Monday, September 26, 2011

Coaching Tip of the Week: Use A Mixed Grip To Your Advantage

When I am coaching a client, I like to utilize any cues, adjustments, and/or exercises that will limit the amount of coaching that I have to do.  What I mean by this is that I do not want to have to give a client multiple cues to get them to perform a movement correctly.  This not only makes my job easier, but it also prevents me from overwhelming my clients.

There are a lot of great examples of this already out there that limit over-coaching such as a goblet squat, RNT (reactive neuromuscular training), suitcase and waiters walks, etc.  The goblet squat, for example, places the weight in front of you so you can more effectively sit back and your elbows are positioned so that they can slide between your knees to keep them out.  If you have a beginner client perform a bodyweight squat and then a goblet squat with no cues, my guess is that the goblet squat will look better.

Another example is the suitcase carry, which will reflexively turn on the abdominal wall that is opposite the side the weight is carried on (otherwise, you would tip over to the left) so you do not have to cue the person to "tighten" it.

These reflexive exercises are great because, as I said earlier, they help eliminate over-coaching.  Today, I want to give you another simple, but effective reflexive tool you can use.  This tip involves switching the hands in a mixed grip. 

A mixed grip, as many of you know, is one is which one hand is supinated (palm up) while the other hand is pronated (palm down).  This grip is typically utilized when a double overhand grip no longer provides enough grip strength to hold onto the bar.  
The problem with this grip is that it can sometimes lead to transverse rotation, which may overload structures that we are not intending to and may lead to imbalances.

The reason this occurs is largely due to the fact that supination often promotes external rotation while pronation often promotes internal rotation.

Therefore, when performing a hip hinge variation with a barbell (RDL, deadlift, etc.), the hips will often rotate in the direction of the supinated hand.  A frontal plane shift can also accompany this trnsverse rotation especially if someone is limited in hip internal rotation on the leg that the hips are rotating toward.  For example, if someone is performing a RDL with the left hand supinated and the right hand pronated, then it is likely that you may see some left hip rotation, along with a shift to the right (likely if the left hip has limited internal rotation).

Now I am not saying that you should not use this grip.  In fact, I am going to tell you that you can use it to your advantage.  Often times, you will see a client perform a hip hinge pattern and he or she will have some hip rotation and/or shift without utilizing a mixed grip.  This could be due to multiple reasons, but an easy way to possibly correct it is by using a mixed grip.  Let's say the client is rotating his or her hips to the right and we cannot coach the person out of the rotation.  In this case, I would attempt to have him or her perform the movement with a mixed grip.

How should we position the hands?  Supinate the left and pronate the right.  Hopefully, this will reflexively rotate the hips back to neutral.

This cue will not always work, but I have used it many times successfully.  It never hurts to have another tool in your toolbox. :) 

Have a great week everyone!! 

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