6 Back Stretches/Exercises You Need To Be Doing.

By: Jared Blincow, CSCS, Strength Coach LIFT Chicago

The average person spends eight hours of their day sitting at a desk only to get home and sit on the couch watching tv, surfing the internet, or scrolling through their phone. This daily pattern can wreak havoc on your posture and is a popular culprit for a number of different injuries and might be the source of your chronic pain.

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The “rounded shoulders” (shown on the left) look is caused by a reduction in thoracic spine mobility and can affect both the shoulders and the lower back. When we lose mobility in our thoracic spine we have to compensate somewhere else on the body, which typically occurs at the lower back. These compensated movement patterns force joints that aren’t meant to be mobile to be mobile, and that can be a recipe for disaster. Chronic shoulder and neck pain can also be linked to poor thoracic spine mobility.

Poor thoracic spine mobility forces the shoulders to make up for the decrease in range of motion and can force them into precarious and unsafe positions. Pre and post workout mobility/stretching sessions done on a consistent basis can put you back on the road to success, here’s some of the best thoracic spine mobility movements everyone can benefit from:

 

1.     Side Lying Open Books

-Focus on keeping the knee down during this movement while actively pulling yourself open. The ultimate goal is to open up and have both shoulders touching the floor but only go as far as your mobility will allow you. Less mobile individuals might have to set their knee up on a foam roller in order to maintain contact with the ground.

2.     Bench T-Spine Extensions w/ PVC Pipe

-Great stretch for both the thoracic spine and the lats. Slightly flex the lumbar spine for a deeper lat stretch 

3.     Quadruped Rotations

-Make sure you are sitting back on your heels while doing these quadruped rotations. This will lock in the lumbar spine and ensure that you are rotating through your thoracic spine and not the lower back

4.     Bretzel

-Try and relax into this position. Think long, deep breaths (5 seconds in) and a long exhale (10 seconds out) and sink deeper into the stretch after each exhale. 5-10 breaths on each side.

5.     Barbell Opener

-This looks like a passive stretch but think about actively pulling yourself into this movement through the upper back and shoulders for a more effective stretch. Change grips (narrow/wide) for different variations

6.     Foam Roller OH Wall Extensions

-Actively press your arms into the foam roller as you extend your arms upward and finish with your head through your arms. Think about finishing with your biceps right by your ears. 

Questions about anything you read above or what we do at LIFT? Leave a comment below!

7 Benefits to having a Strength Coach/Personal Trainer 

It’s educational. Sessions are much more than you just working out. You gain knowledge of what to do, how to do it, and how it benefits your health and fitness. You learn the most important things you need to concentrate on to be most successful and what things are fitness myths that are very irrelevant. Education is going to help you focus on your goals and develop a strategy to get there.

They perfect your form. Don’t think it’s that important? We correct form on nearly every exercise with every client every single day. Keeping clients safe is a huge priority for us which means we pay ridiculous attention to the very small details of every exercise. Stop asking yourself, “Is my deadlift form correct?” We are here to fix it!

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They tailor workouts to you. Good coaches work around your experience, skill level, abilities, restrictions, and injuries to give you YOUR perfect program. Many people ask, “Should I exercise with injuries?” The answer is yes. Very rarely is any client perfectly capable...we know that. If you’ve had chronic injuries, pain, or recently had surgery, our coaches design a program to get you better stronger, and hopefully pain free.

They hold you accountable. You know when you tell yourself you’re going to get up early and workout before work it really turns into you hitting your alarm and falling back asleep. When you set an appointment with a coach/trainer you are way more likely to go because they are there expecting you. They will also call your ass out if you’re slacking. We all know accountability works, you just need to take the first step.

Set realistic goals. Many people want to achieve their fitness goals very quickly. If it were that easy no one would struggle to get to their goals. We help you set a solid yet realistic timeline of achieving your goals. We aren’t here to blow smoke, or inflate your ego. We are here to be honest and get you where you want to be.

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Save time, be efficient. When’s the last time you went to the gym and walked around aimlessly for an hour and a half without getting much done? That doesn’t happen here. We set the pace, guide you through every step of the session, while making it super effective and efficient for you. Science tells us we don’t need to be exercising for hours on end. Short, but intense bottles of exercise will do wonders for our schedule, lives, and fitness goals.

Helps you form great habits. Having a solid coach or trainer can significantly snowball into other good habits in your life. For example, after training you will probably not want to waste that workout so you will consume a fairly healthy meal. Since you eat healthy you’ll probably sleep better, and wake up with more energy to train again. Coaches can also give you insight into things they have done to improve making exercise a habit and ease any worries you may have.

Just like anything else in your life you want to excel in, a coach is always a good idea to ensure you are on the right path to your goals.






5 SMARTER WAYS TO TRAIN YOUR ARMS 

If you have ever train here at LIFT you may have noticed we don’t always directly train the arms because compound lifts (just a fancy word for 2 or more joints) are more efficient for our clients. Having said that, we do believe there are benefits to hitting the arms when programmed correctly.

Benefits:

Improve compound lifts

Improve shoulder health

Improve arm growth

Thinking about how you program arm training can do wonders to consistent and sustainable growth. Here is what we like to consider…

What days?

We suggest including direct arms into 2-3 days of training. Doesn’t have to be a lot, but the frequency of stimulus will help. We like having them on both of my upper days and then on a little on my circuit day before lower. Ensuring you give adequate rest will keep you feeling good and able to continue training long term.

Clean Up Technique.

Mastering the move and doing it properly will increase the overall effectiveness of each rep. Sloppy reps, will require way more volume to produce the same impact on the muscle.

Less Warm-up.

Stop wasting time and energy on warming your arms up…they don’t need that much. Think about having more intense sets in the actual training session. Save the energy, work harder during those few sets.

Growth vs Maintenance.

Designate certain days to be more intense and other days to be less intense. Maybe go heavier and more intense early in the week and less intense later in the week. A common mistake in any training is always working to near failure. It doesn’t ALWAYS have to happen. In fact, we feel training to failure should happen way less than not doing so.

Your Exercises.

Choose exercises with a greater loading potential and ones that feel good on your body. Stable exercises will be better than unstable for arm growth because you have a more loading potential. If there are exercises you see online, but feel like shit when you do them, adjust and find new ones.

Let us know if this helps or if you have questions in the comments below!