Get Strong

Fast Fingers

If you play a sport you will benefit from training your hands. Getting the hands strong in all the various grips; power, hook, ball, pinch, precision, finger abduction, adduction and extension leads to tremendous hand and upper body power. Studies have shown, "Four Weeks of finger grip training increases the rate of force development and the maximal force in elite and world-top ranking climbers.", meaning hand and finger training will change performance.

Matt Jennings, the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Xavier University, understands that changing the rate of force development in a basketball players fingers can mean who retains the ball in a highly contested contest and even change the outcome of a game. His athletes train the various grips selecting particular training devices from their Pendulum Grip Cart. They also use the Pendulum Gripper to maximize their power, measure results and Get Strong.

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Pendulum Grip Cart

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Pendulum Gripper

Topics: Pendulum Gripper, Pendulum Grip Cart

Sprint Running Form And The Test

Coaches and athletes spend a great deal of time on running mechanics.  Utilizing film and having handouts of what you are trying to accomplish speeds the process. If you truly want athletes to understand the action of sprinting give them a quiz, you will be surprised how much better they will correct their form when drilled.

Sprint Running Form

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I. The Hands and Arms  - the faster the arms go the faster the legs go

     A. Relax your hands

         1. If the hands are relaxed the chances are good that the arms and shoulders will be                     relaxed

          2. The index finger and thumb should slightly touch or the hand should remain in a                     natural  position

          3. Start with your lower arm at right angle to the upper arm

          4. Powerfully drive your hand forward no higher than your shoulder

          5. Keep the right angle while vigorously pumping your arms

     B. The rear action of the arm is responsible for higher need lift

          1. The thumb should almost brush your thigh on the descent of your arm

          2. The downward moving hand should clear the buttocks

          3. Keep the arm at a right angle during the stroke allowing the elbow to open slightly at                the end of the stroke

          4. Your upper arm should become almost parallel to the ground

          5. Always assure that there isn't excessive swinging of the lower arm during running -                 maintaining the right angle of the lower and upper arm

      C. Proper movement of the arms and insures unnecessary rotation of the lower torso

          1. While pumping your arms keep your shoulders Square

          2. While pumping your arms do not rotate your hips

II. Head neck and shoulders - position and relaxation allows for faster arm movement, a more powerful stroke, and greater knee lift

       A. Relax muscles of the face

           1. Breathe through your mouth and nose

           2. Relax your mouth

           3. Eyes should be focused at an object in eye level straight ahead - not at your feet or                  upward

           4. The head should always remain in a normal postural position

           5. Never allow the head to rock from side to side or move up or down

       B. Relax your shoulders

           1. Keep your shoulders down while pumping your arms

           2. Do not shrug your shoulders toward your ears

           3. Relax shoulders allow you to pump your arms faster

           4. Keep your shoulders square

III. Legs foot and torso - knee lift must be without improper body rotation and avoidance of prancing

        A. The torso should be upright

           1. When running the trunk should be slightly forward of vertical

           2. Do not allowed torso rotation

           3. Do not allow bending in the middle of the torso - crunching

           4. Do not allow bending backwards

           5. Run tall

        B.  High knee lift is desirable and completion of the drive stroke or drive leg is desirable

           1. Left your knee high with a powerful stroke

           2. The drive must take place wholly behind the body's vertical line with the drive leg

           3. At no time should there be an attempt to reach out with the lifted foot

           4. The lifted foot should be slightly cocked or plantar flexed

           5. The returning lifted foot will land slightly ahead of the body and then we'll be used to                drive forward

 

The Sprint Running Form Quiz   100% is Required

Fill in the blank

In running the faster the arms go the faster the  ___________________go.

The proper rear action of the arms is responsible for __________________.

When pumping your arms your shoulders should remain __________________.

Proper movement of the arms ensures unnecessary rotation of the _____________.

How should your head, in relation to your torso, remain when running with proper form?

____________________________________________________________________.

True or False

You should run tall?________

You should not reach out with your lifted foot when running? _________

You should not shrug your shoulders when running? ________

You should relax your head and neck and shoulders when running? ________

You should run run run run run with great form to get better? _________

You should relax your mouth running? __________

You must be in great physical condition to perform your best? __________

The head should remain in a normal postural position? ____________

Breathe through your mouth and nose?_________

If your hands are relaxed the arms and shoulders will probably be relaxed? __________

 

 

Topics: Running, Skill, Success

The Bulk Of The Deep Neck Flexors

The longus colli muscle, based upon it's comparative size, forms the bulk of the deep flexor muscles of the neck. Often those who sustain neck injuries receive trauma to these fibers. The issue becomes rehabilitation for the reduction of future problems.  Incorporating this tissue as a regular part of your exercise regime is an important consideration in program design.

Consistently include deep neck flexor work on the Pendulum 4 and 5 Way Neck Machines by utilizing the last four holes on the 'neck cam', that is, either the 12th 13th, 14th or the 15th position. The movement is accomplished by placing your face on the pad as one would normally do.  Once situated, the cervical muscles are contracted by beginning the exercise leading with the chin. By initiating the motion with the lower jaw the lifter will immediately feel the targeted flexor group. A terrific way to Get Strong.

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 The Pendulum Neck Machine with the Face Pad in the #12 Setting 

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  The Pendulum Neck Machine with the Face Pad in the #15 Setting

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck

Indiana Basketball

Indiana Basketball

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 Having strong hips and shoulders is important in all sports - Get Strong.

Topics: Pendulum Shoulder/Incline, Pendulum Hip Press

The Most Important Exercise

In March of 2014, The American Journal of Sports Medicine published, Effect of neck muscle strength and anticipatory cervical muscle activation on the kinematic response of the head to impulsive loads, they concluded "Interventions aimed at increasing athletes' neck strength and reducing unanticipated impacts may decrease the risk of concussion associated with sport participation."  This has important meaning for male and female athletes across the age spectrum for them to achieve greater neck strength and always improve their skill. By doing so they will be more accomplished in the anticipation of bracing for impact (anticipatory cervical muscle activation) and can reduce the magnitude of the head's subconcussive and concussive forces if incidences do occur.

A concussion (MTB, mild traumatic brain injury) and a variety of head and neck injuries are occurrences and risks associated with many of the sports that we play.  On October 1st, 2017, The Journal of Biomedical Engineering published, The Role of Neck Muscle Activities on the Risk of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury in American Football. Knowing neck strength is an effective preventative strategy in reducing sports related concussions, researchers wanted to examine the 'why' strength changed the head's kinematic response? They looked at four different muscle activation strategies - no muscle response, a reactive muscle response, a pre-activation response, and response due to stronger muscle strength to compare the effects of neck muscles on the risk of sustaining a concussion. "Simulation results indicated that active responses of neck muscles could effectively reduce the risk of brain injury." Increased neck strength can decrease the time to compress the neck and guard against the traumatic effects of injury. This study reaffirmed the aforementioned 2014 research.

As it turns, performance aside, this is why we strength train, to build our musculature to protect us as best we can during competition. Without question the number one and most important area of our body to train are the muscles of the head and neck. And if we are to look at training for performance -- remember as an athlete or coach, 'Where the head goes the body will follow', decreasing response time of neck muscles allows the body to move faster. Having quick responsive musculature throughout the system and a comparatively slower head and neck musculature is counterintuitive. 

Make head and neck training a priority to keep athletes safe and Get Strong.

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 The Pendulum 5 Way Head and Neck Machine

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

When Being Neutral Is An Advantage

The semispinalis muscles are a group of three muscles located in the back of the cervicothoracic spine. These large and long muscles are involved in rotation, lateral flexion and when acting bilaterally extend the head and neck as a unit.

The semispinalis cervicis together with the semispinalis capitis are powerful neck extensors. When training it is important to note that these muscles are strongest in the neutral position. Starting a neck extension exercise with the neck flexed does not allow you to utilize the weight that these muscles are capable of moving. Take advantage of the neutral position when training on the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Neck Machines to Get these powerful extensors Strong.

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 Starting Neck Extension from Neutral on the Pendulum 4 Way Neck Machine

 

Topics: Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck

Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University introduces their new Wildcat football program and new Pendulum weight room. They will be Getting Strong in Marion, Indiana.

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Topics: Announcements, Success

Don't Drop Drop-sets From Your Program

In April of this year the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness published - Effects of drop set resistance training on acute stress indicators and long-term muscle hypertrophy and strength. The findings were..."Superior muscle gains might be achieved with a single set of DS (drop set) compared to 3 sets of conventional RT (resistance training), probably due to higher stress experienced in the DS protocol."

Drop-sets are done in numerous ways, in general it is a simple technique whereby you perform a set of an exercise and then reduce or 'drop' the weight and continue for more repetitions with less poundage or greater leverage. 

There are many many methods how drop-sets are accomplished; stripping of weight from a barbell, quickly grabbing lighter and lighter dumbbells, changing pin settings on selectorized machines, continually changing grip or stance during an exercise, changing the range of motion and more.

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The Pendulum 'Set Extension Technology" is an ideal training method especially for in-season reduced training time and obtaining the desired results in a shorter interval. With an athletes normal weight, the spotter simply changes range of motion once the athlete cannot finish a repetition. All Pendulum strength machines with their 'S.E.T. Extension System' are made to simply and quickly change the length of movement. A Drop-set on the Pendulum strength equipment is an easy and efficient way to Get Strong.

Call or 'drop-in' at the Pendulum showroom in Clare, Michigan to find out about or try out the Rogers Athlete strength equipment.

 Pendulum S.E.T. Technology

Topics: Strength Training, Pendulum 3 Way Row, Muscular Strength

Lateral Neck Flexion And Leverage

Training the head and neck is complex and leverage must be managed. In head and neck exercises we often use our traps and torso to accelerate and decelerate weight, either consciously or unconsciously, interfering with development. Coaches therefore teach proper form of exercise to achieve a desired amplification of force by putting us in appropriate leverage advantage and disadvantage positions to maximize muscular output. 

We elevate our traps by shrugging to protect our cervical spine, which keeps our head and neck from going to far into extension. We also use our traps to assist in accelerating our head and neck forward into flexion, protective actions that are reflexive in nature. These movements can readily be seen through the example of a loud noise occurring. Upon hearing a strange sharp noise you quickly shrug to assist in ducking your head and the quickly elevated traps protect the head and neck from being whiplashed backwards.

We also use our torso to move our head in space, this allows us to fully flex the muscles of the head and neck while dodging anything that is about to make contact with our countenance. Against a load on a neck machine it is very difficult to have lateral flexion of the head and neck without lateral flexion of the spine accompanied by some rotation, this is simply how our structures move as we contract our muscles.

In studies on training the neck, it has been found that the greatest electrical activity in the targeted musculature is achieved sitting.  But though this is the effective position, coaches know that even in a seated posture and properly addressing the leverage of the traps and torso ...... it is the arms that are often used to what in the 'exercise world' has been labeled as 'cheating'. 

Bryan Fitzpatrick is the Associate Strength & Conditioning Coach for Football and Coordinator of Speed/Agility Development for Navy. Bryan has coached at Penn State, the Minnesota Vikings and West Virginia before arriving at the Naval Academy. Bryan is extremely sharp and recently talked about a training technique that he uses with the Midshipmen to teach form, address leverage and get the most out of lateral neck flexion when using the Pendulum Neck Machine.

Bryan simply takes a dowel or PVC Pipe and creates the shape of a goal post with the arms before beginning lateral flexion (an approximately 40 degree movement). The face pad's work arm is placed in the fourth hole on the cam of the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Neck machine. When the exercise begins the pipe may tilt a few degrees during the movement as the torso begins to flex - which is normal - yet the coach has the trainee keep the pipe as close to parallel to the floor as possible. 

The athlete trains several weeks with the acquired posture. Once picture perfect form is obtained and the weight has been increased the athlete understands how it feels to train lateral neck flexion with the desired motion.  Accomplished, the trainee alters his or her style by holding on to the bottom of the seat pad to stabilize the torso.  Using both arms to stabilize the trunk and depress the traps (not assist in the motion) allows lateral neck flexion to become the incredible neck developer that it is. 

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                                 A great way to teaching the skills of Getting Strong.

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training

Deep Neck Flexors

The deep cervical neck flexor muscles longus capitis, longus colli, rectus capitis anterior, rectus capitis lateralis are not only important neck stabilizers and postural muscles, but impaired and/or delayed activation of these deep cervical flexors can cause headaches and/or neck pain and lead to a reduction of the tissues size (atrophy).

There are more muscles in the neck than degrees of freedom. The degrees of freedom refers to the number of ways we can move our head and neck in space. Having more muscles than movement allows us to substitute, that is, assist an action with muscles that are not deemed to be prime in an action. A simple illustration would be, waking up in the morning with a ‘stiff neck’ and though having discomfort, still have the  ability to function, moving the head and neck while the injured area recovers throughout the day.

Being able to substitute as muscles recover post strain or injury is a wonderful aspect of human function, but it is also imperative that we return our structures to normalcy once traumatized. Continual alteration of normal neural flow can and will lead to atrophy of the affected area and a lingering alteration of neural pathways. These deep cervical flexors are keys to neck pain relief and restoration of muscular activity and structural posture -- their function must be addressed.

The craniocervical flexion test (CCFT) is a clinical test of the anatomical action of the aforementioned deep cervical flexor muscles. The craniocervical flexion examination tests the isometric endurance of these inmost muscles and looks at their interaction with the superficial cervical flexors.

In a study in the 2016, Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, researchers used this test and electromyography and found that “Individuals with smaller deep cervical flexor muscles exhibited increased activity in the sternocleidomastoid during the CCFT.” The sternocleidomastoids are much more powerful and assist the weaker musculature in movement. It is also known that those with ‘neck pain disorders’ alter their neuromotor control and movement strategies and have reduced activity in the inner cervical flexors, factors that lead to substitution.

Neck trauma is commonplace whether it be due to aggressive participation in sport, occurrences such as whiplash, concussions or be it neglect. This reformed neuromotor control, increased activity in the superficial flexors and atrophy ensures that strength training must be done.

Include in the athletes training protocol a 10-15 degree movement that flexes the head.  This head action is a short distinct movement that is disassociated from a neck exercise. It is done by placing the neck pad work arm in one of the last four holes on the Pendulum 4 or 5 Way Head and Neck Machine's cam. Once the weight is set the athlete performs the exercise by flexing the head leading and pulling with his/her chin.

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The Pendulum 4 and 5 Way Neck Machines were designed to be able to address head and and neck movement to properly train the complex region of the upper spine.

Topics: Head/Neck/Trap/Shop, Pendulum 5 Way Neck, Pendulum 4 Way Neck, Neck training