Tag Archives: science

Make progress with one set!

Something you may have heard or read in the past.

Is it true?

Yes, however you’ll need to know exactly what is meant by ‘one set’.

When people write or speak about making progress with the above, they don’t mean you literally only do one set.

What they mean is that you’re going to do one ‘working set’, you don’t include your warm ups in the mix, which could be was little as two sets or as many as 10 depending on how strong you are.

A working set is classes as an amount of reps performed at the target weight.

You also have the classic 3×10 by Delorme/Watkins which was as follows:

– 1x10x50% 10RM (warm up)
– 1x10x75% 10RM (warm up)
and finally…
1x10x100% 10RM (working set)

Going you one working set.

If we took the classic 3×8, this means 3 working sets, not including warm ups.

If you ever read Brawn, you’d find that lots of the programs had things like this written:

Squat 1×20
Press 2×5
Chin 1×6-8
etc

All of these are the working sets, as you cans occasionally they had 2 working sets.

The idea of this set is to much you to your limits and perhaps add some small amount of weight to be bar, improve the form, do it while having less rest and so on.

You could manipulate any variable to get progress so long as you made progress.

– Volume – perhaps got an extra rep at or 2 the same weight
– Intensity – lifted more total weight on the bar
– Density – had less rest than previously
– Frequency – performed this feat twice in a week instead of once

When you take a look at the principles behind this long spoken method of training it’s fair to say they’re pretty solid because they leave you nowhere to hide.

If you limit yourself to only one hard set, you’re more likely to give it your all and try to better that set in any which way you can.

The more modern approach of “Do all the sets & all the reps!” isn’t bad by any means, however it does often leave people working sub-optimally which is why some struggle to make any form of progress.

The repeated bout effect or repetition method is a solid one, that’s not being disputed, however those who get the most out of this are the ones who’ve spent a decent chunk of time hitting one hard ‘working set’ in the past.

You may also find working sets are called ‘top sets’ which can be found in those who follow a daily lifting routine – ala Bulgarian style training and daily maxing.

So, should you try this style of training protocol?

Yes, no, maybe, I really don’t know.

It certainly works, however if you’re making progress with what you’re doing then there’s no sense in changing, if not though, perhaps you might find this useful.

If you decide to work for top sets here are some pointers of where to start:

Top set recommendations:
Squat: 5-10
Presses: 5
Pulls: 6-8
DL: 3-5
Accessory lifts: 8-12

Enjoy,
Ross

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

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
– Front Squat
– 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

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

5 Reasons people need a framework to succeed –

1 – Most don’t know what they need to do and as such need it clearly signposted

2 – It helps people feel less pressure, basically they can blame the structure for failure rather than themselves

3 – Things such as accountability and more responsibility become easier to administer

4 – Recorded data makes for a great confidence booster to show them how far they’ve come

5 – It teaches them how to achieve success on their own

Now there are those rare people who don’t need a framework to make their own success, if you’re one of them then we’ll see each other at the top. If that’s not you it’s not a problem, just ask for help and it will be yours.

Short & simple today.

Enjoy,
Ross

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Pushing your sets all the way

Working out is easy, it’s training that’s hard.

When it comes to the mental aspect of lifting weights we’d all like to think that we’re putting in the effort we require and while some certainly do, most don’t.

You can tell by the results people achieve.

Let’s take for example the classic 5×5, if you look back at its inception the idea was to either do 3-4 warm up sets where you start working towards a top set for the day, some would even do 2 top sets after 3 progressively heavier warm ups, this would actually be quite hard.

To push a set of say 5 for everything you had, with good form of course, is quite draining and very few people will ever really do it. Most will lift a weight for 5 that they could have really don for 7, maybe 8 if they’re honest.

This is one reason a lot of us don’t get the progress we really want.

I’m guilty of this that’s for sure.

Now this isn’t to say that people don’t ‘work hard’, rather it’s just pointing out that many haven’t quite grasped the concept of really pushing a set to it’s limit. if they did they’d find training say 3 days per week is more than enough to make progress, rather than their standard 6 with back to back classes and AM/PM runs.

Good old fashioned honest hard graft isn’t pleasant, it’s tough, however it’s what produces results, especially when combined with solid nutrition and plenty of recovery.

Try doing 5×5 and having 3-4 of those sets being warm ups, then really go all out on the last set, you should feel sufficiently worked, you may have one more set of 5 at that weight, if you do then go for it, however if you get it right that one hard set of 5 will be enough.

5x60kg
5x100kg
5x140kg
5x180kg
5x200kg

Done, move on to the next exercise and repeat the same process.

Enjoy,
Ross

Memories

Having measurable data is a great way to assess your progress, so why don’t you have any?

Fitness testing, body measurements, lifting records are all great ways to see how you are improving and also what you may need to be doing in order to continue to make headway if it is starting to slow down.

There are a lot of people who claim they never need to record things, they just remember it all and while they may indeed remember the highlights it’s very hard to keep everything in your head.

Typically once we get past a certain point we might as well be exposed to white noise.

According to a lot of research in to the field of memory, the average person can retain 7 pieces, plus or minus 2, given you a top limit of 9 and a lower one of 5; obviously there will be exceptions that can remember more just as there will be people who remember far less, it’s just a part of being on the bellcurve.

Writing things down and recording the specifics will take the pressure ands stress away from you having to remember each detail. Don’t get me wrong, having good ball park memory is great, however that won’t help you highlight weak areas that need work, specifically.

Personally I’m a big fan of making notes and writing things down, not matter who big or small it is, there’s a record. This little habit has saved many a hassle when it comes to wiring future goals for myself or clients, not to mention it give an honest overview of how everything has proceeded, no hiding behind white lies to protect the ego.

This is nothing more than simper advice for you, there’s no need for you to take it, honestly, there isn’t.

Before we finish I just want to ask you two questions;

1 – What sets and reps were you hitting on this day 3 years ago and how do they compete to now?

2 – What was your VO2 Max on the date of 22-6-13 and how has it improved?

I’m sure you can answer those from memory 🙂 for me.

Enjoy,
Ross

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

The 30 set workout structure.

An easy to follow method for those who don’t have time to workout out the exact weights they need for every set.

This is based on using auto-regulation and going by feel, it’s also a great way to progress provided you have a training diary and track what you’re doing.

Here is what you do:

– Train 2-3 times per week
– Pick 3 exercises per workout (10 sets per exercise)
– Stay in the 5-10 rep range
– Use which ever training split you feel is most appropriate*
– Warm ups are included in your sets
– You may use Straight Sets (A1, B1, C1), Superset (A1/A2) or Tri-Set (A1/A2/A3) movements if you choose
– Rest as needed
– Track weights/reps achieved
– Aim to keep sessions between 45-60min
– Repeat for 3-6months and make all the progress

*Upper/Lower, Push/Pull, Pull-Push-Legs, Full Body

This is what one exercises might look like on paper:

Set 1 5x bar 20kg
Set 2 5x 60kg
Set 3 5x 80kg
Set 4 5x 100kg
Set 5 5x 120kg
Set 6 5x 140kg
Set 7 5x 140kg
Set 8 5x 140kg
Set 9 5x 140kg
Set 10 5x 130kg

^^ Calculate total volume – Sets X Reps X Weight

10x5x1070 = 53,500kg total volume lifted in the session.

You’d make a note and aim to lift more total volume next week.

The stronger you get you’ll find you may nee dress warm up sets or that they stay the same and you can lift more in your later sets to increase your volume.

There is no right or wrong as to how many warm ups you need, just do what you feel is adequate so that your form feels grooved and the speed on the bar is moving nice and fast.

Enjoy,
Ross

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Back to the basics for us all.

What is there to write about training anymore?

The internet is filled with so much content, it’s almost impossible to read it all.

Keeping this in mind it’s probably best to keep things simple and hopefully point you in the right direction and to do that we need to circle back around to the basics and the simple sciences of training.

What should you look to circle back to first?

– Energy Systems

Why?

These are essential for understanding how the body works and what fuel is used for what training styles (aerobic – fat, anaerobic – glucose etc), here is a nice resource for that:

Next it has to be muscle anatomy.

– Muscle Structure

Once you know how they work you can conclude what style of training is best for your goal. Here are a couple of links:

One last topic that is crucial to have a basic underrating of in training is hormones.

– Testosterone, Cortisol and everything in-between.

This is a massive topic yet it’s one people ignore all the time and it really shouldn’t be. Your hormones are influenced not only by training but also your nutrition, sleep, life style and mach more, thus it is worth knowing how they work and what they do.

Above are some starting links to help you on your way, however it’s worth remembering that the body is a complex organism and if you don’t want to do the digging yourself then you’ll do well to hire a coach/trainer who can do it all for you.

Remember the basics, without those nothing else can be understood.

Enjoy,
Ross

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

5-3-2 or 3-2-1 or maybe 1-1-1

What do they mean would be the best question to ask first of all.

These numbers are in reference to the frequency of training a muscle group, or if you are less about the aesthetic and more about performance it will be in reference to movement patterns.

So 3-2-1 is ideal for beginners and people who are short on time yet still want to make a decent amount of progress in terms of strength, hypertrophy, performance and fat loss.

For example:

Squat 3 days per week
Press 2 days per week

I’d also add in pulling (elbow flexion) and hip extension movements (rows, pull ups, face pulls, reverse fly, swings, rope pull throughs etc) to the three day group as these patterns are often left out.

Press vertically and horizontally both days, this would also encompass all elbow extension exercises – skull crushers etc.

The reason many will do well deadlifting once per week as they can often lift more weight in this lift and as such will cause more metabolic disturbance.

Taking in to consideration what is above you can guess where 5-3-2 is going.

Yep, more frequency for people with more experience who fall in the intermediate level and need more exposure to the movements.

Depending on goal you may find you squat 3 or 5 times per week, the sam gif true for pressing/pulling it might be 3 or 5 days, you can adjust this as you need to.

Example:

Press/Pull 5 days per week
Squat 3 days per week

Over the years it has been shown that more often than not the more frequently you train something (the more exposure it has to training stimuli) the stronger it is and the more developed the muscle/area/movement looks.

Now these guidelines aren’t gospel, they’re just a guide to give people some direction.

What is 1-1-1 then?

Yep, you’ve probably worked it out.

You may even find that you’re one of the luck ones who can train things once per week and make progress, if that is the case then stick with what works because there is no sense in fixing what isn’t broken. If this is you, just make sure each session you give it your all for maximal progress, due to the low frequency you will need to hammer the muscle to hit your required volume/intensity/work capacity needs.

In terms of my own training I will tell you that higher frequency has very much helped me gain high levels of strength relative to my size (what is needed for the combative sports is partake in), however when I dropped my frequency – it was still a minimum of twice per week per muscle group – I made more hypertrophic progress, this was due to not only a different style of training but also eating in a caloric surplus*.

*You need to be in a calorie surplus to gain weight, you’ll struggle if you’re not in one, regardless of set or rep range. If you want to shift fat you can train int he same way you will just need a caloric deficit, fact.

Take a look at your training and compete the frequency of your lifts to what body parts you have developed the most, you’ll probably find the ones you train the most are the best, or as some might say “Those are you naturally strong areas” – well duh, you train them more, they’re going to be stronger than the ones you avoid.

Training is all about learning, applying and adapting until you find what work best for YOU.

Let’s get started.

Ross

A progression option

Accumulation & intensification

Basically the way you can structure blocks of training to help improve one or multiple elements of training.

These can be used in 2,3,4 week blocks each time or even sometimes as long as 6 weeks a piece, you can even do 6 weeks accumulation and 2 weeks intensification, this will all be down to how the individual responds.

Let’s look at some examples:

Day 1
A1 – Squat
A2 – Chin

Day 2
A1 – Press
A2 – Row

Day 3 – Off

Day 4
A2 – Dip

Day 5 – Off

Day 6
A1 – Front Squat
A2 – Dumbbell Clean & Press

Day 7 – Off

Acc – Weeks 1-3 – 6×6-8×70% 1RM wk 1, 72.5/75% wk 2&3
Int – Weeks 4-5 – 8x3x85% wk4, 87.5% wk5
Acc – Weeks 6-8 – 6×6-8×72.5% 1RM wk 6, 75/77.5% wk 7&8
Int – Weeks 9-10 – 8x3x87.5% wk9, 90% wk10
Start process again for another 10weeks, starting Acc 75%, starting Int 90%

You get the idea.

The same would apply for CV training, you’d start off with a moderate intensity based on the fitness assessment results of your clients initial tests, then plan in steady state work, intervals and so on.

Each Acc/Int phase will differ in set/rep/load planing based on the clients goal, etc.