Broomstick Twists

broomstick twist

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE ! I read a Frederic Delavier’s book « Strength Training Anatomy » and I learned good stuff.

Standing with your legs apart and the stick placed on your trapezius above your posterior deltoids. Your hands are on the stick but don’t press on it :

Make a torso rotation on one side then the other, keeping your pelvis motionless with an isometric contraction of your glutes.

This exercise works when your right shoulder is forward : the right external oblique, left internal oblique and a little bit rectus abdominis, quadratus lumborum and extensor spinae on the left side.

For more intensity, it’s possible to slightly round your back. A variant is to do this movement sitting on a bench, which will block your pelvis and focus the effort on your abs.

seated broomstick twist

It’s with sets of several minutes that you get the best results.

Attention

Torso rotations are prohibited for people suffering from low back or having had a herniated disc as this may aggravate or resurgence of this lumbar pathology.

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

-Steph

Good Morning

good morning leg exercise

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

Standing with your feet slightly apart. The barbell put on your trapezius or lower on your posterior deltoids :

  1. Inhale and bend you torso forward to the horizontal with your back straight, the axis of flexion passing through coxofemoral joint.

  2. Back to the start position and exhale.

It’s possible to make the movement easier by bending your knees.

This exercise works glutes (gluteus maximus), all spinal muscles and hamstrings (except the biceps femoris short head). Besides the knees flexion, hamstrings have the function of retroversion of the pelvis, which allows to straighten the torso. This action performed when the torso bound by isometic contraction to abs and sacro-lumbar muscles.

To have better feeling on hamstrings, it’s advisable never to work with heavy weight. In negative phase, « good morning » is excellent for stretching the back of the thighs. Work regularly the negative phase of the « good morining » helps prevent injuries to hamstrings during the squat with heavy weight.

good morning leg exercise method straight bent leg

  1. Legs stretched while your torso leans forward, extends hamstrings. This make is easier to feel sensations of hamstrings when you straighten up your torso.

  2. Legs bent while your torso leans forward, relax hamstrings. This facilitates flexion of hip.

good morning leg exercise method straight bent leg

good morning leg exercise pelvis stabilization

good morning leg exercise glutes gluteux maximus hamstings

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

-Steph

Adapt Your Training To Your Morphology (Part 2)

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

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

If you didn’t read Part 1, click here.

Legs

Improve your squat position

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

To reduce the lower back’s effort and limit the hamstrings tension, it’s possible to do like powerlifters by putting the barbell on posterior deltoids.

This technique decreases the cantilever and increases the power of lifting from the back. This allows you to lift heavier weights.

By using powerlifter of weightlifting shoes (solid raised heel) or a wedge under the heels, this reduces the cantilever by having the buttocks not too back by the advancing knees. This allows for greater amplitudes with the thighs flexion.

With that, we feel better the quadriceps work by limiting the torso’s inclinaison and the work of the gluteus maximus and spinal erectors.

The low barbell and raised heel combination allows you to lift heavier weights. This technique is recommended for rangy people and people with stiff ankles to correct their positioning at squat.

Front squat to target quadriceps

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

Front squat limits the torso’s inclinaison. This has the effect of reducing the work of the lower back, decrease the tension of hamstrings muscles and adductor magnus muscle.

On the other hand, front squat increases the cantilever, which forces quadriceps to make more effort to extend the thigh on the leg.

Which means it’s the perfect squat for thighs. But it’s not possible to lift heavyweights like the classic squat and it’s recommended to do it with heels elevated for better stability.

For rangy people, front squat is very hard to do. The torso of rangy people is more inclined, which make it more difficult to hold the barbell which may fall forward during the execution of the movement.

Spread the legs to less incline the torso

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

There is a squat’s technique to limit the torso’s inclination. This involves spreading the legs with the feet outward. Some powerlifters do this technique with the legs almost wide apart. With the legs apart, this limits the legs flexion.

To be able to squat with the legs apart, it’s necessary to have an adequate bone conformation of the hip joint and to be flexible of the thighs adductor muscle. Which means, it’s a technique that can’t be used by everyone.

The advantage of the big belly

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

Having a big belly for squat and deadlift allow to compress it against the thighs. This helps to limit the inclination of the torso and the back’s rounding. This has the effect of protecting the lower back and limiting the risk of herniated disc.

It’s for this reason that we can see a lot of heavyweight champion of powerlifting or weightlifting with a big belly. They take care to keep their belly fat with an excessively rich diet.

Different forms of knees

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

In bodybuilding, it’s important to take into account the different morphologies of the individual and especially for the knees.

Arched legs (genu varum) are not more risky than normal legs. For people with X legs (genu varum) or people who can overly extend the thighs (genu recurvatum), it’s often recommanded to not do leg exercises with very heavy weights.

Cases of genu valgum are often :

  • In people who were overweight during their youth when leg bones weren’t fully developed and still « malleable ». Legs are deformed because of the overload. Now, they have this X shape.

  • In women. The fact that women have wider hips to have children, this influences the femurs direction which are generally more inclined.

For people with genu valgum. If the genu valgum is to excessive, the joint would be overused. The medial collateral ligament would be extremely tense. The lateral meniscus, the articular surfaces coated with cartilage of the external condyle of the femur, and the external lateral tuberosity of the tibia would be subjected to excessive friction, which would cause pathologies of wear.

For people with genu recurvatum. These are people who are essentially very flexible named hyperlaxes or women whose muscular and ligamentous hyperlaxity is related to reproductive function.

Rarely pathological, knees with genu recurvatum can sometimes have some problems like the meniscus pinching. This can happen when the knees are rapidly expanding and the meniscus haven’t had enough time to slip, or during an exercise with a heavy weight that has forced the hyperextension of the thigh.

It’s for this reason that it’s recommended to people suffering from a genu recuvatum pathological never to totally block the knees at the end of extension to the squat or to the leg press.

Note

For 2 people who are the same size, it’s important to consider the torso-leg ratio.

anatomy body squat morphology knee big belly

Type A :

People with proportionally long legs and a short torso will have trouble doing a proper squat without tilting their torso excessively forward.

On the other hand, the short torso (which limits the cantilever) facilitates the execution of the good-morning, classic deadlift and Romanian deadlift.

Type B :

People with proportionally short legs and a long torso will have the facility to squat safety without tilting their torso excessively forward. It’s for this reason that the great champions of powerlifting squat specialist have this type of morphology.

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

-Steph

How To Do Front Squat

front squat

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

Standing with your feet apart at about the shoulder’s width. You take the barbell with a pronated grip and you put the barbell on your upper chest and your anterior deltoid :

  • Inhale deeply to maintain intrathoracic pressure that prevents your torso from sagging forward. Arch slightly your back. Squeeze your abs and bends your thighs to bring them to the horizontal.

  • Return to the starting position and exhale at the end of the movement.

To prevent the barbell from slipping forward, pull out your chest and raise your elbows as high as possible.

As the barbell placed anteriorly, your chest will not bend forward and your back will always be straight. You have the possibility to put a wedge under your heels to ease the movement of execution.

Front squat is an exercise to do with weights less heavy than the classic squat.

This exercise works the quadriceps, glutes, hamstrings, abs and erector spinae.

Front squat is an exercise used in weightlifting training because the movement corresponds perfectly to the work performed by thighs during snatch and clean and jerk.

front squat

With a specific machine, you can do the same work on quadriceps as the front squat by wedging your legs and bending your thighs.

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

-Steph

How To Do Squat

squat

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

Squat is the #1 exercise for bodybuilding because it works a lot of the muscular system and is great for the cardiovascular system. Squat allows to have a good thoracic expansion and a good respiratory capacity.

  • Standing in front of the barbell resting on the support. Put yourself under the barbell and place the barbell on your trapezius a little higher that the posterior deltoids. Take the barbell with a pronated grip. The spread of the hands is variable according to the morphology. Pull your elbows backwards.

  • Inhale deeply (to maintain an intrathoracic pressure that will prevent your torso from sagging forward). Arch you back slightly, squeeze your abs, look forward and take off the barbell.

  • Back 1 or 2 steps. Stop with your feet parallel (or slightly outward). Your feet are about your shoulders width. Squat down by tilting your back forward (the flexion axis passing through the hip joint). Control the descent without rounding your back to avoid injury.

  • When your femurs arrive horizontally, do an extension of your legs by straightening your torso to return to the starting position. Exhale at the end of the movement.

Squat works mainly quadriceps, glutes, adducteurs, erector spinae, abs and hamstring.

Note

Squat is one of the best moves to develop the gluteal curve.

2 ways to place the barbell

squat barbell posiiton

  1. On trapezius

  1. On deltoids and trapezius like powerlifters

Variants

  1. People with stiff ankles or long femurs can place a wedge under the heels to avoid too much torso inclinaison. This allows to postpone a part of the effort on quadriceps.

  2. The barbell’s position may be on the back (on the posterior deltoids). This reduce the cantilever by increasing the lifting power of the back which allows to take heavier weights. This is a technique used by powerlifters.

  3. It’s possible to do squat with the Smith machine, which makes it possible to avoid the torso inclinaison and to locate the effort on quadriceps.

How to place the feet

The feet position is important during the execution of the classic squat (feet apart at about the shoulders width). Feet should be in parallel or slightly outward. What is most important is to respect the person’s morphology and to place the feet in the physiological axis of the knees. For example, if you walk with your feet out, squat with your feet out.

Different torso’s inclinaison according to the morphologies

squat morpology

  1. Short legs, long torso : slightly inclined torso, weak cantilever

  1. Long legs, short torso : very inclined torso, important cantilever

Good position

squat good position

During the squat, the back should be as straight as possible throughout the movement. According of the morphologies (long/short legs, stiff/flexible ankles) and the different execution’s technique (feet’s position, use of compensated sole, barbell in up/down position), the torso could be very inclined or slightly inclined because flexion is done at the hip joint.

Bad position

squat bad position

It’s necessary not to round the back while performing the squat because this can create injuries in the lumbar region and spinal disc herniation.

Note

To really feel the work of the glutes, it’s necessary to have the thighs horizontally.

1-2-3 : negatives phase

4: full squat

squat full

 

It’s possible to have thighs lower than horizontal to better feel the glutes work but this technique can be done only by people who have short femurs or flexible ankles. It’s necessary to be very careful with the full squat because it is really easy to round the back.

Attention

For all exercises done with very heavy weight, it’s necessary to perform a « blocking » :

  1. Take a deep breath and block the breathing to fill the lungs like a balloon. This stiffens the ribcage and prevents the top of the torso form tilting forward.

  2. Squeeze abs stiffens the belly, This increases the intra-abdominal pressure and prevents the torse form sagging forward.

  3. By slightly arching the lower back with lumbar squeeze, this allows to have the spine’s bottom in extension.

These 3 simultaneous actions is what we call « blocking ». This « blocking » has the function of avoiding the rounding or bending of the spine because with very heavy weights, it can create disc herniations .

 

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

-Steph

Deltoid And Trapezius And Neck Stretching

deltoid trapezius neck stretching

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

Standing with legs slightly apart. Your back straight with an arm your the back, Take your wrist with the other hand and pull slowly outwards and downwards to fell the stretch of the deltoid (rear and middle) and trapezius.

Variant

To stretch the neck does the same movement by slowly tilting your head on the opposite side of the shoulder stretched.

This variant allows you to stretch the deep and complex muscles around cervical vertebrae and scalene muscles and sternocleidomastoid muscle.

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

-Steph

Squat Correctly (Part 2)

sqaut

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

Click here to read the Part 1 

Barbell Squat

I know 3 types of squat and this is the best known : the high bar back (also named « Olympic Squat » or « Oly Squat »), the low bar back squat and the front squat. Maybe there are others but I’ll talk about the best known.

The difference is how you place the barbell.

Depending on how you place the barbell on your body, this will modify the squat’s mechanism and geometry. Which means that you will use your muscles slightly differently depending on how you place the barbell.

  • The Low Bar Back is a posterior chain dominant squat

    posterior chain muscle

  • The High Bar Back and Front Squat are a quad dominant squat.

Here a diagram form the book « Starting Strength » to better visualize the barbell’s placement.

diagram barbell placement squat strating strenght

Don’t worry, these 3 squat’s type work the same basic muscles. As you know each exercise has its variants. Now, you know the 3 variants of squat.

Go, find in your gym a squat rack,  a power cage or a squat stand  and place the barbell at the height of your clavicle. If you can’t do this and the height is too low or too high, choose the too low. I have never seen anyone lift on toe and with heavyweight, the accident is guaranteed.

power rack squat rack squat stands

As you read in my articles « Know how much weight to lift (Part 1 et Part 2) » [url link], it’s important to do a warm up with the barbell without weight. I don’t want to know how much you want to lift, do some sets with the barbell without weight to prepare your muscles and joints.

Low bar back squat

It’s the most popular squat’s type for beginners, general lifters and powerlifters. It’s also the squat’s type taught in the book « Starting Strength », one of the best book for beginners.

Once you have adjusted the barbell’s height, be in front of the barbell. Take a step to be under the barbell and grab it with your hands. For this squat’s type, you’ll use a thumbless grip so that your wrists aligned with your forearms.

Usually the grip’s width is near of the shoulders to create a meaty shelf to place the barbell on the muscles in our upper back (deltoid posterior). If you aren’t comfortable, you can have a wider grip. And with time, when you have more flexibility, you can have a grip near of your shoulders.

Here is the difference between a « wrapped grip » (left) and « thumbless grip » (right) : 

barbell wrapped grip thumbless grip

Once the barbell is on your back, stand up, contract your core (squeeze butt and abs) and step back. Normally, if you followed instructions well, you can only step backward. If you can take a step forward, you’re in the wrong direction.

This squat’s type is a posterior chain dominant squat and you’ll be able to lift heavier that the 2 others squat’s type.

High bar back squat

For this type of squat, you’ll start the same way but you’ll put your thumble around the barbell. This isn’t a thumbless grip.

The grip’s width is near of the shoulders to create a meaty shelf to place the barbell on the muscles in our upper back (deltoid posterior) like for the low bar back squat.

If you lack of flexibility to have a narrow grip, you can place the barbell 5cm (2inches) higher on your trapezius instead on your posterior deltoid. Which means that the barbell is placed almost on your shoulders.

Look the difference between a high bar back squat (left) and a low bar back squat (right) :

high bar back squat low bar back squat

Attention : the barbell placed almost on your shoulders and not on your spine. If you feel the barbell touching your spine, it’s too high and this can cause serious damage.

Place the barbell on your back and take a step back. Stabilize and tighten your core and squat down.

To do this squat version well, you need to keep your torso more upright. If you had difficulties to keep your torso upright with the bodyweight squat, it will be a little be more difficult here.

You can try, there is no problem but lift lightweight until you do it well to correct yourself. It would be a pity if your torso collapses and the barbell rolls on your neck (avoid this pain, really).

Front squat

For this squat’s type, you need to place the barbell in front of your shoulders. This squat’s type is quad dominant so you have to be able to keep your torso even higher than the high bar back squat.

Instead of stepping under the barbell, you place the barbell in font of you on your shoulder. To grip the barbell, it’s a little bit more complicated because you need to have mobility and flexibility in your wrists.

Front squat is done with a full grip around the barbell like the other 2 squat types but most people let the barbell roll on their fingertips (a three finger grip is enough). If you like’re me, you don’t manage to have 3 finders around the barbell, there are 2 variants :

Keep your hands to hold the barbell (if not the 3 fingertips is enough) and keep your shoulders high so that your upper arms are parallel to the floor. And squat down.

It’s important that you keep your shoulder as high as possible during the front squat. When you’re gonna squat down, you’re gonna feel the weight on your arms and it will probably correct your position, drop the weight otherwise you will hurt yourself.

What squat do ?

This is an excellent question. You’ll meet 2 clans that clash in the gyms : high bar back squat VS low bar back squat. Both clans have good arguments but that doesn’t help you make a choice.

The truth, test the 3 types and look with which you feel most comfortable, which you have the best technique and with which you can squat down the lowest (your hips joints lower than your knees). Once you have well studied and tested the 3 types of squat, you’ll find your type of squat.

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

-Steph