Benefits of the Hook Grip

No matter what type of lift you are performing, how you grip your weight is very important.  Especially when it comes to Olympic lifting, having dominant control over the bar is crucial for success. Due to the nature of Olympic lifting, the bar and its weight must be moved with specific form with speed and precision. Therefore, it is critical that you keep the bar secured firmly in your hands as you perform the different movements. One of the most popular and effective techniques for maintaining solid control of the bar is the Hook Grip.  Whether you performing a back squat or a power clean, the hook grip is a useful method for maintaining control of the bar no matter the lift. The hook grip is where you push the palm of your hand tight against the bar, grab the bar by wrapping your thumb around it, and then grasp your thumb and the bar tightly with your fingers.  Most people can grab the thumb with the first two fingers while their other two fingers directly grab the bar.  This technique really helps you lift more weight off the platform, especially when you accelerate for the second pull.  The hook grip is the best grip you can have without using straps due to its firm hold of the bar. United States Olympic Weightlifting Coach Jim Schmitz says that “It takes about two weeks for one to grow accustomed to and comfortable with the hook grip.  Everyone I teach tells me it feels unnatural and weird and I have to remind them to hook on all lifts—snatch, clean, and pulls”. With practice and commitment, the hook grip can become one of the most useful tools to help with your Olympic lifting.

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How to Front Squat

Like the Back Squat, the Front Squat is also one of the best exercises for building powerful leg strength and explosive speed. Because of the different bar placement, front squats and back squats work different different leg muscles. Front Squats focus on the quads and upper back, while Back Squats focus more on the hips, glutes and lower back. Both lifts utilize all the muscles together, but the emphasis shifts from one lift to the other. A video of proper front squat form can be found here. Rather than placing the bar on your back, you place the bar on the top of your chest, right below your neck. The same principles apply as with back squats, but when front squatting take extra care into staying upright and keeping your elbows up for good posture and form. Performing this exercise with proper form will help prevent injury and help you work all the involved muscles efficiently.

How to Squat

The traditional back squat is one of the most popular exercises when it comes to building leg strength, speed, and power. It may seem like a pretty straightforward exercise, but as with every lifting movement, proper form is the key to success. A video tutorial of the proper back squat technique can be found here. When you are squatting, make sure to keep your back straight by maintaining an upward facing posture. When setting up your stance, make sure your feet are about a shoulder’s width apart. While performing the movement, don’t let your knees buckle inward and drive the bar up with your legs, hips, and glutes. If you are handling heavy weight, the use of a lifting belt and knee sleeves will help prevent injury and keep you safe as you increase the weight.

Gym Bag 101

Step 1: Grab a nice and sturdy duffel bag or backpack that can fit all of the following items.

Step 2: A water bottle. Your body will lose a lot of water from sweating so it is important to stay hydrated before, during, and after a workout.

Step 3: Pack a snack. A granola or protein bar will help stave off your hunger before you get your main source of protein.

Step 4: Bring an extra towel to help wipe off sweat or dry after a shower if your gym doesn’t have any.

Step 5: Have a plastic bag to put your sweaty gym clothes in if your are changing after your workout.

Step 6: If you need to go somewhere after the gym, make sure to pack your shower necessities and the clean clothes with the appropriate shoes that you’ll wear after.

Should You Take Supplements?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than half of all Americans take one or more dietary supplements daily or on occasion. You can find a variety of different supplements at your local grocery store or pharmacy, and can be bought without a prescription. Many supplements are in the form of a small pill and are used to give the body additional nutrients that it may not have gotten in a normal day of eating. It is important for your body to receive the proper amount of nutrients it needs for good health, but not everyone needs to take supplements. According to Carol Haggans, a registered dietitian and consultant to National Institutes of Health, “It’s possible to get all of the nutrients you need by eating a variety of healthy foods, so you don’t have to take one.  But supplements can be useful for filling in gaps in your diet”. Dietary supplements are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as foods, not as drugs. The label may claim certain health benefits. But unlike medicines, supplements can’t claim to cure, treat or prevent a disease. The answer to the question of should you take supplements is maybe. Whether or not you should take supplements depends on how good your diet is. You can always take supplements if you have doubt about how much nutrients you are consuming in a day, but supplements should not be taken with the expectation that they will cure diseases. If you feel like your diet is lacking a certain vitamin or mineral, or a doctor says that your intake of some nutrients is low, then supplements will help your diet and your overall health.

Be Active Everyday?

Intro

The USDA recommends that Adults (18-64 years)  should do at least 2 hours and 30 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a moderate level OR 1 hour and 15 minutes each week of aerobic physical activity at a vigorous level. Being active 5 or more hours each week can provide even more health benefits. Spreading aerobic activity out over at least 3 days a week is best. Also, each activity should be done for at least 10 minutes at a time. Adults should also do strengthening activities, like push-ups, sit-ups and lifting weights, at least 2 days a week. This may seem easier said than done. However, here are some tips to help you stay active during your busy work or school week:

  1. Plan your activities ahead of time
  2. Take breaks during your work day
  3. Use a Fitbit or other activity tracker
  4. Have a variety of different activities
  5. Exercise with a partner
  6. Have fun by choosing exercises you enjoy

These six tips will help you reach your exercise goals and help you remain active during the week, and prevent you from falling into a mundane sedentary lifestyle.

 

 

Benefits of Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves are a common accessory to lifters of all disciplines. Not to be confused with knee braces, knee sleeves help provide protection and support for your knees during strenuous activity, such as weightlifting. A good pair of knee sleeves will provide compression, which will help increase the blood flow in the knees which will result in the reduction of swelling and pain. Knee sleeves do not need to be worn for all weightlifting exercises. If the knee is not involved as a primary lifting source, they are not necessary. They do however provide the support necessary for performing squats, the snatch, or the clean and jerk. Any time the knee is left weak or vulnerable, it is at great risk for damage, and usually long-term damage. Wearing knee sleeves during exercises involving the knee, especially during squats and Olympic lifts, will help prevent injury and keep you healthy so that may continue to lift.

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