Monday, April 30, 2012

T-Tapp Tips: Arms

From time to time I get emails requesting help with a certain aspect of T-Tapp form. I tend to spend a fair amount of time responding to the email, hit send and then forget about it. I decided that I would begin posting some of the more technical explanations here in the hopes that other T-Tappers may find them and benefit. So here is the first in what may become a series. If it makes no sense but sounds interesting no worries. I'll be posting more about the method and ways that I use it soon.

The email was a request for help connecting with T-Tapp arms when you are a person who enjoys weight training. The form tips I listed will also be beneficial to those who have never lifted a weight.
Because you love upper body strength training it doesn’t surprise me that you struggle with the T-Tapp arm series. The two are very different as you have no doubt realized.

When you lift weights or use bands the work of the movement is generated from overcoming something that is outside your body – the weights or band resistance.

When you perform T-Tapp arms the work of the movement comes from your linear alignment, the isometric contraction of the movement, your resistance of the movement and IMHO, most importantly from your constant extension of either a segment of, or your entire arm away from the midline of your body.

I came to T-Tapp from many years of serious weight training and I can still remember how hard it was to consistently “get” the linear alignment. To get a feel for it you can sit in linear alignment, making certain that your shoulders are right over your hips. Now perform a chest press movement. Lift your shoulders out to the sides with elbows bent at right angles. Then close them together in the front being certain that they stay shoulder height – they will want to drop below shoulder height because that’s common in weight training. Next, keeping those elbows high and bent at a right angles open your bent arms as far side as possible keeping your shoulders right over your hips. Glance side to side and if your elbows are behind your shoulders move them forward until they are directly in line with your shoulders.

If they are not able to open far enough to be in line with your shoulders, welcome to the weight lifter lovers club. My flexibility was impaired when I first started T-Tapping. I’ve since pretty much reclaimed what I had lost. You have to limit your range of motion to prevent injury when you lift heavy – or even moderate weights for that matter. This means limited ROM for most of us over time.

Once you have your bent arms in line or as close to in line with your shoulders as possible (elbows and shoulders in a straight line) pull the ends of your elbows away from your midline as if you were trying to pull your shoulders right off your body. This is an example of an extension away from the midline. It turns on more muscles.

To work to feel it in a different way try this. First simply put your arms out to the sides at shoulder height. You feel muscles working. Now keep them there but reach away from the midline as hard as you can. You should feel a lot more muscles turn on.

Now for your answer about the moves where you look down. Your lats won’t feel the same as they do in the upright movements but that doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Try this to feel the difference; first stand in TT stance and roll forward in prep for the arms. Now purposely relax your back muscles and feel how much less supported the movement is. Now set up again and this time really hold the tuck. I don’t mean squeeze your glutes as much as I mean to pull your tailbone down and under, nail it there. Next think of widening your middle to upper back to allow you to pull your elbows out and forward away from your midline. Next remember to full extend away every time you straighten your arms to the sides of your body to turn on as much muscle as possible. Slow down the movement if you need to. Finally when you extend your arms downward don’t just extend them downward. Pull down but as you pull down resist allowing that tug to alter your torso form.

If none of those tips helps you connect with T-Tapp arms I’d consider it a work in progress and not worry about it for now. If you like the other aspects of T-Tapp I certainly wouldn’t give it up simply because you haven’t clicked with the arm series yet. We all have our T-Tapp buggaboos that we struggle with. Mine is lunges. I never have liked them but I consider it a small part of the workout and grin and bear it. LOL


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