Home Posts tagged "Workout Routines" (Page 2)

Disc Herniations, Normal Shoulders, and Workout Routine Overhauls

Here are a few good reads from the archives for you for today: Things I Learned from Smart People: Installment 1 - This features some stuff Bill Hartman taught me about the diagnosis of disc herniations. Shoulder Range-of-Motion Norms - What's normal - if there is such a thing? Avoiding the Workout Routine Overhaul - This piece talks about the problem with people that jump completely from one workout routine to another at the drop of the hat - and outlines a better strategy. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Kicking off ‘Stache Bash 2010

Retail stores have "Black Friday" and online retailers have "Cyber Monday" for their holiday sales at this time of the year - but I've never been one to go with tradition - or party for just a day when I can party for an entire week.  So, I created my own week-long sales event that will help to wrap up "No Shave November." I'm calling it 'Stache Bash 2010 - because I'll soon be rocking a mustache to round out the week (and drive the ladies wild).  As of right now, I'm just rocking the Circle Beard (moutee) - and while it's not a hit with my wife, our puppy doesn't seem to mind, as evidenced by his nap on the couch with me during football on Sunday afternoon!

Here's how it'll work...

  • Each day, I'll rock a new facial hair with a new one of my products on sale at a hefty discount.
  • With each day, I'll also provide some new content to go along with these sales promos.
  • My products will go on sale Tu (today), We, Th, Fr, Mo, and next Tu - which means that the weekend is open.  With that in mind, I've reached out to a few friends to see if they'd make their top-notch products available to my list at solid discounts on Sa and Su - so don't forget to check back in over the weekend.
  • I've sequenced all of this so that if you do opt to purchase multiple products, they'll ship in the most convenient and affordable way possible (i.e., Building the Efficient Athlete, Magnificent Mobility, and Assess & Correct will all be on sale together).
  • I'll leave each item on sale for 48 hours, as I know a lot of folks are in different time zones and may read this blog a day or two late.
  • The month will wrap up with me turning in my man card to be clean shaven once again on November 30.
So, without further ado, let's kick this sucker off with a 30% off deal on The Truth About Unstable Surface Training. This e-book has helped to clarify the role of instability training for a lot of folks in our industry, but what many people don't realize is that it goes into great depth with respect to strength exercise progressions for training enthusiasts who may be outside the fitness profession.  You can click HERE to purchase directly or click HERE for more information.  Just enter the coupon code STACHE to apply the discount at checkout.

“I used to advise trainers and other strength professionals that they must always continue to develop themselves and continue their education by reading every book and article and attending every seminar – but I was wrong. My advice now is to be very selective with the resources you seek out and the research and products you obtain. There is so much misinformation in the fitness industry and so much junk on the internet that it’s easy to be misguided. “So what is the right information? Without hesitation, I can say anything from Eric Cressey. His e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training, is no exception. Learn how unstable surface training originated in a rehabilitative setting and led to one of the biggest controversies in the fitness industry today. I was honored to get a first look at this resources. It was not just the literature review, studies, strength exercise demonstrations and progressions that were eye-opening; it was the practical applications. As always, Eric provides a thorough explanation of complex ideas. “If you’ve ever found yourself – or come across someone – using the term “functional training,” you absolutely must buy The Truth About Unstable Surface Training right now! Jim Smith, CSCS Author, Combat Core: Advanced Torso Training Again, that coupon code is STACHE and is good through tomorrow (Wednesday) at midnight.
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Strength Exercises: Don’t Sweat the Technique?

Today's guest blog comes from current CP Intern Conor Nordengren. During one of my recent morning drives to Cressey Performance, I was listening to the radio when I heard one of my favorite songs from my youth: “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Eric B. and Rakim.

As I was fist-pumping (a la Tony Gentilcore), I realized that I had never actually paid attention to the lyrics of the song.  Mid fist-pump, I put my hand down so I could listen closely to the words.  After hearing the chorus, I was shocked: “Don’t sweat the technique?”  Really?  In my sudden state of anger and disbelief, I came to another realization: this must be why Eric hates rap!

Ever since that morning commute, the word “technique” has been stuck in my mind.  More specifically, how it pertains to strength and conditioning and just lifting weights in general. One of the first things I learned when I began my internship at CP was the importance of proper technique.  This often neglected aspect of training is constantly stressed here.  Eric, Tony, and Chris are always out on the floor coaching, cueing, and correcting technique.  When us interns aren’t scheduling Eric’s next seaweed body wrap at the spa or picking up Tony a tall, iced peppermint white chocolate mocha espresso (with extra sprinkles) from Starbucks, all of our time is spent out on the floor actively coaching as well.

The great thing about CP is that everyone who trains here is aware of the importance of proper technique, too.  Many times, I’ll be out on the floor and a client will come up to me and ask me to watch their form on a certain strength exercise.  I’ve had this happen with athletes who are in middle school, to pro baseball guys who are veterans of CP, and also with those so-called “weekend warriors.”  I have to admit, I love it when this happens!  This means that the client is not only cognizant of the importance of technique, but is looking to improve upon or maintain their technique; it also tells me that they truly care about their training and their goals. The other week, a younger CP athlete was doing a set of pull-throughs with less than stellar technique.  As Chris quickly came to the rescue, I listened in to what he was saying and I came away with one of those “Ah-ha!” moments along with a great quote to remember.  Chris said, “Right now, we really need to focus on technique; we have plenty of time to get you strong.”  A lot of young kids or beginners who are fairly new to lifting weights will sometimes have the tendency to want to use too much weight on their exercises.  While they are still learning and improving upon their form, putting too much weight on the bar can prove to be injurious.  This can be a problem for even the more experienced lifter if they are losing focus on their technique.  Whether you are picking up a weight for the first time or you’ve been lifting for many years, you need to constantly be aware of your form.  When you enter the weight room, leave your ego at the door because technique is far more important than the amount of weight you can lift.  The cool thing is, as your form becomes very good, your chances of progressing faster and lifting more weight become greater.  And don’t worry, no informed lifter is going to think you’re a “girly man” if you take some weight off the bar to work on your technique.

Competitive powerlifter Chad Aichs wrote an article last month about constantly “hammering” technique.  Now, Chad has been lifting for a long time and is one of the strongest guys in the world (2733 total in the squat, bench, and deadlift).  Suffice it to say, when Chad’s talking, I’m listening.  According to him, technique must be the foundation of everyone’s training program.  When you begin your workout, from your warm-up to post-workout stretching, you should strive to perform every movement with picture-perfect form.  During our staff lifts at CP, we’re always watching each other’s lifts and giving each other feedback when necessary.  While this usually consists of Eric yelling at Pete from across the gym telling him that his form is about as good as a brain-dead, overweight, arthritic donkey, that’s beside the point.

The lesson here is that I’m lifting with some of the most knowledgeable, experienced coaches out there and they’re still critiquing each other’s form.  In other words, you are never too experienced to not monitor and improve your technique.  Holding yourself to high standards when it comes to technique keeps it in check and allows you to put your body in its strongest, safest position to lift the most weight and stay injury-free.  If you train alone and don’t have an experienced eye to watch your form, try to video yourself performing a certain lift.  This way, you can self-correct your technique and/or post it online to have others chime in on what you may need to improve upon.  I know that may sound a little extreme to some of you, but if you’re serious about your training, it may be necessary for you to get better and make progress toward your goals. While striving for perfect form is great and very important, I agree with Bret Contreras’ application of the 80/20 Principle when it comes to technique.  Basically, your form should never break down more than 20%.  This 20% serves as a bit of a leeway that is necessary for lifters to make progress and get stronger.  On a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being horrendous and 10 being perfect, at the very least you want to score an 8.  However, an 8 should only be allowed on heavier sets that are more challenging.  All other sets, including warm-ups and the initial working sets, should be 10’s.  I’ve seen Bret’s theory in play in my own training.  During a recent trap bar deadlift session, I set out to perform 5 sets of 5.  I was feeling good that day, so I decided to increase the weight for my last working set.  My first 3 reps were 10’s, but during my last 2 reps, I lost a bit of the tightness in my back, and would’ve characterized them as an 8 or a 9.  Even though my form was not completely perfect, it was not a significant break down that would put me at a great risk of injury.  Always be aware of your technique, but don’t obsess about it to the point where you’re limiting your progress.  On the other hand, don’t be too careless where you’re putting yourself at a heightened risk for injury; a.k.a. don’t be this guy (and I’m not just talking about his hair):

Improving your form and keeping certain cues in mind is not an easy thing.  There are several things to remember regarding technique while executing a given lift, and at times, it can seem overwhelming, especially if you lift alone.  If this is how you feel, try this little trick that Tony uses with his clients.  Say you’re performing a deadlift, whether you’re somebody who’s just learning this movement or a veteran lifter who’s doing a heavy set.  Instead of just motoring through each rep of your set, treat each rep as its own set.  You can think of it as sort of “resetting” yourself after each repetition.  Before your first rep, get yourself into position and go through a mental checklist of key cues.  Perform the rep, set the weight down (or just a pause for other movements), and quickly go through that mental checklist again to make sure you’re ready to perform the next rep with proper technique.  This is a simple yet effective tool for keeping form tight that can be applied to almost any exercise. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that Eric B. and Rakim are full of crap; you better “SWEAT the technique!”  Proper resistance training technique will allow you to progress faster, get stronger, stay injury-free, and ultimately help you to reach your goals.  As Chad Aichs has said, “Technique is everything.” Conor Nordengren can be reached at cnordengren@gmail.com. Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter and Receive a Deadlift Technique Video!
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Speed vs. Reps, Round Pegs in Square Holes, and Ignorant Coaches

Some recommended reading for the day: The Dynamic Method vs. the Repetition Method - A common question among resistance training beginners who've begun to "think outside the box" is whether they should bother using the dynamic method with their strength exercises if they aren't all that strong (yet).  I answer this common inquiry in this blog post. 6 Mistakes: Fitting Round Pegs into Square Holes - This T-Nation article from a while back highlights some situations where it's important to not force something that just isn't there. "My Coach Says I Shouldn't Lift" - This was one of those pieces that was just fun to write because it's such a ridiculous recommendation from a coach - but the sad truth is that it's happening all the time across the country.  So, spread the word and help some kids out! Sign-up Today for our FREE Newsletter:
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Weight Training Programs: 11 Ways to Make Strength Exercises Harder

If you search through the archives here at T-Nation, you'll find hundreds of programs you can try. In fact, there are probably enough for you to rotate through for the rest of your training career without ever having to complete the same one twice. However, I'd venture to guess that most of you aren't here just because you want to be told exactly what to do. Rather, in the process, you want to learn why you're doing something, and how to eventually be able to do a better job of programming for yourself. It's no different than being a guy who's given a sample diet plan — but wants to know what to order off the menu when eating out; a little education on thinking on the fly goes a long way. So, to that end, I want to use this article as a means of educating you on how to take that next step. The 11 tips that follow should help you progress the strength exercises in your program from one month to the next to make them more challenging. Continue Reading...
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How to Select a Weight to Use in a Resistance Training Program

The question of what weight to use in a resistance training program comes up very commonly not only among beginners, but also intermediate and experienced lifters.  So, when I got this question from a reader recently, it gave me the kick in the pants I needed to cover this in a detailed write-up.

Q: I have a question about how to select weights to use within programs like yours that may fluctuate the sets and reps from week to week.  For example, if it’s 4x3 in week 1, 4x2 in week 2, 4x4 in week 3, and 3x3 in week 4, are there are certain percentages that I can use based off my one-rep max?  This would make it easier to know exactly what weight to use each week.

A: Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to paraphrase a bit from chapter 2 of the Show and Go main guide. Let me preface this explanation by saying that the goal of all my programs – and indeed any good strength and conditioning program – is to get stronger. And, I fully expect you to do so.

sag-main

Now, if that’s the case, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to select what weight to use based on percentages of one-rep maxes that were taken before the program even began. By the time you get to phases 2, 3, and 4, you aren’t going to have sufficient overload to make optimal progress.

So, to that end, I rarely assign training percentages. All sets should be to one rep shy of failure; basically, go hard but never attempt a rep that you won't complete on your own. Each session should be somewhat of a test of your new strength as you work up to heavier loads and listen to your body along the way.

As a frame of reference, on your first (main) exercise(s), just work up to your heaviest set of the day (in perfect form, of course), and then find 90% of it. Anything you did above that 90% number "counts" as a set. Anything done before it is a warm-up. So, imagine you had 4 set of 3 reps planned on the bench press, and you worked up to 300 on you heaviest set using the following progression:

Set 1: 45x8
Set 2: 135x5
Set 3: 185x3
Set 4: 225x3
Set 5: 275x3
Set 6: 295x3
Set 7: 300x3

That puts you at three sets (275, 295, and 300) above 90% of your heaviest load for the day (300). So, to get a fourth set in, you just need to get one more set somewhere between 270 (90%) and 300 (100%). By the next week, this 90-100% range may have shifted up by 5-10 pounds, so you have to accommodate it – and prescribing percentages on an old one-rep-max just doesn’t do the job justice.

It really doesn’t matter what rep range is in question – whether you’re doing heavy singles or a 5x5 workout.  You can really apply it to just about every set in every training session when you're wondering what weight to use.

For more information, check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

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Unstable Ankles: It Ain’t Just the Sneakers

I got the following questions from a Show and Go customer this morning and thought I'd turn it into a quick Q&A: Do high-top basketball shoes provide any significant stability and safety advantages over low-tops that would make me NOT want to buy low-tops? When I played hoops in high school my ankles rolled over at least once every few months, so it feels obvious that there's a lot more to the stability equation than the height of the ankle on the shoe. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I sent him to these two articles: Nike Shox and High Heels The Importance of Ankle Mobility Then, I gave him the following advice: "I would never put one of my athletes in high-tops. The introduction of the high top and the addition of big heel lifts in sneakers is, in my eyes, the cause of the epidemic of anterior knee pain and the emergence of high ankle sprains. And, you're right that there is more to the stability equation than the height of the shoe: the muscles and tendons of the lower leg (particularly the peroneals) actually have to do some work to prevent ankle sprains. Put yourself in a concrete block of a shoe and tape your ankles and you are just asking all those muscles to shut down." For more information on truly functional stability training for the lower leg and core, check out my e-book, The Truth About Unstable Surface Training.

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Strength Exercise of the Week: DB Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit

Looking for a masochistic new strength exercise to add to your resistance training program? Try the Dumbbell Bulgarian Split Squat from Deficit, one of my favorite movements for improving hip mobility while really challenging lower body strength and frontal plane stability. If you need to shake up your workout routine, this is a great place to start - assuming you don't mind being miserably sore!

For more innovative strength exercises and a comprehensive, versatile program to get you to where you need to be, check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

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Strength Training Programs: What a Puppy Can Teach You About Resistance Training Progress

As I mentioned in a blog earlier this week, my wife and I got a puppy last weekend.  "Tank" is absolutely awesome and we (and all the CP clients) love him.

Like any puppy, though, it is going to take some time to housebreak him.  While he's going to crap on the floor and pee on the carpet quite a bit over the first few months, we have faith in the fact that if we praise him like crazy and give him treats consistently each time he "goes" outside, he will get the point eventually and make great progress.  This "faith" has been present in every single pet owner with whom we've talked over the past month.

Nobody uses electroshock routines to try to "get through" to the puppy faster, and there aren't thousands of supplements out there to expedite outdoor crappy progress.  People are patient and trust in the system.

Wouldn't it be nice if those beginning strength training programs were like this???

I am fortunate to know a lot of people who have made ridiculous progress in the weight room and dramatically changed their bodies.  And, I can tell you that just about all of them chalk up a big chunk of their success to just consistently busting their humps - both in the weight room and the kitchen - for years.  I've never met a world-class bodybuilder, powerlifter, or other athlete that devotes a huge part of their success to a supplement they use, or radical training program they did in their first few years of training.  It's funny, though; when I meet an up-and-coming lifter or athlete (and particularly professional baseball players), the first question is "what supplements should I take?"  I generally recommend "Shut up and Train" in softgel form.

I've commented before on how I attribute a big chunk of my success to the fact that I didn't miss a single planned resistance training session in roughly eight years - and to end that streak, it took 32 inches of snow in 24 hours (and I made the lift up the next day).

Consistency is the most important thing – especially in beginners.  You don’t need reverse undulating cybernetic periodization with quasi-isometric inverted wave loading and contrast training; you need to shut up and pick up some heavy stuff, as anything will work as you begin as long as you are consistent.  Heck, I did garbage weight training programs straight out of bodybuilding magazines when I first got started and made great progress because there was no place to go but up.  All that mattered was that for two years, I went home after lifting and shoveled down about 1,500 calories of quality food each and every time.  My diet and training may not have been perfect (or even close to it), but they were damn consistent. So, the next time you think that you start thinking that you're super special and physiologically different from everyone else, imagine me standing out in my backyard at 5:30AM freezing my butt off while I wait for my puppy to drop a deuce so that he can take one more step toward awesomeness while you spin your wheels.  It might put things in perspective and have you back to the basics before you know it. To take the guesswork out of your programming, check out Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better.

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Alex Maroko’s Readers: How to Create a Real Strength and Conditioning Program

Because Alex Maroko is a good buddy of mine, I decided to make this webinar available to you at absolutely no cost. If you want to learn about the thought process behind each strength and conditioning program I write - for athletes that range from baseball players, to basketball stars, to professional boxers, to Olympic bobsledders - then look no further.

If You Read Alex's Daily Emails, Use His Special Show and Go Half-Off Discount Link Below Today for Big Savings!

Click Here to Learn More About Show and Go: High Performance Training to Look, Feel, and Move Better

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LEARN HOW TO DEADLIFT
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