I find it funny when people tell me that the workout wasn’t hard enough or they need more. The simplest thing I can say is that exercise is like a prescription. You prescribe it in the lowest dose possible to get the desired effect.
If you had to take medicine, would you take 5X the recommended dose just because more is better, even though one pill would get the job done just fine? People come to Newell Strength in all different phases of their ‘training career’. Some have been training longer than others, some need to gain muscle, some need to lose fat and so on.
The goal will always dictate the training program. So what tools do I have at my disposal when designing programs? The different variables include sets, reps, rest periods, frequency of exposure, tempo and exercise selection. When I get out my pad to write down the ‘prescription’, there is interplay between all these variables.
If sets go up, reps go down. There is an inverse relationship between the two. A rep is really a measure of time, how long is the muscle system under tension? A rep is work and power. Work is force times distance and power output it work divided by time.
Rest periods will be dictated by training level and if you are after maximal strength, muscle growth or fat loss. Rest periods seem to be the most overlooked aspect of most trainees as they will rest one minute here, two minutes the next time and 20 seconds on the final set. How are we supposed to track progress or manipulate that variable if its all over the board. We have now started giving all the athletes and trainees stop watches to keep during their workouts so they are more conscious of the rest periods we prescribe.
Another overlooked aspect is frequency of training. Are you training by body part split still? Are you only training a body part once a week? If so, you are robbing yourself. A muscle is ready to go within 48 hours and similar movements can be trained daily, just look at blue-collar workers, for example, lumber jacks. They don’t seem to over train the muscles they work day in and day out, do they?
Tempo is the rep speed. Are 8 reps performed in 8 seconds going the same effect as 8 reps performed in 24 seconds? Definitely not! But most people or trainers I should say never pay this any mind. If you are after fat loss, time under tension should be longer as we will get a greater boost in lactic acid, causing a rise in growth hormone. So in that case, more time under tension is also critical in gaining muscle mass. Rest periods and nutrition will dictate which effect you get.
And lastly, exercise selection. You would probably be shocked to learn that your body adapts to the actual exercise selection the last. You could stick with the same basic exercises all year and manipulate that other variables and get phenomenal results. Pareto’s principle states that we get 80% of our results from 20% of the things we do. Exercise selection definitely fits this principle. Hoepfully this clarifies some of the aspects of what goes into your program as you shouldn’t be just wining it. A workout is not the same as a program…prescribe and let the effects happen.
I am not sure about you, but sometimes I really do believe in conspiracy theories. Let me explain….
I am getting ready for a bodybuilding competition this Spring and as such, I wanted to gain some muscular size. It has been quite a while since I have trained for pure hypertrophy, so I need to make sure that I am getting the most nutritious, calorie dense food to support my growth. By chance, I had a few conversations with other strength coaches about ‘raw milk’ and as such, I have been looking for it for some time, but you simply can’t find the stuff anywhere.
Well, I finally found a supplier and I get two gallons of raw milk delivered to our home every week, yes, two gallons. It has a distinctly different taste to it and doesn’t bother my stomach at all. I suffered from a severe stomach illness for two years and although the problem with not all physical, it forced me to get milk, dairy and whey protein out of my diet for that time period as they seemed to aggravate the problem.
Since drinking this highly anabolic substance, I have not gotten sick which is hard to do with my schedule and being around my elementary classes every day and my weight is up 7 pounds, even harder to do considering how little sleep I get.
So, as I always do, I bought a book about raw milk and have been devouring the information in it for my own personal knowledge and to share with you.
A few key points in the book:
• Cow’s used to be milked in highly contaminated conditions of dust, mud, manure and then the milk would be transported in pails that were used to bring slop the pigs. Thus, a high rate of disease was thought to be to milk. Enter pasteurization in 1895.
• It was not the milk itself, but the contamination of the milk. So instead of making better conditions for the cows and the milking of them, some genius thought if we boiled the shit (literally) (aka-pasteurization) out of the milk, the problem would be solved. This went around the real problem of increasing the cleanliness standards.
• Homeginization, the process of pulverizing milk fat, completely destroys the enzyme Lipase which is essential for fat digestion. This process also complete destroys phosphatase which is essential for calcium absorption. So much for milk providing useful calcium.
• Instead of souring as raw milk does when too old, a completely natural process, pasteurized milk will rot as dead animal tissue does. Pasteurization also completely alters the protein in milk, leading to a high rate of milk allergies that we see today.
I could go on and on about this and I have the research to back it up. However, I am a coach of integrity and I walk the walk and you can all obviously see that I am still living despite drinking 2 gallons of raw milk per week. There seems to be a conspiracy amongst our government against seeing muscular guys and athletes and maybe the outlawing of raw milk is one of their strategies. Are the Illuminati behind this too? Does someone want us getting allergies and getting sick from this harmful process of pasteurization? Is someone benefiting from this when there is absolutely no research to back this process? Stay tuned….
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…
I mentioned an old article I wrote the other day and funny enough, it was just published on one of the biggest strength sites in the world today, check it out:
I went to an auction yesterday to pick up some new equipment for the gym and I won my bid but the overall bid came through, so I was denied. However, sometimes you cannot take no for an answer, so I am sending one of my buddies back up there tomorrow to speak with the guy who won. Yes, I will have to pay for a days work, but IT IS IMPERATIVE TO TAKE ACTION NOW!! I am still going to try and get whats mine!
Also, I had a question from a client yesterday about fish oil. I recommend 20-30 grams per day of fish oil, meaning 20-30 grams of the best ‘brain’ fats around. The client was concerned that this was too much to be taking in. I got to thinking…most people take in over 30 grams of saturated fat per day and then doctors get them worrying that taking too much fish oil is no good for them. Boggles my mind, not the client, but the doctors recommendations. Take fish oil until your stomach gets a little uneasy and then cut back, that is the correct dosage you should be at. Our cavemen ancestors used to take in 275-300 grams per week, the average person takes in 5 grams per week, if that. Just a random Wednesday with some food for thought….K
German Volume Training has been around since the 60′s and has proven to be very effective for gaining muscle mass. The goal of GVT is time under tension. Time under tension is exactly what it says, how long the muscle groups being worked are under tension. I wrote about the different types of muscle growth a while back and GVT would definitely stimulate sacroplasmic hypertrophy. A typical GVT workout for a bodypart would be 10×10 with a 402 tempo. Meaning, 4 second negative, no pause and 2 second concentric phase. A set would last you 1 minute and then you take a one minute rest. This is effective to say the least, however, it should not be done for more than a few weeks at a time and it can get mentally boring. For hypetrophy, we want the set to last longer than 20 seconds and it can last for up to 70 seconds. I find that for sport, using timed sets is a great way to go. The repeated effort method from the conjugated system I normally use can be used here. See how many reps you get in say 40 seconds, take your rest period and then go again. There are different ways to achieve growth, but realize that tempo and time under tension should be taken into the equation. -K
One of the most overlooked factors in training is the cadence or speed of the bar. One of my specialties is the training of basketball players as I have been at it with myself for 12 years now, working out before school during my senior year so games and practices wouldn’t be impacted. As the basketball season comes to an end, the first thing I will do with my players is give them a few weeks off. After that time, I will take at least four weeks to really focus on putting some size back on the players and finding some new size. Charles Poliquin, one of the top strength coaches in the world, has worked with over 600 professional and Olympic athletes says the key is time under tension. Now, I do not advocate isometric holds, which could be considered time under tension, but rather a dynamic and constant movement. The longer a muscle is stressed under a load, the more hypertrophy we will get. I am not saying that all sets and reps should be slow, but it must be taken into consideration. For hypertrophy, we generally will train in the 6-12 RM range. We will focus on explosive strength (power) and absolute strength as we move into a conjugated system, but even then, we will still focus on getting bigger. This is the beauty of the conjugate system. But that is a different topic. If you are trying to get bigger, vary your reps from week to week in the 6-12 range and vary the tempo as well. I would recommend keeping the sets between 20-70 seconds. There will be more to come on this topic. Stay tuned!