Bend Pattern Posted on December 08, 2013, 2 Comments

One of the most important of the primal patterns, this movement is one we perform multiple times a day without much thought. It’s probably not on our mind when we’re bent over the bars during the bike leg of a triathlon either. But we stand up and take notice when we realize that strength in this pattern helps us actually to be straight when we stand up! Bending strengthens both the ligamentous system and the muscular system, without which we’ll be running out of T2 folded at the waist. Thus, this movement pattern is critical. If the triathlete can’t bend, he’ll break.

First Descent—Spotter support
Second Descent—From knees
Third Descent—From seated

EXAMPLE EXERCISES

Dead Lift
1. In a Squat position with feet positioned a little wider than hip width apart and externally rotated slightly, grasp a barbell with an alternate grip (supinated on one side and prontated on the other).
2. Inhale to charge the thoracic cavity, draw the navel in toward the spine, then ascend to the standing position by leading pushing through the heels and exhaling through pursed lips after passing the sticking point of the ascent. Ensure knees track over feet throughout the movement and lumbar spine never rounds into kyphosis (which may limit how deep the movement can be peformed).
3. Inhale and draw the navel in again before returning to the start position and repeating the movement with the exception of the inhalation which should now be performed in the standing position.

Bent-Over Row
1. Stand with feet pedal-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells or a bar with a supinated grip, chest out, shoulders back, navel in.
2. Soften the knees (approximately 20° bend), which makes the iliotibial band taut so that the gluteus maximus has a foundation off which to work. The glutes can then help share the load so that the back need not work in isolation.
3. Pivot forward at the hips so that the torso is positioned between 45 and 90° in relation to the legs. The angle should be dictated by the flexibility in the hamstrings—if the back starts to round or you lose your neutral lumbar and thoracic curves, you have bent over too much. Head should remain in neutral, too, (i.e., don’t look forward), to avoid shortening the sub occipitals.
4. Pull weight to chest while maintaining high elbows, pausing at the top of the movement. The forearms and wrist should remain perpendicular to the floor. Return the weight to start position and repeat for the designated number of reps.

Alternating Unilateral Bent-Over Row
1. Stand with feet pedal-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells with a supinated grip, chest out, shoulders back, navel in.
2. Soften the knees (approximately 20° bend).
3. Pivot forward at the hips so that the torso is positioned between 45 and 90° in relation to the legs. The angle should be dictated by the flexibility in the hamstrings—if the back starts to round or you lose your neutral lumbar and thoracic curves, you have bent over too much. Head should remain in neutral, too, (i.e., don’t look forward).
4. Pull non-dominant hand to chest while maintaining a high elbow and keeping the forearm and wrist should perpendicular to the floor. Return the weight to start position while simultaneously performing the exact same movement on the opposite side.
5. Repeat for the designated number of reps.

Alternating Unilateral Bent-Over Row on Bosu
1. Stand on a Bosu with feet pedal-width apart holding a pair of dumbbells with a supinated grip, chest out, shoulders back, navel in.
2. Soften the knees (approximately 20° bend).
3. Pivot forward at the hips so that the torso is positioned between 45 and 90° in relation to the legs. The angle should be dictated by the flexibility in the hamstrings—if the back starts to round or you lose your neutral lumbar and thoracic curves, you have bent over too much. Head should remain in neutral, too, (i.e., don’t look forward).
4. Pull non-dominant hand to chest while maintaining a high elbow and keeping the forearm and wrist should perpendicular to the floor. Return the weight to start position while simultaneously performing the exact same movement on the opposite side.
5. Repeat for the designated number of reps.

NOTE: The following exercises are the ones which should be utilized when the training program calls for “back extension” movements.

Twisting Back-Extension (on Ball)
1. Lie in the prone position (navel down) with arms above the head, palms down.
2. Inhale and lift the chest off the ground, rotating to the non-dominant side so that one shoulder is higher than the other. Lower body should remain relaxed with feet on the floor. Those whose lumbar curvature is excessive should concentrate on initiating the movement by squeezing the glutes first so that recruitment of the lumbar erectors is not excessive. Make sure chin stays tucked so that head is aligned with the rest of the spine to avoid shortening of the sub occipitals.
3. Lower chest back to the floor and perform the exact same movement in the opposite direction before repeating for the designated number of reps.
OR
1. Lie in the prone position on a physio ball with hands on the floor below the shoulders.
2. Inhale and lift the chest off the ball while simultaneously rotating to the non-dominant side. The non-dominant arm should swing down toward the legs and the dominant side should swing up above the head. Keep the lower body relaxed with feet on the floor. Those whose lumbar curvature is excessive should concentrate on initiating the movement by squeezing the glutes first so that recruitment of the lumbar erectors is not excessive. Make sure chin stays tucked and the head is aligned with the rest of the spine.
3. Lower chest back toward the ball and perform the exact same movement in the opposite direction before repeating for the designated number of reps.

Prone Cobra on Ball
1. Lie in the prone position on a physio ball with arms by the sides of the body, palms up.
2. Inhale and lift the chest off the ball, aiming to reverse the thoracic curvature while supinating the arms and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Keep the lower body relaxed with feet on the floor. Those whose lumbar curvature is excessive should concentrate on initiating the movement by squeezing the glutes first so that recruitment of the lumbar erectors is not excessive. Make sure chin stays tucked so that head is aligned with the rest of the spine to avoid shortening of the sub occipitals.
3. Hold for the designated period of time.

Reverse Hyper-Extension on Ball
1. Lie in the prone position on a physio ball with hands on the floor below the shoulders.
2. Inhale and lift the legs off the ground, aiming to get them perpendicular to the floor. Those whose lumbar curvature is excessive should concentrate on initiating the movement by squeezing the glutes first so that recruitment of the lumbar erectors is not excessive.
3. Return to start position and repeat for the designated number of reps.

Alternating Superman on Ball
1. Lie in the prone position with the navel in the center of the ball and the hands on the floor below the shoulders.
2. Inhale and lift the chest off the ground, aiming to reverse the thoracic curvature while supinating the arms and squeezing the shoulder blades together. Keep the lower body relaxed with feet on the floor. Those whose lumbar curvature is excessive should concentrate on initiating the movement by squeezing the glutes first so that recruitment of the lumbar erectors is not excessive. Make sure chin stays tucked so that head is aligned with the rest of the spine to avoid shortening of the sub occipitals.

Horse Stances (Vertical)
1. Get on hands and knees with hands directly beneath shoulders and knees directly beneath hips. Bend arms slightly at the elbow so that back is parallel to the floor. I recommend use of a dowel to ensure maintenance of a neutral spine. The dowel rod should touch the sacrum, the thoracic spine between the shoulder blades, and the back of the head.
2. Draw the TVA in toward the spine and activate the pelvic floor musculature. (Women: Perform a kegel. Men: Pull your testicles up toward your head.)
3. Lift one hand and the contralateral knee off the floor just enough to slip a piece of paper under it. If I were looking at you from the side, I should hardly be able to tell you’re moving at all.
4. Remain still, deviating neither side to side nor fore and aft, and hold this position for 5-10 seconds.
5. Repeat this procedure on the opposite sides, again holding for 5-10 seconds. Continue alternating sides for 8-10 reps each side.