Tag Archives: weakness

5 Things you can learn from labourers.

Especially those of the past (before the endless red tape came in to play), you know the ones, they seem have that coveted ‘old man strength’ or ‘dad strength’ as some call it.
 
These are they type of people that have never visited a gym, ever, yet they are in reasonably good shape, which might be a bit better if they laid of the beer.
 
That said, they are often strong, stupidly strong, not to mention durable and just mentally tough too.
 
A far cry from he modern desk jockey of today.
 
We’d be silly not to pay homage to these people and their work ethic as we can learn a lot from them.
 
So, let’s see what little gems we can find amongst the dirt and rubble.
 
1 – Work capacity is important.
 
Take for example the necessity to shift a few tonnes of gravel or slate in the space of a day.
 
You’re not going to be able to do this without having the following: Strength Endurance, General CV Endurance, Mental Fortitude.
 
Not to mention shifting it isn’t an option, it’s a must, that helps too.
 
2 – The muscle in the back of your body are important.
 
Look at anyone who works in a physical capacity and you will find that most of them usually have a decent set of muscle through their posterior chain.
 
This is due to a lot of loaded carries, full/partial deadlifts, holding things close to their chest and pulling things towards them and/or putting them on their shoulders (like a rope, buckets, barrels etc).
 
Without a strong back they wouldn’t be much good on site.
There were also many times where something would need to be picked up from the floor and put overhead too, without the use of equipment, all day long as well. Talk about a full body workout.
 
3 – They do what they HAVE to, no pissing or whinging.
 
Well, some whinge however they still crack on in the end, after a tea break or 5.
 
Do what is needed, simple.
 
4 – Cast iron grip strength.
 
Have you ever shook the hand of a mechanic or someone who constantly works with their hands?
 
God damn… It’s like a vice.
 
Once the have hold of something that’s pretty much it, they’re not letting go unless they have too.
 
Have you ever shifted tonnes of dirt in a wheel barrow all day?
 
(It’s essentially a day of partial deadlifts and farmers walks)
 
It’s grudging and apart form a strong back, traps, glutes and legs you need some major grip strength/endurance because without it you’ll fall behind and find yourself out of work.
 
5 – Repeatedly lifting Sub-Maximal loads build muscle.
 
You see some labourers that are giants, other not so much.
 
So why is this?
 
What is the difference between the two?
 
Some would say genetics, and they’re not entirely wrong, however knowing a great many people in this field I can tell you the MAIN difference is the sheer amount of FOOD they consume.
 
Those that eat like little mice, become lean, strong and robust, where are those that eat like elephants become sizeable, strong and look physically quite dominant.
 
This is all caused by a combination of the repeated bout effect (lifting sub max loads often) and of course calories consumed.
 
So there you have it.
 
People in the past were just stronger due to the physical nature of their lives – true for both men & women.
 
Keep that in mind.
 
5 things you can learn from labourers and hopefully apply.
 
Enjoy,
Ross
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Swing for the win!

I love a good old kettlebell swing, don’t you?
 
It hits the majority of your muscles in your posterior chain, improves your core bracing, your grip strength, firms up your glutes and strips fat like there’s no tomorrow.
 
Yep, swings are great
 
The 10,000 swing 4 week program
 
Have you ever done it?
 
I first learnt of this from reading the fine writings of Dan John, his work/writing worth looking up if you haven’t already done so.
 
Here is how it works:
 
– 500 swings a day (50-30-20 x5 rounds)
– feel free to add in one strength movement of 3-5 reps in-between each set of swings (50 swing – 3-5 presses, 30 swings – 3-5 presses etc)
– perform this 5 days per week
 
Simple enough, right?
 
While it may indeed be simple it’s far from easy as it requires a rather large amount of both physical and mental fortitude to stick at.
 
If you saw it through to the end you’d find you stripped fat, added a nice amount of lean muscle and and built a cast iron grip.
 
The mistake many people make with this is using a kettlebell that is way too heavy from the start, this leads to things getting difficult very quickly.
 
My advice would be for ladies to grab a 12kg kettlebell and for the gents to start with a 16kg, even if that isn’t anywhere near what you currently swing, I know some ladies that are chucking around a 32kg for sets of 15-20 solid swings, however it;s not a good idea to go in that heavy, trust me, you’ll thank me by week 2.
 
Depending on your experience level you could scale this protocol, which personally I’d advise, and start off with say 5000 total swings (this means 25-15-10 x5 rounds, 5 days per week).
 
You may even want to start off at 2500 swings in month one (125 swings 5 days per week).
 
Then 5000 in month 2 (250 swings per day, 5 days per week).
 
On to 7500 in month 3 (375 swings per day, 5 days per week).
 
Finally go for 10,000 in month 4 (500 swings per day, 5 days a week), it’s entirely up to you.
 
^^ I’d aim to keep the set up of:
 
X swings- 3/5 strength- X swings – 3/5 strength – X swings -3/5 strength -rest, repeat 5 times
 
You’ll just need to break down how many swings that will be each set in the 2500/7500 months.
 
Pick a kettlebell that you can handle, and build ups o that 10,000 target. If you choose to do it over the 4 months, you’ll have something to stick to, just make sure you change up the strength movement to add in some variety.
 
I’d suggest the following movement patterns:
 
– Pushing (press, bench, dip etc)
– Pulling (chin, row, high pull etc)
– Squat (FS, SQ, Lunge etc)
– Loaded carry (bear hug variation)
 
Deadlifting in this time might not be advised, however it’s your choice if you want to do it or not.
 
If you’ve found yourself a little lost then this might be the protocol you need, you can always feel free to crack straight on with the 10,000 swings from the start, just being with a much lighter bell and perhaps work up to your standard shining weight over the next 3-6 months.
 
*It’d be worth taking a few days off perhaps at the end of each block of 10,000, no sense in crippling yourself just so that you start each month on the 1st.
 
Give it a go and enjoy,
Ross

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Some simple tests to try

Movement.
 
It’s kind of really popular now.
 
Like really popular.
 
However before you can move on to all the fancy stuff, form a lifters perspective, can you do the basics?
 
Squat-Hinge-Push-Pull-Brace
 
Most think they can
 
The truth is many can’t
 
Here is a simple yet effective movement screen I use with clients to assess their ability and see what we need to work on.
 
My basic movement screen is as follows:
 
– Standing on 1 Leg (eyes open, then closed)
– Goblet Squat
– BW Hinge (double leg & single leg)
– Press Up
– Bat Wing
– Floor or Wall Angle
– Plank
 
What do the above actually assess or do?
 
Let’s take a look.
 
Standing on 1 Leg (eyes open, then closed): Aim for 30 seconds without any movement with your eyes closed.
 
Balance/proprioception/posture 
 
Goblet Squat: Aim for a full ROM with no upper thoracic collapse.
 
The ability to stay braced and maintain upper thoracic extension/stability while achieving a full flexion of the hip/knee, it also highlights ankle/foot stability/mobility issues (weigh shifting, heels lifting etc)
 
– BW Hinge ( start with double leg & then single leg): Aim for a full hip hinge while maintaining solid posture, no rounding or loss of balance.
 
Full hip hinge while maintaining core bracing, natural posture, proprioception and stability.
 
– Press Up: Aim for full press-up with no break in form (elbows tight to sides, bum pinched.
 
Bracing, posture, while moving through time and space in a pressing fashion, full ROM through elbow flexion and also control of upper back (scapula) retraction/activation.
 
– Bat Wing: Aim for full retraction of shoulder blades and upper back contraction – do this against a wall.
 
Upper back control, scapula retraction and full ROM, plus bracing and good posture throughout the movement.
 
– Floor or Wall Angle: Aim to get your arms fully extended overhead with no change in your posture (excessive back arching).
 
Upper thoracic ROM, shoulder ROM, stiffness in lats/lack of core bracing.
 
– Plank: Aim to hold a solid position from head to toe,no sagging.
 
Core Bracing and posture consistency.
 
The above tests are an overall assessment to see if the person doing them can control their body correctly and move through time & space without any issue.
 
A lot of people struggle with these basic movements and worst of all ignore them, opting to go for more advanced movements that they’re just not ready for.
 
Basically building on disfunction.
 
Think of it like building a house, you wouldn’t do it if the foundations were crap of the area was known for subsidence, that’s just a recipe for disaster.
 
Now from an enjoyment stand point the train that these styles of assessment will require the client to do can seem very boring and basic, especially when we live in a world that demands MORE MORE MORE.
 
A lot of people fall in to the trap of wanting the fancy fun things to do and while there is nothing wrong with this it can cause a lot of issues later down the line.
 
For example:
 
Plyometrics (jump training).
 
Is it fun?
 
Hell yes.
 
Is it safe?
 
Yes, IF you have correct movement patterns and the strength/stability to perform the movements correctly, if you can’t hen it will lead to injury, especially in the knee, trust me I’ve seen it.
 
Did you know according to the research done by Prof Yuri Verkhoshansky, to do basic low level jump training you should be able to squat your bodyweight for solid reps – that’s bodyweight on a bar by the way.
 
For Depth Jumps and other more advanced techniques the recommendations are up to 2xBW on the bar, not many can do that.
 
^^ You will find this info in the book Super Training & also The Science & Practice of Strength Training if memory serves me correctly.
 
Keeping this in mind.
 
How many people do you know who do training that is far lack of a better term, way beyond their pay grade, a fair few I’d imagine. 
 
I know a few and I have even done it myself in the past, injury was my reward because like all competitive people I did too much of what I wasn’t ready for.
 
Building a solid and wide foundation will allow you to hit a higher peak.
 
Yes it may be a tad dull at the start, it can also be hard to hear, however it’s sometimes necessary.
 
Take a look at your own movements and patterns, are they solid or could they do with some improvement?
 
Truing hard and stay safe
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Me, Myself & I – Ego Tripping 101

Morning All,
 
I hope you’re all well.
 
So, what to write about today, that isn’t recycled information with a slightly different wording or spin on it…..
 
As you may have guessed that is essentially what writing/social media videos etc is actually about in the world of fitness.
 
There is little that we don’t currently know that doesn’t involve the very complex biochemical reactions/mechanisms of the body that is. As for training and nutrition, it’s almost all been said before, so keeping this in mind I feel some reflection would be good.
 
As yourselves the following and answer them honestly:
 
– Where did you start?
– Where are you now?
– How has your ego held you back?
 
That last one will sting for some of you, but hey ho, ego is a fragile thing that leads us to do stupid things on a regular and repeated basis.
 
When it comes to the ego, it can govern us in secret and we never know. It is so sensitive that it feel threatened by almost everything that opposes it and the main fear it has is that of dying (metaphorically).
 
No one likes to admit they might be wrong, or to change a belief or value, even if it is a destructive one that holds them back, I can attest to this as mine has stopped me doing a great many things and because of this I’ve been able to learn what it feels like when mine starts acting up, which I will share with you in the hope you might be able to learn how to silence yours and avoid making the mistakes I have.
 
1. YOU HAVE BECOME VERY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE.
 
Essentially you know something doesn’t feel right yet you do it anyway.
 
2. YOU FEEL OVERLY SELF-CONSCIOUS AROUND OTHERS.
 
You seem there is alway an argument, judgement or someone to oppose your views coming.
 
3. YOU FIND YOURSELF COMPLAINING OFTEN.
 
Not getting your own way or people not fitting your bias will leave your ego screaming because it feels it’s in danger. You will actively seek out info you agree with, even if it’s wrong.
 
4. FIGHTS AND ARGUMENTS HAPPEN FREQUENTLY BETWEEN YOURSELF AND OTHERS.
 
As you can guess, you defend everything you say without questioning if it’s wrong, which it might intact be.
 
 
5. YOU JUDGE OTHERS HARSHLY.
 
Also known as projection, you place everything you don’t like about yourself subconsciously on others so that you don’t feel sacred around them.
 
6. YOU FIND IT HARD TO LISTEN TO OTHERS WITHOUT WANTING TO INTERRUPT.
 
“I know, but…” – this is the line that shows your ego is feeling threatened, if you go to say it stop yourself and listen first.
 
7. YOU SEEK REVENGE WHEN OTHERS HURT YOU.
 
Children and the immature seek revenge, the mature and the wise seek understanding and to learn from their experience. if you find yourself point scoring all the time it’s a sign ego is controlling you.
 
Take these simple insights as see which ones apply to you and for the love of all that is holy, think before you speak, trust me, it causes more problems than it’s worth when you engage your mouth before your brain.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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Weak Links

Three things you need for successful lifting & breaking plateaus.
 
– Stability
– Mobility
– Strength – A & B
 
Why is stability about mobility?
 
Simply because if you’re not stable your body will naturally inhibit the ROM you can achieve because it is unable to fire its neural pathways in the required sequence.
 
Mobility is before strength due to the fact that to lift heavy things pain free and reduce injury you need good/optimal mobility.
 
If you ensure you have stability/mobility then your strength will progress. When you start to find yourself stalling take a look at the first two because the chances that one of them is now being compromised to try and accommodate a heavier load is high, meaning you might need to sort them first.
 
What is meant by Strength A & Strength B?
 
A – Overall strength to perform the movement while keeping optimal/correct form/alignments.
 
B – You have a weak link in your muscular/kinetic chain that needs individual/specific focus (such as spinal erectors in the front squat, triceps in the over head press, etc).
 
Take a look at all of your lifts, if they stall go back and from upwards from stability until you find the weak link. If you do this you will find you break lifting plateaus and also better understand your own body.
 
Enjoy,
Ross

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