Learn the secrets to long term health

Don’t Brace on Every Deadlift

Online-educated lifters overutilize bracing.

The demands of a heavy deadlift are different than a high rep deadlift. If you brace every rep on a set of 12, it’s going to take you a minute and a half to finish the set. Plus, you’re spiking your blood pressure more than you need to.

A way to think about it: use as much as you need. Don’t lift 45lbs like it’s 405lbs.

Here are a few videos where I talk through more of the differences.

Y U Extended, Bro?

  • You didn’t sleep well.
  • You don’t sleep enough.
  • You have sleep apnea.
  • You eat like shit.
  • You ate too much.
  • You ate good foods that your body doesn’t like.
  • You have crazy muscle soreness.
  • You haven’t worked out in a week.
  • You don’t step 10,000+ times each day.
  • You sit all day.
  • You don’t do any cardio.
  • You don’t do any mobility work.
  • You just finished a heavy deadlift.
  • Your shoes are old.
  • Your mattress is old.
  • Your desk chair sucks.
  • Your desk is too high.
  • You stare at screens all day.
  • Your glasses are the wrong prescription.
  • You’re overcaffeinated.
  • You never see daylight.
  • You do shift work.
  • You don’t poop.
  • You’re dehydrated.
  • You’re sick.
  • You’re overscheduled.
  • You’re overstressed at work.
  • You’re undereating.
  • You’re ketoadapting.
  • You don’t do any unilateral exercise.
  • You don’t do the healthy things you know you should be doing.

Your Form is Bad Because Your Mind Is Weak

Have you seen asymmetry in heavy lifts? The bench press where the sternum turns to the right. The squat where the left knee and left elbow stick out to the side. The deadlift stuck over on the right foot.

These happen. Often. If you haven’t noticed them, look out for them. It’s actually pretty cool.

But as a trainer, it’s frustrating. I can’t train you into that asymmetry. I can, but… what good could that possibly do? Now I have to stop you when I start to consistently see that.

But I’ve seen people shift over there almost immediately. I mean, like, rep two out of twenty. They know how to do the exercise, they just can’t. Their brains won’t let them. Why? Because ‘dey scared. Continue reading

Guiding Principles of Movement – Health vs. Performance

For health…

  • Technique should be a 10 out of 10.
  • Your body should warm up.
  • Endurance is a goal.
  • Cardiovascular health is a goal.
  • Your muscles should activate and burn.
  • You should avoid end ranges of motion.
  • Slow your lifting tempos: lowering, raising, and transitioning.
  • You’re probably going to shake and twitch.
  • Push ups are therapy.
  • Single leg movements are therapy.
  • Get the outer, lower abs.
  • Try all sorts of stuff. Bodyweight exercises are helpful.
  • Remember to eat well, sleep fully, and have fun.

For performance…

  • You should be very uncomfortable. Push yourself.
  • Technique is important, but doesn’t need to be a 10 out of 10.
  • Lift with maximal intent, whether light or heavy.
  • Train your weaknesses.
  • Have a monthly training goal and a plan to accomplish that goal.
  • Get tight and hold your breath.
  • Grind through reps if you need to, but try not to miss any.
  • Total change doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Remember to eat well, sleep fully, and enjoy what you do.

Learning How to Fix Lifting Technique

Humans are complex, and movement can be complicated. Why does your client always bend over when they do squats? Why do they do that weird thing with their back on some days? How can they understand it more simply?

Fixing movement is simple: make the wrong stuff look right.

Okay, smart guy, but how do I know what is wrong?

THAT’S the hard part.

Fixing movement is simple for me now that I’ve coached for roughly a decade. But that’s only because I’ve meticulously dissected thousands of reps. Now I can identify what I like and what I don’t like.

  • That squat looks like a deadlift. I don’t like it for this person.
  • That push up looks like they’re doing The Worm. I don’t like it.
  • That deadlift looks like it hurts. I don’t like it at all.

Deciding what you DON’T like is easy… but only once you know what you DO like.

For example, there might be three dozen different squat faults you could identify…

  1. Forward shift
  2. Right shift
  3. Right-forward shift
  4. Left shift
  5. Left-forward shift
  6. Backward shift
  7. Right-backward shift
  8. Left-backward shift
  9. Knee collapse
  10. Knee splay
  11. Foot collapse
  12. Arching back at the top
  13. Never neutralizing back position
  14. Arching back at the bottom
  15. Rounding back at the bottom
  16. Collapsing chest at the bottom
  17. Looking too far down
  18. Not setting eye gaze
  19. Wearing poor shoes for squatting
  20. Limited ankle mobility
  21. Squatting too deep
  22. Squatting too shallow
  23. Shifting forward only at the bottom
  24. Shifting backward only at the top
  25. Shifting forward only at the top
  26. Spinning everything on the way up
  27. Squatting with the bar too low
  28. Collapsing one foot but not the other
  29. Collapsing one knee but not the other
  30. Not finishing with glutes
  31. Not driving out of the bottom with the legs
  32. Losing ab tension on the way up
  33. Losing upper back tension on the way up
  34. Looking too far up
  35. Thinking about too many things
  36. Being weak out of the bottom

That took me about 6 minutes to list. But how long did it take to build that database of squatting mistakes?

It takes a long time.

And that’s necessary. Experience begets competence. That’s how you can become a master of your craft.

But there is a quicker way. It’s not easy, but it is quicker.

You want to understand what “normal” looks like.

Think about how much simpler it is to simply say, “That doesn’t look right. If I do _________________, then it might look right.”

That’s it. It’s not, “You’re losing your upper back at the bottom of the lift. I want you to keep your upper back tight. Oh that didn’t work. Well… think about squeezing your shoulders together while you squat. Squeeze harder! Yes yes yes! Eh, no. That’s no better.”

Hey! Some of that is just coaching. It’s an art. You play with cues you like and sometimes they don’t work.

But let’s say you have a group of twenty people. Can you cue them?

Some would say no, but I think you can. I’ve done it. But your cues have to be dialed in. So does your exercise selection, but that’s a talk for another day.

But now the burning question: how in the world do you find out what “normal” looks like?

THAT’S the hard part.

And that’s also why I put together this mentorship.

I think I can teach you most of what you need to know is roughly 24 hours of hard work. NOT 24 hours of daytime, but 24 hours of focused, deliberate practice. 24 hours of nose to the grindstone. 24 hours of well slept, highly caffeinated attention.

At least, I think we can do that if you’re a somewhat experienced coach. You have some coaching reps under your belt. You’re already familiar with the process of seeing movement and giving cues. You probably just need some re-focusing. And more coaching reps never hurt either.

How does it work?

I think most people get into the fitness industry because they learn well by doing. We have to get our hands dirty. We have to coach each other. We have to look at movement in a new light. And we have to have reasons for the cues we give.

You can say, “Chest up!” But if the problem is in the hamstrings, that cue probably isn’t going to work.

So we work together to identify “normal”. Then we can use our instincts, harness our creativity, and come up with cues that work for us.

First, we become scientists. Then, we become artists.

Will you join us?

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