mobility

Why Do Ruthless Performance Workouts Use the Same Mobility Drills in the Warm-Up and Cool-Down?

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Most of the programs that we design and implement at Ruthless Performance have some meticulously detailed cool-down for an athlete to do following their last exercises of the day. And in most cases these are some combination of mobility drills, breathing techniques, or myofascial release strategies.

Past all of the very significant reasons that a proper cool down in crucial for athlete development, there’s a handful of additional benefits an athlete will receive by doing their prescribed combination of mobility drills at this particular time. When an athlete does these drills early on in the workout, likely in their warm-up or as an accessory drill between main sets, more mobility (active use of ROM) is required of the articulations themselves–like in the spine or at the hip.

But after a workout, while there is more blood circulating in the muscles, the mobility drills will more specifically target these areas–even if it is the same exercise that is done pre-workout.

There also seems to be more lasting changes in range-of-motion when these exercises are completed post-workout. Whereas in the warm-up, these drills serve to enhance proper movement and function during the workout, but the lasting effects seem to be negated by the workouts themselves.

This is why we recommend including high-priority mobility drills in the pre and post-workout time period.

Internal Program Review: Corrective Exercise Program for an Elite Female CrossFit Athlete

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Throughout the entirety of my college tenure and time as a collegiate strength & conditioning coach, I was extremely averse to CrossFit. Though my stance hasn’t changed much regarding CrossFit as a means of enhancing athletic prowess, it has changed considerably towards using CrossFit as a means of enhancing fitness in the general population as well as CrossFit as a sport unto itself. My thoughts on CrossFit as a whole are best saved for another day, but my opinions on it have been trending more positively as of late.

During this time in my life, I would have never anticipated that moving forward I’d have a wonderful working relationship with a handful of CrossFit affiliates, as well as having a roster on-hand of over 300 CrossFit athletes that I actively assess, program, and am generally accountable for with regards to health and longevity in the sport.

With all this said, I wanted to do a break down of one of the Ruthless Performance Ex Phys Interventions, one of our flagship corrective exercise protocols. This internal program review will vary slightly from some in the past, as some information has been redacted/blurred. I don’t have any problems answering any questions, or providing explanations for these programs, but because of the highly individualized and semi-clinical nature of these programs, sharing the entirety of these programs can be counterproductive as many exercises that work for the client may not work for others.

I’ve only left the information visible on this program that I want to share (and am capable of covering) within the scope of this article. The Ruthless Performance Ex Phys Interventions are largely just corrective in nature and do not comprise the entirety of an athlete’s program. These are usually done in conjunction with our Remote Programming, Athlete Development Training, or in conjunction with other sports (like CrossFit, powerlifting, or weightlifting).

Ex Phys Interventions typically have a handful of components meant to mend well with existing programing. Programs are almost always comprised of warm-up, cool-down, activation work, and then from here may include some combination of at-home work, daily mobility circuits, weekly totals, etc..

So let’s dig in…

1. To Fix Something Rapidly, Do it Frequently

Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7The daily exercises typically involved in our Ex Phys Interventions seek to address some underlying physical deviation causing undue strain on the musculoskeletal system. By assigning these exercises to do frequently, but with low-intensity, these can be completed shortly before bed, upon waking, during lunch breaks, and so on…

In this case, we’re dealing with an athlete that has prominent Anterior Pelvic Tilt (APT), slight Upper Cross Syndrome, and flexion-intolerant back pain (read more on flexion vs. extension intolerant back pain here). The at-home exercises were largely meant to remedy these issues, while requiring relatively little input from the CNS, allowing the athlete to perform these with a greater level of frequency.

This exercise circuit is listed to be performed 3x / week. More is better in the case of these exercises, but 3x / week is a frequency that an athlete can adhere to with relative ease.

2. Breathing Drills are Making a Come-Back

Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7Breathing Drills are one of those topics that deserve their own article (if not their own book). There are many great resources to learn about the significance of proper breathing in greater specificity, but suffice it to say that in a cool-down, we are looking for activation of the diaphragm to help pull the athlete into a more parasympathetic-dominant state (the CNS should be the focal point of Exercise Science curricula rather than the muscular system, again another post, another day…).

The Deep Squat Belly Breathing w/ Lat Stretch drill is useful specifically with this athlete as we’re attempting to alter the CNS, while simultaneously helping the client feel better overhead, minimize input from various accessory breathing structures, and get some extra post-workout work on that deep squat position; mobility drills done post-workout seem to have longer-lasting effects on range of motion and function.

Additionally, I’ve left in the header of her assigned myofascial release work for a quick note… The effects of myofascial release seem to be slightly overblown BUT myofascial release is still important enough to make our corrective programs. By drastically cutting down the time on the rollers & lacrosse balls, but maintaining frequency, we can experience the benefits of myofascial work without it taking up more time than is needed. 15 seconds on the roller and LAX ball per muscle group as a standard and doubling this only for trouble areas.

3. Corrective Exercises Aren’t Always Crazy Stretches

I’ll be the first to admit that many of the exercises within our corrective protocols are complex and can be viewed as a novelty. This theme can encapsulate athletes’ perceptions generally towards correctives, but this isn’t always the case.

Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7

Both biceps femoris (legs) and biceps brachii (arms) tend to be an issue for CrossFit athletes… Since many CrossFit facilities tend to avoid use of machines, the hamstrings (biceps femoris) tend to be neglected, specifically the short head of the muscle, whose primary responsibility is lower leg flexion. In the case of the arms (biceps brachii), which are stimulated by exercises like traditional dumbbell or barbell curls, there again tends to be an imbalance between the long head and short head, leading to problems at the shoulder, elbow, and even wrist.

By adding in a weekly total for barbell curls, we can ensure the athlete is getting sufficient short-head activation without much complexity. Barbell curls, no weights, hit this total every week; that’s it.

4. Multi-Function Joints Need Multi-Function Stimulation

The joint-by-joint theory popularized by Physical Therapist Gray Cook can appear invalid Jennifer Smith - EPI - 7at the shoulder, as it is comprised of two primary joints. But as the data points to, the theory fits as one joint provides stability (acromioclavicular joint) and the other yields greater range of motion (glenohumeral).

With this in mind, we’ve focused the athletes Day 1, 3, and 5 activation drills around ensuring these various functional components of the shoulder and thoracic spine are being stimulated.

The Half-Kneeling 90/90 External Rotation stimulates the Supraspinatus in isolation. I reference the significance of the Supraspinatus regularly, but its significance is largely rooted in its function as one of the few muscles that externally rotates the humerus. Bench T-Spines are ideal for wedging the shoulder blades into the thoracic spine, thus forcing some sagittal plane mobility (thoracic extension). And of course, this variation of carries works the rotator cuffs of the shoulder independently of one another, while ensuring large amounts of irradiation (tension directed upwards in the kinetic chain) because of the bottoms-up grip. This further supports the desired outcome of very active, healthy rotator cuffs.

 

For more details on any of our corrective exercise programs, send us an email at info@RuthlessPerformance.com. Program facilitation available in-person and online.

Internal Program Review: High School Swimmer Pre-Season Strength Training – Day 2

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With the vast expanse that is the winter swim season raipidly approaching, I wanted to take the time to yet again detail one of our swimming programs. In this particular case, we’re going to explain the Ruthless Performance methods that made this program so effective.

To provide context for this case study, we will be talking about a male swimmer, approaching the end of his high school career, who specailizes in short to mid-distance freestyle and butterfly…

We’ll be looking at ‘Day 2’ of his 3-day program, and what we’re doing to get him in-shape for the upcoming swim season.

Preseason Prep Internal Program Review
1. Emphasising Both Activation & Mobility as Needed

1 Preseason-Prep-Internal-Program-Review.jpg

Like most other programs we run our athletes through, this workout begins with a comprehenisve warm-up. Athletes are compartmentalized into a warm-up by age, ability, past injuries and training history. From there, we specialize and individualize the workout starting at our ‘A’ Exercises which are very rarely similar from one athlete to the next.

Landmine-based exercises have recently become a frequent addition to our programs because of the unusual loading parameters we see with this exercise variation. As opposed to a traditional barbell exercise, landmine exercises get lighter as the angle of the bar approaches 90 degrees; this has a wide array of benefits, but here we are using this to maximally loading the shoulder at the bottom of the press, while ensuring a greater ROM (range of motion) as we near the top of the exercise. Beyond just encouraging more ROM, this also assists in activation of the Serratus Anterior — a troublesome area for many athletes, which in the case of swimmers can be career ending.

In addition to creating muscle activation in the shoulder, we’re trying to use this ‘A’ circuit to enhance hip mobility. In our A1, the Half-Kneeling Overhead Landmine Press assists in creating hip mobility via Rectus Femoris Stretch caused by the Half-Kneeling position. Though this is a secondary component to the A1, hip mobility is the primary element of the A2 –the weighted cossack squat…

Because this swimmer is primarily a freestyler and butterflier, the hip is exposed to a relatively small ROM. By expanding this capacity in a structured and controlled training environment, we can help minimize injury (while maximizing power output) via enhanced ability of the hips to absorb and generate force outside of the saggital plane.

 

2. Creating a Neutral Spine Where and When Possible

In a previous article, I explained the differences between flexion and extension intolerant back pain, this particular athlete sits closer to the extension-intolerent end of the spectrum. To mitigate this, we’ve added Band Pull Aparts and 180 Degree Back Extensions as part of his ‘B’ exercise circuit.

1 Preseason Prep Internal Program ReviewBand Pull Aparts are one of the most common exercises within any of the Ruthless Performance programs, regardless of sport; but in the case of swimming, these provide countless benefits. Beyond the primary benefits to swimmers, like scapular control and improved stroke efficiency, we’ve added this as a means of minimizing kyphosis. Like many high school athletes who sit behind a desk for 6+ hours / day, this athlete demonstrates an internally rotated and kyphotic posture. The solution to these problems almost universally starts with a very high volume of band pull aparts.

Though the ‘B2’ is listed as 180 Back Extension, it is talked about and referred to internally as a 180 Hip Extension. Though this may seem semantic it is not. I won’t go into detail here again, though you can find more in our first installment of our Internal Program Review, where we go over this difference in detail.

The video below from our instagram also explains this to some extent with yet another one of our swimmers performing this exercise.

 

3. Enhance Cardiovascular Capacity, But do so Efficiently

The primary purpose of the off-season program should be to build up strength and other various capacities that are often neglected during the regular swim season. Going into the season, however, should at least provide some basic framework for sport-specific work capacity.

Another one of my frequent rants is that about the purpose and function of the rotator Preseason Prep Internal Program Reviewcuff… 4 anatomically independent muscles grouped together because of their function (physiology) with regards to the shoulder, which is simply to maintain the position of the humerus. With this in mind, any time we spend engaging and maintaining a stable shoulder, we are inherently training the rotator cuff. Here, we’re doing so concurrently with a few other goals in mind, enhancing cardiovascular capacity (as mentioned), but also encouraging overhead ROM with the slam ball, generating force outside of the saggital plane, and developing abdonimal activation/ trunk stability during both the C1 and C2 exercises.

Though these aren’t traditionally exercises performed for energy system training, we can manipulate the variables to ellicit this desired response. Rather than simply adding in more sets or extending the length of time to complete the exercises, we’ve focused in on the density component, which is simply the ability to do more work in the same period of time. A 5-minute time cap ensures that from weeks 1-4, the athlete is developing his work capacity, in a manner condusive to short to mid distance swimming events. As opposed to conventional wisdom, maintaining a high level of force output and muscular endurance over this relatively short period of time is all that we need for this particular workout going into more sport-specific pre-season swim training.

 

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 48

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Does Shaving Improve Swimming Performance? By Allan Phillips via Swimming Science

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

The 12 Most Effective Ways to Spark the Recovery Process By John Rusin

Are Nightshade Vegetables Bad for You? An Evidence-Based Look By Kimberly Yawitz via Diet vs. Disease

How Much Fish Oil Is Too Much? Via Strength Sensei

Carrageenan: Friend or Foe? By Nicole Spear via Strength Sensei

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Breaking Down the Depth Jump By Nancy Newell

7 Exercises Lost to the ’80s By Skip Hill via EliteFTS

Everything Lateral Lunges By Erica Suter

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

A Quick and Dirty System for Goal Setting: A Done-For-You 60 Minute Workshop To Live An Intentional Life By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Posture By Vern Gambetta via HMMR Media

 

Research

Hyperoxia Improves Swimming Performance By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Ruthless Performance Guide to Mineral Supplementation By Jesse Rodriguez via Ruthless Performance

Internal Program Review: Collegiate Swimmer Off-Season Strength & Conditioning Program – Day 1 By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 47

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Use Olympic Weightlifting To Transform Strength Into Speed By Antonio Squillante via Breaking Muscle

Softball: 3 Things You Didn’t Know That Will Upgrade Your Warm-Ups By Nancy Newell

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea  By Kris Gunnars via H

Brian St. Pierre on the Fundamentals of High-Performance Nutrition With Brian St. Pierre via Mike Robertson

Reversing the Low-Testosterone Lifestyle with Training & Nutrition By Mike Gorski via John Rusin

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Bench Press Mobility By Zach Long

How To Weight The Foot During Deadlifts  By Harold Gibbons

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

How to Define Your Company’s Values and Make Them Stick By Michael Keeler

5 Reasons Why You Should Man Up and Start Taking Cold Showers By Ollie Coombes via Addicted 2 Success

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Swimming Recovery: Why Aren’t You Foam Rolling? By G John Mullen via Swimming Science

 

Research

Histamine Intolerance: Everything You Need To Know Explained in Plain English By Joe Leech

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Adaptogens and Mushroom Supplementation for Wellness and Immune System Function By Jesse Rodriguez

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto By Jesse Rodriguez

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 46

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

138 | Dane Miller | Country Boys Can Survive Hosted by Zach Even Esh

Everything You Need To Know To Write Incredible Programs By Nancy Newell

Assess And Correct Leg Dominance  By Jennifer Pilotti via Breaking Muscle

Should Your Personal Trainer Be Licensed? By Jeremy Lau via Halevy Life

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Himalayan Salt Lamps: Benefits and Myths By Helen West via Healthline

If it Fits With Your Micros: The Overlooked Key to Sports Performance By Zach Long

Restore Your Breathing and Improve Your Conditioning – Part 2 By Jim Smith

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

5 Advanced Squat Variations You Haven’t Tried By Meghan Callaway via Girls Gone Strong

Will Cardio Give Your Weight Training An Advantage?  By Dean Somerset

The Best Exercises You’re Not Doing for Shoulders – Cross Cable Flyes with “Y” Press  By Jim Smith

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

Freedom, fairness and equality By Seth Godin

The Salt Shaker Theory: 3 Principles of Effective Management By Mark Fisher via Business for Unicorns

 How to Set Boundaries with Clients By Michael Keeler via Business for Unicorns

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

How to Fix Rounded Shoulders  By Annette Verpillot via Strength Sensei

The Science Behind Cryotherapy, Ice Baths, Fat-Loss and Recovery  By Kevin Masson via John Rusin

 

Research

The No Barbell Experiment On Squat And Deadlift And Hip Thrust Strength: The Results  By Bret Contreras

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Lecture Takeaways: Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function By John Matulevich

 

Lecture Takeaways: Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function

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Its easy to imagine how a lecture scheduled for 30 minutes, on a topic as encompassing as optimizing performance, could end up being an hour and 6-minute open-ended discussion. This is precisely what happened this past week at Bloomsburg University during our guest presentation on how Ruthless Performance trains individuals to achieve high performance.

The content of this lecture ranged from specific exercises to an exploration of the Central Nervous System; similarly, questions ranged from the efficacy of BCAA’s to proper running gait—all of which led to an extremely informative and productive talk, filled with content and subsequent questions.

Below is a summary of some of the most important takeaways from this lecture. Remember, human performance is a broad topic, but the information below meets some objective criteria for significance within the theories and practices we endorse at Ruthless Performance.

 

First, a Definition of Terms

Because there is not one set definition of ‘high performance’ across sports and fitness endeavors, let’s assume the definition is as follows: high performance is the ability to perform within the top 10% of your own ability within any fitness doctrine.

For a 5K runner, this means being able to run a 5K within a margin of 10% of your best time at your current state of training. Similarly, for a weightlifter, this means being able to Clean & Jerk or Snatch within 10% of your current capacity for a 1RM. This is not to dismiss linear periodization (though Ruthless Performance typically does shy away from this style) nor is this a sleight on tapering for a significant bout or competition.

During a high-mileage segment of a marathon runner’s training regimen, she may be outside of this 10% margin from a previous race or time. The 10% margin of performance as defined here is referring to a precise training state. In the case of the marathon runner, her ability to complete a half-marathon trial within 10% of her previous season’s high-mileage training cycle is what we are referring to. The closer the training variables are, the more applicable this rule becomes.

 

The Motivational Training Montage is Just the Icing on the Cake

The significance of training to perform is predicated on fundamental health and wellness practices. A 6-hour a day training program would get world-class athletes no where were it not for a broad base of fundamental behaviors.Basics of Health & Function

These behaviors are known universally at some intuitive level, but not always acted upon. What could be viewed as boring and frivolous can make the difference between 6 more weeks of training and 6 weeks of sitting out with the flu while your competition trains because you didn’t get a flu vaccination from your primary care provider.

A similar situation could be ignoring the necessity for injury care work and corrective exercise during the early onset stages of shoulder pain or movement dysfunction as presented in a movement screen. The examples here are limitless, suffice it to say that all of the traditional variables of wellness like sleep quality, nutrition, lifestyle stress, and on, are all predecessors to your ability to train and compete within our newly defined parameters of ‘high performance’.

 

More to Come…

This just grazes the surface of the lecture but provides valuable insights into some fundamentals of high performance. First, high performance must be defined; when a term is open-ended, its implications are only speculative and unattainable. Second, high performance is the sum of the boring but necessary components of life that makes an athlete healthy enough to train and compete within their specific doctrine.

As we continue to review the Ruthless Performance Methods & Practices for Peak Athletic Function lecture, we’ll cover nutrition for high performance, ‘anti-specificity training’, universally essential exercises, and the role of the central nervous system in high performance.

Have a question on this topic or want to train with Ruthless Performance? Contact us via email at info@RuthlessPerformance.com, RuthlessPerformance.com/contact, and be sure to follow us on social media at @RuthlessPerform on Twitter and Instagram.

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 45

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

GGS Spotlight: Kim Lloyd via Girls Gone Strong

Often Overlooked Elements to Success in Personal Training By Dean Somerset

What Assessments Work Best?  By Dean Somerset via Mike Robertson

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

If Your Gym Membership Costs More Than Your Mortgage, You Don’t Care About Your Health, and Neither Do They By Lee Boyce

Top 10 Evidence-Based Health Benefits of Coconut Oil via Healthline

Glutamine: Benefits, Uses and Side Effects  By Grant Tinsley via Healthline

Aging Is B.S. – The Myth Of Missed Opportunities By Amanda Allen via Breaking Muscle

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

WHY You MUST Be Able To Figure Things Out On Your OWN By Zach Even Esh

Mass That Works – Build Some Functional Hypertrophy By Charles Poliquin

Push Press Technique – Insights Into Athletic Ability By Zach Long

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

The four elements of entrepreneurship By Seth Godin

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Movement Variability versus Joint Centration By Charlie Weingroff

3 Things Causing Your Swimming Shoulder Pain By Erin Cameron via COR

How to Stop “Text Neck” from Killing You By Bo Babenko via Halevy Life

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Flexion vs. Extension Intolerant Back Pain By John Matulevich

 

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 44

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View the last edition of ‘Featured Fitness Content’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

Performance Programming Principles: Installment 2  By Eric Cressey

The 3 Main Goals of an Assessment By Dean Somerset

Step-by-Step Glute Training By Mike Robertson

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

Why You Might Not Need to Learn More About Nutrition By Mike Roussell

Carbohydrates – My Take on Carbs By Charles Poliquin

The Greatest Public Health Mistake of the 20th Century By Joseph Mercola

Honey Lemon Water: An Effective Remedy or Urban Myth? By Jillian Kubala via Health Line

7 Science-Based Health Benefits of Selenium By Jillian Kubala via Health Line

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Are You Making These Strength Training Mistakes By G John Mullen via COR

Complete Core Questions By Michael Boyle

Get Tough: A Beginner’s Guide To Impact Training By Walter Dorey via Breaking Muscle

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

The Power of Accepting Personal Responsibility By Jen Comas via Girls Gone Strong

Truth: Half of What We Call ‘Fitness’ Isn’t Fitness at All By Lee Boyce

Before you design a chart or infographic By Seth Godin

Don’t create new content. Repurpose content. By Sol Orwell

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

[VIDEO] Recent Training and Evaluation Insights By Charlie Weingroff

Research

Science Is Self-Correcting – The Case Of The Hip Thrust And Its Effects On Speed By Bret Contreras

Featured Fitness Content: Volume 43

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View the ‘Top Featured Fitness Content of 2017’ here.

Personal Training, Coaching, and Strength & Conditioning

If fitness is your identity, I offer my condolences By Lee Boyce

Squats don’t cure cancer By Martin Bingisser via HMMR Media

10 Keys to Growing as a Performance Coach By Joel Smith via Just Fly Sports

 

Weight Loss, Nutrition, and General Health

How to Read Junk Food Nutrition Labels By Elsbeth Vaino

Losing Bodyfat or Gaining Muscle Mass: Which is More Important? By Mark Rippetoe via Starting Strength

Reality Check: Is Your Workout Plan Designed to Actually Burn Fat? By Harold Gibbons via Mark Fisher Fitness

Detoxing, ReToxing, or Always-Toxing By Keoni Teta via Metabolic Effect

 

Strength Training, Powerlifting, and Bodybuilding

Tip: The Rack Pull By Eric Bach via T-Nation

Can High Rep Lifting Replace Cardio For Lifters? By Greg Nuckols via Stronger by Science

Fitness Is So Simple It’s Complicated By Zach Even Esh

 

Motivation, Business, and Success

The Fight By Jim Smith

Market Toward One Audience and You’ll Enjoy the Perks of Many By Pete Dupuis

Gym Owner Musings – Installment #8 – Internship Edition By Pete Dupuis

 

Physical Therapy, Alignment, and Injury Prevention

Thoughts on Kettlebell Swings  By Charlie Weingroff

 

Ruthless Performance Coaches’ Content

Flexion vs. Extension Intolerant Back Pain By John Matulevich via Ruthless Performance