A while ago, I read an article about “the plague of the mediocre athlete”: no glutes. It’s a pretty good read, and although I don’t agree with everything in it, the general message rings true. Our gluteals are dead. They’ve become inactive from too much sitting. We need to wake them up again, since even our most basic movements require their use. Most of us are walking or moving around every day without using our glutes. How did this happen? What’s wrong with our bodies? How do we fix it? If we do all the right things, we might just regain the ability to tap into the power of our glutes again. As a bonus, this would boost our speed and athletic ability, enabling our hips to work the way they should. And for the ladies, I think you’ll be happy with the results once you’ve got your glutes fired up.
Something that I think gets neglected far too often in most workout routines is a proper warmup. But before I start just a heads-up; taking a pre workout does not count as warming up, riding the stationary bike for 5 minutes listening to the 300 soundtrack does not count as a warmup, and flexing in the mirror in the change room does not count as a warmup.
A proper warmup should consist of mobilization and stabilization drills specific to the exercises that you intend on performing that day. This means that you should probably have a plan before you go to the gym. If this seems too complicated fear not, wandering around the gym doing bicep curl variations requires no warmup at all. All that you need is a shirt with the sleeves removed and instagram.
If you can do this don’t bother reading this article.
So now that we’ve covered the more lower-body focused exercises of the Big Three, the Deadlift and the Squat, there’s still one more to go. The bench press is the more controversial of the Big Three. It’s been widely recognized as a staple for upper body strength, popularly used by American Football teams as a fitness test. But in recent years, there’s been a push-back against it and specialists are questioning the risk of shoulder injury and effectiveness of the movement. We’ll go through what the bench press is good for, how to get strong at it, how to avoid injuring your shoulders (not just during the press, but outside of the gym as well) and what other upper body exercises to do to ensure overall well-balanced upper body strength.
What is a Squat?
To squat or not to squat. That’s a rhetorical question right? Because of course you should squat, humans have been doing it for millions of years.
Literally ATG (ass to grass)
If you travel to most any country in Asia you will notice almost immediately that there are a large number of men and woman who have assumed the squat position and are usually attempting to sell you massages, unidentified meats and/or drugs. This position seems as natural to them as sitting on a couch watching American Idol is to us Westerners. However this type of squat, which is used for rest, is different from a heavy barbell squat which requires the entire body to be under constant tension for the duration of the exercise. The loaded squat is the exercise that we will be briefly discussing today. Continue reading
This is Part 1 of a 3-part series dedicated to the Big Three Lifts. Many elite coaches advocate working on the deadlift as an essential part of any training program. Due to its full body recruitment, it’s a great exercise to add overall muscle mass and more importantly, it restructures the body into better posture if done properly. A hip hinge to pick things up is a natural primal movement and it just happens to be how we best handle moving heavy things from one place to another. For athletes, the deadlift trains the legs and the body to work in conjunction to push hard into the ground. With the right program, deadlifts can improve running speed and the vertical jump. If the squat is the king of exercises than the deadlift is the queen. And we all know from chess that while the king is crucial, the queen is the real game-changer.
The “Big Three” are three exercises that have been deemed by the world of Powerlifters as the essential movements by which to gauge strength. They are compound movements done with a barbell and consist of the Deadlift, the Squat and the Benchpress. Now there is much debate on why these exercises should be praised so highly and to anyone who trains in any other sport other than Powerlifting, an argument can be made that training these movements will not help you and in fact will be detrimental. I’d like to argue that there is much to gain from learning to do these movements well. The typical reason would be to gain muscle and get bigger and stronger. However, women especially and athletes can also benefit from regularly doing heavy deadlifts, squats and yes, the loved and hated benchpress.