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Even Published Resources Can Be Totally Wrong

A well-meaning magazine published this image on a page devoted to “CrossFit exercises for runners.” Everyone should do some strength training, and it can be especially helpful for runners, because being stronger often means less chance of injury and more efficient running with less fatigue — a win-win-win situation. There’s just one problem. Almost nothing in the description is true. Magazines usually have fact checkers verify the information in an article, but not this one!

Error 1. This does not show a deadlift. (This is a deadlift.)
Error 2. What it shows is not a powerlifting move, “classic” or otherwise.
Error 3. The description of the movement is not accurate for what it probably is.

All we can tell from the picture is that she pressed the weight overhead. This move can be done from the floor or from a rack. When the move is done from a rack, it’s almost always with a narrower grip. She might have done 3 separate moves, starting from the floor, with pauses in between. Often when we see this position, with its wide grip, we are seeing the final position of the snatch, a multistep movement used in the weightlifting performed in the Olympics.

This magazine piece is trying to help you, and it’s inadvertently recommending a general strength move that is important. Unfortunately, it gives you nowhere near enough information to do it safely and effectively. It also uses the wrong terminology from start to finish, which makes it hard for you to get more information about it.

When you see a new exercise, particularly in a very short article or blurb like this, do some extra research:
— Throw the name of the movement into a search engine.
— Look for demonstration videos on YouTube.
— Ask a trainer at your gym (although trainers can be wrong, too, sadly).

Should I do this, whatever it is?

Yes, although not necessarily with that wide grip or with a barbell. Upper-body strengthening is something you can use every day, in household chores, moving boxes around, carrying kids, and on and on. You can strengthen this area with “shoulder press” and cable machines at the gym, with dumbbell movements, with kettlebell movements, or with a barbell. Heck, you can even get into a handstand and do pushups (here’s a way to learn, starting from simple floor movements). If you belong to a gym that has set up a basic “circuit” of strengthening machines, at least one of them addresses this kind of movement.

Whenever you decide to practice a new move that you’ve read about, start with something extra light, like a broomstick or a pair of coffee mugs. I am a big fan of practicing a movement in the privacy of my home, even if I am getting help from a coach in a gym, too. Practicing new movements with very light weights lets you get a sense of where your body is as you move, and is great “homework” to get a jump on a new exercise. Safe lifting with good form gives lots of benefits, but that good form is essential.

What are your favorite places to find new exercises?

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