Home Posts tagged "Deadlifts" (Page 4)

The Right Deadlifting Cues for YOUR Body

In anticipation of next week's release of The High Performance Handbook, my week of video madness continues!  Hopefully, you've already enjoyed the first two videos - and today, I've got another one for you.  This time, it's about my favorite lift: the deadlift.  In this video, I discuss the "arch your back" cue that we often hear so that you can determine if it's right for YOU.  Check it out, and you'll improve your deadlift technique (and strength) in a matter of minutes:

--> The Right Deadlifting Cues for YOUR Body <--

The countdown continues...


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Pitching Performance: Understanding Trunk Position at Foot Strike – Part 3

Today marks the third installment of this series on trunk position at foot strike during the pitching delivery.  In case you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2.  In those installments, we outlined the problem of early and excessive lumbar (lower back) extension, and how to address it with drill work.  In today's final installment, we'll introduce some drills we like to use with our athletes to teach them about proper positioning and build stability within those positions.

At the end of the day, there are a few things that can contribute to a pitcher drifting into excessive extension from the time he begins his leg kick all the way through when his front foot strike.  Obviously, the foremost concern is what cues the athlete has been given that may be leading him in this direction.  Once those have been cleaned up, though, we have to look to see how physically prepared an individual is to get to the right positions. I think the first question you have to ask in this case is, "Where does the posture start?"  If an athlete looks like this at rest, he's going to at least look like this dynamically - and this heavily extended posture is going to be much more exaggerated.


With that in mind, step 1 is to educate athletes on what acceptable resting posture is.  In this case, we need the athlete to learn to bring the pelvis and rib cage closer together, most notably through some posterior pelvic tilt.  Once that has been established, here are some of my favorite warm-up drills for athletes with this heavily extended posture. You'll notice that exhaling fully and learning to get the ribs to come down are key components of these drills.

In addition to these low-level core stability exercises, we'll progress to some balance drills, especially in the early off-season.  Effectively, we're teaching athletes to resist extension and rotation in single-leg stance.  Yes, it's static balance training, but I firmly believe these drills have carryover to bigger and better things at higher speeds. And, you're certainly not going to overtrain on them, so you've got nothing to lose.

With all these exercises out of the way, it takes a lot more high level core stability for this posture to carry over to the high level throw.  You need to improve both anterior core control (your ability to resist excessive extension/arching) and rotary stability (your ability to resist excessive rotation at the lower back).  I've outlined loads of options on these front, but here are two to get the ball rolling for those who aren't up to speed on my writings just yet:

And, remember that the different types of core stability never work in isolation - especially during the basebal throw.  Check out this video for more details:

The core stability you build must, however, be accompanied by a strong lower half.  Candidly, I don't think having a huge squat is necessary.  Athletes seem to get much better carryover from deadlift variations, in my experience - likely due to the fact that the deadlift does such a tremendous job of teaching good hip hinging.  We see so many athletes who drift (LHPs toward 1st base, and RHPs toward 3rd base) early in the leg kick and subsequent movement toward home plate in part because they can't hip hinge at all.  Once you've gotten that hip hinge back (in part with the toe touch video from above), you have to strength train in that pattern to get it to stick.  For the most detailed deadlift technique video tutorial out there, check out my free one here.

Additionally, single-leg strength is insanely important, and there are lots of ways to attack it. 

I think it's equally important to be able to build and maintain strength outside the sagittal plane, especially when it comes to carrying that good hip hinge over to movements when a pitcher is starting to "ride his hip" down the mound.  With that said, definitely check out an article I wrote previously, 7 Ways to Get Strong Outside the Sagittal Plane.

Once you've established hip and shoulder mobility, core stability, and lower half strength, you can really start to make the most of your medicine ball training.  As you can see, I think Tim Collins is a great example from which young throwers can learn a lot, as he has built up a lot of these qualities to make the most of a smaller frame in order to consistently throw in the mid 90s.  That said, I couldn't ask for a better demonstrator for our medicine ball drills for a few reasons.

First, he always throws the ball with intent; there are no half-speed reps. If you want to develop power, you have to try to be powerful in each throw during training.  Second, his direction is outstanding.  You never see him drift forward as he builds energy to apply with aggressive hip rotation. Third, he's got a great hip shift, which is necessary to get the most out of his posterior chain.

As a follow-up to that video, CP coach Greg Robins has a great tutorial here to teach you how to get "in and out" of your hip on rotational medicine ball exercises:

As you can see, there are a lot of different factors that contribute to an athletes being in excessive extension - but also allowing that extension to carry over to their pitching mechanics to the point that trunk position will be out of whack at foot strike.  Additionally, these exercises should demonstrate to you that athletes who land in a very extended position - but still have success and don't want to change things - will need to take special precautions in terms of physical preparation to make sure that their bodies don't break down over time with this delivery style.

This wraps up our series on understanding trunk position at foot strike during the pitching delivery; we appreciate you following along for all three articles!I If you'd like to learn more about how we manage throwers, be sure to register for one of our Elite Baseball Mentorships.  The next one will take place December 8-10.





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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 10/4/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Elite Training Mentorship - In this month's update, I go into a ton of detail with a video on scapular assessment and its implications for program design and coaching. I've also got two exercise demonstrations and an article to accompany what the rest of the ETM crew has provided for great content this go-round.


The Low-Down on Levers - This is an excellent post by Dean Somerset - as we've come to expect from Dean, by this point!

Why You Should Fill Your Company With Athletes - I found this article at Forbes.com really interesting.  We always hear people talk about how athletics prepare kids for real life, but nobody ever discusses exactly how they do so.  This article was the first thing I've read that went down that road.

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Categorizing Core Stability Exercises: Not As Easy As One Might Think

Most people try to segment their core stability work into multiple categories when they are writing strength and conditioning programs.  As I discuss and demonstrate in today's video, though, they aren't as easy to subdivide as one might think:

If you're looking for more assessment, coaching, and programming strategies with respect to core stability exercises, I'd encourage you to check out our resource, Functional Stability Training of the Core. It's available in both online-only and DVD versions.

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Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective – Installment 7

It's been a while since we covered some strength training coaching cues that you'll want to have in your back pocket, so here's installment 7.

1. Follow your hand with your eyes.

It goes without saying the improving thoracic (upper back) mobility needs to be a big priority for many athletes.  However, individuals can lose out on the benefit of thoracic mobility drills can be performed incorrectly if one only moves through the shoulder and not the upper back.  Greg Robins covers that problem in this video, in fact:

To help ensure optimal technique, I encourage athletes, "Follow you hands with your eyes." It always seems to "right the ship" with respect to movement of the humerus.

2. Ease the bar out.

One of the biggest mistakes I see both lifters and spotters make is just picking UP the bar and handing it out from the pins on the bench press. This causes a lifter to lose his upper back tightness and start the lift from an unstable platform. Plus, the bar is more likely to drift excessively toward the hips, as opposed to staying right in the path the lifter prefers.

With that in mind, another Greg Robins video complements this tip well; check it out:

3. Get the chest to the floor before the chin.

Push-up variations are an incredibly valuable inclusion in just about any strength training program, but unfortunately, the technique goes downhill quite frequently, particularly under conditions of fatigue.  Everyone knows that we need to monitor core positioning so as to avoid excessive lumbar hyperextension (lower back arching).  However, what a lot of people may not realize is that this "sag" is only one potential extension-bias fault. 

You see, people who are in extension will find all the ways they can to shift away from a neutral posture and toward a more extended posture.  Take, for example, this shoulder flexion video. The individual doesn't just go into lumbar extension and a heavy rib flare to get his arms up overhead; rather, he also goes into a forward head posture.

I liken this to patching up a hole in a leaky roof - only to find a leak starting up somewhere else.  It's important that we patch them all!  With that said, with push-up variations, you can either cue "make a double chin" or tell folks that the chest should make it to the floor before the chin. As long as you've already controlled for excessive arching of the lower back, the cue will be spot-on.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/26/13

Here's this week's list of recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Hacking Sleep: Engineering a High Quality, Restful Night - Brian St. Pierre goes into great detail on how to improve sleep quality in order to optimize recovery and fitness progress.

What You Need to Know About GIRD - Mike Reinold put together a great review of the literature and outlined the common mistakes he sees with respect to glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD).  This is stuff that Mike and I discuss literally every week, so I'm glad he's finally put it into a comprehensive article.  If you're a coach who is universally prescribing sleeper stretch to all your players, this is must-read material; you'll reconsider it after you're done.

Injuries are an Opportunity - Andrew Ferreira is a CP pro guy in the Twins system, and he offered this great insight on how you can't just have a pity party when you get hurt; you have to use it as an avenue through which you can get better.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/20/13

It's time for this week's recommended strength and conditioning reading:

Insider Secrets to Movement Prep - This is a new "compilation" product from all of us at Elite Training Mentorship.  It's a series of videos from all the guys - me, Mike Robertson, Tyler English, Vaughn Bethell, Dave Schmitz, Steve Long, and Jared Woolever - who regularly contribute on this membership site.  If you have questions about planning a training, practice, or competition warm-up, this is a great resource for you.  The package includes 10 videos, plus several articles and exercise demonstrations.  It's on sale today through Sunday for just $29.95.


9 Great Ideas to Improve Your Workouts - Everyone loves Dan John - and rightfully so: his articles are always great.  This one was no exception.

Who Says You Can't Get After it After 80? - This was a fun blog post from my business partner, Tony Gentilcore, about a client of ours who is over the age of 80 and still crushing it in the weight room. 

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How to Use Block Pulls to Improve Your Deadlift

Today's guest post comes from CP coach, Greg Robins.

In the past 2.5 years, I have made some pretty solid strides with my deadlift. I’m still no world record holder, but I’m continuing to make progress. Most of this can be credited to a much more focused effort on raising the max number I can lift. Another large amount is likely the result of gaining about 30lbs.

That aside, anyone can eat a lot and want to lift more. Below is something I find has been key in my ability to pull 3x my body weight (595lbs at 197lbs), and over 600lbs since then.

If you want to lift more weight you need to learn to
intelligently overload from time to time.

I like to read the training logs and watch interviews with lifters who are stronger than me. One commonality I find with a lot of them is the waved use of overload techniques. Once someone has garnered a decent amount of strength, I have my reservations on “speed” training – namely, its use for the acquisition of more maximal strength. [Note from EC: I disagree completely, but this blog is all about being open-minded to new thoughts and techniques!].

Instead, I have seen more carryover from using block pulls. A block pull is simply an elevated deadlift, with heights from 1-6 inches in height.

I prefer the blocks to rack pulls because the technique is more true to a conventional pull. Most notably, the slack remains in the bar, and must be pulled out by the lifter. This is really crucial, because you want to attack these heavier weights and learn what it’s like to initiate a lot of force into a heavier bar.

In a 12-week block of training, I might use block pulls for 3-4 weeks. My training partner and I generally hit these the month before a meet, or the month before hitting weights off the floor upwards towards 90-100%. Thinking back, every weight that I have ever pulled from the floor in the past two years has come off the blocks first. 

Over the rest of the article, I want to give you some guidelines on how to fit these in, as well as how to perform them correctly.

Let’s start with the technique. Below is a video detailing the proper technique, as well as some common flaws in the block pull.

Now that you know how to do them, the obvious next question is, “where do they fit in?”

As I alluded to before, I usually place these in after eight weeks of focused training. In those previous eight weeks I would recommend you work from a high volume-low intensity phase to a mid volume-mid intensity phase, and then insert the block pull after your regular deadlifts during a high intensity-low volume phase.

The first way to overload with block pulls is by adding weight to the bar. For example, let’s say you pull a single from the floor at 90% of your 1RM. Then you could finish the session with pulling a single or two from blocks at over 90%. With this approach, the blocks should be used to eventually pull a weight over 100% of your predicted max from the ground. I have been successful hitting 110% of a 1RM from 4.5in blocks. It’s important to note, though, that on a day where you will be over-reaching on the block pull, you’d want to make that your lightest day from the ground.

The next is to overload your training through the addition of volume. This can be done via adding reps to a set, or by adding sets. In either case, we are going to use the blocks to increase the volume, as opposed to doing more volume from the floor. In this approach, let’s say you hit the same 90% of your 1RM from the floor. From there, you could go in either of two directions:

1. You could hit and additional 2–3 singles from blocks at that 90%.

2. You could take that 90% for a set (or sets) of 2 to 3 reps from the blocks.

In both scenarios, we are overloading. Personally, I tend to go more in the direction of adding reps to a single set, because that is overloading in the sense that you might not be able to do that from the ground.

There you have it: a single lift that has had tremendous carry-over into my maximal strength on the deadlift. And, it’s helped out a lot of lifters even better than me! Be careful not to abuse the block pull or make into a “ego-booster” rather than an intelligent tool to add overload in both intensity and volume to your strategy for improving the deadlift.

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Fine-Tuning Deadlift Technique

I often do technique critiques for my online consulting clients by having them send me video demonstrations of them performing their exercises.  With that in mind, I recently did one as a favor to a friend, and in the process, came across what I thought was a great example of how some quick adjustments could yield big-time benefits.  Hopefully this serves as a good "teaching moment."  First, here's his report to me:

"I've been lifting around this weight for a while - 120kgs 1x5. Think my best might have been late last year around the 130kg mark, but have had a niggling back injury that's been slowing things down a bit."

Here's his video:

Here was my feedback:

1. I would bring the feet a bit closer together. You always want your elbows outside your knees, but not in front of them...like this:


2. Along those same lines, try to get your hands in tight to the sides of the legs, too. If you were to keep your hands where they are, but bring the feet in to where they should be, the gap between your arms and the sides of your thighs would be too much.  You want them essentially touching.

3. Think of trying to use the weight of the bar to pull yourself into the bottom position and puff the chest up. I should see the logo on your shirt a lot easier from the front position.  You're kind of just dropping into that bottom position, not going down to get it.

4. The double overhand grip is fine, but you don't see a lot of people pulling huge weights with it outside of the super freaks. Unless you're willing to put in the time and effort to master the hook grip, I'd go to alternate grip.


5. Think about putting force into the ground, not just lifting the bar.  This is the big one for you, and it's why the bar wants to drift away from you instead of staying closer to the body, which is a bar path you want.

If I was programming for you, in month 1, I'd do speed deadlifts (10-12 sets of 1) at 60-75% of one-rep max on one lower body day; the heavy focus would be on driving the heels through the floor and being fast at the start.  Then, I'd let you pull heavier with the trap bar on the other day for sets of 2-4 - just to keep strength up while you're grooving the pattern.  The trap bar doesn't allow you to get out in front with the load quite as much.  

If you're looking for some great programming advice, I'd encourage you to look into Dave Dellanave's great manual, Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination.  If you're looking for more coaching cues like I outlined above, definitely check out my free video, Mastering Deadlift Technique.  You can get it by subscribing to my free newsletter in the opt-in box below.

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Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 9/12/13

Here's this week's recommended strength and conditioning reading:

How Concern Over Pitcher Usage Can Actually Give College Coaches a Recruiting Advantage - I've been very outspoken in the past about how prior overuse invariably winds up predicting future injury, and this article reflects on the topic as well - including a mention of CP athlete and Vanderbilt Tyler Beede. If you're looking for a good complementary resource, check out this page, which tracks the highest pitch counts in D1 baseball each season.

Real Core Training: Offset Loading: I have to show some love for former CP intern Kyle Arsenault for having his first article published at T-Nation.  It came out great!

Interview with Me - I appeared on the "Smart Science of Slim" podcast.  You can check it out here on YouTube:

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  • Avoid the most common deadlifting mistakes
  • 9 - minute instructional video
  • 3 part follow up series