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.

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

-Steph

Spinal Disc Herniation

disc herniation

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

First we can say : « disc herniation » or « herniated disc » but I prefer use « disc herniation » in my article.

Disc herniation is a common pathology in bodybuilding. This often occurs because of poor back placement during exercises such as squat, deadlift and rows (barbell bent row, seated row, etc).

During the execution of theses exercises, the main defect observed is the rounding of the back or a flexion of the spine. Because of that discs are pinched forward and loosened backward.

disc herniation

If an intervertebral disc cracked or aged, the gelatinous fluid of the nucleus pulposus moves backwards and can compress the spinal cord or roots of the spinal nerves. The symptoms of a disc herniation depends on the nature of the lesion, the amount of nucleus displaced and the surface that nucleus compresses.

The disc may have a bump or even worse, the nucleus may explode through the surrounding annulus fibrosus. It’s also possible that the posterior ligament that joins the vertebrae to each other is broken. The compressions caused by the rupture of the annulus fibrosus are always painful and incapacitating.

In bodybuilding, disc herniation are mainly at the lumbar level. Often between the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebrae or between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae. The pain is dull and deep and sometimes with numbness and tingling. Often the pain is in the middle of the back or on one side. The pain extends onto the glutes, pelvis and pubis. Sometimes pain can be felt throughout the leg following the path of the sciatic nerve because the sciatic nerve is compressed at the root (hence the name of sciatic to define this type of pain).

disc herniation sciatic nerve

Usually disc herniation resolve spontaneously and the pain gradually disappears. But in some cases the bump on a vertebral disc doesn’t disappear and can continue to painfully pres on the nerves or it’s a loose piece of intervertebral cartilage that compresses the nervous elements.

In these 2 cases, the doctor will think of doing a surgical operation to remove the part that compresses the nerves.

To avoid having a disc herniation, it’s essential to do squat, deadlift, « good morning » and rows (rows, barbell bent row, seated row) with excellent positioning technique.

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 torso from 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 .

Note

After a training session with very heavy weights, it’s advisable to do stretching for the spine. There is an excellent exercise to relax the back muscles and rebalance the pressure inside the intervertebral discs. Click here .

Bad position

disc herniation bad positon squat deadlift

For exercises such as deadlift or squat, it’s important not to round your back to avoid lower back injuries.

Disc herniation

disc herniation

Flexion of the spine with heavy weights can create disc herniations at the level of the lumbar vertebrae.

These disc herniations are common at squat and deadlift. This is caused by a bad back position during exercise. That’s why it’s important to work the technique for these exercises.

Disc herniation according to the age

disc herniation intervertebral

From the age of 30 years old, intervertebral discs degenerate and don’t worry, it’s normal, The annulus can crack and the nucleus pulposus dries progressively.

Vertebral discs of people over 30 years old are more rigid, less elastic and the mobility of the spine is more limited. But as the viscous gel of the nucleus pulposus deacreases due to drying, the risk of the vertebral discs moving and compressing the nerves diminished.

Vertebral discs of people under 30 years old are more flexible, more elastic and there is more mobility with the spine. There is a greater amount of viscous gel in the nucleus pulposus which increases the risk that vertebral discs will move and compress the nerves. Disc herniation is very common among young athletes.

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

-Steph

The Reasons For An Asymmetric Body (Part 2)

asymmetical body

I watched a Jamcore DZ’s video  and I learned good stuff.

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

When it’s a real weak point, the only thing you can do is to be persistent and patient. For this, it’s important that you learn to isolate and feel the muscle’s sensation.

Learning to isolate muscle involves 2 things :

brain muscle connection

  1. Intermuscular competition. Sincerely, 95 % of people do exercises don’t isolate and don’t feel their muscles. It’s not their fault, there are people who learn it intuitively. When you learn to use it with the « magic touch » technique, you’ll evolve much better and discover the real bodybuilding (the fake bodybuilding is to have the biggest muscles in the world).

    Intermuscular competition is to work a muscle but in fact, it’s the dominant muscle that works more than the muscle targeted by the exercise. For example, bench press targets chest but it’s shoulders and arms that work more than chest. Biceps curls target biceps but it’s forearms work more than biceps. Squat target quadriceps/hamstrings but it’s glutes work more than quadriceps/hamstrings. Intermuscular competition is the inability to isolate and work (feel) the muscle you should be working on.

    2. Engine program. The engine program is to connect your brain to your muscle. When you do an exercise, you leave a piece of memory in your brain, a piece of memory in your muscle and a piece of memory in your nervous system (the nerves in your muscle). When these 3 pieces of memory connect, this is the engine program. This is the brain-muscle connection. But beware, when you do an exercise with a poor execution, you do this exercise in « intermuscular » mode and repeating this exercise with a poor execution, you’ll create and improve a defective engine program. If you do an exercise with a good execution, you will create and improve a correct engine program.

Solution

solution

  1. Be more aware of intermuscular competition. That means you learn to isolate and feel the muscle you want to work. You need to be patient because it’s a skill that comes with time. Changing work angles for an exercise allows you to feel your muscle differently.

  2. Learn to isolate your muscle to improve your engine program. As you know now, during an exercise you create a piece of memory in your brain, muscle and nervous system.

  3. Discovers muscle contraction. You need to use an middle weight to discover the muscle contraction. It’s impossible to discover this with a heavy weight because, in this situation, you’re only focused on doing as many reps as possible. With a middle weight, you can focus on feeling your muscle because it’s a weight you can manage

  4. Learn how to transfer sensations. When you feel that your muscle doesn’t really work, corrects the movement’s execution to have the sensation on the muscle you want to work.

Execution, execution, execution. You need to practice as much as possible to improve your brain-muscle connection. This is the best way to evolve but I warn you, you need to be patient because it takes time. This is not something you learn in 12 weeks.

It’s also important that you organize your training program intelligently in the week. For exemple, don’t work your biceps 2 days in the row because your biceps need to rest. Organize the training of your muscle groups so that it doesn’t interfere in the recovery. For example, one day you train your legs and the next day you run. In this situation, you don’t help your legs to recover.

All former professional bodybuilders (who talk about this) say that steroids don’s help as much as the media make believe. Steroids only help to recover. Watch this Rich Piana’s video.

Personally, I don’s like steroids and I don’t advise you to use this. That is my position and I will repeat it again.

Now, it’s your turn. Start to learn to feel your muscles to improve your body. And the most important, be patient because it take time.

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

-Steph

The Reasons For An Asymmetric Body (Part 1)

asymmetircal body

I watched a Jamcore DZ’s video  and I learned good stuff.

When I look in the mirror, I see that my right biceps is bigger than my left biceps. And I also see that my left calf is bigger than my right calf. I think you too, you have weak points and an asymmetrical body like me.

I tried several technique to clear the weak point of my left biceps by doing more reps or lifting heavier with my left arm. But it didn’t work as I thought and I realized that there were even more factors that caused my asymmetrical body.

You have to know that there are real weak points and false weak points. And yes, there are 2 type of weak points.

Past sports

sports

These are the sports that you have done regularly before you train seriously at the gym. For exemple, I played soccer for 2-3 years so I developed a lot of my legs and calves. I have been doing karate, kung-fu and taekwondo for years (I have more than 15 years of martial art) so I developed a lot my back, my arms, chest and my abs. My past sports allows me to develop all these muscles (calves, legs, back, arms, chest and abs) even more easily.

Now I’m going to tell you about the difference between a real weak points and a false weak points. In my case, I have nice abs, nice, chest. My arms are correct (I have one arm bigger that the other) and my legs are correct (I have one leg bigger than the other).

For example, a soccer player or a cyclist will use his/her legs and calves more often. A boxer will use his/her arms, back and abs more often. This shows that the past sports is important in muscle development because people developed more rapidly the upper body’s muscles rather the lower body muscles or the reverse.

So don’t worry because absolutely everyone has an asymmetric body (if you know a person who has a 100 % symmetrical body, attention, it’s a robot).

Genetic

genetic

It’s the moment to go to the higher level. Now, you understood that there are people who can easily develop the upper body’s muscles rather that the lower body’s muscles or the reverse. In both case, there is the same problem : an asymmetry.

We’re human beings, we are not perfect and that is normal. Professional bodybuilders also have an asymmetric body like you. It’s for everyone like that. When we look at the mirror, we have a more developed part than the other.

Here are the causes.

Bone

bone

Because of your bones, there is one side of you body that can lift easily heavier weights that the other. So the side muscles that can lift easily heavier develop faster.

A) clavicle length

We all have a longer clavicle than the other. Take you time, check the length of your clavicles, you will be surprised. When the clavicle is longer, this affects the leverage when you lift weights. This means that it boost your strength and your muscular growth.

But, there is a solution to avoid that there is a big difference between the 2 sides. It’s learning to isolate and feel your muscle. I use a technique called « magic touch ». Before doing a set, I touch with my fingers the muscle that I have to work. This allows me to be focus and stay focus on muscle sensations. This is to create the connection between my brain and my muscle.

This is why it’s important to take light weights to learn how to perform a movement to learn the muscles sensations. For example, bench press. There are people who use too much shoulders when the arms are straight. Bench press is an exercice to work mainly chest and not shoulders. So pay attention to your muscles sensation when you to an exercise and adjust.

B) Short and long muscles

This is really a genetic case. There are people with short muscles or long muscle. Take as an example a short biceps and a long biceps.

A short biceps responds slowly to training because the muscles is less close to insertion with the joint.

A long biceps respond quickly to the training because the muscle is closer to insertion with the joint.

As you can see, there are some similarities with the clavicle’s length. When the muscle is long, it’s easier to develop the muscle.

This is something you can’t change and doing an operation to lengthen your muscle is useless. It’s your genetics that decides whether your muscles are short or long.

dorian yates

Wait, it’s not over yet, there’s still plenty of other things in the genetics that influence muscle development. In your training, you can use several techniques to stimulate your muscle fibers like « High Intensity Training » . Dorian Yates (6x Mr. Olympia), used this technique during his career as a professional bodybuilder. This technique stimulates muscle fibers even more that hypertrophy .

There is also nerve genetics. It’s the ability to isolate and feel the muscle you’re working on. It’s an ability that improves only with experience and time.

Here is the end of the Part 1. The Part 2 comes soon.

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

-Steph

Neck Position

neck

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

In bodybuilding, having a bad neck’s position during an exercise can create neuralgia.

These neuralgias are numbness of the arm with tingling.

These sensations arrive a few days after doing exercise like dips, pec deck rear deltoid lateral, squat and deadlift. The cause is that the exercises were done with the neck extension, head back.

dips bad neck position

The truth is that the head back’s position triggers spasms and contractions of the deep muscles of the neck, which creates compression of the spinal nerves at their exit from the cervical vertebrae.

This compression creates a neuralgia that usually affects the brachia plexus around the vertebrae C4, C5, C6, C7, C8 et T1 (C for cervical and T for thoracic).

plexus brachial

Solution

Do dips or pec deck rear deltoid lateal with head forward by bringing your chin to your chest. This avoids these neuralgias.

neck position

Do deadlift or squat with your head straight (neutral position) looking forward. This avoids these neuralgias.

If the neuralgia installed, it’s important to stop any exercise with the head back (neck extension).

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

-Steph