What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere. Athleanx.com. So today I’m going to show you how to get brutally strong away from the gym, like in your own home.
You see, whether or not you’re training at home right now because of current circumstances or whether you choose to train at home, the beauty is if you do plan on going back to the gym, and you want to resume lifting big again, what you do right here after watching this video is going to set the stage for all new levels of strength and all new gains because you’re focusing on the things you might not be focused on right now.
I’m going to cover some of those smaller things that pay big dividends in the long run. With that being said, guys, let’s dive in. All right, so when it comes to building strength, you have to always remember that all strength needs to be built upon a solid foundation.
Because I’ve mentioned many times before in other videos how if you’re simply chasing numbers but you’re not necessarily building them upon a solid foundation, eventually it’s going to crack.
And when it cracks, those numbers don’t mean shit anymore. See, if you can squat 600 pounds, but you feel like a 600-year-old man the day after you do it, it’s not really serving its purpose. So with that being said, the first area of focus here is actually one that’s going to impact more of the deadlift if we do this right and it’s straight arm scapular strength.
And what we mean by that is the ability to have stability through our shoulder girdle whether or not you’re moving your arms here in space on a solid rigid torso or whether you’re able to move your torso in space on a solid rigid arm positioning. We know that in the deadlift this is required to perform it properly and to have a good bar path and stability of the bar as it travels up during every single repetition.
Well, that being said, what can you do at home? This is the beauty of this video. You could do these things without equipment. You could do these separately from your regular gym time. Because if you don’t do these things often enough, you’re not going to get the volume that you need to actually make a long-standing corrective impact here.
So with straight arm scapular strength, the first thing I want you to do, if you have access to a band is to simply do this: hang it over a pull-up bar and do this straight arm push down. And again, this is just simply working on building the strength through the shoulder girdle as you move your arms through space trying not to buckle at the elbow or let the triceps take over.
But we could take it a step further here. This is a more complicated body weight exercise it’s the front lever raise. And because it is more difficult, you could just simply utilize the band to assist you and take away some of that weight to allow you to do this.
And all I’m doing is exerting the force through my arms down into the bar to allow my body to raise up. This is not simply trying to lift up with my abs. This is trying to move my body by pushing down through those straight arms, which again, is what translates over to the deadlift where you need to have the same ability to stay tight as you lift the bar of the ground.
And then finally, if you don’t even have any equipment at all if you don’t have a pull-up bar and no band, it doesn’t mean you’re out of options here. You could do this, this is a sliding body weight pull down.
The principle is the same: can you move your body through space, once again, with that rigid arm set up here not sacrificing the stability? Doesn’t matter which one you pick, guys, just make sure that you do pick one and you start to work on this. Because, again, this is a golden opportunity for you to build that necessary strength that’s going to translate back over to the bigger lifts whenever it is that you get back to the gym.
Next, we move on to our second area of focus, and this one’s going to be very obvious when we think about what it is we’re trying to improve. This is horizontal pressing stability.
Thinking about the bench press, right? We know that the bench press is one of those exercises that doesn’t automatically come to mind when we think about stability because we’re lying down on our backs. But there’s a huge amount of stability required to do this right. And if we do it right, guys, that means that we’re going to get contributions from the shoulders at the bottom of the bench press.
You see, we need stability there because the bar actually does travel in space.
It doesn’t go straight up and down. The natural arc of the bar is to be able to come a little bit lower on the chest line during the descent and go back up more towards the head on travel back up to the top. So if we can reinforce that and work on stability through the delts, that would be something we would want to work on.
So how do we do it? Well, we can simply do this push-up saw variation.
And what it does is when I come up from the top of the push-up, and I actively move my body forward, basically simulating that the bar is going to be traveling closer down to the lower pec line because the hands, in this case, are, you could see that the front delts fire up there.
They need to control that forward momentum. Right, if I were to exaggerate that and let my hands drift all the way down here, my front delts would be trying to stabilize and keep the bar a little bit more in its proper path so they have to fire and stay engaged in order to provide that stability.
So we can mimic that in a bodyweight scenario here that’s going to help us to train that when we go back to the bar. The second thing is I can actually just change the positioning of my hands here, rotating them back about 45 degrees, to get that long head of the triceps more engaged by bringing my arm both closer to my torso and back into the extension to have this translate a little bit better over to the close grip bench press.
But then the last thing I could do is work on something else, like the other side of my body, and there’s where we know we need that stability of the shoulder girdle back and down during any bench press to do it in a safe way. So the back widow is an exercise here that comes in really handy. You could do these either four repetitions, or you could do them in a static hold.
The fact is, it gives you a chance here without any equipment at all to work on the key ingredients that are going to be necessary when you get back under that bar. So while we’re on the topic of the big three, we might as well round them out and talk about the squat.
And what is it about the squat that oftentimes cuts the legs out from somebody while they’re trying to do it? It’s the inability to maintain proper positioning of the upper body actually. And to maintain proper thoracic extension. And I don’t care whether you’re doing a high bar squat or a low bar squat, you still need to be able to have a good thoracic extension to maintain the proper bar path that we mentioned for the deadlift on the squat too.
If you want to do a front squat it becomes even more imperative because once that load gets out in front of you, any additional thoracic rounding because you’re lacking mobility is going to be a disaster for what it is you’re trying to accomplish.
So how do we do this? Once again, we break out that minimal equipment. And the first thing we can do is wrap it up around the top of the pull-up bar again and just do this. This is just a banded walk back. And the idea is by putting our arms up overhead, it becomes a little bit easier for us to get into a thoracic extension position.
Okay, so we get up there, and we maintain that we engage the muscles that are responsible for holding that. And as we walk back, the tendency is going to be for the bands to want to pull your arms forward and take you out of that good thoracic extension.
Being able to maintain that nice rigid upright torso is what’s being worked here and that’s what you want to try to do. But ultimately, we’re talking about squatting. We want to be able to carry this over to the squat better.
So all we have to do is when we get back in that position, stay there, and now do your squat so you’re doing an overhead squat. We know how challenging it can be to keep your arms from falling forward because once we start to round the spine, as we go down into the bottom of the squat, it becomes really challenging for people who are limited in thoracic extension to maintain it.
So this is where you’re trying to reinforce that. And finally, let’s say you don’t have any equipment. I like to do this, this is just a simple wall slide.
And all I’m trying to do here is slowly try to work my hands up higher and higher and higher on the wall as my mobility allows me to. This engages the muscles of the posterior chain and gets the rotator cuff involved to keep the arms externally rotated and back up against the wall.
And I slowly try to continue to reach up, up, up, never allowing myself to sacrifice that thoracic mobility. Because as you see here, as I do, I start to pull my body away from the wall and around my upper back away from the wall. That’s not allowed here.
You just simply take what your body will allow you and work on it over time. And this in particular is something you can do multiple times a day, multiple times a week to continue to improve this. Moving on, we’re actually not talking about things that impact everything we do.
Actually, anything that we do on our feet. And this is where I think that our hip weaknesses come and bite us every single time.
You see, because most of the things that we do, even the two big lifts I just mentioned for the lower body, are sagittal plane driven. Meaning we’re moving in this plane. But our hips are so responsible for the stability and actually supporting our overall strength that they work in other planes.
They work namely in the frontal plane controlling the ab and adduction, and they also work in the transverse plane, and we need to work on the hip rotator strength as well. And these are things that you just don’t get if you tend to ignore these smaller exercises.
So if we started off with a little bit of equipment, the first thing that we can do is just this clamshell exercise. You just take a band, you put it around your knees. Here, I’ve doubled it up, and all I’m trying to do is work on isolated external rotation of the hip. Just trying to overcome the resistance to the band, I’m not trying to lean my torso back into it, and I’m not trying to cheat it. Now you’ll be surprised at how weak you probably are here.
You might not even be able to tolerate much of an external load from the band. The next one here is one you can actually choose to either wait or not wait. The fact is it’s determined by your level of strength and the adductors.
And I’m going to bet that your adductors are actually probably pretty weak or a lot weaker than you think they are. And the irony of that all is that the adductors are actually incredibly relied upon to get you out of the most difficult portion of the squat, which is the bottom.
So what you can do is you can take this exercise here and either hold a dumbbell in a [inaudible 09:09] position if you’re capable, or just do it the way I’m doing it here, body weight only, and you allow your leg to simply drift out to the side.
And when you get to the bottom here, I’m not just pushing through the grounded leg that I have for my stable leg, I’m actually allowing the sliding of the outside leg, the elongated straightened out leg to pull me back to the top.
I want to feel as if I’m almost squeezing my body back up to the top as opposed to pushing my body back up to the top. And then finally we move on to that last component where we want to work on the other side of the hip, the abductors, we can do something like this. And this one’s great because it doesn’t require any equipment at all.
It’s just called the abductor hip drop. It’s something that I’ve talked about many times before on the channel and the value of this. And it acts to isolate that glute medius, it’s helping to give us that hip hiking ability.
I simply stand on that outside leg and I try to allow myself to just get comfortable, relax, and let the hip drop. But now in order to overcome that, I have to squeeze in this frontal plane.
No more of the sagittal plane stuff, the frontal plane to be able to get my hip back up to the top. It’s relative adduction because my foot is still in contact with the ground, but it’s still targeting the same muscles that tend to get weak and derail our overall performance in the gym, and it’s so simple to address, that we just have to remember to do it.
Here, with no excuses and no equipment requirements, you’re going to be able to do that. And then finally here, we’ve talked about how all these things transition over to those bigger lifts. But the one thing that we’ve left out is how do we improve that vertical pressing stability.
Right, to get back to doing the overhead press in bigger numbers than you are right now and making sure that you’re staying safe at the same time.
Because any time you lift your arms up over your head, the tendency is to set the stage for dysfunction because you don’t pay enough attention to what you’re doing to prepare the shoulders to do that, especially with heavy weight. So here’s a great opportunity to do it. We know that when we put our arms up overhead, the scapula itself has to be able to rotate in space. And to do that well, we need to have good active engagement of the lower traps.
Beyond that, we also know that when we raise our arm up over our head, impingement looms if we don’t have good strength and stability and contribution of the rotator cuff. So the first couple of things I want you to do actually won’t really require much equipment at all.
The first one is some variation of a face pull. And I’ve shown you guys here in this channel before that there are a lot of different ways you could do a face pull. Ideally, you’d do it with either a cable at the gym or some type of band, but ideally, you add some overhead pressing component to the end of every repetition that’s going to have a better carry-over to what it is we’re trying to train right here.
But it doesn’t mean that you have to use a band or a cable. I showed you that you could use a bag, a duffle bag from the ground, or you could even just throw a weight inside of a towel, still mimicking the same action of the face pull with that overhead press component. The next thing you want to do is work on that lower trap engagement, and this is where I like the high to low band pull apart.
And I like the high-to-low as opposed to simple at eye level because it helps to get those lower traps more engaged. Once we get the arms up overhead and we have the rotation of the scapula, the lower traps are going to be more active.
So we can do that high position down to a low position, maintaining good stability throughout every repetition. But then I like to take it up one more notch, and we do this because we have the ability to incorporate closed chain training for overhead training transition. Which means we can put our hands on the ground. And just by putting our hands in contact with the ground, we’re getting the additional benefit of proprioceptive stability of the shoulder.
So what we do is we do something like this.
This is just a handstand push-up. And of course, we’re not getting the range of motion that’s going to carry over to an overhead press knowing that we want to bring the bar down more to the chest level. But we still have the ability to get that compression inside the shoulder joint while we’re doing the pressing overhead, which gives us the added stability. But we could take it a step further, this becomes more dynamic. This is a wall walk.
And what we’re doing is we’re walking out nice and controlled and slow. And there’s a moment here where one hand is going to be off the ground to allow the other one to move forward or backward. That provides a little additional demand on the stability of that one arm that’s in contact with the ground.
But the key is going nice and slow, walking yourself to your chest all the way in contact with the wall, and then walking yourself back out. And then obviously these are pretty difficult variations here for those that are at more of a beginner level, but that doesn’t mean that you’re out of options.
So you could do the pipe push-up. You still get the same benefits of the closed chain environment here, and you’re simply taking away some of the demands of the exercise by keeping your feet in contact with the ground.
Get as steep of an angle as you possibly can and still work on slow repetitions, and controlled repetitions to continue to train that stability that’s going to pay big dividends when you go to push that bar back up over your head. Let’s face it, guys, strength is the base of the pyramid whether you’re trying to get better at a sport or whether you’re trying to get better at lifting.
The fact is, there’s more to the strength pyramid than just the pyramid.
You see, it’s more of an iceberg, and that’s what we’re trying to get at here. Beneath the surface is where stability resides. Because if you don’t have that stability, as that top-end strength continues to build, lacking stability you’re asking for either an injury or you’re never going to realize your true strength potential.
And that’s why you need to start focusing on the things that build that stability even if they seem boring, even if they seem small, even if they seem unimportant. And guess what, when you know you can do them at home, it gives you an opportunity to get this work in either separate from your gym session or when you’re forced to be away from the gym there are no excuses.
Guys, if you’re looking for a program that never overlooks any of these things because we know how important they are, you can find them over at Athlean-X, built into all of our Athlean-X programs.
In the meantime, if you found the video helpful, leave your comments and thumbs up below, and let me know what else you want me to cover. I’ll do my best to do that for you. And if you haven’t already done so, guys, make sure you click subscribe and turn on your notifications so you never miss a new video when we put one out. All right, guys, see you soon.