Friday, February 22, 2008

Variatons on Classic Rope Climbing

A highly underrated way of improving your upper body strength. No curls needed HERE!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Incremental Progression?

What is the basic law we are all taught with increasing strength levels? PROGRESSIVE OVERLOAD!! We must make the exercise more difficult in order to keep making progress. Our bodies are highly adaptive, this is why we are able to get bigger, stronger, faster, more mobile, etc. However, modern bodybuilding has made us lose our creativity in what the term progressive overload actually means.

I remember having a coach show me how he loaded our Ultimate Sandbags. He had five pound bricks made up that were inserted and stuffed into the bag. I asked him why five pound bricks (of course this was a loaded question). He gave me a look of confusion, why had he made five pound bricks? The easy answer is that we are all familiar with five pound increments of loading. Most dumbbells will go up by five pounds, most cable systems go up by five pounds, etc. Therefore, it seemed very logical for the coach to have five pound bricks in his sandbag.

What this coach missed out on are several key factors:

  1. By overconcerning himself with by trying to replicate the five pounds he compromised the training effectiveness of the sandbags. He made the sandbags stiff and rigged which decreases one of the main training benefits of sandbags.
  2. Sandbags can be made more difficult by changing the placement of the bag. In the example of squatting we can begin the bags in the zercher position, move it to the bear hug, then to shoulder, finally overhead. All of this can be done without changing the load of the bag.
  3. Five pounds in sandbag training is harder to standardize. Ideally a sandbag will have great movement and pliability. Therefore, it may be not necessary to add more weight. Those that have tried lifting the same weight in our large bags versus our mediums can vouch for this. Mainly because the large bag will offer more movement because of the size of this bag. Not having the big as easy to maneuver is much more difficult.
  4. Stop thinking like traditional lifting! In bodyweight training often a change of leverage is made to increase the level of difficulty of the drill. However, it is impossible to quantify what type of load change this created.
Instead of getting consumed by how much your bag weighs think about the goal of your training program and how you can become more athletic and stronger by taking on the challenge of a new variation of your classic drills. Don't know what I mean? Try incorporating overhead lunges today!!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Friday, February 1, 2008

Athletic Training Can't Add Size!!

There seems to be some confusion in the fitness training industry. More and more people are falling into different "camps". Some love bodybuilding and believe it is the only way to get that size many guys often seek. Then there is the "functional" crowd that wants to feel more mobile and better from injuries. They think the only way to become more injury resistent is to exercises on unstable surfaces. Then there is the "old school" crowd that loves the challenge of classic strength exercises. This group likes to be athletic and strong.

However, interestingly enough it seems that people find a constant divide between performance, size, athleticism, and health. This was not always the case. Many old time strongman would perform gymnastics, wrestling, bodybuilding, Olympic lifting, and much more. These were men that possessed great size and strength, and the best part is they did it all naturally.

I bring this up for two reasons. The first is I have a real hard time with the idea that not everyone wants to be strong and more athletic. Some people believe just losing a few pounds is good. NO! Our right and need is to be strong, powerful, agile, flexible, and athletic. This does not come easy, but the rewards are immense! As I have mentioned in my newsletter, the problem is not that we become "old" rather our expectations and dedication decreases far greater. We don't ask for as much of ourselves and don't place our health and the forefront of our lives.

In addition, there is a UFC fight coming up that has great interest to many. Brock Lesner (formerly of WWE) is going to be making his UFC debut. It is no secret that WWE wrestling is entertainment, but many mistake this point with the fact that these guys are athletes! In fact, they are some very impressive athletes in their athleticism and power.

Check out this YouTube video about two of the WWE's former great stars. See how their bodyfat levels, strength, power, and agility is due to the fact they still train like athletes. I don't want to hear that implementing athletic training and old time strongman techniques aren't going capable of making you big and strong. That is simply not true. Until you have tried these methods you don't know what you are truly capable of. I hope Frank Mir has just as good preparation.

Notice that these two guys add all the elements to true athletic conditioning. You too can do the same by just adding a few components to every workout. What makes one big is the program, not just the exercises. I want you to ask more of yourself as you approach your next workout and try a new drill that you have been hesitant to implement. Remember, training should be fun and challenging, not just another chore!