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!
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?
And yes, they are natural (none of those nasty roids!)
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
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 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.
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.
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:
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!
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
Video to come!
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!
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.
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 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.
Kettlebell Pentathlon™ Rules
5 One-Arm Kettlebell Exercises:
- #1 Clean – 120 reps max
- #2 LongCycle Press – 60 reps max
- #3 Jerk – 120 reps max
- #4 Half Snatch – 108 reps max
- #5 Push Press – 120 reps max
- 6 minute set for each exercise
- 5 minute recovery between sets
- No points given for over max reps
- Unlimited switching of hands
- Variable choice of weights from 8KG-72KG
- Knees cannot bend on press and feet cannot leave the floor on PushPress.
- Fixation on clean is required in Pentathlon when using Fixometer
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…
- 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 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
24-inch box jumps, 30 reps
20-inch box jumps, 40 reps
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 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.)
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.
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!
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.
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.
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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.