Weight Training Technique for Beginners
You’ve watched all of our videos, you’ve read the book, you’re motivated and you’re finally ready to get started. You get to the gym, you get under the bar and you’re ready to KILL IT during your first set of squats. After all, squatting can’t be that hard, can it? All you need to do is:
Take a big breath
Squeeze your abs
Off your toes
Stay leaned over
And lockout at the top
It is at this moment you realize that weight lifting with proper form and technique is a bit more complicated than you initially thought.
All joking aside, it’s easy for us to get overwhelmed under the bar with the plethora of potential cues available to us. Cues that get us to move according to the model are absolutely necessary in order to lift the most weight, with the most muscle mass, over the longest effective range of motion. However, how cool would it be if we could simplify; that is, to find a single cue that accomplishes the work of many cues?!
The Master Cue
The master cue is simple: Imagine that your bar is traveling up and down a vertical slot that extends from your mid-foot to the air above your head.
For clarification, the “mid foot” is at the center of your whole foot when measured front to back from toe to heel. For those who have lifting shoes, this is usually where the strap is sitting. This is also where we place the bar at the start of our deadlift. This is where you want your weight to be balanced. Take a moment, stand up from your computer chair, and feel the pressure of your weight on the bottom of your foot. Can you pinpoint exactly where it is? If the answer is no, then your center of mass is likely balanced over the middle of the foot. In other words, if you can’t determine where your weight is on the bottom of your foot, it’s dispersed equally. If, instead, you can feel the pressure favoring your toes, your heels, or one foot over the other, shift your weight until you feel an equal amount of pressure on the bottom of your feet. This is what you should be feeling with a loaded barbell.
The master cue remedies issues relating to bar path, hip position, knee position, back extension and balance, to name a few. It can be used for the squat, the press and the deadlift. In the squat, it will immediately determine how leaned over you need to be and how far forward your knees should move based on where the bar is sitting on your back.
The master cue works because as human beings, most of us have gotten pretty darn good at standing and moving around without falling over. Over the course of our lives, we have learned to keep our center of mass in balance while walking, doing yard work, picking up moving boxes and finally chucking that Bowflex you’ve had in your garage for years. During training, picturing the bar moving vertically between a slot and feeling the pressure on the soles of your feet shifts the focus from specific, tedious cues of varying body parts, to a completed image of how the lift should feel. It allows us to immediately recognize and adjust the movement on our own, in real time, during each rep.