Living with Vitality column: The benefits of body weight exercises
August 18, 2014
One of the most effective ways to build full body strength, stability and mobility in an athlete is through body weight exercises. The four-step body weight exercise program outlined below helps maximize every workout while minimizing risk of injury.
Diagnose: When beginning any workout program, it is important to start with a diagnosis. The easiest and quickest way to do this is with a functional movement screen. This set of seven tests reveals any limitations and asymmetries as the athlete performs foundational movements. If there is pain, we refer the athlete to one of our in-house medical professionals. It is imperative that the athlete be pain-free, or know where the pain is coming from, before embarking on their journey.
Train: Now that I know any limitations in the kinetic chain of my athlete, we can begin training. Body weight exercise programs are popular across the country for good reason. A recent article was published in the Denver Post about Bronco's receiver Wes Welker and his utilization of body weight exercises. The article explains that Welker doesn't need to lift heavy weight at his age; his goal is core strength and agility. By using body weight exercises, Welker is able to increase his strength while gaining quickness and resistance to injury.
Body weight exercises have many advantages if executed correctly. I always monitor my clients and make sure that through every body weight movement they make, their posture and body position are correct to avoid injury.
Educate: The most important thing I do as a coach is educate. When doing body weight exercises, I tell clients why and how we do the exercise. This helps them gain awareness of their bodies and reinforces the tailored nature of this workout. With exercise, there are many progressions and regressions. I tell clients why I am progressing them, and more importantly, why I am regressing them. When regressing a client on an exercise, they could lose some self-esteem because they were doing the harder version the week before. By educating my client on why we have regressed (which could be because of muscle soreness or joint stiffness), they feel better about it.
Recover: Perhaps the most important part of your workout program is what you do after training sessions and on off days. Stretching and foam rolling are key. Static stretching is a great recovery activity as it lengthens the muscles while increasing blood flow. Foam rolling loosens the fascia that encases the muscle and allows muscles and joints to return to their natural position. It can be used as a substitute for or a precursor to stretching. At the Vail Vitality Center, I like to recommend my clients use our cold plunge, a tub filled with cold water. The cold plunge flushes toxins and allows the body to recover more quickly. I also believe in the benefits of massage; it's a great way to flush the muscles and allows the body and mind to relax.
It is said that the hardest piece of equipment in a gym is your body, so why not use it? Consider body weight exercises and work with a trainer to ensure you are approaching the program correctly. At the Vail Vitality Center, our four-step programming is designed to deliver a personalized experience that enhances your lifestyle.
Blake Gould is a Vail Vitality Center professional trainer and rehabilitation specialist. He received a degree in sports and exercise science from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, Iowa, with a minor in psychology. For information visit http://www.vailvitalitycenter.com or call 970-476-7960.