Posts Tagged ‘strength training’

 

 

 

 

TGIF!  Able to add lean protein into the mix which will add some variety and expand my food choice, although I think I,m going to stick w/ beans and just a little chix and fish sparingly.  Luckily I’m one that can eat the same thing over and over.

Firdays consist of a 6:30am workout.  Today I superset :

Hang Clean for 8 w/ Pull ups for 10  (3 sets)

1 arm barbell deadlift using thick gripper 5x each side w/ Inverted shoulder press on total gym for 8-10  (3 sets)

Seated DB curls using grippers w/ Dips w/ knee tucks up/over bar x 12 (3 sets)

Finished w/ a few random ab exercises for good measure and to tone up the midsection that is lean from the purification!

As always followed workout w/ monster fruit smoothie w/ whey protein and cleanse powder.

I must say im pleasantly surprised at how good I feel and the energy I have despite NO caffeine!  Amazing.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

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If there’s one thing we guys like it is benching!  Unfortunately our shoulders suffer sometime or another.  Talk to any powerlifter or body builder and a majority will tell you of their shoulder problems.  Bench pressing is not kind to the shoulder.  In the lowered position, the shoulder joint capsule is stretched and the subacromial space is compromised setting us up for impingement, capsular instability, A/C joint and glenohumeral wear and tear and muscle and ligament strains.  One solution to protect the shoulder and resume benching after a shoulder injury, is to bench off the floor instead of the bench.  This prevents the elbows from dropping below the trunk saving the joint a whole lot of stress and strain.  And, you can actually bench more weight, which activates more fibers and ultimately leads to increased strength and size of the chest!  By benching from the floor you do not hit the “sticking point”, which is the weakest part of the chest press movement and the limiting factor to weight lifted.  Thereby protecting the shoulder and increasing your bench!  What guy is not going to be happy about that!  So, ladies please dont tell us guys we cant bench.  We have to! (it must be genetic), regardless of how skinny our legs are.  We love to bench!

Hopefully now you have a plan to protect the injured shoulder and begin the inured lifter back to benching and being happy.
Get Strong! Stay Strong!
Chris

An article from Lipids in Health and Disease 2010

Background

The weakening of the cardiovascular system associated with aging could be countered by increasing levels of physical activity and functional fitness. However, inconsistent findings have been found, and the variety of characteristics of exercise used in previous studies may partly explain that inconsistent results.

Objective

To investigate the training effect of sixteen weeks of moderate intensity, progressive aerobic and strength-based training on metabolic health of older women and men.

Methods

Sixty three sedentary individuals (mean (SD) age 76 (8) years) were randomly assigned to control (n = 31) or exercising (n = 32) groups. The training group was separated to aerobic (n = 18) or strength-based (n = 14). Training took place three times a week. Subjects agreed not to change their diet or lifestyle over the experimental period.

Results

Exercising group attained after treatment significant differences on body weight, waist circumference, body mass index, diastolic blood pressure, triglycerides, total cholesterol, HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol relationship, high sensitivity C-reactive protein, and 6-minute walk distance. The control group only had significant differences on waist circumference.

Conclusion

The training programs produced significant benefits on metabolic health indicators of sedentary older women and men.

More good evidence on why its soooo important to exercise!

Me, I prefer strength based exercise.

Life is a sport.  Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

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.

Hypertrophy Training

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!

Chris

 

An excerpt from Alwyn Cosgroves article: Releasing the Brakes

Imagine that a guy walks into my gym, and he’s looking to add 10 pounds of muscle — a simple and straightforward request. The first thing we do is go through a short checklist:

1. Is he lifting?

2. Is he eating enough, and eating enough protein?

3. Is he lifting often enough, heavy enough, and with good technique?

Obviously, if someone wants to gain size and he isn’t lifting weights, there’s no mystery about the first step. We get him on a training program, introduce him to the magic of progressive resistance, and watch him grow.Since nobody is confused about the need to lift in order to gain muscle, let’s move on to the next two points.  You’d be surprised how many people lift weights but don’t eat enough total calories to reach their goals. Same with protein intake: It seems obvious, but some people do need to be told to eat more. So once we figure out what he’s eating and when, fixing the problem is relatively straightforward.

“Heavy enough” and “often enough” are subjective, of course, but once we understand what he’s been doing, these are easy variables to manipulate. Technique? Well if you’ve been to any commercial gyms recently, you’ll see a lot of underdeveloped guys lifting with really bad form. If our guy’s form on the squat and deadlift leaves a lot to be desired, we might be able to add size just by teaching him to use the right muscles on basic lifts.  But what if the problem isn’t so easy to detect and fix? What if he’s doing everything we expect him to do with his training and nutrition, but he’s still not making the gains he wants to make, and that we’d expect him to make, given the effort he’s putting in?

Our next step is to release the brakes.  When Pushing Harder Doesn’t Help.  I got the “release the brakes” idea during a conversation with Dax Moy, a British trainer and gym owner. We were talking about “accelerating” client progress, and came to an interesting conclusion:  All of us in the fitness industry, trainers and trainees alike, have been brainwashed into thinking that the only way to improve results is to push harder. If you aren’t making gains, it’s because you aren’t training hard enough or often enough. Doesn’t matter if we’re talking about systemic gains in muscle size or body composition, or strength in particular lifts, or the size of individual muscles or muscle groups. The answer to every problem is to punch down harder on the accelerator.  But think of a car with the parking brake on. If you push harder on the gas pedal, you’ll only run out of fuel quicker, right? But if you take off the brake, the car will go farther and faster, and probably use less fuel in the process.

This leads to two important conclusions: First, removing the impediments to your progress will probably help more than adding another set of squats, bench presses, or sprints. Second, it’s pointless to increase load and volume while those impediments are in place.  So What’s Holding You Back?

A friend of mine went to see a chiropractor for a back problem. The problem: misaligned vertebrae in his lumbar spine. The culprit: heavy Romanian deadlifts.  My friend is strong as hell — he was using close to double his body weight in the lift. His glutes and hams could handle the load, but his lower back couldn’t. Since my friend’s goal is to get even stronger than he was before the injury, what’s his best strategy? Keep pushing, despite the fact his injured back has already shown it can’t handle bigger loads? Or design a program that releases the brakes by strengthening his weakest link?

We switched to a heavy emphasis on core training that allows direct loading of his lumbar area, along with heavy single-leg RDLs, which maintained the strength of his glutes and hams without the risk of a lower-back injury.  Core strength is often the underlying issue, whether we’re talking about something major like misaligned vertebrae or something that’s annoying but minor, like a lagging body part. The core muscles need to stabilize and protect the spine, particularly when the extremities are in motion. If those muscles aren’t strong or stable enough, the first clue could be a lack of size or strength somewhere else.

Quick experiment:

Stand up and hold a single dumbbell out to your right side, as you would in the finishing position of a lateral raise. What muscles are working? Obviously, it’s your right deltoid. If you’re a trainer or otherwise knowledgeable about exercise physiology, you can probably name a few other muscles in the shoulder girdle that come into play, but we can all agree that the prime mover here is the deltoid.  But think about how your torso stays upright with that dumbbell hanging out in space. Your center of gravity has been thrown off, so something besides your right deltoid must be working pretty hard to keep you from listing to the starboard side. In this case, it’s your left oblique. It’s working to stabilize your spine, allowing your right deltoid to lift that weight and hold it out there away from your body.

Now imagine that the oblique on your left side is weak, or recently injured. You wouldn’t be able to lift that dumbbell, since the muscles charged with protecting your spine aren’t prepared to do their job. Your body cares more about the health and safety of your spine than it does about the size of your shoulders.  Your best strategy, then, is to rehabilitate and strengthen your obliques, thus releasing the brake on your muscle development. Stomping on the accelerator by increasing the volume of your shoulder training wouldn’t do any good, and might make things considerably worse.

Let’s assign some completely hypothetical numbers to this example, and say your right deltoid can lift 30 pounds for 10 reps. To achieve overload and force growth, we have to train the deltoid to do one of two things: lift 31 pounds for 10 reps, or 30 pounds for 11 or more reps.  But let’s say your core muscles, either because of injury or disuse, can only handle 29 pounds for 10 reps.  A bodybuilder might say the solution is to find a way to overload the delts while bypassing the core. Maybe he’d use machines designed for that purpose, or wear a lifting belt for his lateral raises, or do something else that wouldn’t occur to me. Ultimately, the strategy is counterproductive; even if it works, it only exacerbates the imbalance, which makes the brakes work harder to slow your body down and keep your spine safe.

See more at alwyncosgrove.com

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

 

 

Shoulder-or-Deltoid

By Nick Nilsson – Staley Training Systems

If you’ve ever had a hard time developing your shoulders, this exercise is going to be a lifesaver for you! Personally, shoulders are one of my WORST bodyparts. It’s tough to keep them strong…tough to get them bigger…and tough to really feel them working when I’m actually doing shoulder exercises!

But the first time I used this technique, it absolutely blew my mind. As soon as I finished the set, my shoulders felt like they were inflating! The blood was came rushing in and I knew I was on to something special…that RARELY happens to me with ANY shoulder exercises.

So what makes THIS exercise so special? You’re going to reach muscular failure TWICE within the same set. AND you’re going to do it with NO REST in between the two phases of the exercise. BAM BAM…one part right into the next.

But here’s the twist…it’s not a typical drop set in which you reduce the weight to achieve this! You’re going to use the SAME weight for both phases of the exercise.

The REAL key lies in the range of motion of each part of the exercise…

You see, when you do a normal barbell shoulder press, as you push the barbell up, you go through what is called a strength curve. In basic terms, it means at the bottom of the movement you are fairly strong. But as you press further (normally about 3 to 5 inches up in the movement) you hit a point where the leverage in your shoulders changes. The exercise gets a lot tougher.

This is called a sticking point – it’s basically the weakest point in the exercise. Another example of a sticking point is commonly seen in the bench press. If you were doing a bench press using a heavy weight, lowered the weight to your chest then started to press but couldn’t get past a certain point (a few inches above your chest), THAT is also a sticking point.

Bottom line, you can only lift as much weight as you can move through that WEAKEST point in the range of motion of an exercise. But OUTSIDE that sticking point, your muscles are stronger and can lift more weight!

The question becomes, how do we still do full range-of-motion lifting while putting greater tension on the muscles to maximize their strength in OTHER phases of the movement?

We’re going to break the movement into two distinct phases. On the first phase, you’re going to do FULL reps of the shoulder press. When you can’t do any more full reps, you’re going to do partial reps in ONLY the top, stronger half of the range of motion.

It’s a powerful technique and it’ll get your shoulders burning like crazy!

The key to geting the most out of this exercise is the setup…

How to Do It:

First, you’ll be doing this exercise in the power rack. While there IS a way to do it without being the rack (and it is still effective that way), the rack is going to allow you to really push your shoulders to the maximum.

Set the safety rails in the rack to just below shoulder height. You’re going to be doing a standing military barbell press for your shoulders, bringing to the front, of course! I NEVER recommend doing any behind-the-head shoulder pressing – it can cause shoulder damage.

For this exercise, start with a weight you can get at least 8 to 10 reps for. I would suggest doing 3 or 4 sets of this exercise in total for your shoulder workout.

Grip the bar with your pinkies or fourth fingers on the smooth rings of the Olympic bar. You need to take a narrower grip on the bar than with the bench press. The rails should be set so you have to bend your knees a bit to get under the bar. The bar should be held across your extreme upper chest.  Next, begin the pressing movement. Press the barbell up in front of your face then lockout at the top. When you do a military press, your knees should be slightly bent and abs tight to keep stress off the lower back.

 

two-phase-shoulder-press1 two-phase-shoulder-press2

 

Because of the path of the bar, you will be leaning back a little bit – it has to go in front of your face. But as soon as the bar clears your head, shift your torso forward so that the bar is DIRECTLY over your head. It almost resembles a bobbing-forward motion. This is a key point that a lot of people miss with the shoulder press. If you keep leaning back, it keep tension on the front delts and takes it off the rear delts.Lower the weight slowly back to your chest then press again. Keep going until you can’t get the weight past the sticking point. Try and get it past the sticking point, though! We want to be sure you’re right at the limit.

When you’re done, set the bar back on the safety rails. And here’s the trick that’s going to set your shoulders on fire…keeping your hands locked onto the bar, drop down onto your knees under the bar. Now keep pressing in the partial top range of motion of the press!

 

two-phase-shoulder-press5

Because the bar is now ABOVE the sticking point, your shoulders have better leverage and can continue with the exercise! Do as many reps as you can until you can’t even budge the bar. I prefer to set the weight down on the rails in between reps here but you can keep a continuous movement, if you want. Do it whichever way feels best to you.

By exploiting the top range of motion after fatiguing the muscles in the full range of motion, you’re going to finally be working the shoulders with FULL resistance in the whole range of motion.

When you’re done, stand up. Your shoulders will be swelling up any second now!

As I mentioned previously, there IS a way to perform this technique without a power rack.

First, perform the barbell shoulder press, just like above. Now, instead of doing reps until you can’t get past the sticking point, you’re going to have to stop a rep or two SHORT of that point of failure.

Basically, you’re going to have to complete that last rep to the TOP. When you’re at the top, now lower the bar only halfway down (just above where your sticking point normally is) then press it back up to the top.

Keep doing reps in this shortened range of motion until you can’t hold the bar up anymore!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

 

 

By Charles Staley

There’s a very eloquent formula for determining success in any sporting endeavor:

Productivity = Potential — Losses Due to Faulty Process

As an athlete, there’s nothing you can do about your genetic inheritance, but there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your training methods. Particularly, it’s important to identify and correct the most significant error you’re making, because resolving this error has the most potential to improve your athletic performance.

Golfers are a strength coach’s dream, because few of them utilize resistance training. In such cases, a carefully supervised 8-10 week strength training program frequently results in well over a 100 percent strength increase. This increase creates a strength “reserve,” which quickly improves both power, accuracy, and endurance.

During a golf swing, it takes a certain amount of muscular strength to overcome the external resistance of the golf club (this strength is provided primarily by the legs, hips, and rotator muscles of the torso). The stronger you are, the more strength that is left in reserve, and the more you’ll be able to accelerate the club, swing after swing, without exhausting yourself over 18 holes.

For novice golfers, skill practice sessions are sufficient for developing sportspecific strength. But as technical ability improves, the need for supplementary strength training increases accordingly. One interesting phenomenon in golf is that younger players ignore the conditioning element of their preparation, but it often takes years, even decades to develop technical proficiency. So, a golfer may be well over 40 years old by the time he or she has developed a high level of technical expertise, but by this time, physical conditioning has become an issue.


Resistance Training Technology on a Scale of “Good, Better, Best”

While health clubs and equipment manufacturers will tell you otherwise, resistance training machines are not the “best” form of strength training technology, especially for golfers. While they definitely have their place, machines tend to restrict movement to a single plane, which means that the strength developed will not transfer well to an activity like golf, which is multiplanar. Machines also use “variable resistance” technology, so that the machine supposedly matches the muscle’s force curve. But most credible research casts doubts on the effectiveness of this concept. Finally, machines normally restrict the movement to a single joint for the purpose of “isolating” the muscle being worked, but golf is not an activity which requires isolated movements! The object of strength training for golf is to train movement, not muscles.

While “constant resistance” devices such as barbells and dumbbells are superior to machines, they nonetheless have their disadvantages as well. Let’s use the bench press as an example: you lower the bar to your chest, and then ram it to arms length. You assume you’re moving explosively, but as your arms reach extension, the antagonists (latissimus, biceps, rhomboids, and medial trapezious) begin to contract in an effort to decelerate the bar before it leaves your hands. It’s simply a protective mechanism.

Contrast this with your objective, which is to accelerate the bar, and you begin to see the problem. There are ways to address this inherent disadvantage of constant and variable resistance training, however.


Strengthening the Stabilizers

Stabilizers are muscles which anchor or immobilize one part of the body, allowing another part (usually the limbs) to exert force. The most significant stabilizers are those of the trunk— the abdominals and trunk extensors. If the motor cortex detects that it can’t stabilize the force provided by the prime movers, it simply won’t allow the prime movers to contract with full force. Stabilizers are best strengthened through exercises conducted in an unstable environment, such as on a “physio-ball” (those heavy-duty “beach balls” you might have noticed in your local health club), or movements performed with medicine balls.

If you’ve never seriously considered adopting a serious strength training program to improve your golf game, perhaps it’s time to reconsider. Don’t let stereotypical notions of strength training prevent you from taking advantage of this important conditioning element!


SIDEBAR: Strength Training Suggestions for Golfers

1) Seek professional guidance from a sports conditioning professional. Certified personal trainers who have significant experience working with athletes may also be a good option.

2) Initially, expect a slight decline in your game as your body begins to adapt to the additional training loads. After a handful of weeks, your game should climb back up to, and surpass previous levels. For this reason, don’t start a strength training program for the first time if you have important tournaments pending.

3) Expect to spend between 1 and 3 hours a week on your strength training program. The emphasis should be on leg and abdominal musculature.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

This is a great little exercise routine (inspired by Gary Gray)that involves multiple planes of motion, multi level lifts and doesnt take a lot of time.  So, if someone tells me they dont have time to exercise, I say Bull@#$&!  I have an answer!  The Matrix.  It only takes about a minute and a half!  And if they still say they dont have time, I tell them to just do it faster!  Or I know they really dont want to exercise.

THE MATRIX       Alternate reps for 6 for each movement in each plane.  Move as quickly as you can with full range, good form and control. Try doing multiple sets with 1-3 min rest between.

Shoulder to Overhead Series

DSCF0029        DSCF0030       DSCF0031

Waist to Shoulder Series

DSCF0032     DSCF0033     DSCF0034

Lunge and Reach Series –  Chest to Knee or Floor (if able)  Do sagittal then frontal then rotation   

 Start / Return Pos.    DSCF0036   DSCF0037  DSCF0038

Lunge and Reach Series 2 – Chest to Knee/Floor and Return to Overhead Position

Do sagittal then frontal then rotation

DSCF0035   DSCF0036    DSCF0037  DSCF0038  DSCF0039

Some variations are to use 2 diff size weights and/or do with one or both eyes closed

Have fun and enjoy!!!!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

Heavy squats are numero uno for helping your entire body gain muscle at warp speed as well as a great way to skyrocket your fat loss around the clock and speed up your metabolism.

Heavy leg work causes a surge in the release of your growth hormones like no other exercise can. The heavy weights sitting on your back tax the entire body intensely. Your legs and entire back side support the load unlike any other exercise.

You can squat with high reps or low reps, heavy weight or light weight. You can squat with various tools in various positions. A barbell or a heavy sandbag on your back is awesome for building muscle. 
 

Muscle being added to your quads, hips, glutes, hamstrings, lats and lower back cover a large area of your body. The more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism revs, even when you are NOT training, helping you burn more calories around the clock compared to a weak, skinny individual (or fat and weak individual).

I have performed heavy barbell squats for heavy singles or up to 5 reps, I have also performed high rep back squats up to 50 reps! Talk about brutal!

Try throwing a sandbag on your back, walk 10 yards and squat 2 reps, repeat until you can no longer walk or until you squatted 20 reps.

This workout is not for sissies, only the strong and mentally tough will survive.

Try squats for heavy sets of 3, or several sets of 10, or 1 gut busting set of 20 – 30 reps. The high rep squats will leave you exhausted and wiped out on the floor for a good 10 minutes afterwards. 

The question is, how badly do you want to pack on rugged muscle and transform yourself into a ripped and rugged beast?

Great Info from Zach Even – esh

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris

roguewomensworkout2-th

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. [1] 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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.

Great Stuff!

Get Strong! Stay Strong!

Chris