Tag Archives: powerlifting

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
etc
 
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
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Can’t add any more weight?

Three ways to progress without adding weight to the bar –
 
1: Add Reps
2: Add Sets
3: Reduce Rest
 
We all love lifting more weight, it’s very rewarding, however it’s not always possible and because of that reason we need other ways in which we can keep progressing.
 
Above are three simple adaptations that we will cover.
 
1 – Adding Reps
 
Say you’re doing 5×5 at 60kg, yet you can’t hit the same 5×5 at 62.5kg.
 
Now you can add in fractional plates to your training that weight as little as 0.25kg however if you don’t have those then adding reps will be your best bet.
 
Perhaps you set out to add a rep each session until you are doing 5×7, or perhaps 5×10, the choice is yours, however what you will find is that by adding reps and setting a rep goal you’ll be able to add weight easily once you hit the added reps with ease.
 
2 – Adding Sets
 
Similar to above except the reps stay the same, so 5×5 might end up being 10×5 and so on.
 
You could even choose to combine the two and start off at 5×5, work to 5×7 then add a set and go back to 6×5, build that to 6×7, then on to 7×5 building to 7×7 all the way until you hit 10×7, you get the idea.
 
3 – Reducing Rest
 
This falls in to the category of Density Training with increases Oxygen debt and EPOC, getting the same amount of work done in less time is a great way to not only make progress in terms of strength and lean muscle mass but also stripping fat off.
 
If you’re doing the standard 5×5, the rest might be say 5min, you can easily make a dent by taking it down by 15-30 seconds each session until you’re at just 1min rest between each set. From here you’ve got the choice of adding weight or perhaps even utilising one or both of the methods from above if you’re still finding adding weight a tall order.
 
The three options above are simple and very easy to apply, however it will retire you to stay on the same workout protocol for a while, at least on your main lifts and this can be an arduous task for some people, you’ve been warned.
 
If in the event that you can’t add any more weight, you’ve hit your limit for that move, you can change the exercise to a different variation, so perhaps overhead press turns in to incline press, or incline press in to close grip bench press and so on.
When you stall on a weight drop it by say 5-10% and then utilise the methods above, you won’t regret it.
 
The secret to progress is progress, achieve it in any way you can.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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The First Rule of Lifting Club

Morning Guys,
 
Do you know the first rule of lifting club?
 
No Moaning, head down and LIFT!
 
You will often see the guy/gals in the gym that everybody else admires, this people all have one thing in common, they didn’t like the way they looked so they decided to do something about it and stop being a victim of circumstance.
 
Most people will do a set of 12 with their 15rep load where as the successful ones will strive and struggle to do a set of 12 with a 10rm load because they know that’s what it takes to get better.
 
Everyone has a select method that works for them but the only way they find it is through years of trial and error. In that time they find things that work well and some that work better, they also find things that were a complete waste of time but they needed to do these things so they could find their own personal Holy Grail, make sense? You need to do the same through learning as well.
 
Speak to successful people, success leaves clues after all, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, read books, hire a coach, do everything you can to learn and understand. Don’t be a fish caught in the tide, be the mighty salmon that strives to fight it’s way up stream and go against the current because that’s where what you want will be found.
 
So stop moaning ans start working hard.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Looking Objectively.

I had someone ask me about a couple of studies that lean towards high frequency being the key to ascension, now while there is a very strong correlation with how much you can train/recover from and the gains you will make I feel there are some key points people need to be aware of with the majority (not all) of the studies on high frequency training, well, most training actually.

If you think about the bulk of studies from the past and indeed more recent times they are based on Weightlifters many will forget what a weightlifter actually is. These people often practice two move for their sport – Clean & Jerk, Snatch – because those are the two lifts performed in the Olympics and as you can guess, these types of athletes train multiple times per day consecutive days per week, but do you know why?

…..

They train that much because they’re practicing a SKILL. Yep, weightlifting is a skill, where as weight lifting (synonymous with body building) is less about skill and more about stimulation of a specific muscle. There is a very big difference between practicing a skill every day and trying to build muscle. One needs constant work because a movement pattern must become as efficient, effective and energy conserving as possible, the other is about giving it all you’ve got, essentially.

When practicing weightlifting the loads they use may indeed be written as 85%+ however for a 75kg lifter might only be 85kg for example and the total taxation on the body with that amount of weight won’t be as great as someone doing front squats with 120kg because the load is heavier and requires more effort to shift. This is why some people who try a high frequency training program for a body building purpose don’t always get the results they expect, the weights they need to lift just take too much out of them. However this sort of approach is useful for strongmen, power lifters, girevoy sport competitors (kettle bell sport) and anyone involved in strength sport because they need to groove their movements.

Does that makes sense?

I’m not saying high frequency isn’t good because I am a fan of it. What I’m saying is that before you go charging in head first after reading the latest study or article you need to understand the finer nuances of first. Especially when it comes to the sample group used. If they are lifters of 10 years experience what applies to them almost always won’t apply to someone who have been lifting for 6 months.

Remember, objectivity, not subjectivity.

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Strength is Skill

The pursuit of strength is an endeavor that can take many many years, but there is no better feeling than being able to effortlessly pick things up or put objects over your head struggle free.

Depending on who you speak to you will hear lots of differing opinions of how to build strength, however if you look at lots of older strength books and methodologies you will notice to common theme is set around 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps for effortless gains in strength and while there will be some differences from person to person in terms of over all sets (sometimes as high as 20!), they all say you should want to feel like you have maybe one or two potential reps left in the bag.

Training for strength is thought by some as constant struggle to get an extra rep, but you will often find that the really strong people would rather feel like every rep is easy and stop feeling they have a couple left in the bag, even if the weight is heavy. This style of athlete does not like grinding reps or excessive form break down as this leads to fatigue building up much faster than they would like which means more times is needed to recover.

Across the world there have been many great strength athletes but it’s the Russians, Bulgarians and their neighboring countries who have produced the majority. Why is this?

They believe that to lift a lot you need to lift a lot and often, but not to the point of form breakdown and excessive fatigue. They see strength as a skill that needs to be practiced regularly and thus the set their sets/reps according to this ethos.

Achieving easy strength requires time, patience and most of all perfect practice (or as close to perfect as possible). Grooving the movement so that it is effortless requires lots of repetition and consistency on your core movements (Squat, Bench, Deadlift for Powerlifters and the Clean & Jerk/Snatch for Weightlifters), you can add in various accessory movements to help balance the body as these are essential but if your goal is strength then lots of easy reps at sub-max weight is what you need.

Here are a couple of rep ranges to consider:

3×3, 3×4, 3×5
4×3, 4×4, 4×5
5×4, 5×4, 5×5
5-4-3-2-1
1-2-3-4-5
5-3-2 x2

There are lots of options but if you’re thinking about practicing your lifts daily then the above rep ranges will do just fine. You would load the bar with 80%+ (after warm up sets of course) and you would aim to never miss a rep while making sure they were all smooth and without any grinding.

Alternatively you could set a daily working rep range of 15-25 and hit those numbers however way you want. Just hit all the reps with good form and always leave a couple of reps in the bank. It is true you will have days where you feel exceptionally strong, if that is the case then you are more than welcome to try for a new rep pb or even a single rep pb, but be careful not to leave your best numbers on the gym floor, these are better suited to the comp stage.

Training in this manor will not only help you cement solid form in your movements it will also help you learn your body too. Meaning that you will know when you’re ready for a big lift and can go that little harder and when to back it off slightly.

If you start to feel overly tired then drop the volume (sets/reps) but keep the weights at 80%+, or scheduled in a rest weekend/week.

Strength is a skill, now go and start practicing.

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Do You Even Daily Max?

A question was asked yesterday about what exactly a Daily Max is meant to be, today will be the answer to that question.

The term daily max is often used by Power Lifters and Strength Athletes and is in reference to building up to a kinda max for the day. There is little need to worry about percentages and it’s based on how you FEEL for that day.

This was popular in Russia and other similar countries and it’s also worth knowing that the Westside Conjugate Method is based on this principle so you know where to look for proof of its effectiveness.

Another trait of the daily max is that it doesn’t mean you have to go for 1 rep, the max for that day could be 3,5 or even 8 if you’re hard core. Maxing out daily might seem counter intuitive because for most people working at 90% or above of your actual 1RM for more than 3 weeks will literally destroy their CNS but a daily max doesn’t have to be based on one of the big 3 lifts; you can use any lift you like.

If you’re looking for a recommendation using any number of reps other than 1 is the way forwards because it’s often safer. The sam is true for exercise variation, but here is an example of a typical week for you:

Monday: 3rep DM – Front Squat
Tuesday: 6rep DM – Incline Press
Wednesday: 8rep DM – Good Morning/Box Squat
Thursday: 2rep DM – Comp Style Bench
Friday: 2rep DM – Comp Style Squat
Saturday: 5rep DM – Snatch Grip Deadlift

A daily max is a great way to keep your body accustomed to lifting heavy and being ready for a big lift. Use it to bring up your weaknesses so that your strengths become even stronger.

Enjoy
Ross

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