In Part 2 of this article series, I discussed the split arm chop and lift. Hopefully, you have practiced this move and have observed the benefits of three dimensional strength training. Knowing this exercise has given you more than a killer upper body workout and posture reinforcer, it has given you body knowledge on these cross body moves. It has given you great hip and core stability and improved your balance. It has reduced asymmetry and reinforced posture.
The body knowledge can be converted to freedom. The freedom I’m talking about is the freedom to workout anywhere. Up to now you needed equipment to do the chop and lift. Once you know the moves, you can advance to a portable chop and lift. We are always envious because runners have it made. They can enjoy a great workout anywhere by simply packing a pair of running shoes. If you enjoy strength training moves that help your sport and fitness, and you already have a great workout, chances are the equipment is not portable and does not travel well. Strange gyms and hotel fitness centers may have limited or unfamiliar equipment, causing you to spend half your workout trying to fit your workout to their equipment. Many of the golf and tennis professionals I’ve worked with have this very problem as they have a long competitive season filled with travel.
If you would like to maintain your strength gains but need or want to travel, you can still have some consistency. I personally like dumbbell and kettlebell work, but the weight ranges I prefer don’t travel well. A large diameter band can change up my training, offer some variety on the road and add less than a pound to my baggage. Trainers and therapists who work with clients and patients in their homes also like the portability and economy of tubing products.
Resistance tubing does have limitations. The elastic resistance usually will not give the load or resistance that a weight stack and pulley will provide. Elastic tubing is also often criticized because the resistance increases from the beginning to end of the movement, making the resistance less uniform. However, these two factors that seem to be a disadvantage are actually benefits if you use the tubing to its full potential. Tubing does not need to be as heavy as weight because you are going to add speed to your workout. You will follow a natural force-velocity curve and add a new dimension to your workout. You will increase your speed of movement but must reduce the force to make it possible.
As you accelerate through the movement, the elastic will increase the tension or force as you try to maintain your speed. This will help to convert the strength you gained in your chop and lift training into power with improved wrist, forearm speed and control. The half kneeling position is helpful when training with tubing because it offers improved balance and demonstrates any undetected differences in the right and left side (see Figure 1). Remember to always train for a balance of strength and power between the left and right side (see Figure 2).
The tubing can be attached to a door or safely tethered to a piece of weight training equipment. The tubing is set high for the chop and low for the lift. It should be situated slightly behind you, creating a diagonal pull from the rear and across your body. This will leave the finish position more in front of the body than the cable chop. The lift will also come from a position more behind to a front press. The pull from behind on both the chop and lift creates an opportunity to work on the quick change from a pull to a push. It will reinforce quick hands and a smooth forearm and wrist rotation.
The tubing will be chopped from the side of the knee that is up (see Figure 3). The tubing will be lifted from the side of the knee that is down. For the chop, the tubing should be anchored about six inches to two foot above your head (in standing). This will create a good angle for your downward pull to push movement (see Figure 4).
For the lift, the tubing should be anchored as low as possible. To create the best angle possible for the lift exercise, elevate your knee on a sturdy but padded surface (see Figure 5). Four inches up to 14 inches will work. This is also helpful if you have trouble bending the knee all the way to the floor. You can use the tubing chop to work on stability and posture with some benefit to the hips as well. In a swing, throw, punch, jump or cutting activity, an efficient hip movement is fundamental to generate power. The hips get the movement going but then need to actually stop moving to transfer energy up into the torso, then the shoulders and then the arms. This is required to effectively generate power.
The chop can help reinforce this as well with a simple coordination drill. The set up for the drill is the same as the tubing chop but with the addition of a golf club or three to four foot stick or dowel. Place one end at or slightly below the belt-line on the side with the knee in the down position. It should be set out to the side at a 45 degree angle. The club or stick will probably fall a few times before you can find a balanced position. Once it is set, start the chop movement slowly and then increase your speed. See if you can perform four to six chops with increasing speed without the club falling.
You will immediately become aware that your hip wants to keep moving backward. This is hip flexion and may indicate unnecessary hip flexor activity instead of glut and core stability. If your hip is moving, it cannot be learning to decelerate or be stable, so regroup and stiffen your body. Stay tall and try to move as fast as possible without dropping the club or stick. Do this in both directions and don’t think about your core. Just think about moving your arms and keeping your hips under you. The hips will actually give a small rotation to start your chop, but you need to stop that movement and use that small initial hip punch to complete the move with the rest of your body.
The move is not simply an arm movement, even though it looks like a total arm movement. Good hip strength and core stability create a solid anchor for the arms to pull toward and push from.
Now, you have no excuses for not doing some form of training when you are traveling or have limited equipment. So pack up the band and get going!