Reverse Lunge

The reverse lunge is a dynamic single leg variation.  It places slightly less load onto the knees and more onto the hips. Can be loaded with either DB’s or BB

 

How

 

With DB’s down by your side or a bar placed behind the neck set yourself with your chest up, shoulders pulled back, abs engaged and feet shoulder width apart. From here step back and down in one movement until your rear knee touches the floor. Ensure your weight remains through the heel of the front foot and your chest in an upright position throughout. Once full range of motion is achieved push hard with the front foot the power you back up to the start position ready for the next rep.

 

Why

 

As with any unilateral leg exercise the reverse lunge is used to develop balance through the hips. It encourages dynamic stability of the glutes and lower abs to maintain pelvic alignment through whilst taking a little pressure off of the knees.

 

When

 

When used as a teaching progression higher reps (8-20) and lighter loads are used. For strength purposes reps between 5-10 work best.

Romanian Deadlift aka RDL

The RDL is used to strengthen the hamstrings and low back.

 

How

 

Unlike the standard deadlift the RDL starts at the hip. From here you bend at the knees slightly with your torso vertical. Keeping your knees bent tighten your back and keep it arched, then lower the bar down your thighs as far as you can whilst still maintaining the arch in the lower back, pushing your hipsback. Then return the bar back to the start position. Remember to keep the bar as close to you as possible.

 

Why

 

The RDL strengthens the hamstrings, glutes and low back and teaches the correct mechanics of a hip hinge. Upper back will also be exposed to a lot of work due to the focus on keeping the bar close to the body.

 

When

 

Reps between 3-8 are most commonly used but higher reps can be used with lighter weights if your goal is reinforcing correct mechanics of the lift. Load should not exceed that of which the arch in the lower back can be maintained.  

Podium Deadlifts

The same as the deadlift but the addition of a podium increases the range of motion.

 

How

 

The podium deadlift is identical to the standard deadlift but with the addition of a podium. Standing on a podium and with your grip just outside shoulders, pull yourself into your starting position (make sure you can achieve a straight back before lifting. If not then you need to work on mobility). Shoulders should be slightly ahead of the bar, weight to the front of the foot and bar pulled back into the shins. To initiate the lift, take a breath in and engage everything in the trunk. Keep tension throughout. Push hard into the floor with your legs, the weight should slightly back towards the heels as the bar leaves the floor. The same back angle should be maintained until the bar reaches mid thigh with a focus of keeping the chest up. At this point, finish the lift by fully engaging the glutes and quads and extending at the hip and knee until in an upright position and arms at full length. On completion of the lift the shoulders should be slightly behind the bar with the weight firmly through the heels and the abs engaged. Reverse the movement and control the bar back to the floor for the next lift.

 

Why

 

The use of a podium places more load onto the legs and teaches you to use the legs at the start of a deadlift. The height of the podium can vary depending on your height, mobility or desired difficulty of the lift. The height of the podium should not exceed that of which you can maintain good form at the bottom of the lift.

 

When

 

Generally speaking reps of 2-6 are most commonly used, depending on phase of the program. If being used to strengthen posture and positions then slower eccentrics can be employed to place more focus on the posterior chain. 

Snatch Grip Deadlift

The snatch grip deadlift is variation of the deadlift that places more focus on the upper back as well as mobility

 

How

 

With your snatch grip pull yourself into your starting position (make sure you can achieve a straight back before lifting. If not then you need to work on mobility). Shoulders should be slightly ahead of the bar, weight to the front of the foot and bar pulled back into the shins. To initiate the lift, take a breath in and engage everything in the trunk. Keep tension throughout. Push hard into the floor with your legs, the weight should slightly back towards the heels as the bar leaves the floor. The same back angle should be maintained until the bar reaches mid thigh with a focus of keeping the chest up. At this point, finish the lift by fully engaging the glutes and quads and extending at the hip and knee until in an upright position and arms at full length. On completion of the lift the shoulders should be slightly behind the bar with the weight firmly through the heels and the abs engaged. Reverse the movement and control the bar back to the floor for the next lift.

 

Why

 

The snatch grip deadlift is a great strength builder for the posterior chain as well as the trunk. Due to the increased range of motion more emphasis is placed on the legs, upper back and grip (when not using straps).

 

When

 

Generally speaking reps of 1-6 are most commonly used, depending on phase of the program. If being used to strengthen posture and positions in the snatch then the weight used should not exceed that of which proper form can maintained. 

Pause Squats

The pause squat can be used as either back squat or front squat.  It places more emphasis on the bottom range of the squat and the drive out of the hole, therefore improving the rate of force development.

 

How

 

Set up in either the back squat or front squat and perform the eccentric portion of the lift as per normal.  Once the bottom position is reached pause for the prescribed amount of time, ensuring tension is maintained throughout and no bouncing or movement takes place. On completion of the pause drive back up aggressively making sure you drive the shoulders up into the bar and lead the movement with the chest.

 

Why

 

Pause squats have few main benefits. A pause of 3-4 seconds will help improve the rate of force development by eliminating the stretch shortening cycle. Longer pauses can be held and will help strengthen the trunk and positions at the bottom of the lift as well as flexibility of the hips, ankles and upper back.. Pause squats will also help address and technical flaws such as leading with the hips

 

When

 

Pause squats can be used much like any other squat, however, the number of reps prescribed will depend on the length of the pause. I rarely recommend reps in excess of 5 and my go to pause is 3 seconds. I do however like to use longer pauses on lighter days, this helps keep the load down and will aid mobility following a heavy day.

 

Front Squat

The front squat is a basic lower body strength exercise.

 

How

 

Place the bar on the front of the shoulder, hands lightly gripping the bar just outside of the shoulders and the elbows up at 90 degrees. Arch the back hard, particularly the upper back and take a deep breath in. Engage everything in your core and keep it tight. Set your feet between hip and shoulder width with your toes slightly turned out. Keeping your chest up and everything engaged break at the hip and knee together and descend into the bottom of the squat. Full range of motion for the squat is with your hamstrings completely covering your calves, feet flat on the floor, whilst maintaining the arch in your low back. If full range of motion cannot be achieved then you need to work on mobility. Upon reaching the bottom of a squat drive up aggressively with the legs ensuring you are keeping the chest up throughout with the weight towards the rear of the foot.

 

Why

 

When performed with full range of motion the front squat is a great strength builder of the legs, trunk and back extensors whilst promoting full range of motion to the hips and ankle.  With the bar in the front of the shoulders it places more stress on maintaining a upright torso throughout the lift. The more upright position also pushes the load slightly more onto the quads and will have a great carry over to your cleans.

 

When

 

There are infinite programming possibilities when it comes to the front squat but more commonly than not for strength gain 1-5 reps are used. However, due to the carry over for the clean moderate weights can be used to work on positioning, timing and speed. 

1+1/4 Squat

The 1+1/4 squat can be used as either back squat or front squat.  It places more emphasis on the bottom position in a squat.

 

How

 

Set up in either the back squat or front squat and perform the eccentric portion of the lift as per normal. At the bottom of the lift drive up to parallel under control, pause, return to the bottom of the lift and then drive up to full extension.  Do not relax into the bottom and ensure tension is maintained through the legs.

 

Why

 

I like the 1+1/4 squat to help strengthen the upright position when driving out of the hole. It places more emphasis onto the VMO and glutes due to the double drive out of the bottom.

 

When

 

The purpose of this exercise is to strengthen the bottom position of the squat and the activation and strength of the VMO and glutes. Therefore, the weight shouldn’t be so much so that these positions are compromised. Go heavy but with good form. If the positions cannot be maintained then the exercise is null and void. I have found this exercise to be most beneficial in the 3-6 rep range with a controlled eccentric. 

FFE (Front Foot Elevated) Split Squat

As the name implies this exercise is performed with the front foot slightly elevated. This takes some of the mobility demands for this exercise away allowing you to focus on technique. Can be loaded with DB’s or a BB when technique is good.

 

How

 

With DB’s down by your side or a bar placed behind the neck set yourself with your chest up, shoulders pulled back and abs engaged. Place one foot onto a platform in front of you so that you are in a split stance. With a slight bend in the back leg and pushed high onto the tip-toe ensure you are squeeze the glute as hard as you can to set the pelvis to neutral. From here, keeping the weight through the heel of the front foot, push yourself both forward and down so that your glute of the front leg reaches the heel of the front foot. Make sure you keep the hips squared off and you rear glute engaged, you should feel a big stretch along the front of the trailing leg. From the bottom position push yourself both back and up ensuring to initiate the movement with the heel of the front foot and pulling yourself back the start position.

 

Why

 

As with any unilateral leg exercise the FFE split squat is used to develop balance through the hips and is also phase 2 of my single leg progressions when teaching single leg work. It encourages dynamic stability of the glutes and lower abs to maintain pelvic alignment through movement as well as targeting both the VMO and glute muscles.

 

When

 

When used as a teaching progression higher reps (8-20) and lighter loads are used. For strength purposes reps between 5-10 work best.

Good Morning

The good morning is amazing exercise for strengthening the back, glutes and hamstrings.

 

How

 

Place the bar behind the neck, much like a back squat. Foot width can vary from very wide to target the hips more or narrow to hit the hamstrings more.  Once your feet are set pull the bar into the back to engage the lats and then brace hard with the abs to fix the midsection. From here unlock the knees so that there is a slight bend in them and hinge at the hip. Pushing the hips back whilst being conscious not to let the arch in the back or the abs soften. Once full range is reached reverse the movement ensuring you drive the shoulders into the bar on the way up.

 

Why

 

The good morning works the back isometrically, strengthening the ability to maintain a strong arch whilst placing a lot of load onto the hamstrings and glutes. The good morning has a good carry over to the Olympic lifts, squats and deadlifts. Due to bar being on the back and therefore creating a longer lever length the good morning is a great for strengthening the spinal erectors.

 

When

 

Can be used with reps in the range of 3-10. Weights don’t have to be extremely heavy with more focus placed on posture and maintaining a strong arch and core throughout the lift.   

Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift is an advanced exercise and is used to strengthen the hamstrings and low back by eliminating the leg drive.

 

How

 

Unlike the standard deadlift where your hips start below your shoulder you will now set up with the hips and shoulder at the same height. It is viatally important that you engage your back hard, locking it into extension before pulling. From here pull hard, driving your shoulders back and hips forwards into the bar whilst maintaining a straight back throughout. Return to the ground under control ready for the next rep. Its important that you have the mobility to keep your back straight in the start position before using this exercise.

 

Why

 

The mechanical disadvantage this start position places on the body it is a great strength builder for your hamstrings, glutes and low back. With the movement mimicking that of a standard deadlift, minus the leg drive, it lends itself well as a great deadlift builder with many big deadlifters using this lift in the early stages of there program to bring their posterior chain strength up before going heavy on the deadlift.

 

When

 

Due to the exaggerated range of motion through the hips I don’t recommend high reps for this exercise or going too heavy. I like somewhere between 4-8 reps focussing on control and correct technique throughout.   

Podium Snatch Grip Deadlift

The same as the snatch grip deadlift but the addition of a podium increases the range of motion.

 

How

 

The podium snatch grip deadlift is identical to the standard snatch grip deadlift but with the addition of a podium. Standing on a podium and with your snatch grip, pull yourself into your starting position (make sure you can achieve a straight back before lifting. If not then you need to work on mobility). Shoulders should be slightly ahead of the bar, weight to the front of the foot and bar pulled back into the shins. To initiate the lift, take a breath in and engage everything in the trunk. Keep tension throughout. Push hard into the floor with your legs, the weight should slightly back towards the heels as the bar leaves the floor. The same back angle should be maintained until the bar reaches mid thigh with a focus of keeping the chest up. At this point, finish the lift by fully engaging the glutes and quads and extending at the hip and knee until in an upright position and arms at full length. On completion of the lift the shoulders should be slightly behind the bar with the weight firmly through the heels and the abs engaged. Reverse the movement and control the bar back to the floor for the next lift.

 

Why

 

The use of a podium places more load onto the legs and teaches you to use the legs at the start of a deadlift. The height of the podium can vary depending on your height, mobility or desired difficulty of the lift. The height of the podium should not exceed that of which you can maintain good form at the bottom of the lift.

 

When

 

Generally speaking reps of 2-6 are most commonly used, depending on phase of the program. If being used to strengthen posture and positions then slower eccentrics can be employed to place more focus on the posterior chain. 

Deadlift

The deadlift is a basic strength exercise that is great at developing the posterior chain.

 

How

 

Take a grip just outside shoulder width and lower your hips down whilst pulling your chest up. Shoulders should be slightly ahead of the bar, weight to the front of the foot and bar pulled back into the shin. To initiate the lift, take a breath in and engage everything in the trunk. Keep tension throughout. Push hard into the floor with your legs, the weight should slightly back towards the heels as the bar leaves the floor. The same back angle should be maintained until the bar reaches mid thigh. At this point, finish the lift by fully engaging the glutes and quads and extending at the hip and knee until in an upright position and arms at full length. On completion of the lift the shoulders should be slightly behind the bar with the weight firmly through the heels and the abs engaged. Reverse the movement and control the bar back to the floor for the next lift.

 

Why

 

The deadlift is a great strength builder for the posterior chain as well as the trunk. It should be a mainstay in anyone’s program whose goal is strength. With regards to the clean the deadlift can be used for strengthening positions and balance throughout the pull.

 

When

 

When programming the deadlift 1-5 reps are most commonly used. Particular attention must be placed on form and weights should not exceed that of which good form can be maintained.