Now, obviously we all need to start somewhere in our journey in the health and fitness industry. Whether you are a meathead, a personal trainer or mum, a dad and nanna or grandad for that matter, it’s my view that ‘everyone should deadlift’.
So, what do I mean by the ‘everyone should deadlift’? I’m describing the situation where a you are lifting and shifting at home, maybe moving house, maybe doing the gardening, whatever – at some point we all lift something heavy, right?
The exercise ‘deadlift’ showed me how actually this is for everyone but is often executed very poorly. It may appear safe when observed visually – but in reality, there is a lot more to safe exercise than just mimicking the way an exercise looks.
How an exercise feels is just as important as how it looks, so it is crucial that you gain feedback about where you are feeling the movement (feeling is ‘the language of movement’ – a Gray Cookism).
Here are a tips to use when you execute basic exercises to really drive my message home:
Most think this movement is just a hip extension exercise (opening the hip) – but this is WRONG. You actually start in slight hip abduction (this will vary, depending on whether you do sumo or conventional – basically feet are apart). Something that many people miss out is the forcing the hips wider apart in the start position, which really creates tension around the hip ready to lift some serious load.
So, we have spoken about the tension around the hip – now let’s chat about the shoulder.
The lats (big muscles of the back) play a significant role in stacking the spine (a term used to keep a safe spine whilst lifting heavy loads) and placing the scapular in a position that is most useful and least compromising. By driving the shoulder away from the ears (an anti-shrug) and crushing some lemons in the armpits, you create the right amount of tension to ensure you don’t sacrifice your low back.
2). Press Up
This is one that I see quite regularly, as I still get to observe the Army Physical Fitness Test, where technique is certainly left open to question (no disrespect ladies and gents). Again, the shoulder and the hip need to be locked up tight – and by this I mean the glutes need to be squeezed to lock the hips in place and prevent the hips dropping when fatigue sets in (like a snake).
The heel of the hand needs to be screwed into the floor to create a solid shoulder (kind of similar to the tips you would give for the squat and feet). Arm crease flooring the finger tips that are facing forwards.
3). Turkish Getup
This is a movement that I often see being butchered, and it really breaks my heart. Last year, before the Strong First Certification (kettlebells, for those that take this business seriously), my coach showed me just how much the Turkish get-up can tell you about your insufficiencies. I fell in love with the move and now do it every single day.
The art of the get-up is not to lift as much as possible or rush to get to the top – it’s to spend some time in each posture, feeling whether your shoulders are in the right place, whether your hips are tight, and whether you are rigid enough around the core to create a safe spine when progressing through the movement.
Looking safe and actually being safe are two totally different things (seek professional advice on this).
Above are just three movements I am passionate about and that I often see executed very poorly, leaving people open to injury.
In a world that sometimes lacks depth in understanding the process and does not promote actually enjoying the time it takes to get seriously strong, I ask that you take time to teach yourself the movement, please find out the principles and fall in love like I have.
Move and groove, fitness fanatics.