All movements in the gym are full-body movements. Even when "isolating" muscle groups, you should be engaging everything to maintain structure and keep yourself safe.
Think of all the positions you're in while lifting. It's important to make those foundations solid.
- If you're in a two-point stance, spread the floor with your feet and engage your abs.
- If you're taking a split stance, hinge forward, scissor your legs, engage your abs, and spread the floor.
- If you're on your back for a pressing exercise, spread the floor with your feet and pull your heels in toward your midline.
- If doing a chest-supported movement, draw your heels in toward your midline.
- If you're doing just about anything else, keeping your glutes active will keep your pelvis and spine neutral and help your low back stay safe.
Here's how these tips look in action:
Barbell Biceps Curl
If you're in a two-point stance, bend your knees slightly, press your upper ribs down, and spread the floor with your feet.
If you've got back pain, take a split stance, hinge forward, and apply all of the above cues.
If you're in a two-point stance, keep your abs engaged as you hinge forward and spread the floor.
If you've got low back pain, take a split stance and apply the cues.
Spread the floor and draw your heels toward the bench. This will light your glutes up and keep your pelvis and low back neutral.
Squeeze your thighs in and draw your heels toward your midline.