Bird-Dogs, Verticals, etc.

I'm not gonna lie, I'm experiencing some major writer's block this morning, so it's going to be short and sweet today.

1.  I thought I'd share an exercise I've been using for some active recovery circuits, and as a filler exercise in some of our overhead athlete's programs. It's a sandbag walkup with a pushup position bird-dog at the top.

While this exercise may seem a bit "frou-frou" at first glance, don't knock it till you try it. In fact, most will need to start by lifting the arm only, as adding the alternate leg lift will cause many people to topple over.

Why I like it

  • The hand-walking portion helps to promote scapular stability (via strengthening of the serratus).
  • The alternate arm+leg lift gives you some pretty solid benefits in the trunk stability department, as your entire body will have to resist rotation (in the transverse plane) and hyperextension of the low back (in the sagittal plane).
  • You can perform it nearly anywhere. Whether you're traveling, at home, in the gym, etc. all you need is something (a phone book, aerobics step, etc.) to elevate your hands on.

How to do it

  • Don't fall over.
  • The main thing you need to watch out for is hyperextension (excessive arching) of the low back and you lift up the opposite arm and leg.
  • Hold each reach for a two-count.
  • Perform for 6-10 repetitions.

When it comes to taking an off day, you either have people doing nothing, or you get those that consider 400m repeats and/or long distance running an off day. Both are sub-optimal and will most likely hinder your recovery process.

Toss in this walkup variation along with some mobility drills, crawl variations, bodyweight split squats, KB swings, etc. and you'll have yourself accelerating blood flow to damaged tissue, ungluing sticky joints, charging yourself for the following day's training session, and enjoying the sensation of undoing the musculoskeletal nightmare of sitting at a desk for 8 hours straight.

2. We just re-tested the vertical of Alexis (who plays for one of VA's premiere volleyball teams), after 16-weeks of training with us.


Long story short, her vertical jump improved 9 inches over the last 16-weeks. And yes, we're measuring absolute vertical displacement, not simply how far up she can touch (as she's grown 1/2" over the past four months, which we took into account). A huge congrats to Alexis for all her hard work!

How did we accomplish this? Simple. Lots and lots and lots, and lots, of jumping, "plyometrics," and endless agility drills. The more of these, the better. (Go back those two sentences again again, but with a healthy dose of sarcasm).

The reality is we rarely used more than 15 TOTAL jumps in a given session (and she only trained twice a week).

Increase the horsepower, the brakes, and the accelerator. Therein lies the key. Furthermore, most trainees can benefit tremendously from developing eccentric force absorption and muscle contraction (one example of this would be altitude drops....using the appropriate progressions), which will lay the framework for enhanced concentric strength potential. Then, Voila! We have more reactive and stronger athletes capable of greater force and power output.