Tag Archives: strength training

Warning…. Incoming R-A-M-P

This is considered by some to be the most optimal way of getting ready for you chosen activity.
 
You might have heard of this term in it’s non acronym form.
 
-Raise
-Activate
-Mobilise
-Potentiate
 
Today we shall break down what each of these elements means and how you can apply the to your workouts for better lifting and more gains.
 
Okay, Raise.
 
Might seem obvious, it’s getting your pulse up and your blood flowing. It can be from a movement pattern or some other means, dealers choice.
 
Activate, a buzzword or late however it does not mean what people think it means.
 
What it doesn’t mean is doing umpteen isolation or banded exercises to fire each individual muscle, it means performing the movements you will be doing in your workout. First with perhaps bodyweight, then added resistance which is increased as you do more warm up sets.
 
Mobilise, this falls in with the movements you’re going to be doing and can also have crossover from your mobility pattern you did at the start to help get your blood flowing and raise your pulse.
 
Lastly we have Potential which is directly linked with the adding of resistance to your movements in your warm up sets which causes increased muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment, this will help you lift heaver weights.
 
Your warm up might look like this.
 
Mobility routine to raise pulse and mobilise.
 
Warm Up sets on lift to activate/potential muscle.
 
Squats:
 
– Warm Up Set 1 – Bar x10 – feels fine
– Warm Up Set 2 – 40kg x5 – left hip feeling stiff – foam roll 20 sec
-Warm Up Set 3 – 60kg x5 – feels fine
– Warm Up Set 4 – 80kg x3 – left glute doesn’t feel like it’s firing – band around ankle for 15-25x abduction on left leg
– Warm Up Set 5 – 100kg x3 – feels fine
– Warm Up Set 6 – 120kg x1 – feel fine
– Warm Up Set 7 – 140kg x1 – feels fine – last warm up set
– Working Sets 5x5x125kg
– Working Set 1/5 – felt fine
 
And so on.
 
Give it a go and you’ll find your workouts are more productive and also far more time efficient. After all, it’s better to spend 10-15min doing this and being able to get in to your working sets than it is to follow a 30min instgram activation routine before even stepping foot near a bar.
 
If you would like a nice technical read then please take a look at this link:
 
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Take my strong hand!

Are you uneven?
 
While the pursuit of strength is the most important element of many good training programs there is a lot to be said for being aesthetically balanced.
 
Apart from looking symmetrical you’ll also be more protected from injury.
 
Typically you’ll find people have one strong and one weak side (often the hand the write with gets more development), this can lead to overall muscle imbalance which starts to take you down the winding road towards of poor posture.
 
It’s not uncommon to hear this little gem:
 
“I can do 10 reps with this weight on this arm but only 5 on my other one.”
 
Now since common sense has long since vanished from our world you’ll find people laugh at this and continue to work the stronger side harder than the weaker one because their idiots.
 
A nice tip I give people in response to this statement is this:
 
“Start with your weaker arm and max out the reps, them match it on your stronger one.”
 
This is often followed by confusion as they say ‘but I can do more on that arm.”, due inevitable face palm.
 
Aside from matching reps on both sides it’s also a good idea to use unilateral movements to even up muscle/strength imbalances.
 
Here are some examples:
 
– Dumbbell Pressing
– Dumbbell Rowing
– Lunges
– Single Leg Deadlifts
– Single Arm Pulldowns
 
You get the idea.
 
While it is true you won’t replace compound movements (bilateral) in terms of getting the most out of your workouts, it can be useful to add in periods where you focus on some unilateral movements as accessory work to help even out those lagging areas.
 
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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A little bit about the split.

Morning All,
 
A lot of people use the term ‘split training’ but it doesn’t mean hat they think it means, or at least in the context of the way they set up their training. Obviously plenty of you know how splits are meant to be applied, however some don’t so it makes it a god topic of conversation.
 
Did you know that optimally you’ll hit each muscle group or movement every 3-5 days (so 2-3x per week).
 
 
 
^^ Some reading on the topic.
 
For example, if someone says to me that they’re doing a 5 day split, my mind will come up with one of these options, logical:
 
Day 1 – Chest/Back
Day 2 – Legs/Abs
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Shoulders/Back
Day 5 – Off
Day 6 – Repeat day 1 to start 5 day split again.
 
Or perhaps
 
Day 1 – Chest/Back
Day 2 – Legs – Quad focus
Day 3 – Shoulders/back
Day 4 – Legs – Hamstring Focus
Day 5 – Off
Day 6 – Repeat day 1 to start 5 day split again.
 
Here is what most people mean:
 
Day 1 – Chest
Day 2 – Back
Day 3 – Legs, maybe
Day 4 – Shoulders
Day 5 – Arms
Day 6 – Off
Day 7 – Off
Repeat bro split, for additional results starting sipping at the tren bottle, it’s the flavour of the month.
 
As you can see what they actually do is a 7day split, as the routine repeat every 7 days, where as the 5 day split examples above repeat every 5, thus allowing for more frequency of training, the whole idea of splits.
 
You also find Upper/Lower Splits also run over a typical 7day split, they usually look like this:
 
Day 1 – Upper
Day 2 – Lower
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Upper
Day 5 – Lower
Day 6 – Off
Day 7 – Off
 
Or
 
Day 1 – Upper
Day 2 – Lower
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Upper
Day 5 – Off
Day 6 – Lower
Day 7 – Off
 
Make sense?
 
You have a lot of different training splits ranging from Full Body to Pull-Push-Legs, Push-Pull- Events or just a simple Push-Pull and so on. Them main take home from this this post is what the premise behind a ‘split’ actually is in terms of increasing the frequency of your lifts.
 
What is your current split?
 
Is it 3 day, 4 day, 5 day or 7 day?
 
Take a look and make sure it’s optimal for your goal.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Unconventional 5×5

Everyone knows and loves 5×5, with good reason too.

The 5×5 routine was one that Reg Park used with great success, not to mention Bill Starr and a great many others.

As with anything everyone has their own unique tweaks that put in to play on this basic but brilliant program, each of which work well, here are some examples:

  • 5×5 at set working weight
  • 5×5 – 2×5 warm up (60-80% of working weight) 3×5 at working weight
  • 5×5 – 4 warm up sets to 1 all out set of 5
  • 5×5 – Friday Max out day, working to 1×5 all out, Monday 5×5 at 80% Fridays weight, Wednesday 2×5 at 70-80% Fridays weight
  • Typically the main aim is to hit 25 heavy reps, 80-85% of 1RM is typical.

There are countless more methods and today I would like to give you one that I utilise using extended sets, this will help you improve maximal strength and trigger hypertrophy.

Extended Set 5×5 – Using a harder movement with sub-maximal loading followed by an easier one movement. All total reps add up to the classic 25.

  • 5×2/3

For example:

A1 Extended Set – Front Squat/Squat – 5×2, rack then change bar position, Squat x3 at same weight.

Back Off Set 5×5 – As above, harder vacation of the lift followed by an easier one.

  • 5×2 + 3×5

Example:

A1 – FS 5×2 – B1 Squat 3×5 starting at same weight and increasing as necessary.

High Rep Back Off Set 5×5

  • 5×2 + 15

Example

A1 – 5×2 – B1 Squat 1×15 at the FS weight.

^^ Not classic 5×5 but the 25 rep goal is still hit.

There is nothing magical about these rep/set schemes, they’re just options for you to try.

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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That last rep was all you Bro!

Training to failure, it is good fun.

There is nothing better than feeling that deep burn and the sensation of completely exhausting a muscle.

However, should you really train that way all the time?

Morning All,

The concept of pushing the envelope every session is tempting and realistically you have a couple of options:

1 – Stop one or two reps before failure (RPE 8-9), then do an extra set with the same weight as before for more total volume.

2 – Do as many reps as you can and have a spotter help you complete the last rep, thus increasing intensity and mechanical fatigue/damage.

There have been plenty of studies over the recent years that have looked at studies that equate volume but differ in intensity, vary the amount of training days/frequency along with some other factors too (hopefully you will find the links to the studies and some other great articles below).

One thing that has become apparent is that for each individual there is an optimal balance between intensity and volume, too much of one works for a short period of time (2-3 weeks) but then starts to yield diminishing returns and requires more back-offs/deloads.

You want to stimulate the muscle to create the need for an adaptive response, that’s the bottom line.

What would this look like in terms of sets/reps in a workout?

A1 – Main Compound Movement – 8×3 – RPE 8-9
B1 – Accessory Movement – 3-6x4x6 – RPE 8-9
B2 – Accessory Movement – 3-6x4x6 – RPE 8-9
C1 – Isolation/Weakpoint Movement – 3×8-12 – RPE 8-10 or 3xFail

Using either a Pull-Push-Legs split on a 3on-1off rotation or perhaps a 4 day Upper/Lower Split.

^^ You could perhaps work towards failure on the last exercise as this would be weak point/isolation training.

Why no specific % of 1RM?

That answer is simple, it’s because not everyone can lift the same in relative terms of their 1RM. Some people might hit a 5RM with 87% of their 1RM wile others might only manage 80% at a push. This can be because of how they are neurologically wired or just down to the fact that they are massively strong and lifting far more absolute weight. Thus RPE is a better way to program your lifts.

***Let the weight dictate the reps.***

Take this info and do some digging yourself, then try applying it for a 3-6month training cycle, feel free to use the workout structure above or create your own. You will find that the longer you can stick with a small progression/overload the longer you will progress in the long run. There’s no sense in throwing every extra technique in to your training until you need to do so.

Enjoy,
Ross

The links:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15903379?ordinalpos=1&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16095427

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25853914

http://strengtheory.com/the-new-approach-to-training-volume/

http://strengtheory.com/high-frequency-training-for-a-bigger-total-research-on-highly-trained-norwegian-powerlifters/

https://www.elitefts.com/education/training/rate-of-perceived-exertion-rpe/

^^ This link will give you some more info on RPE.

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Time to Balance

As Christmas day draws nearer and the new year is literally around the corner I feel it’s a good time to start looking at some potential goals for next year, especially those surrounding balanced strength in certain lifts and even across the board if possible.
 
The lifts I want to draw your attention to are the following:
 
– Front Squat
– Behind Neck Press (It’s not dangerous if done correctly)
 
Exercises that when strengthened to their ideal ratio to their counterparts provide excellent strength/hypertrophy progress.
 
When people speak about squats it’s often the back variety in a high bar position (across the traps) typically, unless said person is a power lifter in which case they will opt for low bar (across the rear debts). When looking at your typical squat you should find your front squat hitting around 85% of that number. Yep, 85%. If you do 3×100 on back squat then you’d want to be hitting 85×3 on front squat.
 
A strong front squat will not only make your back squat feel easier, it will give you tremendous strength through the quads, core and upper back because of having to hold the front rack position. You will also find that the front squat has more athletic crossover as well.
 
If you haven’t really done much in the way of front squat then fear not, I will put up a simple progression method/workout below to help you improve these two lifts.
 
Time to discuss the much fear Behind Neck Press. There are a lot of people who claim this will destroy your shoulders and if the movement is done incorrectly and you have poor posture then they’re right, however if you take some time to iron out some kinks and improve your mobility/flexibility/form so you can perform this pain free with full ROM you will find your shoulders thank you in the end.
 
The lift we will be basing your BNP off of is your close grip bench press. You should look to be pressing 66% of your CGB in the BNP, so to put some numbers to that, if you CGBx6x100 you should be able to handle 66kg for 6 in the BNP. If you can this shows a healthy balance in your shoulders and chances are you will be injury free for the most part.
 
*If you are looking for where I go this info you will find it in the writings of a great strength coach by the name of Charles Poliquin, you might have heard of him.
 
Here’s a small excerpt from ‘The Poliquin Principles’ it’s well worth purchasing – https://www.scribd.com/doc/57908561/Charles-Poliquin-The-Poliquin-Principles
 
Now I said I would give you a simple method/workout to help you progress these, here it is (it’s a modified Hepburn method, check out Doug Hepburn’s writings, they hold a lot of great tips).
 
 
^^ A starting point for info on Doug.
 
First things first, the parameters of the workout:
 
– Establish 3RM for Squat and CGB then take the required % of those numbers for your FS & BNP (85%, 66% – You can go for 65% or 70% if you hate funny numbers).
 
– Take 10-20% off the weights you should be using for FS & BNP, starting out lighter will benefit you in the long run and allow you more room to progress and groove the movements/from. Leave your ego at the door.
 
– Train 3xP/W (2x FS/BNP sessions, the other session can have deadlift, dips, filler lifts etc, there will be an example of this)
 
– Start each compound lift at 1×3 & 7×2, add a rep every session until you hit 8×3 (should last around 4 weeks), once you hit this go back to 1×3,7×2 but increase the weight on said lift. Repeat to make all the gains (Y).
 
– Accessory Lifts: Have a pulling movement – say chin up) in-between each set of FS/BNP in a jump set fashion, it will look like this: A1 FS – Rest 60 seconds, A2 Chin Rest 60 seconds, A1 FS, and so on.
 
Here is how the workout high look:
 
Monday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 1×3,7×3
A2 – Chin x6-8
B1 – Bnp 1×3,7×2
B2 – Chest Supported Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
Wednesday: Rest 60-90seconds betweens sets.
A1 – Deadlift Ramp to 2RM, back off for 5x2x85-90% daily max.
B1 – Dumbbell Incline Press 3-6×6-8
B2 – Face Pull x8-12
C1 – Dips 6×6-8
 
Friday: Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.
A1 – FSQ 2×3,7×3
A2 – Pull Up Peg Grip x6-8
B1 – Bnp 2×3,7×2
B2 – Pendlay Row x6-8
C1 – Optional Isolation lift on weak body part (calves, rear delts etc)
 
^^ Notice the 1 rep progression on the main compound lifts (FS/BNP).
 
You will find this is quite a nice little change from your standard training and helps you bridge those strength imbalances.
 
Any questions simply leave a comment down below.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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