Tag Archives: intensity

A little something arbitrary for y’all

GPP vs SPP.

General physical preparedness.

Special/Specific physical preparedness.

Some will ask which is better and the answer will always be; it depends.

If you have a solid goal then SPP will rule the roost and GPP will fall in line to help bolster the goal.

Yet say your goal is a loose one, you merely want to be a half decent allrounder, then in that case you ca pick and choose when you use SPP and have the majority of your training in the GPP area.

Do remember though that it often means you will never excel at anything and in fact more than likely not even end up as mediocre in the majority of things because of too much choice.

All this being said, here is something those of you that don’t really have a goal and just want to train can utilise in your training.

I call it the 50%-100%-200% Method.

You will use the above percentages in reference to your body weight on the movements you’re going to do.

So that could mean bodyweight barbell curls and double bodyweight press overhead as a superset if you’re some sort of genetic beast lobster (50% curl and 100% press will do for most).

Sets and reps can be up to you because the options for that are endless.

Take this example 3 day template for starters:

Day 1:

W/U – Clean & Press w/sandbag x50% x AMRAP x 15min
A1 – DL x 200% x6x4
B1 – Bench Press x100% x3 xAMRAP
C/D – Stretching/Yoga

Day 2:
W/U – Farmers Walk x50% x max total distance in 15min
A1 – SQ x 200% x8x3
B1 – Bent Over Row 100% x4-5 xAMRAP
C/D – Stretching/Yoga

Day 3:
W/U – Sled Push/Pull x50% x max total distance in 15min
A1 – Press x 100% x12x2
B1 – Pull Up x 50% x 8×3
C/D – Stretching/Yoga

The above if with mostly standard gym kit, however doing the above with awkward objects can be a great way to build ‘old time strength’ along with an epic amount of conditioning.

Often times we get some of our best results when we limit our choices because we have no other option than to put in some hard graft that has a defined purpose.

Try the simple loading strategy above and see how you get on.

Personally I’d lean towards working on volume/density as the main drivers, so getting out max reps (with good form) in specific time frames or more reps in the same time.

You might have heard this called EDT (escalating density training), Charles Staley is the man to look up for article on this.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Progression Tips for Beginners

Do you have any idea how to progress your training across the variables?

– Volume
– Intensity
– Density
– Frequency

It’s quite easy really, as such here is an example for each that can be used for several weeks or months if you have the courage to stay the course.

Volume –

Ladders, one of my favourites.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 or 2,3,5,10, or 1,2,3,4,5

There are a lot of choices, for adding extra volume in the form of reps, the most effective being 1-10, and you will only add weight once you can go 1-10 unbroken.

Example (works best as a super set):

A1 – Pull Up
A2 – Close Grip Bench Press

Intensity –

Let us say that you’re a creature of habit who likes doing the same sets and reps, this is cool however progressing can be a tad tricky, therefor this is the solution:

Fractional Plates.

Small 0.25kg (or lighter) plates, all you need do is hit your desired reps then add another 0.25kg and aim to do the same next time.

Personally I’ve found that doing 3-5×3-5 works well as it gives you some room to adapt to the gradual increases. Once you hit 5×5 with good form, adding another fraction plate is easy, it might may you only be able to do 3×3, that’s okay keep grinding until it’s 5×5 and progress from there.

Density –

Perhaps you’re already one strong hombre and adding weight or reps is becoming tricky, fear not, you have two options to progress.

1 – Set a time limit to hit your rep goal.

Example; 50 reps in 15min with 140kg in the squat.

Once you hit it you add weight.

2 – Reduce your rest periods.

Say you’ve started with 5min rest, knock off 15 seconds at the next session, if you hit all your reps then knock off another 15 next time, repeat this until you are perhaps at 3min rest, or lower, that is up to you.

Once you hit your desired point of ‘low rest’ add weight and take the rest back up to 5min per set and so on.

Frequency –

The easiest to manipulate, al you do is add an extra bout of reps or an extra session.

Say you train your squat once per week, bump it up to twice, if you already do two squat sessions do three, you can spread the reps out and build them up from there, example:

1 squat session a week = 5×10
2 squat session = 3×10 per session (10 more total reps)

Make sense?

Adding weight or reps can be applied from the other example above.

The little tips of today are very basic, there is a lot more that can go in to this, however these will be enough to tweak your current training and perhaps get you over the plateau.

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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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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Progression put Simply

Morning Guys,

Progression.

What is it?

How does it work?

Let me answer that for you…

Progression put simply:

Beginner: 0-18 months of training –

Add weight to the bar each workout until this is nit longer possible.

5kg lower body, 2.5kg upper body (smaller plates can also be useful to.help continue this beginner progression for as long as possible to milk it dry).

Strength is the focus.

Intermediate: 18months – 36months of training –

Add reps instead of weights. Focus on turning your 3RM in to a 5RM, your 5RM to an 8RM and so on.

Increased volume is the focus.

Advanced: 36months+ of training –

Now this is where it gets interesting and I will be honest, most people will never need to worry about making this more complicated than adding reps or weight, When it comes to the requirements for this style of training I would advise hiring someone to do it for you because you won’t possess sufficient knowledge to do it yourself.

Correct intensity and loading % can be a head ache at the best of times, not to mention total volume calculation, reload parameters and much more.

Why do you think elite athletes have coaches?

If it’s good enough for an elite, it’s good enough for you.

Hire a coach.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Daily 90%?

Morning Guys,

I was asked a very interesting question recently:

“Can you train heavy all the time?”

The person who asked the question defined heavy as 85%+, closer to 90% of 1RM truth be told.

Now considering all the varying factors that need to be taken in to account – Training Age, Recovery Ability, Nutrition, Stress Load, Sleep, External Influences to name a few. The answer is not a simple one, that said I will give you my opinion and my own personal answer to this question which has been gathered from my experience.

Yes. Yes you can.

HOWEVER!

To train at higher intensities more frequently you need to have everything else in your life on point (nutrition, stress, recovery etc etc) and have a minimum training age/experience of at least 5 years.

Why 5 years? Because by that time you will have made all the novice mistakes (hopefully) and built a solid foundation of strength, skill and movement patterns, not to mention you would actually have a very good idea of what your 1RM’s would actually be. If these are present then you could quite possibly train at 85% or even 90%+ frequently.

Now I believe it was the great Louis Simmons who said if you train at 90% for longer than three weeks you will in fact go backwards in your training, and I have to agree with him…

I know, curious isn’t it.

Given my last statement how can I say ‘yes’ to being able to train at 90% frequently then? Because what Louis Simmons was referring to was staying at 90% for one specific exercise for more than three weeks, this is where you would run in to problems, mainly due to CNS/overall fatigue in that one movement. However if you were to use movements that targeted similar muscle groups/movement patters but required a different total loading then this is how you could train at 85-90% of more for extended periods of time.

Are you following me?

For example you can Squat for lets say 2 weeks (possible 3 if you’re so inclined) then change this to perhaps a box squat, then a front squat after that and maybe an overhead squat next.

Can you see what’s happening? You’re loads int he other lifts won’t be as heavy as in the standard squat, meaning your nervous system won’t be taxed as heavily but you will still be working in a maximal strength range for each lift. In doing this you will also generate some good crossover to your other lifts (crossover helping the main lifting movement improve).

Example:

Weeks 1-3 – Squat
Weeks 4-6 – Front Squat
Weeks 7-9 – Overhead Squat
Weeks 10-12 – Box Squat

This style of training will require you to make copious notes and track your numbers, but it also helps produce some great results.

When it comes to loading parameters I would suggest using the following as guide lines:

Training Days – Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday

– 85,87,90% 1RM – 3-6 sets 1-3 reps
– 87,90,92% 1RM – 2-5 sets 1-3 reps
– 90,92,95% 1RM* – 1-4 sets 1-3 reps

This way if you were cycling though 6 exercises you would use the first suggesting on all 6 then when the next time round comes you can use the second, if you don’t fancy testing a new 1-3RM that is to establish a new baseline for the 85-90%.

*The last suggestion would only be advised for people who compete or are very experienced, personally I would steer people towards the first guideline.

All in all this style of training is based around 2-3week mini cycles that have constantly changing exercises, the same is true for your accessory work which can be focused on your weaker areas and done for more bodybuilding style reps/sets. What I have given you is simply an example of intensity %, sets/reps, training days and exercise ordering, you can change/adapt this as you see fit.

One thing to remember about working at higher intensities more frequently is that you need to keep the volume per session on the low end, if you set this to high you’re in for trouble.

As you can see there is certainly a possibility of being able to work at 85% and above consistently, but you will need to make sure you have a solid plan of action when doing it.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Correct Intensity?

Do you know what intensity is?

In short it’s the % amount of your 1RM you’re using in resistance training or the % amount of your HHR used in CV training.

The higher the percentage of your max the more intensity you’re achieving.

Pretty simple really.

To establish your 1RM is you don’t know it (therefore working from a predicted 1RM) you will need to take a weight and rep until failure.

Weight x Reps x 0.0333 + Weight = Estimated 1RM

100 x 5 x 0.0333 + 100 = 117kg (rounded up)

Now that is a predicted 1RM, you now simply multiply that number by 0.7 for 70% or 0.85 for 85% and so on.

If you want to know your target HR zones then the use of Karvonen Formula is needed.

First you will need your alleged max heart rate: 200 – Age. Then you take off your resting heart rate to leave you with yet another number, this is the number you will multiply by 0.7 and then add back in your resting heart rate to get 70% of your HRR.

This will make it easier to understand:

For example, for a 25 yr old who has a resting heart rate of 65, wanting to know his training heart rate for the intensity level 60% – 70%.

His Minimum Training Heart Rate:
220 – 25 (Age) = 195
195 – 65 (Rest. HR) = 130
130 x .60 (Min. Intensity) + 65 (Rest. HR) = 143 Beats/Minute

His Maximum Training Heart Rate:
220 – 25 (Age) = 195
195 – 65 (Rest. HR) = 130
130 x .70 (Max. Intensity) + 65 (Rest. HR) = 156 Beats/Minute

His training heart rate zone will therefore be 143-156 beats per minute.

Now you know how to set your workouts to the correct intensity you will find out if you were working hard enough or not.

Enjoy,
Ross

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The Secret of Constant Progression: Part 1

When it comes to lifting weights well all want to have a steady progression, but many will stall and find their progress grinding to a halt without much warning.

Do you want to know how to avoid this?
Do you want the knowledge to build strength and muscle consistently?
Do you want to know what many trainers hesitate to tell?

Do you want to know the secret of constant progression?

I am going to write one short post per day about what elements of your training you can tweak that will allow you to continue to progress, they are not as complicated as you may think and on top of that there are only 3 KEY elements you need to be mindful off.

Volume

Intensity

Density

That makes 3 content filled posts for you to increase your knowledge and understanding of lifting weights, progression and progressive overload.

If you hied my advice you will find steady progression for many weeks, months and even years to come, so now we have all of the standard chatter of you the way;

Lets get started.

The route to progression is classed as continued progressive overload*, otherwise known as TOTAL VOLUME. This is the amount of weight you lift in one session, the get stronger or build more muscle you must lift more than you did before; simple right?

*Progressive overload by definition is that in order to adapt/grow we require a gradual increase in volume, intensity, density (frequency/time) in order to achieve the targeted goal of the user. In this context, volume, intensity and density are defined as follows: Volume is the total number of repetitions multiplied by the resistance used as performed in specific periods of time.

Not quite. Trying to constantly lift more weight each week will have you hitting a brick wall much sooner than you might realise, your body needs time to adapt, your ligaments and tendons need time to grow stronger as do your muscles. This is where the concept of volume can become skewed, lifting more weight to achieve more volume does not happen quiet the way you would think.

What is VOLUME?

Volume put simply is the cumulative amount of Sets & Reps you ave performed in that one session (Don’t get confused with Total Volume of Weight Lifted.*), the weight you’re using is known as the INTENSITY, but that’s something to talk about on another day, but as you will learn all 3 elements are intrinsically linked.

*The sum total volume of your weight lifted is what you will calculate at the end of your workout to see how much weight you lifted throughout the entire session and over a prolonged period of time throughout your different training phases, this will become important for establishing your ‘Power Index’, but more on that another day.

Example:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg lifted (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

So theoretically then this would be the next logical step:

Week 2 – 5×5 @ 105kg – 5×105 = 525 – 525×5 = 2625kg lifted (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

This progressive volume thing is easy according to this, the gains will be constant and strong… Or so we would like to believe. You have not changed the volume, you have changed the intensity, yes that has lead to more total volume, but not quiet in the way we are trying to achieve today.

Your body would only progress in this way for a certain period of time before it simply couldn’t handle any more weight for 5 sets of 5 reps, this is when you will need to change the volume load, I.E the amount of set’s and reps you’re doing.

You see, you can can increase your volume from a workout without having to increase the weight, take a look at this example:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

Week 2 – 8×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×8 = 4000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 40reps Total Volume

Are you starting to get the picture now?

Week 3 – 10×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×10 = 5000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 50reps Total Volume

*Week 4 Deload to 6×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×6 = 3000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 30reps Total Volume a reduction of 40% Volume, you can have multiple variations of this, but you will learn that over the next few days – This allows your body to back off form he volume but maintain its neuromuscular connections and familiarity with the weight.

As you can see for my rather basic examples above you can increase the VOLUME of your workout by changing the numbers of sets you perform, you can also change the reps but of the purpose of this example I decided to change the sets as it’s easier to see the progression.

That said, if you did want to keep the sets the same but change the reps you might do the following:

Week 1 – 5×5 @ 100kg – 5×100 = 500 – 500×5 = 2500kg (Total Weight Volume) and 25reps Total Volume

Week 2 – 5×8 @ 100kg – 8×100 = 800 – 800×5 = 4000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 40reps Total Volume

Are you starting to get the picture now?

Week 3 – 5×10 @ 100kg – 10×100 = 1000 – 1000×5 = 5000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 50reps Total Volume

*Week 4 Deload to 3×10 @ 100kg – 10×1000 = 1000 – 1000×3 = 3000kg (Total Weight Volume) and 30reps Total Volume a reduction of 40% Volume

AS you can see now from the second example the sets can remain the same and the reps can change, provided your Total Weight Volume is increased you will be progressively overloading, thus getting bigger and stronger.

*PROVIDED YOU’RE EATING ENOUGH!

Hopefully now you have a solid understanding of what Volume is and what it actually means.

Tomorrow I shall be covering Intensity.

If you have any questions please leave a comment below.

Enjoy
Ross

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