Main Lifts-Technique & How to Lift Optimally

Squat          Bench Press          Deadlift          Sumo Deadlift          Military Press         
Main Lift Variations-          Box Squat          Closegrip Bench Press          Block Pulls
More Exercises…

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Strength

  • Physical Power and Energy
  • The capacity of an object to withstand great force or pressure

Do you have the Strength to take charge of your life? Do you have the Strength to withstand the pressure of Life? Do you have the Strength to Change the World?

As your physical Strength grows, so too does your Strength in all areas of your life.

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Technique

You will learn the purpose for each and its place in the Mathias Method as well as how to perform them both safely and effective.

Format:

Purpose- Benefits of this exercise.

Prime Movers- Which muscles do the most work

Variations- What are some common and effective variations that can be done with this exercise.

Technique- How to set-up the exercise and preform it safe and effectively.

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Main Lifts

The main lift, or main lifts, of any given workout is the focus point of the session. This is where the most effort should be placed to better improve this movement. All of the training before and after these lifts is set to better improve the main exercise. The main exercise should be a standard motion that improves performance in your chosen sport. It can vary in many ways such as intensity, volume, range of motion, positioning or style performed but should not get too far away from the primary exercise. For heavy training days, every other week the intensity of this exercise should rotate between moderate and high. One week the goal should be to work up too or past 90% of that given exercise’s maximum to build absolute strength. The next week should focus on repetitions using less than 85% of the maximum, to build muscle and constantly improve technique. This will rotate each week, and skip over week 1 which should always be of low to moderate intensity relative to the main exercise focused upon the other 3 weeks. Also, being that there are two main lifts for each heavy training day, the two main lifts should also be rotated in order as well as intensity. The higher intensity lift should always go first on lower body training days, but keep the written order for upper body training. For the lower body days, if the squat exercise is of high intensity the deadlift exercise should be of lower intensity. The next week the deadlift exercise should be performed first at a high intensity, while the squat exercise should be performed afterwards with lower intensity. The same intensity rotation should occur between the Olympic lifts and bench press lifts, but maintain order. Always complete your Olympic work first.

The main lifts on light training days are still the focus of the training session. Everything should focus on improving this movement, which in turn is focused on improving your main lifts utilized on heavy training days. During light training days the goal is to accumulate volume and practice technique, creating a better potential for strength gains on heavy training days. These sessions will focus on building muscular size, speed and endurance while bringing up weaknesses. This allows for different stimuli created through varying intensities. As your muscles grow and adapt to lighter loads, they will have an increased potential to grow more absolute strength. Together, light, moderate and heavy loads utilized on the main lifts will allow for continuous growth without stagnation. Keep growing STRONGer.

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They told me it was impossible to lift, so I picked it up.

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Squat:

Purpose- Test full body strength, Test Leg Strength, Build Leg and Core Strength

Prime Movers- Quadriceps (Legs), Hamstrings (Legs), Glutes (Hips)

Variations: Stance, Bar placement, Pauses, Box Squat, Accommodating Resistance, Specialty bars, Assistive gear, etc.

            The Squat is known as the King of All exercises. Becoming proficient at squatting technique can not only make you stronger but it also teaches your body to move properly. By understanding the mechanics of how to squat properly, with or without weight, you will better understand how your body was meant to function. This will enable your conscious and sub-conscious to better use all the musculature in your body. Squat technique overall will have the same principles that must be followed for safe and effective technique. These are presented below, but there are two variables that can change how a squat looks and is used. These are squat stance and bar position. No matter your bar or foot placement, the same set-up and squatting principles below, apply.

  • Squat Stance- Generally, a closer stance utilizes greater knee flexion and a wider stance utilized more torso lean. Greater knee flexion better emphasizes quadriceps use while greater torso lean emphasizes more glute and hamstring use. Choose the stance that best utilizes your leverages. Note: For beginners, start with a medium stance just outside shoulder width.
  • Bar Placement- A higher bar position normally allows for less torso lean and more knee flexion while a lower bar position allows for greater torso lean and more posterior chain muscles utilization. Note: For beginners, just place the bar in the most comfortable spot or in the middle of your Upper Trapezius.

Set-Up:

  • Hands: Grasp bar firmly, with thumbs wrapped, as close to shoulders as you can while maintaining a relatively neutral wrist position.
  • Feet: Set your feet directly under the bar in your squat stance with toes pointed relatively straight ahead.
  • Bar: Place the bar in the strongest position, for you, on your back anywhere between the base of your neck and middle of rear deltoids (shoulder). Note: A higher bar position will emphasize greater knee flexion and less torso lean, while a lower bar position will emphasize more torso lean and less knee flexion.

Unrack:

  • Breath: Suck in as much air as you can, and attempt to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine, by pressing your lips closed, flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.
  • Elbows: Pull your elbows down and in towards your hips throughout the movement, as if you are going to bend the bar over your back.
  • Head: While keeping a neutral spine, force your head back over the bar. Maintain a neutral head position throughout. 
  • Lift Off: Simultaneously, extend your knees and hips to lift the bar just over the rack hooks.
  • Walk-Out: Slide one foot at a time back 3-4 inches, or just enough to clear the rack hooks, so you are standing in your squat stance.

The Squat:

  • Feet: Toes should point relatively straight forward. While clenching your toes into the ground, create torque by externally rotate your feet, as if they were to spin in place, throughout the entire motion. (Note: Your feet should not move at all during these motions. Just create a rotational pressure to stabilize your joints.)
  • Breath: While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the lift.
  • Hips: Initiate the motion by bending at the waist, pushing your hips back slightly. Only 1-3 inches.
  • Knees: Push your knees out laterally to open your hips throughout the lift. Your knees should travel in line with your toes, but not past.
  • The Squat: While maintaining a neutral spine, descend straight down until your hip is below the top of your knee and then forcefully press back up into the bar as you ascend, by extending your hip and knees together. Keep your head neutral and knees out over your foot.

Things to Remember:

  • Stay tight- Keep your whole body tight throughout while maintaining intra-abdominal pressure.
  • Feet- Straight or slightly turned out. Grasp the floor with your toes and externally rotate throughout.
  • Knees- Move in line with your toes and stay pressed out over your feet.
  • Hips- Initiate the motion slightly by pushing back 1-3 inches.
  • Spine- Maintain a neutral spine and head position.

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 Bench Press:

Purpose- Test Upper Body Strength, Build Upper Body Strength

Prime Movers- Triceps (Arms), Anterior Deltoids (Shoulders), Pectoralis Major (Chest)

Variations- Hand Position, Paused, Board Press, Floor Press, Specialty Bars, Accommodating Resistance, Closegrip, etc.

The bench press is one of the most popular lifting motions, but it can also be one of the most dangerous if not performed correctly. The body was simply not made to hold a heavy load with our arms shoved back behind our bodies, and then have to press it away. To perform a safe and effective bench press you must utilize your entire body as one unit to maintain stability in all of your joints. The bench press is not just an upper body or arms only lift. It requires focus and a lot of practice to master, but once you have learned the proper technique, you will better understand how your upper body is supposed to move. The bench press is an extremely valuable training lift that builds your upper body strength in a way that no other lift can. By following the proper lifting technique, you will learn to use your body as a single unit, build proper movement patterns and be enabled to continue your strength progression.

Hand Position: Hand position will vary for every individual. The goal is to place your hands where you will be in the most safe and effective position to build strength. A wider grip will focus more on the chest and shoulders as a closer grip will focus more on the triceps. The triceps are the prime mover for the bench press so a very wide grip is not usually optimal for strength. For beginners, grab the bar at about shoulder width to better focus on building up the triceps and learning proper movement patterns.

Foot Placement: The feet can be placed anywhere that gives the greatest amount of stability. This may be with feet flat or on the balls of your feet. The ultimate goal of foot placement should be to get your knee lower than your hip so that you can better maintain a tight position throughout your body.

Set-Up:

  • Lay Flat- Start by lying down completely flat on the bench with your feet on the end.
  • Hands- Press your palms firmly into the bar, with your preferred width, evenly set according to the power rings. Grasp the bar tightly with your thumbs wrapped and keep your wrists straight.
  • Shoulders- Lift yourself off of the bench and create an external rotation torque with your hands as you pull your shoulder blades back together and down towards your hips. Firmly press your upper trapezius down into the bench, while keeping your shoulders tucked, where your eyes are in line with the bar.
  • Feet- With your hips raised, set one foot at a time down on the floor in a place where your knees are below your hips and your hips can stay on the bench.
  • Knees- Press your knees out tightly to engage your glutes and bring your hips onto the bench.

Unrack:

  • Breathe- While maintaining full body tightness, suck in as much air as you can and press it deep down into your abdomen. Hold this air in tight as you lift only breathing as needed between lifts.
  • Chest- Raise your chest as high as you can throughout the lift while minimizing your lower back arch.
  • Lift Off- While maintaining full body tightness and an external rotation torque on the bar, lift the bar only slightly over the hooks and pull the bar out until it is over your shoulders. (Note: It is best to do this with a partner handing you the bar to maintain a proper shoulder position. Do not round your shoulders forward.)

The Bench Press:

  • The Pull– Initiate the downward motion by pulling the bar down into your chest, with your elbows tucked in slightly towards your sides, engaging your lats.
  • The Bottom- Touch the bar near the base of your chest, where your elbows are directly under the bar and range from a 30-45 degree angle from your sides.
  • Press- Press the bar up and back over your shoulders, where the lift began, as you slightly flare your elbows out.

Things to Remember:

  • Hands- Wrap your thumbs and maintain an external rotation torque throughout while maintaining neutral wrists.
  • Shoulders- Keep your shoulders tucked back and down towards your hips.
  • Chest- Keep your chest raised high.
  • Elbows- Keep your elbows directly under the bar during the entire lift and tuck them in at the bottom, 30-45 degrees.
  • Hips- Keep your hips down on the bench.
  • Knees- Knees must be lower than your hips and pressed out laterally.
  • Feet- Keep your feet pressed into the ground as if you are doing a leg extension.

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Deadlift:

Purpose- Teach Hip Hinge Mechanics, Test Full Body Strength, Test Hip Hinge Strength, Test Core Stabilization Strength, Build Full Body Strength, Build Hip Hinge Strength, Build Core Stabilization Strength

Prime Movers- Hamstring Complex (Legs), Glutes (Hips), Quadriceps (Legs)

Variations- Deficit, Block/Rack Pulls, Stance, Grip, Accommodating Resistance

The deadlift is one of the most brutal and beneficial lifts there is. It teaches you one of the most valuable mechanical motions; the hip hinge. By understanding and improving the deadlift you will improve your posture, build a strong core, and be able to maintain a healthy back. Deadlift mechanics can be applied to many daily activities and make you better at them, such as lifting objects off the floor or even jumping. Improving your deadlift strength will build your full body strength as it all functions as one unit. To be a complete athlete you must be able to deadlift properly.

The conventional deadlift is a variation that build the most core stability and hip hinge strength. The focus will be upon the posterior chain muscles which translates directly over to multiple other exercises, including the squat. By building the conventional deadlift you will better be able to stabilize your spine, jump and perform other loaded exercises.

Grip- There are multiple different grips that are commonly used to better hold onto the bar. The strongest grip changes person to person. The most common and possibly strongest grip is a mixed grip in which the hands are facing opposite of each other. A hook grip, in which you wrap your thumb around the bar and then clasp the other fingers over it, is also a strong grip but can cause damage to your thumb with heavy weights. The simplest grip is a double overhand grip in which both palms face towards your body. To better improve your grip for heavy lifting it is most optimal to utilize a double overhand grip for all the lifts you can, before switching to the mixed grip that is weaker for you until you get towards maximal weights. At maximal weights always use your strongest grip so that the focus is mostly on your hip hinge strength.

Set-Up:

  • Feet- Set your heels shoulder width or closer, to where your feet are vertically cut in half by the bar, and externally rotate them slightly (5-10 degrees). Grasp the floor with your toes and maintain an external rotation torque throughout the lift.
  • Breath: Suck in as much air as you can, and attempt to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine, by pressing your lips closed, flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.
  • Hips- While maintaining a neutral spine, bend at the hips until you can grasp the bar.
  • Hands- Place your hands as close as possible to your sides without getting in the way of your knees. Grasp the bar as tight as possible and create an external rotation torque.

Set:

  • Breathe- While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the lift.
  • Knees- Fully extend your knees to reset the tension to your hips, and then push them forward until they touch the bar while maintaining a constant external rotation torque.
  • Head- Maintain a neutral head and spine throughout the lift.
  • Tension- Pull the bar up and back into your legs as your position your hips low, chest high and back flat.

Deadlift:

  • Shoulders- Keep your shoulders back and down throughout the lift.
  • Push- Simultaneously press your feet into the ground and hips forward as you extend your knees and hips until lockout
  • Descent- Stay tight as you lower the bar, with perfect form, sliding against your legs all the way down. This will build strength and improve form.

Things to Remember:

  • Feet- Externally rotated
  • Knees- Pushed out
  • Hips- Lower than shoulders, and pushed forward as you lift
  • Chest- Out and up
  • Shoulders- Pulled back and down
  • Spine- Spine and head neutral
  • Breathe- Hold in intra-abdominal pressure throughout the left

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Deadlift- Sumo:

Purpose- Teach Hip Hinge Mechanics, Test Full Body Strength, Test Hip Hinge Strength, Test Core Stabilization Strength, Build Full Body Strength, Build Hip Hinge Strength, Build Core Stabilization Strength

Prime Movers- Hamstring Complex (Legs), Quadriceps (Legs), Glutes (Hips)

Variations- Deficit, Block/Rack pulls, Stance, Grip, Accommodating Resistance

The deadlift is one of the most brutal and beneficial lifts there is. It teaches you one of the most valuable mechanical motions; the hip hinge. By understanding and improving the deadlift you will improve your posture, build a strong core, and be able to maintain a healthy back. Deadlift mechanics can be applied to many daily activities and make you better at them, such as lifting objects off the floor or even jumping. Improving your deadlift strength will build your full body strength as it all functions as one unit. To be a complete athlete you must be able to deadlift properly.

The Sumo Deadlift is a variation that emphasizes more on the use of your legs to lift the weight rather than your hips and back. By taking a stance wider than your hand grip, you are in a sumo deadlift position that allows the distance between your hips and the bar to be closer compared to a conventional deadlift. This takes stress off of your lower back and places it upon your legs. In the sumo deadlift position your back is usually in a more vertical position to lift the weight, so most of the lift will focus on squatting the weight up. By utilizing the sumo deadlift, you will decrease the total range of motion, and therefore total work done, but the start of the lift will be more difficult. To become proficient at sumo deadlift, positioning and technique are key. If you cannot get into the proper positioning by externally rotating your hips, then sumo deadlift is not for you.

Grip- There are multiple different grips that are commonly used to better hold onto the bar. The strongest grip changes person to person. The most common and possibly strongest grip is a mixed grip in which the hands are facing opposite of each other. A hook grip, in which you wrap your thumb around the bar and then clasp the other fingers over it, is also a strong grip but can cause damage to your thumb with heavy weights. The simplest grip is a double overhand grip in which both palms face towards your body. To better improve your grip for heavy lifting it is most optimal to utilize a double overhand grip for all the lifts you can, before switching to the mixed grip that is weaker for you until you get towards maximal weights. At maximal weights always use your strongest grip so that the focus is mostly on your hip hinge strength.

Set-Up:

  • Feet- Set your feet close enough so that your shins are touching the bar outside of where your hands will be placed, and externally rotate them as much as you need to get your knees behind the bar when you squat down (5-60 degrees). Grasp the floor with your toes and maintain an external rotation torque throughout the lift.
  • Breath: Suck in as much air as you can, and attempt to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine, by pressing your lips closed, flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.
  • Hips- While maintaining a neutral spine, bend at the hips until you can grasp the bar.
  • Hands- Place your hands directly under your shoulders and hips, so that your arms are vertical. Grasp the bar as tight as possible and create an external rotation torque.

Set:

  • Breathe- While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the lift.
  • Knees- Fully extend your knees to reset the tension to your hips, and then push your hips forward into the bar until your shins are touching, while maintaining a constant external rotation torque.
  • Head- Maintain a neutral head and spine throughout the lift.
  • Tension- Using your lats, pull the bar up and back into your legs as you position your hips low, chest high and back flat.

Deadlift:

  • Shoulders- Keep your shoulders back and down throughout the lift.
  • Push- Simultaneously press your feet down and out into the ground and hips forward as you extend your knees and hips until lockout
  • Descent- Stay tight as you lower the bar, with perfect form, sliding against your legs all the way down. This will build strength and improve form.

Things to Remember:

  • Feet & Knees- Externally rotated
  • Hips- Lower than shoulders, and pushed forward as you lift
  • Chest- Out and up
  • Shoulders- Pulled back and down
  • Spine- Spine and head neutral
  • Breathe- Hold in intra-abdominal pressure throughout the left

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Military Press:

Purpose- Teach Overhead Pressing Mechanics, Test Shoulder Strength and Stability, Build Shoulder Strength and Stability

Prime Movers- Triceps (Arms), Deltoids (Shoulders), Trapezius (Back)

Variations- Grip Width, Push-Press, Jerk, Behind the Head

The Military Press is one of the most functional movements the human body can perform. It was designed to be able to both press and pull overhead. By improving your overhead pressing technique you can learn to better stabilize your shoulders during movement and build core stabilization strength, which will carry over to improving numerous other exercises. By having a strong overhead pressing ability your shoulders will be much more stable and be better protected from injury. Though it is a weaker movement compared to the Bench Press, it is still a highly valuable lift that must be utilized to build complete upper body strength. Normally, the intensity will be low-moderate while the volume will be moderate-high. This is meant to build shoulder strength more often that testing it, which can be harmful if not done correctly.

Set-Up:

  • Hands- Place your hands near shoulder width (somewhere within a range that your thumbs can touch your shoulders if extended) and wrap your thumbs around the bar. Create an external rotation torque to better position your elbows.
  • Feet- Set your feet directly under the bar, about shoulder width or slightly wider.
  • Bar- Set the bar so it rests on your collar bones and deltoids.
  • Elbows- While maintaining an external rotation torque and keeping the bar in the middle of your palms, set your elbows out in front of the bar near a 10-30 degree angle.

Unrack:

  • Breathe- Suck in as much air as you can, and attempt to create as much intra-abdominal pressure as you can, to stabilize your spine, by pressing your lips closed, flexing all of the musculature surrounding your entire torso, and forcing the air deep down into your abdomen. This is known as the Valsalva Maneuver.
  • Lift-Off- Simultaneously extend your knees and hips to lift the bar just over the hooks.
  • Walk-Out- Slide your feet back about 6-12 inches one foot at a time, and set them in a shoulder width or slightly wider stance.

Set:

  • Feet- Claw and twist your feet into the ground to create an external rotation torque.
  • Hips- Flex your glutes to stabilize your hips.
  • Breathe- While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the lift.

Press:

  • Head– While maintaining a neutral spine, pull your head back behind the bar.
  • Press- Press the bar overhead while allowing your elbows to flair out to the sides. As the bar passes in front of your face ensure that your elbows are directly underneath the bar through the rest of the press.
  • Lock-Out- To finish the motion push your head through so that your arms are next to your ears, or slightly behind, and the bar is directly over your mid-foot. The bar should be in line with your spine.
  • Return- To return safely, reverse the motion by pulling your head back, externally rotating your elbows in front of you and allowing the bar to be lowered with control back onto your collar bones and deltoids.

Things to Remember:

  • Hands- Eternally rotate at the base position while maintaining neutral wrists throughout.
  • Bar- The bar should rest on you collar bones and front deltoids at the base position.
  • Elbows- Stay in front of the bar at the base and flair out as you press.
  • Head- Neutral head position throughout. Pull back as you press and then push through, under the bar, to finish.
  • Stay Tight- Flex your glutes and brace your core throughout.

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Main Lift Variations:

Variations to the main lifts allow for a different stimulus to the base lifts and can allow for new growth. Any variation used can create an opportunity to build up different areas of the lift or prime mover muscles from different angles. Variation can be simple or complex, but to build strength towards the main movements, it is important not to vary too far from the original lift. Start with simple variations such as the addition of pauses and boxes or changing positioning of hands or feet before moving into more complex lifts with numerous changes. Examples of some valuable variations to the main lifts are:

  • Stance or Grip
  • Bar Positioning
  • Pauses
  • Boxes or Boards
  • Specialty Bars
  • Range of Motion
  • Accommodating Resistance (Bands or Chains)
  • Assistive Gear

Variation is best used with advanced lifters who have already mastered the main lifts and progress is slowing. Beginners should rarely use variations in the main lifts if at all. Intermediate lifters can try some exercise variations infrequently but most work should be done to perfect the main lifts.

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Box Squat:

Purpose- Test Leg Strength, Build Leg and Hip Strength

Prime Movers- Quadriceps (Legs), Hamstrings (Legs), Glutes (Hips)

Variations: Box Height, Stance, Bar placement, Accommodating Resistance, Specialty bars, Assistive gear

The Box Squat is the main variation to the Squat. It utilizes a box to teach squat technique and build strength at specific depths. The box breaks the squat into a two part lift so that one can focus on perfecting each part of the lift separately. By eccentrically contracting to control your descent onto the box, you will learn to better control the descent of a squat. The pause on the box allows you to ensure that your body stays tight at the bottom of the squat. To come off the box you must use your hips and legs in unison teaching proper squatting mechanics while building explosive strength. The box squat is simply the best way to perfect your squat form while building strength, other than performing more squats.

The Box- The box height can vary based upon your goals and mobility. If you lack the mobility to sit onto a parallel box with proper form, then start at a height about 1 inch below where you can maintain form upon and lower the box over time, inch by inch. This will help build strength in the new positions your body obtains through increased mobility. A higher box height will allow for an overload from the parallel box and a decreased box height will underload the parallel box squat.

Set-Up:

  • Same as Squat with a below parallel box placed slightly behind you.

The Squat:

  • Feet: Toes should point relatively straight forward. While clenching your toes into the ground, create torque by externally rotate your feet, as if they were to spin in place, throughout the entire motion. (Note: Your feet should not move at all during these motions. Just create a rotational pressure to stabilize your joints.)
  • Breath: While keeping your entire body tight, again suck in as much air as you can and press it down deep into your abdomen increasing the intra-abdominal pressure. Hold this tightness throughout the lift.
  • Hips: Initiate the motion by bending at the waist, pushing your hips back slightly. Only 1-3 inches.
  • Knees: Push your knees out laterally to open your hips throughout the lift. Your knees should travel in line with your toes, but not past.
  • The Squat: While maintaining a neutral spine, descend slightly back and down with control until your hips set softly on the box. While maintaining tightness in your legs and torso, rock back and forth slightly (1-3 inches) ending with the bar over your heels. Then forcefully press back up into the bar as you ascend, by pressing your knees out and curling your heels into the ground, as you extend your hip and knees together. Keep your head neutral and knees out over your foot.

Things to Remember:

  • Box- Should be at or just below parallel, where your hips are in line with your knees.
  • Stay tight- Keep your whole body tight throughout while maintaining intra-abdominal pressure.
  • Feet- Straight or slightly turned out. Grasp the floor with your toes and externally rotate throughout maintaining the weight on your heels.
  • Knees- Move in line with your toes and stay pressed out over your feet.
  • Hips- Sit back and down, slightly behind where your hips would be during a standard squat.
  • Spine- Maintain a neutral spine and head position.

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Closegrip Bench Press:

Purpose- Build Triceps and Upper Body Strength

Prime Movers- Triceps (Arms), Anterior Deltoids (Shoulders), Pectoralis Major (Chest)

Variations- Paused, Board Press, Floor Press, Specialty Bars, Accommodating Resistance

The Closegrip Bench Press is a variation of the standard Bench Press in which your hands are placed closer than your normal grip. This will place more stress on your triceps in an attempt to build them up stronger. By training the Closegrip Bench Press you increase the strength potential of your other pressing lifts. Due to the decreased shoulder abduction angle used by the closer grip, this variation is safer for your shoulders when done properly; less stress will be placed on shoulder extension.

Hand Placement- To be considered a closegrip, the hands need to be placed closer than your standard grip. This may be as little as one inch. The closer the grip, the greater the stress placed upon your triceps. Only grip as close as you can while maintaining a neutral wrist position. This is a grip in line with your shoulders.

Set-Up:

  • Same as Bench Press with a closer grip.

The Bench Press:

  • The Pull– Initiate the downward motion by pulling the bar down into your chest, with your elbows tucked in slightly towards your sides, engaging your lats.
  • The Bottom- Touch the bar near the base of your chest, where your elbows are slightly in front of the bar and range from a 0-30 degree angle from your sides.
  • Press- Press the bar up and back over your shoulders, where the lift began, as you slightly flare your elbows out.

Things to Remember:

  • Hands- Wrap your thumbs and maintain an external rotation torque throughout while maintaining neutral wrists.
  • Shoulders- Keep your shoulders tucked back and down towards your hips.
  • Chest- Keep your chest raised high.
  • Elbows- Keep your elbows directly under or slightly in front the bar during the entire lift and tuck them in at the bottom, 0-30 degrees.
  • Hips- Keep your hips down on the bench.
  • Knees- Knees must be lower than your hips and pressed out laterally.
  • Feet- Keep your feet pressed into the ground as if you are doing a leg extension.

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Block Pulls (Rack Pulls):

Purpose- Overload the Deadlift, Teach Hip Hinge Mechanics, Build Full Body Strength, Build Hip Hinge Strength, Build Core Stabilization Strength

Prime Movers- Glutes, Hamstring Complex, Quadriceps

Variations- Conventional Deadlift, Sumo Deadlift, Accommodating Resistance

Block pulls are a deadlift variation in which you lift the weight from a raised position in order to decrease the range of motion and focus on the lockout of the deadlift. This decreased range of motion utilizing the strongest part of the deadlift movement allows for you to overload the deadlift when using weights over your normal maximum. To gain the most benefit from block pulls, be sure to only use a slightly decreased range of motion so that the pull always begins below your knees, allowing you to still train the most difficult leverage point in the lift.

Equipment- Place blocks or plates, evenly stacked, underneath the bar loaded plates to raise the starting position. Ensure that the blocks are stable and will not move or break during the exercise. You may also use a power rack in which the bar itself rests against the side railings to decrease the range of motion. Make sure that the range of motion is not decreased so much that the bar starts over your knees.

Set-Up:

  • Same as the deadlift set-up, with the bar touching higher on your shins before pulling.
  • Start with your weight directly over your feet and not leaning way back.
  • You may use a conventional deadlift stance or a sumo deadlift stance.

Deadlift:

  • Shoulders- Keep your shoulders back and down throughout the lift.
  • Push- Simultaneously press your feet into the ground and hips forward as you extend your knees and hips until lockout
  • Descent- Stay tight as you lower the bar, with perfect form, sliding against your legs all the way down. This will build strength and improve form.

Things to Remember:

  • Feet & Knees- Grab the ground and externally rotate
  • Hips- Lower than shoulders, and pushed forward as you lift
  • Chest- Out and up
  • Shoulders- Pulled back and down
  • Spine- Spine and head neutral
  • Breathe- Hold in intra-abdominal pressure throughout the left

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Disclaimer

When participating in any exercise or training program there is a possibility of physical injury. If you engage in any movements, exercises or training programs, you agree to do so at your own risk. By voluntarily participating in these activities, you assume all risk of injury to yourself and agree to release and discharge Mathias Method, Ryan Mathias and all other affiliates of any responsibility if injury occurs. In addition, by following any of the suggested guidelines, protocols, templates, activities or any other information or advice on this website (mathiasmethod.com) you do so at your own risk. Do not begin any nutrition or training program without consulting with a  Board Certified Medical Doctor and/or Registered Dietician first.

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