Michelle, one of our evening educators, getting into a very solid deadlift setup. I’d like to see the chin down a tiny bit here to lock down the chain (always like the softball between chin and chest cue), and I guess I’d like Michelle to stop growing brochures out of the back of her skull, but all in all, outstanding tight setup.
Homework: We’ve been thinking of tightening things up lately, and doing some more proactive things to keep us out of the doctor’s office (except when we should be in the doctor’s office…see item #3), so here’s a quick list of stuff you can do in here to give yourself a better chance of keeping the shoulders, back, etc. healthy:
1) Pull the shoulders back and snap the hips and knees on KB swings. We do a ton of swings for conditioning–they’re a tremendously useful and relatively low threshold movement. Let’s zip those swings up by pulling the shoulders back in the setup and swing (this might require dropping weight down occasionally to keep the bell from pulling the shoulders forward), and snapping knees and hips into a plank (squeeze a walnut between your butts) at the top of the rep. Swings with incomplete hip and knee extension are murder on the low back and tough on the surrounding joints. If you can snap once, you can do it every rep–choose to finish the rep with violence and precision and push your low back further from harm’s way.
2) Drop weight on the smaller-joint repetitive work. Our press work right now is meant to work by dint of volume and good, crisp reps. I’ve seen a bunch of people push through very hard reps (which is awesome and a skill unto itself), but I haven’t seen many people taking weight off the bar for the next set. Grinding out 4 or 5 overhead reps at 10 RPE, with its attendant low back extension and incomplete shoulder push is a tough load to haul during the same week you’re hitting 40-50 reps on your bench. Something will give eventually, usually the shoulder or low back. Drop the weight and keep the reps crisp.
3) In the immortal words of Sleater-Kinney, Call The Doctor. If there is something that’s been nagging you, you need to get to a doctor. We are making an effort as trainers to be better and stricter here; if I watch you squat, your knees slide forward at the end of the rep, and you report knee pain when squatting, yes I can say with confidence that driving your knees out and sitting back more should alleviate that pain. Incidentally, that sort of thing works and helps folks move better. But for general, persistent aches and pains or movement dysfunctions, you need to get to a doctor. We are happy to provide substitutions and workarounds to keep you in the gym doing things that don’t hurt, and we’re good at that because it’s our job, but we work much better with an exact idea of what’s going on inside…that’s something only your doctor or medical professional can truly provide. Please seek out medical counsel if something’s been nagging at you or something feels wrong.
4) Tight set-up. This is simple…approach every lift like it’s a PR attempt. Brace with air, and hit the reps with precision. A loose setup means a loose structure and, well, this gym is full of professional engineers! You guys know what that means!
5) Don’t sleep on the warmup. We’re excited to begin putting in some newer, more specific warmups over the next few months. Hit these with the same precision you afford to your strength and conditioning and it will pay huge dividends. We will be doing a better job providing direction here as well…the better the quality of your warmup, the tighter your movements should be.
This isn’t exhaustive and certainly some is stuff you’ve heard before, but in the immortal words of Jack White…it bears repeating now.