Never never never get caught consistently curving your lower back during pressing movements. Again, something I see far too much of. I know we have all heard that you shouldnt bend your back too much when doing bench press, but I also see it way too much on seated shoulder press. It is the bodies natural instinct to allow this curvature in order to move more weight, but this extreme forced lordosis can create a whole mess of hassle down the road. You do not want to end up one of the 90% of the population who suffers from CLBP (chronic low back pain). Whether it be a bench press or a shoulder press, engage abdominal muscles to contract the spinal column back during the pressing movement. A good way to practice this is to lay on your back in the sit up position, and simply contract your abs so that your lumbar (lower back) region comes in contact with the floor. Get a good connection with the muscles that are involved with this and practice it often to keep a good musculature balance.
*Sorry for the lack of tips, I just finished up finals and then have been on the road for the holidays but expect things to pick up again!*
Get to know your stretching! This tip comes somewhat in response to the recent discussion about stretching. First and foremost, static stretching should never be done in excess before doing resistance training. The wise alternative would be to an ADW (active dynamic warm-up) type warm up. And of course this should be done after a short cardiovascular warm-up to slightly increase core temperature. Muscle is a very complex tissue and it acts somewhat like a rubber band. Any time you stretch a rubber band too much, it loses its elasticity. This is very similar to what happens to a muscle when you stretch it too much and remember that elasticity is crucial towards power development during a lift. The best analogy I have ever heard of for this is thinking of the muscle as a slinky. It acts in a very similar way. Just like a slinky, it stretches and then contracts. If you stretch a slinky out too much for too long, it eventually loses its ability to "contract" or recoil as well.
I would like to touch on another reason why you should not static stretch too much or too extreme. While flexibility (to a point) is a good property to possess with you muscles, increasing a joints ROM can have adverse effects. The greater a joints range of motion, the greater it's risk of injury-plain and simple. Having muscles that are loose enough to avoid injury but tight enough to control joints is the ideal situation for power production and injury prevention. In conclusion, foam roll often, do an ADW type warm up before a workout, and a moderate static stretch following a workout (this should not inflict pain but rather be pushed to a point of mild discomfort), and you will be setting yourself up for an ideal musculature.
Squat right or dont squat at all! This tip comes in regards to my recent frustration with being surrounded by individuals squating with terrible form. The first thing that you have to make sure to do if you ever want to be a successful squater and have the best development possible is that your heels stay on the ground! Furthermore, the weight of the squat should be driven through the heel of the feet and NOT the ball of the foot. There is a couple reasons for this. When you keep the weight on your heels, it tends to put the force on the hip joint more and less on the knee joint. The Hip is a little more stable and strong than the knee so this is a huge plus! The next reason is for balanced muscles. When you keep the weight on the heels you will activate glutes and hamstrings more with sufficient quad stimulation as opposed to mostly quad usage if you drive through the balls of your feet. I would say that 95% of clients that I run a postural movement analysis on have underactive glutes so dont let this be you! The next thing to pay attention to is the upper body. You got to love it when you see a person doing a "squat" and it ends up looking more like a good morning because they lean over so far. This excess forward lean puts a tremendous amount of stress on the lower back and can also lead to herniated discs. As a general rule of thumb, your lower leg and your spine should line up parallel when you are at the bottom of your squat. Try having a buddy look at this for you or even video record yourself squatting sometime to make sure that you meet this criteria. Keeping your head up and shoulder blades together can help with this. If you find it difficult to do either of these refer to my foam rolling thread. If you struggle with excess forward lean, try placing a ten lb plate under your foot and do a body weight squat. If it is easier for you to stay upright with an elevated heel than you better find a foam roller and work those calves out! It is a sure fire sign that your calves are tighter than a nun!
In conclusion, the squat is a great exercise but make sure that you are doing it correctly for maximum results!
I think that's a pretty good tip as far as squatting goes; it's pretty general but good none the less.
Only thing I'd like to add about the forward lean is tight hip flexors. Most people have tight hip flexors and even some elite athletes. So, low-load long duration stretches are good and psoas stretches, too. Most importantly, get off your butt and don't sit down for several hours every day.
Great advice Creator, I see the same thing with squats as well. I also see those that lean over too far cannot break into a certain "poundage" they want to achieve with this being their inhibiting problem. You always want to eliminate a potential "weak link" and this being lower back in this instance. A more upright position will not only help you squat more, but will ensure that you will be squatting longer.