Friday, August 8, 2014

Fitness Friday - Fitness News You Can Use

It's Friday, so it must be time for some fitness information. This week we have Chad Waterbury with a protocol to add strength in your training program; Christian Thibaudeau with a new training program; Charles Staley with a good post on sets, reps, and goals; Tony Gentilcore with a post of using kettlebells to improve your deadlift; and finally, Bret Contreras with 10 things people new to training should know.

Add Strength to Your Program

Chad Waterbury | August 6, 2014
Most of us want to get bigger and stronger at the same time. But most guys or gals that follow a bodybuilding-style program aren’t building much strength.

So today I’m going to outline a workout you can put in your current bodybuilding program that will fill in the much-needed gaps.

That’s important because if you increase your full-body strength you’ll be able to lift heavier loads in your bodybuilding workouts. This, in turn, will make it easier to build muscle in your other workouts.

Maximal Strength

There are many types of strength, so when I talk about strength-training I always make it clear to my audience what type of strength I’m talking about. In most cases, I’m referring to maximal strength: your ability to lift the heaviest load possible for 1-3 reps.

The master of maximal strength, Pavel Tsatsouline, and I have had many discussions on the best way to build it. Russian weightlifters – known as Olympic lifters to us in the states – spend most of their training cycle in the 80-85% of one-rep max (1RM) training zone. That fact will be surprising to many since it’s typically best to train with heavier loads than 85% of 1RM if you’re far from your maximal strength potential.

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The 915 Workout Program

by Christian Thibaudeau | 08/06/14

Here's what you need to know...
  • This program is designed to make you at least 15% stronger while adding 7 pounds of muscle on your body – distributed in such a way that it will not only make you look a lot larger, but more powerful.
  • The 915 program uses the three powerlifts (squat, bench press, deadlift) and the snatch-grip high pull or power clean as the foundation lifts.
  • You'll use two assistance exercises for each main lift. These assistance exercises will allow you to correct any weaknesses holding you back on your main lift.
If you want to build muscle at a fast rate, you don't have to include an exercise for every single angle of every single muscle in your body. You don't have to use all the most advanced methods at the same time. Growing is all about working hard on exercises that will deliver results 10 out of 10 times. It's also about finding your personal weakness and hammering it hard.

The system I present below is very simple, but if you apply some elbow grease the results are guaranteed. So stop over thinking! Get on the system, work hard, and you will grow and get stronger. It's as simple as that. And for those who need further assurance, I've been using this system with several clients and they're all progressing faster than I expected; gains of at least 15% on the big lifts in 9 weeks is normal!

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How Many Reps Should I Do?

by Charles Staley | 08/04/14

Here's what you need to know...

  • It's not what you can do in a set, it's what you can do in a workout. It's not what you can do in a workout, it's what you can do in a training cycle.
  • If you're interested in maximal strength, tension is the name of the game. That can mean lifting a very heavy weight as fast as you can, lifting a moderately heavy weight as fast as you can, or ideally, both.
  • If your main goal is strength, you should terminate any given set just short of technical breakdown, or for stable lifters, always leave one solid rep in the tank for any given set.
  • If your main goal is hypertrophy, you should use a wide range of reps, from as few as 1 to as many of 30. This can be done by pyramiding up to a few heavy sets, followed by a few higher-rep "back off" sets with lighter weights.
  • Most trainees need to address both strength and hypertrophy in their training, regardless of what they consider their primary goal to be. The "sweet spot" between these two adaptations seems to be 5-8 reps per set.
  • Training to failure is only advisable for technically stable athletes on their last set. Blowing your wad on your first set will limit the overall amount of volume you'd otherwise be able to rack up.
Whenever you're doing a set, there are only two real decisions you need to make:
1. How many reps should I do?
2. How close to failure should I go?
Aside from exercise selection and training frequency, these are possibly the two most important decisions you'll need to make in order to obtain optimal results from your training. To answer these questions, you'll in turn need to ask two additional questions:
1. What's my goal?
2. How many total sets am I going to do for that exercise?

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How the Kettlebell Can Improve Your Deadlift

Tony Gentilcore | August 2, 2014

I had an interesting conversation with my good friend and fellow strength coach, Ben Bruno, not too long ago.

He and I like to catch up every now and then to 1) discuss our mutual affinity for JP Licks ice-cream and 2) talk some training and fitness shop.

He’s originally from New England and worked as a coach at Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning for a handful of years before moving out to LA last fall for a change of pace and to pursue some other opportunities.

His typical clientele now out in LA resembles a litany of Hollywood A-listers and a “who’s who” of gossip magazine covers, as well as those people who have a bit more of an aesthetic bias towards training.

While he loves LA and the people he works with, a small percentage of his heart is still back in Boston, working with athletes and helping people get strong.

In one of our last conversations he made the comment that there’s a stark contrast in training mentality between the west and east coast. But a little context comes into play.

Whereas at Cressey Sports Performance, someone nails a 400+ lbs deadlift and no one bats an eye, out in LA someone hits that same lift in a commercial gym and it’s assumed they’re on steroids. And then given their own reality tv show!

Similarly, with regards to female training, and especially with regards to female celebrities and the “Hollywood” mentality as a whole (my apologies with the gross generalization here), barbell training is almost considered taboo.

Ben noted that whenever he’s tried to get some (not all) of his female clients to train with free-weights they were a tad skittish and reticent to place any appreciable load on the barbell.

Truth be told, while the tide is slowly turning for the better (more and more women are reaping the benefits of strength training. See: CrossFit), there’s still a “barbells are scary” vibe that pervades the female psyche. It’s slight, but it’s still there.

Ben noticed a funny thing, however. He noted that whenever he had his female clients use kettlebells they were more than eager to “get after it.” It was almost as if they didn’t think kettlebells counted as strength training.

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10 Things All Beginning Lifters Should Know

Brett Contreras | August 5, 2014

Every experienced lifter out there can remember the first time they moseyed into the weightroom, full of fear, confusion, and insecurity. Though most of us make it past these initial stages, some lifters never do. Some lifters quit training, mostly because they don’t understand it. If only there was a seasoned lifter at every gym who could talk to beginners and educate them on what things are important and what things aren’t very important. Below are the more common sources of confusion and misunderstanding that newcomers to resistance training share.

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