Working Out Without Weights
Last year, after losing my job in the Internet world, I decided that it was time for a change of scenery. Within a month, I packed my bags and moved to Santa Monica, CA. While looking for a new apartment, I decided to take some time off from my kettlebell routine, and focus on bodyweight exercises such as: handstand pushups, pistols, janda sit-ups, and the gymnastic bridge. (Of course, I did not have much of a choice since I did not have any kettlebells with me) I had never really worked on the gymnastic bridge before and soon began to really enjoy it.
In addition, to stretching out my spine and working just about every muscle in my body, it had a really nice tonic effect and gave me a nice energy boost. I decided to do the gymnastics bridge every morning. After a week, I was up to holding the gymnastic bridge for three minutes using one arm at a time.
Once I got settled into my new place, I ordered some kettlebells and resumed my training. To my surprise, the strength in my left shoulder on presses had dropped dramatically. Before, I moved to CA, I was doing kettlebell military presses with two 70lbs kettlebells for sets of five. Now, for some reason, I could not even do one rep on my left side. When I tried to push through it, it hurt like hell. I was shocked and had no clue what happened during my two-week layoff. Any athlete that is used to a certain level of strength knows how frustrating it is to experience a sudden drop in strength. I was expecting to be refreshed and stronger after my two-week layoff and was instead much weaker.
I decided to lay off the presses for a while and work on other exercises with the hope that my shoulder would just get better on its own. Well to make a long story short, it did not get better and my frustration increased. Fortunately my luck was about to change.
The Effects Of Adding New Exercises
A few months after moving to Santa Monica, I flew to VA to do strength & conditioning workshop in Alexandria. For whatever reason, I did not do the gymnastic bridge. One day I decided to try some one arm military presses with a 70lb kettlebell on my left side and to my pleasant surprise, I knocked off two reps. Although the repetitions did not feel perfect, I reminded myself that two was better than zero. A few days later, I went to see Dr. Kirsten Grove to have my shoulder checked out. Kirsten is a chiropractor and ART (active release technique) practitioner in Vienna, VA. Kirsten did an amazing job on some previous injuries that I had and I was hopeful that she could assist me with my current dilemma.
Kirsten did some work on my shoulder and the next day; I was able to knock off four reps in the one arm military press with the 70lb kettlebell with my left shoulder. I told Kirsten that I was doing the gymnastic bridge and she conveyed that it is not a good exercise to do if you have any shoulder problems like me (I had a previous shoulder problem with my left shoulder that had not been completely resolved). I decided to cut it out completely and replace it with the wrestler's bridge. The wrestler's bridge still gives my spine a great stretch without putting any stress on my shoulder. I went back to Kirsten for one more session before heading back to CA and again my shoulder felt even better.
A few days later, I knocked off six reps with my left shoulder with a 70lb kettlebell and did five reps in the two arm military press with two 2 70lb kettlebells without any difficulty.
The lesson that I learned is to be mindful when you introduce new exercises into your routine and that sometimes an injury is not a serious problem, just a reaction to an exercise that is not the best choice for your current level of conditioning and health. I also learned the importance of working with a good ART practitioner to not only address injuries, but as a preventative measure as well.
For Additional Info
For more information on Active Release Technique, go to www.activerelease.com.
In the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend Dr. Nelson Santos. You can reach Dr Santos at 310-628-7387 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are in the Washington DC area, please contact Dr. Kirsten Grove at email@example.com .
About The Author
Mike Mahler is a strength coach and a certified kettlebell instructor based in Santa Monica, California. Mike has been a strength athlete for over ten years and designs strength training programs for athletes, law enforcement, and fire fighters. Mike is available for phone consultations and personal training in the Los Angeles/Washington DC area. For more information, visit Mike's site at www.mikemahler.com or e-mail Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org.