CRISIS MODE: The State of Health & Fitness

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but we’re in the midst of a serious health crisis.

We really shouldn’t be surprised. I mean, we’re experiencing record rates of obesity, systemic disease, and orthopedic pain and injuries.

Just look around, it’s abundantly clear we’re in need of a serious change because this problem affects all aspects of life. People are overwhelmed, overfed, and overstimulated and it’s only getting worse.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ve heard me talk about how crowded the health and fitness industry is. And how terrible most health, longevity, and performance solutions really are.

This isn’t my opinion—it’s a fact

Nearly all of my private 1:1 coaching clients have tried countless training programs, coaches, and diets that failed to deliver the results they promised.

I’d even go as far as to say most of them are in ‘EMERGENCY mode’ by the time they find me.
I know there are a few people who’ll think I’m being ‘dramatic’ when I say we’re in crisis mode. But I’m not the only one who believes this. I have DATA to support my beliefs.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine used current trends and projected… by 2030:

  • One in two adults in the U.S. will be considered obese.
  • One in four will be considered severely obese, with a BMI of 40 or higher.
  • And obesity rates will climb to over 50% in over 29 states.

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Figure 1. Obesity Rates around the World

Which is scary as hell, considering increased obesity has been directly linked to:

  • Type 2 diabetes

  • High blood pressure

  • Coronary heart disease

  • Stroke

  • Cancer

  • Gallbladder disease

  • Sleep apnea

  • Osteoarthritis

  • Fatty liver disease

  • Kidney disease

  • Pregnancy problems

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • And the list goes on…

To take it a step further, The World Health Organization found that the global average life expectancy INCREASED by 5.5 years between 2000 and 2016. So even though people are living longer, we’re seeing a DECREASE in “healthy years.”

Meaning, people are LOSING their health, resiliency, and performance years SOONER than they should be. This is what affects most people in my world.

The problem is, traditional healthcare (and the fitness industry) is NOT set up to fix the problem

Traditional healthcare isn’t helping.

Most doctors, trainers, and experts are so quick to prescribe short-term bandaids that treat symptoms, instead of the problem.

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These aren’t solutions! They’re bandaids that address symptoms. They do NOTHING to treat the actual problem.

So when the majority of society plays by their rules? When they get wrapped into quick-fix solutions? When they get suckered by the overnight fitness coaches and programs with no REAL results or systems that back up their methods?

They can kiss their dreams of unlocking their true health, longevity, and performance potential goodbye.

If you’re reading this article I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir when I say…

If you lose your health, nothing else matters

But when it comes to losing your health, I’m not just talking about being obese, deathly sick, or developing a disease.

I’m also talking about the “normal” declines in health, longevity, and performance that most people just chalk up to being a normal part of aging.

You turn 30 and they say “wait until you turn 40.” In your 40’s they say “wait until you turn 50.” In your 50’s they say “wait until you turn 60.” And it never stops.

Tired, achy, weak, and uncoordinated becomes the norm. In fact, it’s what’s EXPECTED.

First, it’s your power. Running, jumping, catching yourself from falling after a slip, and anything else that requires you to generate force goes out the window.

Since you’re unable to generate power efficiently, your muscles don’t activate optimally. When you combine this decrease in activation with a decline in muscle-building hormones, you begin to lose muscle mass FAST.

A loss in muscle mass is also accompanied by a drop in coordination. And when your coordination suffers, you can kiss your balance goodbye.

Because the body begins to tighten the joints and decrease range of motion to stay safe. It’s the only way it can protect itself.

But let’s get something straight…

You’re NOT “just getting old”

When people’s quality of life and physical skills (and abilities) decline, it is NOT because of age.
It’s from a lack of proper training AND from learned disuse.

Meaning, you’re telling your body it’s not important and you don’t need it. I always think about the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin here. He asks “Is it true is you don’t use it, you lose it?!”

This is especially true when it comes to your physical skills, abilities, and characteristics that go into a high-performance life.

Age is NOT an excuse not to be able to move, function or perform the way our body was designed to. In fact…

You can literally REVERSE the aging process with smarter, more individualized training

To be clear, it’s important to note that training is a tool. Just like a hammer is a tool, it can be used for many different things. Both good and bad.

Your training should invigorate every aspect of your life. NOT leave you broken, burned out, or feeling like shit. People put so much effort into trying to reclaim their health, only to end up broken down, burned out, and hurt.

Most training programs and coaches determine the effectiveness of a training session on sweat, fatigue, and soreness. Let’s get clear on something. Any old “workout” can make you tired, sweaty and fatigued.

These are extremely poor indicators of an effective workout. It takes an intelligent approach to achieve your goals. Especially if you want to look better, feel better, and have a healthier body into your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

Your training should excite you. It should motivate you. It should be fun. And it should be something that you look forward to. Your training should ALSO produce results and help you achieve your goals. Because eventually the novelty of “fun” wears off, and your willpower is put to the test.

Knowing, in the back of your mind, that your training is making you BETTER… is the thing that will keep you pushing through the tough times. And at the end of the day… Becoming a healthier, fitter, and more empowered human-being is FUN in itself.

When done properly, age is NO LONGER A DISABILITY. It’s just a number. Pain and injuries are few and far between. You recover from training sessions faster. You bounce back from flare-ups quicker than ever. You look and feel your best. And you’re doing things other people your age couldn’t even fathom.

My private online coaching clients perform BETTER in their 40’s than they did in their 20’s, thanks to proper training.

Intelligent training CHANGES lives

Slowly but surely, people realize that DAILY HABITS fuels long-term progress.

Because achieving optimal health isn’t about crossing the finish line as fast as possible. And it can NOT solely be measured by a number on a scale.

Optimal health is a LIFESTYLE that you choose to live.

A lifestyle that helps you live LONGER and live BETTER.

If you want a positive shift in health, longevity, and performance… while reversing the aging process?

If you want to battle-back against chronic aches and pains while building a strong, lean and resilient body?

If you want to take your physique and performance to the next level?

You must STOP chasing calories in the gym and kitchen…

And shift your focus on building strength, transforming your physique and bulletproofing your body for life.

I truly feel one of my ‘jobs’ is to keep you well informed about this. I hope this served that purpose.

About The Author

dr john rusin

Dr. John Rusin is a sports performance specialist and injury prevention expert that has coached some of the world’s most elite athletes including multiple Olympic gold medalists, NFL & MLB All-Star performers, and professional athletes from 11 different sports. Dr. Rusin has also managed some of the most successful barbell sport athletes in the world including world record holding powerlifters, CrossFit Games athletes, and IFBB professional bodybuilders and physique athletes. His innovative pain-free performance programs have been successfully used by over 25,000 athletes, which has gained him the reputation as the go-to industry expert for rebuilding after pain, injuries or plateaus. Dr. Rusin is also the founder of the Pain-Free Performance Specialist Certification (PPSC) that has certified over 1500 personal trainers, strength coaches and rehab pros from across the globe in his methods over the past two years.

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The Old School 70’s Bodybuilding Routine

The 1970’s produced the most impressive male physiques the world has ever seen. The bodybuilders of the 70’s made Zeus and Hercules look like pencil necks. In this article we will take a look at the 70’s bodybuilding workout routine – and how the 70’s bodybuilders achieved their near perfect physiques.

Current bodybuilders look like pregnant cows with zero bodyfat, in other words, they look absolutely ridiculous. The 70’s bodybuilders were the ideal physique of man – they had low bodyfat, but not so low they looked sick, they had small waists with abdominals clearly defined, big chests, wide lats, big shoulders, and big arms.

They had perfect V-tapers. A V-taper is when the male upper body has a “V” shape. Starting with wide shoulders, wide lats, and moving down in size to a tight waist – like a “V”. 

In this article we will review the de-facto bodybuilding routine of bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Frank Zane, Franco Columbu, Lou Ferrigno, Boyer Coe, Bill Grant, Mike Mentzer, Serge Nubret and other bodybuilders from the golden era of bodybuilding.

The workout routine they used was a high-volume approach. In lay-mans terms ‘high volume’ means they did a whole lot of work to achieve their physiques. Both in the gym and in the “kitchen”.

Todays top bodybuilders follow a routine of working out one bodypart per week for one hour per workout session. For example they may work Chest on Monday, Back on Tuesday, rest on Wednesday, Legs on Thursday, Shoulders and Arms on Friday, and rest on Saturday and Sunday.

The 70’s era bodybuilders were in the gym 6 days per week doing lots of heavy work, resting very little, and spending a long time in the gym to achieve the look of perfection.

Their routine was not set in stone. A trainer must use his instinct to find what works for him. We will look at the bodypart splits (the days they worked each muscle groups) and the exercises they used. It is for the reader to determined his choice of exercises and rep scheme (the amount of reps you will do per set).

Bodybuilding in the 1970’s was about achieving perfection of the male body. 70’s bodybuilding was about building the most aesthetic, muscular and strong body attainable by man. Below we will look at how they accomplished this.

This is the de-facto bodypart split of the 1970’s era bodybuilders:

Monday: Chest and Back

Tuesday: Shoulders and Arms

Wednesday: Legs

Thursday: Chest and Back

Friday: Shoulders and Arms

Saturday: Legs

Sunday: Rest

Abdominals (Abs), Calves, Neck and Trapezius work was done 4-6 times per week or as needed.

The seventies bodybuilders would typically start their routine with abdominal or calf work (if needed).

After the abs and calves they would start with their hardest and heaviest exercise. The exercises they used were the most basic, multi-joint movement that build the most muscle. They would start with the hardest and heaviest and work towards the lightest exercises.

Exercise Selection

Monday and Thursday

Chest Exercises:

Flat Barbell Bench Press / Incline Barbell Bench Press / Dips / Chest Flyes / Dumbbell Pullovers

Back Exercises:

Pullups / Chinups / Bent Rows / T-Bar Rows / Deadlifts

Tuesday and Friday

Shoulder Exercises:

Military Press / Behind the Neck Press / Dumbbell Overhead Press (Arnold/Scott Press) / Front Dumbbell Raises / Side Dumbbell Raises

Biceps Exercises:

Barbell Curls / Dumbbell Curls / Incline Dumbbell Curls / Concentration Curls

Triceps Exercises:

Standing French Press / Skullcrushers / Close Grip Bench Press / Cable Pulldowns / Cable Pushdowns

Wednesday and Saturday

Leg Exercises:

Squats / Hack Squats / Leg Press / Leg Extensions / Leg Curls

Daily or as Needed

Abdominal Exercises:

Situps / Rope Crunches

Calf Exercises:

Standing Calf Raises / Donkey Calf Raises / Seated Calf Raises

Forearm Exercises:

Seated Barbell Wrist Curls/ Reverse Barbell Wrist Curls / Behind the Back Barbell Wrist Curls / Hammer Curls / Reverse Barbell Curls

Neck exercises:

Wrestlers Bridges / Neck Curls / Neck Harness Curls

 Sample Routine

This is a sample workout routine that can be used to get started on the Old School 70’s Bodybuilding Routine:

Monday and Thursday:


Flat Barbell Bench Press – 5 sets / 1-12 reps per set

Incline Bench Press – 5 Sets / 5-12 reps per set

Flat Bench Dumbbell Flyes – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set


Chinups – As many sets as it takes to complete 50 Chinups

Bent Rows – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set

T-Bar Rows – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set

Notes: The rep scheme should fall between 5-12 reps per set, depending on how heavy the weight is, with 8 reps being ideal. You will start with lightweight and move up in weight with each set.

Always start this day with Flat Barbell Bench Press. You will do 5 total sets. Each set you will go up in weight 10, 15, or 20 lbs depending on strength level. You will want to end this exercise as heavy as possible, even with only 1 or 2 reps. This will “activate” your strength and allow you to lift heavier in all your next exercises.

A favorite of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s was to combine Chest and Back exercises into a superset. That means doing two exercises in a row without stopping. For example: he would do a set of Flat Barbell Bench Press and then immediately do a set of Chinups without rest. Arnold would continue like that until all 5 sets were finished.

Supersetting Chest and Back is an excellent way to build muscle, sweat out toxins and burn bodyfat because it’s very hard work.

Example Chest/Back Superset Routine:

Flat Barbell Bench Press superset with Chinups – 5 sets / 5-12 reps per set of Bench Press, as many chinups as possible per set

Incline Barbell Bench Press superset with Barbell Bent Rows – 5 sets / 5-12 reps per set

Chest Dumbbell Flyes superset with T-Bar Rows – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Tuesday and Friday:


Behind the Neck Barbell Press – 5 sets / 5-12 reps per set

Arnold/Scott Press – 5 Sets / 8-12 reps per set

Lateral Dummbell Raises – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set


Barbell Curls – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Incline Dumbbell Curls – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Concentration Curls – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set


Close Grip Bench Press – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Standing French Press – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Cable or Rope Pushdowns/Pulldowns – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set


The Trapezius muscles (traps) are the muscle connecting the neck and the shoulders. Some trainers traps may need some additional work. For a man with narrow clavicles it is generally advisable to avoid trap work. For a man with wide clavicles trap work is usually necessary.

Trapezius exercises:

Barbell Shrugs / Dumbbell Shrugs / Farmers Walks

Notes: Always start this day with the Barbell Shoulders Presses. Those with shoulder problems can substitute the Behind the Neck Barbell Press with Standing Military Press (Barbell Presses to the front). The rep scheme should fall between 5-12 reps with 8 being the ideal. Start the Barbell Press with light weight and move up in weight with each set until you are hitting about 5 reps.  The Arnold/Scott Press and the Lateral DB Raises should be performed with 8-12 reps per set.

The Biceps and Triceps exercises should be performed with 8-12 reps per set. Heavier weight does not need to be used with each set.

To save time and get an insane pump the Biceps and Triceps exercises can be supersetted. To do that you will do one exercise of Biceps immediately followed by one Tricpes exercises until all sets and exercises are completed.

Example Biceps/Triceps Superset Routine:

Standing Barbell Curls superset with Close Grip Bench Press – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Incline Dumbbell Curls superset with Standing French Press – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Concentration Curls superset with Rope Pulldowns – 5 sets / 8-12 reps per set

Wednesday and Saturday:


Squats – 5 sets / 5-20 reps per set

Hack Squats – 5 sets / 8-20 reps per set

Lying Leg Curls – 5 sets / 8-20 reps per set

Leg Extensions – 5 sets / 8-20 reps per set

Notes: Always start Leg day with Squats because they are the hardest exercise. The squats will be performed in the same fashion as the Flat Bench Press. We will start with a lightweight and move up in weight with each set. The first set of Squats will be done with the empty bar for approx. 20 reps. Then you will add weight with each set depending on your strength levels, ending the 5th set with anywhere between 1-5 reps.

The Legs respond very well to higher rep schemes so we will keep the low end of the other leg exercises at 8 reps and the high end at 20 reps per set.

Abs and Calves as Needed:

Both Abs and Calves respond well to higher rep ranges. 20 reps per set is good for calves and even more than that is good for abs. You will need to experiment with the suggested exercises to find what works best for you. Both abs and calves can be worked up to 6 times per week. Arnold Schwarzenegger started every workout with calf work and wrist/forearm work and ended each workout with ab work.

Forearm Work as Needed:

Forearm work can be done on Tuesdays and Fridays along with Biceps and Triceps work. Forearm work can also be done on any other days the trainer sees fit. Forearms can handle a lot of work and some trainers will need to do a lot of forearm work to get their forearms to grow. Forearms can be done in rep changes of 8-12 reps per set.

Neck Work as Needed:

Some trainers will need to do neck work and some won’t. The neck can grow from heavy breathing during exercises like Squats, Overhead Pressing and Deadlifts but some trainers will need to do additional work. Neck work should be done in the rep ranges of 8-20. Neck work can be done 2-3 times per work or more if needed. Neck work is essential if trainer does not have naturally big and/or muscular neck.

Notes about the Old School 70’s Workout Routine

Old school bodybuilders trained for strength as well as muscle size. They would often do an exercise as heavy as can be until they found their one rep max. Each week a trainer can pick one exercise and go as heavy as possible to find their one rep max. The perfect exercises to do a one rep max on are the Flat Barbell Bench Press, the Deadlift, and the Squat.

The Deadlift is not included in the sample workout above but can be added to any back day for ultimate strength and mass gains. The deadlift should not be performed for over 5 reps. It is a heavy weight exercise designed to build ultimate strength. Warmup with light weight and add progressively heavier weight to obtain your one rep max.

When following the 70’s workout routine be sure to not take too long of a rest period. One minute rest per set/superset is good. Resting very little and working very hard provides excellent fat-burning benefits.

Diet and Eating

Bodybuilders of the Golden Era ate BIG. In particular, they ate a lot of protein and saturated fat. Whole raw eggs were consumed by many as a staple protein/fat source. Steak, Beef, Chicken, and Tuna were staple protein sources as well. Carbohydrates were eaten during “bulking” (putting on weight) phases and were gradually reduced during “cutting” (losing weight) phases. Many of them made their own protein shakes consisting of raw eggs, milk powder and whatever else they could think to add.

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Why Can’t I Get into Shape?!

Today at the gym there was only myself and another fellow, a portly man, “working out”. Sunday is a rather easy gym day for me, I just go in and have fun.

I started my workout with deep squats. The other fellow in the gym was sitting at a chest press machine occasionally pushing some light weight, but mostly just sitting.

I am doing set after set of heavy, ass-to-grass squats, adding weight with each set. The fellow is just staring at me the whole time while he sits on his machine.

After about 10 sets of heavy squats (singles) I decide to superset sprints and squats. I warm up with a light jog the length of the gym and back. He watches me. I hit a set of squats. He watches me. I do another warmup run. He watches me.

I do my sprints – the length of the gym and back as fast as I can. Then I go for a set of squats. He moves to another machine, sits down, and keeps watching me.

I finish 5 sets of sprints and squats and he is still sitting on his machine, watching me, wondering to himself “Why can’t I look like that guy?


1) Get off your ass. Sitting down is for the lazy. Winners stand. If you want to sit down go back to your couch.

2) Excuses are for assholes. I’m naturally skinny-fat with long monkey arms and a thin bone structure. Boo fucking hoo.  If I can build something you can build something.

3) Pick up something heavy. Put it down. Do it again.

4) Don’t quit when it gets hard. That’s when it starts to get good. Keep going.

5) Sweating is good for you. If you ain’t sweatin’ you’re just bullshittin’. Especially if it’s summer. In winter you can wear clothes that will help you sweat.

6) Have fun with it. You don’t need to do the exact same routine and exact same exercises day after day. You just need to give each exercise your all.

7) If you can’t bench or squat your bodyweight you don’t have any business playing around on machines. After you develop some strength is when you will get benefit from machines, not before.

8) It’s all in the mind. That’s where the battle is won or lost.

9) Never listen to the bullshit about “overtraining”. Tell Jim Bob, who grew up on a farm baling hay every morning and has shoulders as wide as his wingspan and forearms like bowling pins, about overtraining and he’ll laugh in your face. “Overtraining” is an excuse to be lazy and out of shape.

10) Have a nice day.

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Is Your Lower Back Pain Caused by Inflamed Sacroiliac Joints

If you’re suffering from lower back pain, it can be difficult sometimes to figure out what is causing it. It could be muscle tightness, a disc problem, spondylolisthesis or sacroiliac joint (Si joint) pain. According […]

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The 30 Most Effective RDL Variations For Strength & Spine Health

The Hip Hinge: The Most Forgotten Movement Pattern on Earth

When it comes to longevity in the weight room, training, developing, and ultimately mastering the fundamental movement patterns of the body is a must. We live in a world now where society has put most of us in less than optimal positions for hours upon hours per day. More and more we are:

  1. Rounded over a computer.
  2. Sitting at our desk or in long car rides.
  3. Texting and other handheld technologies.

This has caused most people a lot of unwanted aches and pains, especially in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. In order to try to combat these lifestyle problems, you should be moving regularly and training the following movement patterns:

  1. Push (Upper Body)
  2. Pull (Upper Body)
  3. Squat
  4. Hip Hinge
  5. Lunge (aka Asymmetrical Single Leg Stance)
  6. Carry (aka Locomotion)

When you begin to breakdown each of these movement patterns, the exercises incorporated in them, and the lifestyle pain areas, the one that seems to become the most neglected is the hip hinge.

Now why is that? Well, lets quickly break it down.

First we will look at the hip hinge from a pain standpoint.

When someone has regular lower back pain or stiffness we find that they will stay as far away from exercises such as the Dead lift or Kettlebell swing, with the notion that it will only cause more problems. But, for some reason that same mindset usually does not apply with painful shoulders when its time to bench press.

The Hinge is the movement pattern that helps you perform essential activities such as picking things up off the ground. It also keeps the hips mobile and strengthens the muscles that which will actually help prevent low back pain.

Now we will look at it from an exercise standpoint.

We find that the first exercise that people will program when it comes to the hip hinge pattern is the deadlift.

Which it is absolutely true, that the deadlift is the grand daddy of them all, along with its many variations.

But like Dr. Rusin has spoken about before, frequently you will find that the dead lift ends up looking more like a squat pattern than a true hip hinge.

squat, deadlift, RDL

So with all that being said, I believe a true loaded hip hinge ends up being a very underutilized movement pattern in most people’s programs. Which could then in turn lead to more injuries.

We must start to reintroduce and redevelop this pattern.

Rebuilding The Hip Hinge From The Top DOWN

Let’s start by taking the bar off the floor and working from the top down approach.

The RDL (Romanian deadlift) is the perfect exercise that truly mimics the hip hinge pattern.

Benefits of the RDL:

  • Increased hypertrophy of the hamstrings and glutes due to the more controlled eccentric component and mind muscle connection.
  • Decreased aches and pain from increased mobility and stability of the core and hips.
  • Increased force and power because of the hip drive of the movement.
  • Becoming stronger in bilateral and unilateral RDL patterns will also increase strength in other major lifts.
  • Improvements of form while performing other exercises: deadlift, kettlebell swing, bent over rows, tricep kickbacks, etc.
  • This hinge exercise can be worked both bilateral (two legs) and unilateral (single leg) for greater crossover on the field, court, and in life.

Not only is the RDL a posterior muscle builder that incorporates proper movement and mechanics of standing hip flexion and extension, but it also can help you smash some lower body PR’s in the process.

We have found that many people who have low back pain during traditional barbell and even trap bar deadlifts, seem to be pain free when switched over to the RDL.

Why this exercise is so often overlooked?

  • One reason is because you can not lift as much weight as a conventional or sumo deadlift.
  • It is a more technical movement and has more room for error without proper understanding of the exercise itself.
  • It may not get you as many “high fives” at the gym or “likes” on the internet, basically some people don’t perceive it quite as sexy as other lifts.

We have found once this true hip hinge pattern is developed and mastered, only good things come from it in the big picture of your training… and in life.

Before You RDL, Learn To Hip Hinge

Here are 3 Coaching Drills we use to understand how this movement should “look” and “feel” before we begin to add load.

#1 Broom Stick or Dowel Rod Hinge

We use this to help really understand how to move the body through the proper movement pattern.

If one of these 3 points leave the rod, you know you are out of position.

Once that is mastered and your hamstrings begin to feel activated, we are already in a better place when it comes to lower back pain.

#2 Mini Band Tension Hinge

We use this method to teach “how” to create constant tension during any hinge pattern.

Using the band as feed back will help that mind muscle connection with the hips, hamstrings, and glutes.

The more those muscles all remain activated through a loaded movement, the less other areas will try to take over.

#3 Behind the Back Kettlebell Hinge

This technique is used to re-pattern when we see that the shoulders still try to fall forward and upper back rounds during a loaded hinge.

Once these 3 drills have been mastered and feel a lot more comfortable with the hip hinge pattern itself.

Now is time to create our “personal recipe” for success.

Top 30 RDL Variations For Muscle, Strength and Pain-Free Performance

I have said this many times, “Fitness should NOT be a one size fits all approach”.

You should also not become a slave to a certain tool, if it does not feel right or is compensating from getting the most out of an exercise.

Find what variations work for you in this movement pattern and continue to progress them with increase of load.

Check out the Top 30 Bilateral and Unilateral ULTIMATE RDL Variation List.

top 30 RDL

Below, each video is complete with important coaching cues to follow, in order to get the most out of each of these exercises.

#1 The Barbell RDL

  • The barbell is the most popular tool you see used when it comes to performing the RDL.
  • Is it the best tool for you? That is to be determined, but when done correctly it is definitely super effective for strength and hypertrophy.

In order to get the most out of these, you need to perform them correctly. Follow the coaching cues in this video, on how to effectively perform this exercise using the Barbell.

#2 Snatch Grip RDL

  • Variation of the barbell RDL, is using the wide “snatch” grip on the bar.
  • Helps keep the lats an upper back activated throughout the movement.

#3 Trap Bar RDL

  • Great alternative to the barbell as you can really load it up, but this time your hands will be directly aligned with your body rather than loaded in the front.
  • Hand position can be more back friendly, as their is less room for error.
  • More on this specific exercise HERE

#4 Trap Bar RDL with Band

  • The added band will help with creating explosiveness, power, and strength on the lockout of the movement.

#5 Landmine RDL

  • Another great tool to add to your arsenal.
  • Narrow grip and front loaded.
  • Helps keep the weight in an even plane in order to establish ideal hip hinge pattern.

#6 Landmine RDL with Band

  • The added band will help with creating explosiveness, power, and strength on the lockout of the variation above.

#7 Dumbbell RDL

  • Less restrictive hand position for the hinge movement.
  • Used for strength and hypertrophy.
  • Great lower body accessory lift.

#8 Dumbbell Pause RDL

  • Isolation to create extra tension and stress on muscles.
  • Helps keep movement more controlled.
  • Forces an increase in power on the concentric.

#9 Dumbbell Bench Supported RDL

  • Great RDL teaching/troubleshooting technique.
  • Creates feedback to ensure proper positioning for pain free performance.

#10 Offset RDL

  • Added Stability of the core and hip.
  • Change the stimulus with this accessory exercise.

#11 Kettlebell RDL

  • Less restrictive hand position for the hinge movement.
  • Distribution of the weight differs from dumbbell.
  • Used for strength and hypertrophy.

#12 Kettlebell Dead Stop RDL

  • Isolation to create extra tension and stress on muscles.
  • Helps keep movement more controlled.
  • Forces an increase in power on the concentric.

#13 Loaded RDL with Mini Band

  • This mini band technique can be used with any type of loaded tool.
  • Added feedback to maintain optimal position and maintained posterior activation.

#14  Deficit RDL

  • Added hamstring activation for hypertrophy.
  • I would recommend that this variation should only be used once the RDL technique has been completely mastered first.

#15  Band Resisted RDL

  • Pulls hips into the hinge pattern.
  • Helps activate Glutes and Hamstrings.
  • Forces Power and Complete Lockout.

#16 Band/Cable Pull Through RDL

  • Pulls hips into the hinge pattern.
  • Helps activate Upper Back, Glutes, and Hamstrings.
  • Forces Power and Complete Lockout.
  • More on this exact exercise HERE

#17  Band Supported RDL

  • Adds resistance to the hinge pattern if no weights are available.
  • Can be used as a primer before a heavy RDL or deadlift.
  • Great RDL teaching/troubleshooting technique.
  • Creates feedback to ensure proper positioning for pain-free performance.

#18 Band Only RDL

  • No free weights? No problem.
  • Can also be effective exercise as a primer before a heavy RDL or deadlift.

#19 Staggered Stance RDL

  • Exercise progression to get someone ready for loaded unilateral hinging.
  • Great way to fire up the hamstrings and glutes unilaterally without being on solely one foot.
  • Strength and hypertrophy of the posterior chain.
  • This variation can also be used with other loaded training tools.

#20 Staggered Stance Landmine RDL

  • Great way to fire up the hamstrings and glutes unilaterally without being on solely one foot.
  • Strength and hypertrophy of the posterior chain.

#21 Rear Foot Elevated RDL

  • Forgotten cousin of the rear foot elevated split squat.
  • Exercise progression to get someone ready for loaded unilateral hinging.
  • Great way to fire up the hamstrings and glutes unilaterally without being on solely one foot.
  • Strength and hypertrophy of the posterior chain.
  • This variation can also be used with other loaded training tools.

#22 Single Leg RDL with Slider

  • Exercise Progression to get someone ready for loaded unilateral hinging.
  • Great way to fire up the hamstrings and glutes unilaterally without being on solely one foot.
  • Hypertrophy of the posterior chain.
  • This accessory variation can also be used with other loaded training tools.

#23 Barbell Single Leg RDL

  • Strength and hypertrophy increase of the posterior chain.
  • Can help improve strength in the RDL and deadlift.
  • Improves core strength and stability of the body.

#24 Single Leg RDL

  • Increases performance due to the unilateral element.
  • Strength and hypertrophy increase of the posterior chain.
  • Can help improve strength in the RDL and deadlift.
  • Improves balance, core strength, and stability of the body.

#25 Offset Single Leg RDL

  • Strength and hypertrophy increase of the posterior chain.
  • Can help improve strength in the RDL and deadlift.
  • Due to the single arm/single leg component, even more balance, core strength, and stability of the body is incorporated.

#26 Single Leg Crossover RDL

  • Increases performance aspect due to the unilateral and crossing element.
  • Strength and hypertrophy increase of the posterior chain.
  • Improves balance, core strength, and stability or the body.

#27 Single Leg Band/Cable RDL

  • Band counteracts body into the single leg hinge pattern.
  • Helps activate upper back, glute, and hamstring.
  • Forces power and complete lockout.
  • Great reactive or primer exercise to improve athleticism and performance.

#28 Landmine Single Leg RDL

  • Increases performance due to the unilateral and crossing element.
  • Strength and hypertrophy increase of the posterior chain.
  • Improves balance, core strength, and stability or the body.
  • When used as a deadstop, more power and force is generated from the ground on a single leg.

#29 Trap Bar Front/Rear Loaded RDL

  • Hand placement on the side of the body can reduce low back recruitment.
  • The front and rear loaded position requires more core stability during this trap bar variation.

#30 Walking Staggered RDL

  • Lower bbody RDL exercise using locomotion.
  • Not as popular as a walking lunge, but this could be looked at as its long lost cousin working the backside of the body.
  • Focus on learning a staggered RDL then use these coaching cues to put it all together.

Putting All the RDL’s Together Into Action

With so many RDL options in your arsenal, each having their own unique benefits along with improving movement quality, building strength, and gaining muscle. It makes sense to utilize both bilateral and unilateral exercises for a more well rounded program.

With that being said, now their is no reason to leave the hinge pattern out of your weekly program; regardless of your limitations or fitness level.

Finding what works for YOU, is the key to training longevity and pain free performance.

About The Author

Garrett Sawaia

The post The 30 Most Effective RDL Variations For Strength & Spine Health appeared first on Dr. John Rusin – Exercise Science & Injury Prevention.

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Inverted Flyers

Inverted FlyersTarget Body Part: Abs,Butt/Hips,Full Body/Integrated,Legs – Thighs
Primary Muscles: Adductors,Erector Spinae,Gluteus Maximus (glutes),Gluteus Medius/Minimus (Abductors),Hamstrings,Obliques,Quadriceps (quads),Transverse Abdominus
Exercise Level: Advanced
Equipment Needed: No Equipment

Step 1

Starting position: Stand with feet …

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