Tag: powerlifting

Master of the Basics

Squats! Everyone knows how to do it right? Just load the bar on your shoulders and start going up and down with your legs. Deadlifts are just picking the bar off the floor. Its so easy that anyone can do it! Its also functional for strength and muscle mass building, surely everyone should do them!

Are Squat and Deadlift All That Simple?

This person was lifting the bar in a bad form while being coached by a bad trainer

Fact is, improper technique for either squat and deadlift will cause injury when its not done properly. Back when I only had an NASM personal training certification, I didn’t realize that my poor squat and deadlift form was harmful to my back. My knee dominant squat movement was damaging my knee. Now that I have properly applied the McGill techniques described in Ultimate Back Fitness and cleaned up my techniques, none of the old injuries became problematic anymore.

Can Anyone Do Standard Squat and Deadlift?

You have probably heard the news floating around on the internet. Some old grandma was having problem simply climbing up the stairs, started deadlifting, and ended up having no problems climbing up the stairs while being super strong in the process. If a grandma can do it, surely anyone can do it too right?

What is the problem with this line of thinking?

There’s a reason why femur head replacement came in different sizes and shapes. Source: The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group

Different hips and spine angle results in different movement range. This is something determined by your DNA and training will not change it. Depending on the depth of your hip socket and your lumbar spine curvature, you might not be able to pick the bar off the floor without flexing your back. Same thing can be said about achieving a deep squat. Hence not everyone can do the standard squat and deadlift movements without high risk of injury. This may sound contradictory to my post on why you should try powerlifting. Just because you can’t do standard deadlift with a perfect form doesn’t mean that you can’t reap the benefits of deadlift exercise.

How You Should Train

Move Well

You must first learn how to move properly. When I was young, the ligaments and spine disks still have the capacity to perform even with faulty movement. But as I age, those injuries pile up and causes pain. Even if you are not in pain now, its not an excuse for you not to learn how to move properly. If your back hurts the day after every leg day, your leg day is definitely breaking your back. If you are unsure, get a proper trainer that actually knows how to coach proper movement.

Move Accordingly

If you are born with hips that will not allow you to pick the bar off the floor with a straight back, you could try using a trap bar or by lifting from a higher position. You won’t be able to compete in a powerlifting meet but you can still reap the benefit of lower body posterior chain strengthening from modified deadlifts. Having said this, it could also be a movement engram i.e. software issue but this is a topic for another day.

Ultimately these “basic moves” are not as simple as it seems and unless you want to experience spine and knee injuries by your mid 30’s (like the author of this article), you should focus on the right way to move for your body. Just like in martial arts, mastering the basics is no simple matter.

Gift of Injury

This book is about healing injury in the athletes back and then building resilience to compete once again. Anyone who trains will enhance their injury resilience and performance employing these principles proven over and over with athletes.

In the highly competitive world of strength athletics, a back injury is seen by many as the ultimate career-ender. In truth, if handled properly, it is far from a death sentence. Follow the journey of international powerlifting champion Brian Carroll, who can attest to this first hand. This remarkable athlete went from 1100 lb squats and 800 lb deadlifts to unending pain and disability after a massive spinal compression injury. After a fortuitous meeting with leading back expert Professor Stuart McGill, he reset his training and his life to fight his way back to the top of the winner’s podium.

Glean expertise from McGill and Carroll, both masters in their field, and learn how to orchestrate your own triumphant comeback. Whether you are a former champion yourself who has fallen on hard times, or someone starting a new foray into the world of strength training who wants to avoid injury and maximize training, the wisdom found within these pages is sure to take your resilience and lifts to the next level.

Over 200 full color, rich illustrations demonstrate technique.

HKD 640 + Handling 45 (Local HK Only!)

 magnus.performance@gmail.com  for Inquiries for shipping to other Asian Countries

Endorsements for Gift of Injury

Foreword by Bill Kazmaier, 3 time World’s Strongest Man:

“I implore any strength athlete, whether they are injured and at their wit’s end, or healthy and striving to achieve their best with longevity, to read this book. The wisdom in these pages has helped me and Brian Carroll, and it will help you.”

From Dr. Aaron Horschig, Author of Squat Bible and owner of SquatUniversity.com

“In a world that pushes pain medication and costly surgery to “fix” back pain, this is a breath of fresh air! Brian Carroll and Dr. Stuart McGill combine for one of the most valuable books ever written on how to correctly address this injury. The Gift of Injury is a brilliant must have book for every strength athlete, coach and medical practitioner.” 

From Blaine Sumner, “Champion of Champions” IPF world record holder and highest Wilks score in powerlifting history:

“Before understanding Dr. McGill’s work, I thought my back injury meant the end of my lifting career. Since absorbing all of his knowledge and applying the lessons in this book to my daily life, my career has been restored. I am stronger than ever – and taking my back health to new heights.”

From Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman, StrongFirst, Inc.

Gift of Injury is an extraordinary book that proves the adage that safety is not the opposite of performance but a part of it. Packed with priceless cues, it is a must for every serious strength athlete and coach. “

From Ed Coan, Greatest Powerlifter of All-time

“Gift of Injury pulls no punches, sheds light on what injury does to your physical and mental health and explains how to beat injury/pain to be happy once again! Every strength athlete should read this book to pull maximum performance out of the body while building injury resilience.”

From Stan Efferding, Worlds Strongest IFBB Pro Bodybuilder

“Back Mechanic and Gift of Injury are as much about injury prevention and performance optimization as they are about rehabilitation. And they’re not just for athletes. The simple and effective methods provide immediate and permanent results for everyone experiencing pain. Dr. McGill and Brian Carroll are changing lives – mine included.” 

From Travis Mash, All-time World Record Holding Powerlifter, Author, Coach and owner of Mashelite.com

“Dr. McGill and Brian Carroll bring you a triumphant story, a coaching/cueing guide, and a blue-print full of principles with 100% unvarnished truth that we as athletes face: Injury happens. In fact, an athlete myself – the opening pages of Gift of Injury truly felt like I was reliving my mid-30’s – where I dealt with debilitating injury on my own, but, without the help of an encyclopedia like GOI. The algorithms in this book are sure to help navigate you toward immediate success not only in a clinical setting but the ever-so-important ‘ultimate performance’ end of the spectrum. I highly suggest this book to anyone who trains!”

Table of Contents

How to read this book
Meet Stuart and Brian


Chapter 1: Breaking Point – the fork in the road

Chapter 2: The Early Years

  • The path
  • Mentorship – everyone needs a mentor
  • The path to powerlifting
  • Creating the monster
  • Tunnel vision
  • Early success

Chapter 3: Charting my spine’s demise

  • Encounters with back pain
  • My luck was starting to run out
  • Bad back to worse – broken back
  • Searching for relief

Chapter 4: Recovery – The athlete and the professor

Chapter 5: The injury explained

Chapter 6: The negotiation


Chapter 7: Commitment and resolve to get better

Chapter 8: A general approach to guide recovery

  • Stage 1: Getting rid of disabling pain
  • Stage 2: The general approach to determining the training program

Chapter 9: Assessment: Testing yourself – the key to designing your rehab-training program

  • Step 1: Assess demands
  • Step 2: Assess the athlete capabilities
  • Step 3: Design the program

Chapter 10: Programming – The foundation for pain-free and resilient training


Chapter 11: Re-inventing a strength athlete 2013-2015


Chapter 12: Re-Mastering the powerlifts for all

  • The 5 basic principles of strength training
  • Your Warm-up guide
  • Coaching the powerlifts
    • – The Squat
    • – The Bench Press
    • – The Deadlift
    • – Programming assistance work for the big lifts

Chapter 13: Training wisdom – lessons earned the hard way

  • Training mindset and approach – the mentality
  • Big weights require big mindset
  • Visualization
  • The night before
  • Game day
  • Final countdown

Chapter 14: Retirement – Knowing when to step away

Chapter 15: Conclusion

5 Reasons Why You Should Try Powerlifting

What is Powerlifting? In short, its how much you can benchpress, squat, and deadlift. Part sport is even part of the Paralympics (just the benchpress) and in US, if your bench, squat and deadlift is below 1000 pound, then you are considered a weakling. Its a shame that your average gym goer is not familiar with the training protocol despite only needing no equipment but a gym membership. Below are the top five reasons why you should try it.

You go to Train, not for working out


Many people go to the gym with the intention of “working out”. Hence many years they would “work out” and never achieve any gain. A powerlifter will go to the gym to “train” for a specific purpose, and every session will build on previous result. He is responsible to himself. Hence training is not a burden, and he will always feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of his session.

Adjusting the training variable to achieve measurable gains


If you ask a random gym goer, he would not be able to answer which program, length of rest, or even number of sets most effective for him, he can probably only answer based on what “fitness article” he previously read. This thinking is even made worse with the latest craze in “functional training“. A powerlifter will always focus his training on increasing his raw strength. That’s why he is highly aware on what training variables works and which doesn’t and how he should tweak his training when he hits a plateau. He takes full responsibility for his training regimen.

Brings plenty of benefits towards personal health

Many people claim that they go to the gym to loose weight, improve their looks or health. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Fact is, training with heavy weights, especially squat and deadlift has been proven to increase testosterone and growth hormone that is highly important to build lean muscle mass and burn fat all over the body. Plenty of research has also proven the positif benefits of weight training towards increasing bone mineral density. This is clearly far more effective than isolated muscle training you normally see at the gym.

Gives high awareness on optimal positioning and movement

Powerlifters routinely place their muscle, bone and joints on far higher weight than bodybuilders and most other athletes. But their serious injury rate is far far lower than bodybuilding and crossfit “athletes” that does far more varied training with lighter weight. This is due to emphasis on proper technique, proper joint movement and optimal use of different muscle for the most efficient force production. Far different than simply using your muscles in isolation such as a leg curl.

Trains instant power production

Fact is, bodybuilders are far weaker than powerlifters of the same size. This is due to how bodybuilders train for hyperthrophy while powerlifters train to fire all cylinders at the same time and achieve maximal output. Do you want to be the kind of person that is just weak but moves slowly?