The ego is a little devil when it comes to weightlifting. “More weight!“, it says, and I usually comply, somehow getting through the lift using willpower alone.
Eventually, you reach a point where sheer grit is no longer enough, despite the ego screaming at you for more. There’s something that’s stopping you from getting heavier – be it technique, mobility, or flexibility. That’s definitely something that’s happened to me, though I was unsure what the problem was and how to fix it. But how do you get back to basics without bursting your over-inflated ego?
This question was in the forefront of my mind when I was contacted by Danny Holland of FSTFitness regarding his new movement screening he’d like me to try out. Could this be the answer to my lifting troubles?
Danny is full of passion about helping others achieve their strength and conditioning goals, and as I arrive he’s excitedly telling a client to clench his gooch for core engagement. From this alone I can tell already that this basement gym, with its room of Oly platforms and drum ‘n bass playing, is my kind of place.
Today I’m not throwing around heavy barbells, as much as I’m itching to – I’m here to have my movement screened, and Danny has devised a five-movement checklist, including weights and reps to see where you fatigue and lose form, in order to diagnose any gaps in technique, flexibility and mobility. As well as helping out those who are already lifting, this screen is perfect for newbies who want to learn technique perfectly and gain confidence first time round.
First up – core breathing. Can I engage my pelvic floor (or squeeze my gooch, if you like..), create pressure, and breathe using my diaphragm? We tend to breathe in a very shallow way day-to-day but breathing in weightlifting is important to brace the core. I pass this, so I can move on to the next movement.
Now, can I hinge from the hip? This is difficult for some as they naturally want to bend over by curving their back instead of hinging at the hip. I can do this, so I go onto deadlifting a 24kg kettlebell, with Danny watching for which rep my form gives in. It doesn’t. “Whoever taught you to deadlift has done it well”, he says. The guys at QDos will be pleased about that then!
So far, so good. But next up is the squat, which is my big downfall. Although I’ve had some progression and I’ve worked hard on my hips, my squat form still isn’t good enough. Danny puts a wall ball behind me and I’m to squat back and touch my butt to the ball. I don’t even get close. Eek! I can’t progress onto the weighted goblet squats for sets yet (though at a later date this is what we would move onto to check my form as my squat improves).
We spend some time doing different movements to analyse what’s going on with my squat and Danny realises it’s not only my hips, but my ankles and thoracic spine. So all the time I’ve been working on hip mobility, I should’ve been doing those, too! The last two movements are press-ups and inverted rows, both of which show core weakness after 9 reps.
So what do I now do with all of this information? I want to keep lifting heavy, so I’m not exactly going to go back to basics completely. The best part of Danny’s movement screen is that it finds your weaknesses, allowing a focused warm-up programme to be devised from them – I now have sets and reps of certain mobility exercises to do in my warm-up, targeted to my particular mobility and flexibility issues, as discovered by the mobility screen.
Honestly, I’ve not been sticking to it as religiously as I should have been. There’s been roadworks getting to the gym, so the traffic has eaten into my precious warm-up and mobility time, and I’ve just gotten back from holiday where I totally intended to do mobility work but drinking beer on the beach took over.
I know, excuses, excuses. I’m serious about improving my lifting, though; now I’m back home and focused I’m looking forward to getting back to my mobility exercises, especially as I have a specific programme now rather than just doing whatever I thought I should do that day. The results will show in my lifting – and I can always go back to Danny’s movement screen if I want to measure my progression.
FSTFitness is located in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. If anyone has any questions on strength, conditioning, training and lifestyle, feel free to leave a comment – Danny will be answering them on his YouTube channel!
Equally, if you’d like your question answering privately, just let me know – Danny is super helpful and is sure to be able to answer your question.