This week's exercise of the week is a Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift. I thought that since I introduced an anterior focused exercise last week this week I would shed some light on one of my favorite exercises for developing the posterior chain. There is some discussion circulating about what a proper Romanian Deadlift (RDL) looks like, but in my opinion the biggest difference between an RDL and a conventional deadlift is the limited knee flexion and increased focus on the hip hinge. I love this exercise because it works well as an initial starting point for teaching one to find there hips and bend through their hips rather than their lumbar spine.

The RDL is a versatile exercise that can be done in a variety of positions, environments, and loaded with a number of different modes. I prefer to start people off with a dumbbell variation because it allows the individuals to manipulate the load out of their way when they extend their hips at the top of the movement.

To properly perform an RDL you want to begin standing upright with your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line with the spine in a neutral position. You want to maintain the neutral spine position throughout the entire exercise. Begin the movement my slightly flexing the knees once this position is assumed do not flex the knee any further. The rest of the exercise's motion should come from the flexion of the hips, think about driving your butt towards the wall behind you. As your hips flex backwards the dumbbells should migrate from the sides of your legs to the front of your body remaining close to your legs as you flex your hips. When the bottom position is reached you should feel a tight stretch in your hamstrings. Once you have maxed out your hip flexion range of motion. Initiate the the concentric part of the movement by  extending the hips forward and squeezing the glutes. Remember to extend the knees as well and finish standing upright once again. This concentric motion should appear as if you are humping the air in front of you.
Remember that your range of motion will not be as great when you begin using the exercise in your program. But slowly over time with proper hip mobility drills one should be able to increase their range of motion drastically. Focus on moving through hips rather than reaching for the floor. This is not an exercise focused on the lower back, but rather on practicing proper hip hinge patterning and development of the glutes and hamstrings.

I recommend using this exercise once a week atleast focusing on movement quality over load. Once your proficiency has increased then begin placing increased loads throughout the movement. Variations of this exercise are numerous so if this doesn't quite work for you chances are there is a variation out there that better suits your physiology.
It's been awhile since I shared my training session with everyone (the two people who stop by just to laugh) so since summer school is over and I have plenty of time to fit in some blogging I thought I'd share what I have planned for this afternoon.

AMMP (activation, mobility, movement prep)
-Foam Roller Series x 6 rollls apiece
-Plank x 20s FP 10s SP x 1set
-Glute Bridge w/March x 6reps per leg x 1set
-Clamshell x 12reps x 1set
-RDL Movement x 10reps x 1set
-Standing Hip External Rotation x 10reps x 1set
-Shin Grab/Frwd Lunge/Elbow to Instep/Hip Lift/Thor. Mob x 15yds x 1set
-Walking Quad/Rvrs Lunge/Twist x 15yds x 1set
-A-Skip x 20yds x 1set
Core Stability
-A1 -> Landmine Kneeling Anti-Rotation x 6reps/side
-A2 -> Hanging Leg Raise x 8+reps
-A3 -> Get-Up Sit-Up x 10reps
*4 rounds done with minimal rest
-Battling Ropes x 20sec
-Med-Ball Slam x 10reps
*12 rounds
-Foam Roller x 12 rolls apiece
Goal setting is absolutely crucial to progress, doesn't matter whether we are talking in the realm of strength and conditioning or fiance and economics. Goals define everything! They determine the rhyme and reason for every action you take. For example if you have a financial goal to say one hundred dollars a month for twelve months this goal would decide every purchase you made for the next twelve months.  But so often I find no one has goals and if they do they are general, vague, and non-measurable. This is absolutely catastrophic because if one has NO GOALS then one has NO PLAN because simple logic tells us the plan is suited toward the goal. Even when I meet someone that does state their goals it is to vague and general usually along the lines of "get more fit" or "be stronger". While I think its great that at least these individuals are considering and contemplating their goals these such examples give no direction or guidance. Perhaps Lewis Carroll put it in a more eloquent way:
Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
The Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to
Alice: I don't much care where.
The Cat: Then it doesn't much matter which way you go.
To solve this issue I see plaguing the average fitness enthusiast I want to provide you with the definition of a good goal as well as the process in which one can move through to develop excellent goals.

1. A Goal should be specific.
A properly stated goal should be specific to the event, body part, exerces, etc. that one wishes to improve upon. The stated goal should both identify what is to be changed or obtained and the specific change one is making to the what.

2. A Goal should be realistic and attainable.
Now I know what your all thinking "I can do anything I set my mind to!". While I love the attitude I believe it is an asset to be realistic and practical. I mean if you have four kids, work forty hours a week, and maintain a household chances are spending two hours at the gym, while a respectable goal, is not the most realistic or attainable goal. But perhaps for someone with such a lifestyle a more realistic goal would be getting to the gym five days a week. You see for goals to be beneficial you must accomplish them and to be able to accomplish them its important you take into consideration all competing demands in your world.

3. A Goal should be measurable.
This one goes hand in hand with number one. The specific goal allows for measurement, for tracking. If you cannot measure your progress towards a goal then you can not determine if what you are doing is furthering your quest for the goal or if you need to make an adjustment. For example I here a common goal among most of my clients that is something along the lines of "wanting to be fitter." While this sounds like a great goal its actually really shitty for two reasons. Number one being its too vague, which we talked about earlier. Number two its not measurable. I mean what does it mean to be fitter, how do you define "fitter". For some it might be body-fat percentage. For others it may be a pound to pound ratio on the deadlift or improvement in one's VO2 max. You see for the goal to be measurable it has to be clear cut and defined with some kind of empirical quality attached that can be tracked and measured, allowing for progress reports and feedback as to how you are moving along without such a definition one is hopelessly pursuing a endless task.

Next time you begin to brainstorm new goals whether it be in the world of health and fitness or not try to ask yourself is the goal specific, realistic, attainable, and measurable. If you define your goals using these four qualities it will allow you to devise a much more prudent, practical, and purposeful plan.
Time for the third installment into the series of "Stuff to Read". I haven't got any feedback in the way of comments as to if any of my links are helping those looking for answers, but I hope that it is benefiting someone in someway. If you would like to request a particular topic you would like to know more about that I can either write about myself or link you to an article discussing this topic please leave your suggestion in a comment below other wise enjoy this weeks "Stuff to Read".

Working Out When You Don't Really Want to Work Out by Dean Somerset

Here is an excellent blog post from Mr. Somerset in which he talks about his own struggle to fit in training during a short vacation and his victory over an overwhelming amount of baked goods. In all seriousness it discusses an awesome topic that I think every individual can relate to please give it a look see.

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 12 by Eric Cressey

This is a great series of post that focuses on tips and helpful advice to improve one's everyday level of health, which is the big picture for all fitness professionals. In this particular installment Coach Cressey gives an excellent tip about mixing protein powder with cold coffee which I tried immediately and loved it.

The Death of Muscle Building by Jason Ferruggia

A rant unlike any other provided to you by the renegade nation leader himself. Mr. Ferruggia brings focus to a issue that bothers many coaches and trainers alike. This issue being the invasion of training by research lab monkeys. Don't get me wrong research is great, but more and more I here people questioning techniques because there is not enough empirical evidence to support a why for the results this technique produces. Jason, and I agree, argues that sometimes the why doesn't matter as long as the what is getting excellent results.
This post marks the first installment of a series of videos titled "Exercise of the Week". This will be a weekly series demonstrating a particular exercise and discussing the benefits of the exercise.

Exercise selection can make training fun and versatile as well as take a great training program and make it excellent. My goal with this series is to increase as many individuals library of exercises and their knowledge of their techniques and focus.

To kick off the series I am introducing one of my favorite squat variations that I find myself using again and again with clients as well as in my own programming. The goblet squat is the ideal movement for all individuals to move on to once the bodyweight squat has been mastered, This is because the load in the goblet squat is placed in the front of the body forcing the individual to maintain proper spine placement or they will fall forward. In doing this it teaches them to brace their anterior abdominal muscles to stabilize the neutral spine position. But unlike the front squat which places the load in a very unstable and uncomfortable position resting across the shoulders the goblet squat allows the individual to hold the load with their hands and allow the load to be supported by the elbows being forced together. Putting the load in this position also aids in teaching proper squat mechanics because it allows one to sit back with their hips and keep their weight in their heels without worrying about toppling over because the weight acts as a counter weight which balances the shift in the individuals center of gravity.

Below is the demonstration video which shows the correct goblet squat movement and provides directions in performing it. But to note a couple side coaching cues I would like to stress that the weight should stay at chin level with the elbows tucked in do not allow the weight to descend toward your stomach and your elbows to flare out. Also while in the bottom position of the squat I would suggest sliding your elbows just inside your knees and giving a slight push out against them. This serves two purposes one it makes you get to proper depth and two it acts as a great stretch for both the hip adductors and flexors.
Many studies have demonstrated an inverse relationship between fatigue and performance of any task, specifically the coordination with which one performs the task is seriously affected. This idea has serious implications regarding anyone who is working towards specific performance based goals i.e. throwing a football or baseball, high jumping, swinging a bat, etc.

Coordination is essentially a mental skill that is executed by finely tuned cues from the nervous system. This skill plays a crucial role in any movement because it is an individuals level of coordination that separates an excellent performance from an average performance. Leading us to the conclusion that fatigue hinders performance because fatigue affects coordination directly. This conclusion I see has three implications.

1. Having skill under fatigue is definitely a skill in itself. This being the primary reason for the types of training that are employed by our military branches. Soldiers are pushed to and beyond their fatigue thresholds and forced to perform activities that require high levels of focus and coordination. Placing individuals in such situations leads to the development of the ability to perform under incredible fatigue

2. While learning a new movement or motor skill it is crucial that all factors involving fatigue must be eliminated from the equation. If fatigue can hinder coordination and thus one's performance then fatigue will hinder the way one learns a movement leading to compensations and dysfunction in the particular movement. By eliminating stress and fatigue we insure the movement is learned correctly and safely.

3. If you improve your fitness level fatigue will play a smaller factor in affecting your performance.

While fatigue is necessary to adapt be sure to apply stress and fatigue at the appropriate time and in the appropriate manner. Avoid placing fatigue on yourself whenever taking on a new exercise, movement pattern, or sport rather focus on executing the movement with precision and clarity.
This makes the second installment of a series I started last week which is founded on the idea that the problem most face when deciding the proper way to attack their health and fitness goals is that their is too much bullshit floating around making it difficult for those seeking the actual truth to find it. In response to this dilemma I want to offer articles, videos, and people that I believe to be creditable and valuable sources of information. Ideas that I myself find helpful and useful. My hope is that if I can share enough information through my own site as well as directing people to other prominent sources many individuals will come to have their questions answered.

This installment has three recommended articles. Two are directed toward any and all readers alike, while the third article discusses the position of a strength and conditioning coach and is oriented to fitness professionals more specifically.

Does Everyone Need to Squat?
by Tony Gentilcore

This is a kickass article discussing one of the most continually discusses and debated topics in the fitness industry "Should you squat?". This article does a great job of exploring the many reasons why one should squat and how one might go about initiating the squatting process.

The Paradox of the Strength and Conditioning Professional by Rob Panariello

This is a great article for anyone who is currently practicing as a fitness professional. Rob Panariello does an excellent job discussing how much responsibility a S and C coach is given and yet how many question the manner in which he deals with the responsibility of training his particular athletes. Though it reads much more like an academic piece of literature it is informative and thought provoking nonetheless. 

6 Primo Pressing Permutations by Ben Bruno

Great article that offers some excellent exercises to incorporate to anyone's training program. Any of theses six might be just the thing you need to renew the spice in a suddenly dull program.
To those wearing weight belts please stop god gave you your own internal weight belt use it, develop it.

To those spending 30mins foam rolling and stretching prior to the workout please stop its called a warm-up meaning it should not constitute the bulk of your training session.

To those pretending to eat healthy and blaming their lack of progress on their training please stop putting those morning pop tarts in your mouth.

To those sitting at home on tuesday evenings watching the biggest loser please stop criticizing individuals who are attempting to make a positive change in their life no matter how much drama they may start.

To those individuals who love to pack fifteen forty-five pound plates on to the leg press and show off your 6-inch leg press please stop leaving your fifteen plates on the leg press.

To those who believe one methodology is the only methodology for training please stop talking before I place my fist in your mouth.

To those eating six pounds of red meat everyday and one tomato every week please stop claiming to be a practicing the paleo diet.

To all those who are eating properly, training correctly, and sleeping more than eight hours a day please stop showing off! Haha just kidding people! Keep doing what your doing and let others know how good it makes you feel.

I am often baffled time and time again, month after month watching the same 60 to 80 regulars who make their weekly 4 or 5 visits to the gym yet I observe no progress. Their body composition remains constant and the amount of weight lifted for each exercise seems to never change whether lighter or heavier. I am astounded by this because I cannot fathom dedicating so much time and effort into a commitment yet never see a return from my labors. I have spent a lot of time pondering this conundrum and I believe I have a very simple yet profound answer to these individuals lack of advancement. This profound answer being the following statement:


I know I know this seems like a neanderthal's explanation, but before you move on and read the next blog hear me out for a few more paragraphs. This truly is the wall that stands between you and your goals. You simply are not willing to push your body to and past it's existing threshold for fatigue, which is an absolute requirement for growth, strength, and alteration of body composition. The reason for this failure to drive oneself forward is because it requires passion for your goals. It requires the willingness to suffer all pains and fight ahead toward the brighter lights. Yet many shy away from this necessary ingredient because it takes an effort above that of walking into the gym and doing three sets of ten on the bicep curl. It requires performing squats, deadlifts, and farmer's walks on a regular basis. It means driving yourself to grind out heavy sets and finish each workout with proper foam rolling and mobility work. The truth is that it takes more to reach one's goals than most are willing to give.

But if you are someone who is willing to give all they have toward your commitment. If you are willing to go for the ninth and tenth rep even when you'd rather quick at eight, then I promise you that you will be one of the few who does achieve their ultimate goals. Remember when that little voice inside is crying out for you to set the weight down and terminate the set that is the moment when you grab that little voice by the neck and silence it continue the set and move on to the next set. I'll end this blog with some sage advice given to me by my own coach:

"Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable."
I would say about an hour out of every day I spend reading or watching material from other professionals in the training business to try and continuously broaden my knowledge as well as develop ideas for programming and coaching. I run across many helpful articles any videos that not only are useful to me as a trainer, but would be helpful to all those looking for better ways to train. I'd like to start trying to share some of these helpful materials on a regular basis so here goes my first three things that you must read.

The Busy Trap by Tim Kreider
This is a fantastic article about the all to inefficient busy lives we live and how this is something we have voluntarily inflicted upon ourselves in an effort to somehow increase the importance of our lives. Please read if may open your eyes to some big mistakes you are making with your current schedule.

20 Things I've Told Clients that Made Me Seem Crazy by Dean Somerset
Very funny article but also very realistic because it addresses the big picture of health and why going to the gym and eating healthy means you are a health god. Health encompasses a wide range of issues and has many dimensions that can be considered.

Kneeling Overhead Press to Standing by Tony Gentilcore
Article that discusses a great exercise that everyone should be using or working toward using. Tony Gentilcore does an excellent job demonstrating and discussing the benefits. Remember this exercise is slightly toward the advance end of the spectrum and should be done only by those with enough motor control and core stability to perform properly.