The world is SOOOOO much easier when it is just black and white. In fact, I learned how stressful gray can be to people about five years ago when we did a DVRT/Kettlebell training for the U.S. Marine HIIT staff. You see, I’ve always been very open to gray, maybe coming from sports I’ve always seen how you had to adapt to so many different factors. In fact, the easiest teams to beat were generally those that were either too stubborn, or unable to adapt.
In the military, even though adaptability is definitely present, decision making is often offered to a few. Things tend to be far more black and white and the idea of many ways to do things is not often greeted with great enthusiasm. During this training I had three other outstanding coaches with me. I love people that think differently, even different than myself. It helps me avoid becoming stagnant and I often get ideas from others.
Anyways, during the training the coaches and myself would come around and help people with their technique. Each of us had a different way of communicating and probably had slightly different cuing that varied just a bit.
When we read the reviews of the training everything was very positive except one comment kept coming up. Basically it read the same way, “everything was great but I was confused by the cuing, I didn’t know which one was right!”
That’s tough when it comes to fitness because there are many right answers, but with busy lives and just wanting to get results, people often want to be told the ONE thing to be doing. That’s why it is so easy for a coach to become famous simply by hanging their hat on ONE exercise. They will often call it the best for this and that and even make some great arguments for that exercise.
Yet, if you have been reading our DVRT posts for any length of time you probably notice that we don’t promote just a one exercise cure all. Sure, we talk about certain exercises more than others, but that is because we feel like getting good at those opens the door for so much bigger forms of training.
A great example is the popularity of the deadlift. Are deadlifts good, yes, but it depends on a lot of factors. Who is performing them, what are they trying to achieve, and which progression of the deadlift are we talking about?
As with any way of explaining something you have to start with the why. Can we say why the deadlift is great? For some they will keep it simple and talk about the strength of the glutes and hamstrings. Others may mention the benefit of learning the movement of the hip hinge in the deadlift which we often talk about helping reduce back injuries. Yet, there will be some that just love it for the number of muscles involved that make it a big “bang for your buck” exercise.
So, where am I going with all this talk of the deadlift? Just as the deadlift and many of its variances has great benefit, it can be one of the toughest movements for coaches to coach. While there is plentiful cuing out there (heck, we have plenty of our own) the simple fact of the matter is that building strength and proficiency in a completely different lift may help the deadlift more than you know.
You may not find it the “sexiest” exercise, but it can solve so many problems, even those that go beyond the deadlift. What is it you ask? How about some step-ups! Do you feel a bit let down by my answer?
I’m sure many of you do and your mind goes to horrible step classes and cheesy other forms of the step-up, however, I have found it time and time again one of the best exercises that people don’t use.
The step-up executed well can be a great way to identify if people know how to extend their hips with their glutes/hamstrings, or if they tend to be back lifters. I don’t have to tell you how that can be a HUGE issue when it comes to the deadlift!
Step-ups help teach one of the most important lessons not just in the deadlift, but overall in training which is how to use the ground. One of the largest mistakes people make in the deadlift and many exercises is that they try to focus on lifting a weight up rather than using the ground to be stronger. You may have heard us say that you gotta use the ground in many of our DVRT exercises, but a good step-up FORCES you to use the ground.
That of course means we can fix a lot of hip and low back issues by strengthening the body from the ground up. The foot and lower leg has a lot of correlation to the glutes and core so improving your strength/stability of this area would go a long ways in building better strength and resiliency. Yes, that means a bigger deadlift!
Understanding this means we can also use step-ups to help clean up imbalances from side to side. So many people have a rather large imbalance especially in the hips. This can cause the body to rotate or compensate in ways that make you at a much higher risk of injury while lifting.
Lastly, we can load and perform the step-up in many ways. Not only does that allow us to keep interest in the lift, but solve specific issues like lateral strength, core connection to the glutes, and the ability to properly decelerate a weight with the hips instead of the low back. I find teaching people to lower a deadlift important because as Coach Dos says, “most injuries come in stopping in sport/life, not starting.”
So, how do you perform a good step-up and what types of ways can you progress it? While this doesn’t cover anywhere close to all the ways, these are some darn good ones that people often miss.
I challenge you, spend 4-8 weeks really emphasizing these step-ups. You will be surprised how they not only carry over to exercises like the deadlift, but serve to help many lifts such as a great way to build single leg deadlifts, pistols, and believe it or not even pressing. Understanding movement allows us to create better and more fun solutions to our overall fitness goals!
If you are interested in really learning ow the body functions and how we can make people better in a much shorter time you will want to check out some our DVRT online programs HERE and DVRT workouts HERE for a special 30% off with coupon code “cyber”