Demystifying the Deadlift

The deadlift is one of the most fundamental movement patterns in training to get stronger. I would love to tell you all the science behind why the deadlift is such a great movement, but the truth is that there are many articles on the internet that do this far better than I can. The real reason that I love the deadlift and work to get all my clients to the stage that they can deadlift properly is due to the fact that we live in a time where men and women are throwing their backs out picking up their kids or keys.

The deadlift, when performed correctly of course, is the most efficient way to pick something up off the ground. As such I tell all my clients that the movement patterns that they learn in the gym should apply to all of the movement they do outside of it. There is no difference in how I pick up my keys after dropping them and how I pick up 200kg. One is just substantially slower than the other.

So, the aim of this article is to highlight some of my pet hates in the deadlift and see if we can get your deadlift looking as sexy as it possibly can!

It’s and deadlift, not a squat! – 

During the eternal search for a braced and neutral spine, the most common fault that I see is people dropping their hips so low that they in essence drop in a squat whilst holding on to the bar. While your back may be flat, and yes you may be holding on tot he bar to deadlift. the fact is that you my friend are not doing anything that resembles a deadlift. The deadlift is a hinge movement, the squat is a squat. So many people seem get lost when I explain to them that they need to think of the deadlift as a hinge movement rather than a squat, which is understandable considering that both movements are very hip dominant in their mechanics. However, what I try to convey to my clients that the whereas the squat is an up and down movement, the deadlift is a push into the floor with the feet and a pull backwards with the upper back. The hips are just the hinge.

Start the deadlift in about a half-squat position with your shoulder blades over the barbell. If you start too low, the barbell will end up too far in front of your body, which causes you to literally hang out on the meat of your lower back,compromising your leverage. Thus leaving you in a much weaker position.

On the left we have a squat. On the right we have a deadlift.

On the left we have a squat start. On the right we have a deadlift start – Know the difference

Not fixing your base! – 

Foot position and stance is the most important part of the deadlift. As with building a house, you need to start with a firm foundation. The deadlift is no different.

Unless you are pulling sumo then start with a hip width stance and adjust as required. Very rarely do I see anyone whose stance is too narrow, but more often than not I see a base that is too wide. Not taking time to set your stance will affect not just the quality of your pull but also the positioning of your levers, putting you at a mechanical disadvantage.

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Check yourself before you wreck yourself

Shruggin’ and Tuggin’ – 

Ok, so while I have referred to the deadlift as a pull through pretty much the entirety of this blog, that doesn’t mean that you doing anything with your arms other than holding the bar in place. Too many people engage the arms and their traps while pulling, and this leads to a really messed up pull.

The reason for this is that for muscles to engage and move, other muscles have to shut off. By shrugging the weight you are simply decreasing the positional stability and tightness of your entire body, which can lead to really bad injuries. Bear in mine that the most common major injury associated with the deadlift is a bicep tear. Don’t be the guy or girl who tries to shrug and curl 140kg. It will end badly.

Don't be the guy on the left

Don’t be the guy on the left

Too fast. Too furious – 

Ok, this one is well and truly my biggest pet hates. Don’t jerk the bar off the floor! Attempting to rip the weight off the floor is more often than not is a recipe for disaster, and the last thing I want is for you to feel the ‘aster’.

Now, there are special individuals who can, and do, rip the weight off the floor at incredible speed, but these guys and girls are freaks, and chances are you cant do it. Honestly though, don’t worry cause neither can I. Check out Dan Green putting the ‘rip’ in ripping weight off the floor.

You need to think of the initial pull like going through the gears on a car. No one would jump straight from first to fifth gear, and the deadlift is no different. Try pulling all the slack out of the bar by building power from the floor and prioritising position. Dan Green is one of the most dynamic pullers in the game, but what he does is so far removed from what most normal humans can do that to try and copy him is pointless. Yes be fast, but only as fast as you can maintain position.

If you have read this and recognised any of these as mistakes that you are making, then scale back, take your time and remember – deadlifting right can save your life!

If you feel your deadlift needs a little more hands on attention then get in touch via the link below to book your free deadlift clinic >>>>>>>>>

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Stronger

Hand care for athletes!

The truth is that the state of your hands says a great deal about you as a person. It is common knowledge that if you take part in the strength game that you are going to end up dealing with callused hands, torn skin, and being a little rough around the edges. However, this doesn’t need to lead to you having a sandpaper handshake for the rest of your life.

Chalk can only get you so far!

Chalk can only get you so far!

So what exactly is a callus, and what causes them? Well calluses are very similar to blisters i the way that they are simply a separation of skin layers due to friction, with a subsequent fluid build up underneath them. Once they have dried and hardened then they become full blown calluses. They are caused by friction against the skin by another surface. Calluses are common for workmen, rock climbers and strength athletes given the amount of resistance activity they have to undertake with their hands.

Short of a world record, nothing is worth this.

Short of a world record, nothing is worth this.

The fact is that skin trauma to the hands is an inevitable part of strength training, but while many like to view their calluses as marks of pride, the truth is that there is nothing beneficial about having hands like a cliff side. If calluses tear, they are actually pretty messy and can cause you to develop some mega rips in your hands. Tears to hands are some of the most common and most easily avoided injuries in lifting, and Rebellion Strength is going to teach you the secret of having strong, yet healthy hands.

1.Wear Gloves –

HA! Just kidding! Sort of…

If overly manly man says it, it must be true!

If overly manly man says it, it must be true!

2. Train your grip –

The truth is that the movement of the bar against the skin that causes a shift in the hand that leads to skin being stretched. The harder you squeeze the bar the harder it is going to be for the bar to move around in the centre of your grip. The fact is that a great number of lifters that I have seen in my time as a PT simply don’t understand how much force is actually needed to have a strong grip. More often than not I find myself having to use the cue, “choke the bar” to actually get my clients to engage their grip fully. Add more time under tension by adding in pause reps to help develop your grip and above all else – squeeze the bar!

3.Use Straps –

Ok, this time I am not joking. While straps get a bad rap as an easy way out of lifting big weights ‘correctly’, just like anything else if they are used appropriately then they can save your hands a great deal of stress in your workouts. I like to cycle the use of straps in and out of my workouts in order to give my hands a chance to recover while still getting in enough work to develop my lifts. People tell you that straps are cheating, but as far as I am concerned they are just a tool to help you get towards your goals faster and with healthier hands.

4. Actually take care of your hands –

Ladies are pretty good at this. So chaps, stand up and take note! There is nothing sexy about hands that can snag a pair of your best gals tights, so sort it out. Sack up and go into boots and buy a pumice stone. Then go into Lush and get a hand moisturiser than will absorb into the skin and help your skin stay strong. Bad moisturiser sits on the first layer of skin and isn’t absorbed into the other deeper layers of skin, these are what you wan to avoid, so go in and ask the Lush ladies if they can help you. Once you have these essential items get home soak your hands in water and use the pumice stone to smooth out your calluses. From there wash of what ever lose skin has been worn away and then moisturise your hands to make sure that the skin heals cleanly and smoothly. If the site where the callus was is jagged its just going to tear again.

The final form of a person’s character lies in their own hands.” – Anne Frank

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Stronger.

The Daily Rebel – Cleans, hang cleans, and clean pulls, a.k.a – The worst workout ever!

Hey Rebels!

Well, I have to say it has been a long time coming, but today was the worst workout I have had in a very, very, very (did I say very?) long time!

In my mind, I looked like this... I didn't.

In my mind, I looked like this… I didn’t.

Here is what I had planned to do today:

Cleans and Jerk: 1 x 1RM (work up until the Jerk started to feel heavy)

Clean: 1 x 1RM / 3 x 1@80-90%

Hang clean: 3 x 3@90%

Clean Pull: 1 x 3RM / 1 rep every minute on the minute for ten minutes @3RM

Pull up’s: 4 x max reps

What actually happened was me failing left right and centre at weights that should have been easy, and not being able to stay co-ordinated through any of the movements.

My training delusion continued as I tried to pull like this guy!

My training delusion continued as I tried to pull like this guy!

However, while this workout may have been a failure, it was not a waste of time. There is no such thing as a wasted workout. You simply need to disengage from the over emotional attachment that you have to having a ‘good workout’. 

Just as the tide ebbs and flows, and the summer gives way to autumn, you are going to have bad workouts. As surely as death and taxes, it is going to happen. So learn to accept it and let go Even if you do everything right in regards to recovery and nutrition, you still sometimes perform less than admirably. So take it for what it was, a fluke, and get on with your training and your life. The worst thing that a bad workout can do is ruin the next one.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan Allport

Clean Pull: 1 x 3RM / 10 x 1 (1 minute rest inbetween)

Training Vs. Practice

Take a look at any sport. Whether it is performance, individual, or team based, they all have one thing in common, they have a very unique understanding of the difference between training and practice. True, with sports which are skill orientated rather than purely performance based, i.e football vs. the 100m dash, there is an even greater distinction between ‘training’, and ‘practice’ due to the differentiation between the time spent ‘practicing’ the skill of their sports, and the time spent developing the physical aspects during the Strength and Conditioning ‘training’.

Technique and movement quality have to come first.

Technique and movement quality have to come first.

However, within the world of physical and athletic development the current paradigm presents us with a problem. We don’t teach our athletes to view their gym time as a time of skill acquisition and ‘practice’. Anyone who has spent time surfing the interwebs looking at training videos – you know who you are! – has probably seen some incredible feats of strength and endurance from athletes that have some horrendous technique, but they are still great athletes, but the real question is this, how long can they keep themselves that way, and how can we make them better?

power_clean_380

This guy is a probably a great athlete, but this is not a great power clean.

Whenever the weightlifting teams at California Strength and MDUSA finish their sessions, their coaches say, ‘Good practice everyone!’. This speaks volumes to me as, while the sport of weightlifting is a special case due to its nature as a performance based sport, they are focused on making sure that the time they spend getting stronger is time spent attempting to become as technically proficient as possible the allow for the greatest carry over to their performance as athletes.

maxresdefault

You need good technique in order to support this kind load!

While I am aware that using these elite weightlifters as an example may not speak to the everyday athletes out there, we as coaches must seek to break that barrier. If a training methodology does not scale both up and down, from the greatest athletes to the worst, then it is a broken system and needs to be updated or repaired. Skill acquisition must be placed first. It is the foundation upon which all other physical attributes are formed. Strength is useless without the ability to move efficiently and apply that strength.

So, what we need to do as coaches is implement a shift in the way in which we teach our athletes and clients to think of the time they spend training with us, as well as the way in which they perceive their own progress. Training or practice is measured in progress, but a big bug bear of mine is the fact that we only seem to teach people progress in terms of weight on the bar, not in terms of speed, efficiency, or movement quality. While I am all for people shooting for the moon and getting as strong as they can be, this ‘balls to the wall’ style of training is not maintainable for the vast majority of everyday athletes or for that matter a smart way to go about things. It breeds the mentality that record hunting is the only way that we can measure progress and this leads to a competition mentality that causes people to sacrifice movement quality for the sake of a new PR.

The stronger you are, the greater the buffer between you and injury, but this only applies so far before you hit a point of diminishing returns. The risk vs. reward aspect of advancing before you are technically ready is always risky, and will only work for so long before injury or structural breakdown. There is a time and place for pushing your boundaries, but this must be done in the safest possible way to make sure that the buffer against injury is at its greatest.

Being a great athlete is what allows Brian Cushings to keep playing one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. This applies to you just as much as it does to anyone else.

Being a great athlete is what allows Brian Cushings to keep playing one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. This applies to you just as much as it does to anyone else.

Push for strength, push for improvement, but measure improvement as more than just load on the bar. Widen your horizons and understand that there is more to progress than the current paradigm of gym culture tells you there is.

To find out how you can get strong and realise your inner athlete just click the link below.

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

The Daily Rebel!

11/12/14 – Let it go

I am sure you are as sick of hearing ‘Let it go’ as much as I am, but that crazy girl with the ice powers does have a point. The truth is that we all get so emotionally attached to what does not go according to plan in our lives that any deviation from our perception of what we deem to be our expectations. The fact is that some days are just better than others and we need to learn as a species to hold ourselves accountable for our bad days, but embrace the good days when they happen. After all, its just a bad day!

It is not the end of the world when things go your way, in fact, a wise man once told me that there are no lessons learnt in victory but a thousand to be learnt in defeat. Well I definitely learnt a lesson today. I had spent the entire day gearing up to deadlift 200kg for a double, and I failed. At earlier points in my life I would have let this get to me mentally and would have let it affect me negatively for the rest of my session. instead all I did was take a few deep breaths, remember that I am only human, that failure in inevitable, and then I moved on with the rest of my day.

IMG_20141211_230239


Deadlift

– work up to a beltless 2RM

-work to a belted 2RM

– 3×3 on 20kg less than your belted 2RM

Bent over rows

– 4 x 12

Pull ups

– 5 x max reps + 1 x max reps strip set of straight arm cable pull downs.

Bicep curls

– 3 x 20


Make sure that you are not so caught up in your own self inflated expectations that you forget that you are only human and that you will fail, but in failure you will find the lessons that you need in order to progress and to move forward not just in the gym but outside of it.

To find out how you can get strong and realise your inner athlete just click the link below.

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Please follow the website and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

The Daily Rebel!

4/12/14 – The journey of a coach

I want to talk to you about what I believe to be the coaches journey, and your place on it. First off, I want to tell you that I hate the world ‘trainer’, and while that is what it says on my business card and on my professional qualifications, I have always identified more with the title of ‘coach’ and there is a reason for this. You see, when I say ‘trainer’ it conjures up images of a man/women in a polo shirt holding a clip-board telling you, “five more reps”, or “just 10 more minutes”. Well I am here to tell you that the type of fitness professional should be have been retired with the spandex leotards and leg warmers of the 80’s and early 90’s.

A ‘coach’ is not your trainer. A ‘coach’ is not your program writer. Your coach is someone who is trying to make you better in every single way that you can be better. A coach wants you to be a better athlete, a better father, brother, mother, son, and everything else in between. Your coach is someone who holds you accountable and makes you want to be accountable to yourself. Your coach is someone who cares about what goes on in your life outside of the gym and how it is effecting you on not just a physical, but also an emotional and spiritual level. Diane Fu wrote a fantastic article on defining progress for the Barbell Shrugged crew on how she defined the term ‘better’, and this really resinated with me.

IMG_5625-1

Diane Fu – One of my greatest influences

The structure that Diane laid out was based on a holistic view of improvement in the athlete, which clearly inspired much of what I am talking about, but this is not a view of what it means to be a ‘coach’ that is unique to Coach Fu. All the greatest teacher, coaches and gurus all share this view and, while they have different methods of getting this across, they all care about you and your place within the relationship that you both share. The relationship between any teacher and student is a dynamic one that is exciting and in constant flux. Sparks fly, ideas are shared and development happens on both fronts. A true student teacher relationship develops both parties, leading to the gap between the student and teacher lessening, with the balance of knowledge shared shifting towards the pupil rather than the teacher till eventually, the student becomes the master, and the teacher is once again a student. This state of flux in can be found in the dynamic of many relationships, and it is how we keep developing and progressing not just as individuals, but as a species.

I will be the first person to say that I want to make money, and I want to make lots of it. I want to make enough so that if my computer breaks, I can get it fixed and not have to worry about making rent. I want to make sure that I can travel the world and put more money into my development as a professional but also as a person. I want to make sure that if I am lucky enough to have a wife and beautiful children that I will never have to worry about them going without. All of this my friends is not possible without money, but what I want from my business as a coach is to get rid of all my clients. I don’t want my clients to need me, and I want them surpass me not just as an athlete, but also as a coach in their own right.

You may look at this and think, ‘Wow. Now there is a recipe for a failing business”, but the truth is that I want my clients to be a small part of my overall business, and I want them to flourish as people. Only by having them flourish can I be sure that not only are they going to truly progress as people and athletes, but also that they are going to go on in their lives and make sure that they positively effect the lives of other. This in turn will allow them to grown and bring me more knowledge and allow me to provide a better service to my future clients, which more often than not, will have come from my news mentors and one time clients.

If you have something to off you will always have people willing to learn, but a teacher who only has his students follow behind him walks with no one in front of him and perceives himself to be alone. A teacher who pushes his students to walk beside him, and then to one day walk in front of him is never alone, and is truly aware of his place in the circle of life, knowledge, and personal development.

Owen Hubbard, one of the strongest humans in the world today, and someone I feel blessed to have trained with and to view as a friend taught me how to sumo deadlift, and today I messed up my sumo deadlifts. I still managed to pull a 20kg PR but the mechanics where all over the shop and my back position was less than optimal. Now, Owen was a great teacher and gave me a great insight into the mechanics of the lift but the truth is, I suck at the lift.  My faults are entirely my own and have nothing to do with Owens coaching, but thanks to his coaching I am capable of looking at my movement and seeing where I am going wrong and where I can improve, and boy do I have a lot to improve regarding my sumo pull.


Sumo deadlift

– work up to a 2RM

– 3 x 3 @20kg less than your 2RM

Deficit stiff leg deadlift

– 4 x 5

Pull ups

4 x max reps + 1 x strip set of Lat pulldowns

Bicep curls 

– 4 x 10


So please, take this away with you if you take nothing else away with you from this article. Be a ‘coach’ to someone. Help people to develop holistically and allow them to transition from walking behind you, to walking with you and to one day in front of you, guiding you in the next stage of your journey.

Please follow the website and follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

The Daily Rebel!

29/11/14 – PR’s and Mocking Jays

So first off, this is gonna be a short one as I have a date with Jennifer Lawrence reprising her role as Katniss Everdeen in the latest instalment of the Hunger Games Trilogy. Mmm… bows and catsuits.

Any ways – the second thing is that I just PR’d my deadlift by a whole 5kg! This takes my lifetime PR to a mere 205kg and I could not be happier.  I have talked before about how in this day and age of leviathan like feats of strength how defunct the colloquial understanding of what it means to be ‘Strong’ has become and yet, despite all of that, man – I felt strong as hell!

The deadlift has always been a lift that has had an emotional connection with me. As many of you know, and as many more of you dont know. I was a horrendously fat, unconfident and socially awkward child. I remember being given packed lunches on school outings to share and eating them all to myself because I had no friends to share them with which, with hindsight being 20/20 and all, probably didn’t help my cause much. Any who, when I decided that I was going to really start hitting the gym and getting in shape so that the ladies and my peers would finally start taking notice of who I was, or at least the person I was trying to project to them, I remember seeing a PE teacher at my school doing a deadlift and thinking, “Wow!”.

There was just something so primal about the deadlift, something just so basic and raw that it spoke to me. I believed that if you could pick up enough weight off the floor, then you could pick yourself up after anything. In many ways I still do believe that. Though the body may have changed, I guess deep down I am still that fat child looking to be strong enough to have the courage to be himself, but also be more than the person that I was at the time. So I asked this teacher to teach me the deadlift. Now, at 17 I thought that having a 1RM deadlift of 100kg was pretty damn amazing – I wasnt aware of the Russians  or the Chinese at this point – and I considered myself to be one of the strongest kids in my school year and, funnily enough, that didn’t make me feel any better. I had this image of my life improving if I just could get people to see a cooler, stronger, more athletic side of me and, shockingly, when it didn’t I was crushed.

I flitted in and out of the gym over the next few years, not really getting back into lifting until I was 19 when I ‘found myself’ in the iron. Amidst the clanging of plates and the rattling of barbells I found myself born anew. I no longer cared what the world thought, what my friends though, only what I thought. For the first time I felt strong enough to be the person I knew I could be and picked myself up and got back to work, and it all started at Daves Gym in Cardiff, the one place that I truly considered home during my time as a student, and what was the first lift I performed at Daves? The deadlift.

I cried the day that I first ripped 200kg off the floor. I was 22 and cried alone in my room, not because I was sad, but because I finally felt like I was a man, and that I had got there. I had done it. I was never alone in this endeavour and I thank all my friends and team mates for inspiring me and making me stronger, but I moved that weight, and a man who can move himself can move the world. That was the day I realised that strength was my true calling, so here today I bring to you my workout from today. I hope it brings you as much luck as it did me.


  • Deadlift

– 8 x 1 (I took small jumps and peaked out for the last set)

  • Sumo Deadlift

– 15 x 3 on the minute @50

  • Bent Over Row

–  4 x 13 + 1 burn-out set of TRX Rows

  • Pull ups

– 5 x max reps

  • Long arm cable pull downs

– 4 x 20 + 1 strip set down to the bar


So I wish you all the best of luck. Get after your workout and rip that bar off the floor like someone is trying to steal it from you.

May the odds be ever in your favour!

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Squat, everyday… LIKE A BOSS!!!!!

So there is a little confusion out there on the interwebs regarding the difference between the conjugate max effort method and the Bulgarian method. As such I thought that I would throw my two cents into the mix and see what happens. The “Conjugate” method was developed in the former Soviet Union by Dr Zatsiorsky, writer of “Science and Practice of Strength Training”, in an attempt to create a program which would allow for the maximal development of the Soviet Union’s athletes. There was obvious success with this considering the consistent domination of the Soviet Union within the fields of athletics, wrestling and weightlifting during the Cold War period. The ‘Conjugate’ method essentially highlights that the aim of training is to increase the rate at which athletes can fire their synapses and express their power via athletic movements.
Power, ultimately, is the expression of ones maximal strength at speed. Athletic movements such as jumping are a key example of ones expression of power. To jump onto a box requires the strength to propel ones mass of the ground, but if we try and jump on to the box slowly… what happens?… that’s right, it can’t be done. We need speed in order to jump onto a box, however, to jump onto a bigger box, we need an increase in strength. As we can see strength and speed are the basic components of power. Zatsiorsky understood that these two aspects of power need to be trained with separate training modalities. Maximal strength increase occurs when working in an upper intensity range, namely 80-95% of your 1RM, speed is increased when working in a lower intensity range of 40-60% of your 1RM, thus allowing you to train the rate at which your CNS responds. However, the issue that Zatsiorsky found was that training at 90% over an extended period of time led too the overall decrease in the rate of CNS response and maximal strength. As such this lead to the development of micro-cycle’s of 3 weeks during which an athlete would focus on working on a single upper body lift and a single lower body lift, splitting the week into two maximal effort training days, and two dynamic effort training days, one for the upper and one lower body. After those 3 weeks the athlete would switch the lift.
Donny Shankle, coached by Glen Pendlay at the MDUSA facility uses the “Bulgarian” method
Louie Simmons, of Westside Barbell fame, uses a variation of the ‘Conjugate’ method to produce athletes that have given Westside the reputation as one of the strongest gyms in the world. Now, I know what your all saying, “but Louie’s guys are on everything under the sun!”, well…yeah! However, using roids is a card that you can flip only once, and even though most of these guys have chosen to flip that card, they keep getting stronger.
Louie in all his glory!
Now, the “Conjugate” method didn’t just come into being, it had its roots in what has come to be known as the “Bulgarian” training system due to its implementation of said program by the Bulgarian Weight Lifting team. Their coach, Abadjieve, had his athletes max out in a variety of lifts which he deemed would improve their Olympic lifting, up to 4 times a day, everyday. He would stagger this training scheme into two macro-cycles, a loading month in which three weeks would be trained at a high intensity and a week of lower intensity. This would then be followed by a deloading month in which three lower intensity weeks would be followed by a week of high intensity training. Abadjieve would have his athletes squatting, amongst other movements, everyday… MADNESS!!!!
Like I said, MADNESS!!!
However, there is a method in the madness, and the method is both physiological and psychological. The more training sessions means a greater number of growth cycles, leading to more transient spikes in Testosterone production, but wait, there’s more! Who ever told you that practice makes perfect… well I hate to break it to you but they lied. In truth, its perfect practice that makes perfect, and perfection is what we are looking at when we speak of training to a ‘max’. When we think of maximal training we think of training to the limit of our intensity, training to the point where we are listening to death metal, psyching up and snorting ammonia like its fine Columbian booger sugar. In the “Bulgarian” training system no such psyching up is required, if you’re doing it then you are doing the training wrong. Once your form has broken, that’s your lot done. The more perfect reps you get under your belt, the greater your skill becomes, and the more efficient the motor pattern associated with that skill becomes. It also makes you mentally tough, its not an easy training system, in fact Abadjieve was recorded stating that if an athlete of his broke is was due to mental weakness as opposed to physical injury or fatigue.

While the max out methodology makes sense from a strength building perspective, people worry that this kind of intense training is going to make you experience adrenal fatigue, force you to enter a state of overtraining, and prevent you from gaining muscle. Well I hate to tell you this but all those excuses make you sound like a sniper using bollocks for ammunition, but it’s not your fault! All training conventions point to this conclusion, that is however if we use our metal listening, ammonia snorting definition of max as opposed to the ironically softer Bulgarian definition. When we use the latter definition of max things become a bit more sensible. Due to the habituation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal response to stress, the body releases fewer stress hormones in response to stressors that is experienced regularly before. This is why you don’t psyche up in the “Bulgarian” system , as to do so would lead to a greater risk of burnout, and allow your hormonal responses to adapt to the frequency of maxing out everyday. In regards to the idea that you wont gain muscle on this system… ooh what’s that I hear a sniper reloading! The fact is that while I will admit that the system runs counter to bodybuilding convention, the fact of the matter is that maxing out everyday, and working a body part once of twice a week are two very different things. The latter allows for 72 hours of recovery time. The reason that the “Bulgarian” system works for size as well as strength is that as you don’t push as close to exhaustion you can recover quicker and stress your muscles more frequently, eliciting a greater number of growth cycles.

Dmitry Klokov has had no issue getting jacked by skipping curls and leg extensions
A sample of a bulgarian style program for a powerlifter would like a little something like the following:
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Squat: 1 RM
Bench: 1RM
Dead: 10 x 1 (70-75%)
Squat: 1RM
Bench: 1RM
Bench: 1 RM
Squat: 1RM
Press: 1RM
Bench: 1RM
Squat: 1RM
Rotational work
Rowing / Pulling
Rotational work
Rowing / pulling
Core / Vanity

 

 

 

 

Simple as it looks, the essence of the “Bulgarian” method is simple; do more, more often, at high intensity. Zatsiorsky describes high intensity as being any lift over 90% of your 1RM. If you head to the gym and perform a 2RM at 95+% of your 1RM back squat you are training a functional movement as high intensity. If you come back next week and perform a 1RM at 97.5-105% of your 1RM front squat, you are performing a constantly varied functional movement, done at high intensity (TAKE THAT CROSSFIT!!!).

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan

For any information or questions regarding the blog, or for any information regarding my services as a Personal Trainer, please contact me via my Facebook Page, Twitter, Email, or in the comment section below.

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Email: rebellionstrengthhq@gmail.com

A Boy Scout is always prepared!

 

Ok, so this blog is not about the Boy scouts (not a fan of their uniform) nor is this blog just about boys, it’s about children. Now, one thing that the Scouts do have going for them is that they teach kids to always be prepared. So, if these kids get the importance of preparedness, why don’t we?  So, I know its early on in the blog, but I can imagine that your thinking, “were the hell is he going with this?!’, well, I’m gonna tell you. I love working with kids, I find it fascinating to see how these young athletes have the potential to develop into the stars of tomorrow, but the thing that strikes me right between the eyes, is that these kids have such a broad range of not only athletic abilities, but muscular imbalances, coordination issues and just generally being in a bad athletic state in regards to their neuromuscular efficiency.

Now it’s a fact that as we get older we start to lose certain movement patterns due to a decrease neuromuscular efficiency and firing rate, but also due to certain muscular imbalances which we develop through a number of factors, some physical, some cultural, i.e. Asian people who traditionally defecate into holes in the ground have a much more developed squat movement pattern, as opposed to us in the west who have no need to squat to a full range of motion. However, what we are seeing is that this is happening at a rapid rate within children. Now, called me old fashioned but I don’t think that children should have the hip mobility of old men with arthritis.

Babies… they know their stuff!!

So what is causing all this? Well, its no great secret that life is a damn sight less active for all of us, especially the younglings, than it used to be, as such we are not developing physical strength and coordination from the ‘Primal Movement Patterns’, or PMP’s for ease of writing, which we experience in everyday life, i.e. squatting to defecate, climbing up trees, hauling around carcasses after a hunt etc. . Be warned you’re going to be hearing about these a lot from me.

As such the physical development of children, and to the same extent adults, is not occurring as fast as we would like. When we turn this theory to our imbalanced young athletes, what we are seeing is that they are growing up during their early developmental years playing a wide variety of sports, however not enough emphasis is being placed on developing these kids to the point were they are ready to play these sports safely, i.e we are not developing their training ages. This is not to say that kids need to pass some kind of physical testing in order to play little league, but proper programming should be installed to make sure that these kids have ‘General Physical Preparedness’ GPP, (yep, you’re gonna be hearing this one too), rather than just sport specific movement patterns which are going to cause imbalances, a key example being gymnasts and their arched back and rounded shoulders or tennis players and their underdeveloped posterior chains.

So what can you expect from your kids if they have a lack of strength, a sense of developed coordination, and an inability to express the fullness of their physical potential, e.g. being able to cut and change their running direction without their knees shooting into a valgus angle? INJURIES!!! Yep, that’s right, injuries, but before any parents out their pull their kids out of Rugby club, hold fire!

A little known fact is that the majority of sports related injuries are non-contact in nature. In adolescent youth, many of who have started hitting the weight room to improve themselves as athletes, the most common soft tissue injury areas are the trunk and the posterior chain. Research suggests that this is due to muscular imbalance, excessive loading, and improper technique when lifting. The question is present to you is this. Would these injuries occur as frequently if our children where educated from a younger age in what is, and what is not good movement?

WHOA THERE!!! I see you parents pulling kids out of their gym sessions by their ears screaming, “It’s for your own good!” I have a few fun facts for you. Now, while no strength program is a simple matter, with children the matter is more complicated, however the outlandish claims that people make about the so called ‘dangers’ of strength training are just plain bogus. The belief that strength training leads to injury in pre-adolescents due to the fact that their growth plates have not fully formed. However, once again, this is bogus.

The NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) ‘Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research’ noted that in the past injury data was compiled from emergency room data. However, this data is compiled from patient reports of injury from resistance training. These self reported injuries give no data regarding what lifting technique or weight was used, the level of the injured persons experience, whether or not they were supervised, had they had previous coaching etc. with so much crucial data left out how can we say that its strength training which has led to these injuries when a vast majority seem to be due to improper technique or coaching. Remember, anything is dangerous if not done properly.

Also, while on the subject of injuries I just want to put this out there, strength training is actually good for your bones and will not stunt the growth of children if used in an appropriate manner. Assuming that specific training and nutrition parameters are met, strength training will maximize bone mineral density in children and adolescents. In 2003 a research review on the effects of training on grown and bone mineral density found no evidence of detrimental effects on linear growth in youth. Resistance training increases the production of IGF-1 (Insulin like growth factor), a hormone that triggers protein synthesis and supports the effects of growth hormone, A second review from 2006 supported the conclusion that weight training is beneficial, and noted that resistance training did not influence growth in high nor weight in pre-adolescent youth, primarily due to the low T-levels in contrast to their adolescent and post-adolescent piers.

This brings us onto programming for young athletes. First thing to point out is this, all things which strengthen the body can be considered strength training, so when I talk about kids and strength training, please don’t picture me yelling at a 6 year old to squat 3x his/her bodyweight. So what factors should be considered when developing a strength program for the young athlete?

  1. The best weight is body weight. In regards of absolute strength gains and hypertrophic factors, post puberty adolescents make greater gains than the prepubescent kids due to the T-levels previously mentioned. The prepubescent kids however, made great gains in stability and performance due to the improvements in the neuromuscular strength, specifically in motor unit and PMP coordination and CNS firing rate. Get them moving in their own skins using PMP’s which are going to improve their overall coordination and applicable strength i.e. squats, lunges, press ups, pull ups etc. Just by moving kids are going to get stronger whatever it is that they do. Primal man didn’t need a gym to get strong. The world he waled was his training centre!

  1. Observe and adjust according to natural growth spurts. Youth athletes need distinct programming due to the fact that improvements in athletic performance are non linear. They are based on biological age and there is typically a rapid fluctuation between in physical performance based on this age. Children physically mature at different rates, we all know that kid that’s 14 and looks 10, and that 16 year old who looks like he could pass for 20+. With this in mind research shows that between 7-17 kids go through periods of accelerated physical improvements and decreased performance that follows identifiable age related trends, typically occurring before and after peak growth spurts.

    The age groups of 10-11, and 12-13 were identified as periods of accelerated adaptation, the larger improvement between 12-13 is to make up for the decrease between 11-12, a period were we experience that ‘adolescent awkwardness’. As such the younger the kids are, generally the better their motor recruitment is in regards to their ability to perform certain PMP’s, and certainly are able to pick them up quickly and develop their coordination to the point of conscious actions become subconscious actions. The older we get, the harder and harder it becomes to improve our coordination to the point of subconscious action.

  1.  Avoid specialization at an early age. Periodization is key to maintaining progress. Variety over specialization is preferred for children as it will reduce the likely-hood of repetitive stress injuries and the development of muscular imbalances within kids. There is evidence to support that the most successful athletes go through three stages of development. Typically they play a variety of sports during the ‘sampling years’ of 6-12. A period of lesser varieties of sports with a tendency towards specialization during the ‘specialization years’ of 13-16, followed by the commitment to one sport during the ‘investment years’ of 16 onwards. Specialization at a young age can lead to muscular imbalances due to repetitive motor recruitment, brining us back to our gymnasts and tennis players. Even during the later stages of the ‘investment years’ renown Strength and Conditioning coach Eric Cressy, who primarily works with Baseball players, tells his athletes to get the bat and ball out of their hands for 3 months out of the year and do something else. He reminds his athletes that the off-season is there for a reason.

So, in short, what we are facing now with children is a simple case of too much sport and not enough basic strength work to improve their GPP. While this is no simple matter to resolve, it’s a situation that can be dealt with via introducing kids to basic strength training and PMP’s to make them well rounded and equally developed. These not only develops them better as athletes, but also allows them to play the sports they love for longer and enjoy a better quality of life with fewer injuries as a result of having a stronger body. Please feel free to leave any comments, ask any questions, and call me up on anything that you think I may have got wrong and we can have a good debate about it

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan

For any information or questions regarding the blog, or for any information regarding my services as a Personal Trainer, please contact me via my Facebook Page, Twitter, Email, or in the comment section below.

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Twitter

Email: rebellionstrengthhq@gmail.com