Archive for April, 2014

Coaching Neutral Spine

Posted: April 29, 2014 in Ask Coach Chadwick

What is a neutral spine? -Nathan20140429-194842.jpg

Sometimes explaining the concept of keeping a neutral spine to a high school student is easier said than done but it doesn’t change the importance of  teaching it to keep their backs healthy and improve performance.  Explaining the importance of locking the rib cage in above the pelvis can sometimes go over their heads and isn’t completely necessary for them to understand as long as you can get them to do it correctly anyway.  An over simplified method of teaching I’ve developed (or stole somewhere along the way) is to have the athlete lift both arms overhead and inhale maximally and then sink into an athletic position.  Usually they will engage their core in an optimal pattern and no other cue will be necessary.


Chad Waterbury on Body Part Splits

Posted: April 28, 2014 in General

Here’s my dream challenge, if I had a million bucks to spare. I’d like to take the coaches who are the biggest proponents of body part splits and challenge them to add 10 pounds of muscle to a natural guy as quickly as possible. The coaches can train the guy for an hour, three times per week. The first coach to add 10 pounds of pure muscle to his client gets a million bucks.

I guarantee you this: you wouldn’t see a single body part split.

Intensity is not the most important component of building muscle. If it were true, Arthur Jones would’ve found the holy grail of training and we’d all be using his system. The most important element is frequency with adequate intensity.


Chad Waterbury on Nutrition

Posted: April 26, 2014 in Nutrition

What does it take to get lean? If I listed all the steps you’d probably say, “I already know that.”

Here’s what I mean: If I told you to consume one gram of protein per pound of body weight, fibrous vegetables, water, green tea, 12 grams of fish oil, and spread those out over the course of six meals each day you’d be anything but impressed. But if I held you in captivity and forced you to do that every day for a month, you’d be blown away by the results. The nutritional methods to lose fat have already been found. The challenge we coaches face is figuring out how we’re going to get you to adhere to the guidelines.


The Weeknd Links

Posted: April 25, 2014 in Links
Tags: , ,

I’ve had the week off from training with Bishop Stang on April vacation. and I’m using the time to finally read McGill.



This afternoon when I was finishing up my workout at the UMass Campus Rec Center, I heard a group instructor ask her class if they wanted to spend the last five minutes of the class training the lower abs or the upper abs.  I had no choice but to laugh to myself knowing that the differentiation doesn’t exist.  The rectus abdominis has only have one nerve supply and always fires equally as one unit.  That extra burn you feel when going after your “lower abs” is just your hip flexors firing and it won’t do much to mobilize that layer of subcutaneous fat hiding your “six-pack.”  There are a lot of misconceptions about this in the media due to uneducated/ money-hungry personal trainers trying to make a quick buck off of a desperate market.  Don’t buy in to what you hear on late-night infomercials, keep yourself educated and avoid getting ripped off.  Those training for aesthetics need to focus more time cleaning up their diet and they’ll avoid a lot of frustration in the process.


Lehman*, G., and McGill, S.M. (2001) Quantification of the differences in electromyographic activity magnitude between upper and lower rectus abdominis during selected trunk exercises.  Phys. Ther. 81: 1096-1101.



What is the difference between the muscles working in a front squat vs. a back squat?  Is one more beneficial than the other? -Will

The issue over which lift is superior is the cause of a lot of discussion in the strength industry.  It seems to be something everyone has an opinion on.  Mike Boyle even declared the squat dead a few years ago.  As with everything, I fall somewhere in the middle.

Gun to my head, I probably pick the back squat if both are done with perfect form because it will put the posterior chain at a greater mechanical advantage.  So, to answer your first question, front squats are more of a quad-dominant exercise that also take some stress off of the lumbar spine.  That being said, my kids are probably wondering why we’ve been front squatting for the past few weeks and I have good reasoning for the switch.  This leads me to the answer to your second question, it all depends.

I came into a program that had a lot of kids quarter squatting too much weight with a flexed spine and no idea how to catch a clean.  My first week on the job, I saw the weight room go nuts for a kid taking 500 lbs on his back and not even getting to quarter squat depth.  I knew then that the culture had to change.  We are now in an environment where squats that don’t reach parallel are made fun of.  Depth seems to come more naturally to the masses when using a front squat.  No one is jumping to load them too heavy because the ego factor of “how much can you squat?” is diminished due to the necessity to use less weight.  Front squats are also self-correcting, if you can’t keep a neutral spine then you are going to have a lot of trouble holding onto the weight.  Lastly, using the clean grip teaches the correct position for catching a hang clean.  The back squat is not gone for good.

There are a few other factors that can make the type used more individualized in certain circumstances.  When AC joint issues are present, it would be wise to stay away from the front squat.  The back squat will be tough if you lack the external rotation in your shoulders to get your arms on the bar correctly.  Safety squat bars are a way around this issue.  Taller athletes tend to have more issues with the back squat as well because of their long femurs.  In the end though, I think that both variations should be used for most of the population.



14.wellness_report_postureandpain.aiOver the weekend when I was visiting my girlfriend, her friend made a comment about the headaches she’d been having.  At the risk of sounding like a complete nerd, I decided to bite my tongue and not immediately blurt out that it may be related her forward head posture that I saw immediately upon stepping foot in her house because these are things everyone notices right?!

Forward head posture is when you hold your head further forward than the rest of your body.  For example, is your head reaching forward towards your computer screen as you read this post like a turtle poking its head out of its shell?  Is your head the first thing that enters a room when you pass through a doorway?  Are you incapable of touching your chest with your chin?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, chances are you have the postural deficiency.

The reason that this leads to headaches is because the forward position of the head has the potential to cause an impingement of the suboccipital nerve at C1.  On a basic level, this is due to weak cervical flexors as well as a tight upper trap and  levator scapulae.  Causes include sleeping with a pillow that is too big for you and a constantly displaying a slumped-over, hunch-back posture throughout the day.

What does this have to do with lifting?  Well, chances are your pecs and anterior deltoids are also tight.  You will have a tendency to “shrug” the weight up with some lifts rather than using your back efficiently.  This leads to a host of compensation problems, with some of the biggest implications being related to shoulder health (that goes for you guy who benches every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and wonders why it never feels right and he’s been plateaued for months).

I assume at this point anyone who is actually still reading this would like a solution to their problem laid out on a silver platter.  Well here you go:

Activation work to be added to your warm-ups or do throughout the day:

  • Scapular Wall Slides
  • Scap Push-Ups


  • Doorway Stretch for pecs and shoulder
  • Levator Scapulae Stretch
  • Pec Minor Self-Myofacial Release with a tennis/lacrosse ball
  • Anything improving mobility at the thoracic spine


  • Chin-Tucks
  • Supinated (palms up) Rows (perform in chin tuck position and fight the urge to let your head poke forward)
  • Behind the Neck Pull-Aparts
  • Low Trap Raises or Reverse Flys