Monthly Archives: April 2017

Movements & Muscles

To train muscles or movements…
 
Which thought process is right?
 
Technically they both are, however it simply depends on the purpose of which you are training.
 
You’ll find older lifters speak a lot about training the muscles, feeling the contraction, the blood filling the area and being pain free and younger lifters look to train movements to better improve their performance and ability to move in a pain free ROM.
 
Both schools of thought are good, however if you follow movements first and then add in some specific work for the muscles you will often find that you have more longevity.
 
As with anything it’s about balance, we need both.
 
Let’s look at one of the most most known exercises and how both concepts apply to it.
 
The humble push up.
 
Not as easy as people think because a great many have very very poor movement patters and as such struggle to perform even one correctly, meaning they will not be a bel to ‘feel’ the correct muscles working.
 
Can you now see why we need to train both movement and muscles?
 
Optimally you will train the movement (the pattern/sequence of events) first then the muscles specifically in said movement.
 
It’s entirely possible to train muscles with poor movement patterns, this can lead to injury. If you don’t think this is true just take a look at people in the gym and you’ll see plenty of people with impressive physiques who train their muscles very well with poor patters. You’ll also find old lifters who did the same and have a few injuries for their troubles.
 
If you’re not sure how to perform a move correctly, seek out a trainer/coach to help you.
 
Train movements, then muscles and you’ll find you can stay in the game for many years to come.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Nothing is really new anymore.

 

Did you know that there is not really any new information in terms of fitness, nutrition or lifestyle these days.

As sad as it is to admit people such as myself are largely redundant because of the internet and the modern world.

There is only so many times we can tell all of you the same things in different ways to make sure you understand, yet so many still don’t.

People have been achieving results for decades and plenty more will continue to do so, but you haven’t, why?

Let me tell you why.

You don’t do the things you need to do because you don’t really want to.

Now it might take a long time but you’ll get there in the end.

In our modern world we can surrounded by the answers, yet still fail to accept them. Instead we make up excuses for our shortcomings and shift the blame to any and everything else because that’s human nature.

Case and point:

To lose fat you need a calorie deficit, for how long is unknown.

To build muscle you need to lift weights and stimulate and adaptive response from your body with a caloric surplus, the specifics are irrelevant.

To achieve good health you need a balance of adequate nutrition, exercise and the avoidance of things you know are detrimental to heath (smoking, all weekend drinking binges every weekend, The X-Factor etc), that’s it.

You can find all of this to be true if you search through the channels of out history, yet you refuse to acknowledge them, why?

Many trainers and coaches alike only want what’s best for the people we work with, however people still want that magic pill and when we can’t give it to them they have now found their reason to blame, us.

Don’t get me wrong, poor coaching is poor coaching, it happens, however it’s a 50/50 deal. Both parties must give it their all, if one side doesn’t the other will struggle.

Nothing is new anymore, not really.

Take some time to look in the mirror and ask yourself this one question.

Is it the lack of information that’s the issue or am I the problem?

Enjoy,
Ross

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One sentence to rule them all

Be warned, this sentence contains so much common-sense you might find it hard to believe.

“Train & eat for the body you want, not the body you have.”

A very simple concept, yet one that many people fail to adhere to, like, ever.

If someone was to come and ask how they could build an aesthetic look like that of a classic body building champ, you’d be fair in the thought process that said person oddly enough would need to train and eat like a body builder, right?

Well even if that is the case people will try and achieve that goal by training in an entirely different way, sometimes one that contradicts the goal they want to achieve, yet they don’t see anything wrong with this thought process…. Madness!

If you want a specific result, that’s great, now accept you have to do specific things to get that result.

You have to hire specific coaches, if powerlifting is your goal find a PL coach. If it’s athletics then find a track and field coach, it’s quite simple really.

It is true you meet some people who break the rules, but chances are if you’re reading this, like me you’re not one of those people so don’t try to be. Seek out people who have achieved the goal you desire and you’ll find their answers are not too dissimilar, honestly,  there is a reason people who train in the 6-12 rep range tend to gain more muscle than those training in the 1-6 range who gain more strength.

That’s it for today.

So remember.

Train & eat for the body you want, not the body you have.

Enjoy, Ross

 

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4 training elements to remember

Volume – Total amount lifted per session (or per week/training block)

Intensity – The overall % lifted relative to your given Rep Maxes

Density – Doing more done in the same time/same done in less time

Frequency – How many times per week you train a muscle group

Four key elements of programming, however they are often overlooked by many.

When I say this it is in reference to how some novice/intermediate lifters don’t take in to account how to correctly plan them in their workouts to ensure constant progression over the long term.

Often people will look to progress volume and only volume, which sadly leads to a lot of junk volume.

Junk volume?

Your numbers on paper might increase in terms of total amount done, but this can be from adding in massive amounts of isolation exercises with very light weights, which does nothing but cause fatigue and provide little to no adaptive stimulus. Essentially the more volume you add in willy-nilly, the lower you make your average intensity.

To establish your total volume: Sets x Reps x Weight = Total Volume

Be careful of that trap.

Many know how to increase intensity. You simply add more weight, simple.

The downside with adding too much intensity is that there is a compromise in the amount of total volume you can lift, so while this is great for getting stronger and making neural connections etc, it does little for adding size because you start to lack the necessary amount of stimulus to do so.

You just can’t lift super heavy weights (relative to your own strength levels) for lot’s of reps.

In most good programs you’ll find the average intensity falls at around 85% of 1RM for each respective lift, with a decent amount of volume (volume differed from person to person specifically, however 80-210 reps seems to be the common theme for hypertrophy at a good average intensity).

How to establish average intensity: Sets x Reps x Weight (all exercises of session) / Reps = Average Intensity

Now, lets talk about density.

A quick example of how it works: You train squats for 45min, total volume is 10,00kg, average intensity is 80%, next session you hit those same numbers in 40min OR you hit 11,000kg in 45min, in both you have increased the density of the session.

^^ That’s also how you establish how dense each session is, how much you’re doing in what times.

Great for keeping your intensity/volume in the right areas while focusing on getting more quality work out and less faffing about.

This is usually a forgotten method of progression, however it’s one of the more useful ones.

Lastly we have frequency.

If you are training a body part once per week you will make progress, plenty of people do, however what they don’t seem to realise is that there is a high degree of crossover in training certain areas, such as chest & arms one day, then shoulders & arms another – both will actually hit similar muscle groups.

It’s common for en especially to have 3-4 upper body sessions in a week when following a standard Bro-Split and only one leg day, this is why their legs end up lagging behind.

In an optimal world you will train each muscle group 2-3 times per week, keeping in mind that some training sessions have cross over to others, here is the typical thought process of how to plans sessions to optimise that crossover:

– Chest/back/arms
– Legs: Anterior chain (Quads as main focus, hammies as secondary etc)
– Shoulders/back/arms
– Legs: Posterior chain (Hammies as main focus, quads as secondary etc)

^^ A good 7 day split that hits each muscle group twice per week, you’d do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday each week 🙂.

All of the above will help you program a successful way to the gains you desire.

The key to progression is progression.

People forget that, please don’t be one of them.

How do you plan your progression in your programs?

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A squat-less routine?

It’s well known that not everyone likes to squat.
 
While the squat is a key movement pattern that should be in a training routine, you can create one without.
 
Not my personal choice but it’s 2017 so let’s cater for those who don’t want to squat or might not be able to, for what ever reason.
 
What can you do?
 
– Hinging
– Pressing
– Pulling
 
Let’s look at how those would make up a workout.
 
It’s worth noting that you will still build some good legs without squats, however the squat is an incredibly athletic movement and at least one session per week would be good.
 
Okay, let’s put together a squat-less routine.
 
Day A –
 
A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift from Deficit 8×3
B1: Press 10×5
B2: BB Row 10×5
C1: Dips 4x Fail
 
Day B –
 
A1: Clean Grip Deadlift from Floor 6×4
B1: Incline Press 6×8
B2: Pull Up (weighted if necessary or pull downs) 6×8
C1: Curls 4×8-12
 
Day C –
 
A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift from Blocks (mid shin) 4×6
B1: Close Grip Bench 8×6
B2: DB Row 8×8
C1: Face Pulls 4×12-15
 
Day X – Optional
 
A1: Hill Sprint 5-10×60 seconds
B1: Prowler or Sled Drag 5-10x20m
C1: Loaded Carry 5-10x20m
 
Here is how it might look if put in to a weekly workout structure – 7 day split:
 
Monday – C
Tuesday – B
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – X
Friday – Off
Saturday – A
Sunday – Off
 
If only A/B/C used then pick three days per week to train at your convenience using the order C-B-A.
 
You will notice the varied levels of deadlift will place different emphasis on quad/posterior recruitment, the addition Day-X would further help leg development and conditioning.
 
In your warm ups some form of squatting movement patter would be personally advised so you still get the expose to the pattern, maybe some light goblet squats for example, just for good measure.
 
Remember that all good programs have at least one day of squatting, this is an option for those who truly detest squats and is a last resort.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How to train full body in 8 moves – Sage advice from a random lifter

It’s easy for people to get caught up in looking for eldest variations of lifts, usually to ensure they hit all the muscle fibres from every angle.
 
…. Sigh….
 
Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a time and a place for extra variations of lifts, however for most people they are not yet needed.
 
Why?
 
A long time ago a wise and rather large lifter once dropped this statement that changed the way things were seen –
 
“You spend too much time faffing about, no offence intended but you’re not strong enough to warrant doing that many isolation movements. You aren’t earn the right or build a base of muscle from solid lifting and compound movements. Stick with these for a solid 6 months and see who you go, if it works then great, if it doesn’t you can go back to with you were doing.” *Writes down a program with set/rep ideas.
 
Here is what was given:
 
Day 1 – Pressing/Pulling
Day 2 – Squatting/Hinging
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Pressing/Pulling
Day 5 – Off
Day 6 – Hinging/Squatting
Day 7 – Off
 
A standard 7 day split with 4 training sessions per week, 2 upper and 2 lower.
 
Here were the exercises:
 
Legs: Squat & front squat
Back: Deadlift/Stiff Leg & bent over row
Chest: Bench press & incline press
Shoulders: Military press & high pull/upright row
Arms: Dips or close-grip press, chins and/or some curls
 
Pretty simple.
 
They were organised them in to the following:
 
Day 1 – Pressing/Pulling
A1 – Military Press
A2 – Chin Up
B1 – Incline Press
B2 – Curl
 
Day 2 – Squatting/Hinging
A1 – Squat
B1 – Deadlift – Stiff Leg – Light
 
Day 3 – Off
 
Day 4 – Pressing/Pulling
A1 – Bench Press
A2 – Bent Over Row
B1 – Dips
B2 – Upright Row
 
Day 5 – Off
 
Day 6 – Hinging/Squatting
A1 – Deadlift – Heavy
B1 – Front Squat
 
Day 7 – Off
 
The advice was to aim for 30 reps to start and build to 50 reps per movement on average including light deadlift which was more a stiff leg variation explained, 15-25 for heavy deadlift.
Personally I’d also chuck in some planks and calf raises as well at the end of each session.
 
“Add weight where you can, if you can add weight add reps, once you hit the target then add weight, simple.”
 
Now this is nothing magical but it worked and is certainly worth a try.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A simple answer to a common question.

“How many exercises should I do each workout?”
 
^^ A common question, to which there is a very simple answer.
 
2-7
 
The average for a decent workout seems to be around 4, however the option to go a little higher or lower is useful planning an accumulation or intensification phase of training.
 
If you’re lifting heavy, then perhaps a simple A1-A2 set up is best, this will allow maximal weigh tot be shifted and ample time for recovery in your 45-60min training slot.
 
The same is true for using more exercises, you’d usually find this happens when you’re lifting a little lighter and aiming for more volume.
 
There’s your answer.
 
Pick anywhere from 2-7 exercises per session, utilise the following methods to help you regulate training and stave off boredom.
 
– Super sets: A1-A2
– Tri sets: A1-A2-A3
– Giant sets: 4 or more exercises for the same muscle group
– Circuits: 4 or more exercises for different muscle groups
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Volume goals and low reps.

Morning all,
 
High reps, low sets are popular for getting in a lot of volume, however you can do the same by using submit weights and lower reps and we shall look at why you should be doing this.
 
Why use low reps higher sets to hit a daily volume goal?
 
1 – You use a higher % of 1RM – say 85% (a technical 6RM) for multiple sets of 2-3 reps until you hit perhaps a 50 rep target. 16-25 sets required.
 
2 – It stimulates more muscle due to it being a higher relative load, more muscle fibres used means more adaptive need, this means more progress.
 
3 – Lifting heavier weights is more fun and provides what is called ‘functional hypertrophy’ – essentially you’re strong and look good, rather than just looking good with nothing back it up.
4 – It’s way more fun.
 
Here is a simple structure to use:
 
High volume workout – 80%+ 1RM – 50 reps – 3 lifts per session: these don’t have to be the sam lift each workout, cover the following movement patterns across the week for optimal results.
 
– Full body – snatch, clean/jerk etc)
– Loaded carry – farmers walk, sand bag carry and so on
– Hinge – deadlift
– Squat – umm well… a squat, obviously
– Pull – Chin up or row perhaps
– Push – Press or a dip
 
^^ The options are endless, just pick a moment and find a lift to go with it.
 
Train movements for miracles.
 
Moderate volume workout – 80%+ 1RM – 30 reps – 3 lifts per session
 
Low volume workout – 80%+ 1RM – 10 reps – 3 lifts per session
 
This volume cycling will allow you to get some much needed recover if you start feeling beaten up, you can utilise the H-M-L as you see fit. A weekly loading high look like this:
 
M – H
T – M
W- L – or off
T – H
F- M
S – M
S – L or off
 
Aim for 80-210 reps of volume per movement per week.
 
Make sense?
 
If you lift heavier weights more often you will find a lot of benefit to strength, muscle mass, fat loss and less boredom from doing endless high rep pump sets.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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The problem with simple advice is the fact that it works.

Don’t you find it interesting that people are quick to discount simple advice because it sounds to easy. They’d much rather something with super complicated, typically because when something is complicated there can be a ‘logical’ reason for them failing: such as “It was too complex.”.
 
When you get a few wise words it seems too good to be true.
 
The problem can be found in the fact that short and simple advice is seen as too easy, however when applied it soon becomes clear that simple and easy are not two things that correlate very often.
 
Just because something is simple doesn’t mean it is easy.
 
Take this for example:
 
“To build muscle and get stronger you need to lift weights, pick 5-8 exercises to cover the whole body and add sets or reps where you can and when you’re doing multiple sets/reps with ease you add weight and repeat the process.”
 
^^ Nothing fancy, but very hard and people will give up.
 
A lot of people find a degree of embarrassment when they fail, especially when the advice given wasn’t super complex. It’s common for a bystander to say something like “Is that all you had to do?” which essentially means – how on earth did you fail at doing that…
 
Failing hurts the ego, especially when something isn’t hard on paper.
 
Nutrition is another prime example.
 
“To lose fat you’ll be looking for a calorie deficit (eating less than you’re burning), doing some weightlifting and sprint work will also help. Try to eat mostly whole foods and how a little of what you like now and again to keep you sane.”
 
Such wisdom will be kicked to the curb because it’s not a mind-boggling batch of numbers and percentages.
 
Give someone the above and they think you’re taking the piss.
 
Give them ‘Eat 1g or preteen per lean Lbs of body weight, 2g of carbs per lean lbs and 0.5g of fat per lean lbs’ and their eyes light up because it sounds technical, therefore it must be right when in all honesty it is not the sort of thing a beginner needs to focus on.
 
People starting out should be aware that the simple stuff is around for a reason, it works.
 
A lot of experienced people tell you simple things because they have found through trial and error that success requires very little deviation.
 
If you are a beginner keeping things as basic as possible will achieve a few things:
 
– Consistency
– Good habits
– Behaviour change
 
All three are needed for long term progress.
 
Once you get 3-5 years of training down the line you can start looking in to the more complex things, before that you’d do well to remember the good old rule of KISS.
 
Keep
It
Simple
Savvy?
 
Bit of a change to what you might expect the last S to stand for, but it think it sounds nicer because people aren’t necessarily stupid, just misguided and lead astray by too much bad information.
 
Go to a place filled with people who have succeeded in what you’re looking to do and ask 10 of them for some advice, ask them to give it to you in the simplest way possible and you’ll find there is very little difference in what they might say. A common theme will become apparent, trust me.
 
Now go, seek a simple start and then expand from there.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Why people hate leg day

Typically leg day is avoided for one if not all of these reasons:

  • Feigned injury
  • The lifter is weak in the squat technically & physically
  • Laziness

Now there are times where people will have legitimate reasons not to train legs, however for the most part people skip them because they’re being pansies.

Now you must understand that leg day is a hard day, especially once you get strong, it’s a gruelling process but anyone who’s anyone digs deep and hammer it out.

In an ideal world you will train your lower body twice per week with compound movements, for the most part. Sitting on machines faffing about does little for you.

Here are two simple lower body workouts that will give you the best bang for your buck and add well needed mass to your legs, if you’re one of the many who doesn’t train them that is.

Lower Body 1

A1 – Squat 10×6 + 50 rep back off set (hit 50 reps with 80% of 5rep weight in as few sets as possible)

A2 – Hamstring Curl 10×6 + 50 rep back off – as above.

Lower Body 2

A1 – Snatch Grip Deficit Deadlift 10×5

B1 – Prowler or Hill Sprints 15min repeated efforts until time elapse

Nothing fancy, just good old fashion hard work and trust me, it will be hard and you’ll want to stop which you can so long as you’re okay living with failure.

Enjoy, Ross

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