Tag Archives: form

I guess that was a Press Up, kinda….

The humble Press Up truly is a skill many don’t have.

It is one of the most butchered movements you’ll seem a great many people perform.

Truly a shame because this simple movement can offer a lot of benefits, not to mention the variations it has can help you build some decent mass and strength in your upper body.
Here is a list of common flaws in the form:
  • No core bracing
  • Underused lats for stability
  • Collapsed shoulders
  • Poor alignment (weak neckline especially)
  • Hips sagging
  • Excessive elbow flare
  • Poor ROM
  • A general look of someone having a fit on the floor
The list could go on, however, you get the idea.
Most people will be quick to jump up and down defending their form, or why they are doing it a certain way, often saying a super-wide arm press-up is a basic form and one where your elbows stay close is more advanced (military style, or as some say – tricep press up).
It’s understandable to feel attacked when your form is poor.
Especially on what many consider a beginners movement.
It’s ironic though, with the number of press-ups people do in classes or group training you’d think that eventually, they’d be able to actually perform them well.
Sadly we are left wanting.
What is the correct form?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IODxDxX7oi4

^^ This is essentially identical to how I teach the movement so it fits my bias 😂

To teach people this is the progress I personally tend to follow:
1 – PUPP – push up position plank hold
2 – High Incline Press Up (lowered over time)
2a – Suspension Kit if available
3 – Negatives
3a – Negatives with multiple pauses
4 – Full Push Up
There may be some other bits for individuals that need some extra help, however, this is the typical path.
You will notice none performed on the knees and the reason for that is because in my experience it doesn’t yield any real progress in a respectable time frame.
^^ This can also be used to learn a single arm push up.
Ture enough, we have plenty of press-up variations, however, if you can’t do these following arbitrary numbers (below) you’ve got no reason to any other variation until you master the basic one first.
  • Ladies – 10 Strict
  • Gentlemen – 20 strict

    ^^ As a beginner those are reasonable numbers to aim for.

When you’ve nailed down your form and the strict reps are climbing towards 30 for ladies and 50+ for the gents then exploring explosive variations or even extended ROM options become very useful.
You will find a lot of benefit in this movement.
Racking up volume becomes easy because it’s the kind of thing you could do daily, much like Pull Up variations and Pistols, add in some sprints/bounding/jump training and you’d build quite the impressive physique.
How often do you do Earth Downs and what are your thoughts on progressions/regressions and the overall level of the form you see?

Enjoy,
Ross

 

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“Box Jump” – an abused exercise

“I have a 50 inch box jump” 
 
This is my face when someone claims this – 🤔🤔🤔🤔
 
Now while it is entirely possible, it’s not probable.
 
What most people have is a 50 inch tuck jump.
 
To have a legitimate box jump of that heigh yo’d be looking at a 40+ standing vertical jump, and that shits almost as rare as helpful retail staff at TK-Max.
 
It is easy to get movements confused.
 
I get it, the box jumps we see on the gram look impressive, they draw in the likes, however if you know what a good form box jump looks like you’ll know the difference.
 
We mistakenly think that the higher we stack the boxes the better it will be for us.
 
So very wrong.
 
Like terrible, really.
 
There are a lot of articles form well respected athletic coaches that are not he same page, I will google one and pick the first without reading it because I’m that confident if I search –
 
Real vs Fake Box Jump
 
I will get one.
 
 
Do you have box jumps in your training?
 
If so you might want to dig in to the form, just for the lol’s if nothing else.
 
I will leave you with two points to remember.
 
1 – Your hips want to stay above your knees when you take off and land, that is correct form, video yourself and check.
 
If your knee/hip angle chances dramatically from takeoff to landing on the box then I’m sorry, that’s not a box jump, it’s a tuck jump on to a box.
 
(I’m not really sorry).
 
2 – They are a power exercise (high velocity) and best served in sets of reps where you accelerate maximally, once speed goes you stop.
 
While you can use them for cardio you probably shouldn’t.
 
Bonus Point – Step down off the box, don’t jump down, unless you want increased risk of injury, then by all means fill your boots.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Honestly, this is blindingly good information.

A short tip to improving form instantly.
I can’t take credit for this little gem, it is something in the lifting world the Russian athletes of the world have done for a while.
 
You will also find it common in various other sports as well.
 
Why?
 
That is simple, it is because of the exceptional amount of feel it provides you.
 
Close your eyes and lift.
 
Yep, lifting with your eyes closed if one of the best ways to sharpen up your form instantly.
 
Is it dangerous?
 
Meh, potentially, then again, you wouldn’t want to try it with your 1RM, perhaps starting off with bodyweight and then moving on to lighter loads is more sensible.
 
What pulling down the lids on your peepers will do is nothing short of amazing.
 
You will start to feel your bodies movements.
 
The balance biases, the instability, the movement patterns and so much more.
 
If something is off you will wobble, feel unstable and probably bail on the attempt, and that’s okay because you can try again.
 
Being the complex creatures that we are,w e rely heavily on our sight.
 
Maybe we shouldn’t, not all the time.
 
Give this little tip a try with smaller movements first the are lower overall risk.
 
Over time build up to doing it with larger compound movements.
 
With enough practice you’ll be Daredevil in no time.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Do squats hurt your back too?

“Squats hurt my back.”

Incorrect, what you are doing is hurting your back.

Yep, more often than not, less for previous traumatic injury that has dramatically changed your bodies morphology, it’s your form.

Over the years I have spent many a day tweaking peoples form.

Striving to have them understand the correct movement patterns, what muscles are meant to be doing what and generally simian to avoid them snapping themselves up.

A few learned, many didn’t.

Being humans we have this tiny little thing called bias, which usually marries up with cognitive dissonance quite happily and as such people think they know best and only seek the answers they want.

Morons the lot of them.

98% of the time if something hurts during an exercise/movement it is because our form isn’t right.

As much as we’d like some unexplainable cause to protect our ego it’s just the case that our movement patterns are poor.

How can you overcome this?

Simple.

Hire a coach to learn from, alternatively record all of your lifts and give them some honest critique because the chances are you know when your own form looks poor.

There you have it, the next time you feel a movement is causing you issue take a step back and look at how you’re performing it because the chances are it’s not the exercises that is hurting you, it’s what you’re doing that’s hurting you.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Time to Balance

As Christmas day draws nearer and the new year is literally around the corner I feel it’s a good time to start looking at some potential goals for next year, especially those surrounding balanced strength in certain lifts and even across the board if possible.
 
The lifts I want to draw your attention to are the following:
 
– Front Squat
– Behind Neck Press (It’s not dangerous if done correctly)
 
Exercises that when strengthened to their ideal ratio to their counterparts provide excellent strength/hypertrophy progress.
 
When people speak about squats it’s often the back variety in a high bar position (across the traps) typically, unless said person is a power lifter in which case they will opt for low bar (across the rear debts). When looking at your typical squat you should find your front squat hitting around 85% of that number. Yep, 85%. If you do 3×100 on back squat then you’d want to be hitting 85×3 on front squat.
 
A strong front squat will not only make your back squat feel easier, it will give you tremendous strength through the quads, core and upper back because of having to hold the front rack position. You will also find that the front squat has more athletic crossover as well.
 
If you haven’t really done much in the way of front squat then fear not, I will put up a simple progression method/workout below to help you improve these two lifts.
 
Time to discuss the much fear Behind Neck Press. There are a lot of people who claim this will destroy your shoulders and if the movement is done incorrectly and you have poor posture then they’re right, however if you take some time to iron out some kinks and improve your mobility/flexibility/form so you can perform this pain free with full ROM you will find your shoulders thank you in the end.
 
The lift we will be basing your BNP off of is your close grip bench press. You should look to be pressing 66% of your CGB in the BNP, so to put some numbers to that, if you CGBx6x100 you should be able to handle 66kg for 6 in the BNP. If you can this shows a healthy balance in your shoulders and chances are you will be injury free for the most part.
 
*If you are looking for where I go this info you will find it in the writings of a great strength coach by the name of Charles Poliquin, you might have heard of him.
 
Here’s a small excerpt from ‘The Poliquin Principles’ it’s well worth purchasing – https://www.scribd.com/doc/57908561/Charles-Poliquin-The-Poliquin-Principles
 
Now I said I would give you a simple method/workout to help you progress these, here it is (it’s a modified Hepburn method, check out Doug Hepburn’s writings, they hold a lot of great tips).
 
 
^^ A starting point for info on Doug.
 
First things first, the parameters of the workout:
 
– Establish 3RM for Squat and CGB then take the required % of those numbers for your FS & BNP (85%, 66% – You can go for 65% or 70% if you hate funny numbers).
 
– Take 10-20% off the weights you should be using for FS & BNP, starting out lighter will benefit you in the long run and allow you more room to progress and groove the movements/from. Leave your ego at the door.
 
– Train 3xP/W (2x FS/BNP sessions, the other session can have deadlift, dips, filler lifts etc, there will be an example of this)
 
– Start each compound lift at 1×3 & 7×2, add a rep every session until you hit 8×3 (should last around 4 weeks), once you hit this go back to 1×3,7×2 but increase the weight on said lift. Repeat to make all the gains (Y).
 
– Accessory Lifts: Have a pulling movement – say chin up) in-between each set of FS/BNP in a jump set fashion, it will look like this: A1 FS – Rest 60 seconds, A2 Chin Rest 60 seconds, A1 FS, and so on.
 
Here is how the workout high look:
 
Monday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 1×3,7×3
A2 – Chin x6-8
B1 – Bnp 1×3,7×2
B2 – Chest Supported Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
Wednesday: Rest 60-90seconds betweens sets.
A1 – Deadlift Ramp to 2RM, back off for 5x2x85-90% daily max.
B1 – Dumbbell Incline Press 3-6×6-8
B2 – Face Pull x8-12
C1 – Dips 6×6-8
 
Friday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 2×3,7×3
A2 – Pull Up Peg Grip x6-8
B1 – Bnp 2×3,7×2
B2 – Pendlay Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
^^ Notice the 1 rep progression on the main compound lifts (FS/BNP).
 
You will find this is quite a nice little change from your standard training and helps you bridge those strength imbalances.
 
Any questions simply leave a comment down below.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Two Tips to Fix Form

 

Correcting form can be tricky at the best of times with a good coach at your side. This becomes even harder when you train alone, but fear not, I will share with you two quick tips to help you improve your own form and iron out any kinks.

Be truthful in your critique of yourself, trust me, it will be a to your advantage to let your ego take a nock on this occasion.

1 – Video Feedback

It’s fair to imagine hat most people have some form of camera or recording device on their phone, meaning that there is always an opportunity to check form and improve.

Heres how to do it yourself –

– Record your lift
– Upload it to your computer
– Go to the interweb and load up YouTube
– Find a high level athlete of similar build/stature to put yours again
– Compare & make notes, assess what YOU can do to improve
– Take heed of your notes and go practice

2 – Slow Down

The use of cadence in lifting is a great way to hone your skill/form. Try doing a 6-1-6-1 tempo (eccentric, pause, concentric, pause) for around 6 reps, start off with say a load of 60% 1RM, if you don’t know yours then work to an RPE of 6/7.

The slower form will force you to adhere together form to keep not only control but also balance. You can also use this technique to really focus on contracting/squeezing the muscles you’re using for maximal pump/MU recruitment.

Form is paramount in not only lifting big weights but also longevity in lifting, never sacrifice it in the gym. Ego is something that needs to be left outside the gym.

Enjoy,
Ross

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3 Tips to better technique.

Having solid technique is not only essential for safety but also if you want to shift big weights.
 
Solid form will mean you achieve more lifts and break more PR’s. This not only improves confidence but gains as well.
 
Here are three tips to help you improve your form:
 
1 – Sets of Singles
 
Let’s say you have a rep goal of 25 which you usually break in to 5×5, 6×4, 8×3 or any other rep scheme. Instead of doing your normal sets/reps you will simply perform 25 singles, meaning you have to put the bar back in the rack (or to the floor) and set up each and every rep. This will help you get used to nailing that first rep every time and greatly improve your form.
 
2 – 6-6-6
 
The devils scheme as some call it. You pick a weight that is RPE 6 and do 6 sets of 6 reps with a 6-0-6-0 tempo. This reduced tempo will force you to control your form each rep and improve your ability to maintain total body tension throughout your lifts.
 
3 – Video Records
 
An obvious one but something people still don’t do enough of. WE all have phones that can record short videos and this will give you the perfect opportunity to take a look at your form, after all, the camera doesn’t lie. You can use the feedback to tweak your technique as needed if you see any.
 
Use those three tips and you’ll find suddenly you start breaking plateaus and having less injuries.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Straight Lines

When it comes to using barbells the is one factor that they all have in common when it comes to correct execution of the various movements, do you know what it is though?

Pretty much all of the movements should move in essentially a straight line (there may be some deviance from this in the bench press/bent over row but that’s a topic of another day).
Lets brake down the most common movements and take a look at where the bar should be and ideally what path it should stay on.
Squat:
The bar needs to stay over your mid foot, any deviation from this can result in you tipping forwards or falling backwards. So long as the bar stays over your mid foot it will travel in a straight line on both the decent and ascent, depending on where you position the bar (front, high bar or low bar) the angle of your torso will differ to accommodate this and allow the bar to stay over mid foot.
I would suggest filming this from the side so you can gauge this, if you see the bar doing anything other than staying over your mid foot and traveling in a straight line then you have a problem and will be sacrificing how much weight you can lift. It is important to brace your abs as this will help keep the body in a better overall position, remember that the body is working as one in this lift.
Press:
I am referring to the overhead press, as I said above the bench press is a slightly different topic altogether.
The press starts at the shoulder/clavicle – over the center line of your body, you will be required to move your head back and out of the way to allow you to press the bar upward in a straight line so that it stays over the center line of your body. You will need to keep the elbows and forearms directly under the bar as you push straight up, often times people will try and push the bar away from them which causes a strange bar path and also excessive backwards lean and puts extra unneeded pressure on the lower back.
You will brace your abs by taking a deep breath in to your belly, this will help you avoid losing position and once again connecting the body from head to toe. As with the squat film this lift from the side.
Deadlift:
As with the other two lifts you will want the bar traveling in a straight line once again starting over mid foot, similar to the squat the bar ideally wants to stay there, if it does it will make your body work as one unit just like in the other two lifts. You will often see that when people set up the inadvertently nudge the bar forwards and out of this position when they set up (this is due to excessive forwards knee travel), as a result they will end up having to pull the bar in to them and afire their hips up first, thus turning this in to a craning motion that only uses the lower back as opposed to a full body movement.
Once again you will do well to fil this lift from the side, that way you will also be able to see how your overall position (upper back tightness, spinal position) looks.
The main take home from this short post guys is to be aware of where the bar is in relation to your body as you’re lifting it to ensure a correct bar path. DO NOT try to do this by the use of mirrors as you will end up watching yourself and losing concentration which lacks to the skill of ‘feeling’ how the lift is. Setting up a simple camera will allow you to concentrate 100% on the lift so it’s worth doing it. After a bit of practice you will find that you’re numbers start to increase because you’re more technically proficient.
Now go and get practicing.
Enjoy,
Ross
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Alternative Lifting Medicine

Morning Guys,

Standard gym exercises such as the legendary Squat, Bench, Deadlift and Press are staples for the routines of many great lifters and athletic champions, but sometimes repeatedly doing these can leave you with various aches and pains (not to mention bored).

There are lots of different exercises available that still work the same muscles groups, however they add some much needed variety to your training. I will delve in to some of my personal favourites and why they are excellent alternatives to try.

Bored of Back Squat?…. Forget Frustration with Front Squat.

Front Squats are great for building solid legs, a cast iron core and a solid upper thoracic. Aim for 80-85% of your back squat in this movement.

Flat Bench Faltering?…. Intensify with an Incline (Y).

Swapping flat bench for incline will help fill out those pecs, pull out that posture and create some impressive strength gains too. Aim for 70-80% of Flat Bench.

Deadlifting become Dire?…. Develop with Deficits :).

Deficit deadlifts performed with a snatch width grip will help you develop a solid pull from the floor while filling out your upper back and lats with some solid muscle. It’s also great for grip too. If you hit 70% of your regular overhand deadlift you’ve done well.

Over Head getting Overly Hard?…. Banish Niggles with Behind the Neck.

The Behind the neck press requires a decent amount of mobility but it will not only help improve your regular press once you master the movement, it will also hit your shoulders in ways you can’t imagine and build beastly triceps. Once you get good at the movement and develop strong technique try and aim for 80% of your normal press.

Adding any one of all of these exercises in to your routine will help you break through plateaus and progress. My only advice is start light (50% of 1RM) and cement solid form, if you don’t you run the risk of injury.

Enjoy
Ross

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