I recently took a self-imposed three week hiatus from Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). I had been doing RTK for about the last 10 weeks. Since starting DDR again, I have set about 9 new records, even though I had not played in 3 weeks. I broke the 40,000,000 barrier on a lot of new songs, and even added FULL COMBO status to two songs. This is ridiculous improvement.
This, my friends, is what they call carryover, the the improvement of one skill when getting better at another.
Over the last two weeks I had been really hitting the Long Cycle Clean and Jerk. For those of you who are not kettlebell educated, the long cycle is cleaning the bells to the shoulder position, then jerking them to locked out elbows overhead. For those of you who don't know what a JERK is, is a ballistic exercise that start with bells in the rack position, then you bump them up using your legs, and to finish the movement, you simultaneously extend your elbows and dip your hips, then stand up. The great think about the long cycle is that it allows you to do a lot of work in a short amount of time, the increasing the systemic training overload.
My best effort with the LC is 2x32kg x 5 x (2,4,6,8). I like using ladders for this because it allow you more sets than if you just did straight sets. This gives you more opportunities to practice the movement as extends your volume. I have done 2 24kg x 5 x (2,4,6,8,10) in under 30 minutes and 103 reps in 15:00 with the same bells. This is pretty darn good work capacity. In a pure work capacity calculation, this would be the equivalent of a pedestrian 206 snatches in 15 minutes, but given each reps is double the weight and is broken movement, it is much harder.
Here are the reasons that I think the Long Cycle carried over to DDR.
1) Better Conditioning: This is especially true for Lactic Acid Tolerance (or LaT). This increases your ability to withstand oxygen debt, which is what you are in when you are on a boss song of DDR. Also, when you are winded, skilled movement goes out the window. Your ability with withstand oxygen debt will improved performance in skilled activities like DDR.
2) Better hip mobility: The Long Cycle teaches you to "free" up your hips under load. When a lot of people first learn the long cycle, it is more like a push press, where they start the movement with the legs and continue wit the arms. As the user gets better at the movement, they learn to dip their hips while extending the arms. This improves hip mobility. This is very important for athletes that need to change direction frequently. DDR is that in a nutshell. The long cycle really teaches how to move the hips under a load. If you have stiff hips, long cycle becomes a push press. In DDR, what this does is help you keep your feet closer to the dance pad, increasing foot speed and accuracy, and of course your scores and your combos. What I have noticed is that I can keep my hips lower while moving my feet. For soccer players and running back, have you heard of "keeping a low center of gravity" or being able to move your hip a lot in a small space. The long cycle will help with both essential qualities.
3) Better ankle mobility: I had never really thought about this one, and it is a fitness concept that gets absolutely no press, but your elite athletes tend to possess this. Never really though about this one, but in the long cycle, if your ankles come up off of the ground you leak power. You stay more connected when you can keep your feet flat (dorsiflexed) in the jerk portion. One side effect of DDR, and a lot of other activities, is shortened (plantar flexed) calves. If you can maintain ankle mobility, you can keep the foot flatter, which increased your footprint, and also accuracy and "foot rate". THIS IS AN ATHLETIC QUALITY THAT ANY ATHLETE WOULD BENEFIT FROM.
Now here is the kicker. Before doing long cycles, I could not do a pistol. I can squat over 400lbs, but I can't do a pistol. Well guess what, that's right baby -- a 16kg pistol. I know it is not much for some of you, but I think I am on my way to bigger things. If you think about why this would happen. Think about this.
What muscle dorsiflexes the ankle joint: Extersor digitorum longus (among others)
What is the other action of that muscle: Eversion of the foot. Its primary function is to extend the four lesser toes, and I find that I am still "dumb" in that are.
What that means is that if you have inverted feet. (Here is a test, look at your shoes, if they wear on the outside more than the inside, you have inverted ankle joints). The will also flatten your feet from inside to outside, increasing your connectivity to the ground. PRETTY COOL, anybody into balance sports (golf, bowling, etc.) should get in on the long cycle.
Long cycle also teaches you, in the "second dip", to keep your feet flat while dipping your hips. This translates well into the DDR quality of moving your feet WITHOUT having to jump up in the air. This keeps you closer to the pad and improves your score. In any sport, "jukability" comes from being able to more your feet while not having to raise your hips.
4) Panic reflex: Supporting two bells on your chest is not natural. In my group training, we do a lot of rack walks. A lot of people hate them because it is not natural to have something on your chest. They get into a state of "panic", and they tend to do two things:
* They start holding the bells with their arms, they get tired real fast
* They start "mouth breathing", and get tired real fast.
The long cycle teaches you to keep your breathing while under load. DDR games last about 90s, and the song does not slow down to match your heart rate to the "fat burning zone". You have to learn correct breathing under oxygen debt. long cycle helps teach this