Content – Strength and Flexibility


 

Improve your hamstring  mobility in a matter of weeks…

 

Have you struggled with hamstring tightness for years which has prevented you from enjoying your favorite outdoor activities.

You have been doing your toe-touch and track hurdler stretches for years but just never seem to make any progress with your condition.

Often times you head out to train just wondering when they will begin to tighten up.  Sometimes you get lucky, but more often than not they start bothering you and you have to slow down or cut your intensity.

Another blown training session.   What if you could learn a unique stretching method that has been designed exclusively to help endurance athletes improve hamstring mobility and keep things running smoothly again.

No I am not talking about Yoga.  While good for general stretching Yoga just does not have the specificity to get the job done for endurance athletes.

 

  • Tightness and Pain

Do your hamstrings begin to tighten up during training sessions?

 

  • Back Stiffness

Once your hamstrings get tight do you experience back stiffness as well?

 

  • Clicking Noises

Do you experience clicking noises in the back or sides of your knee?

 

  • Frustration

Have you been trying to improve your hamstring flexibility for years?  Doing Yoga, Pilates, and other remedies that just do not seem to put a dent in your condition?

 

  • Lack of Strength

Do you feel that your power is reduced when you are running, cycling, and rowing?  Like someone is holding you back?

 

If you answered yes to any or all of the above questions then my “Free Report” will be a certain benefit for you and may be the answer you have been looking for.

 

While flexibility is only one part to the equation when it comes to a balanced musculoskeletal system you have to improve it first.  As I always say to clients; “You can’t strengthen it if you can’t get there”

The most efficient way to progress sis to run through a full Body Balance Evaluation, as it gives you a clear of you individual strength and flexibility deficits, and you then learn how to quickly correct them.

Squats for Endurance Athletes

Partial vs Deep — which one’s right for you?

 

By Coach Kaehler

 

Rowing is one of the few sports that significantly benefits from strengthening the hip and knee joints through a full range of motion.  One of the most effective training movements that offers this range of motion is the squat.  For a rower, the squat can be your best friend or your worst enemy.  Conditions that may impair your ability to perform squats include osteoarthritis or previous meniscus damage.  Without these physiological concerns, and if performed correctly, this simple yet highly effective movement can significantly improve the strength and power of your rowing stroke.

 

To improve hip and knee extension strength and power, few exercises rival the pay-off of the traditional squat.  An established favorite among trainers across a wide range of sports, squatting has nonetheless suffered its share of misconceptions.  Two of the most debated and questioned elements of the squat include squatting depth (i.e. how far the hips should be relative to knee joints), and intensity.

 

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Loosen-up!  Tried and true techniques for stretching tight hamstrings

By Coach Kaehler

Are you tired of feeling tight in your hamstrings after a long run or row?  Does it feel like no matter how much you stretch, you never feel like you’re making any progress?   While hamstring tightness can be caused by a number of factors, the great thing is you can improve their mobility.  There are two key ways to improve your overall stretching effectiveness and both will make noticeable improvements in your flexibility and post-training discomfort.  I am one of those athletes who must constantly work on my hamstring mobility.  Building these two stretching techniques into my warm-up helps ensure I stay mobile and fluid.

When stretching the hamstrings, the natural tendency is to do the basic toe-touch movement where you are stretching out the entire spine (flexion), hamstrings, and glutes.  The standard for general flexibility is whether or not you can touch your toes.  While this does stretch your hamstrings, it also stretches your back muscles (paraspinal muscles) at the same time.  This is a very common, yet less effective way, to improve your hamstring mobility.

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Get My Report (17 Pages) on How To Improve Your Hamstring Flexibility ($3.99) Click Here To Learn More

 

 Squats and Deadlifts are Similar but Different

By Coach Kaehler

Squats and deadlifts are common lifting techniques used to help improve rowing strength and power.   While they look similar in appearance, recent research has shown that back squats and the dead lift recruit muscles around the hips, knees and trunk in different ways.   The squat tends to be a synergistic or simultaneous movement of the hips, knees and trunk, whereas the deadlift is a sequential or segmented movement.   Using all three of these lifts may be a more inclusive way to develop complete rowing power; however certain physical conditions may exclude use of one or all of these techniques.

The back squat is a commonly used strength training technique to help improve rowing power and it helps develop strength in the glutes, quads and hamstrings and to a lesser extent in the low back and abdominal muscles.   A back squat is done by placing the bar behind the neck at the C7 vertebral level securing the bar with the hands.   The weight is lowered to the desired depth (hole) and returned to the starting position.  Hip and knee angles change equally, both working at similar rates, throughout the entire upward movement of the squat, with little change in trunk angle (body) during the entire lift.

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Stretch Yourself – When selecting a Stretching Routine, Consider the Work Ahead of You.

By Coach Kaehler

Everyone knows that stretching is an essential part of training, but for many people, their knowledge of the subject ends there. Is it best to stretch before or after training? How long should a stretch be held? These are simple but fundamental questions that every athlete should be able to answer. Here’s a hint: It all depends on the type of stretching you’re doing and what you want to accomplish.

Athletes have two unassisted stretching methods to improve flexibility: static and ballistic. Static stretching is the most common method for improving muscle flexibility; ballistic stretching helps improve mobility. Selecting a technique depends on whether you are just warming up or are looking for more permanent changes in your flexibility. You also need to consider the intensity of the activity taking place immediately following your stretching routine.

To perform a static stretch, which is most commonly used as part of a warm-up routine, isolate a muscle group or groups and apply a passive hold with multiple repetitions. Typical holds last between three to five seconds and are repeated five to 10 times.  Longer-duration holds of 30 to 60 seconds are better performed away from training and are best suited to those looking to make permanent changes in joint flexibility.

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Will Strength Training Lead to Increased Muscle Mass?

-Only if you want it to.

By Coach Kaehler

Is it possible to improve speed and power through strength training without increasing body mass? Many endurance athletes and coaches think not, and tend to shy away from such programs  such programs fearing the extra weight will slow them down.  For gravity-dependent endurance sports like running and cycling a significant increase in body mass can lead to a decrease in training and racing performance. Lightweight rowers face similar effects on their performance if lean muscle mass increases.   Otherwise, however, most of these fears are unfounded.

So where do they come from?  Here in the United States, the fear that lifting weights will bulk you up, a condition known as hypertrophy, has been influenced by the bodybuilding community, whose training methods are designed to maximize weight gain  The bodybuilding community has adopted specific training methods that are designed to maximize weight gain.  These should be avoided if your goals do not include increasing muscle mass.   Good endurance strength training programs tend to focus on increasing sports specific strength and power with minimal changes to body mass.

Bodybuilders want to increase muscle mass and shape without any consideration of functional strength or increasing sports specific power.  Their training programs tend to focus on body-part isolation and employ higher repetitions (12-20 reps) with moderate to heavy weights.

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Summary – Strength and Conditioning Practices in Rowing

Article Summary by Coach Kaehler

Rowing is one of the most demanding of all endurance sports.  While most of the energy contribution comes from aerobic metabolism, anaerobic qualities such as muscular strength and power are also key predictive qualities leading to overall rowing success.  A survey was recently conducted in Great Britain among rowing coaches and strength and conditioning (S&C) coaches who worked with rowers. The results of this survey were published in the The Journal of Strength and Conditioning.

The British survey examined issues surrounding the use of strength training in rowing programs.  Of the 54 questionnaires sent out, 32 responses were submitted for analysis.   Twenty-two of the participants were rowing coaches, and the other 10 were S&C coaches.  The average age of the coaches was 32 years and mean coaching experience was 10.5 years.  35% of the respondents coached Olympic level athletes; another 35% had coached at the National level; and the remainder coached at the Club, Regional, and University levels.   81% of the respondents held a Bachelors degree, and 34% a Masters degree.

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Core Beliefs

-To increase power and reduce the risk of injury, focus on your trunk strength.

By Coach Kaehler

Are you incorporating core- or trunk-strengthening exercises into your training program? And if so, what are you actually trying to accomplish with them? Your body’s core consists of the musculature around the trunk that controls anterior, posterior, and lateral forces placed through the spine when rowing, lifting, exercising, or performing other body movements. Making the trunk or core the point of stability for the legs and arms to work from is key to improving your rowing power and helps reduce the risk of low-back injury.
There are four categories of core exercises: fixed trunk with moving legs; fixed legs with moving trunk; fixed arms and legs; and all extremities moving. We can then break down each category according to how the trunk is positioned to the work or gravity (anterior, posterior, standing, lateral, etc) and how the work is applied to the trunk. Improving trunk strength is one way to increase rowing power, and using exercises from each of the above categories will help you develop balanced trunk strength. (Many training programs focus solely on improving anterior trunk strength.)

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Improving your Hamstring Flexibility

By Coach Kaehler

Have you ever complained that your hamstrings always feel tight?  No matter how much you stretch your hamstrings, they never seem to become more flexible?

Flexibility is a key factor in allowing you to get into the best body position at the catch, and in achieving a long, strong, and powerful rowing stroke.  Tight hamstrings limit your ability to achieve this ideal body position.   Static and dynamic stretching are two effective methods used to improve your flexibility.  Long term changes to flexibility require consistent effort.  The hamstrings are no exception.

Static stretching has long been used as a way to increase flexibility in muscles, and improve range of motion in joints.  This type of stretching is done without  movement (i.e. you remain still).  The force or pressure is applied to the area being stretched by an outside force, such as a wall, strap or another person.

Studies have shown that the biggest improvements in ranges of motion occur when the end range stretch position is held for longer periods of time (10+ seconds, o r longer).   The stretch position should be repeated multiple times (5-10) for greater results.  For athletes looking to actually get a permanent change in their flexibility, consistency becomes a key factor.   Stretching should be done every day, and if possible, several times a day for even greater results.

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Effects of Strength Training on Endurance Performance

Column Editor- Bob Kaehler, MSPT, CSCS

By Robert Blaisdell, BS, CSCS

The notion of endurance athletes training for their sport while utilizing non-sport specific resistance training has long been in dispute for its supposed adverse physiological changes and the interference with peak performance in endurance sport endeavors. This school of thought governed the training principles of endurance sport athletes despite developments in periodization and knowledge of specific training applications for endurance sport for quite some time.

The highly trained marathon runner is hardly the ideal “poster-person” for the promotion of body-building in the traditional sense of lifting huge amounts of mass in a sweaty gym, nor is the highly trained body-builder the ideal “poster-person” for the next big regatta’s marketing campaign. Seasoned athletes in each of their respective sport areas know better and would scoff at either of the aforementioned sights. But what a few, and growing number of these seasoned athletes know is that some beneficial cross-over adaptations taking place when one implements training strategies that utilize some formerly “taboo” methods. Both strength and endurance training methods can be valuable to one’s health and fitness levels when implemented safely and scientifically, but a combination of the two can be quite advantageous for an athlete, especially the endurance sport athlete. Keep in mind that there are specific training protocols which should be followed for optimal results and such aspects will be discussed later in this article. It is the intent of this article to promote the use of strength training as a practical and advisable means to utilize in the training for endurance sport. With that being said, this paper will attempt to discuss and explain the benefits of strength training for endurance performance through describing the physiological adaptations to strength and endurance training programs, the effects of strength training on endurance performance in several endurance sports, and how to effectively implement a strength training protocol in an individual’s endurance sport training program.

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Lower-Mid Back Strength Conditioning for Rowing Performance:

Coach Kaehler MSPT, CSCS

Column Editor:

By Bob Blaisdell

 

The sport of rowing inherently places great stresses on the entire body and being conditioned to such stresses can mean the difference between rowing all season or simply recovering on the injured list. Conditioning for the rowing movement is essential for injury prevention, maintenance of fitness level and peak performance in competition. The rowing sequence is broken into four phases- the catch, the drive, the finish, and recovery. During each phase of the rowing sequence the lower- mid back and resulting musculature play a pivotal role in the transfer of power from the legs to the oar in the water. Optimally, there would be no loss of power but the structure of the human body is not designed for flawless operation in such a sequenced motion. We can, however, lessen the gap by conditioning these areas that may be weakened, inflexible, or suffering from an imbalance. Though there are numerous modalities to train for this rigorous sport, this article will discuss the biomechanics involving the lower-mid back during the rowing sequence, pathology of injury to this area, structure and function of optimal spine stiffness necessary for peak performance as well as two strength exercises to elicit such gains.

The biomechanics, specifically involving the lower-mid back, during the rowing sequence was best described by Thomas Mazzone, MD. He observed that during the catch phase the erector spinae are relaxed, with trunk flexion occurring via the abdominals. The drive phase has primary leg emphasis with stabilizing muscles supporting, body swing completed from back extension and contraction of the erector spinae group. During the drive phase the latissimus dorsi and erector spinae group are highly active and are continually contracted through the finish phase. The upper arms are internally rotated by contracting the latissimus dorsi. The recovery phase involves the abdominals flexing the torso.

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Does Strength Training Help Improve Your Flexibility?

By Coach Kaehler

Recent research has look at this question with interesting results.   Most often people use passive stretching as the main method to try and increase flexibility in particular muscle groups.  Passive stretching has been shown to improve flexibility if consistently done over a long period of time.  The question is can you combine your flexibility training into a strength program?  And if so what movements improve flexibility?

An article posted in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research in May of 2008 titled “Influence of Strength Training on Adult Women’s Flexibility” (Monteiro, Simao, et.al) looked at how 10 weeks of strength training influenced flexibility in sedentary middle-aged women.  The exercises used in the study included bench press(free-weight), Smith squat machine, anterior wide grip lat pull-down, 45-degree leg press, 30-degree inclined bench press, hack squat machine, and abdominal crunches. The average age of the women in the study was 37 years + 1.7 years.   This particular study demonstrated that after training for 10 weeks and going through three (3) circuits of 8 to 12 repetitions of the seven (7) exercises listed above, that  significant improvements in range of motion occurred with the following movements;  hip flexion and extension, trunk flexion and extension and shoulder horizontal adduction.  The areas that did not improve range of motion where elbow and knee flexion.

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