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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I originally chose JKC to help me rehab following back surgery. JKC was the first gym where a trainer took the time to help me identify my goals and tailor my workouts to achieve them in a safe and doable manner. 🏋🏼 Jon & Thomas are both highly professional and knowledgeable. 👨🏼‍🎓 With their guidance and informative explanations 🗣 they have enabled me to reach my ever evolving goals. At JKC I’m guaranteed fun 😆, interesting 🙃 and diverse workouts, with Jon & Thomas forever supportive and encouraging. 👏🙌👍👊

trap bar deadlift

A few of my wonderful friends and colleagues recommended JKC. I was told by one colleague that “It’ll be the best thing you ever do for yourself” and she was right! To be honest, I didn’t have much experience in any gym setting. And NO prior weight training experience. It was always so overwhelming! But from the first day, nothing was intimidating about JKC. Each workout is set up just for me, and with my specific skills and goals in mind. There are no stupid questions, you learn as you go, and what I really love, I always feel included and important, regardless of my skills/experience.

I heard somewhere that achieving your health goals is determined largely by what you do in the kitchen. I am grateful to have found Julia who brought direction and accountability to this most important piece for me. Having Julia in my corner has brought me confidence and certainty that I am on my way to achieving my goals. I highly recommend her if you are serious about making a change and feeling better about your health.

I recently visited Newfoundland for one month, and was looking for a good place to train while I was there. Jon and the team at JK conditioning really took the time to assess what I already knew, and set achievable goals for the time that I had with them. The gym was such a great place to push yourself. It had everything you needed, but more importantly it had a well organized, very knowledgeable, and really motivating group of trainers to push you at each workout. Not to mention a really nice group of other members who also motivated me to go that little bit further. I would highly recommend the gym to anyone who has a goal and wants to find a place to help them achieve it.

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!

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