Don’t get tricked into spending all your life doing sets of 6-10 reps if you want more muscle. Time spent boosting your strength with lower rep sets with heavier weights will help you too. A phase spent focusing on getting stronger will help you shift more weight when you return to hypertrophy training leading to beast like gains in gun girth. It’s always good to be strong.
1) admit where you are
2) decide where you want to be
3) make a plan based around progressive overload
4) get on with it
5) re assess along the way
..don’t let things get too complicated!
The thoracic spine is an area which most folk lack both strength and mobility. If you don’t consciously train to maintain range of motion in your T-Spine, it will remain in a flexed position and will thwart your athletic endeavours. Exercises like the Pendlay Row can help you build upper body strength and train thoracic extension at the same time. Learn it, do it heavy, do it often.
There is no substitute for a proper well equipped gym, but everyone should have some kit at home for when you just don’t have time to get there. A few decent resistance bands and a kettlebell or two is always worth keeping around so you can get a decent workout when time is not your friend or you’re just too lazy to get your ass out of the house.
Moving better consists of improving your flexibility, improving your strength and improving your skill. If you don’t carefully practice controlling your body, you will be less skilful. The better you move, the more punishment you can take in the gym. More on this here.
Beware of fruit juice! Fruit juice, although billed as healthy can be a disaster for your fat loss attempts. Because the fruit is already broken down (blended up), the fructose is so quickly taken into the blood stream, you might as well be injecting sugar! Not wise if you want to burn fat and get lean. Eat some fruit, yes. But drink water.
The standing military press is a classic and effective exercise for building huge shoulders and man strength. See Peter Chown pumping out reps here.
Frequency is always important. When you first get intro training you need to teach yourself proper technique. Keep your workout packed with key exercises such as squats, deadlifts, chinups and presses. Do them every time you hit the Gym. If you don’t you will constantly waste time relearning when you could be getting More-Athletic.
Sometimes you need a warm up AND practice sets. If it’s a technically demanding lift, something a little more complex than a Bicep Curl, you may need 1-3 practice sets before you dive in and try to smash your PB. The motor pattern needs practice before a maximal exertion. Diving in heavy too soon can lead to injury, sadness and limp performance. Sometimes foreplay is vital!
Forget everyone else, just make sure you’re getting stronger. A competitive environment can be useful to drive you on, but at the end of the day – you can’t control anyone but yourself. Make sure your getting stronger and more competent at your main priorities and your physique will continue to improve all the time.
Once you have the technique down for Kettlebell Swings it’s time to test yourself with one handed swings or changeovers. if you’re using your hips properly then power won’t be a problem as your arms are simply transferring the power – when you start single arm swings the free hand is used to drive the movement, see Nat Pero demonstrating here.
Using both Dumbbells and Barbells for building chest strength and size is the fastest route to glory. The Barbell will allow you to use more weight in total and feed your ego better – the dumbbells force you to work harder to control the weights, allow you to use more range of motion and can be easier on your shoulders.
Training speed has a huge impact on the training effect. When you learn to lift weights – slow and controlled is the safest way to get started. But, when your technique is bang on and you wanna be More-Athletic – it’s time to speed things up a little. Exercises such as Single Dumbbell Rips are great for bringing some speed and power into your training.
It should be illegal for anyone under the age of 99 to walk the streets if they don’t have the ability to perform at least 5 neat press ups. Yet, due to the demise of our society, it’s all too common even for fit guys to have messy pushups. You need to master the plank so you can hold good posture, then get your chest down to the ground and back up again with your whole body moving together. Don’t feel bad if you’re bad, just fix it fast.
Get your shoulder blades back, down and together! It’s of the upmost importance that you actually get your shoulder blades back, down and together, your shoulders back and your chest up during training. Variations of the horizontal row exercises are great for building strong back and bicep muscles while training proper posture at the same time. Do it.
Consider the Arnold Press if you want to build huge shoulders and serious overhead pressing strength. This is a bodybuilding exercise performed sitting down on a bench, the rotation of the dumbbells as you press overhead kicks the ass of all the shoulder muscles and is a good move to add variety to your overhead pressing.
If you spend all your time on pressing exercises and slack off on pulling, you will develop your body in an unbalanced manner. If this is you, you run the risk of shoulder impingement injuries, forward head posture and looking a tit. Absolute basic programme info everyone should know – have more horizontal row type exercises than you do bench press and pushing type exercises.
The Snatch Balance is a fairly advanced exercise that trains whole body speed, mobility, strength, balls and athleticism. Although mainly used as a teaching tool for the full Olympic Snatch, any athlete can use it as a stand alone exercise to boost their speed and power with particular emphasis on the legs arms and shoulders. Read about it here.
The reason for, and the way to train abdominal muscles, is one majorly misunderstood concept in our sedentary society. While some experts will suggest your ab muscles will take all the pounding they need through squats, deadlifts and chin ups – others suggest specialised treatment, but they don’t mean crunches! There are plenty of ways to stress your core musculature that are way more effective than lying around wrecking your spine with endless crunches. Master the TGU for starters.
Exercises you think you have mastered can be made more effective by changing them. The best program, or the best exercise is usually one you’re not doing. A great exercise can lose it’s effectiveness after you have done it a few times – keep it fresh by changing your grip or stance. For an example – try switching up your Dumbbell Row by wrapping a towel around the weight – a little like this.
Vary your grip, vary your stance for continuous strength gains.
FITNESS – being able to run 10k does not make you fit. Aerobic fitness is just one aspect of human physical fitness. If you don’t have much time to train (if you don’t make much time to train) – extended time spent running is a shoddy choice in terms of health, appearance and “fitness”. You’re better off on circuits. This conventional wisdom that you need to run to stay fit comes from a society of unfit weak and un-athletic people. Don’t be fooled by convention.
There are many variables in the science of becoming More-Athletic. Performing a mere 3 sets of 10 is only going to get you fast results in your early days of training. Variations in set and rep schemes is what takes your training from simple beginner to thoughtful stud. If you’re still doing 3 sets of 10 per exercise after 6 weeks of training, get with it – find a new system.
Proper fitness is a varied pursuit. At any point in your training life you should always have a core group of exercises you’re focusing on right now, plus your new skills that you are practicing. For example you may be working hard on Chin Ups and Squats whilst learning new skills such as Gymnastics, Olympic Lifting (Start here) or movement quality drills on the side.
We don’t hate running here at More-Athletic. Without it, travelling by foot would take a lot longer. But, we do hate running when running isn’t smart. We don’t like the miss-selling of running shoes much either. Your body evolved to run and walk long distances when necessary. How the hell did we survive all those millions of years ago without supported running shoes? More here.
Too many people don’t lunge; too many people lunge ugly. Lunges are versatile; lunges are primal and lunges are one hell of an exercise tool. When lunging, make sure you keep your torso upright, shoulder blades back down and together and keep your weight on your front leg. Once you got all that, just make sure you go deep and drive back up through your front heal.
Pain hurts! Everybody hurts, sometimes. The site you feel pain is not necessarily where you need the treatment. You need to hunt out the cause, not plaster over the symptom. Pain will make you weaker, if you’re in pain, it’s a sign something’s wrong. Work round it, get it looked at, fighting through the pain will not make you stronger.
The major priority in the gym is that you are systematically increasing the impact that your workout has on your system and your muscles. There’s no point spending an hour in the gym if you get jack all done. Make sure your using BIG BANG EXERCISES – and make sure your doing em hard. It’s not about time, it’s about IMPACT.
Being mounted against your will? Master the guard attack for fending off unwanted assailants. A combination of targeting abs, obliques and pushing strength makes the guard attack a splendid exercise for fighting your way out of the guard position.
If you have solid technique on the front squat and the kettlebell swing, there isn’t much else you are going to struggle to learn. The swing will show you have the hip hinge mastered and a strong, neat front squat shows off good body mechanics and athleticism. On the front squat focus on pushing your knees out, going deep and maintaining perfect back position throughout.
Need bigger shoulders? Focus first on the big compound Overhead Press moves such as the Arnold Press, Military Press and the Dumbbell Overhead Press, then add isolation moves as well. If your shoulders look like they are still pre adolescent, read this – and get down the gym.