When it comes to correct exercise technique, many gym goers have a knack for self delusion on a par with early stage X-Factor contestants. They may think the exercise they’re performing is a power clean, but what you’re witnessing looks more like what happens when an upright row has sex with a round-back deadlift and they let the baby do meth.
Obviously in a coaching situation we can correct a client’s form, but that can get time consuming. Many desk bound clients are very uncoordinated, and struggle with complicated exercises.
In these situations, we use what we call “idiot proof” exercises. Here are some favourites.
1- Chest Supported Row – The bent over row is a fine exercise but it’s also one of the most frequently butchered ones we see. People pay less attention to it because it lacks the spine-rupturing reputation of the deadlift or squat, but it carries its own risks. Plus a lot of effort is expended by the hamstrings as they hold your body in the correct position.
Simply performing your rows with your chest supported on an inclined bench removes all of the typical barriers to good technique. It also places the stress squarely on the upper back since your hamstrings aren’t twanging like a hillbilly’s banjo string.
2- Goblet Squat – The goblet squat is a great exercise for the beginner squatter. The placement of the weight at the front of the body naturally discourages you from rounding your back (which, under heavy loads, is the spinal equivalent of staring directly into the sun).
The position also allows greater depth, because you don’t feel like you’ll fall backwards which would bring shame on your family.
3-Hip Thrust – Everyone wants a nice butt. Unfortunately your nervous system tends to treat your gluteal muscles like a pair of glasses on the head of a senile grandmother: It knows it left them somewhere, it just can’t quite seem to find the damn things.
Many beginners can’t flex their glutes, let alone get them to contract in a complex exercise. Regular use of the hip thrust will give you an ass like some kind of equine creature from Greek mythology.
4- Dumbbell Floor Press – The bench press is generally performed horribly. Flopping back on a bench and cranking out wobbly reps while his feet dance the cha cha cha, Mr Monday Night Bench Presser is not only reducing the training effect, he’s also putting his shoulder health at risk.
The dumbbell floor press is useful for teaching the retracted shoulder position which is crucial to safe benching.
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