The Truth About Weight Training

September 23, 2013 | Posted in:Fitness, Strength

by Lou Barrie
Date Released : 30 Nov 1999

Let’s get this straight right from the start. I LOVE WEIGHT TRAINING! I honestly believe that it is the ultimate form of conditioning training. Done correctly it will provide the participant with strength, power, speed, core stability, flexibility, muscular endurance and (dare I say it) cardiovascular conditioning. In fact every component of fitness that your heart (or client) may desire.

Any method employed to introduce people to the benefits of training with weights is OK by me.

BUT, and that is a very big BUT. It must be done correctly! The problem being, there are countless versions of what is correct!

The current popular but misguided belief – now that group weight training is becoming globally accepted – is that the performance criteria of the various exercises must be changed to accommodate the fact that there are a multitude of different people in the class all with myriad varieties of limitations and or chronic/acute injuries.

This fact alone may even call into question the sense or validity of an activity such as group weight training without first insisting that prospective participants undergo a period of ‘one on one’ instruction. There are many highly respected, world class authorities who strongly oppose the principle of teaching weight training to groups where the programs priority is to maintain the cadence of the exercise in time to the beat of the music and where the instructors main priority is to produce a “vibe”. I would tend to agree! Having seen so many of these types of classes around the world with the instructor more intent on ‘yahooing’, ‘whooping’ and proving their own self importance than correcting the multitude of technical faults occurring amongst the participants.

To be fair, it is most unlikely that the instructor would posses the knowledge or skill to even recognize the faults should they jump out and land on the stage. Whose fault is that? Well, the blame goes all around but the majority of it has to go back to the source. Time for corrections is not catered for; the skill of the instructor is in the ‘phrasing’, ‘timing’ and ‘getting the vibe’. The exercise performance criteria are being taught wrongly right from the start, choreography and timing is being taught instead of biomechanics. Even this goes back a long way and is the fault of many of the myths surrounding weight training, that somehow have been accepted as fact.

Well, here are some real facts for you now!

FACT 1 - We are mechanical objects.

FACT 2 - We live in an environment controlled by gravity.

FACT 3 - The laws of mechanical movement are universal.

FACT 4 – Everyone on this earth is a system of levers, fulcrums and power sources (bones, joints and muscles) and as such are subject to the aforementioned laws.

FACT 5 – Everyone’s muscles, bones and joints, be they weightlifters, athletes, factory workers or Mrs. Betty (Shopping Trolley) Smith perform exactly the same anatomical function!

The level at which they perform will obviously vary, the range of movement each are capable of will infinitely vary, their mechanical structure will inevitably be different and so on. These statements alone would question the safety of a situation that has one instructor teaching 30 (or more) different individuals pre-packaged, pre-determined, choreographed and bio-mechanically compromised resistance training exercises to a 120 – 130 BPM cadence.

Now I don’t subscribe to the fact that it should not be done, I believe that it is a great concept. There are however, changes that need to be made and the issues I will address in this article are the biomechanical ones. Should these issues be properly addressed then I will be group weight training’s most avid supporter.

The reason for this article is the ‘controversy’ that was caused by issues raised, by me in my lecture “The Truth Told About Weight Training” at the Pro-Edge fitness conference at Birmingham University this year (99). Bio-mechanical and anatomical facts that I stated with respect to weight training exercise performance were in direct conflict with the techniques advocated by certain group weight training facilities I have spoken personally to program directors of these establishments on several occasions offering my advice and services on what is conceptually a fantastic program. But they have, to this point declined the offer. They cannot, however, deny they have some problems with injuries to instructors and participants so “if they always do what they have always done – they will always get what they have always got!”

My motivation for such critiquing is my love for this industry and my equally strong beliefs in weight training. I only want to make things better.

The injuries are not, as one would imagine, the result of using too heavy a weight. But, as I will show you a direct result of the precise exercise performance criteria that is promoted, taught and performed among the instructors and subsequently the less conditioned and physically non-adept public.

I will address a number of the glaring issues in the ‘group weight training world’ (even standard gym instruction) using the current paraphrases or teaching cues, outline the shortcomings and then provide a sound bio-mechanical and practical solution.

Firstly I will outline the basic principles of mechanics to those of you that have forgotten or never even knew existed.



Perfect technique in lifting weights is totally dependent on perfect posture at the beginning and throughout the lift. The flat/neutral back position must be actively encouraged and coached, as it is the cornerstone to a good lifting technique. The position of the flat back may be better described as “maintaining normal spinal alignment at any angle” this most basic of skills is absolutely essential in weightlifting. This skill is absolutely the most important you will ever learn or teach during your career. It applies to everyone involved in lifting anything from babies to boxes and from weights to washing baskets. This normal spinal alignment must also be combined with activation of the deep abdominal wall (Transverse Abdominis) just prior to and during the lift. Note I use the term “flat back” rather than “straight back”, this prevents the confused thinking that the back should be upright or vertical, which would in fact be likely to cause injury and inhibit lifting ability. Coaches and instructors often encounter difficulty in teaching this to at least 50% of their charges and must persevere to ensure the development of good technique as well as prevention of injury. Rarely in gym situations do I see this most basic principle being taught or encouraged. The kinesthetic awareness, both physically and visually, of the instructors is to say the least – poor. Doubt my word? Watch the picking up and putting down of the barbell at the beginning and the end of a segment in group weight training to music classes of both the instructor and the participants. Watch an instructor or a gym member picking weights up to put them away and you will see graphically what I mean. Rounded spines everywhere!


Weight training / lifting is an activity of exquisite technique, requiring in some exercises, inordinate amounts of skill in several areas, not least in the art of balance. In lifting, balance doesn’t happen by accident, it is thoroughly planned for from the start to the finish of the lift. Balance is essential in lifting. Maximum force cannot be applied unless the lifter is stable. Any loss of or reduction in stability/balance and the lift will generally not be completed and or the technique will suffer. Posture and correct technique are also very difficult to maintain if one is losing balance. These issues are most prevalent in the deconditioned / average person groups.

Challenging balance is a beneficial activity as it promotes development of core stability, a major component of functional fitness and injury prevention. However it is unwise to challenge it at the level encountered in even the most basic group weight training class. The participants are unlikely to have the strength, endurance, postural awareness or weight training skills to cope with the demands of a high repetition, cadence driven and weight loaded scenario.

In order for an object or a person to be balanced, the ‘center of gravity’ must be over the base of support. While involved in lifting, the ‘combined center of gravity’ must be over the base. The combined center of gravity occurs when two objects (such as a lifter and a weight) are joined together. A lifter and weight become a ‘joined’ object as soon as the lifter applies force to the bar. Therefore it is of great importance to have the bar in a position directly over the feet not just at the start of the lift but through to its completion. This highlights the necessity of the bar to travel in essentially what can be termed ‘a straight line’ from ground to overhead. For this to occur the lifters body and joints must move to accommodate vertical travel of the bar and not the other way around. If the weight travels in anything other than a vertical path it will be forced at some point to move outside the base of support causing loss of balance. To picture this – imagine the path of travel of a barbell in a curl, where the elbows are locked into the side. If the elbow joint (fulcrum) is fixed the bar must travel in a semi circle moving it forward outside the base of support! If the elbows were allowed to move freely backwards and then forwards, the bar would be able to continue in a vertical linear path against gravity, through the full range of motion while remaining over the base of support. Simply altering the base, as is common practice, does not clear this issue up!

Levers & Fulcrums / Least Line of Resistance

The human body is a system of levers, fulcrums and power sources. A lever is described as a rigid rod that rotates or pivots upon a fixed point known as a fulcrum. In the human body the spine and other bones represent the rigid rods or levers, the joints represent the fulcrums and the muscles provide power to produce movement. The spine is a series of small bones. But in lifting a strong flat back is coached and so the spine is considered a lever and is probably the most significant lever in the body. A coach or instructor must understand the criteria and importance of being completely familiar with the function of levers in relation to lifting and human movement.

The closer a load, in a horizontal plane, to the active fulcrum of a lever, the less difficulty is experienced with the lift. The further away it is then the harder it becomes. In weightlifting the hip is the most significant and important fulcrum and must be as close to the bar, in a horizontal plane as possible throughout the lift and especially at the start of a lift. During lifting, fulcrums (knees & hips) should tend to travel in more or less a horizontal plane, allowing the weight to travel vertically; this is in keeping with the principle of balance above.

Lever & Fulcrum Implications: When performing all lifts, the instructor / trainer must ensure that the fulcrums (joints) move freely to accommodate vertical travel of the weight. (This also applies to the majority of free weight training exercises.) If one or more joints are locked into a fixed position, then the weight will travel through a rotary (semi-circular) path, moving outside the base of support and upsetting balance. For lifting efficiency (as in Weightlifting & Powerlifting) and in lifting safety (picking a weight up off the floor to start an exercise or during the squat) you must ensure that the main active fulcrum (in this case – the hips) is as close to the weight (above it in the deadlift, below it in the squat) as possible. Also in multi-joint exercises such as the squat, equal involvement of ALL active fulcrums will ensue an equal distribution of the load across all the muscles that move these joints. To restrict a joint (such as the ankle) will inevitably result in compensation at other joints causing large and unnecessary stresses on the hip and lower back.

Issue 1 “When performing squats (or similar movements) the knee should never travel forward of or over the toes.” I have even read a quote from a respected fitness expert in an international publication (1) that states “When performing squats …keep knees aligned over the heels” . I’d love to see anyone on this planet or any other planets with gravitational force try that without landing flat on their butt. Simply impossible!

Problem 1 This is a misinterpretation, which has gotten so out of control that it is almost at plague proportion. When performing exercises like squats, the knee should travel out in a line with the second toe but should not be limited to only moving as far forward as the toes, it should in fact be limited by the flexibility of the persons ankle joint who is performing the exercise.

You see, if you limit movement at the ankle joint to virtually nil, where the shin is kept at an almost vertical aspect, you limit the knee to 90-110 deg’ of bend angle where the thigh is at or just above parallel to the ground. You have to increase the movement at the hip joint to compensate for the lack of movement at the other two. Bear in mind that to retain / maintain balance the weight must move in a vertical path above the feet and remain in that line! What this amounts to is, that if the knee cannot travel forward then the hip must travel further backwards. This increases the length of the lever between the weight on your shoulders and the hip fulcrum. Making it very difficult to maintain the weight over the base (feet), placing massive stress on the lower back, that for a beginner or inexperienced (even experienced) lifter could at best prove very awkward and at worst would produce a devastating back injury. (Not to mention over development of the glutes).

The other big problem with this totally misguided teaching cue is the disruption of the “Concurrent Shift” at the Rectus Femorus and the Hamstring muscles as well as the alteration of the length/tension relationship between those two muscle groups.

The concurrent shift occurs when a muscle crossing two joints lengthens at one end and concurrently shortens at the other. During the descent phase of the squat, the Rectus Femorus lengthens across the knee joint and shortens across the hip joint, effectively remaining at the same length. Subsequently the hamstring shortens at the knee joint and lengthens across the hip. Correct performance of the squat would see these muscles exert equal forces on either side of the pelvis assisting in the maintenance of anterior pelvic tilt and subsequently neutral spine. Excessive hip flexion, which would occur should the ankle be restricted, would result in the hamstring being placed under greater stretch/tension and the Rectus muscle placed under less! The excessive pull of the hamstring inevitably causes a posterior pelvic tilt – resulting in flexion of the lumbar spine in a position of extreme mechanical compromise. The potential results of this little scenario should be obvious. All because of a dumb misinterpretation of a simple statement, more than likely made by someone who has tended to put physiology before physics.

Solution 1 The squat and related exercises are part of a “Primal Movement Pattern”. We’ve been performing versions of it for around 40 million years, our ability to survive was dependent on our ability to squat, almost everything was done at ground level, (we hadn’t got around to designing toilets, chairs and tables yet). It is, was and always should be a three joint movement, with the load being shared evenly among the ankles, hips and knees. Full range of movement should be used unless the orthopedic history of the client dictates otherwise. For full range to be safe and effective, maximum flexibility should be present in all joints and depth of squat limited to the depth that can be attained with the feet flat on the floor, spine in natural / neutral lordosis and the weight remaining above the feet throughout the movement.

Normal function throughout the day would see the knee move forward of the toes and bend beyond 90 deg’ thousands of times. The simple act of allowing the knee to move forward during the descent phase means that the hip does not need to travel back so far or go into such flexion, the concurrent shift is not disrupted, the length/tension relationship between the hip flexor and extensor remains neutral and the hip is closer to the load in a horizontal plane (closer to being under the bar). Creating less stress for the spine with the load shared over three joints rather than overloading one.

Ensure full use of the ankle joint; let it be your guide for depth. Ensure the knee tracks out over the 2 nd toe. Keep the heels flat on the floor. Incidentally it is the Soleus that inhibits dorsi flexion during squatting, not the Gastocnemius. Learn how to stretch the Soleus.

Issue 2 “When performing upper body exercises such as standing curls / pushdowns, overhead presses etc. place one foot ahead of the other to maintain balance”. Sometimes. “Soften the knees and tuck in the hips” as well.

Problem 2 This really is at plague proportions, which indicates to me a sheep mentality and is indicative of a reactive rather than proactive approach. Why is this done? “To maintain balance and stability” is the standard answer. Surely it would be more prudent to eliminate the reason that is causing you to lose balance rather than to fight constantly against it. By not eliminating the root cause you are merely band-aiding the problem. The act of stepping the feet forward and backward does increase anterior / posterior stability but it does not take away the reason for balance being lost. So, when the client fatigues or decides to increase the resistance being used, the force that is causing us to lose balance is increased. What do we do then? Step the feet further apart? I think not! We are also limited by our genetic make up, which dictates our leg length. So where does it end? What I invariably see (and you would to if you looked) in the gyms and aerobic classes where weights are used, are people with their bodyweight mainly on one leg (usually the back one) and therefore loading on the muscles on one side of the body. The hips, shoulders and subsequently the spine twisted towards which is invariably the dominant side of the client. Teamed up with a great deal of anterior / posterior movement / swaying! Stepping the feet in this manner does nothing to eliminate the problem; it merely puts it off for another day. (Actually allows you to sway and swing more) Continuing with this practice will lead to imbalances in strength, limited ability to progress safely, breakdown in technique and back problems.

Solution 2 Remove the need to ‘step the feet’ by removing the root cause of it. Why are we losing balance? Simple; Look at Newton’s 2 nd & 3 rd laws of motion, along with the rule of balance and apply them to a curl for example. (In the manner that it is currently performed.). For those who don’t know Newton’s Laws of Motion I will summarize them now. (It is quite difficult to express in words what I am in effect better to show you. But until my video comes out, or you attend my workshop “THE TRUTH” this will have to do.)

  1. The Law of Inertia. States that an object will remain at rest until moved by an outside force.
  2. The Law of Momentum. States that the object will move at a uniform velocity with uniform force in a uniform direction until acted upon by or coming into contact with another outside force. It will then combine its momentum, velocity and direction with the second object or force.
  3. The Law of Action and Reaction. States that for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction.

When performing exercises like the curl and pushdown instructors fervently insist that the client keep their elbows locked firmly into their sides. This is where the problem arises. When this is done you effectively eliminate movement at other joints, producing rotary (circular) movement of the weight. Which in effect causes the weight initially to be pushed forward, (and you to be pushed back – Law 3). At which time it is moved forward of the base causing you to overbalance forward (Law of Balance) with your reaction being to lean back. (Newton No 3 again) Which then imparts backward momentum to the weight in your hands, which is then traveling towards your body. When your body stops the weight, that backward momentum is imparted to you and backwards you go! (Newton No 2) Apart from all of that, resistance is only attained in a linear, vertical path. (Against gravity – which incidentally does not work in semi circles.) The only time the bar travels vertically is in the mid 1/3 rd of the movement, when the weight is ahead of the base and maximum force cannot be applied because you are losing balance! This results in the need to lean back and subsequently create the mistake of stepping the feet to try and counteract it. Utterly ridiculous, in the most profound way!

All exercises with free weights should in effect be performed while standing in a strong, upright, anatomical position, with the weight traveling in a vertical path above the base. In fact, in all exercises with free weights, force should be applied in a vertical, linear path toward or away from the base. (This would include such exercises as cable cross overs and tricep pushdowns.) Fulcrums (such as the elbow) should be allowed to move freely backwards and forwards to accommodate this vertical travel of the weight. If fulcrum points are fixed then the weight must move in a rotary (semicircular) path and will travel outside the base, causing loss of balance and only providing effective resistance through one third of the full range.

With the curl (and the pushdown for that matter) forget about the elbows, allow them to move backwards and forwards, keep the weight close to the body and above the base of support. If the elbow is allowed to move then the force (in the curl) is directed up with the opposite reaction being down through the base of support allowing you to maintain balance, eliminating the need to step the feet. This also has the added benefit of reducing stress on the back. =

As for tucking in the hips, that’s a mystery to me. I’ve always believed (and still do) that the spine is at its strongest when it is in normal anatomical position, with all 4 curves (Cervical, Thoracic, Lumbar and Sacral) where they should be. Tuck in your hips while lifting and the spine will round out causing pressure on the inter vertebral lumbar discs. Bend the knees at the same time and you will compound this fault. (Looking pretty silly too.) Stand upright in a normal anatomical (not ‘anacomical’) stance, with the feet apart and in line. Eliminate the problem at its source.

Another issue along the same lines is the performance of the Over-Head Press. This is the same deal, with the feet being stepped fore and aft in a vain attempt to maintain balance. Well, let me tell you, balance is being lost because the Law of Balance is not being adhered to. In order for me to answer this we have to look at one of the teaching cues for the overhead press. “Push the bar out in front of the shoulders.” Oh dear! What happens when the weight is pushed forward? The combined center of gravity moves forward of the base of support, causing the participant to lose balance forward and then compensate by leaning back (Newton No3). Instinctively the body wants to maintain its center of gravity over the base of support. The more tired the client gets in their shoulders, the greater the tendency to drop the weight, therefor the greater the instinct to lean back! With the feet stepped apart, that gives you great propensity and latitude to do just that.

Fix the damn problem at the source! Push the weight up directly over the shoulders not out in front! This will then ensure that it is above the base of support and remove the need to ‘step’ the feet, it will eliminate lean and maintain balance! This will also promote good posture. (Question: If the weight is pushed forward and that is the action – what is the opposite and equal reaction?) In the overhead position the bar, elbows, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles will be in vertical alignment – perfect posture.

Issue 3 Criteria for performance of the Bench Press exercise. Well there has been a plethora of cues right here in this one little exercise. They mainly centre around 3 areas;

  1. The depth to which the bar should be taken.
  2. The positioning of the spine on the bench.
  3. What to do with the feet.

I have a 4th question; What should be done with the head? We’ll come back to that in a bit, but firstly we’ll look at the issues in order and give solutions as we go.

Depth of the BP is a current issue and topic of debate. I hear variances from “1 inch above the chest”, “fist distance” and “elbows at 90 deg”/ “upper arms parallel to the floor”. All implemented to protect the shoulder from extreme range of movement. Well, most of the shoulder problems are self (or instructor) -inflicted and are likely as a direct result of having the scapula in a protracted position at the low point of the lift! With the scapula protracted, the relationship between the humerus/scapula and angle at the GH joint is altered drastically, creating an extreme (and vulnerable) angle at the joint as well as an inefficient pulling angle for the pectoral.

Reasons for this scapular protraction are numerous. The main ones are as follows:

  • Lifting the head up as the bar comes down or head up and turned to look at the instructor who is inevitably doing the same. Lifting the head alters the alignment of the Thoracic spine, places the elevator muscles of the scapula under tension and inhibits retraction and depression of the scapula. This places the Gleno/Humeral joint in a dreadful position at the low point of the lift with the pectoral trying its best to cause anterior dislocation of the shoulder.

Fix this by keeping the head on the bench/step, the scapula retracted and depressed during the entire movement and the Thoraco/Lumbar spine in extension. This has the added benefit of lifting the rib cage and reduces the depth the bar has to travel.

  • Flattening the lumbar spine onto the bench in the misguided belief that the lumbar spine needs protection while lying flat on your back!

I don’t see anything wrong with having the spine in extension while the body is in the supine position with the head, shoulders and hips in contact with the bench or step. Having the spine in extension lifts up the rib cage and assists in maintaining the scapula and Gleno/Humeral joint in a more favorable retracted position.

Feet on the bench or up in the air.

Same issues as above, get them on the ground, especially if you are using a step that is only inches high anyway. If you are using a bench and it is too high, stick your feet on a step box rather than on the bench and never have them in the air. This just encourages posterior pelvic tilt, sinking or flattening of the rib cage and inhibition of scapular retraction.

  • Blowing out all the air from the lungs during the push.

Flattens and collapses the rib cage and compounds the above issues.

All of these actions affect how the scapulae move in relation to the thoracic spine and rib cage. Inevitably restricting scapular retraction and depression while in turn creating the extreme, injury susceptible angle we are trying to avoid. They also will severely restrict the amount of weight we can lift by decreasing the efficiency of the biomechanics, and we don’t want any of that now, do we?

This still may not answer the questions as to the ROM of the bar. But if you examine the above criteria you will see that the depth to which the bar has to come is less, due to the simple fact that we have elevated the ribs. The angle at the GH joint is less severe because we have moved the scapula together and down.

Cues of distance are extremely hard to follow in a group exercise situation. If you are concerned about this issue even after following the above directions then you need to get the participants off the step (where the opportunity to ‘drop the elbows low’ is there) on to the floor. Or better still a Swiss Ball where a tangible barrier, not someone’s interpretation of “fist thickness”, “one inch” or “ten centimeters” sets the ROM.

Let’s get back to the head up issue.

Question: Why are the participants heads up and turned during the bench press track in group training classes?

Answer: So they can see the instructor.

Question: What is the instructors’ head doing during the bench press track?

Answer: It is up and turned looking at the class.

Question: Is a head up and turned position conducive to good safe bench press technique?

Answer: No!

Question: Will the class follow what they see?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Is there any need for the instructor to be performing the exercise during bench press?

Answer: No! He/she should be up walking round coaching techniques – keeping people’s head on the bench along with the other criteria listed above.

At this point I need to bring up one other issue and that is with respect to the deadlift and the depth to which it is taken to in some group classes. Generally knee height, right? That is fine for the majority of the track but life, I am afraid, does exist below the knees.

The deadlift is absolutely the most effective exercise for development of pure, brute strength. Funnily enough it is also the most basic, fundamental requirement of a weight training program for the absolute beginner to the advanced super-athlete. Everybody in that range will need to pick up a weight from the floor at some time in his or her program. What technique will they use to do this? The deadlift of course! What technique should the factory worker use to pick the heavy box or object off the floor (or to put it down?), again – the deadlift! Let’s get it straight here, I’m talking about the orthodox deadlift, not the stiff or straight leg variety which in themselves are great exercises but not the subject of this discussion.

Like its brother lifts, the deadlift is fraught with misunderstanding, misconceptions and misinterpretations. It is simply the most basic movement we as humans can perform, it closely related to the squat movement pattern and has probably the greatest carry over effect to real life and injury prevention than all other weight training exercises put together.

It is simply the best, most efficient way to pick anything up off the floor. In performing this exercise the body and the weight become one with the combined centre of gravity remaining over the base of support. In order for this to happen the active fulcrums (joints) must move to allow vertical travel of the bar. If the bar is forced to move around the fulcrums the lift becomes at the least inefficient and is even likely to become dangerous.

To establish correct technique in the deadlift, the first and probably most important point to address is the absolutely essential ability to maintain the spine rigid and in neutral alignment throughout the lift. This serves two purposes, one safety and the other efficiency.

The spine is a lever, plain and simple and the main characteristic of a lever is that to work it must be rigid. Think of standard mechanical levers, such as a crow bar, a tyre iron, a spanner and the handle of a car jack etc. etc. Would any of them be of any use if they were made of rubber? I think not! Imagine the usefulness of the spine in applying force if it is allowed to bend! Of no use at all!

From a safety perspective I should not have to tell you the damage that can occur to the intervertebral discs if load is continually applied to the spine while in a flexed position.

  1. The lift should be performed through a full range of motion, from the floor to upright; to not do so compromises the effectiveness of the lift as a strength and injury prevention tool. People have to pick up items / children etc. off the floor regularly. To only go to knee height, all the time, is a totally misguided mistake. After all, before the ‘track’ and at the end of it the bar starts on and returns to the floor respectively. As a point of interest, watch the deadlift track in a group class next time you can, and observe how the weights are picked up from and returned to the floor! Inevitably with a rounded back and straight legs. The insistence that the weight should never go below knee height due to the injury potential seems to pale to insignificance and gross hypocrisy in the face of the technique used in that one seemingly simple and most basic of tasks.
  2. Don’t drop the bum too low or come up on the toes in the misguided interest of trying to attain / maintain a vertical spine. The center of gravity will move behind the base of support and your balance (and subsequently power) will be lost. Also the bar will have to be moved out and around the knees as they will not move out of the way in time to allow it to travel in a vertical path.
  3. When returning the bar to the floor, maintain the knees in a relatively straight position until the bar has passed them. Most people make the mistake of bending the knees first, this forces them to allow the bar to travel forward of the base (feet), with the body leaning back to create a kind of counterbalance. This produces huge stresses on the back and places the lifter in a very off balance position. Once the bar passes the knees they should bend but you must remember to maintain the shoulders in a position that is forward of the bar and subsequently the feet during this stage (Don’t ‘sit down’ on it).

See what I mean? A little bit of thought, follow the laws of physics along with applied functional anatomy and you can solve any biomechanical problem. “PHYSICS BEFORE PHYSIOLOGY”

I could go on for thousands of words more covering a multitude of biomechanical furfies in the weight-training world but I don’t have the time or the space in this article.

The reasons I outlined above are the reasons that current group weight-training techniques are being called into question by people who attend my workshops/seminars. But you should also see that there are solutions to every problem. The question is are we humble enough and concerned enough about the industry that we are part of to do something about it?


  1. “The Trainers Back” – Julie Chow (Physio)ASIAFIT Magazine, Nov/Dec 99.

Other references used in the compilation of this article from which no direct quotes or statements were taken but information was gratefully obtained are as follows:

  • “Squatology” – The Science of Squatting without Injury, Paul Chek
  • The Inner UnitPaul Chek
  • Training Jane (Lecture), Paul Chek
  • The Essentials of Strength Training.Thomas Baechle
  • WeightliftingJohn Lear
  • BAWLA Instructors HandbookJohn Lear
  • Strength Development WorkshopLou Barrie
  • The Truth ToldLou Barrie
  • The principles of Anatomy & PhysiologyTortora & Anagnostakos
  • QWA Inc. Level II Coaches ManualMike Keelan and Leo Isaacs