Over the years there have been a number of things we’ve heard repeatedly in the fitness industry. And sometimes there is no basis to these statements other than the fact they have been repeated enough times and they are accepted as truth.
For example, ‘eat small frequent meals throughout the day to stimulate your metabolism’ is one that comes to mind. You’ve heard this before I’m sure. But where is the scientific research that backs this claim? If anything maybe what happens is we end up eating frequent meals throughout the day. Just not small meals. And thus the supposed benefit is lost.
Let’s look at another example.
How about ‘no pain, no gain’? Everyone has heard this and we all know there is no truth to it. Further we could actually turn this upside down and say ‘no pain, all gain’.
So where I am going with all this? Well this past weekend we were down to Seattle for a clinic with Eric Cressey. Eric is a Boston-based strength coach with that works with a number of major league baseball players. And he is considered an expert when it comes to all things related to the shoulder and training.
And he was sharing some things that may would challenge what many trainers and strength coaches believe and have been taught. With that in mind here are 3 of the Basics – Done Wrong.
Basic #1 Done Wrong – Do Yoga Push Ups
I’ll wait a minute while you rub your eyes and re-read that last statement. Yes, I am advocating yoga push ups. Now before you all load up and throw your lululemons at me let me clarify.
I am saying yoga push ups may be a good idea. And here’s why.
With most bench pressing the shoulder blades can get stuck in place on the bench and aren’t allowed to move and lift as they should do during a press. As well, when the hips pike up and the head drops this allows the shoulders to go into a position of flexion with the hands on the ground. With the hands on the floor you can try and push the floor away which helps activate the core, provide more stability and lends to more stability at the shoulder joint.
Basic #2 Done Wrong – Maybe Fewer Rows
When someone has had a history of shoulder problems and is known to bench press every time they enter the gym the tunnel vision cure may be to add in some more rowing motions.
And this would make sense depending on the posture of the individual. However without considering the starting point of the individual’s posture and anatomy they may put more stress on the shoulder depending the on the mechanics they use. In particular we want to make sure the shoulder isn’t driving forward as the arms are pulled back during the row. If they are another solution may be needed rather than extra rows.
Basic #3 Done Wrong – Get Your Shoulders Down & Back
This may be a case of the message coming in loud and clear. Maybe too loud and clear. Over the years we have repeatedly said how we need to cue clients to get their shoulder blades down and back. And it appears, with some clientele, this may not be what we want to encourage.
Instead for some clients we may want to encourage them to use their upper traps (imagine me ducking under a bench as the fitness community gasps in horror). We want the scapula (shoulder blades) to move over the rib cage. And as we flex the shoulder, like raising your arm overhead in front of the body, this can be impaired if we have over-trained trying to get the shoulders down and back.
The combined effect we see is limited mobility and more of the tension of a movement being assumed by fewer muscles or sometimes the wrong muscles all together. Our goal is to achieve full mobility and to have loads distributed by as many of the relevant muscles as possible.
Basically the take home message, from Eric’s presentation, is to understand that no two shoulders are the same and cannot be trained in the same way. My take-away is that some of the things we have believed as gospel need to be considered in a case by case scenario and perhaps reconsidered in certain cases.