Thursday, September 23, 2021

New Remote Training Products and Prices! - By Bob Whelan

Check-out the new options and prices for remote training and consultations! Scroll to the bottom of the landing page.  CLICK HERE FOR INFO  

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Monday, September 13, 2021

A Tribute Workout - By Jim Duggan

Every year, as the Summer winds down, most people look forward to the upcoming Autumn season. The end of August usually brings the anticipation of Labor Day along with the accompanying return to school, work, and Fall weather. However, for members of the Fire Service and especially for members of the NY City Fire Dept., it can be a difficult and challenging time. The anniversary of the 9/11 attacks bring feelings of dread and sadness as we remember the nearly 3,000 Americans murdered on that tragic day, including 23 NYPD Officers, 37 PAPD Officers, and of course the 343 members of the FDNY who made the supreme sacrifice. 

Any anniversary of a significant event causes us to reflect more than usual. "Where were we when it happened?" is a question we often ask ourselves. Time marches on, as it always does. Memories fade, as they sometimes do, which, in a way is a good thing. If we had to live with the acute pain of every past historical event that ever happened, it would be a depressing existence. But as we look past the pain and sadness, we remember the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of those we lost twenty years ago.
Every year, throughout the country, there are tributes, memorials, and ceremonies to mark the anniversary and renew our promise that "We will never forget!" There are also memorial events of a physical nature- 5k runs to honor the memory of Firefighter Steven Siller who, in full firefighting gear, ran through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel that day to join his unit where he lost his life while saving others. There also memorial Stair Climbs to honor the hundreds of firefighters who ascended the stairs of both towers in an attempt to save as many trapped victims as possible. 

This year, a few days before the anniversary, I decided to honor the memory of my fellow firefighters who were lost that day, with a physical challenge. I've never been much of a runner ( if I were a car, you might say I was build for comfort, not speed), and since I no longer belong to a commercial gym, I no longer have access to a Stairmaster. I decided that a Deadlift Challenge would be the most appropriate means of honoring the 343 fallen heroes, especially considering my love for all things strength-related. I came up with a very simple, yet brutal, workout challenge: 343 Lbs. for 107 reps in one hour, using my special 2" thick-handled Trap Bar. The number "343" naturally represents the 343 FDNY members who were lost that day. The number "107" represents the company I was assigned to twenty years ago, Ladder Co. 107, in East New York, Brooklyn. I decided to complete my "workout" on Friday, September 10, since I would be at various remembrance ceremonies the following day. On the morning of the workout, I decided to weigh myself, and my bodyweight was 231 Lbs., which is significant since my current assignment is Engine Co. 231, in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Talk about coincidence. 

For the last month or so, I have been doing kettlebell deadlifts with the goal of reaching 107 reps in as short amount of time as possible. I was introduced to this type of training by my good friend and fellow strength fanatic, Steve Weiner, and I've found it to be intense, and effective. A week before, I did 107 reps with two 144 Lb. kettlebells in 36 minutes, while standing on a two-inch block. However, 343 Lbs on a thick-handled trap bar would be a different story. On Friday, September 10th, at 2PM, I began my workout. I began with several singles, to warm up, and then I did sets of five until I hit 25 reps. At that point, I switched to triples, so that I wouldn't expend too much energy on each set. I kept going at a fairly regular pace until I hit 85. It was at this time that I noticed that I had torn a callus on one of my fingers. Thank you, thick-handled trap bar! I also knew that there was NO way I was going to let that stop me. From 85 onward, I alternated between triples and doubles until I reached my goal of 107 reps. Upon completing my final rep, I checked the time and was slightly disappointed that it had taken me slightly over an hour to complete my workout. I say "slightly" because I was happy that I was able to get through what turned out to be as grueling a workout as I can remember. To say I was sore the next day would be the understatement of the year. My entire body felt as if I had been run over by a truck. At our firehouse remembrance ceremony the following day, each time I performed a hand salute was a new adventure in soreness, as my entire body was aching. But I'm glad I did it. I would like to conclude this article by remembering those we lost twenty years ago. May we never forget. May we also never forget the men and women of our armed Forces who serve and protect our great nation.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Remember the Goal of Strength Training - By RJ Hicks MS, CSCS

The goal of strength training is to train progressively with the most weight you can in perfect form. The weight must be challenging for you, depending on your specific repetition goal. When the weight is no longer heavy you add a little weight to keep the total weight challenging for you to lift. It is so simple, but misunderstood by many.

The only competition in the gym is between the lifter's past performance and their next performance. Each workout is a competition where the lifter strives to improve how much weight they are able to lift. It doesn’t matter what other lifters in the gym are doing, world records that have been achieved or what is displayed on social media. All that matters in strength training is whether or not a lifter is able to add weight to the barbell or machine they are handling over time.

However, nobody said you add weight every time you train or at all, unless you are physically able to in good form when the goal is reached. You cannot just add five pounds each workout. It is unrealistic for the body to be able to adapt to this long term. If it was possible everyone would be benching over five hundred pounds after a few years of training.

Poundage progression is based off of your individual performance not based off of time. You can only add weight when you earn it, by surpassing the training goal for each specific lift. Training with long cycles doesn’t make sense if you are a natural trainee. You cannot pre-plan when to add weight unless you are starting so light in weight that you waste most of the year training sub maximally. Drug users can pre-plan poundage progress, because the training cycles work in conjunction with the amount and type of anabolic drugs they are taking.

The key for natural trainees is to strive for poundage progression. Do the best you can, handling the heaviest weight you can for the proper repetition range. You may hit seven repetitions two weeks in a row, six the next week and seven the fourth, but it doesn’t matter. Pat yourself on the back if you gave it your best effort and move on to the next set or the next exercise.  As long as you are TRYING to continue to lift more weight you are doing everything you can to get stronger. Eventually you will surpass seven repetitions if you stay with the weight and continue to train hard, eat the proper nutrition and take plenty of rest.

Where many beginners go wrong is they get attached to a certain repetition range or scheme and allow themselves to become negative when they reach a sticking point in their training progression. There is no magic behind any repetition scheme, whether it is straight sets, descending sets, single sets etc. They are all just systems that guide poundage progression in your training. Once you are able to surpass the goal of the repetition scheme you know to add weight. You use the repetition scheme to assist you in the goal of adding weight, but the specific repetition scheme is NOT the overall goal of training.

If you keep missing your goal with the same weight, it has a negative effect on your confidence and mood. You can start to expect to miss your lifts with a certain weight and fall into a sticking point. Strength training requires struggling with weights, but it shouldn’t become negative. Never let yourself get crushed by the same weight more than two or three times in a row without making a change. Most training plateaus are more mental than physical.

If you’re training with higher repetitions to failure, change the poundage and goal for the sets. Instead of training doing twenty repetition squats all the time, switch it up and train in the ten to twelve repetitions range for a few months. If you are training with three sets for a specific exercise, drop one of the sets or only judge your performance on the first set. This will get your mind set on a new goal and let you forget the past failures. Your mind will begin to focus on working to constantly improve instead of focusing on a specific number.

Bob Whelan coined this style of training “Common Sense Periodization” years ago as an alternate method to the popular long periodization training cycles that some of the top certification like to promote. Bob suggests every few months adjusting the equipment type, repetition ranges and or the exercise to keep things fresh. It is all dependent on how you feel and not written in stone. If you are on a roll and not burned out with your current training, continue to ride the wave. If you are stalled out and need a change of pace, switch things up responsibly. There will still be linear progression because the basic exercises and principles of strength training never change.

Poundage progression all comes down to using your own judgement when to move up on weights. If you are straining to meet the goal, stay with that weight until you exceed it. If you have a psychological issue on a specific lift change the repetition goal or repetition speed so you don’t feel negative on your performance. There is no specific rule on what system of poundage progression you use, only that you strive to improve on whatever system you train with. In the end, you are only competing against yourself. Strive to set new PRs for different repetition goals if you are stuck on a specific one.

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