WOD for Tuesday, 9.25.12 brought to you by Gaspari Nutrition

~By James Villepique CSCS & Hobie Call

This WOD is power packed, ready for fired-up bodies, and geared towards giving you a training edge over other competitors that stay a little too traditional. Overcoming obstacles, yet training within boundaries seems a little contradictory, no?

The same thing goes for competition. This workout was originally designed for athletes whose muscles, joints, and tendons had grown weary of endless repetitive traditional strength exercises. They needed something that increased performance, but also strengthened these areas, especially joints. Wherever we are in life, especially on the course, we need our joints to be strong, and dependable. This means special attention must be given to all the smaller muscles around the joint capsules.

This series of workouts are laid out to be done, not as a revolving circuit, although that’s easily doable, but as a complete full-body joint enhancing from one complete series of sets, to the next.  Rest in between exercises should be minimized of course, but overall this WOD is about strengthening the skeletal structure by strengthening small muscle groups that are designed to protect joints.

Let’s Rock these out…

- Because of the dynamics involved in this WOD, it’s a good idea to get warmed up first, especially with stretching. An incredible amount of joint injuries are the result of tight muscles which then cause the strength/length bonds of muscles between joint to be irregular.

1) Hero Planks: All too often people get in the habit of only doing stationary planks, which is fine, but there’s so much more than can be done with these exercises to enhance them and make them produce more intense results.

As everyone knows, the most important muscle group of all when on the course, other than our thinking muscles, is the core. This is because most human movement originates from it!

Instead of doing them the traditional way, grab a set of dumbbells and let’s get creative shall we. The first option is to do pushups periodically during the planks and add a dumbbell row or shoulder raise. True Hero Planks are where you start facing the ground in default plank position, then with a dumbbell in your hand and arm straight, twist the body and turn it into an oblique plank with your arm outstretched and suspending the weight; return to default.

This movement brings the exercise into the Transverse plane of motion, and asks the body and core to cope with and adapt to a whole lot more than traditional planks, that’s why I call them Hero Planks. Additionally, the transverse plane(twisting), as I always stress to people, is where most training/course injuries take place.

Shoot for at least 50 reps per arm with Hero Planks, but for today 25 is more than adequate. Keep your body under tension as much as possible. When you can do all 100 without having to rest, you’re truly a core hero!

 

2) Ball Shifts: Plyo pushups are awesome because they require so much more than traditional ones. Military style is the weight machine of the pushup world; they’re effective but not too versatile. Typically, people use stationary objects like a platform or a dumbbell, but moving objects are far more demanding.

For these, all that’s needed is a ball of some sort, whether a medicine or soccer ball. Start off with one hand on the ball and the other on the ground in pushup position, do a pushup, and then with explosive power shoot up while at the same time scooting the ball over so that your other hand lands on it when you come down.

Be careful, because this can be hard on the wrists, especially ones that are untrained or have sustained a lasting injury in the past. However, if you can handle it, there’s almost nothing more effective for building upper body dexterity and core strength throughout the transverse abdominus, and strengthening the forearms and wrists.

With these, sometimes it’s best to get out of the rest/exert and set/rep mind frame and just go until failure; in that you’re incapable of doing another one. For most people, regardless of their physical prowess, these are not a high rep count exercise. The point is to maintain the burn and struggle as long as humanly possible before giving out. Trust me, you’ll feel them in the morning.

 

3) BB Row w/ Tri-Press: The best thing about training for obstacles, feats, and timed workouts is that you get to compound, mix, and juxtapose exercises into your own creations; to go beyond mental boundaries and borders which mundane routines can easily set in place over time.

This exercise mixes light to moderate weight barbell deadlifts, standing upright trap rows, and triceps presses into what should ideally be one movement. Begin with the Deadlift, being careful not to scrape the shins, and at full leg extension perform a trap row bringing the barbell up to the nipple line or barely above.

Finally, bring the bar up above the head, watching the shoulders as you flip your wrists, and perform a triceps extension.

All three exercises should be done deliberately, with determination or it simply turns into a snatch type exercise where you jolt the weight up with the legs alone. Momentum shouldn’t be a part of any of them. Keep the core engaged, execute them slowly, and use your inner eye to zero-in on parts of your body that are under tension, like the traps, forearms, and shoulders. Also, pay attention to how many crucial joints or being worked in the process; from the legs and shoulders, to the elbows and wrists.

A pyramid set will work great for this exercise: Start with 20 reps, and work your way down into smaller sets to a minimum of 5. Mirror rest periods with rep counts until a max of around 35-50 reps.

 

4) Frontal Box Jumps: There aren’t many sections of an obstacle course that ask you to use only one part of the body at a time. Furthermore, balance is key because losing it can cost precious time to recover, catch bearings, and move trudge on.

What if you have to dodge something out of nowhere? What if you have to shift to one side unexpectedly? These are the kinds of unforeseen obstacles that cause injuries to the hips, knees, and ankles.

Hop over the stationary platform, whatever it may be, with some bounce in your step. Quick, quick, quick. Squat low and power back to the other side. This exercise can be enhanced with the use of either light dumbbells or plates, but nothing heavy; at least if you add any twisting motions.

Rather than rep count with this one, go for time. Begin by seeing how long you can go without stopping, from 20 seconds to 20 minutes. Rest for 30 seconds, and then repeat, but slowly and gradually make your way down until your thighs, gluts, core, and calf muscles are aching after only a few seconds after resting.

 

5) Overhead Plate Lunges: These things have been around since the days of Hercules and the Spartans themselves because they work. The core, the legs, hip girdle, ankles; everything!

However, there’s nothing to stop us from accentuating and uplifting them into even more. If you can safely do it with whatever it is in your hands while lunging, then do it! As you can see by the picture, one great idea to incorporate more of the shoulders and upper back is to suspend a plate in the air above the head.

This takes the weight down the kinetic chain and increases the tension on the core 10 fold. Don’t pick a weight that is so heavy is causes your lower back to curve under it, keep it moderate and hold it high until your arms about to give out. Just watch the top of your noggin.

Finish off the workout with at least 25 of these per leg, with minimal rest as always, but never sacrifice form for exertion.

Once you’re finished there shouldn’t be a single area of your body that isn’t fatigued; we hit everything. In fact, we hit tons of muscles you probably won’t feel, and aren’t used to feeling, because they’re meant to cradle and look after our joints.

Thanks so much for your participation, and remember to share your thoughts and opinions with us. See you on race day…oh yeah – and with next week’s Spartan WOD!

Keep going!

James Villepigue & Hobie Call

Ready to race?  Sign up now for a race near you.

2 Responses

  1. avatar

    Ball shift variation: I do it on BOSU with the ball side up. Allows me to focus on explosive push up and coordinatioon “jumping” from side to side with eah rep.

  2. avatar

    Really wrecked my shoulders at another obstacle race. Tips for improving the shoulder joints, feels like both are coming out of the socket when moving in certain positions. Thanks

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