2 Movement Cues You Can Use

By November 12, 2016Blog

Whether you’re a trainer or a trainee, try these simple movement cues to help you move better and get better results –  with a shift in your mindset and focus.

When I was younger, people always told me to never stop learning.

The old adage, “If you think you know it all, you know nothing,” was bandied about regularly and I never really knew what everyone was talking about.

Then, I turned 17… And promptly knew everything.

Seriously, I did.

Just ask the 17-year old Gav. Just ask my parents.

What a jackass.

Back in my junior hockey days when I knew it all

Then, I got to University at 21 and realized that I, in fact, did not know anything.

That’s okay, I had only lost a possible professional hockey career. Nothing major (don’t worry, guys. I can joke about it).

Fast forward 8 years, and after being in the training game for over 5 years, you’d think I’d start to get complacent and no longer worry about learning, especially from my clients who pay ME for my expertise.

But it turns out I learned something when I was younger and NEVER think that I know it all anymore.

I am a student in the game of life.

You see, every single one of my clients is inherently different. While they may have similar movement patterns, dysfunctions and goals, their bodies and minds are all truly different.

What’s that snowflake analogy again?

This means they all respond to different cues, feel things differently and succeed at different movements more than others. So when they start messing around with a movement to make it work better for their body, I let them.

Wait, but won’t they get hurt?

The first rule is always to make sure they’re safe, but sometimes they come up with absolute gems that I can later use if my “go-to” movement cues just aren’t working for someone.

Sometimes I even throw out the old cues altogether.

“Different shit is different.”

— David Dellanave

So, kudos to my clients and my ridiculous thirst for learning new things. The nuggets below are a blend of both.

Cue #1: Press Into Your Knee

(1/2 Kneeling Position)

I have a client who is hypermobile, let’s call him Cam.  Cam cannot seem to control the relationship between his pelvis and his ribcage. No matter how often I cue him, he slips into anterior pelvis tilt, causing a whole host of issues. The one that comes up again and again is stress on his lower back

Naturally, anything overhead is a concern, as this exacerbates the issue. So we have brought most of his “overhead” work down to half kneeling and changed most of it to landmine movements.

One day, as I was cueing him to place his non-working hand on his ribcage to keep it down (a go-to cue of mine that I still don’t think he understands), he said he felt better with his hand on his knee.

I thought about it and realized it was perfect. Create tension between the arm and leg (through the core) by connecting them and pressing into that knee.

I embraced it, and it’s still going strong.

So, here’s the cue.

When you’re in a half-kneeling position and working with only one hand (which should be the same hand as the knee on the floor), press your non-working hand into your knee, locking that ribcage down.

As you can see in the video below, my model was actually using this technique and I didn’t even mention it!

See, lots to learn…

This cue can be used for ANY ½ kneeling movement, including overhead pressing, and single arm rowing.

Cue #2: Ribs to Belt Buckle

(Planks and other Core Exercises)

Let’s be honest, most planks are garbage.

I touched on this in my Movement of the Week article back in April.

In my experience, everyone could use more anterior core stability and most of that success will come from teaching, especially during the plank.

As our anterior core gets tired (and sometimes simply because we don’t know any better) we tend to slip into anterior pelvic tilt and the front of our hips and lower back take on the load of a plank or other loaded exercises.

Many people think this is a legitimate plank, not knowing this is only engraining an already poor position.

She should not be smiling because that plank is DUST.

We can talk about “neutral spine” or “tilting the pelvis” but the fact is that while someone’s doing an incredibly challenging exercise, they aren’t going to comprehend something that has no context in their brain.

So, we have to create context.

Everyone knows where his or her ribs are. RIGHT?

Everyone knows where his or her belt buckle is.

My boy Dustin Gorst sure knows where his belt buckle is.

Bring the two closer together. Watch them shake like a leaf.

Fast forward to 30 seconds and watch her sha-a-a-a-a-ke.

So, there you have it. Two ways you can set yourself up for success in 1/2 kneeling and core exercises.

Improved core stability makes everything harder…. and therefore easier.

Yours in movement,


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Gavin McHale

Author Gavin McHale

Online training and nutrition coach, retired semi-pro hockey goalie, and ex-skinny kid. Currently a beer league superstar, and lover of lifting heavy things, Gavin will help you reclaim that athletic, dead sexy body, and shrink your clothing budget. Because tarps are always optional.

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