Get Strong

Food For Thought

The human brain utilizes more energy than any other organ in the body. About 1/3 of its energy is used for maintaining cellular health and 2/3rds to provide energy to fuel neurons so they can communicate with one another. This energy needed represents about 20% of our resting metabolic rate.

Using some of the brains energy to think about gaining and losing weight, it is understood if you eat more calories then you expend you will gain weight. If you create a negative caloric balance or deficit your body will burn it's stored fat for energy and ultimately you will lose the desired poundage that you wish. Counting calories is certainly away to track what is happening when you diet, using dietary software, dietary programs, exercise wrist watches all help. Even with technology and professional dietary programs science says the relationship of counting calories and managing body weight is not as simple as one may think adding to what we already know, that diets, even with the appropriate caloric balance are frustrating.

Let's say, at the time you are 'moderately active' and begin precisely monitoring calories as you up your activity level to 'very active'. The goal is to increase energy expenditure by exercising more while keeping your food intake consistent. This should cause you to lose pounds. Having a new high energy level and watching your diet may initially give you your desired weight reduction, but other things begin to occur. Becoming more fit causes you to relax more completely, you also may nap and sleep through the night soundly. These positive outcomes of becoming in better shape and conserving more energy through rest, can reduce caloric needs. Suddenly the amount of calories from the food that you are taking in is reflective of the caloric needs of being 'moderately active' and the new activity adjustment no longer reduces your weight. The good news is that what is occurring fitness wise is certainly a plus. 

There is another caloric expenditure occurrence that happens as you become more fit that changes energy requirements. Becoming more active leads to becoming stronger and more skilled in movements which gives you what is deemed better economy of motion. This new economy of motion decreases your energy expenditure to perform the athletic skills that you are doing and also decreases the total caloric needs for daily tasks such as stair climbing, walking and a host of other normal activities above your basal metabolism.

Once you begin adding muscle due to your new 'activity level' change - caloric needs once again are modified. Gaining muscle requires additional calories each day to gain and maintain mass. Keeping the number of calories consistent to lose body fat becomes tricky as muscular gains are also an important part of fitness and require a caloric increase that you are trying to avoid.

The bottom line is - all diets have their ups and downs and require adjustments, patience, determination and consistency which are a must if you want to Get Lean and Get Strong.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Muscular Strength

Hand Grip Strength

A study to improve the reliability and validity of hand strength evaluations and establish clinical norms for adults aged 20 to 75+ years was published in 1985. The normative clinical data for hand grip and pinch strength has continued to be examined and compared, based on these results, since then.  When the data in 1985 was collected one of the concerns for the researchers and a limitation in their study was that stronger volunteers might be more likely to participate than those who thought they may do poorly. "This could cause a biased sample in favor of higher hand strength scores."  What should, in fact, give us all pause is that regardless of gender, power grip and lateral pinch grip strength has declined in millennials (age 20-34 years) since the original findings!

The National Center for Health Statistics just released that there has also been a "drop in overall life expectancy for the first time since 1993, particularly among people younger than 65." Are these two statistics related? 

The American Heart Journal published, "The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study: Examining the impact of societal influences on chronic noncommunicable diseases in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. Researchers measured the grip strength of 140,000 adults in 17 countries and followed their health for four years, their findings suggested "weaker muscle strength makes it more likely that a person will die sooner if he or she develops a chronic medical problem, compared with those who have more muscle strength."

As we have become more mechanized in agriculture, robotic in our manufacturing and automated in our lives we cannot forget the importance of exercise. Our musculature is the largest organ in our bodies and must remain strong and vibrant throughout one's life. Keeping strong and Getting Strong must always be a priority in healthful living.

 

 

The Pendulum Grip Cart custom designed for all your Gripping Tools

 

 

Topics: Grip Cart, Grip training, Announcements, Muscular Strength, Storage Cart

The Problem Is Not The Problem. It Is The Symptom.

The knee cap (patella) and the thigh bone (femur) form the patellofemoral joint. Seldom do individuals make it through life without experiencing patellofemoral pain making it one of the most common lower extremity issues seen by clinicians. 
 
When there is patellofemoral pain there is usually a loss of muscular strength of the vastus medialis oblique (VMO) a quadricep muscle above the knee on the front of the thigh. If muscle strength is lost exercises like straight-leg raises, quad sets and short-arc leg extensions are often recommended.
 
Current research in the 2016 Manual Therapy Journal, "The outcome of hip exercise in patellofemoral pain: A systematic review." , indicates that the addition of hip strengthening exercises and in some cases hip exercise alone can have a positive effect on reducing knee pain.
 
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The Pendulum Hip Press was designed to specifically target the hip region, as well as, improve flexibility in the low position.
 
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If you top load the Pendulum Squat Pro the athlete strengthens their hips in the low position. If you do this movement with the knees always over the heel, keeping the shin perpendicular to the floor, their is less stress on the patellofemoral joint. 
 
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The Pendulum Reverse Glute/Ham can be used to directly target the hips.
 
Three great machines to Get the hips Strong.
 

Topics: Pendulum Reverse Glute/Ham, Strength Training, Pendulum Hip Press, Pendulum Squat Pro, Muscular Strength

Increasing Chin-up Repetitions

Kinematic analysis is used to find the range of motion and muscle activity of a given mechanical movement. When comparing a chin-up with a lat-pull down exercise you find there is variability to the response of the latissimus dorsi, bicep brachii, tricep brachii, pectoralis major, rectus abdominus and erector spinae muscles during the concentric and eccentric phases of the action. Because of this variability inclusion of an exercise such as the Pendulum Lat Combo Pull as part of a chin-up program will be complementary and you will quickly find the number of chin-ups that can be done will increase rapidly. A great way to Get Strong.

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Pendulum Lat Combo Pull

Topics: Strength Training, Muscular Strength, Pendulum Combo Lat Pull

Improving Bench Press Testing

Maximum barbell bench press repetition testing is used in sports to look at and compare or predict the strength of athletes. Athletes are commonly tested at particular standard weight such as 95, 115, 135, 185, 225, 275, 315 or a percentage of their body weight such as 1/2 or 1/3. In some procedures once a test is completed the athlete is given a particular rest interval and asked to repeat a test again to solidify results.

Tyler1-web-resized-600.gifIn scientific studies it is unequivocal that task-specific strength training produces the best task-specific results. In other words, if you are testing for maximum repetitions at 225 pounds on a bench press then practicing with the exact poundage will produce the best results.  Tyler Hobson, the inventor of Pendulum knew that by using modern technology he could replicate the strength curve of a barbell bench press and improve upon the movement.

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Tyler built the Pendulum Vertical Chest Press so that if you did the exact bench press routine on the Vertical Chest you would be able to achieve approximately the same number of repetitions when tested with a barbell. Hobson then added S.E.T. 'Set Extension Technology', to be able to do drop sets, effect ranges of motion (ie. accelerating the bar off the chest, locking out) and added independent work arms for strength deficits so neither arm would be favored during training.

Pendulum_Vertical_Chest_Press1.jpgThe Vertical Chest Press has lived up to Tyler's expectations and proved the value of using a high tech training device. If you want to test well on a barbell bench press try using the Pendulum Vertical Chest Press, but do not be surprised when you surpass your expectations to Get Strong.

Topics: Pendulum Vertical Chest Press, Muscular Strength

Concussions And The Lower Body

The  American Journal of Sports Medicine recently published, "Concussion Increases Odds of Sustaining a Lower Extremity Musculoskeletal Injury After Return to Play Among Collegiate Athletes."  Approximately one year prior to this article Medicine Science and Sports published, "Acute Lower Extremity Injury Rates Increase after Concussion in College Athletes."  Both of the above studies found that their is an increased risk of a lower extremity musculoskeletal injury after a concussion.  A lower extremity injury can be considered anything from an ankle sprain, muscle pull, meniscus or knee. The risk is approximately 2 - 2 1/2 times greater than the controls in the studies who were without a history of being concussed.  This rise in incidence of injury was indicated to extend months post concussion regardless of whether playing football, soccer, hockey, softball, basketball, wrestling, or volleyball.

It is apparent that abnormalities in motor functioning after head trauma persist. These abnormalities are twice the norm.  In other words, it could be said that an athlete that has been concussed has a 100% greater chance of a lower extremity musculoskeletal injury after a concussion. Having a higher possibility is a signal to the coach that a particular athlete's injury may not be attributed to atypical outcome of cause and effect and this significantly affects program design.  

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In a recent paper featured in the 2016 edition of Sports Health "Full-Contact Practice and Injuries in College Football," researchers looked at athletic injuries, and correlated them with the weekly exposures to full-contact practices, total practices, formal scrimmages, and games. The pre-season injury rate was much higher than in-season, and the game injury rate was over six times greater than the practice rate; which for most coaches is understood without substantiation from the literature. What is of concern, and backs up the aforementioned studies is --"Concussions constituted 14.5% of all injuries, and the incidence of concussions correlated with the incidence of all injuries."

Strength training the head, neck and jaw is an important addition in every sport. Concussive forces must be lowered to protect each athlete. Having a strength component as an integral part of the athletic trainers and physicians return-to-play protocol is not just to protect the concussed individual against further head trauma, but to guard against all types of athletic injuries.

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 Train the neck.....Get Strong.

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

Manual Training: Knowing The Rules Brings Results

The athlete should know the rules of manual resistance as well as the coach does to achieve optimal strength gains.

1). Each athlete must know and understand the rules.

2). The Lifter begins each exercise with the goal of 6-8 reps. This requires pacing, in other words, the first repetition is not an all out effort. The effort must be increasing for every subsequent repetition.

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2a). The Spotter should allow the lifter to perform each repetition at the same pace or speed of movement. This will require different amounts of pressure by the spotter during the rep (because of leverage). The lifter will feel as though the resistance is similar at all joint angles (the resistance will feel smooth).

3). The lowering phase of every repetition should be slower than the raising phase. A guide in learning manual resistance is raise the involved limbs up in 1-2 seconds or at a 1-2 count and lower them in 4-5 seconds or at a 4 or 5 count.

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3a). The Spotter must make sure that they feel more force by the lifter during the lowering phase of each repetition.

4). The Lifter should continually contract their target musculature during the raising phase and the lowering phase of every repetition.

4a). The Spotter must give feedback to the lifter to ensure there is always a constant contraction on every repetition performed. The spotter should identify any relaxation or loss of force by the lifter during the movement.

5). The Lifter should pause with pressure against the spotter's resistance at the top of every movement. Pausing with pressure and no relaxation is extremely difficult.

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5a). The Spotter should insure the lifter is applying force at the top of the movement. The spotter must feel if the lifter is relaxing. The spotter must ease slowly into the lowering phase of the exercise. Slowly easing into the lowering phase or decent is extremely important.

6). The exercise is completed when the athlete reaches momentary muscular failure.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Muscular Strength

Neck Muscle Strength, Bracing And Training The System

describe the imageMike Gittleson was the Director of Strength & Conditioning at the University of Michigan for 30 years and was a part of 15 Football Championships in that time. He explains, developing one area and neglecting another is not conducive to optimal athletic performance.

On January 31, 2014 the American Journal of Sports Medicine published an article on neck strength titled, Effect of Neck Muscle Strength and Anticipatory Cervical Muscle Activation on the Kinematic Response of the Head to Impulsive Loads. The findings indicated that male and female athletes could potentially modify risk factors for concussion by developing neck musculature. It was shown that having greater neck strength when bracing for impact reduces the magnitude of the head’s kinematic response. The anticipatory act of bracing for a violent collision is important in protecting oneself from the effects of whiplash, yet bracing in itself is a common occurrence.  When you run, neck muscles contract before your foot hits the ground. The process of running is inherently bouncy as our muscle tendon units act as springs to propel us up and forward. This aerial phase neck muscle contraction is in anticipation of the ground reaction force.  Ground reaction force causes a vertical acceleration of the head that actually pitches the head forward at foot strike.  

The human head uses a self-stabilizing system that does not rely on muscular reflex to control the pitching action during running. Reflex alone cannot control the action of the head once ground strike occurs – having fewer than then 10 milliseconds to control the up and forward action of the head is not enough time for our natural reflexes.

Our head, which is pitched forward upon landing, also rolls and yaws. This requires contractions of neck extensors, as well as flexors and a downward swing of an arm that dampens vertical acceleration. Each arm constitutes about eight percent of total body mass, roughly the same relative percent as the 5 to 6 kilogram runner’s head. If you consider the head in running as the primary mass then the downward swing of the stance side arm becomes the counter mass accelerating in the opposite direction, thereby dampening the skull’s oscillation. The athlete then alters their running form by bending and swinging his or her arms in movements with the appropriate power and speed to counter these varying vectors of force.  Changing the mass or active stiffness of the arms through strength training and not addressing the mass and/or muscular system of the head and neck can be problematic. The coach and athlete will spend countless hours trying to achieve a particular running form that cannot truly be corrected unless they address the musculature that is controlling the movement of the skull.

Running Form

There is another issue that the neck must attend to during running. When we land during sprinting we avoid falling down by utilizing the muscles of the lower back and hip – particularly the largest muscle of our body, the powerful gluteus maximus – to decelerate the trunk. As the trunk accelerates forward and then backward the head and neck accelerates backward then forward. Try this at home: Sit in your car and accelerate quickly forward then step on the brake. Vehicle acceleration provides example that the more the trunk pitches the more the head reacts. Increasing the strength and/or mass of the trunk and not addressing the strength and/or mass of the head and neck adversely effects athleticism.

As mentioned, the head also rolls and yaws during running, usually towards the stance side foot at foot strike.  Once the runner is in the aerial phase one leg quickly swings forward while the opposite leg is thrust behind the body, causing angular momentum around the vertical axis. We counteract this by swinging our arms in an opposite phase to the legs to have an equal and opposite angular momentum. The neck must not only rotate in the opposite direction of the trunk but quickly prepare for being thrust vertically and forward upon landing.

The human brain is encased in a rigid skull and covered by a muscular scalp which is surrounded by three layers of membranes and floats in a protective cushion of cerebrospinal fluid. Though protected, brain trauma can occur with sudden acceleration or deceleration within the cranium. Control of head stabilization is one important line of defense for protecting the brain from perturbation.   During activity, it remains relatively stable as we integrate information about the head and body from our eyes, vestibular system and proprioceptors of the neck. For athletes involved in any sport with an associated head trauma risk, protecting the brain from excessive subconcussive forces through strength training head and neck musculature for bracing is the first job of a strength and conditioning coach.

For any athlete to excel in sport, they must train the structures that decelerate opposing masses. This means that athletes must have head and neck training as part of their exercise regime. The head and neck muscles are countering arm swing, trunk pitch and rotation, as the arms are countering head pitch, leg swing and trunk movement. Developing one area and neglecting another is not conducive to optimal athletic development or performance. Train the entire system.

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Topics: Running, Muscular Growth, Skill, Muscular Strength

Sleep, Knees And Spine

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis. Over time the protective cartilage on the ends of the bones begins to wear. All joints in the body are susceptible and in athletics osteoarthritis is often seen earlier than normalespecially in the knees and spine. A population based study in the journal Spine found heavily active people getting less than 7 hours of sleep per day, have a remarkably higher prevalence of arthritis in the lower back than those who sleep longer.


When there is too much or abnormal loading risk factors for lumbar muscle strain and lumbar disc degeneration are elevated. If an athlete has a shorter sleep time the lumbar muscles and discs are under tension for a longer period. Therefore, this status may lead to further lumbar degeneration and be related to low back osteoarthritis.

Dr. Brian Hainline, Chief Medical Officer of the National Collegiate Athletic Association recently addressed the Collegiate Strength Coaches at their National Convention. He discussed the extensive issue of sleep deprivation in collegiate athletics. He explained how lack of sleep increases sports injury risk and pointed to a study whose findings indicated, "if an athlete is progressively sleep deprived over a period of 12 weeks, their neuromuscular performance will continue to diminish, even when the athlete believes that, after three days, they are back to normal."

Not only does sleep deprivation increases the risk of overuse and fatigue injuries but is often associated with signs of depression, anger, feelings of tension, anxiety and all the symptoms associated with attention deficit disorder. 

College students are among the most sleep-deprived people in the country. According to a 2014 study in the Journal of Nature Science and Sleep, 50% of college students report daytime sleepiness and 70% attain insufficient quality.  A comprehensive study at an independent college preparatory school showed increased sleep duration after a delay in school start time. When school was started at 8.30 am, 30 minutes later than usual, sleep duration was increased by 45 minutes on school days. 

Serious training requires adequate sleep. Early morning workouts must be well thought out and scheduled to ensure that athletes are getting adequate sleep and peak performance. Coaches need to consider sleep if they want to Get and keep their athletes healthy and Strong.

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Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Muscular Strength

Maintaining The Fundamental Football Position

Limestone College located in Gaffney, South Carolina added football as the department's 25th sport. The Saints started competition this past Fall. Curt Lamb, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Performance, hired Eric Schwager to develop a comprehensive program that would prepare a young group of athletes to compete at the highest level upon entering the Southern Atlantic Conference. 

One drill that Eric developed is used to emphasize, strengthen and stress the importance of the "fundamental football position". Depending on the position the athlete plays, when they are fatigued, after a workout, or a particular lift they are instructed to quickly get into their basic football position. Below is an example of an offensive lineman.

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In the photo the green resistance band is around the athletes shoulders and back. The red resistance band around the arms which must be thrust firmly backward with the goal of contracting the scapula muscles at all times and remain posture perfect - knees bent, back straight, head up, arms and body pushed against the bands. The goal is 30-90 seconds holding perfect form in opposition to the applied resistance.  A minimum of 30 seconds is the least acceptable amount of time to Get Strong. 

Topics: Muscular Growth, Strength Training, Success, Muscular Strength