Fundamental Movement Patterns

gait.jpeg

From an evolutionary perspective man needed the body to move in certain patterns because his life depended on it. If man was able to perform all 7 of the fundamental movements the chances of survival were greatly increased, their risk of injury was decreased, and their ability to provide and perform was increased.

The seven fundamental movement patterns

  1. Squat

  2. Hinge

  3. Lunge

  4. Push

  5. Pull

  6. Rotate

  7. Gait

Nowadays, for most of us survival is not a primary concern. Most us do not need to hunt for our own food, build a shelter, and we have tools to perform common tasks. Because of all the modern day comforts we have in our lives we are not forced to move in all of these patterns on daily basis but we should and that is why we train. If you want to be an athlete on any level you need be functional in all of these movement patterns. If you look at any sport you can break the bio-mechanics down to these 7 fundamental movement patterns.

Examples:

Throwing: leg lunge, torso rotation, arm push, arm extension, wrist flexion

Golf Swing: hip flexion, torso rotation, arm push, torso extension

Kicking: stabilize torso, hip extension, shoulder flexion, torso rotation, hip flexion, hip extension, shoulder extension

Of course we do not think of each of those movement separately when we perform a sport specific task but we can improve those specific tasks by training the individual mechanics. By breaking down sport specific movement, you can not only work to improve those movements but we can also find weak points or particular movement dysfunctions that may be occurring in the body. Training these movements does not mean you load the sport specific movement and try to perform it as if it was unloaded, because that can decrease performance or cause injury. For an extreme example, if you are a baseball player and practice swinging a weighted barbell like you would a baseball bat, it can adversely affect your baseball swing or cause serious injury. You can train rotational movements, lunging, pushing, pulling, hinging, and squatting to improve those movement related to the baseball swing and ideally there will be a transfer of those skills to your baseball swing.

I provided some very simply breakdowns of sport bio mechanics but when we really break down a movement piece by piece, you find the numerous body parts that need to work together correctly in order for that movement to occur. At times it may not be extremely clear what would be the best exercise to replicate a particular movement. To identify the optimal technique to train sport specific movement you need to be familiar with some fundamental anatomy and physiology. Being familiar with bio mechanics will help you to apply the appropriate programming, loading, and assessment.

It is always best to ask a professional if you are unsure. Always use light load or no load in the beginning, and always perform movements in a controlled manner.

Gait

Gait describes the ambulation or locomotion of humans that involves the entire body. Simply, gait is how humans move from place to place.

From an evolutionary perspective gait was required to survive until farming techniques were developed. Until about 10,000 years ago modern farming techniques were developed, gait was crucial. Man had to move from place to place to find new resources and follow herds or animals many miles in order to eat and sprint after animals during hunting.

There are three main speeds of gait

walk, run, and sprint

Gait speed determines how much of the body is involved.

Walking:

  • Primarily uses the lower extremities

  • Torso and arms provide stability and balance

Running & Sprinting

  • Legs continue to do the majority of the work

  • Torso and arms continue to provide balance and stability

  • As speed increases the arm and torso are also required for propulsion

  • Muscles produce a greater response

  • Joints go through a greater range of motion

Gait Cycle

  • Activation of the central nervous system

  • Peripheral nervous system activated

  • Muscle contractions take place

  • Forces are created

  • Joint forces and movement across synovial joints and skeletal system

  • Ground reaction forces are generated

two main phases Of Gait: the stance phase & the swing phase

The stance phase is 60% of the gait, which is broken down into six parts

  • Heel strike

  • Foot flat

  • Mid stance

  • Heel-off

  • Toe-off

  • Mid-Swing

The Swing Phase

  • Acceleration

  • Mid-swing

  • Deceleration

Newest Alternative breakdown of Gait

  • Initial contact

  • Loading response

  • Mid-Stance

  • Terminal stance

  • Pre-swing

  • Initial-swing

  • Mid-Swing

  • Late-swing

Primary Lower Body Muscles/Muscles Groups Involved In Gait

Gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, biceps femoris, gastrocnemius, peroneus longus, peroneus brevis, soleus, tensor fascia latae, pelvic floor, adductors, sartorius, vastus medialis, rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, tibialis anterior

It is crucial that muscles remain in balance. Any imbalance can cause potential injury, decreased performance, or inefficient technique. Muscular balance requires appropriate strength, conditioning, flexibility, mobility, and suppleness of all muscles, joints, and structures involved. As gait increases to running it involves greater rotation of the torso, and increased flexion and extension of the upper extremities. Appropriate training and programming is required to optimize running speeds and minimize injury. This can be done by incorporating the six other fundamental movements to your training to unsure all muscles are trained.

Lunge

Lunge movements are classified as unilateral exercises because it focuses on training a single limb. Although, the lunge is classified as unilateral it does not eliminate the opposing leg entirely. Various levels of force can be applied to the primary leg based on the type of lunge and can be modified by changing stance.

When performing the split squat, reverse lunge or forward lunge or similar exercise the lower body is typically positioned in a split stance position, with legs about hip width apart, one leg positioned forward in front of the body and the opposing leg is positioned behind the body with the hips and the shoulders remaining straight ahead. Lunges can also be performed laterally with one leg positioned to the side of the body and slightly forward while the opposing leg remains under the hip. Hips and shoulders should remain straight ahead while performing the lateral lunge as well.

Primary Muscles Used

Hip joint: gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, adductor magnus

Knee joint: rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis

Ankle joint: gastrocnemius, soleus, tibialis posterior, peroneus longus, peroneus brevis

Lunge Progression

  • Split squat

  • Reverse lunge

  • Forward lunge

  • Walking lunge

  • Reverse walking lunge

  • Rear foot elevated split squat

Squat

Squat should be one of the core lifts in any training program. Squat is beneficial for a variety of fitness, physique, and performance goals. The squat can help you stay injury free, build power legs, increase leg size and a variety of different squats can he beneficial in a multitude of ways.

The squat is a simple movement which you have most likely performed some variations of every day since you were able to stand on two feet. It is done by millions of individual of all shapes, sizes, and ages every time you sit down or stand up. Just because you have been performing some variation of the squat for years does not mean you’ve been doing it correctly and when you add and external load (weight) to the squatting movement it changes the physics and areas of the body that are stressed.

Although, the squat focuses on the legs it is a full body movement. It is classified as a bilateral movement because the load is dispersed between both legs, as compared to a unilateral lift like a lunge that focuses on using one leg. While the squat is a full body movement, you can break down mechanics to identify the most significant bones, joints, and muscle/s involved. If you want to improve the squat and stay injury free you must pay attention to these key areas.

Skeletal structures/bones involved in the squat

  • Spine

During the squat there should not be any major flexion or hyper extension in the spine. The spine has three natural curves in it. Toward the top of your spine (cervical spine) there is a lordotic curve (curving inward), as you move down to the thoracic spine there is a kyphotic curve (curving outward) and another lordotic curve toward the bottom of the spine (lumbar spine). If you are trying to keep you lumbar spine completely straight while squatting you are are actually in a hyper extended position and if you are bent over or rounding your shoulders or upper spine you are in a flexed position.

  • Pelvis

  • Femur

  • Tibia

  • Femur

Joints involved in the squat

  • Intervertebral Joints

  • Hip

  • Knee

  • Ankle

Muscle/Muscle Groups involved in the squat

  • Erectors Spinae

The erector spinae are muscles that help extend and rotate the back. The spinal erectors attach to the top of the pelvis, the ribs and the spine. Each muscle/s crosses only a section of the spine, so they need to be trained individually to keep a well balanced and strong back.

  • Ilicostalis

  • Longissimus

  • Spinalis

  • Torso muscles aka “core”

    You can think or the torso or core muscles as the muscles between your chin and waist not just your “abs”. When a load is placed on your back or upper body during the squat it is important to keep your torso braced. It is important to be able to create enough tension to support the spine and spinal erectors. As you advance in your training and squat heavier loads it becomes important to create internal tension with the torso muscles, as well as the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

    • Obliques

    • Transverse Abdominis

    • Rectus Abdominis

    • Psoas

    • Latissimus Dorsi

    • Quadratus Lumborum

  • Gluteal muscles

    There are three muscles that make up the “glutes” or buttocks. All three gluteal muscles maximus, medius, and minimus originate at the ilium(top of the hip), and sacrum(base of the spine) and insert on the femur(thigh bone). The gluteal muscles are responsible for movement around the hip joint which includes: extension, abduction, external rotation, internal rotation. The largest gluteal muscle, the gluteus maximus is primary muscle responsible for extending the hip during the squat.

    • Gluteus Maximus

    • Gluteus Medius

    • Gluteus Minimus

  • Hamstring Muscles

    There are three muscles that make up the hamstrings are found on the posterior of the thigh. The hamstrings consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Except for the short head of the biceps femoris all of the hamstring muscles originate at the ischial tuberosity (sit bones) and insert at the top tibia or fibula just below the knee. The hamstrings act upon the hip and knee joints and are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension.

    • Biceps Femoris

    • Semitendinosus

    • Semimembranosus

  • Adductors

    The adductors act on the hip joint and are responsible of adducting the thighs or pulling the thighs toward the center of the body. The adductors are made up of seven muscles. For purposes of contributing to the squat and specifically the bottom of the squat, the most important adductor is the adductor magnus because of it’s contribution to hip extension along with the gluteals and hamstrings The adductor magnus has also been called the fourth hamstring because of it similar point of origin its hip extension ability. Unlike the hamstrings adductor magnus is not a knee flexor because it does not cross the knee and inserts on the bottom posterior of the femur at the linea aspera.

    • Adductor Magnus

  • Quadriceps

    As the name gives away there are four muscles that make up the quadriceps. They are the large muscle that make up the front and side of the thigh. Three of the quadriceps are similar; the vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis all help extend the knee and all three originate on the body of the femur and insert at the tibial tuberosity. You can identify the tibial tuberosity by identifying that small bump a few inches below your knee and above you shin. The rectus femoris is similar to the other quadriceps muscles because it also inserts at the tibial tuberosity but originates on the upper, side portion of the pelvis at an area called the anterior inferior iliac spine. The rectus femoris acts as an antagonist to the hamstrings. Like the other three quadricep muscles the rectus femoris can flex the knee and extend the hip but because of it’s origin, it is a better knee extender than hip flexor.

    • Vastus Lateralis

    • Vastus Intermedius

    • Vastus Medialis

    • Rectus Femoris

  • Calf Muscles

    The two primary posterior muscles in the lower leg are the soleus and gastrocnemius. The soleus and the gastrocnemius both plantarflex the ankle (raise the heel), while the gastrocnemius only performs this movement when the leg is extended the soleus plantarflexes the ankle regardless of the knee position. The gastrocnemius is also able to flex the knee. Both muscles insert at the same location, the posterior of the calcaneus (heel) via the achilles tendon but originate at different spots. The soleus, the lower part of the calf originates at the posterior of the tibia and fibula and the gastrocnemius originates toward the bottom of the femur.

    • Soleus

    • Gastrocnemius

How To Squat

Everyone has an opinion about the best stance, foot placement, bar placement, elbow position, head position, grip and more. This simple answer to the best way to squat is that it depends and you need to find what works best for you. Squat technique will depend on the individual, their particular skeletal structure, mobility, and their level of comfort among others variables and objectives.

To optimize your performance squatting with a barbell you first need to perform the smaller but necessary steps the correct way each time to minimize mistakes and allow you to focus of squatting, rather than the auxiliary steps involved, which include: addressing the bar, unracking the barbell, getting into your stance, performing the lift, and re-racking the barbell.

The Squat Stance

  • Stance can vary based on technique as well as your individual body structure, especially your hips and length length.

  • The key to the squatting stance is to find a position that allows you to create the most torque within your legs that starts at the hips and moves down through your feet.

Technique Cue: Imagine your are trying to screw your feet into the ground, toward the outside of your body.

As you do this you should create torque within your leg and you should feel your hips opening up and your knees turning out.

Your feet should not actually turn out as your create torque within your leg but you may turn your feet our 10-30 degrees based on your body structure. If you need to turn the feet out further it may be a mobility or flexibility issue.

Your feet should remain flat and keep your weight over the center of your feet.

If you’re unable to keep your heels down it’s most likely due to mobility or flexibility in you ankles or calls. Do not shift your weight over your heels to remedy this issue.

Technique Cue: Imagine trying to jump your highest, your weight shouldn’t be on your toes or your heels it should be straight through the center of your feet.

Tip: Use shoes that have a limited heel to toe rise and soft cushioning. I recommend the training shoes made by Inov-8, who make shoes with a lower heel to toe rise and very dense, durable, rubber base, that is still flexible enough for all types of training.

Grip set up during the squat

  • Grip can vary between individuals based on your, body, mobility, and personal comfort but there are a few guidelines to help you find what works for you.

  • Despite your style of grip, the goal should be to create tension in your upper back and shoulders. Technically, you are trying to create external rotation in your upper back and shoulders.

Technique Cue: As you grip the bar, pretend you are breaking the bar in half and trying to pull it apart.

  • Your wrists should be straight and your elbows should be underneath your shoulders.

  • Hands should be slightly wider than shoulder width, for most people this is about a thumb to thumb and half length from the beginning of the knurling (where the rough part of the grip starts).

  • The fingers and thumb should wrap around the bar to create the appropriate torsion on the bar and is safer for beginner lifters but if you feel you can create the appropriate response without safety concerns it is OK to unwrap the thumb.

  • A wider grip is acceptable but it will be more difficult to keep tension in the upper back. If it is difficult to grip the bar slightly wider than shoulder width and you are not exceptionally large, it may be due to some mobility issues, especially in the upper back, shoulder, and chest areas.

Squat Set up

  • After gripping the barbell and creating the appropriate tension in your upper back and shoulders, step underneath the bar.

  • Place the barbell across the shelf you have formed on your rear deltoids.

  • As you step underneath the bar with one foot, make sure your foot is securely underneath you and your hips are stable.

  • Step underneath the bar with the second foot and create tension in your upper back and torso prior to lifting the bar off the j-hooks.

  • As you prepare to lift the bar off the rack you should be in the stance you would squat in, work on practicing this the same way each time to minimize the energy being used and prevent injuries.

  • The barbell should feel like it is settled and secured into your delts as your lift off. It should not feel like it is sitting on top of your deltoids teeter tottering back and fourth.

  • Make sure your shoulders are pulled back creating external rotation in your upper back and shoulders, elbows should be underneath they bar and feel like your are trying to pull them into your ribs, keep your torso tight, your feet should be securely screwed into the ground creating external rotation in your hips.

  • Lift the barbell off the rack performing a small squat and stand up tall with a neutral spine and chin.

Walk out prior to squatting

  • Just like your set up, keep your walk out routine the same to minimize expanding unnecessary energy.

  • Staying tall with a neutral spine and chin and continue to keep the appropriate tension in your torso, upper back and shoulders, step back with the foot that you feel most comfortable with then step back with the opposing foot. Two steps should give your the appropriate clearance.

  • After stepping back re-establish your squatting stance but attempt to step back into your stance to reduce the number of movements prior to squatting.

Perform the squat

  • Prior to starting the squat go through the check list that should become your normal routine and repeated the same way each time you squat.

  • Get into your squatting stance, with feet screwed into the ground, glutes should be tight with you hips externally rotated and creating tension through your leg and turning your knees out, shoulders and upper back should be tight, wrists should be straight, head should be neutral, elbow tucked under the bar.

  • Keep your back flat and push your hips backward until you need to bend your knees

  • As you are descending continue to push your knees out and settle into the bottom of the squat. The bottom of the squat may vary with the individual but your hips should be below your knees.

  • Do not relax or bounce at the bottom of the squat. Keeping your knees out and tension in your hips and legs slowly pull yourself into the bottom of the squat. If you are unable to feel like you are pulling yourself into the bottom of the squat slow the movement down until you do.

  • At the very bottom of the squat it should feel a little uncomfortable (not painful) because you will be at a mechanical disadvantage as you reach you end range of motion.

  • As you drive out of the bottom position do not change any of the tension in your body and straighten your legs until your reach your starting position

Common mistakes to look out for while squatting

  • Looking up at the ceiling

  • Hyper extending your back

  • Hinging over and performing a good morning

  • Bending wrists or loosening

  • Raising elbows as if you are trying to come over the bar

Squat progression

  • Goblet squat: uses single dumbbell held in front of the body and the hands cup the top half of a vertically placed dumbbell as you would a large goblet cup.

  • Single-arm dumbbell front squat: places the load in one hand and trains one side of the body at a time, the forearm should be in a vertical position which would be similar to same position the arm would be in at the top of the bicep curl.

  • Double-arm dumbbell front squat: performed the same as the single arm dumbbell front squat but using two dumbbells.

  • Barbell Squat: there are various barbell squats but the three most common squats are based on the placement of the barbell.

Alternative Barbell placement during the squat

  • Barbell front squat: barbell is placed across the anterior deltoids

  • Barbell back squat (high): barbell is placed across your trap

  • Barbell back squat (low): barbell is placed across the posterior deltoids


Hinge | Deadlift

When you think about the hinge movement in reference to strength training you think of the deadlift. The deadlift movement does not only apply to weight training but it is extremely applicable to the real world. Every time you lift something off of the ground you are performing a deadlift. There are so many people that have back problems today because they do not know how to put themselves in good positions while performing everyday movement. If the general population only knew the fundamentals of the hinge movement they would be able to protect their back and reduce their risk of injury.

Primary Skeletal Structures/Bones Involved in the Deadlift

  • Spine

  • Pelvis

  • Femur

  • Tibia

  • Fibula

Primary Joints involved in the Deadlift

  • Intervertebral Joint

  • Hip

  • Knee

Muscle/Muscle Groups involved in the Deadlift

  • Erectors Spinae

The erector spinae are muscles that help extend and rotate the back. The spinal erectors attach to the top of the pelvis, the ribs and the spine. Each muscle/s crosses only a section of the spine, so they need to be trained individually to keep a well balanced and strong back.

  • Ilicostalis

  • Longissimus

  • Spinalis

Torso muscles aka “core”

You can think or the torso or core muscles as the muscles between your chin and waist not just your “abs”. When a load is placed on your back or upper body during the squat it is important to keep your torso braced. It is important to be able to create enough tension to support the spine and spinal erectors. As you advance in your training and squat heavier loads it becomes important to create internal tension with the torso muscles, as well as the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

  • Obliques

  • Transverse Abdominis

  • Rectus Abdominis

  • Psoas

  • Latissimus Dorsi

  • Quadratus Lumborum

  • Gluteal muscles

    There are three muscles that make up the “glutes” or buttocks. All three gluteal muscles maximus, medius, and minimus originate at the illium(top of the hip), and sacrum(base of the spine) and insert on the femur(thigh bone). The gluteal muscles are responsible for movement around the hip joint which includes: extension, abduction, external rotation, internal rotation. The largest gluteal muscle, the gluteus maximus is primary muscle responsible for extending the hip during the squat.

    • Gluteus Maximus

    • Gluteus Medius

    • Gluteus Minimus

  • Hamstring Muscles

    There are three muscles that make up the hamstrings are found on the posterior of the thigh. The hamstrings consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. Except for the short head of the biceps femoris all of the hamstring muscles originate at the ischial tuberosity (sit bones) and insert at the top tibia or fibula just below the knee. The hamstrings act upon the hip and knee joints and are responsible for knee flexion and hip extension.

    • Biceps Femoris

    • Semitendinosus

    • Semimembranosus

  • Adductors

    The adductors act on the hip joint and are responsible of adducting the thighs or pulling the thighs toward the center of the body. The adductors are made up of seven muscles. For purposes of contributing to the squat and specifically the bottom of the squat, the most important adductor is the adductor magnus because of it’s contribution to hip extension along with the gluteals and hamstrings The adductor magnus has also been called the fourth hamstring because of it similar point of origin its hip extension ability. Unlike the hamstrings adductor magnus is not a knee flexor because it does not cross the knee and inserts on the bottom posterior of the femur at the linea aspera.

    • Adductor Magnus

  • Quadriceps

    As the name gives away there are four muscles that make up the quadriceps. They are the large muscle that make up the front and side of the thigh. Three of the quadriceps are similar; the vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis all help extend the knee and all three originate on the body of the femur and insert at the tibial tuberosity. You can identify the tibial tuberosity by identifying that small bump a few inches below your knee and above you shin. The rectus femoris is similar to the other quadriceps muscles because it also inserts at the tibial tuberosity but originates on the upper, side portion of the pelvis at an area called the anterior inferior iliac spine. The rectus femoris acts as an antagonist to the hamstrings. Like the other three quadricep muscles the rectus femoris can flex the knee and extend the hip but because of it’s origin, it is a better knee extender than hip flexor.

    • Vastus Lateralis

    • Vastus Intermedius

    • Vastus Medialis

    • Rectus Femoris

  • Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi aka “lats” is the large flat muscles you find on your back that stretches underneath you arm and runs down the side of your torso. The lats originate on varying locations but primarily on the top of your pelvis at the iliac crest, on spinous processes of T7-L5 vertebrae , and on the bottom 3-4 ribs, the inferior angle of the scapula(shoulder), and the thoracolumbar fascia. The lats insert on the top of your humerus(upper arm) at the intertubercular groove aka bicipital. The latissimus dorsi are responsible for depression, adduction, extension, and internally rotation of the arm at the shoulder.

How to Deadlift

Just like setting up for the squat you want to find a routine that works for you and continue to practice it each time you deadlift. Additionally, most of the technique you use to set up the squat carry over to the deadlift. You create tension, brace the torso, create torque in your hips and legs, and keep your weight over the center of your feet. Once you learn this technique you can practice every time you pick something up off of the ground. One of the important things to remember is to create tension in your body prior to lifting a load. Many people try to grip the barbell first then organize their body to lift the load. For that reason many people get hurt, not just strength training but lifting everyday objects. You may have done this yourself, reaching down to pick something up you realize how heavy it is and instead of standing up and reorganizing your spine and creating the appropriate tension you attempt to drop your hips, take the slack out of your back, and create tension while you are already bent over gripping the load.

The Deadlift Stance

  • When setting up your stance for the deadlift your feet should be about hip width apart.

  • The standard deadlift stance will usually be slightly more narrow than your squat stance.

  • Your feet should be pointing forward with your second toe straight ahead.

  • Screw your feet into the ground, toward the outside of the body to create torsion through you leg

  • Walk up to the bar until your are shins are right up the bar and the bar should be right over your laces or center of your feet.

The Deadlift Setup

  • Create tension your glutes and make sure your hips are neutral (not tucked forward or backward).

Technique Cue: To make make sure your hips are neutral imagine tucking your belly button up toward your chin.

  • To set up your upper back and shoulders, raise your arms up directly in front of you to the height of your shoulders, then pull your should back and externally rotate your arm at the shoulder joint, while the hands remain palms down.

  • Take a breath in, tighten up your torso, and keep your rips down.

  • Holding that position, with your arms out, push your hips back and hinge over your waist until you reach the barbell, keep your back flat the entire time.

The Deadlift Grip

  • As you are hinged over and maintaining the previous position, grip the bar with one hand at a time, about a thumbs length from your leg.

  • Grip the bar with an overhand grip (palms down) and wrap your fingers and thumb around the bar. Many people like to use a mixed grip but I recommend using an overhand grip until you learn the technique and then maybe look at the mixed grip as you get into much heavier loads or a hook grip as your progress with weight/Olympic lifts.

  • As you grip the bar, use the cue break the bar and pull it apart to take the slack out of your arms and upper back.

Perform the Deadlift

  • As you take the slack out of your arms and back, simultaneously create tension throughout your lower body, hips, hamstrings, and back, by raising your hips, extending your legs, while continuing to keep your back flat and your head neutral.

  • As your feel as though you have created as much tension as you could throughout you body and prepare to deadlift, make sure the bar is directly below your shoulder blades.

  • Slowly drop your hips/butt slightly and pull the bar.

  • As your pull the bar straight up, make sure your shins remain vertical and the bar stays as close to the body as possible

  • Continue to keep your back flat as your lift the barbell.

  • As you stand up tighten your glutes and drive you hips forward but do not lean back and hyper-extend the back.

  • As you lower the bar, push your hips back and hinge back over the waist and slowly drop the hips back down to the same place your were in when you initially set up.

  • Do not let up any of the tension in the upper or lower body while you lower the weight back down to the starting position.

  • It is acceptable to drop the weight at the top of the deadlift if you are specifically training the concentric part of the deadlift or if the load is so heavy that it could be dangerous to attempt to lower it. Simply, do not neglect the negative aspect of the deadlift just because it is not as sexy doesn’t mean it is not beneficial.

Pull

Just like the previous mentioned movements pulling is something you do daily it can involve something as simple as opening a door or as complicated as climbing a rope. In regards to strength training there are 2 primary pulling movements: pulling vertically as in the pull up or pulling horizontally as in a row exercise.

Vertical Pull | Pull Up

For many people the pull up is one of the most intimidating exercises. I’m not sure if this stems from the stress incurred during your grade school physical fitness test, being the center of attention on the highest piece of equipment in the gym or the immediate pass or fail feedback your receive from the pull up. The pull up can be difficult because unlike lower body movements that you perform on a daily bases like walking, running, and standing, that prepare you to squat and lunge, most of us aren’t pulling ourselves up or hanging from a bar on a daily bases. From my experience most individuals give up on the pull up much too soon but with some practice and understanding what you are trying to do, you can be repping out pull up’s in no time. The pull up is a great marker of overall fitness and all you need is your body.

Primary SKELETAL Structures / Joints Involved In the Pull Up

  • Vertbrae

  • Scapula

  • Shoulder

  • Elbow

  • Wrist

Primary Muscles Involved in the Pull Up

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi aka “lats” is the large flat muscles you find on your back that stretches underneath you arm and runs down the side of your torso. The lats originate on varying locations but primarily on the top of your pelvis at the iliac crest, on spinous processes of T7-L5 vertebrae , and on the bottom 3-4 ribs, the inferior angle of the scapula(shoulder), and the thoracolumbar fascia. The lats insert on the top of your humerus(upper arm) at the intertubercular groove aka bicipital. The latissimus dorsi are responsible for depression, adduction, extension, and internally rotation of the arm at the shoulder.

Torso muscles aka “core”

You can think or the torso or core muscles as the muscles between your chin and waist not just your “abs”. When a load is placed on your back or upper body during the squat it is important to keep your torso braced. It is important to be able to create enough tension to support the spine and spinal erectors. As you advance in your training and squat heavier loads it becomes important to create internal tension with the torso muscles, as well as the diaphragm and pelvic floor.

  • Obliques

  • Transverse Abdominis

  • Rectus Abdominis

  • Psoas

  • Quadratus Lumborum

Arms

  • Brachilalis

  • Brachioradialis

  • Biceps brachii

Shoulders and Upper Back

  • Teres major

  • Deltoids

  • Infraspinatus

  • Teres minor

  • Rhomboids

  • Levator Scapulae

  • Trapezius

Chest

  • Pectoralis

the pull up Grip

  • There are many variations and grip styles you can use to perform the pull up/chin up but this guide will be using the overhand (palms away) grip.

  • Grip the bar approximately shoulder width apart.

  • Wrap all your fingers and thumb around the entire bar. A hook grip is also an option you can use while gripping the pull up bar.

Set up for the pull up

  • After gripping the bar your want to create external rotation in your shoulder. Many people find it help to pull your shoulders back and down.

  • You want to use the cue of imagine snapping the bar in half and pulling the bar apart to create torque in your shoulders.

  • Create tension in your torso by tucking your belly button toward your chin, squeezing your glutes, and keeping your ribs down.

Technique Cue: Imagine that you are taking all of the slack out of rope as your create tension in your upper body.

  • As you begin to pull up, keep your lower body still and point your toes toward the ground.

  • As you pull up think about driving your elbows into the ground as hard as possible.

  • Continue to keep all of your body tight and keep your head and spine neutral as you raise your chin over the car.

  • Do not attempt to raise your chin or extend your back to reach over the bar.

  • Lower your body at a slow and controlled tempo until your arms are extended.

  • Do not allow your body to drop or bounce out of the bottom of the pull up because it can greatly increase you’re risk of injury.

Push

Whether you are passing a basketball, mountain biking down a hill, or getting up off of the ground from a prone position you are stabilizing your body the same way you would to perform a pushing movement in the weight room. When it comes to pushing movements in strength training the bench press would probably rank as a gym favorite and whether it’s accurate or not many people use it as a marker of strength. How much do you bench bro?, is a question that has not only caused many people to attempt to lift more weight then they able to with quality form but has caused injuries.

The Bench Press

Bones involved in the Bench Press

  • Scapulae

  • Clavicle

  • Humerus

  • Radius

  • Ulna

Joints Involved in the Bench Press

  • Shoulder complex

  • Elbow

  • Radio-ulnar joint

  • Wrist

Muscles Involved in the Bench Press

  • Pectoralis major

  • Triceps

  • Anterior deltoids

  • Rotator cuff muscles

  • Latissimus dorsi

How to Bench Press

The Setup for the Bench Press

  • Whether you are using a bench or performing a variation of the bench press such as, as floor press make sure your feet are placed flat and firmly to the ground.

  • As you lay back on the bench press your shoulder down and into the bench. It should feel as if you are trying to perform a row.

  • As you press your shoulder blades into the bench there should be a slight arch in your lower back.

Grip For the Bench Press

  • Grip the bar using knurling and your thumb as a guide. The knurling is the rougher etched area of the bar.

  • The 3 most common bench press grips will be a full thumb, half thumb, or no thumb’s length away the beginning part of the knurling.

  • After you find your grip placement make sure you wrap your thumb around the bar.

  • After gripping, create torque throughout your arms and shoulders by trying to snap the bar in half and pull it apart simultaneously.

Performing the Bench Press

  • After unracking the bar and ensuring you have created torque throughout your arms begin to lower the bar directly of the middle of your chest.

  • As you lower the bar make sure you keep your elbows 45 degrees from your torso. Do not allow your elbows to flair out or tuck them into your torso.

  • Make sure your forearm remains in a straight line perpendicular to the floor and your wrist stays straight and strong. Many individuals tend to allow their wrists bend when they bench press. Make sure the back of your band stays inline with your wrist and forearm.

  • As you lower the bar continue to engage your shoulder blades into the bench. Imagine you are pulling the barbell into you rather than just lowering it.

  • As you reach the bottom of the bench press it should touch your chest not bounce off of your chest.

  • After a slight pause at the bottom of the bench press push the bar back up. Keep your arms and shoulder blades engaged as you push.

Technique Cue: As you push up try to squeeze your elbow together.