Monthly Archives: May 2016

3 Simple Tips to Bench More

The bench press is the gym bro’s favourite exercise by a long long way and today I will give three simple tips to help improve those numbers so that when someone asks “How much do ya bench?” you can answer with an impressive amount.

Tip 1 – Let The Weight Settle.

People are in too much of a rush to power out their reps they don’t even notice that they are not settled on the bench properly. When I say about ‘Letting the weight settle’ it means un-racking the bar and holding it for a few seconds to allow your body to stabilise, along wth and compression in the bench foam to happen so that you’re nice and balanced (This goes for the squat, overhead press, jerk and other such movements too).

The next time you bench take out the weight and let it settle while making sure you have a solid set up (feel flat, ass on the bench, shoulders on the bench, wrists straight, the bar in the correct place in your hands etc), I can guarantee that you will find the exercises much easier, you will also be able to get tight too, which nicely brings us on to our next tip.

    Tip 2 – Getting Tight.

Getting tight is something you will hear all good lifters talk about because it’s incredibly important. When you brace correctly by breathing in to your belly (diaphragm) and actively squeeze the bar as hard as possible while contracting your back and lats hard you recruit more total muscle, this means more power and also more stability, both of which you need to bench a lot of weight.

Practice this with just the bar, dare I say it you want to get to the point of discomfort with how tense your body is because that means you’re along the right path. DOn’t forget to stay tight throughout the entire bench press movement, especially the pause at the bottom – this is required in a comp which leads to my next tip.

    Tip 3 – Pause Every First Rep

Pause reps have had their merits sung plenty of times and doing a set of entirely composed of pause reps is great for strength but it can limit the amount of volume you can achieve, this is simply due to the weight reduction you would need to have a meaningful set of pause reps. If you pause the first rep of every set of bench presses (or presses in general, then finish the rest as touch and go), you will get the benefit of control, strength, volume and patience because it will take out the need to rush, which will be very helpful if you compete in Powerlifting as you don’t want to get a red light for pressing before the command.

There you have it. 3 tips to help you improve your bench press numbers.

Bonus Tip – All The Pressing 

A great way to train is by hitting all your pressing movements in the same session, starting with OHP, followed by Incline Press, then Bench Press and finally Dips (you can use push press in this is you wish too). By training this way you will build a strong upper body and hammer in lots of volume on your pressing ability. Use a ramping style rep/loading system for this, meaning if you start on 5 reps for OHP you stay at 5 and add a little bit of weight until you can’t hit 5, then go to incline starting on the weight you failed on in the OHP and repeat, then bench and so on, the dips can be weighted or not depending on if you want volume not hem or not. Doing this twice per week is more than enough to start with.

Enjoy, Ross

 

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Simply Does It.

Morning Guys,

I am often asked about the best ways to progress and what set/rep schemes to use and because of this I have come up with these simple points to share with you today (they’re nothing new).

– Add weight where possible
– If weight can be added, add reps
– If reps can’t be added, add sets
– If neither weight or reps can be added, decrease rest time
– If rest time can’t go lower, add another day of that movement
– If none of the above can be done, change the exercise variation and start from step one. 

    It’s essentially that simple. Forgo the complicated loading systems and schemes for as long as possible and simply focus on adding more total volume or increasing work capacity in any way you can, for as long as you can.

Enjoy, Ross.

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You’re Not Alone

Body Confidence Issues…

Have you or are you plagued by them?

These issues are becoming more and more common, or at least more openly spoken about because they’re more accepted in our modern times.

    It can be hard to accept that we are not the people we once were and as a result we need to let go of certain demons that we have held onto so that we can move forwards to a better place.

Nutrition often plays a large part when it comes to body confidence issues, usually because people have come from a place (being overweight for example) and stripped out lots of foods and perhaps lost a large amount of weight in what is a less than optimal way. These people then become enamoured with fear because they don’t want to go backwards, thus developing a negative association with food. Not to mention they still seem themselves as they always did or they still have the negative words from people floating around (bullying is often common), the can’t shake the image of what they were, even if they are now what they desired to be initially.

When it comes to a negative self image we are sorry to say that there is no magic pill that we can offer. You have to find it in yourself to let go of the negative thoughts and learn to be happy for what you have achieved, even if people who once told you you weight too much and to lose weight are now saying your too thin and to gain weight, just ignore them. You must love you for who you are and be happy for yourself. Stop letting the influence of others (positive or negative) have so much hold over you, accept the positive, dismiss the negative to jealousy and never forget that how you look, what you do or what others think do not define you as a person. Be proud of your achievements.

Mental health and how it is affected is not spoken about enough in the realms of fitness, or that’s how many feel anyway. Fitness is like a pendulum, it starts one end and swings right tot he other, it’s different for everyone but just remember that it will level out eventually. This post is not to ‘cure’ this problem because it will be done differently for each individual, it’s simply want to make you aware that you’re not alone because lots of people feel the same and we understand you. The next time you feel alone, just remember you’re not and if needed you can always find someone to share your burden and listen, like me, I’m just like you :).

Stop trying to please everyone else, be selfish and be happy for you. Im the words of Ralph:

“I’m bad, and that’s good. I will never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I’d rather be then me.”

Enjoy, Ross.

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Get More Done.

Morning Guys,

When it comes to building muscle I have noticed that there is a distinct difference between those who do and those who don’t.

The difference?

    Work Capacity (not to mention general hard work), or for those who haven’t heard that before – How much you’re doing in a given amount of time by manipulating rest periods (this helps increase various anabolic hormones such as GH, IGF1 to name some).

One of the best ways to manipulate your work capacity if by dropping the rest in-between each set from say 60 seconds to 45 seconds, reducing the land lifted to continue to perform strict reps with maximal contraction or by the application of drop sets.

Here is an example:

– Ramp to 8RM
– Rest 60 Seconds, Reduce weight by up to7%
– Perform 8 Strict Reps
– 30 Seconds Rest
– Repeat Until From/Speed Slows or Loss of a Rep
– Reduce weight up to 7% & Continue Until Fully Fatigued

Pretty simple right?

This was a favourite of people such as Boyer Coe, Vince Gironda and others of their eras. Try it yourself, simply pick 3 exercises per muscle group, pre workout (Compound, Accessory, Isolation) and work hard.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Proactive or Reactive?

    Are you Reactive or Proactive?
 
    When it comes to training people tend to be Reactive I’m sorry to say. It often takes years of a caloric surplus, gentle comments about said persons appearance and the eventual straw that breaks the camels back which comes in the form of a look & comment they receive after they’ve bumped in to a face from the past, it goes something like this:
 
*Eyes Widen… “Oh Hey. How are you? You’re looking… Well.”
 
    If you ever get to witness one of these encounters you will be able to hear the snap as they suffer deep realisation that perhaps they’ve put on a few lbs. This then leads them to rush to the gym, train 2 hours per day, 6 days per week and eat tuna salad 3 times per day because that’s obviously how we lose weight. Not to mention develop a negative psychological connotation with fitness, nutrition and our own identity.
 
    After the initial knee jerk reaction people will find a balance in the end. However, it is a well known fact that prevention is better than cure, thus proaction is better than reaction. Take a look at not only your life but that of those around you and assess what is happening and why with an objective view point, by doing this you will be able to make a comparison to your own life and what place you’re currently in, along with what path you may potentially end up taking.
 
    Acting in a proactive fashion will not only benefit your health but also your mental wellbeing as well. Apply this thought process to fitness, nutrition, mental health and life and you’ll save yourself a lot of hassle down the road.
    Enjoy.

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“The Problem is Choice.”

Morning Guys,
 
“The problem is choice.”
 
A quote that was burned in to my head when it was the cornerstone point of the Matrix films.
 
We all have a choice. Some choices will be for ego/pride, others for sacrifice and some will be for the greater good. What often happens is people make a choice and regret it when in reality they shouldn’t because they made that choice, meaning that somewhere deep down that’s what they wanted.
 
While it is true that occasionally we can get persuaded in to choices we don’t really want to make (or so we think) there final decision always lies with you. No one can really force you to do anything that you don’t want to. Not really.
 
The human body have developed a system to warn us if a choice is a bad one, it’s called gut feeling and many choose to ignore it. We have all had that feeling, you know, the unsettling one where everything internally is screaming NO!!!! That’s gut feeling and to ignore it is a foolish die because it means 2 things:
 
1 – Danger
2 – You don’t really want this.
 
People will say they don’t have a choice, the reality of that is a weak logic for them to choose the comfort of the pain they already know. This is often accompanied with that ‘feeling’ that means you should be making a rather different choice, but we will do what we will do and in the end we are the architects of our own destiny as it were. You make the choice, you need to understand why you made it, was it comfort, pride, fear or something else?
 
The next time you are faced with a choice why not flip a coin because in those moments it’s turning i the air before it strikes the ground you will know what side you want it to land on. To once again quote the Matrix “You didn’t come here to make the choice already made the choice, you’re here to understand why you made it.”.
Enjoy,
Ross

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A Program That Fits You

Over the years I have read in to various training principles and looked over hundreds of articles (both scientific and anecdotal), not to mention attend seminars with some great coaches/trainers and in all this time I have learnt a lot, but these three things seem to stick in my mind the most.

  1. Training Body Parts Every 3-5 Days Seems Optimal
  2. Constantly Vary Loads to Achieve Overload & Manage Fatigue (Heavy, Light, Medium Days)
  3. Compound Movements FTW (some isolation chucked in for good measure, usually 1)

Another common thought is that keeping training as simple as possible, you know, removing all the unnecessary faff will help improve progress because you won’t be wasting time/energy on too much mirror work. While some is good, unless you’re goal is primarily aesthetics that is.

In the quest to find a program that allowed a steady gain in strength, size and also aesthetics (to a degree because we all want to look good naked) this program was accidentally born. It’s nothing new by any means and is best described as a combination of what elements have worked over they years. It will help you by allowing the following:

  • Rotating Workout Days
  • Rotating Intensities/Loading
  • Simplicity

The parameters are simple, you have a 3 day workout schedule – Pull/Push/Legs – Thus covering the whole body, however… In the essence of keeping things simple you will only be using 3 movements per workout. Yep, just three, this means you will need to pick the most effective exercises that will adhere to your goal and avoid the temptation to add in more. I have gone for the following structure – Main Lift, Compound Accessory Lift, Isolation Lift.

For example your workout could look like this:

A1 – Deadlift

B1 – Weighted Chin Up

C1 – Close Grip Row

*When it comes to rep targets for the main lift you may use the following guidelines:

  • Heavy – Ramp to 2RM
  • Medium – 85% of Ramp @ 15-25 reps
  • Light – 75% of Ramp @ 25-50Reps
  • Accessory Work is 25-50 reps per movement –  Goal Dependent Adjust Accordingly

*The idea is to incorporate max effort , speed and repetition days.

How does it all work?

The essence of this program is to offer a nice simple rotation of days so you don’t get too bored, meaning that you workout for 3 consecutive days then take one rest day (3 on 1 off), you also change the loading each day for your main lift giving you a 12 day cycle before repeating. This gives you either a Heavy, Light or Medium workout which changes the next time around and the loading will be based on how you’re currently performing, not your all time best.

  • The 2RM Ramp helps you stimulate the nervous system and fire up the deeper Motor Units (MU) and improves your ability to handle heavy loads along with setting your training weights for the next 2 mini cycles before the next heavy ramp.
  • The 75% loading helps get that much needed volume to elicit overload.
  • The 85% further adds to the volume while also tapping in to the deeper MU’s to stimulate adaptation.

Some may call this power building in it’s structure, however you fill find that you develop the three key factors for enhancing your performance in sports while also achieving a desirable look because everyone wants to look good naked.

Here is a table to help that make more sense of how the main lifts are programmed.

 

These would be for all your exercises, so using the example above, you’d get a workout that looks like this:

Day 1 – Heavy Pull

A1 – Deficit Deadlift Ramp x2 – 200kg achieved

B1 – Weighted Chin Up 5×5

C1 – Reverse Fly 5×10

Day 5 – Light Pull

A1 – Deficit Deadlift 5×5 @ 150kg

B1 – Bent Over Row 6×8

C1 – Barbell Curl 4×12

Day 9 – Medium Pull

A1 – Deficit Deadlift 5×3 @ 170kg

B1 – Weighted Pull Up 8×6

C1 – Face Pull 3×15

There are a plethora of exercises and exercise variants your can use in this program concept, the same goes for the rep ranges which is why there are none that are set in stone, rather there are rep targets to achieve. If strength is your bias you can stick with 5’s and below, if it’s size then 6-8 is good on main lifts, the program is designed to fit you, not the other way around.

You could even take out the reps written for the assistance exercises and instead go for sets of max reps to make life even easier (just make sure you track what reps you’re achieving).

The max effort sets for your accessory work would look like this depending on the day:

  • Heavy – 5x Max Reps
  • Medium – 4x Max Reps
  • Light – 3x Max Reps

Take what is written above and make it fit you according to the guidelines given.

Enjoy,

Ross

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