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January 23, 2024

5 Gaps In Traditional Strength Training Programs

Today I am dropping all the realizations I’ve had in my own experiences with rehabbing from injuries, and my pre and postnatal training. And most importantly how I’ve seen these 5 gaps in traditional strength training programs based on those experiences. 

My name is Annie Miller, and I help you learn as you train and enjoy your lifts again. This one goes out to coaches and trainees alike.

Prefer to learn on video? Watch here:

You don’t need to be injured, or with child in order to benefit from this information. 


So many things we learn in injury rehab as well as pre-and post natal training can be applied to higher quality, more well rounded general strength and hypertrophy training.

I will start by referencing programs I followed in order to come to these realizations. 

This is why I think it’s so valuable to hire other coaches or at the very least follow programs that you didn’t write.

I’ll be the first to say I am partial to my own program design… I truly enjoy it. 

But even if I change a few things about a program I am following, being exposed to other exercise selection, set and rep schemes, training splits, etc is so valuable.

I am taking little nuggets I’ve learned from others and passing that on to you.

Any type of training has gaps. Not one program can actually do it all. 

So take from this what sticks out to you about your own training or perhaps your programming for clients.


This is for general weight lifting with a nod towards strength as the focus.

Let the gaps begin.

1. INTERNAL Rotation

Internal rotation was something I’d apparently never done until prepping to give birth in my lower body training. 

I followed the MamasteFit prenatal and postnatal programming.

My glutes were soooo tight when I started loading them in an internally rotated position. 

When we internally rotate at the hip, with or without knee flexion, the glutes are LENGTHENED. 

Not only is this functional (something we should be able to do), it’s also great for recruiting new muscle fibers and creating potential for more GROWTH.


Internal rotation is so easy to add into your training. 

If you’re already doing split squats, lunges, or unilateral RDL variations (aka most people lifting weights), simply rotate your torso TOWARDS the inner thigh.

>> Think belly button or sternum towards the working leg.

The rotation will happen as you lower in the movement examples I shared.

Perhaps more commonly, a curtsy lunge, split squat or step up does this without torso rotation.

Point is, if any femur rotation is happening in traditional strength or hypertrophy training is happening it’s likely external. 

Adding in a bit of internal rotation is something to consider.

2. ADDuction

Let’s keep going with the lower body and hips.

With all the glute work we see in the weightlifting space, there’s no shortage of ABduction.

ABduction in this context is the leg moving to the side, AWAY from the midline. 

Therefore ADDuction is the opposite.

The glutes – primarily glute medius and part of glute max, are responsible for ABduction.

You’ve seen it. You’ve done it, A LOT, I am sure… Lateral band walks of all kinds, side lying leg raises, cable kick back or leg lift variations.

Alllll the ABduction.

So we must ask, where is the love for the ADDuction?

Is it the thigh gap? 

Is that why we don’t train our inner thighs? 

The adductors get no love.

That stops today. 

You want to smash a watermelon between your knees? Adduction is the name of the game.

Adduction became a focus for me in two different seasons

  1. Recovering from SI joint and lumbar spine injury
  1. Pre and postnatal training

The adductors are important. Particularly for pelvic stability. 

It’s easy to see how neglecting ADDuction and overtraining ABduction might create imbalances in control of the pelvis.

Adductors are an area many people will say is “tight.” 

This may be true, but tight doesn’t inherently mean SHORT. 

Could be, OR they could be WEAK, and also tight.

Training the adductors can be done in many ways.

Some common ones are Copenhagen plank variations.

The contractions can be isometric or active.

Using sliders for lateral lunges is BRUTAL for the adductors. Any inward sliding can be highly effective for working the adductors.

Then of course there’s….THE MACHINE at the gym. You know the one. You wouldn’t dare make eye contact with someone while using it (great for the adductors). 

Cossack squats or wide stance squats or deadlift variations will also call upon the adductors in a less isolated manner.

If you spend a fair amount of time opening those leggies….think about closing them as well…

Gawd, you’re going to get up in arms about this next gap in strength training I’ve found (maybe not). 

3. HIGH Pulls / Upright Row

“THOSE CAUSE SHOULDER IMPINGEMENT” [inset my eye roll here]

I know. I am the first to say I used to claim this. Went from doing these regularly in my bro split days to claiming they’re the spawn of satan.

Fact is, they don’t CAUSE shoulder impingement. Not inherently. 

They’re a vertical pull, opposite of a more traditional vertical pull like a lat pulldown.

Hear me out…

You don’t have  to do these. But if shoulder impingement is the reason you’re avoiding them, please, reconsider.

Deadlifts can be an exercise where people experience back pain. Deadlifts don’t CAUSE back pain.

Exceeding capacity causes pain. 

Introducing a load that is too heavy for a given trained pattern may cause injury. How that injury manifests depends on the joints and muscles at work. Fair?

The upright row targets the traps and shoulders. Specifically your medial and anterior delts – so side and front, and your traps.

They also require your shoulder blade to MOVE and glide over the ribcage. 

Where people may get into trouble is the posture of this exercise. 

Letting the shoulder and scapula protract, drop forward WITH excessive internal rotation at the shoulder. 

You may see the shoulder blade flare out, off the ribcage, or the elbow raise forward.

Your elbow height is not your focus here. 

I am not positive, but think this could be part of the issue. Thinking about getting the elbow high as the point of the movement.

Your elbow may not actually raise much higher than your shoulder. 

Regardless, think about the shoulder blade being pulled ON TO the rib cage, keeping a big chest, elbow moving along a slightly backward trajectory.

The scapula will rotate up and slightly outward at the bottom. 

Take it or leave it. Load it properly, or don’t.

4. MOVING The Spine & Shoulder Blades

This is obviously very broad on the surface.

Often, the fitness industry likes to settle into extremes…

NO spinal flexion. 

Pack the shoulders in your back pockets and never let them out.

If you never read my blog on how “Neutral Spine Did Me Wrong” – check it out HERE. I used to be what I call a movement elitist. Please know I am preaching from the trenches, not the mountain top here.

The take home here is that we should be able to find and keep a neutral spine. We should be able to retract or depress our shoulder blades and hold them there without breaking position. 

Annnnddd creating constant rigidity is not ideal. It creates a different issue than complete lack of control, but problems nonetheless.

Is a better goal maybe to be able to control our spine and shoulder blades under greater ranges of motion and loads?

I think yes.

Let that shoulder “unpack.” Reach in your lat pulldown, then downwardly rotate that shoulder blade as your lat contracts along a larger range.

Maybe implement some spinal CARS, some segmenting, UNLOADED. Progress to an unweighted Jefferson curl if safe to do so, then add load.

Can your spine laterally flex? Or does it feel like your obliques are going to straight up tear off your ribcage when you reach overhead to the side?

The spine should move. 

That statement doesn’t mean that pulling a deadlift like a scaredy cat is ideal for most people. Don’t take this out of context.

Any movement should always be progressed from unloaded mobility to loaded mobility and there are still biomechanically advantageous positions for moving weight. 

Meaning the most efficient and effective position for moving most loads is with joints stacked and without energy leaks.

I digress…

If you believe a rigid spine is the way, I challenge that. Consider spine and scapular mobility and CONTROL and how that can be implemented into strength and hypertrophy training. 


We’ll keep this one quick.

Most people tend to lack adequate ankle dorsiflexion – how far your knee can go over your toe with your whole foot on the floor.

A BIG ol’ missing piece in a lot of programs and even rehab for ankle injuries is TIBIALIS ANTERIOR WORK.

The Kneesovertoesguy is changing that on what I think is a global level.

We often see eccentric ankle dorsiflexion and distraction work at the ankle. People work their calves, both the soleus and the gastroc.

Like the ABduction, adduction and internal vs external conversation from earlier, what about working OPPOSITE of the calves?

On a broad scale, most hypertrophy training does a decent job of working opposing muscle groups. It falls short in a few places.

I’ve found tib anterior is one of those. 

Ever look at a soccer player’s lower leg? 

They have the juiciest tib anterior just popping out on their shin bone. It’s lovely, in my opinion. That’s due to so much active ankle dorsiflexion!

Yay muscles.

You can do something as simple as tib taps or seated tib pulls with bands. 

We just got this piece of equipment which only works bilaterally. It’s fine, but I use single leg tib taps or eccentric focused band work for a unilateral (single leg) loading option.

Don’t neglect the tibialis anterior and ACTIVELY working that dorsiflexion.

That’s all I’ve got! These are the 5 gaps I’ve personally discovered in traditional strength and hypertrophy training due to injury, rehab and pre-and postnatal training: 

1. Internal Rotation

2. Adduction 

3. High Pulls/Upright Row 

4. Moving The Spine & Shoulder Blades

5. Tibialis Anterior Work 

Not saying ALL hypertrophy or strength training ever created neglects these areas… 

Just that after a decade+ in this industry, these are areas I’d consider adding into or not forgetting about in your training. 

I reserve the right to change my mind, as usual. 

Join The Discussion: 

Have you ever worked on spinal mobility or gone through a season of extreme focus on keeping the spine or shoulder blade from moving? 

I certainly have. Let me know in the comments below.

I hope you enjoyed these educated gains and I will catch you in the next blog. 

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I'm an adventurous introvert from Vancouver, Washington who lives on sleep + "me time." I'm a lover of lifting weights, dinosaurs, real talk and traveling with my husband. I am here to help you move better, lift more, bust the myths of the fitness industry, and inspire you to love the process.

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