Home Posts tagged "Push-Up"

Strength and Conditioning Stuff You Should Read: 1/12/18

I hope you're having a good week. I'm shifting this series to later in the week because I'm doing more of my writing on Sundays these days, so look for Thu/Fri "round-up"posts from here on out. Here are some good reads from around the 'net over the past week:

EC on the Seams Legit Podcast - This is a two-part interview I did with Nick Friar. We discuss baseball development and our work with (among others) Corey Kluber, Max Scherzer, and Noah Syndergaard.

8 Lessons from Lab Assisting for PRI Courses - Miguel Aragoncillo offered some awesome insights on how to make the most out of your attendance at continuing education events.

What Your Doctor Never Told You About Arthritis - This was a good guest post from Dr. Michael Infantino for Tony Gentilcore's site.

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Should We Really Contraindicate ALL Overhead Lifting?

At a seminar a few weeks ago, a college pitching coach said to me, "Well, I know that you don't like overhead lifting for pitchers, so what do you do instead?"

It's something that's falsely been attributed to me in the past, so let me go on the record by saying that I don't think all overhead lifting is created equal. Rather, I think there is a continuum we have to appreciate as we select exercises for our clients and athletes.

At the most aggressive end of the spectrum, we have overhead pressing with a barbell or dumbbells. They allow a lifter to take on the most load, and in the case of the barbell, they have the least freedom of movement (especially if we're talking about a Smith machine press). Moreover, they generally lead to the most significant compensatory movement, particularly at the lower back. I don't love these for baseball players, but don't have any problems with using them in healthy lifters from other walks of life.

However, in these more at-risk populations, we have some options as more shoulder friendly exercises that can deliver a great training effect. The bottoms-up kettlebell military press delivers a slightly different training effect more safely because more of the work is devoted to joint stability. And, I've found that the bottoms-up set-up helps the lifter to engage serratus anterior more to get the scapula "around" the rib cage.

Landmine presses are another good alternative, as I see them as a hybrid of horizontal and vertical pressing. The torso angle and "lean" into the bar help to optimize scapular upward rotation with less competing directly against gravity.

Bottoms-up carries and waiter's walks are also good options for driving overhead patterning without beating up on the joint. We use them all the time.

Regressing even further, something like a yoga push-up is technically an overhead lift because of the finish position.

So, the take-home message is that I'm not against overhead lifting; in fact, we do it all the time on a number of fronts. Moreover, these examples don't even take into account things like TRX Ys, pull-ups, and overhead medicine ball throw/stomp variations - all of which we incorporate on a daily basis with our athletes and general population clients. Not all overhead work is created equal!

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Why I Don’t Like Scap Push-ups

I used to regularly program scap push-ups in training programs in an attempt to improve shoulder health. Nowadays, though, I realize there are much better ways to get the job done. Check out today's video to learn the problems with scap push-ups as well as some better alternatives:

If you're looking for some good serratus anterior activation drills in place of scap push-ups, check out these videos:

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Random Thoughts on Sports Performance Training – Installment 14

 It's time for the next installment of this popular series here at EricCressey.com, but I've pulled in some help from an old friend for this one. Given that his new DVD set, Elite Athletic Development 2.0, was just released this week, the one-and-only Mike Robertson agreed to chime in with some sports performance tips this week. Those beginning with "MR" are from Mike, and the ones with "EC" are me. Enjoy!

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1. MR: When working with overhead athletes, learn to love specialty bars.

When it comes to athletes in general, it’s obvious that they are not powerlifters. Is it helpful if they’re strong? Absolutely. But let's be honest - no one cares about how they get strong. You don't get bonus points for deadlifting from the floor, nor do you necessarily have any reason to put a barbell on your back. At IFAST, we're huge fans of specialty bars for our athletes, but especially for our baseball players.

Trap bars are kind of a god-send, if you ask me. It's an incredibly easy exercise to coach, you reduce the mobility demands (vs. a sumo or conventional deadlift), and you can load a guy up fairly quickly without compromising technique.

On the other hand, just because we don't put a barbell on our back doesn't mean we don't squat! The safety squat bar is an invaluable tool if you train baseball players (or really, any overhead athlete). You know that your wrist, elbow and shoulder are your money makers, so the last thing you want to do is expose yourself to injury in those areas. The safety squat bar front squat is awesome for newbies, as it teaches them a front squat pattern without having to "rack" the bar using the wrists, elbows and shoulders. I'll often start my baseball players off with this variation for a month or two, just to get them back in the swing of things. If we want to load up the squat pattern a bit more, all we have to do is flip the safety bar around and now we've got a back squat progression that again unloads the upper extremity. Quite simply, if you train overhead athletes - or any athletes, for that matter - invest in a high quality trap and safety squat bar. You'll thank me later.

2. EC: Show some love to the broad jump!

For some reason, in the world of athletic performance assessments, vertical jump testing gets all the attention. In my anecdotal experience, though, broad jump proficiency has a far greater carryover to actual athletic success. Bret Contreras has also alluded to this as part of his rationale for including hip thrusts and other loaded glute bridge variations in strength training programs; horizontal (as opposed to just vertical) force production really matters in sports.

That said, one reason some coaches shy away from programming broad jump variations in training programs is that they be a bit hard on the joints and elicit more soreness in the days that follow a training session. This is easily remedied by having an athlete land on a more forgiving surface (such as grass), or by using band-resisted broad jumps.

3. MR: Appreciate that push-ups can actually improve rotator cuff function!

Push-ups are a critical component of our training programs, and for numerous reasons. You see, push-ups (versus a traditional bench press), allow for a high degree of serratus anterior development. And I’d argue that in the upper body, the serratus anterior is one of the most overlooked, yet incredibly important, muscles we have. Strengthening the serratus anterior does a host of good things for us, most notably upwardly rotating the scapula. However, what many people don't understand is how it actually improves thoracic kyphosis.

This is a really loaded topic, so I’ll try to keep it brief. Back in the day we would look at most people and say they have an excessive thoracic kyphosis, but I’m not entirely sure that’s true. What I think we see (more often than not) is a flat thoracic spine, coupled with shoulders that are rolled forward due to an inability to expand a chest wall. (Thank you, Postural Restoration Institute). Here's an example EC posted a while back of a flat thoracic spine in action:

While we tend to get caught up on the scapular attachment site (or motion) of the serratus, it also attaches anteriorly to the ribcage. If we lock the scapulae in place and engage serratus anterior, it pulls on the rib cage and gives us a more normal thoracic kyphosis. Now I’m sure you may be thinking, why do we want a kyphosis? Isn’t more extension a good thing? You need a kyphosis (or subtle rounding of the upper back), because your scapulae are curved as well; just look at this side angle to appreciate it.

Gray205_left_scapula_lateral_view-2

If you have a curved scapulae sitting on a flat upper back, you lose passive stability at the shoulder. And when we lose stability at the scapulae, we are virtually guaranteed to lose stability at the shoulder. Because the rotator cuff muscles attach to the scapula, trying to stabilize the glenohumeral (ball-and-socket) joint with a flat thoracic spine is like trying to shoot a cannon from a canoe.

Want more serratus? Incorporate more push-ups, and do them correctly. As EC notes in this video, don't just let the arms do all the work; get the shoulder blades moving. The scapula should rotate toward the armpit as you press up and away from the floor:

Get this upper back positioning squared away, and you'll improve rotator cuff control both transiently (positional stability) and chronically (better training results).

4. EC: Remember that joint range-of-motion falls off over the "athletic lifespan."

It never ceases to amaze me how much a teenage athlete will change over the course of a year - even independent of training. If a kid goes through an 8-inch growth spurt at age 13, he's usually going to go from that "loosey-goosey," completely unstable presentation to the uncoordinated, stiff movement quality. Basically, the bones have stretched out quickly, and the soft tissue structures crossing the joints haven't had time to catch up (let alone learn how to establish control of new stabilization demands).

What many folks fail to recognize is that "bad" stiffness doesn't just increase in teenage athletes, but also in the decades that follow. It's well established that joint laxity decreases over the lifespan; it's one of several reasons why your 80-year-old grandmother isn't as supremely mobile as she was in her 50s.

What's the point? A lot of the foundational mobility drills you use with your teenage athletes are probably "keepers" that people can use over the course of their entire lifespan. So, teach them perfectly early on so as to not develop bad habits that will be magnified over decades.

GoodHFStretch-300x225

5. MR: Remember that good hip development for athletes should be tri-planar.

Whether it's stealing bases, returning a punt, or changing directions on the ice, there's more to the hips than sagittal (straight ahead) plane development. Sure, it never hurts to be a stronger squatter or deadlifter, but I'd also argue that's just the tip of the iceberg. We also need our athletes to be able to move well in both the frontal and transeverse planes as well. I like to think of the sagittal plane as the "key" that unlocks the frontal and transverse plane.

If you're into the Postural Restoration Institute (PRI) , you can even take this a step further and think of it like this: we need the ability to shift into and load our left hip, while we need the strength and stability to push (or get off) our right hip, particularly in those demonstrating this heavily asymmetric postural presentation.

leftaic-275x300-2

Once we have that basic movement capacity, now we need to start cementing it. This can be done initially in the weight room, with exercises like dynamic chops, lifts, the TRX Rip Trainer, etc. I'm also a huge fan of concentric med ball throws as well. Start low to the hip initially, and then raise it up over time. Progress to eccentric as movement capacity and strength improve.

Taking this a step further, don't be shy in doing some aggressive lateral plyo progressions as well. Work on Heidens/skier jumps with a stick first to develop eccentric strength and control, then work on improving speed, power and explosiveness. Last but not least, we need to prepare our athletes for the specific demands of their sport, and this is where lateral acceleration and crossover stepping comes into play. At the end of the day, use the weight room to get strong in the sagittal plane, but don't forget that the frontal and transverse planes are critical for a highly-functioning athlete!

6. EC: Don't be afraid to progress birddogs.

The birddog is an awesome core stability and hip mobility exercise, but it can quickly become really easy for athletes with some training experience under their belt. Not all exercises need to be progressed, but the band-resisted birddog is one way to add some variety and additional challenge for this invaluable exercise:

As I noted earlier, Mike and Joe Kenn recently released their Elite Athletic Development 2.0 Seminar DVD set. I've reviewed this product now myself, and it's excellent. You can learn more HERE

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Coaching Cues to Make Your Strength and Conditioning Programs More Effective – Installment 12

It's time to bring back this coaching cues series to the forefront, as it's always been a popular one here at EricCressey.com. Here are three more cues I find myself using on a daily basis at Cressey Sports Performance:

1. "Chest before chin."

One of the biggest issues we see in folks with a lack of anterior core control and/or upper body strength is that they'll shoot into forward head posture as they descend to the bottom position of a push-up. Effectively, they're substituting head/neck movement for true scapular protraction and retraction. One cue that seems to clean the issue up quite well is the "chest before chin" recommendation - which means that the chest should arrive at the floor before the chin does. 

You do, however, need to make sure that the individual doesn't confuse this with simply puffing the chest out, which would put them in more extended (arched back) posture at the lumbar spine.

2. "Get your scaps to your armpits."

A huge goal of upper body corrective exercise program is to teach individuals how to differentiate between scapulothoracic movement and glenohumeral movement. In layman's terms, this means understanding that it's important to know when the shoulder blade is moving on the rib cage, as opposed to the upper arm (ball) moving on the shoulder blade (socket). Especially during overhead reaching, what we typically see in athletes is insufficient scapulothoracic movement and excessive glenohumeral movement - particularly in those athletes with noteworthy joint hyper mobility. This is one reason why we incorporate a lot of wall slide variations in our warm-ups.

Since we are really looking to teach good upward rotation (as opposed to just elevation), I always try to cue a rotational component to the scapular movement as the arms go overhead. I've found that "get your scaps to your armpits" can really get the message across, especially when this verbal cue is combined with the kinesthetic cue of me guiding the shoulder blades around the rib cage. These modifications can really help to kick up serratus anterior recruitment, as this video shows:

3. "Start in your jump rope position."

When you're working with young athletes on jumping variations - whether they're broad jumps, box jumps, or some other variations - many of them will start with an excessively wide stance. Then, they'll "dip" to create eccentric preloading (stretch) and the knees almost always cave in. As I've said before, if the feet are too wide, the knees have no place to go but in. My feeling is that many young athletes "default" to this pattern because a wider base of support generally supports a more stable position for a weaker athlete. Unfortunately, this position doesn't put them in a great posture for producing force.

The best coaching cues are the ones that build upon those movements an individual already knows, and most kids have jumped rope in the past. If you use a wide stance when you jump rope, you trip over the rope. Instead, you have to stay with the feet in around hip-width, which is right where we want our jump variations to occur.

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If you're looking for more coaching tutorials and exercise demonstrations, be sure to check out Elite Training Mentorship, which is updated each month with new content from Cressey Sports Performance staff members.

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What Cirque du Soleil Can Teach You About How to Build Muscle

I'm in Chicago to speak at the Perform Better Summit this weekend, but fortunately, my good friend Chad Waterbury provided this guest post for today. Enjoy! -EC

In 2001, I went with a buddy to Vegas. I wish I could say the trip was replete with all the temptations that Sin City had to offer, but it was strictly business.

At the time, I had a packed personal training calendar that kept me busy from dawn to dusk. Most of my clients were guys that wanted to build muscle, so I had them do a combination of heavy and high-rep training to failure.

That’s how bodybuilding protocols worked back then, and most of them still do today. I made my clients work hard and they trained each major muscle group about twice per week.

Now this is where my Vegas trip comes in.

That year I went to see the Cirque du Soleil show, Mystere. Many of my clients had seen the popular show and they mentioned that I should make a point to attend, mainly because of two heavily-muscled gymnastics that display mind-blowing feats of strength: the Alexis Brothers.

As my brain assimilated what I was seeing. I remember feeling blown away. What astonished me most weren’t the incredible routines they did, even though they were the coolest and most impressive things I’d ever seen.

Nope, I was absolutely shocked by the frequency they had to perform that routine. These guys were doing 10 shows per week!

What the Alexis brothers were doing defied all the “laws” of training and recovery I’d been taught in college, textbooks, and online write-ups. That moment I had an epiphany, if you will: I was going to have my clients train their underdeveloped muscles with a higher frequency. I was determined to figure out just how often a person with average genetics could stimulate a muscle group and still recover.

Eleven years later, in 2012, I had accumulated a huge amount of data on frequent training that I was ready to share. So, I released my High Frequency Training (HFT) training system to teach my audience how to build muscle using this approach.

My approach for HFT was pretty simple. First, you would choose an exercise you could do for anywhere from 12-20 reps before failure. Then you would perform a target number of total reps each day, say, 50. Finally, you would add a rep each day over the course of a few months.

It was a very good system, especially with exercises such as the pull-up, and many people gained a lot of muscle from it.

However, I still felt I could make HFT better. So over the last two years I continued to experiment with different training protocols while taking in the feedback from those who were following HFT.

What did I learn? A whole lot. Now my frequent training plans are shorter, and more specialized for each major muscle group. There are three components for making a frequent training plan work for you.

1. Understand whether a muscle responds best to high or low reps: The biceps won’t grow with high rep training; if they did, collegiate rowers would have massive guns. The quadriceps, however, will definitely grow with high reps – just ask any cyclist.

2. Stimulate the muscle group as quickly as possible: When you start working a muscle more often the last thing you want to do is spend more time in the gym. Plus, if the extra workouts are too long you’ll burn out fast. You must stimulate that muscle as quickly as possible, and it doesn’t take long if you know what to do.

Here’s one example for the pecs:

Push-up Iso-Squeeze: Get in the top position of a push-up, then attempt to pull your hands together as intensely as possible for 10 seconds (any longer than that and you won’t be recruiting the largest motor units).

HFT-pu-pic

Do 5 sets of that iso-squeeze with two minutes rest between sets every other day. It works!

3. Spare the joints: All forms of exercise stress the joints, but some do more than others. If you start doing an overhead triceps extension or leg curl every day, you’ll run into joint problems in a hurry. That’s why my latest muscle-building system, HFT2, incorporates instructional videos so you can learn how to best spare the joints and target the muscles.

As an example. Here’s how I spare the knees for the Goblet Squat:

Keep these three points in mind as you train with a higher frequency and you’ll get much better results.

Note from EC: we've already started experimenting with some of Chad's ideas on the high frequency training front, and I think it has tremendous merit. If you're looking for some direction to take the guesswork out of these applications, I'd encourage you to check out Chad's new resource, High Frequency Training 2, which is on sale through Tuesday at midnight.

HFT2


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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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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 48

Thanks to Cressey Performance Coach Greg Robins, here are five nutrition and strength and conditioning tips to kick off your weekend on the right foot.

1. Train upward rotation without true vertical pressing.

At Cressey Performance, the majority of our athletes are overhead throwers. Training overhead athletes means that you need to train upward rotation of the scapula. While pressing overhead could serve as one option, we find that it isn’t always the best option. Too often, people are unable to achieve an overhead position, while also keeping the rest of the body in correct alignment. Namely, most folks will have considerable amounts of rib flare and lumbar spine extension.

Instead, it would be advantageous to train upward rotation with exercises that allow for considerable shoulder flexion, but also promote better overall positioning. So how is that done? A few of our favorite exercises are as follows:

Yoga push ups: These offer a close chained pressing movement that allows a person to get shoulder flexion, and when cued correctly, a considerable amount of upward scapular rotation. Make sure when performing this variation that you press directly into the upwardly rotated position, while shrugging and protracting the shoulder blades. One nice cue is to “push the floor away completely.”

Landmine presses: These exercises are my favorite class of open chain pressing movement to stress upward rotation. Instead of completing the movement with the shoulder blade still packed back, shrug and protract the shoulder blade a bit. A perfect cue with this one is to “reach out” when pressing.

Obviously, if you're already someone who is shrugged up and protracted all day (desk jockey), it's not a good fit for you.  In a more athletic population, though, it's usually a very good fit.

2. Use the “stir the pot” exercise...safely.

Anterior core weakness is something we combat on a daily basis here at CP. With the plethora of overly extended athletes that come through our door, we are always looking for new ways to challenge their core stability. While the standard prone bridge is a staple, after some training, we need to progress individuals to something more challenging.

Stir the pot is a fantastic way to do just that. The added demands of both the stability ball, and the small amount of movement from the shoulders adds a difficult variation to the aforementioned prone bridge.

Please note that even with former Division 1, high caliber athletes, this exercise may be a little too advanced. We recommend that you wipe the sweat off your forearms before doing this drill, and be sure to dismount the ball safely - or just omit this exercise until you're prepared to do so. Watch the video below (all the way through) to see exactly what I mean:

3. Make your “fillers” more effective

The idea of “fillers” has become quite popular, and for good reason: everyone is busy, and utilizing them is a terrific way to maximize training efficiency. So, what’s a filler?

Most commonly, fillers are low-level activation, mobility, stability, and motor control drills. They should not be strenuous enough to take away from your program, but when used correctly, they can aid in improving movement quality, outputs, and results. In order to make them the most effective, fillers should be personalized to fit your body type.

Hypermobile (excessively “loose”) people should spend time getting stable, and hypomobile (“stiff”) people should spend time getting loose.

Loose people are already able to get to just about any range of motion they desire. In fact, they are generally able to get to some ranges that are not desirable. Therefore, they are better served doing low-level activation and stability based drills between sets. This will help them “own” positions better and promote better control within their ranges of motion.

Stiff people, on the other hand, need to fit in some extra mobility work as often whenever possible. Their time is best spent working on various mobility drills, as well as some low level activation drills. Doing so will help them to move better in general, and get into more advantageous positions when performing the exercises in their program.

The drills each population chooses can be individualized based on the needs of the person and / or the demands of the exercise with which they are paired.

Many hypermobile people need better core, hip, and shoulder stability. So, drills like dead bugs, bowler squats, wall slides, body weight Turkish get-ups, and rotator cuff activation drills work great.

Many stiff people could use more thoracic spine (upper back) mobility, hip mobility, and ankle mobility. Drills like ankle, hip, and thoracic spine mobilizations are solid options.

Regardless of your body type, choose variations that don’t compete too heavily with the exercises with which they are paired. Furthermore, choose variations that hit areas which need extra attention for YOU, or that will aid in YOUR ability to reach good positioning with the exercise in question.

4. Put your lacrosse ball in an old tube sock.

If you use lacrosse ball to roll out against the wall, chances are you have a heck of a time getting the thing not to slip, and fall to the ground. Next thing you know, it’s like the meatball from the old nursery rhyme, rolling across the floor and out the door - or however it goes.

One tip I picked up while reviewing the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Claire Davies was to place your ball in a long tube sock. By doing so you can keep your hand on the sock and make sure the ball stays up the entire time. Give it a try!

TriggerPointTherapyWorkbook

5. Try an Icee for a Refreshing Treat!

With a few days well over 90 degrees here in Massachusetts, I’ve been pulling out every trick I know to stay cool. It’s a well known fact that 80% of my shirts are black to conceal the mass amount of sweating I do on a regular basis. One of my favorite tricks also happens to be great way to curb hunger and keep my sweet tooth at bay. If you’re looking for an easy, low-calorie way to cool off and stay satiated try out this recipe:

Ingredients:

4-6 oz of water

5 or so large ice cubes

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 fresh squeezed lemon

(optional: add stevia for sweetness)

Directions: Place all these ingredients in a blender, blend, and enjoy.

This strawberry lemonade ice will hit the spot on a hot day, or any day, where you need to quiet the groan of your hungry belly!

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Exercise of the Week: Slideboard Bodysaw Push-up

It goes without saying that push-up variations are among the best exercises you can incorporate for athletes for a number of reasons.  One problem with them, however, is that some athletes eventually get to the point that they can't progress them to make them challenging enough to provide an ample training effect.  That's why I like the slideboard bodysaw push-up; check out the video below to learn why:

Looking for more exercise tutorials like this?  Be sure to check out Elite Training Mentorship, where several coaches (myself included) upload these on a monthly basis - in addition to staff in-services, webinars, articles, and case studies.

EliteTrainingMentorship-1

 

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Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 40

Today, Greg Robins has five more tips to help you get your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs on track.

1. Clean up your unilateral deadlift technique.

If there is one exercise that I see butchered on a daily basis, it’s the 1-arm, 1-leg RDL. Furthermore, it makes coaches look like they are speaking French when they try to get people to do it right. It’s a great exercise, but here are the issues:

• It’s used right away in the majority of popular programs as the staple of unilateral hip hinging.
• It’s there because it’s difficult to hurt yourself doing, mainly due to the lack of weight in an effort to maintain some semblance of balance. Therefore, people just assume that over time people will figure it out and get better.

Just because doing it incorrectly with 5lbs is “safe” doesn’t mean it’s that productive; especially if you still can’t get the form right. It’s a hard exercise that I feel has somehow got the reputation of something easy.

Instead of getting frustrated, try doing the exercise to a dead stop every rep. You can use a KB, or elevate a DB on some mats. Allow yourself to reset every rep, just like a normal deadlift. Having two points of contact, albeit for just a moment, is enough to keep you in check.

2. If you’re stuck, evaluate your approach.

“Before I studied the art, a punch to me was just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. After I learned the art, a punch was no longer a punch, a kick no longer a kick. Now that I've understood the art, a punch is just like a punch, a kick just like a kick. The height of cultivation is really nothing special. It is merely simplicity; the ability to express the utmost with the minimum." -Bruce Lee

There are three types of people in the gym. The first is a group of people who don’t know a thing about training philosophy. The second is a group who know enough to understand what’s important and what’s not. The third is a group who knows just enough to completely twist up their training.

The majority of you are in the third group. The other two groups are the minority. The majority is making little progress. The minority is continually improving. If this was graph here’s what it would look like:

Progress

 

If you are making good progress, keep going. If you are stalling, you may be somewhere in the middle of my chart. In this case, really evaluate your training approach. Somewhere along the way you may have begun to acquire just the right amount of exercise variations, percentage schemes, and who knows what else to halt your progress.

At this point, do two things:

One, ask “why?” Why does jumping help, why does speed work help, why this and why that? You can’t go back to group one, so you have to try and get to group 2. This means you take something you read, and you look at where that person gets their information. When you do that, you might find that jumps aren’t doing what you thought they did, either is speed work, or that new exercise with all the bells and whistles.

Second, get back the secret of group 1. When you are in the gym, shut down your analytical side. Work hard, have fun, and trust your gut.

3. Utilize benches for better push-up regression/progression.

4. Do more complexes.

Maybe it’s me, but complexes are not talked about or used nearly enough. They had a stint three years ago or so where they were all the rage, but are slowly becoming worthy of a spotlight on VH1’s “Where Are They Now.”

I can assure you they are not hung over, face down in a pillow like 70% of the other people on that show. Instead, they are alive and well and deserve a spot in your training.

A complex is any series of exercises, done in sequence, with the same weight, preferably without putting the weight down.

Why I like them:

• Limited equipment
• Time efficient
• Helps groove form on major lifts
• Time Under Tension
• Doesn’t involve running
• Sucks in just the right way
• Tension, again

Things to remember:

• They are taxing. I prefer to see them used at the end of a training session.
• If used on off days, I prefer to see them done at a conservative intensity OR done all out if you are not lifting the next day. For example, if you take the weekend off lifting, Saturday would be a good spot to hit complexes.

Here are two of my favorites:

Barbell:

Barbell RDL x 6-10
Barbell Row x 6-10
Barbell Squat and Press x 6-10
Barbell Reverse Lunge w/ Front Squat Grip x 6-10/leg

Kettlebell:

Double KB Swing x 5–8
Double KB Clean x 5–8
Double KB Press x 5–8
Double KB Front Squat x 5-8

5. Consider another variation of the "plyo push-up."

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