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Al Painter - Integrate Performance Fitness, Palo Alto CA
Al Painter, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, BA

Al Painter is a personal training who believes that core strength is the common denominator to all successful movement. Read more.

Al is also the Fitness Editor for VeloReviews.com; in addition to being a cast member on the site’s podcast, as well as FitPro Expert on SweatGuru.com. Read more.

 

 

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About Al Painter, BA, NASM-CPT, CES, PES & Fitness Trainer

Al Painter is a National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist as well as an Corrective Exercise Specialist. He also holds a degree in Communications from Santa Clara University. His area of specialty is endurance athlete specific strength training.

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Al has also been named “Best Bay Area Personal Trainer” by CitySports Magazine as well as being the recipient of a “People’s Choice Award” from Palo Alto Daily News.

Latest Articles

4 Common TRX Row Mistakes

Suspension training is a great tool for a workout program. It add some really “enjoyable” variety that will help you remember your workouts quite a bit. Especially if you want to add back strength. Which is something most people who sit behind a desk all day have trouble with.

A weak upper back allows the shoulders to roll forward taking the head with it wreaking havoc with your posture. Done correctly, a TRX row is a great exercise. Done incorrectly, and well, not so much. There are some things you need to be aware of before you go on a calorie crushing crusade that will make using the TRX that much more effective.

Walk into any gym and you’ll see some pretty common muscular miscues when people are doing a suspension trainer row. Some are pretty obvious, others not so much. Lucky for you, I’m going to share with you the more subtle movement mistakes made when people use a TRX for rows.

1) Wrists rolling/curling in at the top of the row

If you’re doing this exercise in your program, bravo. It can be a great staple of a carry, squat, hinge, pull, press training format that will give you a ton of bang for your exercise buck. Especially if you are doing them right. Remember, and exercise is only as good as the form you bring to the motion.

As you pull yourself up, your wrists need to stay neutral all the way through the movement. Move as if they are taped, or in a cast and you will keep the right muscles online.

If you curl or roll the wrists in towards the forearm, you bring the anterior delts (front of the shoulders) into play more than you should, over activate the biceps and take your back muscles out of play to some extent.

Keeping in mind the row is a back exercise, this is a somewhat important component. Especially if you want to minimize elbow stress as well.

2) Head protrudes forward toward the end range of the movement

If you’ve ever seen a chicken pecking at feed, you’ve seen this. This is prone to happen if your neck flexors (the muscles that move the chin down toward the collar bone) aren’t strong enough to “pack the chin” and stabilize your cervical spine as you move.

Since we know that forward movement of the head under load destabilizes the spine to some extent (“Pack Your Chin For a Stronger Back”), this is something you want to stay on top of.

3) Not holding your column through the movement

Keeping in mind a TRX row is essentially a moving plank makes this a little easier to understand. In the plank position the core and hips are locking down the body to prevent movement. In a suspension trainer row, that locking down is critical to give you the foundation to be able to move.

One of the more common things you’ll see is at the bottom of the row, people let their hips collapse toward to floor and move out of that neutrally aligned column that you need to do the movement correctly. This is typically combined with flaring the rib cage (bottom of the ribs and hips getting further away from each other) as they pull putting hyperextension into the lumbar spine.

Hyper extension and lumbar spine are words you don’t want to use in the same sentence. You will usually see a rib cage flare combined with the head shooting forward. Yet another reason to pack the chin and hold your column.

Its pretty hard to do one part of the pull wrong without taking something else with it too.

4) Toes are down and feet are on the floor

This isn’t a movement miscue as much as it is a lost opportunity to ground the hips and get them more involved in the row. I like people to have their toes up so their heels are the primary contact point with the floor.

I’ve found this triggers their hip extension firing pattern more making it easier to pack the chin and hold the column as the move. I like to involve the glutes as much as possible when people exercise, and this is a great way to make sure they are on board.

As soon as the hands start to pull, you should feel the heels biting into the floor activating the glutes and locking down the back half of the body that much more.

 

There you go, your movement map for doing a proper TRX row. If you live in the Silicon Valley and want to dial this exercise in, shoot me a line and let’s set up a time to meet to maximize the movement.

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2 Exercise Quick Hit Combo

If you’re looking for an idea to make your workout more “fun” today, give these a shot. They are two of my favorite exercises, they work, work well, and if you aren’t doing them you’re missing out on an opportunity to get stronger.

They are as simple as they are effective, and you don’t need much to do them. A pair of weights of some kind, and a bench, stability ball or the floor.

Farmers Walks (30 steps)
Its not secret how I feel about this exercise. It is an amazing way to hit the core, particularly the lateral stabilizers. There is a ton of real world carry over as well. Dumbbells, kettlebells or even water bottles work here.
  1. Tall spine, think about pushing the crown of your head straight up the whole time.
  2. Abs are braced HARD like you are trying to withstand a canon ball blast.
  3. Inhale through your nose and exhale through the mouth as if you were blowing through a straw.
  4. Arms at your sides holding your weight.
  5. There should be a straight line from the middle of your ear to your ankle standing still, and that straight line should be maintained throughout the exercise.
  6. Crush the grip on the handles the whole time.
  7. You should feel your glutes, abs, arms, legs, back muscles.
Bat Wing Holds (5 reps with a :05 hold on top)
Another Dan John special, yes, shocker, I mentioned Dan John in a write up. I love this exercise to hit the muscles of the upper back that most people who sit at a desk all day are pretty deficient in: mid/low traps and rhomboids.
These can be done on a bench, a stability ball or on the floor.
  1. Grab a pair of light weights and lie face down on a bench.
  2. With head off the bench, begin to pull elbows to the ceiling.
  3. Done correctly, the thumb of each hand should be by the arm pits.
  4. Drive the shoulders together firmly, hold for :03 and lower 6″.
  5. Pull arms back up and repeat.
  6. You should feel a ton of upper back muscle work, and ZERO low back discomfort.

If you’d like more ideas for your workouts and you live in the Silicon Valley, drop me a line and let’s get you in to set you up with a program.

Read This Full Article

Pull + Push Superset

I love combining the lower body into upper exercises. You work the core a ton, hips, it allows you to drive the heart rate up and it adds variety to a workout.

Here is one of my favorite sets and it involves a cable pulley or exercise bands, a little bit of space and you. Standing on one leg is a great hip stabilizer move and kneeling to press/push is a great way to get in a stretch as well isolate the glute of the down side knee.

The next time you are looking for a little variety in your workouts, keep these two moves in mind!

SL BP Standing Pull 15/leg

  1. While standing on one leg with knee bent at 90 degrees, pull with two arms on a pair of cable pulley handles or rubber tubing.
  2. Inhale, and as you exhale pull the arms back driving shoulder blades together.
  3. Hold for :02 and return to starting position.
  4. Elbows should be at 90 degrees at the end of the motion.
  5. You should feel upper back, glutes and core.
  6. Maintain tall spine and packed chin throughout the motion.

Kneeling BP chest Press 10/leg 

  1. Set up in a 90/90 kneeling position with resistance origin behind you.
  2. Maintaining tall spine and a constant glute contraction on the side of the knee on the floor.
  3. Inhale, brace the abs and press the hands away from body.
  4. You should feel the abs, chest, arms and glutes.

If you’d like to learn more ways to super set your exercises to save time for your workouts, if you live in the Silicon Valley, drop me a line and we can set up a time to get you in and get you going!

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