Build a bridge as strong as the Mighty Mackinac

My family and I went on vacation recently to one of our favorite places, Mackinac Island.  While on the island, we spent time relaxing, riding our bikes around the island, beachcombing for surf glass, and generally just enjoying a few days disconnected from the rest of the world. 

The Mighty Mackinac Bridge
The Mighty Mackinac Bridge

Of course, I still squeezed in some time for exercise and one morning I was inspired by the Mackinac Bridge.  Mighty Mac connects Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas.  At 5 miles long, it’s the third longest total suspension bridge in the world and the longest suspension bridge with two towers in the Western Hemisphere.  A bridge with that length of span has to be strong.

Part of what makes this engineering feat so impressive is the distance between the towers.  A bridge with a shorter span is typically more stable and requires less strength.  A longer span needs to be built stronger.  Thinking about that strength made me consider what happens when you make a plank longer.  A regular plank has you connected to the ground by your feet and forearms.  Today’s video features the Body Bridge, which takes the plank up a notch by separating your anchor points even further from each other. 

Here’s your chance to see if your bridge is as mighty as the Mackinac.  Enjoy!

Chocolate, soda, cigarettes, and exercise

For some it’s chocolate, soda or cigarettes. For others, it’s exercise. All of these can be addicting. Of course, being an exercise addict isn’t the worst of the options. But too much of a good thing can be bad as well.

It's time to stop

Overtraining can strike anyone, but is more often found in endurance athletes and formerly sedentary individuals who’ve lost significant weight and are afraid they’ll slip back to their old ways, and their old weight. Overtraining can carry the following symptoms:

  • You have a higher than normal resting heart rate
  • You’re irritable and have trouble sleeping
  • You’re unable to complete normal workouts
  • You’re chronically fatigued
  • There’s a lack of progression in athletic performance
  • You can’t bust through a weight loss plateau
  • Your body fat percentage is increasing despite continued workouts
  • You become sick more frequently
  • Your training log indicates that you’re going hard all the time

If you’re experiencing more than one of these symptoms, you might be a victim of Overtraining Syndrome.  Prevention of overtraining is the best medicine.  To prevent overtraining, here are a few recommendations:

  • Keep a training log to track what you’re doing and the progress you’re making toward your goal. 
  • Follow a training plan that incorporates a variety of exercise and rest days.
  • Place your rest days after your higher intensity days (and before long endurance workouts if fat loss is a goal)
  • Balance volume and intensity.  You can’t have both.  As intensity increase, volume must decrease.
  • Fuel up appropriately.  This means eating enough food to support your body and muscle growth as well as eating quality food.
  • Get more sleep.  The quality of your workout and your performance is directly related to the amount of rest you give your body. 

If you’re already overtrained and past the point of prevention, the remedy is to back off and rest.  You’re not getting stronger while you’re working out.  Instead, you get stronger when you rest.  If you never give your body time to rest and you’re always going at the highest intensity, you’ll crash sooner than later. 

By rest, I’m not referring to just switching exercises.  For example, an overtrained cyclist cannot simply reduce their bike mileage and swap that for running. 

You need to back off and get some rest.  Your body needs to recover and rebuild.  Learn to take the time off and you’ll come back even stronger.

Build a stronger core for a better softball game

Softball season is in full swing at fields around the country and Bolingbrook is
no exception.  Softball is a demanding sport that requires rotational power,
functional strength, speed, agility, and quickness. 


 
All movement begins at the core.  Many people define the core very narrowly,
thinking of only the abs.  Your core includes your torso and hips which account
for the power center of your body.  For example, each time the batter swings,
their body, and most importantly the hips rotate to drive toward the ball.  A
good pitcher knows that the power comes not from the arm, but instead from
driving off the back leg, followed by bringing the back leg around to close the
hips and planting the foot to be ready to field the ball.  A base runner has to
explode from the base to steal second using the glutes to extend the hips and
power toward the bag.  A shortstop might find herself diving toward third to
snag a ball, stopping, turning, and firing the ball toward first base to get the
out.  That sprint to the left, decelerate, turn and throw all engage the
core.  
 
Before she can develop that much needed strength and power, a player needs to
develop core stability.  To get you started, this week’s column features a video
showing a core stability program to improve your game.  Once you’ve developed
stability, watch for future columns focusing on different exercises to develop
core strength.