Posts in mobility
Habits of Successful Powerlifters

In today’s climate, the access to information is easier than it has ever been. Whether it’s the 1000s of articles written around sets/reps, exercises, and training methods, or the millions of training videos posted on social media. There is no denying there are many different ways of getting strong. But, in the age of information overload, what sets the best lifters apart from the rest of the population? 

What habits do the more successful lifters share?

  1. They play the long game

If you want to be strong, you have to be in it for the long run. No one became Andrey Malanichev after 6 months of training. You won’t find many top level lifters that regularly miss training sessions. To achieve even just a decent level of success in powerlifting, training must be a priority. Skipping sessions because you’ve got a headache or work was stressful that day just won’t cut it – Guess what? The weights don’t care! Physiologically the body can only adapt at a certain rate. After a year of training, adding 10kg to your squat PB isn’t going to happen overnight. In fact, at the top level, a 10kg PB after a whole year of training would be considered a success. 

There are no shortcuts, strength gains are earned and not given. They don’t come easily and you have to consistently put the work in week to week for a very long time.

  1. They Recover Properly 

Unfortunately, despite the previous rant, the training in the gym is only a small part of becoming a successful powerlifter. In order to maximize the training adaptations, optimal recovery is key. By this I don’t mean you need to be getting in a cryotherapy chamber every night and consuming ridiculous amounts of CBD oil (despite what you might see on Instagram). Often the most simple recovery methods are overlooked, despite being the most important:

  • Sleep – most people require 7-9 hours of sleep per night to function properly. Sleep is key in reducing your bodies fatigue. If you’re getting below 7 your recovery rate is going to be drastically reduced and injury risk will increase. Going to bed earlier and having a quality nighttime routine is a really simple way of improving your recovery rate

  • Food – Are you getting enough calories in? Without adequate nutrition, you’re not going to get the training adaptations you’re looking for. Strength gains are optimized when in a caloric surplus, so simple methods such as tracking your food can have a huge impact on your results

  •  Injury Prevention – During training, little nagging injuries will inevitably creep up. Keeping on top of these by doing mobility work, foam rolling, seeing a physiotherapist, can all aid in preventing these small problems turning into full-blown injuries. The athletes who continue to progress year after year are often those who are injured the least. Injuries = lost training time, so anything you can do to prevent them will be beneficial to your powerlifting career.

Overall, improving recovery will help reduce fatigue level, reduce injury risk and optimize training adaptations, and therefore is a key aspect in the sport of powerlifting.

  1. They Embrace the Mundane

Hitting PBs during training and on the platform is great. In fact, it’s the reason we’re in the sport in the first place. At times it can seem like the top lifters are hitting PBs during every training session when trawling through social media. However, we only see a small amount of each lifters training, and these are often only the highlights of their preparation. In reality, the work that goes behind those PBs is fairly monotonous – endless sets of 5 can be fairly dull and don’t pull in the ‘likes’ that a deadlift PB does. What beginner lifters need to understand is that those boring sets of 5 are where the strength gains truly come from. 

Training in the 75-85% range for multiple sets/reps/sessions, develops both the skeletal muscle and the nervous system and allows the lifter to improve their movement pattern during each lift. New lifters often get caught up on testing their strength levels, when they should be concerned about training at a high frequency and volume in order to build their work capacity. Great lifters give as much focus to this part of training as they do the ‘fun’ heavier training. Focusing on lifting technique and producing as much force as possible (treating the lighter weights like the heavy ones) is key in developing more efficient technique and building muscular strength and size. Paying attention to this ‘boring’ part of training will later translate to those big PBs on comp day.

  1. They Believe in Themselves

Self-belief is a huge part of powerlifting. Not only for when you’re getting under a heavy squat and need to have the confidence that you can lift it, but also for your long term success. It’s very easy to see the top level lifters lifting ridiculous amounts of weight, that currently you can’t even consider unracking and get discouraged. However, all these athletes were at one point where you are now. They didn’t just suddenly squat 400kg one day. How many times do you hear people (or yourself) say ‘I’ll never be able to lift that’? This can put you in a mindset where you’re restricting your lifting potential by consistently telling yourself you’re not good enough. The guys at the top believed they had the potential to be up there with the best at some point, despite not being there at the time. Although it may seem like there’s a huge gap between where you’re at now and the best lifters in the world, have the belief that you will put the work in and eventually you will get there. After all, they managed to do it, why not you?

Wrap Up

Although there are probably exceptions to the rule, these are 4 habits that the vast majority of high-caliber powerlifters sick to. When embarking on your powerlifting journey, adopting the same approach to your training as the top lifters can go a long way in speeding up the progression and breaking through those stubborn strength plateaus. 


Tom Smith

Strength Coach

Raw Strength Gym

PS - If you’d like to join STRONG (our Powerlifting program at RSG) here’s what you get:

  • 4 Powerlifting Sessions per week with your Coach so you develop your technique safely and see rapid strength gains

  • Customised training plan written specifically for you with your body type, weak points and goals in mind - we also give you a body scan and advise on nutrition

  • Accountability and support whilst training as part of a small private team with other novice powerlifters

We aim to help you eat better, feel motivated and LOVE powerlifting with a great sense of belonging with our Barbell Club.

Go ahead and enroll now:  http://www.rawstrength.uk/strong-powerlifting-course

Or reply and we'll send you some more info.




Eat on the go and stay healthy: PART TWO

wake-work-sleep-wake-work-sleep

We all get stuck in a rut.

In fact, I believe the way we live our lives is broken.

People in the UK spend less than 2 hours of their day outside

The average british citizen will spend 47 years working, probably in a job they hate

The fitness media does a terrible job of separating facts from fiction.

And so try as we do, after doing a diet 95% of us will regain the fat lost within 3 yrs.

Back to 'stuck in a rut' mode

wake-work-sleep-wake-work-sleep

I did this once.

I worked two jobs, studied for a masters degree and tried to start a business.

It was depressing being in that cycle and not feeling like I could break out.

I cracked.

I quit.

I made some tough decisions and quit one job, quit the masters degree and built the business into Raw Strength Gym.

But most people don’t quit, they crack in a different way.

They submit. Into the black hole of a meaningless life. Every day the same. No way out.

STUCK IN A RUT FOR 47 YEARS+

Why is this?

Humans have been removed from their natural environment and placed in air-conditioned boxes.

The natural stress of our ancient environment has been replaced with modern stressors such as work (and work colleagues!), deadlines, traffic jams, social media and financial pressure.

Our body responds to modern stress just like it responded to the old sabre-toothed tiger: fight or flight.

The problem is, we are not in great danger in modern life!

We begin to crave fats and sugars as the brain believes we need more energy to fuel a fight or flight.

We may feel the need to relax after an event (read: after a typical day at work), and thus emotional eating or binge eating is more likely to occur.

Meaning...

Your Job Is Killing You

Kinda...

Anyway, don't quit your job just yet.

Here are the best ways to break out of a rut:

1) TRAIN to MANAGE STRESS

Think of every stressful situation as 'priming' your body for a fight/flight, when in reality you're just sat at work.

You MUST use those primed responses (adrenaline, cortisol etc.) or your body will start to become inflamed, and over the long term this causes real damage

Damage from chronic inflammation includes:

fatigue.

fever.

mouth sores.

rashes.

abdominal pain.

chest pain.

You gotta avoid this at all costs, and training intensely is a great way to do so!

Lift weights: squat, deadlift, do pull-ups, press-ups, kettlebell swings, sled drags. Move with purpose and aggression to burn away all that stress AND build new muscle for a healthier body.

Sprint, run, jump, do yoga, go for a walk - do SOMETHING.

2) LEARN CHEEKY FOOD COMBOS

We are currently loving the 'vegan hijack strategy' for convenient foods, allow me to explain...

Lots of food retailers now stock vegan friendly meals, which is awesome for vegans AND for everyone else.

Vegan meals are high in nutrients, fibre and protein.

If you eat meat, buy some pre-cooked meat (chicken, beef, ham etc.) and throw it on top.

If you want some carbs, buy an instant rice pot and pour some boiling water on. DONE.

Easy, right?

Food marketing and point of sale stuff (meal deals, supersize options etc.) is there to appeal to your emotions.

Just be aware that you could be making a better choice for your own health, and then make a choice by thinking outside of the box.

What else could you combine that would make an unorthodox but healthy meal?

***

So there you are guys, part two of this weeks 'Eat On The Go' series.

Train to burn stress away. Eat to build your health up.

Have a great day

Rise Above

Ant

Anthony Shaw Head Coach

Raw Strength Gym, Warrington

PS - if you want help, we have a 6 week program called RISE. You get teamwork, support, advice and a solid direction for your life so that you can feel good, look better and live a life of purpose.

Click here to find out more: http://rawstrength.co.uk/built/

An easy fitness plan

Fitness has got a bad reputation:

 

> overly complex advice

 

> differing opinions

 

> extremely boring and strict methods

 

Which leads people to flat out give up.

 

In my opinion, giving up is never a good option.

 

Especially when we’re talking about giving up on your own health, strength and really, your sanity! 

 

So is there such thing as an easy fitness plan?

 

The short answer is YES

 

The catch is - you have to LIVE it 24/7 to really get the benefits.

 

Here’s what I mean:

 

You start a new diet, let’s say low carb.

 

Week 1-2 go really well, you lose some pounds.

 

Then a minor cheat…..at the end of week 2, on a sunny Friday evening, your friend asks you out for tea.

 

You go crazy, eating pasta, pizza, bread and two bottles of wine!!!

 

What a lovely cheat meal.

 

The next day, you miss a few meals, go out for lunch and have a small beer.

 

Then Sunday, a big roast dinner and more red wine.

 

Monday rolls around, you’re completely off plan and start making the excuses…..

 

“low carb is just too restrictive”

 

“I want to have a life, not count carbs”

 

“low carb just didn’t work for me”

 

This is what I call “blah-blah-bollocks”.

 

Quite frankly these are excuses.

 

What is the REAL reason you fell off the low carb wonder-plan?

 

No Plan B.

 

Quite simply, when you don’t have a plan B, the plan B is your old, crappy eating habits.

 

So you’ll either be on the plan, or off the plan.

 

And THIS is why fitness has such a bad reputation.

 

It is a MASSIVE MISTAKE to think you're either doing it, or you’re not doing it! 

 

Don’t try and “do” fitness for a little bit.

 

Make your plan B the support plan for plan A.

 

Make plan C and D the same too.

 

Get rid of your old, bad eating habits FOREVER - and you will live the life you want, with the body you want. 

 

A FEW SIMPLE ACTIONS

 

> CALORIES - don’t do a diet - instead find a calorie target for your goal (ask a coach or work it out online)

 

> WILLPOWER - find 10000000000 ways to hit your calorie target whilst eating the foods you want (“meet you for tea? Of course. I’ll just skip the bread and have one small glass of wine thanks”)

 

> LET GO - truly let go of your old life, once and for all. You know where those habits are getting you, and it ain’t pretty.

 

Now go live a life that supports the body you want and MAKE IT EASY TO DO.

 

Rise above

 

Ant

 

Anthony Shaw

Head Coach

Raw Strength Gym, Warrington

 

PS - 

Want some motivation, help and a big challenge to kickstart your fitness?

We have 10 places left this month for our best ever 6 week transformation challenge, and it is absolutely free.

Truthfully, this is all our best stuff from the past 8 years put into one fast-track program.

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> Up to 5 sessions per week, coached - in our awesome private gym.

> Train with other people with similar goals and have fun in the gym (possibly for the first time ever)

> Begin implementing proven nutritional methods into your day-to-day life with our simple homework modules

> Ask questions and get motivated with your coach on hand online and in the gym for support

> We’ll customise your program with more strength training, conditioning or muscle building work - depending on your personal goals.

> Train in a place where everyone knows your name, cares about your progress and notices if you don’t show up!

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The goal is to notice rapid improvements in your strength & fitness

 See radical and visible changes in the mirror 

And feel on FIRE mentally.

 

Apply here: www.rawstrength.uk/free-6-week-challenge

Why fitness is confusing.

Ever had one of those lightbulb moments?

 

I have them all the time.

 

not because I'm particularly clever

 

But usually because I'm doing things so arse-backwards that when I finally see the light it's a big revelation.

 

Take lifting weights, for example.

 

When I first realised that adding a little bit of weight to the bar every month gets better results versus crushing myself every workout, it was a nice moment of clarity!

 

Less pain and more results.

 

WIN/WIN

 

There are so many of these conflicting ideas within fitness...

 

So it is super easy to be led astray.

 

Here's just a few thoughts to inspire some 'lightbulbs' of your own:

 

1) Eating more means you can train harder and progress quicker. Don't starve.

 

2) Being mentally relaxed when lifting weights stops emotional burn out. Less raging and grunting, more calmness and jokes.

 

3) Running puts the body into a stressed state. Body fat can't be used for energy when you're stressed. Walk and lift weights for better results.

 

4) Sitting down causes back pain, not your zumba class or lifting weights or spinning. It's your posture. Stretch.

 

5) ^^^ related to this ^^^^ muscle is elastic tissue. Stretching once per week won't help much because the tissue springs back to prior poor flexibility. Stretch every day.

 

6) Use a food diary to plan what you're about to eat, not to record what you've already eaten.

 

7) Start worrying about your fat intake rather than your carb intake. Your body requires fat to produce many hormones. Poor hormones = poor fat loss and inefficient muscle gain.

 

8) Omega-3s are not just a supplement, they are crucial for your health.

 

Modern farming has removed omega-3s from our ancient sources: meat, fish, eggs. So the 'caveman' version of us had TONS of it. We have none.

 

From now on, see taking fish oil/omega-3 oil as putting back in the good stuff that commercial farming has removed.

 

9) Sleep in 90 minute sleep cycles, e.g. 6 hours is 10X better than 5.5 hours because it's 4 full 90 min cycles versus 3 full cycles. Nobody is quite sure why this is, but research confirms it.

 

How many 90 min cycles do you get right now? 4-5 every night is the goal.

 

10) ^^^related to this^^^ you CAN catch up on your sleep. So if you have a bad night, or lose a 90 min sleep cycle one night. Then add an extra one on the weekend, or have a 90 min nap.

 

Therefore, if aiming for 4 or 5 90 min cycles per night, you must aim for a weekly sleep target of 28-35 90 min cycles. Or 42-52.5 hours per week. This makes you feel less stressed about losing sleep believe me!

 

***

 

Have any lightbulb moments?

 

If you want more, join our 6 in 60 day shred because my team and I will change your lifestyle for good.

 

We'll give you step-by-step instructions

 

Potentially be straight up with the truth, the brutal truth, if you need to hear it....

 

....and you'll enjoy training with a team, with a coach helping you out, in our awesome, private gym.

 

Main thing is the RESULT for you, which will be a 6kg loss of body fat in 60 days or your money back.

 

best transformation wins £600 too!

 

....and more strength, more muscle, more fun, more health, more energy, more friends....

 

I could go on and on, but just go here to read about it:

 

men click here: http://www.rawstrength.uk/mens-60-day-challenge

 

women click here: http://www.rawstrength.uk/60-day-shred-challenge

 

talk soon

 

Ant

Fancy dining logic bro....

I love eating out, one of the best meals I've ever had was in Hawksmoor, Manchester.

 

Oak panels, secret passages, old-world feel, old fashioned whiskeys, steak, wine...... you gotta try it.

 

Anyway....

 

Fancy dining is great, but I don't depend entirely on restaurant meals for my nutrition.

 

That'd be stupid, right?

 

Instead I eat 'bog standard' meals. Rice, oats, chicken, tuna etc. Most of the time.

 

Once a week, I may go out for a nice meal.

 

But that's it.

 

Imagine if I tried to sustain my body on that one fancy meal each week, then starved myself all the other days, what do you think would happen to my 'gains' ?

 

I'd lose muscle, lose fitness, pile on the weight for sure.

 

Maybe even DIE.

 

Now looking at training, it's crazy that people are doing this exact same thing, training once a week with all the bells and whistles.....

 

....and expecting to sustain/improve their fitness and health.

 

Uh....hang on a sec.

 

Once a week isn't enough in any area of life.

 

Once a week learning spanish and you've forgotten all the words by the time the next lesson rolls around

 

Once a week training and your squishy, organic body detrains back to it's original fitness level by the second week

 

once a week eating....you'd probably die

 

The nice thing is we have hunger hormones that remind us to eat every few hours.

 

We don't have logic hormones that remind us to train every day!

 

Once a week yoga or massage is also like a fancy meal....your body needs daily practice/rehab to sustain it's mobility and health.

 

Doing the daily tasks is tough, I get it.

 

That's where a coach comes in handy.

 

Something I find helps stimulate my training 'hunger hormones' to remind me to train more often is:

 

Productive Downtime.

 

'What the hell is that?' I hear you say!

 

Well, it's this.....

 

Rather than sit on the sofa watching a film on the weekend....

 

I sit on the floor and STRETCH whilst watching that same film

 

or

 

Rather than cook one meal in the evening, I'll cook double portions and set aside a meal for tomorrow.

 

or

 

Rather than finish my workout and go home, I'll sit on the floor and stretch/roll out and PLAN my next workout, I'll write my goal weights in my journal and get my mind onto the next workout asap.

 

Funny thing is we all have the same 24 hours in a day

 

So how do i have time for these things and you don't?

 

Either bad time management OR the real reason.

 

Real reason is:

 

you don't want it bad enough

 

You just think you do.

 

So dig deep, look in the mirror, find the real reason that you want to get in shape.

 

Embarassed taking your top off on the beach/swimming pool?

 

Can't fit into your old jeans anymore?

 

Want to look awesome on your wedding day? (or just as good as you looked on your wedding day?)

 

Want to inspire your kids to get into fitness and strength?

 

Whatever it is that's YOUR reason, it will drive you.

 

Sure, there are goals along the way like 'lose 5lbs' 'bench 100kg' 'run 5k in less than 25 mins' etc.

 

But they are purely goals.

 

they aren't DRIVERS.

 

What's your driver?

 

let me sum up....

 

> once per week isn't enough in any area of health or fitness, do MORE

 

> like hunger hormones remind you to eat, a coach will remind you to train and stretch - invest in some expert help

 

> practice productive downtime. Stretch, meal prep, recover when you have spare time.

 

> stop saying 'I don't have time waaaaa' instead SEARCH for your real emotional driver and go get after it, you can achieve anything you want when you find that inner fire.

 

 

Train hard

 

Ant

 

PS - our next '6' in 60 day shred challenge opens for applications this Sunday.

 

it's only £44 per week for a GUARANTEED loss of 6kg of body fat, you'll get coaching 3-4x per week, train in our awesome private gym with the whole RSG family alongside you.

 

but, only 20 places until that program is completely sold out

 

So click below and get on the early bird registration:

 

men click here: http://www.rawstrength.uk/mens-60-day-challenge

 

women click here: http://www.rawstrength.uk/60-day-shred-challenge

Coaches Corner: Surviving on the Side Line

Every lifter, athlete and gym goer will experience it, even those who take the time to warm up, mobilising, prehab and use correct form within a correctly structed exercise program… you will, at some point get injured.

I know the pain of being side-lined (as I write this is I am suffering from a shoulder injury.)

More often than not it’s the sensible, logical option to rest and recover, I know from experience that pushing an existing injury only leads you down a path filled with pain and even longer periods of time away from the gym and limiting play time.

Be you an athlete or recreational lifter, minor injury can be seen to “come with the territory” an outcome of pushing yourself to the limits, while this is somewhat true, it is not a factor that should be glazed over or taken lightly.

We (men especially) are creatures of ego and our competitive nature can often lead us to try and trudge through the pain.

I’m here to tell you that 1 week of rest is ALWAYS worth it, compared to the potential months, year or lifetime on the side-line that came from that one extra session where you pushed your sore back/shoulder/ankle/knee and led to your now long term and previously preventable injury.

I speak from experience I have in the past played through injuries, as an elite sportsman it’s hard to give in to logic when an injury occurs during an event like a world championships, the blood, sweat and tears that got you there drives you forward to push through, the lifelong problems and dysfunction that follows are not on your mind at the time.

So, I’m going to assume you have now made the correct and logical decision and will not be training through the pain, you have booked a physio appointment and treated yourself to a sports massage. (well done, high five, gold star)

The biggest issue is how are you going to cope with the lack of activity, after all you don’t want to sit on the couch for the next week/month watching your hard-fought muscle mass turn to squidgy mush!

Don’t worry I’m here to help.


1. Don’t panic

Do you know how long it takes for muscles mass to break down once we become inactive?

It will feel like you muscle is wasting away the very next day (for some of the more paranoid meat heads it might even feel instantaneous when we receive the news!)

In reality it can take up to 12 weeks until major losses in muscle mass, this does of course depend on how much muscle you have and what your training for, so a highly-tuned athlete or bodybuilder might start losing mass after only 2 weeks, but you can also expect an impressive uptake in muscle mass once returning to exercise.

Stressing about it will actually do more damage and change nothing, just chill and let your body do the healing.


2. Eat clean

A classic reaction to being injured is the “F this” binge.

We are upset and frustrated by being side-lined, we can’t be as active as we would like to be and we find ourselves sitting around the house dreaming of the gym or playing our sport… the human subconscious reaction is to reach for the cake… STOP!

Nothing good came from the bottom of a biscuit barrel, all you will achieve is a sugar crash, an overwhelming sense of guilt and the beginnings of a set of love handles.

Stick to your diet, bring the carbs down if you want to prevent excess fat gain (to compensate for your lack of exercise) but don’t let yourself get hungry enough to resort to rubbish food.


3. Work Arounds

What’s injured? Your wrist? No reason you can run.

Broke your foot? Work on your upper body.

Of course, always seek the advice of your doctor and physio, but despite multiple broken bones, muscle tears and pulls I have always found there is some way to work around an injury.

We have trained clients sporting full blown casts before, it is down to the type of injury and the individual’s mindset and determination as to what is possible.


4. Become obsessed with Rehab

No one likes rehab, more often than not the exercises are simple and (thanks to your dysfunctions) super hard, but steel your mind, start to look towards the benefits. The rehab exercises are hard because you suck at it or are weak performing those movements, that’s why you got injured in the first place, remind yourself that these exercises are potentially the most impactful thing you could be doing.

I gained more muscle and strength in my upper back when I was prescribed a superset of light face pulls, blackburns and Y-W-T-L’s following an injury despite years of performing heavy rows, lat pulls downs and pull ups.

I hope this will help you next time you find yourself out of action, and cheer you up to know that there are ways to work around any injury and that no injury lasts forever.


Stay strong

Jay
S&C Coach
aw Strength Gym


P.S. 

Have you joined our FREE Facebook group The Fit Life Community? 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/thefitlifecommunity/
 

We're currently discussing how to make consistent progress after 40 and are taking registrations for our upcoming FREE 14 Day Fat Loss Challenge kicking off on New Year's Day!
 

If you haven't joined yet click here below, or share the group with anyone you know that might want a little help getting in shape in 2017:
 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/thefitlifecommunity/

 

COACHES CORNER - Stop Dysfunction: Prevent Injury and Increase Performance by Warming Up Correctly

It was my first time playing for the seniors, I was 15 and knew nothing about anything, up until this point every game from warm up to cool down was run by a coach, I had never really thought about how or why I should warm up.

Anyway, I turned to the senior captain and asked what I should do to warm up, he replied “ah just summa deez and then we will be good to go” swinging his arms out and in a couple of times, touched the floor, shook out his legs and he was done. 

I responded in kind and got ready for the game, 5 minutes in my hamstring popped, I missed the rest of the season and to this day 15 years later I still have issues with my left hamstring.

What I now know is that a warm up isn’t just there to raise your heart rate, anyone who has been made to “just run a lap” ahead of a game or training session will know that is often the extent of a warm up, but a good warm up is also able to mobilise (open up) our joints and prepare for the activity we are about to perform, a great warm up and cool down will even take some time to work on existing dysfunctions and work towards fixing them.

I could write a thesis on the myriad of common drills to help mobilise and correct dysfunctions in athletes so let’s looks at just two areas the Shoulders and the Hips, these are the two major joints we use while powerlifting and the two areas where I tend to see the most dysfunction; I will give you a way to mobilise and activate the muscles and joints, both of which will potentially improve each joints function and help prevent injury. 

 

The Shoulders

Mobilise: Shoulder Dislocates

A simple exercise to open up your shoulder joint that only requires a mini band or light weight pole simple hold the band wider than shoulder width with your elbows locked out and bring it over your head down towards your bum, release your elbows and bring it back over your head. Do this slowly and feel the stretch at the band contracts against the movement, to advance the movement, bring your hands closer together. 

Activation: Banded Y’s 

This exercise also only requires a mini band to perform, simply loop your band around a fulcrum at hip height, from there grab the band with your hands wider than your shoulders similar to the last exercise. Keep your arms straight and bring them up either side of your head to create a Y shape, squeeze at the very top of the movement to activate not only your shoulders but the rest of your upper back. 

 

The Hips

Mobilise: Hip Grinder

Setting up in a push up position bring one foot up and outside of your elbow, keeping the heel down on the ground, from there we are going to move around holding this position, push into your hips over and over again using your hips to create a figure of 8 motion. You should feel your whole hip girdle loosen as we progress, change legs and repeat as needed. 

A variation using a mini band can be shown here, however this exercise is perfectly good without band resistance: 

https://youtu.be/5Ae_d2eUAbw 

 

Activation: Fire Hydrants 

Set yourself on the floor on your hands and knees, clamp your heel tightly to your glute and then draw progressively bigger and bigger circles with your knee, remember to resist the urge to kick out with your foot instead focusing on keeping your heel as close to your glute as possible.

We demonstrate this exercise in our Youtube series, the exercise has been timestamped for you below:

https://youtu.be/jop5kavrPpM?t=2m44s 

 

Want to learn more about improving your shoulders and hips?

Check out our video series below:
 

Fixing Hip Impingement & Hip Pain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZSKmdmFzbc
 

Fixing tight Necks, Shoulders & Hips

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jop5kavrPpM 

 

Remember to implement these movements before your next session at the gym, and keep those shoulders and hips healthy!
 

Jay
Strength & Conditioning Coach

P.S. If you want some more information about both training and nutrition, join our FREE Facebook Group The Fit Life Community. We'll give you advice on your own training, and you can get the answers to those burning questions!

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The Coolest Things I’ve Learned Recently

I love learning, I read 1-2 books every week, usually non-fiction on business, marketing, strength and conditioning or nutrition…but occasionally I’ll read some fiction – it really helps my brain to switch off after a hard day of work!

 

So why do I learn? Because I have a lot of goals that I want to achieve in my life and at the moment, I don’t know how to achieve them as fast as I’d like. This is where most people would jump back and give up. If you don’t know how to do something, does that mean you won’t achieve it? Of course not! You just learn how to do it, work hard and the results will come.

 

Right now think of your goals; lose a stone, deadlift 300kg, perform 100 press-ups or whatever it is. Now ask yourself these two questions:

1. Do I know everything I could possibly learn to achieve this goal?

 

2. Even if I think I know how to achieve this goal, is it possible that I’m taking the wrong approach and could do with learning a new method?

 

You see, learning is an indirect way of achieving your goals….the other key is taking action. You need to do both!

 

So to help you out with some knowledge, here are the best things I’ve learned recently:

 

YOU CAN ARCH TOO MUCH IN THE LOWER BACK:

 

  • When deadlifting or doing lower body strength movements, a good arch in the lower back may be TOO much of an arch. It may be hyperextension of the lumbar spine.

 

  • This can be quite slight too, so keep an eye on your technique (ask someone or video yourself with your phone).

 

  • Your spine should be in the same position when bent over as it is when you’re stood up. Neutral and supported by the abs and back muscles.

 

  • A good indication of an excessive arch is an extreme hamstring stretch in the bottom position and a dull tightness in the lower back during or after the workout.

 

 

PRACTISING MOVEMENT EACH DAY WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER:

 

  • Drop into a squat position every morning, afternoon and evening. Daily. Your body learns to hold that bottom position and you’ll feel when your muscles are too tight and need stretching, you’ll also feel when you’re ready for a tough workout.

 

  • Holding tough positions multiple times a day, like yoga positions or tough isometrics like the bottom of a press-up or one-arm press-up will develop strength really quickly. You don’t have to kill yourself either.

 

  • Personally, I practice pistols (one legged squats) twice a day, every day, to work on my strength. Then some variation of a press-up, e.g. spiderman press-up, hindu press-up, handstand press-up etc to work on my mobility/balance.

 

 

 

These two things could make a big difference to the way your main workouts feel!

 

So remember: Try keeping your spine tight and straight when you lift, or keep an eye on the people you coach to make sure they’re ok. Then practice 1-2 movements daily (either for strength or mobility).

 

Keep learning!

 

Ant

 

Grab your FREE training and nutrition book HERE – This book contains all of my best knowledge to help you SMASH your goals – go get it! 

Quick (But Lasting) Ways to Fix Your Lower Back Pain

 

Ah, the lower back. Almost every week I get a couple of questions from people with a tight and painful lower back. Or when people first sign-up to my gym, the constant use of muscles they’ve never trained before can cause a lot of tightness and pain in the lower back.

 

Usually this is because when you train the muscles of your back and legs as opposed to the more frequently trained chest and back – those untrained muscles are weak!

 

 

But the biggest issue we face each day that causes this pain and weakness in the lower back is this:

 

YOU SIT DOWN TOO MUCH!

 

You know you sit down too much, you know you could get up and adjust/stretch your muscles every hour (if not every 30 mins in an ideal situation), so why aren’t you?

 

First, let’s take a look at the most common issues that come from sitting down, then I’ll show you how to fix them.

 

Here are the biggest health issues to come from hours of sitting:

 

  • The hip flexor muscles shorten and get tight – These muscles are located in the tops of your thighs but their origin is the lumbar spine. So simply by sitting, you are tightening up the cables that pull on your lower back.

 

  • The glutes/bum muscles have most of your bodyweight stacked on top of them whilst in a relaxed state. This teaches your body to never contract these muscles and they basically switch off EVEN when you’re stood up.

 

  • The upper back/thoracic spine is usually rounded like Quasimodo. The shoulder blades are stretched apart; causing the scapula retractors to lose strength and, like the glutes, switch off.

 

 

  • The abdominals and lower back stop supporting the spine – which they would do when you stand – and again, they weaken and switch off. This is even worse when you have a back rest. You are laying your spine on the back rest like a lazy, wet piece of string.

 

  • Your shoulders are constantly in internal rotation, that is, they are not in neutral (see pic below). This is worsened when you have to reach for a keyboard or laptop. What this means is your chest and internal rotators of the shoulder get shortened and tight, the external rotators get stretched and weak. Again, you start to look like you’ve escaped Notre Dame and stolen a shirt and tie.

 

 

 

To summarise: Sitting will f*ck you up!

 

In one day you’ve managed to tighten your hip flexors, shoulders and glutes and weakened your upper back, abs, lower back and glutes.

 

The body works as one piece, one wonderful flow of different muscles and joints all working in sync. When you take one piece out (for example, switching the glutes off) the body will struggle to move but probably be ok – at least for the short term. When you take out your hips, spine and shoulders, you are in trouble!

 

And this typically manifests itself in a tight lower back: there’s simply no support from the surrounding muscles.

 

So here are the best ways I’ve found to fix your lower back tightness:

 

1. Hip Flexor Stretch:

 

This position is literally the opposite of sitting, and doing it daily (preferably every hour but I wouldn’t expect that unless you were in chronic pain or extremely dedicated!) will sort out a lot of lower back pain. This may be the quick fix you’re looking for, as I explained before though, there are a lot of issues that arise from sitting down, test a few fixes before deciding what works!

 

 

2. Hip Grinder:

 

This mobility drill helps to loosen up the glutes and hamstrings that are almost matted together from your constant sitting on top of them. They aren’t designed to be sat on! So try this drill and feel the looseness in your lower back and hips….it’s a painful one at first!

 

 

3. Ball Roll Glutes:

 

Again, simply helps to free up the muscle fibres that have become glued together and really tight. Any direct soft tissue manipulation like this is a great way to improve the health of your muscles….again, this hurts like hell on your first couple of days. But remember: sometimes that’s what it takes!

 

 

 

Add in a few strength moves to strengthen the whole body; lunges, squats, sprints, press-ups and pull-ups and you can offset the problems of constantly sitting down.

 

Finally, just sit up straighter! Tense the abs, just slightly, lengthen your spine, get your back off the back rest and just sit taller. At first this may even be a struggle, definitely a struggle to remember to do anyway, so aim to adjust yourself from ‘dead body in a basket mode’ to ‘best posture in the world mode’ at least twice a day. Then build up from there.

 

Stand up more often and adjust your position whilst you’re working.

 

Strengthen and mobilise your body when you’re at home or at the gym.

 

Who knows, you may even get a promotion by looking like you care about your work a little more too!

 

Ant

 

Grab your FREE training and nutrition book HERE – This book contains all of my best knowledge to help you SMASH your goals – go get it!

 

Rugby Strength Show #13 - Two Easy & Daily Recovery Movements

It's been a great summer….unless you've been crushed by your coach in pre-season training! But hey, rugby's a tough sport for tough guys…and girls, so sometimes you gotta put the work in or you simply won't be fit enough when the season starts. The problem is that with an increased volume of training, your recovery needs also increase. Very simply, you need to look after yourself.

This means:

 

1. More sleep

2. More healthy food and water

3. More light recovery workouts and mobility drills

 

Today's show is to help you get into a regular routine of mobility work, cos let's face it, stretching can be a pain-in-the-ass to remember and boring as hell to do!

So in this video I make it really easy to do, challenge yourself to try it daily for 2 weeks and you'll really enjoy the difference.

REMEMBER: Recover faster and you'll get quicker gains!

 

 

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel by clicking HERE and remember to grab your FREE e-book on training, diet and recovery right HERE.

 

Ant