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Push/Pull/Legs Training Split

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Push/Pull/Legs

The Push, Pull, Legs split is another common training program that has become very popular amongst those looking to increase strength and muscle size.

If you’re available 3-6 days a week, this is a great split for you.

The layout is as followed;

Day 1. ‘Push’ (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)

Day 2. ‘Pull’ (Back & Biceps)

Day 3. ‘Legs’ (… legs)

If you have the availability to train 5 or 6 days a week you could simply repeat the block again. Alternatively if you’re looking for a more customized approach to your training and would like one of our coaches to create an individualised program – click here.

So for example, if you were available for 6 days a week.

Day 1. ‘Push’ (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)

Day 2. ‘Pull’ (Back & Biceps)

Day 3. ‘Legs’ (Hamstrings and Glutes)

Day 4. ‘Push’ (Chest, Shoulders, Triceps)

Day 5. ‘Pull’ (Back & Biceps)

Day 6. ‘Legs’ (Quads and Calves)

Here you can see there is a slight focus on particular muscles between the two Leg sessions. This is simply to provide a little variety between the two sessions,  you could do this with Push and Pull days as well. Have one Pull session focus on rhomboids and traps, have the other session focus on lats and lower back.

Benefit of Push, Pull, Legs is that you can train the body in 3 days. The sessions would be shorter in duration due to focusing on just one group of muscles, unlike an Upper/Lower split (check it out here).

If you have the availability to train 5 or 6 days a week, you now have the chance to hit your body parts twice a week. Can someone say GAAAAAIN TRAIN?!

EXAMPLE 3 DAY SPLIT

Day 1. PUSH

A1. Barbell Bench Press

B1. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Pres

C1. Incline Dumbbell Press

D1. Weighted Bench Dips

E1. Tricep Pushdown with Rope

F1. Lateral Raise

G1. Pec Deck or Cable Cross-over

Day 2. PULL

A1. Wide Grip Pull ups

B1. Bent over barbell row.

C1. Single Arm Dumbbell Row

D1. Close grip Lat Pulldown

E1. Dumbbell Shrug

F1. Barbell Bicep Curl

G1. Dumbbell Hammer Curl

Day 3. LEGS

A1. Barbell Back Squat

B1. Sumo Deadlift

C1. Hack Squat

D1. Romanian Deadlift

E1. Glute Ham Raise

F1. Standing Calf Raise

G1. Seated Calf Raise

Sound exciting right? What about if you can train more than three days a week? There are a few things you can do.

You can ‘focus’ on different muscles on each day so Push workout 1 could focus more on Chest, so your main movement is bench press. Push workout 2, later on in the week could be a Shoulder focus, so your main lift would be Overhead Press.

“but Chris if i focus on just Chest, isn’t it essentially a chest session – like a typical bro workout?”

Just because you’re focusing on Chest, doesn’t mean you won’t train shoulders that day as well. Just majority of movements would be chest orientated, with a few shoulder exercises as accessories. Vice versa on the Shoulder focus Push workout.

Following me? Cool.

The other method if you’re available more than 3 days a week is to simply change the volume and intensity between the two blocks of Push, Pull, Legs.

The first three blocks could have an Intensity focus, or more specifically, lower reps and higher loads. The second block could focus on volume, or more repetitions and lighter loads. What happens is you’re now exposing yourself to the same lifts multiple times a week. You’ll also induce the Repeated Bout Effect, which simply put – performing the lifts frequently will reduce your onset of DOMS the next day. Workout more and be less sore? Cool right?!

Here’s an example 6 day split using the Push, Pull, Legs method.

 

 

There you have it. A nice intermediate training split that will have you training body parts more than once a week (because you’re worth it bro).

GIve it a shot for 8-12 weeks. Alternatively why don’t you contact us and have a chat with our coaches about creating a plan that is customized to you and your lifestyle. Start by filling this bad boy out.

Enjoy!

Do you train during Ramadan? If not, you could be missing out..

By | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | No Comments

Implement these strategies within your training and make training during Ramadan easy!

During Ramadan those who are strength athletes or trying to drop fat don’t want to lose strength and size during this holy month. Understanding the science behind fasting and intermittent fasting, trainers can make large amounts of progress to their health during this period.

Story time

So if you are a first timer here, I’m a personal trainer. Cool. The gym I operate out of is located in Western Sydney and the majority of the population are from an Islamic/Muslim background. And I love it. The community here is one of the best I could be apart of and all the members are just so warm and welcoming.. Plus the food is absolutely insane like holy smokes I love Kofta!

Now as a personal trainer the quietest period of the year is Christmas. It’s known as the dark times for all trainers and gym instructors alike as everyone takes time off from training during the holiday season.

But what is unique about my gym is that we experience two quiet periods each year, Christmas and Ramadan. During my first year here I realised that there was an increase in memberships being put on hold in the lead up to Ramadan. Record numbers were leaving due to the holy month. I had to quickly consolidate and get in contact with my clients to find out who would be leaving or postponing their training.

With approximately 85% of my clientele Islamic, I began to fear that I would be out of income for the next 30 days. So I asked my clients..

Two people went on hold. Out of 31 clients at the time.

Phew – it wasn’t as bad as I feared. But then I began to wonder why? Why was it that majority of my clients decided not to cancel or put their training on hold for Ramadan but a large majority of gym members did just that?

I asked my clients and a few of the answers varied from:

  • I’ll just train at night
  • I’ll go gym before I break my fast
  • I know I can still exercise during Ramadan
  • I’ll exercise at home

I had concluded that my clients had been educated enough and understood that they could indeed still exercise during Ramadan and if done intelligently, could also help with increasing strength and dropping fat.

Now before I tell you HOW to do exactly that, it is important to gain a bit of background knowledge on Ramadan and Intermittent Fasting (what Ramadan Fasting essentially is).

What is Ramadan?

Watch the video below for a fantastic explanation of Ramadan. If you already know, keep reading.

Ramadan is the holiest month of the Islamic calendar and commemorates the handing down of the Quran to the Prophet Mohammed.

It takes place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts between 29 and 30 days, depending on the sighting of the crescent moon which governs the beginning and the end of the holy month.

What is Fasting?

Fasting is the practice of cutting out something for a period of time. Christians will fast during Lent and will often give up meat as well as something materialistic. In the fitness space, Intermittent-fasting is well known – it’s quite simply restricting your food intake to later in the day. You would eat during a small period of time known as your ‘feeding window’ – this is often 4 to 6 hours and you fast for the 16 to 18 hours. Fasting can be either a food only fast (can still drink water) or a food and water fast (no food and no water – characteristic of Ramadan).

Fasting for Ramadan simply has the individual restricting all food and water intake from sunrise to sunset.

The scientific literature on intermittent fasting is quite extensive, with the protocol heavily researched over the last 10-15 years. Intermittent fasting is a popular method for weight loss due to the restriction of food till later in the day, when they ‘break’ their fast they will often eat a large meal but at the end of the day they would have consumed less total calories and as a result lose weight. Think about it – try and eat your daily calories in one to two meals instead of three to four (without eating McDonalds).

If you’re Fasting already for Ramadan, then you pretty much would know how it feels to fast – but for those who don’t know, what can you expect to experience when you fast for the first time?

I asked my clientele as well as from my previous experiences.

  • Headaches early on (24-48 hours) which can be due to low levels of blood sugar within our body. This does subside though!
  • Improved alertness in the morning (generally within a day or two).
    Soon after the headaches pass it is quite common to notice increased levels of concentration and alertness. This increased alertness however does wear off and can begin to feel lethargic later in the afternoon.  Low levels of glucose (carbohydrates) can be attributed to this as your brain runs on the stuff.
  • Decreased hunger.
    Early on, hunger can spike quite high. But as you continue to fast your hunger level will drop so don’t worry!
  • Decreased cardio performance.
    If you’re a cardio bunny – get ready for a bit of a hit to your endurance. Both anecdotally (client experiences) and scientific literature (science shit) both state that during Fasting it sucks to do cardio and your endurance levels suck. This is no surprise to be honest as you’re not eating. And who is doing cardio whilst fasted??? If you are – I suggest you pick another method of slow torture.
  • You will drop some weight.
    This is definitely a case by case scenario but it’s common that during Ramadan or any prolonged Fasting period you can expect weight reduction. As mentioned earlier by delaying your eating time, it’s likely that you will consume less total calories when you do finally eat. This won’t solely be fat (like we all would hope) so expect a little muscle loss. We will go through some strategies to prevent this however.

Okay so that is a small list of things you can expect during fasting.

The biggest issue for those who train and also fast for Ramadan is:

  1. Losing strength and muscle
  2. Energy to train

Now I am well aware that Ramadan is suppose to be about sacrifice and empathy for those less fortunate. But there is a relationship between those who take a break or cease exercising during Ramadan and those who do not return after Ramadan.

I would often see gym members who have been away for months and upon asking them where they’ve been the same answer would come back to me:

“After Ramadan I got lazy”

It wasn’t Ramadan but in fact it was not exercising + low energy levels which likely caused people to not return after Ramadan.

Thankfully due to the years of research on the topic of intermittent fasting we now know how to Fast and still increase strength and drop fat. It just takes a little change and smart planning!

Alright mate tell me how!

How do I get lean and strong during Ramadan?!

Firstly we want to break it down into two sections. Each one can then be broken down into sub-sections.

  1. Training
    1. Intensity (go heavy or go light)
    2. Volume (lots of sets and reps or few sets and reps)
    3. Frequency (how many days should you train during Ramadan)
  2. Nutrition
    1. Before you start your fast
    2. When you break your fast/pre-training
    3. After training
    4. Supplementation

Training during Ramadan

Firstly, assuming your goals are either to build strength or burn fat then listen up. If they’re not, stop reading.

Ideally you’re training early in the morning before you start your fast or after you break your fast. If so then you’re okay and normal fed training applies. It is suggested that you have a small meal to break your fast (will go into specifics keep reading), go to the gym, then have a large meal after your workout. If you have ever eaten a large meal (e.g a meal with the caloric equivalent of two large Big Mac meals) and then waited 45 minutes, the last thing you feel like doing is going to the gym and doing some squats.

If you are going to train fasted – it is suggested that your training be set up so that you’re not heavily fatigued. You’re not able to drink water which is a very tricky and quite honestly, not ideal scenario when training in the gym. But it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Train heavy (80-85% of your estimated 1 Repetition maximum) and keep your volume lower than usual. So if you normally do 4-5 sets of Barbell Bench Press. Drop it to 2 sets. Higher volume work is quite fatiguing and will encourage you to drink water. Also higher volumes of training will deplete glucose levels faster and then you’ll be in the shit if you’ve still got 4-5 hours to go before you can eat or drink.

Intensity wise, as mentioned – training heavy responds well to fasting periods. Lower repetition training (3-4 reps) with loads hovering around 80-85% of your maximum aren’t as fatiguing as sets of 12 to 15 reps. That is not to say that lower rep work won’t be difficult but it won’t dehydrate you like higher volumes will.  A research study done by Rebai and colleagues in 2014 found similar results with soccer players, where they reduced their training volume by ¼. Results found that the players were able to make small increases in strength and power during Ramadan.

How long should you exercise for if you’re going to the gym fasted?

Due to the lower repetition work, your rest periods should be longer – it’s not uncommon to rest 3-5 minutes between sets when working with 85% or greater. Resist the temptation to rush your workouts – this can increase rate of fatigue and encourage dehydration.

How many times per week should I train during Ramadan?

Two to three all body workouts should be more than enough during Ramadan for maintaining strength. It would be suggested you follow an all-body workout program during this period. Every workout you would perform 2 or 3 heavy compound movements such as;

  • bench press,
  • back/front squat
  • deadlift
  • overhead press
  • bent over rows
  • pulls up
  • weighted dips

Followed by an optional 1 or 2 accessory exercises such as bicep curls, tricep pushdowns or side raises.

And that’s it.

You might be thinking – Chris that’s so little work?!?!

Yup – if you’re training in a fasted state. This is what I would suggest in order to maintain strength and prevent as much muscle loss as possible. The big influencing factor on this would be nutrition.

So let us look into how and what to eat during Ramadan.

What to eat during Ramadan (to get lean and strong).

Upon starting your fast it’s suggested that your pre-dawn meal be your largest. Go high on complex carbohydrates such as rice, wholemeal bread and grains, oats, bran, lentils and other legumes. Plenty of vegetables and a good quantity of lean protein.

Avoid fried foods and heavily salted food for your pre-dawn meal. Fried and salty food can accelerate rates of dehydration and make you feel sluggish (aka you’ll be feeling like crap). So more fresh and whole foods is the way to go.

Upon breaking your fast you’ll have your small meal; 2-3 dates, water and a bowl of soup. After this a source of quickly digestible protein would be ideal; a whey protein powder would be good here. A couple hours later when you have your main meal, we want to be smart here. It’s not uncommon to have large quantities of food for this meal, with borderline binge eating qualities. Aim for lean protein sources such as chicken, fish, lean beef or legumes, beans and lentils if you’re vegan. Fill up on unlimited amounts of non-starchy vegetables, more colour the better! Healthy fats such as coconut butter, olive oil, avocado and fish oils should be incorporated into your meals to assist in satiety and hormone regulation (your body goes through some hormonal responses to fasting).

If you decide that you want to go gym at night, it is suggested that you go after your small meal. In this case I would have a couple more dates as well as the protein shake. You could also invest in a carbohydrate supplement like maltodextrose to help replenish muscle glycogen lost throughout the day and give you the energy for your workout.

Wait 30 minutes or so and you are good to go for your workout. Be sure to keep your fluids up quite high during and after your workout. Aiming for two to three litres of water across the day would be a pretty solid. Even during the winter months when you may not feel thirsty, it is suggested you still chug the water down. So if you are from Australia, specifically the east coast (at the time of writing this it is 6 degrees Celsius) stay hydrated!

Example Meal Plan

Pre-Dawn

1 Cup Oats

½ Cup mixed berries

½ small banana

100g greek yoghurt

20g Whey Protein Powder

Handful of unroasted Almonds

Multivitamin + Fish Oil

4 Glasses of Water

Break Fast/Small Meal

2-3 Dates (more if going gym)

2-4 Glasses of Water

Bowl of Soup

20g Whey Protein Powder

If going gym add in:

2 x Toast

10g of Peanut Butter or Jam

Main Meal

200g of lean protein source (chicken, fish, beef)

1-2 medium sweet potatoes

Unlimited green vegetables such as spinach, celery, lettuce, cucumber, broccoli, asparagus

Handful of unroasted Almonds

100g Greek Yoghurt

½ cup of mixed berries

1 serving dark chocolate

2 glasses of water

Pre-Bed

20g Casein Protein Powder

2 glasses of water

Supplementation

Now this is simply a list of supplements that may assist in meeting nutritional needs during Ramadan and helping you maintain muscle mass during this period.

  • Whey Protein Isolate. Will assist in meeting protein needs and minimising muscle loss.
  • Multivitamin.
  • Omega 3 Fish Oil (aim for a high EPA/DHA count – 1500-2000mg)
  • Casein Protein. A slow release protein powder that would be ideal to consume prior to sleeping to further increase total protein consumption.

Final Thoughts

So to wrap up this article, I want to say that whilst I am not fasting for Ramadan myself (I am Christian) I undoubtedly understand that Ramadan is a holy month. Now whilst getting shredded or super strong won’t be the priority during this period, I do encourage all to ensure exercise continues throughout. In any capacity. Reason being is that in my experience those who make the small changes to continue to exercise throughout Ramadan will remain consistent long after. This ultimately will lead to success within their health and fitness, so everyone wins. I hope this has been insightful for you and you now have a little more understanding on how to exercise effectively throughout the month of Ramadan. Please share this with someone you know who could benefit from this!

Have a strong, fit and safe month of Ramadan,
As-salamu alaykum.

References

Tian, H.-H., Aziz, A.-R., Png, W., Wahid, M. F., Yeo, D., & Constance Png, A.-L. (2011). Effects of Fasting During Ramadan Month on Cognitive Function in Muslim Athletes. Asian Journal of Sports Medicine, 2(3), 145–153.

Rebaï H, Chtourou H, Zarrouk N, Harzallah A, Kanoun I, Dogui M, Souissi N, Tabka Z. Reducing resistance training volume during Ramadan improves muscle
strength and power in football players. Int J Sports Med. 2014 May;35(5):432-7.
doi: 10.1055/s-0033-1353216. Epub 2013 Sep 18. PubMed PMID: 24048913

Mirzaei, B., Rahmani-Nia, F., Moghadam, M. G., Ziyaolhagh, S. J., & Rezaei, A. (2012). The Effect of Ramadan Fasting on Biochemical and Performance Parameters in Collegiate Wrestlers. Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences, 15(6), 1215–1220.

Aly, S. M. (2014). Role of Intermittent Fasting on Improving Health and Reducing Diseases. International Journal of Health Sciences, 8(3), V–VI.

Your legs hurt? You’re not in pain.. you’re just sore.

By | Strength Training | No Comments

The difference between pain and soreness in the gym.

When training in the gym the body undergoes a variety of stimuli and stressors. Lifting weights and crushing grueling conditioning workouts can lead to the body feeling a few things the next day.

But how can we distinguish what we’re feeling the day after a workout. Is what you’re feeling a good or bad thing or simply a normal process of exercise.

Let’s take a brief look into what happens to the body after we exercise.

When we weight train, the process of lifting weights actually causes small micro tears in our muscles. These micro tears are the catalyst for what will be the rebuilding process of new, stronger muscle.

Initially the micro tears are accompanied by increased swelling to the area, also known as cell swelling. Bodybuilders call this the ‘pump’, the swelling contains the remnants of oxygenated blood that was transporting nutrients to the muscle whilst exercising and is now pooling around the muscle waiting to slowly drain via our veins.

After a couple hours post workout your muscles begin the recovery process. Range of motion within the joint is still unaffected and there is no actual soreness experienced.

The day after however, our joint range of motion is reduced, stretching our muscles is difficult and contracting fatigued muscle is quite uncomfortable. This phenomenon is called Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, or DOMS.

Now let me say, DOMS are completely normal. And almost unavoidable if you’re new to training.The good thing is, it does subside and gets less and less severe the more you train consistently.

So if that is an incentive to keep training, then use it!

Unfortunately there’s nothing we can do to speed up the recovery process for DOMS but we can reduce the severity.

  • Foam rolling
  • Static stretching
  • Dark chocolate

Now let’s move onto other feelings post workout.

Pain.

And how to recognise that you’re in pain and not just experiencing a severe bout of DOMS.

Well firstly, DOMS don’t completely leave you unable to move (even though you may feel like you cannot walk, I promise you can) where as pain leaves you generally unable to move without sharp sensations.

Whether its nerve pain, a slight tear or strain, pain is often associated with sharp, intense pains. Often described as electric shocks or a stabbing sensation.

When you feel anything like this, it’s likely you’ve injured yourself and should get that checked out by a professional such as Exercise Physiologist or Physiotherapist.

There is a difference between post gym soreness and post gym pain. Understanding this will allow you to push thru and continue progressing and not skipping workouts unnecessarily.

Upper/Lower 4-Day Split

By | Strength Training | No Comments

Try this 4-Day training program that will have you train all your major muscle groups twice a week. Great for beginners looking to ‘fast-track’ their progress or intermediates to mix things up.

Overview

This training program works well for those who are relatively time poor and cannot spend 5-6 days in the gym. The beauty of upper/lower splits is that it allows for you to hit muscle groups more than once a week – which according to research is a good thing if your goals are strength or size. It’s strongly suggested that you give yourself a day rest after your first bout of Upper/Lower training.

Each workout will have 2 main lifts which will have a strength focus (lower reps, higher loads), with the rest of the workout focused on building size (higher reps, lower loads).

Training Schedule

Day 1 – Upper Body

Day 2 – Lower Body

Day 3 – Rest

Day 4 – Upper Body

Day 5 – Lower Body

Day 6 – Rest

Day 7 – Rest

DAY 1 – Upper Body

Exercise

A1. Bench Press 3 x 6-8 reps

A2. Single Arm Dumbbell Row 3 x 8-10 reps

B1. Seated Dumbbell Shoulder Press 3 x 12 reps

B2. Close Grip Chin Up 3 x 12 reps (if you cannot complete 12 reps, go assisted)

C1. Lat Pulldown (Wide Grip) 2 x 20 reps

C2. Pec Fly or Pec Deck 2 x 20 reps

D1. Tricep Pushdown 2 x 20 reps

DAY 2 – Lower Body

Exercise

Back Squat 3 x 6-8 reps

Barbell Romanian Deadlift 3 x 8-10 reps

Alternating Lunge 3 x 10 reps each leg

Leg Curl 2 x 15 reps

Leg Extension 2 x 15 reps

Calf Raise 2 x 20 reps

Plank 3 x 30 sec hold

DAY 4 – Upper Body

Exercise

A1. Military Press 3 x 8 reps

A2. Chin Ups 3 x 8 reps (2 second negative)

B1. Incline DB Bench Press 3 x 12 reps

B2. Cable Seated Row 3 x 12 reps

C1. DB Shrugs 2 x 15 reps (2 second pause at top of movement)

C2. Cable Cross-over 2 x 15 reps

D1. Straight Bar Bicep Curl 2 x 20 reps

DAY 5 – Lower Body

Exercise

Leg Press 3 x 12 reps

DB Romanian Deadlift 3 x 12 reps

Hip Thrust 3 x 12 reps

Seated Leg Curl 2 x 20 reps

Seated Calf Raise 2 x 20 reps

A1. Plank with Shoulder Tap 3 x 10 taps each shoulder

A2. Side Plank 3 x 20 second hold

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How Much Rest Should You Take?

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How Much Rest Should You Take?

When you’re in the gym, resting between sets has been looked at as an indicator of ‘work effort’. If you’re resting too long – you’re not working hard enough right? If you rest for longer than 10 seconds then you’re not going to acquire gains and your workout means nothing!

In this article I hope to clarify a few things when it comes to deciding how much rest to have between sets when you’re at the gym.

Rest intervals between sets has been studied quite extensively in scientific research, particularly around the area of strength development and building muscle (hypertrophy).

When it comes to building muscle, the term ‘time under tension’, or TUT is often mentioned – it refers to the duration of time a muscle is under tension – which has been linked to hypertrophy gains. Across mainstream media, shorter rest intervals began to the norm as a way to increase TUT. Trying to keep the muscle under continuous TUT would most likely result in early onset of fatigue and a low training intensity (low weights lifted).

If you’re goal is building strength or hypertrophy (or both really), your goal is volume over time and progressive overload in intensity. Rest intervals do not play a major role in this.

pasted image 0

Figure 1.

In Figure 1. A 2016 study by De Salles et al. looked at self-selected versus fixed rest times on number of reps performed in upper body and lower body exercises. So one group got to select how much rest they would take whilst the other group had to abide to a set time. They basically found no significant difference in reps performed between both groups.

Longer rest periods seem to be more beneficial if your goal is strength, according to a study by Brad Schoenfeld earlier in 2016. His study looked at the effect long rest periods between sets had on strength improvements in young resistance-trained men. The long rest duration was 3 minutes, and when all other variables remained the same (number of sets and reps prescribed didn’t change), the long rest group had largest improvements in strength.
Why did strength increase? This can be explained by our body regenerating our ATP-PC stores (adenesine triphosphate – phosphocreatine system). Our ATP-PC system is responsible for our short bursts of high intensity activity, for example – sprinting. Requiring no oxygen, it does take some time to regenerate ATP.

Another argument for shorter rest periods has been the acute hormonal response associated with metabolites accumulating due to muscular fatigue (that was a mouthful). Basically, there’s belief that the fatigue caused by short rest periods creates a larger pool of metabolites (waste products) and this leads to a cascade of hormones to be released and aid in muscle building. A study from 2005 by Ahtiainen et al. looked at short versus long rest periods and the influence it had on certain markers in muscular size and strength, as well as hormonal adaptations. They looked at serum T (testosterone) levels within the blood before exercise, 15 minutes after exercise and 30 minutes after exercise for both short and long rest groups. Across a 6 month period there were no significant differences in hormonal levels between short and long rest groups. Results can be seen in Figure 2.

pasted image 0 1
Figure 2.

For strength and muscle building, it looks as though the ideal rest time should be – anywhere between 2-5 minutes. Where you lie on that range would depend on the intensity of your exercise (what weight you’re lifting), the volume (how many sets and reps) and lastly – how you bloody feel.

If you feel like shit after a set, take your time – grab some water, chill for a bit. Don’t rush into the next set. Remember – aim for increasing volume over time and progressive overload in intensity.

Hope you have a great day!

Peace.

References:

Schoenfeld, BJ., Pope, ZK., Benik, FM., Hester, GM., Sellers, J., Nooner, JL., Schnaiter, JA., Bond-Williams, KE., Carter, AS., Ross, CL., Just, BL., Henselmans, M., Krieger, JW. Longer interset rest periods enhance muscle strength and hypertrophy in resistance-trained men. (2016). Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 30(7). pp 1805-1812.

Ahtianinen, JP., Pakarinen, A., Alen, M., Kraemer, WJ., Hakkinen, K. Short vs. long rest period between the sets in hypertrophic resitance training: influence on muscle strength, size and hormonal adaptations in trained men. (2005) get more. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 19(3). pp 572-582.

Warm up or Ramp up – The treadmill is NOT a warm up!

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Warm up or Ramp up.

In most commercial gyms, when you hear the term ‘warm up’ the first thing that comes to mind is to spend 5 minutes on the treadmill – scrolling through your Facebook feed and maybe catching up on your latest YouTube videos.

From here you’ll hop off, grab a sip of your pre-workout and pop on over to the bench press. Take a seat and start with some arm circles and then start aimlessly pressing the weight.

And that’s the half decent gym goer. Most are – walk in, jump on piece of equipment and get straight into it.

What is warming up and why should we bother?

A warm up is simply a routine that should get you physically and mentally prepared for a workout. The warm up period can also be the first sign of how the workout in general will feel. If you identify sore spots or stiff joints, then you can address them here.

Here at Simple Strength I get all my clients to follow a relatively simple warm up routine.

  1. Foam roll
  2. Dynamic stretches
  3. Movement specific prep

Foam rolling

Also known as Self-Myofascial Release, I get my clients to roll out major body parts that they may be working on in their workout. Typical sites include the upper back, hamstrings, quadriceps, gluteal region and calves. Foam rolling is thought to release the fascia that surrounds skeletal muscle, thus improving tissue quality and range of motion. The effects of foam rolling seem to be only short term, thus why it is done prior to every workout. The main benefits of foam rolling seem to be more psychological than physiological, according to current research.

giphy-13

We’re not 100% sure as to what the main benefit is on foam rolling. Currently we’re leaning towards more psychological benefits as opposed to muscular. More research is needed. What I do know personally is – foam rolling hurts so much (in a psychotic good way)

Dynamic stretches

After foam rolling we then go thru a simple all body routine of dynamic stretching. Traditionally static stretching is often seen in gyms prior to workouts – you know, holding a stretch for 30 seconds then changing sides for example. If you’re strength training or looking to build muscle, then you may want to lesve the static stretches to the end of your workout. Current research suggests that static stretching prior to resistance training can negatively impact your power and strength output. Dynamic stretches place muscles under rapid stretch and flex cycles, allowing for a gradual improvement in range of motion whilst also exciting your nervous system. Preparing your nervous system will aid in resistance training as it will help you with recruiting more motor units aaaand thus more muscle fibers.

Don't forget to stretch.

Don’t forget to stretch.

 

Movement specific prep.

Lastly what follows would include movement or exercise specific warm up drills. Seeing as lifting weights includes various skills and movements, warming up with the movement or similar patterns would be advantageous. If we’re performing a lower body workout that contains squats my movement prep may include; air/bodyweight squats, jumping squats, lunges, glute bridges. If it was an upper body workout it may look like; push-ups, shoulder taps, bodyweight inverted rows or ring rows. Overall the goal of this section is to prepare the muscles and joints to perform in similar movements that will be found within the workout.

Okay now what?

Now that we have warmed up, its time that we look at preparing you to hit your numbers or weight targets for your workout. If you’re working with a percentage of your 1RM (one rep max) then you will want to ramp up to your designated weight.

For example;

Your workout for the day is 4 sets of 5 with 75% of your 1RM Bench Press. Your 1RM is 120kg, so 75% is 90kg.

It wouldn’t be wise going from movement prep doing bodyweight push-ups to bench press with 90kg straight away. You risk injury and inducing early fatigue which could ruin your workout.

Instead ramp up to the 90kg. This may include 3-4 sets of bench press with lighter loads that progressively get you up to your working weight of 90kg. Louie Simmons from West Side Barbell and Mark Rippetoe, author of Starting Strength .. and pretty much every strength coach I’ve ever spoken to suggest starting with the bar first. The bar alone can tell you a lot on how the workout will pan out. If you get issues or pain during your set with the bar – you’re probably fucked if you put more weight on the bar. After this, increasing the load by 20-30% of your working weight for each set is a nice rough guide for your ramp up sets.

So for the 90kg Bench Press your ramp up may look like:

  1. 10 x bar only
  2. 8 x 50kg
  3. 8 x 65kg
  4. 6 x 75
  5. 5 x 85
  6. 5 x 90 (first set)

Overall, the aim of ramp up sets is to prepare you both physically and psychologically for your working weight. Combined with an appropriate warm up, may be the difference between hitting a personal best or failing.

It’s the dirty stuff, the some what tedious and at times down right boring work – but your time in the gym should have some strategy and planning behind it.

Hope you enjoyed the article. Connect with me on Facebook or follow me on SnapChat for daily knowledge bombs and the occasional burger. Peace.

Best Articles of the Week 18/11/2016

By | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | No Comments

Every week I read the latest articles on training, nutrition and injury management. Looking for credible sources is becoming harder in today’s internet age so thus I created ‘Best Articles of the Week’.

Articles are broken into categories:

Strength/Hypertrophy

Fat Loss

Nutrition/Recipes

Injury Management/Rehab/Prehab

Scientific Article of the Week

Okay, so in this article they looked at basically what happens to people who are trying to lose weight using different methods (cardio or weights) over 18 months. Their research found that for those who are trying to reduce weight it’s important to include regular resistance training into the mix.

Hope you enjoy this list!

Happy reading!

Chris.

Best Articles of the Week 9/11/2016

By | Fat Loss, Nutrition, Strength Training | No Comments

Every week I read the latest articles on training, nutrition and injury management. Looking for credible sources is becoming harder in today’s internet age so thus I created ‘Best Articles of the Week’.

Articles are broken into categories:

Strength/Hypertrophy

Fat Loss

Recipes

Injury Management/Rehab/Prehab

I’ve included this awesome 4 part series on Fixing your Squat by Barbell shrugged!

Scientific Article for the Week

This research paper looked at the effect Sprint training and traditional low intensity cardio has on a process called EPOC (excess postexercise oxygen consumption) which has been long thought of as a benefit of HIIT over Steady state or traditional cardio. Results from the study are interesting and will open the door to hopefully more research into this particular area.

Hope you enjoy this list!

Happy reading!

Chris.

“I want to get stronger! I don’t want to get bulky” F**k!! What you need to know about Strength training.

By | Strength Training | No Comments

“I want to lift weights, but don’t want to get bulky.

Okay so you want to get stronger? No,no,no I don’t want to get big.”

This was a quote from a conversation I had the other day at the gym with a member. She then went on to explain she wants to be able to lift a bit more weight and reduce knee and back pain when lifting boxes at work.

She wanted to get strong.

But she thought strong meant looking like Arnie.

The confusion between muscular strength and muscular size is still evident within the general population. In the media strength is often associated with bodybuilders and The Mountain from Game of Thrones.

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The Mountain is not impressed with your lack of strength.

In the fitness space, strength is often associated with how much you bench or squat.

What is strength? What’s the difference between improvements in strength and muscular size?

Muscular size: also known as hypertrophy, is the increase in the volume of an organ or tissue due to the enlargement of its component cells.

Muscular strength: is the increase in the efficiency and power of the muscle to produce force. Or simply, your ability to push/pull more weight in a maximal effort.

So now that we have some definitions on strength and hypertrophy, how would our training change? Can you be strong and not have slabs of thick muscle?

Training for hypertrophy is relatively straightforward, there’s three main factors required for muscle to grow in size.

  1. mechanical tension (very simply put is the process of placing the muscle under both passive and active tension)
  2. metabolic stress  (build up of metabolic byproducts such as a lactate or the occlusion/pooling of de-oxygenated blood in the muscle)
  3. muscle damage (not to be confused muscle strains and tears, muscle damage is the accumulation of tiny micro-tears which then promote muscle growth and repair)

Strength training requires similar stressors, characteristically though strength is heavily influenced through our CNS (central nervous system). Lifting with heavy loads such as 80% 1RM and above elicits predominantly neuromuscular adaptation. By performing multiple repetitions with heavy loads we start to accumulate volume through the 3 factors for hypertrophy mentioned above.

Over time individuals who are training with heavier loads become more adept to recruiting muscle fibers more efficiently than someone who is not training. This has multiple benefits such as:

  • Shock absorption when jumping/falling
  • Developing power in sports
  • Strengthen soft tissue ligaments and tendons around joints

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Can you train for both strength and hypertrophy?

Yes.

Follow these simple guidelines.

Choose 3-6 barbell lifts to periodise (%1RM, RM Max) as main lifts (Squat, deadlift, bench press etc.)

Perform 2-3 main lifts per day

Choose 6-12 secondary/assistance exercises to round off your development and ultimately improve your main lifts. (think isolation exercises eg. bicep curls, isolateral exercises eg. lunges, machines eg. hack squat and leg press)

Perform 2-4 accessory lifts per day.

Across the week aim for:

~20 reps between 70-85% 1RM for each main lift (mid-band)
<10 reps between 90-95% 1RM for each main lift (high-band)
~30-40 reps  for each muscle group for each session (for hypertrophy)

The above guidelines will provide you with the increases in strength and enough volume to accumulate hypertrophy.

I hope that’s cleared up a few things and will now provide you with some clarity between strength and muscle size (hypertrophy). They’re similar, but different!

Regards,

Chris

 

You can burn fat without cardio

By | Fat Loss, Strength Training | No Comments

 

And you don’t have to starve yourself either.

Its almost the first thing most people think about when they think about burning fat. Long sessions of running, images of treadmills and jogging around a park for hours.

Often when I meet a new member at the gym and they tell me they just want to lose weight they almost immediately request I show/instruct them on which piece of cardio equipment will do the trick.

Now are they wrong? Of course not. Any exercise done consistently with garner results. But what about those of us who just dislike cardio and want to still drop the kilos without having to succumb to a diet that resembles that of a rabbit.

Quite simple. Get stronger, build some muscle and focus on dietary change.

Lets briefly go over why.

1.You’ll burn more calories over the course of the day (kinda)

As you get stronger, your body will start to develop more muscle. You’ll slowly require more food to keep up with your exercise routine (to fuel recovery etc.). Is this due to increased muscle mass? eh, kinda. You’ve probably heard somewhere that gaining muscle will increase your metabolism and allow you to eat 100’s of extra calories per day. Yeah – no. The real reason why you’ll burn more calories over the course of the day is more likely due to the fact that your body requires energy to rebuild muscle after a workout. See doing cardio doesn’t result in much muscle damage, weights training however does, and the process of rebuilding our muscle takes hours (24-36 hours in fact).

2. Look better naked.

Acquiring more muscle and focusing on dietary improvements will lead to a reduction of fat and increase in muscle mass. This is called is a change in body composition. What this will result in is a change in how you look but possibly little movement on the scales. And boy will you look better naked. Increasing your strength and improving body composition will leave you looking more firm and masculine than your cardio only counterparts.

3. Won’t have to starve yourself.

As mentioned earlier, an increase in strength and muscle will also increase the amount of calories your body requires to maintain it. What this means is that you’ll be able to eat more food than regular dieters. Traditionally this is the method of weight-loss advocated by misinformed individuals: “exercise lots, reduce your calorie consumption, and keep reducing it”. But what ends up happening is that an individual will reach a point where they reduce their food consumption so much that it will become very difficult, mentally, to maintain adherence. By participating in regular strength training you’ll get to eat more food whilst changing your body composition and looking better. Lock it in Eddie!

What if I really want to do cardio?

So if you really do want to do cardio, I’d suggest H.I.I.T (high intensity interval training) purely based on time efficiency. You can read more on HIIT cardio in a previous blog post. Click HERE

Or better yet, participate in sports. I’m a big advocate for sport participation wherever possible due to the team aspect and sense of belonging it develops. Oh and I guess the fitness component of it.

Hope you’re having a killer start to the week.

Peace,

Chris ‘all weights, no cardio’ Watts.

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