A Training Principle That Beginners Must Learn

With the increase in our membership at Results FAST it’s getting quite hard to write quality articles in the volume I used to (excuses are excuses- and quality I guess depends on opinion, I will generally cede that my grammar and sentence structure are marginally better than a 16 year olds).

This one came to me quite quickly today due to the fact in that in a number of our clients programmes this month we have included the old school classic “bent over rows”. Now without invoking thoughts of the 80’s, Arnie and Carl Weathers (if you do not know, please watch Pumping Iron and Predator) this exercise in most gyms is absolutely bastardized.

It’s meant to be for the mid-back and core but often becomes an upper back/ neck exercise… ideally we are looking to work the mid-trap/ back area. Cue Admiral Ackbar’s physiology course.

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As a principle exercise all of our clients are taught to deadlift/ pick weights up safely. In turn when you know what your lower back is meant to be doing (due to totally excellent coaching… ahem) it becomes hard to cheat the movement.

Principally, if you can maintain good position in your core with ample hamstring range you can maintain position under load (perhaps what we call core stability). Basically it’s the difference between coaching these positions…

With this exercise it looks sub-par when you can’t maintain core control e.g. you fail through your lower back strength as opposed to the load you are lifting- poor form has nothing to do with weakness in the “target” muscle groups of the back and arms. In a lot of cases people will smash their set out with a rounded back position compromising correct technique for a weighted ego boost.

Where else is this relevant? Well… deadlifting e.g. picking anything up of the floor safely, kettlebell swings (torso flexion is a no-no) and squatting (both front and back). It’s basically relevant in 3 major bilateral lower body exercises- this highlights how your upper body programme can be improved by learning key lifts such as the squat and deadlift.

Most of the time I try to finish articles with a take away piece of info or something you can put in to action on your next gym visit. This time though it’s simply master the basic position of hinging at the hip and then load appropriately. If you struggle to achieve this position look at two things your “core” strength (your ability to maintain position) as well as your hip mobility. If you have a lower body that’s tighter than my wallet (pretty tight) then try to do big exercises may be a step too far and working on your hip mobility may allow you to develop better athletic ability- I would consider this a better spend of gym time as opposed to trying to perform an exercise in a sub par fashion under load.




Published by ianmellis

Ian Mellis MSc. CSCS is the co-founder of Results FAST (www.resultsfast.com)based in Ware, Hertfordshire. Specialising in athletic development, physique improvement and injury rehabilitation he provides personal training, strength and conditioning and nutrition coaching for motivated exercisers and those looking to make a long term change to their health, fitness and performance.

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