Adding extra weight to the big lifts is always a good feeling...
For me it's an indicator that my training program is effective, my sleep and nutrition are going well, and that my time spent in the gym is actually paying off
In other words, I am getting results.
What if I could teach you how you can add an extra 5-10kg on your best squat or deadlift after reading this article - would that be worth your time?
Of course these results will differ from person to person and there are a lot of variables in play here, but using this strategy I have managed to help others hit personal records in their lifts. Not by coaching or training them, but by teaching their body how to move more effectively.
I will divide article into 3 areas to work on:
The core refers to the deep stabilising muscles of your spine - their role is to control the spine under load and during movement
Under a heavy load like the deadlift or squat, the best and safest position of the spine will be in neutral. In other words, the spine should not bend or curve during these lifts.
Unfortunately a lot of people who get hurt in these lifts are unable to control their spine well enough under load and this stress is transferred into the back
The first step in our strategy is to teach the body how to find and maintain a neutral spine position
Find this in the quadraped position (on all-fours): first round the lower back as much as you can, then arch as much as you can, and then find the middle position
In this neutral spine position, we are going to control our arms and legs while maintaining full control of the spine. It's harder than it looks. What we're trying to do here is to differentiate between the spine, arms, and hips.
#2 Get the hips working
The gluteus maximus is essentially the engine of the body... having this guy not working is extremely detrimental to athletic performance and injury prevention
The gluteus medius controls the hips in the frontal plane (side-to-side movement) as well as the transverse plane (rotational movement) and therefore has a massive stabilising role to play
An easy way to get these muscles working is with the single-leg bridge and the clamshells in sidelying
Do a couple sets of these before you start with your lifts and feel the difference
#3 Bracing technique
Why do some people love lifting with belts and others don't?
It's all to do with creating intra-abdominal pressure, ie. creating stability in the spine through an effective bracing strategy.
I've seen many people over-extend (arch) through the lower back when they squat or deadlift, placing compressive forces on the facet joints, spinal erectors and posterior structures of the spine.
I've also seen people round and flex forwards at the lower back, putting themselves at risk of disc herniations and muscle strains.
The most ideal way to protect the spine during a heavy squat or deadlift is to learn how to actively recruit the core muscles and teach them how to stabilise the lumbopelvic region
The following cues may help achieve a good braced position:
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About the Author:
Lawrence Khuu is a qualified Physiotherapist and Movement Specialist. His mission is to help motivated clients perform at their highest level through a combined hands-on treatment and exercise rehabilitation approach. He currently treats clients at Activ Therapy Casula.
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