Tag Archives: practice

Skills Skills Skills

Life is all about acquiring skills.

Think about it.

As kids we learn to crawl, then walk, then run an jump an play which finally lead in to minor sports and activities, however the best part about all that is the sense of achievement, wether you’re aware of it or not.

We like learning new things and more importantly being good at them, training should be no different.

That being said, there are plenty of exercises that people will avoid like the plague not because of a legitimate excuse but for the fact that they’re not good at the moment and it brings their ego down a peg of three.

If we take squatting for example.

A squat is something everyone assumes they can do, nay, they expect they can do, so when someone tries and struggles or perhaps fails to execute it with any good form they get disheartened and start to avoid the movement, usually opting for leg press or machine work.

Squatting is a skill, much the same as pressing, deadlifting, running, jumping, throwing and so on. The only difference is how quickly a person can learn that skill (major injury or medical reasons aside), some take longer than others but that doesn’t mean you should give up on it.

Something I’ve noticed in other people as I’ve gotten older is just how lacking in resilience they are. If something doesn’t happen instantly or go their way from the start they get pissy, make excuses and give up, bot a good trait to have.

Have I ever had the above attitude?

Yep, more times than I’d like to admit, however there’s no sense in lying about it so I might as well learn from it instead.

The main lesson I took away was this; thing take time, some more than others but everything comes with a cost of your time. You just have to pay it, if you really want to achieve anything that is.

I understand how frustrating it can be when things don’t go your way, oh and before you start thinking “I don’t agree with that.” stop, it’s human nature to get the hump when we don’t get what we want, just accept it, no one is here to judge you and if they are then let them, it literally has no effect on your life unless YOU allow it to.

Will you do something for me? Or more aptly put, will you do something for yourself.

Write down 3 skills you want to achieve.

Next, look at each skill and write down what you need to be doing to acquire that skill and HOW you’re going to achieve it.

Lastly, start working towards them.

Don’t give up, almost everything can be learnt/achieved if given enough time, you just have to want it bad enough.

Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

3 Tips to better technique.

Having solid technique is not only essential for safety but also if you want to shift big weights.
 
Solid form will mean you achieve more lifts and break more PR’s. This not only improves confidence but gains as well.
 
Here are three tips to help you improve your form:
 
1 – Sets of Singles
 
Let’s say you have a rep goal of 25 which you usually break in to 5×5, 6×4, 8×3 or any other rep scheme. Instead of doing your normal sets/reps you will simply perform 25 singles, meaning you have to put the bar back in the rack (or to the floor) and set up each and every rep. This will help you get used to nailing that first rep every time and greatly improve your form.
 
2 – 6-6-6
 
The devils scheme as some call it. You pick a weight that is RPE 6 and do 6 sets of 6 reps with a 6-0-6-0 tempo. This reduced tempo will force you to control your form each rep and improve your ability to maintain total body tension throughout your lifts.
 
3 – Video Records
 
An obvious one but something people still don’t do enough of. WE all have phones that can record short videos and this will give you the perfect opportunity to take a look at your form, after all, the camera doesn’t lie. You can use the feedback to tweak your technique as needed if you see any.
 
Use those three tips and you’ll find suddenly you start breaking plateaus and having less injuries.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Think or Feel

 
It is common that when people search the internet for a program and stumble across one with lots of % of 1RM they become confused because they are not entirely sure of what their 1RM actually is, but fear not, there are a couple of ways around this.
 
1 – RM Estimator
 
You can use an online calculator to estimate your 1RM or this simple formula:
 
Weight x Reps x 0.0333 + Weight = 1RM
 
You will find this isn’t far off your true 1RM. This then makes the programs with all of those confusing looking % much easier to tackle. Therefore when you see an article or post act has something like Deadlift 5x5x85% + Back Off Set x 60% AMRAP you won’t be like a rabbit in the headlights.
 
What if you don’t want to do the maths? Option 1 is for you.
 
2 – Let the reps dictate the weight.
 
This is a much easier approach for some and allows for an individual to gain a greater feel on what weights they can actually push, while stopping just short of total concentric failure (1-2 reps short). It’s quite easy to use this ideology, if you’re honest with yourself that is.
 
Say you had to do 6×8 on the squat with a 3-1-1-1 tempo. During your warm up I would suggest doing perhaps 2-4 sets of 8 until you find a weight where the 8th rep feels tough yet manageable, then take that as your first set. Each further set after this one will create some fatigue and strength deficit which will leave the 8th rep feeling pretty hard by set 4 and possibly unachievable by sets 7/8, if that is the case then you’ve picked the right weight and will simply repeat it the next workout and hopefully hit all 6×8 and then increase the overall load.
 
Now those are only two ways you can establish what weights to use, one for the more analytical amongst you and one for the more kinaesthetic.
 
Both have their benefits and their downsides.
 
The first option has the benefit of you knowing what you need to do from the get go, while second has the downside that requires more time to establish what you need. However, the second method give more benefit in the way of feedback and learning ‘feel’ so that you know how far you can push your body, unlike the first method that has the downside of set theoretical numbers which you may or may not hit.
 
Play around with both and see which one you prefer. Learning is all a part of the process and a vital one at that.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
 
Unknown-1

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Straight Lines

When it comes to using barbells the is one factor that they all have in common when it comes to correct execution of the various movements, do you know what it is though?

Pretty much all of the movements should move in essentially a straight line (there may be some deviance from this in the bench press/bent over row but that’s a topic of another day).
Lets brake down the most common movements and take a look at where the bar should be and ideally what path it should stay on.
Squat:
The bar needs to stay over your mid foot, any deviation from this can result in you tipping forwards or falling backwards. So long as the bar stays over your mid foot it will travel in a straight line on both the decent and ascent, depending on where you position the bar (front, high bar or low bar) the angle of your torso will differ to accommodate this and allow the bar to stay over mid foot.
I would suggest filming this from the side so you can gauge this, if you see the bar doing anything other than staying over your mid foot and traveling in a straight line then you have a problem and will be sacrificing how much weight you can lift. It is important to brace your abs as this will help keep the body in a better overall position, remember that the body is working as one in this lift.
Press:
I am referring to the overhead press, as I said above the bench press is a slightly different topic altogether.
The press starts at the shoulder/clavicle – over the center line of your body, you will be required to move your head back and out of the way to allow you to press the bar upward in a straight line so that it stays over the center line of your body. You will need to keep the elbows and forearms directly under the bar as you push straight up, often times people will try and push the bar away from them which causes a strange bar path and also excessive backwards lean and puts extra unneeded pressure on the lower back.
You will brace your abs by taking a deep breath in to your belly, this will help you avoid losing position and once again connecting the body from head to toe. As with the squat film this lift from the side.
Deadlift:
As with the other two lifts you will want the bar traveling in a straight line once again starting over mid foot, similar to the squat the bar ideally wants to stay there, if it does it will make your body work as one unit just like in the other two lifts. You will often see that when people set up the inadvertently nudge the bar forwards and out of this position when they set up (this is due to excessive forwards knee travel), as a result they will end up having to pull the bar in to them and afire their hips up first, thus turning this in to a craning motion that only uses the lower back as opposed to a full body movement.
Once again you will do well to fil this lift from the side, that way you will also be able to see how your overall position (upper back tightness, spinal position) looks.
The main take home from this short post guys is to be aware of where the bar is in relation to your body as you’re lifting it to ensure a correct bar path. DO NOT try to do this by the use of mirrors as you will end up watching yourself and losing concentration which lacks to the skill of ‘feeling’ how the lift is. Setting up a simple camera will allow you to concentrate 100% on the lift so it’s worth doing it. After a bit of practice you will find that you’re numbers start to increase because you’re more technically proficient.
Now go and get practicing.
Enjoy,
Ross
Unknown

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness