Thursday, March 14, 2013

That's That Shit I Don't Like

The world is full of great exercises, and I truly believe that every exercise has a place in the tool box of a good trainer or coach. With that being said, however, there are some exercises that I just hate. For whatever reason, I haven't had a good experience with them personally so I use them as infrequently as possible with my clients and athletes.

I'm the first to admit that my biases have nothing to do with the efficacy of the exercise (they are all great exercises) and just relate to the fact that I have historically had a tough time performing them and don't like coaching them. I think there are other exercises that are just as effective that I prefer coaching someone through.

Also, I will only be discussing legitimate exercises. I won't be referencing any "exercises" that I don't think have any place in a real program for most people. (Again, every tool has a purpose...some tools are just worse than others.) I also won't be discussing (this time) the obviously stupid shit in a gym like lifting gloves, half-rep benching and curling in the squat rack. Nor shall I mention the things that I have an absolutely irrational hatred for, such as 35 pound plates, people who train in basketball sneakers and when people load metal plates onto a bar with the numbers facing out (SMOOTH SIDE OUT!!! AHHHHHH!!!!)

Split Squats (Front Foot Elevated, too).

I just don't like this exercise. It's always been uncomfortable for me to do, and I've never had good cues to coach someone into doing it the right way. I understand, academically, how it works and what it does. I just have a tough time putting it all together. My buddy Dan and I have pretty similar training/programming styles, but one of our major differences is that he uses this exercise a lot while I almost always defer to reverse lunges from a deficit. Again, this is a matter of personal style and opinion. It's a great exercise, I just choose to avoid it.

Cable Chops and Lifts

These are exercises that have been championed by Mike Boyle for quite some time now; as such they've gained quite a following in the strength and conditioning world and with good reason. They are a great anti-rotational core exercise...except I just don't get it. I hate when clients say this, but I don't feel this exercise. Pallof presses make me acutely aware of my core musculature. Planks and suitcase carries too. I think that there are just too many compensation patterns available when doing this exercises. As often as possible, I substitute half-kneeling Pallof presses for either of these. The coaches at BU use these lifts quite a bit, so I've become more much more adept at coaching them; however, I'm still not a huge fan.

TRX Fallouts

Again, this is a great exercise. However, I don't see any benefit to trying to coach this over an ab-wheel rollout or a bodysaw. I think that the variables are too many with this exercise (the length of the straps, where your feet are placed, the height of the anchor) to make it easily programmable. I also think that for many gen-pop clients, the strain on the shoulders is just a bit too much. I feel much safer programming any other variant of an anti-extension exercise.

TRX Pallof Press

Lastly, we have the TRX Pallof Press. As previously stated, I'm a huge fan of the Pallof Press...just not with a TRX. Again, the variability seems too great to me. Where were your feet last time? How long were the straps? Was the TRX anchored at the same spot? I like for exercises to be easily reproduced and that's one of my knocks against this. Another is that I just don't get it; when I've performed this in the past it feels more like a shoulder stability exercise (which is still great). The benefits to this exercise are clearly numerous, but for me it's not so much greater than any other Pallof variation that I'm willing to devote my athletes/clients time to learning it.

Anybody have any cues for me to help get better at these exercises? I'd love to hear them! Leave some notes in the comments section, please!

Have a great day, and go lift some heavy shit!

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