Friday, 15 January 2010
It seems to me, from what I can see around the gym these days, is that PTs are coming from an orthopedic angle when it comes to training their clients. Rather than ‘training’, it seems more like rehabilitation. Do PTs think that Average Joe Office Worker needs rehab, before they consider them able to ‘train’?
Saturday, 5 September 2009
I was gobsmacked to say the least.
I never realised that people actually looked at the thing...
Anyway, now that I'm all settled into my new job, and my shoulder injury is sorted (fingers crossed) I've decided to start using my blog again as a sorce of motivation, encourgement and a means of recording progress.
The idea of a blog is for others to read (otherwise you could just write it out in a diary) but I never realised how much this blog motivated me.
Anyway, I've decided to rework my workout based on a few comments left about lack of lower body work. Its something that needs addressing, so my workout it going to get a makeover. I will post soon, and if anyway have comments, positive or negative (it's all good) I would love to hear them.
Thursday, 29 January 2009
I think I am going to have to start a focused training plan. Every now and again I tend to lose sight of my goals and objectives, and need reigning back in.
This is one of those times.
I am also going to make an effort to record my lifts, and progress. I tend to find that I forget what I can lift, and as a result, my progress can stall.
I might be lifting the same weight week in week out, and sometimes I have actually dropped weight because I have forgotten what I lifted before.
I want to make a accurate note, this is what I will work on this week.
I have this so far,
XK, e.g. 15k is the weight in Kilograms.
(X, X, X, X, X) Is the amount of sets, and the reps within each set E.g. (8, 8, 8, 8, 8) Is 5 sets, of eight reps per set.
Xneg = Negative phase only. E.g. (5neg, 5neg) would be 2 sets, with 5 negative repetitions.
½ = Half the movement only. E.g. (3, 1(3 ½ ), 1 (2 ½ )) would be 3 reps, followed by 1 rep and 3 half reps followed by 1 rep and 2 half reps.
Secs = How many seconds I can hold for e.g. 10secs.
1 – Shoulders
Handstand Push-ups (assisted again wall) (15, 15, 15, 14, 12)
Handstand Push-ups (unassisted) (1, 1, 1, 1, 1)
Handstand Pushups (raised elbow leaver position)
Barbell Row 17.5K (unknown)
Lateral Raises 10k (10, 10, 10, 10, 10) Move up a weight.
Shoulder Barbell Press 15k (7, 5, 5, 4, 3)
Shoulder twists. 10k (10, 10, 10, 10, 10) Move up a weight.
Bicep Curl 16k (8, 8, 8, 7, 5)
Bicep Curl (machine) (Unknown)
2 – Body Weight
Handstand to elbow leaver (I have done this once or twice, but find hard to get the technique)
L Seat to 90 degree Planche (unknown)
Planche Hold attempt
3 – Chest
Psudo Pushups (8, 8, 8, 8, 8)
Raised Push-ups unassisted (unknown)
Raised Pushups assisted with all, (unknown)
Bench Press barbell 40K (not including bar) (6, 6, 6, 6, 6)
Dumbbell press 40k (4, 4, 3, 3, 3)
Dips (15, 15, 15, 12, 10)
4 – Body Weight
Handstand to elbow leaver.
L Seat to 90 degree Planche
Planche Hold attempt x
5 – Back
Wide Grip Pull-ups (6,6,6,6,5)
Horizontal Pull-ups (10,10,10,9,9)
Seated Row 73K (8,8,8,7,6)
Behind Neck Pull-ups (2,2,1,1,1)
Reverse lat Pulldowns 100k (7,5,5,4,3)
Straight arm pulldowns 36k (8,8,8,8,7)
6 – Body Weight
Handstand to elbow leaver.
L Seat to 90 degree Planche
Planche Hold attempt x
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
I guess it must be all the fatties getting upset... So, I guess I am going to have to change the name of my Blog, to Gymnastic Inspired Training for Overweight/People who can't stop eating/bloaters!
But, it just doesn't have the same ring to it! :(
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Tuesday, 18 November 2008
This is a decent sized sports hall that can accommodate about 7/10 people all doing there own thing... So what’s the fucking problem? It's actually really driving me crazy as my bodyweight training is suffering massively as I don’t have anywhere to train.
Anyway, I am thinking about quitting the gym and finding another location.
This is a decent sized sports hall that can accommodate about 7/10 people all doing there own thing... So what’s the fucking problem? It's actually really driving me crazy as my bodyweight training is suffering massively as I don’t have anywhere to train.
Anyway, I am thinking about quitting the gym and finding another location.
Tuesday, 14 October 2008
I was very bad, sore neck and back and combining this with almost drowning in my own mucus I wasn't very happy.
But, I feel great again now, so I’m back at the training although I feel this has massively stalled, and I'm making very little progress I’m going to plough away, and stick at it.
Tuesday, 30 September 2008
I don’t think there is a lot they can do for a fractured clavicle but rest it, but I carried on training like an idiot.
To be honest I’m not completely convinced that I fractured it as people I have spoken to who have fractured theirs have said they were unable to move their shoulder afterwards. But, on the other hand I fractured my wrist when I was a kid and didn’t realise for two days.
Anyhow, the doctor has put me on something called Diclofenac, and anti inflammatory drug that so far is working wonders with my shoulder.
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
So, this is my (attempted) Tuck Planche. This move is actually extremely difficult, or so I am finding.
I can’t even imagine the amount of strength that is going to be required to hold myself in the Advanced Tuck Planche as I am majorly struggling with the basic Tuck Planche.
When doing the handstand the body’s skeletal structure takes most of the weight and the muscles simply hold the body in place. With the Planche most of the body is supported by the muscles with minimal support from the skeletal structure.
I have been practising this for a month now, and only recently have I managed to hold the Tuck Planche, as briefly as it may be.
For me the most important thing is the fact that I am doing it correctly (as far as I can tell, if anyone has any suggestion please speak up) with my back being parallel to the floor and my legs unsupported on my knees or inner thigh. The Tuck Planche isn’t to be confused with the Crane/Crow stance in Yoga were the legs rest on the arms.
Of course, it’s about leverage, and the more vertical to the floor the spine is the easier this becomes. Saying this, the more vertical the spine becomes, the less it’s a Tuck Planche, and more a Handstand.
I am planning to keep improving this, gaining in strength in order to hold the position for longer.
My arms need to be straighter and eventually I will start to move my legs further out but this is something I am going to progress to and it will probably take some time to achieve.
But, for now I am pleased with this, even though it’s only a 3 second hold :)
And this is what is should look like, in about 10 years! :)
Train on brothers!
Saturday, 20 September 2008
So, I was trawling the net ages ago and stumbled across a interesting page about hand-stands. I remember reading something about making a claw shape on the floor for added strengh in the fore arms. I really didn't pay much attention to this at the time but last night i remembered this advice and decided to give it a go.
My God! It really does work. So, if you're having a hard time hold a handstand try the following.
Rather than placing your hand on the floor like this, make a claw shape and attemp to claw the floor. This will provide you will added fore arm strengh.
This technique has improved my handstand by a long way.
Hope this helps someone else.
Viva La Revelucion!
Friday, 19 September 2008
Stretching (a decent stretch routine can take 30/40 minutes I have found.)
I have also been told that to increase flexibility I should stretch 5/6 times a week. That is basically every time I train bar 1.
I generally work to the principle of about 15 minutes per skill, so I will practice a Pike Press over and over again for 15 mins.
I find this approach is better than doing sets or reps, as sometimes I can do the Pike Press every time, and other days I’m totally rubbish and can’t do a single one (well, not quite but you get my point). So 15 mins of attempting the Pike Press means the time for that exercise is kept in-check.
I try and do 3 skills per workout on off weightlifting days.
Foam Roller (ideally every session for trouble areas), I did a full body Foam Roller last night and that took about 40 mins, so I would say around 10 to 15 minutes per problem muscle.
Weight Lifting – this can take up to about 1 hour per body part.
CV - should be around 30 minutes per day, at a steady rate.
I was reading an article about gymnasts and how they train about 7 hours per day and I can see why they would need to. I Ideally would train around 180 minutes per day to be able to be able to achieve what I want. And that's for a fat, pen pushing desk monkey like me.
How does everyone else manage to cram all this into their sessions?
Thursday, 18 September 2008
This is something known as Self-myofasicial release. The very basic idea is that when using the foam roller, we can stimulate the Golgi Tendon Organ that is found at the join between tendon and muscle. Once the GTO is stimulated it relaxes the muscle to gain a greater range of motion.
If you’re anything like me and you only have a certain amount of free space in your brain to retain all of life’s information, then I will sum it up.
1) The foam roller does not increase flexibility (to any great extent) per se.
2) The foam roller increases the productivity of a more traditional stretching routine.
3) The foam rollers is similar to having a deep muscle massage (except cheaper) and will slowly help to lessen muscular scare tissue and adhesion.
4) The foam roller will not wank you off for an added ‘tip’.
Wednesday, 17 September 2008
I never really feel that a workout of 3 sets is any good, as I always seem to get tired out at the end of a set (unable to do anymore) but with a brief rest (10/30seconds) I’m ready to go again. I know a lot of people thing 3 sets is plenty, and 6 is too many but this just seems to suit me well.
When doing 6 sets my muscles actually feel fatigued at the end of the 6 sets, unlike when doing 3 sets.
Tuesday, 16 September 2008
Thursday, 11 September 2008
When I feel like this, I miss a few gym sessions but then I get this horrible feeling of ‘well, I’ve missed the gym for 3 days, I’m obviously not that interested in training anymore so what’s the fucking point?’ I ask myself.
5 day off, that’s all I took and I felt awful for it, but I felt great when I went back. I can safely say that I have a mild exercise addiction…but so fucking what!
I am consistently amazed at the influence exercise can have on my mind.
Anyway, I went back to the gym and had a great workout, although I really had to force myself there. Some people need to train when they feel down, let out their aggression. I’m not like this, I’m a happy trainer. If I feel depressed I don’t want to train, I have no motivation and feel tired but the irony is that this is probably when I need to train the most.
Almost instantly after the workout had finished I had this amazing euphoric feeling - I felt great and the problems I have been having with work actually don’t seem as serious as I first thought.
Friday, 5 September 2008
The handstand is a great move for fun and for fitness and for the more intellectual trainer, http://evotraining.blogspot.com/2008/08/get-inverted.html read this.
It’s and extremely basic move but I was getting frustrated with my inconsistence with the ability to kick into, and hold the handstand every time.
Yesterday, I realised that my hand and arm alignment has everything to do with being able to consistently kick-up into a handstand.
The original tutorial I followed for the handstand instructed me to kick with straight arms, but recently I have realised that it’s much easier to start from the bent arm position, and quickly straighten the arms once the legs get to the correct balancing point.
This bent arm method gives me more control, and enables me to get the correct balance before straightening the arms and making it look good.
Wednesday, 3 September 2008
You must approach strength training for gymnastic style moves in a methodical, sensible fashion.
Emphasize the correct Muscle.
When you create a strength training plan exclusively for Beast Skills, I think you should emphasize the shoulders, back, chest, arms, abdominals, and thighs. These are the “order of importance” for your workout. The shoulders are used more than any of the other muscles, and therefore are trained first in a workout when your body is fresh.
Select Exercises for the Beast Skills muscle
There are many, many exercises that you can perform for each of the body parts. Think about what body parts are sore after a practice or performance and consider exercises that will train that area. Generally, you should try to perform 2 exercises for each body part when designing a sport specific strength training plan for Gymnastic style moves.
Start Slowly Then Move Faster
For gymnastics training you should start the exercise slowly and methodically. As your muscles start to tire out, you then try to speed up the repetitions. The weight probably won’t move faster at this point, but the increased effort to speed up will tax the muscle fibers more. Continue until you cannot perform another repetition with perfect form. Use a spotter if training with free weights.
Train the Individual “Heads” Of the Shoulders
The shoulders have three separate heads or areas. They are the anterior deltoid, the medial deltoid, and the posterior deltoid. It is a good idea to train these heads individually. Front raises, lateral raises, and the reverse pec-deck machine are good choices.
Swiss Balls are good for ab work.
A swiss ball is amazingly effective for working your abdominal muscles. It allows you to stretch your abdominals before flexing them. Most abdominal exercises don’t allow for a full stretch of the abdominals, and are therefore less effective for a gymnast, who wants very strong abdominals.
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
One thing I found that really aided me was being able to do enough hand-stand push-ups against the wall. I would say, about 10 in a row is about right for a skill like this. I found that a lot more strength is required for the handstand push-up (unassisted) than the handstand push-up (wall assisted). This may seem obvious but I was really surprised at the difference in strength that’s required. When doing the HSPU unassisted you need to be able to recruit a lot more stabilising muscles in order to hold the position, without this basic core strength this move is impossible, no matter how big or strong you think your shoulder muscles are.
So, if you are struggling to hold the handstand push-up as you lower yourself to the group, try incorporating some Core Work into your workouts.
Another important aspect is hand/body position. If you don’t have the correct hand positioning then this move it a complete bitch, if not impossible. What I found was that if my hands are too close together, I’m unable to generate the required strength on the positive section of the move. But, if my hands are wider than shoulder width apart I’m able to generate the strength to get me back up. I suppose this really depends of everyone’s body type but it's something to keep in mind.
Saturday, 30 August 2008
I am very please with this progress and I'm sure before long I will be able to do this move without any type of kick or rock up...
Thursday, 28 August 2008
when I see something like this, its makes me realise that i'm years away from being able to do this... If I ever can.
I have been doing this since Monday and I feel rotten. I am tired all the time, even what I wake up in the morning and my workouts have lacked energy and motivation. It’s so hard to exercise when not motivated and having this massive lack of energy I’m currently experiencing is very disheartening.
I guess once I am down to my target weight I will increase my calories again to maintenance level, and then a few weeks after that increase to a muscle building level (my personal level that works for me) of maybe 3000/3500 a day.
I am hoping that my body is in shock, and hope this tiredness doesn’t continue until I hit 13 stone.
I know people that are constantly dieting, (incorrectly I suppose if they are constantly doing it) but I really don’t know how they managed to live with this feeling… I imagine constantly dieting, and then putting the weight back on must play havoc with any training routine.
Wednesday, 27 August 2008
I think that at the moment I am a little too heavy to be hauling my body weight around, and if I was lighter then these skills would be a lot easier.
Look at the body composition of “gymnasts” and anyone that can do some of the more impressive beast skill moves they are all relatively slim, I on the other hand am carrying a little bit too much beef.
So at 14 stone I intend of cutting to about 13 stone, this will hopefully increase my strength (by the fact that I will be lifting less weight) and enable me to be able to pull off some of the more complicated skills.
In theory :)
Thursday, 21 August 2008
As in the above picture but my knee are on the inside of my arms rather than the outside. This is a precursor to the Planche and something one attemps to build the required strengh to hold the Planche. (see image 2, Jim from www.beastskills.com)
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Interesting post, what are your thoughts on the claims that a woman burns less energy from the same activity? I thought you might have an evolutionary angle on this comment...
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
I started to wonder if this was a problem with society in general, do we think that skinny = healthy? I can’t help but think that if people got as obsessed with fitness as they do with weight loss, they would be killing two birds with one stone… I.e. if you get fit, losing ‘fat’ (not weight) will take care of itself.
Oh, and its essential to point the toes, and this help maintain straight legs. Not only does this look better, but it’s more consistent hence easier to control.
Monday, 18 August 2008
Monday: 30 min run
Tuesday: 30 min run
Wednesday: 30 mins stretching session
Thursday: 30 min run
Friday: 30 min run
Leg Stretch to start, 15 mins.
A- Skills (2 per workout)
Ball Pike Press
Hand Stand to Crab (unable to do)
Crab to Handstand. (unable to do)
Head-Stand to Hand-Stand - and reverse
L-Seat to Planche Hand-stand
Hand-Stand Pushup (freestanding)
Straddle to Planche Hand-stand
Pick 2 body parts per workout.
Weighted V sits
L Seat Sides
Hanging Leg Raises
Wide Grip Pullups
Towel Pullups (weighted 10k)
Planche Shoulder Pushups
Wide Ball Pushups
Straddle Planche Hold
Pushup Dynos, (Close to wide hand position)
Barbell Upright Row
Hand-Stand Push-ups (one handed, aided with the other hand on a step)
Cable Shoulder Rotations
Light Upper body stretch to finish.
Sunday, 17 August 2008
Gymnasts are known for their strength, grace, and flexibility. These are a few ways to increase those traits in yourself, whether or not you are a gymnast.
- Work on your abs. For almost all aspects of gymnastics, you need great stomach muscles, especially on bars. Mastering moves such as hollow body (when you lie flat on the ground and lift your legs and shoulders and arms, so that only your back and butt are on the ground. If you are doing it correctly, your stomach should become hard and it should be difficult. Try to work your way up to holding this position for a minute or more.) This can help you to do a variety of strength moves such as tuck-ups (when you do hollow body position, then curl up into a tuck so that only your back is still on the ground, and then back to hollow body- do about 30 at a time) and v-ups (same as tuck-ups but instead of going into a tuck, you go into a v position with only your butt on the ground), and plank position (when you lie on your stomach and put your elbows on the ground and lift your stomach so that only your feet and elbows and forearms are on the ground- hold for 1-2 minutes). Practicing these moves can help with gymnastics or simply to get the body you want. Hollow body position is vital to your success in Gymnastics, because you will use it at every event and if you do it incorrectly it can cause many problems. However, if you master it, and it becomes a good habit you will have great success in gymnastics.
- Build leg muscles. This is not as important as abs but is still necessary. This can be done by running or heel-raises (when you stand on the edge of a surface- such as on the stairs or in gymnastics you can stand on the beam with your heels off the edge of the beam and you go from having your heels as far down as they go to standing on your toes, and repeat that about 100 times).
- Build up your arm muscles. Do push-ups and pull-ups to get that muscle. Try a drill where you have a surface that is about 3/4 of a foot tall, and you do three sets of push-ups: 30 with your hands on top of the mat, 25 on the ground, and 20 with your feet on top of the mat and your hands on the ground.
- Develop flexibility. Try doing all three splits every day for two minutes each. Once you have those splits down, you can work on the flexibility in your thigh by going into either your right or left leg split and lifting the foot of your back leg up so that that leg is bent. It's a really good stretch. Also practice going into a straddle and touching both legs and getting your stomach to the ground in the center. Try to touch your toes in a pike. Gymnasts should be flexible all over- not just in splits.
- Take dance classes or practice drills for balance and coordination. This should help you become more graceful.
Saturday, 16 August 2008
Friday, 15 August 2008
Wednesday, 13 August 2008
I tried tonight, and with jelous infused strengh actully managed to leave the ground (for the first time). It seems that (like with so much of my training) that once I have seen someone (or as in this case read about someone) elses efforts it inspires me to try harder, and achieve more...
anyway, I managed to leave the groud, although I felt the landing jar my wrist and i wonder if i have my hands in the correct positions.
Friday, 8 August 2008
Thursday, 7 August 2008
Wednesday, 6 August 2008
Building an Olympic Body through Bodyweight Conditioning
We have all seen them on television during the Olympics; these powerful men performing amazing skills with ease and grace. Watching them perform the question inevitably arises - are they as powerful as they look? And the answer is - yes. What will probably be even more surprising to you is that they build their strength and physiques almost entirely with various bodyweight exercises. The list of requirements is long and can be rather daunting to prepare a world class athlete: passive flexibility, active flexibility, joint preparation, static strength, dynamic strength etc. etc. and is probably only interesting in detail to those of us involved with the physical preparation of champions. There are of course some supplemental exercises where weight is added (i.e. weighted leg lifts), however the central premise remains; these amazing athletes have built the vast majority of their strength and power through the use of bodyweight conditioning.
Now another question that we should ask ourselves - is the bodyweight training of the Olympians also beneficial to the fitness enthusiast? And if so, is it possible to apply at least some of it to those without a professional instructor to guide them or tens of thousands of dollars of specialized gymnastics equipment? And the answers are once again - yes and yes. There are some of our specialized exercises that are relatively easy to learn and require little or no equipment beyond a chin-up bar and some floor space. In this article, I will cover the basic progressions needed to learn two primary gymnastics exercises: the planche and the front lever. This will be by no means a complete bodyweight training program, but rather an introduction. These two movements were chosen for their novelty, the simplicity of the movements and for the excellent strength gains that are possible for those who are willing to commit the necessary sweat and dedication. The planche will be our pressing movement and the front lever will be our pulling movement. At advanced levels, adding a pushup to the planche and a pull-up to the front lever will effectively give a fairly intense full upper body workout, including the abs and lower back. Now before continuing further into our training, let’s first regress and consider the question of why to do bodyweight conditioning in the first place? A common misconception is that bodyweight exercises do not build substantial strength but are rather more suited for building endurance. For most people this conjures images of endless pushups, sit-ups or for the strong, perhaps pull-ups and dips. Great maybe for general fitness or endurance, but of little value in building real strength. First of all, exercise is exercise. Period. The name of the game is resistance. A muscle contracts against resistance and, with perseverance, over time, becomes stronger. For strength to increase, the amount of resistance or load worked against must also increase over time. Hence the problem with bodyweight conditioning - as the resistance (weight of the body) is fixed, how to continue to increase strength? Surprisingly the answer is simple - by decreasing the amount of leverage it is possible to exert on an exercise, the resistance of an exercise becomes increasingly greater. For example, a hanging straight leg lift is much harder than a tucked leg lift. In both exercises the weight of your legs remains constant, however by reducing your leverage (i.e. in this case straightening your legs) we are able to greatly increase the resistance. By straightening the legs we have effectively doubled the difficulty of the exercise even though the weight of the body has remained constant. With experience and creativity it is possible to learn or design exercises that, done correctly and with the proper progressions, are so lacking in leverage that even at bodyweight levels of resistance it is possible to build staggering amounts of strength. In addition to strength, the athlete will also develop excellent balance, coordination, agility and exceptional core strength. Perhaps that is why spectacular film athletes like Jackie Chan and Mark Dacascos always include gymnastics training in their physical preparation. How well do the progressions that I am going to share with you work? Well, consider that fact that Mr. Mas Watanabe recently visited my men’s gymnastics program and was astounded by the levels of strength and development he saw. For those of you outside the gymnastics community, Mr. Watanabe has been for the past 30 plus years, one of our primary leaders of men’s gymnastics here in the United States and has personally worked with and evaluated every Olympian, World Championship, National, and Junior National Team member that our country has produced during this time. After observing my current athletes completing their daily bodyweight conditioning program, Mr. Watanabe informed me that they were the strongest most physically prepared group of athletes he had ever seen. In fact he went so far as to state that he had never even seen another group come close. Now the main point that I would like to emphasize here - is that their physical development was procured almost exclusively through consistent progressive bodyweight conditioning. How strong is it possible to become with bodyweight exercises? Amazingly strong. In fact I would go so far as to say, done correctly, far stronger than someone who had trained for the same amount of time with free weights. Want some concrete examples? One of my former students, JJ Gregory (1993 Junior National Champion on the Still Rings) developed such a high degree of strength from my bodyweight conditioning program that on his first day in his high school weightlifting class he deadlifted 400lbs., and this at the scale breaking weight of 135 lbs. and a height of 5’3”.
After this I was curious and wanted to measure JJ’s one rep max on weighted pull-ups. We started fairly light with 10 lbs. or so. I continued adding more weight while JJ performed single rep after single rep. Unfortunately I didn’t know about chinning belts and chains at that time and the cheap leather belt we were using broke at 75 lbs. Once again, I repeat, at 75 lbs. and JJ had never performed a weighted pull-up in his life. But he had performed years of my specialized bodyweight conditioning exercises. How much could JJ have chinned that day? We will never know for sure, but I will tell you that at 75 lbs. JJ was laughing and joking with me and did not appear to be noticeably bothered by the weight. And JJ, while the strongest, is not an isolated case. For example, over the years I would occasionally (once a year or so) allow my athletes to test their one rep max on weighted chins (an exercise we never perform as part of our regular conditioning) simply so that they could have proof positive of the enormous measurable strength gains which they were enjoying. My own son at the age of 13 and a bodyweight of around 110 lbs. could chin 50 lbs. for 8 reps and it was not at all unusual for a 60 lb. younger athlete to perform 5 or more reps with 25 lbs. In addition to his amazing strength, look again at the incredible physique that JJ built solely through various bodyweight exercises. Also look at the pictures of some of my current group of athletes. Pretty buff for boys who mostly range from 7-11 years old and have never lifted weights. As well, consider the fact that as competitive athletes, they never train for appearance. Their physiques are solely the result of their training their bodies for the function of becoming better athletes. In other words, their physiques (and anyone else’s who trains in this manner) are functional first and ornamental second. Why does correct bodyweight conditioning work so well? There are several, the first is contraction. Basically, the harder the contraction over a greater part of the body during an exercise, the more effective the exercise. For maximum improvements training to failure is not necessary, but maximum contraction is. One of the main advantages to these advanced bodyweight exercises is that they require a complete full body contraction. In fact, at advanced levels, they are so demanding that it is simply not possible to complete them any other way. Another primary reason for their beneficial results is the nature of the static holds themselves. By holding the bodyweight in a disadvantaged leverage position, we are effectively multiplying the resistance of our bodyweight. Or more simply stated, we are supporting a heavy weight in a locked static position. This has tremendous positive impact on the strength of the joints and connective tissue and aids greatly in overall strength development. Many great weightlifting champions have sworn by the benefits of holding heavy weights in a locked position. Two that immediately come to mind are Paul Anderson and John Grimek, who both made heavy supports a regular part of their early training. Success at these exercises requires consistent incremental improvements. Do not seek improvement quickly or become frustrated after only a few weeks. You would not poke a seed into the ground and then jump back waiting for the plant to explode out instantly. You must be patient with physical conditioning also. While you may become more skillful or feel more powerful while performing a new exercise relatively quickly, this is due to becoming more neurologically efficient (“greasing the grove”), rather than experiencing an absolute gain in strength. It takes approximately 6 weeks to establish the first concrete strength gains. In other words, make haste - slowly. Be prepared to spend at least six months at these exercises to work through the various progressions. What?! Six months?! Yes, that’s right, at least six months. Some people may need to spend a year or more. You wouldn’t expect to bench press 300 lbs. right away. Nor should you expect to build high level bodyweight strength instantly either. Be consistent, be patient and soon you too can be enjoying the benefits of greatly increased strength and athletic ability. Alright enough talk, let’s get down to work and learn these progressions so that we can begin building some muscle. The following progressions will teach you how to perform the planche and the front lever as well as their more advanced variations; planche pushups and front lever pull-ups. We will begin with various static (non-moving, held) positions. From there, we will progress to the more dynamic pushing and pulling movements. You will use the same basic strength progression on all of the following exercises. Be sure to master one position in a progression before moving onto the next. Hold for sets of however many seconds you feel comfortable, while continuing to combine the time of your sets until you reach 60 seconds total time. The number of sets it takes to reach the 60 seconds combined total time is irrelevant. All that matters is that you accomplish 60 seconds of “quality work”. Once you can hold a position correctly for the entire 60 seconds in one set, it is time to move on to the next harder exercise and begin the training procedure all over again. Now there are some exceptions to this rule, but we will address them later as we come to them. Static holds can be performed each day for maximum benefit. However it is also possible to obtain excellent results with other workout schedules. The traditional Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday work well. My personal favorite that allows maximum work combined with substantial rest is Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. Everyone’s recovery ability is different. Simply experiment with the various schedules to see which suits your individual needs best. Static holds can easily be placed anywhere in your current routine. My preference is to place them at the end of our physical preparation time. Once you have progressed to the more demanding planche pushups and front lever pull-ups, they should be placed in your workout in an appropriate spot for that exercise and body part and the static holds can continue to be placed at the end of the workout. You should work your way through the various progressions of both the planche and the front lever at the same time. As they work complementary muscle groups, working these two exercises together will actually increase the speed of your overall improvement as well as providing you with balanced development and strength in your shoulder girdle and core.
The Planche Progressions
Obviously, for those of us who are mere mortals, it is not possible to simply remove the legs from the floor and go directly to the planche. However with the proper progressions and patience, this position is attainable by a reasonably fit, hard working athlete. While working the various planches, strive to hold the hips level with the shoulders. Make sure that the elbows are straight. Bending the elbows greatly lessens the intensity of these exercises and will greatly slow your progress. Almost straight is still bent, so be diligent and keep them straight. One final general note on planches; hand positions on the planche series exercises is completely optional. Some prefer fingers forward, others to the side. Some swear by support on fingertips (my favorite) and others completely flat. Just experiment and find the grip that you prefer. If you find that a flat hand support on the floor is too uncomfortable for your wrists, these progressions can also be performed on a set of push-up bars. Frog Stand Begin this position by assuming a full squat and placing your hands on the ground directly in front of your feet. By directly, I mean right next to your toes. Arrange yourself so that your knees are resting against your bent elbows. Now gradually lean forward taking your weight both unto your hands and also unto your knees by leaning them on your elbows. Using your knees on your elbows will allow your legs to help your shoulders bear the load of your bodyweight. As you continue leaning forward you will eventually be able to remove your feet completely from the floor and hold yourself up with only your hands on the floor and your knees on your elbows for support. Balance is also a key to this exercise. As you first begin to learn how to lean forward in this position, you will often probably overextend and fall forward. Don’t worry have fun with it and enjoy some new training. Some pillows placed in front of you will help to cushion any crash landings. Notice that this is the only static position in our progressions with bent elbows. Continue holding sets of this position until you have reached your one minute total time.
Tuck Planche The main difference between the frog stand and the tuck planche is that now your weight will be entirely supported on your arms only. Once again begin in a full squat and place your hands next to your toes. Now, as in the frog stand, lean forward taking all of your weight on your arms and shoulders alone. Do not use your knees on your elbows for assistance. Holding the knees tightly to the chest will make this exercise easier. At first you may only be able to briefly raise off the ground. Do not worry. Keep adding small sets together to reach your goal of 60 seconds total. Simply continue working the position, striving to lift your hips to shoulder high. With consistent practice it is possible to increase your strength in static positions relatively quickly.
Advanced Tuck Planche Once you feel comfortable with the tuck planche and are able to hold it for 60 seconds with correct hips and elbows, you can increase the difficulty of this exercise by progressing on to the Advanced Tuck Planche. The primary difference between the tuck and advanced tuck planche is the position of the back. Note that in the tuck planche the back is curved, while in the advanced tuck planche the back appears flat. While holding your hips shoulder high, try to extend your hips back behind you until your back is flat. This “flattening” will greatly increase the intensity of the tuck planche. In fact, I think you will be extremely surprised at how much harder such a small movement can make the tuck planche. Continue working this position, until you are once again able to hold the static for 60 seconds correctly in a single set with your back completely straight (“flat”).
Straddle Planche Once you have mastered the advanced tuck planche position you are ready to work on the straddle planche. Finally! After months of hard consistent work the end is now in sight. While learning this skill, it is also beneficial to practice the next progression (the tuck planche push-up) at the same time. One will build upon the other. From the advanced tuck planche position, simply begin to extend your knees behind you from their position on your chest. Balance is critical here. As you extend your legs farther behind, you will also have to lean a little farther forward to compensate. The wider your legs are the easier the straddle planche will be (note: for those of you planning for the future, as you get stronger in the straddle planche you can increase the difficulty by bringing your legs closer together). Make small adjustments from workout to workout trying to either increase the length of your static hold or the extention of your position. Do not try to increase both at the same workout. BE PREPARED - just a small movement will greatly lessen your leverage on this exercise and make the movement much harder. This movement is so much more difficult, that it is not necessary to be able to hold it for 60 seconds before moving on. Once you can hold a straddle planche correctly for 10 seconds you will be able to move on. I know, I know . . . only 10 seconds! But trust me, it will feel like much longer while you are doing it. Tuck Planche Pushups By the time you begin working straddle planches, you will have achieved a reasonable amount of static strength and are ready to begin adding a dynamic movement to your static hold. The description of a tuck planche push-up is fairly straightforward; while in an advanced tuck planche position, simply attempt to perform a pushup. To receive the full benefit, be sure (or at least try!) to maintain the hips level with the shoulders during the descent and ascent of this movement. Don’t forget to fully straighten the elbows at the to of the movement. Reps and sets are completely up to you.
Straddle Planche Pushups Once you have learned both the straddle planche and tuck planche push-ups, you are now strong enough to tackle straddle planche push-ups. You could consider the planche pushup a super bench press or a full body press. In addition to working the triceps, chest and front delts, you also have a full contraction of the lats, middle back and lower back as well as the traps. The triceps and the forearms are also working hard stabilizing the elbow joint. Core strength is extremely taxed as the upper and lower abs, obliques, serratus and hip flexors all struggle to maintain the stretched (body) position. From the straddle planche, begin to lower yourself to the ground. Be careful to keep the hips level with the shoulders as you descend, as there is a tendency when first learning this skill to simply try to dip the shoulders forward. Pause just off the ground and extend back up to the straddle planche. Also be aware that as you rise from the bottom position, it will be quite a struggle to maintain your hips level with your shoulders.
Variations At first you may only be able to lower but not lift out of this position. This is fine. Any of Pavel’s kettlebell variations for learning military presses will also work fine here. For example: 1) Lower slightly, hold for a few seconds and continue lowering and holding. 2) Try to lower as slowly as possible, taking 10, 20 or even 30 seconds to complete the descent. 3) Lower all the way, lift up slightly and lower again and repeat.
The Front Lever Progressions
As before, we will begin our training progression with various static positions and from there progress to the more difficult pulling movements. For the front lever series be sure to use a shoulder width overhand grip (fingers pointing away) as this will increase the amount of power you can exert during these exercises. Also, as with the planche series, it is very important to keep the elbows straight as bending the elbow will lesson the intensity and possible gains of these exercises. Tuck Front Lever Using any kind of comfortable support (chin-up bar, tree branch, rings etc.), hang using an overhand grip (i.e.. with fingers pointing away from you). Bring your knees to your chest and then strive to lift your hips in front of you while at the same time leaning back with your shoulders. At this time it is fine to allow your back to curve as you learn and build strength in the movement. Your goal is to eventually be able to pull your hips up to horizontal or level with your shoulders with an approximately 45 degree angle between the arms and torso. This is however, a very difficult position for beginners and you will probably need to build up to it gradually. At first, simply lift your hips as high as you can and begin timing your sets. As before, combine your sets until reaching a total time of 60 seconds. Upon reaching a 60-second hold in a single set, it is time to once again move on to the next progression.
Advanced Tuck Front Lever Once the tuck front lever feels firmly in control, it is time to move on to the advanced tuck front lever. As with the advanced tuck planche, the main difference here is the “flat” back. This position will cause all of the muscle fibers in your back to fire as they struggle to handle the load of your bodyweight. The contraction will be intense. Your goal is to eventually be able to pull your hips up to horizontal or level with your shoulders with an approximately 45 degree angle between the arms and torso while maintaining your “flattened” back. To achieve this position, think of pulling your shoulders back away from your hands while at the same time pressing your hands down towards your hips. Be sure to remember to keep hips shoulder high and elbows tight and straight. Continue combing sets to your usual 60 second total and striving for that 60 second single set static hold.
Straddle Front Lever From the advanced tuck front lever position, begin to carefully and slowly extend your legs out from your chest. As with the planche, the wider your legs are spread, the easier the transition from the advanced tuck front lever to the straddle front lever will be. Strive to maintain your “flat” back position. If you are unable to do so, you are too far extended forward and need to pull your legs back a bit. Don’t forget to keep the shoulders pulling back and the hands pressing down. While working on the straddle front lever, it is also fine to begin learning the tuck front lever pullup.
Tuck Front Lever Pullups From the advanced tuck front lever you may now attempt to pull yourself up. Basically this is a horizontal pullup. It is incredibly difficult to hold the hip level with the shoulders during the pull. As you pull up, your hips will want to drop down and as you lower, your hips will want to stay elevated. These changes occur as your body struggles to find an easier way to complete the movement. Maintaining the horizontal position here is the key for exceptional back development.
Straddle Front Lever Pullups Straddle front lever pull-ups are essentially a full body weight row and will make you incredibly sore from head to toe. Do not attempt this movement until you are proficient at both the straddle front lever and the tuck front lever pull-ups. Doing so anyway will not injure you, you simply will not be strong enough to complete the exercise correctly. This movement is an especially good overall conditioner for the back, as this one exercise alone will work the back completely from the traps to the lats to the mid back down to and including the lower back. Biceps, forearms and shoulders are obviously also heavily worked. Core strength is once again extremely taxed as the entire mid section struggles to maintain the stretched (body) position. From the straddle front lever position, begin to pull your upper stomach to your hands. Be careful to keep the hips level with the shoulders as you rise, as it is very easy to simply let the hips and legs drag and turn this movement into a simple pull-up. Pause at the top and extend back down to the straddle front lever.
Variations The possible variations are much the same as those for the straddle planche pushups, only adapted to pulling rather than pushing. Well, there you have it. A simple and effective set of progressions for learning and benefiting from at least part of the training of Olympic Champions. Remember: Be patient. Be consistent. Avoid regular training to failure. Give the mother nature time to work for you Extreme strength, a great build, and a lot of fun -all done in minutes per day. What more could one ask for from a workout?
Anyway, I want to really focus on the Pike Press as it’s a move that I find difficult, but obtainable, and it looks fucking awesome when done correctly.
On a separate note I have been inspired to start the single arm pull-ups again, so am going to incorporate then into my back workout. The single arm pull-up is something I find difficult, both technically and physically so this is going to require some serious practise. A friend has made some excellent strength gains with one arm pull-ups so I figured I better get on with it.
Saturday, 2 August 2008
Tuesday, 29 July 2008
Monday, 28 July 2008
I really could do with a more comprehensive leg workout, but the simple fact is, works legs sucks old mans balls, and I hate it, so fuck it!
Weighted V sits
L Seat Sides
Hanging Leg Raises
Wide Grip Pullups
Planche Shoulder Pushups
Wide Ball Pushups
Straddle Planche Hold
Cable Shoulder Rotations
6 - Skills
Pike Press Ball
Hand Stand to Crab
Crab to Handstand.
Head-Stand to Hand-Stand - and reverse.
L-Seat to Planche Hand-stand.
Straddle to Planche Hand-stand
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
One of the fundamental principles of resistance training is Gradual Progressive Overload (GPO), which means that for a muscle to get bigger and stronger it must be subjected, gradually, to heavier weights — or so that's how we typically translate the GPO principle. However, there are tons of ways to give extra stimulation (overload if you will) to a muscle and force it to adapt.
You could do one more rep. You could rest less between sets. You could do an isolation exercise for that muscle immediately prior. You could do the negative (eccentric) part of the rep more slowly. Or you could simply focus on squeezing that muscle more during the contraction as opposed to just moving the weight from point A to point B. (Arnold called this the mind-muscle connection, and for stimulating and isolating a muscle it's very productive.)
The fact is, more bodybuilders than not would fall short of being what most would consider super strong, yet they posses some serious muscle mass.
2) Carving in striations? Not!
Listen, neither high reps nor isolation exercises (or the two combined) will "carve striations" into your muscles. So if you're barking up the cable cross-over or leg extension tree in hopes of some striations falling your way, you're wasting your time.
Same goes for cuts between muscles. Think about it, what makes for a deep valley? Two big hills on either side, right? If you want deeper cuts, get bigger muscles. And if you want striations, lose some body fat.
For those seeking something a bit more high-tech that actually does work, you could get some deep tissue massage or ART (Active Release Techniques) done to help separate individual muscles, enhancing the visual space between them. I've performed my own type of soft tissue work (a modified ART) to really help bodybuilders improve the separation between muscles with results that were incredible, especially between the three visible quad heads.
But basically, if you want serious cuts and striations, focus on your diet and cardio, not some pansy-ass isolation exercises.
3) Strength is very lift specific
Try working your way up to squatting 405 (or whatever) for ten reps. Then immediately ditch squats in your leg routine and replace them with leg presses for 10 weeks. Now go back and try to squat 405 for ten reps. I bet you'll fail miserably.
For obvious reasons, our body adapts to the exact exercises we do week in and week out. For that reason, it's ultra important for you to find staple exercises that work well for your physique, stick with them, and get strong on them.
Dorian Yates rarely ever changed exercises; he just found the ones that worked best for him and focused on improving his performance on those. Now while I personally advocate using a bit more variety than Dorian did, he certainly managed to build a decent physique.
I'd also like to point out that in my above example of substituting squats for leg presses for ten weeks, although your strength would go down in the squat, your legs would be every bit as big and maybe even bigger. That's further support for point number one.
4) The bench press does not build big pecs!
The bench press is the most overrated exercise of all time. In fact, if you perform the bench press in the manner that most people do, it's not even very good at stimulating the pecs.
To make matters worse, other docs I've talked to concur with my observation that the flat barbell bench press is positively correlated with a number of shoulder injuries like AC joint problems, biciptal tendonitis, and torn pecs. (I'm referring to tendonitis of the long head of the biceps tendon where it slides through the biciptal groove on the head of the humerus — essentially a shoulder problem.)
I'm not saying to never do the bench press; I'm just saying that I wouldn't do it any more than any other chest exercise. Actually, I'd probably do it less than most others.
5) Deadlifts do build a big back
What gives? One minute I'm bashing the sacred bench press and talking about not needing to focus solely on lifting heavy weights, and now I'm saying to do the fundamental powerlifting exercise: the deadlift.
For years I couldn't make scientific reason of the dogma that deadlifts are the Holy Grail for developing a thick back. Try as I must to justify cable rows and pulldowns over deads, in the end the anecdotal evidence was too overwhelming.
Look at it this way: have you even seen anyone who can deadlift some serious weight that didn't have a thick back? I didn't think so. But you will see guys all day long who can do pulldowns or cable rows with the entire weight stack yet don't have a back that could win the novice division of a local bodybuilding contest.
If you improve your deadlift by 200 pounds, I guarantee you'll have a much thicker back.
6) Squats are king for thigh mass
I bet you can think of at least two dozen reasons why you shouldn't squat. Don't waste your time; they're all excuses, excuse, excuses.
The truth is, squats are hard-ass work, so we want them to be overrated! I'll be the first to admit that I don't like doing them, but I do like the results.
To show how effective squats are at stimulating the quads and even hams, do ten sets of ten deep reps on the squat and see how sore you get. Now try to duplicate that level of deep muscle soreness with any other leg exercise, leg presses and hack squats included. It simply won't happen (assuming you had the cojones to use close to your 10RM on most sets of those squats.)
Like deadlifts for back, there are just far too many people who've built great legs with squats to deny their effectiveness. Don't get caught up in reading those muscle tabloids and the fact that many pro-bodybuilders don't do squats. If you dig deeper (as I've done) you'll find that the vast majority of them builttheir legs with squats and now maintain them with other exercises.
As Ronnie Coleman so eloquently stated, "Eva body wanna be a bodybuilda, but don't nobody wanna lif' no heavy-ass weight." The same could be said for squatting.
7) Don't Always Train to Failure
It's ingrained in many of us that, sans a warm-up or two, if you're going to pick up a weight, you're going to lift it until you can't lift it anymore. After all, that's the way a Testosterone Nation man should train, right?
If you're going to train to failure you're going to have to severely limit the number of sets you do in order decrease your chance of overtraining. While training to failure for a limited number of sets can work (a la Max OT Training, DC Training, and Heavy Duty Training) it's a lot easier, probably safer, and just as effective to stop a rep or two short of failure. I know I've made my best gains in strength when training to just short of failure.
If it's scientific studies you're interested in, a recent study showed that training to failure led to hormonal signs of overtraining. Yet another study showed that only training to failure on the last of three sets was more effective than training to failure on all three sets.
Like Lee Haney said, "You should stimulate, not annihilate the muscle."
8) Don't have Training ADD
I'll admit it. I have a severe case of Training Attention Deficit Disorder. How many times have you started a new program only to ditch it for yet another program after only two or three weeks? If you're like me, it's fun to just go to the gym and do whatever you feel like that day. However, there's a serious downside to that.
By switching programs and exercises all the time, you don't give your body enough time to reap the benefits of your current program or exercises. For instance, if you decide to do H.I.T. for three months, then do it for three months! Don't be an idiot and ditch it after five weeks because you're bored and wanna do Advanced German Volume Training and a unique exercise you saw Christian Thibaudeau do. Save it for when you've completed your current program.
To appease your inner ADD child, occasionally do 8 or 10 weeks of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants training. Just don't turn that eight weeks into eight months or you'll end up spinning your wheels.
9) Ditch Total Body Training
I'm well aware of the plethora of benefits of Total Body Training (TBT), and I'll agree that you can build a very good body with it. In fact, I train some of my clients with TBT. With that being said, I simply don't feel that TBT can take your physique to its ultimate potential.
Now, by "ultimate potential" I'm speaking of size and definition — a physique that would win a local bodybuilding or even Figure show. I have no studies, but tons of anecdotal evidence to back this up.
You've got to hit a muscle with a fairly high number of sets or crazy intensity to get maximum hypertrophy. In other words, you need to induce a lot of micro-trauma to the muscle. It's simply not feasible to do that to more than two or three muscle groups per day.
So if throwing things or people is your forte, then rock on with TBT. If you wanna have a stage-worthy physique, then split your body into groups. As for anecdotal evidence, not one pro or top amateur bodybuilder trains their whole body at one time. While I'm not one to blindly follow others, you've got to admit that that's some pretty convincing anecdotal evidence.
10) Consider Stretching Part of Training
As someone who treats soft-tissue injuries, I could go on for days about the benefits of stretching to prevent injuries and imbalances. But how does stretching have anything to do with looking good naked? Let me tell you.
Stretching, over time, will help to expand the fascia that tightly encompasses muscles and muscle groups. This tight-ass fascia is thought to be one of the limiting factors of muscle growth. Therefore we want to find a way to stretch it to allow the muscle tissue some room to breath (or grow). Since site-injecting a few cc's of oil into a muscle isn't the smartest thing to do, let's just use stretching to accomplish this goal of expanded fascia.
In order to maximize the volumizing effects, stretch right after training a particular body part while it's still pumped. Also, keep in mind that for connective tissue (like fascia) to stretch, you're going to have to do a lot of stretching (essentially Time Under Tension) and that stretching is going to have to be pretty intense.
I recommend stretching a muscle for about 60 seconds immediately after training it. You should be stretching hard enough that you're really counting down those final seconds. Additionally, stretch another time or two during the day.
11) Try Low-Frequency Training
In case you didn't know, most bodybuilders these days train two or three body parts per day and train each body part only once every five to seven days. I'll admit that training each body part once per week doesn't scientifically seem like the optimal way to train. However, when you consider that about 95% of physique competitors (natural or otherwise) train that way, it's hard to argue with the real-world results.
Now keep in mind that when training each body part only weekly, you need to hit that body part with plenty of work — again, lot's of micro-trauma. Three sets of eight reps on bench for chest ain't gonna cut it; three to five exercises per body part is more like it.
While I think training each body part once per week is a great basic template, I also advocate some higher frequency training from time to time in order to bring up a lagging body part. However, one can still improve body parts by training them only once per week. People do it all the time, and I'm doing it right now.
For the record, Figure competitors should (and typically do) train in a similar fashion to bodybuilders. Sure, leg hypertrophy often has to be kept in check, but training for Figure is more similar to training for bodybuilding than it is different.
12) Feeling the muscle work is of utmost importance
As previously discussed, simply being strong isn't a guarantee that you'll get the muscle size you desire. When you train with a focus on simply moving a lot of weight, you will (albeit subconsciously) lift in such a manner as to make the exercise easier, either by changing the leverage or by coordinating other muscles to aid you in executing the lift.
Take the bench press for example. To really have a big bench you have to do it in such a manner as to use your front delts, triceps, and even lats as much or more as you use your pectorals. However, while this may boost your ego, it's not doing wonders for making your pecs grow.
If your goal is big pecs, then you need to perform the bench press in such a way as to maximize the stimulation on your pecs while minimizing the role the ancillary muscles play in the lift.
To a bodybuilder, the weight on the bar is only a means to an end. Really focus on feeling the working muscle during an exercise. Then, and only then, try to do more weight or more reps while maintaining that mind-muscle connection.
If your primary goal is looking good in your birthday suit, I encourage you to really think about and apply these principles. If you want to enter a strongman contest, then train like a strongman competitor. If powerlifting is your sport of choice, train like they do.
But if you want to look like a bodybuilder, then I'd suggest you learn how successful physique competitors typically train. Even better, learn from some of those who built a great physique from a less-than-stellar foundation, and you'll be well on your way.