week, and is definitely more on the advanced side with a few of the kettlebell moves.  Your goal is to complete the circuit 5 times!

Remember that if you ever have any specific questions, be sure to message me, I love hearing from you all!  Happy Weekend!

-S

Beyond Hydration…..

Truth:  I suck at drinking water.  Always have, probably always will.  It’s just not a habit I ever picked up, and honestly, the only time I really commit to water is when I’m playing golf tournaments.  Sure I will have a few glasses here or there, especially if I’m training hard.  But throughout the day, it’s just not what I gravitate towards.

What I am good at, waking up in the morning and having a few cups of tea to start my day!  Now that’s something I can get on board with because it’s relaxing, therapeutic, helps set the tone for my day and I put collagen peptides in it every morning and have been getting fantastic results.

But as we talk more about optimal core function, it’s hard to ignore the enormous roll that hydration plays.  The muscles need water, it’s essential to be able to move and flex them.  Water helps transport nutrients to the cells, and it helps remove waste.  Spending all this time getting a better functioning pelvis, better activated and strong glutes and a stabilized lumbar spine is useless if you’re not going to make sure those muscles have every ounce of function available.  It’s kind of like waxing and detailing the outside of your car, but never putting gas in the tank to drive it.

So here are a few tips from one sucky water drinker to another on how to get better at staying hydrated:

  • Find a water bottle you love!  There is something about enjoying water you drink out of that really makes a difference.  I use one that has time segments on it so I have a constant reminder throughout the day on how I’m doing.
  • Use a straw, there is something nostalgic about it for some people and it’s just easier to consume water that way.
  • Add some fruit to it.  A lot of water bottles have infusers now, that’s a great way to add a little something extra to the water and make it more palatable.
  • Remind yourself about how amazing your skin and lips will look after just a few short days of consuming enough water.  Trust me, it’s life changing!
  • Remember that one day doesn’t make or break you, just start slow and build the habit.
  • Keep a water bottle by your bed so that the first thing you grab in the morning is some hydration.  The morning is when you are most dehydrated so it’s always a good idea to get at least 20% of your daily water in the system first thing.
  • A good general rule is to drink half your bodyweight in ounces each day.  If you are particularly active, you may need more!
  • Keep in mind that many fruits and vegetable have water in them as well, so you can get some hydration from food as well.  (definitely not the same as drinking pure water, but it’s something!)

Make the commitment to yourself to get better at this, I’m doing my best right now and I wish I knew why it was so hard.  But as I see my digestion, skin, lips, mobility and mental clarity improve each day, it’s getting easier to stay with it.  And maybe this is a coincidence, but I play 9 holes today and shot even par with no pain……….perhaps I’m on to something 🙂

-S

Hello Stability, nice to meet you!

Here’s the deal, everyone in my golf fitness world talk non stop about being mobile, improving mobility, flexibility, increasing rotation……basically, let’s make our joints move more.

Sorry to all you pro mobility people out there, but I’m going to head a different direction with this post and challenge you to consider another option.

I’m not saying to forget focusing on improving movement, but once statement that is often forgotten in the training world is that proximal stability improves distal mobility.  That means that if you want joint moving at their best, you better be able to stabilize them and that all starts from the center.

We talked about the glutes a few days ago, and they are definitely a part of this.  But for me, the game changer is grasping the roll of the lumbar spine and truly making it more stable.  Those 5 vertebrae are different from the rest of your spine and are not meant to rotate!  The only have 1-2 degrees per segment and equals a hole lot of nothing when it comes to swinging a golf club.  But, the lumbar spine takes a lot of crap form the rest of the body due to compensation.  If your hips and t-spine are not moving their best, they are going to ask the middle man to make up the difference.

In my experience though, if you place your focus on exercises to increase mobility in the hips and t-spine first, you are going to struggle up a storm with compensation.  Instead, teach you clients to truly understand how to utilize the muscles around the lumbar spine once they have achieved that awesome neutral spine.

Here are a few of my favorites for you to check out, the goal with all of them is maintain that spinal position and utilize those deep core muscles to get it done.  Once your client is effectively maintaining that position, then it’s time to ask them for some rotation or incorporate exercises that help provide feedback on any potential compensation.

As always, these exercises get way better if you have a cute puppy to assist 🙂

Have fun!

-S

A weekend in the woods

Anyone else spend this amazing weekend enjoying the outdoors?

Hiking is truly one of my favorite things to do, especially with this sweet pup that has turned out to be the perfect companion for my adventures.  On Friday we took on one of my favorite routes, and for once it felt like I was pulling him up the hill.  But this morning, he seemed to be the one pulling me!

Hope you all enjoyed this beautiful weather as much as we did!

And to continue on with yesterday’s post, here is another glute circuit for you to give a whirl.


Tomorrow we take on Lumbar Stability, I can’t wait!

-S

Let’s get those Glutes helping your core

So you now have a better moving, more activated pelvis capable of finding a perfect neutral position in your exercises!  But how on earth to stabilize it and truly get the most out of every movement?

The Glutes

They are responsible for rotating and extending the hips in their primary action, but they also have to decelerate motion and support your back.

glutes

Yes, you need to build a butt for the health of your back, knees, hips and if you want any chance at picking up those 20 yards you keep looking for.

This is my first stop for most of my clients when it comes to getting in tune with this muscle group.  You would be amazed how many people have no clue how to activate the glutes.  A pretty scary thoughts when you consider that most of those people are doing heavy squats and deadlifts…..can you say back pain?

As you can see in the video, I’m starting with the very basic flute activation of putting a ball between your feet and squeezing.  Once you master than, place your hands on your rear end and push against them as you hinge.  From there you will see several different variations of the hinge all aimed at getting the glutes to work when you extend the hips (return to the start position).

This next one is a guarantee of a glute burn, it just happens to be really embarrassing to do so be prepared for some funny looks.  I just tell people who ask that I am living my best glute life!

For these you place the bottoms of your feet together and push.  Before you even lift your hips off the ground, the burn will already start.  Once you get them kick started, then it’s time to lift the hips off the ground.  Hello strong butt muscles!

And here is one more that I posted a few weeks back that is a little more challenging because of the stability element but another favorite of mine when it comes to making sure this important muscle group is ready to go.

No worries if you don’t have a cute aussie puppy to help you with this one, it works just fine without the assistance 🙂

Start adding in these 3 exercises into your daily routine and see if you feel a change.  There is so much more to developing glutes than just these 3 exercises, but this is a great place to start in preparation for moving on to the fun stuff like kettlebell swings, deadlifts, squats and olympic lifts!

Cheers!

-S

Let’s talk Pelvis, and start building your best core!

Yesterday we talked about some great ways to attack the core and get the best function out of your body.  But today, let’s go deeper and take a look at the first and most important step in building a sound base that will help you reach all sorts of awesome in everything you do throughout the day.

And, instead of typing all of it out, today I’m bring you a little video blog!  Check it out!


The pelvis is truly that secret ingredient to developing your most powerful and strong self.  To get the most out of the body, you need to have proper motion as well as control over it.  But as I mentioned in the video, it’s essential as a trainer to evaluate each client individually and also understand if there are underlying issues preventing someone from achieving range of motion.  And if there is pain present, you definitely want to have the help of a medical professional to make sure you are clear to work on this.

A great example, what if your client had a fusion done to the lumbar spine?  Their ability to do this motion will be severely affected and ultimately, it may not be in the cards to spend your time trying to force the pelvis into something it just can’t do anymore.  That doesn’t mean you abandon all hope, but you need to understand the limitation when instructing them.

And if you are the client, please, please, please be transparent with your trainer!  When it comes to the spine, you need to disclose any injury, pain or even surgery.  You would be amazed how often this gets left out during an intake and it can make or break your progress of even set you back.  Oversharing is always ok!

And if you want to read even further on why neutral spine is so important, check out this blog post I did early last year!

Cheers to a better core friends!

-S

What in the core do I do?

Today I’m talking all about one of the most asked questions I get from new clients, long time clients, dogs, cats…..well, you get the picture.  The core is a popular subject and one with many interpretations on how to make it awesome.  With so much content out there on the web, it’s impossible to figure out what the best route is for YOU!  Yes, I emphasize you because when we’re talking about this subject, it can be incredibly individualized.

But for our sake today, let’s just generalize it and talk about my 5 best approaches to building the best “core” you possibly can!

To start, let’s clarify what the core actually consists of:

core

Check out those glutes!  Yes, it’s not just the abs, the core involves everything around your mid section including the buttox.  That’s why when I get asked the question “how do I strengthen my core”, there is so much more to it than telling someone to do a bunch of sit ups. (which I would rarely ever tell someone to do but let’s table that for another day).

Here are my top 5 ways to improve the function of your core!

  1.  Embrace the power of the pelvis!  As you can see in the picture, the muscles highlighted all attach or crossover the pelvis so having proper mobility and control with it plays a really big roll in developing those muscles as well as their roll in everyday function.  In other words, you better twerk!
  2. If you’re not using your glutes, it’s time to kick them in the well, you know.  Those glutes are the cornerstone of proper function.  And without them, you will be left with some rather large issues, mostly in the form of lower back pain.  But, there is so much more to their function than just a few exercises, plus they move the body in multiple ranges of motion.
  3. Learn to stabilize your lumbar spine.  The pelvis and the glutes play a roll in this part, but ultimately, this is where the abs start to join the party.  You want to find the optimal position for the lower back and then work develop stability around it.  This is crucial for so many exercises, and let’s just say if you’re a golfer, this is a must!
  4. Water, water and more water.  This may not be an exercise, but truly, the function of your core involves what’s going on internally.  If you have a lot of inflammation in the abdominal area, it makes it harder to engage those muscles.  Water can aid in keeping things moving through the intestines and better digestion which will all help in this process.
  5. And lastly, and my favorite, learn how to pay high attention to detail in your workouts so that the core is always involved and the need to supplement with extraneous exercises isn’t needed.  Yes, if you can achieve all the principles above, this will lead to better efficiency in essential exercises such as lunges, squats, hinging, jumping, pushing, pulling and definitely rotating.  And if you want to do any of those moves with any amount of speed or power behind it, the core has to be present.  I love what rock star trainer Meghan Calloway said this past week about treating each rep like it’s own set.  Imagine if you put that much focus into each rep?  That’s a whole new way of working out!

There is so much more to each of these answers than what I wrote above, so I’m excited to break each on down for you this week and share with you some of my favorite exercises that will achieve the ultimate goal of having a kick ass core that allows you the kick ass at life.

Talk to you tomorrow friends!

-S

#coreobsessed #fillthehole #proximalstability

A little about me…..

Ok, tonight I’m going to go somewhere on the blog that I haven’t been before.  And that’s sharing with you all a little more of my story and going beyond just the workouts and golf.  It’s so easy on here just to put out information, but I realized that I haven’t really shared my back story and how I got to where I am today.

There’s quite a few things I’ve been through in my life that have lead me to where I am, but something I rarely ever talk about is why I’ve ended up as the injured mess I am most days.  Yesterday I talked a little about my residual car accident injuries, and yes, those have definitely been the more recent additions to the list.  But in reality, this all started back in college, maybe even a few years before when I developed an addiction to exercise.  I know I know, how could that be bad?  Well, that’s the tough part with this particular disorder.  No one will ever question your behavior when you exercise so it’s hard to ever get help.  And at the root of the issue is someone that was desperately seeking control over their life and someone that was really unhappy with themselves.

Yes, that was me throughout college.  I used exercise as a way to deal with the unrest I felt all around me.  To those on the outside, I had perfect grades, volunteered, didn’t party or drink, worked hard in they gym and on the golf course, I basically created an illusion of perfection.  But, what was really going on is a complete breakdown in self belief.  The one place in my life where I wanted to see success was on the golf course, and I just wasn’t getting it there.  So to deal with it I turned to exercise to make myself feel better and in a way because it was the only way for me to feel in control.

To give you an idea, I was doing 2 a days, sometimes 3.  Running 60 plus miles a week and lifting weights in the gym.  Every time we travelled for a golf trip, I got up early and ran.  One time in particular, we had to leave pretty early for an event and I remember waking up at 4am and going for a run in 10 degree weather on nothing but ice.  It’s amazing how something that is supposed to help you feel empowered, just left me feeling completely weak.  And the weaker I felt, the more I exercised.  That’s when the injuries began to slowly creep in.

The breaking point for me was when my college coach sat me down after my junior year after I missed traveling to the conference tournament due to shoulder pain.  He said the words to me that have stuck with me every day since “I’m proud of you for being able to go to sleep at night knowing the best you will ever be is average.”

Just writing these words down for the first time, it feels like a dagger to my chest.  At the time I was working so hard in all areas of my life to be the best, but at the end of the day I was falling short on the golf course.  The reason my golf game was declining was because my body was in a constant state of fatigue and injury due to too much exercise.  And for the first time, here was someone telling me that I was no good enough and I had to face the truth.  Who was he to tell me I was just average?  That I could never be more than that?  How did he know what I was even capable of?  Those were the questions going through my head.

But the answer to everything was that I had to face the facts, I had literally destroyed my body trying to achieve perfection and control.  The more I didn’t achieve that on the golf course, the worse is got in the gym.  And that was the day I knew I couldn’t live this way anymore.  I had to let go of the control and be ok with whatever would happen as a result.

I will write more about the specifics of that on another day because that’s a whole other story, but I can tell you that allowing yourself to just be ok is really difficult and something that I may have to work on for the rest of my life.  What really happened though is that I decided I needed to be a coach that day and take what I’ve been through and help others.  And every day since I have worked to make an impact on those around me and have been so blessed to have the opportunities to be a part of so many peoples lives both in the gym and on the golf course.

I would love to hear from you if you’ve been through a similar experience.  Sometimes it feels weird to talk about this subject because I feel like it will just be laughed off.  What’s so wrong with over exercising?  As I sit here tonight dealing with one of the most painful flare ups I’ve had in over a year, I wish so much I could go back and make better decisions.  But I also realize that if I had not been through those dark moments, I wouldn’t be who I am today.

Goodnight friends, S

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The reality of recovering from a car accident…..

It’s been a long time since I talked about the car accidents I was in over the past 6 years.  I just realized the other day that I’m 2 1/2 years from the last one, and even though it wasn’t high speed, it changed everything in my life.  Just this past Friday, I spent time talking with one of my golf friends who has been through a lot injury wise and we discussed the mental side of pain.  It takes a while to recover physically, but letting go on the mental side takes much longer.  Funny that we were just talking about that because I work up this morning with a lovely reminder of it all.

Today is the first real flare up I have had in almost a year of the injuries from this most recent accident.  And honestly, it caught me incredibly off guard.  I spent most of the morning in denial hoping that it would just go away on it’s own, but as the day progressed, so did the pain.  Then I had to do inventory on what happened and why after all my hard work would this come back around.  The answer was simple, yesterday I had an incident on horseback where the neighbor boys shot a pellet gun near my horse and I as we walked around the property.  She jumped up and tried to take off which required some very fast reactions from me and my head snapped back.  My heart rate was probably close to 200 bpm after this and the rest of the day I was running on pure adrenalin.

Adrenalin is really good at masking pain, so it wasn’t until this morning that any pain showed up.  This is how a car accident works most times, many people will not experience pain until many days or even weeks later.  And once you’ve been in one, the body remembers so any type of physical reaction similar to that of the accident can cause a flare up.  That’s what happened to me today.

I wish more people would talk about this stuff.  Most of the time I feel like a big baby about what I’m going through and try to just pretend it doesn’t exist.  I was so fortunate in both my accidents that no real major injuries happened, but they did cause me neck and back pain as well as a huge change in how my body performs.  No one ever told me that this would come back to haunt me even if I just tripped over something.  It’s so frustrating!!  I’m doing my best to treat this like an opportunity to grow mentally and take a step back, but all I really want to do is cry or punch something, although I can’t really do that because my darn neck and shoulder hurt so much today!

Ok, enough of my pity party, there are far worse things going on in the world that the little bit of pain I’m experiencing today.

Thankfully I’m surrounded by a good support team who can be there for me during these times and help me recover.  Here’s hoping it’s a quick one so I can get back to the golf course!

-S