Archives for posts with tag: side plank

I bet if you got 50 strength coaches in a room and asked which was better: the squat or the deadlift, you’d get 25 coaches saying squat and 25 coaches saying deadlift.

Mass hysteria would ensue and it would look something like this:

Point being, I bet all would agree that both are vitally important in all strength programs. They are the king of all exercises for performance, health, and even fat loss.

Yeah I’d say he’s pretty lean…

However, I work in a commercial gym, and the LACK of squatting and deadlifting is really unfortunate. In reality, 85% of gym members do not work with a trainer, and I’d venture to say 85% of that 85% perform squats and deadlifts wrong, or don’t do them at all.

I’m not just writing this to be a jerk; I want you to know how to do it, and do it right! Most of the time, if I can get you to set-up properly, the movement will happen easily. In my opinion, external tactical feedback trumps all other forms of cues. It has many fancy names… but I just call it “feeling it.” The amount of times I say “How does it feel?” of “Where do you feel it?” throughout the day is borderline ridiculous. For example, one of my favorite uses for external feedback is using a wall for a side plank:

side plank

It is literally impossible to screw up because you have the wall (aka your “external tactical feedback”) to tell your body where it needs to be.

So how does this apply for squats and deadlifts? Well, you’ll need a box, small hand weights, some val-slides, and something heavy (kettlebell, dumbbell, barbell, small child, etc)

To set up the squat:

  • Place the small hand weights at the edge of the box, slightly wider than hip-width apart
  • Stand with your heels up against the weights
  • With kettlebell or dumbbells held goblet style, sit back and down until your butt touches the box. (It’s there, I promise)
  • Pop your chest out like you own the place and stand up tall

To set up the deadlift:

  • Put your toes/midfoot on the bottom support bar of the box. That way you are automatically on your heels*
  • Place val-slides under your armpits and squeeze the crap out of them.
  • Push your hips back and grab the kettlebell
  • Grab the kettlebell and stand up tall

*For learning purposes only, should your toes be off the ground. Deadlifting can be a very unnatural feeling for beginners, and doing it this way teaches you to keep your weight on your heels. Once you get familiar with the movement and start doing heavier loads, having your feet completely on the ground is optimal for force production. 

Now go squat, ya monkey!

There are two kinds of people in this world…. Men…. and Women.

If you’re the latter of the two, chances are you wouldn’t hate to build a better backside. If you’re the former, chances are you want to be big and strong and up your BAMF factor. Guess what: squats and deadlifts are your fast track to awesome.




If you’ve been following along for the past couple weeks, you know that I’ve recently experienced debilitating back pain for the first time in my life.  It’s still bothering me and I’m on a quest to find out what’s wrong.  Here’s what I know I do right:

1. I workout consistently

2. I train my core (crunches not included)

3. I train my posterior (dare I say almost exclusively.) This in includes deadlifts, hip thrusts, squats, pullups, rows ect.

4. I practice mobility and stability drills daily.

5. I pay attention to my posture and position when I’m sitting, standing,  and sleeping. I even make sure I carry my bag on my right side on the way to work, and the left side on the way back!

6. My breathing mechanics are optimal. (diaphragmatic breathing as opposed to chest breathing)

7. I drink lots of water, eat well, sleep well, and practice stress management.

What the heck!

These are all the things I educate my clients about on a daily basis. So what’s wrong with me? I thought: I must have some structural or muscular imbalance that lifting has exacerbated. So, off to Perfect Postures I went. PP is a facility run by Aaron Brooks in Newton, Ma. They do great work with postural assessments and corrective exercise.

Sure enough, I had a pretty significant left hip elevation. So for the past 6-8 weeks I’ve been doing my corrective exercises diligently, staying away from lifting, and maintaining all my health points.

So here we are, 8 weeks out, and my back is still sensitive.

And I can’t deal with not training any more. So today, I checked my ego, and did a very basic rehab-ish training session:

Warm up included corrective exercises and mobility and stability work

1a) Side lying clams 3×10/side

1b) Lateral band walks 3×10/direction

1c) Shoulders elevated BW hip thrusts 3×10

2a) Hands elevated push ups 3×8

2b) Plank 3x30s

2c) Side plank 3x10s/side

2d) Pallof Press 3×8/side (with 15lbs)

Yes, I know. It looks similar to 85 year old’s program. But what can I say? Sometimes you have to break yourself down to build yourself up.

Work it G-pa

So what’s my next plan of action?

After talking to my colleague and coworker Steve Bergeron, we’ve decided that it probably isn’t a postural issue, a movement pattern issue, a mobility issue or stability issue and that I should probably see a doctor. Although I’m not a huge fan of doctors, I think that has to be my next step to make sure my spine is okay. I’m also going to continue with my correctives and my mild strength training routine.

Well- I’m off to do some research. If you guys have any suggestions on a good ortho/back specialist/chiro please let me know!

Thanks for reading,