Online Training Now Available

Posted on by Ben Bruno

I want to make a quick blog post to let you know that I’m opening up online training again.

If you’re interested, please send me an e-mail HERE with the subject: “Online Coaching Inquiry.” In the message, please write a paragraph describing your goals and a little bit about yourself. If I think we are a good fit, we can discuss rates and when we’ll get started.

Please know that I require at least a three month commitment from you in the beginning because I believe it takes time for a program to work, and in the beginning, it’s going to take some tweaking to get it right. The max time I allow is six months, but most clients just do three. Part of my goal in the online training process is to teach you what I’m doing so you can then go off and do it on your own.

Serious inquiries only please.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Deep Squat Landmine Shoulder-to-Shoulder Press

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Today’s blog post is going to be quick, but I wanted to show a simple but cool exercise that I’ve started using with some of my clients that I really like. For lack of a better name, I’ll call it a landmine shoulder-to-shoulder press.

You can probably figure out what it looks like from the name, but just for the sake of clarity and being on the same page, here’s a video of what it looks like in action, as demonstrated by my client Ryan.

This one really kills a bunch of birds with one stone: hip mobility, core stability, yada, yada, yada.

About three years I made a blog post introducing deep squat landmines (you can read that HERE), which look like this.

I still really like that exercise, but it’s very hard, too challenging in fact for a lot of people. The shoulder-to-shoulder press works the body in a similar fashion, but it’s easier (and therefore more user-friendly for a lot of clients) due to shortened lever arm.

It’s still harder than it looks though, even with an empty barbell, so you may want to start with a lighter bar or even a PVC pipe.

I have some of my stronger clients use it early in the workout to loosen up the hips prior to heavier lower body work, or else I’ll use it near the end of the workout as a core exercise.

Give it a try; I think you’ll like it.

Remember that you can subscribe to my You Tube page for more free exercise demos.

Landmine Squats: A Great Alternative to Traditional Squats

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Goblet squats have been my go-to exercise for teaching the squat pattern for awhile, but more recently I’ve been using the landmine as way to teach the pattern and I really, really like it. I still like goblet squats and use them often, but they don’t work for everyone. Some people still tend to fold forward as they squat down, and people also struggle to hold heavier weights to where it’s tough to get a training effect for the legs because the upper body is such a limiting factor.

The landmine works really well as a teaching tool because the arc of the bar helps ingrain the idea of keeping an upright torso because if you lean too far forward the bar jams into your sternum. I especially like it for taller lifters who typically tend to struggle to squat to a good depth with turning it into a good morning. Using the landmine I find they can get deeper and do so with good body positioning.

Here’s a video of one of my clients Ryan, who is almost 6’3” squatting with great mechanics.

For some clients I’ll also have them squat to a box or a low bench to help serve as a depth gauge and remind them to sit back into the squat.

Here’s a video of UFC athlete Brendan Schaub doing landmine box squats to good depth at 6’4”.

In both videos you’ll notice that they squat pretty low without the knees coming too far forward over the toes. That’s due the angle of the bar forcing them to sit back. I’m don’t have too much of a problem with the knees coming forward in a squat if someone is using good form and they don’t have any knee issues, but for folks with knee issues, this is a good alternative. It’s also a way to train the squat pattern without putting a lot of undue stress on the lower back.

For women who struggle to hold kettlebells and dumbbells in the goblet hold, this is a good way to get a similar training effect, but you can rest the bar against your body so you don’t have to rely too heavily on your arms.

You can also add in a press, like Kevin Anderson does at the start of this video.

Give landmine squats a try either to help groove the squat pattern or as a way to train the squat pattern without stressing the joints as much. Or if you’ve just never felt right doing regular squats, this could help a lot.

P.S. Brendan Schaub is in the running for a World MMA Award for Personality of the Year, so if you could take a second and vote HERE, that’d be awesome.


A Very Simple (and Very Effective) Way to Learn Single Leg RDLs

Posted on by Ben Bruno

I really like single leg RDLs, but a lot of people struggle with them tremendously, especially when they first try to learn how to do them.

As such, I start most clients off with assisted single leg RDLs where I allow them to use one hand to hold onto something for balance.

Almost two years I shared a simple but effective method of assistance using the TRX which you can check out HERE, which looks like this.

I still really like this and use it often, but I’ve noticed that for clients that struggle to grasp the hip hinge, some people end up breaking at the knee and doing a single leg squat type movement as they reach forward, so while the TRX helps with the balance aspect of the exercise, it doesn’t always help teach a good hip hinge pattern, which to me is probably the biggest point of this exercise.

I’ve also tried having clients hold onto a bench or wall for assistance, but the problem there is that they often tend to lean too heavily on the bench and use way too much assistance, so the bench becomes a crutch as opposed to a teaching tool. Also, like with the TRX, clients that struggle with the hip hinge can still turn the RDL into more of a single leg squat.

So more recently I’ve actually been having clients use a foam roller for assistance, and it’s my new favorite way to teach the single leg RDL.

Here’s what it looks like in action.

I really like this for a few reasons. First off, it’s super simple and just about everyone should have a foam roller. If not, you have bigger problems than struggling with single leg RDLs. Go get a foam roller immediately.

Furthermore, the foam roller works great because it provides some assistance for your balance, but you can’t put too much of your weight on it like you can with a bench or a TRX because it will just tip over. Similarly, it forces you to keep your weight centered over your hips as opposed to moving forward (because again, the foam roller will tip over if your weight is moving forward), so it helps ensure that you’re doing the exercise correctly and hinging at the hips as opposed to shifting your weight forward to doing more of a single leg squat type movement.

As for coaching cues, I like to tell people to keep the foam roller steady on the floor and don’t let it tip. I then tell them to lower the weight in line with the foam roller, which helps prevent against them reaching forward as you’ll often see.

If you or your clients struggle with single leg RDLs, I think this simple fix could really help.

Remember that you can subscribe to my You Tube page for more free exercise demos.


Kneeling Chin-ups

Posted on by Ben Bruno

Today I want to share a chin-up variation that I’ve been using a lot the past three months with my clients: kneeling chin-ups.

As the name suggests, it’s just chin-ups done starting from the knees. Here’s a video of my client Ryan doing a set.

I first experimented with these because I was training a very tall basketball in a gym where the chin-up bar was too short for him to be able to do chin-ups with a full range of motion. I had him start from the floor on his knees and set the bar in a power rack to a level that allowed him to get a full range of motion. It allowed him to do chin-ups, but even more than that, I started to like the way the chin-ups looked even better than when he did them normally. So I started doing it with both myself and some more of my clients, and I really like it as a variation for guys that can already do 6-8 regular chin-ups.

The most obvious benefit of this exercise is that it allows taller guys to do chin-ups with a full range of motion. However, it also addresses some of the problems that I often see with chin-ups.

Any trainer or strength coach will tell you that getting clients to go all the way down on chin-ups is an ongoing battle. If you’re lucky your clients will give you a few good reps, but they’ll almost inevitably start cutting them short as the set goes on. When you start on your knees, the floor serves as a depth gauge, similar to the idea of squatting to a box. If you set the bar up initially so that you start in a position where your arms are straight, then you know that if you touch your knees to the floor, you went all the down. If your knees don’t touch, you didn’t. Simple.

Some people get shoulder pain in the dead hang position of chin-ups though, so this variation allows you to achieve full extension without stressing the shoulders in the bottom position.

Beyond ensuring a full range of motion, I’ve noticed that this variation really eliminates, or at least drastically minimizes, swinging and kipping, which are pet peeves of mine. I guess you could call these “Anti Kipping Pullups” :-)

For stronger people I like to have start each rep from a dead stop position like Ryan is doing in the video above. This makes the exercise much harder though, so I reserve it for people that can already do 10-12 regular chin-ups. As a frame of reference, guys that can do 10-12 regular chins will do about 6-7 good reps from the kneeling position from a dead stop. Otherwise, if paused chin-ups are too hard, you can still do them from the kneeling position but just lightly tap the floor each rep without pausing.

You can also do kneeling chin-ups from the rings, which I also like. Just set the rings at a position that allows full arm extension and have at it. Like this:

Give these are try, and remember that you can subscribe to my You Tube page for more video demos.

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