BENCH PLATEAU? TRY CHANGING YOUR BAR PATH

 

After reading McLaughlin’s book, which is probably one of the best resources out there for the bench press I have ever encountered, I ran across one of Greg Nuckols article, where he talks about some key points from this book. He does a great job going over the biomechanics of the bench a lot more in depth than I will cover in this short post so if that is something that interests you I highly recommend you check out his article @gregnuckols.
McLaughlin pointed out a really good observation about the difference in bar path between novice and advanced lifters. He showed that both groups lower the bar using a similar pattern, almost a straight line, but the path changed dramatically during the ascent. Novice lifters move the bar straight UP THEN BACK, while advanced lifters do the opposite. They move the bar up AND BACK right off the bat and finish the lift by pressing almost in a straight line up.

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He pointed out that elite lifters were able to add pounds to their bench, with no real change in total force output. They achieved this by changing their bar path by shortening the moment arm, which is the distance from the bar to your shoulder in the frontal plane (from your armpit to an imaginary line that drops straight down from your hand at the point that you hold the bar). You can accomplish this by decreasing the distance between the bar and your shoulder faster during the ascent part of the lift. This doesn’t necessarily change the amount of work you are doing, but its simply a more efficient way to push.

In conclusion, McLaughlin noted in his research that elite lifters didn’t increase their maximum force output that much year after year, but the ones that continue making the most progress where the ones that make adjustments on their bar path.

Awesome drawing by @pheasyque

Dealing with Training Stress

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Training Stress Explained by my good buddies over at @bros_md

The above graph shows fitness capacity on the y-axis and time on the x-axis.

It can represent a single workout or multiple workouts over time.

The general thought is that we all have a baseline fitness. Whenever we encounter a training stimulus, or stress, we drop below baseline due to fatigue.

Importantly, we physiologically respond very similar to training stress as other types of stress (not sleeping enough, cramming for exams, or making awkward eye contact with a stranger while eating a banana). So these types of stress can also cause negative deviations from baseline.

Once the training stress has stopped, or diminished, the recovery process begins. This mostly entails rest days, eating, and sleeping and is how we get back to, and beyond, the baseline.

Assuming an adequate training stimulus coupled with proper recovery, we can overshoot the baseline and make it to the land of gains.

These gains can ultimately establish a new baseline, but the cycle of accruing fatigue, followed by proper recovery, is crucial to continuing to make improvements in performance.

 

By: @bros_md

TUCKING ELBOWS WHEN SQUATTING

If you play @Steficohen’s squat videos with sound you’ll hear our teammates constantly yelling “ELBOWS!” Do you ever think about your elbows when you’re squatting? How to place them? What’s their role? How could they “damage” your squats?

 
Keeping your elbows neutral (down) is the best/safest way to squat: this because when you keep your elbows down, the bar’s load is evenly distributed perpendicularly on your body, placing most of the stress on your quads, decreasing the stress on your back as long as it’s being kept tight. You can also think about pushing the bar up with your hands as your elbows tuck down.
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Instead, flaring your elbows backwards will draw the load forward aswell in an anti-clockwise motion, decreasing the stress on your legs, while increasing the stress on your lower back for you not to fall forward.

Always keep an eye on your elbows and make sure you keep them down & not back. Sure, lots of people are very flexible and can keep the load evenly distributed even with their elbows backwards, but, that doesn’t apply to most of us!

 

SLOW SQUATS > FAST SQUATS: A Case for Successive Induction

SLOW SQUATS > FAST SQUATS: A Case for Successive Induction

Many of you might have read the title and been like “successive induc-what?”. Successive induction is a neurological principle I learned about during one of my neuroanatomy classes that peaked my interest because it is something I’ve been doing without knowing how powerful and effective it can be in strength training.

Successive induction is when you activate or engage an antagonist muscle to help the agonist develop more force and control. The agonist is the primary muscle used during a movement- in the case of a squat this will be your glutes and quads, the antagonist would be your hip flexors. An even easier example is doing a bicep curl- the biceps are the agonist, and the triceps are the antagonist. Now that you understand what SI is, lets talk about how you can use it to improve your strength.
Next time you squat, think about using your hip flexors to pull you down slowly into the pit instead of just dropping without control. Now you’re using the antagonists to help you generate more tension around your hips or what we call “co-contraction” which further increases the stability of the joint. You can apply this principle to the bench, bicep curls, or other accessory movements. You’ll notice that each successive rep gets easier and easier, and if you’re doing a single rep you’ll feel more stable.

Remember, one of the main components of strength training is our ability to develop tension. Successive induction is just one of many techniques you can use to make your nervous system even more efficient and functional.

SLOW SQUATS > FAST SQUATS: a case for successive induction ______________________________________________ Many of you might have read the title and been like "successive induc-what?". Successive induction is a neurological principle I learned about during one of my neuroanatomy classes that peaked my interest because it is something I've been doing without knowing how powerful and effective it can be in strength training. _______________________________________________ Successive induction is when you activate or engage an antagonist muscle to help the agonist develop more force and control. The agonist is the primary muscle used during a movement- in the case of a squat this will be your glutes and quads, the antagonist would be your hip flexors. An even easier example is doing a bicep curl- the biceps are the agonist, and the triceps are the antagonist. Now that you understand what SI is, lets talk about how you can use it to improve your strength. _______________________________________________ Next time you squat, think about using your hip flexors to pull you down slowly into the pit instead of just dropping without control. Now you're using the antagonists to help you generate more tension around your hips or what we call "co-contraction" which further increases the stability of the joint. You can apply this principle to the bench, bicep curls, or other accessory movements. You’ll notice that each successive rep gets easier and easier, and if you’re doing a single rep you’ll feel more stable. _______________________________________________ Remember, one of the main components of strength training is our ability to develop tension. Successive induction is just one of many techniques you can use to make your nervous system even more efficient and functional.

A post shared by Dr. Stefanie Cohen, DPT (@steficohen) on

FRONT SQUAT vs BACK SQUAT

FRONT SQUAT vs BACK SQUAT

Both the Front Squat and the Back Squat are great movements. Selecting which movement to use depends on training goals, overall joint/muscle stiffness, and prior or current injuries.
Front squats have greater erector spinae involvement. This allows a more upright posture and reduced lumbar shear forces.

Back Squats have greater gluteal involvement, but higher lumbar shear force potential.

Front squat have lower compressive forces at the knee compared to the back squat.

💥Front Squat vs Back Squat💥 – Both are great movements. Selecting which movement to use depends on training goals, overall joint/muscle stiffness, and prior or current injuries. – 📚Front squats have greater erector spinae involvement. This allows a more upright posture and reduced lumbar shear forces. – 📚Back Squats have greater gluteal involvement, but higher lumbar shear force potential. – 📚Front squat have lower compressive forces at the knee compared to the back squat. – Other consideration is sport specificity. Ex: powerlifters may gravitate toward back squats since it’s one of their competition lifts; and Olympic weightlifters may gravitate toward the front squat since that is the position that is required during the clean and jerk! – Written By @dr.giardina.dpt – Reference: https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bc7c/48be4156f5f42b0add032b509c23c88681f6.pdf

A post shared by Dr. Stefanie Cohen, DPT (@steficohen) on

Other consideration is sport specificity. Ex: powerlifters may gravitate toward back squats since it’s one of their competition lifts; and Olympic weightlifters may gravitate toward the front squat since that is the position that is required during the clean and jerk!

Written By @dr.giardina.dpt –
Reference:
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/bc7c/48be4156f5f42b0add032b509c23c88681f6.pdf

STRUGGLE WITH OVERHEAD MOTIONS?

STRUGGLE WITH OVERHEAD MOTIONS?

Your body will find a way to achieve a particular motion, without necessarily taking into account optimal movement. For example, you want to do an overhead press, a pull up, a handstand, or simply reach a higher cabinet, your body will take the path of least resistance to get there. What most commonly happens is that as you reach overhead, your lower back needs to hyperextend in order for you to achieve the final degrees of motion necessary to put your hands over your head.

Over time, we start developing increased stiffness in our upper back, and instability or hyper mobility in our lower back, which over time can lead to a wide array of issues. This is a big deal because our lumbar spine is built for stability and our thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion and extension- or rather it has the potential for it. So, you come to the gym every day and you stretch your lats, flail your arms around, grab bands and hang from them, yet every time you try to do a jerk, barbell press or any sort of overhead motion you can’t seem to get full range of motion or get the barbell in the proper position.

The relationship between the shoulder blades and the thoracic spine is extremely important for injury prevention and optimal overhead mechanics. The higher you need to raise your arms, the higher the demand of thoracic motion required to maintain proper relative shoulder alignment. The following exercises are aimed at improving thoracic rotation and extension in order to improve overhead positions, reduce low back pain and incidence of shoulder injuries.

1. Supine dead bug variation: squeeze a med ball or foam roller between your legs, keep you ribcage DOWN, don’t let your lower back come off the mat
2. Standing resisted rotations: lock your pelvis in place and aim at generating all the motion from your upper back
3. Rocked back quadruped rotation: open all the way and close all the way
4. Segmental rolling: roll segment by segment, flex and extend all the way.

See video below:

STRUGGLE WITH OVERHEAD MOTIONS? ________________________________________ Your body will find a way to achieve a particular motion, without necessarily taking into account optimal movement. For example, you want to do an overhead press, a pull up, a handstand, or simply reach a higher cabinet, your body will take the path of least resistance to get there. What most commonly happens is that as you reach overhead, your lower back needs to hyperextend in order for you to achieve the final degrees of motion necessary to put your hands over your head. ______________________________________ Over time, we start developing increased stiffness in our upper back, and instability or hyper mobility in our lower back, which over time can lead to a wide array of issues. This is a big deal because our lumbar spine is built for stability and our thoracic spine is built for rotation, flexion and extension- or rather it has the potential for it. So, you come to the gym every day and you stretch your lats, flail your arms around, grab bands and hang from them, yet every time you try to do a jerk, barbell press or any sort of overhead motion you can’t seem to get full range of motion or get the barbell in the proper position. ______________________________________ The relationship between the shoulder blades and the thoracic spine is extremely important for injury prevention and optimal overhead mechanics. The higher you need to raise your arms, the higher the demand of thoracic motion required to maintain proper relative shoulder alignment. The following exercises are aimed at improving thoracic rotation and extension in order to improve overhead positions, reduce low back pain and incidence of shoulder injuries. ____________________________________ 1. Supine dead bug variation: squeeze a med ball or foam roller between your legs, keep you ribcage DOWN, don’t let your lower back come off the mat 2. Standing resisted rotations: lock your pelvis in place and aim at generating all the motion from your upper back 3. Rocked back quadruped rotation: open all the way and close all the way 4. Segmental rolling: roll segment by segment, flex and extend all the way.

A post shared by Dr. Stefanie Cohen, DPT (@steficohen) on

By: Dr. Stefanie Cohen, DPT.

CONVENTIONAL VS SUMO

CONVENTIONAL VS SUMO

Differences in stance width between the conventional deadlift (CD) and sumo deadlift (SD) result in altered body position, which ultimately allows for differences in muscle activation and pulling mechanics.

Both McGuigan/Wilson and Escamilla et al have extensively analyzed the differences in the CD vs SD. The narrow stance of a CD requires increased ankle dorsiflexion (creating a less vertical shin) while the wide stance of a SD allows for a more vertical shin angle.

Additionally, the narrow stance of the CD creates a position with slightly more knee extension and a more horizontal torso (more hip flexion) when compared to the more vertical torso of the SD.

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These differences in position are important for a few reasons:

1) Based on EMG data the two lifts maximally recruit difference muscles. CD shows much higher erector spinae activity and likely higher gluteus activity (some studies show higher glute activity in CD and some show no statistical difference), while the SD shows significantly more quadriceps activation. Interestingly, no significant differences were noted in hamstring activity.

2) With a more vertical shin and torso classically found in the SD, it has the potential to be a biomechanically advantageous position to lift a barbell from the ground due to the ability to keep the bar closer to the body, reduce hindering lever arms, decrease range of motion, and produce a more vertical bar path.

However, this DOES NOT mean that “sumo is cheating” or that the SD is universally easier for all lifters. On the contrary, due anatomical differences (ex: femur/torso/arm length and ratios), limitations in flexibility, and differences in muscular strengths, the CD can certainly still be the strongest variation for many lifters.

Additionally, McGuigan/Wilson found no difference in Schartz Scores (tool for assessing relative strength) between SD and CD in a national powerlifting competition.

Practical Application: Since the CD and SD activate different, large muscle groups to a significant extent, trainees seeking to improve general strength and athleticism should incorporate both lifts into a well-planned training program.

 

By: Bongju Kim Bro M.D. (@bros_md)