jueves, 29 de mayo de 2014


(Go to Spanish version)

While Rocky III left us with the desire of seeing a complete workout, Rocky IV offseted that question showing us both fighters workouts.
In this way, as we can see in the trailer, both fighters performed a number of representative exercises from which would, on one hand, an analytic training (isolating muscles) and, on the other hand, a more functional training, based on movements and involving full body exercises. 
Thus, Ivan Drago trains in a fully equipped gym, performing isolated muscles exercises like bicep curls, arm external rotations, and leg extensions, which, apart from the specific context of classic bodybuilding, dont's seem very suitable as part of a boxing training program. 

Meanwhile, Rocky, moved to Russia and without possibility of training in a gym, is forced to use what he has on hand at all times, but even in these circumstances, he may do one of the best quality training of all the saga so far.

Let's see in detail the exercises both opponents performed to get ready for the fight!


We can see in the video as Rocky is gripped feet on an upper floor while he flexes hips and part of the lumbar and thoracic spine in order to get vertical and then, throw fists. This is a very hard exercise that works very markedly the hip flexors, abdominal muscles and legs. That is, it works a lot of muscles but, Can we consider it a functional exercise? It's certainly an exercise that involves great risk of falling down as well as large requirements to hold the spine in a neutral position (neither hyperextend the spine when go down, not flex it when go up), so I would not consider it a very useful exercise.
Meanmwhile, Drago performs abdominal crunches while standing, bending forward aggresively against a device acting as a resistance against his chest. This exercise also dysfunctional, just recruit a particular muscle group like the abs, concentrically.
In my opinion, both of the two versions would be out of an useful training program for this kind of athletes.
Nevertheless, Rocky performs a second exercise where breaking logs with an ax similar to that made in the second film when he hit scrap pieces with a hammer, which, if well performed, is a great exercise that activates the core eccentrically in all 3 planes of motion.
Ivan Drago chooses again a "cutting edge"
device for rotation training. A kind of robot that grabs him by the shoulders and makes his trunk to rotate while sitting.  
In the case of Rocky, he uses a heavy wood yoke over his shoulders and walks with it while rotating his trunk aggressively to one side and another.

About these rotation exercises, have mentioned several times that the traditional rotation exercises to work obliques abs concentrically must evolve to an anti-rotation training, where the column is always in the neutral position without reaching degrees of rotation that can compromise the integrity of the intervertebral discs.

In this line, Rocky performs an anti-rotation exercise using a rudimentary pulley where hangs a sack full of stones.
We see Rocky pulls the rope that holds the stone and turns his trunk until he turns his back to the stones. In that moment, while keeping up the stones, all the core muscles are working eccentrically to  to prevent both rotation and extension of the spine.

The Dragon Flag is a very hard exercise that requires strength and technique that just a few can perform. You have to know to do it well, which means never supporting the neck on the bench but  on the shoulder girdle and keeping hips locked on the descent for the lumbar spine not to hiperextend excessively, wich could be harmful.

With this in mind, the exercise works almost every muscle in the body. It is, as I say, an exceptional exercise, Stallone continues smoothly despite having already retirement age.


The clean starts exactly as a deadlift till the barbell gets the  average height of the thighs and from there, the athlete jumps with the bar and quickly flexes shoulders and elbows in order to receive the bar on your shoulders.  
 As you we can see in the above video, the clean is not a high pull but an acceleration of the bar up using power coming from hips and legs.


Then, once the barbell is over their shoulders, we see Drago presses it upward, as in a common barbell press.
Meanwhile, Rocky performs his "functional" version of the clean by lifting a horse cart loaded with his brother in law, his wife and his trainer, all of them acting as a resistance. Theoretically, both exercises  are similar, but the barbell is much more suitable for this exercise. Additionally, the camera takes a shot of Rocky in a very forced position leaning backwards.

Again, we have differents versions of endurance training.
That is, while Rocky runs uphill till the top of a mountain, Drago runs on the treadmill the gym, with a increasingly tilting that forces him to goes to failure.
Both exercises are great to gain leg power, so we can give them a tie, or maybe give Drago a slight advantage, because Rocky almost never sprints...

...as the way he did in Rocky III.

Epilogue: After the fight, both fighters made ​​peace and seem don't have any problem to work together again;-)

See you in the next (and last) chapter of ROCKY'S STRENGTH COACH

viernes, 28 de marzo de 2014


 (Go to Spanish version)

"The way I trained for Rocky III was a bit exaggerated. I ran 4.5 miles a day in the morning, then I went straight to practice with 15 rounds of boxing, followed by two hours in the weight room. Then made ​​500 pushups before skipping for 10 rounds (30 minutes). Then I ate, slept a bit and started again in the afternoon, ran some more, lifted weights again and finally I finished the day swimming...".
"I tell this as an example of what you shouldn't do.
In addition, I was obsessed with my diet...having sometimes more than 30 cups of coffee a day to speed up my metabolism.  
Weighted 73 kg., and I was thinner than ever, but not healthier."

It is, al least remarkable, that a physical icon like Sylvester Stallone confess in his book The Sly Moves, that most of his life he has been training form, say, unhealthy.

Although there aren't many exercises to describe in the film, it's most than clear that Stallone trained very, very hard, since otherwise would not have gotten such a great physique, very different from previous Rocky films.

However, the most didactical concept of this workout is the marked emphasis on explosive performance in all exercises.

This time, coached by the one who has been his biggest rival, Apollo Creed, they won't try just to improve aerobic performance, but now it's a question of hit harder, more times, but overall, faster.
In other words, the point that will make the difference with the opponent won't be the more endurance or full strength, but the speed with which this force can be used. We are talking about POWER, which we define as the ability to generate a given force at a certain speed.

Coach Michael Boyle, in his book Advances in Functional Training speaks of power as the most important ability of any athlete in his sport performance, as virtually any sport has a velocity component whose domain is vital to highlight .

Strength and speed are inversely proportional parameters, since the heavier an object is, the harder to  move (accelerate) it. Therefore, that movement will be slower than if we would apply an equal force to a lighter object.

As an example, a Deadlift (70 Kg) is a raw force  exercise, since you're looking to lift as much weight as possible, regardless of the speed ...

however...in a Power Clean (40 kg), handling a lighter load, you should try the movement to be as fast as possible (explosive). That's why this exercise is considered a power excercise.

Thereby, there are sports like Marathon, where the key issue is the ability to running without pausing  at a relatively low speed, and, on the other side, there are sports like Weightlifting, where core competence is maximal raw force.

Between both end of the spectrum, there'll be sports like Olympic weightlifting and short distances running modalities with a clear emphasis on power, since athletes must exert maximum force to achieve higher speeds to cover much shorter distances.

Generically, training for power goes first through strength training and then developing speed. Obviously, improving speed implies a decrease in raw force previously gained, but what is sought is precisely to reach the competition with adequate levels of both capacities.

We see that in Rocky III, almost all are explosive exercises suchs as jumping ropebutterfly style swimming and, above all, my favorite, sprinting.

In the next installment Rocky Balboa will face his biggest rivals, the great Ivan Drago.

See you soon!


jueves, 13 de marzo de 2014


(Versión en castellano)
With a purely Spartan Warrior style training, limited to a few hard exercises such as one arm pushups, crunches and running, Rocky Balboa accomplished the big goal of don't get knocked in his first fight with Champion Apollo Creed.

However, given the huge rivalry between both boxers, it was a matter of time that a rematch was raised ... and this is exactly the storyline of the second installment of the Rocky's saga.

Let's take a look at this secound workout, to see what has changed from the previous one and what details could have been suggested to both Rocky and his trainer, Mickey. 

At first glance, It seems there are two main differences comparing to the first film: 

1-. Cardiovascular training evolves from a strictly aerobic cardio, to an anaerobic\aerobic cross-training. That is, combining "conventional cardio" along Philly streets with another ones that could be considered Interval Training High Intensity (HIIT), suchs as jumping rope, the "blocks the goose" and technical sessions as a striking pear.

2 - New exercises are added to the workout, adding dumbbells, barbells and other forms of resistance, while still maintaining the bodyweight exercises, like one arm push- and pull-ups. As a result, Rocky's muscles are bigger than before.

That said, let's examine each exercise in a little more details:


This great exercise was already explained in the previous article. The one arm push-up is a very hard total body excercise, that requires a proper technique for a correct performance.

When performing this exercise, the fact that pressing with just one arm against the floor implies an instability in the frontal plane that make the body to fall down of the side where no hand is pushing. So, in order to maintain stability, virtually all thigh and posterior chain muscles, from quadriceps to hamstrings, through glute complex to add-\abductors are going to be recruited in some phase of exercise (concentric or eccentric).

Needless to say, the marked activity of the Core (lumboabdominal muscles) either maintaining stability and transfering forces between lower and upper body as well. 

Maybe, Rocky's technique is not the best one, since is not advisable doing this exercise with an execessive arm abduction (the elbow should got as close to the body as possible).

If It had been available at that time, this tutorial would have been very useful for Rocky.

I have called "false " one arm chin-up  because the one-arm version of this exercise is one in which just one arm pull  the body up, while the other one does nothing, as  Al Kavadlo does in the picture below:
As we can see, Rocky uses both arms, using one to hold the bar and the other hand to grab the wrist of the first arm. So, both arms are really pulling the body up.

Yet, Rocky's performance is not so bad, taking into account that any chin-up style is very demanding exercise...

...and also, Rocky performs his false one-arm chin-up avoiding trunk rotation, which is a complication at performing this version of the exercise.


Rocky uses a heavy mallet to hit a suyrface at a junkyard, in an up and down bang.

That is, each hammer blow implies lifting it above and at one side of the head, just trying to move the shoulder girdle (arms and shoulders), while keeping the pelvis stabilized with a contraction of the abdominal muscles. 
The key point of the exercise is contracting abs at the moment the hammer is overhead, trying to counteract the inertia generated by it over the axial axis of the body and thus preventing excessive trunk rotation in the transverse plane, especially at low back level, which, if they occur, would significantly increase our risk of injury. 
Subsequently, when beat down, the forward lean of the body will be performed through  a hip flexion (instead of lumbar flexion) maintaining the spine in a neutral position.For this reason, trunk rotations exercises should be considered as anti-rotation exercises, overcoming external resistences just trying to rotate the trunk, as in the case of the pulley.

Meanwhile, Rocky also performs anti-rotation exercises with medicine ball.

With regard to abdominal crunches, this is another exercise that should be done with proper movement control, avoiding flexing the spine excessively, and lifting just the head and shoulders off the floor, making it the t-spine the only region of greater mobility.

Without being completes squats, we can not deny that the introduction of this exercise represents a marked improvement in the workout if we compared it with the one from the first film, which barely had specific strength exercises for the lower body.

Lower body strength training is an essential part of any standing sport. 
For instance, when a boxer hits his opponent, the strength has its origen not in the fist but in his legs pushing against the floor.

We'll have to wait for the last installment of the saga to see Rocky performing completes squats ...

...an essential exercise in any good strength program .

The Press (or Shoulder Press), in this case with a barbell, is another essential exercise.
It's a whole body exercise, unlike the Bench Press, involving almost all the muscles of our body.

However, the Barbell Press, as a total body and overhead exercise, is a hard exercise that should be done with a proper technique, as Mark Rippetoe explains in his book Starting Strength and as we can see in this video.este vídeo.

That said, It doesn't seem quite a right performance the one that Rocky does. 
He runs the exercise to muscle failure, which is something an athlete should never do, as Dan John stated in this article, when performing an overhead exercise.

Aslo, he lifts and downs the bar in front and behind his head, getting the position called "high-five", which involves maximal abduction and external rotation of the arm, resulting in an  excessive stress on the shoulder joint capsule, raising risk of anterior hypermobility and  shoulder instability, and with this, the risk of shoulder injury.

The "bird" is an exercise used to try to isolate the rear deltoid muscle. It may have a place in a training plan for bodybuilders, but any other case, It seems to be totally dispensable, since the postrerior deltoid is a muscle that assists the lattisimus dorsi in shoulder extension, which already exercising when doing rowing or chin-ups,  especially if you use an overhand grip.

Rocky's cardio-metabolic training has clearly evolved  from mere steady cardio to a one that combines these exercises with others performed alternating short and intense intervals with short breaks, which is commonly known as High Intensity Interval Training

Hope you have enjoyed the reading!
See you soon!