We all want to get after it once we get to the gym as we figure the harder we go the better results we will see in the mirror. I get it, but to many people fall short with their exercise technique to see the fruits of their labor and to avoid long-term irritation or injury.
One of the reasons for this is the notion that High Intensity Everything is the way to go. It is not about quality reps, or building strength through movement it is all about how many can I get done in a short period of time while I am still standing.
While I love the effort and applaud the energy it takes I feel that we can do a better job to keep our bodies safe and achieve our goals if we take the time to do exercises properly.
Here are three popular exercises that need to be done the right way in order to get the maximum benefit.
1. Suspension Strap Rows:
We love rowing with suspension straps! They are low-joint impact, create full body tension and can be progressed to be very difficult. However, that doesn’t mean that they are super easy to learn.
First, you must create head to heel stiffness in your body. Consider the starting position a plank, with your toes up (on your heels) and your chin tucked underneath you. The key is that when you row you must retract your shoulder blades to get your chest at the finish point FIRST.
Where people mess this one up is they pull with their shoulders and have the humeral head (ball in the socket) glide forward in the joint. This creates a rounded over position at the top which usually forces a forward head posture. Then on the way down folks lose their full body stiffness and drop their hips creating a sway back action.
To fix this first think plank, head to heel strong as steel! Pull with your back creating tension and retracting those shoulder blades together. At the top pause and squeeze, make sure you feel it in your back and not in the front of your shoulder, then lower yourself keeping your hips up, glutes tight, and pretend it is a moving plank all the down. Then repeat!
We have seen push-ups butchered by nearly everyone who walks in to train with us. The thing is, it isn’t their fault! How long have we been doing push-ups? Pretty much our entire lives so movement patterns get stuck with us whether wrong or right!
There really isn’t a better upper body exercise to develop lean muscle, burn fat and feel like a badass then a great looking push-up. (Here at Driven, we have gotten multiple females to perform perfect sets of 10! ☺ )
That doesn’t mean they got there overnight though. Here’s what we see from folks on the push-up front that needs some work:
The high push-up position is a plank, head to heel strong as steel, when you lower yourself down you are pulling those shoulder blades together (sound familiar?), creating torque into the ground with your hands and elbows which drives your elbows into a 45 degree angle, glutes are squeezed, body is tight then entire time.
When you get to the bottom your chest should get their first and the humeral head (ball in socket) should not be out in front of the chest. Drive through your hands and in one motion come all the way up. When you finish it is CRITICAL to finish with a REACH, this is pushing your arms through the floor to get your shoulder blades to protract (move around your body.) This is essential for getting the most out of the exercise and for keeping the shoulder healthy and the accompanying muscles functional.
We see a lot of elbows flared at 90 degrees to the body, or a low-back cave, or barely moving an inch or two and repeating that process, or humeral head diving forward, or push-ups on the knees! All are inaccurate ways to perform and progress the push-up.
Reason being for the knee version is that it takes out half your body weight and your core engagement. Then how do you progress it? Add your legs to the equation, so you are essentially doubling the difficulty from one level to the next. It is not smooth flowing progression and being able to do them on your knees will rarely transfer to your ability to do them from a high plank position.
- Kettlebell Swings
In order to perform this exercise correctly you first need to know how to hip hinge properly. If you do not know how to that is a topic for another video in which we can teach you how.
First thing you need to appreciate with KB swings is that they are not squats so you are not dropping into a squat to propel the kettlebell. Second, it is important not to finish with the bell directly overhead as it forces your low back to over extend if you do not have the thoracic spine (mid-back) mobility. Considering many of us sit far too often and do not know how to perform thoracic spine mobility drills most will compensate through the low back. Further, going overhead does not do anything to increase the effectiveness or intensity of the exercise besides adding an element of danger. I feel we can live without it.
In order to perform a KB swing correctly you must drive your hips backwards (think closing a door with your butt) and then forcefully extend them forward (think standing up tall with glutes squeezed). Because of this horizontal momentum the bell comes through your legs and then finishes at belt height.
By keeping the exercise simple; hips back, hips extend the bell uses that momentum to make the exercise extremely safe and effective.
Two important details: Keep your chin tucked when you are doing this exercise, create a breathing rhythm where you forcefully exhale at the top of each swing.
When you put all of this together you have a fluid, safe, and super effective fat burning and muscle building exercise!
So there you have it! You now know how to properly perform three amazing exercises that can help you build muscle, burn fat and become fitter and stronger than you have ever been. Exercise selection and technique is important! The better exercises you know how to do the better your results will be. Do them right and you keep yourself healthy so you can continue to train, only getting you better results over the course of your life! Stay strong!
If you want to learn more exercises that we teach at Driven and how we have created a cutting-edge training program to get amazing results please feel free to contact me to set up a free consultation or a 28-Day Trial!