Category Archives: Strength

Muscle Snatch for Strength and Power


09/23/13

Muscle-snatch-for-strength-and-power

Here’s what you need to know…

• The muscle snatch is a variation of the snatch movement that’s an equalizer for strong guys as it rewards strength over technique.
• It’s done much the same way as a snatch, but at exactly the point at which an Olympic lifter would begin moving under the bar, you literally muscle the bar overhead in a pressing movement.
• Aside from being a strength and power hybrid, the muscle snatch is also a technique fixer and an excellent beginner movement for those interested in Olympic lifting.

You may have a problem with Olympic lifts, and I think I know what it is. It’s not that you don’t like them, but you’re tired of seeing normal-sized guys that can’t squat or press your warm-up weights using snatch poundages that are fairly mind-blowing.
I have a solution for you. It’s called the muscle snatch.
The muscle snatch is an equalizer for the strong guy: it rewards strength over technique. If you can pick up a bar and rip on it, you can do the muscle snatch. No weekend seminars needed, no coaches like me necessary. Just grip it and rip it.


What is the Muscle Snatch?

SnatchThe muscle snatch is a variation of the snatch movement. The overarching goals of each movement are nearly identical – move the weight from the starting position (floor, hang, or blocks) to overhead in one “continuous” movement.
Like the traditional snatch, the muscle snatch contains a first pull (initiation of the movement from the floor or low-hang position) and a second pull (the rapid acceleration of the bar at the mid-thigh position). But unlike the snatch, the muscle snatch contains no third pull or movement under the bar.
At exactly the point at which an Olympic lifter would begin moving under the bar, you literally muscle the bar overhead in a slightly shortened pressing movement.


How Do You Do It?

Setting up for the muscle snatch is very similar to the normal snatch or clean movement. The only difference might be in the width of your stance. Since there’ll be no re-setting of the feet later in the movement, you’ll need to assume a stance from which you’ll be comfortable doing overhead pressing.
Make sure to keep the bar close when it passes the knees and make sure you feel it contact your thighs the entire way through the second pull. Take full advantage of the momentum your hips create, and then get ready to press the bar out at the top.
The bar should continue its path upward at all points. This means no re-bend of the knees or hips to receive the bar and no stopping during the press to finish the lift. The elbows never descend in the muscle snatch before pressing.
Athletes can use either a clean (close) or snatch (wide) grip to do the movement. Choice of grip is of course dependent upon whether you’re seeking improvement in the clean or the snatch movement. In either case, the movement should stop above the head.
Here’s a video of me banging out 3 reps at 176 pounds in the muscle snatch:
I’m definitely more of a technique guy than a strength guy, so my muscle snatch isn’t that impressive, but you get the idea.


Why is it Worth Your Time?

Your training is already overloaded with the next, newest, and coolest movements, so why should you make time for the muscle snatch?

1. It’s the perfect strength and power hybrid movement.

You’re going to be required to move the bar quickly from the start position to overhead in one movement, meaning you’ll be developing some serious type II muscle fibers. When the speed of the bar dies though, it’s all about strength and only strong athletes can power through the press at the top.

2. It’s an excellent beginner movement.

If you’re not an experienced Olympic lifter, the snatch can get pretty frustrating. Small mistakes get magnified over the long distance of the pull and missed lifts can happen frequently. The muscle snatch allows for more error as long as you can power through the top.

3. It’s a technique fixer.

A major flaw for most people working with the full snatch or power snatch is an incomplete hip extension at the top of the second pull. In an effort to move back under the bar, some folks leave the bar short at the top. The muscle snatch fixes that problem just by the nature of the movement. You can feel the bar moving up your thighs and it just keeps going up when you hit the pocket position.


Using the Muscle Snatch

Muscle SnatchYou can add the muscle snatch into your regular program if you want to start trying out the Olympic movements, or you can just do it solely because you want to include some explosive lifting in your training. It can also be used as a technique fix when the regular snatch just isn’t going well.
Below is a muscle snatch (Olympic lift intro) program you can use to build some real strength and power. If you don’t want to use the program, you can nevertheless take note of the muscle snatch set/rep schemes and merely incorporate them into your regular program.

Week 1, Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps
A Muscle Snatch 3 5
Heaviest weight you can do for all 3 sets.
B Back Squat 3 5
80% of 1RM.
C Overhead Press 3 6
Done at same weight as muscle snatch.

Week 1, Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps
A Muscle Snatch + Overhead Squat 3 3+3
Perform a muscle snatch then, without dropping the bar, perform an overhead squat once you’re in the lockout position. That’s one rep.
B Snatch Grip Deadlift 3 4
100% of current 1 rep snatch max.
C Bent over Barbell Row 3 6-8

Week 1, Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps
A Power Clean + Front Squat 3 3+3
Perform a power clean, then without dropping the bar, perform a front squat. That’s one rep.
B Back Squat 3 6
80% of 1RM.
C Push Press 3 5
Straight sets.

Week 2, Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps
A Muscle Snatch 3 5
Heavier than last week.
B Back Squat 4 4
85% of 1RM.
C Overhead Press 3 6
Done at same weight as muscle snatch.

Week 2, Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps
A Muscle Snatch + Overhead Squat 4 2+2
Perform a muscle snatch then, without dropping the bar, perform an overhead squat once you’re in the lockout position. That’s one rep.
B Snatch Grip Deadlift 4 4
105% of current 1 rep snatch max.
C Bent over Barbell Row 3 6-8

Week 2, Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps
A Power Clean + Front Squat 4 2+2
Perform a power clean, then without dropping the bar, perform a front squat. That’s one rep.
B Back Squat 3 5
85% of 1RM.
C Neutral Grip Push Press 3 5
Straight sets.

Week 3, Day 1

Exercise Sets Reps
A Muscle Snatch + Overhead Squat 4 2+2
Heavier than last week. Perform a muscle snatch then, without dropping the bar, perform an overhead squat once you’re in the lockout position. That’s one rep.
B Back Squat 4 3
90% of 1RM.
C Overhead Press 3 5
Done at same weight as muscle snatch.

Week 3, Day 2

Exercise Sets Reps
A Power Clean + Front Squat 4 2+2
Perform a power clean, then without dropping the bar, perform a front squat. That’s one rep.
B Snatch Grip Deadlift 4 4
110% of current 1 rep snatch max.
C Bent over Barbell Row 3 6-8

Week 3, Day 3

Exercise Sets Reps
A Muscle Snatch 3RM
Work up to 3RM.
B Back Squat 3 4
90% of 1RM.
C Push Press 3 5
Straight sets.

The muscle snatch will develop total body power and strength for even the most experienced lifters. That’s why it’s a staple in my programs for both beginners and advanced athletes.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method for Size and Strength

By  On August 22, 2013 

There are so many different exercises and methodologies out there for gaining size and strength that it can be tough to understand what to do with it all. So, in this post I’m going to share with you the Performance U 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method, which is a simple to understand, easy-to use, plug-and-play template used in the Performance U training approach for designing fully-comprehensive, Hybrid Training workouts for increasing size and strength.
54321
In this post I’ve provided you with everything you need to know in order to immediately implement the Performance U 5-4-3-2-1 Workout method into your programs (if you wish to do so).
Below you’ll find:
– A break-down of each exercise category used the 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method.
– A list of our favorite exercise applications for each category.
– A sample 5-4-3-2-1 workout program for maximizing STRENGTH gains.
– A sample 5-4-3-2-1 workout program for maximizes SIZE gains.

The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method: 101

Each of the numbers “5,” “4,” “3,” “2,” “1″ represents a different category of exercises along with the amount of sets the exercise(s) in that category will be performed for. The numbers 5-4-3-2-1 also represent the order of which we perform the exercises in the workout.
Put simply, the exercises that we perform the largest number of sets of (5,4) are the most intense and most complex exercises. Therefore, they’re prioritized early in the workout. These are also the exercises that are done for the least amount of reps. And, as the less intense and less complex exercises for less sets (3,2,1) are placed latter in the workout. These exercises are done for a larger amount of reps since the weight load used is less.
Here’s a break-down of the set and rep range used in each category along with some of our favorite exercises to plug-into each:

FIVE – 5 sets of 3-6 reps using a compound lift or an explosive exercise w/ 2-3min rest between sets.

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Our top strength exercises to use in this category are: 
– Barbell Squats (Front Squats or Back Squats)
– Trap Bar Deadlifts
– Weighted Pull Ups or chin Ups
Our top explosive exercises to use in this category are: 
– Sprints (20-40yds) or Hill Sprints (6-10 second bursts)
– Long Jumps
– Vertical Jumps
– Medicine Ball Rotary Throws (Any of the three versions featured here)
Personal Trainer Notes: The cue when performing the strength exercises (above) is to “explode into the weight” on each rep. However, although the intention is to lift the weight (concentrically) as fast possible; since the loads used are heavy (relative the individuals strength level), the concentric aspect of these movements will not (visually) appear fast. 

FOUR – 4 sets of 6-8 reps using a compound exercise w/ 90sec – 2min rest between sets.

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Our top exercises to use in this category are: 
– Romanian Deadlifts (RDLs)
– One Arm Dumbbell Rows (Free Standing or on Bench), or Barbell Bent-Over Rows
– Rope Climb or Peg-Board Climbs 
Personal Trainer Notes: The cue on these exercises is (also) to lift the weight (concentrically) as fast possible. The eccentric portion should be slower demonstrating deliberate control.

THREE – 3 sets of 8-12 reps using a compound exercise, an isolation exercise, or machine exercise w/ 60-90sec between sets.

three-amigos
Our top exercises to use in this category are:
– Lunges (Reverse, Walking, Anterior LeaningLateral w/ Cross Reach or from Deficit)
– Dumbbell or Barbell Presses (Flat, Incline, or Overhead)
– 1-Arm Compound Rows or 1-Arm Cable Rows or 1-Arm Dumbbell Rows (Off Bench or Free-Stranding)
– Hammer Strength High Row Machine
– Barbell Good Mornings, One-Leg RDLs (Barbell or Low Cable) or 45 Degree Hip-Extensions
– Barbell Back Squats
– Single or Double-Leg Hip Thrusts (Any version shown here)
– Cable Chops Low to High

TWO – 2 sets of 12-20 reps using an isolation exercise or machine based exercise w/ 60-90sec between sets.

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Our top exercises to use in this category are:
– Rear-Delt Flys (Machine or Dumbbell) or Band Pull Aparts
– Cable or Dumbbell Chest Flys
– Biceps Curls (any kind)
– Triceps Extensions (any kind)
– Plank Dumbbell Rows (aka. Renegade Rows)
– Stability Ball Hamstring Curls
– Stability Ball Push Ups or Push Up Variations
– Shrugs
– Calf Raises
– Shoulder Raises
– Pull Overs or Straight Arm Pull Downs

ONE – Metabolic finisher or Fitness Challenge.

Count-Sesame-Street
For the 1-set Finisher (aka. The Happy Ending) we might use:
-A timed set of basics exercises performed for high reps (x50-100) for time, like: push-ups, bodyweight squats, Band pull aparts, etc.
– A few sets of a Complex:  Barbell complex, Dumbbell Complex, Kettlebell Complex, Bodyweight complex or Band Complex.
– A few sets of a Hybrid-Locomotion Complex.

Adjusting the 54321 to YOUR Goal!

Although the 5-4-3-2-1 method is a Hybrid Workout template designed to improve both strength and size (regardless of how you spin it), it can easily be adjusted to target your efforts to emphasize size gains or strength gains.
If your goal is primarily to gain STRENGTH simply perform multiple exercises in each: 5 set and 4 set category. And, one exercise in the other 3,2 and 1 set category. Doing this spends more of your training time on the set and rep ranges that help you improve motor unit recruitment and improve force production most effectively.
If your goal is primarily to gain SIZE simply perform one exercise in the 5 set category and do multiple exercises in the 4,3 and 2 set range. Doing this puts more of your training time on the set and rep ranges that are more optimal for creating a stimulus for muscle growth.

Sample 5-4-3-2-1 Workouts

Each of the two sample programs below is divided into three workouts: A,B and C. You can use these programs as either a 3, 4 or 5-day training split depending on your time and preference. Once you finish workout C, just repeat workout A and so on…
Note: Make sure to combine these program with a good nutritional plan that’s geared toward gaining muscle (i.e. doesn’t put you in a caloric deficit).

Split for STRENGTH Gains

Day A – Upper-body PUSH
1. Bench Press 5 x 3-6
2. Barbell Push Press 5 x 3-6
4a. Skull Crusher 3x 8-12
4b. Front Delt Raise 2x 15
5. Push-ups (any variation you preffer) 1 x60-80 (for time)
Day B – Upper-body PULL
1. Chin Ups 5x 3-6
2. 1 Arm Dumbbell Row 5x 5-6
3. T-Bar Row 4x 6-8
4a. Gittleson Shrugs 3x 8-12
4b. Biceps Curls (any kind) 2x 15
5. Band Pull Aparts 1x 80-100 (for time)
Day C – Lower-body
1. Trap Bar Deadlift 5 x 3-6
2. Squat Jumps or LongJumps 5 x 4-6
3. Bulgarian Split Squats 4x 6-8
4. Leg Curls 3x 8-12
5. Calf Raise 2x 15
6. Bodyweight Walking Lunge x60-80 (30-40 per leg) (for time)

Split for SIZE Gains

Day A – Chest, Shoulders, Triceps
1. Wide-Grip Bench press 5 x 3-6
2. Dumbbell Bench press 4 x 6-8
3. Incline Dumbbell press 4x 6-8
5. Skull Crusher 2x 15
6. Push ups (any variation you preffer) 1 x80-100 (for time)
Day B – Back, Traps, Biceps
1. Chin Ups 5 x 3-6
2. Wide Grip Lat Pull Down 4 x 6-8
3. Barbell Bent Over Row (under-hand grip) 4x 6-8
4. Seated Row (wide grip) 3x 8-12
5a. Gittleson Shrugs 3x 8-12
5b. Biceps Curls (any kind) 2x 15
6. Band Pull a parts x80-100 (for time)
Day C – Legs, Glutes, Calfs
1. Trap Bar Deadlift 5 x 3-6
2. Front Squats 4 x 6-8
3a. Leg extensions 3x 8-12
3b. Leg Curl 3x 8-12
4a. Calf Raise 2x 15
4b. Pike Roll Outs 2x 15
5. Bodyweight Walking Lunge 1x 60-80 (30-40 per leg) (for time)

Final Thoughts on the 5-4-3-2-1 Workout Method

As you can clearly see by the two workout splits above:  there’s more similarities than differences between the exercises used in strength program and the Size program.
Aside from some emphasis differences in set and reps used, the biggest difference between the Strength and Size workout is the way I’ve classified each training day.
On the 3-Day workout split emphasizing Size gains, you can see I’ve labeled the workouts by the muscles trained that day. This is a great way to ensure each major (and minor) muscle group is trained and allowed optimal recovery between workouts.
On the 3-Day workout split emphasizing Strength gains, I’ve classified each workout by themovement pattern emphasized that particular training day. Since strength is more about performance, this classification system ensures each of the three main movements is trained and allowed to recover.

6 Best Exercises for Strength

by Mike Robertson – 5/7/2013
What would you do if you could only pick 6 exercises to put into your strength-training program?
Here’s a better question: What if strength was only one component of your entire program?
If you compete in strength sports such as powerlifting or Olympic lifting, picking your exercises is easy. But if you’re an athlete, you have hundreds, if not thousands, of exercises to choose from.
How do you whittle it down and only focus on a few exercises, the ones that would be the most impactful to your overall strength and physique?


The Athletic Strength Conundrum

These are the exact questions I was asking myself a few months ago.
I’ve been lucky in recent years to work with a handful of professional and Olympic-caliber athletes. The problem is, in my mind, I’m a “weights” guy. In my estimation, everyone can benefit from getting stronger.
And I  feel that way, no matter how many books I read, conferences I attend, etc. But I also realize that for an athlete, there’s a lot more to athletic success than simply being strong in the weight room.
If I’m trying to get someone ready for a 90-minute soccer game, we’re doing a ton of conditioning in that last phase or two leading up to camp. I don’t have a ton of time to do 6, 8, or 10 lifts in one training session.
So what do I do? Forget about weight lifting? Lose all the strength that we’ve taken precious time to develop in the off-season?
Absolutely not.
What we have to do is focus on a handful of big-bang lifts that will not only improve performance on and off the field, but maintain our mobility, strength, and power as well.
As a result, I came up with a list of the following exercises. I call them “athletic strength” exercises, not because you can’t get strong off them, but because the powerlifter or hardcore meathead may not totally agree with them. I’m okay with that.
If you’re a powerlifter, squat, bench, and deadlift until the cows come home.
If you’re an Olympic lifter, snatch and clean and jerk repeatedly.
However, if you’re an athlete that wants to not only get strong but also develop and maintain other critical qualities such as power, speed, mobility, and general athleticism, these are your exercises.


#1 – The Power Clean

6 Best Exercises for StrengthWhile no one will confuse me with an Olympic lifting purist, I definitely respect the power of the Olympic lifts.
And I’m not even going to get into the whole “should you take the time to coach them?” debate – that’s been beaten to death already. Regardless of your stance, we can all agree that the Olympic lifts are fantastic for developing power and explosiveness.
Can you do this with a med ball throw? Or jumping exercise?
To a certain extent, sure. But these exercises belong more on the “speed-strength” side of the continuum.
The power clean is a great way for an athlete to improve or maintain explosiveness and power. If you’re comfortable coaching or training it, I highly recommend using it.


#2 – The Front Squat

6 Best Exercises for StrengthThe front squat is an amazing exercise for athletes and it provides unique benefits from its cousin, the back squat.
If you’re an athlete, you need strong quads. Quads are critical not only for improving your vertical jump, but your ability to decelerate, plant, and cut as well.
However, quads are just the starting point. The front squat is an amazing anterior core exercise. You know how you can get totally caved over and still manage to finish a back squat? Yeah, that ain’t happening with a front squat.
If your abs are weak, do a 2-3 month front squat cycle and you should walk away impressed with how much stronger and more stable your core and trunk are as a result.
Last but not least, the front squat is an amazing tool for maintaining your mobility. Front squatting ensures that you maintain ankle, knee, hip, and thoracic spine mobility, which is why it’s a mainstay in my programs.


#3 – The Trap Bar Deadlift

6 Best Exercises for StrengthWe all know that deadlifts are awesome. After all, the deadlift is my favorite lift, so there’s no way I’m going to downplay its importance.
For athletes, though, mobility could be a concern. Or in the same vein, they may not have adequate strength in the posterior chain to do conventional deadlifts safely and effectively.
The sumo deadlift doesn’t work either as it doesn’t get you into a very athletic position. This is why I’m a big fan of the trap bar deadlift.
When you use the high handles you can get someone into a very vertical tibia/inclined trunk position. This combo gives the trap bar deadlift the potential to be very posterior chain dominant.

Trust me, if you work with enough athletes, you know they often have the posterior chain strength of Gwenyth Paltrow. They need stronger backsides, period.
Also, if you’re working with an athlete who has the mobility of a stone golem, the trap bar deadlift is a great starting point. It allows you to load their hips effectively while addressing other mobility needs throughout the “corrective” part of their programming.


#4 – The Close-Grip Bench Press

6 Best Exercises for StrengthAs much as I love wide-grip bench pressing for powerlifting performance, I feel as though the close-grip bench press is a superior alternative for athletes.
Think of it this way: if your hands (or elbows) are out really far from your body and someone is coming to push you off your spot, you’re going to lose.
However, if you have your elbows and arms in tight to the body, you can maximize leverage, as well as effectively tying together the legs, trunk, and upper body.
The close-grip bench is also an ideal exercise for building upper body strength. I know the bench gets a bad rap, but there’s something to be said for being flat-out stronger than your competition.


#5 – Resisted Push-ups

As awesome as the close-grip bench press is for developing the upper body, it does have limitations. The biggest issue when benching is that even if your core and lower body are tight, they’re rarely the limiting factor in your performance.
While close-grip benching is great for developing upper body strength, it doesn’t necessarily tie that strength together by unifying the upper and lower body. Which is why we do heavy, resisted push-ups.
A well-executed push-up with the core stable and in neutral spinal alignment will absolutely crush your anterior core. And even though this isn’t a coaching article per se, try this little trick to get even more core development:
Set up in the top position of a push-up and before you start moving, think about exhaling hard. After you’ve exhaled, pull your head and neck back to get into a more “neutral neck” position.
It may sound easy, but getting into a more ideal position through the neck and core will definitely crank up the intensity. The other huge benefit you get from performing a push-up versus a bench press is scapular stability.
When you’re doing a bench press, the goal is to “pin” your shoulder blades back and down. The scapulae are stable, but it’s a very static kind of stability. On the other hand, a push-up is similar to actual sporting movements since you’re forced to actively control the position of the scapulae.
Instead of simply pinning them back and down behind you, you need to make sure they’re moving appropriately and in the right place at the right time.
Finally, the push-up is a closed-chain pressing variation, meaning it’s awesome for developing rotator cuff strength and stability.
Next time, instead of doing 3×15 shoulder external rotations with a Theratube to crush your rotator cuff, bang out 2-3 sets of high-quality push-ups.
You’ll get more out of the exercise, and look infinitely more awesome to boot.


#6 – Chin-ups

The last exercise on my list is the chin-up. Just like the previous exercises, chin-ups are an incredible “bang-for-your-buck” exercise.
In most sports (and strength training programs), there’s a ton of emphasis on “pushing.” All you have to do is observe the posture of someone who “presses” all the time, without balancing it out with upper back work, to see why this is an issue.
These athletes are a disaster waiting to happen. Chin-ups, however, will help balance out the equation.
Another awesome benefit of well-executed chin-ups is developing the lower trapezius muscle. The lower trap is not only a key shoulder stabilizer, but (along with the upper trap and serratus anterior) constitutes one-third of the upward rotation force couple.
The key with chin-ups is that you need to focus on getting your chest to the bar and actively depressing your scapulae down. Here’s a short video on how to maximize chin-up performance:
Bottom line, if you only have a limited amount of time to strength train, at least some of that needs to be geared towards strengthening the upper back.
The chin-up will give you a ton of benefits and should be a staple in your athletic strength program.


What? No Single-Leg Exercises?

I know someone is going to come on Live Spill raging because I didn’t include single-leg work in my programming. Look, I’m a big believer in single-leg work, but this article is called “Athletic Strength,” not “Athletic Stability.”
Single-leg work has a time and a place. If you have a stability limitation, then single-leg work may be ideal, but if you want to get seriously strong or powerful, train on two legs (or arms).


Summary

Whether your goal is to be a beast on the field or court, or to simply look like a beast in the gym, the exercises included in this article are tried and true.
Make them a focus of your upcoming training programs and I guarantee you’ll see results not only in your physique, but in your performance as well!

6 Interesting Things About Strength


The Contreras Files IV: 15 Practical TipsStrength is a seductive temptress and I have no shame in proclaiming my love for her. But like anything in life that gets your juices flowing, to truly understand strength you must consider both the stuff you like and the stuff you don’t like.
Here are 6 very interesting things about strength.

1. The Best Thing About Strength

The best thing about strength – in my opinion of course – is that anyone can improve from their starting level of strength. I’m not suggesting that everyone is capable of becoming a world record holder, but everyone can get better.
You might start out struggling to bench the bar and then a year later be using 150 pounds – not fantastic but still a lot better than where you started.
Being strong is an inherently relative concept. The good news (which I say with tongue planted firmly in cheek) is that as the general fitness level of the average person declines, it actually becomes easier to set oneself apart and become that much stronger than average.
Train several hours a week or more, train hard, incorporate the main lifts, follow progressive overload, stick with it for an extended period of time (measured in years, not months), and you’ll get significantly stronger than when you started, not to mention a hell of a lot stronger than a “normal” person. In addition, as the strength comes, so do all the health benefits that accompany it.

2. The Worst Thing About Strength

The worst thing about strength – in my opinion – is that strength is specific, not general. Most people think strength is a single, all-encompassing quality, i.e., a person is strong or not.
An example of this line of thinking would be the comic book character The Hulk. The Hulk is super strong, which means he can do anything that’s related to strength – pick up cars, throw tanks, cause earthquakes by smashing the ground, even fly because he can jump super high. Hell, his muscles are so strong that bullets simply bounce off him.
Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way, as there’s no single “strength quality.” If there were, then the world champion arm wrestler, powerlifter, weight lifter, shot putter, and the World’s Strongest Man would all be the same person. But it’s not, nor has ever been the same person. Fact is, nobody’s ever been on top in even two of those categories, except for the immortal Bill Kazmaier.
The reason for this all relates to the principle of . Muscles don’t function independently of the nervous system, and for every movement we need a motor pattern. In order to operate at very high levels, this motor pattern must be trained regularly. If it isn’t, an individual may not be able to use the strength they’ve developed in one context in another, unrelated one.
In the classic Supertraining, Siff states that strength should not be viewed as “the ability to produce force by the action of the muscles,” but instead that “strength is highly context dependent” and “can manifest itself into many forms.”
To be clear, I’m not saying that there’s never a relationship between strength in one activity and strength in another; what I am saying is that it’s more of a tenuous relationship than one might assume.
If two activities are very similar – for example, deadlifting and picking up the back end of truck – there’s likely considerable transfer, but bench pressing and punching through bricks might not be as related.
Strength is specific and not general, and therefore we can’t simply rank people on something as broad as “strength” and accurately predict how they’ll perform in all settings.

3. The Best Thing About Strength that Gets the Least Attention

Strength is easy to measure if you accept the common standards of testing it, such as seeing how much weight can be lifted with a barbell. This is an invaluable though often overlooked attribute – because strength can be easily measured, every set and rep gives the lifter precise, instant feedback.
Consistent practice with a focus on self-improvement is the key to mastery of any skill. Strength training brings that idea home like nothing else.
Imagine if an expert sat behind you as you typed up a paper, and after every paragraph gave you feedback about what was good and what was bad. Initially it might drive you crazy, but because she had expertise in the subject, the feedback would ultimately make you more confident in what you were writing about.
Nowhere else in life do we get such constant, clear feedback as at the gym, and this goes a long way towards building confidence and boosting self esteem. It’s very empowering to see yourself succeed at something challenging as a result of your hard work, and I believe that all those positives can be traced back to the fact that strength is easy to measure.

4. The Thing You Might Not Have Known About Strength

8 More Random Thoughts and Training TipsFor a single, all-out effort, assuming accuracy and injury are taken into consideration, it’s likely impossible to be too strong. However, for other activities, particularly where endurance is a component, one can be too strong for the activity.
A few years ago I was helping my brother move. He’d boxed up everything and packed it into a U-haul truck and drove to his new place, and then I unloaded everything for him.
Let’s assume we both did the same amount of work (i.e., we each moved the same number of boxes and the boxes weighed the same). My brother is moderately fit but not strong, certainly not by powerlifter standards – I would estimate he could deadlift 350 as his 1RM. To keep it simple, let’s say that I’m twice as strong as he is, at least in the deadlift.
So there I am, unloading the truck and moving 120 boxes into the house and I started getting tired. More specifically, it was my erectors that were getting tired. How could this be possible if I was twice as strong as him? How could he do the same amount of work without much problem?
Each muscle has a certain number of motor units (a motor nerve and their accompanying muscle fibers) in it. Each motor unit can generate some level of force. Let’s say for simplicity’s sake that we both had 100 motor units in our erectors. Keep in mind that one benefit of training is the trainee learns how to better contract, or turn on, the tougher-to-fire motor units (type IIB), which generate the most strength. Also remember that the boxes didn’t have weights labeled on them, and when moving objects of unknown weight one typically over-contracts to make sure their muscle force overcomes the resistance.
When my brother was loading up the boxes he may have contracted half or fewer of his motor units, and he was likely hitting mainly the slow twitch ones with just a few fast twitch thrown in. These motor units don’t generate much fatigue and these boxes weren’t super heavy – most were likely less than 50 pounds – so a huge level of strength wasn’t required to lift them.
I theorized that I’d be more likely to stimulate the bigger type II motor units, which generate more force but also produce more waste products when they contract. Each individual box likely felt a bit easier to me but rep after rep, my erectors were over-contracting, using too much force per motor unit to get the job done, which ultimately led to the feeling of fatigue.
It’s worth noting that training doesn’t increase the total number of motor units you have; instead it increases how much force each one can produce and how many motor units you can use.
To summarize, my brother might have been contracting 50 of his motor units, each one generating 2 pounds of force, and thus his total level of fatigue wasn’t great. I might have been contracting 65 motor units, each one generating 4 pounds of force, and thus I was working too hard for the task at hand.
So in essence, I believe one can be too strong for certain tasks, especially in relatively low resistance, endurance type activities.

5. The Thing You Kind of Know About Strength

Joint health is extremely important to strength. The body has sensors and proprioceptors throughout its framework to tell it what’s going on. Joint stability and joint integrity is a very important concept for the body. If your joint is in pain, the body will turn off (deactivate) parts of the agonist muscles that cross the joint and produce the movement.
The body does this because the lower levels of force represent a reduced chance of injury to the already fragile joint. This is why, in my opinion, it’s generally not advisable to train through joint pain. Even if you’re tough enough to do it, you’re using less of your muscle so you’ll get compromised results – this is ignoring the fact that the pain is a warning something is wrong and further work might really mess up the joint.
While many factors affect joint health, a big one is joint stability. This is a reason why lifting aids like a belt or a bench shirt have become popular – the belt adds to the stability of the joint by externally stabilizing it. This allows the muscles that cross the joint to contract more strongly (recruiting more motor units) and thus more weight is lifted or more force generated.
This is also why powerlifters who wear gear (bench shirts, squat suits, etc.) often have a hard time calculating how much their gear helps them. In one sense it’s simple – how much can you lift raw versus how much can you lift in gear – but another factor is how much the gear is adding to the stability of the joint and thus allowing the muscles to contract more forcefully.

6. The Thing You Always Read About Strength But Never Take to Heart

Bodyweight has a huge impact on strength. Some exercises are more affected by bodyweight than others, such as the bench press, military press, and squat. It’s not just how much actual muscle or lean mass you have, but simply total bodyweight.
This ties in closely with the point made above. One of the ways to boost joint stability (and thus increase the muscles ability to contract) is to gain weight.
As you gain weight (10 pounds is usually enough to notice a bit of a difference) your surrounding tissues (even if it’s extra fat) will buffer and support the joint, similar in the way that an external wrap would cover and help the joint. This increases stability and in turn increases strength (relative strength may or may not increase, absolute strength almost assuredly will).
I’m not advocating you gain 50 pounds of fat so your bench goes up 10 pounds, but I am suggesting that if you’ve been at a plateau for quite some time (both with your strength and your bodyweight), you might think about allowing yourself to gain weight to see if that allows your strength to increase noticeably.
That increase in turn, tends to make the training more fun, your enthusiasm is renewed, and you always have the option of losing that weight later on and seeing what happens to you.
Take a look at the line-up from the World’s Strongest Man competition. None of them look ready to step onto a bodybuilding stage, but they all look like they’re ready to dominate some serious weight, and that extra bodyweight is increasing their joint stability.

It’s Time For Strength To Shine

8 More Random Thoughts and Training TipsThere you are my friends, 6 interesting tidbits about strength. Some may seem more obvious than others but I’d argue they’re all important. Which points do you agree with or disagree with? Which one’s are new to you? Have you any points of your own?
That’s what the Live Spill is for. See you there.

Stretching for Strength and Muscle Mass

Practical advice on getting the most out of this effective training method

by Charles Poliquin
2/24/2012 4:08:34 PM

You can use the timing and the nature of stretching to maximize gains in strength and flexibility.

The timing of stretching is critical to maximize the training response, meaning that a great method of stretching used at the wrong time can be disastrous. The regular practice of stretching will accelerate maximal gains in strength and hypertrophy. However, restrictions in fascial structures slow down hypertrophy gains and make it difficult to improve flexibility. Hence, the popularity of our FAT tool courses to remove limiting adhesions – especially when combined with a NO2 increasing cream such as Zanagen Ignite.

If you stretch with the wrong method, such as doing static stretching before strength training, you make the muscle temporarily weak and increase the risk of injury. This has been proven in multiple studies of various stretching activities, ranging from strength training to warming up for rugby and football. In most studies the decreases in maximal strength and power range from 7 to 20 percent. Who wants to train or compete at 80 to 93 percent of their best?

PNF stretching and ballistic stretching increase strength levels for workouts and competition. The key is to perform until you feel your nervous system being activated. Using bands to stretch the joint capsules also potentiates strength and flexibility gains.

To maximize your flexibility gains, four to six hours after strength training do a combination of stretching methods in this order: PNF, then ballistic, then static; following this protocol will accelerate your progress in the weightroom and on the athletic field. With PNF stretching make sure to gradually increase the tension to about 66 percent of maximal strength for 6-8 seconds for the highest return on your time investment.

When using the ballistic method, use the pendulum approach, by gradually increasing both range and velocity of the stretch. Although many physical therapists frown upon this method and argue that it increases the risk of injury, this is no more than the talk of glorified bartenders with their bags of ice. Successful kicks and throws are ballistic, so you can and should train the same way you compete! It’s all about the progressions. Weightlifters lift world records after progressive warm-ups. They get there by lifting heavy weights in a progressive manner. Why not apply the same principles to stretching?

Wikio

Sandbags For Strength

Sandbags For Strength

Is the sandbag the key to elite strength and conditioning? Probably not. It isn’t a miracle tool and likely not the missing link between you and strength training glory. However, used properly, sandbags can certainly be an effective adjunct to a solid resistance-training program.
Before you rush out and start stealing sandbags from the stack your neighbor has holding up his kid’s swing-set, you need a rationale for using them. This article will discuss how sandbags can help you build strength, conditioning, and power.
Often regarded as a “poor man’s choice” for strength and conditioning, there’s a distinct split between those that use sandbags (and other odd-shaped lifting devices) and those that train with traditional resistance, namely barbells and dumbbells. For some reason, we rarely find people that consistently work at both ends of the spectrum. Why?
  • It’s difficult to “grease the groove” with sandbag training. Although your technique will undoubtedly improve over time, you’ll still find yourself fighting for most lifts. Most don’t like this.
  • Sandbag training, being unstable and constantly shifting, will prevent you from lifting as much weight as you could on a more fixed device, like a barbell. This means that most who train for absolute strength tend to write them off.
  • Sandbags aren’t always employed for their unique properties. They’re often used for sandbag variations of regular barbell exercises, meaning that serious trainees just end up lifting less weight than normal. As a result, the comparable results between sandbag training and barbell training aren’t that impressive.
If you’re considering adding sandbag lifting into your training program, it’s important to first qualify what it will, and what it won’t do for you.

Functional Fiction

Sandbags For Strength
The annoying functional training “buzz” has come full circle. People are now wise to the fact that the modality used (barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, sandbag, etc.) and exercise selected don’t necessarily make it functional. What makes these things functional (and indeed anything) is how they relate to you and your individual needs.
Subsequently, we’re starting to see a return to programs that are more functional for most people. Programs based around good, compound lifts are now common – and this is a great thing.
Does this mean that we should avoid those other “real-life” lifts altogether? I say no, provided we realize why we’re including them in our program.
Most avoid “odd-object” lifting because it’s tough and they find themselves struggling to make many of the lifts, even at moderate loads. For those aiming to increase absolute strength this can become an issue. I’m proposing that you don’t substitute sandbag training for barbell training, but use it as an additional tool.

What Makes The Sandbag Awesome

  • The sandbag is awkward to lift, requiring that you fight hard to perform exercises with it, just like working with a “real-life” object or person. (Hello, mixed martial artists, bouncers, and amateur mud wrestlers.)
  • Sandbags require great levels of grip strength to lift. You’ll find that you naturally grip them in positions like the bear hug, Zercher, or shoulder.
  • The sandbag is malleable. It will adjust to your body and how you’re using it. Like Spiderman’s alter ego Venom, it’s particularly effective in “molding” itself to your body and is perfect for carrying, dragging, and throwing.
  • The sandbag is unstable and will develop great core strength. This is the opposite of most “core” training where the surface you’re standing on is unstable. Working with an unstable object is much more akin to the demands of real life.
  • They’re a great way to push past plateaus. Get used to lifting a 200-pound bag of sand above your head and you’ll be stronger when you go back to the relatively “stable” barbell.
  • Finally, sandbags are inexpensive. They’re perfect for anyone on a budget. Just show up to a riverside community in the weeks following a spring flood – they’ll pay you to take them away!

Integrating Sandbag Training

The simplest way to incorporate sandbag lifting is to use the bag as an alternative to deadlifts, squats, presses, and pulls. This isn’t the most effective use of the sandbag but it will give you a taste of the benefits therein.
How you integrate sandbag training into your strength and conditioning will be highly specific to your own individual needs. The following three options will provide you with some starting points:
  • Substitute an existing session of lifting for sandbag variations. Replace the lifts you’d normally do with a traditional free weight with the sandbag. Do this 1-2 times per month.
  • Add in a unique sandbag lifting session. Use some of the sandbag exercises described below and try a session that’s either strength based (high weight, low rep, long rest periods) or conditioning based (light-moderate weight, moderate-high rep, minimal rest periods).
  • Use sandbags for a sport-specific session. Push it, pull it, drag it, and throw it. Treat it like an opposing shopper at Best Buy on Black Friday and be creative.

Sandbag Exercises

The following exercises will give you the best of what the sandbag has to offer. They’re exercises that you probably wouldn’t normally do, and that’s a good thing!

Sandbag Windmill

Sandbags For Strength

If you’ve ever tried a windmill with a kettlebell or dumbbell you’ll appreciate that it can be a tough exercise. It requires great flexibility, core and shoulder strength. Try it with a sandbag and it goes to a whole new level. The constantly shifting load of the sandbag will challenge your shoulder stability like nothing else.

Sandbag Bear-Hug Load Carry

Sandbags For Strength

This is the type of exercise that the sandbag was designed for. The bear hug will develop the kind of strength that’s difficult to get from regular lifting. Couple this with a load carry (or sprint for supreme conditioning) for a great strength and conditioning exercise. You could move the bag between platforms or chairs, or perhaps set out a course to cover.

Sandbag Floor Press with Bridge

Sandbags For Strength

The floor press is a great exercise for developing pushing strength, and the sandbag version encourages greater development of grip strength and shoulder stability. Plus, you can be creative with it. MMA athletes can try escapes and transitions with the sandbag.

Sandbag Clean and Press

Sandbags For Strength

Lifting a bag of sand above your head is no easy feat, and the added challenge from the sandbag is enough to justify its inclusion in the list.

Wrap Up

There’s absolutely no substitute for the basics, namely barbells and dumbbells. However, just as the Prowler and kettlebells can be effective additions to a solid weight-training program, so can the dirty old sandbag. It might just be the plateau buster you were looking for!

Bodyweight Isometrics for Improved Strength

(No, Really!)

Bodyweight Isometrics for Improved Strength

We already know what you’re thinking.

If we were trying to come up with an article topic that would simultaneously draw the ire of the entire strength and conditioning world, destroy our credibility, and raise the estrogen levels of anyone unfortunate enough to lay their eyes upon it, bodyweight isometrics would hit the bull’s-eye.
Hear us out. We’re not suggesting that you trade in your Chuck’s for stretchy yoga pants and soy lattes. We’re not even suggesting that you change a single repetition in your weight-training program at all.
This article is about leveraging the benefits of an extremely powerful training tool that’s been used by bodybuilders, Russian power athletes, and Olympic gymnasts for centuries. So wipe out any preconceived notions you might have of what bodyweight training is all about.

Enter the World of Isometrics

Bodyweight Isometrics for Improved Strength

Bodybuilding legend Charles Atlas first introduced isometrics to the fitness world in the 1920s under the term, “dynamic tension.” Atlas seemingly did quite well for himself with isometrics, earning both a reputation for being the best-built man in the world and a small fortune from sales of his program detailing how to use them.
The popularity of isometrics surged again in the 1950s after a study by Hettinger and Mueller showed that a small dose of daily isometrics could increase strength by 5% per week for up to 10 weeks. But somewhere between the 1960s and today, isometrics seemingly disappeared from mass circulation.
Although isometrics have managed to maintain their popularity among power athletes, their role has been significantly downgraded to the rehabilitative setting and breast enhancement programs for flat-chested women.

The Way of the Isometric

Adequately defining isometrics can be problematic; the best we can do is to say that it’s a movement. As such, it occurs when the force produced by a muscle is exactly equal to the external load imposed on it. But that’s not to say that there’s no movement at all.
I think the Bee Gee’s said it best when they observed that when an “irresistible force meets an immovable object… blood starts to flow.” And it does, as do nerve impulses, calcium ions, sliding actin, and myosin filaments, as well as all the other internal processes that must occur to produce a muscular contraction.
The carryover benefits of isometric training on dynamic lifts have been well documented. For decades, Russian coaches have advocated a strength regime that consists of .
Why would the Russians devote so much time to this style of training?
Because they knew (and we know) that isometric exercises can be more effective than dynamic ones for building strength movements that require muscle contractions of large magnitude during particular stages.
Where would that fit into weight training? Perhaps at the bottom of a deadlift, the midpoint of a bench press, or the lock out in an overhead jerk?
During a dynamic exercise, the application of maximal force that can be achieved at any one joint angle is transient at best. Static contractions, on the other hand, allow you to focus on a specific joint angle and blast it with the type of sustained stress necessary for neuromuscular adaptations to occur.
As an additional benefit, many claim the strength that’s produced at any particular joint angle has a 10-15% carryover above and below that position.

Iso-Methods

Bodyweight Isometrics for Improved Strength

There are many different ways you can add isometrics into your program, depending on your goals. Powerlifters and strength athletes have used chopped-up versions of their competition lifts to perform static holds with maximal weight in a position of emphasis.
This is usually accomplished by performing , in which the bar is pushed or pulled against an immovable object like a squat rack, or , where a maximal weight is prevented from falling to the ground.
While these methods can be an incredibly effective means for building strength and power for these particular patterns, the lack of a need for body awareness or strategic placement makes them less applicable for non-strength athletes like football players, MMA fighters, or for general physical preparedness.
One method to address this is to pair static gymnastics-based holds with our athlete’s dynamic exercises. Using these types of holds allows for similar levels of muscle activation as standard isometric movements, but with the added benefit of improving overall body control, core activation, and body awareness.
If you have any doubts, spend two-minutes watching a collegiate level or higher gymnastic meet and you’ll quickly come around. Not only do they look like bodybuilders, with well-defined muscles and incredibly low body fat levels, they’re also some of the strongest pound-for-pound athletes in the world.
The weightroom exploits of gymnasts are legendary. Consider 140-pound gymnasts who could crush 300-pound + bench presses and triple-bodyweight deadlifts without ever having touched a weight in practice before. Conversely, there aren’t many 300-pound bench-pressers rocking iron crosses their first time out.
Below are three gymnastics-based exercises that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

L-Sits and Front Levers

Bodyweight Isometrics for Improved Strength

L-Sits

The L-sit is a staple exercise in gymnastics core-conditioning programs, forming the basis for the more advanced parallel bar and ring maneuvers. It includes elements of active posterior chain flexibility, static abdominal strength, and a remarkable level of shoulder girdle and upper arm support strength.
L-sits are probably the most humbling abdominal exercise on the planet. No amount of sit-ups, bent-leg raises, or front planks can ever truly prepare you for the feelings of feebleness that accompanies most people’s first attempt with this exercise.
The L-sit is pure badassery. Along with forging a set of Kevlar-coated abdominals, working the L-Sit position can do wonders for your front squat, deadlift, and any other exercise that relies on hip flexor and knee extensor strength.
Here’s a great progression that will get you started on your journey toward building a strong and functional midsection:

Phase One: Tuck Hold

Support yourself between two benches with your arms straight, and torso in an upright position. Raise both legs (bent) to at least parallel, if not a little higher.

Phase Two: Low L-Sit

Using the same setup, raise both legs (straight) to a level just below parallel. This will pull the quadriceps more into the mix, setting you up for the next variation.

Phase Three: Full L-Sit

The full L-sit is usually performed from the floor. The goal here is to keep both your legs off the ground, at or above hip height for 5-10 seconds. Once you’ve mastered the L-sit, make sure to congratulate yourself as this is no small task – you’ve officially earned the privilege to refer to your abs as a “Situation.”

Front Levers

Bodyweight Isometrics for Improved Strength

The front lever is the gold standard in total body strength development, requiring upper body pulling power, core control, and the ability to subjugate the physical properties of the universe by sheer force of will.
It involves holding your entire body in a rigid horizontal plank on a pull-up bar, with your arms straight and your back parallel to the floor, giving you the Jedi-like appearance of floating on air. Achieving this position requires a Herculean effort from your lats, abdominals, hip flexors, and scapular stabilizers.
This is one of the hardest total body exercises out there, so a tight progression that works up to the final product is a must. Before you jump into hanging variations of the front lever, it’s helpful to get a “feel” for the exercise by practicing the basic positions on a bench or the ground first.

Tucked Front Lever to Single-leg Lever

Beginning from an inverted hang position, slowly lower your body until your back is parallel to the floor. Consciously tense your armpits and pull downwards (towards the bar) while retracting your shoulder blades. Once you’re able to maintain this position for at 5-10 seconds, begin to reach one leg out in an alternating fashion.

A word of caution, these are tough, demonstrating the power of disadvantageous leverages and bodyweight isometrics. If you can’t get one leg out, follow the L-sit progression until you’re comfortable in the tuck for 30 seconds straight and try again. At this point, you should have enough strength to attempt the movement.

Full Front Lever

Assuming you’ve already turned a few heads at the gym with your single-leg lever, get ready to start blowing people’s minds by extending your other leg out straight to complete the full front lever position. This is an extremely difficult position to get into, and you only need to hold it for 1-2 seconds to officially claim it as yours.

Conclusion

As you can see, bodyweight isometrics aren’t all wall squats and front planks borrowed from a geriatric training program. Applied correctly, they can be powerful training tools with multiple benefits that go well beyond increasing muscular endurance.
They may even be a more effective means of developing overall strength, power, and body control than traditional weight-based movements. Just don’t tell anyone at the gym we said that, okay?

Wikio

Why You Need More Strength

Why You Need More Strength



Why You Need More Strength


In order to be powerful, you must be strong.
Developing huge levels of muscle force takes a lot of maximal strength, but it’s only after you enhance your ability to quickly reach that peak level of force that you achieve head-turning power.
Power is defined as work divided by time (P=W/T), so in order to become more powerful you must decrease the amount of time it takes you to perform a certain amount of work. Let’s say two guys can achieve the same level of peak force. The guy who can reach that peak force faster is more powerful.
The typical way a strength coach will build a power athlete is with a combination of speed and maximal strength training.
Speed training uses submaximal loads with fast tempos. For example, you’ll put a load on the bar you could lift 10 times but you’ll only perform three super-fast reps.
The goal of speed training isn’t to enhance your peak force, but instead to enhance your ability to reach that peak force in less time. Put another way – speed training won’t increase your maximal strength and this can be problematic for most power athletes.
For the purposes of this discussion, a power athlete is someone whose sport mandates lightning fast movements. Think of a MMA fighter or a running back.
Ironically, the only sport with the word “power” in the description – powerlifting – doesn’t mandate fast movements. Whether it takes you two seconds or eight seconds to lock out the deadlift doesn’t matter; either is acceptable in that sport. Nevertheless, speed work is important in powerlifting. There are two reasons.
First, speed work enhances your ability to reach peak levels of force. The inability to reach max force can cause you to miss the lift. The second reason is because, in most cases, powerlifters aren’t doing anything outside of the gym that challenges their speed. They need to train for speed in their workouts because they’re not getting it anywhere else.
You must be able to tap into your peak force very fast to get bigger and stronger. But this article isn’t an overview of how to train for speed. Eric Cressey already did an excellent job covering that in Training Speed to Get Strong.
Powerlifters aside, most power athletes don’t need additional speed work. They need to develop more maximal strength. That’s the focus of this article.


How to Target Maximal Strength

Maximal strength is your ability to produce the highest level of force possible. Based on motor unit physiology, your ability to maintain maximum continuous force decreases at the 10-second mark. So any set or exercise that lasts longer than 10 seconds of continuous tension isn’t directly training maximal strength.
There are two different ways to increase maximal strength. The first is with those big, compound exercises that you love to do in the gym because you can load plenty of plates on the bar. I’m talking about the deadlift and back squat, among others. You lift heavy, you keep the reps low, and you keep the rest periods long.
The other way to build maximal strength is with high-tension exercises. These exercises don’t require much external load but they’re brutally tough. Heck, in some cases you don’t need any external load before you have to stop.
Two examples include the iron cross on the rings or a body weight glute-ham raise. Most strong athletes can’t complete a single, full range of motion rep of either. So even though there’s no external load, it’s still maximal strength training since you can’t maintain muscle tension for more than 10 seconds.
There’s no new way to build pure strength. You need to lift heavy and use high-tension exercises. Thirty years ago a professional football player would practice to build his game and lift heavy in the gym to build his maximal strength. But then something changed.


The Sport Specific Training Setback

Why You Need More Strength


By the 1990’s, sport specific training became the rage. The concept was simple – try to mimic in the weight room what you’re doing in the sport. That way, what you develop in the gym will directly correlate with an increase in sport-specific performance.
Take a 100-meter sprinter, for example, whose replay video shows a high knee kick throughout the race. His strength coach has him perform a bunch of high knee kicks with a resistance band to build strength in that movement pattern because, well, that’s what the sport shows.
Yet, this type of sport specific training didn’t help. What proof do I have? Well, the progressive strength coaches who ended up removing those crazy exercises out of their athlete’s programs saw no loss in sport performance. In many cases, the athletes actually improved their speed and strength once those fatigue-inducing exercises were put on the shelf.
I was reminded of this fact when I recently met up with sprint strength coach savant, Barry Ross, to talk shop. He’s a guy who’s known for having his athletes perform an extremely basic strength-building program; I mean, really basic. His strength program focuses on building the deadlift and not much else.
A deadlift-focused program for sprinters seems about as far from sport-specific as training can be. Yet Ross consistently produces some of the fastest sprinters in the world.
He doesn’t have his sprinters perform a high knee kick against resistance because he figured out that the high kick was merely a rebound effect from the huge amount of force his sprinters were able to pound into the ground from their monstrous deadlifts.
Another example – back in 1997 I was fortunate to spend time around another legend in the world of strength training, Tim Grover. He’s the guy who trained Michael Jordan throughout his career, in addition to many other top NBA players.
One really smart thing Tim did was measure his players’ average heart rate on the basketball court. He wanted to see it decrease over time as they got further into the off-season strength and conditioning program he set up for them.
Tim didn’t have Jordan or Pippen run up and down the court wearing a weighted vest with ankle weights while shooting a 20-pound basketball. He used basic strength exercises to get them stronger. Grover knew that making his basketball players stronger would allow them to perform jump shots with less effort. This kept their heart rate down and, by default, increased their endurance.
I mention Barry Ross and Tim Grover for a reason. Ross’ athletes only need to run in a straight line for a very short amount of time. Grover’s athletes had to run in multiple directions for a long period of time. Yet both focused on a basic maximal strength-building program to improve their athlete’s performance, and both are hugely successful with their methods. They didn’t fall victim to the sport-specific training nonsense.
The problem with the sport specific training craze is that the exercises weren’t nearly as effective as training the sport itself. Those exercises just accumulated fatigue that kept athletes from practicing at their peak on the field or in the ring.
The idea of taking any sprint, punch or kick and adding resistance to it in order to build sport specific endurance is akin to prescribing a 4/0/2 tempo for the step-up. Both approaches set the strength and conditioning industry back 20 years.


The Fatigue Factor

Why You Need More Strength


Fatigue is the number one enemy of any athlete. Anyone who’s a fighter, or trains fighters, has a clear understanding of how detrimental fatigue can be.
Look, if you’re a running back, fatigue will decrease your agility so you’re more likely to get tackled. That’s not good. However, for MMA fighters, the inability to maintain their reflexes at the end of a fight could be a career ender.
It’s this respect for my fighter’s safety at the end of a fight that made me put such a large emphasis on speed training and sport-specific endurance development when I first started working with them. In those days, half of our training would be speed with endurance work, while the other half was maximal strength training.
But I wasn’t satisfied with their maximal strength development. I knew the problem – they were doing too much overall training throughout the week to recover. So I started tapering off the amount of speed work I had them do. Of course, their maximal strength went up.
And their endurance and explosive strength also went up!
I determined an increase in endurance by their ability to maintain a lower average heart rate while they were sparring. The explosive strength enhancement was determined by an increase in their broad jump score.
Of course, training for nothing but maximal strength won’t make you an endurance athlete. However, when I cut out the speed/endurance exercises, they were able to put more energy into their kickboxing, Muay Thai, wrestling, and boxing.
In other words, they had the extra energy outside of our strength workouts to literally build sport specific endurance by practicing their sport more frequently and with greater intensity. And remember that having higher levels of maximal strength means you can perform the sport with less effort.
The only type of sport specific training worth doing is the sport itself. I like battling ropes for MMA athletes as much as the next guy, but it’s still inferior to letting them spend that energy on actual striking.


3 Guidelines for Training Power Athletes

Why You Need More Strength

Use the deadlift as the ultimate measure of high-load training strength with being able to pull at least a raw double body weight lift with an unmixed grip as the goal. Focus on building the glute-ham raise, iron cross, muscle-up, and handstand push-up from rings for body weight high-tension exercises.
A key with maximal strength training is to rest at least three minutes before repeating an exercise. This doesn’t mean you need to sit around for three minutes, though. Here’s a sample sequence I like for developing the core and posterior chain.

Exercise Reps Rest
1A Pallof press-hold for 10 seconds 60 sec.
1B Deadlift* 2 60 sec.
1C Body weight glute-ham raise ** 60 sec.

Repeat 1A-1C four more times.

If that doesn’t work, add battling ropes, sled work, sprints or something similar into the program, one at a time. Make sure whatever you add in is improving their sparring endurance.

The broad jump is a versatile tool in athletic settings. Not only is it an accurate way to test your potential increase in RFD, but it’s also a good measure of which young athlete might be genetically predisposed to being a great power athlete.
The kid with the longest broad jump is often the one chosen by an Olympic coach who’s looking to build his resume.
In science, all possible variables must be kept consistent through subsequent trials or the data will be skewed. This need for accuracy, of course, is just as important when testing athletes. The biomechanics of the broad jump must be as consistent as possible.
In subsequent trials, if the athlete uses a wider or narrower foot placement, if he’s wearing different shoes, or if he’s jumping from a different surface, you won’t get an accurate measure of his changes in performance.
Testing Surface: Ideally you’ll jump from a hard surface and land on a slightly softer one. Think of a basketball court floor for takeoff and a hard rubber surface like you see in gyms for landing. A surface that’s too soft, however, isn’t helpful either since it’s difficult for the athlete to land solid. It’s not imperative that you land on a softer surface, but if one is available, use it.
Footwear: I usually have my athletes perform the broad jump with bare feet. Any shoe with minimal cushioning will work, too. Avoid testing athletes who are wearing shoes with thick, cushioned soles.
Foot placement: When the athlete is ready to perform a broad jump, measure the distance between the inside of his heels and place two marks on the floor with tape so his heels are the exact same width with each subsequent attempt. Whichever foot placement feels most powerful is what you want to test. That stance width will be slightly different for everyone.
Attempts, Measuring and Calculations: Perform three broad jumps with three minutes of rest between each attempt. If the athlete loses his balance on the landing, it doesn’t count. Wait three minutes and perform another attempt.
Measure from the front of his toes at takeoff to the back of his heel at landing. Measure to the heel that’s closest to the takeoff line if the feet aren’t perfectly even. The longest jump is the one that counts in your data.
Testing frequency: Test the broad jump every four weeks. Ideally, you’ll test it on the same day at the same time with the same warm-up, if you choose to use a warm-up (as little as 10 jumping jacks one minute before the first jump is usually sufficient). The key is to keep whatever warm-up you’re doing consistent over time.
Now, in a perfect world the athlete would refrain from any heavy weight training for two days before testing the broad jump. If you test the broad jump two days after a heavy deadlift the first week, and retest it one day after a heavy deadlift the fourth week, you’re going to skew your data. Be smart with your timing of the broad jump test and try to keep all variables as consistent as possible.
It would be easy to get into a scholarly discussion over what constitutes an ideal broad jump distance. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that your broad jump is consistently increasing over time. Once it stops increasing, add speed exercises into your training program if you feel that’s what’s lacking.


Final Words

This article isn’t a slam on speed training. It has its place. If you’re an avid lifter who doesn’t compete in any sport and wants to get bigger and stronger, traditional speed training should be a part of your program.
However, if you’re a power athlete it’s important to remember that your sport probably gives you all the speed training you need, if you practice it enough.
What you’ll most likely get the greatest benefit from is maximal strength training. This is especially true if your goal is to be the next MMA champion!

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Training Speed to Get Strong

Training Speed to Get Strong

Training Speed to Get Strong
Imagine two lifters standing near one another – each with a barbell loaded to 405 pounds on the floor in front of them.
Assume these two are identical in every way – except for one key fact. Lifter A was a high-jumper, but Lifter B got his physique from more traditional bodybuilding methods.
Neither of these guys has ever deadlifted 405 previously.
Which of the two do you put your money on to hit the PR if you don’t know anything else about them?
Ten times out of ten, I take the high jumper – and I’d guarantee you that most folks in the human performance industry would do the same. Why?
Based on his athletic background, you can assume that he’s learned to apply force quickly.
These two might have the exact same peak force capabilities, but the guy who can put force into the ground the quickest to break that bar from the floor stands a better chance of completing the lift.
The take-home message is very simple: learn to apply force quickly and it’ll make you stronger. The optimal approach, however, is not that simple; in fact, it’s different for everyone – and that’s what I’ll cover in this article.

What You Can Learn from the Crazy Father of an Unathletic 14 Year-Old

At Cressey Performance, we train a lot of high school athletes. Roughly once a week, we have a father come in and tell us that his kid needs more “agility training” in his program because he isn’t quite fast enough. I encourage them all to read this article: Make My Kid Run Faster.
The basic gist of the article is that you can do all the speed training you want with a young kid, but unless he has a foundation of strength, it won’t help much at all. It’s the equivalent of swapping out the fuzzy dice in the mirror of a car with no engine.
Sprinting and change-of-direction work involve substantial ground reaction forces, and without adequate strength to provide eccentric control, unprepared bodies turn to mush. You have to have force in order to display force quickly.
How does this apply to incorporating speed work in a strength-training program? Very simply, if you haven’t built a solid foundation of strength, incorporating specific speed work in your program probably won’t do much for you.
What’s a solid foundation of strength? If I had to estimate it based on previous experience, I’d say a 1.5x body weight squat, 1.25x body weight bench press, and 1.75x body weight deadlift.
With folks that aren’t quite at that level who still want to give a passing nod to speed, I typically just recommend that they add a few additional warm-up sets on their first exercise of the day. On these additional sets, their focus is outstanding concentric bar speed in perfect technique. So if a 185-pound guy is working up to squatting 230×3, he might proceed as follows:

A normal work-up for this guy might be 45×8, 95×5, 135×3, 185×3, 205×3 – and then on to his first work set at 230. In this instance, however, he adds an additional three sets of speed work without beating up on his body or adding unnecessary volume that could interfere with his more important work sets.
In the process, he not only gets a chance to practice technique, but also learns that he should always accelerate the bar as fast as possible. The intent to develop force quickly is where it’s at – even if the bar speed isn’t tremendous, that bar speed will come in time.

What Constitutes Speed Work, Anyway?

Training Speed to Get Strong
I’ve seen some blanket recommendations about how to best train bar speed in the weight room, but I’m not sure that there’s one that’s universally accurate. You see, the slower you are (regardless of how much force you can develop), the lower the percentage of one-repetition maximum (1RM) you’ll need to use.
Conversely, the fastest guys usually don’t even need to train speed; their natural reactive ability allows them to just lift heavy stuff and continue to get faster. You can usually identify these naturally fast-twitch guys as people who will absolutely smoke a lift at 99% of their 1RM, but get absolutely stapled by 101%. They either crush a lift or don’t get it at all (whereas most folks will have to grind them all out).
As the saying goes, “It’s easier to make a fast guy strong than it is to make a strong guy fast.” Most folks (myself included) are somewhere in the middle.
With that in mind, I like to let the bar “sound” dictate whether the weight is right. In most cases, if you’re accelerating the bar with good speed, you’ll hear the plates rattle against each other in the strongest portion of the movement.
In fact, a good way to test this out is to simply load up a bar to roughly the weight you think you should use, but use several 2.5- and 5-pound plates in the process, then put the safety clamp about 1″ away from the weights. If you’re smoking big weights, the plates will make some noise – but you won’t get this if the bar is too heavy.
At what weight will this take place? In most cases, 40-70% of 1RM is your best bet. Of course, there are exceptions; as an example, jump squat percentages will be lower because you’re actually leaving the ground. And, of course, the Olympic lifts – which are absolutely fantastic for improving rate of force development – are self-limiting in that if you can’t move the bar fast, you simply won’t complete the lift.
Of course, all the preceding paragraphs assume that you need external loading to improve speed to the point that it’ll carry over to lifting. That’s not necessarily the case.

Ten Ways to Train Speed in Your Strength Training Program

A lot of folks get stuck in a rut when it comes to training speed in the context of strength and conditioning. It seems like everyone’s all about just doing box squats and bench presses – but there really are a number of other options.

  • Sprinting: No equipment needed. It might not carry over perfectly from a specificity standpoint, but running fast will never make you less athletic. In terms of resisted sprinting, I’ve never been a fan of sprinting with parachutes, but we will use sprinting with sleds.
  • Box Jumps: You go up, but don’t come down – so the pounding on the body is minimized. I’ve read of quite a few high-level deadlifters who have utilized box jumps with outstanding success.
  • Countermovement (Vertical) and Broad Jumps: You can do these with body weight only, or against added resistance. Band-resisted broad jumps are arguably my favorite exercise for training posterior chain power.
  • Medicine Ball Drills: These might not carry over from a specificity standpoint, but frankly, people spend too much time in the sagittal plane – and power training is no different. Plus, it’s fun as hell to try to smash medicine balls. You can do overhead, rotational, and scoop variations. I’d also put sledgehammer swings against tires in this category.
  • Non-Sagittal Plane Plyos: Like medicine ball drills, they aren’t necessarily “specific” to lifting, but there will be carryover, and you’ll certainly move better on the whole. We utilize many different variations of heidens with our athletes.
  • Olympic lifts: As noted earlier, assuming you learn proper technique and you have the adequate mobility to perform them correctly, you can’t go wrong with Olympic lifts if you’re trying to improve universal bar speed. Cleans, snatches, high pulls, jerks, you name it; if you’re slow, they can help.
  • Squat Variations: Following the percentage variations I noted above, you have loads of options for variations: different bars (straight bar, giant cambered bar, safety squat bar), free squats, box squats, Anderson squats (from pins or chains), and different forms of accommodating resistances (chains and bands).
  • Deadlift Variations: I increased my deadlift from 510 to 628 in just under a year, and I’m convinced that it had to do with the fact that my programs included speed deadlift variations twice a week for that entire period. You can do conventional, sumo, trap bar, and snatch grip variations.
  • Bench Press Variations: As with the last two examples, variety is easy to include. You can vary grip width, change bars (straight bar, multipurpose bar, thick bar), perform the movement with or without a pause at the bottom, and implement different accommodating resistances.
  • Plyometric or Clap Push-ups: These can be a good change of pace for those who are bored with speed benching – and they can be great exercises to take on the road if you don’t have a lot of equipment at your fingertips.
  • How to Pick the Right Speed Exercises for You

    Speed Training

    Several factors influence which of the above modalities you choose, but the foremost of these factors are a) your goal and b) your current training experience.
    If your goal is to deadlift a Buick, then you need to go with specific options. I’d use speed deadlift variations almost exclusively, and perhaps just use some broad/box jump variations and a bit of hip dominant squatting for speed as variety. Specificity will always rule if lifting heavier weights is the only goal.
    If you’re just an Average Joe trying to get more athletic with some solid carryover to your strength training program, I’d rotate my “speed work” on a monthly basis. Each month, in both the upper and lower body, I’d do one movement with minimal external loading (jumping variation, sprinting, medicine ball work) and another with more appreciable loading (speed box squats, speed deadlifts, or Olympic lifts).
    If you have two upper-body and two lower-body training sessions in each week, you could simply do one in each as the first movement of each session. I’m in this category, and I tend to do one day of speed benches and one day of speed squats or deadlifts per week, then supplement it with a bit of sprinting and some medicine ball throws. In other words, I get some general, and some specific.
    If you’ve got decent speed already, chances are that you can get away with just once a week in both the upper and lower body.
    As you can probably tell, I don’t see any reason to devote specific training sessions, weeks, or entire blocks specifically to training speed. Rather, I see it as one component of a comprehensive program – and something that can be trained alongside other strength qualities in each training block. You might do more of it at certain times than others, but that doesn’t mean it should be performed to the exclusion of everything else; heavy lifting and rep work definitely still has its place!

    When to Include Speed Work

    Training Speed to Get StrongMost of the time, the best place to put your speed drills is first thing in your strength training session, right after the warm-up. In other words, it’d be your “A1.” There are, however, a few exceptions to the rule.
    I’ve often done my speed deadlifting as my “B1” exercise after heavy squatting.
    We’ll also integrate complex training, in which a speed exercise is preceded by a heavier load. In other words, you might do a heavy set of 2-4 reps on a front squat, and then do a set of five countermovement (vertical) jumps within 20-30 seconds.
    You’d rest 2-3 minutes, and then repeat the process. Through a principle known as post-activation potentiation, the heavy loading of the front squat increases neural drive and recruitment of high-threshold motor units, which in turn allows for greater power output on the subsequent task. It can work great, but if you do it all the time, you can burn athletes out.
    Finally, in certain cases, it might be necessary to do a separate speed session altogether. Sprinting and medicine ball work, for instance, may need to take place in a separate location than lifting, so for sake of convenience, you’d just perform those exercises on their own.
    Basically, the idea is to train speed when you’re fresh. Doing a bunch of box jumps at the end of a heavy lower body training session isn’t just unproductive; it’s dangerous.

    Wrapping Up

    Everyone needs speed, but some certainly need to improve in this regard more than others – and some don’t even “qualify” for dedicated speed work because they haven’t already built up a solid foundation. If you use the aforementioned strategies for implementing speed training in your training programs, I’m confident that you’ll start hitting big weights faster than ever.

Complex Neuromuscular Training for Size and Strength

Squat and Sprint

Complex Neuromuscular Training for Size and Strength

Deadlifting for Strongman

What’s the best way to pack on pounds of lean mass? Heavy loads with long rest periods? High volume with short rest periods? A combination of the two, with a sprinkle of P-90X thrown in for flavor?
Though either approach can certainly “work,” you don’t have to look further than the nearest gymnastic training center to see that there are other effective ways to pack on appreciable muscle mass. Considering gymnasts often have some of the thickest arms and shoulders per pound of body mass of any athlete, it’s surprising you don’t see more gym rats hitting the rings or pommel horse.
And let’s not forget sprinters. Many 100m and 200m sprinters like Harry Aikines-Aryeetey from the UK have more beef on their arms, shoulders, and thighs than many gym rats could ever dream of building. On top of that, their muscles tend to have a “denser” look, possibly due to a higher concentration of contractile proteins than that of bodybuilders, where increased cell volume and intramuscular glycogen play a big role (sarcoplasmic hypertrophy).
I recall watching training footage of disgraced Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson before his performance enhancement drug scandal. For one particular workout, Johnson brought a squat rack onto the track and performed an extremely heavy set of back squats (I think he had over 500 pounds) for 3-5 reps, then immediately burst from the cage in a full speed sprint for 60m.
The reasoning behind this was to overload the nervous system in a sort of “pre-fatigue” manner with the back squats, and then have to generate power through the already tired legs to achieve top velocity.
To put it differently, he was working the fast-twitch fibers with high-force, low-speed contractions in the back squat, and then immediately hitting them with high-force, high-speed contractions in sprinting. It was two mechanically different activities requiring a high degree of neural activity to produce maximal force in a sort of bipolar manner.
This was interesting as much of the prevailing wisdom at the time regarding hypertrophy revolved around simply lifting heavier weights within an 8-12 rep range. As you got stronger you either lifted more weight or did another rep with the same weight in the subsequent workouts.
The idea of resistance and speed of contraction being inversely related didn’t take into account the muscle force production capacity, and the associated muscle activity to get it there.
Fiber Made Simple
This is why many athletes can generate huge muscle force components with relatively light resistance (baseball, punching, golf, etc.). If we were to crank up the resistance without significantly affecting the top-end movement speed, we’d see some explosive gains in size and strength.
So I started experimenting. I couldn’t take a squat rack onto the field, but I was able to position a squat rack and a cycle ergometer right next to each other. I’d set up the rack for a heavy set and then hop on the bike for a 6-second bout of very high speed sprint work that left my legs feeling like Jell-O.
After two months, both my squat weight and sprint speed were up significantly, along with noticeable growth in my quads and hamstrings. My acceleration and top speed in all the sports I was participating in was up, too.
I tried this workout again a decade later – being outside the fantastic adaptable teenage hormonal years – with similar results. I then tried it on a few of my “hard-gainer” clients, and found that with only two workouts a week in this scheme, both saw solid gains in size and strength.
One client gained 10 pounds of muscle in two months (going from 156 at 5’8″ to 166) without changing his diet, and after training hard for over a year. Another gained 14 pounds after already training for two years, but found that his diet definitely changed because he was eating almost anything that wasn’t nailed down.
By making the muscle contract in a high force/low speed and high force/high speed series, the body is put under a very high-intensity training stimulus, which provides three major benefits.
First, it extends the force production phase of the exercise beyond the 3-5 reps of the heavy squat and incorporates a cyclic natured movement that requires a high degree of muscle force production.
The increased time under tension of roughly 10 seconds of maximal power output will completely tax the creatine phosphate system and the neural systems’ ability to generate an impulse into the muscle for an extended period. The end result is a greater response from the endocrine system and muscle satellite cells to put everything back together, and a greater development and repair of muscle fibers.
Second, fast twitch muscle fibers, the ones that can grow to be the biggest within the body, are stimulated by both high force production and high speed production. By using a system that addresses both of these components, we’re getting the best variety of stimulation to the fast twitch fibers, as well as the highest intensity stimulation possible short of hooking our muscles up to a generator and redlining the sucker.
Third, although not a component of the exercise itself, the rest period is kept to just 90 seconds between bouts, allowing for an adequate recovery of strength and contractile energy sources while putting the body in the most advantageous position to pump out growth hormone and Testosterone.
Most powerlifting or high strength development workouts require the user to rest between sets for between 2-5 minutes, whereas keeping the rest periods short helps to continue the taxation of the growth hormone and Testosterone response within the body. What this means is that the maximal amount of weight lifted in a session is going to be slightly less as the sets wear on, so adjust the weights down as needed.

The Workouts

Deadlifting for Strongman

This program is meant to be used as a two-day-per-week substitution to an existing strength program for someone who has at least a year of good solid training under their belt. Make sure you have the finer points of lifting down for the specific lifts given, and that you have an understanding of the physical requirements for top speed sprint work. For those willing to give it a try, get ready to hate life for a few hours each day.

Workout One

Set
Exercises
Reps
Weight
Speed
Rest
1
Squat
10
60% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint*
80% Top speed
2
Squat
5
80% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint*
90% Top speed
3
Squat
3
90% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint*
Top speed
4
Squat
3
87% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint*
Top speed
5
Squat
3
87% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint*
Top speed
Set
Exercises
Reps
Weight
Rest
1
Chin-ups
5
Body weight
90 sec.
Jumps for max height
5
2
Chin-ups
3
45 lbs.
90 sec.
Jumps for max height
5
3
Chin-ups
3
45 lbs.
90 sec.
Jumps for max height
5
4
Chin-ups
3
25 lbs.
90 sec.
Jumps for max height
5

Workout Two

Set
Exercises
Reps
Weight
Distance/Speed
Rest
1
Squat
10
60% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint on rower
100m < 80% Top speed
2
Squat
5
80% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint on rower
100m < 90% Top speed
3
Squat
3
90% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint on rower
50m – Top speed
4
Squat
3
87% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint on rower
50m – Top speed
5
Squat
3
87% 1RM
90 sec.
Sprint on rower
50m – Top speed
Set
Exercises
Reps
Weight
Distance/Speed
Rest
1
Bench press
10
60% 1RM
90 sec.
Resisted run device
25m < 80% Full speed
2
Bench press
5
80% 1RM
90 sec.
Resisted run device
25m < 90% Full speed
3
Bench press
3
90% 1RM
90 sec.
Resisted run device
25m – Full speed
4
Bench press
3
87% 1RM
90 sec.
Resisted run device
25m – Full speed
5
Bench press
3
87% 1RM
90 sec.
Resisted run device
25m – Full speed
These workouts are insanely intense, but considering the goal is to increase peak strength, peak velocity, and build muscle, you need to create a systemic strain on the muscular system that evokes the largest response in growth hormone and Testosterone.
Alternate these two days once each per week with at least two days in between. For instance, workout one would be on Monday, and workout two either on Thursday or Friday. This will give your nervous system a chance to recover before going into the next workout.
Once the first month (four times through each workout) is in the books, add 2-5% to each lift you’re performing for the second month. For instance, on day one, set 3 of back squats will move from 90% 1RM to 92% 1RM. For the theoretical lifter who maxes out at 315 pounds, this means the weight they will move from 285 up to 290 pounds. A 5% increase would mean going from 285 to 300 pounds.

Deadlifting for Strongman

This systematic increase in resistance is necessary to keep the relative intensity high throughout the workouts. Do not perform heavy squats on any other day of the week, although after the second week you may not be able to even walk, let alone squat on the alternate days.
What this workout program lacks in variety must be made up for in raw aggression. As T NATION contributor Tony Gentilcore says, you have to intimidate the weights when doing this program. Yell, scream, kick, and claw to get every rep out, and put every ounce of your being into every second of the sprint work. Since the rest intervals are only 90 seconds long, you won’t have full recovery before beginning the next set, so it will definitely be a mental test to get through these workouts. That said, the end result should more than make up for going through hell and back.

References

Shoenfeld, B. (2010) The Mechanisms of Muscle Hypertrophy and their Application to Resistance Training. J. Str & Cond Research Vol. 24 issue 10, pp. 2857-2872.
Rahimi et al. (2010). Effects of Very Short Rest Periods on Hormonal Responses to Resistance Exercise in Men. J Str. & Cond Research Vol. 24 issue 7, pp. 1851-1859.

Cristea et al (2008). Effects of Combined Strength and Sprint Training on Regulation of Muscle Contraction at the Whole-Muscle and Single-Fibre Levels in Elite Master Sprinters. Acta Phsyiol. Vol 193, issue 3. Pp. 275-289.h


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