Monthly Archives: June 2017

How to make progress: Part 2 – Overload

After the last post you know the importance of having a goal and numbers to go with said goal, next up is something a great many don’t achieve in their training.
 
In each session, or at the very minimum over time, you need to lift more than you did perviously so that you force the muscles to adapt, pretty simple.
 
The overload aspect of training is something that can easily be planned out and can happen in a great many ways, however regardless of which way you decide to achieve this you’ll find in the end these two factors will have increased:
 
– Total volume
– Intensity
 
It’s not uncommon to see people lifting the same weights for the same reps day in, day out and wonder why they don’t make any progress (it’s because they’re not stimulating the muscles and achieving overload).
 
With all the options, which is best?
The silent answer is this; the one that you can keep doing because it doesn’t bore you.
 
Perhaps a cop out answer however it’s a relevant one because with adherence and consistency nothing will work and you need to achieve progressive overload over a period of time to keep progressing, here are some examples:
 
– Linear progression with fractions plates: add 0.5kg each session, keep reps/set the same.
 
– Weekly undulating periodisation: (example weights) week1 5x5x100kg, week2 6x4x105kg, week3 8x3x110kg, use a heavier weight each week, then after 3 weeks go back to 5×5 and use a heavier weight than before.
 
– Rep/set progression: 3-5×6-12, start at 3×6, add a rep each session until you hit 3×12, then add a set and repeat until 4×12 is hit, then do it again until 5×12 is hit, then add weight and start it all over again.
 
As you can see, three simple yet very effective methods of achieving overload and while boring they work.
 
The biggest issue we face is that people want constant novelty in their training and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it can make overload hard to achieve if you don’t know what you’re doing.
 
Truth be told, you’ll find the most effective programs are usually the most boring.
 
Take a look at your training, do you achieve overload?
 
If you’re making progress then the answer is yes, if it’s no the you’re not, it’s that simple.
 
The key to progression is progression, find anyway to do more than you did.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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How to make progress, part 1: Specificity

It might seem obvious that needing a goal is key for making progress, however there are a lot of people who fail to set one, especially a specific one with trackable numbers.
 
You might there of people saying things like:
 
“I want to get bigger.”
 
“I want to lose weight.”
 
And so on.
 
While those are goals they’re not specific ones, and you’ll no doubt hear of people who never set specific goals because they don’t need to, however you’re not one of those people (the genetically gifted or PED users), you need specifics to make progress.
 
Having a designated goal based on a number will allow you the opportunity to reverse engineer your path to it and help you set weekly targets and the necessary steps to success.
 
Take this example:
 
Goal – Bench Press 140kg
Current standard – 120kg bench press
Required progress – 20kg increase in strength
Time frame – 12 months 1-1-17:1-1-18
 
Looking at this you’d be able to see that you will need to add around 1.6kg per month to your bench each month.
 
You will also then be abel to establish the correct training periods necessary to achieve this goal (Hypertrophy, Strength, Peaking etc). Wether this is hitting absolute weight increase on the bar, rep increases such as taking your current 3RM and making it your new 6RM, total increased volume and so on, you can plan out clear route for progress.
 
Now I don’t care who claims they don’t need to do this because almost every successful athlete in the world of strength sports trains this way and the reason for it is simple; it works.
 
In short, having a specific goal will help you actually achieve something, without one you might progress, you might not. The overbearing amount of people int he gym who don’t change their body composition, incase strength or achieve anything is proof enough, it’s up to you to decide if you want to be one of them or one of the successful ones.
 
Part two will be overload.
 
Until then, write down your goals, be specific and make a plan.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Not made progress in a while?

A lack of progress can be frustrating.
 
It is also something that’s extremely common among a great many people who frequently visit the gym.
 
The biggest question should be why, which would then be swiftly followed by some reflective thought on the matter.
 
Taking the time to look back at your training/nutrition can give you a great insight in to why progress has ground to a halt or potentially even slipped backwards.
 
Here is what you might find:
 
– Training volume hasn’t increased
– Training volume has increased too much
– Intensity hasn’t increased
– Intensity has increased too much
– You’re under eating
– You’re over eating
 
Basically you will know that something is to right because progress has stopped, how you use this information is what will make the difference between getting the ball rolling again and staying where you are.
 
I’ve seen plenty of people spin their wheels when they stop moving forwards. They assume that they must keep doing everything they were doing, in addition to adding in new stimuli and I can tell you from painful experience that this is not a winning formula.
 
If we look at the hierarchy of things this is what we get (in regards to training), most important to least important:
 
– Specificity
– Overload
– Fatigue Management
– Stimulus:Recovery:Adaptation
– Variation
– Phase Potentiation
– Individual Difference
 
What do they all mean?
 
– Are you doing what you need to be doing for your goal
– Are you taking the muscles to the point they require a need to adapt
– Are you doing the right amount of work (not too much)
– Are you sure you’re doing the first 3?
– Extra options on exercises to help progress
– Peaking & periodisation
– Some individual tweaks for you to be 100% on it
 
Most people spend a lot of time in the latter end of this list which is why they don’t really progress. This is the minutia, the first three points are the majority and need the most attention.
 
Have you ever said or heard someone say this: “I just don’t know what to do in my workout” – progress is sadly very dull, fancy exercise variations are no substitute for overload (increasing volume, intensity, density, frequency), yet if people don’t get novel stimulus to appease their short attention span they feel the workout is useless, they couldn’t be more wrong.
 
I’m going to cover each of the principles above in detail over the upcoming posts, if you can’t wait hat long I suggest buying the book ‘The Scientific Principles of Strength Training’ you’ll get this information there too.
 
Nutrition will be covered as well.
 
Before we go toady I’m going to ask you to do something, not for me but for yourself.
 
Look back at your training in recent times, have you been doing what you NEED to be doing, honestly?
 
Take some time to reflect and assess what’s going on.
 
More info tomorrow.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A complex string of events

Stringing exercises together one after the other with the same piece of kit if known, no rest and not putting said kit down is often known as a complex.

You can do them with dumbbells, barbells and a personal favourite, kettlebells.

Here are three short kettlebell complexes to hit the entire body and build strength, lean mass and strip fat (provided calorie requirements are also correct).

Each complex is done with 2 kettlebells.

Push Complex:

– Clean
– Press
– Push Press
– Jerk

Start off with one rep of each, then two, then three, aim to work up to 5 without stopping. 3-5 rounds of this will help create an impressive upper body, increase the weight of the bells by 4kg once you can do 5 rounds of 1-5 unbroken.

Pull Complex:

– Swing
– Swing to Pull (pull elbows towards hips)
– Clean
– Snatch

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Leg Complex:

– Clean
– Squat
– Lunge (any variation of your choice)
– Rack Tip-Toe Walk or Rack Walk

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Now this could be one workout three times per week, several smaller workouts during the day (morning, afternoon, evening) or a short 10-20min workout for each day depending on your commitments and available time to train.

This style of training is one that lends itself well to daily practice (push day, pull day, leg day, repeat works well).

These are by no means the only options, they’re just simple ones to get you started, you’ll find some great complexes in the writing of Dan John.

Give them a go.

Enjoy,
Ross

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6 short lessons of success.

 
Everyone want’s to succeed, yet not everyone will… Unless you take heed of these sage words.
 
1 – It doesn’t happen overnight, there’s always a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.
 
2 – If you’re not upsetting people you’re not pushing the boundaries you need to.
 
3 – Success doesn’t care if you’ve had a bad day, feel ill or made a mistake, regardless of circumstance success will still demand sacrifice for it’s fruits.
 
4 – Hitting the pinnacle is a privilege, not a right.
 
5 – If not you, it will be someone else.
 
6 – You’ll have to keep doing more and more and more to boost your skill because no one starts out good at anything and if they do they never amount to anything because they take that gift fro granted.
 
Chances are you ready know the above, most people do yet they still feel they’re entitled to some sort of success when this is not the case, nor has it ever been. If you want something you’d better be prepared to work your ass off for it.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Is your training right?

Does the training you enjoy conflict the goal you desire?
 
Well?
 
It’s a simple question and very easy to answer, let me explain by using myself as the example.
 
My goal is strength, with some extra size because everyone wants to look as strong as they are :).
 
Does the training I undergo match this goal?
 
For the strength neurological elements, yes.
 
For the mass gaining, no.
 
Simple.
 
I find that cycling through periodised blocks of training is something I have been terrible at doing in recent years because personally the bodybuilding style of training bores me to tears, however there is only so strong I can get being the size I am, such a conundrum.
 
It is easy to fall in to the trap of doing what we enjoy and while there is not really anything wrong with that, it doesn’t always mean that we will get the results we desire and unless we’re willing to make the changes necessary to our training and perhaps even our nutrition, we’ll just have to settle with what we’ve got.
 
Be nice if there was another answer, there isn’t.
 
If you want a specific outcome you need to take a specific course of action.
 
As not to leave you without anything to test out in the gym I’m going to write out a nice simple routine that will indeed give you the mental stimulation of lifting heavy with the muscle building capacity of reps, you can also use this for fat loss too.
 
Rep/Sets:
 
– 5 singles to a heavy weight for the day
– Back off to 60-80% of that weight
– Do either 5×5 or 1×20
– For strength do workouts 1 & 2 ideally twice per week, if you only have three days to train it would go 1-2-1, 2-1-2 and then repeat.
– For fat loss do workouts 1 & 2 on say Monday/Friday and add in workout 3 on Wednesday, for example.
 
 
Workout 1:
 
A1 – Deadlift
B1 – Press (overhead, dip or bench)
C1 – Chin Up
 
Workout 2:
 
A1 – Squat
B1 – Press (overhead, dip or bench)
C1 – Row
 
Workout 3:
 
A1 – Bodyweight bear hug carry 100-400m
B1 – Farmers Walk 100-400m
C1 – Sprints 5-10×60 second sprints
 
It’s simple, effective, quite fun and will give you results, provided you’re nutrition is appropriate for your goal (mass gain = calorie surplus, fat loss = calorie deficit).
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Warning…. Incoming R-A-M-P

This is considered by some to be the most optimal way of getting ready for you chosen activity.
 
You might have heard of this term in it’s non acronym form.
 
-Raise
-Activate
-Mobilise
-Potentiate
 
Today we shall break down what each of these elements means and how you can apply the to your workouts for better lifting and more gains.
 
Okay, Raise.
 
Might seem obvious, it’s getting your pulse up and your blood flowing. It can be from a movement pattern or some other means, dealers choice.
 
Activate, a buzzword or late however it does not mean what people think it means.
 
What it doesn’t mean is doing umpteen isolation or banded exercises to fire each individual muscle, it means performing the movements you will be doing in your workout. First with perhaps bodyweight, then added resistance which is increased as you do more warm up sets.
 
Mobilise, this falls in with the movements you’re going to be doing and can also have crossover from your mobility pattern you did at the start to help get your blood flowing and raise your pulse.
 
Lastly we have Potential which is directly linked with the adding of resistance to your movements in your warm up sets which causes increased muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment, this will help you lift heaver weights.
 
Your warm up might look like this.
 
Mobility routine to raise pulse and mobilise.
 
Warm Up sets on lift to activate/potential muscle.
 
Squats:
 
– Warm Up Set 1 – Bar x10 – feels fine
– Warm Up Set 2 – 40kg x5 – left hip feeling stiff – foam roll 20 sec
-Warm Up Set 3 – 60kg x5 – feels fine
– Warm Up Set 4 – 80kg x3 – left glute doesn’t feel like it’s firing – band around ankle for 15-25x abduction on left leg
– Warm Up Set 5 – 100kg x3 – feels fine
– Warm Up Set 6 – 120kg x1 – feel fine
– Warm Up Set 7 – 140kg x1 – feels fine – last warm up set
– Working Sets 5x5x125kg
– Working Set 1/5 – felt fine
 
And so on.
 
Give it a go and you’ll find your workouts are more productive and also far more time efficient. After all, it’s better to spend 10-15min doing this and being able to get in to your working sets than it is to follow a 30min instgram activation routine before even stepping foot near a bar.
 
If you would like a nice technical read then please take a look at this link:
 
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Step 1: Get up earlier

How do you start your day?
For many it is by seeking out every last second they can in bed, followed by a lacklustre meal, usually cereal of something convenient and then off to work, however before th sit down at their desk this is some form of coffee laden drink at their side because they just can’t function without one.
Does this sound like you?
If it does the chances are you’re not quite in the shape that you desire and have that lovely spare tyre around your midsection, not to mention you struggle to focus and always feel tired/crap.
Sound familiar?
A lot of people got to be too late, get up as close to the rise as possible and inadequately fuel their body.
Today we shall look at a nice little routine for the mornings that will achieve the following:
– Better body composition
– Optimal health
– Mental focus
– Create a positive new habit & lifestyle change
Here is how you do it in 5 easy to follow steps.
Step 1: Get up earlier, stand by the bed and take 10 deep breaths, this will help wake you up
Step 2: 10min Kettlebell Workout upon waking, you can choose what to do
Step 3: Shower & get ready for work
Step 4: Make a nutritious meal of breakfast, perhaps salmon, eggs and spinach
Step 5: Don’t buy coffee, you don’t need it, opt for water instead
I can already hear a lot of people complaining and coming up with their excuses, if you’re one of them that’s okay, I’m not interested in those who don’t want to help themselves so you may continue as you are.
If you’re one of the few who has read this and wants to make a change then I salute you.
You owe your health to no one, especially not me, do it for yourself and make the positive lifestyle changes you need to succeed.
Enjoy,
Ross

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Level Up

What level of training are you currently at?
 
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
 
Or more importantly, which one do you see your self falling in to because there are a lot who try to take on routines that are above their capability to sustain and recover from.
 
We’ve all been guilty of trying to punch above out weight at some point and while it can be sustained for a brief period it’s never too long before the wheels fall off the wagon and things start to go wrong.
 
Here are some common mistakes encountered:
 
– A large increase in volume
– Higher levels of intensity
– More frequency
– Inappropriate specificity
– Variable training density progression
 
The thought process of the many is that ‘more is better’ when in fact it’s just more, better is better and that usually means progression and individual specificity.
 
When it comes to establishing what level of training you’re actually at that is where things get a little tricky because it will depend on what you’re training for.
 
Most of the time it’s said that anyone who’s trained less than 2 years is a beginner, 3-5 is an intermediate and more than this is advanced, however I feel that is a very flawed approach because unless progression has been achieved in each year then you could get someone who has been ‘training’ for 10 years and still fall in to the realms of a beginner.
 
To determine where you sit you’ll want to look at these elements:
 
– Strength levels in compound movements
– VO2 Max
– Skills
– Progress achieved
 
You might be advanced in some, beginner in others, it happens. The ones you want to access unwell be those that are specifically suited to helping you achieve your goal.
 
Let’s take bodybuilding as the example and see what makes and advanced practitioner.
 
Have you achieved the following:
 
– A notable increase in lean body mass (20+ lbs from starting)
– Visible abs and residual muscle definition all year round
– Aesthetic change to your body
– High level of muscular control (feeling each of the muscles working when training them)
– Optimally proportioned symmetry, no chicken legs.
– Basically you look jacked an tan
 
If you’ve got all of those then the chances are you’re someone who would be considered advanced, at the very least a high level intermediate.
 
The style of training that would come along with this may fall in to the realms of high volume, moderate intensity with a body training split for higher frequency. Then you’d have the nutrition which would allow full recovery and progress.
 
If a beginner tried to jump on this they’d fail to make progress simply because it would be to much for their underdeveloped body to take on.
 
Make sense?
 
Take a look at your training and honestly assess your ability because you might be doing a routine that is simply too advanced for you and that’s why you’re struggling to make progress.
 
I say this because I’ve been there, don’t make that same mistake.
 
Earn your stripes, have a coach who will help you level up and don’t be in a rush to become advanced just to please your ego.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Take my strong hand!

Are you uneven?
 
While the pursuit of strength is the most important element of many good training programs there is a lot to be said for being aesthetically balanced.
 
Apart from looking symmetrical you’ll also be more protected from injury.
 
Typically you’ll find people have one strong and one weak side (often the hand the write with gets more development), this can lead to overall muscle imbalance which starts to take you down the winding road towards of poor posture.
 
It’s not uncommon to hear this little gem:
 
“I can do 10 reps with this weight on this arm but only 5 on my other one.”
 
Now since common sense has long since vanished from our world you’ll find people laugh at this and continue to work the stronger side harder than the weaker one because their idiots.
 
A nice tip I give people in response to this statement is this:
 
“Start with your weaker arm and max out the reps, them match it on your stronger one.”
 
This is often followed by confusion as they say ‘but I can do more on that arm.”, due inevitable face palm.
 
Aside from matching reps on both sides it’s also a good idea to use unilateral movements to even up muscle/strength imbalances.
 
Here are some examples:
 
– Dumbbell Pressing
– Dumbbell Rowing
– Lunges
– Single Leg Deadlifts
– Single Arm Pulldowns
 
You get the idea.
 
While it is true you won’t replace compound movements (bilateral) in terms of getting the most out of your workouts, it can be useful to add in periods where you focus on some unilateral movements as accessory work to help even out those lagging areas.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
 

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