strength training

Injury prevention for female athletes

Injury prevention for female athletes

Female athletes age 15-19 have the highest rate of ACL injuries of any population. Any well-designed training program for female athletes must address this risk.

Best exercises for six-pack abs and back health

Everyone wants a six-pack. Few people want to do the work. Even fewer have the slightest idea how the abdominal muscles actually work, and how they should be trained -- for appearance, for performance and for optimizing stability and motor control.

We all know what the rectus abdominis is. Maybe not by name, but we know what it is. This is the external layer of the middle of the abdominal muscle group, the three boxes on either side of the middle of the abdomen, i.e., the six pack.

And yes, you can have a visible six-pack if you train your abs intelligently AND follow an otherwise well-designed exercise and nutrition program. (Put down the Diet Coke and Swedish Fish, please.) But there is so much more to core training, and so many more functions than aesthetics alone.

In this post, Meghan Callaway explains how to follow a complete core training program that doesn't just focus on endless, mindless situps, crunches and v-ups. The most effective exercises are often not the sexiest, and this is especially true with the core. The simpler the better, and the key is to train all the functions of the abdominal muscles -- rotation, anti-rotation, anti-flexion and anti-extension.

My favorite ab exercise is the 90-Degree Vertical Plate Press. Not only will it bring out your six-pack, but more importantly, it will develop stability and responsiveness in the transverse abdominis -- the inner, cross-sectional layer of the abs that's responsible for stabilizing the spine. And if you're trying to exercise safely and increase performance in your workouts, what could be more important than protecting your lower back? 

This exercise can target the abs to produce some serious results through the core. 1. Position the hips and knees at a 90-degree flexed position to eliminate involvement from the superficial hip flexors. 2. Hold a weight plate directly in front of your chest with arms extended and press vertically under control.

Try some of the movements in this essential post about sensible, effective ab training. Let us know in the comments how they change your core training for the better.

A simple plan to bullet-proof your shoulders

One of the most common setbacks for lifters and fitness enthusiasts is shoulder pain. Sadly, most trainers and gyms do not utilize a sensible, well-designed shoulder-care program. That's problem No. 1.

Problem No. 2 is that most people don't know what exercises to do (and which ones to avoid) when their shoulders get angry. And without a well-designed shoulder-care plan -- and an educated trainer to implement it -- lots of people get stuck in an endless pain loop that hinders their progress, or worse, leaves them too injured to train.

Fall is a time when lots of folks get excited about resuming their fitness program. So it's the perfect time to share this incredible resource from my friend Dr. John Rusin: The 20 Most Effective Exercises to Train Around Shoulder Pain.

Here are two of our favorite movements combined into one: the Banded Face-Pull + Pull-Apart Combo.

Here's another one of our go-to shoulder mobility drills, the Wall Slide With Liftoff.

At Max Velocity, we evaluate every client with a Functional Movement Screen so we can identify weaknesses and movement restrictions and provide a customized corrective exercise program. If you think this process is only for beginner or de-conditioned athletes, think again. Whether you're an advanced overhead lifter, Olympic weightlifter, throwing athlete or weekend warrior, shoulder health is of paramount importance to your success and pain-free training.

If you have movement dysfunction that's causing shoulder pain, it isn't going to go away on its own. And if you insist on lifting heavy and with high intensity without addressing the underlying problems, it's only a matter of time before you get hurt.

Try a few of these incredibly effective exercises and bullet-proof your shoulders before diving into your next overhead training session. Let us know in the comments how this approach works for you.

Single-leg training for big gains

Single-leg training for big gains

Try single-leg training with isometric holds to spark big gains and train injury-free.

The correct way to fix tight hamstrings

The correct way to fix tight hamstrings

Back Pain? It's time to address your tight hamstrings. But avoid the standard rounded-back toe-touches that most people are doing. Try these safer, more effective hamstring stretches and mobility drills instead.