The area that can often suffer most is ‘performance’ and by that I mean your ability to go about your daily life coping with the tasks required of your body.
There is a huge culture growing within the fitness industry of people prepping for bodybuilding/physique events. This is fine, but when aesthetics are the main goal, then your body’s ability to perform (what should be) simple tasks can often be reduced.
Think back to old school strongmen from the 19th century. These guys were strong! Arthur Saxon, for example, still holds the world record for a lift – 404lbs – called the Two Hands Anyhow. As if having extreme strength and power wasn’t enough they also had extreme mobility, coordination and grace to go with it. They lived and trained before the grandfathers of the inventors of Facebook, Instagram and Tinder were born. They had nobody to impress with the way they looked, so their sole priority was performance. And guess what happened when they took their clothes off… they looked pretty bloody good naked, too!
Let me reiterate that wanting to look good naked is absolutely fine, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you will be that good at anything. I’ve humiliated enough big guys in my time to be fairly confident of this. If a client tells me they want to lose weight I will ask them if they’ve ever seen an overweight person do 20 pull ups. I’ll then coach them to develop enough strength to be able to do 20 pull ups. When they achieve it, guess what…they’re not overweight anymore!
Targeting the posterior chain is crucial for postural and athletic reasons, but almost as important is ensuring you have as little imbalance as possible between left and right. Adopt a normal deadlift stance with shins close to the bar, but take a hold of the bar right in the centre with one hand only. Drive the hips forward and the bar should float up to mid-thigh height. Not only will you have to work extra hard through your core as it adds anti-rotation to its list of jobs, but your grip strength will go through the roof, which in turn will help the weight of your normal deadlift increase.
Ok, this certainly isn’t suitable for beginners, and if you do try it make sure there is nobody close by in case you have to bail out half way. The traditional two handed Snatch is a phenomenal exercise for developing power, however there is a reason all the Olympic gold medalists still have a coach…it is very complex. The single-handed version has a much shallower learning curve. Set up in the same way as the single hand deadlift but this time, as the hips drive forwards, the bar should continue overhead in one smooth movement. Controlling it at the top will give your grip and shoulder stability some extra work too.
Start in a kneeling position to eliminate the amount of work the legs can do, with one hand on the end of the barbell at shoulder height and the other end of the barbell securely in the rotational sleeve. Brace through the core and press the bar up overhead. There will be a certain amount of rotational movement to contend with. Once you are familiar with the movement start adding some weight.
Keep one end of the bar in the rotational sleeve but hold the other end in both hands in front of your chest (imagine your hands are in a prayer position with the bar secured between your palms).
Start with your feet shoulder width apart. Step the left foot as far to the left as you can, dropping the backside down towards the floor/left heel. Drive up using the left leg until you return to the start position. Repeat on the other side. You can add more weight as you feel comfortable.
Start in the same position as the Landmine Lateral Lunge, but press your hands overhead and hold on tight – you might need to move your feet back half a step.
Both hands will be level with each other at the top of the bar and there should be a straight line from your hands to elbows to shoulders to hips to knees to ankles.
Take the left hand and move it down the bar a few inches. Then move the right hand below the left and so on – all the while ensuring you keep that straight line from hand to ankle.
Don’t go too fast and don’t go too far down the bar. The lower you go the harder it is to return to the top. This is a true test of grip strength, core strength and shoulder stability.