Tag Archives: strength practice

5 exercises you’re not doing that will change your life.

 
In the modern age the mentality of training is heavily influenced by body building.
 
Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing bad about this, however not everyone wants to be one, some want strength, others want performance and a few just want to move better and enjoy life.
 
Give the influence of BB’ing most peoples training is constructed around open chain isolation exercises.
 
Again, nothing wrong with this, however there’s so much you than you know.
 
The 5 movements below will literally change your life in the following ways:
 
– Add slabs of lean muscle
– Build strength
– Increase mental fortitude
– Strip fat
– Improve movement patters (mobility, flexibility etc)
 
Be prepared, chances are you don’t do these at all.
 
1 – Clean & Press
 
2 – Turkish Get up
 
3 – Loaded carry (farmer walk, bear hug, overhead hold, sled drag, prowler push)
 
4 – Rope climbing (or climbing in general)
 
5 – Front Squats
 
Why these 5?
 
Apart from he fact people don’t really do them I will list some benefits in correlation with their number:
 
1 – Explosive power & strength
2 – Full body coordination, improved ROM, stability, strength
3 – Conditioning (strip fat), strength, stability, mental toughness, power
4 – Helps you climb trees to get down your kite
5 – Strength, stability, ROM, posture
 
Now there is one movement that you may feel also needs to be in there and I’d agree, the deadlift should be in there as well.
 
6 – Deadlift – snatch grip variation especially :3
 
You’d be surprised the body you could build doing those exercises, however many of you won’t because they don’t fall in to the norm and fit the status quo, shame.
 
If you’re one of those who has the courage to brea away from the norm here’s a protocol you can use to make that change you’ve been looking for –
 
*Number to correlate*
 
– 5-25 total reps per movement (1,2,5,6)
– 80% + 1RM loading
– 10-20min total distance covered (3/4)
– Train 2-5 times per week
– Session length 45min tops
– Track everything and aim to progress where you can
 
Seems simple, however you have your movements, you can choose to do them with dumbbells, barbells, kettlebells, odd objects and much more.
 
Just aim to break the norm if you really want to get some results.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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4 techniques to getting stronger.

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to be considered strong.
 
Being strong is awesome.
 
It makes you more robust, improves your health*, changes your quality of life and above all else it looks pretty bad ass.
*Provided your nutrition and overall lifestyle isn’t self destructive.
 
Strength is a funny thing.
 
You’re either strong or you’re not and to what degree of strength you have simply boils down to wha you need it for, after all, strength is simply the ability to perform a given task much like fitness.
 
So how strong s hold you be?
 
As strong as YOU need is the answer.
 
Okay, enough philosophical thoughts.
 
Time for some techniques.
 
1 – Paused Reps
 
A classic that is still relevant to this day.
 
It’s great for helping you generate and more importantly hold tension in a lift, plus it will get you over sticking points.
 
You simply pause your rep in one or more locations throughout the lifts ROM, it’s that easy.
 
Most will pause at the hardest part of the ROM, in a squat this would be at the bottom as coming out of the hole is hardest for most people.
 
For a deadlift you may choose to pause mid shin, then continue the lift.
 
My recommendation is to do anywhere up to 25-30 total reps for this style of training, that could mean 5×5 or 12×2, perhaps only 3×3 or 4×4, you pick your poison.
 
2 – Singles
 
Another classic, however there’s a slight twist.
 
Again you’d do well to limit the total reps to around 25-30, however here is how you might set it out:
 
– 1 lift per workout for this protocol
– 80-90% 1RM load on the bar
– Perform 1 rep on the minute every minute (EMOM)
– Stick with a load % until you can hit all 30 reps, then incase load of change the lift variation
 
The idea of this is to build volume at a decent intensity level, having to start each rep will help you groove the form and the skill of the lift.
 
My favourites for this are the Deadlift and Presses.
 
3 – Speed Work
 
Increasing your rate of force development (RFD) will help you get stronger as you’ll find you may already have the base strength needed to make a lift, however you’re just too slow.
 
Dave Tate speaks about this at length at Elite FTS, check out his work, it’s mind-blowing stuff as he is crazy smart.
 
Back on topic, speed work.
 
You take 50-65% of your max and perform sets of reps as explosively as possible (ensure good form).
 
You’ll find the 25-30 rep total is again a good bench mark to go for.
 
Concentrate on making each rep as crisp and fast as possible, you will also be limiting your rest, top end being 60 seconds, no more.
 
This method is great for not only boosting RFD but also getting in a good amount of volume in a short space of time.
 
You may think that this won’t help you get strong, it will, trust me. Most strong people are actually pretty fast, just watch any world record lifts and you’ll find the majority look effortlessly fast for the most part.
 
4 – Eccentrics
 
Yet again another tried and tested method.
 
Loading up an exercises will over your max with 110-130% of 1RM and lowering it as slowly as possible is great for helping you break through plateaus.
 
Due to the highly demanding nature of these lifts I’d advise most people to make sure they have spotters and aim for 3-5 sets of 1-3 reps, limiting this rep total to 15 as it can be quite taxing.
 
You will also do well to use this method for 2-3 weeks tops.
 
Doing them it never seems like much, however if you’re using 130% of your max I can tell you it is soul destroying, don’t fall victim to your ego on this, especially with compound lifts.
 
This is great for Chins, Dips, Curls and other such exercises, I’d be a tad weary of doing it with squats and DL unless you’re a very accomplished lifter.
 
There you have it.
 
4 simple techniques that have all been proven to work.
 
Use one method at a time, don’t be a hero and try to do more than one or combine them because you will snap your self up.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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6-10 week protocol to a new PB for you & your clients – new twist on a classic.

If you’re not interested in hitting some new PB’s, that’s cool, feel free to skip reading this.

Let’s say you are interested though, keep reading.

Below you’ll find a simple protocol to help you improve on one or multiple lifts.

This is not something you’d find in body building very often, it’s for people who chase strength.

The information in question is a favourite of many a Russian athlete oddly enough and one I’ve done many times to hit new heights.

I first learnt of this from reading older writing by Dr Fred Hatfield, if you’ve not read any of his books you should, they’re amazing resources.

As you may have guessed I quite like the Russian methodology.

Here is the premise:

– 80% 1RM is starting load, 105% is the end game
– Double Progression is applied
– Intensity is increased incrementally
– Train a 2-3 times per week
– Rest as needed
– Stay tough and you’ll reap the rewards
– Don’t get greedy, follow the protocol

This is how the classic program looks based on 3 days training per week (Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thur-Sat):

*All 6x sets are at 80% 1RM, % changes will be listed below.

^^ If you don’t know yours or your clients 1RM, use an RM calculator to establish an estimated one and go from there.

Week 1
– 6x2x80% 1RM*
– 6×3* (the volume progression begins)
– 6×2*

Week 2
– 6×4*
– 6×2*
– 6×5*

Week 3
– 6×2*
– 6×6*
– 6×2*

Week 4
– 5x5x85% 1RM
– 6×2*
– 4x4x90%

Week 5
– 6×2*
– 3x3x95%
– 6×2*

Week 6
– 2x2x100% (old 1RM)
– 6×2*
– 1x1x105% (aim for a new 1RM)

Week 7 Deload

Congratulations, a new PB to help you drive up old RM’s and add some much sought after muscle/strength.

Thats the typical way to do it, however if you’re short on time then this  may be of use.

The new twist for those short on time –

If you with to do this twice per week the cycle will end up being 10 weeks long (9 with the last being a deload).

Week 1
– 6×2*
– 6×3*

Week 2
– 6×4*
– 6×2*

Finally

Week 9 – Week 10 Deload
– 6×2*
– 1x1x105% (aim for new 1 RM)

From experience you can pair two lifts together when doing this and PB on both so long as they don’t interfere with each other.

It’s also good because you get a heavy day and a light day each week meaning you can really go for it each heavy session as it makes the overall progression far more manageable.

For example:

DL & Press (or weighted dip)
Squat & Pull Up
Bench Press & Row

You’ll find that some token accessory work of say 30 reps per accessory lift is enough to help the other lifts keep up and maintain some form of muscular balance.

Here is how I planned my sessions using the twice per week training schedule. I was forced to train this way because of upcoming events and life doing what it does best, however I hit new numbers and intact made progress.

Sometimes less really is more.

Lifting Day 1 & 2:
A1 – DL – sets/reps as above
B1 – Press – sets/reps as above
B2 – Chin – 5 reps each set
C1 – Squat 1×10-20

  • I would add in perhaps some postural work and make a few sets for smaller muscle groups if I had time
  • You can also add in some CV training (sprints etc) a couple of times per week that don’t require you going to a gym

The funny thing with this is it’s so simple people will ignore it.

We live in a world where people think that unless they’ve destroyed themselves they haven’t had a good training session.

This is not true.

Especially when you look at MRV (maximum recoverable volume) vs MED (minimal effective dose), however that’s for another day.

Give the above a go and see how you fair.

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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Short on time? Better back off.

The introduction and more frequent use of ‘back off sets’ has become quite popular of late.

You’ll find you can use them to determine suitable loading for your next session, increase total TUT and even help you maintain your progress if you find your gym training time has been chopped down due to life getting in the way.

In the past this has happened several times and as such a way and to be found to get in some quality work, here is an option for you, it will take anywhere from 20-30min tops, try not to spend longer than 30min (especially if your time is limited), just focus on hard work.

This protocol will:

– Provide suitable mechanical tension for strength
– Generate metabolic stress for adaptation
– Create muscle damage for new growth

All you need to do is follow the guidelines and put in all your effort, eat the calories required for your goal (I’ve written about this previously), sleep and stay focused.

Let’s get down o the details.

– Use compound movements (Squat, DL, Press, Chin, Row, etc)

– 1 or 2 per workout (A1/A2 pairing)

– Ramp up your weights each set, start off with 5’s and work to one heavy set, then add a little more weight for a 3, then finally a little more for 1 single. The triple/single aren’t all out efforts, only the 5, they’re just for extra neural stimulation.

– Take 70% of the top 5 and perform 1 back off set of 10-20 reps unbroken

– Rest is minimal between sets, go as soon as you feel ready

– 3 sessions per week is a good minimum to cover the full body

You will be in and out in no time at all.

This short style of workout will allow heavy enough loads to trigger a host of positive things and the back of set will further potentiate this.

If you find you’re doing all of this in 20min then use the extra 10 for some accessory movements (arms, calves etc).

The protocol above is nothing fancy, it’s devised to get maximum results out of minimum time and as such leaves no room for dilly-dallying.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Too hard, too often.

It’s not unusual for those who love training to go a little hard at the gym leaving nothing left in the tank and while it might seem like they will make progress this way, following this route will often leave you broken and without meaningful progress.
 
It’s an easy place to fall in to.
 
Back when what would breed the training of today was originally becoming popular (1800’s) there were two main schools of though:
 
– Daily practice of heavy lifting, near done to failure
– Cycling heavy, light and medium sessions
 
Both provided solid foundations of strength and built great physiques, as such there is a lot that we can learn from these teaching.
 
When it comes to those who like to lift heavy and often, picking 1-3 movements is all you need per session (focusing on those 1-3 for an extended period of time is also advised), it’s imperative you make sure you’re stopping well short of failure, as such this will mean each set is of limited repetitions and there is multiple sets (to get in the required volume to grow), you’ll leave the session feeling strong and potentially like you could have done more, don’t do more.
 
This style of training on the nerve can be quite taxing is you start chasing fatigue instead of performance, remember, you don’t want to start feeling tried/drained, if you do that means you’ve done too much and need to stop.
 
Take a deload every 3rd or 4th week, it will keep you lifting for longer.
 
The second option suit itself to many different goals, the former is more of a strength/performance method.
 
The use of H-L-M training sessions is a great way to train because it will allow you to have one session with maximal intensity, one that focuses on recovery and the last one that allows you to put ins one well needed work on volume/reps.
 
Some in the modern age call this method DUP (daily undulating periodisation).
 
The hardest thing about cycling is the temptation to make each session super hard and that’s not the idea, the light session is designed to let fatigue dissipate, hence why having it between the heavy and medium is ideal. You can also base your volume numbers off of your heavy day, for example:
 
H – worked up to a top set of 5
L – sets of 10 to increase blood flow and practice movement
M – 80% of the top 5 on heavy day for volume work to failure
 
You’d be surprised how well this works on either full body or split styles of training. The rep options you have for this are endless depending on your goal.
 
The reason the styles of method lost some favour over the years is because they didn’t fit in with the trend of ‘more is better’, it’s worth remembering that often times more is rarely better, it’s just more.
 
If you’re a little lost in your training give one of these a try, you’ll find not going for broke each session will not only keep you lifting longer but also give you focus and much needed progress.
 
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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Limited Choice

Afternoon Guys,
 
Did you know that having a limit to how many exercises you do in a workout can actually increase it’s effectiveness.
 
The reason being that if you take out excess you’ll find that you need to maximise what you’re doing with what you have to get the most bang for your buck, thus meaning an increase in intensity and metabolic disruption which leads to more potential progress.
 
I have challenge for you.
 
It will involve 12 weeks of commitment and effort on your part, if you feel up for it then keep reading.
 
The 2-3-4 Step Guide to Break Plateaus
 
In the first 4 weeks I want you to hit the following targets:
 
– 75 reps per week, per muscle group
– 70-85% average intensity
– Hit each muscle group 2 times per week
– Use only two exercises per muscle group
 
In the second 4 weeks I want you to hit the following targets:
 
– 100 reps per week, per muscle group
– 70-85% average intensity
– Hit each muscle group 2 times per week
– Use three exercises per muscle group
 
In the third and final 4 weeks I want you to hit the following targets:
 
– 125 reps per week, per muscle group
– 70-85% average intensity
– Hit each muscle group 2 times per week
– Use four exercises per muscle group
 
Doing this will give you an idea of what it takes to put together a program that delivers what you need with minimal confusion, take some time to think this through and opt for exercises that give you the best bang for your buck, such as Squat & Good Mornings as a pairing for example.
 
Also remember that an exercise such as Weighted Chins will also sufficiently hit biceps as well as annihilate you back, pair these with deadlifts and you’ve got a great back workout.
 
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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Warm Up That Works Wonders

How do you currently warm up?

I was warming up for squats today and noticed some lads doing the same for bench (it is international chest day after all).

The warm up they did was not terrible by any means, it contained stretching, some dynamic work and some reps with the bar/60kg, however the form was loose and the tempo was inconsistent, by the time they got to their working sets the form had changed yet again. I had a brief chat and offered some tips to help tighten said form but the words became lost on the winds.

If you take a look at any videos of high level lifters you will find their warm up sets look almost identical to their working sets. They lift the light weights like they’re heavy and this crosses over to them lifting heavy weights like they are light.

Personally I try not to waste any reps and use every one as a chance to groove solid form and get feedback on how my body is feeling, do you do the same?

There are lots of way to warm up which become more or less relevant depending on your goal, however to help groove your form try warming up with the lift you want to work for that day. Doing around 8 sets of 2-3 reps (perhaps one set of 10 with the bar to dust off the cobwebs) of your desired exercise, you add weight to take it close to or even over your working sets for the day, this will set you up for a good session, both physically and neurologically.

It might look like this:

SQ – Bar x10, 60kg x5, 80kg x5, 100kg x3, 120kg x2, 140kg x2, 155kg x1, 165kg x1, 170kg x1, 5x5x150kg

Here is a nice little article with some good references if you want to look in to this further:

http://main.poliquingroup.com/…/Warm-Up_Tips_To_Get_Stronge…

Moral of the story; your warm ups should be the same as your working sets.

Enjoy,
Ross

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