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Because Heavy Things Won’t Lift Themselves
Updated: 18 hours 50 min ago

Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 3/15/19

Fri, 03/15/2019 - 12:20

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th (<– EARLY BIRD rate ending in 3 weeks).

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Melbourne, Australia: July 20-21st

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Coaching Competency Workshop – Raleigh, NC

I’ll be in Raleigh, NC THIS WEEKEND putting on my popular Coaching Competency workshop

Full details (date, location, itinerary, how to register) can be found HERE.

3. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side. Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who I think is one of the best and brightest coaches I know.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

4) The Ultimate Pull-Up Challenge

Lil’ Kim is the queen of hip-hop.

Meghan Callaway is the queen of pull-ups.

She’s running a pull-up challenge this month (starts Monday, March 18th) and everyone who participates will receive a FREE PDF outlining exercises and tips to improve your pull-ups.

Plus you get to be part of a motivating challenge.

Also, on an aside: Meghan’s popular Ultimate Pull-Up Program will be on sale at 25% off the regular price throughout the duration of the challenge (and I think the offer is available right now).

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Progressive overload matters. I can’t tell you how many people will bring up “x” supplement or “y” exercise thinking that THAT, finally, will help explain their lack of progress. They just needed that.

No.

Do more (hard) work. Consistently.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) March 9, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

30 Days of Shoulders. . Day 1: Two Common Row Technique Errors. . There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to why someone’s shoulder may be bothering them: poor soft tissue quality, programming imbalance, weak this, overactive that, they wore blue on a Wednesday. I don’t know. . However, more often than not, and something I feel gets overlooked often, is how someone performs a certain exercise. . Take the DB Row for example. It’s not uncommon to see one of two (if not both) mistakes being made when someone performs the exercise: . 1. Too much glenohumeral extension (or the “more ROM must be better” scenario). . 2. Not allowing the scapulae to move around the rib cage. . Let that shit move, yo. . Address or consider those two things and I’m willing to bet your shoulders may feel better.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Mar 11, 2019 at 1:53pm PDT

STUFF TO READ WHILE  YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Brie Larson and Becoming Your Own Superhero in Real Life  – Josh Hillis

The main message I got from reading this (and it’s a profound I am always trying to champion myself): it’s more about the PROCESS than the  OUTCOME.

Trans Athletes: The Death of  Women’s Sports – Dani Shugart

WHEW- this one was a doozy and a topic I can”t imagine how hard it was to write about. Dani did so with tact,  grace, and  professionalism.

Strength Training for Runners:  It’s a  MUST – Menachem Brodie

There’s no shortage of myths and naysayers when it comes to attaching strength training to an endurance athlete. I want to give Menachem a hug so freakin bad for writing this article.

Well done!

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 3/15/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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How to Get Your Clients to Work Harder

Wed, 03/13/2019 - 14:05

I often say that what bogs down most fitness professionals, and what often causes the most stress, isn’t the x’s and o’s of program design, assessment, or breaking down the Creatine phosphorylation cycle.

Nor is it the ability to break down squat or overhead pressing technique.

Most coaches/trainers can do all the above without blinking an eye.1

Nope, what really grinds most fit pro’s gears is how to better motivate their clients and to get them to work hard(er).

Copyright: annotee / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Now, to be fair (and to add a sense of brevity), when I say “to get them to work hard(er)” I am not implying the word “hard” means someone trains to the point of shitting their kidney on their last set of cleans or that they can’t feel the right side of their face after finishing that day’s WOD.

Just so we’re on the same page…

I Am Not Referring to This

via GIPHY

5 Tips to Get Your Clients to Train Hard(er) 1) Meet Them Where THEY Are

We all have biases as coaches. We all have notions of how most people we work with should train and what they need to do to get from Point A to Point B.

Using myself as an example:

“Lifting heavy shit.”

I’ll unabashedly admit that the bulk of people who walk through the doors at CORE already know what they’re getting themselves into

I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to take a gander at my logo and tagline to put 2 and 2 together:

I.e., we’re not participating in tickle fights.2

That said, I’ve made a massive philosophical change in my coaching style ever since marrying my wife, Dr. Lisa Lewis.

She’s a psychologist and knows a thing or two about Jedi mind-tricks.

To that end, I try really, really, really hard not to force feed and project MY preferences onto my clients. Granted I live in a bit of a strength & conditioning bubble where I don’t have to work very hard to convince new clients to understand and appreciate the benefits of strength training.

Many times people walk through the doors of CORE on Day #1 wanting to deadlift, or front squat, or discuss why Colton was a fool (and FOOL I tell you) to pick Cassie over Tayshia in the latest season of The Bachelor.

However, NEWSFLASH: a lot of people could give two shits about deadlifting 2x bodyweight or performing a low bar back squat.

Using the latter as a reference point, not many people have the ability to perform a barbell back squat well, and if I played the meanie head strength coach card all the time and forced every client to do it – even if it didn’t match their current ability level, injury history, or goal(s) – I’d be doing them a disservice and likely taking away from their training experience.

Doing our part and meeting our clients where THEY are – oh, you mean not everyone wants to train like a powerlifter? – would be the more germane and responsible approach.

If your client can’t perform a certain exercise because it’s too advanced (or worse, it hurts), then yeah, they’re not going to be very motivated to work hard.

2) Set Them Up For Success

I’m going to divulge a big (coaching) secret; something that will undoubtedly help separate any coaches/trainers who may be reading from the masses.

Wanna know what your clients want most and what will (likely) allow them to work harder?

No, it’s not a Instagram feed of you wearing yoga pants making a smoothie or posing shirtless next to a Tesla.

And it’s definitely not however many supplements you want to peddle their way.

Nope, what they really want is to not feel like an incompetent asshole on the gym floor.

The fitness industry likes bright shiny things; exercises that are flashy and look cool. That’s fine. I am not anti having a little fun in the gym.

That being said, lets stop with the exercises that take 13 minutes just to set up or are only good for garnering “likes” on social media.

 

I think the more prudent approach, and at the expense as coming across too “vanilla,” is to hammer the basics – squat, hinge, row, push, single leg, carry, core – and to use your skills as a coach to find out what variations of these patterns best fits the needs of your clients.

Want your clients to work hard(er)?

Set them up for success and provide a litany of exercises they can actually perform well and without feeling like a fool.

And then, you know, progress them accordingly.

3) Have Them Write Shit Down

Let me know if this sounds familiar:

Client: I’m frustrated by my lack of progress.

Me: Okay, lets break this down. Let me look at your program.

(looks at program)

Me: Why isn’t there anything written down?

Client: Oh, I just try to remember each week what I do.

Me: Excuse me, brb.

(tosses face into a brick wall).

Please.

Most people can barely remember what they had for dinner the night before let alone what they did on their third set of DB Bench Press last Wednesday.

“What gets tracked, gets managed”

I like to place a bit of accountability with my clients and encourage them – almost naggingly so  – to WRITE THEIR SHIT DOWN FOR THER LOVE OF GOD.

4) Appreciate RPE

It’s one thing when I can have my eyes on a client and adjust load or otherwise provide instant feedback on their technique in real time.

It’s a whole different ballgame when a client trains on their own.

There’s always going to be a bit of trial and error, however most of the time (not always) I find people tend to UNDER-estimate how much weight they can lift when training on their own.

Lets say a program calls for 4×8 of a particular exercise and that’s exactly what a client does.

Great.

That’s half the battle3

Upon further inspection, though, when you bring up effort or Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), you come to the realization that they could have done eight more reps with that same weight.

[Cue The Price is Right horn here.]

Granted, they’re doing work, which should be celebrated…just not work that’s challenging enough (or, to be more specific, “work” that challenges the body and forces it to adapt to the load placed upon it).

Getting your clients to appreciate and adopt “RPE” to help provide feedback and direction in terms of what loads to use can be a game changer with regards to nudging them to work harder.

Courtesy of Mike Turscherer

5) Use a Teeny Tine Dose of Tough Love

Lastly, sometimes I like to write little notes into my client’s programs – especially those who can’t seem to live without their cell phone – to remind them that I have their best interests in mind.

Unless you’re a brain surgeon on call, leave your phone off the gym floor…;o)

 

The post How to Get Your Clients to Work Harder appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Does Vegan Nutrition Make You a Better Athlete?

Tue, 03/12/2019 - 08:02

Humans are very tribal, and especially so when it comes to their nutritional preferences: Paleo vs. Keto vs. Vegan vs. Jets vs. Sharks vs. Decepticons.

It’s crazy out there.

In lieu of the release of his new book, Athletic Nutrition 101, regular TG.com contributor, Travis Hansen, sent me this fantastic blog post the other day I think you all will enjoy.

Copyright: saschanti17 / 123RF Stock Photo

Does Vegan Nutrition Make You a Better Athlete?

Before we dive in I want to make it clear that my sole intention with writing this objective article is to just be, you know…objective.

There is no denying that there are some profound emotional ties with various types of diets and nutritional approaches and although the information and science presented may trigger or ruffle up some feathers, please understand that is not my intent at all.

The purpose of this write-up is to simply look at some of the brief scientific literature as it pertains to proper vegan nutrition and its role on athletic performance outcomes to either confirm or disprove its credibility as a reliable dietary strategy for athletes.

That’s it.

I think it’s best to start by breaking down specific topics of discussion aimed at providing a conclusion into whether or not utilizing a vegan approach could support you or an athlete you train into becoming a better performer on the field or court.

Here are the most common areas of concern as far as the research is concerned on vegan nutrition and performance:

  • #1-Supplementation factors-Vitamin B12 deficiency
  • #2-Adequate protein intake
  • #3-Iron and Creatine levels
Supplementation Factors

Vitamins and Minerals are absolutely critical to so many biochemical reactions and functions in the human body.

Vitamins are stimulatory in nature and satisfy specific roles responsible for improved athletic performance measures, or a lack thereof. According to one study, supra or mega-doses of vitamins does not seem to have any increased benefit on sport performance.

“In general, vitamin supplementation to an athlete on a well-balanced diet has not been shown to improve performance. However, additional research with certain vitamins appears to be warranted, such as with the vitamin B complex and fine motor control, and with vitamin E and endurance at high altitudes. Moreover, research with mega-dose supplementation may also be necessary.” (1)

Unfortunately, there is some concern regarding a vegan approach and whether or not it can deliver proper doses of Vitamin B12 without supplementation.

“On the other hand, questions have been raised by some investigators regarding unique risks of the vegetarian diet, including oligomenorrhea and amenorrhea, iron deficiency, vitamin B12 deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, and impaired mineral status.” (2,3)

However, if athletes remove deficiencies and restore normal Vitamin B12 levels then there doesn’t seem to be an issue in terms of performance.

Adequate Protein Intake

The next issue deals with protein intake. This topic definitely seems to be the most detailed and alarming, but again, if

athletes supplement and consume adequate amounts of vegan protein sources they should be just fine.

Here is a short excerpt from my nutrition book that puts it into perspective and then afterwards I want to share some important information and a diagram you can check out from the infamous Boirie study which will help you appreciate why you need to attempt to overcompensate and consume more protein than normal to ensure an adequate anabolic muscle building response in the body.

“Adequate protein intake, although more perhaps difficult to come by for vegans vs. non vegans, does seem attainable to support proper athletic development.

For example, a study from van Vliet, 2015 found that plant protein is typically less anabolic than animal protein for several reasons. 132

Some include a reduced amount of essential amino acids, in particular Leucine. Greater excretion rates, proposed digestibility issues and more. However, the author did state that several strategies could be used to improve the anabolic response of a protein based meal primarily derived from plants. Including a higher variety of plant based protein sources, supplementing the amino acids leucine, lysine, and methionine, and eating greater amounts of plant based protein sources. Gorissen et. al agrees that compensating for reduced functional protein content by eating higher quantities of plant based protein is one way to go.133 “

So, the research clearly states that it is possible to ingest enough protein if you are a vegan, but you need to be particularly aware of the types of protein that you are consuming with a strong emphasis on getting in more than normal to overcompensate for any issues in amino acid content, increased removal of this type of protein, and digestive issues associated with vegan protein sources.

The amino acid Leucine is a key regulator in muscle growth via the MTOR pathway and lowered levels of this Branched Chain Amino Acid will cause reduced muscle growth levels, so you may need to supplement here if you are electing to be vegan.

Another issue that was brought to attention compliments of leading researcher Lyle Mcdonald, is the extremely poor digestion rate of vegan based protein sources.

According to the Boirie study chart, our digestive network has an absorption rate of 3.9 grams of Soy Isolate based protein per hour!

This is insanely low compared to meat based sources.

The unfortunate reality is that protein digestion rates are markedly slow to begin with and Soy based products compound this issue and make it even more difficult. Not to mention you have to be very concise with your vegan protein food combing selections if you aren’t consuming a vegan based protein supplement.

Here is another helpful excerpt from my book:

“Let’s first take a look at a limiting factor with regards to vegan based protein sources, comparative to animal based proteins dense with complete protein. When we eat meat, eggs, and other animal sources of protein then there is no need to fret about fulfilling a complete amino acid profile. Plant based sources, on the other hand, lack one essential amino acid and need to be complemented by another source to deliver all amino acids.

For example, plant based protein sources are often guilty of being unable to deliver a single amino acid known as the ‘limiting amino acid.’

“For example, grains’ limiting amino acid is lysine, but grains are high in the amino acid methionine. Therefore, grains match well with legumes, which are low in methionine but high in lysine.”

So greater consumption of complimentary proteins becomes essential to make sure that all potential deficiencies are accounted for, while also giving some extra supply of amino acid’s since plant based proteins are only 85% digestible, compare to animal sources which scale around 95%.” 2

And here are some combination strategies if you are going down the vegan path of nutrition to ensure you get a complete arsenal of amino acids to build all of your proteins….

Plant Based Meal Combo’s:
  • Stir fried vegetables and tofu over rice (soy and grains)
  • Vegetable chili with cornbread (legumes and grains)
  • Oatmeal with nuts and soy milk (grains, nuts, and soy)

  • Spinach salad with vegetables, garbanzo beans, and sunflower seeds (legumes and seeds)
Iron & Creatine Levels

The final concern for vegans trying to optimize their nutrition and athletic development deals with keeping Creatine and Iron levels.

As many of you already know, Creatine phosphate is the primary metabolic driver for literally any activity performed at or very near maximal intensities, and Iron is critical to any aerobic based activity.

But what about the upside to a vegan approach on performance?

This wasn’t directly mentioned in the research, but upon observation it’s obvious that vegan based diets contain higher levels of carbohydrates. This topic is another article series in itself, but if you are interested in how and why carbohydrates are essential for ANY athlete looking to perform better, here is a quick primer series below, and my book goes into even more detail if you are interested.

Vegan diets do a great job of prescribing the proper amounts and types of carbohydrates which many other nutritional approaches lack, so kudos to Vegans on this front!

1. 5 Scientific Reasons to Eat CarbsHERE

2. 5 More Scientific Reasons to Eat CarbsHERE

3. Even More Reasons Why Athletes Should Eat CarbsHERE

Final Thoughts

In closing, there is no magic cure for nutrition for any athlete.

Rather there is a broad range of diets you can experiment with and see how you and your performance responds.

A vegan approach, although more difficult for the few reasons I mentioned above, does seem to work, contrary to what many people say. Also keep in mind that there are indeed absolutes that need to be considered when it comes to nutrition, and once you begin to learn and understand these timeless principles it will make you and your athletes life much easier.

For example, overall energy intake regulates so much of our metabolic system and needs to be set at certain levels for proper functioning. Researchers have dialed down precisely how much protein our body’s can assimilate per meal and per day along with governors in our body that have been developed in the liver and through fullness responses. There are different ways to go about nutrition and some subtle differences between individuals, but then again there seems to be FAR more similarities and that helps simplify the topic to a high degree.

Athletic Nutrition 101

To pick up a copy of Travis’ book, which is priced at a steal given the amount of information he provides and the depth at which he goes into, you can go HERE.

Scientific References

#1-Williams, MH. Vitamin Supplementation and Athletic Performance. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl, 30: 163-191, 1989.

#2-Barr, Susan I, and Candice A Rideout. “Nutritional Considerations for Vegetarian Athletes.”Nutrition, vol. 20, no. 7-8, 2004, pp. 696–703., doi:10.1016/j.nut.2004.04.015.

#3- https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12534-009-0017-y

#4- https://bodyrecomposition.com/nutrition/what-are-good-sources-of-protein-speed-of-digestion-part-2.html/

The post Does Vegan Nutrition Make You a Better Athlete? appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 3/7/19

Thu, 03/07/2019 - 11:54

A day earlier than usual.

I’m on vacation.

Deal with it…1

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th (<– EARLY BIRD rate ending soon).

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Melbourne, Australia: July 20-21st

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to really add value with your assessment process.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

2. Coaching Competency Workshop – Raleigh, NC

I’ll be making my first appearance – ever (<— how’s that possible?) – in the wonderful state of North Carolina in a few weeks to put on my popular Coaching Competency Workshop.

This is a great opportunity for other fitness professionals to gain better insight into my assessment and program design process.

And cat memes.

Can’t forget the cat memes.

Full details (date, location, itinerary, how to register) can be found HERE.

3. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side. Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who I think is one of the best and brightest coaches I know.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

My wife hitting a bench PR of 170 lbs today. Haters may cry afoul about the butt coming off the bench to which I say…puh.

She’s not at a meet; and we’re on vacation…

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Complete Squat Warm Up

Wed, 03/06/2019 - 08:39

Last week I shared an article from strength & conditioning coach, Matthew Ibrahim, appropriately titled Complete Bench Press Warm Up.

You can check it out HERE.

Today Matthew is back covering the squat.

Copyright: ozimician / 123RF Stock Photo

Complete Squat Warm-Up

One of the top priorities to focus on when warming up prior to performing your squat in training is to spend time in the ACTUAL squat position itself.

Most people miss the boat here.

Why?

Well, it’s important to actually groove the pattern with repetition in the warm-up that you plan to load in your training.

Crazy talk, I know.

A handful of other components to address in your warm-up when preparing to squat will be to work on trunk stability, hip mobility, groin flexibility, ankle mobility and upper back (thoracic) extension.

The cool thing about this is that you can work on ALL of those things in the ACTUAL squat position itself in your warm-up, too!

All 8 exercises below provide your body with the opportunity.

1) All Fours Rockback – x10

 

2) Catcher Rockback w/ Toe Turn – x8 each side

 

3) Alternating Spiderman – x5 each side

 

4) Windowpane Squat – x8

 

5) Squat-to-Stand – x5

 

6) Alternating Cossack Squat – x8 each side

 

7) KB Horns-Grip Prying Squat – x30 seconds

 

8) KB Horns-Grip Squat w/ Press – x8 About the Author

Matthew Ibrahim is the Co-Owner & Lead Performance Coach of TD Athletes Edge in Salem, MA.

He has been an invited guest speaker nationally in over 10 U.S. states, which was highlighted by his presentations at Google Headquarters and Stanford University, in addition to guest speaking internationally in Milan, Italy.

His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness, STACK Media and The PTDC. Currently, he is completing his masters degree at Rocky Mountain University with a direct track into their PhD program. He is a big fan of interacting on Instagram and regularly posts about training, performance and recovery.

Follow along HERE

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The Barbell Life Podcast

Mon, 03/04/2019 - 09:31

I had the opportunity to hop onto The Barbell Life Podcast with my man Travis Mash recently.

Copyright: dr911 / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Travis is an amazing coach – he recently posted a video of one of his 15-year old athletes smoking a 450 lb front squat (no big deal) – and I was honored to be invited onto his show to talk some shop.

Amongst other things we chatted about:

  • Having Eric Cressey as a roommate (and what he learned)
  • Why growing a business is sometimes the worst thing
  • How he’s working now based on his plan for the future
  • Why he started a gym even though he said he never wanted to
  • How a good workout should make you feel like Mario
  • and more…

Go HERE to give it a listen.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 3/1/19

Fri, 03/01/2019 - 09:57

Lisa, Julian, and myself are heading down to Florida this weekend for a little vacation.

See ya!

PS: Don’t worry: I’ll have a scattering of blog posts and guest posts all next week lined up. I don’t want you to miss me too much.

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th (<– EARLY BIRD rate ending soon).

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Singapore, Republic of Singapore: July 20-21st

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

NOTE: For the Singapore event you’ll need to use THIS link.

2. Coaching Competency Workshop – Raleigh, NC

I’ll be making my first appearance – ever (<— how’s that possible?) – in the wonderful state of North Carolina this coming March to put on my popular Coaching Competency Workshop.

This is a great opportunity for other fitness professionals to gain better insight into my assessment and program design process.

And cat memes.

Can’t forget the cat memes.

Full details (date, location, itinerary, how to register) can be found HERE.

3. Strategic Strength Workshop – Boston, MA

Luke and I did this workshop last summer in London and figured it’s only fair to bring it State side. Combined we have 30+ years of coaching experience (I.e., one Mike Boyle or Dan John) and this workshop will be two days where we uncover every nook and cranny as it relates to how we assess our clients/athletes and how we best prepare them for the rigors of every day life/sport.

This will be a unique opportunity for people to learn from myself, but especially Luke, who I think is one of the best and brightest coaches I know.

For more information and to register you can go HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

I deadlifted.

At NASA!

Spent 4 hours this morning getting an unofficial private tour of the NASA facilities today courtesy of their training staff.

This is a vid of me deadlifting 300 lb on their contraption that’s on the MIR Space Station. pic.twitter.com/0vl071tTRV

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) February 22, 2019

Instagram

 

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Reverse Nordic Curls. . This is a doozy I stole from @sivan_fagan_fitness who got it from @nick_tumminello (I think) who got it from He-Man (definitely). . A nice way to eccentrically train the quads with accommodating resistance without placing too much strain on the joints. . Started toying around with these myself last week (and with a few clients) and I really dig the “stretch” feeling and ever so slight quad pump at the end. . I’ve been using high(er) reps here: 15-20 more towards the end of a workout after squats or deadlifts. . Cameo appearance by the NT Loop.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Feb 26, 2019 at 5:19am PST

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK A Reminder Why We Coach – Travis Mash

Travis trains some of THE best and strongest lifters in the world.

Listen to him.

5 Great Kettlebell Exercises For Baseball Players – Dan Swinscoe (via Eric Cressey.com

Honestly, these are excellent exercises to do even if you can’t throw or hit a baseball…;o)

What it REALLY Takes to Transform the Body – Brian St. Pierre

Over 1,000,000 data points were used to write this article. And if ANYONE has the data to show for it it’s Precision Nutrition.

Awesome infographics in here as well.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 3/1/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Assessment: Can Your Clients Actually Do What You Want Them to Do?

Thu, 02/28/2019 - 15:11

There’s a lot that needs to be taken into consideration when assessing a new client.

Their unique injury history (past and present), goal(s), training experience, time constraints, equipment availability, even their favorite 90’s tv teen drama (if it’s not Party of Five we can’t be friends)…

…all are taken into account and cross-pollinated with my educational background and experience to ascertain, to the best of my ability, what will be the best course of action to get said individual from Point A1to Point B2 this means becoming  in the most time efficient and and safe manner possible.

Copyright: viacheslavmaksimov / 123RF Stock Photo

 

For all intents and purposes the assessment, at least from my perspective, is an amalgamation of muscle testing, movement screens, table work, and good ol’ fashioned investigative work to see whether or not something shakes free or if any “red flags” exist.

But more importantly, the assessment is a splendid opportunity to set the tone, prove to someone that they’re not “broken,” and to help them find their TRAINABLE MENU.

In short, I often joke that my assessment can be described as follows:

“Can the person standing in front of me do stuff?”

There’s only so much muscle testing, table work, looking at range of motion, and “hmmm’ing” and “ahhhh’ing” any one individual can tolerate before (s)he wants to jump through a pane glass window.

To that end, I prefer to make my assessments more palatable by getting the person standing/sitting in front of me more involved in the process and providing the “facade” (for lack of a better term) that they’re being taken through a pseudo training session.

By having him or her MOVE during their assessment I accomplish a few things:

1) I don’t come across as a creepoid by just staring at them for 60 minutes.

2) I get waaaaaaay more information in terms of movement ability, compensation patterns (if any) that exist, and whether or not certain positions (or loads) exacerbate their symptoms.

Active vs. Passive Assessment

One simple way to do all the above is to differentiate between one’s ability to actively perform a specific movement pattern and to passively do it.

My colleague, Luke Worthington, summarized this point beautifully and succinctly in his presentation for The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox:

“What can THEY do?” = Active Assessment

“What can I do FOR them?” = Passive assessment.

Lets us the squat as an example.

When you watch someone perform a standard bodyweight squat – or loaded – you’re bound to see a bevy of things go awry.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always a shit show.

Every so often I’ll work with someone for the first time, they’ll demonstrate a well executed squat, and I’ll break down crying like the first time I watched Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper perform Shallow in the movie A Star is Born.

I’M NOT CRYING. YOU’RE CRYING.

However, if I’m being honest, this doesn’t happen often.3

Generally speaking there’s always something weird or wonky or twingy whenever I watch someone squat

No one is perfect.

But to that point, I think it’s imperative to differentiate between someone’s ACTIVE ability to do something and their PASSIVE ability to do it.

Watch someone squat and it’s likely you’ll see any one of the following (if not a combination):

  • Knee valgus
  • Excessive rounding of the spine
  • Excessive pronation of the feet
  • Loss of balance
  • A perceived lack of depth (<— which is arbitrary, but if there’s a lot of “effort” to get to a certain depth or it’s just really, really shallow, then that is important to note).

And when we do see any of the above we have a nasty habit of assuming that said individual is dysfunctional, and subsequently end up over corrective exercising them to death.

Fast forward three months (and a cornucopia of hip mobility and ankle dorsiflexion drills) and there’s been little, if any, improvement.

To repeat: Watch someone squat (actively).

That will give you a ton of information.

But don’t stop there; especially if you find they’re having trouble with it.

You should also test them PASSIVELY.

 

Oftentimes, when you add this extra layer of assessment, in a way that’s less aggressive and provides a bit more stability to the system – FYI: HERE‘s another way to do it in a quadruped position – you’ll find that they CAN do what you’re asking them to do.

Why Is This Important?

In the video above I’m taking my training partner, Justin, through a basic (passive) hip scour/hip flexion screen. If he were a client this would follow an active squat assessment.

I’d want to see if his ACTIVE  movement (he’s doing the work) matched his PASSIVE (I’m doing the work). From there I’d want to compare the gap that exists between the two.

I want that gap to be as narrow as possible.

If his active squat was poor yet I re-assessed passively and saw an improvement – I.e., that he could, indeed, access more ROM – then I can surmise with a high degree of certainty that he doesn’t have a micro-penis he is likely not dealing with something more nefarious, like a bony block or musculature issue.

In this scenario I can do my job as a coach.

I can implement the appropriate “correctives” and/or exercise progressions/regressions to help him learn to squat.

His body showed me he can do it passively, so I need to show it how to do it actively.

If, however, there was no improvement when testing him passively, then:

It’s not my job.

1) I’d still work within my scope and train him within the ROM that’s pain free and that he can control.

2) However, I’d also refer out for more diagnostic testing or manual therapy to compliment his iron work.

Take Home Points
  • The assessment shouldn’t be used as a tool to point out every…single…dysfunction someone has.
  • Besides, what presents as “dysfunctional” actively may just be the body turning on the emergency brakes.
  • Also look at PASSIVE movement.
  • Try to narrow the gap between active ROM and passive.
  • If more ROM is present passively, then do what you do best…coach!
  • If ROM is poor (or pain exists) actively AND passively, you may want to consider referring out.
  • Groutfits make my butt look amazing.

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Exercises You Should Be Doing: Reverse Nordic Curl

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 13:34

Anyone who’s visited the Nordic region of the world – generally considered to be Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland – knows they’re known for a few things:

  • Fjords
  • Vikings

And that’s pretty much it.

Copyright: NejroN / 123RF Stock Photo

 

Okay, that’s a bit of dearth representation of all the history, art, food, and culture the region has contributed to our benefit. I mean, there’s also Nordic walking, the Nordic Track, as well as the star of today’s blog post the Nordic Leg Curl.1

The Nordic Leg Curl (also known as the Natural Glute Ham Raise) is an awesome exercise that can be used as a posterior chain builder and strengthener, in addition to, when implemented accordingly, being a fantastic “rehab” exercise with regards to working with someone suffering from chronic hamstring strains.

To the latter point, because the eccentric – or lowering – component of muscular action can be prioritized, it’s just a nice way to overload the hamstrings in a way that’s unique to the mechanism of injury for chronic strains (I.e, the bulk of them generally occur when the hamstrings are eccentrically resisting knee extension).

You can read about them more in THIS article, or watch this video (courtesy of T-Nation and Bret Contreras):

 

Anyway, recently I came across the antithesis of the Nordic Hamstring Curl, and I wanted to share it today because I’ve been playing with it of late in my own training (and with a few clients).

The Reverse Nordic Curl

Who Did I Steal it From? – A few people, actually. Sivan Figan and Nick Tumminello have posted videos of it within the past few weeks, and Meghan Callway was a bit of inspiration as well. She posted a nifty Landmine variation HERE not too long ago.

 

I know, I know…I’m going to rot in YouTube hell for posting a vertical video. May the comment gods show me mercy.

What Does It Do? – I find it’s an excellent way to train the quadriceps eccentrically and to encourage more length in that area. It’s kinda-sorta a more “joint-friendly” variation of a Sissy Squat.

On an aside, from a rehab standpoint, given the bevy of research showcasing the efficacy of SLOW eccentrics on tendon healing & repair, I can see a lot of value for this exercise when working around knee woes.

Key Coaching Cues: Much like Meghan suggests with her Landmine variation, you want to make sure you ensure a “stacked” position throughout the duration of the exercise. Meaning your head, torso, hips, and knees should be “stacked” on top of one another the entire time.

In this case the band across the chest (cameo appearance of the NT Loop, HERE) adds a bit of accommodating resistance – you want to actively resist the aggressive pull of the band on the way down, as well as overcome the pull of the band on the way back up. I find, too, the band provides a bit more kinesthetic feedback to the lifter to better engage his or her’s core.

Slowly lean back making sure to maintain the canister (stacked) position, then use your quads to “pull” yourself back up. I am indifferent with regards to toes plantar or dorsiflexed. I’m sure there’s a nerdy explanation out there as to why one or the other is good or bad, I just can’t think of one.

Besides, Vikings are awesome.

Oh, lastly: I lean more on the idea that this exercise lends itself to a high(er) rep count, in the ballpark of 8-15 repetitions per set. Too, I’ve been tossing them in as an accessory movement towards the end of a squat or deadlift session. Honestly, I think you’ll be surprised by how much of a quad pump you’ll get from these.

Give em a try and let me know what you think.

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Complete Bench Press Warm-Up

Tue, 02/26/2019 - 11:33

Copyright: luckybusiness / 123RF Stock Photo

 

I think one main reason most (not all1) people skip their warm-up is because there’s no rhyme or reason to what they do.

They’ll perform some arm circles here, some thingamabobbers there, do the hokey pokey, turn themselves around, and they’re miraculously “warmed up.”

While something is better than nothing, I do feel the more specific your warm-up is to the task at and you’re about to do – bench press, squat, deadlift, overhead press a centaur – the more “palatable” (not to mention efficient) it’s going to be.

To that end, my good friend and fellow Boston-based coach, Matthew Ibrahim, submitted the first of what will be a 4-part series on how to dial in your warm-up based on the main lift of the day.

Today, it’s the bench press.

Enjoy!

Your bench press warm-up should be short and to the point.

It’s important to spend time priming these main areas: chest, shoulders, rotator cuff, triceps, lats and hips. Remember: the bench press is much MORE than just an upper body exercise.

Most people miss the boat when it comes to working on hip extension (think: bridges, hip thrusts, etc.) in their warm-up prior to bench pressing. Why is this important? Well, it’s important to use stability and tension in both the legs and trunk to your advantage.

You achieve this through maintaining hip extension in your bench press.

Furthermore, if you can successfully anchor the feet down into the ground, use some strong leg drive and stabilize the trunk, you will be able to bench press from a much STRONGER base of support.

Big leg drive = big bench press.

The next step is to target all of those key upper body muscles for a healthy and strong bench press: rotator cuff, triceps and lats. We want to make sure the rotator cuff muscles are ready for overall shoulder health and that the triceps are prepared to assist in arm drive. The lats are crucial in terms of being able to successfully anchor and pin down the upper back area, which forms another STRONG base to drive up from.

Lastly, let’s discuss thoracic extension.

Pure biomechanics folks – please take a DEEP breath and realize that there are ZERO shearing forces going down vertically through the spine here, since the body is positioned in a horizontal set-up on the bench.

Let that sink in.

via GIPHY

Is the upper back “arch” slightly uncomfortable for some folks?

Maybe.

However, I would suggest that only a visibly excessive arch is typically one that might not feel great. A strategic arch that helps the lifter gain leverage is always welcomed for a bigger and healthier bench press, especially from a pure physics and biomechanics standpoint.

All eight exercises below provide your body with the opportunity to warm-up everything labeled above in an efficient and cohesive format.

1) Bridge w/ Alternating Reach – x5 each side

 

2) Yoga Push-Up – x5

 

3) Mini-Band Standing Short Pull-Apart – x8

 

4) Mini-Band Standing Chest Press – x8

 

5) Band Standing Pull-Apart – x10

 

6) Band Standing Tricep Extension – x10 7) Band Standing Straight Arm Pull-Down – x10

 

8) Hands Supported Tall Kneel Rockback – x8

 

About the Author

Matthew Ibrahim is the Co-Owner & Lead Performance Coach of TD Athletes Edge in Salem, MA. He has been an invited guest speaker nationally in over 10 U.S. states, which was highlighted by his presentations at Google Headquarters and Stanford University, in addition to guest speaking internationally in Milan, Italy. His work has been featured in Men’s Fitness, STACK Media and The PTDC. Currently, he is completing his masters degree at Rocky Mountain University with a direct track into their PhD program. He is a big fan of interacting on Instagram and regularly posts about training, performance and recovery.

 

Follow along HERE:

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 2/22/19

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 06:24

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th (<– EARLY BIRD rate ending soon).

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Singapore, Republic of Singapore: July 20-21st

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

NOTE: For the Singapore event you’ll need to use THIS link.

2. Coaching Competency Workshop – Raleigh, NC

I’ll be making my first appearance – ever (<— how’s that possible?) – in the wonderful state of North Carolina this coming March to put on my popular Coaching Competency Workshop.

This is a great opportunity for other fitness professionals to gain better insight into my assessment and program design process.

And cat memes.

Can’t forget the cat memes.

Full details (date, location, itinerary, how to register) can be found HERE.

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

Email from a distance coaching client: “Lately it has felt “easy” to get in, hit all of my reps, and feel good and ready to do so the next day.”

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: EASY training, is GOOD training. Get in, strain a little, hit your reps, leave.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) February 18, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

One factor that always seems to prevent many people from getting healthy is the “Boom or Bust” mentality, which is a theme I learned from @fitnesspainfree recently. . Put simply, this is where someone overloads their “system,” surpasses their pain threshold (by a lot), does this over and over and over again, and never seems to make any progress in terms of improving. . This whole approach keeps the alarm system sensitive as well as pain levels up. They train hard on Monday, are in pain, feel a little better, train hard again on Wednesday, are in pain, and the cycle repeats itself like an episode of Russian Doll. . This, of course, is absurd. Blowing through pain in the gym every chance you get does not earn you a badge of honor. . The key, though, is to TINKER with your pain threshold, make out with it a little bit. . You don’t want to fall into the trap of UNDERLOADING someone and doing too little to challenge them. . With the shoulder for example, exercises like the bench press and kipping pull-ups may be too extreme. They may be the end goal, but at this time they exceed the pain threshold and take far too long to recover from. . However, exercises like push-ups, rows, and landmine presses elicit a smidge of pain (no higher than a 3 out of a scale of 10) and are challenging enough to elicit a training effect. . The person stays under a “3” immediately after their session AND the following day. . THAT’S the sweet spot. . The goal is to increase/improve their pain threshold over time. . Training, when matched with someone’s current ability level, and when it’s not excessive, can be corrective.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Feb 19, 2019 at 10:42am PST

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK The Top 19 Nutrition  Myths of 2019 – Michael Hull (for Examine.com)

This was/is a spectacular article.

I might have to print it out and keep a copy on hand at all times whenever I need to debunk some cra cra nonsense.

How to Tell Your Clients  to Cut the Crap – Lana Sova

A bit of tough love with as smidge of Jedi mind trick fuckery = excellent article from Lana.

Foam Rolling Gone Wrong – Jonathan Watters

This is NOT an anti-foam rolling article.

Relax.

It’s more anti-using spiked lacrosse balls and live grenades to release your piriformis.

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 2/22/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Part II: Correcting the Lower Back and Hips

Thu, 02/21/2019 - 09:05

A few weeks ago my good friend and author of Day by Day: The Personal Trainer’s Blueprint to Achieving Ultimate Success, Kevin Mullins, wrote an introduction of sorts to the state of “corrective exercise” in the fitness industry.

To summate: Stop it. Just stop. People still need to train in order to get better.

He followed that up with a treatise on the shoulders. Today, he’s back to cover the lumbar spine and hips.

Grab a cup of coffee.

This is good.

Copyright: kudoh / 123RF Stock Photo

Part II: Correcting the Lower Back and Hips

In the last article – HERE – we looked at how we would address the issues that occur at the shoulders and thoracic spine. We discovered that optimal shoulder function comes from a healthy scapulohumeral rhythm, a mobile thoracic spine and humerus, and strong scapula and core muscles. In the end we identified common problems and proposed unique exercise solutions that can not only correct issues when they arise, but also strengthen the capacity of the joint altogether.

That followed my opening article in which I discussed my stance on the current state of our industry and how we’ve gone overkill in regard to corrective exercises. You can read that HERE.

Which brings us here to the next installment of the series – a similar dive into the lower back and hip joint, an anatomically different, but physiologically similar region of the body.

 

You’ll discover how lower back pain isn’t simply the lower back, how hip dysfunction or immobility requires more than flexibility and blood flow, and that integrated three-dimensional movements are the key to unlocking the hips and core.

As Shakira sings, “hips don’t lie”.

We are going to dive into the anatomy of the region, the physiology of the segments, and biomechanical implications that must be considered by any professional worth their salt.

We are going to unlock our, and our client’s, potential by adding another five great exercises to the equation too. But first, I want to take a moment to clear the air and amend a point I made in my previous post.

An Amendment on the FMS

In my last article I made a bit of a blunder when I described an issue that I have with the Functional Movement Screen. In my efforts to write a short, and interesting, piece of literature that covers a complex topic I did not effectively communicate my viewpoint on the matter. My claim that “the FMS puts the fear of God into trainers” isn’t quite accurate.

Brett Jones of FMS and I had a call on the matter and enjoyed an outstanding conversation on the FMS, how trainers are using it, and my specific area of concern.

Brett Jones (Note From TG: NEVER make Brett angry. Ever. Just kidding. Brett’s as professional as they come and one of THE best presenters I have ever had the pleasure of learning from. But seriously, don’t feed him past midnight.

He drew to my attention that the FMS, when taught properly and used properly, especially after the level 2 certification, provides trainers a lot of tools to correct and address issues that are present in the screens.

And he is spot on.

In my experience with the Functional Movement Screen, and the literature it publishes, I’ve found tremendous success in identifying, addressing, and correcting flawed patterns. The tools are present for a trainer to succeed.

So, to that end – the FMS itself is not an issue, and in fact, the certifications and resources that Gray (Cook) and Lee (Burton) provide are high on my list of recommended education for trainers. Simply put, much of the responsibility lays on the trainer performing the assessment to ensure they understand what they are screen, why they are doing it, and what it all means regarding the client’s exercise program.

And so, my point is really this:

“The FMS can put the fear of God in trainers who haven’t invested enough time to understand its purpose and nuance. This can be avoided by investing in your education and diving head first into new information.”

Basic Hip and Lower Back Anatomy – Skeletal

When looking at the skeletal anatomy of the spine and hip we find that it is quite simple. There are four major considerations:

  • The thoracic spine – capable of flexion, extension, and rotation. In an ideal world the thoracic spine handles the bulk or rotation and extension of the spine.
  • The lumbar spine – capable of flexion, extension, and rotation. In an ideal world the lumbar spine serves more as a stable base for movement that allows the pelvis to move underneath, and the thoracic spine to move above.
  • The pelvis – capable of anterior tilting (pouring water out of our belly button), posterior tilting (pouring water out of our back) and lateral tilts to either side (pouring water out of our sides).
  • The femurs – capable of internal and external rotation, flexion and extension, as well as abduction and adduction. Each of these movements are necessary to generate the variety of locomotion patterns we execute daily and for the specific movements we perform in training.

The ankle and foot are also capable of impacting health of the hips too, especially in the running community. Issues in these lower joints can cause negative effects to move upwards in the kinetic chain and begin causing negative adaptations in the hip joint or lumbar spine. We will address these correctives in the final part of this series, Hip-Knee-Ankle-Foot, so stay tuned.

For now, simply acknowledging their role in the process is enough.

Under the same principles, the shoulders can also impact the function of the hips. A dysfunction in the shoulders, such as upper cross syndrome, impacts the T-spine, which disrupts the lumbar spine and pelvis. Improving the health of the shoulder joint can help alleviate the poor postures that stress the lumbar spine and allow for a better functioning pelvis that experiences the ranges of tilt patterns because the lack of tightness in the lower spine. The scapula specifically should be considered (and will be in our correctives).

Basic Anatomy of Spine and Hips – Muscular

There are muscles that could be mentioned in this section that run very deep in the body and have very specific function.

The multifidus for example is a muscle that runs along the spine and has an important function; yet, our training practices aren’t exactly targeting it.

It is always good to know these types of muscles, such as the quadratus lumborum, obterus group, gemelli1 , and the aforementioned multifidus. Still though, this article is meant for our day-to-day efforts and most trainers simply don’t need to consider these things

There are some major players that you need to know though:
  • The abdominal wall, specifically the transverse abdominus, rectus abdominus, internal and external obliques, and psoas muscles. These muscles flex, extend, and rotate the spine and some act on the hip as flexors.
  • The gluteus maximum, minimus, and medius. These muscles act on the hip as external rotators and hip extensors.
  • The four muscles of the quadriceps, three muscles of the hamstrings, the tensor fascia latae as well as your abductors and adductors all act on the hip and knee joint. These muscles drive motion of the femur in the hip socket in a variety of ways that are unique to each pattern. In the next section we’ll isolate the specific motions and what muscles are involved for bookkeeping purposes.

The erector spinae, the quadratus lumborum, lattisimus dorsi, and lower trapezius muscles function on the thoracic and lumbar spine from the posterior of the body. These muscles are critical for putting the T-spine in the right place and stabilizing the L-spine during movement.

Basic Movement Physiology

Knowing what is in play is only half of the battle.

Note From TG: Goddamit Kevin. Rule #239 of being a nerd is that whenever the phrase “only half the battle” is used it must always be followed with GOOOO, Joe.

In fact, knowing the structures and muscles involved is irrelevant if we don’t understand how they create movement in the body. To avoid blowing this article out into a thirty-thousand-word book on physiology we are going to have a down and dirty list of functions and the muscles that do the work.

I implore you to read and learn more about the muscular physiology that drives these movements from other resources. Play with things at the gym and try to “feel” what you can. I felt obligated to include this information in an honest effort to create the best free guide to hip correctives you’ll find. What you do with your education from there now rests in your hands.

  • Spinal Flexion – rectus abdominus, psoas major
  • Spinal Extension – quadratus lumborum, erector spinae, latissimus dorsi,
  • Spinal Rotation or Lateral Flexion – Any of the core muscles mentioned above when functioning unilaterally. If one side of the rectus abdominus fires, then you’ll see lateral flexion and some rotation. Other rotators include the internal and external obliques and serratus anterior.
  • Spinal Stability – transverse abdominus, multifidi, all muscles above fired isometrically
  • Hip Flexion – psoas major, iliacus, rectus femoris, sartorius, tensor fasciae latae, adductor longus and brevis, gracilis, pectineus. Some fibers of the glute minimus and medius engage here.
  • Hip Extension – glute maximus, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus. Some fibers of the glute medius engage too.
  • Hip Abduction – the glute maximus, minimus, and medius as well as the tensor fasciae latae. The piriformis functions when the hip is at 90 degrees.
  • Hip Adduction – adductor longus, brevis, magnus, pectinius and gracilis
  • Hip Internal Rotation – tensor fasciae latae, adductor longus, brevis, and magnus, pectineus, sections of glute medius and minimus
  • Hip External Rotation – piriformis, gemellus superior and inferior, obturator internus and externus, glute maximus, minimus, medius, psoas major, sartorius, quadratus femori

Now, I realize that this list reads like the appendix of a textbook, but don’t get lost in the noise. Notice the tremendous amount of overlap. You’ll see that the glutes have multiple functions as do the adductors and the TFL.

This sort of information at least shows us what the major players are going to be.

The Fascial Integration

We must also give attention to the intricate layers of fascia that are found in the core, hip, and thigh. Whether we address it through myofascial release or integrated non-linear movements, we must give it attention.

As noted in the previous edition, fascia is a highly communicative tissue that can arrange our body and its structures at a speed that is closer to the speed of light or sound than it is the speed of our cognition.

Fascia adapts, positively or negatively, to the stress placed upon it. Sit in a chair all day? Well, your fascia is likely bound up and dehydrated. Exist in a world where yoga, integrated movements, and sports are a major focus? Chances are you have healthy fascia.

The utilization of non-linear movements is one of the best ways of to improve fascia.

The Major Issues

The issues that occur at the spine and hips are almost always interconnected. A client could deal with just one or all of them.

Chances are that you’ll deal with all of these issues in some point in your career.

It is important to read and learn each of these as their own issue while also understanding that a client could show up to you with a Royal Flush of dysfunction. Luckily, the correctives we’ll discuss at the end are Swiss army knives – they are great for everyone.

1) Desk Posture

Once again, our lovely desk posture makes an appearance on the list. It is important to acknowledge the impact that upper cross syndrome (UCS) can have on core function, and thus hip function. If someone is slouched over with internally rotated shoulders, a kyphotic thoracic spine, and weak abdominal muscles, then we can very likely ascertain that their hips aren’t going to function optimally.

The lack of thoracic extension, poor function of the core muscles, and the overextension of the erector spinae and trapezius muscles dramatically impact the way someone can function up and down the length of their spine.

Ironically, many of these same flaws are also present in lower cross syndrome (LCS), which involves the muscles of the lumbar spine, abdominal wall, and the hips. Dysfunction caused from sitting all day can make the muscles involved weak (glutes and abdominals) or tight (muscles of the lower back and the hip flexors).

When a client presents these issues, especially together, it can be hard to prescribe any challenging exercises because their entire torso is locked from neck to butt. It is important to spot these issues early and begin implementing a corrective strategy that gets that client on the right path.

Thankfully, we’ll have some exercises below that will be great for both UCS and LCS issues.

2) Excess Anterior Tilt

When the pelvis is stuck in its “tipped forward” position for too long there are issues that can present themselves at rest and during exercise. In fact, continuing to exercise, especially with exercises that promote even more tilt, can cause damage to the vertebral discs.

In this position the erector spinae and QL are pulled tight while the anterior core is left in a lengthened and overstretched state. This sort of weakness in the abdominal wall makes optimal hip function harder to achieve and can lead to injuries at the spine.

Another unfortunate consequence is the overextension of the spine, or flaring of the rib cage, which can create the appearance of a midsection that is holding excess bodyfat. This bulge is simply a result of poor posture and would disappear once the pelvis is set back to neutral.

It should be noted that though that the pelvis should be able to anterior tilt through a full range of motion – it just shouldn’t be stuck that way.

3) Excess Posterior Tilt

The exact opposite of anterior tilt is the posterior version, which is when the pelvis is tilted back too far. This “belt-buckle to nose” condition is often found in individuals with lower cross issues since their abdominal walls are weak and their hip flexors overactive.

Image Credit: precisionmovement.com

This position pulls the glutes completely in line with the body and flattens out the lumbar spine by ridding of the natural curvature of that region. This is not only “less attractive” due to the appearance of having no ass, but it also dangerous to load someone who can not achieve even low levels of hip extension and hip flexion. When someone is stuck here – they effectively have no idea of how to move their hips.

The corrective strategy here requires specific interventions that improve the awareness of the client as well as the strength of the glutes, hamstrings, abdominal wall, and even latissimus dorsi muscles. Additional efforts can be spent to improve external rotation of the femur and abduction too.

Once again, the hip should be able to posterior tilt during some movements and to help create stability.

4) Sticky Femurs (no, this isn’t technical)

One of my favorite terms for someone lacking the ability to rotate their femurs in their hip sockets (internally or externally) is “sticky femurs.” What I mean by this statement is nothing more than the image of having gum stuck in the joint that prevents optimal movement.

This is a combination of a lack of mobility in the joint due to not experiencing enough movement variation. Very active people could have “sticky” hips if they don’t cross train or experience movements in all three planes. Many “big” lifters struggle with external and internal rotation at the hip.

The other side of the coin is weak external or internal rotators that are incapable of owning the position that we put the femur in with excellent mobility. This is very common in dancers, those who practice yoga, or others who don’t actively strengthen these muscles. Detrained individuals fall into this category too. The mobility is there, but strength at end ranges is not.

5) Poor Coordination

Sometimes the issue is simply getting people to start exercising more and feeling their body move in a variety of ways. Frequent exercise, especially when done with coordination as the end goal, can improve a lot of functions of the hips on its own. It is amazing just how bad things can get when someone is rusty or de-conditioned.

Of course, you’ll need to spend time mobilizing and strengthening the various elements of the hip joint, but you’ll likely see increased output by simply exposing clients to new forms of movement and exercise. Any training program that features unilateral, contralateral, ipsilateral, and bilateral movements in all three planes is ideal.

6) Weak Core

Lastly, poor strength in the core itself can cause serious issues. It can derail any segment of the body since the primary function of the core itself is force transduction – AKA – translate forces from the limbs to each other and to the external environment.

A strong core is capable of remaining stable as the limbs create and accepts force. We must ensure our clients can move through all three planes of motion, with optimal function at the joints, with a variety of loads and challenges, because they possess a strong core. For this reason, most of our programming for the core should emphasize creating, and maintaining, tension.

The Corrective Exercises

Once we dive into the corrective strategies it is important to acknowledge that all these movements can be used to help with each issue. All these movements in some way will impact the ability of the client to succeed in overcoming hip dysfunction.

Each are also excellent in isolation as warmups, isolated correctives, and “fillers” between primary movements (as Tony often discusses). The Sumo deadlift, obviously, is a primary movement that should occur early in a program, especially if we are loading it up.

1. Glute Bridge Pullovers

 

This simple variation of the traditional glute bridge accomplishes two major things:

  1. Drives all the major benefits of the traditional glute bridge
  2. Incorporates lat tension into the glute bridge – a key point for deadlifts and squats

You can strengthen the lats, glutes and abdominals while also addressing coordination issues. This exercise can help with every problem listed above except for “sticky femurs.”

2. Foot Elevated Glute Bridges

 

Another glute bridge variation that can dramatically improve the strength of the hip muscles (both flexors and extensors). By elevating the feet, you can increase the range of motion you’ll experience and improve your ability to drive into the bridge.

The key is to manage the lumbar spine and avoid overextension. The sort of exercise is great for strengthening the core, improving pelvic tilt issues, addressing coordination, and improving posture.

3. Cossack Squats

 

A highly advanced variation of a lateral squat – the Cossack squat asks for an incredible amount of external rotation from the femurs. It targets the muscles that drive abduction and hip flexion and extension while moving through the frontal plane.

You can use your arms to help counterweight your body as you go down and find depth. Ease into the motion and look to improve your depth and mobility over time. This is an advanced exercise that can be regressed to holding onto something like a squat rack to help with weight transfer.

4. Copenhagen Side Planks

 

For some reason we love naming exercises after places – this side plank variation being no different. However, this is one of the most incredible ways of working the adductor grouping without needing to add external load. You’ll also integrate your internal rotators and the muscles of the rotary core. This sort of combo lends itself to improving strength and coordination.

Your goal should be to squeeze the bottom leg towards the bottom of the bench without rolling over and dumping the tension in the side plank.

Drive yourself to maintain an ideal side plank posture the entire time.

5. Loaded Marching Carries

 

Loaded carries are a movement pattern all their own. Few things can rival the simple effectiveness of grabbing heavy weights and walking around with great posture. This variation though, greatly improves the function of the hips by incorporation intentional hip flexion through the march.

Focus on driving the knees perfectly vertical, play with your speeds, and always emphasize a tight upper back, strong core, and depression of the scapula.

This exercise addresses every single problem mentioned above.

6. Sumo Stance Deadlifts

 

The validity of a medicine is always in its dose. Sumo stance deadlifts are one of the best corrective exercises you could program assuming:

  • You or your client are ready for the stress of loaded hinges
  • You choose the appropriate version for where you are in your training routine
  • You have earned the right to be here by exercising pain free with less aggressive modalities.

The reason that the sumo stance is so great is that you are literally working all of the muscles of the thigh, hip, core, and upper back at the same time. The external rotation and abduction of the femurs improves the strength of the muscles involved while also helping clients discover new mobility and neuromuscular coordination. This pattern is especially useful for those who spend most of their days sitting.

7. Loaded Beast to World’s Greatest Hip Opener

 

An interesting cross between a traditional mobility exercise and one of the loading phases in Animal Flow – this is one of my go to exercises for increasing the dynamic ability of my clients.

This version allows you to go fast or slow depending upon skill set while also loading the hips through a full flexion and extension cycle, improving coordination, and integrating the upper body and lower body together in a mobility movement.

You can use this as a “energy system” filler if you so choose (and your client is ready).

BONUS: 8. Hinge Position Face Pull

A lot of clients need help discovering how to hinge. Those same clients also struggle with maintaining tension in their cores and lats too. This exercise combines an active movement of the shoulders (great for shoulder health) with a passive hip hinge to improve core and hip strength.

Add this into any of your programs as a variation of the face pull that challenges your clients do more than just yank on the cable.

Wrapping it Up

Your ability to improve your client’s function around their hips depends on your ability to address the mobility and stability needs of the segment while also ensuring they are getting enough of a training stimulus to cause change. Understanding the nuances of the anatomy and physiology is a critical step in developing progressive programs that correct issues and cause a training effect.

The final part of the series will discuss the relationship of the hip-knee-and ankle.

The post Part II: Correcting the Lower Back and Hips appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Boom or Bust: Why You’re Always Hurt

Wed, 02/20/2019 - 15:35

I work with hurt people for a living.

It’s not uncommon for people to seek out a coach or trainer because an exercise doesn’t feel right or because something – a shoulder, a knee, lower back, their soul perhaps – routinely hurts and they can’t seem to get out of their own way.

That’s where I come in to save the day.

Most of the time.

To fix someone’s squat technique and to maybe (probably) give him or her a reality check.

Copyright: france68 / 123RF Stock Photo

Boom or Bust

This is a term I stole from a friend of mine, Dan Pope of Champion Physical Therapy & Performance, and to a larger degree has its roots from a presentation I watched him do centered around the conversation of understanding shoulder pain.1

“Boom or Bust” refers to the person who handles their business as follows:

Train/Overload –> Do a lot –> To the point where it becomes painful –> Get pissed off, becomes upset, is inconsolable, and inevitably increase their volume of ice cream and Julia Roberts’ movies –> Feels better –> Repeat –> What an asshole.

I’m sure many of you reading – whether the above sequence of events describes you or some of your clients – can commiserate.

It can all be summarized using the following graph:

Again, props to Dan Pope. I essentially drew his graph, but added a little Tony LOLs.

What this depicts is a scenario and approach that keeps the alarm system sensitive as well as pain levels up. They train hard on Monday and hit their bench pretty aggressively, of course.

A day or two passes, the shoulder feels okay, and they decide to test the waters again and perform a bunch of high-rep push jerks. Another day or two passes, the shoulder starts to feel, normal again, and since they have zero fucks to give, decide it would be a swell idea to perform kipping pull-ups paired with handstand push-ups for AMRAP on broken glass.

All they do is perpetually plow through their pain threshold and the cycle continues over and over and over again like an episode of Russian Doll.

This, of course, is absurd, and makes zero sense.

Conversely, what also makes zero sense is the opposite approach…

…UNDER-loading, over corrective exercising people to death, or worse, doing nothing at all.

I’m not dissing the corrective component. Depending on how sensitive someone’s pain threshold is, we may very well have to resort to a myriad of side lying external rotations, arm-bars, and band work.

The key to improving pain, though, particularly with the long game in mind, is to elicit a smidge (key word: SMIDGE) of it during training. You want to tease it, buy it a drink, make out with it a little bit.

If you want to elicit change, you need to move. When we move, we induce something called mechanotransduction, which is just nerd speak for “tissue begins to heal.”

Pain, when DOSED ACCORDINGLY, can be beneficial during exercise. When we push into a little pain there’s generally better short-term results than if not. Think of it like this:

There’s a line in the graph above labeled “pain threshold.” On a scale of 1-10 (1 = no biggie, I got this and a 10 = holy shit, a panther just latched onto my carotid), exercise should hover in the 2-3 realm.

In this case, the person can tolerate things like push-up, landmine, and row variations.

 

  • When (s)he perform those exercises, the pain level never exceeds a “3.”
  • When (s)he’s done exercising, along with the hours after, the pain level never exceeds a “3.”
  • The following day, the pain never exceeds a “3,” and in an ideal situation is back down to baseline, which is a “1.”

That’s the sweet spot and what we’re after from a managing pain standpoint. We’re doing juuuust enough to elicit a training effect, playing footsie with the pain threshold, but avoiding any boom or bust scenario where we place commonsense ahead of our ego.

And then, over time, the graph looks like this:

I’m an idiot. That arrow pointing up should be labeled “Improvement in Pain.”

The pain threshold slowly creeps higher and higher, and before long, push-jerks, bench pressing, and fighting Jason Bourne ain’t no thang.

Training (with weights), when matched with someone’s current ability level, and when dosed effectively, can be corrective.

The post Boom or Bust: Why You’re Always Hurt appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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5 Reasons to Consider Purchasing The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 16:21

Admittedly I’m a bit biased since my name is attached to it, but The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox is the shit. Pulitzer Prize worthy in fact.

Okay, I’m really biased.

Here are FIVE quick-n-dirty reasons you should consider purchasing it.

1) I’m Awesome

Lets be real: You didn’t think I’d attach my name to something sub-par did you?

Pffffft, whatever.

I mean, this isn’t season two of Stranger Things or, I don’t know, whomever Carrie ended up dating after she broke up with Aidan.1

But just so that I don’t come across as a total pompous a-hole, every person involved with this project is an established fitness professional with years of experience under his or her’s belt.

In fact, I just counted all the years up and it comes to 1,000.2

Every…single…person has at least 10+ years experience in the health/fitness industry and with that, 10+ years of mistakes, successes, hindsight, things they’d do differently, things they’d do the same, not to mention an absurd number of protein shaker bottles left in their gym bag for a week too long.

The Toolbox came to fruition because we saw an opportunity to help other fitness professionals improve and grow their business; to tackle common industry pitfalls and traps, save time scouring the internet for answers, and foster a scenario where you build a successful career with integrity.

2) There’s a Little Something For Everyone

As can be expected with a resource such as this, The Toolbox goes into the weeds on topics such as program design, assessment, why Tony incessantly posts pictures of his cat online, and breaking down exercise technique.

Sam Spinelli’s presentation on “Everything Squats, Knees, & Hips” is outstanding. And if Luke Worthington’s presentation on assessment doesn’t make you swoon, his British accent will.

However, what I feel makes this resource special is that it includes a little bit of everything. I don’t know about you, but I can only handle so many hours of any one topic before I want to jump through a pane glass window.

The only exception(s) would be 1) breaking down and ranking Jason Bourne fight scenes and 2) bacon.

Here you get 17 hours of content, albeit all bundled up in a hodge-podge of diverse topics – everything mentioned above in addition to presentations on Programming For Pull-Ups, Understanding Flexion & Extension Based Back Pain, How to Write Stellar Fitness Content, Improving Overhead Mobility, Finding Your Ideal Client, and Core & Pelvic Floor Lifting Considerations.

What’s more, Dr. Lisa Lewis’s presentations on Negative Self Talk and How to Increase Motivation are the two wild cards, in my opinion, that provide a ton of value. Like it or not, if you’re a personal trainer or coach, half of what you do entails psych0logy and the “soft” skills of coaching.

3) It Isn’t JUST Dudes Talking

Nine industry experts are involved with this resource.

Four are women.

I’m sorry, but that’s a HUGE deal for me and it’s pretty fuckin cool.

via GIPHY

4) Go At Your Own Pace and Earn Continuing Ed Credits

The Trainer’s Toolbox is an online resource that you can view at your own pace. There’s no time requirement to complete it, so whether you want to binge watch everything in two days or watch a little here and a little there…you do you.

Moreover, when complete (and you send in your exam) you can earn 1.7 continuing education credits via the NSCA. This is something you need to stay on top of every two years, and if it’s tough for you to travel to attend workshops and seminars this is a convenient way to meet those requirements.

5) We’re Planning Sequels

I think.

I’m like 90% sure this is the plan.3

But unlike The Matrix sequels these won’t suck donkey balls.

The advantage here is that with each subsequent iteration you get an even further glimpse into what all of us are currently thinking and doing. What will we have changed our stance on? What new things will we have learned?

Will Sarah win Kumite in 2020?

You’ll just have to wait….

6) BONUS: You Can Save $100 OFF the Regular Price

The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox is currently on sale at $100 off the regular price, but it only last through this Sunday (2/17) at midnight.

Only a few more days to take advantage.

—> Go HERE <—

The post 5 Reasons to Consider Purchasing The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 2/15/19

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 08:46

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Singapore, Republic of Singapore: July 20-21st

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

NOTE: For the Singapore event you’ll need to use THIS link.

2. Coaching Competency Workshop – Raleigh, NC

I’ll be making my first appearance – ever (<— how’s that possible?) – in the wonderful state of North Carolina this coming March to put on my popular Coaching Competency Workshop.

This is a great opportunity for other fitness professionals to gain better insight into my assessment and program design process.

And cat memes.

Can’t forget the cat memes.

Full details (date, location, itinerary, how to register) can be found HERE.

EARLY BIRD rate ($50 off regular price) ends THIS weekend (2/17).

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

When performing Prone Y’s/Prone Trap Raises, a subtle tweak that’ll make things feel better is to adopt a thumbs up position (bottom vid).This allows for more external rotation and opens up the acromion space. pic.twitter.com/IWSjQL3B86

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) February 14, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Here’s a little doozy I made up as part of @lilew13 workout today. . Hanging Psoas March. . Start from a dead hang and then pull your shoulder blades into your back pocket and assume the Hollow Position (feet out in front, not straight down. Why? Because I said so. And because you’re less apt to crank through the lower back this way. And because it promotes more anterior core recruitment, better alignment, and because I said so). . With a band looped around the feet, bring one knee towards the chest in a CONTROLLED manner. Try to eliminate as much swaying as possible. . Perform 5-8 reps per side. . This is a fantastic core exercise, in addition to scapular stability and a psoas strengthening thingamabobber (which is a muscle, despite being short due to people sitting a lot at desks, can also be weak because many people never train above 90 degrees of hip flexion). . Lisa’s pretty badass, so I wouldn’t use this drill with stark beginners. Instead I’d start with them lying on their backs on the floor performing the same marching pattern. . However, if you’re looking for a challenging exercise give this one a test drive.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Feb 11, 2019 at 10:27am PST

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox – A lot of Smart People

– 9 industry leaders.

– 17 total hours of content (tackling issues that every trainer/coach can commiserate with).

– 1.7 CEUs available.

I’m really proud to be a part of this resource which is designed to help build and improve other fitness professional’s businesses. Whether you’re a commercial gym trainer, a strength coach, physical therapist, a gym owner, an industry veteran, or new, you’re bound to learn something from this resource that will help separate you from the masses.

The launch sale ends THIS WEEKEND (2/17), so you have to hurry if you want to take advantage of  it…HERE

Master Your Kettlebell Swing – Matthew Ibrahim

There are a lot of moving parts to mastering the KB swing.

My boy Matt breaks it down step-by-step to make it less likely everyone’s eyes will bleed when they see you swing….;o)

Heart Rate Variability for Athletes – Zach Long

I’ll admit that HRV is a gap in my coaching repertoire.

This was an interesting and to the point article by Zach.

 

The post Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 2/15/19 appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Individualizing Your Squat Stance

Thu, 02/14/2019 - 08:59

I’ve often championed the notion that there’s “no such thing as textbook technique.”

How we’re taught to execute certain exercises in a textbook often won’t translate to the real world because, well, we don’t live in textbooks.

This is a theme that’s hit on several times in The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox. Sam Spinelli, one of the contributors, was kind enough to share a bit of an amuse bouche from his presentation “All Things Squats, Knees, and Hips” with everyone today.

To check out the full presentation, as well as contributions from eight other renowned industry leaders, go HERE for more information.

Copyright: leaf / 123RF Stock Photo

Individualizing Your Squat Stance

Humans are these incredibly awesome, adaptable, and diverse creatures.

Within our awesomeness, over time we have adapted to have a diverse set of unique features in our anatomy that provides for a wide range of movement from person to person. This is something that we did not readily acknowledge for a long time and tried to fit people into square holes.

The squat is a perfect example of this topic.

For such a long time it has been advocated to squat with your toes forward and perfectly hip width apart. The unfortunate thing is that this limits a significant majority of people from being able to squat comfortably – or to an appreciable depth.

While some people may be able to do so with practice and working on range of motion, for a vast majority it is just not realistic due to their bony anatomy.

 As we examine the ankle, knee, and hip, we can see that there is significant variation within the bones forming them and the resulting joints.

For example, at the hip we have an acetabulum that can vary in depth of which will impact how much motion a set sized femoral head can have. This will impact the capacity of motion for hip range between individuals, leading to diverse squat stances already. When we begin to layer on the other ways our anatomy differs, it compounds and leads to a breadth of variations in how people may squat.

How Should I Squat Then?

There isn’t a set stance that will accommodate everyone – some people will do well with a hip width stance and slight toe out, others may do better with a narrower stance and feet directly forward. Finding what works best for you can be a challenge at first and require some experimentation.

To help expedite the process, try out these four methods:

1) Find Your Squat Stance – Standing

 

2) Find Your Squat Stance – Supported

 

3) Find Your Squat Stance – Seated

 

4) Find Your Squat Stance – Kneeling

 

The goal with each is to start with feet together and progress foot/knee width. You will find that one width generally feels better than the others, that’s the one to stick with for now. Then you can start playing around with foot/knee angle and continue experimenting.

This will get you a great head start on your squat stance and making it unique to you.

Two additional details – you may find your stance more comfortable with your feet not symmetrical and you may find that your stance changes with time. These things are normal for many people.

Did I Just Blow Your Mind?

This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of stuff I cover in my presentation “All Things Squats, Knees, and Hips” in the Complete Trainers’ Toolbox, an online resource that became available this week that also features presentations from eight other industry professionals – including Tony Gentilcore, Dean Somerset, Dr. Lisa Lewis, Alex Kraszewski, Kellie Davis, Meghan Callaway, Dr. Sarah Duvall, and Luke Worthington..

It includes 17 total hours of content covering a wide range of topics every health/fitness professional is bound to relate with. It’s on sale this week at a significant discount, but only until Sunday, February 17th at midnight.

Go HERE for more information.

The post Individualizing Your Squat Stance appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Struggling to Excel at Pull-ups? These Commonly Made Mistakes May Be Playing a Role.

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 08:32

If I want to learn more about astrophysics I listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson.

If I want to learn more about how to to be jacked while rocking a bowl cut I listen to He-Man.

Moreover, if I want to learn about or become a legit badass at pull-ups, my go to expert is Meghan Callaway. She’s a straight-up gangster when it comes to pull-ups and pull-up programming. 

With the release of The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox this week, of which Meghan and myself are a part of (along with seven other health/fitness professionals), we felt it important to give people a bit of insight as to what kind of information they can learn from this resource.

Meghan goes into the weeds on anything and everything regarding programming for the pull-up and today she offers a little insight on some commonly made mistakes people make.

Enjoy

ALSO: The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox is on sale this week at $100 off the regular price. 

Copyright: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Are You Committing These Mistakes?

Countless people of all genders have the goal of being able to perform one or many pull-ups. Yet it is no secret that most people struggle to execute a single strict pull-up, and this includes many elite athletes.

Sam Bennett, the number one draft pick in the 2014 NHL draft, made the news when he failed to perform a single pull-up at the NHL draft combine.

So the inability to excel at pull-ups definitely isn’t limited to the general population, or purely beginners. Most people fail to conquer pull-ups, not because they are physically incapable, but because they are making some key mistakes.

I have great news for you.

This can be rectified.

Case in point, shortly after Sam Bennett bombed his pull-ups in the NHL draft combine, with some proper training, he banged out 11 reps.

Note From TG: I actually wrote an article a few years ago on the reaction to people giving Sam Bennett grief about not being able to perform a pull-up initially. You can read it HERE.

In this article I am going to discuss FIVE key mistakes that are preventing an abundance of people from excelling at pull-ups.

Mistake #1: Relying on the Arms to Perform the Movement

When pull-ups are being executed correctly, the shoulder blades, not the arms, should be initiating the movement. Instead of using the muscles in the mid and upper back to perform the bulk of the movement, a myriad of people rely on their arms.

To be clear, while the muscles in the arms will play a role, they should only be assisting the muscles in the back, not performing the majority of the work.

During the initial phase of the movement, and as your body is traveling towards the bar, you want to draw each shoulder blade in towards your spine and down towards your opposite hip (depression, retraction, downward rotation), not pull with your arms.

During the eccentric phase of the movement, rather than keeping your shoulder blades pinned, a mistake that plagues many individuals and can again cause them to rely on their arms to execute the movement, your shoulder blades should perform the reverse movements and should move away from your spine and away from your opposite hip (elevation, protraction, upward rotation).

As you can see, the ability to control the movement of your shoulder blades is a key component of being able to perform pull-ups.

Solution

The scapula pull-up is a really useful pull-up specific regression as it teaches you how to initiate the movement with your shoulder blades instead of pulling with your arms. This exercise is also specific to pull-ups as it requires you use the same body positioning, and it helps improve grip strength.

A few key points:

  • Initiate the movement by drawing your shoulder blades in towards your spine and down towards your opposite hip (retraction, depression, downward rotation).
  • In the top position, pause for a brief count.
  • Perform the eccentric component with complete control.
  • During the lowering/eccentric portion of the movement, your shoulder blades should perform the reverse movements as they did during the concentric component, and should move away from your spine and away from your opposite hip (protraction, elevation, upward rotation).
  • For the duration of the movement, your elbows should remain in a fixed position and should not bend at all. All of the movement should occur via the shoulder blades.

 

Mistake #2: Inability to Maintain the Proper Body Positioning

 This might surprise you, but if you hope to perform pull-ups as efficiently as possible, your entire body must function as a synchronized unit.

Pull-ups are not just an upper body movement.

If you are not able to maintain the proper body positioning, and in order to do so your lumbo-pelvic region and lower body must remain in a relatively fixed position for the duration of the movement, you will struggle.

Your path to the bar will likely be longer and less efficient as you will be more prone to swinging, and you will likely be forced to move unnecessary deadweight to and from the bar. This is not conducive to optimal pull-up performance. Keeping your head, torso, and hips in a stacked position, something I often liken to a canister, is extremely important. Proper breathing, bracing, rib positioning, and glute engagement are crucial. In terms of your lower body, you want to fully extend your knees and contract your quadriceps, cross one foot over the other, and dorsiflex your feet.

Solution

The dead bug, and its many variations, is one of my go-to exercises for improving lumbo-pelvic stability.

This exercise, which can accommodate people of most fitness levels and abilities, trains your anterior core muscles to generate the requisite levels of tension needed to perform pull-ups efficiently. This versatile exercise also trains your muscles to resist the extension of the spine, and this is an area where many people labour. When heaps of people perform pull-ups, it is extremely common to see their ribcage flaring and lower back hyperextending. Dead bugs will help resolve these issues.

A few key points:

  • For the duration of the exercise, keep your head, torso and hips in a stacked position. Keep your ribcage down, and do not allow your lower back to hyperextend. In other words, maintain the canister position.
  • As you initiate each rep and lower the opposite arm and leg towards the floor, steadily exhale, and brace your anterior core muscles as hard as you can.
  • Start out with your knees bent at a 90 degree angle and maintain this position for the duration of the movement. Only extend your knees (and perform more advanced variations) once you’ve mastered the movement with your knees bent, not before.

Here is an innovative and extremely effective dead bug variation you can try.

 

Mistake #3: Lack of Specificity

Are you spending endless hours training yet are still unable to execute one or more pull-ups?

The exercises you are performing might not be specific enough to pull-ups.

With your pull-up training, you need to perform exercises that develop pull-up specific mechanics and pull-up specific body positioning. Pull-up regressions develop these key components, and serve as great stepping stones towards being able to bang out one or many unassisted pull-ups. In terms of body positioning, exercises like hollow body holds, dead bugs, and hanging leg raises help you learn how to develop and also maintain proper pull-up specific body positioning.

Some common culprit exercises that many people believe will help their pull-up performance, yet have a relatively low carryover as they are not specific enough to pull-ups, include lat pull-downs, biceps curls, and machine assisted pull-ups.

These are just a few of many exercises I could list. The fact I named machine assisted pull-ups as one of these exercises might surprise you, so I will discuss this in my next point.

Mistake #4: Relying on Machine Assisted Pull-ups and Band Assisted Pull-ups

In most cases, I am not a fan of machine assisted pull-ups.

At least, I strongly believe there are many better options.

While machine assisted pull-ups do allow you to focus on scapular movement, so this is one benefit of the exercise, due to the fact you are kneeling on a pad, your body is in a completely different position to when you are performing regular pull-ups, and you don’t need to generate and maintain full body tension.

In essence, the need for pull-up specific body positioning and lumbo-pelvic stability are almost entirely removed from the overall equation. When it comes to training for actual pull-ups, there are plenty of other pull-up regressions and accessory exercises that are much more specific to actual pull-ups, and will have a vastly greater carryover to your pull-up performance.

Now when it comes to band assisted pull-ups, if they are implemented and execute correctly, and at an appropriate time in your training program, they can have a positive impact.

However, an abundance of people make the mistake of training for pull-ups by relying purely on band assistance, and they omit performing all of the other extremely important pull-up specific regressions.

With band-assisted pull-ups, the band provides the help in the bottom position of the movement, and this is when most people do not need the most assistance. Another key issue with band assisted pull-ups, the band makes it easy to disregard proper body positioning, and generating the requisite levels of tension around the spine, hips, and lower body.

Due to all of the above, when many people eliminate the band and attempt to perform regular pull-ups, they flounder.

Before you introduce band assisted pull-ups to your training program, you should have already developed the proper pull-up specific technique, the ability to control the movement of your shoulder blades and shoulders, and the ability to generate the requisite levels of tension and pull-up specific body positioning.

In short, when you are utilizing band assistance, it is imperative that your form is identical to when you are performing regular unassisted pull-ups. Also, you want to use as little assistance as needed, but as much as necessary so you can perform 100% of your reps with impeccable form.

 

Mistake #5: Insufficient Grip Strength

While this kind of goes without saying, if you cannot support your bodyweight from a hanging position, your ability to perform pull-ups will suffer. An insufficient grip plagues many people of all fitness levels and abilities, not just beginners.

Adding some grip specific exercises to your training program will positively impact your overall ability to perform pull-ups.

A few of my favorite exercises for improving grip strength include loaded carries, and bottoms-up kettlebell presses.

Loaded Carries

Key Points: (describing loaded carries with dumbbells by sides)

  • For the duration of the exercise, maintain the canister position. Your head, torso and hips should remain in a stacked position. Do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or ribcage to flare.
  • Keep your arms rigid (all the way down to your hands), and pretend you are trying to crush something in your armpits.
  • For the duration of the exercise, maintain your 360 degree brace, and maintain regular breathing (360 degrees of air around your spine).

 

Bottoms-Up Kettlebell Presses

Key Points:

  • For the duration of the exercise, maintain the canister position. Your head, torso and hips should remain in a stacked position. Do not allow your lower back to hyperextend or ribcage to flare.
  • Keep the muscles in your forearm engaged, and wrist in a vertical position.
  • Do not keep your shoulder blades pinned. They are supposed to move. This applies to both the concentric and eccentric components of the movement.
  • Before you initiate each press, take a deep breath in, (360 degrees of air around your spine), brace your core (360 degree brace around your spine), tuck your ribs towards your hips, and squeeze your glutes. This will help stabilize your hips and spine.
Want to Learn More Pull-Up Badassery?

You can (and then some) by checking out The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox.

Nine fitness professionals tackle a bevy of topics ranging from assessment and program design to differentiating flexion & extension based back pain and battling negative self talk.

We all have encountered the same problems you have as a fitness professional; so here’s how we handled them.

  • 17 total hours of content
  • Earn CEUs
  • Save $100 this week only.
—> GO HERE <—

The post Struggling to Excel at Pull-ups? These Commonly Made Mistakes May Be Playing a Role. appeared first on Tony Gentilcore.

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Introducing the Complete Trainers’ Toolbox

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 12:42

The email started with “so, I have this idea….”

And while no where was there any reference to writing our own Star Wars movie script, starting our own Laser Tag franchise, or, I don’t know, eating carrot cake, by the end of it, Dean Somerset had sold me on the idea of collaborating with a collection of other fitness professionals to curate a continuing education series called The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox.

Copyright: shaiith / 123RF Stock Photo

The Trainers Toolbox

To be honest it didn’t take much selling.

Dean had me at “I have this idea.”

Once I knew the premise – to create on online resource designed BY trainers for trainers to emulate having some of the brightest minds in the industry coaching you through your biggest hurdles so you can feel confident growing your business – I was in.

Nine coaches are involved in this project.

Nine.

Hmmm, what other events or, dare I say, FELLOWSHIPS, have involved nine individuals?

Yeah that’s right.

You didn’t think I was not going to include a LoTR reference here did you?

I liken this resource to the Fellowship of the Ring; except instead of fighting Orcs, Balrogs, back-stabbing wizards, dragons, and all the other demons, ghosts, and what-have-you’s amidst the depths of Mordor….

….we’re fighting mediocrity.

We wanted to create a product – which we’re hoping becomes a recurring series – that helps separate health/fitness professionals from the masses by connecting them to some of the top minds in the industry.

Those trainers, strength coaches, physical therapists, (and a psychologist) who are in the trenches, every day, working with real people, getting real results, making it their mission to improve the industry, and, for what it’s worth, are all kicking ass and taking names.

So Who’s In the Fellowship and What Are They Talking About?

Tony Gentilcore (Aragorn) – Improving Overhead Mobility & How to Write Stellar Fitness Content

Dean Somerset – Programming 101: How to Design an Effective Workout.

Luke Worthington – Assessing For Excellence.

Dr. Lisa Lewis – Dealing With Negative Thinking (Your Clients and Your Own).

Sam Spinelli – All Things Squats, Knees, & Hips.

Dr. Sarah Duvall – Core and Pelvic Floor Lifting Considerations.

Meghan Callaway – The Ultimate Pull-Up Webinar.

Alex Kraszewski – Understanding Flexion & Extension Based Back Pain.

Kellie Davis – Finding Your Ideal Client.

And that’s not even all of it.

In fact, there’s 17 total hours of content when all is said and done. What’s more, all 17 hours have been approved for CEUs’ (1.7) via the NSCA.

I’m fully confident this is a resource that will help other fitness professionals hone their coaching skills, build better rapport with their clients, and maybe even most important of all…make more money.

And speaking of money, the cost of The Complete Trainers’ Toolbox is set at $100 OFF the regular price all this week. You have until this Sunday (2/17) to take advantage.

I’m really proud of this resource and I hope it helps you as much as I think it will.

—>  Click Me and Save $100. That Tickles

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Using Fillers In Your Programs: Bench Press

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 13:55

I already wrote similar posts covering how I implement fillers with deadlifts and squats, so it only makes sense to finally follow suit with something discussing the bench press.

Copyright: spotpoint74 / 123RF Stock Photo

Fillers For the Bench Press

As a quick refresher for those first tuning in: “Fillers” are low grade exercises that address a specific mobility or stability issue – lack of glute activation, tight hip flexors, poor scapular upward rotation, as examples – which are performed during rest periods of a main exercise.

Fillers could also be a simple stretch.

In short the idea is do something productive during your rest periods – other than stalk your ex on Instagram – that’s not going to affect or deter performance on subsequent sets of deadlifts, squats, bench presses, and the like.

Another way to look at it is this: I know it, you know it, your parent’s mailman’s second cousin’s godfather knows it, we all know it…

…you’re (probably) going to skip your warm-up.

Fillers are the compromise.

Instead of giving people a laundry list of warm-up drills they’re not going to do, I’ll sprinkle fillers in as PART OF THE PROGRAM.

(cue evil strength coach laugh here).

via GIPHY

So in no particular order here’s a quick-n-dirty rundown of some of my go to fillers on bench day.

1. Rows

Okay, I’m cheating a little bit here.

I’m only speaking for myself, but I find rows are something most people can’t include enough of in a program. Many of us are so overdeveloped and/or tight in our anterior chain – namely pecs – that it’s not uncommon practice for me to pair a rowing variation with EVERY set (including warm-ups) of bench press to help offset the imbalance

I don’t care if it’s a DB row, Seated Cable Row, Chest Supported Row, Seal Row, TRX Row, Face Pulls, or Band Pull-Apart…I want some kind of row tethered to every set of the bench press.

 

And then I’ll include 1-2 more rowing variations later in the session too. The whole notion of a balanced approach to program design – where you attempt to include a 1:1 (press:row) ratio – while noble and good place to start, tends to be a bit underwhelming.

I’ll often say it’s more beneficial to UN-BALANCE someone’s program (to the tune of 2-3 rowing variations for every press) to to better “balance” them.”

So, as more of an umbrella theme to consider, just staying cognizant of rowing volume (and adding more of it into someone’s program) is going to be leaps and bounds more effective for long-term shoulder health and training domination than the litany of correctives that can be substituted in.

2. Band Posture Corrector

This is a drill I stole from my good friend and strength coach Jim “Smitty” Smith of Diesel Strength.

 

Sitting at a desk all day, every day, can be brutal.

The muscles on the back side (namely, rhomboids) get long and weak, while the muscles on the front (namely, pecs) get short and overactive.

A good bench press requires a fair amount of scapular retraction and depression to help protect the shoulder joint and to provide a more stable “surface” to press from.

This drill targets those muscles involved.

Simply grab a band, loop it around your shoulders, and “reverse” the posture.

I like to perform 10-20 reps with a 1-2 second hold on each rep.

3. Foam Roller Snow Angel

Likewise, the bench press also requires a decent amount of thoracic extension (which makes it easier to retract and depress your shoulder blades).

The Foam Roller Snow Angel allows for a few things to fall in place:

  • A nice pec stretch.
  • Nudges more thoracic extension (by lying on the foam roller).

 

I like 10-12 reps here.

4. Child’s Pose – off Med Ball

 

Pigging back off the above drill, this one also helps to improve thoracic extension in addition to strengthening the scapular stabilizers when you add a static hold at the top of each rep.

Adding the medicine ball into the mix along with flexed hips helps to keep the lumbar spine out of the equation.

I like 5, 5 seconds holds here.

5. Bicep Curls

 

The fuck outta here.1

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Stuff to Read While You’re Pretending to Work: 2/8/19

Fri, 02/08/2019 - 13:16

Copyright: wamsler / 123RF Stock Photo

BUT FIRST…CHECK THIS STUFF OUT 1. (Even More) Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint – 2019 Locations & Dates

Philadelphia, PA: April 27-28th

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada: May 25-26th

Sydney, Australia: July 13-14th

Singapore, Republic of Singapore: July 20-21st

This workshop will piggyback on the material Dean Somerset and I covered in the original Complete Shoulder & Hip Blueprint.

With this iteration, though, we’ll be going a bit deeper into the coaching and programming side of things:

  • How to program around common injuries.
  • How to “connect” the appropriate exercises to the client/athlete.
  • How to squat and deadlift like a boss.

Find out more details HERE.

NOTE: For the Singapore event you’ll need to use THIS link.

2. Coaching Competency Workshop – Raleigh, NC

I’ll be making my first appearance – ever (<— how’s that possible?) – in the wonderful state of North Carolina this coming March to put on my popular Coaching Competency Workshop.

Full details (date, location, itinerary, how to register) can be found HERE.

EARLY BIRD rate is currently in effect ($50 off regular price), so make sure to take advantage of it while you can.

3) The Complete Trainers Toolbox

I’ve been pretty mum about it, but this is dropping next week…

SOCIAL MEDIA SHENANIGANS Twitter

One thing I try to keep young trainers/coaches more cognizant of when writing training programs is grip intensive exercise. Example: Row paired with DB Reverse Lunge. Both require a lot of grip. Maybe switch to GOBLET Reverse Lunge? Boom, you’re a program writing Jedi.

— Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore1) February 5, 2019

Instagram

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I was training later than usual tonight after a stressful day dealing with a sick toddler. . I wanted to include a baller “filler” in between my sets of squats and remembered this doozy I saw @coachleeboyce mention a few weeks ago. . I don’t recall what he called it, but it’s outstanding. . It’s low grade, won’t affect subsequent sets of “heavy” stuff, and hammers a lot of things most people need to work on: . Lumbo-pelvic stability, scapular stability (namely serratus activation/protraction), and even hip mobility (I.e., working through hip flexion & extension with minimal lumbar movement). . I really like this one. . If you’re gonna try it, I only have one piece of coaching advice: GO SLOW. . This drill is much more effective if you take your time and not rush. . Also: my triceps look gooooood.

A post shared by Tony Gentilcore (@tonygentilcore) on Feb 7, 2019 at 4:56pm PST

STUFF TO READ WHILE YOU’RE PRETENDING TO WORK Pete Dupuis on Niche Domination in the Fitness Industry – Physical Preparation Podcast

Mike Robertson’s podcast is always a must-listen, but this one featuring my good friend Pete Dupuis was particularly eargasmic.

Pete has an uncanny ability to keep things real when it comes to discussing fitness business shenanigans. If you’re a gym owner (or plan to be)….fire this episode up.

The Sleep Tip You Should Never Give a Client (and 5 Others You Should) – Mike. T. Nelson

It’s not about more sleep, it’s about better sleep.

Awesome stuff from Mike here.

3 Things to Remember When Recovering From Lifting Injuries – Shane McLean

Looksie here.

TG.com contributor, Shane McLean, is cheating on me writing for a different site………….;o)

Awesome stuff as always my man.

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