This past April marked my ten year anniversary being in the training game and running my company. Over the past decade I've seen, heard and done just about everything good, bad and ugly. There's a lot of common mistakes that the average client will make when they have a young training age, but there are very simple fixes for most of these issues if you know what you're doing. Narrowing this down to just three issues was actually quite difficult, so I picked the three that I personally see the most.
Our jobs as coaches and trainers is to make people better! It's to make them move, feel and look better; figuring out ways to decrease the risk of injury to my clients is what flows through my head all day long. Making them get to where they need to be safely is quite a feat when you have clients that lack that "mind-body" connection, and/or if they come to you with a ton of previous injuries. Figuring out how to work around these issues and how to get them from step one to step two flawlessly is a science, but it will be a different route for everyone.
Issue #1: Rounded Back / Lose Spine / Thoracic or Lumbar Kyphosis / Hunch Back / Etc.
This rounding of the spine during Dead Lifts (or any lift from the floor) is a common mistake you will see with many lifters of all training ages. It happens to most because of a lack of understanding of the Hip Hinge (Pic Right), it happens to others under too much of a load, and it also happens because of fatigue during a set.
A few fixes are de-loading the client and teaching them how to hinge properly. Followed by some hip flexor stretching and glute strengthening exercises. You could also elevate the KB , Hex Bar or Barbell off of the floor to decrease the range of motion for them.
To add to this, here's a very informative video on the difference between Flexion Movement and Flexion Moment.
Science has showed us that picking things up off the ground with lumbar kyphosis (rounded back), will ultimately lead to disastrous results (disc herniations) for most. Whether you're a seasoned lifter or a rookie, fix your hinge and progress slowly during dead lifts. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back to move forward.
Proper Trap Bar Dead Lifts: First master the hinge and then progress to heavier loads.
Issue #2: Chin Poking Push Ups / Elbow Flaring Push Ups / Seal Push Ups / Etc.
Push Ups are a huge trouble area for many. I've seen five-hundred pound bench pressers not be able to perform a single proper push up! The list of mistakes here is lengthy, but I'll point out the biggest culprits: Chin Poking Push Ups are a common mistake with many because the lifter is trying to use their head for momentum and it shows a lack of body awareness, and also a weakness in core strength. The Seal Push Up (hyper lumbar extension), is a core weakness and a lack of quad, ab and glute firing during the push up. And finally, the Flaring Elbow Push up: this is the most common mistake I see. Flaring your elbows out during a push up is a great way to beat up the shoulder capsule. This is usually due to a Pectoralis Major and tricep weakness.
The good news is that there are easy fixes to these problems: Get Stronger!
The video above will help you out tremendously....Also, you can try this if you have bands available:
Issue #3: Knocked Knees / Valgus / Hip Collapsing / Pronating Feet / Flat Feet / Caving Hips
Valgus during squats, dead lifts, lunges, step ups and pretty much any other movement, is almost always a glute weakness. When we sit a lot, our glutes start to atrophy and stop firing properly. Our inner thighs (Adductors) also start to tighten up and will cause poor lower body movements. Another issue for valgus may be pronating feet (flat feet).
When I see a client doing a Squat, Dead Lift or any lower body movement, I'm always looking for this first and foremost. After I see the issue, we quickly try a few things and get rid of it as soon as possible. Most of the time this can be cleaned up after you just create awareness with the client, but as the loads get heavier, valgus can and will rear its ugly head.
Hear are a few fixes for this issue: Roll your Adductors (Daily) and strengthen your Glutes in External Rotation.
Also, a lot of unilateral leg work works wonders. Try doing Single Leg Straight Leg Dead Lifts instead of Bilateral, try Single Leg Squats (assisted), try Step Ups, Single Leg Stand Ups off of a Bench or Box, and watch the unilateral weaknesses quickly appear. You will be shocked at how bad you are on one side, and how good you are on another. It's humbling, but necessary!
You can also try golf balling your feet and lift barefoot more often, this will allow the muscles in your feet and proprioceptors to work properly.
Lastly, get stronger glutes: (Single Leg Straight Leg Dead Lifts) Thats an 80 Pound Kettle Bell for 10 Reps
Here's an (ugly) set of 405 pound Barbell Glute Bridges
If you have any of these issues, fix them! Attack your weaknesses in the gym and you will slowly become a healthy, lean machine. Check your ego at the door and get better. When people get stronger, most issues disappear!
Please feel free to contact me with any comments or questions.