Wednesday, May 29, 2019

WOD Wednesday #104

5 rounds for time of:
7 left-arm dumbbell rows
7 right-arm dumbbell rows
21 dumbbell bench presses
500-m row

Men: 50-lb. dumbbells
Women: 35-lb. dumbbells

I like the movement combinations here, good stuff. Here are some thoughts on the workout:

Single-arm dumbbell row: I consider the volume to be low and load to be on the lighter side. This movement will present the least amount of difficulty for most of my athletes. My first thought on increasing difficulty is slowing down the tempo of each rep and requiring a very static torso position that is parallel to the ground. With my more advanced athletes, this might present an opportunity to increase load a bit. Keep in mind, this movement will have an effect on the bench press, so be careful with increasing load. As far as scaling goes, I will have my athletes reduce the load to complete 7 reps consecutively, on each arm, for each round.

Dumbbell Bench Press: I consider the loading prescription to be moderate and the volume to be relatively high. The difficulty can potentially increase due to the one-arm dumbbell rows. That being said, I will likely reduce load and/or reps if the athlete will need to take more than 2 short breaks on the first round. The goal is to not take more than 2-3 short breaks on any given round.

Rowing: I will have most of my athletes complete the entire distance, each round. In some cases, I will use time guidelines to assess when reducing distance may be beneficial. For example, if I have an athlete that is likely to row the initial 500 meters in over 2:30, I will consider reducing the distance each round or have them row for a 2:30 duration each round.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Product Review: Radien Sports Strongman Sandbag

Product Details:

The Secret’s Our Roll-Down Design:
Forget those leaky fitness sandbags that close with zippers, cords, or strings. This ingenious sandbag cinches just like a kayaker’s drybag: Roll down the top till it’s snug, then close the strong metal buckle. You’ll have a leakproof seal in seconds – with no need for awkward filler bags.

Best of All, It Adjusts for All Levels of Lifting
Simply fine-tune how much sand you add & how far down you fold the top:
Fill 1/3rd of the way to use as a kettlebell
Fill 2/3rds up to use as an Atlas Stone
Fill to capacity for serious loading events
Plus everything in between
  • Holds 50-300 Lbs: Use this sandbag weight for everything from kettlebell reps to strongman events.
  • Leakproof: Thanks to its clever roll-down design, your fitness sandbag won't leak sand.
  • Super Strong: Made of extra-tough 1000D nylon, your strongman sandbag will stand up to tons of wear.
  • 36 Options: It's crisscrossed with nylon bands, so you can grip this beach-ready bag multiple ways.
  • 3 Free Padded Handle Covers: All removable, so you can use them to cushion any of the 36 grip bands.

Product Review:
Want to burn your lungs and make your muscles scream? The Radien Sports Strongman Sandbag will get the job done. It is fantastic and holds a weight between 50-300lbs depending on the size. This sandbag is ideal for various workout routines such as kettlebell reps and strong man events.

The material of the Radien Sports Strongman Sandbag is sturdy and leak proof with a roll down design that ensures your sand does not leak. The material is sturdily made of two layers of nylon to withstand pushing slamming, throwing and pulling without tearing. The handles have multiple layers of padded covers that offer a firm comfortable grip during you exercises.

I received the medium size and I will be getting the large size. This thing is the perfect simulated atlas stone. It is made of some highly durable canvas which seems to be double walled. All the threads are a holding up well. And the cinch down buckle (like a dry bag) is ingenious. I filled mine with loose sand, I bring it back inside after working out; no spilled sand. When or if I need it lighter or heavier it's as simple as unroll, fill, cinch back down.
The Radien Sports Strongman sandbag has several handles that are strapped around the tube; this gives you several grip options: hence you can maximize your training. The multiple filler bags also allows you to choose on your perfect weight for your exercise depending on your level of fitness. It is ideal for both beginners and experts.

Other reviews, I noticed, didn't like the fact that there is no heavy duty handles sewn into the bag. This is true. The straps on the outside are like a sleeve that can be removed. I myself like this a lot. Because stones have no handles. I use mine without the straps. Helps with grip strength.

Does what it says. You fill it with sand, affix the hand straps, and go to town. One of the more reasonably priced bags on Amazon so the apparently exceptional build quality was a nice surprise. I will update if anything changes.

My initial concerns were sand leaking, how functional the handles would be, and how awkward it may be to do the exercises I wanted to do. As of now I have only worked out with it twice but I am extremely satisfied with my purchase.

No sand leaking at all and I feel comfortable letting it drop from my shoulders. The handles are well spaced and functional. Dead lifts & kettle bell swings weren't awkward at all. However, squats had a learning curve to them. First, getting the bag up over my shoulders. Second, positioning the bag comfortably. The first handful of times were pretty awkward but I came up with a process that works for me and even the squats feel good. It allows me to do everything I need without a gym membership or spending an arm/leg on equipment. As of right now,

I've used it for four workouts now, with this bag in motion for twenty minutes per workout. I have not slammed the bag, though I've dropped it. Not a grain of sand to be seen. I'm a plumber and believe in functional strength... I think the shifting weight of this bag will help me when I pick up toilets and other heavy items.

For the price and exceptional quality, you will regret picking the Radien Sports Strongman Sandbag for your training. It can still hold up steady and strong even after years of using. It is undoubtedly a 100% money back guarantee and I would highly recommend it!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Trigger Point Dry Needling Part Deux

Physical therapists routinely evaluate individuals for painful "trigger points' that can result in not only pain but, also limited movement and tolerance for activity.  If these areas of muscle hypersensitivity are not identified and then addressed therapeutically, they can result in a prolonged and sometimes chronic painful condition.  The "dry needling" component is simply a means of better allowing a technique to specifically zero in on and "reset" the muscle tissue that is hypersensitive.  As the name implies, dry needling involves the use of thin needles of varying length without anything "wet" going into or out of the body.  No medications or solutions are injected and most of the time no blood exits the body as the needles are a fraction of the size typically used for injections or for drawing blood.
The targets for these needles are trigger points which are taut bands (nodules) found within muscles that can be irritable and painful with pressure or palpation's and often times result from our body's response to injury.  When activated by pressure or irritated by injury or activity, they can reproduce an individuals pain at the site of the trigger point, or even in a seemingly unrelated location of the body, which may then result in a loss of motion or a decrease in function.  Since these identified areas of hyper sensitivity are ultimately the targets for part of our treatment regimen, it makes sense that dry needling is often called trigger point dry needling (TPDN).  Trigger points and muscle dysfunction (i.e. tight muscles or muscles that are not working properly) have been recognized since the 1950s and have been something physical therapists have been trained to correct with a variety of treatment approaches.  Stretching strengthening, therapeutic ultrasound, lasers, electrical stimulation, joint mobilizations, manipulation, as well as various techniques using thumbs elbows, and or tools have all been utilized and will continue to be used to address these problems.

Dry needling for trigger points was first used in 1979 when a physician found that using injections into trigger points to alleviate pain worked regardless of the medication used.  The needle actually seemed to be the source of the pain relief.  The rationale to explain how a skillfully placed needle into a muscle can result in a significant reduction of pain isn't completely understood.  Perhaps the needle causes a very specific and localized stretch to the taut fibers within the trigger point which then results in a 'twitch' response which ultimately renders the muscle to be less sensitive to movement.  Another theory is that there may be a localized increased chemical release or 'leak' of the chemical that causes a muscle to contract which may lead to incomplete relaxation of the affected area.  The needles may be enough of an irritant to the structure that is leaking the chemical that it releases more, resulting in a localized muscle twitch.  This may then use up the excess chemical which then ultimately helps to shut off the leak leaving behind a more relaxed muscle.  No matter what the exact mechanism is for why a needle in a trigger point makes it act differently, the result is a muscle that has been reset, no longer holding unnecessary tension or acting inhibited from performing its role in helping the body move.  This reset is often compared to the Control-Alt-Delete function on a computer effectively causing it to 'forget' whatever it was causing the problem!

Monday, May 20, 2019

What about the Lunge?

In sport, athletes display a high variance of movement potential. To build athleticism, strength trainers must select exercises that improve speed, power, and strength. In traditional strength training, the squat reigns supreme for improving lower body power and strength. But what about the lunge?
Since the squat directs force vertically, the lunge takes precedence in directing force horizontally. In running sports, acceleration and change of direction are paramount. Lunging can touch on athletic components that the squat alone cannot.

Why Lunge?
In looking at the athlete’s sporting demands, we see that movement happens in large part on one leg. This unilateral movement demands the athlete to have enough strength to both produce and resist force in the sagittal, frontal, and transverse planes.
Lunging variations serve to integrate and load multiple planes of movement that help the athlete’s proprioception and timing. Further, multi-planar lunging can help safeguard problematic and injury-prone areas like the groin, hips, lower back, hamstrings, and knees.
Although strength trainers cannot ultimately prevent injuries from happening, they can provide exercises that build multiplanar hip, knee, and ankle stability to make the athlete more robust and resilient. Since tight musculature and lack of mobility often contribute to injury potential, lunging provides an inbuilt mechanism for safeguarding against these risks.

The Lunge is Foundational
An assessment of the athlete at play is vital in determining which exercises to include in their training program. It is appropriate for a tennis player or fencer to train the lunging pattern, as their sports are almost entirely based on lunging and striking movements. However, swimmers, rock climbers, and gymnasts may not need the same training volume or intensity.

Since athletes from all sports must be able to move with precision, the lunge is as prudent as it is pragmatic. If the athlete is able to comfortably cross the midline of their body during cutting, acceleration, and deceleration, their chances of injury lessen while their performance increases.
In programming for strength and athletic performance, exercise selection ultimately comes down to the primary action of the athlete. Both bilateral and unilateral movements are important for the athlete, but the application of when and why to use each is paramount.

The Squat vs. Lunge
In human evolution, the squat is more of a rest position than an exercise, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be loaded for strength and power development. When loading the body with a barbell, kettlebell, or other implement, the squat trains the lower body’s maximum force development in the vertical plane
However, the lunge is advantageous for the athlete that must make a change of direction in sport. Further, athletes with prior injuries to the knees, low back, or hips may find loading lunging patterns easier than loading squats. In order to understand the necessity of lunging, we must look at the role the feet play in the squat and lunge:

Squat: The feet remain in a fixed position. The feet do not move during the movement.

Lunge: The feet move in a stepping motion in any direction. The feet return to the starting position or to a new position.
Since moving into a squat is a downward motion of the athlete, it’s wise to see how a bilateral squat can help improve an athlete’s overall power and vertical jump. However, lunging provides a stimulus for the athlete that must make a sudden forward thrust of the body like in sprinting, cutting, or attacking an opponent.

The Lunge Improves Athletic Ability
There are several progressions that I give to my athletes when learning to lunge. In order to progress, the athlete should demonstrate precision in each movement, loaded and unloaded.

Lunging Continuum
Split Squat  > Reverse Lunge > Walking Lunge > Forward Lunge > Power Lunge

Friday, May 17, 2019


During treatments, you need to do an ongoing evaluation of length/strength of muscles, relationships of body parts. I.e., which part moves most, which least; why? Which part is tighter causing abnormal positioning? 

Resting position (normal posture) gives strong clues as to which muscles are long, which are short, since resting position is a "balance" between antagonistic muscles. We need to lengthen muscles that are too short, and shorten supporting muscles that are too long, then use them habitually in that shortened position. This will counter balance the muscles that tend to get too long. It is ineffective to merely strengthen long muscles; they must be gotten to be shorter in their "resting" position by habitual positioning.

Need train movement to be correct through practice so correct part moves, correct part STABILIZES. (practice, use wall for support, mirrors for visual alignment.

Need correct postural habits which involves all the above, i.e. exercise must become a habit
  1.  Effects - refers to physiological changes
  2. Indication - refers to an advisable, safe, recommended, prescribed treatment based upon clinical signs and symptoms.
  3. Contraindication - refers to an inadvisable, potentially unsafe, not recommended treatment based upon clinical signs and symptoms.
  4. Precautions - It is "okay" to consider this treatment with caution.  there may be potentially negative consequences. Be aware and ready to discontinue treatment based upon effects (subjective and objective) signs and symptoms that occur during the treatment.
Common Abbreviations:
  • Rx - Prescription
  • Tx - Treatment
  • Dx - Diagnosis
  • PMHx - Past Medical History
  • BID - Bi Daily (two times a day)
  • PRN - As Needed
  • THR - Total Hip Replacement
  • c/o - Complaint
  • WBAT - Weight Bearing As Tolerated
  • WOD - Workout of the Day
  • AMRAP - As Many Reps As Possible
  • EMOM - Every Minute On the Minute
  • PR - Personal Record
  • 1RM - 1 Rep Max
  • Wednesday, May 15, 2019

    WOD Wednesday #103

    5 2-minute rounds of: - 15-cal. row
    - Max strict weighted toes-to-bars

    Rest 2 minutes

    Men use 8-lb. ball for T2B
    Women use 4-lb. ball for T2B

    In this interval workout, you have to use a hip-opening movement to earn time to perform a hip-closing movement. A moderate amount of rest is provided, allowing you to push hard in each round. Select a number of calories that will allow you about 60-75 seconds on the bar, and select a toes-to-bar variation that will allow you to perform at least 8-10 reps per interval.

    Intermediate Option5 2-minute rounds of:
    - 12-cal. row
    - Max strict toes-to-bars
    Rest 2 minutes

    Beginner Option5 2-minute rounds of:
    - 10-cal. row
    - Max strict hanging knee raises
    Rest 2 minutes

    Tuesday, May 14, 2019

    Balance, Balance, Balance

    Stance is the position of the feet and legs in standing. Stance has a primary impact on balance, along with movement and surface. Stances that require a small base of support, e.g., tandem, split, single-leg, etc., are more challenging to balance. Conversely, stances that have wide bases (feet apart) are easier on balance. Below is list of standard stances, in order of increasing levels of difficulty:

    Normal: feet about shoulder width apart.

    Feet Together: feet are positioned near each other in narrow stance, heels may touch.

    Split Stance: feet arranged with one foot forward and one foot back.

    To make balancing easier, widen the frontal plane distance between feet. Narrow the distance to make it harder.

    Narrowing the sagittal plane distance will also help make balancing easier. Conversely, widening the distance between the feet will make it harder.

    Tandem Stance: one foot directly in front of the other, like standing on a narrow balance beam.

    Modify tandem stance to make balancing easier; place feet so inside border of heel touches inside border of toe on opposite foot.

    Single-Leg Stance: standing on one foot.

    For patients unable to stand on one foot, modify single-leg stance by resting the opposite foot on the ground, stool, or wall.

    Functional carryover of arrow stances includes improved ability to stand in confined areas, such as, spaces between furniture, stored items, walls, etc. Split stance postures are also common when reaching deep into a pantry or fridge. Additionally, steadiness in single-leg stance is helpful when stepping over a tub, up/down a curb, up/down stairs, etc.
    The next time you want to increase the level of difficulty for balance training, try a new stance. Modifying stances is a great way to fine tune intensity, helping to ensure proper training at the 20:20 ratio for steadiness and unsteadiness. Don’t be afraid to take a stance, try a new stance, or change stances on balance – your patients will thank you. Happy balancing!

    Monday, May 6, 2019

    Ached by Lower Back Pain? Stand up Straighter with Physical Therapy

    Lower back pain is a sensation all too familiar to millions of people. This ache can hinder many aspects of your life: working, spending time with friends and family, partaking in the activities you enjoy, and even just relaxing. The World Health Organization estimates that in the United States, 149 million days of work are lost due to low back pain. It is the leading cause of inactivity among adults, and it can result in other health issues if left untreated. It is also extremely common, appearing in 60-70% of people across industrialized nations.
    If lower back pain is plaguing your everyday life, it is important that you find relief as soon as you can. For more information on how we can help get you back to a pain-free life, call our office today.
    How can physical therapy help?
    Physical therapists focus specifically on pain and injury to help their patients regain function, comfort, and mobility. Physical therapy treatments are used to alleviate pain, promote healing, and bring restored function and movement to the painful area. When you come in for a consultation, your physical therapist will provide you with an extensive evaluation, discovering what form of treatment will be best for whatever orthopedic, neurologic, or cardiovascular condition you are facing.
    Physical therapy also consists of two categorized types of treatments: passive physical therapy and active physical therapy:
    Passive physical therapy
    The purpose of passive physical therapy is to help pain become more manageable, and hopefully to alleviate it altogether. Lower back pain can be a debilitating condition, impeding your physical abilities. Because of this, physical therapists work hard to reduce pain as much as possible. Passive physical therapy can include any combination of these specialty treatments, as deemed fit by your physical therapist:
    • Massage
    • Manual therapies
    • Hydrotherapy
    • Ultrasound
    • Dry needling
    • Heat/ice packs
    • Iontophoresis
    Some of these methods are used to reduce pain and swelling, such as heat/ice packs and massage therapy. Electrical stimulation, while it sounds intimidating, is a painless treatment that delivers minuscule waves of electricity throughout your nervous system. This also helps with pain relief, and it can also help in decreasing muscle spasms, as well as encouraging your body to produce pain-relieving hormones. Hydrotherapy is an aquatic-based treatment, in which patients will perform low-intensity movements in water, thus relieving any muscle pressure they may be experiencing and allowing their joints to move freely and comfortably. These techniques are more commonly used for the treatment of lower back pain than others, although any could be prescribed based on your physical therapist’s discretion.
    Active physical therapy
    The purpose of active physical therapy is to provide exercises that the patient can do on their own in the later stages of their physical therapy treatment. Once your lower back pain has subsided enough that your physical therapist believes you are ready for active physical therapy, he or she will set up and exercise schedule specific to your needs. This can include any combination of stretching, strength training, and stability training, and it is all geared toward helping you gain back your flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength. These exercises will help provide support to the painful area and will guide you further in your recovery process.
    What will my visits look like?
    At your initial consultation, your physical therapist will ask you several questions regarding your medical history, lifestyle, and painful area(s). This information will assist your physical therapist in creating the best treatment plan for you and your specific needs, so you can be provided with long-term results.
    After your consultation, your evaluation process will begin. Your physical therapist will examine you by assessing your posture, coordination, strength, balance, flexibility, blood pressure, and/or heart rate, depending on your pain and symptoms. This evaluation will be both manual and visual.
    When you’ve completed your thorough evaluation, your physical therapist will then create your treatment plan, beginning with passive physical therapy and leading into active physical therapy. You may also be given exercises to do at home, during your time away from treatments. This is all done in order to reduce pain, avoid further injury, and provide you with the quickest recovery time possible

    Wednesday, May 1, 2019

    Everything You Need to Know About Barbells

    Much of how a lifter classifies knurling seems to depend on what bars he/she has used and his/her barbell sport background. Perhaps someone who has a powerlifting background and lifted with a specialized powerlifting bar for years can have a different opinion of what aggressive knurling is. The best knurl grade for you will be what you are accustomed to in most instances.

    A point of marketing that has surfaced recently is the notion that clean, defined borders of knurling is somewhat indicative of higher quality. The reality of these prominent lines is that this effect can be created in such a way that compromises the steel strength of the barbell.

    Knurling is cut into the barbell with a CNC Lathe. Some lathes will require more manual handling than others. The borders of the knurling are created where the machine stops and is restarted again. A fully robotic machine can make exact adjustments during this process, whereas a barbell that is hand-crafted by a man must be reset manually. What some barbell manufacturers will do, (even with some IWF certified bars), is they’ll cut the lines after the knurling is done to create a nice, super neat border. This looks great, and internet bloggers will certainly say this “high quality” feature is a positive attribute of the barbell. The main issue is that any physical cut in to steel is an opportunity to weaken it because it creates stress points. Multiple, unnecessary stress points along the barbell shaft are detrimental to steel strength and the higher the tensile strength of the material, the greater the problem this creates.

    Many lifters will like the traditional centre knurling featured on many barbells. Some consider the extra grip they feel on the back of their t-shirt ideal because it makes the bar feel more secure when squatting. The actual purpose of the centre knurling on barbells dates back to when one-armed “odd” lifts were part of competitive weightlifting and even included in the inaugural Olympic games in the late 1800's. The one-armed snatch and the one-armed clean and jerk are only a few examples of lifts that required such knurling. You’ll notice that 15 kg barbells don’t feature a centre knurling because women were not included in weightlifting competitions until well after the one-armed lifts were phased out. For most Olympic weightlifters, the centre knurling will be an annoyance so many higher end weightlifting bars will have a recessed centre knurling for this reason. The IWF specifies the centre knurling is still a requirement for 20 kg barbells, so manufacturers produce their bars to meet this requirement.

    Barbell Finishes and Their Properties

    Here is a list of many barbell finishes and their pros and cons:

    Black Zinc: Looks Great. Wears (down) easily. Often times it is difficult to make black zinc appear to be truly black. Typically you will end up with a somewhat charcoal to chocolate finish or somewhat of a dark olive colour.

    Black Oxide: Has a matte black appearance. Black oxide is not so much a coating as it is a chemical process of turning steel black. It has very little anti-corrosive properties which means it will rust quickly if not cared for properly. It will scratch, but it does not flake off. The scratches are just a lighter or a different shade of black so they show more. Black oxide does leave the barbell with a raw steel feel without being purely raw steel.

    Bright Zinc: Looks great and classic. It can vary from very shiny, almost chrome-like in appearance to a more matte finish. Exhibits a higher resistance to corrosion than black zinc. Bright Zinc will tarnish and turn grey over time. It is considered a sacrificial coating as it oxides itself rather than the steel underneath it. It will eventually develop a patina which makes each bar have its own unique look depending on its use.

    Nickel Chrome: Looks great and classic. Chrome will scratch or chip if mistreated, but it typically lasts a lifetime. All higher end weightlifting bars are nickel chrome or hard chrome plated.

    Hard Chrome: Hard chrome is actually an industrial finish. Although it can be polished to high lustre , it will not have the aesthetics of nickel chrome. Hard Chrome has a couple of advantages over Nickel Chrome. It does actually fortify the bar and increases the overall tensile strength. It will easily last 20 years or more. The disadvantage of Hard Chrome is that it can have slight marks in it where the components are suspended by a thin wire during the electroplating. Due to Hard Chrome being so thick, even a small imperfection can be made more noticeable where the material accumulates.

    Thin Dense Chrome: It has a matte dark grey appearance that is very unique looking. It has the feel of raw steel without the rust problems of bare steel or some of the other coatings. It adds tensile strength to the barbell just like Hard Chrome does.

    Bare/Raw Steel. It looks really great and feels great... for about a week, then it will start to oxidize and rust. If you don't like oiling barbells and meticulously caring for them, or don't mind lifting a rusty bar, a raw piece of steel is ideal for you. With routine oiling, wiping perspiration from the bar after each use, and storing it in a climate controlled environment, the steel will develop a nice bronze/grey coloured patina.

    Barbell Rotation Types
    Bronze Bushings, Composite Bushings, Needle Bearings

    Composite Bushings are made from hard plastic compounds. They are actually harder than bronze and will not break down after extensive use. Over time, the spin of the bar won’t improve (like with the Oilite Bushing), it will remain consistent

    Needle bearings provide the smoothest and quickest bar rotation. There are a number of barbell varieties with either 10 or 8 needle bearings being the most common variety. We have found the quality, grade, and fit of the bearings as well of type of lubricant used has more impact on spin than total number of bearings.

    Eight (8) bearings can actually take up as much space as Ten (10) bearings, depending on size of the bearings. Bearings are available in different load ratings and widths. Higher load bearings may not spin as easily unloaded and lighter load bearings usually spin much quicker without load, such as spinning with the hand. Once the bar is loaded, there will be no discernible difference in speed of rotation. The higher load rating bearings will last longer and can absorb more impact shock. The reality of weightlifting is that the bar only turns over 180 degrees during a proper lift, and although weightlifting is fast, it's relatively slow as far as revolutions per minute (rpm). Needle bearings are really designed for super high speed applications, meaning thousands of rpm's per minute. Although weightlifting doesn’t push needle bearings to the full capacity of what they are designed to do, utilizing these bearings can still contribute to a successful lift.