IT’S ALL A GAME…

The horrible truth is that all of this fitness business really starts with a promise.

A promise to expect more from yourself than you currently do.

To hold yourself to a higher standard than you currently do.

To unapologetically and without a shred of compromise live the rest of your life as the strongest version of yourself.

I say this is a horrible truth because promises are scary. That’s why we have such a hard time keeping them with other people, but more importantly with ourselves.

This seemly gargantuan promise of committing to a better life isn’t actually one promise but a series of promises that you hold yourself accountable to each and every day.

And with that in mind, lets take a look at what I have come to refer to as the ‘Game of Promises’.

So, yes. It is a massive Game of Thrones rip off… but hey – I said I was passionate, not inventive.

And at the risk of belabouring the point, the ‘Game of Promises’ is also played for keeps.

Promises, if nothing else, are simply an oath of accountability. I have mentioned time and time again, accountability is the foundation of compliance. And compliance is the foundation of success.

No one ever got the body they wanted by accident.

But no one ever got the life they wanted by accident either.

In older and some might say wiser times, an oath meant everything. To break an oath to ones brothers, family, kinsman, or lord, would result in shame, banishment, and sometimes even death.

But the presence of a life built around oaths created an opportunity for amazing feats of strength and loyalty.

In Japan there is a story of forty seven samurai who upon the murder of their master, took ritual vengeance in his name, declared themselves to be Ronin (masterless samurai) and took their own lives in Seppuku. Rather than be dishonoured, and forced to serve another masters.

“The story tells of a group of samurai who were left leaderless (becoming rōnin) after their daimyō (feudal lord) Asano Naganori was compelled to perform seppuku (ritual suicide) for assaulting a court official named Kira Yoshinaka, whose title was Kōzuke no suke. After waiting and planning for a year, the rōnin avenged their master’s honor by killing Kira. In turn, they were themselves obliged to commit seppuku for committing the crime of murder. This true story was popularized in Japanese culture as emblematic of the loyalty, sacrifice, persistence, and honor that people should preserve in their daily lives. The popularity of the tale grew during the Meiji era, in which Japan underwent rapid modernization, and the legend became entrenched within discourses of national heritage and identity.”Kanadehon, Columbia University

Now, while I am not expecting you to have a death and dishonour moment each time you reach into the cookie jar for a boredom snack, lets get one thing straight.

You have not evolved far beyond these forty seven men, who were so committed to the promises that they made in life, they were wiling to fulfil those promises even in death. That’s powerful.

Their commitment to extreme ownership of their promises and accountability to their code of conduct was so strong, that people from all of japan, and indeed the world, travel to the grave site of the forty seven Ronin to pay homage to their sense of honour and duty.

It fundamentally comes down to sticking to all the little promises and expectations that you set for yourself on the daily basis.

Don’t accept less from yourself than you do from the people around you.

Want to start losing that body fat? Commit to the promise that you will eat well and move more.

Want to feel strong for the first time in your life? Get out there and do something that challenges you to be strong. And promise you wont quit when the going gets tough.

Want to be the best partner that you can be to your significant other? Then promise that you will work on tearing down the walls that you put up so many years ago that stop you from truly connecting with another individual on a truly open and vulnerable level.

Everyone wants to make the big change. Everyone wants to turn their lives upside down with the next fad. The next craze. The next hip thing thats sweeping the nation and day time television. But the truth is this – that’s not how it works.

It starts by committing to your promises.Laying a foundation of success that bleeds into your life not just in a macro sense, but also in a micro sense.

You have to throw yourself into the ‘Game’ daily, and choose to win. Because if you break those promises that you made to yourself, and lose a day of living as the best version of you – you chose that.

For my final words I want you the reader to meditate on a final thought.

“Virtuosity is not the art of mastering the uncommon. Virtuosity is the art of uncommon mastery of common things.”

Go forth and become virtuosos of the ‘Game’ in your own lives.

Live with love, strength, and passion.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

I’VE BEEN THINKING…

It’s been a while.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since we last talked.

It’s not because I haven’t had anything to say. And, it’s not because you’ve done anything wrong. It’s just… I’ve been distracted.

I’ve been trying to figure out my place in this whole training / coaching space. And, let me tell you, in an industry of millionaire charlatans. That’s not an easy mirror to look in to.

I think it was Nietzche who said that one should always be wary of looking in to the abyss. Because whether you like it or not, the abyss will stare right back at you. Well… I looked. And sure enough it stared right back at me. Leaving me with more questions than answers.

Now, with the added clarity many months of self reflection, meditation, and becoming intimately acquainted with Holly Hindsight (What a bitch!). I have come to a series of conclusions regarding my goals in the fitness industry – and they concern you.

So over the next few weeks, I am going to reveal to you some of my thoughts and meditations on the fitness industry, and where I see the priorities of Rebellion Strength taking us all in this crazy, mixed up journey.

  1. Education First –

Something that I have found astounding is that the more I look into the actual nature of coaches in the fitness industry, the more I realise that we are simply teachers.

For those of you who have suddenly begun the lengthy process of rolling your eyes at this seemingly grandiose statement… bore off.

For the rest of you, bear with me.

I’m going somewhere with this.

The reality is that while many of our academic cohorts will chortle under their breath about how “those that can’t do coach”. The fact of the matter is that whether we care to view ourselves this way or not. We as coaches are teachers to our clients. Who, for all intensive purposes, are our wards.

We are responsible for them and their development. And, if was are going to accept that role and responsibility. Then we also need to accept that, as with all teacher student relationships. There is going to come an inevitable end point to our time together.

This means that once your client takes their first steps into this new stage of life. The kind of person they are in this new chapter of their journey is a direct reflection of the impact that you have had on their growth as a human being.

So if you turn out a grown ass adult that has an adults bank account, but the nutritional self control of a five year old who’s been under dosing their ritalin… you my friend fucked up.

I don’t want to be part of an industry that puts the destination before the journey.

I don’t want to be part of an industry that’s happy to starve someone down to their desired bodyweight. But let them loose back into the dietary wilds with no tangible knowledge on how to actively keep themselves healthy.

I don’t want to be part of an industry that doesn’t take the responsibility of educating their clients towards becoming healthier people for life seriously.

So with that in mind – I’m not going to be.

I am going to stand apart from the crowd and actively put the education of my clients first and foremost. If that means that they reach a point that they don’t “need” me any more. Then I know, hand on heart, that I have done a good job. And more importantly, done right by them. Laying the foundations for them to move forward with a healthier relationship with exercise, food, and themselves.

It might not be good business to create a system in which your clients out grow you. But your students can’t stay in school forever.

I truly believe that if you keep growing and developing the value and service that you bring to your clients. They themselves will grow to the point where, while they no longer need you, they will still “want” you. Because you bring so much more to their lives than simply tracking their macros or counting their reps.

You provide for them a connection to something that makes them better people. Both inside and outside of the gym.

And that my friends, is something that is priceless.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

 

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 – Jerks and Back squats

Well, it’s been a while. With starting the business and taking the time away from blogging to free up time to generate more leads and clients, I feel that it is time that I came back to the blogosphere and touch base with my Rebels on a more regular basis.

To that end, I am glad to say that the Daily Rebel is now back in full swing, but with a twist. You will still get the great workouts, the great tips and content, but it will only be on the days that I am training from now on. So dont get worried if there is a day or two in the week where you dont get a workout from me, I am just recovering and putting more time back into the business.

So, whats on the docket today? Me hitting the 100 club!

This was a huge milestone for me as my jerk has been probably the thing that I have struggled with the most in regards to my overhead strength. This is largely due to the fact that in the jerk one is moving from a position from high stability, to a low stability transition position, and then back to a position of high stability – provided you can find it.

So, to that end, here was my workout for the day:

A1) Jerk – 1 x 1@100% / 3 x 1@ 80-90%

B1) Back Squat: Work up to a heavy triple beltless*

* I had competed over the weekend so I just wanted to grease the groove and get back into heavyish squatting.

C1) Pull ups: 4 x max

C2) Seated row: 4 x 8-12 @60kg

D1) Lateral raise: 4 x 15

E2) Dips: 3 x max

F) Resistance band face pulls: 100 reps in as few sets as possible

If you are like me and struggle getting overhead, here are my top tips to getting stronger when pressing overhead:

1. Have strong triceps – Have you ever seen a good presser with small triceps? Didn’t think so. Besides filling out your tshirt and giving you a sick pair of pipes, having strong triceps is going to strengthen the stability of your elbow and increase your ability to press with more power.

2. Work on your shoulders and upper back – These muscles are your prime stabilisers when getting overhead, so make sure that they are big and strong so they can handle a greater load.

3. Spend more time over head – Just try and spend more time pressing overhead for as much of your shoulder/pressing work as possible. The fact is that while the standing shoulder press and the seated shoulder press are both shoulder dominant exercises, the total body demands of simply being upright and standing will transfer over far greater to your overall strength than simply sitting down.

I hope this helps you get stronger overhead, and if you have anymore questions, just get in touch via the contact us page.

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

Rogan Allport

The coach’s responsibility

I feel like I need to get something out in the open, I am sick of hearing about ‘movement mechanics training’ or ‘sports specific training’ when it comes to athletes because more often than not, these terms are misunderstood and misused by strength coaches at large. Sports Mechanics is a very unique field and should be left to specialists. The simple fact is that while I am very much in support of making each and every athlete better at their sport, that is not the job of the strength coach. That is the job of their sports coach, so do your job and make them better athletes!

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We are in the business of making athletes strong!

Too many of us in the coaching field are trying to be more than we are by attempting to move our knowledge in to fields that we are not qualified to speak on. If I take on a rugby player as a client, I am not going to start putting them into sports specific positional drills. Those muscles are already being worked in training and I sure as hell can’t teach them better than a qualified rugby coach. All your doing is exacerbating the issue at hand and not fulfilling your job description. Sure, your working towards making sure that the player snaps the ball marginally faster, but can they run faster, jump higher and change direction quicker? If not, then no one is going to care how fast he or she can offload the ball because the monster at the other end of the field is already closing in on them with a torpedo like pace.

TAKE THAT!

TAKE THAT!

We need to look at each individual sports requirements and make sure that we are tailoring what ever strength and conditioning that we are putting our athletes through directly corresponds to the demands of that sports. If your sport requires rotational force such as golf, make sure you stabilize the midline and work on the capability of the body to generate rotational force. If you’re a thrower, take it ones step further than work on the ability of the body to rotate and extend during the production of power.

Does your sport require agility and power, great! Lets work on the physical attributes that allow you to have agility and power, but lets make sure that we are doing this in a well thought out and methodical way. The aforementioned issue that I have with the way in which some strength coaches are training their athletes is that it is inappropriate not just in terms of the coaches primary function, namely as a strength coach, but also because its working on the top end of the ‘athletes pyramid’ model that I have discussed in previous works before.

To recap, if we think about ultimate athletic potential as a pyramid, we want to build the tallest, broadest pyramid possible and to do that we need to bare in mind that a pyramid can only be as tall as its base is wide. If we break down the pyramid into three sections we have general physical preparedness (GPP), special physical preparedness (SPP), and sports specific physical preparedness (SSPP).

General physical preparedness would be maximal strength, conditioning and bodily composition of the athlete. Special physical preparedness would be applying the athletes GPP within the context of either the time demands of the sport, the context of a movement pattern, or a set physical attribute that the sport requires. For example, max back squat for a wrestler would be GPP. Zercher squats, sand bag carries, or farmers walks would be SPP. Finally, the act of wrestling would be the SSPP, and this relies on the expertise of the wrestling coach, not you.

Zach Even-Esh has made a career taking kids who know how to wrestle, and making them wrestlers!

Zach Even-Esh has made a career taking kids who know how to wrestle, and making them wrestlers!

The long and short of this article is that you need to remember what your priority is when dealing with athletes. It is your job to make sure that your athletes become harder, better, faster, stronger, not to make them better at there specific sports skills. If you are doing your job right then everyone of their physical attributes that you develop will carry over to their abilities within their actual sports. Don’t try and teach a rugby player how to tackle, make them tackle harder. Don’t teach a runner how to run, make sure that they can physically withstand the mileage of their endurance training.

We as coaches have a duty of care, by not fulfilling our job description we are not just endangering our athletes but our reputations.

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.

5 Easy tips for getting leaner!

The fact is, weight loss is easy. Getting lean and in shape, now that is a different game entirely.

Eat less, do more, and you will burn off weight. It really is as simple as that. However, as any good lifter knows, losing weight is not the same as getting lean. The act of weight loss is simply defined as mass being taken from your body and broken down into energy, but this is not always a good thing.

They are lean, not skinny. Know the difference.

They are lean, not skinny. Know the difference.

The common thought is that we need calories to live and function. If we do not get enough of them we starve. If we eat to many of them, we get fat. Seems simple doesn’t it? While this thought is largely correct, as with all things, if it seems to too good or too easy to be true, then it probably is. Losing weight is the unbiased break down of mass, and that includes muscle tissue. This is the last thing that we want, and here’s why.

Muscle is the most metabolically active tissue in the body with a caloric demand of 50Kcal per Lb, and that is just at maintenance level. We want your body to be as metabolically active as possible and to have as much active functional muscle as possible to make sure that your metabolism is as high as possible. The moment you start losing muscle, you are literally losing cylinders from your metabolic engine and this is why fat loss tends to stall when you simply reduce calories.

Now, by contrast the act of getting leaner is the reduction in the level of the bodies adipose (skin level) fat cells. This is done via proper fuelling of the body, dependant on its activity level and the gentle decrease of calories. This is far more maintainable from the standpoint of you and I as average people but does require the insight of a fitness professional, or more research into how to properly fuel your body. Alternatively you can click here to receive a free nutritional e-book.

To make life a little easier, I have put together a few top tips that I think will help you get leaner, rather than just lose weight.

1 – Train for hypertrophy!

As we said, muscle is the most metabolically demanding tissue in the body and as such having as much of it up and working is what we ultimately need in order to raise your base metabolic rate. This means that you are going to be burning more calories at rest, leading to a greater number of calories burnt daily, month, and annually. To do this, make use of traditional hypertrophy training programs such as 3 x 10, 5 x 8 etc. This greater volume when matched with proper nutrition on your training and non training days will lead to an increase in muscle and number of calories burnt per session.

nickauger

The greater the muscle, the greater the calories burnt.

2 – Increase your protein intake

Protein is the building block of life. It provides 4kcal of energy per gram. Protein is stored in the body as muscle and is only used for energy production when carb stores are deleted. Proteins need to be broken down into amino acids and converted into glucose by the liver if they are to be used for energy production. This process is known as gluconeogenesis.

Protein is synthesised into your body in order to begin the repair or development of your cells. As such your protein intake is one of the primary factors in your bodily development, and should be included to one degree or another in every meal. Protein is also highly thermogenic regarding its nutritional density. It takes calories to digest food to get more calories. Protein has a huge caloric requirement for breakdown relative to its size and if you are working out the majority of the broken down amino acids will be put to work building more muscle. To start make sure you are taking in 1.2 – 1.5g of protein per lb of lean bodyweight and adjust as necessary.

3 – Address food quality before calories

Jumping straight into calorie counting is one of the worst ways to get yourself into trouble when trying to lose weight as it is highly inaccurate, and mentally draining. This is not to say that calories are not important, because they are. However, addressing issues of food quality are the first port of call when looking to get people losing weight. Educating yourself on what it means to eat according to your goals is going to to create a long lasting understanding of good nutrition, and good nutrition is for life. Diets are not.

4 – Don’t dive bomb your calories

Dropping your calories should be the last thing that you address when you are going down the garden path of weight loss. Managing your calories is something that should be done in relation to your macronutrient needs, and once that is addressed then we can start thinking about dropping calories. However, this should be done at a slow rate. As with prescription medication, we want the maximal response from the minimum dosage. Dropping your calories substantially will lead to a point of plateau from which your metabolism will start to take a dive, and in response your body, being the survival machine that it is, will start to take break down the surplus muscle tissue and the metabolic demand that goes along with them. Keep your calories as high as possible, for as long as possible, so long as you are still meeting your goals.

To look like a healthy athlete, you have to eat like a healthy athlete

To look like a healthy athlete, you have to eat like a healthy athlete

5 – Don’t go it alone!

This is the most important aspect of the whole journey. Make sure that you have a support network. Getting lean is a long process and can be stressful if you go it alone. The reason why weight watchers and other programs of that nature are so successful is that they bring you into a community that creates a sense of society and accountability. Get a group of friends, a page on facebook, or hire a trainer, because the more support your have, the more accountability you have to those around you and as such you are more likely to stick to game plan rather than go native with a box of Reese’s Pieces.

These are some tips that I hope will make things easier for you on your journey to a leaner, sexier you!

If you passed up on the e-book at the start of this article and would like to rectify that, click here.

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

http://bit.ly/1rvbFHQ

Good luck and, remember:

Train Strong.

Live strong.

Be Strong.

Simple Speed – Everything you ever wanted to know about getting fast!

Speed kills!

This is a simple fact in the world of sports, the wilds of the Savanna, and in your training. Speed is the key to athletic success, or to be more precise, power is. However, those of you who paid attention in school understand that force, or power is the sum of speed and mass. Simply speaking what this means is that the greater the weight we can move at the most maximal speed possible, the greater the total power output of the body. Now, this has a number of considerations. First, total power output is relative to the source of the force, i.e. the body. It is a well-known fact that the relative strength (total strength in relation to mass) of an organism decreases as the size of the organism continues. This means that if we take a bar loaded up to 150kg and we get two lifters to squat it, with lifter A weighing 100kg and lifter B weighing 60kg, the total power output of lifter B would be greater as 1) his relative strength is greater due to his lesser body weight and 2) because a greater amount of force production is required to move the weight, regardless of the fact that the bar path would move slower due to the requirement of a maximal effort to move the weight.

I know that this has gotten confusing, but bear with me, it will all make sense soon enough. I know I said that speed kills, and as I said, lifter B would have to move slower to move the 150kg squat that lifter A, so lifter A would be moving faster yes? Well yes, true at that weight the larger lifter would move the weight faster but that does not mean that there is a full recruitment of all the bodies’ musculature. What we need to bare in mind is that while a maximal effort lift is moving slowly, it is moving as fast as humanly possible given the parameters of the lifters strength and percentage of neuromuscular recruitment. If the lifter couldn’t generate maximal force in the most minimal amount of time he would fail the lift. Told you speed was important.

Speed... it's kind of a big deal.

Speed… it’s kind of a big deal.

Now, speed obviously has greater implications than just your ability to lift bigger weights. We as a species rely on our speed to think faster, evolve faster and generally be faster than our adversary in order to survive. While Paleolithic man could not have out run many of the predators of the primal wilderness, he could change direction faster, think faster and climb faster, all of which has lead to me being here writing this article for you now. Even now athletes of every kind are trying to get faster. Faster in their ability to get to the end zone, try line, goal, ball etc. first and developing this killing speed there needs to be a three-fold focus on speed development.

First there needs to be a focus on the physics of strength. I know that we have been over the physics behind it, but let me put this into practical terms. Picture a box. Now jump on it. Then jump on it as fast as you can. Then picture a taller box, a box that you can’t jump on to. Now while you can jump up to this box with lesser speed and greater speed, the fact is that if you don’t have the strength to propel yourself onto that box, the truth is that you are just not going to get up there no matter how hard you try.

The fact is that without strength it doesn’t matter how fast you are, you simply don’t have the base on which to build power. Now, building strength, while not easy, is relatively simple and there are 1001 programs out there on the net that will help you get strong. I would recommend anything that is based on full compound lifts and is very squat focused. From there just keep getting stronger!

This doesn't happen without speed. Speed doesn't happen without strength.

This doesn’t happen without speed. Speed doesn’t happen without strength.

Ok, so lets move further down the line. You have been training hard and getting strong for a few months now and in the process you have gotten faster. Your lifts have shot up and as such your total strength output has increased and as such your ability to ability to produce force is greater. What this has lead to is a greater ability to propel your self forward, upward and any other which way you want to go, but, with that being said, speed has not been your primary focus. While every rep of every lift should be as fast as you can humanly make it, the fact is that you cannot move 98% of your 1RM as fast as you can move 50%.

Louie Simmons, head coach/owner of Westside Barbell, arguably the strongest gym in the world focuses a great deal of his Conjugate training method towards speed and force development by the incorporation of specific speed sessions where 40-70% of a lifters max squat, bench or deadlift, depending on the focus of the day, will be taken for no more than 2 reps over 10-20 sets with very short rest periods varying from 30seconds to a minute in length. The whole point of these short rep ranges is to work the fast twitch fibers of the bodies’ musculature.

The muscles of the body consist of three different muscle fiber types. Type 1 fibers that are slow twitch oxidative. Type 2A with fast twitch oxidative, and Type 2X that are fast twitch glycolytic. These fast twitch fibers are exactly what they sound like, fast! As such, when we want to be fast we need to focus on the development of pure, unadulterated speed that can only be developed under loads that are sub-maximal. As such we need to focus on the activation of these fibers using a load that will cause a development of potential force generation. This force development is due to increased neuromuscular connectivity and firing rate. This leads to an athlete being able to engage their strength at a greater speed. This in turn relates to a greater expression of total power and as such speed.

This leads us on to the last section of speed development, practical application. This is where you train the application of speed within the context of your sport. Common examples of this are 40 yard dashes, change of direction drills, target sprints diamond runs etc. the list goes on, but the point is that you need to look at what the demands of your sport, or playing position, have on your speed. In regards to sports like Rugby or American Football heavier players such as forwards or linemen need the speed to get off the starting line fast and make contact first, where as players such as running backs or wingers need the speed to move in-between opposition players and make sure that they can change direction quickly. As such the practical speed training for each player would have to be unique and targeted towards his or her personal needs in regards to their position.

Matthew Stafford

Different size athletes, all moving with as much speed as possible.

This ladies and gents is a brief overview on how one can approach the subject of speed training. My disclaimer on this is that there are many ways to skin a cat and that this is by no means the only way to approach speed training, however it is a concept which has worked well for me in the past and has worked well for others as well. If you have any questions you would like to ask on the subject of speed training, or anything else regarding training for that matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

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!

6/12/14 – 4 tips for a bigger Bench

So today was my first trip back into competition style benching in lieu of setting up to make my return to the platform in the new year, and all in all it went very well. I worked up to a paused set of 3 with 105kg and continued on with my workout, but it got me thinking. I have taken a number of big steps in order to increase the numbers on my bench and I wanted to share with you the my top four tips for a bigger bench.

Now that is one hell of a bench!

Now that is one hell of a bench!

1. Improve your set up – 

While I am still not a real advocate or fan of the dramatic arch used by many powerlifters, what I am an advocate of is getting as tight and set into the bench as possible, regardless of what weight is on the bar. Taking time to make sure that you are properly set on the bench press will be the foundation upon which you can build a monstrous bench. Take time to make sure that you have grounded your upper back into the bench, that your glutes are driven down and are firmly set with your feet acting as anchors and power generators on the ground. Making sure that you are as physically tight and immovable as possible is key. If you get a bit uncomfortable – deal with it. As Louie Simmons, owner of Westside Barbell says, “purple equals strong.” Louie has also said that why have a tan when you can have high blood pressure… I guess he cant be a genius all of the time. The level of tightness your generate with your start position should be the same whether you are benching with the empty bar or your max.

2. Break the bar in half – 

The minute the bar comes out of the rack make sure you set your shoulders by attempting to bend the bar into a horseshoe. By making sure that your shoulders are in an externally rotated position during any time that the bar is out of the rack is going to be key to making those weights fly up. The act of externally rotating the shoulder tightens and secure the musculature of the shoulder girdle and allows for a fuller recruitment of the muscles, thereby increasing shoulder stability and power generation throughout the lift. That being said, it also helps to create a stable bar path due to the limited range of motion of a fully externally rotated shoulder when attempting to ‘bend the bar’.

3. Turn your lats on – 

Have you ever seen a great bencher that doesn’t have big lats? Cause I haven’t. It is a simple fact that the more muscles your recruit, the greater your power output. In essence, without recruiting the lats during your bench press you are a eight cylinder engine using only four cylinders. The lats help create greater stability throughout the bench, especially in the bottom positions with the bar across your chest, but what it also does is trigger a stretch reflex that will help to propel the bar upward. Whether the bench is touch and go, or with a competition pause, never forget to turn your lats on by setting your back and externally rotating the shoulder, pulling them down towards your hips. If you struggle to activate your lats increase the level of upper back accessory work that you are doing. Pull ups, straight arm cable pull downs, single arm rows and lat pull downs are all great options.

4. Triceps are king – 

Besides a big upper back do you know what the best benchers in the world have? Well developed triceps, and I don’t mean a nice lean horseshoe shaped tricep, I mean something that you could unzip and smuggle a watermelon in. Seriously though, the tricep is such a small muscle but plays such a crucial part in making a big bench that they cannot be ignored. Tricep strength in many instances is the make or break muscle in the kinetic chain of events known as a bench press and if they give out, well, then you my friend better trust your spotters. Throwing in lots of close grip benching, as well as accessory work such as dips, tricep pull downs, pushups etc is only going to help develop the musculature of the tricep but also your bench.

Taking all of that into consideration, here is what I did today.


Paused bench press

– work up to a 3RM

– 4 x 3 @ 90% of 3RM

– 1 x max set @ 60kg + pushup AMRAP (As many reps as possible)

Dips

– 4 x max reps

Pull ups

– 4 x max reps

Straight arm cable pull down – 

– 4 x 8 + 1 strip set


Take these tips away with you, try the workout, and get one step closer to building a world class bench press.

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Staying Sexy with Submaximal training

Hey Rebels and other members of the interwebs!

Today we are going to be talking about submaximal training and why it is important to you and your journey to the body you want and the quality of life that you deserve. First and foremost I am going to lay down two inarguable truths. Number one, I think that it is safe to say that injury sucks. We have all been in that situation where we take a lift and really wish that we hadn’t pushed the envelope quite so much that day. You’ve done it, I’ve done it, and I am sure that we will all do it again at some point, but the truth is that injury and pain is just the bodies way of giving you the Howard Stern, “Hey now!”

Squatting like an asshole? "HEY NOW!"

                 Squatting like an asshole? “HEY NOW!”

Number two, that the athlete that trains with the greatest frequency, with the greatest intensity and the best technique will more often than not win out over those who have the odd great training cycle but are on the whole inconsistent. This in essence leads me to why submaximal training is important. Because failed lifts, time taken off for injury, and sessions gone bad due to technique breakdown limit the amount of total training volume that you can accrue in a given time period, which in turn is going to limit the amount of ground work your laying down to build that sexy bod you have always wanted. Greater work done means greater results earned and lets be honest, if you are reading this blog you are not a half-rep Harry.

So lets break this down into the two main benefits of submaximal training, the physical and the mental. Submaximal training can be defined as any form of training in which you work below you maximal capacity in regards to volume or intensity, basically smart guy talk for lifting less that you could. Now before you all dive into a great big bowl of haterade and start telling me that this ‘submaximal thing’ sounds a lot like being a pansy let me break it down. If we are honest, and I mean really honest, you and I are both guilty of letting our form slide for the sake of stacking a few extra kg’s on the bar, and as much as we like to justify it by saying, “nah bro! My back curve was only thoracic”, bad form is bad form, and until you are manhandling 400kg lets not kid ourselves that trying to justify that fact that we are just too weak to keep good shape is an effective use of time that could be spent developing good technique and becoming a savage.

When you can Deadlift this much, then we can chat about thoracic flexion.

When you can Deadlift this much, then we can chat about thoracic flexion.

The act of submaximal training allows you to keep yourself to a strict technical max which, in the long term, is going to lead you to greater overall gains and a reduced risk of injury. If you look at the best squatters in the world, or for that matter the best of any sport, they are the ones who are the most technically sound throughout their training and have the greatest total volume of correct movement patterns under their belts. To achieve this you need a great deal of time which can be destroyed by injury or discomfort. Equally bad form leads to muscular imbalance and as such will destroy what chance you have of having a symmetrical, well balanced and most importantly of all posturally correct physique. The movement that recruits the most muscle is one that goes through a full technically correct range of motion which will allow you to get in more quality reps, with a higher range of muscular recruitment and keep you healthy in the process.

Full ROM = Full results

                                                             Full ROM = Full results

On the mental side of things submaximal training should mean that you never miss a lift…ever. Granted with the Olympic lifts this is pretty much impossible, but with the majority of the lifts this is a more than achievable goal, it just requires a little brutal honesty. Missing lifts is dumb, fact. When you miss you are just reinforcing an incorrect movement pattern and an overload of your system that could be potentially dangerous. Ever seen a guy stapled to the floor with a squat because he went to heavy, cause I have. Taking weights for reps can in many ways be just as scary as taking a 1rm attempt and you need to be brutally honest with yourself and believe that you can do what you are asking you body to do. You need to believe more in your ability than you believe that up is up and down is down. The moral of the story is this, there is a time to grip it and rip it, but that’s the on the platform, the stage, the testing day. Not in every day gym life.

So how do we factor this into your training? Well the simple answer is to increase the weight gradually or increase the total volume of reps done, either via an increased number of sets for a greater broad volume, or simply doing more reps in the same number of sets. Either way, the name of the game is factoring in a progressive overload that is going to allow your body to grown and adapt in response to an increased stimulus. This is very easy to do by either using a Perceived Rate of Exertion scale of 1-10 or by working off a training max of 90% of you true max. What this means is that if you max 1RM Bench is 100kg, 90kg would be your 90% and that would allow you to train multiple singles over a given time period.

Argued to have one of the best physiques of all time, Mike O'Hearn is one strong SOB and this strong body was build over multiple reps, over multiple years. He would tell you exactly what I am, that consistency and quantity wins the day.

Argued to have one of the best physiques of all time, Mike O’Hearn is one strong SOB and this strong body was built over multiple reps, over multiple years. He would tell you exactly what I am, that consistency and quantity wins the day.

Now, I do want to take the time to throw down a little disclaimer. I am not now, nor am I ever going to say that you shouldn’t take chances on maxes if you feel especially good in the gym that day, but remember that there is a difference between building strength and testing strength. Taking maximal attempts at any rep range is an important way to gauge strength but they take a great deal to recover from and will take away from the following sessions intensity if you are all busted up from the day before and grinded or missed lifts will take longer to recover from psychologically as well as physically as you have gone beyond you capacity to preform. Make sure that if you are going to push the envelope that you will make that lift. Yes, things don’t always go to plan, but you need to minimize the risk of a failed lift as much as possible to make sure that you continue to recover, preform and prevail.

I hope that this was a good read, and if nothing else you get out there and train a little smarter and a little harder.

Later Rebels, and remember,

Train Strong.

Live Strong.

Be Strong.

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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