Saturday, April 15, 2017

Seeing the Forest through the Trees - By RJ Hicks

The field of fitness has improved tremendously over the last 100 years; however, people are still confused. Evolution in fitness has led to better gyms, equipment, and nutritional information as well as a number of variations in training methodology. Yet, the amount of conflicting information on training is overwhelming in today’s fitness. Coaches are using the words “strength” and “strongman” as popular labels to attach to almost any type of training. These labels confuse beginners by mixing the idea of becoming STRONGER by doing almost any form of fitness, to building a strong powerful body many old time strongmen possessed. Progressive weight training is by far the best method for building strength. Many of these other training method groups are productive and have their place in the field, but if you use them in place of progressive weight training you will never reach your potential.

Bodyweight training only enthusiast

Many bodyweight only trainees attach words such as real strength or functional strength to their training, when in reality words such as fitness or exercise should take their place. Yes, bodyweight exercises will make you STRONGER, but do not pretend it is BETTER than heavy progressive resistance training for building strength. Old time strongmen, such as George Jowett, knew training with apparatuses that employed progressive resistance were far superior to bodyweight exercises for building strength. Some people believe that bodyweight exercises provide you functional strength since many of our military and police train in this manner. However, the truth is bodyweight training is free, easier to do in large groups, and can be done almost anywhere. While bodyweight training only allows for an increase in reps or an increase in instability, progressive resistance training offers weight to increase proportionate to individuals’ increases in strength. Bob Hoffman recognized this downfall stating, "bodyweight training often employs too little resistance for light weight trainers and too much for the heavier". With that said, bodyweight training is a great form of exercise and can even be made progressive with movements such as chin ups and dips, provided a weight belt is used. Take heed of the deceivers who want to convince you to replace, rather than include bodyweight training into your weight training program.

Effort only crowd

Some of the effort only crowd focus so much on intensity and training to failure, that they forget about poundage progression. Effort is a key factor in muscle stimulation, lifting to where the last few reps are challenging (regardless if it's true failure or not) works. Without a goal (any reasonable rep and set scheme works) with which you work towards as a means of poundage progression progress, training to failure with the same light loads is no better than bodyweight only training. It is similar to the story of the man trying to dig a hole with his hands and refusing to use a shovel, sure it’s hard work but it’s not efficient work. The truth is, training to failure WITH poundage progression is ONE very productive and time efficient way to train for MOST clients. You can get the same great results from using one or two sets instead of 5. However, training to failure alone is not the optimal method for a lifter who competes in one of the strength sports nor is it the best for trainees who are not willing to work hard enough in each training session. HIT promotes full body workouts, the importance of recovery, proper technique and effort, but the truth is without poundage progression all of the above does little to build great strength.

Kettlebell only trainers

Kettlebell training has become very popular in today's fitness industry. Buzz words such as strongman, functional strength and other propaganda promoting some of these kettlebell clubs has brought a ton of confusion to strength training. Men like Sig Klein and Hackenschmidt validate the effectiveness of kettlebells to build tremendous strength. When in reality these men included heavy kettlebells into their full body barbell training on occasion. Kettlebell training can be great depending on your GOAL. For a full body, fast pace workout kettlebells are great, for getting big and strong they are not as effective as sometimes advertised. Do not let kettlebell trainers fool you into thinking swinging light kettlebells is the new athletic strength training program. As a new trainee, lifting light kettlebells will get you STRONGER, but this is not as efficient as heavy progressive weight training. The truth is most kettlebell training is focused towards building muscular endurance and conditioning, creating a variety in training to meet trainees’ interest, and providing a very minimalist way to train the whole body. Kettlebell training can be a productive training tool for developing strength and some old-time strongmen INCLUDED them. However, if you are replacing full body progressive weight training with only kettlebell training, instead of just including them, you will never reach your physical development goals.

Odd object training only crowd

There are some who resort solely to the lifting of odd objects. These trainees claim they are developing farm boy strength as if it is a separate type of strength derived from use of barbells, dumbbells and machines. They attempt to deceive you that they are stronger when in fact some of them lift odd objects full time to camouflage the amount of weight they can lift. Do not pretend that flipping a 300 pound tire is building more strength than deadlifting a 300 pound bar. Many strongmen in the past PERFORM feats of strength using odd objects, but this is in ADDITION to their full body heavy progressive resistance training. The truth is odd object lifting does not truly develop the entire body and can leave trainees with many muscle imbalances. Odd objects make it difficult to track progression and make certain lifts more difficult, due to the balance and leverage involved. However, odd object training will build strength, utilize a large number of muscles, add variety, and a physical challenge. These types of lifts should be implemented in hardcore trainees’ routines after the full body lifting is complete or as Bob Whelan says "as a finisher or dessert".

Grip only trainees

Similar to odd object training there are some who resort solely to grip training and label themselves strongmen and functional trainees. If a muscle is contracting and relaxing it is functioning, therefore all forms of exercises can be considered functional exercises. A strong grip is very important, however so are the rest of the muscles in your body. These grip enthusiasts spend more time collecting grip apparatuses and competing to close grippers then they ever do talking about strength training. They want you to believe they are strongmen because of their forearm and hand development. It is great to have a strong grip and compete in grip competitions, but only if you train the rest of your body. Do not be fooled to think that they are a strongman with just phenomenal grip strength but a weak body. Real old time strongmen had great strength in their grip but also throughout the rest of their body too! The truth is grip training is often overlooked by most trainees and is a limiting factor in many pulling exercises; therefore, it should be INCLUDED in every full body program.

Performing strongmen who don't lift

Strongmen can be broken into two different categories, "competitive strongmen" that lift heavy things and "performing strongmen" who do feats, stunts, and acts etc. Competitive strongmen are without a doubt strong and lift terrific poundage, competing to lift more than they could before. I also admire some of the performing strongmen. The ones who do their performing in addition to heavy weight training. But some of the performing strongmen don’t hold up to the name and have replaced their heavy weight training with the acts alone. I admire those who lift heavy weights and tear cards, but there are many performing strongmen who never even think about lifting heavy weights. Do not let the label strongman confuse you into thinking that breaking chains, bending and blowing up hot water bottles are the same as heavy progressive weight training. Weights are not going to lie to you, there are no tricks to it. You're either getting stronger or you’re not. We owe it to the great strongmen who performed in circuses and carnivals before weight training became popular, to keep that strong powerful image untarnished.

The pursuit of building strength today has become a self-promoting egotistical open forum, filled with deceit and lots of confusion. It is important to look past the misleading wording, egos and hidden agendas to observe the big picture. A lot of people with big egos are diversions to the core of getting stronger. They don’t keep on fighting and pushing the iron, instead they get frustrated and surrender to progressive weight training, switching to an entirely different easier activity. The bottom line for building strength is heavy progressive resistance for the entire body, while allowing enough rest in between sessions and proper nutrition. It is the same way Alan Calvert, Hackenschmidt, and many of the old-time strongmen trained, and although we have evolved greatly in today’s fitness, weight training still boils down to these principles.


Editors Note: Awesome job on this RJ! This is one of the BEST articles I have read in a long, long time!   My buddy Jeff T-Rex Bankens is a great example of a performing strongman who does it right. Jeff, (unlike some others), lifts heavy weights and the core of his training routine is the basic barbell exercises. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Gym vs. Home Training - Jim Duggan

The age-old debate of whether it is better to train at home or in a commercial gym has been around for as long as there have been gyms, health clubs spas. Just about everybody who has wrapped their hands around a barbell has grappled with this question. Most of us are introduced to weight-training in the same fashion: Get a set of weights and find a place where you can train. For most people, it's a basement or a garage. For me, it was an enclosed porch in the house where I grew up. For most beginners, all that is needed is a set of weights, a desire to get bigger and stronger, and a sensible workout program. However, at some point, there will come a time when additional equipment is needed. More weights, and additional benches and/or machines will become necessary. The confines of space- not to mention the cost- will inevitably lead to that important decision: "Should I join a gym?"

For most people, the decision is simple. Limited training space at home, plus the fact that there are numerous commercial gyms available, make it a no-brainer. Since most gyms offer a wide variety of equipment, flexible membership options, and other amenities, joining a gym is an easy, economical decision. But is it always better to train at a gym as opposed to training at home? Does training at home produce the same results that can be obtained at a commercial gym? There are various reasons for training at home. Sometimes the hours of operation at a gym aren't compatible with a trainee's work/school schedule. Training at home allows you to train whenever you wish. Additionally, you'll save considerable time travelling back and forth. Basically, you can make your own hours and be your own boss.

There are several drawbacks to training at a professional gym. You are at the mercy of the gym when it comes down to the choice of equipment available. If a gym has lousy equipment, then you're pretty much stuck with having to train with inferior training products. There is also the issue of a crowded place where you might have to wait to use a particular piece of equipment. Certain days, at certain hours, you may have numerous people lined up to use a specific machine. Nobody likes to wait, especially if you are pressed for time. You are wasting valuable time if there is an excessive wait between exercises. How many times have you gone to the gym on a Monday night, and all the benches are being used? ( I don't know why, but it seems like EVERYBODY does bench presses on Monday nights.)

Another uncomfortable fact is that most commercial gyms do not really cater to people who really want to train hard and heavy. Many "health clubs" do not offer a dedicated area for heavy Deadlifts or Olympic lifting. There certainly aren't any lifting platforms where you can do heavy Deadlifts under contest conditions. And chalk is almost always anathema in just about every place that calls itself a gym. In fact, one of the easiest and quickest ways to determine if a gym is dedicated to serious strength-training is to ask the owner/manager if the use of chalk is allowed. Another good question would be to ask it the gym is equipped with a power rack. If they give look at you as if you have two heads, then you can reasonably expect the gym to be lacking in serious lifters.

Another inconvenient fact about training in a commercial gym is something that has been written about by numerous people, myself included. Quite simply, the atmosphere of most health clubs one that has been widely ridiculed. Those of us who have trained in commercial gyms know all too well that there are more then enough yo-yos populating commercial gyms throughout the land. Pumpers, toners, posers, screamers, and blowhards are just about everywhere. Then there are the ones who have to have headphones blaring at a level that surely must cause serious damage to their ears, not to mention their brains. I'll be charitable and not mention the people who take up space on a bench endlessly texting between sets. It takes a lot of focus to block these people out, especially the screamers, but you must try to ignore them if you wish to make progress.

The bottom line is to ask yourself: Can you make meaningful gains training at home? The answer is YES. It's up to the trainee to select a program for his/her benefit, and, more importantly, you must dedicate yourself to following that program. You must strive for poundage progression, along with allowing yourself sufficient rest and adequate nutrition. You can have access to the best equipment in the world, but if you don't put forth the effort you will never gain. Likewise, you can be stuck with primitive training conditions, but if you work hard, and consistently, you will become bigger and stronger.

If you prefer the privacy of a home gym, then you should equip your garage or basement and train hard and heavy on the basics. If I had a basement or garage, there are several pieces of equipment that I think are crucial for anybody who trains. The first- and most important- consideration for any gym is the barbell itself. To me, it starts and ends with the bar. Get yourself a quality bar. If you will be training the powerlifts, then get a good power bar. This is the one item where you should not spare any expense. Sure, a quality bar will cost you more, but isn't it worth it? A good bar will give you years of use. In lifting, as in life, you get what you pay for.

My second choice of equipment would be a heavy-duty power rack. With a sturdy rack, you can so Squats, Presses, and various pulls. More importantly, you can do these movements safely. If you acquire a bench ( either flat or adjustable) you can now do various Bench Presses inside the rack. Again, you can train safely without spotters. If you do not have a power rack, do NOT, under any circumstances, attempt to Bench Press without a spotter. Heavy-duty loadable dumbbell bars and a Neck Harness would round out my top five gym necessities. With these five items, you would be able to build great strength and muscular size throughout your entire body.

When it comes down to it, it is really up to the individual. If you prefer the gym atmosphere and find you can make better progress there, then train in a commercial gym. If you prefer the privacy of a home gym, then train at home. It's an individual decision you must make for yourself. Just remember, you'll get from it only what you put in.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Strength Training Principles - By David Sedunary

How to get the most out of your workouts

Muscular Strength is one of the most important factors to a Footballer. 

· It is my feeling that strength training has had the greatest effect on the improvement of athletic performance, more than any other variable.

Why?

1. It provides the power behind every movement.
2. Because of the role it plays in protecting the Footballer from injury.

· Stronger muscles enable a Footballer to hand ball and kick farther, hit the ball harder, tackle harder and not get knocked off the ball so easily. 
· It builds self confidence 
· Stronger muscles also provide increased joint stability- whether it is ankle, knee, shoulder, hip, neck, elbow or wrist. 
· Many Athlete/ Footballers have strength training programs of some form or fashion. The results that are gained through from the vast amount of training time and effort fall far short of what they should be. 
· Most Footballers lightly scratch the surface of their potential

The problems seem to stem from:

1. Faulty training techniques, which limit results and contribute to injuries, and

2. Lack of understanding built on long list of myths and superstitions, such as what is the right way to build strength? How often should I train? Which methods should you use? What exercises are best?

How can one distinguish between Fact and Folly?

This presentation was put together to answer these questions and provide Football players with some basic guidelines to use in establishing sound strength training knowledge and programs.

I will present 6 basic strength training principles

Principle 1.

Strength training must be progressive: you should constantly attempt to increase the resistance or repetitions in every workout.

(Force your body to use its reserve ability; it forces muscle to get stronger).

Sub principle 1.1 – In general best results will occur when repetitions are kept in the 8 to 12 range.

If you perform less than 6 reps, of an exercise, little in roads are made into your reserve ability.

Sub principle 1.2 when you can perform 8-10 reps in good form increase the resistance by 5%, in that exercise at the next workout.

Sub principle 1.3 Never terminate a set simply because a certain number of reps have been completed.

Sub principle 1.4 –Training should be done to build strength, not to demonstrate it; therefore how much you can lift for one rep should be avoided. (Don’t throw a weight or jerk a weight it will damage connective tissue)

THE CORNERSTONE OF STRENGTH TRAINING IS PROGRESSION, OR CONSTANTLY TRYING TO INCREASE THE WORKLOAD AT EACH TRAINING SESSION.

Principle 2.

The building of strength is related to the intensity of exercise; the higher the intensity, the better the muscles are stimulated.

Sub principle 2.1- The set that is terminated prior to the point of failure, will not involve the maximum number of muscle fibres.

Sub principle 2.2- If one decreases the intensity of effort, a reduction in results will occur.

Example of working hard or hard training- is the last 2 reps of an exercise are very hard to perform in good style.

HIGH INTENSITY OF MUSCULAR CONTRACTION IS THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR IN EXERCISE PERFORMED FOR THE PURPOSE OF INCREASING MUSCULAR STRENGTH.

THAT IS WHY your workouts are supervised. 

Principle 3.

Each repetition should be performed with special attention given to a slow speed of movement, a great range of movement, and pre stretching of the involved muscles.

Sub principle 3.1- The speed of movement must not be too fast, or too slow. Reps performed in a slow smooth manner, apply steady force throughout the entire movement. (2 to 3 seconds up)

Sub principle 3.2- Special attention should be given to the lowering portion (eccentric contraction) of all exercises.

(4 to 6 seconds down)

Sub principle 3.3- Jerky movements should be avoided at all costs.

3 to 4 times the actual; weight is directed on the muscles and joints if we jerk or throw a weight.

Sub principle 3.4- The range of movement from full extension to full flexion of each rep should be as great as possible.

LIFTING A WEIGHT IS NOT ENOUGH, REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT OF WEIGHT. HOW YOU LIFT A WEIGHT IS A FACTOR OF GREATER IMPORTANCE.

REMEMBER: TAKE APPROXIMATELY 2 SECONDS TO RAISE A WEIGHT AND 4 SECONDS TO LOWER A WEIGHT. I PREFER TO REST THE WEIGHT FOR 2 SECONDS AT THE BOTTOM, BEFORE RAISING AND 2 SECONDS AT THE TOP BEFORE LOWERING. THIS CREATES GOOD FORM , AND FAR LESSENS THE CHANCE OF INJURY.

Principle 4.

Exercise should be selected that involve the greatest range of movement of the major muscle groups.

Sub principle 4.1- The greater mass of muscle involved the greater the value of the exercise. For example the Squat, Dead lift, Chin up, Dip, Press, Bench press, Lat Pull downs. (Compound exercises, which involve rotation of two or more joints, the standing press involve movement around the elbow and shoulder joint).

The following exercises, grouped by muscle group and equipment, are applicable to most strength training programs, such as the program the West Football Club are using.

Buttocks/lower back ---- Squat /Trap Bar Dead lift, Leg Press, Hyper extension

Quadriceps-------------- Squat, Leg press, Leg Extension.

Hamstrings ------------Squat, Leg press, Leg Curl.

Calves-------------------Calve Raises, Leg Press

Latissimus dorsi----------Chin up, Pull down on lat machine, rowing

Deltoids --------------------Press, forward raise, side raise.

Pectorals -------------------Bench Press, Parallel dips,

Biceps--------------------- Curl, chin up.

Forearms ----------------Wrist curl, wrist roller

Abs--------------------------Sit up, side bend, leg raise.

Neck--------------------- Neck harness, tension using ball.

Principle 5.

Increases in strength are best produced by very brief and infrequent training.

Sub principle 5.1 -- High intensity training must be very brief. It is impossible to have both high intensity exercise and a large amount of exercise. Many Footballers / Athletes make the mistake of performing far too many exercises, to many sets, to many workouts in a given period of time. (Total recovery between workouts becomes impossible)

Sub principle 5.2---- Seldom perform more than 1 set of any exercise in the same training session.

Sub principle 5.3----- A well supervised, (as we do) properly conducted, strength training session should not exceed 30 minutes.

WFC program 1# of B Press, Dips, Chins, Lat Pull downs, Squats,

C raises, Abs and neck 8 exercises performed to the limit, of one all out set per exercise will take no longer than 30 minutes, and covers the whole body.

Sub principle 5.4 -----There should be at least 48 hours rest between high intensity workouts, sometimes longer. Strength training breaks the muscle tissue down and you need give it time to replenish and grow. Do not exhaust the nervous system by training to hard and to long. Less is always best.

Sub principle 5.5 -----An advanced trainee does not need more exercise than a beginner; he needs harder exercise and in most cases less exercise.

DURING THE OFF SEASON TRAIN TWICE AWEEK, DURING THE SEASON A PLAYER/ATHLETE NEEDS ONE HARD SESSION A WEEK OR TWICE ONE WEEK AND ONE THE NEXT WEEK, TO KEEP AND INCREASE THE STRENGTH GAINED DURING THE OFF SEASON.

Strength training : advantages for football

1. Increases all round physical toughness and hardihood.

2. Supreme health and confidence builder.

3. Correct training improves flexibility.

4. Strengthens joints and connective tissue.

5. Improves speed (muscle can contract quicker).

6. Improves balance and c o ordination.

7. Improves performance on the field.

8. Reduces and protects against injury.

9. To intimidate a strong, strength trained Footballer, who has reached his potential in strength, is not a good move.

Boxing training : Advantages for Football

1. Builds confidence for physical; contact

2. Teaches quick decision making

3. Excellent conditioner

4. Like strength training is a great health builder.

Strength and Boxing training is conducted at the Club Gym .

· Monday, Wednesday and Friday 5pm till 7pm

· Strength workouts take 30 minutes, boxing 15 minutes Total workout time 45 minutes to an hour.

“If you keep doing what you have always done”

“You will always get what you always had”

Any Questions?

Does modern bodybuilding make you sick? You should write for Natural Strength! I always need good articles about drug-free weight training. It only has to be at least a page and nothing fancy. Just write it strong and truthful with passion! Send your articles directly to me: bobwhelan@naturalstrength.com
BODY • MIND • SPIRIT

Bob Whelan

Bob Whelan

This site does not provide medical advice. We assume no liability for the information provided in NaturalStrength articles. Please consult your physician before beginning any exercise or nutrition program. Copyright © 1999-2017 NaturalStrength.com | All Rights Reserved.