Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Product Review: Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper Body Warm-Up

Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper Body Warm-up, by Bill Hartman and Mike Robertson, is a DVD and Manual set aimed at providing a complete upper-body warm-up procedure.

Inside-Out takes you step by step through various exercises for your upper body. These start with thoracic spine mobility and work outwards to the shoulders, shoulders and hip in concert, and wrists, plus everything in between.

Inside-Out is available on DVD, in a 104-page spiral bound book, and as an e-manual. This review is of the DVD and spiral bound book.

Inside-Out begins with a discussion of the thoracic spine and shoulders, and includes test of your rotational ability (or lack thereof). The authors stress that the lower spine is not meant to rotate; it's meant to stay stable while the upper spine (the thoracic spine) rotates. Then it moves on to the exercises meant to ensure that is the case in your body.

The exercises range from simple wrist mobilizations to scapular wall slides, foam rolling exercises, med ball rolling, and more. For some exercises you'll need a foam roller or med ball, for others a barbell, dumbbell, and/or bench. For most of them you only need an area of floor to lay or kneel on, plus a flat wall you can stand against. The more equipment you have available, the better, but you can do sufficient exercises without any equipment to make this worth doing.

Inside-Out provides guidance on creating your own warmup of one exercise per section. This guidance seems overly brief, but it's not. It's all you really need to use the DVD. Once you know that, you can pick one exercise per section to use, do seven warm-ups, and you're ready for your upper-body exercises. If you do a total-body workout instead of an upper-lower split (see splits) you would need some extra lower body work as well.

The video on the DVD is fine - sound quality is good, the instructions are clear, and the angles on the exercises are sufficient. Cues on what to do and what not to do are also clear, making it easy to follow along and try an exercise. The book duplicates this information, and includes clear pictures of two positions in each exercise to make it easy to follow along. It beaks them up into Purpose, Set-up, Performance, and Coaching Cues, and they are all large type and easy to read. I found a useful way to use the DVD and book was to watch the DVD, and then take the book to the gym to use as a spot guide.

Both the DVD and book include some "Behavior Modification" work - exercises to improve your posture and ensure proper flexibility in areas that need it and stability in areas that need that. There is also the Rufus Complex, a warmup for Olympic lifting, and a section on bench pressing technique. Both seem somewhat tacked on, but once you've done the exercises in the video they seem less out of place. They are both well done and easy to follow.

My only complaint with the DVD is that the sound on the exercises is much quieter than the sound on the main menu. Annoying at worst, but still, it seems like such a small problem that could have been easily fixed.

Contents: 5 out of 5. Great product, with compete and well-layed out material.
Presentation: 4 out of 5. Excellent layout, good video, but some exercises could use additional angles to make them more clear.

Overall, Inside-Out is a great product. It is not cheap; and I'd advice getting the DVD and the manual together. But it can greatly expand your repertoire of upper-body warm-up techniques, and may help you avoid or mitigate injuries. It's expensive but valuable.

Alternatives - well, $79.99 plus S&H ($6.99 for the US) is a lot. What if you don't have it, but still want some idea of how to warm up your upper body? I'd check out this video from Joe DeFranco in the meantime. Start there, and if you feel like you can benefit from more detail, go with Inside-Out.

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