The Side Bent Sit Get Up

What a mouthful, but it will do until someone comes up with a better name. It does however describe this get up nicely.

Part 4 of the Get Up series looks at the quirky Side Bent Sit Get Up. Whereas the last part looked at the very bilateral / straight up and down Prone Get Up, the Side Bent Sit Get Up builds in rotation, balance and coordination yet, still with a wonderful component of flow and relaxation. I guess that comes with practice though.

This roll differs from the Strength and Prone get up in that it commences with a roll into position to undertake the actual getting up. This adds some momentum and can therefor add this get up into the category of movements that prepare us for fall recovery. If you’re going to lose balance and fall backwards onto your butt, at least know how to get up with flare and style.

Here’s the video.

The best way to learn this style of get up is to practice. In the video I have built in steps to practice to best prepare for the full get up.

Got any feedback? Maybe you’d like me to appraise your Get Up? I’d love to help any way I can.

What Exercise is Best to Reduce Stress?

Is the type and amount of exercise important in mediating your response to stress?

This is one controversial subject matter. 

So often you’ll hear of Jack or Jill hitting the gym after a terrible day at work, an argument or whatever, and their intention is to ‘smash it out’ a gut wrenching session. We have gyms that now specialise in high intensity systems and that’s all they do. If you join that gym you can guarantee that every session will be a ‘smash it out’ session. 

High intensity exercise has its place. When in a competition, when you’re being paid to do it, to save a family members life or when a pack of wild dogs are chasing you down. 

The idea that high intensity training is what athletes do, so it’s what we all should do is a fallacy. First off, athletes spend an extraordinarily low amount of their overall training time on high intensity training and when they do, it’s part of a programmed period of training building up to competition. Secondly, athletes are not everyone. They are usually the special specimens that have great genes and further, understand the risks they take with their training and how it may impact their bodies. 

The point I’m getting to here is this. Stress is like a fire. The more you pile onto it the more fierce it becomes. High intensity exercise, let’s say anything you rate as 8 out of 10 effort, is putting stress on the body. That stitch in your side when running, that burn in the muscles when you keep pushing out the reps and that headache after the training session; that is just more physiological stress being piled on top of other stress. 

I am not saying my clients or I never work on movements and just sit around taking it easy – we follow designed programs using moderate intensities, efforts and durations. The results always speak for themselves. 

As a guide, if you can practice your training (whatever it is) while breathing only in and out of the nose, you are in the good zone. If your focus is the movement and performing it good, better and ‘betterer’ with nasal breathing – you are doing the best you can. 

Get Up… and Down Stronger

In this third part of the Get Up series I’ll introduce a great method of getting to the floor and back up that does represent a very real-world method of, well, getting to the floor.

The Strength Get Up I showed you last time has purpose to get stronger whilst performing the get up with a hand weight of some sort or (as I suggested in the scenario) if you had a sore back or broken arm!

The Prone Get Up we’ll look at today is again, a great strength and mobility exercise by itself, but contextually also a super method of getting to the floor to say, look for that lost $50 under the sofa.

The movement could be simplified as a squat down to a push up but it would be boring of me to leave it at that. I could also describe it as a refined healthy variation of a Burpee… but I don’t like Burpees haha.

Here’s a move by move description if the video isn’t sufficient:

  1. Stand upright on the balls of your feet.
  2. Slowly pull yourself down into ‘your’ deep knee bend. Everyone has their own limit to this range of motion and position.
  3. With your arms outstretched, reach for the floor.
  4. Perform a simple reverse push up to lie on the floor.
  5. Chill for a moment.
  6. Pull hands back to the side of the chest and push off the ground with your stomach braced too.
  7. You might need a second push to assist returning to the deep knee bend position. Keep it safe.
  8. From the deep knee bend, brace once more to stand up.

Progressing:

  • Try to slow the whole movement down. It’s not a race to see how many reps you can do in a minute but rather a practice to see how efficient you can perform the move with control.
  • You could lean back a little on the deep knee bend. This will add to the thigh workload considerably.
  • Aim to perform the push from the floor in one go.

Notes: The drop from the deep knee bend to the floor (and reverse) can be performed one knee at a time if that is where your ability is. I do perform it that way myself at times to understand the whole movement more fully. Meet your body where it is. That’s always a great rule.

Got any feedback or questions? Just pop them on the feedback form below.

Does exercising influence the response to stress?

In my last post, ‘Exercise and Stress Response‘ I chatted about how exercise may help us build resilience to coping with stressful situations.

In part 4 today I’ll answer this question:

What have you noticed about exercise and its ability to influence your stress levels and your response to stress?

In short though, we are designed to move every day. Whilst we don’t move like humans of 100 years ago or 1000 years ago, we need to find movement modalities we enjoy to undertake every day. That can be as simple as a daily 15 minute walk, yoga, practicing other generalised movements or playing with the kids.

Moving every day and feeling good go hand in hand.

Why read when you can listen…

Got any thoughts?

 

How to Get Up!

Recently I wrote about how important it is to practice the skills of getting to the ground and up again and shared a video with demonstrations of some variations. Here’s a link to that post. 

As much as I would like to provide a tutorial for the Turkish Get Up right now, that would be hasty. Assuming you drive a car, you didn’t have your first experience driving hard and fast around country roads in a race car. You spent time getting familiar with the controls and skills, maybe manoeuvring and navigating an empty car park.

The Get Up like other strength movements requires the same. Get familiar with what’s what.

In this part, let me just introduce the positions and transitions of the strength get up, minus any added weights. I like to teach the get up these days with a scenario, like you’ve got a broken arm and need to get carefully off the floor.

Check out this quick ‘follow-along’ video.

 

Let me just list the steps of the get up, from the ground up.

  1. Lie on floor with left leg bent, roughly at 90 degrees. Keep this leg out to the side a little.
  2. Place the left arm across the chest.
  3. The straight leg and arm are roughly 45 degrees to the side (from your midline)
  4. Brace your torso.
  5. Push the left foot and the right elbow into the ground to lift the left butt cheek from the floor and continue to roll onto the right forearm.
  6. Brace the torso and push onto the right hand – keep your shoulder packed (pulled into the socket)
  7. Pressing the right hand and left foot into the floor, you can now pull the right leg under you. The right knee replaces the right butt cheek. In this position you should have the right foot, right knee and right hand in alignment.
  8. Pull up into a tall torso position.
  9. At this point rotate the right leg (through the hip) so both feet are facing the same direction. You can alternatively rotate yourself clockwise to position your left leg / foot in the same direction as the right.
  10. Press both feet into the ground to lunge up and stand.
  11. Return to the floor in the reverse and same manner.

That’s 11 points with lots of words! The video does a fine job at demonstrating too.

If and only IF this movement sequence comes naturally to you, maybe try holding a medicine ball or sandbag as in the video below.

 

Next time I’ll run through a different style of get up that offers heaps of benefits to the legs.

In the mean time, keep strong and move every day.

Got any feedback or questions? Drop me a message below.

Exercise and Stress Response

How does exercise strengthen our ability to respond to stress?

A healthy cardiovascular system will undoubtedly help us prevail over the negative influences and manifestations of stress. An unhealthy body will succumb easily and fail us.

A healthy exercise regime will develop a more resilient body but our minds need a different elixir.

A good practice I reflect on during stressful times are building stronger habits. Stressful thoughts can be overwhelming on our emotions and the dark hole of depression can be incredibly challenging to climb out of without help.

I adopted a system created by Stanford University Behavioural Scientist BJ Fogg, called Tiny Habits. Much like exercising our bodies, Tiny Habits teaches how to develop strong habits with tiny steps. This has been a game changer for me in creating a healthier mental environment around me. As one cheesy example, my phones alarm awakes me every morning with the message – ‘today will be awesome’. It may be a terrible day but I start the day with a positive and healthy mindset.

In addition to habit practice and frequent movement exercise, learning how to breathe better has many benefits to promote the parasympathetic nervous system over the sympathetic nervous system. Stress and all it’s negative family members thrive while we spend time under the influence of the sympathetic nervous systems control.

Nasal breathing and taking breaths into our diaphragm (as apposed to mouth breathing into the chest) should be a norm and a practice when stressed.

Move often – Breathe better – Start the day on a positive note. That’s how I expect my ‘exercise’ to strengthen my ability to respond to stress.

 

Got any feedback? Why not drop me a message.

Get Up!

As a coach, I’ve met plenty of people over the years who either had resistance to getting down to the floor, had previously had a fall and was reluctant to revisit the floor in any capacity or who quite frankly didn’t see any purpose to get to the floor for exercise or other.

There are many reasons to practice and train getting to the floor and back up again. Let’s make a short list.

  1. Improve your every day life and for its eventualities
  2. Prepare you with skills needed for when you have to get to the ground or a fall to the ground
  3. Improve your bodies mobility
  4. Improve your body awareness and coordination
  5. Improve your bodies resilience through increased strength and conditioning
  6. Decrease any fear of the floor
  7. Open opportunities to explore other movements and purposes of getting up and down

 

I’m not going to teach get ups in this post, but I will soon – I promise.

Here’s a glimpse of just 8 styles of ‘get ups’.

 

Got any questions or feedback? Get in touch below.

Does exercise help reduce stress?

Part 2

In part 1 I talked about the whys behind my exercise. Today I delve into a great question.

As an escape from stressors, exercise definitely offers something to focus on. Because I often focus on the positives of training, I leave every session feeling better. Feeling good feels good – so finishing a training session feeling good can sometime continue for hours.

Previously though, a specialised focus on certain lifts whilst training for Powerlifting did sway the benefits away from feeling good. An overly specialised training program can push us further into distress and away from eustress. For that reason, I prefer not to program overly intensive or specialised routines for too long. 4 to 6 weeks, two to three times a years proves a suitable duration for the hard and heavy specialised programs while the rest of the year is used to develop well rounded generalisations.

Training hard in high stress periods is never a good idea if longevity is your goal. 

The science of course tells us that endorphins released during exercise makes us feel good. Whilst that’s true, it’s a similar statement to ‘eating makes us healthy’. But we know how that can go wrong.

 

Got any feedback or ideas? Please do get in touch.

Stress and Exercise

I recently had the opportunity to talk to a group of students (via video) on the subject of stress and how exercise can help mitigate the negative impacts.

Over a series of posts I will share my learned thoughts, opinions and experiences.

Part 1. Off on a gentle note

What role does exercise play in your life?

Exercising is just one component of moving for me. Exercise whether in sport or in my gym or rambling through the bush, is first-off my time. My time to distract myself from all the worries in life or to work them out in my head. I spend many hours a week helping other people with their exercise in their free time for whatever goals or needs they have. I therefor get my time.

Moving on from the ‘my time’ factor, exercise for me is a kind of exploration. I’ll never be the greatest at one kind of exercise (speed, power, strength, flexibility etc) but I like to learn more about what makes exercise healthy, optimal, stronger without having a negative impact on health. I love to see how the body can progress and up-skill.

I really enjoy taking some the more complex movements and breaking them down into simple chunks to practice and stitch together again. Not many people can perform a pull up or a pistol squat or even get down to the floor and up again without using their hands. I like to address this with my practices. How can we chunk down these moves before reassembling them into one fluent movement?

Got any feedback? Get in touch below.

How much you Function bro?

Reframing functional training for the masses.

The whole ‘do you even [enter an exercise]’ phrase is a parody of modern gym culture with dudes and dudettes comparing each others infatuations in the gyms with one-another. “Do you even lift”? Condescending proclamation that you are smaller than me, or “Do you even bench bro?” Context: my chest is bigger than yours. Ah, what a wonderful day and age we live in! All in jest naturally but essentially such expressions continue to draw the gym and fitness world towards body part, size and looks focus. Isn’t it about me and not you?!

I’d like to jump in with my effort now albeit rather late in the game but with this question: “Do you even function bro”?

NOT FUNCTIONAL TRAINING

Functional training all started to become a buzz definition in gyms in the wake of its appropriate use in physiotherapy settings. What started at daily activity task specific training to rehabilitate poor movement habits morphed into taking elements of everything a human can do (regardless of efficacy) and turning it into a competition with oneself and others. This meanders into the CrossFit territory which has in of itself and training concept, exploded in popularity. CrossFit has done wonderful things for developing community based fitness lifestyles, bringing popularity back to gymnastics and Olympic lifting and for promoting gyms absent of machines.

My only criticism is that it’s conceptual training model of high intensity generalism leads to high risk factor exercise for the masses who do run blindly towards the high intensity functional training model when in need of a dose of exercise. Nothing wrong with HIIT from time to time, but it needs to be timely and appropriate – not a fix for all. This though is no longer a CrossFit problem but a greater problem in the pop-up copycat gyms who are jumping onboard the model, both in terms of the pursuit of high intensity training and business.

Generalism is a fine approach to improving ones physical capabilities and indeed, us humans are perfectly designed to be generally adapt at all physical expectations. We have evolved successfully by walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

Modern human is potentially losing many of these qualities at a gross scale, but that’s a conversation over a stiff drink sometime.

Adding high intensity to complex movements is where the line should be drawn however.

The value system for many fitness organisations and programs has a broken gear box, where 5th gear seems to be the only gear. If you’re not breaking a sweat and breaking down with fatigue there’s a “what’s the point?” attitude. However, as expert generalists we shouldn’t be applying high exertions to every function we can perform. Whilst some activities like running (safely) and walking uphill lend themselves well to high efforts, snatching a barbell (intended for single repetition efforts) for multiple repetitions is a complex movement with a high risk to reward ratio. So too are all movements requiring fine skills.

If we value functioning as a better human shouldn’t we practice and develop our exercise skill and quality culture rather than fatigue culture?

What if we used our gym time as contextual strength and fitness practice and development?

As much as I love to finish my training sessions, I certainly don’t rush them to the detriment of movement quality or risking injury, or to beat some arbitrary time. I focus on completing the task at hand well, better than before but within my capabilities. My comfort zones might get shoved gently to encourage adaptation but I’m certainly not allowing ego to take over for some imaginary trophy at the end of it!

The goal is to keep the goal the goal. A now famous quote from coach Dan John. It shouldn’t require definition. My goal, everyones goal in performing physical training should be progressing positively our health, fitness and strength outcomes. It’s not a race but a credit based scheme we keep adding to until we might need to make a withdrawal. For instance, when your partner hurts an ankle during a bush walk and you’ve to support them or carry them back to the car. Or when the car breaks down and you’ve to push it somewhere safe. Maybe something more sporty, when you place high priority on the winning now and health later! Most sports fall into this realm.

Much recent sports science research supports the gradual moderation approach to long-term progress rather than transient (brief) benefits from a 4 week smash in the gym. It seems the body holds onto the benefits of our physical practices from moderate efforts with only occasional higher efforts, well planned in a training cycle.

Contextual Training

Exertion levels aside, the choice of our strength movements are really quite simple. I’ve left this last part for the end of my chit-chat.

Ask yourself this: What does your life require you to be stronger at?

Early I mentioned the general physical qualities we excel at. Let’s look again:

Walking, climbing, running, jumping, carrying loads, picking up loads, squatting, pushing and pulling things, rotating, explosively moving and moving with intricate detail and control.

If you called these 12 categories of strength and fitness, you could take each and slot in a variation that suits your needs.

Whilst walking, climbing, running are simple without much variability, the carrying, picking up, squatting, pushing, pulling and rotations will most definitely have some personalisations.

If you’re a mother or father of two young children these will have very specific personalisations.

If you’re a labourer you will have your own personalisations too, as too will sports people, people who sit or stand for a living and of course the elderly will have a set of strengths and skills required to make life better.

That is the goal isn’t it – to make life better.

I used to love heavy barbell squatting, bench pressing and even bicep curls but to be honest, I got bored after a while once I achieved what I wanted from them and I got frustrated once I started to pick up some overuse injuries. It stopped being contextual to my life. That was up until 2012. Things have evolved since then thankfully.

There is nothing wrong with having a movement specific goal but overall, using gym time to add to the quality of our lives should be priority and using programs that are contextual to our own lives is in my opinion, a step in the right direction.

To continue this conversation on a personal level, if you are intrigued by contextual training for your life, please do get in touch.

Until 2020, have a very Merry Christmas an awesome new year.

Jamie