A quickly written blog post. The idea hit me this morning and I thought i would share!
10 things to work on: to be fit, strong and healthy!
1. Loco motor skills: A-Skip. Everyone should know how to skip with some level of proficiency. You don’t have to look like an Olympic sprinter, but at least show that you have some level of coordination using your opposite arm and leg in cross lateral motion. Skipping used to be taught in elementary P.E. years ago. Now I find myself teaching college level athletes how to skip properly. Skipping provides a nice low intensity warm-up and activates certain areas of the brain that deal with learning.
2. Perfect body weight Squat/lunge/single leg squat: I know that this is actually three things but the idea is get very good at these foundational lower body movements. (Looking for technical proficiency here) For example in the squat the idea is to get top of thighs parallel with the floor, upper body should be erect with no rounding of the spine. When this is proficient we can then begin the journey towards squatting with load. Also by concurrently working on all the three movements we can actually help develop the weakest movement. For example one may be excessively leaning forward during the squat due to tight hip flexors, so by training the lunge properly, will allow the hip flexors to gain mobility and thus improve squat technique.
3. Perfect Push-up: This is actually a great total body exercise that not only challenges the upper body but also the stabilizing mechanisms of the anterior/posterior lumbo-pelvic hip complex (think abs and butt). Arms directly under the shoulders, legs straight and hips neutral (like someone is going to punch you in the belly and squeeze your butt). Upon descent elbows should stay close to the body and forearms should be perpendicular to the floor. If this can’t be accomplished then a putting your body on an incline is a good place to start. Then slowly move yourself down as you get better.
4. Pull-up: I know I know you can’t do a pull-up. I understand that pull-ups are an extremely difficult exercise for most people. They are a great test of relative strength. So if you can’t do a pull-up you either need to lose weight or get stronger or both.(two thing many people need to do anyways) So being able to do a pull-up is simply not just practicing pull-ups but also working hard and consistently on a all around training program.
5. Eat more fruits and veggies every day. Not really something we need to learn but something I think needs to be reminded to people every day. Start off by just trying to get one extra fruit and veggie serving daily.
6. Sprint short distances for speed: No other exercise uses as many muscles and activates more motor units than sprinting at full speed. Sprinting trains the nervous system to work more efficiently (coordination) and is fundamental to almost all field and court sports.
7. Leaping: Leaping is basically jumping from one leg to the other. Think like jumping over a puddle on a rainy day. This requires balance and stability on one leg. Doing small short jumps back and forth from leg to leg functionally activates many of the important muscles in the hips like the glutes. These muscles tend to be weak on many people and lead to a knee and low back pain. So it is important to train these muscles the right way and jumping is a fun activity too.
8. Throw a medicine Ball: the exercises you can do with a medicine ball are endless. You can throw them for power development for younger athletes, combine throws for a conditioning effect or use specific rotational and diagonal patterns for core training. Funny thing is people would rather spend $2000 on an elliptical machine that eventually becomes a clothes rack, rather than buy a $30 medicine ball. Throwing a medicine ball as high as you can in the air uses many joints and muscles in a coordinated, explosive and dynamic fashion, it is relatively safe and can help teach more complex patterns of movement to be used later on (think Olympic lifts). Also by dynamically going into full extension we strengthen the many muscles of the backside of the body that tend to get weak and lazy due to excessive sitting.
9. Sprint longer distances for cardiovascular fitness: Remember running “wind sprints “during high school sports? Remember the great shape you were in back then? When people stop playing sports they stop doing great exercises like sprinting and conditioning, poor fitness soon follows. Running intervals is much more metabolically demanding than running long distances. So if your goal is fat loss than training like this is your best bet.
10. Run a couple miles at a consistent pace: I am not a long distance fan by any stretch, but most of us should be able to bang out a mile or two on a track without stopping due to physical pain or gasping for breath. If you can’t do this then I suggest you go back and work on #1-9 and retry again in a few months.