7 Alternative Exercises from Julien Pineau and How to Do them Properly

Julien Pineau was born in France and has been taking part in competitive sports since the age of 7. He won several national titles in France in multiple sports including football, wrestling and swimming.

When Julien was a teenager he began martial arts after find a jiu jitzu and  MMA (mixed martial art) seminar and getting hooked. Julien even traveled to South America to seek the best teachers and began to coach around 1993. Julien focused on conditioning work as well as grappling for MMA and was know for working his students exceptionally hard.

In 2008 Julien opened his own gym, focusing on strongman, conditioning and other strength work. That was the beginning of StrongFit. As a coach he believes in optimising movement, working with athletes to identify faulty movement patterns.

The Energy System you’re Probably Avoiding – An Interview With Julien Pineau


Julien has developed many ideas about training over the years. One of these concepts is the importance of trusting in principles instead of methods. Don’t just follow instructions without knowing what and why you are doing what you are doing.

In his eyes there are three main types of lifting:

  • Hold
  • Carry
  • Load

These should all be worked on in various ways if an athlete wants to build genuine strength and power.

One of the biggest problem in CrossFit for Julien is that too many movements utilise the same grip. The three main types of grip are:

  • Pronated (thumbs facing each other)
  • Neutral (thumbs facing up)
  • Supanated (thumbs facing out)

The first is the most commonly used in CrossFit and can lead to imbalances if one side is stronger than the other.

Julien takes a holistic approach to the body, as he believes that everything is always linked. If your upper back is not strong enough on either side, that affects your lower back, which then affects your knees etc. But people just feel the pain in the knee and try to fix the knee instead of analyzing the whole body movement. Fix the base of the body or it could have repercussions somewhere else.

1. One Arm Barbell Press

This movement is really something that athletes should try. To do it correctly you must have full body awareness and posses good balance. Watch out if the bar starts to wobble and become unstable. Start with a low weight and focus on the movement and the correct muscles.

2. Harness Pull

This is a really fun video from Julien Pineau. He uses one of his clients to drag him around the box on the sled. While he sits there he tells us how to use your body the best way for this exercise. Be careful to use the tip of your toes. Use the tip to push yourself forward and engage the glutes and not have your whole foot on the floor. Be careful not to turn the knees inward.

This could work as a fun partner workout, one sits on the sled and the other drags is and then swap over.

3. Lat Pulldown

In this video Julien shows very clearly how to perform the lat pull down and which muscles you should use and which you should not. The girl he has helping him is very lean so it is easy to see which muscles she has engaged in the movement. You should not use your shoulder but more your lats and back, as well as the obliques. There are a couple of ways to perform the Lat pull down, depends on which muscles you are training at that time. Grip makes the difference.

4. Dips

Julien Pineau says that there are two types of dips. One is better for speed and more repetitions. The other builds muscles and is the harder version. The question is which muscles are you using.

5. Yates Row

Yates row is a great exercise to build muscles in your back. There are so many exercises that have the same movement of up and down. This row is front and back. Always watch out for not shrugging and using the wrong movement or have the wrong stance while performing this exercise. Be careful to to both pulling and pushing exercises to have your body better balanced.


6. Sandbag Toss

Most people do the sandbag toss wrongly according to Julien Pineau. He wants you to throw the bag higher and further while using your whole body. Put the sandbag on your hips to begin with and use the momentum of the hip as well as your arms to get the sandbag as high and far as you can. Don’t just get it over your shoulder and have it drop down on the other side.

7. Sandbag Carry

Julien Pineau teaches in this video how to hold the sandbag the best way. If you hold it too high it will hurt your back as well get you exhausted. The other important thing to have in mind doing any carry, is to breath correctly. Breath in through your nose and exhale through you mouth. Try to find you breathing rhythm.  Two possibilities are mentioned, either inhale while stepping forward with you left leg, then exhale while stepping on you right leg. The other method is doing two steps while inhaling and then exhaling the next to steps. Find the rhythm that suits you. This breathing technique helps you control your fatigue. Also reduced stress.

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