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Posts Tagged ‘resistance’

Gymnasts don’t use reps, sets and 3 days a week routines

I’m all for knowing a lot of the science behind getting the most from your training, but it’s not the most important factor.

The most important factor is just training, a LOT.  If you do that you’ll know what works for you and why anyway.  Then you can start to read a few books and educate yourself.  You can try things out and see how it goes for you.

When you are starting though you just need to get going, try just about anything.  See what effect it has.

When gymnasts train they just do the moves, and do them for hours everyday.

gymnast

Trainers nowadays are chronically afraid of overtraining, but that’s often due to doing ridiculous things that you know you shouldn’t be doing anyway.

It’s hard to overtrain using bodyweight exercises, and that’s not to say they don’t get to extremely high resistance, because they do with using one arm or difficult leverage points like handstand push ups etc.  The more natural the training the better because involving all the smaller muscles, skill, coordination and balance engages the brain more, which hugely improves results and also recovery.  Static contractions, kettlebells, bodyweight exercise, some weights exercises and playing sport are ‘natural training’.  The body is amazing at adapting to hard and regular training after a few weeks, especially if it is a sport or natural types of training.

If you just commit to training everyday or almost everyday, over time, you’ll work out how much and how hard to train.

You can also read up on sets and reps and try things out.

My point here is that a lot of people are getting caught up in the how and forgetting the main factor is to keep taking action.  The person who just keeps doing the training and improving his/her strength (even if they do it ‘wrong’) will end up getting way better results than the person who does all the reps and sets to a tee, but doesn’t push hard enough to improve regularly and turns up sporadically.

Those fellas that exercise on the monkey bars just go and train every day or every second day and do the best they can.  They aim to get better, and do so regularly.  They usually are training 6-12 months before they show any interest in the science of it, if they ever do.  Either way, they end up with amazing strength, athleticism and ripped muscular physiques.

So I’m going to break down for you what is really important:  Train a lot, train as naturally as possible and aim to improve at it regularly.  That’s it.

The rest of it is just fine tuning.

The Dragon’s favourite exercise

Bruce Lee is famous for his explosive speed, strength and his very ripped physique.  His abilities came from his superior mind-body connection.  He created this largely from using isometric exercise.  Isometrics are static contractions.  It is a powerful combination of mental focus and physical exercise, because you are creating the contraction mentally.

BruceLee

If you show off your bicep to someone and mentally flex or contract the muscle to tighten it, you are doing isometrics.  If animals in the wild who live and die by survival instinct and one of the greatest athletes of our time use these exercises extensively, then I’m sure you’ll agree this is an exercise worth looking at.

The uses and possibilities of isometrics are endless.  It is very helpful for flexibility in alternating contractions with relaxing into the stretch.  I’ve a whole report on my website about that, which is a great thing to use.  You will find it mind boggling how much further you can stretch immediately using this method.

Static contractions are proven to create 5% more strength every week in any muscle trained 3 times per week or more.

You can also hit just about any angle, any part of the range of motion and even the smallest muscles using isometrics.  The usefulness of this is huge.  For one thing, it makes it a lot easier to do sport specific exercises or target muscles needing rehab.

Add to all this the fact that you are creating a powerful link from the mind/brain to the muscles and you have something very powerful.

As we point out a lot here, the more your brain is involved during exercise the more you are going to get out of it in terms of performance, hormone response, neurological and physical adaptations.

However, SC not a complete exercise either.  I wouldn’t recommend isometrics as a stand alone routine.  You aren’t really strengthening your joints without putting actual weight on them, so isotonic exercise or movement with resistance is also needed.  You are also not practising movement.

However, isometrics are quick and easy to do and are a phenomenal compliment to any type of training.  Some things to note are that often the strength you gain from isometrics will only translate 10 degrees either side of the point of contraction.  In other words, it is a good idea to contract your muscles at about 3 different places in its range of motion.

It is also a good idea to relax your muscles periodically in a session, maybe after three or four 6-10 second contractions.  Relaxing only takes a few seconds, but it is good to shake the tension out, release and relax the muscles again.  Using your breathing is very useful for doing this as well.

You only really need to be aware.  Most people probably won’t even need to do the relaxation part, but a lot of us are so used to holding onto tension that we may not let go properly after a contraction exercise.

Tension when you don’t need it hampers your coordination, calmness and balance.  Learn how to avoid that, by learning how to relax your muscles as well.

When you picture Bruce Lee training what you see is total body control.  He is able to tense and relax at will in perfect timing.  He’s gained a lot of this from static contractions.  You will see him pull against a rope as hard as he can, push against something and then start exploding into speed moves.  This is all using the mind-muscle connection over and over again to grease the groove and create better and better neurological connections between the brain and the muscles.  That’s where his extreme muscle density, ridiculous speed and explosive power came from.

Thank you for your legacy and wisdom Mr. Lee.

‘Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one’, Bruce Lee.

Why you want to be like a frog

The frog is an advanced creature at jumping, swimming and generally using his/her legs fluidly, explosively and with awesome strength.

We humans can learn a lot from the humble amphibian.

We are tensed up.

You want to be loose as a goose for various reasons.  It makes you feel better, it gives you more energy, mental clarity and you become better at doing just about any task.

It’s all about balance.  Strength is good, but flexibility is more important.

It’s fine to build muscle or strength or both, but don’t neglect flexibility in the process.  You can have powerhouse muscle’s like a frogs legs, but still be fluid and loose.

There’s a former world champion wrestler called Matt Furey.  He’s burly and naturally muscular and he’s also done lots of strength training.  If there was ever a guy that you’d think wouldn’t be flexible it’d be him, yet is muscles are so ‘soft’ that he can do the splits.  He achieved that later on by flexibility work.

That’s where you want to be.

It’s all about balance.  We tend to be tensed up so we need to stretch out for relaxation, stress relief and health.  We sit forward a lot, so we need to stretch in certain directions that bit more than others.  Strength is great too, but its the other side of the coin to flexibility and having both is the best place to be, for health, performance and injury prevention.

It is also better to strengthen using your own bodyweight (some free weight exercises are good too) to improve coordination, balance, hit many angles, smaller muscles and strengthen the spine so you are getting way more out of it and also not creating imbalances.

You don’t want to neglect muscles, because that also creates tension and leaves you open to injury or back alignment issues.

Note: There are ways to increase bodyweight exercises to ridiculous resistance and difficulty levels.  Some people think there are only a few simple bodyweight exercises like two handed push ups and pull ups.  That’s only start of it.

The animals in the wild have it right.  They have an instinct that many of us have lost.  Everyday, they stretch themselves out, they do static contractions for strength, they exercise naturally using their own bodyweight, they play and spar with each other.

It gives them the best chance to enjoy life and survive.  Similar training gives us the best chance to survive, be at our happiest and flourish.  The ancients observed animals and created great methods like Yoga (you don’t have to do Yoga per se).

We just have to start where we are, see the benefits and keep improving until we are a master like Matt Furey.  All it takes is a little bit of daily exercise and rejuvenation time.

I like what Irish UFC fighter Conor McGregor says about training and how he gets ready for fights.  Many people would think the best way to get ready for a fight would be heavy sparring and pumping weights.  McGregor does very little of that, he spends 90% of his training time on skills, balance, flexibility, fluid animal movements and bodyweight training.  Not many UFC fighters train like this, but he’s got the best physique, speed, he’s the strongest and is currently wiping out his whole division.

Be like a frog.

Creatine: Is it good, and is it safe?

Creatine is one of the few very good supplements worth the money. It works to increase energy, muscle size and power.  It’s not uncommon to see increases of 10% in strength/power output and 8lbs of muscle gain from creatine alone.

My advice is to use creatine monohydrate. This is the most common and most researched form of the substance. It is also perfectly safe (according to the 150 research papers I’ve viewed on it). *See the end of this article for safe dosages and monitoring any reactions

There are other forms of creatine, creatine ethylester (CEE), that is broken down into creatinine, which is toxic to the body. I strongly suggest you avoid this type of creatine or anything other than creatine monohydrate, because this is the one we know works best and is also completely safe.

The buffered Ph neutral creatine called KreAlklyn is a madey uppey type of creatine. It is just mixed with creatine salts and baking soda. They then tell you that creatine monohydrate will be largely broken down into creatinine in the body, unless it is buffered like theirs is.

This is not true. Creatine monohydrate mixed with water is Ph neutral and very little degrades into creatinine (not enough to be significant in any way). Plus KreAlklyn is used at a much lower dose, because it is said to be ‘much more effective since it isn’t broken down’. Again, creatine monohydrate isn’t broken down into creatinine, except minutely. The research is sound on this, so therefore KreAlklyn is just giving a very small and ineffective dose of creatine monohydrate plus baking soda. It’s a cod.

Regarding other forms of creatine, they are either less effective or simply creatine monohydrate dressed up in a prettier dress (for probably double the price).

Regarding dosage, an effective dose of creatine can be anywhere up to 35g per day. A good guide would be your bodyweight target in pounds * 0.15 = grams of creatine per day.

Most people will be around the 20-25 grams per day range.

Creatine monohydrate is pretty cheap to buy and, in my opinion, definitely worth purchasing if you are an athlete or a regular gym goer.

You do hear about the so called dangers of creatine, so I am wary in that sense.  However, I have read a lot of research papers on creatine, so have scientists I trust and I don’t see the negatives people talk about. I only see positive effects in performance & cellular and mitochrondrial health.  I’ve also used it at various times and only experienced benefits. There were no negative effects in my creatinine levels or other markers of health.

It has to be considered that there are many conflicting pieces of information and strong negative views on every type of diet out there as well. Creatine is naturally occuring in foods, especially meat. It is simply three amino-acids, which are perfectly natural.

Also make sure you are buying from a reputable source.  I buy creatine monohydrate from myprotein.ie because they provide an independent certificate of analysis for label accuracy and purity, with every batch.  This ensures you are getting what you paid for and also that there are no contaminants.

You just have to see how you react to things, because everybody is different and not every diet or supplement will work for you. The best thing we can do is decide whether we want to try it, and if we do… experiment with safe dosages, see the results and monitor any potential downsides before and after, with a health professional.

Then you can decide whether you want to continue with it or not. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, training and diet are far more important. However, creatine can also make a significant enough difference to size and performance to warrant serious consideration as a training aid.

 

 

 

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The best heavy resistance exercise for running speed

First of all, heavy resistance training helps speed. Every sprint trainer will know this. The stronger your sprinters, all things being equal, the faster they will be.

But what’s the best way to do it?

For pure sprinting you probably want to focus on deadlifts.

You need strength in certain areas, and you want no more bodyweight than is necessary.

So if you do strength without size training you are going to build a lot of ability to produce force, without extra bodyweight reducing your speed.

With regard to running it is the force you can put into the ground that will make a huge difference. This is proven to have a direct effect on stride turnover and even stride length, which is how speed is created.

Of course there are ballistic, agility, bodyweight, cardio conditioning, flexibility etc that each play a part as well, but in terms of strength and resistance, the force you can put in the ground is king.

And the best exercise for that is half deadlifts in low rep ranges with lots of rest between sets. Half deadlifts are where you pick the barbell off the ground, lift it to knee height and then drop it onto a cushioned mat or grass.

You want to be doing 3-5 reps per set with a weight that you could lift for a few more reps (if you had to) and have 4 minutes rest between sets.

One of the best speed trainers in the world, Barry Ross, swears by this type of training. It is the gold standard. It hits all the right muscles for producing force into the ground and thus running fast. Progressively lifting more weight with this exercise over months and years will make you a LOT faster.

Why building the mind-muscle connection is important to any sportsperson, bodybuilder or gym goer

It’s important because this unseen aspect of training will increase your results.

What is the mind-muscle connection? It’s basically how many nerves are going between your brain and your muscles, and how well grooved the pathways are.

If there are more neurons and connections in your brain for handling certain muscles, then they will function better, contract with more force, fire faster, with more control, coordination etc.

A lot of this is built simply by regular training. If you lift weight you are building the mind-muscle connection to make it stronger. You are building the physical structure in muscle fibre, but you are also building the skill of strength. Your brain is also adapting to get better.

The same goes for any type of training. You have to perform technique a certain amount of times before it is second nature. That’s all neuromuscular adaptation, the neurons getting a blueprint for how to do a movement (using muscles). Anyone who’s trained for a decent amount of time, eventually gains a supra awareness of their body, ‘the mind is more in the body’. It may be noticed as simply feeling muscles contract, but it is a powerful perception and a sign of increased ability.

Furthermore, we can amplify the connection with certain exercises, and it adds a lot to results.

For example, using ballistic exercises not just builds more speed, but it is also very helpful to strength training and general performance. This is because deliberately firing muscles faster is a mental focus that builds the mind-muscle connection. It’s not uncommon for people to increase their bench press 100lbs from adding ballistic training for the chest and shoulders. A lot of this is due to engaging and growing fibres not hit in heavy resistance training, but it is also largely to do with neuromuscular adaptations.

We know it is also nerve power increase because using a different focus during strength workouts also increases lifts quite a bit.

Long term, these practises will make a very noticeable difference. We outline exactly how to put this in a program in our book, Precision Physique: Training (module 2).

How to grow a body part

This might seem like a strange title. Why not just say ‘how to build muscle mass?’

Well, that’s too general for some people’s purposes. Some people only want to grow certain body parts for sporting or aesthetic reasons.

So, can it be done? Yes, absolutely. You use exercises that target a certain body part and follow the rules of of mass building.

In building muscle size it is all about using high resistance and fatiguing the muscle. There is quite a bit of debate as to exactly how to do that, but the generally accepted wisdom is that you need to use 8-20 repetitions and not a lot of rest in between; 40 seconds to 2.5 minutes.

What we generally advise is to start with a weight where you can do 12 reps to failure (after a warm up set of 10 with a weight 50% or so lighter), take 40 seconds rest and do 4 sets with the same weight. You’ll probably end up at about 8 reps on the 4th set. Over a few weeks you will be able to do more reps. When you can do 20 reps on the first set with that weight, that’s when we advise going up to a weight you can do 12 reps with and start the process again.

This will keep the sets in the 8-20 repetition bracket, at a challenging and progressive resistance for you and will provide a lot of muscular fatigue. Any body part you do this with will start to grow and increase in size.
Other body parts can be exercised in the same way or differently. Muscle building is specific in that way, it’s about what is being hit and how.

What are good body measurements?

There are actually body measurements that are ideal for your height and gender.

And they are attainable long term for anybody with the right training and diet.

They are also not the stereotypes you often see on the front of a bodybuilding or fashionista magazine. Those dudes are often too big and the girls are often too skinny.

That’s not just what I am saying, that is what the maths is saying as well. There is a number throughout nature called Phi, or the perfect ratio. It is the design number. It is in everything from seashells, to plants, to animals, to humans. It is also used in roads, buildings, credit cards, cars, cereal boxes and lots of other things to make them structurally sounder, more visually appealing and to sell more.

Nearly all the great physique statues are on these numbers as well. We discuss the numbers in depth in our book, Precision Physique.

The extremes don’t look right, it is commercialism to try to get people after the unattainable (and actually undesirable), so they will keep buying magazines, the supplements they own, the clothes they advertise and so on.

The young people who are hell bent on getting the drug induced physiques in the pictures end up shooting steroids or with eating disorders. Not good.

So it is not just interesting information to talk about the correct health and physique goals, but it is actually very important information.

There’s nothing worse than a lean girl thinking she would look better if she was skin and bone. Her health, life and even appearance will end up in bits.

The idiots who perpetuate this madness (in the images and articles they write) need to be called out. Hopefully then eventually everyone will be aware of it and then no younger people will want to buy the stupid mags anymore (until they start publishing good material).

Is High Intensity HIIT Cardio Better For Fat Loss Than Steady State Cardio (Like Jogging)?

It is better for fat loss, but not as good as using both.

They both have pluses and minuses when it comes to burning body fat.

High intensity is great at releasing body fat and steady state is great for burning it off so that it doesn’t go back to fat storage.

Either type of cardio will burn body fat, under the right circumstances.

However, from the research and our experience HIIT is superior for fat loss because it encourages sugar to be converted into glycogen and put into carbohydrate storage in muscles. It encourages this more than sugar being converted into fat and put into fat stores. It also does this more than steady state cardio.

That’s not to say steady state exercise encourages fat storage. That’s not true either, it’s just not as effective for changing body composition.

But using both will give you the best results. HIIT is better for teaching the body to mobilise fat, and steady state is better at teaching the body to use fat for fuel. You can also do more steady state than HIIT, which means you can train more by using both, leading to greater results.

A lot of people are trying to suggest that steady state is bad for you. It’s not. Any bad results are due to overtraining, plain and simple. Too much of anything, too often, is bad for you. With steady state, overdoing it just takes longer to show up and does so in a more subtle fashion than usual, and that’s where the confusion comes from. Problems that arise from steady state overtraining are also nearly always accompanied by a lack of resistance training and excessive prolonged calorie restriction.

Using a well designed program and good tests to see when you need rest, will avoid this problem. We have a top quality cardio program in our book Precision Physique: Module 2 training, which covers all types of cardio in the one program. We also make sure you don’t overtrain.

If you do cardio correctly it is a very good fat loss strategy. And if you are strategic in using all types of cardio, then the results are even better.