If you want a piece of equipment that can provide, strength, power, fitness and fat loss all in one check out the video below and stay tuned for some cool PT/fitness applications! My patients love it. Our athletes, pro and amateur, love it!
If you want a piece of equipment that can provide, strength, power, fitness and fat loss all in one check out the video below and stay tuned for some cool PT/fitness applications! My patients love it. Our athletes, pro and amateur, love it!
Actually, it is the one you consume right after your workout. After your work out your muscles are most sensitive to insulin. Insulin is what causes your muscle to take up glucose from the blood storing it as glycogen. Glycogen is the fuel that your muscles use. So, consuming adequate carbs and protein after your workout allows you to recover faster which means your body is better prepared for the next workout. I often discuss this with patients due to the fact they are working their buts off in therapy (at least in my world of sports physical therapy they do) so recovery is important and their body is trying to heal itself therefore adequate nutrition enhances this process, not to mention proper hydration which most people lack. Even if you are not an athlete, recovering appropriately can mean a better day at work or playing with the kids later or the next day. By consuming protein after a workout you can enhance glycogen replenishment by 30% and if you consume carbs with that you can double the insulin response which means more nutrients are able to be delivered back to the musles. Generally speaking, you should consume a carb to protein ratio of about 2-3:1. If you are doing longer duration endurance type exercise then a higher dose of carbs (4:1 ratio) is more appropriate. Optimally this should be consumed within about 20 minutes after exercise but technically there is a two hour window post exercise. Whey protein is the best choice because it is absorbed faster and the carbs should be simple sugar. A cheap and easy mix is to purchase whey protein and mix it with generic kool-aide. Mix and match your flavors to your taste preference. Again generally speaking, a ratio of about 40 g carbs (sugar) and 15g protein would work. Dosage can vary based on training intensity and goals, but that at least gives a geral framework and rationale s to why it is critical to get you post work out supplementation in. So dont forget this critical piece to your rehab or training process!
Get Strong! Stay Strong!
By Charles Staley
Twenty years ago, strength training was considered taboo for martial artists.
Today, it is gaining in popularity, despite the fact that it is rarely carried out in a rational manner. Due to strong influences from the world of bodybuilding, most martial artists are only getting half the potential benefit that strength training has to offer.
Specificity and Strength Training
Virtually all martial arts depend upon the ability to develop force very rapidly. Technically, the rapid execution of a technique results in more damage to the target. Tactically, rapidly executed techniques have a greater chance of landing, since they are more difficult to defend against than slower movements. From a defensive point of view, rapidly performed blocks and parries, as well as defensive footwork, are made more effective if executed rapidly.
Strength training for sports normally progresses through three phases: hypertrophy (muscle mass), absolute strength (the most force that can be produced irregardless of time required), and finally, speed strength (the ability to develop force rapidly). In the case of the martial arts, most athletes spend most or all of their time developing hypertrophy. A few progress to methods designed to develop absolute strength. Fewer still venture into speed-strength territory.
Critical to this article is the concept that the ability to develop high levels of force (such as displayed during a 400 pound bench press) is not as important as the ability to develop a high level of force within a very short (less than a second) period of time. The development of muscle mass and absolute strength are important because they form the foundation for speed-strength, but by themselves, they are next to worthless.
Sometimes called “the bodybuilding method,” hypertrophy training involves the use of moderate (between 70 and 85 percent of maximum) loads for sets of between 5 and 10 repetitions. Such loads provoke an increase in protein synthesis within the muscle cells, leading to an enlargement of the existing muscle tissue.
This enlargement is the first step in developing speedstrength, since increases in muscle cross-section are highly correlated to increases in absolute strength. An athlete stays in the hypertrophy phase for as long as is necessary and/or appropriate— while hypertrophy is a necessary first step, too much of it can be counter-productive (i.e., growing out of your weight class, or developing flexibility deficits, etc.). When the desired level of hypertrophy is developed, the athlete moves on to absolute strength training methods. Note: Athletes should increase protein intake while in this phase to help the body resynthesize muscle tissue.
Training for Absolute Strength
Absolute strength is developed through the use of high (85+ percent of maximum) loads. Repetitions range from 1 to 4. Such training improves neurological efficiency, or the ability to recruit higher percentages of existing muscle fibers. Fast twitch muscle is preferentially recruited over slow twitch fibers at this intensity range. The development of absolute strength is considered to be a prerequisite to speed-strength, but this training method should only be attempted by mature, experienced athletes, due to the high loads involved.
Developing Speed-strength: Moving the Time-force Curve to the Left
Once absolute strength is brought to a high level, the next task is to move the force time curve over to the left. Several methods can be used for this purpose: plyometrics, the use of modified Olympic lifts, and the lifting of submaximal (70 to 80 percent of maximum) weights at a high rate of speed. The emphasis is on improving the rate of force development (R.O.F.D.).
During the period of time devoted to speed-strength work, one can expect gains in hypertrophy and absolute strength to degrade to a certain degree. For this reason, a rationally designed training program will constantly alternate between phases devoted to hypertrophy, absolute strength, and speedstrength, in that order.
For mature athletes who already have sufficient muscle mass, the hypertrophy phase will be greatly abbreviated, however. For competitive martial artists, training cycles are planned so that the speedstrength phase coincides with the competitive season. In this way, sport-specific strength is brought to a peak when it is needed most.
Strength as a Means to an End
I caution the reader to remember that strength, as a component of physical preparation, is not an end but a means to an end. It simply allows the martial artist to achieve high results on the technical and tactical levels of preparation, and thus, to a high level of psychological preparedness.
Get Strong! Stay Strong!
By Patrick Ward, MS, CSCS
Lets face it – strength athletes are animals! They train. They train hard. And they leave it all on the table! Some of the best workouts I’ve been a part of took place in a garage in suburban America where we were flipping tires, performing Olympic lifts and heavy deadlifts and pretty much going balls to the wall. While the strength athletes are certainly gung-ho about their workout, often the most overlooked component to their entire training plan is the recovery and regeneration. “That stuff is for sissies!” “If I’m not pushing max weights, I’m not making progress!” These two dogmas couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, with some proper planning and attention to recovery, strength athletes could potentially make the gains that have eluded them for the past few years. In addition, it’s important to remember that in the gym we tear down tissue. We grow and get stronger when we rest and allow our body to adapt to the training stresses we have just imposed on it. If we never give it time to adapt and get stronger, then we’re constantly in a phase of breaking down, and that certainly will catch up to us in time. I have outlined five recovery strategies that can be beneficial to all athletes (not just strength athletes) and instrumental in avoiding overtraining, potentially preventing injury and setting you up for continued progress in the weight room.
1) Unload Give yourself a break some times! Yes, progressive overload is important to making gains. But, backing off and giving your nervous system a break is also important. You can’t max out every day (and probably not every week even…at least not for any considerable amount of time) as you will likely hit the wall sooner rather than later. Unloading could be accomplished in a variety of ways. It could be just lowering the intensity (the amount of load lifted in relation to your 1RM for a given lift) for a week.
For example, if you are squatting 4 sets x 5 reps @ 87%, the following week you could unload the intensity by performing 4 sets x 5 reps @ 75%.
It could be in the form of lowering the volume. So, if you are working on squatting 4 sets x 5 reps @ 87%, next week you could unload by performing 5 sets x 2 reps at 87% before ramping back up. Or, it could be in the form of just taking a few days off and maybe partaking in some active rest (an easy walk, riding the bike, etc).
Whatever you choose, allowing yourself to back off a little bit not only helps the nervous system recover from all the heavy/intense training, but it also gives the joints and tendons some time to recover, since going heavy too frequently can lead to a lot of aches and pains.
An easy way to set up time for unloading is to use a 4-week schedule. Week number four is always going to be your unload week before starting to work the intensity back up or changing the training focus (IE, from strength emphasis to power emphasis) in the next 4-week wave. The 4-week wave also fits nicely into a month training plan, which is why I like it. While there are many ways to incorporate unloading into your program (and some of this will be dictated by your sport and the amount of time you have to prepare for competition), here are two generic examples to give you an idea:
Example 1 High Volume Moderate Volume Very High Volume Unload Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Bench press 4×5 3×5 6×5 2×5 Chin ups 3×8 2×8 4×8 2×8 (decrease load or use body weight if you typically use extra weight for work sets)
Example 2: Base week Moderate Intensity High Intensity Unload Exercise Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Bench press 3×5@80% 4×5@82% 6×3 start at 85% and work up to a max over 6 sets 2×8@70% Chin ups 3×8 3×5 5×5 2×8 (decrease load or use body weight if you typically use extra weight for work sets)
2) Nutrition Around The Workout What you eat is critical to what you get as a return on your training investment. Making sure you’re getting quality calories is important to ensure that your body is fueled up for the next training bout. Incorporating a post-workout shake or meal is also important to help replenish muscle glycogen (stored energy) that was burned during your workout and to start repairing damaged tissue (protein synthesis). This year I had the opportunity to attend the NSCA’s 31st National Conference. Joel Cramer PhD, Jeff Stout PhD, and Joseph Weir PhD gave a three-part talk on Nutritional Supplementation Before, During and After Resistance Training. They really drove home the point that we need to be on top of our supplementation around workout time. One thing that they talked a lot about was the potential for protein synthesis to be maximally stimulated by increasing amino acid delivery to the muscles at the time when blood flow is increased (which is just prior to and during our workout). After presenting the research, Jeff Stout concluded that, “consuming carbohydrate and protein pre-, during and post-resistance training can significantly reduce muscle damage. By reducing muscle damage, athletes should be able to increase speed of recovery, and allow for them to participate in the next high-intensity exercise sooner.” A simple way to put this into practice is to bring a shake to the gym that you can sip on just before and during your workout. Sometimes, because of how whey protein is, it is not the best texture to sip on during training. If this is the case for you, there are a number of Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) products out there which have a much more manageable texture and taste for prior and during the workout (some of them taste a lot like Gatorade).
3) Paying Attention To Things That Hurt The five worst words in the English language are “maybe it will go away.” If something hurts, it means that something is wrong. Figure out what that something is and correct it before it turns into a bigger problem. Oftentimes, little, nagging problems can be fixed by incorporating some stretching and corrective exercise into your daily routine. This doesn’t mean you have to join a yoga class or stop lifting heavy and pick up five pound dumbbells and wave them around like an idiot on one leg. But, it does mean that you need to be aware of what is going on with your body and know what to do to fix it. Corrective exercise and stretching are not stressful on the system and can help with your recovery and regeneration. Perform some of the corrective exercises prior to your lifting, as part of your overall general warm-up and perform stretches post-workout once the muscles are warm. As well, since they are not stressful, you can perform the corrective exercise and stretches on off days. In fact, this is recommended, as it will help make the effects of these modalities more long-lasting. Performing some flexibility and mobility work on off days can be a great way to get active rest and keep the body healthy.
4) Low-Activity Exercise To Help Recovery Obviously I am not talking about preparing for a marathon here. While it is understood that training for maximal strength and performing high amounts of endurance work are not compatible, the strength athlete can gain some benefit from some low activity exercise on off days. By low activity exercise, I mean some brisk walking or riding a bike, or as Louie Simmons used to propose – sled dragging to raise General Physical Preparedness (GPP). Whatever method you choose, the goal should be to get the heart rate up a little bit, which helps to get some blood flowing to the muscles and helps to remove some waste and by-products built up from training. It also raises your work capacity, which can be extremely important as the higher your work capacity, the greater amount of training volume you will be able to handle in the weight room. I like to perform this type of work after a heavy leg day to help get blood move through my lower body and help decrease some of the soreness/stiffness that I may be feeling. In addition to the recovery benefits (and the general health benefits to performing some cardiovascular work), this can also be helpful for strength athletes who need to burn extra calories in order to make weight for a competition – although you really need to focus on your diet for that, as doing too much cardiovascular activity can prevent further strength gains. While many people use interval training for fat loss (which I am a big fan of), sometimes a lot of interval work can be taxing on the lower body – which can be detrimental to progress for a strength athlete who is training their lower body heavy (usually 2x’s a week to boot) and dieting down to get to a certain weight class. Throwing a few days a week of interval training on top of that could be a recipe for trouble.
5) Soft-Tissue Work Self-care is very important for everyone, not just strength athletes. Working on your soft tissue can be helpful in preventing trigger points and myofascial pain. A lot of the nagging injuries we sustain can be combated with a consistent dose of good soft tissue work as it keeps the tissues healthy, pliable, and gel-like. Finding a good therapist and getting work done (even if it is just once a month) can be exceptional. It doesn’t matter what type of therapist you go to, (NMT, ART, MFR, etc.) – the treatment is only as good as the person giving it. And in reality, all of the above have a lot of similarities. The letters are mainly just nice marketing. A foam roller and/or a tennis ball are great tools to use for self-care when you can’t get to a skilled therapist. Roll on either of these and locate tight, tender, or sensitive bands of tissue within our muscles, then maintain pressure on those bands for a short period of time before moving onto the next area of congestion. This can help break apart fascial adhesions and/or trigger points which have formed in areas of stress within the muscle. I wrote a more comprehensive article, Trigger Point 101, on this subject which is worth reading if you are interested in learning more: http://optimumsportsperformance.com/blog/?p=161
Conclusion There are many other techniques that can be used to help aid in recovery between training bouts, but hopefully these five tips give you some ideas to play with. Taking care of your body should be the goal of any great program. If you are strong, but you are always in pain – then your training is all for naught and the break-downs will eventually catch up to you. Understanding what you can do to help keep your joints and connective tissue healthy and keep your nervous system firing on all cylinders will not only assist you in making continued progress, but will also ensure that you can do it for a long time to come.
Get Strong! Stay Strong! (and recover properly!)
By Alwyn Cosgrove
When I started out in the fitness-training field, the average client tended to be an active person who used gym exercise to augment the other types of activity he got outside the gym. Few of us specialized in fat-loss training, simply because it wasn’t the primary goal of the majority of our clients. It was a nice side-effect of solid workouts and a good diet, but it wasn’t the main reason our clients came to work with us. Today, it’s the opposite. What we do with our clients in the gym may be the only exercise they get in a typical week. We regularly see clients who work 50 hours a week, not counting the two hours a day they spend commuting. Many of them can’t train on weekends because of work-related travel, or because it’s the only chance they get to spent time with their spouses and kids. Since opening our facility in 2000, we’ve measured the body-fat percentages, abilities, range of motion, and posture of all our beginning members. I can say this unequivocally: The average beginner today arrives fatter and in worse shape than the average beginner just nine years ago. That presents a huge problem for us. We have to address posture, strength, mobility, flexibility, elasticity, and cardio-respiratory endurance simultaneously. And we’re lucky if we get three hours a week to do it. A traditional program won’t work for this population. Now, before anyone counters with “dedicated people make time,” let me assure you that I’m talking about people who are dedicated. Let me describe two of my former clients:
Client #1: a professional motocross rider • Races 45 weekends a year • Flies out to the race site on Friday, competes Saturday and Sunday, and flies home on Monday • Practices Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday • Trains with me Tuesday and Thursday • Starts all over again on Friday This is a guy who’s married, with two young sons. Is he not dedicated? Do you see any additional room in his schedule that would allow him to train more than he does?
Client #2: a doctor • Works 60 to 70 hours a week, and is often on call longer than that • Commutes an hour to work each way • Married with three kids • Attends his kids’ soccer games, and tries to spend to spend as much time as possible with his family • Trains with me three times a week Is he not a dedicated person? Should he devote more hours to the gym, at the expense of saving lives or spending time with his family?
The solution: To give these dedicated but time-challenged clients the best possible results, we need to hack traditional training down to its most basic and fundamental elements. Hacking 101 You may be familiar with the term “life hack.” Basically, it’s a time-management system in which you hack away the unessential stuff in your life to increase productivity. If we define productivity as “maximizing results per unit of time invested,” we can see the benefits of it. The goal is to spend less time doing things that bring us little if any benefit, and more time doing the things that improve our income, prospects, pleasure, and quality of life. Another way to look at it: maximize productivity by minimizing redundancy. As a fitness professional and owner of a training facility, I realized I had to hack our training programs if I had any hope of keeping pace with the rapidly changing needs of our clients. For example, it’s not uncommon to see programs that include three exercises or more for each body part. So for biceps, you might see the barbell curl, EZ-bar curl, and seated dumbbell curl — three exercises that are more similar than different. Barbell curls, EZ-bar curls, and seated dumbbell curls are essentially the same exercise. Our first hack would be to switch to barbell curls and incline dumbbell curls. Now we’ve reduced the total number of exercises by a third, and we’ve also chosen a non-redundant exercise — the incline curl — to give us a different angle of pull and allow us to hit more muscle fibers. A second hack would choose one of those exercises as our sole focus. A third and final hack — the “max hack” — would eliminate the isolation work completely. Instead, we’d do close-grip chins, which would target the biceps effectively enough while also recruiting lots more muscle and building total-body strength.
Body by Pareto The Pareto principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, is an important key to successful hacking of any type — whether we’re talking about training, running a business, or the overall management of our lives. It’s named for Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist who in 1906 observed that 80 percent of the wealth in Italy (and every country he subsequently studied) was owned by 20 percent of the population. After Pareto published his findings, many others observed similar ratios in their own areas of expertise. In the early 1940s, an industrial-efficiency expert named Joseph Juran applied Pareto’s ideas to project management, describing the principle of “the vital few and trivial many.” Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek, popularized the idea for my generation of entrepreneurs when he observed that 80 percent of his income came from 20 percent of his clients. So he hacked off 80 percent of his clients, effectively reducing his workload by 80 percent, and focused on the clients who accounted for 80 percent of his income. Yes, at first he took a 20 percent pay cut, but his productivity and income soared on a per-hour basis. You can apply the Pareto principle to workout hacking with the assumption that 80 percent of the consequences come from 20 percent of the causes. Or, put another way, 20 percent of the exercises you do produce 80 percent of your results. Let’s say you have a total-body workout with 10 exercises. If we hacked out eight of the 10 exercises, and just kept squats and chin-ups, would you expect to get just 20 percent of the results? Chances are it would be the opposite — you might get 80 percent of the results by focusing on just 20 percent of the exercises. So most of your results come from just two exercises, and relatively few results come from the other eight. It’s easy to see why. Compound exercises recruit more muscle, allow you to use bigger loads, and burn more calories than isolation exercises. That’s why you want to build your program around them, and why your workouts should start with exercises like deadlifts or squats, the ones that produce the best results on a rep-by-rep basis.
Now, I’m not suggesting that you’ll get 100 percent of the results you want with a hacked program. The goal of hacking out what’s unessential from your training program is to free up more of your time without significantly diminishing your results. Don’t hack for the sake of hacking; you want to eliminate redundant or trivially beneficial exercises so you can accomplish other goals, in or out of the gym. In the next few sections I’ll show you examples we’ve used successfully with clients in our facility. As you’ll see, there’s a sound basis in science for most of these hacks.
The Frequency and Volume Hack Back in 2000, a study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research compared equal-volume resistance training over one day or three days per week.  The participants in the study were experienced lifters. Group one performed the entire workout — three sets of each exercise — on one day. Group two performed the same volume of work, but spread it out over three days. So they did one set of each exercise in each workout. The researchers found that the once-per-week group achieved just 62 percent of the strength improvements of the three-times-per-week group, and also gained less muscle. The men in the second group put on nine pounds of muscle, vs. four pounds for those in the first group. This gives us an idea of how to start our training hack: It’s better to reduce volume per workout than it is to reduce frequency. So if you work out three times a week, it’s better to make those workouts shorter than to do longer workouts less often.
A review published in Sports Medicine in 2007 looked at several studies on strength training and hypertrophy across different populations. It concluded that, for hypertrophy, it’s better to train each muscle group three times a week. Anecdotally, we know that a lot of bodybuilders use an increased frequency to bring up a lagging body part. If the problem is that every body part needs to be brought up, then three total-body workouts should work better than a series of split routines in which body parts are hit just once or twice per week. The Sets and Reps Hack Now that we’ve settled on three total-body workouts a week, we have to figure out how to hack unessential elements of those workouts to keep them at a reasonable length. But we still want results, so we have to figure out how best to employ sets and reps to increase size and strength.
A study published in JSCR in 2002 compared two different types of periodization. Traditional linear periodization works something like this: In weeks one to four, you’d do eight reps per set of all your exercises. In weeks five to eight, you’d do six reps, and in weeks nine to 12 you’d do four reps. So you’d progress from a hypertrophy protocol to one that emphasizes pure strength. Undulating periodization aims to achieve those goals simultaneously, so on Monday you’d do four reps per set, on Wednesday you’d do six reps, and on Friday you’d do eight reps. The researchers found that undulating periodization was better than linear periodization for strength gains. Thus, we’ll use three distinct ranges of sets and reps in our three total-body workouts each week. That brings us to the next big question: Which exercises should we use?
Exercise Hack At the 2000 annual conference of the National Strength and Conditioning Association, researchers at Ball State presented a study that compared the effects of two different workouts on upper-arm circumference. One group did four compound upper-body exercises in each workout, while the other did those four exercises plus biceps curls and triceps extensions. Both groups increased their strength and arm size. But in 10 weeks of training, the additional arm exercises provided no additional benefit. So if you’re going to hack your training program to make it as efficient as possible without sacrificing benefits, you can eliminate direct arm training with isolation exercises. Big arms, no curls. Workout Duration Hack Sir Charles Scott Sherrington won the Nobel Prize in 1932 for his contributions in physiology and neuroscience. Sherrington’s law of reciprocal innervation states that “for every neural activation of a muscle, there is a corresponding inhibition of the opposing muscle.” This means that when you work your chest muscles, the opposite back muscles are forced to relax, thereby resting. It’s easy to apply this one: Instead of waiting two minutes between sets of bench presses, for example, you can perform one set of the bench press, rest for one minute, and then do a bent-over row. After you finish, you’ll rest for one minute, then repeat the sequence until you complete all sets of both exercises. In an average workout, this technique saves at least eight to 10 minutes without sacrificing performance.
“If you could only do one exercise … ” I hate questions like this. But I do have an answer: The snatch-grip deadlift probably works more muscle through a bigger range of motion than any other single exercise. (In other words, I’m not comparing the snatch-grip deadlift to a combination exercise like the clean and press.) So we’ll start with that as our primary exercise. Our secondary exercise will be the front squat. I also like to do single-leg exercises, so we’ll create a second total-body workout in which we use dumbbell Bulgarian split squats to target our quads, with step-ups as a hip-dominant counterpart. For upper-body exercises, we’ll stick to the ones that use the most muscle and avoid single-joint exercises.
The big four here will be chin-ups, dips (or dumbbell bench presses), dumbbell rows, and barbell push presses. We’ll do two of them in each of our total-body workouts.
Program A 1) Snatch-grip deadlift 2) Dumbbell Bulgarian split squat 3a) Dip 3b) Dumbbell row
Program B 1) Front squat 2) Step-up 3a) Barbell push press 3b) Close-grip chin-up Here’s how we’ll alternate programs A and B:
Week one: Mon: Program A Wed: Program B Fri: Program A Week two: Mon: Program B Wed: Program A Fri: Program B
Sets and reps for A and B work like this: Mon: 4 sets of 4 reps of each exercise. Rest 90 to 120 seconds between sets. Wed: 3 sets of 8 reps of each exercise. Rest 75 to 90 seconds between sets. Fri: 2 to 3 sets of 12 reps of each exercise. Rest 60 to 75 seconds between sets.
Select a load that’s appropriate for each exercise, given the rep range. You want to stop one or two reps short of failure on each set. Try this system as written for up to six weeks. You’ll do each program nine times, but only three times at each rep range. Final Thoughts Is this the perfect program? Absolutely not — the perfect program doesn’t exist. It’s just one way to hack out the unessential, trivial, and redundant exercises from your program, replacing them with the most effective exercises, and employing them in the most time-efficient way I know. Does it work? Let me put it this way: I wouldn’t still be in business if it didn’t.
Get Strong! Stay Strong!
Alternative Methods of Progression
by Alwyn Cosgrove
Are you on exercise autopilot? After every set do you add a 10-pounder to each side of the bar before you can say, “Please spot me, Jamie Eason?” Then it’s time to consider some new ways to step up your workout. Alwyn Cosgrove has got some great ideas about the subject.
The Path To Progress
Most people use a single variable to progress in their weight training — load lifted. There’s nothing wrong with that, but eventually you reach a ceiling when you simply can’t add more weight to an exercise.
In a typical training program, we have exercise order, exercise selection, sets, reps, tempo, rest period and load. Here’s a small sample workout below. Let’s go over three progression methods and see how each changes the workout.
1A) Squat — 3 sets of 6 reps (3×6) with 90 seconds rest, using 200 pounds
1B) Dumbbell bench press — 3×6 with 90 seconds rest, using 50 pounds
Workout Volume (sets x reps x weight): Squat 3600 pounds. Dumbbell bench press 1800 pounds. Total 5400 pounds.
Assuming each set takes a minute, the workout is done in 15 minutes.
Most people would just increase the load each week. But instead, we could add an additional rep next workout. Or add an additional set. Or maybe we cut the rest period down, and with the extra time we can add more exercises or even back-off sets.
Method #1: Add Reps
Add one rep to each set of each exercise.
1A) Squat — 3×7 with 90 seconds rest, using 200 pounds
1B) Dumbbell bench press — 3×7 with 90 seconds rest, using 50 pounds
Workout Volume: Squat 4200 pounds. Dumbbell bench press 2100 pounds. Total 6300 pounds.
You can always get one more rep.
Method #2: Add Sets
Add one set to each exercise.
1A) Squat — 4×6 with 90 seconds rest, using 200 pounds
1B) Dumbbell bench press — 4×6 with 90 seconds rest, using 50 pounds
Workout Volume: Squat 4800 pounds. Dumbbell bench press 2400 pounds. Total 7200 pounds.
Do a little more work than the next guy.
Method #3: Reduce Rest Periods
Decrease the rest between each set.
1A) Squat — 3×6 with 75 seconds rest, using 200 pounds
1B) Dumbbell bench press — 3×6 with 75 seconds rest, using 50 pounds
Workout Volume: Squat 3600 pounds. Dumbbell bench press 1800 pounds. Total 5400 pounds.
Assuming each set takes a minute, the workout is now done in 13.5 minutes.
Workout’s done already? Whatcha gonna do with that free time?
Let’s Put It All Together
Week one: Workout as described. 3×6 with 90 seconds rest.
Week two: Increase the reps on each set by one. 3×7 with 90 seconds rest.
Week three: Maintain the reps, add one set per exercise. 4×7 with 90 seconds rest.
Week four: Reduce each rest period by 15 seconds per set. 4×7 with 75 seconds rest.
This will take us from week one’s total volume of 5400 pounds in 15 minutes to a total volume of 8400 pounds in 18 minutes, with an increase in workout density from doing those two extra sets. That’s 55% more work in only three more minutes, or over 100 pounds of additional work per minute training.
Obviously this is a huge increase in the total work done without having to add any weight to the bar. So even if you’re in a situation where your home gym doesn’t have any extra weight, you can still make great progress. I haven’t even changed exercise order, exercise selection, rep tempo or load, yet I still managed to create a more challenging workout.
This would not be a more challenging workout.
Hopefully you see the benefits of implementing different methods of progression rather than just increasing load all the time. The key to progress is overload and there are various ways of getting there. Just make sure you’re moving forward every step of the way.
Get Strong! Stay Strong!
By Alwyn Cosgrove
As a trainer, I’ve witnessed some amazing things in the gym, most of which involved 300-pound powerlifters moving weight equal to that of a small SUV. (There was also the adult-film star I trained who had an orgasm every time she did hanging leg raises, but that’s another story.)
The most impressive feat I’ve ever seen, though, came courtesy of a 160-pound guy named Steve Cotter. Steve’s a martial artist, and one day he did a dozen single-leg squats while holding an 88-pound kettlebell in each hand. If that doesn’t sound particularly jaw-dropping, try doing one – without any weights.
And there lies an important point: Despite the plethora of gym equipment available, some of the greatest exercises remain the ones you can do with just your body weight — for instance, the single-arm pullup and the handstand pushup. Or the lower-body version, the best leg workout to build leg strength and improve athletic performance: the full-range, rock-bottom, single-leg squat.
So, while you may not be the strongest guy in the gym, you can still turn heads by banging out a set of single-leg squats. And the attention is just a side benefit. Master this one leg workout and you’ll see gains in strength, speed, and balance. You’ll squat more weight, jump higher, and discover athletic ability you never had before. The best part: You can do it all without setting foot in a gym.
Test your best
To determine your leg workout training plan, do as many single-leg squats as you can. If you aren’t able to perform at least two repetitions flawlessly, note the spot during your descent at which you can’t control your speed of movement. This is your “breaking point” — and you’ll need to know it to complete the routine. Once you’ve finished the test, proceed to the leg workout here that most closely matches your maximum effort.
Stand on a bench or box that’s about knee height. Hold your arms in front of you and flex your right ankle so your toes are higher than your heel. Keeping your torso as upright as possible, bend your left knee and slowly lower your body until your right heel lightly touches the floor. Pause for 1 second, then push yourself up. That’s one repetition.
YOUR BEST EFFORT: 0 TO 1 REPS
THE PROBLEM: Individually, your legs aren’t strong enough to support your body weight through the entire range of motion.
THE FIX: A two-pronged attack using “negatives” and “partials,” both of which help you challenge your weak spots and lower your breaking point. Do this workout once every 4 days until you can perform at least two single-leg squats with perfect form.
Stand on your left leg, facing away from a bench. Holding your arms and your right leg in the air in front of you, slowly lower your body until your butt is slightly higher than your breaking point. (Ideally, this should take 5 to 7 seconds.) Sit, then stand up using both legs. That’s one repetition. Do six reps with your left leg, then six more with your right. Complete a set. Rest for 2 to 3 minutes and move on to step 2.
Stand on a bench holding a pair of 5-pound dumbbells. As you perform a single-leg squat, simultaneously lift the dumbbells in front of you to shoulder height. (This helps counterbalance your body, making the movement easier.) Again, lower your body until you’re just above your breaking point, then pause for 2 seconds before pushing yourself back up. Do 10 repetitions with each leg, pausing for 10 seconds instead of 2 on the last rep with each.
YOUR BEST EFFORT: 2 TO 5 REPS
THE PROBLEM: Because you can’t adjust the weight you’re using, as you can with free weights, your muscles give out quickly — and that limits the total number of repetitions you can perform, a key factor in increasing strength.
THE FIX: A technique called escalating density training, or EDT. Popularized by Charles Staley, author of Muscle Logic, this method helps you slow the onset of fatigue, so you can complete more total repetitions than usual. Instead of doing as many reps as you can in each set, you’ll do more sets of fewer repetitions. In addition, you’ll further increase the challenge to your legs by adding two other single-leg exercises: the Bulgarian split squat and the high stepup.
Determine your starting point
Take the number of single-leg squats you can complete with perfect form and divide it by two. That’s how many repetitions you’ll do each set. (If your best effort is three, round down to one.) Perform the 4-week EDT routine below once every 4 days, doing the number of sets indicated and resting after each for the prescribed amount of time.
BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT
Stand with a bench about 2 feet behind you and place the instep of your right foot on the bench. Keeping your torso upright, lower your body until your left thigh is parallel to the floor. Your left lower leg should remain perpendicular to the floor. Pause, then push yourself back to the starting position as quickly as you can. Do 12 to 15 repetitions, then repeat, this time with your left foot resting on the bench and your right foot in front. After you’ve worked both legs, immediately (without resting) complete step 3.
Stand facing a bench or step that’s about knee height. Lift your left foot and place it firmly on the bench, push down with your left heel, and push your body upward until your left leg is straight and your right foot hangs off the bench. Lower yourself back down. That’s one rep. Do 12 to 15, then do the same number of reps with your right leg.
YOUR BEST EFFORT: 6 TO 9 REPS
THE PROBLEM: You have poor endurance.
THE FIX: Training your muscles to resist fatigue. Perform the following routine once every 4 days for 5 weeks.
Do as many single-leg squats as you can, then rest for 60 seconds
Repeat until you’ve completed twice the number of reps you achieved in your first set.
So, if you do seven reps in your first set, you’ll do as many sets as needed to complete 14 reps. For each subsequent workout, this will be your repetition goal.
Each workout, try to reach your repetition goal in fewer sets. For instance, if you need five sets in your first workout, aim for your goal in four sets in your next session. After 5 weeks, repeat the entire process. But in order to keep improving, do the exercise while holding dumbbells at your sides.
Get Strong! Stay Strong!
Great, but challenging workout. If your beginning modify the workout by decreasing the reps and progressively work up to the desired reps. This is sure to get you looking great and feeling great!
Get Strong! Stay Strong!