Tag Archives: training

Nothing fancy, just some options for people

3 Methods for your consideration.
 
One for strength, one for hypertrophy, one for fat loss.
 
All three are simple, sustainable and repeatable if you ever find yourself at a loss.
 
So, let’s get started.
 
Strength –
 
– Hit each muscle group 2-5 times per week
– 10-25 reps per lift
– Use a load of 85%+
– 3-5min rest
– A1/A2 jump sets resting 2min between each
– 2-4 lifts per workout
– Lower/Upper combination each workout
 
Example:
 
A1 – Deadlift 8×2
Rest
A2 – Press 8×3
Rest – repeat A1
 
Hypertrophy –
 
– Hit each muscle group 2-4 times per week
– 25-50 reps per left
– Use a load of 70-80%
– 90 seconds to 3 min rest
– Japanese Drop Set: 4×6 + 1×25 rep drop set
– 2-4 lifts per workout
– Legs-Pull-Push split
 
Example:
 
A1 – Bench Press 4x6x75kg,80kg, 85kg, 90kg
 
The first drop set is done at the weight you performed at your last set of 6 for as many reps as possible, once momentary muscle fail is hit drop the weight 5-10% and continue for another AMRAP, keep repeating this until you hit the 25 rep target.
 
Fat Loss –
 
– Hit each muscle group 2-3 times per week
– 20-50 reps per left
– Use a load of 60-70%
– <60 seconds rest
– 50-30-20, rep goals per exercise + 3 *Tabata finishers
– 3 lifts per workout
– Full Body
 
Example:
 
A1 – Dumbbell Clean & Press 5×10
Tabata
B1 – Inverted Row 3×10
Tabata
C1 – Squat 1×20
Tabata
 
* Tabata set up – 20 sec on, 10 sec off x 8 rounds – the choices of exercise are as follows: Swings, Sprints (rowing, run, cycle etc), Loaded carries, Battle ropes, etc.
 
All three of the methods above are simple, effective and can also work well if cycled together in small training blocks, for example: Strength,Hypertrophy, Strength, Fat Loss – using the numbers you hit in the Strength block to set the loads for the other two and so on.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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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

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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

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Too hard, too often.

It’s not unusual for those who love training to go a little hard at the gym leaving nothing left in the tank and while it might seem like they will make progress this way, following this route will often leave you broken and without meaningful progress.
 
It’s an easy place to fall in to.
 
Back when what would breed the training of today was originally becoming popular (1800’s) there were two main schools of though:
 
– Daily practice of heavy lifting, near done to failure
– Cycling heavy, light and medium sessions
 
Both provided solid foundations of strength and built great physiques, as such there is a lot that we can learn from these teaching.
 
When it comes to those who like to lift heavy and often, picking 1-3 movements is all you need per session (focusing on those 1-3 for an extended period of time is also advised), it’s imperative you make sure you’re stopping well short of failure, as such this will mean each set is of limited repetitions and there is multiple sets (to get in the required volume to grow), you’ll leave the session feeling strong and potentially like you could have done more, don’t do more.
 
This style of training on the nerve can be quite taxing is you start chasing fatigue instead of performance, remember, you don’t want to start feeling tried/drained, if you do that means you’ve done too much and need to stop.
 
Take a deload every 3rd or 4th week, it will keep you lifting for longer.
 
The second option suit itself to many different goals, the former is more of a strength/performance method.
 
The use of H-L-M training sessions is a great way to train because it will allow you to have one session with maximal intensity, one that focuses on recovery and the last one that allows you to put ins one well needed work on volume/reps.
 
Some in the modern age call this method DUP (daily undulating periodisation).
 
The hardest thing about cycling is the temptation to make each session super hard and that’s not the idea, the light session is designed to let fatigue dissipate, hence why having it between the heavy and medium is ideal. You can also base your volume numbers off of your heavy day, for example:
 
H – worked up to a top set of 5
L – sets of 10 to increase blood flow and practice movement
M – 80% of the top 5 on heavy day for volume work to failure
 
You’d be surprised how well this works on either full body or split styles of training. The rep options you have for this are endless depending on your goal.
 
The reason the styles of method lost some favour over the years is because they didn’t fit in with the trend of ‘more is better’, it’s worth remembering that often times more is rarely better, it’s just more.
 
If you’re a little lost in your training give one of these a try, you’ll find not going for broke each session will not only keep you lifting longer but also give you focus and much needed progress.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How to make progress: Part 2 – Overload

After the last post you know the importance of having a goal and numbers to go with said goal, next up is something a great many don’t achieve in their training.
 
In each session, or at the very minimum over time, you need to lift more than you did perviously so that you force the muscles to adapt, pretty simple.
 
The overload aspect of training is something that can easily be planned out and can happen in a great many ways, however regardless of which way you decide to achieve this you’ll find in the end these two factors will have increased:
 
– Total volume
– Intensity
 
It’s not uncommon to see people lifting the same weights for the same reps day in, day out and wonder why they don’t make any progress (it’s because they’re not stimulating the muscles and achieving overload).
 
With all the options, which is best?
The silent answer is this; the one that you can keep doing because it doesn’t bore you.
 
Perhaps a cop out answer however it’s a relevant one because with adherence and consistency nothing will work and you need to achieve progressive overload over a period of time to keep progressing, here are some examples:
 
– Linear progression with fractions plates: add 0.5kg each session, keep reps/set the same.
 
– Weekly undulating periodisation: (example weights) week1 5x5x100kg, week2 6x4x105kg, week3 8x3x110kg, use a heavier weight each week, then after 3 weeks go back to 5×5 and use a heavier weight than before.
 
– Rep/set progression: 3-5×6-12, start at 3×6, add a rep each session until you hit 3×12, then add a set and repeat until 4×12 is hit, then do it again until 5×12 is hit, then add weight and start it all over again.
 
As you can see, three simple yet very effective methods of achieving overload and while boring they work.
 
The biggest issue we face is that people want constant novelty in their training and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, it can make overload hard to achieve if you don’t know what you’re doing.
 
Truth be told, you’ll find the most effective programs are usually the most boring.
 
Take a look at your training, do you achieve overload?
 
If you’re making progress then the answer is yes, if it’s no the you’re not, it’s that simple.
 
The key to progression is progression, find anyway to do more than you did.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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How to make progress, part 1: Specificity

It might seem obvious that needing a goal is key for making progress, however there are a lot of people who fail to set one, especially a specific one with trackable numbers.
 
You might there of people saying things like:
 
“I want to get bigger.”
 
“I want to lose weight.”
 
And so on.
 
While those are goals they’re not specific ones, and you’ll no doubt hear of people who never set specific goals because they don’t need to, however you’re not one of those people (the genetically gifted or PED users), you need specifics to make progress.
 
Having a designated goal based on a number will allow you the opportunity to reverse engineer your path to it and help you set weekly targets and the necessary steps to success.
 
Take this example:
 
Goal – Bench Press 140kg
Current standard – 120kg bench press
Required progress – 20kg increase in strength
Time frame – 12 months 1-1-17:1-1-18
 
Looking at this you’d be able to see that you will need to add around 1.6kg per month to your bench each month.
 
You will also then be abel to establish the correct training periods necessary to achieve this goal (Hypertrophy, Strength, Peaking etc). Wether this is hitting absolute weight increase on the bar, rep increases such as taking your current 3RM and making it your new 6RM, total increased volume and so on, you can plan out clear route for progress.
 
Now I don’t care who claims they don’t need to do this because almost every successful athlete in the world of strength sports trains this way and the reason for it is simple; it works.
 
In short, having a specific goal will help you actually achieve something, without one you might progress, you might not. The overbearing amount of people int he gym who don’t change their body composition, incase strength or achieve anything is proof enough, it’s up to you to decide if you want to be one of them or one of the successful ones.
 
Part two will be overload.
 
Until then, write down your goals, be specific and make a plan.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Not made progress in a while?

A lack of progress can be frustrating.
 
It is also something that’s extremely common among a great many people who frequently visit the gym.
 
The biggest question should be why, which would then be swiftly followed by some reflective thought on the matter.
 
Taking the time to look back at your training/nutrition can give you a great insight in to why progress has ground to a halt or potentially even slipped backwards.
 
Here is what you might find:
 
– Training volume hasn’t increased
– Training volume has increased too much
– Intensity hasn’t increased
– Intensity has increased too much
– You’re under eating
– You’re over eating
 
Basically you will know that something is to right because progress has stopped, how you use this information is what will make the difference between getting the ball rolling again and staying where you are.
 
I’ve seen plenty of people spin their wheels when they stop moving forwards. They assume that they must keep doing everything they were doing, in addition to adding in new stimuli and I can tell you from painful experience that this is not a winning formula.
 
If we look at the hierarchy of things this is what we get (in regards to training), most important to least important:
 
– Specificity
– Overload
– Fatigue Management
– Stimulus:Recovery:Adaptation
– Variation
– Phase Potentiation
– Individual Difference
 
What do they all mean?
 
– Are you doing what you need to be doing for your goal
– Are you taking the muscles to the point they require a need to adapt
– Are you doing the right amount of work (not too much)
– Are you sure you’re doing the first 3?
– Extra options on exercises to help progress
– Peaking & periodisation
– Some individual tweaks for you to be 100% on it
 
Most people spend a lot of time in the latter end of this list which is why they don’t really progress. This is the minutia, the first three points are the majority and need the most attention.
 
Have you ever said or heard someone say this: “I just don’t know what to do in my workout” – progress is sadly very dull, fancy exercise variations are no substitute for overload (increasing volume, intensity, density, frequency), yet if people don’t get novel stimulus to appease their short attention span they feel the workout is useless, they couldn’t be more wrong.
 
I’m going to cover each of the principles above in detail over the upcoming posts, if you can’t wait hat long I suggest buying the book ‘The Scientific Principles of Strength Training’ you’ll get this information there too.
 
Nutrition will be covered as well.
 
Before we go toady I’m going to ask you to do something, not for me but for yourself.
 
Look back at your training in recent times, have you been doing what you NEED to be doing, honestly?
 
Take some time to reflect and assess what’s going on.
 
More info tomorrow.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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A complex string of events

Stringing exercises together one after the other with the same piece of kit if known, no rest and not putting said kit down is often known as a complex.

You can do them with dumbbells, barbells and a personal favourite, kettlebells.

Here are three short kettlebell complexes to hit the entire body and build strength, lean mass and strip fat (provided calorie requirements are also correct).

Each complex is done with 2 kettlebells.

Push Complex:

– Clean
– Press
– Push Press
– Jerk

Start off with one rep of each, then two, then three, aim to work up to 5 without stopping. 3-5 rounds of this will help create an impressive upper body, increase the weight of the bells by 4kg once you can do 5 rounds of 1-5 unbroken.

Pull Complex:

– Swing
– Swing to Pull (pull elbows towards hips)
– Clean
– Snatch

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Leg Complex:

– Clean
– Squat
– Lunge (any variation of your choice)
– Rack Tip-Toe Walk or Rack Walk

Reps, sets and progression as above.

Now this could be one workout three times per week, several smaller workouts during the day (morning, afternoon, evening) or a short 10-20min workout for each day depending on your commitments and available time to train.

This style of training is one that lends itself well to daily practice (push day, pull day, leg day, repeat works well).

These are by no means the only options, they’re just simple ones to get you started, you’ll find some great complexes in the writing of Dan John.

Give them a go.

Enjoy,
Ross

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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

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Level Up

What level of training are you currently at?
 
Beginner
Intermediate
Advanced
 
Or more importantly, which one do you see your self falling in to because there are a lot who try to take on routines that are above their capability to sustain and recover from.
 
We’ve all been guilty of trying to punch above out weight at some point and while it can be sustained for a brief period it’s never too long before the wheels fall off the wagon and things start to go wrong.
 
Here are some common mistakes encountered:
 
– A large increase in volume
– Higher levels of intensity
– More frequency
– Inappropriate specificity
– Variable training density progression
 
The thought process of the many is that ‘more is better’ when in fact it’s just more, better is better and that usually means progression and individual specificity.
 
When it comes to establishing what level of training you’re actually at that is where things get a little tricky because it will depend on what you’re training for.
 
Most of the time it’s said that anyone who’s trained less than 2 years is a beginner, 3-5 is an intermediate and more than this is advanced, however I feel that is a very flawed approach because unless progression has been achieved in each year then you could get someone who has been ‘training’ for 10 years and still fall in to the realms of a beginner.
 
To determine where you sit you’ll want to look at these elements:
 
– Strength levels in compound movements
– VO2 Max
– Skills
– Progress achieved
 
You might be advanced in some, beginner in others, it happens. The ones you want to access unwell be those that are specifically suited to helping you achieve your goal.
 
Let’s take bodybuilding as the example and see what makes and advanced practitioner.
 
Have you achieved the following:
 
– A notable increase in lean body mass (20+ lbs from starting)
– Visible abs and residual muscle definition all year round
– Aesthetic change to your body
– High level of muscular control (feeling each of the muscles working when training them)
– Optimally proportioned symmetry, no chicken legs.
– Basically you look jacked an tan
 
If you’ve got all of those then the chances are you’re someone who would be considered advanced, at the very least a high level intermediate.
 
The style of training that would come along with this may fall in to the realms of high volume, moderate intensity with a body training split for higher frequency. Then you’d have the nutrition which would allow full recovery and progress.
 
If a beginner tried to jump on this they’d fail to make progress simply because it would be to much for their underdeveloped body to take on.
 
Make sense?
 
Take a look at your training and honestly assess your ability because you might be doing a routine that is simply too advanced for you and that’s why you’re struggling to make progress.
 
I say this because I’ve been there, don’t make that same mistake.
 
Earn your stripes, have a coach who will help you level up and don’t be in a rush to become advanced just to please your ego.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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