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Two Awesome Continuing Education Opportunities

Filed under: Continuing Education — Shon @ 12:32 pm April 18, 2012

As I enter my twenty fourth year of professional practice, continuing education has lost some of the shine it used to have for me.  While it used to be fun to travel all over for weekend seminars and short courses, family and business commitments have taken the forefront of my life (my son turns 13 this summer, and my daughter will be driving in less than year and a half!).  I am definitely stingier with my time now, and while, yes, attending CE courses are still important for my professional growth and networking, the fact is I have" been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt" over the past 23 years and 1,000+ hours of in-person, hands on lecture/lab/workshop participation.


I've felt like this at far too many CE seminars


That said, there are still a ton of fabulous seminars and speakers I want to see (the Postural Restoration Institute, Prague School, as well as RKC are on my wish list of topics for further research) while the internet brings us the ability to digest great information and content (strengthcoach .com,, and Mike Reinold's dynamite continuing education series to name a few). 

Today I want to mention two resources, one "in person' and one on-line that I will be diving into this summer.


BSMPG 2012 Summer Seminar 


The awesome BSMPG 2012 Summer Seminar is back in Boston on May 19 and 20 that Art Horne (athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach for Northeastern Basketball) has put on for the past several years.  I attended for the first time last summer and as I blogged about HERE and HERE, I couldn't have been more pleased.  Every talk I attended was excellent at minimum, and I easily learned a years worth of information in 2 days.  Speakers were approachable and attendees were very laid back and fun.


This year's speakers include Dr. Craig Liebenson, Dr. Christopher Powers, Boo Schexnayder, Sean Skahan, and the always popular Cal Dietz.  I didn't think Art could top last year, but it seems he did.  Again, there are multiple tracts (hockey and basketball strength and conditioning, sports medicine, as well as extended workshops in addition to keynote speakers) to appeal to a broad range of professionals.  Attendees also include previous speakers such as Charlie Weingroff, who still has my head reeling from his talk last year (this year I am looking forward to meeting and interacting with Patrick Ward, who always has a ton of great information to share).

If you are involved in any facet of health, human performance, manual therapy, rehabilitation or a combination thereof, it would behoove you to make a serious effort to attend.  Kudos to Art Horne for making this happen year after year, while raising the bar each time!  Registration information can be found HERE.


Bret Contreras and Chris Beardsley's Strength and Conditioning Research

What Bret and Chris Beardsley have produced is a fabulous "one stop shop" for all things as they relate to current strength and conditioning research.  Many of us are in a situation where we receive multiple journals form various professional organizations that pile up month after month without a glance.  We then end up suffering from "option paralysis" and just give up on reading anything, which hurts us as a professional and a practitioner.

With Strength and Conditioning research, the tedious work of mining and discerning excellent peer reviewed research  has been done by Bret and Chris on a monthly basis, leaving us with a tight and thorough summary of each study as well as practical applications.  Each month encapsulates fifty studies in four categories: strength and conditioning, biomechanics, physiology and physical therapy.  Other studies that weren't reviewed but deemed important are in a separate on-line catalog for monthly members.

This month, some cool studies included the effects of kettlebell training vs. weightlifting in jumping, strength and body composition, relationships between strength, sprints and change of direction, ACL strain and jump landing, and inflammatory markers following massage therapy.  There were forty six other studies as well, all easy to digest and understand.  Minimally, 60% were pertinent to my daily practice, and that was just after glancing at the table of contents.

I have been after a resource like this for over ten years, and am really grateful that this one now exists.  At $10 a month, it is a no-brainer, and it has already exposed me to over 100 papers that I probably would not have looked at if they didn't show up in my in box seamlessly every 4 or so weeks.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is a strength coach, personal trainer, physical therapist (or PT student), athletic trainer or a combination of all of the above.  To sign up, click HERE (please note, I am not an affiliate, only a fan). 


Advanced Core Stability: One Arm RKC Plank

I love the RKC plank ever since learning about it several months ago from my friend Bret Contreras. It's simple to teach, difficult to perform and satisfying in the feel of whole body muscular activation you get with it.  It's one of the only "floor" exercises that gives you the sensation of intense whole body contraction similar to gymnastics open chan movements such as the planche.  As opposed to a regular plank, where whole body tension is often times not very significant and can be held for prolonged periods, an RKC plank relies on developing large amounts of whole body tension and susequent  neuromuscular "irridation", where the whole muscular system becomes a tightly wound spring.



Credit obvilously goes to Pavel Tatsouline for the genesis of this exercise, which takes a traditional plank and adds "muscle" to it via increased lattissimus, quadriceps, and gluteal contraction.  By doing this, the abdominals are forced to contract more intensly than in a standard plank, with the net effect of increased dynamic stiffness and "pillar stability" around the lumbar spine.  I believe the magic in a properly performed RKC plank is in it's "anti lumbar extension function"- where the force couple of the quadriceps, abdominals and gluteals, along with added isometric tensioning of the latissimus/thoracolumbar fascia really lock down the lumbar spine in an appropriate fashion.  Creating dynamic stiffness and strength in this position transfers nicely to activities on two feet in strength or regular sport.

As I was progressing myself as well as my clients and teams through this exercise, I thought of how I could make a hard exercise even harder.  Not just for the sake of making it harder arbitrarily, but to add another musculoskeletal and performance challenge to the activity; in this case to resist lumbopelvic and trunk rotation.


Enter The One Arm RKC Plank

The One Arm RKC plank is a great progression for an already tough exercise.  By removing the support of an arm, you now require your stabilizing musculature of the trunk (internal/external obliques, quadratus lumborum) to work extremely hard to resist falling into rotation.  The natural inclination is to elevate the pelvis to counter the trunk rotation; this is what we are trying to avoid.

Additionally, you will notice a significant overflow of muscular activity of your triceps, as your forearm and fist is the only upper extremity contact with the ground at this point.  In addition, the latissimus fires extremely hard, leading to "tenting" of the thoracolumbar fascia, which further lends to additional lumbar stabilization.

You will find that the quadriceps, gluteals and abdoninals contract even harder than in a traditional RKC plank as a result of the induced instability. This is involuntarily if performed correctly, and another example of "self limiting" exercise. 


Setting Up

The one arm RKC plank is performed by first setting up into a traditional two arm plank, then contracting the quadriceps as well as the glutes (into posterior pelvic tilt), which leads to increased abdominal contraction.  When these muscles are set, then "pull" your elbows to your feet isometrically while at the same time isometrically "pull" your toes (your foot contact in the plank position) toward your elbows.  What you will feel is a boatload of whole body tension that we will use to our advantage soon.

Now, while continuing to hold the tension, slowly and deliberately remove one of your forearms from the floor placing your hand palm up in the "small" of your back.This requires an even further intense contraction of the support arm, and can be facilitated by pushing your support elbow and fist into the floor. Intent is everything here-push hard! 

At the same time, you will feel gravity trying to pull your pelvis down on the unsupported side.  This is normal and expected.  To counter this, focus on bracing  your quadriceps and gluteals even tighter on the unsupported side, as well as focusing on keeping a neutral spine position and not allowing your hips to "pike".  At this point, the intensity of whole body muscular contraction increases even further as you fight to keep your trunk and hips parallel to the ground.  This is the crux of the exercise:  Whole body tension from the supporting forearm through the toes, while working hard to keep your pelvis and trunk level.

The video below outlines what you should be striving for in the performance of this exercise:



 Here is an alternate view of the transverse plane from "top down", again avoiding pelvic and /or trunk hiking:



Program Placement, Sets and Time

This exercise can be flexible in terms of program placement.  It fits nicely in a warm up/ movement prep, between sets of your main exercises, or at the end of a session.  I have utilized it as a facilatory activity with sprinting and plyometrics, sandwiching a set or two between repetitions as a "potentiation" primer. 

In terms of sets, 4 to 8 sets, lasting from 6-15 seconds/set is a good place to start.  Obviously, you will do an equal number of repetitions on each side, although you will more than likely have a more dominant side with better perfoormance, so adjust set times accordingly.  At least 1-2 minutes rest between repetitions should be taken; more rest may be needed if technical performance suffers.  Of course, technical failure is the end point for this exercise; learning to judge this is important as well.