Friday, December 27, 2019

Product Review: Titan Fitness Hefty Bench V2

Product Details:
Our version 2 of our Hefty Bench features our new enhanced vinyl for a unparalleled support, feel, and grip.

Fully utilize your bench for maximum power while also reducing your chances of injury with the Titan Hefty Bench. The added width and thickness gives your back and shoulders extra support for bench pressing.

- Extra wide 24" base ultimate stability and support.
- Double sided gusset plates lock the bench top to the base.
- Constructed of heavy duty 3" x 3" tubing.
- Handle and wheels for easy movement and storage.
- 15" Wide pad is perfect for safely hitting you max bench press.

- Overall Length: 53"
- Overall Width: 24"
- Overall Height: 17"
- Bench Length: 50"
- Bench Width: 15"
- Bench Thickness: 4"
- Capacity: 1,200 LB
- Weight: 84 LB

Product Review:
I’ve been a big fan of the Titan Hefty Pad since the very first time I benched on one. It’s wider, longer, thicker, denser, and more supportive than any other bench pad I’ve ever seen or used. In addition to all that it has a unique, heavy-duty  vinyl cover that prevents any slipping or sliding around on the pad; a surprisingly uncommon feature for bench pads.

Built like a tank and the pad is a shoulder saver. I’ve been suffering from bicep tendonitis for over two years now, from playing college baseball - with this pad I’ve been able to bench 225 for reps without any pain.  Getting frustrated that my shoulder issues are holding me back I have tried a lot of things and finally tried the hefty pad, my shoulders got noticeably better. Just a couple weeks of using it my shoulders no longer hurt at night keeping me awake, like they used to. They are improving each week where benching isn't irritating them any more.
Some may worry that with training with this wide pad when they use a competition bench it will throw them off. While the setting up is a little different, I would rather have my shoulders pain free and adjust. Last week I went to another gym and used the competition bench and my shoulders hurt at night again, but was still able to set up okay on that bench.  If you’re a young gun out there - trust me - preventative measures now will make a huge difference in your longevity - you will still want to lift at 40 - at 50 - so get the fat pad.

The benefits of using this bench I can notice are: Promotes Scapular movement (which means it is uninhibited and eliminates AC tears), Eliminates Shoulder Hangover, Optimizes Back and Upper body Positioning,  Very little to no translational loading,  humeral wear on bicep tissue and pec tweaks are relieved, and it increases mechanic leverages.

It's heavier than expected and overbuilt to near perfection. The upholstery inside is thick and super dense meaning that it's the opposite of cushy (if you like softer foam, this is not for you). I like it because the density or hardness adds stability when using heavy weights. The cover material is the best I have ever seen or used. It's some kind of sticky rubberized material. Once you are in position, you will never slip.

In conclusion, This is an outstanding product. Very impressed with grip, size, width, and tank like feeling of this pad on this bench. Did bench immediately after receiving this beast of a pad in the mail and I am currently convinced I just bought a game changing piece to my ever expanding home gym.  It’s very sturdy, and versatile.  It has helped me tremendously with some issues I was having related to shoulder injury and poor shoulder mobility. I highly recommend it for any lifters with those sorts of issues.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Top 5 Kettlebell Movements - Part 2

The Snatch is one of the quintessential kettlebell movements; the combination of strength, power, stability, and cardiovascular fitness embodies kettlebell lifting perfectly. Whether you want to build power or strength endurance, the Snatch is a great exercise to add to your training. Another reason to love the kettlebell Snatch is that the movement is accessible to a larger population than the barbell Snatch; the mobility requirement is less stringent, with many of the same benefits.

Since the Snatch is a highly technical movement, take plenty of time to practice with a light kettlebell. The neuromuscular system needs time to coordinate the movement and build muscle memory. The shoulder also needs time to build stability in the overhead position. A great way to start is to practice the Half Snatch. This allows you to focus on the upswing of the movement before tackling the more challenging drop into the backswing. Once the upswing is mastered, you can work on the drop, making sure that you allow the bell handle to skip the center of your hand on the way down so there is no pulling on your palm, which can cause blisters and tears.

There are two variations in technique you can use on the Snatch. The first is a Snatch that uses a hinge motion, which is great for building strength and power. The second is a Snatch that uses a pendulum leg action, which is ideal for endurance work. Choose the variation that suits your goals, or simply the one you enjoy more!

1.      Start in a standing position with feet about hip width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet. Grab onto the kettlebell with hook grip (bell handle in the fingertips, and thumb locked over the fingers).
2.      Pull the bell into the backswing, then drive with the legs to bring the kettlebell up. For the hinge-based power swing, use a hinge motion and extend the hips forcefully. For the pendulum-based endurance swing, use a slower pendulum leg action that follows the motion of the kettlebell.
3.      When the kettlebell reaches the float point (somewhere between hip and shoulder level), redirect the kettlebell into the overhead position as you punch the hand up and through the bell handle to meet the kettlebell in the overhead position. For the power swing, the arm and the kettlebell should stay tight to the body on the way up. For the endurance swing, the bell should be allowed to follow its natural path (which will be farther from the body) before redirecting into the overhead position.
4.      After stabilizing the kettlebell in the overhead position for a couple seconds, turn the bell and allow it to drop; give the kettlebell a head start before following it into the backswing with the torso. The arm should hit the hip before the torso folds forward.
5.      Once the kettlebell completes the backswing, go into the next repetition. 
The Renegade Row is a challenging core exercise that involves both pushing and pulling upper body components. The movement is comprised of one kettlebell push up followed by a row on each side from the plank position. One of the main functions of your core is to prevent trunk rotation, which requires your core, glutes, and hips to work together. Keeping the hips in place while performing rows in the plank position is a great way to train anti-rotation, as well as upper body pulling. The push up provides the upper body pushing component, and requires the core to stay active.

The Renegade Row should be trained with focus on form, not speed. Moving quickly typically leads to hip rotation and less core engagement. Instead, move slowly and deliberately to ensure proper body position in each part of the sequence. Start with 3-5 repetitions and work up to 10 repetitions. When you can easily complete 10 repetitions at a particular kettlebell weight, you can move up to a heavier weight.

1.      Start in the plank position with a kettlebell underneath each shoulder. Begin with the feet spread apart wide, and move them closer if you want to make the movement harder.
2.      Perform a push up, keeping the elbows in close and the belly button pulled up toward the spine to engage the core.
3.      From the plank position, perform one row on each side. Try not to move the hips -- this is the anti-rotation component -- and think of pulling the elbow and hip toward each other while you row.
4.      Once you complete the rows, go into the next repetition.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

WOD Wednesday #115

Complete as many rounds as possible in 12 minutes of:
  • 3 weighted pull-ups
  • 6 push-ups on dumbbells
  • 9 dumbbell squats
♀ 25-lb. DBs, use one for pull-ups
♂ 35-lb. DBs, use one for pull-ups

Think about today's workout as a short version of Cindy in which we lowered the number of reps and the overall duration to accommodate the loading. It is a trade in which the desired outcome is that the speed and overall intensity is maintained. First, choose a weight for the pull-ups that will not stop you. Choose something you think you can do unbroken for the vast majority of the workout if that is just strict pull-ups, be it. With that decided go for the squats, try to avoid compensating for the scale on the pull-ups, but aim to keep them loaded if you are a solid air squatter. Modify the push-ups to elevated push-ups if you anticipate having to break them very early. However, even if you are elevating them use the dumbbells for your hands, and look for that little bit of extra range of motion dumbbell push-ups give you.

If you only have a lat pulldown machine go as heavy as possible. Bodyweight sub 3 strict pullups 6 clapping pushups 9 jumping squats, jump 6" off the ground.

Friday, December 13, 2019

PT Pathologies: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) is a condition that is caused by the compression of nerves and blood vessels in the area between the clavicle and first rib.  The space between the collar bone and rib is more specifically known as the thoracic outlet.  This narrow space is the home to nerves, blood vessels and muscles.  There are three types of TOS:  neurogenic, vascular and disputed.  Neurogenic TOS is caused by compression of the brachial plexus.  The brachial plexus is a network of nerves that come from your spinal cord and control muscle movements and sensation in your shoulder, arm and hand.  In the majority of thoracic outlet syndrome cases, the symptoms are neurogenic.  Vascular TOS is described as compression of the artery or vein in the thoracic outlet.  The final type, disputed TOS, contains no neurological deficits, however, the patients have TOS symptoms and pain.

        When the tissue in the thoracic outlet is changed or enlarged, TOS is often times the outcome.  There are several causes of TOS, some of the main being trauma, pregnancy, repetitve injuries, weight lifting, weight gain, tumor growth, and birth defects such as having an extra rib.  Some symptoms common in TOS are pain of the neck, shoulder and arm, numbness in the hnd, arm and fingers, decreased circulation to limbs, weakness in arms shoulders and hands.

        Clinical presentation in TOS patients can differ depending on the type of TOS.  With venous obstruction, patients may present with upper extremity swelling.  With arterial obstruction, patients may report color changes of their affected upper extremity, or arm or hand pain.  Patients may have painless atrophy of the intrinsic muscles of the hand, and patients may report difficulty grasping objects as a result of intrinsic muscle weakness.  They may also report sensory loss.  In order to diagnose TOS, one will need to visit a nerve specialist and an experienced neurologist.  A comprehensive medical exam, including neurological exams, complete medical history, imaging studies such as X Rays and or MRI, electro diagnostic studies (EMG) will need to be performed.

         Physical therapists play a large role in the recovery of TOS patients.  The main goal of therapists assisting patients with TOS is to educate them about and improve their postural abnormalities, and decrease muscle imbalances in order to relieve unwanted pressure in the thoracic outlet.  It is the therapists job to explain postural positioning that are high risk and low risk positions for compression  Pain control and range of motion are also areas in which the therapist works with patients.  Stretching muscles such as the upper trapezius, levator scapula, and pecs are important in TOS recovery.  Once motion is regained and pain levels are decreased, strengthening exercises should be incorporated.  Other options include injections including nerve blocking agents and acupuncture.  If the above techniques do not improve a patient's symptoms the surgical route to recovery is an option.  Many doctors only recommend surgery as a last resort choice due to the complications associated with TOS surgery.

Monday, December 9, 2019


Product Details:
The Ninja Star is a Black Anodized Aluminum new variation on the patented Mobility Star design. Manufactured in Chattanooga, Tennessee, this four-sided, ergonomically curved massage tool features a corrosion-resistant aluminum construction, rather than the stainless steel of the original model.

The innovative Mobility Star line-up was developed by Tom Eddy along with gym owner & massage therapist Mike Alley, who wanted a new, precision method for targeting trigger points and muscle bellies. Whether used as an alternative or complement to traditional foam rollers and massage balls, the Ninja Star’s compact size and unique contours align with the natural curves of the body—making it great for working out stiffness in the calves, thighs, hips, forearms, etc
Mobility Star
Benefits of the Mobility Star - Ninja:
  • Provides vibrational feedback
  • Allows you to work on fascia and muscles with the same tool
  • Reduces the amount of pressure you need to apply
  • Relieves stress on fingers & hands
  • Lightweight, portable, easy to use anywhere
Additional Specifications:
  • Made in the USA
  • Patented Design - Four-sided, with ergonomic curvature
  • Corrosion Resistant Aluminum
  • Black Anodized Aluminum
  • Dimensions: 4" x 4"
Developed by gym owner and massage therapist Mike Alley, the Mobility Star offers a unique new way to target and massage away muscle tightness and pain. Whether used as an alternative or complement to traditional foam rollers and massage balls, the Mobility Star’s patented thin, stainless steel design is ergonomically in tune with the natural curves of the body—making it great for working out stiffness in the calves, thighs, hips, forearms, etc.

Lightweight and pocket-sized, Mobility Stars can go anywhere you need them for rapid muscle recovery and improved range of motion.

Product Review:

When I first received the Mobility Star I was impressed by how solid and well made the tool was. It has a symmetrical design that fits firmly in your hand. The smooth curves allow both athlete and therapist to glide smoothly over tight and restricted muscles taking pressure of the myofascial system and restrictions effecting the muscles, joints, tendons and fascia. The Mobility Star is very effective in flushing out sore and tired muscles as well as getting to those hard to reach places where the muscle and tendon connect. The unique design allows the user to apply firm direct pressure to the target area. No more sore fingers from ART!

I thought the stainless was great, but the Ninja ROCKS!! Initially skeptical but now the I've used, I recommend to anyone with muscle tightness or any other soft tissue areas that need work. Unlike most things I've tried, this one covers it all. The aluminum is about 1/2 the weight of the stainless (which is also great) so its even better for travel or taking to gym and on trails. Something about the aluminum just feels right and I can't put it down
Seems like 1/2 the weight of original stainless star. Durability doesn't appear to be affected. Stainless reviews pretty much cover the rest. Great for almost any area of the body that needs attention.

Made from aluminum, this tool is lightweight and very portable compared to so many of the novelty massage tools out there. The ends are great at working directly and more specifically with trigger points and the curved edges work well for specifically manipulating the fascia. Also, its much less expensive than the Graston tools ($1,100 +) coming in at $85 before shipping.

I carry this around with me and use it religiously in class and while traveling to massage forearms, groin, and calves. . The hole in the middle improves grip, but more importantly it can be slipped over a barbell for a great forearm or triceps scraping--I didn't realize this until I looked at the videos on the manufacturer's site. Simple and effective. Saves a lot of stress on your fingers--the steel is so hard that you don't need to apply much pressure. Much better than using a plastic scraping tool

I couldn’t be happier with how the Mobility Star performs. With the help of this tool, I have recovered so much faster from some brutal workouts than other Mobility tools I’ve used in the past. I would say that this is very similar to receiving A-Stem from a physical therapist. I also coach HS cross country and have shared this product with my athletes. They have had the same rave reactions as I have. I’ve recommended this product to a number of my physically active friends. They’ve all seen faster recovery times from difficult workouts as well. I would recommend the Mobility Star to anyone looking for a way to relieve soreness and recover faster! Do yourself a favor and pick one up!

I highly recommend this tool for any physio or coach looking to save their hands and expand their practice as well as any athlete who's looking for a new, easy to carry tool to help on the go. For those chronic, always nagging areas, this gets deep enough to make an impact. I really enjoy the effect of this product, it doesn't leave me bruised or overly sore. When applying the tool to the body, it feels good, not harsh. It is a great entry level tool for IASTM and good price point. However, I wish all 4 corners had a different design to allow for different functions.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

WOD Wednesday #114

21-15-9 reps for time of:Bench presses
Squat cleans

♀ 125-lb. bench, 95-lb. clean
♂ 185-lb. bench, 135-lb. clean

The structure is there to aid you in keeping the intensity up. You want to be riding that wave where the muscle is about to give up but never does. The loads are moderate for both movements. For both choose something you could cycle for a set of eleven+ repetitions when fresh if you were to go for it. This should become acidic and burny. But it should not be a long grind. We want you closer to the 11-minute mark than to the 13. Athletes entirely new for the squat clean, can change the movement to a front squat so that the complexity of the lift does not get in the way of the conditioning. Having an excellent front squat is the best thing you can do to learn a squat clean.

Globo scale: if you have 2 barbells, plates and a bench+rack or bench press station you can do this as Rxed. Many of us don't have that, so I will put up some substitutions. If you are in a standard Globo gym setup, we are doing barbell bench press and dumbbell squat cleans, 40/60lbs. If in a garage with only one barbell you can do 21-15-9 push press 95/135, squat clean 95/135. Another garage alternative is strict ring dip Elizabeth, with ring dips as the first movement in the couplet. Finally, the hotel gym sub is both movements with 35/50lb dumbbells. Bodyweight sub is clapping pushups and burpee pullups.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Top 5 Kettlebell Movements - Part 1

While getting depth in the squat is important to to involve the glutes and hamstrings (as opposed to using the quads only), the spine should stay neutral throughout the movement. Try not to let your butt tuck under in the bottom position; if it does, you are likely going lower than your range of motion allows and your lower back will take some of the load. Mobilizing the hips and hamstrings prior to squatting can improve depth and activation of the posterior chain.

The Goblet Squat can be utilized to build strength by completing sets of 3-5 reps; Kettlebell Kings bells go up to 203 lbs, so there is a bell weight to challenge almost anyone’s strength! The Goblet Squat can also increase strength endurance and metabolic conditioning; simply use a repetition range of 8-20 with a lighter weight. A fun variation to try is the Goblet Squat Curl, which requires holding the bottom position while doing a bicep curl - guaranteed to cause extra muscle pump!

1.      Stand with feet about hip width apart. Bring the kettlebell into the goblet position, grabbing hold of the handle on other side.
2.      Squat down while keeping the chest up and weight in the heels. An easy way to determine proper depth is to bring the elbows to the inside of the knees. The spine should stay neutral.
3.      Drive into the ground as to come back up to standing position, contracting the glutes and fully extending the hips.

The Turkish Get Up (TGU) is a total body movement that builds shoulder stability and core strength. Since there are many parts to the movement, be sure to practice the sequence with bodyweight initially. Ensure proper and smooth execution of the entire movement before adding a kettlebell. You should have control over each part of the movement; if someone yelled “freeze!” at any point, you would be able to stop and maintain stability of the kettlebell.

The TGU is best practiced in sets of 1-5 repetitions. There is a lot of focus required, so doing a lower rep count will ensure better quality movement. Build up your volume slowly by increasing the number of sets. I recommend being able to do at least 3-5 perfect repetitions with the weight you are using before moving up in weight. A perfect repetition means there is no wobbling of the kettlebell and you have complete control of each portion of the movement (including the return to the floor).  

The TGU can be practiced in parts as well. Typically the most challenging part of the movement is the Turkish Sit Up (also known as the Half Get Up), which is the initial portion of the movement where you come to an upright torso position with hips still on the floor, then slowly return to the floor. When training toward a heavy TGU, it’s helpful to work on the TSU with heavier weights than what you would use for the full TGU. Besides the TSU, other parts of the TGU to isolate would be the pass through of the leg from the TSU into the Kneeling Windmill, the Kneeling Windmill, and the Overhead Lunge.

1.      Start lying on your side in the fetal position. Insert your hand fully through the kettlebell handle.
2.      Roll onto your back, keeping both hands over the kettlebell handle and elbow tight to the body. Set the legs about 45 degrees apart, with the leg bent and foot flat on the side you are holding the kettlebell. The other leg should be straight.
3.      Press the kettlebell up until the arm is straight and the weight of the kettlebell is balanced over the shoulder. Remove the free arm and place it on the floor, palm down and about 45 degrees from the body.
4.      Use the elbow of the free arm and the foot of the bent leg to drive into the ground and bring yourself up onto your elbow, then up onto your hand.
5.      Lift the hips, then pass the straight leg underneath until the knee is under the hip. Keep your eyes on the kettlebell.
6.      Bring the torso up straight, then pivot the back leg so you are in a lunge position.
7.      Drive into the heel of the front leg to come up to a standing position.
8.      To reverse the movement, step back with the leg opposite to the side youre holding the kettlebell and come back into the bottom of the lunge position (knee resting on the floor).
9.      Pivot the back foot in, then slide the free arm down the thigh and onto the floor directly beneath the shoulder. Pass the back leg through the free arm and the front leg and set your hips down onto the floor.
10.  Lower down to the elbow. As you lower all the way down to the floor, feather the kettlebell across the body slightly to slow its descent.

The Bottoms Up Press (BU Press) is an upper body pushing exercise that encourages proper mechanics for the shoulder and activates the neuromuscular system. Due to how hard the handle must be gripped during this movement, muscles that wouldn’t contract on a regular press are suddenly brought to life, i.e. rotator cuff, core, glutes, lats.

Since the BU Press is much harder than a regular press, start with a light weight and let the body adapt before trying anything heavy. The BU Press can be utilized in a training program like any other upper body pushing exercise -- and may actually be better than other pushing exercises for anyone with shoulder pain. To build muscular endurance, train higher repetitions with lighter weight. To increase strength, train lower repetitions with heavier weight.

Before even attempting the BU Press, you should know how to fail out of the movement safely. If you fail before the kettlebell reaches shoulder level, you can simply use the free hand to prevent the bell from hitting you. If you lose control of the bell in the top position, simply let the bell fall and step in the opposite direction so the bell drops onto the floor. Another precursor to doing the BU Press is to have a solid and stable BU Clean. If you perform a poor BU Clean, the BU Press that follows will not go well! You should be able to stabilize the kettlebell in the BU rack position before attempting a press overhead.

1.      Start in a standing position with feet about hip width apart and a kettlebell in front of your feet.
2.      Hinge at the hips and grab onto the kettlebell handle, then hike the kettlebell back between the legs. Fully extend the hips and bring the kettlebell into the rack position, with bottom side up. Stabilize the bell here first; if you have a bad clean, re-clean the kettlebell before attempting the press.
3.      From the bottoms up rack position, inhale and engage the lats by pulling the shoulder down and away from the ear. Press the bell overhead as you exhale.
4.      Hold the bell in the top position for 1-2 seconds before slowly lowering the bell down with control, again engaging the lats by pulling the shoulder down.
5.      Once back in the rack position, prepare for the next repetition.