In part 1 of this article I cover the why, as I went through the pertinent information as to when higher volumes might be necessary, and I hinted that logistically specialization cycles might be the best way to safely achieve them. As a brief recap, plateaued poor responders and plateaued advanced lifters might want to consider a higher volume approach (in opinion, defined as 20 sets per muscle group or higher) if everything else is in order (nutrition, technique, effort, exercise selection, sleep, stress etc.). Also, since I wrote Part 1, the soon-to-be-published study exploring very high volumes in trained lifters lead by Schoenfeld and colleagues that I referenced is now published for those interested. This article is all about the how: the process of constructing these cycles. [Read more…]
I am going through a slump right now. I know I should be writing the second installment on blood flow restriction (BFR) training, but instead I am here, getting off track yet again.
Plus, I want the BFR piece to be a good one. I feel this training tool is way too often misunderstood, or not pulled from the arsenal when it is the perfect weapon of choice.
Instead, what I want to talk about is the recent training slump I am currently going through. I have been in such a rut that I even stopped uploading weekly updates to my “Bulking in The Year 3000” series. I am by no means panicking or concerned about the negative emotions surrounding my training though. I see strength training/bodybuilding as my first love, and I have been married to the “old ball and chain” for 19 years now. I imagine most actual real human relationships experience the same ups and downs. Take a couple that has been married for 40 years, I am sure at some point Martha temporarily fell out of love with George. It is no different for me, but I am still no less committed than the day I started.
“Between years 18-21 I couldn’t stand the old fool, and during this time I couldn’t see how I would ever regain the spark we had.” I feel like this is something you might hear Martha say, and right now I relate!
The truth is that in my 19 years of lifting, I have gone through a few phases where I fell out of love with my training. The difference is, back then, I would totally freak out when I felt this way. I still recall being 16 years old and being caught mid-daydream by my disapproving English teacher. My teacher sighed at me, the look in the teacher’s eyes showing they knew nothing could be done about a boy in love. Except my love was the weights. I remember visualizing myself kicking up the 75 lb dumbbells on my top set of incline presses later that day – the idea of that much power was intoxicating. Thus, I was white-knuckling my pen, and the blank look on my face showed I wasn’t paying attention to the lesson. I remember running home after training to get on the all the big message board forums to read everything I could on bodybuilding. I recall waking up excited nearly every morning because at some point, I knew I would get to train. It was like this for the longest time, my great love seemed to grab me and take hold. But eventually the mental droughts happen, and you find yourself in a slump. I’ve had quite a few memorable ones, but there is one that always comes to mind and really puts everything into perspective for me. [Read more…]
We’re fortunate to live in an era where folks like Dr Brad Schoenfeld and other researchers are consistently working on practical research to answer specific questions that lifters want to know. We’re also fortunate that folks like Greg Nuckols and James Krieger are doing analyses outside of the peer reviewed research to keep the community on the cutting edge of data-informed training. [Read more…]
Many of the e-mails and social media private messages that we get are regarding time off from training. Even many of our competition prep athletes write us during some level of panic, asking us what they should do for their training during a vacation, family emergency, injury, medical restricted period, hardship etc. etc. It’s as if the end of the world is coming and even so much as a hiccup in their training schedule will de-rail their gains, and they are only a week or two away from turning into terrible bodybuilder/athlete, or fat slobs with no muscle. It almost seems like they believe they will never be training or lifting weights again.
Now that I’ve been lifting with serious intent for 14 years, and training other people for 13, I’ve noticed a consistent pattern that occurs during the “lifespan” of a serious lifter.
Initially, (especially for those who start reasonably young, say in their teens or twenties) enthusiasm and passion combined with a lack of understanding of what it truly means to commit to a lifetime of lifting, and a lack of knowledge and experience regarding the “diminishing returns nature” of gains over a career, results in some poor decision making among novices. [Read more…]
My current opinion on blood flow restriction training is as follows in the year 2018. I feel that it’s such a valuable tool that all strength athletes should be at least somewhat well versed on how to, and when to apply it. I can’t imagine many ambitious athletes who will not at some point find a reason to pull the BFR card. [Read more…]
What follows is an excerpt from my contribution to a roundtable on overtraining in the most recent issue of Alan Aragon’s Research Review, which by the way, is an amazing body of work that spans a decade of issues. I’ve had the privilege of contributing to the AARR twelve times over the years and I can’t recommend it highly enough for those who want to see how the master engages with the literature: https://alanaragon.com/about-aarr/ [Read more…]
This fall will be my 20thyear in the Iron Game. In that 20 years I have tried at least 100 different “Hacks” in an effort to get my training completed when I didn’t have the ideal set up or machine. I remember in 1998 when the local gym, which ironically I ended up buying, had a brand new Smith Machine. At the time, I was newly diagnosed with my spondylolisthesis and was instructed by my neurologist not to squat until I had my CT Scan done and my results back. So I came up with the idea of using the Smith Bar as a leg press. I did so by laying on the floor, on my back, below the smith bar and putting my feet up on the bar. [Read more…]
With the primary goal of acquiring strength or size, a common secondary aim for most lifters is to manage their body composition by way of monitoring nutritional intake and caloric expenditure manipulation. You can’t be an athlete in strength sport without loving the weights (and probably the food), but it’s just as likely that you hate the cardio as well. [Read more…]
As I mentioned in part one of this blog, knowing the context in all aspects of an athletes’ life is important in order to succeed when training them. This is especially true when it comes to a sport that relies on multiple components of athleticism to achieve high performance, as it requires sufficiently complex training to address many aspects of physical fitness. With these athletes, weight training is only piece of the whole training pie. What better way to learn all the available context than to live with an athlete right? It just so happens this is the specific circumstance I have with my son Xander. [Read more…]