Tag Archives: strength

Old & Effective

We humans do like to overcomplicate things.

In my experience it’s because of these reasons:

– Complexity carries the idea of it being ‘better’
– It provides the perfect excuse to fail

Sometimes stripping things back to a simple form can yield far more results than people would like.

Yes, getting better results in whatever goal isn’t what everyone wants.

Many like pretending, playing at training all so that they can gain some desired attention and also any pandering they need.

If this is you, fair enough.

However if you’re someone who wants to move forwards physically, mentally and in life then wha tis written below will take away the stress of deciding upon a training protocol.

This works for the larger majority of people.

While it’s not perfect, because nothing ever is, the key point is this – it works provided you do.

The Protocol – Heavy Set & Back Off

Work to a heavy set of the following:

Weeks 1-3: 10 reps
Weeks 4-6: 8 reps
Weeks 7-9: 6 reps

Take 80% of the top weight for the day, hit these back-off rep numbers in as few sets as possible:

Weeks 1-3: 50 reps
Weeks 4-6: 40 reps
Weeks 7-9: 30 reps

Perform this on one or two main lifts for the day.

For accessory work your aim for all weeks is as follows:

– 50 reps total in 3 sets or less.

Here is an example day:

A1 – RDL x10 > Back Off – 80% x50 total reps
B1 – Bent Over Row x50 reps
C1 – Curl x50 reps

The goal for each week of the three week wave is to either repeat the same numbers with top set being easier and the back ff reps taking less sets (or less rest, etc).

Over time you may choose to change the top set rep choice and the amount of back off reps, that’s cool because the overall ethos of the protocol is this –

Work to a heavy set, then take weight of and do reps.

Simple, effective, brilliant.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Pearls from Pondering

Given our shared love for training & learning.

I’m curious to know how you’ve taken the advise/wisdom of the older iron athletes (or anyone) from even as early back as say Eugene Sandow.

What you may say have been your top 3-5 pearls of wisdom that shaped your current training.

Here are the 5 that came to my mind as I wrote this.

1 – Strength Standards, McRoberts 300/400/500

Stumbled across that after I’d already had my own standards of wanting to hit 2xbw bench and 3xBW squat/DL.

Luckily the numbers weren’t that far off what he suggested (hit the all BW multipliers weighting 70kg, all in the same meet, it killed me).

In addition to the 300/400/500 I personally added these in too: 100/200 – 100lbs on a pull up, 200lbs press, for no other reason that it made the numbers look nice to my brain 😂

2 – Two Movement Training, Kono

This came from reading and listening to bits from Tommy Kono about how he trained while insisted in the service.

He often did two movements per session, perhaps a clean to front squats and the presses behind the neck one session, a snatch variation and some form of other pull in the next.

Rep/set wise I want to say it was something along the lines of 8×2-3 with perhaps also 2-4 sets of 8-10, however my mind has gone a tad blank on that so I’ll have to check.

Even in doing limited work so he still managed to claim multiple WL titles, this left a truly deep impression on my young mind at the time, because all I’d known before was to ’embrace the suck’ and just outwork everyone else.

Barry Ross also took a similar approach with is sprinters.

3 – Train on a Calm Heart, Coan

Arguably the histories most decorated power lifter, Ed Coan, said he’d often train while sign quite calm and simply go in and hit is numbers that he’d reversed engineered from he day he wished to peak on.

This way on meet day when he did get amped up the extra psych would mean the lift was hit easily or more was in the tank.

Rickson Gracie also had a similar view on keeping a calm heart for more optimal performance.

Personally I found once really adopting this in my early 20’s it yielded massive improvements in recoverability and a good kick to the ego getting it in check.

4 – Training is for Building Strength, Various

Many a strong lifter will speak of the truism that the gym is meant for building strength instead of testing it.

I couldn’t say if this was Andy Bolton, Dave Tate, Louis Simmons, Mike Boyle or someone else that I first heard this from, all I know is it struck a cord.

At the time the aim was to ‘win’ the training session.

This was foolish and lead nowhere good, and a lot try to do the same because they want to be that big fish in a small pond, yet no one really cares what is lifted in the gym, it’s what you do in comp (whichever endeavour you compete in) that really leaves an impression.

True enough a session requires a solid effort.

Yet constantly trying to beat everyone else in training just leads to stagnation in my experience.

5 – No Story is not Worth Hearing, Hewley

This wasn’t from a lifter, it was from a PSP game called Crisis Core, yet it really hit home.

We can be quick to dismiss people and what they may have to say when our views don’t align or our ego gets flared up.

Much like all the people that will scoff at abbreviated training, they might be missing out on a little gem of information that could change their life.

Same goes for those who live and breath the minimalistic approach, they’re quick to discount those who follow high volume or a different tome, this is again naive because how can we really make a decent decision/judgement on something if we’re not willing to listen and out our ego to one side.

Anyway, I’ve rambled.

What pearls of wisdom have shaped your lifting & perhaps even life philosophies?

It’d be great to hear them.

Enjoy,
Ross

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Posterior Power Up

Fancy a 30day challenge for your posterior chain?

Even if you don’t you’ll find one below anyway.

You’ll be doing 300 reps per day of the following:

Fast – Swings (variations), Snatches, Cleans (kettlebell)
Slow – Pull Ups, Rows, Curls – any variation of all of these
Flow – Reverse Flies, Face Pulls, Tricep Work (variations)

This means 100 total reps in each section.

One reason for the offering of different movement options is so that you can avoid overworking one specific thing.

The idea is to accumulate a lot of work for that lagging rear aspect of your body, which sadly is the case for a lot of people.

Here is a three day example:

Day 1 – Single Arm Swings, Pull Ups, Face Pulls
Day 2 – Snatches, Rows, Reverse Flies
Day 3 – Swings, Curls, Tricep Banded Pulldown

You may then choose to repeat these three 9 more times, or continue to vary things up.

Personally the option would be to stick with the above and try to improve on each session when it comes back around as this will have a higher chance of progression than constantly varying things up.

You’ll find the above can be done in less than 30min.

Thus making it suitable for many who have other training they wish to do (all be it at a recused volume).

Enjoy,
Ross

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Free Training

Minimalistic P/P/L Protocol
 
Morning All,
 
This popped into my mind this morning so I felt it worth sharing, you’ll have three options, you can use one, all three or cycle them, choice is yours.
 
Weekly cycle options:
 
Two Day Week – Monday/Thursday
Three Day Week – Monday/Thursday/Saturday
Four Day week – Monday/Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday
 
Daily = use only Protocol 1
 
Protocol 1 –
 
Pull Day – Kettlebell Snatch
Push Day – Push Press
Leg Day – Front Squat
 
Reps – 10 sets – 10 (wk1), 8 (wk2), 6 (wk3)
 
Protocol 2 –
 
Pull Day – Kettlebell Snatch, Deadlift
Push Day – Push Press, Floor Press
Leg Day – Front Squat, Hack Squat
 
1st movement reps are as previous.
 
2nd movement reps: – 4 sets – 12 (wk1), 10 (wk2), 8 (wk3)
 
Protocol 3 –
 
Pull Day – Kettlebell Snatch, Deadlift, Pull Up
Push Day – Push Press, Floor Press, Dip
Leg Day – Front Squat, Hack Squat, RDL
 
Previous movements reps as above.
 
3rd movement reps: 2-3 sets – to failure each week
 
A no frills approach to coming all your bases.
 
In your warm up some movement flows & loaded carries would do well.
 
Additionally 100 reps of each of these: banded face pulls, pull apart, lat pull downs and hip thrusts/pull throughs (2×50, or 4×25, etc) will do you the world of good.
 
Fr you cool down stretches/trigger point work will be needs specific on problem areas for yourself and also generally around the areas worked for the day.
 
There is nothing fancy about this, it’s so simple it’s complicated.
 
You aim to add weight where you can.
 
If you can’t add weight then slow down the tempo, or add pauses, or decrease rest 💪
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Jedi or Sith, which would you rather be?

Yep, it’s Star Wars day.
 
The classic story based on the heroes journey, it’s one we all love, well, all the cool people love anyway.
 
Looking back at the films and how they’ve changed in regards to the style of fighting and level of physicality required is quite interesting.
 
The original trilogy 4-5-6, had a very Arthurian feel.
 
It seemed as it their lightsabers were as heavy as they were powerful, any extended dynamic movements were kept to a minimum.
 
Then came the prequels 1-2-3, far more crouching tiger.
 
Super dynamic and resembling something skin to Wushu and various Chinese styles of fighting with there movements and grace, it made for quite the spectacle, especially when Darth Maul revealed a double bladed lightsaber.
 
Finally the saga ended as 7-8-9 finally got released, a mix of the two from above in terms of style, strong yet graceful, however the lightsaber duels wherever much emotional statements and conversations.
 
Looking at the actors their physical conditioning was on an entirely different level.
 
What can we learn from this?
 
1 – Being a lightsaber wielding badass is cool
2 – Skill needs practice, daily practice
3 – We need strength and athleticism to work together
4 – The body moves best as one piece
5 – Being leaner will give you a fighting change of the above
 
All of the above can be done outside of the gym, perhaps even at home where a large amount of the populous currently reside.
 
Start working on your movement capabilities, your overall GPP, and add in weight training that is useful or at least has a deeper purpose, that is if performance and being able to do things is one of your goals.
 
A 5 day training week may look like this:
 
Day 1 – Movement Practice – Tumbling, Jumping, Falling
Day 2 – Strength Training (barbell, etc)
Day 3 – Movement Practice – Flows, Breathing, ROM
Day 4 – Off
Day 5 – Strength Training (kettlebell, etc)
Day 6 – Movement Practice – Crawling, Climbing, Patterns
Day 7 – Off
 
Some would call the above ‘functional training’, however the funny thing about functional training is that it can be whatever you want it to be.
 
Using the above template can certainly give you the physical attributes of a Golden Age Force Wielder, the force will take some more time to master.
 
May the 4th be with you.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Dan John’s Genius

Challenges, fancy trying some?
 
Training for the most part is about going in, hitting your reps, miles or specified needs.
 
Sadly this is the element people won’t talk about because it’s boring, it’s also what a lot of people avoid which is why they don’t ever get anywhere.
 
Since we’re not getting out of this period of illation anytime soon here are 5 challenges for you to do at home (1 for each month we will still be in UK Lockdown).
 
Now these are all about volume and based off of the challenge that will take the number one spot because to be honest it’s a great challenge.
 
1 – 10,000 Swings (Dan John)
 
A brilliant challenge that is a stand alone program of 20 total sessions across a month.
 
It breaks down to 500 swings a day (how you choose to hit that is up to you).
 
Dan also recommends adding in a strength movement in either ladder format (e.g – 1,2,3,1,2,3 etc) or something I’ve done that works is a simple 2-5 reps of a strength movement rotating Push/Pull/Squat.
 
Here is a clip from the man himself:
 
 
Keeping this in mind, I’ve been playing with the idea of running it for different movements.
 
Of course a lot of thought has gone into what would work and how, this is what structure I’d suggest:
 
A1 – Challenge
A2 – Supplementary Movement – Optional
 
This means you can do two movements tops, or alternatively jus the challenge movement itself.
 
Here are the other 4 for your consideration, the start off easy and finish hard, also they’re not for everyone and there’s not qualms in saying that.
 
2 – 10,000 Squats* – Can S/S (Goblet if strong)
3 – 10,000 Push Ups – Can S/S
4 – 10,000 Snatches (KB or DB – 5000 each arm) – Solo recommended
5 – 10,000 Meters of a Loaded Carry – Solo recommended
 
*If squats are not comfortable for you then 10,000 Lunges are the alternative.
 
When I did the swings I opted for these rep ranges:
 
A1 – Swings: 50-30-20
A2 – Supplementary Lift x2-5
Repeat 5 times
 
You might look at the above and recoil because of how dull it will be, and while that is true it works very well so I will ask you this question:
 
Do you want to be better than you currently are now?
 
A simple yes or no will suffice to answer this ^^.
 
In our modern life we are spoilt by choice, as such it has made many of us complacent, petulant and caused much stagnation in regard to physical progress.
 
Now some people surely want to enjoy their training and have fun, it’s a good option yet over the years no training starts off being enjoyable, and if it does it rarely stays that way unless you’re getting results, and even then it can become very trying of ones resolve.
 
As Bruce Lee said – “Don’t pray for an easy life. Pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.”
 
Give the above a go if you’re lost for something to do, or don’t, yet come September when things start to ease don’t look back at your time and see you wasted it.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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3 training tools you really want to try.

Indian Clubs
Macebells
Gymnastic Rings
 
Why?
 
Because they’re awesome.
 
Chances are you’ve heard of the rings before, they got popular in about 2010, and in all honesty are one of the best upper body training tools you’ll ever find.
 
Going beyond merely doing press ups, drips, chins and even muscle ups on them you’ll find you can progress to low skill level ring routines that will hit almost every muscle in your torso.
 
The only down side for people is such things don’t provide instant gratification, as such they lose favour.
 
People are fickle after all and lack patience.
 
Anyway, the other two items are a little more niche.
 
Indian Clubs, while not new, are great for shoulder health, core stability, building movement flows and will send your cardio vascular health through the roof without you even realising it.
 
Then you’ve got the macebells, their benefit can be found in the fact that they’re incredibly difficult to use.
 
Swinging one around in a basic figure of 8 around your head in a controlled fashion will hit essentially every muscle you have, that is if you don’t fall over first – which is exactly what happened to me first time round, lol.
 
Here is a video that utilises the uncommon pair above:
 
 
One for the rings:
 
 
Hopefully you’ll be inspired to do something a little different.
 
While I still love barbells and the classic lifts, there’s more to life, so go and explore.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Humans are meant to be both

Mobility is underrated, until it’s gone that is.
 
Having a good amount of flexibility is one thing, however being mobile is something a little different.
 
In short, holding an extended or stretched ROM will come down to these two things primarily:
 
1 – How much residual muscle tension (tone) you have
2 – Your neurological ability to contract/relax as needed
 
The first part is the easiest to address, this is why you often find commonly that the people who are the most flexibly don’t really have too much in the way of ‘muscle tone’ to speak of.
 
While they will indeed have some, as muscles will hold some level of residual tension due to their ability to produce force it won’t be that much.
 
This links in with the second part, some people have amazing control over their bodies and are able to inhibit/disinhibit muscles at will to either deepen a stretch or perform some kind to interesting contrition feat despite being heavily muscled.
 
You see once you begin building strength and a large amount of LBM the stronger you get the more tension/force you’ll produce, meaning your muscles to some may appear ‘stiff’, which is kinda true, yet it’s also what give your that muscular look.
 
This is all a learned neurological state, one of constant or semi-constant tension I mean.
 
It’s where the term ‘relax into stretching’ comes from and why a focus on breath when you stretch is crucial as it will allow your bodies PNS/CNS to communicate and realise there is no danger of snapping, thus allowing flexibility to improve, which in tern helps improve mobility in the long run.
 
How?
 
Because the body doesn’t feel unstable due to the muscles working in synergy with each other, this links back to the inhibition/disinhibition side of things.
 
Say you’ve got muscles acting as prime movers when they shouldn’t be, that will cause unnecessary tension elsewhere to support your body, usually causing excessive stiffness, lack of mobility/flexibility, not due to you not naturally possessing either, it’s more a case of you’ve learned how to move badly and compensate for it.
 
This is why having an adequate mobility & stretching supplement to your training is crucial.
 
Well, for most average people.
 
You’ll find the higher you progress up the ladder of a specific sport or endeavour there will invariably be some sacrifices you need to make.
 
For example; powerlifting.
 
If you truly with to have the heaviest SQ/BP/DL possible then you won’t be flexible due to the massive about of force you’ll be able to produce and tension needed to stabilise (plus the residual stuff too), however you will be flexible/mobile enough for your sport.
 
Now this have bene long winded yet it gives you some more context and thread to pull on.
 
Flexibility is holding extended positions/rom and to me shows a good command of being able to contract/relax muscles as needed to allow the stretch to occur to your own natural end ROM’s.
 
Mobility is being able to be fully stable and produce the desired force output required while moving through an entire ROM.
 
Two side of the same coin
 
The first is passive (for recovery), the second is active for performance).
 
You may not put much stock in the above, however I implore you to give it some investigation, you never know, you might just end up understanding why you ache in certain places or can’t heal a certain injury.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Hypertrophy Hamstrings at Home.

This often neglected area of the legs is one that separates the dedicated from the rest.
 
A short isa of how they like to work or be stimulated is as follows:
 
– High Loading (max force production)
– High Speed (max power production)
 
Essentially a hefty chunk of intensity is needed, given their slightly bias towards type 2 muscles fibres (fast twitch).
 
Keeping this in mind while training at home it means we’re going to need to become quite creative.
 
These three options are great for hitting the high speed element at home with no kit:
 
– Sprinting
– Jumping (bound, broad, etc)
 
 
If you’re lucky enough to have some kit, say a dumbbell or kettlebell then you can add in these:
 
– Swings
– Snatches
 
 
All the above are simple and great for speed/power.
 
The tricky part comes from trying to create a lot of mechanical tension to load them in the desired way that will produce a lot of force.
 
A select few people song enough can do Nordic Hamstring Curls, just get something soft under your knees and wedge your feet under your car, boom, self made station for nordic hamstring curls, or the negative element of them.
 
 
Sadly the majority of people are not that strong.
 
Thus other methods are required.
 
Without weights and kit such as suspension trainers (although you can make your own TRX via an old bed sheet) then you’ve got the option of brides (glute bridge), a classic an time honoured movement popular in LBT classes the world over.
 
 
 
Single leg variations, constant tension variations, unstable surface variations, they’re all great for getting in some more MUR (motor unit recruitment), yet how are we going to get the high-threshold ones we need involved?
 
 
We know the speed examples above hit the high-threshold motor units nicely, however there is only so much peed work one can do before performance declines and the risk of injury starts to increase.
 
In comes lament flooring and a nylon t-shirt, or fluffy socks.
 
^^ You may own Sliders, or use cardboard on carpet as that works quite well.
 
With these two thing you can create bodyweight hamstring curls, doing these double leg is hard enough, try them single leg and boy oh boy, you get a good amount of tension.
 
Thinking about it I really should do videos for these things…..
 
Ugh, such a pain 🤣
 
Aha, no need, we’ve got YouTube:
 
 
Admittedly I was one outhouse people who had no choice other than to work out a lot of the above via test books, trial & error because of not growing up with access to the internet.
 
Hence why I write a lot, learning from text seems to have had more of an impact on me than i realised, although not everyone can learn that way.
 
As such you can YouTube al the above and find people that have done demo videos for you 🙂
 
^^ I’ve gone back and linked videos in.
 
Now go, train your hamstring hard.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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An odd blend of CV & Strength.

These sessions can be utilised as follows:
 
Option 1 – 20min:
 
A1 – Skipping x10min
B1 – Upper or Lower Body Movement
 
Option 2 – 30min:
 
A1 – Skipping x10min
B1 – Upper or Lower Body Movement
C1 – Skipping x10min
 
Option 3 – 40min:
 
A1 – Skipping x10min
B1 – Upper Body Movement
C1 – Skipping x10min
D1 – Lower Body Movement
 
Option 4 – 50min:
 
A1 – Skipping x10min
B1 – Upper Body Movement
C1 – Skipping x10min
D1 – Lower Body Movement
E1 – Skipping x10min
 
Option 5 – 60min:
 
A1 – Skipping x10min
B1 – Upper Body Movement
C1 – Skipping x10min
D1 – Lower Body Movement
E1 – Skipping x10min
F1 – Upper Body Movement
 
It’s quite easy to comprehend, however the above is the skeleton, the nuance means there are endless options.
 
– Skipping – LISS, Intervals, Tricks
– Upper Body – Push or Pull (horizontal or vertical)
– Lower Body – Hinge or Squat
 
You can also make the standard movements based on reps, TUT, speed, power, endurance or a whole host of other things.
 
Here is an example for the 20min session that covers 5 days of training across a week:
 
Day 1 – Monday
A1 – Skipping x10min – LISS
B1 – Swings x200 reps
 
Day 2 – Tuesday
A1 – Skipping x10min – Intervals (sprint) 10/50
B1 – Push Ups x100 reps
 
Day 3 – Thursday
A1 – Skipping x10min – LISS
B1 – Goblet Squats x200 reps
 
Day 4 – Friday
A1 – Skipping x10min – Tricks (double-under practice)
B1 – Pull Ups x100 reps
 
Day 5 – Saturday
A1 – Skipping x10min – Intervals (high knee) 30/30
B1 – Pike Push Ups x100 reps
 
As you can see, there is minimal kit needed.
 
Of course this doesn’t need to be done with skipping, it can be done with any form of CV, however for most people skipping will yield a lot of bang for their buck.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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