Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Exercise Cues: Hands

Does it matter where they go?

Last time I said the next topic would be scapular retraction, but this recent realization seemed more useful.

The last two or three years I've performed cleans with little improvement in how fluidly I received the bar in the catch position. It always felt awkward. For whatever reason I decided to widen my grip - something I've done before - but this time was different. It helped me immensely.

That's when the light bulb went off in my head. The location of the hands plays a huge role in any movement. Maybe a "duh" should have come with the light bulb, but it seems like a subtle detail not too often addressed.

In the bench press, the tip I've heard most is to use your thumbs to measure from the smooth part of the bar to figure out where your hands should be placed. I would argue that's not an accurate nor sound method. Instead I suggest the advice my friend gave me when I started out lifting. Practice the motion without the barbell then at the top of the movement let that determine where you should grab the bar. Essentially, you're going with what's natural with your own structure.

For many exercises I'd recommend to opt for what feels natural/comfortable. Start out using a medium-width grip then little by little move your hands apart to get a sense of what works for you. The better or more efficiently you perform the exercise, the more you should stick with that width.

There are exceptions to this rule - the snatch and chin-up. Here a very wide grip might actually be uncomfortable on your grip and wrists. In instances such as these you would rather go narrower on your grip as you experiment.

Combine this with the first post in this installment and you'll feel a large change in how you're performing your exercises.

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