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5 Relative Strength Myths

I'm going to let you in on a little secret. There's a very simple way to improve your maximal strength almost effortlessly. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do with periodization, sets, reps, intensity, rest periods, exercise selection, neuromuscular coordination, or anything else in the gym with which you're concerned. You won't find it on an infomercial, either. Continue Reading...
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Get Your Butt in Gear II

In Part I we covered some pre-training measures you can use to get your glutes fired up and ready to go. Now it's time to get to work on strengthening them. Before we discuss the exercises, let's go over four regulations. If you violate these four groundrules, we'll kick your ass (no pun intended). 1) You'll use a full range of motion (ROM) on all exercises, even if you're the most inflexible person alive. 2) You'll drive/lead with the heel and not prance around like a sissy on your tiptoes. 3) You'll keep the torso erect (chest high and scapulae retracted) to ensure a full ROM. 4) You'll check your ego at the door and decrease the weight if necessary to perform the exercises correctly! Every rule doesn’t apply to every exercise, but more often than not, these little cues will help you to increase your gluteal function and strength. Now, let's move on to the exercises! Continue Reading...
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Get Your Butt in Gear

We need an appropriate balance between strength and mobility in our hips. This is true if we want to squat or deadlift more weight, jump higher or sprint faster. A world-renowned philosopher by the name of Coolio may have said it best: "You can't have da' hop if ya don't have da' hip!" It’s no surprise that athletes in sports like Olympic lifting, powerlifting and sprinting have amazing overall development in both flexibility and strength of the hip musculature. We see tons of injuries to the hamstrings and lower back, but rarely encounter any sort of injury to the glutes. The fact of the matter is that most athletes are tight in the hamstrings, lower back and hip flexors. This collection of problems is related to a lack of strength and motor control in the gluteal muscles. When the hip flexors (antagonists to the gluteus maximus) are overactive, the gluteus maximus becomes weak via a mechanism known as reciprocal inhibition. Furthermore, when our "butt" muscles aren’t up to the task, the hamstrings and erector spinae muscles are forced to work overtime to compensate. This is known as synergistic dominance. This unfortunate cycle often results in injury, or at the very least, sub-optimal levels of performance. Continue Reading...
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Feel Better for 10 Bucks

Ten bucks doesn't buy much nowadays. You could pick up a day pass at some commercial gym, or pull off the co-pay on a visit to the chiropractor. If you're lucky, you might even be able to swing a mediocre Russian mail order bride. Or, you could just go the safe route with your $10, take our advice, and receive a lifetime of relief from the annoying tightness so many athletes and weekend warriors feel from incessantly beating on their bodies. Don't worry, this isn't an infomercial. We just want you to pick up a foam roller for self-myofascial release and deep tissue massage. Continue Reading...
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Neanderthal No More: Part IV

After reading Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3, you've probably come to grips with the fact that you have a greater resemblance to Cro-Magnon man than you previously thought. Now, what are you going to do about it? The program outlined below is designed to keep your current strength levels intact while correcting the muscle imbalances holding back your strength and physique. We have two primary goals: 1) Hit the global muscles hard and heavy with a four-day per week program. 2) Hit the local muscles daily (or at the very least on off days) to take advantage of the motor learning effects produced by frequent, low-intensity training. What are "global" and "local" muscles? Local muscles (also known as the deep muscular system) are extremely important when we're discussing posture improvements. The primary roles of the deep muscular system are motor control, segmental stabilization, and fine-tuning of movements. On the flip side, you have the global (or superficial) muscle system. The primary role of the superficial muscle system is to produce movement, power, and torque. As a general rule, when you have significant postural issues, your global or superficial system is overactive and the deeper system is inhibited or weak. Continue Reading...
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Neanderthal No More: Part III

After covering all the "what's" and "how's" of the most common postural problems in Part I, we focused on some self-assessment tools in Part II. Those self-assessments are certainly valuable tools, but they can sometimes be too subjective if you aren't accustomed to assessing these problems. With that in mind, use the results of those tests in conjunction with the cases studies featured in this article to really get an idea of how significant your problems are and how to correct them. Continue Reading...
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Neanderthal No More: Part II

After reading Part I you're probably thinking to yourself, "Maybe my posture isn’t so great after all, but how do I know?" Well, if you completed your homework assignment from last week, you should have been waiting for this week's update with a bunch of photos in hand. Time to put them to good use! Continue Reading...
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Neanderthal No More: Part I

Disclaimer: What you're about to read is some very technical, very geeky stuff, but don't panic if you don't have your kinesiology degree just yet. In the future articles in this series, Eric and Mike will break it all down for you and show you how to fix your posture and improve your physique. For now, take off that poseur trucker hat and put on your thinking cap! Continue Reading...
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Construction by Adduction

I'm going to let you all in on a little secret: for five months last year, I spent roughly 5-6 hours a week in a room with two-dozen cadavers. No, it's wasn't some sick hobby, and I didn't live in a funeral home. Rather, I was fortunate enough to experience the marvel known as ATC 333: Gross Anatomy. Although I didn't walk away from this class with any good pickup lines, cute girls' phone numbers, or a newfound love of eau-de-formaldehyde, I did manage to emerge with a broader knowledge of human anatomy and, in turn, an expanded training perspective. In particular, I realized that the hip adductors are the Rodney Dangerfields of the thigh; they get no respect. Unless one is completely shredded or...uh…dissected, it's impossible to truly appreciate the contribution of these muscles of less notoriety and prominence to strength and physique development. Continue Reading...
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Cracking the Rotator Cuff Conundrum

I bet we all see things in the gym that really, really, annoy us. There's the "belter," the guy who sports his trusty lifting belt for every exercise, including kickbacks with pink dumbbells and marathon sessions on the hip adductor machine. Then there's the guy who mindlessly bangs out fifteen sets of biceps curls in the power rack as you impatiently wait to do squats. And we certainly can't forget the "Third Musketeer," the geek who takes 45 minutes to do three sets of bench presses because he insists on reading the newspaper and sharing recipes with friends in between sets. You get my point. Sometimes people in commercial gyms simply drive us nuts! And while idiotic gym behaviors definitely get on my nerves, they're far cries from my greatest pet peeve: individuals who constantly grumble about rotator cuff pain. Why do their complaints aggravate me so much? Well, the sad truth is the vast majority of them have no idea what the rotator cuff is or what it does! Let's put an end to this unfortunate trend right now. I'll also show you how to reap the benefits of direct rotator cuff training! Continue Reading...
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