HIGH-INTENSITY TRAINING: Safe Efficient Effective

By Wayne L. Westcott, PhD*

In the area of strength training, there are as many workout routines as there are body builders, weight lifters, power athletes, and strength coaches. Every strength expert seems to possess the perfect training program for maximizing muscle development.

Fortunately, several respected professional associations have come to consensus on recommended training procedures for safe, sensible, and successful strength exercise. These include the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Council on Exercise, and the YMCA of the USA. The training guidelines, which include the following, are designed for average adults who desire a higher level of strength fitness.

1. Training Exercises: Eight to twelve strength exercises that address all of the major muscle groups.
2. Training Frequency: Two to three nonconsecutive training sessions per week.
3. Training Sets: One or more sets of each exercise.
4. Training Resistance: Approximately 70 to 80 percent of maximum resistance.
5. Training Repetitions: Approximately eight to twelve controlled repetitions.
6. Training Progression: Approximately 5 percent increase resistance whenever 12 controlled repetitions are completed.
7. Training Speed: Slow to moderate movement speed–for example, two seconds lifting and four seconds lowering.
8. Training Range: Whenever possible, full range of joint movement.

These basic exercise procedures have proven to be an effective and efficient means for developing muscle strength and mass. Studies with youth, adults, and seniors have shown significant increases in muscle strength (about 70 percent) and muscle mass (about 3 pounds) after eight weeks of training in the recommended manner. While these improvements continue for several months, progress comes more slowly and eventually begins to plateau.

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Strength Plateaus
Strength plateaus are an inevitable part of the muscle-building process. At some point, the training effort that previously stimulated positive muscle adaptations is no longer productive. This does not mean that further strength development is impossible, but it does indicate a need for program changes.
Most people recognize that, to overcome a strength plateau, they must train a little harder. However, many exercisers confuse working harder with working longer. That is, they increase their exercise duration rather than their exercise intensity. For example, instead of performing one set of each exercise, they jump to two or three sets of each exercise. While this certainly increases the work volume, it has little impact on the work intensity.

Let’s say that John typically performs 10 leg extensions with 150 pounds, which is 75 percent of his maximum resistance. As John’s quadriceps muscles fatigue, his momentary strength decreases on a repetition-by-repetition basis. By his 10th repetition John has reduced his starting strength by 25 percent, and he can no longer lift 150 pounds. That is, when John’s quadriceps muscles fatigue below 75 percent of maximum strength, he can no longer lift 75 percent of maximum resistance.
If John chooses to perform a second set of leg extensions, he will clearly perform a greater work volume. He is unlikely to achieve a greater work intensity, however, by completing additional sets of leg extensions. This is due to the fact that each set of 150-pound leg extensions fatigues the same 25 percent of John’s quadriceps muscle fibers. Because the same muscle fibers are activated in the same recruitment pattern, there is little response difference between the first and last set of a given exercise.

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High-Intensity Strength Training
The primary intent of high-intensity strength training is to fatigue additional muscle fibers during a more demanding exercise set. One means of achieving this objective is to reduce the exercise resistance at the point of muscle failure. For example, when John can complete no more leg extensions with 150 pounds, he may immediately reduce the resistance to 130 pounds and perform a few more repetitions. By so doing, he may fatigue more muscle fibers and provide a greater strength-building stimulus. With this technique, called breakdown training, John experiences two levels of muscle failure and fatigues 35 percent of his quadriceps muscle fibers.

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Research on Breakdown Training
In a recent research study, we compared standard training with breakdown training. Forty-five adults (men and women between 25 and 54 years of age) and 15 seniors (men and women between 55 and 84 years of age) participated in this study.

During the first four weeks all 60 subjects trained in the standard manner (one set of 8-12 repetitions per exercise). During the second four weeks half of the subjects continued to perform one set of 8-12 repetitions per exercise. The other half performed one set of 8-12 repetitions, then immediately reduced the weightload by 10 pounds and completed as many additional repetitions as possible (typically 2-4 breakdown reps with the lighter resistance).

The subjects who performed breakdown training experienced significantly greater strength gains than the subjects who trained in the standard manner. The high-intensity-trained adults gained 39 percent more strength and the high-intensity-trained seniors gained 100 percent more strength.
Given these findings, it would appear that breakdown training is more effective than standard training for developing muscle strength. It is assumed that the breakdown repetitions produced a greater strength-building stimulus. It is also likely, however, that the breakdown repetitions encouraged greater training effort. That is, the subjects who performed breakdown repetitions probably pushed themselves harder after realizing that the standard training set did not fully fatigue their muscles. This learning effect may explain the large difference in strength development between the two senior groups.

Assisted Training
Another means of increasing the training intensity is assisted training. Like breakdown training, the resistance is reduced at the completion of a standard exercise set to enable a few additional repetitions. Instead of changing the weightload, however, a trainer gives just enough manual assistance to complete another repetition.
Because we can lower more resistance (negative muscle contraction) than we can lift (positive muscle contraction), the assistance is limited to the lifting movements. The trainee handles the full resistance on the lowering movements.

Pre-Exhaustion Training
Pre-exhaustion training is also designed to fatigue more muscle fibers than standard training. With this high-intensity technique, you complete two successive exercise sets for the same muscle group. The first set is typically performed with a rotary exercise that fatigues the target muscle group. The second set is conducted with a linear exercise that involves both the fatigued target muscle group and a fresh muscle group.

For example, you may do a set of chest flies to pre-exhaust the pectoralis major muscles. At the point of failure, you may immediately perform a set of chest presses using both the fatigued pectoralis major muscles and the fresh triceps muscles.

By incorporating different movement patterns and fresh muscles, pre-exhaustion training produces greater fatigue in the target muscle group. Other effective pre-exhaustion combinations include lateral raises followed by overhead presses for the deltoid muscles, pullovers followed by pulldowns for the latissimus dorsi muscles, arm curls followed by chin-ups for the biceps muscles, arm extensions followed by dips for the triceps muscles, and leg extensions followed by leg presses for the quadriceps muscles.

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Conclusion
Our study with adults and seniors demonstrated significantly more strength development with breakdown training than with standard training. Although not researched, experience indicates that assisted training and pre-exhaustion training are also effective means of producing more muscle fiber involvement and promoting greater strength gains. In addition to the physiological adaptations associated with high-intensity strength exercise, there would appear to be psychological changes as well. That is, people who practice high-intensity techniques are likely to train harder than those who have not exercised in this manner.

Because of the greater effort required by high-intensity strength exercise, it should not be overdone. A single breakdown set, a few assisted repetitions, and an occasional pre-exhaustion workout will be sufficient. Most important, be sure to perform every repetition in standard and high-intensity exercise with proper technique and controlled movement speed

*Wayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. Dr. Westcott has written the Muscular Strength And Endurance chapter for the ACE Personal Trainer Manual and has authored several textbooks on strength training.

TAKU’s NOTE: This week I offer yet another excellent article from my friend and mentor Dr Wayne Westcott.

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Perspective on Proper Strength Training

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I am not sure how many times I need to say this stuff…Okay, maybe just one more time.

Strength training programs should be comprehensive in nature with the emphasis placed on exercising the major muscle complexes throughout their fullest range of functional motion. The selected movements should include a variety of multi-joint and single-joint exercises, utilizing a good mix of machines and free weights whenever possible, and be safe and relatively easy to perform in terms of technique.

Muscle overload can be applied with a variety of tools: barbells, dumbbells, machines, manually applied resistance, body weight, sand bags, etc. Anything that can create high tension in the muscles can be used.


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A variety of exercise prescriptions can be used provided muscle overload occurs, such as heavy resistances / few repetitions, lighter resistances / more repetitions, minimal exercise bouts (i.e., 1 to 3 sets per muscle group) and / or varied rest time between sets and exercises (i.e., 30 seconds to 3:00+).

Set and repetition schemes may be varied, but the program should strive for intense efforts, accurate record keeping, a system for progressive overload and time efficiency.

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The short version is: 1.) Select exercise tool(s), and resistance / repetition schemes that reflect your current goals. 2.) Perform as many perfect repetitions as possible with the selected resistance. 3.) Write it all down. 4.) Next time attempt to do more than you did last time.

YES!! It’s really that simple.

Now get to it!

PAU for NOW

TAKU

TAKU’s NOTE: Movements requiring excessive momentum for the execution and/or completion of the lift should be avoided. (More specific information is available upon request.)

 

 

TEN TRAINING TIPS:

Below you will find ten basic tips that will help you get the most out of your strength training program.

1) Train with a high level of intensity.

Intensity is not yelling loud, rather it is the ability to exert maximal effort, and focus on each repetition. At times this may require the ability to train past your comfort zone.

2) Attempt to increase the resistance used or repetitions performed every workout.

This is the application of the Overload Principle. The muscles must be challenged gradually and consistently in order to grow stronger.

3) Ideally, perform one set of each movement to the point of muscular exhaustion.

(There is very little evidence to suggest that multiple sets of each exercise are superior to a single set for strength gains.)

4) Reach concentric muscular failure within a prescribed number of time / repetitions.

If you reach failure well below the recommended time / repetition range the weight is too heavy, and potentially dangerous, it should be lowered on the next workout. If you reach failure above the time / rep range the weight is too light and you should gradually increase the resistance on the next workout.

5) Perform each repetition with proper technique. (see four rep rules)

The workout is only as good as each individual repetition. For maximum muscle-fiber recruitment and safety you should use a slow and controlled rep speed. We recommend a minimum 3-5-second concentric movement (raising) and 3-5-second eccentric movement (lowering). Note: Slower rep speeds are acceptable, and may be quite effective for some.

6) Strength train for no more than thirty minutes per workout.

We find it counter-productive to train with high levels of intensity for over 30 minutes.

7) Strength train 2-3 times per week on non-consecutive days.

To keep the body fresh and to avoid over-training you should take time to recover. As long as your strength continues to increase your rest is adequate. Should your strength plateau or slip you may need additional rest, not additional work. Counter intuitively stronger athletes require more rest than beginners.

8) Keep accurate records of performance.

This is the only way we can determine your gains in strength. This also is how coaches can help you individualize the workout for you, as no two athletes are exactly alike.

9) Safety above all things.

We are in the weight room to supplement your athletic skills with strength training. We do not want to risk an injury preparing for our sports. Non-athletes also do not want to risk injury in the attempt to improve their overall heath. Rule of thumb: If a movement is too fast or unorthodox do not perform it

10 To gain weight, consume more calories… to lose weight consume less.

Obviously the calories you put into your body should be healthy ones and the calories you cut from your diet should be done gradually. If you are serious about this concept please contact me for safe tips on weight gain and loss.

*THE FOUR rep rules.

Rule # 1 – Raise and lower the weight through the muscles full range of motion.

Rule # 2 – Eliminate momentum during the raising phase of each exercise.

Rule # 3 – Pause momentarily (stop for a count of 1001) in the muscle’s contracted position and then make a smooth transition to the lowering of the weight (no sudden drop).

Rule # 4 – Emphasize the lowering of the weight (take longer to lower the weight).

PAU for NOW
TAKU

The above inspired by the excellent work of the folks at www.strongerathletes.com

RECOMMENDED READING

I have mentioned all of the books on this list at one time or another, but decided they were so good that they deserved a single post where you can find them all. Just as my previous post about coaches I admire and appreciate, these books are presented in no particular order. Although this list is not a top ten, for aspiring strength coaches I would highly recommend the work of my friend Tom Kelso as an excellent starting off point.

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NAUTILUS TRAINING PRINCIPLES No. 1-3

This Three-Volume set contains Nautilus Training Principles: Bulletins No. 1, 2 and 3. These high intensity training classics by Nautilus inventor Arthur Jones cover every aspect of training from the specifics of exercise performance to the general principles of program design.

Drew Baye combined and edited these with Arthur Jones’ permission (October 11, 2006) to improve readability and created one table of contents and index for each of the three Bulletins.

Whether you’re a bodybuilder, athlete, or just want to lose fat or improve your general health and fitness, the information you need is covered here.

e-book: FREE

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  A PRACTICAL APPROACH TO STRENGTH TRAINING

4th edition by Matt Brzycki

About “A Practical Approach” 4th edition

From the Inside Flap:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Acknowledgements
1 Basic Anatomy and Muscular Function
2 The Physiological Basis of Physical Training
3 Genetics and Strength Potential
4 Strength Training
5 Strength Training for Females
6 Strength Training for Youths
7 Strength Training for Older Adults
8 Free-Weight Exercises
9 Machine Exercises
10 Manual-Resistance Exercises
11 Designing and Varying the Strength Program
12 Rehabilitative Training
13 Flexibility Training
14 Aerobic Training
15 Anaerobic Training
16 Metabolic Training
17 Power Training
18 Skill Training
19 Nutritional Training
20 Nutritional Supplements
21 Nutritional Quackery
22 Weight Management
23 A Primer on Steroids
24 Strength and Fitness Q&A

Appendix A: Summary of Free-Weight Exercises
Appendix B: Summary of Machine Exercises
Appendix C: Summary of Manual-Resistance Exercises

 

 TAKU’s NOTE: I have several copies of Matt’s (3rd edition), and it is one of my favorites. I am a big fan of Matt’s work and have read everything of his I can get my hands on. He is a masterful writer with an excellent grasp on the intricate workings of Evidence based strength and conditioning protocols. The new fourth edition is not merely a slightly revised update, but a totally new book which is even more comprehensive then the last edition. Matt, you did what you set out to do. Well done. Thanks!

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MAXIMIZE YOUR TRAINING

is a collective effort of more than thirty leading experts in the strength and fitness field. These respected professionals share their insights on a variety of topics and issues related to training and exercise, including:

  • The history of strength training
  • Program design
  • High intensity training (HIT)
  • Motivation
  • Strength training for specific populations (including women, older adults, and prepubescents)
  • Bodybuilding
  • Powerlifting
  • Flexibility
  • Nutrition
  • Steroids

Maximize Your Training is for fitness enthusiasts who want to gain the knowledge, understanding, and insight necessary to achieve a competitive edge. This book is an important tool for anyone who takes bodybuilding, sports performance, and athletic training seriously.

TAKU’s NOTE: As mentioned above, I own several books by Matt Brzycki, and they are excellent. Maximize your training should be on every Strength and Conditioning coach’s top-10 book list. It is loaded with valuable information on evidence based exercise programs, and will assist those interested in how to design, implement, and update comprehensive strength programs for any goal. Although this book has been around for some time, I highly recommend that you get yourself a copy today.

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THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE

“The Path Of Most Resistance” by John Turner. Although this book is only 126 pages, like many great books it makes up in valuable information what it lacks in length. As the sub-heading says, this book is loaded with everything one might need to achieve physical superiority. There is nothing which is of no use.  Mr Turner shares his unique perspectives garnered from years of personal exploration. Those who take the time to read, absorb, and most importantly apply the lessons contained within its pages, will be rewarded (perhaps for the first time) with real results for their efforts.

In The Path of Most Resistance, Turner has the answers you’ve been looking for – – blunt, hard-hitting, honest advice including:

Full-Range Exercise

The Human Powertrain

Winning The Exercise Lottery

How To Achieve Physical Superiority

TAKU’s NOTE: I highly recommend that anyone with an interest in exercise history, Arthur Jones, Nautilus equipment, and real training information, pick up a copy of this book A.S.A.P. Read, pay attention, apply what you learn, and most importantly work hard. The results will most likely surprise you.

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UE-1 (Ultimate Exercise Bulletin #1)

UE-1 is Dr. Doug McGuff’s first published work on high intensity strength training. Read the groundbreaking book that introduced the concepts of the dose-response relationship of exercise, time under load, stoicism in training and other insights that forever changed the field of exercise.

ORDER YOURS TODAY!

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BODY BY SCIENCE

Body By Science, written by Doug Mc Guff and John Little, is one of best books I have encountered for explaining the theory and reasoning behind Brief, Intense, and Infrequent training. This book is well written, informative, and goes into detail about the science behind the author’s recommendations, as well as detailing exactly what to do and how to do it.

To order your copy of Body By Science please click here: Body by Science

 

By using a proper science-based approach to exercise you can be on your way to achieving the following in as little as 12 minutes a week:

  • Build muscle size and strength
  • Optimize cardiovascular health
  • Ramp up your metabolism
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Increase insulin sensitivity
  • Improve flexibility
  • Manage arthritis and chronic back pain
  • Build bone density
  • Reduce your risk for diabetes, cancer, heart attack, and more.

TAKU’s NOTE: Over the last year or two I have personally experimented with this style of training with myself, and my clients. I find it to be both extremely efficient, and highly effective. Many of my clients are experiencing excellent results in both strength and fitness, while participating in only one or two very brief workouts per week. For more information about this type of training visit the BODY BY SCIENCE home page.

Three of the best books I have come across all come from the same guy. His name is Tom Kelso and he is at the top of a very short list of coaches and trainers who I have found to be the best in the business.

The three books are:

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  1. THE INTERVAL TRAINING MANUAL*

The Interval Training Manual is a book I wish I had when I was just getting started. it is loaded and contains:

*132 different interval running workouts
*4 levels of difficulty each
*14 different running venues
*All target and recovery times included
*Design your own intervals using enclosed percent speed and recovery time charts.

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THE STRENGTH TRAINING WORKOUT ENCYCLOPEDIA 

The Strength Training Workout Encyclopedia was inspired by the question every good coach hears thousands of times during his/her career “Can you design a workout for me?” Tom went above and beyond and created a tool for both athletes and coaches alike.  There are literally thousands of workouts in almost every style you could ever need or want.

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Finally there is Tom’s e-book “TRUTH MYTH & REALITY: What Can and Cannot be Done in a Strength & Conditioning Program”. This book is based on Tom’s own research and 30+ years of “down in the trenches” experience.  If you are someone who not only welcomes the truth but DEMANDS it, then this e-book is definitely for you.

TAKU’s NOTE: After twenty-five plus years of working actively in the fitness industry I have gained some insight into what works and what doesn’t.  If you are a strength coach or an athlete, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of these three books. You can find links to all of them by visiting:  http://www.tomkelso.com/

Well, there you have it. As far as I am concerned after literally reading hundreds and hundreds of books, and articles over the years these books should be on the shelf of every strength coach.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

Positive Role Models

Below is a list of some of the men who have positively impacted me in my career as a strength and conditioning coach. Some of these men are friends of mine, some I have been lucky enough to meet and spend time with, while others have led by example through their tireless efforts to promote safe, productive strength and conditioning practices. Not only have these men positively impacted my own development, but their work has inspired and positively influenced numerous coaches within the industry, and countless athletes around the world. This list is presented in no particular order (it’s not a top ten).

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  1. Mark Asanovich

Mark Asanovich has years of NFL Strength and Conditioning experience. Including time with the Minnesota Vikings, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Jacksonville Jaguars strength and conditioning programs. His program emphasizes individual supervision of player workouts. It is his belief that players who are coached in the weight room will develop better results. The cornerstone of the program is to “maximize physical potential and minimize physical injury.” Asanovich has been a speaker for consecutive years at the Strong-S seminar in Tokyo that is organized by the renowned Japanese trainer Tatsuya Okawa.

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  1. Matt Brzycki

Matt Brzycki has authored, co-authored and edited seventeen books. In addition, he has authored more than 435 articles/columns on strength and fitness that have appeared in 44 different publications. Matt has given presentations throughout the United States and Canada. He has also given presentations to the Central Intelligence Agency; US Customs and Border Protection; and US Secret Service Academy. He was appointed by the governor to serve on the New Jersey Council on Physical Fitness and Sports as well as the New Jersey Obesity Prevention Task Force.

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  1. Dr. Ellington Darden

Dr. Ellington Darden is the leading disciple of the H.I.T. training method. Darden, for 17 years the director of research for Nautilus Sports/Medical Industries, is the author of such enormously popular books on high-intensity workouts as The Nautilus Book, High-Intensity Bodybuilding, and 100 High-Intensity Ways to Build Your Body, along with 40 other fitness books.

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  1. Big Jim Flanagan

Jim Flangan met Henry “Milo” Steinborn, world’s strongest man at the time and champion wrestler, and began strength training under Milo’s guidance. He continued training with Milo for years to come and along the way met Arthur Jones, inventor of Nautilus and known worldwide as the man who changed the face of fitness forever. Arthur was a fitness genius and true living legend. Jim purchased a full line of Nautilus equipment from Arthur in 1973 and proceeded to open Orlando, Florida’s first fitness center, Jim Flanagan’s Nautilus Fitness Center.

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  1. Mike Gittleson

Mike Gittleson spent thirty seasons as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for the University of Michigan’s football program. He was appointed the athletic department’s first strength and conditioning coach in 1978. Gittleson was recognized by the Professional Football Strength and Conditioning Coaches Society as the 2003 National Collegiate Football Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year. Gittleson maintained the overall training and conditioning of the football program in one of the finest facilities in the country. He developed a unique and scientific approach to Michigan’s conditioning program, tailoring each program to the individual player in order to provide the maximum physical output and the prevention of injuries.

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  1. Arthur Jones

Arthur Jones’ ideas helped move the public’s notion of bodybuilding and strength-training exercise away from the hours in the gym using free weights, to short, single set workouts focusing on maximum intensity, which, according to theory, triggers maximal muscular growth. His publications include the Nautilus Bulletins, which aim to dispel contemporary myths of exercise and training. The Nautilus machines and the company he formed to sell them made him a multimillionaire and landed him on the Forbes list of the 400 richest people. Jones also founded MedX Corporation, in which he invested millions to develop medical-based exercise and testing equipment targeting spinal rehabilitation and fitness.

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  1. Dr. Ted Lambrinides

Dr. Ted Lambrinides is currently a strength and conditioning coach for the University of Kentucky. Ted did his undergraduate studies in business marketing and graduate studies in coaching and exercise science at The Ohio State University, where he began his career as a student assistant and graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach. After OSU, Lambrinides worked as director of education for two fitness companies, Nautilus Midwest and Hammer Strength Corporation.

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  1. Dr. Ken Leistner

Dr. Ken Leistner, for decades a concerned voice in the powerlifting community as a competitor, trainer, judge, national athletes’ representative, and administrator, was the Feature Editor, monthly columnist, and the author of articles ranging from training advice to political commentary for POWERLIFTING USA Magazine. With over 1000 published articles in the area of strength enhancement and injury prevention and rehabilitation, Dr. Ken was asked to edit or rewrite the rulebook for two of Powerlifting’s major federations. Dr. Ken has served as a consultant to numerous university athletic programs and NFL coaching staffs. While many in the sport know Leistner through the Steel Tip Newsletter of the 1980’s, many articles, and former ownership of the National and World Championship winning Iron Island Gym, Dr. Ken is as well known for his contributions to the Chiropractic treatment protocols first used at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and the design and prototyping of Nautilus and Hammer Strength equipment dating back to the early-1970’s.

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  1. Ken Mannie

Ken Mannie has spent 18 + years as Michigan State’s head strength and conditioning coach for football, while additionally directing and overseeing the strength and conditioning programs for all men’s and women’s sports. Mannie has been a keynote speaker and round-table participant at several national conventions and seminars. In both 2006 and 2007, Mannie was named to Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers in recognition for his numerous and ongoing educational efforts in the field of strength and conditioning and in bringing awareness to the anabolic drug abuse problem in sports. He has been recognized and is widely published on his adamant stance against performance-enhancing drugs.

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  1. Dan Riley

Dan Riley most recently was the strength and conditioning educator for the Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute. Riley is a retired strength and conditioning coach having spent 27 of those years in the National Football League (19 with the Washington Redskins and eight with the Houston Texans) winning four Super Bowls. Prior to his stint with the Redskins, Riley spent five years as the strength coach at Penn State after serving four years as the strength coach at the United States Military Academy at West Point.

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  1. Dr. Wayne Westcott 

Dr. Wayne Westcott has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Association of Fitness Professionals, the Healthy American Fitness Leader Award from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the Roberts-Gulick Award from the YMCA Association of Professional Directors, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness and Sports, and the NOVA 7 Exercise Program Award from Fitness Management Magazine.

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  1. Kim Wood

Kim Wood started weight training as a youngster, training to become a better wrestler and football player. He continued his training behind the scenes, as a running back at the University of Wisconsin in the sixties…. long before the fancy weight rooms and training complexes known to today’s players. Later, he worked for Arthur Jones, the legendary designer of the Nautilus machines. In 1975, Kim became one of the first strength coaches of professional football. During that time, he was also one of the three principals who created the now, world famous, Hammer Strength machines. He retired from the Bengals after 28 years with the team and was lucky enough to experience two Super Bowls along the way.

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13. Tom Kelso

For 23 years he was in the collegiate strength and conditioning profession, serving as the Head Coach for Strength and Conditioning at Saint Louis University (2004-2008), the University of Illinois at Chicago (2001-2004), Southeast Missouri State University (1991-2001), and the University of Florida (1988-1990). He got his start in the strength and conditioning field as an Assistant Strength Coach at Florida in 1984 where he was also a weight training instructor for the Department of Physical Education from 1985 to 1988. Tom Kelso is currently an Exercise Physiologist with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. He also trains clients through Pinnacle Personal & Performance Training in Chesterfield, Missouri.

Along with my friend, Mentor, and frequent poster here at Hybrid Fitness Jim Bryan… The above gentlemen represent some of the finest minds of the Strength and Conditioning community. If you are already familiar with some or all of the men on this list, then count yourself lucky. If you have not explored their work, then I suggest you do so right away.

PAU for NOW

TAKU 

THINK EFFORT

For many years I have been recommending effort based training systems which are built around Brief, Intense, Infrequent training sessions. This style of training has proven itself to be safe, efficient, and effective. Although this style of training has been around for at least 40 years, it is still somehow not always embraced by the mainstream. Some coaches like to claim that athletes do not use this style of training. This is totally false as approximately 50% of the NFL trains using this style of training as well as numerous other professional and college programs, and even Olympic athletes. Click the link below to see some examples of teams that utilize this style of training:

TEAMS:

Research showing the benefits of this style of training has also been around for years. Just recently some interesting studies have been released showing the positive results of various effort based training systems. Click the links below to see some current research on this topic:

RESEARCH 1.

RESEARCH 2.  

If you search through my archives you will find hundreds of articles explaining how to design and implement effort based training programs for yourself and others. You will also find many examples of ready made workout plans. Copy a few of them and insert them into your training regimen for a nice change of pace.

Here is a video showing one example of a challenging, total-body effort based workout:

WORKOUT: 

Finally…Based on current research here is a list of seven straightforward guidelines which have been shown to work. These recommendations make sense for just about everyone.

(Parenthetical comments are clarifications.)

1) Select one or two free weight or machine exercises for each muscle group. (Exercises may be changed from time to time.)

2) Lifting duration should be consistent with good form throughout each repetition. (Not too slow or too fast)

3) Range of repetitions can be from 3 to 20, which may vary from exercise to exercise or workout to workout.

4) Strive to do as many perfect reps as possible with the weight selected, stopping only when it becomes difficult to maintain good form. (Continue each set until volitional fatigue. for optimal strength gains.)

5) Do one set of each exercise. (There is very little evidence to suggest that multiple sets of each exercise are superior to a single set for strength gains.)

6) Rest long enough between exercises to allow proper form for each exercise. (Don’t rush or rest longer than necessary.)

7) Train each muscle group 1 to 2 times a week, depending on individual recuperation and response.

 

Remember it’s not the quantity, but the quality of your training that boosts your results.

THINK EFFORT!!

PAU for NOW

TAKU

 

Workout Frequency Revised

By Jim Bryan

Early in my weight training career I was training an average of six days a week. Sometimes twice a day. I was involved in competition in Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Body Building . Sometimes there were non-sanctioned Strongman type competitions. At this time I was chemically assisted but I never felt that it helped. Others did and saw areas of big improvements. But like I said I never felt it helped and don’t recommend it.

Somewhere in 1970 I met Arthur Jones and was exposed to shorter and harder workouts. I was already training hard but the workouts took a long time to complete. I hadn’t learned to “focus” my training yet. Arthur convinced me to stop depending on chemical assistance and showed me how to train harder in a shorter time frame. He also told me about “infrequent training.” After, I was training only three days a week for about 30 to 60 minutes. At first it was mostly on free weights and some machines at Christensen’s Health Club, and on mostly free weights and early prototypes of Nautilus Machines in Deland. When I first met Arthur, Nautilus didn’t exist in reality. It was only in Arthur’s mind. Thus, we didn’t have anything special in the beginning to train on. Free weights, Universal machine, Nautilus Pullover Prototype that’s pretty much it. I was happy to be only training 3 days a week and to me this was “Infrequent Training.” Today you have trainers bragging about only working out now and then, or once a month. It has been accepted that this is “Infrequent Training.” I believe things have gotten out of hand with this thinking.

My thoughts on “Optimal Training”

Three days a week training: I feel that this is the best way to go for most people. It works for body composition, lean muscle improvements, strength, and conditioning. Most people don’t train hard enough to run the risk of over training and three days is not that hard to get in. This can be all weights or a mix of weights and body weight training. Throw in some implements to make things interesting and on your off days get outside and enjoy being active. Don’t be afraid to be active. Practice sensible eating and you should do well.

Two Days a week training: This also works and for very busy people it may be ideal. Also, for the rare few (and I mean few) that train the way we used to in Deland, this is or can be a good frequency of training. Again, you can do all weights or mix with body weight training. It becomes more important to stay active on your non – training days if you are after a “lean look.” You can accomplish your goals of adding strength and maintaining muscle on two days a week training. Some will even add muscle but you need to make these workouts count. Focus your training and try to do as much as you can in the space of your workout. Training should take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. Some really hard workouts can be completed in 15 minutes and change.

When you are training only twice a week, “conditioning” starts to suffer in my opinion. I recommend participating in some kind of out door activity. Something like jogging, water skiing, swimming, soccer, surfing, boogie boarding, walking, or biking. Get outside, burn some calories, stay fit and stay active. Twice a week can work but you have to practice sensible eating if you want to shed some fat.

Once a week training: I don’t find this to be optimal. Sometimes you can’t help it. Life gets busy and you can only get one a week in. I feel that you can continue to add strength on one training session a week as long as you REALLY focus on weight progression in your exercises. I feel that body composition suffers for most people. You will tend to get fat and your conditioning will suffer, as well as your “work capacity.” You’ll really have to cut your calories if you want a lean look. So much so, that you may find you don’t have enough energy for a HEAVY workout. Your strength can suffer also. It’s around this area that “Infrequent Training” starts to become too infrequent. You better be active as heck if you only workout once a week or you will become…………………………………fat.

Less than once a week training: Look! I’m going to be honest here. I don’t care how many books or articles you have that say you can succeed on this. What you will end up with is ………Books and Articles.

You’ll have very little muscle, and your conditioning will be zero. You just can not do it in five minutes a day whenever you feel like it as some would have you believe, and you can not do it with workouts that never happen. Having the best Fitness Library means zilch if all you ever do is read and talk your workout. You have to work out! You have to raise your heart rate. You have to spend some sweat and effort. You have to be consistent. You have to pay attention to what and how much you eat. All the best intentions in the world will not make up for lack of effort in the gym.

AND neither will the latest “Fitness Craze.” The experts on the Internet will go on and on about “I use this and I use that” but the bottom line is weight training works. Combine weight training with body weight training and conditioning and just do it. It has worked for over 50 years as I know it and continues to work. Gimmicks come and go but Sensible Strength Training will go on and on. BUT you have to show up, work out, and be consistent! Argue less on the Body Building sites and you will probably find the extra few minutes needed to “Just go lift.” I don’t care how you do it or who’s method you use, “Just go Lift.”

All said and done if you have been training consistently and regularly, don’t be afraid to take some time off to recharge now and then. Best effort equals best results. Not everyone will end up developing “Huge Muscles.” Some will and some won’t. It depends on your potential and effort. AND!!! Women don’t end up looking like a man because they lift weights. So just throw that excuse out the window. Women look good with some lean muscle on them.

TAKU’s NOTE: Thanks to my friend Jim Bryan for once again sharing his insights with us.