Monthly Archives: September 2016

The One Reason You Don’t Progress…

While there are many many reasons people fail to progress, there is one common reason that trumps all the others.

Can you guess what it is?

…..

Specificity.

Yep. People are not specific enough with not only their training, nutrition or attitude but also their goal. Often the goals themselves will be vague and while it’s not an entire recipe for failure, it’s not far off.

The principle of *specificity is the base of the the pyramid, without it it’s like trying to bowl with the curtains down – you might succeed but you have no real idea what your doing, what results you’re getting or what’s going on.

*Check out ‘The Scientific Principles of Strength Training’ by JTS for more info on this. https://store.jtsstrength.com/products/scientific-principles-of-strength-training

When you have specificity in your goal your training will become more focused, your nutrition will become more focused and so will your attitude/adherence. Take some time to look at your goal and ask yourself if it is specific or general. If it’s the latter it’s time to write out some new goals, the use of SMART can be good for these.

Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time Bound. Answer each point in detail and you’ll be on your way to making more progress than before, but if this is not your strong point then hire a coach.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Crafty Calories

When it comes to losing excess fat there are some calories that find their way in to your diet without you even being aware, crafty little devils.
 
Here is a list of 3 of the most common was calories creep in to your diet unknowingly and sabotage your results.
 
– Coffee Drinks (lattes, mocha style drinks, they all have hidden calories, even the ‘skinny’ versions)
– Healthy Snack Bars (yep, often around 200+ calories a piece and often easy to eat the entire pack in one sitting)
– Smoothies (Store bought are around 300+ calories per bottle and home made ones occasionally higher)
 
Bonus:
– Protein Shakes/Supplements (while good post workout they do have the double edged blade of high calories)
– Nuts (a bag can easily have you conquer 500 calories in record time)
 
The only way to ensure a negative energy balance is to track your nutrition, exercise and daily activity. Your results will be easy to see by taking a look in the mirror.
 
Getting Leaner = Caloric Deficit
Getting Softer = Caloric Surplus
 
Simple.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Two Day Triumph

This post is for those who have little to no time to train. Let’s say life has gotten in the way, you’ve got a promotion at work, a new bouncing baby or just no motivation to do more than 2 days per week training. All are viable reasons to use this method I will give you today. It’s not gospel, it’s simply a guide and you can mould it to fit your specific needs.

Here are the workouts:

Day 1 –

– Squat
– Press (Overhead or Dip)
– Chin Up or Row

Day 2 –

– Deadlift (trap bar ideally)
– Press (Overhead or Dip)
– Chin Up or Row

– Hypertrophy: 50 to 100 reps per lift (half this for deadlift 25-50).
– Strength: 25-50 reps per lift (DL = 15-25).
– Endurance/Fat Loss: Timed sets of 15min per lift of AMRAP.

*Rep Goals = Goal Dependant, rep ranges for Hyp are best in the 8-12, str the 2-6 and end are just as many as possible with good form in repeated bout efforts. You can also play with tempo, rest periods and a whole host of other variables so find what works and run with it. Add weight where you can, if you can’t add weight add reps, if that’s not possible add sets, hit the rep goal however possible and remember that the key to progression is progression.

You obviously have other options but these are some example that are tried and tested. The reason you have only three move per workout is because they will hit all the major muscles, the limited moves will also force you to maximise the reps and up your effort levels. Boring but brutally effective.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Two Tips to Fix Form

 

Correcting form can be tricky at the best of times with a good coach at your side. This becomes even harder when you train alone, but fear not, I will share with you two quick tips to help you improve your own form and iron out any kinks.

Be truthful in your critique of yourself, trust me, it will be a to your advantage to let your ego take a nock on this occasion.

1 – Video Feedback

It’s fair to imagine hat most people have some form of camera or recording device on their phone, meaning that there is always an opportunity to check form and improve.

Heres how to do it yourself –

– Record your lift
– Upload it to your computer
– Go to the interweb and load up YouTube
– Find a high level athlete of similar build/stature to put yours again
– Compare & make notes, assess what YOU can do to improve
– Take heed of your notes and go practice

2 – Slow Down

The use of cadence in lifting is a great way to hone your skill/form. Try doing a 6-1-6-1 tempo (eccentric, pause, concentric, pause) for around 6 reps, start off with say a load of 60% 1RM, if you don’t know yours then work to an RPE of 6/7.

The slower form will force you to adhere together form to keep not only control but also balance. You can also use this technique to really focus on contracting/squeezing the muscles you’re using for maximal pump/MU recruitment.

Form is paramount in not only lifting big weights but also longevity in lifting, never sacrifice it in the gym. Ego is something that needs to be left outside the gym.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Fast Track Fat Loss

There is a common question that arises on what is better for fat loss out of these two styles of cardio training (weight training for fat loss of another topic for a different day):
 
– Steady State
– Sprinting (interval style training)
 
Now while they both work the physiological response your body will exhibit can be dramatically different. This is simply due to the different energy systems/pathways that will be used and how the body adapt to each stimulus.
 
Steady state cardio, also know as Continuous Training or Low Intensity Steady State (LISS) is great for beginners and those who are looking to maintain some level of heart health. The typical or main energy system used for this style of training is the aerobic system which leans towards the use of fat for its primary fuel during the activity.
 
Wait… It uses burns fat for its fuel? That’s what we want right?
 
Yes, however there lasting effect of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) is very low and you will not continue to burn many calories after your workout, so if you burn 300 calories running for an hour you might burn an extra 50 (for example) after that due to EPOC, but that’s about it. This means you will need to keep up your daily running to burn X-amount of calories, you will also not gain much in the way of benefit to your VO2 Max (how much oxygen your body can use from it’s blood). You will also not get much int he way of muscular adaptation in the way of force production and lean muscle tissue gain, in fact you may even lose muscle mass and this is bad because muscle is what keep your metabolism high and you don’t want to lose any of it.
 
So while steady state cardio is good if you have the time and mental fortitude to do it (low intensity cardio for hours can be incredibly dull) you will get results from it, provided you’re in a caloric deficit that is.
 
This leads us on to Sprinting.
 
Sprinting is a different beast, apart from your effort levels being higher and you achieving a higher % of your heart rate reserve (HRR), your body is also required to produce more force in the form of muscular contraction which will lead to potential hypertrophic gains to the areas required for effort (think full body for something like rowing or swimming and how muscular they are).
 
The other added benefits of this style of training is linked in to the metabolic pathway/energy system used (ATP/PC/LA) which cause a massive surge in anabolic hormones which not only help muscular adaptation but force your body to increase its VO2 Max because of the sever lack of oxygen, meaning the oxygen dept you create in the workout will have a profound effect in increasing EPOC. You will often find that a sprint/interval session can lead to you burning say 200-330 calories in a session, much the same as steady state but due to EPOC/Oxygen debt created you will more than likely continue to burn a number of extra calories for around 24hours (possibly more) afterwards. How many you will burn will depend on your amount of lean muscle mass and the size of oxygen debt created.
 
The obvious downside of training this way at this intensity is the cumulative fatigue you will amass and if not managed correctly you will end up injured and going backwards. Effective as it is, there is always a price to pay if you do too much.
 
In conclusion to the age old question of which is better for fat loss there is a clear winner in my opinion, that winner is sprinting/interval training. However you need to program it correctly and what you’d find is that combining the two will give you the best result (specificity is the key to everything).
 
Here is an example of how you might combine the two to help you hit the ACSM guidelines of 150min CV per week (250-300 is considered better).
 
Total time includes warm up/mobility and warm down. As for HR targets you can get technical or use RPE, the choice is yours.*
 
Monday – 45min – Hill Sprinting – 1-2 ratio work/rest – 10 sprints 1min each, 90%+ HRR or RPE 9+.
Tuesday – 60min Swimming – 45min of solid swimming at 70%+ HRR or RPE 7+
 
Wednesday – Off – Foam roll and a gentle 30min walk
 
Thursday – 45min – Straight Sprinting – 1-1 work to rest ratio – 15 sprints 1min each 85%+ HRR or RPE 8.5+.
 
Friday – 60min – Rowing – 45min solid rowing at 70%+ HRR or RPE 7+
 
Saturday – Off – Foam roll and a gentle 30min walk
 
Sunday – Off – Foam roll and a gentle 30min walk
 
As you can see this is a simple structure for guide, it’s not gospel, just an option.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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3 Tips to better technique.

Having solid technique is not only essential for safety but also if you want to shift big weights.
 
Solid form will mean you achieve more lifts and break more PR’s. This not only improves confidence but gains as well.
 
Here are three tips to help you improve your form:
 
1 – Sets of Singles
 
Let’s say you have a rep goal of 25 which you usually break in to 5×5, 6×4, 8×3 or any other rep scheme. Instead of doing your normal sets/reps you will simply perform 25 singles, meaning you have to put the bar back in the rack (or to the floor) and set up each and every rep. This will help you get used to nailing that first rep every time and greatly improve your form.
 
2 – 6-6-6
 
The devils scheme as some call it. You pick a weight that is RPE 6 and do 6 sets of 6 reps with a 6-0-6-0 tempo. This reduced tempo will force you to control your form each rep and improve your ability to maintain total body tension throughout your lifts.
 
3 – Video Records
 
An obvious one but something people still don’t do enough of. WE all have phones that can record short videos and this will give you the perfect opportunity to take a look at your form, after all, the camera doesn’t lie. You can use the feedback to tweak your technique as needed if you see any.
 
Use those three tips and you’ll find suddenly you start breaking plateaus and having less injuries.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Warm Up That Works Wonders

How do you currently warm up?

I was warming up for squats today and noticed some lads doing the same for bench (it is international chest day after all).

The warm up they did was not terrible by any means, it contained stretching, some dynamic work and some reps with the bar/60kg, however the form was loose and the tempo was inconsistent, by the time they got to their working sets the form had changed yet again. I had a brief chat and offered some tips to help tighten said form but the words became lost on the winds.

If you take a look at any videos of high level lifters you will find their warm up sets look almost identical to their working sets. They lift the light weights like they’re heavy and this crosses over to them lifting heavy weights like they are light.

Personally I try not to waste any reps and use every one as a chance to groove solid form and get feedback on how my body is feeling, do you do the same?

There are lots of way to warm up which become more or less relevant depending on your goal, however to help groove your form try warming up with the lift you want to work for that day. Doing around 8 sets of 2-3 reps (perhaps one set of 10 with the bar to dust off the cobwebs) of your desired exercise, you add weight to take it close to or even over your working sets for the day, this will set you up for a good session, both physically and neurologically.

It might look like this:

SQ – Bar x10, 60kg x5, 80kg x5, 100kg x3, 120kg x2, 140kg x2, 155kg x1, 165kg x1, 170kg x1, 5x5x150kg

Here is a nice little article with some good references if you want to look in to this further:

http://main.poliquingroup.com/…/Warm-Up_Tips_To_Get_Stronge…

Moral of the story; your warm ups should be the same as your working sets.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Easy as 123

Fat Loss is as Easy a 1-2-3.

A nice simply fat loss check list to familiarise yourself with.

Step 1 – Eat less that you burn (you can track this however you deem fit. Macros, Portion Control etc.

Step 2 – Opt for mostly whole foods. You will find you are more satiated eating whole foods and if you have a couple of cookbooks you can make some great meals.

Step 3 – Move more. Be this in the form of lifting weights, walking, running, cycling, gym classes, so long as you enjoy what you’re doing and get results from it then you’re on the right track.

 

Enjoy, Ross

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3 Ways to Train Using RPE

Morning Guys,

I’ve written bout RPE before, however I was asked by a member of a gym I visit for some training ideas on this style so I thought I would share them here for all to potentially use. Below will be some useful likes to learn more about RPE.

RPE Refresher:

Rate of Perceived Exertion is a scale of measuring intensity, with it you can program the load for your workout based on how you’re performing on the day, this allows for natural back off’s and peaks according to your bodies own biofeedback.

Be it a 1RM or a 10RM, this guide applies to all (Str = Strength Focus, HYP = Hypertrophy Focus) –

10: Maximum effort. No reps left in the tank. – STR
9: Last rep is tough, but could have done one more rep. – STR
8: weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed, but is not a struggle. 2-4 reps left. – HYP
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied. “Speed Weight”. – HYP
6: Light speed work. Bar speed was fast with only moderate effort
5: Most Warm Up Weights
4: Recovery. Usually 20+ reps sets. Not hard, but intended to flush the muscle.

Now for the methods which will all be based off of achieving a daily max with a 9 RPE (use can use RPE 10,8,7 or what ever you need, this is merely a few example of how to use this method):

1 – Daily Max to 9RPE

Pick an exercise and work up to your desired RPE for your chosen Rep Max, once you hit both you call it a day and move on to your accessory work.

2 – Daily Max to 9RPE with Back Off Set Repeats

Let’s say it’s a squat day. You go in and decide on working up to a 5RM at RPE 9 (one rep left in the bag), once you hit that number you make a note of the weight used and drop the weight, from here you stick on this weight and do 5’s until that weight feels like an RPE 9. A great way of working strength while also getting in volume. Simple.

*How much you drop is up to you, the larger the drop the more fatigue/mechanical stress you will accumulate.

3 – Daily Max to 9RPE with Weight Drop & Reloads

As with the example above you work up to a Rep Max, it can be any of your choosing or programmed in using a DUP (daily undulating periodisation method – I will write about this at the end). Work up to your desired RM, say 3 for RPE 9. From here you reduce the weight and then start reloading the bar and try to hit the same weight for the same RPE again, if you did this correctly you might be abel to repeat this process 2-3 times, depending on how much weight you reduce, if/when you don’t make the top weight then that’s when you call it a day.

If you decide to use a DUP method for the RM’s you might have something that looks like this:

Day 1 – 3RM – RPE 9
Day 2 – 7RM – RPE 9
Day 3 – 5RM – RPE 9

You could also have the same RM but different RPE’s:

Day 1 – 5RM – RPE 10
Day 2 – 5RM – RPE 6
Day 3 – 5RM – RPE 8

The options are almost endless. All you have to do is look at try the examples above to start to find your flow, once that is done you will be abel to adapt the method to your own needs.

Enjoy,
Ross

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3827571/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22450253
https://www.elitefts.com/…/…/rate-of-perceived-exertion-rpe/
http://www.reactivetrainingsystems.com/Home/Main

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More Energy in 2 Easy Tips

Typically when people feel lethargic they will jack up on things such as coffee, red bull or other forms or energy drink/supplement, however we will give you two tips that will not only perk you up but also reduce your need for the standard crutches.
 
It’s also worth remembering that energy drinks especially can contain a massive amount of excess calories that you and your waistline don’t need in your life.
 
1 – Drink More Water, adding in a dissolvable multivitamin is a good idea as well. Some ice cold water will also perk you up as well.
 
2 – Take 10second Breaths – in/out – remember to breath right tint o the depths of your diaphragm. This will help wake you up and also energise you in a surprising way, try it and be amazed.
 
Bouns – Eat less high sugar/low fibre foods. The typical high sugar snack for a quick perk of energy will leave you crashing with in the hour and seeking out more snack of the same kin, which also means more excess calories you don’t need.

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