As a trainer, there is a lot of information to convey in a short period of time and in a way that is easily understood by the client. The largest role a trainer plays is as a teacher. Sometimes it can be a challenge to communicate effectively in a concise way using as few words as possible. Each trainer has there own style of communication and usually uses verbal and kinesthetic tools. This said, there are a few cues that trainers use more consistently that will be explained in detail in this blog to provide more clarity.
Shoulders back and down-
This is a cue that most people are familiar with; however, there is a lot of confusion around its interpretation. The action of back and down is a description of the shoulder blades in an action of retraction and depression. One reason this is so widely used as a descriptor among trainers is because the shoulder joint is susceptible to injury when it is unstabilized. These actions of the shoulder blade give the joint a stabilized position to work from when manipulating heavy weight. Another reason this is used is because it counteracts the position of excessive kyphosis (rounding of the thoracic spine) to bring the spine in a neutral alignment.
New research has shown that the lazy posture brought on by sitting too much leads to weakened muscles in the upper back, but without creating this excessive curvature. When the shoulder blades are retracted and depressed this can overcorrect the posture and cause other ailments. If the shoulder blades are in the proper position the shoulder joint should not be anteriorly rotated and the blade should be in the shape of an upside down triangle with the apex pointed slightly out. This allows the proper curvature of the thoracic spine. Your trainer should be able to help explain and show this too you so you can ensure you are putting yourself into the right posture.
Squeeze your glutes-
The gluteal muscles make up a large system of muscle on the back side of the hip joint that stabilize, extend, and protect the hip joint. For adequate stabilization during certain exercises, increased core activation and protection of the knees and lower back squeezing your butt muscles is important.
This cue can be enhancing a posterior pelvic tilt in many people. This is when the pelvis is curled under and usually accompanies a forward shearing motion at the head of the femur. The important thing when squeezing is to maintain a float inside the hip joint, contract without tucking or thrusting forward, and focus more on the internal hip stabilizers and lower part of the glute complex.
Draw in your core-
The core muscle system includes 29 different muscles that perform big and small motions of the hip, sacrum and lumbar spine. Many of the muscles protect the organs and act as a hammock for the pelvis. To contract these muscles in preparation for movement the muscles perform and upward and inward motion; primarily in smooth muscles such as the transverse abdominus. This gives the muscles a contraction that acts as a support structure around the lumbar spine to protect it when heavy weight and when impact is applied.
The problem with this cue is it is often associated with sucking in, or can be misinterpreted to include diaphragmatic musculature. This tension can travel through the body, make your breathing improper, your spine tense, and impede movement.
Although these are common cues trainers use with clients, a deeper understanding of them can give you a better understanding of proper movement and positioning. For further information contact Personal Fitness Trainer Amber Walz.