Tag Archives: opinion

A little S&C for free.

Morning All,
Typically I will try and throw out various methods and bits of info for people to take away and try.
No specific reason for it other than if an idea crops up it might as well be shared.
You may find some of the older programs below useful.
You may not, either way they’re there.
One thing I have noticed in the age of the internet is the abundance of info and free stuff, it’s quite the time to be alive.
The slight issue is that it means people don’t go looking for the right info, just what they want to read.
Take some free training sessions people share.
Most are high volume bollocks that has no rhyme or reason.
There is little focus on developing much of anything in their training and it’s all for the attention.
While it is true there’s many ways to the top of the fitness mountain each one needs strength.
Here in lies the problem, people don’t want to get strong.
As such this little protocol today is focused on that very thing, with some added extra for those who want to leave feeling their heart race (because people are addicted to feeling that they’ve done something).
– Main Movement(s): 2-3-5
– Accessory Movement: Time or Distance Goal
– Conditioning Element: Optional sprint protocol
You might be wandering what I mean by 2-3-5 in the main movement, it’s pretty simple yet will be rather scary to some people.
You literally just to a set of two, then rest, then a set of 3 and rest some more and finish with a tough set of 5.
Yep, the 2 & 3 are your warm up sets.
This goes against conventional wisdom and that’s why it works.
You’ll need to have some focus as this doesn’t give you the option of pissing about.
Here is an example day with 2 main lifts performed as a super set (you can pick as main man lifts as you choose and perhaps have easier ones to potentiate harder ones).
A1 – Deadlift 2-3-5 Rest 120 seconds
A2 – Press 2-3-5 Rest 120 seconds
B1 – Famers Walk 10min x20m carries
C1 – Rowing Interval 8/12 x5min
Depending only our time you can be in and out of the gym in 20min or stretch it to 45, that’s up to you.
In regards to progression (if you keep the movements the same) add 2-3% to your top lift each session and milk it for all its worth.
Funny how many people miss that little gem.
If something is still progressing and producing results stick with it as long as possible.
^^ On average a lift/movement does well for about 6 sessions for most people and then needs changing as a guide.
Take a read on the above and leave your thoughts below.
If this isn;t for you that’s cool however I’d like you to take away one thing; train for strength first and foremost because being weak isn’t good and will lead to an early grave.

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Reflective Thought

If there is one thing I’ve learned over the years so far it is this; we are all scared of feeling inadequate.

Now this can be socially, physically, intellectually, emotionally, in fact in anything, as such we will make excuses, we cling to our familiarities and resist change with everything we have. 

Most won’t admit it. 

I’m not above this, I too have had those things I’ve held on to for too long, yet being aware of thee things does make you see your own flaws and folly in trying to freeze time. 

Given this is a fitness based group and fitness is very much all I’ve ever done it is easy to see those who the lie to themselves again and again and again to protect themselves.

Those who chase size felt powerless at some point.

Those who carve an aesthetic akin to a greek statue was once not desirable, inadequate you might say. 

Those who were morbidly obese and shamed for it vowed never to be there again. 

Of course not true in all situations, however you’d be surprised how often this is the case, whether people admit it or not. 

One thing to listen for is the emotive words people throw at you when sending a rebuke your way because it is commonly how they see things, and what they attribute to themselves. 

You may disagree, however experience tells me differently on this one.  

This was prompted by something someone said to me recently, the way it was worded got he cogs turning and this was the result, now given how I know them there is a hint of hypocrisy in their view and words, yet they push the past away because of being weak and powerless before, where as I hold on to things, despite saying otherwise. 

We are betrayed by our actions, the reveal more than we want them to, yet they also show us what we need to do if we wish to stay as we are or ascend to something different.

I won’t say it will be better because that might not be true, however it will be different and in that change there is the chance to learn what we need to achieve better, or what we deem to be better. 

Even then, we may spend years chasing something we think we want and like a dog chasing a car, once we get it we have no clue what to do with it. In this it is more the thought of the goal that actually excites people, more so than the actual goal itself or even achieving it. 

Change, or don’t, grow or freeze time, regardless of which, just be content with the choice and also accept you will be judged for it because that is just what we do.

We judge people, however we only tend to judge those we either deem beneath us or so far above us it helps make them more human, it’s rare we judge our own ilk because they are familiar, like refections on a still point, we don’t fear or revile what we recognise, it’s only that which is different we dislike. 

No need for comments or anything of that nature, this was just something floating around in my mind that I felt I’d share. 

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Testing for the experienced

“If you’re not assessing you’re guessing”

A good quote many would benefit from remembering.

When it comes to programming any form of training there is a large amount of people that do it blind.

This means they jump in head first without first assessing the basic strength, ability or condition of their trainees, it’s a shocking state of affairs.

While you may indeed get away with this if your clients are exclusively bodybuilders, this sort of behaviour won’t cut it with people who are interested in performance or strength. The chances of success are about the same as hitting a fish in a barrel with no fish in it.

So what tests do you have?

  • RM Test (squat, bench, deadlift are the classics)
  • Vo2 Max Test (1.5 mile run for example is often used)
  • ROM Testing (movement/flexibility can be FMS or other)

That’s essentially it for most people, and something all coaches/trainers should do, yet many don’t.

You literally have endless tests you can perform, however they will differ depending on the overall goal of the client.

If you’re looking at some options I will share with you what I use (keep in mind most people I see are after strength and/or performance progress).

RM Test – 1,3 or 5 reps

  • Squat
  • Power Clean
  • Press or Push Press (goal dependent)
  • Weighted Chin with Half Body Weight
  • Farmers Walk with Body Weight
  • Standing Broad Jump

The above give a good gauge of where the athlete is in regards to relative strength/power (Say I’m working with a sprinter, ideally they are hitting a 2xBW squat for 5 and 1.5xBW on the power clean, meaning they have optimal lower body strength/power)

Vo2 Test – Sport Specific

  • Example: 40 yard dash
  • Example: Watt Bike Test
  • Example: 2k Row

ROM Test

  • FMS (functional Movement Screen)

That’s essentially it.

This gives me a good idea of a persons level of strength, power, fitness and overall movement capabilities.

While a little different than what you may need, it’s worth remembering that having these is essential for good programming and progress.

Always assess, never guess.

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
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

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Butt Hurt to Commence in, 3…2…1…

Monday, Monday
So good to me
Monday morning
It was all I hoped it would be…
That means gym 7-8am, 2 meals already eaten, 2 articles written and a back tweak, yay for me :/.
Morning Guys,
I trust you all had a productive weekend, if you didn’t, well… shame on you.
There is a lot of protection for peoples ego/pride in the modern age and it seems to be having a negative effect because it is making people lazy, more lazy than they have ever been.
Obviously there are those who are the other end of the spectrum and are anything but, however those are not the majority, sadly.
What ever happened to tough love?
You know, people would see you fail in a catastrophic manor, give you a pat on the back with a few words of wisdom and then tell you to crack on and stop wallowing in the mud.
These days that approach would be considered insensitive, inconsiderate to peoples feeling, belittling, demotivating and not supportive of people. I’m all for helping people but wrapping them in cotton wool? Nope, not my style, it does nothing for building character or more importantly, resilience.
Now that’s a word from the past, resilience.
What happened to it?
It seems to have been forgotten in the channels of time along with – that’s life, get over it, better luck next time, toughen up and “perhaps you should try knitting”.
All joking aside, the kid gloves of the modern world are actually a very dangerous thing, they hold people back and give false expectations or rather, they give people a sense of entitlement and that is a very slippery slope, let me give you an example oh how this relates to fitness.
Person A – Works hard, does everything they should be doing to get their desired results, accepts set backs and take on board constructive critique on the chin for what it is (advice to help them grow) to allow progression. The they achieve results because they understand they have to work for them and that nothing ever comes easy. They earn their success. 
Person B – Works semi moderate to not really doing anything meaningful, does some of what they should do, feels life is against them and no one ever helps them, rejects critique because it hurts their feelings, stays in the comfort zone but feels they should get the same results as person A because they just should. Sadly results will happen initially then taper off fast, potential regress too and this is obviously not their fault at all… They feel entitled to success (this is not good). 
Now these are actually real examples of people, they haven’t been made up I am sorry to say.
Many of you know that nothing in life comes easy and chances are for the majority it never will, that’s just life. While I agree we need to be mindful of people and encourage them there also has to be a line where we say “Stop pissing about, the problem is you.” which we seem to be afraid to say nowadays.
Maybe it’s my attitude… It’s definitely my attitude, it doesn’t have time to waste on people who feel entitled, yep, that makes me an asshole but hey ho, we can either work hard or not, it’s that easy.
Which camp do you fall in to, honestly…
Work hard and you will achieve what you deserve in the end, accept life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, become resilient and earn your success, don’t expect it all to be given to you on a plate, you’re not entitled to success, work for it, earn it, deserve it.

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What’s Your View?

The age old saying –
“To look like an athlete you must train like one.”
It’s a good saying, however I personally feel people misinterpret what it actually means.
Be aware this is my personal philosophy on this saying that has developed and changed over the years through experience and working with various athletes of all levels.
Let’s take another look at the saying –
“To look like an athlete you must train like one.”
It really is quite motivating isn’t it, however people will take this as ‘You must follow an athletes training program to the letter if you want results.’ this is where the problems occur. The number one problem being most people are not athletes, even when compared to a novice level, thus they have no right to be training in that way.
Some will disagree with that statement from me, but once you’ve seen people burn out, get injured and everything else that comes with trying to train too far above their ability it will all become clear.
When we look at athletes it’s easy to forget where they started, however I can assure you it wasn’t training 3x per day with the volume and intensity they currently do. Chances are they trained like a beginner because that’s what they were.
To me saying above doesn’t mean you must train the same way an athlete does a their current level, it means you must have the MINDSET and ATTITUDE of an athlete.
What does an athletes mindset/attitude look like?
Well, if you stay jump they don’t ask how high, they automatically do it as high as they can and often go all out on everything. They don’t make excuses, they just do what they have to do to improve and the best ones listen to their peers and those who have more experience. Sometimes coaches will even have to hold an athlete (of any level) back because they will push too hard and injure themselves.
This mindset/attitude is something everybody needs and in time they will find they do indeed look and train like and athlete, but it took time, al long time because there are no shortcuts to results.

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Much Confusion There Is…

Hopefully you all had a great Christmas and got everything your heart desired, or at least protein, protein is always good.
In the local coffee shop I was chatting to a friend yesterday about her endeavours in training for her first bikini comp. She is clearly excited but after a short chat she asked my opinion on training for such an event this is where things got interesting.
I will be the first to admit that training people for that style of comp is not something that massively interests me because when people start cutting (for their first anyway) they can end up making themselves ill. I’ve seen plenty of people in prep look great 4-6weeks out and then crash hard. They start to get even leaner and even lose muscle, this is not a good thing as once they rebound after the show typically there is a fair amount of fat gain.
Obviously everyone has to start somewhere and learn form their experiences but from what can be seen in many first time competitors, they fall victim to an extreme and end up doing themselves some damage (hormonally, metabolically & mentally) because they drop calories too low too fast and us incorrect macro ratios. This is why I would always advise hiring an EXPERIENCED coach for prep because they will help you avoid this pitfall.
^^ Eric Helms – The Muscle & Strength Nutrition Pyramid, a great book for naturals and nutrition for comps, buy it.
Sorry, went off topic there. It just concerns me that people end up hurting themselves in an effort to impress others and follow a trend because they think their first show must be perfect, it doesn’t. Front he good Bodybuilders, Physique Athletes I know they said it took them anywhere from 5-10 shows onwards before they knew their body well enough to avoid problems (they all had coaches as well).
Right, I will get to the point now.
The confusion mentioned above was in regards to training, she asked my opinion on what she should do in her bulk (the phase she is in), here is what I had to say:
“While not my strong point, I would personally say to focus on at least 1 heavy exercise 2-6 reps for 15-25 reps total at 85%+ 1RM or RPE of 9.5, then for accessory work 2 exercises with 6-8 reps for 50 reps total with an RPE of 9-10 (last set being all out, and most sets being close to it), then maybe another 1-2 exercises on a weak point focus or isolation with perhaps 3xfail or 3×8-12 – RPE 8-10.
A standard Pull-Push-Legs Split on rotating days if possible or a body part split with adequate crossover planned in. As for CV it’s not massive on a bulk as it just makes things harder, perhaps 1 or 2 walks per week just for health purposes but that’s up to you. All in all it cals in the supposed ‘optimal’ guidelines for hypertrophy based on current writings and also what I’ve read/seen over the years in anecdote.”
^^ Eric Helms – Muscle & Strength Pyramid, Brad Schoenfeld – Science & Development of Muscular Hypertrophy, Christian Thibaudeau – High Threshold Muscle Building, Charles Poliquin – The Poliquin Principles. Books worth buying for all the knowledge.
It was at that point I could see her internally screaming.
She explained how what I said is different from what her current personal trainer says (12+ reps on everything, moderate weights – not terrible advice) and what he says different again from what her comp coach she is using says as well (12-15 reps +, lifting light).
^^ Pertty logical when cutting to help keep up volume but I’m personally not too sure that’s the best way to be on a bulk, it’s also been quite well documented that natural lifters will soon burn out on the stupidly high volume programs that the pro’s use on a regular basis. Check out PowerBuilding – this is something worth looking in to as a great many well known pros do this (Bradley Martin, Mike O-hearn etc)
Poor lady.
Now technically everyone is right because provided the volume was equated correctly to provide the stimulus she needed, plus correct nutrition/rest etc, growth would occur, however the strength gained would be the differing factor.
I told her to simply listen to her comp coach to avoid any further confusion and that my opinion was just that, my opinion and not to be taken over her current coach.
It’s interesting that there are so many schools of thought to which is the most optimal route to go for building muscle for a comp, however if you look at many of the successful champions they all have/had one thing in common, do you know what it was?
No, not steroids, although that’s true for most past a certain level.
They were all brutally strong and you can get strong lifting piddly weights, not really. They all built a massive amount of muscle before they stepped foot on stage, just look at what they used to lift, Reg Park could press a total of 235lbs (two dumbbells) for multiple reps in the strict overhead press, Arnie had a 700lbs deadlift, Grimek has a 400lbs+ overhead press, Tom Platz could squat 500lbs for 23 reps, you get the picture.
Many people who have admirable physiques put in plenty of time getting strong in the 2-6 rep range and building a density of muscle and used 8-12 for their volume so they could have the biggest piece of granite to chisel in to the perfect sculptures you see on stage. After all, you can’t carve a goliath master piece out of a pebble.
Just something to think about.
Almost every method will work to some degree and almost every method will work for some one. If you want to avoid confusion look for trends, you know, the majority and similarities of successful people (they all lift heavy when not cutting, and keep a small portion of heavy lifting when they do cut as well) and that my friends is one way to reduce your confusion, or increase it dramatically, sorry in advance.

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The Science of Lifting, should you really care about what the science says?

Morning Guys,
I’m sure many of you are aware that the term ‘evidence based’ coaching has become incredibly popular over the last few years, almost to the point that it’s becoming quite annoying because people won’t break out of their comport one to try something different unless it’s had a study done on it’s validity with several peer reviews. Seriously, I know people who think this way.
In the last few years it almost seems that people have become snobs and quick to dismiss those who don’t have a Phd or 100 studies to back up a point. The age of the PubMed warrior has truly arrived.
Another note worthy point is some of the strongest, leanest and most muscular men & women never read the science, they learn from others and give what ever they’re doing there all. There are also a lot more of these people than you realise as well.
Don’t get me wrong. I very much enjoy reading the literature as to why something works and the fact that there are people willing to prove how/why something works is great, but let us not forget that before al the science was widely available there were plenty of people who made progress without it.
How did they do it?
Experience, anecdote and best of all; trial & error.
Have you ever taken that leap of faith and tried something based on recommendation? Of course you have, but now in the world of lifting people have become paralysed by over analysing things (I am guilty of this).
I remember reading a quote from Brooks Kubik that struck a cord with me, it went along the lines of “Simply try it. What’s the worst that can happen? Nothing, in which case you can go back to your old routine, but if I’m right and you start getting the best results of your life then it was worth the risk. Wouldn’t you agree?” – I’m sure I’ve mixed in several different quotes there but you get the idea.
The one thing I want you to take away from this post is this:
The science and proof of things is not to be dismissed but sometimes a little faith can go a long way. There’s no harm in trying something for 3-6months that hasn’t been scientifically proven, you can always go back to what you were doing if it doesn’t work.
Remember you don’t need scientific proof as permission to try a different training method.


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