Tag Archives: injury

Two Tips to Fix Form

 

Correcting form can be tricky at the best of times with a good coach at your side. This becomes even harder when you train alone, but fear not, I will share with you two quick tips to help you improve your own form and iron out any kinks.

Be truthful in your critique of yourself, trust me, it will be a to your advantage to let your ego take a nock on this occasion.

1 – Video Feedback

It’s fair to imagine hat most people have some form of camera or recording device on their phone, meaning that there is always an opportunity to check form and improve.

Heres how to do it yourself –

– Record your lift
– Upload it to your computer
– Go to the interweb and load up YouTube
– Find a high level athlete of similar build/stature to put yours again
– Compare & make notes, assess what YOU can do to improve
– Take heed of your notes and go practice

2 – Slow Down

The use of cadence in lifting is a great way to hone your skill/form. Try doing a 6-1-6-1 tempo (eccentric, pause, concentric, pause) for around 6 reps, start off with say a load of 60% 1RM, if you don’t know yours then work to an RPE of 6/7.

The slower form will force you to adhere together form to keep not only control but also balance. You can also use this technique to really focus on contracting/squeezing the muscles you’re using for maximal pump/MU recruitment.

Form is paramount in not only lifting big weights but also longevity in lifting, never sacrifice it in the gym. Ego is something that needs to be left outside the gym.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Form From From!

Correct technique is something you should always aim to achieve because if you don’t you simply increase the risk of injury.

It’s not fun getting injured, even if it’s only a minor tweak, it’s still not fun because it stops you doing a wide variety of things. Therefore you should always aim to perform each rep with full control.

Avoid these following commonalities until you have mastered the correct movement pattern for you body.

– Bouncing any reps (Deadlift etc)
– Using momentum to complete reps (rows, bicep curls)
– Partial reps (Bench, or pressing)
– Anything ballistic or plyo based (jumping or explosive work)

This might seem obvious but a great many people forget these simple things and as a result end up injured or worse.

Don’t me ruled by you ego, leave it outside the gym and focus on crisp solid form. Not only will you stay injury free, you will also become a lot stronger and make far more progress. A great way to immediately improve your form is to increase the amount of time it takes to do a rep (TUT*). Lower the weight for 3-6 seconds, pause at the bottom of the rep for 1 second, take 1-2 to lift it and then repeat until all reps are done.

*Deadlift is a tad different, don’t use overly long eccentrics (the lowering part) on these, instead make sure each rep is performed from a dead stop. No bouncing.

Now go, practice good form and stay injury free.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Warm Up?

Morning Guys,
 
Do you warm up properly?
 
Yes, No, Maybe… You don’t know?
 
Depending on the exercise you pick and your training goal a warm up can last anywhere from 10min to perhaps half an hour. Yep, 30min of warming up is not uncommon among stronger lifters for movements such as the squat, however typically 10-15 min is usually enough to get to where yourself ready.
 
When it comes to lifting weights the most optimal way to warm up if with some gentle soft tissue release, appropriate mobility and then moving on to the exercise itself where you will perform multiple sets of moderate to low reps while steadily increasing the weight to facilitate muscular activation.
 
A squat warm up might look like this:
 
(All % are based off of 1RM)
 
1 – Standard Warm Up to Working Weight.
 
BW x 12-15 – potentially 10 standard and 3-5 light jumping squats for more activation.
40% x 8 – Be sure to keep the same tempo through every warm up set.
60% x6
70% x4
75% x2
77.5% x1
 
Working sets are 5×5 s at 80%
 
This could be a standard warm up for most people, for more experienced athletes more sets may be needed that could potentially go over their working weight for the day to facilitate more muscle fiber recruitment.
 
2 – Potentiation Warm Up
 
BW x 12-15 – potentially 10 standard and 3-5 light jumping squats for more activation.
40% x 5 – Be sure to keep the same tempo through every warm up set.
60% x5
70% x3
80% x2x2
85% x2x2
90% x1
 
Then on to working sets of 5×5 at 80% 1RM. By warming up to a weight over the desired working weight you will not only physically feel better as you’ve made your body recruit more fibers, you will also feel stronger psychologically as the 80% will no feel respectively light.
 
3 – Ramping
 
One of my personal favorites for a warm up is a a simple and steady Ramp to a top set which is follower by 2-5 further working sets at that weight (you can do more if you choose). The premise of a Ramping set is to change the angle to a mechanically stronger position when you hit failure, however as mentioned above you can stay with the weight you stuck on for X-reps and just do some straight sets until you start losing form, speed or reps.
 
BW x 5 – What ever rep number you’re going for you keep those reps the same in every set.
40% x5
50% x5
60% x5
70%x5
80% x5x3-5 sets
 
*You could go up in 5% jumps, the choice is yours.
 
4 – Activation Warm Up
 
Another great way of warming up is to combine one of those methods with some simple plyo or stability movements when warming up, either before or after the main movement. E.G Squats+Jump Squat, Bench Press + Clap Push Up, Shoulder Press + Overhead Med Ball Throw, you get the idea.
 
Squat 40%x5 + 3 Squat Jumps – BW
 
Or you can do it he other way around –
 
3 Squat Jumps – BW + squat 40% x5
 
The options are varied and each has their own merits. Personally I would recommend Starting off with a Ramping style warm up as it will leave very little room for error, a 5-10% increase is usually sufficient each set until you hit your working weights. A quick 5min foam rolling and mobility before hand plus 10min of this and you’ll be feeling great with confidence to smash some Rep PB’s.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Do You Really Need That Specialist Exercise?

Walkouts, Partial Reps, Banded Moments, Movements with Chains, Lockout Reps, Board Pressing, the list of specialist exercises is numerous but do you really need them?

Too many people get caught up in doing things they have no real need for. I am guilty of this on the odd occasion but found that it only severed to hinder my progress in the long run because there was no need for the specialist movements.
You will find these types of exercises common for high level power lifters but they serve little purpose for us normal folk. If I had to give people some variations of lets say the big 3 I would suggest the following:
– Pause Squats
– Front Squats
– Box Squats
– Paused Bench
– Narrow Grip Bench
– Pressing Overhead or High Incline
– 1/2 – 1 inch Deficit Deadlifts
– 2-4 inch Block Pulls
– Snatch Grip Deadlift
– Overhand Deadlift
That’s pretty much it. While it’s nice and quite fun to try some of the specialist exercises there is little to no need unless you’re squatting/deadlifting 3xbw and benching 2xbw. The variations I’ve suggested will be more than enough to help keep you busy for months if you rotate them properly.
Do you need some guidance on a program too?
Warm Up Sets x4 at 3-5 reps (40,60,70,77%)
Week 1 – 10×1 + 70-80% back off AMRAP set -10min
Week 2 – 5×2 + 70-80% back off AMRAP set -10min
Week 3 – 3×3 + 70-80% back off AMRAP set -10min
Week 4 – 2×5 + 70-80% back off AMRAP set -10min
*increase weight and start over.
*2 lifts per day – EG Squat/Row, Deadlift/Press
*Lower body would work better with this programs set rep progression.
*Upper body = Volume or Ramping, try 8×8 on the volume with only 30 seconds rest on upper body pressing/pulling movements or Ramp up to a 3-5RM (meaning you do 3-5 reps and add weight each set until you hit technical failure, then you’re done).
An example day might be as follows:
Workout 1 – Squat/Pull Up
Warm Up Sets – Paused Squat x4 at 3-5 reps (40,60,70,77%)
A1 – Paused Squat – 10×1 – 100kg + 80kg AMRAP (10min time limit)
B1 – Pull Up – 8×8 – Wide Grip Body Weight/Weighted or Pull Down
*Optional C1 – Ab Roll Out – 1×12
Workout 2 – Deadlift/Press
Warm Up Sets – Overhand Deadlift x4 at 3-5 reps (40,60,70,77%)
A1 – Overhand Deadlift – 10×1 – 100kg + 80kg AMRAP (10min time limit)
B1 – Press – 5RM Ramp Start with Overhead Press and hit 5RM (You can alternate your Pressing movement to your own personal desire, one day might be overhead press, the next time around it might be bench and so on.)
*Optional C1 – Ab Roll Out – 1×12
A weeks training might look like this:
Monday – Workout 1
Tuesday – Workout 2
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – Workout 1 – Front Squat/Pull Down Neutral Close Grip
Friday – Workout 2 – Snatch Grip Deadlift/Incline Press
Saturday – Off
Sunday – Off
Repeat last weeks exercise selection, keep weights the same on SQ/DL but move on to week 2’s reps (5×2).
There is nothing stopping you from adding in a sprint day on Saturday or some CV just regulate the intensity so that is doesn’t disrupt your recovery and adaptation phases.
In the world of lifting it’s best not to try and run before you can walk. Learn the basic movements and learn then well, then once you’ve started to hit the upper limits of your natural strength (around 3xBW SQ/DL & 2xBW Bench) then it will be worth adding in some specialist exercises to help you past your sticking points.
Enjoy,
Ross

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Build A New Body: Part 1

There are a great deal of programs floating around on the internet and today i’m going to give you another one to consider.
This will be one of several programs I will be writing for you that will help create a 12 week training cycle to help you add lean mass, strength, strip fat and feel much more confident because of the results you will achieve.
Today’s program will consist on what you will ideally be looking to do for the first 3 weeks of your training block. It will help you build a good foundation of lean mass while starting to bring up your base strength in preparation for the next 3 week block, here is what the basic outline of what the primary goals of each will look like:
Weeks 1-3 – Hypertrophy/Strength
Weeks 4-6 – Hypertrophy/Strength
Weeks 7-9 – Strength/Conditioning
Weeks 10-12 – Strength/Conditioning
The first 6 weeks is based on building the foundation, then the second 6 weeks will be about utilising/realising the strength you’ve gained from your newly built muscle to it’s full potential while also adding in some conditioning style work to help keep you lean and feeling ‘fit’ don’t worry if you think they will contradict each other, they won’t if programmed properly and the correct volume/approach is used.
So now you’ve got the basic idea shall we get started?
4-4-4 is the first method you will be using is based around the following:
– 4 Workout days per week
– 4 Exercises per workout
– 4 Sets with varying rep ranges
The days you workout are down to you, that could be Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Friday or whatever.
As for exercises you will want to cover the full body in as little movements as possible, I will give you two guideline workouts A/B where you will hit all the major muscle groups, here they are:
Workout A –
– Front Squat
– Snatch Grip Deadlift
– Bent Over Row
– Supinated Grip Pull Up
Workout B –
– Press – Shoulder Width
– Bench Press – Medium (narrow is you want more triceps, wider if you want more chest)
– Dip
– Face Pull – Pronated Grip W/Thumbs Facing You (think you’re hitting a double bicep pose when pull to your face)
*You can do which ever day you want first, it’s down to personal preference.
Now it’s time for the rep/set scheme I will recommend for you.
– 12,10,8,6
– Use a 4-1-1-1 tempo (4 second eccentric, 1 second pause, 1 second concentric, 1 second pause)
Suggested loading:
– 12 – 65%
– 10 – 70%
– 8 – 75%
– 6 – 80%
A very simple descending pyramid that will help you begin to build a base. As for a warm up I would advice doing what you need to do so that you feel mobile and ready, remember a good mobility routine will help you stay injury free and improve your performance and overall life for that matter (There are lots of options on YouTube, you’ve got a great book called Becoming a Supple Leopard and much more to get ideas from).
I can’t tell you your weights but the suggestion I have given will be a good starting point, but remember the stronger you get the higher these numbers will go, not only % wise but also because you will be able to lift more. Start off light so you have somewhere to go, if you start too heavy you will stagnate and can even get hurt if you’re not careful.
The above program is designed to be followed for 3 weeks, then you will move on to the second 3 week block which I will get uploaded in due course.
You will obviously need to know about nutrition as well, here is a good starting point for you:
LBMx 17-19 = Muscle Gain Caloric Range
Protein – LBM x1 = Grams per day, multiply this by 4 to get calories of protein for the day.
Carbs – Protein x1-3 = Grams per day (depending on style of training/overall daily activity, desk jockeys use x1, site workers use x3 and people in the middle use 1.5 or 2), multiply this by 4 to get calories of carbs for the day.
Fat – What ever calories are left divide them by 9 to get your fat in grams for the day.
Example Equation:
175lbs x 19 = 3325 total cals
175lbs x 1 = protein 175g x4 = 700 cals
175g x 2 = carbs 350g x 4 = 1400 cals
3325 – (700 + 1400) = 1225 cals
1225/9 = 136g fat
So these example calories/macros would be:
3225 Total Cal
175g Protein
350g Carbs
136g Fat
Get the idea?
*Eat mostly single ingredient whole foods to get the bulk of your calories, doing this will sort out your micronutrients without you having to worry too much. think 80/20 – 80% single ingredient foods 20% what ever you fancy. Just keep the callers correct and the overall macronutrient ratio sold and you can’t go far wrong.
Breakfast/AM – Fat/Protein
Snack/AM – Fat/Protein
Lunch/PM – Complex Carbs/Protein
Snack/PM – Complex Carbs/Protein
Dinner/PM – Complex Carbs/Protein
Post Workout Protein/Simple Carbs – regardless on time of day.
This will be a good place to start, you can make adjustments according to your own persona needs as you see fit.
You now have the first 3 weeks and some basic ideas for nutrition, it’s time to get in to the gym and start working (Y).
Enjoy,
Ross

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Yesterdays Results

Morning Guys,

Building is the aim, but with all the set and rep ranges out there which one should you use?

There was the famous 6×6 & 8×8 that was used by Vince Gironda

Or the hugely successful 7-5-3 Wave Loading System found under the tutelage of Charles Poliquin

You even heard stories of how well people did on Dorian Yates’ ‘Blood & Guts One Set to Faliure’

Some even did phenomenally well on the very simple 4×8-12

But the truth is that all of the systems work, lets be honest and accept that if they didn’t work they wouldn’t be spoken about.

The hardest part isn’t finding a set/rep scheme that works, it’s finding one YOU can stick with for the long haul, in our society of quick fixes and instant gratification we want to add 30lbs of lean muscles, drop 50lbs of body fat and look akin to a Greek God all by last week.

Sadly life doesn’t work that way. If you want to build some decent lean muscle you will need to be prepared to put in the hard work, eat adequately and have everything pretty much on point. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a life but you must understand that the more effort you put in and the more sacrifice you’re willing to make the faster and less time you will need you will achieve your results (which could still be in the years in most cases).

Now the obvious points are out of the way it’s time to give you some options to help you on your way to a better you.

The rotation of set/rep schemes will be set using a 3 days on 1 day off rotation until you have done the particular set/rep scheme 4/5 times (this will last mean each set/rep system will last around 3 weeks or so) with a total of 4 different rep/set options to go though. The main exercises will stay the same for all 4 mini blocks, as for assistance work you can add in some DT (Density Training) that should take no more than 10min and the chosen assistance movements can change every 3/4 workouts if you feel the need, but remember a change is only needed if you have become stagnant on that particular exercise.

Parameters for the mains lifts:

First 5 Workouts (weeks 1-3):
Reps/Sets: 10,8,6,20
Loading % of 1RM: 70%,75%,80%,60%
Tempo: 6-1-1-1 and 2-1-1-1 for the 20 rep set
Rest: 90 Seconds

Second 5 Workouts (weeks 4-6)
Rep/Sets: 6×6
Loading % of 1RM: 75-80%
Tempo: 4-1-1-1
Rest: 30 Seconds

Third 5 Workouts (weeks 7-9)
Rep/Sets: 5×5
Loading % of 1RM: 80-85%
Tempo: 3-1-1-1
Rest: 90-120 Seconds

Forth 5 Workouts (weeks 10-12)
Rep/Sets: 5,4,3,2,1
Loading % of 1RM: 82,85,87,90,92%
Tempo: 2-1-1-1
Rest: 120 Seconds or as needed

The main lifts will be comprised of the following:

– Squat (Front or Back)
– Bench Press (Incline of Flat)
– Deadlift (Overhand only)
– Bent Over Row (Supinated Grip)
– Press (Military or Behind Neck)
– Pull Up (Weighted or Body Weight)

Now it’s time for the interesting part, the workouts themselves.

Based on 3 working days you will only be required to do 2 movements per workout, plus 1-2 assistance movements if you feel the need.

Day 1:
A1 – Squat
B1 – Pull Up
C1 – Dumbbell Curl (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)

Day 2:
A1 – Bench Press
B1 – Bent Over Row
C1 – Skull Crusher (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)

Day 3:
A1 – Deadlift
B1 – Press
C1 – Lateral Raise – Do one set of C1 followed by C2, minimal rest between transitions.
C2 – Face Pull or Reverse Fly (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)

Day 4: Off

Repeat.

The above is a very simple progression that will help you build some quality lean muscle tissue while keeping things fresh and interesting. as I mentioned above you can change your assistance exercises as you see fit but try to keep the main movements the same as this will help with the accumulation f overload stimulus.

One benefit of these workouts is that they won’t take long to complete, perhaps 40min tops meaning that you will have lots more free time to spend with friends and family, eat lots of good foods and because the workouts are so short you will look forward to your next one, unlike some other extreme training programs that kill your motivation to train.

You will also need to make sure you’re eating enough, if you want my opinion on how to make a educated guess then do the following:

LBM (Lean Body Mass) x 17-19 = Daily Calories

LBM x 1-1.2 = Protein in Grams for the day x4 = calories from protein.
Protein x 1.5-3 = Carbs for the day (1 if you’re a desk jockey. Use 2 if you’re somewhat active at work and 3 if you’re job is very physical) x4 = Calories from carbohydrates.

Daily Calories – (Protein Calories + Carb Calories) = Calories of Fat per day, divide this number by 9 to get your daily grams of fat.

Now go and make some progress.

Enjoy,
Ross

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LOSE 4 INCHES OF BELLY FAT IN A WEEK!

Now I have your attention, I have an important message for you.

You’re being LIED too.

Everyday you see the stories of ‘ 6 week success’ that companies and some individuals spout out and how you can achieve the same results, all you have to do is buy their products and you will be endowed with the knowledge you need, but sadly this is all bollocks. Lots of the photos are either photoshopped, stolen from people who have taken years to achieve their results or the results of shall we say ‘Enhancement’ (steroids).

I hate to be the one to say it, well… Actually I don’t.

If you see a head line that claims any of the following:

  • Lose X amount in X.
  • Gain an inch to your arms in X.
  • Fat Loss without exercise.
  • Pack on muscle in just X weeks.

Basically anything that sounds too good to be true usually is. I understand how desperately people want results and for things to be better/sorted but life doesn’t work that way, trust me. You should always believe half of what you see and less of what you hear.

What is seen in the clever marketing campaigns is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, like that used by the magicians of old it’s all a clever act to get you to part with your hard earned cash. But guess what, it works, again, and again…. and again.

There is no quick fix, magic pill or secret to success.

Okay, there is a secret list of things to do and I’m going to give it to you for free.

Seriously…

FREE!

For the more dedicated and goal driven person:

  1. Set a goal.
  2. Plan out how to achieve said goal (yourself or by hiring a coach)
  3. Establish your individual caloric/dietary needs.
  4. Begin exercising (lifting weights) 2-4 times per week – Goal dependent.
  5. Begin exercising (steady state cardio) 2-5 times per week – Goal dependent.
  6. Keep multiple dairies – Training, Nutrition, Progress.
  7. Work hard and be consistent.
  8. Enjoy the journey, it’s going to be a long road. Remember this is a life style change, not a quick fix.

If that list seems confusing here is a much simpler one that will cater for the general goal of ‘look and feel better, while increasing confidence’:

  1. Eat more protein from whole foods.
  2. Eat more fibre from whole foods.
  3. Eat less refined/man made foods.
  4. Move more – Ideally 3 sessions of vigorous exercise (weights+cardio) per week should be enough.

Don’t believe everything you’re told and blindly follow like all the other sheep, be different, after all, being different is something that sets us apart from he rest of the animal kingdom.

Hard work, patience and consistency is what achieves results, not quick fixes.

Enjoy,

Ross

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You’re Not Training Hard Enough…

Morning Guys,

You’re not training hard enough.

No, you’re not.

If you were then you wouldn’t be looking of rate next best program, you would be slowly and steadily making progress.

I have noticed that lots of people seem to be training much LONGER but not HARDER.

While this is only my opinion and lots will disagree, if you spend more than 45-75min in the gym then you’re not working hard enough, period.

In my opinion if you can train ‘hard’ for longer than that then you’re not training hard enough or you’re on some form of PED (steroid) because there are very few exceptions to this rule.

Why between those times?

Depending on the length or warm up you need (some people need up to 30min with all their pre mobility etc), once you’re body feels ready you start lifting and pushing yourself.

What does hard work feel like?
How should your reps feel?
How should your breathing be when running (cardio training)?

Reps –

Lets say you’re doing 6 sets of 6 reps, the first 2 sets of 6 should feel easy ish, the next two you will want to be struggling to get 6 and the last two you should only get 4, perhaps 5 reps out and those should be a struggle. This is coming close to hard work.

Alternatively you could go in with the ind set that even on your first set the 6th rep should be a fighting struggle to achieve (I like this mind set).

Cardio –

You shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. Simple.

Too much chatter when CV training means you;re not working at the correct intensity, you should be abel to get out maybe 3-5 words or single sentences, but if you can talk almost normally then you need to be working harder.

This all sounds quite logical doesn’t it?

You’d be surprised at the amount of people who have ‘pseudo intensity’. What is it?

Pseudo Intensity is when people are working hard ish, but they often hold a lot back, this is why allows them to stay in the gym for upwards of 90min and sometimes even 3 hours.

There is a simple equation I like to remember, it goes like this:

Hard Work + Consistency = Results

Okay, there are some nuances to that but the general ethos is solid.

Now stop faffing about and go do some proper training!

Enjoy,
Ross

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Mobility, it’s not just the name of a scooter.

Today it’s time to talk about technique, or more importantly your ability to preform correct technique.

There are lots of compound exercises that require certain amounts skill, but that’s not really in question that often because the average gym goer forgets one crucial element,  most compound exercises also require adequate mobility to be preformed correctly.

Before I move on let us establish what mobility actually is.

Mobility, or joint mobility, is the ability to move a limb through the full range of motion with control, people often get mobility and flexibility confused.

Mobility is based on voluntary movement (squatting to full depth for example) while flexibility involves static holds (touching your toes) and is often dependent upon gravity or passive forces. Mobility demands strength to produce full-range movement, whereas flexibility is passive and not strength-dependent.

It is possible to have good mobility without being especially flexible, after all, someone who is able to perform a full overhead squat won’t necessarily be able to do the splits. Just as someone who is flexible can have poor mobility, i.e., control. Of the two, mobility is more important. It is better to be inflexible with good mobility than flexible with poor mobility.

Mobility isn’t just required for lifting weights though. having good mobility will also improve your quality of life too. In an ideal world you would wake up every morning and perform a mobility routine to help prepare your body for the trials of the day. it doesn’t have to take long, 5-10min is more than sufficient and you can do it while your breakfast is cooking.

Here is a sample routine that you can do at home and before your workouts each and everyday.

  • Rocking Ankle Mobilization (walking on the inner/outer portion of your foot for 20 meters per side)
  • Quadruped Crawl (bear crawl) 20 meter
  • Squat with chest expansion and arm swings
  • Squat hold with shoulder dislocation (sit in a deep squat and hold a towel in both hands and try to take it fro the front of your body over your head and touch your lower back)
  • Spidermans  (also called a low lateral lunge from side to side)
  • Reverse Lunge

Bonus: Static Stretching

*Hip Flexor Stretch (rear foot elevated on sofa or chair, push hips forwards)

* Door Frame Chest Stretch (have your elbows at shoulder height and lean through an open doorway)

There are lots of mobility routines available on YouTube and other such websites, the one above is a simple suggestion, i would do some research and find one that works for you and takes less than 10min to do each day.

Enjoy,

Ross

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