Monthly Archives: May 2017

40+ Lifting

The ravages of time effect us all, it’s something none of us can deny.

Eventually the days of working all the hours under the sun followed by a hard night of partying and then getting up at the crack of dawn and crushing a workout can only last so long.

In the end the body says “Nope, just no.”

So why does this happen?

Let’s look at what we know:

– Hormonal profiles are less optimal
– Your ability to recover declines as you age
– Sleep becomes paramount
– Tolerance to alcohol, highly processed foods declines
– You can actually train harder as you age due to better and more mature/developed neurological connections that create more in-road each session (plus you might have made strength gains from your early days, hopefully)
– Basically you’re no spring chicken anymore

Some people think raging is a bad thing, it’s not, it’s simply a process of life however if you plan your training correctly you can make plenty of progress in your later years, and for some people even make the best progress they’ve ever made.

Personally I’ve had clients who go on to outdo themselves ten-fold from their youth because as an adult they possess the following quality that only come with time:

– Wisdom
– Patience
– Accountability
– Common sense

A typical younger version of yourself might train 5-6 days per week and hit a combination of weights/cardio, not a bad thing, however from experience the attitude of most is that of this “I’m maintaining what I’ve got.” whereas as you age the attitude becomes “I’m looking to become stronger and improve what I have to prevent further decline.” – obviously note true for everyone, just most people.

As youths we truly are ignorant and take what we have for granted. If we had known that the foundations we lay in the early years will serve use to help keep our youth for longer more people would put in a conscious effort to train for strength/progress rather than just aesthetics and maintaining what we have.

^^ Always train for strength, performance and progress, that’s the bottom line. If you do aesthetics will come regardless of age.

Below is a winning formula I have used for people over the age of 40 who have become more invested mentally in their training.

– Train 2-4 times per week (more isn’t necessary)
– Focus on strengthening your posterior chain
– Focus on stretching your anterior chain
– 2-6 movements per session is great
– Conditioning is important (use 1 session to hit CV 80%+ HRR)
– Lower reps with more sets trumps all
– Average intensity will be around 80% 1RM
– 2-3 weeks of hard training followed by 1 week easy is king
– Take 4 total rest weeks of a year (12 week mesocycles)
– Food is fuel, eat mostly whole foods
– Enjoy life, if you want to eat loose do it, just don’t go nuts to often

If you’re new to lifting I advise you hire a coach to help you with the below. Kettlebells are a great tool, however they require practice so leave your ego at the door, focus on longevity.

 

You’ll improve strength/conditioning/mobility/flexibility with kettlebells, they’re the perfect tool as we find ourselves hitting the later years. If you have never used them I suggest hiring a coach to help teach you their ways.

Enjoy,
Ross

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You’re allow to be unmotivated

How often do you feel unmotivated to train?
 
Every now and again or is it something of a regular occurrence that rears it’s head all too often?
 
It’s okay you know, to feel unmotivated and not want to train.
 
It’s not uncommon for people to get bogged down when it comes to training because progress is often very slow and worst of all is hardly noticeable until a large amount has been accumulated over time.
 
Surely you’ve seen those people who suddenly make a massive amount of progress seemingly over night, frustrating, isn’t it.
 
Well let’s make something clear, their progress hasn’t happened over night, it’s happened over many many nights and days and through various choices they’ve made for the better, all so they can get one step closer to achieving a goal and making more progress.
 
A lot of people are quick to bitch and moan that everyone else has it easier than they do, when the reality is that the ones who make and have made progress usually put in more time, effort and investment than their jealous counterparts.
 
We all wish that making a change came quickly however it doesn’t, not anything meaningful anyway.
 
Here is a simple example of a way to make progress lifting:
 
Start off with a compound lift at 8x2x80% 1RM, workout 2 times per week per week, add 1 rep each session until you’re doing 8×3, then add a small amount of weight, 1-2kg and repeat.
 
Sound laborious?
 
It is, but do you know what else it is?
 
Effective.
 
Over time you’d find your strength would increase, as would you total muscle mass, yet it would happen at such gradual pace people would discount it.
 
The same is true for nutrition, if you start by eating a little less, your weight will will start to slowly decline, eventually you’d need another calorie drop and once again your weight would slowly go down – a combination of lifting weights and cardio work great with a calorie deficit for changing who your body looks. Who knew right?
 
In the end you’ll find most people lose motivation at some point or another, however the difference between the ones who succeed and those who don’t is clear.
 
Those who succeed do what they need to do whether they feel like it or not.
 
Are you one of those people or not?
 
No one else can get your results for you, it’s 100% on you.
 
Time to choose.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How nutrition is a lot like moving house.

A simple analogy for nutrition that will change the way you think.
 
If you’re driving to a certain destination for let’s say a permanent house move, you know, moving from a 2 bed semi to a 3 bed detached, how do you get there?
 
Easy, by planning a route and continuing to drive towards said destination.
 
If you stop, you don’t get any closer to it.
 
If you turn around and go back to your previous one (the 3 bed semi) you have gone backwards to where you were before in stead of going to your new home (3 bed detached), obviously, which seems silly, doesn’t it.
 
Now apply that to nutrition.
 
You pick a goal.
You move towards your goal by making small sustainable lifestyle.
If you stop making the changes you stop processing.
If you go back to old habits you end up back where you started.
 
^^ How is this hard for people to understand?
 
If you want lasting results you need to make a lasting change.
 
Much like moving home, you don’t upgrade a house and then go back to living in your old one, you change, yet it seems many people think nutrition is an exception to this rule. They make a change, get results and then expect to keep that change by eating as they used to (excessively).
 
Madness.
 
Give the analogy some thought.
 
Do you want to move forwards or stay where you are, because once you go forwards there are then only three options after that.
 
1 – Keep moving forwards, on to a 4 bed (optimal)
2 – Stay where you are because you’re happy, in your 3 bed
3 – Go backwards, returning to your 2 bed semi
 
Your choice.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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So, think you’re tough enough to try this?

It’s safe to say there are some people in the gym who go above and beyond when it comes to pushing through the burn, a true sign of mental toughness.

However…

Density training has humbled many, myself included.

This is a nice little method of training if you’re short on time and have a hectic schedule.

There are several forms of this, the one we are looking it will help enhance the following elements of your fitness:

  • Base Strength
  • Strength Endurance
  • Cardio
  • Muscle Mass
  • Body Composition (strip fat)
  • Mental Strength

Another added benefit is how this style of training will help you save time and even improve your form – I advise you stop a set of form breaks down, even if it fell short, after all, safety comes first and you can always build strength over time, there’s no rush.

Here is what to do:

  • Train 2-7 days per week (yep, you can do 7days if you wish, I wouldn’t, but you could)
  • Ramp to a top weight and base the density set off of a % of top ramp (50-70% is good) – go lighter than you think at first
  • Complete as many reps as possible in the given time limit
  • Progression comes in the form of adding weight once you can perform consistent reps without stopping in the time limit

You will be using 5min sets.

Yep, after you’ve warmed up, you do 5min of solid reps with a given exercise, no letting go of the bar, db, kettlebell or kit you’re using, just a brief rest pause in the lockout/rack position.

For this method to work well 2-3 exercise per session are good, any more and you may run into problems. I would also not advise doing this with deadlifts, just train those normally.

Here are some suggestions of movements to use:

  • Squat (rest in lock out, goes for front/back squat)
  • Press (bench – rest in lockout, overhead – rest in rack position, dips – rest in lockout)
  • Pull/Chin Up (rest in dead hang)
  • Curls (rest at bottom of curl)
  • Farmers Walk/Loaded Carry (good luck finding a rest position that doesn’t involve putting it down)
  • Turkish Get Ups – 1 set each arm

The loading will be as above, the time limit will be a nice simple 5min, be sure to note down the reps you achieve. Typically hitting around 35-50 means you’re good to go up in weight, depending on the exercise I’d aim for 50 personally.

The layout of a session might be like this:

  • A1 – Ramp on squat to heavy 1-5, drop weight to 60% of top ramp for 1x5min density set
  • B1 – Ramp on press to heavy 1-5, drop weight to 60% of top ramp for 1x5min density set
  • C1 – Chins 1x5min density set* Optional

Remember to hit the full body over the week of your training.

If you trained 2 days you’d have 3 exercises per day that you can pick from the examples written above.

5min doesn’t seem like a long time, however it will test you both mentally and physically.

Enjoy, Ross

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A diet option of old.

Carb Cycling.
 
What is it?
 
While it has a fancy name, carb cycling simply means eating more carbohydrates on some days and less on others, usually used when people are ‘cutting’ and in a calorie deficit.
 
You will find this method of dieting also fits in quite well for a lot of people.
 
Typically you’ll have a high carb day – for my clients this would be a day where they are eating back at their maintenance calories pre-cut. Plenty of choice and mixture of simple/complex carbs.
 
A medium carb day – I will program this for the majority of training days, usually meaning they are in a deficit of 500 calories form maintenance. Mostly complex carbs with simper ons saved for post workout.
 
A low carb day – As you can guess this is a day where the carbs are scarce, I will often advice a lot of veg (the ultimate low carb volume producer) on this day to increase food volume. Not uncommon for people to have a deficit of 750+ from their maintenance on this day, these are days with little activity and no training typically.
 
Now you can plan a specific set of L-M-H days to achieve the calorie deficit they needs or you can set an overall ‘weekly or monthly deficit’ you’d like you client to achieve and give them free run to use the days how they’d like; just make them aware that if they use too many high days they will have little to no wiggle room by the end of the month and potentially get no progress due to not hitting their required deficit.
 
Find what method works for acc individual.
 
Personally I’m a big fan of the target deficit, you can then track how they do from progress pictures and adjust calories up or down as needed.
 
Try it and see how it works for you.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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That weak body part

Do you have stubborn body parts that won’t grow?

Here is how to change that.

It’s not uncommon for people to have a weak body part that doesn’t want to grow.

You’ll often find people come up with all sorts of excuses as to why it won’t grow, even though they claim to train it as hard as their favoured muscle groups.

Well, let me tell you a little secret.

You ready for it?

You’re not training you weak body part hard enough or frequently enough. If you were it would grow, simple.

Let’s take mens calves for example because plenty of men are #TeamNoCalves these days.

Why can’t they get the to grow?

Overload and the necessary stimulus are not being provided, that is fact because that’s how our body works. It responds to the stress we pace it under, if something isn’t growing it means we’re not putting it under enough adaptive stress, period.

Now it is true the mind muscle connection (feeling the muscle work) will be a great help, this does take time to establish, but not that much time.

If you have a weak body part you’d do well to do the follow:

– Train it 3-5xPW (depending on what it is)
– Track the volume you’re lifting
– Push it to the point of failure, the repeat until no longer small

Everyone has weak body parts typically for the reason that they are not trained because they dent ones ego, put that aside and focus on building a balanced and strong body.

These are the most common weak parts you probably need to train:

– Rear Delts
– Calves
– Legs in general

Weak point no more!

Enjoy,
Ross

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The fast metabolism fiasco

“It’s okay for them, they can eat what they want, they have a fast metabolism.”
 
^^ I hear this a lot.
 
Is this something you’ve said in the past, along with the classic – “I’ve got a slow metabolism, I gain weight instantly if I eat.”
 
Do you know how these people with this seemingly godlike metabolism do it?
 
Do you want to know?
 
I will tell you.
 
Their metabolism is not that far off from yours, the only difference is how they live their lives, which usually look like this:
 
– They eat at or just below their required maintenance calories (you don’t)
 
– They move more and thus have a higher energy expenditure, typically from CV training and/or weightlifting which helps create EPOC/In road, (you don’t)
 
– They have more lean muscle mass (you don’t)
 
Can you see a pattern forming here?
 
The whole fast/slow metabolism excuse is utter nonsense for most average people. It’s usually a simple case that their energy expenditure is lower than their energy intake.
 
Wait, what’s that I hear?
 
You have thyroid problems?
 
So do a lot of other people and guess what, if it is managed by the doctor then you don’t have a thyroid problem, you have an eating problem as in you eat too much.
 
Now is it true there will always be some people who are the exceptions and because of this the world and it’s dog jump on that and claim to be the exception, I can safely say from experience this is not the case, trust me on that.
 
Ironically the exceptions never use being the exception as an excuse, they just find a way to make things work and achieve their goals. It’s only the average who use the exception excuse.
 
So to summarise…
 
They don’t have a fast metabolism.
 
You don’t have a slow metabolism.
 
They eat less, move more and have higher amount of lean mass than you, it’s that simple.
 
Stop making excuses and start looking for ways in which YOU can make the changes you need, if you need help please ask and you will get it.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Train to gain

It seems that hitting momentary mechanical failure is equally if not more important tan the load you lift.
 
 
^^ A good study looking at 3x Fail x30% VS 3x Fail x80%.
 
In short, the act of hitting failure provide adequate stimulus to trigger muscle growth.
 
The growth was essentially the same in both groups, however the group that used a heavier weight got stronger as well (pretty logical).
 
So what does this mean for your training?
 
You can look at it one of two ways:
 
1 – Cycle your loads between 30-80% 1RM and perform 3 sets per muscle group to muscle failure each set (after a couple of warm up sets, obviously).
 
2 – You can take this data and combine to s strength program to add some extra oomph, so perhaps performing working sets at a standard weight, say 5x5x80% (leaving reps in the take and focusing on strength), followed by a back off set of the same weight or between the 30-80% mark for AMRAP to hit failure, triggering more growth stimulus.
 
Both options are viable, both will improve strength and size.
 
Another nice option is this:
 
W/U – 10-15 reps
Set 1 – 10 reps – tough
Set 2 – 8 reps – tougher
Set 3 – 6-8 reps – hardest set
Set 4 – reps to failure with previous load or reduce load by 20%
 
If you ever see someone who has any decent amount of size you’ll notice they’ve often blended training to failure with stopping just short, try it yourself and see how you do.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How doing less helped me progress.

Yesterday we touched on who doing too much can hold people back, today we shall look at how the opposite can help you being to once again make headway.
 
MED, remember that?
 
Minimum effective dose.
 
Find what the bare minimum you can do and make progress form and do that until you no longer make progress, then perhaps add the next smallest amount and progress once again.
 
A simple thought that still adheres to the GAS/SAID principle.
 
It will allow you more time to recover, spend time doing other things you enjoy and for the average person, give you results while also having a life.
 
Sounds perfect, right?
 
That being the case, why don’t people do it?
 
Because as we discussed yesterday, too many think more is better and even more than that must mean even better still, not always true, sadly.
 
You will also find that when you take down how much you’ve been doing, you recover and allow the super-compensation element of GAS to happen, meaning gains.
 
Keeping in mind MED, how many times per week do you need to train to make progress?
 
Twice, that’s a great start.
 
Both sessions would follow a full body approach with limited moves that will give you the best bang for your buck.
 
Day 1 – Monday
 
A1 – Front Squat or Squat 10×5
A2 – DB Row 10×6
B1 – Press 8×6
B2 – Chin 8×6
C1 – Dip 50 reps in as few sets as possible
D1 – Loaded Carry 10min x Total Distance (famers walk, etc)
 
Day 2 – Thursday
 
A1 – Deficit Deadlift (any grip) 10×5
A2 – DB Press 10×6-8
B1 – Bench Press or Incline 6×6-8
B2 – BB Row 6×6-8
C1 – Curl 50 rep goal in as few sets as possible
D1 – Prowler or Sprints 10min x total Distance
 
Combine this with solid nutrition (plenty of whole foods and a calorie deficit or surplus depending on your goal) and three simple factors to progress and you’ll be laughing at the gains you make.
 
How to progress:
 
– Add weight where possible (fractional plates are good)
– If you can’t add weight, reduce rest
– Rest at it’s lowest, increase TUT (time under tension) with a slower negative portion of the lift
 
In each session aim to keep a good pace and finish within 45-75min, you’ll find the less you faff the better the workout you get.
 
Obviously over time you will potentially need to add more frequency taking training to 3 days per week, but the longer you can progress on 2 the better.
 
Funnily enough you will find that most elite lifters seem to find 4xP/W is their optimal limit because in each session they train HARD and create a deep ‘in road’ meaning they’ve stimulated growth, you need to do this too.
 
Remember, doing less can help your progress.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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