Well it has been over a month now and I’ve learned a tonne of information since arriving at world renowned Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning (MBSC) facilities here in Woburn, a suburb just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I’ve had the pleasure of working with high school and college athletes, shadowing sessions with personal training clients and even getting an inside look into Pallof Physical Therapy as I sat in with two clients this week.

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I’ve been absorbing as much information as possible while here and taking notes along the way. I thought I’d share some of the best quick tips I have for your rehab and fitness goals that I’ve either learnt over here or had re-inforced as valuable lessons:

  1. Low back pain clients are told not to do bilateral lifting. Something is off in the kinetic chain down your vertebral column and the forces aren’t being tolerated so switch to split leg variations of your favourite lifts such as split squats or single leg deadlifts and add in some glute bridges. Of course, you’ll want to get coached in these lifts to ensure you’re doing them correctly first! (More on back pain issues in my next post.)
  2. You need to earn the right to progress. This is where people tend to go wrong when they self-manage their strength plans. I’ve seen both ends of the spectrum over the last year from people only using machines to exercise their lower legs because they’re afraid to do anything standing up for fear of pain to people doing heavier lifts or more difficult variations of an exercise when their body clearly can’t tolerate the load. A classic example of the latter is push-ups. (Lads, don’t be afraid to elevate your hands for a few weeks!)
  3. Fan of the bench press but stuck at a plateau or feeling some wrist and elbow discomfort? Try checking your wrist position to make sure there’s not a leak in the chain. Your knuckles should point up towards the ceiling at all times. Your forearms should be perpendicular to the floor in the bottom position. When learning a new technique, you will find you need to go down in weight for a bit until your body learns this new movement and adapts. However, after a short while you should find you sail past your previous numbers.
  4. When performing SLDLs (single leg deadlifts), this is one of my new favourite cues: imagine a ‘dollar bill’ (or 5 euro note for us Europeans) is under the armpit of the arm holding the weight. Don’t let anyone pull it out! This will help keep your shoulder from collapsing towards the ground. You should be pulling the weight not the other way around. If you can’t do this, the weight is too heavy! As this instagram post shows of Kevin Carr, coach at MBSC, progressively loading through weight alone is possible for a long time. (Progression: bodyweight, one dumbbell, 2 dumbbells, barbell or trap bar.)
  5. Progress towards your goals takes time and you can get frustrated or you can stay motivated. You really need to commit several months to a strength training programme to get stronger and see some body composition changes. Don’t cut corners or give up too soon!

So those are my 5 tips for today but stay tuned for more over the coming weeks as I still have plenty more to share!

MBSC Conditioning Room