Today was finally a cardio day (or at least as cardio as I currently get).  I’ve scaled these back a little to make room for the more muscle-gain intensive workouts.  I’m tracking my resting heart rate to see just how little cardio I can get away with.  It keeps Lisa from getting worried if my heart rate stays below 60 beats per minute.  I was at 53 on Sunday afternoon.

Anyway, here are the plyometrics and running I did.  Also, I had a pretty spiffy revelation about plyometrics for people with ACL injuries (John, I mean you.  🙂  )

1.  Warm-up

2.  Dot Drills.  I drew my little 2ft x 2ft box with a mark in the middle as well.  I did ten different two-legged patterns.  Then, I did six different single-legged patterns for each leg.  Thankfully, there was no rain today so my sidewalk chalk worked just fine.

3.  Skate jumps.  With these, you jump directly left and right.  There’s no forward or backward movement.  I did four sets of ten jumps.  I’ll probably push this up to five sets next time.  However, the big revelation here for me was how this exercise works the knee and hip joints.  Essentially, it’s the primary motion that we were taught in class that causes ACL tears.

The main motion that causes ACL injuries is a step that uses “plant and rotation”.  So, if you think of a basketball player who has to change from sprinting to the right to sprinting to the left as fast as possible, the player has to do that through planting the right foot and rotating his entire body (mainly hips, though) from facing to the right to facing to the left.  As far as the ACL is concerned, that is the most dangerous movement in a lot of sports.  This applies to any sport where someone has to change direction side-to-side very quickly.  So, soccer, basketball, football, rugby, etc.

The skate jumps simulate this movement very well.  When you’re at the bottom of the skate jump, you have just decelerated and stopped your first movement (like when you jump from the left to the right, your right leg absorbs and terminates all of the motion that your left leg created when jumping to the right).  Now, you’re in an at least a half-squat position where your hip is also internally rotated (your thigh is a little turned in and close to the mid-line of your body).  In order to control the jump instead of falling down, your external rotators of the hip have to work to be sure that you don’t overly internally rotate the hip.  Then, once they have controlled the landing and made sure that you didn’t go into dangerously excessive internal rotation, the external rotators also have to work to provide the power it takes to launch off of that same leg.

Another picture of this concept is thinking of how the legs work when performing a squat exercise.  The legs work to control the downward movement so that you don’t fall down.  Then, they have to work even more to bring you back up to a standing position.  Throughout the whole motion, they are very actively involved in controlling your movement.  That is also true of your external rotators of the hip during skate jumps.  They control the downward part and then powerfully fire to create the upward movement.

Now, why do you care about these hip muscles?  Because the reason your ACL gets injured is because your knee has to take the brunt of the force that your external rotators were designed to.  When your external rotators are weak, then your ACL takes more of a beating than it should.  When your external rotators are strong, your knees can continue to happily operate under less stress.

All of that is just to say that if you’re concerned about ACL injuries, be sure to do skate jumps.  Along with single-legged squats, these will go a long way in creating some ridiculously strong joints.  Just be sure to progress it slowly.  If you currently have a weak ACL, you’ll want to start out with just stepping side to side.  Then, progress to a very short hop and finally a real jump.  You should go very slowly, though.  Something like a month of stepping, a month of tiny hopping, and then progress by adding 6″ or a foot each month to your jump distance.  The goal is to eliminate potential injury of the ACL, so taking risks of overworking your ACL is pretty retarded.

If anyone wants further elaboration on that, please comment.  I know it’s a lot to try to visualize in your head.  I’ll try to find some other way to show what I’m saying if anyone wants me to.

Alright.  Anyway…

3.  Sprint/walk intervals.  I did these for 20 minutes, but there was a big truck in the way of my 90 yard mark.  It was a PODS moving truck.  Anyway, I had to just stick with the 30 and 60 yard runs this time.  It felt good, though.

4.  Cool-down.

5.  Eat some carbs.

Notes:

On my ride home, three people gave me the right of way and only one kinda cut me off.  That’s the best right-of-way to cut-off ratio I’ve experienced so far!  I was grateful for the nice drivers.  🙂

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