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Back Squat Set Up : Adding Stability, Strength, & Depth

I HOPE MY LEGS DONT GIVE OUT!
The first thing that comes into most of our minds when attempting to squatting heavy weight.
But should it be?
More squats have been lost when coming out of the rack, from small little details, that have nothing to do with the legs than anything else.
The resolve…fixing your set up.
Think of building a house, you start with a nice solid foundation.  But if you build the house with no actual support structure what will happen?
It’s simply going to collapse…just like a squat will.
We focus so much on what’s going on with the lower body, we forget to dial in the set up of the upper body.
It’s seems almost like a “Duh” moment, but if you watch most people squat they forget these small little details.
These are absolutes of squatting that have to be done, without question.
 
  • Pulling the bar down onto our back
  • Locking our shoulder blades back and down
  • Maintain a healthy and stable core
  • Natural Spine
How many are you checking off? 1 or 2?
Little things, like making sure to un-racking the weight using both legs to drive the weight out of the rack.
Pulling the weight into our shoulder blades locking them into place, deep breath through the belly, and bracing like someone is about to punch you in the stomach.
 
All these little details will set you up for success with your squats.
Allowing you to maximize your squat stability, strength, and overall depth.
 

 

When Is The Next Strength Cycle?

When’s the next strength cycle?

Everyone has been asking for weeks, what will it consist of, what should we expect.

Its fast approaching, the next strength cycle will start 7/29/19.

The program will focus on Power Cleans, Back Squat, and Strict press.

Movements are great not only for building overall strength, but also for increasing explosive power and athletic potential.

The back squat is one of the most functional movements out there, and one of the basis of building pure strength.

The power clean is a difficult movement to initially learn, but the benefits of the movement far outweigh the frustrations of the initial learning process.

The power clean is outstanding for building explosive power and improving full body coordination.  Improving in both areas will help us to preform better in the gym, on the mat, and in everyday life.

Now in order to make this strength cycle as effective as possible we are going to take the next week as a “prep” time.

We will take an entire class for each movement to go over how to properly preform the movement, you can think of it as a seminar over the back squat and power clean.

This will ONLY be avialble to member of Derby City!

During these mini seminars you will learn and practice the basics of the movements under the watchful eyes of our coaching staff.

Whether you have been preforming squats and power cleans for years or if you have never tried either of these movements before, these classes will be extremely beneficial.

At the conclusion of the cycle, we will all establish new max effort lifts for both movements.

We have had a ton of success in the past with our strength cycles and we cannot wait to see the improvements you all have in the gym and on the mats after this upcoming cycle.

If you have any questions please see myself, Hussey, or any of our coaches and they will be more than happy to help you in any way.

– Joe

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Belt Squat Variations

Nothing should come more natural to us than squatting.

It’s a very natural motion we do countless times every day.

Anytime I mention squats, I like to remind athletes, there is not one way to squat.  There are countless ways to squat.

Our own ability to perform a squat, availability to equipment, all can be limiting factors in which we need a variation.

For some, just setting weight onto the back of the shoulders can cause anxiety and mental pressure can build before the lift takes place.

You could be experiencing some form lower back pain or shoulder issues which now causes you to lack the ability to do a loaded barbell squat.

For those who experience these fears and limitations, I always like to recommend a belt squat.

Belt squats are a little different, its going to be a different feel, but it will work.

Not every gym has a belt squat machine, so like any good lifter we adapt with variations.

When you load a barbell and step under a back squat, we load the weight onto our shoulders putting our torso under tension.

The belt squat provides us with a variation to increase leg and hip strength without loading or damaging your back. 

The weight pulling at the hip can also provide traction for the spine.

The greatest benefit for the belt squat is it will allow you to load the lower body without loading the spine. 

I will also use these as a primer before squats on some days, just to get everything tight before the barbell.


 

How to Improve Ankle Mobility

On a previous video of mine, I received a question from Nicholas regarding soreness in his calves after he tries to rolling them. This is a common problem with many new lifters and those lifters who do not perform mobility or recovery exercised on their calves.

Using any combination of these three stretches will help you to improve your overall calf mobility and will help to reduce pain and tightness you may be feeling.

Stretch #1 – Standing Calf Stretch

For this stretch you will want to find a wall, pole, rig, etc. that you can use to support yourself. The stretch starts by facing the support and placing your heel as close to it as possible. Keeping the knee straight and leaning forward, hold this stretch for the desired length of time. You should feel this through your entire calf.

Stretch #2 – Achilles Stretch

This is similar to the Standing Calf Stretch except now we will be squatting down a little more and pushing the knee forward. You should feel this in your Achilles tendon.

Stretch #3 – Modified Goblet Squat

Start by getting to the bottom of your squat and holding. In this position, slowly shift your weight from side to side. You can use your elbow to help press your knee out to achieve a deeper stretch. This movement is great for when you are on the go and don’t have access to a support structure for the previous two movements.


 

This Is How I Got Big Quads

For me, my gym is more than athletes and members.

I spend more time with these people, than I do anyone else.

Building relationships and memories, as cliché as it sounds, through blood sweat and tears.

Every athlete I train, I can identify their physical identifying trait. 

I would bet if you ask anyone what mine is, it would have to be my smile…..

Yea right!

Legs, Quads, Turkey Drums, call them what you will, my physical identifier is by far my quads.

Any sport I’ve participated in, they’ve always got noticed.  I’d have to call myself a liar if I said I didn’t take advantage to show them off…..I worked hard for them.

But what did I do?  The answer may surprise you…

To me they’re just legs.  They help me move weight from point A to B.  But to some of my athletes at the gym, they’re abnormal quads.

Due to the abnormality, I’m often ask what should they do to get their quads larger.

Short answer…..everyone is going to be different, I sure was.

This video was requested on how I grew my quads, I always took it as a joke when people ask me…

It was never something I’ve really considered anyone would be interested in.


 

Overhead Press : 1 Easy Tip To Push More Weight

I could not believe the difference in the videos!

This video just started out as a simple and effective drill I like to use, I wanted to share with my gym members to also improve their overhead position.

Then during the editing process I needed to go back and pull some of my old lifts to compare for contrast.

The differences was simply astonishing!

Now, there have been many hours of practice, drilling, and maybe a few kicks and screams going into the process.

As you can tell the end result is very visible.

It’s a simple drill, we’re just strict pressing (or military pressing) from the receiving position of our jerk.

I had a terrible problem of not maintaining midline stabilization during my earlier lifts in which allowed my chest to travel forward, pushing the barbell out in front of me and having to finish the lift pulling the barbell back overhead.

It happen in almost every lift I did.

Once I started implementing this drill, it drasticly improved and fixed my overhead position. Since the drill is not happening at lightning speed, it allows you to visibly see any imbalances occurring in the lift.

I do this drill every day before moving weight overhead!


 

2019 New Years Resolutions : How 2018 Set Me Up For Success

It’s already time for the “New Year, New Me”.

It honestly feels like 2018 lasted all of five minutes… While I could write a book on my own mistakes from this year, failed resolutions, I find myself also wanting to hit the reset button. “I’ll start Monday” button as I like to also call it.

New Years, is more about reflection, and adjustment than “new you” As I look back on 2018, I realize I finally started to become the individual I always wanted to be.

A better Husband to my Wife, Father to my Daughter, and Friend to all those around me. I’ve grown more as a person this year than any.

I began to open up, talk about my past, have the realization that we all have a story to be told. That story helps define who we are and the choices we make.

So looking ahead, my adjustment for 2019 is to service those around me better. Every day I wake up to be a better version of myself than I was the day before.

I’ll not focus on what I shouldn’t do, but fine tune all the things I should do. I wish you all the same!

From myself and the DCMMA staff, Happy New Years.


 

Hand Placment : Finding The Perfect Barbell Grip

In the beginning, we think its as simple as gripping the barbell and moving the weight.
Or at least I did…
It seems like such an innocent question, but its ask so frequently, its dismissed just as fast.
“Where do I grab the bar?”
I never really thought about how many times over the past twenty years I’ve been ask that question.
I honestly can’t think of any new athlete or new movement where this question has come up.
Yet I’ve always dismissed it as common core lifting 101.
The answer may surprise you, it’s that simple. Whatever feels natural. 
With the understanding that some lifts have certain parameters that are optimal, there is wiggle room.
For some of your most common movements, a universal grip is not only natural, but efficient and consistent!
Take me for example, I use the same barbell grip and hand placement for my back squat, front squat, clean, jerk, and my overhead press.
I also fine when doing push-ups I continue to have the same hand placement on the ground as when I grip a barbell.

Do you find yourself constantly moving your hands for your weightlifting?  It may help improve your lifts!


 

Belt Squat: The Back Squat Substitute

There is no movement in the weight room more natural to humans than squatting.

For some setting weight onto the back of the shoulders can cause anxiety, failing the lift before its even started.

For others, there could be some lower back or shoulder issues not allowing you to squat.

Belt squats are a little different, its going to be a different feel, but it will work. Not every gym has a belt squat machine, so like any good lifter we adapt with variations.

The belt squat provides us with a variation to increase leg and hip strength without loading or damaging your back.

The weight pulling at the hip can also provide traction for the spine.

I get a hip pinch form time to time, and when I do I switch from barbell squats to belt squats, which help clear up the issue.

The greatest benefit for the belt squat is it will allow you to load the lower body without loading the spine.

I will also use these as a primer before squats on some days, just to get everything tight before the barbell.