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Andrew Stemler

Calisthenics and the 90/90 balloon drill

Inevitably the issue of breathing had to come up in our experimental Calisthenics class. Breathing can influence so may aspects of performance, that it’s worth becoming familiar with some of the more  popular breathing drills and concepts.

Increasingly you will see on cutting edged fitness blogs, the 90/90 breathing drill. As a cutting edge fitness class we looked at this skill last night.

The original 90/90 hip lift breathing drill was, to my knowledge, properly discussed by Boyle et al, ( 2010).

90/90 breathing was designed, so they say,  to optimise breathing and enhance posture and core stability. The idea being this would improve improve function and/or decrease pain (Boyle et al., 2010).

Here is a handy dandy “How to do it” guide

 

  1. Lie on your back,  feet flat on the wall, knees and hips bent at a 90- degree angle.
  2. Place a 4-6 inch ball between your knees.
  3. Place your right arm above your head and a balloon in your left hand.
  4. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, performing a pelvic tilt so that your tailbone is raised slightly off the mat. Keep your back flat on the mat. Do not press your feet flat into the wall instead dig down with your heels. You should feel your hamstrings “engage”
  5. Breath in through your nose and slowly blow out into the balloon.
  6. Pause three seconds with your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
  7. Without pinching the neck of the balloon and keeping your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take another breath in through your nose (the first few times you do this is slightly tricky).
  8. Slowly blow out  into the balloon again.
  9. Do not strain your neck or cheeks .
  10. The original instructions say “After the fourth breath in, pinch the balloon neck and remove it from your mouth.Let the air out of the balloon”. Frankly, i just open my mouth and let it fly around the room ( I have a pile of balloons to hand so I don’t have to move to get another one. My girlfriend says this is  annoying.
  11. Relax and repeat the sequence 4 more times.

You can checkout more materials at the Postural Rehabilitation Organisation

The 90/90 rests on a concept  called the zone of apposition (ZOA) of the diaphragm, which is the part of the muscle shaped like a dome.  In simple terms “MORE DOME GOOD”

If the ZOA is decreased the ability of the diaphragm to inhale sufficient air in a correct way is diminished.  This affects the diaphragms ability to build up  intra abdominal pressure.  If the ZOA is decreased The transversus abdominis activation also decreases with a smaller ZOA (Boyle et al, 2010), which again affects lumbar stabilisation ability .

The set up of 90/90 , allegedly aligns the pelvic floor and diaphragm in parallel. This combats any upper and lower cross syndromes, and lumbar extension. This results in  the core muscles being fired which increases the ZOA and adds to core stability. As an exercise in the obvious,  dysfunctional breathing and physical activity  takes up the main breathing muscles and throws the load on to smaller muscles and makes life harder. However, according to Lukas  (2018) there is little evidence in terms of studies to support this, although it sounds like a reasonable assumption. However, the Lukas study does seem to caste doubt on 90/90 as core stabilisation method

“Taken together, the 90/90 breathing seems rather ineffective as a general core activation for a normal workout.” (Lukas , 2018 page 35). but checkout these drills by Buteyko and these other breathing drills

I think some attention to basic breathing drills is probably useful, but its more relevant if you obviously have a breathing disfunction.

Why not practice on the tube (not with the balloon, obviously).

 

References

Alverdes, Lukas  (2018) .Short-term effects of 90/90 breathing with ball and balloon on core stability. Halmstad University

Boyle, K. L., Olinick, J., & Lewis, C. (2010). The value of blowing up a balloon. North American journal of sports physical therapy: NAJSPT, 5(3), 179.

 

COME & CHECK US OUT

Gymnastic strength, calisthenics, asanas

No matter what name you decide to call it, there are movements and static holds that say an awful lot about you. People who can plank, perform a lever, pop out a muscle up, hold a crow and get into the plough – are special.

Mastery of the asanas commonly associated with modern day yoga,  if combined with the famous moves associated with gymnastic strength: the human flag, the lever, the muscle up and the planche, begins the process of building awesome human beings. At CFLDN’s Crossfit Londons Bethnal Greens facility we want all our  athletes to learn how to control and manipulate external weights through regimes such as power and Olympic lifting while at the same time learning to  control and manipulate their own body weight.

Competency in these moves and the bodyweight ones in particular appear at a unique human cross-section. It’s where strength meets agility, flexibility, balance, endurance and mental calmness embraced within the mastery of technique.

Our Gymnastic-based classes represent an amazing challenge. There are, after all, gifts of health and vitality to be harvested.  However, there is a private hell to pass through as each stage is learned: perhaps only made tolerable by working with other committed, lovely people.

 

There is another key that underpins the value of  an asana, gymnastic-based process. You only learn cool moves one step at a time. In a world that worships ease convenience and instant gratification, there is a value in learning how to play the long game.

It develops grit.

It just makes you a better person.

COME & CHECK US OUT

Powerlifting testing day.

TESTING RESULTS AND BLOCK REVIEW

Today was testing day at CFLDN  In Bethnal Green E2. Alex Miller runs a popular powerlifting class to ensure our athletes build strength. Here is his review on todays testing results.

By ALEX MILLER

Obviously there is a lot of people still to test and some numbers to fill in but here is the initial results.

Overall numbers are going up. One or two people had off days today and performed under their potential but they have also been hitting higher numbers in their training so no need to worry there.

REVIEW OF THE COHORT SYSTEM:

As most of you are aware I introduced a cohort system into the Powerlifting training this block. The idea was that if I can provide ya’ll with some more individualised program that specific addresses a key weakness then you should respond with a larger increase in your numbers. To my eyes most people put around 7-10% on their numbers in the 12 weeks with, as you’d expect, some statistical outliers at a way higher %.

A key focus of the cohort system I made was to build the address the structural weakness which may have been an underlying cause of movement breakdown or poor technique. This resulted in a slightly less than traditional feel for a powerlifting class. Feedback was, from those I spoke with, that even though they aren’t leaving each session exhausted they feel that, even under high load, technique is much better.

DOWNSIDES:

I go away and review every block of training I prescribe to find out what I can do to make it better. The cohort system for powerlifting is no different. There is always downsides and if we are to create a resilient system which creates CFLDN athletes who are stronger, injury free, and technically superb then these flaws MUST be embraced and examined.

In this case, one of the biggest flaws I made was not giving enough time for sport practice: Squat, Bench, and Deadlift. The lifters had, at max, only 2 weeks of full lift practice before testing (during the the program they only did variations of the lifts which addressed the specific weaknesses of their cohort).

The second biggest flaw I made was to not give the athletes enough time to really get strong on each weak point variation. To limit the decreased response to specific adaptation demands I applied a 3 week limit to each variation. In hindsight, whilst it achieved that as a goal, it may prove better to run each variation for slightly longer (if you have questions on this ask me about adaptation refractory windows).

CONCLUSION:

Overall I’m very happy with the cohort system thus far and believe the results speak for themselves. As such, we will continue down the cohort path (although I clearly have a HUGE bias here and if anyone feels differently I’d love to hear your thoughts) but obviously, reflection (of which this is a quick overview) is useless without implementation of change; therefore, leading into the next block of training the following changes will be enacted:

– Each main lift variation will run for 5 weeks, rather than 3.
– After the 5 weeks, there will be a single week transition block to allow for re-sensitisation to the strength training stimuli.

This takes us to a 24 week block (4 x 6 weeks)

– At the 6 and 18 week mark, there will be a X3 block run of competition standard lifts. Because the block is X3 (i.e. triple occurrence per micro cycle or a 2 day micro cyle) the rate of adaption is much, much faster. Ergo, each block will only last 2 weeks.

This takes us to a 28 week block ( 4(6) + 2(2) )

At the end of the 28 weeks there will be a X2 competition block structured as a traditional linear taper/peak. This will last 3 weeks.

Taking us to a 31 week block ( 4(6) + 2(2) + 1(3)

And then a testing week totalling a 32 week block.

EXPECTATIONS

I know this seems like an extraordinary amount of time between testing. I’m hoping that the interim competition block attenuate that somewhat. Apart from that I’m happy just to suck it and see.

This long term approach to building the CFLDN athletes 100% rewards adherence but it will, in turn, hugely reward those who make the effort.

You can find out how to get functionally strong by following this link

Crossfit London: finding a great community.

If you have come to London, and are living near Bethnal Green E2, and you are feeling lonely, that means only one thing.

You haven’t joined Crossfit London yet.

For over a decade, Crossfit London in Bethnal Green E2 has been using community to drive the performance of its athletes. There is something about sharing your training time with motivated and committed athletes that drives your own performance.

You can jog on your own, and do yoga in your lonely bedroom. You can find a dirt cheap gym and have a relationship with a bicep curling machine, or you can decide to let your awesomeness show by training with us.

We will teach you lots and lots of cool stuff. We will  show you how to lift loads safely and effectively while boosting your metabolic capacity (your ability to run, row, bike). We will kick open the doorway to basic gymnastics and teach you how to push up, pull up, dip and handstand. There is a world of cool things in our syllabus that will engage and support you.

We will make you stronger faster and more skilled than you have ever been. You’ll also meet the nicest group of people in the world, who will support and clap and cheer and high five you as you improve. But, there is no such thing as a free lunch: you’ll have to support and cheer and high five others to help them along too.

Unfortunately, at the end of  some of our classes, you may be forced to hold a silly pose.

Oh well!

Crossfit london: The pursuit of physical excellence within a supportive community

The free shoulder flexibility course

Are you worried about your shoulder flexibility? Well, you are in good company! Many people are in the same boat. Too much hunching over computers and way, way too much texting means your chest is tight, your back is weak and your shoulder “don’t look pretty”.

At Crossfit London, we have years of teaching the Olympic Lifts and Adult Gymnastics to normal members of  the public, so we have developed  (and , to be frank, stolen) all the tricks to help you get a better shoulder position.

Whilst we cannot reproduce, in a single blog post, all of our sneaky shoulder flexibility developing drills and skills ( you have to jump into our classes or get a fabulous personal training session) here are some great drills to begin with.

Its our gift to you

Enjoy

Shoulder warm up

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jP02Bf7WBU&t=54s

Dislocations

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=si9uzGEiCic&t=18s

Shoulder stretch

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yLWpWSgAaE

Strength

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REjV2alcRcY

If you find your progress isn’t as great as you had hoped for, or you want help before you start, and on going support,  do book in for a PT, get  a session with one of our therapists or check out our mobility and flexibility classes

Crossfit London is based in Bethnal Green London E2. It was the first ever Crossfit facility in the UK, and remains the biggest Crossfit Gym in London, Its facilities are both gorgeous and stunning

CROSSFIT LONDON : the house plant sanctuary

We do many things at Crossfit London in Bethnal Green E2. We make fantastic humans, and basically, bring the awesomeness out of awesome people. We do this through our authentic Crossfit , Olympic weightlifting and Power Lifting classes.  Our diabolical Metcon sessions (imagine a circuit class from hell) and our fabulous range of adult gymnastic classes round off the edges.

We also do this by offering a sanctuary and safe place for unwanted and abandoned houseplants. People in London can move frequently and it’s often the humble pot plant that can be on the receiving end.

We have made space in our fantastic cafe and reception space to take in and look after unwanted pot and house plants.

We know things get tough, but please don’t take it out on your cactus, cheese plant, or whatever that green clump of stuff is called!  If you find yourself at the end of your tether, bring in your plant for us to love and nurture. We wont judge you.

If you’re feeling under pressure, and you cannot give your plant the love it needs, bring it to us. We will water it, talk to it,  love it and add  delicate spoonfuls of  peat, potting compost or other plant yummy stuff.  You can come and visit your plant whenever you like.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you have always wanted a plant but were terrified by the responsibility, but still want that “human to nature” connection, do come to our Plant Cafe and sit near one of our therapy plants. They will lower your blood pressure when you stroke their little leaves and tickle their fronds. If you talk to them, they wont betray or judge you.

It’s basically a win win

 

Some foundational work for gymnastic strength

There are many secrets to achieving those sort after gymnastic skills that we all want. There is, obviously, lots of specific work and regular practice. That you’ll do in our regular classes, supported by our teachers. Crucially, however, the human flag, the lever, the planche, the muscle up  and the handstand all require a super conditioned core.

If you want to human flag at parties to impress your friends, or pop up into a handstand to impress, well, everyone, you need  a rock solid core.

The side planks, the hollow hold and the arch hold are essential daily practice. Build up to: getting the full move, then build to  90 seconds in each move, then aspire to achieve 3 sets of 90 seconds.

the foundation of gymnastic strength. A strong core

Our gymnastic strength classes will give you all the regular skills and drills you’ll ever need, but you need to support this with home practice.

Check out our Gymnastic Strength and Adult Tumbling classes  in Bethnal Green E2 click here

Back tuck secrets

By the time you walk into a nightclub and throw a near perfect back truck, you will have spent an awful long time on learning, developing and practicing it. To back tuck, you need a great jump, a great tuck in the air and a rock solid landing. These things all take time and repetitive practice.

That’s the secret.

The problem is everyone thinks this is easy, so most do not approach the subject with consistent intention: you must think in terms of  throwing 10-30 safe back tucks each session and support this by building underpinning drills and skills.

At our Crossfit London adult gymnastic classes in Bethnal Green E2 we try and make sure that the core skills are supported and rehearsed in skill based, but condition building, circuits, like this one: You’ll notice we want to get a nice tall jump, a great snap and tuck, and a solid landing.

Once we have looked at bits of the skill, we give our clients the opportunity to try the whole skill in safety, and in a variety of different ways. As with all sports, progressive practice is the key. You’ll notice the use of a close spot and support in the air.

You can check out our adult gymnastic classes here:

Basics: the common theme in Adult Tumbling.

At our adult gymnastic classes in Bethnal Green E2, we try and get our clients to perform 5 moves: The back and front handspring, the back and front tuck along with the round off.

Whilst we have lots of safe set ups to allow you to have a go at the whole skill, it’s crucial for your training that we develop lots of mini skill circuits. You have to practice the basics as well as do the fun stuff

So,  here is an example of a mini circuit, part of our preparation to develop your  back handspring  in Crossfit London’s  adult Tumbling sessions. Enjoy them. They are building your basics.  Basics build long term success.

Each week we have tumbling  classes on Friday evening and Sunday, early afternoon.

Adult Gymnastics: learning the back tuck

Since 2008, we have been teaching adults how to tumble in our adult gymnastic classes.  We have a wonderful  8000 sq ft facility four minutes from Bethnal Green tube station in London E2.

One of the moves that our adult gymnasts want is the back tuck. Which is great. It’s not over complex, but its performance is often interrupted by fear.

Obviously the learning process begins with the backward roll and is developed by various jump and tuck drills. As with all tumbling the stronger the jump, the better the move. The only draw back is that fear makes most people:

a) cut the jump short
b) throw their heads back
c) open way to early

This back tuck drill (once rehearsed a bit) makes the learner independent of the teacher, offers safe support if it all goes wrong, but crucially, allows the learner to build confidence

For more information about our tumbling, and gymnastic strength classes , where we teach you how to  perform the front and back lever, nail the handstand  and start work on the human flag , do check out our information page. You may also note that there is a free trial on at the moment!