Lately more and more people have been chiming on training breathing — which is great! As a young trainer, I really enjoy and value all the differing perspectives on this topic as it helps me sift through the information and get an idea of what the experts are doing with it. That said, it is an area I want to read more about myself to better understand why it is becoming an area of focus for trainers.

My favourite point I’ve heard so far is Charlie Weingroff’s stance on training reflexive stability of the core. Though it wasn’t specifically about breathing, he made a wonderful distinction between corrective exercise for the core and conditioning the core.

This painted a very clear picture for me — along with the all-to-common “its so common sense, how didn’t I think of that?!”

Let me state that prior to hearing this, I was very skeptical about the practical application of the proper breathing information. I was not keen on using 5 minutes of my time to have a client lay on their back and breathe…just breathe. I also just felt that something like that is out of my scope — I thought that breaking it down this much was for a rehab professional.

But Charlie’s thoughts were perfectly succinct. I realized I had been training core stability with a high threshold strategy — which excludes the element of timing which is so central to spinal stability. I realized this wasn’t necessarily right nor wrong, just that depending on the client’s level of “fitness” and the exercise, I had to train more than just a single stabilizing strategy. Then the realization that training breathing while training a simple core demand hit me. So simple.

This includes things like planks, side planks, anti-rotation presses, chops, lifts, etc. When we get to the big stuff like bench pressing, split squats or any other “conditioning” exercise, that is where the high threshold strategy stuff has gone — basically the whole bracing approach. I’ll admit though that even this is very grey (gray?) to me as over-bracing isn’t optimal either.

A couple things I want to pass on today:

I’ve been reading Eric’s stuff ever since I caught the “personal training”/”info junkie” bug about half way through my personal training course at the YMCA in 2006. Because of his knowledge and having achieved so much at a young age, I’ve always viewed him as a mentor in that respect.

Anyways last week, Eric let the cat of the bag on his new product (Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better) which will be released on September 21st. Yesterday he released the first video clip from his product. Its 7 minutes of info most everyone could use prior to a squatting session. There are also some variations I haven’t seen of the drills, so it got my mind working too – my clients always enjoy me talking like this….

Without further ado, check it out HERE!!

Also, take a look at this blog post from Tony Gentilcore who coincidentally enough, is one of the other big dogs at Cressey Performance. He discussed the difference in swing technique – a “hip snap” swing vs. a “squat” swing.

In all honesty, this was a mistake I was making with it until I returned from Providence, and since then I’ve had to re-visit the pattern with my clients to clean it up. It has also lead to some adjustment in my progressions and how I train a proper hip hinge pattern, which to me is a big positive. Also, one of my clients mentioned this last night, so I think it bears repeating – For the guys out there, do NOT be afraid of hitting your “special area” with the dumbbell! Think more of the wrist being drawn down to that area.

That’s it for today! Check out those links and Tony’s special blend of information and entertainment on his blog!

Closed chain leg curls have been largely seen as an advancement from the machine based open chain version (lying, seating, standing). The reason being that in activities of daily living and/or athletic performance, the hamstrings concurrently perform both knee flexion and hip extension. The machines on the other hand only train the knee flexion component (although an argument could be made for the standing version, but I don’t think it’s a superior option in any sense).

So equipment pieces like stability balls and Valslides have become popular to train this movement.

I think Valslides and slideboards are the gold standard for the performance of this exercise based on the demand they place on the involved tissues, but not everyone has access to them.

Stability balls just by keeping the body higher in the air are often easier yet also more practical for the majority of gym goers – especially in commercial type settings. But even with a simple stability ball, modifications often have to be made to those just getting into functional training (and away from the bodybuilding-inspired approaches).

We can do eccentrics just like with the Valslides and slideboard. Just get the hips up, and slowly roll the ball out for 5 seconds, then drop the hips to the floor and bring the ball back to the butt. If this is too tough try 3 seconds…or just do hip extensions on the ball. Better yet in this case, master hip extensions off the ball first.

Doing the whole movement with the hips low is essentially demonstrates a lack of hip extension strength, and thus the effectiveness of the exercise is lost. Often these regressions just aren’t common sense and/or they are assumed to be “too easy/sissy”, but your body will always tell you where your current level of functional fitness is, and its our job to pay attention to it rather than dismiss it in denial.

Anyways, I write this because there was a young woman at the gym performing these who needed to begin with a modified variation of the stability ball version. It was extremely refreshing to see someone utilize smart training methods in that setting, and she had a great attitude when I offered up the tip. Maybe there is some hope after all.

Here’s a visual representation of the “start” position:

Not like this.

Like this.