Please Don't Take Michelle Obama's "Fitness" Advice. You'll Hurt Yourself...
It's easy to gloss over Michelle Obama's latest video, make a few fat jokes and miss the important, macro-points.
See, this video proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Michelle Obama has no business dispensing training advice. Even if some parallel universe existed in which Mrs. Obama found herself to be in world-class shape, what she exhibits here, if emulated, could do serious harm to many Americans.
Literally. Bodily harm.
Michelle Obama began her "Let's Move" journey by dispensing horrendous, scientifically unsound diet advice. She's opted to continue down that trail by now offering... horrendous, scientifically unsound training advice.
Firstly, the good: Michelle is advocating strength training. Good for her. Her trainer even stresses the importance of weights. Good thing. After that, everything falls apart.
If you are thinking of beginning your own strength and conditioning journey, please follow these few simple rules.
- Do not squat like Michelle Obama.
- Do not do dumbell press like Michelle Obama.
- And please, for the love of all that is holy, do not ever, ever ever, hit the heavy bag like Michelle Obama.
If you emulate her movement patterns with any frequency, you will find yourself with injuries. But see, that's the whole point! What qualifications does Michelle Obama have in dispensing diet or exercise advice? She married the president. Nothing more. If that's all it takes, every "Housewife of Orange Country" would be a trial lawyer. It may seem trivial, but this is an example of government over-reach where completely inappropriate. Let's start with the squat
Right off the bat. It's owhere near parallel. This is the instance in which the hip joint breaks the parallel plane of movement with the knee. It is required in any officially recognized lifting event that includes the squat. Both for balanced development, and injury-prevention purposes. If someone is not squatting below parallel, they don't know how to squat.
Also, her heels lift off of the ground. This is one of the first errors corrected by a competent strength coach, as to perform a proper squat, one is required to drive with the heels. Granted, she's performing a jump-squat in this case, which allows for greater variations. Which bring me to another point; if Michelle is looking to help Americans, they'd be better served learning the fundamental, basic lifting patterns first. That means a basic squat, before complex plyometrics.
Not a full range of motion. Not even close. Again, this needs to be done both for developmental purposes and injury prevention.
Flared elbows and her forearms are not perpendicular to the floor. Contrary to the popular bodybuilding myth, you never want to open up your chest and flare your elbows while pressing. It puts undue stress on the pectorals, a muscle prone to tearing/injury, and removes the load from your lats, triceps and shoulders.
MICHELLE'S HEAVY BAG "WORK"
Okay, obviously she's no boxer, so I'll let the lowering of the hands slide. Truth be told, unless you're going to perform your basic punching properly, you have no business hitting the bag. You'll engrain movement patterns into your brain that all but ensure a firm ass-kicking should you ever resort to them when required.
The real problem here is the complete lack of technique displayed by Michelle which will result in formidable torque on the spine. Look at that roundhouse kick. Now, google any video of an actual round-house kick. There's a reason that the planted foot is angled to the outside of the target, and there's a reason that the hips turn over. It's not only imperative for generating power, but to ensure that the transference of kinetic energy ultimately ends up at the "end of the whip" on your target, and not in your lumbar spine. A basic understanding of kinesiology – something that eludes our First Lady – will clear this up.
The way Michelle Obama is performing that kick will be problematic for healthy backs at best, and could result in severe disc complications for those with compromised spines at worst.
So please, America, if you want to be fit, if you want to be healthy, find a qualified professional and learn how to lift properly. It's not rocket science, but a foundation is important. And it's something that Michelle has clearly never learned. Friends don't let friends train like Michelle Obama.
But don't take my word for it. Learn from legendary strength coach, Mark Rippetoe, below.