One Weird Trick – Installment 11 – Long Term Hip Adaptations

One idea I’d like to identify with is that as strength coaches, and personal trainers, we have the ability to carry out movements that will deliver adaptations in a positive direction.

Adaptation Continuum
The method will determine what kind of adaptations you will deliver to the system. Ask yourself… what is the goal?

In many movements, sometimes we can get people into the “correct positions,” however the intention is not followed through when the movement is executed.

This is even more intrinsic when many people have jobs as trainers, where some individuals need to be entertained, rapport needs to be built, or perhaps you may be working in a group setting where some people may fall through the cracks with respect to movement patterns.

In other words, if you have a group of 10 people, and you get all 10 into the correct positions before pressing the “START” button on your stopwatch, what will happen to all 10 when executing a specific exercise? Do you have a side conversation with one of them until the end of the round? Keep a watchful eye? Will the movements need immediate and intensive coaching? Who knows…? :)

Another exercise that I find that is easy to get into the correct position, but not followed through on an execution level is any exercise that aims to use the “Wide Stance” position in cable exercises. Whether these are “Wide Stance Anti-Rotation Cable Chops,” or “Wide Stance Anti-Rotation Pallof Presses,” at times there needs to be a “self-check” in place to make sure the appropriate level of hip abduction is performed.



Why You Should Try This Drill

By performing these exercises with slightly more tension (by placing the band around the ankles or knees even, you can improve the neuromuscular tension that is identified in an otherwise not “actively tense” movement pattern), you’ll be able to:

  1. Improve activation of your hip abductors on the short term.
  2. Performed correctly over time, you can theoretically improve flexibility (pliability) of the adductors, as well.
  3. Long Term Adaptations towards improving hip abduction degrees of motion towards a sporting endeavor
  4. Agonist / Antagonist relationship of the hip abductors (glute minimus, glute medius, glute max) are facilitated, and the hip adductors are down regulated instead.

From a practical application point of view, if you can…

  1. Improve hip/pelvic stability by causing reactive neuromuscular tension by utilizing a band, you can further up regulate activation of the abdominals that control the pelvis through cueing (if necessary).
  2. Deliver subconscious activation of the glutes and hip abductors, you will free up further coaching of the execution of the exercise, versus just spouting 1000 cues on everything.

By layering the concept of “tension” in the most appropriate spots for the given exercise, without losing position, and improving execution of the exercise, you can win on all fronts! This essentially makes your job easier as a coach or trainer.

Give this a shot with any hockey or baseball athlete that may be looking to improve stride length, or powerlifter looking to improve tension and width of sumo deadlifting position to create a long term adaptation in the positive direction!

As always,

Keep it funky.


One Weird Trick: Installment 10 – Bend Over to the Front, and Touch Your Toes

Have you ever wanted to drop it, drop it, drop it low? (If Lexy Panterra, the twerkmaster featured above, can’t help you, no one can.)

If you’ve endlessly tried stretching your hamstrings, getting massages, and nothing works, give this one weird trick a go.

If you want the meat and potatoes of a how to touch your toes, check out my post here that goes into a lot more detail.

Read: Simple Self-Assessments: Toe Touch

For an updated point of view on what I think of touching your toes, read on below, and enjoy!


Sometimes, improving your toe touch is not what you need. In fact, let’s back track to the question behind the intent for wanting to touch your toes:

What do you need? What do you want?

Before you undertake any new exercise endeavor, it helps to understand why you’re about to try what you’re doing.

Not the Four Horsemen… But the 4 Buckets

If you want to:

  • Improve athleticism
  • Improve movement quality
  • Improve fitness quality and/or levels
  • Reduce feelings of pain

These are all different goals, and they all require different and unique approaches when looking to affect these items positively (or maintain at best).

Athletic Quality

I know plenty of high level athletes that have difficulty touching their toes. Does this mean they need to touch their toes to improve to their next level? Not necessarily. On a specific level, athleticism could mean many things, but does touching your toes mean anything?

I’d argue, yes, and also no.

Yes, having the ability to shift into and out (read: extension and flexion) of your hips is important.

No, because having unrestricted range of motion at your hips is also important, but for a different reason (it identifies hip pathology)… so you need to be able to control it.

Movement Quality

Improving movement quality on a general level can talk about skipping, lunging, running, push ups, or the simple things that involve more frequency and repetition.

On a specific level, movement quality can refer to the quantitative movement patterns found deeper within the movement patterns:

What happens in detail when you touch your toes?

Toe Touch Collage

When you touch your toes, you are demonstrating good quality going into flexion, which can also speak to your ability to control your abdominal musculature, along with relaxing and inhibiting the posterior musculature to allow for a forward bending motion.

Does touching your toes mean you’ll have a good push up? Skip? Sprinting pattern? Not necessarily, but it is one piece to the puzzle, certainly.

Functional movement… leading to functional skill!

Fitness Quality

On the other end of things, when you are aiming to improve your fitness levels, your ability to get into certain joint positions can certainly impact you when you’re trying to get better at sprinting, running, rowing, or anything usually involved with the word “conditioning.”

At the same time, another fitness quality that is difficult for other coaches to understand is power and speed, which speaks to rate of force production.

If your hip position (or anywhere up or down the kinetic chain) is out of position for whatever reason, do you think force production will be limited?

Sprinting - Joint PositionReducing Sensations for Pain

I usually disregard any discussions about pain, but I’ll attack them directly today.

Sometimes if certain vertebral facets (anterior, posterior, or lateral aspects of the vertebrae) are in contact with one another, that shit hurts. Nerves are on high alert, bones are touching where they aren’t supposed to necessarily, and not much in your body is happy when you have to round over like a mofo to deadlift a heavy weight off the ground.

Deadlift - Missed 5225
Do you even miss lifts, bro? Here I am missing 522.5 at the knees for a world record. Good times.

Placing a band around the hips, or navel (belly button) is one way to provide a posterior weight shift, along with providing a slight distraction away from extension based back movement patterns at the lumbar spine. This sensation of shifting the center of gravity (into more flexion) can provide relief for those that are experiencing extension based back pain. (1)

At the same time, if you find yourself STILL in pain, go go go go go to a professional.

I’ll Need a Band and a Yoga Block…

So with all of this under your belt, let’s introduce today’s “one weird trick” to help improve your toe touch.

This is a very quick and easy video to understand.

The directions of the video that may go unsaid:

  1. Have a band placed around your navel.
  2. Place a yoga block, hoodie, shoe, anything really, between your knees (or higher preferably), and SQUEEZE TIGHT.
  3. As you exhale, look down through your skull first,
  4. Bring your head down (chin to chest) next.
  5. Chest goes down.
  6. Lower back flexes.
  7. Band should help pull you into a posterior weight shift during the whole move.
  8. Make sure to keep legs locked out.
  9. Find the weight on your heels – but don’t lose all the weight on your toes.
  10. Feel this in your abdominals as you exhale – if you feel it in your lower back, pause for a second, inhale again, and restart from that same position as you go down.
  11. Come back up segment by segment until you are standing straight.

Toe Touch - Qualities of Corrective

With all of these things said, I also recommend identifying the real reason why you want to improve your toe touch.

Whether you want to do back flips or tie your shoe, there should be a reason for doing these exercises that will help you move better!

As always,

Keep it funky.



1- Fritz, Julie M., Anthony Delitto, and Richard E. Erhard. “Comparison of Classification-Based Physical Therapy With Therapy Based on Clinical Practice Guidelines for Patients with Acute Low Back Pain.” Spine28.13 (2003): 1363-371. Web.

One Weird Trick: Installment 9 – Wrapping the Barbell in the Bench Press

The bench press is one lift that has been one big struggle bus for me in recent history. Not until I started working out with a crew of people and started actively troubleshooting my errors did I realize my [several] mistakes.

One technical piece of the puzzle that has allowed my bench to skyrocket involves understanding the difference between “wrapping” the barbell and “breaking the bar.” While both of these items are external cues, I believe the input of one imagery guided cue has greater power than the other.

Further, you’ll learn the principles behind what is being taught behind both of these external cues, which will be a key difference in improving how tight you can get and ultimately improve your efficiency in the this classic powerlifting movement.

This or That

When looking to improve your overall numbers in the bench press, there are two easily understood ways to improve: get stronger, or become more efficient. Allow me to clarify.

Farm Boy Strong

When looking to get stronger, you can use a multitude of ways to improve overall strength in order to build a more resilient and physiologically sound individual.

To make this conversation even easier to digest, strength can be loosely defined as, “What can your body qualitatively handle when there is a stress (such as lifting weights) to the body?”

For someone who grew up on a farm (or other likewise physically demanding lifestyle) and is used to the daily rigors of picking stuff up and putting them down hundreds of times throughout the day for months and years on end, the body can handle a lot.


For someone who hasn’t done anything physically demanding, the category of “strength” is one area I’d love to improve from a general perspective.

Now add physics into the equation, and you can add in a specific distance, and total weights used to make it a more complete formula.


Keep in mind that when the body is stressed, the body will adapt accordingly (either good or bad).

Technically Efficient

I make this distinction in order to differentiate between someone who is naturally strong, but has no knack for technique with respect to leverages, barbell placement, tension techniques, along with appropriate arching, this person will still have the ability to display great levels of strength in the traditional barbell movements.

If you give someone without large amounts of “strength” technically sound coaching and guidance, you are improving their ability to be efficient with respect to bar path, grip, tensioning techniques, timing, and coordination.

So if you are lumping yourself under the category of someone who isn’t naturally strong, I’d click the video below to understand what some cues others may give you in your quest for strength.

At the same time, even if you are naturally strong, by applying these principles, you’ll be able to display your strength levels to the next degree, instead of flailing around, losing energy, and perhaps even losing integrity anywhere within your approach to the bench press.

How does this make you more efficient?

Well, I’m so glad you asked. Essentially after pursuing strength techniques and powerlifting more specifically, I’m more able to understand what it means to use this technique.

I’ll describe this one movement in a few steps:

  1. Lay on your back.
  2. Now have both hands at your side.
  3. If you are on your back, hopefully your legs/feet are on the ground.
  4. Now push into the ground with both hands, without moving your head or legs.

If you are sitting down while reading this, sit tall.

  1. Place your hands on your knees.
  2. Push your hands down into your knees.
  3. Push down as if you are pushing your feet through the floor.

What do you feel?

Ideally, you would feel your abdominal area “kick on” to a great degree, maybe even shaking a little bit as you are holding this position.

Well, this is a great PNF technique that involves understanding a specific motoric pattern – if you perform bilateral shoulder extension (what happens when you push down into the ground/knees), you will kick on thoracic flexion.

Photo Credit: PNF in Practice
Photo Credit: PNF in Practice

How does this translate to powerlifting? Well, if you’re looking to do a bench press, you’re very likely to have some sort of an arch – essentially going into a gross extension pattern.

Side note: If you’re into powerlifting, efficiency is the name of the game. Dysfunctional or not, extension helps, especially with respect to arching in the bench press.

In fact, it could be dysfunctional to bench press with a flat spine to the bench, as you are now increasing range of motion, which could lead to other issues up or down the chain from a sport specific point of view.

Read more: Redefining Dysfunctional and Finding Pieces to the Puzzle

Bench Press - Arching

What happens if you perform shoulder extension (the act of “wrapping the barbell with both hands simultaneously”) on top of extending through your posterior chain/lumbar/thoracic spine?

You’ll get a co-contraction – you are asking your body to hold a position in extension (kicking on your extensors) while simultaneously performing shoulder extension (which kicks on the flexion muscles in your body, and flexion motor pattern from your brain).

Extension + Flexion = Co-Contraction of everything

Now, this is a great way to increase total body tension, and is likewise a great example in irradiation.

“Wrapping” Up This Technique

Many of these “one weird tricks” are simply ways to improve strength from a neuromuscular pattern.

I hope you find this one specifically helpful, and if you do, please share, like, and/or comment.

This technique will help you feel tension throughout your whole body but it won’t add 100lbs to your bench press automatically (maybe it can take you from 0lbs to 100lbs, but not from 225 to 325lbs).

Long story short, that process of improved strength takes time, physiological time for your bones, muscles, and hormones to allow for adaptation! But this can definitely improve your ability to feel certain things kick on that you didn’t know could kick on, along with perhaps a 10, 15, or even 20lbs personal record!

As always,

Keep it funky.