Is Your Programming Where It Should Be? Part 2

One of my first blog posts a while back (Here) talked about your weightlifting programming and how you could make it better. I want to continue on that train of thought and take it a few steps further.

Every day that you workout even before you enter the gym you should know a few details about the workout that you are going to perform:

  • What lifts you are performing

  • What weights you will be using

  • How many Sets/Reps you will be performing

  • Ways to get the hot girl on the Stairmaster to talk to you (the most important of them all)

Knowing all of these details before you even leave your house will not only make your workout more efficient, but it will also prevent you from doing it “on the fly”. Not pre-planning your workout will cause you to neglect any exercise that you really aren’t to particularly fond of but you know that you need to do anyway (for me that would be pull-ups, I really do not like them, but I know that I need to do them, and if I didn’t write them in my program I probably wouldn’t to do them).

So your homework for the day is to go to the dollar store and buy a composition notebook (yes the one that you used in 4th grade and still haunts you to this day). Start out with writing your program for the week ahead, and see what happens.

The notebook will help you keep on track with your exercises, as well as how much weight you used the previous week. Trust me you will see faster results and you will be amazed when you look back a few months at where you were to where you are now.

Image not the same type of programming, but you get the idea.

The next step to your programming is the order of exercises that you are performing. Sometimes the order of exercises are just as important as the exercises themselves. I’ve used Dan John’s quote “What you do in the first 15 minutes of your workout is the most important, treat it as such” in the past and my thoughts on it have not changed at all.

So after your 5 minutes (or so) of foam rolling and then your mobility/activation work your ready for your first lift. Depending on what your lifting that day or what type of workout your doing this lift could be an assortment of different exercises. One constant that remains in the equation is that the lift should be geared to the type of workout you are doing.

If you are doing a lower body day your main lift should be a Squat/Deadlift (or a variation of the two). If your day is upper body it should be some sort of Press (Bench, Military) or Pull (Pull-ups, T-Bar Rows). This exercise should be Bilateral, meaning it is done with both arms/legs working at the same time. Any Unilateral (Single Arm/Leg) work should be done secondary to your Bilateral Lift.

Another great exercise type that is often overlooked and can be used as a main lift on any type of day is some sort of explosive/plyometric exercises. Strength Coach Mike Boyle raves about the benefits of including an explosive lift as the first lift of each program. Nothing gets your muscles fired up better than a few quick short range movements that deliver power and explosiveness.

So here are a few options for you to consider adding in to your current programming just to give your body an extra boost.

On lower body days:

  • Squat Jumps

  • Box Jumps

  • Power Cleans (with or without the jerk)

  • Close Grip Snatches (I prefer close-grip because it is easier on the shoulders)

  • Jumping Lunges

  • Kettle Bell Swings

On Upper Body Days:

  • Plyo Pushups

  • Push Press (an explosive Military Press)

  • Power Cleans

  • Close Grip Snatches

  • Med Ball Slams (overhead, rotational, etc.

These Exercises are not meant to use heavy weight. They are merely a way to shock the nervous system to allow your body to handle the heavy lifting that will follow.

I hope this has given you some insight to your programming and will help you to make amazing gains in your lifting.   

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Fitness Stuff You Should Be Reading!

Greg Robbins: Ten Things for Under $10 Ten Things for Under $10 (part 2)

Greg Robbins is the Newest Strength Coach At Cressey Performance, he has been featured in Men’s Health, EliteFTS, as well as a regular on Eric Cressey’s Blog.  These articles are for 10 cheap tools that everyone should have in their collection and you guessed it, they all cost under 10 dollars.

 

Mike Robertson: Investing In Yourself 

Mike Robertson talks about how in each career you need some sort of continuing education not only to meet certain job requirements, but to better yourself in your profession.n  He goes on to say that in order for you to get the best at what you do you should be spending at least 5-10% of your annual income on Continuing Education.

 

Eric Cressey: Strength Training Programs: Coaching the Dumbell Pullover 

I’m glad that somebody finally made a post about this topic, because time and time again I have seen this exercise done incorrectly.  Its not about how far you can reach the dumbell behind your head, its about how far you can reach it while remaining in full hip extension,  without arching your back.

 

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Exercises I love Doing and You Should Be Doing Too! -Stability Ball Rollouts-

While the plank (when done properly) offers a tremendous amount of benefits, it seems to be one of the most disliked exercises in the book.  I am here to offer a similar exercise, that offers similar benefits (as well as some others), and does not require to hold the “pose” for an extended period of time.  The Stability Ball Rollout offers a lot of the same benefits as the plank, and gives you a great alternative to the difficult plank.

 

The Stability Ball Rollout is considered an Anti-Extension Core Exercise.  Which means exactly what it says.  With this type of exercise you are actively trying to resist extension of the Lumbar Spine.  These exercises are great for developing Stability at the core, lumbar spine, and pelvis.

Since the exercise relies on you preventing extension of the lumbar spine, you need to assume a “plank” type position for the duration of the exercise.  The stability ball also adds a little bit of lateral stability as well, since the ball can roll in multiple directions.

 

Assume a position on your knees with your hips fully extended by squeezing your glutes together (called the tall kneeling position).  From here place your hands on the ball, keep your arms straight and start to roll forward on top of the ball.  It is very important to keep your hips extended during the exercise, not doing so will immediately deactivate your rectus abdominus (6-pack muscles), and will not give you the desired benefit.  The difficult part is keeping your hips fully extended during the return portion when you are rolling your body back in.

Notice in the video how my hips remain forward (extended) during the whole exercise.  The goal here is to roll your body out as far as possible and be able to return the same exact way.  A good indicator that I like to use for the exercise is to lead with your hips on the way out, and lead with your shoulders on the return.  That way it takes your mind off your hips on the return, and helps to mentally keep your hips forward.

I decided to make a second video of the exercise with improper form, because I have seen it many times and it needs to be addressed.  Notice how my hips are flexing during the start, and immediately when I attempt to return to normal.  Doing the exercise this way gives you no benefit because you aren’t really doing anything.

 

Once this becomes too easy, you can move down to a smaller stability ball, and then to the ab wheel.  Yes the ab wheel that was an “As seen on TV” product way back when.

This Thing:

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Start off with 3 sets of 6-8, and work up to 3-4 sets of 12.  

Enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Protein Bars! -A great Healthy small meal or snack-

I will be the first to admit that sometimes eating healthy is difficult.  Especially during “snack time”.  It’s that time of day in the early afternoon, work is dragging on and it’s not quite time to go home yet.  All of a sudden your stomach rumbles even though you completely destroyed your pre-made meal of grass fed chicken breast, spinach, and a single serving of brown rice.

So naturally off to the vending machine you go, where the healthiest option available is a tough choice between a month old bag of pretzels and some salted peanuts.  Wow such great options.  

What If I told you that you can include a healthy option that you can bring with you everyday, that will satisfy that afternoon hunger, but will still give you the room to eat your healthy dinner.

I use this recipe all the time for a great mid-day snack because as a Strength Coach/Trainer my time to eat always changes and is usually non-existent.  So for me this is a great option for a quick snack or even a small meal.

Chocolate Peanut Protein Bars!

It is a very simple and easy recipe and the benefits far outweigh the time spent making them.

Your Ingredient list:

2 Cups Organic Oats (regular quick oats work fine as well)

6 Scoops Chocolate Protein Powder (or any flavor, just insert your powder’s flavor in the title instead of Chocolate)

8 Tablespoons All-Natural Peanut Butter (or Almond Butter if you are feeling fancy)

1 1/2 – 2 Cups of Water (depending on the mix)

Mixing Instructions:

Combine all of the ingredients (minus the water) into a large mixing bowl.  Start to mix everything together and slowly add in 1 cup of water.  As you continue mixing continue to add water at about 1/2 a cup at a time.  The mixture will be pretty dense so use a wooden spoon.  You don’t want to add too much water or the bars will end up being too sticky and gooey.  

When everything is all mixed together shovel the mix into a 9×9 pan.  Then press the mix into the pan to make it nice and even all around the pan.  

Cover the mix with either aluminum foil or wax paper and then place in the freezer for about an hour or so.  

When the bars are nice and rough (trying not to say hard here lol) you should be able to flip the pan upside down and hit the bottom of the pan to knock out the solidified bar.  If this doesn’t work use a knife or spatula to dig it out.

Cut the big block into 6 even pieces (once slice down the middle, then cut the halves into 3 even pieces).  

Wrap them individually in plastic wrap, then put them back into the freezer.

Take out one at a time and by the early afternoon if it’s been sitting in your lunchbox/company fridge it will be defrosted and ready to eat.

These Bars are delicious and an excellent healthy alternative to what you would normally have as a snack.

Here are the approximate nutritional values for each individual bar.  (Nutritional facts will vary slightly depending on the protein and peanut butter brands).

Calories: 350

Carbs: 28g

Protein: 30g

Fitness Stuff You Should Be Reading!

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, I recently started a second job and it has consumed a lot of my “free” time, my current “free” time is occupied now by entertaining my dog, and napping.  I will definitely try to post here more often in the 3-4 times per week range.

 

If your problem with your fitness goes doesn’t seem to be at the gym, but more of in your diet, then look no further.  The E-book Anabolic Cooking by Dave Ruel is by far one of the best cookbooks out there.  It offers endless resources for cooking methods, and what will give you the results you want in your diet.  In Fact this week the book is on sale for 37$  (40$ off the cover price) so I suggest you head over to the page, and pick it up (not literally cause its an e-book).

http://www.anaboliccooking.com/welcome/index.php?hop=ecressey

 

Today’s Tnation article is titled “8 Tips from an 800 pound Bencher”.  Simply put, if a guy can bench 800 pounds, you should probably listen to what he has to say.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/8_tips_from_an_800pound_bencher

 

Pavel is well known in the fitness community for some of his revolutionary ideas and posts.  This one is slightly different though.  This article relates to ones “manlyness” and at what age do we truly lose it.  Case in point, this article is about a 75 year old man who competed in a deadlifting meat and was able to pull 407 pounds (a world record at his age btw).  So check it out!

http://www.strongfirst.com/blog/be-a-man-among-men/

 

Fitness Stuff You Should Be Reading!

I haven’t posted this in a while so there will be a string of Tnation articles because last week a good number of them were pumped out so here we go!

 

First up is Dean Somerset’s article about stretching!  He adds his thoughts to the new research that shows that stretching doesn’t work. Period!

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/stretching_doesnt_work

Tony Gentilecore – Squatting – Enough said….read it!

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/does_everyone_need_to_squat_deep

 

Dan John talks about foam rollers that while they are great for you and give you amazing benefits, people are spending too much time worrying about it and spending less time on what is really important – Lifting some goddamn heavy weight (direct quote)

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/foam_rollers_are_for_wimps

 

Here is a multi-author post about pull ups.  6 different coaches weigh in on the importance of them as well as their own little tweaks on the exercise.

http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/6_coaches_weigh_in_on_pullups

 

Eric Cressey put out a whole “Best of 2012” blog articles post and it really showed me what I missed this year, so check them out as well!

http://www.ericcressey.com/blog

 

 

My Goals as a Strength Coach for 2013

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Happy New Year Everyone!

Hope you all had a great holiday season! 

I decided to take a small break from the blog posts so I could catch up on a few things (sleep, reading, festivus..just to name a few).  I am now back at it and am ready to take 2013 by the horns (ala White Goodman)

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Now that 2013 is in full swing and we are all still alive (Sorry Mayans), I would like to use this post to express my goals for the year.  Each year I set a few goals for myself as everyone should.  It keeps you motivated to better yourself as a person and a professional!

In no particular order:

– I would like to get my Deadlift to at least 550 lbs (currently sitting at around 515 lbs, and My ultimate goal would be to hit 600 lbs in 2014).

– Get my Squat back up to the 465-485 lb range, but over 500 would be even better (if my knee allows me to do it).

– Bench Press 330 (My bench sucks, I don’t spend a lot of time on it, but for the amount of time I actually put it into my programs makes my current 305 max not seem so bad).

– Educate myself:  I want to attend at least 5 Seminars this year and really continue to learn more and more.

– I would like the opportunity to speak at a seminar as well.  I feel at this point in my career I have enough knowledge and experience to be able to spread it to like minded individuals. (this is my stretch goal, a goal that I really have to work hard for to make possible).

– Get a few new certifications so that I can continue to add more and more letters to the end of my name.

That’s all I have so far, I might edit this list as the year goes on.  

What are some of your goals for 2013? I would love to hear them!