How to Sumo Kettlebell Deadlift

By Darrick Truong

Deadlifting is an important skill for almost everyone, not just powerlifters and bodybuilders. The need to pick things up from the ground safely makes this statement true for most people. Deadlifts can also fulfill the “hinge” foundational movement requirement in your training program. But more importantly, deadlifting can make you feel like a bad ass and help you build a strong backside (read: booty)!

Before deadlifting with a barbell, we think that it is important to learn how to minimize unnecessary stress on your joints. That involves learning how to create proper tension in the shoulders, core, and hips and keeping the weight close to your body. Not creating tension in the aforementioned body parts can cause injury or pain, negating the benefit of the deadlift pattern. Also, allowing the weight to get away from your center of mass, common for beginners using a barbell, can cause low back injury by exposing your body to excess forces. Therefore, for beginners or new clients, the first type of deadlift that we introduce is the kettlebell sumo deadlift.

The ability to use one or two kettlebells allows you to use the perfect amount of weight for your current abilities. You can learn to create proper tension without having to go heavier than you can handle. This is key for beginners as going too heavy, even for what looks like the proper form, can cause compensation patterns which can eventually cause injuries. Also, the wide stance nature of the kettlebell sumo deadlift allows the user to keep the weight directly under their center of mass, minimizing any excess stress on the low back area.

How to do it

Stand over the weights with your feet straddling the kettlebell(s). Grab the kettlebells, making sure your hips are hinged back, feet are gripping the floor, and make sure people can see the Superman “S” on your chest. Make sure the knees are pointing in the same direction as your toes. Right before you stand up, create pretension in your shoulders, core, and hips by flexing those areas. Creating pretension is very important as it provides strength and stability to your body before lifting. Throughout the lift, maintain the Superman posture in your chest and shoulders, strong grip on the floor, and hinging your hips. Watch the video of Coach James above a couple of times before trying the lift!

After you have tried the lift, watch the video below of Coach Darrick and make sure you don’t look like him, or you’ll be on the fast track to a foot, knee, hip, or low back injury!

If you’re in the San Diego Area, come try a free class with us! 

Dramatically Improve Your Squat With This Drill

By Darrick Truong

Do you feel like you’re going to fall over when you squat? Or do your hips shoot up first up from the bottom? Here’s what it might look like.

One of the primary causes of these faulty squat patterns is a failure to create or maintain upper back stiffness. Think of your core and the job it does to protect your spine and transfer forces between your lower and upper body. During squats, your upper back and shoulder stabilizers do the same and also contribute to the overall stiffness of your “core.” Losing upper back stiffness causes a leak of energy which is why the barbell and upper body stop moving upward and the hips shoot up, making it very hard to keep your chest up.

For people with this problem, we incorporate the facepull RNT squat drill into their warmup. What this drill does to improve on these faulty patterns is two-fold. First, pulling the band to your chest gets the upper back muscles activated and ready to support the barbell on your back. With a heavy weight on your shoulders, you need the upper back to stiffen up and provide stability to your overall system so that energy doesn’t leak and cause UNWANTED movement. Secondly, as you perform this drill, the band tension pulls your upper body forward, simulating a squat where the hips shoot up or the upper body falls forward. The act of resisting the band (keeping your torso more upright) during this squat drill allows your body and brain to figure out ways to correct itself. Then once you squat without the band, your body will naturally fight to stay more upright.

How to do it

Set up a band about face level or higher on a squat rack. Pull the band apart and towards your chin, mimicking your grip on the barbell when you squat. Holding the activation in your back muscles, squat up and down as best you can, making it look like you’re squatting normally without a band pulling you forward. Start with 2 sets of 10 before your barbell squats. Do more as needed during your squat warmup sets. Good luck and happy squatting!

Use Grass-Fed Ghee for High Temperature Cooking

While healthy, unrefined plant-based oils like olive, avocado and flaxseed oil provide a host of anti-inflammatory and health boosting effects, they may not be the best option for high-temperature cooking, like sauteing and frying. The stability of these polyunsaturated oils when exposed to heat (the temperature at which the oils break down, oxidize, and become toxic to cells) is relatively low compared with a primarily saturated fat, which is much more heat stable. So save your plant oils for things like salad, and switch to ghee from grass-fed cows for high-heat cooking.

The term Ghee comes from the Indian subcontinent and has been used through history not only in South Asian cuisine but also in traditional medicine. The preparation is very similar to clarified butter and has historical origins all over the world. The health benefits are compelling:

  • Source of vitamin K – your body can’t make use of calcium unless vitamin K is available to transport it
  • Source of butyric acid, an anti-carcinogen which has been shown to inhibit tumor growth, as well as boosts immune and healing properties of the intestinal tract
  • Source of Vitamin A for hormone balance
  • Lactose and Casein Free (common indigestible components and allergens in dairy)

You can use it as part of any recipe that calls for cooking oil. Use it for baking, melt it to drizzle over roasted veggies, or spread it on your toast. Enjoy!

 

Instantly Relieve Low Back Pain Just by Breathing

By Anna Checket

To make a pretty long story short, chronic low back pain can have a ton of causes, but poor posture and poor breathing habits (many of us have both) are often at the root. Start addressing your postural habits and practice diaphragmatic breathing daily – and it may surprise you just how simple low back pain relief can be.

The diaphragm (a large muscle located in the trunk that plays a major role in breathing) is related to your “core” musculature, and is directly connected to many of the muscles that support the spine. Because of poor postural habits and stress, we can deviate from the proper rhythm and function of the diaphragm. This leads to imbalances and compensations throughout the system and can result in low back muscles that are tense, overworked, and vulnerable to injury.

To practice proper diaphragmatic breath, lie on your back and put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. On your inhale, aim to make the hand on your belly rise, letting the hand on your chest rise only secondary to your belly. The belly and rib-cage should expand first. To exhale, simply relax entirely and let the breath exit passively. Breath slowly and smoothly. Try the positions shown below. Incorporate ten slow breaths, 3 seconds in/6 seconds out, 2-3 times daily.

client exercise for back pain

Position 1 (above) is best if you are new to this type of breathing. Position 2 (below) can be used as a progression to position 1, if … 1) you breathe into your belly easily 2) your breathing is smooth and not labored

breathing for back pain

If you are actively experiencing a spasm or low-back pain event, a few minutes of diaphragmatic breathing can alleviate symptoms instantly by stimulating circulation around the spine and relieving muscular tension. In addition, diaphragmatic breathing sets the body into a state of de-stress and healing through parasympathetic activation.

This exercise is great as a daily maintenance practice as well, preventing postural imbalance and providing a reset to the system. Use it while taking a break from being seated at your desk or to relax before going to sleep.

 

Ditch the Victim Mentality: Heal Your Gut!

Take Back Your Health Through the Gut Microbiome

BY ANNA CHECKET

It’s time for us to give up this victim mentality when it comes to being healthy – to stop claiming with exasperation and resignation that we don’t understand why we can’t lose weight, why we have digestive issues, sleep problems, anxiety, and other health challenges. It is impossible to ignore the facts that research and experience have put in front of us – that we have power and responsibility over most of the health issues we face. And we control them by choosing what we put into our bodies.

The negative effects of the Standard American Diet can no longer be overlooked by those of us seeking systemic health and balance in the body. In order to have a healthy immune system, properly functioning metabolism, and effective digestion, we simply have to have a healthy gut microbiome. Period. And clean, proper nutrition is the only way it’s going to happen. There are no shortcuts, magic pills, or denial strategies to change it. We need to come to terms with the fact that our bodies are a part of nature, and like the Earth, they need to be nourished and taken care of in order to thrive. If you dump a bunch of toxic waste into the ocean, there will be consequences. The same is true with our bodies. Pour in the sugar, hydrogenated oils, and highly processed carbs, and watch things fall apart.

What we once suspected about “junk” food is becoming crystal clear in the research; many foods in the Standard American Diet have been shown to severely damage gut lining, leading to poor immune health, trouble maintaining healthy weight, depression, fatigue, poor skin health, digestive problems, arthritis and many more. Modern medicine is taking a closer look at the gut than ever before, and finding it to be the main governing factor in overall health and function. The gut microbiome, otherwise known as the ecosystem of trillions of bacteria that live in our digestive tract, thrives on diversity and competition. Like a rainforest, the more diverse your gut microbiome, the healthier you are. Everything that goes into the body affects this balance, and the more toxins, refined sugar, and chemicals we put in, the more this delicate environment is violated.

When we are ready to let go of our entitlement to eat crappy food, and ready to embrace the power of choice over our health, a solution awaits. First, take the harmful, destructive substances out. Think refined sugar (soda, sweets, pastries), alcohol, processed foods, hydrogenated oils, and antibiotics from non-organic meats. Next, add in the healthy foods that will populate a thriving gut. This includes a wide-array of whole, colorful plant foods, healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil and fish oil, and whole grains and legumes. All of these foods, plus meats and animal products (if they are included in your diet) should be chosen organic whenever possible. If you suspect an imbalance in your gut, talk to your doctor about supplementation with probiotics and high-quality vitamins to get your body back to optimal function.

It’s time for us to affirm the power of our evolutionary relationship with the trillions of organisms living inside of us, that have helped us and our ancestors survive in our environment. It’s time to marvel at our intricate and complex digestive systems, which reward us when we provide them with nourishing foods that grow from the Earth. And it’s certainly time to stop pouting or feeling cheated because we “can’t” have a donut in the breakroom or scarf down a plate of cheese fries made in some shady bar-kitchen. Perspective is everything, and our good choices around nutrition certainly don’t deprive us. They empower us to live the most vital, fulfilling lives possible.

 

References

Shreiner, Andrew B., John Y. Kao, and Vincent B. Young. “The Gut Microbiome in Health and in Disease.” Current opinion in gastroenterology 31.1 (2015): 69–75. PMC. Web. 20 Apr. 2018.

Turnbaugh, P. J. et al. The effect of diet on the human gut microbiome: a metagenomic analysis in humanized gnotobiotic mice. Sci. Transl. Med. 1, 6ra14 (2009)

Stretch the Hips for Low Back Pain Relief

By Anna Checket

Low back pain is an elusive condition that can have many causes… but most times it has us clutching, well… our low back. However, the source of pain in this region is not always what it seems, and can be caused by dysfunctions in areas of the body we wouldn’t expect. Namely, in the front. Go figure. Your hip flexors (located deep in the front of the hip, and connecting the abdomen, hip and leg) are responsible for what it sounds like – flexing your hip (think folding at the hip, such as in sitting down into a chair). So it would make sense that prolonged seated positions would make this musculature tight and shortened, since your body adapts to repetitive postures (literally re-modeling tissues to reflect what they are asked to do). Tightness of the hip flexors contributes to an imbalance in the body, and causes a compensation pattern at the low back, causing pain. Read more about the consequences of prolonged sitting here. If you sit for long periods of time and also have low back pain, try this hip stretch daily to restore proper balance in the hips.

hip stretch demonstration

  1. Start with your right knee and the ball of your right foot on the floor. The left leg will be flex at 90 degrees in front.
  2. Place both hands on the floor on the inside on your left foot.
  3. Tension your core musculature and gently “press” your hips forward to stretch your hips (quads and hip flexor on the right and the glutes on the left).
  4. Rock your hips back, keeping your hands/fingers on the floor, for a bonus hamstring stretch.
  5. Oscillate slowly back and forth for 30 seconds on both sides.

Repeat 2-5 times daily.

 

How Concerned Should We Be About Prolonged Sitting Habits? Very.

By Anna Checket

You may have heard by now that prolonged sitting is bad for your health. From phrases like “sitting is the new smoking” to headlines that read “Sitting Can Kill You” – the dangers of sitting are certainly getting some attention. In most people’s real-world, however, it’s impossible to get work done away from a computer… so if you’re experiencing some concern around this topic, read on to get plugged in on the straightforward facts about sedentarism, and how you can adjust your habits to take control of your health.

Why’s it so bad?

-Prolonged sitting has been linked to a long list of health concerns: heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, weight gain, anxiety, depressive mood and even cancer (to name only a few).

-The postural effects adaptively change your body to reflect a seated, slouched-over posture, which means chronic low-back, neck, and shoulder pain. Not to mention increased susceptibility to deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.

-Extended sitting has been linked to higher mortality rates; the longer one sits – the greater their risk of early death becomes.

What can I do?

-Exercise. While more exercise has not been shown to “undo” the effects of sitting (only sitting less can improve that situation), it does contribute to more time spent moving and detracts from sedentary pastimes such as watching tv, which makes matters worse.

-Prioritize postural strength and mobility. Intentionally working to improve your postural patterns can make a stunning difference in not only your appearance, but also in your health. Prolonged sitting adaptively locks people into a rounded over position, bringing the spine out of neutrality, which often causes chronic pain. Humans are simply not designed to sit for 8 hours a day… but the body is an adaptive organism and will reflect the lines of stress imposed upon it. Taking some time daily for soft-tissue work, mobility, and activation drills to address postural adaptations from sitting can help your body stay in alignment. Here’s one of our favorite thoracic spine mobility drills.

-Sit less at work. Aim for 30 minutes or less at a time of sitting, and be prepared with stretches, drills, or a short game plan (even if its a minute-long walk down the hall) to do during scheduled time out of your chair. Check out this hip flexor stretch to address low-back pain. Be diligent to take all of your breaks, and set an alarm if you have to. Once you get into a routine it will become more second-nature.

-Remember that health is maintained on a day-by-day, moment-by-moment basis. It’s a culmination of your habits and commitment over time. It is not achieved all at once or in one dose… and there is no quick fix. The more you embrace your health as a process, the more positive energy you will pour into it, and the more authentic adherence and positive outcomes you will see.

 

Address Poor Posture from Prolonged Sitting: Improve T-Spine Mobility with this Drill

By Anna Checket

Your thoracic spine is an area of your back that pays a heavy price from prolonged sitting. This is the region that gets rounded over when someone tells you to “sit up straight”, or your mid-back. Most of us suffer from a lack of mobility in the t-spine, meaning we have lost our intended range of motion as an adaptation to poor posture. This dysfunction affects the whole system and can cause compensations and pain in the low back, shoulders and neck.  

Luckily, there are some highly effective t-spine mobility drills that, with some time and adherence, can improve your posture and relieve pain as a welcome side-effect!

Add this thoracic spine extension drill into your warm-up or corrective exercise routine or do them daily… and don’t let prolonged sitting rob you of your right to great posture!

 

 

 

  1. Set up in a kneeling position with your knees on the ground and your elbows elevated on a bench, fingers interlaced behind your head.
  2. Slowly and with controlled breathing, sit your hips back toward your heels, maintaining some tension in your core.
  3. Relax your chest toward the ground.
  4. Slowly return to neutral.

Repeat for 2 sets of 8 reps.

 

WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING AT LOCOMOTION ATHLETICS?

By Anna Checket

What is Functional Training?

Functional Training is a training style that aims to help people improve activities of daily life. It is also used to describe training that improves athletic performance at a sport or another function of interest. In addition to the common fitness goals of weight-loss, muscle-gain, or cardiovascular health, Functional Training has a goal of its own: to improve the execution of movement. With an emphasis on foundational human movements – squatting, hinging, pushing, pulling, rotating, carrying, and locomotion, Functional Training is a full-spectrum training approach that prioritizes the balance and integration of the whole body.

What is Functional Strength and Conditioning?

While traditional Strength and Conditioning programs are geared towards helping athletes achieve performance goals, Locomotion Athletics considers each of its members an “everyday athlete”, who’s goals range from athletic performance to simply feeling great moving around daily. We’re passionate about helping people become great movers and taking them to new heights, creating mastery over foundational human movements to help them improve at whatever they want to do. Weight-loss, strength, and cardiovascular fitness goals also get crushed as a result! We use a unique blend of body-weight training, TRX and resistance band training, medicine balls, dumbbells and kettlebells to teach foundations. With full comprehension and capacity for masterful movement, members have the option for more advanced barbell and kettlebell work.

Want to try our version of Functional Training?

Click here for a complimentary Functional Strength and Conditioning Class!

Time-Restricted Eating

Happy Monday Challengers:) All of your hard work and meal prepping last week was truly impressive! It’s awesome to see you guys so committed to your own health and wellness. This week, if you’re looking to ramp up your commitment even further, read on about an easy, healthy eating practice that can help you ACCELERATE results.
If you’ve read up on fasting or TIME-RESTRICTED EATING, you are on to some fascinating research which shows that WHEN you eat might be more important than WHAT you eat. A new body of research by the Salk Institute of California shows that if all daily food is eaten within a 9-10 hour window (say, between 8am & 5pm for example) there is a dramatic impact on body weight and composition. Subjects were able to shed a significant amount of body fat and retain more muscle just by fasting for 15-16 hours nightly… WITHOUT ALTERING THEIR DAILY CALORIC INTAKE. Read that sentence again! That is really big news for people seeking weight-loss and body composition change. Many of us can relate to the struggle of restricting calories. This might be an excellent supplement to your healthy diet to truly effect positive change, without the rigidity and psychological stress that caloric restriction can cause. Not to mention, this practice has a heap of other health benefits, from resolving migraine symptoms and relieving arthritis, to improving Alzheimer’s symptoms and shrinking tumors. Oh, and preventing cell aging… so you literally stay younger. You know, just added perks.

Message me if you want to chat about how to implement this awesome health choice into your routine!

The best part is, this is not a product you buy, or a person you pay to improve yourself. This is one of those good old-fashioned opportunities to embrace your own power and choice about YOUR HEALTH AND HAPPINESS. Doesn’t get much easier than that.

– Anna