Setting Up For A Stronger Squat [Tips For A Stronger Unrack]

derrington wright Dec 12, 2018

Staying in the same vein of my last article I’ll be giving you some tips on things you could be doing to make your setup in the squat more efficient.

There is a lack of attention that is paid to how people bring the bar out of the rack. I am no exception to that and I used to be the same way.

My squat form has always been decent, but I’ve never paid a lot of attention to my squat-unrack. Then I came across the quote, “If it starts badly it’s probably going to end worse”. Then it clicked; if my setup is bad my squat is likely going to be bad too (or at least not as strong and efficient as it could be). I knew the importance of breathing, bracing, foot placement etc. during the actual movement, but when it came to unracking the bar, my only thought was to get the bar out of the rack without dying. Hopefully, I can save some of you from making the same mistakes I have.

Below I’m going to note a few things that I don’t think lifters focus enough...

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A Guide To Hook Grip And Dropped Deadlifts

brady cable Nov 19, 2018

Grip in the deadlift is an issue that not everyone has a problem with. Something that those who do struggle with grip loss know it to be all too frustrating. Someone once said to me “if you haven’t had a grip problem, you might just not be strong enough to have a grip problem yet”. People who often use straps for much of their training find their grip might become the limiting factor in their competition deadlift over other parts of their body. One of the most disappointing things in powerlifting is locking out a big PR deadlift, especially on the platform, and then dropping it near or at lockout. Knowing your body had all the strength required to lift the weight, but your hands did not. Between this and a growing fear or possibly awareness of the possibility of bicep tears, using a double overhand hook grip is something that’s becoming increasingly popular within the sport. I don’t think hook grip is the only solution to grip problems, or even a...

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Intensity And Pre-Workout

ben pollack Oct 31, 2018

Ben Pollack is one of this generation’s greatest lifters and geniuses, a physical culture expert, world record holder and US Open powerlifting champion. Know as “PhDeadlift” on social media, Ben is currently wrapping up his PhD and is one of the most educated and insightful competitors to grace the platform. Check out his site at phdeadlift.com.

Confession time: I’m a preworkout junkie.  The adrenaline rush from lifting alone is great, but combine that with a boatload of caffeine and every other stimulant under the sun, and even light training days can feel more exciting.  Plus, all that extra energy obviously has a performance-enhancing effect, as well.

Or does it?

In reality, as fun and useful as stimulants can be for lifting, they can be really detrimental, too — especially if you tend to rely on them too much, or find that you can’t lift well without them.  The problem is compounded by most of the preworkout...

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The Self-Unrack: Setup Tips For A Stronger Bench

derrington wright Oct 09, 2018

A lot of people tend to give me a funky look when they see me doing self unracks, especially, with max weights. Let me start off by saying, if you have a great spotter to lift off for you, then totally do that. But bad handoffs happen fairly often and if you’ve gotten a bad hand off, then you know how hard it is to recover. After having noticed this problem, I had the best experience at 2016 USAPL nationals. I had a spotter named Eric Curry, and his lift off technique was literally the best I had ever seen or experienced.  It was so remarkable that I jokingly told myself that I’d never let anyone lift off for me unless it was him. Soon after, I started practicing self-handoffs out of pure curiosity. In addition, I usually lift alone so I thought it would be beneficial to learn. With all that said, here are a few reasons why I think everyone, especially competitive powerlifters, should learn how to effectively and efficiently unrack the bar on their own...

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The Ultimate Warm-Up Guide 1.0

kyle young Oct 03, 2018

There is a reason why the most skilled lifters are also generally stronger and in better shape. If you want to learn their secrets keep reading…

One of the biggest mistakes I see in the gym for beginner and intermediate athletes is their lack of intent and planning on their warm ups or the weights they load. It’s very important to plan the first weights you choose to put on the bar and make smart jumps on the way up to your working load, starting at 50% may not be the best idea. At the same time working up to a heavy single, and starting the first 3 sets of your workout with the following reps 15, 12, 10 may not be an ideal way to prime your body for the task at hand or wake up your type 2 muscle fibers.

A few key points before we go any further. This general outline is only covering your warm up progressions, not your pre-warm up movements, or mobility issues.

It should be noted that the warm ups and loading schemes outlined here are not the way I would have...

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Understanding Mobility And Stability For Strength Athletes

cassandra strunk Oct 02, 2018

Oftentimes we hear clients and fellow athletes reporting that their warm up routine consists of 30 minutes or more of “stretching” or “rolling” or “smashing” their muscles, only to find themselves back to being “tight” the next training day or feeling little to no benefit in their performance. It’s not uncommon for people to go straight to general mobility drills when the time comes to “warm up” for training. It’s very common for people to give little thought to stability or activation drills prior to their main movement or sport.

Before you continue reading, let me say this early on in this piece: we are not saying to ditch all your mobility drills; some people are “tight” and they need to address it. This article was written to shine a light on the consideration of stabilization exercises in your training, particularly during your warm up. It was written to further expand on the concept...

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Why We Start With Bracing And Spinal Mechanics First

brady cable Sep 28, 2018

Whether you’ve been following our content for years or you’re just starting to dive in, you’ve likely noticed we start many of our corrective strategies with bracing and spinal mechanics. We don’t do this to over simplify the process but, because so often the dysfunction or issue in question is driven by poor spinal mechanics. Bracing is a logical place to go for people with back pain or other issues directly related to their spine, but it’ll also explain some ways in which spinal mechanics influence the mechanics of distal joints, like hips and shoulders.

It’s worth outlining what we’re even talking about with regards to either bracing or spinal mechanics and put some context to it.  In many cases, this article will be directed towards powerlifters or other sagittal plane athletes but can applied broadly to other types of athletes as well depending on the situation.

Positional Changes

Why we feel bracing is so important begins with a...

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Training Is A Job

ben pollack Sep 17, 2018

Ben Pollack is one of this generation’s greatest lifters and geniuses, a physical culture expert, world record holder and US Open powerlifting champion. Know as “PhDeadlift” on social media, Ben is currently wrapping up his PhD and is one of the most educated and insightful competitors to grace the platform. Check out his site at phdeadlift.com.

I was lucky enough to get the chance to chat with Chris Duffin about training recently.  It was a great conversation because we both have a similar mental approach to training: if we’re going to make it worthwhile, we need to go into the gym with a very concrete goal in mind.  And the more frequently we do that, the better.  While light days have their place in any sound training program, they’re just not fun.

But as Chris pointed out, training doesn’t always have to be fun.  He put it really simply: training is your job.  I love that analogy, because I think...

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The Ultimate Hamstring Strain / Tear Recovery Guide

chris duffin Sep 12, 2018

While this piece is specifically around hamstring strain recovery the concepts can be applied across a number of similar soft tissue injuries.  Also understand its important to seek a qualified professionals assessment.  As the following content is not intended to be taken as medical advice but more simply as a sample training plan during the recovery process.

As a resource here are some provider searches that I can recommend.

http://www.rehab2performance.com

http://www.clinicalathlete.com

http://movementproviders.com

Outside of direct accident, nearly all muscle strains or tears can be traced to two issues.  Either training levels were accumulating fatigue at a higher rate than adaptation or recovery, or there were faulty movement patterns.  Typically the first of those two is the reason and referencing Tim Gabbet’s work is often accompanied with weekly increases in volume above 10-15%.  However in my in experience the latter often comes into play...

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Can Your Neck And Tongue Activity Improve Your Barbell Lifts?

chris duffin Aug 27, 2018

Let’s start by clarifying that this article is nothing more than a summary of my thoughts based on personal observation, coaching, and discussions with clinicians and professors over the years.  It is not summary of research or definitive fact, albeit from an anecdotal aspect I can consistently drive positive change when fine tuning based on the principles in this piece.

Over the years, I have observed a direct relationship between deep neck flexors and quality of bracing and output of force production. This relationship can be affected by a number of variables and isn’t one simple variable.  There is not one cue or position that will increase your force production or improve bracing quality, nor one sign that will let you know there is a potential problem or opportunity in addressing this area.  However, there is a set of overarching principles I have developed that will make it easy to understand and manage.  It may also explain why certain...

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