Archive for the ‘Strength Training’ Category

Whenever someone asks me what’s it like being a trainer, I give them my honest answer.

It’s frickin’ awesome!

Okay ‚ÄĒ¬†not all parts of it are fun.

It’s a sweet gig, and I can’t imagine doing anything else, but at the same time it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.

But seriously though, wearing sweatpants to work is awesome.

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I’ve been a personal trainer for four years now, and I still can’t fully decide which population I have more of a challenge with, Type A personalities or people who need to be spoon fed. On one end, you have the go-getters. The people who are gung ho about their goals.¬†While on the other, you have the little-to-no compliance folks. With these guys, they peruse social media telling there friends they wish they had their motivation.

If I had no choice but to choose who I have more of a challenge with, I’d probably veer towards the Type A’s…SLIGHTLY.

And I say slightly because…

They Overlook The Value Of Rest and Recovery

 

We obviously know the importance of it. Unfortunately, this premise gets swept under the rug too often. Hell,¬†virtually every supplement out there is meant to hack your way into better performance. Finding a compromise and spitting facts at someone who’s hell-bent on training six days/week to damn near everyday is like trying to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s a tough pill to swallow for productivity junkies because they feel like they have to train a ton otherwise their progress will stall. Unless you’ve been injected with the super solider serum, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll achieve optimal results with that approach, let alone sustain it.

Remember: all you do in the gym is break your body down. I believe that you need to train with intensity and ferocity, but you also need to follow it up with a period of rest and recovery. 

Progress occurs outside the gym, not in it. Quality > Quantity.

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Let’s face it, training is incredibly demanding. It’s a beautiful thing to see what your body can do when you push yourself; but there’s no reward if you’re not willing to do that. At the same time, you also have to appreciate that more isn’t always better.

There’s a delicate balance between being conservative and getting out of your comfort zone ‚ÄĒ and you’ll find that operating between two extremes can produce positive outcomes, especially when you’re trying to boost your performance on the field.

To read the full article on STACK, click HERE.

 

1. Perform Face-Pulls and Band Pull Aparts to keep your shoulders healthy

 

The shoulder is perhaps the most commonly injured area not just in the athletic community, but also the general population. They’re a ticking time bomb because at some point they’re eventually going to flip you the finger ‚ÄĒ whether it’s from inappropriate training, or from¬†poor posture.

The simplest, most-effective way to reduce likelihood of shoulder pain is to develop the muscles of the upper back. Hear me out, Face-Pulls and Band Pull Aparts are not just corrective exercises or activation drills. Applying them appropriately into your training can strengthen the weak links in your upper back and improve posture. Win-win.

2. Use Fat Gripz in your warm-up sets

 

Focus, concentration, and technique are more important than a lot of people think. These are all critical when working up to an appreciable load on compound movements like a deadlift or a bench press.

While using Fat Gripz is a great tool to improve your grip strength, another cool thing about it too is that by adding them in your warm-up sets it actually enables you to lift more weight after you’ve taken them off. You’re essentially making the exercise slightly more difficult to trigger the heightened involvement of your nervous system. By definition, you’re recruiting more muscle, but with less loading.

3. Prioritize single-leg work

 

Before you throw the yellow¬†flag, I‚Äôm not¬†against traditional squatting and deadlifting. They’re still vital to a well-balanced strength training program.¬†Your body, however, takes a beating. There‚Äôs only so much load that it can tolerate before you start to get diminishing returns.¬†Splitting the load up in half, and prioritizing single-leg work¬†still provides you with a comparable training effect, if not better.

You’re not imposing a ton of sheer and compressive force on the spine, and since sports are played on mostly on leg, it’s much more sport-specific.

4. Do Banded Sumo Walks to activate your glutes

 

Your glutes are responsible for producing a ton of force, so you’re not doing yourself any favors by not paying close attention to them. If they’re firing on all cylinders, your knees and/or low back end up taking a hit. Activating your glutes by simply adding a mini-band around your knees and forcing your knees out while you walk side to side enables¬†you to move and perform better.

5. Pair up your strength work with mobility drills

 

Freakish levels of strength should be commended and appreciated, but I’ve learned the hard way that being strong doesn’t mean a thing¬†if you move like a tin-can. Placing an emphasis on mobility goes a long way because if you can’t move well…guess what? You’re not going to perform¬†well.

Have fun sitting on the bench.

Understand that being strong and mobile are inseparable ‚ÄĒ the two go hand in hand. A great way to avoid the monotony of mobility work is to pair them up with your strength work.

Main Exercise                              Mobility Drill

  1. Squat                             Stationary Spiderman w/ reach
  2. Bench Press                  Quad Hip Flexor Mobilization
  3. Deadlift                          Prone 1-Arm Trap Raise

1. Box Jumps for conditioning

 

I’ve said this many times in the past, I’m not a fan of box jumps¬†as a tool for conditioning, The purpose of plyometric work is to learn how to generate force (accelerate), but more so, how to absorb it (decelerate). You are defeating the purpose jumping up and down on a tall box¬†like a chimpanzee on crack. More pressingly, they become very demanding on your body when you perform them in that fashion. This opens the door for potential injury.

There are far better options. I’d opt for something with less impact that’s not going to sacrifice future training quality (kettlebell swings, med ball slams, battle ropes, sled work).

2. Push-Ups with elbows flared out

 

PushUpForm

Even though Push-Ups are underrated ‚ÄĒ and don’t get the respect it deserves for its versatility ‚ÄĒ being able to do them properly¬†is not an easy task for beginners, especially women. Push-Ups with your elbows flared out isn’t an ideal position. A technical error like that becomes problematic simply because it puts undue stress onto your elbows and shoulders. Moreover, what you’ll typically see¬†is poor anterior core engagement and virtually no recruitment of the triceps.

The ideal position you want is that of an arrow ‚ÄĒ placing your left elbow at 8 o’clock, and right elbow at 4 o’clock. Initially, it’s going to be significantly harder, but it will pay dividends in the long haul.

3. Overhead Press

 

OverheadPressForm

Rule of thumb: if you can’t get your arms up overhead without dropping your neck (forward head posture), or over-arching your lower back, then pressing a load over your head is out of the question. Earn the right to do it.

To that end, overhead pressing has never been a¬†main staple in my workouts nor most of my clients, for good reason. The pertinent issue is¬†that a lot of folks can’t do them pain-free. And, in the grand majority of cases, people¬†just demonstrate¬†piss-poor form (top) ‚ÄĒ it’s like watching a live grenade about to go off.

Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should totally discard the movement. In fact, I still have a few of my clients do them from time to time because it is a great exercise. It all comes down to risk-reward.

Bottom line: if you can perform them then have at it… but, do so in an efficient manner (bottom).

4. Deadlift Butchery

 

Many lifters have a tendency to hyperextend through the lower back at the top of the deadlift. Admittedly, I’ve also¬†been guilty of this in the past. This aberrant movement becomes more pronounced as the load gets heavier and heavier. ¬†Don’t believe me? Go to any commercial gym and see for yourself.

In all fairness though, those same people are just unaware of how to actually use their hips. ¬†We’re always going to resort to the path of least resistance. So, in this case it’s much easier to rely on our lower back than our¬†glutes (or lack thereof).

Luckily, this can be easily rectified by pumping the brakes and backing off on the heavy loads to give yourself some time to… yanno, work on technique.

Two ways¬†I’ve found to be extremely helpful in dissociating low back movement for true hip extension is the Hip Thrust and Sumo Deadlift.

5. “Squatty” Kettlebell Swing

 

There’s a world of difference between a knee-dominant movement, and a hip-dominant movement. With that in mind, the most butchered exercise out of the bunch would have to be the Kettlebell Swing. If applied appropriately and executed¬†correctly, it can improve hip strength and build a solid backside. Treating it like a squat, however, ruins many of the benefits.

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