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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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Squats without a rack.

Occasionally you might find yourself caught out by mistiming your workout and the squat rack you wanted is now being used for curls meaning you might miss leg day 😦.

Fear not, there is a way around this and all you need is a bar along with some skill in either a power clean or full clean.

If you find no squat racks are free, you grab a bar load it with a light weight to start and get in some warm up cleans with front squats added in.

The clean will not only target your quads, it will also give you a thorough workout recruiting your hips/hamstrings/calves as well, what more could you ask for.

Yep, you essentially do what weight lifters have been doing for years. Have you seen the legs on those athletes, they’re outstanding. Their quads, glutes and hamstrings are the cause for much jealousy and rightly so.

Here is a complex for you to try, there will even be some extra optimal leg work added in just incase the rack becomes free.

A1 – Clean x1
A2 – FS x2-3
A3 – Jerk x1

Drop bar and repeat for 8-12 sets.

If no rack is free:

B1 – Clean x1
B2 – Walking Lunch 6-8 per leg

3-5 sets.

If the rack then comes free, add in this:

B1 – Squat

Rep options: 8×3 or 5×5 with a decent load for strength or 50 reps in as few sets as possible for extra volume.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Three simple things for a better body

There are a multitude of exercises you can do to build the best body you possibly can and this can become very confusing for a lot of people. It can even end up discouraging them from working out because there is too much choice.
 
Todays post is to give you some classic exercises and options on using them that you don’t often see done all too often in commercial gyms.
 
You will also find a workout structure down below as well.
 
1 – Double Dumbbell Clean & Press
 
Aim for 50 total reps, 5 sets of 10 is with <60 seconds rest a killer, or perhaps 100 reps, so 10×10 if you’re really sadistic but this is not advised.
 
Alternatively you can just try and hammer out as many sets of 10 as you can with solid form in a 45min time period, if you hit 100 reps you will probably want to add weight.
 
2 – High Rep Back Squat
 
Add this in to your workout a minimum of twice per week, stating at a target of 50 reps, do as many reps as you can each set and as many sets as needed to hit 50 reps total. Then add a rep each workout until you hit 2x25reps, then add weight and start again.
 
As above you could simply take the option of doing multiple sets of 10 until you reach a certain goal number in 45min, 100 is a good target, then add weight.
 
3 – Loaded Carry
 
Pick up something awkward to hold on to that matches your bodyweight, such as a sand bag (ideally), you might set out a 10m track for example and count the number of times you successfully complete it without dropping the bag or heavy awkward object you’re carrying in a certain time limit.
 
This is the hardest of the three options, it would be a good idea to have at least 2 awkward objects to carry, ideally three, that way you can have 3x15min time periods to carry those objects as far as possible.
 
– Bear Hug Carry
– Farmers Walk
– Overhead Hold Walk
 
^^ Those three work well together.
 
If you were to use those three exercises and do one per work you’d find you probably get more results than the endless crowds doing 9 different types of isolation exercises for the arms/abs/chest etc.
 
You might have a 3 on 1 off rotation that looks like this:
 
Day 1 – High Rep Back Squats
Day 2 – Double Dumbbell Clean & Press
Day 3 – Loaded Carries
Day 4 – Off
Day 5 – Repeat
This will make you strong, lean and incredibly fit if you keep the rest periods to a minimum, just keep a keen awareness of strict form.
 
Boring and repetitive but extremely effective.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Wicked Warm Ups

2 Ways to warm up for optimal performance.
 
You are all well educated people, I am sure you have a good warm up in place, however is it the most optimal one for getting the most out of each session?
 
Today you will learn two methods that will allow you to get everything you can out of each weight lifting session. One is a started and the other is on going, enjoy.
 
*Start off with a typical 5min mobility/pulse raiser.
 
1 – The Over Warm-Up Method 
 
Simple, effective and it also helps you improve your movement patters.
 
Here is how it looks, based on working sets of say 100kgx6
 
Set 1 – Bar x5-10 (to dust off the cobwebs)
Set 2 – 40kg x5
Set 3 – 60kg x2-3
Set 4 – 80kg x2-3
Set 5 – 90kg x2
Set 6 – 100kg x2
Set 7 – 110kg x2
Set 8 – 120kg x1
Set 9 – 125kg x1
 
You can go higher if required, but typically you will use 8-10 sets to warm up starting off with a couple of 5’s to get the juices flowing, then 2-3’s for movement pattern grooving and finally singles for neurological facilitation so that your working weight feel like a feather, for the first few sets anyway.
 
The neurological activation lasts for around 5-10min directly after the last warm up set and then will continue to have a positive effect in the subsequent sets so you have plenty of benefit. You might even be able to get more reps than you have planned with this method because of the extra neural activation you get warming up this way.
 
 
2 – Neural Charge
 
As with the first method this plays to activate your nervous system so that you will be firing the most amount of muscle fibres possible right from the get go, rather than the standard way of making your body recruit more over time through mechanical fatigue – which there is nothing wrong with, however why not get everything going asap, eh? 🙂
 
Due to its unique explosive loading methods in pre-activation movements before the main lifts, Neural Charge Training impacts all levels of neuromuscular function, such as neurotransmitter uptake, excitation-contraction coupling, and motor-unit recruitment. This happens due to the fact you are using a POWER based exercise first, for example: Box Jump before Squatting or Bound Jumps before Deadlifts.
 
When you perform an explosive power based movement you force the body to recruit the deeper type two muscle fibres, then you rest 3-5min tops (you won’t lose the NC effect, as explained above with the over warm up method, it lasts around 5-10min tops). When you get under the bar you will find the focus on generating as much speed as possible in the concentric portion of the lift is greatly accentuated.
 
 
The increased MU Recruitment will allow more weight to be lifted, just be very carful not to use too much volume. You will do this before each lift, you will do well to limit sets/reps to 3-5 for each. A workout may look like this:
 
*Neural Charge – NC. RM – Repetition Max
 
NC – Overhead Vertical Med Ball Press – Aim for max heigh each throw 3-5 reps – rest 3-5min.
A1 – Overhead Press 3-5×3-5xRequired RM loading – Rest 3min
 
Or
 
NC – Squat Jump 30% 1RM, quarter or full squat, land in athletic position (quarter squat for visual reference) – rest 3-5min
A1 – Squat 3-5×3-5xRequired RM loading – Rest 3min
 
^^ It is worth limiting the amount of exercises per workout with this method to 1-3 as it will become very demanding on the nervous system. Remember this is a performance technique, not a fatigue one.
 
Try each and see what works best for you.
 
Be warned, you may break through plateaus with these methods. They are not to be sued if you enjoy being in the comfort zone.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Improve your deadlift in 5min

Give this post a read, it should take 5min and you will improve your deadlift.

Considering you’re all intelligent people I’m sure you’ve heard to the Stretch Shortening Cycle (SSC) and the role it plays in movement.

*A nice link for those who want some more science on it: http://www.scienceforsport.com/stretch-shortening-cycle/

*Here is the lay version: think pulling back and elastic band to store potential energy and then releasing it (kinetic energy is the result). “to shorten muscle you must first lengthen it”. Where you are right now do vertical jumps… Good, now do it without first bending your legs in to the starting position (preventing and pre-stretching of the muscles used for the jump)… Doesn’t really work, does it.

I want to talk about its relevance in lifting weights and how you can use it to improve your deadlift (all will become clear, trust me).

If we look at the squat and the bench press, they both have one thing in common that is missing in the deadlift.

Do you know what it is?

…..

A loaded eccentric start to the lift (bar on your back/in your hands), this helps you create tension and the potential energy to overcome the required force on the concentric portion of the lift from being in the hole, where are the deadlift starts on the floor and you’ve got no real help. It’s you VS the bar and unless you’re a well trained lifter who understands how to use the SSC or at least prime your body by creating tension (pre-loading) in the required muscles yo’ll find you can’t even shift the bar from the floor.

I’m sure you’ve seen many great dedadlifters such as Eddie HallEd Coan, Richard ‘The Ant’ Hawthorne, Andy Bolton to name a few, have a certain something about their set up. You know, when they pull against the bar taking the slack out (getting tight), followed by a brief pull down (or 3 in Andy’s case) and then effortlessly hoist it off the floor to victory. This pre-lift routine is their way of firing up the muscles required, creating tension and utilising the SSC to help them generate the force required to overcome the inertia and lift the weight. (This is harder to write down than I anticipated).

Here are some videos, watch for the points mentioned above:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRO51Qqt-I8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9Y4o_BqC0A

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNvONtw-94g

The reason for this post is a simple one. I see a lot of people fail to do the following in the deadlift:

– Take the slack out of the bar
– Get tight (create massive amounts of tension/pre-load muscles)
– Not utilise the SSC
*Obviously a correct individual set up is required, if you don;t have those hire a coach and get the foundations, then refer back to this.

In Dynamite Deadlift (written by Pavel Tsatsouline & Andy Bolton) they cover a lot of great info and give lot’s of tips. One that Pavel has given throughout the years is to set up to the brain the deadlift and from standing PULL yourself in to your starting position from standing to create more tension (remember tension = force).

Enjoy,

Ross

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Quite Partial

Partial reps can sometimes be the topic of controversy but if done correctly they can help you break plateaus and overcome limiting factors, not to mention have some great crossover to athletic potential.
 
Here is a great article with lots of good science in it:
 
 
The above article covers everything I thought of so there is techicanlly no need to rewrite what has already been well written, instead I am going to give you a list of exercises to consider adding to your training to hep you break plateaus.
 
– Box Squat
– Pin Press (bench or overhead to lock out)
– Press to pins (start at bottom and press in to the pins as hard as you possibly can)
– Box Jumps
– Rack Pulls
– Olympic lifts in hang style start or power style finish
 
With the above exercises you also have various methods that involve partial reps, Im sure everyone has heard of Matrix 21’s, this is usually done on bicep curls. Along with this you could also try complex training for partial reps, here is an example of one:
 
Bulgarian complex training –
 
A complex of 4-5 exercises (similar to a giant set), going from the heaviest one to the lightest one.
 
A1. Back squat on Box: 3-5 repetitions with a load of 85-95% of 1RM Rest 3-4 minutes
A2. Power snatch or power clean: 2-3 repetitions with a load of 85-95% of 1RM Rest 3-4 minutes
A3. Jump squats: 5-10 repetitions with a load of 15-20% of the back squat 1RM Rest 3-4 minutes
A4. Depth jumps 10 repetitions from 0.5m Rest 3-4 minutes
A5. Vertical jumps: AMRAP in 15 seconds Rest 3-4 minutes
 
 
Now go add some partial reps to your workout and break those plateaus.
 
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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Looking Objectively.

I had someone ask me about a couple of studies that lean towards high frequency being the key to ascension, now while there is a very strong correlation with how much you can train/recover from and the gains you will make I feel there are some key points people need to be aware of with the majority (not all) of the studies on high frequency training, well, most training actually.

If you think about the bulk of studies from the past and indeed more recent times they are based on Weightlifters many will forget what a weightlifter actually is. These people often practice two move for their sport – Clean & Jerk, Snatch – because those are the two lifts performed in the Olympics and as you can guess, these types of athletes train multiple times per day consecutive days per week, but do you know why?

…..

They train that much because they’re practicing a SKILL. Yep, weightlifting is a skill, where as weight lifting (synonymous with body building) is less about skill and more about stimulation of a specific muscle. There is a very big difference between practicing a skill every day and trying to build muscle. One needs constant work because a movement pattern must become as efficient, effective and energy conserving as possible, the other is about giving it all you’ve got, essentially.

When practicing weightlifting the loads they use may indeed be written as 85%+ however for a 75kg lifter might only be 85kg for example and the total taxation on the body with that amount of weight won’t be as great as someone doing front squats with 120kg because the load is heavier and requires more effort to shift. This is why some people who try a high frequency training program for a body building purpose don’t always get the results they expect, the weights they need to lift just take too much out of them. However this sort of approach is useful for strongmen, power lifters, girevoy sport competitors (kettle bell sport) and anyone involved in strength sport because they need to groove their movements.

Does that makes sense?

I’m not saying high frequency isn’t good because I am a fan of it. What I’m saying is that before you go charging in head first after reading the latest study or article you need to understand the finer nuances of first. Especially when it comes to the sample group used. If they are lifters of 10 years experience what applies to them almost always won’t apply to someone who have been lifting for 6 months.

Remember, objectivity, not subjectivity.

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The Missing Link

Morning Guys,
 
The clean and press is a great exercise.
 
Do you have it in your program?
 
I find it is something that has fallen in to the shadows in recent times. That is unless you compete in Weightlifting or Strongman then this movement will not be the common.
 
Why should you invest some time in to learning this movement you ask?
 
There are many reasons ranging from the sheer amount of muscles used in the movement (pretty much the whole body), the strength you will gain by lifting a heavy weight from he floor and putting it over your head and not to mention the respect of many lifters. Just think about the impressive back and shoulders you will build from this simple movement.
 
It’s easy to look at the barbell variations of this lift and see how technically demanding the lift actually is, therefore for most people a good place to start is the double dumbbell clean and press. It’s easier to perform the clean and also forces your body to perform synchronised unilateral work, which also means that both sides of your body are forced to coordinate and become better activated and more involved than with a barbell. The range of motion is slightly greater than with a barbell and more ROM generally means more work, which means more results.
 
The dumbbell clean and press was also a very popular movement in the early days of weight lifting. Many of the founding fathers (Sandow, Park, Reeves, Stank, Grimek to name a few) used this movement with great success.
 
I’m not going to give you an in-depth guide on how to clean and press dumbbells because you can easily find such videos on youtube. In fact, here is one of them:
 
 
Is there a gold standard you want to be aiming for? Well yes there is, in the old days if you could do 12 reps (each rep starts from the floor) with 2x75lbs dumbbells (35kg) you were considered a true warrior of the iron. I’m not suggesting you start out with those, pick a weigh that allows you to hit the desired reps and start working on building your strength.
 
Try this:
 
Warm Up Sets x2 – Clean & Press
Working Sets – 3×8-12, once you hit 3×12 add weight. Add in a set of pull ups in between each set too.
Finisher – Dips – Weighted or BW 3-5x fail
 
You can have this as a stand alone workout with some assistance work added in or you can do it more frequently if you wish, however you will do well to lay off Bench Press for a while and instead substitute Dips as a finisher (like above).
 
Now go and conquer the dumbbell clean and press.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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