Build Your Deadlift

Deadlift

When it comes to deadlifting, the image that most commonly comes to mind is that guy or girl in your gym ripping a loaded barbell off the ground.  And for some, that is their end goal.  To pull as much weight as possible off the ground.  But for others, that’s not their goal.  They just want to look and feel awesome in their everyday life.  Deadlifting from the floor may not be for you, but hinging in some capacity will build strength around one of the fundamental movements we do every singe day.  The barbell deadlift is one variation of a hinge, and one that may not be the right fit for you, but you’re in luck.  There are countless other ways to hinge, we just have to explore your movement capabilities to find the one that is the best fit.  Like Cinderellas shoe…or the porridge in Goldilocks.

Fear

What if you avoid the deadlift because you already hate the very idea because of all the horror stories you’ve heard from friends, neighbors, or that one guy who couldn’t move for a week after picking something off the floor.  If the very idea of deadlifting sends your spinal discs running, then maybe you should read on about building from the ground up.  With a properly executed deadlift or hip hinge you can do wonders for creating a resilient back.

“What’s In a Name”

How did the deadlift get its name?  Without a doubt it came from picking up the dead during the plague.  100% true story.  Probably.  Maybe not.  But here’s a Monty Python clip anyway.

 

Deadlift From the Ground Up

When it comes to executing a solid hinge/deadlift, this is the thought process that I go through, especially if we’re working on building back from an injury, like something in the low back.  We start from the ground up.

Patterning Drills

These two patterning drills teach us what constitutes a good hinge vs a sub optimal hinge vs a squat.  The quickest and easiest way to execute this is to start from a kneeling position, then progress to standing.

Tall Kneeling Hinge– This is a great place to start as there is no risk of injury in this pattern, and it takes some of the miscues at the ankles and knees out of the equation.  What we get is a solid patterning drill to set us up for success when we move to a standing position.

 

Band Assisted Patterning– This drill is good for two things, teaching a solid bar path, and the band creating some reflexive tension in the lats and core.

Band Pullthrough– While the above drill was great for bar positioning, and teaching lat tension, the pullthrough utilizes a band to actually pull you into that hip hinge position we’re looking for.

Let’s Add Some Load

Kettlebell Deadlift– A great intro into a loaded hinge, the kettlebell keeps the weight centrally located between your legs.  This eliminates any problems that mobility restrictions may play in not being able to do it.  What you can also do to create an easier transition into loaded hinges is elevate the kettlebell so that there is less movement required.

The one drawback to the kettlebell is that you can only load so much before it becomes easy.  At AMP, our heaviest bell is 48kg or about 105lbs.  So there is a bit of a ceiling.  You could extend that by using two bells, but at a certain point we may need to progress to a new lift.

 

Hex Bar–  The Hex Bar is a great progression and can be a good starting point mostly because of the way it’s designed.  Since the weight is on the outside of your body, it’s easier to maintain an upright position, which means a lot less stress on the back.  That can ease a lot of people fear right off the bat.

 

Elevated Surface– This is our first barbell lift.  It is important to note that you may never get to this point, and that’s ok.  Not everyone is built to use a barbell.  With the Hex Bar, the load was on the outside, the barbell creates a new challenge with the bar/load in front of you. This presents a slightly different approach, as if there are mobility restrictions, you may not get to the bar without compensations.

Before you lift from the floor, lets see how you do with an elevated surface.  Now this can be off of blocks as shown in the video, but you can also perform rack pulls if your gym allows it.  Either way, the elevated surface will create an exercise requiring less range of motion.  The decrease in requisite range of motion makes for an “easier” exercise.

 

The deadlift can have a tendency to make people cringe.  It’s probably the one exercise that is met with the most fear and trepidation because it has the reputation for being injurious to the back.  However, when you go through the progressions laid out before you, there should be no need for concern.


Technique Tuesday: Ab Rollout

Technique Tuesday: The Ab Rollout

The Ab Rollout is one of those exercises that you’ve likely seen on late night infomercials when you’re up waaay past your bed time.  For 3 easy payments of $19.99, you too can have the abs of your dreams by using this fitness wheel.  The fitness wheel will give you all the ab gainz you could possibly want.

If you’ve read previous articles on core training or the plank, you’ll remember that the role of the core is to resist movement.  You want to maintain spinal stability in a neutral position while moving.  That is one of the great things about the plank.  It’s an isometric anti extension exercise.  The Ab Rollout is at its base level, a plank, but with movement, which will make it significantly more challenging.

In order to perfect the Ab Rollout, there are a few steps that you’ll need to take to get there.

  • Perfect the Plank
  • Avoid Common Mistakes
  • Earn Your Next Progression

Perfect the Plank

The first step in doing an Ab Wheel Rollout is hammering down the technique of your plank.  If you are unable to maintain a plank with a neutral spine, then you must master this technique before graduating to something more challenging.  .

Common Mistakes

There are a few breakdowns of the rollout that we want to avoid in order to get the most out of the exercise.

  • Leading with the Arms
    • Performing the movement by leading with the arms will put the rest of the body in a less than optimal position.  This could be due to strength issue.  A great cue to remember is to think about initiating the exercise from the hips, while keeping the glutes contracted.  Then letting the arms and upper body following.
  • Low Back Arching/Caving
    • This is a result of not enough bracing, or just plain not being strong enough to perform the exercise.  You have two choices.  Brace harder through your abs and glutes, or pick an option that you can perform.  We want to avoid putting the back into a compromised position.
  • Hips Shifting Back
    • This is more of an issue on the return to start.  Rather than pull the wheel back while keeping a neutral spine, there’s a tendency to just shift the hips back up.  This disengages your core and leads to 1/2 an exercise, which could be another sign of some core weakness.

Earn Your Next Progression

Much like you wouldn’t jump from a stationary lifestyle to squatting 200 pounds on your first day of training ( I haven’t seen a couch to 200lb squat program yet) you wouldn’t try a rollout before conquering the basics.  This means we don’t advance until we’re ready.

  1. Physio Ball- In the kneeling position, place the stability ball in front of you. Reaching your arms out at a 45 degree angle, place your hands flat against the ball. Once you have braced your core you can begin extending. Be sure to contract everything, if you keep constant tension through your body it will make the movement as well as maintaining your form through the exercise much easier. Once you have extended as far as you can while keeping that modified plank position, you can start retracting your body to the start position under control.
  2. Glide Disc Negatives- from the same kneeling position, place each of your hands on the glide disks. With a tight, contracted core and glutes, extend your body to that modified plank position. While maintaining that good form, continue moving your hips toward the ground as your arms extend further overhead, until you are completely parallel to the floor. The key is control. Once your form begins to suffer or you have reached the end point of the extension, collapse to the ground, sliding your hands to your sides and push-up off the floor and return to the start position.
  1. Ab Wheel Rollouts- This is it! All your regressions and practice have lead to this exercise. Begin in the same manner, kneeling on the floor grasp either side of the Ab Wheel and begin in that kneeling plank position and once again think about bringing yourself into a plank while the hips and arms extend out to the floor.  Once you have extended out parallel to the floor or as far as you can while maintaining control and proper form, you will engage your lats while keeping your glutes contracted and return to the kneeling plank position.


Prevent Shoulder Injuries With 5 TRX Shoulder Exercises

The shoulder is a complex joint that requires a lot of moving pieces to maintain some degree of health. To prevent pain and injury, the thoracic spine, scapula, gleno-humeral joint and upper arm all need to work together, without compensations and restrictions.

Many of these TRX exercises can accomplish that goal, training the muscles that attach at the shoulder to function the way they are supposed to.

A myriad of exercises will improve or maintain shoulder health, using bands, dumbbells, or bodyweight; but the TRX brings a unique dimension. A steeper angle means more resistance, making the exercise more intense, and vice versa. Bonus! Because every exercise has some degree of angle, your core musculature must constantly be engaged—leading to a better relationship for the whole body.  This equals way more gains.

While these exercises might look easy,trust me they are not.  Intention of movement is vital to the success of these exercises and your shoulder health.

After mobilizing and activating the areas that need the corresponding exercises, make sure the prehab drills stick by incorporating systemic strength exercises involving the shoulder joint. Exercises like the TRX Low Row and the TRX Chest Press will add strength to the newfound ranges of movement and engage newly activated muscles.

Check out the full article at Stack.com


Build Strong Hamstrings to Avoid Pulls & Strains

Explosive athletes, or those who require short-burst sprints, like football players and track runners, are usually the most susceptible to hamstring strains due to the nature of their sports. However, even weekend warriors are not immune from injuring their hamstrings.

But there is hope. These injuries can be prevented. The main precursor causing one to suffer a hamstring strain is having previously injured that muscle (or part of the muscle group). Adding a few hamstring exercises to your training program can keep you off the disabled list with a strain. Hamstring strains can cost an athlete weeks or even months of training and competing, so it’s important to take preventative measures to stave off an injury.

 

Aside from a history of hamstring injuries, strength, flexibility, and stability all factor into preventing hamstring strains.

Lack of Eccentric Strength
Hamstring injuries occur when there is a rapid change from acceleration to deceleration or when you approach top speed during a sprint. Since the hamstrings act to decelerate your leg during full sprints, lacking eccentric strength cause a strain. To prevent injury, it’s important that your hamstrings have the ability to control flexion at the knee while lengthening.

 

Lack of Glute Strength/Activation
In addition to being a prime mover for knee flexion, the hamstrings also perform hip extension, a role they share with the gluteus maximus muscles. The glutes are a huge, powerful muscle. Just take a look at the backside of any Olympic sprinter. However, when there is little or no activation/strength in the glutes, the hamstrings pick up the slack. They have to act synergistically, not solo. This is a recipe for a hamstring strain.
Lack of Flexibility/Mobility
Most people complain that their hamstrings are “tight” or “tense,” without actually having an issue with the muscles themselves. If you lack flexibility, it’s important to figure out why and not just crank away on the muscle through various stretching techniques. Lack of flexibility or having too much tension in the muscle can be a recipe for injury when you call upon it to fire quickly and it’s too locked up to do anything. You need flexibility so the muscle isn’t forced past its extensibility potential.

Muscle Imbalance
Many of us are naturally quad dominant, and our lives and daily patterns exacerbate the imbalance. But that doesn’t mean we should ignore our posterior chain. Too much quad strength over hamstring strength can lead to anterior pelvic tilt. When the posterior chain gets ignored, this condition becomes more aggravated.

 

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” —Benjamin Franklin

Check out the full article HERE


Wednesday Warm-up: Bird-Dog

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Week 2 of our warm-up series takes a look at the very first exercise you’ll perform in our sequence.  The bird-dog.

The bird-dog is essentially a version of the deadbug, but in a quadruped position.  The demands of the exercise require you to maintain core control while moving your opposite arm and leg and this is where some falter.  Just like with the deadbug, take the exercise slow and remember the point of the bird-dog is to get the core engaged, but also provides activation for the back extensors.

What’s likely to happen if you rush this exercise:

  • Arms and legs flail under zero control
  • Low back arches
  • Leg comes up too high
  • Hip rotation to one side
  • Fall over

 

What we want to see from the bird-dog  is extension of the arm and leg, almost as if you are reaching as far back behind you towards the walls.  Really, you are trying to create distance between your hand and opposite foot.  Now while you are moving your opposite limbs, you’re trying avoid a few things.

  • Keep the hips from rotating
  • Keep the ribs from flaring
  • Keep your low back from arching

From this exercise you’ll gain the ability to stabilize your low back during upper and lower limb movement and overall lead to better spinal health.

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