Monthly Archives: November 2016

Short & Sweet

Want more progress in less time?
 
There is quite a simple way to achieve this and it doesn’t involve more than 3 sets to achieve, provided you follow the guide lines correctly and obviously get adequate rest, nutrient etc.
 
You ready for this simple yet effective answer that you’ve been looking for?
 
Here are the set/rep recommendations:
 
*After standard warm up and perhaps one main lift for strength purposes. Actually… I will write you a strength part as well to really fire up the nervous system so you get the most bang for your buck.
 
Strength –
 
Ramp to a heavy 2 or 3 and use the following rep scheme once achieved.
 
Ramp to 2RM – follow up with 5×2 at 10% less than top weight
Ramp to 3RM – follow up with 3×3 at 10% less than top weight
 
Hypertrophy –
 
– Set 1: 10 reps – RPE 7
– Set 2: 8 reps – RPE 9
– Set 3: AMRAP – RPE 10 (this weight should be 80-85% of 1RM for that exercise, or a weight you can hit a mimimim of 6-8 reps with, but they would be 6-8 hard reps, you might get an extra couple but the idea is this set is pushed to the limit so that you hit momentary muscular failure to trigger protein synthesis)
 
Pick 4 total exercises per workout: Here is an example
 
– Str – Front Squat (pick a strength ramp range)
– Hyp 1 – Back Squat (use 3 set method described above)
– Hyp 2 – RDL (use 3 set method described above)
– Hyp 3 – Leg Curl (use 3 set method described above)
 
Or
 
– Str – Strict Press
– Hyp – Close grip bench
– Hyp – Barbell row
– Hyp – A-bar row
 
Get the idea?
 
You’ll aim to be in and out of the gym within 45-60min to avoid excessive cortisol spiking.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Deep for a Monday

Remember Who You Are…
Morning Guys,
Are you one of the people that has tried so hard to be an ‘individual’ that you’ve ended up being just like everyone else?
If you open one of your social media apps you will find that there are at least a handful of people on your feed that are talking about how they’ve made changes, achieve results, become a better version of them etc, all in an attempt to be different and change who they were, while ironically ending up just like all the people they used to dislike.
I’m all for people making a change, getting results and gaining self-confidence and self-worth but never at the expense of who they are as a person.
You will find that those who attempt to change their physical look to make themselves feel better mentally often end up feeling worse and unfortunately lose themselves, for lack of a better word to describe it.
These people become obsessed with their new identity and give up everything that made them an individual, that basically made them who they were. Their online image… It’s now who they are and if they were to lose it the false and fluffy reality of Facebook/Instagram Likes and virtual validation would disappear and we just can’t have that happen now, can we.
Take a moment and think back to where you started your journey and where you are now.
How have you changed?
Do you still hold your core values/beliefs/interests or are you now living as the character you created to make yourself happy for that brief moment?
It’s understandable that people mature and grow over the years but there is a difference between that and changing who you are for other people so that you will feel accepted or receive the validation you so seek. Why do you think there are a lot of people who on paper, or rather, on screen seem to have it all and be ecstatically happy yet in real life they are hounded by depression and other such alignments. Just think about that for a second.
If you have a goal I want you to work hard and achieve it, just don’t do it at the expense of losing yourself in the process. Remember that how you look will always be the least interesting thing about you.
Enjoy,
Ross

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Structure Considerations

Ah Wednesday.
 
Half way through the working week, which means you can basically start to relax now an plan the forthcoming weekend because that’s what life’s about. We can also talk about workout structure and where/what your bias should be in programming your training each session.
 
This morning I stumbled across a rather nice piece by Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D. It was a great read on the average, sets, reps, intensity and total training volume of Russian lifters (there was also some reference to the Bulgarians as well), keep in mind this was written about weightlifting and developing max strength but the principles can be carried over to other endeavours as well.
 
How do you currently structure your workouts?
 
Here is the link, it’s well worth reading:
 
 
The short version:
 
– Average training load 75-80% of Comp Max
– Average reps (main lifts) 2-3
– Average sets (main lifts) 60
– Average reps (accessory lifts) 3-6 – Rep Max Correlated
– Average sets (accessory lifts) 15-25
 
There is also talk of protein degradation/synthesis and how training stimuli can effect this and what effect it would have on Strength, Hypertrophy etc.
 
The Short Version:
 
– For optimal Hypertrophy through a nice balance of degradation/synthesis multiple reps (8-10) with a 10-12RM for multiple efforts to fatigue is optimal (adjusting rest time helps to provide optimal fatigue – my own tip would be to repay your efforts until you lose significant speed on the bar, then stop before form goes to pot).
 
You can also get some great info on muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment and HOW you can get the most bang for your buck and which training methods suit this best – Maximal Effort, Repetition Effort, Dynamic Effort.
 
The Short Version:
 
– ME = Best for strength – neurological facilitation (FT muscle fibres nailed)- max weight, low rep, lots of sets
– RE = Best for hypertrophy/strength – MF/MU recruitment optimised through fatigue and repeated effort with a sub-maximal weight, basically nothing is left un-hit.
– DE = Best for power – Sports/skill specific focus, good to add some ploy’s before a heavy lift for extra MU firing/recruitment or after for further exhaustion of potential FT fibres missed in RE.
 
You will find that reading this give a pretty logical view of how you can use all three methods (if you choose) to make a great training session, or even just one if that is your primary focus. Just remember that when you add more of one you need to take away from one of the others, for example: higher intensity = lower volume otherwise you may literally die as you’re slowly crushed by a heavy lift.
 
I tend to use this as a guideline for putting a session together:
 
– Main lift 15-25 reps (5-15 for heavy deadlifts) – 85%+ 1RM
– Accessory lift A 25-50 reps – 5-10 RM based
– Accessory lift B 25-50 reps – 5-10RM based
– Accessory lift C 50 reps – isolation/weak point focus – Focus on feeling the muscle, weight is 10-15RM based typically.
 
Enjoy, 
Ross

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The Science of Lifting, should you really care about what the science says?

Morning Guys,
 
I’m sure many of you are aware that the term ‘evidence based’ coaching has become incredibly popular over the last few years, almost to the point that it’s becoming quite annoying because people won’t break out of their comport one to try something different unless it’s had a study done on it’s validity with several peer reviews. Seriously, I know people who think this way.
 
In the last few years it almost seems that people have become snobs and quick to dismiss those who don’t have a Phd or 100 studies to back up a point. The age of the PubMed warrior has truly arrived.
 
Another note worthy point is some of the strongest, leanest and most muscular men & women never read the science, they learn from others and give what ever they’re doing there all. There are also a lot more of these people than you realise as well.
 
Don’t get me wrong. I very much enjoy reading the literature as to why something works and the fact that there are people willing to prove how/why something works is great, but let us not forget that before al the science was widely available there were plenty of people who made progress without it.
 
How did they do it?
 
Experience, anecdote and best of all; trial & error.
 
Have you ever taken that leap of faith and tried something based on recommendation? Of course you have, but now in the world of lifting people have become paralysed by over analysing things (I am guilty of this).
 
I remember reading a quote from Brooks Kubik that struck a cord with me, it went along the lines of “Simply try it. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing, in which case you can go back to your old routine, but if I’m right and you start getting the best results of your life then it was worth the risk. Wouldn’t you agree?” – I’m sure I’ve mixed in several different quotes there but you get the idea.
 
The one thing I want you to take away from this post is this:
 
The science and proof of things is not to be dismissed but sometimes a little faith can go a long way. There’s no harm in trying something for 3-6months that hasn’t been scientifically proven, you can always go back to what you were doing if it doesn’t work.
Remember you don’t need scientific proof as permission to try a different training method.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Are you training too hard?

Morning Guys,
 
The mentality of a person must train hard to get good results has been a staple of athletes and anyone involved in sports for as long as there has been sport, simply because it was pretty much a fact that those who put in more effort and worked hard usually used to be top of the tree.
 
A fair observation really.
 
Over the years it has been translated or rather interpreted as “Everyone needs to train like an athlete” and there in lies the problem.
 
Do you know why?
 
Not everyone is an athlete, funnily enough.
 
Top level athletes not only have some of the most superior genetics around but they also have a whole team of people to support them ranging from strength coaches, nutrition coaches, Dr’s, specialists and many other experts in their respective fields. Not to mention another simple little fact that goes over peoples heads; IT’S THEIR JOB!
 
An athlete is just that, an athlete. They earn a living by putting themselves through seemingly superhuman feats so that they can shave even 0.05 seconds of a sprint time let’s be honest, Jo Average who works 9-5 won’t ever reach a level where they need to achieve that. All they want is a little less body fat, a little more muscle and to look good naked. It’s time we started telling people what they need to d to achieve that.
 
Here are the three things I’ve found people need:
 
– Consistency
– A Plan
– Support to put in the required effort levels
 
Obviously there is going to be a required level of effort and they will indeed have to ‘work hard’ or ‘train hard’ but remember that the term ‘train hard’ is subjective to each person.
 
Here is what I look for people to achieve:
 
– Getting Stronger (adding weight, sets or reps)
– Improving VO2 Max/CV (faster run time, or more distance covered in the same time)
– Achieving the results they desire – If this happens they’re on track.
 
And a bonus one as well:
 
– Understanding they need to make an effort but enjoying the majority of their journey (20 rep squats are never enjoyable at the time). If they enjoy the journey they will be more consistent which means in the end they will get better results.
 
Don’t beat yourself up for not achieving athletic training peaks, it’s okay, unless you’re an athlete that is. Enjoy your training and give it as much effort as you can, just don’t damage yourself in the process because in the long run that will be a steep price to pay (injury, illness, depression and possibly more).
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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High Rep Squats FTW

***Warning! This post may cost you £££ because you have to buy a new wardrobe after achieving fantastic results***
 
Morning Guys,
 
There is often a lot of discussion about what is better:
 
High Reps, Lower Weight
 
OR
 
Lower Reps, Higher Weight
 
As with everything the typical answer is ‘it depends’. However…
 
When it comes to barbell back squats Higher reps have been shown time and again to be top of the tree for building lean mass, stripping fat, improving VO2 Max (seriously, try 20 reps with 140kg and tell me you’re not blowing out of your ass) and also core strength.
 
I believe it was Dan John who said that in the back squat that anything less than 10 reps is not really worth doing (unless your sport specifically requires the need for less, for example, powerlifting). I must admit I have changed my tune and actually agree with that thought process because for average people who want the typical “Lose fat & build some muscle” goal high rep squats will be crucial.
 
One of the main reasons high rep squats work so well for improving body composition is their sheer demand on the body in terms of energy expenditure, not to mention the amount of TUT (time under tension) they require – remembering that 30seconds is the minimum required to stimulate a hypertrophic response. They will also help increase the amount of anabolic hormones in the body (testosterone, HGH, IGF1 etc), also keeping your rest periods to 60-90seconds max will increase these as well.
 
Now I understand that high reps squats are not for everyone but fear not, there is a squat variation that is ideally suited to lower reps (1-5 tops) and that my friends are the might Front Squat – this is due to the fatigue that sets in through the smaller stabilising muscles of the upper back. These gems are great for building strength and athleticism and I would highly recommend adding them to your workouts.
 
Here is an example of how you might program 3 days per week of squatting for high rep back squat only and also a combination of front/back squat.
 
*The three days per week would be Monday, Wednesday & Friday OR Tuesday, Thursday & Saturday.
 
Option 1 – High Way to Hell
 
Day 1 – Squat 5×10 RPE 8
Day 2 – Squat 1×20 RPE 10 – Solid form, 1-3×10 squat warm up.
Day 3 – Squat 3×15 RPE 8
 
Option 2 – Take the High with the Low
 
Day 1 – Squat 5×10 RPE 8
Day 2 – Front Squat 8×3 RPE 9
Day 3 – Squat 1×20 RPE 10 – Solid form, 1-3×10 squat warm up.
 
As an average weekly target you want to aim for 75-150 squats per week total, with an average intensity of 75% 1RM as that will give you the most optimal results in terms of fat loss and increase in lean muscle. You can split the sets/reps as you see fit just as long as you hit the target, my advice is to start with 75 reps per week first and then start adding 5-10 reps to the total until you hit 150, you can then add some weight to the bar (5-10kg) and fail back to 75 and build up again.
 
Now go, squat, make progress and enjoy.
 
Ross

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One Reason You Can’t Lose Weight!

There are obviously many reasons people can’t shift excess weight, but the main factor is often the fact they consume more calories than they expend (basic energy balance).
 
Now before people start chanting about how they are a unique and special little snowflake you must understand some basic physiology, these two resources will get you started:
 
 
 
No matter how much you’d like to be exempt from this, you’re not and you’re going to have to accept that simple fact of life.
 
There are many people who claim to be in a calorie deficit (eating less than they are expending) and not be able to lose weight (be that fat or unfortunate muscle). This means one of two things:
 
1 – You’re consuming more calories than you think.
 
^^ Most likely.
 
2 – You have suffered muscle atrophy and have been doing less physical activity with no calorie adjustment as a result your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) is lower than what you’re eating each day.
 
^^ Possible, but number 1 is more common.
 
How can you combat this problem?
 
Simple, keep a food diary and track what you eat but be honest. That means including alcohol, sugary drinks, lattes and so on. You’ll find you can easily consume 500 calories extra per day from drinking them unknowingly.
 
In short the mantra to achieve your weightless goals is as follows: “Eat less and move more.”.
 
You’re not above science, if something isn’t happening they way you want it to 9/10 times you’re doing something wrong. All you need to is educate yourself and learn from our mistakes :).
Enjoy,
Ross

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Laced with Excuses

Are you guilty of this?
 
Asking for confirmation of an excuse, rather than an actual answer/solution to your problem.
 
It’s quite a common thing. You will find that people ask questions in the hope that the excuses they lace within their questions will be confirmed/reassured so that they can not do what needs to be done.
 
Might sound harsh, but it’s a sad fact of life.
 
The next time you ask a question LISTEN to the answer.
 
If you’re asking about fat loss, wait until the person you’ve asked actually answers, don’t jump in with some rubbish like “Oh but obviously we are all different and I don’t eat much and can’t lose weight because I work long hours and so on”. No matter how much you’d like to hear it you can’t really get around the first law of thermodynamics, even if you have hormonal issues that predispose you to fat storage the simple fact of Energy Balance is something you can’t ignore (meaning you’re in a positive one – eating too much for YOU).
 
It’s okay if you don’t agree with the answer but at least listen to it first. Don’t lace a question with a pre-determined excuse, ask to learn not to protect your ego.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Improve your deadlift in 5min

Give this post a read, it should take 5min and you will improve your deadlift.

Considering you’re all intelligent people I’m sure you’ve heard to the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC) and the role it plays in movement.

*A nice link for those who want some more science on it: http://www.scienceforsport.com/stretch-shortening-cycle/

*Here is the lay version: think pulling back and elastic band to store potential energy and then releasing it (kinetic energy is the result). “to shorten muscle you must first lengthen it”. Where you are right now do vertical jumps… Good, now do it without first bending your legs in to the starting position (preventing and pre-stretching of the muscles used for the jump)… Doesn’t really work, does it.

I want to talk about its relevance in lifting weights and how you can use it to improve your deadlift (all will become clear, trust me).

If we look at the squat and the bench press, they both have one thing in common that is missing in the deadlift.

Do you know what it is?

…..

A loaded eccentric start to the lift (bar on your back/in your hands), this helps you create tension and the potential energy to overcome the required force on the concentric portion of the lift from being in the hole, where are the deadlift starts on the floor and you’ve got no real help. It’s you VS the bar and unless you’re a well trained lifter who understands how to use the SSC or at least prime your body by creating tension (pre-loading) in the required muscles yo’ll find you can’t even shift the bar from the floor.

I’m sure you’ve seen many great dedadlifters such as Eddie HallEd Coan, Richard ‘The Ant’ Hawthorne, Andy Bolton to name a few, have a certain something about their set up. You know, when they pull against the bar taking the slack out (getting tight), followed by a brief pull down (or 3 in Andy’s case) and then effortlessly hoist it off the floor to victory. This pre-lift routine is their way of firing up the muscles required, creating tension and utilising the SSC to help them generate the force required to overcome the inertia and lift the weight. (This is harder to write down than I anticipated).

Here are some videos, watch for the points mentioned above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRO51Qqt-I8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9Y4o_BqC0A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNvONtw-94g

The reason for this post is a simple one. I see a lot of people fail to do the following in the deadlift:

– Take the slack out of the bar
– Get tight (create massive amounts of tension/pre-load muscles)
– Not utilise the SSC
*Obviously a correct individual set up is required, if you don;t have those hire a coach and get the foundations, then refer back to this.

In Dynamite Deadlift (written by Pavel Tsatsouline & Andy Bolton) they cover a lot of great info and give lot’s of tips. One that Pavel has given throughout the years is to set up to the brain the deadlift and from standing PULL yourself in to your starting position from standing to create more tension (remember tension = force).

Enjoy,

Ross

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Quite Partial

Partial reps can sometimes be the topic of controversy but if done correctly they can help you break plateaus and overcome limiting factors, not to mention have some great crossover to athletic potential.
 
Here is a great article with lots of good science in it:
 
 
The above article covers everything I thought of so there is techicanlly no need to rewrite what has already been well written, instead I am going to give you a list of exercises to consider adding to your training to hep you break plateaus.
 
– Box Squat
– Pin Press (bench or overhead to lock out)
– Press to pins (start at bottom and press in to the pins as hard as you possibly can)
– Box Jumps
– Rack Pulls
– Olympic lifts in hang style start or power style finish
 
With the above exercises you also have various methods that involve partial reps, Im sure everyone has heard of Matrix 21’s, this is usually done on bicep curls. Along with this you could also try complex training for partial reps, here is an example of one:
 
Bulgarian complex training –
 
A complex of 4-5 exercises (similar to a giant set), going from the heaviest one to the lightest one.
 
A1. Back squat on Box: 3-5 repetitions with a load of 85-95% of 1RM Rest 3-4 minutes
A2. Power snatch or power clean: 2-3 repetitions with a load of 85-95% of 1RM Rest 3-4 minutes
A3. Jump squats: 5-10 repetitions with a load of 15-20% of the back squat 1RM Rest 3-4 minutes
A4. Depth jumps 10 repetitions from 0.5m Rest 3-4 minutes
A5. Vertical jumps: AMRAP in 15 seconds Rest 3-4 minutes
 
 
Now go add some partial reps to your workout and break those plateaus.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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