Category Archives: Strength
I am famous for having biting into new things and being almost obsessed with learning all the nuances of my new found interest. During the winter month’s I solely focused on my own version of yoga – utilizing traditional movements along with some of my own twists (no pun intended) to create a well-rounded exercise program that allowed me to develop my strength, cardiovascular system and flexibility. I focused on new challenges and had fun in the process. And let’s face it, when you break it down to the raw elements, that’s what’s needed to get healthy and fit. Since mid-March I went back to “lifting weights”, using specific exercises and equipment here at Fit By Fred. The protocol I used was one that emphasized the eccentric (the lowering of the resistance) for a small handful of exercises. I specialized on these movements with an strong emphasis on progression. Now after 8 or so weeks and marked improvement in my strength, I find myself ramping up my cycling and although I know my last 8 week training has improved my strength, I can tell that I either have to reduce my training frequency to once per week to allow for greater recovery or I need to drop this protocol for a while and go back to my old-school style of training to allow for greater recovery so I don’t overtrain, become ill, injured or hamper my cycling performance.
As my usual nature, I generally let how I feel dictate what I do but now since I will be including frequent biking days and miles into my fitness I will need to be a bit more attentive to my schedule. I will consider weather, energy, of course the clients I coach, family and personal obligations. Based on these criteria I will decide if I will train once for the week – using the negative emphasized program or do something similar to what I did today which was:
Hindu Pushups 1×25
Standing Barbell Curl with 5ft thin bar 1×20
Dumbbell Lateral Raise 1×20
Suitcase Deadlift with 5ft thin bar 1×15/per side
Abdominal Crunch 1×50
Mace Swings 3 sets of 360′s
Long time client, Darryl, went through a very intense and deliberate workout involving 8 exercises. We timed Darryl’s workout and it lasted just under 15 minutes. At the end of his workout, Darryl was significantly trained. His respiration was elevated from the beginning and never returned to normal until a couple minutes after the session expired. Darryl’s full-body workout (Jeff Holt inspired) covered all the muscle groups as we will see. Here was his workout.
Hammer Strength Leg Press 1×15
Hammer Strength Deadlift 1×10
2 minute rest
Hammer Strength Seated Iso Row 1×8
Pendulum Incline Press 1×12
Hammer Strength Shrug 1×12
Pendulum Shoulder Press 1×10
Nautilus Bicep Curl 1×8
The first 3 exercises were performed with very little rest. Darryl worked as hard as he could on each movement with the numbers listed as goal figures (which he achieved). Since I don’t have a leg extension (and there are very few worthy one’s out there) I had Darryl use the Nautilus LP with cable attachment to really emphasize the quads (click on hyper link to watch vide0). With the hips, thighs, low back thoroughly worked we emphasized his upper back and trap area, throwing in a couple pressing movements and a curl to round out his program. On another training day we will emphasize other areas of his body yet still stimulate the entire body and respiratory system.
When you’re short on time, try this workout and see how it goes….
So, you only have a few minutes and you want (or need) to grab a workout. Well, have no fear – all you need is a chinning bar or something sturdy you can grab hold of overhead for this workout and perform the following:
Perform some body weight squats for one minute to get some blood flowing.
Rest 60 seconds
Next, perform as many chin-ups as you can. If you can’t get many, that’s ok, just jump up and hold your chin over the bar. Now, slowly lower yourself down (approx 8-10 seconds) until your arms are almost completely straight. Jump up again, hold and lower slowly. Your goal is to get 1 minute.
Rest 60 seconds
Do a static hold with 90 degree elbow bend. Your goal is to maintain this position for one minute. If you can’t, that’s fine but keep holding on as long as you can until that minute is up.
That’s it, 5 minutes of your time with a helluva workout for your back, chest, delts, biceps, grip and abs
Next workout – Squats!
“I never teach my pupils. I only attempt to provide the conditions in which they can learn.” - Albert Einstein
Here’s a little challenge I’d like to throw out there for everyone. I don’t care if you are sedentary, a gym-goer already or an elite athlete, I’d like to see what happens over the next month starting on Thanksgiving day.
This plan is so simple but will yield great results if done religiously and progressively. The workout is a daily, yes daily inclusion of bodyweight squats, crunches and push-up or modified push-up. You will add repetitions or time to each movement every day. These exercises can be done as a stand-alone workout or you can include them in your regular workout, it’s your call, just make sure to do them daily and add repetitions as instructed.
First, the bodyweight squat. A long time favorite of mine. This video shows great form and execution. Beginners (sedentary) should start with 5, intermediates with 10 and advanced with 15. Each day the beginners will add 1, the intermediates 3 and the advanced will add 5.
Crunches are next. Again, beginners start at 5, intermediates 7 and advanced 10. Beginners add 1 every other day, inter’s add 2 every other day and advanced add 3 every other day. Example day 1 and 2 for beginners would be 5 reps, days 3 and 4 are 6 reps, etc.
Push-Ups will take care of the upper body muscles and can be done regular or modified. Beginners will do 2, inters will do 3 and advanced will do 5. Again, there will be an every-other-day increase in reps per the crunch example.
The goal here is firstly, to have a goal of doing this daily. The second is to work on progression by increasing your numbers slowly. Also remembering form takes center stage so don’t force progress if form will suffer. This will also help you deal with the additional stress the holiday season brings and this will also help you deal with those added holiday calories consumed at parties and events. This is a short-term plan so don’t over think it, just try it and report back your results if you don’t mind.
Coach Tom Kelso was one of many who was part of my project a while back entitled “Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime: How We Train Now” (which can be found on Amazon). Tom has been in the field of exercise for 25 years as a coach and brings a lot of great information to the table. Below is an excerpt from his training program from “Strength and Fitness for a Lifetime”. You may also want to check Tom out on “Breaking Muscle” for some great articles and information on fitness.
Name: Tom Kelso
DOB: June 15, 1958
Current Job Description: ExercisePhysiologist, Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department
Year Started Training: Circa 1972
Website: Tom Kelso
Health Goals: I strive to stay(relatively) strong, lean and fit enough to be able to perform every-day activities.
Fitness Program Schedule: It varies due to my goofy schedule, but normally this: Monday & Thursday = upper-body strength training and Tuesday & Friday = 10-15 minute interval session (Versa Climber or Cybex Arc Trainer) + lower-body strength training.
Plan B is whatever works: 2 x total-body workouts/week, maybe toss in a 10-15 minute body-weight circuit, test out new ideas (i.e., new circuits, 10-minute very intense routines, 3 exercises for 100 reps each, alternate a :30 work/:30 rest interval with a conventional strength exercise, etc.).
I like splitting the upper/lower workouts because (1) it fits my schedule better and (2) allows me to train 4 out of the 7 days of the week. Those 3 rest days are critical. I still train very hard and thus need the time to recover and avoid over-use injury.
My Approach: Muscle confusion, baby, that’s what it’s all about! Seriously, I think variety is important, especially after training for a lot of years. I completely understand I am not 25 years old anymore, therefore I err on the side of safety and caution whenever I get the urge to do something I once was able to do (in terms of resistance, not effort). The “Muscle Confusion” hype is just that. Muscles are stupid when it comes to strength training (the neuromuscular aspect of skill training is a separate issue). They only know demand/effort. They don’t know what is kicking their ass whether it’s a dumbbell, selectorized machine, large rock or another human being. Take-home message: the “Variety” Police are not going to come out and cuff you if you repeat a workout you did 4 weeks earlier.
Exercises/Sets/Reps: I usually have about 8-10 different upper- and lower-body workouts each that I rotate for variety. Some have higher reps, some lower and some a combination of both. I use different overload protocols (i.e., breakdowns, pre-exhaustion, super sets, 30- and 50-rep sets, slow cadence, 3-Strikes & out, etc.) and a variety of barbell, dumbbell and machine exercises. That way I will not perform the same workout for at least 4 to 5 weeks, yet I still can compare my progress (or the attempt not to regress) over time. I am still to this day adamant about tracking progress/comparing exact workouts. The notion that “every workout should be different” bothers me. Yes, have variety, do a lot of things, mix it up, BUT REPEAT THE EXACT WORKOUT AT SOME POINT TO SEE WHICH DIRECTION YOU ARE GOING!
A Sample Workout Week: All Workouts are taken from my “100 of the Best Strength Workouts” Project
Monday: Upper-body strength training (any of a number of 20-30 minute workouts)
Tuesday: Versa Climber (a brutal device) or Cybex Arc Trainer for a 10-15 minute interval workout (i.e., :30 hard/:30 easy, 1:00 hard/:30 easy, :45hard/:20easy or 2:00 hard/1:00 easy). Lower-body strength training (any of a number of 15-25 minute workouts)
Wednesday: No training
Thursday: Same as Monday
Friday: Same as Tuesday
Saturday & Sunday: No training
Monday: Total body workout (20-40 minutes)
Tuesday: No training
Wednesday: 10-15 minute interval workout (as per plan A) or 10-15 minute body weight circuit (push-ups, pull-ups, body weight squats, mountain climbers, abs, burpees, etc. for a specified number of reps & rounds or specified work period/rest period)
Thursday: No training
Friday: Same as Monday
Saturday & Sunday: No training
Sample Upper Body Workouts:
UPPER BODY BREAKDOWNS: Pick 2 pushing and 2 pulling exercises. The goal here is to aim for 10-14 reps to failure for the first set, immediately reduce the resistance 25% and go for maximum repetitions and then complete a third set by reducing another 15-25% and go for maximum reps. A sample routine may look like this when done in “breakdown” fashion:
Chest Press: 10-14 reps, 6-8 reps, 4-6 reps
Plate-Loaded Row: 10-14 reps, 6-8 reps, 4-6 reps
Overhead Press: 10-14 reps, 6-8 reps, 4-6 reps
Wide Grip Pulldown: 10-14 reps, 6-8 reps, 4-6 reps
The concept of working hard, being result oriented and passionate about what you do and believing that it is the best way to do it is the commonality that we all possess regardless of our approach to training. As most of us know, CrossFit has caught on like wildfire and being a part of the organization has become a quest for many people. CrossFit publicly claims that injuries are a part of training (great way to cover up unsafe practices by admitting them ahead of time) and people – especially folks who don’t have the recovery ability, flexibility and athleticism to perform some of these movements are wearing their injuries like a badge of honor. Utterly ridiculous. I also don’t feel it is necessary to bury yourself in a workout to make it worth while and productive, but hey, these people do get results. They get stronger, leaner and in great condition, assuming they can cut the muster and make it through. CrossFit kind of reminds me of the military going into battle “we can sacrifice a few men for the greater glory” and that they have. Here is an article which I hope works via the link about someone factually speaking about CrossFit and the concerns.