Category Archives: Strength Training

12 Observations From Training Women

Five years ago, I wrote an article that contained 10 observations from training women HERE, and six months ago I jotted down 10 tips HERE. Today, I’m providing 12 more observations that I’ve gleaned from training mostly women. Keep in mind that many of my female clientele are bikini competitors or newbies; as of yet I haven’t sought advanced powerlifters or athletes for long-term clients. If I did, my experiences would surely be different, but nevertheless my clientele have provided me with interesting and unique anecdotal experiences. There are many things little nuances associated with personal training that you won’t find in textbooks or certification courses, so these types of blogposts are valuable and important.

1. Box Squat Strength > Free Squat Strength

Around half of my clients are stronger with box squats than they are with free squats to the same depth. The box seems to help them better organize themselves for propulsion during the concentric phase. Box squats lend themselves to crazy-high levels of rate of force development (RFD), as seen HERE. I have not ascertained what factors contribute to one being stronger at box squats versus free squats. I think it’s a good idea to alternate between the two styles throughout the year. You have a “squat to a box,” where you just tap the box and use it as a depth gauge, you have a “rocking box squat” where you rock all the way back and then lean forward and rise, and you have the style I prefer, which involves a slight rock characterized by a relaxing of the hip muscles but not the erectors and a forceful explosion off the box.

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2. Trap Bar Deadlift Issues

Trap bar deadlifts (TBDLs) are a strength coach’s dream exercise (see HERE and HERE). Unfortunately, around a third of my female clients don’t tolerate them well. They feel that the handles are too wide which creates some jarring on their joints and makes them feel a bit unstable. They wish that there was a trap bar with narrower handles to better fit their bodies. With these clients, I omit prescribing TBDLs.

3. Natural Knee Valgus Tendencies

I’ve spent more time thinking about knee valgus than I care to admit – seriously hours upon hours pondering all the different possible culprits and contributors (see HERE and HERE for thoughts). I believe that beginners knee cave due to a broader list of reasons than advanced lifters.

In my experience, women have a harder time preventing knee valgus than men. I think every woman I train struggles with keeping their knees out with squatting when maxing out or approaching failure with submaximal loads.

I’ve started wondering if this is simply due to a combination of anatomy (femur shape, tibia shape, etc.) and the effects of muscular contraction on anatomy (quad and hamstring contraction pulling the knees inward). In other words, medial knee displacement might just be normal biomechanics for many women when they squat. Counteracting this knee caving almost requires overly accentuated gluteal/hip external rotator contractions which works fine with submaximal loads but won’t overpower what the knees want to do with maximal loads.

Many of these ladies can knee cave year in and year out just fine as long as they limit the amount and frequency of the knee caving (similar to slight rounding during deadlifting). They experience no knee pain and their performance steadily improves. I wonder if we (strength coaches, personal trainers, physical therapists) are overly focused on “correcting” knee valgus when it could be a normal variance due to anatomy – similar to foot flare and stance width in concordance with varying hip anatomy.

For this reason, I’m strict with coaching anti-knee caving (knees out) with submaximal lifts but I allow for some wiggle room when going for a PR.

4. High-Hipped Deadlifts

The individuals with the biggest quads seem to deadlift with slightly lower hips and better arches in their spines, whereas those with smaller quads tend to pull with higher hips and sometimes greater spinal rounding. Therefore, taller and more slender women will typically pull with higher hips than shorter and stockier women. I’ve found that many bikini competitors and models almost look like they’re performing stiff leg deadlifts (SLDLs), and getting them to drop their hips requires lighter loads to be utilized. This applies to probably two thirds of my clients. For these individuals, I just let them pull with higher hips as long as they keep their spines relatively neutral. I’m happy to hit their quads with squats and lunges and let them use more hammy to deadlift.

P10300925. Lateral Band Work – Hit or Miss

I would guess that eight out of ten women feel lateral band work hitting their glutes (especially upper glutes) well during various sumo walks, monster walks, banded clams, and band seated hip abductions. However, one in ten feels them working the hell out of their glutes, feeling very high levels of activation on every repetition, and another one in ten doesn’t feel them working their glutes at all. It’s not that they’re performing them wrong; it’s probably a natural variation in anatomy. My hypothesis is built on anecdotes involving client feedback, palpation, and EMG, so I’m pretty confident about this observation. For clients who feel lateral band work very well in their glutes, I up the volume, and for clients who don’t feel them working their glutes, I omit them.

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6. Chin Ups Damn Near Impossible

Most women can eventually work up to being able to perform one or more unassisted bodyweight chin ups. However, I estimate that around 1 in 10 women will never be able to perform a chin up no matter how hard they try, due to a combination of poor leverages for chins, inability to grow ample upper body muscle mass, and skewed body proportions involving greater lower : upper body mass ratios.

7. Faster Deadlift Learning Curve With Kettlebells

This applies to both men and women, but it might be even more pronounced with women. Teaching deadlifting with a kettlebell is one of the easiest things in personal training. You just have them stand over the bell, drop down and grab a hold of it, adjust hip position, pull chest up and make sure spine is neutral, then pick it up. Everything stays tight and rises upward at the proper rates. However, with the barbell, they’ll typically set up perfectly, but upon lifting the bar, energy leaks occur – hips shoot up, spine rounds a bit, bar drifts away from the body, etc. Unfortunately there are very few gyms that have heavy kettlebells (I have 106 lb and 203 lbs, but I wish I had 124 lb, 150 lb, and 176 lb kbs as well), otherwise more personal trainers could take advantage of teaching the deadlift pattern this way. However, when transitioning from kettlebell to barbell deadlifts, there’s still a learning process required, so there’s no avoiding the barbell if you want to build the strongest client possible.

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8. Front Squats Too Painful

Initially, most women find front squats to be very painful on the shoulders. Over time, the pain tends to diminish and most of these women can eventually front squat pain-free. However, probably a third of women don’t seem to adjust and their bodies always elicit the pain response, so they’ll never be able to front squat heavy without wincing in pain. Since pain inhibits muscle activation, I just pick a different alternative for these clients, such as goblet squats or high bar back squats with heels elevated onto plates.

9. Crazy Arms When Performing Band Hip Thrusts

Many lifters and personal trainers won’t have a ton of experience with band hip thrusts if they don’t have a Hip Thruster, but it always makes me chuckle when I see it happen. When approaching failure during band hip thrusts, around 1 out of 3 women will start doing some crazy things with their arms – they won’t be symmetrical, one wrist will flex and the other will hyperextend, and it just looks really un-athletic. For this reason, I began to recommend that women dig their arms into the bench and make fists – it can enhance performance through irradiation, plus it doesn’t look silly in case I post on Instagram or YouTube.

10. Elbow Flare With Pressing

This tip applies to both men and women as well, but it’s even more pronounced with women. With all pressing movements, most women will naturally want to flare their elbows out as much as possible. This occurs with push ups, bench press, and military press. It obviously happens because they’re initially stronger this way, but nevertheless it’s important to get a bit more tuck with pressing movements. Elsbeth Vaino and I wrote about this four years ago HERE. Getting the arms at a 45 degree angle relative to the torso is a good rule of thumb for push-ups and bench pressing, but it will change depending on the anatomy of the individual. As loads get heavier or reps approach failure, you’ll see the elbows start to flare more and more and the bar touch higher and higher on the chest. While there is certainly some wiggle room, you want to make sure that most of the reps touch down in the same position.

pushup-setup

11. Low Bar Squat Issues

I’m all about low bar squats for maximum squatting strength, and I like high bar for targeting more quad. However, I would estimate that around 1 in 6 women just can’t seem to get the low bar position to feel right – it either hurts or just doesn’t feel stable. This applies more to lankier women that haven’t built up a lot of upper back mass. Interestingly, I started all of my ladies off with high bar, and upon teaching them low bar, several of them set PRs on their very first attempts, whereas others couldn’t stand the low bar. To be fair, it might just be that I wasn’t patient enough with these clients and that I need to start then off lighter and gradually work up in weight, but after a few sessions of complaints, I just told them to stop experimenting with low bar and stick to high bar. The picture below shows a good example of high bar versus low bar – note that the back muscles in the picture on the right are squeezed together to provide a shelf.

Left: high bar, Right: low bar

Left: high bar, Right: low bar (Photo credit: Nerd Fitness)

12. Strange Lumbopelvic Phenomenon Associated With Push-Ups

Here’s another interesting occurrence that I’ve noticed. Some of my women can perform RKC planks just fine and hold a posterior pelvic tilt like a boss. However, when they try to do this during a push-up, they can’t hold it down. They can set up at the top in PPT and lock the pelvis in place, but upon transitioning from the eccentric phase to the concentric phase, they lose it. I think to think that this is related to the strength of the pushing muscles and that either 1) the body needs a slight hypextension in the spine to be able to perform the push ups, or 2) it’s asking too much of the body’s neural resources to perform the push up and hold the PPT at the same time. Over time I assume that this ability will improve.

Conclusion

If you’re a personal trainer or strength coach, hopefully my observations jived with yours. If you’re a lifter, I hope that this article has made you feel less “weird.” Many of these issues are very small in the grand scheme of things; they just require minor work-arounds and the ladies are always able to achieve incredibly productive training sessions.

5 Things People Need to Stop Overthinking

Below is an excellent guest article from Greg Nuckols. I just finished reading the new eBook that Greg wrote with Omar Isuf (HERE is a link to the eBooks – there are two of them; The Art of Lifting and The Science of Lifting), and though I liked both books, I actually liked The Art of Lifting most. I can’t tell you how impressed I am with Greg and Omar’s insight. I’ve been a big fan of Greg and Omar for a while, so it’s great to see them come out with a great product together.

5 Things People Need to Stop Overthinking
By Greg Nuckols

There are three laws I’ve found to be true in a remarkable number of cases:

  • Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” If you have a 2 hour project and 8 free hours to work on it, it will generally take you all 8 hours to finish it. Conversely, if you slack until you only have an hour left, you’ll usually end up getting it done, and doing a pretty decent job at it.
  • Poe’s law: “Without a blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of extremism or fundamentalism that someone won’t mistake for the real thing.” If you’ve ever been sucked into a really long Facebook argument about almost anything (be it training, nutrition, politics, religion, etc.), then you probably understand who this law is referring to.
  • Sayre’s law: “In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake.” This is the law that this article addresses. Little nitpicky things that really don’t influence your results in any meaningful way are almost guaranteed to be the subjects of heated discussions where friendships are ruined, e-dicks are measured, and no one comes out of the discussion any better off for having had it.

squat

  1. Bar position for squats

Let me describe an exercise for you. You place a loaded barbell across your shoulders, squat down to a position with high degrees of both knee and hip flexion, either as deep as you can go, or as deep as you can safely go before your back starts rounding, then stand up.

Did I just describe the high bar or low bar squat? If you guess “both,” you’re absolutely right. Moving the bar 2-3 inches up or down your back doesn’t make enough difference for 99% of people to worry about. Try them both out, and do whichever is the most comfortable for you.

If you’re a powerlifter, then obviously the main criteria to use is: “Which allows me to move the most weight?” That’s the whole point of the sport, after all. If you’re a weightlifter, then high bar is probably prudent since it most closely mimics the position in which you’d receive a clean or snatch.

If you don’t compete in either of those sports, then just squat; bar position really doesn’t matter.

  1. Beltless training

This is another topic that, while not entirely unimportant, is not worth arguing about until you’re blue in the face.

It’s pretty clear that training with a belt allows you to lift heavier loads, doesn’t really affect activation of your abdominal muscles, and may even lead to increased activation of your prime movers due to increased spinal stabilization and the aforementioned heavier loads. It also increases intra-abdominal pressure, which can cause an even larger spike in blood pressure when training, meaning it could be problematic for people who have conditions exacerbated by blood pressure fluctuations.

So if you want to lift as much weight as possible right now, wear a belt. If you have issues that are made worse by blood pressure spikes, then don’t wear a belt.

For training purposes, I’m not aware of any data showing that training with or without a belt really affects strength gains. Plenty of people have gotten strong lifting primarily with a belt, and plenty of people have gotten strong lifting primarily beltless. Just do the one you prefer.

Chris-Duffin

  1. Stance width, footwear, grip width, or deadlift style

If I had a nickel for every time I saw a “guide” to choosing footwear or stance width of squat, grip width for bench press, or deadlifting style (sumo or conventional) based off some arbitrary anthropometric measurements, I’d probably have about $1.00. Meaning there are at least 20 too many in existence (I wrote one of them. Sorry).

When did people forget that they could just experiment? Trying different options isn’t feasible for things that have a high opportunity cost (i.e. buying a house. You can’t narrow it down to two, buy them both, live in both for a while, and then decide which one you like best), but none of the aforementioned decisions have a high opportunity cost. The costliest would be buying an extra set of shoes for squats to see if you prefer squatting with a raised heel or without one (which will be ~$60-70 unless you want to buy top of the line weightlifting shoes).

Want to know what squat stance is best for you? Go to the gym, load up about 70% of your max, and try out a few different stance widths and a few different toe positions. Go with the one that feels the strongest and most comfortable. Ditto for bench press grip width. Ditto for sumo and conventional deadlifts.

The most important research in this area? The N=1 case study you do on yourself that will take maybe 15 minutes.

  1. “What’s the best exercise for…?”

There are a few circumstances where there is a clear-cut best exercise to accomplish a specific purpose. One is when you’re having difficulty learning a complex movement; a slower or regressed version of that movement, or the piece of the movement you’re having the most difficulty with (depending on the situation) is probably the best thing you can do. Or, if you’re trying to master an exercise for its own sake (i.e. if you’re a powerlifter and you want to improve your squat), that precise exercise is probably the best exercise you could do to accomplish that purpose.

Beyond that, it’s wide open. There are no magic exercises. If there’s a general movement pattern you’re trying to improve (not a specific exercise. i.e. pushing strength instead of strictly the bench press), then basically any exercise with similar demands through a fairly long range of motion will do the trick. If there’s a specific muscle you’d like to grow and strengthen, then just about any exercise for which that muscle is likely to be the primary limiting factor will work just fine.

Instead of searching for (or worse, wasting time debating online) some magical exercise, use some critical thinking skills and find movements that look similar to the skill you want to improve, or that overload the muscle you’re trying to grow or strengthen, and do them consistently over time, applying progressive overload. It works like a charm every time.

  1. Size vs. strength

Gaining size (muscle mass) versus gaining strength is really a false dichotomy for most people; they’re two sides to the same coin.

Now, if you’re brand new to lifting, you’ll probably gain strength (weight on the bar) much faster than you gain muscle mass initially. That’s a simple matter of your nervous system learning the movement and figuring out how to effectively use the muscle you currently have (plus a little extra you build) to move the load.

Once you’ve learned a movement, though, there’s only one way to keep those strength numbers ticking up: Those muscle have to grow.

On the other hand, if you’re training primarily to gain mass, those muscle gains will be slow in coming unless you apply progressive overload (increasing training volume, intensity, or both). And, by doing so, you’ll get stronger. Then, with that increased strength, you can load the muscles even heavier, create more tension, and grow bigger yet.

To get stronger (unless you’re a complete beginner), you need to get bigger, and to get bigger you need get stronger. Training for one without the other doesn’t really make sense for most people.

In some fringe cases it may be possible and necessary. For instance, if you’re an elite powerlifter weighing very close to the top of your weight class, then you may need to train in a manner to eek the last possible neural improvements out of the movements without gaining muscle mass that would push you into the next weight class (of course, if you can grow into the next biggest weight class, it would probably be good to do so because you’d be carrying more muscle per unit of height, and probably be more competitive, but that’s another discussion). If you’re a bodybuilder with a long injury history and not much more room for growth in the first place, then avoiding the heavier training that drives strength gains in favor of lighter, more voluminous training may be prudent.

For everyone else, get stronger to get bigger and get bigger to get stronger.

Click HERE to check out Greg’s new eBook

The Art of Lifting

About the Author

GregGreg Nuckols is the owner and founder of Strengtheory.com, a website dedicated to combining lifting advice with biomechanics and scientific theory. More than 250,000 people visit and learn from Strengtheory articles each month. Greg is also the chief content director at Juggernaut Training Systems, one of the biggest strength websites in the world. As the owner of one large fitness website and the content director of one even larger, Greg is very tapped into what questions people have and what information is often misconstrued. Practicing what he preaches, Greg has held 3 all-time world records in powerlifting. His current numbers are a 755lb. squat, 475lb. bench, and 725lb. deadlift.

20 Incredible Feats of Strength

I love watching incredible feats of strength, whether they’re performed by men or women. This blogpost is a tribute to all of the hardworking women out there pulling off the unimaginable.

Erin Stern

The Lovely Erin Stern: 2X Former Ms. Figure Olympia

Here is Desiree Walker busting out 10 smooth muscle-ups with precision.

Here’s a young woman squatting 310 lbs (she says 300 but it was actually 310).

Here is Marisa Inda cranking out 8 pull-ups with 25 lbs of extra weight.

This is Elinor Medhammar cranking out 7 dips with 44 lbs of extra weight.

Cheryl Anderson weighs 97 lbs, and her she is pulling a 315 lb sumo deadlift.

Here is a 115 lb young girl with a 330 lb squat.

This is a 17 year old, 100 lb girl squatting 340 lbs.

Naomi Kutin is 13 years old and she deadlifts 245 lbs for 8 reps.

Chen Wei-Ling weighs 100 lbs and squats 440 lbs.

Chen Wei-Ling also sumo deadlifts 410 lbs at 100 lbs.

Jennifer Thompson weighs 132 lbs and can bench press 315 lbs.

Melissa Reyes weighs 97 lbs and totals 667 lbs (226 lb squat, 137 lb bench, 304 lb deadlift).

Roselyn Kennedy hip thrusts 500 lbs for 2 reps at 147 lbs bodyweight.

Nurcan Taylan snatches 215 lbs and clean & jerks 248 lbs at 106 lbs bodyweight.

Chen Yanqing snatches 237 lbs and clean & jerks 287 lbs at 128 lbs bodyweight.

Camille Leblanc-Bazinet squats 195 lbs for 20 reps.

Suzanne Svanevik is just out of this world – watch the entire video.

Here’s another Suzanne Svanevik compliation.

Kacy Catanzaro destroys the American Ninja Warrior Course.

Here is Oona Kivelä doing some insane pole dancing and gymnastics maneuvers.

Strong-Girl

The Most Dangerous Exercise of All!

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is of the utmost importance that I warn you about a particular exercise that is commonly used in strength and conditioning. Chances are, you’ve been unknowingly performing this highly dangerous exercise, blind and oblivious to all of its potential consequences. Hopefully it’s not too late for you, and hopefully you haven’t already created irreparable damages.

scared-woman

This exercise has…

  • Been shown in the literature to induce the highest compressive forces on the spine out of all exercises (see below for more detail)
  • Been shown in the literature to induce very high shear forces on the spine (see below for more detail)
  • Been known to make some lifters’ backs crack in the middle of a set
  • Been known to cause seizure-like convulsing mid-set
  • Been known to cause lifters to faint immediately after a set
  • Been known to cause vision-distortion and flickering light in the middle of the set
  • Been known to cause nausea or lead to vomiting after a set
  • Been known to cause nose-bleeding immediately after a set
  • Been known to cause petechiae/broken blood-vessels/rash breakouts in the eyes, face, and chest following a workout
  • Been known to lead to biceps tears if using a mixed grip
  • Been known to lead to spondylolysis, spondylolisthesis, and SI joint issues
  • Been known to lead to herniated discs and ligament strains
  • Been known to create strains in the hamstrings, adductors, erectors, and traps
  • Been known to lead to hip pain, especially if using a wide stance
  • Been known to bloody some lifters’ shins
  • Been known to cause rib dislocations
  • Been known to lead to massive delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) especially in the erector spinae
  • Been known to lead to incontinence mid-set

Would you like to know the name of this exercise?

It’s the deadlift!!!

Geeky Section

*** This section in red is for the science Geeks like me. If compressive and shear forces don’t interest you, just skip this section. Studying spinal loading is a hobby of mine, I have 69 studies in my “spinal loading” folder, I summarized many of them in THIS T-Nation article, and I even visited spinal biomechanist Stu McGill in Canada to discuss the topic with him (see HERE, HERE, and HERE).

*** Cholewicki et al. 1991 showed that a 273 lb powerlifter deadlifting 608 lbs experienced 17,192 Newtons – which is 4,034 lbs – of compressive force on the spine. Granhed et al. 1987 showed much higher compressive forces at 36,400 Newtons, but Cholewicki’s data is probably more accurate due to their usage of a more accurate moment arm for the spinal extensor musculature (5 cm compared to 6 cm).

*** Either way, a 273 lb powerlifter pulling 608 lbs is not very impressive. Benedikt Magnusson weighs 379 lbs and set the deadlift world record at 1,016 lbs. This won’t be accurate since anthropometry and form affect compressive forces, but if we simply scale Cholewicki’s data with Benedikts, we see that the Benedikt’s system load (bodyweight plus barbell) is 1,395 lbs versus 882 lbs used in the study. Using the same proportions, we can broadly estimate that the compressive forces on Magnusson’s lumbar spine were approximately 27,191 Newtons, or 6,113 lbs.

*** The reason why compressive load on the spine so far exceeds barbell load during the deadlift is because of core muscle contractions. When muscles that cross the spine contract, they pull together, and this compresses the spine. So any exercise that highly activates the core muscles will necessarily create high levels of compressive forces.

*** If you round your lumbar spine (spinal flexion) during the deadlift, it greatly increases the shear loading due to the changing orientation of the muscles and ligaments. Out of all exercises, it appears that the back squat induces the highest shear forces, followed by a football blocking maneuver, followed by various strongman exercises, followed by the deadlift. However, this information is not accurate due to technical reasons – mainly that there are more shear forces as you measure lower on the lumbar spine, especially at L5-S1, so the exercises aren’t fairly compared.

What Gives?

Here is Mangussson’s world record deadlift performance.

Magnusson seems to handle the crazy amount of spinal loading just fine, so what gives?

The deadlift is so effective as a total body strengthener precisely because it loads the entire body so efficiently. It hammers the calves, the hamstrings, the quads, the glutes, the erectors, the rhomboids, the traps, the rear delts, the lats, and the forearms. The lift involves a powerful hip hinging motion that allows for very heavy loading. This heavy loading doesn’t just strengthen the muscles; it causes bones and soft-tissue to grow stronger as well. Powerlifters have the highest bone mineral densities on the planet. If you progress gradually over time and periodize your training properly, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bone strengthen accordingly, allowing your body to tolerate the increasing loads.

However, because the deadlift loads the body so effectively, it can lead to dozens of issues if performed incorrectly. For example, excessive lumbar rounding can cause disc herniations and excessive lumbar arching can damage the posterior elements of the spine. Hell, the deadlift can lead to issues even if performed perfectly, for example, bloody shins usually means you’re deadlifting properly, a biceps tear can occur just from using a mixed grip, even if a neutral spine is kept, compressive forces can cause issues with certain individuals, pushing it hard will inevitably lead to high levels of intraabdominal pressure (IAP) which can lead to fainting, flickering light, vision distortion, convulsing, nausea, vomiting, and/or petechiae, hip pain will likely ensue in lifters that pull sumo and have FAI or poor hip flexion mobility due to hip anatomy, and strains and severe DOMS can occur just from using high loads or effort.

At the last powerlifting meet I competed in, one lifter actually soiled himself on the platform when deadlifting – we all saw it because he wore a light green singlet. Luckily he had a separate singlet that he changed into immediately afterward.

The Deadlift: A Worldwide Respected Exercise

Despite all of these potential problems, the deadlift is still one of, if not the, most accepted, respected, and recommended exercises in strength & conditioning.

I deadlift every single week, as do all of my clients. It is highly functional (one could make a good argument that it’s the most functional exercise in existence) and leads to numerous improvements.

Straight to the Point

So what is my point in writing this article?

I’m definitely not trying to scare anyone, resort to fear-mongering, or create nocebo effects.

My point in writing this article is simple: to help the industry reconsider our persistent and relentless condemnation of exercises!

Check out these two articles I’ve written in the past:

The New Rules of Strength Training (written in 2011)

You Should Definitely Avoid this Movement

I have a funny story to share. There’s this really strong powerlifter that commented on one of my YouTube videos once – it was a video promoting the back extension. He wrote something to the effect of “talk about spine destruction, what are you going to have people do next – sit ups?” I could tell he was fresh out of the blocks in reading the work of Stu McGill. So fine, the back extension and sit up lead to high levels of shear forces on the spine.

Guess what else does? Deadlifts, squats, kettlebell swings, hip thrusts, and sled pushes.

If you condemn back extensions or sit-ups for creating excessive compressive or shearing forces on the spine, you also have to condemn deadlifts, squats, kettlebell swings, sled pushes, Olympic lifts, hip thrusts, strongman exercises, and even certain core exercises like Pallof presses.

I wanted to reply to the individual and say, “good call dude, I should stop having people do back extensions and instead tell them to put on a squat suit and throw a thousand pounds on their backs like you.” But I decided to just ignore him as I could tell he wasn’t interested in learning anything from me. Apparently powerlifters don’t realize the hypocrisy in advising people not to do back extensions or sit ups when they are regularly engaging in just as dangerous of activities in their sport.

This is no more dangerous than a maximal squat or deadlift

This is no more dangerous than a maximal squat or deadlift

Conclusion

Fitness experts can get very high-and-mighty. We love to judge others based on their exercise selection. We love to call others out for doing crunches or sit-ups, using machines, doing leg presses, kipping with their pull-ups, doing American kettlebell swings instead of hardstyle, or doing isolation lifts.

But any bro with a year of training experience, a college Anatomy & Physiology course under their belt, and a college Physics course under their belt could come up with myriad reasons to vilify any exercise.

We should be glad that people are in the gym and exercising rather than sitting on the couch watching television. That’s what’s most important. It’s okay to be passionate and vocal about exercise selection, as long as you’re reasonable, unbiased, and respectful. Let’s be careful about exercise condemnation, it’s a slippery slope. And when it comes to exercise selection, usually, the correct answer is, “it depends.” Factors such as individual anatomy and anthropometry, injury history, goals, logistics, preference, and periodization must all be considered.

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Mike Peltz pulling heavy