If you look at the above pics and I covered the head, you would think you were looking at two different people. It’s been a while since I highlighted one of my guys, but while Mike was working out last night it was apparent he was deserving and the kid busts his butt day in and day out. His drive is extraordinary for a high school kid.
Mike will be playing lacrosse in college next year and his performance has shot through the roof in addition to the added strength and muscle. Mike routinely brings his PBJ sandwiches with him to the workouts and eats them during the workout. I never have to remind him. Mike has also dropped his 40 time into the low 4.7′s, body fat has dropped, he is static to dynamic squatting over 4 plates and the list goes on. The pictures say a thousand words. Great job Mike!
After hearing a presentation this weekend at the seminar I was at and receiving an email from one of the local high school strength coaches that is a good friend of mine about periodization, I realized many of you might not be too clear on what periodization is. I am the type of Coach that likes to make things simple, easy to explain and understand. Simply put, periodization is a plan for your lifting. There are all types of periodization: linear, block, wave, conjugate and so on. The only problem I have with a 12 week laid out periodized plan for say a high school athlete is that most of the time, the strength coach will have 12 weeks laid out in advance and many of the same exercises used repeatedly. Now, you tell me from your own experience, would you be mentally engaged in a program that used the same exercises for 12 weeks? I have a little bit a ‘boredom built in’ and ‘training ADD’ so I can tell you for sure from my end that there is no way in hell I’d make it those 12 weeks. Again, think back to what periodization is-a plan. For an athlete, you want that plan to make them: bigger (possibly), faster, more powerful, stronger, more agile and so on. In an ideal world, you would want all of these qualities to be at or near a peak heading into a season.
I am a big fan of conjugate programs in which all of these qualities are trained at the same time as opposed to the American model in which one is trained and then left on the back burner for weeks so that by the time you get back to it, it is no longer existent. I can tell you from my experience that I myself have never used a strict 12 week or whatever periodized plan. Again, lifting ADD, remember? And I think I have done quite well for myself in the weight room. It is more of an art for me, I know when to switch exercises and when to move up or down in weight. The reason being is that the program must be mentally engaging and you need to develop and intuitive feel over time. If you were trying to develop power, is there only one way to do it? Of course not, there are tons of ways to do it. A method I use with my guys is to keep things the same for 2-3 weeks, look for the necessary improvements and then cycle it. You can call my style ‘meathead periodization’ or whatever you like, but it works and I hope this article has made periodization a bit less of a mystery for you.
Here are three quick tips before I go to bed that are guaranteed to put some size on those bones, serious size….
1. Eat at least one meat source per day, 2 mass gaining shakes and 2 PBJs. I don’t care what else you take in, get this stuff down!
2. High rep, heavy squats. I know this sounds like an oxymoron, but trust me on this. This is one of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal and it takes a qualified eye to make sure you are gutting these out. I wish more bodybuilders would use this method to gain size.
3. Sleep at least 10 hours per day, maybe not all at once, but make up the difference in a nap. Very simple guys. How bad do you want it? No one can want it for you. I am going to bed, good night!
If you look at the Egyptian Pyramids, you will notice that they can only be as tall as their base is. If they had a smaller base, they would be shorter. When training my athletes, I think in these terms. What is going to give them the best and biggest base? First off, they must be able to master their body weight in exercises such as the pushup and squat. But a very basic program that will get them absolutely jacked in less than a year would be bench, squat, overhead pressing and the chinup or pullup. Thats it, nothing too crazy, just the basic compound movements. In fact, many people reading this would be better off just going on a simple program like this. It takes the thought out of it and for novices, you would use a straight linear periodization in which they added weight every week. You must keep in mind that you only want to prescribe what is needed to drive adaptation, nothing more. Variety for variety’s sake is stupid. If you get board, make it a variation of main exercise such as fat grip bench or vary the tempo, rest time and so on. You can’t get more basic than this and at the same time you couldn’t find a more effective program for a novice. I have two guys that are starting this week that will be on this very program and I expect the results to be dramatic. Stay tuned.
Hope the holiday weekend was great! I got some much needed rest but I am back stronger than ever and will be bringing you guys some cool thoughts this week. I wanted to just show you guys what is possible with some dedicationa to a plan and having a qualified Coach in your corner. Mark has only been with me for a few weeks and he is one of the many men that come to the facility. His intensity is ferocious and even the athletes feed off of his energy. Take a look:
Way to go Mark! Get jacked!
Sorry for not posting the past few days, I was up in Canada and did not have access to the net. I was working with a few young athletes at the facility yesterday and it was apparent that these athletes had never been taught how to run properly. I can speak from the inside in saying that too many PE teachers don’t even teach yourg kids how to run or jump properly and it is a damn shame. I believe the reason is because believe it or not, most PE teachers couldn’t tell you what to look for in a proper running and/or jumping. These are two critical skills that should be taught to everyone. I explained to the mother that at this age (13, 11), their nervous systems are still like play dough and we would be able to correct the problem. Once an athlete or anyone for that matter, reaches 16 or 17, that play dough starts to get hard and it is very hard to change things such as running and jumping and nervous system recruitment. After about 10 minutes of working with the boys on their first step and running, the change was noticeable and the mother was ecstatic. It can be done and shame on my fellow PE teachers for not nipping things like this in the bud long ago.
If only I had known these essential ingredients for getting stronger, leaner and more energetic when I was competing in bodybuilding, I would have made things a whole lot easier. On second thought, I did know these things and many of you will know them too, it is only a matter of putting them into practice. If you are neurotic about your strength training and body, you will more than likely be of the mindset that more is better and sleep is for sissy’s. I have been fighting that problem all my life, but then something changed.
I was at a seminar in which I got the chance to see elite strength coach, Martin Rooney, speak. I actually saw him a few times and each time he talked about the importance of sleep. The first time, it kind of stuck, the second time, I listened and dug deeper. I made a promise to myself that for two months I would get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. This would be two more than my usual 6. At this time, I also started to supplement more with fish oils, taking in 12-20 grams per day. Without changing anything else, I lost ten pounds of body fat and had the best strength producing workouts of my life. Notice- I did not change anything with my nutrition, yet lost 10 pounds. I did not add in any extra conditioning either. My energy throughout the day was also superb. And, I was getting just as much stuff accomplished every day on my daily to do list. I did not get sick during the winter for the first time in the five years that I have been teaching phys. Ed.
I read the book, Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers by Sapolsky and that shed some more light on the issue. Sleep is critical. If you aren’t sleeping enough, you are never fully entering a parasympathetic state, the state in which you recover and make your best gains. This is the state after the stress is applied and the tissue must adapt. Also, lack of sleep will lead to raised cortisol levels, some cortisol is okay, too much is the strength athlete’s enemy! The double whammy of fish oil and sleep with be the best ‘upper’ medicine you could ever find. I can’t emphasize enough to my students, athletes and clients how much sleep will aide in their growth, fat loss, muscle gain, cognitive function and everything else in between. Something simple, something overlooked too often, turn off the tv and sleep! And don’t forget the fish oil…
The reason I love training athletes so much is because I have been in their shoes, I have been in their mind. When I was a junior and senior in high school, I wanted to get bigger so badly that I often ate until I puked. I did not do this on purpose, but the drive was there and I knew that I had to drive the body out of its comfort zone to get the muscle that I wanted. When an athlete tells me he is eating good and a lot, I ask to see his nutrition journal. It is says 2 eggs and cheerios for breakfast, you can be sure as heck that they are going to get an earful from me. Does that even sound like it is a breakfast for a young athlete that wants and needs to get bigger? Cereal is garbage and you should be eating 6 to 8 whole eggs (cage free) for breakfast. The whole idea is to make the body step out of its comfort zone. Training as a young athlete is as much mental as it is physical. You have to put a 10 in to get a 10 out, nothing less.
Too often, many strength coaches want to start using maximum effort methods with their young athletes. Athletes that are inexperienced in the weight room and don’t have the muscle mass to lift a broom stick, yet their coach will have them doing as much as they can during a box squat. Are you kidding me!? For many athletes, max effort does not need to be employed until the athlete stops progressing on their current rep schemes, lets say 10 to 12. An athlete must develop adequate muscle mass and neurological control first and then we can start sliding the weights up. What is neurological control? Simply watch a newbie lifting anything and notice the shaking, uneven movement of the bar-that is a lack of neurological control. There are many things that go into putting together a program for a young or new athlete. What ever happened to bodyweight programs for beginners? Keep it simple stupid!