Tag Archives: strength

Is your training right?

Does the training you enjoy conflict the goal you desire?
 
Well?
 
It’s a simple question and very easy to answer, let me explain by using myself as the example.
 
My goal is strength, with some extra size because everyone wants to look as strong as they are :).
 
Does the training I undergo match this goal?
 
For the strength neurological elements, yes.
 
For the mass gaining, no.
 
Simple.
 
I find that cycling through periodised blocks of training is something I have been terrible at doing in recent years because personally the bodybuilding style of training bores me to tears, however there is only so strong I can get being the size I am, such a conundrum.
 
It is easy to fall in to the trap of doing what we enjoy and while there is not really anything wrong with that, it doesn’t always mean that we will get the results we desire and unless we’re willing to make the changes necessary to our training and perhaps even our nutrition, we’ll just have to settle with what we’ve got.
 
Be nice if there was another answer, there isn’t.
 
If you want a specific outcome you need to take a specific course of action.
 
As not to leave you without anything to test out in the gym I’m going to write out a nice simple routine that will indeed give you the mental stimulation of lifting heavy with the muscle building capacity of reps, you can also use this for fat loss too.
 
Rep/Sets:
 
– 5 singles to a heavy weight for the day
– Back off to 60-80% of that weight
– Do either 5×5 or 1×20
– For strength do workouts 1 & 2 ideally twice per week, if you only have three days to train it would go 1-2-1, 2-1-2 and then repeat.
– For fat loss do workouts 1 & 2 on say Monday/Friday and add in workout 3 on Wednesday, for example.
 
 
Workout 1:
 
A1 – Deadlift
B1 – Press (overhead, dip or bench)
C1 – Chin Up
 
Workout 2:
 
A1 – Squat
B1 – Press (overhead, dip or bench)
C1 – Row
 
Workout 3:
 
A1 – Bodyweight bear hug carry 100-400m
B1 – Farmers Walk 100-400m
C1 – Sprints 5-10×60 second sprints
 
It’s simple, effective, quite fun and will give you results, provided you’re nutrition is appropriate for your goal (mass gain = calorie surplus, fat loss = calorie deficit).
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

The Importance of Sport & Staying Strong

You need to read this post because it’s full of useful info you’ll not know if you don’t.
 
Direct?
 
Yes, however highly relevant to making progress.
 
“Chase performance, not fatigue.”
 
A saying to live by, especially in these modern days where training for aesthetic is number 1.
 
While training to look good isn’t a bad thing, it’s by no means a useful one. I know plenty of people who look great but can’t do the following:
 
– Run a mile without stopping
– Pick up and put their bodyweight over head
– Squat correctly
– Have any form of athleticism
 
The list goes on but we shall stop there.
 
If you’re content with looking good but having no phial prowess then more power to you, if however you want to look as strong as you are then keep reading to learn two secrets.
 
Still reading?
 
Great, here is your reward.
 
Secret 1 –
 
Play a sport.
 
Yep, it’s that simple and you’ll find it also adds some enjoyment to your training int he gym because you’ll start to have a focus towards developing aspects of performance such as speed, strength and stability to improve your new hobby.
 
A sport will also provide you with a new social circle of likeminded people who want to better themselves, you’ll also make new friends and more importantly, new rivals to keep you on your toes.
 
Being the best is boring, always chase someone better and you’ll stay hungry for progress.
 
Secret 2 –
 
Train for strength because it’s the base of the pyramid and without strength you’ll struggle to do anything else.
 
The classic 5×5 is still popular for the simple reason of it makes people strong and it’s so simple to do. You also find that 8×3 is popular among people who train for strength, as is hitting 20 rep squat sets.
 
As a human you want to be as strong as you need. Might sounds silly but plenty of people are too weak these days and struggle to do even basic daily lifting tasks on their own, simply due to our modern life and being lazy.
 
This goes for ladies and gentlemen, both should be strong because strength is for everyone.
 
You can take this information and do wit hit what you will, apply it and start to make progress or ignore it and stay as you are, either are fine it’s your life, I just want you to have the best one possible.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

40+ Lifting

The ravages of time effect us all, it’s something none of us can deny.

Eventually the days of working all the hours under the sun followed by a hard night of partying and then getting up at the crack of dawn and crushing a workout can only last so long.

In the end the body says “Nope, just no.”

So why does this happen?

Let’s look at what we know:

– Hormonal profiles are less optimal
– Your ability to recover declines as you age
– Sleep becomes paramount
– Tolerance to alcohol, highly processed foods declines
– You can actually train harder as you age due to better and more mature/developed neurological connections that create more in-road each session (plus you might have made strength gains from your early days, hopefully)
– Basically you’re no spring chicken anymore

Some people think raging is a bad thing, it’s not, it’s simply a process of life however if you plan your training correctly you can make plenty of progress in your later years, and for some people even make the best progress they’ve ever made.

Personally I’ve had clients who go on to outdo themselves ten-fold from their youth because as an adult they possess the following quality that only come with time:

– Wisdom
– Patience
– Accountability
– Common sense

A typical younger version of yourself might train 5-6 days per week and hit a combination of weights/cardio, not a bad thing, however from experience the attitude of most is that of this “I’m maintaining what I’ve got.” whereas as you age the attitude becomes “I’m looking to become stronger and improve what I have to prevent further decline.” – obviously note true for everyone, just most people.

As youths we truly are ignorant and take what we have for granted. If we had known that the foundations we lay in the early years will serve use to help keep our youth for longer more people would put in a conscious effort to train for strength/progress rather than just aesthetics and maintaining what we have.

^^ Always train for strength, performance and progress, that’s the bottom line. If you do aesthetics will come regardless of age.

Below is a winning formula I have used for people over the age of 40 who have become more invested mentally in their training.

– Train 2-4 times per week (more isn’t necessary)
– Focus on strengthening your posterior chain
– Focus on stretching your anterior chain
– 2-6 movements per session is great
– Conditioning is important (use 1 session to hit CV 80%+ HRR)
– Lower reps with more sets trumps all
– Average intensity will be around 80% 1RM
– 2-3 weeks of hard training followed by 1 week easy is king
– Take 4 total rest weeks of a year (12 week mesocycles)
– Food is fuel, eat mostly whole foods
– Enjoy life, if you want to eat loose do it, just don’t go nuts to often

If you’re new to lifting I advise you hire a coach to help you with the below. Kettlebells are a great tool, however they require practice so leave your ego at the door, focus on longevity.

 

You’ll improve strength/conditioning/mobility/flexibility with kettlebells, they’re the perfect tool as we find ourselves hitting the later years. If you have never used them I suggest hiring a coach to help teach you their ways.

Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

So, think you’re tough enough to try this?

It’s safe to say there are some people in the gym who go above and beyond when it comes to pushing through the burn, a true sign of mental toughness.

However…

Density training has humbled many, myself included.

This is a nice little method of training if you’re short on time and have a hectic schedule.

There are several forms of this, the one we are looking it will help enhance the following elements of your fitness:

  • Base Strength
  • Strength Endurance
  • Cardio
  • Muscle Mass
  • Body Composition (strip fat)
  • Mental Strength

Another added benefit is how this style of training will help you save time and even improve your form – I advise you stop a set of form breaks down, even if it fell short, after all, safety comes first and you can always build strength over time, there’s no rush.

Here is what to do:

  • Train 2-7 days per week (yep, you can do 7days if you wish, I wouldn’t, but you could)
  • Ramp to a top weight and base the density set off of a % of top ramp (50-70% is good) – go lighter than you think at first
  • Complete as many reps as possible in the given time limit
  • Progression comes in the form of adding weight once you can perform consistent reps without stopping in the time limit

You will be using 5min sets.

Yep, after you’ve warmed up, you do 5min of solid reps with a given exercise, no letting go of the bar, db, kettlebell or kit you’re using, just a brief rest pause in the lockout/rack position.

For this method to work well 2-3 exercise per session are good, any more and you may run into problems. I would also not advise doing this with deadlifts, just train those normally.

Here are some suggestions of movements to use:

  • Squat (rest in lock out, goes for front/back squat)
  • Press (bench – rest in lockout, overhead – rest in rack position, dips – rest in lockout)
  • Pull/Chin Up (rest in dead hang)
  • Curls (rest at bottom of curl)
  • Farmers Walk/Loaded Carry (good luck finding a rest position that doesn’t involve putting it down)
  • Turkish Get Ups – 1 set each arm

The loading will be as above, the time limit will be a nice simple 5min, be sure to note down the reps you achieve. Typically hitting around 35-50 means you’re good to go up in weight, depending on the exercise I’d aim for 50 personally.

The layout of a session might be like this:

  • A1 – Ramp on squat to heavy 1-5, drop weight to 60% of top ramp for 1x5min density set
  • B1 – Ramp on press to heavy 1-5, drop weight to 60% of top ramp for 1x5min density set
  • C1 – Chins 1x5min density set* Optional

Remember to hit the full body over the week of your training.

If you trained 2 days you’d have 3 exercises per day that you can pick from the examples written above.

5min doesn’t seem like a long time, however it will test you both mentally and physically.

Enjoy, Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

The fast metabolism fiasco

“It’s okay for them, they can eat what they want, they have a fast metabolism.”
 
^^ I hear this a lot.
 
Is this something you’ve said in the past, along with the classic – “I’ve got a slow metabolism, I gain weight instantly if I eat.”
 
Do you know how these people with this seemingly godlike metabolism do it?
 
Do you want to know?
 
I will tell you.
 
Their metabolism is not that far off from yours, the only difference is how they live their lives, which usually look like this:
 
– They eat at or just below their required maintenance calories (you don’t)
 
– They move more and thus have a higher energy expenditure, typically from CV training and/or weightlifting which helps create EPOC/In road, (you don’t)
 
– They have more lean muscle mass (you don’t)
 
Can you see a pattern forming here?
 
The whole fast/slow metabolism excuse is utter nonsense for most average people. It’s usually a simple case that their energy expenditure is lower than their energy intake.
 
Wait, what’s that I hear?
 
You have thyroid problems?
 
So do a lot of other people and guess what, if it is managed by the doctor then you don’t have a thyroid problem, you have an eating problem as in you eat too much.
 
Now is it true there will always be some people who are the exceptions and because of this the world and it’s dog jump on that and claim to be the exception, I can safely say from experience this is not the case, trust me on that.
 
Ironically the exceptions never use being the exception as an excuse, they just find a way to make things work and achieve their goals. It’s only the average who use the exception excuse.
 
So to summarise…
 
They don’t have a fast metabolism.
 
You don’t have a slow metabolism.
 
They eat less, move more and have higher amount of lean mass than you, it’s that simple.
 
Stop making excuses and start looking for ways in which YOU can make the changes you need, if you need help please ask and you will get it.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Train to gain

It seems that hitting momentary mechanical failure is equally if not more important tan the load you lift.
 
 
^^ A good study looking at 3x Fail x30% VS 3x Fail x80%.
 
In short, the act of hitting failure provide adequate stimulus to trigger muscle growth.
 
The growth was essentially the same in both groups, however the group that used a heavier weight got stronger as well (pretty logical).
 
So what does this mean for your training?
 
You can look at it one of two ways:
 
1 – Cycle your loads between 30-80% 1RM and perform 3 sets per muscle group to muscle failure each set (after a couple of warm up sets, obviously).
 
2 – You can take this data and combine to s strength program to add some extra oomph, so perhaps performing working sets at a standard weight, say 5x5x80% (leaving reps in the take and focusing on strength), followed by a back off set of the same weight or between the 30-80% mark for AMRAP to hit failure, triggering more growth stimulus.
 
Both options are viable, both will improve strength and size.
 
Another nice option is this:
 
W/U – 10-15 reps
Set 1 – 10 reps – tough
Set 2 – 8 reps – tougher
Set 3 – 6-8 reps – hardest set
Set 4 – reps to failure with previous load or reduce load by 20%
 
If you ever see someone who has any decent amount of size you’ll notice they’ve often blended training to failure with stopping just short, try it yourself and see how you do.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

How doing less helped me progress.

Yesterday we touched on who doing too much can hold people back, today we shall look at how the opposite can help you being to once again make headway.
 
MED, remember that?
 
Minimum effective dose.
 
Find what the bare minimum you can do and make progress form and do that until you no longer make progress, then perhaps add the next smallest amount and progress once again.
 
A simple thought that still adheres to the GAS/SAID principle.
 
It will allow you more time to recover, spend time doing other things you enjoy and for the average person, give you results while also having a life.
 
Sounds perfect, right?
 
That being the case, why don’t people do it?
 
Because as we discussed yesterday, too many think more is better and even more than that must mean even better still, not always true, sadly.
 
You will also find that when you take down how much you’ve been doing, you recover and allow the super-compensation element of GAS to happen, meaning gains.
 
Keeping in mind MED, how many times per week do you need to train to make progress?
 
Twice, that’s a great start.
 
Both sessions would follow a full body approach with limited moves that will give you the best bang for your buck.
 
Day 1 – Monday
 
A1 – Front Squat or Squat 10×5
A2 – DB Row 10×6
B1 – Press 8×6
B2 – Chin 8×6
C1 – Dip 50 reps in as few sets as possible
D1 – Loaded Carry 10min x Total Distance (famers walk, etc)
 
Day 2 – Thursday
 
A1 – Deficit Deadlift (any grip) 10×5
A2 – DB Press 10×6-8
B1 – Bench Press or Incline 6×6-8
B2 – BB Row 6×6-8
C1 – Curl 50 rep goal in as few sets as possible
D1 – Prowler or Sprints 10min x total Distance
 
Combine this with solid nutrition (plenty of whole foods and a calorie deficit or surplus depending on your goal) and three simple factors to progress and you’ll be laughing at the gains you make.
 
How to progress:
 
– Add weight where possible (fractional plates are good)
– If you can’t add weight, reduce rest
– Rest at it’s lowest, increase TUT (time under tension) with a slower negative portion of the lift
 
In each session aim to keep a good pace and finish within 45-75min, you’ll find the less you faff the better the workout you get.
 
Obviously over time you will potentially need to add more frequency taking training to 3 days per week, but the longer you can progress on 2 the better.
 
Funnily enough you will find that most elite lifters seem to find 4xP/W is their optimal limit because in each session they train HARD and create a deep ‘in road’ meaning they’ve stimulated growth, you need to do this too.
 
Remember, doing less can help your progress.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health