5 Helpful Training Tips

Filed under: Training

At Cressey Performance I get used to seeing people performing lifts quite well, and get used to teaching people proper training technique and execution without them already having developed bad habits. We do get adult clients though, who have been training on their own, and no matter how well they think they have trained, or how many articles on T-nation they have read, need work. It is infinitely worse when I venture into a commercial gym, where the stuff I see going on blows my mind. With all that said, here are 5 tips to (hopefully) improve your performance inside and outside of the gym.

1. Keep your arch.

When you do any type of deadlift variation, the most important thing you can do is not lose neutral spine. If your back rounds, you are either lifting too heavy, or you lack mobility in your ankles/hips/thoracic spine. For info on how to improve mobility, check out Magnificent Mobility by Eric Cressey and Mike Robertson.

2. Keep your chest up and out.

When performing any rowing exercise, deadlift variations, squat variation, pushups, bench press, you name it, it works. Keeping your chest puffed out like a pea cock will allow your scapula to either stay depressed and retracted to keep them in the safest position, or allow you to pull them into this position. Do not let your chest cave and shoulders round forward, we do not want shrugging or your shoulder blades elevating and sliding forward. Specific example of a poor row.

3. Tuck your chin.

Cervical hyperextension will catch up to you. What you don’t want is to be looking straight up or straight down, you just want to give yourself a double chin to keep your cervical spine in line with the rest of your spine. To read more about this one, Eric wrote a good article about it here.

4. Lock out your hips.

At the top of squat, deadlift, and lunge variations it is important you finish that final range of motion by squeezing your glutes and getting your pelvis flat. This will help to ensure you are getting optimal glute development for back and knee health, and not being quad dominant. For a good example, Eric yet again comes through in this article here.

5. Deload.

Taking some time where you either go lighter, do less volume, rotate out a CNS intense movement, whatever it may be, and you will feel that much better for it. Taking a step back for a week will allow you to take two forward. You can’t make continual linear uninterruped progress forever, and your connective tissue and joints will thank you. To learn more, EC comes through again with his Art of the Deload e-book. Man, he pretty much has covered this all.

While not being a comprehensive list, putting these 5 tips into practice will greatly improve your training efficiency.

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Posted on April 7th, 2009 by Brian St. Pierre


  1. Sharon Says:

    This is exactly why I am at CP. I know I am one of the biggest offenders of these “tips”. Thank you Brian!

  2. Bob Parr Says:

    Yeah, I wish I was at CP! Though I’m actually only about an hour away from I-FAST.

    Excellent summation, Brian. Lots of good reminders. As for stuff I see at my commercial gym, it’s the faulty exercise selections (think Flex routines)I notice more than errors of form. We’ve got two squat racks, but VERY few people use them. You’d be amazed at how many guys never do any lower body work other than calves.

  3. Steph Says:

    You forgot #6 which you love to scream across the gym at me, “Stick your butt out.” With your green tea in hand of course.

  4. Muscle Building Diets Says:

    Posture is important at all times and really affects you. Who knew that mom’s nagging about posture was that important?

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