Sleigh Ride

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Sleigh Ride. I prefer the Harry Connick Jr. version, but any version will do. I love the “Getty Up” part. It just makes the song. I wonder how many other songs actually have a “Getty Up” part? (Now there’s a question for Google).

Sleigh Ride is a fun song but it also teaches us a lesson we need to remember this time of year.

The next to last verse says, “There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy.”

What a great line!

In a season where we stand in line at midnight to buy the latest gadget or toy and spend millions of dollars to give each other “just the right thing”, Sleigh Ride reminds us that the best things in life are free.

Don’t get me wrong, I love giving and receiving gifts. It’s fun to watch the kids open presents and it’s nice to get a few new things, but we must remember what really matters doesn’t cost much.

This season let’s focus on giving gifts that may seem inexpensive but are actually priceless. Let’s bring joy to a tough situation or hope to a hopeless one. These items don’t cost much but they certainly can’t be replaced. Giving your gifts, talents, abilities and time to others usually has no financial price tag but it is as precious as the finest gold.

Let’s keep in mind that our lives are the greatest gifts. No HDTV, laptop, I pad or Xbox ONE will ever replace that (and it makes shopping easier too!).

Committed to your health and happiness!

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach

HH Fitness, Inc.
HeathHerrera@HHFitness.com
512.348.7388
HHFitness.com

 

P.S. – You can still grab our Holiday Survival Guide at this link: HH Fitness Holiday Workouts

P.P.S. -You can grab an all access pass to our workshops for 2016. For just $199 December 13 to December 16! CLICK HERE to sign up or reply to this email and over the next 12 months, you can take part in all of our workshops and get the chance to reserve your spot early for any with limited spacing. Here are just a few of the workshops that at we have planned for 2016:

  • Bulletproofing Your Back
  • Heart Rate Training
  • Long Term Goal Setting
  • Recovery Techniques
  • Use of Equipment (Kettlebells, Bands, Foam Rolling, Medicine Balls, Battle Ropes, Suspension Trainers, etc.)
  • Weight Management
  • Smoothies
  • Endurance Training
  • etc.

 


Co-authored book – Group Training Playbook

Get the best in nutritional supplements from our friends at Prograde –  Heath’s Prograde Page

Follow HH Fitness On Facebook – HH Fitness Facebook Page

 

HH FITNESS – YOUR LEADER IN PERFORMANCE AND TECHNIQUE WITH POSITIVE RESULTS!

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year is a great song. Few songs get me in the Christmas spirit like this one. It is very likely you’ll hear this song over 1000 times between now and December 25th. That being said, this is the best time of year…….but it can also be the worst.
Each year from January thru November we make great strides in our pursuit of fitness. We dedicate ourselves to proper nutrition and exercise. We make and meet goals. And then this “Wonderful Time” happens.
Research has shown that most of our weight gain will happen during the holiday season. The increased time commitments, holiday parties and baked goods do not make for a healthy combination. If we aren’t careful all of our hard earned gains during the year will be undone in just a few weeks.
This holiday season let’s try something different. Let’s dedicate ourselves to continuing to pursue fitness. By all means, attend all of the parties you want. Eat, drink and be merry. But plan your meals and parties in such a way that you can enjoy the food and not derail your year-long efforts.
The holidays can be the most wonderful or awful time of year. Let’s do our best to make the last 3 weeks as wonderful as the first 49.
Taek a listen to “It’s the most wonderful time of year” from Pentatonix:

 

Committed to your health!

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach
HH Fitness, Inc.
HeathHerrera@HHFitness.com
512.348.7388
HHFitness.com

P.S. – You can still grab our Holiday Survival Guide at this link: HH Fitness Holiday Workouts

P.P.S. Grab an all access pass today to our workshops for 2016. For just $199 December 13 to December 16! >>GRAB YOUR DEAL HERE<< and over the next 12 months you can take part in all of our workshops and get the chance to reserve your spot early for any with limited spacing. Here are just a few of the workshops that at we have planned for 2016:
• Bulletproofing Your Back
• Heart Rate Training
• Long Term Goal Setting
• Recovery Techniques
• Use of Equipment (Kettlebells, Bands, Foam Rolling, Medicine Balls, Battle Ropes, Suspension Trainers, etc.)
• Weight Management
• Smoothies
• Endurance Training
• etc.


Co-authored book – Group Training Playbook

Get the best in nutritional supplements from our friends at Prograde – Heath’s Prograde Page

Follow HH Fitness On Facebook – HH Fitness Facebook Page
HH FITNESS – YOUR LEADER IN PERFORMANCE AND TECHNIQUE WITH POSITIVE RESULTS!

Deck The Halls

With Christmas right around the corner, I spent a little bit of time decorating the house. This year we put the tree up early and even added a few more decorations outside.

As I was decorating the house this year, I would pause for a little bit and then step back and think, “The girls are going to love the additions we have made this year.” Even though I had a vision of the finished product in mind, it was nice to see it taking shape. Each time I looked, I became more positive and motivated and jumped right back into the project. When it was all finished, the completed project was even more amazing then I envisioned. It was simple, but the way my girls reacted was all I needed to see.

Decking the halls” of my house reminded me of the process of becoming fit. Just like decorating, getting in shape and reaching our fitness goals requires hard work, dedication and discipline.

At times the process can be, exciting and fun as well as overwhelming and frustrating. It’s in times like these that we need to step back and take a look at how far we’ve come. Examine the progress that’s been made and be proud of your accomplishments. You may not be where you want to be….YET, but you are closer than you were when you started. And before you know it, you’ll look and see a completed project that is even more amazing then you envisioned!

To listen to my favorite version of “Deck the Halls”

Have a great day!

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach

HH Fitness, Inc.
HeathHerrera@HHFitness.com
512.348.7388
HHFitness.com

 

P.S. – You can still grab our Holiday Survival Guide at this link: HH Fitness Holiday Workouts

P.P.S. -You can grab an all access pass to our workshops for 2016. For just $199 December 13 to December 16! CLICK HERE to sign up or reply to this email and over the next 12 months, you can take part in all of our workshops and get the chance to reserve your spot early for any with limited spacing. Here are just a few of the workshops that we have planned for 2016:

  • Bulletproofing Your Back
  • Heart Rate Training
  • Long Term Goal Setting
  • Recovery Techniques
  • Use of Equipment (Kettlebells, Bands, Foam Rolling, Medicine Balls, Battle Ropes, Suspension Trainers, etc.)
  • Weight Management
  • Smoothies
  • Endurance Training
  • etc.

Co-authored book – Group Training Playbook                                                                                                 
Get the best in nutritional supplements from our friends at Prograde –  Heath’s Prograde Page
Follow HH Fitness On Facebook – HH Fitness Facebook Page

HH FITNESS – YOUR LEADER IN PERFORMANCE AND TECHNIQUE WITH POSITIVE RESULTS!

 

 

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Can you believe that Christmas 2015 is less than 2 weeks away? Where has the time gone?
I’m sure by now you are getting in the spirit of things and listening to the occasional holiday song. It’s hard not to.

Just the other day I found myself unknowingly humming the opening verse to “It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas.” And then I had an idea…..

For the next 12 days, I will have a holiday themed song message for you. Each message is named after a different song and contains some interesting thoughts that I’m sure you’ll enjoy. I am calling these posts my 12 Days of Fitness and the goal is to help you enjoy the season.

We know all too well how quickly the holidays can become stressful. I hope that each day the posts will give you the opportunity to step back, laugh and give some thought into staying fit during such a busy time. Above all, I hope the 12 Days of Fitness will enhance your holiday experience and make Christmas 2015 a memorable one.

Be on the lookout for the next message tomorrow. However, in the meantime take a listen to Michael Bublé’s “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.”

 

What song do you think I’ll pick next?

Have a great day!

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1
Head Strength & Conditioning Coach
HH Fitness, Inc.
HeathHerrera@HHFitness.com
512.348.7388
HHFitness.com

P.S. – To enjoy some workouts at home follow the following link: HH Fitness Holiday Workouts

P.P.S. – You can also grab an all access pass to our workshops for 2016. For just $199 December 13 to December 15! CLICK HERE to sign-up and over the next 12 months you can take part in all of our workshops and get the chance to reserve your spot early for any with limited spacing. Here are just a few of the workshops that at we have planned for 2016:

  • Bulletproofing Your Back
  • Heart Rate Training
  • Long Term Goal Setting
  • Recovery Techniques
  • Use of Equipment (Kettlebells, Bands, Foam Rolling, Medicine Balls, Battle Ropes, Suspension Trainers, etc.)
  • Weight Management
  • Smoothies
  • Endurance Training
  • etc.

 


Co-authored book – Group Training Playbook

Get the best in nutritional supplements from our friends at Prograde – Heath’s Prograde Page

Follow HH Fitness On Facebook – HH Fitness Facebook Page

HH FITNESS – YOUR LEADER IN PERFORMANCE AND TECHNIQUE WITH POSITIVE RESULTS!

Turkish Strength and Conditioning SECRET

We’ve got a really cool workout coming your way during our new phase of training.

It’s called Turkish Get-Up Intervals and it involves a single exercise, the Turkish Get-Up, that works your entire body from head to toe.

Though there’s a bit of a learning curve associated with this high-skill exercise, it will be well worth the total body muscle-building, fat-burning, and metabolism-boosting benefits it provides when performed with perfect form and technique.

This may very well be the hardest exercise you ever perform. But don’t get mad at me… blame the Turks, ha ha!

Want to learn more? Then keep reading 😉

 

I. What is a Turkish Get-Up (TGU)?

In essence, a Turkish Get-up (TGU) is the proper series of movements that will have you safely and effectively coming from lying with your backside on the floor to standing fully erect while holding a weight directly overhead… and then of course reversing that movement under control.

 

II. Benefits of the Turkish Get-Up:

The TGU is the ultimate total body functional exercise and it is a foundational movement that people of all walks of life should seek to master.

In fact, being able to properly get-up off of the floor is one of the first things we lose as we age. In other words, you never want to have fallen and not be able to get-up!

 

Here are some more specific benefits to this classic strength movement:

Serves the dual role as an excellent whole body warm-up drill to grease the groove before more intensive exercise using lighter loads and as a whole body workout routine using heavier loads and longer work periods

– Dramatically strengthens wrists and forearms, areas that are particularly weak in the modern era due to the proliferation of sedentary occupations and the demise of manual labor

– Bulletproofs your lower back and shoulder girdle

– Helps develop a strong upper back and V-taper that makes your waist appear smaller

– Develops most-ability, the combination of motion and stability. This term was coined by world-renowned physical therapist Gary Gray as he describes it in his own words as “the ability to functionally take advantage of just the right amount of motion at just the right joint in just the right plane of motion in just the right direction at just the right time”

– Works your core in all 3 planes of motion (sagittal plane- front to back and up and down, frontal plane- side to side, and transverse plane- rotational) where most core exercises only address a single plane of motion, usually in the already overtrained sagittal plane. In doing so, it really strengthens the all-import oblique (love handle or side abdominal) muscles which are critical to optimal health and performance.

– A much, much safer and more effective core training alternative to crunches and sit-ups which promote excessive flexion of the lumbar spine and lead to lower back pain/injury.

– Great for developing hip and upper back/thoracic spine mobility which is essential for people who sit at their desks all day long at work.

– Excellent for building core, knee, hip, and shoulder stability.

– Great tool for teaching proper lunging mechanics. Just like with squatting, lunging is best learned from the ground up.

 

III. Learning How to Perform the TGU One Stage at a Time

The best way to teach the full TGU is to first break it down into its 3 basic stages with step-by-step instructions:

Starting Position:

– Begin in a fetal position by holding the weight close to your chest with both hands

– Then roll onto your backside and use both hands to press the weight up so that your right arm is fully extended overhead

– Fully extend your left leg straight out in front of you and then fully extend your left arm at a 45-degree angle from your trunk

– Bend your right knee so you right heel is close to your right glute

2015-09-17 06.34.27

1st Stage TGU- Bottom Section: Moving from Lying Down with Back on Floor to Hips on Floor

– With your eyes looking up at the weight overhead, drive through your right heel to move in a diagonal pattern onto your left forearm and left hip

– Then move onto your left hand with your shoulders down and back

NOTE– If you struggle with this stage, you lack core strength

2015-09-17 06.34.322015-09-17 06.34.38

2nd Stage TGU- Middle Section: Moving from Hip on Floor to Split Kneeling/Lunge Position

– With 2 active shoulders, raise your hips and sweep your left leg underneath you and perform a windshield wiper motion with your left foot

– Then extend your trunk to square your body off into a split kneeling/lunge position with your front knee and ankle directly aligned.

NOTE– If you struggle with this stage, you lack shoulder and core stability and hip mobility

2015-09-17 06.34.412015-09-17 06.34.46

3rd Stage TGU- Top Section: Moving from Split Kneeling/Lunge Position to a Full Stand

– Load the heel of your front leg (right leg in this instance) and stand up until your feet are parallel to each other while focusing on reaching the weight overhead throughout the movement

NOTE– If you struggle with this stage, you lack lower body strength and knee and hip stability

2015-09-17 06.34.50

Reversing the Movement:

– Now slowly step your left leg back into a reverse lunge and slowly sink your hips down into the split kneeling position so your knee kisses the floor and then slowly reverse the entire movement moving from 3rd to 2nd to 1st stage to the starting position

Clearly, this is a complex set of steps but when broken down into stages it makes it much easier to learn.

 

The key coaching cues that apply throughout the entire movement are:

– A famous kettlebell saying is that the shoulders are poison to the ears. So keep both of your shoulders down and back and active throughout the exercise to keep them safe.

– Keep your loaded arm straight throughout the entire exercise. If you let the elbow bend, you’ll overly fatigue your arm muscles and lose stability at the shoulder joint and will feel wobbly during the movement.

– Perform the exercise in a very slow, controlled, and deliberate manner to get the most out of it. Going too fast results in instability which can put you at the risk of injury. In addition, we want to eliminate any bouncing or momentum to make your muscles work harder.

Another great thing about working this exercise in partial stages of movement is that it allows you to strengthen individual weaknesses inherent to each stage as noted above.

Lastly, like all kettlebell training experts suggest, I highly recommend you perform TGU’s while barefoot because it will help strengthen the muscles of your feet and promote greater ankle stability while also providing greater feedback from the ground to better perform the exercise.

 

 

The Turkish Get-up Interval Workout

Get-Up Intervals: 20 Total Minutes. Begin by performing partial get-ups in 3 stages in a 30-30 interval format. Then perform 3 minutes of continuous alternating full get-ups followed by a 2-minute rest and transition.

  • • LEFT Side 1st Stage Partial Get-Ups: 30 s on, 30 s off
  • • RIGHT Side 1st Stage Partial Get-Ups: 30 s on, 30 s off
  • • LEFT Side 2nd Stage Partial Get-Ups: 30 s on, 30 s off
  • • RIGHT Side 2nd Stage Partial Get-Ups: 30 s on, 30 s off
  • • LEFT Side 3rd Stage Partial Get-Ups: 30 s on, 30 s off
  • • RIGHT Side 3rd Stage Partial Get-Ups: 30 s on, 30 s off
  • • Alternating 1-Repetition Full Get-ups: Continuous 3 Minutes
  • • Rest for 2 minutes and Repeat

2015-09-17 06.43.30

You can customize this workout for your current fitness level by employing the regressions or progressions as outlined in the chart below:

 

Get ups

Here are a couple final recommendations:

– During the 30-second work periods for the partial get-ups, you should be getting about 4-6 reps per set. If you are getting more reps than that, then you are either going too fast and/or using too light of a load. If you are getting less reps than that, then you are using too heavy of a load.

– During the 3 minutes of continuous alternating full get-ups, you should be getting about 1 full rep every 30 seconds for a total of 3 reps/side in 3 minutes. If you are getting more reps than that, then you are either going too fast and/or using too light of a load. If you are getting less reps than that, then you are using too heavy of a load.

Are you ready for the Turkish Get-Up Challenge??

 

Committed to your health,

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS

Head Coach

HH Fitness, Inc.

512.348.7388

HeathHerrera@HHFitness.com

HH Fitness Movement of the Phase

Each phase we work on a specific movement to help our clients improve their mobility.  The Movement of Phase 4 is upper body rolling.

Rolling

Beast – Warrior – Mad Minute

We’ve got a great phase of training coming your way.

We’re alternating between 6 different workouts during this phase, each workout using a different interval protocol to best keep our bodies guessing and work every muscle quality throughout the week. We want to share with you the 3 of the protocols below:

  1. The20-40 Beast Circuit where you alternate between 20 seconds of work and 40 seconds of rest in a 5-exercise circuit format. This template is phenomenal for developing maximum strength and power.

A beast is a mystic creature that can display awe-inspiring feats of strength and speed of movement in short bouts and that’s what this workout is designed to turn you into. Get ready to unleash the beast within!

  1. The 40-20 Warrior Circuit where you alternate between 40 seconds of work and 20 seconds of rest in a 5-exercise circuit format. This template is phenomenal for hypertrophy (lean muscle gain) and muscular endurance.

A warrior must be able to exert maximum effort for extended periods of time in the face of endless obstacles. In a fight, the first person to fatigue usually gets knocked out- you don’t want to be knocked out! Regardless of what you do for a living, this workout will help you both physically and mentally prepare for any battle you may face on the job or at the home front. It’s gonna be a war!

  1. One of my favorite training protocols of all time – The Mad Minute! It’s basically a 3-exercise succession complex for 1 minute of total work followed by a 1-minute rest and transition period for 20 total minutes of pain and pleasure. In other words, you perform 20 seconds of work for 3 consecutive exercises using the same training tool (bodyweight, TRX, kettlebell, bands, etc.) with ZERO rest and transition time between movements.

The Mad Minute is a real kill-shot where you totally empty the tank and leave everything on the training floor- rest is for the weak! Your conditioning and work capacity will be tested to the max. Plus, this template will provide a super potent fat-burning stimulus that will have your metabolism on overdrive for the next several days after completing it.

Studies show that by employing different work and rest periods or interval protocols throughout a given training week lead to better results than doing the same thing each day. This is called undulating periodization and we’ll be using it to take our fitness to the next level this month…

ARE YOUR READY TO DIG DEEP!?

Heath

HH Fitness Movement of the Phase

Movement of Phase 3: CARRIES

I. Benefits

The ability to develop great spinal stabilization is vital to be functional through daily activities, and developing dynamic core rigidity is one of the most important components to achieve this.  One of the easiest exercises you can use to develop dynamic core stability is “1-Arm Carries” progressions using Sandbags, Dumbbells, or Kettlebells.

low carry
II. How to Do It

1.  Hold weight in one hand

2.  Lock loaded shoulder down and back into the socket

3.  When carrying by side do not let weight touch or rest on the thighs

4.  When carrying at shoulder height do not let weight rest on should and keep weight held out in front of you.

5.  Stay completely upright throughout the movement making sure to maintain tight abs and tight glutes.

NOTE: Think of holding a book on your head throughout this movement

racked carry
III. Factors that will force you to Auto Correct “1 – Arm Carry” Movements:

1.  Weak Grip

2.  Weak Shoulders

3.  Weak Obliques

4.  A Fatigued core could cause you to add a side-bend, increasing your chances of causing trauma to your back

5.  Having poor endurance and strength with your grip will cause you to use a lighter resistance or place the load down

6.  To insure you perform the movement correct and safe you need to make sure your torso is completely upright throughout the movement

NOTE:  Carrying things will cause you to auto correct due to two reasons, your arms & shoulders get tired from holding the weight overhead and you just can’t get enough oxygen due to compromised breathing from added pressure to the core.

OH Carry

Making your arms stronger through isometric positions will help to fix arm and shoulder fatigue making it easier to carry objects throughout your day.  A few of our favorite isometric exercises we use help to make your arm strong include planks, side planks, and reverse pillars.

As you progress to performing the overhead carry exercises your body will learn how to maintain stiffness throughout your torso (core) and you will begin to use your diaphragm more efficiently to bring air into the lungs.  As you start to learn and perform 1-arm carry movements the difficulty you have with breathing will be caused from the compression of the ribs during the exercise, and your body will adapt over time with consistent practice of performing the movement.  Everything your body learns from this movement is due to the stationary position you are putting your arm in.  Adding movement to the carry makes the exercise more dynamic and challenging.

Bottoms up carry

Committed to your health,

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1

HH Fitness, Inc.

the Leg Crank finish at HH Fitness

HH Fitness is in its 3rd phase of training at the Movement & Performance Institute for the Metabolic Accelerator Program (M.A.P.), these is our large group personal training sessions. When we use finishers within our training program we make sure the protocol being used is less than 12 minutes, with the average finisher being no more than 5 minutes . When this component of training is placed at the end of a training session it becomes the final exclamation point to your workout. This sets the tone for the rest of the day.

One of our finishers this phase is the Leg Crank Finisher. The Leg Crank only requires you to use your body weight. Body weight training may be the oldest and one of the best ways for resistance training. I first learned about the Leg Crank series about 8 years ago and have incorporated variations into the training programs for clients at HH Fitness. I first learned about the leg crank series from educational materials put out by JC Santana with the Institute of Human Performance (IHP). The Leg Crank Series is great if you need at great training session, but are pressed for time, space, and equipment.  It also works great if you have a training run scheduled, but are unable to get your run in due to bad weather or any other variable.

2015-02-17 17.46.01

What is the Leg Crank Series?

The leg crank series is a vicious serious of exercise that you may create a true love-hate relationship with. You will be challenged not only physically, but mentally as well. To make it through the leg crank series you will create mental toughness. The Leg Crank is a series of four exercises:

  1. Speed Squats
  2. Alternating Lunges
  3. Alternating Jumping Lunges
  4. Squat Jumps

To perform Leg Crank series you will perform the 24 repetitions of the speed squats, then 12 repetitions per leg of the Alternating Lunges, followed by 12 repetitions per leg of the Jumping Lunges, and finish it off with 12 repetitions of the squat jumps.

To get the biggest bang for your buck you may want to perform the Leg Crank series up to twice per week. You will want to progress slowly as you begin this series. You may find you need longer rest during the first few weeks of adding this to the end of your training sessions. Our phases of training are 6 weeks long, giving our clients time to build up to taken on the Leg Crank Series at greater intensities as we move through the phase. However, based on your fitness level you may find your rest may need to be longer or shorter to get the physiological demands needed to survive the leg crank. Here is a sample we would recommend to our clients for the Leg Crank finisher:

Level                     Sets                             Rest between exercises                      Recovery between sets

I                               2-3 circuits                 30 – 60 seconds                                        2 – 3 minutes

II                             4-5 circuits                 15 – 45 seconds                                         60 – 90 seconds

III                            5-6 circuits                No Recovery                                              No Recovery

 

Please note that the above samples are just that, a sample plan. Your own fitness level may be between a level 2 & 3. You may be able to perform the circuit non-stop for the desired repetitions, but may need to rest up to 60 seconds prior to starting the next cycle. D what you can, and not what you can’t!

 

Committed to your health,

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1

Head Coach

HH Fitness, Inc.

HH Fitness Tempo Interval Training

This is part two for the Method Behind the Madness for the 2015 phase 3 of our training. In part one we covered Tabatas (read more about tabatas here).

In part two we will cover an often-overlooked component of training, especially among boot camp instructors, is tempo. Tempo refers to the speed at which a repetition is performed with each repetition being broken down into the three distinct phases in the movements of muscles and tendons:

  • Lowering (eccentric) portion
  • Pause (isometric) portion
  • Lifting (concentric) portion

Unfortunately, most large group training programs &/or boot camp workouts only go at one speed… FAST!

silver runner

Lifting weights too fast can lead to many problems, the most obvious one being injuries. It’s critical that trainees lift with good form to both properly challenge the muscles of the body as well as avoid injuries. If a beginner who hasn’t learned proper technique just starts throwing weights around they’re bound to get hurt, and if not, they’re still going to be less than satisfied with their results. Lifting technique is critical for success, and when it comes to the relationship between speed and technique just remember that speed makes bad technique even worse!

On the flip side, the most widely accepted advice on tempo among fitness professionals is that you should lift and lower weights under full muscular “control” in a smooth, rhythmic fashion. This generally leads to a 2-0-1 tempo. For example, in the case of a squat you would lower your body for two seconds and then take one second to return to the starting position. While this is a much safer approach and will certainly create positive physical changes, it’s certainly not the only way to train…

Subtle differences in tempo can have extremely significant impacts on results, as research and practical application have shown that muscles respond differently to varying training tempos.

In addition, deliberately focusing an entire training session on just one aspect of the repetition range (eccentric, isometric, concentric) will yield great benefits, as well as offer variety and fun to your overall weight loss and fitness training program. It is this particular focus that we’ll be employing in our boot camp training program this month.

Eccentric Training

Science is proving what many bodybuilding experts have been preaching for years – that the negative, or eccentric, part of a repetition is extremely important for size and strength gains. In fact, in a now famous (among fitness geeks like me) informal study, Nautilus creator Arthur Jones put Casey Viator on an eccentric-only training routine.   According to Jones, “in five weeks of negative-only workouts Casey added seven pounds of bodyweight while increasing his muscularity.” In other words, he built muscle AND lost fat!

Eccentric training focuses on slowing down the elongation of a muscle and tendon group. In other words, it serves as a braking mechanism to protect your joints from damage prior to a subsequent concentric contraction. It’s critical to note that the vast majority of all chronic and acute injuries occur during deceleration type movements such as landing from a jump, quickly changing direction, or suddenly falling down. Think of eccentric training as sharpening your brakes so that your muscles and tendons are properly able to absorb kinetic energy and thus control any sudden or repetitive deceleration forces that may come your way. For this reason, it’s second to know for improving performance and reducing the risk of injuries in sport.

For example, when doing an eccentric step-up, you begin standing on top of a box or bench and then slowly take 5-seconds to lower yourself to the floor while staying tall up top and loading the heel of your support leg so the knee and ankle stay aligned. This exercise is unmatched for developing knee, ankle, and hip stability and building your quad and glute muscles to take pressure off of your knee during explosive movements like running and jumping. For this reason, this is one my favorite exercises to bulletproof the knees and is just what the doctor ordered for people with chronic knee pain from conditions such patellar tendonitis (“jumper’s knee”) or arthritis. In fact, if you are unable to do multiple sets of multiple reps of eccentric step-ups with 5-second lowering on a high box where your front thigh is parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement in a pain-free environment, then you have no business running or jumping whatsoever unless your goal is a traumatic knee injury.

2015-01-23 06.28.48

Why 5-second lowering? First it’s important to note that tendons connect muscles to bones. Using the step-up example above, your patellar tendon connects your quad muscle to your knee cap. Well it takes a full 4 seconds to eliminate the aforementioned stretch reflex, or stored elastic energy, in your muscle and tendon groups. Subsequently, this is why eccentric training works great in rehab settings for conditions such as tendinosis because it takes the bounciness of the tendons out of the movement and forces the muscles to do all of the work. In this way, the muscles grow stronger to take pressure off of the tendons it works in conjunction with working against deceleration forces.

One reason eccentric training may be so effective for muscle growth is because of the significant microtrauma it causes to muscle tissue. This skyrockets metabolism as the body is forced to busily repair all those damaged muscle fibers. “Eccentric actions place a stretch on the sarcomeres to the point where the myofilaments (myosin and actin) may experience strain, otherwise known as exercise induced delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS)” (Aaron Bubbico & Len Kravitz, 2010). There’s a large body of evidence suggesting that muscular damage is associated with increased muscle growth, although research is still inconclusive in this area (Brentano et al. 2011; Komulainen et al. 2000; Zanchi et al. 2010).

Plus, you are much stronger eccentrically than concentrically because your muscles can oppose more force than they can generate. Think about how much easier it is for you to sit down into a chair than to get up and stand out of it. This is why the best way to be able to learn how to perform challenging bodyweight movements like push-ups and pull-ups through a full range of motion is by first mastering the lowering portion. Finally, since your muscles are elongating during the eccentric portion of a movement this leads to greater total muscle recruitment and subsequently a great stimulus for muscle growth. For all of these reasons, eccentric training is a well known tool to break through any frustrating strength, muscle-building, or weight loss plateaus.

However, caution is advised when it comes to eccentric-only training. It is extremely taxing and can lead to severe soreness as mentioned earlier. It’s very important that eccentric-only training is performed in limited amounts for a limited period of time.

Finally, when designing an eccentric-only workout, it’s best to choose exercises that are “self-limiting” meaning that you won’t be able to finish a rep if your form is bad. Also, be sure to choose exercises that won’t place you in a dangerous position when you reach total muscle failure that would require a spotter like barbell squats or bench presses. That’s why exercises such as push-up, bodyweight row, single-leg squat, and step-up variations work great for eccentric-only training. After all, no one has ever died from collapsing to the floor while lowering from the top of a push-up – but sadly they have from bench pressing.

Isometric Training

An isometric contraction is a contraction of the target muscle in static positions at a specific joint angle in which tension is developed, but there is no change in the length of that target muscle (no movement). Tension can be developed by exerting force against immovable objects (overcoming isometrics) or by statically contracting a muscle to resist against an external force (gravity or added resistance) that ‘s attempting to force you into an eccentric contraction (yielding isometrics).

It is important to note that isometric training only increases strength at the specific joint angles in which the exercise is performed (e.g. statically holding the bottom of a push-up position about 1-2 inches off of the floor) where the classic dynamic exercises (e.g. dynamically performing a push-up where you lower your chest to the floor and back up to the top position) increases strength throughout the full range of motion of an exercise. However, isometric contractions can improve maximal strength at specific joint angles better than their dynamic counterparts. This is because dynamic exercises are often performed very quickly and engage the stretch reflex – the natural bounciness, or elasticity, of your muscles and connective tissues – so that some muscle fibers will not be fully activated due to force contributions from your tendons. The best example of this is how much more your muscles burn when you slowly walk up the stairs rather than quickly running up the stairs.

2015-01-24 08.55.39

Though isometric training has traditionally been popularized by yoga and Chinese martial arts like Kung Fu, it can and should be used for general strength and conditioning as well. It’s also a popular training tool in rehab situations because as I mentioned earlier, it helps strengthen the muscles at very specific joint angles and weak points. Plus, when properly applied, isometrics don’t place undue stress on the joints like other fast, high-impact dynamic exercises can because it takes the tendons out of the movement (think tendonitis of the knee caused by lots of running and jumping).

Isometric holds can also be used to significantly increase training intensity because you generally are able to hold a heavier weight than you can actually lift (concentric training). Bodybuilders and strength athletes will often use isometric holds at the end of a set to train “beyond failure” thus creating a greater stimulus for muscle and strength gains.

In a boot camp setting, where the goal is to develop a “tight and toned body” along with improving strength, endurance, balance and function isometric-only exercises can add great benefits. They’re also mentally challenging and can be a lot of fun.

In this case, isometrics work best with core exercises like pillar variations and postural exercises like resisted scapular retractions and depressions. Isometric training is also great for single-leg balance hold variations, and specifically targeting weak points of movements such as the bottom of a squat or at the top of a hip extension hold.

Furthermore, isometric holds performed at joint range of motion extremes are great for increasing muscle flexibility and joint mobility. For example, holding the bottom of a split squat with your front thigh parallel to the floor is a great way to not only strengthen the muscles and knee, hip, and ankle stabilizers of the lead leg, but also to increase the quad and hip flexor flexibility of your trail leg.

Now, I believe the best way to get the most out of your isometric training is by opting to perform short 10-second work periods of isometric contractions with brief rest periods between them.

Why 10 seconds for the core stability holds?

Well, it’s simple- it’s about QUALITY over QUANTITY.

When most people perform isometric holds for 30-60+ seconds they tend to spend a majority of the time in compensated positions due to fatigue. This really prevents the trainee from getting the maximum benefit from performing the exercise. In other words, long sets make us weak and make us cheat.

However, if we shift the focus on maximum activation and contraction with short, focused 10-second holds we get more bang for our back.

For example, which option outlined below sounds like it has a greater benefit:

Perform ONE low intensity, wobbly, shoddy front plank for minutes on end OR perform many sets of maximum effort 10-second front plank holds with perfect form and technique for the same total time-under-tension (TUT)?

If you chose the latter then you are indeed correct. If it’s the same total volume (or TUT) there will be greater muscle recruitment with the submaximal repeat set format and thus a better overall training effect.

In fact, it’s quite similar in nature to the whole Escalating Density Training (EDT) format popularized by legendary strength coach Charles Staley in his book Muscle Logic. Staley claims that better short and long-term results will occur from multiple sets of submaximal reps then a single set of maximal effort.

I believe this whole 10-second core stability concept stemmed from Gray Cook who is a world-renowned physical therapist well known for his Functional Movement Screen (FMS).

Here is what master Physical Therapist Dr. Kareem Samhouri says about the whole 10-second isometric hold concept and here’s his direct reply:

“10 seconds for isometrics?  I give exception to the plank b/c your ‘core’ needs to be ‘on’ for up to 60-90 seconds at a time during various activities.  Athletes need to go longer than this if they are endurance athletes, but this is not max contraction. Other exercises, with a non-lengthening/shortening contraction, as follows:

– Your muscle takes 2 seconds to ramp up intensity

– You can sustain maximal motor unit recruitment for 6 seconds

– Your muscle will then ramp down for 2 seconds

– 2 + 6 + 2 = 10 seconds: The optimal isometric contraction is 10 seconds as a result

Hope this helps!”

Does this mean you can or should never do 30-60+ second core stability holds again?

NO!

As Dr. K noted, long-duration core stability holds have their place for endurance athletes or people with advanced core stability.

But it does mean that 10 seconds is the optimal length of time to work on isometric strength and it’s most likely a better fit for the general population, especially for entry-level core programming.

There isn’t much in the way of studies or literature supporting this 10-second core stability concept, but I’m sure there will be in the years to come as some of the top trainers and coaches in the world are using it with great success with their clients and athletes.

Concentric Training

The concentric portion of a muscular contraction is the most obvious portion. It’s the lifting, pressing or pulling portion.

Oftentimes, uneducated or sloppy lifters will only focus on the concentric portion of an exercise by lifting the weight in a controlled fashion only to follow it by “dropping” the weight back to the starting position. Just picture your gym-rat meathead who grunts his way through a way-too-heavy bench press and then drops the weight back to his chest before moaning his way through another ugly rep. This has proven to be a very ineffective way of training for long-term gains, and is also more likely to lead to injuries.

However, when performed properly, concentric “focused” training has a significant place in your overall training regimen. Let’s take a closer look…

First, let’s quickly review Olympic lifting. The Olympic lifts consist of the clean & jerk and the snatch. These lifts are entirely concentric because the lifter’s only goal is to rip the weight off the floor and get it to the end position. Once achieved, the lifter will actually drop the weight…there is no eccentric portion to the exercise.

You certainly can’t argue with the athleticism and fitness level of these lifters. In fact, some would say that the Olympic lifts and their component exercises are the most beneficial exercises for total fitness. After all, these exercises involve the entire body as one functional unit, place a tremendous workload on the muscular and cardiovascular system, burn a ton of calories in a short period of time, and create an enormous post-workout metabolic boost. Pretty awesome, right?

Of course, not everyone has access to Olympic lifting equipment or a qualified Olympic lifting coach, but there are other ways to perform concentric-focused workouts. For one, kettlebell variations can be just as effective, are generally easier to learn, and are far more convenient than traditional Olympic barbell lifts.

2015-01-28 06.37.45

Another variation on the concentric-focused training theme is to select exercises that focus on explosive movements like punching, kicking, throwing, and spearing. You can also use ropes for pulling and sleds for dragging. The options are endless…

Tempo Interval Training Boot Camp Template

Workout A- Eccentric Training

  Corrective Level I Level II Level III
1 Leg Lowers Hip Hinge Deadlift Increase Load
2 Rolling PU Hold Eccentric Pushup Eccentric Side-Side PU / 1-arm PU
3 Butterfly Stretch Eccentric Squat Staggered Stance Eccentric 1-Leg Squat Progression
4 Reach Backs Decrease Angle TRX Eccentric Row Increase Angle
2 min of FUN Bird-Dog / Hip Extension Superset Static Holds Bear Crawl / Crab Walk Superset Increase Speed

 

Workout B- Isometric Training

  Corrective Level I Level II Level III
1 Rolling BW PU Hold Band PU Hold Add Band
2 Short lever Side Plank Side Plank Battle Rope Side Plank Increase Spd
3 BW 1-Leg Balance Decrease Load 1-Leg Balance in Rack Position Increase Load or go Overhead
4 Split Squat ISO Hold BodyWeight Med-Ball Split/Lateral/Rotational Squat Circuit Increase Load
5 Prone “Y” Decrease Angle TRX Scap Hold Increase Angle

 

Workout C- Concentric Training

  Corrective Level I Level II Level III
1 ———- Decrease Speed Jabs and Straights Increase Speed
2 1-Leg Balance Decrease Speed Front Kicks Increase Speed
3 Floor Slides Body Weight Upper Cuts Add Load Add Load perform a contralateral alternating Overhead Press
4 ½ Kneeling Abductor Bodyweight Lateral Lunge with Reach Increase Speed or Load
5 Leg Lowers KB Deadlift KB Swing Increase Load or 1-Arm Swings
6 Bird-Dogs Decrease Load MB Russians Increase Load

 

Committed to your health,

Heath Herrera, M.Ed., CSCS, YFS1

Head Coach

HH Fitness, Inc.

a proud member of the Fitness Revolution and Athletic Revolution nation

Name:
Email: