The perfect program doesn't exist, but we can always work toward putting together the most optimal program for our athlete in their given situation.
I always say that when I look at programs I wrote five years ago, they make me cringe. The amount of growth and knowledge in that time can really change our opinions on certain topics and change our programming as a result.
Over the last few years, we've developed a great programming system at PACE Fitness Academy, and there are some common denominators in our most successful programs. They aren't mandatory by any means; no exercise is. BUT, they do yield great results, safe results and most of all, high adherence levels from our athletes. Below are four exercises probably missing from your programming and why you may want to consider them!
The name "Yoga Push-Up" does probably not sit well with a true Yogi, but this is what us meatheads call them. It's essentially a Push-Up into the Downward Dog yoga position. This is a great exercise for building upper-body strength, but also enhancing mobility of the T-Spine and shoulders in a functional and dynamic way.
I've seen the Yoga Push-Up coached up in several ways, but my preference is that you push from the bottom of the Push-Up immediately into the Downward Dog position. The alternative method here is to complete a full Push-Up and then shift into the Downward Dog, but I don't feel that this execution gives athletes the full benefits of the exercise.
Below is an example of the two options.
In terms of programming, you have a great deal of flexibility here. You can use it as a strength accessory movement and even load it up by elevating the feet. You can incorporate it into a dynamic warm-up for stronger and more advanced athletes. Or you can use it as an active recovery tool or a mobility-based practice for athletes lacking in the T-Spine area.
Bottom line: This is a really great addition to a training program and can be beneficial for all athletes. Plus, it adds a little variety to the standard Push-Up and does so in an effective way that isn't just for likes on Instagram.
The Copenhagen Plank is another hidden gem in our programming that supplies a huge bang for your buck in a low intensity environment. This exercise addresses groin strength and core stability, which are two things that all athletes can benefit from.
Cutting, changing directions and moving laterally all place demands on the adductors and torso (core) regions. If athletes are weak in these areas or just generally unprepared, it can contribute to strains, sprains, tweaks or even worse injuries under the unfortunate circumstances that an athlete finds themself in a position that they can't support.
This exercise addresses strength in those areas, which can help with performance, but more importantly, it can help with day-to-day movement quality. Aches and pains in the knees or lower back can often be alleviated by addressing hip and core strength.
The Copenhagen Plank is simple, but brutal. You can program these for time, breathing reps, load it up and change the lever position to get the perfect amount of stimulation for your athlete.
We began implementing the Archer Row into our programs after getting our Reflexive Performance Reset (RPR) certifications. Long story, short: The "archer" position is a position and motion embedded into our physiology and movement since birth.
Look at any picture of a baby between 3-5 months old and you'll probably see this archer pose. This is how babies roll over from their backs to their stomach, which is a big deal for all you non-parents out there!
Our nervous system loves this position. It makes us feel strong and safe, just how we felt when we discovered that there is more to this new world than lying on our backs for 12 hours a day.
This position, in RPR, can enhance the wake-up drills you do or even reverse some of the corrosive movements that tarnish the effects of the wake-up drills. So, I turned it into an exercise.
If you don't have the RPR concepts down or don't care to, the bottom line is this: This exercise is low neural stress, high muscular stress and extremely vital for healthy shoulders.
Lastly, the Jefferson Squat, something I've written about at length for STACK in the past. We're still going strong with this unique and effective lift.
This is one of those old-school bodybuilding lifts that guys like Kai Greene would use to pump the living hell out of their lower body. It was only recently that we discovered the strength and power results it could deliver in lower rep ranges and at their respective spots on the force-velocity curve.
You can literally program this like you would any Squat or Deadlift. Load it the same. Add bands, add chains, do it for speed, do it for 1RM… this can be your athlete's main lift. And, it's unilateral, so you get the benefit of increasing single-leg output and performance.
Using the Jefferson Squat has been amazing for our hockey, basketball and baseball players especially. It toes the line of "sport-specific" in the weight room, without losing its merit. Definitely give this a try and get creative with your programming.
Photo Credit: SrdjanPav/iStock
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