I mentioned earlier that I’d picked up Becoming a Supple Leopard by Kelly Starrett, and in the past week or so I’ve really had the time to get into it and apply it to my own exercise as well as my clients’ programs. For me, it’s involved relearning how to do basic exercises like the squat and push up. One of the foundations of the method is the need to create torque when doing movements. The interesting thing to me is that the common ques mentioned in the book, such as “break the bar in half on the bench press”, are ones I’ve heard but never understood or done because they never made sense to me.
Starrett really breaks down why these ques are given and what the goals are – to create torque and stabilize joints. For instance, by creating torque in the bench press, you set and stabilize the shoulder joints when lifting. Since I’m very conscious about shoulder health, this had a real impact on me. This doesn’t just apply to the benchpress but even the basic movement of the push up.
You can see here that it takes a little bit more than just plopping down into push up position and coming up. I have to make sure that my glutes are engaged, I twist my hands into the ground to create the torque and stabilize my shoulder girdle, and then the hard part of coming down into the push up while keeping my forearms vertical. This really put all of the load into my chest and triceps – which really is what you want if you’re doing a push up.
The same principle of torque applies to squats.
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Here, you have to screw your feet into the ground, giving you the torque and stabilizing the hips. To create the proper torque, I have to keep my feet pointing forward. On pushing the hips back into squat position, my knees flare out to the side – which again goes back to old ques of “knees to the side, not over toes” which I never really understood.
Over all, it’s been an interesting process of re-learning the proper way to do exercises. The goal with all of this is to not only prevent pain and injury, but to develop better athletic performance. If you’re interested in learning more, pick up a copy of the book here.