Monthly Archives: January 2017

Weak Links

Three things you need for successful lifting & breaking plateaus.
 
– Stability
– Mobility
– Strength – A & B
 
Why is stability about mobility?
 
Simply because if you’re not stable your body will naturally inhibit the ROM you can achieve because it is unable to fire its neural pathways in the required sequence.
 
Mobility is before strength due to the fact that to lift heavy things pain free and reduce injury you need good/optimal mobility.
 
If you ensure you have stability/mobility then your strength will progress. When you start to find yourself stalling take a look at the first two because the chances that one of them is now being compromised to try and accommodate a heavier load is high, meaning you might need to sort them first.
 
What is meant by Strength A & Strength B?
 
A – Overall strength to perform the movement while keeping optimal/correct form/alignments.
 
B – You have a weak link in your muscular/kinetic chain that needs individual/specific focus (such as spinal erectors in the front squat, triceps in the over head press, etc).
 
Take a look at all of your lifts, if they stall go back and from upwards from stability until you find the weak link. If you do this you will find you break lifting plateaus and also better understand your own body.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Wicked Warm Ups

2 Ways to warm up for optimal performance.
 
You are all well educated people, I am sure you have a good warm up in place, however is it the most optimal one for getting the most out of each session?
 
Today you will learn two methods that will allow you to get everything you can out of each weight lifting session. One is a started and the other is on going, enjoy.
 
*Start off with a typical 5min mobility/pulse raiser.
 
1 – The Over Warm-Up Method 
 
Simple, effective and it also helps you improve your movement patters.
 
Here is how it looks, based on working sets of say 100kgx6
 
Set 1 – Bar x5-10 (to dust off the cobwebs)
Set 2 – 40kg x5
Set 3 – 60kg x2-3
Set 4 – 80kg x2-3
Set 5 – 90kg x2
Set 6 – 100kg x2
Set 7 – 110kg x2
Set 8 – 120kg x1
Set 9 – 125kg x1
 
You can go higher if required, but typically you will use 8-10 sets to warm up starting off with a couple of 5’s to get the juices flowing, then 2-3’s for movement pattern grooving and finally singles for neurological facilitation so that your working weight feel like a feather, for the first few sets anyway.
 
The neurological activation lasts for around 5-10min directly after the last warm up set and then will continue to have a positive effect in the subsequent sets so you have plenty of benefit. You might even be able to get more reps than you have planned with this method because of the extra neural activation you get warming up this way.
 
 
2 – Neural Charge
 
As with the first method this plays to activate your nervous system so that you will be firing the most amount of muscle fibres possible right from the get go, rather than the standard way of making your body recruit more over time through mechanical fatigue – which there is nothing wrong with, however why not get everything going asap, eh? 🙂
 
Due to its unique explosive loading methods in pre-activation movements before the main lifts, Neural Charge Training impacts all levels of neuromuscular function, such as neurotransmitter uptake, excitation-contraction coupling, and motor-unit recruitment. This happens due to the fact you are using a POWER based exercise first, for example: Box Jump before Squatting or Bound Jumps before Deadlifts.
 
When you perform an explosive power based movement you force the body to recruit the deeper type two muscle fibres, then you rest 3-5min tops (you won’t lose the NC effect, as explained above with the over warm up method, it lasts around 5-10min tops). When you get under the bar you will find the focus on generating as much speed as possible in the concentric portion of the lift is greatly accentuated.
 
 
The increased MU Recruitment will allow more weight to be lifted, just be very carful not to use too much volume. You will do this before each lift, you will do well to limit sets/reps to 3-5 for each. A workout may look like this:
 
*Neural Charge – NC. RM – Repetition Max
 
NC – Overhead Vertical Med Ball Press – Aim for max heigh each throw 3-5 reps – rest 3-5min.
A1 – Overhead Press 3-5×3-5xRequired RM loading – Rest 3min
 
Or
 
NC – Squat Jump 30% 1RM, quarter or full squat, land in athletic position (quarter squat for visual reference) – rest 3-5min
A1 – Squat 3-5×3-5xRequired RM loading – Rest 3min
 
^^ It is worth limiting the amount of exercises per workout with this method to 1-3 as it will become very demanding on the nervous system. Remember this is a performance technique, not a fatigue one.
 
Try each and see what works best for you.
 
Be warned, you may break through plateaus with these methods. They are not to be sued if you enjoy being in the comfort zone.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Low Reps for Muscles?

Can you build muscle on low reps, say 1-3?
 
^^ A question that a lot of people would like to hear a resounding YES for, however while the answer is indeed a yes, it’s not as easy as you may think, let’s look at why.
 
Strength, skill & speed, that’s what most low rep training is for.
 
Typically lower reps are also used for building limit strength and neurological facilitation/connection, this is due to the often high % of relative 1RM meaning that the excessive amounts of volume required to achieve hypertrophy would cripple a mere mortal.
 
Lower reps are also very good at grooving a movement or practicing a skill as you will be forced to reset and perform more first reps, while also amassing less mechanical fatigue.
 
Keeping this in mind, how could you use lower reps to help you build muscle then?
 
There are several ways but these are some of the easiest to apply:
 
– Target Sets
– Super Sets with a ladder format or single rep choice
– Cluster Sets
 
All three can be ran for 3-6 weeks. Here is how they are applied.
 
Target Sets –
 
These are similar in nature to a rest-pause style of training where you will do say 3 reps and then rest briefly to get your oomph back before doing another three and another until you’ve hit your target amount of reps, say 25-50 with 75%+ of your max.
 
Super Sets w/Ladder Format
 
You have an A1/A2 pairing, do 1 rep of each, then two, then three, then back to one and repeat until you can no longer get to three reps.
 
OR
 
You have an A1/A2 pairing, then do 1 rep and keep alternating the exercise until you’ve hit your rep target. This also works well with 2 or 3 reps.
 
Cluster Sets –
 
Let’s say you’re working for a set of 12 reps on a single exercise, you do three then rest 15 seconds, repeat 4 times, the rest before your next set. That’s the format.
 
If you were looking to program a cycle of this training your workouts might look like this:
 
Weeks 1-6 – Target Sets 70-80% 1RM loading
 
A1 – Main Lift 3-8×1 working towards a heavy daily single
B1 – Main Lift at % for 50 rep total as fast as possible
C1 – Accessory movement, your choice of reps
 
Weeks 7-12 – Super Sets 75-85% 1RM loading
 
A1 – Main Lift 3-8×1 working towards a heavy daily single
B1 – Main Lift at % totalling 25-50 reps
B2 – Antagonist exercise to main lift
C1 – Accessory movement, your choice of reps
 
Weeks 13-18 – Cluster Sets 80-90% 1RM loading
 
A1 – Main Lift 3-8×1 working towards a heavy daily single
B1 – Main Lift at % for 3-5 Cluster Sets totalling 25-50 reps
C1 – Accessory movement, your choice of reps
 
This is only a guideline of how you might apply the above methods, there are plenty more you can use. The defining factor to building muscle will always be total volume, to achieve that using low reps you will need to up your workout density (keeping rest to a minimum) and get as many quality reps as you can with ideally 80%+, however that will take time to build up to.
In short, while you can build muscle with low reps it takes a lot more planning, the best rep ranges for hypertrophy has to be 6-12 for 2-6 sets typically, however lower reps are far more fun :).
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Can you train everyday?

The short answer to the question of training everyday is, yes.

You can train everyday so long as it adheres to the following:

  • Daily lifting corresponds with your long/short term goals
  • Training is programmed correctly (intensity, total volume, workout density)
  • It doesn’t exceed your MRV – Maximum Recoverable Volume
  • Deloads/Easy days are planned in
  • There is logical progression
  • Session do not exceed 1 hour
  • You enjoy it – Arguably the most important

There is a good book covering the the recently popular ‘Squat Everyday’ that was based on the Bulgarian Style of training, however it is wroth noting that these and typically other athletes who train daily are weightlifters. This is because weightlifting requires a high degree of skill and while the sets will be high the reps will fall in the range of 1-3 for main lifts and 4-7 for accessory lifts.

When it comes to training daily you need to vary the loading parameters, this can be done from working off a daily  1 rep max then performing back a off set(s) for your volume needs – for example, going to a heavy single then taking 60-70% of that number and doing 1 back off set of 20 reps. You could simply work up to a daily Rep Max say 5,3,2 and cycling these for each lift so some days you have a 5rm squat, 3rm bench and 2rm DL, then the next time it would  be a 3rm squat and so on.

This isn’t gospel, it’s just a suggestion. You’ve also got the 5-4-3-2-1 countdown for each lift, this will then allow a strength circuit to be performed, it might look like this:

  • A1 – Squat
  • Rest 1-2min
  • A2 – Press
  • Rest 1-2min
  • A3 – Power Clean
  • Rest 1-2min
  • Back to A1 and repeat until 5-4-3-2-1 reps done

You can find another great example of how to program daily training by reading Easy Strength by Dan John & Pavel – here is link to some chapter notes from it: http://danjohn.net/2011/06/even-easier-strength-perform-better-notes/

In short, training daily is perfectly doable, however it lends itself better to strength/skill based training. Fatness & Hypertrophy will be achieved, however it would require programming to be spot on to avoid pushing the envelope too hard. You will often leave the gym feeling worked but strong, almost like you could do more, however you must resist the temptation to do more as the volume over the week is cumulative and takes a toll.

Enjoy,
Ross

Here are some good links to resources on this subject:

http://www.salisbury.edu/sportsperformance/Articles/INTENSITY%20OF%20STRENGTH%20TRAINING%20FACTS%20AND%20FALLACIES%20-%20ZATZIORSKY.pdf

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Zourdos/publications

https://www.myosynthesis.com/squat-every-day

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Envy much?

Envy is an interesting sin because it never leads anywhere productive.
 
Keeping this in mind, here are three reasons you shouldn’t be envious of others.
 
1 – You’re not them.
 
2 – All the time you focus on others and what they have/do/etc is time you could be spending focusing on your own needs towards your success.
 
3 – Life isn’t fair and some people just get dealt a better hand in life, but some also have it so much worse than you, remember that.
 
In short, work with what you have, maximise it and soon you’ll be the one people are envious of.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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That last rep was all you Bro!

Training to failure, it is good fun.

There is nothing better than feeling that deep burn and the sensation of completely exhausting a muscle.

However, should you really train that way all the time?

Morning All,

The concept of pushing the envelope every session is tempting and realistically you have a couple of options:

1 – Stop one or two reps before failure (RPE 8-9), then do an extra set with the same weight as before for more total volume.

2 – Do as many reps as you can and have a spotter help you complete the last rep, thus increasing intensity and mechanical fatigue/damage.

There have been plenty of studies over the recent years that have looked at studies that equate volume but differ in intensity, vary the amount of training days/frequency along with some other factors too (hopefully you will find the links to the studies and some other great articles below).

One thing that has become apparent is that for each individual there is an optimal balance between intensity and volume, too much of one works for a short period of time (2-3 weeks) but then starts to yield diminishing returns and requires more back-offs/deloads.

You want to stimulate the muscle to create the need for an adaptive response, that’s the bottom line.

What would this look like in terms of sets/reps in a workout?

A1 – Main Compound Movement – 8×3 – RPE 8-9
B1 – Accessory Movement – 3-6x4x6 – RPE 8-9
B2 – Accessory Movement – 3-6x4x6 – RPE 8-9
C1 – Isolation/Weakpoint Movement – 3×8-12 – RPE 8-10 or 3xFail

Using either a Pull-Push-Legs split on a 3on-1off rotation or perhaps a 4 day Upper/Lower Split.

^^ You could perhaps work towards failure on the last exercise as this would be weak point/isolation training.

Why no specific % of 1RM?

That answer is simple, it’s because not everyone can lift the same in relative terms of their 1RM. Some people might hit a 5RM with 87% of their 1RM wile others might only manage 80% at a push. This can be because of how they are neurologically wired or just down to the fact that they are massively strong and lifting far more absolute weight. Thus RPE is a better way to program your lifts.

***Let the weight dictate the reps.***

Take this info and do some digging yourself, then try applying it for a 3-6month training cycle, feel free to use the workout structure above or create your own. You will find that the longer you can stick with a small progression/overload the longer you will progress in the long run. There’s no sense in throwing every extra technique in to your training until you need to do so.

Enjoy,
Ross

The links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15903379?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16095427

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25853914

http://strengtheory.com/the-new-approach-to-training-volume/

http://strengtheory.com/high-frequency-training-for-a-bigger-total-research-on-highly-trained-norwegian-powerlifters/

https://www.elitefts.com/education/training/rate-of-perceived-exertion-rpe/

^^ This link will give you some more info on RPE.

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Taking A Minimalist Approach.

Words you can live by.

Jordan Sisson Fitness

With my blog and my page I try to give as much practical advice as I can so that you don’t have to go through the mistakes that I did and therefore don’t waste time. However with this post I am just giving my perspective on something that has creeped into my life as I have gotten older and had to do the horrible task of ‘adulting’.

Jumping to the finish, this is all about taking a minimalist approach to lifting but also life. From what I am experiencing at the moment, squeezing the most out of as little as possible or at least relying on as little as possible to get the same results is providing me with a hell of a lot less stress and much more enjoyment and time. I am still young and my perspective on life seems to change more than my underwear but as…

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I know why you don’t like your body.

Why don’t you like your body?

^^ A very personal question but one that really should be asked to help gain understanding.

Many people want to be something their not or have a body that is not achievable for them based on the genetic build they have, even though it’s unrealistic and may send them to the edge of madness.

Obviously for some people this will not apply because they re quite content and at peace within themselves, to those people I say, good for you. It is my wish that one day everyone will find this place.

However for the majority that isn’t the case.

Where did it all start?

Magazines, movies, outrageous promises of 30day transformations that are not really sustainable or was it long before that?

As children we never care about how we look, even the children that are known as ‘chubby’, yep, I said it. They have no problem with how they look or how the other treat them, they see the piss taking and jokes as trivial UNTIL they are taught that what is being aid to them is hurtful and meant to make them feel bad, this comes from our parents, peers and life teachers. Just think about that for a second.

People are only hurt by what they are taught too be hurt by. They only care about what they have been told to care about by other people.

Think about it logically, why should you care what other people really think? You shouldn’t but you will because it’s all you know.

Now, when we ask people why this don’t like the way they look, their answers are usually about specific parts or fat storage areas but I really want to know the WHY to these answers. Where did this dislike come from, what was it based on or who did you learn it from?

The answers might seem obvious yet I doubt many have actually sat down and asked themselves why exactly they feel the way they do.

If you know the cause or the root of the evil you can start to make th changes necessary so that you feel HAPPY, as in actually happy, not just waining happiness because you feel you should all down to the fact you have a slender waistline, toned legs and firm buttocks and hair softer than a baby rabbits fur.

Is what you’re doing for something or nothing?

Does this mean that you will finally be happy, content and love your body?

So dear friends, I ask you again, why don’t you like your body, what is the reason and is it your own belief of one you’ve had forced upon you…

 

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Leverage, Genetics & You.

Did you know that your inherent build can play a large role in how you lift a weight, not to mention the muscles that will take most of the load. 

Let’s take the deadlift for example.

A person with short femurs will find they have excessive loading in their quads, whereas a person with longer femurs will find the hamstrings and glutes take more of a hammering.

Therefore because oft different builds and the inherent differences that will occur in set up etc, you’d be right in thinking that while a vernal set up will be followed everyone will look slightly different.

The logic is simple, but you’d be surprised how any people ignore this.

If you look at those who might be shorter and smaller than yourself but weight more this can be down to their genetic makeup that has an effect on bone density, torso length, muscle belly shape, tendon length and more. Meaning that while we are all the same physiologically; more or less. There will always be differences and you shouldn’t compare yourself to anyone else, just you.

Learning to understand your body is something that take a long time, however that does not mean you then blame poor genetics for your lack of progress or excessive body fat gain. Your body doesn’t control you (your conciseness/brain), you do. You make the choices, the responsibility is with you.

This brings us to another crucial and noteworthy point.

If you are a person of 5ft with narrow shoulders, wide hips and short legs, you need to accept that you won’t look like someone who is 5ft with narrow shoulders, narrow hips and long legs, stop trying to achieve a goal that is physically unachievable. Make the best of what you have and train/eat accordingly.

It is not uncommon to find that people idolise those that they will never look like, because we all want what we can’t have.

Take a look at your proportions and honestly assess what is and isn’t possible to achieve. Then find different people of a similar build who have achieved a goal along the same line as yours, learn from them, try things out for at least 6 months, constantly learn, adapt and achieve.

Enjoy,
Ross

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If you’re not doing this daily and getting one of these at least once per month, you’re missing out.

Those who consider themselves to be among the ‘hard core’ or ‘dedicated’ gym goer can often find that they start to have slight aches, pains, niggles and take just that little bit longer to recover than they did before.

Slower recovery does happen as we age, that’s just one of those unfortunate consequences of a long life, however, there are plenty of ways you can aid your recovery and keep your body younger for longer.

Longevity is the key and here are two ways on how to achieve if:

Do this daily – Foam rolling and some basic stretching. You could even take up a yoga class once per week.

Do this once a month – Have a full body massage.

If you do those two things you will find you recover faster, have less aches and pains, and generally feel better.

Before you say there is not time to foam roll/stretch in the day let me interject, you can do it when you’re watching TV. As for the mass you will need to take some time out and invest a little cash but it is 100% worth it.

Here are some useful links to get you started:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bdzpKoEFGt4

http://www.sportsscience.co/…/whole-body-stretching-routine/

Do those and you will reap the rewards or longevity.

Enjoy,
Ross

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