Squat Correctly (Part 1)

squat

I read a Nerd Fitness article  and I learned good stuff.

I’m sure that in your gym, everyone says it’s good to do squat ? But who do your see really doing ? There’s not a lot of people, it’s weird, no ?

I do the squat on leg’s day but the truth is that it’s actually a « full body » exercice. « Full body » means that it’s an exercice that work several different muscle group at the the same time.

The squat mimics a lot of natural movement that you use everyday and if your goal is to gain muscle and lose weight, the squat is perfect.

What I see in my gym is that people who have never done squat are very intimidated and they use Smith machine to be reassured. But the Smith machine is very bad to do squat because it prevents you from making a natural move.

With this article, you’ll know everything about the squat and you’ll be able to do it without problem.

Why

how much why

The squat is one of the most fundamental functional movements of our lives.

Look at babies, they bodyweight squat quietly. it’s by growing that we stop doing squat and be on a chair for hours.

When you travel, you see in countries, people do full squat to sit and chat, it’s fun. There are even restroom where you have to do a squat.

It’s modern furniture and technology that make us want to do less squat but fortunately we can get back to basics and squat all life.

Squat is a movement that uses multiple joints, hip and knee joint. This is what we call a compound movement.

Squat is a movement that uses legs muscles, hips muscles, core muscles, back muscle, shoulder muscle and arms muscle. That’s why I told you it was a full body exercice.

What is cool with squat is that it increases your flexibility and it strengthens your bones, your muscles and your knees.

The fact that squat uses several muscle groups in your body, your body must increase your anabolic hormone production  to exercise the movement. This is cool because it helps to lose fat and gain muscle.

Strengthening strength in your knees and in your hips decreases your chances of having injuries in everyday life.

You saw, it’s really good for your body to do squat. Now, look at the different type of squat.

Bodyweight squat

bodyweight squat

It’s the simplest squat version, it’s the squat we used to do when we were babies.

Stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Your toes should point lightly to the outside, about 5 to 20 degrees outside.

Look before you and fix a spot on the wall in front of you. You’re going to look at this point while you’re squatting. You don’t have to look at ceiling or look at the floor. For me, it also helps me to stay focused.

Put your arms straight forward so that they’re parallel to the ground. Keep your spine straight. Your spine shouldn’t be rounded or too arched.

Be concentrated to properly distribute the weight on your feet. The weight must be on your heels and the ball of your feet. You must feel like you glued to the floor. With this technique you’re able to move your toes throughout the squat.

During the squat keeps your whole body contracted. Here we go.

Inhale, swing your hips back and push your butt back. You swing your hips back to bend your knees. It’s important to swing your hips back to begin the movement. If you start by bending your knees to begins the movement, the day you’re going to lift a heavy weight, you’ll quickly feel the pain and difficulty.

Continue to look in front of you by fixing the spot on the wall in front of you. Keep your back straight to have your spine in a neutral position and your chest and your shoulder up.

Get down

As you go down, stay focused so that your knees are aligned with your feet. I remember that when I started squatting, I had to concentrate on not having my knees inside my toes. When this happened, I would push my knees out to be aligned with my feet. Of course, your knees must not exceed the width of your feet.

Imagine you have a Start Wars light saber on your knees. The light saber should be between your second and fourth toes, it’s a little trick to help you have your knees aligned with your feet.

Squat down until your hips joints are lower than your knees, this is the parallel position. It’s necessary to look at the hips position and not the thighs position because the thighs size can be different from one person to another. If your hips joint aren’t lower than your knees, you do a partial squat.

Once you’re down, it’s time to get back on your feet.

Get up

Continue to have your whole body contracted and push on your heels and keep your feet on the ground as well.

Stay focus so that your knees are aligned at your feet like when you get down and contract your butt up to be sure to use your glutes.

The most important thing is that you have to keep your body and your core contracted all along the squat. It’s important to learn to do this right away because the more you lift heavy, the more it will help you to have a good body’s position during the squat.

Note :Every human being has a unique body so none of our squats will look perfect. A person who has a short femur  will have a slightly different squat than a person who has a long femur. And it should be added that many people are working to improve their mobility problems. What I mean is that if your squat looks different from the person next to you, it doesn’t mean you’re doing it wrong.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

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How To Do Chin-Ups

chin up anatomy back

I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

In suspension at the fixed bar with your hands apart with a pronated grip:

  • Inhale and pulls to bring your chest almost to the level of the bar

  • Exhale at the end of the movement

  • Return to the starting position by controlling the movement

chin up anatomy back

This exercise works latissimus dorsi, teres major and when approaching the shoulder blades at the end of the movement, it’s the rhomboids and trapezius (middle and inferior part). This exercise works a little bit biceps brachii, brachialis, brachioradialis.

This exercise works the back in thickness.

Variants

By pulling out your chest, you can pull to the chin.

If lifting your bodyweight is too easy, you can attach weights to a belt.

From a biomechanical point of view, do this exercise with your elbows along your body work the outer fibers of the latissimus dorsi and develop your back in width.

By pulling out your chest with your elbows back to pull to your chin, work the upper and middle fibers of the latissimus dorsi and those of the teres major.

chin up anatomy back

chin up anatomy back

Note

Pectoralis major works a little bit to be in synergy with the latissimus dorsi and teres major to close the angle between your arm and your core.

Evolution

evolution human being nature tree

Latissimus dorsi and teres major have an important role in the four-legged movement of our distant ancestors. They have the function of pushing the front legs backward.

During arboreal life, these muscles were transformed into muscles specialized in vertical displacement.

During life on the ground, our ancestors bought the biped but retained the possibility of climbing.

That’s why we have powerful back’s muscles to tow our bodies and climb trees.

Note

The difference that human beings have with our close relatives, the monkeys, is the development of lower limbs specializing in bipedalism. Our torso and upper limbs have the same structure and proportions. The truth is that monkeys don’t have long arms, it’s us who have long legs.

Subscribe to my newsletter and share this article you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

P.S. If you’re in Miami and you like Caribbean food, go to my cousin’s bistro to eat Haitian food. Click here.

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From Exercise Machines To Free Weights

machine free weights

I read a Nerd Fitness article  and there is good stuff.

Very often in gym’s advertisements, we watch a lot of high-tech machines to do exercises and the free weight zone is a small hidden room.

What I see in my gym, it’s people start their training with a little bit cardio and they use machines. They do this because it’s easier and this look more secure. Unfortunately, this is not the reality. The Matrix trap us with these machines.

Attention : If you have a medical prescription or you need to use machines for a special reason, continue to follow your training program prescribed by your doctor or physiotherapist.

Why

why

The truth is that machines force muscles and joints to make movements that aren’t natural.

Machines force your body to move weights in a single pattern (up – down or left – right). Our bodies naturally don’t move like it, this is the problem. Movements or our bodies aren’t straight lines, it’s rather « S ». The result is that machines develop our muscles in a way that isn’t balanced and they endanger our joints and spine.

Like you can see, machines don’t put your body in safety and in addition, they don’t work your stabilizing muscles. Don’t work stabilizing muscles is very bad for everyday activities.

When you bent forward to take something on the floor, you body use a dozen and a dozen muscles at the same time. But since you no longer work your stabilizing muscles because of machines, your muscles don’t know how to work together so your body uses a muscle.

Study case

« Smith Machine » is famous to do squat in safety so it protects your back. Lie ! This machine is perfect to destroy your back and compressed your spine because this machine force your body to move only up and down. The real squat allow to do the fundamental movement and when you do it, you notice that your body doesn’t do a straight line from up to down. With the real squat you do a natural movement.

Do exercise with weight or with bodyweight is more efficient to burn calories than machines.

Full body

full body

All exercises classified in 2 categories : pull and push

I remember, I did a full body training program for 1 year before lift weight. This is what my Taekwondo’s teacher advised me and he was right (wow, Korean wisdom). A full body training program, 3 times per week is more efficient than a machines training program, 5-6 times per week for beginners. If you want to train more, you can do Tai-Chi or walking during rest days.

Full body is important

With full body, you learn to each body’s muscle to work together, you synchronize you body. This is allow you to be healthy, avoid using too much a muscle and avoid injury due to a weak stabilizing muscle. To maximize your body, eat healthy and you’ll burn more fat, build muscle and build a body of which you’re proud.

What is great with a full body training program, it’s when you skip a training day, it doesn’t matter. You’ll not have certain muscle more developed than any others because each training session work all body’s muscles

Bodyweight (full body)

bodyweight training

Mastering basics movements with bodyweight is perfect to prepare you for a training with weights.

It’s primitive movements therefore natural that allow you to become stronger without material.

The best example are gymnasts. Look gymnasts body, it’s amazing, impressive and the majority of their training are with bodyweight exercises.

Basic exercises

  • Push = push up, dips, handstands

  • Pull = pull up, body rows

  • Legs = bodyweight squat, pistols squats, lunges, box jumps

For each exercise, you do 2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

No it’s too simple  ! => Do this training program and if it’s too easy, increase the difficulty. You can do push up with one hand or pull up with one hand (like my friend Inti). You can also add more set ou repetition.

No it’s too difficult => Do this training program and if it’s too difficult, decrease the difficulty. You can do sets of 3 repetitions. The principle is you progress to do 4 sets of 10 repetitions. Take your time but be regular.

No I want abs => When you do squat, push up and pull up, you keep your core tight and by this way you work your abs. But if you want to do an exercise specially for abs, you can to plank and side plank.

Strength training (full body)

strength training

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a man or a woman, dumbbells and barbells are your friends.

Basic exercise

  • Push = Bench press, Overhead Press

  • Pull = Deadlift, Bent Over Row

  • Legs = Squat, Deadlift

For each exercise, you do 2-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

No I don’t like squat => Do you think squat is an useless exercise ? I advise you to read the book of Mark Rippetoe. If you seriously want to train, this book is for you !

No I afraid of weights => Don’t panic. Most people in free weights section are too busy to look at themselves in the mirror, they will not look at you. You can use a barbell or dumbbells for each exercise to improve your pure strength. I advise you dumbbells.

No I’m afraid of being ridiculous => Everybody don’t care if you life a dumbbell of 4kg (8.8lbs) or you squat 181kg (400lbs) because everybody struggle to do their training program. Forget people, stay focus and do you training program until the end.

But if I do bad => At the beginning use light weight to do movements with the good form, the good technique. When you’ll stronger, you’ll can add weight slowly each week to reach your limit. You can hire a personal trainer for 1-2 sessions to learn and improve basic exercises techniques or form.

No I want only lose weight => It’s simple, you do basic exercises and you eat less. The training is the same for lose weight or gain muscle. It’s diet that make the difference ! It’s a science :

  • Eat more calories than you burn = gain weight

  • Eat less calories than you burn = lose weight

Your physical condition, it’s 80 % diet and 20 % training. If you want bulk, you need to have a specific diet to do this.

Track and adjust slowly your training program and your diet to see your progress.

No matter what you do, don’t be afraid of the free weight zone. Remember than 90 % of people inside are focus to do their exercises by looking in the mirror therefore don’t worry. Do your exercices, become better and become stronger.

What do you feel when you train with free weights ?

-Steph

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Teenager Training (Part 3)

teenagers training

Session 2 of training for teenage (boy or girl) from JamCore DZ’s videos . This is what I want to share this with you.

You’re a teenager (boy or girl) and you want to have a better body. Here you will learn what you need to achieve this. First thing : Stop eating sugar, it kills you slowly.

In this Session 2, we will use 2 large water’s bottles (1.5l / 0.40gal). This is not a heavy weight but strong enough to prepare you to lift with much heavier.

water bottle

Sorry I didn’t find exercice’s picture with water bottle, I only found exercice’s picture with dumbbell.

Session 2

Rowing with water bottles

dumbbell rowing

Train back

You stand up, upper body bent at 45°, your arms are extended with a water bottle in each hand and you pull the bottles by contracting the upper back. The movement is done slowly.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Lateral raise with water bottle

lateral raises

Train shoulders

You stand up, chest high up without shoulders, your arms are extended with a water’s bottle in each hand. You raise your arms straight up to shoulder height. The movement is done slowly.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Curl with water bottles

dumbell curls

Train biceps

You stand up, arms outstretched with a water bottle in each hand. You bend your arm until the bottles touch your chest. The movement is done slowly.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Lateral squat

lateral squat

Train legs

It’s like squat in Session 1 except that in this version, you start with feet close and you take a step to the side to do a squat. Then you come back to the starting position with feet together. You take a step to the left and a step to the right. The movement is done slowly.

Do 2-3 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Plank

plank

Train core

Your elbows on the ground are in line with your shoulders. You pull your stomach and you stay stable.

This exercise allows you to have excellent posture to improve your self-confidence, everyday of your life.

Do 2-3 sets of 30-120 seconds

Legs raise

knee raises

Train abs

You put yourself on the floor and bring your legs to your chest slowly without your feet touch the floor. For teens who have weight problems, do the most of repetitions, no excuse.

Do 2-3 sets of 15-30 repetitions

Exemple of a week :

Monday: Session 1

Tuesday: Cardio

Thursday: Session 2

Monday: Cardio

Be very careful about your diet to get results. If you eat crap, you’re gonna look like crap. If you eat well, you’ll have a beautiful body.

In the next article, the last part, Session 3.

-Steph

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Plank

plank anatomy abs

This exercise work your core and improve your waistline and your posture.

Lying facedown on the ground on your elbows with your hands shoulder length apart. Push your body upwards as if you’re doing pushup. Your hands are fully extended and your toes grounded and your back straight. There should be a straigth line from your gead to your toes with no bend or arch in your back.

  • Keep this position as long as possible

Keep this position at least 20 seconds and you can go to 5 minutes. Then do the 2 sides as long as possible.

plank anatomy

-Steph

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