Low back pain (LBP) is a widespread phenomena that is estimated to effect roughly 85% of individuals at some point in their life (1). In fact, globally LBP is the leading cause of disability (2). Considering the prevalence of LBP it’s important to gain a better understanding of the complex mechanisms and potential avenues for successful treatment and prevention. This article is neither diagnostic or a recommendation for treatment protocol. It’s simply here to inform you on the various intricacies of the subject so when you seek out professional help from a qualified physical therapist (which is the course of action I recommend) you are better equipped to be an active participant in your own treatment.
For every change you see in my body, my mind has gone through ten. When I began the journey that I am on in 2015, I was in one of the worst places I ever been. I was 330 pounds, thirteen years old and had just experienced loss for the first time. My first dog had died and I was trying to make sense of the world. I knew things and people died, I had seen things die, I had killed things before, I had never felt the ache of missing that comes with the loss of someone or something near to your heart.
The Arnold Classic 2018 was the best performance of my lifting career. I ended with an 1829lbs (830kg) total in the 105kg division, I was ecstatic. I even ended up winning a big check for $800 for placing first, literally the peak of my powerlifting journey at the time. Fast forward to March 14th, I wake up, half asleep and I see an email that says, “notification of doping failure”.
Part two is going to start laying down a theoretical framework for why anything is effective at all when helping someone come back from an injury. If you are at all involved in the world of training and/or rehabilitation, you are well aware there are a million ways to spend your money on some kind of device or tool. You will also notice there are a million more ways to work on how you move and even more people you can make an appointment with to work you over and tell you all sorts of things about your current situation (only some of which is likely to be true).
I recently saw an exchange on Twitter between two professionals in the rehabilitation world. The original tweet mentioned a patient who had started deadlifting because they had a herniated lumbar disc. The first response was from a different professional questioning this course of action. He said something along the lines of, “Hmmmm, was this when he was symptomatic or asymptomatic?” To put this in more context, the person who posted the original tweet is not the person who started the deadlift program. The original person thought it was great this patient had decided to take action into his own hands instead of falling victim to the system. The second person was questioning whether a person with a herniated disc should be deadlifting. I hope you are not confused, because we are going to dive deep into the rabbit hole.
A contralateral pattern involves an action and/or movement of opposite sides of the body working together. That might seem confusing but its simpler than it seems. An easy way to understand contralateral patterns is to standup and walk 5-10 steps (walking is a contralateral pattern). Now walk another 5-10 steps but move your right arm forward as your right leg moves forward (and your left arm forward as your left leg moves forward). Feels weird doesn’t it? When we walk or run the leg that propels us forward is matched by an opposing swing of your arms (or opposite slight rotation of the thoracic spine).
How specific do you need to be when training for a powerlifting meet? I really want you to stop and think about this question. You may have heard a lot of people who are popular in the world of powerlifting describe how important it is to be as specific as possible when training for the sport. You have to use a straight bar all the time to create the specific stress needed to drive adaptation. Many of the people I hear talk in these kinds of absolutes also complain about their elbow or shoulder or adductor or some other body part hurting going into a meet. What is really paramount in training is the application and management of stress. I am going to argue the specificity of the implement used is not as important as people think.
Listen up–if you have never been in a powerlifting meet but want to, or if you are about to compete in your first–if you have competed, give this top 10 a quick read and see if passing it along can help someone you know.
Staying in the same vein of my last article I’ll be giving you some tips on things you could be doing to make your setup in the squat more efficient.
There is a lack of attention that is paid to how people bring the bar out of the rack. I am no exception to that and I used to be the same way.
My squat form has always been decent, but I’ve never paid a lot of attention to my squat-unrack. Then I came across the quote, “If it starts badly it’s probably going to end worse”. Then it clicked; if my setup is bad my squat is likely going to be bad too (or at least not as strong and efficient as it could be). I knew the importance of breathing, bracing, foot placement etc. during the actual movement, but when it came to unracking the bar, my only thought was to get the bar out of the rack without dying. Hopefully, I can save some of you from making the same mistakes I have.
Grip in the deadlift is an issue that not everyone has a problem with. Something that those who do struggle with grip loss know it to be all too frustrating. Someone once said to me “if you haven’t had a grip problem, you might just not be strong enough to have a grip problem yet”. People who often use straps for much of their training find their grip might become the limiting factor in their competition deadlift over other parts of their body. One of the most disappointing things in powerlifting is locking out a big PR deadlift, especially on the platform, and then dropping it near or at lockout. Knowing your body had all the strength required to lift the weight, but your hands did not. Between this and a growing fear or possibly awareness of the possibility of bicep tears, using a double overhand hook grip is something that’s becoming increasingly popular within the sport. I don’t think hook grip is the only solution to grip problems, or even a solution at all for some people. This article will be a comprehensive guide to learning and working up to using hook grip but will also be riddled with general grip advice that will be applicable to any style and may just make you a better at the deadlift.
Confession time: I’m a preworkout junkie. The adrenaline rush from lifting alone is great, but combine that with a boatload of caffeine and every other stimulant under the sun, and even light training days can feel more exciting. Plus, all that extra energy obviously has a performance-enhancing effect, as well.
A lot of people tend to give me a funky look when they see me doing self unracks, especially, with max weights. Let me start off by saying, if you have a great spotter to lift off for you, then totally do that. But bad handoffs happen fairly often and if you’ve gotten a bad hand off, then you know how hard it is to recover. After having noticed this problem, I had the best experience at 2016 USAPL nationals. I had a spotter named Eric Curry, and his lift off technique was literally the best I had ever seen or experienced. It was so remarkable that I jokingly told myself that I’d never let anyone lift off for me unless it was him. Soon after, I started practicing self-handoffs out of pure curiosity. In addition, I usually lift alone so I thought it would be beneficial to learn. With all that said, here are a few reasons why I think everyone, especially competitive powerlifters, should learn how to effectively and efficiently unrack the bar on their own (whether you decide to get handoffs or not).