Training Inspiration

Sometimes we over-complicate things.  We get caught up with the latest supplements.  We want to try so many new training techniques that we hop from program to program, and never stick with one plan long enough to get quality results.  Or, we think we’re smart enough to make up our own “new program” by adding elements of three proven plans together.

In many cases, it works best to stick best with what’s proven to work best.  Period.  Don’t get too fancy.  You’re not in the gym to impress anyone with how advanced your training program is, are you?  You’re there to get results.

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

Stress Management (and Adrenal Fatigue)

Recently, I’ve been dealing with a case of Adrenal Fatigue, and it could have been prevented.  Over the years, I’ve known several athletes and multiple trainers/strength coaches who have experienced the same battle.  If we push too hard and don’t pay enough attention to recovery, sleep, and healthy eating, something’s got to give.  Adrenal Fatigue is a physiological condition in which your body relies too heavily on adrenaline to function on a daily basis.  You may feel more anxious than usual, because of your extended exposure to high levels of adrenaline and insufficient levels of a stress hormone called Cortisol.  You’ll also feel a decrease in motivation, have trouble sleeping even when tired (“tired but wired”), and might experience unusual blood sugar swings.  So how, exactly, does this happen?  More importantly, how can we avoid Adrenal Fatigue or treat it once it has begun? 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!

 

Weekly Inspiration

Your food choices are important and worth a little bit of time.  Nothing worth having comes easily.  I know you work hard on your fitness.  I know you care about getting results.  That’s why you’re reading this, right?  If being healthy and fit is worth the hours you spend in the gym every week, and it’s worth the money you spend on your gym membership, isn’t it worth the extra 30 minutes it will take to prepare healthy food instead of eating that McDonald’s?  Aren’t your goals more important than the temporary satisfaction that you’d get from drinking that chocolate milkshake?

You always have the power to choose.  Apply your willpower and strong character (I know you have one) to your food just as you would to life’s other important choices.

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

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Shane Carwin’s Secret Core Activation Program

Last weekend, I learned this series for core activation and hip functionality from world class strength coach, Loren Landow.  Loren has coached countless NFL and UFC standouts, including retired superstar Shane Carwin.

Carwin told me that THIS short core activation series, which Landow uses as part of his general warm-up, made a bigger difference in his game than any other exercise.  Try it for yourself.

 

Weekly Inspiration

Life is full of challenges.  Each day presents us with a new set of problems to solve and opportunities to seize.  It’s a trial by fire, and all you need to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other.  The small things will fade away, and the big things will work themselves out, if you just keep walking.

Are you having a hard time on your weight loss journey?  At work?  At home?  Step one is to take step one…

Weekend with The World’s Best

I got to spend this weekend in Colorado with 6 of the world’s best strength coaches, specializing in training for combat sports.  The knowledge and experience in that room was incredible!!  These guys have written dozens of successful books and articles, plus coached champions in the UFC, Olympians, and some of the most famous fighters in the world.  We got to talk about training and sports psychology, plus learn some new skills in hands-on training.

Over the next week or two, I’ll be sharing some of what I learned on my blog, so check it out!

Today, I want to touch on the theme of the weekend: LESS IS MORE.  Whether we’re talking about fighting, or any other sport, strength and conditioning is just one piece of the puzzle.  The main focus for any athlete has to be skills/sports specific practice.  S&C work should complement those practices, not hinder them.  If you’re so sore from lifting weights that you can’t perform in practice, you’re doing something wrong.

Modern, intelligent training should be carefully planned and organized to allow time for recovery.  Then, during training sessions, injury prevention and rehab/prehab needs to be priority number one.  If you’re not healthy, you can’t get any better!

In combat sports, that means lifting only about twice per week!  A fighter expends tons of energy training to fight, so trying to squeeze in additional hours of S&C becomes counterproductive.  Start listening to your body and learn when to back off.  You’ll be better for it.

Remember as well that you shouldn’t feel exhausted after every training session!  Some workouts are designed to train your nervous system, or to affect your body in some way that will not lead to that “smoked” feeling.  Trust the process.

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Sticking Points- Stuck at the bottom?

If you want to squat to full depth, and you’ve been having trouble getting yourself moving out of that “hole” at the bottom of the squat, this is the video for you.  Master this one simple trick for a stronger deep squat.

Squatting past 90* at the knees, and to full depth is always my preference.  It allows you to build more overall power, preserves or improves mobility, and there’s less torque on your knees than when changing directions at 90*.  If you want to perform the Olympic lifts, you’ll also need the necessary mobility for deep squatting.  Plus, when you train your full range of motion, you’ll be able to access strength from any position when you need it in the real world.

 

Weekly Inspiration

A lot of times, life spills into our training schedules.  It’s important to keep a holistic approach to self-improvement.  Your physical results leading to fitness goals or athletic improvement will follow your mental game directly.  I promise.

This week I spent a couple of days being anxious about something that I really could not control.  Before long, though, I realized how silly I was Read More

Weekly Inspiration

This quote applies to so many areas of life.  When it comes to your fitness or training goals, being flexible is key.  Life happens, and you might have to reschedule a training session or skip a meal.  You might get injured and need to adjust your training accordingly.  It’s best to have a plan, but you can’t crack if some changes have to be made on the fly. 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

Weekly Inspiration

Did you have a great, productive, day yesterday?  Awesome!  Now, don’t stop for too long to pat yourself on the back.  Have another great day today.  Do it again tomorrow.  Those singular days of excellence will soon turn into a habit and make your whole life excellent!

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

Weekly Inspiration

Two heads are better than one.  It’s not even close, either.  Somehow, when like-thinking minds join together, their power is magnified exponentially.  Something special happens when people are united for a common purpose.  Many successful businesses are created and run by groups like this.  We call them Mastermind Groups.  Even Congress is, for all intents and purposes, a Mastermind Group in government.

If you have a goal, one of the best things you can do is put your head together with a group of people who can help.  Find people who have already achieved what you seek, as well as others seeking it along with you.  Discuss your goals regularly.  Ask questions.  Listen to feedback from multiple sources.   Read More

Weekly Inspiration

Just don’t give up.  It’s such a simple concept, but sometimes it can be so hard.  Thomas Edison, responsible for the quote above, is the perfect person to take that advice from.  When 10,000 of his attempts at creating the incandescent light bulb were unsuccessful, members of the press asked Edison how it felt to fail.  He replied that he had not failed, but only found 10,000 ways that wouldn’t work; ultimately on his way to success.

Have you tried getting in shape before, and failed?  Do you have fitness goals that seem unachievable?  Just don’t give up.

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Core Strength with Dr. Ed Race

Popular exercise culture has left lots of people believing that 1000’s of crunches are the secret to a strong core.  The truth is, your abs are just a small part of your body’s “core”.  Learn about all of the other muscles and how to prioritize your training with Dr. Ed Race and joetoproathlete.com online personal training.

 

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

Weekly Inspiration

Vince Lombardi was one of the greatest winners of all time.  His words of wisdom, which were often centered around football, apply in all areas of life.  That’s what’s so great about sports and fitness; we build character and life skills on the practice field and in the weight room that will later become professional and personal tools for success.

Set a fitness or sports performance goal today.  Don’t give up until you’ve achieved it.  Listen to Vince. Read More

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Knee health: with Dr. Ed Race

Strong, stable knees are important in sports and every day life.  Check out this quick video to learn about common issues and self-assessment.  In our next videos, we’ll be covering some more exercises to strengthen the supporting muscles around the knee joint.  Since it’s winter, we’ll also talk about how some of these knee injuries relate to snow sports like skiing and snowboarding.   Read More

4 Pillars of Speed with 3 x Olympian Abderaman Brahim

Today, I got a serious lesson in speed. I got to spend the day at Savannah State University with Abderaman Brahim; a 3 time track and field Olympian in the 100 meters and long jump. Brahim first came to America from the African nation of Chad at age 16 to pursue an international Olympic scholarship. He’s been burning up the track ever since, and after his competitive career was over he became one of the top track coaches in his area. He’s USATF certified and a member of the IFTA of America.

I asked Brahim to give me his best crash course on sprinting. We covered specific dynamic warm-ups, sprint mechanics, specialty training equipment, and talked a lot about his philosophies for speed development. The drills we went over will make you faster and more effective in any sport, and I’ll be featuring some demo. videos to go over specific techniques you can use to gain that extra step later this week. In the meantime, here are coach Brahim’s four pillars of speed development: Read More

Weekly Inspiration: Goal Setting

Goal setting is step #1 in accomplishing most things. How can you reach your destination if you don’t know where you want to go? Let’s all use the last few days of 2014 to reflect on our successes and failures of the past year. Give yourself credit for your accomplishments, but don’t condemn yourself for the areas in which you’ve fallen short. Resolve to do even better in 2015. Read More

3 Reasons to Throw Your Bosu Ball Away!

Bosu balls, inflatable discs for under your feet, and other stability trainers have been marketed as tools for building balance, core strength, and thus increasing overall power and athletic performance. These claims are based upon several theories; each of which is bunk. If you’re an athlete looking to improve core strength and power, you should stick with free weights on a stable surface. Keep reading to find out why… Read More