When developing strength & athleticism, there are certain muscle groups that deserve more attention than others. Sure, we want to be strong top to bottom with no weak links, but not all muscles are created equal. The two groupings that usually need the most attention are the abs and the ass, guts and butts. The glutes are the largest single muscles in the body and, as the primary hip extensors, are the driving force behind nearly all athletic movements. Stronger glutes help you run faster, jump higher, hit harder, and on a side note, can improve your sexual performance. The glutes however, cannot function optimally if the pelvis isn't correctly positioned and stabilized, which is predominately controlled by the abs. Weak abs usually allow a prominent anterior pelvic tilt, while adequate ab strength and control will ensure that forces around the hip and lower spine are properly controlled and will allow for the glutes to do their job. Improper strength and control of the trunk muscles can also lead to back and knee pain or injuries. Similarly, weak and poor functioning glutes have been linked to low back pain.
Thus, getting these muscle groups working properly is of prime importance for health, fitness, sexual and athletic performance enhancement. Improving yourself physically isn't just about making time to get to the gym. It's about making it a part of your lifestyle. There are tons of things you can do at home, during quick breaks at work or in any time crunch that can improve your situation. If you're serious you'll make time, not excuses. Below is quick video of my favorite things to do anywhere, anytime, with no equipment, to strengthen, stabilize and mobilize your gut and glutes, which improves the functionality of your hips, which will make you more awesome.
Performing these exercises is a good idea, but don't forget the main point here is to strengthen and improve mobility and stability in the muscles around your hips. There are many ways to achieve this, this video is just the tip of the iceberg. Bodyweight Training is awesome
and can be performed almost anywhere with minimal equipment, but my biggest passion still lies in the iron. Feel free to share your favorite hip and ab strengthening and mobility drills below. Many others are sure to benefit from your knowledge. Also, NEW Consummate Athlete T-Shirts are available now. Click on any pic below to get yours today!
Let me preface this article with the fact that I respect all people who are willing to work hard to achieve something great in their lives. But if you repeatedly lack good judgement, be prepared for the consequences. I respect hard work, but silliness is better left in the circus than in the gym. Always ask yourself, "Is what you're doing helping you, or hurting you?"
I have worked and trained in many different facilities in my days, and I have seen all kinds of training from effective to silly to dangerous. The difference now is I know more than I used to know and I really care about the things I see. Instead of just making fun of people, having a good laugh and walking away, I now make fun of them, but try to give them some kind of helpful advice and feature them in a YouTube film as a parting gift. If I am fortunate enough to work with them closely, make them a part of my family and make a personal investment in their life, I do the very best I can to protect them and not allow them to do silly things.
Below is a video I recently took at a friends facility, and I genuinely like the people, but I just thought some things were silly. It will offend a few, probably piss some people off, but I think the lesson learned by watching it will be more important than that fact that I might not be liked.
The thing about this video is, it isn't an isolated incident, it is happening right now in thousands on gyms all over the place. In an effort to try to be the best, thousands of people are blindly following someone else's lead into despair. There are many great and terrible things about the fitness industry today. One pro is that fact that many people are willing to try new things to increase their ability. They are willing to work harder than ever to take their fitness to the next level. On the other hand, things have a tendency to get taken too far. Many people forget that they are training to be healthier, not training to save the Princess from the fire breathing dragon.
In 2007, I decided to add CrossFit to my list of fitness certifications. Ever since, CrossFit has become more and more popular. It is constantly evolving, growing, and attracting the likes of world renowned fitness celebrities such as Bob Harper, who was recently crowned his fourth Brown Eye Achievement Award from The Starfish Lounge six years running! Go Bob! Basically, Bob Harper exemplifies what it means to be a master of his craft, and now his craft includes CrossFit. I mean, who needs Mark Rippetoe teaching flawless deadlift technique when you can have Bob Harper teaching a Turkish Get Up with less than 36 technical infringements?
If you want to be good at what you do, you have to understand what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how to do it safely and effectively. The first rule of training is "Do no harm." The coach and the athlete are both responsible for this. The athlete is sometimes stronger than he is smart, so it is the coaches responsibility to keep the athlete safe and progressing. In other words, the coach should take care of the athlete, but the athlete must always use common sense.
Because of the juggernaut that CrossFit has become in the fitness community, millions of people are now getting most of their training information from them, and rightfully so, as they put out tons of incredible content from a variety of sources daily. At the risk of sounding cheesy by quoting Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. CrossFit has become one of the most powerful sources of fitness information out there. If you are programming exercises or competitions for people, you have the responsibility to keep those people safe. The head honchos in charge of CrossFit know very well that ten's of thousands of athletes are going to try to be the Worlds Fittest Man or Woman, and attempt to do their workouts regardless of their ability to perform them well. The CrossFit programmers are partially responsible for the fitness of the followers of the cult. But ultimately, the individual is responsible for themselves.
When you have a novice athlete trying to perform an advanced training session or competition as fast as possible, it is like a football coach throwing a freshman high school football player into an NFL game and saying, "Tackle him!" Sure he got in the game, but everyone saw something bad coming a mile away. In my opinion, the coach is to blame for failing to keep the athlete safe by exposing him to a situation that he was obviously not prepared for.
In competition, attention to detail goes out the door, you simply rely on your training and instincts to produce the best possible results. Your strengths and weaknesses will be exposed for all to see on the field of battle. So I hope you prepared accordingly. For me, exercise is a practice. It is a means for me to practice doing something that will help me get better at sports and other great things life has to offer. But CrossFit ingeniously made exercise a sport in itself and the rest is history. Now people race through their training, many times without any respect for technique, make sweat angels on the floor and have entire closets full of t shirts from different gyms across the world. Its not all bad.
The problem, Sir Lance A Lot, is that there is no dragon. Everybody wants to be a firebreather, but rarely does anybody want to pay the price of progression. For most people there is no need to crush yourself so bad in a workout session that you risk shoulder and knee injury to finish 12 seconds faster, no need to jump on a relatively short box 50 times as fast as possible or ever do butterfly pullups. I agree that everyone has the right to elite fitness and we all have free will, so your exercise selection and level of intensity is your choice. Years ago, CrossFit published an article entitled Fundamentals, Virtuosity and Mastery. It is a great piece and I recommend you read it. Basically it talks about the problems with trying to get too jiggy with your training and how the basics rule. But in recent years I see a lack of attention to detail and there is a strong desire to get crazier with training to either attract more attention or become more elite. I see a compromise from the original aim of the community. I don't want to come across as an overly critical pussy here. I like hard work, but I like great results more. Unnecessary injuries are foolish.
Most people simply need to move better. Then after they learn to move well, they need to learn to move well under load. Then they need to move well under load for reps. Then they need to move well under heavy load for high reps. But never put the cart before the horse. Dropping a dollar to pick up a dime never got anybody rich. Be sure to keep the goal the goal and always remember, do no harm.
Everyone has the right to train and compete in any fashion that they want. But as a coach, I hate to see other coaches doing things that might harm the athletes. You can not stand around and watch bad shit happen, you must do the right thing and prevent it, fix it, and not turn a blind eye. Sometimes I see workouts that remind me of a train wreck suspense thriller gone bad. You don't wanna watch, but you can't turn away. Sometimes I wish people would throw in the towel instead of continuing on when nothing good can come out of it. But I guess that would be quitting, and the theme of the day is to never give up, so we have a catch 22. If you're an athlete, please don't hurt yourself in the name of elite fitness, focus on getting stronger and doing things better. Paying someone money to have them kick you in the dick never made much sense to me.
Every single thing you do in this world gets you closer to something. Practice according to the goal. Practice perfect reps if you want to get better at something, practice shitty reps if you want to get hurt, its that simple. Practice being the best coach, teacher, leader you can be. I am as guilty as they come, I have made many mistakes and I am far from perfect. I have done many silly things in my day, but with experience comes wisdom. All athletes and coaches should be proud of their work. If a coach was to leave his class to be run by his mentor, what would the mentor think after watching the athletes perform? The coach should be proud to show off the athletes. If they are performing well or poorly, it is a representation of the coaching. When you watch your athletes, do you cringe, are you ashamed, are you proud of what is happening? Would you use your daily training as an example of what to do and how to do it right? Do you exemplify leadership and integrity? Or are you just trying to slay the dragon and pay the man behind the curtain at the end of the yellow brick road to do so? I hope we have all learned something important here, coaches are responsible for guiding the path, but ultimately the individual is responsible to use common sense. Do things that set yourself up for success, not failure, yet don't sabotage your life by doing things the wrong or easy way. If the whole world was watching and you didn't know it, would you be proud of yourself?
What can I do to improve my current fitness program? Let me know if this makes sense
Upper Arm-Biceps Drag Curl (barbell)- 40 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Forearm-reverse wrist curl (dumbbell)- 20 lbs 10 reps each arm 3 sets
Shoulder-Front Raise- Incline (dumbbell)- 25 lbs 10 reps each arm 3 sets
Shoulder-Internal Rotation (cable)- not sure of the weight, but use 3 plates 10 reps 3 sets
Shoulder-Rear Dealt Row (barbell)- 60 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Upper Arm-Biceps Curl sitting incline- (dumbbell)- 25 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Upper Arm-Triceps Pushdown (cable)- again not sure of weight 6 plates 10 reps 3 sets
Back-Shrug (barbell)-180 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Shoulder-Upright Row (barbell)- 50 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Every workout I do:
Waist-Kneeling Crunch (cable)-160 lbs 30 reps 3 sets
Waist-Overhead Ball Crunch
Chest Dip- have been weaning off of assisted, started with 42 lbs of assistance 3 weeks ago, down to 24 lbs
Chest-Decline Push up
Chest-Incline Bench Press (barbell)- 90 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Back-Supine Row (body weight)-
Back-Bent Over Row (dumbbell)- 90 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Back-Seated Row (cable)- 10 plates 10 reps 3 sets
Chest-bench Press (barbell)- 90 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Waist-Kneeling Crunch (cable) 160 lbs 30 reps 3 sets
Waist-Overhead Ball Crunch 8 lbs ball 15 reps 3 sets
Hip Squat (dumbbell)- 55 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Thigh-Leg Extension (lever)- 100 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Thigh-Seated leg Curl (lever)- 130 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Thigh-(Hack Squat (barbell)- 70 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Hip-Single Leg Split Squat- body weight
Thigh-Straight Leg Deadlift (bumbell)- 55 lbs 10 reps 3 sets
Calves-Seated Calf Press (lever)- 260 30 reps 3 sets
Calves-Seated Raise (barbell)- 130 30 reps 3 sets
Waist-Kneeling Crunch (cable)- 160 lbs 30 reps 3 sets
Waist-Overhead Ball Crunch-8 lbs ball 15 reps 3 sets
3 day cycle and I rarely miss more than one day a week. I try to increase the weight ever week, i do 10 reps of most barbell or dumbbell lifts, for the body weight and push ups I do 15. For the waist kneeling crunch i do 3 sets of 30, for the ball crunch I do 3 sets of 15. Keep in mind I am not trying to bulk up, just trying to tone up.
I just started this workout about 6 weeks ago, but we spent a week in Disney and I sprained my ankle during a lacrosse game, so two of those weeks I did not do much.
Start every workout with about a mile run I told you about earlier. I feel great, lost some weight and fit into my clothes better than ever, but I feel like I am starting to stall out. Like I said, I just want to be fit and healthy and athletic, not big and bulky.
Everything you do will work for a short time period of about 6 weeks or so, but then the effects start to diminish due to your body acclimating to the process. Looking at the sample weekly training provided, it is a simple bodypart split of shoulders and arms on day 1, chest and back on day 2, and legs on day 3 with added gut work daily.
You said your goal was not hypertrophy (bigger size), but increased fitness. Yet, you are training like a bodybuilder would to add size to individual bodyparts by training them separately only one day a week. Therefore, your behavior is contradictory to your goals. Instead of bodypart splits, I recommend a period of full body training. Think of your body working as a complete system as opposed to isolating individual parts separately.
In day 1, you start with a biceps curl, then do wrist curls, then shoulder front raises, and so on. Each exercise is a single joint movement, essentially something you would rarely do in real life if you were not doing these particular exercises. There is some validity to these exercises, but they are much less important than some other more compound movements, so I would do them last in a workout, not first, if you even have the time and energy after performing more compound movements like deadlifts, squats, snatches, cleans, swings, pushups and pull ups. These exercises require more full body movement, more stability and flexibility. And to quantify mathematically what is going in particular exercises, I made the following videos to demonstrate why certain exercises are superior to others in a fitness program. Keep in mind, when you work the body as one single unit, it does not get bulky, but on the contrary gets leaner, tighter and more athletic by teaching different bodyparts to move together. Form always follows function and when you train your body as one piece instead of a collection of individual parts, you will get better results, faster.
I regularly receive questions regarding training and I do the best I can to answer them. This is something I recently received from a friend of mine regarding training for health and fitness. I will analyze what is going on and give my opinion on the training and provide possible options for improvement.
Exercise Selection - Why are certain exercises superior to others?
We want our body to work together as a single unit, as I stated, so we will incorporate many different movement patterns in a single training session to facilitate athleticism. You just do not see many top level athletes who are also fat and uncoordinated. Form follows function. When you increase your ability to do real work with superior exercises, you increase your muscularity, sexuality, vascularity and testicularity. Also, what I see in the above program is training the same muscles, like biceps or calves from several different angles, such as seated or standing. This isn't very necessary for the smaller muscles, especially for a beginners fitness program. Compare the size of your biceps, calves, deltoids and forearms to the size of your traps, lats, glutes, thighs and chesticles. They do not even come close. Focus most of your energy training your biggest muscles hard and the smaller muscles will get plenty of work in the process, without any additional direct work. Direct work can be added in if necessary for particular issues but are not beneficial in most novice to intermediate programs. For optimal results, we would build each individual part, and learn to integrate as a whole unit. Doing too much isolation work, or too much full body integrated work will yield less than optimal results as well. Finding a happy balance between integration and isolation is key to developing the balanced, athletically fit body.
Notice not only the size, but the proportion of the different muscles, particularly the average person in the middle photo. The calves are tiny in comparison to the thighs and glutes, so they require a small fraction of the work as the larger muscles. Also, like I said, the smaller muscles, in most cases are secondary muscles, will get sufficient work by focusing your training on the larger primary muscles. For example, one of the largest muscles in your body is your latissimus dorsi, and a few great exercises to train that muscle are pull ups, rows and even deadlifts. When you do a few sets of pullups, rows, and deadlifts, your biceps and forearms get much much more work done than they ever will with a few sets of biceps and wrist curls. Many fit women can deadlift well over 200 pounds, but show me one guy that can do a proper wrist curl with that weight.
Here is a sample training session with very basic equipment and full body exercises.
Sample Training Session:
1a. 2 db muscle snatch - 2x10
- superset with short rest
1b. pullups - 2x submax effort (stop before you fail)
- rest 60-90 seconds and repeat for required sets before moving to group 2.
2a. 2 db clean & press - 2x10
- superset with short rest
2b. any pushup variation - 2x submax effort (stop before it gets ugly)
- rest 90 seconds and repeat
3a. Squat variation - 2x10
- superset with little or no rest
3b. swing variation - 2x10
- rest as much as Jesus tells you to and repeat
4. Gut and Grip work of choice - x5-10 minutes of various carries and holds, abs and low back stuff
5. Finisher (optional) - 5 minutes of low skill, high intensity training like car pushing, burpees, sled work, hill sprints, nunchucking, finger banging, cockadoodling, banana hammocking or any combination of them all
Different people will require different needs. No program fits everybody perfectly. Also, athletes have different needs than general fitness enthusiasts. Those issues need to be addressed accordingly. While this option is not the best for maximal strength gain, it is a great option for general fitness and athleticism. By opting to train full body sessions regularly as opposed to splitting body parts, you can train each muscle group more frequently, almost daily, as opposed to only once per week like in a typical bodybuilding split. A gorilla would never say, "I can't do back today because I did pull ups yesterday when I climbed that canopy all day long." Nor would a horse say, "Sorry dude, no can do legs today, did some sprints in that field yesterday." I know we are not animals, we are not nearly as smart as them. We are stupid fuckin people. I also know that not everybody should train full body everyday, we need to recover our bits and pieces. But with proper training and progression, you will build your work capacity over time to handle more intensity and more frequency and yield better results. This comes from gradual build up periods, consistency, and losing your ego before you begin training. Be smart, do no harm. Start light, build up slowly, eat healthy, train smart and focus your energy on training the largest muscles with multiple joints moving together, preferably while standing on your feet, and not just one joint moving while the rest of your body sits in a chair all chilled out and relaxed. I did not cover everything, but this hopefully gives a good start to beginning an amazingly effective training program. Any questions or comments, please post up. As always, if you find any of the information here beneficial to you, please consider supporting us by investing in one or more of our products and services. I have a few strength and conditioning
workshops coming up in the next few months and would love to meet some of you personally to train and share information. Most notably is our Integrated Power Workshop
at the Jersey Shore on Feb 25th with Uncle Mike and the Milkman. Click HERE for details and registration.
Hope to see you there. We have some pretty sweet TEES and HOODIES available HERE
If you can not make it to a workshop, you can bring one home to you, my downloadable Kettlebell and Bodyweight video is available here
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, always remember to train your glutes, a solid bum is essential for maximal peepee swoleness.