Alexa Towersey, Author at 98 Gym
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Alexa Towersey

Qualifications

  • Bachelor of Science Bio & Psych, Grad. Diploma Kinesiology & Sports Management
  • a Gym Jones Fully Certified Instructor
  • a Founder of Creating Curves

Biography

Alexa has over 15 years experience in the health & fitness industry as a personal trainer, nutrition and lifestyle coach. Born into a military family, her journey started on a mission for muscles after she was bullied at school for being too skinny – her nickname was Alexa Annorexa.  The gym – and in particular, the weights room – became her sanctuary and was the first place she developed strength, both physically and mentally.

Alexa graduated University with a Bachelor of Science, double majoring in Biology and Psychology.  She then continued on with a post graduate diploma in Sports Management and Kinesiology.  All through university, Alexa wrestled with the Mania Sportsfighting Academy, excelled as a Linebacker and Wide Receiver for a NZ Womens’ Champion Gridiron team – The Tamaki Lightning – and played soccer at a representative level.

In 2007 she accepted a job in Hong Kong, where she attained her NASM qualification, completed in house internships with Poliquin, Merinovich, Gray Cook and Martin Rooney,  and headed up the Strength and Conditioning division for a top MMA gym.  1 year later, she was voted in the Top 3 Toughest Trainers in Asia.

Not one to be satisfied with being “comfortable”, Alexa began looking for a new challenge and decided to compete in Half Ironman 70.3, hiring a coach to teach her to swim.  It was at this time that she came across Gym Jones, and fell in love with the “Mind is Primary” philosophy. She saw this as the edge she needed to get ahead and 2 years later, she qualified for the 70.3 World Champs on a broken foot. 7 years later,  she became the first female Gym Jones Fully Certified Instructor in Australia and only the second female worldwide.

Alexa has been a firm favorite with the media as a “go-to” fitness authority since moving to Australia with her “Train for Your Objective” approach, appearing on Channel 9’s Weekend Today as their fitness expert, and currently as Head Trainer for Women’s Health & Fitness magazine after first gracing their cover in 2016. She is also the female mentor for the athletes in Coach Keegan’s international Real Movement Project, and an ambassador for Livin, a charity aimed at dispelling the stigma surrounding mental health challenges where she presents at both schools and corporate events.

Alexa is the founder of “Creating Curves”, her signature female focused weight training program based on the workouts of former Miss Universe Australia Renae Ayris, which has garnered international success having main features in Harpers Bazaar Australia and Malaysia labeling her “The Model Whisperer” in reference to her transformations within the elite circles.

Alexa is renowned for creating a stellar work ethic in those she trains, and in her eyes;

Whats Involved

The primary muscles working in the pull-up are the lats, biceps, and rear deltoids.  These guys get help from numerous synergists including the forearm flexors, elbow flexors, rhomboids, teres major, external rotators, and trapezius; even the core and legs, to a lesser degree.  

Mobility

Doesn’t matter how strong your back is, if you don’t have good shoulder and elbow mobility, not only will you be fighting your own bodyweight, but you’ll also be contending with the opposing pull of some pretty meaty muscles. I always start my upper body training sessions with some shoulder and chest opening drills – foam rolling the lats and thoracic spine and trigger pointing the pec minor can be helpful.S

Bodyweight

A huge component to any pull up challenge is total bodyweight.   For most of you, we want to avoid losing muscle mass, so dropping bodyfat will be a sure fire way to get some numbers on the board.

Body Position

Usually one of two things happen in this movement – the lower back is arched to counterbalance the pull and shift the weight forwards or the hips are flexed and the knees are swung up for momentum.  Neither should happen.  Brace yourself through your abs and glutes – I like supplemental exercises like Reverse Hyper Holds, Hollow Rock Holds, and planking variations to target complete core stability.

Technique 

Full range of motion doesn’t automatically mean good form. The pull-up is a mid/upper back exercise. If you’re not feeling it there, you’re doing it wrong.  Don’t engage the elbows first when doing pull-ups. That turns it into a biceps exercise. Engage the shoulders first by depressing them. This will make the pull-up a back-dominant movement, as it should be.

Repetition

If you want to be good at something, do it, and do it often. Lifting weights and lifting your own bodyweight are two different things – the latter being more motor control than brute strength.  If you’re in the gym, every time you walk past a pull up bar, do one.  If you’re at home, fit a pull up bar over a doorway and every time you walk through the door, do one.


 






CRUSH: You can either train this by actively practicing your gripping skills (think grippers, squeeze balls) in isolation, or by integrating a more dynamic exercise into your session where you have to adapt

– Try swapping out a regular bar for a towel when doing vertical and horizontal pulls.

– DB Crushers – 3 x 10 at the end of your session. Grab a DB and let it roll to your fingers. Wrap your fingers around it and squeeze it to get it back to your palm.

– Towel chin ups. 3 x AMRAP (as many reps as possible) as your main set. As much rest as needed between sets.

SUPPORT: Any exercises where you’re supporting the lift with your fingers. Think deadlift and carrying variations as part of your main training set.

– Rack Pull to 10 second hold. 3-4 reps, 5 sets.

– Trap Bar Deadlift to Farmers Carry – try a 10-1 ladder with 30m carry between.

– Farmers Carry – 60 secs on/60 secs off. 6 rounds.

– Dead Hangs – try 30 secs Dead Hang/30 secs Kettlebell Swing x 6 rounds.

PINCH: A static contraction that focuses on the strength and endurance of the digits. This is one way to ensure your fingers can do the walking.

– Plate Pinch. With thumb on one side and 4 fingers on the other, hold and squeeze the plates using your fingertips. 4 x ALAP (as long as possible) at the end of your session.

WRIST STRENGTH: I’m always yelling at people in the gym, especially when it comes to exercises using Kettlebells, to “stop letting the weight just hang off their wrist”. This is something you’re probably doing without even realising it. If you’ve ever swung a sledgehammer or gripped a hockey stick, then you’ve used wrist posture. This is great for solid forearm growth gains.

– Dumbbell Reverse Wrist Curls – 3 x 10 at the end of your workout.

HAND HEALTH: Just like the foot is your proprioceptive HQ from the ground up, your hand leads the way when it comes to what the rest of your upper limb is doing in space. Soft tissue work on the hands and forearms (if you’ve got a lacrosse ball, you’ve got a trigger point ball), and increasing your finger dexterity is key – try rolling golf balls around in your hand.

WHAT ELSE YOU NEED TO KNOW:

 A rubber band a day keeps the physio away: The muscles in your hands and forearms need balance just like the rest of your body.  For every flexion exercise, you need one for extension.  Grab a handful of rubber bands, loop them around your hand and splay your fingers resisting the tension. Hold for 2 seconds and relax.  A couple hundred reps a day should do the trick, so pop some in your pocket next time you get the chance. 

Under or Over.  In my opinion, too many people switch to a mixed grip when deadlifting, either through bad habit or when the volume kicks in and the going gets tough.  The more you pull double overhand, the more gains you’ll make in the long run, and not just in your deadlifts – strength in the double overhand grip translates more effectively over into your other main lifts like pull-ups and rows.  

Squeeze:  Every time you lift a weight or hang from a bar or carry an item is an opportunity to crush it, as opposed to just holding it. A strong grip translates to more tension, more strength, and more muscle. But only if you actually use it.  So grab the weight like you mean it. It’s literally all in your hands now.

TOP TIP:  FAT GRIPS

Do your usual exercises, but wherever possible, fatten the grip. The fatter, the grip, – the more motor units recruited.  You can buy specialized FAT GRIPS or you can simply wrap a towel around the bar/weight. 

Author – Alexa Towersey

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