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.)

 

 

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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 

Product Spotlight: Total Fitness in Thirty Minutes a Week

Anyone who is a regular visitor to my blog knows that I am always on a quest to find the most efficient and effective ways to attain and maintain fitness. For many years I have been an advocate of brief, intense strength training, as well as a strong proponent for the merits of interval training, and other methods of less protracted “CARDIO” exercise.
With this in mind I highly recommend you seek out the book: Total Fitness in Thirty Minutes a Week by Laurence Englemohr Morehouse, and Leonard Gross. Dr. Lawrence Morehouse founded UCLA´s performance laboratory and wrote sections on exercise and physical conditioning for the Encyclopedia Britannica. He designed NASA’s fitness program for the astronauts. Most notably, he discovered that a combination of exercises-one for short periods of time daily-can provide all the muscle developing, stretching, aerobic stimulation and cardiovascular conditioning most people need. 
 
Dr. Morehouse’s findings revealed that we need very little exercise each day-if it´s the right kind of exercise. Morehouse, advocates vigorous exercise as monitored by your pulse rate, for its beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. Among some of his unconventional ideas, Dr. Morehouse, suggests that 10 minutes of vigorous exercise, three times a week, is all that is needed for complete cardiovascular conditioning.
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Total Fitness in Thirty Minutes a Week Exposes myths about physical fitness, intense exercise and strict diet plans and proposes a targeted approach to conditioning based on individual lifestyles and the regulating of metabolic systems.
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PAU for NOW
TAKU
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TAKU’s NOTE: Although this book was originally published 1976, it is well worth finding a copy and giving it a thorough read through.
*All pictures of Astronauts performing strength, and conditioning training aboard the ISS.
 

Olympic Lifting Resurgence (Product Spotlight)

 

Way back in 2008 I wrote and article titled O.S.W. vs H.I.T. With Olympic Style Weightlifting experiencing a resurgence of late, I figured this week I would shine the spotlight on one of my favorite resources for learning about this sport. It’s a book and DVD set written by my coach, and long time friend Jim Schmitz.

 

For those of you who may not be lucky enough to know Jim, or are not familiar with him, here is just a little background. Jim Schmitz coached Team USA in the 1980, 1988, and 1992 Olympics. He currently trains weightlifting at The Sports Palace, a member gym of the Pacific Weightlifting Association in South San Francisco, California. Jim was also the president of USA Weightlifting from 1988 through 1996.

Jim has written and produced an excellent manual and DVD set titled:

Olympic-style Weightlifting for the Beginner & Intermediate Weightlifter.

This set is available through Iron Mind, and is a bargain at around $40.00. This series is the next best thing to working with Jim in person as he offers not just some basic technical instruction in the quick lifts, but specific programs as well as tips gleaned from his 55 years of active involvement in the sport he loves, at it’s highest levels.

For those interested, there are also a series of excellent, high-quality videos on YouTube produced by USA Weightlifting and featuring Jim.

If you have a chance to attend one of his many workshops or certification courses, I highly recommend that you take advantage of your opportunity to work with Jim and find a way to GET THERE! If you are in the SF bay area, take a moment to visit him at the Sports Palace, you’ll be glad you did.

PAU for NOW,

TAKU

On Building Strength & Stamina

Wayne Westcott

Fitness Tips from Dr. Wayne Westcott:

 

This week I offer some valuable tips on attaining and maintaining total fitness from my friend and mentor Dr Wayne Westcott. For those who may not know him, Wayne L. Westcott, PhD, CSCS, is the Fitness Research Director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts. His tenure as a strength training expert spans more than 35 years as an athlete, coach, teacher, professor, researcher, writer, and speaker.

Dr. Westcott says: “My interest in strength training began with my personal weight lifting program in high school that seemed beneficial for my track performance but was strongly discouraged by my coaches. I decided to learn more about the outcomes of resistance training and how to best develop a safe, effective and efficient program of strength exercise.”

Influences: The three key influences on my direction in the field of strength training were the exercise protocols promoted by Drs. DeLorme and Watkins, who initiated sensible strength exercise in the United States in the late 1940s; Dr. Richard Berger, who studied various combinations of sets and repetitions in the early 1960s; and Arthur Jones, who advocated brief, high-intensity strength workouts in the early 1970s, and designed specialized equipment (Nautilus machines) to facilitate the strength-building process.

Specificity: Unfortunately, fitness is more specific than it is general. I believe that the most practical way to improve cardiovascular fitness is through basic endurance exercise, such as running, cycling, stepping, swimming, rowing, etc., for about 30 minutes per session, at a heart rate of about 70 to 80 percent of maximum, 3 to 4 days per week. In my opinion, the most practical means for increasing muscular fitness is through standard strength training, using progressively heavier resistance to perform one hard set of exercise (8 to 12 repetitions with approximately 70 to 80 percent of maximum weight-load), 2 to 3 days per week with proper technique and controlled speed. Such a workout requires about 30 minutes, which combined with 30 minutes of endurance exercise requires only 1 hour of physical activity, 3 days a week, and should be acceptable for most individuals.

Creating efficient workouts: Most people who do not exercise regularly give time constraints as their main reason for avoiding physical activity. Training protocols for both strength and endurance exercise, may be accomplished by single-set and high-intensity strength training techniques that eliminate lengthy rest/recovery periods necessary in multiple-set training programs. Combine this with interval training protocols for endurance exercise sessions which provide more cardiovascular effort in less time by alternating higher and lower effort bouts of aerobic activity. One may also create combination circuit training routines for the really time-pressured person who must perform concurrent strength and endurance exercise.

 

Circuit Strength Training: Circuit training is an excellent means for maximizing your strength development while minimizing your exercise duration. By performing a hard set of one exercise (e.g., leg extension), then doing a hard set of a different exercise (e.g., leg curl), you can address all of the major muscle groups in relatively short order. This is possible because you do not need to rest between sets, as each exercise works a fresh muscle group. Training without rests is also beneficial from a “fatigue-resistant” perspective, as your cardiovascular system works at a relatively high level for the entire exercise session.

Extending the set Vs multiple sets: Two sets of the same exercise is fine, but you essentially work the same muscle fibers twice. With breakdown training, you work additional muscle fibers in an extended set that forces you to reach a second and deeper level of muscle fatigue. Although it may be easier to do repeat sets to the same level of muscle fatigue, it may be more productive (and certainly more time-efficient) to perform high-intensity training techniques that fatigue more muscle fibers and provide a greater strength building stimulus.

Strength & flexibility: Our latest research on stretching has shown that beginners who combine strength training and stretching exercise experience almost 20 percent greater strength development than those who do not stretch. You may do a 20-second stretch immediately following each strength exercise for the muscles just worked, or perform all of your stretches together right after your strength workout.

Your never too old to benefit: Our research has shown almost equal and very impressive improvements in both boomers and seniors who do a basic and brief program of strength and endurance exercise. In a study with almost 1,200 participants, those between 41 and 60 years added 2.3 pounds of muscle and lost 4.4 pounds of fat after just 2 months of training, less than an hour a day, 2 or 3 days a week. Remarkably, the subjects between 61 and 80 years added 2.4 pounds of muscle and lost 4.1 pounds of fat following the same training program. Both age groups increased their muscle strength by approximately 50 percent during the 8-week training period.

Recommendations for older trainees: I recommend that boomers perform a basic fitness assessment before and after two months of the exercise program to verify their progress and reinforce their training efforts. Beginning with just 3 key exercises and adding 2 exercises each week is a most sensible method for introducing new participants to a progressive program of purposeful strength training. Those who follow the exercise guidelines will notice some improvements in as little as 2 weeks.

Getting Rid of Cellulite: We have recently conducted a considerable amount of research on a pervasive problem encountered by most women, commonly called cellulite. Our studies have shown considerable success through a sensible combination of strength training, endurance exercise and reasonable caloric reduction. (The new book is titled No More Cellulite and should soon be available at all bookstores).

On simple methods to develop Strength & Stamina: In my observation, most fitness centers are geared for exercise enthusiasts who enjoy new, challenging and complex training programs. Unfortunately, the 90 percent of Americans who do not frequent fitness facilities are far less comfortable with what they consider complicated and time-consuming exercise protocols. They are much more responsive to short and simple fitness programs consisting of basic strength training and standard endurance exercise that they can easily blend into their busy lifestyle. To reach the unfit market, we need to place more emphasis on chocolate and vanilla, and spend less time on 50 mix and match flavors, at least initially.

 PAU for NOW

TAKU

 

Ten Commandments of Training

1. Have a Plan

It is important to have a list of goals and the steps to reach the goals. Doing this is the key to self confidence and motivation. Keeping a log of how you do in following your plan helps to see what does and does not work for you. This will help you to create better plans in the future. The best logs include not only information about strength and cardio training but nutrition, sleep and motivation as well.

 

2. Train in cycles

Plan a 6 – 12 month training cycle. It is difficult to maintain top shape or train at maximum levels all year around. We all need periods of physical and psychological recovery. Build an adequate base of endurance and strength before adding work. Peaking for sports performance means increasing workout intensity as well as sharpening technique. This type of training is only used for short periods of time, (4 to 12 weeks), to prepare for competition. After a period of competing there should be a period of reduced training, rest and recovery leading into another cycle of base and strength building which should see you improving on your previous personal bests.

3. Use the Hard/Easy system

For training effect to take place, a period of overload needs to be followed by a period of rest, during which the actual adaptation to the stress takes place. Exercise physiology research has shown that the hard/easy cycle for training needs to be 48 hours or more. It has also demonstrated that alternating hard and easy workouts is more effective training than doing the same workout each day. Thus alternating hard and easy days is appropriate training for all fitness participants and can maximize results while minimizing burnout. The most common beginner mistake is to do the same intensity and the same duration every day.

4. Train specifically

Ask yourself, does this training make sense for the activity I’m planning to do? If not, do something that makes sense. Adaptation needs to be specific to attain your goals. You must train duration specific energy transport systems and you must train volume and intensity specific neuro-muscular responses. This means if you are a boxer, don’t train like a marathon runner. And if you are a marathon runner, don’t train like a power lifter.

5. Don’t train any more than you have to

Efficient trainers are healthy trainers. There are no bonus points for doing a longer workout than you’d planned. Most injuries seem to occur when people feel good and over do it. Remember that how you feel is a poor physiological measure of how you are. Err on the side of conservatism. If you feel bad, do less. If you feel good, stick to your plan. Don’t do more. Always emphasize quality over quantity.

6. When doing cardio, Focus more on speed and intensity over distance and time

The risk of injury from over-training must always be factored against the gains made. By focusing your “aerobic” training on speed and intensity over distance you will receive the maximum physiological improvements possible in the minimum time. You train all the energy transport systems you need for aerobic endurance by alternating bouts of more intense speed-work with active recovery periods, during any cardio activity. By combining intervals alternating slow periods and short fast periods you avoid the risks (not to mention the boredom) associated with the high stresses of long drawn out cardio training sessions.

7. Add variety

Varying a number of aspects of your training avoids injury and keeps you mentally interested. For strength training try experimenting with different modalities such as resistance bands, sand bags, medicine balls etc. For cardio training as well as trying different equipment you can vary pace, distance, courses, terrain etc. For an intense and challenging twist try cross training by combining alternative cardio and strength activities into brief, intense and challenging circuits. This type of training can directly increase your overall fitness and resistance to injury and burnout allowing you to train consistently for long periods.

8. Make your training enjoyable

If you are not enjoying the training, you will not be able to maintain your commitment. Variety, mentioned above, will help. Also consider things like a once a week fitness “adventure” where you try something you have never tried before. Take a class you have been curious about or explore a martial art. Join a sports team an outdoors training group or a run for fun group.

9. Hire a Coach or Personal Trainer

At least educate yourself on training techniques and your body’s responses so that you can coach yourself. If you cannot follow the rules and need more help, hire a Trainer or Coach. A Trainer / Coach should help you set up and follow a program based on your ability and your goals. A Couch / Trainer’s primary goal should be to keep you healthy and motivated.

10. When in doubt, rest

This is the golden rule of training. Do unto your body as you would have it do unto you. Listen to your body. If it is saying, “I’ve got a problem, what now?” The usual answer should be to take a day off, either your head or your anatomy need it.

PAU for NOW

TAKU

 

Everything Works and Everything Fails To Work

Look! It's a magic exercise!When you spend a couple of decades watching the world of fitness and strength training you see a lot of strange things. Often you see the same strange things repeatedly.One of the things that happens like clockwork is a Hollywood movie featuring somebody in great physical shape who has his shirt off for several minutes of screen time – and the inevitable publicity for the ‘workout’ that made it all possible.

Movies like 300 or The Wolverine or a dozen others, TV shows with actors likeTrue Blood’s Joe Manganiello, who has a great physique, all give rise the the inevitable magazine and web articles that feature “The Workout” used by the celebrity.

The idea is fostered that if you only had the Secret Workout of the celebrity you could have the same fantastic physique displayed by him.

There Is No Secret Workout

Here’s the truth: There Is No Secret Workout. The reality is virtually any workout can work to some degree and every workout – without exception – can utterly fail. There is also no secret technique like doing biceps curls on a colorful Swiss ball, or twisting your wrist at the top a a curl or flexing your shoulders at the top of a deadlift. All of these alleged benefits can be thwarted simply by stupid workout planning.

Put three guys in a gym and one of them will swear three sets of 10 to 12 reps to failure is the secret workout of champions. Another will say it’s one very slow set to failure. Another – bless him – will say it’s timed sets of strong range reps.

And guess what? All of them could make good progress or all of them could fall on their face. You can lift cinder blocks in your back yard and build some muscle. You can break rocks with a sledgehammer and build some muscle. You can lift sub-maximum weights and gain some muscle.

You can also do all of the above and overtrain and dig yourself into a metabolic hole where you get sick and/or lose the motivation to do any exercise at all.

Train Blind Or Train Smart

The reason any potentially productive workout can fail is because people train blindly with it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a celebrity workout, a pro bodybuilder workout or a workout I created just for  for you – you can overtrain or undertrain with it and get absolutely nowhere. In fact, you can make your overall health worse, not better.

The Dirty Secret

The dirty little secret is that it’s what happens outside the gym that is vastly more important. Namely:

a) Did you get enough rest to recover 100% from your previous workout

b) Did some new muscle grow, and

c) What is you plan to generate higher intensity on your next workout?

ALL of that is determined outside of the gym!

There is no excuse for working blind. It’s just dumb. And needless.

Take basic measurements of your intensity and then make sure that intensity  increases on every exercise during every workout. Don’t turn a good workout into a bad workout by not planning it properly.

TAKU’s Note:  This week features another great little article by my friend Pete Sisco. As always I appreciate him letting me share some of  of his excellent work here at Hybrid Fitness