Why you need to do the Deadlift

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Monday….universally known as chest day to every gym going man/man child.

I’ve never been one to follow the trend, Mondays for me have either been a Squat or Deadlift type movement.
A few years back I was working as a personal trainer in Virgin Active in Chiswick. We had our own resident bodybuilding champion, Mr natural universe, Roger waters.
We would talk about his training methods and he mentioned he never did any Deadlifts because it was too much of a compound movement.
(Compound = exercises that uses more than one joint)

One day in the gym I overhead him talking to one of his clients, they were watching another trainer teaching a lady how to Deadlift, Rogers client watched the lady perform the exercise and then started shaking his head and scrunching up his face, he said it was too much of a compound movement and that he preferred isolation.
Roger agreed.

Let’s keep in mind that Roger is a mature trainer and performing high risk exercises at heavy loads is probably not the best. This isn’t to say that old people shouldn’t learn how to deadlift, this is purely what I know about the guy.
If you’re lucky enough to see him train, you can see that he thrives on the attention, so imagine if he tried to perform the deadlift and could only lift a small amount. Not going to happen!

I personally felt that as a trainer, you should be able to teach your clients how to perform the deadlift and make sure they do it correctly. How many times have people had to lift something off the floor?
It’s an exercise for teaching posture, body movement, breathing, control, strength and power. It’s a real world exercise!
Not only do you miss out on the strength gains but what we do know is that lifting maximal weight can increase your growth hormone.

For some strange reason I took it personally, I felt like he was giving a disservice to the client and the industry that I was working in…also here’s a picture of Arnold deadlifting, so it’s clear that bodybuilders do Deadlift.

arnold_schwarzenegger_powerlifting_deadlift

It’s important to remember that as personal trainers, our clients are completely individual. Most of the time trainers are training their clients like they would train themselves. Don’t be that guy.

Why do you need to Deadlift?

Strengthen your posterior chain.
Learn how to lift weight correctly.
Maintain trunk and thoracic alignment.
Feel like a caveman/woman when lifting.
The glutes, lower back and hamstrings, are what we call the posterior chain. These muscles work collectively to help hold your posture, generate power and speed, and works in balance with the rest of the body to help with movement.
Deadlifts also have a positive effect on our growth hormone levels, usually secreted after intense bouts of exercise, this hormone makes a very potent fat burner.
Deadlifting alone doesn’t help to lose fat, but added to a range of primal movements, this exercise is definitely one to keep in your arsenal.

How do you deadlift?

Although a very simple movement, it can be extremely technical.
The first step in coaching someone through a deadlift is looking at how their body is currently moving, what we’re looking to see is how well they hold their thoracic (mid spine), looking at how they control their trunk and hip, and whether their knees, foot and ankle is working in alignment.
Below is a video of the Wall Deadlift. This drill helps teach people to sit back and use less of your quads and more of your glutes and hamstrings.

The idea is obviously not to smash your face against the wall, the knees aren’t allowed to exceed past the foot, this forces you to tilt your hips back and use your Glute as you lift yourself up.
If you find you can’t get low enough, then your issues lies with your mobility and flexibility.

The next progression……

Rack Pull

This exercise calls for a rack, power cage or blocks.
It’s great for those with mobility issues, tight shoulders/chest. Due to the increased height of the bar, it’s easier for you to hold your posture.
Note: The picture below shows a guy deadlifting from a height. Note the rounded shoulders and lower back. The bar is way too low forcing his posture to round.

how-not-to-deadlift-bad-form

How to perform the Rack Deadlift –

Rack-pull
As you can see from the above image, the barbell is placed on the rack, level with the knees or just above.
From this position, push through the heels of your feet, force the hips forward and squeeze the glutes at the top of the motion.
Other key points –
Chest up and out
Imagine someone pulling your shoulders back and down
Grip the bar tightly
Make sure you lift from your heels.
Back flat.

This is an important exercise. It teaches you to hold your mid spine in position, locking your scapular in place. A good exercise to teach you about posture and positioning.
Once you’ve understood how to do it, progress onto the full version of the Deadlift.

The Full Deadlift

Aim for 3-5 repetitions. The Deadlift is a strength and power exercise. Performing hundreds of these for endurance doesn’t help. As you fatigue your technique is compromised and if you hurt yourself it’s your own fault.
It’s just common sense.

Key Points –
Keep bar close to legs as you lift upwards
Keep elbows straight as you lift
Drive through heels of your feet
Lift explosively through your hips.
Head position up. (There has been a big debate about whether to keep the head in alignment facing down to the floor or look up. According to strength training legend Mel Siff, flexing your neck (looking down) causes your back muscles to relax, while extending your neck helps them contract.)
Pause 2 seconds after every lift. (It is called a Deadlift for a reason. Momentum is not your friend here)

T-Nation – Controversial Deadlift Tips

As you get stronger, and are able to lift more weight.
There may be sticking points where you find that you lose your posture because the weight is too heavy.
Try Deadlifting from blocks, raising the height of the bar from the floor so that you don’t lose your posture.

If you found this helpful, please share. Remember to send your videos to me and I’ll help critique technique where I can.
Thanks for reading!

First Date Exercises for Guys

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Here’s the scenario….You’re out and about doing errands and you suddenly see a girl that catches your eye. You decide to take action there because those clips you’ve seen on “pick up” and mystery’s pick up technique tells you that you have 3 seconds to make a move or you end up hesitating. Amazingly she’s giving you all the “IOI’s” and “kino” and you end up number closing her.
Boom! Nice….

If you aren’t so bold the scenario could end up like this…You’ve succumb to one of the thousand adverts for various dating websites and you’ve set up an online dating profile. You eventually find a good match and you’ve scheduled a date/time and place.

Good job!

As time passes by you start thinking, what should I wear, do I need to buy more clothes? should you cut your beard a few days before so you have enough stubble but not too much! ?

More time passes by and you eventually calm your nerves and think about places to take your date.

Now assuming it’s Monday and you’ve set up a date for the weekend you have roughly 5-6 days to get ready.

Follow the steps below to find out what the key exercises are to impress your first date.

 

incline chest press
Dumbbell Incline chest press – 4×8 – (3 sec eccentric)

 

According to EMG studies, researchers wanted to find out which exercise was the best at activating a muscle and as it happens the best exercise was the incline chest press.

To perform, raise the seat to an appropriate level, (raising it too high will cause the shoulders to work more than the pecs), aim for a 45 degree angle. Push the weight up explosively at full range and slowly lower the weight  down for 3 secs.

Chin up – 4×5 – 5 sec eccentric

The chin up is an important part of any routine as it targets all your “show muscles” think biceps, back and rear deltoids (shoulders). The most important part of this exercise is the “dropping” phase, you want to be able to drop slow as 5 seconds. This forces your biceps and back muscles to contract to slow the movement down.
Strength coaches understand that to build muscle time under tension is an important factor to consider when designing a good “hypertrophy” programme.

chin up 2
 

The chin up is an incredibly challenging exercise and the truth is most people can’t perform this exercise without help.
The next best thing is the modified body row, which is still a powerful exercise in its own right.

Inverted Bodyweight Row – 4×10-15

modified row
 

As you can see from the picture, the lady is performing the exercise with knee’s bent but she’s using a pronated grip (hands facing forward), what I want you to do is perform the exercise with your hands facing towards you.
This will put more emphasis on the biceps as well more focus on the back.

Make sure that you pull and retract your shoulders back rather than allow it to round forward.

Here’s an example –

 

The lady seen in the pink top has perfect form where her shoulders are pulled back. Unfortunately the man in the blue is finding this a little bit difficult and his shoulders are starting to elevate and round forward.
You can also notice the trainer standing in the background not really looking at his technique or modifying it. BAD TRAINER!

There you have it, 2/3 exercises that will help you look great on your date, hopefully knowing that you’ve done all you can physically will also improve your confidence.

The moral is, it doesn’t matter how you look as long as you have confidence.

Have a great date and let me know how you get on  😉

Start up guide to running

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The weather has finally brightened up here and I’ve started to see people in Barnes, take to the streets for their daily jog.

Here at our Personal training studio in Barnes, Mortlake, we’ve been working on getting people ready to run.

One of the common issues with running is that the repeated motion and impact can cause more injuries than you’d like.

Tom, 38, works at a desk for 8 hours taking few breaks in between. Constantly on the phone and typing, has caused his shoulders to round forward. Suffering from neck and lower back pain, he’s decided to start running to get back into shape aiming for a 10km run, he’s also joined a local running club to help with motivation.

Imagine, the type of posture that he’s in for 8 hours of the day.
Staring at the computer screen, his head has leaned forward putting extra pressure on his cervical spine, his muscles at the back of his neck and shoulders have had to bear the load causing them to tighten up.
Tension from stress of working have also made his neck and shoulders unusually tight.

Tom’s hip flexors have also tightened up, sitting down for 8 hours have made his core weak. As the hip flexors have become tighter he now has slight anterior pelvic tilt, causing his lower back to strain.

Tom is a broken man with a passion to run.

forward neck posture

Here’s how we helped him.

Work on Improving his Thoracic mobility

Since we know his shoulders have started to round, the first plan of action is improving his mobility and flexibility.

Side lying thoracic extension

This movement helps to open his thoracic and lengthen his back and chest.

Perform this movement by –

Lying on your side with both hands on top.
Legs have to be in a 90 degree bend
Lift one arm up and bring it behind you till it rests on the floor, the idea is to be able to reach the floor with your opposite shoulder

thoracic mobility side lying rotation 1

Shoulder Dislocations

As funny as the name sounds, its perfect for people who are tight in their chest and shoulders.

shoulder dislocation 1

You can perform this movement with a resistance band, light bar, or just your arms.

Lift the band/bar above your head, keeping the elbows straight, pull the arms back behind you.

shoulder dislocation 2

The end position should be like the above picture.

Reverse the movement back up to the top, keeping your elbows straight as you lift.
If you have trouble lifting the band up again, bend the elbows to make the movement easier until you can do them with arms straight.

Resisted No Money Exercise

This exercise again sounds terrible, this came to our attention when Eric Cressey a strength and conditioning coach in America, started using it with his athletes.

resisted no money exercise

Perform this movement by making sure you keep your elbows as close to your waist as possible. Pull back your shoulders and squeeze your shoulder blades together.

Be sure to keep the shoulders down as best you can.

Self Myo-fascial Release Techniques

foam-roller

 

The foam roller is a tool we use at the studio to help inhibit over-active muscles.
Tom has been sitting on the desk for hours, his hip flexor is tight, we can only assume that this is one of the causes of his low back pain after assessing his lifestyle.

Self Myofascial release

SMR – Hip Flexors ( Very Painful)

foam roll hip flexor

 

This is an extremely painful one to do, I remember lying on the foam roller crying when I first did it. It was not a pretty sight…

However what I did feel after the next couple of weeks was my hips were much more looser.
Sadly, I’ve neglected the foam rolling and I can feel my right hip getting alot tighter and it’s even causing my right foot to turn.

To perform this exercise (picture above)

Lie directly on top of the foam roller with hip on top
Roll towards the mid-thigh
Search for pressure points along the thigh/hip
Once found apply pressure for 30 secs. Work your way up to 1 min in the following months.

Hip Flexor Stretch

Josh Rubin from East West Healing, does a great job of explaining this stretch.

 

Re-Awaken the sleepy glutes

Yes it’s true, the glutes can also nap during activities such as running, for some they may even be asleep.
This all depends on your running style, stride length, etc.

Here are a  few exercises we use to re-activate the glutes.

Deadlift –

deadlift for glutes

 

I’m sure you’ve all deadlifted before, think about the last time you picked up a box? or picked up your child….
This is a common movement we use day to day, but how many of you can do it right?

It may seem like a simple movement but there are at least 8-10 teaching points before we even lift the bar up from the ground.
It’s recommended that you should consult a trainer at your local fitness centre to coach you through, if you happen to be in South west london Barnes/Mortlake, come to our personal training studio and see one of our personal trainers who will be happy to coach you through the technique.

Hip Raise –

hip-raise

 

The hip raise is a classic move we use to teach people about glute activation.

Once you’re firing off the next progression is doing it weighted

Glute bridge

 

To recap what we’ve been looking at is how we can improve mobility and flexibility to allow for better running mechanics.
Most people will tell you just to run…..but we think you should address a few of the issues outlined in this article to make sure you don’t pick up more injuries.

Remember if you already have bad running mechanics it’s only going to get worse without addressing alignment issues.

Thanks for reading.

Please leave your thoughts in the comment box, share with friends and family if you enjoyed this article.

How to look and feel like a superhero

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Learn how to squat

bat mansquatting
Batman practises squatting in his spare time so he can look at people from above.

The squat is the most simple but most technical move at the same time. Adults seem to have trouble most of the time as their lifestyle or job has caused some kind of muscular imbalance forcing them to move in a different way.

From the picture below you can see the lady squatting with a barbell on her back, her shoulders are rounding and the torso has fallen forward.

barbellsquat bad technique

A good way I check to see if it’s a case of bad ankle mobility is to get her to stand on blocks elevating her heels. If the body still falls forward we generally assume that it’s higher up leg possibly her hip flexors and not her ankle mobility.

If she didn’t lean forward, and it feels pretty comfortable we can assume that her ankle mobility is the issue which forces the rest of her kinetic chain to move in a different way.

squat-form

Babies can squat perfectly. They put any bodybuilder to shame!


baby-squat


 

Do Push ups –

This is one of the most beneficial exercises a super hero could do.

Most people make the mistake of overlooking the push up as the fancy shiny gym equipment steals their attention.

A common mistake to look out for when performing a push up, is the position of the pelvis. Ideally you want your spine to stay in a neutral position, the glutes have to contract and hold for a posterior tilt. Your abdominals should brace at this point to stabilize the position.

bad-push-up

Start with push ups on the knees before progressing towards a full one.

push up on knees

Push up

Run, Faster and faster –

Holy smokes batman, sprinting is hard!

For any wannabe superheroes out there sprints have to be done, they’re a good way of utilizing whatever fast twitch muscle fibres you have, the lactic acid you feel produces a hormone response from your body to burn fat by elevating your metabolism.

You also feel like the flash! And he’s ripped!

 

Barry Allen flash

Remember do them otherwise bad guys are going to catch you! Not joking.  😛 


Eat the right way –

ninja-turtles-pictures

I know what you’re thinking, Donatella, Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo all ate pizza, so why can’t I?

Well if you were a “giant mutant” green turtle then maybe I’ll allow it.

But unfortunately for the rest of us, we have to eat real food.
Good nutrition is vital for not only having a lean body, but good performance to match.
Nutrition is individual, you can tell by the way some people can eat certain foods and gain no weight, but then some can eat the same foods and then bloat up.

Mental well being is just as significant, the reaction from certain foods can cause an allergic reaction that affects mental clarity. For the gluten intolerant a dose of it can cause headaches, brain fog/drowsiness or bloating and a host of other issues.
Finding “your own” nutrition plan is therefore essential. Follow this for a guideline on nutrition.

Take part in an activity you enjoy –

Besides training all day to become a superhero, it’s important to remember to find time for yourself and do something you enjoy doing.
De-stressing is an important part of a superheroes day, find something you like to do. Superman was happiest playing American football or chilling out in his barn. Spiderman liked photography which eventually landed him a role for a major newspaper, you get the idea.


Superhero relaxing at home

 Your body’s response to deal with stress is to produce cortisol, the stress hormone.
Although it sounds ominous, we need this hormone because it saves us in times of danger, imagine walking in the middle of the road, suddenly you see the joker speeding at you in a car, your cortisol levels spike and sends a message to your brain to pump out adrenaline so that you can sprint out of way.

Short bursts of stress are fine, however when the stress response is prolonged over time is can cause illness as well as physical and mental exhaustion.

There are various types of stress on the body, I’ve chosen three of the main ones you can do something about today –

Physical stress such as exercise in small doses are fine but overdoing it can lead to poor performance, immune system suppression and increased incidence of injury.
Chemical stress – We’re exposed to chemicals on a daily basis, over time your body has difficulty in neutralizing these toxins and repeating this exposure is said to lead to illness or disease.
Examples include aerosols, Bisphenol-A in plastics or even pesticides on our foods.
Nutritional Stress – Eating food that causes an allergic reaction can be called a stress. Some people have more serious issues, such as joint pain or skin conditions that can be reduced or cured by avoiding certain foods. It’s best to find a nutritionist that deals with those types of issues.

Two great books to read if you want to delve in a little further is “how to eat, move and be healthy” by Paul Chek and Adrenal Fatigue by James L. Wilson

Stress is an extremely large and complicated topic and if you need help, let me know and I’ll find the best person for the job.

Thanks for reading my article, be sure to share this with your friends.
Like my Facebook page or follow me twitter because I’ll be putting up part 2 in the near future.

I hope this article helps you in your quest for superhero status.