3 Moves Most People Fear (but shouldn’t)
When it comes to the basics, pro trainer Sarah Revenig has got them mastered. More importantly, she’s a master of teaching them.
Sarah moved to New York to teach Kindergarten, but discovered Olympic weightlifting along the way. After finishing a masters degree in education, she realized that her favorite place to teach wasn’t in a classroom, but in the gym.
A DIFFERENT CALLING
Sarah left her school to begin personal training, combining her love of sports with her skill for communicating knowledge with her students.
She also began competing locally and nationally, and after only ten competitions, here talent was obvious: she was awarded “Most Improved Female Weightlifter” by the Metropolitan Weightlifting Committee in 2015.
Sarah specializes in Olympic weightlifting and holds certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (CSCS), USA Weightlifting, is a USAW performance coach, and is also an expert on pre and postnatal training. She is regularly featured on some of the industry’s most reputable blogs, podcasts, and publications such as AM New York, speaking on her experience as an athlete and trainer.
It’s no surprise that in all her time teaching, she’s observed certain moves that many people are afraid to try, whether it’s because they look too intimidating or seem out of reach. That’s why she’s here to clear up any confusion surrounding the form of 3 of her favorite (and, by all standards, most important) power moves.
Before you start
Set yourself up for success:
- “Start light!” Sarah says. “Master the movement before you load on the weight.” This will ensure you completely understand the pattern and build some muscle memory before you go big with weights.
- Remember that everyone is a beginner at some point. “Ask for help! If something doesn’t feel right, or you’re not sure that you’ve got the technique down, find someone who can help you. There’s no shame in that, ever.”
- It can be intimidating to try new things on your own, so Sarah’s advice? “Find a buddy! Learning new skills can be scary, but having another newbie with you can make you more comfortable and excited to learn together.”
What you’re working with
Grab a set of dumbbells that make sense. You’ll want a medium level of weight: something that will be challenging for your lower body, but not impossible for your upper body. If you’re simply going through these moves to master the mechanics, light weights are fine – you could even ditch them altogether.
Take a breath and let’s get to work:
1. Dumbbell Clean
PRO TIPS: This total body, dynamic exercise will teach you how to generate force and move more explosively (hello, faster sprints). Work to keep your dumbbells close to your body and imagine you’re jumping them up to your shoulders. A quick, powerful drive of your legs is key.
AVOID: Swinging the dumbbells around your body, or accidentally doing a weird reverse curl. That’s a different thing entirely.
MODIFY: If the weight is too challenging but you’ve got your form down, either drop some weight or simply clean from hip level as opposed to from below the knee.
2. Dumbbell Front Squat
PRO TIPS: Keep your chest up and gaze elevated to ensure proper spinal alignment through the entire squat. Brace your trunk, and stay tight & active at the bottom. Squats are one of the best moves for core stability. “Everyone knows if you want abs, you best be doing squats.” 😉
AVOID: Letting the front load of the dumbbells cause your back to round and pull you forward. Relaxing and falling into the bottom of the squat is a recipe for injury and also misses the point. If you allow your knees to wiggle freely and bounce all over the place on your way to the bottom, you’ve already knocked yourself out of the form and have no hope of powering back up safely.
MODIFY: You can always progress your front squat by increasing weight. You can also ask a certified professional to teach you how to front squat safely with a barbell to start really kicking it up. To simplify and practice, air squats – or squats utilizing only your body weight – are your best bet.
3. Dumbbell Thruster
PRO TIPS: Even though you’re incorporating your upper body into this one, the power and drive still comes from your legs. Drive upward from your squat, squeeze your glutes at the top, and think about “punching” upward with your arms at the very end to land your elbows in line with your ears.
AVOID: Again, relaxing at the bottom (or at any point in the sequence), renders your work ineffective. Keep the dumbbells either over your shoulders or over your head at all times depending on where you are in the move (meaning, don’t push the dumbbells out in front of you). With power moves especially, it’s important to keep your rep counts realistic to maintain the integrity of your form and avoid injuries that come from fatigue.
MODIFY: The best way to ease into this one is to use light weights to start. Even professional lifters will perform warm up sets with weights that are easy for them, simply to get their bodies ready to move in such a taxing way. Once you’re ready to make it harder, you can put all of the above moves together and make it a cluster (dumbbell clean right into a dumbbell thruster).
For more in-depth information on training and becoming a stronger, healthier lifter, check out Sarah’s blog!
Training so many clients on top of acing her own lifts means that Sarah has to stay fueled for 100% natural performance. To stay alert both mentally and physically, this whey protein powder purist sticks to Promix’s Unflavored Whey Protein Powder post workout to make sure her muscles recover and rebuild properly. Single serving stick packs make it easy for her to always have the right fuel on hand.
Your thoughts matter
Want to add more moves to your repertoire? Check back in on our workouts section for additional combos from top trainers and Promix Athletes, and make sure to refuel with the 100% natural performance every athlete deserves. Promix is proud to serve athletes of all levels the quality protein supplements, critical nutritional supplements, safe performance enhancers, and the education needed to support training and crush goals.
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Leave your fear at the door and get to lifting!