LT 084 | Dr. Stuart McGill – Enhancing Athleticism in Rowers

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We’re back with Episode 084 of the LEO Training Podcast. I am pleased to have Dr. Stuart McGill back on the show as a return guest. His first interview, LT 012  | Dr. Stuart McGill  – Spine Hygiene for Rowers. has been one of my most popular episodes to date. Today’s interview will focus on one topic into which Dr. McGill and I will diver very deep into: enhancing athleticism in rowers – simply put what can we do to improve performance.

Dr. Stuart McGill is a retired Professor of Spine Biomechanics at the University of Waterloo. Dr. McGill is the author of over 400 scientific publications and 3 textbooks that address issues such as, lumbar spine function and injury mechanisms, patient assessment, corrective exercise prescription, and performance training. Dr. McGill consults for many medical management groups, governments, corporations, legal firms, and elite sports teams and athletes from around the world and has won numerous awards, including the Volvo Bioengineering Award for Low Back Pain Research. Dr. McGill is one of the few scientists who are regularly referred challenging patients for consult from around the world.

Here’s what you will learn in this episode:

  • How Dr. McGill’s work started in the research lab, progressed to the clinic, and made its way into the realm of high performers.
  • Principles for training a rower: What is elastic energy storage? Why is it important to train and how do we do it? How do we tune the rowing stroke to the athletes flexibility and stiffness?
  • Why “hollowing” or activating the TVA does not promote spinal stability and is a poor skill for athletes to learn?
  • How to build stiffness with the Big 3? How the Big 3 helps with short and long term cumulative stiffness in the torso? Once we have established this foundation, what higher level exercises should rowers progress to enhance pulsing, timing, and kime (Turbo ball training, KB swing) ? How do we build injury resilience from this?
  • Injury clusters on teams: How posture impacts injury – “C” spine vs. a more neutral spine. How this impacts a higher incidence of disc bulges. Is it possible to get into a neutral posture in a rowing shell due to the seated position and impact of the foot stretcher and rowing stroke mechanics?
  • Adaptions to training, intensity,and volume. – How to balance the strength and conditioning with the training for the sport to enhance elastic energy storage? Do we really want to emphasize and focus on heavy strength work ala a powerlifter or do we want to promote more elastic, ballistic qualities to enhance injury resilience and sports performance? What lifts should we avoid (Olympic style lifts)?
  • Any special considerations for a elite athlete vs. a masters athlete for the aforementioned topics?
  • Back Mechanic Companion Videos
  • McGill 3 Seminar at Kabuki Strength

Show Notes:

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University of Waterloo Spine Biomechanics Laboratory


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