A recent shoulder injury led me to a struggle with my training regime. Injury always does pose a challenge to consistency and continuation of your normal physical regime. As a ballet master once said to me, "injury is a chance to learn more about how to use your body, better and more efficiently". SO, after spending a few weeks feeling sorry for myself and letting motivation swing wildly in the wind, I decided to shake everything up and throw a new element into my lax mix of sports preparation.
As a therapist, I can't do what I do 5 days a week without keeping myself in some physical condition. Changing up regimes and types of training is something that I have had the good fortune of enjoying since retiring from performing 5 years ago. It was crystalised by my introduction to CrossFit and the immense challenge of doing things I never thought I could achieve (like a rope climb). I can now 'try' different things with much more abandon without fear of 'playing with the balance' too much that was required as a dance practitioner. I can 'push the envelope' without being too precious.
So in this spirit of 'optimum physical competency' which encourages always adapting and exploring new methods of training, I have taken it on myself to find 4 x workouts for the month and experience how I can change up my 'normal' training. And hopefully shake up my fitness and my injury at the same time. I decided to select workouts prescribed by magazines and general fitness publications to see how we can find motivation and variation by reading the most readily available information. Whilst having a trainer is great for ideas and technique, we all have the power to make the decision to try something 'new'.
Week 1 - Medicine Ball (Colin Gentry - Attitude Magazine UK)
Russian Twists / Squats (overhead) / Sit Ups / Press Ups / Bicep Curls / Deadlift 10 reps x 5 sets Time - 20:22
The first thing that strikes me in this challenge is doing everything with a spherical object. Removing the ability to actually grip something with your hands, means you have to utilise core and stabilisation muscles in the shoulders that leads to a whole new way of working. This is excellent for people who have issues with 'niggly' shoulder injuries that need stabilising or activation of supportive structures. Doing a bicep curl with a 8kg medicine ball means you have to achieve balance and stability through the shoulder structure before you can begin the first motion of a curl. As well as a challenge its actually rather hilarious as you try to balance a ball and touch it to your shoulder without dropping it rather heavily. Even with music blaring, this is embarrassing enough for people to turn around and wonder exactly what it is you are trying to do.
I worked a few adaptions into the regime as some of the exercises i felt could result in poor form. Its always ok to adapt a regime for your own purpose. Stabilty was paramount and nothing that was going to stress my shoulder was paramount. The squats seemed a little 'soft' so I introduced the overhead squat to maximise my shoulder involvement and work the stabilising nature of the upper torso. Instead of doing a press with a medicine ball, I introduced a ball throw from the chest. With my shoulder feeling ok, (after some specific lateral activation and pectoral release in previous weeks) the throwing nature of the exercise was helping to recruit the 'power' of pectoral strength whilst reinforcing scapula stabilisers that will target the ballistic nature of movement needed for my specific sport needs. (volleyball) The deadlift demonstrated by the workout encouraged a forward motion of a medicine ball. I felt this didn't work my back safely and placed too much stress on the hamstrings to stabilise the pelvis, so back to a medicine ball 'swing' (aka Kettle bell swing done with medicine ball). And yes - full Russian style to overhead.
Whilst not being a hugely 'pumping' circuit, the nature of stabilisation made me work my body in a very supportive nature, stabilising through my core and using my shoulders without overtaxing them. The overhead squat was a great one as you are required to hold the ball aloft whilst performing a complete squat. (arse to the floor) It was a well balanced regime with most body parts being worked in the series. I chose to go from 2kg - 10kg balls in each successive set. Everything was ok excepting the bicep curl (which I failed miserably at to hold when I reached 10kg) and the overhead sit up, where you have to suspend the ball over your head as you do a full sit-up. The great element was that I worked cardiovascularly as well as recruiting some shoulder activation.
The best bit was I thoroughly enjoyed myself. That same sense of trying something I had not done before and focussing on achieving it and perfecting it meant that I was stimulated with a new workout. I noticed that I had lost a lot of my ability to perform a full squat with arms perfectly overhead with no bar to stabilise against. Sometimes the simplest movement reveals the most obvious weakness. I may even try this one again but maybe do a few more rounds.
Next week - Worlds Most Efficient Workout?