Whether you’ve just started exercising for the first time or you’re returning after a long period of inactivity, developing a strong foundation of movement quality and technique is crucial. And for that, no tool is better than your own body weight.
“Body-weight workouts emphasize the fundamental movement patterns you need in order to maintain pain-free, optimal posture and strength within your body,” says Anthony Slater, CSCS, director of performance at Core Performance in Los Angeles.
Body-weight workouts can help you prepare for a variety of demands, points out Krista Scott-Dixon, PhD, who runs the women’s weight-training Web site Stumptuous.com. “Both life and sport are unpredictable,” she says. “They happen in three dimensions, and they involve complex, multijoint movements. Learning to handle your own body weight as it moves through space doing complex motions ensures that you can move as efficiently, confidently and responsively as possible.”
Starting with body-weight workouts helps prevent injuries by developing stability and muscle coordination, as well as strengthening weaker areas before adding incremental weight. Try this introductory circuit workout designed by Scott-Dixon. It will rev your metabolism and build the kind of strength and confidence that very few gym rookies possess.
I first met Neil Rampe when I was looking for someone to help me work through some nagging injuries. My chiropractor told me to refrain from some really basic movements for the rest of my life, and had provided me with a handy booklet of exercises I could do a million reps of quite easily. I felt these weren’t really helping me get stronger and work through some muscular imbalances.
At the time, Rampe was a strength and conditioning coach working for the University of Arizona basketball team. I was searching for a midway point between what my chiropractor told me (which was way too easy) and the seemingly easy core-strengthening exercises that left me in agonizing pain. I thought Neil Rampe really helped bridge the gap. Apparently the Diamondbacks thought so too, because they stole him from us. So here’s a bit about Neil Rampe and what he’s about.
Q: So you used to be the strength & conditioning coach for the U of A basketball team and now you work for the Diamondbacks… what exactly do you do?
Esther Gokhale has been called the Michael Pollan of posture, but perhaps a comparison to nutrition pioneer Weston Price would be more accurate. Weston Price was a dentist who conducted ethnographic nutritional studies across diverse cultures, synthesizing dietary principles held in common by cultures that were not ailed by modern diseases. Gokhale looked to native people, ancient Greeks and young children to synthesize what kinesthetic principles led to their ease of movement and back health.
Gokhale, a Harvard and Princeton-trained biochemist (as well as an acupuncturist), suffered from back pain in her 20s. She was awake every two hours, walking around her neighborhood in a vain attempt to relieve the agonizing pain she was in due to an L5/S1 disc herniation. Because she was nursing, pain medications were not an option. Although Gokhale had back surgery for the herniated disc, her sciatic pain returned a couple of years later and the doctors recommended a second surgery. Gokhale, instead, studied at the Aplomb Institute in Paris, took anatomy and anthropology courses at Stanford, and travelled all around the world; observing, interviewing, photographing and filming people in countries where back pain is virtually unknown. Gokhale also looked to babies, ancient statues and
photographs from the past to better understand the blueprint of our skeletal structure, the laws of nature that are being ignored and leading to back pain.
You’re trucking along in your training, making steady progress. You’re finally getting close to where you want to be. Then, all of a sudden, life throws you a curve ball. A niggling pain you’ve been ignoring becomes unbearable, or you suffer from an injury you just can’t ignore.
It’s not like it’s unexpected. Injuries are part of the game. But somehow it is more devastating when it’s your injury, standing in the way of your progress and goals. But not all is lost. Use the following ten tips from athletes who’ve been there and done that to help you get back on track.
Pep talks and positive adages aside, losing sucks. There’s no two ways about it. When all eyes are on you and you don’t shine in that shining moment, aphorisms about “how you play the game” don’t cut it.
Losing’s also a part of competition and life. So how do you take as much as you can from an otherwise difficult situation and use it to become a better athlete or even a better person? And how do you help a friend, teammate or someone you’re coaching bounce back?
After many losses of my own this year, and watching many people I care about go through the same experience, I was stumped on that one, so I consulted the professionals.