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Episode 249: Compass Presses Part 2 – Spinal Tilting Modifications

Video Highlights

- Spinal tilting reasoning.
- Clear explanation of drill.
- Encouragement to explore.

Today we’re going to look at what we call Compass Spine Presses.

In last week’s blog, we went over what we call Compress Presses. Basically, imagine that I’m standing in the middle of a compass, moving into each of the eight different positions while pressing. We did that single arm and also with a band on both sides.

Now for this week what we want to do is add an additional complication to it.

One of the ideas that we’re always trying to get across in strength training is that we need to emulate as much as possible in our strength training what we may encounter in the real world, and a lot of that comes down to the vector by which we create the force.

So one of the things we often see is that in a gym setting, because we’re so focused on always maintaining perfect spinal position, sometimes we leave movements unexplored that would be very important in the real world.

So what we’re going to today is something a little bit different.

We’re going to continue on with our Compress Presses, again imagining I’m standing in the middle of a compass. I’m going to step out into each of the lines and I’m going to press. So I’m going to go anterior, anterior 45, lateral etc. So I’ll work my way around.

Now as I do that we’re now going to add in some spinal tilting to it. Again, this feels a little bit odd for people in the beginning, but what we’re going to focus on today is a right lateral tilt.

So I’m going to right lateral tilt my spine, step forward and press. And then I’m going to right lateral tilt, step into an anterior 45 lunge and press. And I’m going to right lateral tilt, step into a left lateral lunge and press.

And as you do this, what you’re going to find is a lot of strange feeling muscle contractions. You’ll notice in your intercostal muscles, your obliques, your abdomen, your back, your stabilizers, that maybe you do not typically feel in the type of exercises that you typically do.

Fit woman lunging laterally while stretching exercise band over her head.

Again, one of the advantages of this, I’ll step into a posterior 45, right laterally tilt and press, is we consider this what we call Strength Mapping. It allows you to very sequentially play with, and get a feel for, what would it feel like to create force in this given position.

So once you’ve done that with one arm, you then want to go back and repeat with two arms.

So again, I could preset my body into that right lateral tilt, step into my anterior 45 or anterior lunge, and press with both arms. I could go to the opposite side. So again, preset, right lateral tilt this time, and right lunge and press.

Again what will also happen when you go to the two band version is that you’re going to get a variability in the amount of force that you’re having to produce, based off where the bands are anchored.

I find that to be, again, very useful for athletes because in the real world, most of the stuff that we’re pushing against or working against is not a consistent weight across the bar.

So really, really cool, fun kind of experiential drill.

In terms of your goals, what I like to have people do is start off with just right and left lateral tilt exercises.

We can eventually add rotations and tilts, extensions and flexions and other spinal positions into it, but in general, a big bang for your buck is just working on these lateral tilt exercises with the press.

As you’re working through your compass, aim for five repetitions of right lateral tilt, five repetitions of left lateral tilt in each of the eight positions.

If you start doing the math on that, it’s pretty high volume. So when you’re doing the work, make sure that the bands that you’re using are not too difficult for you to press.

And again, think of this as an experiential or exploratory drill to understand how to create force in different body positions.

This is a fantastic drill pretty much across the board for every athlete that I work with and everyone that lives in the real world where we have to move things that are not as well designed as most of our typical fitness equipment.

So play with this, let us know if you have any questions. Otherwise, good luck.

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