Tag Archives: weightlifting

Can’t add any more weight?

Three ways to progress without adding weight to the bar –
1: Add Reps
2: Add Sets
3: Reduce Rest
We all love lifting more weight, it’s very rewarding, however it’s not always possible and because of that reason we need other ways in which we can keep progressing.
Above are three simple adaptations that we will cover.
1 – Adding Reps
Say you’re doing 5×5 at 60kg, yet you can’t hit the same 5×5 at 62.5kg.
Now you can add in fractional plates to your training that weight as little as 0.25kg however if you don’t have those then adding reps will be your best bet.
Perhaps you set out to add a rep each session until you are doing 5×7, or perhaps 5×10, the choice is yours, however what you will find is that by adding reps and setting a rep goal you’ll be able to add weight easily once you hit the added reps with ease.
2 – Adding Sets
Similar to above except the reps stay the same, so 5×5 might end up being 10×5 and so on.
You could even choose to combine the two and start off at 5×5, work to 5×7 then add a set and go back to 6×5, build that to 6×7, then on to 7×5 building to 7×7 all the way until you hit 10×7, you get the idea.
3 – Reducing Rest
This falls in to the category of Density Training with increases Oxygen debt and EPOC, getting the same amount of work done in less time is a great way to not only make progress in terms of strength and lean muscle mass but also stripping fat off.
If you’re doing the standard 5×5, the rest might be say 5min, you can easily make a dent by taking it down by 15-30 seconds each session until you’re at just 1min rest between each set. From here you’ve got the choice of adding weight or perhaps even utilising one or both of the methods from above if you’re still finding adding weight a tall order.
The three options above are simple and very easy to apply, however it will retire you to stay on the same workout protocol for a while, at least on your main lifts and this can be an arduous task for some people, you’ve been warned.
If in the event that you can’t add any more weight, you’ve hit your limit for that move, you can change the exercise to a different variation, so perhaps overhead press turns in to incline press, or incline press in to close grip bench press and so on.
When you stall on a weight drop it by say 5-10% and then utilise the methods above, you won’t regret it.
The secret to progress is progress, achieve it in any way you can.

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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:



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


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


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


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.


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Squats without a rack.

Occasionally you might find yourself caught out by mistiming your workout and the squat rack you wanted is now being used for curls meaning you might miss leg day 😦.

Fear not, there is a way around this and all you need is a bar along with some skill in either a power clean or full clean.

If you find no squat racks are free, you grab a bar load it with a light weight to start and get in some warm up cleans with front squats added in.

The clean will not only target your quads, it will also give you a thorough workout recruiting your hips/hamstrings/calves as well, what more could you ask for.

Yep, you essentially do what weight lifters have been doing for years. Have you seen the legs on those athletes, they’re outstanding. Their quads, glutes and hamstrings are the cause for much jealousy and rightly so.

Here is a complex for you to try, there will even be some extra optimal leg work added in just incase the rack becomes free.

A1 – Clean x1
A2 – FS x2-3
A3 – Jerk x1

Drop bar and repeat for 8-12 sets.

If no rack is free:

B1 – Clean x1
B2 – Walking Lunch 6-8 per leg

3-5 sets.

If the rack then comes free, add in this:

B1 – Squat

Rep options: 8×3 or 5×5 with a decent load for strength or 50 reps in as few sets as possible for extra volume.


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Structure Considerations

Ah Wednesday.
Half way through the working week, which means you can basically start to relax now an plan the forthcoming weekend because that’s what life’s about. We can also talk about workout structure and where/what your bias should be in programming your training each session.
This morning I stumbled across a rather nice piece by Vladmir M. Zatsiorsky, Ph.D. It was a great read on the average, sets, reps, intensity and total training volume of Russian lifters (there was also some reference to the Bulgarians as well), keep in mind this was written about weightlifting and developing max strength but the principles can be carried over to other endeavours as well.
How do you currently structure your workouts?
Here is the link, it’s well worth reading:
The short version:
– Average training load 75-80% of Comp Max
– Average reps (main lifts) 2-3
– Average sets (main lifts) 60
– Average reps (accessory lifts) 3-6 – Rep Max Correlated
– Average sets (accessory lifts) 15-25
There is also talk of protein degradation/synthesis and how training stimuli can effect this and what effect it would have on Strength, Hypertrophy etc.
The Short Version:
– For optimal Hypertrophy through a nice balance of degradation/synthesis multiple reps (8-10) with a 10-12RM for multiple efforts to fatigue is optimal (adjusting rest time helps to provide optimal fatigue – my own tip would be to repay your efforts until you lose significant speed on the bar, then stop before form goes to pot).
You can also get some great info on muscle fibre/motor unit recruitment and HOW you can get the most bang for your buck and which training methods suit this best – Maximal Effort, Repetition Effort, Dynamic Effort.
The Short Version:
– ME = Best for strength – neurological facilitation (FT muscle fibres nailed)- max weight, low rep, lots of sets
– RE = Best for hypertrophy/strength – MF/MU recruitment optimised through fatigue and repeated effort with a sub-maximal weight, basically nothing is left un-hit.
– DE = Best for power – Sports/skill specific focus, good to add some ploy’s before a heavy lift for extra MU firing/recruitment or after for further exhaustion of potential FT fibres missed in RE.
You will find that reading this give a pretty logical view of how you can use all three methods (if you choose) to make a great training session, or even just one if that is your primary focus. Just remember that when you add more of one you need to take away from one of the others, for example: higher intensity = lower volume otherwise you may literally die as you’re slowly crushed by a heavy lift.
I tend to use this as a guideline for putting a session together:
– Main lift 15-25 reps (5-15 for heavy deadlifts) – 85%+ 1RM
– Accessory lift A 25-50 reps – 5-10 RM based
– Accessory lift B 25-50 reps – 5-10RM based
– Accessory lift C 50 reps – isolation/weak point focus – Focus on feeling the muscle, weight is 10-15RM based typically.

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The First Rule of Lifting Club

Morning Guys,
Do you know the first rule of lifting club?
No Moaning, head down and LIFT!
You will often see the guy/gals in the gym that everybody else admires, this people all have one thing in common, they didn’t like the way they looked so they decided to do something about it and stop being a victim of circumstance.
Most people will do a set of 12 with their 15rep load where as the successful ones will strive and struggle to do a set of 12 with a 10rm load because they know that’s what it takes to get better.
Everyone has a select method that works for them but the only way they find it is through years of trial and error. In that time they find things that work well and some that work better, they also find things that were a complete waste of time but they needed to do these things so they could find their own personal Holy Grail, make sense? You need to do the same through learning as well.
Speak to successful people, success leaves clues after all, attend seminars, listen to podcasts, read books, hire a coach, do everything you can to learn and understand. Don’t be a fish caught in the tide, be the mighty salmon that strives to fight it’s way up stream and go against the current because that’s where what you want will be found.
So stop moaning ans start working hard.

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Looking Objectively.

I had someone ask me about a couple of studies that lean towards high frequency being the key to ascension, now while there is a very strong correlation with how much you can train/recover from and the gains you will make I feel there are some key points people need to be aware of with the majority (not all) of the studies on high frequency training, well, most training actually.

If you think about the bulk of studies from the past and indeed more recent times they are based on Weightlifters many will forget what a weightlifter actually is. These people often practice two move for their sport – Clean & Jerk, Snatch – because those are the two lifts performed in the Olympics and as you can guess, these types of athletes train multiple times per day consecutive days per week, but do you know why?


They train that much because they’re practicing a SKILL. Yep, weightlifting is a skill, where as weight lifting (synonymous with body building) is less about skill and more about stimulation of a specific muscle. There is a very big difference between practicing a skill every day and trying to build muscle. One needs constant work because a movement pattern must become as efficient, effective and energy conserving as possible, the other is about giving it all you’ve got, essentially.

When practicing weightlifting the loads they use may indeed be written as 85%+ however for a 75kg lifter might only be 85kg for example and the total taxation on the body with that amount of weight won’t be as great as someone doing front squats with 120kg because the load is heavier and requires more effort to shift. This is why some people who try a high frequency training program for a body building purpose don’t always get the results they expect, the weights they need to lift just take too much out of them. However this sort of approach is useful for strongmen, power lifters, girevoy sport competitors (kettle bell sport) and anyone involved in strength sport because they need to groove their movements.

Does that makes sense?

I’m not saying high frequency isn’t good because I am a fan of it. What I’m saying is that before you go charging in head first after reading the latest study or article you need to understand the finer nuances of first. Especially when it comes to the sample group used. If they are lifters of 10 years experience what applies to them almost always won’t apply to someone who have been lifting for 6 months.

Remember, objectivity, not subjectivity.

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Form From From!

Correct technique is something you should always aim to achieve because if you don’t you simply increase the risk of injury.

It’s not fun getting injured, even if it’s only a minor tweak, it’s still not fun because it stops you doing a wide variety of things. Therefore you should always aim to perform each rep with full control.

Avoid these following commonalities until you have mastered the correct movement pattern for you body.

– Bouncing any reps (Deadlift etc)
– Using momentum to complete reps (rows, bicep curls)
– Partial reps (Bench, or pressing)
– Anything ballistic or plyo based (jumping or explosive work)

This might seem obvious but a great many people forget these simple things and as a result end up injured or worse.

Don’t me ruled by you ego, leave it outside the gym and focus on crisp solid form. Not only will you stay injury free, you will also become a lot stronger and make far more progress. A great way to immediately improve your form is to increase the amount of time it takes to do a rep (TUT*). Lower the weight for 3-6 seconds, pause at the bottom of the rep for 1 second, take 1-2 to lift it and then repeat until all reps are done.

*Deadlift is a tad different, don’t use overly long eccentrics (the lowering part) on these, instead make sure each rep is performed from a dead stop. No bouncing.

Now go, practice good form and stay injury free.


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Progression Pirameters

If you lift weights or even just train in general, progression is the name of the game but with all the options available, what is the best way to progress?

The typical answer you will hear is ‘it depends.’ which in fairness is true to some degree, however when people often ask a question they want something a little more substantial in the answer they receive. Therefore toady we shall run through some of the best ways to progress when it comes to lifting weights and getting stronger.
Below is three methods of progression that are easy to follow and if done for an extended period of time will yield some great results.
1 – Consolidation Method.
There are several different names for this method, however the principle is the same and that is what matters the most.
Lets say you do 5×5 on 140kg in your first squat session. Instead of adding weight for the next session you will repeat the 5×5 at 140kg to consolidate your efforts and clean up any form or speed issues you had the first time you hit the 5×5. This method is great for lifters who have been lifting for at lest 3 years and will allow for a longer period of progression and building muscle/strength.
2 – Rep Progression Method.
A favored method among lifters who prefer going off of feel as opposed to strict numbers. This method allows for a little more freedom and some varied rep ranges, you can build a good amount of overall heat to toe strength with this style of progression. Pick a rep range you want to hit, say 25 reps on bench press with 100kg but limit the amount of sets* you’re going to do to say 3 and hit that rep target in either the 3 sets target or less. Once oyu hit your rep goal you can add weight.
If you wonder how this works you might have something that looks like this in your note book on week one – 100kg X 8,7,5 = 20 rep total – 5 reps short of goal. Week two may be better with 10,9,7 giving you 26 reps putting you over your target, thus allowing for an increase in weight. Simple.
3 – Back Off Set Progression.
Similar to the rep goal system this progression is based on hitting a specific weight with a certain weight however you only get one set to do it. You will do your working sets for the day, this might be 3×3 at 200kg on Deadlift followed by a Back Off set of say 10-20 reps (depending on the exercise – 10 for deadlift and 15-20 for press/squat). You can set the Back Off weight at 80-85% of your working weight for the day and proceed to do one set of reps. If you hit your goal of 10-20 then increase the weight on the main exercise.
The methods above will help you continue to progress at a slow and steady pace because that’s actually how it tends to work for most people. I would advise for most late beginner to intermediate lifters to increase the weights by 2.5kg to all pressing movements and 5kg for all squatting movements and 5-10kg for deadlifting movements as a baseline guide. More advanced lifters may increase much less, so long as there is an increase that means progression, remember progression is the key.
You don’t have to use any of these methods, they are nothing more than tools to help you on your journey.

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Strength is Skill

The pursuit of strength is an endeavor that can take many many years, but there is no better feeling than being able to effortlessly pick things up or put objects over your head struggle free.

Depending on who you speak to you will hear lots of differing opinions of how to build strength, however if you look at lots of older strength books and methodologies you will notice to common theme is set around 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps for effortless gains in strength and while there will be some differences from person to person in terms of over all sets (sometimes as high as 20!), they all say you should want to feel like you have maybe one or two potential reps left in the bag.

Training for strength is thought by some as constant struggle to get an extra rep, but you will often find that the really strong people would rather feel like every rep is easy and stop feeling they have a couple left in the bag, even if the weight is heavy. This style of athlete does not like grinding reps or excessive form break down as this leads to fatigue building up much faster than they would like which means more times is needed to recover.

Across the world there have been many great strength athletes but it’s the Russians, Bulgarians and their neighboring countries who have produced the majority. Why is this?

They believe that to lift a lot you need to lift a lot and often, but not to the point of form breakdown and excessive fatigue. They see strength as a skill that needs to be practiced regularly and thus the set their sets/reps according to this ethos.

Achieving easy strength requires time, patience and most of all perfect practice (or as close to perfect as possible). Grooving the movement so that it is effortless requires lots of repetition and consistency on your core movements (Squat, Bench, Deadlift for Powerlifters and the Clean & Jerk/Snatch for Weightlifters), you can add in various accessory movements to help balance the body as these are essential but if your goal is strength then lots of easy reps at sub-max weight is what you need.

Here are a couple of rep ranges to consider:

3×3, 3×4, 3×5
4×3, 4×4, 4×5
5×4, 5×4, 5×5
5-3-2 x2

There are lots of options but if you’re thinking about practicing your lifts daily then the above rep ranges will do just fine. You would load the bar with 80%+ (after warm up sets of course) and you would aim to never miss a rep while making sure they were all smooth and without any grinding.

Alternatively you could set a daily working rep range of 15-25 and hit those numbers however way you want. Just hit all the reps with good form and always leave a couple of reps in the bank. It is true you will have days where you feel exceptionally strong, if that is the case then you are more than welcome to try for a new rep pb or even a single rep pb, but be careful not to leave your best numbers on the gym floor, these are better suited to the comp stage.

Training in this manor will not only help you cement solid form in your movements it will also help you learn your body too. Meaning that you will know when you’re ready for a big lift and can go that little harder and when to back it off slightly.

If you start to feel overly tired then drop the volume (sets/reps) but keep the weights at 80%+, or scheduled in a rest weekend/week.

Strength is a skill, now go and start practicing.

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