Fast Talk Labs’ Strength Training Series: Week 4

We have three new exercises for you in Week 4 of our Strength Training Series that'll challenge you and help to improve your functional strength.

Now that you’ve been making progress over the first few weeks, Week 4 brings in a couple of new exercises to challenge you. The Sumo Deadlift is a fun variation that will focus on really firing the glutes. This movement sometimes draws athletes into lifting too much weight because of the wide stance, but as with previous weeks, keep your focus on good form first, weight second. The Lat Pulldown is a great pulling exercise to not only strengthen the back musculature and support an athletic posture, but it’s great to balance some of the more anterior dominant position we adopt as endurance athletes. Finally, the Bird Dog gives you additional core options to focus on segmented limb movements while maintaining core stability. These are in addition to the front squat, which you can find full instruction for in our Week 2 video.

Before getting started, be sure to warm up well with our Warm-up & Activation Routine.

Week 4 workout at a glance

Sumo Deadlift: 3-4 sets of 8-10 repetitions

Front Squat: 3-4 sets of 10-12 repetitions

Lat Pulldown: 2-3 sets of 8-10 repetitions

Bird Dog: 2 sets of 8 repetitions per side

Progressions and regressions

Sumo Deadlift

As with previous deadlift options, to regress this movement you can start with a kettlebell by placing it below your hips and adopting the same wide stance we’re looking for with the barbell. Progress through the movement. If you’re traveling or don’t have access to weights, you could also bring along a band (if it’s a long enough band) and do these as a banded workout to focus on form or maintain your movement patterns when weight isn’t available.  

Lat Pulldown

This movement can be adapted for either a machine/pulley system or banded approach. I find the bands allow me to work on quality form with less stability whereas a lat pulldown machine is great when I’m looking to build strength or weight as the machine typically has a brace to hold your legs in place. If you are unfamiliar with the movement, start with bands and work to single-arm movements before adding weight by going to the machine as this will allow you to feel the correct muscles working.

Bird Dog

With this core exercise you can regress this movement by extending only one limb at a time rather than opposing sides. To progress this, you could try moving both sides (e.g., right arm and right leg) at the same time. This will really challenge core stability.   

Pitfalls and warnings

Sumo Deadlift

  • Improper Stance: This is a technique dependent lift, so be sure to work with a strength coach or expert if you are unsure about this movement. One note is that if you feel your hips moving before the bar, you may need to correct your stance. As with other lower body movements, focus on spin position: do not round your back. When you move your back into a neutral position, there should be tension on the bar and you should feel like the bar is just about to move up.    
  • Hyperextending your back at the top: Beginners tend to lean back and hyperextend at the top of the lift. This is another point to work with an expert on because of the technical nature of the movement. Once you lock out your legs at the top of the movement, shift the shoulders into neutral to complete the movement.   

Lat Pulldown

  • Swinging: Particularly if you are doing this on a lat pulldown machine, avoid the temptation to swing back as you pull. This is a sign that you may be doing too much weight and it almost starts to resemble a rowing motion. Some natural back and forth movement is fine, but when you start pulling with your whole body, I would encourage you to lower the weight and focus on the muscles in the upper and mid back.
  • Pulling with the hands: It’s easy to grip the bar heavily on the machine and start pulling from the hands, but I find a more natural feel and better muscle sensations when pulling from the elbows.

Bird Dog

  • Hip Motion: Since this is a core exercise, be aware of your hip motion. If you see that your hips are opening up a lot or just moving all over the place, try to control that before moving any limbs.

Want to catch up on previous weeks? Check them out here:

Fast Talk Labs’ Strength Training Series: Week 1

Fast Talk Labs’ Strength Training Series: Week 2

Fast Talk Labs’ Strength Training Series: Week 3

Video Transcript

Ryan Kohler  00:03

Here in Week 4, we’re going to add some new exercises for you.

Our new ones this week are the sumo deadlift, which is a variation on the previous deadlift you’ve been doing, that’s going to target a little bit more of the back of the legs or that posterior chain. Then, we’re also going to bring in lat pulldown to target the upper middle back, and a new core exercise called the bird dog.

Sumo Deadlifts

Ryan Kohler  00:23

With that, let’s head over and start our Sumo Deadlifts. Here in Week 4, we’re changing up our deadlift to a sumo deadlift. We’re going to do three to four sets of eight to 10 reps. Now, the difference here is we’re not lining our feet up about hip width apart, but we’re going to take a wider stance this time, still deadlifting just a wider stance. What this does is puts a little bit more focus on the glutes and the inner thighs, and everything else basically remains the same.

You’ll want to have your toes pointed out a little bit, find a comfortable position. We’re going to let our hand position also come in on the bars. Everything else from the previous deadlifts remains the same, we’re going to still create that tension, find that neutral spine, draw the shoulders down and back, and then drive the feet into the ground. Once we get above the knees, bring those hips forward, and then we reverse that for the trip back down. Once we get below the knees, start bending them, let it come down to the ground.

Sumo Deadlift Regression 

Ryan Kohler  01:22

If the Sumo Deadlift seems a little bit too advanced, and you’re not ready for it yet, you can regress this and start off with some lighter weight and learn the movement before moving to the barbell. To do that, we’ll take a kettlebell here, we’re going to still get in our wide stance, and then we’re just gonna come down, take the kettlebell by both hands, find that same position, and then go through that motion like that, just like we would at the bar, but we’ve got the safety of the kettlebell and not an entire barbell.

Lat Pulldown

Ryan Kohler  02:07

Our next workout is the Lat Pulldown, this is a great one to work those lats in your back and really help with posture and your pulling strength. So let’s get going. We’re going to look here at two to three sets, eight to 10 reps, we’re set up here with bands. I have bands attached to the top of the squat rack, and I’m going to start myself here in a nice tall athletic position kneeling on the ground.

Another option if you’re at the gym, there’s lat pulldown machines where you’ll get the bar, and you can do it there too. So from here, what I’m going to do is pretend that the the band is actually attached here, not at my hands, because when I draw down, I want to pull down through my elbows all the way down, feeling those lats in the back, actually contracting and coming together. We will come up nice and slow like this, and then we’ll repeat that for the number of sets and reps that we have.

Bird Dogs

Ryan Kohler  03:02

As we get into the end of Week 4, we’re going to finish up with another core stability exercise called the Bird Dog. For this one, what we’re going to do is come on to all fours here, we’re going to try to get our hip right over our knee, and then a shoulder right over our hand. From there, we’re just going to tighten up our core here, and then we’re going to alternate, and let’s start with left arm and right leg. We’re going to extend those out, and then come back in. Then we’ll repeat that eight times, and then we’ll do it on the other side, eight times. Just like that. We’ll repeat that for two sets.

One of the keys with this is make sure you keep those hips stable. We don’t want to see this happening. Where you’re hyperextending, we want to see everything stay nice and consistent and stable like this. Then come back down.

Alright. That’ll do it for Week 4. Good job this week, we had a lot of new exercises. Next week we’re going to come back with a lot of the workouts you already know and just one new one for you next time. We’ll see you then!