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Sunday, December 14, 2014

The 7 Moves You Should Be Doing (and why)


  1. This is written with the understanding that you are injury free.
  2. The moves listed below will not alone make you bigger, smaller, more tone, stronger, etc.  To achieve goals, you will need to use these moves performed in the proper set/rep scheme with proper nutrition.  Depending on goals, cardio and yoga could also be recommended.
  3. If possible, try to use a mirror or a partner to help cue your form through these exercises.
    1. I HIGHLY recommend hiring an experienced strength coach/personal trainer to learn all the movements listed below.  (Not just writing that because I am both, but because safety is essential and performing any of these incorrectly can result in injury.  




  • Back Squat
    • Approach the bar so that your head is aligned down the middle of the bar, duck your head underneath and set the bar on your upper back, not your neck
    • Stand up and take one step back.
    • Eyes set on a point slightly higher than your natural eye line, keep your chest up and shoulders back.
    • Keeping the majority of your weight on your heels, slowly drop your hips as if reaching back for a chair with your butt.  
    • Sink until your hips are as low as your knees.
    • Once there, drive through your heels and stand back up. 
    • Inhale on the drop, exhale as you rise.
      • Alternate movements: leg press; hack squat; body-weight squat; dumbbell squat (db's high); machine leg press; squat jumps; box jumps
Sarah in mid-squat.  Notice that because the majority of her weight is on her heels, her knees are in great alignment and the center of the knee is behind her toes.
  • Dumbbell Chest Press
    • Laying on your back with the dumbbells held high.
    • Feet, back, butt and head are always contacting the bench and floor (feet).  
    • Breathe in and slowly drop the dumbbells, bending your elbows and dropping them to a 90' angle. 
    • Once there, exhale and press through your palms, reaching for the ceiling.
      • Alternate movements: machine chest press; push up; barbell chest press; plyometric push ups
Perfect position at the bottom of the press.  I prefer an angle to the hands/wrists (as pictured) as well, to help influence a strong squeeze to the top of the movement.  
  • Dumbbell Shoulder Press
    • Standing with dumbbells at your shoulders.
    • Feet are set under your hips with a very slight bend in your knees.  You do not need to be anywhere near a half squat, but you don't want to stand with knees locked out.   
    • Exhale and press the weights to the sky.
    • Inhale as you drop your elbows to the same height (or slightly lower) as your shoulders, hands/weights directly in line with your elbows.
      • Alternate movements:  Machine shoulder press; barbell shoulder press; smith machine shoulder press; hand stand push ups.
The shot on the right is perfect.  In my opinion, in the pic on the left, his finish is a little low.  I prefer to teach clients to finish a few inches higher than what is shown here (elbows in line with the shoulders).
  • Walking Lunge
    • Standing tall, step out into a slightly longer stride than you would if you simply walking.
    • As your foot lands, make sure you are in balance, bend your knees and drop your hips towards the ground.  Breathe in as your drop.
    • Your body is tall, your core is tight and your eyes are fixed in front of you.  (Remember, your body goes where your eye go).
    • As you shift your hips forward, towards your lead leg, (exhale) press through your foot and stand back to a tall position.  Alternate steps.
      • Alternate movements: static lunge; single-leg leg press; step ups; lunge jumps; single leg squat.
Although the walking lunge is a very important movement, I teach the static lunge first to reinforce proper form.  The static lunge (pictured above) is similar to the walking version.  The difference is the only thing you're doing is standing up, feet aren't moving at all, and then you're bending your knees and dropping your hips back down.  
  • Seated Lat Pull
    • Prior to sitting, reach up for the bar and walk your hands out about 4 inches towards the outer edge of the bar.
    • Sit down and inhale and lean back 2-4 inches.  Eyes are focused and neck is neutral.
    • Exhale as you pull down, pulling the bar just under your chin.
    • As you pull, focus on squeezing your shoulder blades down your back, as if trying to pull your shoulders away from your ears.   
    • Squeeze your back and return to the starting position (step 2).  
      • Alternate movements:  pull ups; chin ups; supinated pull down; neutral grip pull down; single arm pull down
My cartoon friend has perfect form.
  • Dumbbell Bent-over Row
    • Standing tall with dumbbells in hand, and feet set a little wider than your hips.  Bend your knees and drop your hips as if squatting (inhale).
    • Stop your movement slightly above a half squat, pause and lean forward with a deep breath and tight core.  The dumbbells are now resting just in front of your knees.
    • Slightly arch your back and keep your core tight throughout this position.  This will help keep you from rounding your back.
    • Exhale and pull the dumbbells up towards your body.  (You can pull this weight in a variety of ways.  I prefer to teach clients to pull towards their ribs).  
      • Alternate movements; bent-over barbell row; single arm dumbbell row; seated low row
Not a huge fan of this pic but it was one of the better pics I found.  Here, I think his feet are too close and his back looks are little "archy," near the top.  I'd have him pull his blades back a bit, flattening things out.
  • Dead-lift
    • Approach the bar with your shoes laces just under the bar.  Feet are set even with your hips or slightly wider.
    • Reach high into the air, stretching your back.  Fold forward and push your hips backward while bending your knees, dropping into a perfect position (pic 2). 
    • Eyes are locked on a target in front of you.  
    • With an alternate grip (pic 1), pull on the bar slightly to remove the "slack."
    • Core tight, stand tall as you drive through your heels and pull with your hips and low back.  You should/could feel this in your quads, glutes and low back.  If you feel it too much or only in your low back, form may be off or weight could be too heavy.    
1
 Alternate grip, eyes are locked, slack is removed.
2
Same shot, different angle.  Notice how similar this is the squat.  Knees are in line, hips are back, back is flat.  Perfect set up form. 


All exercises above come a with a wide variety of alterations and adjustments 
based on specific goals.

Why were these weight training exercises selected?

A) Multi-joint movements recruit more muscle fiber.
B) Multi-joint movements burn more calories.
C) Mutli-joint movements increase bone density.
D) Multi-joint movements save time in the weight room and help to train multiple areas at once.
E) Movements like the dead-lift and squat can shape and tone your lower body, increase strength, increase speed, increase endurance and improve athletic performance.  
F) Most DB and/or standing movements also recruit your core during stabilization.
G) Multi-joint movements are excellent regardless of how you're training.  You can use these in a straight set routine or in high intensity circuit.