Tag Archives: strength

Random Protocol for Easy Strength

This little training protocol just popped into my mind, so I thought I’d share it with you.

Train every 3 days, this will equate to training three times a week in some weeks and two times in others.

You’ll be alternating Heavy/Light/Medium sessions.

Each day will have a slightly different focus, the overall goal of this protocol is to build strength in a steady and more importantly easy fashion.

Heavy Days:
DL – Ramp to 1x5x5RM, 2-3x5x80% top weight – working up to a top set of 5
Press – Ramp to 1x5x5RM, 2-3x5x80% top weight – working up to a top set of 5
Squat  – Ramp to 1x5x5RM, 2-3x5x80% top weight – working up to a top set of 5

Medium Days: Based on 85% of 5RM from heavy day – adjust +/-:5% on feel for the day
DL – 2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5 -Rest 30-60 sec between 2-3-5, then 3-5min each wave
Press – 2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5 -Rest 30-60 sec between 2-3-5, then 3-5min each wave
Squat  – 2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5,2,3,5 -Rest 30-60 sec between 2-3-5, then 3-5min each wave

Light Days: Based on 85% of 5RM from heavy day – adjust +/-:5% on feel for the day
DL – 6×6, rest 2-4min between sets
Press – 6×6, rest 2-4min between sets
Squat  – 6×6, rest 2-4min between sets

*Accessory work: 1 to supplement DL/Press, 2 Lifts to supplement Squat – 2-3×8-12reps

** You can use any DL/P/SQ variations you like on this protocol, once the cycle starts
again choose a different variation, Example: Cycle 1 = FS, Cycle 2 = HBBS, Cycle 3 = LBBS

*** The +/- 5% allows you to add load when you feel strong, use this as a guide to progress, if you can hit two weeks of +5% then that is the new working weight, the -5% serves as a nice deload if needed, however the way this is set it you shouldn’t need it too often meaning the small increases in +5% based on the % of 5RM will have you by the end of the cycle potentially working with what was your old 5RM as new working weights.

Here is the basic set up of days for a full cycle, it’s roughly 13 weeks, as the cycle repeats your can choose on the Monday (when Heavy DL/Press comes back around) to retest your 5RM on all three lifts, then take the rest of the week off before starting  new cycle with your new variations.:

Monday: Heavy – DL/Press
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Light – Squat
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Light – DL/Press
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Medium – Squat
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Medium – DL/Press
Sunday: Off
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Heavy – Squat
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: Light – DL/Press
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Light – Squat
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Heavy – DL/Press
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Medium – Squat
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Light – DL/Press
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Light – Squat
Sunday: Off
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Medium – DL/Press
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: Heavy – Squat
Saturday: Off
Sunday:  Off
Monday: Light – DL/Press
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Light – Squat
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Heavy – DL/Press
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Medium – Squat
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Light – DL/Press
Sunday: Off
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Light – Squat
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: Medium – DL/Press
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Heavy – Squat
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Light – DL/Press
Friday: Off
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Light – Squat
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Off
Wednesday: Medium – DL/Press
Thursday: Off
Friday: Off
Saturday: Medium – Squat
Sunday: Off
Monday: Off
Tuesday: Light – DL/Press
Wednesday: Off
Thursday: Off
Friday: Light – Squat
Saturday: Off
Sunday: Off
Monday: Heavy DL/Press – This would be the start of a new cycle.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Playing with Time

After writing a small piece on Gains Central the idea of ‘Timed Sets’ got touched on.
 
Given these are great little tools for giving people a variable shock and devotion from the norm they’re worth sharing here too.
 
As the name suggests you’re performing a set based on a length of time and not just a number of reps.
 
These are great for 3 reasons:
 
– Overload
– Mental Toughness
– Easy to Program
 
Here is an example of how you might utilise a timed set.
 
A1 – Squat x2min x4 sets
 
Pretty simple right?
 
Now you don’t need to have the time being a static thing, it can change set to set if required, this can allow for harder sets first or hard-easy sets.
 
A1 Squat –
Set 1 x120sec
Set 2 x90sec
Set 3 x60sec
Set 4 x30sec
 
Alternatively
 
A1 Squat –
Set 1 x30Sec
Set 2 x120sec
Set 3 x60sec
Set 4 x90sec
 
Honestly these are very enjoyable and also great for people who are short on time in their training because it will allow for accurate planning so that an effective session can be squeezed into very little spare time.
 
How long you decide to have the time of each set can be to your discretion, you might even choose to do 5min of non-stop squatting, tough yet 2 sets of that will be a good session for the day.
 
Here are two sessions I’ve personally alternated in the past when time has been tight, please be aware there was no specific warm up and I’d often use the first timed set as the warm up.
 
Session 1 – Kettlebells
A1 – Clean & Press x2min x3sets
B1 – Swings x5min x2sets
60 seconds rest
 
Session 2 –
A1 – Inverted Rows* x 2min x3sets
B1 – Squats** x5min x2set
60 seconds rest***
 
*Or renegade rows, or pull ups depending on gym kit
**Or kettlbell, barbell, sandbag, depending on gym kit
***Variable depending on what time I had, most session ended up being 20-25min only.
 
Very minimalistic, very effective.
 
If you’ve never tried timed sets before add them in as accessory work on smaller isolation lifts first because they catch a lot of people out because they’re easier on paper than they are in reality.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Old Texts, New Findings

Digging through some older writings of Russian powerlifters has been quite interesting of late. 

Apart from the magic numbers that seem to be floating around and the common use of certain well known set/rep protocols there is pattern in the way they train. 

Most claim to follow this pattern:

  • Press heavy every 3-5 days
  • Squat heavy every  5-7 days
  • DL heavy every 10-14 days  

A good general rule, yet as they got more experienced they seemed less focused on the heavy element and more on building up the medium/light numbers and volume, that was very fascinating to me. 

The really interesting part is how they set up a training week because it’s clear that some could train any day required, whereas others still had full times jobs and as such had to stick to specific days of the week, as such this gave some dramatically different looking programs they yet still followed the same basic principles.

The expression of Light-Medium-Heavy is often in reference to their efforts, as opposed to just pure load not he bar, however you can rest assured the loads were also hefty. 

Example: Rotating days 

Monday – Press (medium) & Squat (Heavy)

Thursday – Deadlift (Light)

Sunday – Press (light) & Squat (Light)

Wednesday – Deadlift (Light)

Saturday – Press (Heavy) & Squat (Medium)

Tuesday – Deadlift (Heavy)

Friday – Press (Light) & Squat (Light)

Monday – Deadlift (Light)

Thursday – Press (Medium) & Squat (Heavy)

Sunday – Deadlift (Light)

Wednesday – Press (Heavy) & Squat (Light)

Saturday – Deadlift (Heavy)

Tuesday – Press (Light) & Squat (Medium)

Friday – Deadlift (Light)

Monday: Potential lift variation change, protocol change or repeat of previous. 

You can see they lift every 3 days, alternating Press & Squat sessions with Deadlift Sessions, some would choose to also press on the DL day as well however that would often be light or a special variation press to target weak/sticking points from what I read. 

Leaving 6-9days between heavy pressing and more between heavy squats and DL seemed counterintuitive at first to making progress, yet it worked. 

Looking at the older lifting protocols these people followed was truly a worthy habit hole to go down. 

**Please note that light or even medium to these people in say pressing was 400lbs, which to us mere mortals isn’t light at all**

For those that had set days, such as 2-3 sessions per week this was what it tended to look like:

Monday – Deadlift (rotating H-L)

Thursday – Press & Squat  (Rotating H-L-M)

Saturday –  Press & Squat & RDL/Stiff leg variation (mostly L-M)

A lot also added 2-3 accessory lifts for weak points and lagging areas, this seemed to be a lot of Lats, Tricpes, Hamstrings, Glutes & Lower Back. 

Some added in additional shoulder pressing however as it wasn’t a given necessity for comp many would do it in the off season unless they specifically responded very well to it on a personal level. 

Now after reading their loading parameters and seeing their overall strength levels the above didn’t seem too odd to me, yet reading some journal notes it seemed many trained this way from day dot, just because that’s what the ‘strong comrades’ did, and that is food for thought. 

Many got into the pattern/routine of people much stronger than they where, and while the frequency may go against current science for optimal, many stuck with it one the long haul and seems dot make great progress, yet these days many would argue they shouldn’t have, yet, they did. 

I can’t tell you why. 

Perhaps they were able to focus more on RFD in a session, of maximal contraction each rep, utilise heavier loads and push the envelope a tad more due to the extra rest. Hell they may have been on all the PED’s from the start (doubtful though), there are many potential extra factors, however one thing that seems clear is this; they did less better and made it work. 

There were also several notes regarding people who were tempted to do extra training (boxing, wrestling etc) and told not to as it owed effect their recovery, so it is worth remembering that the people chose to do only PL.

Limiting their other activities meant they worked when they had to, and at what we may predict was a high effort, whereas these days we add in a lot of extra training/stress, meaning that while we can keep it all up, the total accumulation of volume still takes a toll  because we can only adapt from what we can revere from and if there is more to recovery from then the adaptations il be minimal due to the massive amount of resources used by our body to return us to our baseline from all that training/stress. 

***Allostatic load! been trying to think of that term since posting this as it disappeared from my mind the second I went to write it down. It would have been in the above in this sort of form – ‘We have to be careful not to overshoot the hermetic effect and our total amount of necessary allostatic load.’ – Been bugging me all morning that has.

Certainly worth more digging into. 

How much training do you do, and when did you find that doing more started getting you less?

Enjoy, 

Ross 

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Dial in, and die.

Or is it dice now?

Once upon a time die was considered the singular term and dice was plural, however I think now it might just be dice for both singular and plural.

Anyway, this nifty little tool can provide some great training sessions.

All you need to is have one (you can use two, or you just roll one multiple times like a logical person would).

^^ Personally I quite like having two though as there’s nothing better than rolling two of them and getting a double 6.

If you are a person who needs structure yet finds it hard to stick to said structure then this will be a great tool for you.

Simply follow the below:

Set up 6 sessions for each of numbers on the dice.

Example:
1 – Clean & Push Press > Pull Up: Super Set
2 – Sprints (any kit)
3 – Deadlift > Kettlebell Swing >Farmers Walk> Floor Press: Giant-set
4 – Slams (any kit – think ropes, med balls, sand bags, etc)
5 – Squats
6 – Front Squat > Squat > Lunge: Ti-set

Next for the sets and reps, as an example.

On the lifting rolls form the above:
First roll (one dice) = reps you will do (1-6)
Second roll (two dice) = sets you will do (2-12)

That’s it, you may get a very easy day, or a very hard one, these don’t include warm ups though.

On the CV option from above:
First roll (one dice) = seconds of work (10-60 seconds)
Second roll (one dice) = seconds of rest (10-60 seconds)
Third roll (two dice) = total amount of rounds (2-12)

Personally I’d only preform one of the example sessions, even if it ended up being something like this:

Squats – 2 sets of 1 rep.

See it as a gift for a low volume session, the temptation would be to avoid doing more because when I’ve prescribed this in the past people have thought they’ve known better and make what would have been a very easy session stupidly hard by doing extra because of ego, then when the dice cast gave them a hard session they couldn’t perform.

Poor performance apparently happens to 1 in 5 you know.

Don’t give in to your ego, train once per day, if you have an easy session today, then train again tomorrow, if that is again super easy, train the day after that as well and keep repeating this until you get a session that takes a lot of effort and then you HAVE to rest for one or two days.

It’s a nice was to have some structure and yet still a good amount of variety because you don’t know what you will roll (unless the dice are weighted), so you could end upsetting the same session a couple of times in a row, unlikely however it might happen.

As you can see the above is super easy to plan/program.

My main advice for you would be this though; have 4 numbers with things you don’t do often and really need to be doing more of, and two that you like doing, this sill help your overall progress because we get better by doing the things we need to do (or don’t do), not what we want to do.

So go grab a die, or dice and have some fun.

Enjoy,
Ross

P.S – if you’re really sadistic you can use D&D dice.

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One move to almost rule them all

The clean & press (push press/jerk) is a great movement.

Whether you do it with a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, odd objects or people, it yields some great results.

As far as looking for a movement that covers everything, this is pretty damn close to being perfect.

I say close to because you can’t get maximal speed/power like you could with a snatch, nor the raw pressing strength like that of a bench press, or even the leg strength from a squat, you get the idea.

That being said, it’s still epic.

If you have any of these in your list of goals:

– Strength
– Increase LBM
– Lose Fat
– Increase Athleticism
– Look Cool

Then this is a movement you should be doing in abundance.

These days we have a lot of choice when it comes to training, and while this is great it’s also a problem because the level of results based on the average gym goer have gone down over the years.

Having too many options is the devil.

Back in an almost forgotten time when I would teach classes (well, small groups), the training would be simple, so much so that some used to complain and not come back.

I didn’t miss them, they didn’t have faith int he process and just wanted to have their bis appealed to and their ego stroked.

One thing with training is often the most effective stuff (once you’re past the point of beginner gains) is often a little dull and very repetitive.

To add in all the fancy and flamboyant stuff requires skill.

Not skill in coaching, although that is a necessity in my eyes, it requires skill from the participants in said training because if they can’t keep up then they need to take a step back and start at a level appropriate for them, less the don’t progress.

Anyone who’s worked with large groups will be able to give you lists of what works well and what requires some extra time/attention.

Anywho, back to the C&P.

Here is how you might apply this glorious movement to a three day per week training protocol.

This would yield Fat Loss as the primary function, LBM would be secondary and Strength as a by product.

All C/P variations done with a bar.

Day 1 –
W/U – Kettlebell Swing x15min (5/15 interval)
A1 – Clean & P/P x5-3-2-5-3-2-5-3-2
B1 – Front Squat x10-8-6-8-10
C/D – Stretching

Day 2 –
W/U – Bear Complex 3-5reps x15min (vary load as needed)
A1 – Clean & Press x1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10
A2 – Bent Over Row or Pull Up x6-8
C/D – Stretching

Day 3 –
W/U – Loaded Carry (hug & shoulder, alternate) 20m x15min
A1 – Clean & Jerk x3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1-3-2-1
B1 – Floor Press x4-6×4-6
C/D – Stretching

Rest periods can be kept int he 60-120second mark after each wave, rest only long enough to change the weights int he way or briefly if you are going to keep the load static in a wave.

Example:

– 5 > add load, 3 > add load, 2 > add load > rest 120sec
– 5 > 20sec, 3 > 20 sec, 2 > 20sec > add load and rest 90sec

You get the idea.

This is one example, there are many more.

Enjoy,
Ross

P.S –

There are endless videos on how to do this, here is one decent one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcCGLoNqN2U

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Test Your Might

“If you’re not assessing you’re guessing.” – various strength coaches
 
You may have heard these words before, but now I’m going to show you what they really mean.
 
– Finding gaps/holes in people fitness
 
Beware though, this will leave a fair few in a potential state of dismay because they’ve over estimated their abilities and now feel stupid.
 
Well, men will feel stupid and then justify why and make up 1000 excuses.
 
Ladies on the other hand will hold themselves back, which makes them look equally as stupid as the gents who try to reenact feats from their teens.
 
The funny things with testing is that it’s not mean to upset.
 
It’s merely a set of objective test to help gain an understanding of a persons current level of fitness.
 
***Tests can vary based on the goal or discipline***
 
It’s also worth remembering that a test only gives a piece of the puzzle, this is where we have the need for ongoing assessment.
 
What tests/assessments you choose to do will vary base don the context in which they’re required for.
 
As such there are no ‘perfect’ tests.
 
Yet there are still some that yield some great insight in to what people might be lacking in a vernal strength/ability sense.
 
Here are three of my favourite ones that people can’t hide form.
 
1 – Pull Up 1/2/3/4
 
Grab a bar (any grip, however DOH is my preferred).
 
Hang for 30 seconds, do 1 pull up.
Hang for 30 seconds, do 2 pull ups.
Hang for 30 seconds, do 3 pull ups.
Hang for 30 seconds, do 4 pull ups.
 
Come down safely. The feeing in your hands will return shortly.
 
Completing all 10 reps means a person will have more than enough upper body strength to do pretty much everything, if they can’t hang for the first 30 seconds then the’ve got work to do.
 
*Advanced Variation – there isn’t one, this is tough enough 😂
 
2 – Deadlift Max
 
Perform single deadlifts (any variation with a straight bar is acceptable).
 
Increase weight until speed is lost, this is safer than going until form starts to lose its tightness.
 
Bw on the bar is okay.
1.5xBw is decent.
2xBw is more than enough for people to be awesome.
2.5xBw+ well, that’s just impressive.
 
*Advanced variation – how much can they pick up from the floor and put overhead in a strict press fashion.
 
**BW on the bar is where most men ideally want to be, ladies 3/4bw, if either exceeds this then applaud because it’s well deserved.
 
3 – Squat & Hold
 
Perform a full ROM squat (hip crease below knee line).
 
Sit here while maintaining good posture, this is a mobility test.
 
30seconds is minimum required for health.
60sec is decent.
2min is very impressive.
4min+ guess they’ve got no need for chairs any more.
 
*Advanced variation – Overhead Squat. Being able to perform this movement is a good standard for many people to aim for.
 
The tests above are nothing spectacular, they’re merely three tools I’ve used over the years that have always provided a good baseline understanding of a persons level.
 
If someone maxes out all of them their training will be most enjoyable to program.
 
When we see gaps in one or more of the above that means their training will be set up to address those first.
 
The above is also most optima for the AVERAGE PERSON.
 
Yep, an average Joe or Jane that can do well in all of these will often have solid posture/strength, good body composition and move well.
 
Several things many people desire.
 
If you are training an athlete or someone for a specific goal then you may have specific tests you need to utilise.
 
You should investigate this thoroughly.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Why let your body rot?

“Life is to be lived. A nobel saying, yet life is also suffering and endless struggle. To life a full life you must learn to survive, become resilient and above all else, be human.”
 
It’s fair to say some start off with a better hand than others.
 
Same goes for athletic attributes, some people are just better than you from day one due to having a better pay out in the genetic lottery.
 
If that offends you because you feel no one is better than anyone else then you’re just being naive.
 
Talking objectively life just isn’t fair, it is what is it.
 
Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t progress and really carve something meaningful out of what stone you have to work with.
 
Just because one master sculpture has marble to work with that doesn’t mean they will create a masterpiece, it just means they’ve got better raw materials.
 
Same goes for you in your life.
 
Relating it to fitness, you have your body, now you can bitch and moan about how it’s not as good as someone else’s and even use that as an excuse to make little to no progress, I personally won’t begrudge you that, however while I will accept that choice I won’t respect it because you can do better.
 
We can all do better, or at least strive to.
 
You don’t need to be a world champion, however you do need to be better than you currently are.
 
Not in thought or feeling but in practice.
 
Are you getting better year to year, or are you letting life grind you into a broken mess of injury, illness and disease?
 
20-30min per day, that’s all you need to become anti-fragile.
 
If you claim not to have that time I will call bullshit it every time because you’re just being lazy due to your own physical wellness not being a priority.
 
Don’t do it to yourself, please.
 
Life is tough enough as it is, the least you can do is look after your body, in fact below is a little something to consider, it’s a example of 20-30min of activity for an entire week (doesn’t mean you need to do all 7 days, I just felt like giving you 7).
 
All of the below will be done for 20-30min.
 
Day 1 – Kettlebell Swings (single or double arm)
Day 2 – Mobility Work (yoga flows etc)
Day 3 – Clean & Press (any object of a decent load)
Day 4 – Skipping, or some conditioning work
Day 5 – Pull Ups or Climbing
Day 6 – Loaded Carries (any object of a decent load)
Day 7 – Mobility Work (yoga flows etc)
 
You’d be amazed at how the above can improve you life.
 
Of course you don’t need to do any of the above, it’s just the wish of a foolish old man who’s seen too many people end up in a shit physical state due to neglect that you’d avoid this unfortunate outcome.
 
The choice in the end is ultimately yours.
 
Remember, “Grow strong, not old.”
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Traning vs Testing

Are you training or testing when you’re in the gym?
 
Hitting the gym is a ‘healthy’ habit of many these days.
 
While shifting some iron is all good, as is spamming out a 10k, consistently trying to one-up them can soon become problematic.
 
A common training trap to fall in to is the one of constantly testing your limits rather than building/increasing them.
 
This happens in part due to the ego we all have.
 
After all, once you start getting a name for yourself it becomes easy to link your very soul to that thing you do and to drop off some time on a 10k to allow recovery or perhaps run less total distance freaks people out.
 
Same goes for lifters, they end up using the same weights as they don’t want people looking down on them.
 
Insecurity really does become exacerbated in the gym.
 
Taking the time to step back and allow yourself to actually progress can be the hardest lesson to learn.
 
Cycling training loads, playing with total volume, deliberately programming to allow progress can be the hardest lesson for many to learn.
 
I’ve spent years trying to reach people in the right way for them.
 
Some have a lightbulb moment, others dig their heels in.
 
Most have the attitude of – ‘well a little more won’t hurt’.
 
Dear friends, when was the last time you made decent progress?
 
Answer this to yourself honestly.
 
Cut all the bullshit and excuses that you may dream up and really assess the place you’re in and compare it to say 5 years ago, have you really progressed or not?
 
If the latter is the answer then that may come from the fact you’ve been testing yourself too much, instead of building.
 
I speak from experience on this one.
 
Don’t waste years of your life going nowhere.
 
You’re not that important, no one cares if you go in and run 5k instead of 10, or press the 30kg dumbbells for sets of 12 instead of the 40’s.
 
Only your ego cares about such trivial things.
 
Don’t become a slave to it. Don’t succumb to the allure of constantly testing your body, train it to be better, train it to progress.
 
By all means plan in a test perhaps once or twice per year, just don’t do it every session.
 
Any questions please leave them below.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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You can do a lot with one plate

Cheeky Challenge that came up in discussion last night:
 
Load a barbell with 1 plate (20 or 25kg), pick one movement and proceed to repeat it for 45min (use a timer).
 
Tally up your total reps, and you can thank me for the DOMS later.
 
I know what some of you may be thinking.
 
“1 plate will be too light on some movements and too heavy on others.”
 
Just so you know, you are 100% correct, especially for strong/advanced lifters.
 
However, for the average gym participant, this provides ample difficulty 🤗
 
Here are a couple of my favourites –
 
– Squat (any variation, FS, OHS are brutal though)
– Floor Press, Push Press, Push Jerk
– Strict Press (if possible)
– Bent-Over Row
– Upright Row
– Power Clean or Power Snatch
– RDL, Stiff Leg DL on Box and Suitcase DL
– Barbell Curl (if you’re a monster)
 
You get the idea.
 
The beauty of this is found in its simplicity.
 
Personally, I would also say that if you feel the need then in the last 15min (if you wish to train for 60min) you can do some isolation work on minor muscles, or you can just go home.
 
The common resistance to this style of lifting meets is that of “Won’t it be boring?”.
 
Usually said by the same people who watch things like Love Island, thus my answer is this; maybe, you’ll just have to try it and find out.
 
An alternative option I quite enjoy, still loading up one plate, is to pick two movements and pair them in a classic antagonist super-set.
 
^^ This gets an epic pump going and feels great.
 
One thing to remember guys is that this is not a magic program or something that will revolutionise training because it’s not meant for that.
 
It is meant to strip away your bullshit and force you to do some good old fashion work.
 
(High work capacity/density)
 
Unless you’re a professional lifter it’s worth remembering that a key element in training is to make it fun, next is to not take it too seriously and thirdly, it’s largely arbitrary.
 
The love of training runs deep in me, yet I am under no illusion that unless you get paid to lift it’s a hobby and nothing more.
 
By all means, enjoy it, have some focus, drive and goals in mind just don’t let them take over your life. Doing so will lead to anxiety and one clue to this is a destination in the upper abdomen with excess fat storage in the lower.
 
Seriously, look at people who take training way too seriously and you’ll see it in all of them.
 
They’re lean, muscular, fit and yet seem a little bloated and have that small fat pocket they just can’t seem to shift.
 
^^ A topic for another day because I’ve waffled.
 
Yea, try the 1 plate challenge, maybe for say 50 sessions.
 
Why 50?
 
Why not 😂
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Which is better for progress?

– Training until momentary muscular failure

– Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank and doing more sets

– Not going anywhere near failure staying at <% set efforts

*Progress typically being strength, hypertrophy, performance related for the context of this post and those who asked.

In truth they’re all viable, in fact you’d probably do well to cycle through phases of doing each in a periodised fashion or you could link them all together in a holistic approach.

Honestly at the stage of lifting most people are at they just need to get their reps in for the most part.

Also before you say it might be dangerous that is only if form is bad, if for is good there’s no real issue.

Let us look at each of the above and see who we can optimally use them.

– Training until momentary muscular failure –

A lot of solid research has been conducted based on the idea that it’s the last few reps (we’ll say the last 2-5) that really give you that much needed hit of adaptive stimulus to grow and every prior rep was just there.

^^ This is relevant for each method in this post.

Now some people would then be lead to think that doing lower rep set would bypass this and go straight to the stimulus.

Fair enough, however it doesn’t work like that.

The above is based on the accumulation of fatigue in the formative reps (depletion of energy system reserves etc) and depending on the rep ranges you use will then link in to the gains you get.

6-20 being said as optimal for hypertrophy.

^^ You can use compound movements however I’d say stick with lifts that have a lower potential for injury until you’re what the books consider an experienced lifter (2 years of solid lifting 3+ times per week).

It’s easier to get close to that momentary failure being meaningful with reps at 8+ I’ve found, less while personally I enjoy is just not viable for people who are not experienced lifters.

While finding the right weight and reps can be a bit of a tricky element (downside), the massive benefit is that you’ll only need a few sets per movement (upside).

Next time you train try this: 3-4 x fail on accessory lifts.

– Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank (RPE work) –

Favoured by many a lifter and great for all movement be those compound, supplementary or isolation.

In short yo’d be going to the point where you feel a bit of a grind beginning to happen. It is at this point over time you’ll learn that you’ve only got 1-2 reps left.

One problem with this though is that people will stop short.

They think they’ve got 1-2 reps left when in reality it’s more like 6-10.

Yes I’m being serious.

The danger here is that people will be leaving gains on the table because for lack of a better term they’re being a little bit soft.

As such this is where in the beginner days having them utilise the ‘going until failure’ is useful (provided they have good form) because they won’t be lifting that heavy so it will be more viable.

Once they’ve learned their limits using more weight and stopping short of failure becomes useful because it then allows more total volume as going to failure with heavier loads causes more overall damage and need more recovery time.

I’m not sorry to say that heavy isn’t relative, heavy is heavy.

Regardless of if you personally feel you lifting say 70kg x5 is the same as someone lifting 250kg x5 it’s not, apples & oranges as they say.

Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank is a great way for the more experience and stronger people to progress because they can add more total volume and build up fatigue over multiple sets.

It means that say 4 of your 6 sets might be the ones that are just there and the last two sets that have reps that are money makers.

^^ All of this is linked in to RPE (rate of perceived exertion), so the next time you train after each set write down on a scale of 1-10 how hard the set was, most of yours will want to be 8/9 on the scale (look up Reactive Training Systems – Mike Tuscherer).

That bring us to the last one.

-Not going anywhere near failure staying at <% set efforts-

A Russian weightlifting favourite because I do love the Russians.

This is a great method however it requires people to have been hitting some solid progress for a few years as it will be largely based on low reps and endless sets.

So what is set effort precisely?

Put simply, say your 6RM (rep max) is 100kg meaning you can do 1 set of 6 at 100kg and no more, yet you want to, how can this be done?

Easy, 6RM is 100% set effort, so if you work at 50% efforts you’d be doing sets of 3 reps.

This means you might be able to do 3,4,5,6, or perhaps 20 sets of 3 with your 6RM as opposed to just one set of 6 with your 6RM.

Make sense?

An epic way to train that will leave you feeling fresh at the end of most if not all of your sessions and that’s the dangerous part.

People chase fatigue so as valuable as this method is it doesn’t hit their emotional/cognitive bias and as such they’d end up doing more and burning out.

You’d also have to be well versed in what is known as CAT (compensatory acceleration training) – you lift each rep with everything you’ve got, basically.

*Using CAT on your sets of 3 you’d go until you feel speed of reps is lost, which could be as mentioned above, 3 sets or 23 sets. When speed is lost it means you’ve hit your stills for the day, even if you don’t feel fatigued you are, trust me.

It is this that would provide the stimulus we’ve touched on above.

^^ Fred Hatfield is the man to look up for CAT.

So, which is best?

Based on how long you’ve been lifting:

<2 years: Training until momentary muscular failure

2-4 years: Leaving 1-2 reps in the tank and doing more sets

4 years +: Not going anywhere near failure staying at <% set efforts

Not everyone will like this answer and while for some rare exceptions it’s the right answer for the average person.

If like me you’re just an average person then don’t fear doing the simple things.

These days we live in an age where everyone is trying to keep up with everyone else and unless you’re doing HIIT, or some sort of ‘Ultra-Mega-Oblivion Set’ you’re some kind of lesser human.

Yea that’s complete bollocks.

It’s only the highly insecure that feel the need to make their training look more complicated or fancier than is it.

Remember this.

Enjoy,
Ross

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