A lack of proper technique can very easily be a limiting factor for a lack of strength gains.
It’s not uncommon for my clients see an immediate improvement in rep quality, or a capacity to handle bigger weights, the moment their technique tightens up.
Better technique results in faster strength, which means more muscle can be built and more fat can be lost.
There’s a very popular saying that you ‘can’t fire a cannon from a canoe’ i.e. the body is unstable, then you’re not going to be moving big weights any time soon.
Understanding this, and aiming to create as much stability as possible when you lift should lead to a rapid improvement in your lifting.
In order to move a weight, you need to apply force to it.
In the main main barbell lifts, that force will originate from the ground, then travel along the kinetic chain, before finally being applied to the bar.
The successful transfer of force along the kinetic chain is dependent on muscular tension, so the more tension you can create, the less energy is wasted and the more force can be transferred, resulting in a stronger lift.
For example, when setting up in the squat and deadlift, the more tension that can be created in the core, the more weight you can lift, which is why a lifting belt helps you to lift more.
Below are 4 of the main barbell lifts, each with several cues to help maximise tension and stability, which will instantly boost your strength, resulting in faster muscle gains and fat loss.
With the bench press, it’s absolutely crucial that the body remains as still as possible on the bench – any relaxation, even in the lower body, will limit the amount of weight that the upper body can press:
- Have feet pulled back slightly and plant them firmly on the floor
- At the start of each lift, drive your feet into the floor in order to contract the lower body musculature and create more tension
- This will aid force transfer from the ground to the upper body
- When you take hold of the bar, think about trying to bend it in half – this will increase tension in the shoulder stabilisers and give you a much more stable platform to bench press from
Check out the following video and notice how, when all the above is put into action, the body is kept very still on the bench and no energy is wasted:
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International Bench Press Day . Want a stronger bench? . Tip 1️⃣ – Nail technique and learn how to get as tight as possible under the bar . Tip 2️⃣ – DON’T always train with maximal loads – you need volume. Plenty of work in the 70-80% range is a good idea . . . #benchpress #chestday #mondaymotivation #liftingtip #wdtraining #looklikeyoulift #strengthtraining #musclegain #summergoals #strengthjourney #guyswholift #gym #training #swoleisthegoal #physiquegoals #workout #mondaytraining #technique #coaching #fitness #leangains
In the squat, the upper body remains completely still whilst the lower body does all the work. Therefore, the upper body needs maximum stability in order for force to be effectively transferred from the ground to the bar:
- It may seem counterintuitive, but pull the bar down into the upper body in order to contract the upper back musculature
- With the toes pointing out slightly, think about pushing the hips out sideways in order to keep the knees aligned with the toes – the more tension and stability you can create in the hips, the less energy is wasted and the more explosive you’ll be coming out of the bottom of the squat
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💥Squat Technique Checklist 💥 ================== 💪🏽Keep yourself strong and pain-free with proper squat technique ================== . 🔥Toes out (‘5 to 1’ position) . 🔥Screw feet into floor’ so that when the knees bend, they point outwards directly over the toes . 🔥Take in a deep breath whilst simultaneously pushing the stomach out (like you’re trying to fill your belly full of air) . 🔥Pull the bar down into your back so that you tense your upper back muscles . 🔥Whilst keeping the bar directly over the middle of your foot, squat down – really think about pushing your knees out and opening the hips . 🔥Squat down with a controlled speed until the hips come just below the knees . 🔥Quickly reverse the movement and thinking about driving your backside in a straight line up towards the ceiling . 🔥As you stand up, aggressively exhale so that your abs contract as hard as possible . 🔥Reset and go again . . . . . #squat #legday #lowerbody #lifting #glutes #strengthtraining #gainz #liftingtechnique #looklikeyoulift #muscle #strong #wdtraining #trainingtips #strongfam #instastrong #strengthjourney #strongbody #legsfordays #lifttheweight #squats #coaching #Monday #weighttraining #fitfam #strengthgainz
Like the squat, only the lower body should move during the deadlift:
- Take the slack out of the bar but pulling the bar up against the plates and use this resistance to create some upper body tension
- Pull the shoulders down so that the lats contract and the upper body becomes locked in and fixed
- Drive your feet down into the ground and think about ‘pushing the floor away’
When the bar is removed from the rack, the entire body needs to be stiff so that you can press the bar from a very stable platform:
- As well as bracing the core as hard as possible, also clench your glutes in order to provide maximum stability for the lower back
- Once the bar has travelled past your forehead, push your body underneath the bar
- As well as putting you into a more mechanically advantageous position, it will also force you to maintain full body tension as it would be impossible to do this in a relaxed state
- Once again, the more full body tension you can create, the more efficient the force transfer from the ground to the bar will be
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Outside of the Olympic lifts, the (strict) standing overhead barbell press is arguably the most technically complex lift in the gym . Ok, anyone can press a barbell overhead, but if you want to lift the most amount of weight possible, then your technique needs to be on point . Firstly, you need to be set up properly, so the lower back, wrists, forearms, elbows and shoulders all need to be in the right place . Secondly, you need to coordinate moving the body around the bar so you can keep the bar path as vertical as possible and don’t chin yourself/drop the bar on your head . Just one thing slightly out of place and you can very easily miss the rep and some amazing shoulder gains . If you want to maximise upper body strength, but can’t do the lift properly, then take the time to learn – it’s a very valuable tool to have in your training toolbox 💪🏽 . #shoulders #barbell #training #gym #guyswholift #strengthgoals #weekendthoughts #liftingtips #strengthgains
Give these simple, but very powerful, cues a go in the gym and watch your strength soar and your body transform.
Let me know how you get on!
Feel like you want some help in-person to tighten up your lifting technique? Click the following link and book yourself onto a Lifting Consultation: