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Kiona's Korner - the Secret to Muscle Activation

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  • Kiona's Korner - the Secret to Muscle Activation

    Originally posted by Kiona 09-23-2010
    T-Tapp Muscle Activation for Inch Loss FAST!

    With SO many new people in the HBK family, I thought I would send out a T-Tapp Tip that is one of the FIRST things I teach and one of the LAST any of us actually understand and actually utilize, MOST of the time. My amazing new client who started privates with me this morning definitely broke this rule, but as a dancer, massage therapist and Feldencritz (spelled how?!?) participant she had an amazing background to do this. The rest of us are not so lucky and usually have to continue to practice our T-Tapp to really understand this incredibly important piece of the system.

    First, what IS muscle activation? It is tightening the muscles without the use of outside equipment. You should be able to hold a muscle contraction on your own and not require a weight, stretchy band, machine or even water to create that tension. In class I usually compare this to pushing your car up a hill in the snow. You can PUSH as much as you like, but the darn thing just won't MOVE....and every muscle in your body is as tight as it can may even feel like you are straining....because you are, but no actual MOVEMENT is happening. This is the principle we use in our T-Tapp workouts and every movement should have this quality. This is one of the amazing benefits OF the workout that we don't have to have equipment to DO this, however it is also one of the biggest challenges! Without any equipment to actually "Force" the muscles to contract, it is SO easy to just move in the patterns of the workout without any real tension or tug on the muscles. The lymphatic piece of T-Tapp will STILL get you results BUT if you are a SLOW loser like I am....they will be SLOW and not nearly what you want. Booooooo.....hisss.....excuse to give UP! :'(

    So what do we DO about it? There are several things you can do and many I demonstrate and work with students on in classes and especially in private sessions and clinics where I will physically touch students to increase their understanding. One of the first things we talk about in classes is visualization techniques to create the results we want. Now I am not talking about the type where you meditate on your goal size for 15 minutes first thing in the morning, but more so images to hold in your mind that help you keep muscle tension while not just thinking "I am keeping my muscles I? NO!? I don't KNOW!?!" So one of the very first ones I teach in class is doing the shoulder rolls, as you roll the shoulders up, back and down with the thumbs pointed as far to the back wall as you can, as you end the movement imagine a bright colored BOW at the base of your shoulder blades. This bow, is wrapped AROUND your spine and tied TIGHT to tie the shoulder blades to the spine. Then as you lift your arms, whether for Plies, Butterflies, Arm Sequence, Reach, Scoop, Jazz Twist, T-Tapp Twist (okay I'll stop you get the idea ANY arm movement) that bow stays TIED, your shoulder blades can NOT pull away from your spine. All of the sudden your Lats and Traps are held TIGHT as you begin to move your arms, but you don't even need to know where they are!

    You may experience a limit to your range of motion which is exactly what you want. You are trying to build strength and flexibility at the shoulder and that can only be done when the protagonist and antagonist muscles work in opposition to each other as you move. Now the muscles are tight but you are not using equipment. And YES, you DO have to keep that image in your mind for all your movements to really start to feel the isometric contraction.

    Still don't feel it, I advise students to back up against a wall, putting their shoulders (and for proper T-Tapp stance their whole spine) against the wall, keep the arms pressing back into the wall throughout the arm movements you are doing. If the wall is difficult to feel, you can also do it laying on the floor and the Hit the Floor SOFTER routine (included in the Hit the Floor DVD) actually does this with the arm sequence for Plies. What I like about the wall or floor techniques is that you have another point of feedback to tell you your shoulders came forward, your arms aren't straight etc. You have support and the help of gravity as well if necessary and know you will stay in alignment. The more opportunities we have to train the brain of the FEELING of an isometric, the faster we understand them and more results we get.

    Another of my favorite visualizations you can use as you do your arm movements is to imagine you are in a swimming pool and moving through the water. The body naturally understands how it feels to move through water so you don't have to struggle so much trying to tighten. And it applies to the whole body. You can even find a pool and TRY them to get even more feedback if you need it.

    So try it out, see how it feels and see how fast YOU can lose inches. And then challenge yourself, what other images can you come up with for other parts of the body? If you are in class, listen carefully I give at least two others every class!

    Koach Kiona- Senior T-Tapp Trainer

  • #2
    09-28-2010, 12:22 AM

    Thanks for the tips!!!! Something else to incorporate into my WO!!! Jeez!!! I think my mind will explode!!!
    Like they say 'it's a mind body WO'!!


    09-28-2010, 02:50 PM

    That is funny, Tara. Especially at the beginning you think your brain really will explode trying to remember everything... and then little by little bits of it start becoming more automatic so you don't have to think about those so hard. But the beauty of it is that there's always more to think about, and learn, and incorporate.

    As I was working out today I was more mindful of muscle activation after reading this thread. I'll have to work on some visualizations. Some of the movements have visualizations built right into the names... like "pulling the weeds".


    10-04-2010, 01:38 AM

    Oh WOW!!!!!

    I put in my 2nd instructional this morning, BUT I thought about the whole 'bow-around-the-shoulders' thing and OMG I couldn't finish it!!!
    That's the first time I haven't managed to finish a WO!!! By the time I got to the arms sequence I thought my arms were going to burst into flames, the heat coming from them!!!
    I'm afraid I'm going to have to finish the rest of the WO tomorrow!!!

    Thanks Kiona, great visualisation technique! PHEW!!!