Back to the Basics
In this time of uncertainty, we need to look at things in a positive light. With gyms closed it means that most people have to make due with the equipment they have at home. Some people are lucky enough to own home gym equipment, like barbells and squat racks, while others only have light dumbbells and some resistance bands. You could also fall in the boat of not having any equipment at home.
Well one positive that we can take from it is that we have to go back to the basics. Meaning that we have to be able to accomplish some of the “easier” exercises that may have been long forgotten. I want to give you a few different exercises to incorporate into your home workout routine that will prepare you for getting back into the gym when they open back up.
Rear Foot Elevated Split Squat
If you can’t stand on one leg, then you probably shouldn’t be squatting on two. A lot of powerlifters and olympic lifters train their competition lifts or maybe some variation of them and completely ditch any accessory work. This leaves you prone to imbalances and possibly injury. Single leg work is also important for runners and athletes because they spend a lot of time on one leg.
The rear foot elevated split squat (RFESS) is one of my go-to exercises because it challenges hip stability and transfers well to gait/running. It also improves hip extension of the back leg by actively stretching the hip flexors.
There are people out there who can deadlift 500+ lbs, but can’t do a bodyweight pull up. Your lats are a huge stabilizer in the deadlift and even if your deadlift is about 1-2x your bodyweight, you should be able to do at least one proper pull up or you could be leaving yourself at risk for injury. Stronger lats will carry over into many of your other lifts as well.
Initiate the pull by bringing your shoulder blades down and back. Externally rotate the arms as you pull - turn the elbows forward. Progress by using the feet to assist or a band if needed.
Proper techniques with most exercises require a neutral spine and braced core. Master the basic plank, then progress to more challenging core exercises and improve your positioning in your main lifts. Improved bracing may or may not lead to reduced risk of injury, but it definitely will improve your performance.
Find your “neutral spine” where your ribs are tucked down and still have a slight (natural) curve in the low back. Squeeze the glutes and tense the abs to lock in the pelvic position. To get the most out of this and translate better to your training, focus on breathing. Breath into your belly while maintaining the bracing throughout. When one minute feels easy, progress to a bear crawl hold - up on hands and toes with knees bent.
These are just a few basic things that we can focus on to improve performance. Feel free to reach out with any questions about these, other basic exercises, or anything else. If you want a FREE well structured at home program during this pandemic, send me an e-mail or DM me on the socials. (Donations are welcome at this link.)
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Dr. Brett Dick, PT, DPT