Nov 28

Stretching and Warm up

There seems to be a lot of confusion about how and when stretching should be used as part of the warm up, and some people are under the impression that stretching should be avoided altogether.

This is a very important issue and needs to be clarified immediately. The rest of this article is dedicated to dispelling some common myths and misconceptions about stretching and its’ role as part of the warm up.

The Greatest Misconception

Confusion about what stretching accomplishes, as part of the warm up, is causing many to abandon stretching altogether. The key to understanding the role stretching plays can be found in the previous sentence. But, you have to read it carefully.

Stretching, as part of the warm up! Here’s the key: Stretching is a critical part of the warm up, but stretching is NOT the warm up.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches constitutes a warm up. An effective warm up has a number of very important key elements, which work together to minimize the likelihood of sports injury and prepare the individual for physical activity.

Identifying the components of an effective and safe warm up, and executing them in the correct order is critical. Remember, stretching is only one part of an effective warm up and its’ place in the warm up routine is specific and dependent on the other components.

The four key elements that should be included to ensure an effective and complete warm up are:

The general warm up

This phase of the warm up consists of 5 to 15 minutes of light physical activity. The aim here is to elevate the heart rate and respiratory rate, increase blood flow and increase muscle temperature.

Static stretching

Next, 5 to 15 minutes of gentle static stretching should be used to gradually lengthen all the major muscle groups and associated tendons of the body.

The sports specific warm up

During this phase of the warm up, 10 to 15 minutes of sport specific drills and exercises should be used to prepare the athlete for the specific demands of their chosen sport.

Dynamic stretching

Dynamic stretching involves a controlled, soft bounce or swinging motion to force a particular body part past its usual range of movement. The force of the bounce or swing is gradually increased but should never become radical or uncontrolled.

Please note; dynamic stretching carries with it a high risk of injury if used incorrectly. Dynamic stretching is more for muscular conditioning than flexibility and is really only suited for professional, well trained, highly conditioned athletes. Dynamic stretching should only be used after a high level of general flexibility has been established.

All four parts are equally important and any one part should not be neglected or thought of as not necessary. All four elements work together to bring the body and mind to a physical peak, ensuring the athlete is prepared for the activity to come.

So what conclusions can we make?

Stretching is beneficial, when used correctly. However, as with most activities there are rules and guidelines to ensure that they are safe, and stretching is no exception. Stretching can be extremely dangerous and harmful if used incorrectly.

Remember, stretching is just one very important component that assists to reduce the risk of injury and improve athletic performance. The best results are achieved when stretching is used in combination with other injury reduction techniques and conditioning exercises.

Nov 21

Basic Body Type in Muscle Building

Basic Body Type in Muscle BuildingIs it possible to gain 80 pounds of shredded muscle without Steroids? Yes, but very difficult. A realistic goal for packing on muscle would be 7lbs/year….yes, 7lbs/year-without steroids. So if you weight 190lbs for example and you are around the same height, it could take you up to 7-8 years to get in that kind of shape.

However if you are shorter, say around 5’8″-5’10” you can actually “look” just as big with less muscle gains. A guy who’s 5’9″ 215lbs looks every bit as big as a guy who’s 6’2″ 240 in terms of muscle bulk. So the taller you are the more time it is going to take.

The good thing is when you do it without steroids the muscle you gain is really your, so you keep most of it when and if you stop lifting. Another cool thing is you will get a lot stronger and harder before you really start growing. So you will FEEL great before you actually LOOK great.

One other factor, it also depends on a person’s body type. There are 3 basic ones:

Endomorph: naturally bulky frame, usually with a lot of both body fat and muscle. These guys usually can put on both muscle AND fat at a rate that is faster than 7lbs/year.

Ectomorph: naturally thin low body fat. Without steroids, to put on 7lbs of muscle in a year is really good. On a positive note, because hard gainers usually will have naturally low body fat, any shred of muscle they gain will show. So ectomorphs can “look” as though they weight a lot more.

Finally, Mesomorphs: These guys are the gifted one when it comes to gaining muscle. Usually they are naturally muscular with low body fat. If you are an endomorph or have some endo in your genetic pool, you can definitely pack on more than 7lbs of muscle per year….as long as you are keeping up on your nutrition which is another story.

Note: It is rare that a person is 100% of any of these body types. There is usually a mix with one type being dominate

Nov 14

Snowboard Stomp Pad

Snowboard Stomp PadIf you’ve ever thought about trying snowboarding, chances are you have heard of a snowboard stomp pad. But how much to do you actually know about the pad and why it is an essential part of the equipment? Here are a few basic facts about a stomp pad and how it is used.

When getting off a chairlift and onto a snowboard, only one foot is actually in the binding. Your other foot has to rest on the snowboard itself until you can come to a complete stop and strap it into the binding.

Sometimes you will need to make a turn as you leave the chairlift. This is where the stomp pad comes into play. The pad helps prevent your free foot from sliding all along the surface of the snowboard while you are making the turn.

Utilized to help you get traction on the surface of your snowboard, the stomp pad is adhered to the board with an adhesive. The topside of the pad will also be somewhat sticky, allowing your free foot a place to step and not slip around. Ideally, the pad will be placed toward the rear binding so that you can step directly onto the pad and ease your foot into the proper position to bind it to the board.

In addition to helping you dismount gracefully from a chairlift without ending up on the ground, the stomp pad also is useful for helping to remove any accumulation of snow that may have built up on your snowboard boots. By using the pad to scrape any snow or ice fragments before you strap in the foot, you make sure there is nothing that will interfere with your ability to control the direction of the board.

Typically, snowboards come with a stomp pad. If your board does not have one, it is a good idea to purchase one and adhere it to the board yourself. As the pads do need to be changed from time to time, the pads are relatively inexpensive and easy to replace, so go ahead and purchase several.

When affixing the stomp pad to your snowboard, make sure to not simply stick it in place and consider it done. Press down on the pad for a few seconds, making sure the pad does adhere to the board with no wrinkles or puffs in the pad. Do not remove the paper protector from the top of the pad until you are sure the bottom is firmly holding to your board.

It is a good idea to make a few trial runs with using the stomp pad before you get on a chairlift. Make sure you have a good feel for where your foot should be and get used to the way the pad provides the traction for your boot.

Ideally, you should be so comfortable with this process that you do not have to watch what you are doing. Those extra seconds it takes to eyeball maneuvering your foot into place and securing the bindings can cost you valuable time during a competition.

Snowboarding is a great sport and one that can provide a lot of enjoyment. If you really want to get the most out of the experience, make sure you know how to install and use a snowboard stomp pad.

Nov 07

Basic Snowboard Tricks for the Beginner

The Indy GrabAs snowboarding continues to become a popular pastime for more and more young people, it is only natural that a few basic moves (or tricks) have become common among snowboard enthusiasts. After developing your basic skills, the beginner may want to master a few of these tricks.

Fortunately, a snowboard trick does not have to be all that complicated and can usually be mastered in a very short time. Here are simple instructions relating to four snowboard tricks that will help you perfect your form and increase your enjoyment of the snowboarding experience.

One of the foundational tricks you will want to master is referred to as the jump. Essentially, you are learning how to jump with your snowboard. To practice this, start out on a flat section of terrain.

Strap your feet onto the board, then bend at the knees and prepare to jump. The idea is to bring the board off the ground and safely land again, without wobbling or losing your balance. Don’t shoot for more than just clearing the ground while on the flatland.

Once you feel comfortable with being able to jump enough to lift the board from the ground, then you can progress on to jumping a foot or two into the air. For this exercise, find an area with a slight incline, such as a hill.

While the flat area was fine for your initial practice, trying to make a jump of a foot or more will be hard on both you and the board. As you prepare for the jump, crouch slightly. Enter the jump by repeating the process you mastered on the flat land.

Try to land flat on the incline, with your weight centered on the flat of the board, not on the edges. It may take several tries to accomplish your jump, but soon you will feel like an old pro.

The Indy Grab is another basic trick that will serve you well. This trick will involve using your hands while your feet are strapped to the snowboard. Using the opposite hand of the foot you have strapped to the front section of the board, grab the toe area between the bindings and turn the board to the left or right.

The idea is to maintain your momentum and your balance while changing the direction you are headed. As with the jump, start out on flat land while you master this trick then move on to other types of terrain.

Another popular trick for the beginner to master is the Backside 180. Your expertise in jumping comes into play with this trick. To start out, again employ a level surface, but with a small bump in the terrain.

Just as you approach the bump, enter a jump. Bend your knees up to your chest while in the jump, grabbing the toe area in a similar fashion as you do with the Indy Grab. Move the board to the left or the right while still in your jump.

Immediately let go of your grab and straighten out your legs for the landing. As with any kind of a jump, you want to land flat. If executed properly, you will not lose momentum and will continue to move forward in a different direction than when you entered the jump.

One last basic trick has the colorful name of a Roast Beef. For this trick, you will be aiming at a roller. As you prepare for the jump, spring up as hard as you can, pulling your legs up toward your chest.

Grab the back of your board with the hand that corresponds to the foot you have in the heel position of the board, and lift your opposite arm into the air. Release your hold on the backside of the board and return to a slightly crouching position for your landing.

If performed correctly, you will clear the roller and continue your speed at the same level as when you entered your jump.

As is true with learning any new technique, have someone on hand who has mastered these tricks. This may be a friend, or an instructor of a snowboarding class. Not only is this an essential safety measure, but this also allows another pair of eyes to observe your form and offer suggestions on what you need to do in order to improve your performance during the learning process.

Snowboarding is a lot of fun, and learning new tricks only increases your enjoyment of the sport. Once you have mastered these few basic tricks, you will be ready to move on to more complicated techniques.