Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Core Collection - Get to Walkin'

Core Collection – Get to Walkin'

And I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more...

Yeah admit it, everybody loves that song, but what does it have to do with the core

Well walking of course, but not just regular walking though, loaded walks

Well what's a walk?

A walk is basically carrying a load, in different positions, over certain distances or durations. It is not only a core exercise, it's a total body exercise, but it really stresses your body to prevent anti-rotation, anti-extension, anti-flexion, anti-lateral extension; and as we know, the majority of this duty falls upon what we call our core.

I think sometimes we get over-zealous when looking for core training to find the next latest and greatest exercise. We want something cool and "sexy", not something boring like carry a weight.

But we need to remember how our core works mainly as an anti-motion group. It resists motion, forces put on us during our sport/ lives. And we need to also remember we are on our feet during sport, and while sport specificity is over-blown and not real accurate, walks are specific to how our bodies are challenged during athletics.

If you only did walks from here on as your core work, you would be strong as hell thoughout your whole body and that strength would be pretty damn functional to your sport. Just give them a try, with the proper techniques, working on adding weight every session, and I will guarantee you will feel these puppies and how great they are.

So how is this done?

Well simply grab a heavy dumbbell(s) and start walking! Well it's not quite as simple as that, but that's the gist of it. 

Where you hold these dumbbell(s) is going to change how the body is stressed and will provide varied areas of activation.

So let's explore my four favorite walk variations

  1. Farmer's Walk
The farmers walk is the most basic of all the walks, as it involves picking up two dumbbells or kettlebells or a farmer's walk bar and walking. Dan John has been key in popularizing this exercise and for great reason.  It works everything from grip strength, back strength, hips, and of course your torso. Take your shoes off while doing this and get in some great foot, ankle work as well.  Dan John even promotes the farmer's walk as the best exercise to prevent rotator cuff injuries.  It is basically a walking plank, as your body is resisting the weight to remain in a good posture.  Anyone who has tried a farmer's walk knows how challenging it can be, but it also much be coached extremely well.

First we need to make sure we exhibit correct posture. The athlete should be as tall as possible with focus on packing the neck and not allowing your head to slump forward. You need to focus on keeping the scapula pull back and not allow the shoulder to slump forward. Fianlly you need to focus on keeping a normal stride pattern. By shuffling you greatly limit the effectivness of the farmer walk by not allowing adequate time in a unilateral stance. Walking in a normal stride pattern allows more time for your body to be stressed on one leg, and this further stresses your obliques, quadratus loborum, glutes, and trunk stabilizers to keep your pelvis and whole body in the correct position.

So it is key to make sure all of these points are in check, cuz if you don't your putting your body in a compromising position.

  1. Suitcase Carry Walk
The suitcase carry is the same as the farmer's walk, except now we only have weight in 1-arm. Just looking at the exercise you can see how this variation really stresses your body to resist anti-lateral flexion. Your opposite oblique will light up in this variation. Again just like the farmer's walk, we need to assure we have the same exact posture and technique ques.

One thing to really look for in the suitcase carry is athletes tend to lean to counteract the weight, but if we would look at the athlete from the waist up, we shouldn't be able to tell they have a weight in 1-arm. So they need understand they need to stay tall and should look the same as they would just walking with no weights.

  1. Waiter Walk
This one comes from the crazy waiter at the local diner who has 20 entree's of food over her head on her tray; weaving in and out of tables dishing out the food the every costumer in the place. You keep watching thinking (or if your evil, hoping) that she will drop it, but she never does.


Cuz all that time spent carrying that tray over her head has developed her some amazing core strength, shoulder/scapular stabilization, and proprioception.

That my friends is the waiter walk, but instead of the food tray we use a weight.

Similar to the farmer and suitcase walks, we need to ensure we have correct posture. We also want to lock the scapula, of the up arm, tight to provide great stabilization. Once you perform this exercise you will instantly notice how you must adjust throughout your body to keep the weight from moving around or throwing you off balance.

Your shoulder should be generally pretty relaxed with your scapular stabilizer's controlling the arm and just allow your shoulder to feel the weight and react when it needs to. The waiter walk is excellent for challenging your core in all areas, shoulder mobility, shoulder stabilization, and scapular stabilization.

  1. Goblet Walk
No other way to put it other than the goblet walk is a bitch of an exercise. It will kill your core, upper back, and biceps. It really is a tough one, and of all the variations the easiest to learn.

Take a dumbbell or kettlebell and hold it like a chalice under your chin. A key point is to not let the weight rest on your chest, so you might have to hold the weight off your body a tad. I'm beginning to sound like a broken record, but you must maintain a tall, erect posture. Keep the shoulders pulled back and necked packed.

As you begin to walk you will feel the weight pull you forward, but again resist that motion and keep a normal stride. On the flip side, don't lean back to counter the weight, maintain a tall erect spine/torso. Your core will really be challenged to remain tall and resist both flexion and extension.  Your upper back will be challenged to remain tall and pulled back, resisting being slumped forward.

As you move up in weight in the goblet walk, you will feel your biceps and upper back a ton, and you'll tend to forget how great it also targets your core. 

So stop making excuses, pick up some heavy weight, and get to walkin'!  As always Go Get Em'!

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