I can say, without a doubt, that the perfect strength & conditioning program does not exist for everyone, all the time. BUT, it is very possible to find the best solution for your particular goals at a given time with proper application. Many people never evolve from doing what they love or are good at. Sometimes you have to do the things you hate to escalate your ability to the next level. If you always do the same thing, you'll always be in the same place. So, if you're 100% satisfied with your current results, that's great! Keep on keepin on. However, if you are ready to drive your current situation to get better results, are tired of thinking about what to do next, or simply need more information to achieve your goals, you just might need to get a coach to help you get what you want in life. One of the benefits of you not having to worry about any planning, you can put 100% focused effort into implementation and training hard and not worry about if you're doing something right or wrong.
A good coach is going to provide solid cues and feedback to ensure positive results from your efforts. Let's take the deadlift, for example. If you know what you're doing, it seems very natural, you just pick up something heavy and anyone else watching from the outside sees something very simple. However, only you knew all the minute details from years of training that went into that quick effort that made it look easy. But if you have to think while training, you may need constant reinforcement when straining hard during your heaviest work sets. If you don't have a good coach or training partners with you, the next best thing is having proper knowledge of execution and implementation to guide your path to increased strength & conditioning. Since we are already talking deadlifts, lets hammer some nuts and bolts on proper execution to perform a big pull safely.
To figure out the best stance for your deadlift, pretend you’re about to perform a vertical jump. Get your feet and body into position. Now, look down and move your feet in slightly and your toes out slightly. This may change a bit with experience, but it's a good starting point. Address the bar so it is an inch or two in front of your shins, when you bend over to grab the bar your knees and shins will come forward a bit to meet the bar. Try pushing your entire foot through the floor with weight shifting towards the middle to back of your foot. Relax your back as you grab the bar and set your grip. Your hands will be just outside your legs and you'll have to decide whether you use an overhand grip, alternate grip or hook grip. I recommend a double overhand grip until it fails with heavier weight. If you're an oly lifter or have joint or tissue problems in your shoulder or elbow, you should use a hook grip. If an alternate grip does not bother you, that is a strong option as well. Once the grip is set, now set the back by pulling yourself down into the bar and flatten your back. You'll notice how some advanced lifters have a slightly rounded upper back when pulling big, but DO NOT worry about that for now, it's not for you, YET. Just try to squeeze your upper back and flatten out your spine by pulling tension from the bar. As you set your back, take a big breathe in and fill your gut with air. Squeeze the bar as hard as possible, set your back and push your feet through the floor. Never yank the bar from the floor unless your name is Kendrick Farris. Instead think of a rocket being launched into space, it starts slow and generates more power and speed as it rises. As you prepare your lift, repeat your mantra, "Feet flat, butt down, chest up." Some do better by looking up, some look down a bit. But to keep you safe as a beginner, you want your neck to be in alignment with your spine, so focusing on a spot on the floor about 20 feet in front of you will keep you in a safe position. As you practice and grow over the years, you may find that looking up as you pull the lift might help your performance. Again, think about pushing the earth away from you with your legs and try to keep your back flat, this is why its imperative to have strong legs for a big pull (and a big pull will give you stronger legs). As the bar begins to rise, keep pulling back onto your heels and get your bodyweight going back to help counter the force of the bar in front of your legs. Keep the bar close and think about shaving your legs with the bar, not ripping meat of your bones. Once the bar gets to your quads, squeeze your glutes and push your hips towards the bar, but do not bend back. As you stand tall, pull your shoulders back slightly to ensure an erect posture. Pause at the top and either drop the weight or return the bar to the floor by reversing the movement, push your hips back and slide the weight down your thighs. I recommend you treat the deadlift as a series of single repetitions, resetting after each pull. There is validity in touch and go reps as well, where the bar basically taps the floor before you stand again, you have to find out what style is best for your goals and situation. Never bounce the weight, if you're bouncing or crashing the weight off the floor, you would be better off doing kettlebell swing variations, my favorite being heavy double swings either inside or outside the legs.
That single paragraph above is enough to get you rockin and rollin, but as you progress, there is so much more you need to know. And as the saying goes, "You don't know what you don't know." Get it?
When I started on my road to increased strength and athleticism, I read a lot of the bodybuilding magazines and followed the studs of the day. It was 1990 and Arnold Schwarzenegger was everywhere, on TV and on all the newsstands. I wanted to be big and strong, I mean, who didn't? I didn't know anything about athletic training for a long time, I just followed the bodybuilder's lead. It didn't align perfectly with my goals but I didn't know it at the time, I just worked hard and got bigger and stronger by following the plans that were laid out for me. I learned that working hard and being consistent for a long time is the best plan anyone can follow. Screw optimal sets and reps and rest times, if you can't stick to it long enough to get results, it doesn't matter how perfect the plan was to begin with.
The important lesson that I learned from Arnold was that even at a young age his ability to outwork everyone else around him quickly separated him from everyone else. I wanted that for myself. I was always the youngest and smallest kid in every sport I played. The other kids were bigger, stronger and faster than me all through my youth. I was the late bloomer. It forced me to work harder just to keep up. When everyone else around me was tired and working at level 6, I was pushing hard at level 10. Eventually, I was able to play with the big dogs and I maintained my work ethic because its all I knew.
The kids who skated by on talent never trained after practice, they never did anything extra. And that caught up with them. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. I eventually took my teammates positions in the starting line up, and year after year I watched some my peers quit the team, or fail out, while the rest of us thrived and excelled. I made All-State in high school, All-American in college, league MVP, and conference best offensive player all because I had a dream and a vision to get better then what I was. I never wanted to be the same Matt that I was yesterday. Every single time I stepped out on that field, I wanted to be new and improved. That does not happen by doing the same thing over and over again. If you want to grow and get better, you must improve your practice. Ask yourself, "Am I performing the way I want right now? Am I the very best I can be?
Do I have the desire to get better?" If you want to see your strength and conditioning improve over the next months and years to come. You need to take aggressive action and get a plan and stick to it long enough to see results.
Two of the best resources out there right now for improving your strength & conditioning are from some of the best in the business. Deadlift Dynamite
from Pavel and Andy Bolton, the world record deadlift holder, is on sale for the next few days and has such an overwhelming amount of information to guarantee results that you'll notice immediately and for years to come. They are offering several FREE tips to improve your performance just for checking out the link, so check that out and see what you get. These is some of the best strength information available. Now for conditioning and getting that ripped body, Jason Ferruggia
is having a big sale on his Renegade Cardio
book, it has 52 workout finishers for you to plug into your strength program so its the perfect marriage for Deadlift Dynamite. And the best part is, it's ONLY $10! Traditional cardio is dead and who wants to conjure up a new workout or finisher every day. This is done for you and you'll gain tons of new training ideas for only a few bucks. You can't miss. I wouldn't recommend it if I didn't love it. Even if you're already doing workout finishers
, you'll love the new ideas from these resources.
I want you to start seeing yourself five and even ten years down the road, is the path you're on going to get you where you wanna be? Start separating everything in your life into two categories: things that were going to help you reach your goals of increased strength & conditioning, and things that had nothing to do with getting you the results you want. Start making choices in life based on those categories. Would partying, drinking and skipping workouts to hang out on the corner all night with your friends make you stronger? Would staying up all night talking to a girlfriend on the phone make your bench go up? It shouldn’t be hard to answer these questions. If you're serious, s
tart doing only the things that will one day lead to success.Have a goal, have a vision, here is your plan... Deadlift Dynamite & Renegade Cardio. The perfect marriage of Strength & Conditioning.
These amazing products are on a huge sale for only a few days. If you need a solid diet plan as well, I recommend Carb Back-Loading to fuel your rage and get you that lean, strong body you're after.
is a great educational tool that teaches lifters of all ages about proper technique and programming strategies. Some valuable topics they cover that stand out are:
1. Determine whether you're better built for the conventional or sumo deadlift technique.
2. Deload prior to meets/testing days.
3. Integrate kettlebell exercises with more traditional powerlifting training.
4. Manage your breathing during heavy deadlifting (I wish someone had taught me this eight years ago).
5. Build a solid hip hinge so that you can deadlift safely.
6. Make sure you appreciate the difference between how Olympic lifters deadlift (first pull) and how powerlifters do so.
7. Pull yourself down to the bar (this is a HUGE game-changer for lifters when they finally "get it," especially on deadlift bars with a lot of whip)
8. Utilize compensatory acceleration training: performing the concentric (lifting) portion of the movement as fast as possible, regardless of the weight.
Bolton and Pavel also go into great detail with respect to training the squat and deadlift. This is something I wish I had a long time ago, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get better. It's on sale through this Sunday, November 18 at midnight and it comes with a whole bunch of special bonuses. Go check it out.
A quick glance at what you get with Renegade Cardio
- “One in the Chamber”- A collection of finishers based on only one exercise or training implement.
- Bodyweight Circuits- A collection of finishers based on nothing but bodyweight exercises that can be done anywhere, anytime. On the road, in a hotel room, on the beach, you name it.
- Kettlebell Killers- Various kettlebell circuits to jack up your conditioning and incinerate bodyfat.
- Bike Circuits- If you have to use a bike for conditioning this is the way to use it. Discover how to mix bike intervals with various other exercises for maximal results.
- Battling Ropes & Jump Ropes- Low impact circuits that produce awesome results.
- Barbell Complexes- The most effective barbell complexes that only require an empty bar and some space.
- Pyramids- One of my favorite conditioning methods and definitely not for the weak of heart.
- Deck of Cards- One of the most popular yet feared workouts at Renegade Gym.
- “On the Mix Now”- A collection of various circuits incorporating bodyweight, kettlebells, ropes, sleds, sledgehammers, sandbags, medicine balls and more.
- Plus 10 bonus hill sprint and strongman workouts
is the brainchild of John Kiefer, a nutrition consultant to athletes including bodybuilders, powerlifters, and figure competitors. As the name suggests, it entails saving the bulk of your carbohydrate intake for the end of the day. The big selling point for CBL is all the so-called junk food you can get away with on it. We’re talking pizza, ice cream, and french fries, and not only will they not make you fat or unhealthy, they’ll make you big, strong, and lean.
This type of diet is becoming more and more popular since the participants actually get to eat all sorts of junk food without actually getting fat, providing that the carb back-loading 1.0 technique is followed correctly, otherways it will just become another junk food binge that will in fact make you fat.
There is science behind this technique and that is why it works. If you live a lazy lifestyle, the sugar spikes will normally translate to fat gain because your muscles and other cells are not depleted, so your body stores the excess carbs as fat. While if you train hard and eat low carb for 10 days while depleting your body, all these carbs that you consume will go directly in to your muscles and other cells that you have worked really hard over that period of time.
This technique is very simple, once you have completed the 10 days of low carb eating, 30 grams max, on the tenth day, that night you can load up with as many carbs as you can handle. From there on, it is low carb eating during the day, training during the day to deplete your body of all carbs, and load up on carbs again at night, it is really that simple, but to learn the proper technique that is optimum and tested on professional athletes, power lifters, fitness models you really need to get your hands on the CBL system if you want to get started with Carb Back-Loading
technique to look better and be happy with your body.
I frequently receive questions regarding fitness, strength and conditioning, which is a very good thing. I am happy to help when possible, and on occasion I will answer questions on the blog, sometimes privately, but always discreetly. Here is what someone has issues with and my response...
6'5" 285 36 yrs old. Need to lose weight. Been doing heavy compound movements and not too much in the way of conditioning. 255 is the goal. Health reasons and what not. Want to make weight loss the priority But I hate to sacrifice strength gains. Advice on the most efficient way to get there (255). I eat like crap and I'm now making more conscious food choices. Should I do complexes? Continue heavy with running 30 min a day? I want to continue heavy but don't know if that will be counterproductive to the weight I want to lose. I do know that once I get to 255 I will lift heavy again. Advice please.
I would take a 30 day period and prioritize fat loss exclusively. You will not lose much if any strength, if you do, it must not have been very hard earned. Real man strength sticks around for more than a few weeks, brother. I would consider doing one heavy day of deadlifts and presses, another heavy day of squats and pull ups or rows. Those days could have assistance work done as a circuit, or a few supersets. Throw in a quick finisher on those days and you'll be good. On three or even four other days, you could do kettlebell circuits with body weight training. Use a moderate weight and flow from exercise to exercise for a good half hour or so. Full body movements will get the calories burning and the fat stripped off your body. Especially at your advanced body weight, just moving around is like weightlifting. I would advise against too much running, it is boring as hell and if you're not running with great mechanics you will be putting an unnecessary amount of stress on those joints. If you want to run, i recommend you find a hill, or pull a sled, it will help tremendously. Run up the hill with some intensity, then walk down. Repeat several times, it will shrink you in no time. If no hill, find stairs or drag a sled or prowler, or push the car around. you will need a partner, but hopefully you have at least one person that supports you and will gladly steer the wheel. I would consider going for a walk first thing in the morning or some other form of light exercise before breakfast. The bigger issue is the crappy diet. Tighten up, dude. Don't eat crap and complain about being fat. It's great that you are making more conscious choices, but you could be consciously eating crap. I would consider carb cycling, with 1 or 2 days a week of intermittent fasting. This is a touchy subject and others will disagree. Some will say never skip a meal, eat 6 times a day. Well, I'm saying it isn't the end of the world if you skip a few meals. And if you can get to the point of skipping a whole day of food, you will be quite impressed with your freedom and fortitude that ensues. I would coincide 2 high carb days with your 2 heavy days, follow those with a moderate carb day, follow that with a no carb day or possibly a total fast day. If you won't fast, at least eat no carbs except greens. All days will have the same amount of protein and fat, but you will manipulate the carbs. You can get more information about carbohydrate cycling online. You can also find lots of info about intermittent fasting as well.
Monday: High carb day
200-250 grams protein, including Chicken (white meat) Turkey (white meat) Tuna Fish (can) Fish (flounder, tuna (fatty or not), salmon, shark, etc.) Shellfish (all types) Protein (preferably whey post workout, and casein before bed; MRPs must be low-carb) Lean beef (including lean cuts of steak) Cottage Cheese (0 or 1% fat)Egg whites (egg beaters)
80-90 grams fat, including about 25-30 grams of fish oil a day, I know its a lot, but try it out, also olive and coconut oil, nuts and seeds, and avocado
400-500 grams carbs from:
Brown rice Oats (Slow Cooked Preferred) Sweet potatoes or Yams Fiber One (All Bran) Cereal Beans/Legumes add some berries to you meals as well
of course, tons of vegetables
Jump rope 5 minutes
1a. deadlift 5x5
1b. press 5x5
2a. Step ups 3x16
2b. push ups 3 x submax (put yourself at an angle that allows for at least 15 reps)
3a. Kettlebell swings 5x15
3b. Jumping jacks, high knees or burpees 5 x15
4. Sled drag x5 minutes
Moderate to low carb day
same protein, same fat, just cut the carbs in half
Complexes, any tool, lots of movement
muscle snatch x6
good morning x6
reverse lunge x6/6
push press x6
bent over row x6
No carb or fast
walk, swim, ride a bike, hike, light to moderate exercise
first thing in morning hit a 10-15 minute high intensity circuit
-mountain climbers, shadow boxing, push ups, recline rows, lunges, swings...
High carb day
1a. Squats 5x5
1b. Chest supported barbell rows 5x8-10
2a. RDL 3x10
2b. Recline rows 3 x submax
3a. Lying leg raises 3x15
3b. Back raises 3x15
4. Sled drag x 5-10 minutes
low to moderate carbs
Light weight circuits, use kettlebells, sandbags, dumbbells, etc. and perform a nice romantic flow of exercises, trying to move nonstop for 30 minutes. Don't count if you don't want to, unless you're a slacker, just move, man. Get romantic with those bells and make love to those sweet little puppies.
try a bunch of each, then move to next one...
kettlebell or dumbbell get ups
toe touches or sit outs
body weight squats
do 5-10 reps of each exercise and repeat for 30-45 minutes
Low carb or fast
grab 2 light dumbbells, about 25 -35 lbs, attach a tire sled to you, drag the sled and carry the bells in your hands for a mile
Moderate carb day
I probably forgot some things, but that's a decent plan to burn some fat, retain strength and feel a hell of a lot better in a month or so. Of course this is way more than what a lot of people could handle, but it would be very easy to scale this up or down to accommodate anyone. Yes, anyone.
The following is how i perform recline rows at the house with "no equipment"...
tie a knot in the end of one or two sheets
I'm performing climbs here, but you could use 2 sheets for rows