It seems pretty obvious that everybody on this planet is unique. Even when comparing them to their parents or other relatives. Everybody is different. Some people are right hand dominant, others - left hand. Some people are tall, some are short. Some people have fast metabolisms, some have slow. I can go on and on. Why am I writing this? Because all the people know they are different but still try to copy others (usually more successful ones) without even thinking. I see this all the time. I talk about this all the time. You can't expect results from thoughtless copying of programs and training approaches. Or diet methods. Or anything. "Hey, that dude got pretty big from doing this program. I will definitely get big from doing it exactly". Sorry to disappoint you but more chances that you won't. Why? Again, because everybody is different. Or because that guy might have years of experience and tons of knowledge under his belt and he designed a program that takes into account his physiology, biomechanics, stress levels, spare time etc (in other words, that is individual for him). Or he may be lucky bastard with genetics that allow him to use all the crappy programs in the world and grow. Or something in between. Your program might not be unique but it definitely must be personalized for you.
Because otherwise you'll suck.
Ok, Got It. What Should Be Personalized?
There are several points you should tweak to make program work for you.
Your technique should be as close to flawless as possible and at the same time it should be the most efficient for you. If you strive for less then be prepared to say "hello" to injury sooner rather than later. It seems like a no-brainer but there are lots of people who train with poor technique, suffer from injuries and blame in this everything except their stupidity. Don't be one of them. Remember, almost every injury you get now will bother you in future.
Bench press, curls and crunches? Think again. For a whole, all-around program you'll need some kind of squat, some kind of deadlift/lower back pull, couple of pressing movements in several planes, couple of pulling movements in several planes. Some coaches add several other exercises but this is the base of any successful program.
Proper Exercise Selection
Every trainee has different biomechanics and thus requires different exercises. For example, let's take barbell squat. The person with crappy biomechanics and poor leverage for this exercise might never be able to perform it properly. What to do? Not to squat? Wrong. This person needs to find an alternative that will work. This could be Sandbag Zercher Squats, Sandbag Bear-Hug Squats, Barbell Front Squats, Barbell Zercher Squats, Kettlebell Squats etc.
Lots of trainees get into this "intensity trap". They rush to add weight/reps/sets every session until they hit the situation where the weight seems impossible to lift for given amount of reps and sets. They hit plateau. Smarter trainees take it easy and lower intensity a bit. Stupid ones keep hitting it hard and get nowhere.
Proper Set/Rep Scheme
This is very important. Some people just don't progress on high reps, as well as others struggle with low reps. Stick to set/rep scheme that works for you.
Right Macronutrient and Food Selection
Talking about diet. Macronutrient proportions and food selection are probably the most important factors (along with calories) that will bring you the most results. When you are creating your diet you should keep in mind all your food allergies and cut out that foods completely. Also pick food content according to right macros for you. Pick the wrong ones and you'll get no results.
There are a lot of other factors you need to take into account but these are the ones I'd like to concentrate on right now.
The most important thing you can do in studying others' successful programs and diet approaches is trying to understand the principles that are behind. If you have fast metabolism forget about intermittent fasting. If you want to build muscle mass the fastest way then calisthenics probably aren't the best option. Think! Thanks for reading. Comment, like and share. If you need unique personalized approach feel free to contact me.
So one day you woke up and thought: "Hey! How many fake world endings did I live through? Maybe I need to improve my pull-up performance to be at least somewhat cooler the next time?" Well, this might not be the actual thought. But why not? Pull-up is essential exercise for building strength and muscle. It's hard to find an exercise that can match regular pull-up in terms of building pulling strength. Besides, it requires nothing but your bodyweight. It's not a coincidence that this exercise is a staple in training military and law enforcement units. Let's take a closer look at this exercise:
You can see basic performance of the pull-up on the pictures. There are several rules of performing the pull-up:
- Start from the dead hang
- Touch your chest to the bar on top
Of course, there are several other rules like keep your shoulders back and keep your back arched etc but these rules can vary from individual to individual. Also there are several hand placements:
- Palms facing the bar are generally called "pull-ups". These are considered as "tough" pull-ups here in Ukraine. But in reality they just shift the accent from your biceps to your forearm muscles.
- Palms facing you are generally regarded as "chin-ups".
- Palms facing each other are called "neutral grip pull-ups".
As for hand placement width common dogma says that the wider the grip the more lats are working. And vice versa, the closer the grip the more biceps work. Well, close grip pull-ups are definitely work your biceps more. But I can't agree with the wide grip. According to latest research lat activation is the pretty close in middle-grip and wide grip pull-ups. But wide-grip version definitely lacks range of motion. My advice is don't waste your time on wide grip version and concentrate on regular chin-ups.
Ok, everybody should already know this. Let's get to the fun part.
The Fun Part
Ok, so how do you improve those bad boys? There are several practical ways according to your conditions.
First of all, if you are just working toward your first pull-up then you should concentrate on different assisted variations. These could be band-assisted pull-ups, feet elevated pull-ups, pull-ups with partner help, pull-up negatives etc. You should get your first pull-up pretty fast if you're not very overweight and struggling even to pick up the pen weakling. You can get there by trying pull-ups every day or by hitting them hard once or twice per week. Anyway, when you'll get to sets of 3-5 reps everything will become a bit different. You may find that you are not progressing at all. That's when you should apply "greasing the groove". It means that you should try pull-ups throughout the day without draining yourself. So if your maximum is 5 reps try doing one set of 2-3 reps several times per day. You should get to 10-12 reps in no time.
There are several ways from here. You can either add weight and get stronger (or progress further toward one-arm chin-ups) or you can work on endurance (or both, but specialization will get you more results). If you decide to get stronger then I recommend not to exceed 5 reps in set. You should be working in low to moderate volume. Schemes like 3 x 3, 3 x 5, 4 x 4, 5 x 3, 5 x 5 etc would be just right. Try to add weight to you anytime possible. If you pick endurance training then there is good old high-frequency training to help you. Try to perform 1 set to failure in the morning and 1 set to failure in the evening. After 3 weeks give yourself several days of rest and then repeat.
Also it wouldn't be a bad idea to train your grip. Try to add some hangs from the bar here and there. This should help.
Now you have all the info you need to master the pull-up. Don't waste your time, start training right now. Thanks for reading. You know you are awesome. Sharelikesubscribe.
So you've been training for a decent time. You've made some gains. In strength, in muscle, in fat loss. But after a few weeks you stopped progressing. No amount of bench pressing, curls and crunches can make you progress again. You blame everyone for your fail. Bad genetics, crappy gym environment, wrong lunar phase, politics etc. But reality is quite opposite. You just suck. And suck hard. And your program sucks. And, of course, your diet sucks too. As well as your overall approach to everything in life.
Guess Who Is Your Worst Enemy?
You and only you. Never blame anyone except yourself for your fails. You are the the only one person who can take action over your life (or take no action at all) and that's the person you should blame. There's a good proverb: "If you want to change something start with yourself". So start. You can use help if you need. That's nothing wrong with it. But there's no such personal trainer that will do everything for you. I'm big believer in hard work. If you want to get something valuable out of any endeavor then you should put some serious work into it. As my experience shows this rule can be applied to any situation in life. If you can get something without any effort then you won't understand its value. There are tons of people with better than average genetics but they don't appreciate what they have because they don't pay the price of hard work. Ask any successful businessman about hard work and he will tell you what hard work is.
And if you think that you don't need to put in hard work to get results think again. I had a conversation recently about diet. After my tips on the right diet approach the person who I was consulting said to me: "You know, holidays are coming and I won't be doing all the stuff you told me". So I replied: "No big deal. You'll just remain fat and ugly". I don't care whether it's holidays or not. Holidays are 2-3 days out of the month. You have at least 26 days to eat right so don't fool yourself or anybody else. You are fat because of you. You are weak because of you. You have no muscle also because of you.
The Importance of Understanding...
...that processes in your body don't get any better with time and never will. Your metabolism gets worse and worse with every day. You'll get fatter and fatter with age (if you're not lucky ripped bastard). You need to understand that if you're not happy with your health/strength/look then you're doing something wrong. You need to cultivate the habit of exercising and eating right in you. And yes, you'll need to exercise and eat healthy till your death. There's no way around this. If you think that you'll just exercise and eat right for 3 months or so and then get back to your old sitting-and-eat-all-the-cakes routine then you are totally wrong. It's not a quick fix. Bring back the bad habit and you'll get back to where you started in no time. It may sound pretty rough but the truth is what important. I guess it's time to wrap up. I think, you got my point. Thanks for reading. Share and comment.
So you've been training for some time. Some of it you have wasted because you were following "programs of champions" or other bodybuilding magazine's crap. After realizing that you're not getting anywhere or getting somewhere but not where you want to you have decided to do it right finally. You have concentrated on training strength, you've made your diet right, you have finally started to see some progress in working weights as well as body composition. But after some time everything became harder and gaining strength is not that easy and fast as it was. You started thinking. That's when you need more sophisticated approach. Why not good old double progression?
What Is Double Progression?
When you progress just in weight or reps, or sets etc. it is single progression. Double progression, on the other hand, requires progressing in several parameters. Two, to be clear. You may even implement triple progression and more but I want to concentrate on one variation of double progression I came up with lately. Why bother? When you will get to intermediate training stage you'll understand why. You won't be able to progress in weight every training session. If you were able to do that everybody would be squatting 500 kg in a year. That won't happen. But you will be able to progress in other different training parameters like reps, sets, rest periods etc. That's where double progression becomes really handy.
How to Implement Double Progression?
There are several ways to implement double progression in your training routine. In easy words, pick two training variables, set frames and progress in those frames. For example, you can do 3 sets of 6 reps in military press with 50 kg. Work up to 3 sets of 8 reps, for the next session increase the weight to 52.5 kg and start over with 3 sets of 6 reps. Two training variables: weight and reps. Everything else is constant. Frames: 6 to 8 reps.
Another example would be Rest-Pause training. For example let's use barbell deadlift. Pick a weight that is your 3RM and do 10 singles with it. Rest periods: 60 s. Work up to 10 singles with 10 second rest periods. Then increase weight and start over. Two training variables: weight and rest periods. Frames: 60 to 10 seconds rest periods.
Rough Strength Double Progression Solution
Of course, somebody already invented such method of progression. I'm not saying that it's my invention. But who cares anyway (except geeks and nerds)? Important thing that this approach works and works very well. Ok, so you pick some exercise, say, barbell squat. Pick a weight that is your 5 repetition maximum. Do 5 sets of 3 reps. Return in a week and do 4 sets of 4. Then again in a week return and do 3 sets of 5. Add weight and start over with 5 sets of 3. This way you really master the weight. You work with it for at least 3 training sessions. It may sound too slow but in fact it isn't. You can't gain strength much faster than that at intermediate level. Not going to happen. Besides, the steadier you build your strength the longer your current type of progression will work. Also if you for some reason can't get all the reps in all sets don't worry, work with this weight until you get all of them.
So if you need some strength boost take a better look at this double progression thing. Maybe it's just the thing you needed to progress further. Slow but steady. As always thanks for reading. Spread the knowledge and share this as much as possible. And don't forget to like, subscribe and comment.
...So I was sitting and thinking: "Why sandbag strength training isn't really popular nowadays?" Actually two answers came up to my mind. Firstly, sandbag training is really tough. It's not for all those boys and girls that attend fitness clubs to get social. It's not for all those fat rich people that are so got used to luxury and comfort that they drive to fitness club to walk on treadmill. And, of course, it's not for all those close-minded pseudo-bodybuilders that think that nothing works if it's not a barbell, dumbbells or machines. Secondly, with sandbag training there's nothing to sell. Well, almost. You need just a bag and sand. Here's my tutorial on how to make a sandbag. Sandbag training is not as popular nowadays as it should be. It gives you rough reality check. It shows you how really weak you are. That's why you need to implement it and get stronger in it. Here's five reasons you need to do so.
1. Sandbag training is cheap.
I prefer to say that sandbag training is ridiculously cheap. Again you'll need a bag, some sand and some time to put it all together. Almost no thinking involved. My recent sandbag cost me under $5. And all I payed for was a bag. As for the sand I made some "research" on how to get it free and decided that the most cost effective solution was to stole it from construction site near home at night (: That's how we do it in Ukraine. Rough Strength style. But I digress. Just count. No gym memberships (why home gym?), no bars, no plates, no dumbbells, nothing. Fully equipped home gym in under $5. I think I made my point.
2. Sandbag training develops real life strength.
When I heard term "functional training" the first time I thought: "Wow! Really cool term for strength training". Later when it became popular fitness clubs started label everything as functional. Well, I don't want to be rude but how the fuck bosu-ball is functional? What real life function of the body does it train? Or how 1 kg dumbbells are functional? Smart people just selling useless crap to dumb people. That's functional. That's why I prefer to use term real life strength. Anyway, sandbag develops this kind of strength. Of course, I'm not talking here about light weight sandbags. You'll feel this benefit when you will work up in basic exercises to at least a sandbag that is equal to your own bodyweight. I use 80 kg sandbag now. Here's video of me push pressing 75 kg sandbag for 4 reps:
Just look at my face at the end of the set and you'll understand everything (: You'll be amazed of the potential of this tool for building strength.
3. Sandbag training develops muscles that you weren't aware of.
That's true. Just try it. You'll feel soreness in muscles you thought didn't exist. Training with sandbag forces your body to use its stabilizers MUCH more. Why? Because it's always uncomfortable, unstable, it's always changing its form and always trying to escape your hands. It reminds me wrestling a human. Well, at least dead human. Is sandbag training optimal for building muscles (again "optimal", noticed?)? Well, it's hard to say. More yes than no. Lift damn sandbag, remember progressive resistance, get right diet with slight calorie surplus, sleep and grow. It's just that. You'll build some decent muscular body and strength to match.
4. Sandbag training develops bone-crushing grip.
Have you ever tried to pick up a heavy sandbag? Have you been able to crush it? The answer is probably 'no'. Because it's almost impossible to get a good grip on sandbag. It's hard and it's uncomfortable. Your fingers will get a workout-in-workout. Prepare for some hard work. You'll be able to lift less weight than with a barbell because of this factor. But your muscles will actually work more. Resistance is resistance. And prepare to obtain a pair of vise-grip hands.
5. You always need to lift sandbag off the floor.
That's big factor. People nowadays seem to oversimplify their training. Treadmill over outdoor running, bench press over military press, leg press over squats and deadlifts. I can go on and on. And then they wonder why they are so fat. That's why. Do some more work. Such oversimplification won't work with sandbag strength training. You always need to lift sandbag off the floor. This means more work and more fat loss. Just try it.
I hope I gave you some reasons to at least give sandbag strength training a shot. It's definitely not for everybody. Just for the toughest of us (: As always thanks for reading. Don't be afraid to comment and share.
P.S. For those of you, my friends, who for some reason missed my last video here it is. Enjoy.