How often do you go in to the gym or see your trainer and your movements feel “awkward”?

Patience level becomes that of Cruella De Vil patiently waiting to grab those 100 dalmatians.

You hear cues (or read them) as:

“Butt back”

“Break at the hips THEN knees”

“Sit your butt in between your feet”

“Pinch your shoulder blades together”

“Squeeze your glutes like you’re holding in a fart on a date” (seriously, I’ve used it and works like a charm)

“Depress the scapula” (and you look at me like “WOT?”)

“Nipples up” (learned this one when I first started training for a few movements and man, it was heaven-sent)

And while I can certainly go through a ton of verbal cues, some of you simply do not have the body awareness to perform what you are being asked.

This doesn’t mean you are dumb or stupid or “hard-headed” as I used to be called when I wasn’t listening growing up … or as an adult. It simply means you need to not only become more body aware, you just have to “catch the feels” so-to-speak.


Some of the biggest movements I see people having issues on (lacking body awareness) primarily are ones that involve lunging, pulling variations, single-leg movements and squatting.

This not only plagues beginners but even advanced trainees suffer from a lack of proprioceptive awareness in some movements. It happens.

What I want to give you are some drills you can do pre/intra/post workout to make these movements better.

What does this mean? Do then whenever you can and get better.

The Hinge

This is a BIG one I see messed up a lot. When you are performing movements that require hip-extension (which you will see in the video), all too often there is this inability to get that butt back, keep the spine neutral, hit the hamstrings, and basically just get in proper position to pull (or go down i.e.: Romanian Deadlifts/Good Mornings).

This is my first go-to demonstration:

Sometimes, even with this demonstration, people still don’t get it.

Recently, I had a client who could hinge at the hips during kettle-bell deadlifts but still was incredibly rounded in the upper body. Not because he couldn’t open the chest and get the shoulders but, but he couldn’t perform both actions (hinging at the hips WHILE getting in extension in the thoracic spine aka couldn’t stop rounding). So I thought, “how can I get him to feel, albeit exaggerated, what it’s like to get in to some REAL extension so he can FEEL the upper body while hinging). Alas, it hit me: Dive-Bomber Push Ups. Yes, ladies and gents, I went with a yoga move.

You don’t need to know how to exactly do a push up but you do need body control not to hit your face on the floor, swoop up, open the chest, get the shoulders down and back, and FEEL the extension in the upper body.

Whatta ya know?


His next sets thereafter were virtually perfect.

If you find yourself unable to “feel” your position, give this a shot before your set. It just might work.

Single-Leg Proprioception

While the Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift (SLRDL) may be a pretty tough move in comparison to many others, even the most advanced people have a hard time with it. Single-leg stability is not trained on an unstable surface. In fact, it is probably best in a rehab setting instead of a strength program.

READ: Bosu Ball: The Good, Bad, and Ugly by Eric Cressey

If you want to become more stable, then logic would state, train on a stable surface.

I use this drill often just to help become more body aware on one leg. I don’t necessarily have a name for it, nor have I seen it used before and maybe it has, but what I will say is getting you to perform a movement correctly is work backwards. In this case, you feel what end-range is supposed to feel like then you for you way in to it.

Don’t judge me, I was just warming up but you get what I’m getting at. 🙂

Pulling Variations

This one is huge for me and I offer all I know in regards to this because my biceps is partially torn and part of it has been crapping rowing over the years so PLEASE let me save you from your bad rowing habits.

Many people, including myself for a LONG time, have always pulled weight without actually PULLING weight. Using the arms, primarily the biceps to move the weight instead of initiating the pull from the shoulder blades and letting the lats do a lot of the work.

In this video, I give different style of grips that may work better for your body and needs while showing how to pull (think pull ups, chin ups, lat pulldowns)

and here is a drill for when you are doing dumbbell rows (or any horizontal row variation) that emphasize pulling from the back and not the biceps. A verbal cue I would give your “keep the arm straight as you pull back, then pull up and squeeze the back”.

I repeat … BACK then ARMS. Not the other way around.

(Reverse) Lunges

Ok, so take this as a general drill as for some people, they are just incredible quad-dominant and it’s hard to get a lunge at good depth and length. That said, one should be able to “feel” where they may be able to go as not everyone has a muscle issue more-so than they have body-awareness issue.

This is a drill I have used countless times with people to get them to understand just how far back they can actually go, pain-free, with a good stride and depth.

All you need is an Airex pad (or pillow) behind you.

I find Airex pads to be just the right size and height to cater to many stride lengths as well as depth. Some people can’t touch the pad while many others can. I also find when people have something soft to land on, they’re a little more at ease if they must “plop” down.

What I would tell people is this, “take a step back over the pad and let your knee kiss the pad”.

Sometimes it gives them perfect lunges, other times, they can’t, and in that case, we go half-kneeling on the pad and perform split squats.

Try this if you have problems finding your depth and range for lunges and see if there’s any other way you can alter it.

Now we all have limitations and abilities, limb lengths, muscle lengths, awareness, joint structure, and preferences. That said, doing something because you “stink” at it isn’t necessarily a reason NOT to do it. You may need to go back to the basics and start from there.

I can guarantee one thing: finding what works best for you is ultimately better than dismissing something in it’s entirety.

Try these out and feel free to let me know how it goes!