Standing Calf Raise Machine

standing calf raise machine

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

Stand with your back straight and your shoulders under the pads. The front of your feet on the step with your ankles in passive flexion :

  • Do an extension of your feet with of your knees joints in extension.

This exercise works the triceps surae composed of 2 gastrocnemius and soleus. It’s really important to do each repetition with a full flexion to really stretch the muscles.

muscle triceps surae

insertions muscle triceps surae

In theory, it’s possible to locate the work on gastrocnemius medial (toes outward) or gastrocnemius lateral (toes inward) but, in reality it’s very difficult. However, you can easily shift the emphasis from the gastronemius to the soleus by flexing your knees to relax the gastrocnemius.

gastrocnemius medial lateral

Variant

standing barbell calf raise

It’s possible to do this movement with the Smith machine and a step under your feet.

Note

Triceps surae is a very powerful muscle that is used to lifting your bodyweight all day. It’s for this reason why it’s important to use heavyweights to work it.

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 .

 

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-Steph

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

Decline Bench Press

decline bench press

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

By lying on a bench with you head down and fix your feet so as not to slip. The bench is declined between 20° and 40° Take the barbell with a pronated grip and a hand gap equal to or wider than your shoulders.

  • Inhale and by controlling the movement, lower the barbell on the bottom of your chest.

  • Press and exhale at the end of the movement

This exercise works the pectoralis major (particularly the lower part), triceps and anterior deltoids.

You can also to this exercise with a light weight and down the barbell at the neck. This allows you to stretch your pectoralis major (chest) in an excellent way.

You can also to the decline press with the Smith machine.

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

-Steph

Close-Grip Bench Press

close grip bench press

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

Lying on a horizontal bench with your butt glued to the bench and your feet on the ground :

  • Takes the barbell with a pronated grip. The distance between your hands varies from 10 to 40 cm (3.9 to 15.7 inches) of your wrists flexibility.

  • Inhale and lower the barbell by controlling the movement to your torso.

  • Press and exhale at the end of the movement.

This exercise works the inner chest and triceps. This exercise can be part of an arm training program. By doing this exercise with the elbows along your body, it allows to work more anterior deltoids. This exercise can be done at the Smith machine.

Attention : There are several different morphologies so it’s possible that the close-grip create wrist pain. In this case, it’s advisable to spread the hands slightly.

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

-Steph

Back To The Source Of Equipment (Part 2)

source water river

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

If you didn’t read the part 1, click here

Racks Et Machines

To do squat, there are differents equipements, we name it « racks ». Let’s go.

Squat stands

squat stands

It’s 2 pieces standing, next to each other to hold the Olympic bar. It’s handy because it’s portable and you can do squat outside. But in a gym, it’s not great because you can’t put heavy weights, it’s too fragile.

Squat rack

squat rack

It’s 2 bars that are standing tied with horizontal bars. With the Squat racks, you can put heavy weights.

Power rack

power rack

It’s my favorite. It looks like a large rectangle with poles in vertical and horizontal. The Power racks have holes for placing J-hooks to adjust the height of Olympic bar. What is cool is that you can do several exercices with like pull-up, bench press, overhead press and dips.

Smith machine

smith machine

Smith machine looks like Squat racks except that the bar is guided.

Gym staff will tell you that it’s a machine to do squat safe. I don’t advise to use this machine because it forces your body to make unnatural movements. This scientific study (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19855308 ) shows that you have better results with a squat with free weights.

The difference between Squat racks and Smith machine is that the bar where you put weights is fixed on Smith machine.

Weight machine

plate loaded machine weight pin loaded stack machine weight

Weight machines are in 2 categories : Pin loaded (stack machine) and Plate loaded. Pin machines have a rectangular weight stack with a hole to put the pin. More the pin is low, more the weight is heavy to lift. What is cool with this machines is that you don’t need to look for weights anywhere in the gym.

With Plate loaded, there is no weights attached to the machine. You put weights on the machine yourself. Plate loaded machines have a wider range of motion than Pin loaded.

Cable machine

cable machine

No matter the size or design of the cable machie, it will always be a pin loaded (stack machine). A handle is at the end of the cable and you can pull or push in different directions. Cable machine can be an alternative for some exercices you do with dumbbells or barbells. Cable machine has a wider range of motion.

Pull-up Bar

pull up bar

You know in most gyms, there is no real pullup bar (like in my gym). If you don’t find a freestanding bar, there are several alternatives like power rack, smith machine or the top of the cable machine.

Dips station

dips station

Usually dips station is integrated into the power rack or the cable machine. You can find some that are freestanding.

Assisted Pullup /Dip station

assisted pull up

It’s a Pin loaded (stack machine). You choose a weight and you put yourself on the platform. The weight you choose will help you to do pullups or dips. For pullups, I advise you to do Lat pulldown and the day where you can lift your bodyweight, you do freestanding pullup.

Bench

adjustable bench

Ajustables benches and standard flat benches are types of benches you will see in a gym. To do incline and decline exercices, ajustable bench is perfect. Benches are the equipement the most use in a gym, especially on Monday. I don’t know why but Monday is the international chest’s day and it’s hard to find a bench that day.

Bench press

bench press

Squat stand and Squat rack are use to do bench press in small gyms and Crossfit. In big gyms, there are special bench press with a stand attached.

Equipement items

Now you know the main gym’s equipment, I will show you small equipement items.

Collars/Clips

collar clip

There are several collars/clips designs but they have the same purpose that is to keep weights safe on the bar.


Weight plates

weight plate

There are several type of plates :

  • Standard metal plates/ rubber encased weight plates

    They’re made of metal and they shouldn’t be thrown to the ground. There are circle with the denomination of weight on. Depending on the weight, they have different diameters.

  • Bumper plates

    They’re made of rubber and can be thrown to the ground for above your head (clean and jerk).

Plates can have a denomination in kilograms or pounds :

Kilogramme : 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20 et 25kg

Pound : 2.5, 5, 10, 25 ou 45lbs.

You can also find plates with a combination of metal and rubber that can be thrown to the ground but not from aboe you head.

Kettelbells

kettelbell

This is looks like a cannon balls with handles. Most gym don’t have the same weight repertoire than dumbells but it’s possible to find kettelbells of 24kg (53lbs) and 31.75 (70lbs) and more.

GHR/GHD Machine

ghr ghd machine glute ham raise developer

The translation is « Glute Ham Raise » or « Glute Ham Developer ». With this you can do glute ham raise, back extension or sit ups.

Prowler/Dragging sled

prowler dragging sled

Put weights on a prowler and push or pull while you run.

Strongman equipment

strongman kegs yokes hammers tires atlas stone

If you don’t intend to make a strongman competition, kegs, yokes, hammers, tires and atlas stones are good to do from time to time.

Plyo Boxes

plyo Boxe

These boxes have several size. You jump on and off of.

Bands

band

Those are big rubber bans to work mobility and speed lifts.

Gear

It’s funny because people ask me often : « What do I wear ? ». I noticed in gyms, it’s often a fashion show. It’s for this reason beginners are impressed. Unless you have an injury, clothes don’t matter. When I started, I took some clothes that I rarely used and I always do that. Sometimes I see people with cool clothes and I say to myself : « Wow, I have to buy it » and when I see theirs performances I say to myself : « Pffff, show-off ! ».

Clothing

Gym isn’t a fashion show. You’re not going to win a prize because you’re well dressed. We’re here to sweat so wearing comfortable clothes. You know, my clothes and shoes are torn and the funny thing is that people ask me, if they can train with me because they see my body evolve.

Shoes

squat deadlift shoes classic converse chuck taylor all star

It’s important to have a good pair of shoes to do deadlift and squat. A good pair of shoes allows you to put your weight on your heels to be as stable as possible. Running shoes don’t allow you to do this because their soft soles. If you don’t have the budget for this type of shoes, the classic Converse Chuck Taylor All Star works well and is what many top powerlifters still wear.

Personally I use my Converse Chuck Taylor All Star for my strenght training and my Puma to run.

Gloves

Gloves are used to protect hands from callouses. At the beginning, I wore gloves and I still had callouses and sometimes my hands slipped inside gloves because of the sweat. I notices that gloves could also mess up your grip and technique. I don’t use gloves and I don’t recommand to have gloves.

Knee/Wrist wraps

knee wrist wraps

Wraps allow you to have support and stability when you lift heavy weights (squat/deadlift).

Straps

straps

Straps allow you to hold the bar longer in your hands. Straps are wrapped around the bar which relives your grip. It’s excellent for intermediate and advanced lifters. Beginners don’t need to use it.

Weightlifting Belt

weightlifting belt leather weightlifting belt velcro

There are 2 type of weightlifting belt : leather or velcro. It’s very usefull for intermediate and advanced lifters. I use my weightlifting belt only for deadlift and squat.

Stop, stop, stop, I see you start to worry about buyiing all this. Don’t panic, the most important thing to have is a good pair of shoes to get started. It’s simple, let’s go my friend.

Whats’s the biggest mistake you made when you started lifting ?

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

-Steph

Back Press

back press

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

Sitting with your back straight. Take the barbell with your hand in pronation behind your neck :

  • Inhale and press the barbell above your head without arching your back

  • Exhale at the end of the movement

This exercice works deltoids (middle part and posterior part), upper trapezius, triceps and serratus anterior. It works a little rhomboids, infraspinatus, teres minor and supraspinatus.

deltoids middle deltoids posterior upper trapezius triceps serratus anterior rhomboids infraspinatus teres minor supraspinatus

This movement can do standing or with the machine smith. There is several machine to do this exercice with more security.

Warning : To avoid trauma to shoulders joint, rest the barbell higher or lower behind the neck according individual differences in morphology and flexibility.

-Steph

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