drawings of muscles and exercise apparatus

Friday, December 26, 2008

Strong glutes for the 'horsepower' factor

Kelly Baggett is an Arizona-based "performance consultant" who specialises in "increasing raw explosiveness, acceleration and jumping ability." In an article on his site Higher-Faster-Sports.com titled "The plague of the mediocre athlete; no glutes equals no results," he claims that the main difference between average and good athletes is in "the functionality of the feet, as well as the strength, development, and function of the glute musculature."

Baggett argues that the glutes are mainly responsible for the 'horsepower' factor and does not believe that an athlete can have too much glute strength. He maintains that "due to their natural strength and the leverage advantage they have over your legs, the glutes should always be the primary muscles that drive lower body movement.

Inhibited glutes and overshadowed glutes

In extreme cases the glutes may be inhibited to the extent that they don't contract when walking, standing or even playing sport, but the more common problem for the athlete is having "overshadowed glutes":

Here the glutes DO fire correctly, but are not as strong as other lower body muscles (like the quadriceps), thus the body will use other muscles to do what the glutes SHOULD be doing, resulting in inefficient
performance and often some type of pain or injury over the long haul. Whenever you perform a movement such as a squat, lunge, deadlift, jump, sprint, or any exercise that involves several different muscle groups, the majority of work will tend to be done by the strongest of those muscle groups.

People who don't have superior glute activation patterns and whose glutes are not naturally stronger than their thighs perform exercises in the weightroom that should be strengthening their glutes but typically end up with most of the strengthening occurring in the thigh muscles. Then "when you throw them into an athletic environment the body will naturally use the strongest muscles to control movements, so now their quads and other muscles will want to do what the glutes should be doing." People who tend to easily develop massive quadriceps are usually not very impressive athletically:

A person with overly developed quadriceps and lack of hamstring and glute development will tend to be a heel to toe runner and have trouble gliding, planting, and getting off on the balls of their feet. ... Even if the posterior chain is developed, in someone that has massive quadricep development, they will still struggle with ideal movement patterns because their body will try to do things that favor the stronger muscle groups.

Extensor dominant movement for speed

In another article, "Squats and speed development?" Baggett suggests that blazing speed derives from "extensor dominant movement." He advises:

for speed development you get away from focusing on exercises where you "bend your knees" and focus on exercises where you extend your hips. So, get away from squatting and focus on extending, where the focus is high RPM strength, which I truly believe a person can never have enough of. That means everything on the backside of your body becomes more important.

Hip-joint-specific strength apparatus

MyoQuip's latest release, the MyoHip, provides a biomechanically efficient means of exercising and strengthening the hip extensors - glutes and hamstrings - without activating the knee extensors. In addition it is very effective in strengthening and enhancing the functionality of the hip flexors, which are the antagonists of the hip extensors.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

World champion rower uses the MyoThrusta and MyoTruk for strength training

Dual world champion sculler Bronwen Watson has been making extensive use of the MyoThrusta and MyoTruk machines installed at Sydney University's athletes' gymnasium. Watson who won gold in the Lightweight Women's Quad Scull at the 2007 World Rowing Championships at Munich, Germany repeated the achievement at the 2008 Championships at Linz Ottensheim, Austria.

She had 'retired' from rowing after winning bronze at the 2003 World Championships, then took it up again socially in England in 2005 before coming back to Australia to take up a Head Coaching position as a Sydney girls' school, but "I found sitting in the speed boat a really frustrating way to be on the water so started doing a bit of paddling. Before I knew it I was spending more time in lycra and training 6 days a week!"

Now aged 31, she intends to continue rowing for a few more years:
Rowing is a sport where you are continually trying to find the perfect stroke and the perfect mental approach - which all takes time and a lot of determination. I guess that's part of the reason some of the great rowing athletes have endured for so many years - it's a sport of patience and perseverance. So, even though I have been around for a while and developed a good base, I still think I have a lot to improve on!

Rowing training is particularly gruelling, with long sessions on the water supplemented by hour-long ergometer rows, heavy gym training and bike rides that extend for hours. Lower lumbar injuries are an extremely common problem for elite rowers, making it difficult to continue doing the traditional lower limb multi-joint extensor exercises such as the squat and deadlift. Having access to equipment that creates maximum tension in glutes and quads without appreciable spinal loading is a huge benefit.

During the second half of 2008 Bronwen had commenced a new career, working as Executive Assistant to Sydney Uni Sport & Fitness Executive Director, Rob Smithies, but the move was short-lived when she was given the opportunity to take up a full-time scholarship at the Australian Institute of Sport.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Announcing the MyoHip - the ultimate hip joint strength machine from MyoQuip

At last! A single simple-to-operate apparatus that effectively develops the all-important muscles of the body's great hinge mechanism - the hip joint - in both opening and closing; extending and flexing.

Despite its critical importance for human motion and posture, the hip joint has been basically neglected in terms of specific exercises and apparatus to improve its strength and functioning.

The primary hip extensor, the gluteus maximus, is the largest muscle in the human body. Very coarse in texture, it is heavily endowed with fast-twitch fibres. As a result it plays a central role in sports which involve sprinting and jumping. Conventional methods of strenthening and developing the glutes such as the barbell squat simultaneously activate the knee extensors or quadriceps. As a result optimal development of this vital muscle group is rarely achieved.

The MyoHip is unique as it is an accommodating or variable resistance machine which isolates the glutes and its synergistic muscles. Therefore the exerciser can focus on developing that muscle group. The possible range of movement for the exerciser on the MyoHip is 45° either side of the vertical, meaning that the included angle of the hip joint can extend from 45° to 135°, sufficient to ensure strong muscle activation.

The sequence below shows the apparatus being used in extension mode with the exerciser's back to the roller pads:

With modern sedentary lifestyles and the general aversion to walking anywhere, it is not surprising that many people have tight hip flexors which do not function effectively.

In order to use the MyoHip to develop and strengthen the hip flexors the exerciser simply changes their seating position to face the roller pads. The handgrips can be used if the pressure of the roller pads on the chest is uncomfortable. As in extension mode the exercise range can extend from 45° to 135° included angle of the hip joint.

In both extension and flexion modes the variable resistance mechanism compensates for gravitational attraction on the user's upper body. At the start of either movement the user has to overcome the effect of gravity on their trunk and head, while at the finish gravity makes it easier to push the roller pads. Therefore the machine's resistance is configured to become progressively greater throughout the exercise movement.

The sequence below shows the apparatus being used in flexion mode with the exerciser facing the roller pads:

Strengthening and developing the human body's great hinge, the hip joint

The MyoHip is an important addition to the exerciser's arsenal of strength-building equipment. For too long the muscles of the hip joint have been largely ignored. To some extent this could be because most exercises were originally developed and popularised by body builders whose desired body shape does not include large buttocks. They also have little interest in the hip flexor muscles since they are deep-seated and not visible.

However, for a large range of sports the hip extensors and flexors are vital. These include those sports where sprinting or jumping is involved and also rowing where the trunk swing is a major contributor to the power of the rowing stroke

Even more importantly a large proportion of the population experiences hip joint dysfunction. The MyoHip offers a very convenient and effective way to avoid these problems or to undertake rehabilitation.

Contact MyoQuip for further information or to obtain a quotation on the MyoHip. If you are located outside Australia we can quote in your own currency with alternative shipment options.