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exercise

Lack of Internal Hip Rotation Relates to Low Back & Hip Pain

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Improving internal hip rotation is important for a variety of reasons including:

  • It allows us to go into a deep squat position safely

  • Key contributor to knee and low back pain

  • Poor movement for rotation sport athletes like baseball or even golf

  • For runners, it doesn’t allow the athlete to extend the hip to engage the glute.

Hip IR should be tested in two positions, because different structures can limit your range of motion depending on whether the hip is extended or flexed. The second test is actually a mobilization for improving hip IR if and when progressed properly.

Testing Seated Internal Hip Rotation

Sit at the end of a table, with your knees bent over the side, and hold onto the table itself.

Now internally rotate the hip, without abducting or side bending, which is a sign of compensating with the lower back.

Generally speaking 35 degrees is good in the general fitness population and 40-45 degrees in competitive athletes.

A quick check to see if you may simply have a "lazy" side if one leg has better hip IR than the other. Perform a side plank on the side that's lagging and reassess. It should improve if it's simply an activation problem, otherwise it helps to narrow down the problem to a structural/muscular or alignment (though not very common) problem. 

Mobilizations to Improve Hip IR

Kneeling Glute MOB

  • Set up on all fours with hands under the shoulders and knees under the hips.

  • Maintain a slight arch in the lower back and place your right foot on the back of your left knee.

  • With your back set sit back into your right hip and hold for a 1-2 count before moving back. Perform 5-10 reps on both sides.

Lying Knee Pull Ins

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Exaggerate the width between your feet.

  • Think about trying to internally rotate your femurs which as a result have your knees touch together while keeping your feet on the floor. Hold for a two count and return to the starting position. The stretch should be felt in the hips and not the knees.

  • Perform 8-12 reps before working out.

  • Good for those with muscular restrictions.

Prone Windshield Wipers (TEST #2)

  • Lie on your stomach with your knees together and feet up in the air.

  • Keeping the knees together, let the feet fall out to the sides.

  • Hold for a two count and return to the starting position.

  • Perform 8-12 reps prior to workout.

  • This is great in particular for those with a capsular restriction.

Passive Internal Rotation Stretch

This goodie comes courtesy of Dean Somerset. This is more of an advanced stretch and would be sure to be able to knock out all the above aforementioned ones before using this one to help maintain proper hip IR.

  • Sit at the end of a table or elevated step and lift one leg back into internal rotation as shown.

  • Progressively work your work close to the table, and hold for 30 seconds.

  • Repeat on the other leg.

I hope that this post will help steer you in the right direction to improve your lifts in the gym and your times on the trail.

If you should have any specific questions please shoot me a message and I'll be happy to try and help out. If any of this information was insightful, helpful or funny please share it with a friend!

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I'm All In: What Poker Taught Me About Life and Business

The photo above was taken in 2010 I believe while I was playing in the World Poker Tour LA Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino. 

I used to take playing poker very seriously. I spent countless hours playing out hands in my head, reading forums and books to go along with thousands of hours spent playing online (before it was deemed illegal). My best stretch was when I was 22 and cleared a shade under $10,000 in 4 months during a summer. I was pretty good but I really disliked the unhealthy lifestyle that came with playing for 8-12 hours daily to make a living.

Poker is a zero sum game. This means that in order for there to be a winner, there has to be a loser. And at times the best play was to target those who would exhibit signs of addiction as those people aren't playing a sound game, mathamatically speaking, This is not something I feel particularly proud of but that's the game. 

And while I no longer play to pay my bills there were a lot of lessons I picked up playing cards.  Many lessons that translates over to life and business. Here are a few of them.

Expected Value (EV)

In probability theory the expected value of a random variable is the sum of the probability of each possible outcome of the experiment multiplied by the outcome value (or payoff). 

Simply stated EV (in poker) is the amount of money you can win or lose on your average bet. It's often explained by flipping a coin, which is an example of neutral EV. What are the odds it will be heads or tails? Over a small sample size it's 70% tails, extrapolated over 1,000 or 10,000 flips, it will be closer to 50/50. 

No one, not even the best players win every tournament, let alone every single hand they play. Whether you play well or poorly, you'll win some and lose some. Good players are profitable over the long haul because they maximize their spots when they're winning and minimizing losses when cards aren't running their way. They focus on making good decisions regardless of the outcome.

This rings true in business. If you continue to put yourself in the best position by playing the positive percentage plays, more often than not you'll be a winner. 

Which leads me to the next point. 

You can do all the right things and still lose

This one drove me insane. How can I be an overwhelming 95% favorite and STILL LOSE!!!

Because like in life, you aren't in control of everything so anything can happen. Yes you should've won, you should've gotten that business because you're better than your competition, but a'las they've decided to go with Joe-Trainer instead. That's completely out of your control and you need to accept the cards of life as they fall even if they're not in your favor. Move on to the next play.

Always Moving Forward

Piggybacking off the last point, even if you don't get the business, you can't dwell on it for long. Continually beating yourself up for mistakes isn't going to help you change for the better. It's only a complete failure if you fail to learn from your mistakes.

There were so many times I made the wrong move at the table which cost me tournament wins and money! I was angry/sad for a bit but ultimately I would reflect on what I could've done differently. There's no point in being upset with something that's now in the past.

Learn from the past, be in the NOW, and always be preparing for the future

Bankroll Management

If I bring in $1,000 and spend $900 of it on going out. I'm not left with much else for anything else. Let alone any unanticipated expenses. 

Knowing how to budget your money is an invaluable skip to learn. You need to stay within your means because you never quite know what might happen. In the case of Poker it might be a few dry months where your cards couldn't hit the side of a barn; in life it could be a car accident or broken appliance you clearly weren't expecting.

It goes without saying again: Always be saving and stay within your means so you can weather the bad times. If you take one too many risks, you might play yourself right out of the game. 

Know Your Numbers

What are the odds of flopping a third Ace when you have two of them in Texas hold em?
Odds of flopping a straight?
How about completing a flush on the river if I only need one last card?

I know these numbers off the top of my head like the back of my hand. I'm not rain man, I just memorized them. But knowing your numbers is just as important in business. 

What's your conversion rate for free consultiations to paid clients?
Run any marketing campaigns? What's your CAC (customer acquisition costs)?
What are your food costs? 

You don't need to know these things at an accountant level, but you should know what's going on behind the scenes. Knowing the lingo helps you communicate with experts and understand what's going on in your business. 

In case you were wondering:
Flopping 3 of a kind 8.5:1 or 10.5%
Flopping a straight about 1%
Completing a flush on the river, assuming you have all 9 remaining cards of that suit, is roughly 18%. 

Understanding basic human psychology

Most people have watched high level poker on ESPN and imagine that pros can detect any facial tick or lean which gives them an edge. While this is sort of true, what great players pick up on are patterns. I would often pay close attention to deviations in patterns:

How did they play after losing a hand?
Does that change if it was "unlucky" versus playing poorly? Do they even think that was a poor play?
Are they more talkative when they're nervous? Do they always take a sip of water when making a borderline decision?

It comes down to understanding how people normally act and if or when there's a change, deciphering what it means. When dealing with clients who are resistant to change, knowing how to pick up on non-verbal cues has been an invaluable skill to have cultivated.

Implied Odds

This is calculating the odds of completing your hand and the future bets you would collect if you do. You need to take stock of the percentage chance you have to complete you hand versus the amount of money already sitting in middle of the table. 

Simply stated: Calculating risks is a little more cut and dry in poker since it's all math. But the same basic principles apply where you need to take stock of what an investment of time or money will cost you, and whether or not it's going to be worth doing. If you make decision"x" what will be your return on investment? And how long will it take for you to break even?

Poker is a game that's easy to learn but hard to master. There are only a few of the lessons I've picked up from this game. I believe poker is a fantastic training camp for those looking to cultivate skill necessary for business and critical thinking. 

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The Best Workout For Your Butt

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What I want to lay out for you is the framework for a program you can alter accordingly based on how you're feeling and what you see staring back at you in the mirror. 

I'll outline a few guidelines and you can increase weight, reps and exercises as you see fit along with the rationale for why.

Progressive Overload

This is the concept that you're continually be trying to get your body to adapt to the stresses you're placing on it. It's a key component to both growing a muscle and decreasing body fat to improve muscle tone.

When discussing progressive overload, it's about building strength. You want to build strength because:

  • Stronger muscles are generally larger muscles
  • Strength gets rid of nagging pains (I.E: Nagging low back pain)
  • The stronger you are the heavier your rep work will be (more on that in a moment)

Getting Your Reps In

After the main strength component will be more targeted repetition work. Think of this as supplemental work to the squats, deadlifts, and thrusts you'll be doing. Often this includes things like lunges, step ups, and squat-deadlift variants. Even here we still want to be moving the weights in an upward trajectory albeit not as aggressively. 

Targeted Glute Work

You'll be performing some sort of glute work EVERY SESSION. This is a concept borrowed from High Frequency Training. Short band exercises will be included every time. Skip the abductor/adductor machine, band work is a superior option since it will maintain structural balance of the joints and muscles.

Program Overview

Day 1: Main Strength Day + Rep Work

Strength will be a Squat, Deadlift or Hip Thrust in a progressive manner. The numbers listed below simply mean a percentage of your one reputation max. You would test then plan your month accordingly. Your warm up sets DON'T COUNT towards the 5 work sets.

For example lets say your 1RM is 200lbs.
You warm up: Barbell-5x, 55lbs-5x, 80lbs-5x, 100 lbs-5x, 125lbs- 5x. NOW you perform 5 sets of 8 at 70% which would be 140lbs.  

  • WK 1: 5x8 @70%
  • WK 2: 5x5 @75%
  • WK 3: 5x3 @80%
  • WK 4: 5x2 @85%

Rep work (5 sets of 8-12 reps) can entail:

If you Squatted: Reverse lunges, step ups, front squats
If you Deadlifted: KB Swings, cable pull throughs, Romanian deadlifts

Afterwards you would perform a superset (back to back) of core and a side lying clamshell (3-5 sets of 15-20 reps). 

Day 2: Main Thrust Day

Today you'll be performing a lot of prone hip extension movements. If you're someone who's happy with the size and shape of their legs I would opt for the glute bridge over a hip thrust.

I would treat it similarly as the squat and deadlift strength days where I'm progressing clients through the rep ranges while simultaneously increasing the weight on the barbell. The one difference would be the final set or two. 

EX: 5x10 Hip thrust @70% of best thrust. 
185lbs- 5 sets of 10 repetitions. 

On the final 2 sets of 185 lbs I would perform a hard long isometric hold at the top squeezing the glutes as hard and as tightly as possible.

Now where the real magic happens: perform 2 more sets decreasing the weight about 30-50% for no less than 20 repetitions. Even better if performed as a continuous hip thrust.

Supplemental Work: I would include MORE thrusts or bridge variations like single leg and stability ball leg curl+bridges along with a seated band abduction for no less than 20 repetitions.

Day 3: Unilateral Day

This day would include split squats, Bulgarian lunges and reverse lunges. These days will often be a variation of 5-8 sets of 8-12 repetitions each side.

I would then include a superset of side lying clamshells with frog pumps (4 sets of 20) and core work. 

Day 4: Power

This day you can pair however you like:
Squats + Vertical Jumps
Deadlifts + Broad Jumps
Thrusts + Swings

I'd keep the weights more conservative on this day, your goal is to get a good pop from the weights and train explosiveness. 

Afterwards I would include more band work: Seated band abduction into bodyweight weight hip thrusts off the seat (5 sets of 20) and core. 

Notes:

  • You should perform some sort of upper body pulling every day, examples include: Rows, pulldowns, inverted rows, and chin/pull ups. 
  • 2 days of upper body pressing, examples include: Push ups, dumbbell bench presses, dips, landmine press variations, dumbbell overhead press
  • Core work should include: rollout variations, paloff presses, side planks, planks, and offset loaded carries like a one arm farmers walk. 

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How to be a Healthy Runner

The key component to more efficient running and avoiding most injuries is improving on landing softly. Not exactly groundbreaking advice but how does one go about learning to absorb contact more effectively?

First thing to address is technique. Landing hard on your heel is often due to over-striding instead of landing with the foot underneath your hip. Butt-kicks mimic where your foot shot be landing, when you're warming up perform a few meters of butt-kicks before resuming your regular stride.

Second would be posture. You want to maintain a slight forward lean which will in turn aide in your ability to use gravity to land more mid-foot. I always think hips high and run tall. I would be remiss if I didn't mention not everyone likes to run with a forefoot landing, preferring a heel landing, which still doesn't change the focus of today's topic of "landing softly". Many elite long distance runners are heel to toe type runners, so you have to find what sort of stride works bests for you. 

Often heard advice on running faster is increasing cadence, or stride frequency, but if you're plodding along loudly like a hungry dog the only thing that's going to increase are hip, knee and ankle issues. 

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The final thing I would address is strength training protocol. Are you performing any type of jump training? It's important to focus on absorbing contact just as much as it is in learning how to produce more of it.

Here is a Depth Jump progression that can help you start running 

Depth Drop

  • Teaches you how to land properly and absorb the impact.
  • The mechanics are similar to squatting, I would not have a client perform any type of plyometric work until they can properly demonstrate a basic understanding of the squat. 

Depth Jump

  • Like the depth drop, upon landing immediately dip back down and explode up. 
  • Focus on landing softly.

Single Leg Depth Jump

  • Stepping off a 12 inch box, landing softly with both feet. 
  • Using only one leg, dip down and jump straight up. Land softly and repeat. This time by jumping off the other foot upon landing. 

Depth Broad Jump

  • Step off a 12 inch box, landing softly and immediately performing a broad jump.
  • Focus on using the hips, full extending, and once again land softly.

Ice Skater & Bounding

  • Ice skater focuses on lateral absorption and power development. 
  • Motion needs to occur from the hips, land softly. As competency increases, so can speed of the movement. 
  • Bounding is a forward motion, great for working on timing, footwork, and linear power development. 

Give these a try and see how it might improve your ability to run faster, run longer and stay injury free. 

 

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Exercise Breakdown: Plank to Side Plank Rotations

I got this variation from the LA Lakers S&C coach Tim DiFrancesco

I believe most people would benefit from performing more side plank variations as it will increase lateral stabilization and often times fix most internal hip rotation restrictions. 

A side plank targets muscles like the Quadratus Lumborum, Lats, Obliques, and the Rectus Adomonis. The best part of this movement is that as you rotate in and out of the plank variations you'll have to get tight throughout the body and resist both extension and lateral rotation forces on the body. 


How To:

  • Begin in a prone plank position with your arms at 90 degrees, one in front of the other. 
  • Brace into a plank position, deep exhale as to set the ribcage in the proper position and to achieve a strong core brace.
  • Rotate onto one side while simultaneously rotating the feet to help facilitate a proper side plank position. Careful to not lose proper "shoulder stacking", meaning you should not feel ALOT of pressure in the front of your shoulder while doing this. 
  • Rotate back to the prone plank and then repeat on the other side. 
  • Perform 8-12 passes total near the end of a workout. 

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