Do you want change or simply like the idea of it?

Three things that stop you making a change for the better.
 
– Ego
– Bias
– Excuses
 
Now these may seem obvious, however people let their get in the way far too often.
 
The ego fears dying.
 
The bias fears being proved wrong.
 
The excuses fears their invalidity.
 
Now take a second and see these simple musings this way…
 
You fear change because it means an old part of you dies, even if this part of you was self-destructive and of no benefit to your life.
 
You fear change because it means what you felt was right was only right because you looked for things to make it so, you sought out bias answers that you wanted to hear, rather than what you actually needed to hear.
 
You fear change because once you start making it you have two accept that your excuses were just that, excuses.
 
Do people want to hear this?
 
No.
 
Do they need to hear this?
 
Yes.
 
In the end we hold the cards in our own hand, we have the ultimate final say.
 
Context will play a part in our choices, however they are still our choices and as such we don’t have to make them if we don’t want to, not really.
 
As a fellow human I want people to be happy.
 
To make the changes that will make them smile and live a good life.
 
That said, I can’t make a choice or a change for you, that’s up to you.
 
Reflect on your life, give it some thought and once you have ask yourself this –
 
Do I want change or do I just like the idea of change?
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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4 techniques to getting stronger.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be considered strong.
 
Being strong is awesome.
 
It makes you more robust, improves your health*, changes your quality of life and above all else it looks pretty bad ass.
*Provided your nutrition and overall lifestyle isn’t self destructive.
 
Strength is a funny thing.
 
You’re either strong or you’re not and to what degree of strength you have simply boils down to wha you need it for, after all, strength is simply the ability to perform a given task much like fitness.
 
So how strong s hold you be?
 
As strong as YOU need is the answer.
 
Okay, enough philosophical thoughts.
 
Time for some techniques.
 
1 – Paused Reps
 
A classic that is still relevant to this day.
 
It’s great for helping you generate and more importantly hold tension in a lift, plus it will get you over sticking points.
 
You simply pause your rep in one or more locations throughout the lifts ROM, it’s that easy.
 
Most will pause at the hardest part of the ROM, in a squat this would be at the bottom as coming out of the hole is hardest for most people.
 
For a deadlift you may choose to pause mid shin, then continue the lift.
 
My recommendation is to do anywhere up to 25-30 total reps for this style of training, that could mean 5×5 or 12×2, perhaps only 3×3 or 4×4, you pick your poison.
 
2 – Singles
 
Another classic, however there’s a slight twist.
 
Again you’d do well to limit the total reps to around 25-30, however here is how you might set it out:
 
– 1 lift per workout for this protocol
– 80-90% 1RM load on the bar
– Perform 1 rep on the minute every minute (EMOM)
– Stick with a load % until you can hit all 30 reps, then incase load of change the lift variation
 
The idea of this is to build volume at a decent intensity level, having to start each rep will help you groove the form and the skill of the lift.
 
My favourites for this are the Deadlift and Presses.
 
3 – Speed Work
 
Increasing your rate of force development (RFD) will help you get stronger as you’ll find you may already have the base strength needed to make a lift, however you’re just too slow.
 
Dave Tate speaks about this at length at Elite FTS, check out his work, it’s mind-blowing stuff as he is crazy smart.
 
Back on topic, speed work.
 
You take 50-65% of your max and perform sets of reps as explosively as possible (ensure good form).
 
You’ll find the 25-30 rep total is again a good bench mark to go for.
 
Concentrate on making each rep as crisp and fast as possible, you will also be limiting your rest, top end being 60 seconds, no more.
 
This method is great for not only boosting RFD but also getting in a good amount of volume in a short space of time.
 
You may think that this won’t help you get strong, it will, trust me. Most strong people are actually pretty fast, just watch any world record lifts and you’ll find the majority look effortlessly fast for the most part.
 
4 – Eccentrics
 
Yet again another tried and tested method.
 
Loading up an exercises will over your max with 110-130% of 1RM and lowering it as slowly as possible is great for helping you break through plateaus.
 
Due to the highly demanding nature of these lifts I’d advise most people to make sure they have spotters and aim for 3-5 sets of 1-3 reps, limiting this rep total to 15 as it can be quite taxing.
 
You will also do well to use this method for 2-3 weeks tops.
 
Doing them it never seems like much, however if you’re using 130% of your max I can tell you it is soul destroying, don’t fall victim to your ego on this, especially with compound lifts.
 
This is great for Chins, Dips, Curls and other such exercises, I’d be a tad weary of doing it with squats and DL unless you’re a very accomplished lifter.
 
There you have it.
 
4 simple techniques that have all been proven to work.
 
Use one method at a time, don’t be a hero and try to do more than one or combine them because you will snap your self up.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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6-10 week protocol to a new PB for you & your clients – new twist on a classic.

If you’re not interested in hitting some new PB’s, that’s cool, feel free to skip reading this.

Let’s say you are interested though, keep reading.

Below you’ll find a simple protocol to help you improve on one or multiple lifts.

This is not something you’d find in body building very often, it’s for people who chase strength.

The information in question is a favourite of many a Russian athlete oddly enough and one I’ve done many times to hit new heights.

I first learnt of this from reading older writing by Dr Fred Hatfield, if you’ve not read any of his books you should, they’re amazing resources.

As you may have guessed I quite like the Russian methodology.

Here is the premise:

– 80% 1RM is starting load, 105% is the end game
– Double Progression is applied
– Intensity is increased incrementally
– Train a 2-3 times per week
– Rest as needed
– Stay tough and you’ll reap the rewards
– Don’t get greedy, follow the protocol

This is how the classic program looks based on 3 days training per week (Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thur-Sat):

*All 6x sets are at 80% 1RM, % changes will be listed below.

^^ If you don’t know yours or your clients 1RM, use an RM calculator to establish an estimated one and go from there.

Week 1
– 6x2x80% 1RM*
– 6×3* (the volume progression begins)
– 6×2*

Week 2
– 6×4*
– 6×2*
– 6×5*

Week 3
– 6×2*
– 6×6*
– 6×2*

Week 4
– 5x5x85% 1RM
– 6×2*
– 4x4x90%

Week 5
– 6×2*
– 3x3x95%
– 6×2*

Week 6
– 2x2x100% (old 1RM)
– 6×2*
– 1x1x105% (aim for a new 1RM)

Week 7 Deload

Congratulations, a new PB to help you drive up old RM’s and add some much sought after muscle/strength.

Thats the typical way to do it, however if you’re short on time then this  may be of use.

The new twist for those short on time –

If you with to do this twice per week the cycle will end up being 10 weeks long (9 with the last being a deload).

Week 1
– 6×2*
– 6×3*

Week 2
– 6×4*
– 6×2*

Finally

Week 9 – Week 10 Deload
– 6×2*
– 1x1x105% (aim for new 1 RM)

From experience you can pair two lifts together when doing this and PB on both so long as they don’t interfere with each other.

It’s also good because you get a heavy day and a light day each week meaning you can really go for it each heavy session as it makes the overall progression far more manageable.

For example:

DL & Press (or weighted dip)
Squat & Pull Up
Bench Press & Row

You’ll find that some token accessory work of say 30 reps per accessory lift is enough to help the other lifts keep up and maintain some form of muscular balance.

Here is how I planned my sessions using the twice per week training schedule. I was forced to train this way because of upcoming events and life doing what it does best, however I hit new numbers and intact made progress.

Sometimes less really is more.

Lifting Day 1 & 2:
A1 – DL – sets/reps as above
B1 – Press – sets/reps as above
B2 – Chin – 5 reps each set
C1 – Squat 1×10-20

  • I would add in perhaps some postural work and make a few sets for smaller muscle groups if I had time
  • You can also add in some CV training (sprints etc) a couple of times per week that don’t require you going to a gym

The funny thing with this is it’s so simple people will ignore it.

We live in a world where people think that unless they’ve destroyed themselves they haven’t had a good training session.

This is not true.

Especially when you look at MRV (maximum recoverable volume) vs MED (minimal effective dose), however that’s for another day.

Give the above a go and see how you fair.

Enjoy,

Ross

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Make progress with one set!

Something you may have heard or read in the past.
 
Is it true?
 
Yes, however you’ll need to know exactly what is meant by ‘one set’.
 
When people write or speak about making progress with the above, they don’t mean you literally only do one set.
 
What they mean is that you’re going to do one ‘working set’, you don’t include your warm ups in the mix, which could be was little as two sets or as many as 10 depending on how strong you are.
 
A working set is classes as an amount of reps performed at the target weight.
 
You also have the classic 3×10 by Delorme/Watkins which was as follows:
 
– 1x10x50% 10RM (warm up)
– 1x10x75% 10RM (warm up)
and finally…
1x10x100% 10RM (working set)
 
Going you one working set.
 
If we took the classic 3×8, this means 3 working sets, not including warm ups.
 
If you ever read Brawn, you’d find that lots of the programs had things like this written:
 
Squat 1×20
Press 2×5
Chin 1×6-8
etc
 
All of these are the working sets, as you cans occasionally they had 2 working sets.
 
The idea of this set is to much you to your limits and perhaps add some small amount of weight to be bar, improve the form, do it while having less rest and so on.
 
You could manipulate any variable to get progress so long as you made progress.
 
– Volume – perhaps got an extra rep at or 2 the same weight
– Intensity – lifted more total weight on the bar
– Density – had less rest than previously
– Frequency – performed this feat twice in a week instead of once
 
When you take a look at the principles behind this long spoken method of training it’s fair to say they’re pretty solid because they leave you nowhere to hide.
 
If you limit yourself to only one hard set, you’re more likely to give it your all and try to better that set in any which way you can.
 
The more modern approach of “Do all the sets & all the reps!” isn’t bad by any means, however it does often leave people working sub-optimally which is why some struggle to make any form of progress.
 
The repeated bout effect or repetition method is a solid one, that’s not being disputed, however those who get the most out of this are the ones who’ve spent a decent chunk of time hitting one hard ‘working set’ in the past.
 
You may also find working sets are called ‘top sets’ which can be found in those who follow a daily lifting routine – ala Bulgarian style training and daily maxing.
 
So, should you try this style of training protocol?
 
Yes, no, maybe, I really don’t know.
 
It certainly works, however if you’re making progress with what you’re doing then there’s no sense in changing, if not though, perhaps you might find this useful.
 
If you decide to work for top sets here are some pointers of where to start:
 
Top set recommendations:
Squat: 5-10
Presses: 5
Pulls: 6-8
DL: 3-5
Accessory lifts: 8-12
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Training Hard or Training Smart?

Train smart not hard.

A classic line.

Let’s look at why training hard is training smart.

Morning All,

In the world of lifting it’s common for people to use the phrase ‘train mart not hard’ and it’s quite easy to see why this is said.

This isn’t going to be technical.

Just a simple way of looking at it all.

Before we go on here is what people typically think about hard/smart training.

Training Hard:

– Lifting Heavy
– A lot of volume
– Keeping everything on the nerve
– Toughening up & pushing past old limits to force adaptation

Training Smart:

– Having a solid plan of progression
– Knowing your periods of pushing & backing off
– Listening to ones body
– Training specifically for the goal

Okay, if you look at both the concepts and how they’re typically perceived, you will see there is some similarities.

A lot of similarities.

You often find people who just preach ‘train hard’ are all about intensity.

Those who say ‘train smart’ are all about the planning.

The fact is that training hard is training smart because you can’t have one without the other.

If you have the right plan with no intensity it doesn’t matter how good it is, you won’t progress because you’re not putting in any real graft.

The same is true for aimlessly lifting heavy things and killing yourself without a plan, you just end up spinning your wheels, burning out and getting hurt.

So you see you can’t have one without the other.

Here is what Smart & Hard Training looks like:

– Planned accumulation, intensification, reduction periods
– Overall progressive overload/fatigue management
– Pushing each session and hitting all the numbers
– Listening to the body and doing more if the day feels good, less if it doesn’t

Does your training look like one or the other?

To get the most optimal progress possible you need to not only train hard, you need to train smart as well, they’re intrinsically linked after all.

Enjoy,
Ross

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1-2-3 for you & me

Progress, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.
 
An old school method for strength & lean mass.
 
Morning All,
 
You may have guessed that I enjoy things from yesteryear.
 
For good reason too, I might add.
 
Everything that worked back then still works today, in fact it’s usually more effective than what most people do these days.
 
You will find many a person runs to a fitness magazine, or some form of social media for a workout routine, which is fair enough, if something is free you’d be silly not to use it.
 
The only issue is that while the info might be good, the people using it only apply around 50% effort, especially when the weights get heavy.
 
This is bad… very bad.
 
Low effort means low results.
 
This is where for those of you who are a little more focused 1-2-3 will be something you enjoy.
 
Here is what to do:
 
– Pick an exercise or two (A1/A2 fashion)
– Put some weight on the bar, say 80% of your max
– Do 1 rep, rest a little, do 2 reps, rest a little, do 3 reps, rest longer
– Add weight after each successful 1-2-3
– Do 3-5 sets
 
 
You’d be surprised how this rest pause style of protocol allows you to lift heavier than normal and get in some decent volume too.
 
You’ll find that this style of protocol is are more sustainable than a standard 5×5 with repeating weight as you can manage fatigue levels far better while still lifting heavy-ish.
 
In between each of the prescribed reps you could rest 15-30 seconds, just enough to allow you to get the next reps easily while still lifting heavy.
 
Rest 2-5min after each full set.
 
After you’ve done your reps/sets you can finish off with some loaded carries and perhaps some isolation work for weak points, or for vanity reasons, your choice.
 
This is so easy to apply you’ll probably ignore it.
 
You can use 3 week rotations before adding more total load to the bar if you choose, it will look like this:
 
Week 1: 3×1-2-3×80%
Week 2: 4×1-2-3×80%
Week 3: 5×1-2-3×80%
Week 4: 3×1-2-3×82%
And so on.
 
I’ve it a try and watch your strength, lean mass, skill in the lift and enjoyment of training soar through the roof.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Why you miss with HIIT.

Morning All,
 
HIIT (high intensity interval training) is one of the most popular training methods of a great many people these days.
 
While the concept is a solid one, it’s something that is being abused because there is only so much HIIT you can do each week.
 
Given this fact people actually end up doing MISS (moderate intensity steady state).
 
It’s not uncommon for people to do claim the do 4 and sometimes more session of HIIT per week, now the intentions are good however the body just can’t keep up with those kinds of metabolic demands.
 
I’m one to admit I couldn’t keep up with those kinds of demands and I’m actually quite conditioned.
 
If you’re one of the people doing this then I’m sorry to say that you’re not actually doing what you think you’re doing and the chances are your body composition reflects this too.
 
How many people do you know who claim to train this way, in this amount of frequency and unfortunately still have a fair amount of excess body fat, or at least more than you’d expect someone who does a lot of HIIT to have.
 
Quite a few I’d imagine.
 
One quick way to establish if your training has been successful if to test your VO2 max (the maximum or optimum rate at which the heart, lungs, and muscles can effectively use oxygen during exercise, used as a way of measuring a person’s individual aerobic capacity.).
 
You will find that most of the time people who have a high VO2 Max are typically quite lean.
 
Do you know yours?
 
If not then I suggest doing a test.
 
Here is a link to some tests and also a chart of averages:
 
 
So what can yo do with this information?
 
Well, once you know your VO2 Max you can correlate working to a % of it to your heart rate (this is what you should do for HIIT), that way when you’re training you will know where your HR should be for your intervals and so on.
 
If you do this you’ll soon find that your 4+ HIIT sessions of 1hour per week are perhaps reduced twice per week for at tops 20min.
 
Here is a quick example to try:
 
If you are lifting weights 2-3 times per week, do this after two of those sessions.
 
60 interval sprints at 92% HR (this is around 85% of your VO2 Max), rest 2min.
 
Try repeating that 5 times, this means 5min of work with 10min of rest.
 
Remember that each interval that your heart rate needs to be at or around 92% for the majority of the 60 second sprint, that’s how you maximise your training.
 
If you do this 2x per week (after you’ve lifted) you’ll notice a few things happen.
 
– Your fitness improves
– Your body fat starts to drop
– You learn what real HIIT is all about
 
It’s also advised to do perhaps 1-2 steady state sessions (70% average HR) for say 30-45min, I’d probably go for the 30min target.
 
So perhaps you weekly plan looks like this:
 
Monday – Weights + HIIT – as above
Tuesday – 30min Steady State Training (run, swim, row etc)
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – Weights + HIIT -as above
Friday – Off
Saturday – 30-45min Steady State Training – as above
Sunday – Off
 
Try it and you’ll find things start to fall in to place.
 
Oh, also ensure that if fat loss/body composition is your goal then you have a sustainable calorie deficit in place and a decent nutritional protocol.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Why 5×5 has stood the test of time

Chances are you’ve heard of the classic 5×5 workout protocol.
 
Many of the greats have done it starting off with Reg Park, ranging all the way to Arnold in his early days and is still used by many lifters of today.
 
Now something to consider is that there is no one way to perform 5×5.
 
Having the freedom to change the overall loading protocol not only helps with progression it also allows people to stave off the inevitable boredom that they may end up encountering.
 
Here’s some examples:
 
5×5 – 4 warm ups, 1 working set
5×5 – 3 warm ups, 2 working sets
5×5 – 2 warm ups, 3 working sets
5×5 – all working sets as warm up work done separately
5×5 – Heavy – Light – Medium
5×5 – Wave loading
5×5 – CAT
5×5 – Max Effort – 3-5% fatigue drop each set
5×5 – RPE loading set to set – EG 8-9rpe
5×5 – EMOM
 
Essentially you can make any adjustments you feel necessary to allow you to progress.
 
A personal favourite of mine if the H-M-L loading, as you may have guessed from my previous writings.
 
Using this protocol I’d suggest picking one lift that is lagging behind and proceed to train it 3xpw using the protocol like this:
 
H: 4 warm up sets to 1 all out set of 5
M: 5 working sets at 80% of your all out 5 on H day
L: 2-3 working sets at 80% of your all out 5 on H day
M: 5 working sets at 80% of your all out 5 on H day
H: 4 warm up sets to 1 all out set of 5
Repeat the above
 
You’ll notice that this give you plenty of sessions between heavy days, 3 to be exact.
 
This will allow your body to recovery and adapt to the 80% of your old 5, when the time comes around for the next all out heavy day your aim it to perhaps add a little bit of weight or maybe even complete the same heavy 5 you did before but with better form/speed etc.
 
If you hit a weight repeat then you’d take 85% of that weight for the upcoming sessions before attempting the heavy 5 again.
 
Let’s say you again stick on that same 5 rep weight and the form is again more solid. The loading would be 90% for the upcoming sessions.
 
When this happens to be the case, after the next M day when you you 5x5x90% of your current 5RM, you’d hope to now see a new total weight on the bar.
 
Once you do you go back to the 80% of that top weight and repeat as necessary. If you hit a new weight each time you do the H day then stick at 80% of that for loading, only increase that % if you find you can’t add a tad more weight to the all out set of 5 on your H day.
 
5×5 is safe, it’s effective and it leave little to the imagination.
 
You’ll make stay progress on it for quite some time, especially if you play with the variations of it.
 
Take some time and plan out you training.
 
Remember this protocol is mostly for strength with hypertrophy as a happy side effect.
 
When it comes to the other lifts/body parts you’re not doing 5×5 on, 2-4×8-12 will be good as accessory work, well any rep range will do, just go for a total of around 5 reps on 1-3 extra movements.
 
Give it some thought.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Multiple reasons you should be doing the Dumbbell Clean & Press.

This exercises was a favourite of the lifters of yesteryear.
 
Here is why:
 
– It hits a multitude of muscles
– You can torch a lot of calories in a short space of time
– Higher reps equal an added conditioning bonus
– This one move can make you very strong
– The power generation will help with sporting endeavours
– A great time saver that will leave you feeling worked
– Daily activités will become easier
 
The list could go on, however you get the idea.
 
A good place to start with this lift in terms of sets/reps and loading is as follows –
 
3-5 sets
5-10 reps
1/4 bodyweight (each dumbbell, so if you weight 80kg that’s 20kg per hand)
 
The old strength standard for this was being able to successfully press half your body weight in each hand for a solid 5 reps.
 
Might seem easy on paper, not so machine practice.
 
Be sure to add this lot to your training and you’ll soon see the benefits.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Swing for the win!

I love a good old kettlebell swing, don’t you?
 
It hits the majority of your muscles in your posterior chain, improves your core bracing, your grip strength, firms up your glutes and strips fat like there’s no tomorrow.
 
Yep, swings are great
 
The 10,000 swing 4 week program
 
Have you ever done it?
 
I first learnt of this from reading the fine writings of Dan John, his work/writing worth looking up if you haven’t already done so.
 
Here is how it works:
 
– 500 swings a day (50-30-20 x5 rounds)
– feel free to add in one strength movement of 3-5 reps in-between each set of swings (50 swing – 3-5 presses, 30 swings – 3-5 presses etc)
– perform this 5 days per week
 
Simple enough, right?
 
While it may indeed be simple it’s far from easy as it requires a rather large amount of both physical and mental fortitude to stick at.
 
If you saw it through to the end you’d find you stripped fat, added a nice amount of lean muscle and and built a cast iron grip.
 
The mistake many people make with this is using a kettlebell that is way too heavy from the start, this leads to things getting difficult very quickly.
 
My advice would be for ladies to grab a 12kg kettlebell and for the gents to start with a 16kg, even if that isn’t anywhere near what you currently swing, I know some ladies that are chucking around a 32kg for sets of 15-20 solid swings, however it;s not a good idea to go in that heavy, trust me, you’ll thank me by week 2.
 
Depending on your experience level you could scale this protocol, which personally I’d advise, and start off with say 5000 total swings (this means 25-15-10 x5 rounds, 5 days per week).
 
You may even want to start off at 2500 swings in month one (125 swings 5 days per week).
 
Then 5000 in month 2 (250 swings per day, 5 days per week).
 
On to 7500 in month 3 (375 swings per day, 5 days per week).
 
Finally go for 10,000 in month 4 (500 swings per day, 5 days a week), it’s entirely up to you.
 
^^ I’d aim to keep the set up of:
 
X swings- 3/5 strength- X swings – 3/5 strength – X swings -3/5 strength -rest, repeat 5 times
 
You’ll just need to break down how many swings that will be each set in the 2500/7500 months.
 
Pick a kettlebell that you can handle, and build ups o that 10,000 target. If you choose to do it over the 4 months, you’ll have something to stick to, just make sure you change up the strength movement to add in some variety.
 
I’d suggest the following movement patterns:
 
– Pushing (press, bench, dip etc)
– Pulling (chin, row, high pull etc)
– Squat (FS, SQ, Lunge etc)
– Loaded carry (bear hug variation)
 
Deadlifting in this time might not be advised, however it’s your choice if you want to do it or not.
 
If you’ve found yourself a little lost then this might be the protocol you need, you can always feel free to crack straight on with the 10,000 swings from the start, just being with a much lighter bell and perhaps work up to your standard shining weight over the next 3-6 months.
 
*It’d be worth taking a few days off perhaps at the end of each block of 10,000, no sense in crippling yourself just so that you start each month on the 1st.
 
Give it a go and enjoy,
Ross

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