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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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Mastering Movement: Part Two – The Hinge

Programming, Strength, Training By October 6, 2019 No Comments

Hips don’t lie. Shakira was on to something when she sang this back in ’05. These lines have never been truer, especially in pertaining to the hinge movement. The hip hinge is a movement, that with strength and proficiency, makes your life a lot easier.

Developing a strong and proper hip hinge is one of the first and most important steps you can take in order to protect yourself from lower back problems as well as knee issues. Usually, the muscles worked in hip dominant movements are the glutei, the hamstrings, and the spinal extensors amongst others. Common hip dominant exercises are the back extension, the goodmorning, and the deadlift. Today we are going to go over several of these exercises, their benefits, and how to do them safely and effectively.

The 45 Degree Back Extension

The 45 degree back extension is one of the first progressions I like to use with new trainees so they can get used bending the hip while keeping a flat neutral spine. Because it can be done with just body weight, it’s a good way to get people movement without adding extra load to unfamiliar movement patterns.

To perform the 45 degree back extension, set up on the apparatus with your toes pointing down and so your hips can fold over the edge freely. Lower down slowly, while keep the back flat – focus on keep the ribs stacked with the pelvis and the lats tight. Once at the bottom, squeeze your glutes to extend the hips and return to the starting position. Perform 3-4 sets for 10-20 reps depending on your goals.

The Kettlebell Good Morning

The good morning is an exercise that can be done with a variety of tools from kettlebells, to bands, and barbells. But for newer trainees, I prefer to use a front loaded kettlebell, which will force you to keep the upper back engaged while maintaining tension through the back so you don’t collapse in the spine. The objective is to push the hips as far back as you can into a hamstring stretch while maintaining a flat back.

To perform the good morning, start with your feet hip width apart and toes pointing forward. Push your hips back while keeping a flat back and maintaining a vertical shin position with a slight bend in the knees. Push the hips back until you get a stretch in your hamstrings, from here extend the hips and return to the standing position. Perform the good morning for 3-5 sets for 8-15 repetitions depending on your goals.

The Kettlebell Deadlift

The next movement I like to progress my clients too is the kettlebell deadlift. The deadlift can be quite daunting for a lot of people and can present a lot challenges in terms of maintaining proper form. The kettlebell deadlift is a fantastic variation beginners because of the central loading it puts less strain across the back and allows you to lift more with your legs.

To perform a kettlebell deadlift, stand with the kettlebell between your feet, and your feet hip width a part. Bend down and set your hands on the handle, engage your back, by pulling your shoulder blades down and back and imagining that you are try keep your arms glued to your ribcage to keep your “armpits shut.” From here, keep a flat back, and lift the weight with your legs. Imagine that you are trying to push yourself 5ft through the ground beneath you. Finish by standing up tall but without flare the ribcage and overextending the lower back. Lower the weight back to the floor the same way that you picked it up. Perform the kettlebell deadlift for reps of 8-15 depending on the load intensity and your goals.

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Ready to start deadlifting? Give the kettlebell deadlift a try. Because of the central loading of the movement, it's a great way for beginner's to learn how to deadlift while also being lower back friendly. _ The deadlift is a great exercise to add to your training plan because it can be progressed and used to develop strength while also developing more musculature on your posterior chain and better muscle endurance and strength in your lower back – which can help in terms of managing and improving back pain. _ To perform a kettlebell deadlift, stand with the kettlebell between your feet, and your feet hip width a part. Bend down and set your hands on the handle, engage your back, by pulling your shoulder blades down and back and imagining that you are try keep your arms glued to your ribcage to keep your "armpits shut." From here, keep a flat back, and lift the weight with your legs. Imagine that you are trying to push yourself 5ft through the ground beneath you. Finish by standing up tall but without flare the ribcage and overextending the lower back. Lower the weight back to the floor the same way that you picked it up. Perform the kettlebell deadlift for reps of 8-15 depending on the load intensity and your goals. _ The kettlebell deadlift is a fantastic option for learning how to deadlift and grooving a good movement pattern while it can also be used in conditioning circuits and complexes due to it's lighter loading than heavier implements like trap bars and barbells. _ If you haven't tried the kettlebell deadlift before, there's no time like the present. Give it a go, and let me know how it went.

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The Trap Bar Deadlift

Once someone has show they are proficient with the kettlebell deadlift, I’ll usually progress them into a trap bar deadlift. The trap bar deadlift is another back friendly deadlift variation that can be loaded heavier than the kettlebell deadlift. It’s a fantastic variation for people who are taller and have longer limbs and those who have back issues.

To set up for the trap bar deadlift, stand inside the bar right in the centre. Place your hands in the middle of each handle to prevent the bar from sliding in your hands while doing the lift. While keeping the back flat, press the feet into the ground and extend the hips to come up. Lower the weight back down by pushing your hips back and keeping a neutral spine. Rinse and repeat. The trap bar can be used for a variety of purposes, but I find it’s best suited for heavy lower rep strength work – 6 reps or fewer – however it can be used effectively for higher rep endurance and hypertrophy work as well depending on your goals.

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Ready to take your deadlift to the next level and move some heavy weights? Get it going with the trap bar deadlift. Because of it's shape the trap bar is great option for people who want to deadlift, especially, heavy but aren't quite ready yet or able to with a barbell. Because of the loading of the bar, it's much more lower back friendly than a tradition barbell. And using the high handles on the bar (as shown in this video) is great for lifters who have long legs and would benefit mechanically from using a short range of motion. It also has a low learning curve in comparison to the conventional barbell deadlift, making it very suitable for novice trainees. _ To set up for the trap bar deadlift, stand inside the bar right in the centre. Place your hands in the middle of each handle to prevent the bar from sliding in your hands while doing the lift. While keeping the back flat, press the feet into the ground and extend the hips to come up. Lower the weight back down by pushing your hips back and keeping a neutral spine. Rinse and repeat. The trap bar can be used for a variety of purposes, but I find it's best suited for heavy lower rep strength work – 6 reps or fewer – however it can be used effectively for higher rep endurance and hypertrophy work as well depending on your goals. _ Want to start adding heavy deadlifts in your program but don't know where to start? Send me a DIRECT MESSAGE to get started with one on one coaching online. 📩

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The Barbell Deadlift

The conventional deadlift has been a staple in many strength training programs around the world for many decades. The conventional deadlift is a deadlift variation that will strengthen your posterior chain and grip like no other. Because this exercise can be quite taxing, I generally reserve it for more intermediate and advanced trainees who are very comfortable with hip hingeing. It’s a great movement to be loaded heavy to train for maximum strength.

To perform the conventional deadlift, set up with a loaded barbell on the floor. Stand so the barbell is inline with your feet over top of your shoe laces and your feet are about hip width apart with your toes pointing forward. Grip the bar so your hands are outside of your hips but not too wide. While keeping your back flat, push your feet through the ground and extend your hips while keeping the barbell against your legs not allowing it to drift away from your body. Lower the bar to the ground by pushing your hips back and setting it down the same way that you picked it up.

Anyone one of these hinge exercise will be fantastic for developing your posterior chain for better strength, endurance, and posture. It’s all about finding the right variation for current needs, skill level, and goal, and progressing the movement over time by manipulating the volume, load, and movement variation.

Get out there and start hingeing, your hips and back will thank you!

Want to get super strong but don’t know where to start? Reach out to get more information on personal training or online coaching so you can start optimizing your health, fitness, and performance.

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Mastering Movement: Part One – The Squat

Training By September 30, 2019 No Comments

Last week we touched on the primal movements; what they are and why you should be doing them. This week we are going to specifically break down the squat and it’s progressions. The squat is movement that mainly targets the quadriceps and glutes, but requires stability and engagement from the whole body.

I am going to show you the movement progressions I like to use for weight loaded squats and how to progress them from easiest to most challenging. The squat is great movement to develop overall strength, musculature, and athleticism making it a staple movement in many effective training programs. While doing a fully loaded overhead squat or barbell back squat may seem daunting, there are many progressions to take you there.

The movement variations we are going to go over are the goblet squat, the front squat, the high bar back squat, and the low bar back squat. Each variation provides it own unique benefits and challenges making them more or less suitable for trainees depending on their goals and needs.

The Goblet Squat

The goblet squat is the first progression I use with novice trainees who want to start moving weight. Because it is centrally loaded it forces the trainee to maintain a more upright position during the squat. This is fantastic for people who need to groove a proper squat pattern.

To perform the goblet squat, set your feet about hip width apart with the toes turned slightly outward. While holding the dumbbell, try to maintain tension across the upper back by staying upright and pinching your shoulder blades together. This will help you stay stable as you squat down. To squat, drive the knees forward and apart while actively pushing your heels into the ground. Perform a controlled lower as low as you can, and then ascend by exhaling and pushing you feet through the ground to extend your knees and hips in a controlled manner.

The goblet squat.

The Front Squat

The front squat is great for developing strength and power. And because of it’s more upright position it’s fantastic for carry over into sports that require more vertical jumping patterns.

To do front squats, approach the bar and set your hands slightly outside of shoulder width, step under the bar and bring the elbows forward so they are pointing at the wall in front of you, and the bar is now sitting across your shoulders and collar bones. Step out of the rack and set your feet slightly wider than hip width apart with your toes slightly flared outward. Lower into the squat while pushing the heels in to the floor, push your knees forward and apart. To stand back up, push your heels into the ground and squeeze the quads and glutes, whole maintaining a vertical torso position.

Because of the taxing nature of the front squat, it’s best to do 6 reps or fewer as the most people will generally fatigue in their upper back and start to collapse forward during the movement. The front squat is usually best performed for 1-6 reps for as many sets as need based on your training objectives.

The front squat.

The High Bar Squat

The high bar back squat is differentiated by placing the bar on your back but atop the shoulders, this allows for a more vertical torso position while squatting which is a more athletic position than the low bar squat. This movement is also more quad dominant than a low bar back squat.

To set up for the back squat, step under the bar, squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull the bar into the top of your shoulders. Make sure your hands are even on the bar and that you are in the center. Step out of the rack and set your feet about hip width apart with the toes flared slightly out. Descend into the squat by keeping the chest up and imagining you are going to sit down in between your feet. Stand up from the bottom position by coming up the same way you went down.

The high bar back squat can be performed for a number of sets and reps depending on your goal. I typically wouldn’t program a back squat for more than 10 reps as I generally prefer to keep this movement more heavily loaded for strength gains, and use other squat variations for high rep hypertrophy or endurance work.

The high bar back squat.

The Low Bar Squat

The low bar squat is advantageous for moving ultra heavy loads because it allows you to lift the barbell using more drive from the hips. Because it places more emphasis on hip movement, it also requires less mobility from the ankles creating a more vertical shin position. This is achieved by placing the bar across the shoulders blades instead directly atop of the shoulders like in the high bar squat.

Such a small change in placement can make a huge change in movement and overall load used. The low bar squat is generally the squat of choice for powerlifters and people who want to be able squat as heavy as humanly possible – the high bar squat is more suited towards Olympic weightlifters and other athletes due to its more upright position. The low bar squat is also a viable option for trainees who have little ankle dorsiflexion but want to back squat in their training.

That low bar back squat is generally best performed for 6 reps of fewer with heavy loads, but it can also be done at higher reps provided the intensity (% of 1 rep. max.) is reduced as well.

Because of the lower bar placement in the low bar squat there is more of a forward lean in the torso making the movement more hip dominant than the front squat or high bar squat.

With all these variations for the squat, you should be well on your way to improving your performance and fitness. Whether you want increase your muscle mass, power, or strength there’s an appropriate squat variation for you.

Get out there and get squatting, and if you don’t know where to start contact me to get started with online coaching.

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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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How to Use Chains for Strength

Programming, Strength, Training By September 20, 2017 Tags: , , , , No Comments

Chains are a great tool that often get misused. I’ve seen an abundance of videos of people using chains just to make themselves look “badass” yet only succeed at making themselves look incompetent.

So to set you on the right path, I am going to explain to you what chains are used for and how to use them.

WHY YOU WANT TO USE CHAINS

Chains are most commonly used to add additional resistance to a lift on the way up. This works by having links come off the floor one by one on the way up. The movement will be easiest at the bottom when there are more links resting on the floor, and it will be most challenging at the top and on the way up when the links are coming off the floor. Chains are commonly used on squats, deadlifts, and presses, but can be used on a variety of exercises.

This permits the trainee to get stronger on the top portion and lockout portions of the lift. It also makes the eccentric easier, allowing you to preserve more energy and strength for the upward (concentric) part of the lift. Chains are a great tool to use to get through a strength plateau.

The more links that are off the floor, the heavier the total weight is.

The more links that are on the floor, the lighter the total weight is.

 SELECTING YOUR WEIGHT

To load a bar or weight with chains, you will need to use a weight that is lighter than what you normally use without chains. Different chains have different weights, so knowing how much the chains weigh will help you determine how much weight you should or should not use. You want to make sure you have extremely good control of the weight as any slight deviation in movement will cause the chains to swing which will be very destabilizing.

LOADING THE IMPLEMENT

Once you have selected your weight, you will hang the chains on each side of the bar and then secure them with safety clips for the barbell. If using a dumbbell or kettlebell, the chain should have a clip that you can use to attach it to the weight.

Once you’ve set everything up, perform your sets and reps as desired 🙂

Happy training!

 

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Path to Pull-Ups

exercise, Programming, Strength, Training By August 6, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

For a lot of women, achieving their first body weight pull-up is a huge milestone. It’s a feat that requires adequate mobility, stability, and strength in order to perform it correctly.

Often times, when people ask how to do their first pull-up they often receive the answer: “Well, just do pull-ups.” Which is redundant and useless. If a person could already do pull-ups, they would.

So where do you start in order to get your first pull-up?

In general, you would want to progress to doing a pull-up as follows:

  • owning the isometric (being able to hang on the bar at the top and bottom)
  • owning the eccentric (being able to lower yourself  in controlled manner through a pull-up pattern)
  • owning the concentric (being able to pull yourself up through the pull-up)

Owning all parts of the pull-up will having you banging out your first full rep in due time. It’s all about developing the requisite endurance, stability, patterning, and strength to do the movement correctly and efficiently.

So let’s start with the endurance and stability portion by using isometric drills. You want to start first by building your endurance at the bottom of the pull-up and building your grip so you are actually able to support your own body weight in an active hang. Once you can hang from the bottom you can explore doing a flexed arm hang at the top of the bar. Work on holding your hangs for 30s-60s. I would recommend being able to hold for at least 60s in both positions before progressing to more dynamic movements.

Once you have achieved strong isometric holds with your hangs, you can work on doing scapular pull-ups. In this movement you will be initiating the beginning of the pull-up by pulling maximally with the shoulders, holding at the top position, and then relaxing the shoulders into a deadhang for 1 repetition. Build this movement in sets of 5-10 reps. The scapular pull-up will also serve to improve your grip strength. The scapular pull-up is going to help you with the movement portion of initiating the pull-up.

After achieving some strong scap pull-ups, you’ll want to progress to negative pull-ups (eccentric pull-ups.) This will allow you to pattern the pull-up with good technique so that when you do get strong enough to do them, you will be using the right muscle to perform the movement (primarily the lats and biceps.) To perform a negative pull-up, jump up to the bar or have someone lift you to the bar and then lower yourself down with a controlled tempo ranging anywhere from 10s to 60s. If you are able to do a 60s eccentric you are most likely able to do a full pull-up.

You can also use band assisted pull-ups to help build muscular strength and the concentric portion of your pull-ups. Make sure to use negative pull-ups and other progressions otherwise you will end up being reliant on the band to perform the movement. Bands are also a great tool to fine tune technique if you struggle to maintain to good form while performing bodyweight pull-ups. To perform the band pull-up, loop a band around your pull-up bar, then place on of your feet on the band to get into the bottom position. Initiate the pull, imagine you are closing your armpits in order to pull your collarbones up to the bar. The band will provide the assistance needed to help you up towards the bar,If you are swinging and bouncing around, you are not performing the movement correctly. You want your band assisted pull-up to be smooth and controlled, as it will translate better into your full strict pull-up.

Some additional assistance work that can help to get your first pull-up would be:

  • Inverted rows (rings or TRX)
  • Farmer’s carries
  • Biceps curls (especially preacher curls and incline curls)

There are many exercises you can do to get strong at pull-ups, however  any movement you do to help you build your pull-up skills should address the endurance, stability, movement patterning and strength aspects of the pull-up. As long as you address these attributes of the pull-up, you will be well on your way to getting your first rep.

🙂

 

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Why You Should Be Doing Turkish Get-Ups

exercise, Strength, Training By February 20, 2017 No Comments

The Turkish Get-Up a move that is loved, hated, and misunderstood all in one. 

The Turkish Get-Up rose to popularity in the last 10 years or so in tandem with kettlebell training. Kettlebells are small, (relatively) light to moderate in weight, transportable weights that have become popular due to their ability to get people lean and strong in short and intense workouts. They have become the tool of choice for busy people who don’t have copious amounts of time to devote to training in the gym.

Keeping in mind that kettlebell training has exploded due to it’s convenience and efficiency – the Turkish Get-Up has also become popular for the same reason. Get-Ups provide a lot of bang for your buck in terms of how they can enhance and supplement your current training program. They can be used as a warm up to help stabilize wonky shoulders and they can also be used in finishers for conditioning. This movement can also be performed for a maximum effort, in fact it’s not uncommon that when people become proficient at the Get-Up they can often perform it with barbells and even other people.

Apart from being able to do a totally rad party trick if you get strong at this movement, it still offers so much more. The Get-Up is a rare beauty of an exercise for a few reasons. The first being that it involves movement in every plane of of motion: sagittal (forward/ backward movement), frontal (side to side movement) and transverse (rotation.) This is very important because in our day to day lives we tend to live almost exlucsively in the sagittal plane. This leaves our bodies open to different injuries and overuse because we only become strong and proficient moving in one direction leaving our other planes of motion weak and uncoordinated. Adding a Turkish Get Up into your training routine can help you to develop that movement proficiency and fill in some gaps in your “movement diet.”

The Get-Up also provides even more bang for your buck in terms of all the different movement patterns in contains. It has knee-dominant movement, hip dominant movement, and pressing. That is three out of four of the major movements patterns meaning it is only missing a pulling pattern. For one exercise, that is a whole lot of movement – what would typically take three exercises to do, it will only take you one movement. This means that the Get Up is a great exercise if you are short on time and using full-body workouts as a training tool.

Lastly, the Get-Up is a fantastic exercise to work on shoulder stability. The rotator cuff will be working during the whole movement to stabilize the shoulder. Given the amount of time it takes to perform one repetition of the Get-Up, this is a lot of time under tension in a very vast range of motion regarding the shoulder, allowing you to reinforce shoulder stability in many different positions. If you have a history of rotator cuff injuries or shoulder instability, adding get-ups into your program would be a very wise choice.

TIPS FOR PERFORMING THE TURKISH GET-UP

When it comes to performing the Get-Up there are a few tips that can help make it easier and safer:

  1. Always keep your eyes on the kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, person, etc. you are lifting. You should never look away from the implement you are lifting overhead.
  2. Lock out the elbow. A little bit bent is like being a little bit pregnant, there is no in between. A locked out elbow is necessary for optimal stability.
  3. Slow down. The Get-Up is in exercise not to be rushed. You want to create control in all of the movements, if you can do it slowly you can do it efficiently and effectively.
  4. Breathe. A lot fo people forgot to breathe when they do Get-Ups, exhale every time you make a move, and try to stay cool as cucumber.

HOW TO DO THE TURKISH GET-UP

  1. Lock out the loaded elbow and shoulder, bend the knee on the same side of the body.
  2. Push your elbow on the free arm into the floor, and roll into position so the upper body is off the floor.
  3. Push the free hand into the floor, so the elbow is now off the floor
  4. Squeeze your glutes and extend your hips.
  5. Pull your straight leg back and come to a half-kneeling hinge position.
  6. Push yourself up from the floor into an upright half-kneeling position.
  7. Lunge upward and bring the feet together in the standiting postion.
  8. Lunge back into the half-kneeling position.
  9. Reach to your side and bend into the hinged half-kneeling position.
  10. Bring the kneeling leg through and extend the hips by squeezing the glutes.
  11. Lower your hips to the floor.
  12. Lower your elbow to the floor.
  13. Lower your back to the floor.

USING THE TURKISH GET-UP

If you feel like you want to start using the Turkish Get-Up, here is a finisher or stand alone workout you can add in to your regular routine. This wonderful workout I am about to share with you comes from Shawn Mozen of Agatsu Fitness. It is called Turkish Delight; it contains movement in every plane of motion and every major movement pattern (knee-dominant, hip-dominant, press, and pull.)

The routine is a ladder consisting of the Turkish Get-Up and pull-up. It will allow to build strength, movement proficiency, and get in some excellent conditionining. This workout should not be performed for speed, but should take 30 minutes of less to perform. The goal is to add weight to each set of the Turkish Get Up and work up to a one rep max.

Turkish Delight

A1) Turkish Get Up x 5 reps per side

A2) Negative Pull-Up x 1 rep for a 10s eccentric

B1) Turkish Get Up x 4 reps per side

B2) Negative Pull-Up x 1 rep for a 10s eccentric

C1) Turkish Get Up x 3 reps per side

C2) Negative Pull-Up x 1 rep for a 10s eccentric

D1) Turkish Get Up x 2 reps per side

D2) Negative Pull-Up x 1 rep for a 10s eccentric

E1) Turkish Get Up x 1 rep per side

E2) Negative Pull-Up x 1 rep for a 10s eccentric

Bon appétit! 😉

Do you do Turkish Get-Ups? Do you love them? Do you hate them? Did this article help you? Leave me your feedback and questions in the comment section.

 

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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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