Category Archives: Strength Training

Learning Proper Form in Strength Training

I have three simple rules when it comes to form:

  1. Due to anatomical differences, good form will necessarily look different from one lifter to the next
  2. All beginning lifters must master the basics
  3. Once a base of strength and muscle has been built, form adjustments can be made depending on the goal

Allow me to elaborate. Sometimes I read articles by various strength & conditioning experts and my jaw drops. I wonder if any of them really train people or pay attention to joint angles and biomechanics.

For example, I recently read that a good squat looks the same for every lifter. Having trained thousands of people in my life, I can assure you that there are many ways for a squat to look right, and that different lifters will have markedly different squat form depending on their body structure. I liken the torso, femur, and tibia to a lightning bolt. Everyone has a unique “lightning bolt,” and your lightning bolt will highly influence the joint angles inherent to your maximal squat form.

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Grip Training for Deadlifting

Let me tell you from personal experience – having a weak grip sucks! If you’re genetically predispositioned to having a strong grip, then chances are, you cannot relate. Your grip most likely grows stronger from simply holding onto heavy dumbbells and bars when performing dumbbell bench, dumbbell incline, one arm rows, pull-ups, and of course deadlifts. Sort of like the guy whose calves grow huge from squatting and deadlifting without doing any special calf work, if your grip never fails you despite never training it in the gym, then consider yourself lucky.

However, if you’re like me, and you’ve dropped numerous maximal deadlift attempts, then you know how frustrating inferior grip strength can be. Many lifters resort to using wrist straps. While I have nothing against wrist straps per se, you can’t use them on the platform if you ever compete in a powerlifting competition.

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Core Stability Training for the Advanced Lifter

Core stability training has been all the rage in the fitness field over the past decade, for good reason. Learning to move at the hips while keeping the spine stable is crucial for new lifters. While most lifters and trainers are well aware of simple core exercises that are properly suited for beginners, many aren’t well-versed in progressing these exercises to suit more advanced lifters. Too many lifters extend the duration of basic planking drills as their primary method of progressive overload, which builds strength endurance. But what about strength and power? A strong, powerful core is needed to stabilize the body during heavy lifting and explosive sporting actions.

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What’s the Difference Between a Romanian Deadlift, American Deadlift, Stiff Legged Deadlift, and Straight Leg Deadlift?

Deadlifting oozes strength and functionality. There’s something to bending over, grabbing a hold of heavy weight, and standing up with it that makes you feel like a primal powerhouse. In a previous post, I discussed how to increase your deadlift. But what about various deadlifting variations such as Romanian deadlifts (RDL’s), American deadlifts, stiff legged deadlifts (SLDL’s), and straight leg deadlifts? How are these performed, and what are the key differences between them?

Deadlift variations are loaded hip hinge patterns, and the hip hinge is an essential skill to master in the weight room. Learning how to stabilize the spine and pelvis under load while bending over forms the basis of many popular strength training exercises such as bent over rows, squats, deadlifts, kettlebell swings, good mornings, t-bar rows, and bent over rear delt raises. Even bending over and picking up dumbbells off the floor or out of the lower rack requires a proper hip hinge, as does picking objects off the floor and assuming an athletic position in sports.

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