Tag Archives: progression

Level Up

What level of training are you currently at?
Or more importantly, which one do you see your self falling in to because there are a lot who try to take on routines that are above their capability to sustain and recover from.
We’ve all been guilty of trying to punch above out weight at some point and while it can be sustained for a brief period it’s never too long before the wheels fall off the wagon and things start to go wrong.
Here are some common mistakes encountered:
– A large increase in volume
– Higher levels of intensity
– More frequency
– Inappropriate specificity
– Variable training density progression
The thought process of the many is that ‘more is better’ when in fact it’s just more, better is better and that usually means progression and individual specificity.
When it comes to establishing what level of training you’re actually at that is where things get a little tricky because it will depend on what you’re training for.
Most of the time it’s said that anyone who’s trained less than 2 years is a beginner, 3-5 is an intermediate and more than this is advanced, however I feel that is a very flawed approach because unless progression has been achieved in each year then you could get someone who has been ‘training’ for 10 years and still fall in to the realms of a beginner.
To determine where you sit you’ll want to look at these elements:
– Strength levels in compound movements
– VO2 Max
– Skills
– Progress achieved
You might be advanced in some, beginner in others, it happens. The ones you want to access unwell be those that are specifically suited to helping you achieve your goal.
Let’s take bodybuilding as the example and see what makes and advanced practitioner.
Have you achieved the following:
– A notable increase in lean body mass (20+ lbs from starting)
– Visible abs and residual muscle definition all year round
– Aesthetic change to your body
– High level of muscular control (feeling each of the muscles working when training them)
– Optimally proportioned symmetry, no chicken legs.
– Basically you look jacked an tan
If you’ve got all of those then the chances are you’re someone who would be considered advanced, at the very least a high level intermediate.
The style of training that would come along with this may fall in to the realms of high volume, moderate intensity with a body training split for higher frequency. Then you’d have the nutrition which would allow full recovery and progress.
If a beginner tried to jump on this they’d fail to make progress simply because it would be to much for their underdeveloped body to take on.
Make sense?
Take a look at your training and honestly assess your ability because you might be doing a routine that is simply too advanced for you and that’s why you’re struggling to make progress.
I say this because I’ve been there, don’t make that same mistake.
Earn your stripes, have a coach who will help you level up and don’t be in a rush to become advanced just to please your ego.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

How nutrition is a lot like moving house.

A simple analogy for nutrition that will change the way you think.
If you’re driving to a certain destination for let’s say a permanent house move, you know, moving from a 2 bed semi to a 3 bed detached, how do you get there?
Easy, by planning a route and continuing to drive towards said destination.
If you stop, you don’t get any closer to it.
If you turn around and go back to your previous one (the 3 bed semi) you have gone backwards to where you were before in stead of going to your new home (3 bed detached), obviously, which seems silly, doesn’t it.
Now apply that to nutrition.
You pick a goal.
You move towards your goal by making small sustainable lifestyle.
If you stop making the changes you stop processing.
If you go back to old habits you end up back where you started.
^^ How is this hard for people to understand?
If you want lasting results you need to make a lasting change.
Much like moving home, you don’t upgrade a house and then go back to living in your old one, you change, yet it seems many people think nutrition is an exception to this rule. They make a change, get results and then expect to keep that change by eating as they used to (excessively).
Give the analogy some thought.
Do you want to move forwards or stay where you are, because once you go forwards there are then only three options after that.
1 – Keep moving forwards, on to a 4 bed (optimal)
2 – Stay where you are because you’re happy, in your 3 bed
3 – Go backwards, returning to your 2 bed semi
Your choice.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

2 Things you can learn from the selfie crew at your gym.

If you were to look around your gym in your rest periods, what would you see or rather how many people would you see taking selfies?
Probably quite a few now because that is how the modern gym snowflake rolls. After all, it is important that they get their daily likes on the gram otherwise they’ve not achieved anything and the insatiable need for gratification will go unquenched, this can’t be allowed to happen.
While the endless selfies and gym videos might annoy you there is actually something you can learn from this and even apply to your own regime to help you in your route to achieving your goals.
Here are the two things you can learn from the selfie crowd:
1 – Taking videos is a great way to check your form and sharing in groups for feedback and tips to improve the quality of your lifting.
2 – Photos are excellent in tracking your overall progression, just don’t post every single one of them.
Bonus – The culmination of videos, process picture and selfies can actually serve are a great reminder of who far you have come in your journey, how much you have achieved and why you must be proud of all your effort, hard work and achievements.
From a business standpoint it can also help bring in clients and inspire other people who are perhaps starting where you did to stay the course because they will be there in the end.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health


Morning Guys,
Have you stalled on a lift or a CV element?
A lot of people get caught in trying to bring up one lift or specific elements of their CV training only to neglect the bigger picture, which ultimately stalls their  overall progress.
If we took Bench Press for example, it will only go so far if that is all you train, perhaps your close grip bench/Incline/Overhead are all dramatically weak and you avoid them because they hurt your ego. This is a problem, taking a hit to the ego and brining up those three will have some carryover to the BP.
This can also happen when it comes to training CV elements.
You enjoy running and want to get faster but you find you just can’t break a certain time or increase your VO2 Max, usually because you’ve now become incredibly efficient at your chosen task (this is great, however it also means you need some spice added). To change things up you might add in a 2K sprint row which leaves you breathless because you’re not adapted to it, yet 🙂 however that means you can now start progressing again.
In short, hitting weaker lifts, or unfamiliar CV protocols/equipment will help you in the long run, it’s worth the ego sacrifice to gain that extra strength or lung capacity.
Neglecting your weaker elements of training in favour of the ones that boost your ego will eventually lead you to stagnation. While it’s understandable that no one wants to look like they are struggling it’s far worse to be known as that person who trains all the time and does’t look and different than they did, or is the one who is not any stronger or fitter than they were last year. I’m sure you all know someone who fits that bill and if you don’t… It might be you.
It’s okay to have weak areas because they mean you can improve and keep progressing.
Embrace your weakness and make it a strength.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Only a Fraction.

Morning Ladies & Gents,

Sayings such as;

“Train insane or remain the same”

“Pain is just weakness leaving the body”

“You must confuse the body by changing it up every week”

and so on.

While these sayings have a place, they often cause people to overcomplicate things.

When it comes to training there are many opposing views and ironically they are all right because they all work but it can become very confusing. The longer I’ve been training the more inclined to the mantra of ‘less is more’ because there comes a point where you can’t keep adding large amounts of volume/intensity, it just becomes too much to handle. The result is improper recovery and a distinct lack of progress, we seem o forget that rest/recovery is the secret to making some gains, the whole ‘S.A.I.D & G.A.S*’ are often forgotten. That said, a good bit of advice for the majority of people is to try training 2-3xP/W (2-3 big lifts and 2-3 accessory movements hitting all major muscle groups/movements) while keeping a keen focus on adding a tiny amount of weight (as in half a kilo or less), just something to keep in mind.

I’m sure plenty of you know about the following types of set/rep progression:

– Single: Adding weight = 5×12
– Double: Adding reps, then weight = 5×8-12
– Triple: Adding reps, then sets, then weight 3-5×8-12

The use of fractional plates with these styles of progression is a recipe for continued progress. This is a nice simple structure that doesn’t involve in-depth knowledge of Periodisation, Concurrent Programming etc. All you need is some basic movements that you wish to progress on (If training 3xP/W I would create two workouts A/B that contain variations of the lifts and alternate them to avoid boredom but still generate the desired training effect for each muscle group), then stick with them for an extended amount of time and make slow and steady progress by moving through the set/rep progression as needed.

For example:

Press Program – 5×8 – hitting all reps and adding 0.5kg until you stall (fail to hit reps with good solid from for 2 weeks or sessions in a row), then take off 5-10% total load and start again using 5×5-8 until you once again plateau. When you hit the next road block drop the weight 5-10% and start using 3-5×5-8.

While only an example you can see the merit in this simple method.

How has your mindset for training changed over the years, how have you grown as a lifter?

*S.A.I.D – Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands – http://www.exrx.net/ExInfo/Specificity.html

*G.A.S – General Adaptation Syndrome – http://www.humankinetics.com/…/understand-the-general-princ…



Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

3 Ways to Train Using RPE

Morning Guys,

I’ve written bout RPE before, however I was asked by a member of a gym I visit for some training ideas on this style so I thought I would share them here for all to potentially use. Below will be some useful likes to learn more about RPE.

RPE Refresher:

Rate of Perceived Exertion is a scale of measuring intensity, with it you can program the load for your workout based on how you’re performing on the day, this allows for natural back off’s and peaks according to your bodies own biofeedback.

Be it a 1RM or a 10RM, this guide applies to all (Str = Strength Focus, HYP = Hypertrophy Focus) –

10: Maximum effort. No reps left in the tank. – STR
9: Last rep is tough, but could have done one more rep. – STR
8: weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed, but is not a struggle. 2-4 reps left. – HYP
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied. “Speed Weight”. – HYP
6: Light speed work. Bar speed was fast with only moderate effort
5: Most Warm Up Weights
4: Recovery. Usually 20+ reps sets. Not hard, but intended to flush the muscle.

Now for the methods which will all be based off of achieving a daily max with a 9 RPE (use can use RPE 10,8,7 or what ever you need, this is merely a few example of how to use this method):

1 – Daily Max to 9RPE

Pick an exercise and work up to your desired RPE for your chosen Rep Max, once you hit both you call it a day and move on to your accessory work.

2 – Daily Max to 9RPE with Back Off Set Repeats

Let’s say it’s a squat day. You go in and decide on working up to a 5RM at RPE 9 (one rep left in the bag), once you hit that number you make a note of the weight used and drop the weight, from here you stick on this weight and do 5’s until that weight feels like an RPE 9. A great way of working strength while also getting in volume. Simple.

*How much you drop is up to you, the larger the drop the more fatigue/mechanical stress you will accumulate.

3 – Daily Max to 9RPE with Weight Drop & Reloads

As with the example above you work up to a Rep Max, it can be any of your choosing or programmed in using a DUP (daily undulating periodisation method – I will write about this at the end). Work up to your desired RM, say 3 for RPE 9. From here you reduce the weight and then start reloading the bar and try to hit the same weight for the same RPE again, if you did this correctly you might be abel to repeat this process 2-3 times, depending on how much weight you reduce, if/when you don’t make the top weight then that’s when you call it a day.

If you decide to use a DUP method for the RM’s you might have something that looks like this:

Day 1 – 3RM – RPE 9
Day 2 – 7RM – RPE 9
Day 3 – 5RM – RPE 9

You could also have the same RM but different RPE’s:

Day 1 – 5RM – RPE 10
Day 2 – 5RM – RPE 6
Day 3 – 5RM – RPE 8

The options are almost endless. All you have to do is look at try the examples above to start to find your flow, once that is done you will be abel to adapt the method to your own needs.



Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

5 Superset Variations You NEED To Know

The humble super set. It comes in many forms, typically the most common ones are

– Agonist (same muscle groups – Close Grip Bench + Dip)
– Antagonist (opposing muscle groups – Bench Press + Row)
Both are effective, for a lot of people this is all they will need to add some much needed intensity to their sessions and make new progress, however there are some great variations of the Superset that are largely underestimated and never used. Today I want to give you 5 of those variations that will send your training to the next level.
These super sets will be for a range differing goals (strength, hypertrophy, endurance and so on)
1 – Unusual Supersets – Hypertrophy
I’m sure there is another name for this style but today it’s Unusual. Here is an example:
A1 – Deadlift
A2 – Lateral Raise
An unusual super set will combine a large compound lift with an isolation movement that has nothing to do with the muscles just trained. This method is great for adding in volume on your weaker areas and sculpting the balance and symmetry you want. You will have an added benefit of increased anabolic hormones from the major compound lift which yields a nice boost in growth to the isolation movement on your weaker area.
2 – Jump Sets – Strength
This little gem allows you to lift heavy on two compound movements without too much compromise.
A1 – Overhead Press
Rest 60-90 seconds
A2 – Weighted Pull Up
Rest 60-90 Seconds
Repeat until all sets/reps achieved.
Typically with strength or heavy training you will need 2-5 min rest between sets, however where you are doing the jump set protocol you can take the rest period down as you will be moving on to the antagonist movement meaning you will still get the rest required before going back to the other movement in the superset, unlike a typical superset with no rest in-between sets (Hard Core Bodybuilding, a Scientific Approach – DR Fred Hatfield) . A great method for people who are interested in strength.
3 – Upper/Lower Superset – Strength/Hypertrophy
You can do this with compound or isolation lifts, depending on your goals you can apply this to help shave time off your workouts when in a pinch.
A1 – Bench Press
A2 – RDL
A1 – Skull Crusher
A2 – Hamstring Curl
As with traditional supersets you have no rest between each movement, all you do is alternate an upper-body movement with a lower-body one.
4 – CV Superset – Strength/Endurance
If you;re a fan of concurrent training then this method will be familiar to you.
A1 – Front Squat (3 reps with 5RM or something similar)
A2 – Hill Run or 800m Run
When you put a compound lift together with a Anaerobic style of CV work you will find you gain benefits in strength, muscular endurance, CV and also mental fortitude because this gets very tough very quickly.
5 – Isometric/Eccentric Superset – Strength
Not often talked about because it’s a very tough method to apply correctly and is only advised for lifters who have at least 3 years solid lifting experience MINIMUM!
A1 – Bench Press – Pins at bottom of lift
A2 – Weighted Chin – Start with chin over bar
When you perform this method you want to not simply perform an eccentric movement, you want to pause and contract isometrically every inch of the way down and the loading will be 110% of 1RM for starters, stronger lifters can use more but it’s not really advised.3-8 sets of 1 is more than enough for this method.
There you have it. 5 Superset methods you nay not have heard of before. You will notice there are no set/rep/load guidelines (apart from the final method), this is because those details will depend largely on your goal.
*Here are some good studies to help you understand the science behind the info in this post, I would also suggest delving in to the science to increase your own knowledge, never stop learning.

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

5 Mistakes You Make

Morning Guys,

Making progress is something everyone aims to do, today I am going to list the most common reasons why you’re NOT progressing and have become stuck at a certain level.

Some of these answers may surprise you.

1 – No Overload

Essentially you’re not training hard enough to prompt a stimulus that will require and adaptive response (SAID, GAS principles, look them up). You need to be creating as much time under maximal tension as possible to elicit a noteworthy response from your body/nervous system.

Try 10×3 at 80% 1RM followed by 70% 1RM for one all out set to failure.

2 – Too Much Overload

You’re training too hard.

Yep, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the point above this is common for people who are working out for hours at a time, often doing a gym session and then possibly cardio and back to back gym classes (or something like that). This can take you past the stage of Overreaching, which is needed to create the stimulus required for super compensation to take place, and put you in to a perpetual state of “I must survive” meaning you won’t adapt, merely just make it through.

You may also not be having enough rest days (2-3 per week is good for average folk).

Training too much can easily be avoided by planning in deloads every 3rd or 4th week, or at the bare minimum you will want a reduction in volume, so something like this:

Week 1 – 10x3x80%
Week 2 – 10x4x80%
Week 3 – 10x5x80%
Week 4 – 5x3x original 80%
Week 5 – 10x3x80%+5lbs and so on.

3 – Under Eating

This is exactly as it sounds. You’re not eating enough calories to recover/build muscle and sustain your activity levels. You might be eating in balance with your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) or possibly be in a deficit (under what you need each day), both of these will contribute to a lack of progress.

To establish a baseline guide for calories take your weight in Lbs and multiply it by 17-19 for a quick daily calories number. If you want to be more technical use the Harris-Benedict formula, link here:


There is also the question of macros, you can find that info here:


4 – No Rest Days

Rest days can seem like a pain to the hard core gym goer but they are essential for recovery and building/repairing tissues and progressing.

Optimal training frequency per muscle group is 3-5 days, this can be found in both peer reviewed studies and also through anecdotal evidence from some of the worlds best lifters, you are free to do your own digging on this. Start here and look at the studies referenced:


5 – No Tracking

All of the above are some of the reasons people don’t progress, from my experience they are the most common (other reasons can be hormonal, stress related etc but this will require blood tests to establish), however if you don’t track what you’re doing, what you’re eating and how you’re actually progressing you won’t really have any idea of what is going wrong. It’s like pissing in to the wind.

Go to a local shop and buy a diary, they are around £1-3 and will dramatically improve your training and your progress.

Time to stop slacking, start progressing and take things to the next level.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health


Morning Guys,

Are you coasting when you’re in the gym?

Do you pick up the same weights and do the same reps/sets as you’ve done for the last who knows how long?

Do you still do 2-3 gym classes back to back with minimal effort and reward yourself with some calorific sturdbucks drink afterwards because ‘you deserve it because you just did 2-3 classes back to back’?

If this sounds like you then it’s time for a healthy does of reality.

Coasting along in the gym is not healthy.Not just physically but also mentally too. You will get stuck in a rut and eventually end up going backwards because your body will have become so efficient at doing the same things you always do that your overall energy expenditure will drop but I’m positive that you won’t adjust your calories to accommodate for this, meaning inevitable muscle loss and fat gain.

Harsh but something that you can see in literally every commercial gym. Don’t be one of these people.

Going to the gym shouldn’t be an all out struggle each session, but you should have at least one hard and one medium session per week with a light session to allow recovery but still keep your body/mind in the right place. This doesn’t mean to say you use baby weights on the right session, it simply means adjusting the volume/intensity (I wrote about this a few days ago, check it out). Here is a nice little option for H-L-M days:

  • Medium – 8x3x80-85%
  • Light – 5x5x75-80%
  • Heavy – 6-10x2x85-90%

Easy to rotate this, all it takes is some planning. Simply sit down and establish what this correlates to for each of your workout days (Pull, Push, Legs for example) and you will have a training program that looks like this:

Days –

  1. Pull – Medium
  2. Push – Light
  3. Legs – Heavy
  4. Off
  5. Pull – Light
  6. Push – Heavy
  7. Legs – Medium
  8. Off
  9. Pull – Heavy
  10. Push – Medium
  11. Legs – Light
  12. Off – Then the cycle starts again.

This is a simple 3 days on 1 day off. You don’t have to follow that, you could do 3 workouts a week and that would give you a three week cycle instead of a two week one. You can arrange the days however bas too suit you – keep in mind that from various research that the optimal training frequency for each movement/muscle group is every 3-5days and the optimal amount of sets is 10-20 (tops) with an average load of 80%.

Take some time and look at what you’re currently doing in the gym and ask yourself these questions:

Does it challenge me?

Does it make me want more?

Does it scare me slightly?

If the answers are NO then you need to take a week off and get your head together, pick a solid goal, return with a plan and knuckle down. As the old saying goes:

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”

Enjoy, Ross.


Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health