My brain works like in the movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Except instead of mathematics and hallucinations, all I can see relates back to strength training.
I’ll be at the mall with my family, assessing random people’s posture, how they position their feet, how they pick things up, all of it. And of course, I watch all of my athletes compete in their chosen sports: Football, Basketball, Wrestling, Swimming too.
I pay attention to every move because that’s what it takes to build strong athletes.
There are a few movements and positions that I always prioritize. Above all, you’ll hear me coaching to keep a flat back on everything from picking up a 20-pound dumbbell to ripping a 400-pound deadlift. But as a Coach, I know this – Nothing is absolute in sports and competition.
There is NO such thing as a perfect world, or a perfect competition where each part of the body will always be in perfect position. Understanding that is key. How do you program for an athlete that WILL eventually get put into an “Oh shit!” body position?
Through many years of experience, I’ve learned that, even when a position is technically dangerous, we CAN strengthen that athlete both mentally and physically. In the imperfect position, we can reduce chances of injury, doubt, fear, and failure. This is why I love to use odd objects in my training. They put you into many different awkward positions when done properly, but they also require you to remain tight and stable during every inch of every repetition.
Don’t miss Zach on Episode 104 of Barbell Shrugged.
This is very important to understand – A loose round-back position is much different than a tight round-back position. The key is to train the body and mind to have strength and confidence in that awkward position. I train the round back through lifting odd objects off the ground.
My absolute favorite implements are stones of every size and shape, large medicine balls, sandbags and really big tires. Here’s a little sample of what it all looks like.
Train under imperfect conditions.
It’s important to build big and strong athletes, but they also have to understand just how and why they need to be strong in awkward positions. The secret is to emphasize that the best starting position is always a flat back, using legs and back together to lift, hips down and chest tall.
This is the starting point, but that said, not everyone is ready for sandbags, tire flips, keg carries, stone shouldering and loading. Not everyone has the requisite strength to keep tight and round. In short, you have to EARN the right to perform these exercises by building a strong, flat back first.
Here are my staple movements:
- Deadlifts of all types. The more variation, the better.
- Clean and press variations with barbells, but also dumbbells, kettlebells and even stones. Make time to use 1-arm.
- The more back extensions and glute-ham raises you accumulate, the better.
- Heavy rowing with free weights, particularly supinate barbell rows.
Your typical ass-kicking strength workout from Zach.
When you begin implementing odd objects that push the body into awkward positions, cycle them in and out of training to avoid the overuse of a rounded back.
As a general rule, push your training for about 3 weeks. Make all the progress you can. Then, take a break for a week and switch to another object. The key is to be strong and bulletproof when the shit hits the fan, NOT to crush yourself in training.
That will only result in injury and shitty results, believe me.
Always fight to keep your back flat. But, when the time comes to fight and compete, be prepared and capable of pushing the limits.
If you have questions just leave them in the comments below. I’d love to help you get stronger.
Live the code,
To learn more…
- Make sure to visit Zach’s site right HERE. You should also check out UndergroundStrengthGym.com, his gym is the best.
- Connect with Zach on Instagram and Twitter.
- The Underground Strength Book…Highly recommended.
For more great articles from Zach Even-esh…