Tag Archives: program

Specialise much?

A short post on specialisation.
 
It’s all about picking something you want to focus on.
 
If you are looking at your gym lifts for example, here’d be some sensible guidelines for the average gym goer.
 
If lifting related:
 
– Pick 1-2 lifts to focus on
– Increase the frequency: 2-3+ times per week
– Use the appropriate loading/rep schemes for the goal
– Set other training at a maintenance level
– Watch out for interference from other exercises
– Set a clear goal
 
If body part or aesthetically related:
– Pick one lagging body part
– Increase the frequency: 2-3 times per week
– Use the appropriate loading/rep schemes for the goal
– Set other training at a maintenance level
– Watch out for interference from other exercises
– Set a clear goal
 
As you can see the guidelines are essentially the same because it’s just common sense.
 
One thing people do when they specialise is to pick multiple things at once, often those things interfere with each other and little to no overall progress is made.
 
Sadly you can’t excel at everything at the same time.
 
If you try to be good at everything you end up being average.
 
It’s not uncommon for people to want to increase strength & cardiovascular performance in tandem, now if correctly planned it’s possible, however most people get it very wrong.
 
Training for multiple goals that may have some conflicting factors – energy system usage, global fatigue etc, is an art and this process is called concurrent training.
 
We won’t be covering that today.
 
This is a large topic to cover, as such here are some good places to start:
 
 
 
 
So some thing to consider if you want to bring up something that’s lagging.
 
If you want to focus on making something better, limit what you want to focus on.
 
You won’t lose your other gains if you set other training at a decent maintenance level.
 
Enjoy,
Ross 
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Something to strip fat, get fit and strong as well

Litvinov Sprints.
 
They’re horrible.
 
Well, they’re good, but they’re horrible too.
 
Sergey Litvinov was a hammer thrower, one of the best ever you could say and was renowned for his training and his ability to train on the nerve.
 
The training protocol of his namesake was a simple Front Squat & 400m Sprint pairing, now it sounds easy, however here is what he used to do it with:
 
Eight reps of front squats with 405 pounds, immediately followed by a 75-second 400-meter run. He repeated this little combination for a total of three times according to the history books.
 
Oh, he was also only a 196-pound man, who front squatted 405… eight times, you know, no big.
 
*Barry Ross would also do similar with his athletes, lots like great minds think alike.
 
He would do this with various other lifts but the run would typically stay the same. 400m is great for power output and improving VO2 Max.
 
Now the big take home from this little anaerobic concoction is that you want to have a large compound movement followed by ann all out sprint, repeated 3 times.
 
Easy on paper, yet it will yield untold benefits in terms of strength, power, conditioning and mental grit, trust me, after the first one you don’t want to do it again, however you must because that’s how champions are made, that’s how winning is done.
 
Here are some example of compound lifts you may use:
– Cleans
– Clean & Press
– Clean & Jerk
– Push Press
– Push Jerk
– Jerk
– Deadlift
– Front Squat
– Squat
– Overhead Squat
– Snatch
 
The do a 400m sprint, rest as needed and repeat 2 more times.
 
The sprint is best left as a running sprint for most people, you can change it to say a sled push/drag, however you’ll then start to move away from the classic Litvinov ethos and create something different.
 
Try it for a couple of months 2-3 times per week, you’ll welcome the results.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Too good not to share

I came across this article while browsing through the inter webs for knowledge and it’s too good not to share.

https://www.t-nation.com/training/tip-get-ripped-with-4-rep-sets?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=article4844

Christian Thibaudeau is one of my favourite and his knowledge is phenomenal, you’ll enjoy this read.

I will certainly be giving this a go as I am currently short on time in my own training.

Ross

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Short on time? Better back off.

The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.

You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.

In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.

This protocol will:

– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth

All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.

Let’s get down o the details.

– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)

– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)

– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.

– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken

– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready

– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body

You will be in and out in no time at all.

This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.

If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).

The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.

Enjoy,
Ross

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3 Lifts – 2 Super Sets – 1 Hour or Less

 
We all like simple.
 
It’s easy to follow, leave very little to the imagination and above all else don’t cause too much stress and worry.
 
The short protocol I will give you today is nothing fancy as a basic structure of a session and will allow for multiple styles of loading to be used with it for a variety of goals.
 
Here is the breakdown:
 
3 Lifts –
 
As you can imagine, you pick three lifts ONLY for your workout, no more. This limitation will cut out the temptation to add more movements for the sake of adding more and as such you can prioritise.
 
Some examples:
 
– Squat, Pull Up, Dip
– Deadlift, Press, Row
– Clean & Press, Farmers Walk, Prone Fly
 
The general idea is to pick at least 2 compound movements, the third exercise can be either a compound lift of a smaller isolation one, you will find out why shortly.
 
When picking movements it’s worth taking a look at your training week and making sure you have the following:
 
– Power/Performance
– Lower body knee dominant
– Lower body hip dominant
– Upper body horizontal pushing
– Upper body horizontal pulling
– Upper body vertical pushing
– Upper body vertical pulling
– Core/Full Body/Loaded Carry
 
Check each one off against your workouts and make sure you hit each of them, ideally twice per week. This will ensure balanced development throughout your body.
 
2 Super Sets –
 
This is where it gets interesting.
 
The reason for the suggestion of 2 compound lifts and then either a third or an isolation lift is because the third lift picked will be the on that is the second lift out of each super set, here is what that means.
 
A1 – Squat
A2 – Dip
B1 – Weighted Pull Up
B2 – Dip
 
This will allow a lot of extra volume in the third lift, which would do well to be a weaker movement pattern or lagging body part, here is another example.
 
A1 – Clean & Press
A2 – Prone Fly
B1 – Farmers Walk
B2 – Prone Fly
 
The application of this pairing system will not only save time but give you the opportunity to keep the intensity (% of 1RM) fairly high on the first lift of each pairing as they will be performed in a ‘Jump Set’ fashion, this means A1 – Rest – A2 – Rest – A1 – Repeat, however if the rest for you chosen rep/set scheme is normally 2min you can cut it in half to 60 seconds.
 
1 Hour or Less –
 
This structure will work well if you;re in a pinch and only have 30min to train or right up to a full hour, the determine factor in the length of your session would actually be the set/rep scheme you decide to use, which can be specific to your goal.
 
To help you with this choice, here are some rep goals that would be useful to work towards to achieve a specific goal.
 
– Power: AMRAP until you lose speed or form, 1-5 reps per set
– Strength: 25-35 reps per main lift, 1-6 reps per set
– Hypertrophy: 50-75 reps per main lift, 6-20 reps per set
– Endurance/Met-con: 100+ reps per main lift, 10+ reps per set
 
You will notice there are no set options, just rep goals and reps per set ranges. You can pick the reps that best suit your needed from the ranges given.
 
It might look like this:
 
Strength
A1 – Squat 8×3
A2 – Dip x3-5
B1 – Weighted Pull Up 8×3
B2 – Dip x3-5
 
Or
 
Power
A1 – Clean & Press AMSAPx3-5 reps (stop when 3 reps no longer achievable with good speed)
A2 – Prone Fly x12
B1 – Farmers Walk AMSAPx20-40 meters (stop when 20m minimum can’t be sustained)
B2 – Prone Fly x12
 
You’ll notice the second example differs greatly from the first, yet that’d both be very effective, the main difference would be the amount of time spent training, they could be 30min or indeed a full hour, who knows.
 
This simple structure will give you a guide of what to follow, just make sure you tick off the following points:
 
– Hit the full body each week, ideally twice
– Train up to 5 days per week (say MTW – FS – )
– Sessions are not longer than 1hour
– Track your workouts
– Use rep goals that suit your specific goal
– Stay on this for 3-6month minimum
– Stress less and have fun with it
 
If you have any questions about this protocol, feel free to ask.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A complex string of events

Stringing exercises together one after the other with the same piece of kit if known, no rest and not putting said kit down is often known as a complex.

You can do them with dumbbells, barbells and a personal favourite, kettlebells.

Here are three short kettlebell complexes to hit the entire body and build strength, lean mass and strip fat (provided calorie requirements are also correct).

Each complex is done with 2 kettlebells.

Push Complex:

– Clean
– Press
– Push Press
– Jerk

Start off with one rep of each, then two, then three, aim to work up to 5 without stopping. 3-5 rounds of this will help create an impressive upper body, increase the weight of the bells by 4kg once you can do 5 rounds of 1-5 unbroken.

Pull Complex:

– Swing
– Swing to Pull (pull elbows towards hips)
– Clean
– Snatch

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Leg Complex:

– Clean
– Squat
– Lunge (any variation of your choice)
– Rack Tip-Toe Walk or Rack Walk

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Now this could be one workout three times per week, several smaller workouts during the day (morning, afternoon, evening) or a short 10-20min workout for each day depending on your commitments and available time to train.

This style of training is one that lends itself well to daily practice (push day, pull day, leg day, repeat works well).

These are by no means the only options, they’re just simple ones to get you started, you’ll find some great complexes in the writing of Dan John.

Give them a go.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Weightless Gains

I’m sure you’re aware that you can build an impressive upper body without the need to lift weights.

If not then in this post you’ll learn how.

Training your upper body is something that’s quite easy to do without any equipment, the same can’t be said for lower body so you’ll need at minimum a barbell and plates for total body development, no one likes chicken legs after all.

20 rep breathing squats, heavy low rep front squats, fat grip deadlifts, snatch grip deadlifts and cleans or snatches will be ample for lower body development.

Back to the point of the post.

Bodyweight mastery can provide you with a most impressive upper body if you give it your all in these handful of exercises:

  • Plyo push ups
  • Dips
  • Handstand push ups (supported, working to wards free standing)
  • Chin Ups
  • Pull Ups

Those 5 will enable you to workout essentially anywhere, here is the suggested rep/set schemes for your consideration:

  • Ladder sets – pick 2 exercises, start at 1 rep for each & add a rep until you hit 10 or more if you choose. If you lose form or break set start again at one.
  • Multiple singles, doubles or triples
  • Sets to momentary muscular failure

Those three options will get you started, you’ll find that aiming for 50-100 reps per session on 1-2 of those movements will help you build the upper body you desire.

This approach to training is very simple but very effective.

Enjoy,

Ross

 

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How trying to do it all kept me small.

There is a reason they say that that less is more.

It might seem counterintuitive in the fitness industry, especially given that to make progress you need to provide your body with a stimulus that forces adaptation and then to keep progressing the stimuli needs to continue too increase.

So that law in itself means you must always do more, right?

From a basic standpoint, yes, but from a longevity and realistic progression one, no.

Have you heard of MED – minimum effective dose – it means doing the least amount you need to ensure progression.

A lot of people tend to opt for the other option known as MRV – maximal recoverable volume – both are similar, yet hammering yourself with the most you can recover from and doing what you need to do to trigger growth/adaptation don’t always go hand in hand, even though they should.

This is because of what we end up doing, which is usually too much because we come from a world where more is considered better, when it’s usually just more.

The fact is is a great many people did what they should and in fact needed to be doing they’d progress faster and have better results, that’s a fact.

Over the years I personally have tried to do too much and as a result spent a long time not really progressing the way I’d hoped. A lack of sufficient recovery lead to sessions being less intense than they should have been, I’m sure you’re guilty of this as well.

Take for example a set of 5, you should be using around 80% of your 1RM for this, I bet you don’t because 80% is a hefty lump and it’s hard, you don’t like working hard, do you….

If you ever look at a typical gym bro (natural or not), they grow, not because they have a special gym routine but because they train as hard as they should each session and force the body to adapt. Well, at least their upper body anyway, legs tend to be forgotten.

Most will train as follows:

– Chest
– Back
– Legs (skipped)
– Shoulders
– Arms/abs
– Off
– Off

So 4x upper body session per week, these end up as a pushing/pulling format as triceps usually get hit with chest/shoulders and biceps are done on back day and then again on arm day.

Each session will they will give it their all. I can vouch for this 100% because I’ve seen it in person and for all their faults of skipping legs and big compound lifts that are hard and make them look weak because they don’t train them (ego is a fragile thing), what they do train, they train with intensity and a sense of purpose so fierce it’s frightening.

A limiting factor for many is time, so the time they have they use well, going to the point that many won’t, thats the secret to their success.

The better ones usually have good form as well.

The successful ones do what they need to do, not more. It’s the ones who try to do too much that don’t progress because they think more is better and it’s not, it’s just more.

What can you learn from the basic gym bro?

– Lift to the point just short of failure (keeping a couple of reps in the bag before form goes)
– Lift as heavy as weight as your body will allow with good form
– Intensity, Intensity, Intensity
– Rest is important
– Be willing to go in to places mentally that others won’t, you’ll need strength when things get tough

When it comes to my personal results, the best ones came after injury (major knee damage), training wen’t down to 2xpw at the start, then up to three days and I had no choice but to make each one count.

The added rest allowed me to push hard in each session, something I’d not been able to do previously when training more because I was simply faffing about for lack of a better term.

How can you apply this to your training?

– Limit training days 3xper week for example
– Limit training session light 45-115min
– Limit exercises to 3-5 movements
– Limit sets to 3-6
– Set rep goals (25, 50, 100 etc)
– Push sets to the limit

Remember you can do it all, train like you only have some much time and you’ll find you work harder and progress faster because you’re doing what you need to be doing to maximise your session.

Just because it’s less, don’t think it’s easier.

Enjoy,
Ross

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3 weeks to go hard or go home

Now given the title you’d be forgiven in thinking that this post is all about pushing to the limit or you’re just faffing about, and while that’s indeed a part of the post it’s not the main point.

When it comes to training hard the body seems to be able to handle 3 weeks of pushing to it’s limit, then you need to back off because things start to go wrong. A lot of people try to push too hard for too long, here is how you can avoid that mistake and plan accordingly.

If you were looking to plan this in to a structured block it might look like this:

Volume – weeks 1-3

  • Week 1 8x8x70%
  • Week 2 8x7x75%
  • Week 3 8x6x80%

Intensification – weeks 4-6

  • Week 4 6x4x85%
  • Week 5 6x3x90%
  • Week 6 6x2x92-95%

Deload week – week 7

  • Week 7 – 3x8x previous 75%

Volume Block 2 – weeks 8-10

  • Week 8 – 8x8x70% +2.5-10kg (lift dependent)
  • Week 9 – 8x7x75% +2.5-10kg (lift dependent)
  • Week 10 – 8x6x80% +2.5-10kg (lift dependent)

And so on.

You cycle thought 6 week blocks of volume accumulation and intensification with a planned reduction in volume after the 6 weeks, you can continue this for 2-3 mesocycles typically (6 week blocks) after which time typically a rest week is needed, however if you’ve done 12-18 weeks of progressive training you will need that week off. Once you return your base numbers will be biter than previous.

It is important to cycle your loading/volume so that you avoid excessive inroad and burn out, going hard (intensification) for more than three weeks does you no favours, wave the loads for continued progression.

Enjoy, Ross

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