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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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Daily Deadlift

People often talk about Squat Every Day, but can you Deadlift Every Day?
 
Morning All,
 
This may come as a shock, but yes, you can definitely deadlift almost every day and build immense strength and mass without getting injured.
 
All it takes is a little planning.
 
But besides being one of the best tests of raw strength (the press being a close second), the deadlift is also a movement that demands developing and refining your skills and takes a lot of time and effort to master even though it’s just picking something up off the floor. Having a solid foundation is recommended before attempting this.
 
Here’s a potential weekly training pattern that can help you progress in deadlifting.
 
Before we go on, a couple of quick notes:
 
– Putting in some goblet squats as a warm up to help your mobility is a great idea, 50 reps is a good start.
 
– After your main DL task perform 3 additional exercises of your choice (pressing, chest supported rows, curls, dips, chins etc), an A1/A2 super set and one finishing isolation movement of B1 will work well.
 
– You can feel free to change up the DL vacation you use on any day, I will leave that up to you however you’d do well to follow this structure for a few weeks first to get a feel for it.
 
The reason for the cycling of variation of the DL is so that you don’t kill yourself.
 
– EAT!
 
Make sure you’re eating ample amounts, trust me, you’ll need to.
 
Monday focus: TUT – Conventional DL
 
10 sets of 5 reps with 50% of your max, focus on a slow eccentric, minimum of 10 seconds per rep.
 
Focus on staying as tensed and braced up as possible.
 
Tuesday focus: Speed – Power or Full Clean
 
Pick a weight that’s 60-70% of your max weight for this lift and focus on performing the concentric portion of the reps as fast as possible.
 
Go for 8 sets of 2-3 reps with a 3-minute rest between sets.
 
You could also do rest pause singles where you let go of the bar and reset every rep for 15-25 sets.
 
Wednesday focus: Daily max deadlift – Any Variation
 
After a few warm-up sets working towards a daily max, perform 10 singles with 90% of that weight, taking 3-5 minutes of rest between sets.
 
Thursdays focus: Kettlebell swings
 
Pick a kettlebell and aim to do 500 reps in your session.
 
Make sure that you snap your hips through and really squeeze your glutes each rep, focus on performance each swing.
 
Friday focus: Paused deadlifts – Snatch Grip 2 Inch Deficit
 
Perform 10 sets of 3reps of paused deadlifts with about 75-85% of your max weight.
 
Using a snatch grip for this will give you some massive upper back progress.
 
On the way up, pause for 3 seconds at mid-shin level, then pause for another 3 seconds while the weight is slightly above knee-level, then finish at lockout, you max pause here too if you wish.
 
Take as much rest as needed between sets.
 
Saturday focus: Density overload – Any Variation
 
Work up to another daily max, then using 85% of that weight, perform 1 rep every 30 seconds for a total of 10-15 minutes.
 
Sunday focus: Eat all the food!
 
I would advise this as a total rest day, however if you absolutely have to do something, do 250 kettlebell swings with a weight that is 50% of the one you used Thursday.
 
Repeat this cycle for a few weeks and watch your deadlift numbers improve and slabs of new muscle appear (provided you’re eating enough).
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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4 training elements to remember

Volume – Total amount lifted per session (or per week/training block)

Intensity – The overall % lifted relative to your given Rep Maxes

Density – Doing more done in the same time/same done in less time

Frequency – How many times per week you train a muscle group

Four key elements of programming, however they are often overlooked by many.

When I say this it is in reference to how some novice/intermediate lifters don’t take in to account how to correctly plan them in their workouts to ensure constant progression over the long term.

Often people will look to progress volume and only volume, which sadly leads to a lot of junk volume.

Junk volume?

Your numbers on paper might increase in terms of total amount done, but this can be from adding in massive amounts of isolation exercises with very light weights, which does nothing but cause fatigue and provide little to no adaptive stimulus. Essentially the more volume you add in willy-nilly, the lower you make your average intensity.

To establish your total volume: Sets x Reps x Weight = Total Volume

Be careful of that trap.

Many know how to increase intensity. You simply add more weight, simple.

The downside with adding too much intensity is that there is a compromise in the amount of total volume you can lift, so while this is great for getting stronger and making neural connections etc, it does little for adding size because you start to lack the necessary amount of stimulus to do so.

You just can’t lift super heavy weights (relative to your own strength levels) for lot’s of reps.

In most good programs you’ll find the average intensity falls at around 85% of 1RM for each respective lift, with a decent amount of volume (volume differed from person to person specifically, however 80-210 reps seems to be the common theme for hypertrophy at a good average intensity).

How to establish average intensity: Sets x Reps x Weight (all exercises of session) / Reps = Average Intensity

Now, lets talk about density.

A quick example of how it works: You train squats for 45min, total volume is 10,00kg, average intensity is 80%, next session you hit those same numbers in 40min OR you hit 11,000kg in 45min, in both you have increased the density of the session.

^^ That’s also how you establish how dense each session is, how much you’re doing in what times.

Great for keeping your intensity/volume in the right areas while focusing on getting more quality work out and less faffing about.

This is usually a forgotten method of progression, however it’s one of the more useful ones.

Lastly we have frequency.

If you are training a body part once per week you will make progress, plenty of people do, however what they don’t seem to realise is that there is a high degree of crossover in training certain areas, such as chest & arms one day, then shoulders & arms another – both will actually hit similar muscle groups.

It’s common for en especially to have 3-4 upper body sessions in a week when following a standard Bro-Split and only one leg day, this is why their legs end up lagging behind.

In an optimal world you will train each muscle group 2-3 times per week, keeping in mind that some training sessions have cross over to others, here is the typical thought process of how to plans sessions to optimise that crossover:

– Chest/back/arms
– Legs: Anterior chain (Quads as main focus, hammies as secondary etc)
– Shoulders/back/arms
– Legs: Posterior chain (Hammies as main focus, quads as secondary etc)

^^ A good 7 day split that hits each muscle group twice per week, you’d do Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday each week 🙂.

All of the above will help you program a successful way to the gains you desire.

The key to progression is progression.

People forget that, please don’t be one of them.

How do you plan your progression in your programs?

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A squat-less routine?

It’s well known that not everyone likes to squat.
 
While the squat is a key movement pattern that should be in a training routine, you can create one without.
 
Not my personal choice but it’s 2017 so let’s cater for those who don’t want to squat or might not be able to, for what ever reason.
 
What can you do?
 
– Hinging
– Pressing
– Pulling
 
Let’s look at how those would make up a workout.
 
It’s worth noting that you will still build some good legs without squats, however the squat is an incredibly athletic movement and at least one session per week would be good.
 
Okay, let’s put together a squat-less routine.
 
Day A –
 
A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift from Deficit 8×3
B1: Press 10×5
B2: BB Row 10×5
C1: Dips 4x Fail
 
Day B –
 
A1: Clean Grip Deadlift from Floor 6×4
B1: Incline Press 6×8
B2: Pull Up (weighted if necessary or pull downs) 6×8
C1: Curls 4×8-12
 
Day C –
 
A1: Snatch Grip Deadlift from Blocks (mid shin) 4×6
B1: Close Grip Bench 8×6
B2: DB Row 8×8
C1: Face Pulls 4×12-15
 
Day X – Optional
 
A1: Hill Sprint 5-10×60 seconds
B1: Prowler or Sled Drag 5-10x20m
C1: Loaded Carry 5-10x20m
 
Here is how it might look if put in to a weekly workout structure – 7 day split:
 
Monday – C
Tuesday – B
Wednesday – Off
Thursday – X
Friday – Off
Saturday – A
Sunday – Off
 
If only A/B/C used then pick three days per week to train at your convenience using the order C-B-A.
 
You will notice the varied levels of deadlift will place different emphasis on quad/posterior recruitment, the addition Day-X would further help leg development and conditioning.
 
In your warm ups some form of squatting movement patter would be personally advised so you still get the expose to the pattern, maybe some light goblet squats for example, just for good measure.
 
Remember that all good programs have at least one day of squatting, this is an option for those who truly detest squats and is a last resort.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How to train full body in 8 moves – Sage advice from a random lifter

It’s easy for people to get caught up in looking for eldest variations of lifts, usually to ensure they hit all the muscle fibres from every angle.
 
…. Sigh….
 
Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a time and a place for extra variations of lifts, however for most people they are not yet needed.
 
Why?
 
A long time ago a wise and rather large lifter once dropped this statement that changed the way things were seen –
 
“You spend too much time faffing about, no offence intended but you’re not strong enough to warrant doing that many isolation movements. You aren’t earn the right or build a base of muscle from solid lifting and compound movements. Stick with these for a solid 6 months and see who you go, if it works then great, if it doesn’t you can go back to with you were doing.” *Writes down a program with set/rep ideas.
 
Here is what was given:
 
Day 1 – Pressing/Pulling
Day 2 – Squatting/Hinging
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Pressing/Pulling
Day 5 – Off
Day 6 – Hinging/Squatting
Day 7 – Off
 
A standard 7 day split with 4 training sessions per week, 2 upper and 2 lower.
 
Here were the exercises:
 
Legs: Squat & front squat
Back: Deadlift/Stiff Leg & bent over row
Chest: Bench press & incline press
Shoulders: Military press & high pull/upright row
Arms: Dips or close-grip press, chins and/or some curls
 
Pretty simple.
 
They were organised them in to the following:
 
Day 1 – Pressing/Pulling
A1 – Military Press
A2 – Chin Up
B1 – Incline Press
B2 – Curl
 
Day 2 – Squatting/Hinging
A1 – Squat
B1 – Deadlift – Stiff Leg – Light
 
Day 3 – Off
 
Day 4 – Pressing/Pulling
A1 – Bench Press
A2 – Bent Over Row
B1 – Dips
B2 – Upright Row
 
Day 5 – Off
 
Day 6 – Hinging/Squatting
A1 – Deadlift – Heavy
B1 – Front Squat
 
Day 7 – Off
 
The advice was to aim for 30 reps to start and build to 50 reps per movement on average including light deadlift which was more a stiff leg variation explained, 15-25 for heavy deadlift.
Personally I’d also chuck in some planks and calf raises as well at the end of each session.
 
“Add weight where you can, if you can add weight add reps, once you hit the target then add weight, simple.”
 
Now this is nothing magical but it worked and is certainly worth a try.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A simple answer to a common question.

“How many exercises should I do each workout?”
 
^^ A common question, to which there is a very simple answer.
 
2-7
 
The average for a decent workout seems to be around 4, however the option to go a little higher or lower is useful planning an accumulation or intensification phase of training.
 
If you’re lifting heavy, then perhaps a simple A1-A2 set up is best, this will allow maximal weigh tot be shifted and ample time for recovery in your 45-60min training slot.
 
The same is true for using more exercises, you’d usually find this happens when you’re lifting a little lighter and aiming for more volume.
 
There’s your answer.
 
Pick anywhere from 2-7 exercises per session, utilise the following methods to help you regulate training and stave off boredom.
 
– Super sets: A1-A2
– Tri sets: A1-A2-A3
– Giant sets: 4 or more exercises for the same muscle group
– Circuits: 4 or more exercises for different muscle groups
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Volume goals and low reps.

Morning all,
 
High reps, low sets are popular for getting in a lot of volume, however you can do the same by using submit weights and lower reps and we shall look at why you should be doing this.
 
Why use low reps higher sets to hit a daily volume goal?
 
1 – You use a higher % of 1RM – say 85% (a technical 6RM) for multiple sets of 2-3 reps until you hit perhaps a 50 rep target. 16-25 sets required.
 
2 – It stimulates more muscle due to it being a higher relative load, more muscle fibres used means more adaptive need, this means more progress.
 
3 – Lifting heavier weights is more fun and provides what is called ‘functional hypertrophy’ – essentially you’re strong and look good, rather than just looking good with nothing back it up.
4 – It’s way more fun.
 
Here is a simple structure to use:
 
High volume workout – 80%+ 1RM – 50 reps – 3 lifts per session: these don’t have to be the sam lift each workout, cover the following movement patterns across the week for optimal results.
 
– Full body – snatch, clean/jerk etc)
– Loaded carry – farmers walk, sand bag carry and so on
– Hinge – deadlift
– Squat – umm well… a squat, obviously
– Pull – Chin up or row perhaps
– Push – Press or a dip
 
^^ The options are endless, just pick a moment and find a lift to go with it.
 
Train movements for miracles.
 
Moderate volume workout – 80%+ 1RM – 30 reps – 3 lifts per session
 
Low volume workout – 80%+ 1RM – 10 reps – 3 lifts per session
 
This volume cycling will allow you to get some much needed recover if you start feeling beaten up, you can utilise the H-M-L as you see fit. A weekly loading high look like this:
 
M – H
T – M
W- L – or off
T – H
F- M
S – M
S – L or off
 
Aim for 80-210 reps of volume per movement per week.
 
Make sense?
 
If you lift heavier weights more often you will find a lot of benefit to strength, muscle mass, fat loss and less boredom from doing endless high rep pump sets.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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