Bad advice is stealing your gains!
There’s a reason why my four-week workout series on Instagram starts with squats. Learning to squat with good form is the best thing you can do as a new lifter, the exercise builds total body strength like nothing else. It’s sad when back pain causes beginners to skip squats and miss out on the benefits. Bad advice is often to blame, so I steer clients away from misinformation when I can. The YouTube channel Athlean-X, run by popular fitness influencer Jeff Cavaliere, seems like the last place you’d find misinformation. Jeff’s tips on training for aesthetics and athleticism have helped many of his viewers. The fact that much of his content contains genuinely good advice, however, makes his occasional bad advice that much more dangerous. In a 2015 video, Jeff tells lifters to breathe out and visibly flex the abs before a squat, which is a surefire way to mess up your lower back. Any strength athlete will tell you to protect your back with the “Valsalva Maneuver:” take a deep belly breath, then tense your core like you’re bracing for a gut punch, squat, repeat. The pressure from breathing and bracing keeps the back straight. I often use the “soda can” analogy to explain this. Imagine that your midsection is a can of Coke. Crushing a full can is hard, you can stand on it with no effect. Empty that can, though, and it’ll easily flatten. Breathing out is like emptying the can and letting the weight crush you. Don’t be an empty can. Be a full can. Check out my Instagram for this week’s squat-centric workout.