The Importance of Technique in Physical Movement

(Short read) Why Technique is crucial for high performance in any movement.

Technique is everything. If you want to maximize the power output of any movement, you’ll need to have excellent technique. This applies to anything from a punch to a deadlift. Technique equaling power also applies to things like dancing, and skateboarding. In those cases power is quality of movement.

Mastering technique is one of the fundamental principles of martial arts. This can be applied to any form of fitness. As I mentioned in an old post, the most effective way to master technique is through quality repetition. Olympic weightlifters understand this which is why they train their movements so frequently, sometimes multiple times a day. There’s no way they could generate the type of force they do if they didn’t spend so much time working on technique.

Another example is sprinters. One of the reasons sprinters are able to move so fast is because they spent time working on their running technique. You can be strong, fast, and genetically blessed but if you have lousy running technique you will limit your potential.

In addition to unleashing power, great technique will reduce your risk of injury. This explains why most injuries happen when a person is fatigued. If you’ve ever seen a fatigued athlete perform, you’ll see that their technique isn’t as good as when they were fresh.

If you want to maximize the power output of your movements and reduce your risk of injury make the effort to hone your technique.

The Best Three Exercises For a Powerful Squat

Best exercises to build an awesome squat.

If you’ve been following this page for a while you’ll know that my favorite lift is the barbell back squat. It’s more than a leg exercise. Your whole body has to be engaged in order to stay stable throughout the movement.

It’s probably the most empowering lift known to man. What’s more empowering than to overcome gravity and a force that’s trying to keep you down? I’ve tried different training approaches to help my squat and have enjoyed the results. Just like any lift, the squat has accessory exercises that can boost your performance tremendously. I’ll share my top three squat accessory exercises that have helped me boost my squat. Since there are different forms of squat, I’ll be specific by mentioning that this applies to the high bar back squat.

Farmers Walk

The Farmer walk is one of the best exercises you can do to improve your squat performance. It engages many muscles in your body including your obliques. The obliques are one of the most underrated muscles when it comes to squatting. Strong obliques will protect your lower back. In terms of core muscles, the farmer walk also teaches you have to brace. Bracing is one of the biggest keys to moving heavy weight. The farmer walk will also strengthen your nervous system due to the stress it imposes on your spine. That stress will cause your body to adapt so you’ll be better equipped to handle the farmer walk the next time you do it.

Bulgarian Split-Squat

The bulgarian split squat is probably the best leg accessory movement to the squat. It hits every muscle in the leg, including the smaller muscles. From my experience, the stronger my bulgarian split squat the stronger my back squat. I also notice that I feel my legs more with bulgarian split squats than with back squats. This might be because the legs are the only part of your body working in the split squat. With back squats, your core muscles are highly involved. If you want to maximize your leg strength, do Bulgarian split squats.

Good Morning

The Good Morning is one of the best squat accessory exercises in my opinion. I started doing them a few months ago and have noticed that it’s a lot easier to hit depth and get out of the whole in my squats. As someone who’s been squatting for a while, my squat has never felt more natural than it does now. I believe adding the good morning to my routine has been a major factor with that.

If you’re serious about boosting your squat, you need to have some or all of these movements in your routine. The best way to improve your squat is to squat but adding the right accessories will speed up the process. What are your favorite squat accessory exercises?

Photo by Leon Ardho from Pexels

How To Be Superhuman

How To Maximize the health of your Central Nervous System so you can move towards your fitness goals in a faster and safer way.

If you want to tap into new levels of physical performance, you’ll need to pay attention to your nervous system. The nervous system is often the most overlooked aspect of fitness. We all have various goals but rarely do we pay attention to the health of our nervous system. To maximize your performance in any fitness activity, your nervous system will have to be functioning well. In terms of physical performance, every elite athlete has a highly efficient nervous system. In general, your nervous system is responsible for things like your digestion, quality of sleep, and ability to process information as a few examples.

Spinal Hygiene

If you want a strong and healthy nervous system, your spinal health will have to be a priority. Your body functions based on the information your brain sends to your spinal column. If you’re spine is out of whack, you won’t be able to function or perform at your best in any activity. One of the biggest culprits of spinal deterioration is sitting. When you sit, you’re decompressing the spine.

The solution to this is doing spinal hygeine exercises. I recently learned about them through listening to a podcast by Chiropractor Dr. Tommy John. I’ve been using these exercises for months now and have reaped the benefits. Two things I notice from doing these exercises is that my spine feels a lot better and I can think more clearly as a result. I usually do each of the spinal hygiene movements repeatedly for 3-5 minutes. You can spread them out how you want or do each of them consecutively as part of a spinal hygiene workout. Below are some of the spinal hygiene exercises I do. I also shared a video at the bottom of the page of a spinal hygiene routine.

  • Head Nods- move your head up and down as far as possible.
  • Head Shakes- Turn your head side to side the way you’d do when shaking your head. Turn your head far enough that you’re looking over your shoulder.
  • Cross-Crawl Superman

Cross-Crawl Movement

Cross-Crawl movements can help your nervous system tremendously. This is due to the fact that they cause both of your brain hemispheres to work together simultaneously. My favorite cross-crawl movement is the leopard crawl. However, there’s many other movements to choose from. Below are the top 3 cross-crawl movements for nervous system health.

  • Leopard Crawl
  • Cross-Crawl Superman: Anything that fits in multiple categories is a must do!
  • Baby Crawl

Hands and Feet

If you want to maximize your nervous system health, you’ll have to address hand and foot health. There are so many nerves in your hands and feet that any disfunction in those areas of your body will have an impact on the rest of your body. Why do you think people often lift weights barefoot or use flat shoes? Or why squeezing a bar tightly boosts your lifting performance?

  • Dead Hang Stretch for time
  • Barefoot walking
  • Standing Straight Leg Raise- 5 minutes each leg

High Stress Exercises

The hardest way to optimize the health of your nervous system is through high stress exercises. High stress exercises force your nervous system to upgrade in order to be able to do them again. The key to doing high stress exercises is to give your nervous system time to recover from them. The other keys to a healthy nervous system will help speed up that recovery. Below are the top high stress exercises to boost your nervous system health.

  • Sprints
  • Heavy Farmer Walks
  • Heavy compound lifts
  • Extreme Isometric Lunges- 5 minutes on each leg

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are your nervous system’s best friend. Too much stress can inhibit your nervous system’s capabilities. One way to balance out the stress you face in training and in life is through breathing exercises. Breathing exercises will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the rest and digest function of your body.

  • Meditation
  • Alternative Nostril breathing
  • Wim Hof Breathing

Beliefs

Your beliefs will dictate your actions and your outcome. If your beliefs are not in line with your goals, you’re going to have a difficult time. The key to getting your beliefs to align with your goals is to work with your subconscious mind through repetitive positive thought. This can be done in a number of ways.

Complex Movement

Anytime you perform a complex movement, you’re developing new neuropathways in your brain. This means you’re using your brain in a way it’s never been used before and further develops it. When I talk about complex movements, I’m talking about the circus tricks you see people perform in the gym to get social media likes. I’m talking about movements that require high levels of coordination and brain usage. Below are some examples.

  • Dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Using opposite limb, something as simple as brushing your teeth with your opposite hand.
  • Cross-Crawl movements as previously mentioned
  • Any movement you’ve never tried before

Building a powerful nervous system will not only help you set new weight lifting records and excel at your sport, it’ll also make you better at every area of your life. It’ll also improve your overall health tremendously, since every function of your body is a result of the nervous system.

Photo by Evelyn Chong from Pexels

Video of Dr. Tommy John Spinal Hygeine routine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iryqejKOUXU&t=101s

Leopard Crawl Exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QY-PDU_LhUI

Straight Leg Raise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJvrDA6f2U0

Quote of The Week- Mind and Body

How the mind can limit or propel us in our fitness journeys.

“ Your body can stand almost anything. It’s your mind that you have to convince “- unknown

Your body is capable of more than you think, you just need to let your mind get out of the way. How can you explain a mom who can lift a car to save her child’s life? In a lot of those stories, it’s just a regular person who isn’t following some crazy strength training program. Even if she was, there’s no strength training program than can prepare you for such an incredible feat of strength. This is prime example of how the body is capable of incredible things.

To get great results in fitness, we often have to overcome a mental barrier. That mental barrier can be many things including, you doubting your ability to achieve a physical transformation or it could be that you think a physical task is impossible.

A great example of the mind allowing the body to do great things is endurance athletes. Running ultra marathons are obviously strenuous in the body but I believe the mental battle is even more difficult. Imagine starting a marathon and constantly thinking about how long you have to run and how uncomfortable you are. Imagine having to battle your thoughts as well as the obvious fatigue in your body. Think of how difficult it’d be to complete the task.

For all you lifters, imagine getting ready for a lift and picturing yourself failing or thinking about how heavy and overwhelming the weight will be. Maybe you’ll perform great due to the fear of failing. You might also be too crushed by your doubts and fears to have a successful lift.

Your Mind is Your Ally

On the flip side to this, your mind can be your biggest ally. One example is just from my personal experience. I still remember the days that the thought of me being able to squat 300 plus pounds sounded insane. All of that changed when I changed my environment. I went to a gym where many people were squatting in the 300s and 400s, and they weren’t all massive beasts. Seeing this opened my mind to believe that squatting more than 300 pounds was normal. I never looked back since.

Your mind can either be an ally or enemy in your fitness journey. If you choose to make it an ally, there are many things you can do to make it possible. As mentioned earlier, one way to make your mind work for you is to surround yourself with people who have what you want to achieve. Be around people stronger, faster, or healthier than you. The list goes on depending on your goals.

Another tool you can use is positive affirmations affirmations . By repeating positive affirmations, you’re sending a message to your subconscious mind to help you achieve your goals. This works because when you say these affirmations, you’re constantly getting a mental picture of your success. How can you have fear and doubt when you keep seeing yourself achieve something.

In addition to the tools above, I also recommend meditation . Meditating teaches you how to observe your thoughts but not be attached to them. This comes in handy anytime a possible detrimental thought comes when you’re trying to achieve something. In addition to thought detachment, meditation teaches you how to be present. Being present is the key to achieving peak performance. When you’re present, you’re only concerned about what you’re doing. You don’t care about every little detail. The example I gave earlier about the mom is a good example of someone who’s fully present. That mom who’s trying to save her child isn’t concerned about how heavy the car is or whether her bones might break. She’s focused only on the task of saving her child.

I hope this post will help you move past your mental barriers so you can achieve great fitness results. When we’re in control of our minds, we can do amazing things.

Fitness Quote of The Week- Consistency

(Short read) the importance of consistency

“ I train to be the best in the world on my worst day “- Ronda Rousey

This quote from a former UFC champion is about consistency. You may not be training to be a world class athlete but you’re probably training to reach a fitness goal. If it’s a worthwhile goal, it’ll be one that challenges you.

On your mission to achieve the goal, you’ll have some days that you don’t feel like training. You’ll feel tired, stressed, or something else. Unless you’re sick or severely exhausted, you should do something. Something as little as mobility work or extra stretching will help in the long run. One of my personal workout principles is to always show up.

When you show up, you may not be going 100 miles per hour but you’ll be doing something. Even if you lower the intensity of an exercise significantly, you’ll still be working on those same movement patterns. This can make you more efficient the next time you do the exercise.

If you’re trying to lose fat and you normally run 2 miles a day, running half a mile will help you more than sitting on the couch and doing nothing. Personally, I prefer sprints over jogging.

Just show up. That small amount of progress gets you closer to your goal than the day before. The added benefit of always showing up is it always gives you an opportunity to learn.

Quote of The Week- Importance of Challenges

The importance of challenging yourself in fitness.

If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you”- Fred Devito

This is straight to the point. If you want to achieve any meaningful fitness transformations, you’ll have to challenge yourself. You’ll have to do workouts that scare you a little and make you uncomfortable.

Many fitness gurus will try to sell you on a miracle diet or workout to get quick results. This isn’t reality. Anyone you see with a great body or lifting big weights had to put in the work to get there.

Doing heavy compound lifts is challenging. Saying no to delicious junk food is challenging. Sprinting up hills is challenging. These are the types of things that will transform your body.

Fitness is as much mental, as it is physical. Your body won’t be the only thing that transforms when you challenge yourself physically. Your mind will too and you’ll develop that fitness mindset.

Attack Your Weaknesses!

One of the simplest yet overlooked ways of getting stronger is finding your weaknesses and making them strengths. I love using different training methods but sometimes it pays off to do the simple thing. This is why I place a lot of importance on self-awareness. With self-awareness, you can know what areas you need to work on. This applies to fitness and life in general. The first and simple step is identifying your weakness(es). Once you identify them, you attack them.

How To Identify Your Weaknesses

There are two ways I identify my weaknesses, soreness and sticking points. This why I like to focus on compound lifts. With soreness, I like to see what parts of my body have extra soreness. These extra sore body parts are the ones I need to work on more. For example, if your triceps are extra sore after bench pressing, you can do close grip bench press or skull crushers to address your weak triceps. I always prefer compound lifts but isolation exercises can help you target weak points.

The other way is by looking at my sticking points. The best way to know your sticking points is by lifting heavy. When you’re lifting heavy, you’ll notice what parts of the lift you have the most difficulty, thus you’ll find what’s holding you back from getting stronger.

How To Attack Your Weaknesses

The two ways to attack your weaknesses is strengthening the weak muscles or doing sticking point specific exercises. The first one is a no brainer, if you have a weak muscle group just train it. There are various ways to really target weak points. You can use single limp exercises like the Bulgarian split squat and bent over rows. You can do isolation exercises like the skull crushers, glute bridges, and hamstring curls. Bodyweight exercises are also great for targeting specific weaknesses, especially joint weaknesses. If you’re a lifter without access to weights, you can use this time to do bodyweight exercises that target weak points.

For sticking point issues, paused work and overcoming isometrics will help tremendously. Doing paused squats has helped me improve my ability to get out of the bottom position. You can do pauses at any position that you feel you’re weak at. Overcoming isometrics are specifically done to break through sticking points and can lead you to incredible strength gains. There’s so many ways to use Overcoming Isometrics but the most common way I’ve seen is with a barbell, power rack, and safety pins.

The idea is to push the barbell against the safety pins at various joint angles. You’ll select the joint angles you struggle in the most.Since you won’t be able to move the pins, you’ll be exerting maximum force. Doing this teaches your body to exert a lot of force at that particular position. The more force you apply, the easier it is to move the weight.

How I’m Attacking My current Weaknesses

My two current weak spots are my triceps and my hip flexors. I noticed my tricep weakness from struggling at the lockout point on my bench press. I saw my hip flexor weakness from doing squats. My hip flexors are often sore after I finish doing squats.

For my triceps, I’ve been doing a lot of isolation exercises as well as cross crawl movements that engage the triceps. I’ve definitely noticed improvements in my lockout strength since placing a stronger emphasis on tricep training..

For my hip flexors, I’ve been doing band work. The exercise involves me lying on my back and placing my feet on the bands. Once I’m set up, I bring each knee to my chests , with the band acting as resistance.

I’ve also been doing hurdle jumps at a local track. These automatically engage the hip flexors based on how I have to tuck in my legs to get over the hurdles.I’ve noticed a difference in my power when squatting. I’ve also been able to engage my glutes more when I lift.

Another way I’m targeting my hip flexors is to look at the cause for hip flexor weakness. I’ve made it a point to stand up more each day. Sitting for too long weakens and tightens hip flexors. I’ve also been stretching my hip flexors so they can be strong and mobile.

Below is a link to a Stack article with great information on Overcoming Isometrics:

https://www.stack.com/a/overcoming-isometrics-the-weird-exercises-that-can-instantly-make-you-stronger#:~:text=%20For%20example%2C%20contrast%20training%20for%20the%20upper-body,minutes%20and%20repeat%20for%203-5%20sets%20More%20

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The Most Impactful Weight Lifting Protocols

The three weight lifting methods most responsible for my strength gains.

If you’ve been following this page for a while, you’ll know that weight lifting has been a major part of my fitness journey. I’ve used many weight lifting protocols but there’s a few that stand out as having the most impact for me when it comes to gaining strength and transforming my body.It’s important to understand the basics but once you have those mastered, you should look into the different training methods to see what will help you achieve your goal. I plan on sharing the lifting methods that have helped me the most with gaining strength. They’ve all helped me in different ways.

Loaded Carries

Loaded carries have been an absolute game changer. They’ve had so much impact that I still find ways to do them while my gym is closed. Loaded carries can help you with a number of goals like muscle gain, fat loss, and increased work capacity. I’ve noticed the benefit mostly in the strength department. Moving heavy weight just feels easier when loaded carries are part of my program. Maybe that’s why strength coaches like Dan John and Charles Thibadeau reccomend loaded carries to lifters.

Two things that make loaded carries special are core engagement and grip strength. Your core has to be braced when walking around with weight. This high level of core engagement transfers well to squats and deadlifts. Your level of core engagement in these lifts can make the difference between a successful lift and a failed lift. Having your core well braced will also help with injury prevention.

The grip strength I’ve gained from loaded carries have also helped me with my overall strength. Grip strength goes beyond just helping the deadlift. Try any lift, regardless of the target muscles and see how much easier it is to move the weight when you can grip the bar tightly. It’s because squeezing something tightly sends a message to your brain that you’re in danger, causing your body to tense up. Tension is one of the biggest keys to lifting heavy weights. You can benefit from the different variations of loaded carries.

Speed Work

Compensatory acceleration training (CAT) helped me tremendously when I felt stuck in my squat and deadlift. It makes perfect sense that the faster you can move a weight, the easier the lift is. The key to CAT is moving the weight as explosively as possible during the concentric/ upward portion of the lift. By doing this, you learn how to apply more force to your lifts. Force is what moves objects. In order to move 400 pounds, you need to apply more than 400 pounds of force. I’ve only applied it to squats and deadlifts but I’ve noticed great gains from CAT .

Cluster sets

Cluster sets are an awesome way to build strength. They’re a great way to get your body comfortable with heavier weight. Cluster sets allow you to do more reps of a certain weight than you normally would by taking mini breaks in between each set. If you can only do three reps of a weight, clusters will allow you to do more. I go into greater detail about cluster sets in the post dedicated to Strength Coach Charles Poliquin.

Photo by Estudio Polaroid from Pexels

Get Fast To Transform Your Body!

Opinion ( Focus on your fast twitch muscles if you want to look your best)

Everyone wants to look good. Whether, you’re training for strength, athleticism, or health. We all want to look good to a certain extent. There are a number of factors to building an impressive body. The most important one is your diet. Training is also a major part of looking your best. When training, place a strong emphasis on fast twitch muscles. Fast twitch muscle fibers are important when it comes to strength training and sports but often overlooked when training for aesthetics.

My training focus isn’t on looks but since I put an emphasis on my fast twitch muscle fibers, I’m often satisfied with what I see in the mirror. When you see the most visually appealing athletes in the world. They all recruit a bunch of fast twitch muscles in their activities. Sprinters, Gymnasts, power lifters in lower weight classes are just some examples.

If you want to maximize the use of your fast twitch muscles, focus on tension, speed, or both. Another way to look at training fast twitch muscles is activating as much muscle fibers as possible. Whether you have a gym or not, you can train these muscles. The ultimate way to train your fast twitch muscles is by sprinting. Coincidentally, you’ve never seen a fat sprinter. Some other ways you can train these muscle fibers using your bodyweight are plyometrics and high tension exercises. In fact, I’ve written a couple of posts recently talking about how I still train my fast twitch muscles at home.

What Are Fast Twitch Muscles?

Fast Twitch muscles are the muscles responsible most for speed, power, strength, and muscle size. Fast twitch muscles are the muscles that get fatigued easily. You can’t sprint at full speed for a full minute just like you can’t lift 90% of your max for several reps. In order to properly train your fast twitch muscles, you have to work out in short intense bouts.

How To Maximize The Use of Fast Twitch Muscles

Weight lifting: This advice should only be used by experienced lifters. If you’re a beginner, master your technique and building a solid base of muscle before using these lifting methods . When comes to weight lifting for fast twitch muscles, think fast heavy or fast. Either do heavy compound lifts with at least 80% of your one rep max or focus on the speed of your lifts . With speed lifts, you’ll be lifting with 50-60% of your one rep max.

Bodyweight: This approach of fast twitch muscle recruitment can be done by beginners since there isn’t external forces involved. The key is using proper technique and knowing what your body can do. With body weight exercises, focus on tension or speed. As I mentioned before, high speed body weight exercises like sprints and plyometrics are great for fast twitch muscle activation. I recently wrote a post about the value of sprints. The other way is the gymnast approach, which is high tension bodyweight exercises. Simply doing regular bodyweight exercises like pushups in a very slow manner will use fast twitch muscles since exercising like this will cause fatigue faster. It’s amazing how you can manipulate your body to recruit more muscle. S

Warning!

Training your fast twitch muscles places stress on your joints and your nervous system. If a lot of your training involves a high recruitment of fast twitch muscles, make sure you’re taking the time for proper recovery. Some activities that help are meditation and yoga.

Closing Thoughts

When you focus on training fast twitch muscles, you can’t help but build an impressive physique. Your body keeps what it needs. When you’re doing intense movements that are recruiting your largest muscle fibers, your body gets the message that it needs to build more muscle to be able to do the movement again. Yes, training your fast twitch muscles could improve your dating life but it’ll also make you stronger and more athletic.

Photo on Best Running

Bruce Lee Philosophies in Fitness

How Bruce Lee’s philosophies can apply to fitness.

Bruce Lee is an icon.  He was more than an actor. He was one of the most influential martial artists in history. He was an incredible athlete and had quotes that will inspire anyone. I’m a big fan of his teaching and have applied some of them to my approach to fitness and life. Today, I’ll be talking about how his philosophies apply specifically to fitness.

” Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do “

You can have all the fitness knowledge in the world but you won’t be able to transform your body if you don’t act on it. Do your research and then put it use at the gym, playground, home, or wherever you workout. The only way to learn if something works is to do it. In a way, fitness is an experiment. You try different things and see how your body responds. That’s how I’ve approached the different training methods I’ve studied.

” I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times “

If you want to be great at anything you have to do it repeatedly. Someone who focuses on 10 different lifts will be good at those lifts. Someone who focuses on 5 will be great or even elite at those lifts. This philosophy also applies to other areas of fitness and sports. By focusing on so many things at once, it’ll be hard to get great at any of them. I personally like to work on different aspects of fitness but when I really want to improve in a specific area, I put other things in the back-burner. The idea of this quote explains why Easy Strength is such a great strength building program. This quote can also apply to the fitness affirmations that I love to use. If I have 1000 affirmations, it’ll be hard for my mind to know which ones to focus on. Some might even contradict the others. That’s why it’s best to focus on a few affirmations.

” Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own. “

In fitness there’s so much information available regarding different training methods and workout types. This quote is saying you need to filter through the information and use what will help you achieve your specific goals.

” If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them “

Aim high when setting your fitness goals. There’s no excitement in setting small goals and being satisfied by achieving them. By having big goals, you’re more likely to achieve memorable results and develop the fitness mindset. This is what this quote is about. The fitness mindset will help you in all areas of your life.

” In The Middle of Chaos Lies Opportunity “

This quote applies to today. With gyms and other places closing down as a result of the pandemic, we may feel limited. One positive is that we have more time to work on areas of our lives that we never took the time for. In regards to fitness, I’ve been working on my mobility as well as weak areas in my body. This is the perfect time to work on your weaknesses or develop new abilities, so a better version of yourself will be ready when the world opens up again.

This quote also applies to challenging workouts since they cause so much stress. When you throw yourself into the fire of a challenging workout, you get the opportunity to learn about yourself and your body. You get to find out your strengths and your weaknesses. When you know your weaknesses, you know what you need to improve on. That’s why self-awareness is so important.

Photo credit: bryanwright5@gmail.com on Best Running / CC BY-ND

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