Are We Doing Lunges Wrong? Hint: Maybe
As some of you know I had the luxury of spending the past few days attending Phase II of the Elite Baseball Mentorship hosted at my stomping grounds, Cressey Performance, listening to Eric Cressey, Eric Schoenberg, and Matt Blake discuss, well, training baseball players.
And while training baseball players is our Soup de Jour at Cressey Performance, what many fail to realize is that we train a wide variety of athletes (softball, basketball, football, hockey, boxing, and at one point we even trained a fencer!) as well as general population clients at the facility.
While the crux of the information covered over the weekend pertained to baseball players and the intricacies involved with managing their care and programming, a fair percentage of it spilled over into the meathead/general population crowd as well.
As is the case every time I attend a seminar or workshop there’s always a nugget or two of information that blows me away and makes me wonder “why am I such a moron?”
One such instance involved a comment that Eric Schoenberg made regarding lunges and how we (as an industry) coach them. In a nutshell he questioned the audience (us) as to why we don’t include more of a hip hinge pattern when we introduce it and coach the lunge?
Ask any strength coach how he or she generally “patterns” the squat, deadlift, kettblebell swing, or any number of other foundational movements, and almost always they’ll say everything revolves around the hip hinge.
Why, then, when we coach the lunge, as Eric noted, do we gravitate towards more of an upright torso (which in turn results in more of a “gross” extension based pattern)?
“Huh,” I thought. “That’s interesting.”
But to be more specific, for visual reference, the video below best depicts my reaction the second Eric made this point.
To give more of a play-by-play description: I’m Triple H, and Eric’s comment is John Cena straight-up power slapping me in the grill.
It……was……awesome. And helped to turn on a light bulb in my head.
And, the whole shebang makes perfect sense when you think about it.
Coaching the lunge with an upright torso isn’t inherently wrong; it just might not be the most ideal way to go about things for some people.
Especially with regards to baseball players and more of the meathead/athletic crowd (who live more of their lives in “gross” extension anyways).
Think about it: those in extension tend to have excessive anterior pelvic tilt, which in turn leads to more femoral internal rotation, which in turn leads to more tibial internal rotation, which then, as we all know, is the real cause of global warming.
But in all seriousness, someone may exhibit faulty hip mechanics, we then coach them to perform a lunge pattern in a way that feeds into said faulty hip mechanics, and then we bark at said athlete or client when his or her’s knee caves in when they lunge.
What’s more, coaching the lunge with a more upright posture only feeds into the extension pattern which doesn’t do their lumbar spine (and more specifically their facet joints) any favors.
And, to add insult to injury, if someone is purposely programmed to think that staying upright is ideal (which isn’t always the case for some), the DBs are going to serve as a counterbalance to keep them in extension.
Instead, what’s wrong with cueing more of a hip hinge and slight forward lean to save their back and to help offset a poor pattern?
One simple cue would be: don’t think of shoulders over the hips, but rather shoulders over the knees.
This is something that completely flew over my head up until this past weekend, and is something I plan to fix sooner rather than later.
Sadly, I can’t fix the epic fail of having Taylor Swift playing in the background in the above videos.