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.

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-Steph

Hanging Leg Raises

hanging leg raises

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

Suspended on a chin-up bar :

  • Inhale and back up your knees as high as possible by approaching your knees to your torso.

  • Exhale at the end of the movement

This exercise works :

  • The iliopsoas, rectus femoris, tensor fasciae latae when you raise your legs.

  • The rectus abdominis and a little less obliques work when you move your knees to your torso.

To target the work on abs, it’s advisable to make small oscillations of thighs without never having the knees below the horizontal.

Attention

Rotations of the torso to the machine are proscribed for people suffering from low back or having already had a herniated disc.

Variant

hanging leg raises variant

By raising your knees on the side alternately to the right and to the left, obliques work more intensely.

Abdominal lumbar balance

It’s necessary to work in a balanced way the abdominal’s muscles and the back’s muscles (erector spinae). A lack of tone of hypertonicity of one of these two muscle groups can create a bad posture, and over time, create pathologies.

Example

Hypertonicity of the lower part of the erector spinae (sacro lumbar mass) with a hypotonicity of the muscles of the abdomen, will create a hyperlordosis with an abdominal ptosis. This postural defect can sometimes (if it is taken in time) be diminished by exercises of reinforcement of the abdominal muscles.

Conversely, hypertonicity of the abdominal muscles with loosening (hypotonicity) of the erectors spinae, especially in the upper part (multifidus spinae, longissimus, iliocostalis), will create a kyphosis (rounding back ) with loss of lumbar vertebral arch. This postural defect can sometimes (if it taken in time) be diminished by exercises of reinforcement of erectors spinae muscles.

Hypertonicity erector spinae muscles lumbar vertebral arch Hypotonicity abdominal ptosis

Kyphosis Hypotonicity erector spinae muscles lumbar vertebral arch Hypertonicity abdomen

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-Steph

Abs Stretching

abs stretching anatomy

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

Lying on your stomach on your hands with your arms extended :

  • Straighten up your chest slowly by tilting your head back slightly

  • Maintain this position for few seconds while breathing slowly to feel the stretching of your abs.

Variant

It’s possible to make this movement with your hands on a bench and your feet on the floor, or you’re lying on your back on a big ball (Swissball).

Note

Stretching of abs can be an important element in some sports like throwing sports, especially the javelin. In this type of sports, it’s essential to have good flexibility and a good abdominal amplitude to make the movement perfectly.

Attention

Abs stretching are to be avoided in case of lumbar pathology.

different pelvis position man woman anterior superior iliac spine pubic tubercle anatomy

abs pregnant woman child belly weight antomy

Note

The position tilted forward (anteversion) of women’s pelvis allows a portion of the child’s weight to be transferred to the abs. By analogy, abs muscles can be compared to a « hammock ».

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-Steph

Hamstring Stretching

hamstring stretching

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

Standing in support on one leg with your knee slightly bend. Your other leg stretched with your forefoot in flexion :

  • Your hands on your thighs with your back slightly arched. Slowly tilt your torso forward and focus on the feeling of stretching to the back of your thigh. The tilting is done at the level of the pelvis.

  • Hold this position for about 20 seconds and return slowly to the starting position.

This exercise stretches all the hamstrings muscle , adductor magnus, gastrocnemius, soleus and a little bit gluteus maximus.

Variant

hamstring stretching bench

Standing in support on one leg. Your other leg stretched out on a bench :

  • Your hands on your thighs with your back slightly arched. Slowly tilt your torso forward and focus on the feeling of stretching to the back of your thigh. The tilting is done at the level of the pelvis.

  • Hold this position for about 20 seconds and return slowly to the starting position.

To have a better feeling of streching, it’s possible to relax the calf’s muscle of the leg on the bench with the foot in extension.

Attention

In bodybuiding/fitness, stretching movements have the function of equalizing the tensions of the muscles fibers inside the muscle and limiting the risk of injury.

By using heavyweight, if the muscle fiber tension inside a muscle isn’t homogeneous, it’s the most tense fibers that will tear.

It’s for this reason that it’s advisable to do stretching exercise specific to the muscular group worked at the beginning of the session and between the warm-up sets.

Stretching exercises are always done gently and moderately to preserve the joints and avoid excessive ligamentous stretching which could destabilize the joints and create inflammatory pathologies.

Note

To avoid squat and deadlift injuries, it’s necessary to do stretching exercises at the beginning of the session and between warm-up sets.

hamstring stretching

During tilting of the pelvis forward (anteversion), the hamstrings are stretched.

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-Steph

Tear Of Hamstring Muscle

hamstring muscle anatomy tear

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

In bodybuilding, tears of hamstring muscles are common. This often happens during squat when the torso is too much inclined. All hamstrings muscles (except biceps femoris short head) are extremely stretched and squeeze strongly to straighten the pelvis. Precisely at this point, there may be a muscle tear in the upper or middle part of this muscle group.

It’s possible that the tear of hamstring muscle occur with machine (leg curl). There may be a muscle tear with a heavy weight at the beggining of the movement when legs stretched and muscles stretched.

Usually, tears of the muscular fibers of hamstrings are small and not serious (it’s rare to see a major muscle tear or tendon disinsertion) but these tears are always painful and causes complications.

Indeed, often after a tear on this muscle group, there is a fibrous scar that causes a painful and disabling rubbing for sport practices. And it’s important to note that this scar isn’t elastic and can tear again during an intense effort.

Tip to avoid hamstring tears

To avoid theses muscle tears during squat or deadlift, it’s important to make specific stretching movements for hamstrings, before or between sets.

There are also other exercise like « Good-morning », stiff-legged deadlift or Romanian deadlift which helps because of their combined actions of muscle building and stretching.

After a tear of hamstrings

To avoid having a fibrous scar, it’s necessary to do a re-education a week after the tear. It’s important to do stretching exercises for the back of the thigh slowly. This allows you to stretch the injured muscles and to soften the scar so that it doesn’t tear when you start again the training.

feedback of hamstrings muscles

hamstring muscle anatomy tear pelvis

In modern societies, we sit for several hours. This can create in some people a feedback of hamstrings muscles. This muscles retraction of the back of the thigh puts the pelvis in retroversion and this creates a bad position of the spine.

This poor position of the spine causes the natural curvature of the spine to be lost over time. This results in poor posture, flat buttocks and round back that can trigger spinal pathologies.

To limit this feedback of hamstrings muscles, it’s recommended to do exercises that have a combined action of muscle strengthening and stretching at the back of the thigh as the « Good-morning », stiff-legged deadllift and Romanian deadlift. Then after this exercise session, it’s advisable to do some sets of stretching for hamstrings.

Action of hamstrings at squat

hamstring muscle anatomy tear squat

During squat, hamstring muscles squeeze to straighten the pelvis. This prevents the torso (in this phase the torso is bound to the pelvis by the contraction of the abs and lumbar) from bending too much forward.

hamstring muscle anatomy tear

Note

Fibrous scars can also be treated in parallel by a physiotherapist with manual or mechanical massages to soften the lesion.

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-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.

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-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.

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-Steph