Tag Archives: hypertrophy

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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2 Reasons the average gym goer doesn’t need to isolate the front deltoid

It’s common place to see people doing front raises in the gym, even though for them it’s essentially a pointless exercise.

I’m not saying it’s a bad exercise, far from it, some top lifters need it as an assistance movement for what ever specific reason, however the average gym goer who has a program heavily biased towards pressing and anterior chain movements DOES NOT need to be doing front raises.

Before we go on let us have a look at some of the exercises that recruit the front deltoid.

  • Presses (pretty much all of them)
  • Bear crawls
  • Planks
  • Sled pushing

The main function of the anterior deltoid is shoulder flexion — lifting your arm up and to the front of your body. So any movement that involves this hits it, make a note.

That’s the first reason you don’t need to isolate this muscle.

The second is because daily life is heavily anterior chain dominant, here is a short list of daily living movements that cause a short/tight/over worked front delt and also high pecs too.

  • Sitting at a desk
  • Eating
  • Driving
  • Playing computer games
  • Putting things on shelves

You get the idea. Life is heavily biased towards overworking what are known as ‘tonic muscles’ of the body and rarely have you stimulating the phasic ones (posterior chain).

For the average person Id recommend having some form of reverse fly in every session and perhaps a lateral raise movement in each pressing session, I can’t remember the exact studies, I apologise, however on average the lateral delt has 2/3 the development of the front and the rear was barely scraping 1/3 of the front delts growth.

You’d also do well to chuck in face pulls, bat wings (isometric holds) and resistance band pull apart drills in your daily life (say 50 pull-aparts per hour and 60 seconds bat wing).

This simple information will help you balance the entire shoulder, it will also help improve your posture and look 100% better, no one likes a round shouldered look, its weak and prone to injury.

Enjoy,

Ross

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A quote to think on

A quote from Dr. VM Zatsiorsky has always stuck with me:
 
“Train as heavy as possible, as often as possible, while staying as fresh as possible.”
 
Now this has multiple interpretations, today I will give you mine.
 
You can take from it what you will, however I’d encourage you to formulate your own.
 
To me this is a simple message –
 
Lift heavy, everyday if possible but always leave each session feeling strong, confident and ready for more.
 
Given the background of the good Dr being one of a weightlifting sports science one, it was in the interests of the Russian weightlifters/powerlifter to train as close as they could to the nerve without burning out.
 
High performance demands high intensity and high workload.
 
Now obviously there will be a point where a person needs a rest, the accumulation of volume/intensity coupled with high frequency will mean that physiologically you will eventually need to rest so the your body can adapt.
 
Personally I like the idea of training multiple times per day, multiple days in a row and learning to listen to your body.
 
I believe it was John Broz who said “How you feel is a lie.” or something similar.
 
Basically it means you can push through days where you feel sluggish because it’s in your head and your body can actually handle it.
 
Obviously this takes some time to achieve this level of awareness, however it is certainly something that is very real in the world of strength sport and performance, perhaps not so great for bodybuilding purposes but definitely for sport.
 
I’m sure you’d like to know how to apply this to your training.
 
Here is a list of movements you want to achieve:
 
Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Loaded Carry, Full Body
 
You might put the push/pull together, then have the squatting/hinging the day after, followed by a loaded carry day and then a full body movement day (clean & jerk or snatch for example).
 
Depending on your sporting needs you’ll plan what you need.
 
Now this isn’t for everyone.
 
I’d say pick a few movements and focus on them, work up to a heavy ish 1,2 or 3 for the day and the do some back off work if you feel up to it.
 
– Press ramp to heavy 2
– Back off 3-5x2x80% top weight
– Done
 
The high frequency will produce enough volume for the agains you desire, this is why you can have a fairly low volume on the day.
 
There is a lot of literature on training daily, if you want to know more look up John Broz, Dan John, Bulgarian/Russian weightlifting and make your own choice on giving it a go.
 
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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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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How trying to do it all kept me small.

There is a reason they say that that less is more.

It might seem counterintuitive in the fitness industry, especially given that to make progress you need to provide your body with a stimulus that forces adaptation and then to keep progressing the stimuli needs to continue too increase.

So that law in itself means you must always do more, right?

From a basic standpoint, yes, but from a longevity and realistic progression one, no.

Have you heard of MED – minimum effective dose – it means doing the least amount you need to ensure progression.

A lot of people tend to opt for the other option known as MRV – maximal recoverable volume – both are similar, yet hammering yourself with the most you can recover from and doing what you need to do to trigger growth/adaptation don’t always go hand in hand, even though they should.

This is because of what we end up doing, which is usually too much because we come from a world where more is considered better, when it’s usually just more.

The fact is is a great many people did what they should and in fact needed to be doing they’d progress faster and have better results, that’s a fact.

Over the years I personally have tried to do too much and as a result spent a long time not really progressing the way I’d hoped. A lack of sufficient recovery lead to sessions being less intense than they should have been, I’m sure you’re guilty of this as well.

Take for example a set of 5, you should be using around 80% of your 1RM for this, I bet you don’t because 80% is a hefty lump and it’s hard, you don’t like working hard, do you….

If you ever look at a typical gym bro (natural or not), they grow, not because they have a special gym routine but because they train as hard as they should each session and force the body to adapt. Well, at least their upper body anyway, legs tend to be forgotten.

Most will train as follows:

– Chest
– Back
– Legs (skipped)
– Shoulders
– Arms/abs
– Off
– Off

So 4x upper body session per week, these end up as a pushing/pulling format as triceps usually get hit with chest/shoulders and biceps are done on back day and then again on arm day.

Each session will they will give it their all. I can vouch for this 100% because I’ve seen it in person and for all their faults of skipping legs and big compound lifts that are hard and make them look weak because they don’t train them (ego is a fragile thing), what they do train, they train with intensity and a sense of purpose so fierce it’s frightening.

A limiting factor for many is time, so the time they have they use well, going to the point that many won’t, thats the secret to their success.

The better ones usually have good form as well.

The successful ones do what they need to do, not more. It’s the ones who try to do too much that don’t progress because they think more is better and it’s not, it’s just more.

What can you learn from the basic gym bro?

– Lift to the point just short of failure (keeping a couple of reps in the bag before form goes)
– Lift as heavy as weight as your body will allow with good form
– Intensity, Intensity, Intensity
– Rest is important
– Be willing to go in to places mentally that others won’t, you’ll need strength when things get tough

When it comes to my personal results, the best ones came after injury (major knee damage), training wen’t down to 2xpw at the start, then up to three days and I had no choice but to make each one count.

The added rest allowed me to push hard in each session, something I’d not been able to do previously when training more because I was simply faffing about for lack of a better term.

How can you apply this to your training?

– Limit training days 3xper week for example
– Limit training session light 45-115min
– Limit exercises to 3-5 movements
– Limit sets to 3-6
– Set rep goals (25, 50, 100 etc)
– Push sets to the limit

Remember you can do it all, train like you only have some much time and you’ll find you work harder and progress faster because you’re doing what you need to be doing to maximise your session.

Just because it’s less, don’t think it’s easier.

Enjoy,
Ross

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