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10 Weight Training Tips

Written on January 8, 2008 at 9:04 pm, by Eric Cressey

A while back, I wrote “40 Random Thoughts,” and it turned out to be one of my most popular articles to-date.  In it, I wrote:

Perhaps it’s because I read so much or simply because the majority of my time is devoted to training and nutrition, but I’ve always got about a million loosely-related things bouncing around in my head.

Some might think that this is a bad thing, as I’d be too distracted to accomplish anything. That couldn’t be further from the truth, though. In fact, I honestly think that it allows me to see important relationships — finding kinetic chain compensation patterns; correlating injuries with dysfunction; and considering interactions between training, nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle — that might otherwise be overlooked.

As I thought about the popularity of that article, I couldn’t help but wonder if some of the industry notables with whom I speak on a daily basis have some great stuff along these lines rattling around their brains on a daily basis – so I asked them!

In each of the next several installments, you’ll hear over random tidbits (over a hundred in all) from various specialists in the “biz” in their areas of expertise.

This week, I’ll get the ball rolling with ten of my own.  Here are the first five:

1. Footwear – or lack thereof – is one way to change the training stimulus.  I’ve written quite a bit about how all my athletes and clients do their warm-ups barefooted, but I think that we really have four primary stimuli from which to draw.  The majority of our weight-room training should come from the first two categories:

a. Barefoot

b. Flat-soled shoes: Chuck Taylors, wrestling shoes, Nike Frees

c. Elevated: cross-trainers, running shoes

d. Ultra-elevated (use sparingly): Olympic lifting shoes

We spend a lot of time discussing sets, reps, rest intervals, and the like – but nobody really ever pays attention to how footwear can alter a movement – just like grip width or thickness, or hand/foot position.

2. Use a neutral grip for easy transition to powerlifting style benching.  Many people struggle with making the switch from “bodybuilder-style” (elbows flared) bench pressing to a more shoulder-friendly “powerlifter-style” (elbows tucked) bench approach.  You can easily expedite this process by doing all your bench assistance pressing with dumbbells using a neutral (palms facing-in) grip.

3. Try Lynx Grips.  These are awesome implements for three main reasons.  First, they’re a portable thick bar that you can take anywhere.  Second, making a barbell or dumbbell mechanically wider can distribute forces on the wrist and hand more evenly, providing less stress to those coming back from upper extremity injuries.  And, third, these implements are a great alternative to gloves for women who want to avoid calluses, but don’t want to lose their grip on the bar.  Use one as a substitute for gloves, and two on top of one another to create a great thick handle.

4.  In an untrained lifter, deadlifts are a guaranteed 15 pounds of muscle mass.  Think about it: you’re using your entire upper back, glutes, hamstrings, core musculature, and forearms.  If you haven’t done anything with these muscles before, they’re going to get bigger quickly.  Put 100 pounds on a newbie’s deadlift and you’ll bump him up a shirt size in no time.  This principle can also be applied to experienced lifters who haven’t deadlifted in the past; leg curls just won’t get the job done to the same extent that heavy deadlifts and rack pulls will.  For added upper back emphasis, try snatch grip versions.

5. Don’t force clean-grip front squats on anyone.  I’ve seen athletes get great results on front squats with using the cross-face grip and modified clean grip with straps – neither of which place undue stress on the wrists of unprepared individuals.  This, in my opinion, is just one of those “do what feels right” issues.  Don’t be so quick to throw the cross-face and modified clean grip with straps (photo credit to Mike Boyle) under the bus; we aren’t squatting for wrist performance!  If you’re comfortable with the clean grip and have the flexibility, though, by all means, go for it.

We’ll be back in a few days with tips 6-10 from me.  For now, I’m off to the new facility to train athletes amidst the renovation madness!

All the Best,


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