lifting

Drop Sets For Strength: How I’m Programing Now [Free Template]

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As I went over in my previous post, I have been using drop sets for strength gain. Drop sets are when you build up to a max effort of 2-10 reps, then drop to 90% of that weight and that will be your working weight. These are excellent for strength gains, at least when they’re programed correctly… Programing is just like cooking, it takes preparation and forethought to what the ultimate goal is and I have found an excellent resource in Quick Paleo Meal Prep for this area of my life. The book goes over the specific needs of individuals and how to structure your diet accordingly, I helped co-author this book so I fully support it’s contents. As for drop sets, I’ve learned that the programing for these requires a bit more thought than “JUST DO IT!” so let’s look into the smart way to get you as strong as possible using drop sets.

 

WHAT WORKS FOR OTHERS

 

Westside Barbell is a group that I’ve been following for about 2 years now, and aside from producing the strongest powerlifters on the face of the earth, the owner Louie Simmons is a wealth of knowledge about all things liftng. If you have studied Westside’s training at all you know the term “conjugate“, which basically means you’re not lifting exclusively heavy for the sake of lifting heavy, instead you’re training all aspects of the art of lifting heavy. With the conjugate method that Louie teaches you will lift for a max effort on one day and for speed on another day, this is incredibly helpful when you are at a meet or competition and are going through what would be a “grinder” (very slow and painful rep). Instead of just grinding through the rep in hopes of actually completing the lift you have trained to not only lift weights, but to lift them FAST. And along with learning to lift weights fast you have given your mind and muscles a break from the damaging affects of lifting heavy every single day!

 

LESSON LEARNED

 

So after running myself into the ground for a few weeks with drop sets with a PURE STRENGTH focus I’ve gone till the wheels started coming off and brought back a little common sense. So I will keep using drop sets in my strength program, but there will be designated days for speed training or “dynamic effort days” as Louie calls them to focus on lifting fast and efficient, along with allowing my body to rest the needed amount to continue on the gains train! I will still build up to a heavy double or triple on speed days, but instead of taking it down only 10% I’m going to bring it down 40-50% so that the weight is light enough to move at the right speed but heavy enough to be an actual stimulus. I think this will be a great switch and I recomend it for anyone who’s looking to get strong, and linear programing just isn’t working anymore.

 

MY TRAINING SPLIT NOW [FREE TEMPLATE]

(Drop Sets will be used every day to figure out the weight for the lifts, and the reps and lifts will vary depending on how you’re feeling that day and what weaknesses you need to work on. This is just a general outline, learn what you need and program that in to win!)

WEEK 1

Monday- Squats DYNAMIC

Tuesday- Press HEAVY

Wednesday- REST

Thursday- Deadlift HEAVY

Friday- Bench DYNAMIC

 

WEEK 2

Monday- Squat HEAVY

Tuesday- Press DYNAMIC

Wednesday- REST

Thursday- Deadlift DYNAMIC

Friday- Bench HEAVY

 

I don’t focus just on heavy lifting in all of my sessions, this is usually just what the first 20 mins looks like. After the strength work with drop sets I will use a crossfit/bodybuilding hybrid style of training to work on weak points and improve muscular endurance. But again you need to design your program for follow one that fits your needs.

YOUR CHALLENGE

If your focus is on strength right now, which it should always be if you’re looking to increase your lifting career, then take a few months to follow this outline. Check out Westside Barbell for ideas on how to use different lifts to fix your weaknesses and get stronger in all areas (not just the bench…). Strength is the key to everything!

 

Drop Sets For Strength: Lesson Learned [Sample Week Template]

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Have you ever started a new strength program because you looked at it ahead of time and it was mostly just a max effort everyday that promised to get your lifts up 400% in a month? Yea well this was pretty much my experience with drop sets. I wasn’t thinking ahead at all on this one, kind of like not preparing your food before the week starts and you fly off the rails with your diet, but that’s much easier to remedy with resources like Quick Paleo Meal Prep. That short book will outline every necesary aspect of your diet whether your a strength training athlete or a desk jockey 90% of the day, and I trust it completely. But that story is for a later time, let’s talk about why not to be stupid when programming for yourself.

 

LEARN FROM MY EXAMPLE PLEASE

 

This is how I got started on this journey to the level of wrecked that I am right now. I was listening to a Barbell Shrugged Podcast; however, before I go any further you need to know I support these guys completely and it was my own ignorance that did me in, so I was listening to the podcast on how to get stronger and the lessons they’ve learned from an average of 15 years lifting. This was mistake number one when I look back, I was one fifth of their training age and I was not even close to being on par with their numbers in olympic or power lifts so the arrogance with which I listened like I was on their level is astounding. They talked about how they all loved the concept of drop sets, drop sets are when you build up to a 2-10 rep max in a given lift and then drop to 90% of that max and you work with that weight. This is incredibly smart because instead of following numbers you plugged into a spread sheet at the beginning of the month when you were at your peak, you’re working on what your max is THAT DAY and not pushing yourself at the same intensity month after month, which would be unsustainable. But I soon found it’s just as unsustainable to train for PURE STRENGTH EVERY SINGLE DAY. By the second week of my training the wheels were coming off FAST, I was out of energy at the end of the weeks and would not want to live life on the weekends outside of bed. Clearly I was pushing the boundaries of what should be done and should have realized myself for what I was at that point, which is a NOVICE at best when it comes to lifting. I’ve been lifting for around 7 years but that’s nothing compared to the guys I was aspiring to be, so no wonder I was running myself into the ground like a mad man!

 

Training split went something like this:

Monday- Squat, build to 1-5 RM (rep max) then worked at 90% of that broken into a few sets to total 20 reps (this was the same for the rest of the days)

Tuesday- Overhead Press

Wednesday- Rest (ish)

Thursday- Deadlift

Friday- Bench

Saturday- Long and slow cardio, running, biking or hiking with a weighted pack

Sunday- Rest

 

I’ll post the revised training tomorrow and what I have adapted to ensure longevity with progress that won’t wreck me.

 

YOUR CHALLENGE

Analyze what you’re doing now in your training for your specific goals, if you feel great and are making progress then continue on! If you usually get 2-3 weeks into a program and need to take a week to a month off then it’s time to come up with something that won’t kill you slowly!

 

RESOURCES: Elliott Hulse, Johnny Candito, Mark Bell, Jim Wendler

Carbing up before working out

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if you walk into the gym feeling like a beat pile of dog poo, then odds are you’re either at the end of a strenuous training cycle or you’re just not getting enough carbs. If you’re consistently lifting 3-5 times per week at a moderate to high intensity, then you need to be highly concerned with the quantity and quality of carbs in your diet! This is addressed in the resource Quick Paleo Meal Prep, which outlines how and why to prepare meals ahead of time for quality control and ease. This post however is about how and when to carb up for lifting so strap in and let’s get into it! 
SIGNS YOUR CARBS ARE TOO LOW


If you get 2-3 sets in on a moderate strength load and you feel like you need to sit down and recover…you’re way too low. Also if the weights feel like they’re moving slower than expected even on a “weak day” then I would address this as well. You probably know the feeling of being fully charged in the gym and having the weights jump because of your quickness. Coincidentally this probably happened the morning after you went out for pizza and beer with the guys, and you might have even ordered a side of bread sticks to complete the mood of the carb festivities. Whereas if you decided to have a big salad with oil and vinegar dressing topped with grilled chicken, no salt and no pepper, then I wouldn’t expect to be crushing any PRs the next day. 

WHY CARBS FOR ATHLETES?


Do you want to run 4 sec 40 Yd dash and not pass out? You need carbs. Do you want to get stronger in every workout and recover? You need carbs. Do you want to look vascular as all get out for them females?? You need carbs! Carbs when broken down are the fuel for your energy systems and partial brain function. To run the 4:40 more than once you’ll need more than a whole head of broccoli the night before, seeing as how the calories required for something like that are around 300 up front calories and a metabolic “afterburn” of 700 for the rest of the day just for that one exercise. Look up in the nfl how many vegan running backs there are, and should you find any you won’t be too impressed with their stats. Carbs found in calorie dense foods like pasta, sweet potatoes and rice are the best fuel to get athletes beyond their limits, but moderation and timing are important. 

WHEN AND HOW TO CARB LOAD 


The best template I’ve found is the modified Paleo approach. You’ll maintain the typical mostly meats and veggies between workouts and down time, but the night before your heavy morning lifts or morning games you’ll need to carb up. This will take some trial and error so don’t save this strategy for an important game day, test it on other days first! How your body reacts to different qualities and quantities of carbs is different from everyone else on the planet. For example, what works best for me the night before a heavy morning squat session is a THICK peanut butter sandwich with whole wheat bread and the morning of I’ll eat a slice of plain bread on the way to the gym. That probably won’t work for you, body weight, activity level, stress and current diet all play into how this works for you so take time to customize it for YOU. If you’re working out later in the day I would get a container of high quality dextros for like $20 and a container of BCAAs, mix a two to one ratio (20 g BCAAs and 40 g dextros), but again find your sweet spot. And DONT FORGET POST WORKOUT!!!! This is by far the most important meal of your training day! I have a blog post about it that I will link here

YOUR CHALLENGE

If you’re dragging when you get a third of the way through the workout, or aren’t seeing results anymore, look at your carb intake prior to lifting. Check out the blog post for details on how and get started on your progress! 

RESOURCES Barbell Shrugged, Elliott Hulse, Chandler Marchman (mandler), Johnny Candito

Improving the deadlift: Eat your shorts to get strong

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I hope the people reading this have at least heard of Barbell Shrugged, they’re a fantastic group of guys who’ve inspired a lot of the change in my life. From lifting to business these guys have it all! They inspired me to take up the Quick Paleo Prep lifestyle, which has led to more controlled gains and steady progress through a controlled diet. But this week they touched on a subject close to my heart, which is the need for some gargantuan GLUTES!
Where’s The Power?


Look at any athletic movement out there whether it be running, jumping or lifting heavy bars you’re gonna notice that all the athletes are hinging at the hip to create the most power. And since the hip flexors are a tiny bunch of muscles and tendons compared to the GLUTES, it makes more sense to give the lovely lumps more attention. Also think about every football or baseball player you’ve seen, I can almost gauruntee there was not one flat pancake butt on the whole team! In fact most power athletes credit those lovely lumps with the ability to do what they do. 
How To Grow Those GLUTES 
What you’re trying to do when you want to get s bigger better booty is essentially gaining weight, so if you fear eating too much and loosing that pencil figure you’ve choked down so many salads to maintain then this probably isn’t for you. However if you want a nice muscullarly shaped back-side and explosive athleticism then get a pen and some paper ready. First of all these guys from barbell shrugged say it way better than I could so go watch their episode here and get ready to learn! 

The basics though are that you’ll need to learn to isolate the glutes with a wider stance in the squat and deadlift, as well as focusing on that squeeze at the top. To the point where it looks like your butt is eating your shorts. Use bodybuilding rep ranges and rest periods. Then focus on eating quality foods to gain weight (potatoes and rice) post workout, and let the gains begin! 
YOUR CHALLENGE

If you have a pancake butt then take the time to fix that stuff, it’s not a life sentence. Add some exercises into your workout regimine to build that butt, and I’m sure you’ll notice all kinds of athletic gains that come from that! Not to mention you’ll have a little more akin to furgies music 😉 

RECOURCES: Barbell Shrugged, Elliot Hulse, Chandler Marchman

Crockpots and Outsourcing 

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there has never been a party like a crockpot party! I’ve spent the past few months slaving over the stove at least twice per week to keep up my prep. So introducing the crockpot back into my life has set me free!! Not to say that meal prep outside the crockpot is bad, it tastes better without the crockpot and flavors are more controlled that way. And if you’re interested in stepping up your prep game, check out Quick Paleo Meal Prep! But this was a breath of fresh air to me 🙂
Set It And Forget it
That was the most appealing part of the crockpot in my opinion, I have so much going on that the thought of carving out an hour and a half twice per week was terrifying! So now instead of stressing about what I’m not getting done while I’m cooking, I can be working on it while my food is prepared for me! I can’t think of a more win win situation. As I was putting all the ingredients in the crockpot my mind paralleled this with outsourcing of responsibilities. We all have such busy lives, and if you’re runnin an online or physical business you need all the time you can get! So the more you can distribute the work means the more you have time to get done. It’s the same with the crockpot, I give it the orders of “I want this prepared by this time with this result”, and I come back at that time and it’s ready and I got what I needed to do done! SET IT AND FORGET IT :))
Outsourcing For The Common Man


Now you may be a stay at home mom whose running an online business or a husband whose running a multi million dollar headquarters, either way outsourcing saves. If you’re a stay at home mom then it makes sense not to waste time responding to emails about nothing or answering the same questions from different people, so why not take a miniscule pay cut and free up 5 hours to actually BE A MOM. You can look up great sites to help with getting emails taken care of, and set limits like “if it won’t cost me $50 then YOU handle it”. This is a small example but it can free you up to do the important things. The sites I’ve had the most success with are odesk.com or elance.com. On those sites you can find office assistants, writers, designers and much more that will work for $4 per hour most of the time. So the choice is yours, stay buried up to your neck, or free yourself and continue to make money!
YOUR CHALLENGE 

If you’re a stay at home parent or someone whose bogged down with 40+ emails per day, then check out odesk.com to find a helper. Give them instructions to handle your email and customers with amounts up to $??. I can assure you that you’ll love the freedom this gives and you’ll get a system started that completely frees you 🙂

 

Recources

ProjectLifeMastery.com

Odesk.com

FourHourWorkWeek.com

When You’ve Examined All The Options; You Haven’t

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Ever feel like you’ve fully prepared for a situation, like in wrestling or mma, you’ve watched countless amounts of footage on the oponent. Yet somehow despite your best efforts you wind up coming in short. The same could be said for your diet, even though it won’t gauruntee your victory, having food prepped and ready will put you in the top 20%. Which is why I recommend Quick Paleo Meal Prep as a guide to start or improve meal prepping. But again don’t depend on one thing to gauruntee victory. 
Exhausted All Options


This phrase is over used in the fitness and business community. I believe if one has truly exhausted all options then there would no longer be a problem. In our day and age of technology and information at our finger tips, it has never been easier to find the solutions to whatever problem is facing us. Whether it’s how to get stronger while cutting weight, or how to provide better services, increase client satisfaction and charge more all at the same time, with proper thought and research almost anything is possible. It’s only when you choose to close your mind to new options that the field of vision for solutions narrows. 
How To Think Different 


First things first, if you say in your head that it can’t be done and you’ve tried everything, you’ll fail every time. Instead think to yourself how can this be accomplished? A better question yields a better result. And more importantly, if you know someone for whom this problem would not be a problem at all, think about how that person would approach what you’re doing. If you don’t have the answer then you’re probably not the best person to keep asking. There has been so much accomplished and done for others that it would be arrogant to trust in your own will for the solution when it’s been done for you. Again don’t look at the wall of china as an immovable fixture. Instead if someone were to pay you and your family an unlimited amount of money for the rest of their lives if you would move the Great Wall three feet to the left, you’d find a way. However if you say to yourself “it’s impossible” then it is. 
YOUR CHALLENGE

The next time you catch yourself thinking “this is impossible” or “I can’t do it”. Ask yourself “how could this be done?” Or “how could I do this like “insert persons name”. It’s only impossible if you accept it as so. 

Habits 

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we’ve all got ’em, whether it’s the habit of doing 1,000 push-ups before you go to bed every night or watching 3 episodes of your current binge on Netflix, for better or worse they’re there. There could be good habits like prepping your food for the coming week so you don’t mess up your clean eating, this is covered in great detail in Quick Paleo Meal Prep, it’s been a great resource to stay on track with whatever fitness goals are most important. But habits are the things we use to determine whether we are productive individuals, or lazy bums. Which does your routine or habits say about you? 
WHAT DO YOU DO?

This is a simple question but can have some pretty profound impacts on outcomes that require short decision making time. For example if you’re faced with the question of being given a decent meal now or waiting to see if there’s a better option, and your habit is to rest and do nothing whenever possible, then odds are that you’ll choose the latter. Now this could be a good thing and you get better food, or you could get nothing. The main message here is that when you look at your daily habits are they productive? And by productive I don’t mean stuff “gets done” but is it getting done with purpose for a greater goal that you’re striving for? Sure Netflix will solve the entertainment void, but instead of wasting 45 minutes at a time why not have it playing in the back ground while you research how to get a business started or find a new gym or fitness plan. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and set your mind up to be productive instead of complacent. 
THE HABIT OF EARNING

We all have things we love, personally I love chicken pasta with homemade Alfredo sauce and Sons of Anarchy, these two things make me happy. However neither of these things are getting me closer to anything other than an early case of diabetes (which I ponder the risk vs. reward occasionally). Instead I suggest making habits of EARING these guilty pleasures. I don’t believe in a masichistic lifestyle that’s absent of simple pleasures for the sake of saying you did it when no one else would, and no one enjoys listening to that person anyway. So indulge in what you love, but first set up a way to EARN it first. In my example of SOA and pasta, I read 30 minutes of something to grow myself personally or however before each episode. And for the pasta I will do some form of high intensity workout from around 8-12 minutes to prepare myself for the greatness.
YOUR CHALLENGE 

What is one new habit you could start to earn your simple pleasures or be more productive. Start with one and continue, think of it as adding water to a cup of oil until all the oil (bad habits) is replaced with clear water (new helpful habits). Like always, you’re capable of more than you know!