Supercharge Your Training with “Strength Primers”

Did you know that you can amplify your strength during your workouts?

Are you aware that a couple of simple movements done before your heavy lifts can allow you to lift more weight, and help reduce the risk of injury at the same time?

This is a tool I’ve been using with great success for many years, and I’d like to share it with you today.

The secret is to splice in BOTH mobility and activation exercises.

You see, most of us do not have perfect mobility, nor are we able to contract our muscles with 100% efficiency. This lack of mobility and activation leads to weakness, and injuries. By “priming” our strength movements with complementary mobility and activation exercises, we get stronger AND more mobile at the same time. Once again, this is fantastic for preventing injury and maximizing your strength potential.

What people often find is that they are immediately stronger after doing the right mobility and activation exercises.

Now I want to give you some tried-and-true pairings for your strength primers (note: I’m giving you just 3 per exercise, but there are certainly more that will also be effective).

Strength Move: Deadlift

Primers: Glute Bridge, Bandwalk, Crawling

Strength Move: Handstand

Primers: Wrist Push-Ups, Wall Slide, Hollow Hang

Strength Move: Pull-Up

Primers: Thoracic Bridge, Side Plank, Hollow Hold

Strength Move: Squat

Primers: 90-90 rotation, Quad. Hip Circle, Down Dog to Knee Tuck

I NEVER do strength movements without primers first. It’s just simply not as good—and worse, it’s actually kind of risky. Doesn’t it make sense to stack the deck in your favor and maximize the potential benefit while reducing risk? I think it does, and I know if you implement this strategy you will get stronger, more flexible, and reduce your risk of injury.

The other cool thing about this is that you need to rest between sets anyway—so you might as well put that time to good use and do some strength primers.

When in doubt, think about what the demands of an exercise are, and how you can enhance those before your lift. A lack of glute and core activation is a very common problem in modern society. Because of this, core and glute activation are almost always a good choice for your strength primers. Getting the core to fire properly is what provides a foundation for the rest of your body to move around. If your core isn’t switched on, your hips, shoulders, and spine are going to take a beatdown.

So here’s what you should do now:
1. During your next session, do some strength primers before all of your main lifts.
2. Pay attention to how the weights feel, and how your muscles feel the next day.
3. Continue using the primers that worked for you and get stronger.

Many people say that these primers allow them to feel the movements in the right muscles. Recently I had someone following the Ultimate Athleticism program tell me that doing core and glute activation before their deadlifts actually let them feel their glutes and hamstrings instead of their lower back for the first time!

In short, Strength Primers take almost no time, make you stronger, and prevent injury. It’s a win-win situation—now go do it.

Better every day,

PS: Have questions? Leave me a comment!

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13 thoughts on “Supercharge Your Training with “Strength Primers”

  • Martin stampfer

    Like the look of your primers will def try these before workout ,just found you on the internet ,I have turned 70 and i am really enjoying my workouts I swop between body weight bands and weights so the body doesn’t get used to the same routine. Cheers

  • Max Shank

    Hi Matt!
    Have you worked the core strength progressions from 5 Minute Flow, it sounds like your internal rotation on the right hip is lacking. This is typically caused by lack of core strength (especially obliques).

  • Matt grebosky

    Hey max, when I do the 90/90 I can sit up nice and straight with a good left hip( when knees face right) but when I rotate my knees to the left, the lateral side of my right hip and core get tight. Can’t seem to figure out why! Hope you can help. There’s no pain just a lack of mobility and inability to keep spine vertical.

  • Tony Ricci

    Great stuff Max! I share this with most everyone I know who does any sort of training. Your thinking and exercise selection shows how thoughtful, mature and experienced you’ve become, and I hope more people are aware of the subtle but extremely helpful aspects of your mobility work and how it affects critical areas like T-spine mobility, hip rotation, etc.

  • James

    Hey Max my name is James, just a quick question how much of each exercise would you recommend as a good baseline (generally speaking)? Like The 90 90 hip switch for squats… 5 each side? 10?

    I always love your content, simple and effective and very easy to implement. You do great work.