I have an online client who mentioned that he was not feeling great with the front squats in his program, but he was pretty confident he was doing them well since he is an experienced lifter. He is smart and self-aware, so I tended to think he was probably right. But I asked him to get someone to video his front squat because I have a pretty good eye for small details (I’m a ski instructor – if you can find small faults as someone launches past you on a ski hill, standing still on flat land is a piece of cake) and I just wanted to see what was up. Partly I just wanted to be sure that it was good form, because that would impact what exercises I would give to him.
He did, and before I even got the link he noted that he could see one major flaw in his front squat and that he was confident that I’d be able to help with it. I saw the video, which his son uploaded to youtube, and he is correct! The front view of the squat looks great – shoulders look great, the knees don’t cave in, and no lateral (side) shift. This is the view that you would have if trying to watch your own form at the gym if you had a mirror in front of you. Then came the side view, which lets face it, we don’t get to see. When you’re deep into a squat with weight on your back, you really don’t want to be turning your head to the side to check form. It could lead to bad things for your neck or back. But in fact, the side view showed the big flaw in his squat: his knees move way too forward as he comes down and his heels rise up slightly.
Continue reading Preventive maintenance for your workout?
Bench press is a great exercise, but for anyone with a shoulder issue, it may not be ideal. How do you know if you should bench? Well for starters, if it hurts to bench, you probably shouldn’t bench. What if it doesn’t hurt during the bench, but it hurts later, you ask? Same answer. I suspect you knew that but were hoping for a different answer. Sorry.
If the bench press is painful for you, you should probably be seeing a manual therapist (athletic therapist, chiro, massage therapist, osteopath, physio…) to help get you to pain free state. But once you reach that point, then what?
Ideally you would switch to other exercises, at least for a while. I want my clients to be able to do at least 10 proper bodyweight pushups (Click here for an article all about pushups) before I will have them bench press, and then I get them to do the Bottom Up Kettle bell (KB) bench press before moving to “normal” bench pressing.
I love it because it requires a lot of stabilizing to be able to do it, which means my clients literally will not be able to do it if they lack strength or stability in their shoulders. If they can’t do the bottom up KB bench press, they are not ready to bench press. Period.
Continue reading The bench press test
I have become fascinated by the effect of different body size and shape on performance, both in sport and in the weight room. It is pretty obvious in some sports – the tall person is almost certainly going to do better in a sport like basketball than the short one. Not only is he taller, but she’s got a better reach. Height rules in many sports. But what about the weight room?
Continue reading How much is your bench press worth?