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Mastering Movement: Part Three – The Press

Programming, Strength, Training, Workout By October 13, 2019 No Comments

The press is one of our most used functional patterns in our day to day life, especially in basic tasks like pushing open doors. The press primarily works our pectoral muscles (chest), our deltoids (shoulders), and triceps (that back of the arms.

Today we are going to take the opportunity to go over some of the best pressing exercises you can incorporate into your training routine. These movements are: the incline press, the push up, the overhead press, the bench press, and the push press. While there are plenty of other great pressing exercises you can choose to train, these are some of the basics that most people can do safely and efficiently.

The Incline Press

The incline press is a great movement, especially for this who are new to training. It’s fantastic because for new trainees because they are supported by the bench and can focus on the pressing aspect of the exercise. Because of the inclined angle it can be a good option for those who don’t yet have the mobility to access the overhead position.

To set up, start with the bench on a medium to low incline. Sit down on the bench making sure your feet are symmetrical and firmly pressing into the floor. On the bench, your hips, shoulder blades, and crown of your head should be making contact with a small space between the bench and your lower back. With the weight in your hands, start with the arms extend, lower the dumbbells down by pulling them down to your chest. At the bottom position, your elbows should be slightly out from your body but not straight out. Do not relax your muscles in the bottom position, keep tension across the muscles, and then squeeze the muscles of your chest to push the weight back up to the starting position. Perform the incline bench press for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

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On to the next one in our primal movement series. This week we are dissecting pushing exercises. Pushing exercises generally work the deltoids (shoulders), pectorals (chest), and triceps (back of the arm.) These exercises carry over heavily in our day to day like especially when it comes to things like pushing open doors. _ Our first exercise in this series is the dumbbell incline bench press, I like to use this exercise with novice trainees because it has an easy learning curve and will help develop proper pressing mechanics and enhance stability due to the use of dumbbells. Because of the incline position of the bench, I also find it's easier for people to learn how to properly set up their body initially as compared to a flat bench. _ To set up, start with the bench on a medium to low incline. Sit down on the bench making sure your feet are symmetrical and firmly pressing into the floor. On the bench, your hips, shoulder blades, and crown of your head should be making contact with a small space between the bench and your lower back. With the dumbbells in your hands, start with the arms extend, lower the dumbbells down by pulling them down to your chest. At the bottom position, your elbows should be slightly out from your body but not straight out. Do not relax your muscles in the bottom position, keep tension across the muscles, and then squeeze the muscles of your chest to push the weight back up to the starting position. _ Perform the dumbbell incline bench press for 3-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions depending on your goals. _ Do you have a weak upper body? Want to get delts like Serena Williams? Send me a direct message to get started with personal training (Toronto only) or online coaching.

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The Push Up

The push up is a movement that can empower like no other, being able to control your own body is a fantastic skill to have. This is a movement I like to use with trainees of all levels, from those who are beginner to those that are more advanced. Newer trainees can start by working variations of the push up that have their hands elevated to make the movement easier than working from the floor.

When setting up for the push up, you want to set the hands underneath and slightly wider than the shoulders. Your feet should be about hip width apart. As you descend, lower yourself down while staying stable through your trunk (engaging your glutes will help this.) Lower yourself to till at least your shoulders and elbows are at the same height, and if you can lower yourself all the way to the floor. To lift yourself up, press your hands into the ground and try to push the ground away from you. Perform as many sets and reps needed for your goals and needs – lower reps for strength and higher reps for hypertrophy and endurance.

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The push up is usually one of my favourite progressions for pressing exercises when working with new trainees. Getting your first push up can feel very empowering, getting and being strong enough to move your own body can provide a lot of confidence in day to day life. _ The push up provides a lot of bang for you buck by engaging most muscles in the body while working the chest and triceps. With beginners, I will usually start them with their hands on elevation to make it easier, and then gradually progress them to the floor over time as they get stronger. _ When setting up for the push up, you want to set the hands underneath and slightly wider than the shoulders. Your feet should be about hip width apart. As you descend, lower yourself down while staying stable through your trunk (engaging your glutes will help this.) Lower yourself to till at least your shoulders and elbows are at the same height, and if you can lower yourself all the way to the floor. To lift yourself up, press your hands into the ground and try to push the ground away from you. Perform as many sets and reps needed for your goals and needs – lower reps for strength and higher reps for hypertrophy and endurance. _ To make the push up easier, work on an incline. To make the push up harder add extra load with a plate or a weighted vest. _ Wanna get your first full push up from the floor? Send me a direct message to get started with personal training or online coaching.

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The Overhead Press

The overhead press is a great option because it accesses a large range of motion – however, because of this, many trainees will also need to do some mobility work before being able to train the overhead press safely and effectively.

To perform the standing dumbbell overhead press, start by standing with your feet about hip width apart, keep your pelvis and ribcage stacked parallel to each other without allowing the lower back to extend. With the dumbbells at shoulder height (the rack position) have the elbows slightly in front of the torso with the wrists over the shoulder. Push the dumbbells upward, while keeping the wrists inline with the shoulders. At the top of the movement your hands should be stacked over your shoulders, your hands shouldn’t not be ahead of you nor behind you. Lower the weights back down to the starting position, do not relax your muscles at the bottom of the movement. Rinse and repeat. Perform this exercise for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps depending on your programming needs and goals.

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Today our push series continues with the dumbbell overhead press. This is a great movement the strengthens the upper body through a large range of motion by using the deltoids (shoulders) and triceps (back of the arm.) Because this movement does require a significant amount of shoulder mobility, I tend to use at as a pressing progression further along in programming with clients who need to spend more time improving their joint mobility in order to perform them safely. _ To perform the standing dumbbell overhead press, start by standing with your feet about hip width apart, keep your pelvis and ribcage stacked parallel to each other without allowing the lower back to extend. With the dumbbells at shoulder height (the rack position) have the elbows slightly in front of the torso with the wrists over the shoulder. Push the dumbbells upward, while keeping the wrists inline with the shoulders. At the top of the movement your hands should be stacked over your shoulders, your hands shouldn't not be ahead of you nor behind you. Lower the weights back down to the starting position, do not relax your muscles at the bottom of the movement. Rinse and repeat. Perform this exercise for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps depending on your programming needs and goals. _ The dumbbell overhead press is best suited for hypertrophy and muscular endurance work. If you would like to do overhead pressing for strength, it's best to use a barbell in that case. _ Want to have shoulders that strong and mobile? Send me a direct message to get started with personal training or online coaching.

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The Bench Press

The bench press, specifically when done with a barbell, is a great way to increase your overall strength. It’s been a staple in many programs of powerlifters, bodybuilders, and general gym enthusiasts for many years.

To perform the bench press, set up on a flat bench by laying down on the bench, the barbell should be directly over your line of vision. Your head, shoulders blades, and hips should be your points of contact on the bench. Place your feet symmetrically and push your feet into the floor (there should be no “happy feet.”) Grab the bar evenly and use the knurling on the barbell as your guideline. Hands should be placed wider than shoulder width, use trial and error to find a grip position that works for your leverages. Unrack the bar, and with the bar starting over the shoulders, pull it down to your chest, without relaxing nor letting the bar rest on your chest. Squeeze the bar and push it back up to the starting position. Perform for as many reps as needed for your goals. The barbell bench press can work for a variety of rep ranges from 1-5 to 6-12 although I generally program it for lower rep heavier work.

The Push Press

I probably love the push press way more than I love the bench press. It’s a great way to develop upper body strength and full body power. By using power generated from the lower body, you can get really strong and powerful with this movement and move heavy weights with power and grace.

The push press is done by generating power from the legs with a dip, and then drive the barbell up and finish the press with the arms. To set up for the movement, you want the bar to be in the rack position with the hands placed evenly on the bar slightly outside shoulder width. Your feet should be about hip width apart. The first part of the movement is the dip, your going to do a shallow squat down while keeping the torso as vertical as possible, from there explode up and launch the barbell upward, finish the movement by pressing out with the arms. At the top of the movement, the bar should be directly overhead and stacked over the shoulders with the elbows locked out. Lower the bar back down to the rack position. Repeat.

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The final exercise in my pushing series is the PUSH PRESS. The push press is a great exercises for developing strength and power. Because of the coordination needed between the lower and the upper body, I will generally use lighter dumbbell push presses with novice trainees and heavier barbell push pressed with intermediate and advanced trainees. _ The push is done by generating power from the legs with a dip, and then drive the barbell up and finish the press with the arms. _ To set up for the movement, you want the bar to be in the rack position with the hands placed evenly on the bar slightly outside shoulder width. Your feet should be about hip width apart. The first part of the movement is the dip, your going to do a shallow squat down while keeping the torso as vertical as possible, from there explode up and launch the barbell upward, finish the movement by pressing out with the arms. At the top of the movement, the bar should be directly overhead and stacked over the shoulders with the elbows locked out. Lower the bar back down to the rack position. Repeat. _ For the barbell push press, I will generally concentrate on doing 6 reps or fewer and opt to load the movement heavier rather than lighter in order to develop overall strength and power. _ Have you done the push press before? Give it a go and let me know how you find it. _ Want to get strong and take your fitness to the next level? Send me a direct message to get more information about personal training or online coaching.

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Using a mixture of any of the exercises in this article you’ll be well on your way to developing and stronger and more muscular upper body.

If you need help getting on track with your fitness, please feel free to reach out via the contact page to get more information about coaching either online or in-person.

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Why You Shouldn’t Skip Your Mobility Work

Health, Training, Workout By July 27, 2018 No Comments

No one’s saying you need to have the mobility of a Russian contortionist. But putting off your mobility work in favour of getting into your lifts as soon as you hit the gym could have consequences that will creep on you and reduce the longevity of your training life. If you are THAT GAL or THAT GUY who has trouble hitting parallel depth with a bodyweight squat but jumps into a barbell back squat without doing any preparation, we need to have a talk.

WHAT IS MOBILITY?

Mobility = Flexibility + Stability

In order to understand why you need to do mobility work, you should understand what mobility is. Mobility is a combination of having flexibility and stability through a joint’s range of motion.

Flexibility is a joint’s ability to move through a range of motion. This can be done actively or passively.

Stability is a joint’s ability to stabilize through its range of motion.

When a joint is both flexible and stable – having good and adequate mobility, you can develop phenomenal strength while mitigating the risk of injury.

If a joint does not have adequate mobility (flexibility and/or stability) to perform desired movements, this is when you need to start doing some work to figure out which joints are limited in movement.

HOW TO MOBILIZE YOUR JOINTS

The major joints you can look at mobilizing are the:

  • ankles
  • hips
  • spine (lumbar, thoracic, and cervical)
  • shoulders
  • wrists

All of these joints are capable of moving through many ranges of motion; you should be able to move them and stabilize them in all of the ranges of motion you train and then some.

People who are tight as a rope would benefit from doing more flexibility work. While people who are comparable to Gumby will benefit from doing more stability work. Most people will need a combination of both flexibility and stability work.

  • This could mean working on frog stretch to warm up tight hips prior to squatting.
  • This could mean working on cat-cows to move the spine, and then working on deadbugs to stabilize it in neutral, or working on Jefferson curls to get mobile outside of neutral spine.
  • This could mean doing dowel shoulder dislocates to open your overhead range of motion prior to pull-ups and presses.
  • This could mean doing weighted dislocates to stabilize the shoulders before pull-ups or presses.

The approach will need to vary from person to person, from movement to movement, from joint to joint. Not every person will benefit from the same drills, and that’s okay.

Are you making the same mistake everybody else does when stretching the adductors in a frog stretch? AKA rounding the back and falling into a posterior pelvic tilt. # Sadly, 9/10 people I see working on the frog and half-frog stretch make this mistake, which unfortunately makes the stretch ultimately useless. Whenever the lower back rounds and the pelvis tips backward the adductors move into a shortened position (which means that they can’t be stretched from this position because they are not lengthened.) # To effectively stretch the adductors, you want to make sure that you keep your back flat and pelvis in a neutral position. If you can’t get your lower back flat (neutral) in the frog or half frog stretch you’re probably starting by going to deep for your current flexibility and need to ease off and work on some PNF variations in a less deeply stretched position. # The frog stretch is fantastic for opening the hips before squatting, deadlifting, or doing bent over rows when it is performed correctly (especially for people who tend to round their lower back while training.) So now that you know better, you can do better. May your hips be limber, and may your spine stay neutral when it’s supposed to be. ?? # # # #StrengthAndSanity #fitness #fitfam #toronto #the6ix #torontofitness #torontofitfam #personaltrainer #personaltraining #onlinecoaching #onlinepersonaltraining #flexibility #mobility #iamagatsu #girlsgonestrong #womenofstrong #girlswholift #womenwholift #strongwomen

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IS YOUR MOBILITY WORK ACTUALLY HELPING?

While mobility work is totally awesome and good for you, you want to make sure you are not wasting time and doing the wrong drills. In order to know if your mobility work is actually helping, you will want to test your movement quality and range of motion before you do a mobility drill.

This process could be doing a bodyweight squat to see your depth and if there is any pain throughout the movement. Then going into your mobility drill from there. Test the movement range and quality after your drill. Did your range improve? Is painful movement now pain-free? Yes? Good job, you did a drill that worked.

If you tested a movement, did a mobility drill, and the range stayed the same or there was no qualitative improvement, you will need to do a different drill in order to improve that movement. Mobility work should have an instantaneous response in terms of improving your movement quality –  even if it’s small.

HOP TO IT

If ya’ don’t know, now ya’ know – you have every reason now to be doing your mobility work and making sure you are adequately prepared for your workouts. Do your drills. Your body will thank you. The gains will come abounding.

? @agatsufitness “I don’t like stretching.” “Well, do you like tearing muscles?” ? # #fbf to the time I took the @agatsufitness Level 1 Movement and Mobility course in Montreal. # While not everyone has to work on achieving a front split, the progressions used to achieve them are fantastic for releasing tension in the hips and hamstrings – which could help people carrying a lot of tension mitigate the risk of injury. # Lifting heavy is fun, but there still needs to be a balance with training flexibility, which would allow us to have optimal mobility. If we trend too far in either direction we risk opening our body up to injury. If you’re someone who lifts a lot, consider adding a regular mobility practice to your routine to help keep your joints and tissues healthy.

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Snatch it up!

Programming, Training, Workout By February 6, 2017 No Comments

Don’t have more than 10 minutes to workout? This week’s kettlebell conditioning is here!

This week’s workout is fast and furious. It consists of 5 rounds of maximum repetitions and has a short but intense 5 minute duration. Have a partner record how many repetitions you complete and try to beat it the amount next time you try the workout.

Here we go.

SNATCH IT UP

Right Hand Snatch x 30s

Left Hand Snatch x 30s

5 rounds

No rest in between rounds.

 

Enjoy 😉

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Chrissy

exercise, Programming, Training, Uncategorized, Workout By January 26, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Hello, my lovelies!

I want to introduce you to Chrissy. A benchmark Kettlebell workout from Agatsu Fitness – created by Shawn Mozen for some crazy fit woman named Chrissy.

As the story goes, Shawn was training Chrissy. Chrissy was super strong and fit, and came to Shawn one day saying “I like the workouts, but I want something harder.”

So Shawn got to work and came up with this devious workout that is more a test a mental fortitude than anything and named if after his lovely student Chrissy. And we have many full body sweat stains on gym floors everywhere owed to Chrissy. So thank you, Chrissy, thank you.

The workout is a timed ladder.
The exercises are the tuck jump burpee and Kettlebell swing.

And it goes as follows.

Tuck Jump Burpee :  Kettlebell Swing

30: 20
25 : 25
20 : 30
15 : 35
10 : 40
5 : 45
Complete the ladder as quickly as possible. Record your time, and try to beat it the next time you complete it.

I did mine in 10:51 – a big improvement since the last time I did it almost a year and a half ago now.

Let me know how you do! 🙂

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KETTLEBELL QUICKIE – Snatches&Ladders

Fat Loss, Programming, Training, Workout By January 10, 2017 No Comments

Snatches&Ladders has made it here for this week’s kettlebell conditioning. A complex ladder that primes you to perfect your kettlebell snatch.

 

A1) One-Arm Swing(R)
A2) High Pull(R)
A3) Snatch(R)
A4) One-Arm Swing(L)
A5) High Pull(L)
A6) Snatch(L)

Rep Scheme: 5,4,3,2,1

3 Rounds. Perform the ladder as quickly as possible. Rest as necessary between rounds.

 

Enjoy 😉

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