Eliana Abittan graduated at the top of her class at FPTI and excelled as an intern at FocusNYC. Read on to see how she’s built upon a solid foundation and continues to excel as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor!
This week, a new class of FPTI students is learning how to use the warm-up component of initial training sessions with potential clients to assess their movement capabilities (more on that HERE), along with some mobility strategies to address what they see.
And while the students (and trainers in general) spend ample practice time conducting dynamic warm-ups with the goals of increasing core and tissue temperature and range of motion, and preparing the neuromuscular system for the workout to come, an often overlooked aspect of warming up is the information it gives us – not only about movement, but also about mental state.
After leaving a steady career in the corporate world, Dave Degenhardt is living a personal trainer’s dream: He now enjoys both the stability of part-time employment and the reward of owning a growing fitness business – and after only several short months in the industry. Read on to find out how he became successful so quickly.
When did you graduate from FPTI?
I graduated in April 2014 from the FPTI Master Course.
What exactly are you doing now in the fitness industry?
I am an NSCA-CPT and owner of Fenomenal Fitness, LLC, where I train clients in Jersey City and Hoboken. I am also a personal trainer at Robert Wood Johnson Rahway Fitness & Wellness in Scotch Plains, NJ.
I ran a version of this post before, but our Advanced Concepts students just finished learning about common lower body injuries so I thought I’d run it again. Among other issues, the topic of strength as pertains to running in order to prevent knee problems came up in their activity. The class did a great job not only planning and coaching a progressive program for a runner, but also articulating the plan so that it made sense to the client (AND her headstrong running coach!).
Here are some of the things we discussed:
First, realize and remember that running is a plyometric activity. Therefore, your joints have the potential to take a beating. As you may or may not know, plyometrics place a lot of load on your connective tissue (cartilage, bone, fascia, tendons, ligaments and the joint capsule), especially if your leg muscles don’t effectively absorb the force of impact. So, the risk of injury is quite high when sufficient levels of strength are not first established, and/or when hip/knee/ankle alignment is off. As the old adage goes, “You can’t run to get in shape; you have to get in shape to run.”
There seems to be a bit of controversy regarding the best way to do this, however. A lot of people think that since you’re doing endurance work when you run, training for muscular endurance (i.e., 2-3 sets of >12 reps with little rest) is the way to go. And for a new trainee, someone with a pre-existing injury, or as part of a periodized program for an endurance athlete, this may be good advice. But your body adapts pretty quickly to low-load training; and if you’re running regularly, chances are you’re probably getting plenty of that already. So why continue to overuse your muscles and joints?
Enhancing muscular endurance really shouldn’t be the main focus of a runner’s program after the first few weeks of training. For most runners, the bigger concern is getting strong enough to avoid injury. You see, your connective tissue adheres to what’s called Wolffe’s Law. Much like a muscle, if you systematically overload connective tissue, it will adapt and grow stronger. But it also has a “physiologic limit.” When you exceed this limit, the structure ruptures.
I feel like at this point I shouldn’t still be talking about the importance of prioritizing neutral spine and core stability over movement in training, but I still see so many examples of the opposite that I guess not everyone is up to speed. For brevity’s sake, I’ll try to simplify the science as much as possible.
First, the sheer structure of our lumbar spine suggests that it’s not meant to move very much. Each of its five vertebrae have only a few degrees of available motion, and between them we have discs that have shown to wear down with excessive movement, especially under load. And there are all those fragile nerves sticking out at every interval!
Additionally, the anatomy of most of our core muscles is unlike that of our prime movers: The fibers aren’t really aligned in a manner that is optimal for large amounts of force production. Rather, they seem better suited to absorb and resist force through isometric action. To no surprise, many of our core muscles also seem to elicit greater EMG activity with isometric exercises than they do with movement-based exercises.
That said, to both prevent spine injuries and optimize performance and appearance, doesn’t it make more sense to train them in the manner for which they seem to be designed? I certainly think so. That may mean simply training the core to keep the spine stable under load through larger lifts like squats and deadlifts that train our bigger, stronger hip extensors to produce movement. Or, for some clients who feel the need to “do abs,” it may mean making smarter exercise selections – and here are two examples:
SMART SWAP #1
Standard Crunches (requiring a flexed lumbar spine)
As our renowned and leading researcher in spinal biomechanics, Dr. Stuart McGill, points out, your pelvis and lumbar spine stay neutral in this exercise due to the position of the legs while the more mobile thoracic spine moves to lift the chest and shoulders. Moreover, the tactile feedback on the hands in the small of the back tells us if we’re moving from places where we shouldn’t be. And for stubborn clients, the exercise still looks and feels very much like a crunch! Continue reading »
As our Advanced Concepts students are simultaneously learning about heavy lifting and the importance of core stability as pertains to both preventing and improving spine injuries, the always controversial topic of the use of weightlifting belts was bound to arise.
Why the controversy?
Well, for starters, weightlifting belts are widely misused by the general population. As one of our students pointed out, some guys use them for every exercise, regardless of the need for additional spinal support.
This week, our FPTI Advanced Concepts students are learning the finer points of movement assessment. Assessing a client’s movement capabilities is one of the most important aspects of a first session. It gives the personal trainer the information he/she needs in order to write a program that addresses mobility and stability, and, most importantly, SAFE exercise selection and loading parameters. It also serves as a catalyst for the personalized programming in future sessions AND the explanation of it, allowing a foundation of trust to form between trainer and client.
Yet, movement assessments are probably the most neglected element of initial personal training sessions.
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