Tag Archives: strength skill

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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How Odd.

Have you ever heard of the Odd Lifts?

You know, ones such as the Bent Press, the Jefferson DL or perhaps the One Arm Snatch?

if not here are some links to get you started:

http://www.oddlifts.com

https://www.onnit.com/…/how-to-become-a-strongman-the-5-b-…/

Okay, now it’s time to get to the point of the post.

– Three odd lifts you don’t often do that will change your body for the better.

1 – The bottom up kettlebell press

This can be done standing, seated, kneeing, sat of the floor or perhaps even in a floor press/bench press/incline press manor, which ever way you choose it will achieve the following:

– Stronger press/grip
– Muscle irradiation (more muscle recruitment)
– Take out your ego

https://breakingmuscle.com/…/bottoms-up-kettlebell-presses-…

2 – There Renegade Row

Use kettlebells or dumbbells for this. The alternating row style of this lift will help you by:

– Strengthening your ability to brace (core stabilisation)
– Work the entire upper body
– Improve balance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHN0SGa-68Q

3 – Zecher Lifts

What is more real world than having to pick something off the floor and hold it in an awkward position? Not much, however is this is not to your liking you can swap it out for a bear hug style carry of a sand bag or something equally heavy and awkward.

You can pick the zecher lis you prefer out of the options in the link

The benefits:

– Overall Strength
– Fortified lower back
– A high crossover to daily living

https://www.t-nation.com/training/complete-guide-to-zerchers

Adding in this lifts or even doing a program of only these 3 will make some great changes to your overall body composition.

If you plan on doing the latter option here is a suggestion:

– 3 days per week or train every other day
– Heavy/Light/Medium loading protocol*
– Rest 1-5min between sets
– Eat according to your goal (gain mass or lose fat etc)

*Heavy = <25 total reps at 85% 1RM +
*Light = 75 total reps at 50-65% 1RM
*Medium = 50 total reps at 70-80% 1RM

For example:

Day 1:
Heavy – Zecher Lift
Light – Renegade Row
Medium – Bottom Up Press

Day 2:
Heavy – Bottom Up Press
Light – Zecher Lift
Medium – Renegade Row

Day 3:
Heavy – Renegade Row
Light – Bottom Up Press
Medium – Zecher Lift

How you add these lifts in or plan them is up to you as there are a lot of different odd lifts to choose from, just remember to add weight where you can and that consistency and progression is the key to success.

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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An old favourite

Ladders, not just for handymen. 
 
This training method is an old favourite of mine.
 
It’s one I’ve used for years and it never fails to help improve strength, lean mass and provide enjoyment in training.
 
What is a Ladder Set?
 
Well it’s kinda like a pyramid in a sense, yet at the same time it’s not, it’s completely different.
 
Let us say that you train on your own, this would mean you pick 2 exercises and pair them in and A1/A2 fashion (you could also have more than two exercises, it’s up to you and what best suits you goal) starting off with one rep each to then aadd a rep each subsequent set, like this:
 
– Chin Up: 1
– Dip: 2
– Chin Up: 2
– Dip: 2
– Chin Up: 3
– Dip: 3
 
And so on.
 
You can climb a ladder as high as you choose, so perhaps 1-5, or 1-10, maybe even higher if you’re the type of person to work to a time limit – 10min to climb as high as possible.
 
If you do 1-5 that’s 15 reps, 1-10 it’s 55, 1-3 it’s six and so on.
 
As you can see these are excellent at getting in both volume and quality of work, essentially increasing your work capacity/density of training.
 
Now a lot of people will not make it very high and here is why; once you miss a rep you start pac at 1 again, you’re not allowed to continue adding reps as you’ve reached technical failure in your form/strength. This means that you will potentially get a lot of qualify low reps that help solidify your form, rather than trying to hash out higher reps with flailing about.
 
You can do this with a partner and one exercise, you’d both go back and forth until one of you misses a solid rep, then both start again at one.
 
I know I said you will do this on your own with 2 exercises, however in a pinch you can do it with one, giving you the option of perhaps unilateral work (single arm or leg, 1 rep each side, then 2 then three etc) or you could perhaps use something like a dumbbell clean & press in which you’d do one clean, 1 press, 1 clean, 2 presses and so on.
 
The premise of the ladder is to help build volume over time while keeping your form smooth.
 
A nice workout is to start off with say 1-3 repeated 3 times, then build that to 5 times, once at 5 go back to 3 round but for 1-4, keep repeating until you do 1-5×5 (that give you 75 total reps). If you start off with a technical 5 or 6RM by the end of it you will have shifted some serious tonnage, built strength, lean mass and general awesomeness.
 
Here is a list of the most effective exercises I’ve found to use with this:
 
– Clean & Press
– Pistol Squat
– Pull Up/Press
– Single Arm Push Up
– Single Arm Row
– Kettlebell Swing
– Kettlebell Snatch
 
Essentially anything unilateral, anything opposing (antagonist superset or upper lower).
 
Add these in as finishers to start with and one you’ve found your flow with them start applying to your main lifts.
 
Here’s a quick guide to what you’d get from a few rep options:
 
1-3 = Strength
1-5 = Strength/Size
1-10 = Size
 
*Timed ladder blocks are also great, 5,10 or 20min blocks are pretty good.
 
I suggest a total of 10 rounds for the 1-3, 5 rounds for the 1-5 and 2 rounds for the 1-10 that you build to over time.
 
As you can see ladder sets open up a whole host of options, you might enjoy this one:
 
A1 – Squat
A2 – Chin
A3 – Press
– 1-10 ladder :).
 
Take the info above and see what you can create.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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3 Easy to apply methods to increase your strength TODAY!

Making changes in body composition is a goal for many people, yet when it comes to doing that you need to increase your base levels of strength.
 
Being stronger allows you to accumulate more total volume, which means more potential for muscle growth.
 
If you have hit a plateau, here are three easy to apply methods to help you boost strength.
 
1 – Dead Starts
 
Stating a press or a squat from the bottom position (a power rack or suit stand pins will be needed) eliminates the eccentric loading/stretch reflex meaning it’s pure neural output and force production, this is a great way to help strength.
 
Pick one movement and focus on this for 2-3 weeks, then change to another movement or a different variation of the lift, this can be quiet draining on the nervous system.
 
Perform said lift 3x per week start off with 8×2 and add a rep until you hit 8×3, use 80%+ of 1RM, rest as much as you need but as little as possible.
 
2 – Pause Reps
 
An old classic but one that is super effective.
 
If you’re pressing or squatting, simply get to the lowers point in the lift and pause there for a minimum of 2-3 seconds (4 is the point where most people lose all potential energy stored by the eccentric portion of the lift), build up to longer pauses over time.
 
So say week 1: 3 seconds, week 2: 4 seconds, week 3: 5 seconds etc.
 
You can also pause pulling movements, the main difference being you pause at the top of the lift (contraction peak), I believe it was Phil Learney who said if you can’t hold at the top for 3 seconds then the weight is too heavy and your back is too weak – other top coaches have said similar and I have to agree wholeheartedly with this statement. Leave your ego & your momentum at the door in pulling movements.
 
If you choose to pause deadlifts stop in either the concentric or eccentric, both are very effective at building strength – aim to pause at your common ‘sticking point’ as that’s where you’re power output is at it’s weakest.
 
2-3 week blocks advised, one lift focus per block.
 
3 – Partial Reps
 
Eek, gasp!
 
Yep, partial reps are a great tool for increasing strength, provided you have the equipment necessary to perform them with good form.
 
Say you have a sticking point, you’d simply set up the bar at the post just before it and just after it and press or squat through that small ROM to build your strength/force output in that area.
 
This could also be done in stages across the entire full ROM of a lift, might look like this:
 
A1 – Press lock out 3×3-5
B1 – 1/2 rep to 3/4 rep and hold (pressing in to the pins on each last rep as hard as possible 3×3-5
C1 – 1/4 rep to 1/2 rep press hold as above 3×3-5
D1 – Bottom of rep to 1/4 rep press hold as above 3×3-5
E1 – Full rep 3×3-5
 
Easy on paper, brutal in practice, but 100% effective in getting stronger.
 
2-4 week block advised, one lift focus per block.
 
Bonus – Cheat Rep & Eccentric Overload
 
A classic cheat rep such as a push press, or cheat curl for example. This allows you to get the lift up to the end ROM and then slowly lower the weight using eccentric training.
 
There you have it, some simple methods you can add to your training to increase your strength today.
 
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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A quote to think on

A quote from Dr. VM Zatsiorsky has always stuck with me:
 
“Train as heavy as possible, as often as possible, while staying as fresh as possible.”
 
Now this has multiple interpretations, today I will give you mine.
 
You can take from it what you will, however I’d encourage you to formulate your own.
 
To me this is a simple message –
 
Lift heavy, everyday if possible but always leave each session feeling strong, confident and ready for more.
 
Given the background of the good Dr being one of a weightlifting sports science one, it was in the interests of the Russian weightlifters/powerlifter to train as close as they could to the nerve without burning out.
 
High performance demands high intensity and high workload.
 
Now obviously there will be a point where a person needs a rest, the accumulation of volume/intensity coupled with high frequency will mean that physiologically you will eventually need to rest so the your body can adapt.
 
Personally I like the idea of training multiple times per day, multiple days in a row and learning to listen to your body.
 
I believe it was John Broz who said “How you feel is a lie.” or something similar.
 
Basically it means you can push through days where you feel sluggish because it’s in your head and your body can actually handle it.
 
Obviously this takes some time to achieve this level of awareness, however it is certainly something that is very real in the world of strength sport and performance, perhaps not so great for bodybuilding purposes but definitely for sport.
 
I’m sure you’d like to know how to apply this to your training.
 
Here is a list of movements you want to achieve:
 
Push, Pull, Squat, Hinge, Loaded Carry, Full Body
 
You might put the push/pull together, then have the squatting/hinging the day after, followed by a loaded carry day and then a full body movement day (clean & jerk or snatch for example).
 
Depending on your sporting needs you’ll plan what you need.
 
Now this isn’t for everyone.
 
I’d say pick a few movements and focus on them, work up to a heavy ish 1,2 or 3 for the day and the do some back off work if you feel up to it.
 
– Press ramp to heavy 2
– Back off 3-5x2x80% top weight
– Done
 
The high frequency will produce enough volume for the agains you desire, this is why you can have a fairly low volume on the day.
 
There is a lot of literature on training daily, if you want to know more look up John Broz, Dan John, Bulgarian/Russian weightlifting and make your own choice on giving it a go.
 
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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