Monday, December 20, 2010

New Rules of Lifting for Abs

Lou Schuler & Alwyn Cosgrove are soon releasing the third book in their New Rules series, and since Lou was kind enough to provide me a copy I gladly read it and think it worthy of review.

But first Lou would like to explain the inclusion of 'abs" in the title on this Fitcast podcast.

For your benefit listen to the entire podcast. Some nuggets of knowledge are within.

Right away I loved this book that for no other reason it proclaims no more situps or crunches. Seriously though, Lou pulled in some great research from luminaries such as Dr. Stuart McGill regarding core and back health.

For the lay person that does not dig into research from the Journal of Strength & Conditioning and other such sources (even I find some of it quite boring) much of the material regarding what the "core" is, it's many roles, and how it functions will be quite eye opening.

I read this kind of material all the time and yet got a lot out of the informational chapters. Lou has a knack for connecting the dots and entertaining us along the way.

One part I would quibble with is spinal flexion for fighters. Yes, fighters do need ab armor and do alot of spinal flexion in sport specific training, but according to Dr. McGill that doesn't mean fighters should use flexion movements in the gym. Rather he says they should save those lumbar bends for competition. But I doubt any of you are pro-MMA fighters anyway so lets carry on.

The title of Part 3 "All Training Is Core Training" says it all.

Everything we do affects our core, and so it makes sense to be aware and utilize that fact in every movement we do. Within this framework Lou & Alwyn put together a great library of static, dynamic, and integrated core stabilization exercises, then set them in the context of three phases of strength training programs.

For most people it would take many months to get through these programs, and they should see a good bit of progress along the way. Even for the experienced lifter there are some serious challenges.

The programs are organized so that one can go back and repeat them with heavier loads or other changes such as doing ladder sets, density circuits, or other methods of causing adaptation so that progress will continue.

And as any experienced trainer knows the basics never go out of style.

My favorite part of the book is the last third which deals with lifestyle issues, nutrition, and strategies for developing a healthier lifestyle.

We all know that without adopting better lifestyle and nutritional habits change will not happen, and Lou presents some interesting studies showing how hours spent in front of the computer (yes you may stop reading now and go outside), TV, video games, and other sedentary forms of entertainment kill your abs.

Yep. They shoot them dead.

I tell my clients this everyday but sometimes it takes reading it in print to accept it, which is why I've already been using some of Lou's material to help my own clients. And it works.

So if you are a trainer don't hesitate to recommend this book to clients, as it will help you help them. And if you are a person working out on your own, then you have an excellent guide at your side.

The book is now available for pre-sale on Amazon for $16, and ships out Dec. 30th. Check it out.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Kettlebell Resources

The following is meant to be an admittedly incomplete resource for supplemental information on kettlebell lifts taught at this past weekend's Kettlebell Fundamentals workshop at Edge Performance Fitness.

Warm ups, mobility, and flexibility are going to be of utmost importance for most of us, and what most of us that sit most of the day (as I type this) need most.

Here is a good routine from Steve Cotter. Search around for others of his as well.

Russian champion Igor Morozov display the kind of joint mobility that can be attained through years of training.

Now on to the lifting, first up is Steve Cotter breaking down the basic swing technique, including discussion of the importance of the hip hinge, breathing, and developing awareness, relaxation, and efficiency.

Next Ivan Denisov demonstrating clean and jerk (long cycle) technique during a world record setting competition. Might as well learn from the best!

The clean and jerk contains 3 movement we went over: swing, clean, jerk. Although we did push press and not jerk, the two lifts are close in nature.

Denis Kanygin breaks down the clean and jerk technique

This should be enough to chew on for awhile.