Phase II Components

Welcome to Phase II. Get familiar with the components below so that you can maximize your time and efforts to get the results that Got Function? is designed to deliver for you.

The Components

Stabilize
Dynamic Warm-up
Total Body Circuits
CORE
Stretch & CORE Circuits
Just Move It!
Corrective Actions
Stretching
Foam Roll

 

Stabilize

These exercises are ideal for activating the small muscles you need to stabilize your joints throughout a workout. The goal here is activation, NOT fatigue. If you work out these muscles too hard at the beginning of a workout, then they will be pooped during the rest of the workout and cannot stabilize your joints properly.
If you are someone who needs extra stabilization, then do these exercises also after the workout or on your off days. Additional weight can be added to meet the demands of your life, sport and activities.

Dynamic Warm-up

This group of exercises is essential to any workout. It is what prepares the body for battle. Whatever you are going to do, sports, lift heavy weights, etc., this group of exercises should get you ready for that.
The exercise we use here at Got Function? utilize all planes of motion and are sure to have you ready for ANYTHING. Whether it is lifting heavy, playing a sport, or performing our phase I circuits, these warm-up routines are proven to have you completely ready by the time you finish them.
If you are new to exercising, you can actually use these as your workouts! No shame in that. These are total body exercises that use your bodyweight in just about every way you can imagine.

Total Body Circuits (TBC)

The Total Body Circuits used here at Got Function? are based on all of the main functions of the body, which are push/pull/squat/lunge/twist/jump/walk. Each TBC will rotate through these movements to make sure that your workout is balanced and most importantly, FUNCTIONAL.

 

CORE

The CORE circuits used here at Got Function? cover all aspects of the core, including flexion, side bending, twisting and extension. Each circuit will always rotate through these movements to ensure that you get a balanced workout and totally functional core.

 

Stretch + CORE Circuits

These circuits are done on Saturdays and are a great jump start to the weekend. They are not meant to be very intense, but rather increase your metabolism for the weekend and stretch you out while you are warm and moving around. The same type of CORE circuits are used here as in the other videos, with the addition of two stretches at the end of each circuit. The stretches are your reward for working hard, so remember to really relax and breathe during them. Take your time and don’t rush through the stretches.

 

Just MOVE IT! (Movement/Cardio)

Keep your movement between 65-85% of your max heart rate for at least 25 minutes in order to get a challenging workout that will yield results. Although some days cruising under the radar is necessary and you should go at whatever speed you feel like, remember that if your goal is improved fitness, body composition, fat loss, etc., then you will need to stay at the higher intensities.

  • · Dance
  • · Run/jog
  • · Walk/hike
  • · Swim
  • · Bike
  • · Sports
  • · Wii sports
  • · Etc. 
The X-Factors Total x per wk
Corrective actions 3-7
Stretching 3-7
Foam roll 3-5


X-Factors

Corrective actions, stretching and foam roll are the top three things that most people lack in their exercise routine. These are also the top three tools for preventing injury and keeping the body supple, flexible and balanced.
Please make sure to add these to your routine, you won’t regret it.

Corrective Actions

Please note, these exercises are NOT MEANT TO TREAT ANY PAIN OR INJURIES YOU MAY HAVE. You should always check with your doctor before trying any exercise program. The word corrective is used here as a description for improving posture imbalances.
These are just a few of the most common imbalances that societal habits cause our bodies to have. If you click on each link above you will find a description of each. Check out the videos in the corrective actions section on this site to see how to improve each situation.
If you are not sure which one is best for you, then follow these guidelines;

a) If you sit at a desk or in a chair a lot, they are ALL good for you, seriously. Most of our imbalances come from sitting and lack of movement.
b) If you are active but have aches and pains in your lower body only, then try #2 & #3.
c) If you are active but have aches and pains in your upper body only, then try #1 & #3.

 

Stretching/Cool-down

This is how you reward your muscles for working hard. Stretching everyday is a great way to relieve stress, reduce muscle soreness, and improve your daily mobility and aches and pains. The videos shown in the stretching/cool-down section are NOT FOR WARMING UP before a workout. They are intended to cool you down after a workout or for use on a daily basis to improve posture and joint imbalances.
Please read more here about how to stretch properly.

 

Foam Roll

If you haven’t foam rolled, then get ready for a love-hate relationship that will change how your entire body moves and feels. By rolling over specific parts of your body as shown here, you will release adhesions in the muscles and fascia that 1) cause you pain, 2) restrict your motion and blood flow, and 3) decrease your performance and function. This is huge, because most of us sit too much and don’t stretch enough.
Don’t worry if this is unbearable at first, that just means you need A LOT of work, but it will get better, and you may even enjoy these painful self-massage sessions. Please give it a try because it can be an X factor in pain and performance, just ask the pros.

Phase II Training

WELCOME to Got Function?!

This page is all about Phase II training for the Got Function? program. To learn more about the entire program, go here.

Please read all of this info FIRST. This is everything you need to know before you watch the videos and start your workouts. Without this information, the videos here are just another bunch of exercises.

Click here to go to the FREE EXERCISE VIDEOS.

Below is your key, the second phase in a SYSTEM that will take you to your highest physical potential. Follow it, and you will get further than you ever imagined.

Phase II function banner

M

T

W

TH

F

SA

SU

  1. Stabilize
  2. D. Warm-up
  3. TBC
  4. CORE
1. Move it!
2. Stretch
3. C.A.’s
  1. Stabilize
  2. D. Warm-up
  3. TBC
  4. CORE
1. Move it!
2. Stretch
3. C.A.’s
  1. Stabilize
  2. D. Warm-up
  3. TBC
  4. CORE
1. Move it!
2. Stretch
3. C.A.’s

off

TBC = total body circuit

C.A. = corrective exercises

D. Warm-up = dynamic warm-up

Move it! = cardio, sports, hiking, etc.

S/C circuits = stretch + CORE circuits

CORE = core circuits

 

Regular Workout Flow – (M/W/F – 45-60 minutes)workout progression banner

Guidelines

  • Combine each of the components (as suggested above in the weekly calendar) into one smooth and continuous workout. For example, on Monday, start with the stabilizer video, then move onto the dynamic warm up, 2 total body circuits, and finally 2 CORE circuits.
  • Take as little rest as possible between exercises and circuits. The goal here is maintaining a fast, controlled and steady pace, not intense weight lifting.
  • This phase is 4 weeks minimum, and you must properly perform the level 6 TBC at a moderate speed and resistance  in order to progress to phase III.
  • The warm-up and stabilizer videos are organized as upper, lower and total body. This does not pertain to phase II because every workout has a total body focus, so therefore you can choose whichever (upper, lower or total body) you like.
  • Although stretching is not mentioned on the M/W/F routine, it is always a good idea to stretch everyday or almost every day. Unless you are blessed with extreme flexibility, stretching is key to not only your performance, but also your recovery and overall well being.
  • The amount of times per week for each workout is a maximum recommendation, so if you are new to this and it seems like too much, then start with only 2x per week instead of 4, or whatever sounds right for you. Just know that the greatest benefits will come once you get up to the maximum recommendation. Work your way up slowly, with baby steps anything is possible.

Goals

  • Maintain the following intensities by % of MHR (max heart rate) for the TBC & CORE portions of the workout.

               Beginner – 60-70%      Intermediate – 65-75%      Advanced – 70-85% 

  • Control your body weight up to a moderate speed in all planes of motions and with all types of movements, including; push, pull, back bend, side bend, front bend, squat, lunge, twist, jump, land, accelerate, decelerate, and combinations of movements.
  • Perform a level 6 TBC efficiently at the end of 4 weeks so that Phase III can be started.

Phase II Component Guidelines

 (click here for full descriptions)

Stabilize

Activation exercises designed to balance posture and joints – choose 1 video per workout.

Dynamic warm-up

Should warm and prepare the body for whatever type of workout you are about to perform – choose 1 video per workout.

 Total Body Circuit

Choose 2 circuits for each workoutchoose 2 videos per workout.

 CORE

Choose 2 circuits for each workoutchoose 2 videos per workout.

 Stretch + CORE Circuits

4-6 bodyweight  circuits alternating between 4 CORE (flex/side bend/twist/extend) exercises and 2 stretches – choose 4-6 videos per workout.

 Move it!

Just move baby, that’s it. Pick something you like that keeps your body active and do it for at least 30 minutes.

 Stretch

Also used as a cool-down, these stretches target all the major muscle groups and should be done daily to optimize your health and performance – do all major body parts each time

 Corrective Actions

These exercises are what will keep your body balanced and able to constantly exercise high intensities without injuring yourself – depending on your aches and pains, do one or all of the corrective videos. See below for more details.

 Foam Roll

Get ready for the most powerful self-massage tool ever, the foam roll. This is how you will keep your muscle supple and injury free.

Got Function?

what is function

What is function to you? Is it strength and coordination? Is it the ability to perform most physical activities with grace? Or is it being able to stand on a balance disc with one leg and do squats?

To me, function is the body’s ability to efficiently perform this workout we call life, with a great variety of speed, strength and coordination.

Efficiently is the key word, because it denotes that the muscles are working together as a team, and that a foundation of joint stability and mobility have been established, thus allowing safe speeds and forces to develop.

This teamwork is what allows the joints to remain in a healthy position, no matter what the task is, and is the key to performance and injury prevention.

Try Phase II of Got Function? for FREE!

More often than not, the way people train these days is dangerous, ineffective and leads to excessive wear and tear on the body, plus irreversible damage to the joints. If you are going to put in the time to exercise or play a sport, then you might as well maximize your time and results, instead of accelerating the aging process. That is why Got Function? was created.

To put it simply, Got Function? is a scientifically designed and highly innovative exercise program that will progressively train you to reach your potential in strength, sports performance, balance and power, all while maintaining  and protecting the integrity of your joints.

You like science, anatomy and kinesiology? Then CLICK HERE, because you will love this nuts & bolts look at Got Function?

My gift to you is Phase II of Got Function?, completely for free, in the form of videos and articles. If you are a relatively healthy person with no injuries, aches or pains, then you should be able to instantly enjoy this gift and start working out right now.

If you are someone plagued with aches and pains, then you will need to wait for Phase I, which should be coming out at the end of 2013.

Phase I will be aimed at building your functional foundation, and is full of corrective strategies for all of the following:

  • Core activation patterns
  • Posture and breathing
  • Stability
  • Mobility
  • Endurance of spine and core muscles

Below is a chart showing the overall progression theme for Got Function? The first two phases are the most important because they lay the foundation for everything  else. For now, this site will focus on the first two phases – you can find many amazing resources online to fit your needs for the final three phases, but the first two are where Got Function? separates itself from the rest in building a functional foundation.

 

If you follow the program, phase by phase, there is no telling how far you can go, how high you can jump, how fast you can run, or how much weight you can push, pull, throw, squat, lift or chop!

The 3 Best Stretches for Runners

As a runner, if you can consistently do these 3 fundamentals, then you will be ahead of most people’s entire stretch routine.

The stretches below are definitely not a complete program, but they are the missing link

As a runner, if you can consistently do these 3 fundamentals, then you will be ahead of most people’s entire stretch routine.

The stretches below are definitely not a complete program, but they are the missing link to the most common weaknesses I find in runners, and if you only have a short time, these will give you the best bang for your buck.

Before we begin, I want you to know that the best program is one that is tailored specifically to your weaknesses, imbalances and goals. Therefore, chances are you will need a lot more than these stretches to take you to the next level – so check out the videos and extras at the end of this post.

Important note: ALWAYS WARM-UP BEFORE STRETCHING. Try this warm-up routine or this one.

One last thing….make sure you know what stretching is all about before jumping into any program.

Stretch #1

FRONT SPLITS

Best runners tretches image
Front splits

No, this is not only for gymnasts. Yes, it is advanced, but is the single-most important stretch anyone can do to improve their stride length and make the running motion effortless.

*Make sure to point the front foot upwards to lengthen the calves too, unlike the picture shows.**

If you are a very stiff person, this stretch is not for you. Start with something simpler, like this and this.

What’s great about this stretch is that it lengthens the hamstrings, calves and hip flexors at the same time, just like in a running or jumping stride.

Use props (yoga blocks, chairs, etc.) so that you can remain upright, not bent forward. Get into and out of this position carefully. Hang out here for 1-3 minutes per side, repeating as often as necessary.

Stretch #2

ACHILLES TENDON & PLANTAR FASCIA

Best runners stretches image
Achilles Tendon & Plantar Fascia Stretch

Everyone seems to do this stretch already, but most people do it wrong. You know why? They think they are only stretching their muscles and hold the position for 20-30 seconds, but that is not the focus here….it’s FASCIA. Lengthening the achilles tendon and plantar fascia, and improving dorsi flexion are the goals here, not simply going through the motion.

Have you ever noticed how long dancers, gymnasts and martial artists hold their stretches? A lot longer than 20-30 seconds. This is why their entire body is flexible, not just one little area. Their longer holding times get deep into the fascia and unwind all the connecting tissues that hold the muscles, bones, organs etc. together.

In order to stretch fascia, you need to hold a stretch at least 90 seconds so it can weave its way deep into the tissues and unwind all around the muscles. Use your breathing to enhance this process.

Make sure to position the step in the middle of the foot so you can really feel the stretch throughout the bottom of the foot and plantar fascia, as well as in the achilles tendon and calf area.

Hold this stretch for at least 90 seconds and let it really sink in deep. Also make sure to keep your foot pointed straight and not rotated outwards. You can also try it with a bent knee to get more of the soleus area. Only repeat this stretch 1-2 per day and resist the temptation to push too hard.

Stretch #3

TORSO TWIST

Best runners stretches image
Torso Twist

This stretch is WAY overlooked. Most runners I work with are also desk jockeys or people who sit a lot. This means that their shoulders and thoracic spine are out of position and lack mobility – therefore restricting arm swing during running and decreasing lung (oxygen) volume due to impaired rib expansion.

In other words, this is one of those stretches that will increase your endurance and performance without feeling like it is doing much at all during the stretch…..which is of course why most people don’t take the time to do it.

Start completely on your side with your knees tucked, almost like fetal position, but not so crunched together. Roll backwards as far as you can and hang  out there for 30-90 seconds. Your shoulder should touch the floor without pulling the bottom shoulder forward to cheat.

Also make sure your knees stay together – put your bottom hand on top of them to hold in place.

Come out of this stretch slowly, and back to the starting position before you get up so you don’t kink your low back. Take two good breaths after coming back to neutral, then switch sides. Repeat 2-3 times per day.

BONUS MATERIAL

1. LEG ELEVATION

photo (21)

Use 1 or 2 legs, put them up against a wall and hang out for 3-5 minutes.

This is especially useful after a run to clear the legs of “old blood” and help them recover faster.

It also is a great way to stretch the hamstrings.

Make sure your hips/butt are on the floor.

2. FOAM ROLL. The only reason it wasn’t mentioned above is that it isn’t a stretch…it is a self-massage. Either way, it is necessary for peak performance and recovery.

3. Use these STRETCHING VIDEOS to find out where you are tightest and need to balance tension. Scan through the videos and keep the stretches that you need to work on the most.

4. Know your NUTRITION. Do you know how many calories you need to eat to sustain your efforts? Are you eating enough protein to recover from workouts? What about enough fat and carbs so you don’t have mood swings, hormonal issues and much more?

Calculate everything you need to know here, for free.

5. Bonus EXERCISE/DYNAMIC STRETCH

photo (2)

This is for your hamstrings and lower abdominals. The goal is to keep your legs straight and move them as far up and down as possible – all the while supporting the low back with abdominal bracing and proper breathing.

This helps activate the quads to dynamically stretch the hamstrings, while simultaneously forcing the abs to stabilize the pelvis. The front splits at the beginning of this post are great for improving a runners stride length. This exercise is great for improving the ability to actively utilize that length.

Perform this exercise for 10-20 seconds at a time, until it is easy to do so for 60 seconds in a row – the motion should be slow and steady.

You should NOT feel this in your low back. If you do, you need to look into your hip flexor tightness issues and your ability to maintain a neutral spine while your legs are mobile.

How to Look Like an Athlete

If you’re an athlete, then you already look like one – and if you’re not an athlete, but want to look like one, then you better start training like one.

Okay, that’s pretty simple, right? Nope.

What’s complicated here is figuring out exactly what an athlete looks like and if it’s even the desired look you’re going for.

Most people seem to think that athletes have the best bodies, but a photo shoot and book of various Olympic-level athletes and weight lifters by Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein titled “The Athlete”, has shown us that not all athletes look like “athletes” and some of them can look downright out of shape and couch potato-ish, even though they are the best in their sport.

So what’s the point of this info? To let you know that you could be wasting precious time and efforts on a workout routine that is giving you a body you won’t even like!

Now the question becomes, “do I want to look good, or perform well at X?” Because, these two results are not often related, especially if your X is an endurance event.

Top Fitness Model Obi Obadike

Above is the “World’s Most Ripped Fitness Model”- Obi Obadike. Obi would get his butt kicked by arguably the greatest tennis player to ever live, Roger Federer (see image below), in a tennis match. But whose body would you want? Or would you rather have the skills of Roger? Hmmmmm….choices choices….cause you ain’t gettin’ both.

If performance in X is your thing, then seek out how to train for that and go get it, but don’t be disappointed with your body if you choose darts or endurance training as your main sport.

If esthetics, basic strength and fitness are your thing, then seek how to train for it and go get it! Just know that nutrition is HUGE for esthetic-based results.

Also know this: excelling in BOTH of those results (looks AND performance) is predominantly a genetic thing (based on observation, not scientific fact), like T.O. below.

In Summary

1) If you want to LOOK like a fitness model, then you better act like one, which means following a strict diet and WEIGHTlifting routines (not cardio routines). Go here for an example of how they do it.

2) If you want to excel in a sport or activity, then master it by imitating what the pros do in that arena.

3) If you want to look like a fitness model AND play like Roger Federer, then you better move to a different planet because that type of muscular body hurts tennis players and other specialty athletes on this planet, given our unique gravity forces here on earth. Just ask Rafael Nadal about his injuries when he was heavier and had a more muscular body.

4) If you want the BEST way to get the body you’ve always wanted, then you must learn to LOVE your Self and accept YOU for who YOU are, inside and out. Then you will have an attitude like plus size model Tara Lynn.

Stretching & Body Awareness are the Missing Link to Becoming an Elite Athlete.

I say “Link” singular because stretching and body awareness are one, which is why stretching is so important. What stretching provides in the form of body awareness and control gives all who practice it a big-time edge on the competition who don’t. This enhanced body awareness is the missing link for most people trying to achieve elite, physical performance and it puts a new spin on why people should spend more quality time stretching.

Please keep in mind that I train athletes of all ages, sports and abilities, not to mention being one myself for over 20 years while reaching a junior Olympic level in two different sports; so this info is based on proven techniques and successful results, time and time again.

There is a common theme among ELITE athletes of all ages (past age 14), sports and gender that sets them apart from the non elites – STRETCHING and body awareness. This is not to be confused with natural flexibility which takes no additional time to practice and therefore does not create an advanced muscle-brain relationship while the muscle is in its lengthened position. Ummmmm what?

Let’s just say that I have seen kids and adults who are at a very high level for their sport although not quite elite and despite their great coordination and ability within their sport,  their overall body awareness is absolutely terrible. Do you know what all of them have in common? They don’t stretch much at all. And if they do, it is half-hearted or inappropriate. This leads to a body awareness that is lacking compared to those who do spend the time stretching and getting to know their body.

Yes this “body awareness” thing that yoga people talk about sounds a little hokey, until you see it day after day affect people who don’t have it. It is virtually impossible to find an elite athlete who has poor body awareness, and invariably these athletes ALL spend quality time stretching.

What I mean by this awareness is that if I ask someone who doesn’t stretch properly to perform a certain exercise that they have never done before, they have very little coordination to do it. The elite athlete can pick up the same exercise instantly with no hesitation and has amazing form, even though they have never done it before. So what does this mean?

It means that a person who spends enough time stretching properly will improve their brain’s relationship with the muscles and joints (especially in a lengthened position) and its ability to monitor every receptor and reflex involved with muscular coordination and function. This gives new hope for all those people who are not natural athletes.

The word stretching as used above is referring to a specific act of stretching, which does not include simply going through the motions to get it over with, as most people do. Instead, it consists of:

  • Proper breathing techniques
  • Relaxation, patience and enjoying the process
  • Knowing when to back off and when to relax into a position
  • Clearing one’s mind and focusing solely on the task at hand…stretching and body awareness
  • Practicing body awareness by listening to when a muscle is tensing up and then easing up exactly enough so that the muscle can stay relaxed in the lengthened position and improve to a new and longer length
  • Letting go of tension, not creating more
  • Using proper posture while stretching and not slouching or sagging – stretching should utilize proper core activation and encourage efficiency against gravity and joint stability at all times, otherwise it is useless flexibility
  • Making sure a muscle actually needs to be stretched – some muscles should first be strengthened to maximize joint stability

This affects everybody, not just the elite.

Why? Because it allows the brain to control and experience what is too much tension in the muscles and what are dangerous positions. Only patience and practice of proper techniques can teach these lessons.

What follows are the nuts and bolts of stretching. What you just read above is why stretching is so important for athletes and everyday people.   

The Physical Aspect of Stretching

Thinking about it energetically, the brain sends impulses to the muscle telling it to move; receptors in the muscle are constantly sending impulses back to the brain informing it about the muscle’s position, speed of movement, length, and tension.1,2  Receptors in the muscle also send signals back to the spinal cord that shoot right back to the muscle, totally bypassing the brain. These are reflex arcs, the simplest being the stretch reflex.1,2

The stretch reflex increases tension in the muscle being lengthened and has a static and dynamic component.3,5 So as long as the muscle is moving, it will have some tension in it that interferes with its passive stretch potential. This tension will increase proportionally with the speed of the stretch.3,5  Therefore, a slow stretch should be applied to inhibit tension in the muscle (autogenic inhibition) and facilitate its elongation.4 Also holding the stretch for at least twenty seconds will stimulate the golgi tendon reflex and inhibit the muscle spindle’s stretch reflex, which will create an adaptation in the muscle spindles and allow the muscle to stretch further without initiating the stretch reflex.5

These reflexes help the body function on a daily basis (maintaining posture and muscle tone) 1,2 but can limit stretching if they are not understood. If the reflexes are not taken advantage of, then stretching is just like any other movement; it will move the muscle without any affect on its long term length.

Experience leads me to believe that the reflex arcs are hypersensitive when the mind is busy, therefore allowing a smaller stimulus to activate the reflex and decrease the muscle’s stretch potential. In order to best override the stretch reflex, the mind must be relaxed. When the mind is focused on body awareness the muscles can relax along with the reflex arcs, allowing for a maximal stretch. Injuries and sharp pains are exceptions; even if they can be tuned out, they shouldn’t.

While relaxation is often a goal of stretching, the rest of the body should not be limp during the stretch. For instance, while stretching the low back it is often beneficial to activate the abdominal muscles in order to stabilize the intervertebral segments against excessive motion.

The Mental Aspect of Stretching

Stretching is best done with a quiet mind and some knowledge of how the muscles respond to lengthening. The mind and body are always communicating, and when the mind is busy their connection is weakened. What one did and what one has to do are thoughts that often cause a level of anxiety; undetectable to a busy brain but are enough to interfere with the reflex arcs.

Stretching can act as a time out from the daily routine and unite the physical with the mental. Instead of the muscles reacting to the brain (stress), the brain should interact with the muscles when stretching. For instance, during a stretch if it becomes uncomfortable, one can back off, breath through it, or hold it anyway while gritting the teeth and hardly breathing (yes you). This last technique usually adds more stress than it takes away.

Instead, interact with the muscle by breathing smoothly and clearing the mind. This takes practice. Then it is possible to feel the muscle and each tightness surrounding it. Without reacting to the tightness the breath can be used to soothe the muscles and establish a new and improved length that wasn’t possible with the old reflex arc, not to mention increase circulation and body awareness.

This doesn’t have to be an enlightening experience, rather a timeout from the outside world and a union with the inside. This moment should be enjoyed; it’s a great thing to be able to improve health just by breathing and paying attention to the body. Without this “timeout”, stretching is just another movement that can add stress to the body.

This is of course an ideal way to stretch that is not always possible, but time should be taken to have ideal sessions whenever possible. 

~In general, if stretching is not the mind’s focus and enjoyable, then it will not fully benefit the body. ~

 

Types of Flexibility

Non-dynamic

Passive, self-myofascial release, active, isometric, and active assisted stretching techniques are all non-dynamic. This type of flexibility is less complex and usually achieved in one movement plane, sometimes two, and is best used to correct posture imbalances and elongate muscles because of its relatively simple methods. It does not transfer very well into dynamic or multi-planar flexibility because it lacks the neuromuscular coordination. Non-dynamic flexibility is the foundation of stretching and should be the first goal of any novice or injured person.

Dynamic

Dynamic techniques, like yoga movements, are the only way to achieve dynamic flexibility. This type of flexibility is controlled by the neuromuscular system and allows the muscles to elongate while controlling the body’s speed, direction, balance, and coordination. Therefore, coordination is required to avoid injury. All three planes of movement should be challenged in a way that prepares the body for real life situations, such as reaching behind the washing machine to pick up fallen clothing. Dynamic flexibility cannot be totally converted into non-dynamic flexibility because the maximum length allowed by the muscle is rarely reached in a dynamic stretch.

  • Both types are needed for overall flexibility.

Example: An athlete has a daily routine of non-dynamic stretching for the entire body and can pass every basic ROM test there is but he/she does not do any dynamic stretching. If they are blessed with great coordination and flexibility it is possible to escape wear and tear or clumsy injuries. But if they are like most people, they will need to practice dynamic flexibility otherwise a situation will eventually occur that puts the body into a position it has neither the strength, flexibility, or coordination to control, all of which could have been trained through dynamic stretching.

 

How far is enough to get a good stretch?

The goal isn’t to go as far as one can, rather as far as one should. The end-feel of a stretch is the best guide to how far and even if stretching should be done. If the end-feel is a structural blockage or sharp pain, then stretching can do more harm than good. But if the end-feel is a leathery restriction, like muscle, then stretching should help the limitation.

Stretch the muscle to the barrier (first point of moderate tension), hold until the muscle “let’s go” which is usually about 20-30 seconds, then relax it or gently stretch it to the next point of noticeable tension.  More is not always better when it comes to twisting, bending, pulling, pushing, and everything else that is possible to do to the body. It can be a fine line between injury and improvement depending on the condition of the surrounding tissues and the stretching techniques used.

Stretching to the limit will often create instability in the involved joint(s) due to surpassing the ability of the antagonistic muscle to stabilize the joint(s). A great way to prevent overstretching is to stretch slowly and smoothly, get the muscles warm, and make sure the surrounding muscles (especially the antagonist) can support the joint in that position.

Breathing

If breathing isn’t relaxed and synchronized with the stretch, then results will be poor. The exhalation helps relax the muscle and is most beneficial during the elongation phase. While holding a stretch for the appropriate time, the inhalation should be similar to the exhalation in force and duration (3-5 seconds in, 3-5 seconds out, with a pause in between). This isn’t always possible at the beginning of a difficult stretch but by the last few seconds a rhythm should be achieved, otherwise the muscles won’t completely relax and accept the new length. At first it will seem impossible to relax in some of the new positions, but by focusing on proper breathing it is possible to reach the muscle’s greatest stretch potential.

Summary

Stretching is good for you: DO IT.

References

  1. Sherwood, Lauralee. Human Physiology: From Cells to Systems, ed. 2. West Publishing Company, Minneapolis/St. Paul. 1993
  2. Marieb, Elaine. Human Anatomy and Physiology, ed. 3. The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc.,California. 1995
  3. Alter MJ. Science of Flexibility, ed. 2. Human Kinetics. 1996
  4. Basmajian JV. Therapeutic Exercise ed. 3. Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore. 1978
  5. Clark,MA. Integrated Flexibility Training.NationalAcademyof Sports Medicine (Publishers).Thousand Oaks, CA. 2000

How to Stretch Properly

Types of Flexibility

 Non-dynamic  – Passive, self-myofascial release, active, isometric, and active assisted stretching techniques are all non-dynamic. This type of flexibility is less complex and usually achieved in one movement plane, sometimes two, and is best used to correct posture imbalances and elongate muscles because of its relatively simple methods. It does not transfer very well into dynamic or multi-planar flexibility because it lacks the neuromuscular coordination. Non-dynamic flexibility is the foundation of stretching and should be the first goal of any novice or injured person.

 Dynamic – Dynamic techniques, like Yoga movements, are the only way to achieve dynamic flexibility. This type of flexibility is controlled by the neuromuscular system and allows the muscles to elongate while controlling the body’s speed, direction, balance, and coordination. Therefore, coordination is required to avoid injury. All three planes of movement should be challenged in a way that prepares the body for real life situations, such as reaching behind the wash machine to pick up fallen clothing. Dynamic flexibility cannot be totally converted into non-dynamic flexibility because the maximum length allowed by the muscle is rarely reached in a dynamic stretch.

  • Both types are needed for overall flexibility.

 Example: An athlete has a daily routine of non-dynamic stretching for the entire body and can pass every basic ROM test there is, but he/she does not do any dynamic stretching. If they are blessed with great coordination and flexibility it is possible to escape wear and tear or clumsy injuries. But, if they are like most people, they will need to practice dynamic flexibility, otherwise a situation will eventually occur that puts the body into a position it has neither the strength, flexibility, or coordination to control, all of which could have been trained through dynamic stretching.

How far is enough to get a good stretch?

The goal isn’t to go as far as one can, rather as far as one should. The end-feel of a stretch is the best guide to how far and even if stretching should be done. If the end-feel is a structural blockage or sharp pain, then stretching can do more harm than good. But if the end-feel is a leathery restriction, like muscle, then stretching should help the limitation.

Stretch the muscle to the barrier (first point of moderate tension), hold until the muscle “let’s go” or about 20-30 seconds is reached, then, relax it or gently stretch it to the next point of noticeable tension. 

Repeat this cycle 3-5 times total.

More is not always better when it comes to twisting, bending, pulling, pushing, and everything else that is possible to do to the body. It can be a fine line between injury and improvement depending on the condition of the surrounding tissues and the stretching techniques used. Stretching to the limit will often create instability in the involved joint(s) due to surpassing the ability of the antagonistic muscle to stabilize the joint(s). A great way to prevent overstretching is to stretch slowly and smoothly, get the muscles warm, and make sure the surrounding muscles (especially the antagonist) can support the joint in that position.

Breathing

If breathing isn’t relaxed and synchronized with the stretch, then results will be poor. The exhalation helps relax the muscle and is most beneficial during the elongation phase. While holding a stretch for the appropriate time the inhalation should be similar to the exhalation in force and duration (3-5 seconds in, 3-5 seconds out, with a pause in between). This isn’t always possible at the beginning of a difficult stretch, but by the last few seconds a rhythm should be achieved, otherwise the muscles won’t completely relax and accept the new length. At first it will seem impossible to relax in some of the new positions, but by focusing on proper breathing it is possible to reach the muscle’s greatest stretch potential.

 

The physical aspect of stretching

 Thinking about it energetically, the brain sends impulses to the muscle telling it to move, receptors in the muscle are constantly sending impulses back to the brain informing it about the muscle’s position, speed of movement, length, and tension.18,19  Receptors in the muscle also send signals back to the spinal cord that shoot right back to the muscle, totally bypassing the brain, these are reflex arcs, the simplest being the stretch reflex.18,19

The stretch reflex increases tension in the muscle being lengthened, and has a static and dynamic component16,27 so as long as the muscle is moving it will have some tension in it that interferes with its passive stretch potential. This tension will increase proportionally with the speed of the stretch.16,27  Therefore, a slow stretch should be applied to inhibit tension in the muscle (autogenic inhibition) and facilitate its elongation.17 Also holding the stretch for at least twenty seconds will stimulate the golgi tendon reflex and inhibit the muscle spindle’s stretch reflex, which will create an adaptation in the muscle spindles and allow the muscle to stretch further without initiating the stretch reflex.27

These reflexes help the body function on a daily basis (maintaining posture and muscle tone)18,19 but can limit stretching if they are not understood. If the reflexes are not taken advantage of, then stretching is just like any other movement, it will move the muscle without any affect on its long term length.

Experience leads the author to believe that the reflex arcs are hypersensitive when the mind is busy, therefore allowing a smaller stimulus to activate the reflex and decrease the muscle’s stretch potential. In order to best override the stretch reflex the mind must be relaxed. When the mind is focused on body awareness the muscles can relax along with the reflex arcs, allowing for a maximal stretch. Injuries and sharp pains are exceptions, even if they can be tuned out, they shouldn’t.

While relaxation is often a goal of stretching, the rest of the body should not be limp during the stretch. For instance, while stretching the low back it is often beneficial to activate the abdominal muscles in order to stabilize the intervertebral segments against excessive motion.

 

The mental aspect of stretching

Stretching is best done with a quiet mind and some knowledge of how the muscles respond to lengthening. The mind and body are always communicating, and when the mind is busy their connection is weakened. What one did and what one has to do are thoughts that often cause a level of anxiety undetectable to a busy brain but are enough to interfere with the reflex arcs.

Stretching can act as a time out from the daily routine and unite the physical with the mental. Instead of the muscles reacting to the brain (stress), the brain should interact with the muscles when stretching. For instance, during a stretch if it becomes uncomfortable, one can back off, breath through it, or hold it anyway while gritting the teeth and hardly breathing (yes, you). This last technique usually adds more stress than it takes away. Instead, interact with the muscle by breathing smoothly and clearing the mind, this takes practice. Then it is possible to feel the muscle and each tightness surrounding it. Without reacting to the tightness the breath can be used to sooth the muscles and establish a new and improved length that wasn’t possible with the old reflex arc, not to mention increase circulation and body awareness.

This doesn’t have to be an enlightening experience, rather a timeout from the outside world and a union with the inside. This moment should be enjoyed; it’s a great thing to be able to improve health just by breathing and paying attention to the body. Without this “timeout” stretching is just another movement that can add stress to the body.

This is of course an ideal way to stretch that is not always possible, but time should be taken to have ideal sessions whenever possible.

In general, if stretching is not the minds focus and enjoyable, then it will not fully benefit the body.

How to Find Your Target Heart Rate

If you want to maximize your exercise and fitness efforts, then using your heart rate as a gauge for intensity is a key factor. If you really want to get scientific, then get your VO2 Max tested by a local specialist so you can find out at which heart rates you burn the most fat, carbs, build up lactic acid, etc.

The most commonly used formula for finding your target heart rate is the Karvonen Formula, which is:

1. Find your MAX heart rate, which is: 220-(your age) = MHR

2. Calculate heart rate reserve: MHR-Resting heart rate = HRR

3. Determine TARGET HEART RATE during exercise, let’s say 75%(.75): HRRx.75 +RHR = THR

Your Target Heart Rate (THR) will vary depending on goal, activity and fitness level.

How to Maximize your Workouts

Alright, so here’s the debate; if you want to burn fat, is cardio or resistance training better?
 
There really is no debate, it’s resistance training. But for some reason this question comes up all the time. Probably because elite marathon runners tend to be thin, but who knows. 

If all things are equal, such as time, duration, intensity, frequency, etc., then weight training will kick-butt on anything when it comes to burning calories and fat.

The facts are, a 45 min workout weight training will boost your metabolism for up to 48 hrs; cardio will not. Unless of course you do cardio for 2+ hours, then maybe it will, depending on the intesity. Therein lies another problem. Many people don’t have the stamina to last that long at a high enough intensity (65-85% max) to get those tremendous metabolic boosts from cardio workouts. This is where a 45 minute high intensity weight workout will help you burn more calories and fat than anything else.

Look at me for example. I predominantly lift weights at a moderate to high intensity. I am lean, but have a lot of muscle due to my training. This muscle burns a lot more calories and fat even while I sit here writing this, compared to someone without a lot of muscle, i.e. most cardio-dominant people. This is NOT genetics, this is all training regimen. You can train your body to build muscle and do the same.
 
Stay tuned for videos on high-intensity circuit training.