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Complete List of Weightlifting Cues for Perfect Form & New PRs


When most individuals wish to learn to do an train with correct method, they copy what different individuals do within the gymnasium.

Whereas this technique may help you discover your ft, it will possibly additionally educate you unhealthy habits which can be arduous to uproot in a while. 

The explanation for that is easy: most individuals don’t use correct method, and when you ape them, you’ll find yourself making the identical blunders.

Because the outdated saying goes, follow doesn’t make good—follow makes everlasting

A greater method is to be taught and use what are referred to as weightlifting cues if you’re coaching, particularly when doing compound workout routines just like the squat, bench press, deadlift, and their many variations.

At backside, a weightlifting cue is only a easy reminder that attracts your consideration to a selected side of your type. For instance, the cue “unfold the ground together with your ft,” is a useful weightlifting cue for remembering to maintain your knees from caving in whereas squatting (extra on this cue in a second). 

These psychological mantras could appear trivial and tedious, however when used correctly they will increase your power, repair method foibles, and cut back your threat of harm. 

So, if you wish to be taught one of the best verbal cues for weightlifting for all the most essential workout routines, this text is for you. 

What Makes a Good Weightlifting Cue?

Weightlifting cues fall into two broad classes: inner cues and exterior cues.

Inside cues direct your consideration towards what you’re doing together with your physique. Examples of inner cues embody “push by way of your heels” within the squat, or “brace your core” within the overhead press.

Exterior cues direct your consideration towards how your actions impression an object in your atmosphere. Examples of exterior cues embody “push the ground away” within the deadlift, or “break the bar in half” within the bench press.

Though this may occasionally appear to be splitting hairs, research reveals that exterior cues are far superior to inner ones for rapidly mastering new expertise.

Research present that exterior cues assist you . . .

For this reason research have discovered that using an exterior focus is superior to an inner focus in nearly each sport you’ll be able to consider, from soccer, basketball, and soccer to golf, determine skating, and dart throwing. 

If you wish to make exterior cues as efficient as doable, it helps to . . .

  1. Make your weightlifting type cues brief—six phrases or much less works finest. This makes them straightforward to recollect and repeat in your head as you carry out an train.
  2. Begin the cue with a verb akin to “drive,” “crush,” or “explode” that immediately pertains to the way you wish to transfer (and keep away from utilizing adverbs akin to “rapidly push,” or nouns akin to “the bar must be beneath your eyes”). This retains the cues succinct and clear.
  3. Solely give attention to one cue at a time. Attempting to focus on greater than this dilutes your focus and muddles your actions.

That stated, inner cues have their place. When you’ve already mastered correct method for an train, inner cues may help fine-tune different points of your method. Don’t put the horse earlier than the cart, although, and ensure you give attention to exterior cues first (usually throughout your first 6-to-12 months of studying a brand new train).

For instance, as soon as your squat type is essentially squared away, you would possibly desire to make use of a much less particular, exterior cue like “explode” if you resolve the rep. 

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Weightlifting Cues for the Again Squat

1. “Unfold the ground together with your ft.”

The issue: Your knees collapse in towards each other as you arise within the squat.

The repair: Take into consideration spreading the ground aside together with your ft by driving your ft into the bottom and away from one another (although they shouldn’t really transfer). This prevents your knees from caving inward, will increase the activation of your glutes, and allows you to elevate extra weight with a decrease threat of ache or injury.

2. “Slam the bar into the ceiling.”

The issue: Your hips rise quicker than your shoulders as you arise within the squat.

The repair: Give attention to driving your again into the bar as you start to face up within the squat. This prevents you from leaning too far ahead, which wastes vitality and should improve your threat of lower back harm. It additionally ensures that your quads, hamstrings, and glutes work together that can assist you elevate heavy masses with good type. 

3. “Explode out of the outlet.”

The issue: You decelerate about midway by way of the rep and battle to finish it.

The repair: “The outlet” refers back to the bottommost place of the squat. Essentially the most troublesome a part of the squat is when your hips are about 6-to-12 inches larger than they’re if you’re “within the gap,” also referred to as the “sticking level.” 

“Explode out of the outlet” reminds you to push arduous on the backside of the squat to construct momentum that may assist propel you thru the sticking level. When you don’t, the burden slows down and also you expend extra vitality grinding by way of the final a part of the rep. (This can be a good instance of a worthwhile inner cue).

Weightlifting Cues for the Entrance Squat

1. “Contact the ceiling together with your elbows.”

The issue: Your elbows drop in order that they level towards the ground as a substitute of straight out in entrance of you, inflicting the bar to slip down your shoulders and your torso to tip ahead.

The repair: All through your complete train—although significantly as you arise—give attention to driving your elbows towards the ceiling. This lets you keep a superb “entrance rack” place which prevents the barbell from slipping off your shoulders. 

2. “Grip the ground.”

The issue: You are feeling such as you would possibly fall ahead and/or really feel unsteady all through the rep.

The repair: Attempt to “grip” the ground together with your massive toe, pinky toe, and heel. This ensures the bar strikes straight up and down over your heart of gravity, which helps you are feeling extra steady and lets you elevate heavier weights.

3. “Have a look at the ceiling.”

The issue: You look down mid-rep, inflicting your elbows to drop in order that they level towards the ground as a substitute of straight out in entrance of you, the bar slips off your shoulders, and your torso suggestions ahead.

The repair: Usually talking, the place the eyes look, the physique follows. Trying on the ceiling reminds you to gaze upward, which helps hold your elbows excessive, which retains the bar in place, which improves your posture, effectivity, power, and luxury. Don’t look immediately up on the ceiling, however tilt your head again barely so you’ll be able to see some a part of the ceiling if you look upward.

Weightlifting Cues for the Deadlift

1. “Crush oranges in your armpits.”

The issue: Your shoulders hunch ahead mid-rep through the deadlift, which banjaxes your stability, wastes vitality, and presumably will increase your threat of harm.

The repair: Attempt to squeeze the juice out of two imaginary oranges which can be wedged in your armpits. Whereas this sounds unusual, it . . . 

  • Ensures your shoulders are in the precise beginning place, which helps you elevate extra weight and keep constant type from one rep to the subsequent. 
  • Helps stop your upper-back from rounding (which reduces the chance of your lower-back rounding). 
  • Helps you get your complete physique into the right place earlier than you pull, which helps you elevate extra weight. 

That is one other instance of a worthwhile inner cue (though it might be exterior if the oranges had been actual, anyway . . .).

2. “Push your butt again.”

The issue: Your lower-back rounds as you arise.

The repair: Pushing your butt again does two essential issues:

  1. It helps flatten your again, which reduces your threat of harm and helps you elevate extra weight.
  2. It ensures your hips are on the applicable peak if you start every repetition, which saves vitality and thus helps you elevate extra weight.

Once more, it is a good instance of an efficient inner cue, although you may additionally make it exterior by saying “push your again in opposition to the ceiling.” 

3. “Drag the bar up your legs.”

The issue: You let the bar drift ahead a number of inches in entrance of your shins, which wastes vitality and will increase the chance of rounding your again. 

The repair: Take into consideration dragging the bar up your shins, over your knees, and up your thighs till you’re standing up straight. This reduces the space the bar has to journey and makes it simpler to keep up a straight again.

(When you have a sanguinary creativeness, it’s also possible to fake that the bar is a big vegetable peeler, and also you’re making an attempt to shave the pores and skin off the entrance of your legs. Grisly, however memorable!)

Weightlifting Cues for the Bench Press

1. “Deliver your chest to the bar.”

The issue: Your shoulder blades slide out to the facet and up towards your head when bench urgent, which causes you to lose “tightness” in your higher again, reduces your higher physique stability, and wastes vitality that may very well be used to elevate extra weight.

The repair: As an alternative of occupied with bringing the bar to your chest, take into consideration bringing your chest as much as meet the bar. Pushing your chest towards the bar ensures your shoulder blades keep “again and down” and in a secure place, your pecs do the lion’s share of the work, and your again stays engaged, which provides you a extra steady base to press from. 

2. “Screw your ft into the ground.”

The issue: You chill out your decrease physique, which reduces your torso stability and thus how a lot weight you’ll be able to elevate.

The repair: As you arrange for the bench press, think about screwing your ft into the ground by turning your toes out to the facet. This creates pressure in your legs which increases the steadiness and rigidity of your complete physique, guaranteeing you don’t waste vitality throughout your units making an attempt to keep up your stability.

3. “Break the bar in half.”

The issue: You chill out your grip on the bar, which reduces your potential to provide power and permits your wrists to bend backward barely, losing vitality and presumably rising your threat of harm.

The repair: Take into consideration snapping the barbell in half together with your arms. The aim right here is to keep up a robust grip on the bar all through your complete rep, which helps you press heavier weights and retains your wrists within the correct place.

Weightlifting Cues for the Overhead Press

1. “Push your head by way of the window.”

The issue: You push the bar too far in entrance of your physique, which wastes vitality and reduces how a lot you’ll be able to press.

The repair: As quickly because the bar is over your brow, push your head beneath the bar and between your arms (“the window”). This helps you keep tightness in your shoulders and higher again, and aligns your physique in order that your arms, shoulders, hips, and ft are stacked on high of one another beneath the bar.

2. “Throw the bar into the ceiling.”

The issue: You fail the rep someplace between eye degree and the highest of your brow.

The repair: Failing the overhead press because the bar reaches your brow is quite common as a result of it’s at this level that your physique is in an inherently weakened place (your elbows aren’t stacked over shoulders, and your wrists aren’t stacked over your elbows). One of the best ways to work by way of this “sticking level” is to create as a lot momentum as doable as you push the bar off your shoulders. An efficient cue for that is “throw the bar into the ceiling,” as a result of it encourages you to maneuver as rapidly and forcefully as doable.

3. “Squeeze your glutes.”

The issue: You chill out your decrease physique, after which should waste vitality making an attempt to keep up your posture all through every rep.

The repair: Squeezing your glutes helps to convey your physique into alignment (hips over ft, shoulders over hips, arms over shoulders) which improves your stability and will increase how a lot you’ll be able to elevate. 

Once more, that is one other instance of an honest inner cue. If you wish to make it exterior, think about you’re making an attempt to pinch a bank card between your butt cheeks.

Weightlifting Cues for the Pull-up and Chin-up

1. “Smash your chest into the bar.”

The issue: You battle to get your chin above the bar as you attain the highest of the rep.

The repair: The resistance curve of the pull-up and chin-up is such that the toughest a part of every rep is getting your chin over the bar. A great way to get round that is to think about pulling your self up with sufficient power to “smash” your chest into the bar. This helps you assault every rep with the depth that you must get your chin over the bar.

Whereas this would possibly sound harmful, it’s possible you’ll not even contact your chest to the bar and even when you do, it received’t be arduous sufficient to harm. Pinky swear.

One other cue that serves the identical function is “slam your elbows into the ground.” Mess around with each and see which you favor.

2. “Keep tight.”

The issue: As you get deeper right into a set you begin to swing your legs and use momentum to get further reps, which reduces the effectiveness of the train.

The repair: Bracing your core, arching your again, and squeezing your glutes—or “staying tight”—when you do pull-ups and chin-ups prevents you from swinging. This . . . 

  1. Prevents you from utilizing momentum to make your reps simpler, in order that your back and arms are pressured to do a lot of the work.
  2. Reduces how a lot vitality you waste preserving your physique from swinging, which suggests you’ll be able to put extra vitality into pulling your physique as much as the bar. 

(That’s why you typically hear individuals say the maxim “tighter is lighter”).

3. “Do a reverse shrug.”

The issue: You battle to really feel your lats working throughout pull-ups and chin-ups.

The repair: On the backside of a pull-up or chin-up, decrease your self in order that your shoulders rise as much as your ears and also you’re in a “lifeless hold” place. Earlier than you begin the subsequent rep, although, do a “reverse shrug,” pulling your shoulder blades collectively and down, after which end your rep. This may appear like one clean movement if you do it accurately, and should not look any completely different from how most individuals do pull-ups and chin-ups, however it helps extra completely practice the lats.  

Weightlifting Cues for the Barbell Row

1. “Slam your elbows into the ceiling.”

The issue: You fail to the touch your higher physique with the bar on the high of every rep.

The repair: The barbell row is most troublesome if you’re at your weakest—when the bar is only a few inches out of your torso. Whilst you can’t change the physics concerned, you’ll be able to bear in mind to elevate extra explosively, constructing momentum that can assist you get by way of this noisome sticking level. An awesome cue for that is to “slam your elbows into the ceiling.” This cue additionally helps you have interaction your mid traps, which ought to assist you elevate extra weight.

2. “Drive your ft into the ground.”

The issue: You battle to “pop” the burden off the ground.

The repair: Simply earlier than you provoke the pull from the ground, remind your self to drive your ft into the ground. This helps you prolong your legs explosively to construct the momentum that you must full every rep. 

3. “Push your chest into the ground.”

The issue: You make the barbell row simpler and fewer efficient by “whipping” your higher physique backward.

The repair: As you begin to pull the barbell towards your higher physique, think about pushing your chest towards the ground. This helps stop the urge to lean too far backward and forces you to make use of your lats to elevate the burden, moderately than counting on momentum. 

+ Scientific References

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