Want to challenge your core? Try the Stability Ball Rollout and add a weight vest.

  Stability or Swiss Ball Rollout progressions are one of the most useful exercises for developing core stability and improving athletic performance. This exercise is an excellent way to improve your ability to efficiently transfer force from your upper body to your lower body. It also helps to improve your efficiency in normal athletic movements such as running, swinging or jumping. And lastly, The swiss ball roll out is a simple exercise to perform properly. Just stay tall, keep your hips forward and apply force into the ball to roll in and out while maintaining a nice rigid position.

 Once you’ve progressed to increasing the number of repetitions or time in between repetitions you begin to wonder how else you can up the ante.  While some might suggest progressing to other core stability exercises such as the bar rollouts or the ab wheel.  I personally find these exercises to be too polarizing when working in group settings.  It’s common for me to see people completely butchering the ab wheel or bar rollout due to inadequate upper body strength, core strength and improper positioning.  Therefore if we want to improve our ability to transfer force from our upper body to our lower body through the use of swiss ball rollouts there are other ways to increase the load, intensity or resistance without extending exercise time or progressing to another exercise tool.  It’s simple. Add weight!  Increase the resistance by putting on a weight vest.  For those unfamiliar with how the swiss ball rollout challenges the core here’s a quick biomechanics lesson:

 While you lean over the swiss ball with your hips forward, glutes tight, and abdomen braced you initiate movement by applying downward force through your extended arms. Remember Newton and his third law?  Well it tells us that the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite. So the downward force you’re placing on that ball is being directed right back into your hand in the opposite direction.  In order for you not to fold up like a lawn chair or fall into extension you must extend through your shoulders and stabilize through your spine by producing a flexion (opposite of extension) force.  This is why you (should) feel this exercise in your arms and abdomen. Adding a resistance such as the weight vest helps to add the force being applied into the ball and therefore increases the force you have to resist against going into extension by flexing or stabilizing against a fixed object like the swiss ball.

In other words, if you’re looking for a way to challenge your core within the sagittal plane just grab a swiss ball put on a weight vest and roll out. But don’t take my word for it. Try it out.

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Want to challenge your core? Add a weight vest

  Swiss Ball Rollouts are one of the most useful exercises for developing core stability and improving athletic performance. This exercise is an excellent way to improve your ability to efficiently transfer force from your upper body to your lower body. It also helps to improve your efficiency in normal athletic movements such as running, swinging or jumping. And lastly, The swiss ball roll out is a simple exercise to perform properly. Just stay tall, keep your hips forward and apply force into the ball to roll in and out while maintaining a nice rigid position.

 Once you’ve progressed to increasing the number of repetitions or time in between repetitions you begin to wonder how else you can up the ante.  While some might suggest progressing to other core stability exercises such as the bar rollouts or the ab wheel.  I personally find these exercises to be too polarizing when working in group settings.  It’s common for me to see people completely butchering the ab wheel or bar rollout due to inadequate upper body strength, core strength and improper positioning.  Therefore if we want to improve our ability to transfer force from our upper body to our lower body through the use of swiss ball rollouts there are other ways to increase the load, intensity or resistance without extending exercise time or progressing to another exercise tool.  It’s simple. Add weight!  Increase the resistance by putting on a weight vest.  For those unfamiliar with how the swiss ball rollout challenges the core here’s a quick biomechanics lesson:

 While you lean over the swiss ball with your hips forward, glutes tight, and abdomen braced you initiate movement by applying downward force through your extended arms. Remember Newton and his third law?  Well it tells us that the forces of two bodies on each other are always equal and are directed in opposite. So the downward force you’re placing on that ball is being directed right back into your hand in the opposite direction.  In order for you not to fold up like a lawn chair or fall into extension you must extend through your shoulders and stabilize through your spine by producing a flexion (opposite of extension) force.  This is why you (should) feel this exercise in your arms and abdomen. Adding a resistance such as the weight vest helps to add the force being applied into the ball and therefore increases the force you have to resist against going into extension by flexing or stabilizing against a fixed object like the swiss ball.

In other words, if you’re looking for a way to challenge your core within the sagittal plane just grab a swiss ball put on a weight vest and roll out. But don’t take my word for it. Try it out.

photo

Core Stability – Why it’s important to add spine stability exercises to your exercise routine regularly.

Every now and then I have to remind myself why it is that I constantly focus on core (spine) stability exercises regularly.  Even when the flood of literature by researchers and leaders in the field suggest a shift from the conventional  flex the spine and crunch to stable the spine and control exercise I still receive questions/exercise programs centered around sit-ups, crunches and spine flexing tomfoolery. I can’t say that I’m not guilty of the doing repeated sets of eight twenty minute abs. In fact, I do believe there is a place for exercises that strengthen the abdomen through flexion. However, I believe they should be infrequent and should dwarf in comparison to the number of core stability exercise performed in an exercise program.  And if there’s any reminder why it’s important to constantly train the spine in a stable position I like to return to an  old passage that I once read by Gray Cook. “It is true that a strong midsection is a fundamental building block of spine stability, but spine stability cannot be trained when the spine is moving, as it is during crunches and sit ups . Spine stability is trained by keeping the spine stable in the presence of movement around it ( in the arms and legs). The brain and muscles can remember only the way, so they must consistently be trained the way they will be used in the sport or activity.” In other words tone it down with the eight minute abs. Instead, incorporate exercises that focus on maintaining a stable spine while incorporating movement at the extremities.

Try adding this simple circuit to your exercise routine to improve core strength and performance:

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Coaching Cue: Stay tall and controlled through your spine with your glutes tight moving only your extremities ( arms and/or legs).

Do you – Train Core Stability with improvements in Mobility

Quick Sum:

                Previous routines which focused on core stability only solved part of the puzzle. The other part of the puzzle requires us to increase freedom of movement and then challenge them within this newly acquired movement.  So to get better at demonstrating stability we have to focus on making sure we have good range of motion at the appropriate joints.

Do You – Train Core Stability with some Mobility

               In an effort to apply some of the concepts gained from Gray Cook’s Movement, I’ve added in a few additions to our core stability routines.

              We are a culture that is obsessed with the “midsection”. While our obsession is often misguided and superficial, the midsection (also referred to as the core) is incredibly important for optimal function in many activities from daily activity to sport performance.

             The objective of the core stability routines such as the video shown above is to improve the body’s ability to protect the spine and to effectively transmit forces from the lower body to the upper body by challenging stability in multiple planes in various positions. These exercises aren’t random Ab routines thrown in a heap to crush you into submission. For each stability routine, focus is placed on demonstrating stability within the three planes; the sagittal plane, transverse plane and the frontal plane at various positions. For instance, in this core stability routine I perform a ½ Kneeling Cable bar push. This exercise challenges me within the transverse plane because I must resist the torque of the cable being applied to the bar each time I press my inside hand out. By performing this exercise, I challenge muscles of the midsection to resist rotation. In the ½ kneeling cable OH lift my position remains the same but the forces changes to a torque within the frontal plane. Each time I raise the bar by driving my inside arm toward the ceiling, I must resist lateral flexion or remain stable in the midsection to avoid falling. Lastly, stability ball rollouts challenge stability within the sagittal plane as I must resist falling into extension by remaining stable through the midsection. By challenging the body to remain stable in various planes, positions and at different speeds my focus was to increase the body’s ability to transfer forces effectively at the midsection. In addition, I believed these exercises would be effective at protecting the lumbar spine through increase stability.

              After reading Gray’s Movement I’ve started to learn that my efforts in providing greater stability to the midsection by using these exercises may not be as effective or efficient at improving function and performance as I once believed. Gray explains to improve optimal function and thus performance it’s important to acquire freedom of movement, demonstrate an understanding of this freedom of movement from a sensory perspective and then finally demonstrate this freedom of movement from a motor control standpoint. In reference to the spine, he says that correcting mobility will have more potential positive effect on core stability and return of normal spine function than a spine stability program. Following this logic I’ve included some mobility exercise prior to the routines that may satisfy my efforts in making these core stability sessions effective and efficient. The mobility exercises chosen focus on the joints above and below the lumbar spine.

Do you – Train Core Stabillity with Mobility

Quick Sum:

                Previous routines which focused on core stability only solved part of the puzzle. The other part of the puzzle requires us to increase freedom of movement and then challenge them within this newly acquired movement.  So to get better at demonstrating stability we have to focus on making sure we have good range of motion at the appropriate joints. 

Do You – Train Core Stability with some Mobility

               In an effort to apply some of the concepts gained from Gray Cook’s Movement, I’ve added in a few additions to our core stability routines.

              We are a culture that is obsessed with the “midsection”. While our obsession is often misguided and superficial, the midsection (also referred to as the core) is incredibly important for optimal function in many activities from daily activity to sport performance.

             The objective of the core stability routines such as the video shown above is to improve the body’s ability to protect the spine and to effectively transmit forces from the lower body to the upper body by challenging stability in multiple planes in various positions. These exercises aren’t random Ab routines thrown in a heap to crush you into submission. For each stability routine, focus is placed on demonstrating stability within the three planes; the sagittal plane, transverse plane and the frontal plane at various positions. For instance, in this core stability routine I perform a ½ Kneeling Cable bar push. This exercise challenges me within the transverse plane because I must resist the torque of the cable being applied to the bar each time I press my inside hand out. By performing this exercise, I challenge muscles of the midsection to resist rotation. In the ½ kneeling cable OH lift my position remains the same but the forces changes to a torque within the frontal plane. Each time I raise the bar by driving my inside arm toward the ceiling, I must resist lateral flexion or remain stable in the midsection to avoid falling. Lastly, stability ball rollouts challenge stability within the sagittal plane as I must resist falling into extension by remaining stable through the midsection. By challenging the body to remain stable in various planes, positions and at different speeds my focus was to increase the body’s ability to transfer forces effectively at the midsection. In addition, I believed these exercises would be effective at protecting the lumbar spine through increase stability.

              After reading Gray’s Movement I’ve started to learn that my efforts in providing greater stability to the midsection by using these exercises may not be as effective or efficient at improving function and performance as I once believed. Gray explains to improve optimal function and thus performance it’s important to acquire freedom of movement, demonstrate an understanding of this freedom of movement from a sensory perspective and then finally demonstrate this freedom of movement from a motor control standpoint. In reference to the spine, he says that correcting mobility will have more potential positive effect on core stability and return of normal spine function than a spine stability program. Following this logic I’ve included some mobility exercise prior to the routines that may satisfy my efforts in making these core stability sessions effective and efficient. The mobility exercises chosen focus on the joints above and below the lumbar spine.

Do You – Activate Your Hips – Training strategies to help you improve your athletic potential

 

The importance of mobility to optimal movement has been demonstrated by numerous coaches and authors.  We understand that mobility is the potential of motion at a particular joint. We also understand that it is relative to stability, and that a greater need for stability means a greater need for mobility.  Lastly, we know that to achieve greater mobility we must take a holistic approach in attacking each of the components of mobility which include but are not limited to flexibility, Joint range of motion, muscle range of motion, extensibility, and plasticity.  Muscle function or the action of a muscle at a joint is generally viewed as relating more to stability than mobility.  For instance it is commonly understood that in order to achieve appropriate stability we need muscles to fire properly and at the right time.  However the same can be said when it comes to improving mobility. In order to achieve appropriate mobility we need muscles to fire appropriately and at the right time.  It isn’t a new concept.  I’ve seen many presentations expressing the idea of muscle function as a means for increasing mobility.  Mike Robertson calls it motor control; Charlie Weingroff calls these the mobilizers in his DVD Training = Rehab. The point is that we’re all saying the same thing. The function of these muscle groups particularly at the hip is important to mobility and movement.

When it comes to the hips one of the ways we improve mobility is through optimal function of prime movers. In the case of extension, the glute max must properly extend the femur at the hip joint. Whereas, hip flexion requires the psoas to effectively flex the femur at the hip joint. Any limitations in the ability of the psoas or glutes to exhibit function will result in a limited range of motion and a reduction of mobility in space.  This reduction in mobility can have a negative impact to fundamental movement patterns involved in locomotion and performance on the field.  It should also be mentioned that restrictions in mobility may also be the result of muscle length, stiffness, structure or joint restriction.  If limited muscle function of prime movers results in lack of mobility in space how can we improve their ability to perform their designated action?

I had the fortunate experience of interning at MBSC back in 07 when I first saw exercises which focused on accomplishing those tasks.  Coach Boyle termed these corrections activation exercises. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to share this thought process with various coaches at various levels.  Last year the Bills strength and conditioning staff and I spent a great deal of time with our players focusing on appropriate warm up activities to drive mobilization through activation of prime movers.  The exercises for this portion of the warm up included:

Glute Activation Exercises

  • Cook Hip Lift or the Leg Lock Bridge

  • Foam Roller – Short level Raise

  • Long Lever Raise

  • ½ Kneeling Partner Press Outs

Psoas Activation Exercises

  • High Knee Walks

  • Standing Hip Flexion

  • Lying Mini Band Psoas Hip flexion

  • Seated Hip Flexion

This Off Season the Bills Strength and Conditioning staff decided to revisit our system of training.    In an effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our system at increasing mobility in the appropriate areas we decided to revisit some of the exercises we use in our warm up routine, lift routine and post – life routine.  What we discovered was that we could combine certain exercises and achieve our goal more effectively.  For instance, in the lying mini Band Psoas Hip Flexion exercise the focus is to place the knee above 90 or at a position where the psoas is likely to be the main contributor to hip flexion.  By activating the psoas we increase its ability to properly activate during movements that require hip flexion. In addition, by improving activation we also reduce the compensations that can result from a weak or inhibited psoas such as dominance from other hip flexors such as the TFL or Adductors.  Likewise, by activating glutes we can limit the dominance of synergistic muscles such as the hamstrings and adductors.  We do this by improving the ability of the glute to extend at the joint. The exercises we use to accomplish these goals are listed below.  These exercises satisfy our efforts to achieve proper function of the psoas and glute and also facilitate the key concept of “hip separation” in the sagittal plane. In other words, it improves their ability to demonstrate maximal closed chain extension and maximal open chain flexion of the hip.  In conclusion, these activation exercises can aid in variety of areas pertinent to optimal movement by driving mobilization of the hip through increase muscle function. And more importantly they are time efficient.   The following exercises are listed below.

Phase 1

Foam Roller – Short Lever Raise + Mini Band Psoas Hip Flexion (Hip separation activation)

Phase 2

½ Kneeling Partner Press Outs + Forward Knee Lift (Press out and lift)

Phase 3

Standing Hip Flexion/ Extension (Standing sprinter pose)

Do You – Activate Your Hips

The importance of mobility to optimal movement has been demonstrated by numerous coaches and authors.  We understand that mobility is the potential of motion at a particular joint. We also understand that it is relative to stability, and that a greater need for stability means a greater need for mobility.  Lastly, we know that to achieve greater mobility we must take a holistic approach in attacking each of the components of mobility which include but are not limited to flexibility, Joint range of motion, muscle range of motion, extensibility, and plasticity.  Muscle function or the action of a muscle at a joint is generally viewed as relating more to stability than mobility.  For instance it is commonly understood that in order to achieve appropriate stability we need muscles to fire properly and at the right time.  However the same can be said when it comes to improving mobility. In order to achieve appropriate mobility we need muscles to fire appropriately and at the right time.  It isn’t a new concept.  I’ve seen many presentations expressing the idea of muscle function as a means for increasing mobility.  Mike Robertson calls it motor control; Charlie Weingroff calls these the mobilizers in his DVD Training = Rehab. The point is that we’re all saying the same thing. The function of these muscle groups particularly at the hip is important to mobility and movement.

When it comes to the hips one of the ways we improve mobility is through optimal function of prime movers. In the case of extension, the glute max must properly extend the femur at the hip joint. Whereas, hip flexion requires the psoas to effectively flex the femur at the hip joint. Any limitations in the ability of the psoas or glutes to exhibit function will result in a limited range of motion and a reduction of mobility in space.  This reduction in mobility can have a negative impact to fundamental movement patterns involved in locomotion and performance on the field.  It should also be mentioned that restrictions in mobility may also be the result of muscle length, stiffness, structure or joint restriction.  If limited muscle function of prime movers results in lack of mobility in space how can we improve their ability to perform their designated action?

I had the fortunate experience of interning at MBSC back in 07 when I first saw exercises which focused on accomplishing those tasks.  Coach Boyle termed these corrections activation exercises. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to share this thought process with various coaches at various levels.  Last year the Bills strength and conditioning staff and I spent a great deal of time with our players focusing on appropriate warm up activities to drive mobilization through activation of prime movers.  The exercises for this portion of the warm up included:

Glute Activation Exercises

  • Cook Hip Lift or the Leg Lock Bridge

  • Foam Roller – Short level Raise

  • Long Lever Raise

  • ½ Kneeling Partner Press Outs

Psoas Activation Exercises

  • High Knee Walks

  • Standing Hip Flexion

  • Lying Mini Band Psoas Hip flexion 

  • Seated Hip Flexion

This Off Season the Bills Strength and Conditioning staff decided to revisit our system of training.    In an effort to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our system at increasing mobility in the appropriate areas we decided to revisit some of the exercises we use in our warm up routine, lift routine and post – life routine.  What we discovered was that we could combine certain exercises and achieve our goal more effectively.  For instance, in the lying mini Band Psoas Hip Flexion exercise the focus is to place the knee above 90 or at a position where the psoas is likely to be the main contributor to hip flexion.  By activating the psoas we increase its ability to properly activate during movements that require hip flexion. In addition, by improving activation we also reduce the compensations that can result from a weak or inhibited psoas such as dominance from other hip flexors such as the TFL or Adductors.  Likewise, by activating glutes we can limit the dominance of synergistic muscles such as the hamstrings and adductors.  We do this by improving the ability of the glute to extend at the joint. The exercises we use to accomplish these goals are listed below.  These exercises satisfy our efforts to achieve proper function of the psoas and glute and also facilitate the key concept of “hip separation” in the sagittal plane. In other words, it improves their ability to demonstrate maximal closed chain extension and maximal open chain flexion of the hip.  In conclusion, these activation exercises can aid in variety of areas pertinent to optimal movement by driving mobilization of the hip through increase muscle function. And more importantly they are time efficient.   The following exercises are listed below.  

Phase 1

Foam Roller – Short Lever Raise + Mini Band Psoas Hip Flexion (Hip separation activation)

Phase 2

½ Kneeling Partner Press Outs + Forward Knee Lift (Press out and lift)

Phase 3

Standing Hip Flexion/ Extension (Standing sprinter pose)