How Your Hand Position Can Maximize Your Squats

Squats. Sitting down with a weight on your back then standing back up. They sound simple, but unfortunately they aren’t. Technique plays a significant role in your ability to move heavy loads. One of the biggest technique mistakes I see destroying what could be a great squat is where you place your hands.

Two Components of a Good Squat

Stability and tension are two key components to an efficient squat. The ability to brace your body from your little toe to your head is a must. When you lose tension in your upper body (your lats, traps, trunk, and lower back), you transition into an awful good-morning-type-squat, where the weight falls forward and your hips rise. You end up squatting just using your back muscles, or even stuck at the bottom of the squat.

A common cause of this loss of tension and subsequent dangerous position is your hand-width placement on the bar. I see an increasing number of people squatting with a super-wide hand position, their hands almost touching the weight plates. If you have shoulder issues, this may be the only way to squat. However, if you can get narrower in your grip, you should continue reading.
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A grip that is too wide (left) is one of the most common squatting mistakes I see.

Why Your Hands Matter

When you place your hands at the extremities of the bar, you lose the ability to significantly engage your lats, drive your elbows forward, and keep your chest standing proud. With this lack of back engagement, the sheer weight of the bar pushes your chest forward and away from your center of mass.

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A wide grip forces your chest forward and prevents lat activation.

Once you sink to the base of your squat, success becomes a question of how strong your lower back is, as it is obliged to bear the brunt of a heavy good morning. The bar has moved further away from your center of mass, so the hips rise to try and stop the weight from pulling you forward. You end up with back pain rather than leg and glute activation.

pic_4Instead of glute activation, you get what resembles a heavy good morning.

A Simple Solution

There is a simple fix for this poor squatting. Just bring the hands closer in to your body. Whether you can do this will be dependent on your shoulder mobility and flexibility. If you are unable to bring your hands closer together, you should be working on correcting your mobility anyway.

squathandscollageA narrower position allows you to drive your chest upwards, soyour lower back no longer bears the brunt of the lift.

A narrower hand position creates far more tension. This is because you can pull your elbows in towards your hips and push them further forward, which drives the chest upwards and maintains good form. This position will then allow your hips to come through at the right time, help drive your back upwards, and keep your chest nice and proud. Notice how the bar now sits over the center of mass and makes the weight feel lighter, too.

Congratulations, you are now squatting using your legs instead of just your lower back. Enjoy your increase in load and decrease in pain.

 

https://breakingmuscle.com/fitness/fix-your-hand-position-to-supercharge-your-squats

Your 3-step plan to do 20 pullups without stopping

Pull your weight with these essential bodyweight workout tips.

PULLUPS ARE FLAT-OUT hard as hell.

Here’s how to really pull your weight:

1) Elastic bands

Use elastic assistance bands for a boost. That’ll help get you to knock out a few more reps than you otherwise would.

2) Negative Pullups

Focus on the lowering portion rather than the lift. Find a low bar and jump up so your chest in near bar level, then slowly lower yourself.

3) Forced Reps

When your muscles are on fire, have a training partner give you a boost to crank out two to three more reps.

5 Trainer-Recommended Tips Every Gym Beginner Needs to Know

 

Whether joining a gym or working out at home, there is a long list of beginner fitness mistakes we’ve all made! And for those joining the gym, there’s the added pressure of figuring things out in a public place. If your brand new gym membership is already starting to lose its lustre, the following tips from one of Fitness First’s personal training ambassadors, Alex Chaple will help smooth the bumps in your fitness journey, and make your goals feel a lot easier to attain.

Cardio Comes After

There is a never-ending debate on when to perform cardio if you’re strength training, but Alex strongly recommends you do so after, because performing resistance exercises before cardio will give you a greater fat loss effect.

Get Off The Treadmill

Cardio machines aren’t the be all and end all when it comes to working up a sweat. You can avoid plateauing and getting bored by taking advantage of free classes your gym holds, or adapting your training style to include elements of HIIT, and Tabata. Training this way allows your body to burn more calories in a shorter space of time than traditional machine cardio.

Think Big

There are so many benefits to strength training, but some moves are better than others and some are better combined. Focus your training on large muscle groups and big ranges of movement to capitalise on the time you spend at the gym. You can start with a simple move like adding bicep curls to basic squats, whether you use low or no weights, you are still engaging different muscle groups (your arms and legs) in one move.

Use Your Own Body

Adding weight to your workout is beneficial to sculpting and growing lean muscles, but training with just your body weight for resistance is just as beneficial, because it allows you to perfect your form and perform higher reps when it comes to certain moves.

Book Time in With a Trainer

You don’t have to buy a block of expensive sessions with a personal trainer to reap the benefits of their expertise. If you need advice from a professional on your form, how to use certain machine, or simply gaining the confidence to walk into the weight area, get some time in with a personal trainer and go armed with a list queries.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Rima Brindamou
19 January 2017

5 Pro Tips on Moving Up to Ultras

Ultrarunner/ski mountaineer Meredith Edwards knows a thing or two about going long distances in the mountains. The 32-year-old from Wilson, Wyo., finished second at the 2016 TDS, a 119-kilometer trail race through the heart of the Alps in parts of Italy, Switzerland and France. In 2015, she finished eighth in the 101K CCC race held on similar trails. This year she has her sights set on the 170K Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc on Sept. 1-2. Here are Edwards’ tips on how to successfully jump into ultrarunning.

RELATED: Overcoming the Myths of Ultrarunning

1. Start slow.

“Run 50Ks,” says Edwards, who laments that too many people pick a 50-miler, 100K or even a 100-miler for their first foray into ultrarunning. Take time to build a base over 6 to 8 months, focusing on gradually increasing your weekly long runs runs to 3 to 6 hours in length and on trails, if possible. “I think it’s smart to start slow,” she says, “to build a solid foundation.”

2. Learn to recover.

“If you can’t recover just as hard as you put the effort in, you’re screwed,” says Edwards, who explains the importance of running fast on the days you need to run fast, and on the days that you’re just out putting in mileage, to run a relaxed effort. Edwards says she often runs with heart rate as her gauge, and warns that runners who think they need to be running fast all the time might see success for a month, but often burn out.

3. Get Stronger.

Edwards, who’s proud to say she can deadlift twice her bodyweight and do five conventional weighted pull-ups (with 15 pounds in tow), is a huge proponent of strength training—and full-body movements in particular. The most important thing is building functional strength—by strengthening the muscle groups related to your running motion. “My strength coach always says, ‘Strength equals speed over time.’ You need to be strong to run fast over distance.” Edwards credits her strength training for helping her stay injury-free.

4. Eat. A lot.

Edward’s regular diet is what she calls “as clean as possible,” in other words, free of processed foods. The trend is to reduce carbs and focus more on protein and fat, but she recommends doing what works for you. “When I want bread, I’ll buy a baguette. I don’t limit what I eat.” During ultras, she relies on gels, chews, waffles and soup. And she explains how she and ultrarunner friend Jim Walmsley joke that “ultrarunning is an eating contest. I eat every 30 minutes during a race.” As an added tip, train with whatever fuel you’re going to race with, and if your system doesn’t agree with it, change things up and try again.

5. Break up the week.

Edwards believes in a structured week . She typically fits a track workout, two weight training workouts, two high-mileage days and some recovery runs all into a typical week of training during ultrarunning season. On Mondays, when she does up to 12 miles of speed work on the track, she hits the gym afterward (so the running workout was the emphasis of her week). She returns to the gym on Wednesdays, sometimes before a running effort, like hill repeats on trail. Tuesdays and Thursdays are recovery runs. Fridays and Saturdays are long runs (back-to-back high mileage). Sundays are days off. The formula has worked for her. “I’m at a point where I’m making gains, and not lifting to repair injuries,” she says. “I’m the strongest I’ve ever been, and the fastest I’ve ever been. It’s all kind of come together.”

Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2017/01/trail-running/5-pro-tips-moving-ultras_161120#MLgEIwexiKs7Ih3R.99

 

By Lisa Jhung, Published Jan. 19, 2017,

Do This Mobility Drill For a Better Squat

Do-this-mobility-drill-for-a-better-squat

Ankle immobility is a major reason some lifters have trouble reaching adequate depth, staying balanced, and remaining stable during a squat. Specifically, the inability to move the ankle into enough dorsiflexion causes these problems.

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Above, we see what happens if the ankle doesn’t dorsiflex enough during a squat. It causes the heel to peel off the ground. (Imagine tipping the letter “L” to the right.) In this case, the forefoot is the only part able to apply force into the ground. The weight shifts forward, the knees receive excess stress, and posterior musculature is under-stimulated.

IMAGE 2

A squatter demonstrating good dorsiflexion resembles the above diagram. We see that the shin still moves forward, but now the feet stay flat on the ground. Dorsiflexion of the ankle is what allows this to take place, and now the lifter can apply force throughout the entire foot, making the squat safe and effective.

How to Mobilize Your Ankles

To exaggerate the dorsiflexion you need, put two weight plates on the ground (the same distance apart as your squat stance) in front of a power rack. The thickness of the plates will depend on your current ankle mobility. Five or 10-pound plates should provide enough thickness, and you can even experiment with a mat or thin board to get the same effect.

Step onto the plates so that the plates elevate your toes and keep your heels on the ground. Holding on to the rack, pull yourself into a deep squat.

From here, experiment with hitting different positions: Sit at the bottom. Lean front to back and side to side. Bounce around. Even squat up and down. Doing these movements while your ankle is in extreme dorsiflexion will help mobilize the ankle.

Stay on the plates for 15-30 seconds at a time. When you step off the plates and back onto the flat ground, your ankle dorsiflexion will be super-compensated to the point where you’ll be able to glide to the bottom of a squat with ease.

Key Points

Make sure to keep your heels in contact with the ground while you’re on the plates. If you let them come off the ground at all, you defeat the purpose.

Force the shins forward to exaggerate closing the ankle joint angle. If you sit too far back onto your heels and allow your shins to angle back (as will be most comfortable), you won’t be forcing dorsiflexion.

Start with a thin plate or object to stand on, and work to a thicker one as mobility improves.

This drill will be especially helpful to anyone who squats in weightlifting shoes. Weightlifting shoes elevate the heel, and therefore don’t require the ankle to move through as much range of motion as a flat-soled shoe does. This drill creates the opposite effect of wearing weightlifting shoes by pitching the forefoot up rather than the heel.

Use this drill on days you squat, in between your first few warm-up/work-up sets. Amplify the effects of this drill by also including things such as tip toe walking, ankle rolling, and static calf stretching.

  01/15/17

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