Stretching For Squat

stretching squat

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

Here is a stretching exercice often done by the powerlifters to avoid having muscle tears during the squat. It’s a stretching exercise to do during the warm-up session and between the first sets.

This stretching exercise involves crouching slowly while hanging on a stable support such as a pole or the frame of a machine to flex your thighs.

This movement corresponds to squat flexion and this allows you to stretch adductors, mainly adductor magnus. The adductors magnus is the muscle the most frequently injured due to the excessive tilt of the torso with heavy weight.

This exercice stretches quadriceps (except rectus femoris), gluteus maximus and the set of small, deep, external rotator muscles of the hip that stabilize and slow down the anterior tilt of the pelvis during crouching.

Note

To better feel the stretch of the leg you can move the weight of your body on the right leg and then on the left leg.

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-Steph

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Deadlift Correctly (Part 3)

deadlift

If you didn’t read the first parts, click Part 1 and Part 2 

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

Grip the barbell

deadlift grip

The strength of the grip is an important part of the deadlift. There are 2 types of grip:

  • Overhand grip => The palms of your hands are towards your body (pronated grip).

  • Over-under ou mixed grip => One palm of your hand is toward your body and the other towards the outside (one hand with a pronated grip and the other with a supinated grip).

  • Hook grip => Your thumb is under your fingers

For beginners, the double overhand grip is the best to have a safe grip.

Use the mixed grip when you have more experience and you lift heavy because there are disadvantages. Stress on the shoulders is uneven and can create problems or injuries in the biceps whose palm is outside. As the stress on the shoulders is uneven, it’s easier to lift heavy weights.

When you begin deadlift, your grip’s strength is powerful enough to lift the barbell because your back’s strength is correct. The day of your back’s strength is more powerful than your grip’s strength (your hands slips slowly), that’s when you need to think about improving your grip.

If you don’t like the mixed grip, you can use the hook grip.

Wrist straps

Straps can help you lift heavier because your grip is assisted by a strap that is wrapped to the barbell and is hooked to your wrist.

I advise you to use wrist straps only when you lift very very heavy. This is not a thing to use all the time otherwise you’ll lose the natural strength of your grip.

Gloves

The truth is that the gloves don’t improve the grip. Gloves create a space between your hands and the barbell, this increases the diameter of the barbell and make the barbell harder to hold. Gloves prevent you from having a secure grip, I advise you to use them only if you have ripped callus to your hands.

With this video , you’ll learn to take care of your hands to avoid having this type of injury.

Belt

Many people in gyms use the belt in the wrong way, but you’re a smart one. The belt is useful only when you’re lifting very heavy weights and it’s not only for your lumbar. With this article , you’ll learn how to use the belt in an effective way.

Note

Use a mixed grip and a belt isn’t necessary to lift very heavy. Watch this video of Anthony Mychan  who do a deadlift at 249.47kg (550lbs) at a Nerd Fitness Camp with a double overhand with no belt.

Common mistakes

common mistakes

Rounded back

Having the back rounded throughout the movement may cause injuries. It’s necessary to have your spine in a neutral position.

Note => there are some powerlifters that purposefully round theirs upper back to decrease the range of motion, but this is a sport specific move, still a fault, and something you should not consider as a beginner.

Head raised and look up

To have a raised head create a hyperextension to your neck. This can cause injuries. Keep your head in a neutral position like your spine.

Hyperextending at the top

In fitness competitions, exaggerate the top of the deadlift has become popular for quickly show the judges that hip and knees locking is done.

Use the squat position

Deadlift is not squat. Deadlift doesn’t have the same start and end position as the squat. Deadlift is a different movement than squat.

Barbell makes a forward movement

It’s necessary that the barbell stays above your shoe’s laces and the barbell needs to be lifted vertically all along your body.

Barbell’s movements towards the front are to be avoided.

Your torso rises after your butt

We call it the « stripper deadlift ».

It’s important that your torso guides the movement and that your body moves in the same rhythm upwards.

Bend your arms

Often people bend their arms to lift the barbell more quickly. Unfortunately, this is a bad tactic because this can tear biceps muscle. Keep your arms straight during the movement.

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-Steph

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Deadlift Correctly (Part 1)

deadlift

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

I see there are many people who are avoiding deadlift because they are afraid of getting hurt. It’s funny, it’s like squat.

Doing deadlift with good a technique is excellent for health, it allow your to have stronger joints and a stronger posterior chain.

All exercises can be dangerous when they don’t do with the proper technique, which is why it’s important to seriously study each exercise.

Why

why

In workout programs, you can find the deadlift in the day of legs of back. This can be disturbing but the truth is the deadlift is a polyarticular exercise.

The deadlift (polyarticular exercise) works several different muscle’s group :

  • Your hands, your forearms, your arms to keep the barbell in the right position and the barbell is stable during the movement.

  • Your shoulder and trapezius help to hold the weight and keep it stable.

  • Your back and core help to keep your body tight and stable so that your spine is safe.

  • Your posterior chain  and your legs act as lever to lift the weight.

What is interesting is that deadlift is a basic human movement like the squat. It’s a « functional » movement that we do every day to take an object on the ground. Lifting a chair or taking a bag on the floor is deadlift.

Training yourself to do deadlift with a good technique at the gym, will allow you to do these daily tasks by decreasing the risk of injury. I imagine you’ve seen a person hurt his/her back by lifting something off the floor. It happened because the technique was bad.

Let things be clear, everyone needs to do deadlift. Look at that grandmother 

grandmother deadlift

Also, deadlift is the purest way to measure the strength. You lift or you can’t. Sometimes with gym’s members, we do a deadlift party, it’s fun.

Choose

Attention : if you have spinal injuries, go see your doctor before starting

The origin of the word « deadlift » is : you lift dead weight (motionless) of the ground.

In short, you take a barbel with weight and you get up with the barbell in your hands until your shoulders, hips and knees locked. Your arms should be straight during the whole movement and when you’re standing, the barbell is at the level of your hips.

Here are the different type of deadlift most common :

Conventional Deadlift

conventional deadlift

Your hands are at your hips width, outside of your feet.

Sumo Deadlift

sumo deadlift

You have a wide position with your hands inside of your feet.

Hex or Trap Bar Bar Deadlift

hex trap bar bar deadlift

You need to use a special bar. In this way, you make the movement with another biomechanics.

Snatch Grip Deadlift

snatch grip deadlift

You use a wide grip like to do a Snatch.

Straight Leg Deadlift, Stiff Legged Deadlift, Romanian Deadlift

Many people are troubled by these variants. Here is an excellent article by Bret Contreras to see it in detail. Click here .

Deficit Deadlift, Rack Pulls

deficit deadlift rack pulls deadlift

These accessory movements allow you to increase or decrease the range of motion.

Dumbbell Deadlift Variations

dumbbell deadlift

You can do this when you don’t have access to a barbell and weights or as accessory movement.

In this article, I refer mainly to conventional deadlift.

Now, let’s talk about equipment :

Flat shoes

Converse Chuck Taylor Classic  are good (this is what I use). There’s also Vibrams, you can do in socks or with Powerliters shoes.

Chalk

chalk

This is optional but it can help you to not let your hands slip when you lift very heavy weights.

Deadlift can be taught in 1-2 sentences but there are complexities at different steps of the movement that you should know to avoid injury. I will develop this in the next parts.

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

-Steph

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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 .

 

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-Steph

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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 Deadlift

deadlift anatomy

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

Podcast:

Standing in front of the barbell that is on the floor with your legs slightly apart. Your back is motionless and slightly arched :

  • Bend your legs so that your thighs are about horizontal. This position may be slightly different depending on the morphology and the flexibility of your ankles. For example, a person who has short arms and short femurs will have the thighs to the horizontal. A person who has long arms and long femurs will have the thighs a little higher than the horizontal.

  • Take the barbell with your arms outstretched and with a pronated grip. Your hands are spread to a little bit more than your shoulder’s width. You can also have a hand with a pronated grip and the other with a supinated grip to prevent the barbell from rolling and lifting extremely heavy weights.

  • Inhale, block your breath and squeeze your abs and your lumbar region. Lift the barbell by straightening your legs and lift the barbell in front of your shins.

  • When the barbell comes to your knees level, you straighten your torso completely to finish your legs extended. Exhale at the end of the effort.

  • Keep your body’s extension (all your body is straight) for 2 seconds. Then go down with the barbell while you squeezing your abs and lumbar region to control the movement.

deadlift anatomy

It’s very important not to round your back during the movement to avoid injury.

deadlift anatomy

This exercise works all the body’s muscles, especially the glutes and quadriceps. This exercise builds solid hip, lower back, and trapezius.

deadlift anatomy

Deadlift is part of the exercises carried out during powerlifting’s competitions with squat and bench press.

Note

When you’re doing an exercise with a very heavy weight, it’s important that you do a « blocking » :

  1. You fill your lungs like a balloon by taking a deep breath and blocking your breathing. This allows you to avoid your torso leaning forward and this stiffens your rib cage.

  2. You squeeze your abs to stiffen your stomach and increase your intra-abdominal pressure. This prevents your torso from sagging forward.

  3. You arch your lower back with a squeeze of your lumbar muscles and extend the bottom of the spine.

« Blocking » is these 3 actions. When you do these 3 actions simultaneously, this allows you to avoid rounding your back. Lift heavy weights with a rounded back cause the famous injury called slipped disk.

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-Steph

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Shoulder Injury (Part 1)

shoulder

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

Shoulders injuries are frequent in bodybuilding because we want develop all deltoid muscles. To do this, we must perform a signigicant number of repetition and movements thus multiplying the risk of injury.

It’s worth remembering that, in comparison with the solid hip’s articulation where the femur head is deeply embedded in the pelvic cavity of the pelvis, shoulder’s articulation, which must be very mobile to allow arms to move in all direction, is very little embedded.

Shoulders can thus be defined as a joint to muscular fixation, the maintenance of the humerus head on the scapula’s glenoid cavity is mainly ensured by a complex musculo-tendinous ensemble.

Although in bodybuilding most injuries occur during shoulders training, it’s rare to see this muscle directly injured. The wound are generally much deeper and appear most often during a false movement or after a long wear by friction of tendon structure reinforcing the articular capsule.

While in other sports of violent contact (such American football) or rapid arms movements (such as throwers) can result in serious injuries with dislocations and enven tendon pull. The main lesion observed is what we call subacromial bursitis.

Some people when performing elevated arm movements, such as back press or lateral raise, the supra-spinous tendon is rubbed and compressed between humerus head and osteoligamentous vault formed by the underside of the aromion and the coracoacromial ligament.

Consequence

shoulder anatomy

The result is an inflammation which generally begins with the synovial bursa, which normally protects the supra-spinous tendon from excessive friction. And it continue by the supra-spinous tendon itself and ends, if this inflammation isn’t treaed, by touching the adjacent tendons of the infraspinatus at the back and the long portion of the biceps at the front.

Arms elevation becomes extremely painful and there may be an irreversible deterioration of the supraspinatus tendon with calcification and sometimes even rutpure. The latter being observed in general only with people over 40 year old.

The space between the humerus and osteoligamentous vault can vary from one individual to another. Some athletes will not be able to lifte their arms laterally without generating excessive friction. These individuals must therefore avoid all back press, lateral raise to high and also when they train back, pulldown behind the neck.

All exercices with barbell for shoulders should be done in front of, with elbows slightly forward. With dumbbells lateral raise, the correct working angle should be sought, the right movement being the one that is realized painless.

It’s interesting to note that for the same shoulder injury all individuals don’t respond in the same way. Some people can perform all sort of arms raise, compressing and sometimes even deteriorating their tendons without ever triggering a painful inflammatory process. Thus, in the course of an examination, some people have discovered a rupture of the supra-spinous muscle’s tendon without ever having complained of any pain.

Another cause of shoulder pain may be due to an imbalance in the distribution of muscle tension around the joint capsule. Recall that the humerus head is firmly held against the scapula’s glenoid cavity by a muscular system with tendons adhering or passing through the articular capsule. This set is composed at the front by the subscapular, a little more on the outside by the long portion of the biceps, above by the supra-spinous and finally at the back by the infraspinatus and the teres major muscle. Spasm, hypertonicity or, on the contrary, a lack of tonicity of one or more of these muscles, can lead to a bad position of the shoulder joint. This bad position will be the cause, during the movements of the arm, of friction likely to generate inflammatory pathologies.

Exemple : A contracture or a spasm of the teres major muscle and infraspinatus will cause an external rotation of the humerus head which will generate during the movements of the arm, friction in the front of the shoulder joint. And with the time can injure the tendon of the long portion of the brachial biceps.

It will therefore be necessary to ensure to train in a balanced way all the muscles of the shoulder avoiding all the exercices where one will feel a discomfort, a pain or a friction.

Note : Hand massage or better with a vibrator, as well as electostimulation, give very good results to diminish and eliminate spasms and contractures of teres major muscle and infraspinatus.

-Steph

P.S. Do you want a free workout programs ? Click here 

Free smartphone apps:

To track my calories, I use MyFitnessPal

To track my workout program, I use Jefit 

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