Tag Archives: strength practice
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.
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 Hall, Ed 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:
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).
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:
Moral of the story; your warm ups should be the same as your working sets.
The bench press is the gym bro’s favourite exercise by a long long way and today I will give three simple tips to help improve those numbers so that when someone asks “How much do ya bench?” you can answer with an impressive amount.
Tip 1 – Let The Weight Settle.
People are in too much of a rush to power out their reps they don’t even notice that they are not settled on the bench properly. When I say about ‘Letting the weight settle’ it means un-racking the bar and holding it for a few seconds to allow your body to stabilise, along wth and compression in the bench foam to happen so that you’re nice and balanced (This goes for the squat, overhead press, jerk and other such movements too).
The next time you bench take out the weight and let it settle while making sure you have a solid set up (feel flat, ass on the bench, shoulders on the bench, wrists straight, the bar in the correct place in your hands etc), I can guarantee that you will find the exercises much easier, you will also be able to get tight too, which nicely brings us on to our next tip.
Tip 2 – Getting Tight.
Getting tight is something you will hear all good lifters talk about because it’s incredibly important. When you brace correctly by breathing in to your belly (diaphragm) and actively squeeze the bar as hard as possible while contracting your back and lats hard you recruit more total muscle, this means more power and also more stability, both of which you need to bench a lot of weight.
Practice this with just the bar, dare I say it you want to get to the point of discomfort with how tense your body is because that means you’re along the right path. DOn’t forget to stay tight throughout the entire bench press movement, especially the pause at the bottom – this is required in a comp which leads to my next tip.
Tip 3 – Pause Every First Rep
Pause reps have had their merits sung plenty of times and doing a set of entirely composed of pause reps is great for strength but it can limit the amount of volume you can achieve, this is simply due to the weight reduction you would need to have a meaningful set of pause reps. If you pause the first rep of every set of bench presses (or presses in general, then finish the rest as touch and go), you will get the benefit of control, strength, volume and patience because it will take out the need to rush, which will be very helpful if you compete in Powerlifting as you don’t want to get a red light for pressing before the command.
There you have it. 3 tips to help you improve your bench press numbers.
Bonus Tip – All The Pressing
A great way to train is by hitting all your pressing movements in the same session, starting with OHP, followed by Incline Press, then Bench Press and finally Dips (you can use push press in this is you wish too). By training this way you will build a strong upper body and hammer in lots of volume on your pressing ability. Use a ramping style rep/loading system for this, meaning if you start on 5 reps for OHP you stay at 5 and add a little bit of weight until you can’t hit 5, then go to incline starting on the weight you failed on in the OHP and repeat, then bench and so on, the dips can be weighted or not depending on if you want volume not hem or not. Doing this twice per week is more than enough to start with.
When it comes to using barbells the is one factor that they all have in common when it comes to correct execution of the various movements, do you know what it is though?