Here's a little motivation to get you rockin some presses and get moving & groovin everywhere and anywhere you go. No excuses for no time to hit the gym, just get inverted and get your upper body strong. I have a ton of progressions for bodyweight pressing from beginner to advanced, but the most important thing to remember is, you'll never get better or stronger if you don't practice all the damn time. Step number one for a stronger upper body using bodyweight only is: spend some time on your hands. Until you get that through your thick skull, don't even think about step two. This video is just about getting out and having some fun. With all the intense training you do, you have to make time to play.
Bodyweight Training is, in my opinion, the best way to get your upper body stronger, healthier, more impressive looking and more useful. I'm always including some form of it in my training programs. Sometimes its bodyweight only, other times I use is as assistance for weightlifting. Either way, it rocks. If you're interested in a done-for-you program that works, and is guaranteed to get you insane results of increased strength and usefulness, not to mention a much more impressive physique, you'll want to check out Zach Even-Esh's Bodyweight Bodybuilding. This is an awesome resource that eliminates any excuse for not having the time to train or hit the gym and get great results. Check it out HERE.
First of all, before embarking on anything strenuous in your life, you'll want to make sure you don't waste any time talking to a doctor, or basically anyone of any authority for that matter. Most of them don't know shit about you or themselves, or the thing in which they claim to be an expert. Furthermore, they will probably scare you in to a stupor with ridiculous information, tell you to take it easy and try to sell you a bottle of pills. They can't possibly fathom your desire to want to change your life for the better, become a stronger man, and walk with a badass attitude that demands respect amongst your peers. In no particular order of importance, I'm gonna rattle off a bunch off shit you need to do to get bigger and stronger. What is most important is dependent on the individual.
1. Get more rest
In our quest for massiveness, we tend to always want to Go, Go, Go! Go BIGGER, Go HARDER, Go POOP in the potty... Without rest, you won't recover, get stronger or bigger. Without adequate rest, your T levels will drop and leave you feeling stagnant. Get to bed by 11:00 every night and make a habit of relaxing without tv or electronic lights for at least an hour or two before bed. There are all kinds of holistic relaxation techniques that might be foreign to you, make you feel awkward by being forced to relax and or concentrate on nothing, but if it helps you get more Zzz's and in turn increases you T's, you might want to check it out. Drink some chamomile tea or melatonin or something. Improving your sleep sleep habits is just one of many ways to improve your quest for improved muscle and strength gains, check out these 12 Simple Muscle Building Tips.
2. Take it easy on the cardio
If your goal is to gain size, do not over do the cardio. Both kinds of cardio: slow, steady state cardio and short high intensity stuff, just back off for a bit, and slowly add it in a little as you begin to grow. It will eat up too many calories that could go towards your massiveness. It will also cut in to sleep and recovery time. I know you don't want to get fat or lose your conditioning, but stay true to your current goal of getting bigger and more jacked, and back off the cardio and conditioning temporarily to allow those muscles to expand. After a few weeks when you get back in to some "cardio" training, avoid any slow monotonous treadmill stuff, it's not only boring but fairly ineffective unless you have a lot of spare time on your hands. Opt for short, high intensity finishers to burn the fat and keep you athletic in minimal time.
3. Don't fear the fat
Consuming lots of high quality fats (not mayonnaise covered french fries) can positively affect testosterone levels. Stick to the good stuff like avocados, olives, nuts, coconut, wild fish and grass fed beef. An occasional burger and fries won't hurt, but treat the shit like the holidays. Not the gubment holidays that come every other Monday and Friday to get a long weekend, but like the kind of holiday where you actually get a present, like Knobber day, I mean Valentines Day.
4. Increase protein consumption
More isn't necessarily better, but you have to find the right amount for you, and many people under-eat for muscle gain. I hear it all the time, "I eat a ton, dude!" Sure, once in a while you eat a massive meal, like a whole pizza when you're stoned, then you go in a food coma and barely eat the next day. For increased size, you need to take that same big meal and repeat that action 5 more times that day, and do it every day for months and years on end. Most people don't have the "guts" to do it. If you want to be 250 pounds, get in the habit of eating 250 grams of protein a day, every day.
5. Manipulate carbohydrate intake
Carb cycling is a popular concept and it works. You can minimize your fat gain while size and strength by manipulating your carb intake. On days you train, eat a ton more carbs than on days you don't. There are many variables here, educate yourself on macronutrient cycling and timing. You'll need to consume about 20 calories per pound of desired bodyweight per day, and a large portion of that will be carbs. So a 250 pounder will need about 5000 cals to grow. Don't fuck around with all the Paleo jazz, leave that for the health nuts. Squatting over a quarter ton isn't about being healthy, it's about getting freakin strong. If your main goal is health, eat clean, do some swings and goblet squats, and walk a lot. This is real talk. It's gonna be real hard getting 5000 calories a day from spinach. Potatoes, rice, oatmeal and cherry turnovers are your friends, get close with them.
6. Add weight to the bar
Obviously you're going to have to lift heavier than ever before if you expect your muscles to grow. If you don't give them a new stimulus they won't have any reason to adapt. Don't be a traitor to yourself and lift like an average pussy. This isn't an invitation to lift with shitty technique, but week after week, add some plates to the bar, keep the sets in the 4-8 rep range, stick to basic compound movements, and say your prayers. You'll need Jesus in your corner in a few weeks. A sample workout progression for a main lift might look something like this:
1st set: 70%, 10 reps
2nd set: 70%, 10 reps
3rd set: 80%, 7 reps
4th set: 85%, 5 reps
5th set: 90%, 3 reps
7. Keep it simple
Gaining muscle has little to do with advanced technique. I know you need solid technique to lift big weights, but let me explain what I am talking about. All these fuckin pencil neck gurus keep telling people that everything is wrong and any movement not done with perfect spinal & hip alignment will cause instantaneous antiperipheratory countercombustion compounded with hyperphalactic hepatitis. Again, you should always try to use proper technique, but when pushing your limits, shit might get ugly on occasion. Experience will let you know what to push and when to back off. Another big point here is don't focus on skill training or advanced movements. Keep it simple with powerlifting basics like squats, deads, presses and rows. Learning how to snatch does not belong in a muscle building program, especially if you're slow or the least bit unathletic. If you already know how to do it decently, thats a different story, it can help. But learning a new skill and spending a ton of time practicing technique with feather weights and pvc is time wasted building mass on your frame. Read this great article by my buddy Zach Even-Esh, Top 11 Muscle Building Exercises.
Barbell exercises are more effective for gaining size and weight than their bodyweight counterparts. Choose back squats over pistols, or heavy rows over pull ups. While some bodyweight drills can get you very strong, they won't get you big, look at any gymnast out there, while their chest and arms are ripped and strong, and they look very impressive on TV next to other gymnasts and coaches, let one stand next to an NFL running back for a minute, and you'll quickly see what an extra 85 pounds of muscle looks like. Gymnasts are strong, ripped and athletic as hell, but it's significantly easier to be ripped at a buck fiddy than 235. If size is your goal, lift big weights, but don't do anything that might get you laughed at on the YouTubes.
8. Take good supplements
If your nutrition is not on point, don't worry about which supplements to take, they won't help. But, if you're eating the right way to support your goals, you're preparing your meals, you're not skipping meals, etc. then you can try utilizing some creatine, glutamine and protein supplements like beef gelatin. Don't get caught up in the trendy stuff, stick to the basics, and add a good multi-vitamin regularly. I'm not a pharmaceuticalist, it's not my thing, I like to lift, but you can not deny the proven benefits of some of the most popular supplements on the market. First, focus on eating, lifting and resting, then play with one or two supps at a time and see for yourself if they benefit you. Thats the only way to know. Take notes and be meticulous in your practice to see if you're making gains, or merely dropping dollars. What works for one guy might not work for another, you just gotta start with what works best for most people most of the time. Most likely you are not in the top or bottom ten percent of the population that nothing works for.
9. Avoid excessive power training
Training for power means moving very fast. Speed and power is a great thing, but remember what your immediate goal right now is, getting bigger. Stay focused and don't train like a 145 pound boxer. Medicine ball throws and kettlebell swings are cool for athletes, but they won't pack slabs of beef on your thighs so your quads hang over your knee caps (which is flippin awesome, btw). Power training makes you lean and ripped, not necessarily big and strong. Power is merely an expression of ones strength, without adequate strength, power training is crap. Anything that you can move very quickly will not help gain size as much as moving in a more controlled manner with greater focus and time under tension. Stay focused on the goal and what exactly you are trying to accomplish. There are dozens of different ways to squat, each one can elicit a different response. Everything you do, you should ask yourself "Why?" When you know why you are doing something and what you are trying to accomplish, then the answer to "HOW" to do it will make more sense. Again, power training is great, but remember the goal here. For strength AND size increases, power isn't your best option.
10. Stop over thinking
Some of the dumbest guys I know are big and strong. That doesn't mean that all big, strong guys are dumb, far from it. The point is, many people tend to over think and under do. If you want to get bigger, stronger, boost your confidence, increase your sexability, and acquire all the other magical side effects that come with Swolitarianism, you'll need to gradually and consistently increase 1. the amount of weight you are moving, 2. the amount of food you are eating, 3. the amount of quality sleep you get daily, and 4. the frequency in which you are doing it. Many times the best thing you can do, is stop thinking about what you're going to do next and simply follow a program designed to get you the results you want. That way you can just execute instead of doing all the planning as well.
It's tough, and anyone can do it a few times, or once in a while, but the ones who stick with it for a long time (many years) will reap the rewards of delusions of grandeur and disproportionate epicness. We didn't even touch on all the fruity secondary stuff like recovery and mindset. I'll leave that for another time. Let's just assume that you're committed and you don't need your hand held with constant coaching/cheerleading. I love when someone tells me they have been training for years now and finally broke a certain PR, got their first muscle-up, or finally did xyz, and they expect a fuckin balloon party and the whole gym to stop and give them a pat on the back with a mental blow job. That's what is supposed to happen when you train! You're SUPPOSED to get better. But my lack-luster, unemotional response is why I will probably never excel in the fitness coaching business. I don't blow smoke up your ass and tell you how awesome you are, I show you how to get MORE awesome with every new step forward you take. It doesn't mean I don't care or never get excited, I just know what is supposed to happen with consistency and hard work. Now all you gotta do is put in the work.
There are many different types of strength such as emotional, spiritual, physiological and physical. What I am talking about right now is the development of strength in the most superficial and popular sense of the word, physical strength - getting bigger, more muscular and stronger. In order for you to attain maximal or optimal strength, you must be relatively healthy first. Physically that means you must have the ability to move in a pain free full range of motion, having good mobility, among many other things. This requires sound nutritional habits, lots of quality sleep, and of course high quality movement patterns. You are only as young as your spine is flexible. If you are tight and stiff and you don't do anything about it, you will feel a hell of a lot older than you really are. tay mobile, agile, youthful and energetic with these basic movements and exercises found in the following video.
As far as beauty, I didn't explain myself in the video very well, I tend to jumble my thoughts sometimes. I am not talking about physical beauty here. I am talking about internal beauty and living with passion and having a positive mental attitude that you are going to crush life with vigor and take massive action to acquire those things you want to achieve in life instead of feeling sorry for yourself over the things you do not have. Energy and vitality are beautiful and contagious. We all feed off of the energy around us. The best thing you can do is let everyone around you feed of of your energy and be the life force that keeps your area moving smoothly and productively. Nobody wants to be around a Debbie Downer, so don't be that dude. Have a positive attitude and work hard to achieve, and that feeling will be infectious to those around you, you'll be the motor that keeps the show running strong. Be beautiful.
The only way this information will benefit you in any way, is if you apply the knowledge in a practical, consistent way. Do what you can, when you can, and consistently try to improve your practice. I guarantee you will start feeling better and that will spark more interest for you to learn more and be inspired to try new things. Stay tuned for the next installment coming tomorrow, when I address 10 Ways to Increase Your Strength & Muscle.
In the meantime, my buddy Mike Westerdal has a great FREE PDF for you - Hampton Strength Systems. If you follow what I do, you know that powerbuilding is a great way to describe my training philosophy. We want to get strong, and look the part as well, you'll want to check out Hampton Strength Systems, it's a power building system designed to give you both strength and muscle size. And it's FREE!
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, start 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.
Deadlift Dynamite 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...
CBL 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.
What are you doing to get the best possible results from your athletes?
Whether you are planning the training for many athletes in a high school or college gym, or in a CrossFit type facility, there are many aspects you need to consider. The perfect plan can not be implemented if you do not have certain accessibility to knowledge, time or equipment. Here are some of the things that I find to be most important when programming for a large group of athletes:
These videos are getting more and more fun to put together. Sorry if you get kind of lost during the video, but this is how my brain works. I jump from here to there quite a bit, but in the end it all kind of comes together. The magic is in the video so grab yourself a Yuengling, kick back, enjoy the video, and get ready to be fired up for this next series of videos from these amazing coaches. On deck: Nia Shanks, Belton Lubas, Joe Carabase, Chris Reed and Mike Rojas.
The topic of the day is "What characteristics separate those who talk about making change in their lives and those who are taking action and getting shit done?"
Nia Shanks put it nicely when she talks about excuse makers & excuse breakers. Keeping things simple and not being overwhelmed complex strategies is key when beginning a journey of self improvement. Use basic drills that have little or no learning curve to eliminate frustration and keep things more enjoyable. She says it is crucial to set yourself up for success with proper planning.
Focusing on the positive & eliminate the negative, says Joe Carabase, can help you gain a perspective that can help keep you in the game. Don't overwhelm yourself with details, whether it's diet or exercise, just get started and you'll see how positive behavior breeds more positive behavior. Exercise is a gateway to more exercise, he says.
Belton Lubas realizes that for people to make serious changes in their life, they need to have a strong reason WHY they want to achieve or change a certain thing. Their goals need to be specific, and under no circumstances allow yourself to fail. You accomplish this by burning the bridges behind you so you have no choice but to move forward, there is no going back. Failure is not an option. Have a vision, have a goal and attack it. His biggest change occurred when his back was against the wall and he was all out of options, he had nothing to lose and something to prove.
We all WANT to drive a BMW, says Chris Reed, but an expensive car is not what we NEED to get us from point A to point B. Sack up and take action, don't fear consequences, and learn that failure is your greatest teacher, so the sooner you embrace it, the more you will learn and grow. We are all going to have tough times, but how you respond in those difficult times is going to measure your character, are you going to fight or will you flee?
The perfect time is never going to come, you must take action now and you will learn more as you go, says Mike Rojas. Find out whats holding you back, make that self discovery, take personal responsibility for your actions and embrace the consequences that you made for yourself.
Everyone should have a personal constitution, and every action you take should coincide with the goals that you set forth for yourself. Everything you do, ask yourself if it is helping you or hurting you. Nobody is going to wipe your ass for you when you shit the bed. Mistakes will happen, clean yourself up and get moving again. Check out the following video and share your thoughts below.
Grab your self a cold beer or two and enjoy this power packed chat with coaches from around the world, from different generations, spilling their guts on where they came from and how they evolved into the coaches and athletes they are today. As always, drop a comment on how and why your training has changed courses over the years and let us know who and what encouraged your new direction.
Coach Talk - Improving Athletic Development
Coach Talk - What are we missing?
By: Louie Simmons
When lifters repeatedly use the same simple method of training to raise their strength level, they will eventually stall. Like the scholar who must utilize many sources of information to achieve a higher level of knowledge, the lifter must incorporate new and more difficult exercises to raise their standards. Many have the theory that to squat, bench, or deadlift more, you simply have to do the three lifts. If it were that simple no one would need special exercises, machines, or systems of training. But we know this is not true.
Because lifters have different body types, they may excel at one lift but struggle with another. The great Lamar Gant was the only lifter I have known who held the world record deadlift and bench at the same time. There are men who hold three world records in the deadlift, yet can’t make the top 10 bench list. Their muscles in the upper body are, I’m sure, as strong as anyone’s, but they are limited by body structure, e.g., short torso, long arms. Many of us are affected by this. But is there an answer?
In the early 1970s, the Dynamo Club in the former Soviet Union had 70 highly skilled Olympic lifters. They were introduced to a system of 20-45 special exercises that were grouped into 2-4 exercises per work-out and were rotated as often as necessary to make continuous progress They soon found out that as the squat, good morning, back raise, glute/ham raise, or special pulls got stronger, so did their Olympic lifts. When asked about the system, only one lifter was satisfied with the number of special lifts; the rest wanted more to choose from. And so the conjugate system was originated.
When you have a body type that lacks say, the muscles that squat and yet you squat on a regular basis, then a coupling of special exercises for the glutes, hamstrings, hips, and lower back are needed to fortify those areas. These special exercises will en-able you to raise your squat once more.
Think about it if you read only one book, no matter how many times you read it, you will only learn so much. If you only squat, you will get only so strong because no new stimulus is introduced. This may not happen in the early stages of training, but as you become more advanced, you will need a more strenuous method of training. This training will indeed help your motor potential and help you to perfect your technical skill.
Before I present some examples of conjugate training, think about this. How much could you bench press the first time you tried? 200? 300 perhaps? Now how did you achieve that level of strength without ever having benched be-fore? You did it through simplified training such as pushups and pull-ups. Those of you who could bench 300 the first time will never double that amount without doing specialized work to raise your strength, right?
Here are some examples of the conjugate method. Glen Chabot bench presses only twice a month. Both times he uses a close-grip style He can do 405 for reps in the low teens. His best single close grip is 635 without a shirt. In between each workout, he rotates heavy dumbbell work on a flat or incline bench or very heavy bodybuilding exercises for lats, delts, pecs, and triceps.
This linking of special exercises has given Glen a 705 bench press at 275. Glen does not arch when he benches and has fairly long arms. He realized that he needed a special program to fortify his pressing muscles. This is a simple but very effective training program.
A more complex system is Kenny Patterson’s. He will do floor press, chain press, board press, incline press, and over-head press, just to name a few, rotating to a different- exercise each max effort day. On the dynamic day, Kenny uses three different grips on the bench press and uses 60% of his no-shirt max for 8 sets of 3 reps. He adds a lot of triceps extensions with dumbbells or the barbell, rows (one-arm, two-arm, chest-supported), pull downs, delt raises, and forearm work. This is a more complex system than Glen’s, but it suits Kenny’s needs. Kenny is a legitimate 700 bencher, having done it several times across the country.
Mike Ruggiera and myself just made 900 squats. It was a 50 pound increase for him and a 40-pound increase for me, yet we did not do a single regular squat in between meets. We do box squats on speed days with a large amount of bands and weight. We also use the reverse hyper machine and do glute/ham raises, pull-throughs, and abs. I pull a weighted sled before my squat workouts.
On max effort day, we do good mornings (five varieties), belt squats, speed deadlifts (60% for 6-8 singles), and Safety Power Squat Bar squats to different box heights. Mike also pulled his first 800 deadlift, without having done any conventional squats and no big deadlifts. After squatting he does deadlifts for singles with 60% for speed, and three days later he maxes out on special work: this is the conjugate method.
To push up a squat, heavy good mornings or squatting with different bars is done on max effort day. The different bars make squatting very awkward and extremely hard to do, much harder than a regular squat. (The same is true of box squats; they are harder than competition squats.) On max effort day we may do a type of squat on week 1, a good morning on week 2. and a front squat on week 3, each exercise contributing to the next week’s exercise, which in turn will build a bigger squat by strengthening the weaker muscle group and perfecting form.
The training is linked together, enabling you to raise your total. For instance, to build the glute and hamstring area, push up your reverse hyper extensions as hard as possible until your progress slows. Move on to pull-throughs for a week or two, until progress in these slows as well. Then go to glute/ham raises, and again push as fast and hard as possible. Then pull a sled walking forward to build the glutes/hamstrings. It is possible to continuously gain strength in any body part by switching special exercises. As the effectiveness of the exercise decreases, switch to another one. By training in this manner, it is possible to raise all types of strength throughout the year.
On max effort day the entire volume consists of unidirectional loading. One training workout contributes to the next. Keep in mind that if you train a lift at 90% or more for more than 3 weeks, your central nervous system is negatively and your progress will go backward. But by switching exercises each week (for the high-level lifter), you can use 100% and more each week. The sequence of exercises you use does not matter, as long as the load is maximal. The time it takes to do a maximal effort, for example in a low box squat with a Manta Ray, takes at least as long as max deadlift or squat. This is called “time under tension”.
The conjugate method also improves SPP (special physical preparedness e.g., speed deadlifts, plyometrics) and GPP (general physical preparedness; e.g., sled dragging). This is the most effective method to gain strength continuously throughout the year, with no ridiculous off-season. No one can afford to take time off. By maintaining the speed work for the three lifts and increasing general wonk (e.g., upper and lower body sled work, lats, abs, and triceps) you won’t go back-ward. There are many methods of training, but by incorporating the conjugate method, you can’t miss.
The following is a great summary of The Conjugate Method by EKnight from the innerwebz muscle forums:
For those who are curious, interested, or otherwise just looking for what is considered by most elite powerlifters as the best training regime, this is the Westside Barbell Club powerlifting routine. I used these training methods on the way to personal bests of 420 pound bench at a bodyweight of 140 pounds and 370 pound bench at 132. This is NOT a hypertrophy routine, should not be used by anyone who is still growing, anyone without spotters (yes, there are very heavy weight, low rep days), or anyone not medically cleared to lift heavy weight or exercise regularly. I have NO affiliation to the WSB club (they're in Ohio, I'm in the Southeast), and I give full credit to Louis Simmons for development of the routine and to Jim Wendler whose info I used to post this. Enjoy!
Sunday - Dynamic Effort Bench
Dynamic Bench Press
Monday - Max Effort Squat/DL
Max Effort Exercise
Wednesday - Max Effort Bench Press
Max Effort Exercise
Friday - Dynamic Squat/DL
Review of the Standard Template
2 days devoted to the bench press
2 days devoted to the squat/deadlift
2 days devoted to dynamic training
2 days devoted to max effort training
4 days devoted to repetition training
Now let's review some of the training parameters within this template. For the sake of simplicity, I'm going to leave out chains and bands. Everything is going to be done with straight weight so there will be no confusion about percentages. Plus, I am going to leave out stance, grip changes, rest periods, etc. In reality, most of this stuff is inconsequential once you grasp the big picture.
Bench Press Parameters for the Standard Template (dynamic, max effort and repetition)
Dynamic bench press - 8 sets of 3 repetitions; all sets done are done with 55% of raw 1RM. Rest periods are approximately 60 seconds, but have never really seen the purpose of this, personally. The whole goal of speed day is to move the bar quickly on the concentric. If you need to take an extra minute to accomplish the goal of the day, then by all means, do so. Also, don't get too hung up on changing your grips. The only reason why I changed my grip on this day was to keep track of the number of sets I was doing. Again, remember why you are doing what you are doing.
Max effort bench press - this includes a variety of exercises, but the most common are the floor press, 2 board press, 3 board press, incline press and close grip bench press. On max effort bench press day, you pick one of these exercises and work to a 1RM. Most will switch to a different exercise every 1-2 weeks and simply try to break their record. On this day, based on your 1RM for THAT day, you will try to do 3 lifts at or above 90%. You can take as much rest as you want, but I would probably say around 3-5 minutes between your heaviest sets.
Triceps - one day is devoted to high intensity/low volume triceps work, the other is devoted to low intensity/high volume triceps. For example, high intensity triceps training would consist of 4 or 5 board presses or rack lockouts. The low intensity training will be geared to triceps extensions and pushdowns. On what day to put each of these is entirely up to you. In my experience, I've always had good results putting the high intensity day on dynamic bench day.
Shoulders - this is similar to the triceps in that there is a high intensity and low intensity day. The high intensity day is technically not high intensity, but high stress. In this category, I would put dumbbell bench press, dumbbell incline presses, military presses (with dumbbells or a straight bar) and dumbbell floor presses. In the low stress category, front raises, side raises and rear raises are good choices. Again, you can choose which day to put them on, but I liked putting the high stress shoulder training on dynamic bench day.
Lats/Upper back - Both days are devoted to lats and upper back and both are done with low intensity, high volume. The way that I worked this is that on Sunday, I would do lat work (usually a row or a pull-up) and no upper back work. On Wednesday, I would do another lat workout (but with a different exercise) and my low stress shoulder work would consist of a rear raise, face pull or a seated dumbbell power clean. So essentially, on the low stress shoulder day, I would kill two birds with one stone: an upper back exercise with a low stress shoulder movement. I did this because I never did front raises or side raises and felt that I got enough stimulation from my other work. It's not gospel, but it's something to think about.
Squat and Deadlift Parameters for the Standard Template
Dynamic Squat - All sets done on a parallel box. A three week wave is used using the following sets and reps.
Week 1 - 10x2 @ 50%
Week 2 - 10x2 @ 55%
Week 3 - 10x2 @ 60%
Upon completion of the 3rd week, you simply start the wave over again. All %'s are based on your best squat. Let's disregard equipment at this point and say it's based on your best 1RM of your box squat wearing whatever you usually wear on this day. Again, refer to my commentary on dynamic bench training regarding rest periods. This is not conditioning, this is speed work. Save your conditioning for another time.
Max Effort Squat and Deadlift - Similar to the max effort bench press, one exercise is used per week and worked up to a 1RM. Because most people have eliminated good mornings as a max effort exercise, I will choose the following for your exercises. I understand that many do not have these bars that I list, but this is the list, nonetheless:
Safety squat bar squat
Cambered bar squat
Manta Ray squat
(All squats are done on a low (1-2" below parallel), parallel or high (1-2" above parallel) box. As you can tell, there is a great many variations with these three exercises.
Rack deadlifts (or pin pulls)
Deadlifts while standing on elevated platform
Reverse band deadlifts
Again, you want to hit around 3 lifts at or above 90% of your 1RM for that day. Most people switch exercises every week or every 2 weeks. Try to break your PR from your previous effort. To make things easier, simply switch between a squat movement and a deadlift movement. Rest 3-5 minutes between your heaviest sets.
Hamstrings - now here is where things get tricky. Unlike the shoulders/triceps routine of high intensity/low intensity, many people are weak at such exercises as the glute ham raise that they simply need to do the exercise and not worry so much about sets/reps. If you don't fall into this category, you can do bodyweight glute ham raises on one day, and on the other day, you can add a band or a plate for resistance.
Low Back - Again, we cannot really isolate the lower back without hitting the glutes and hamstrings. But you can pick from exercises such as back raises, 45 degree back raises, Reverse Hyperextensions, pull-throughs and good mornings. Depending on how you do some of these exercises (i.e. with a great amount of intensity) you can use ONE of these for your hamstring and low back exercise. For example, good mornings can be done for both. If you were to pick reverse hyperextensions or pull-throughs, then you can get away with doing an extra hamstring exercise. Some people can train their lower back twice a week, others cannot. A good way to do this is to pick one "easy" exercise (R.H., pull-throughs, un-weighted back raises or band good mornings) on one day and pick a heavier exercise on the second lower body training day.
Abdominals - These are usually trained heavy twice a week in the standard template. Some good exercises to choose from weighted sit ups, Roman Chair sit-ups, stability ball, hanging leg raises, side bends. This is not very complicated but you just need to do them; that's usually the hardest part.
Last post I talked about the 5 best lower body exercises for athletes. In this post I will cover my top 5 upper body exercises for athletes.
While the power jerk is really a full body exercise, it often gets compared to the military press and push press. With that said, the power jerk is the king of overhead press variations. When done properly, you should be able to handle a lot more weight in the power or split jerk then in the military or push press.
While the other overhead press variations are good, the jerk is even better because it is a much more of an athletic movement. Without your legs producing a lot of force, you will never be able to jerk a good amount of weight.
Aside from deadlifts, I can’t think of many exercises that will address a weak grip, weak upper back and weak posterior chain like farmer walks. These are often weak areas for 90% of athletes.
One of the main benefits of farmer walks is they are less taxing on the body then deadlifts. Perform these by walking with heavy dumbbells, kettlebells for a certain distance or time.
"Its a great idea to end two or three training sessions a week with some form of carries. Start light and make short trips, work your way up over time. They are one of my favorite exercises due to the tons of benefits and accessibility of the exercise." - Matt Wichlinski
Push-ups are often overlooked as being too easy but the truth is when done correctly, push-ups are an excellent exercise to strengthen the pressing muscles. While the bench press is also great, I prefer push-ups because it is an open chained exercise where the scapula can move freely.
Gymnastic rings are my favorite variation because the shoulders and abs must work harder to stabilize.
I remember Joe DeFranco saying a long time ago that there was a correlation between how fast an athlete is and how many pull-ups he or she can do. Simply put, if you want to be fast, you need to have a high level of relative body strength and this is exactly what pull-ups measure.
Not only are pull-ups a great indication of relative body strength but they are also the best exercise to strengthen vertical pulling.
Having a strong back is critical to your shoulder health and there is no better way to strengthen your back then with rows. While there are many different variations of rows, chest supported rows are the most effective because there is no stress on the lower back (like in bent over rows) and more effective training stimulus then inverted rows.
While there are a ton of other great upper body exercises, these are my go to ones because they work! Remember when it comes to choosing exercises, there needs to be a reason why you are doing it. If not, then scrap it.
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