Knowing Your Limits

May 28, 2014

In the rush to put on a few more pounds of muscle before summer or strip off that holiday weight you often forego the things you need to do most. Even worse, you advance yourself to another stage of training that you are not ready for. It is cirtical to know what you can and can't do in the gym so that you don't get injured (obvious right?), or develop postural imbalances that will haunt you later (not as obvious).

 

Maybe it is your form, your strength, your mastery of a previous movement, or simply the lack of understanding of what you are about to undertake...regardless you shouldn't be advancing.

 

Take for example the barbell squat.

 

  • If you can't keep your heels down through the lift and keep finding yourself on your toes, then you have no business adding any additional weight. 

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  • If you can't keep your chest up and scapula pinched together during the descent and return of the lift, then you should put the barbell away and do a goblet squat.

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  • If you can feel your knees bending towards one another like a magnet is pulling them, then learn to open your stance (knees) and train your abductor/adductor chain with dedicated exercise.

 

 

The point I am trying to make with all of this is that we aren't always ready for what we believe we are! In the generation of Crossfit it is becoming an assumed right to be nailing power cleans, weighted-hypers, and front squats on day 1. This is flat out wrong on every level. The best athletes develop along a curve, the best bodybuilders develop along a curve, and guess what...YOU SHOULD TOO.

 

Do not think that skipping straight to the good stuff gets you the body you want faster. This is not your "private" movie collection, and weight training certainly doesn't have a fast forward or rewind button. You need to master the movements as they come to you, perfect your form, gradually increase weight, and never stop "FEELING" what your body is doing and assessing yourself to make sure you are kicking butt and taking names.

 

Now, don't think that I'm standing here yelling at you to spend the next 6 weeks doing corrective exercises and regressing your lifts to the point you don't break a sweat. If you are doing any exercise right, with proper load, you will feel it, and it will cause change.

 

My personal experience has involved removing myself from deadlifts for almost a year. In that time I built my hamstring strength up with a variety of leg curls, RDL-s, and squats. I trained my body to move in the correct order by low loading a barbell and grooving the movement until I did it correctly everytime. I built up my traps with shrugs and face-pulls, improved my t-spine mobility, and strengthed my hips to counterbalance the fact that they are WAY WAY too mobile.


The result?

 

Great deadlifts, better cleans, better snatches, and most importantly, my lower back never hurts. I'm pulling quality weight for doubles and triples and feeling great each and every time. 

 

 

The take away: Work hard, but be smart, form is key to everything in the gym. Whether you are doing a Kettlebell swing, or a loaded back squat, you should feel ready to handle the movement. If you have any questions, regress the movement....

 

If you have any questions beyond that...email me. I got you!

 

Till Friday ladies and gents!

 

Kevin

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Kevin Mullins is an average guy doing above average things. He wakes up each day with the intent to put his best foot forward, to help others, and to have a little fun.

 

He is the author of the popular book Day by Day: The Personal Trainer's Blueprint to Achieving Ultimate Success, which is available on amazon.com now.

Kevin is a certified strength and conditioning specialist, Equinox Master instructor and trainer of ten years. He has over twenty thousand hours of experience under his belt. 

He has been featured on the PTDC, PTontheNET, was named a Men's Health Next Top Trainer in 2014 and 2015, contributes to NSCA PT quarterly, and speaks at a variety of conferences.

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