Gym Ladder Sit-Ups

gym ladder sit ups

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

Hook you feet in the gym ladder with your thighs vertically. Your back to the floor and your hands behind your head :

  • Inhale and raise your torso as high as possible by rounding your spine.

  • Exhale at the end of the movement.

This exercise mainly works rectus abdominis and a little bit internal and external obliques.

rectus abdominis

abs muscles anatomy

It’s good to know that farther is your torso from the gym ladder and hook your feet lower, this increases the mobility of the pelvis. This allows a greater range of motion and works more flexors muscles of the hips (iliopsoas, rectus femoris and tensor fasciae latae).

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-Steph

Sit-Ups

sit ups

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

Lying on your back with your knees bent. Your feet are on the floor and your hands are behind your head :

  • Inhale and lift your torso rounding your back.

  • Exhale at the end of the movement

  • Back to the starting position but your back shouldn’t touch the floor.

  • Do it again until the burning sensation in your stomack.

This exercise mainly works rectus abdominis and a little bit hip flexors and obliques.

Variants

sit ups

sit ups inclined board

  • To make it easier, you can do this exercise with your feet blocked by a partner

  • To make it easier, you can do this exercise with your arms extended forward

  • For more intensity, you can do this exercise with a inclined board

Note

Women generally have less developed bust and proportionately larger legs than men. It’s easier for them to do sit-ups and not take off the feet during the movement.

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-Steph

Good Position For Abs

Action on lumbar curvature of the psoas muscle

Psoas muscles have other functions than to be powerful flexors of hip. They put the lumbar spine in lordosis, which increases the arch.

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

Abs exercises (especially for rectus abdominis) must work with the round back (round your spine). It’s the opposite of other exercises.

For vertebral coil exercises, the mechanicals stresses on vertebral joints aren’t the same as for exercises such as squat, deadlift and other exercises with weight. For example, for squat, the spine isn’t arched at the lumbar level. The vertical pressure with the spine’s rounding pushes the nucleus pulposus intervertebral disc backwards, which can compress nerve elements and create sciatic herniated disc.

For abs exercises, it’s the opposite. If during the abs execution you forget to round your back with an intense contraction of abs and obliques, the powerful flexors of hips (psoas major) will increase the lumbar arch. This will move the intervertebral discs forward as they aren’t stabilized by the vertical pressure. Then an excess of pressure at the back of the lumbar vertebral joints can create lumbago or more serious, joints damage by compression and shear.

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-Steph

Calf Stretching

calf stretching

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

Standing with your hands on your hips. One leg forward with your knees stretched and your feet in the knee axis :

  • Flex the knee of the front leg while advancing your pelvis. Be careful to keep your back leg straight and keep your heels on the floor.

  • Keep this position to feel the stretch of the back leg.

This exercise mainly stretches triceps surae (composed of 2 gastrocnemius and soleus), flexor muscles of the toes and tibialis posterior. This exercise stretches a little bit long and short fibular.

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

-Steph

Standing Calf Raises

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

Stand with the front of your feet on a step. Put your hand on a wall or a support to have more stability :

  • Slowly flex your feet to stretch your calves.

  • Extend your feet with your knees extended or slightly bent.

It’s a movement to be done slowly and with high reps until the burning sensation.

This exercise has an action of stretching and muscle contraction. It’s for this reason that this exercice can be used as a warm up before a calf exercise with heavyweights, to avoid injuries, or at the end of the session to feel the pump.

This exercise works triceps surae composed of 2 gastrocnemus and soleus and also flexor hallucis longus, tibialis posterior and flexor digitorum longus.

Note

This movement is excellent for stretching the muscles of the plantar surface of the feet like flexor digitorum brevis and quadratus plantae and soften plantar faschiitis.

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

-Steph

Squat Correctly (Part 3)

squat

Classical errors

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

Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2 

Squat is a movement that we make since baby, it’s a basic movement. But when I started to do squat with weight, I make mistakes and I’m going to talk about the classical mistakes we make when we’re newbies.

Put all the weight on your toes

You need to have your heels glued to the floor throughout squat. This is important for spreading your bodyweight and weights on the barbell.

You also distribute part of the weight on the balls of your feet but it’s not the total weight. You should be able to move your toes in all directions during the squat.

The total weight (your bodyweight + weight on the barbell) is divided between the ball of your fee and your heels.

Don’t squat down too low

Your squat should go down at least until your hips joint are below your knee (parallel).

Maybe you have a special training that asks you to make a lower squat, it’s up to you to see. But making a parallel squat is enough to work your muscles well.

When you do a partial squat , so you have a squat above the parallel, you’ll work more your quadriceps than your hamstrings, in addition you put a lot of stress on your knees. The more you squat down, the less pressure you put on your knee.

Very, very often, people make a connection between squat and knee problems. Unfortunately, it’s a negative myth, a lie that makes people afraid of squat. For exemple, a gym member saw me with my knee wrap and said : « Be careful when you squat, you’re going to hurt yourself ! ». But does he know that my knee wrap increase my squat’s performance by 5-10 % ? I don’t think so. Here are some interesting articles here  and there .

The more you squat down, the more you work your glutes. But when we squat down, we have to go back up. And more we go down and more it’s harder to go up (strength and flexibility). The squat in parallel (your hips joints below your knee), it’s enough.

If you have trouble to squat down at the parallel, it could have several causes : little mobility to your ankles, to your hip flexor or your hamstrings ; weak glutes ; poor pelvic alignment (among many other things).

Knee position

squat knee position

To do a good squat, you must have your knees aligned with your toes. As the body of every human being is unique, the position is slightly different from one person to another but your knees shouldn’t be too much outside or too much inside. Your knees are more or less in the center.

Back position

squat back position

During the whole squat, you need to have your torso up and your shoulders back. This position allows you to have your spine in a « neutral » position. This avoids having your back in hyper extend and not having your shoulders rounded forward.

Head position

squat head position

There are people (even personal trainers) who will tell you to look up or down. Let’s test it right away with an anatomical version.

When you look at the ceiling, your cervical spine is in an unsecured position and when you add weight, it becomes dangerous. Look at the ground is not better.

You need to have your head in a « neutral » position. To be able to do this, look straight in front of you. Focus on a point in front of you so that you’re able to hold a tennis ball between your chin and your torso.

Too much weight on heels and inside/outside of the feet

Often, when we’re beginners, we are so focused on putting the weight on the heels and having a good position with the knees we forget to keep the ball on the floor. You need to divide some of the total weight on the ball of the feet because it’s very difficult to keep the balance when all the weight is on your heels.

It’s the same for the inside or outside of your feet. As you put the total weight on your heels, you try to keep balance with the inside and outside of your feet. Keep the ball of your feet on the floor to distribute part of the total weight and it will be easier to keep the balance.

Complex

complex

Don’t worry, I also had difficulties to do a squat with a good technique. I’ll explain to you something I used to learn the technique. Using a box or a bench is also useful for people who have knee problems and can no longer do bodyweight squat.

Using a box/bench is great for learning to squat down by distributing well the total weight between the ball of your feet and your heels rather than on your knees and toes.

Find a box/bench that allows you to be in parallel with your squat when you’re sitting on it.

The lower the box/bench is, the more it will help you to have stronger hips. If the box/bench is exactly parallel, it will help you to have stronger quadriceps. If you’re a squat beginner, don’t worry, a box/ bench at the right height for you to be in parallel or a little below when you squat down is perfect.

Let’s go to do bodyweigth squat. Put the box/bench behind you and do one step forward.

Inspire, throw your butt back, keeping your knees aligned with your toes and squat down until your sit completely on the box/bench. Keep your body contracted and control movement.

When you seated, don’t move and study your position. Is your back and core contracted ? Is the total weight distributed between the ball of your feet and heels ? Is your head in a neutral position ? Once you answered these questions, you can get up by using you hips up. Don’t shift the weight forwards on your toes to help you get up. Use your heels, keep your shoulders back with your chest up and keep your knees aligned with your toes.

After some sets, you’ll understand how to better use your body and you’ll be able to make the movement in a fluid way.

You’ll know when you’re doing a good squat. This is when you’re in the low position of squat and when you get up, you don’t swing forward but you put the weight on your heels.

Long life to squat

Squat is cool

Ok, the majority of people say that squat is bad for knees but the truth is that it’s the safest movement and one of the best to improve your knees health (when the squat is done with a good technique). This help to strengthen your knees, improve your stability and reduce the risk of injury. This is valid for people over 60 years old.

If you already have a knee problem or have pain with squat and think your do squat with a good technique, you need to see a doctor or a physical therapist to check your knees.

What are your difficulties when you try squat ?

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

-Steph

How To Do T-Bar Rows

t bar rows

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

Podcast:

Lying on the belly on the inclined bench and take the handles with a pronated grip :

  • Inhale and brings the bar to your chest

  • Exhale at the end of movement

This exercise is similar to the barbell bent rows but it allows a better work of the back muscles because there is less need to focus on the body’s positioning.

This exercise works latissimus dorsi, teres major, posterior deltoid, arm’s flexor (biceps, brachialis, and brachioradialis), rhomboids and trapezius.

The machines with a belly support allow to focus less on the positioning, abs and spinal erectors don’t work. When there are very heavy weights, the rib cage can be compressed on the ventral support and this hinders breathing. When it’s difficult to breathe, doing the exercise is unpleasant.

Note

With a supinated grip, this exercise especially works the brachialis and the upper part of the trapezius at the end to the pull.

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

-Steph