By Travis Dodds Physio
If your goal is to perform better and prevent injuries, Level 2 is for you!
Before you start Level 2, I’d expect you have eliminated any weak links from Level 1 and learned to practice the Level 1 routine with efficiency, striving for excellence in your form every step of the way. After you’ve practiced this for a while, you move up to Level 2, where the technique aspects remain precisely controlled, but the load or intensity of the exercises begins to increase. If you falter in any of the level 2 exercises, practice the Level 1 variation a while longer until you have the strength to perform the Level 2 exercise properly.
What’s different in Level 2?
- It’s more challenging!
- Explanations are simpler, drawing on your experience from practicing level 1.
- The average non-athlete will maintain good health by excelling at Level 1
- The average athlete will perform better and reduce injuries by excelling at Level 2
- The elite athlete will enhance peak performance and resilience by excelling at level 3
Here are a few ideas about how to excel with Level 2:
- Use as a warm-up prior to lifting or sport, to prepare for higher intensity movements / fast dynamics / skill warmups
- In sport, coaches can use individual circuits prior to water-breaks
- Do 3-4x a week to see results
- At home, challenge yourself to use perfect technique and become efficient to complete the entire program in about 20 minutes
- After you finish your routine, write down your 3 most challenging exercises, focus on them to eliminate your weaknesses!
- Tip 1: You can do 1-2 extra sets of these at the end of the routine
- Tip 2: On days when you don’t do the routine you can do 1-3 sets of your 3 hardest exercises
MC2016: ABB Form – It’s still key in Level 2
At Level 2 we’re expecting to see a really good awareness of ABB form. The breathing durations will be 10 second exhales for exercises that have low oxygen demand (dead-bug, bridge, side-plank, plank, bear crawl, nordic curl), and one-breath per repetition for the Full Body circuit.
If you don’t know what ABB means, go to Level 1!
MC2016: Level 2 Dead Bug Circuit + ABB Form
The Dead Bug exercise and its variations offer the opportunity to begin adding load to the trunk from the lower body, arms, and neck. The goal of these exercises is to initiate exceptional alignment, bracing and breathing form and sustain it while adding a load.
Do each of the following for 60 seconds, or 4-5 10-second exhales.
- ABB Form Setup (1×10-second exhale) then Alternating Foot Lifts (2×10-second exhale each side)
- Partial leg press – flex hips beyond 90, set up ABB, then extend until it’s challenging
- Weighted Arms Overhead – use 1-5lbs per hand; maintain rib tuck
- Head Unweighting Lateral Isometrics – lift head, then press from side
MC2016: Level 2 Core Circuit + ABB Form
This set of exercises on the mat enable us to practice excellent spinal alignment while adding loads to the core from the front, back and side.
Initiate ABB form in each position with a goal to sustain it for 60 seconds or 4-5 x10-second exhales.
- Bridge Alt Foot Lifts – press up, then alternate foot lifts (one lift per breath)
- Side Plank Knees with Heel Raise (Left) – shoulders-hips-knees in a straight line
- Bear Crawl Knee Lift – align, inhale, initiate exhale, lift foot, repeat
- Side Plank Knees with Heel Raise (Right) – as above; active glutes; check your core
- Plank Alt Foot Lifts – initiate a breath prior to each foot lift
- Nordic Curl Hands by Ears – emphasize longer holds with 10-second exhales
MC2016: Level 2 Full Body Circuit + ABB Form
These fundamental movement patterns will help teach the body how to build strength while protecting the nervous system and getting maximal gains in strength and mobility. These movements are technique foundations for the most powerful lifts you will ever need to train.
We’re aiming for about 60 seconds in each position – check out the rep targets below in the exercise list
- Toe-tap Single Leg Deadlift – 2x double-leg; 5x toe-taps; 5x single leg
- High-Low Pushup – inhale, descend, complete exhale; inhale, push up…
- Single Leg Squats & Sticks – 2x air-squat; 5x single leg squat; 5x single leg stick
- 90-Squat Standing Row (Partner or Doorframe) – Keep the trunk and legs rigid
- Lunge to High-Knee with Heel Raise – as balance improves, become more explosive