When coaching, sometimes less is more. Using succinct cues as opposed to information overload and potentially confusing language is best. There are times an exercise or movement looks almost perfect, but not quite. Here are 4 quick and easy ways that I have found get people moving a little more perfectly every time.
#1 In the typical dumbbell row position done from standing some people struggle to hinge their hips back properly and either find or maintain a flat back position. However, I have found that rowing from quadruped is a lock for people finding the perfect position. I’ve tried it with many people at this point and it has not failed me once. It quite literally works every time.
#2 For those that aren’t strong at doing a split squats or reverse lunges, or for those that it’s just plain new, using a foam roller in front the lead knee works wonders. Bump into the roller and you did it wrong. Avoid the roller and there’s a high likelihood you did it correctly. Easy money. This is not to save the knee from going forward of the toes necessarily but to help the person move their center of mass to the right place. No roller and it’s a bit of a guessing game. Add the roller in and things quickly fall into place.
#3 Squatting is not easy for everyone. When teaching people to goblet squat, which is primarily what we do at Ambition Athletics, I encourage elbows to touch the inside of the knees. Elbows not touching the body at the bottom or too close to the groin doesn’t work as well as actually touching or pushing out essentially above the shins. How do I know this? Every time I ask someone to change the elbow position the rest falls into place including the knees, hips and back, producing a much better looking squat position. You can also drill this by using a light weight and doing what looks like a bicep curl at the bottom of the squat.
#4 Finally, many people deadlift and swing with the eyes looking forward at all times. I even used to teach this position. However, what I’ve found is that even when a person has pretty damn good technique, without fail, a chin tucked or neutral spine position (“packed neck” credit: Charlie Weingroff) makes the swing and deadlift that much better, as well as safer. Everything down the chain falls right into place and great things happen. In the picture I’m trying to maintain a “double chin” position as opposed to extending my neck and looking out in front of me.
– Mike Baltren