Home Blog Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 44

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 44

Written on June 6, 2013 at 11:01 am, by Eric Cressey

Today, Greg Robins is back with five tips for your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.

1. Regress TRX fallouts.

At CP, we often use TRX fallouts in our programming. They are a phenomenal choice for training the anterior core in an “anti-extension” fashion. That being said, they can also be quite difficult for many people. The good news is that these bad boys are easily regressed by moving to your knees, rather than the feet. In order to do these seamlessly make sure to adjust the straps so the handles hang to just below your waist, or slightly further for those with longer arms.

kneelingfallout

2. Do paused deadlifts.

Paused deadlifts are an awesome way to work on proper technique. I’ll be honest with you, though, the first time I saw them my initial reaction was “that can’t be safe!” In fact, I chalked it up as one of those powerlifting staples that would definitely make you brutally strong, but only at a very high risk of injury. In reality, any exercise has a high risk if done incorrectly, and this variation is not something I would advocate just anyone try, or prescribe to their clients/athletes.

That being said, I don’t think it’s inherently dangerous. In fact, I don’t think it’s dangerous at all when executed well. In an effort to correct my own bad habit of coming forward in the deadlift, I decided to give them a shot. I was frustrated because my deadlift had seemingly regressed, and weights that generally felt fast were becoming a grind.

My very first rep sent me way forward and I bailed out and dropped the bar. I was only using about 45% of my 1RM. Reality check; my initial pull from the ground was awful. Through training this variation I was able to re-learn where my weight needed to be upon breaking the bar from the ground, and in about three weeks of using this lift after my regular work sets I was right back to pulling the weight I had before my technique relapsed.

If you have issues staying back in the deadlift, hit a sticking point around mid shin, or just want to do “authenticity” check to your deadlift, I highly recommend these. Here is a video of a set of three from a recent training session.

3. Use a bar pad when incline pressing.

Putting a bar pad on to squat is foolish. If there is a good reason you can’t have steel pressing into your back, then choose a better way to load the exercise. There is, however, a good use for this cylindrical piece of foamy goodness. One would be to pad the hips during barbell supine bridges; that’s old news. Another is to cut out a little range of motion on the bench press, specifically an incline barbell bench press. 

Before you call me as soft as the foam pad of which I speak, hear me out. Incline pressing is a great pressing exercise, but there’s one thing I don’t like about it: it tears apart the front of my shoulders. Because the inclined torso position increases range of motion, you won’t find to many people barrel chested enough to pull the lift off, chest to bar, without getting a considerable amount of humeral anterior glide in the shoulder joint. See the picture below:

IMG_9000

One way to avoid this is by creating an arch in the back to meet the bar before this becomes a player, in a similar fashion to the flat bench press:

IMG_9001

My problem with this is that: 1) the more you arch on an incline press, the less it becomes an “incline press,” and 2) the incline press can be strategically used to supplement the bench press because it removes some of the added help from leg drive and hard arching.

Instead, adding the bar bad to the middle of the bar will effectively cut a good 1.5 inches off the range of motion. This way, we can press a little more safely. It’s nice to not have to think about cutting it short, and focus on pressing the weight, knowing that when the pad touches the chest we have hit an appropriate distance. If you have a “fat” bar this would also be a nice choice to use when you incline press.

4. Remember that mayonnaise can actually be a solid condiment.

Mayo gets a bad rep. Somehow, it has become synonymous with being fat. That might be because, well, it is fat! That’s also why I like it as a condiment. Most condiments are packed with sugar, and if you’re looking to keep the sugar to a minimum, you might be running out of ways to sauce up your grub.

Unfortunately, store bought mayo is generally full of crap. Additionally it’s usually made with less than ideal ingredients. However, with a little searching you can find some brands that keep the ingredients very basic (egg yolks, oil, lemon, vinegar). Alternatively, you can easily find a solid recipe online with a quick search for “real mayonnaise recipe.” I suggest you find one that uses olive oil.

5. Make sure you have the right bench height for hip thrusts.

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  • Ben

    I haven’t heard of the paused deadlift before.
    For sticking points, you could also do isotonic isometrics as Bill Starr describes, sparingly.
    There is also the halting deadlift, which is a deadlift that ends just above the knee. There is no reason you can’t stop the halting somewhere else and end the lift there. Not lifting the bar through a full ROM is less stressful than doing so.

  • First time for everything. I disagree with you. I’m not sure what you mean by “using a bar pad is quite foolish.” In what respect? Causing damage or preventing damage? I can attest to years and years of squatting with that bar sitting on C5/6 and now having had TWO neck operations to cure the problems. Yes I was using upwards of 700 lbs for high bar squats (best set was 695 x 10) so the pressure was there. I’m not sure a pad would’ve prevented the damage but i do know that if you’re laying that bar DIRECTLY on those vertebrae I would think NOT using at least some type of padding would be foolish. Enjoy your stuff. Randy Wilson

  • Shane

    Paused Deadlifts seem brutal!
    Whenever I do incline pressing I do it with dumbbells. Barbell is to tough on my shoulders. A lot of the commercial gym’s incline bench is not at the correct angle. Easier to do it on a adjustable bench. Happy to throw this open to see what other coaches do.

  • Derrick Blanton

    Good stuff, Greg! I like the incline bench pad idea a lot. Even though I am one of those barrel chested types who does not experience pain with the full ROM, I think I may try it as a continuous tension aid, and eliminate the “bounce”. Btw, I think Nick Tumminello suggested using it for barbell rows as well, for the same reason, to control humeral hyperextension and anterior glide. Keep up the good work! DB

  • milan

    cool

  • Tim

    Greg- what do you think (if you have had the time to read it) about Kelly Starlett’s view, in his new book “Becoming a Supple Leopard”, on the negative implication of getting down into a deadlift setup by bending over by rounding the spine, and even if this is corrected in the bottom position, saying the anterior core is creating a shear on the spine from the front to correct and create this seemingly “acceptable position”- it leads to excess stress on the low spine and sometimes an inability to fully lock out due to shortened engaged hip flexors?

    I know what I asked is a mouthful- if you have read about it in his book you will know what I’m talking about, otherwise I may not have presented it very clearly.

  • The pause during a deadlift is an AWESOME way to check your form or build resilience during a “weak” phase of the lift. And mayo is great. Ketchup is horrendously loaded with sugar.

  • Nice tips on the fall outs and incline BB press!

  • I love the pause dead lift variation! I’m going to play with it on my text training session.

    Thanks

    -K

  • Ellen Stein

    I have been doing “paused” DL’s for awhile now only we call them halting DL’s…I am a sumo DL’er and my sticking point has always been just below my knee…I also try pulling with 35 lb plates as well

  • Nice post! I found #2 and #3 specifically interesting. This is my first time seeing a “paused” deadlift. I am pretty sure that if I had, I would have chalked it up to something foolish. I can honestly say I’m going to have to try this out.

  • AWESOME stuff, fellas, love the incline bench w/foam pad!

  • LiverpoolSteve

    Paused Deadlift variation is a beaut, have just never considered approaching stalled progress in that way. Thanks for the insight.

    Randy, I don’t think that is what Greg is saying. I read it as “if having a bare bar there is going to cause damage then that bit of foam isn’t going to protect you, in fact it will probably just remove enough immediate pain to allow you to do the exercise enough times to do real lasting damage.”.

    It seems your experience would lend credence to this (although 700lbs is a mighty lift mate!).

  • Greg R

    @ Randy, I think handling weights that heavy with a bar pad as thick as the one you see here (which also the more common thickness) would be dangerous. The bar would be so disconnected from the body that you would have a high risk of it slipping. Not to mention an inability to keep a “shelf” for the bar, or create tightness by pulling into the body effectively. If someone has cervical spine limitations, that make placing an unpadded bar there dangerous, I would prefer to front squat them, or do single leg work. It would make more sense from a risk to reward standpoint.

  • Great post. I love the pause deadlift for my athletes who are cleaning and snatching as a way to make sure they have the right balance in their feet. It is crucial that the balance in the feet is correct so the bar stays on the correct path, a big issue with high school athletes. I took it as a way to transition them to the floor and still find the “hang” position before they finished their second pull. However, it also makes sense to use with powerlifters. As weight goes up, form breaks down and we find an anterior weight shift is the typical compensation. We will definitely add these into our recovery weeks to reset positioning when load is reduced.

  • Excellent ideas. “Paused Deadlift” is a staple of Olympic lifting.
    695 x10 is very impressive! Not sure why the bar is sitting on C-5/6. You may want to rethink your squat form.

  • Picking up on the deadlift part of this article – is deadlifting of any variety simply not to be attempted by someone suffering low back disc issues or with proper training and technique and depending on the individual, is there a chance it could be included? Cheers


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