Barbell complexes are merely using a light weight for moderate to high reps in several exercises in a row without rest. In this video, I demonstrate a simple complex of ordinary barbell exercises as well as explain the benefits of complexes. They include building muscle, a low to medium systemic total body stress, a decent workout when strapped for time, and decent conditioning work.
Remember when we did soft tissue work on the QL to relieve tension on the pelvis and sacrum? Well, now we’re going to do an incredibly useful and necessary exercise to strengthen the quadratus lumborum, and it’s a one arm farmer’s walk. This is a must-do exercise for all populations as it can significantly improve back health and prevent injury.
Regular farmer’s walks are a simple two-handed carry exercise to work on grip strength and loading the entire body. The one arm variation will function differently. Whereas regular farmer’s are to be done heavy, the one arm sort should be light to moderate. The goal isn’t to move the most weight, the goal is to maintain a stable, neutral trunk position (with the chest up and lower abs contracted) without slouching the shoulders. Putting an emphasis on not leaning over in the trunk or hips forces the QL to maintain leverage of the trunk, hence our reason for executing this exercise.
The first time I did this exercise, I just used a 24kg kettlebell (~53 pounds) and could not only feel my QL during the movement, but had a healthy soreness the next day or two. Strengthening the QL along with regular soft tissue work will likely reduce tweaks or strains and improve how your lower back, pelvis, and S/I area feel.
Throw these in at the end of your training session every week, but don’t do them if you’re gonna go heavy in the next session. You don’t want your stabilizing muscles to be sore or fatigued when trying to lift heavy. They would work well in the last session of the week with adequate rest after until you are accustomed to them. Remember, weight isn’t the key; good trunk position and QL activation is.
Low back pain? Sacro-iliac problems? Chances are you have jacked up muscles as opposed to disc or S/I joint issues. Enter QLGM into your vernacular, and it stands for quadratus lumborum and glute medius. These are the muscles you should focus on if you have low back, sacral, and rear pelvic pain.
The quadratus lumborum (kwa-DRAY-tus lum-BOR-um) connects from the bottom rib and sides of the vertebrae (specifically the transverse processes) to the top of the pelvis on both sides. This muscles laterally flexes the trunk, but it mostly functions as a stabilizer and supports the entire upper body. Since it attaches on the rim of the pelvis, tension in the QL will pull up on the pelvis. The more tension there is on the pelvis or sacrum, the more pain there can be. The video shows how to do some soft tissue work on the QL to relieve tension.
The glute medius attaches from the outside rim of the pelvis to upper thigh bone (specifically the greater trochanter of the femur). When you take a step with your right foot, the left glute medius holds the pelvis in place by supporting the entire body weight. Because of the leverage, it handles a force around twice body weight, so it’s working really hard just when you’re walking. Things like walking with a load, running, or lifting can tighten it up…so everything we do. The video shows how to identify the GM as well as the glute minimus (which has similar function to the GM) and some soft tissue work you can do to address it.
Waiter’s walks are an exercise where a load is held in a one arm overhead position while walking. They have a variety of benefits, including:
– Working all of the muscles around the shoulder, including the smaller, stabilizing rotator cuff muscles, to hold the head of the humerus in position.
– The body is loaded asymetrically, so it will work on proper trunk alignment and the endurance of those muscles. The walking will also add some variation to the loading.
– It focuses on upward rotation of the scapula to build stability in the overhead position.
When doing these, focus on a keeping the trunk engaged and neutral without slouching to one side or the other. Put some light external rotation on the shoulder and actively push into the bell to achieve the upward scapula rotation.
During these assymetrical carry exercises I put an emphasis on good mechanics overall from the head to feet. Also short and stable steps are better than flowing steps in order to optimally keep the trunk tight.
Read more about a slightly different type of waiter’s walk on Eric Cressey’s site.
In this podcast I interview my friend Rob Andrade, a doctor of physical therapy. Rob does a good job of straddling the coaching/training world and the physical therapy world. His bias is obviously on optimal movement and a healthy client, but tapping into his hard science knowledge of things like motor control, muscle physiology, etc. is interesting and helpful to a coach. I’d like to have more interviews and makes ome videos with Rob in the future, so feel free to send questions.