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10 Awesome Strength Training Tips

Being a good coach is about more than what you learn in books.  It is about gaining experience and applying these lessons learned into the programming for your clients and athletes.  Because actually training athletes for years and getting under the bar yourself, will provide you with techniques and ‘exceptions’ you will never learn by reading a book.  Yes, knowledge is important.  I read strength training books, the latest scientific research publications, and athletic preparation materials every week.  But you must be able to combine proven training methods and science with real-world experience.  You will get the best results in the shortest amount of time and have the greatest potential for keeping your clients injury-free. #alwaysbeastudent

I can honestly say that my real education as a coach began after I was done at school. In the trenches experience combined with attending seminars, conferences, and clinics at some of the biggest facilities in US – Cressey Performance, DeFranco’s Gym, Mike Boyle’s, Westside Barbell and many others. This is what led to Joe DeFranco and I creating the best certification for personal trainers and coaches in the world – the CPPS certification.

Over the years, I’ve picked up many tips to help me and my athletes train better. Here are some big winners.

10 Real-World Strength Training Tips

Tip #1:  You throw a little body english into your curls at the end of the set?  So what!  Yes as fatigue sets in, you start ‘cheat curling’.  No big deal, it’s not like you’re NOT working your biceps.  Just be careful with your low back position on the finish and don’t hyperextend.  Keep your chest up and your shoulders back.

Tip #2:  Don’t rock on box squats!  Beginner lifters should maintain tension throughout the lift.  ‘Unlocking’ the hips for advanced lifters is typically interpreted by them as loosening the core and collapsing on the box.  Keep full body tension and ‘touch and go’ on the box.  Oh yeah, don’t crash the box either.

Tip #3:  Don’t have a prowler?  Just put a 45 lb plate on the gym floor – smooth side down – and drive that across the floor.  Stay as low as possible, pick up your lungs at the finish line.  This is great for super setting with lunges or RDL’s or as part of a conditioner at the end of the workout.

Tip #4:  Warm-ups are a great time for a challenge.  In fact, challenges should be thrown in throughout the workout to push the pace and the intensity.  When you challenge each athlete against one another, they will forget that are they are even warming up or training.  For today’s workout, the athletes were challenged to hit 20 perfect push-ups in the warm-up.  They were judged on breathing, tension, body position and technique.  We then made each exercise in the warm-up into a competition, which forced them to become hyper-focused.  It insured that each exercise was done with strict adherence to form. (see AMPED Warm-up)

Tip #5:  Want to immediately improve your push-ups?  Try imagining you are squeezing a piece of paper under each armpit while performing them.  This incredibly simple tip will improve tension, create more stability in the shoulder and tighten the upper back and lats.

Tip #6:  Yes, strongman training is awesome.  Loaded carries (movement under tensionsee Chaos Manual), breathing under tension, mental toughness, full body lifts that develop serious intermuscular coordination, strength and power.  I cycle it in periodically and I love it.  But be careful.  Nothing is going to jack you up like a yoke that you stumble with, a heavy stone that tweaks a bicep, or a farmers walk that you pick up or set down wrong.  Be smart.  It isn’t for every athlete or most weekend warriors.

Tip #7:  Skip the treadmill after your workout and go do some grip training.  Back when we started, we were known for grip training.  Incorporating grip into our workouts hasn’t changed.  If your grip is weak, you will be weak.  Towel training, Fat Gripz, thick bar / axle, high rep kb swings, grippers, two hand pinch, levering, and everything else.  Do it.

Tip #8:  When grip is the delimiting factor, use straps.  Why compromise your RDL’s because you can’t hold the bar.  You wouldn’t skip using straps for power shrugs or heavy shrugs would you?  What about snatch grip deadlifts?  Heavy rows?  Use straps when you need them and they will really help you to focus on the exercise and not have to worry about losing the weight.  More control = more tension = more adaptation.

Tip #9:  Everything is breathing and breathing is everything.  Just by learning how to breathe better and deeper, you will decrease the resting tone of your muscles and improve your core stability.  Utilizing better breathing will help to improve your posture and open up your potential for better movement.

Tip #10:  For pressing movements, trying anchoring yourself into the ground by gripping the floor with your toes. Then squeeze your quads, then the glutes and then the lats.  This simple irradiation technique I learned when doing the RKC.  It is HUGE for creating lots of full body tension – linking the lower body across into the upper body – and create a strong foundation to press from.

If you enjoyed this article, check out 7 Simple Tips for Building More Muscle

By on July 29th, 2012

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Comments (12)

  1. Posted by - Chris Matsui on July 29, 2012

    Great tips that everyone can use! Some overlook the little things such as positioning and #9-breathing. Keep up the great posts and are you going to the FST Level on in Aug?

    • Posted by - Smitty on July 31, 2012

      Might have to miss this one bro. Hopefully hit up the AZ one.

  2. Posted by - Conor on July 30, 2012

    Those are some cool tips Smitty. Thanks!

    • Posted by - Smitty on July 31, 2012

      Thanks Conor.

  3. Posted by - Grant Lofthouse on July 30, 2012

    Nice Smitty. Tip #4 & 8 really hit home for me.

    • Posted by - Smitty on July 31, 2012

      Thanks Grant!

  4. Posted by - NPTI FItness on August 3, 2012

    These are the best tips. I think all person who love exercise must follow these tips in to their daily work out. I start to follow these tips from today onwards. Thanks for sharing these best tips.

  5. Posted by - Lirone Segal on October 23, 2012

    Great tips, loved the prowler modification and the grip exercises, talking about training economy…

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