Tag Archives: training

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.

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Morning Meditation & Introspection

Introspection is a great thing.
It can help uncover a multitude of things that can help us let go of that which weighs us down and move forwards.
Is it something you practice?
Morning All,
Taking the time to examine ones self is a worthy practice.
You’ll start to see past a lot of your own bullshit and just knowing that is in of itself something that will make you smile.
To be honest and call out your own rubbish is a sure fire way to remove your current barriers and start to plan a progressive path forwards.
This can be done in relation to fitness, nutrition, general life and much more.
A great way to start this off is by spending 5min in silence with nothing but your own reflective thoughts based on this question:
Why do I tell myself & others (insert your own plight).
Once you’ve given that some thought, write down your conclusions as to what good that thought is doing you and why you would want to allow yourself to house that thought and verbally repeat it to people as an excuse for what ever reason you do.
Do this just once per day, then move on and continue with what ever else you have to do.
You might find out some rather interesting things about yourself.
Then, when you are ready –
Acknowledge, accept & let it go.

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Words of Old

“If you can’t work hard enough in 2 sessions, why do you feel you can do better with 6?”

^^ That made me think.

In a world where more is seen as better, and in certain circumstances it is 100% true, however that might not be the case for your training in the gym.

Recently the writings of one Marty Gallagher have found their way in to my library once again.

He speaks a very similar message to that of Brooks Kubik, Kirk Karwoski, Ed Coan and many other strong individuals who each champion not only focus, tracking your numbers to ensure increasing volume, but also putting in a solid effort in your main training sessions, then taking your foot of the gas when you have deload weeks.

It’s easy to get caught running through the motions when it comes to lifting weights.

This is in fact very easy, so much so that many of us may have even been in this place for years unknowingly.

A scary thought.

One good way to know if you’re there is to ask yourself this simple question – When was the last time you made progress?

That progress could be in the form of better form, more weight on the bar, an aesthetic goal, it doesn’t matter, what is important is when did you last make progress, real progress.

As fitness enthusiasts we often get caught between the proverbial rock and hard place, unable to escape it, often for fear of losing what we have, if we’re not doing what we’re doing.

Surely you could get better results only doing 2-3 sessions per week, you’d be silly to keep doing 6+, right?


However many will not change their ways, they can’t, it’s too hard and the fear of loss kicks in. I’ve been there, it’s a terrible pace to be.

If we are to look back at some of the strongest people over they years they seemed to train at most, 4 days per week.

In this time they hit each muscle group twice (due to exercise cross over).

Now as mentioned above and in the writings of old, 2-3 sessions per week was more than enough to make solid progress on, especially at the level most of us are at (not world champion lifters).

So why do more for the sake of it?

Ask yourself these questions:

– Am I making progress?
– When was my last PB?
– Do I need to do more, really?
– Is my recovery 100%?
– Are each of my sessions focused?
– Could I be doing too much?

Just some food for thought.

If you fancy a good read give the Purposeful Primitive some of your time, you won’t regret it.


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Have we all gone soft?

“People just don’t train hard anymore. Well, I guess there are still some gyms that promote a ‘oust yourself’ mentality, but of most that’d just not the case.”
A very interesting sentence that has stuck with me one the last few days.
Morning All,
Looking back through an old training diary there was one entry that got me thinking:
A1 Deadlift – 12x2x190kg
B1 Rows – 3×6-8 – last set to technical failure – 80,90,100kg
B2 Revser Flies – 3×8-12 as B1 – 10,12,14kg
C1 Chins 50 reps – as few sets as possible
Even on paper that is a hard session.
Skip forward to an entry from the last couple of weeks on a comparable day:
A1 Press 5×1-2-3 – 60,62,65,67,70kg
A2 Deadlift 5×1-2-3 – 170,172,175,177,180kg
Again on paper it still looks reasonably formidable, however it doesn’t seem anywhere near as hard when put next to the former.
What’s happened?
Has training gotten easier?
Perhaps the trainee has gotten softer and gone backwards, rather than forwards in their progression.
While we can’t go balls to the wall every session, there needs to be ‘punch the card’ sessions where you go in, do what you need to do and leave, yet they should still be of substance.
Each session should still have a solidly defined purpose and be executed with conviction.
Do you consider yourself someone who puts in a good effort every session, or do you simply go through the motions?
Many do the latter and their progress shows it.
Certainly food for thought.

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Same yet Different, Part 3

You’ve been given movement patterns and correlated lifts.

Potential rep goals with varied rep ranges/protocols.

Today it’s time for the third piece of the puzzle that is –

Same yet different.

Morning All,

If you’ve been taking the time to write down each element as requested to, you should find that things are starting to form what some call a ‘matrix’ where you can select from and create multiple variations of this lifting philosophy.

The third and final part, it’s easy yet hard.

You must listen to your body and be honest with yourself.

The matrix you’ve now cerated will provide all the potential variation you need.

Unfortunately the tricky part will be consistency and allowing yourself to enjoy the training.

This is one common flaw I see in a lot of programs.

People just don’t like them.

Many will assume that doing the latest fad, or copying someone else will work just as well for them, and sometimes it does until it doesn’t.

Making progress isn’t easy.

It’s even harder if you loath your training.

The premise behind ‘same yet different’ is simply to let you know that there’s options and if you don’t enjoy something you can change it if you truly feel you need to.

Nothing is set it stone, even Caliburn.

You might think that everything you’ve read so far just doesn’t gel with you and that’s great if you do.

Just be honest with yourself, your goal and your training.

Of course if you give the above a fair chance you’ll find it works rather well and gives you plenty of opportunity to progress.

The choice is yours.


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Not your normal week

If you’re not bound by the standard working week, work in 5 day blocks.
Most people fit their training around their life, which is totally cool, however if you have the luxury or not being bound by such then you’d do well to follow this advice.
Or you can take the initiative and make this work :).
Working in 5 day blocks will increase your rate of progress.
Exponentially so.
Out of those 5 days you will want to train 3 of them.
You could go for a simple Pull-Push-Legs or a 2 body part per workout split, well you can do what you choose really.
When you train 3 out of 5 days it gives you the following:
– Increased frequency (hits each muscle every 3-5 days)
– Better recovery
– More variety
– Faster progression
– Improved adherence
Here is who it might look:
Day 1 – Pull Day
Day 2 – Push Day
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Legs Day
Day 5 – Off
Alternatively you might enjoy something along these lines:
Day 1 – Chest & Back
Day 2 – Legs
Day 3 – Off
Day 4 – Shoulders & Back (Deadlift on this day)
Day 5 – Off
There are a lot of variations and options.
To get the most out of these I would follow one of the following two loading parameters –
– Accumulation & Intensification
– Heavy (Intensity), Light (Recovery), Medium (Volume)
The former will work in the follow constituent:
20 days (4mini blocks) of Acc – 4x12x70%
20 days of Int – 4x6x80%
Acc – 5x10x72%
Int – 5x5x82%
Acc – 6x8x75%
Int – 6x4x85%
Acc – 8x6x77%
Int – 8x3x87%
Optional deload*
Acc – 2x12x70% – original weight
New block –
Acc – 4x12x72%
Int – 4x6x82%
And so on.
The other is similar yet different.
Heavy = 8×2
Light = 5×10
Medium = 6×4-6
You’d find the blocks may look like this:
D1 – H, D2 – L, D3 – Off, D4 – M, D5 – Off
D1 – L, D2 – M, D3 – Off, D4 – H, D5 – Off
D1 – M, D2 – H, D3 – Off, D4 – L, D5 – Off
Then you’re back to the start, so this is a 15day rotation.
The rep options can change depending on your goal, nothing is set in stone, just make sure you have a clear goal.
Again, just options for you if you’re lucky enough to not need to bow to the routine of the working week. .

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A complex situation.

We’ve discussed the benefits of complexes before.

Linking several exercises together without rest forces a great metabolic demand on the body, not to mention it ramps up the oxygen debt you get overall.

They are also useful for putting on slabs of muscle due to their amount of TUT that is required to complete them, think metabolic stress/mechanical tension hypertrophy triggers.

So if they are so great, why don’t people do them?

A great question, with a simple answer.

They’re horrible.

Soul crushingly horrible.

Take for example this humble barbell variation:

A1 – Squat
A2 – Push Press
A3 – Row
A4 – RDL
A5 – Shrug* Optional

– 6-8 reps of each movement
– 120-180 seconds rest after each round
– repeat 3-5 times

Or this one with dumbbells:

A1 – Renegade Row
A2 – Clean & Press
A3 – Squat
A4 – Lunge
A5 – Shrug* Optional

You see, horrid.

They will often leave you gasping for breath, burning from head to toe and wishing that wasn’t the first set.

If your training has become dull then an infusion of these can make all the difference.

You can plan full body complexes or focus them on specific movement patterns –

– Push
– Pull
– Hinge
– Squat
– Carries

A pushing one might look like this:

Double Kettlebell – 3-5 reps, 3-5 rounds.

A1 – Press
A2 – Push Press
A3 – Push Jerk
A4 – Waiter Walk
A5 – Farmers Walk* Optional

(if single kettlebell do all on one arm and replace farmers walk with turkish get up, then rest, then swap arms)

Simple, yet, horrid.

If your overall goal isn’t one of a pure aesthetic endeavour then I wouldn’t waste your time with too much isolation work, 1-2 movements per workout is enough for that.

Training, a complex situation indeed.


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Gem 1

I finished reading a coupe of good books this weekend.

Once again clarity of training thought has been restored.

Along with various stones getting uncovered to reveal knowledge.

Given this fact I thought I’d share some of the little gems over the next few days for those who are perhaps a tad up in the air with their training currently.

Gem 1 – Manipulation of reps for optimal strength gains.

*If you want the short version skip to the end*

The reps you choose will dictate not only the weight you use but also the overall training stimulus.

Optimally if you’re aiming for size/strength then you’ll be looking at utilising sets of 1RM-12RM (100%-70% – typically, this can change as one gets stronger and it also changes exercise to exercise).

Each rep you add increases the intensity of loading by roughly around 2.5%, although as mentioned this can differ once people get stronger or in those who have a high degree of training pure neural drive/facilitation – e.g. powerlifters.

Now we should all know this, however we’re all guilty of going in and hitting the same set/rep ranges day in day out with little to know variation.

This is why many of us stagnate.

The most optimal way to train is with varied rep/set ranges in blocks of accumulation/intensification as this means you can overload your systems, rest-recover-adapt and repeat.

If strength/size is your goal, well, actually if you have any goal really, you need to wave the volume/intensity.

For example:

7x5RM will elicit a very different physiological response to that of doing 4x9RM given the total loads lifted will be drastically different in terms of intensity, even though volume is equated.

For starters you’ve got more MUA (motor unit activation) in higher loads 1-5RM has been shown to offer the most bang for your buck in this regard.

When it comes to training the more of the muscle you can recruit the more benefit you’re likely to get.

Yet staying with one for too long will only lead to stagnation and potently overtraining. Especially with loads of that magnitude.

The energy systems used will vary as well, so Anaerobic Alactic 1-5RM, Anaerobic Lactic 6-12RM and Aerobic 13-20RM to briefly touch on that.

^^ It’s wroth looking into further if you are curious.

Rest periods will also be different which will further change the hormonal response of the body for example, resting 60-90 seconds has been shown to have a positive effect on growth hormone production, while 3-5min has been shown to have a greater effect on testosterone levels.

So apart from obvious intensity differences what else is going on?

If you load with a sub maximal weight you will find the MUA is lower and will take far more time to achieve as you will need to ramp up the volume to provide the fatigue necessary to achieve full recruitment of the muscle.

While not a bad way to go it can lead to burn out rather quickly if your recovery is not on the nose (I speak from experience).

Or you can simply warm up and lift heavier loads for repeated efforts instead and get a better response with less overall volume, to a degree, there’s always a caveat to these things.

You can’t do the above forever, more on that later.

Given what I’ve just written here is a little technique you can utilise a nice little trick of the body to make sure you’re firing from all cylinders from the get go, here is how you may do it:

Intensification Block Protocol – Rest pause sets:

Ramp to a heavy 1RM for the day
Rest 15 seconds & drop 2.5%
Do one rep using 97.5%
Rest 15 seconds & drop 2.5%
Do one rep using 95%
Rest 15 seconds & drop 2.5%
Do one rep using 92.5%
Rest 15 seconds & drop 2.5%
Do one rep using 90%
Rest 3-5 min & repeat for 3-5 sets

Now this would work well being punt in an antagonistic super-set A1-A2 – Bench Press – Weighted Chin up.

This means you’d do A1 using the entire RP protocol, rest 3min then do A2 followed by another 3min rest, then back to A1 for 3-5 sets.

That would be your entire workout for the morning, you’d potentially pop back later in the day for some accessory work at 4-6×6-8RM for a couple more pairings.

You would also use this for perhaps 2 week blocks of a toal of 3-4 sessions depending on your training age, recoverability and overall fatigue management.

Apologies, I’ve waffled a tad (as I do).

So what does this jumble of information mean for you?

In short it is this:

*Vary your rep ranges for the best possible gains.*

Here is a quick example of how to wave the rep/set for some decent gains:

Week 1-2: Int – 3-5x5RM
Week 3-4 Acc – 4-6×6-8RM
Week 5-6: Int – 3-5x4RM
Week 7-8 Acc – 4-6×5-7RM
Week 9-10: Int – 3-5x3RM
Week 11-12 Acc – 4-6×4-6RM

Again this is all info you can find if you do enough digging.

The above is one example, you literally have hundreds of methods to utilise, so why stick with just the same ones when you can learn more and optimise your training, eh?

How do you plan yours or your clients reps/set protocols and how often do you wave them?

In fact how much have you read in to this?

It’s something I’m learning more about as the days go on, there is almost no end to the nuances involved, yet it’s certainly fun learning about them and WHY things work the way they do.

Such a nerd, 😂


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Volume & Intensity with a twist.

Lift a lot while also lifting heavy too.

Morning All,

I had a random thought last night while staring out of the window after reading some rather interesting information about knee alignment.

They had nothing to do with knees.

The thoughts were of a potential protocol for you to consider if you’re looking for something a little different than incorporates both volume & intensity.

Here is the premise:

– 2-4 exercises per session (2 compound, 1-2 accessory*)
– Compound focus
– *1-2 Accessory lifts (isolation), time providing

Rep/Loading Schemes
– 5-3-2 x75%
– 1-1-1 x85%

– None between rep sets: 5-1-3-1-2-1-rest
– 3-5min after each fully complete set
– Repeat for 5 rounds

You will find this gives you 50 reps at 75% 1RM on one lift and a solid 15 at 85% on the other.

It will seem easy on paper, however it’s not.

The overall idea is to progress and you can do so in the following ways on the main two lifts:

– Add in extra waves (volume progression)
– Increase load (intensity progression)
– Reduce rest periods (density progression)

Just ensure progress is being made

There is nothing unique or special about this, it’s just playing with intensity ranges on the single rep lift.

You might set something up along these lines (based on typically week):

Day 1 –
A1 – Squat 5×5-3-2×75%
A2 – Press 5×1-1-1×85%
B1 – Chin 6×6-8
B2 – Lateral Raise 6×10-12

Day 2 –
A1 – Bench 5×5-3-2×75%
A2 – DL 5×1-1-1×85%
B1 – Barbell Row 5×10
B2 – Hamstring Curl 5×12

Day 3 – Off

Day 4 –
A1 – Press 5×5-3-2×75%
A2 – Squat 5×1-1-1×85%
B1 – Pull Up 6×6-8
B2 – Lunge 6×10-12

Day 5 – Off

Day 6 –
A1 – DL 5×5-3-2×75%
A2 – Bench 5×1-1-1×85%
B1 – Barbell Row 5×10
B2 – Dips 5×12

Day 7 – Off

If you didn’t have time to do the accessory lifts you may end up with the following acceptable tweaks:

Day X – Option 1
A1 – Squat 5×5-3-2×75%
A2 – Press 5×1-1-1×85%

Day X – Option 2
A1 – Squat 5×5-3-2×75%
A2 – Press 5×1-1-1×85%
A3 – Accessory Lift – reps between 4-6

Of course you don’t have to use the lifts above, you can use any variation of the lift, instead of deadlift you might use Snatch Grip Deficit Deadlift, instead of Bench you might use Incline Press, and so on.

You get the idea.

Something worth remembering is that the single reps lifts all want to be done with crisp form, there is no sense in being a hero.

My advise would be to pick your lifts and milk them as long as you possibly can, or stick with them for at least 8-12week minimum.

As you can see there is plenty of scope for progression.

If it’s not for you then that’s cool, if you fancy giving it a go, just be sure to stick with it for the prescribed time above, ideally longer.


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6-10 week protocol to a new PB for you & your clients – new twist on a classic.

If you’re not interested in hitting some new PB’s, that’s cool, feel free to skip reading this.

Let’s say you are interested though, keep reading.

Below you’ll find a simple protocol to help you improve on one or multiple lifts.

This is not something you’d find in body building very often, it’s for people who chase strength.

The information in question is a favourite of many a Russian athlete oddly enough and one I’ve done many times to hit new heights.

I first learnt of this from reading older writing by Dr Fred Hatfield, if you’ve not read any of his books you should, they’re amazing resources.

As you may have guessed I quite like the Russian methodology.

Here is the premise:

– 80% 1RM is starting load, 105% is the end game
– Double Progression is applied
– Intensity is increased incrementally
– Train a 2-3 times per week
– Rest as needed
– Stay tough and you’ll reap the rewards
– Don’t get greedy, follow the protocol

This is how the classic program looks based on 3 days training per week (Mon-Wed-Fri or Tue-Thur-Sat):

*All 6x sets are at 80% 1RM, % changes will be listed below.

^^ If you don’t know yours or your clients 1RM, use an RM calculator to establish an estimated one and go from there.

Week 1
– 6x2x80% 1RM*
– 6×3* (the volume progression begins)
– 6×2*

Week 2
– 6×4*
– 6×2*
– 6×5*

Week 3
– 6×2*
– 6×6*
– 6×2*

Week 4
– 5x5x85% 1RM
– 6×2*
– 4x4x90%

Week 5
– 6×2*
– 3x3x95%
– 6×2*

Week 6
– 2x2x100% (old 1RM)
– 6×2*
– 1x1x105% (aim for a new 1RM)

Week 7 Deload

Congratulations, a new PB to help you drive up old RM’s and add some much sought after muscle/strength.

Thats the typical way to do it, however if you’re short on time then this  may be of use.

The new twist for those short on time –

If you with to do this twice per week the cycle will end up being 10 weeks long (9 with the last being a deload).

Week 1
– 6×2*
– 6×3*

Week 2
– 6×4*
– 6×2*


Week 9 – Week 10 Deload
– 6×2*
– 1x1x105% (aim for new 1 RM)

From experience you can pair two lifts together when doing this and PB on both so long as they don’t interfere with each other.

It’s also good because you get a heavy day and a light day each week meaning you can really go for it each heavy session as it makes the overall progression far more manageable.

For example:

DL & Press (or weighted dip)
Squat & Pull Up
Bench Press & Row

You’ll find that some token accessory work of say 30 reps per accessory lift is enough to help the other lifts keep up and maintain some form of muscular balance.

Here is how I planned my sessions using the twice per week training schedule. I was forced to train this way because of upcoming events and life doing what it does best, however I hit new numbers and intact made progress.

Sometimes less really is more.

Lifting Day 1 & 2:
A1 – DL – sets/reps as above
B1 – Press – sets/reps as above
B2 – Chin – 5 reps each set
C1 – Squat 1×10-20

  • I would add in perhaps some postural work and make a few sets for smaller muscle groups if I had time
  • You can also add in some CV training (sprints etc) a couple of times per week that don’t require you going to a gym

The funny thing with this is it’s so simple people will ignore it.

We live in a world where people think that unless they’ve destroyed themselves they haven’t had a good training session.

This is not true.

Especially when you look at MRV (maximum recoverable volume) vs MED (minimal effective dose), however that’s for another day.

Give the above a go and see how you fair.



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