fitness

Full body training splits for strength and size

Another guest post for breaking muscle today, looking at the benefits of using full body training splits for the development of strength, muscle size, and aiding fat loss.

Unfortunately full body training splits are often underutilized, in which they are frequently recommended for beginners as a way to get 'introduced' into a gym setting.

I sat unfortunate because full body training splits are hands down the most time effective method of training, and can cause vast improvements in both performance AND body composition (with what is a relatively small time commitment).

Find out how to implement them HERE

Seriously, click the link..... You know you want to

Is Stretching Really Dead?

With the rapid rise of foam rolling and a host of other effective (and often brutal) modalities of self-myofascial release, stretching has experienced a huge decline in popularity.

This has also coincided with some studies appearing within the scientific community demonstrating that prolonged periods of static stretching can lead to significant reductions in power production and force output (AKA it makes you weaker).

But, does that mean that stretching has no place in our training programs?

hunter bennett performance adelaide based personal training

 

Stretching and power output.

The first point I do want to address with this blog post is the impact that static stretching has on power output. After the initial research undertaken on this topic, stretching was demonised as useless, pointless, and harmful.

As such, while it is often considered common knowledge that static stretching leads to reductions in performance, this isn’t actually the whole story.

While longer duration static stretching (greater than 60 seconds in duration) can lead to reductions in power output immediately after stretching, this effect is not seen for stretches performed for 45 seconds or less.

And seriously, who actually stretches an individual muscle for more than 60 seconds at a time?

So this suggests that short bouts of static stretching will have NO negative effects on performance, which means that you can stretch without the fear that your workout will suffer.

 

Should we stretch?

So if stretching doesn’t affect our physical performance, does that mean we should stretch?

Like almost all of my answers to any training related question…… it depends.

We know that stretching does indeed increase flexibility – that is fact. But whether we need to stretch is a different story entirely.

In my opinion, stretching certainly has its uses – when used correctly.

With the excessive (and often detrimental) amount of sedentary activity we perform each and every day, some muscle tissues will become short and stiff. It is these shortened tissues that, in my personal experience, respond well to stretching.

By stretching these specific muscles, we can return length to muscles are in a shortened state, while also improving joint range of motion, and movement quality as a whole. This can often lead to improved performance, and a decreased risk of injury.

AKA it is good.

But, there is a bit of a kicker.

It is extremely rare that those muscle groups that feel tight, are actually tight.

I have written about this extensively HERE, but often, those muscles that feel tight are actually in lengthened state, due to; A) An antagonistic muscle group being in a short and stiff state; B) excessive weakness of that lengthened muscle group; or C) a combination of the two.

A simple example of this would be the guy who is always stretching his hamstrings because they feel tight, despite them never getting better. This is probably because those hamstrings are in a lengthened position and already under stretch (hence why they feel tight). The issue is most likely tight antagonistic muscle groups (rectus femoris and the hip flexors) and weak hamstrings.

Not tight hamstrings.

 

hunter bennett performance stretching

 

So how do we know what to stretch?

This is pretty simple.

Assess and then reassess.

Check movement, and If movement is poor check range of motion at specific joints. If ROM is limited, then a specific muscle is likely tight. Stretch that muscle (or muscle group), then reassess. If A) range of motion has increased, or B) movement has improved, then you have probably found the tight muscle.

An example of the process might look something like this.

We assess a squat, and get early pelvic tucking. We then perform the Thomas test to assess hip flexor length and find that they have tight hip flexors. We then stretch the hip flexors and ideally, Thomas test improves AND the squat improves.

Now this is an extremely simplistic (and idealistic) scenario. In the real world there is a chance that the squat performance will not improve despite and improvement on the Thomas test – this would suggest either a stability issue, or a motor control issue.

But, I am getting a little off topic here.

With all that in mind, I am trying to demonstrate the potential benefits of stretching, and why it should not me discarded completely.

More so, stretching can become an extremely useful tool to improve both movement and range of motion when used correctly, and should not be ignored because of some of the early research showing its influence on performance.

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Why Gender Specific Training is Bullshit

Misinformation within the health and fitness industry is rampant.

Unfortunately, this is an unyielding truth that we have to come with terms with.

While I feel that exercise professionals (such as myself) can help play an important role in changing the poor practices that this misinformation does produce, it is not as simple as it may sound.

This misinformation is spread frequently and expertly within mainstream health and fitness magazines, TV commercials, and YouTube videos AND despite zero scientific evidence (and arguably zero logical thought progression) to support it, it is gobbled up due to clever marketing that plays heavily on our insecurities.

One such claim that seems to circulate a lot more frequently than some others, is the suggestion that females should train differently to men.

This suggestion is an absolute joke that does nothing more than perpetuate the myth that if a women lifts heavy weights she will become ‘big and bulky’.

This, from my perspective, has two negative repercussions.

1.       It leads to the suggestion that weight training is not a suitable form of exercise for women – which the title of this post suggests, is a load of rubbish

2.       It continues to build the idiotic perception of an ideal female body. Seriously, who has the right to suggest that a female with a muscular physique is unattractive? What people find attractive is none of your business. Furthermore, people show a large number of anatomical and physiological differences (AKA we look different) – as such there is no such thing as an ideal body.

So building on that first point, I am here to tell you that women should lift heavy ass weights, and subsequently, gender specific training is misinformed jargon spread by mainstream fitness 'gurus' who haven’t trained a real client in their lifetime.

Lifting heavy and building strength is key (photo from T-nation.com)

Lifting heavy and building strength is key (photo from T-nation.com)

 

Strength is King

Lifting heavy weights build strength.

I don’t care what anyone says, strength is incredibly important for EVERYONE, no matter their goal or current training level. Strength limits the amount of work we can perform in a session, it dictates our upper limit of power production, and it plays a large role in our rate of functional decline.

By increasing strength, we can improve the amount of volume we can handle in a given session. This can improve our ability to achieve body composition related goals (AKA losing fat and building muscle).

Furthermore, as we age our strength declines. This will eventually limit our ability to perform general tasks of daily living. Subsequently, by maintaining strength we can maintain our functional capacity into our older age.

This will allow us to maintain a high quality of life for our lifetime.

I don’t think you would find a single person who would say that those are not important for females (or males for that matter - EVERYONE should strength train).

 

BUT wont lifting heavy weights and getting strong make me big and bulky?

In short, no, probably not.

While building strength (and lifting heavy) does unquestionably play an important role in building muscle tissue, this process is actually quite difficult for females.

This can be put down to a a number of various gender specific differences in hormone levels and physiological factors.

Ultimately, to summarize without getting too wordy, women will have a much harder time putting on a muscle mass than men.

While lifting heavy will add a small amount of muscle mass, it is not going to turn you into a body builder (not that there is anything wrong with that).

In fact, I have written extensively HERE about how strength training can improve body composition and promote fat loss WITHOUT causing massive increases in muscle mass.

 

Bone Density

While this may be a little on the boring side, it still holds significant importance.

Females are susceptible to becoming osteoporotic later in life (even more so than males). This susceptibility actually increases after the onset of menopause.

While there are a number of dietary factors that can play a role in maintain a high level of bone density, so can strength training.

Heavy loading has shown to stimulate an increase the production of bone cells. This can lead to a significant increase in bone density, reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis. As a result, strength training can play a HUGE role in osteoporosis prevention both before and after menopause.

Strong Bones...

Strong Bones...

 

Strength Training Builds Confidence

There is nothing better than hitting a new PB in the gym.

Overcoming something that you have been working towards steadily for months truly shows that the hard work you have been putting in has been paying off.

I believe this is truer for strength goals than body composition goals as they provide a tangible measure of improvement.

Getting stronger and achieving new strength goals is rewarding – way more so than lifting a 3kg dumbbell repetitively (unless your into that of course – who am I to judge?).

And maybe more important than the knowledge that you are getting stronger in the gym, is the knowledge that this strength carriers over to other aspects of life too.

This might be as simple as being able to move your own furniture without assistance, change a car tire easily, or escape from a horde of hungry zombies.

All silliness aside, you get my point.

Being able to do difficult things independently is both empowering, and a massive confidence booster.

 

So, to conclude.

Gender specific training is a joke.

Lifting heavy has HUGE benefits for males and females alike. This holds true from a health perspective, a body composition perspective, and a performance perspective.

 

 

If you want to start strength training, but don't know where to start, fill out the form below!

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Why You Need Aerobic Training!

A thought process that is frighteningly common within the fitness industry is that if you partake in too much aerobic exercise (whatever 'too much' means…), you will end up small and weak (AKA you’ll lose all your gains, brah).

Unfortunately, this is a very poorly understood concept.

Yes, while it is true that if we spend hours upon hours each week training aerobically, we can limit our capacity to develop strength, power, and increase muscle mass.

BUT

Building an efficient and effective aerobic system by using smart training methods can have a number of benefits, no matter what your training level and training goal.

Hunter Bennett Performance Aerobic training Personal training adelaide

 

Improved Recovery

Something that a lot of people fail to realize is that no matter how hard or smart we train, if we don’t recover effectively, it is all a little useless.

Adequate recovery allows us the opportunity to adapt to the training stimulus, while providing time to repair damaged tissue. If we don’t recover adequately, we do not allow the body enough time to adapt to the training stimulus, which can blunt the results of our training.

When it comes to having a well-developed aerobic system, we can actually improve recovery through two key mechanisms.

Firstly, participating in low intensity aerobic activity on our rest days can promote blood flow to the active tissue, clearing metabolic by-products associated with muscle tissue damage, and increases the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, which further promotes recovery.

Now when I say low intensity I mean low intensity – As in a very light jog or a brisk walk (AKA NOT tempo runs, sprint intervals, or a casual metabolic workout).

Additionally, participating in this type of activity can reduce our resting heart rate and increase capillarization of our muscle tissue, which can lead to a more efficient cardiovascular system.

Secondly, having a well-developed aerobic system improves our training capacity by improving our ability to recover during a session.

By recovering more in between sets, we can perform at a higher intensity during our working sets. As a result, this can lead to improved strength and power development as pretty simply, we are getting more out of each training session.

This can also lead to an increased amount of training volume, which has the capacity to improve muscle growth and hypertrophy, while also promoting fat loss.

 

Improved Performance

Now this one is a bit of a no brainer, but for those of us who compete in some form of field sport, having good aerobic capacity can make the difference between a very good or very bad performance.

The greater our aerobic capacity, the more work we can perform at a higher intensity. This means we can move faster, produce more force, and express more power for the entirety of a match, which will undoubtedly translate to improved performance throughout the games duration.

Interestingly, having good aerobic capacity is also likely to improve our ability to perform sport specific skills at a high level.

Fatigue masks or limits our ability to perform skills at a high level. By staving off fatigue, we increase our capacity to perform skills at a high level, which again, is detrimental to performance.

This also works in a similar fashion during training.

By having an improved aerobic capacity, we will get more opportunity to practice sport specific skills at a high level. This improves our skill development, which further increases our potential for athletic performance.

 

Practical Implications

So we know that having a well-developed aerobic system may actually improve our capacity to develop strength, power, and skill development.

It may also improve our capacity for muscle growth and fat loss.

Additionally, participating in some form of low intensity aerobic activity on our rest days can improve recovery significantly.

But how much is too much?

As suggested earlier, too much aerobic training can actually limit our ability to develop strength and power, and build muscle tissue, but not enough can actually impede our progress.

So what do we do?

Well, like most things, it depends.

For someone who needs a well-developed aerobic system (AKA a field based athlete), we need to place a premium on aerobic work. This is because it is integral to their successful performance.

This is most likely going to mean 2-3 high intensity conditioning workouts a week – particular during the early stages of preseason, where general physical preparedness is the training focus. This volume is likely to decrease during season as maintenance and recovery become the primary focus.

During this time strength training load needs to be managed closely to ensure we still develop strength and power.

For those of us who don’t play sport competitively, we can most likely get away with 1-2 high intensity aerobic conditioning sessions per week, with an additional 1-2 low intensity recovery sessions per week. This gives us an opportunity to develop our aerobic system, but not so much that it effects our other areas of training.

This will be the minimum effective dose to improve aerobic capacity and promote additional recovery, which should supplement our other training goals.

 

If you would like to start integrating aerobic training into your training, contact me via the form below.

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Improve Thoracic Mobility to Reduce Injuries and Increase Athleticism

‘Thoracic mobility’ (OR T-spine mobility, depending on who you talk to) is one of the buzzwords in the health and fitness industry at the moment.

And for good reason.

Poor thoracic spinal mobility can lead to a number of dysfunctions, including low back pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain. 

Poor thoracic mobility can also limit our movement quality and athletic performance.

The thoracic spine describes the 12 vertebrae of the upper back and abdomen that sit between the cervical spine of the neck and the lumbar spine of the lower back.

Each thoracic vertebrae has articulations between its neighbouring vertebrae (above and below), and to the attaching ribs.

Now, if we were to look at each segment of the spine, they each play an important individual role in movement.

The lumbar spine is a stable segment that provides a strong supportive base for the muscles of the trunk.

The lumbar spine does not have much mobility, as it is designed to bear and withstand load rather than create movement.

By acting as a stable support structure, it can aid movement and force production at the hips.

The cervical spine is similar.

While it allows much more movement than the lumbar spine (we need to be able to look around) it is still considered a stable joint, as it provides essential stability to the fragile neural structures of the neck.

But the thoracic spine is somewhat different.

It is actually considered a mobile joint, and is the spinal section that has the largest range of movement.

This is important as it allows us to rotate, flex, and extend. 

All of which are extremely important during running, sprinting, changing direction, jumping, and during throwing movements.

BUT.

In the wonderful age of technology that we currently live in, we spend a lot of time sitting (and not a lot of time moving).

This results in REALLY stiff and immobile thoracic spinal segments, which as you can probably guess, is not good (this thoracic stiffness is often typified of excessive kyphosis and forward head posture).

If a segment of the body is lacking essential mobility, we tend to find it at another segment.

This is a compensation pattern that allows us to complete the movements required, despite lacking the mobility to do so.

While these compensation patterns are helpful in the short term (they allow us to move), they can lead to chronic dysfunction further down the track.

In the case of the thoracic spine, if it is lacking mobility we are going to find mobility at the lumber spine.

Now, as we mentioned earlier, the lumber spine is not actually made to move much at all.

Rather it is meant to act as a stable base from which both the thoracic spine can rotate, and the hips can move freely to produce force. 

If it is forced to become more mobile, this is going to lead directly to dysfunction, and may also have negative effects further down the kinetic chain.

Firstly, we lose stability at the lumbar spine.

This is an issue in itself, because if the lumbar spinal segments move more than they are supposed to, we can irritate both neural structures of the lumbar spine, and the passive support structures around the spinal segments.

This can lead to low back pain and low back irritation.

Secondly, by losing stability at the trunk, the lower limbs no longer have a stable base to produce force.

To try and get the point across with analogy (who doesn’t like a good analogy?), picture a slingshot.

If you hold the base of the slingshot firmly, you can load and shoot much further. If the base of the slingshot is held lightly, it is going to be loose and weak, and your ability to shoot with it is going to be limited.

Now, the base of the slingshot represents the trunk, while the top portion represents the hips (or upper limbs… works for both really).

When the trunk is stable, we can produce great amounts of force at the hip.

If the trunk is too mobile, that force production is limited.

Additionally, it is quite common to see the muscles surrounding the hips try to produce the stability lost at the spine.

This results in shorty and stiff muscles surrounding the hip joint, which can lead to limited movement of the hips, potentially leading to a soft tissue injury, or an injury of the surrounding joints.

And, just to make things worse, having poor thoracic mobility can also increase our risk of developing shoulder injuries.

Many movements above the chin require a significant amount of thoracic extension to be completed safely and effectively.

If we think about overhead movements such as overhead presses, push presses, overhead squats, snatches, etc, etc, etc (the list goes on and on), they all have something in common.

They require the ability to get our arms over our head into full shoulder flexion.

Now, thoracic extension is a big part of this.

If we have a mobile thoracic spine that can extend easily and with good range of movement, it actually requires less shoulder flexion to get our arms over our heads.

This ensures we rely on the muscles surrounding the shoulder joint and shoulder girdle for stability.

BUT,

If we have poor thoracic spinal mobility (stuck in thoracic flexion), we have to use more shoulder flexion to achieve the same overhead position.

This can place unnecessary load on the passive support structures of the shoulder joint, increasing our risk of developing injuries.

So to summarise, if we have poor thoracic spine mobility we are at an increased risk of lower back, shoulder and hip injury, AND our force production is limited.

AKA it’s not good.

Fortunately, there is something we can do about it.

We can use specific thoracic mobility exercise to increase our range of movement at the thoracic spine, making it more mobile.

 

Improving mobility of the thoracic spine

Thoracic spine mobilization on the foam roller

The trick here is to slowly extend the thoracic over the foam roller as you exhale.

The movement should be controlled and gentle.

Try and spend a 4-5 of deep, slow breaths on a single vertebra before moving onto the next one.

By supporting the head you limit cervical extension.

 

Thoracic spine extensions on a bench

This is an awesome drill that allows us to improve thoracic spinal extension while also stretching the lat’s.

The idea here is to slowly sink into extension while exhaling.

You should spend a little bit of time and the end of the movement, slowly increasing range of movement in the bottom position.

 

Side lying thoracic rotation

The idea here is to slowly rotate and extend through the thoracic spine while keeping a tight hold on a foam roller between the legs.

This ensures that the lumber spine remains stable and locked into a neutral position, allowing the thoracic spine to move freely.

You can also spend a bit of time hanging out at the end of the rotation, ideally taking some deep breaths.

This allows you to increase that end range of movement.

 

Quadruped thoracic rotation

Another great way to increase movement at the thoracic spine.

Again, keep the lumbar spine stiff and still in extension.

All the movement should come from the thoracic spinal segments.

The movement should be slow and controlled, while trying to get a little more range each rotation.

 

So now all we need to do is put it all together.

These exercises should be included as part of our warmup on both upper body and lower body days as it can improve our stability at the lumber spine while improving our capacity to produce force at both the hips and shoulders.

A sample warmup on an upper body day might look something like this:

Foam roll:
Pecs, Lats, Thoracic Spine

Mobility:
Thoracic spine extension on the foam roller x 15
Thoracic spine extension on bench x 15
Side lying thoracic rotation x 15/side
Quadruped thoracic rotation x 15/side

 Individualized upper body activation/ dynamic movement preparation

Individualized upper body session

 

I hope this post provided a thorough explanation as to why having adequate mobility of the thoracic spine is important for both injury prevention and performance, while also providing some simple and effective exercise to improve thoracic mobility.

If yo want to have a chat, or organise a time to train, contact me today!

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What is functional training? Answer: The most overused term in the fitness industry

We've all heard it before.

“I’m into more ‘functional’ training”

Often said by that guy wearing those weird Vibram finger shoes while doing band assisted single leg squats on a stack of 4 foam pads.

hunter bennett performance. Functional training, stability ball, balance, strength, resistance training, athlete

 

But what does the term 'functional' actually mean? Heck, does it even really exist?

In my opinion, there isn’t really a specific type of training that is ‘functional’, but rather an exercise becomes functional if it improves the ability of a particular function. Now obviously this could mean anything, but it’s true.

It’s all in the context.

Now some people will suggest that squatting on a bosu ball is functional. My most common response is ‘why?’

Funnily enough, the answer I often get goes something like this – “uhhhhh ummmm…. Glutes…….. ummm balance….. stability”. In other words – “I don’t know”.

Now if the goal is rehabilitation of an ankle injury, then squatting on a bosu ball may be considered perfectly functional, as it has a direct impact on the outcome goal, which is returning stability to the ankle joint.

In similar light, the bench press normally gets torn to shreds by ‘function fitness gurus’ for being useless, as it is not ‘functional’.

But what if my goal is to get a stronger bench press?

Suddenly it becomes pretty functional, right?

Similar to the leg press. I would argue that majority of people in the fitness industry would say it’s not functional. But what if you’re a rower? A sport that requires you to be in the seated position, pressing through both legs simultaneously, requiring minimal lower body stability component? Suddenly it’s functional.

If a body builder wants an additional assistance exercise to promote hypertrophy of the quads? Leg press probably has a function. But as a sprinter, or a field athlete, it becomes less functional as it becomes less specific to their performance goals.

So what I’m actually getting at is that we should always consider our exercise selection carefully. Any exercise could be considered ‘functional’ if it provides an appropriate way to achieve a particular goal.

We shouldn’t do exercises just because they look cool or exciting, but because they will directly impact the goal that we want to achieve.

If you want to improve your performance but are not sure where to start, click here to apply for personal training or online coaching.

Single leg secrets. Why unilateral training may be the missing piece of your training puzzle.

I love squats and deadlifts. Like really love squats and deadlifts. You can bet that if I’m writing a program, there’s a pretty good chance it will feature a number of squat and deadlift variations.

And why shouldn’t it? They are important motor patterns, they build strength and size, can improve posture, all whilst having a direct carry over to athletic performance.

But with that in mind, I feel like we can sometimes fall into a bit of trap, and focus too much on these exercises alone. If we take a step back and a look at an individual’s goals, the inclusion of single leg exercises can often go a long way in helping achieve our desired results.

Here are a few of the main reasons why I like to include single leg work into my programs.

Hunter Bennett Performance. Single leg training, stability, athletic performance, single leg stability, unilateral training, hypertrophy, strength.


Single Leg Stability

When training one leg at a time using single leg squat or deadlift variations, there is a significantly greater stability component than when training bilaterally.

This means that the muscles around the hip (think Glute max and glute med in particular) and trunk have to work that much harder to maintain proper pelvic alignment and femur position (avoid valgus collapse of the knee).

This increased stability has the potential to carry over to everyday movements such walking up and down stairs, or stepping down from something high, as well as improving our athletic performance during sprinting, rapid changes of direction, or single leg bounding movements.

Because if we really think about, most sport specific movements (with the exception of powerlifting and olympic lifting) are performed on one leg, and developing an adequate amount of stability on one leg is only going to improve our ability to perform these movements.

Increased workout density

When doing single leg work, we effectively have to do twice the number of reps. I realise that each leg is only doing the prescribed number of reps, but in regards to the rest of the body, its working hard to maintain stability, hold heavy weights and maintain postural position for twice as long as it would during a bilateral exercise.

This means that there is going to be an increase in total work done per session, which has the potential to improve strength and hypertrophy, and also promote fat loss.

On top of that, assuming your using dumbbells as your main form of external loading, it wouldn’t be unlikely to see increased grip strength along with an increase in mass through the forearms and upper back as well.

So to summarize. More Gainzzzz.

Reduced Neural Fatigue

Large bilateral exercises use greater total load, and as such are heavily taxing on the nervous system. By reducing the amount of bilateral exercises we do, and substituting them for single leg exercises (not forever! – just occasionally, like during a deload, or a period where you’re getting considerable fatigue from life’s many stressors), we reduce total load used and therefore neural fatigue.

This is a way that we can still see improvements in lower body strength and hypertrophy, without completely running ourselves into the ground. Do something like this may be beneficial for a  4-6 week period, as a way to refresh whilst still seeing improvements in strength and size, which are likely to carryover to bilateral exercises when we start performing them more regularly again.

Awesome. So now what?

Start doing some single leg work!

I would try to include both knee dominant (think split squats, lunges and pistols) and hip dominant (single leg deadlift variations) single leg variations into your training programs 1-2 times per week to start with and just watch the awesome happen.


If you want to incorporate single leg training into your program but aren't sure where to start, see if you qualify for my coaching program here.

Are you hamstrings actually tight? Or is it a symptom of a greater problem?

One of the most common complaints that I hear is ‘I have tight hamstrings’.

And the most common cure I see?

People stretching their hamstrings.

But even with all this chronic stretching, people often still feel as if their strings are tight? Which leads us to the question, are your hamstrings actually tight?

And the answer, like with so many things health and fitness related, isn’t a particularly good one.

Probably, maybe, sort of ..... But that’s not actually the issue.

Muscle tightness vs Misalignment

If someone constantly complains of tight hamstrings you should have a look at their pelvic alignment. I would put my money on them having some excessive anterior pelvic tilt (APT).

APT describes the forward ‘tilt’ of the pelvis when looked at from the side. Whilst slight APT is actually the norm in majority of the population, it is often worsened by excessive time spent in the seated position, and can have an impact on the hamstrings. Excessive APT results in someone kind of looking like Donald duck, with the pelvis tilted very far forward.

Hunter Bennett Performance. Tight hamstrings, anterior pelvic tilt, APT, posture, rehab, lordosis

 

If you have a look at a pelvis with significant anterior tilt, you can begin to see why the hamstrings may feel tight. As they attach to the pelvis, when it is anteriorly tilted, they are placed in a lengthened position, hence the feeling of tightness. Now as they are already lengthened, is stretching them (trying to make them longer) going to improve the problem?

No. In fact, it may even do the opposite, potentially worsening the already apparent APT. 

So rather than tight, we should think long. Long and weak, as they do not have the strength to maintain normal pelvic positioning.

Whilst weak hamstrings are a potential contributor, we also need to look at the other muscles that act on the pelvis.

On the front of the body we have quite a few muscles that act on the pelvis, with the hip flexors and knee extensors the two most likely to be pulling the pelvis into anterior tilt. Now these muscles here are most likely tight in the way people think of tight muscles. As in they are short and stiff. What I mean by short and stiff, is that they are in a shortened position due to sedentary activity, and stiff as they rarely get used in a lengthened position, causing them to become tight and immobile.

It is these muscles that are going to require stretching and myofascial release to restore length and mobility, and hopefully help return the pelvis to a more neutral position.

With this it comes back to proper assessment and ensuring that we treat problems and not symptoms. In this case we can see that tight feeling hamstrings are the symptom, and by stretching them, they may feel better acutely but we are not actually treating the problem that is causing the sensation of tightness, being the pelvic position. Always look into a symptom in depth to try and establish its cause, rather than trying to treat it as a problem.

 

If you feel like you this article applies to you, and are unsure of how to deal with it I can help you here!

Improve acceleration and improve athletic performance.

In my last blog post I gave my opinion (Which was somewhat negative...) on agility ladders. This was based upon their inability to actually improve speed and acceleration. If you haven’t read it yet you can have a look here.

Hunter Bennett Performance. Acceleration, performance, speed, agility, strength, power, athletic development.

Whilst this is all well and good, I didn’t really provide any in depth recommendations on how to improve change of direction speed and agility, and considering that these are directly related to acceleration speed, I thought a post addressing how to improve acceleration would be appropriate.

Sooooo. Acceleration. The reason I have chosen acceleration rather than ‘speed’ is I feel it is much more indicative of athletic performance.

Field based sports are characterised by short, repeat efforts, rarely longer than 20 metres (and most often less than that). So it can be argued that the ability to accelerate rapidly is much more important than top end speed.

*The exception here would be sprinters, as they need a good max speed and they need to maintain it for as long as possible.

So someone’s ability to accelerate can be broken down into two components. The amount of force they can put into the ground, and how quickly they can apply that force into the ground.

So, if a person is not particularly strong (can’t apply much force), they are going to be limited, no matter how quickly they can apply the force they do have.

This leads us into the first recommendation to improve acceleration.

Strength Training

By improving strength we improve the maximal amount of force we can produce. By increasing the amount of force we can apply into the ground we improve our capacity to accelerate.

My recommendations would be compound lower body strength exercises such as squats, deadlifts and split squats (and variations of), working within a basic strength sets and reps scheme (5x5, 6x4 etc) 2-3 times per week. This ensures we are not only training the muscles involved in accelerating and sprinting, but also using exercises that have immediate carryover to performance as they somewhat replicate the joint actions that occur during these movements.

Now, what if someone is strong (can apply lots of force), but not very powerful (slow applying that force)?

That leads us into the second component.

Power Training

So, now that we have built a solid foundation of lower body strength (force production capacity), we need to learn how to apply that force rapidly (improve our ‘rate of force development’, or RFD).

This can be done by adding explosive lower body movements into our lower body program. These would be jump variations (such as box jumps, broad jumps etc.), plyometric exercises (lateral bounds, tuck jumps etc.) and Olympic lifting variations (clean, hang snatch etc.). These exercises use either bodyweight or lower relative loads to train explosive movements, whilst the plyometric activities also improve our capacity to use the stretch shortening cycle (SSC).

The inclusion of short sprints are also recommended, as we are trying to get faster/better at accelerating.

These exercises should not be performed to failure as the intent is to move as FAST and as EXPLOSIVE as possible. As fatigue inhibits our ability to produce force rapidly, it would inhibit the training effect we are looking for. So these exercises should be performed before the strength component of the session, and not until failure.


I understand that this is by no means a comprehensive guide on improving acceleration, but i hope i have provided a brief explanation on some of the ways we can improve acceleration. These recommendations are fairly broad and provide more of a brief overview, for more detailed information feel free to contact me.


Can you eat too many Eggs?

This blog post comes from a place very close to my heart.

I enjoy food. A lot. And one of my favourites are eggs. But unfortunately, they have a pretty negative reputation, which has been created through misinformed, fear mongering eggophobes (look it up, its a thing).

Hunter Bennett Performance. Eggs, Strength, Protein, Fat loss, Hypertrophy

Eggs tend to get a bad rap based on the moderate amount of cholesterol they contain, and the assumption that dietary cholesterol intake directly increases blood cholesterol (which is also perceived as bad). Interestingly, our body is a pretty clever piece of machinery, and doesn’t quite work like this.

Your body actually produces cholesterol. A heap of it each day (up to 10 times of that found in an egg). And interestingly, when you consume more cholesterol (eat eggs), your body makes less of it. And vice versa. In fact, consuming more eggs has actually shown to cause increases in blood HDL (good cholesterol) with subsequent decreases in blood LDL (bad cholesterol) 

This means that the consumption of eggs won’t negatively impact blood cholesterol, and therefore doesn’t increase the risk of heart disease. Now that we hunderstand why we don’t have to avoid eggs, here is a few reasons as to why we should eat more of them.

Whole eggs are one of the most nutritious food on the planet

Eggs are nutrient dense. They are full of vitamins, minerals, good fats and a heap of other nutrients. They contain significant amounts of Vitamin A, B12, B2, B5 and selenium, with small amounts of Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Zinc, Folate and a HEAP more (all of which are in the yolk, so eat your yolks people).

Not to mention a large egg contains 5-7 grams of protein (with all 9 essential amino acids!). Seriously, one of the easiest ways to eat more protein is to eat eggs at breakfast. Breakfast Gainz.


Eggs are rich in antioxidants

Eggs are rich two important antioxidants Lutein and Zeaxanthine.

These antioxidants have been shown to gather in the eye and protect against various eye diseases such as Macular Degeneration and Cataracts

Improved night vision? Maybe.


Eggs are filling and have shown to aid fat loss

Eggs score fairly high on the Satiety Index, which suggests that they have the capacity to make you feel full, irrespective of their relatively low energy content. It has been seen that those who eat eggs for breakfast rather than a carbohydrate dense food such as bagels tend to eat less throughout the day.

They have also suggested to improve rate of fat loss compared to carbohydrate rich foods when eaten for breakfast, as demonstrated in an interesting study by Vander Wal (2008). In which, overweight men and women ate either eggs or bagels for breakfast for 8 weeks. The breakfast contained the SAME amount of calories. After the 8 week period the egg group had significantly greater reductions in BMI, weight loss, waist circumference, and body fat compared to the bagel group, despite both meals containing the same amount of energy.


To summarise: Eggs are boss. The next time you’re out for breakfast don’t feel guilty when ordering an 8 egg omelette, and if by some chance the waiter decides to make a snide remark about 'egg cholesterol', feel free to drop some of the knowledge bombs mentioned in this post.







References

Fernandez, Maria Luz. "Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations." Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 9.1 (2006): 8-12.

Mutungi, Gisella, et al. "Eggs distinctly modulate plasma carotenoid and lipoprotein subclasses in adult men following a carbohydrate-restricted diet."The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 21.4 (2010): 261-267.

Gale, Catharine R., et al. "Lutein and zeaxanthin status and risk of age-related macular degeneration." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 44.6 (2003): 2461-2465.

Delcourt, Cécile, et al. "Plasma lutein and zeaxanthin and other carotenoids as modifiable risk factors for age-related maculopathy and cataract: the POLA Study." Investigative ophthalmology & visual science 47.6 (2006): 2329-2335.

Vander Wal, Jillon S., et al. "Short-term effect of eggs on satiety in overweight and obese subjects." Journal of the American College of Nutrition 24.6 (2005): 510-515.

Vander Wal, J. S., et al. "Egg breakfast enhances weight loss." International Journal of obesity 32.10 (2008): 1545-1551.