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Brendan Sonnichsen 09-07-2006 06:27 AM

This is inspired by Mike ODonnell's comment on the "Making the leap..." thread (

What are some verbal cues you've used with clients to help them get the movement right.

I frequently remind my friends (I'm not an official trainer yet) that they are to have a "Superman chest; supermodel stomach; proud chin" posture whenever they're in the gym.

Mike introduced his "Pretend your feet are stuck in cement and you are trying to jump up" when getting a client to squat.

What do you use?

Andrew G. Greenberg 09-07-2006 06:41 AM

"you should feel work here" plus a touch cue; lower back, etc. this is mostly a postural cue, but super beginners might need it to know that they are doing something right.

Anthony Bainbridge 09-07-2006 07:19 AM

I don't understand the "super model stomach" part ... the big lifts (squats, deads, etc) require you to push the abs out for support, not suck them in.

Overall, I just try to keep things basic and to the point - chin up, chest out, stay tight, push through your heels, etc.

Brendan Sonnichsen 09-07-2006 07:37 AM


Good point. I *think* I lifted that from the Mike Burgener CrossFit Live episode... but I don't have time to listen to all 88 minutes of that interview today.

I agree that the goal is for the client to tense their abdominals (push them out), not to suck them in.... So far I haven't had any problems, but maybe a better cue is in order. Any ideas?

Anthony Bainbridge 09-07-2006 08:59 AM

Take this with a grain of salt, cause I'm sure others with more experience may have a few tricks that work better than this, but ...

First I would teach them how to tense their abs for support. If you have a belt, this is super easy to do ... put the belt on a little loose and get them to "push into" it so it's tight. After they get the hang of that (without the belt), the simple cue "stay tight" should be enough.

Plus it has less syllables! :biggrin:

Mike ODonnell 09-07-2006 10:23 AM

Who knew I could inspire would be proud.

I've heard people say during a bench not to push the bar away from you, but imagine pushing yourself away from the bar into the bench. Same could be applied to deadlift with pushing feet into the floor.

Lincoln Brigham 09-07-2006 01:07 PM

One-word cues work better than two-word cues. Two-word cues work better than three-word cues, and so on. Simplify, simplify whenever possible.

"Wiggle" - get the weight off the balls of the feet by wiggling the toes.
"Eyes" - get the head up and the eyes focused forward not down.
"Sit" - send the hips back in the squat.
"Chest" - big chest
"Tall" - lengthen the spine as long and tall as possible
"Tight" - firm up the core and everything else while you're at it.

Also, visual imagery works better than technical descriptions.

"Imagine trying to touch your butt to the wall behind you" works better than "Make this a hip-flexion movement with the center of gravity on the heels."

"Make a big chest like you are at the beach and a pretty girl walks by" gets better results than "Depress your shoulders, elongate your spine and elevate your sternum."

A good book on the subject is "Dynamic Alignment Through Imagery" by Franklin.

Veronica Carpenter 09-07-2006 08:23 PM

I'll add:

"reach" - lock the arms/shoulders as you reach for the ceiling standing up out of a snatch/OHS.

"fast" - for everything OL

"stick your butt out" is great for trying to teach people how to squat or sldl or bent over row.

Daniel Fannin 09-09-2006 05:38 PM

Some quotes I've heard and used (can't make any myself 'cause I'm just a wannabe):

"Stick your chin out like you're letting me punch it." Or, during the lift, just "Chin." Refering to keeping head and eyes at appropriate angles through heavy lifts.

"Imagine your leg has spread roots and is planted below the knee." From Dragondoor (I hope that's not a bad word here) on proper positioning of legs during KB swings (I also use it for DB swings.)

"It's like you're sitting on a bench." See above.

"The trash can is over there." :-) Self explanatory.

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