Archives for August 2014

Improve Your Game with Strength

Strength. When you read that word what do you picture? Some big weightlifter holding a barbell full of weights over their head? You’re certainly not wrong. Those guys are incredibly strong, but think about this. Someone standing up after falling. Someone carrying a bag of groceries in from the car. Someone being able to move things around in their garden. Someone being able to play with their grandkids. These are all examples of strength, too.

In my last post I talked about how good movement is the most important thing we train. Well, strength is close behind. The reason is that strength is a hugely functional thing! Strength, quite simply, makes life easier. It helps you recover faster. It helps you do more things. It gives you a higher quality of life. Who wants to have to rely on someone else for everything all the time?

When I mention this to people they often ask, “What about cardio?” Well, if you’re training strength effectively then your heart is getting a workout. You should be out of breath after a good set. Strength training has been shown to improve cardiovascular health.

People ask about flexibility. Well strength can improve that, as well. You need strength to hold extended positions without injury. After all, most injuries occur when the body is in some sort of extended position. When you stretch one muscle another muscle contracts. That’s the way the body works. If one or the other isn’t strong enough to hold the position you’re trying to get into you’ll either not be able to get into the position or you’ll suffer an injury.

When I mention strength training to people sometimes they get a little intimidated. The key is that it’s all relative. What constitutes strength training varies from person to person. It all goes back to proper movement. Take the squat, for example. All of my clients squat. Does that mean they all squat with a bar on their back? Absolutely not! Some do, but others do body weight squats to a box, some hold kettle bells, some use bands. It’s all strength training and it’s determined by each persons level.

Overall, if you really want to improve your game, and your game is life, then you need to take strength training seriously and get after it. Let me know if you need any help.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

Who’s In Great Shape?

I see things a little differently when it comes to people being in “good shape”. Most people see a friend who runs a lot and think he’s in good shape. I look at how they move. I look at things like hip and shoulder mobility, core stability and glute function. Are they able to coordinate their entire body to perform a good squat or pushup? I don’t care if someone runs or does yoga every day, if they can’t perform a good hip hinge, squat or pushup then, to me, they’re just not in great shape.

I look at everyone as an athlete and I think it’s my job to help them improve their game. Their sport is life. Each day we walk, sit down, stand up, pick up things, turn around, bend over, etc. It’s shocking to me to see that so many people can’t perform basic movement patterns that will help them alleviate wear and tear on their backs, hips and shoulders. I hear all the time about people’s aches and pains. People are convinced that their backs or shoulders are the issue. I certainly don’t blame them, after all that’s where the pain is, but if I can get one point across to you it’s this:

With the exception of a blunt force injury, such as a fall or car accident, almost all back and shoulder pain is the result of poor movement patterns. 

So may times people attack the symptom, not the “disease” so to speak. It’s like Homer Simpson putting a piece of tape over the “check engine” light.

When I program exercise for people, I always think “Movement First”. It’s amazing what happens to people’s aches and pains when they perform just a little bit of good movement.

Next week, I’ll give you some specifics about how you can get yourself moving better and improve your game.

Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!

You Are An Athlete

If you were a football player you’d focus much of your training on the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. If you were a baseball player you’d focus much of your training of the fundamentals of hitting and throwing. I’m guessing that most of you reading this aren’t professional athletes but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t focus on the fundamentals of your sport, too.

What is your sport, you may ask? Simple. Your sport is life. I get asked all the time why we do certain exercises. Here is a quick and all-encompassing version of that answer: It improves and strengthens a fundamental movement pattern. Yes, that’s why we do everything.

When I put together programs for people I’m trying to “improve their game” so to speak. For example, just as a basketball player might need to work on his lateral quickness, one of my clients may need to work on their hip movement. Why is that important? Well, walking around with poor hip movement can lead to back and knee pain. Poor hip movement takes away much of our strength and mobility.

When you really break it down there are only five movement patterns that we perform:

  • Knee dominant such as a squat
  • Hip dominant such as a hip extension
  • Push such as a push up
  • Pull such as a pullup
  • Rotational movements such as turns
That’s it. Everything we do in life fits into one or a combination of a few of those categories. 
Pick up a grocery bag? Hip dominant and pull. Put the groceries away? Push. Walk? Knee and hip dominant. You get the point. I’ve said many times that I want what we do in the gym to be applicable outside the gym. It’s why I always talk about posture, as well.
Over the next few weeks I’m going to give you some ways to get you better at your sport. Please let me know if you have any questions that you’d like me to answer.
Have a great day!
Mitch Rothbardt, CPT, PN Lean Eating Coach, FMS
2861 Grove Way in Castro Valley
I Help People Discover Their Strength!