If anyone has every met me and talked shop with me about training then they know I am a big lobbyist for deadlifting. If you haven't met me in real life then let me begin by saying "Hi, my name is Stevan and I am a 
pull-a-holic and the deadlift ruined my life." All kidding aside though I do love the deadlift and all its many variations. And because of this overwhelming love I feel for this lift I love finding evidence to support my love. Most recently I found a study published in the journal Archives of Physical and Medical Rehabilitation.

This study used electromyographic muscle activity measured in the paraspinals of the lumbar and thoracic erector spinae. The researchers compared EMG activity during six different exercises: a static supine bridge on a BOSU ball, a single leg body weight deadlift on a BOSU, a single leg bodyweight deadlift, a back extension, a lunge with 70% of 1RM, and a deadlift performed with 70% of 1RM. The comparisons showed that far and above the deadlift is much more effective for working the paraspinals. The lunge and back extension were next in line for highest levels of EMG activity. So clearly multi-joint exercises doen with moderate weight are much more beneficial then single joint bodyweight exercises.

This study means that the deadlift should be a staple exercise in anybody's training program who wishes to build a strong lower back, tight abdominal muscles, and remain injury free. Of course if you are some one who is experiencing lower back pain you must first achieve structural balance and functional balance, but once this has been a established the deadlift should be programmed to insure the back stays strong, healthy, and asymptomatic. 

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.
I had some time between clients this evening, so rather than read another article discussing the oncoming doom of the American economy I figured it would be much more fulfilling and productive to handout a few tips on how anyone can improve their deadlift performance.

1. Deadlift with picture perfect form.

-Your feet should be slightly narrower than shoulder-width apart, and the bar should be against your shins.
-Keep your chest tall, brace yourself using your abdominals (like preparing to take a punch), and sit back into position, arch the lower back as forcefully as possible while keeping your shoulder blades smashed together (like your pinching a pencil between them). From here I cue everyone to push their hips backwards until they can grab the bar, avoid any motion that resembles squatting down.
-Once you have gripped the bar, squeeze it like your mean to crush the metal while simultaneously squeezing your shoulders backwards and down. This allows you to engage the lats as well as activate the fascia which connects between the thoracic and lumbar spine increasing the spines stability. If done correctly one should feel quite a bit of tension in the hamstrings and up into the glutes.
-Be sure to keep your chin tucked in and look at a spot about 8 feet ahead of you on the floor, fixating on it for the remainder of the exercise.
The Pull
-Begin by keeping your elbows firmly locked and driving your weight into your heels and your heels into the floor. As you begin to pull the bar and ascend be sure that the hips and shoulders move in sync. Hips moving before the shoulders can have disastrous consequences.
-Once the bar has ascended past the knees all that is left to do is extend the hips and lock out the top position for the finish. This is done by firing your glutes and pushing your hips through to the wall in front of you.
The Descent
-For most this is the portion of the lift that seems to be the most difficult. Do not break your knees rather begin the descent by breaking at the hips. Begin by sitting back allowing the height to reside in the heel of the foot, while allowing the bar to slid down the front of your thighs.
-Do not lose the tight arch you have created in your lower back and don't allow the shoulders to pitch forward and round.

2. Pull Frequently and Heavy

Please do not take this tip out of context and begin lifting heavy every day of the freaking week. I simply mean that if you want to master the deadlift and become a much stronger deadlifter you need to maybe deadlift some.

In my opinion you should try and pull at least once per week. I also believe you must begin with a low-rep protocol somewhere between 1 and 6 reps. Strength in the beginning is associated with increase in the Central Nervous System's ability to recruit muscle fibers. Hence the reason why people see improvements very quickly in strength before body composition begins to change at all.

I hardly ever deadlift for more than five reps because anything more than that often results in terrible, unrecognizable form.

3. Take off your shoes

This recommendation comes on the heels of finishing the awesome book Born to Run which shines a great light on to the shoe industry and the sham that has been created regarding our footwear.

Without shoes you are about 3inches closer to the ground, which means thats 3inches less the bar must travel. By taking off your shoes it also allows you to pull more effectively through your heels and increase glute and hamstring recruitment.

Run. But these three tips should go a long way in helping your deadlift. I have a few more tips regarding the deadlift and for anyone who would like to have them please email me at sfreeborn7@gmail.com and I would be happy to pass the rest of the list along.
Being a personal trainer is an awesome job and I love everyday I am allowed to keep sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas about health, but there is one situation that being a personal trainer absolutely sucks, being introduced to someone you have never met before because more often than not I am introduced in some sort of fashion that resembles the following: “This is my good friend Stevan, he is a personal trainer”. Once this phrase has been uttered I can kiss my next 30 to 45 minutes goodbye because they will be spent answering this individuals every questions on how to achieve every want and desire regarding their physique. I also have to say that I experience this with women a lot more than men and most commonly the number one question I get is “I workout 5 days a week, but I still can’t get the bubble butt I want”. This is the point in the conversation where it often takes a turn for the worse because I have to make the decision to break it to this women that everything she has ever done is wrong and a waste of time, fracturing the individual’s psyche or allow this individual to keep living her delusion about how her workout is not the problem but her genetic make-up. For the majority of people I just don’t have the heart to break the news to them in person. So I figured I could break the news to all those out there at once about why they aren’t not obtaining the butt they desire.

FIrst because this issue is primarily a feminine issue let me direct you to stop reading all women fitness and health magazines immediately. No matter how much you believe you need the information they are peddling out you don’t I promise. The road to the butt you want begins with a very important realization there only exist a few things you can do to change the way you look. The word “tone” doesn’t exist in the world of fitness. I don’t know who coined this term but it is a load of bullshit! Stop using it and stop expecting it! You can do two things to a muscle and its cellular components make them bigger or smaller. The same goes as well for a fat cell you can make it bigger or smaller. You cannot alter the shape, elongate, or tone a muscle or anything close to it. This meaning that any woman wanting to improve their physical appearance and get a booty like Jessica Biel needs to have one focus build muscle and torch fat. It is that simple! I know this must be crazy talk because the last magazine article you read said you need to do three sets of ten on the glute blaster and hip abductor machines. C’mon get that crap out of your mind it is useless babble by an unqualified individual prescribing exercise. But I realize also some woman out there might be reading this scared to death because I used the phrase “building muscle”. Let me put your fears to bed for the final time regarding the issue of becoming a overly manly-looking female. I hate to break it to you guys but women do not possess the hormonal profile to produce mass gains the way a man does unless you are somehow being injected with testosterone without your knowledge. 

Now that we have established what one’s focus needs to be in order to get the butt they always desired let’s discuss some of the things you are doing that go against this focus and what you should be doing instead. First, most women are miss using strength training. Women do not need to be isolated away to the corners of the gym using three pound dumbbells and water bottles for weight. Strength training is called strength training for a reason the primary goal is to get stronger! Personally I have not ever understood why a woman wouldn’t want to get stronger (I guess it has something to do with the fear of turning into the hulk, but now we know that won’t happen so strength here we come). So throw this kind of strength training out of the windows ladies start lifting heavy for reps between 8 and 15. By doing this you challenge yourself and give your body a reason to make changes. I hate to say it but those curls done with three pound dumbbells aren’t going to make these necessary changes happen. Please do also forget the statement, no matter who told you, that high reps burn more fat or calories, heavy weight training burns far more calories than low weight high rep training could ever hope too. Remember also it is not about how many calories you burn during exercise it is about the amount of calories you burn in the 24 to 48 hours following exercise. Another reason why training heavier is superior because it boost your metabolic rate for a much longer period. Second you need to start focusing on the basic movements avoid selectorized machines. Learn the most fundamental compound movements, such as the military press, squat, or deadlift.

Lastly follow the rules of progressive overload in all your training. This goes back to the issue of getting stronger when a weight feels lighter bump the weight up. Progressively overload the muscle causing the muscle to respond with growth and strength increases.
If you make these changes to your workout regimen and incorporate a diet that is nutritionally sound full of fresh whole foods you will achieve those round firm glutes every girl wishes to have.