When we created the concept of Metabolic Stability we had a few goals and concepts we wanted to share with other fitness professionals.
• How to truly maximize their training with functional fitness equipment. Get a bigger return on your investments.
• To build synergy amongst their training tools and to put down the myth of “a tool is just a tool”, but have coaches using the RIGHT tools.
• Create reasonable, progressive, programs based upon sound science and training methods.
Within the scope of these posts we are showing you concepts and some practical ideas. By no means are we exhausting the potential of these training tools, rather showing you some of the often overlooked aspects of their use.
This month we are going to look at really two important patterns again. We are going to take you through a series of progressions that emphasize teaching the body how to create “linkage” by improving intermuscular coordination (the ability of the muscles to function to create movement) and progressively moving to different planes of movement.
The Lunge series in this month’s Metabolic Stability series is very important. We are going to show you how placement of load and direction of the lunge are all considerations in creating better progressive programs. The lunge is a tremendous exercise as we get acceleration and deceleration in the vertical plane, but horizontal as well.
Lunging in different patterns will create different levels of instability as well as firing patterns in the body. One of the most shocking things to watch is when a client is proficient in a movement pattern in one plane but completely novice when it comes to working through another plane of motion. Therefore, we want to build less of an imbalance amongst planes of movement. While they will not be able to be equal in their loading capabilities, we can definitely gain greater confidence in our abilities. The Sagittal plane is able to handle far more loading because of its typically more stable body positions, however, don’t let load fool you in the amount of intensity and complexity these movements create.
Kettlebell Double Rack Forward Lunge
Moving forward in our lunging patterns is more difficult than stepping back. Because we have more of our body to decelerate in the forward lunge pattern we need to have built a foundation in reverse step lunging first. Additionally, because we do have more of our bodyweight to decelerate, we have to adjust the external load accordingly.
The kettlebell double front rack position is a terrific loading position to introduce the forward lunge. Firstly, it identifies if the load or stepping direction is too much for the individual as we can quickly identify compensation patterns of leaning too far forward. Being in a lunge position also increases the anti-flexion stress on the trunk and upper back since our base of support is less. This loading position also gives us a rather stable loading position.
USB Lateral Slide and Stepping Progressions
When we change plane of motion, we can drastically increase the perceived stress by the client. Therefore, we generally do so by trying to introduce it as incrementally as load, speed, or other training variables. Using Valslides to allow our center of mass stay over our base of support allows us to slowly accomplish this goal. Moving to a more true lateral step requires more stability for similar reasons of the forward step.
The loading position of the USB during the change in plane of motion is quite important as well. Moving to the Shoulder position, we expose the client to more asymmetrical forces so lighter weights can be challenging in maintaining postural alignment in this position. Which shoulder we stress can vary the stimulus as well. In the more stable lateral slide we can stress the outside shoulder creating more perceived stress, while in the more unstable lateral step we can load the inside shoulder to make this again, more progressive.
TRX Suspended Crossover Lunge
The crossover lunge can be one of the most challenging lunge variations as it creates a very small base of support. This stepping direction also requires a rather high level of mobility in the hips so flexibility and mobility demands might limit one’s ability to perform this movement.
The benefits are quite great for the same reasons it can be a challenging exercise. The amount of stability and control that is required in this movement makes it a wonderful drill for health and strength. Using the TRX we can add a bit of stability to this very unstable drill. By layering progressive levels of instability and then focusing upon building a foundation of strength, we can slowly remove the stability in a safe and effective manner.
Most people recognize the vertical pressing and overall upper body strength that overhead pressing provides, however, the core stability and strength are almost equally as important. If we were to assume a plank position with arms straight and walked our arms straight out in front of us, we would eventually have our arms overhead. Obviously we would be flat on our face, so standing instead of using gravity to challenge our core stability/strength, we use an external load.
TRX Rip Trainer Lateral Press
A great drill from TRX Rip Trainer creator, Pete Holman, the lateral overhead press isn’t as much about pressing a weight vertically as it is maintaining posture and alignment during horizontal forces pulling on the body. This different vector force disrupts the body’s ability to maintain posture and alignment and teaches better body integration. By using an unstable position such as the half kneeling position, we see common compensation patterns that will be important to remedy before going to heavier loads in overhead pressing.
USB Arc Press
Usually pressing overhead sees the weight in almost exclusively a vertical plane. The USB Arc Press changes the overhead press by adding in some horizontal forces as well. The key in the USB Arc Press is to both have a more rigid USB and to slow down the tempo. This will cause far more frontal plane forces to be resisted by the body so best done with lighter weights in more compromised positions such a military or half kneeling positions, or heavier loads in more stable base positions.
Kettlebell Rotational Press
Working in the transverse plane is key in our overall development of our movement skills. It can be one of the most challenging because of all the additional movement that occurs through the body to cause rotation. The kettlebell rotational press is a wonderful drill to introduce to clients because it allows them to focus on the proper footwork needed to rotate. Done correctly this becomes a “push-pull” series and the kinetic energy starts to drive the body from the ground overhead and from side to side. Making this a very efficient drill for teaching correct movement skills.