Today I want to discuss why we don’t start new people off with movements like the kb swing or clean. Normally when someone new starts they meet with me and go through a movement screen. You may have seen some people with colored wrist bands. They got them after they went through the screen and the bands indicate areas where they are not moving well and so are contra-indicated from doing certain movements or have to do a regressed version. (For more info on the screens read this article)
A good example is the pushup, most people, guys included don’t do pushups properly so I have you elevate your hands to a level where you can successfully do them.
With movements like the swing I want to make sure everyone understands how to maintain a “neutral spine”, i.e. no rounding or excessive arching of any part of the back. Either of those will likely cause back troubles when doing deadlifts or swings. As you improve your hip mobility, core stability and learn to move well we will progress you to deadlifts then swings and finally 2 handed high pulls.
Another exercise that most people aren’t ready for is the clean. I waited 3 weeks to teach it many of you and even then a few still weren’t ready for it. When performing the dead clean (pulling it off the floor), it is crucial to keep the torso and hips square. Any rotation of the back to twisting of the hips will lead to back problems.
To get the body ready to handle cleans is a bit tougher than for swings. The ability to prevent rotation is the key function of your obliques (side abs) and if your’s aren’t strong enough to prevent rotation or one side is stronger than the other you will have trouble with your back. The Bird Dog is one movement pattern that helps build strong obliques. As you practice them you need to be aware of any shifting of the back or hips, especially when transitioning from one side to the other. If you are able to stay straight you may need to do a leg only or arm only bird dog.
Much of the band attached exercises are designed to work on your obliques as well. One example is the Pallof press. You stand with feet hip width apart band parallel to your chest, both hands holding the band at your centerline while you extend both arms and bring them back in. The goal is to prevent the body from moving and keep the arms traveling in a straight line. The inability to do those things indicates a weakness. If you can do it one on side but not the other you have an imbalance which also need to be address.
Bottom line is don’t be in a rush to do some of the more advanced exercises. Trying to jump in before you are ready will get you injured!