Tag Archives: planning

How to make progress: Part 6 – Phase Potentiation

Sounds technical, so what is it?
Put simply it’s the realisation of all the hard work you’ve put in leading up to a comp or end game goal. Some also call it ‘peaking’.
As you look back at your specific goal you can see what you need to specifically focus from month to month to create the optimal sequence to gain maximum results.
For example, say your goal is to lift a heavier 1RM.
You start off with perhaps base skill work (if needed), you then move on to hypertrophy and hypertrophy only, this will help you build the bigger muscles that can potentially produce more force. That’s phase one.
After this you will look to strength training, now you will start to teach those muscles to generate that extra potential force, this is phase two.
Next on the list might be specific strength training (peaking), now you’re purely focusing on the lift and perhaps little else so you can work towards that goal of lifting more. You’ll again be hoping the new muscle learn to generate maximal force, that’s phase three.
You will have some deloads/voume reductions etc to help combat fatigue and aid progress, however will all the foundational work you’ve now laid you can get ready to test your new max.
That is how phase potentiation works.
You go from a starting point and follow a logical order in your mesocycles to allow you to hit your goal in the most effective way, simple.
Think of it like building a pyramid, the bigger/broader the foundation, the more layers there will be and the higher the peak can potentially be.
Apply the to your training and watch your results soar.

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Mindless minutia

Morning All,

Over the years Ive tried to share lot’s of info that covers various different aspects ranging from nutrition, lifting, health, mindset and more.

Some of the most important lessons I’ve learnt and tried to share sadly get missed among all the other content, for a spiel reason too.

The stuff that works isn’t sexy.

There are no flashy titles, not catchy phrases or set/rep schemes, no fancy exercises or hybrid movements to showoff and for that reason people might take a quick glance but will largely ignore the lessons and messages in the words.

In all the time I’ve spent in the world of fitness so far there are three truths that always come back around, no matter ho hard people try to ignore them.

The are:

  1. Work hard for results
  2. Consistency is king
  3. You’re the problem

Now many might not agree with the last one, but it’s true. We are quick to blame any and everything else and while we can seek  help from external sources such as trainers, coaches and alike, it’s down to us to do what needs to be done because put simply, no one els tis going to do it for you.

A lot of people get caught up in the minutia.

  • How many exact sets/reps should I do
  • What precise loads must be used
  • If eating this carb should I time it with this protein and consume it 53.5 minutes after a workout for optimal gains

Blah blah blah blah blah

The list goes on.

I can understand why people want short cuts, we all do, but sometimes there just aren’t any or at least none that will provide a lasting result and that seems to be the hardest part for people to accept.

The little things, while important later down the line tend to serve no real purpose in the initial stages of people journeys in the word of fitness for one simple reason, they’re not ready of them yet. They’re not strong in the basic human movement patterns/exercises, nor are they making optimal choices in their nutrition (eating whole foods etc), they are so fixated on the specifics that they miss the big picture and spend large chunks of time faffing about not achieving much. We’re all guilty of it, myself especially.

In our modern world we are in a rush to make things as complicated as possible because complicated is perceived as better, this is usually not the case.

Ask yourself, have you made things (lifting/nutrition) overly complicated?

Next, take a look at what you’re doing and see if it is necessary or not, if it’s not then remove it.

Here is a place to start if you need some guidelines for your workouts:

  • Keep a training dairy to track progress
  • Train 2-4 times per week covering the whole body in that time
  • Pick 3 exercises per session (compound lifts are top trumps)
  • Perform 25-50 reps per exercise
  • Focus on adding weight when you hit the top end of the reps
  • Rest as much as needed but as little as possible
  • Keep sessions to 45-60min

Some tips for nutrition:

  • Keep a diary
  • Eat according to the goal you have (fat loss or muscle gain)
  • The majority of what you eat should be whole foods
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Be consistent

That’s pretty much it, you could stick with these basics for a very long time and make great progress.

Try not to worry about the finer details, not yet anyway.

Enjoy, Ross

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Two ways to stay on track in January.

The first couple of weeks in January are often the easiest for people to stay committed to the cause because they are gilled with motivation, however this can start to chance around week three/four and I would like to give you two tips to help you avoid this happening.
1 – Get other people involved.
This can mean a great many things, the best way to look at it is by finding a gym buddy or telling a close few people publicly what you’re doing so that they can help hold you accountable if you do start to fall off the wagon.
You will find that the fear of letting people down can be a great motivator, it’s true it won’t work for everyone and that is why I have tip number two for you.
‘What’s in it for me’
That is what WIIFM stands for and this is a great way to show you just how many benefits you will get from sticking with your fitness journey. Here are some examples:
– Better health
– More confidence
– Increased daily energy
– Clarity of mind and better thinking ability
– New friends
– Learning fitness can be fun (group exercise etc)
Those are only a few reasons but you will find that sticking with your New Years fitness journey will be a great benefit to you in the long run because the positives far outweigh the negatives (early morning gym sessions, hard sessions, buying new clothes).
Bonus Tip: Set a SMART goal and have someone who really means a lot to you counter sign it.
Remember you’re not alone when you feel things get hard, almost everyone has been there at some point, just remember you’ll regret giving up far more than you will pushing through the tough times and reaping the rewards of your labours.

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Brain Gains

Do you like to read?

I’m sure you like to read because reading helps us grow as people and is one of the greatest ways of gathering years of accumulated knowledge in a very short space of time, pretty amazing, right.

Here are three books that will help you improve not only your training but also your mindset as well.

1 – Eat That Frog – Brian Tracey
2 – Dinosaur Strength Training – Brooks Kubik
3 – The Renaissance Diet – Renaissance Periodisation

These three books will help you in the following ways:

1 – Doing what you NEED to do and understanding what it is.
2 – Simplifying your training for maximal benefit.
3 – Understanding how nutrition actually works.

Aim to read a chapter of each book per day and you will find you start to make sense of a lot of things in the world.


*Bonus Book – The Art of Thinking Clearly – Rolf Donelli – Break free of YOUR logical fallacy.

*Bonus Book 2 – The Art of War – Sun Tzu – It’s just an epic read, plus it’s useful if you’re planning world domination too.

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3 Ways to Gain

It’s been said that the truly successful people out there have the perfect balance of science and anecdote. I have to say I’m inclined to agree.

In this group we all enjoy a good debate and discussion about training, nutrition, mindset and ‘supplements’ however I feel there are lots of things we don’t cover as well, such as the length of time required for progress, how to accurately create a training plan based on DUP, Block Periods and so on.

It would be great to have people put up suggestions regarding various topics and also the backing (both scientific/anecdotal) for their claims. This is so that knowledge can be shared and lessons can be learnt.

I will start with a brief snippet on the different ways to build muscle/strength and where I got the info from.

You can stimulate growth one of three ways:

1 – Heavy Lifting
2 – Constant Tension
3 – Volume/Cumulative Fatigue

How do they work?

1 – Heavy Lifting (as it sounds, Franco’s fav):

– Micro-trauma, a high force output leads to a high rate of protein degradation, meaning increased protein synthesis post training.

– Neural factors, you can recruit more muscle fibres/motor units more efficiently, meaning you can lift more weight progressively over time.

– Hormonal response is typically an increase of free Testosterone.

*Christian Thibaudeau speaks of this in detail in the book ‘Black Book of Strength Training Secrets’ well yea actually speaks about this in all his books to be fair.

2 – Constant Tension (pump training, Arnold’s fav):

– When you perform a strength/hypertrophy training exercise while starving the target muscle of oxygen through constant tension, several things happen: lactate production increases, hGH and IGF-1 levels (very anabolic hormones).

– Muscle is being stimulated finds itself in a hypoxic state (oxygen deprived), fast-twitch fiber activation is increased as a result, it has been said this is due to the type 1 fibres lack of activation because of the shortage of available oxygen to said target muscle.

– Sets lasting at least 30 seconds, preferably 40-70 seconds of time under maximal tension (to maximize lactate production).

*Check out Dr Squat (Dr Fred Hatfield) and his book ‘A Scientific Approach to Bodybuilding or any of his other books.

3 – Volume/Cumulative Fatigue (reps for days, Serge Nubrej’s fav):

– Volume work with short rest periods (90 seconds tops – this also helps increase IGF1 & HGH) typically will increase the number of muscle fibers being stimulated via the cumulative fatigue effect.

– Due to the moderate weights used they type 1 fibres become fatigued meaning more type 2 recruitment will occur to keep you pumping out the reps.

– The more total volume the more adaptation is required, meaning more muscle growth to keep up with the volume demands. Think of rowers and other athletes that have high volume outputs and their overall muscular size.

*This is mentioned in several of the books written/co-authored by Zatsiorsky, check out ‘Super Training’.

Usually you will end up combining al three of these method in some way shape or form over the years, but for those who didn’t know this is how muscle/strength typically is built. I’ve always used the Heavy Lifting Method,, however I got he best results when I had a high degree of TUT (constant tension) as well but like a true idiot I stopped with the maximal tension because it was hard going….

More fool me.

What knowledge are you going to share?

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A Common Fear

Do you know the is one thing almost everyone has in common?


A lot of people fear change.
We find something that works, that feels good and gets us to new heights, then only to become scared about losing the progress we have made by adapting our routine and changing. This is where a lot of people fall down, MYSELF included.
I can draw on personal and professional experience and quite easily say that making changes is good, so long as they are the right changes.
How do you know what the right changes are though?
There are two answers to that question:
1 – You don’t.
2 – You do.
I know that is a contradiction but it is very true and I will explain why.
At the start of your training or even life journey you have no knowledge and try lots of things until you find the one that works, once you do you stick with it until it stops working and sadly stay there wasting time because you’re scared to change. After a while of being stagnant you take the plunge and try something new, then, low and behold you get new results and once again start to make progress. You then repeat this until you hit the same problem as before and repeat this process for several years.
After around 3-5 years some people finally have the realisation that they need to change their training and train hard until they stop getting results that way,THEN they change again and repeat, thus successfully making progress, all be it very small and slow, but that is better than no progress at all. If you need an example think of it this way; you were doing a full body 5×5 3 days per week for 12 months, then swapped to a body part split of 4 days per week (2 upper, 2 lower), the split lower the overall frequency of how much you’re training each muscle group (3xPW to 2xPW) but it will allow you to work harder and increase the overall session by session volume, this means more progress. You have made a change that while on paper looks like you’re doing less it allows you to do more.
Make sense?
Once you adapt to that volume you can increase the frequency again to once again elicit a positive adaptive response.
As with knowing and not knowing there are two ways you can establish your progression patterns:
1 – Intuition, trial & error.
2 – Tracking and Optimal Programming
I will always push people towards option 2 because there is not one person I know who hasn’t at some stage in their training had a program or structured plan to follow. EVERYONE started off following a plan, be that training or nutrition. While it is true that as they progress they will need this less and less as they know their own body, the best of the best still keep notes, this is why they are at the top.
Take a look at your training and see how your progress has gone, unless you’ve not recorded any of your training, in that case just keep guessing and it will work in the end.

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Progression Pirameters

If you lift weights or even just train in general, progression is the name of the game but with all the options available, what is the best way to progress?

The typical answer you will hear is ‘it depends.’ which in fairness is true to some degree, however when people often ask a question they want something a little more substantial in the answer they receive. Therefore toady we shall run through some of the best ways to progress when it comes to lifting weights and getting stronger.
Below is three methods of progression that are easy to follow and if done for an extended period of time will yield some great results.
1 – Consolidation Method.
There are several different names for this method, however the principle is the same and that is what matters the most.
Lets say you do 5×5 on 140kg in your first squat session. Instead of adding weight for the next session you will repeat the 5×5 at 140kg to consolidate your efforts and clean up any form or speed issues you had the first time you hit the 5×5. This method is great for lifters who have been lifting for at lest 3 years and will allow for a longer period of progression and building muscle/strength.
2 – Rep Progression Method.
A favored method among lifters who prefer going off of feel as opposed to strict numbers. This method allows for a little more freedom and some varied rep ranges, you can build a good amount of overall heat to toe strength with this style of progression. Pick a rep range you want to hit, say 25 reps on bench press with 100kg but limit the amount of sets* you’re going to do to say 3 and hit that rep target in either the 3 sets target or less. Once oyu hit your rep goal you can add weight.
If you wonder how this works you might have something that looks like this in your note book on week one – 100kg X 8,7,5 = 20 rep total – 5 reps short of goal. Week two may be better with 10,9,7 giving you 26 reps putting you over your target, thus allowing for an increase in weight. Simple.
3 – Back Off Set Progression.
Similar to the rep goal system this progression is based on hitting a specific weight with a certain weight however you only get one set to do it. You will do your working sets for the day, this might be 3×3 at 200kg on Deadlift followed by a Back Off set of say 10-20 reps (depending on the exercise – 10 for deadlift and 15-20 for press/squat). You can set the Back Off weight at 80-85% of your working weight for the day and proceed to do one set of reps. If you hit your goal of 10-20 then increase the weight on the main exercise.
The methods above will help you continue to progress at a slow and steady pace because that’s actually how it tends to work for most people. I would advise for most late beginner to intermediate lifters to increase the weights by 2.5kg to all pressing movements and 5kg for all squatting movements and 5-10kg for deadlifting movements as a baseline guide. More advanced lifters may increase much less, so long as there is an increase that means progression, remember progression is the key.
You don’t have to use any of these methods, they are nothing more than tools to help you on your journey.

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You’re Not Ready

Morning Guys,

There is a key element to training that is often forgotten.

Do you know what it is or have you also forgotten about it?


Any Ideas yet?

Recovery…It’s recovery that is often forgotten about.

The definition of recovery is the return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength. When this relates to training that means that you are able to lift the same weight you did previously with the same efficiency, however if you have recovered adequately from the stimulus that you subjected the body to previously you will experience an adaptation/super compensation where you now are stronger than before, meaning you can handle more weight, more reps, more sets, less rest time or a combination of them. If you can’t then it’s arguable that you haven’t recovered.

There are some elements that will help improve your recovery:

– Sleep – You will be ideally getting 6-8 hours of sleep per night.

– Nutrition – Hit at minimum your basal caloric requirement but ideally a surplus of 300-500 calories.

– External Stress – Life… Just life. Work, Money, Relationships, all of these can affect your recovery if they cause your stress levels to be elevated on a constant basis.

In an ideal world these would be managed, it’s worth remembering that out of the three sleep is by far the most important. Stress isn’t far behind as it can affect your sleep, so you could say they are on par, ish.

Why is sleep top trumps in my book?

If sleep is disturbed you will find that homeostasis will be thrown out and your body will rapidly start to decline, even if your nutrition is on point and stress is well managed you will find that a lack of sleep will still take its toll.

Second on the list of importance would be stress. If you’re overly stressed you will find that can not only affect your ability to recover but it can also affect your sleep and your nutritional choices too (you will go looking for sugary foods to increase serotonin levels and lower cortisol).

If your nutrition is a bit lacking it’s not the end of the world, after all, nutrition is easy to sort with some simple tweaks and tracking. Obviously the quality of your food will also have an impact on your recovery, optimally eating the majority of our calories from single ingredient whole foods will yield the best macro/micronutrient profile, if you’re a fan of simple sugars then post workout would be the most optimal time to have these. Try to avoid foods that cause you gut irritation or gastric distress (this will vary from person to person, tracking what you eat and how you feel will help you find out what agrees and what doesn’t).

All in all it’s the management of your sleep and your stress levels that will have the biggest impact on you ability to recover.

To review the points above:

– Sleep – 6-8hour per night
– Stress – 10min daily meditation & 30min walks help lower cortisol.
– Nutrition – Eat mostly single ingredient whole foods at 3-500cal surplus.

Get these right and you will find your recovery is second to none.


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