Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5 Easy-to-learn, Big-bang-for-the-buck Moves

I’m a huge proponent of the basic barbell lifts: squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, and bent-over row. The trouble is, the barbell lifts are highly technical. As such, unless you’re planning on competing in a powerlifting meet in the near future, there’s really no reason to insist on their use. In fact, there are plenty of exercises out there that work the same movements and muscles without the steep learning curve.

Below are my five favorite easy-to-learn, big-bang-for-the-buck moves.

1. Hex bar squat (in place of barbell squat)

Why: The barbell squat is, on average, probably the most poorly executed lift known to man. Due to the inherent shoulder mobility requirements, just assuming the bar-on-the-back position can be painfully challenging for many folks. Then there’s the issue of ego and depth, in which guys tend to load way too many plates on the bar and squat way too shallowly. The hex bar squat, on the other hand, allows for a more comfortable neutral grip (with the bar held at the sides of the body) and also standardizes depth. Best of all, with just a subtle change in execution, it can easily be made into a hip-dominant, deadift style lift (see #2 below).

Execution: Keeping the torso erect, squat to the bar, grab the handles, drive from the heels, and stand up.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

How Top Fitness Pro's Coach Leg Position on Pull-ups

When it comes to leg position on pull-ups and chin-ups, we have a boatload of options, including knees bent, legs straight, and hips piked. With so many positions to choose from (if you know what I mean!), I've long pondered the merits of each.

Wait a second, you may be thinking. Aren’t pull-ups a back exercise? Why’s this guy wasting his time worrying about what the legs are doing? Is it because he’s missing one and that’s causing him to overcompensate?