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7 Essential Lifting Cues for Bigger Gains!! (SAFER)

What’s up, guys? Jeff Cavaliere, Today is going to be one of those very helpful
videos, I hope, and not just for the beginner lifter. But for every lifter. The advanced lifter, maybe, more particularly
because we get so set in our ways that we forget the cues that make things that much
easier when we’re trying to focus on what we’re doing in the gym. So I wanted to put together the seven most
essential things you need to focus on – cues – that will allow you to do each thing that
you’re doing in the gym better. So the first thing, I don’t have to go any
further than lifting the sternum. That’s the cue I always use. Why do we say that? Because thoracic extension, the ability to
get up and out – in other words, not in this rounded shoulder position – but fully
extended so we become more mobile, because without it we’re not mobile. We get locked in place here. The best cue is not ‘pull your shoulder blades
back’ because the wrong cue, like that, is just going to make me pull like this. Focus on squeezing my shoulder blades, but
it’s done nothing to help me extend through the thoracic spine. But if I lift my sternum right here, this
area right there, if I can pull that and try to get it level with the ground – because
it’s usually facing down, and forward if we’re in bad posture like this – that is going
to lift me into good extension, and also set my shoulder blades in the right spot. So as you can see, the right cue can actually
help us a lot. Which brings us to other cues. The second one here. Anytime we’re doing pulling exercises elbows
will guide the way. Pull with your elbows. Nothing else. So if I’m going to do a lat pulldown here
I don’t pull with my hands. I don’t think about my hands. We think about where our hands are and we
use those as our guide. That’s the wrong thing to do. If I think about my hands the very first thing
I might do is this, and pull down with my wrists, leading with the hands. If we want the lats to do the work, the back
to do the work in these pulling movements, then we want to pull with the elbows. So I use my hands as hooks and I use my elbow
– literally visualizing right here, what is my elbow doing? I’m pulling down with the elbows, okay? Here, down with the elbows. They’re driving down. It happens on every, single pulling exercise. If I were to go and grab a dumbbell to do
a one-armed row, if you don’t pull with your elbows you tend to look like this. You see guys doing this all the time, right? Elbows not even getting into extension behind
the body and doing, basically, a hammer curl with the dumbbell. If I were to keep that quiet and then lead
instead with the elbow back that way, now we’re working the back, and the bigger muscles
that we’re focusing on in the first place. So all pulling exercises, no matter what plane
you’re in, leading with the elbows is key. The next thing you want to focus on is ankles. What’s the best cue you can get with your
ankles? Especially if you’re somebody that has problems
when you squat. Knee pain when you squat. For me, with extremely flat feet – not fat
feet. They’re kind of skinny. But flat feet – look at these flippers,
guys. There’s nothing under here. I have no arch whatsoever. It’s actually one of the big contributors
to why I have such bad knees. I was just born with these things. I’ve got to blame my parents, but the fact
of the matter is, the flatness in the arch basically makes my tibia fall inward, and
rotate in this way. So it sets up this valgus here at the knee. All this stress inside the knee. So when I try to squat in there – obviously
this is an exaggeration of that – but you’re basically driving all this force in this awkward
direction. So what you’re supposed to do, the best cue
you can ever do if you’re having any type of knee pain, is start at the bottom. Start at the ground because everything starts
from the ground and moves up. Keep your toes in contact with the ground. So push as hard as you can through your big
toe. If you push with your big toe the rest of
your toes will transmit that force also. But then, push out with your ankles. Push your ankles here, out. Here, out. Then drive through with the big toe. Now you can see what we’ve down is, we’ve
fixed the mechanics here of the tibia. So now it’s going down nice, and in line with
our foot instead of caving in that way. So if you’re going to do any type of motion,
whether it be deadlift, or squat, or anything – thrusters, anything we’re going to have
to bend – keep the big toes down, push out with the ankles, and you’ll feel that resistance. Next we can work on stabilizing through our
torso. Bracing through our torso. Again, we can do it right here with a deadlift. It could be an overhead press. You’ve probably heard the term where you need
to get ‘tight’ through your torso. People always talk about engaging the lats. Straight arm pull down. I’ve even covered this in a video before how
a straight arm push down here will get the lats to fire up and provide rigidity and stillness,
and stability to your torso when you’re doing something like a deadlift. But there’s one extra level to that. When I’m here and I pull down with my lats
imagine doing a straight arm push down. Here, pull down. Now from here, squeeze the chest, okay? Squeeze across. You’re just doing a squeeze of the chest as
if you’re doing this. Obviously, you can’t go anywhere because your
arms are fixed on a bar. So down, squeeze the chest. Now you’ve created a nice rigidity through
the trunk here that you can do your deadlift. Again, pulling down, and across. Just like that. Which brings me to the next cue, and it applies
to deadlifts. It applies to step ups. It applies to lunging. It applies to any lower body movement where
you are trying to finish the move. You have to finish into full hip extension. We just covered this in a video not long ago. So what is the cue there? Squeeze your ass. It doesn’t get any easier than that. Focus on actually doing it because if you
think it’s going to happen it’s not going to happen. It has to actually be consciously thought
of for you to finish into full hip extension. So we can go back to the deadlift again. When I’m here, as I pointed out in that video,
what people will do is, they get to the top and they do this. That’s not full hip extension. If I actually squeeze my glutes from here;
boom. I just went about another 5-10 degrees. More importantly, maximally activated my glutes
for stability of the hips. Again, down, hinge, up, boom. Squeeze through. I’m actually squeezing my glutes at the top,
as I mentioned in the step up. If I go here – you see it all the time. People come up here, they step up. First of all, they’re tucked under here, and
then when they come up they look like this, never finishing. Never finishing over here. So if you actively squeeze your glutes – up,
and squeeze – drive this knee forward, but squeeze on that side. Now you’re finishing. Then when you’re at the bottom, squeeze. If I squeeze this look what happened. It got me into extension. It made my glute fully active. So I’m more stable down here, I’m more stable
here, I’m going to be able to handle more weight, and I’m going to be able to do this
exercise better in the long run. Now, the next one. I talked about hinging over there on the deadlift. Hide your hands. That’s my cue if you want to hinge properly. The ability to hinge is going to setup the
proper mechanics in any movement that you’re lowering body down, toward the ground. So squats and deadlifts, and even here in
lunging. So what does ‘hide my hands’ mean? Hiding my hands means, the creases of your
hips, that run like this. Take your hands – again, this is something
I covered in another video here, too. But it falls into one of our seven best things
you can do. Here, and here. Take your fingers right on those creases. Now hide them. Tuck them in between the thigh – the upper
thigh – and the lower abdomen. I do that by hinging at the hips. I don’t do that by bending my knees. I do that by hinging at the hips. When I do that, now when I go down they’re
hidden. They’re in there. You can’t see them. I can’t see them. I can only feel that they’re in those creases. Boom. Like that. Here, and I’ve got a proper hip hinge as I
go down. Again, no matter what movement I’m doing. Lastly, squeeze the dumbbells. Squeeze the bar. Squeeze whatever it is you’re using. Even if you’re using here, the pulldown again. You lead with your elbows, but you squeeze
with the hands. Don’t pull down with hands on this thing,
but squeeze. Why? Because we can activate so many other stabilizer
muscles just by squeezing through the hands and then letting the force transmit all the
way through our arm. Remember, it’s a kinetic chain whether you
start down at the ground, and derive some force down there, that gets transmitted up
your body. Or if you’re going the other end of the chain,
you’re grabbing here. Illicit the force transmitted up through your
body. It changes the mechanics of the lift. It activates stabilizer muscles that makes
it easier for you to perform an upper body lift safely. So even for a – I don’t know. I’m doing a one-armed press. If I squeeze here actively, I’m trying to
squeeze the life out of the dumbbell, I’ve transmitted more stability through my arm
then it would be if I’m just lazily holding onto this dumbbell. You can feel the difference instantly. I’ll give you a little side benefit of it. When you do squeeze here you might notice
that you just don’t have a good, strong grip one day. Not a lot of force going through there. That could be an indicator that neurologically
you’re a little bit burned out. Today may not be your day in the gym. So if you start seeing that right off the
bat, it could be a good idea for you to back it up a little bit – in terms of the weight
you’re using, today’s maybe not the day for PRs – but focus more on the quality of the
lift and getting more out of it that way. So, lots of different benefits from there. Those, guys, are – one big run on sentence
there – are the seven things that you can do pre-lift, during a lift that are going
to help you immensely in getting more out of everything you do. Again, I don’t care how advanced you are. I don’t care if you’re a beginner. Start thinking about the cues you can do on
every, single lift so you can get more out of them. It’s about the accumulation of using good
lifting technique, over many bouts and sessions that winds up getting you the best results
in the long run. If you’re looking for a program that puts
the science back in strength, tries to help you to understand what it is you’re doing
so you get the most out of everything you do; head to In the meantime, if you’ve found this video
helpful leave your comments and thumbs up below. Let me know what you want to see in a future
video and I’ll do my best to cover it. All right, guys. See you soon.

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100 thoughts on “7 Essential Lifting Cues for Bigger Gains!! (SAFER)

  1. Walking barefooted over rough surfaces (yes, outside) for long periods of time (like all summer) might help you with your feet. The arch of your feet is very sensitive and will try to avoid to touch the surface, which will pull it up and train all the small stabilizer muscles in your feet. Due to strength, running technique and hardened skin, I can sprint barefooted over certain degrees of crushed rock if I have to and I have none of the problems I was developing during adolescence, including knee and hip problems. Also, walking barefooted feels really good 🙂
    Good luck!

  2. These cues are extremely helpful. I noticed major difference in form and technique the next day I worked out. Thank you so much

  3. Alright Athlean X family..I need help!
    Ive been working hard for 6 mnths. I made it through the first "hump" of bodily change. Now I feel somewhat plateaued! I cant seem to gain the shredded bulk I want. Ive lost mental and physical energy to maintain the intensity I started with..and pre-workouts just dont seem to give me ANY bump I NEED to do this. I work 40 a week. 10 hr. Days. Have 3 kids all weekend. I just stay tired. Any suggestions? Anyone been in the same boat and found renewed excitement? Thanks!!

    I use pre Jym as a pre-workout. Everyone raves…but Ive found it 1 star useless personally.
    Im a tired man in mid-30's and it simply lacks the kick I desperately need to push myself mentally and physically.

  4. Jeff, you're the shit man. Ever since watching your videos I've made so many gains. The way you teach how to lift is the real deal. For real, bro.

  5. You sir are my ideal lifter. I was making so many and when I say so many I mean many many mistakes in the gym. Thank you sir.

  6. jeff is the best and i reccomend his workout programs i have a week left of max size and holy shit has it kicked my ass but in a great way

  7. Thank you Jeff. Now I understand why my knees always hurt and look funny when doing squats or deadlifts. My feet at flat like ping pong 🏓. Now I understand why my tibia is shifted inward.

    Appreciate the tips: Let the gains begin💪

  8. Why don’t you get some custom orthotics to post up those flat arches. Maybe that will help out you knees, etc. (??)

  9. i have not regret that i have payed for his training pograms i have only practised this for one day but the instructions are so good for my body this man knows what he is doing

  10. nice. ive been training my sisters and my way of explaining pulls is “lead with the elbow”.
    confirmation of nonfailure. excellent.

  11. @jdcav24 many thanks for these tips. So many times I have moved a weight from A to B with no idea how it happened. Totally ignorant of muscles involved. Using these cues I have mind / muscle connection hallelujah

  12. This is one of single best videos to show a beginner what to do to not make the mistakes or even veteran lifters to improve their workouts. The best Fitness channel on YouTube hand down.

  13. Jeff – Just so you know flat "feet" is a good thing! Remember, muscles can only pull so why elongate them? It will only "weaken" them, and that's a fact, just saying….

  14. I love and appreciate your instruction Jeff! But, at 2:05 you have us using our hands as "meathooks" just barely wrapping our fingers around the pull-down bar. At 8:55 you have us squeezing the pull-down bar tight. Look at the position of your hands in both cases. This is not a matter of not communicating the issue but an apparent contradiction.

  15. I just love how Jeff always makes his points clear. He not only tells you what to do he also shows you. Jeff rocks!!

  16. I have flate feet too, and i've started to expierence discomfort in my knees lately. I will try these tips about putting weight on toes and pressing outward with the ankles, thanks.

  17. I have flat feet too, and i've started to experience discomfort in my knees lately. I will try these tips about putting weight on toes and pressing outward with the ankles, thanks.

  18. Great idea to list out the cues because it sets up good form and the most efficient way to get as much force as possible into each rep. Keep up the great work!

  19. I as a personal trainer, found it really helpful with the hip hinge. Especially, how to explain it to clients. Thank you!

  20. Jeff, have you tried barefoot-shoes to build up / train your feet and muscles?
    Thank you for all your great content! 👍
    God bless you and your family in all things!

  21. I know this is an old video but the ankle tip doesn't really work with me because I have the opposite problem, very high arches, hindfoot varus and over supination. It gives me knee and hip pain but I don't know what to do to correct it, any ideas?

  22. One thing is useless in all the videos… The suggestion to leave a thumb up. I put it when I load the page, I'm sure the content is always correct and on point, no clickbaiting.

  23. Hi Jeff, I have flat feet like you, but I use insoles to correct my stand. Do I need to push my ankles outward for squatting if I am wearing the insoles?

  24. Oddly enough, I have developed the hide your hands as one of my deadlift cues as, being tall and having a moderately horizontal starting position, I wanted to emphasize starting by pushing my hips back in order to help protect my lumbar. Therefore, although I hadn't thought of it as hiding my hands and more literally pushing my hips back, it is the same motion, lol

  25. QUESTION: I weigh 72kg, and my current dead lift is 130kg. That's my current PR. I can lift it 2x max and after 3-4 sets of that, I'm completely taxed. How many reps/sets should i aim for before adding another 5-10kg to the bar, if my main goal is to gain size and strength. I'm already very low body fat? and what % of my body weight should i be aiming for in the dead lift?

  26. I understand now.. pulldown with not grip the hand but put the hand like the hook.. focus moving with the elbow

  27. Wow, I've been doing squats wrong this whole time and it's why I avoid them because of my bad hips. Your method actually has my muscle do most of the work.

  28. Every time i rewatch the same video of yours i learn more i miss alot the first time around its so many good tips.

  29. Hi Mate, This is amazing… thank you for your wisdom.
    God Bless.

    I am studying to become a PT and learning about the importance of strengthening the muscles.
    I see young people that are overweight with poor posture. Now, I am concerned about my boy's well-being in this digital / internet era, that we are living in. I was just wondering if you may have any ideas or advice about how to encourage them, teenagers, to join the gym or to do any form of exercise.

    Your input will be most appreciated,

    Many thanks,

  30. 1st of all … use your hands as ‘hooks’ on the lat pull down … & then (later) squeeze with your hands on the last pull down ?

  31. Jeff, I just want you to know that YouTube is putting 21 minute ads on your videos.  I know you make money from ads, but no one is going to watch ads like that.

  32. I’ve heard u say the sternum cue so many times before but now I try it after gaining way more lifting experience I had been protruding my chest and retracting my scapula this whole time when I tried lifting the sternum holy shit it felt so good and right you ar ean actual legend

  33. Jeff, why do you say “al pulling exercise, no matter what plane you are in, leading with the elbows is key”? In the iron graveyard videos, the upright row you recommend leading with your hands.
    Thanks for sharing all the knowledge!

  34. Going back and watching all ur videos again and it's insanely good. Has forgotten about all of this already. Thx Jeff!

  35. Omg I thought I was the only one with archless flipper feet! Of all the people to share this situation with, Jeff would have been the last person I'd think of. Wow.

  36. Thank you so much for making this channel Jeff, you are my no 1 go to for form correction 😀 I'm gonna do some face-pulls in your honour today lol

  37. My left hand grip is half as strong as my right, neurological history is I've got multiple sclerosis, mainly effects my left side, but we persevere I've switched to using wrist grips for Deadlift and shrugs so grip isn't holding those areas back as much and they're improving.👍🏻💪🏼

  38. now i know why i find my squats really hard coz we both the same flat feet lmao thank u so much for the the cue it really help me get stronger and noticed how much my knees cave in and also prevented injuries

  39. I think that real skinny white dude, leaning against the wall, has been overtraining, underhydrating, and cutting too many carbs.

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