Tag Archives: practice

An old joke with an important lesson

“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
 
A poignant question with an answer that few would dispute.
 
Practice.
 
The same is true for many things because in essence the only way to get better at something is to practice said something.
 
Now this doesn’t just mean random practice.
 
Oh no.
 
It’s deliberate practice that has focus, purpose and meaning, otherwise you’re just wasting time being busy.
 
I mean, by all means be busy and do with your time as you choose because it’s your time, however don’t expect anyone to care if you don’t end up going anywhere.
 
A lot of people waste time, especially these days, the waste time doing things which make them happy instead of things that make them better.
 
Before they know it they’re no longer happy because everyone and everything else has moved on and they’ve stayed the same.
 
Such a shame really, yet that was their choice.
 
Anyway.
 
Lately I’ve had the pleasure of discussing programming with various different people who are looking to learn more about this Alice like Wonderland of a topic.
 
One common theme being seen is the frustration from acc individual that they just can’t get it.
 
Now given how complex the topic can be their frustration is understandable, yet as with anything the only way they will get better is with practice.
 
That means writing program after program after program.
 
Using things such as classic block periodisation, undulating, non-linear, concurrent and more.
 
It’s all exposure that will help in their skill.
 
The hardest part is asking for feedback on their triumphs, because sadly feedback has a couple of positive and many areas from improvement.
 
Some take it to heart, which of course they shouldn’t, lacklustre programming doesn’t make them a bad person, it simply means they’ve still got more growing to do, and that is never a bad thing.
While it will sting to hear criticism, you take it on the chin because that’s just what you do if you want to get better.

(Remember this, if people take the time to give you such time/feedback it’s because they care.)

 
Much like a lot of things in this life, we can only grow through time and we can only get better over that time if we practice.
 
Not just any old practice though.
 
Deliberate practice that has focus, purpose and meaning.
 
You should investigate this thoroughly.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Deliberate Practice FTW!

Did you know you’ll never be good at the things you don’t do.

🤯🤯🤯

I know right, quite the mind blowing sentence.

Funny thing is this is something a lot of people actually forget or just don’t seem to be aware of.

When it comes to fitness, or movement as a whole the use/disuse principle is quite really one people should keep in the back of their mind at all times.

If you are looking at having a certain set of skills they need to be practiced.

^^Once you acquire the skills maintaining them (depending on how high a level you want to retain) can take minimal effort.

Same goes for an area you’re aiming to improve or build upon, it needs some attention. 👀

All that being said, you’ve also got to accept there may be some form of sacrifice of what you have to gain what you want.

The cosmic balance must be maintained as it were.

I like to think of it like spinning plates.

You can spin only so many as one time, those will be the ones that are looking good yet there will be some that are slowing, others that are about to topple and a few that are already in free fall, that’s just life.

Using fitness as an example.

You are rather unlikely to bench press 500lbs while also being able to run a sub 5min mile pace on a marathon.

True enough it’s not an impossible task to achieve, however it’s just not probable or reasonable for many.

In our mind we see ourselves at our peak or what was our last peak of fitness, this leaves us with a hefty dose of cognitive dissonance in regards to our abilities.

You’ll also find it’s another reason people won’t push themselves out of their comfort zones and be humbled.

Unless it’s proven it can be ignored. 🤔

Many would rather live in blissful ignorance than uncomfortable awareness.

Sad but very true.

So to wrap up this little mid morning musing take some time to be honest with yourself.

What areas do you need to work on more than you do?

^^This can be in relation to fitness, life, business and more.

Give it some thought.

Enjoy,
Ross

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A bit of a tangent

***This post isn’t for body builders***
 
– The take away message is right at the bottom to save you time
 
Now the trigger warning is out of the way, let’s continue.
 
You like training, right?
 
Like most, and I’m guessing like you, I certainly do.
 
In fact training every day is something that makes me vary happy.
 
There is only one issue with this though, rigidity.
 
Have you ever heard of Greasing the Groove?
 
The brainchild of Russian lineage, and popularised by Pavel Tsatsouline, it involves picking a one or a handful of movements and practicing them daily.
 
You will rarely, if ever train to a state of fatigue.
 
In fact you should always be fresh at the end of every set, feeling stronger and that you could have done more is the ideal state to be in.
 
The issue for many with this is that they are so used to ‘working out’ they feel the need to leave a session even if its only 5min feeling destroyed, which is just not really a good mentality to have.
 
I get it though, I really do.
 
On a personal level, like you, I too want to feel like I’ve done something, that I’ve put in some effort and made progress, however just because we’ve killed ourselves that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.
 
Now there are times to push the envelope, just not all the time.
 
You can of course push it hard all the time if you choose, however there will be a price to pay.
 
You’re heart rate each session is 90%+……
 
You get no praise from me because that is worrying, in training you want to be floating around 50-70% of HRR for the most part, if you always end up with it higher then there could be an underlying issue with your body (nervous system, hormone levels etc).
 
Essentially somethings not right.
 
We like to chase the feeling, the rush.
 
It’s addictive, however the big question is this; why?
 
Why do you need it?
 
^^ A very long corridor to go down which we will save for another time, back to GTG.
 
Training daily and the potential rigidity that comes with it.
 
It can happen because we get attached to our habits, or rather the movements we are doing, for several reason.
 
– We get good at them
– We enjoy them
– We have now formed a habit
 
While in all honesty most people could literally forge a strong functional body with these 5 movements done daily (an no others for the rest of their life), it would perhaps get a tad dull in the end.
 
Daily Practice of Awesome
 
– Kettlebell Swing (1 or 2 handed) 75-250 reps total
– TGU 5-10 reps total
– Pull Ups (any variation) 5-10 reps total
– Push Up (any variation) 5-10 reps total
– Single Leg Squat (any variation) 5-10 reps total
– Ab Roll Out (or core variation) 5-10 reps
 
*There is nothing magic about the reps, they’re just sustainable.
 
That’s it, maybe 5min of mobility that involves crawling or climbing as well would be golden.
 
To be fair Swings, Crawling and Climbing (rope, wall, etc) would be life changing for most people.
 
Climbing a 10-20m rope once a day every day would give you so much more than spending 3 days in the gym ‘working out back’ from a health, longevity & functional stand point.
 
Where was I going with this…..
 
Oh yea, training daily.
 
Our bodies are meant to move and receive a stimulus on daily basis.
 
You don’t have to follow GTG – doing the same movement(s) each day for multiple sets of 2-3 reps throughout the day, however it’s a great way to get strong, add some lean mass and stay mobile.
 
You can do GTG by doing one different movement everyday, say Swings on Monday, Hand Balancing on Tuesday, Pistol Squats on Wednesday and so on.
 
This style, this philosophy of training is something you do for life.
 
You can do as many or as few movements as you choose, just try to pick ones that will keep you young (moving well), this means that while you can do bench press every day it may cost you shoulder health in the future, or it may not, I don’t know.
 
You’ve got any amazing opportunity you know.
 
That body of yours can do many great things, sow hy not capitalise on it 🤗
 
Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me today.
 
Take away message:
 
– Move daily
– Pick a few moves to do each day or….
– Pick one move to do periodically throughout the day
– Reps 2-3 per set or less than 50% of your max reps
– Always finish feeling stronger than when you started
– Have fun with it
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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2-3 days in the gym, everyday for practice

There are many ways to build an impressive physique.
 
Seriously, it’s almost endless.
 
Even with this being the case, there are a couple of key elements that often crop up consistently.
 
The first is Volume.
 
The second is Frequency.
 
As you can imagine they are both intrinsically linked.
 
It is not new knowledge that the more you can train and recovery from the more result you will accumulate, that’s how it works.
 
You may have gathered over the years that I favour the ‘less is more’ approach or rather ‘less done better’ as my go to because while higher volume/frequency is great, there comes a point where it’s not sustainable.
 
To the majority of people training 3-4 days per week (or 3 out of every 5) will provide them all that they need to make some epic progress.
 
However, if you enjoy a high frequency of training then there are ways you can achieve this while not killing yourself and also build a cracking physique.
 
The answer is to practice rather than train.
 
As strange as it might sound, it’s something that works very well because you’re not trying to kill yourself because you want to be able to do it again then next day.
 
Over time this allows you to accumulate a lot of volume and neurological/muscular (strength/hypertrophy) development.
 
Take upper body pressing muscles for example; delts, pecs, triceps etc.
 
Many a man wants these to be in plentiful proportions, so what could the answer be?
 
Endless bench press?
 
Perhaps, however you’d potentially end up with shoulder niggles, a far more optimal approach might be to look at training daily with movements such as Push Ups, Dips & Handstand walking/presses (on various bits or kit, EG rings).
 
You can supplement some classic lifting like bench press etc maybe twice a week, however the practice of the other movements is what you’d really be focused on.
 
Same goes for building a big back, think Pull Ups, Levers, Climbing, and then some classic lifting 2xPW as accessory.
 
Legs? You’ve got sprinting and other such things with again a coupe of standard training days a week.
 
Can you see the bigger picture?
 
Often the people you aspire to look like have a high volume/frequency of training/practice and as such develop well.
 
The gym is for extra building opportunities, or maintenance of what you’ve accumulated.
 
Of course this style of thought would yield a more athletic look overall as opposed to a 70’s bodybuilding one.
 
Daily practice.
 
Give it some thought.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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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

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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

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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
 
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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
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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

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