Monthly Archives: January 2018

5 Things you can learn from labourers.

Especially those of the past (before the endless red tape came in to play), you know the ones, they seem have that coveted ‘old man strength’ or ‘dad strength’ as some call it.
 
These are they type of people that have never visited a gym, ever, yet they are in reasonably good shape, which might be a bit better if they laid of the beer.
 
That said, they are often strong, stupidly strong, not to mention durable and just mentally tough too.
 
A far cry from he modern desk jockey of today.
 
We’d be silly not to pay homage to these people and their work ethic as we can learn a lot from them.
 
So, let’s see what little gems we can find amongst the dirt and rubble.
 
1 – Work capacity is important.
 
Take for example the necessity to shift a few tonnes of gravel or slate in the space of a day.
 
You’re not going to be able to do this without having the following: Strength Endurance, General CV Endurance, Mental Fortitude.
 
Not to mention shifting it isn’t an option, it’s a must, that helps too.
 
2 – The muscle in the back of your body are important.
 
Look at anyone who works in a physical capacity and you will find that most of them usually have a decent set of muscle through their posterior chain.
 
This is due to a lot of loaded carries, full/partial deadlifts, holding things close to their chest and pulling things towards them and/or putting them on their shoulders (like a rope, buckets, barrels etc).
 
Without a strong back they wouldn’t be much good on site.
There were also many times where something would need to be picked up from the floor and put overhead too, without the use of equipment, all day long as well. Talk about a full body workout.
 
3 – They do what they HAVE to, no pissing or whinging.
 
Well, some whinge however they still crack on in the end, after a tea break or 5.
 
Do what is needed, simple.
 
4 – Cast iron grip strength.
 
Have you ever shook the hand of a mechanic or someone who constantly works with their hands?
 
God damn… It’s like a vice.
 
Once the have hold of something that’s pretty much it, they’re not letting go unless they have too.
 
Have you ever shifted tonnes of dirt in a wheel barrow all day?
 
(It’s essentially a day of partial deadlifts and farmers walks)
 
It’s grudging and apart form a strong back, traps, glutes and legs you need some major grip strength/endurance because without it you’ll fall behind and find yourself out of work.
 
5 – Repeatedly lifting Sub-Maximal loads build muscle.
 
You see some labourers that are giants, other not so much.
 
So why is this?
 
What is the difference between the two?
 
Some would say genetics, and they’re not entirely wrong, however knowing a great many people in this field I can tell you the MAIN difference is the sheer amount of FOOD they consume.
 
Those that eat like little mice, become lean, strong and robust, where are those that eat like elephants become sizeable, strong and look physically quite dominant.
 
This is all caused by a combination of the repeated bout effect (lifting sub max loads often) and of course calories consumed.
 
So there you have it.
 
People in the past were just stronger due to the physical nature of their lives – true for both men & women.
 
Keep that in mind.
 
5 things you can learn from labourers and hopefully apply.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Strong side, weak side

Unilateral work.
 
A sure fire way to have your body even up any potential imbalances.
 
How much do you do?
 
Morning All,
 
Working one side of your body at a time is a worthy investment of your time.
 
That said, there is a reason many shy away from doing it.
 
Their ego.
 
Doing this style of lifting will naturally reduce the weights that you’re going to be able to lift.
 
It might also take a little longer to complete all your sets/reps too as you have to do both sides equally.
 
Regardless of those two considerations, doing this is still something you’d benefit from having in your training regime and perhaps even focusing on for a few months.
 
Unilateral training will also help keep you honest as well.
 
If you aim to lift with solid from and not allow your body to shift in to places to allow for a more beneficial leverage that is.
 
Apart from getting strong and balanced, you will also forge a rock solid core and excellent ability to create total body tension from all the extra stability that is required.
 
Here are some movements for your consideration that will give you the most bang for your buck.
 
– Barbell Pressing (single arm)
– Lunges & Pistol Squats
– Deadlift (single leg or suitcase)
– Waiter walk or farmers walk (single arm)
– Rows (single arm body weight, dumbbell, etc)
 
There are lots more options, however even doing a simple routine of single arm press ups & pistol squats (ala Pavel’s Naked Warrior – get this book) is tough when done correctly.
 
Then imagine working towards a OAPU (one arm pull up), now that is a feat of strength indeed.
 
If you find your training has taken a stale turn, add in some of the above.
 
Here is a suggestion:
 
*Always start on your weaker side first, match the amount of good reps you get on this side with your stronger side, DO NOT do it the other way around.
 
Pull day –
A1 – Deadlift variation (bilateral)
B1 – Unilateral pulling movement
C1 – Unilateral pulling movement
 
Push day –
A1 – Press variation (bilateral)
B1 – Unilateral pushing movement
C1 – Unilateral pushing movement
 
Leg day –
A1 – Squat variation (bilateral)
B1 – Unilateral squat/hinge movement
C1 – Unilateral squat/hinge movement
 
Sets/reps & load are up to you, I’d suggest this:
 
A1 – 80%+, <25 total reps (8×3, 12×2, 5×5, 6×4, 4×6, etc)
B1 – Ladder sets of either 1-10, 1-7, 1-5 – 50-100 reps total
C1 – Ladder sets of either 1-10, 1-7, 1-5 – 50-100 reps total
 
The ladder set would mean you do one rep one side, then one rep the other, then two on the first side, two on the second and so on until you hit your target.
 
Aim to complete a full 1-10 ladder without breaking any of the sets, if you do, match the second side to the failed amount of reps on the first, then you start again at 1 rep both sides and start climbing again.
 
Ladders also work well if a time limit is set, something like 10-20min etc.
 
Simple.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A trick to mass from the past

What happened to 20 rep sets?
 
At one point in time they were at the height of popularity, especially for the squat.
There was also the recommendation of eating plenty of nutritious food while doing this, it worked back then, chances are it still works now.
However….
 
The options don’t just stop with squats though.
 
Oh no.
 
You can do them on a multitude of movements in fact.
 
As such here is something for you to consider to spice up you training.
 
Aim to hit this for a minimum of three months (12 weeks).
 
Split – Pull/Push/Legs – hit each group every 3-5 days.
 
Rep/set protocol – 5-4-3-2-1-20, add weight and ramp to a heavy (not max) single to potentiate the nervous system, this of this as an extended warm up.
 
For the 20 rep sets use 60% of you technical max (the weight you can do for 1 rep with perfect form)
 
If you hit all 20 add some weight to that number next session.
 
Session examples:
 
Pull –
A1 – Deadlift variation 5-4-3-2-1-20
B1 – Chin 2×20 (aim to build to this)
C1 – Row or Curl 12-10-8-6
 
Push –
A1 – Pressing variation 5-4-3-2-1-20
B1 – Dip 2×20 (aim to build to this)
C1 – Fly or Skull Crusher 12-10-8-6
 
Legs –
A1 – Squat variation 5-4-3-2-1-20
B1 – Walking Lunge 2×20 (aim to build to this)
C1 – Hamstring Curl 12-10-8-6
C2 – Calve Raise 4×25-50
 
The main aim is to build on those 20 rep sets on the main lifts for some solid mass gains.
 
The B1 exercise is meant to further your progress, just keep in mind the weights will be dictated by the reps you can perform with good form.
 
If you don’t hit all the reps in one set, do not fret, just stop there and aim to hit them all next session.
 
Only once you can hit all the reps with unbroken form do you add some weight to the movements.
 
You’ll be surprised how you much progress you can milk from this style of training, however if mass is you goal you will need to ensure you are in a caloric surplus and eat lots of nutritious/energy dense foods.
 
If fat loss is your aim this type of method works for you too, the main difference is in the nutrition and overall calories consumed, you need to be in a slight deficit. Think a lot of veg and lean meats.
 
Enjoy.
Ross

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Physical Culture

These days it doesn’t take much to make a change, not really.

We have endless options at our disposal in the realm of physical culture, yet many still don’t see any value in it.

The classic excuses come out and one of the main reasons for this is because that in each persons social circle they may indeed not need to do anything as they could be the big fish int heir small pond.

They might be the fittest, leanest, strongest, and so on.

Yet the second they step out of this place they are hit by anxious thoughts, often they will say “I don’t like X, people are too judgemental their.”.

I can tell you one truth, no one really gives a shit about what you’re doing, not really – especially in the gym.

As a people we should always be looking to better ourselves, may won’t, however perhaps they should.

Let us say in your group you are top dog, this is all well and good, especially for your ego, however it’s not conducive to progress.

If you are top dog it might be time to leave your current social circle and find a better one, a tougher one that will force you to start at the bottom again.

This goes for business and a great many other things too.

One sure fire way to light a fire under your ass is to find people that are better than you, never be content with being the dominant force, always be the once chasing because it will keep you sharp, hungry and most importantly, humble.

Or don’t, the choice is yours.

Enjoy,
Ross

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What needs to be done

Goals are interesting things.

Often they are arbitrary in their nature, just a means to an end, or rather a distraction.

Just things to keep one busy.

It is not uncommon for people to play a finite game and set goals that take them sideways in life, rather than forwards.

Perhaps because what they are aiming for is not of their own volition.

Instead of goals, wouldn’t it be novel if people did things based on their passion, desire or as some call it, the infinite game.

Those who tend to do this are the ones who just do what needs to be done.

You’ll find there is no distraction, just action.

A great many these ways will find things to stop them having to face real life as it were.

This happens year to year until eventually father time has almost run out and then they say things such as “I would have achieved this if is wasn’t for that.” or “If I had X, I would have gotten Y.” and maybe even “If I knew then what I knew now.” or other classics to justify their mundane life.

Not that this is necessarily a bad way to live, after all not everyone can see their own limitations and either do what needs to be done to keep moving forwards or admit that perhaps a different course of action is better.

If you look at the people who we can call successful you will see that they are not always what you expect.

They didn’t always have the best start, all the resources they needed, any of the desired opportunities and much more, however they are often the ones who stuck it out for the long haul and after years of paying their dues were finally rewarded.

Look at people in education.

They go to school, college, uni, then go on to doing further degrees, masters, PHD’s or similar, then end up not getting the position they want for a lack of experience, usually because they chose to stay distracted from the real world and accepting that to finish with not only all the bells & whistles, also experience they’d have to struggle, and I mean really struggle by working for a pittance in the field they want toe excel in so that when they came out the other end of the grinder they’d hit the ground running.

You’d be surprised how many will always have reasons as to why they didn’t achieve, yet very few ever look at what needs to be done, perhaps because their goals are arbitrary distractions, or worse, not even their own.

To find your own drive, your own passion.

That is the infinite game.

The one that will have you moving forwards, not sideways or in a circle on the spot.

It’s never easy to accept that things are often harder before they are better, especially when ‘harder’ isn;t a short term thing, it’s something that often lasts decades and even lifetimes.

Which will you be?

Will you create distractions to keep you busy or will you face the real challenge?

Just some food for thought.

Enjoy,

Ross

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The 3 Plate Sandwich

Do you ever do plate sandwich walks?
 
If not you should, they’re great for strengthening your upper body.
 
Morning all,
 
I also call these ‘plate compression walks’ however the one above sounds more fun.
 
They’re quite simple, yet very effective.
 
Take three plates, say 2x10kg & 1x5kg.
 
The 10’s are on the outside and the 5 is in the middle.
 
Keeping your hands flat (think palm pressure🙏), press the plates together hard, if you see your elbows slightly tucked you will feel this a lot in your pecs/lats.
 
From here go for a walk and only stop when you can’t hold the isometric contraction and longer.
 
Repeat for 10min, or longer if you choose.
 
You can of course to this with only 1 or 2 plates, I’ve just found three makes like rather interesting.
 
This also works great with kettlebells 🤗
 
Add this to your workouts and you’ll find upper body strength & progress you didn’t know you had in you.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Three important lessons you can learn from athletes & apply them to your life.

Morning all,
 
It’s fair to say we admire athletes.
 
Not simply for the way they can bring people together with their astonishing achievements or world record breaking efforts, it’s also because they’re humans, just like us.
 
They might be faster, stronger, more dedicated and generally better in every aspect, however they’re still human 😂
 
As such here are three things you can take away from them and apply to your life for the better.
 
1 – They do what they need to do regardless of how they feel.
 
Athletes don’t make excuses, not really, they just get on with the task as hand, unlike you.
 
Nothing stands in their way of achieving their goal, now before you start saying “I have a job, house etc etc”, did you know that until they make it BIG, so do they.
 
The difference is that they kept moving forwards, even when life problems cropped up, they still struggled on.
 
This is a lesson you’d do well to listen to and apply.
 
2 – They always have a plan.
 
Now this plan might not be of their of imagination, it might be something of a coaches/mentors design.
 
The point is this, the have one and as such also have answers for when the plan starts to fall apart or needs adapting.
 
Average people don’t have a plan, they try and wing it, unsuccessfully I might add.
 
If you can’t create a plan yourself, don’t stress, ask someone for help, get yourself a mentor/coach, in the long run it will be worth it, trust me.
 
If you want people to put their faith in you, you must also eb willing to put your faith in others.
 
3 – There is only the next mission.
 
Now I could have used the word goal, however goal is meek because everyone has a goal, several in fact, of which many go unachieved.
 
Athletes have a mission, one that is fuelled by a passion and drive that is above and beyond what many can comprehend.
 
They just do things because it’s just what they do.
 
It’s all they know.
 
Taking a page out of this book and developing your own indomitable spirit is something that would benefit you in a multitude of ways ranging from more conviction in your decisions to an unwavering resolve to stick with something, for better or worse.
 
If you take these simple lessons and apply even on to your life, you’ll be several steps ahead of a great many people, just have some faith in yourself and do it.
 
Bonus lesson – They know when enough is enough.
 
Now it would be great to think that we can overcome any limitation, any barrier, break any & all plateaus, however that is just not true, it’s a fools dream.
 
This also relates to being at the top too.
 
Even the worlds best athletes know they have limits that they will not exceed, this is where they have a large support network of coaches, mentors, friends and close family to help them see the perspectives that they might be blind to themselves.
 
Sometimes a dream might just not be in your grasp, however that doesn’t mean you give up entirely, you just accept that enough is enough and rather than giving up, you refocus and look towards the next mission.
 
You might be the one to do it all and change the world, even with such an achievement there will be a limit to how long you can stay their, int he end you will need to accept enough is enough and step down.
 
Just like a world champion that retires so the new blood can come through, they don’t disappear, they just change their place in the play and become the mentor/coach.
 
Giving up never did anyone any good, however neither did trying to achieve something that was never in their reach to begin with or holding on to a glory longer than they should.
 
Learn to accept what is, what isn’t and what will never be.
 
Smile at these things, embrace or let them go.
 
All glories must fade, enjoy them while you can and let go when you must.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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8 Tips to help improve your deadlift.

Some call this the King of lifts.
 
Whether you think this deserves that title of perhaps the Snatch, Clean & Jerk or Squat are better suited to it, we can all agree that there is nothing most satisfying that hoisting a hefty weight off the floor to a solid lock out.
 
It’s a truly great feeling.
 
If you’ve hit a bit of a plateau with yours, here are some tips to help you hit some new numbers 🙂
 
1 – Film yourself
 
Ideally you want to get all of your lifts on camera, that way you can make sure your form is on point.
 
2 – Get a stronger grip
 
People will complain that their grip give out, this is cool and means that they can work on it.
 
Adding in Farmers Walks with your bodyweight (50% each hand) for 10 sets of 15-30 seconds (rest double the time you did) 2-3 times per week will fortify this fingers of yours.
 
3 – Reset every rep
 
No bouncing of any deadlift.
 
Ideally place the bar down, step away, step back in, set up again and lift, repeat for your desired amount of reps.
 
This is a great way to groove your set up form and makes for some interesting sets of 5.
 
4 – Add front squats/pause FS to your training
 
These have a nice carry over effect to deadlifts because you have to stay tight and hold posture to make the lift, especially the pause variations.
 
Aim for 15-25 reps in a session, capping the reps per set limit at 3, so that might be 8×3, 12×2, 5×3, 15×1, and so on.
 
5 – Super slow eccentrics
 
You deadlift as normal, while fusing on keeping your form a solid and tight as possible.
 
Next hold the bar at the top for 5 seconds, then proceed to lower over the next 10 seconds, do singles only for this and use anywhere from 50-70% of your max weight you can hit with solid form.
 
Easy on paper, ridiculously hard in practice.
 
6 – Remember the deadlift is a hinge
 
If you watch good pullers they have the following in common:
 
– Almost vertical shin at set up and second part of the pull
– Hips just higher than knees, shoulders just higher than hips
– They push the floor away
– They push their hips forwards
– They keep the bar close
– Tension is not lost at any point in the set up or the lift
 
A lot of people try to squat a deadlift, as such the squat it off the floor (badly), then continue to back extend the weight he rest of the way up and wonder why they hurt themselves.
 
Here is a great little resource explaining this (it’s easier to watch than read):
 
 
Your DL might take a hit in terms of numbers lifted while you re-pattern, however it will be worth it in the end.
 
7 – Strengthen your back
 
This might seem obvious however you’d be surprised how many people put most of their training focus in to pressing and wonder why they have a crap pull.
 
Bent over rows, pull ups, pull downs (various grips), single arm rows, bear hug carries, face pulls, reverse flies are only a few examples of back exercises, make sure you get in some solid volume for your back and make it grow.
 
You’ll also find the bigger your back is the better at pressing you become as your back is responsible for stabilising you and the stronger it is, the stronger human being you will be.
 
8 – Stop chasing weight
 
Kind of a contradiction to this entire post, yet a very relevant one.
 
Time in the gym is meant for BUILDING STRENGTH, not testing it.
 
Many are guilty of testing too often in the gym and wonder why they never make progress.
 
Ego must be left at the door. If you can pull 5 plates, that’s great just don’t think you have to pull 5 plates every time you’re in the gym otherwise people will think you’re weak, they won’t, they don’t care about what you lift, trust me.
 
In the gym sticking between 70-85% of your max is more than enough to help you build some impressive strength and avoid snapping yourself up.
 
If you need to lift some big weights for instagram do what most of those who are famous on it do and buy some fake weights for your videos, simple 😂
 
There you have it, 8 tips to help you improve your deadlift.
 
Obviously don’t try to do them all at once.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Thoughtless Thoughts

There is always a lot of conflicting information in the world.

Be that from points of view based on experience, or substantial evidence that goes against a persons long held beliefs.

Now there isn’t much I can teach people about mindset, not really.

Most know as much as they will ever need to know.

It doesn’t matter if they are correct in their assumption or not, as far as they care, they know enough and that’s cool.

We are not really hear to tell people what should or shouldn’t be done, if we did it takes away their responsibility or at least their need to claim responsibility for their own choice.

It’s easy to say “I did X because Y told me to.”.

This is something we do from a young age because we are conditioned to follow orders, yet ironically not he other side of the coin we are told to think, act, feel and do four ourselves, so long as it fits in with everyone else’s & the larger agenda.

Much conundrum there is.

Be kind, but not too kind you become a door mat.
Be strong, but not too strong you become cold.
Be confident, but not too confident.

The list goes on.

I’d like you to sit and just think about yourself for a second.

What do you want?

Honestly, just you, clear your mind of all the initial thoughts because the chances they are not your thoughts is very high, they are conditioned ideas & responses, they’re not your responses.

Freedom of thought, such a scary thing when you’re used to being told how to think for so long.

So I will ask again, what do YOU want?

I don’t just mean fitness related by the way.

Take some time out, away from the world and all it’s technology and just sit quietly, don’t dwell on thoughts that come in, let them come and go, eventually you will start to hear your own thoughts and not everyone else’s.

Enjoy,
Ross

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1/2 a kilo per session = long term progression

Half a kilo each session.
 
That’s all you need to add to the main lifts.
 
Devilishly simple, some may even say dull, yet super effective.
 
It give your body plenty of time to master the weight.
 
You will not miss any reps (well, you shouldn’t if you start at the correct load).
 
Here is how it’s laid out:
 
Main lift:
 
– Working set/rep options 2×5, 3×3, 5×2
– Warm up sets are as needed
– Pick a large compound movement e.g: Squat, Press, Deadlift, Chin etc
– Rest 3-5min
 
Loading & Progression:
 
– 2x5x70%, 3x3x75%, 5x2x80%
– Add half a kilo to the main lift each session without fail, hence the low starting weights.
 
Accessory work:
 
– 1-3 lifts depending on your time available
– 2-3 sets
– 6-25 reps
– Loading will be dictated but the reps chosen
– Rest 1-2min
 
Split:
 
– Legs/Push/Pull
– Hit each every 3-5 days ideally
 
This can last for months and months and months, I’d change up the accessory lifts every 2-3 weeks to keep things interesting, however the main lifts can be milked for all they are worth as it will take 20sessions to add 10kg to the weight you’re starting at.
 
Avoid the temptation to rush.
 
That’s it.
 
Nothing fancy, however it works very well for developing strength skill, your accessory work will give you either a bolster on strength, hypertrophy, fat loss etc depending on how you plan those.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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