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Friday, November 30, 2007

Get Your Glutes Firing

This is another area that not nearly enough of us are addressing, as most who have patello-femoral pain are only worried about isolating the vastus medialis obliquus (VMO).

In research by Ireland et al. (1), they found that athletes with patello-femoral pain had significantly decreased strength in both hip abduction and hip external rotation. How much is significant? These subjects were 26% weaker in hip abduction and 36% weaker in hip external rotation!

Now that we know what movements to train, what muscles are most affected? Specifically, we're talking about getting your gluteus maximus and posterior fibers of the gluteus medius firing. So before we do low-body work, we should be getting some activation work in to make sure those muscles are stimulated and ready to go. X-Band walks are perfect here.

You'll see in the video that the set-up is a little funky, so hopefully seeing it will make it easier than me trying to explain it! Big things to focus on here include turning the toes out slightly and bracing the core throughout. This will prevent you from using the "Weeble-Wooble" substitution pattern that typically occurs in hip abduction movements. Stay tight, tall, and use those glutes and you should be just fine.

In maintenance phases (where I'm focusing on max strength), I may only do one set before training. In phases where motor control and recruitment are the priority (for instance, in the early off-season or a transition phase), I may perform three or even four sets of these exercises before training.

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Mike Robertson

Thursday, November 29, 2007

10 Iron Game Lessons

Before I get into this article, let me just say that I’m really excited to write an article that’s not 100% training related. Sure, the whole point of this article is for me to discuss the top ten things I’ve learned about training, but I’m hoping to share some insight with all of you as to how and why these things shaped my training philosophy.

These first couple happened really close to one another, and it’s a time in my life I consider "The Awakening." Unfortunately, a lot of those around us really aren’t awake; they see things as they choose to see them and not how they really are. This was an amazing yet difficult time in my life because I had to change my views and perceptions of a lot of things, just one of which was how and why I trained.

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Mike Robertson

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Perfecting the Sumo Deadlift

In the perfect pulling position, your chest and head are up, back arched, arms straight down from your shoulders and locked, knees flared, and weight balanced over the middle of the foot or shifted slightly towards your heel. Now remember, the deadlift is a TOTAL BODY LIFT!!! I think of an explosion from the middle of my body…my feet are driving through the floor, my upper back is tight and pulling back, and I'm trying to force my chest and hips through to the top. Synchronicity is key here; since you don't have a stretch reflex like the squat, your have to have everything firing at once to move the heavy tonnage.

Some people state that you should only perform singles when doing deadlifts. I agree to an extent, but I think there are times when doing no-pause deadlift reps are good as well. Beginners, especially those just learning the powerlifts, can benefit from doing continuous reps without a pause for several reasons: 1) It teaches them the most efficient position to pull from, especially since you can't always get that feel on the first one, 2) It allows you to go slightly heavier than you normally would, and therefore overload the muscles necessary for deadlifting (assuming you can get the first one up!) However, for most advanced trainers who have no prominent muscle imbalances or technique issues, I would stick to sets with pauses in-between reps or singles to further increase performance.

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Mike Robertson

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Body Weight, Leverage, and Lifting for Strength

When we’re discussing leverage, the two main components that we’re looking at are the mass of the different parts of the body and their various lengths. Unless you’re still growing, you can’t really change the length of your levers too much! This is the reason for the focus on increasing girth.

There’s generally a natural increase in strength and performance as you get heavier. Your absolute strength goes up. However, for most of us, we hit a point where we start to lose increases in absolute strength at the expense of relative strength. So while your total squat may go up, your squat in relation to your body weight may actually go down.

In the individual lifts, the squat and bench press are affected the most by increases in body mass. Whether it’s a bigger belly to bounce off of or shortening your stroke in the bench, increases in body mass tend to improve your squat and bench press much more than your deadlift.

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Mike Robertson

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Why Choose Oats

by Dr. John Berardi

If you're looking to gain mass and have a good carbohydrate tolerance, place a bowl of fiber-rich, low-GI rolled oats along with ½ scoop of vanilla protein powder, frozen mixed berries, pineapple and a small quantity of mixed nuts right next to your omelet. This is a muscle building breakfast that’s hard to beat. I place this bowl right next to my omelet for a breakfast that's hard to beat.

If you like this tip and want to learn more about JB and his products, check out his Precision Nutrition website.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Exercise of the Week: Push-ups

They may not be the sexiest exercise on Earth, but push-ups (and the many variations) should be a staple in your resistance training program.

Some of the benefits of push-ups include:

- Activation and strengthening of the serratus anterior, pecs, anterior delts and triceps

- They are a closed-chain horizontal push, which increases rotator cuff recruitment and allows for movement of the scapulae (when compared to the bench press)

- Development of base levels of upper body strength, and allow for preparation for heavier pressing movements (resisted push-ups, bench presses, etc.)

For more information on the push-up, check out the following article:

Push-ups, Face Pulls and Shrugs

Stay strong


Monday, November 12, 2007

10 Tips for Flawless Squattin'

Before you even approach the bar, you need to be visualizing what's about to happen. Go through some of the points given above and really focus on the ones that apply specifically to you. I know the two main points I need to focus on are keeping my chest up and forcing my knees out. Everyone is different, so focus on the ones that apply to you.

As you approach the bar, get the hands set exactly where you want them. As stated before, the closer you can comfortably get them to your shoulders, the better. Next, wiggle underneath the bar and pull your shoulder blades together and get tight. This is giving you that nice shelf the bar can rest on.

Move your back up and down on the bar until you find that place where the bar feels perfect. Once you hit the spot, make sure your chest is up and the bar is locked in where you want it. Take a big breath and press the feet through the floor to unrack the weight. Don’t set the racks up so low that you have to do a good morning! Before you walk out, let the plates settle for a second.

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Mike Robertson

Friday, November 9, 2007

Mike Robertson's Words of Wisdom

Packing our picks, shovels and tin pans, your dauntless editors went prospecting once again in the Authors' Locker Rooms for more golden nuggets of wisdom. It took some digging, but we hit pay dirt big time.

Mike "Ass Master" Robertson is always generous with his limited time and copious knowledge, and here he talks about (among other things) the benefits of pitching manure, what you can do with a tennis ball, and why you should always finish with the butt.

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Mike Robertson

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The Hardcore Lunge

The lunge is one of the best exercises you can do in the gym. Unfortunately, the performance of the "lunge" by your average gym-goer is about as baffling as nipples on men. Some things just don't add up.

Whether your goal is improved performance, wheels of steel, or a bigger total, lunges can help get you there. The lunge may not be as sexy as a big squat or deadlift, but once you've learned to lunge effectively it's one of the most potent exercises you can employ in your weight-training arsenal.

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Mike Robertson

Monday, November 5, 2007

Getting To Know The Squat

If you’re serious about your strength, physique or physical prowess in general, the squat is arguably the best lift you can learn to perform in the gym. Simply put, there are a plethora of reasons you should start squatting TODAY even if you’ve never tried them before. And if you’ve been doing them for years, hopefully you’ll learn something along the way that can help you take your squats (as well as your strength and physique) to a whole new level.

Before we get to the meat and potatoes, I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, “Why the hell is this guy writing an article on squatting?” I’m sure plenty of you reading this out-squat me, and I’m ok with that (for now!) But, for someone who has pretty poor levers and started off with one of the worst squats of all time, I’ve taken it from absolutely terrible (336 pounds at a bodyweight of 176) to something almost respectable (530 pounds at a bodyweight of 198 pounds). To do that, it’s taken a lot of hard work, dedication, and most of all learning about what perfect squat technique is and feels like.

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Mike Robertson

Friday, November 2, 2007

Free Stuff

I’m constantly amazed at how many people want “free stuff” on the ‘net nowadays.

Free stuff is great; I personally love free stuff. I guess for me, though, it comes down to value. If I’m willing to pay for something, I’m that much more willing to really utilize and apply it. It has a higher value to me than something that’s free. It’s not that free stuff can’t be quality, because it absolutely can. But most people don’t associate “free” with “value.” It’s just a fact of life.

Take for instance my Bulletproof Knees manual. If you dug around, listening to all my audio interviews, reading all my articles, and even attending a seminar I spoke at, you might get most of the key nuts and bolts to my program. The problem is, it’s impossible to have the same depth in any of those formats. It’s impossible to convey everything you know into a one-hour talk, let alone a 2-3000 word article – it’s just not possible. A good article or presentation gives you a few key points, but lacks the necessary depth.

It’s information outsourcing, in a sense – how much is your time worth? Do you want something “for free”, knowing that it’s going to take extensive time and effort on your part to do so? I’m not saying its right or wrong, just understand that nothing is “free.” If nothing else, it’s going to take time to assimilate and compile all the information that’s out there on a topic. Many would much rather purchase a manual or DVD that gives them the tools necessary than spend inordinate amounts of time doing the research themselves.

Still want free stuff? Sign up for my newsletter, keep reading my blog on a daily basis, and check out all the articles I have on my website. I love doing what I do, so I’m going to continue providing free stuff as long as I’m around.

Free stuff is great – just don’t expect to get everything an author can offer for free!

Mike Robertson, M.S., C.S.C.S., U.S.A.W.