Monthly Archives: March 2015

Simply the Best

Good Afternoon All,

Exercise choice can get complicated, after all there is so much choice available.

What exercises should be on your go to list?

Ideally large compound moments of the most part, but there is certainly a place for isolation exercises.

Here is a nice quick list of recommendations for you. There will be 2 of the best bang for your buck exercises for every body part. One will be a weighted exercise, the other a body weight – Yes I said a body weight exercise, you never know when you might need it if the gyms busy.

Legs:

– Squat (Back or Front)
– Snatch Grip Deadlift

Chest:

– Incline Barbell Press
– Gymnastic Ring Fly

Back:

– Weighted Pull/Chin Up
– Renegade Row

Shoulders:

– Standing Overhead Press
– Hand Stand Press Up

Triceps:

– Weighted Dip
– Close Grip Press

Biceps:

– Negative Chins (Weighted, or BW)
– Zottman Curl

Core:

– Ab Wheel Roll Out
– L-Sit

If you have at least one outhouse moves in your workouts you will find not only your strength goes through the roof, your muscles grow too.

Enjoy
Ross

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You Think Too Much.

Morning Guys,

Over complication is the devil.

Do you really need to have 12 isolation exercises for each muscle group?

Probably not, but you saw them in a magazine and wanted to try them.

The problem first starts when we begin to learn more about weight lifting and all of the potential training methods. We see how top level pro’s train and want to imitate our peers – which is admirable, but unnecessary.

A lot of people will start off with a basic program, perhaps 5×5 or similar. It will be focused on compound movements (Squat, Bench, Deadlift, Press, Pull Up) and they will get a decent amount of results in a short space of time. Then some extra isolation exercise are added and they make even more progress.

This is where the problem begins.

The common thought pattern is a follows:

“If one or two extra isolation exercises are good hen more must be better!”

And so a vicious cycle beings.

More and more exercises will be added to the routine, this leads to more time being required in the gym and that leads to frustration because the progress eventually starts to slow, regardless of how many exercises they have.

This leads to the fear of dropping even one exercise because they believe their new muscle or fitness will disappear. (It won’t but the way.)

I have been in this situation like many before me, I’m sure there will continue to be plenty of people who make this mistake.

Keeping a workout simple often yields the best possible results.

Here is a nice easy structure example to follow:

Compound Lift – Squat – Low reps, moderate/high sets, 80%+
Assistance Lift – Lunge – Moderate reps, moderate sets, 70-80%
Assistance Lift – RDL – High reps, low sets, 60-70%
Isolation Lift – Leg Extension – High reps, low sets, 60-70%
Core Work – Ab Roll Out – Low/med/high reps or set

As you can see you have one BIG lift, two ASSISTANCE lifts to hep progress the big lift, then and ISOLATION for some specific muscle growth and finally one CORE movement. This should take between 45-60min.

Keeping your workouts simple will not only help provide you with better results, it will also help you stave off boredom because you can swap your assistance/isolation/core work every 2/3 weeks.

Enjoy
Ross

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A Gift

The Ladder System: High frequency strength training for building muscle, burning fat and getting strong.

Training everyday has long been known as taboo. There is various scientific articles scattered around that list the benefits/requirement of rest, along with the dangers of training too much, but how then can service Men & Woman, Athletes and some people defy the science?

How is this possible? 

The answer is simple; High Frequency Strength Training (HFST). 

What is HFST?

It is in essence training a muscle group multiple times per week with varied weights, sets and reps to help stimulate progressive overload.

The Ladder System is a method of training I have used for years to achieve varied goals, ranging all the way from adding muscle mass/strength to burning untold amounts of fat and getting stronger without adding any excess or unwanted bulk (Improving neuromuscular connection). I have tried other programs but I find myself coming back to this time and again. 

It’s main focus is to develop strength across all of your powerlifting lifts, but I will teach you how to adapt it to your needs.

I will show you how you can train safely and effectively every day (if you desire to do so, if not you can take the basic principles and build a solid workout regardless.) with this style of training. All you need to do is keep reading and I will reveal the simple secrets that many don’t want you to know. 

Firstly though I feel there are a few things you should understand:

The System is Safe,
Effective,
Time Efficient,
Simple to Follow,
Adaptable to YOUR Goals,
Fun, 
But above all else, it gets the results you want.

If you want to achieve your goals with ease then I invite you to read on, if not, thank you very much for reading the post this far and please pass it to someone who you feel would benefit from knowing this information.

Now, lets get started. 

Below are a series of 3 steps to help you best prepare for the Ladder System.

Step 1: Establishing Your Goals

Before you can hope to use this system effectively you must first know your goal. 

What is it you want to achieve? 

Take out a pen and find a piece of paper. Now write down your goal, how you will achieve it, what behaviour you will be required to maintain to achieve your goal, how you will feel once you’ve achieved your goal and finally how it will benefit and make a positive impact on you life. 

Try to do all of this in 300 words or less, it should take you about a minute to write and a minute to read. This will help you stay focused and provide motivation when you need it. 

Now go and pin it on your fridge, this way you will be reminded of what you’re trying to achieve every day. 

Step 2: Your Starting Point

To know where you’re going and how far you have to go, you must understand where you’re starting from. This will serve to show you how far you travel and how much you achieve, that way you can feel proud because when you look back you will be able to see that YOU SUCCEEDED.

• Take a Before picture and date it. Now lock it away in a safe place, you don’t want to lose it – trust me. 
• Jump on the scales and note down your current weight in Lbs. However, If possible have a professional do your body fat % and overall body stats.
• Take measurements of the following areas: Waits, Hips, Chest, Arms and Legs. Put these with your before picture.
• Smile, you have taken the hardest step to making a positive change; the first one.

Step 3: Set a date

You can link this in with writing down your goal, but I feel it is important enough to have it’s own reminder. 

Write down a date to review your progress, this can be ever 2, 4 or 6 week, you will also want the day you want to achieve your goal by too. This will involve taking progress photos, new measurements, and your new weight in Lbs.

With all of these done you have now made a commitment to making a change. It’s time now to get you started.

Preparation Set Up Part 1: Establishing Your Macro Nutrients

If you are sat reading to yourself and thinking “I just want the program!” feel free to read on, but I must advise you that this section is very important and WILL make the difference between you getting results and not getting results. Under or over eating will be detrimental to your goal in the long run. 

First of all you will need to establish the calories your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) requires to achieve your goal by doing the following:

To get your total calories I would suggest multiplying your weight in lbs by 11 & 13 for fat loss and 17-19 for muscle/strength gain. This will give you a range your calories need to be in.

*I shall use a 175lbs male as the example.

175 x 17 = 2975 
175 x 19 = 3325

Your caloric range would be 2975-3325 if muscle/weight gain was your goal.
Now we need to get your basic macronutrients sorted.
What are Macros? 

• Protein
• Fat
• Carbs
• Fibre

The easiest way to find out how much fat you will need in your diet is to take your weight in lbs (Optimally your lean weight – if you know it.) and multiply that number by 0.3-0.6 to give you the amount in grams you will need per day. Multiply by 9 to find out how many calories this is.

I would say to start on the lower number (0.3). Then you workout your required protein by taking your weight (Again ideally lean.) by 0.8-1.2 depending on your activity level. This will give you your grams of protein needed, them multiply this by 4 to get the calories.

Add those two numbers together and then subtract that number from your total required calories for your specific goal. This will give you what calories you need in terms of carbs, then divide that number by 4 for the grams required.

With the amount of carbs your require in grams multiply that by 7.5% & 10% to get your fibre intake – this is included in your carbs, not added on top.

Example:
Weight – 175lbs x 19 = 3325 calories

Fat – 175 x 0.3 = 52.5g = 472.5 calories

Protein – 175 x 1.2 = 210g = 840 calories

Carbs – 3325 – 472.5 – 840 = 2012.5/4 = 503g

Fibre – 503 x 0.075 & 0.10 = 37.5g & 50g

So you will have the following:

Protein – 210g

Carbohydrates – 500g

Fat – 52.5g

Fibre – 37.5-50g

I would also suggest having 1 litre of water per 25kg of total bodyweight. Add in 1 exert litre for each hour of exercise on your chosen workout days too.

If you happen to like a cheeky drink after work to help wind down then you can use this to help you factor the calories from your chosen beverage.

There is 7 calories per 1 gram of alcohol (Just for your information.) but this isn’t really too relevant for the following. Count your alcohol towards your overall carb content (People we often speak to have carbs left over), simply because it’s easier to accept for this way. 

To count your alcohol towards your carbs all you need do is take the number of calories in your chosen beverage and divide it by 4. (If you want to count it towards fat divide the calories in the alcohol by 9.)

*Personally I would avoid alcohol for the best possible results, but that choice is yours to make. 
Here is an example:

An average pint can have 300 calories per pint.

Divide this by 4 = 75. This can be counted as 75g of carbs. 

There you have it. You have successfully accounted for alcohol, but be aware you should not actively try and get smashed just because you can count it in to your macros. There is nothing wrong with a little alcohol, just don’t over do it.

Now you have the guidelines to follow I would suggest downloading an app such as ‘My Fitness Pal’ to help your track how well you’re doing form day to day. You can use a book if that suits you, but apps are easier. 

*Try to have 80% of your calories coming from whole foods (Nutrient Dense) and 20% from what ever indulgences you desire (Energy Dense).

I know the maths can be the cause of a slight head ache, but if you don’t know what you need to eat you could be working as hard as you like for years without getting results. 
Time to move on.

Preparation Set Up Part 2: Know Your Limits

I have a simple question for you. If you can answer it then skip this section, but if you can’t then you MUST read what is next.

Do you know your 1RM (Rep Max) for the following

• Squat
• Bench Press
• Deadlift
• Overhead Press* Optional

Yes or No?

You will need to know these to be able to set your required weights for the Ladder System. Don’t worry if you don’t know them, I am going to give you an equation to help you get a rough estimate to work from. 

Sorry, it’s more maths again.

Weight Lifted x Reps Performed x .0333 + Weight Lifted = 1RM

Example:
100 x 10 x .0333 + 100 = 133.3kg estimated 1RM

This will give you a number you can work from. Do this for all your lifts as you will need them all.

Once you have the estimated 1RM’s you can chose to either work your percentages for the Ladder System directly from them or you can use a Training Max (TM) which is 90% of your 1RM – this would be advisable for beginner to novice lifters.

The equation you will need to set your % of weights is a simple one: 

1RM x 0.5 – 100kg x 0.5 = 50kg or 50%. Simple.

With all of this information you are now ready to venture in to the Ladder System.

The Ladder System:

This program will run for up to 7days, consisting of varying volumes and weights. After a 3 week period there will be a deload phase where the volume is cut by 40% to allow CNS (Central Nervous System) recovery – The reduction may be in the form of reps/set or weight.

What is the overall purpose of ladder training?

It is to help “Grease the Groove” and practice your movement patterns. This will translate to improved motor unit recruitment, this will then help improve the amount of muscle you use each time you train, and that will help you burn more calories, build more lean muscle and gain strength with ease.

The basic premise of the Ladder System is based around the 3 Big Lifts: Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.

Now normally you will find lots of rule to follow when using a style such as this, but I have some good news for you. There are very few rules to follow, the power of this system is in its ability to be adapted and tailored to each individuals needs. There are almost endless potential combinations you may use, the limitations of this system are only that akin to your imagination.

*Remember to record your training in a training diary, that way you will be able to see how much weight you’ve lifted, what you’re progressing on and what needs work.

Below are the rules.

1 – Ladder Sets can be as low as 1 or a high as 10 depending on your goals.
2 – Ladder Reps can be from 1 – 10 or even higher if you wish. The reps either start low and work up high, or they start high and work down. (Working down is best on Heavy days, working up is best on Light or Medium days.)
3 – YOU MUST EAT, REGARDLESS OF YOUR GOAL.
4 – The entire system is based off of the Squat, Bench, Deadlift and their variations (Squat, Push, Hinge & Pulling Movements).
5 – Listen to your Body. Go as heavy as you feel you can, if you feel strong on a light day why not go for a P.B, but the same applies for heavy days, if you feel weak why not take it down a notch? There are no prizes for going too hard and getting injured.

The way I recommend using this style of training is so that on Heavy Days they will be aimed at the Big 3 (Squat, Bench & Deadlift) and improving your strength. Your Medium/Light days will be comprised of variations on the Big 3, don’t be afraid to use any alternative exercises you fancy. Variations can be done with barbells, kettlebells, bodyweight, Dumbbells or anything you want. 

*It’s worth remembering that you will need to take a step back every now and again. Picture that you have hit 10,000kg lifted in week one, 12,500kg in week 2 and 15,000kg in week three, your deload might take you back to 8000kg for a week, then you start at 10,500kg for a new week 1.
If you add the same amount you did in previous your overall volume will be higher, then you repeat the deload process but perhaps drop back to 9000kg and start a new week at 11,000kg.

Can you see the pattern?

Provided you’re tracking your desired results you will know where you can squeeze out a little more. 

What about Abs/Back? Fear not and keep reading.

Core/Back will follow the Ladder principle too, but I would advise with slightly higher reps for the pulling movements, 1-10.

You will also be adding in 1 Core exercise and one Back exercise (Pull Up/Chin Up is the correct choice) at the end of each workout to help improve your overall stability/balance. Feel free to choose from the list below or add in your own. The Core/Back Ladder will be best suited to a super set fashion. One core rep, then one pull up rep, 2 core, 2 pull ups until you hit your desired numbers.

So just to reiterate:

• You perform your Heavy Days with a Barbell and focus on Powerlifting competition technique. For the Back Squat – Hip crease below knee line, Bench Press – Pause at bottom of rep & Deadlift – Achieve full lock out.
• On Medium/Light days you will use variations of the Big 3 Lifts.
• One Core Exercise & 1 Back Exercise Done Each Workout.

Main Lifts:

• Squat
• Bench
• Deadlift

Here are a few variations for you to look over.

Squat Variations:

• Front Squat
• Overhead Squat
• Zecher Squat
• Box Squat
• Barbell Lunge
• Front Squat Lunge
• Overhead Lunge
• Yolk Run

Bench Variations:

• Incline Press
• Overhead Press
• Push Press
• Decline Press
• Board Press
• Dumbbell Press
• Plyometric Push Up 
• Dips/Weighted Dips

Deadlift Variations:

• Deficit Deadlift
• Block Pull
• Trap Bar Deadlift
• Suitcase Deadlift
• Sumo Deadlift
• Good Morning 
• GHR
• Farmers Walk
• Kettlebell Snatch

There are endless variations you can use, bodyweight supplementation works very well on light days. You want your Medium/Light days to compliment your Heavy days, the exercises you pick will help improve your Big 3 total. 

Core Selection:

• Ab Wheel Roll Out
• Hanging Leg Raise
• Hanging Knee Raise
• V-Sit
• Windmill
• Janda Sit Up
• L-Sit Hold (10 second holds)

Back Selection:

• Pull Up
• Chin Up
• Neutral Grip Pull Up
• Ring Pull Up
• Towel Grip Pull Up
• Rope Climb/Pull Up
• Inverted Row

As you can see there are lots of options from which to choose from, I will now give you some examples on how you can build solid programs.

Variations on the System

Below you will find an some different sets of program suggestions for various goals.

Functional Hypertrophy Program:

Example Weight % for Functional Hypertrophy (Muscle Gaining)

Monday – Heavy Day – Week 1 80%, (Week 2 85%), (Week3 90%), (Week 4 Deload)
Tuesday – Light Day – Week 1 60%, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%), (Week 4 Deload)
Wednesday – Medium Day – Week 1 70%, (Week 2 75%), (Week 3 80%), (Week 4 Deload)
Thursday – Light Day – Week 1 60%, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%), (Week 4 Deload)
Friday – Heavy Day – Week 1 80%, (Week 2 85%), (Week 3 90%), (Week 4 Deload)
Saturday – Medium Day – Week 1 70%, (Week 2 75%), (Week 3 80%), (Week 4 Deload)
Sunday – Light Day – Week 1 60 %, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%), (Week 4 Deload)

Example Ladder Reps & Sets for Functional Hypertrophy (Muscle Gaining)

Heavy Day – 4-5 x 3,2,1  
Medium Day – 3-4 x 4,3,2,1 
Light Day – 2-3 x 5,4,3,2,1 (Also Deload Reps)

45-60 Seconds Rest on Light Days, 60-90 Seconds Rest on Medium Days, 180 – 240+ on Heavy Days.

Example Exercise Recommendations for Functional Hypertrophy (Muscle Gaining)

Monday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Ab Roll Out/Pull Up
Tuesday – Front Squat, OHP, Rack Pull, Leg Raise, Chin Up
Wednesday – Barbell Lunge, Incline Press, Deficit DL, Windmill, Neutral Grip Chin
Thursday – Box Squat, Log Press, Trap Bar DL, L-Sit Hold, Towel Grip Pull Up
Friday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Janda Sit Up, Ring Pull Up
Saturday – Overhead Squat, Decline Bench, Farmers Walk, Rope Climb
Sunday – Zecher Squat, Plyometric Push Up, V-sit, Inverted Row

*The Exercise selection/variations can be picked from the list above or modified to your personal desires.

I mentioned above that the 4th week would be a deload, You will simply stick with a week of light days – 60-65%. This will give your body a chance to recover and you will be able to prepare your weights for the next 3 weeks of training – I would suggest adding 5lbs to your pressing movements and 10lbs to your squat and deadlift. 

The examples I have have given you above are geared towards Functional Hypertrophy (Muscle/Strength Gains) a great program for someone who wants to be as strong as they look. If you were looking to focus purely on strength while maintaining a lean physique then you may have something that looks like the following;

Example Strength Focus

Monday – Heavy Day – Week 1 80%, (Week 2 85-90%), (Week3 90-95%)
Tuesday – Light Day – Week 1 60%, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%
Wednesday – Heavy Day – Week 1 Week 1 80%, (Week 2 85-90%), (Week3 90-95%)
Thursday – Light Day – Week 1 60%, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%)
Friday – Heavy Day – Week 1 80%, (Week 2 85-90%), (Week 3 90-95%)
Saturday – Light Day – Week 1 60 %, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%)
Sunday – Light Day – Week 1 60 %, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%)

Example Ladder Reps & Sets for Strength

Heavy Day – 4-8 x 3,2,1  
Light Day – 3-5 x 5,4,3,2,1 

60-90 Seconds Rest on Light Days, 180 – 240+ on Heavy Days.

Example Exercise Recommendations for Strength

Monday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Ab Roll Out/Pull Up
Tuesday – Front Squat, OHP, Rack Pull, Leg Raise, Chin Up
Wednesday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Ab Roll Out/Pull Up
Thursday – Box Squat, Log Press, Trap Bar DL, L-Sit Hold, Towel Grip Pull Up
Friday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Ab Roll Out/Pull Up
Saturday – Overhead Squat, Decline Bench, Farmers Walk, Rope Climb

The Big 3 are best advised for the heavy days, pick any variations you want on lighter days. 

*You will notice the increased sets on light days, this is due to the low volume nature of strength training and it’s need for total volume stimulation – there is only some much weight you can keep adding before you can’t achieve any more volume. You will also need to adjust your caloric requirements accordingly – I would suggest hitting BMR or slightly over by 300.

Perhaps you fancy a Fat Loss example?

Example Fat Loss Focus

Monday – Medium Day – Week 1 70%, (Week 2 75%), (Week 3 80%)
Tuesday – Light Day – Week 1 60%, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%
Wednesday – Medium Day – Week 1 70%, (Week 2 75%), (Week 3 80%)
Thursday – Light Day – Week 1 60%, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%)
Friday – Medium Day – Week 1 70%, (Week 2 75%), (Week 3 80%)
Saturday – Medium Day – Week 1 70%, (Week 2 75%), (Week 3 80%)
Sunday – Light Day – Week 1 60 %, (Week 2 65%), (Week 3 70%)

Example Ladder Reps & Sets for Fat Loss

Medium Day – 3-6 x 4,3,2,1 
Light Day – 6-8 x 5,4,3,2,1

30-60 Seconds Rest (Both Days)

Example Exercise Recommendations for Fat Loss

Monday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Ab Roll Out/Pull Up
Tuesday – Front Squat, OHP, Kettlebell Snatch, Leg Raise, Chin Up
Wednesday – Barbell Lunge, Incline Press, Deficit DL, Windmill, Neutral Grip Chin
Thursday – Kettlebell OH Squat, Kettlebell Press, Overhead Swing, L-Sit Hold, Pull Up
Friday – Squat, Deadlift & Press, Janda Sit Up, Ring Pull Up
Saturday – Overhead Squat, Dumbbell Press, Farmers Walk, Towel Pull Up

You may choose to have any variations of the Big 3, alternatively you may have them on Medium days if you so desire. For the best fat loss you would do well to have kettle bell exercises such as the Snatch & Overhead Swing in this program. They will help you torch fat with ease.

*The fat loss style ramps up the volume and decreases the rest, but you will still stimulate lean muscle growth which will help towards burning more calories while at rest. Remember you need a Caloric deficit of up to 300-500 calories per day to achieve steady Fat Loss.

While the examples above I have given you are fairly basic the only tackle the ladder options in either an single Ascending or Descending fashion and then stop, this is not the only option. Depending on your overall goal you could structure the ladders like this:

• 1,2,3,4,5,4,3,2,1 (Strength) – Pyramid
• 7,6,5,4,3,2,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,6,5,4,3,2,1 (Hypertrophy) – Waving Set
• 5,5,4,4,3,3,2,2,1,1 (Strength) Repeating Set
• 10,9,8,7,6,7,8,9,10 (Fat Loss) High Rep Pyramid

If you’re thinking that there aren’t very many reps it’s ok. The Ladder Systems style of low reps, even with small ladders build your overall reps and they mount up very quickly, when you combine this with tracking your intensity (Weight % lifted) you will be able to see how much hard work you’re actually doing without even realising it.

Session Length

Each session should take no more than an hour. You don’t need to spend ages in the gym, some sessions may even last as little as 30min so don’t worry if that is the case.

High frequency training that is done everyday needs to be varied, the load, sets/reps and rest will be adjusted accordingly.

Conclusion

The system I have just given you above does not require much thought, simply consistency.

Here are a few reminders of the key points:

Go heavy naturally (when you feel strong)
Take a deload every 4th week
EAT!
Think of it as ‘practice’ rather than working out
Enjoy

If you have any questions please feel free to comment or contact me.

No go and get your results.
Ross

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My Confession

I have a confession.

I am a perfectionist.

This is one of my best/worst traits, it has caused me to strive to be better at everything I do, but it has also held me back because of the fear I would receive critique on being less than perfect.

There are many people who face this problem and I have one thing to say to them, no, to everyone;

It’s ok not to be perfect.

We may fail at our first attempt, perhaps our second, third and even our forth, but that does not stop us from learning and doing our task slightly better each time. Eventually we will come to realise that while we might not do everything perfectly, we do everything we can and achieve what we set out to achieve.

Remember it’s ok not to be perfect. The more you worry about trying to do everything without fault the less you will get done overall, obviously don’t use this as an excuse to do things half assed, just do the best you can for this attempt.

Enjoy
Ross

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Tense?

Today was listed as ‘Heavy’ for Deadlifts.

I was psyched.

I was ready.

I was humbled….

Planning on getting at least 215kg, but in the end only just getting 200kg brought me back down to earth with a lightning speed.

I failed. I may indeed fail next time, but I will fail better.

After giving my performance today some thought and comparison from that of last week, there was one thing that stood out, there was noticeably less tension being generated. As many of you know the more tension you can generate means the more force you can produce, the more force you can produce the more speed you can generate, if you can generate sufficient speed against an object to overcome its static load then you will move the object.

For those who don’t know, this image might help:

Tension is like pulling back a spring with weight, you load it to the point of where it won’t take any more (It might start to shake because of all the stored tension in it), if you then release that tension you will be able generate a certain amount of force and move the weight.

F=(ma) – Force = Mass x Acceleration

In short I lost my tension.

Strength is a skill and you should practice every lift in the way you would for a 1RM, it doesn’t matter if there is 50% on the bar. Your body will remember the tension and thus be able to recreate the feeling when the weight is heavy which will make it a lot easier to lift.

Here are 3 drills to practice to help you improve your bodies connection:

1 – The Plank – Tense EVERYTHING! You should be shaking throughout.
2 – Farmers Walk/Hold – Pick up a heavy weight and hold it there.
3 – Crucifix Hold – Pick up two weights and hold them out like you’re nailed to a cross, keep them there.

Enjoy
Ross

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Twice a day?

Is training Twice a day a good idea?

This is the question I was asked earlier today; my answer to this was a simple and resounding YES.
However, there is a caveat – you must not train the same way twice per day (Elite pros are excluded from this rule.).

If you are experienced in training, but new to double daily sessions, training twice a day can help you reap untold amounts of rewards, but you will need to ensure these three things first:

1 – AM is high threshold training, PM is moderate/low threshold.

2 – Carbs are your friend. High carbs are essential on double session days (variable according to goals).

3 – 4 days MAXIMUM training – 2 days on one day off, 2 days on then 2 days off will work well.

*As your experience grows rule 3 will change, but the first two always stay the same.

I would suggest doing and 8 week cycle at most, then a deload or even a week off would be advised.
To get the most benefit for twice per day training I would do the same muscle group (or same super set of muscles) on the same day.

Yesterday I wrote about motor unit recruitment, this style of training compliments it perfectly.
Think that your body will be recruiting all its fibres in the morning (High Threshold), they will be totally fried and couldn’t possibly do anymore (they just want to rest), then in the afternoon you go at it again with moderate/low intensity (causing even more motor unit recruitment to be required) which will force your body to adapt by building not only new neural pathways but also stimulate the need for new muscle fibres.

This happens because your body learns to expect the extra load and super compensates by create more muscle, fortifying its current muscle/connection and for the potential to generate more force when it trains in this way again.

Essentially you’re pushing to your limit and slightly beyond (overreaching).
Here is a simple program to help you:

Day 1 Lower Body (Quads/Hams)

AM
A1 – Front Squat 8×3
A2 – GHR x 3
B1 – Back Squat 5×5
B2 – RDL x5

PM
A1 – Squat Wave 3-5 x7,5,3
A2 – Hamstring Curl 7,5,3
B1 – Lunge 6×8
B2 – Gym Ball Hamstring Curl 6×8

Day 2 Upper Body (Chest/Back)

AM
A1 – Incline BB Bench 4×6
A2 – Wide Grip Pull Up x 6
B1 – Flat Bench (semi sup grip) 4×6
B2 – Bent Over Row (sup grip) x6

PM
A1 – Dumbbell Semi Incline 1 1/4 Reps 4×12
A2 – Cable Row (dual cable) 1 1/4 Reps 4×12
B1 – Cable Fly 5×10
B2 – Cable Reverse Fly 5×10

Day 3 Lower Body (Hams/Quads)

AM
A1 – Deficit Snatch Grip Deadlift 10×5
B1 – Good Morning 10×5

PM
A1 – Heel Raised Squat 3×8 +25
A2 – Prowler x20-30m
B1 – Farmers Walk 5x20m
B2 – Bound Jumps x3

Day 4 Upper Body (Shoulders/Arms)

AM
A1 – Over Head BB Press 5x 1-5
A2 – Lat Pull Down (pro grip) 1-5
B1 – Tricep Dip 3x 1-5 (weighted)
B2 – Chin Up 1-5 (weighted)

PM
A1 – Dumbbell Shoulder Press x6
A2 – Upright Row x12
A3 – Lateral Raise x24 (seated)
B1 – Bicep Curl (dumbbell) 4×12
B2 – Tricep Extension (over head) x12

8 weeks or more preferable, 8 rotations of this example cycle.

Enjoy
Ross

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The Secret of Constant Progression: Part 3

Good Evening,

I have written about Volume & Intensity over my last two posts, today I will cover the last element of training that can be changed to increase the overall load lifted.

Time to tackle Density.

Now when talking about the density of a workout people would assume it’s how many sets/reps you do, while that’s not entirely wrong it’s short of the mark. Density in the realms of a workout is actually how much rest you have between sets, so doing 5×5 @ 70% and the set takes 50 seconds to complete with 60 seconds rest between sets (490 seconds to complete all sets.) is more dense than doing the same volume/intensity with 120 seconds rest between sets (730 seconds total).

When you make a workout more dense it allows you to lift more weight in a shorter period of time, thus leading to better progressive overload. It is better however to keep the intensity (% of 1RM) between 60-75%, any more and the rest will begin to escalate and the density will become compromised meaning you will need to increase the overall volume by other means.

Using the same example we have used over the last few days (see below) we know what the total volume load is, we know the average intensity is 70%, but we don’t know the density.

Current Squat 1RM = 143kg = 100% 1RM
100kg = 70%

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 (240seconds rest + 250 seconds working set time) = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume in 490 seconds.

*This remains the same for each workout.

How would we change the overall load though a density change? We bring down the rest.

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 (180 seconds rest + 250 seconds working set time) = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume in 430 seconds.

You have achieved more work in less time, this brings down the time you spend in the gym while still hitting the same amount of total volume.

What does this mean?

Well you can opt to do some extra assistance work if you so choose too, but the biggest take home is that you can achieve the same amount in less time which is something busy people will find very useful, all you need to do is start off with a standard rest period – 90 seconds for example – then start chipping away at it until you can no longer handle the load without more rest.

Now you know of 2 ways to increase the overall load lifted and the third helps you save time while keeping the total volume high.

Use these posts to help you progress.

Enjoy
Ross

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The Secret of Constant Progression: Part 2

I trust you have all read yesterdays post.

If you haven’t please do so, it will make this one much easier to understand.

It’s time to move on to the subject of Intensity and how tweaking it can have a profound effect on your results.

When I hear people often speak of intensity they refer to how hard they are pushing and how little rest they have, in other words how ‘intense’ their session is. However the true meaning intensity* is not simply just getting hot, sweaty and out of breath, no no no, it is actually the total % amount of your 1RM you have on the bar.

*Intensity is measured as a % of your maximum. This is a transferable principle. For example, Cardio Vascular training you would monitor the heart rate level in such an instance – an athletes MHR (Max Heart Rate) could be 200 – athlete trains at 160 BMP (Beat Per Minute) – this is 80% of MHR.

After all, how can you measure an incase in intensity session to session without knowing this?

Just going on how tired you feel is not a good indicator and it’s likely to see you injured.

Lets just clarify;

Intensity in weightlifting is the % amount of your 1RM you have on the bar.

Adjusting the intensity of your workouts is a great way to help induce progressive overload, all it requires is a nice simple liner periodisation program (Just like we did with the Volume example.), in doing so you will be able to increase the intensity of your workout week to week and incur more overload – Lifting more weight each session.

Here is a follow on from my example yesterday:

Current Squat 1RM = 143kg = 100% 1RM

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) @ 70% of 1RM

*You’re working at an intensity of 70%. Lets see how we can keep the sets/reps (volume) the same at 25reps, but increase the intensity to improve the progressive overload stimulation.

Week 2 – 5×5 @ 107kg – 5×107 = 535 – 535×5 = 2675kg (Total Weight Volume) 25reps @ 75% intensity

As you will be able to see by looking at this example, the progressive overload is higher in the second week, but not by much.

Week 3 – 5×5 @ 114kg – 5×114 = 570 – 570×5 = 2850kg (Total Weight Volume) 25reps @ 80% intensity

*Week 4 Deload to 5×5 @ 60% – 5×85 = 430 – 430×5 = 2150kg (Total Weight Volume) 25 reps a reduction of 20% intensity – This allows your body to back off form he volume but maintain its neuromuscular connections and familiarity with the weight.

If we add the total amount of weight lifted together from changing the Volume & the total amount lifted from changing the Intensity we can see how much of a difference there is.

Tweaking Volume = 14,500kg lifted over 4 weeks (Including Deload)

Tweaking Intensity = 10,175kg lifted over 4 weeks (Including Deload)

That’s a difference of 4325kg between the two. Surely this means all you need to do is just cycle the volume and happy days right?

Not really.

Cycling the volume only, will get you so far because of the sheer amount of reps you will have to amass, in the end it will be too much to handle. But what about linking the two?

What is this madness of which I speak I hear you ask…

You could use the template from yesterday to set up your sets/reps and follow that for once cycle, then once it’s complete instead of start at 100kg (70%), start at 107kg (75%) and follow the same procedure. Remember you can also change the reps too, in the yesterdays post I only changed the total sets, so if you keep the sets the same but change the reps along with the intensity and you will see a complete difference in total load lifted:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) @ 70% of 1RM

Week 2 – 5×8 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×8 = 4000kg (Total Weight Volume) @ 70% of 1RM

^^ Total Load look familiar?

Use this advice to structure your workouts and you will have increased your overall load and further continued your progressive overload, this will lead to new strength & size gains.

*PROVIDED YOU EAT ENOUGH! Seriously, you need to be in an anabolic state to build muscle, that means being in a caloric surplus.

Now armed with these two crucial pieces of knowledge you should be set to take over the gym and become a colossus. But wait… I told you there were 3 elements you can change… Tomorrow we cover the forgotten aspect of adaptation;

Density.

Enjoy
Ross

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The Secret of Constant Progression: Part 1

When it comes to lifting weights well all want to have a steady progression, but many will stall and find their progress grinding to a halt without much warning.

Do you want to know how to avoid this?
Do you want the knowledge to build strength and muscle consistently?
Do you want to know what many trainers hesitate to tell?

Do you want to know the secret of constant progression?

I am going to write one short post per day about what elements of your training you can tweak that will allow you to continue to progress, they are not as complicated as you may think and on top of that there are only 3 KEY elements you need to be mindful off.

Volume

Intensity

Density

That makes 3 content filled posts for you to increase your knowledge and understanding of lifting weights, progression and progressive overload.

If you hied my advice you will find steady progression for many weeks, months and even years to come, so now we have all of the standard chatter of you the way;

Lets get started.

The route to progression is classed as continued progressive overload*, otherwise known as TOTAL VOLUME. This is the amount of weight you lift in one session, the get stronger or build more muscle you must lift more than you did before; simple right?

*Progressive overload by definition is that in order to adapt/grow we require a gradual increase in volume, intensity, density (frequency/time) in order to achieve the targeted goal of the user. In this context, volume, intensity and density are defined as follows: Volume is the total number of repetitions multiplied by the resistance used as performed in specific periods of time.

Not quite. Trying to constantly lift more weight each week will have you hitting a brick wall much sooner than you might realise, your body needs time to adapt, your ligaments and tendons need time to grow stronger as do your muscles. This is where the concept of volume can become skewed, lifting more weight to achieve more volume does not happen quiet the way you would think.

What is VOLUME?

Volume put simply is the cumulative amount of Sets & Reps you ave performed in that one session (Don’t get confused with Total Volume of Weight Lifted.*), the weight you’re using is known as the INTENSITY, but that’s something to talk about on another day, but as you will learn all 3 elements are intrinsically linked.

*The sum total volume of your weight lifted is what you will calculate at the end of your workout to see how much weight you lifted throughout the entire session and over a prolonged period of time throughout your different training phases, this will become important for establishing your ‘Power Index’, but more on that another day.

Example:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg lifted (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

So theoretically then this would be the next logical step:

Week 2 – 5×5 @ 105kg – 5×105 = 525 – 525×5 = 2625kg lifted (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

This progressive volume thing is easy according to this, the gains will be constant and strong… Or so we would like to believe. You have not changed the volume, you have changed the intensity, yes that has lead to more total volume, but not quiet in the way we are trying to achieve today.

Your body would only progress in this way for a certain period of time before it simply couldn’t handle any more weight for 5 sets of 5 reps, this is when you will need to change the volume load, I.E the amount of set’s and reps you’re doing.

You see, you can can increase your volume from a workout without having to increase the weight, take a look at this example:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

Week 2 – 8×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×8 = 4000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 40reps Total Volume

Are you starting to get the picture now?

Week 3 – 10×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×10 = 5000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 50reps Total Volume

*Week 4 Deload to 6×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×6 = 3000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 30reps Total Volume a reduction of 40% Volume, you can have multiple variations of this, but you will learn that over the next few days – This allows your body to back off form he volume but maintain its neuromuscular connections and familiarity with the weight.

As you can see for my rather basic examples above you can increase the VOLUME of your workout by changing the numbers of sets you perform, you can also change the reps but of the purpose of this example I decided to change the sets as it’s easier to see the progression.

That said, if you did want to keep the sets the same but change the reps you might do the following:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

Week 2 – 5×8 @ 100kg – 8×100 = 800 – 800×5 = 4000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 40reps Total Volume

Are you starting to get the picture now?

Week 3 – 5×10 @ 100kg – 10×100 = 1000 – 1000×5 = 5000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 50reps Total Volume

*Week 4 Deload to 3×10 @ 100kg – 10×1000 = 1000 – 1000×3 = 3000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 30reps Total Volume a reduction of 40% Volume

AS you can see now from the second example the sets can remain the same and the reps can change, provided your Total Weight Volume is increased you will be progressively overloading, thus getting bigger and stronger.

*PROVIDED YOU’RE EATING ENOUGH!

Hopefully now you have a solid understanding of what Volume is and what it actually means.

Tomorrow I shall be covering Intensity.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

Enjoy
Ross

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The Price of Success

We all want something,

Money
Power
Stature
Gains

and much much more.

There is always a price to you will have to pay to achieve success, it might be your free time, possibly your spare cash, maybe your childhood, but no matter the cost it’s still success and you then become the person that people want to be. You become the person who has done what everyone else thought impossible, you have broken a belief that stood in the way and changed the impossible to improbable then the improbable to probable and finally possible.

The difference between those who achieve their goals largely comes down to one thing – Action.

I bet you thought I was going to say, determination or a ‘do or die’ attitude, but no, the real difference between a person who is successful and one who isn’t is simply one took action, one did nothing.

Many dreams will fail not for a lack of passion, determination or any of their kin, it will be down to taking action. Two people might start out with the same goal, face the same problem and even have the same opportunities, but I will be willing to bet my money one the one who takes the most action to be the one to achieve their desired goal.

Action isn’t just taken once. It need to be taken for every step, otherwise you will find only you never finish what you start, IF you even start that is.

I need your help now.

I want to you write down your goal in the comments below in 3-5 words and then on a separate sentence what action you will carry out to get started. Once you have written both of those down I challenge you to action them and achieve your goal.

Let me know when you make it.

Enjoy
Ross

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