Tag Archives: skill

1-2-3 for you & me

Progress, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.
 
An old school method for strength & lean mass.
 
Morning All,
 
You may have guessed that I enjoy things from yesteryear.
 
For good reason too, I might add.
 
Everything that worked back then still works today, in fact it’s usually more effective than what most people do these days.
 
You will find many a person runs to a fitness magazine, or some form of social media for a workout routine, which is fair enough, if something is free you’d be silly not to use it.
 
The only issue is that while the info might be good, the people using it only apply around 50% effort, especially when the weights get heavy.
 
This is bad… very bad.
 
Low effort means low results.
 
This is where for those of you who are a little more focused 1-2-3 will be something you enjoy.
 
Here is what to do:
 
– Pick an exercise or two (A1/A2 fashion)
– Put some weight on the bar, say 80% of your max
– Do 1 rep, rest a little, do 2 reps, rest a little, do 3 reps, rest longer
– Add weight after each successful 1-2-3
– Do 3-5 sets
 
 
You’d be surprised how this rest pause style of protocol allows you to lift heavier than normal and get in some decent volume too.
 
You’ll find that this style of protocol is are more sustainable than a standard 5×5 with repeating weight as you can manage fatigue levels far better while still lifting heavy-ish.
 
In between each of the prescribed reps you could rest 15-30 seconds, just enough to allow you to get the next reps easily while still lifting heavy.
 
Rest 2-5min after each full set.
 
After you’ve done your reps/sets you can finish off with some loaded carries and perhaps some isolation work for weak points, or for vanity reasons, your choice.
 
This is so easy to apply you’ll probably ignore it.
 
You can use 3 week rotations before adding more total load to the bar if you choose, it will look like this:
 
Week 1: 3×1-2-3×80%
Week 2: 4×1-2-3×80%
Week 3: 5×1-2-3×80%
Week 4: 3×1-2-3×82%
And so on.
 
I’ve it a try and watch your strength, lean mass, skill in the lift and enjoyment of training soar through the roof.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Some simple tests to try

Movement.
 
It’s kind of really popular now.
 
Like really popular.
 
However before you can move on to all the fancy stuff, form a lifters perspective, can you do the basics?
 
Squat-Hinge-Push-Pull-Brace
 
Most think they can
 
The truth is many can’t
 
Here is a simple yet effective movement screen I use with clients to assess their ability and see what we need to work on.
 
My basic movement screen is as follows:
 
– Standing on 1 Leg (eyes open, then closed)
– Goblet Squat
– BW Hinge (double leg & single leg)
– Press Up
– Bat Wing
– Floor or Wall Angle
– Plank
 
What do the above actually assess or do?
 
Let’s take a look.
 
Standing on 1 Leg (eyes open, then closed): Aim for 30 seconds without any movement with your eyes closed.
 
Balance/proprioception/posture 
 
Goblet Squat: Aim for a full ROM with no upper thoracic collapse.
 
The ability to stay braced and maintain upper thoracic extension/stability while achieving a full flexion of the hip/knee, it also highlights ankle/foot stability/mobility issues (weigh shifting, heels lifting etc)
 
– BW Hinge ( start with double leg & then single leg): Aim for a full hip hinge while maintaining solid posture, no rounding or loss of balance.
 
Full hip hinge while maintaining core bracing, natural posture, proprioception and stability.
 
– Press Up: Aim for full press-up with no break in form (elbows tight to sides, bum pinched.
 
Bracing, posture, while moving through time and space in a pressing fashion, full ROM through elbow flexion and also control of upper back (scapula) retraction/activation.
 
– Bat Wing: Aim for full retraction of shoulder blades and upper back contraction – do this against a wall.
 
Upper back control, scapula retraction and full ROM, plus bracing and good posture throughout the movement.
 
– Floor or Wall Angle: Aim to get your arms fully extended overhead with no change in your posture (excessive back arching).
 
Upper thoracic ROM, shoulder ROM, stiffness in lats/lack of core bracing.
 
– Plank: Aim to hold a solid position from head to toe,no sagging.
 
Core Bracing and posture consistency.
 
The above tests are an overall assessment to see if the person doing them can control their body correctly and move through time & space without any issue.
 
A lot of people struggle with these basic movements and worst of all ignore them, opting to go for more advanced movements that they’re just not ready for.
 
Basically building on disfunction.
 
Think of it like building a house, you wouldn’t do it if the foundations were crap of the area was known for subsidence, that’s just a recipe for disaster.
 
Now from an enjoyment stand point the train that these styles of assessment will require the client to do can seem very boring and basic, especially when we live in a world that demands MORE MORE MORE.
 
A lot of people fall in to the trap of wanting the fancy fun things to do and while there is nothing wrong with this it can cause a lot of issues later down the line.
 
For example:
 
Plyometrics (jump training).
 
Is it fun?
 
Hell yes.
 
Is it safe?
 
Yes, IF you have correct movement patterns and the strength/stability to perform the movements correctly, if you can’t hen it will lead to injury, especially in the knee, trust me I’ve seen it.
 
Did you know according to the research done by Prof Yuri Verkhoshansky, to do basic low level jump training you should be able to squat your bodyweight for solid reps – that’s bodyweight on a bar by the way.
 
For Depth Jumps and other more advanced techniques the recommendations are up to 2xBW on the bar, not many can do that.
 
^^ You will find this info in the book Super Training & also The Science & Practice of Strength Training if memory serves me correctly.
 
Keeping this in mind.
 
How many people do you know who do training that is far lack of a better term, way beyond their pay grade, a fair few I’d imagine. 
 
I know a few and I have even done it myself in the past, injury was my reward because like all competitive people I did too much of what I wasn’t ready for.
 
Building a solid and wide foundation will allow you to hit a higher peak.
 
Yes it may be a tad dull at the start, it can also be hard to hear, however it’s sometimes necessary.
 
Take a look at your own movements and patterns, are they solid or could they do with some improvement?
 
Truing hard and stay safe
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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4 Movements you should be able to do.

Well you don’t have to be able to do these, however life will be much easier if you can.
 
1 – A full ROM overhead squat
2 – A full hinge
3 – A get up without the use of your hands
4 – A full ROM pull up
5 – A handstand – advanced
 
Why those 4?
 
In terms of general health you’ll find it’s these qualities people lose over time and as such their quality of life depreciates, however if you keep a good amount of strength in these movements you’ll find you age proof yourself throughout the years.
 
Let’s look at them all individually.
 
1 – A full ROM overhead squat.
 
Now this doesn’t have to be with maximal loads, it’s just a movement that will show your bodies potential limitations in ankles, hips & shoulders which are common because of daily life.
 
This skill can be linked to getting out of a chair or up from sitting on the floor. 
If you’re really strong you can do this on one leg too.
 
2 – A full hip hinge
 
This is in reference to a full hip flexion with minimal knee bend while not losing upper thoracic position, it will basically allow you to lift things correctly and minimise injury while firing up your hamstrings, glutes, erectors and musculature of the posterior chain.
 
It will also cross over in to picking something up and carrying it for a distance or time, a skill we NEED in everyday life.
 
3 – A get up without the use of your hands
 
If you’ve ever watched the difference between a elderly persona and a youth when it comes to getting up you will see the difference, however keeping the ability to get up without the use of your hands shows total body connection and strength which if kept in to old age can help keep you out of a retirement home.
 
The above being said, having the ability to perform a Turkish Get Up is also a great skill to have at any age.
 
4 – A full ROM pull up
 
Climbing is something we are meant to do. The ability to pull up your own body weight is an essential skill because it shows health & strength, plus if you’ve gotten in to your golden years and have slipped over and perhaps twisted your ankle the ability to grab something and lift yourself up will be most welcome.
 
5 – A handstand
 
Balancing on your hands was an old favourite in the days past and showed not only strength and total body connection along with wrist, elbow and shoulder health.
 
Inversion is a great skill as it requires concentration, bracing, controlled breathing and calm.
 
Now these movements are very useful for overall health and longevity, if you wish to specialise in a sport then you will have different needs which may go against the best interests of your health/longevity, this is the sacrifice you make.
Being able to move is also great for your mental health too.
 
If you want to work on these then you can either take up a movement class or perhaps some form of advanced yoga.
 
Being able to move is important, don’t lose it, the difference between a young body an old one is the ability to move.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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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

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Some variety is good, too much isn’t.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the classic line of “You need to change up your training to keep the body guessing” or something along those lines.

While having some changes in your training program is good for novelty and staving off the boredom, too much change too often will leave you without any real progress due to a lack of suitable adaptation.

Look at is this way; if you want to get better at a certain skill you practice that skill over and over and over again, the same is true fro lifting weights/training, you need repeated and sustained efforts to adapt and progress, chopping and changing every session won’t provide too much in the way of progress.

While you might not like that fact is it very much the case.

Take a look at people who do an ever changing amount of classes, they shift their excess fat and build some small amount of muscle (this is great btw), however past that point they end up looking no better because they don’t want to buckle down and stay with a training program for longer than a couple of weeks.

It’s a common issue that everyone falls victim to.

Now it is worth noting that some people do indeed need change every 2 weeks in there training, however those people are usually genetically gifted and 9/10 times you’re not that person, you’re the one who needs to stay consistent to a program for at least 12-16 weeks, sorry, that’s how it is.

When all that is said and done these words are only simple bits of advice, you can do what ever the hell you want, in the end it makes no different to me personally. If you’re happy with your training and your results then fill your boots, however if you’re not then you’d do well to take this on board.

You will often find the most successful training programs are often the most boring.

Enjoy,
Ross

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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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