Core Training from the Top Down: Why Swimmers Need Their Butts Off the Floor by Charlie Hoolihan (2011)


CHARLIE: Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Before it was easier to get a loan, we would be in good shape in this country, I think. I am a recovered swim coach, a coach for thirty years, all levels, beginner all the way to national guys. Never huge amounts of success like most of you guys in the room with all kinds of national champions and things, and I’m honored to be here. I got out of coaching in 2002 and acquired several certifications in personal training and became a trainer. The great thing about personal training as opposed to coaching, although kids are wonderful and lovely, nobody’s parents call you about their client, you know their kid is not losing enough weight, and so that’s my story and I appreciate you guys being here.

The topic today is Core Training from the Top Down: Why Swimmers Need their Butts Off the Floor, and pretty much in reality when you do core training or with anyone who’s doing core training, you want your butt off the floor. I would say, without exception, unless you say a body builder who really wants a lot of mass down there and you want to be able to define things… a little greater. People always ask me as a trainer, “What do I do to lose this?” I tell them, “Well, you exercise to lose this is… this”, because all of us in this room have a six pack. All of us in this room have ripped abs. Some of us though have coosies around that six pack, nicely insulated for chilling factor, and so that’s what we want to try to do is kind of go through it and talk about the core in terms of how it applies to swimmers and how it applies to everybody else.

So, core has been personalized as the whole– I hope you can see this gentleman here. He’s got his own personal stability ball and he’s able to balance his beer on the stability ball. And of course, the gentleman over there is probably an abdominal model, and they do have that, they have… The fact that there’s one freakish guy in the fitness business who has perfect abs, it might be this fellow right here, and his abs are ones you see on just about every men’s fitness magazine in the country. And which is kind of cool here, ladies because all your lives you’ve been–all these great images of what you’re supposed to look like on the cover of magazines, and now men get to have the same insecure feeling when they look at some freaks of nature who have their abdominals on the cover of a magazine.

I actually got this because, wow, this is pretty talented. The guy got his own six pack, he brought it with him. Google is an amazing thing. So one of the definitions of the core muscles… that’s a kind of sports medicine, my certification, calls it the muscles that make up the lumbar-pelvic hip complex which is all this stuff right here. Body minus the legs– arms and legs, which is Wikipedia. Balanced development of the deep and superficial muscles that stabilize and align, and move the trunk of the body, especially the abdominals and muscles of the back. Pilates leave it to the mind and body people to create a huge complicated thing out of something very simple, body minus the arms and legs.

Core is abdominals, glutes, lower back muscles, etc., and so forth on the Live Strong website, and that guy that always takes his shirt off whenever he has the opportunity, “My washboard road to paradise ladies. “ Okay. So that’s basically the definition of core muscles. Just good to run through a little bit of anatomy for you, all of that is correct and boy, it did wash a little bit here… Anyway, so if you can see this, what I’ve got is just some shots here of core muscles in the front, abdominals and then we’ve got on the side; we’ve got muscles on the side. We’ve got deep muscles inside that surround the spine, all of that is the core and takes away from that old traditional six pack that we’ve been used to looking at all the time.

And also, at the same time we have the back musculature now is finally coming into play in most popular magazines, Men’s Fitness, Women’s Fitness, Shape, they’re now saying, “Oh yeah, the back has something to do with the core too.” So anything that kind of surrounds the spine now is coming on and being promoted as core musculature and there’s all kinds of programs set up for it. The core is also something I…this is really… washed out. What I have right here as you can see, muscles that start at the foot and go all the way up through the leg, through the core and up to the head and the neck.

Back here, I’ve got muscles that start at the bottom of the foot going up through the calf, the hamstrings, the extensors of the spine, and all the way up to the head. When we talk about musculature and we talk about movement, swimming is a classic movement for this whole concept, is that everything is linked. It’s all linked systems from your toes all the way up to your head. You can get a headache because you have a tight calf, because everything is linked from the foot up via something called fascia. And when fascia flows from the head to the toe and it covers your muscles, what happens there is that you tug and you pull and you move that fascia in many different directions with muscles and muscle movement, good or bad, then you end up with strings moving in the directions that you’re pulling it.

So basically what I’d like you guys to take away from this is core is linked to all muscle systems, okay. Because something that happens down on one level can happen at the other. We have rotation muscles, we’ve got deep core muscles—again, all linked. And if you can see some of this right here where you have these deep muscles here that are covered by the quads and covered by the [indiscernible] [0:06:20] and six pack and all that, that’s way underneath that. Same thing over here with some rotational muscles. Same thing with muscles like the transverse abdominus deep within it, and along with the diaphragm, makes that up.

And the core is also multi-directional, as in incredible motion that occurs in many different directions, and those are considerations especially given that all sports are rotation sports, but swimming is a rotation sport unto itself. So now that we’ve kind of blathered out a little bit about the anatomy of it all, how are core muscles different in swimming? And you’ve kind of got to get it in your head, I’m sure you’ve already have if you swim personally, that your core musculature works different in swimming than it does running or playing tennis or something like that.

In land-based activities, you initiate your core by striking the foot to the ground. In swimming-based or water-based activities, you initiate the force of activity of your whole body by placing your hand in the water. So this motion here, the striking of the foot versus this motion here; the hand entry to the water and trying to apply enough force and anchoring to be able to engage everything down to your toes is completely different, so that makes you kind of think in terms of how this works.

And let me just talk a little bit about sports specificity. In the industry now there are some murmurings that are beginning to occur about what is sport specific, and especially when you’re trying to do things like gain strength or gain stability, or improve endurance; the sports specific activities that are traditional to weightlifting for sports, virtually all of them are not sports specific, even if you’re a football player doing a squat. I mean basically, yeah, you can see that going and you can see the muscles that work for blocking and tackling and things like that but however, you’re going up and down and you’re engaging muscles differently.

And so sports specificity has gotten a little bit of a different take on things, so as we talk more and more about exercises and things that you want to be aware of, you want to just take some key concepts that are going to be mentioned here and make sure that it applies to it, and then you go with it. You don’t have to find things that are exactly like swimming. They have, in a different force reaction, as I said. The force is also initiated by liquid and not a solid so that when you’re running you engage and you stay in one place, and then you flow over with that foot. I know in swimming your goal is to engage the water and flow directly over the water; however, it’s pretty impossible to maintain that because it’s a liquid surface.

And your force at the opposite end is anchored by a liquid as well and that applies in things with you swinging a bat that’s fairly solid, that’s something you can really hang on too, and that’s a different activity. So the chain of command starts at the hands comes down to the feet and you’re still anchored really solidly. You have two forces that equal in opposite ends that are in kind of an unstable situation. You can’t make that stable. You can try but can’t, especially the kick. Everybody knows the rapidity and the differences of people’s kicks and how they anchor, and basically it’s a whole wide variety of things, so that’s another key difference.

And next is that the upper chest, the thorax and its appendages: scapula, shoulders, ribs and the muscles that are attached there, they take on a whole different kind of definition and application of what’s going to happen with the force that’s being placed there, because usually when you’re a runner, or you’re swinging a tennis racket, or your golf club, that’s not your primary anchor. Your primary anchor is down here in the pelvis. In swimming, this thorax and these muscles up here now become exactly as important as the hip musculature does in running. So that’s kind of a second thing to think about, because it’s more and more important to be able to have your upper chest, and upper back muscles, and shoulder blade muscles and such, trained in a core-like fashion.

And again, there are different chain reactions, so I guess the one key thing is that… We mentioned this earlier, but after you anchor the ground with your foot, your opposite shoulder is involved in whatever next motion is going to happen. So when you anchor here in a ground-based activity, you anchor at your foot and your shoulder, opposite is applied. So you have your latissimus and the muscles back here that kind of have to cross over and be strengthened in a cross-over type of manner.

In swimming, however, you anchor here and all of a sudden that force comes all the way straight down this line to the hip. There’s no crossing over because your same shoulder and same hip are being applied to the forces that you’re looking at. So those are some key differences, so… But we can’t throw out dozens and dozens of exercises and say this is the most perfect exercise for swimming. However, you can take those concepts, what I need to strengthen from the hand to the foot and I need to be strong and stable, and apply that to any exercise that you look at.

Also, thinking about swimmers and changing the centers of gravity. Our center of gravity when we run is down here by the navel, and it shifts from individuals, an inch up or down or all around. For swimming, our big support is up here at the lungs. So you’ve got a whole different kind of center of gravity and gravity is completely different in the water than it is on land, so again, another key difference that we can all look at. Our targets that we’re trying to do, and at least convey in swimming, is that you want hand to hip stabilization first because that’s the big, big stable driver. If you’re weak from the hand, somewhere from the hand to the hip, you are initiating an entire inefficient hydrodynamic process; and then we’re also talking about trying to get on the water and staying in a linear plane.

Second thing is that your posterior chain, which is everything but behind me. From your scapula to your butt muscles, scaps to butt, all that becomes more important because that’s one of the muscles that keeps the hips in alignment. Those are the muscles that are holding you up on top of the water and while your front muscles are just kind of trying to balance right there. You also want to get lateral stability and strength, and you want to pick exercises that lengthen, strengthen and stabilize; and exercises that establish stable and symmetrical rotation. Everybody knows most swimmers, always breathes on one side. They’re stronger on that side than they’re stronger on the other, unless they have perfect symmetry and perfect discipline enough to come back from the right side breath and then really stretch over on that other side.

So everybody knows that and so you can’t get rotational and symmetrical stability if you always breathe on one side. So what we want to do is we want to get this thoracic spine area, shoulders and scapula upright and straight, so whatever core exercises that we’re doing, whether it’s a plank, a push-up or something on a stability ball, you want to see your swimmer’s head, shoulders, hips in perfect alignment, and this part being in an upright position. You want to try to avoid anything that makes internal rotation of the shoulders, because what you do in swimming is non-stop internal rotation with the exception of backstroke.

And then you want to have some scapular distance, you want to look at scapular activity so that your swimmers, who tend to always stretch and reach and pull those shoulder blades apart constantly, every single day, you want your exercises to do things to bring those shoulder blades back into being. I’m going to kind of do some demo here and we’ll let you guys take a look at that. Finally, one of the most important thing is your pelvis. You want a neutral pelvis. And if you’re looking at people and you see people with a sway back, and we’re looking at them when they’re doing whatever exercise, and the hips and the back are higher than the hips in the front, you have what’s called an anterior tilt, and we’ll show you what kind of problems occur…and again, symmetrical length and symmetrical strength.

So here’s that anterior tilt. Ah! There’s that anterior tilt. Its two straight lines, turquoise colored with an arrow, everybody got a clear picture of that? All right, good. The anterior tilt is exactly what I said. I’m going to stand up here and hopefully not fall over. Okay. And kind of redoing this for what I was just talking about. If my hips sink down this way and my hips come up this way, that’s called anterior tilt. And I have a really cool skeleton up there where the water line… that’s the water line right there. And when you have anterior tilt, what happens is that your butt sinks lower underneath the water than with a neutral pelvis. The neutral pelvis is where you kind of pull your hips up underneath you and you’re in a correct position. And again, I think when we get to the demonstrations you’ll get a better, clear idea of that. Yeah, the skeleton works.

Now this skeleton, if you can imagine a straight line coming through here, you can see that the chest goes deeper, the head is an extended position and all that. And where the abdominals and your core strength activities come into play is when you do… if you’re always doing core activities that are pulling in a hip flexion type of manner, what’s happening is that you’re pulling your chest down towards your hips and you’re pulling your hips back in that direction. So you’re actually creating a position that’s going to create negative hydrodynamics, and not only does this cause muscular issues, it also causes a certain amount of organ issues. If this is a relatively straight spine with a line curvature right here and this is the heart, and this the lungs right here, they’ll have all kinds of space to breathe and to pump blood, not to mention the lymphatic system and other organs, kidney, liver, spleen.

Here, as soon as you start bending over into a bent over position then you start squishing the heart; you have less space to breathe. And then in extreme positions in elderly people, I mean good gracious, they’re so bent over that there’s no room for any organs to take advantage of their natural ability to operate. Again, another wash up if we can move on. Let’s talk a little bit about the shoulder blades, and the scapula, and the part that holds on to the arms. Here is your shoulder blade. Here are the arms coming down right here. That’s a lot of weight. Right here is the only place where that scapula and the arms and shoulder blades attach… Right here, to your skeleton.

So that’s where you get your support. So if you have all of your muscle aspects trained so that you’re leaning forward here and your arms are right here, and you can see this a lot in bodybuilders. “Yeah, I am very strong.” But everything that’s here is leaning forward; they do so much internal rotation and so much flexion that everything begins to come here. And now you have this enormous amount of weight turning you forward, and that’s that the kind of thing that you want to avoid. You want to be able to get, again, get back into that posture.

And let’s look at a crunch. Okay. Here’s a crunch. Here’s that heart, lungs, ideal position… here you go, that’s your primary exercise, “Yes, I would like to decrease the ability of my lungs and heart to get oxygen delivered to the muscles. It’s a girl, I mean there is hypoxic training, but you’d rather just have them swim a few laps holding their breath than have to walk around like this. And think about it guys, and I’ll talk about this in flexibility a little bit more, but think about it. Think about what you’re doing right now. We live like this. This is not how we want to swim, but unfortunately we, and you kids and athletes live like that. And when you live like that, to come to here, and to here, and to here, and to here, that’s your core emphasis. This is done every single day; carrying a backpack, operating Game boy, working at a computer, etc.

Muscle weaknesses work in opposition. If somebody has a hip issue, a shoulder issue, a knee issue or an ankle issue… right ankle issue, well whatever you do to compensate that and in whatever manner can create that kind of a crisscross strength/weakness standpoint.

Going back to breathing on one side, boom! I’m anchoring here. I’m taking my breath to the left. I am pressing here. Every other stroke that I take, I am activating. This is my best rotation here. Your obliques, and your abs, and your lats are ten times– well, let’s call it two times stronger because your order is coming back here. Everybody knows that when you get tired, you’re “Ah! I’m really pressing here” and I’m like, “uh… Okay breath here! Uh! Breath!” So you’re always strong on the opposite side of your breath because you’re always engaging that. And again, it’s kind of an argument to come back and… Make them do bilateral breathing, again that’s, and this is what ends up happening. Good. You saw that.

Holler at me if I’m saying something completely absurd and looking at something that you can’t see. Okay. So sport quest principles in swimming, you want to lengthen… And again, we said rotational stability and stability against rotation because when you rotate, whether it’s golf or tennis or swimming or baseball, yeah, you’ve got to rotate. Pow! Here or here, but at the same time when you rotate, at some point you’ve got to have some muscular activity, Isometric or stabilizing activity that can stop this motion efficiently. So when you take a breath, you don’t want to completely rotate and lose all your rotational—you know you don’t want to lose that and continue to rotate over on to your back obviously.

So those muscular dynamics and activity that go on there, that is also training that kind of stability against rotation itself. And you want to get some dynamic isometrics to create stability, and we’ll look at that in a second. You want your hand driver to be in a place for your whole body; you want your hip drivers, the gluteals to be in place, and you want to choose exercises that create stability between the hand and the foot. Things that will, while you anchor your hands, anchor your elbows, anchor your arms, and then anchor feet or your knees somewhere in the middle where there’s a force direction coming from your hand all the way through to either your knees or your feet. And again, back to sport specificity, we can’t create total sport specificity for swimming on dry land. Obviously just by saying dry land, you’ve lost all sport specificity. But can create systems and situations where you strengthen areas that become stronger in there.

Okay. So in swimming, going back to the whole argument against the crunch, in swimming you lengthen you don’t shorten. You’re trying to lengthen your body. You’re trying to get it as much of yourself stretched out as you can. Let’s talk about lengthening and shortening. Can I have everybody to stand up please? “Oh God, I feel – after lunch, I’ve got to move around!” [Audience laughing] Okay. Let’s talk about the crunch, and what I want you to do is I want you to kind of gently bend over and push in at your stomach muscles. Gently bend over and push on against your stomach muscles. Follow the rock hard, washboard channel of love. All right. Go ahead. That was a tough sandwich, all right, stand up! Now, reach your hand up over your head like you’re taking a stroke. Now touch your abdominals. Oh! The rock hard channel of love is right there, baby! Okay. So you see where the tension is so much greater when you’re in that extended position, right? And that’s what you’re looking for; you’re looking for the tension here. This motion, even in the flip turn is not stimulated by your abdominals for the greatest amount of it. That motion is stimulated by your ability to get your back half in and to get your flip. Again another argument or another validation for core work in the back part of your body as much as your front, all right.

Stay where you are. I’m not done yet. Let’s talk about [Indiscernible][0:24:22.8], and bracing, and anchoring your pelvis. What I’d like for you to do is place your hands on your stomach, on that six pack– coosied or not, hand on your back muscles. So do you feel those muscles right there? I do. All right. So what I want you to do now is I want you to clear your throat, [Clearing throat noise] Good. Good. When you did that every single time you followed up that [Indiscernible][0:24:51.5], the lap down of the core musculature, correct? All right. So when you do that, you immediately are doing abdominals. Now let’s go ahead and clear your throat and with the end of that clearing, I want you to hold on to that musculature. [Clearing throat noise] Okay.

And now hands at your side. You’re still braced. I’m doing abs all day long. Okay. You’re doing the abs, you’re braced. Now the key and the hard part here is to teach yourself how to lap, and instead of looking like this… [Audience laughing] I’m braced but I have to go to the bathroom. [Audience laughing] Okay. To be able to lap anchored like that, all right. And the second thing is, which you can also do… We have more stuff to do guy so stay standing up. It’s not going to be that hard. All right. What you want to do is you want to be able to stay braced, and in the latter, you can teach your kids the importance about core muscles by doing this. I used to do what I call a” fat man swimming”; it’s easier to pick on a fat man than a fat woman. I’m sorry.

[Indiscernible][0:25:54.6], all right. The fat man swimming, and basically that’s just swim with your belly poking out, for half a length, okay. And then when you get halfway at the halfway part of the pool, draw in, pull your belly in, engage your musculature. There we go boink! The back half will come over, they’ll go “Oh my God Coach, you are a genius!” And that will give you eight more credibility towards… This is why we’re doing a plank, these planks, and push-ups, and things like that. All right, let’s talk about that pelvis, and I want you to do is first sit down quickly and I’m going to show what I want you to do against the wall. And if you can lap start… Uh!

AUDIENCE1: Sorry about that.

CHARLIE: Go ahead. I know I should’ve brought wireless. Again, going back to training yourself to do abdominals and doing core work, again, you can do it all day long. So what we want to do is when I get you to come off of the… out into the volunteer scenario, or into the willing participant scenario. We’re going to come out and put heels against the wall, butt against the wall, shoulder blades against the wall, head against the wall. And remember the positional phase that we talked about, straight spine, pelvic tilt and all that. So we’re going to be in this position. I’m going to ask you to come right here against the wall, and you can take turns. I’m going to ask you to pull your back into the wall, kind of close that gap. There will be a gap right here on your lower spine. Some may have what’s called a posterior tilt and you may put your back and everything against it and be flat as a board right there. That’s a whole other scenario that we could spend a lot of time on but we won’t… today.

All right. So you’re going to be here, here, and here. Heels, butt, head, shoulder blades. Draw in like that. Okay. We’re going to draw in and then what I’d like you to do is just hold that position and bring your hands up here and hold that position. It’s not as easy as it looks. So if you can come and find a place on the wall, and take turns if there’s not enough room, see what your heels, your butt, your shoulder blades, your head against the wall and then use one hand to kind of put your hand behind your back. Right there. Use one hand to find the small of your back and to see how much space there is. If there’s a huge gap right there, baby got back. You’ve got a big-ass back right there, all right. So you’ve got to pull that up underneath you a little bit and close that distance and then put your hands up, feel how much harder that now becomes, that has a whole change of dimension but when your hands come back to that position, then you’re yanking on your core abdominal. This whole lap, about ten seconds, engage, engage! Hold that for about ten seconds. All right. Good. And then let somebody else try that on the last… there you are. We have a couple more things to talk about against the wall.

[Pause] [Background noise]

CHARLIE: All right. Now that’s tougher than it seems, eh? So heels, butt, shoulder blades, head, against the wall, draw in, close that gap and pull against there. Yes?

AUDIENCE2: Feet together? Feet apart? Feet, shoulder, what, or hip with the parts…

CHARLIE: Yeah. Hands and hit with the part, yeah. Good.


CHARLIE: Roughly. All right. Everybody got that? Next, we’ve got another thing to do. Okay. So that shows you that you can do core, again, all day long. You need to engage and stay tall and stay drawn in, and engaged. Secondly, what it tells you is that it’s hard. That’s tough, I mean taking our day-to-day activities. All right, let’s do another thing. Let’s turn around and put your hands on the wall, step about a foot away from the wall put your hands up as high as you can. Now press against the wall and with your spine and hips, as strong as you can, just place your body right into the wall, feel your hands… feel your hands…feel your shoulders all the way through the abdominals, all the way through the hips. Okay.

Do you get what I’m saying here about that hand driver? Essentially, a swimmer’s body is an entire core muscle. All right, good. Now before you leave, turn and lean into the wall with one hand. Okay. Same thing, lean into it with one hand like that. Again, you feel that whole press from the hand all the way in. That’s the important… Do the other side. Other side. And this is stuff you can show your kids, or adults… All right, good. All right. Good. Now, come back to that front position that you were in. Front position. Okay. Now come back up and hold your hands in the air and keep your hands off the wall. Hands off the wall about three inches. Now bring about three inches close to the wall and then just kind of fall into it and feel that engagement, boink! And push yourself off. Do that about ten times.

[Chanting] [Audience laughing]

All right. Got it? All right. And let the whole audience get a chance to do that, do that please. And also lengthening… if you all would just repeat that… wonderful, okay. So that’s the kind of exercise, or the kind of muscle activity that we’re looking to feel. Are we lengthening or are we shortening? And I think we’ve actually answered that question for everybody… in a big enough detail. All right. Good. Lengthening or shortening. Okay. Here we have younger kids who don’t have that control, they’re wigglers, They’re not lengthening or short; they’re trying to wiggle and all kinds of things.

So we talked about what we’re going to do with core stuff, and when you start off with getting that hand to foot driver, and where you start off with that is in things like planks and push-up position exercises. Everybody knows what a plank is? [Indiscernible][0:32:22.6]. This is what I call a plank, an [Indiscernible][0:32:25.0] to front position, push-up is hands to foot position, all right. So what you want when you’re looking at a plank and a push-up, these guys are what you do to start your swimmers off to create stability, because I could put a cripple… you know somebody that has some kind of neuro-muscular disease on a stability ball, and they would try their hardest to do the exercise but it wouldn’t be stable and in the right direction; because there are all kinds of neuromuscular disturbances going on with the internal muscle structure that don’t allow them to be stable in certain directions.

The same thing occurs when you put a sixteen year old boy who has grown six inches in the last month, you put them on a stability ball and stability is the last thing they’re going to have. They’re just getting used to figuring out what that longer spine is doing. “Oh look at this, my arms are now longer and I’m out of my… I’m changing clothes rapidly and clothes sizes…” So you want to be able to make sure that your athletes can do a plank or push-up position with a neutral with no anterior tilt, which is this one as we’ve talked about; and no posterior tilt, which is your butt kind of sliding up underneath you and doing the Mr. Natural walk. I was just trying to… age check thing. Sir?

AUDIENCE3: Ten second pulses, what does that mean?

CHARLIE: What that means is, reading ahead, okay. What that means is that this is a new concept in planking. Not the planking craze, but the new concept is most core stability is needed during movement. [Clearing throat noise]. I’m now doing core, but I’ve got to know how to stay stable in movement. So instead now of… I’m going to do a plank for 5 minutes and watch television– instead now some of the back and abdominal, and training experts are saying is, “you want to do pulses,” you want to do things where you’re, boom! Hold 5, 10 seconds, relax, release, boom! 5, 10 seconds … You do that for about a minute, or two minutes, or three minutes, and that seems to be a little more, it does it… For me, with swimming is also applicable because, [Clearing throat noise][0:34:48.6] I am still going like this for three minutes. For swimmers, no. We’re like this. So you have that ever-changing shifting of balance from one set of abdominals and back muscles to the other. So you want to be able to have your core musculature respond to being tense in some scenarios and release and others. Yes?

AUDIENCE4: But you don’t drop to your knees to…?

CHARLIE: Well, yeah, you could drop… Yeah, you would drop to your knees to release. Yeah. You don’t want to drop and to hit a pelvic…

AUDIENCE4: No, but I mean, so you’re not staying up in the plank position than just…

CHARLIE: The question is, as I understand it, is that you start in the plank position and then you hold for 10 seconds, and then you drop to your knees and release, then come back up. And whatever break that you want to impose upon the whole situation. And it does become taxing by the second or third minute, and you don’t get into those negative scenarios where you get the pelvis to be out of position. Okay. So once the strength and stability is established throughout the spine, throughout the hips and you’ve got them clear on what they’re doing, at that point you then add movement to it, Okay. We’ll look at a few things in a second, but you’re not moving to it, whether you hold your hands like this or lift your legs up in a plank or push-up position. Here’s a hand weight, do this with the hand weight. Here’s a hand way, do this with a hand weight… all kinds of things that create stability. That’s when you start adding movement to it. It’s stability before mobility… stability before mobility. Okay. Again, we could put a dancing panda on a ball and they would not be that stable.

Then you want to start, when you add that movement to it, you do kind of a distinct web count pattern where they’re doing, whether it’s… I’m holding a hand way, I’m doing a two count up and then bringing it down slowly; two count up and then bringing it down slowly, because every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Every muscle action needs to have an equal and opposite muscle action to have that stability and that motion to be sound. When you do things really, really fast, so you see the kids trying to get through, their exercise is really fast, just say, “Hey, just do five but do it really, really slow. Don’t do 20 if it’s too hard to do.” Okay? Does it make sense? All right. Then you can move on to bands, single long, single leg combos, stability balls, less table equipment like TRXs and stability balls… And again, you’re going to establish the stability now. Okay, I’m on a stability ball, can you hold the plank steady for — in push-up position steady on that stability ball before you start moving it. That’s your question each time. You can establish their stability on the stability ball. And then… same thing there.

Okay, let’s talk about variations of push-up and variations on a plank. We’ll do a low core assessment for everybody in the room that can find a spot. What we’re going to do here is we’re going to find a spot… If you could make sure I don’t pull the entire table down when I do this. All right. We’re going to find a spot and we’re going to get into all fours, hands and knees and I’m going to ask you to do what’s called the “board dog,” and that’s a pretty basic core analysis. Can you hold steep stability with the opposite arm up and the opposite foot up? Then we’re going to try the same thing… can you hold the same side, and this is the… Look, this is easy over here. The opposite from my normal breathing pattern… Yeah! Boom! I can do that! Bring that over here on the other side, [Speaker noise][0:38:46.0].

All right. So I want you to try that on your own, find a spot to be in a push-up position. I’ll stand here and… so few… certainly is optional. Try first opposite hand, opposite foot. You’ve got to engage your glutes and your scapula, so you lift your legs with your butt and you lift your arms with your shoulder blades. Okay. Try it in opposition. Good. [Background conversation] And this, on the next side, does that correlate with your breathing side? Oh. Yeah. Very good. [Background Conversation] All right. Nice! We’ve got a few [Indiscernible][0:39:37.7]. All right, pretty good. All right. So you got that. Stay where you are or just stand up and kind of look. So I’m kneeling [Indiscernible] [0:39:51.8] an assessment with your push-up position, you’re in a push-up position… If I go up in a hay of electricity the paramedics go in… comes back. [Audience Laughing] Somebody will pull him off this thing. So I’m in push-up position here, trying to get everything situated, and you kind of walk it up, still in a good position. Walk it up, still in a good position. Okay, then I’ll walk up, [Speaker noise][0:40:17.3]. That’s tough. Now it’s tough.

Now I’m going to drop my hips so bad so that I can get out of that pressure in my chest and all that, but it’s another way of assessing the strength. Kids… You’ve got kids that are strong getting into good pelvic tilt, then you can get in, just kind of walk their push up out. And the further out they get, shows you how strong they are in that lengthened position. Yes Ma’am?

AUDIENCE 5: Isn’t that how you control those things?

CHARLIE: If you have bad shoulders, yeah.

AUDIENCE 5: You put pressure on the shoulders?

CHARLIE: Yeah. Yeah, it does. It does. But, I mean, again, that’s the whole thoracic and abdominus.. so the whole strengthening thing that you look at. If you’ve got kids with shoulder issues, no, don’t’ have then do that but only if it hurts them. Anytime they say pain, then yeah, listen to them. All right. So go and stand up if you’d like. Sir?

AUDIENCE6: So, when you get to that degree position, is that when you want to hold or is that where you want to not go any further or…?

CHARLIE: Yeah, you can hold that position as an exercise. Spot, Nice dismount! [Audience laughing] Yeah?

AUDIENCE 7: One of my kids just…

CHARLIE: Can’t [Indiscernible][0:41:26.4]. Yeah, that can be an exercise. Walk it up, walk it back. Walk it up, walk it back. And as they get a little stronger then you can see that.

AUDIENCE 8: And also when you lift it up, is there a plus or a minus to how high you’re going or you might keep…

CHARLIE: Yeah. You want a nice straight line, just like we talked about.

AUDIENCE 8: Get your foot high in the end.

CHARLIE: Yeah, just lined up… everything from hand to foot. You can draw a straight line over. A couple of questions about the plank and the push-up assessment, what’s your goal at the walk-out, the push-ups? The goal is to keep in a good position and it becomes an exercise too. Assessments can be exercises. The other question was, with the “bird dog” position, how high do you go? You want it to be linear, okay. There’s no reason for the hand and the foot to be like that in swimming that I know of, except an awful butterfly. [Audience Laughing] Okay? Is that…? Yeah, good… Okay, are we good? Thanks! I think that should be… We’ve got a few more things so if you’re ready willing and able.

[Background noise]

Okay. Side plank. Here’s an exercise that is routinely abused. Anything on the side, it’s kind of routinely done incorrectly. I can stay on my side or I can do planks– I can do obliques on my stability ball for hours. Yeah, but are you doing them in line? Okay. If you get into a side plank you want your feet to be on top of each other, and then you want to check it out. My feet, my knees, my hips, my shoulder, my head is all in a straight line between that. Then you get into the plank. And the head is something that always goes wrong, and then it goes down to here. It comes to here. It comes to here. It becomes a totally different exercise when you change that direction. What we’re trying to do with a side plank is that we are trying to get in a position where you have linear strength in swimming from your hand all the way down to your feet, or in this case elbow all the way down to your feet.

When you shift here, you lose that stimulus of the internal and external obliques. I’m emphasizing external obliques here, internal obliques here, vice versa, I can’t even remember or here, now they’re lined up. Now you can make this an exercise and movement from that as an exercise, but at the same time you want to make sure that they get the stability before mobility with a side plank, in a straight line so you know they’re stimulating the muscles in a proper manner. Anybody want to try that? Go ahead. Just about four or five seconds on that.

AUDIENCE 9: Do you start from the down position?

CHARLIE: You’re in the down position, then you kind of check out your alignment… Good. Now there’s an exercise. No dismount like that last one now. [Laughing] Okay, good. You can lift your hands up, you can put a dumb bell on that hand… you know, very nice. Nice alignment. If they have a hard time feeling this, put their heels, their butt and their head gently resting against the wall; not resting but feeling the wall so that they know they’re in alignment. Those two positions, front plank, side plank, front push-up, side push-up provide you with a huge array of exercises, a huge amount of exercises you can do within that framework.

AUDIENCE 10: Charlie?


AUDIENCE 10: Side push-ups?

CHARLIE: Pardon?

AUDIENCE 10: You said front push-ups, side push-ups…

CHARLIE: Well side plank…

AUDIENCE 10: Oh sorry.

CHARLIE: Yeah, front side… Yeah, that’d be tough.

AUDIENCE 11: Charlie, would you pulse on that too, would you….

CHARLIE: Yeah, yeah. Pulsing, moving… Yeah, exactly, once you get stability it’s kind of unlimited to the proper motion that you can add to it. Yes?

AUDIENCE 12: So you form that like Spiderman walk…
CHARLIE: Spiderman walk, yeah. Perfect! Again, that’s a variation of the push-up. Bomp, bomp, bomp… You’re on the floor, you’re moving back and forth… Adding the motion is great. Again, everything… and I… coming up, I’ll just show, I went online and just pulled up as many planky things and stuff. You can go online and find all kinds of stuff to do it, anything that kind of makes things move. Here are some examples up here if you can… Yeah, good. All right, you’ve got a plank and a push-up position. Plank position, you’re moving your legs, moving your hands… cinnamon bob Spiderman… push-up where you’re moving back and forth… Sir?

AUDIENCE 13: What about, I don’t know, how’s the term ”reverse plank,” shoulders and feet, but feet down up to a 90 degree…

CHARLIE: Right on… Yes, reverse plank is again also critical because you’re getting that posterior core. You do actually on your back, head back and lifting up, or you’re on your hands and lifting up, which is either good or bad for the shoulders depending upon how flexible and strong they are. Okay. Side plank was what we talked about a second ago… That’s not even visible at all, is it? Okay. Is there a light switch back there?

AUDIENCE 14: Yeah, they should turn that down.

AUDIENCE 15: It’s right behind the screen.


[Background conversation]

CHARLIE: No, it still doesn’t come up. If you’re coming back to the next ones, I have dark backgrounds on the rest of the presentations.

AUDIENCE 14: Yeah, you could turn it down a little.

CHARLIE: Yeah. I didn’t have a choice on that matter. Okay. But we did chat enough about it. Okay here’s our… front activity here, the… kind of the cobra that brings you back into that upright position, motions like that. And we’re going to go into this in a little more detail in the flexibility section at the end, the last session of this.

Bird dog, quadruped variations. If you can see that, we’re in the push-up position doing the bird dog and changing it up. Here, the gentleman’s on a stability ball doing that. Again, stability before mobility, okay. More stability ball exercises, now that you’ve got your athletes balanced and engaged you could put them on a ball with moving around a little bit. But again, this cartoon character is very straight and stable as most cartoon characters are, except for the ones on Family Guy. [Audience laughing]

All right. Here we’re doing a pull-over stimulating the shoulder blades and the upper core a little bit.

AUDIENCE 16: Which means it’s in the center of gravity, right?

CHARLIE: Yeah, changing the center of gravity. Medicine ball stuff… Okay. Medicine ball stuff, to me I love… there’s a ton of stuff online but this is the one that… two or three that seem to apply more to swimming, where you’re standing on the wall, boom! And this is in a book Swimming Anatomy, I think, which is a good book by the way. A gentleman was really good… I got some stuff off of that, but you press it in, push, push, push… One hand, boom, boom, boom, where you’re pushing against the med ball. Short distance, you’re just standing, almost like when we were standing there a little while ago, just pop, pop, pop, just to get that initial response and to allow the body to respond to press.

There’s something called an anticipatory muscle effect where, before you even touch the water, your muscles are getting ready to touch the water. After so much repetition they’re already doing the thing that’s designed to be happening, so that kind of helps improve that a little bit. Lateral motion… The one over here is probably one of the only true plyometrics for swimming, as close as you can get, where you get a buddy to stand and you’re on your back and boom, throwing it… trying to throw it out a steep distance and you’re getting that plyometric effect throughout the upper shoulder.

You don’t want to do plyometrics with weight. This is the explosive technique here. Let’s say for example, I was doing a bench press for plyometrics, I know it’s not core, but if you push that weight and then catch it, the catch is a whole other response. That’s a decelerating mode. The purpose of plyometrics is to get that acceleration and stimulate that acceleration that you don’t get typically from when you’re in the water. It actually slows you down. Running in sand, that’s what they found with runners. If you ran in sand too much, it actually made you slower because you can’t [Clapping] pop off and get that plyometric response.

AUDIENCE 14: So you’re saying with holding let’s say a dumb bell and going out and in is not the response…

CHARLIE: No, holding a dumb bell and just doing pure strength activity, that’s another story.

AUDIENCE 14: I’m just saying, like if you have a weight in each hand and you’re going out and in like you’re jabbing?

CHARLIE: Boom. Yeah, like jabbing. Well, that’s a shoulder exercise. I wouldn’t call that plyometric, I’d call that more strengthening.

AUDIENCE 14: It tends to slow you down though, right? I mean in speed…

CHARLIE: Weight training, yeah. We’re asking questions about how different exercises create a slowing down response. Yes, strength training by itself, that is because you have to be very deliberate and very slow with whatever you’re doing if you’ve got a lot of weight, or even a little weight. It tends to make you a touch slower, and what you do is you bring in plyometrics to make yourself faster. So when we’re talking about plyometric activity, you want to make sure that there’s no deceleration mode. It’s just… Yes, sir?

AUDIENCE 17: Do you exercise, like doing up there, don’t you have acceleration as…

CHARLIE: Down here? Yeah. But, he’s taking it from here and throwing it like that. He’s not catching it and bringing it back here. We’re doing a straight actual throw and then it’s… every time, this is the throwing activity throwing activity, you’re not catching it and bringing it back. Right.

AUDIENCE 17: Okay. I see. The left side, I thought that was throwing it against the wall, having it bounce back…

CHARLIE: Oh it is, yeah it is… But I’m talking about the exercise where the gentleman’s on the floor, and that turns more into strength but the other one? Yeah, you could do it. You can stand right here throw it… Okay. And then you can pick it up again and throw it in the standing position and create a plyometric effect. Okay. I didn’t mean to get off on that tangent but…

AUDIENCE 14: That’s a good point though.

CHARLIE: Yeah. The point, I guess is a lot of people will do exercises where they have a lot of weight and jump up, let’s say. Well that’s great. You’ve got to expose the part of the weight, but right here, now everybody goes, “[Indiscernible] [0:52:41.9]”, and that creates a whole stopping, slowing deceleration effect.

AUDIENCE 14: Probably when you’re doing a sit up and you catch it, take it back and sit up and throw it again, right?

CHARLIE: What did I say about sit ups?

AUDIENCE 14: I know, but I’m just saying…half sit up.

CHARLIE: Yeah. All right. Band and suspension training. The bands here… I don’t know if you can see… We’re trying to stimulate scapula core and it is this exercise here; a T, a Y, an X–any kind of motion, one arm motion where you’re pulling back here from the core to stimulate that posterior position. Here, what I’d like to see is a band right here where this arrow is, and a band right here. So now you’ve got boom, boom, boom. You’re stimulating core through that manner and same side, like that. Here’s another exercise, getting up as straight as you can. Here is the band from the back, a band down from the hand to the toes is being stimulated whether you’re standing in front of the band or standing behind the band.

AUDIENCE 18: Can you start that last one again?

CHARLIE: Show it.

AUDIENCE 18: What you just said ten seconds ago.

CHARLIE: Ten seconds ago… The band… This one on the left, we’re in this position coming up, up… like that. The band is either right here in front of me… [Background noise] Will you do this for me? Hold both hands. Let’s sit on the front; I got to be a volunteer. All right. So hold your hands up over your head, as high as you can. Pull, pull against it, and get up on your toes. So you see the force there, good. Now turn around and face that way… and upon your toes. Okay, there are two different forces, all right. See you want to use that band and these are like coming up and down like that, in a kind of mobility motion.

AUDIENCE 19: Do you find the same, with the two-beam as like a fair band? Do you have a preference?

CHARLIE: I like the two-beam because it looks cool. [Audience laughing] No. [Laughing] You know how kids are…

AUDIENCE 20: You know someone…

CHARLIE: Let’s just say I grab this handle… You don’t know what they’re going to grab and it’s just right there and I can attach it… I can attach it and leave it up. It is more expensive, but you know. Anything you can… you can make your core function with any kind of exercises or modalities… Anyway, I’m going to show you the big wamma jamma in a sec.

Band exercises, that’s just… again same kind of principle. The stability ball exercises… You can’t see it but there’s a ball underneath all those people. They’re suspended in mid-air. [Audience Laughing]

AUDIENCE 21: I was going to say, that core is really good.

CHARLIE: I’ll tell you what, you know I’m looking up some of this stuff, I found thing called Swimming in Space, like literally space and there was a whole thing about how astronauts try to gyrate their body to get anti gravity, just to be able to swim with no gravity, which was pretty interesting. I couldn’t figure anything out from it though.

Okay, again, there’s a ball involved there somewhere. Those hands and feet, you know, being attached… Movement… There are some stability balls! All right. Again, posterior stuff, glutes. This is what’s lifting the back up. It’s not the back. Follow the butt to lift your back up. Follow your shoulder blades to lift your arm up. When you start bringing in the back muscles, which some of those back muscles are designed specifically just for stability… If you bring movement into it then that changes things, more posterior, more posterior…

And there’s the oblique on a ball, or oblique at an angle… Again, you’re trying to align things up… Oops, backwards. All right. When I got out of coaching and got into training, I discovered something called “functional training” and now probably everybody’s heard of it and that was it 2002. And functional training basically is doing exercises that are related to function, whatever function you’re doing. It all came about through physical therapy and occupational therapy. Guys and gals getting in to the training industry and teaching us how to do things that made more sense than bench press or squats all the time or bicep curls and crunches, that may or may not have had any basis in actual reality, or what’s going on. So if you’re going to do exercises where you pick things up, “Oh yes, this functional training. I’m learning and I’m doing my core through there.”

In 2005, TRX or Fitness Anywhere came up and developed suspension training. At that point I thought, because as I was a big dry land guy with my swimmers, that’s what happens when your coach is a sprinter. I was a huge dry land guy, so when this came out I was like, “Oh my God! This is like the most perfect thing for swimming. It applies…” I’m not getting paid for this, but it applies for all the things that we’ve been talking about today with suspension, hands, and your core; from your hands to your feet. How many of you guys have seen this? This TRX is great. How many of you guys use them? Nice. Nice. Do you just love them, you feel like, “Oh!” And there’s an incredible amount of stuff that you can do. If you haven’t seen them, this is exactly what we’ve been talking about. Hand to foot. Everything right now is a core exercise for me, hand to foot, and whatever you’ve got going on, whatever you’re trying to accomplish, whether you’re trying to get anterior core and you’re trying to get things happening from the hands to the hips… Okay, you put your feet at them, change the whole direction of things, that it’s an incredible exercise and highly recommended… highly recommended, a hundred and eighty nine bucks for one. That’s a lot, but… you know.

If you want it you can get the gymnast rings, some gymnast rings and do the same kind of thing. It doesn’t have to… and they’re now making lower-end models that just have handles. It‘s gotten big since like 2005 when they came out. So it’s an incredible, incredible modality. I’ve got two set up down here and two set up down there if you want to play it out then go ahead and play. This is where it’s coming from the foot… This is a pick in one hand up here. The push-up position stability before mobility, if that butt is down to the floor, you’ve accomplished nothing; you’ve trained them to swim like that. If you’ve got them right there, like that and walking out doing spiders, or the walk outs or things like that, and the tension and stability is great then that’s another ball game right there entirely.

Again, you can do it obliquely, you can do anterior… I think that’s what you were talking about a second ago, and exercise… Parking is applicable to swimming, suspension, back anterior training, and puppy training. Always put an animal in to your presentation. [Audience Laughing] Start easy as a puppy and work up to harder exercises. You guys were really, really good. You got the demo… I’m going to get… Here are just some researches, out there in the …And they didn’t pay me to say this, in the [ask a table] [1:01:09.6], they have a dry land course, which has a lot of exercises in it. There’s a book, Swimming Anatomy, I don’t know if it’s out there. Total immersion… that whole total immersion concept where you’re trying to get in a position where you’re looking to get in proper hydrodynamic balance, this is all about getting into aquatic balance. It’s to stimulate those stabilizing muscles.

There’s a DVD out there, laps, it was on when I walked in. I went, “Oh my God! I know those people!” Grif Fig is from Louisiana. He’s working with Carlos Santana, which is one of the very first big functional training guys, and they have a DVD. I can’t vouch that I’ve seen it, but I saw some of the exercises and Juan Carlos is pretty right on with the things he’s says; as is Vern Gambetta and Ernest Maglischo, and then there’s Google! That’s all I did, Google “plank exercise, medicine ball…” You can look up things, but just think about it in terms of the principles that we’ve talked about. What is a bench presser or something on a ball? Am I stimulating that hand top driver to down driver position? Am I coming from the top down because that’s where the force is coming from? Not that leg things are bad, you dive up or actually push off walls, but the majority of time in the stability, you’re trying to get from the hand to the feet.

Here’s my email if you have any questions. You can certainly email me and I’ll be glad to answer them, if obviously… We’ll answer questions in a second but; I’ll try to get to you right after this conference. All right, I appreciate your patience. If anybody has any questions before you rush out of there…Yes?

AUDIENCE 22: As far as building up strength first moving to mobility, once you’ve developed a certain amount of strength and mobility in your swimmers, what can you come back to maintain, while you’re moving on other stuff?

CHARLIE: Well, you can do core work all your life. It’s not like lifting weights and periodizing your weights. You can certainly make it more intense and less intense. If you have the time and you have the ability, you could do it three or four times a week, 20 minute sessions. Work on your obliques one session; work on rotation in another session. There are certainly a lot of ways you can do that, but yeah, you can do it all year.

AUDIENCE 23: There’s no need to cut back the time?

CHARLIE: There’s no… Yeah, there’s no need… I don’t think just need to cut back in time unless, unless it’s just purely, I mean this is some intense stuff. Yes?

AUDIENCE 24: The stuff with the transverse axis where you’re trying to, when you anchor a stroke and you’re trying to anchor it to the opposite…


AUDIENCE 24: You do a lot of that stuff, like when you did the pointers you do, the pointers on the opposite side, that helps to work that or what?

CHARLIE: Yes and no. The question is when you’re trying to anchor from your hand to your hip, do you do the opposite tug motion with the planks and things. You roll out that same side to be stimulated because that’s the side when you reach into you… Yeah, you‘re trying do that opposite side.

AUDIENCE 24: Okay.

CHARLIE: the crossover ones were done to see where they are right now. If they can’t do that whew! You’ve got to get them that first.

AUDIENCE 24: All right. Great.

CHARLIE: All right…

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