Squat Cue: Bring The Lower Obliques To The Thighs

Squat Cue: Bring The Lower Obliques To The Thighs

If you watched my YouTube video last week (CLICK HERE), in discussing how to cue the hip hinge, one of my favorite cues is “bringing the lower obliques to the thighs”. I showed this by just simply putting your thumb on your lower oblique, your middle on your thigh, and then pinching them together. Doing so will almost immediately create a pretty solid hinge pattern. Well, it can work in the squat too. Here we have a side by side of @zbroderick83 and a bar tilt issue he was having (CLICK HERE). Breaking this down, he is crunching into that right oblique while lengthening and flaring his left side. Even with trying to cue better reference with the obliques, things just weren’t clicking. If we really focus on what that left side is doing, its improperly hinging and his ribcage is flaring. Even though the squat isn’t a hinge in the same manner as a deadlift, there is still a hinge and hip flexion component. So what I did was I cued Zach to drive his knees forward and allow his chest to lean per normal, but also to actively think about pulling his lower obliques into his thighs. Specifically making sure to reference pulling that left oblique into his left thigh, since that is where the disconnect was occurring. That along with an increased focus on constant bracing, not just inhaling and then forgetting to maintain his brace, had a pretty noticeable effect right away. We can see on the right side video a much better hinge pattern coming from his left side. With not even thinking about maintaining tightness in his left oblique, he naturally did so by thinking about pulling that oblique to meet his thigh. I also included a video of me breaking this down in case you didn’t watch my latest YouTube video (shame shame) to help give better reference as to what this cue entails.

My Top 3 Favorite Deadlift Variations

My Top 3 Favorite Deadlift Variations – CLICK HERE

In my final installment of my top 3 variations for each lift, I break down my go-to’s for the deadlift! In this YouTube video, I look at the 3 deadlift variations I find myself programming most often, their benefits, how to do them correctly, when to do them, when not to do them, and how to program them within your training. At least from my coaching and programming style, I’d say the deadlift is the movement that I probably program more to specificity than the others, so I tend to use less variations. I’ve tried other things, but just haven’t seen the carry over. So these 3 variations are my staples and what I find myself falling back on to satisfy the need for variation in the deadlift. Whether that be to self limit, correct movement, manage fatigue, or find a direct transfer of strength. And I will give a small spoiler, in that 1 of those variations is the Romanian Deadlift. I’ve been wanting to do a “how to hinge” video, but this worked perfectly to break down the hinge within my explanation of the “how to” on the RDL. So I will make sure to timestamp each section so if you are more interested in “how to hinge”, you can jump straight to that section. Click the link above to watch!

Deadlift Setup Fix: Set Up Vertically Over The Bar

Deadlift Setup Fix: Set Up Vertically Over The Bar

A simple setup tip in the deadlift that can make a big difference is making sure to set up directly vertical over the bar. With both @jontsang83 and @kegs_and_kilos (CLICK HERE), in these side by sides we can see a very noticeable difference in their ability to maintain position as they wedge in. And while for both of them there were other cues involved in this improvement, the most noticeable in this visual is how they are leveraging the slack vertically on the right side videos. Whereas on the left side, they are setting up well in front of the bar. I cover this setup in detail in my slack pull Youtube video, but with that being 57 minutes long, I did want to pull this tip out of that and make a specific post, as it’s a simple change that can benefit most lifters.

The fact is at some point for the bar to break the floor and maintain its center of gravity over the midfoot, it’s going to have to receive direct vertical tension. Any horizontal tension is going to create a deviation from that optimal bar path and starting position. And while some lifters can make due with starting over the bar and self correcting that position as they wedge, I find this to be a very simple change that is low hanging fruit for many others who continue to struggle with deadlift positioning, especially on sumo. Starting with the arms vertical and shoulder blades directly over the bar allows us to create a more efficient slack pull, as we create that direct vertical tension that is needed, and then use the shoulder joint as our fulcrum to rotate and wedge around. This also tends to coincide with a lifter having more awareness of a proper hinge in their initial setup. People tend to set up over the bar because they just lean over and grab it, instead of hinging to the bar. Take your time, hinge, and let the bar come to your rather than reaching for it.

My Top 3 Favorite Bench Variations

My Top 3 Favorite Bench Variations – CLICK HERE

From the first day we started lifting, we all wanted a big bench. But most of the time the way to that big bench is perfectly clear or linear. Oftentimes we introduce variations into our programs to accomplish specific tasks, whether technique or programming based, that just competition bench press cannot achieve alone. So continuing with my YouTube series on my favorite lift variations, next up is my top 3 favorite bench press variations! In my latest YouTube video, I break down my top 3 favorite bench variations and do my best to really cover all aspects of how these can benefit lifters. Most of us know the basics, but I try to look into even how some bench variations can help alleviate knee pain in the squat. For each variation I take a look at what their benefits are in regards to technique and programming. I give detailed instructions on how to do them correctly to get the most out of them. I look at who these variations would benefit, as well as who probably wouldn’t benefit from them. And lastly, I explain the how and when of programming these variations into your own programming. Click the link in my bio to view!

The 3 “Feelings” Of Training

The 3 “Feelings” Of Training

If you read through some of my stories yesterday, or have watched in particular my YouTube video on deloads, I’ve alluded to the general feelings of fatigue and preparation that lifters should be cognizant of. These 3 general feelings (for lack of a better term) I would classify as “lagging”, “prepared”, or “fatigued”, and I’ll get into more below on exactly what each one of those means. But first, I must clarify the precedent to how we determine these and can use them to help guide training.

First, we have to understand that the feeling of fatigue isn’t always bad. We’ve all had those sessions where we feel terrible, but strength ends up amazing. For the feeling of lagging or fatigue, strength progression takes precedent. If week to week we are seeing an upward trend in performance, this concept does not apply in the same manner, but is more so for those times where we are feeling stagnant or are seeing performance downturns. The fact is on certain days the layout of your weekly structure may purposefully have days where you will feel lagging or fatigued. This is important to note as well, but the goal isn’t to feel great every day, but rather have a specific day on each lift throughout the week and block that you use as your primary day for progression.

Second, using these feelings to guide programming decisions should be separate from inconsistent recovery variables. If you come into the gym after sleeping 3 hours, not eating sufficient calories, and dehydrated, of course you aren’t going to feel the best. If this is a consistent issue, programming considerations need to be made to account for that. And if you aren’t putting the proper emphasis into your recovery and being consistent with that, tracking other trends to optimize your program is going to be extremely difficult.

So getting into these 3 “feelings”, let me clarify that I am simplifying this concept. But in reality we could look at this as a spectrum, as typically we aren’t going to be perfectly defined by one of these.

1.) Lagging: This feeling is usually defined by a lifter as feeling like they aren’t as explosive, as well as the one most people reading probably least understand and are aware of. They feel recovered, but the bar just feels heavy, they don’t feel like they have the same pop, and all of this kind of can be summed up by saying they feel detrained. Many times you may have even expected a good session due to feeling recovered, but once you got under the bar you just didn’t feel like the strength was there. This feeling would classify you as actually being overly recovered. I talk about this in my YouTube video on deloading, as if you deload too much, many times you will come back the following week and see a noticeable downturn in strength due to just feeling detrained. This can also happen within regular training though. Maybe the secondary squat day is programmed to allow adequate recovery, but you find that it is actually too much. And then when you come back around to the primary day you feel like you are “lagging”, hence being under-stimulated by that secondary day to continue to carry the adaptations over into the next session.

2.) Prepared: This is what we aim for. You feel good, you are strong, and the session goes great. It doesn’t mean you don’t carry any fatigue or that maybe you didn’t have a little extra recovery. It just means within the spectrum, you’ve been appropriately dosed to stimulate adaptations, allow adequate recover, and see strength progression. This is probably the easiest one to notice, but also maybe the hardest one to maintain. Our goal is to formulate a training structure that can elicit this feeling in a predictable and consistent manner. And as I alluded to, usually that’s on 1 given day within the training week on each lift. We have a primary day that everything else is programmed around to optimize performance on that given day each week, and then most likely even peak that day on a given week within the training block.

3.) Fatigued: Most lifters understand the concept and feeling of fatigue, but the issue is the misconception of why they are fatigued. In a perfect world, we could eat, sleep, and train, and therefore any fatigue we feel we can immediately adjust based on programming considerations. But probably no one reading this is a professional powerlifter, so therefore fatigue is this multi-variable spectrum of so many different aspects of our life feeding into this one bucket. Since perfection will be about impossible, our goal is to find consistency to the best of our ability. Within that, we can then account for a consistent level of recovery and then understand how fatigue from training is playing its role. In reality, even optimal training will elicit fatigue that eventually builds up past our recovery ability. Which is why fatigue isn’t always bad. The main issue is when we see high levels of fatigue correlating with performance downturns. If we see a continued increase week after week in fatigue, with no day of the week feeling particularly strong and performance either maintaining or diminishing, and recovery is consistent, we can presume an athlete is doing more than they can tolerate. Much like lagging is being under-stimulated, fatigued is an over-stimulation past our tolerable limits.