If you follow me on instagram you will have seen me post a few videos of my excellent clients doing certain lifts and then giving you tips on how to do the lifts like them.
Here, I wanted to put it all together so its easy for you to find.
You will see tips on -
- Low bar squat.
- Bench Press.
- Deadlift - both conventional and sumo.
So, lets get started.
- Low Bar Squat Tips -
The deadlift tip I provided seemed popular so I thought I'd do one on low bar squats.
The difference between a low bar squat and a high bar squat is that the bar sits a few inches lower down your back. But this affects the lever arm of the motion and shifts how much emphasis there is on the quads to the lower back and glutes too.
It is generally stronger than a high bar squat and is quite popular with powerlifters as a result.
How to do it -
- in a rack, put the bar where you would normally place a high bar squat. Then move yourself into a position where you find your "second shelf," this is where the bar will stop. You'll know when you find it.
The position might feel a bit shaky at first and may put more pressure on your elbows, shoulders and wrists.
- grip the bar tightly, this will tense your upper back more and improve your "second shelf."
You can go thumbless grip as it may help with any elbow pain.
- be careful on the unrack as it might be a bit shaky at first.
- place your feet so that your heels are roughly shoulder width and point your toes out at around about a 10-to-2 position.
- on the way down, push the knees out and allow them to go wider than the toes. If they come in a bit on the way up, its okay as long as they don't go inside of the toes. This coming in creates a bit more torque on the upward motion.
- stand up.
- enjoy your new found squat.
-- Bench Press Tips --
Powerlifters look weird when they bench due to the arch set up that they go through.
The idea behind it is that it lowers the range of motion that the bar has to travel in order for you to press it.
The arched position, coupled with a good bar path, also allows for you to use your chest more than just your shoulders. This will save you a lot of rotator cuff issues going forward.
So, how to arch?
- Get your hands set first. You want to anchor the whole movement around your hand set up.
- Next bring your feet up on the bench.
- Bridge yourself so that your weight is onto your shoulders by bringing your pelvis as high as you can.
- While maintaining that pelvis height, walk the feet up the bench until you cant anymore.
- Bring one foot down, while keeping the hips high.
- Bring the other foot down.
- Now bring the hips down slowly, if you drop them you'll lose all tightness.
- Unrack the bar
* some people prefer to unrack before bringing their hips down - play around with this.
- it's uncomfortable. Get used to that idea.
- it gets easier with practice.
- ignore the gym bro who tells you arching is bad. They don't understand anatomy.
- (Conventional) Deadlift Tips -
The thing with the deadlift is that if something goes wrong with it, it nearly always comes from the start of the lift.
And I know some of you will read this and go "well, Danny, its actually my lockout that I struggle on so hah," but the fact is if you set up tighter, and in a better position than I can almost guarantee that your lockout will improve.
A few tips.
- stand so that the bar is about the same distance from your shins as your bottom shoe lace. It doesn't need to maul your poor shins.
- get nice and tight while you're stood upright. It's much harder to tighten up when you're down at the bar, particularly if your mobility isn't great.
- load the hips first, while keeping the back tight.
- push your knees forward so that the shins touch the bar. (No, they're still not getting mauled, they move out of the way pretty quickly).
- reach down to the bar, keeping tight.
- stand up.
This is a solid deadlift set up and it provides the basis of any conventional deadlift I show clients.
So, there you go. The secret to my coaching success for all to see.
- Sumo Deadlift Tips -
This one only lost narrowly to low bar squats on the story poll recently so I figured I'd do both.
Now, the sumo isn't just a wide stance conventional as you see many people lifting it as. It engages the quads and glutes a little bit more directly than the posterior chained conventional deadlift does.
- stand at the bar with your feet as far apart as they need to be for your shins to be vertical. With your toes pointed out a little (about 10-2 again).
- your shins will be against the bar from the start here.
- keep your back tight in a similar way to conventional the other day.
- squat down to the bar, maintaining an upright position and grab the bar with your hands straight down from your shoulders.
- ensure you're back is tight and taut by taking the slack out of the bar (the cue - "make your arms long" works here).
- push into the floor with your heels as the bar slowly comes off of the floor.
- as the bar passes your knees lock them out.
- the bar will quickly speed up to the lockout position.
Extra things to think of -
Sumo is much, much slower off of the floor than conventional. Be patient and don't rush it so you curve your back or just hip hinge it up.
Grip wise hook grip might work better to keep your thumbs from scratching up your leg.
So, there you have it - tips to help you get started in the standard powerlifting lifts.
As always, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or anything you'd like to chat about.