Welcome to 2021 - a year that will undoubtedly look a lot different than we originally envisioned in more ways than one!
To kick-off the year, I want to set some intentions, and then show and describe to you a new exercise feature that in some cases, might be unlike any exercise you've tried before.
First off, I wanted to set some intentions for the year, and I encourage you to do the same.
My intention with writing this blog is to inform, practice creative writing, and to keep our readers engaged with a constant stream of content through our various social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, email marketing and this blog). While the goal of 2021 for me is not to gain more followers, make 10x more money than 2020, or to be the "best" in Calgary, my intention is to continue to learn from diverse sources of information, to think critically about the information I'm learning and reading, and to experiment with new ideas, exercises, mediums, and people. What inspires me is making athletes bigger, faster, stronger, getting people out of pain, and winning*.
*The feeling in-and-of itself; winning races; winning client's trust/buy-in, etc.
I think all too often in the Strength and Conditioning or Exercise Physiology communities (I mention these two because they are the main ones I am a part of), because our backgrounds are grounded in science and literature, we forget that our fields are relatively young in comparison to other fields. Any time a new idea, exercise, or method pops up on the internet, we naively turn to the PhD's for approval, rather than thinking critically, and for ourselves. Charles Poliquin once said that research is 10 years behind the current best practices - and I don't doubt that he was right.
For example, as I write this blog in late 2020, the two most recent papers I've read, confirm the successful methods we already apply as coaches are slowly being confirmed by new research:
A) Does Cold-Water Immersion After Strength Training Attenuate Training Adaptation? (Poppendieck, 2020). There's a reason why athletes hate going in the cold water - and if you've tried it yourself you likely feel no better after doing a cold bath. This paper even showed that the cold-water immersion could cause muscle damage. This is a glimpse into why we don't prescribe them.
B) Acute effects of varying squat depths on lumbar intervertebral discs during high-load barbell back squat exercise (Yanagisawa, 2020). No surprise here, the deeper you squat, the higher the intervertebral discs are compressed, and the more lumbar lordosis, and anterior pelvic tilt will result. Why do you think we don't tend to squat deep and heavy for low back pain clients, or anyone with excessive anterior pelvic tilt (most people)?
Anyways, with some of those intentions for 2021 out of the way, we hope you can keep an open mind, have enough energy to read and learn from us and other practitioners in the industry and outside of it, and that you stay healthy and full of vigour this year!
To do the exercise of the week properly, a few key pre-requisites are:
Learn first to do the crossbody pendulum swings correctly. In this set up, Nick is performing the exercise with a staggered stance, with his hip square to the camera, and his shoulders and thoracic spine rotating to allow for the weight to swing past his thigh and knee.
Secondly, be able to feel this in the glute and hamstring of the front leg. If you have been taught to do a hip hinge correctly in the past, and if you can get the majority of your weight staying on the front leg, you should feel a stretch in the posterior chain involving these muscles. The goal is to get the glutes especially, to stretch, and contract to get the weight up, rather than lifting the weight with the shoulder.
Utilize the momentum created by the KB to create forward motion. Similar to running, jumping, and changing direction, we need to absorb force and then create muscular contraction to reverse the direction of the weight, or the body in motion.
When your skill and technique is better, you can practice this with a heavier weight, or you can increase the speed, complexity, and coordination with other variations!
The exercise can be performed with a dumbbell, kettlebell, or, as we made our clients and athletes do during lockdowns of 2020, holding a soup can, milk jug, or water bottle! The key coaching points and cues are:
Posture is always important. Set your torso up like a cylinder with a neutral pelvis, and stable base. You can have a staggered stance, or not.
We shouldn't see the knees bent or extend, as the movement is primarily a hip hinge.
Perform the exercise slowly at first to ensure you aren't lifting the weight with your arms, but rather, swinging the weight with your hips.
Catch the weight at the top of the swing, and focus on keeping hips square while creating an effort to rotate at the thoracic spine.
Try them out and let us know what you think!
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Poppendieck, W., Wegmann, M., Hecksteden, A., Darup, A., Schimpchen, J., Skorski, S., Meyer, T. (2020). Does Cold-Water Immersion After Strength Training Attenuate Training Adaptation? International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijspp.2019-0965
Yanagisawa, O., Oshikawa, T., Adachi, G., Matsunaga, N., & Kaneoka, K. (2020). Acute effects of varying squat depths on lumbar intervertebral disks during high-load barbell back squat exercise. Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. https://doi.org/10.1111/sms.13850