Hey guys, this is Cori from Redefining Strength. Welcome to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. This is the show where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m not going to ever fill this episode with sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a review or leave a five star rating or even better share it with somebody you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone you know. So let’s jump right in.

Squats are bad for your knees, pushups kill your wrists, deadlifts are bad for your back. There are lots of exercise myths and a lot of moves that are being demonized is causing aches and pains out there. And today I really wanted to dive into why this is occurring, why people fear movements and what we can do about it because I firmly believe there really aren’t any bad or wrong or evil exercises. There are just misused moves and no one variation is not going to be right for everybody. But too often we label and move as bad as causing our knee pain, our back pain, our hip pain, and then we just simply avoid it. In avoiding that exercise, what we don’t realize is that we’re not training and learning to control a fundamental movement pattern often that we do in everyday life. And if we don’t learn to control this movement pattern, we’re going to put ourselves at greater risk for injury, stepping off a curb, trying to go upstairs, just moving to twist and put plates away in the kitchen.

So we’ve really got to see our workouts as a chance to rebuild and retrain those movement patterns. So I thought it was interesting even that it came up when I asked about movements. You guys wanted to hear about that someone brought up that they wanted something else besides back and front squats because they couldn’t squat because of their knees because this is the exact thing that I wanted to address. I also thought it was interesting and where this topic came from was off of the burpee video that I shared because I think it’s a fundamental movement that everybody needs to master, and I go over modifications in this new YouTube and one of the comments on it was, I disagree. I don’t think the burpee is right to use with clients. I think they don’t do it correctly and that because of all these other aches and pains, they shouldn’t do it.

And I put ’em on the paradigm bike instead and part of that, my reply to him was that the Dyne bike not only perpetuates a lot of the postures that contribute to a lot of the mobility restrictions we have, as much as I like the Dyne bike and use it, but also that when we’re not retraining these movement patterns, we’re not actually strengthening or reversing some of the things that we see and that leads to injury we can’t simply avoid. Because if you think about the squat, even with the squat, and I’ll even use the bench with the squat. This is sitting to a toilet, this is sitting to a chair, this is sitting down to a couch. You’re not going to be able to be like this and not do any flexion to get down very easily. So the more you can control that active knee flexion, the better.

A lot of times we don’t think about things that way and that’s what leads to other injuries. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve a client’s reaching for a pen, reaching for something and all of a sudden they get injured. It’s not even in the gym and it’s not that moves can’t cause injury. They 100% can, but we have to earn them. We have to understand that even form and recruitment are different things. Form is what the movement looks like. Okay, this move looks great. I’m squatting with perfect form, but if I’m watching myself and really I have a compensation and balance and I’m trying to force everything to stay in line when my body really wants to shift, that’s where overload and injury occurs, which is why we have to focus not only on what the movement looks like but what we feel working.

So I want to talk first about the squat. The squat is a move that is often demonized for causing knee pain. You’ve probably even heard the cue, keep your knees behind your toes and this cue came about because of that knee pain issue. When we sit back more, keeping our knee more over our ankle, that more vertical should angle not only helps us load our glutes a little bit more, but it doesn’t put as much strain and stress on the quads. Now, it is not bad for your knee to travel forward. The deeper you get in that squat, and especially if you go more as to grass, you’re going to find that your knee is going to travel forward. Where this becomes an issue is yes, if you have not built up those quads, yes, active knee flexion, depending on what you have going on with your knee, you need to really work up to it and the exact range of motion you include will vary.

But where this became an issue is that we didn’t have proper loading and people weren’t noticing that they weren’t keeping their heels down. And so that shift forward and weight not only puts more strain on the quads and you can even use that strategically amazingly enough, but that’s where that cue keep your knees behind your toes came about to help prevent people from squatting incorrectly and not actually sitting their butt back. Now if you do have knee pain and you’re like, there is no way I’m getting all the way down there, I don’t have that range of motion, I don’t have that control, I can’t keep my heels down, this is where we start to find variations that work for our build our body because even toes just being pointed straight ahead versus toes out versus their squat width, all those things are going to be based on our build.

And a lot of times with social media now we demonize any form outside of one specific mold and that’s just not correct. If you have longer femur and a shorter torso like I do, you are going to have more of a hip hinge squat. You’re not going to be as upright. But even in that you want to address any mobility restrictions from ankles to hips that might be impacting that if you are trying to get a more upright squat. So you can train that when you’re working on mobility, there are even modifications for that. That might be front loading a weight, it might even be pressing the weight out. That counterbalance to brace your core can help. But again, it’s finding ways to use the movement patterns work around our pain and retrain to earn all the different variations to control the full range of motion that our joints are supposed to do to strengthen the muscles involved in these fundamental movement patterns.

And that might mean as you’re starting out with a squat, you sit back to a box to help you load. You can then feel your feet pushing into the ground to drive up. You’re not feeling your weight come forward. You’re also protecting against the hip pinch as much because especially setting up at the bottom, you can focus on that drive up, but that helps you control the squat range of motion and hey, maybe coming back after knee injury, you’re using a higher box maybe right now you can’t control active knee flexion, so you use a wall sit or just a squat hole at the depth you can go. It’s not that you’re going to be able to do exactly the full variation that someone else does. So maybe back squat or front squat with a barbell is not right for you. But the point is is that you can easily find a variation that helps you build up.

The more you can help yourself build up and slowly progress, the more you’re going to earn harder and harder variations and be able to include more and more going move this back forward a little bit. Cool. All right, so I’ll actually use the barbell now because I wanted to go over deadlift next. Do you have to move back? My beautiful assistant is helping me out with Now. Moving on. I do want to touch on lunges. I also wanted to touch on deadlift. You know what? I’ll go back to lunges really quick just because lunges are really close in terms of being demonized often for knee pain, just like squats, and it’s because we haven’t been able to control the range of motion. If you are doing a front lunge, a lot of times what we see is that weight traveling forward, that heel coming up, weight not being centered, and that’s where you even see the shifts to get back where people can’t fully control it or we try and go into a deeper range of motion.

What we don’t realize is that lunges are also a hip flexor stretch. So when we do these things, we’re stretching our hip, especially because we’re squeezing that glute to drive the hip into extension. So if we don’t have the mobility, that’s where we can also see aches and pains. So when you are lunging, you want to think about keeping your weight centered. You can utilize different variations. So when you do that front lunge, the more your knee travels forward, if you don’t have the proper ankle mobility, the more you’re going to put strain on that knee. So you have to work on your ankle mobility to allow this to happen. But if that is too much strain and stress keeping that more vertical shin angle can help you load that front glute a little bit more. Potentially using a little bit more of a hip hinge can help you load that glute more.

Maybe right now the dynamic movement of the front lunge, you can’t control it. Maybe you step a little bit more narrow. Maybe you keep that back leg straighter to do an interior reach lunge. Maybe you even do a reverse lunge because that is slightly more glute dominant and you can keep that vertical shin angle. What I’m bringing up here is a lot of opportunity in using different options to make sure that we’re meeting ourselves where we’re at. But even in that, even if you can control the front lunge, you want to target your glutes more. You do a reverse lunge if you’re even building up and you’re like with all the movements, I can’t control everything. I can’t focus on what I feel working, we can start to do a split squat. So I actually like having clients set up even at the bottom of a split squat because that way they can focus on squeezing the glute to drive the hip into the extension.

They can make sure their weight is centered. They’re working through a full range of motion because again, this is the way we strengthen through a full range of motion and improve our mobility. Because if we’re only doing a split squat right here, we’re not strengthening through the full range of motion. So all that hip stretching we’re trying to do, hip mobility work we’re trying to do, we’re then going and reversing it by only strengthening and learning to control a portion of that movement. So by setting up at the bottom, and I’m going to knock myself over as I try and talk, you can learn to drive up evenly with your weight and then you can come all the way down and you’re strengthening through that full range. Now you might be thinking, I can’t yet control that full range of motion. Maybe you do have a hand support to help out a little bit to reduce some of the resistance, help with that instability or you even reduce the range of motion to control for it and then you slowly lower that block that you’re kneeling down to.

The key here is there are so many different ways to change not only the control, we have to feel those recruitment patterns but work through a range of motion safely. Again, if active knee flexion is something that you struggle with but you want to work your quads instead of avoiding the squat, instead of avoiding the lunge, find variations that allow you to build up and slowly strengthen the muscles, strengthen the movement pattern. Again, that anterior reach lunge, which has more of a hip hinge, has less knee flexion. That’s a great way to work your quads, load your glutes, even learn how to control maybe a forward movement and still be able to push back efficiently without your heel coming up. I do want to talk really quickly about ankle mobility because knee pain comes up a lot with both squats and lunges and the knee is generally caught in the middle of the ankle and the hip and injury there.

Even previous ankle sprains, hip pain, that’s what leads to movement compensations, which then as you can see, just moving at those two places impact our knee positioning, right? We can be squatting, we can see our knee cave in, so we might need to activate our glutes. We might need to address our ankle mobility as well, especially even if we’re seeing hip and glute issues. But with that, if you’re trying to assess where the mobility restriction is because you don’t necessarily have a hip injury or an ankle injury by putting weights here and putting your heels up, if you can then all of a sudden get lower without pain, you probably have ankle mobility restrictions that you need to work on. I can link out to some more tips to help with that ankle mobility, but you want to assess what’s going on. And even with the glute stuff, if you’re trying to work on activating your glutes, you are struggling to control your knees caving in, and a lot of it comes from your hips.

Put that mini band, I even like it above the knees or right below, but really close the knees so that you can focus on that tension. I love people starting it above just because I feel like that’s easier to focus on using the glutes to actually pull it open, but you can do that controlled squat that can help you really activate your glutes. And that being said, guys, while you want to get your glutes working during squats, during lunges, your quads are working. We’ve got to stop fearing our quads working during squats. They are a knee dominant movement, not a hip dominant movement, which now moving on to a hip dominant movement, the deadlift, so deadlifts often demonized as causing back pain and they are a hard movement to learn to control, especially because we spend so much time seated. We are in constant hip flexion and this is working on hip extension and we tend to overuse our lower backs and our hamstrings decompensate because our hips are tight and our glutes are underactive because of that hip flexor tightness.

So when we do deadlift, a lot of times what you might find is you end up leaning forward when you do the hip hinge, A great way to train it is against a wall pushing the butt back to touch the wall. You’re not bending your knees more, you’re just pushing your butt back. That hip hinge movement is so key when you do that. A lot of times we’ll think flat back, we’ll start to arch your lower back. This is where you have to pay attention to what you feel working. If you’re not paying attention and you’re trying to mimic a movement, you are going to seek out mobility from areas that aren’t meant to carry the load and you’re going to overload them. So you have to be conscious of what you truly feel working. While there are lots of different styles of deadlift from sumo to conventional, which has more knee flexion, but it’s still like a hip hinge, not like a squat where you’re trying to focus more on the knee bend or you can even do straight leg, which stiff leg, straight leg, RDL people use them interchangeably.

There are nuance to those things, but a straighter leg deadlift, we’ll just say for today, all these things can be used to your advantage to activate muscles to different extents. The conventional is going to use more quad versus you’re going to get and quad and back versus summa is going to be more leg intensive and R DLS are going to be more hamstring. You’re also going to do a lot of posterior chain, but there’s a lot working here. And I have the barbell out here because I wanted to highlight why the barbell can be so challenging to start because you have to drag this puppy up your shins, okay? Whatever variation you do, you’re keeping it as close to your body as possible. And part of this is stemming from your lot engagement, pushing the bar back, but that’s how you engage everything because when you create that lat tension, you are creating tension through your lat, through the thoraco lumbar fascia into your glute, and that bracing is what keeps everything tight.

And then you’re thinking about pushing the ground away. Too often the deadlifts is queued as a pull, which then makes us lose tension, and I learned it as it was called a stripper deadlift, but it was where your butt would come up first before your back would come up. And we don’t want that. We want consistent tension pushing the ground away, but you need that tension. You need that engagement, but it is uncomfortable to drag the bar ball up your shins. That’s why at competition you have to wear high socks. They don’t want blood on the bar constantly in between things. So if that is uncomfortable for you and that’s preventing you from being able to sit back correctly because you also can’t put it back between your legs, that’s where a kettlebell can come into play in that you can actually take kettlebells or dumbbells no matter whether you do sumo variation, whether or not you do more conventional, but you can set it back between your heels that can help you sit back.

And when you’re doing that conventional deadlift, again, it’s not about sinking your butt down as low as you can. It’s about thinking that you want to hinge at the hips and let the knees flex to be able to touch that weight down. So when you do it, you want to think about how can I sit back, hinging over to reach the weight, flexing my knees as much as I need, engaging my glasses, set it back, squeeze my butt, pushing the ground away, not driving my hips extra forward, but just squeezing and pushing the ground away as if I’m almost jumping off the ground and then set the kettlebell back. But it’s that setback, that hinge over that’s so important to do. And in doing that, we want to make sure that we’re not arching our lower back. And if you are arching your lower back to try and keep your chest up, address those thoracic mobility restrictions, address that glute activation through those activation moves earlier in your warmup, but notice what you truly feel being recruited during these moves, and then don’t be afraid to use other variations.

Think about the sumo deadlift where you’re setting again, the weight back between your heels, your toes are turned out. Push the ground away, pull your knees open with your glutes, drive the ground away, squeeze your butt at the top and then hinge back over and set it back. You want to use the different variations based on your build as well. But using a kettlebell, using dumbbells can be super helpful if you’re struggling with that hip hinge to start even doing a bandit hip hinge where you have a band link behind you to pull your butt back to squeeze your butt against can be helpful, but find a variation that allows you to retrain that hip hinge because you need it. Lifting a box off the ground, picking something up is a hip hinge in everyday life. And if you do not learn how to control that movement pattern, that’s where you’re reaching for the box and your weight is coming forward versus you being like, oh, there’s the box.

Okay, I need to go up to it and pick it up. I need it close to my shins. I need it back between my heels even versus reaching and then overloading because we want that lot engagement to be able to pull back as we use our glutes to drive up. The next thing I wanted to go over was the row. So you guys commented some great other things that I can share some other videos as well, but I wanted to go over the back row because I think a lot of times with back movements, and again, this goes back to our postures and positions, what do we do all day? What typing in our computer, typing in our computer, driving in the car, all those different things in constant hit flexion. We are rounded forward a lot of the time. I find myself doing that a lot of the time.

So activating our back and that scapular mobility, the ability to pull our shoulder blades together, the ability to pull our shoulder blades down, the ability to elevator shoulders, all these different movements, protract our shoulders. All these different movements are things we need to learn how to control, and a lot of times we’re not addressing that scapular strength. So if you’ve ever done back rows and you feel like you’re going like this and you’re feeling your bicep lot, you are not using your back. What you feel working in a move is what is getting the benefit? Doing an AB exercise, feeling your lower back, doing a deadlift, feeling your lower back. Those things are working, not the muscles you want to be working. And a lot of times we think, oh, well, the muscle’s weak. I need to strengthen it. Uhuh, a lot of times it’s getting overloaded.

So if you’re feeling your biceps a ton during your back movement, I want to encourage you to think about initiating that pull from your back. Don’t let your elbows bend until you sort of pinch the shoulder blades back. So do even the shoulder blade pinch and then pull with your back so your elbows, yes, are bending, but you are not just bending. You need to think about that movement of your shoulder blades towards your spine to engage that back. It can be very helpful, and I like doing the bent over variation, but just so you can sort of more see it. I like doing just the pinch of the shoulder blades back because that is that movement to initiate that pole, to engage that back. You should feel that movement. That’s where that pole comes from. And yes, you want it fluid, but it’s so important to do and change your grip.

Again, varying things up because a lot of times we’ll say, oh, it has neck pain, or I feel lower back pain when I do the different rows. Maybe you just start with a single arm and you put your hand and knee on the bench to help brace your abs. Maybe you lie down on a bench that’s inclined so it supports your chest so that you can do the row. Maybe you start with a band anchored out in front of you so that you can do that row. You want to think about different ways to support and prevent some of the aches and pains you have. And I can tell you, doing a little sumo chin tuck can really help if your neck is engaging, but a lot of times it’s because our shoulders are elevated, so change your grip. We can do overhand, we can do neutral.

You can even do under hand on a barbell or with weights here too. Whatever you feel working can be a great place to start to help you engage. There isn’t just one way to do a movement, but we want to be conscious when we do have these compensations because maybe going to a unilateral row if you can’t control it and you feel especially your shoulder or neck on one side can be very helpful because we can focus on that back engagement so that shoulder isn’t being overloaded in the wrong way. The bicep isn’t being overworked, but you need to find variations that allow you to build up and then even see opportunity in the options because the more we use these variations to our advantage, the more we can find progression through the same but different. Because as I mentioned with even the deadlift, they all work the same muscle groups, but to different extents with the pull up, even chin up versus neutral versus over handful pull up grip all just activate the biceps back to different extents.

They’re all beneficial and they can all be used. We just have to find ways that we can make sure that we’re working the right muscles. So those were the main ones I wanted to cover today. There are lots of different movements that can cause lots of different aches and pains, but I would encourage you to assess where your mobility restrictions are coming from to include that work as prehab, work in your warmup, foam rolling, stretching and activating, and then making sure that you’re using variations that allow you to work around, but try and rebuild. The one thing we should not be doing is avoiding the more fundamental movement patterns we avoid from overhead, pressing to horizontal, pressing to vertical, pulling to horizontal, pulling to squats, lunges, hip hinges, all those different things. The more we set ourselves up for risk for injury and everyday life as much as we want to, to often treat our workouts just as a chance to burn calories. As much as we want to work hard in the gym, we want it to be quality movement. We want to see the gym as a chance to retrain those movement patterns so that we move well in everyday life because that’s ultimately what’s going to help us build more muscles. It’s ultimately what’s going to help us see better body recomp. It’s ultimately what’s going to help us see a healthier metabolic rate, aging well, seeing the fat loss, muscle gains, all those different things that we want and feeling our bests. Guys,

Thanks for listening to the Fitness Hacks Podcast. Again, this is the place where I share all my free workout and nutrition tips. I’m never going to run sponsorships or ask you to buy anything. All I ask in return is if you’re enjoying the podcast to leave a rating, review or share it with someone you think it might help. This will only take a few minutes and it would mean the world to me and possibly change the life of someone.


*Please Note: this transcript is auto-generated and there may be some errors in the transcript