Tag Archives: Training program

Pushing your sets all the way

Working out is easy, it’s training that’s hard.
 
When it comes to the mental aspect of lifting weights we’d all like to think that we’re putting in the effort we require and while some certainly do, most don’t.
 
You can tell by the results people achieve.
 
Let’s take for example the classic 5×5, if you look back at its inception the idea was to either do 3-4 warm up sets where you start working towards a top set for the day, some would even do 2 top sets after 3 progressively heavier warm ups, this would actually be quite hard.
 
To push a set of say 5 for everything you had, with good form of course, is quite draining and very few people will ever really do it. Most will lift a weight for 5 that they could have really don for 7, maybe 8 if they’re honest.
 
This is one reason a lot of us don’t get the progress we really want.
 
I’m guilty of this that’s for sure.
 
Now this isn’t to say that people don’t ‘work hard’, rather it’s just pointing out that many haven’t quite grasped the concept of really pushing a set to it’s limit. if they did they’d find training say 3 days per week is more than enough to make progress, rather than their standard 6 with back to back classes and AM/PM runs.
 
Good old fashioned honest hard graft isn’t pleasant, it’s tough, however it’s what produces results, especially when combined with solid nutrition and plenty of recovery.
 
Try doing 5×5 and having 3-4 of those sets being warm ups, then really go all out on the last set, you should feel sufficiently worked, you may have one more set of 5 at that weight, if you do then go for it, however if you get it right that one hard set of 5 will be enough.
 
The loading might look like this:
 
5x60kg
5x100kg
5x140kg
5x180kg
5x200kg
 
Done, move on to the next exercise and repeat the same process.
 
Just something to think about.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

The 30 set workout structure.

An easy to follow method for those who don’t have time to workout out the exact weights they need for every set.
 
This is based on using auto-regulation and going by feel, it’s also a great way to progress provided you have a training diary and track what you’re doing.
 
Here is what you do:
 
– Train 2-3 times per week
– Pick 3 exercises per workout (10 sets per exercise)
– Stay in the 5-10 rep range
– Use which ever training split you feel is most appropriate*
– Warm ups are included in your sets
– You may use Straight Sets (A1, B1, C1), Superset (A1/A2) or Tri-Set (A1/A2/A3) movements if you choose
– Rest as needed
– Track weights/reps achieved
– Aim to keep sessions between 45-60min
– Repeat for 3-6months and make all the progress
 
*Upper/Lower, Push/Pull, Pull-Push-Legs, Full Body
 
This is what one exercises might look like on paper:
 
Deadlift:
 
Set 1 5x bar 20kg
Set 2 5x 60kg
Set 3 5x 80kg
Set 4 5x 100kg
Set 5 5x 120kg
Set 6 5x 140kg
Set 7 5x 140kg
Set 8 5x 140kg
Set 9 5x 140kg
Set 10 5x 130kg
 
^^ Calculate total volume – Sets X Reps X Weight
 
10x5x1070 = 53,500kg total volume lifted in the session.
 
You’d make a note and aim to lift more total volume next week.
 
The stronger you get you’ll find you may nee dress warm up sets or that they stay the same and you can lift more in your later sets to increase your volume. 
Make sure you’re eating correct for your goal, if you need to establish your calories then check out this page for those answers:
 
There is no right or wrong as to how many warm ups you need, just do what you feel is adequate so that your form feels grooved and the speed on the bar is moving nice and fast.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

How Odd.

Have you ever heard of the Odd Lifts?

You know, ones such as the Bent Press, the Jefferson DL or perhaps the One Arm Snatch?

if not here are some links to get you started:

http://www.oddlifts.com

https://www.onnit.com/…/how-to-become-a-strongman-the-5-b-…/

Okay, now it’s time to get to the point of the post.

– Three odd lifts you don’t often do that will change your body for the better.

1 – The bottom up kettlebell press

This can be done standing, seated, kneeing, sat of the floor or perhaps even in a floor press/bench press/incline press manor, which ever way you choose it will achieve the following:

– Stronger press/grip
– Muscle irradiation (more muscle recruitment)
– Take out your ego

https://breakingmuscle.com/…/bottoms-up-kettlebell-presses-…

2 – There Renegade Row

Use kettlebells or dumbbells for this. The alternating row style of this lift will help you by:

– Strengthening your ability to brace (core stabilisation)
– Work the entire upper body
– Improve balance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YHN0SGa-68Q

3 – Zecher Lifts

What is more real world than having to pick something off the floor and hold it in an awkward position? Not much, however is this is not to your liking you can swap it out for a bear hug style carry of a sand bag or something equally heavy and awkward.

You can pick the zecher lis you prefer out of the options in the link

The benefits:

– Overall Strength
– Fortified lower back
– A high crossover to daily living

https://www.t-nation.com/training/complete-guide-to-zerchers

Adding in this lifts or even doing a program of only these 3 will make some great changes to your overall body composition.

If you plan on doing the latter option here is a suggestion:

– 3 days per week or train every other day
– Heavy/Light/Medium loading protocol*
– Rest 1-5min between sets
– Eat according to your goal (gain mass or lose fat etc)

*Heavy = <25 total reps at 85% 1RM +
*Light = 75 total reps at 50-65% 1RM
*Medium = 50 total reps at 70-80% 1RM

For example:

Day 1:
Heavy – Zecher Lift
Light – Renegade Row
Medium – Bottom Up Press

Day 2:
Heavy – Bottom Up Press
Light – Zecher Lift
Medium – Renegade Row

Day 3:
Heavy – Renegade Row
Light – Bottom Up Press
Medium – Zecher Lift

How you add these lifts in or plan them is up to you as there are a lot of different odd lifts to choose from, just remember to add weight where you can and that consistency and progression is the key to success.

Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

Some variety is good, too much isn’t.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the classic line of “You need to change up your training to keep the body guessing” or something along those lines.

While having some changes in your training program is good for novelty and staving off the boredom, too much change too often will leave you without any real progress due to a lack of suitable adaptation.

Look at is this way; if you want to get better at a certain skill you practice that skill over and over and over again, the same is true fro lifting weights/training, you need repeated and sustained efforts to adapt and progress, chopping and changing every session won’t provide too much in the way of progress.

While you might not like that fact is it very much the case.

Take a look at people who do an ever changing amount of classes, they shift their excess fat and build some small amount of muscle (this is great btw), however past that point they end up looking no better because they don’t want to buckle down and stay with a training program for longer than a couple of weeks.

It’s a common issue that everyone falls victim to.

Now it is worth noting that some people do indeed need change every 2 weeks in there training, however those people are usually genetically gifted and 9/10 times you’re not that person, you’re the one who needs to stay consistent to a program for at least 12-16 weeks, sorry, that’s how it is.

When all that is said and done these words are only simple bits of advice, you can do what ever the hell you want, in the end it makes no different to me personally. If you’re happy with your training and your results then fill your boots, however if you’re not then you’d do well to take this on board.

You will often find the most successful training programs are often the most boring.

Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

You don’t need to squat heavy…

Do you need to squat heavy?

It pains me to say this, however there is technically no need to squat heavy weights…

That said, there is a basic necessity for the squatting movement pattern as it will ensure healthy ankles, knees, hips and loads more.

The squat is a fundamental human movement pattern, you need it, fact.

I am personally bias towards heavy squats, I love them, however they are not for everyone, some people may have injuries that prevent them going heavy, this is fair enough, they can adapt and do things such as goblet or front squats as substitutes, so long as they are performing the movement pattern all is good.

This short post is just to remind you that it’s okay not to squat heavy, you just need to be performing the movement in some way, shape or form to stay healthy.

Here is a simple workout structure for those who need some guidance, you can pick which ever :

W/U – Squatting pattern – Example: Goblet Squat 50 reps
A1 – Hinging movement 15-25 rep goal
B1 – Pressing movement
B2 – Pulling movement 25-50 rep goal for both
C1 – Core movement or Loaded Carry 30 rep goal or Distance for Time (e.g., 10min)

Easy, all you need do for exercise ideas is simply find a list of movements and pick ones that you feel like doing on the day.

Actually, hold on…

http://www.exrx.net/Lists/Directory.html

^^ A great resource, they’ve got some fantasist bits on there to read, enjoy it.

Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

All Bar One

Keeping things simple is always appealing, especially when it gets results too.
 
If you look back on this page you’ll find workouts using only Dumbbells, Kettlebells, Bodyweight and more, however there is little in the way of Barbell exclusive workouts, keeping this in mind that is what we shall look at today.
 
How can you use only a barbell (plus weight plates, obviously), to achieve a great workout and even make a ton of progress?
 
When I say just a bar, I mean just a bar. Not squat rack, squat pins nothing, just a bar and plates.
 
Easy, you have a few options:
 
– Complexes
– A1/A2 Jump Sets
– One Lift a Day
 
Let’s break down each with some examples for you.
 
Complexes –
 
A barbell complex is like any other, it’s a series of movements performed back-to-back with a set number of reps for each movement before moving on to the next.
 
You can have a little as 3 exercises or as many as 8, possibly more if you’re a sadist.
 
A nice one to try is as follows:
 
RDL, Power Clean, Press, FS, Row – 5-10 reps for each.
 
This can be done with progressively heavier weights to a top set, it can be done at the same weight for as many rounds as possible for time, the options are endless. A great method for stripping fat, improving cardio and slapping on some lean muscle.
 
Next up,
 
A1/A2 Jump Sets –
 
The classic pairing of two exercises is always good for helping shift some heavy poundages when performed in this way, this option is great if being big and strong is the goal.
 
It might look like this:
 
A1 – Deficit Snatch Grip DL – Rest 60 seconds
A2 – Floor Press – Rest 120 seconds
Repeat this sequence until desired sets/reps are hit, this could be 8×3, 5×5, 10×5
 
Depending on how many days per week you have to train you can alternate floor press with standing press and the deadlift with cleans etc.
 
Lastly we have the ever forgotten method known as…
 
One Lift a Day –
 
I’m sure you might be able to work this one out based on the name, it’s quite a good hint after all.
 
All you need do it pick one lift, just one and rep out for a solid 45min (this includes warm up as you can start off with some mobility then the bar and add weight to potentate until ready for working sets).
 
With this option you can either go for a high volume day, a high intensity day, a light pump day, the choices are yours depending on what you feel needs the most attention.
 
Here is an example of how you might structure a week:
 
1 – Snatch Grip Deadlift
2 – Press
3 – Row
4 – Off
5 – Clean
6 – Floor Press
7 – Off
 
Don’t forget old school exercises such was the bent press, side press, 2 hand any-how and other classics.
 
You can use any lift you choose of the the 45min block, this can even be skull crushers or curls if you fancy something like that. Its also worth noting that 45min is a guide, you could go for 30min or less if that’s all you have.
 
Each of the options above are easy on paper yet brutally hard when put in to practice, however that hard work will transfer in to progress and results, provided you give 100% and stick at it for longer than a week.
 
As a recommendation, wave the loading between Heavy-Light-Medium so that you can give you body some time to dissipate any accumulated fatigue. Go heavy as often as you can but don’t be afraid to have some easier workouts too.
 
Now the next time you find yourself in a pinch with only one a bar and some plates you’ll have some options.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

How to make progress: Part 5 – Variation

“You must change exercises frequently in your workouts to avoid stagnation, confuse your muscles!”
 
Well yes and no.
 
To adapt and overcome you need to have frequent exposure to a stimulus, the same stimulus in fact. that way your body will have time to fatigue, react and adapt, if you chop and change what you do too often then you won’t actually create the stress you need and as such not progress in the most optimal way.
 
Exercise variation is not a bad thing by any means, however you’ll find the most successful programs are the most boring because they don’t have too much variation, and the variation they do have has a direct correlation/crossover to their main/staple workout.
 
Let’s say you’re wanting bigger legs, how can you achieve this?
 
Squats would be the correct answer.
 
Lot’s of squats.
 
Now, what you will find is that your accessory movements (the ones you do after the meat and potatoes – squat) can have some variance to allow you to stave off boredom, however these would probably change every 3-6 weeks depending on your personality.
 
For example;
 
Lunges with a parrot dumbbells could become pistol squats with a kettlebell or even a split squat, so a similar movement patter with a different emphasis on the loading perimeters.
 
The main lift would stay the same because to cage that too often would cause lacklustre results.
 
It’s a common problem that people want novelty in their training all the time, and while there is nothing wrong with this it offers little to no results for the majority of people. Chances are you may know a person who does different things all the time and looks great, well you’re not them, they’re there exception and you don’t want to base how YOU respond on them because you’re not them, no matter how much you want to be.
 
Consistency is the key to progress, don;t change too much and if you have to make changes try to do so under the guise of ‘Same but different’ – this means a similar movement patter with perhaps a variant on loading, position of the bar, tempo etc.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

How to make progress: Part 4 – SRA (stimulus-recovery-adaptation)

Morning all,
 
We’re covered the first there parts – Specificity, Overload & Fatigue Management, it’s now time to look at who training sessions would ebb and flow to cause the necessary metabolic/hormonal disruption needed to elicit a response.
 
This will be linked to both the SAID & GAS models.
 
More on those here if you haven’t heard of them before –
 
 
 
So what does this mean?
 
It’s the training process.
 
You stress the body in your session via overload and correct intensity parameters so that you can train as hard as possible in as many sessions as possible, meaning you’re going to be towards the top end of your maximum recoverable volume.
 
If you’re pushing the envelope correctly, you will eventually need to deload the intensity/volume for perhaps a session or multiple sessions, this lower period of intensity will allow you to recover and achieve a small adaptation that adds to the overall progression you’re aiming for.
 
Now depending on your goal, how strong you are and the lifts you’re doing, each different lift or session will create more or less fatigue/stress, meaning a specific lift may need more time to recover than others which will effect overall frequency, heres an example:
 
– Heavy deadlifts 8×3 trained every 10 days
– Heavy squats 8×3 trained every 7 days
– Heavy presses 8×3 trained every 5 days
 
This would mean that the sessions in-between these ones might look like this:
 
– Medium deadlift accessory lifts 5×5 trained every 7 days
– Medium squats 5×5 trained every 5 days
– Medium presses 5×5 trained every 3 days
 
You can also then look at light sessions:
 
– Light deadlift accessory lifts 5×5 trained every 5 days
– Light squats 5×5 trained every 3 days
– Light presses 5×5 trained every other day
 
^^ These are only examples, but you get the idea.
 
What is happening is the cycling of loading parameters to allow for the highest amount of volume/intensity and frequency possible to keep your lifts progressing. As mentioned, this will differ depending on the lift, strength of the lifter, how many days they can train etc.
 
I can’t tell you what frequency you need, I can only give you this information so that you can apply it to your own training and see what best suits you and your goal.
 
This principle is something I’ve written about before, you might also have seen it written as Heavy-Light-Medium training.
 
Heavy = training on the nerve
Medium = the majority of your training
Light = helps accumulated fatigue dissipate to allow training/progress to continue
 
If you train three days per week you might hit full body each session and follow H-L-M to and find that is the best balance for you. That said, you might also find that instead of there being a weekly L session you might only need one or two of those every three weeks, meaning your days might look like this: H-M-M-L-H-L-M-M-M and so on.
 
If you need a technical term of where this falls in it would be the meso/microcycles of your training program.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

How to make progress: Part 3 – Fatigue Management

Okay, we’ve covered Specificity & Overload, the bases of the pyramid of progress. The next layer is a little more interesting and not always easy for people to achieve the right balance in.
 
As you know, training causes a stimulus via training stress, it is this stress that will cause the body to enter the alarm stage, then on to the resilience aspect, followed by fatigue – this is the point where you will need to take a logical step back (deload in training volume/intensity) so that your body can adapt – build new muscle and recover. Then you start the process again.
 
Why is this so hard?
 
It doesn’t sound hard, it sounds quite sensible really.
 
The reason is it hard for most is because they don’t track overall volume, well they don’t track anything to be fair and as a result they have no idea what stage of training their body is in or if they are training within their maximal recoverable volume (bulk volume), just over it (planned overreaching) or spinning their wheels (overtraining).
 
I can speak from experience that when you’re in the latter you don’t always know and when this happens you get frustrated, instead of backing up and taking your foot off the gas you floor it. You add more sessions, harder training, basically drive yourself in to the ground until something snaps, meaning said injury forces you to stop training.
 
Many great coaches suggest that three week loading patterns of intensity (pushing hard or even planned overreaching) followed by one week deload in volume/intensity is optimal for long term training as this allows accumulated fatigue to dissipate, then back to three weeks hard-ish again and repeat.
 
^^ I personally agree with this, 3 weeks hard, 1 week easy, repeat for as long as sustainable then take a week off, simples.
 
Managing fatigue isn’t easy.
 
You’ll get people like muggins here who just keep pushing, then you’ll have those who train once and scream that their adrenals are fatigued (these people train under their minimum effective dose for progress, as such they never progress at all).
 
There are several ways to know how your body is coping:
 
– Tracking your progress in sessions/food/performance, a decline in any means you’re possibly ready for a deload or total rest.
 
– Internal feeling; you’ve got to be careful with this one because you can over/underestimate your place in the scale depending on your personality.
 
– Have someone else track all the details for you and using experience to make an educated decision as to what you need.
 
Apart from the above you need to also make sure you have the following in your training routine:
 
– Sleep
– Avoiding excessive processed foods
– Reduce/avoid stressful event where possible
– Eat appropriately for your goal
– limiting training to 3-5 days per week can also help
 
As you can see this is a much scientific as it is holistic.
 
Use the advice above, track what you’re doing and keep t his simple rule in mind: If you’re still progressing, you’re recovering, if progress slows or stops completely then take a deload, a few days out of a rest week.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

Leave a comment

Filed under Fitness, Nutrition & Health

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