“2 for 1 Special” – TRX Movements

Here are 5 TRX movements we utilize that involve alternating between two exercises. You will perform one rep of one exercise followed by one rep of another exercise and continue to alternate back and forth for the desired number of reps. Using the interchanging sequence requires a bit more coordination and core stability. We use these with healthy clients and feel that, as long as they are executed with proper form, are safe, effective movements that will challenge you in a fun, new way.

Here is a brief breakdown on the 5 exercises:
1. TRX Bicep Curl to Row

This is a pretty popular interchanging sequence that you may have seen before. Perform a TRX bicep curl with your palms up and your upper arm parallel to the ground. After one rep of your bicep curl, rotate your hands to a neutral grip and perform one rep of a low row with your elbows down by your side and your spine neutral throughout.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_2eiv7lyeA

2. TRX Pistol Squat to 1-Leg Balance Reach

When performing the single leg squat (pistol), keep your arms relatively straight and try to keep your weight on the heel to the mid-foot while maintaining an upright posture. After each pistol rep – hinge from your hip, maintain pressure into the handles, extend your heel towards to back wall, and lower down into a balance reach or deadlift position with a neutral spine throughout the exercise.

3. TRX Curtsy Lunge to Lateral Lunge

Begin by lowering down into a reverse lunge position and reaching the rear leg diagonally back to the 4 o’clock position (if looking at a clock). On the way up bring that rear leg way out to the 9 o’clock position and line up the ankle, knee, and hip joint while keeping the trail leg straight. Head and chest should remain upright and feet should remain forward throughout the exercise.

4. TRX Burpee to Scorpion

After the pushup portion of the burpee, you will perform the scorpion by rotating your torso and bringing the “free leg” under your body and then rotating your torso the other way to bring that “free leg” over your body. Next, return to the pushup position and drive that knee up before standing tall to complete one rep.

5. TRX Row to Triceps Extension

Keep a neutral grip for your row exercise and pull explosively enough to carry you through and under the anchor point where you will go right into an overhead triceps extension movement. This will also be done in an explosive nature so that you can return back to the row position. Make sure the strap length is fully shortened and only offer this to healthy and experienced TRX users.

Get with these movements and let me know what you think!

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State College. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, a Spinning certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, FMS training, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in 8 fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers. For more information please visit www.todddurkin.com, www.fq10.com, and www.dbstrength.com.
Want to use the article above? As long as you include the bio blurb at the bottom, you are welcome to use the article in your own publication.

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Midsection Madness for MMA

By Doug Balzarini, Personal Trainer, Fitness Quest 10

I love telling my client or athlete that we are going to hit the “core” hard and then walk them over to the pull-up bar for pulls or the trap bar for sets of deadlifts. I cringe every time I hear someone say that it’s time to blast the core and lay on the floor and begin crunching away for 50 reps. The definition of one’s core has gotten lost in translation over the years and we need to better understand what it really is.

I like to refer to the core as – any muscles and structures that support and stabilize the pelvis, spine, and shoulders. I’d have to refer back to my old A&P text books to confirm it but I’m fairly certain this involves more than just our rectus abdominis. Because of this definition; exercises such as squats, deadlifts, tire flips, pushups and pull-ups are all considered excellent “core” movements in my book. Lying down and pulling on the back of your head to facilitate cervical and thoracic flexion is not my idea of healthy “core” work.

Most of the everyday Joe’s and Jane’s of the world are in a seated position 8+ hours a day. Their hip flexors, pecs, and anterior shoulder muscles are tight, and their gluteals are inactive. Their scapulae are stuck in protraction so why would we have them come in to our facility and sit them or lay them down?! We are providing our clients a disservice and, in the long run, doing them more harm than good. I like to refer back to one of my favorite exercise-related questions, “Why?” Why are we performing a particular exercise? You should be able to defend or explain every exercise you do with every client or athlete you train.

Transfer Station

I like to refer to the core as the “transfer station” for the body. I’m sure I heard that term from someone smarter than I am and I apologize for not giving them credit. It is a term that makes a lot of sense to me. Our movements come from the ground up so when we are curling, pushing, or pressing something with our upper body, we generate our strength from the bottom and transfer it up to the moving parts. One great example of this is throwing a punch. We begin to generate that power from the ground all the way up to our fist. There are loads of studies out there to support this; two examples include: 1) Dyson, Smith, Martin, Fenn. (2007). Muscular Recruitment During Punches Delivered At Maximal Force & Speed. XXV ISBS Symposium 2007, Brazil, 591-594. 2) Valentino, B., Esposito, L.C., Fabrozzo, A. (1990). Electromyographic activity of a muscular group in movements specific to boxing. Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness, 30, 160-2.

To Move Or Not To Move

While we train most muscles to move and accelerate, we should train our core musculature to decelerate, control, and transfer movements. They work to prevent motion and provide the solid foundation needed for safe, effective movement.

Midsection Moves For MMA

Your core/trunk/torso (call it what you want) is especially important for the sport of MMA. Having mobile hips and a strong, stable, and efficient core will lead to better footwork, stronger takedowns and takedown defense, and increased power in all of your striking. Now, I’ve made it no secret that I’m not an advocate of crunching movements; especially with the everyday population. That being said, MMA athletes are a different breed. If we are being sport-specific and training them functionally for their craft, then one could make a case that we should be performing various crunching movements. It’s a great conversation piece for us “exercise nerds” out there and one that I’m still on the fence with. I do have a few of crunch variations that I do with my combat athletes from time to time; however, for this particular article; I am choosing to keep it a “crunch-free” zone.

My Current Top 8
I say “current” because I’m always trying new movements and changing the list up.

1. Seal Walks

This is a great “anti-rotation” movement because our goal is to minimize the rotation of the pelvis as we move. Keep your abdominals braced and be sure to not lock out your elbows as you move. This is also great for the shoulder stabilizers and muscles of the shins and quads. Like I mention in the clip, there are a variety of tools you can use to perform this movement including; Valslides, Sandbells, and plates.

2. Valslide Hip Circles

This is a variation of the popular abdominal knee tuck that we commonly do with the Valslides or TRX. The primary difference is the abduction component of the hips. This is great for opening up the groins and an important movement for combat athletes who want to improve their flexibility for their ground game.

3. Stability Ball “Stir The Pots”

This is a great progression from the traditional plank. By adding an unstable tool, such as the stability ball, we easily increase the intensity. Also, by elevating the feet and by incorporating small movements such as circles and spelling the alphabet, we can really challenge the core muscles on both the front-side and back-side of the body. Be sure to watch the lumbar spine on this exercise as our goal is to maintain a neutral spine throughout.

4. TRX Body-Saw with Knees

From the plank position with your feet in the cradles, initiate the movement from your torso and shoulders by pushing your body back (think heels toward the back wall). As you come forward drive one knee towards the same side elbow. Repeat this “sawing” movement and alternate knee strikes for desired reps.

5. TRX Hi Plank w/Stops & Perturbations

These are two variations I like that both begin in the pushup, or hi plank, position. For the perturbations, have a training partner push your feet in various directions while you try to resist. For the stops, you will perform pendulum swings and your partner will cue you to stop moving at random times. The challenge is to hold that position for a 5 second count before swing again.

6. Sandbag Get-ups

The traditional get up, which I also love, is typically performed with a kettlebell and an extended arm. Two reasons I choose to show the sandbag version are 1) it’s slightly easier to teach and 2) I like having the heavy sandbag laying across the chest to challenge breathing patterns. Begin on your back with the sandbag over one shoulder and the same side knee bent with foot flat. Leading with your chest, roll to the opposite elbow and continue to shift your weight up to the hand. From this position, drive through your hand and opposite heel to extend your hips. You will then sweep you leg underneath your body and come to your knee. Next, you want to line up your body; think of being “tall” and having length through the spine. From this split squat or lunge position, stand up tall and come to your feet. To return to the starting position, simply reverse the steps in a controlled manner.

7. Standing Tornado Ball Figure 8’s

This movement is great for developing rotational power through the thoracic spine. Try to minimize the movement of the hips and really focus on keeping your abdominals braced and your shoulders rotating. Standing in an athletic position, start swinging the ball in front of your body and begin “drawing” an eight with the ball. Maintain this rotational pattern for desired reps or time.

8. Hanging Wipers

This is one of my favorite midsection movements. Like I mentioned in the clip, perform this in a controlled manner and don’t feel you need to go too far from side to side. Your lumbar spine will thank you in the morning. You need a certain amount of core control and grip strength to get into this exercise. Once you are you hanging from the bar, swing your legs up so you are inverted with your ankles, knees, and hips are in a straight line, perpendicular to the ground. From here, let the legs fall from side to side controlling the speed and movement from your obliques, erectors, and abs. Shoot for 20-30 reps.

Please give these a try and let me know what you think. I encourage feedback and would love to try any crunch free abdominal exercises that you have had success with.

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State College. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, a TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, FMS training, Spinning certification, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in 8 fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers.

For more information please visit www.todddurkin.com, www.fq10.com, and http://twitter.com/dbstrength.

Want to use the article above? As long as you include the bio blurb at the bottom, you are welcome to use the article in your own publication.

I’m Injured, Now What?

Find the silver lining in your injury

By Doug Balzarini

**Disclaimer — I’m not a doctor and I’ve never played one on TV** My thoughts on this topic of injuries are simply from my personal experience and the experience of my clients and athletes. I am currently dealing with a shoulder injury due to my poor arm-bar escape technique, so this subject is fresh in my mind at the moment.

The focus of this article is to discuss what you do AFTER you have sustained an injury. Are you going to be proactive and get better? Are you going to cower in the corner of the stall like Jim Carey in “Dumb & Dumber”? I vote being proactive; accept it, get your required rest and rehabilitation work going, work on your imbalances, and come back stronger and better than before.

Injuries occur for a variety of reasons and come in all shapes and sizes. They can range from a bump on the knee to severe sprains, fractures, and dislocations. Regardless of whether you’re a professional athlete, weekend warrior, or housewife, chances are you are going to get injured at some point.

GET OVER IT Being proactive means we have determined the severity of the injury and now it’s time to plan the best course of action. If warranted, rehab work may be required. When it comes to rehabilitation and injuries I have always said when in doubt, refer out. I think it is vital to have a solid network of rehab specialists at your disposal. Physical therapists, ART specialists, massage therapists, Chiropractors, MDs, etc; the stronger your list, the better your chance for complete recovery. If you’re a trainer or coach reading this, you should have a network already in place so you can make recommendations for your clients and athletes. If you don’t, then start researching today. A colleague of mine, Eric Cressey, said it well in his “Proactive Patient” article “it’s better to know who you’re going to contact when you get injured than it is to scramble to find someone on a moment’s notice when you’re already in pain.” http://ericcressey.com/7-tips-for-your-physical-therapist-visit

Personally, I always try to learn from my injuries. If I have a muscle imbalance or mobility issue; I will really try to focus on that in my training to help fix the problem. I like to know why I got hurt and then work to correct the issue so it doesn’t happen again. Mr. Einstein said it best when he said, “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

WHAT DO I DO NOW? CONTINUE TO IMPROVE… Just because you have an injury does not mean you get a free pass from training. Of course, this depends on the nature and severity of the injury. Sadly, the calories we consume during an injury still count so we need to keep moving. These setbacks just require us to get a little more creative with our training. Two alternatives to consider are the use of machines and expanding your programming. Even though I’m not a huge fan of training with machines; this may be a time when it’s ok. At least until the injury is healed. This is also a great time to focus on those aspects of a complete program that we tend to rush through such as our flexibility exercises and joint mobility work. If you have a lower body injury you can continue with your upper body training, incorporate your lower body rehab movements and spend some extra time on those mobility and flexibility exercises that will help to prevent the injury from reoccurring.

PERSONAL EXPERIENCE My rundown from this past year includes 3 injuries; an oblique strain, plantar fasciitis, and a labral tear.

Oblique strain – This injury occurred during a grappling session. I figured my lower body movements would be unaffected and I could still focus on my upper body pushes and pulls. I was proven wrong when my first attempt at a pull-up resulted in me on the floor writhing in pain. As soon as I began to pull my body towards the bar, I felt a searing pain in my oblique muscle. Pull-ups are already my favorite upper body exercise; however, this drove the thought home even more. It incorporates so many muscles that you wouldn’t think of. Ironically, it wasn’t too long after this incident that I read a great article by Bret Contreras titled, “Inside the Muscles – Best Ab Exercises”. Bret showed us that your abdominal muscles play a major role in performing pull-ups. The take-away from this painful lesson is that pull-ups are a great “core” and “ab” exercise. I love to tell my clients that we are going to train abs today and I walk them over to the pull-up bar. http://www.t-nation.com/testosterone-magazine-627#627#best-ab-exercises

Plantar Fasciitis – This is an issue I’ve dealt with on a couple occasions now. Years ago it was simply improper programming on my part while training for my first ½ marathon. This past year, however, I have discovered that it has occurred due to an old ankle injury I sustained back in high school. At the time of my symptoms, my right ankle range of motion was literally 50% of my left. Since then I have incorporated ankle mobility exercises, daily calf stretches and lower leg foam-rolling, and that discrepancy is improving. The take-away lesson is that I need to work on my lower body mobility EVERYDAY. My lack of ankle dorsi-flexion and extreme calf tightness are keeping me from running which is something I really enjoy.

Labral tear – This was the injury I prefaced at the beginning of the article. I’m an amateur grappler (emphasis on amateur) and I attempted to pull my arm out before my opponent locked in an arm-bar position. Needless to say, I shouldn’t have pulled, he had it locked in solid, and I have had shoulder pain ever since. After a couple days of rest and ice, I saw a sports chiropractor and a DPT who both determined it was a probable labral tear. I realized bench pressing and any overhead work were out. I began with two weeks of A.R.T., physical therapy and laser therapy. Next, I began to focus a lot more on training the small, intrinsic muscles of my shoulders. External rotation work, Y’s, T’s, W’s, scapular retraction, lower trap recruitment, and rotator cuff stabilization movements were now first and foremost in my routine. While I’m not at a 100%, I feel like I’m getting better everyday and this injury will be a blessing in disguise as my overall shoulder health will be greatly improved.

FINAL THOUGHTS I listed these three injuries as examples to help make my point. An injury is not an excuse to keep you from training. Just be smart and have that strong referral network at your disposal. We are at our best when we are moving! So, listen to your body, fix what needs to be fixed, and continue to get better everyday.

About Doug Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State College. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, a TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, FMS training, Spinning certification, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in 8 fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments. Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers. For more information please visit www.todddurkin.com, www.fq10.com, and http://twitter.com/dbstrength. Want to use the article above? As long as you include the bio blurb at the bottom, you are welcome to use the article in your own publication.

4 TRX Partner Moves

Here are 4 TRX movements we came up with that require a partner. FAI recommends one unit per person; however, we felt these were safe, effective alternatives that we incorporate on occasion to infuse a little competition and a lot of fun.

Here is a brief breakdown on the 4 exercises:

1. TRX Suspended Burpee w/Knee Drive
This exercise involves one person exercising while the other person provides a target for the knee drive. Your partner performs a suspended burpee with one foot in a foot cradle while you stand in front of them. On the way up he will grab the back of your head while driving the knee from the TRX leg into a target (either hands or mitts).

2. TRX Partner Row w/Hip Adduction

Performing traditional TRX rows with elevated feet will make the exercise more challenging due to gravity. Now, we’ve taken it a step further by involving the lower body a great more. Begin the movement by starting with your butt on the ground and your body position directly under the anchor point. Secure your feet and ankles around your partner’s hip to engage your hip adductors during the movement. As you perform your rows your partner will be challenged a great deal as well by stabilizing through his/her core. A couple sets of these and your inner thighs will be talking to you for sure.

3. TRX High Plank w/Perturbations

Simply get in your suspended pushup position with your abdominals braced and spinal neutral. Your partner will be near your feet and gently push, pull, tickle (just kidding) your feet in an attempt to throw you off balance. These movements will engage your shoulder stabilizers, abdominals, erectors in the posterior chain, and even your quads and glutes. This is a great core “core” movement. I like to refer to the core muscles as “anti-movement” muscles. By adding these small pushes and pulls to your partner’s feet, they really need to fight you in order to stay in a solid, strong position.

4. TRX Suspended Burpee Race

If you have any competitive clients, then this is one to try out. I always stress to clients that we want to minimize sawing and prefer to have clients around the same size on this exercise. Both clients will have one foot in one of the foot cradles and perform a set number of suspended burpees as fast as possible in order to win the competition.

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State College. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, a Spinning certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, FMS training, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in 8 fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers.

For more information please visit www.todddurkin.com, www.fq10.com, and www.dbstrength.com.
Want to use the article above? As long as you include the bio blurb at the bottom, you are welcome to use the article in your own publication.

Top 5 Strength Tools For Combat Athletes

“Top 5 Strength Tools For Combat Athletes”
By Doug Balzarini, C.S.C.S., Fitness Quest 10

As Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) continues to grow in popularity, so do the methods and techniques used to help the MMA athletes reach their full potential. Coaches are realizing that their athletes must have a complete well-rounded program that covers not only their specialty; but many other aspects as well.  Wrestling and Jiu-Jitsu practitioners are working on their stand-up game and Muay Thai fighters and kick-boxers are working on their ground and pound. The latest “piece of the puzzle”, strength training, is another aspect that more and more coaches are implementing into their programs. Strength training is a great way to “lay that foundation” and help an athlete develop superior strength and power endurance. While I enjoy developing traditional strength training programs, I have to say my favorite piece is the metabolic circuits we do with our fighters. I experiment with all sorts of movements and equipment when putting these circuits together to see what works best. Some equipment is dropped, some is used sparingly, and then there are some foundational pieces that you will always find. Of those staple items, here are the five “must haves” to include in your metabolic circuit.

1. The Tire

There really isn’t an athlete out there that can’t benefit from incorporating the tire into their training program. Obviously, every client and every athlete is unique and has their own specific set of goals and ambitions; however, the tire is such a versatile tool that it can be incorporated into most programs.

The tire can be used for a number of different movements; jumps, step ups, and drags for the lower body, pushups, partner pushes, and sledgehammer hits for the upper body. For the purpose of this article, I’ll discuss the most popular exercise with the tire – the tire flip. I love this exercise for combat athletes because it combines total body strength, endurance, power, and flexibility as well. These are all extremely important aspects in a MMA match. If you are deficient in one of these areas then your weakness could be exposed which could be the difference between a post-fight interview with Joe Rogan or a visit from the medic with the smelling salts.

I also love that it incorporates grip strength, triple extension through the hip, knee, and ankle, and tremendous glute/hip drive, which is one of the most important joints to train for a combat athlete; especially if the fight goes to the mat where strong mobile hips are paramount.

Technique –
A tire flip is not a deadlift. There are some similarities, however, it needs to be executed a certain way so the benefits are maximized and the risk of injury is reduced. First, squat down next to the tire and get into a four-point stance. Lean your chest and shoulders into the tire, keep your arms wide, your back should not be arched at all, and your butt should be down. Begin the lift by using your hips to drive into the tire and push up at a 45° angle. This is very important as most athletes attempt to lift with your arms and lift straight up. The 45° angle is important for safety and allows the athlete to get into triple extension of the ankle, knee, and hip. As the tire approaches shoulder height, you need to transition your body into a “clean position” to catch the tire and then drive it forward like a standing chest press. Allow the tire to fall to its side and then repeat.

Proper fit (tire height and weight) can be very important when searching for the tire that’s right for your population. Ideally, try to pick one that is roughly twice the athlete’s weight. The ideal height is one that comes to around the knee area when the tire is resting on its side. Too low and it will be a challenge for the athlete to get the hips low enough to get into a solid starting position and keep the exercise safe.

2. The Rope

Like the tire, the rope is a tool that provides you with total body strength, endurance, and power. The ropes have many names (climbing ropes, fitness ropes, battling ropes®, to name a few) and come in various lengths and widths. We typically use ropes that are 40 or 50 feet long with a width of 1.5 to 2 inches. This is a tool that has gained popularity very quickly and we are constantly coming up with new ways to utilize this versatile piece of equipment.

Technique –

For a great deal of the popular movements, we begin with a handle in each handle and the midpoint of the rope is securely anchored. Facing the anchor point, stand in an athletic position with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width and your knees and hips slightly bent. This is a great set-up position for many of the traditional anterior chain movements which include; waves, slams, grappler throws, walk-ins, jumping jacks, and single arm waves and slams. These can also be done seated, kneeling, or while performing lower body movements such as squats and lunges.

You can attach the rope to a sled, prowler, punching bag, or just about anything that will slide and perform a number of posterior chain pulling movements. This creates a whole new set of movements that require a great deal of grip strength which is crucial for the MMA athlete.

3. Superbands

You could easily perform a challenging, effective, whole-body workout with just superbands. This tool is very versatile and very simple. They range in thickness from 0.5 inches to 2.5 inches. The thicker the band, the harder the exercise will be. All your common exercises can be done with superbands from bicep curls and triceps pressdowns to resisted squats and deadlifts. For the purposes of the MMA athlete, I enjoy using them for explosive hip movements (squat & high pull), powerful pulling movements (1-arm row & rotations), torso rotation work, and resistance runs/jumps. The setup and execution for these is different so I’ll show them in the video clip below:

4. The Prowler

The prowler is possibly the best tool for developing leg drive, power, and endurance. These are critical for pinning and controlling your opponent up against the cage or if you are in the clinch and battling for superior position at any point during the match. The beauty of the prowler is that it’s not just a “leg machine”; it will develop strength and power up into your hips, torso, and upper body as well.

Technique –

For the traditional pushing movement using the high handles, simply grab the posts, get in a nice forward lean, get your hips down, and drive hard. Some variations include using the low handles…if you are up to the test. Also, extended arms vs. bent arms will change up the arm and shoulder stabilization challenge.

Our distance traveled will be determined by what we are using the prowler for on a particular day; longer, slightly slower pushes if used in a metabolic circuit or all-out-I-can-hardly-walk prowler sprints if we are using them as a “finisher” (think Tabata protocol). For pulling movements, we attach a TRX (link here) or sled straps and use the prowler as a sled. See our popular prowler movements here…

5. Medicine Balls

Like the superbands, medicine balls are another tool that could be used to perform a complete, full-body workout. They incorporate speed, power, and hand-eye coordination and come in all different sizes, weights, and materials. Which weight and type of medicine ball we use will depend on the particular exercise being performed. Most people are familiar with medicine ball push-up and wood-chop variations…we like to use the balls for explosive release movements. Slams, throws, sprawls, etc. are all included in our medicine ball work. Check out the clip to learn more about our favorite medicine ball exercises…

Closing thoughts

Keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with good old-fashioned bodyweight exercises. This is a sport of weight classes, so if you aren’t capable and sufficient in moving your body quickly, safely, and efficiently, then you shouldn’t be adding weight to it. If you have poor body awareness and incorrect mechanics, then adding external load (dumbbells, bars, balls) will only further exacerbate the issue and lead to muscular imbalances and eventual injury. Click here to read my recent article on bodyweight exercises. While the movements are not specific to the MMA athlete; everyone can benefit from bodyweight training. That being said, as long as you are healthy incorporate these five amazing tools into your training arsenal and you will be on your way to increased strength, power, performance, and most importantly, victories.

About Doug
Doug currently works at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE). A Massachusetts native, he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science with a minor in Business Management from Westfield State College. Since moving to San Diego he has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU, obtained an ACE Personal Trainer certification, the NSCA-CSCS certification, a Spinning certification, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, FMS training, and received his CPR/AED instructor status. He has also appeared in 8 fitness videos, written numerous fitness articles, completed a MMA Conditioning Coach certification program and has competed in multiple grappling tournaments.

Prior to working at Fitness Quest 10, Doug worked for the American Council on Exercise as the Continuing Education Coordinator where he was responsible for managing over 400 continuing education providers.

For more information please visit www.todddurkin.com, www.fq10.com, and http://twitter.com/dbstrength.

Want to use the article above? As long as you include the bio blurb at the bottom, you are welcome to use the article in your own publication.

Work What Your Mama Gave Ya

Resistance training – and I don’t mean “resisting” training – means going back to the basics. Picture yourself doing high school physical education kinds of exercises (based on using your bodyweight as resistance) and there you have it.

Resistance training is a common phrase in the fitness world. By definition, resistance training is a form of strength training where resistance is applied to a muscle to stimulate growth of muscle fibers with the goal of increasing strength, body mass, and/or muscular tone and endurance.

People often think of these exercises as training with dumbbells and weight machines. Today, the latest trend in resistance training is using what you carry around every day: your bodyweight. Using bodyweight as resistance is a proven effective and excuse-free workout.  You don’t need a gym or high-tech weight machines – all you need is you!

Bodyweight resistance training requires performing seemingly elementary, but challenging and effective, exercises such as push-ups, pull-ups, squats, lunges and fast, powerful movements called plyometrics. You can add resistance tubes and stability balls into the mix for added challenge.

You don’t need to be a hardcore body builder to reap the benefits of resistance training. In fact, bodyweight training can be equally as effective for trimming and toning the body for all ages and fitness levels, depending on your goals.

“The biggest benefit to bodyweight training is you can do it anywhere, anytime – and it’s fun,” said Doug Balzarini, a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning coach at Fitness Quest 10 in Scripps Ranch. “Bodyweight training is appealing to people who are generally uncomfortable in the gym and who want to exercise efficiently in the privacy of their own home or at a local park.”

Balzarini, whose facility counts Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees and former San Diego Charger LaDainian Tomlinson as clients, says the beauty of bodyweight training is that you don’t need any of the big, fancy pieces of equipment to get results. As a bodyweight training fan, I’ll tell you from experience that Doug’s statement is right on the money.

Incorporating resistance training exercises into your workout regimen two to three times a week can reap the following benefits, according to the American Council on Exercise:

  1. Increased bone and muscular strength, which decreases your risk of injury, coronary disease and osteoporosis.
  2. Increased muscle mass, which boosts your basal metabolic rate, in turn, increasing the number of calories burned at rest, making it easier to maintain your ideal body weight.
  3. Resistance training makes doing everyday activities, such as picking up a child or groceries, easier and less taxing on the body.

“In life, you need to be able to move your body properly before you get in a machine at the gym,” adds Balzarini. “Bodyweight movements can help prevent injury and imbalances down the road.”

Bodyweight resistance training goes beyond strengthening and toning the body. It also helps us become more adept at performing everyday functional activities.

“If someone wants to become functionally strong, the body doesn’t care what it’s pushing, pulling or lifting,” said Jeff Groh, owner of Authentic Motion, a functional personal training and education company in San Diego. “It’s the intensity, volume, speed, force, and so on that you tweak in order to get the results you’re looking for – whether it’s strength or endurance.”

Groh, a certified health and fitness specialist from the American College of Sports Medicine, uses bodyweight training with clients of all ages to help restore healthy joint function and enhance overall body movements.

Since the human body moves functionally in multiple planes of motion, Groh notes, static weight machines, which tend to work isolated muscle groups, limit your body’s natural motion and your ability to activate all muscles – big and small.

“If you think that weights are necessary for strength and muscle development, take a look at a rock climber and you’ll see all the little defined muscles that are typically neglected when you do isolated training with weight machines,” said Groh.

Naysayers who think the burn of a bodyweight-based exercise pales in comparison to lifting heavy weights may want to think again.

“We get a lot of people who roll their eyes when we say they’re not using equipment; they don’t think they’ll be challenged like they are,” said Balzarini. “Our athletes are using their body in their sports and their training should duplicate it.”

The bodyweight training trend also makes fitness more accessible to the masses by allowing fitness professionals to provide their services outside of health clubs with minimal to no equipment.

However, bodyweight training isn’t for everyone. If a person has certain imbalances, problems with coordination, joint pain or other physical limitations, then using weight machines may be more beneficial for stability.

Cassie Piercey is an SDNN contributing writer and Communications Manager for efi Sports Medicine, creator of Total Gym® and GRAVITY® health club fitness program. She can be reached at cassie.piercey@sdnn.com.

Eight Great Bodyweight Resistance Exercises

Fitness Quest 10 personal trainer Doug Balzarini performing eight bodyweight training exercises designed to target every major muscle group in the body. To increase resistance Balzarini added a stability ball, resistance tubes and a weighted medicine ball, which are fairly inexpensive purchases at a sporting goods store.

The video includes pointers on correct form and modifications to make the following exercises easier or more challenging.

  1. Chin up – Targets upper body, specifically the biceps, lats, pectoral muscles and traps.
  2. Push up – Targets the pectoral muscles, triceps and deltoids as well as the core.
  3. Plank – Targets the core muscles and the back and shoulders.
  4. Squat with medicine ball wood chop – The squat targets the lower body, specifically the quadriceps, hips and butt, and the wood chop hits the core muscles, rhomboids and deltoids.
  5. Torso twist with resistance band – Targets the core muscles, mainly the external and internal obliques.
  6. Stability ball hamstring curl – Like the name implies, this exercise targets the hamstrings as well as the thighs, hips and butt.
  7. Burpees – This is plyometric exercise that combines a push up with a jump at the end to get your heart rate racing.
  8. Modified lunge with shoulder press – The lunge targets the lower body with an overhead press that hits the shoulders, triceps and traps.