Categorized as: REST AND RECOVERY

The Benefits of Hamstring Flexibility and Pike Compression

Most adults are so inflexible in their hamstrings that they cannot even touch their toes. This is a serious deficiency, and one that is limiting them in a wide variety of movements. Moreover, the gymnastic pike position requires active compression of the hips, and a poor pike position will make press handstands, mannas, and many tumbling drills much harder to achieve.

First, the term “hamstrings” actually refers to a family of three distinct muscles. These muscles cross both the hip and knee joint, and thus are involved in both hip extension (“opening” the angle of the hip) as well as knee flexion (“closing” the angle of the knee). Problems arise when, due to a culture of sedentary living and lack of exercise, many adults move their hips through a full range of motion so infrequently that their hamstrings become excessively inflexible and tight.

Consider, for instance, a hanging leg lift. This is a basic beginner progression on the way towards L-sits and Mannas in the GymnasticBodies Foundation Series. When many trainees first attempt hanging leg lifts, they find they can barely lift their legs at all! Now this problem is two-fold: their anterior (front of the body) core muscles are too weak, and their posterior (back of the body) leg muscles and fascia are too tight. Fortunately, the GB courses have plenty of exercises and stretches to take care of both issues. Read More…

Sleep More For Fat Loss

In the world of fitness, everyone wants to know what to eat, and what to do in order to reach their goals. Let’s face it, the majority of people in the fitness world are interested in one thing, losing weight and looking good. Okay, maybe two things haha.

A recent topic of discussion amongst our members has been, “Did you see that article that said that not sleeping can lead to weight gain?” Let’s summarize this concept in a few points.

1) When you do not sleep, you are low on energy and when you are low on energy, your body begins looking for glucose (aka sugar) for energy to help you through the grueling tasks during your day. In order to get more glucose, you must eat more glucose, or your body will make it via gluconeogenesis. Gluconeogenesis is where the body will generate glucose from certain non-carbohydrate carbon substrates, usually protein, fat, or muscle, in search of glucose to produce energy.

2) In addition to searching for energy, your cortisol (stress hormone) is often high when striving to function on little sleep. Excess cortisol directly contributes to excess belly fat.

3) As a result, your body is looking to boost insulin to help bring down cortisol since the two oppose each other. As we all may know by now, sugar of course boosts insulin. Read More…

4 Hip Flexor Stretches to Relieve Tight Hips

The most common complaint we hear from our members is “my hips are so tight.” The response is always, “Here, try this hip flexor stretch.”

Why are everyone’s hips so tight?

Take a step back and think about where you spend most of your day. If you’re a young athlete, you probably spend most of your time at school or maybe work or practice and  even a little time at home, if you’re lucky. Now think about what position your body is in during those periods. I would bet that you spend most of your day sitting down. You may walk to class or run in practice, but the majority of your day is spent in a seated position.

So, who cares right? Wrong. Everyone has seen that little old man walking with a cane, hunched over almost to the point of staring at the ground. Do you think he always walked like that? I’d bet you he didn’t. Maybe he had an injury that never healed properly, or maybe after spending years and years in a similar position, his body became tighter and tighter until eventually he ended up bent over.

Repetitive motions over time can change the positioning of your body.

How?

When a muscle contracts, it shortens. Take the biceps for example. Without getting too technical, the biceps are attached at the forearm and shoulder. When your biceps contract, they shorten and bring those two points closer together. When you rest, the muscle returns to its normal length, and the two points move farther away. Constantly contracting your biceps over a long period of time would cause them to get shorter, even at rest.

Why Are My Hips Tight?

Apply the above concept to your hips. When you sit, your hips are in a “flexed” position. Therefore, the muscles that flex your hips are in a shortened state. You probably spend at least a third of your day sitting down. Think about how much time those hip flexor muscles stay shortened. A lot. Over time, they become tighter and tighter until you look like the old man in the picture. So unless you want to look like that, perform the stretches shown below. Read More…