Tag Archives: tips

Lifting Tips & Childhood Classics

When the young Wart pulled that seemingly innocuous sword from the stone, that day he really did teach us a good lesson in lifting.
 
If you’ve not read the rather fine collection of books about the Once & Future King by T.H White, you really should.
 
I lifted this from the book, you’ll find it is filled with gems that apply to our world of lifting and I’m not the only one who thinks this, in fact someone rather well known said this long ago.
 
You might know him, his name is Dan John.
 
He even has a book named after one of the lines, can you guess which it is?
 
How to lift,the Once & Future King Style:
 
“Oh, Merlyn,” cried the Wart, “help me to get this weapon.”
 
^^ Having a clearly defined goal in mind.
 
There was a kind of rushing noise, and a long chord played along with it. All round the churchyard there were hundreds of old friends. They rose over the church wall all together, like the
 
Punch and Judy ghosts of remembered days, and there were badgers and nightingales and vulgar crows and hares and wild geese and falcons and fishes and dogs and dainty unicorns and solitary wasps and corkindrills and hedgehogs and griffins and the thousand other animals he had met.
 
^^ Reflection on knowledge gained and shared.
 
They loomed round the church wall, the lovers and helpers of the Wart, and they all spoke solemnly in turn. Some of them had come from the banners in the church, where they were painted in heraldry, some from the waters and the sky and the fields about-but all, down to the smallest shrew mouse, had come to help on account of love.
 
^^ Umm, warm fuzzy feelings?
 
Wart felt his power grow.
 
^^ Focus of mind, body and perhaps spirit, if you’re in to that sort of thing.
 
“Put your back into it,” said a Luce (or pike) off one of the heraldic banners, “as you once did when I was going to snap you up. Remember that power springs from the nape of the neck.”
 
^^ A solid posterior and well developed chain with good posture is a key element required for strength.
 
“What about those forearms,” asked a Badger gravely, “that are held together by a chest? Come along, my dear embryo, and find your tool.”
 
^^ Connection the extremities, the distal and proximal, the body must begin to converge and work as a unit to achieve strength and success.
 
A Merlin sitting at the top of the yew tree cried out, “Now then, Captain Wart, what is the first law of the foot? I thought I once heard something about never letting go ?”
 
^^ Become grounded, braced, solid, immovable and unshakable, all this is achieved by generation tension (required torque).
 
“Don’t work like a stalling woodpecker,” urged a Tawny Owl affectionately. “Keep up a steady effort, my duck, and you will have it yet.”
 
^^ Hold your form and GRIND!
 
A white-front said, “Now, Wart, if you were once able to fly the great North Sea, surely you can co-ordinate a few little wing-muscles here and there? Fold your powers together, with the spirit of your mind, and it will come out like butter. Come along, Homo sapiens, for all we humble friends of yours are waiting here to cheer.”
 
^^ Keep utilising the body as a unit, everything should work together because there is strength in numbers.
 
The Wart walked up to the great sword for the third time. He put out his right hand softly and drew it out as gently as from a scabbard.
 
^^ Ain’t nothing but a peanut.
 
There you have it, a lesson in lifting from our Once & Future King.
 
It is not uncommon for people to forget to coordinate their body, to generate tension, hold form and overcome the task before them and instead opt for the easy way out.
 
We’ve all done it.
 
Certainly have, however it is in this one simple realisation or perhaps admission to ourselves that we can ascertain if we have what it takes to succeed or not.
 
When the time comes, it’s do or die, as they say.
 
Are there times have you given in before you should have?
 
How many times have your forgotten the foundational principles you learned in an effort to rush towards the prize and circumvent the price that needs be paid to Charon, or who ever is asking for it.
 
I do enjoy reading older books these days, they are filled with hidden gems that once upon a time I wasn’t able to see.
 
Do you have any that you’ve picked up that you’d like to share?
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Progression Tips for Beginners

Do you have any idea how to progress your training across the variables?

– Volume
– Intensity
– Density
– Frequency

It’s quite easy really, as such here is an example for each that can be used for several weeks or months if you have the courage to stay the course.

Volume –

Ladders, one of my favourites.

1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 or 2,3,5,10, or 1,2,3,4,5

There are a lot of choices, for adding extra volume in the form of reps, the most effective being 1-10, and you will only add weight once you can go 1-10 unbroken.

Example (works best as a super set):

A1 – Pull Up
A2 – Close Grip Bench Press

Intensity –

Let us say that you’re a creature of habit who likes doing the same sets and reps, this is cool however progressing can be a tad tricky, therefor this is the solution:

Fractional Plates.

Small 0.25kg (or lighter) plates, all you need do is hit your desired reps then add another 0.25kg and aim to do the same next time.

Personally I’ve found that doing 3-5×3-5 works well as it gives you some room to adapt to the gradual increases. Once you hit 5×5 with good form, adding another fraction plate is easy, it might may you only be able to do 3×3, that’s okay keep grinding until it’s 5×5 and progress from there.

Density –

Perhaps you’re already one strong hombre and adding weight or reps is becoming tricky, fear not, you have two options to progress.

1 – Set a time limit to hit your rep goal.

Example; 50 reps in 15min with 140kg in the squat.

Once you hit it you add weight.

2 – Reduce your rest periods.

Say you’ve started with 5min rest, knock off 15 seconds at the next session, if you hit all your reps then knock off another 15 next time, repeat this until you are perhaps at 3min rest, or lower, that is up to you.

Once you hit your desired point of ‘low rest’ add weight and take the rest back up to 5min per set and so on.

Frequency –

The easiest to manipulate, al you do is add an extra bout of reps or an extra session.

Say you train your squat once per week, bump it up to twice, if you already do two squat sessions do three, you can spread the reps out and build them up from there, example:

1 squat session a week = 5×10
2 squat session = 3×10 per session (10 more total reps)

Make sense?

Adding weight or reps can be applied from the other example above.

The little tips of today are very basic, there is a lot more that can go in to this, however these will be enough to tweak your current training and perhaps get you over the plateau.

Enjoy,
Ross

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The 3 Plate Sandwich

Do you ever do plate sandwich walks?
 
If not you should, they’re great for strengthening your upper body.
 
Morning all,
 
I also call these ‘plate compression walks’ however the one above sounds more fun.
 
They’re quite simple, yet very effective.
 
Take three plates, say 2x10kg & 1x5kg.
 
The 10’s are on the outside and the 5 is in the middle.
 
Keeping your hands flat (think palm pressure🙏), press the plates together hard, if you see your elbows slightly tucked you will feel this a lot in your pecs/lats.
 
From here go for a walk and only stop when you can’t hold the isometric contraction and longer.
 
Repeat for 10min, or longer if you choose.
 
You can of course to this with only 1 or 2 plates, I’ve just found three makes like rather interesting.
 
This also works great with kettlebells 🤗
 
Add this to your workouts and you’ll find upper body strength & progress you didn’t know you had in you.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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8 Tips to help improve your deadlift.

Some call this the King of lifts.
 
Whether you think this deserves that title of perhaps the Snatch, Clean & Jerk or Squat are better suited to it, we can all agree that there is nothing most satisfying that hoisting a hefty weight off the floor to a solid lock out.
 
It’s a truly great feeling.
 
If you’ve hit a bit of a plateau with yours, here are some tips to help you hit some new numbers 🙂
 
1 – Film yourself
 
Ideally you want to get all of your lifts on camera, that way you can make sure your form is on point.
 
2 – Get a stronger grip
 
People will complain that their grip give out, this is cool and means that they can work on it.
 
Adding in Farmers Walks with your bodyweight (50% each hand) for 10 sets of 15-30 seconds (rest double the time you did) 2-3 times per week will fortify this fingers of yours.
 
3 – Reset every rep
 
No bouncing of any deadlift.
 
Ideally place the bar down, step away, step back in, set up again and lift, repeat for your desired amount of reps.
 
This is a great way to groove your set up form and makes for some interesting sets of 5.
 
4 – Add front squats/pause FS to your training
 
These have a nice carry over effect to deadlifts because you have to stay tight and hold posture to make the lift, especially the pause variations.
 
Aim for 15-25 reps in a session, capping the reps per set limit at 3, so that might be 8×3, 12×2, 5×3, 15×1, and so on.
 
5 – Super slow eccentrics
 
You deadlift as normal, while fusing on keeping your form a solid and tight as possible.
 
Next hold the bar at the top for 5 seconds, then proceed to lower over the next 10 seconds, do singles only for this and use anywhere from 50-70% of your max weight you can hit with solid form.
 
Easy on paper, ridiculously hard in practice.
 
6 – Remember the deadlift is a hinge
 
If you watch good pullers they have the following in common:
 
– Almost vertical shin at set up and second part of the pull
– Hips just higher than knees, shoulders just higher than hips
– They push the floor away
– They push their hips forwards
– They keep the bar close
– Tension is not lost at any point in the set up or the lift
 
A lot of people try to squat a deadlift, as such the squat it off the floor (badly), then continue to back extend the weight he rest of the way up and wonder why they hurt themselves.
 
Here is a great little resource explaining this (it’s easier to watch than read):
 
 
Your DL might take a hit in terms of numbers lifted while you re-pattern, however it will be worth it in the end.
 
7 – Strengthen your back
 
This might seem obvious however you’d be surprised how many people put most of their training focus in to pressing and wonder why they have a crap pull.
 
Bent over rows, pull ups, pull downs (various grips), single arm rows, bear hug carries, face pulls, reverse flies are only a few examples of back exercises, make sure you get in some solid volume for your back and make it grow.
 
You’ll also find the bigger your back is the better at pressing you become as your back is responsible for stabilising you and the stronger it is, the stronger human being you will be.
 
8 – Stop chasing weight
 
Kind of a contradiction to this entire post, yet a very relevant one.
 
Time in the gym is meant for BUILDING STRENGTH, not testing it.
 
Many are guilty of testing too often in the gym and wonder why they never make progress.
 
Ego must be left at the door. If you can pull 5 plates, that’s great just don’t think you have to pull 5 plates every time you’re in the gym otherwise people will think you’re weak, they won’t, they don’t care about what you lift, trust me.
 
In the gym sticking between 70-85% of your max is more than enough to help you build some impressive strength and avoid snapping yourself up.
 
If you need to lift some big weights for instagram do what most of those who are famous on it do and buy some fake weights for your videos, simple 😂
 
There you have it, 8 tips to help you improve your deadlift.
 
Obviously don’t try to do them all at once.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Step 1: Get up earlier

How do you start your day?
For many it is by seeking out every last second they can in bed, followed by a lacklustre meal, usually cereal of something convenient and then off to work, however before th sit down at their desk this is some form of coffee laden drink at their side because they just can’t function without one.
Does this sound like you?
If it does the chances are you’re not quite in the shape that you desire and have that lovely spare tyre around your midsection, not to mention you struggle to focus and always feel tired/crap.
Sound familiar?
A lot of people got to be too late, get up as close to the rise as possible and inadequately fuel their body.
Today we shall look at a nice little routine for the mornings that will achieve the following:
– Better body composition
– Optimal health
– Mental focus
– Create a positive new habit & lifestyle change
Here is how you do it in 5 easy to follow steps.
Step 1: Get up earlier, stand by the bed and take 10 deep breaths, this will help wake you up
Step 2: 10min Kettlebell Workout upon waking, you can choose what to do
Step 3: Shower & get ready for work
Step 4: Make a nutritious meal of breakfast, perhaps salmon, eggs and spinach
Step 5: Don’t buy coffee, you don’t need it, opt for water instead
I can already hear a lot of people complaining and coming up with their excuses, if you’re one of them that’s okay, I’m not interested in those who don’t want to help themselves so you may continue as you are.
If you’re one of the few who has read this and wants to make a change then I salute you.
You owe your health to no one, especially not me, do it for yourself and make the positive lifestyle changes you need to succeed.
Enjoy,
Ross

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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

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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

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A simple answer to a common question.

“How many exercises should I do each workout?”
 
^^ A common question, to which there is a very simple answer.
 
2-7
 
The average for a decent workout seems to be around 4, however the option to go a little higher or lower is useful planning an accumulation or intensification phase of training.
 
If you’re lifting heavy, then perhaps a simple A1-A2 set up is best, this will allow maximal weigh tot be shifted and ample time for recovery in your 45-60min training slot.
 
The same is true for using more exercises, you’d usually find this happens when you’re lifting a little lighter and aiming for more volume.
 
There’s your answer.
 
Pick anywhere from 2-7 exercises per session, utilise the following methods to help you regulate training and stave off boredom.
 
– Super sets: A1-A2
– Tri sets: A1-A2-A3
– Giant sets: 4 or more exercises for the same muscle group
– Circuits: 4 or more exercises for different muscle groups
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Two simple nutrition swaps for added fat loss.

Morning All,

Tweaking your nutrition can be hard, especially when it comes to knowing where to start if you find yourself working all the hours under the sun. Keeping this in mind here are two little tweaks that you can make that will help reduce excess calorie intake and start you on the right path.

1 – Buy more water to drink instead of smoothies, fizzy drinks or genera soft drinks.

2 – Swap your store bought sandwich for either meat from the deli and a bag of salad, or a pre-made one, you’ll find them under the sandwiches.

These will start to get you in the habit of making better choices for eating. You’ll also start to feel better as well.

Remember you can always have a little of what you enjoy, just don’t eat it in excess, unless you don’t mind the excess calories the goes with it as well.

Enjoy,
Ross

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