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Targeting Common Areas of Lower Body Movement Dysfunction

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Article By Drew Spriggs 

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Simple 2 Day Patterning, Activation and Strengthening Program

As a strength coach, my duties are simple – facilitate the process of all my clients, whether online or in person, into becoming a stronger version of themselves. Most of the time this is a straightforward process; correct any obvious technique flaws, provide proven training systems that are guaranteed results and develop my community into reaching for bigger and better things throughout all aspects of their life in response to becoming stronger. If one thing disrupts this process time and time again, it is lower body (particularly everything stemming out from the hips) dysfunction – not only specific muscle weaknesses, but also movement patterning issues.

For example, it amazes me how many athletes (both my own and others at an elite level) have no issue with any movement while bilaterally loaded (over 500lbs squats/deadlifts, 800lbs yoke walks, etc) but when regressed to unilateral movements (such as split squats, single leg RDL’s, etc) often with only bodyweight, the athlete is absolutely UNABLE to perform the movement correctly. This lack of unilateral strength, stability and patterning work will often be noticeable in bilateral movement and will show itself in many different ways if you know what to look for – how often have you seen or experienced a hip shift or twist while squatting, one leg that points a different direction while moving while loaded, or being unable to get into a good deadlift position at the beginning of the lift/a lockout that tends to end with your hips back from your centre of gravity and an excessively arched back?


I’ve created this 2 day program, requiring very little equipment, which can easily be implemented by all athletes in order to help develop better movement patterns and in turn increase bilateral strength. It is predominantly bodyweight or with light band resistance, so I’d suggest it wouldn’t interfere with your heavy training – in fact, most of my athletes (and myself) perform this training every single day, and in turn are seeing massive increases in both technical proficiency and outright strength. If you are just starting out, perform the rotation twice a week at least a day away from the main training movement (ie. The squat pattern day 2 days before or 2 days after squatting) where possible and have one day off between rotations – over time as your training capacity increases it is possible to perform this in sequence with zero breaks, even while on a ‘deload’ period prior to competition. It is possible to scale the movements as your proficiency increases but remember – this is patterning work, it is NOT something we are looking to max out with! Take your time and ensure that you’re performing each movement correctly; if you are unsure, find yourself a good exercise physiologist or great personal trainer to work with.

Squat Pattern

Warm-Up

Rockback breathing – 3 minutes
Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch – 2x30s, each side

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Rockback Breathing

Activation
Side-Lying Hip Adduction – 2x12r (ensure top hip ‘rolled over’. ROM should be limited and hip not flexing)
Lying Hip Thrust – 2x12r (emphasize the glute squeeze and try to ‘tuck’ your hips forward)
Bodyweight Squat Pulse – 3x20s (use an exercise ball between your back and wall to allow you to support your bodyweight, aim to pulse between 75-105 degrees of knee extension)
Dead Bug – 2x10r

 

Patterning
Split Squat – 3x8r each side (ensure hips are not twisted and knee doesn’t track inwards)
Goblet Squat with bands below knee 3x10r (concentrate on knees not moving throughout the movement)

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Banded Goblet Squat (No Weight Pictured)

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Strengthening
Terminal Knee Extension – 3x20r (feel free to do a partial leg extension, emphasizing full extension)
Posteriorly Tilted Plank – 3x 12 breaths (while in the position, breathe out completely without releasing torso tension and then breathe in as far as you can again)


Hinge Pattern

Warmup
90/90 Breathing – 5 minutes
Kneeling Piriformis Stretch – 2x30s

 

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Quadruped Piriformis Stretch


Activation
Side-Lying Clamshell – 2x12r (focus on squeezing your glute)
Lying Glute Bridge – 10x10s (once again, focus on tucking your hips forward)
Kossack Squat – 2x12r
Kneeling Superman – 2x12r

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Glute Bridge with Pelvic Tuck


Patterning

Single-Leg Pendulum – 3x8r each side (only go as far as you can before the hinge pattern feels strange)
RDL with band around knees, narrow stance – 3x10r (ensure constant tension on glutes and a strong lockout with no hyperextension)

Strengthening
Leg Curl with Hip Extension – 3x20r (feel free to use a band if a leg curl isn’t available, focus on keeping your hips tucked forward into the bench and no movement through your back)
McGill Curl-Up – 3x12r


Obviously this isn’t an exhaustive list of patterning, glute and ab activation/strengthening work, however I’ve chosen these as I’ve found them to be the best bang for buck exercises. A light resistance band and a single kettlebell/dumbbell (10-20lbs) is all that’s needed to perform everything there, however as you progress it will be beneficial to have a few different implements and bands available to ensure you can progress slightly. As always, stick well away from failing at any of these, as you should be able to perform them almost effortlessly – however the stronger you focus on ‘squeezing’ the target muscle groups, the more activation you can get.

Drew is a competitive powerlifter and strongman, who realized that strength training had a massive positive effect on other areas of his life. After realizing he was much better at teaching others how to be lift than lifting himself, he decided to step down off the platform and create Dreadnought Strength – an online and in-person coaching business that dedicates itself to allowing regular people to experience the trans formative power of strength training. He is available for online coaching from  Starting Strongman

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3 Comments
  1. Rachel Hale permalink

    Hi,
    This article is great and I’m really keen to try the program to reduce weaknesses. Do you have a more comprehensive photo or video library for the exercises listed. Many of the names are new to me or maybe exercises I know but are named differently to in the UK (something I’ve found before when reading US based information) Many thanks, Rachel

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