People tend to have polarized feelings about deadlifts. Either they love them or they hate them. If you love deadlifts this is usually for one of three potential reasons.
You already pull heavy weight. You are considered “strong” or “really good at that” so you enjoy doing it more. Yay dopamine!
Maybe you are favorably built for deadlifts with relatively shorter legs, a relatively longer torso, and long arms. (Ape index off the charts!) You seem to PR every time you walk into the gym.
It’s also possible that you grew up on a farm and have been lugging hay bales and drinking raw milk your whole life. Lifting heavy sh*% is a walk in the park for you.
If you don’t fall into one of those categories then there is still hope. Let’s explore the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts!
- Ditch the Mixed Grip
- Dial in Your Setup Position
- Train Deadlift Variations
1.Ditch the Mixed Grip
One of the best ways to start improving your deadlift is to ditch the mixed grip. Many people worry that grip will be a limiting factor at their maximal percentage lifts but you can easily overcome this by implementing a hook grip. This takes some getting used to since you’ve probably never lifted a bar of this weight with a hook grip and the pressure can seem unreal. Try taping your thumbs the first few sessions to take some of the edge off. The benefits of a double overhand grip is better position on the bar, less torque on the hips and spine, and decreased strain on the bicep. Build up this strength in your training sessions and if you really need to resort to a mixed grip for a competition or 1RM attempt then you will be better for waiting.
2. Dial in Your Setup Position
One of the biggest issues you may be facing with deadlifts is the setup. That first pull off the ground never feels quite right. To overcome this you can practice rolling the bar into position. This may feel more comfortable and your body will naturally find the right position without you fidgeting around. If you are new to lifting or know that your mobility is lacking then you may find it beneficial to practice pulling off of blocks. The higher start position will make it easier for you to engage your posterior chain. Another good option here is to work from the top down with lighter loads. Take the loaded bar from a rack or higher blocks and start standing tall, hips fully extended. Keeping your back and core tight and start pushing your hips toward the wall behind you as the bar descends down your thighs. Keep the bar in contact with your legs and the weight in the middle of your foot and heels. Practice lowering down in a slow control fashion taking 4-5 seconds to lower for each rep. If you have a hard time finding the right position then you should take some one on one time to work with a coach who can provide the right cues to get you properly set up.
3. Train Deadlift Variations
Another way to build confidence in your deadlift is to explore different deadlift variations. Sumo deadlifts, single arm, single leg, trap bar, dumbbells, kettlebells, atlas stones, dballs and tire flips will all help you. Getting stronger is going to help even if it is non specific. There’s no shortage of heavy stuff to pick up off the ground! These variations will train your grip, stabilizers, and strengthen many smaller muscles of the glutes and hamstrings that may not get fully recruited in your normal deadlift style.
There you go, the top 3 tips to maximize your deadlifts. Now go find a coach and pull some big numbers!
How To Become A Fat Burning Mom
Evolutionary women were built for childbearing. Unlike men, women have survival techniques that are unique to their bodies in order to prepare them for growing another human. While this is a beautiful miraculous trait, it comes with some conditions that specifically come into play when we are talking performance and body composition.
The human body is quite unique and knows how to maintain homeostasis. It knows what it needs. A woman’s body must have enough vital nutrients and the right structure to have a smooth pregnancy. Bigger hips and a tendency for fat storage are a few of these obvious traits.
Once at the age of childbearing, a woman’s body will begin to make sure it has enough fat to feed a baby. DHA, a brain developing nutrient, is usually found in these fat stores, a technique the body uses to save enough of this nutrient for breastfeeding a newborn. This is extremely important for any baby, but can result in unwanted fat retention for women currently not trying to have kids.
Just because something is natural, doesn’t mean it’s optimal for everyone or everything at all times. Depending on your goals, the female metabolism “naturally” seems counterproductive to many of our goals and ideals when it comes to body composition. But there is a way to use this knowledge to your advantage and get your metabolism to work for you! You can achieve the goals you want in a healthy way, regardless of your hormonal and genetic predisposition.
Let’s circle back to DHA and fat storage. We talked about how crucial this is in a woman’s body during pregnancy. You get DHA from consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids. This is commonly found in foods like salmon and flax seeds. Since the body is already hardwired to store fat this is a very important time to focus on the quality of fats in the diet. Omega-3’s are not only key for brain and eye development-they also play a key role in the body’s inflammatory response.
If you consume a diet high in inflammatory fats you this will results in more fat storage. Get the right amount of fats by increasing Omega 3 consumption so you’re body knows it has enough to meet its needs.
Next, balance your hormones. Eat a clean and nutritious diet and manage your stress levels. A lot of the time hormonal imbalances stem from nutritional issues and chronic conditions like chronic inflammation and stress.
Lastly, don’t be afraid of the heavy weights. Muscle development will help you shape up and lose fat. The more muscle you have, the more fuel your body will need to burn each day. This will let your body handle carbs better, using them to fuel your muscle rather than to store them as fat. A body with more muscle is like a car with a bigger engine, it will burn more fuel! As you start lifting weights you’ll notice changes in body measurements as you swap out fat for muscle.
These tips not only shape your body into a fat burning machine, but they’re going to help with your performance level. Having the right body composition, muscle mass and good nutrition will improve your performance in the gym or in training 10x. Have fun designing the body of your dreams!
If you could only buy one piece of equipment to accomplish all of your training what would you buy? Treadmills and bikes are great for cardio but definitely won’t get you stronger. A barbell is great but where do you have room to keep it and let alone use it? Total gym style machines always feel so awkward, the cables never work and they seem to be built for someone elses body. So what exactly can use to transform your body, build strength, burn fat, and improve your cardio?
Enter the kettlebell.
Kettlebells are a great and diverse tool that you should implement into your training. Kettlebell swings train the total body and can be a low impact way to build muscle.They can be used to improve performance as well as make you look and feel strong and capable. Of course a tool is only useful as long as you know how to use it. Consider learning the basics with a certified coach who can show you the ropes.
Today let’s dive into the top 3 reasons to train with kettlebells so you can see if they are a good fit for your fitness regimen.
- Carry Over To Sport and Life
- Add Variety To Your Training
- Quick And Effective Way To Train
1. Carry Over To Sport and Life
Kettlebell swings have tremendous carry over to your sport and lifestyle activities. They teach you how to hinge at the hip, one of the most important movement patterns for health and optimal function. A strong and healthy lower back as well as a tight core will be developed rapidly when you train kettlebell swings with good form. You will also develop an iron grip. Grip is one of the best indicators of a healthy human and Harvard has found strong correlation between grip strength and cardiovascular health.
Swings will also improve your performance with the olympic lifts and power lifts and any other hip dominant movement like jumping. Kettlebell swings teach the dynamic hip extension that is the foundation of a powerful lifter and athlete. When you become strong and proficient with swings you can continue adding load becoming stronger and more explosive in the process.
2. Add Variety To Your Training
You can train Kettlebell swings more often than many other strength movements. Performing swings 2-3 times per week can really improve your strength and endurance and shake up your typical workout routine. By adjusting the weights , the number of sets, repetitions, and how long you rest you can get totally different responses from your kettlebell workout.
A typical Monday workout could focus on strength and power. You would use fewer reps and a heavy weight taking 2-3 minutes between sets to fully recover.
Wednesdays workout could be focused on building cardio. Use a light kettlebell and swing it for a long time. Pick a number like 20, 50, or even 100 reps and see how quickly you can get there. Or set a timer for 5:00 and see how many swings you can get in that amount of time.
On Friday you could train kettlebell swings in a high intensity interval workout. Use light to moderate weights and focus on explosive efforts followed by bouts of recovery.
3. Quick And Effective Way To Train
Learning swings comes easier for some and harder for others. They are also easier to learn than the olympic lifts and far less technical. Swings are a great alternative for individuals who are focused on fitness for their health and young athletes. They also require less time to prepare the body for in terms of warming up the joints, muscles, and nervous system. They can be a fast and fun way to fit in a workout if you don’t have much time.
The kettlebell swings is such an effective tool because it trains both the eccentric (lengthening of the muscle) and concentric (shortening of the muscle) in a dynamic fashion. The snatch and clean both require a focus on a strong concentric contraction as the weight is lifted, Swings offer a different stimulus that may better suit athletes in sports like basketball or soccer or folks whose goal is not to lift maximal weight overhead.
Kettlebell swings are a fun and effective way to train. Just like most exercises, it’s best to learn from a certified coach so you know you are performing them properly. If you are interested in getting in shape and training in a fun new environment come in for a free consult and we can show where you how training can be fun and get you results!
Group fitness training is a highly effective way to train.
Two popular methods of group training are CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness. If you have been trying to find a fitness program to help you get stronger, lose weight, or improve your health and energy you may have had some questions about the program for you. Let’s take a look at some of the facts about CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness to help you make an informed decision on these training options.
A key difference
One of the key differences to know between CrossFit and Orangetheory is that CrossFit gyms are affiliated and Orangetheory is a franchise. CrossFit affiliation means that the location and it’s coaches are certified in the CrossFit Methodology, the workouts, class structure, and equipment used is dictated by the individual owner. Each CrossFit gym is locally owned and operated. Orangetheory Fitness is a franchise so workouts, equipment, and class structure will be standardized amongst locations.
CrossFit places an emphasis on functional movement and work capacity. Functional means movements that transfer over to everyday life, using your body to perform the movement it is capable of. Work capacity means being able to perform a certain body of work in a given amount of time. This requires you to standardize movement and lets you measure where progress. If you used to be able to perform 15 pushups in one minute and now you can perform 22 pushups in a minute you improved your work capacity.
CrossFit combines gymnastics, weightlifting, powerlifting, strongman, monostructural (run/row/bike), and calisthenics movements in a variety of combinations. The program will generally reflect the style and background of what the gym owner is most comfortable teaching and believes will achieve the best results. For this reason you can witness unique fitness programming at each gym that you attend. You will learn the foundational movements CrossFit teaches like squatting and pressing. The great thing about CrossFit is that each movement and workout can be tailored to fit your unique needs. If a movement is outside your comfort zone then your coach can provide you with an alternative movement that replicates the movement pattern, but may be lighter weight or less technically demanding. Each individual in the class will get a similar result from the workout even though they have a wide range of strength and ability levels. Everyone moves forward together. At Hurricane our workouts consist of five variations to fit every fitness level.
“Typically the world’s best athletes are minimalists when it comes to their training. They work hard and fast with few exercises. They master the fundamentals and work with them for years. This is the secret that no one wants to hear.”
-Greg Glassman, Founder of CrossFit
Orangetheory Fitness incorporates a combination of movements into their classes as well. Participants will run, row, and perform some light resistance training or calisthenics in a high intensity circuit style. You will generally not lift heavy weights and more emphasis is placed on the cardio component in these classes.
“We have a walker category, jogger category, and runner category. With this language I eliminated that fear people have when they walk in like, “oh no I’m not going to fit in.”
-Ellen Latham, Founder of Orangetheory Fitness
A CrossFit class generally consists of a discussion of the days workout and group introduction, a group warm-up, a strength or skill component, a metabolic training component known as the “workout of the day” or “WOD”, and a cool down or stretching session. These sessions are usually an hour long and are always lead by a coach who is certified by CrossFit.
Often times the gym will utilize specific programs designed to improve your strength in a particular lift or muscle group. Improving strength in compound lifts like the squat and deadlift recruits more high threshold motor units and is the most effective way to get stronger. This is a huge area where CrossFit differs from many other popular fitness programs. To truly perform at high intensity the workout must be designed for you to maintain intense effort in a single bout or multiple efforts with rest in between. The longer the duration of the exercise the less intensity you will be able to maintain.
Many programs just keep you moving for long lengths of time that merely grind you down. You might get sore or sweaty but you don’t improve in any measurable way. Learning how to safely and effectively lift heavy loads is a great way to improve muscle mass, burn fat, and build strong bones and joints. You should leave your workout feeling empowered to take on other tasks in your life.
Orangetheory utilizes heart rate monitors to keep you aware of your metabolic output. Your heart rate corresponding with an intensity zone is displayed for you to view. Each class will have you spend time exercising in different zones. Measuring your exertion allows you to improve your fitness if you are able to manage your heart rate in set zones for set durations of time. Similar to CrossFit you will spend time performing a warm-up, both strength training and cardio elements, and a cooldown. More emphasis is placed on the heart rate to achieve a cardiovascular response.
When it comes to your health the cost of a fitness program is always a great investment. CrossFit is usually purchased as a monthly membership. The cost typically ranges between $100-$150 with unlimited classes. You can usually begin with a free trial or consult to see how well you like it. The coaches will want to meet you to learn about your goals and any concerns you may have before you begin so they can set you up for success.
Orangetheory Fitness is a more informal process. You can purchase memberships for 4 times, 8 times, or unlimited classes each month with prices ranges from $59-$175.
Both CrossFit and Orangetheory Fitness are popular ways to train. In CrossFit you can expect more specific programming, a tighter community, and a great focus on strength development and functional training. Orangetheory Fitness is a bit more of a generic way to train and you can expect an upbeat cardio training session with less focus on weight training. Finding a gym that meets your specific needs is the key. A great coach is going to ask you about your goals, injuries, and experience levels. It’s all about finding a program that fits into your budget and lifestyle and most importantly delivers the results you want!
Which lower body movement is “King of the Lifts”?
The squat and deadlift are the two staple movements of a lower body training program. The squat and hip hinge are also two fundamental human movement patterns and are important for normal daily function. They also require a large percentage of muscle recruitment making them essential for developing muscle mass as well as increasing neurological capacity and hormonal output.
The squat and deadlift are also both elegantly simple in theory yet technically complex in application which can make them intimidating for new lifters. The human body is capable of moving tremendous loads with these movements and to stay safe you must master the basics. After all, strength training should always be performed with the proper coaching, equipment, and environment to keep you safe as an athlete.
When it comes to strength training many athletes tend to prefer one lift over the other. There are many reasons for this. Comfort. Body type. Skill level. To name a few. Some people may have stayed away from performing either the squat or the deadlift from a negative past experience or injury.
Let’s take a look at:
- Who should be training squats and/or deadlifts,
- The benefits and muscle groups worked, and…
- The Volume and Intensity you should be using.
General Population versus Athletes
If you are a recreational athlete or utilizing strength training to stay healthy and fit then it is essential that you learn the basics of squatting and deadlifting. After all the ability to squat and hinge are components of everyday life. The human body is an adaptation machine and responds to the demands that are placed upon it. When we spend a lot of time sitting in chairs instead of moving We begin to lose these human movement standards. Don’t worry, the gym is the perfect place to bring them back. When you first learn these lifts make sure to work with an experienced coach who can give you the visual, audible, and tactile cues to perform these lifts.
Athletes also need to hinge and squat to develop explosive power, muscle stiffness, and joint stability for their sport. They may prioritize either the squat, deadlift, or a derivative like the trap bar deadlift based on the demands of the sport on their muscles. Working with a strength coach on sport specific training will be key to choosing the right lifting program for you.
Benefits and Muscle Groups Worked
The ability to perform a basic body weight squat should be the first goal of a training program. The squat requires mobility of the ankles, knees, hips, and spine as well as the motor recruitment patterns to properly extend at the knee hip and ankle simultaneously. The primary muscles worked are the quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes. Depending on the squat variation being used as well as the depth and other variables you can increase or decrease specific muscle activation. Low bar back squats and box squats achieve greater posterior chain activation. Front squats and overhead squats require a more upright torso and are quad dominant.
The deadlift is the most effective exercise for working the posterior chain. The posterior chain is essential for developing strength and power as an athlete. Powerful hamstrings and glutes will make you run faster, jump higher, and lift more weight. The muscles of the back also benefit from deadlifting due to the powerful isometric contraction required to maintain a neutral spine during heavy pulls. The rear delts, lats, and erector spinae all will grow as a result of deadlifting.
Volume versus Intensity
As a general rule of thumb strength training programs should have an inverse relationship between volume and intensity. Since squats and deadlifts are both total body lifts that require intense focus and neural activation it is important to vary loading patterns, volume, and intensity.
Deadlifts tend to be great for intensity but can be problematic in large volume. One fix for this is to train the hinge movement pattern with other implements that remove the need for heavy loading. Kettlebell Swings, Romanian Deadlifts, and Glute Bridges all train this movement pattern and are great.
Squats on the other hand seem to respond better to higher training volume. With that said you can still grind yourself down with too much high intensity work in the rack. Sticking to Prilepin’s chart for percentages is a great way to stay on top of loading parameters to ensure progress without burning out!
There you have it. A breakdown of the squat and deadlift as well as the reasons you should train them. If you’re looking for help learning these movements and building a movement practice to change your body or get stronger we have a team of coaches who can help you reach your goals.
Most of us have an area in our life we wish we were performing better in. That part of us that doesn’t quite fit into our own skin. It could be a touchy subject that our spouse and friends know to steer clear of, the elephant in the room. It could be the promotion you still haven’t received, the credit card you haven’t paid off, or the weight you were supposed to lose by the beginning of summer… in 2012.
And because you’re wearing this very uncomfortable skin that’s not quite your size I am happy to tell you that you are exactly where you chose to be today.
I can already hear the objections rising up so let me explain why.
You see I totally understand your story. I understand because it’s yours, mine, and everyone else’s. Sometimes having a new baby, a busy time at work, or the worst timing for a medical emergency/broken down car/economic depression can happen. There are a million and one events in life that can derail us. They are not always fair and can seem impossible to overcome when they show up knocking at our door.
“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths.”
At that point we do an admirable thing. We give up on our dream. We set it aside to go fix the problem. We change our identity and become the superhero who knows exactly how to work overtime and take care of a sick parent. We do it because we want to make sure the story has a happy ending. We do it out of love.
And life goes on.
And sometimes the situation gets better. And sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, the situation that called for a superhero 6 months ago no longer needs a hero to save it. But there you stand in cape and tights committed to action. Except now it’s time to go home. Time to write a new story.
Where you stand today is a result of many choices. Some of your hero moments were the big decisions that shaped your trajectory. Like I said, I’m proud of you for doing that. But now it’s time to get back on the path. Your path. The one you stopped telling yourself that you wanted because it hurt too bad to think that it may never come true.
You might think it’s too late (it’s not).
You might want to try, but feel that you strayed too far (you haven’t).
You have to remember you have the power of choice. And it’s a good thing that you do. It gives you the power to turn your greatest adversity into your greatest strength. You always have the option to shy away or to stand and fight.
It’s time for a new story. You’re the hero and you’re at the turning point in the movie of your life. So what are you going to do next? You’ve endured hardship, learned tough lessons, and fallen time and time again. Wouldn’t this be a great time for everything to turn around?
Maybe you can recruit someone to help you get there, a long lost friend or a wise old mentor. Maybe you need to crank up “Eye of the Tiger” and experience the training it will take to achieve your success.
The time to act is now. Don’t slip back into your old story. You are the hero. The power of choice brought you here. Your choice decides what happens next.
So what are you going to do?