personal training st. john's

Because I’m a powerlifter, it will come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of the deadlift, I even have my own personalised Deadlift bar. When it comes to hitting your entire posterior chain in one fell swoop, from your calves all the way to your upper back, the deadlift reigns supreme.

But what if I told you that you could build a strong posterior chain that will keep your deadlift strong with lifts that don’t require you to pull a heavy barbell off the floor?

To be clear, I’m not tossing the baby out with the bathwater: to get a strong deadlift you’re going to have to deadlift, and deadlift regularly.

But there are additional exercises that train the muscles of your posterior chain that don’t require you to place shear forces the spine.

I’m a big fan of adding in smaller movements because it introduces variety in your training while still hitting the muscles recruited in the competition lift, and more muscle mass helps move more weight. Building rear-wheel strength without loading the spine is a great way to do that without irritating your lower back.

Below are three of my favorite exercises to perform after you’ve completed your last deadlift set. And even if you’re not a powerlifter looking to score big on the platform, you can continue to improve strength in your posterior chain by adding these lifts into your exercise routine.

Barbell Glute Bridges

The glutes and hamstrings are major players in the deadlift and I love barbell glute bridges for building muscle in that area. You have the opportunity to target the hamstrings and glutes fairly exclusively, and because you’re lying down and pushing up on the barbell instead of pulling on it, you can work up to some serious weight.

The key to getting the most out of the barbell glute bridge is to turn your focus exclusively on your glutes. When you get into position, imagine you have a bowl of water sitting on your pelvis. Squeeze your glutes to lift your hips and tip the water into your belly button. Only raise your hips as high as your glutes fully contract —any higher and you’re getting into low-back territory and we don’t want that: for this we want to make it all about the butt.

Bodyweight Pull-Up

The deadlift is a heavy hitter for the lats. They play a key roll in stabilizing the spine and they also help keep the barbell pulled in close to the legs once it leaves the floor. Use pull-ups to target the lats from another angle, no barbell required.

Pull-ups can seem intimidating, but they don’t have to be. You can introduce assistance with bands or with our favorite variation at Movement Minneapolis, the Box-Assisted Pull-Up.

Here’s how to do them:

  • Place a box under a pull-up bar. Make sure it’s tall enough so that your chin clears the bar when you’re standing on it underneath the bar.
  • Stand on the box with your hands in an overhand grip on the bar, keeping one foot on the box and one foot off the side.
  • Slowly lower yourself down until your arms are fully extended and then use as much support as you need from the foot that is on the box to bring your chin back above the bar.

Suspension Trainer Face Pull

Face pulls target the muscles of the upper back, namely the rear delts, rhomboids, and external rotators. Strengthening these muscles will help with the lockout portion of the deadlift and beyond that, it’s a lift no client of mine escapes because it directly counteracts the poor posture many of us find ourselves acquire from being at a desk all day.

Hot tip: Don’t lead the movement with your chin. (In other words, no chicken-pecking.) Brace your abs, squeeze your glutes, and keep your chin tucked.

UP_JVB_Author_400About JVB

Jennifer Vogelgesang Blake’s leggings might be pink but her weights aren’t. A personal trainer at The Movement Minneapolis she is a powerlifting coach and competitor with a passion for helping her clients discover and grow their strength, inside and out. She’s here to spread the good word that strong is empowering and because of that, really, really fun.

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Tara Rector-Whelan

Personal Strength Training by Thomas King

I started at JKC after a good friend recommended it to me. She had been coming for about a year and I was envious of her great results. I felt sluggish after failing to motivate myself with various home workout routines. I love the fun and relaxed atmosphere at JKC. It’s such a comfortable gym space and I enjoy knowing so many of the people I work out with. Jon and Thomas make an effort to introduce everyone to each other and with all the joking around,  it starts to feel like a family. Not to mention the awesome results. I’ve always liked to run on a treadmill but I’ve never had the drive to lift weights on my own. Going to JKC makes me accountable which was what I really needed. I feel so much stronger and healthier than I did 4 years ago when I started.

log overhead press

I had tried JKC based on the recommendation of a parent of one of my students. I originally started by attending Saturday drop in classes. I was hooked. I decided to join full time when I I had taken a year off from teaching and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

First and foremost the trainers at JKC are extremely knowledgeable. I feel like they are as dedicated to my success as I am. The workouts are tailored to me, my skills and my goals. This is important. Jon and Thomas truly want the best for their clients no matter what level of fitness they are starting from. I also like being able to book a session at a time that suits my schedule. This also helps keep me accountable. Once the session is booked I am not likely to cancel!

I originally joined JKC because I was anxious about passing out and embarrassing myself since I hadn’t weight trained in a while and I’d hoped to find somewhere sympathetic. My husband @terry_hussey had been training at JKC and his success there made me miss the achievement you feel from a good workout. I went to meet Jon and immediately knew it was going to be a safe space for me. I was never judged for the fears I had and where I was starting from. Jon and Thomas made sure to check on me often, and found a way to challenge me but make me feel secure at the same time, and Terry and I were able to book sessions together, so working out became a shared win for us!

JKC is different from other gyms because of the personal growth you have outside JKC (the sessions inside JKC creates a great positive feedback loop!). You gain self confidence, learn how to show up for yourself, meet a community of newfound friends, and get the support of your trainers who are behind you 100%. I’ve left a scattered workout so proud of myself I’ve honestly shed a tear in the car on the drive home. JKC is the mental health relief valve I need to stay positive, and keep my anxiety and health related fears at bay.

I’ve always been a gym rat, but was getting tired of the same ol’ routine. My better half was attending JKC and encouraged me to try it out. My favourite part of JKC is that is isn’t a gym – it’s a community. Jon and Thomas are awesome, and I love that every time I go I know who’s working out with me and we can socialize while working on our health. Everyone is supportive, encouraging and genuinely looks out for one another. It’s an upbeat and positive experience and I can honestly say that I look forward to each and every workout.

I’ve always struggled with both my weight and anxiety throughout my life. As a writer you live a pretty sedentary lifestyle filled with both realistic and unrealistic deadlines, so I needed something to get me off my butt and to get me moving. JK has been a godsend during this past year and a half in particular. The pandemic has been tough, but workouts with both Thomas and Jon have really helped reduce the stress and strain of a global pandemic, and added an anchor of normalcy back into my life — which has been worth its weight in gold.

JKC has created an incredibly inclusive environment that’s filled with all kinds of supportive folks from all kinds of different backgrounds. For folks like myself, being surrounded by people with such athletic ability can be intimidating in most gyms. It can actually be a deterrent, and it sometimes has been for me. But, at JKC it’s far from that — it’s inspirational. Everyone supports one another. Which is something that’s not easily found in this day and age, inside of a gym or out. Not to sound like a total cheeseball here, but it really feels like a family.

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