Tag: barbell

4th of July Workout

For this 4th of July, we want to infuse your training with some explosiveness and intensity. Don’t be fooled by the deceptively simple movements, like our founding principles they are simple but powerful. And America wasn’t built alone, so grab a friend and challenge each other to perform at the very best of your abilities.

Warm-up 5 min on some cardio equipment; then perform 4 rounds of each exercise for 10 reps of the following:

A.) Lunge Jumps

B.) Barbell Push Press

C.) Squat Jumps

D.) Resistance Band Standing Explosive Chest Press

Rest 1 minute between rounds.

Move with purpose between exercises. If done correctly, you don’t want to do a round five. You may even be seeing fireworks. If you have any questions, please ask any of our fitness professionals.

Squat Problems: Depth

The squat is a lift that I firmly believe everyone should do. For me it is the king of lifts. Not only does it build enormous physical strength but it is a true test of mental toughness. Something changes in a person when they fight with everything they have to stand up with a bar across their back despite the oppressive and lung-crushing weight. I’ve seen this change in every client or athlete I work with. After a set of eye-bulging squats nothing else seems so bad, you feel like you can take on anything.


Squats will give you strength, speed, quickness and power. They increase bone density and mobility.  Squats don’t care who you are or how your day was, just un-rack the bar, sit down and stand up.


There are many different variations of the squat therefore just about everybody can do them. Despite the many variations there is a mistake that I see over and over again:


Not squatting to proper depth.

This is by far the most common mistake I see in the squat. I see numerous people everyday loading up the squat bar with the best of intentions only to perform something I wouldn’t even classify as a squat. For a squat to be a squat, you must sit down until the tops of your thighs are AT LEAST parallel to the floor. In powerlifting this is judged by the crease of your hips dropping below the level of your knee.


I can hear it now; “But Tom, going deep on squats is bad for your knees!” No it’s not, stop it. By reaching full depth you are allowing your quads and hamstrings to work equally and balance the force acting on the anterior and posterior sides of your knees, therefore making it much healthier than a partial squat. During a partial squat the majority of the force comes from the quads extending the knee through the patella tendon. This combined with the fact that you can use more weight on a partial squat means more force is acting through your patella tendon and therefore results in the familiar anterior knee pain associated with squatting.


So why do people perform partial squats? I’ve found that the majority of partial squats are ego driven. Everyone wants to look cool in the weight room, and the best way to look cool is to lift a lot of weight, right? So in the quest of cool a person will prematurely add weight to the squat bar each workout and turn into Joe Half-Squat, or even worse, Joe Quarter-Squat. Partial squats build the ego not the legs. Despite moving more weight, if you are not going through a full range of motion you are not building the same strength (physical and mental) as you would with a full squat.


The Fix:


  1. Lower the weight! Every client I have starts with bodyweight squats and once they can consistently hit full depth we add the empty barbell. Then we slowly increase the weight on the barbell, ensuring depth on each rep as the weight increases. This requires you to check your ego at the door, but given some time your full squat will soon equal and surpass your previous partial squat.
  2. Check your stance. Your feet should be about shoulder width apart or wider if necessary. Your toes are then angled out between 10 and 45 degrees (this will vary person to person). Find a foot angle that is comfortable and allows your femurs to get out of the way of your hip bones when reaching full depth.
  3. Work on hip mobility. I have numerous hip mobility drills I like to use but two staples are static squat holds (sit in a full squat then push on the inside of your knees with your elbows, hold for 10 seconds, release and repeat) and step-through on the smith machine or hurdles (place the smith machine bar or hurdle at about mid-torso height, squat down, step through to the other side of the bar and stand up).
  4. Improve ankle mobility.  A simple drill to improve ankle mobility is to stand in front of a wall with your toes a few inches from the base. Keeping your heel on the ground, push your knee forward until it touches the wall. Hold for 10-20 seconds then back your foot up a bit and repeat. Keep moving your foot back until you can no longer reach the wall with your heel on the floor.


I am always happy to help people improve their squat so do not hesitate to ask. In the meantime, go forth and SQUAT!


Why Lift Heavy Weights?!

Say what…put on weight? That’s rarely the goal. Well I’m here to tell you perhaps it should be more of a goal than you think. I mean, let’s lift some heavy weights! Add an extra 5lbs to the bar, go up 10lbs in your dumbbells, push yourself and let’s move something heavy!

Why? Why not! Lifting heavy (I don’t mean that if you are shoulder pressing 8lbs right now that you should try and press 45lbs the next go around), or what you would consider “heavy” will really help you gain strength quickly and efficiently. Usually when I tell people to move heavy weight, especially women, the first thing I hear is, “But I don’t want to bulk up.” Oh my Lord, if ever there was a misconception! The “bulking” that most people think of when lifting weight comes from many hours in the gym, a high protein diet, heavy heavy weights, and some good genes! To become The Hulk you would really have to put in serious amounts of time and effort. This will not be happening to your average gym goer. But still I hear some people say, “When I’ve lifted heavy before I did seem to get bulkier.” This would come from a lack of fat loss, a lack of a decent diet, and a misconception about what is “bulking.” My guess is the 2 times a week you lifted “heavy” did not in fact give you raging thighs, instead it was the other things you were or were not doing outside of your exercise.

So why lift heavy? There are a multitude of reasons why pushing yourself with the amount of weights you lift is a good idea:

  1. Increase lean muscle mass which = a higher metabolism. The more lean muscle mass in your body the more calories your body burns every day. Unlike cardio, lifting weights and stressing your muscles will burn calories for you while you are doing the exercises, for an hour after, and the many hours after that. While cardio may burn 400 calories in the hour you are running your body soon loses that spike in metabolism and ends an hour after you finish. So while the number may look good on the machine, if you had lifted you would have burned nearly (if not in some cases more) that many calories in 45 minutes and will continue to burn more throughout the day. Muscles need fuel and worked muscles need extra fuel to repair and grow.
  2. Increased strength quickly and efficiently. Squatting with the 10lb dumbbells in your hands 20 times might make you feel like you have gotten a lot done in a short amount of time but in fact we’ve done just the opposite. If burning calories, increasing your strength, and spiking your heart rate is your goal you need to cut the high reps and increase your weight. The heavier weight will push your muscles more (gaining strength), push your heart rate higher (to pump more blood to your strained muscles), and give you much more benefits in half the time (think 5-10 reps instead of 15-20). Your calorie burning will shoot much higher and your body will work much harder in half the reps!
  3. Increasing your mental toughness. It’s hard to lift heavy, not just for your muscles but also for your mind. Telling yourself to try something new, pushing yourself to move up in weight, pushing yourself to keep going even though the back of your mind is telling you it’s too heavy, is so much about mental strength. It’s the old saying, “If I can do this I can do anything” kind of mentality. Work your mind and your body and finally be proud and impressed with what you can do!
  4. So helpful in the real world. I don’t know about you but I have yet to find the 5lb bag of bark/cement mix/bricks at Home Depot. If you can lift it in the gym, when you go to tackle that new retaining wall in your back yard it will be no problem! Long gone are the days of waiting for your husband to come home to move the couch/washing machine/lawn mower/etc, your a strong lady, do it yourself!
  5. It’s fun, it’s hard, it’s mental, it’s a huge accomplishment. I realize it’s not everyone’s goal to deadlift one and a half times their body weight but it should be your goal to be strong, efficient, fit and healthy. Lifting heavy is one of the best ways to accomplish all of those things!

The only draw back to lifting heavy? It’s hard to do if you aren’t sure about your form. It’s hard to do if you aren’t sure about how much you should move up in weight. It’s hard to do some of your exercises without a spotter. My advice…grab a trainer, ask some questions, get a session, and/or join a weight lifting class. If you aren’t comfortable on your own get some help or free advice, that’s what we are here for! The best way to start is move up 2.5-5lbs in the exercises you normally do (lat pull down, dumbbell bench press, lunges, etc) and cut your reps. If that seems too easy for a set of 10, go up another 10lbs. The goal should be to use heavy enough weight that by the time you get to 10 reps you shouldn’t be able to do another. If you aren’t stressing yourself you aren’t lifting heavy enough. This is hard work. It will make you wish you were downstairs running endlessly on the treadmill! Eww.

Have questions? Looking for a good way to get started on strength training? Then please contact Personal Fitness Trainer Adriana Brown.