Smith Machine

February’s “Equipment Spotlight” is a piece of resistance equipment called the “Smith Machine”. It is a plate loaded piece of equipment in which weight plates may be added to the bar on each side, much the same way as a regular barbell. The difference with the Smith machine bar is that the bar travels on two guide rods with safety hooks attached to each side of the bar. This gives the bar a stable path of movement with the ability to hook the bar safely at different heights.

Unlike a regular Olympic Free Weight Bar which weighs 45 lbs. unloaded, the Smith Machine Bar weighs only 35 lbs. The Bar is counter-balanced with two weights suspended by cables within the sides of the piece to offset the weight of the bar.

When using this piece it is important to face the right direction to take advantage of the angling of the uprights. The image to the right shows the correct direction to face while using the Smith Machine. This allows you to not only take advantage of the angle of the rods but also allows you to see the safety hooks.

One plus to the Smith Machine is the stability and safety it provides users. Especially first-time weight trainers. The stability that the Smith Machine provides can also be a drawback, as the muscle stabilizers do not have to work as hard.

Overall the Smith Machine is a versatile piece of equipment that we can use to perform a variety of exercises. From Squats to Split Stance Squats, to Bench Press, Incline Press, Decline Press, Shoulder Press, Standing Rows, and Bent-Over-Rows just to name a few. We also can use the bar for bodyweight oriented exercises like Elevated Push-ups, Horizontal Rows, and Assisted Squats.

There are definite pluses and minuses to the Smith Machines use but as with most resistance pieces and exercises, the appropriate application is the key to getting the results that we seek.

If you would like to receive more information on how to use the Smith Machine please contact our Personal Training office. We would be glad to help you.

What’s a Kettlebell?

A Kettlebell or in Russian “Girya” (ball or bell with a handle) was used over 350 years ago in Russia, as a certified handled counterweight for dry goods on market scales. Kettlebell lifting is the national sport of Russia with national championships held each year.

In the Russian Military, recruits are required as part of their training to use kettlebells. Kettlebells come in a range of styles/shapes and weights.  They are primarily used for swinging, throwing, juggling, pressing, and holding type exercises.

What’s the difference between Kettlebells?

There are basically two different styles of Kettlebells. In the picture below, you see that the black Kettlebell has a thicker handle and a smaller body whereas the yellow Kettlebell on the right has a smaller handle and a much bigger body.

The yellow Kettlebell is what they call a “Competition” Kettlebell named for its use in Kettlebell Competitions. The thickness of the handle and diameter of the bell are exactly the same in each weight. It allows for a smooth technique adaptation from one weight to the next.

The “Competition” Kettlebell is much easier to swing than its counterpart which makes it a favorite with trainers and lifters alike. At BAC we feature “Competition” Kettlebells as a number of our staff were trained by World Champion and Master of Sports Coach Valery Federenko.

If you are interested in learning more about how you can add Kettlebell training to your workout please speak to one of our BAC trainers.

Weight Stacks

At BAC we feature Cybex Selectorized Weight Stack Circuits comprised of VR-1 and VR-3 models.

Cybex VR-1 models have numbered weight stacks and either come with the same size plates in the entire stack or have a graduated weight stack that has smaller plates then transition into larger ones. The numbers on the plates provide an index as to how many plates there are. The plate number does not reflect the amount of weight each plate represents they are for index purposes. Each machine also has an add-on plate that hangs right next to the weight stack to make smaller weight increases.

Cybex VR-3 models have the approximate weight imprinted on plates and progress in 20lb increments. To one side of each stack are 3-round 5lb add on weights to allow 5lb increases prior to moving to the next plate.

Cybex Selectorized Weight Stack Equipment are variable resistance machines, which means as the resistance is lifted the weight changes through the range of motion giving more resistance when you have a mechanical advantage and less resistance when you do not. To allow the machine to efficiently deliver the appropriate resistance through the range of motion the user needs to move the resistance at a slow controlled speed. A typical recommendation is a 2-4 second lift, 1-2 second pause, and a 4-6 second lowering then repeat.

If you have any questions regarding the usage of our Cybex Equipment please see one of our BAC Personal Training Staff. They would be happy to help!

Treadmill Q & A

What is the lowest speed the Treadmill begins with?: .5 mph

What is the Highest Speed the Treadmill will run?: 12 mph

What is the Lowest % Grade/Incline the Treadmill will do?: 0% Grade/Incline

What is the Highest % Grade/Incline the Treadmill will do?: 15% *Woodway Performance Treadmill will Incline to 25% Grade.

Once we adapt to our initial treadmill workout intensity what variables can we manipulate to create a progressively challenging workout?:
1. Speed/mph: walk, jog, or run at a faster speed.
2. % Grade/incline: increase the height of the treadmill to walk, jog, or run up an increasingly higher incline.
3. Duration: Increase the amount of time you walk, jog, or run.
4. Load: Increase the amount of weight you carry while walking, jogging, or running i.e. weighted vest.

Trivia: Walking at 1% grade/incline is equivalent to walking on flat ground.

Stability Ball T-spine Extension

Preparation: Knees and hips close to the stability ball with hips back toward heels. Chest and abdomen lying on the ball with both hands behind the head. Spine should be in a neutral position.

Movement: From initial position lift the upper chest, shoulders and head up off the ball. Note it is a very small motion. The goal is to get into T-spine (Thoracic Spine) extension. Thighs, hips, and abdomen should remain in contact with the ball. Slowly lower back to the start and repeat.

Benefit: Most daily activities we participate in we have a forward flexed posture. T-spine extension assists us in not only strengthening the area but helping our mobility in our upper back. If you have questions regarding this exercise please contact one of our Personal Training Staff.

Foam Rolling

Benefits of Foam Rolling:

  • Improves flexibility for a short duration but when done on a regular basis improves long-term flexibility.
  • Improves range of motion.
  • Evidence to suggest assists in post-activity recovery to reduce muscle tissue soreness.
  • Duration should be 20-30 seconds per muscle group for 3-5 sets.
  • Frequency should be 3-5 times per week performed on a consistent basis to achieve and maintain long-term results.
  • Can be performed prior to activity, during activity, or after activity.

Equalizer Dip

Take two Equalizers and place them side by side. Stand in between the Equalizers then bend down and grasp the foam portion of each handle. Place both feet outside the Equalizers just on the other side of the front feet. Knees are bent and the arms should be straight. Lower your body down between the equalizers
by bending the elbows. Make sure not to lower yourself down any further than 90 degrees of your upper arm. Extend your arms lifting your body back up then repeat. In this position you may if needed use your legs to assist you.

“The Stork” Outer Gluteal Activation

The “Stork” is a static hip exercise for strengthening and activating the lateral Gluteals, Gluteus Medius, Gluteuas Minimus, and the Piriformis muscles. This set of external hip rotators are responsible for abducting the leg out away from the body, rotating your leg outward, and stabilizing your femur at the hip. Non-activity and injury can cause this group to become weak which can affect the overall performance of your hip complex, affecting your gait and in some cases cause knee, hip, and lower back pain.
A static exercise like the “Stork” means that the exercise requires you to hold the position for a set duration, much the same as an isometric where the limbs and joints do not move but the muscles are contracted. The duration can be as short as 10-20 seconds to as much as 30-60 seconds depending on the prescription.
To perform the “Stork” take an inflatable balance disc, foam pad, or even a moderately firm pillow and place it against the wall. Turn sideways to the wall so that your shoulder is next to the wall with your feet about shoulder width a part. Lift the leg closest to the wall and trap the disc between your lower thigh and the wall with your leg not quite 90 degrees. Stand tall and put your wall side hand on the wall for balance. Begin by driving your body into the disc with you outside leg. Your wall side hip should not touch the wall. Keep the outside leg straight throughout with the body tall. Hold for the prescribed duration and repeat on both sides 2-3 times. Please see our BAC Personal Trainers to learn more about the “Stork”.

“Standing Donkey Kick”: Glute Activation

The Static Hip Series is called the “Donkey Kick”. The “Donkey Kick” is a static hip exercise for strengthening and activating the Gluteus Maximus and the Hamstrings. The Gluteus Maximus and the Hamstring muscles work in concert with each other to extend your hip. Extremely important muscles for gait in walking and in running. Injury and inactivity can dramatically affect the performance of these two groups which in some cases may cause modifications to gait and running mechanics, increasing the chances of injury and or pain.
A static exercise like the “Donkey Kick” means that the exercise requires you to hold the position for a set duration, much the same as an isometric where the limbs and joints do not move but the muscles are contracted. The duration can be as short as 10-20 seconds to as much as 30-60 seconds depending on the prescription.
To perform the “Donkey Kick” take a “Ballast Ball”, Stability Ball with sand material in the bottom, or a regular Stability Ball. Note that a “Ballast Ball” has a little more stability that a standard Stability ball. Pin or trap the ball at the base of a wall, a corner works even better as the ball will not roll around as much and you have a wall to stabilize and balance yourself with. Turn your back to the wall and the ball and then place the sole of one foot against the ball. Your support leg should be far enough forward, that the knee of the foot that is on the ball is slightly behind the front leg. Standing tall drive the heel of the foot on the ball into the ball. You should feel a contraction in the Gluteus Maximus and hamstrings. Hold for the prescribed duration and repeat on both sides 2-3 times. Please see our BAC Personal Trainers to learn more about the “Donkey Kick”.