Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Get Strong, Get Right

And now, time to discuss to some crazy, mythical ideas in the strength world-

I hear it all of the time.

Oh, I need to be more mobile. Oh, I need to be more flexible. Oh , I need to be lean and quick. Oh, I need to (fill in the latest fad espoused by someone who has never played or lifted).

I had a linebacker that I was helping in the weight room one time. I can see him right now in my head.  He went away for the summer weighing 230 pounds. When he returned to to school in the fall semester, he was about 210 pounds. 

I asked, whats the deal?

He said, Oh, I want to be lean and quick!  My trainer at home helped me! I said, you are gonna get crushed. He said, no, I got it , Coach. Ok, I said

He lost strength and size over the summer. His maxes plummeted.

First game of the year, a freshman running back weighing about 230 pounds came through the linebackers hole. He stepped up to make the tackle, and the running back hit the linebacker so hard that the linebackers helmet flew in the air and landed about 5 feet away.
I mean, that helmet went flying.  It would have been funny if it wasn't so damn sad. He had been sold a bill of goods by his personal trainer at home and that bill of goods almost got him killed. He may have been mobile and lean and quick, but he was weak and small.

What is the opposite of strong? Well, hell. We all know, or we all think that people know, that the answer is weak. And weakness is never good.

I will never ever understand what the hangup is about being strong. You can do all those other things that are popular and faddy and they will go away soon, just like the bosu ball and the shake weight.

Its funny how the barbell just keeps going strong. And dumbbells too. Picture the barbell withstanding the storm of all the fads, standing strong in the wind, and then comes out unscathed when the imposters are found out.

I have had people tell me that athletes only need to do body weight stuff. You mean that doing  three sets of ten body weight squats will prepare an athlete for the forces that he is going to have to fight against on the field or court?

You can not logically believe that to be true.

Maybe its the fact that in order to be strong you must be uncomfortable. Maybe that's the crux of the whole thing and nobody wants to talk about it. Hell, that's too simple. You mean people do all those little things that don't do a damn thing just to avoid the pain of doing heavy lifting with barbells and dumbbells?

I believe it.

You can go for a jog and when it gets tough , you can slow down. When you are on the 10th rep of a set of squats, there is no slowing down unless you quit (which I have seen plenty of times), its always a test of your fortitude. It seems like a no- brainer to me, that you could do 3-5 sets of squats 2x a week and get tons of benefits versus spending all the time of training with all the latest ways to get around hard work.

So forget how good an athlete will get with barbell training, how about the best way to get strong for regular folks?

Of course, its lifting weights and it all gets you ready for life much better than all the other crap

So what do you need to do to get ready for life?

 Lets say that you are 30- 40 years old, you used to play college sports and you were active for awhile but the over the years, you have lost some of the strength  and muscularity that you used to have. So how to get going?

Start slowly- don't go nuts the first day with 10 sets of squats and then you are so sore that you can't get out of bed for a week. Go light and be smart. Keep the reps low , 5 will do.  Oh hell, just do something like this-

 Warmup with 2 minutes of shadow boxing (even if you don't know how to do it. Move around, throw some punches). Then do some more warmups if you need it but don't be a warmup warrior, those that start foam rolling and take all the time in the world but really they don't have the guts to just get under the bar. You could also ask yourself, how much warmup would I need in a life or death situation? Not much! Oh, Mr. Mugger, wait a second, I have to do some stretching, roll around some, vibrate on a power plate, ...ok, now Im ready! Would that happen? Nope, you would go from zero to one hundred right away because you had to. Honestly, if you take a few minutes and mentally rehearse yourself getting ready and excited for your workout, you will start to get excited and you will begin to warm up. So if you need a little warmup, go for it, just don't make it the workout. Now, how do you set it all up?

You could set up your training with a template something like this-


Day 1
squat or variation

Day 2
Shoulder press
shoulder assistance
chest assistance

Day 3
Light squat
Deadlift or variation

Day 4
Bench press variation (dumbbell, close grip, incline) or regular bench again.
Seated or standing press with dumbbells
shoulder assistance
chest assistance

You can set up the reps any way that you want. I like cycling the big lifts (squat, press, deadlift), and changing up the rep scheme for the assistance (some days high reps, some low).

You can use linear progression for the big lifts, meaning that you can do sets of 5 and add 5-10 pounds a week until you hit a plateau, then drop the reps to sets of 3, then eventually 2, etc. Or you can use percentages of your one rep max on the big lifts. Like this in consecutive weeks or work outs depending on your recovery- 70% 5x5 75% 5x4 , 80% 5x3, 85% 5x2, 90% 5x1 , MAX

I like around 5 sets for the big lifts and 30-40 reps for the assistance stuff. So, lets say that you want to do triceps pushdowns, and you know that you have to get 30 reps done. Now you have some leeway. You can do 2x15, 1x30, 5x6, 6x5, you get the picture. I'd switch it up all of the time.

And there are 3 days left in the week to do sprints, hill runs, box/muay thai, any martial art. Just take it easy at first. Don't feel bad if you have to start off with 15 minutes of hard work. Be smart and progress at your own pace, not somebody else's idea of what your pace should be.

All About Being a Lifer

What's a Lifer? Someone who isn't in to something for just a day, a month, a year...it's for life. Whether its training or your family or your job...it doesn't matter. You work at it, you build on it, you see the big picture . You don't miss workouts because it means something to you. You are like a Shakespearean actor- no matter what is going on in your life, you block it out when it's time to train. You walk into the weight room and all else disappears. Worry about it later.