Joanne Sullivan- Strength Training, Roller Derby and Improved Performance!

Joanne Sullivan has been playing for the Barnsley Black Heart Rollers for a couple of years now (I maybe rounding up slightly, I’m not sure!)

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Joanne Sullivan in action

She has never been a bad player, and always has her entire team’s back. She is dependable and is always up for working hard.

However, I recently started training Jo on a Monday night (usually in the freezing cold) and we looked at how she moved and we discovered a number of movement habits that could be affecting her performance.

Her knees tend to cave in, her glutes were not working properly/ weak/ long/ something that resembles one of those things.

We got her strength training, got rid of the weights mnchines and put some real focus into moving well. Jo has put these suggestions into practice in the gym where she trains and this is what she said after her last outing with the Black Heart Rollers:

 I just want say a massive thank you for all the training and tips you have given me!! My two games this weekend we’re much improved to the point people are still commenting on it. (The Monday after)

Essentially all I have Jo doing is focussing on her movement weaknesses, I throw things at her to see what sticks (wide squats, side to side lunges, kettlebell swings….) and cut away a great deal of other things (box jumps, various resistance machine exercises) and then we changed up the order that she does things.

Through this we have made her more efficient in her movements and moving better without having to think about it.

Moving better WITHOUT thinking is they key here. Everyone can consciously improve their posture when they think about it but the second something else pops into their mind the same old patterns come through and movement or performance isn’t really changed.

Only through conscious diligent effort has Jo managed to change things.

Jo is a walking example of how extremely simple strength training can massively improve performance in Roller Derby and in other areas of life.

There is no magic program to this. Move well. Do some squats, do some swings, do some lunges, perhaps chuck in some pressing overhead, do some rows (this is something I need to get Jo doing more of,) do some loaded carries and be able to get on and off the floor easily. This is it really.

Drink lot’s of water too. I’m really bad at this and I always pay the price.

Well done Jo, you are awesome.

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By Chris Kershaw

Slightly Jumped Up Personal Trainer of the Level 3 Variety

 

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True Inspiration: Robert Beattie, Obese AND Out of Shape Turned Lean Powerlifter

Essentially this will read as a testimonial because I have worked with Rob for years now and introduced him to Powerlifting a couple of years ago.

Once upon a time he was known as ‘Fat Rob.’ Needless to say he had come a long way since then.

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One of his more flattering ‘fat pics’

This isn’t a ‘look at just how happy he is because he’s lost weight!’ posts either. Fat people aren’t necessarily miserable or unhealthy. What I admire in Rob is his unending dedication towards achieving goals.

Goal 1

Achieve a six-pack= achieved (despite constant hunger and a host of other issues)

Goal 2- Become a competitive powerlifter. Has he achieved this? He certainly has.

Below are some videos of his lifts at a recent competition where he totalled 490kg from his squat, deadlift and bench press. He would have got 500kg but for a mistake on his 3rd bench press attempt. But 500kg will be shattered soon.

220kg Deadlift

90kg Bench Press (He got 100 on the next lift)

170kg Squat

Goal 3- 500kg+ Total= soon to be achieved

No fad diet got Rob to where he is today. No 10 minute miracle ab work out. No secret supplement stack (I try and try to get him to take creatine though, he still hasn’t budged, stubborn swine!)

Just dedication and consistent progressively heavier lifting and listening to the right people (certainly not just me) got him here. His deadlift has the potential to break records. No pressure Mr Beattie.

Well done Rob on your first of many competitions. I hope to be on the platform with you soon and look forward to our continued friendship in and out of the gym.

While I don’t want this to be a testimonial, at it’s heart I am a trainer interested and passionate about getting people stronger. If that’s something you want to do drop me an email at chris@getprimal.co.uk or add me on facebook (facebook name: Chris Kershaw PT) and send me a message.

Be strong. Be confident. Lift big. Be consistent (unless you’re consistently lazy!)

Chris Kershaw

A Thoroughly Not Violent and Not Shouty Testimonial- Peter Redfern’s OutFIT Journey So Far

Peter Redfern Age: 60 (I thought late 40’s early 50’s, but clearly I know nothing)

A bit about Peter from my perspective:

I’ve worked with him for just a few weeks now, having just taken over the Wetherby OutFIT location. He related to me how badly injured his knee’s are/ were and has proceeded to storm every single session I’ve seen him take part in. He continues to make great strides in his fitness levels and I wish him the best of luck in getting back into the sweaty and violent world of football. Here’s to seeing you at many more OutFIT sessions in future Pete!

Chris K

Ok here’s what Peter has to say about OutFIT:

 

“I’ve been going to circuits classes, keep fit classes and played football up and down the country for over 40 years. I rate the Outfit classes as the most enjoyable, varied and effective sessions I have ever tried.

I had to stop football at 57 due to repeated knee knack following breaking my ACL at 50. After a year of Outfit my knees are the best they have been in years!

I am now thinking about another footy comeback!

(Writer’s note: I love his use of the word ‘another.’ Pete definitely doesn’t seem like someone comfortable with ever slowing down!)

The combination of working outdoors and the friendly but competitive nature of the classes make the experience almost as enjoyable as football – without the swearing and violence of course (CK- I’m sure I swear sometimes.)

I started the year querying what the male equivalent to dropping a dress size was and was informed that it’s moving the next hole on your belt.

I have done that easily and I think am in the best shape I have been in for years, so thanks from Jane for that!”

Peter Redfern

outfit

OutFIT is a growing Outdoor Fitness Community with many locations. We try to distinguish ourselves from the competitiors by focusing on quality instruction rather than just yelling a lot and giving everyone a ‘beasting.’ Don’t mistake me on this…you’ll get a thorough working out but it will be appropriate to you, with harder or easier versions of everything at our fingertips. Any level of fitness can take part.

You can find our site at www.outfituk.com and you can book in for your first free session there.

Happy Fitness 🙂

CJK

DRIVING FOR 8 HOURS A DAY WILL MAKE YOU DIE- HOW TO SURVIVE LONG CAR JOURNEYS

Back pain due to poor driving position

This person spends a lot of time driving. He sits in the same position for up to 10 hours per day.

One day this man will die.

Sitting all day will kill him dead if he doesn’t sort it out immediately!

Of course this isn’t the case, but if you do spend an inordinate amount of time driving and maintaining a position that restricts movement and puts you into an awful position (affecting breathing and even how you feel psychologically) it negatively affects your life. You’ll probably feel awful after a long drive and while sitting for long periods of time may not structurally shorten the hip flexors sitting still for so long certainly inhibits performance.

Recently my spine exploded. I’m not sure what’s happened. I should have gone to the doctors but I am a man (therefore stupidly too fucking proud to go 99.9% of the time) therefore I didn’t. I noticed that sitting still results in agony and not really being able to move at all. This was especially bad after a 90 minute drive recently where I kind of just grinded my teeth and got on with it as the pain increasingly descended all the way down the left leg.

Later, on the way home from a clients house a quote from someone came to mind (Eric Cressey perhaps) who said something along the lines of “the best posture is one that is constantly moving in a pain free and efficient way” so I decided to make up a bit of a movement complex each time I had to stop for some reason or for when just driving along the motorway.

I reached over my left shoulder with my right arm to touch the head rest, I repeated on the other side 5 times

I touched my nose to the top of the steering wheel 5 times (so I could still see the road and keep hold of the wheel!)

I touched the left window with my left hand

I pushed my chest up 5 times

flexed my quad/ stretched my hamstring 5 times each side.

I repeated this as often as I could with the theory being that if I move around as much as possible, perhaps my movement might not suck quite as much as it normally does after a long drive. I plan to introduce more movements as I experiment. Hopefully I won’t crash and hopefully it will mean that I won’t have to worry about performing really badly in the gym after a long drive (because caffeine defeats tiredness.)

I’m going to keep going with this and see what happens. So far my back feel 7 million times better.

See if you can apply some of these techniques when you find yourself on an epic driving journey and see what you come up with.

Loads of people will have come up with things like this before. So if you’re a fitness professional and I’m butchering your work and making a mockery of the field then please make me aware of it in the comments section!

I Have No Idea What You Just Said…..A Guide to Gym Terminology Part 4

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you part 4 of this epic terminological journey!

In this edition we will be wandering into the realms of the following terms:

Hypertrophy, Progressive Overload, Overtraining, Burpees, Plank, fast and slow twitch muscle, goblet exercises, lateral exercises, singles/doubles/triples, 1RM, energy systems, sumo stance, close grip, interval training, tabata, pyramid training, drop sets, functional training, DOMS.

Hypertrophy

This is the increase in muscle size seen when you train. Start a training programme from doing absolutely nothing and you’ll see hypertrophy. It’s what bodybuilders train for, and it’s what you see as a by-product of training for such things as rugby, gymnastics and diving among many others.

There are two main types of hypertrophy or muscle growth:

Myofibrillar and Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is where the muscle sarcomere itself expands in size giving the muscle a larger surface area but retaining the same number of fibres whereas in myofibrillar hypertrophy it is an increase in the number of muscle myofibrills in the muscle. You don’t actually need to worry about this at all.

hypertrophy

If you are a bodybuilder or just want to get stronger then hypertrophy is going to be of primary interest. It will result in your muscles having a greater cross-sectional area which has been shown to be highly correlated with strength.

So what is the best way to produce hypertrophy?

  • Regardless of the rep ranges you are using you should be actively increasing the weight you lift in each individual rep, set, work out, week, month and year (progressive overload.) Often, especially if you are above beginner status it doesn’t happen in a linear fashion. You will have bad or weak work outs, but that’s fine. We all have them. You probably just didn’t get enough sleep or drink enough water. If you’ve been lifting the same weight for months and are well and truly in your comfort zone then it is time to work a bit harder!
  • Train the muscles from various angles and use different exercises periodically (not necessarily changing all your exercises, after all there may be some you have to keep in for your sport) or play around with exercises by changing how long each repetition takes (the longer each repetition takes the more muscle damage it will create and the harder it will be)
  • Use a range of motion that actually targets the muscles you want to grow. If the lift looks like shit and you barely moved it doesn’t count. Get a lighter weight, do the exercise properly and make some gains instead of feeling happy at just how much weight you can bench press 2 inches up and down on the smith machine
  • Control the negative phase of the lift for a couple of seconds and perform the concentric phase as fast as yo’ ass can move. This puts the most force through the muscle fibre and hopefully will drive some optimal levels of hypertrophy

Progressive Overload

This means working progressively harder over time. This could mean gradually lifting more weight, doing more reps, having less recovery time between sets, running further, running faster and about a million other examples. Progressive overload over time is paramount if you plan on keeping achieving greater performance in the gym.

At first you’ll be able to make load’sa gains. You’ll probably hit a PB week for the first 6 months of training. Eventually these results slow right down. GODDAMN DIMINISHING RETURNS!!!!!!!!!!!!

So if you’ve been walking on a treadmill in exactly the same way as 6 months ago and you are wondering why you don’t feel any different I’d suggest you try to make your sessions more difficult and repeat once this higher level becomes easy you just repeat the process until you have hopefully achieved the level of fitness you want. Increase the speed you are walking and bring it back down every other minute at first or throw in a set of 20 bodyweight squats every 5 minutes or something. Doing the same thing in exactly the same way month upon month kills progress.

Overtraining or Overtraining Syndrome

Does overtraining exist?

Overtraining is where you train too much over a long period of time causing a number of negative impacts upon your health one of which being decreased performance. Some of the things associated with overtraining syndrome are:

  • Decreased performance
  • A loss of all motivation to train
  • High amounts of fatigue and ‘heavy legs’ (going upstairs would feel like you were climbing a mountain, not just regular DOMS from the leg day you skipped for the last 4 weeks fellas)
  • Changes in multiple body systems including the neurological, immunolgical and endocrinal systems- in short you will feel like shit.

A less severe type of overtraining is called overeaching and is expected when you are an advanced athlete or when you are training a lot. Training to be elite takes it’s tole as you have to do more work for less improvements. Many programs specifically send athletes into what would be called overreaching to provide variety to the training stimulus and is easily recovered from in a few days. Matt Perryman in his book Squat Everyday postulates that you can train through these phases to a certain degree to make your body adapt and that the body can handle a lot more than many people realise if you plan correctly and use your mental energy sparingly. I’m currently squatting near maximum everyday…I am still alive so I will keep you informed as to what I think of this!

UPDATE: I’ve been squatting pretty much every day for a month now and my personal best in the squat has gone up by 7.5kg. I was stuck at around 175kg for roughly 3 years until I began squatting all the time. Interestingly my bench press press maximum has increased by 5kg’s this month after been stuck at 127.5 for what seems like forever (roughly 2 years.)

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Awesome book

Overtraining happens when you are one of those people who worry about everything, you don’t sleep very well, you have terrible relationships, have a high stress job (you might be depressed or anxious too) and then you do excessive training,  and probably have to resort to devouring caffeine by the gallon in an attempt to feel normal and up for moving around let alone exercising regularly.

I believe I’ve seen one person who genuinely was overtrained, overstressed and over fatigued. She didn’t have the energy to crack a smile let alone a set of squats. You’ll know overtraining when you see or feel it. So if someone tells you they are overtrained they are probably full of it and just a bit tired. Tell them to stop moaning and to have a few days off going crazy in the gym.

Burpees

Ah the burpee, possibly the most hated exercise known to man apart from kipping pull-ups (otherwise known as swinging around from a bar like a tosser.)

Unlike the kipping pull-up they work incredibly well at conditioning the body when used correctly.

The burpee is one of the simplest and effective strength and conditioning whole body exercises.

According to Wikipedia the burpee was named after an American Physiologist called Dr. Royal H. Burpee. Well Mr. Royal, you are off all of our collective Christmas card lists. You won’t even get a Christmas email, or a facebook message on your birthday for creating this monster of an exercise.

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The burpee is a four count exercise.

1 From standing go into a squat position wiuth your hands touching the floor just in front of your fett

2 Immediately jump your feet back until your bodyweight is equally distributed between your hands and your feet.

3 Immediately bring your feet back into the squat position

4 From this low squat position jump up high into what is called triple extension or just to a standing position

burpee

In terms of how to program the burpee into your workouts I’d suggest putting them towards the end of your sessions, possibly as a brutal finisher. Perhaps seeing how many you can do in a certain amount of time (like a minute or five ;)) or do them tabata style or interval style. You could place them in a circuit or as an exercise in and of themselves. If you want a real challenge perform them wearing a weighted vest or do them single-legged for time…this isn’t easy!

Fast and Slow Twitch Muscle Fibres

You have two types of muscle fibres within the muscle with different subtypes within the two but for the sake of simplicity we are just going to cover type I  and type II and leave the smooth muscle of the organs alone. Each individual muscle has a different percentage of fast and slow fibres and are subject to voluntary contractions i.e you can choose to use a particular muscle by moving a certain way. Some muscles like the soleus of the lower leg contain a relatively high percentage of slow twitch fibres whereas muscles like the triceps contain a relatively higher percentage of fast-twitch muscles cells. This can have implications for when you are choosing the amount of repetitions you are going to with a particular exercise.

The word ‘twitch’ is used because of how quickly the individual cell can twitch.

Type I and II fibres have different characteristics as laid out in the following table from Wikipedia:

Properties Type I fibers Type IIA fibers Type IIX fibers
Motor Unit Type Slow Oxidative (SO) Fast Oxidative/Glycolytic (FOG) Fast Glycolytic (FG)
Twitch Speed Slow Fast Fast
Twitch Force Small Medium Large
Resistance to fatigue High High Low
Glycogen Content Low High High
Capillary Supply Rich Rich Poor
Myoglobin High High Low
Red Color Dark Dark Pale
Mitochondrial density High High Low
Capillary density High Intermediate Low
Oxidative Enzyme Capacity High Intermediate-high Low
Z-Line Width Intermediate Wide Narrow
Alkaline ATPase Activity Low High High
Acidic ATPase Activity High Medium-high Low

Type I fibres produce energy by utilising oxygen to break down a compound called ATP (adenotriphosphate) releasing energy to ultimately cause movement. The contractions aren’t as strong as seen in the type II fibres, however they have an endurance capacity that smashes the other fibre types out of the water (apart from smooth and cardiac muscle.) So, if you have a high amount of slow twitch type 1 fibres you will be better at endurance events and if you have a relatively larger amount of fast twitch type II fibres then you are more likely to be better at strength events such as powerlifting or Olympic lifting.

farah

Long Distance Runners have the highest percentage of slow-twitch muscle fibres in the athletic population

powerlifter

Powerlifters and Olympic Lifters have a large percentage of fast-twitch muscle fibres due to the low number of repetitions and high amounts of weight used in competition

So you have been blessed with a muscle fibre composition that isn’t ideal for your chosen sport…is there anything you can do about it?

Can you change your muscle fibres to perform better?

Let’s see what the literature says:

“Today, it is generally accepted that exercise training can promote changes within the population of fast-twitch fibers (i.e., type IIb to IIa) and to a lesser extent changes from fast- to slow-twitch fibers.”

There is also something called the SAID principle which stands for ‘Specific Adaptations to the Imposed Demands.’ This means that when you put your body through stress it tries to adapt to it and therefore be better at the task in future.

From the literature I have seen and the adaptations I have seen over the years of playing different sports at numerous levels I think that muscle fibres have a moderate degree of plasticity. You don’t have to worry about changing your fibre types directly anyway. Train for your sport properly and the adaptations will take care of themselves whether the fibres themselves are changing or not. If you are training and eating correctly it is then your genetics that will determine how far you can go (to a point.)

Goblet Exercises

Insert pics of goblet squats, maybe a youtube video or something

I enjoy goblet exercises.

They make me move better.

The idea is that you hold an piece of equipment (usually a dumbbell or a kettlebell, but I guess you could use others) as if you are holding a huge drinking goblet at your chest to drink from.

It’s an excellent way to add resistance to exercises like the squat or lunges (any variation) and can be used as a great tool to help people ‘stay tall’ in certain movements. Taught properly, goblet exercises can improve upper back strength and muscle size, can carry over well to other exercises, can strengthen the lower back and can provide a new exercise stimulus and variation if you are sick of holding weights by your sides or across your shoulders in the form of a barbell. Goblet squats are an excellent way to reinforce good movement patterns in the squat without having to use very heavy weights

crying girl

“I DON’T WANT TO DO HEAVY BACK SQUATS TODAY!!!”- Anonymous crying girl

Lateral Exercises

Lateral means “of, at, to or from the sides” if you search for it on Google. So if you are looking at a person doing a lateral exercise face to face they would be moving something from side to side. Great examples of lateral exercises are side-bends, lateral raises, lateral or side lunges and many many more. I like to try and include a lateral exercise in each session as it is often a type of movement that is overlooked, particularly when it comes to leg training.

Side to side lunges are common in my sessions with barbells and holding kettlebells and occasionally I might drop in the occasional HEAVY side bends. The side-bend is such an abused exercise, it’s done wrong all the time and when people do it they tend stick at the same weight and reps forever…. and produce movements that ae just no benefit whatsoever.

If you really want to challenge the side-bend movement then try doing it with a barbell!

Singles/ Doubles and Triples

You might see these preceded by the word ‘heavy’ fairly often when reading through different training protocols, particularly in the Powerlifting or Strongman realms. A heavy single would normally involve doing a compound exercise for one repetition as seen in Powerlifting competitions, a double is exactly the same thing but done for 2 reps and a triple is (as you’ve probably guessed) an exercise done for 3 reps in a set.

CBELL-1-2

Heavy strength training like this would be done at the beginning of your workout where you have the most energy, focus and strength.

1RM or One Rep Max

1RM simply means the most weight you can lift for one repetition in a particular exercise, this can  be worked out fairly accurately by some sums (insert them into the article) by lifting a weight for 10 reps for example, or it can be a weight that you have actually lifted. You often find programs where the weight you are supposed to lift is based on your 1RM, so you might have to do sets with 50,60 or 75% of your 1RM for instance. These are usually compound lifts as you will very rarely do a 1 rep max attempt on something like a machine bicep curl unless you’re participating in a study or training wrong/ messing about.

When testing your one rep max be sure to have someone at least in the near vicinity who can phone an ambulance if the lift goes awry/ you go too heavy too soon!

Testing one rep maxes every week is absolutely fine until a certain point where it can take too much out of you. Until that point though, test them as often as you like as long as that form is bang on. If the lift looks like shit it doesn’t count!

Energy Systems

First and foremost I have to say that this breaking muscle article had a huge influence on this section of this post.

We may be here a while with this one!

When training, researching training or even when you are training clients as a Personal Trainer you are going to hear people talking about training different energy systems and the different energy systems within the body that ultimately produce performance.

I guess the first thing to note is that although the different energy systems have different names they are all actually part of a sliding energy system continuum for utilizing the molecule called ATP that turns on whenever you do anything where (depending on what you are doing) the different energy systems ‘turn up/down’ to match the needs of your activity.

So what are the different energy systems?

A 1rm squat would use the ATP-PC energy system which is anaerobic (doesn’t use oxygen) energy pathway. The CP part stands for creatine phosphate.

In this energy pathway ATP is broken down into ADP + P. The creatine phosphate reacts with the ADP to reform or resynthesize ATP again and thus create more muscle contractions/ force production.

This is why the supplement creatine monohydrate works. If you want improved performance and you aren’t on creatine do some research and certainly consider it as an option.

atps

The next energy system is somewhat more complicated…

Called glycolysis, this is the system that kicks into gear once the ATP-PC system has run it’s course.

Essentially your body uses glycogen stored in the liver and liver or from glucose circulating in the blood to create ATP for energy. This glycogen comes from carbohydrates.

After this initial 12 seconds of maximum power you can then produce highly intense activity up to the 30 seconds mark, causing the production of lactic acid. This is referred to as “fast” glycolysis.

Putting in maximum effort up to 50 seconds will result in another drop of power (it’s impossible to maintain the same power output at this point.)

The body then begins to rely on the oxidative energy systems beginning with “slow” glycolysis.

Slow glycolysis differs from fast glcolysis because the pyruvic acid created is converted into acA or Acetyl Coenzyme A which enters something called the krebs cycle which produces more ATP for movement but results in more sustainable but less powerful movements and extreme fatigue is prevented.

Once the athlete has exhausted this system we enter the unfamiliar (to me) world of long duration low intensity efforts (such as a 5km run for example.)

This is called the oxidative system and produces around 10 calories of energy per minute.

As stated in the breaking muscle article that I have already referenced throughout, when power demand is low but high duration is demanded ATP can be produced in 3 ways:

  1. Krebs cycle
  2. Electron Transport Chain
  3. Beta Oxidation

In the Krebs cycle Acetyl Coenzyme-A or acA (we meet again!) produced during glycolysis is further broken down into carbon dioxide and hydrogen and via the complex art of witchcraft 2 more ATP molecules are created.

witch

The hydrogen created by the krebs cycle poses a bit of a problem for sustained performance because if left unchecked this hydrogen would make the muscles too acidic to maintain performance so the body responds with a couple of enzymes to bond with the hydrogen.

This hydrogen is then sent through the electron transport chain where it reacts with water (via a host of other chemical reactions) and the acidity is prevented.

The krebs cycle and electron transport chain both use stored fat (triglycerides) and carbohydrates (glucose) to produce ATP. The use of fat for energy is called lipolysis. To ‘get into’ the krebs cycle and the electron transport chain these fats need to go through beta oxidation to break them down into acA and hydrogen where they can be used in the krebs cycle to create ATP for the sustained effort we need.

The oxidative system operates virtually alone during complete rest and very low-intensity activities and because it uses stored fat as a source of fuel it means that the stores of energy are virtually inexhaustible.

Bottom line: For short duration high power activities, carbs are used for fuel, for long duration marathon type events the body turns to fat as it’s ultimate source of ATP.

Sumo Stance

green

This is normally in reference to either squats or deadlifts and involves placing your legs wider (sometimes much wider) than the shoulders.

Sumo stances are used by a lot of powerlifters and athletes concerned with moving the most amount of weight. It tends to help with this due to shortening the range of motion as opposed to a regular stance with your feet around shoulder width apart. It may also be used to target the adductors of the legs if for example they need strengthening or increasing in flexibility.

Which stance should you be using?

Experiment and see.

experiment

I pull deadlifts from a conventional stance and I have a fairly narrow stance for squats. I’m not sure why, but I just can’t generate the same pulling or pushing power when in sumo stance during the deadlift and squat (despite the shortened range of motion.) During squatting the wide stance just doesn’t feel as strong for me and when you have a great big(ish) weight on your back feeling strong is essential. It might just be something I need to work on.

Close-grip

This usually applies to bench press or pull-ups/ lat pulldowns among others. It can mean your hands are just closer together than normal or that your hands are either touching in the middle or just a few inches apart.

narrow-grip-bench-press-1

If you ever see me bench pressing I’m pretty much guaranteed to be using what most people would call a close-grip. I seem to be a lot stronger despite the increased range of motion. I believe this is because I am tricep dominant (massive (for a natty) triceps, tiny chest) and the triceps come into play a lot more when the grip is ‘closer in.’

Have a play with close-grip stuff and see what works for you.

Interval Training or HIIT (high intensity interval training)

Wikipedia defines interval training as follows:

Interval training is a type of discontinuous physical training that involves a series of low- to high-intensity exercise workouts interspersed with rest or relief periods.[1] The high-intensity periods are typically at or close to anaerobic exercise, while the recovery periods involve activity of lower intensity.”

There are many different versions of interval training. You can use any equipment or specific exercise for intervals. My favorite has always been the bike (most of the time I hate running you see) where I either do 1 minute slow pedalling followed by 30 seconds ‘as fast as I can’ for a set number of rounds. I use inverted commas because actually going ‘as fast as you can’ can be different day to day and throughout the workout.

Does interval training ‘work’?

Here’s a study that says they do if you want to decrease health-related risk factors:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2777731/

Intervals are also very good at increasing an athletes lactate threshold, which means you can ultimately do more without the production of lactic acid limiting performance.

This and other studies has led people (including me at one point) to completely abandon lower intensity stuff in favor of just interval training. Which is ridiculous. A bit or even a lot of long or medium duration activity isn’t going to make your muscles fall off if it is planned correctly. Another thing with intervals is that they are BLOODY PAINFUL. There are days when I want screaming agony throughout my body (because you know that’s normal…) and there are other days (or years) where I’m happy with the amount of pain that lifting weights causes without inflicting more on myself through the medium of interval training.

I’ve found that interval training is more effective when stress levels are low in the rest of your life. When stress is high and you’re already training a lot it can be very easy to show symptoms of overtraining if you do lot’s of interval stuff.

It is all down to planning and what your goals are. If a high lactate threshold is your goal then you may need to do some interval training or if low body fat is your target then generations of bodybuilders can attest to the effectiveness of low-intensity ‘cardio.’ I like a mixture of both to be honest. I don’t need a particularly high lactate threshold for powerlifting so if I do cardio at the moment (which I don’t) then it’s steady stuff.

When I’m bodybuilding I like to do the odd interval session to raise the point where lactic acid starts to inhibit performance therefore in theory I can lift more weight for more reps which should mean I should build more muscle. Fingers crossed.

So an interval session might look like this:

2-4 mins steady cycling

30 secs pedalling as fast as possible

1 min recovery cycle (letting your legs spin at their on pace)

repeat 8 times.

You can alter intervals, rest periods and many other things with interval training. Enjoy!

Tabata Training

skater

Tabata Training is a popular and well known form of interval training. It is horrendous when done properly. If you aren’t a mess on the floor after tabata training then you haven’t done it correctly.

You have been warned.

Essentially Tabata is where you pick an exercise. You do this exercise AS HARD AND FAST AS YOU CAN for 20 seconds and then you rest for 10 seconds. This process takes 30 seconds.

You repeat this 30 seconds cycle 8 times to create a horrible and cataclysmic barrage of blood, sweat and tears. That may be my favorite sentence I’ve ever written by the way.

Where does tabata come from?

According to tabatatraining.com:

“History

The Tabata method is often accredited to Izumu Tabata, however this is not entirely true. Although the original method was published by Izumu Tabata in a peer reviewed journal (see the reference at the end of the page) the idea was originally pioneered by the head coach for the Japanese Olympic speed skating team, Irisawa Koichi.

Irisawa Koichi

Irisawa Koichi was the head coach of the Japanese Speed Skating team in the 1990s and was using an unusual training technique of short bursts with even shorter rest periods. It is reported that this method not only increased short term explosive strength but also long term endurance. Izumu Tabata, a coach under Koichi, was asked to analyse his rotation of short burst with maximum effort followed by a short rest. So if we are to be rigorously correct we should call it the Koichi method (pronounced as – k oh EE ch ee) although I am not sure this will take off.

Izumu Tabata

The Tabata method is named after the coach who measured the effectiveness of the training method devised by Irisawa Koichi. He was a researcher at the National Institute for Health and Nutrition and is currently a professor in the Faculty of Sport and Health Science at Ritsumeikan University in Japan. His research page can be found here. According to his papers this technique has a “very fast increase in VO2 max”.

Tabata Method

The Tabata method paper was published in 1996 in the journal “Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise.” entitled, “Effects of Moderate-Intensity Endurance and High-Intensity Intermittent Training on Anaerobic Capacity and VO2max.” (see below for the full reference).

The High Intensity work phase for the Tabata protocol was originally performed at approximately 170% of VO2 Max. The VO2 max is a measure of the maximum capacity of your body to transport and use oxygen during a period of exertion or work. In simple terms this is an extreme intensity workout, you are working at close to your maximum heart rate. According to Dr Tabata the session should be

“…An all out effort at 170% of your VO2 max. If you feel ok after the session you have not done it right! The first three sessions should be easy and the last two should feel impossibly hard…”

When this was repeated over a period of six weeks, four times a week, the athletes saw a 28% increase in their anaerobic capacity and 15% increase in their VO2 max which is considered a good measure of cardiovascular fitness. The control group performed a steady state cardiovascular workout lasting one hour, five times a week. Their VO2 max scores increased by just 10% and their routine had no significant effect on their anaerobic capacity. Over the six week period the Tabata group recorded 120 minutes of training compared with the control gourp that recorded 1,800 minutes!”

Pyramid Training

giza

Pyramid training is quite varied and I know of a few different versions. I’m just going to cover standard pyramids today.

Generally this is an intermediate to advanced training strategy as it involves progressively heavier weights and using a calculation from your one rep max in a particular exercise.

In a standard pyramid you start with 60% of your max weight for 8 reps.

After a rest you increase the weight by 10% (so 70% 1RM) and reduce the reps by 2.

Add 10% again and reduce the reps.

Repeat the process until you are doing 90% of your 1RM for 2 reps.

You can guarantee that those last 2 reps will feel revoltingly difficult. If you’ve been stuck at a particular weight for a while you might want to give this a go for a session or two!

You can make this effort akin to one of the 7 feats of Hercules by making it into a double pyramid by repeating all your pryamid sets in reverse order.

It is a mean mean MEAN methodology. I don’t use it too often but I might have to include it in my plan as a ‘tester’ work out.

I’ll let you know when I next do one of these horrible pyramids!

Drop Sets

First of all. Done right THESE HURT. There are a number of ways to do these but the one constant factor is that the weight you are lifting drops with as little rest as possible between lifts. Sometimes the reps increase with each drop in weight, sometimes it is for as many reps as possible and with others the reps may stay the same.

If you are a crazy person you might try these with squats.

Let’s say you can squat 100kg relatively easily for 10 reps. You’d place the weight on the bar in 10kg plates (4 each side in total)

Then:

  • Squat 100kg for 10 reps (or AMRAP)
  • Strip 10kg off each side
  • Squat 80kg AMRAP (as many reps as possible)
  • Strip 10kg off each side
  • Squat 60kg for as many reps as possible
  • Strip 10kg off each side
  • Squat 40kg AMRAP
  • Strip 10kg from each side
  • Squat the bar AMRAP
  • Fall in a heap and recover

Use these periodically. I use them for 1-3 compound lifts per month when powerlifting and a little more regularly when bodybuilding. I used to do them for leg extensions and leg curls. Have fun with those!

These are excellent if you want to make your training more intense. They will mess you up. I promise. You don’t want to do them all the time if you want to function at all in life outside of the gym.

Functional Training

Functional Training means different things to different people. To me it means that you train in a way that improves how you function in every day life and how you function in any sporting events you may take part in. People don’t think bicep curl is functional…but for a competitive bodybuilder who needs massive biceps they definitely serve a purpose. But for the elderly lady who just wants to be able to stand up out of her chair and be able to twist to pick something up without getting injured I would argue that the bicep curl serves no purpose whatsoever. If you had said lady doing a squat with a slight forward lean or trained rotationally in some way you would be training her to be more functional in her life. Functional Training should essentially help you to move better throughout your life or improve your performance in sport whilst lowering the chances of you getting injured.

Functional training doesn’t necessarily involve standing on one leg with your eyes closed on a bosu ball while swinging a kettlebell. If you could do this I would be impressed though.

DOMS

This stands for DELAYED ONSET MUSCLE SORENESS. This is the name for the soreness you feel the day after or maybe 2 days after exercise. It tends to disappear after no more than 3 days and is normally the worst when you are starting out with an exercise program for the first time or performing movements that you are not used to. DOMS are the reason most people hate me in the first couple of weeks of their training.

This concludes my overly long terminology series (for now.) It should have been split into 768.5 parts but I’ve stuck with 4. If you’ve made it this far you are a better man than me.

If you’d like any terms defining just drop a comment below and I’ll make it into a little article.

Go lift some weights 🙂

Chris Kershaw

The Powerlifting Mentality- Pushing Through Diabetes

One of my clients (called Zoe!) linked me up to this article by Ginger Vieira (which is a lovely name!) and I found it inspirational.

http://asweetlife.org/feature/a-powerlifters-mind-in-a-type-1-body/

All I have to worry about when training is actually lifting the weights and turning up.

What I luckily don’t have to worry about is blood sugar and diabetes.

“There was no way around it, and powerlifting gave me a kind of motivation to manage my diabetes that I’d never had before.”

Ginger Vieira

I don’t personally know many people with diabetes well enough to see how it affects their lives but I imagine that it is a constant burden especially if the diet isn’t in check.

With Ginger, Powerlifting has given her the focus to control her diabetes to a point where she can compete in the sport which I’m sure has massive carry over to the rest of her life away from the gym and away from the lifting platform.

GingerBenchPress-home1

Ginger Vieira

While I’m sure you can find examples of this for any sport or gym activity (even crossfit) I wanted to give Powerlifting a special mention for a number of reasons:

  1. I love it
  2. Powerlifting still associated with really fat people with many people and the “more mass moves more mass” mentality is constantly disappearing from Powerlifting. I want to keep that going
  3. I think strength training is one of the most underrated training methodologies for staying lean and healthy.

I love picking up really heavy weights and that’s why I do it around 6 times a week at least once per day.

If you’re bored with your usual gym routine take a look into Powerlifting. There is a sport out there and a training methodology out there that suits everyone. Very few of them are as supportive as the world of Powerlifting. Google it and see.

There are very few excuses for not staying healthy. Especially when the training is so much fun.

“Focusing on my blood sugar, insulin sensitivity, nutritional needs and exercise programs for powerlifting helps me become a stronger, healthier diabetic. It doesn’t make diabetes harder.  In the end, it makes it easier, because I’ve had to learn and understand so much more about the physiology of how my body works.”

Ginger Vieira

You learn about your body when you actively try and get the most out of it (especially when your health depends on it like with diabetes.) Take a leaf out of Ginger’s book and take control of your conditions wherever you can.

Chris Kershaw

The Weaknesses of a Short and Moderately Arrogant Personal Trainer #1

I was in a job interview the other day.

I felt I had to wear a shirt.

At the moment I am pretty much square shaped so I imagine I looked as awkward as I felt as I nervously rocked up to the interview room putting on my bravest of brave faces.

I faced many questions that I nervously (far more nervously than usual) bumbled through but kind of did okay.

Then the question hit me out of the blue.

I stuttered. I made some ‘eerrrr’ noises. I panicked behind my little blue eyes.

I was asked “what are your weaknesses?”

Essentially I said something along the lines of ‘sometimes I let people get away with doing a few burpees less than I have written down.’

Clearly my life is fantastic and utterly without worry!

Blissful-Buddhas

Or perhaps… in that moment I was a complete and utter moron.

(For the record I’m accurately informed by my partner that it’s the latter.)

So to make up for this hapless display I want to start a new series detailing my weaknesses, how I am going to tackle them and ultimately how I do at making these weaknesses not so weak!

I have a tendency to write articles that are far too long so I am going to tackle one weakness at a time.

(In no particular order)

#1 Prioritization

I try to do everything at once. 10 minutes or so on each task until they all get done (or never get done as is normally the case.) One of the biggest things is that because I’m trying to concentrate on 400 things at once it means that about 396 things get forgotten about and ultimately never get done even the very very important stuff like paying parking fines or texting a friend a message of support.

So again, I find it very difficult to prioritize tasks and try and do everything at once resulting in lots of half jobs, forgotten jobs and a damaged social life. About the only thing that is never forgotten is training and eating, these are the only two things I absolutely nail 100% of the time without fail.

And it probably makes a big dint in what I could be earning while we are being honest!

So what am I going to do about it?

Over the last week or so of obsession about this I remembered an article from the website http://www.artofmanliness.com called:

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

Below is the matrix from the article itself:

EisenhowerDecisionMatrix11

Quadrant 1- This is things that if not dealt with immediately bad things will happen. Really bad things. It might be a deadline the next day, your wife might be in labour or you might be stuck in unexpected traffic on the way to a clients first session when you have promised that you are never late (WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT!?) (I TOTALLY HAVE BEFORE!)

Quadrant 2- This is where in an ideal world we would spend all our time. This is the quadrant of house work, tidying your car, planning your day or week, exercising, having a date night with the wife and so on. These are things that will be dealt with ‘at some point,’ which with me, has previously meant it probably won’t be done anytime soon! This is the quadrant that brings about that feeling of ‘getting stuff done.’

Quadrant 3- This is things that are quite trivial or irrelevant to you but need dealing with urgently. These might be interruptions when you are dealing with a client, phone calls, doing a chore for friends and family or receiving a facebook notification.

Quadrant 4- The least important of tasks like watching tv, doing crossfit (I had to take a dig at it somewhere,) scrolling endlessly through twitter or watching copious amounts of porn when you should be at work! These are the taks that make you feel like you are wasting your life away. If you are spending most of your time engaging with these tasks then you probably are.

They don’t need to be eliminated entirely, we all need to chill out for a while. Just not all the time. We have shit to do!

The Plan

First of all I am going to work through this pdf from the art of manliness article already featured:

The Eisenhower Decision Matrix

This should take me around 30 minutes!

So, if the aim is to spend as much time in Q2 as possible the first thing is to eliminate as many possible Q1’s as possible. The source of many of these are the house and car. So I need to maintain my house and car better so that there is less of a chance of running int these nasty Q1’s.

So I’m going to write a do to list of all the jobs that need doing around the house and assign times and dates to them to get the house in tip top shape.

Next and perhaps the most important is in order to spend time doing things that are important to you you need to establish what is actually important to you!

Essentially, you need to establish your core values (as do I.)

I am going to do this by following these instructions:

“1. Get nice and relaxed. Go to a quiet room and sit in a big comfy chair (maybe even sit in your closet; something about small spaces helps you think), grab the fishing pole and spend an hour or two casting your line into the ol’ fishing hole, or take a walk on a nature trail or around your neighborhood. Just do whatever works for you.

2. Have the proper tools. Have a pen and paper handy so you can write down your values as they come to you. I don’t recommend using a computer to do this as it’s pretty easy to get distracted from the task at hand. Write on something you won’t accidentally throw away and that will last for many years to come.

3. Ask yourself this question: “What’s truly important to me as man?”
Once you’re nice and relaxed, simply ask yourself what’s truly important to you. Think about those moments in your life when you felt completely whole and fulfilled as a man. Think about the times when you’ve been the happiest. If nothing comes to you at first, don’t worry. Just keep thinking.

4. Write down whatever comes to you. When you have a moment of insight about what’s important to you, write it down. Don’t self-censor yourself. Be completely honest during this process. No one else is going to see this, so don’t list the values that you think “should” be on your list. If it comes to you, write it. You’ll be able to go back and edit the list in the next step. For now, just do a total brain dump.

Also, don’t worry about prioritizing them yet. We’ll do that later. Our goal right now is to just get down whatever comes to you.

5. If you have more than five values, eliminate some. Think hard about what you truly value in life. Put a star by the values you’re sure about. Then take the ones that you feel are important, but aren’t sure if they’re top 5 material, and put them in pairs. Think about two of those values side by side, and ask yourself which of the two is more important. Then eliminate the other. Keep pitting the survivors against each other until you’re down to 5. If some of the values you listed are just two words describing the same idea. Combine them.

6. Prioritize. Once you whittle your list to five core values, prioritize them in order from most important to least important. Ideally, your core values compliment each other, but there might be times when two or more conflict. When that happens, which value will trump? If you know this before that choice presents itself, you’ll know how to proceed. And even if your values conflict in the future, look for creative ways to combine them. For example, family might be your top priority, but so is volunteering. When you have the choice of spending time with your kids or signing up to help at a charity event, do both by bringing the kiddos along with you.”

Once again, these instructions are from the great site artofmanliness.com.

So once I’ve decided on what is truly important to me it should help me divide up my time accordingly.

I shall keep you posted on my progress!

Chris Kershaw

Occasional lifter of moderately heavy things

I Don’t Have A Clue What You Just Said….A Guide To Gym Terminology Part 3

After much fevered anticipation (ha) here is another overly long and self-indulgent article explaining some gym terminology with many grammatical errors and filled with great hilarity.

In Part 2 I said we would cover the following subjects:

Flexible Dieting, Primal Flow, Exercise Complex, Compound movement/exercise, Pin Press/ Pin Squat/ Pin Anything, Plyometrics, Turkish Get-Ups, Nordic Get-Ups, Barbell Get-ups, Circuit Training, Kettlebell Competition, Crossfit, Paleo, Dynamic/ Static, Isometric, Eccentric/ Negative, Concentric, Wounded Bear Crawl,

Part 4 will include Hypertrophy, Power Training, Overtraining, Burpees, Plank, fast and slow twitch muscle, goblet exercises, lateral exercises, singles/doubles/triples, 1RM, energy systems, sumo stance and close grip, interval training, tabata, pyramids, drop sets, functional training.

So here we go again!

Flexible Dieting

Here is an excellent post on Armi Legge’s website Evidence Magazine on how a beginner would begin dieting in this way.

But what is it?

Essentially Bodybuilding and aesthetically aimed training has brought about the notion that certain foods make you fat and certain foods make you thin (otherwise known as clean eating.) The fact is that if you eat more calories than you need over you will gain weight and if you don’t eat enough you will lose weight. It isn’t carbs, it isn’t fat, and it isn’t protein that causes weight gain or in fact weight loss. It is calories. Study after study AFTER STUDY has found the same thing.

In order to diet flexibly you may do a sum to estimate your calorific expenditure, perhaps by using a site such as this and from this you work out how many grams of protein you need, how many carbs you need and how much fat you need for the day and the week (usually.)

It sounds like an excuse to eat all the junk food in the world as long as it fits in your macronutrients and calories for the day. This isn’t true. A small amount of junk food (maybe 10-20% of your food maybe junk food with absolutely no health concerns,) while the other 80-90% should be from whole foods and food that will help you train and function better. This is especially true if you are in a calorific deficit and need as much nutrient dense food as possible to function as optimally as possible.

So how can you avoid just eating junk food?

Give yourself or have someone work out micronutrient targets as well. People will often have a minimum amount of fibre to hit per day and perhaps some vitamin and mineral targets as well. Flexible dieting means you vary your foods as much as you can in order to stay sane and be able to stick with the already difficult task of dieting in order to achieve certain body composition or performance goals. Give it a try.

There are also plenty of ways to get into a calorific deficit without counting calories which I hope to provide more information on soon.

Can you get in shape (as if that’s the only exercise goal) using flexible dieting?

Let’s see:

And yes, they are natural (none of those nasty roids!)

Primal Flow

This should definitely called ‘PLOWing’ for short. I can only hope that one day it will be common practice to see people ‘plowing’ across the world.

Here is an example of a Primal Flow that I didn’t come up with. It is entirely stolen. I just do not know who from. I call it “The Breakdancer.”

I particularly enjoy my wave at the end.

You will be pleased to know that you aren’t restricted to just bodyweight exercise with this stuff. You can use any equipment you want. Come up with your own using a sandbag or weighted barbell or whatever you want. You can tailor it towards many performance related goals as well…hypertrophy, muscular endurance, power it can all be trained in this way. I’ll have to make a separate article and film some PLOWS for various goals. I will get around to it eventually! Within the context of a workout I like to use PLOWS as a warm-up, particularly before lower body sessions. You can get crazy complex and crazy fun with these but alas, that is for another time. Try your very best to contain the copious amounts of excitement you are feeling right now.

I hope to see everyone Plowing very soon.

Here is a video of a PLOW I did for a little competition I’m running

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10154542023400099&set=o.493037394173843&type=2&theater

Exercise Complex

These could be called barbell complexes, bodyweight complexes, kettlebell complexes and about a million other types of complex. It usually refers to a number of exercises performed back to back for a certain amount of reps and time with the same piece of equipment without rest.

Here are some examples:

(again, I’ll have to do some film of my own at some point.)

Now, with complexes you can again tailor them to fit a variety of performance related goals from muscular endurance to hypertrophy. They are an excellent method of intensifying a training session (making it more difficult on numerous levels.)

Compound Movement

Compound Movements are movements which use 2 or more joints and various muscle groups (usually full or most of the body) so some of the best examples of these are squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, bench press and the olympic lifts, but things such as farmers walks or sled pushes or military presses are equally compound movements.

Farmer's_walk (1)

The farmers walk is one of the most overlooked compound exercises in the commercial gym environment, mostly because most are that crammed full of machines and people so as to render the exercise almost impossible to perform

If strength, performance and hypertrophy is your goal then you will probably do compound movements at the beginning of the workout to be able to move the most amount of weight possible (due to amount of muscles and joints involved.) Compound movements normally have a much higher carryover to sports than isolation exercises like machine bicep curls or machine leg curls. By no means am I against machines, they certainly have a place in some if not all training programs. I definitely use them from time to time, especially if my next show is of the tanned bodybuilder in tiny pants variety.

posey

So a training session might comprise of:

Heavy Barbell Squats 5×5 (compound movement)

Dumbbell RDL 3×5-8 (compound movement)

Leg Curl 3×8-12 (isolation movement)

Leg Extension 3×15 (isolation movement)

The general rule is compound before isolation.

Pin Press/ Pin Squat/ Pin Anything

Otherwise known as dead stop training, a pin press or any exercise that contains the word ‘pin’ that I am aware of involves resting a barbell on the pins of the squat rack at the bottom of a movement (the bar is at a complete momentary standstill) before you drive the bar back up to a starting position. If you are performing this with a full range of motion it is much harder than the standard version of the exercise due to you having to start the bar moving again from a dead stop rather than being able to rely on elastic energy or ‘bounce’ to get the bar moving in the opposite direction.

Here are a couple of examples:

Pin Squat

Another level of squatting right there!

Pin Shoulder Press

Pin Bench Press

These exercises would probably feature early in your workout, perhaps even as a main exercise. From my experience pin squats are ridiculously hard and pin bench press can be a pain in the arse to set up if you haven’t got an appropriate squat rack or power rack for the job!

Plyometrics

In Supertraining Mel Siff defines plyometrics in the following paragraphs:

The ability to stretch the connective and elastic tissues increases the efficiency of human movement very
markedly, especially as numerous sporting activities involve stretch-shortening of the muscle complex, such as
running, jumping, throwing and rapid lifting.
In fact, the method now known as plyometric training and developed as a special speed-strength training
method by Verkhoshansky relies entirely on this phenomenon (discussed in later chapters). In this process, the
increase in concentric strength in response to rapid ‘shock’ loading is a result of increased muscle tension elicited
by the powerful myotatic stretch reflex and the explosive release of elastic energy stored in the connective and
elastic tissues of the muscle complex during eccentric muscle contraction.

Essentially what is being talked about here is depth jumps (often used in athletes warm-ups and training sessions) however the term has been bastardized to just mean jump training and performing jumps (usually in a gym class where no real athletic training is going on.) Plyometrics in it’s proper sense involves explosive/reactive jumping from a surface as if you have landed on something very hot, whereas with the nonspecific western plyometrics you see in gyms you very rarely see this. I will provide a couple of examples below:

Notice how they only do a few reps. Plyometrics are high impact and form goes to nothing before long

The following video contains the Western version of plyometrics, which is just jump training. There ain’t no way in hell you can do 20 reps sets of explosive high power plyometrics in it’s proper sense while maintaining good technique.

Jump training isn’t WRONG in all circumstances and some will definitely see strength gains and good results at first. They can be very good for preparing you for plyometrics and during warm-ups for say lower body days including squats or deadlifts. Plyometrics are also possible for the upper body, where you’d utilize throws and perhaps plyometric press-ups. This is something I hope to explore in future articles.

Turkish Get-Ups and Barbell Get-ups

This is one of my favorite exercises to do and teach. If you’re a Personal Trainer then teaching this to someone who has never done one is a good test of your abilities. If you can teach this exercise you can pretty much teach any that you can do yourself. I don’t even know all the benefits to this exercise. From Personal experience it is fantastic for improving shoulder and upper back stability and strength, teaching the ‘lock-out’ arm position, overall mobility of the shoulders and hips and unilateral leg strength, as well as coordination and all sorts of other loveliness.

You can use all sorts of implements for this exercise, including a full cup of water (that version is a real test believe me.) In terms of programming you can use them in an advanced warm-up, a main exercise or on the end of a kettlebell complex (in my experience this isn’t easy to maintain good technique!)

When performing this movement you must focus on the quality of movement. Done properly it looks fantastic, done poorly….not so much. If performing this by yourself I would recommend filming yourself and practicing until it looks perfect with whatever piece of equipment you are using.

Beautiful work right there!

Slightly weird at how giddy I get seeing such quality movement!

Barbell Get-ups are just Turkish Get-Ups or TGU’s performed gripping a barbell instead of a dumbbell or kettlebell

Nordic Get-Ups

Video to come!

Circuit Training

You often find circuit training classes in gyms and studios. In fact, I have taught circuit classes for a number of years because people enjoy them and they are really easy and fun to teach.

Circuit Training is a circuit of exercises working different muscle groups and perhaps trying to train different energy systems (covered in the next part). The typical set up in a gym is just literally just stick a bunch of exercises together and to get people to do them for a specific amount of time before moving on to the next exercise (you might have to jog a bit to get to the next exercise or something.)

Usually I get people to do each exercise for a minute before moving on to the next exercise, then 45 seconds each and then finally 30 seconds each exercise. A typical circuit would contain 10-15 exercises and 3 circuits would be completed.

The number of exercises can be anywhere from 2-20 (although I haven’t seen too many 20 exercise circuits.) Circuit classes such as my own are excellent for beginners or people who just want to maintain good health and perhaps build SOME muscle. This is definitely possible using this training, as you put on muscle when you start a jogging program after a long period (or life) of inactivity.)

However, circuits have a tendency to keep you from achieving great things because circuits often attempt to improve cardiovascular endurance AND to gain strength and muscle…two opposite ends of the fitness spectrum. So you just kind of end up achieving a little bit of both and quickly stagnate. You can ‘get big’ and still do endurance events, it can be difficult to program and achieve but it certainly is doable, just not through circuit training as described above

So my advice, if you insist upon circuits would be to feel absolutely fine about doing a circuit class (especially if you enjoy them,) maybe even two a week, but if you’re not achieving what you want consider a more specific approach.

Circuits can be goal specific however…

For strength for example you could have a simple circuit of:

x3 heavy deadlifts

x3 heavy bench press

x3 heavy squats

x3 weighted pull-ups

T as much time as you need between exercises (well 2-3 minutes seems a good number for this) and repeat for 3-5 rounds. An excellent strength building circuit!

For hypertrophy:

x8 stiff-legged deadlifts

x8 close-grip press

x8 bent-over rows

x12 goblet squats

1 minute between exercises

5 rounds taking as much time as you need between rounds as you need.

These are just a couple of examples. But if you have a performance related goal remember to tailor your circuit to your goals to increase the likelihood of achieving them. Don’t just throw some exercises together and hope for the best….because this results in a higher incidence of injury and Crossfit.

Kettlebell Competitions

I don’t have any experience with Kettlebell competitions however, yes…they exist and sound absolutely brutal.

Essentially kettlebell competitions involve completing a certain exercise (done with one or two kettlebells) as many times as possible with the correct (and a safe) technique using a minimum amount of  supportive equipment in a set amount of time.

Two examples of kettlebell competitions are:

The biathlon

The rules are as follows:

  • Biathlon consists of one set of Jerks (10min.) followed by one set of Snatches (10min.) with at least a 1 hour rest between exercises.
  • Most reps completed within ten minutes.
  • Lifters are allowed at least one hour of rest between sets.
  • If the kettlebell(s) touch the ground the set is terminated.
  • Men’s Jerk uses two kettlebells, Women’s Jerk uses one kettlebell with 1 switch of hands.
  • Whenever 1 kettlebell is used, the lowest hand score is your score.
  • Final result is Jerk score plus Snatch score.

Pentathlon

Kettlebell Pentathlon™ Rules

5 One-Arm Kettlebell Exercises:
Weight Factors 1 point per 8KG:
  • 8KG = 1
  • 12KG = 1.5
  • 16KG = 2
  • 20KG = 2.5
  • 24KG = 3
  • 28KG = 3.5
  • 32KG = 4
  • Even 2kg weights can be factored by .25
    10KG = 1.25, 14KG = 1.75 etc…
Scoring Example:
  • Clean @20KG = 72reps x 2.5 = 180
  • LongCycle Press @12KG = 48reps x 1.5 = 72
  • Jerk @16KG = 72reps x 2 = 144
  • Half Snatch @16KG = 96reps x 2 = 192
  • Push Press@12KG = 60reps x 1.5 = 90
  • Total Score: 678

What a crazy sport. A sport I in no way want to give a go…yet.

Crossfit

Crossfit is the new religion in fitness which is particularly huge in America. From the Crossfit headquarters they release a seemingly random workout each day that seems to have no thought going into it whatsoever apart from ‘oooh that sounds like it will make you feel awful, let’s do that.’ It isn’t programming. It’s designed to make you good at working out and very little else. You might have to do olympic lifts for lengthy amounts of time with significant weights (impossible to maintain good form), or stupid amounts of box jumps done for that many reps that any potential benefit is lost (you’re not going to improve your jumps or force development if you’re doing high rep box jumps randomly every now and then.) Every workout is a competition, done for as many reps as possible, regardless of technique, regardless of risk and regardless of anything other than going #beastmode.

Needless to say…I can’t stand Crossfit. I’m sure it’s changed many peoples lives and got people active and healthier which is a good thing, but these aren’t benefits exclusive to Crossfit and these people got lucky, and will get badly injured eventually or just stagnate when the random programming outlasts beginner gains that are seen when you start lifting or doing ANYTHING from being sedentary (again, you put on muscle when you first start jogging.)

An example Crossfit workout:

2 rounds for time of:
30-inch box jumps, 20 reps
5 muscle-ups
24-inch box jumps, 30 reps
5 muscle-ups
20-inch box jumps, 40 reps
5 muscle-ups

Stupid, random and just asking for injuries. Who the hell would benefit from a set of 40 box jumps done for time? That’s right. A Crossfitter, who wants to be good at nothing but Crossfit.

Let’s take a look at some Crossfit ‘pull-ups.’

He didn’t do 106. He did 0. Although decent grip endurance I’ll give him that.

You tend to find that when an exercise looks a complete mess it isn’t working the right area or won’t have any transfer effect to anything other than benefiting the stupid exercise itself. These pull-ups are a mess. And it doesn’t matter. Because it’s Crossfit. I’ve gone off track…

Paleo

Paleo is a diet advocated by a lot of crossfitters, fitness professionals and people looking for the perfect diet. It is essentially just another low carb diet mascarading as something else. Yes it works for some people and definitely doesn’t work for others. The philosophy is to eat as we ate in the paleolithic era (2.6 million years ago, to the end of the Pleistocene around 10,000 BP) to create super amazing health and longevity (average age of death a staggering 33! woohoo! Although if you made it past 15, you could exect to live to a ripe old 54 during this era.)

Chocolate-Chip-Mocha-Cookies-1024x731

Humans in the Paleolithic would eat chocolate-mocha-paleo cookies by the hundred. Oh wait, that’s fucking ridiculous.

I’m in no way a nutritional expert (far far far far from it as of writing this article) so I won’t go into the nutritional specifics of this diet. I just wanted you to understand what people are talking about when they bang on about paleo diet.

Does it work? At the end of the day, the diet that works is a diet that you stick to that gets us the results we want without causing health problems. So as always in fitness the infuriating answer is simply ‘it depends.’

Dynamic/ Static (Isometric)

Dynamic in this sense means ‘of or relating to energy, motion or physical force.’ So whenever we are putting force through the floor or away from the floor (or in any direction or in multiple directions) causing movement it is a dynamic exercise until you come to a stop either at the top of the movement or when  the bar for example is at rest on the floor. Running is a dynamic exercise as it involves continuous movement in a forward direction.

Static is exactly the opposite yet still involves physical force and effort against gravity. An example of a static exercise would be a wall sit, a static plank or any kind of static stretch involving holding a position for a a period of time.

Training in a static manner where you resist movement is sometimes referred to as isometric training.

skimble-workout-trainer-exercise-wall-sit-4_iphone

Wall sits are supposed to be static, but you’ll often see people sliding to the floor in anguish after a couple of minutes of this exercise!

 

Eccentric/ Negative

This is often phrased as ‘the negative part of a lift’ or ‘the eccentric phase of an exercise’ and it essentially describing the muscle action required of a particular muscle when it must control a weight ‘on the way down’ (or away from you if you are referring to rowing or pulling movements.)

So lowering the bar to your chest in a controlled manner is the negative or eccentric portion of the bench press and controlling the descent of a pull-up would be the negative or eccentric phase of that lift.

Athletes will often use eccentric training to overload a particular exercise. An oft seen example is the bench press where an athlete would load the bar with a higher weight than he can lift off his chest and try to slowly control the weight all the way down to his chest. When the bar does reach his chest one or two people will help the athlete return the bar to it’s original position above his chest with his arms straight.

Eccentric contractions are associated with more muscle damage than isometric and concentric muscle contractions. This means that they tend to cause more soreness the day after, particularly if you aren’t used to controlling a weight in the eccentric phase. Eccentric contractions definitely stimulate hypertrophy/ muscle gain provided you are eating enough (and enough protein) so when people tell you to control the weight on the way down I’d listen. By controlled on the way down I mean that for example on squats you aren’t just bouncing off your calves but are taking 1-3 seconds to drop nice and low before driving back to the top of the movement. The same applies to bench press and pretty much any other exercise.take 1-3 seconds to complete the negative phase before completing the concentric phase of the lift as fast as possible. If you are training to be an Olympic Lifter, Powerlifter or Strongman then the rules are slightly different as controlling a maximum weight for 3 seconds on the way down could quite possibly mean that it ain’t going back up! But for putting on mass the 1-3 second rule works well.

Concentric

We’ve covered eccentrics and negatives already. The concentric portion of an exercise is just the opposite- it is when you are lifting an object whether it be bodyweight or an object away from the centre of the earth. So, the concentric part of a press-up is the part where you are on the way up or in the bench press it is when you are pushing the bar up to the ceiling off of your chest (hopefully.) An example of a concentric only exercise would be a Barbell Snatch from the floor or a deadlift (if you just drop the bar from the top of the lift.)

The concentric phase of a lift should be completed nice and fast to produce the most amount of force through the muscle fibre if explosive power, improved rate of force development or maximum hypertrophy is your goal.

Wounded Bear Crawl

This is a bear crawl done with 3 limbs instead of 4. A video will have to come soon.

That was part 3. Overly long, not to the point but hopefully entertaining.

If you like this content show your support by leave a comment, start a discussion and share on Facebook anywhere you like!

Soon to follow will be part 4, because 4 comes after 3!

Stay strong, lift big with good form and remember to appreciate the ones you love the most.

Chris Kershaw

 

 

I Don’t Have A Clue What You Just Said….A Clients Guide To Gym Terminology Part 2

In Part 1 I said I would explain the following terms:

The Clean

Personal Trainer

Fitness Instructor

Reps

Sets

Curling in the squat rack

Squat Rack and how to set it up for various exercises

Bench Press

Kettlebell

Bosu Ball

TRX

AMRAP

Olympic Lifting

Powerlifting

Cardio

Weights Bench

Smith Machine

Foam Roller (studies included)

Neutral Spine

Obliques

Sticking Points

Supersets

I’m probably going to have to include a part 3 (or more because this part IS far too long…) It will include:

Flexible Dieting, Primal Flow, Complex, Compound movement/exercise, pin press/ pin squat/ pin anything, plyometrics, Turkish Get-Ups, Nordic Get-Ups, Barbell Get-ups, Circuit Training, Kettlebell Competition, Crossfit, Paleo, Training Status, Dynamic/ Static, Isometric, Eccentric/ Negative, Concentric, Wounded Bear Crawl

Rack Position

On a side note I received a message from a former client and friend Beth recently about how Ballet dancers may benefit from the exercise called ‘Low Jacks.’ I hope to get around to writing a short article about this in the near future.

Ok, let’s get this smashed

hulk samsh.

The Clean

I’m shocking at teaching this exercise, at least for now. Until I complete an Olympic Lifting course and at least one 12 week Olympic lifting training cycle and about 10000 hours of technique practice and coaching at the very least I am going to refer you on to someone who doesn’t do Crossfit in 3 videos shortly.

The clean is a necessary exercise for picking up a barbell, kettlebell or dumbbell from the floor in order to perform many overhead exercises such as the standing military press or any exercise where you must hold an implement in the ‘rack’ position.

With this being such a technical lift, I’d never recommend lifting substantial weights for more than 5-8 reps per set (preferably less to be honest,) because any higher and your technique is going to suck and you are just asking to get injured. There are so many variations of the clean that it would take multiple articles to exhaust them all. So for now I’ll just keep it to a clean from hip height, just below the knee and from the floor.

Hips:

Below the knee:

and from the floor:

You shoulder always be able to clean what you can shoulder press/ push press above your head. If you can’t then practice your cleans and have an expert take a look at your technique.

Personal Trainer (PT’s)

To define what a good Personal Trainer is would take a huge article series which I don’t dare tackle yet because I don’t feel I’ve “got there” just yet. Perhaps one day I will take this on. For now I’m just going to define what you will usually experience in any commercial gym in the UK.

Personal Trainers in the UK are usually self-employed and paying the gym they work in a ridiculous amount of money in order to work there. Some are paid a wage and others aren’t it differs gym to gym. Many gym chains treat there PT’s like shit, and others treat them brilliantly. But essentially Personal Trainers train people to earn their wage and will sell you their services directly, offer nutritional support (many give them specific diets when they shouldn’t, while others are fully qualified to do so) and help motivate people through sessions as well as perhaps correcting movement deficiencies and training around injuries. PT’s should also make sure you are performing movements with the correct technique and not giving you something that is just asking to injure someone (like a Crossfit workout.)

They may train large, medium or small groups of people or concentrate on training individuals, it really depends on the trainer and the populations which they specialize in.

Being a Personal Trainer myself I obviously feel that with the correct trainer anyone can benefit from their services.

To be a Personal Trainer you usually have to be at least studying for a Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training or similar to work in a gym. Which is ridiculous. You shouldn’t be formally training people and taking money until you are qualified. Then again, many so-called Personal Trainers just slap the words on their back and start training people without any qualifications at all. The industry is full of criminals, I know because I’ve worked with them. So ask us for our qualifications please!

Fitness Instructors

These are the guys and girls employed by gyms as apprentices (or as full time staff) who will give you the traditional gym induction which you should receive when joining a club. They may also give you a very basic exercise program and help you out if you are struggling on the gym floor. In the UK we see Fitness Instructors less and less because gyms have realised that they can sack them off and get the PT’s (who are paying them) to do the inductions instead. Personal Trainers get many clients through this and clients get expert service (in theory.) The only people that don’t benefit are the Instructors themselves, who get fired or are forced/encouraged (depending where you work) to become PT’s themselves.

To become a Fitness Instructor you usually have to do some kind of Level 2 Diploma in Fitness Instructing.

Repetitions (Reps)

repsforjesus

You may see an exercise program full of stuff like 5×5 or 10×2 or 2×10 and usually in program notations that means 5 sets of 5 reps, 10 sets of 2 reps or 2 sets of 10 reps respectively. A repetition or rep is the completion of an entire movement of an exercise or movement pattern. So if you squat up and down like this:

Then you have successfully completed a rep!

Sets

Once again, when looking at an exercise plan/program you will encounter things like 3×10, 5×5 or 10×10. The first number is usually the amount of sets you have to perform. So if are doing 3 sets of 10 reps that would mean performing an exercise for 10 reps, resting for a specific amount of time before heading into another set. Sets can be done for reps, for time or for distance. So you might perform a set of squats for one minute, or a set of sprinting for 50m. The exact amount of sets for any specific goal is beyond the scope of this article and the scope of this author at this time!

Curling in the Squat Rack

None of this!

Gyms normally have 1-2 squat racks in the entire gym (many have loads, which is awesome) but the squat rack should be used for what it is named after…squatting. If the gym is quiet and there are many many squat racks available for people to use then by all means use it for a form of pin press or standing shoulder press….but never curls…unless you are injured and can’t bend down to pick up a weight you can curl which let’s be honest is rare.

It will just annoy people, I know because it annoys me when I see it. If you are going to curl, make sure it is away from the squat rack!

The Squat Rack and How To Set It Up

I’ll have to give this it’s own video/article soon.

Bench Press

This is one of the most popular exercises in the world. Everyone seems to want a massive chest or at least a massive bench press. It is a lift involved heavily in the sport of powerlifting and you can often find bench press competitions in and of themselves. The bench press involves lying on a bench with your feet on the floor, taking a bar or dumbbells in your hands, slowly bringing them down until the implement touches your chest and pushing back up to the starting position as in this video

In terms of strength standards you should be able to bench press a very similar weight to what you can front squat. Although that means I should be able to bench press 140kg… and I can’t… yet. I’ve been stuck at 125-130kg for years!

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One day I will get a 140kg bench press!

Kettlebell

A kettlebell is usually a big iron ball with a handle on it that you swing around, throw around, clean and press and perform Olympic lifts with.

Here is a video of me playing around with some.

Kettlebells can be an easier alternative to barbells for various reasons, at least that is what I have found with my clients. I’d recommend wearing wrist guards if you don’t like bruising the back of your wrists/ forearms. Personally that doesn’t bother me, due to being a badass.

badass

If only.

Expect your hands to get shredded (and not in a good way) when you first get into using them and be a little bit painful as the skin of your hands won’t be used to how the kettlebell moves over your skin. This gets easier with time, or you can just wear gloves. I certainly won’t tell you off. The skin on my hands is awful thanks to the buggers.

kettlebell

I’ll have to write up a sample kettlebell work out or two for you all at some point.

Kettlebells come in all shapes and sizes. You’ll get novelty ones with faces on that in my experience make better ornaments than exercise equipment, you’ll get rubber ones, plastic ones, cast iron ones and probably many more weird and wonderful substances too. They come in various sizes as well, unless you use competition kettlebells, which come at a standardized size no matter how much they weigh (I have an 8kg and a 32kg that are exactly the same size.)

Bosu Ball

bosuball

This is a piece of equipment is pretty prevalent in gyms, studios and with Personal Trainers. It can have benefits in rehabilitation and be hilarious to use. However for the serious athlete who wants to improve performance I wouldn’t recommend using it two often as it will improve your performance on wobbly things…and not many sports or daily activities are performed on wobbly surfaces!

I like using it for upper body exercises like press-ups occasionally, aside from that, I don’t use them too often. Even when I’m working in an environment that has about a million of them.

The TRX

This piece of equipment is awesome. I love using it with clients and during my own workouts. They can be awesome if you are first learning how to squat and can be transported in the tiniest of spaces, meaning you can get a workout anywhere if you own one as you can just wrap it around a tree branch and off you go!

trx

I’m certainly not a TRX expert and to be honest I’m quite out of practice at using them apart from with stuff like rows, which are nice and simple to perform so here’s a video from someone far better at using them than me:

Lovely.

Once I’m better practiced I’ll provide my own video.

I know you simply cannot wait for that.

AMRAP

AMRAP stands for:

AS

MANY

REPS

AS

POSSIBLE

I would extend that to WGF

(AMRAPWGF)

AS

MANY

REPS (I’ve also seen it written as ROUNDS when a number of exercises have to be performed numerous times in a set amount of time)

AS

POSSIBLE

WITH

GOOD

FORM

When you perform something for as many reps as possible in a certain amount of time, technique can suffer (a lot) and when technique suffers you are far more likely to get injured (Crossfitters take note) so if you are performing a program which involves the word AMRAP, only perform reps where you can demonstrate perfect form, NO FLAILING AROUND LIKE A FISH!

I want what is best for you. Please never sacrifice technique for more reps.

Olympic Lifting/ Oly Lifting

This is something I have very little experience with in terms of both performance and coaching for the time being. The Olympic lifts are the snatch and the clean and jerk. These exercises have about a million different derivatives and alternatives but the snatch and the clean and jerk with a barbell are the only ones used in Olympic Lifting competitions

Snatch

Yes I know, what a hilarious exercise name.

Incredible. Take a bow Sir!

Clean and Jerk

I had to include this video because it is simply incredible.

Powerlifting

Ah, Powerlifting, this I have slightly more experience with.

In Powerlifting competitions your score is a collective sum of the weight you can lift for one rep in the following 3 lifts

  • squat
  • deadlift
  • bench press

So to train for a Powerlifting event you largely do these exercises or exercises designed to make you better at ‘the big 3.’

Powerlifting training methodologies can be massively effective for training for overall strength. I find lifting heavy stuff to be one of the one fulfilling  and fun methods of training out there as you are always chasing your next personal record. I know many people feel differently and use different approaches which are effective (after all there are plenty of ways to skin a cat, apart from crossfit) but the powerlifting methods (there are many) tend to be my favourite.

Some competitions include the strict curl but not in the competition I am entering in soon.

You get 3 attempts at each lift and each attempt is heavier than the last. You must get the previous lift in order to have a go at the next weight up. What makes it really interesting is that you have to pick your weights beforehand, too low and you risk getting outscored by everyone and too high and you risk not scoring at all.

The lifts are subject to judging criteria, so if you perform the lift wrong in competition, you are judged to have failed the lift. You will also find distinctions between ‘geared’ and ‘raw’ powerlifting. This is an equipment distinction. ‘Geared’ powerlifting uses things such as squat suits and bench press t-shirts.

I will be competing in ‘raw’ powerlifting which essentially means you are lifting with minimal equipment. MAN AGAINST IRON!

Squatting (LIKE A BOSS)

Dan Green

Deadlift

Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance

Bench Press

Omar Isuf having fun and making gains.

Cardio

Also known as aerobic exercise.

This is normally low intensity stuff that is fuelled by energy systems that utilize oxygen. Short sprints, maximal efforts and very heavy lifts (above 90% of the weight you can lift for one rep) rely on other non-oxygenated or anaerobic energy pathways to produce the work.

The typical cardio workout you see in gyms typically involves people walking on a treadmill or stairmaster or riding a bike for anywhere up to 2 hours. I used to think that nothing would kill off your hard earned muscle more, but programmed correctly it can definitely give you health and performance benefits if done correctly and not too frequently.

I like to include cardio on rest days when I am particularly motivated. Just going for a long walk a day can make a huge difference to body composition and overall health. So when you hear people talking about cardio, this is the kind of thing they are usually talking about.

There is more to this story however…

cardio can be done in quite a different way.

swinging a sledge hammer into a tractor tyre for 5-15 minutes is so much more fun than riding a bike in a gym for 4 hours (in my opinion.)

check out ross’ amazing site here.

all sledgehammer training must be performed to this song for maximum gains.

IT IS KNOWN.

Pulling a weighted sled in various ways might take your fancy as well…cardio doesn’t always have to be done on some static piece of machinery!

Or perhaps using an evil prowler is more your ken….

Or even some kind of primal flow…where you take a number of exercises and make them essentially into one long exercise sequence. These can last anywhere from 10 seconds to 20 minutes (you could certainly make one go on for longer, but I haven’t seen it done just yet!) and are very effective at bringing up your cardiovascular conditioning and health. I’ll include my own videos on this in some articles in future.

These are just a select few. So many options are open to you.

With all of these you always must know that is no ONE WAY that works for all. It depends on so many things. From beginners to athletes some things work better than others (although I can’t speak too much about training elite athletes in any sport as I haven’t trained any just yet.)

A boy can dream!

Weights Bench

weights bench

This is very similar to the weights benches you’ll see in gyms around the world.

One of the common mistakes you see beginners make with this piece of equipment is laying the wrong way round. I know the smaller cushion at the front looks like a head rest when the bench is set to flat, but think about where everyone’s crown jewels are resting when the bench is set to anything but flat…

crown jewels

 It’s not these crown jewels that should concern you…

To be on the safe side when you are first using a weights bench just make sure everything is secure and that you’ve set it to your desired height for the exercise you are doing. And remember, your head stays well away from the small end!

The Smith Machine

smithmachine

The BROSCIENCE take on the Smith Machine

I don’t use Smith Machines because I have the arrogant notion that it makes me less of a man when I do. But as Lyle McDonald would probably ask ‘who is going to make the most progress…the guy doing half assed half squats with the same weight on the barbell week after week after week or the guy who squats on the smith machine with a full range of motion, who increases the weight he is using and puts 100% into it week in, week out?’

The answer is obvious.

The smith machine guy is going to make loads more gains.

So don’t just rule a machine out because it’s a machine.

That being said…if you’re training for a sport or to say break a lifetime best on the bench press then the smith machine isn’t usually going to be the answer you are looking for.

Foam Rolling

Foam rolling is a method of performing self- myofascial release. Essentially giving yourself a brutal (depending on the roller) self massage all over your body.

Here are some basic variations and the video is funny, so everything must be true contained in it.

First of all it has to be said that I’ve only had access to the abstracts of the folowing studies and the conclusions I’ve drawn have been from the abstracts alone.

Planking vs. Foam Rolling before fitness testing

This is a small study which makes no mention of the training status of the athletes (who were all students.) The study compared an athletes performance in a number of fitness tests after either planking or foam rolling.

The study found no difference in performance between the two groups.

The planking group felt significantly more fatigue than the foam rollers, which is because planking is so much harder (and therefore FATIGUING) than any foam rolling I’ve ever done.

Some foam rolling exercises can be SLIGHTLY similar to planking which may explain the lack of variation in performance. I don’t understand why there wasn’t a group who just did a standard warm-up to compare the results to.

Foam rolling as a recovery tool after an intense bout of physical activity

This study gave a group of athletes a 20 minute foam rolling session after each of 5 work outs and compared it to a group who did the same workout without the foam rolling afterwards.

The study (again very small and very short) found that foam rolling reduced soreness, improved vertical jump performance, muscle activation and dynamic range of motion.

In the real world, very few people are going to stay sane if they have to do 20 minutes of foam rolling after each work out, and it is genuinely unpleasant and mind numbingly boring. I’d say you could probably get very similar/ the same results with 5 minutes of foam rolling after each session as opposed to 20 minutes. So yes, don’t worry about mashing the hell out of your tissues for a ridiculous amount of time (and yes after 1-2 hours of training for the standard gym goer, 20 minutes is ridiculous.)

Very interesting study…that makes me consider adding some foam rolling back in to my program.

Oh the joy.

cable

Sometimes when a client is suffering, you reach for the camera…

An acute bout of self-myofascial release increases range of motion without a subsequent decrease in muscle activation or force

This study found no decrease in performance in the hamstrings during knee extension after myofascial release via foam rolling.

I will only foam roll my spine before a heavy lifting work out, not lower back, because you want that to be stable and strong, I won’t do anywhere else unless I really need to for some reason that I can’t think of at the moment because every time I stretch or foam roll say, my legs before squatting, deadlifting or bench pressing I feel weak as a kitten and completely uncomfortable in a new position (because of the now increased range of motion) with a great big weight on my back. I pretty much crumple. So for this reason I don’t recommend foam rolling before heavy lifting just in case you aren’t ready for the increased range of motion and ruin yourself in the process. Again, 5-10 minutes at most is all you should ever need whether you are performing it pre or post workout.

Neutral Spine

This refers to your spine not going into flexion or extension during lifting, moving and while you are stationary.

Spinal Flexion

flexion

Spinal Extension

images6QEDBBIC

Neutral Spine

imagesQ0V1D8B0

So with neutral spine everything is lined up, you could draw a line straight from the top of the head right through the hips. This is thought by many experts to be the safest position to lift from in order to maintain lower back health. It’s a very interesting topic to get into, but for now I haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of research and understanding so I’m going to leave it at that until further research has been carried out.

 

Obliques

obliques

The obliques are the muscles that create that oh-so elusive V-shape that many people crave and see as the epitome of existence. They help you to bend side to side as well as bending forwards and back. They are essential for twisting the torso left and right and therefore play a key role in throwing motions, the golf swing and many other movements. They stretch from your ribs to your pelvis and the pull between the two attachment sites is what facilitates all of the movements the obliques assist with.

These are the muscles people are trying to train when you see people stood bending side to side with weight in their hands.

I like to strengthen mine by doing side planks or kettlebell windmills

Sticking Point

This is simply the part of an exercise where you are weakest or where you tend to get stuck if you happen to fail a lift. My sticking point in the bench press is about 1-2 inches above my chest whereas with the deadlift I struggle the most just above the floor (or the weight just doesn’t move!) People often do sticking point training by putting wooden boards on the chest to the same height as their sticking point, lowering the bar to that level and pressing from the sticking point in order to get stronger in that area, another version (and far easier to set up) of this is the floor press. You can do sticking point training with pretty much any exercise. It just depends on your goals and where you want to get stronger.

Supersets

This is where you do a set of one exercise followed immediately by a set of another exercise. The exercises can work opposing muscle groups or the same muscle groups it just depends on the workout. Supersets are an excellent way of fitting more exercises in to a short space of time and making the session a lot more intense.

So you might superset incline bench press with dumbbell flyes on a bench or you might superset bent-over rows with press-ups. Another favourite is supersetting squats with walking lunges…which believe me is disgusting.

This article was far too long. For that I am sorry!

To further this series please put any fitness terms you would like defining into the comments section and I will make sure it is in one of the parts of this article yet to be written.

Chris Kershaw

 

 

I Don’t Have A Clue What You Just Said…A Beginner’s Guide To Gym Terminology Part 1

 

I received this email from Zoe, a client of mine who is currently at beginner status in regards to weight training. She was kind enough to read through all of my babble and give me some terms that she couldn’t understand or define herself.

I’ve been lifting since I was 14, so I often forget that someone might not know what a barbell is.

So here we go…

Terminology

Front or back squat – what’s the difference? (not knowing about using a bar…)

Bent over rows

Flat bench dumbbell press

TRX bodyweight row

Supinated (?Word on its own…) narrow grip pull down

Neutral grip low incline press

Military press

Head or chest supported dumbbell row

Side plank (the only plank I know off is lying on something flat with your arms out and having a picture… :S )

Rack pulls… I’m assuming this includes equipment but wouldn’t know what or what to do

Deficit deadlift… doesn’t seem logical!

Bodyweight walk outs

Plank to press

Low jacks

Leg extensions (seems harmless until you see people doing it wrong)

That’s about it for now if I trip up on any others I will let you know!

I’m going to add my own in part 2:

The Clean

Personal Trainer

Fitness Instructor

Reps

Sets

Curling in the squat rack

Squat Rack and how to set it up for various exercises

Bench Press

Kettlebell

Bosu Ball

TRX

AMRAP

Olympic Lifting

Powerlifting

Cardio

Weights Bench

Smith Machine

Foam Roller (studies included)

Neutral Spine

Obliques

Sticking Points

Supersets

Back Squat/ Front Squat

The back and front merely refer to the position on the barbell in relation to the head and shoulder in the simplest terms.

The back squat places the bar across the back of the neck and shoulders. this form of squatting allows you to move much more significant weight than the front squat

Squatting 170kg at a Powerlifting Meet, hosted by me!

Squatting 170kg at a Powerlifting Meet, hosted by me!

The front squat is one of my favourite exercises (mostly because I’m better at it than most due to being around a foot tall.) It involves the bar sitting right across the throat, with the bar resting just behind the front deltoid. You may see people holding the bar in a couple of different ways.

ff

fff

Bent-over Rows

This is an exercise fantastic for developing a large percentage of the musculature of the upper body and involves rowing the bar towards the stomach and lowering it again in a controlled fashion.

BentOverRow

Again a variety of grips can be used for this exercise to target slightly different tissues to achieve slightly different results.

Flat Dumbbell Press

This is a variation of the bench press, targeting the front of the shoulder/pectoral girdle most of all. The ‘flat’ bit refers to lying flat on your back. The press is achieved by lowering the dumbbells to just outside of the mid-chest before pressing the weights back to the starting position. Again it’s possible to use various grips for this exercise. You may even encounter a version using only one dumbbell.

fdp

TRX Bodyweight Row

The TRX is a form of suspension trainer, and is comprised of a couple of straps attached to a bar, a tree, a door or similar. It’s a pretty cool piece of kit, with literally thousands of exercises you can adapt to the TRX’s evil ways.

tr

From a standing position where your hands are lightly touching the outside of your lower chest you allow your body to drop back in a controlled manner until your arms are completely straight, you then simply reverse the movement and pull your body up until your hands are back to their original position. Where you stand dictates the difficulty of this exercise massively. Feet further forward means a lot more strain than when your feet are further back.

Supine

Supine just means face-up, so in relation to grip it just means that the palm of your hand faces up/ towards your face.

supine

Narrow Grip Pulldown

ngp

This blasts the forearm, biceps and many of the muscles of the back. I hate this exercise because I am terrible at it. So I should probably do it more. Try not to use your body to jerk it down and try to hold the bar for a second in the bottom position to get maximum results from this exercise

Neutral Grip Low Incline (Dumbbell) Press

This is an exercise I obtained from Eric Cressey, who I think is one of the best strength coaches in the world, and far more intelligent than me (and a much better businessman I might add.)

The neutral grip in this instance refers to the arms being roughly body width apart, with the palms facing each other while you are holding the weights.

The low incline aspect refers to the weights bench set at a slightly higher angle than flat. The pressing motion is a very similar pattern to the flat dumbbell press which we discussed earlier.

lip

Military Press
Here’s a slightly wordy video I like to refer to when teaching the military (overhead press.)

When an exercise has military in the title it usually refers to something being pressed overhead, so for example a military press is simply an overhead press using a dumbbell or a barbell or any weighted implement.

The exercise can be performed standing, sitting or even on one-leg for an excellent test of balance and proprioception.

When weights get extremely heavy, one of the major problems of this exercise is actually getting the weight into the correct position…however if you struggle to get the weights up to the correct place I’d just say you have gone too heavy and should regress and learn how to perform the ‘clean’ exercise which will also be included in this article.

 

military

Head or Chest Supported Dumbbell Row

First of all, the dumbbell row is an exercise very similar to the bent-over row exercise featured earlier, however the chest or the forehead is supported by a weights bench as seen below:

headsupported row

chestsupported

The reasons you would perform these variations are:

  • It’s easier to maintain good posture with some additional support to the head and torso
  • It makes it easier to prevent reps being performed with bad form
  • If your program contains a great deal of lower back work, these versions are far easier on that part of the body

Once again, a number of hand positions can be used, you could also use a cable machine, kettlebells or a barbell for this exercise (many other pieces of equipment as well but you get the idea)

Side Plank

This is a fairly simple yet deceptively difficult bodyweight exercise. You rest on one arm/ forearm and the edge of one foot (with the feet stacked on top of each other) and hold this position for a prescribed amount of time. This is an excellent exercise for strengthening the obliques, glutes and lower back for resisting unwanted lateral movement of the spine and therefore stabilizing the lumbar region during exercises such as heavy squats as well as during every day movements.

side plank

There are many variations and progression of the side plank, such as lifting the top leg or moving the hips up and down instead of just holding the position at the top. I hope to be able to go into these variations in an article in and of itself at some point in future.

Rack Pulls

This is one of my favourite exercises that I can think of, especially for overloading the deadlift (lifting more than I can during that exercise.) It involves setting up a squat rack so that the barbell rests across the pins at a height where the barbell is in line with your knee caps (sometimes higher, sometimes lower.) It means you have less range of motion to cover for a full repetition, so you can usually handle large weights with this exercise.

To perform the lift you grip the barbell just outside of the knees, you “get tight” (imagining you are trying to get your shoulder blades into your back pockets is a good way to start “getting tight”) and with a straight back and slightly bent legs at the bottom of the movement you drive through the floor with your heels and lift the bar (while keeping the arms straight) until you are stood tall with the bar in line with your hips.

I’m confused just typing that so here’s a video.

By the way, I know many of you may not know how to set up a squat rack for this exercise don’t worry, this will be covered in part 2.

I’m not familiar with too many variations of this exercise, you could use different equipment, specifically different kinds of barbells, but the standard barbell is how you will usually perform this movement.

Deficit Deadlifts

Deficit Deadlifts are just deadlifts performed using a height deficit. So if you usually deadlift using 20kg plates from the floor, you stand on a step or piece of wood (or just weight plates!) and lift the bar from there. The reason many people do this to improve speed off the floor in the standard deadlift and for pushing through ‘sticking points’ in the lift. Again, sticking points will be covered in part 2.

deficit deadlifts

Bodyweight Walkouts

This is one of my favourite exercises to place in a warm-up or in a class situation because it is nice and simple to learn, and can be used to combine standing exercises with prone exercises, so for example using the bodyweight walk out you can perform a squat and transition straight into a press-up by doing the walk out in between.

I like to stand up after each rep, but you can perform these keeping your hands on the floor at all times as in this video:

It’s an excellent test of core, wrist and shoulder strength/stability, if you aren’t moving well, it will tell you and can be used for a variety of goals.

Plank to Press

An interesting version of the plank. Not only does this test your core strength and endurance but it’s also brutal on your triceps.

I like to put these in class situations or perhaps superset them with dips or another similar triceps exercise to really get my triceps working.

Low Jacks

This is a horrible exercise that I put into bodyweight circuits. I don’t like to use them often as knees and ankles don’t tend to like them done in high volumes. Done once a month or so isn’t a problem and they certainly get the heart rate high and the legs on fire. They don’t have much carry over to any sports that I am aware of, so if you are training for a particular sport I’d spend your time on something closer to the movements you perform in the sport itself.

Leg Extensions

This is an exercise you to train the muscles that extend the knee (straighten the leg.) You see it in many gyms, often with poor screaming humans whose legs have set on fire (it would seem.)

I used to love this exercise because of how much I could “feel it.” Then I felt it a little too much and couldn’t walk without pain for a couple of days, so I tend to avoid it now. Front Squats, walking lunges and leg press would be my favourite knee extensor exercises now. I’m not anti-machines I promise. Leg extensions can definitely help people regain strength when bodyweight exercises such as squats and deadlifts just aren’t an option. They are also very easy to perform single-legged if you are trying to sort out a strength imbalance for example.

terminators

Damn machines!

legextensions

Leg Extensions

Any questions about this just give me a shout @ cjkpersonaltraining@hotmail.co.uk

Feel free to print and share as you fit to beginners who may well be terrified when first entering the gym environment.

 

Chris Kershaw