Random Training Thoughts (Yes, I Stole This Blog Title from Mike Robertson)

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Normally I save these type of posts for Miscellaneous Miscellany Mondays, but I’ve got a few things rocking around in my brain at the moment that I needed to just throw out there.

Deadlifts are King

Everyone knows that I have an affinity for two things:  Alicia Keys and deadlifts.  But that goes without saying.

The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that deadlifts truly are the most versatile exercise in existence.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: what makes the deadlift so unique is the fact that you can fit (or tweak) the movement to the lifter and not vice versa.  Meaning, if someone walks into my facility on day one and has the hip mobility of a crow bar (read:  they’re tight), I’m certainly not going to have him or her attempt to pull straight from the floor.  That’s just a disaster waiting to happen.

Instead, I may opt to use an elevated trap bar setting; or maybe even have them perform rack pulls. Who knows?  Either way, they’re STILL receiving all the benefits of deadlifting – engraining the proper hip hinge pattern, strengthening the posterior chain, increasing core stability, etc – without all the drawbacks that would otherwise arise if had them pull directly from the floor.

Of course, as they become more proficient, we can start to experiment with other variations – but ONLY after they have proven they’re capable of doing so!  It may take one session, one week, or one month, it’s hard to tell.  But as I noted previously, having the ability to progress AND regress our clients is a skill that’s often overlooked.

So, in short, I don’t have to “mold” the lifter to the exercise. Rather, I can “mold” the exercise to the lifter depending on their postural deficits, current mobility restrictions, injury history, so on and so forth.   And, while we can say the same for just about any exercise, I feel the deadlift is easily the most adaptable of the bunch.

Programming Logic

And, speaking of deadlifts – here’s a quick programming tip.  Whether you’re following a 3x-per-week, full body split, or a 4x-per-week, upper/lower split, on the days you deadlift, make sure your single leg movement for that day is more quad-dominant in nature.

As an example, if your main movement for that day is SUMO deadlifts (more hip dominant in nature), a good single leg movement to implement would be something like a dumbbell split squat, or maybe some Bulgarian split squats – both of which are more quad-dominant.

Conversely, on the days that you squat (which are more quad dominant, excluding box squats, obviously), it would be a good idea to include single leg work that’s more hip (hamstring/glute) dominant – like dumbbell (or barbell) reverse lunges, or 1-legged RDLs.

This isn’t something that’s necessarily set in stone, but one “rule” that I have found works pretty well when discussing program design with younger or less experienced trainers and coaches.

Really?  No, Seriously, Really?

I’m definitely going to expound on this in more of a rant style post sometime next week, but suffice it to say I saw an article on Yahoo’s homepage the other day titled “Top FOUR Exercises to Tone Up Your Arms,” written by some celebrity trainer (not who you think) who used all the cute, warm, and fuzzy buzz words you would expect to see in such an article.  The same words used time and time again that play into women’s fears of lifting “real” weight.

Words like tone, sleek, shape, and anything similar that is just as likely to make me want to set my face on fire.

What’s more, the exercises shown – shadow punches, tricep extension, rear delt flies, and bicep curls – all done for 15-20 reps no less, are about as likely to get your arms “toned” as brushing your hair.

It’s bullshit when you think about it.  Oh man, I’m getting fired up just thinking about it.

1-Arm Farmer Carries

Are definitely growing on my list of exercise that everyone needs to be doing.  Think about it:

  • You have to brace the contralateral side as not to tip over – great for overall core stability.
  • Depending on which side you’re holding the DB, kettlebell, barbell, whatever, there’s a pretty significant hip external rotation component as well.  So, if you’re holding a DB in your right hand, the right posterior hip musculature must fire in order to prevent internal rotation, which in turn stabilizes the hip.
  • They’re fantastic for improving grip strength, as well as overall conditioning
  • And, this goes without saying, they’re just badass

On that note, for those who celebrate it, have an awesome Easter weekend.  For those that don’t, you can still eat lots of dead animal flesh for the hell of it.

Oh, By the Way

Mark Young’s How to Read Fitness Research is still on sale until MIDNIGHT tonight (4/22) for the low price of $37.  After that, it jumps up to $77, so make sure to take advantage of the discount while you can.  As an added aside, Mark has informed me that there’s NO RISK.  You can try the product for eight weeks and if you don’t like it, you can get every penny back with no questions asked.



Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

Comments for This Entry

  • Michael Gray

    Deadlifts-I love them so hard! By the way, I saw that Tracy Anderson's protege Gweneth Paltrow is on the cover of SELF magazine with the caption "Get Abs Like Gweneth". I think they call those Auschwitz abs.

    April 22, 2011 at 8:31 am | Reply to this comment

  • Nick

    Hey Tony I saw your row video the other day and I thought you might like these exercises too :) http://www.youtube.com/user/syoung019#p/u/12/m2C419CbMoo http://www.youtube.com/user/syoung019#p/u/5/CwdecO9ruWQ http://www.youtube.com/user/syoung019#p/u/7/ISyWiOj5sKI

    April 22, 2011 at 9:18 am | Reply to this comment

  • daniel

    one arm fitness carries are the shiznit. I have also started using these with virtually everyone in the last couple of months. Great as a srength exercise and I love it because it can also double as a great finisher to a training session.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:29 am | Reply to this comment

  • Greg R

    Gray Cook had an article / philosophy that I really agree with: "Maintain the squat, TRAIN the deadlift"

    April 22, 2011 at 12:23 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Juliet

    I have been struggling for weeks to find out what "toning" (or the other words you listed for that matter) means and I don't think anyone has been able to give me a satisfactory response. Is it building arm muscle? Is it leaning out your arms? Because, you know, you can pick and choose where you store fat.

    April 22, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Tavis Bruce

    @Juliet: I think Webster's defines toning as the following... "Toning" (toh-ning): (1) the process of sacrificing a real training effect in the futile pursuit of "long, lean" limbs, typically resulting in a much desired skinny-fat physique; (2) A term frequently used by celebrity fitness professionals who don't know two shits about physiology. ...True story.

    April 22, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kellie

    Excellent post. Brushing your hair! Ha, maybe that's my problem. Too much lifting, not enough hair brushing. I had a guy ask me the other day how to progress with deadlifts. Apparently once he got up to 250 his back arched. Then he proceeded to tell me that he has plates in his hips. Now I'm no expert but I think if you have plates in your hips you shouldn't be shaking the Magic 8 Ball in the gym for advice. I think if I see him again I will refer him to this post.

    April 22, 2011 at 9:23 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Juliet

    @Travis: HAHAHAHAHA OH!!! So THAT'S what toning is! That was great. Thank you.

    April 23, 2011 at 5:10 am | Reply to this comment

  • Tony Gentilcore

    @ Kellie: Well, in his circumstance, I'd probably be more inclined to work on the basic hip hinge pattern with a dowel rod or something. Adding a plate into the mix definitely throws a monkey wrench into things. But, if he's already deadlifting with 250 + lbs with a straight bar, with no pain, it stands to reason that using a trap bar or something elevated may be in his best interests for the time being. But, it's hard to say for sure over the interwebz

    April 23, 2011 at 6:16 am | Reply to this comment

  • Jaden

    Tony, Love your innovative witty blog posts. Quick question, wouldnt you consider a bulgarian split squat to be a hip dominate exercise. Assuming you are using correct technique and maintaining a vertical shin, the stress of the movement would be at the hip predominately the hamstring/gluteal areas, no?

    April 25, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Kellie Davis

    Thanks for the insight, Tony. I am not a certified trainer, so I fear to ever advise. He needs you. That's all. :)

    April 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Reply to this comment

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