Page 2 of 12

Low Bar Grip Width Could Be Causing Your Hip Shift

Low Bar Grip Width Could Be Causing Your Hip Shift

Ankle mobility, pelvic position, bracing and oblique control are usually the common culprits for a hip shift, but lately I’ve had a couple scenarios where the shift actually was stemming from the upper body. I’ve known Joey for a while and just recently started coaching him, and one of the first things I wanted to address was a long standing issue of having the bar crooked on his back. I also wanted to test if this was leading to the hip shift that was present, or if that shift was developed due to an injury he had sustained a couple months prior. The simple test was to have him squat a similar load on a safety bar, which takes the element of shoulder mobility out of the picture and places the bar perfectly centered on his back. You can see if you scroll to the second video (CLICK HERE) that the shift is much less pronounced and probably after some intentional practice would be non-existent. Fortunately the first attempt at a possible fix worked, which was to slightly widen his grip on low bar squats. He also tend to flare his elbows fairly high, so between that and the asymmetric bar placement on his back that seemed to be a good starting point. Almost immediately we saw the impact and just weeks later you can see in the first video (CLICK HERE) how there is little to no shift present. Joey also worked on shoulder mobility, as we don’t want to neglect the fact that he seems to be lacking in external rotation on that left side. Joey is actually in school working on his DC and as an added bonus I had him put together a video of the specific shoulder mobility exercise he’s really finding benefit with in the 3rd video! And just to notate, the lacrosse ball in the video is use to produce an irradiation effect, as you’ll squeeze the lacrosse ball with a moderate grip throughout.

I think this issue occurs primarily due to the fact that lifter’s tend to want to go as narrow as possible to create a false sense of tightness, and partially as well due to being misinformed by old lore that the narrower the grip the better. And that isn’t to say a narrow grip is bad, it very well may be optimal for a lifter, but it shouldn’t be a band-aid for upper back tightness. If you can do a lat pulldown with a wider grip and still create retraction and depression of the shoulders, you can do that with your low bar position as well. Abbee has been struggling a bit with finding her optimal grip and tightness, so the other day I had her perform an iso-metric lat pulldown hold prior to setting up on low bar during her warmups. I told her to translate that same feeling to her low bar setup. Find the grip width that allowed her to recreate that same upper back and lat tightness to create a shelf to stabilize the bar, so that her arms weren’t stabilizing it instead. She has been struggling with biceps tendinitis from stabilizing the bar too much with her arms, so we will see in the coming weeks how this translates in keeping that at bay and creating a more solid shelf with her upper back!

Why You Should Program High Bar Pause Squats

Why You Should Program High Bar Pause Squats

In another installment of variations I like, today I want to discuss High Bar Pause Squats, specifically in the scenario of programming for low bar squatters. The key here is the added pause, and I will get to why in a bit, but first let me discuss the why’s of high bar squats in general, as we have a couple main benefits for low bar squatters.

1.) If there was a primary reason I tend program a squat variations such as high bar or safety bar, it’s to get out of constantly being in a low bar position. For many, high frequency and volumes of low bar squatting are inevitably going to lead to some type of shoulder, bicep, or forearm discomfort, so being able to have a break from that position while still training a similar pattern can make things more tolerable long term.

2.) High bar tends to be more leg dominant and less strain on the lower back. Due to this we can have a bit more focus on training the quads while not taxing our lower back over and over with low bar squats and deadlifts. Most people do not have weak posterior chains in the squat, contrary to what many preach. Rather its the quads and adductors, so high bar can act as a slightly more direct way to train them.

3.) High bar squats can be a great way to train upper back strength. Due to the longer moment arm there is increased demands on the upper back, which is why many times at maximal loads you’ll see people fold over at the chest during high bar squats. This can also reinforce back position and thoracic tightness during the squat as the lifter has to fight against this tendency to fold over.

4.) This variation can be use to help re-pattern someone’s squat who tends to be too hip dominant. Due to the longer moment arm, trying to be hip dominant during a high bar squat will immediately punish the lifter, so instead it encourages forward knee travel.

To piggy back off this last point though, high bar squats can also re-pattern someone’s squat in a negative way if performed incorrectly or at the wrong times. In particular what I find is that if a lifter starts to get a bit lazy during high bar squats, the naturally tendency is to start becoming too knee flexion dominant and biasing foot pressure towards the toes. Rather than fight the increased upper back tension, they just remain upright and squat too much with the knees. This is where high bar pause squats comes in. Due to the pause, this forward bias is punished, and lifters tend to remain over their mid-foot and with the right hip to knee flexion ratio when this pause is added in. When I programmed just high bar squats, I found frequently I needed to sub them out before this re-patterning could possibly happen, but with high bar pause squats lifters tend to be able to benefit from them for a longer period of time without negative consequences to their low bar squat pattern. Add the benefits listed above for high bar squats and now add in the pause for more consistent reps, and we have a great variation to be able to supplement the low bar. With that all being said though, I currently only have 5 of my 23 low bar squatting athletes performing high bar pause squats, so it is not a one size fits all approach, but rather a possible solution for those who may have struggled with finding benefit from high bar squats in the past!

Simple Adjustment To Immediately Improve Squat Bracing

Simple Adjustment To Immediately Improve Squat Bracing

Two big issues many powerlifters struggle with while bracing is chest breathing and elbow position, but fortunately one small adjustment can take care of both of these issues. Scroll to the 2nd video for a full breakdown (CLICK HERE) or continue reading for a detailed explanation! As can be seen above we have two videos side by side (CLICK HERE), the left showing the common fault of many powerlifters, versus on the right what bracing should look like and what this small adjustment can lead to. It is often an issue that powerlifters breath deep into their chest as they brace, rather than into their diaphragm and expanding into the belt. This causes not only an inefficient brace, but notice how when my traps shrug and the shoulders elevate, that this also causes my shoulder to internally rotate and raise my elbows up too. The fix is simple, and that is to set the elbows and upper back before you brace. And all of these things you may already be doing, but just in the wrong order. It’s a common cue to set up the low bar position while in the rack like you are doing a lat pulldown. This creates tightness, upper back retraction, and shoulder depression that is coming from the lats and upper back muscles. But then once a lifter walks the bar out, many times they completely lose this. After they brace they try to reset their elbows and thoracic tightness, but they struggle to maintain that throughout the movement. So the small adjustment that kills two birds with one stone is to create that lat pulldown tension, depressing and retracting the shoulder, and then brace. This helps to lock in that elbow and upper back position, but maybe even more importantly it prevents us from chest breathing to the same degree. If we are actively using our lats and upper back to depress the shoulders, as we breath we will naturally breath more into our diaphragm, as now the shoulders cannot elevate and allow the room within the chest to breath in the same manner. At the same time though, we must be careful not to over extend at the lower back while doing this, but rather maintain neutrality at the lumbar spine and pelvis. To finish off this setup, after setting my upper back, I make sure to find tension within my abdominals and obliques so that as I brace I can remain neutral and draw the ribcage down into neutral alignment.

Database Of Best Powerlifting Youtube Videos

Database Of Best Powerlifting Youtube Videos

I was putting together a list of must watch videos for a current coach I am mentoring, and decided why not just share this list within the blog as well for all to access! There are many more very informative videos out there, but this list was specifically put together for an aspiring coach to learn more specific details within programming and coaching the 3 powerlifting movements. And these are no in particular order, just copy and pasted as I went along. Hope you enjoy!

Programming

Creating a Strength Block-JTSstrength.com

Design of a Strength Block for PRs

Using Deloads for Consistent Training

Programming | Intermediate Bodybuilder/Powerlifter

Creating a Perfect Routine | Micro Cycles, Volume/Intensity & Exercise Selection

Creating a Perfect Routine | Choosing Volume & Intensity In a Micro Cycle

Volume or Intensity More Important for Strength? The Benefits of Both & Why I Focus on Volume More

How Many Sets/Reps, Intensity, Frequency & Variation For The Big 3

How To Program The Squat DUP/Sub Max Style | IMO The Best Way To Get Strong

How To Set Up a DUP Split and Program Technique Days For Strength

How To Program The Bench DUP/Sub Max Style | IMO The Best Way To Get a Strong Bench

How To Program The Deadlift DUP/Sub Max Style | IMO The Best Way To Get a Strong Deadlift

How To Program The Sumo Deadlift DUP/Sub Max Style | IMO The Best Way To Get a Strong Sumo

Free DUP Sub-Max Powerlifting Program | Downloadable Excel Sheet

Specificity – Variety Continuum — Is Specificity Really King?

 

Squat

Leg Position and Strength for Squats

Bracing for Squats

Low Bar vs High Bar vs Front Squat | The Differences

How To Brace Properly For Strength & Activation (You’re Probably Doing it Wrong)

Finding Your Ideal Squat Position | Why Your Squat Warm-up Must Be Different

Advanced Squat Technique to Stay Upright | Why They’re Wrong About The Wrists & Elbows

Common Squat Grip Position Mistake | New Way To Use RPE & More (info vlog 2)

Fixing a Squat Hip Shift & Tips On Accessory Exercise Selection | In Gym Vlog

Improve your Squat INSTANTLY – Extensor Tone with Melbourne Strength Culture

Chest Up ≠ Upright Torso

SQUAT: One Simple Cue to Fix Knee Valgus

A Simple Solution To Failing Heavy Squats For Depth

HOW TO: Squat like a PRO – beginners

One Quick Tip To Improve Your Squat IMMEDIATELY (And Deadlift)

 

Bench

Bench Press Set Up and Technique

Bench Press Bar Path and Elbow Flare

Bench Press Grip

How To Use Leg Drive

Why a Bent Wrist In the Bench Is Actually Good | Why The Larsen Press Kicks Ass | Vlog 1

Understanding Leg Drive In The Bench Part 1 | What’s ACTUALLY Happening

Which Bench Press Leg Drive Style Is Best For You |Pros & Cons of Each | Leg Drive Part 2

Grip Trick For Optimal Force Transfer In Bench | How To ACTUALLY Wrap Wraps (you’re doing it wrong)

Bench Variation, Attempt Selections & Cues to Ensure you Don’t Screw Up You Bench Press Meet Prep

Bench Press: Setting Up for a Big Arch

My Favourite BENCH CUE!

Bench Press: Pressing with Vertical Bar Path

How to BENCH – beginners

Bench Press: Setting up for Shoulder Depression

 

Deadlift

Pulling Slack on Deadlifts

Anchoring Hips for Better Deadlifts

Deadlift Set Up and Tightness

Use Your Quads to Find the Right Hip Height

Train Your Opposite Stance Deadlift

My Favorite Deadlift Cue

Anchoring Pt 2

How To Sumo Deadlift: The Definitive Guide

Improve Your Deadlift | Understanding the Hip Shoot

How Low Should Your Hips Be in the Deadlift? | Easy Way to Figure It Out

The Best Deadlift Sequence For Positioning/Tension | How To Actually Pull The Slack Out & Hip Scoop

Part 1 How to Pull With A Neutral Back: The Best Bracing Sequence For Deadlifting

Achieving a Perfectly Tensioned Deadlift | 3 Categories & 9 Tips To Fix Your Deadlift

My Favourite DEADLIFT CUE!

DEADLIFT: Correcting your start position

The Romanian Deadlift — the best Deadlift accessory you SHOULD be doing

How To Tell If You’re Pulling With Your Back

Pulling The Slack Out Of The Bar – A Thorough TUTORIAL

How to DEADLIFT – Beginners (Conventional)

How to DEADLIFT – Sumo

 

Other

Fix Shoulder Mobility For Good | Shoulder Stability/Movement Prep

WHY I DO MYO-REPS ON MY BODYBUILDING DAYS FOR MUSCLE GROWTH

Balance and Position — One Common Error Intermediates Make

Learn to Control Your Pelvis to a Bigger and Safer Squat

 

Patellar/Quad Tendinopathy In Powerlifting

Knee Pain In Powerlifting

Patellar and Quad Tendinopathy/Tendinitis is a pain in the butt. Most people are in search of some magic cure for it, but in my experience it really just comes down to load management, patience, and the right mindset. Barring some obvious movement fault, you probably are not going to find some immediate answer for the pain, but rather need a structured and flexible approach of managing load and volume to provide a stimulus for recovery.

Case study in hand right now is Adam. In the beginning of May, Adam aggravated his patellar tendon. We started a slow progressive load management protocol and built up through the month of May from only being able to tempo safety bar squat 155lbs. to low bar tempo squatting 345lbs. There was a big key though in this approach, and that was to only work to what he could squat pain free each day. We have to understand that just like strength gain or weight loss, rehabbing injuries is not a perfectly linear process. There will be good days and bad days, and we must adjust accordingly to what we can tolerate on a session to session basis. The session after he hit 345lbs. pain free, he worked up to 365lbs. and felt some slight pain. According to the protocol this meant to drop back down in weight to find the correct pain free range for the day. But as with most powerlifters including myself on many occasions when I’ve been injured in the past, we do not want to drop the weight back and we force things, which is what Adam did. He kept at that weight and re-aggravated the patellar tendon. This sent him into another negative spiral and took about a month to get his mentality back onto the right approach. So beginning in early July, we started the process over again, with the biggest difference being Adam’s mindset and the understanding that progress would not be linear but rather adjust day by day as we could. You can see this in the above video’s screenshots (CLICK HERE) that were 2 weeks apart, with the top one being from July 11th and bottom from July 29th. On the 11th as he pyramided up in weight he found that at 345×4 he was experiencing some pain, but this time he stopped and concluded that was his tolerable loading level for the day. Fast forward two weeks later and he was hitting 405×4 completely pain free. Fast forward 1 more week, and Adam has hit 455×5 pain free, and this next block we will be resuming normal squat programming again.

I struggled for 2 1/2 years with quad tendinopathy always trying to look for a quick and easy fix. And then once things started feeling better, I would try to rush back to my old weights and inevitably re-injure myself once again. Once I slowed down, remained patient, and took each day’s wins as I could, within 3 months I was pain free and haven’t had any issues with my knee since. In hindsight, I think about if I had just done that from the start rather than looking for these 1-2 week quick fixes. If I had just been patient for 3 months, I would have had over 2 extra years of productive training. In the present, 3 months of rehab and slowly building back up sounds like an eternity to a powerlifter. But in hindsight that will seem like just a small blip in your strength journey compared to the years of off and on struggle with chronic pain.