Conditioning for Sports- Energy Systems 101

By examining your sport’s energy demands, and training in the appropriate energy systems, you can build sport specific conditioning.

First, let’s nail down exactly what an “energy system” is.  Depending on the task, your body can produce energy in a few different ways.  Different chemical reactions within your body create energy for different tasks.  Some are very powerful, but run out of gas quickly.  Some last longer.  Your body uses some combination of each to power you throughout your day. Read More

German Body Comp.: Weight Training for Fat Loss

German Body Comp. is one of my favorite program types when training clients for fat loss.  It focuses on building or maintaining muscle mass, while causing a powerful fat burning effect via your body’s lactic acid and growth hormone response.  I’ve touched on German Body Comp. in the past, but I think it deserves a second mention here.

This time, I’m going to give you the complete recipe to use this program to get shredded for summer; and a sample program to get you started.

* It’s only fair to mention Charles Poliquin, world class strength coach and king of GBC in any article on this subject.  His book German Body Comp. is the ultimate guide to GBC; including several training programs and complete meal plans.

INTENSITY:

GBC requires you to lift semi-heavy weights (the heaviest you can use to safely complete a set), for sets of 8-10 or 10-12 repetitions.  You’ll complete 8-10 reps when training biceps, hamstrings, and back because these muscle groups contain a higher percentage of “fast twitch” muscle fibers.  Because of that, they respond better to lower rep training.  10-12 reps will be used for chest, triceps, shoulders, and quads.

FREQUENCY:

German Body Comp. is a full body training program that can be used to train 3 or 4 days per week with great success.

ORGANIZATION:

You’ll superset each exercise with its appropriate partner.  Chest movements are paired with hamstrings.  Back movements are paired with quadriceps exercises, biceps with triceps, and shoulders with calves.  Abdominal training and rehab/prehab work are paired together at the end of each training session.

REST PERIODS:

Keep rest periods short and precise.  You should be resting for 45 seconds between each movement in your supersets.

TEMPO:

Tempo is very important to effective GBC.  Slow, measured tempos create increased time under tension, and produce the desired Growth Hormone response needed for fat burning.  A 4-0-1-0 tempo is perfect for most movements in your GBC program.

EXERCISE SELECTION:

Whenever possible, focus on compound/multi-joint exercises more than isolating a single muscle at a time.  i.e.: Bench press is better than machine fly’s.  This will increase calories burned, your body’s hormone response, and your opportunity to build muscle.

SAMPLE GBC PROGRAM For BEGINNERS
Day 1
Movement Sets Reps Rest Tempo
A1) Incline Dumbbell Press 4 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
A2) Romanian Deadlift 4 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
B1) Seated Row 4 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
B2) Split Squats 4 10 to 12 each 45 sec. 4010
C1) Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 10 to 12 each 45 sec. 4010
C2) Dumbbell Skull Crushers 3 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
D1) Powell Raise (rear delt) 3 10 to 12 each 45 sec. 4010
D2) Standing Calf Raise 3 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
Day 2
Movement Sets Reps Rest Tempo
A1) Chest Dips 4 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
A2) Machine Hamstring Curls 4 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
B1) Pull-ups 4 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
B2) Quad Squats 4 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
C1) Barbell Reverse Curls 3 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
C2) Cable Triceps Push-downs 3 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
D1) Cable External Rotation 90* 3 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
D2) Plank 3 60 sec. 45 sec. X
Day 3
Movement Sets Reps Rest Tempo
A1) Front Squat 4 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
A2) Dumbbell One Arm Row 4 8 to 10 each 45 sec. 4010
B1) Dumbell Unrolling Fly 4 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
B2) Glute/Ham Raise 4 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
C1) Barbell Drag Curl 3 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
C2) Narrow Grip Bench 3 10 to 12 45 sec. 4010
D1) Trap 3 Raise 3 8 to 10 45 sec. 4010
D2) Reverse Plank 3 60 sec. 45 sec. X

 

Q&A: How many reps should I do? Speed Edition

One of the questions I get asked the most is, “How should I lift to get faster?  Lots of repetitions with light weight, or low rep training?”

It’s not as tricky as you think, but before you can understand training for speed and quickness, you have to understand the chart I made (above).  Basically, low rep training develops maximal strength, while higher rep sets lead to hypertrophy and eventually, with even higher reps, muscular endurance.  Of course, this is a simplified depiction of what really goes on, and there is some “overflow” of each quality;  i.e. training for 6 or 8 reps will build strength, while also developing hypertrophy and making your muscles grow.

Great.  Now, what about speed?  Well… strength makes speed.  The stronger you are, the faster you will be able to move a given mass.  So, first you need to get strong with some heavy low repetition training.

“…but won’t grinding out slow, heavy reps, and moving slowly make me slower?”  Yes and no.

You definitely perform the way you train.  So, if all you ever do is super heavy/super slow sets; you will eventually get slower.  However, low rep training is also the most effective at training your body’s “fast twitch” muscle fibers, so stick with the low reps.  Don’t worry about speed right away.

Once you’ve developed a base of strength, you can start to be more concerned with your speed development.  Now it’s time to reduce the weight that you’re training with… but don’t do more repetitions!  Instead, continue with low rep training using a load that is about 60% of your 1 Rep Max.  Move that weight as FAST as possible (known as a ballistic tempo) for each repetition you complete.

Finally, speed is created AFTER your time in the weight room.  Strength training gives your body a head start, but the gains you make in the gym are only truly converted to sport specific speed by practicing your sports.  If you’re a sprinter, sprint as fast as possible.  If you’re a boxer, box as fast as possible.

At the end of the day, the only way to get faster is to move fast.

Good luck!

 

German Volume Training for Extreme Muscle

If you’re looking for a serious program to pack on muscle mass as quickly as possible, this might be the plan for you.  Originating in Germany during the 1970’s GVT was originally used as a general prep phase for weightlifters.  It uses extreme volume to cause rapid muscle hypertrophy.  In short, you’ll get big muscles fast.

The idea is to complete 10 sets of 10, for one exercise per muscle group on each training day.  You may add in one or two accessory exercises for specific body parts (3 sets of 10), like biceps curls; but don’t go crazy.  There’s plenty of volume built into these training sessions already.  A typical day might look something like this: Read More

Pilates Myths Busted: Guest Post: Northwestpharmacy.com

I recently spoke with Gillian Zimmer of Northwestpharmacy.com/Health Perch about one of their great new articles.  Courtesy of Gillian, you’ll find that article and tons of great info on Pilates training below.

Joetoproathlete.com is all about finding and refining the world’s best methods for athletic development.  We believe in functional, ground based training, and a holistic approach to building an athlete.  During that process, cross training is often a fun and effective way to fill in gaps left by our current training.  So, experiencing and integrating new fitness disciplines is always an intriguing prospect.  I don’t, personally, have a ton of experience with Pilates, but for some this type of training might provide some great supplementary work.  Let’s see what it’s all about… Read More

5 Ways to Get Better with Age

If you’ve spent any significant amount of time in the gym, chances are you’ve heard those guys in the locker room talk about how strong they were “back in the day”.  Or, you’ve listened to that girl tell you about how fit and smoking hot her body “used to be”.  Why is it that in a gym full of people, who are currently working hard, no one is in the best shape of their lives? Read More

Squat. More.

No matter who you are, chances are you should be squatting.  If you already squat, there’s a good chance you should be squatting more.  This classic, multi-joint exercise is as versatile and effective as any other move your gym has to offer.  Athletes, weight loss exercisers, women, and anyone who sets foot in the gym (with the exception of a few, with certain serious injuries) should all squat.  Here are just a few of the biggest reasons: Read More

3 Tips for a Clean and Jerk PR

The Clean and Jerk is one of the most effective exercises the weightroom can offer.   If you master proper form and program for it correctly, the Clean and Jerk can help you build strength, speed, power, kinesthetic awareness, and body coordination/control. However, Olympic movements like the Clean and Jerk are complex and intense. Many people are using them incorrectly; resulting in sub-par results or injury. Here are 3 tips to make your Clean and Jerk count: Read More

Girls Don’t Know Squat: Female Fitness Myths Busted

 

  • False: Lifting heavy weights will make me bulky.

The Truth: If you’re a woman, you probably don’t have hormones at the proper levels or at the right ratios to support massive muscle gain. Even men, with much higher levels of natural testosterone, often struggle to gain muscle mass. They’ll shovel thousands of extra calories into their mouths daily, lift weights religiously, and take a half dozen supplements, all to gain 5 or 10 lbs. of muscle (considered awesome progress!).  The small amount of muscle a female might gain from weight training usually serves only to raise her metabolic rate (aiding in future fat loss) and to give her that “toned” look every woman asks her trainer about. Read More

Resistance Training: How young is too young? Ask the NSCA

Almost every week, some parent asks me, “At what age can my young athlete start a strength and conditioning program?”

They almost always have concerns about stunting the kid’s growth or getting him/her injured during training. Outdated and largely unfounded ideas about youth training are causing many children and adolescents to miss out on the numerous benefits of a well-designed strength and conditioning program. Read More