Not much time ago I wrote a post called "Your Worst Enemy". You can find it here. So this article is sequel. Or better to say work on mistakes. I was talking with one of my clients recently and he pointed out that it would be cool if I write more articles on psychological aspects of training and dieting. So aforementioned article came up to my mind right away. But after chatting for a little bit longer I realized the biggest flaw of that post. I touched the problem and defined it well but forgot the most obvious thing: ways to solve it. And today my goal is to fix my mistake and concentrate on possible solutions. Time to defeat your worst enemy.
So Who's Your Worst Enemy Again?
You. Your worst enemy is nobody else but you. You may disagree. You may deny. You may get angry and pissed off. But this won't change the fact that your worst enemy is you. Not me, not that guy in the gym, not lunar phase, not government, not genetics, not anything else. It's all you. I can go on and on but you can check out the previous article for that. Why you? Well, if you think long enough on subject you will inevitably find out that your poor strength/performance/look/insert your weak area is the consequence of your bad decisions. They are poor habits, poor diet choices, lack of sleep etc.
So what's now? Let's try to solve the problem. First of all we'll need to explore why do we make bad decisions?
Why Do We Make Bad Decisions?
It's impossible for me to analyze everyone on planet Earth so I will use my own example. Why do I make bad decisions? In my experience there can be several answers for this question. To be clear they are:
- Lack of discipline;
- Lack of planning;
- Bad circumstances;
- High life pressure.
I think that most of the people make bad decisions due to the same reasons. Let's take a look at all of them more closely.
Lack of Discipline
I already wrote about lack of discipline in this article. But, anyway, let's recap. This is the most widespread reason of bad decisions, in my opinion. People today live comfortable lives. We have access to anything we want. Just look at stores, it seems that there is a special gadget for anything. Machines wash dishes, machines wash clothes, machines slice bread etc. You can find any food you want in the supermarket. We become so lazy that we order food home. We live in the age of ultra-high comfort. What's bad about it? All that comfort makes us weaker. People now can't even open the bottle of beer without special gadget. I miss the times when people just put that bottle next to the table and hit hard to open it. Fuck, I can open a bottle of beer in at least 5 different ways without any gadget. It is considered awesome here in Ukraine if person can open bottle of beer only with his/her eye. But I digress. Of course, it's not true for everybody but I see the trend. What's my point? This weakness because of "overcomfort" leads exactly to lack of discipline. In old times if you wanted something you needed to work hard and long for it. You required discipline to get something. Now people are used to instant access to what they want. They want everything and now. Well, this clearly leads to poor decisions in life. As experience shows instant approach doesn't work in real life. If you want something valuable (strength/performance/look) you need discipline. You need to work hard and long. Just like in old days.
Lack of Planning
Again, I wrote about this before. It seems that when people don't have a clear plan they are more likely make wrong decisions. For example, if you don't have solid training program you'll be doing everything you like (bench press, curls and abz, right?) every training session (possibly everyday). Obviously such approach won't give you results other than frustration. Why this problem appears? Because very few people realize that plan is one of the biggest requirements for success.
Ah, bad circumstances. Before you rant how bad your circumstances are I'd like to define what can be considered as bad circumstances. It can be death, some huge accident, bad injury, for some people break-up with boyfriend/girlfriend, stuff like this. In other words, some event that can break you easily. Anyway, bad circumstances tend to not last long. So it's important to get back on track as soon as possible. Arnold told in "Pumping Iron" that he hadn't flew to his father's funeral because he was preparing for some bodybuilding contest. Of course, he acted and that was part of the script (not real life) but it was taken from real story of some boxer. I respect such dedication (not saying that it's right thing to do) and this example just confirms that your worst enemy is you. That boxer overcame bad circumstances to be successful in what he did. Talking about necessary sacrifice.
High Life Pressure
Again, what is high life pressure? Kids, high-demanding work, high-stress work, some chronic disease etc. It's easy to understand bad decisions made by people with high life pressure but it would be wrong to justify them. Well, yes, you have hard life, so what? There are plenty of stories about old-time strongmen that worked 12-hour shifts and worked out for 2 hours afterwards. Almost everyday. And had families and kids. So deal with it.
So How to Defeat Your Worst Enemy?
My best advice would be: defeat your worst enemy one battle at a time. Of course, it's hard to be consistent with training and diet if you have lots of other stress in life. But you can always divide and conquer. Any problem can be broken down into several manageable parts. And your goal should be to deal with them one step at a time.
What should you do? Firstly, deal with the reasons of your bad decisions. Work on your discipline, get a good plan, prioritize your goals. It all starts in your head. Training and diet don't need to take much time. 3 workouts per week is within access of anybody. All you need are 3 hours per week. You can train at home. Read Rough Strength Blog on how to do it. Read these articles for more info:
If you need more routines check out these articles:
As for diet it doesn't have to be complicated to work (at least before you get to extreme stage (when you'll have visible abs but will need to lose some more fat to become shredded)). Read this stuff:
As for sleep, my advice would be to get as much as possible. As you can see from my articles training and nutrition shouldn't be complicated to work. It shouldn't take much of your time but on the other hand it SHOULD take lots of effort and hard work.
What you must clearly understand is that your decisions today affect how long will be the distance to your goals tomorrow. The more right decisions you'll make the closer you'll be to your goal. There's one good habit I'd like to share with you. If you care about something then do at least one thing everyday to get closer to your goal. Start slow. Start with putting one spoon of sugar into your tea instead of two. Start with 1 workset per exercise but workout 3 times per week. Start with drinking 1 glass of water per day. And then gradually work your way up from that point. This way chances that you will stay in the game will be much higher. And stop watching TV or surfing the internet till 3 AM. Sleep is essential.
Learn some time management skills if you need. You know, Einstein and Arnold also had 24 hours in the day. So there are no excuses for you not to get results. Yes, it can be very hard but it is possible. One problem at a time.
Remember, only you are responsible for your strength, performance, look, endurance etc., as well as your life. If some people stop you from making progress (your boss that thinks that you are lazy piece of shit that should get much less money, your retarded friend who gives you cigarette when you are trying to quit smoking, your colleague or spouse that doesn't understand why do you want to improve) kick their ass, leave them behind and NEVER look back. There will be people that will grow and improve with you. You can always find such people reading this blog.
So you got it. The only way to defeat your worst enemy is one battle at a time. And time for battle is now. Thanks for reading. Use the knowledge. And don't forget to share with friends.
I'm always ready to help you.
P.S. What are your experience with fighting that dude/dudette in the mirror?
So you are serious about this calisthenics thing. You've seen lots of videos on YouTube. You've read some articles. Maybe you even read some books (!). But nothing helps. YouTube guys mostly lightweight, articles are rarely well-written and books often lack proper guidance (programming is bad or progression steps are too wide from each other). But most importantly they don't teach you how to effectively progress in bodyweight exercises. Why? Majority doesn't have the proper knowledge (we can see this often in street workout and crossfit movements). Others have the knowledge but not willing to give it away for free. I understand those guys. You spend lots of time studying and experimenting on yourself and your clients. You put literally tons of effort and hard work in. It's tempting not to give away the knowledge. But although strength training and nutrition are not rocket science (as everybody loves to say) it requires individual approach. So there's simply no recipe that works for all. Everybody is different. And what I exactly do with my training and nutrition probably won't work for you. And something that guy in a gym does might not give you the same results as he got (of course, unless it's steroids (and even if yes same results are not guaranteed)). Everybody has different goals. For somebody it's important to have less fat, for somebody - more muscle, for somebody - rough strength. Everybody needs different programming but the principles remain the same. So it all comes to greed of particular so-called "guru" regarding not sharing these principles. I want to differentiate myself from that greedy crowd and that's why it's important for me to share useful information with you (to educate you!). But I digress. Let's take a look at some common methods of progressing in bodyweight exercises.
Principles of Progression
There are several principles of progression you need to understand. Basically any skill can be learned knowing these principles but I want to emphasize all the attention on calisthenics. So what are those principles?
Different people will put different categories here but I would like to go with these three. Recently I watched several interviews (this one made huge impact on me in particular) with Tim Ferriss (I first was introduced to his work through the book "The 4-Hour Body"). He's quite interesting man. So he also puts "Stakes" to these principles. And this would be a right thing to do for the majority of people. Regular person that doesn't know why he/she needs to learn, for example, planche will most likely fail. But I appreciate the fact that you are not majority. If you read my articles then you are smart person and you are determined to get results. So let's look at these principles.
Deconstruction is one of the most important principles of progression. I'd say it's essential to use this principle if your goal is to learn any skill. What's it all about? It's all about taking a skill and exploring it from the end result to beginning. So if you take planche for example how deconstruction can help you?
Let's take this classic picture of planche for reference. So what can you tell from one basic picture (of course if you are attentive enough (and have some experience in bodyweight strength training)) using deconstruction analysis? Let's go from toes to head.
1. Feet are pointing away with toes. Will it help with holding planche? Probably not much. But it will make your planche more aesthetically pleasing.
2. Body is in a perfectly straight line. This is big. You definitely saw all those crappy NOT-planches on YouTube or elsewhere where performer arches his lower back like mad to compensate the lack of strength in his girly weak body. It's wrong and can't be compared to the true planche you see on the picture above. So what will you need to keep your body in proper position? You will need to practice hollow body position (just Google it) and to strengthen your core muscles. A quick note on strengthening core muscles: I have no problem in holding my body straight like in the picture above (my weak link is always shoulders). What I did for this? I did lots of heavy squatting, deadlifting, kettlebell swings and snatches, sandbag squats and shoulderings, and no stupid crunches, sit-ups and hyperextentions. If you don't want to add weights to your training regimen you might lose some awesome lower back development. In this case concentrate on hollow body position practice, handstands and bridges. These would probably be the best options.
3. Shoulders are pushed all the way to the front. This should feel like you are trying flex your trap muscles. Here are two photos from Gymnastic Bodies forum to explain what I mean:
This is proper way to do the planche and will help with your progress big time.
4. Arms are straight. No bend elbows allowed. If you do not lock your elbows it's not planche. Holding this position with fully straight arms is much harder thus much more beneficial.
5. Hand placement. As you can see the performer points his fingers forward and due to his lack of flexibility (which is the issue for the majority of the Earth population) he stands more on his fingers rather than on the full palm. The dude can afford to perform planche like this due to his "lightweightness". But for the heavier guys this would be too close to wrist injury. The simple trick to avoid this is to put your hands pointing a bit to the side. Left hand will point to 10 o'clock and right to 2 o'clock.
Also notice that hands are just under the center of gravity of the performer. So this defines planche as handbalancing skill very similar to handstand in terms of finding the spot of equilibrium. So the most efficient planche position is the one where hands are placed right under the center of gravity.
6. He looks forward. I think that this position of the head is more beneficial than neutral.
So that's the simple but yet effective deconstruction analysis of planche. You can (and should) do this with any skill you'd like to learn. Be as attentive as possible. Even the smallest detail can make a big difference.
This is the old one. Seems that I write about this principle in every article. Why? Because I can't emphasize enough on how this principle is important in strength training as well as in any area of life. What is progressive resistance (or progressive overload or whatever you call it)? It's that magic tool that helps you do the impossible. It's that missing part of the puzzle. Progressive resistance is the principle of breakdown of the hard task into several manageable parts (progression steps) and sequencing them in the right order (from easiest to the hardest).
So after deconstruction analysis you take the skill and break it down into progression steps. It may be not so simple. But with practice you will become more proficient in this. Let's get back to our planche example. What is important in mastering a planche skill? Just looking at the picture you can say that it's important to have necessary specific strength in shoulders and core. That's pretty close to the truth. Also (again, if you are attentive enough) you may notice that proper planche is like an arc:
It should feel like this. Like a bow. Also you should notice the lean forward. Planche is all about leaning forward. And, of course, I need to mention that planche involves to great degree your biceps, lats and upper chest. So what's next? Everything else is common knowledge and sense. You should probably know by now that the more leverage we have the easier the position or the exercise. Or you can learn this through experience and inability to lean forward enough. What's the solution? Increase the leverage and decrease the difficulty.
Here are pretty decent progression steps to planche:
As you can see you need to start with the easiest of variations (Planche Lean) and progress through steps to the hardest (Full Planche). Basically, I would recommend such steps:
- Planche Lean (Feet on the floor, lean forward into pseudo-planche)
- L-Sit (You need to strengthen your arms to hold your bodyweight and also you need to strengthen your core)
- Tuck Planche (Legs are close under you, lean forward into a planche)
- Advanced Tuck Planche (The same as above but straighten your lower back)
- Advanced Tuck Planche with knees outside the elbows (The same as above except the legs position)
- Straddle planche (Lean more forward, keep your body straight, spread your legs apart)
- Full Planche (Same as above, feet together)
Here you have the basic plan for getting that planche. Of course, everything may vary from individual to individual. Some people prefer include One-Leg Planche, Frog Stand etc and I'm ok with that. What you need to understand that this progression is not written in stone. If you find it difficult to progress from one step to the next the best advice I can give you is to break it further down into several steps. For example, if you find it difficult to progress from Advanced Tuck to Straddle take as many steps as needed. Advanced Tuck Planche with knees outside the elbows is what helped me. Try One-Leg or try to extend your knees a little more from Advanced Tuck. Again, break it down as many times as needed and, of course, pay attention to your weak areas.
Another way to use progressive resistance principle in learning particularly planche would be weighted practice. If you can't progress from one step to the next you can add weight for resistance. I wrote in-depth article on this theme here. In one sentence: never forget the good old backpack.
And the third way would be practicing planche position with dumbbells. It's not so fun and much harder to do right but the potential of the smaller weight increments and smaller jumps through progression is worth mentioning. So what you do is take two dumbbells, lie on the bench, press them up, then lower them on straight hands until they reach your center of gravity and pretend you are in planche position. Something like this:
Of course, like in any other skill practicing actual planche would be the most beneficial way to train for it. But other two ways would be nice accessory means of development. You'll need to explore the position some more to find out your weak areas that will need improvement through accessory work.
There are two more points I need to explain in progressive resistance principle section. The first one is when to progress? The good rule of thumb is to progress further when you've mastered the current skill and it feels easy. I know, that it's a bit blurry. But the reality is that everybody will have different numbers. Some people will be able to hold the position for 10 seconds and progress further while the others may need 30 seconds hold. Remember that you must not be in hurry or you will fail.
The second one is mixed with deconstruction stage a bit and it's what will be effective? If you feel and data proves that what you are doing brings no results then search for other way. If you do 5 planche exercises for 5 sets and not progressing maybe you need to do less volume and more intensity. If you do some accessory exercises and they don't give you the boost in performance maybe you are concentrating on wrong areas.
Make the resistance progressive and you will be pretty damn close to your goal.
And, of course, consistency. Good old hard work. They say that to get good at something you need 10,000 hours of practice. And they are right. And not just practice but reasonable and effective practice. Patience and consistency - that is what will bring you results. Many people overlook this principle but in reality that's where the most of them fail. You can have pretty good understanding of the skill, you can have the best progression but without the hours of practice that's all just theory. What will you do when your workout will be bad? What will you do when you hit plateau? Will you quit? If yes then you will probably fail at anything in life. In learning any skill be prepared for hard and long work.
Methods of Progressing in Bodyweight Exercises
So now you know the main principles of learning. Let's get back to calisthenics. Aside from decreasing leverage (which was discussed earlier on example of planche) there are several other methods of progressing in bodyweight exercises.
Increasing range of motion is another effective strategy in learning calisthenics. What is it? Let's take Handstand Push-Ups [HSPU] for example. If you can't do full range HSPU at the moment you can decrease range of motion of the exercise. You can do this with several not interesting books. Just stack them under your head. Once you hit the desired number of reps you just take away one book, work your reps up again and repeat. When you achieve the skill you can add difficulty with the same increased range of motion. In case of HSPU once you can do desired number of reps in regular version you can put books or blocks under your hands increasing the range of motion and difficulty at the same time. This method works well with pushing exercises but is pretty hard to be normally applied to pulling exercises.
Adding weight was discussed earlier and is another legitimate way to progress from one progression step to the next. How does it work? Again, let's take planche for example. Let's assume that you can hold an Advanced Tuck version for 15 seconds but you really struggle to add time because it feels more like training endurance rather than strength. Simultaneously you can't move to Straddle version due to lack of strength. No big deal. Try to add weight and stay in this 15 seconds range until you can perform bodyweight Straddle Planche.
Changing position of body in space is also very effective way to progress in bodyweight exercises. For example, One-Arm Push-Up [OAPU]. Let's assume you can't do single rep in OAPU on the floor. Try to do it off the couch or a curtain pad, or the wall, or anything that works for you. Again once you hit your desired number of repetitions progress to lower surfaces until you do it on the floor. The perfect surface for this is power rack with lots of pins. It allows more gradual progression which extremely important in OAPU training. And, of course, I mean real OAPU: feet close, body almost straight, shoulders parallel to the ground.
Combining difficult and easier exercises. I used this method with lots of success lately for Planche Push-Ups. Just like Ido Portal shows here:
How to use this? Negative and bent-arm parts of the movement will be always stronger than positive and straight-arm parts. So while leaving positive and straight-arm portions of the movement as is you can easily make negative and bent-arm portions harder. Just like in the video above. Or if you train with partner you can try additionally increase difficulty of the negative part with added weight while removing it for the positive part.
Combining exercises into more complex moves. Adding weight or increasing range of motion are not the only methods in your arsenal. Try combining exercises. For example, if you became proficient in Muscle-Ups and Front Levers you can combine them into Muscle-Up to Front Lever sequence and perform them like one exercise. Here's the freedom. No boundaries.
So now you have the basic knowledge on attaining any skill and progressing in bodyweight exercises. Use this knowledge wisely. Apply it and let me know the results. That's will be it for now. If you like this article do me a favor and share it with your friends. As always thanks for reading.
I'm always ready to help you.
P.S. What are your favorite methods of learning and progressing in bodyweight exercises?
It happens that today is second Rough Strength birthday. So I decided to come up with something special and fundamental at the same time. I have written lots of articles on training and nutrition. But I never wrote a whole article on why I think Rough Strength method is superior than others at least for my goal as well as for any strength-related goal. I can speak about this whole day but I won't bore you to death with long intros and get straight to the point. But, firstly, what is Rough Strength?
What Is Rough Strength?
I want people to have clear understanding of what Rough Strength is. Word 'rough' is used here not only like hardcore but first and foremost meaning without any luxuries. It's something you can use at home with anything you have.
I don't want it to be confused with trendy street workout or crossfit, or gymnastics, or powerlifting etc. Firstly, Rough Strength is obviously not a sport. It can have some competitive edge but it's not the main point. Why? Because it has no rules except for training for strength and progressive resistance and minimal effective equipment. You can use any implement you have at hand. Do you have nothing? Well, then there are calisthenics and gymnastic skills that will build strength just with your bodyweight. Want to add difficulty and challenge? No big deal, get a pair of rings. Want some variety but don't want to spend money on equipment? Make a sandbag. I wrote a lot on why and how to implement it. Want some versatile interesting and fun strength training implement? Get a kettlebell. Or better pair of them. Do you have access to barbell, dumbbells, tire, sledgehammer, gripper etc? Awesome. Use them if you want. The rules are the same. But in the end you don't need any fancy equipment to get results. And aren't results all that matter? You can get superstrong with as little equipment as bodyweight and sandbag. So what's your excuse?
Rough Strength is more of a personal struggle to get stronger, leaner, better. It's about getting in tune with your own body. It cultivates right attitude and discipline. It makes you better human and person. It's all about self-development. You and only you are the main piece of puzzle, not some unimportant things.
I will use term Rough Strength method later in this article. While there are no hard boundaries on what equipment to use Rough Strength method here means using calisthenics, kettlebells and sandbags separately or together like complete strength training system. These are the tools I found the most versatile and inexpensive. Anybody can have a full home gym even with these 3 tools.
Rough Strength Mission
As you can see there are no set in stone rules in Rough Strength method. Then what's the mission of my blog? Simple. Take a look around. What do you see? You see people that are believing that they need to pay for gym memberships to get in shape. You see people that believe they need fancy equipment to get lean and/or muscular. You see people that concentrate too much on external aspects instead of internal. This is wrong. Rough Strength mission lies in educating people. We live in whole new age. It's the age of information. I want to show you that you don't need gym memberships anymore. All tools are almost free. The thing you need to concentrate on is education in physical training and nutrition and/or getting help from professional. That is what makes HUGE difference. Never stop educating yourself.
If you are interested, I have 3 fundamental rules:
- Never teach what you haven't done or have little expertise at.
- Practice what you preach.
- Share the knowledge.
So what you read on my blog is the result of following these rules. I'm not one of those "fitness gurus" that claim that they know everything (but in reality they just full of crap and know only how to make testosterone shots in their ass). I'm just an ordinary guy with average metabolism and genetics sharing his knowledge and experience with the world. I think, honesty is the thing that makes difference. That's who I am.
And HUGE thanks to all of you who shared my work, who subscribed to my newsletter, facebook page, twitter, RSS. You all are awesome. You all took part in spreading the knowledge and helping Rough Strength mission. We all are family.
And why the F do you need to use this RS method? I'll give you 10 reasons.
10 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Rough Strength Method
- It's almost free. I train now only with rings and sandbag (I don't have kettlebells here in Kiev, and I occasionally touch barbell and dumbbells). Again all you need is education and coaching. I got my recent sandbag for under $5. If it's expensive for you then training is not your thing, go cry in pillow.
- It's sustainable. When you have education you can sustain your training (and nutrition) for a lifetime. Who cares whether it's crisis or all gyms are closed? Or you are at the uninhabited island? Whatever. Knowledge gives you freedom and sustainability. No matter what you will always find how to train and progress further in your quest for strength.
- It's based on facts and reasonable progressions. I really don't like when people make unsupported claims. All of the information I share was tested by me and my clients. I filter useless crap and put out only what works. Also I don't like just-do-it approach (used, for example, in street workout). If you do something you do it on purpose. Proper programming is one of the most underrated things by regular gym rats. That's why they are so weak and girly. And that's why we are strong. Besides, I like to improve my knowledge every day so Rough Strength method is never out-dated.
- It builds real-world strength. Machines and bosu ball won't give you these awesome results in strength that you can use anywhere: from helping your friend moving furniture to bar-fight toughness.
- It builds mental toughness. That's one of the most important aspects of strength training. And Rough Strength method take it to the whole new level. You'll find out that coping with stress will be much easier. Work, family etc. If I wasn't training I would have jumped off the cliff already (living here in Ukraine is pretty tough, you know; 95% of people can barely earn money for decent food and living).
- It teaches you how achieve "impossible" things. As well as any proper strength training method. Progressive resistance and practice are keys to achieving any goal or skill. Handstand, Planche, the One-Arm Chin-Up, Big Bench Press, Huge Squat, playing guitar, riding a bike, being a good manager etc. Make one step at a time and practice more.
- It will help you with aesthetic goals. Who said that only barbell and dumbbells are good for getting ripped and muscular? It's all possible to achieve with calisthenics, sandbags and kettlebells but it will take longer time. Who cares in the end?
- It can be used to supplement any sport-specific training. If you are participating in some sort of sport then you will definitely benefit from this method. Read the reasons above. You will be stronger, leaner, more muscular etc. Isn't sport about being all that and playing sport?
- It's simple. But not easy. You concentrate only on important things. That's how you will not waste your time on useless crap. Doing only important things is simple but never easy. Train, eat right, rest, repeat. How it can be more simple?
- It's just awesome. Nothing to explain.
How to Use Rough Strength Method?
Firstly, who is RS method for? It is for serious and dedicated trainees only. Regular estrogen men and gym chicks will probably find it too difficult and demanding. If you are one of them stop reading right now. You won't get all the sophistication of the method, anyway. For all the others (I mean, hardcore dudes and dudettes) - read on.
So how to use this method? Well, it all depends on your level of dedication to it. Basically, there are 3 ways:
- Incorporate exercises you like into your current routine;
- Incorporate unconventional (or home) training days;
- Use Rough Strength method solely.
There's no best way. It all depends on individual. Everybody will find different use for the method. There is one important principle you need to understand: any exercise you perform in commercial gym can be performed at home with bodyweight, sandbag or kettlebells. When you understand this principle you can find substitution for any exercise. This is how you achieve freedom from commercial equipment. This is how you use RS method. Bench Press can be replaced with Planche Push-Up or One-Arm Push-Up, Barbell Rows can be replaced with Front Lever Rows, Barbell Squats can be replaced with Pistols or Sandbag Squats etc. Of course, these exercises will feel different but who cares. Again, the only thing that matters is result.
To understand this more deeply let's breakdown an example. There are basically several movement patterns of your body. For example, Bench Press is Horizontal Push movement. Just imagine how your hands travel during the movement. Why "horizontal"? Because of the position of your body to the floor and gravity. It's horizontal to the ground. "Push" because you press weight away from the body. Now when you understand what type of movement Bench Press is you can find a substitute for it keeping in mind that it is horizontal push. It can be Planche Push-Up, One-Arm Push-Up, Weighted Push-Up, Kettlebell Floor Press, Sandbag Floor Press etc. Read this article for more.
Important VS Unimportant
Another skill you need to develop is separating important from unimportant. Not to bore you completely here are two random lists.
- Progressive resistance;
- Basic Exercises;
- Calories and Macros;
- Education etc.
- Programs of Champions;
- What exercises do I (or any other guy except you) use;
- Fancy gym clothes;
- Ab and biceps training etc.
That's it. Is my method the only right thing to do? No. If you are doing something and it works for you then do it by all means. But if what you are doing now doesn't work you can use Rough Strength for help. If you are open-minded and ready to challenge yourself with something new then you are welcome. Thanks for reading. Do me a HUGE favor by sharing this with as many friends as possible.
I'm always ready to help you.
P.S. What are your thoughts?
You may wonder why the F do I write an article on such trendy and obvious thing? Hell, you can search the internet and there will be tons of info on shoulder training. And I'm cool with it. But I'd like to write the Rough Strength version. It's like the sum of my own training experience. Besides, there are lots of people who are new to training and they are wondering how to get those strong cannonball shoulders. And why am I writing about shoulders? Why not legs? Why not biceps and abs? Because shoulders are the most masculine part of the body (along with traps). Nothing will make you stand out from the crowd like well-developed shoulders. Shoulder is one of the most complex joints so it's wise idea to develop them. If you notice all the upper body movement patterns are based on the shoulder position. So here is Rough Strength top 5 exercises for awesome shoulder development:
5. Sandbag Military Press
On fifth place there is sandbag military press. Here are photos of start and finish of the exercise:
Basic technique points are:
- Keep your lower back arched;
- When you press the bag overhead try to press it back, behind your head. This will ensure that you will press it straight up;
- Lock the elbows at every rep;
- Always touch the chest at the bottom.
Here is a video of me push pressing 75 kg sandbag:
Of course, push press is not the same as legitimate military press but, anyway, it's close enough for you to understand what this movement is all about.
Why I like sandbag military press for shoulder development? Read this article for overall sandbag benefits. I like this movement for its functionality. It teaches you to lift over your head an unstable always changing object. It builds shoulder and triceps strength not many exercises will be able to match. I highly recommend you to use this exercise in your training routine if your goal is maximal upper body strength and size development.
4. Kettlebell Seated Press
Kettlebell seated press is number 4. Unfortunately, I have no pictures or videos of this exercise. Anyway, I'll try to explain it. It's simple but effective. You seat on the floor. Take the kettlebell in one hand. Then press it overhead without holding anything with the other hand. You will notice that your shoulders get fried with much less weight comparing to military press. It happens because you can't help yourself with your legs and lower back. Your shoulders work much more. Why unilateral? Because there are big chances that you will fall if you press two kettlebells. If you brave you can do it bilateral.
This exercise will be like breath of fresh air when your military presses will stall. Also kettlebell Sots press can be in this category.
3. Planche Push-Ups
Planche push-ups (as well as static planche) would be number 3. Despite the fact that most of the trainers will put planche push-ups in "horizontal push" category it works slightly different muscles than classic exercises from this category. Bench press, for example, works mostly pectoral muscles with some shoulder and triceps involvement (for different people the level of involvement will be different). But planche push-ups work mostly shoulder muscles and lats. Chest muscles and triceps don't get as much work to do as in bench press. Anyway, this exercise is awesome for shoulder development and you can't deny it. Hell, you are holding your body parallel to the ground and doing push-ups in this position. Your shoulders get a lot of work to do (ranging from stabilization to dynamic movement). Here's my video with some straddle planche push-ups in it (it's old, now they are much better, need to make a new video):
You will definitely want to add these bad boys to your training regimen. But here's the word of advice for you. Don't force your progress. It won't come faster. Stay with tuck version as long as it takes to master it. Don't be a fool. Planche is not a skill that you will be able to obtain overnight. Be prepared for several years of hard work. But in the end it will be well worth it.
2. Clean & Press
Number 2 is clean and press. Classic exercise that gets forgotten all the time. Why do you want to clean the weight every rep? Because by doing so you will give your shoulders more work to do (especially the posterior deltoid). You will ensure the good well-balanced shoulder development, and ton of usefulness as a side effect. So the movement is composed of two parts: clean and press. The weight is on the floor. You come to it. Clean it. Press it. Lower it down. Repeat. Simple. Here's just ordinary clean & press:
You can do this exercise with any weight. Use barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, sandbag, stone etc. Your fantasy is the limit. My preference would probably be kettlebells. But I like barbell clean and press too. As well as every another variation. Cool movement. Do it.
1. Handstand Push-Ups
And number one is, of course, handstand push-up and all its variations. I can go on and on talking about this exercise. So to save your time I only say that handstand and handstand push-up are synonyms of awesome shoulder development. This includes all the variations: handstand, press handstand, wall-assisted handstand push-ups, free-standing handstand push-ups, 90 degree push-ups, planche press to handstand etc. Why I like it so much? Because all you need is your body and occasionally some wall. But the benefits are tremendous.
Handstand push-ups are my best choice for shoulder (as well as upper body) development. You can find me doing full range of motion wall-assisted handstand push-ups in on of the videos above.
Exercises to Keep Your Shoulders Healthy
The exercises I mentioned are less harmful to your shoulder joints than everybody's favorite bench press but, anyway, it's a good idea to develop rotator cuffs and overall shoulder health and mobility. Here are 2 ways to make it happen:
1. Cuban Press or Rotation
The most boring video ever but very good exercise for shoulder and particularly rotator cuff health. What's the difference between press and rotation? In Cuban press you press the weight up after the rotation and lower it fully between reps.
2. Scapula Mobilization by Ido Portal
Very sound routine for scapula mobilization which can be used with several adjustments for improving shoulder flexibility.
And Don't Forget Pulling
It is always a good idea to balance your pushing work with pulling. So when you construct your routine don't concentrate blindly on pushing. Throw in some pulling like pull-ups, front lever rows, kettlebell rows, high pulls, snatches, cleans etc. Always try to maintain structural balance as much as possible. This way you will ensure that you won't get more injuries.
So there you have it. Rough Strength version of top 5 exercises for awesome shoulder development. Use it wisely. And finally build some cannonball shoulders you will be able to crush walls with. Thanks for reading. You will do me a great favor if you like and share this post with friends.
I'm always ready to help you.
P.S. What are you favorite shoulder exercises?
So today I came up with pretty unusual topic. That's why I like writing my thoughts here on Rough Strength. There are no limits and full freedom for experimentation. But, anyway, back to the theme. Why I write on such topic? I'm not a big fan of bar fights. I mean, fighting is natural for men. It builds character and confidence. But I never start fights. I use my strength only if it's unavoidable. I think, that every strong man will share my view. Starting a fight just for the sake of fighting is immature and shows lack of confidence in 95% of cases. But there are times when you must do what is right. And on Saturday evening was situation just like that. Me and my wife were invited to the wedding of our good friends. Well, of course, there was vodka (we live in Ukraine, it's unavoidable) and lots of it (that's the only way Ukrainians drink). The times I drank to get drunk are long gone. So I had couple of shots and was almost sober while almost everybody were getting really drunk. And there was brother of the bride who drank no holds barred. To the end of the party he was inadequate. And, you know, people act different when they get drunk. I, for example, when I was younger could just throw up and go sleep. Now I probably would just go to sleep. But that dude acted completely different. After bride said him that he had enough and that he was embarrassing her he ran away. I don't know how would this story ended if my wife haven't run after him. She is very good and kind person and she cares when unknown people can possibly do harmful things to themselves. So, of course, I ran after her. When I left the bar (or restaurant, or something in between) I saw how she didn't let this motherfucker get hit by the car. But instead of being thankful for staying alive this looser tried to hit her. I get pissed when I see violence on any woman but if it's my girl I get merciless. Of course, he missed. I ran to him and hit him pretty hard several times. He started bleeding. Then I took him down to the ground and started holding him. This motherfucker tried with his pity force to get out of my grip but without success. Then I understood that it was some mental disorder caused by excessive alcohol consumption. And he tried to get out again and again but all in vain. By this time some other guys came out and we started to hold him together until the ambulance arrived. Medics got him two (!) shots of tranquilizer. But this didn't help. So they took him to the hospital. I went out from this story with only one bruise. My wife is fine, she got no injuries. Other guys have minor bruises. Everything ended ok. All in all we held him for more than 2 hours. And important notice, it was snow outside and really cold here in Kiev.
What's the moral of the story? If I wasn't training I would fail miserably and everything could end not so well. And I totally believe that sandbag strength training played major part in my success. So here's 5 ways sandbag training can help you in bar fight.
1. Sandbag Training Develops Toughness
Yes. Being able to play with 80 kg sandbag gave me pretty good overall strength and toughness. Just imagine, to perform sandbag zercher squats you need:
- Deadlift sandbag from the floor and take it on your legs.
- Make a power-clean-like move and catch it with your hands in zercher position.
- Put the bag carefully to the floor (I train in my apartment. If I just throw heavy sandbag down I risk to make a hole in the floor).
That's a lot of auxiliary work. That's not the same as barbell squats where you take the chrome well-balanced bar from the rack. That's different kind of beast. This auxiliary work builds additional toughness. Imagine if you do this with 100 kg sandbag. Who would dare to stand in your way?
2. Sandbag Training Develops Grip
Training with sandbag develops pretty good grip strength. Remember that there are no handles on this bad boy. So to lift it up you need to crush it hard. Sometimes it gets tough and you tear your fingers a bit but it well worth it. Sandbag master has bone-crushing handshake.
3. Sandbag Training Develops Mental Toughness
Some time ago I wrote the article on the main benefit of strength training. But sandbag training takes it to the next level. To lift heavy sandbag up you need to be fully concentrated and fired-up. Otherwise, nothing will happen. This teaches you mental toughness. This teaches you to be sharp and overcome obstacles. Remember how much work is there just to squat. Imagine that every set you need to do so much work. Imagine that you need to bring the sandbag to the place where you are training before the session and to take it back to where you keep it afterwards. Imagine discipline and dedication needed to train like this. This type of training is not for modern gym attendees. There are no mirrors, no chicks in spandex, no fancy brand new clothes. There are just you and a bag full of sand that demands to be lifted. That's what builds mental toughness.
4. Sandbag Training Develops Real World Strength
Who cares how much do you bench or squat? Despite what you think the real answer is nobody. These are just numbers. And no matter how big these numbers are if you can't apply this strength in real world you are weak. I'm not saying here that sandbag is the only right way or that barbell sucks. Use any implement that works for you. But sandbag training definitely builds strength that you can use in real world. This amount and type of work make you stronger with real life objects (like drunk motherfuckers) and in real life situations (like a bar fight). It is all because sandbag is not well-balanced and stable. Contrary to that it is odd and unbalanced. This not only involves more stabilizer muscles into action but also develops much more coordination and strength you can use outside the gym.
5. Sandbag Training Develops Muscle Armor
Again because this training implement is so odd and uncomfortable body will get tougher. I don't know how to explain this scientifically but there is a difference between bodybuilder and gymnast or some sort of strongman. Second category will look tougher and more badass while first one will look more ballooned up. I guess, this is because the primary muscle fiber type used. But for the sake of not getting too snobby let's call this muscle armor (how scientific, I know). This will help you to take hits with minimal injury.
Well, now you have it. Use your strength responsibly. If you see violence on women hit the bastard hard. Never start the fight (unless it's inevitable in which case hit first to increase chances of winning). I hope my story gave you some usefulness. Thanks for reading. You will do the old man a great favor if you share my work on this thing everybody calls internet. By the way, here's my another article on sandbag training. That's it.
P.S. I only now noticed that dude on the picture looks like Hitler. Gets creepy (:
P.P.S. I'd love to read your thoughts in comments.
P.P.P.S. The dude on the picture is Edward Norton from the movie Fight Club.