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Category: Progressive Resistance

strength training workouts at home

Crosscore – The Best Suspension Trainer for Strength Training Workouts at Home

When it comes to strength training workouts at home, the CrossCore Suspension Training System is a superior tool to all other suspension trainers on the market.  For the first time a home trainer using a portable training device can replicate the results derived from barbells and dumbbells by allowing the body to perform and move naturally strength training workouts at homewithout limitation.  By being able to replicate the motor pathway and payload used in barbells and dumbbells the trainee can replicate the positive benefits of strength training.  This is huge!  Instead of being restricted by static straps as is the case with other suspension trainers, the CrossCore Suspension Training System uses all three planes of motion for real movement that produces better results.

This Wikipedia definition gives a good summation of the physical process and benefits of strength training.  The greatest truth for me (In the definition) is “strength training can provide significant functional benefits and improvement in overall health and well-being.”  The CrossCore system gives the user a greater ability to tap into the functional benefits of strength training.

Dynamic Stabilization

The unique, patented pulley pin engagement system gives the CrossCore a leg up on the competition.  When the pin is in the CrossCore mimics other suspension trainers.  However, when the pin is removed a greater level of instability strength training workouts at homeis created, forcing the body into dynamic stabilization.  Dynamic stabilization occurs when abdominals, spinal extensors and gluteal muscles work in coordination with each other and intra-abdominal pressure is regulated by the central nervous system.

A CrossCore workout produces better results in strength and power because it taps into this state.    The core instability helps the user maximize their training efforts.  As with other suspension trainers resistance for most exercises can be increased or decreased in “micro increments,” simply by moving the feet forward or backward a few inches. The CrossCore is an ideal portable resistance training tool useful for both beginner and advanced trainees.

Training Posture

meditation tipsThe first thing I work on with any new trainee on the CrossCore is how to use the breath to stabilize their core.  Helping people learn how to change from a chest breathing pattern to a belly breathing pattern gives them the ability to find a better postural position.  This practice helps the trainee achieve optimal posture prior to executing a movement.  If the body is stacked properly a better mind-muscle connection can be achieved during each rep.  See “How do you find breath?” in blog post.

Training Exercises

The instability created by leaving the pin out on the CrossCore forces the core to activate to a greater degree than static straps.  Additionally the patented rope adjuster system lets the user easily shorten or lengthen the pulley rope depending on the exercise performed.  Below are video clips showing the key upper/lower body exercises that I use as the foundation of my CrossCore workout.  I will also demonstrate how to use the pulley system to work on muscular imbalances by focusing on only one side of the body while keeping the other side stabilized.

Back Exercises

strength training workouts at homeThe following graphic illustrates the muscles being used in pulling exercises. Grip width and hand position determine which back muscles will be isolated to the greatest degree.  For this demonstration I will show a wide grip pull (handles apart/palms facing down), narrow grip pull (handles clipped together/palms facing each other), and a wide grip pull combined with a one arm rotational pull.

 

 

Check Out Video for Pull Variations!

Chest Exercises

strength training workouts at homeThe following graphic illustrates the muscles being used in pressing exercises.  Again grip width and hand position determine which chest muscles will be isolated to the greatest degree.  For this demonstration I will show a chest press (handles apart/palms facing down in push up position), fly (handles apart/palms facing each other), and a one arm chest press.

 

 

Check Out Video for Press Variations!

Leg Exercises

strength training workouts at homeThe following graphic illustrates the muscles being used in these leg exercises.  For this demonstration I will be reviewing a basic squat, side lunge and one legged squat/lunge.

 

 

 

 

Check Out Video for Leg Training Variations!

The flexibility of the patented pulley design allows for a multitude of exercise variations.  The ones demonstrated above are but just a few.  The pulley also makes CrossCore an excellent tool for training both mobility and flexibility in multiple movement planes as well as strength.  It can be used across many disciplines from martial arts to baseball to golf to pilates to yoga.

Recap of CrossCore System Features

  • Pin Engagement System™ can be locked to stop the rotation of the pulley wheel when stable movements are desired
  • Unlocking Pin Engagement System allows pulley wheel to rotate freely and enables CrossCore® to act as a pulley machine by attaching a counterweight, such as a kettlebell, dumbbell or sandbag, to one end. Using two counterweighted CrossCore units spaced eight feet apart makes for one of the smoothest cable crossovers on the market
  • Rope Adjuster Device™ allows for true self-leveling handles / foot and arm cradles. No more readjusting the height of your handles in the middle of your workout
  • Handles/foot and arm cradles pad the feet and arms when performing certain exercises like knee raises and hamstring curls. These cradles open and close for a snug fit on the hands and feet so the user won’t slip out while exercising
  • The mountain climbing grade rope used for the pulley is rated up to 1,200lbs. The anchor strap with cam buckle is rated up to 1,800 lbs. The adjustable handles / foot and arm cradles with ergonomic grips and webbing are rated up to 1,800 lbs. Each handle has heavy-duty climbing-grade carabiner rated up to 2,000 lbs. The CrossCore is built to withstand any load.  The cam buckle is rated up to 750lbs.
  • Take it with you! Your CrossCore® system weighs about 4 lbs. (1.8 kg) and can go with you to the park, to the gym, on vacation or wherever for a change of pace, and it all fits into a convenient carry bag
  • Warranty: Pulley Unit 2-Years | Everything Else 1-Year
  • Ship Weight: 4 lbs.

 

CrossCore Ratingstrength training workouts at home

I would give the CrossCore Suspension Training System a 5 star rating for its versatility and portability.  It is the priciest suspension trainer on the market, however its patented pulley design and easy rope adjuster give the user many more training options compared to those of static straps.  The tool can be installed one of two ways:

  1. The anchor strap has a cam buckle on it that easily goes over a door. Putting the cam clip and webbing over a door and shutting the door on it towards you provides the easiest, most stable option without any strength training workouts at homeadditional installation.  When you pull the door shut towards you over the webbing with the clip on the other side you have complete stability.
  2. The second option is to install something like the Dimok X-mount Wall Bracket to the wall.  It must be mounted to the studs for stability.  Once the bracket is installed a carabiner can be attached to the webbing with the cam buckle.  Click it into the bracket and you are ready to go.

  Check out what Amazon customers are saying about this tool!

strength training workouts at home

Check out the Cadillac of suspension trainers to take your training to the next level!

 strength training workouts at home

For more training information on utilizing the CrossCore Suspension Training System.  Please contact me at stacygallagher@functional-strength.org.

health benefits of doing squats everyday

5 Health Benefits of Doing Squats Everyday

Squat mastery is an important longevity tool. As we age we lose our flexibility and mobility creating a cascading effect of physical decline in our lives. This physical decline leads to poor posture as the body’s guide wire system becomes weaker and less able to hold the body upright. By squatting everyday using proper squat form a trainee can reverse the effects of this natural decline.

The negative effects of our sedentary lifestyle are now characterized as “sitting disease.” Sitting disease symptoms include poor posture, chronic fatigue, increased blood pressure, weight gain and a slower metabolism. These side effects of sitting for too long increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. See Dr. James Levine’s article.

He is an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic who studies societal obesity and recommends that people should get moving more often with multiple small goals during the day. Doing squats everyday can help to combat this inactivity. The 5 health benefits of doing squats everyday are:

  • Improve hip and ankle mobility
  • Strengthen the muscle slings of the core
  • Improve upright posture
  • Increase overall strength and power
  • Improve cognitive awareness of the body
  • Squat Posture

    5 health benefits of doing squats everyday

    Proper squat form is essential for reaping the immense benefits from this one compound multi-joint movement. A baby intuitively understands how to squat perfectly.

    Over time the body loses this functionality through multiple factors such as:

    Compensatory movement after an injury: When we injure one part of the body other parts of the body are required to pick up the slack often causing us to contort ourselves in different positions to escape the pain or move around the injury. Even a week’s worth of contortion can cause the body to move differently.

    Prolonged sitting: The more we sit, the more we naturally slump. This slump contributes to the head forward position as the muscles in the upper back and neck become stretched and less engaged. The chest muscles shorten and the head is now held forward. In addition the hip flexors and psoas in the front tighten and shorten while the low back becomes stretched and less engaged. I often refer to it as "turtle back posture." For more information on Forward Head Posture see Dr. Erik Dalton's site.

    “For every inch of Forward Head Posture, it can increase the weight of the head on the spine by an additional 10 pounds.”   -Kapandji, Physiology of Joints, Vol. 3

    What Are the Basics of Good Form?

    Use good squat technique to combat this degradation.  First it is important to reawaken the connection of the feet to the ground and find a comfortable stance width between the feet. Feet shoulder width apart or a little wider is a good place to start.

    There are three points on the feet that establish our balance – heel, pinky toe pad and big toe pad. Ranked in emphasis the heel is 1; the pinky toe pad is 2; and the big toe pad is 3 .

    To gain better foot/ankle stability give the foot tripod exercise on Kelly Doyle's site a try. She is a certified Fitness Professional with a Master of Science degree in Kinesiology.

    Secondly when a comfortable stance width is achieved the hips should be able to slightly rotate through when squeezing the glutes (butt muscles). This will help the upper body to find better postural alignment combating the forward head position described above. My goal with clients is to help them find their best posture prior to learning how to squat. When performing this body awareness task everyday and then initiating a squat program the trainee can begin to replace old detrimental postural habits and improve overall strength.

    Squat Technique

    Once a solid, rooted posture is established it is time to get to work. Note the squatting baby.  His knees are over his ankles with vertical shins. His torso is in a neutral position without an arched or rounded low back. The baby will rise up using leg power alone.

    proper squat form

    How can the average person relearn this primordial skill?

    proper squat form

    Start by learning to squat using a door frame or post using the stance established above.  Once facing the door frame with your comfortable stance reach your arms out in front of you about chest height and grab the molding or post on either side with your fingertips. Take a moment to squeeze your butt feeling it rotate under. Now let your knees drift wide and start to sit down not leaning forward using the frame or post to keep your torso upright. When the trainee learns how to stabilize their body in a more upright position they engage their lower abs. This is lost functionality when sitting for long periods of time in a slumped position.

    proper squat form

    Walk your hands down as you lower your body. As the body lowers the knees CANNOT come over the toes. Make sure to push the knees away from each other to create more mobile hips and take the pressure off the knees. This will allow you to sit deeper. Take time to develop better hip/ankle flexibility and don't force sitting too deep too soon. Flexibility will come with daily practice. Engage the three balance points of the feet discussed earlier to push back up walking the hands back to the start position for stability. Stay connected with the feet through the whole range of motion.

    proper squat form

    Incorporating this movement into your daily routine takes about 15 minutes. I recommend starting off with 2 sets of 10-12 reps daily to ingrain a new neuromuscular pathway. As your strength and mobility improve vitality increases. My clients find that tasks that seemed overwhelming or unattainable all of a sudden become easier to perform. The body finds a new synergy that allows it to overcome and improve overall movement. To take your squats to the next level check out - 5 Phase Squat Mastery Blog.

    Success Story

    Dawn Massey is one of my personal training clients. She is a 73 year old mother of 4 and grandmother of 6. We began working together 4 years ago. She now trains legs using a suspension trainer as well as kettlebell sumo deadlifts and goblet squats. Her flexibility and mobility have soared through consistent, focused practice. She can pull a 72lb kettlebell for 8 reps and a 35lb kettlebell for 8 reps in her goblet squats.

    Below is a video of her squatting using a suspension trainer called CrossCore using pristine form. This suspension trainer is superior to others on the market because of its patented pulley pin engagement system. When the pin is removed a greater level of instability is created, forcing the body into dynamic stabilization. Dynamic stabilization occurs when abdominals, spinal extensors and gluteal muscles work in coordination with each other and intra-abdominal pressure is regulated by the central nervous system.

    strength training workouts at home

    Click here for more information on the Crosscore Suspension Trainer!
    It is a game changer for home training!

    The question is: Are you ready to get off the couch and combat your sitting disease?

    Fight back against the tide of aging and get moving with good squat technique. This exercise performed daily can ignite and prolong your life force.

    Take your squat to the next level check out Marty Gallagher's Purposeful Primitive Squat Progressions performed by Phil Scarito of DV8 Fitness!

    Benefits of Strength Training – 5 Phases of Overhead Press Mastery

    By Marty Gallagher

    Overhead Dumbbell Press

    Key Technical Points

    1. Clean the dumbbells to the shoulders and either stand or sit.
    2. If standing lock out thighs, glutes and tense torso: lean back slightly.
    3. If seated, maintain leg and torso tension throughout; don’t go limp.
    4. Keep pressure in the lower trunk via diaphragmatic breath.
    5. Press the bells overhead – up and in, the bell path forms a reverse V.
    6. Hard and complete lockout.
    7. Inhale in synchronization with the descent.
    8. Pull the bells down with tension. No freefall.
    9. Slow the poundage as it approaches the turnaround and pause.
    10. Lower to hairline or bottom of the ears.
    11. Push overhead explosively.

    Overhead Barbell Press

    Olympic champion Pete George illustrates perfect press lockout position. Note flexed legs and slight lay-back. The clean and press has become extinct: nowadays trainees sit and press exclusively; often using inferior press machines. While there is a place for seated lifts, standing barbell and dumbbell presses are the most difficult and therefore the eternal choice of the hardcore elite.

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Clean the barbell or take weight out of a squat rack, stepping back.
    2. If standing, lie back slightly; tense legs and glutes to create push platform.
    3. If seated, set bench one notch below 90-degrees.
    4. If seated, maintain leg and torso tension.
    5. Both standing and seated, press bar as close to face as possible.
    6. Lock out hard and hold lockout.
    7. Lower with ever-increasing tension.
    8. Lower to below the chin: no half reps or partial reps.
    9. Barbell goes up and back ending locked out directly over the skull.
    10. Finish standing press by pushing the laid-back inclined torso erect.
    11. Lower with tension and recline slightly to achieve incline push position.

    Press-Behind the Neck

     

     

     

     

     

    Bill Pearl: seated press-behind neck; note grip width. We avoid Bill’s thumb-less grip.

    Key Technical Points

    1. PBN can be done standing or seated.
    2. Grip width is wider than shoulder width: note Pearl photo.
    3. Set up as if to squat with wide grip width, step back as if to squat.
    4. If seated, position bench behind squat rack, step back and sit down.
    5. On seated, sit – but don’t relax leg tension; push off tense legs.
    6. Standing: lock out legs and torso, push head forward, push upward.
    7. As bar clears back of head, allow bar path to move forward.
    8. Completed lock out has bar directly over top of head.
    9. Lower down and back with ever-increasing tension.
    10. Lower to hairline.
    11. At turnaround, push upward without hitting back of skull.
    12. Lock-out hard and hold for a beat before lowering.
    13. Inhale on descent, exhale on ascent.

    Steep Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

    Key Technical Points

    1. Set bench lower than 90-degrees and higher than 45-degrees.
    2. Use dumbbells for safety: barbell with spotters.
    3. Push straight up – bells touch at completion of each rep.
    4. Lock out hard.
    5. Lower with ever increasing tension.
    6. Turnaround is just below chin.
    7. Throughout the set never lose torso or leg muscle tension.
    8. Inhale on descent, exhale while pushing to lockout.

    45-Degree Incline Dumbbell Bench Press

     

     

     

    Pat Casey again, this time pushing a pair of 200 pound dumbbells, 400 pounds total, for five reps. In this display of raw power, Pat has muscled these monsters into start position without assistance. This shot was taken in 1965 at Bill Pearl’s old gym on Manchester Avenue in Los Angeles.

    Key Technical Points

    1. Set bench pad to 45-degree angle: fixed incline benches are 45-degrees.
    2. Stand in front of incline bench with dumbbells on the floor.
    3. Clean them to shoulders.
    4. Sit down onto the bench pad, maintaining leg tension.
    5. Once in start position; push bells upward and back.
    6. Follow all technical points addressed in the steep incline press.
    7. Never push dumbbells up and out as they will get away from you.

    How to Periodize

    In the world of strength training the use of periodization is standard operating procedure and should become an integral part of your training. Periodization is another word for preplanning. Elite strength athletes will lay out 3-4 months of preplanned workouts ahead of time; identifying target poundage, number of sets and reps for each and every workout.

    Hall of Fame lifter (and current world record holder) Kirk Karwoski and I would lay out his periodized training template twice a year: before the national championships and world championships. For the last few years of his career he was able to complete an entire 12-week periodized game plan without missing a single preplanned set, rep and poundage target. Other greats such as Ed Coan and Doug Furnas were equally adept.

    Kirk Karwoski squats 1003 pounds at the 1995 Nationals.

    Here is how an individual with a 200 pound squat, a 150 pound bench press, a 300 pound deadlift and a 100 pound overhead press might lay out a 12 week periodized game plan. Each set and rep combination is performed after taking as many warm-up sets as needed.

    This template can be modified and utilized regardless current strength levels.

    Key Points

    • All lifts start off at approximately 50% to 65% of current max
    • All lifts end up roughly 15% to 25% above current max
    • All lifts utilize pristine technique
    • Optional: In early phases, multiple top sets can be used
    • Never start off too high or too low

    Creating Your Own
    Periodized Training Template

    In a nutshell, the way to periodize or “cycle” any lift is as follows….

    • Create a realistic goal
    • Establish a realistic timeframe
    • Reverse engineer: work backwards with a calendar, pen and legal pad
    • Place the realist goals within a specified timeframe
    • Work backwards to establish weekly poundage benchmarks
    • Every 3-4 weeks alter the variables in anticipation of stagnation
    • When instituting changes, make them dramatic, not minor

    Scenario: let us assume a 195 pound individual is athletic, but slightly out-of-shape coming off the winter holidays; he wants to take ten weeks to lean out and shape up. His previous deadlift best was 390×1 and his leanest, most athletic and functional bodyweight in the past has been 185-188 pounds.

    In ten weeks time our hypothetical individual has morphed from a soft 195 into a rock hard 180 pounds. His deadlift, a great overall strength indicator, has leapt upward by a full 10%, from 390 for 1 rep to 435 for 1. He has regained his cardio condition by tweaking his run durations and weekly frequencies. In 70 days he has gotten himself into prime fighting condition. This is a fairly conservative example and mirrors what I do with clients and students every single week.

     

    Benefits of Strength Training – 5 Phases of Bench Press Mastery

    By Marty Gallagher

    No-tension, Paused, Dumbbell Flat Bench Press

    Key Technical Points

    1. Sit on an exercise bench with two dumbbells pulled tight to torso.
    2. Lay back while simultaneously rotating bells outward into start position.
    3. Allow the muscles of torso and arms to relax.
    4. Bells will stretch chest and delt muscles downward in “pre-stretch.”
    5. Slowly and with control push bells upward and inward, touch bells at top.
    6. Lock elbows completely.
    7. When lowering bells, pull downward with tension in arms and flexed lats.
    8. Relax at bottom of rep, let bells stretch chest and shoulder muscles.
    9. Stay relaxed in the neck and upper traps/levator scapulae.
    10. Pause at the turnaround, where descent becomes ascent.
    11. Push upward slow and smooth in non-explosive fashion.
    12. Push is purposefully difficult making light poundage feel heavy.

    Regular Paused Dumbbell Bench Press

    Key Technical Points

    1. Get the bells into starting position and press them to arms length.
    2. Push upward and inward in reverse V push: up and in, never outward.
    3. Lock the elbows at completion of 1st rep.
    4. Lower with tension, pull the bells down; do not lower them on limp arms.
    5. Inhale on the descent using diaphragm breathing.
    6. Pull the bells down to the highest part of the chest.
    7. Do not release tension.
    8. Pause and push to arms length, exhale using diaphragm exhalation.
    9. Lower with tension, pause with tension, explode with tension.

    Touch-and-Go Dumbbell Bench Press

    Key Technical Points

    1. Follow all the technical rules of the paused dumbbell bench press.
    2. No pause at the bottom turnaround.
    3. Do not bounce the dumbbells.
    4. Smooth transitions from descent to ascent.
    5. Complete elbow lockout.
    6. Touch and go dumbbell benching allows for “over-load.”

    Paused Barbell Bench Press: Three Grip Widths

    Irish Mel Hennessy presses 545 weighing 215 in 1967. Huge Cassidy and I watched Mel make this lift and a subsequent 585 using this flat-as-a-pancake, all power style. Back then competitive bench presses were done with a TWO SECOND pause: referee would count, “one thousand and one, one thousand and two – PRESS!” This ‘make it harder’ mentality has been replaced with ‘make it easier mentality.’ Note street shoes. This type of power is built taking small, sequential steps.

    Key Technical Points

    1. Lie back on a bench; take a slightly wider then shoulder width grip.
    2. This is your neutral/normal grip.
    3. Eyes are underneath the barbell.
    4. Exhale and simultaneously push upward, breaking bar from supports.
    5. Lower with tension.
    6. Synchronize lowering with diaphragm inhalation.
    7. Do not allow elbows to flare out, “tuck them inward” as you lower.
    8. Lower down to the high point of the inhaled chest.
    9. Push upward in a precise arc: bar starts and ends over the eyes.
    10. Standard or neutral grip width is used for 60% of bench press training time.
    11. Wide and narrow grip barbell bench grips are each used 20% of the time.
    12. Wide-grip bench press: go out one fist-width wider than standard grip.
    13. Narrow grip: one fist-width narrower than neutral/normal grip.
    14. Wide-grip builds starting power and these are paused.
    15. Narrow-grip builds finish power and are done ‘touch and go’ style.

    Touch-and-Go Barbell Bench Press

    Irish Pat Casey (lots of Irish power-men back in the day, including Cassidy and Gallagher) hits a 575 opening bench press attempt. Pat went on this day to blast up 615. Casey took this ponderous poundage out of the racks by himself and replaced the bar onto the tiny, supports without spotters. Again, these were bench presses done with 2-second pauses. Back in primordial days of yore, men sought ways to make lifts more difficult: nowadays men seek ways to make lifts easier. We resurrect this ancient philosophy of making resistance training hard – ponder the irresolvable contradiction of making resistance training easier.

    Key Technical Points

    1. Follow all the technical rules of the paused barbell bench press.
    2. No pause at the bottom turnaround.
    3. Do not bounce the barbell off the chest.
    4. Smooth transition from descent to ascent.
    5. Hard lockout, flexed elbows.
    6. Touch-and-go allows for muscular “over-load.”
    7. Overload technique promotes and instills explosiveness
    8. Overload is only allowed after previous phases are mastered

    How to Periodize

    In the world of strength training the use of periodization is standard operating procedure and should become an integral part of your training. Periodization is another word for preplanning. Elite strength athletes will lay out 3-4 months of preplanned workouts ahead of time; identifying target poundage, number of sets and reps for each and every workout.

    Hall of Fame lifter (and current world record holder) Kirk Karwoski and I would lay out his periodized training template twice a year: before the national championships and world championships. For the last few years of his career he was able to complete an entire 12-week periodized game plan without missing a single preplanned set, rep and poundage target. Other greats such as Ed Coan and Doug Furnas were equally adept.

    Kirk Karwoski squats 1003 pounds at the 1995 Nationals.

    Here is how an individual with a 200 pound squat, a 150 pound bench press, a 300 pound deadlift and a 100 pound overhead press might lay out a 12 week periodized game plan. Each set and rep combination is performed after taking as many warm-up sets as needed.

    This template can be modified and utilized regardless current strength levels.

    Key Points

    • All lifts start off at approximately 50% to 65% of current max
    • All lifts end up roughly 15% to 25% above current max
    • All lifts utilize pristine technique
    • Optional: In early phases, multiple top sets can be used
    • Never start off too high or too low

    Creating Your Own
    Periodized Training Template

    In a nutshell, the way to periodize or “cycle” any lift is as follows….

    • Create a realistic goal
    • Establish a realistic timeframe
    • Reverse engineer: work backwards with a calendar, pen and legal pad
    • Place the realist goals within a specified timeframe
    • Work backwards to establish weekly poundage benchmarks
    • Every 3-4 weeks alter the variables in anticipation of stagnation
    • When instituting changes, make them dramatic, not minor

    Scenario: let us assume a 195 pound individual is athletic, but slightly out-of-shape coming off the winter holidays; he wants to take ten weeks to lean out and shape up. His previous deadlift best was 390×1 and his leanest, most athletic and functional bodyweight in the past has been 185-188 pounds.

    In ten weeks time our hypothetical individual has morphed from a soft 195 into a rock hard 180 pounds. His deadlift, a great overall strength indicator, has leapt upward by a full 10%, from 390 for 1 rep to 435 for 1. He has regained his cardio condition by tweaking his run durations and weekly frequencies. In 70 days he has gotten himself into prime fighting condition. This is a fairly conservative example and mirrors what I do with clients and students every single week.

     

    Benefits of Strength Training – 5 Phases of Deadlift Mastery

    By Marty Gallagher

    Develop Strong Legs

    Sly Anderson demonstrates perfect start position for conventional deadlift. He will use leg power to break the 766 pound bar from floor to his knees. Weak-legged lifters might assume this position but at takeoff allow the tailbone to shoot upward to put weak legs in a more advantageous push position. Problematic, the weak-legged lifter makes a devil’s bargain and takes the easy start in return for an excruciating, spine-killing finish. Great deadlifters embrace the hard start in return for the easy finish. Note vertical shins that allow for straight up pull.

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. To build a superior deadlift build superior leg strength.
    2. Deadlift technical flaws are related to weak legs in relation to back.
    3. Weak legs send a signal to brain, “we need help!”
    4. The brain responds: “allow the hips to rise.”
    5. High hips places legs in better push position.
    6. High hips decrease the thigh push stroke.
    7. This is “avoidance compensation.”
    8. The solution is to develop leg power.
    9. Weak legs place increased stress on the spinal column.
    10. The lower back is used as the prime mover instead of the legs.
    11. The perfect deadlift is a muscular relay race.
    12. Legs start the pull, lower back takes over, upper back completes the lift.
    13. Good deadlifters trade the hard start for the easy finish.
    14. Bad deadlifters take the easy start in return for the excruciating finish.
    15. Good deadlifter contort body to accommodate straight line upward pull.
    16. Bad deadlifters make barbell conform to their out-of-position body.
    17. When completing the perfect deadlift, everything “arrives at once.”
    18. Imperfect deadlifts lock out legs first.
    19. Spine then derricks out-of-position payload poundage into place.

    Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

    Key Technical Points

    1. Think of the kettlebell and barbell Sumo deadlift as a “reverse squat.”
    2. Assume your squat stance with a kettlebell placed between feet.
    3. Squat down – don’t bend over – arms hang straight down.
    4. Grasp kettlebell with both hands.
    5. Inhale on descent, exhale on ascent.
    6. Come erect with limp arms, upright torso.
    7. Lockout completely.
    8. Descend with ever-increasing muscle tension.
    9. Touch the floor lightly with bell bottom – do not loose muscle tension.
    10. The instant bell touches floor, reverse direction.
    11. Come erect and lockout fully.
    12. No bouncing the bell off the floor at the turnaround.
    13. Observe all squat rules: erect torso, knees over ankles, knees forced out

    Sumo Deadlift

    Ed “King” Coan: the greatest powerlifter of all time. Ed pulls straight up to break the bar from floor. Coan deadlifted 901 weighing 219; pound-for-pound the greatest powerlift of all time. I was his competition coach for a decade.

     

     

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Place barbell loaded to 135 pounds at your feet, vertical shins touch bar.
    2. Squat down – don’t bend over; grip barbell between thighs; narrow grip.
    3. Do NOT set hips high – this causes “spinal derricking.”
    4. Knees over ankles; shoulders over bar – not in front.
    5. Tense entire body – break bar from floor using leg power alone.
    6. Do not let the tailbone shoot up at takeoff.
    7. Bar is pulled upward in a straight line; everything “arrives at once.”
    8. Inhale while descending.
    9. Weight plates lightly touch floor; when plates touch begin upward pull on next rep.

    Conventional Deadlift

    Gene “The Machine” Bell has embraced the difficult start and is now in perfect position to reap the reward of an easy finish. Bell, world champion and world record holder, has pulled the 800 + bar from floor to knees using leg power. He now simply drives his hips forward to finish the lift. In a perfect deadlift, sumo or conventional, shoulders never get in front of the bar: the ‘over-under’ hand grip improves grip strength by 30%. Bell, as does every great deadlifter, pulls the bar upward in a straight line and contorts his body to accommodate the straight-line pull. Bad deadlifters make the bar contort to their out-of-position body.

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Place barbell loaded to 135 (or more) at your feet.
    2. Stance width is 8-12 inches between heels, no more.
    3. Squat down with vertical shins.
    4. Grasp barbell with hands slightly outside legs using over/under grip.
    5. Shins and torso are as vertical as possible.
    6. Optimally, the torso and shins maintain position; only the femurs move.
    7. Pull barbell upward in a straight line.
    8. Everything locks out simultaneously.
    9. Improper deadlift locks legs out first, then the torso is derricked erect.
    10. Inhale on the descent: load more tension as bar approaches floor.
    11. Olympic plates touch lightly and evenly on floor.
    12. Begin the upward pull the instant the plates touch.
    13. Squat down; don’t bend over on subsequent repetitions.

    Deadlifting with Straps

    Mark Chaillet pulls 835 weighing 219 in 1980. Mark was my training partner for six years. The barbell has gotten out of position on him; his legs are straight yet the poundage is not locked out, leaving him in the unenviable position of having to derrick 835 to lockout. His best all-time lifts were an 880 deadlift and a 1,000 pound squat. Mark was King of minimalistic training. His routine never varied: on Monday he would work up to a single rep in the squat and bench press. On Thursday he would work up to a single rep in the deadlift. Each week for 12 weeks he would push upward 20 pounds in the squat and dead, 10 in the bench press. Mark never performed any other lifts of any kind! He was one of history’s great deadlifters and showed how much power could be built with so little time invested.

    Key Technical Points

    1. Follow technical point of sumo and conventional deadlift using weightlifting straps.
    2. Straps allow overload: turn a single into a triple, a 3 into a 5, a 5 into an 8.
    3. Learn how to adhere straps smoothly and effortlessly.

     

    How to Periodize

    In the world of strength training the use of periodization is standard operating procedure and should become an integral part of your training. Periodization is another word for preplanning. Elite strength athletes will lay out 3-4 months of preplanned workouts ahead of time; identifying target poundage, number of sets and reps for each and every workout.

    Hall of Fame lifter (and current world record holder) Kirk Karwoski and I would lay out his periodized training template twice a year: before the national championships and world championships. For the last few years of his career he was able to complete an entire 12-week periodized game plan without missing a single preplanned set, rep and poundage target. Other greats such as Ed Coan and Doug Furnas were equally adept.

    Kirk Karwoski squats 1003 pounds at the 1995 Nationals.

    Here is how an individual with a 200 pound squat, a 150 pound bench press, a 300 pound deadlift and a 100 pound overhead press might lay out a 12 week periodized game plan. Each set and rep combination is performed after taking as many warm-up sets as needed.

    This template can be modified and utilized regardless current strength levels.

    Key Points

    • All lifts start off at approximately 50% to 65% of current max
    • All lifts end up roughly 15% to 25% above current max
    • All lifts utilize pristine technique
    • Optional: In early phases, multiple top sets can be used
    • Never start off too high or too low

    Creating Your Own
    Periodized Training Template

    In a nutshell, the way to periodize or “cycle” any lift is as follows….

    • Create a realistic goal
    • Establish a realistic timeframe
    • Reverse engineer: work backwards with a calendar, pen and legal pad
    • Place the realist goals within a specified timeframe
    • Work backwards to establish weekly poundage benchmarks
    • Every 3-4 weeks alter the variables in anticipation of stagnation
    • When instituting changes, make them dramatic, not minor

    Scenario: let us assume a 195 pound individual is athletic, but slightly out-of-shape coming off the winter holidays; he wants to take ten weeks to lean out and shape up. His previous deadlift best was 390×1 and his leanest, most athletic and functional bodyweight in the past has been 185-188 pounds.

    In ten weeks time our hypothetical individual has morphed from a soft 195 into a rock hard 180 pounds. His deadlift, a great overall strength indicator, has leapt upward by a full 10%, from 390 for 1 rep to 435 for 1. He has regained his cardio condition by tweaking his run durations and weekly frequencies. In 70 days he has gotten himself into prime fighting condition. This is a fairly conservative example and mirrors what I do with clients and students every single week.

     

    Benefits of Strength Training – 5 Phases of Squat Mastery

    By Marty Gallagher

    Squat mastery is an important longevity tool.  As we age we lose our flexibility and mobility.  Below is a step by step process to regain this lost skill that a baby intuitively understands through the benefits of strength training.

    Ultra-deep, Paused, Weightless Squat

    Behold squat perfection: We are born with the ability to squat perfectly. Life causes us to lose this innate ability; our strategy is to “relearn” and recapture lost “primordial wisdom.” Note knees over ankles, vertical shins, upright torso; pelvis is tucked under. Baby will rise up using leg power alone. This is our core technique, our foundational position for all subsequent squats.

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. This first variation is the key squat technique, the foundation on which all subsequent squat variations are built. Learn it, master it.
    2. Find an appropriate stance width: not too wide and not too narrow.
    3. Sit back upon breaking knees.
    4. Keep weight balanced mid-foot; do not shift forward or backwards.
    5. Imagine a stake driven through the mid-foot to keep one grounded.
    6. On ALL squat variations, knees are FORCED out during descent and ascent.
    7. Synchronize the inhalation with descent.
    8. Arms can be used as counter-balance during descent and ascent.
    9. Diaphragm breathing; inhale pushing pressure into the lower abdominal.
    10. Knees should stay over ankles as much as possible.
    11. Knees should never travel out in front of toes.
    12. Ass-on-heels, we mimic the baby, we go all the way down.
    13. In the bottom position, exhale; relax and sink further, lose all tension.
    14. Inhale to ascend; use diaphragm breathing; push gut out against thighs.
    15. Alternate technique: inhale, sink to bottom and arise, exhale at top.
    16. When ascending DO NOT let the tailbone shoot up first!
    17. Perform three sets of 20 paused reps.
    18. If technique breaks down, curtail the set immediately.

    Ultra-deep, Paused, Kettlebell Goblet Squat

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Hold a kettlebell in “goblet” position.
    2. Alternatively, hold twin kettlebells in “clean” position.
    3. Adhere to all the technical points of the paused weightless squat.

    Ultra-deep, Paused Barbell Front Squat

    Olympic Weightlifting Champion Niam Suleymanoglu Front Squat

    Olympic champ Niam Suleymanoglu: front squat perfection. 463 pounds weighing 132; note vertical shins and torso.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Position a barbell in the squat rack. Step under bar facing it.
    2. Use “press grip” or the “cross-hand” over-grip.
    3. Ankles should be under the barbell, rotate pelvis forward, stand erect.
    4. Step back; take several “adjustment” steps.
    5. Adhere to all the technical points of the no-weight and goblet squat.
    6. Sit back, knees over ankles, descend all the way, knees forced outward.
    7. The lower you descend, the higher elbows are raised.
    8. At the bottom point, exhale; allow poundage to drive you down further.
    9. Pause at the bottom while maintaining an upright torso.
    10. Breath using the diaphragm; fill lower abdominal region with pressure.
    11. Alternate technique: inhale, sink to bottom and arise, exhale at top.
    12. Come erect; DO NOT let the tailbone rise up at “turnaround.”

    Ultra-deep, Paused Hi-bar Barbell Back Squat

    High Bar Squat Olympic Champion Anatoli Piserenko

    Hi-Bar squat perfection: Olympic champion Anatoli Piserenko gives 738×3 a ride: note depth and position

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Facing barbell, place left hand on bar, then right hand, grip width optional.
    2. Step under bar until ankles are under barbell.
    3. The bar sits on back where neck meets the trapezius in hi-bar position.
    4. Rotate pelvis under, stand straight up.
    5. Step back and take adjustment steps.
    6. Stance width is identical in previous squat variations.
    7. Adhere to all technical points used in previous squat variants.
    8. Inhale using diaphragm breathing; at low point exhale.
    9. Allow poundage to push you to the bottommost position.
    10. When time to ascend, inhale mightily using diaphragm inhalation.
    11. Alternate technique: inhale, sink to bottom and arise, exhale at top.
    12. Maintain upright torso; knees over ankles; knees forced out throughout.
    13. Push upwards without allowing to tailbone to rise up.

    Slightly-below Parallel, No Pause, Low-bar Back Squat

    Doug Furnas Barbell Squat

    The greatest squat technician in history: Doug Furnas squats 880 weighing 220. Note uprightness of torso, perfect depth, knees pinioned outward. This is structural and architectural perfection. I coached Doug at National and World Championships. Doug eventually squatted 986 pounds.

     

     

     

     

     

    Key Technical Points

    1. Facing barbell, place left hand on bar, then right hand, grip width optional.
    2. Step under bar until ankles are under barbell.
    3. Bar sits lower on back; on muscle shelf atop rear delts in “low-bar” position.
    4. Rotate pelvis under, now stand straight up.
    5. Step back and take requisite adjustment steps.
    6. Stance width is identical to all previous squat variations.
    7. Inhale using diaphragm breathing on the descent.
    8. Descend to a point where upper thighs are slightly below parallel to the floor.
    9. At turnaround, arise explosively.
    10. Maintain inter-abdominal pressure on descent and thru 2/3rds of ascent.
    11. Exhale 2/3rds of the way erect.
    12. Maintain upright torso throughout – keep knees over ankles throughout.
    13. Push upwards without allowing to tailbone to rise up.
    14. The knees forced out throughout.

    How to Periodize

    In the world of strength training the use of periodization is standard operating procedure and should become an integral part of your training. Periodization is another word for preplanning. Elite strength athletes will lay out 3-4 months of preplanned workouts ahead of time; identifying target poundage, number of sets and reps for each and every workout.

    Hall of Fame lifter (and current world record holder) Kirk Karwoski and I would lay out his periodized training template twice a year: before the national championships and world championships. For the last few years of his career he was able to complete an entire 12-week periodized game plan without missing a single preplanned set, rep and poundage target. Other greats such as Ed Coan and Doug Furnas were equally adept.

    Kirk Karwoski squats 1003 pounds at the 1995 Nationals.

    Here is how an individual with a 200 pound squat, a 150 pound bench press, a 300 pound deadlift and a 100 pound overhead press might lay out a 12 week periodized game plan. Each set and rep combination is performed after taking as many warm-up sets as needed.

    This template can be modified and utilized regardless current strength levels.

     

    Key Points

    • All lifts start off at approximately 50% to 65% of current max
    • All lifts end up roughly 15% to 25% above current max
    • All lifts utilize pristine technique
    • Optional: In early phases, multiple top sets can be used
    • Never start off too high or too low

    Creating Your Own
    Periodized Training Template

    In a nutshell, the way to periodize or “cycle” any lift is as follows….

    • Create a realistic goal
    • Establish a realistic timeframe
    • Reverse engineer: work backwards with a calendar, pen and legal pad
    • Place the realist goals within a specified timeframe
    • Work backwards to establish weekly poundage benchmarks
    • Every 3-4 weeks alter the variables in anticipation of stagnation
    • When instituting changes, make them dramatic, not minor

    Scenario: let us assume a 195 pound individual is athletic, but slightly out-of-shape coming off the winter holidays; he wants to take ten weeks to lean out and shape up. His previous deadlift best was 390×1 and his leanest, most athletic and functional bodyweight in the past has been 185-188 pounds.

    In ten weeks time our hypothetical individual has morphed from a soft 195 into a rock hard 180 pounds. His deadlift, a great overall strength indicator, has leapt upward by a full 10%, from 390 for 1 rep to 435 for 1. He has regained his cardio condition by tweaking his run durations and weekly frequencies. In 70 days he has gotten himself into prime fighting condition. This is a fairly conservative example and mirrors what I do with clients and students every single week.