Monday, September 27, 2010

Monday Mashup

A little off topic, but a delightful way to get a great fall week off to a great start.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sport Expert Website and Weightlifting Exercise Calculator

For weightlifting groupies...

If you are wondering if your classical lifts are in line with each other, or with your assistance lifts, check out the Sport Expert weightlifting calculator. The site also has some very good technique analysis from international competitions.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Teaching the Squat: My Philosophy

The squat is fundamental to physical health and athletic development. Load the kinetic chain of the lower extremity in a balanced, efficient manner; then unload. Create a base of support (BoS), control your center of mass (CoM) through a range of motion. In the process, you train awareness, alignment, mobility, strength, power, strength endurance, power endurance—whatever you need.

I probably teach the squat a bit differently than many of my rehab and athletic development colleagues. My squat instruction is based upon a weightlifting squat, not a powerlifting squat or a wall sit. All single leg and other squat variations (speed, pause, partial) and hex or straight bar deadlifts flow from this movement. Remember, we are training a whole body movement pattern, not any one muscle group.

The body moves down and the torso stays tall, parallel with the shin. The knee must go over the toe and there is an emphasis on feeling the full foot pressing against the floor, not just the heel. The foot is balanced and the center of pressure about the foot is dynamic throughout the movement. The athlete learns to feel and control the balance. For me and for weightlifters, the squat is a means to an end, not an end in itself. We only need to squat loads that prepare us for our life and sport task. The focus is on quality of movement and the context the squat has in the current training plan.


1. Start tall, bar on upper traps. About shoulder width, toes out slightly.

2. Shoes are a must. Weightlifting shoes are preferred.

3. Head is neutral. Eyes slightly down

4. Grip the bar with thumb around the bar; no wide grip.

5. Initiate lowering the body with ankle and knee flexion, balance then with hip flexion.

6. Push knees out on descent and ascent.

7. Feel the floor with your entire foot as you lower body. Stay balanced.

8. Keep a neutral, stable spine. No need to hyperextend or over-contract back extensors.

9. Feel hips, thighs, ankles and feet work as you push yourself back up.

10. Control down, strong up. Bring hips over knees, don’t pull knees back under hips.

11. Finish tall with hips under shoulders. Avoid excessive hip forward thrust.

12. Depth is individual and varies with mobility, body type and possibly experience. The goal is below parallel.

Below are two videos. The first shows a novice weightlifter--a high school junior--squatting at the end of a weightlifting training session. The second video is of two elite Chinese weightlifters training at The Arnold Weightlifting Championships. Same movement styles. Up and down with focus.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Mastering the Split Snatch

Here are a few clips of Kara's progress over the last 5 weeks. After training for a few days, it became clear to me that Kara would benefit from trying the split snatch. If someone has ankle, hip flexor, or shoulder/t-spine mobility limitations, the split snatch can be a great alternative. It is a very beautiful, athletic movement, as Kara demonstrates. Can you see the changes in her posture and overall mobility?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Friday Thoughts

So glad Friday is here. It has been a long, but good week. Supposed to be beautiful this weekend, in the 70's. I am so ready for fall.

Recently, many of my CF friends have taken a greater interest in working on their mobility. This a good thing. Joint health and movement skill require a flexible, supple musculoskeletal system. One cannot effectively use strength and power without good mobility.

My four building blocks of physical health are awareness, alignment, mobility and strength. A training plan must develop all aspects of your movement system, not just strength and power. Mobility must be integrated and developed within the context of what you need to do. It must be a part of your training, not a random afterthought. If your programming is mindful and purposeful, then your training will not only work to make you stronger. It will also work to address your strength in the context of your mobility needs. Quality strength and power movement grooves mobility.

So I urge my friends to think about why they have the mobility issues they have. What movements in your programming might contribute to your mobility and pain issues? The body adapts to the quality and type of movements it is asked to do. That's how rehab and super-compensation work. The therapist and coach apply training overload to create positive adaptations. If inappropriately applied or poorly constructed, training programs can also lead to negative adaptations and imbalances.

Your body depends on you to think, not just do.