Of all the things that will stop you from being able to perform a movement correctly, joint mobility and inhibited muscular contraction are probably the most significant. I can count on one hand the clients I have had over the years that have not had a ROM restriction or altered muscle patterning that didn't need rectifying before I prescribed a range of exercises for them. And to be honest, I struggle with ROM every day myself; this old man needs some serious warming up before a session!
So in honour of all of you robots out there, here are three hot tips from my series that will help you and your clients achieve better mobility while squatting, rowing and racking.
This first video is to help improve front rack position for barbell lifts. This position can sometimes be awkward as it's not one we naturally get into throughout the day: forward flexion, horizontal flexion and external rotation at the GH joint combined with extreme pronation and extension under load at the wrist. Forearm flexors, triceps and lats can be really locked up, especially if the whole shoulder girdle isn't moving freely against the ribs. This stretch is perfect if your client struggles with mobility in any of those areas.
Watch this second video below, to understand the proper mechanism for a rowing movement. Sure, you can get your clients to pull on a weight or band, but is it actually doing them any good? When you look closely at the mechanics of a row, you have the opportunity to improve the contraction of the lower traps and rhomboids, but in reality most clients will find it VERY difficult to actually do that. Instead, the upper traps kick in as usual, the biceps assist and the trunk starts to rotate to assist with the ROM required.
The only way to fix this and actually improve the overall mechanics of the shoulder is to work SPECIFICALLY on the correct form by breaking down the row and regressing clients where necessary. Once they have achieved this, they actually have a hope of contracting the scapula stabilisers and reducing their risk of chronic injuries such as impingements in the coracoacromial arch, bursitis under the biceps or supraspinatus tendons and even low back and neck pain.
The final video below outlines a Cassock Squat. I give these to my beginner clients as an introduction to leg strength, co-ordination, lumbar rotation, adductor and hamstring flexibility, hip ROM and overall balance. It's also great as a warm up for my clients who come straight from the office and are keen to get into a leg session. Following the ARAS principle (Assess, Release, Activate, Strengthen), I always make sure to give a specific warm up to release the problematic hyperactive muscles the client has THAT DAY, activate the muscles I want them to be strengthening and then smashing out some good solid reps. That way I know I'm not strengthening muscles that will give them long term problems, but the muscles that will give them long term quality of life through quality movement. What's not to love about the Cassock Squat?
If you got a lot out of these tips, you should check out my online course for Personal Trainers: Advanced Corrective Exercise and Prehabilitation.
Or, you might like more FREE info via a 1hr webinar, which is packed with all my secrets from nearly 20 years in the industry. What will you learn?
Click below to register now, see you there :-)
Tristan Hill, Masters of Sports Coaching, author of Lifting the Bar and mentor to Personal Trainers.