Force Absorption & Production Outside the Sagittal Plane

Force Absorption & Production Outside the Sagittal Plane

In athletic development and strength programs, the pursuit of improved force production qualities is heavily biased towards the sagittal plane, this is mostly due to the glute max’s role in hip/ triple extension. However, the muscle action of hip extension is generally looked at in isolation without addressing the hip’s frontal and transverse plane functions of abduction and rotation. When programs focus on those actions, they are generally in isolation, too.

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Chase Strength, Not Numbers

Chase Strength, Not Numbers

There is no magic formula to increase your 1RM, but by adhering to my four proposed steps, there is a real chance of becoming a  better lifter every single training session, even when the number on the bar isn’t increasing. I invite you to approach your training with a different perspective and see what you yield over time. Repeat after me, “chase strength, not numbers”.

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Muscle Action vs. Muscle Function

Muscle Action vs. Muscle Function

Training the glute med with banded crab walks and a myriad of hip abduction moments may be great to improve the ‘mind muscle’ connection or simply drive a hypertrophy outcome. However, if you desire to have hips that can withstand squatting and deadlift intensity without dumping into knee valgus you will at some point have to ditch the mini band and actually learn to control the relative positions of your femur and pelvis in standing postures against heavy external loads (gravity and barbells). The same way you wouldn’t program crunches to improve core stability and bracing for squats and deads.

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Improve Hamstring Strength - GHD Case Study

Improve Hamstring Strength - GHD Case Study

We introduced a banded ‘reach’ instead of the external load to increase the ability to keep the rib cage back and down (retracted) through serratus anterior engagement. This doubles as an easy way to reduce the ability of the lats to extend the spine, as the serratus anterior directly opposes the lats ability to extend the lower back (read a surplus of information on this topic by S+C GOAT - Eric Cressey). We cued an exhale at the top of the movement to draw the ribs down and pelvis up into relative posterior pelvic tilt through oblique recruitment further reinforcing the ability to control the desire to extend the system and take tension off the hamstrings. This culminated in a very tough set of 5 reps with significantly increased hamstring tension.

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Relative Stiffness

Relative Stiffness

When we actively engage serratus anterior in core/ flexion based drills we effectively shut down the involvement of it’s antagonist muscles, of most note in this example the latissimus dorsi. This increased stiffness created by the serratus anterior effectively shuts down the lats ability to extend the lower back and drive the rib cage anteriorly. This is because the serratus anterior’s function is to shift the rib cage BACK and DOWN relative to the scapluae, the direct opposite effect the lat has on the rib cage of FORWARD and UP (extension of the lumbar spine and lower thoracic spine).

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Finding the Right Hip-Position in the Sumo Deadlift – Lower Isn’t Always Better - JP Cauchi

Finding the Right Hip-Position in the Sumo Deadlift – Lower Isn’t Always Better - JP Cauchi

This begs the question, what is the best position to have your hips? The trade-off is quite basic to wrap our heads around. The lower the hips and closer they are to the bar, the better because there is less load through the back. However, the closer they get also reduces our force-generating ability. We need to find a position that gets us the best of both worlds. Usually this position is a lot higher than we want to believe because we’re used to seeing.

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How to Brace Correctly for Squats

How to Brace Correctly for Squats

This is the first step from a Low Threshold Learning Environment to a High Threshold Learning Environment. The lessons learnt and context developed in the 90/90 Hip Lift and the Plank must now be applied to a standing, slightly loaded, multi joint squat movement. The anterior load allows for the same posterior shift of the rib cage as felt with the REACH in the plank. This posterior shift allows for better rib cage and pelvic control in the sagittal plane also known as CORE CONTROL.

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Breathing is NOT Bracing

Breathing is NOT Bracing

For bracing to occur optimally we must stiffen the trunk and spine through muscular activation AFTER we breathe in. If the muscular brace was to be set before breathing in we would significantly reduce the amount of intra abdominal pressure that can be created because the rib cage would be compressed by the muscular activation of the rectus abdominis, obliques and lats. This compression would reduce the expansion of the rib cage and reduce the amount of air drawn in. You can sit there and try this yourself.. crunch down hard on your abdominal wall and take a full breath in, it will be significantly less air than if you sat and inhaled in a relaxed state. Bracing must occur AFTER the breath in.

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Pain, Injury and Load Management - A Case for 'Correctives'

Pain, Injury and Load Management -  A Case for 'Correctives'

For the most part, as soon as tissue tolerance is exceeded an injury will occur. Gradual increase in load exposure over time will strengthen the tissue allowing for a greater tolerance and greater exposure. Exposure to too much load, too quickly and you are back to square one, either in pain or injured. Many factors will influence the tissue tolerance at any one point in time.

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Where You Are Going Wrong with RPE Training

Where You Are Going Wrong with RPE Training

The common misconception when it comes to training solely with RPE is that there is no direction in your training and that RPE allows certain lifters to ‘undershoot’ when they want training to be easy and other lifters to ‘overshoot’ when they want to training to be hard and heavy. This is subjective use of RPE and is the incorrect use of the programming system. Even when programming is fully autoregulated, using RPE in your program still needs to have a specific goal for each and every session. Overarching goals of the program must always be adhered to with the prescription of the variables and the execution by the lifter, regardless if the prescription is RPE based or percentage based.

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Side Lying Archer

Side Lying Archer

When we look upstream on those who present with shoulder impingement presentations we quite often see a reduced function of one, or all, of these proximal joints. This quite often means that taking the arm through full ranges of overhead movements, as required for the Side Lying Windmill, results in pain at the anterior/ superior shoulder so it is not a great tool to use in these situations.

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Anatomical Structure Dictates Anatomical Function

Anatomical Structure Dictates Anatomical Function

The rotator cuff does however have great control of the arthrokinematics (sliding, gliding rocking and rolling of the ‘ball’ on the ‘socket’) of the gleno-humeral joint throughout larger, more global movements patterns of osteokinematics. This is a result of the structure of their insertion points on the humerus:

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What Makes a Joint 'Stable'?

What Makes a Joint 'Stable'?

‘Stability’ is a term thrown around by those in the Strength and Conditioning world without much context, particularly for the athlete that doesn’t have much, if any, anatomical foundation. So today’s blog is to provide the foundational knowledge needed to decipher exactly what ‘stability’ means and what influences joint stability.

To understand ‘Stability’ best we must first define 2 key terms:

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Assessing the Squat

Assessing the Squat

Are the forearms and shins parallel? The wider stance should allow for a deeper, more upright squat. If there is little improvement from assessment 1 you will need further assessments to determine the restriction. We would recommend looking at ankle dorsiflexion and thoracic extension. If there are significant improvements it is more than likely representative of improve core/ hip stability in the wider position and less dorsiflexion requirement.

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Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Low Bar Squats and Radial Nerve Discomfort

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Low Bar Squats and Radial Nerve Discomfort

In the low bar squat pain typically presents at the wrist, medial elbow, anterior shoulder and sometimes lifters complain about losing feeling in their arms throughout longer duration sets and even experience radiating nerve pain down the back of their tricep, elbow and into the forearm and hand. This nerve pain and loss of feeling is what I want to open up a discussion on today.

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Hip Pain While Squatting

Hip Pain While Squatting

Anterior hip pain is pretty common in powerlifters, however, this blog isn’t designed to diagnose what the issue with your or your athletes hip is. I want to talk about our experiences at Strength Culture with people who experience hip pain whilst powerlifting and more specifically, squatting.

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The Pull:Push Ratio is WRONG | Jamie Smith

The Pull:Push Ratio is WRONG | Jamie Smith

A fundamental principle of most strength and conditioning programs is the “pull to push ratio”. This principle dictates that you must balance out your pressing volumes with pulling volumes as to not create muscular imbalances within the body.

In theory, this understanding makes sense. If all you do is bench, dumbbell press and half range push ups with no direct rowing or pulling you are on the fast track to shoulder pain and injury. However, when you break down the osteokinematics...

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