Let me ask you something. Have you ever sat and daydreamed about something that you were going to do, or perhaps something that you may have already done but you wanted to revisit that place so you thought about it in you head? I’m sure you have. Maybe you were about to go on a beach vacation and the days leading up to it you could literally see yourself laying there in the sun, with the sand between your toes, and a cold beer in your hands. Maybe if you were ever in high school, or college athletics and you had a big game or competition approaching you would visualize certain aspects of that game or competition in your head. If so, you were practicing something called mental imagery. When you did this were your thoughts and visions very clear, or were they foggy and uncertain? Were the thoughts and images you were seeing in your head positive or negative? Did they help you or hinder you on the day of your performance? The reason why I’m asking this is because the body truly does believe what the mind achieves. Practicing mental imagery is a real thing and it can have a positive or negative impact on your performance depending on how you choose to use it. As a coach, one of my goals is to be able to let my clients and athletes learn from my mistakes, so they don’t have to make them on their own.
Let’s start by defining mental imagery. Mental imagery is defined as a cognitive psychological skill in which the athlete uses all the senses to create a mental experience of an athletic performance. A person or athlete can simulate reality by mentally rehearsing a movement, imagining visual, auditory, kinesthetic, olfactory, and even exertional cues. Depending on how familiar you are with this process will probably depend on how vivid and detailed your visions are, and whether they will help or hinder you.
I first started to experience mental imagery at a higher level than ever before on my previous two powerlifting competitions. It was actually a pretty crazy experience. I would constantly be thinking throughout the day about my lifts. I would see myself in great detail stepping under the bar to set up for a squat, descending down into the hole and coming back up with great speed and stability. I would see myself setting up for a deadlift, and I would feel the knurling in my hands and a great amount of tension being created throughout my body to be as rigid as possible to complete the lift. This helped me trememdously, although there were times when it would seem to get a little out of hand, and it’s all I would think about and dream about. The more pressure I would feel about hitting a certain number on a lift, or achieving a certain total at a competition, the more I would constantly daydream about the lifts.
Well, I competed in my 6th or 7th meet this past weekend, and for the first time I bombed out. For those of you that may not know what that means, I basically screwed up all 3 of my squat attempts, and was, therefore, disqualified from the rest of the competition. Now, I don’t want to make this article about why my meet didn’t go the way I wanted to, but I want to help people to better understand the power of mental imagery and how you can have it work for you, or against you. For me, there was something that was different about this meet. It was out of town, about a 5 hour drive from home, and only a couple of us from the gym were competing in it. I actually didn’t have to do a water cut or anything like that to get down to my 198 weight class, which I though was pretty cool and that would take off a little stress, even though I was somewhat calorie-restricted the last week or two before the meet.
The thing that was most different about the approach to this competition was my mental game. It just wasn’t what it had been in the past. I wasn’t experiencing as much mental imagery and visions like I had previously. I think what had the most negative effect on me was the negative thoughts and self talk that I had for about the last two weeks prior the the meet. I’m not really sure why I was experiencing that, and every time I did, I would try to shut it out. …But it would always find it’s way back to me. In the back of my head, I knew that this was probably going to have a negative consequence when it came down to game day, and it sure as shit did! I had already set myself up for a bad competition before it had even started. Even if I was trying to visualize myself during a lift, it would usually end with me missing the lift, and for what reason? I knew I could make the lift, I was relatively well-prepared for my competition, and my strength felt like it was the highest it had ever been.
What I should have done was actually set aside a little time each day to practice positive self talk and mental imagery, instead of just half-ass day dreaming about my performance and how I would do. I should have believed more in myself and my abilities to perform on meet day. I shouldn’t have put so much pressure on myself for something that doesn’t really hold any major importance when you consider the universe and how vast it actually is. It probably would have benefited me to reach out to a more experienced lifter to ask how they previously dealt with that situation. Even doing more reading and studying on creating a positive and successful mindset would have helped, but I chose not to do any of that, and it came back for me.
Like I said before, the body believes what the mind achieves, or maybe the body achieves what the mind believes, whatever! Either way it is within your control to practice daily positive self talk and mental imagery to give yourself an advantage on game day. If you are having negative thoughts and imagery, there is a good chance that when it comes down to that clutch play or that last lift that will determine if you bomb or not, you’re probably going to choke and end up screwing yourself. However, if you have done your homework and have honestly implemented positive self talk and very detailed positive mental imagery of you performing in you element, then chances are that you will have a great performance. If you are interested in talking to me more about mental imagery, and are interested in some reading that may help, please feel free to ask.
Man! I have been sucking at getting these things out in a timely manner, but you know what they say…better late then never! So, this next riff comes from who many would consider the godfathers of metal. Damn straight! Black Sabbath! This band holds a dear and special place in my heart. I can remember being in high school and driving around with my two buddies listening to a double live album from them called past lives. We felt unstoppable as we would drive through our town on a Friday night in the summer with the windows down and the music cranked all the way up! I will never forget those times. The thing that I love most about Sabbath is the simplicity. Just about every other metal band around today is basically just playing old Sabbath riffs faster, slower, heavier, or backwards. I have too many songs to choose from that I wanted to play from them, but this is one that I never knew, so I figured I would give it a go. I actually tuned my guitar down two whole steps just to try to re-create the same sound that they had. It’s crazy to believe that a band back in the 60’s and 70’s were playing that heavy. I believe that is what truly gave them suh a unique sound. Anyways, the song I chose was Into the Void. Off of their album Master of Reality which was released in 1971. I’ve got plenty more to come, so crank it up and enjoy some Sabbath on this holy day!
Picture this, you’re at the gym and you see some guy on the bench press. He’s an average looking guy that looks like he may lift, or he may look like he doesn’t even lift, but that’s beside the point. Okay, so he’s benching and is struggling to get some reps in with 135, or perhaps even 185. It’s a little ugly, and there’s a bit of a grind, but he gets his reps. Now this guy is done, and he moves on to do a second movement, something he thinks is either going to help his bench press, or help him to develop more muscle mass. He sits down on the Hammer Strength bench press and plate after plate he loads up on it. He’s up to 4, 45lb plates per side on this machine. Wait, hang on a second! Did you just say 4 45’s per side?! Yes, I did. The guy that could barely bench press 135 for more than 8 reps is now repping 8 plates on the hammer strength chest press. Wow! Impressive huh? Well my friends, that is what we call King of Accessories.
This is something that some of my training partners came up with some time last year to describe someone that thinks they can make up for their lack of strength on the big 3 by going “hard” on some type of accessory movement. The truth is, in strength sports such as powerlifting, nobody is impressed or cares how much you can leg press. It doesn’t matter how much you can curl, or how much you can do on tricep cable pushdowns. In powerlifting, what matters is how much you squat, bench, and deadlift.
Of course there are ways of improving these lifts, and one way is to create more muscle mass. A great way to build up some leg mass is with using the leg press. A simple, yet very effective method for not just building muscle, but strength as well. Here’s where people falter. They load up entirely too much weight and have about a 3 inch range of motion. Again, meet Mr. King of Accessories. This really isn’t doing much for you. Put your ego aside and lighten up the load a little. Remember– nobody cares how much you leg press. Focus on a better range of motion and a better stretch for the legs; it will definitely pay off.
If you want to get bigger and develop more muscle then you need to know when to go heavy, and when to leave your ego at the door. The amount of weight you are using is one way of not only developing more muscle, but also more strength. Typically, a really heavy movement that is meant to build both of these up is best done with a major compound movement, i.e… squat, bench, and deadlift, although there are plenty more variations out there. If you are trying to bring up a lagging muscle group, or you are simply just doing a particular movement that focuses on a certain muscle group, it is imperative that you are able to feel that muscle working. You have to think like a bodybuilder. Don’t misunderstand me here, there are plenty of professional bodybuilders out there that are incredibly strong, especially on the big 3. However, when they are doing a more isolated movement such as a curl or pressdown, they are really focusing on feeling the muscle contracting the weight. You can either choose to do a movement and have only 40% of the intended muscle group working and 60% of other surrounding muscles doing the work, or check your ego, lower the weight and let 95% of the intended muscle group do the work. I can promise you from experience that the latter will pay off ten-fold.
Feeling a muscle contract and isolating it isn’t an easy thing to do, if it were, then almost everyone at your gym would be jacked, and that’s just not the case. However, there are a couple of ways to make this easier on yourself. One way is to have a trainer, friend, or training partner give you what is called proprioceptive feedback on the muscle you are tying to target. In other words, just have them touch or poke the muscle you are trying to work. This has done wonders for my own training, as well as my clients. Another way is to try to pre-exhaust a certain muscle group, so that you can let another muscle group do most of the work in a movement, or keep another muscle group from taking over in a movement. For example, you’re struggling to feel a contraction of your chest. You could start off doing some machine cable flys, followed by some body weight push-ups. After you have done this, your chest should be nice and pumped, then you can move onto some low incline dumbbell bench press. Since you have already pre-fatigued your chest, it will keep you honest and conservative on the weights you are using for the dumbbells. Once you begin you should focus on getting a good stretch in your chest coming down, and pressing back up and squeezing with you pecs, not just driving up with your shoulders and triceps. Give it a shot.
As I said before, isolating and developing a good connection with certain muscle groups is difficult, but can be achieved overtime with practice. Use small weight to train small muscle groups. Put your ego aside and focus on quality contractions with a controlled movement. You don’t want to be crowned the King of Accessories, trust me. If you have any questions in regards to methods involved with building muscle and developing a better ability to isolate certain groups, please feel free to ask. I wish you continued success in your journey of strength and size.
Warning: I pretty much play the whole song. So I did something slightly different in this weeks riff. I re-strung my acoustic guitar after a string broke last week and i thought it would be cool to do my riff unplugged this week. Believe it or not, I really enjoy playing my acoustic guitar. obviously it’s a totally different sound than an electric with a lot of distortion on it, but I’ve always enjoyed the sound. This weeks riff, or shall I say song comes from Alice in Chains. This particular song is off of their MTV unplugged show they did in 1996. The song is titled Over Now. The original track was released on their self titled album in 1995. Just like most of their songs, I fell in love with this one the first time I heard it. I have a slight screw up at the very end but I wasn’t about to redo the whole thing because of that one part. This song is played in an open D tuning, which actually took me forever to figure out because I was looking at the tuning backwards. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this unplugged version because their will probably be more to follow.
I would say that I am still pretty new to the sport of powerlifting. I’ve been doing it for almost 3 years now, but I feel like there are many lessons that can be learned in 3 years. I would like to share a couple of them with all of you in hopes that my lessons may help you in your future endeavors in powerlifting, or perhaps another strength sport. It seems like with most things in life, you learn things the hard way, which usually consists of making mistakes, and then hopefully learning from those mistakes. If I can help just one person bypass a mistake that I’ve already made, then I feel like that is a good thing.
Lesson #1: Just because something goes one way in training does not mean that it will go that way on competition day. I have made this mistake on more that one occasion, and it’s about time that I stopped doing that. Now, you also have the other side of that which is you may be able to pull something off in competition that you weren’t able to in training. Some days are going to be good in training, just like some days are going to be bad in training. This goes hand in hand with life. Sometimes there’s good days, and sometimes you have bad days. The same can be said for competitions; you will have good ones and bad ones. The main takeaway here is just because you hit a certain number on all 3 of your lifts in training doesn’t mean you are promised that number in competition. Nothing in life is promised, not even tomorrow.
Lesson #2: You’re better off training with a group. Trust me on this one. I’ve been with a group since I started powerlifting, and I have added over 200lbs to my squat, 100lbs to my bench, and over 200lbs to my deadlift. Training with a group enables you to be pushed much further than you could ever push yourself. They will force you out of your comfort zone, and they make you do things that you don’t want to do. If you are with a group and they aren’t doing this, leave. Training with a group will also keep you accountable. They aren’t going to let you cheat your reps, or leave something out because that isn’t fair to them if they are doing everything. If I do it, you do it! Plus, it helps to have others there to have your back, both figuratively and literally. You need someone you trust to spot you on big lifts, and you need to have a support system in place so you can talk with others when there is something on your mind. Train with a team, get better!
Lesson #3 Stick to the plan, but also have a backup plan. This has been one of my more recent mistakes. You need to have a goal going into a competition, as well as a plan on how you are going to get there. If you have specific numbers you are trying to hit, make sure they are realistic and not something unrealistic that you wish you could hit. Push yourself every training session to make sure you are one step closer to hitting those numbers. Stick to the plan all the way up to meet day, and especially stick to it on meet day, however have a back up plan. What I mean by this is don’t deviate from your plan just because things may be “feeling better” than they have been. It’s at that moment that you will start to get greedy, then try to hit something higher than you originally planned, and end up missing it and getting lower numbers than you should have. If you do go in with a plan and something backfires or falls through, have a backup plan. Maybe if you were planning to hit a certain total and you have to go 9 for 9 on your lifts, which rarely happens anyways, then try to maybe just hit a nice pr on one of your lifts. You could even do the same thing but backwards. If you were trying to hit a certain number on a lift but missed it, then just try to pull together a nice total pr because, after all as a powerlifter, your total is all that really matters.
Lesson #4 Have a coach or mentor of some sort. This can even relate back to lesson number 2. If you don’t have a team, then at least have a coach, or a mentor who is knowledgeable and won’t feed you false information or feed your ego. Getting a coach is probably one of the single best things you can do for yourself and your lifting. Ask them questions every chance you get so you can learn. If you aren’t learning, then you aren’t progressing. Find someone with experience that not only talks the talk, but walks the walk. You want to find someone who will expose your weaknesses and force you to work on them. It is a coach’s job to make you better and educate you on different ways in which you can do that. Find a coach or mentor and stick with them.
Lesson #5 Don’t give up because it gets hard. This lesson to me can mean many things. In the short time that I have been in powerlifting, I have seen many people come and go. I can only imagine how many people a person has seen come and go that has been in this sport for 20+ years. I think I’ve already come to realize that is just how it goes. Of course you want to give up when it gets hard. Giving up is easy, not giving up is hard. That’s why success and achieving goals is so rewarding and feels so good. You worked your ass off for that. Now, understand that you can still work your ass off and still not be where you want to be, or where you think you should be. The truth is, you’re never going to be where you want to be, so you might as well just enjoy the process and have fun with it. If you aren’t having fun and enjoying yourself, then why are you doing it? Find another hobby. I know plenty of people that have gotten just as much satisfaction out of rock collecting, or sewing. If you find something that you truly enjoy, then you won’t be in a rush to get anywhere, you will just enjoy the process of becoming slightly better then you were before.
Like I said, these are only some of the lessons that I have learned so far. I could honestly write another 5 articles about all I’ve learned and still have plenty more to talk about. I hope these 5 lessons can help some of you at one point or another. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with making mistakes–making mistakes is crucial to making progress and becoming better. I just hope that if you are making mistakes, that you are learning from them. If you have any questions, or would like to share some lessons that you have learned, I would like to hear about them. They just might help me, or another person out in the future.
I suppose there’s no point in me telling you this is another one of my favorites. It’s pretty much safe to say that anything that I’m putting out on this is one of my favorites. I’ve been a metal head for well over a decade now, but it wasn’t until I went to NBS that I was truly exposed to Lamb of God. I always think it’s funny when you always know about a band, but you never really listen to them and when you finally do you wonder why you didn’t so long ago. I guess that’s just how music works, some bands are just an acquired taste. Anyways, I’m not gonna lie, it took me forever to get this down. The tempo at which this band plays is ridiculous, but that’s the way I’ve always liked it. The title of this song is Laid to Rest, and it is off of their 2004 album called Ashes of the Wake. By far one of my favorite albums from LOG. And yes, I am aware that these “riffs” are turning into almost entire songs, but I’m okay with that. It is better for my practice, plus what’s the point of learning a song if you don’t learn it all. Turn it up to 11 and put those devil horns up! \m/ \m/ This is Laid to Rest.
Yes, it is indeed time for another Riff of the Week. This one is a bit more on the classic side then most of the previously released riffs. This is a tune that I have enjoyed ever since the first time I’ve heard it and it’s never gotten old no matter how many times I listen to it. This weeks riff comes from the song The Boys Are Back in Town by Thin Lizzy. It’s off their album Jailbreak, which was released in 1976, a bit before my time. What I really like about this song is the catchy, in your face intro along with the simplistic chord progression of the chorus. This is always a fun one to play! I hope you all enjoy.
While some of you may recall and others may not, “Inspire some Intimidate the Rest” use to be our slogan for NBS Fitness. Now, I could see how having this as your business slogan could lead one to believe that we are in fact an intimidating gym full of intimidating meat heads. However, that being our gym slogan or not, I can guarantee you that we are not an intimidating place. I can still recall the very first time I came to NBS 3 years ago as an intern.
I remember walking into our old building that we were in before our current one and thinking to myself that I had never seen anything like it before. Of course, at that moment I did feel a bit intimidated. I looked around the place and noticed all of the bars on the wall and didn’t have a single clue what any of them were for. That was exactly my problem at the time. I didn’t know anything, and I didn’t know anybody. I stood there with my backpack in my hand looking around with my mouth hanging wide open. It was at that point that our owner, David Allen, looked over at me and said, “Well, are you just gonna stand their like an idiot, or are you gonna put your stuff down and come on!!?” In a bustle, I looked for somewhere to put my stuff, and ran into his office. That was my first day at NBS.
Again, I was experiencing a bit of intimidation that day, only because at that time I really didn’t know David, or this other guy with a mowhawk, or anybody else at the moment. What I’m trying to get at is, if you think that we are an intimidating gym, full of intimidating people, then you really don’t know us yet. These people who when I first met them, and was unsure and perhaps a little intimidated by, would soon become some of the most important and influential people in my life. Fast forward 3 years and most of these people are now really great friends of mine that I see almost every day of the week!
What i’m really trying to say is that if you find yourself coming to NBS for the first time and you feel intimidated, then you should really just take a little time to introduce yourself to anyone you see. Get to know us, and ask questions about things that you don’t know about. I promise in roughly a week or two you will start to sense the community that we try to create for everyone here at NBS. When I was interning, I had another job at a commercial gym here in the city. I could have chosen to leave NBS as soon as I had gotten my hours for the day, and gone to my other gym that I worked at, where I was comfortable and where I knew everyone, where I wasn’t an outsider. Despite all of that, I chose to stick around NBS a little longer to get my training session in. I wanted to get to know all of these like-minded, driven people that were a part of NBS. I wanted to soak up and learn as much as I could from them. I wanted to better myself, and I wanted to help others in the process.
Before I knew it, without even noticing or thinking about it, I wasn’t intimidated anymore. In fact, I thought to myself, “Why was I thinking that in the first place? Everyone here is incredibly nice and only want to see others around them succeed.” I’ve come to learn that the best thing I can do as a coach, is to make a person better than me. Then, and only then, you have truly become a great coach.
I’ll say this. If you do happen to cross paths with someone at our gym that comes across as intimidating, chances are they don’t even belong there. In fact, most of the time these people have a way of weeding themselves out of our gym. There is no place for anyone like that at NBS. Our goal is to watch you grow and develop not only as a lifer, or whatever your training interests may be in, but also as a person.
I urge you, if you’re new to NBS and you feel a little intimidated, it’s only because you haven’t had the opportunity to get to know the great people that are a part of our community. Take the time to shake some hands and tell us about yourself and what has brought you to our gym. We are not intimidating, and we are glad to have you.
I competed this past weekend in my 6th powerlifting competition. I’ve been training for powerlifting for about 2 years and 8 months now, and I was just able to reach elite status for the 198lb weight class in the Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS) federation (raw modern). It felt really great to finally hit a goal that I’ve been chasing for a while now. I ended the day with a 1494 total, and went 8/9 on all 9 of my lifts. My best lifts were a 585 squat, a 320 bench, and a 590 deadlift. The original plan leading up to the meet was to hit a 600lb squat. My second attempt was fairly easy, and that was my 3rd attempt from my last meet. We were dealing with kilo plates at this particular meet, and for myself it was the first time I’d ever used them. When I went to tell the judges table my 3rd attempt, I had a couple of people in my ear telling me how easy my last looked, and that I should go more then 6, well I listened and that was probably a mistake. The time came for my 3rd and I got set under the bar and went for it, as soon as I hit the hole and started to come up I lost my brace and started to drift forward, which is exactly what happens every time I miss a squat. Anyways, I was really bummed that I missed it because I had been wanting that number for quite some time. I knew I had to forget about it and keep my head in the game, I still had 6 more lifts to go. Moving onto bench things were feeling good warming up. It’s always slightly ackward warming up in the power racks because I always bench on our competition bench, but I know by now that is just one of the many different things you deal with on meet day. Again, the kilos were weird, so I took my opener at 297, easy like it should be. I went 314 for my second, which was what I was hoping for leading into the meet. Anything over that would’ve been a pr so I kept it conservative, instead of being greedy like I was on squats and went the next weight up which was 320, (or 319. something to be exact.) I had done about a 12lb water cut the day prior to the meet,so I was starting to deal with some cramps, especially in my back while benching. I hit my 3rd attempt with maybe a tiny bit left in the tank, but when I racked it my back cramped up probably worse then it ever has before. All I could do was lay there for a couple of seconds before finally getting up and going over to the chairs by the platform to lay on the ground for a moment…lol. Bench was done and I’d hit a small pr, now it was time for deadlifts. At my last meet I felt like I was running out of gas by the time they had gotten around, so I made sure to have just a little bit of caffeine and a bagel to keep fueled. Trying to warm up for the 3rd flight of deadlifts was an absolute disaster! At first there was only one bar to warm up on, so a couple of us figured it would be better to get another one to make things run a little faster. Once we had the two bars rolling, things were going a little faster, then it was time. I took my opener at 540. It was easy like an opener is supposed to be. I believe I needed at least 570 to hit my elite total, and that was what I had planned to take as my 2nd attempt. After all, I had hit in in training more than once with more left in the tank. I know that you won’t always hit on the platform what you hit in training, but I knew it was there. My name was called and I had everyone in the room screaming at me. Right when I approached the bar the music stopped, but it didn’t matter to me. I was zoned in, I knew that I had to hit this, there was no reason not to, and I wasn’t going to have a repeat of my last meet on deadlifts. It came up like butter, I had finally gotten my Total. At that point it almost didn’t even seem real. I had one more deadlift to go, anything after that would’ve just been “icing on the cake” as they say. I tried to make a jump that wasn’t too big, but not too small either. I really felt like I had nothing to lose at that point. Some people might say I should’ve just gone 600, but would that have been me trying to be greedy again? I kept it somewhat conservative and went for 590. My name was called and I approached the bar, this time the music actually kept playing, still surrounded by everyone yelling at me with support. I went for it, as I was pulling it up I could start to feel a bad cramp starting in my glute/hamstring area, but I wasn’t going to let off. 3 white lights! I hit it! It was a damn good way to end that meet, especially when you compare it to how my last meet went at the end and I screwed myself from getting the total I wanted. Even though I would consider this a successful meet, there were still many lessons learned, one of them being one that I learned all the way back in elementary school, which was don’t give into peer pressure…lol! Thank you to everyone that came out that day to help with the meet and show your support for all of the lifters.
1st attempt squat
Pull out your boots, metal studded leather jacket, and tame your mange. It’s time for another riff of the week. This weeks riff is actually something that I’ve learned just recently. It’s from another one of my top 5 favorite bands and although this song was one of their hits, I tend to be more fond of their more obscure tracks. This one is a classic and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. This weeks featured riff is from the song titled Them Bones by Alice in Chains. This song comes from their second album called Dirt, which was released in 1992. Sorry about my thick thighs.
What?! Seriously?! It’s already time for another face melter Bobby? Yes! Yes it is! Bringing you another smoking hot riff from yet another one of my all time favorite bands. I’ve got tons of those. Anyways, this riff of the week is brought to you by none other than the one and only Pantera. Pantera was a groove metal band out of Texas who’s first major album came out in 1989 titled Cowboys from Hell. However, the song that I have chosen my riff for is off of their second album, which was released in 92 called Vulgar Display of Power. The song I have picked for this week is titled Mouth for War. Lead singer Phil Anselmo says that this song is about channeling your hate into something productive. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Now turn it up to 11.
And here is the original studio version of Mouth for War.
Let me ask you a question. Do you ever find yourself getting distracted from doing the things that you need to do to become the best possible version of yourself? I know that for myself, it is a never-ending struggle to stay on track towards reaching my goals and even completing simple tasks, such as cleaning up and doing the laundry. In this day and age, it seems like the distractions are everywhere. I get distracted from my phone, Facebook, Instagram, the T.V. and the list goes on forever. I would have preferred to scroll through Facebook instead of starting this article. Seriously, I am the master of procrastination. I will put things off until the absolute last minute, and I can’t stand the fact that I do that.
Yesterday, I was training one of my clients, and I started to ask her what she thought I should write about. I then started telling her how I put everything off until the last minute, and how I always have so many things that I need to get done that I just become overwhelmed by. Surprisingly, she told me that it was obvious why I felt that way. I was looking at everything I had to do with tunnel vision; I was seeing it all at one time, and it was overwhelming to me. It made me not even want to start any of the tasks before me. My client owns her own labeling company, and from my perspective she seems to have experienced a bit of success in her life. With that in mind, I asked her what she does to stay on top of things. I asked her if she kept a to-do list, and she said she does. However, a to-do list isn’t the end all be all to staying on track towards success and becoming the best version of yourself.
She then started to tell me how I’m already on track towards becoming the best version of myself. I’ve chosen to surround myself with like- minded people, who, in one way or another, have experienced success. Now, for those people to get to that point, they had to face struggles in their pursuit to becoming the best version of themselves and achieving what their idea of success was. Part of these struggles that the people that I’m surrounded by probably included becoming constantly distracted by even the smallest of things. It always makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one who faces hard times in becoming the person that you want to be.
So, what’s better than a to-do list? Staying focused on 3 main goals that equal success. The first goal is accessibility. What does this mean? Accessibility means being available to many people, so you don’t ever miss an opportunity. For myself, I need to make sure that I am readily available to all of my clients, as well as anyone else in my life who may need me. Something as simple as missing an email could mean missing the opportunity of a lifetime. Even if its something small like missing a text, these things start out as small, bad habits, but soon grow into major problems. Always stay accessible.
The second goal is reliability. This means to always do what you say you will do, even if you don’t feel like it. I can’t tell you how many times I have just skipped out on doing something, or put it off to the very last minute because I didn’t feel like doing it. Get your lazy butt up and do what you say you are going to do! Did you ever have a friend that was unreliable and you always told yourself, “Man! I’m glad to have that person as a friend!” No, I doubt you did. So, I will work on being a more reliable person and friend.
The last goal is velocity. Weird, right? What I mean by velocity is performing any task in a quick, but quality-focused manner. The faster you do things effectively, the more you are able to take on. If you have something to do, don’t drag it out forever. Get it done! For myself, this means to not piddle and let things like my phone and Facebook distract me when I need to write a program, blog, or an article. I cannot even count the times I stare mindlessly at my phone, and before I know it an hour is gone. Boom! I just wasted an hour of time when I could have already finished two tasks I needed to complete.
I believe that this process is much more effective than sitting around thinking about everything I need to get done, getting overwhelmed, scrolling Facebook, then deciding to take a nap because I’m just too stressed to do anything. For most people, their idea of success is being able to live the life that they want by working in a profession that they enjoy. I’m still working on achieving the life I want, but I certainly enjoy my profession. It’s days like yesterday and conversations like the one I had with my client that make me really love what I do. I learn something new almost everyday. If you’re not learning, then you’re not living.
I hope that you can find ways to apply these 3 goals to your life and be on your way to becoming closer to your idea of success, and the best possible version of yourself. These 3 goals should work for anyone no matter what field they are in. The concept is always the same. Staying true to these 3 goals is much easier than having a lengthy, overwhelming, never-crossed-off to-do list.
Time to get your face melted off once again! This one comes from one of my favorite bands of all time. If you don’t know the band, or the song, I question whether or not you’re a true metal head at heart. I actually surprised myself at how fast I was able to pick this tune back up. It’s been ages since I played it and I remember even when I first learned it that it was quite a challenge as far as getting the timing and the beat right for everything. Even in this video I have about two screw ups, but I’ll take it. I hope you all enjoy this weeks edition of Riff of the Week
This song is titled Lepper Messiah, and is off of Metallica’s 3rd studio album called Master of Puppets, which was released in 1986, and yes. That was in fact before my time, just before my time.
Here is the studio version of this song from the Master of Puppets album.
I hope that was a catchy enough title to get you to click on this. Lol! I haven’t shared any training on here in quite a bit, so here is what I’ve been up to for the past couple of months in training. We’re in prep for the 2nd Memphis Classic and it’s gonna be a good one. As always there is are some minor differences in our training each and every cycle. I would say it hasn’t been quite as fancy as our last prep for King of spring. This has been more raw and bare boned, hasn’t been a lot of variations and accommodating resistance like there was in our last cycle. You’ll see that we’re still sticking to our triphasic roots with some eccentrics and isometrics, but just some slight changes. After our transition phase we progressed into heavy triples on a low box for squats and floor press for our heavy days, then heavy double to a low box with the yoke bar and a 2 board press for bench, Medium and light days have had eccentrics as well as pauses and progressed from 6 to 5 reps on medium days, and 9 to 8 reps on light days. Just watch.
Okay! So, if you follow along with any of my posts at all you may have recently seen the one about me trying to get back into playing guitar. I figured one way I could keep myself accountable and also share some of it with all of you is to start doing a riff of the week. Basically, I’m just going to be playing some riffs from some of my favorite songs, and occasionally some other parts. Sometimes, Like in this blog, I’m going to post the band and what song it is, while other times I may leave it up to you all to try and guess what the song is. I hope you enjoy this little tid bit from one of my favorite bands, Lamb of God, Song titled Omerta. Video is about a minute long.
Whoever appeals to the law against his fellow man is either a fool or a coward. Whoever cannot take care of himself without that law is both. For a wounded man shall say to his assailant, “If I live, I will kill you. If I die, you are forgiven.” Such is the rule of honor.
From Lamb of God’s 2004 album titled Ashes of the Wake.
The actual song below in it’s entirety.
Do you have anything in your life that you are working towards right now? Have you ever set goals and reached them because it gave more of a purpose to what you were doing? If you train, do you train with a purpose? Do you have a reason for the things that you put yourself through on a day-to day-basis? Personally, when I have a specific goal in mind, I feel that I can train at a much higher level each session, as opposed to feeling like I am simply just going through the motions. Now, I’m not saying that everyone has to train for a bodybuilding show, a powerlifting competition, a marathon, or a tough mudder, etc. What I am saying is that from what I have observed so far from being around goal-oriented people is that they possess the ability to train and perform with more purpose and passion, and can push much further than individuals who don’t.
This is something that I have noticed more frequently among people at our gym, as well as others that I follow on social media. For example, I have watched our gym owner go from being a powerlifter, to a bodybuilder, and now a crossfitter! If you told me a year ago that David Allen would be doing crossfit, I would have laughed in your face, although I do still laugh a little now. Joking. In all seriousness, When David decided he was going to drop out from a powerlifting meet, I slowly began to see him lose interest in training. He didn’t really seem to have anything that he was working towards anymore, and you could see it reflect in his attitude towards training. Don’t get me wrong, as a business owner, it can probably become difficult to keep training a priority especially when you start to take an interest in other hobbies. However, a group of members at the gym are planning on doing a Tough Mudder in a couple of months, and I can tell it has sparked a passion to train hard again in many of these members. I have particularly noticed that David has become more disciplined in his training, and is running multiple times a week. Yes, you heard right! David Allen is running. David is a very goal-oriented person, and when a people set goals, it gives them something to work towards.
I can tell you that during my last training cycle, I set a goal early on in the year to hit a certain total at my competition, and it gave me a tremendous amount of drive to give it my all in every training session. I experienced many things during this prep that I have never experienced before. For example, I would experience visualization cues multiple times throughout the day of me lifting and they would occur all the way up until I would lay my head on my pillow for bed, and sometimes I would even dream about them. These visions weren’t just vague, general things, they were extremely detailed and felt almost as if they were real. I felt honed in on my lifting in a way that I never had before. Unfortunately, in the end I didn’t reach the goal that I had set for myself, but I didn’t have a terrible day either.
The point that I’m trying to drive home here is that I made a goal that I was intent on reaching, and in doing so, I was able to reach a higher level of training than I had ever experienced before. Not hitting that goal has only made me want it more. When I see other people set goals and work their butts off to achieve them, it inspires me to work even harder towards my goals. There is definitely something to be said for surrounding yourself by like-minded individuals to help you better reach your goals. When you are constantly around goal-oriented people, it only pushes you harder to set, and possibly even exceed your goals.
Again, I don’t want anyone to think that I am bashing them if they don’t have any physical goals set like a competition of some sort. Some people use the gym as an escape from their everyday life. It’s a relief for them, keeps them sane, and let’s not forget about the health benefits of staying active and physically moving. By all means, If you’re just training for health and to feel good, then keep on keeping on.
I pose a challenge to anyone that is reading this to set a goal for themselves. I want you to set a short-term and a long- term goal, and write out how you are going to reach both of those goals. Perhaps your short-term goal will bring you one step closer to reaching your long-term goal. Your goal can be anything. Drinking a gallon of water a day, getting an extra hour of sleep, reading a new book each month, or adding 50lbs to your squat. I want you to do this, and tell me about it. I want to know how setting this goal is going to help you work that much harder in reaching it. If you already have something that you do on a daily basis, I want you to put a reason and purpose behind it, and see if it doesn’t push you to work even harder at it. I want you to set a goal and reach it, and if you don’t I want to know why you think you didn’t.
I’ve been taught that when setting a goal, it is very helpful to use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. Make your goal something that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. These are great guidelines to use when setting a goal to make sure you can reach it. I hope that in doing this you can unlock some new potential within yourself to achieve things that you may have otherwise thought were impossible.
So, I just recently returned from my first vacation in almost a year! My better half and I took a trip on a 5 day cruise to the West Caribbean to Costa Maya and Cozumel. As always, this vacation offered some much needed time off from the real world. I haven’t been on a cruise since 2003, so it’s been quite some time for me, and it was my girlfriends first time experiencing it. The ship was massive and had endless entertainment for all passengers for the duration of the trip. One of our favorite places was the serenity deck at the very back of the ship, which was set aside for adults 21 and over. These cruises are certainly family friendly, so that goes without saying that there were plenty of children on this ship so it was nice to have our own little escape.
We met a few couples and families during our time and shared a couple of stories back and fourth to each other. I can recall on the 3rd day that we were on the ship. We were approaching Costa Maya, which was our first destination and we were on one of the top decks looking out into the horizon. There was a middle aged man that was standing next to the rail, and decided to strike up a conversation. He and I were talking about how we could see some land in the distance. As we got closer, it became more and more visible. He looked at me and said, “you know”, these waves dont’ really look like it, but if you were down in the water they’d probably be about 6 or 7 feet high.” I nodded my head and agreed with him. ” you know?” he said. “Its probably about a hundred foot drop off the ship into the water from here.” Again I nodded to agree with”Um, I think we may still be in the Gulf of Mexico, or actually the Caribbean Sea.” My girlfriend nodded and said, “no, I think this is the Mediterranean.” I looked at her and him, and just agreed. Soon after he walked away, and I looked at her and said, “you do realize this isn’t the Mediterranean?” She said she did, but she just wanted him to feel like he was right and for us to avoid an argument with this guy as to where we were geographically. You just never know what type of people you are going to encounter on these trips.
We had a little bit of rainy weather here and there, but all in all it was a much needed and relaxing vacation, and I can’t wait for our next one! It’s taken me just a little bit to get used to not being out on the sea, and I still slightly feel as if I’m on a swaying ship, but it’s gotten better everyday. I am already looking forward to my next trip, and another guy not knowing where in the hell he actually is.
So yea, that’s basically what I’m trying to do here. Some of you may or may not know that I started playing the guitar around the time I was 14 years old, just like every other teenage boy who need a way to impress the ladies. Seriously, I started playing around that time and kept with it for about 7 to 8 years after that. Eventually, it stated to fade and I started to have less and less time for something that I really enjoyed doing.
For me, playing guitar was kind of like going to the gym to train. It was a way for me to take my mind off of everything else that was going on in my life and push off some stress. I would go through periods of time when I would play almost everyday and get really good, then go through periods of time when I wasn’t able to play as often and my ability to play would suffer as a consequence. Since high school I’ve always had many friends that knew how to play other instruments. whether it be guitar, bass, or drums and occasionally I would try to do a little picking with them.
Music has always played a major role in my life and I always felt even more connected to it when I could actually play, or even play along with many of the bands that I enjoy listening to. There’s something to be said when you can actually play the music that you like. I feel as if you almost hear it differently than people who don’t play any type of instrument. Now, I doubt there’s really anything to that, but maybe some people who are reading this and do play know what I’m saying.
Anyways, I went to guitar center for the first time in probably years yesterday and purchased a couple of pairs of new guitar strings, acoustic and electric, as well as some new picks. Also, I got a book that transcribes all of Lamb of Gods Ashes of the Wake. I know, I’m setting my sights pretty high on my ability to play so well when it’s been so long since I have been serious about it, but hey, why not?
I would like to be able to set aside maybe and hour a couple of times a week to devote to playing and learning some new stuff. whether it be new songs, or re-learning the infinite amount of chords and scales that there are to play on. There are a lot of people out there who probably wish they could play an instrument, and I at least some capability to do it, so why should I let it go to waste? Who Knows, maybe 10 years from now you’ll hear me on the radio…lol! Not!
I will try to post again about this in the future, and may even include some videos of my progress if I feel they are worthy of your viewing.
In the short time that I have been involved in strength training and powerlifting, there are many things that I’ve noticed throughout that time, and something that sticks out more than most of the atrocities that I come across. That is the act of “program hopping”. Yep, I’m talking about your friend that in one month is on 5-3-1, the next month is on Conjugate, and the next month is doing the Bulgarian Method. Your buddy begins to wonder why he never progresses in his strength endeavors, and places blame on the program themselves. The thing about strength programs is that you have to give them time. Just like you need to give a coach time to get accustomed to you and how your body reacts to a certain stimulus, such as how well you recover and how much total work volume you can take before you start digging yourself in a deeper hole than you can get out of.
Running a certain program for 3 to 6 weeks and not hitting a PR during that cycle isn’t a good way to judge whether or not a program is working for you. As I’m sure you’ve all heard before, building strength is a long-term goal. One doesn’t go from benching 135 to 500 overnight. Now, hopefully that is not the way that you thought people who benched 500 pounds got that way. I am still learning myself that these things take time. Try not to look at things from a weekly perspective, or even a monthly perspective, but where will you be strength-wise in another year? If your current 1 rep max on bench press is 300lbs, and you find a style of training that can add 15lbs to your bench every year, then in 6 years you’ll be 10lbs shy of a 400lb bench. In 10 years you will be pressing 450lbs! That’s some pretty good progress if you ask me.
The thing that you have to realize is that there are a ridiculous number and variety of programs out there to choose from, and you cannot expect one out there to magically give you the numbers that you dream about hitting. What really matters is that you choose a program and stick with it for longer that 4 to 6 weeks. Run a program for a year, and then see what has it done for you. Even if it doesn’t make you stronger, at least you now know that this particular program is not right for you. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work for everyone, it just means that it didn’t for you.
Another thing I would like to mention is that it isn’t always the program. Sometimes it’s you. If you’re just picking and choosing what you want to do and don’t have any type of consistency in your training, well duuhhh! Of course it isn’t working, you aren’t even doing it! Additionally, there are numerous factors that contribute to whether or not you come out stronger after running a program for a period of time. Are you eating only twice a day? Do you only get 4 hours of sleep a night? Do you train with any type of intensity, or are you a timid, and scared lifter? Do you have training partners, and if so, do they push you outside of your comfort zone to make you a better lifter? These are just a few things that can help to determine just how well a program will work for you. Like I said, the biggest factor is that you are on a program, and you are sticking with it.
Obviously there are changes that you can and will need to make eventually. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Law of Accommodation. I’m not going to make this a scientific article and plunge into that topic, but your body will adapt at some point to the stressors that you are putting on it and will need a change. Once you’ve run a program for an extended period of time, think about what some of your weak points are and how you can make changes in the program to target them. It is through this process that you can begin to find out what works for you, and develop your own style. You can put your own twist on things. My coach has had me on the same type of programming for almost two years now. There have been small changes made here and there throughout the training cycle, but I’ve stuck with it. In this time, I have been able to add almost 250lbs to my total. Now, a good bit of that probably has to do with me still being fairly new to the sport of powerlifting, but you can’t argue with numbers.
I will admit, there have been times in that almost two year period that I have said how sick I am of doing this particular type of training, and how I wish I could do something new. In the long run, I stuck to my guns and kept going, and it has paid off to do so. Sometimes if you think a program isn’t working for you, you need to take a step back and determine if every other factor is in check, and give the program a little more time before you decide to ditch it and move onto the next. Just my opinion.
Iv’e had a couple of people ask lately what we’ve been doing with out training, so I figured what better way then to show some recent videos of our transitional phase. We are now out of our gpp phase and are back on a 9 day microcycle with light, heavy, and medium days. However, we are still keeping our rep schemes pretty high and still aren’t doing anything like doubles and triples, still not time for that yet. This is the period of time that we are making the transition back to working with increasingly heavy weight. In addition to this, we are still keeping some conditioning work in our routine as well. Gotta stay fit! Hope you enjoy the videos to the sweet sound of Gojira, song title is Stranded, and it’s off their newest album. The only video that is missing is my medium competition bench day, last working weight on that day was 225x3x9.
While some people fear change, others welcome it. When it comes to your training, conistency is good, but variation can be great. When a person first begins training, it’s true what they say, stick to the basics. That means if you want to learn how to squat, bench, deadlift, and overhead press, then that’s what you need to do. Try to follow something simple like a 3×10, 5×5, or a 5-3-1 program. That way you are at least following a structured program and can keep track of your progress along the way. If you want to get better at those lifts, then those are the lifts you need to be focusing on.
Eventually there will come a time when you may start to stall out a bit, or they may even go down. When this happens, you need to take a step back and reflect on everything you are doing. Ask yourself, am I training on a consistent and regular basis? Am I keeping my recovery in check? You must take nutrition, sleeping, and managing stress into account as well. Believe it or not, all of those factors have a huge impact on your training.
The next area you should reflect on is technical proficiency. Are you breaking down in a certain lift because of improper technique? Is it due to a lack of strength within a certain area of your body? (upper back, lower back, glutes, etc.) Are you having pain in certain joints, or other parts of your body that are causing you issues?
When one or more of the above start happening, you may benefit from changing things up. Adding some variation into your training will help you to continue progressing in your lifting endeavors. What do I mean when I say change and variation? Well, this can come in many different forms. If you’ve been getting injured consistently and have been training heavy on a barbell for 5 to 8 months straight, maybe it’s time to give your joints a break and start doing some more unilateral, single joint, isolation work. Body-weight exercises, mobility, flexibility, and even conditioning work. You’d probably be surprised to find out just how challenging all of that is.
Another option would be the use of specialty bars, which we have an abundance of here at NBS. If you have issues falling forward in the squat on a regular straight bar, you could try doing close stance box squats with the yoke bar. Many have benefitted from a change like this time and time again, considering all other factors are in check. If you keep missing a bench press at lockout, then try doing some 3 or 4 board pressing depending on where you are missing your press at. Cycle in movements like these for 3 to 4 weeks at a time, and see if they can help you out at all. Doing shortened, or extended range of motion training can help with sticking points. Don’t just do these things because you think they look cool, do them with a purpose in mind, and you should always have a reason.
Another example of adding some variation would be to use bands, or chains. Chains can be used to train you bodys natural strength curve and teach you to continue accelerating through the entirety of the movement. Bands can offer an overloaded eccentric, which can be great for building more muscle, or for developing greater concentric force. Again, just make sure you have these set up correctly. There are many resources to help you out with this, including the coaching staff here at NBS.
Speaking of building muscle, perhaps that would be a good route to go if your are lacking size in certain areas. Building up your legs, back, and arms can give you great leverages for moving more weight. Hypertrophy training can even be great for building up your work capacity for when you do decide to start lifting hard and heavy again. Another plus is that it’s not so taxing on your central nervous system (CNS), which could be fried if you’ve been going hard and heavy constantly for 6 to 8 months, hence the reason why you may be injured, or stalling out.
Another great option for adding in some variety to your program would be to change up your movements. For example, instead of always doing back squats, do front squats. Instead of always doing flat bench, try an incline bench, instead of a barbell, use dumbbells. As I mentioned earlier, you can always use the specialty bars. If your shoulders feel beat up, try the Yoke Bar for squatting, or the Swiss Bar for pressing. These are things that you can cycle in for 3 to 4 weeks at a time. Your possibilities are literally endless.
Whatever you do, just choose to do it right and do it with a purpose. Chances are your body is craving some change, so give it what it needs. Give it some variation. Expose it to a new stimulus for a new adaptation to occur, and when you do adapt, change things up again. Keep yourself and your body out of your comfort zone. Doing so should help to keep you out of a rut, and continuing to progress. I hope this bit of information helps out any of you who may be experiencing a lack of progress, or constant injuries. If you have any questions about how you can add some changes and/or variation to your training, please post in the comments section or feel free to email me at email@example.com.
Yep, that’s exactly how I feel every time we do a GPP phase. For those who aren’t familiar with this, Gpp stands for general physical preparation. This is typically something we do when we have just finished competing in a competition. Our bodies are all beat up, and our joints are achy. This is the perfect time for us to keep our hands off of a barbell, and stick to doing more unilateral movements with higher sets and reps. Isolation, as well as multi-joint movements are good, but it also helps to throw in some conditioning work too. Most powerlifters run out of breath just walking up some stairs, or even across the gym so it would help to do some hiit work like prowler sprints, or battle ropes, kettlebell swings, or concept rowers. The heart is a muscle too and deserves to be worked as much as any other in your body. When individuals have a long, heavy, and grueling training cycle for a big meet, and then go straight back in to heavy training afterwards, you are just asking for an injury to happen. Do yourself and your body a favor and give it 3 to 4 weeks to recover with some gpp before you get back to the heavy stuff. Even after this phase is finished, you might still stay away from doing heavy triples, doubles, and singles. Keep things in the 5, or higher range for bigger movements like squat, bench, and deadlifts. We like to pretend we are bodybuilders for a month or two and try to build up a bit of muscle before transitioning back to a strength phase.
Our current GPP phase is a 4 day a week program with a lower, upper, lower, upper set up. Day 1 has some lower body hip mobility work with about 10 prowler sprints afterwards, followed by some stretching. Day 2 has some upper body shoulder mobility work with a 2000 meter row on the concept rower. Day 3 starts with some sled walks, and more unilateral hip work-i.e.-sinlge leg squats, hip bridge, leg curls, etc. Day 4 is basically machine based upper body unilateral presses and rows. This type of work is going to help build up our work capacity for the destruction that is awaiting us. If you see me laying on the gym floor in the coming weeks, now you know why.
Hopefully this will help some of you out when trying to figure out what to do with yourself post meet time. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns on this matter, I would love to hear from you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just post in the comment section below.
The King and Queen of Sping meet has now come and gone. That’s another training cycle in the books, another competition under the belt, and another opportunity to learn from my mistakes and yes, mistakes were made.
For the most part, I would say that I had a pretty descent training cycle, even earlier on my bench was feeling pretty solid and I thought for sure I would be hitting some new numbers on that particular lift. Our training cycle this go round was even slightly different from any that we have had in the past, although some things were the same, they’re were some changes here and there.
Getting back to the meet, I was competing in the 198 class this time, which was a weight class lower than my meet last September. I had to make about a 5lb weight cut that actually had me .2lbs over on weigh in day! I put on a sauna jacket, my hoodie and made my way to the stairmill for 15 minutes. When I was done I had sweated out another pound and was good to go. I spent the rest of that day eating and hydrating for the next morning.
Meet day was here and I felt as ready as I was gonna be. I arrived at the gym, got my gear, spoke with my teammates briefly and began to warm up with some light band work. Afterwards we had our meeting and things got started. There were only two flights at this meet that were basically female in the first and males in the second. I knew things were gonna fly pretty fast in the first flight, especially since a good bit of the female lifter were not using wraps. Most of the guys started warming up when the first flight was getting started. All of my warm ups felt pretty solid on squats. My last warm up was 510, and my opener was 540, and they both went well. My second attempt was 565, this was the last heavy squat I took in our peak. I knew it was there, I just had to do it again, and I did fairly easy. This entire cycle I had my eyes set on a 585 squat because I knew that if I was going to secure the total that I was trying to reach, then I would at tleast need that. I made sure to make my wraps extra tight, which reminds me that this was my first meet that I did all of my wrapping on my own, no handler and no one to push the slack out of them. I would say that worked out pretty well for myself because I didn’t have to worry about whether or not someone was going to screw up my wraps, or time it wrong. I was called for my third attempt and I appraoched the bar in my ritualistic way that I always do. I pulled myself under, got my breath and stood up with it, immediatly went down when the commad was given. When I was on the descent about to hit the hole, I felt my hips shift forward, and I slightly went onto my quads. I kept my belly tight against my belt, pushed my knees out and was able to overcome the shift and I made the lift! I was pretty damn happy after this. A couple of people approached me and told me that it looked like I had 600 in me, that may have been the case, but I wasn’t willing to test things that early in the meet, besides that was a 45lb pr from my last meet. Now it was time to eat, and get ready to bench.
Bench was something that I wasn’t too worried about because my bench sucks anyways, and I knew that was not what was going to build my total. I started having issues around our peaking with my butt staying on the bench when I went to drive the weight off my chest. In the past I haven’t really had any issues with this until now. During the last few weeks of training it was kinda getting in my head and I was missing lifts that I knew I should’ve been hitting. I changed my foot positionong a bit to try and keep it from happening, but it just didnt feel comfortable. By the time the meet came around I told myself that I would just be happy if I could hit my last meets best which was 315. When I took my opener at 295 it moved slow and almost got away from me going forward. I sat up and kinda laughed out loud and thought to myself “shiiiit.” My plan was to go 305, and 315 for my last. I took my second attempt and it moved even slower than my opener, but I got it. By this time I knew that 315 probably wasn’t going to make it, in a way I had already pretty much mentally defeated myself on it. Again, I knew I didn’t NEED it but I sure as hell was gonna give it a shot. I got on the bench,set up, brought it out and down to my chest, when I recieved the press command I gave it all I had but it only went about an inch off of my chest and stayed there while I struggled until the spotters took it, no lift! I did’nt let it get to me because I knew I had to keep myself together for deadlifts, that was gonna get me my total.
After bench I had a shake with a bagel and some peanut butter, a staple for my nutrition during my meets. This is usually the time during a meet that I start to feel a little run down, and is typically the point at which I give myself a little caffeine boost. When I went to get my shake I thought about getting a monster, but for one reason or another, I didn’t. Once the time came I started to warmm up for deads and things were feeling okay. Not good, not bad, but just okay, which was good enough for me. I had set my opener at 545 and had told myself that if it moved easy I was gonna go ahead and jump up to 585 because that was the exact number I needed for my total. My mane was called and I took my opener, it moved smooth and with ease. I went to the judges table to set my second attempt. When I approached I was told by one of them that 545 was not what was actually on the bar. I kinda panicked and flipped out. “What the hell was it” I asked in a kind of assholish way, (sorry Ali.) Turns out it was 535. In that moment, my mind started to rush and all I could think about was 585 and how badly I needed to hit it. I was blinded by that number and started to think irrationally and the next thing I blurted out was 585, I took the jump and there was no turing back now. The time came for my second and I approached the bar as I always do on deadlifts, I felt a bit more calm than I needed to. I went to pull for what seemed like forever and the bar never broke the ground! Now I was in trouble. If I didn’t hit my 3rd attempt I was not going to reach my goal that I had set for myself. I went to take a set because I was feeling really tired at this point. My girlfriend was sitting across the platform from me, and I could tell that she knew I was somewhat lost in my thoughts. I also must have looked about as tired and run down as I felt because just a couple of minutes later she walked up to me and handed me a monster energy drink. I asked her if I looked tired and she replied with a prompt yes. I started to drink the monster, but I didn’t down it because I didn’t want to get jittery, or have a belly full of monster on my last attempt. The time came and it was now or never. I had one of my friends give my some hype, a little ammonia and I nice slap on the back of the neck. I’ve never missed a deadlift with that combo, but you know what they say, there’s a first time for everything. And it was, once again the weight didn’t even budge and just like that it was over. If I had any common sense left in my brain when I went to tell my second attempt, I probably would’ve gone 565, then 585.
With all of this being said I guess the lesson to take away here is to always have a plan B. If you can’t hit your total, at least you can plan to hit a nice pr on a particular lift. Just because you plan to hit a certain number doesn’t mean that it’s going to happen. Anything can happen on meet day, so be prepared and have a back up plan. Above all else, remember to have fun! If you’re not doing that, then why the hell are you there?
Thank you to everyone who made this meet run as smoothly as it did, thanks to all of my training partners, coaches, my wonderful girlfriend, as well as my family members that came out to watch.
I feel like we all sound like broken records with our talk about nutrition, dieting, cardio, and everything else that goes hand-in-hand with shedding weight and leaning out. Well, I’m going to “weigh in” on the issue. See what I did there?
Now, do you want to lose weight? That seems to be what the majority of people want to do these days, and it is what I hear from several people who have done one-on-one training with me. This is for good reason seeing as we have an obesity epidemic coupled with childhood obesity on the rise here in the U.S. My question to you is, how do you plan on losing weight in every other aspect of your life than just meeting your trainer a couple times a week? This is one of the biggest misconceptions that I see working as a trainer; people don’t always take into account the amount of effort and sacrifice that is necessary in the hours spent outside of the gym. The honest truth: the challenge isn’t going to be what you have to do in the gym for that hour or hour and a half. The challenge is going to be what you have to do when you leave the gym and go to work. The challenge will be when all of your co-workers are eating some sort of crap that was catered in for lunch, or when you all go out to eat for that business lunch, and you have to choose something that will fit into your prescribed macronutrients. The challenge will be when you get off work and your friends or co-workers want to go out for dinner and drinks. The challenge will be when you go and visit your family for a special occasion, and they don’t understand why you can’t eat the hamburgers, baked beans, and the potato salad that Grandma made earlier that day.
This is the part that most people don’t think about when it comes to setting a weight loss goal and reaching it. People fail to realize that meeting your trainer for that hour session is only about 25% of what needs to be done. Yes, you have to do your cardio. Yes, you have to track what you are putting into your body, and how much of it, so you can make adjustments when you start to plateau. Yes, you are going to have to say no to things that you may actually want. However, if you are serious about reaching your goal, then you will realize that all of those things are imperative stepping stones in your weight-loss journey. Is leaning out and building muscle something that is supposed to be easy? Rhetorical question! No! If it were, we would not struggle with the widespread obesity that we are facing today. It’s hard for a reason. How does the saying go, nothing in life worth having comes easy?
However, you also have to realize that we are human. We are not perfect, and there may be times when you slip up and get off track momentarily. These minimal occurrences are no reason to throw away all of the hard work that you have already put in. Put the cookie down, and grab some carrots. I know, cookies are delicious, and carrots are for rabbits, but you’ll get another cheat meal soon enough if you just hang in there.
Majority of the time, people like to place blame on anything and everything other than themselves. There’s a lot of talk about not being able to eat the right food because of work, a spouse, or even your own children. When it really comes down to it, those are all just excuses that you tell yourself to justify failure. These mistakes keep you from reaching your goal. While those may be your excuses for not being able to do something, someone else is out there using those same excuses as a reason to get it done. Another mistake people make is being almost 100% on their routine during the week, and when the weekend comes, that is all thrown away. Why would anyone want to take one step forward and two steps back each and every week? Do yourself a favor and try to stick to doing things right on the weekend, and I guarantee you will start to have more progress towards your goal.
I want to offer some quick tips that should help you to stay on track and reach your goals for losing weight.
- Get a qualified professional to help you with your nutrition. Your best friend that has had a 6-pack since 6th grade and has never been over 180lbs is probably not your best bet. Some people are just born with good genetics and a fast metabolism.
- Set short term, as well as long term goals that are realistic and attainable. Use the acronym S.M.A.R.T. when setting up these goals. Make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
- Do your cardio! I know, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, it sucks! However, it is a necessary suck that you need to learn to embrace because it has a multitude of benefits which include, creating a higher energy deficit, cardio respiratory benefits, increased blood flow to the brain and peripheral parts of the body.
- Make sure you have a plan for being able to stay on track if you happen to go out with co-workers for lunch or with friends for dinner. You don’t have to eat complete crap just because you are eating out. Look up the menu on your way, and find items that are closely related to what you normally consume.
5. Have a person or a support team to help you along the way. It may prove to be difficult when your colleagues or friends are taunting you about not being able to eat bread or have whatever is being catered to work.
I hope this tidbit will help any of you that decide to lose weight, or any of you that may be struggling right now to stay on track. If you are looking for a trainer to help you lose some weight, or build muscle feel free to contact me at email@example.com. If you’re looking for a nutrition coach, feel free to contact either one of the two that we have available here at NBS Fitness at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Well, I’m not gonna lie. I needed a last minute blog to put up, so I figured I’d share my best squat leading in to the King of Spring meet we have next weekend. Here is 565 which is 25lbs more than my best last competition.Enjoy!
Do you have a personal trainer? How have things been going with him/her lately? Are you reaching your goals that you set for yourself? I’m going to lay out some tips here that I think will help you in your fitness, strength, physique endeavors, or whatever your goals may be with your personal trainer if you have one. Personal training/coaching is a joint effort that only works when both parties are committed. The majority of the advice that I’m going share with you today will help you on your part if you have a personal trainer.
The first thing you should ask yourself is why are you there? Why are you hiring a personal trainer/coach? Are you educated enough to create yourself a training program to help you to progressively reach your goals? To peak for a specific event? Do you need the accountability of having someone to show up and meet just so you can get your butt in the gym? In my experience, the majority of people who are in dire need of a trainer don’t even realize it. If you had a pipe burst in your house and it started to flood your basement, would you try to handle it yourself with no prior experience at all, especially with everything else that might be going on in your life? Job, kids, general adult responsibilities, etc…probably not. You would do the smart thing and hire a plumber because you don’t know the first thing about it, and you probably don’t have the time to go to a trade school and learn how it’s done, so hire someone who is already well educated and has helped others to successfully reach their goals. Back to my original statement, why are you there? I hope it is for a much better reason than to just look good naked because you’ve pretty much already failed at that point. To truly be able to reach and sustain your goals you need to have a good, solid mindset behind it. Maybe you want to run a marathon, or be able to play with your grandchildren, walk up the stairs in your house and not be gasping for air. Maybe you want to do it for the mental health benefit. Exercising regularly has been shown to ease mild to moderate signs of depression. Whatever your reason, have a good one and stick with it. You are going to need it when things get tough and you want to give up.
The second tip is just common sense and one of the easiest, yet most difficult for people to acheive with their trainers. Show up on time! Don’t waste your time, their time, and your money. Okay, I know sometimes things come up from time to time, maybe you slept through your alarm, traffic is bad and there was an accident on the road, but for the most part this should never be an issue. I too have been guilty of this and I’m sure it will continue to happen throughout my carreer as that is just a part of life, however it is within your control to make the best effort you can to show up on time. You paid for that hour and you should be able to get in every single minute of it, otherwise you are just selling yourself short of progress that you could be making. It also shows that you really just don’t care that much because let’s face it, if you did you’d be there not only on time, but early so you can warm up and have your body primed for action. This leads me to my next point.
Do not sit around like a helpless child before your trainer gets there. WARM UP! I really don’t think I can stress this point enough. It is your job to get your body primed and ready for what you are about to put it through. If you roll into the gym coming straight out of bed, hop right under that barbell with weight already on it, I can guarantee it is only going to be a matter of time before you get injured, trust me. If you know what you are going to be doing with your trainer that day, then go ahead and set up the rack or station that you are going to be at so things can get rolling along quickly. This is going to allow you to not have to waste the time of your hour on all of the small things that take up time. Get warmed up, get out some weight plates and be ready to get after it!
The next piece of advice I want to give is to be in it for the long run. Personal training/ coaching is not something that is going to change your life by just purchasing 1 package of 5 to 12 sessions. Changing your body, and your life habits is something that takes time to achieve. You did’nt get you bachelors or masters from going to school for just 12 hours for 2 weeks, so don’t expect to be an expert on designing a progressive training program for yourself after a couple of sessions. Again, you may be the person that needs the accountability of having someone to show up and meet, and that is perfectly fine, at least you are able to identify that, as opposed to denying that fact and hardly ever showing up to the gym on your own. People are typically much more likely to follow through with a commitement if they are paying for it, than if they were getting a service for free. Think about it, if you were trying to diet and you had a friend that was going to do your nutrition for free, or you had and expert coach that you were paying, which scenario would you be more successful in. Let’ s say you’re out with some friends on the weekened and they’re all eating some nachos at the bar and they keep trying to get you to have some with them. If you weren’t paying for someone to do your nutrition you’d probably think, “what the heck. why not?” However, if you had an expert coach that you were paying weekly for nutrition services, you’d probably say hell no! You’d probably tell your friends that they aren’t the ones paying for someone to tell them what to eat. How could they understand? They’re not in your shoes, maybe they don’t share the same goals as you. The point is, you are going to stick to your guns if you are paying for the service. The same holds true for personal training.
The last point I want to make is to make sure that you aren’t coming in just to talk for an entire hour. I’m not saying that you and your trainer should’nt talk at all while you are there training, that would be akward and a total drag! I’m just saying to make sure you are working your other muscles more than you are working your mouth muscles. A coach and their client should be able to develop a relashionship together, and a great way to do this is to plan ahead and try to hang out on the weekends outside of the gym. It’s a great way to get to know each other better without wasting your time, or progress.
So there you have it. These are just a few ideas that scratch the surface when it comes to being successfull with your personal trainer. Try to start implementing some of these techniques with your trainer or coach over the next couple of weeks, and I strongly believe you will start to see improvements in your performance, as well as the relashionship between you and your trainer.
That’s efing right! I’ve got more training videos coming you way to the sweet, melodic, and heavy sound of L.O.G. These videos are from our past couple of weeks of our triphasic training including our light, medium, and heavy days. We are just about to start our peaking phase in preparation for out King and Queen of Spring powerlifting meet on April 8th. If you’re not too busy that day, and you want to come out and watch some cool things happen, we will be hosting it at our gym, NBS Fitness. Hope you enjoy the tunes. Crank it u to 11!!
Well, I’ve slacked off for long enough! It’s that time again. Time for another movie review. I think I’ve got a good one for you all this go round. This movie isn’t old, but it isn’t new. the title of this film is There Will be Blood, and it was released in December of 2007. It received an academy award, as well as a Golden Globe, and is based off of Upton Sinclair’s novel Oil! Published in 1927.
The main character of this movie is Daniel Plainview, who is played by none other that Daniel Day-Lewis, along with a couple of other familiar faces. The movie tells of a silver miner, turned oil-man on a never ending search for wealth during the oil boom i southern California in the late 19th and early 20th century. During the movie one of Planview’s workers is in a fatal accident, and Daniel adopts the man’s orphaned son, which allows him to present himself to potential investors as “a family man”. However, this couldn’t be any further from the truth.
If you are looking for a film with a bit of suspense and some twists and turns, then I would definitely suggest giving this a watch. Personally, I feel that most of the roles that Daniel Day-Lewis takes, never disappoint. There Will be Blood is now widely accepted as one of the greatest films of the 2000’s, and was among the highest ranking 21st century films in the British Film institute’s 2012 Sight and Sound polls. Give it a try.
Who are you seeking advice from when it comes to your training? This is a pretty serious question, and one that you should be asking yourself if you are serious about training. Working in a gym you tend to notice many things from time to time, and eventually they start to get to you. There is a reoccurring theme that I see over and over in the gym setting and that is people listening to others just because they are bigger and stronger than them. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for surrounding yourself with people that are better than you. That’s exactly how I progressed from where I used to be, to where I am now. The question you really have to ask yourself is do these people actually know what they’re talking about, or have they been getting by on good genetics, luck, or maybe even a great work ethic. Lucky for me, the people I was taught by actually knew what they were talking about.
This idea came to me when I was in the gym the other night and noticed two people I have never seen before that were following around another gym goer that was much bigger and stronger than themselves. I couldn’t help but overhear some training advice that this person was giving out to these less experienced lifters. Of course it’s pretty common for us as humans to want to help others out, especially when they are open to learn and absorb new knowledge. However, just because you’ve got some biceps, and a 315+ bench, doesn’t mean you’re qualified to give out quality training advice to others. I’m not talking about something that can be left up to debate, such as training methodologies, program structuring, or a particular cue that is given in many different ways by different coaches. In this situation the advice that was being given was just flat out wrong! It’s just like the scene from the movie Pumping Iron when Arnold Schwarzenegger tells the story of how he mislead a fellow bodybuilding competitor into thinking that he was supposed to be screaming while he was doing his poses on stage. Now, that guy should’ve had enough common sense to think to himself, “wait, what the hell is this guy talking about? I’m not going to scream onstage while I run through my poses!” However, since Arnold was bigger and better than everyone else he thought is was sound, and solid advice, which only got him kicked out of the competition. Now, don’t get this twisted as me bashing Arnold, Arnold is numero uno, but you can see just how easy it is for someone to give out the wrong information and anyone follow it.
I felt bad for the two individuals that were being given this information because now they are probably going to be doing this particular movement wrong for quite some time, and this may eventually lead to an injury. As a trainer, you feel obligated to step in and tell the ones that are being given the wrong information, the right information. This can sometimes be difficult because you don’t want to insult the intelligence of the individual giving out the wrong advice, that usually only makes matters worse. In other cases, sometimes you do, sometimes these people need to know that they are wrong, and that they are leading people in the wrong direction. It isn’t necessarily they’re fault, somewhere along the line they we’re given false information and they are just repeating what they think is right. This isn’t all that bad though because this is an opportunity for this individual to be educated on what is right, and why it is right. When this happens, there is only opportunity for quality information to be passed on and everyone wins. Let’s all be winners.
Okay, more like embrace your inner metal head, more specifically embrace you inner Machine Head! Here’s my past weeks training log and what we’ve been doing on our heavy and medium days of training with the sweet sweet sound of Machine Head’s Beneath the Silt to serenade you while watching. Don’t be scared, embrace your inner demons and put up those devil horns. Everyone needs some face-melting metal from time to time. Check it out!
I’ve been slacking on some of my website stuff lately, and now I’m back with a vengeance! I’m going to try to keep up with my training log and keep all of you posted with weekly updated videos. I’m going to try my hand with some videoing skills to keep things interesting, while slapping on some face melting metal music to go along with it because let’s admit it, who doesn’t love metal music? Okay, I confess I do know plenty of strong people that aren’t that into crushing guitar riffs, and double bass drums and that’s okay. As I once heard our owner David Allen say, “you can’t get distracted by happiness.” So let’s let the anger pulse through our veins while we SFW to some heavy tunes! Here are some training highlights from my recent training in preparation for our upcoming king and queen of spring powerlifting meet. I hope you like Lamb of God because they’re will be much to come!
Did I catch your attention with my gripping title? I hope they’re a few of you that get a moment to read this tid bit of valuable information that can help you to create more stability by understanding the 3 muscular contractions, and what each of them do. One of our biggest goals we want to achieve when moving big weight around in the gym is to create tension within muscles. Why, you might ask. We want to create tension within ourselves because tension creates stability. Why do we want stability? Duh!! We want to be as stable as possible when we are trying to Squat, bench, and deadlift, as well as other complex, multijoint movements. Nobody ever squatted a significant amount of weight while standing on a bosu ball. Please don’t take that as a challenge and let me see you doing it in the gym next week. Oh wait, we don’t even own a bosu ball here at NBS!
The first muscular contraction I want to mention is the concentric. You can think about the concentric portion of a contraction as almost always moving in the upward direction, or against the resistance of gravity. For example, curling a weight up with your bicep, standing up from the bottom of a squat, or pressing and locking out a bench press. You get the idea. The concentric phase of a muscular contraction is responsible for producing force. To move big weights you want to be able to produce a great amount of force, and having big muscle can definitely aid in this, although it is not the end all be all.
The second muscular contraction to talk about is the eccentric. You can think about the eccentric phase of a muscular contraction as almost always moving down, or with the same direction that gravity pulls. For example, the down phase of a bicep curl, moving downward in a squat movement, and bringing the weight down to your chest on a bench press. Again, you get the idea. The eccentric phase of a muscular contraction is responsible for absorbing force. When you are bringing the weight down to your chest on a bench press, you are essentially trying to absorb the weight on the bar into you body, and into the bench. This is also when the actual tearing of your muscle fibers occur, and what causes you to have a difficult time getting out of bed the next morning after a hard training session.
There is only one contraction left to discuss, and that is an isometrics sometimes referred to as static. During this phase there is no lengthening, or shortening of the muscle. Think like when you just “flex” your bicep, or your quadriceps muscle, and create tension within that muscle. Now, technically you can’t flex your bicep, you can flex your elbow joint, same with your quad, you are just extending your knee, and holding the muscle tight in that position. You can also think about walking up to a wall and pushing on it with your hands, but obviously the wall isn’t going to move. The isometric phase of a muscular contraction is responsible for transferring force through your body. All that is happening when you squat, bench, or deadlift is you are putting force into the ground, and the ground is putting force back into you through ground reaction forces, and that force travels through your body, and into the barbell full of weight that you are trying to move.
Now, what you need to understand is that being able to contract certain muscle groups isometrically, while performing concentrics and eccentrics with others simultaneously is going to play a crucial role in being able to create stability when trying to efficiently perform a complex movement. An example here would be trying to isometrically contract your scapular muscles in your mid/upper back, while eccentrically lowering the weight on a bench press with certain muscles, then performing concentric movements in other muscles to push it up, all while still holding you back tight isometrically. Sounds tough right? Mastering this is not something that will happen over nigh, as a matter of fact I don’t know if there is anyone who has ever “mastered” this technique. Everyone breaks down with heavy enough weights. It’s just a matter of doing it correctly for long enough to build up new habits, and breaking your old ones.
Now, if you are having issues contracting certain muscle groups, especially keeping them contracted while performing movements, it does help to have a trainer that can give you some proprioceptive feedback of your muscles while you perform a movement. This could be as simple as poking you in the butt while you squat. I might also suggest seeing our in house chiropractor Dr. Tyrel Detwilder about getting the Reflexive Performance Reset done on yourself. Most people here have had great results with it. Either way, take action! Don’t do nothing and be stuck in the same slump. I hope this has helped some of you out, if only in a minor way. Remeber, tension creates stability, and stability gives us the ability to produce more force.
I figured this is a somewhat appropriate time of the year to pick this movie, and it just so happens that I watched it yesterday for the first time in a while. The movie I am referring to is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. I know, wait. Isn’t that a kids movie? Maybe, I was a kid when I first saw it, but I’ve loved it ever since. I can’t really think of any movies that Tim Burton has had a hand in that I haven’t enjoyed. I like the music in this movie, I like the animation, I like the characters, and I like the story. Plus, you can really watch it during Halloween, or Christmas because it’s fitting for both. I find it so hard to believe that they’re still people that have not seen this movie, but I’m sure there may be a couple reading this that haven’t. A couple of years ago I came across an album titled Nightmare Revisited. It has artist like Korn, Marilyn Mansion, and Amy Lee covering songs from the film. Iv’e also recently discovered that there is now a Nightmare Before Christmas play. Although I am not aware of any times, or dates, or cities for the play. The film is now over 20 years old, which is hard to believe, but is just as good as the day it came out. If you’re looking for a movie to watch over the holidays that the whole family can enjoy, then I would suggest giving this one a watch.
Here are a couple of the covers from the album Nightmare Revisited.
< One of the last pictures taken of Christopher Mcandless
I’ve got another great flick pick for all of you this week. It’s slightly different then my previous ones as far as the genre and story line goes, but I have an eclectic palate when it comes to movies, or at least I like to think so. The film is titled Into the Wild, And is Directed by Sean Penn. It is based of the book Into the Wild, written by Jon Krakauer. The film is an adaptation of his book, which is based on the travels of Christopher McCandless across North America and his life spent in the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990’s. Christopher McCandless’s character is played by Emile Hirsch, who graduates from a well respected school and basically decides to up and leave his family, donate his money to charity and burn the rest, only to begin a journey through North America making his way to Alaska. McCandless meets many different people along his way, and the movie is based on his book that he kept and wrote in along his travels. The majority of the music for the film was written by Eddie Vedder, who for those that aren’t familiar, is the singer of the popular 90’s band, Pearl Jam. It was nominated for two Golden Globes, as well as two Academy Awards. I think you could probably say that they’re are some good life lessons to be learned from this movie, one of them being that happiness is only real when shared, or so that’s how Christopher McCandless saw it. Give it a watch if you get the opportunity.
Original Movie trailer
Two songs in the movie as written by Eddie Vedder
Have you ever done this? Have you squatted and sat back onto a box before? Do you have any particular reason as to why you were doing that? Perhaps you saw it somewhere, maybe someone told you to. Well, here at NBS we have many people who box squat, and a variety of reasons for doing so. Let me start by saying that there is a difference between squatting to a box, and box squatting. I’m going to elaborate on this a bit more as we progress through this discussion. I’m going to approach this concept and explain it from a standpoint that is applicable to a person that is still somewhat fresh to squatting correctly, and is still working to correctly load, and strengthen up there hips. However, box squatting is not limited to just this group. Even the most elite squatters still use a box to train the movement.
To list some of the reasons why we here at NBS box squat, or why I may have some of my clients box squat is to reach proper depth depending on what that particular persons hips will allow at that time, to get a better feeling of loading weight and tension in your hips, to strengthen your hips, to be able to maintain core stability at the bottom of the squat movement, as well as at the reversal of direction in this movement. In addition to these, we sometimes even want to set the box to a height that will purposefully bring us below parallel. Box squatting is a really great movement to get a person in a far better position to be able to hip hinge. If you aren’t entirely sure what I mean by hip hinging, then please refer back to my last article.
To touch on what I mentioned earlier about there being a difference in squatting to a box, and box squatting. What I was saying is that if you are squatting and you have a box behind you and you are just plopping onto the box, and basically falling onto it loosely, or bouncing off of it with momentum, then you are not utilizing the box for squatting in the correct way. If you are completely relaxing onto the box, loosing intra-abdominal pressure, and having excessive rounding in your lower, and mid back, how is that going to have any carryover at all to squatting without a box? How well do you think you will do getting back up from a near max effort squat when you completely relax at the “bottom of the hole?” What is most peoples natural reaction when they sit down? They want to relax, however relaxing with 600lbs on your back may not be the best idea you’ve ever had. One thing that I see very often is that when the weight gets heavier, people want to cut their depth higher and higher. Well, if you are squatting down completely to the box, this cant happen. If the weight gets heavier and you are just floating above the box, you might as well not even have it under you because you aren’t even using it.
How do we fix this? Training yourself to properly maintain stability throughout your entire body, even while sitting back onto that box. If you spend all of that time and effort before you unrack the bar trying to build up tension and tightness, then why would you want to lose it at one of the most crucial points of that movement. Do not fall victim to this common mistake. If you find yourself completely collapsing and loosening at the touch of the box, or at the last 2 to 3 inches of the movement you may need to raise the box up a bit because it is too low for your body to allow it to get down to it in the proper position, or perhaps it is due to something as simple as you leg/foot positioning. You may need t bring your stance in. Another mistake could be that you are descending to the box entirely too fast, hitting the box with too high of an impact to maintain tightness, and are using the momentum of a bounce to get back up. Do not do this. You don’t want to fall into a normal squat without a box, so don’t do it with one behind you.
Using a box to squat on is a very effective progressive method for beginners because of all of these reasons stated. It will teach you to use your hips, all while strengthening them. It will teach you hip hinging. It will bring you to proper depth, and will get you accustomed to what that feels like. It will teach you to maintain stability, and core tightness throughout the entire movement. Why wouldn’t you want to start a beginner out with a box? Beginners tend to have a hard time with their knees shooting foreword in the squat to the lack of ability to hip hinge, but box squatting is a great solution to this problem.
One thing I want to touch on very quickly about box squatting is rocking back after you sit onto the box, and then rocking foreword to drive off of the box. This is definitely not a technique that I would use for any of my clients, nor would I suggest it to anyone who is box squatting. Some people do this in an effort to slightly release tension off their heels, then rock foreword and drive forcefully back into their heels to increase drive off of the box. Some people may have other reasons for doing this, but I would not advise it as a part of this movement. It isn’t possible to do this in a free squat, so don’t do it on a box.
If you are having issues with your regular squat, then you may need to add a box into the equation. If you choose to do so, just make sure that you are executing it properly, otherwise you are doing yourself no good. Box squats are typically done with a much wider stance to really use the hips, although this is not always the case, and the emphasis should always be on pushing the hips back and the knees out. It should be as if you are spreading the floor apart by twisting your feet into the ground and away from each other. Feel free to ask any of the trainers here, and myself included if you are performing the movement correctly. Just remember that you can get by doing just about anything incorrectly with light enough weights, but as they get heavier, your mistakes will become more and more clear. Some of the strongest squatters in the world use a box to squat, just ask Louie Simmons. I hope this helps all of you better understand the reasons for using a box to squat, and how you should be doing them.
Here is a video of myself during my last training cycle doing some box squats. This video probably isn’t the best example to share because this particular bar bends me over pretty good, but you get the idea here about how your hips should be moving, and the position of everything else.
Welcome to another edition of my weekly movie picks. I’ve got a good one in store for you all today. Let me ask you a question. Are you familiar with the band Godsmack? If you are a member of NBS, I’m sure you’ve heard one of their songs play at one time or another. Perhaps you’ve heard the song “Voodoo?” It was released on Godsmack’s first self titled album, which was released in 1999. Well, the funny thing that most people don’t know about this song is that it was inspired by a Wes Craven movie titled The Serpent and the Rainbow. This film was released in 1988 and is a thriller/horror movie about an anthropologist that travels to the country of Haiti in a time of social and political unrest to study a drug used in religious ceremonies to turn victims into living Zombies! During his stay he seeks the help of a witch doctor, and a fellow researcher in the area to help solve the deadly mystery. The more secrets he discovers, the harder he must work to avoid the local Haitian authorities who see him as a threat. The anthropologist in the movie is played by the actor Bill Pullman, who I believe may have been somewhat of a friend to some of the guys in Godsmack. If you are a fan of any Wes Craven movies, then I’m sure this will be another one to add to your favorites.
Here is a clip of the original 1988 movie trailer.
I also wanted to include the music video for the Godsmack song that was inspired by the movie.
Here I am, sitting in the office at NBS, staring at my computer screen for the past half hour trying to figure out what to blog about. David is out of town on vacation, and one of his clients just canceled on me for the 3rd time an hour before the session. One of the tragedies of personal training, people don’t give a shit about your time, they are full of excuses, they don’t realize that this is how you pay your bills. None the less, I still love it and at this point in my life, it’s what I do.
Back to my point, I was trying to think of something worth sharing, and I thought, why don’t I share some older videos of when I was weaker than I am now? From time to time I like to look back on a couple of them, and see how I’ve progressed since I started lifting at the best gym in Memphis. I want to share a couple of them with you, and I believe I actually have one for squat, bench, and deadlift.
Here’s a good ol struggle bus of me with about 335 I believe for 5. This was my first legitimate strength program, and it had me squatting on a box for probably 4 months. Never missed a squat with my buddy Anto spotting. Original video was taken on February 9, 2015. I had been on the team a little over a month. Now my most recent wrapped max is 540, and I definitely had more in there.
This next one is a definite fail! I believe I was pretty close to my meet I had last December in Little Rock, or my very first meet, cant remember. I had taken some singles before this, and then decided to go up. I think it was 250, or 255. Shout out to my old training partner Matt Fike. One time he was almost stronger than me….lol. Original video was July 1st 2015. Current max is 315.
The last video I’ve got is me sucking on some good ol deathlifts. I think it was probably around this time that I was getting stuck and was absolutely hating these! I was probably supposed to do 3, and I missed my 3rd. This looks like 365. FML! Original video was February 18, 2015. Current max on deadlift is 530
So, as you can see from all of these videos, I was pretty small, and pretty weak. Now I am still small and weak, just not as small and weak as I was then. All of the weights seen in these videos are now just warm up weights for me. I hear people and sometimes clients say they wish they could do this, or that, and lift a certain amount of weight, and I always tell them…you’ve got to start somewhere. Even the best of the best had to start somewhere to get to where they are today. If you really want something, stick with it long enough, and work hard for it, and eventually you’ll have it. Make sure you have someone to help you along the way because I guarantee you won’t get as far by yourself.
Recently, during one of my what seems like forever 30 minute steady state cardio sessions, I was listening to a podcast and somehow thought of a new idea for some blogging. I’m still trying to get this whole blogging thing down, and I know that it is meant to be a little more about myself, and give a glimpse into my personal life, so I’m going to start doing weekly movie picks. I don’t really know what it is, but ever since I was young, I have really been into movies. There isn’t any particular genre that I prefer, if its a good movie, then I’m all for it.
So, without further adu, my first movie pick of this weekly series is Mad Max. It was originally released in 1979, a little before my time, but you will come to find that many of the movies I like were before I was around. This movie takes place in a dystopian future when oil resources have been depleted, and the world falls into war, famine, and financial chaos. The movie takes place in Australia where a cruel biker gang is out of control and the last line of defense is an Australian law force. Mad Max, (played by Mel Gibson) wants vengeance on this gang when his wife and son are hunted down and murdered after he kills the leader of the gang, known as the night rider, leaving him bloodthirsty for revenge.
This film is the first installment of a trilogy that is followed by Mad Max 2, The Road Warrior, and Mad Max, Beyond Thunderdome. I highly recommend the both of these if you enjoy the first one.
Here is the original trailer for the 1979 film.
You may be asking yourself, what the hell does it mean to hip hinge and why is it so important. Yep, that was pretty much me a few years back. Let me start with a quick lesson in the anatomy of your hip joint. The head of your femur connects to your hip socket which is called your acetabulum, and these two things essentially create your hip joint. Your hip joint is considered a ball and socket joint which allows multidirectional movement and rotation. Another example of a ball and socket joint in your body would be the shoulder joint, but we will save that one for another day. Your hip joint is capable of external rotation, internal rotation, abduction, adduction, flexion, and extension, basically every direction.
So, what does it mean to hip hinge? Hip hinging is a posterior weight shift through the sagittal plane moment where the hips become the axis through the lower and upper extremity through a neutral spine. To break that down, it basically means pushing your butt back and loading tension in your hamstrings (that tight, stretch feeling) while not going into flexion (anterior rounding) in your lumbar, or thoracic spine. It is also worth noting that your knees should never be locked out when performing this movement. What we want to shoot for is what we call “soft” knees, which basically means having a slight bend at the knee.
Why is it important for us to hinge through our hips? Well, hip hinging is very effective in regards to correct movement patterns and injury prevention. It is vitally important for people to be able to recognize and feel the difference between moving through the hips, and moving through the lumbar spine, or even through their knees. The ability to hip hinge has a tremendous carry over to athletic performance. Think about it. Running, jumping, squatting, deadlifting, all involves loading the hips. Once you are able to master this movement, you will move better, feel better, and will be on your way to becoming a much more stronger, and capable individual.
There are many common mistakes that are made by people who try this movement for the first time, and that’s perfectly fine. Some Examples of these common mistakes include locking the knees out as I mentioned earlier, pivoting through the lumbar spine, breaking at the knees and not the hips, and a plethora of other things. Luckily, we have many ways that we can progressively reach a clean, solid hip hinge movement by slowly working up to it.
A quick few examples include performing a glute bridge laying on the floor, to a hip bridge on a bench with you upper back laying on the bench, a 45 degree hyperextension, which is an excellent machine in assisting in this movement, and RDL, a goblet squat, and from there you should be able to progress to much more complex movements. Starting with just your bodyweight is usually how I would ease one of my own personal training clients into any of these movements. Once they master that, then we can add weight.
I’m going to include some video examples of specific hip hinging movements that are from our very own NBS Fitness youtube channel.
In this video, you can see that David is pushing back into his hips, while not rounding in his lumbar area, he is keeping his glutes engaged and squeezing them to pull himself back up.
Here is yet another hip hinge movement demonstrated by David using a pair of dumbbells. If you look closely you can see the similarities between this movement, and the one in the video shown above.
Here is a slightly more complex hip hinge movement that takes a bit more focus and effort. It is worth noting here that this particular exercise requires a proper abdominal bracing technique, in order to keep from rounding in the lower back. It is advised to be able to properly brace during the hip hinge movement before doing it with any considerable amount of weight, which will be different from person to person.
I hope this helps all of you understand a little better what it means to hip hinge, and why it’s so important. If you want to feel better, move better, and become stronger, then it is essential that you learn this movement. If anyone has any questions, or comments related to this topic, please post them in the comments section below. If you are a member of NBS, please don’t hesitate to approach me and ask any questions in person, even if I haven’t had my morning coffee yet.
You Can’t always get what you want. If there is one thing that I have learned in the short amount of time that I’ve been in powerlifting, it is this. I have experienced it myself, and I have observed it from many other teammates and fellow lifters that I have been around. The sport of powerlifting is basically a numbers game, and you are on a constant quest to hit a certain weight. Eventually, when you hit that weight, you are then onto your next journey to hopefully move even more pounds. What do you do when the weight stops moving up? What do you do when it starts to become a constant struggle? Fortunately for me, I have not hit that point yet, and I am dreading the day that it ever comes. I tend to ask myself these questions from time to time when I think about this happening, or when I see it happen to somebody else. I tend to sometimes be that “what if” person. It’s not just in lifting, but life in general. What if this happens? What if that happens? I try to tell myself that living a life by the “what if” is not the way to live at all. How can you be successful at anything if you are constantly scarred, and always thinking about the “what if.” There is no success in life without taking risks. Unfortunately failure can be a side affect of risk taking, but lucky for us there is no success without failure. So, I try to tell myself not to be afraid to fail because some of the most successful people in the world have failed time and time again. Now, you and I may have two totally different ideas of what it means to be successful, but if I can live the life I want to live by being supported by the career that I want to work, then I feel like I am a pretty successful guy. I can tell you this. When things get tough and stagnant, the last thing I am going to do is give up. Things get hard in life, work gets hard, relationships get hard, going to the gym gets hard. What you do in these types of situations will define the type of person you are. Do you want to be known as the person that just gave up because shit got hard? I know I don’t. I’m not saying that I haven’t thought about it before, but I knew in the end that giving up is not the right decision. We are meant to be challenged in our lives. Being challenged and having the power to persevere through adversity is what makes us stronger as individuals. It makes us better versions of ourselves. So, when things get hard next time, try to embrace the struggle and realize that it will make you a better person.
Here it is, the Thursday after the weekend of our competition, and I’m finally starting to feel normal again. Well, except for my aching biceps from the “bro” session that me and my training partners did yesterday. It was nothing but shoulders, triceps, and biceps. Anyways, Saturday ended up actually being a pretty good meet day. Not just for me, but for my training partners as well.
I ended up going 8/9 on all of my lifts, just missing my last and final deadlift. I should’ve had it, but I was slightly hesitant before pulling it, and I think it got in my head just a little bit. Oh well, I had a pretty good day, so I can’t complain. I ended up with a 540 squat, a 315 bench, and a 525 deadlift. I was super excited about the bench because I have been wanting that for quite some time now, and the first time I hit it was in this competition. I was pretty much blown away by the improvement in my squat. I ended up adding about 80lbs to my squat, 20lbs to my bench, and about 25lbs to my deadlift from my previous 1 rep maxes.
As of right now I don’t have any immediate plans for a meet. I will probably wait until next spring, or summer to do my next competition. I will probably take this time to get my body composition back in check, and lean out just a bit. Hopefully at my next meet, I can put up some even bigger numbers then I did on Saturday, and possibly get an elite total at 198.
With another competition in the books, I just want to say how grateful I am for everyone who made this day possible. I especially want to thank my training partners for always pushing me to be better, even if I’m not having the greatest day. That’s the type of stuff that good friends, and training partners are made of. I also want to give a big thank you to everyone who came out to support the lifters, and everyone who has followed along with me for the past year. More to come.
Below is a video of my 3rd attempt squat at 540.
Here is a video of my 3rd attempt bench at 315.
Video of my 2nd attempt deadlift at 525.
My 3rd attempt deadlift at 540 (miss)
You may have heard it before if you have ever had a trainer, or if you were ever and athlete on a team with a coach. You show up to train, and they look at you and say, “Go warm up!” You probably look back with this blank stare and think why? Why do I have to warm up, coach? I am warm, I walked here didn’t I? I took a hot shower this morning. Why do I need to warm up? I am going to tell you exactly why you need to warm up. I am going to use some specific reasons that I was taught by my coach when I was going through my internship here at NBS. I am also going to provide several 3 to 5 minute videos that were created by our very own David Allen that take you step by step through some general and specific warm ups.
First of all, how well you warm up will probably determine how well your entire training session goes. This is a short period of time that you will use to transition from non-activity to activity. They’re are many purposes to a warm up, and I am going to discuss a few that I was taught.
- The first reason to warm up is to increase the internal temperature of our body. Heat is a catalyst for reactions to occur, and when we are in the gym moving heavy weights, or performing any type of intense physical exercise, there are many reactions taking place within our bodies.
- We want to increase the fluid dynamics exchange taking place within our bodies. Essentially, we want to try to get our blood flowing, so it can carry nutrients and excrete waste in an efficient manner.
- The third reason is to increase acute flexibility and mobility. We want to be able to move through an adequate range of motion specific for our sport, or activity that we will be performing. Too little can hinder our performance, just as too much can hinder performance in certain situations.
- The fourth reason is to improve our tissue quality. If for one reason or another we have poor tissue quality, this could limit the actions of the actin, myosin cross bridges, which could, as a result, decrease the overall force production of our muscles. I’m not going to get into the extremely detailed actin, myosin cross bridge theory, but essentially this is what causes our muscles to contract and relax.
- We also want to increase our neural output and help to “prime” our movement patterns. What we are doing here is increasing our nervous systems ability to coordinate muscular contractions.
- The last and final reason is to increase and stimulate our mental readiness. We don’t want to start an intense training session while being half asleep. Perhaps you would be better off to choose a specific warm up to wake up your mind and muscles, rather than reaching for that pre-workout with 400mg of caffeine per scoop, taking the risk of a heart attack in the middle of your session.
Now that we have the reason and purpose for warming up, the next question is how do we go about doing this, and in what order? There are about 5 points to take away with the process of warming up. Here they are:
- Start with some general, dynamic movement. Basically start moving, this can be done joint by joint, think about starting at your neck and working your way down to your ankles. This is how we have most of our clients warm up at NBS. Think about stretching the muscle in a way that is not static, meaning holding in a position without movement. Instead, warm up by using dynamic stretches such as walking lunges, split squats, etc.
- Tissue work. This can be done with a foam roller, lacrosse ball, or any type of trigger point device. Just don’t do this for an extended period of time; that may be a bit overkill.
- Next up, is specific mobilization. Specific Mobilization is when you do some movements to mobilize specific joints that you may be using in your workout, whether they be static, or dynamic. An example is hip circles for hip joint if you’re going to be squatting (dynamic). Static squat holds if you’re going to squat.
- Additionally, activation is important. This means activating specific muscle groups that you may be using in your routine. This is a process specifically targeted at muscle contractions. An example would be to activate glutes, hamstrings, etc. if you’re going to squat, or deadlift.
- The last is specific dynamic work. This one is pretty simple. If you’re going to squat, then just do some bodyweight squats. If you’re going to deadlift, then just do some bodyweight RDL’s, or with a band around your neck and feet.
Remember, a warm up can be overdone. If you are doing soft tissue work, think about it like this. Do you know anyone that goes to get a 1 hour full body massage, then goes to the gym to go beast mode? I sure hope not. The first thing I want to do after I get a massage is go straight to sleep. You want to activate muscles, and stimulate neural output, but not to the point that you just want to take a nap, and you lose the ability to produce a quality muscular contraction. Don’t over do it, but also don’t be that guy that comes in to bench and just goes one plate, two plates, three plates, and call that a warm up. I can guarantee you that if that is you, then you will more than likely be facing problems in the future like a torn pec, rotator cuff, or even a tricep tendon.
Take the time to set aside 5 to 10 minutes before every training session, and I’m sure your future-self will thank you, as well as your trainer, or coach. Now, we have the reasons for warming up, as well as what order, and how to perform each warm up. I will finish this up by sharing some warm up videos that our owner has put together and posted on our YouTube channel. There is an incredible amount of content within our YouTube channel, and I would advise you to go and check it out for even more information on warm ups, as well as many other tips for training, nutrition, and other advice.
Since I haven’t shared any of my training lately, I figured I would give an update on how our peaking is going this close to the meet. This Friday and Saturday are our last heavy lower and upper days before deloading.
I hit some new numbers at the compound two weekends ago, and I hit some new squat and bench numbers again this past weekend. For the most part, everything has been feeling good, or as good as it can feel this close to meet time. I believe my higher bodyweight has definitely helped me out some this cycle, especially on my squat. All of my teammates seem to be progressing quite well too. We have all had a pretty good training cycle, and I think we are all ready to put it all together on the platform.
I have a couple of videos to share from my lower body on Friday and upper body on Saturday.
Below is a video of my squat where I worked up to 520 for a single. It definitely moved pretty easy, and I felt like I probably had more, but my lower back was pretty smoked and I still had to work up to a heavy single on deadlifts afterwards, so I decided to save the rest for next week.
Below is a video of my bench from the following day where I worked up to 300 for a single. Obviously, bench is not my strongest lift. I have been trying for a while to really dial it in, and I will say that this past cycle it has felt the best and strongest yet. My setup has changed slightly, and I have much more leg drive than ever before. It was pretty nice to finally hit the 300 mark. Hopefully I can keep it climbing from here.
Thanks for watching and following along for anybody who is. Your support is greatly appreciated. Stay tuned for more training updates in the future, and if you are interested, come on out to the Memphis Classic on September 17th here at NBS, and watch some lifting.
Thought I would share a couple of more soothing metal melodies that I’ve been listening to lately. I’ve Still been on a big Lamb of God kick lately, I’m sure that has to do a lot with David’s influence. Here’s a live track from their live album titled Killadelphia.
I’m gonna share another Lamb song with you because it’s basically been one of my favorites since I started listening to them. Titled “Blackened the Cursed Sun.” I’m also going to share a live version of this song.
Okay, so I guess you could say that this is just turning in to a blog about Lamb of God, but every time I try to think of a different band, I just think of another Lamb song that I want to share. So, here is one from their newest album, which I believe to be one of their best. It actually features the singer Chino Moreno from the band we all know and love, Deftones. The song is titled “Embers.”
I figured it would be pretty appropriate to share this next song because if you are familiar at all with NBS. then you know we just made a new promotional video for our website. Well, the song on that video is from a band called Machine Head, which again, is another band I became very familiar with being at NBS all of the time. The track is titled “Sail into the Black,” and it is off their most recent album titled Bloodstone and Diamonds. This track starts off really slow, and it builds and builds for about 3 minutes, but when it finally hits, it is amazing! Just wait. Probably why David chose to use it for our new video, check it out!
I’ve got one more song I’m gonna share today. If any of you know me very well, or at least know my musical interests, then you know that I am a pretty big fan of Pantera. Well, unfortunately they are not around to play anymore,and I’m not going to go into the whole story of why they aren’t together a, but I will say that the drummer of that band is currently with another band called Hellyeah. This band also consists of some members from the band Mudvayne. I will honestly say that I am not a fan of all of their songs, much less all of their albums. But, they do have quite a bit of good stuff and it seems to grow on me more and more each time I listen to them. This is from their most recent album. The track is titled “Human”, and if you’re around the gym, I’m sure you’ll hear it sooner or later.
That wraps it up for this months songs. I hope all of you enjoy these tracks as much as I do.
Alright, I’m going to try to keep this as short as possible since this is just supposed to be a blog, so here goes.I had my first visit to Columbus, Ohio this past weekend with the majority of my training partners to visit the Elitefts S4 training compound. This is one of the meccas of powerlifting training in Ohio, other then the famous Westside Barbell.
When we first got there, we actually went into the office building where all of the staff and administrative work for Elitefts goes on. We were greeted at the door by a small dog, and immediately to the right was an office with a rather large human being sitting at a computer. I thought to myself “Damn, that dude is jacked!” Then, he got up and greeted us. “Oh Shit!” I thought to myself. That’s Dave Tate! For those of you that may not know, he is the owner and founder of Elitefts. We all shook hands with him, and I thanked him for having us at his place.
From there, we were able to go into the warehouse and check out some of their merchandise goods and training gear. My fellow friend, work associate, and training partner, who is also part of team Elitefts, was gracious enough to use some of his free points that he had built up for us to get some free stuff. On top of all that, the friendly staff there gave each of us two to three free shirts, and some free beanies for the winter. I couldn’t believe it. We had only been there maybe an hour, and we had basically been treated as if we were all a part of team Elitefts.
After we finished up in the warehouse, we got our training gear and went into the actual gym where we started to warm up for our training session, while Christian did his bio and interview. When I first entered the gym, I was in a bit of shock. It was so surreal to be in this building with all of this equipment that I see on their website all of the time. It was dim, hot, and a little dusty, but there were tons of racks and monolifts to squat in, and plenty of benches, as well as a plethora of accessory training machines. We have a competition approaching in three weeks, and last week was the first week of our peaking phase. We were set to take what was perceived as our 95% 1 rep max on squat and deadlift on that day. The best part about this particular training session, well, it was in the compound and we were going to be coached by Dave Tate himself!
Once we got warmed up everyone started their rotations on the monolift working up in weight. All the while, Dave Tate sat in front of us watching closely. Finally, after a couple of rounds, Dave spoke and said, “Do any of you realize what you’re doing wrong?” We all just kind of looked at each other blank. “None of you are cueing each other, and none of you are breathing right!” From there, Dave made some minor adjustments to all of us, and about four of us actually hit some squat pr’s. Needless to say, I was as giddy as a schoolgirl getting an A on her first test. Then, it was on to deadlifts.
Again, Dave watched us closely and made some adjustments to a few of us. I ended up hitting a 15lb pr on that, too! When we were all done we talked to Dave for a couple of minutes, thanked him for his time, and then he left. I had always heard that Dave Tate was a guy that was passionate about the line of work that he is in, but the fact that he took time out of his busy day to help each of us on our lifts was really just the icing on the cake. Whether he knows it, or not, he left a pretty good impression in my mind.
The next morning came, and we arrived at the compound to take our 95% bench press. We didn’t have the guidance of Dave on this training session, but there were many other Elitefts members and a pretty good atmosphere going on at the time. I ended up hitting my previous 1 rep max for what I thought was a sloppy single, and one of our other training partners Garret, hit a smooth 475! I wouldn’t be surprised if he hit a 500+ bench in three weeks. We hit a couple of accessories, and then it was time to head out. We said our goodbyes, took one more picture, and headed out for some post-training grub at a place down the road with two other Elitefts members. That was my first experience at the Elitefts S4 compound.
I cannot say enough good things about this company. If you are not familiar with them and their website, along with all of the services they and their coaches offer, then do yourself a favor and look them up now. They are literally comprised of the best coaches, and athletes around the world. If you want to become strong(er), they can help you do it. I use them as a source of education on an almost daily basis, and I can only hope to one day be half as good as some of the coaches working with them. I guess I ended up making this a bit longer then I originally intended, but when you have so much good to say about an organization, it becomes difficult to keep it brief. I am already counting down until I can go there again.
I just started a new book that I am reading, and I’ve been moving along pretty fast with it. It’s titled Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and is basically a book about personal financing and how to make money work for you, rather then spending your life working for money. So far, so good. There is a poem by Robert Frost, that the author Robert T. Kiyosaki, puts in the introduction called “The Road Not Taken,” and I wanted to share it with you all today.
The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads onto way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
I think what frost is basically saying is that choices in life are inevitable, and we are always going to have to make them. At the time of the decision, one may seem better then the other for one reason or another, but in the end, taking the easy road, or making a choice because it will make things easier isn’t always the best choice. For Frost, taking the road less traveled has made all the difference. Sometimes in life, that’s what we need to do, take the road less traveled.
I’ve had a lot of questions lately, specifically from clients trying to decide when the right time to put on a weight belt is. Obviously, this is going to vary from person to person depending on their strength, ability to maintain core stability and intra-abdominal pressure. Since I have been powerlifting, my strength has increased as well as the amount of weight that I need to belt-up for. I feel like this is a pretty intuitive concept. If you step under a bar to squat some weight, one of two things are going to happen. You will either move the weight well by maintaining your tightness, or you will break down at some point in the lift. This will probably include rounding of the lower back, which will most likely happen on the ascent of the squat. So, if you step under it and say, “Wow, that’s some heavy ass weight! I think I need a belt”, then you probably do.
Now, on the other hand, I have seen a belt do more harm than good on more than one occasion to myself, as well as others. I originally started pulling deadlifts conventionally, but after being a conventional deadlifter for over a year, I decided to change things up for several reasons. One of them being that I had a weak back, another being that every single time I would belt up for a heavy set, it never felt as good with a belt as it did without one. Every time I would lower down to the bar and set up, I would always feel my belt shift, and it would get a lot of slack in it. As a result, my back would almost always round. So, I stopped doing conventional as my main way of deadlifting and switched to sumo. The rest is history.
Just about an hour ago, I was helping one of my online clients out in the gym who was having some issues with his deadlift, and he tweaked his back a bit the last two weeks while deadlifting. I happened to be around and available while he was deadlifting, so I let him borrow my eyes. He started warming up with 135, and everything looked solid. His next set was around 165, and he went to put his belt on, which I thought was a little odd. I didn’t say anything at first because I thought that maybe he was just being cautious because of his recent tweaks. He approached the bar for his set up, and I immediately noticed something different. He wasn’t getting as great of an extension in his back like he was before with the 135, and I knew it couldn’t have been the weight because he only added about 25 to 30 lbs. I asked him when he was finished if it felt different, and he wasn’t really sure. I told him that he wasn’t getting his back set as well as it was without the belt. He took the belt off and went for his next set, and everything looked better than it did with the belt.
So, all I’m saying is that there is a time to wear a belt, and a time to refrain from using your belt. Those times are going to be up to you to decide when it is appropriate. If you are handling weight with no problems, then you probably don’t need one. If your form is constantly breaking down, and your back is breaking and rounding significantly, then it might be time to belt up. Just make sure that you don’t pull it so tight that you can’t even feel yourself bracing. I’ve seen people do this from time to time that belt up ridiculously tight, and their mentality is that the belt will help to compensate for their lack of ability to properly brace. You may be able to get by for a short period of time, but eventually the weight will win.
I hope this helps some of you in deciding the most appropriate time to put on a weight belt. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, post them below or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have been working with my client Jeff for about a year now. In that time he has made some pretty good strength gains. He is moving more weight than he has ever moved in his life. In addition, he is making some pretty good changes in his physique, adding on some quality size and a bit of muscle.
Jeff, Like everyone else, has faced some struggles along the way to get to this point. We have had some problems here and there locking in his squat technique, but he is getting better and better each week, and both he and I learn something new almost every time. He has been very consistent with his training from the beginning , and it is really starting to reflect in everything he does in the gym.
Below is a video of Jeff’s best deadlift of 315, which was shot last week. Check it out, and if you see him around the gym, take a moment to congratulate him of his hard work. We all like to hear from time to time that our hard work is paying off, even the highest level of athletes.
So, I wanted to share more of my struggle that I’ve been having with my training lately in Triphasic. I think it’s great to show my triumphs, and many people do that, but I also want to show some of my fails. We should all know by now that there isn’t any success without failure. I think it’s good for you all to see it, as well as my own clients, so they know that I too face difficulties in my training from time to time. Sometimes you have to fail in order to keep moving foreword.
This first video was actually a pr for me. That is if you want to count a wide stance, spider bar squat to a low box as a pr….lol! If you watch closely, my left foot,(your right, my left) shifts slightly foreword and out of position just a hair after I come up from my first rep. Thanks for the push guys.
Alright, this next video is one of my fails. we were pulling off of about 5 mats I believe. I actually decided to do this beltless because this is not my usual deadlift stance. I am a sumo puller, but we were doing opposite stance in this phase of our training. For some reason when I pull conventional with a belt, it seems to really mess with me and when I get set up at the bottom of the lift, I get a bunch of slack in my belt and it loses it’s tightness. I decided to go beltless at 405 and it felt good, 455 felt good, but then, when I got to 475, well…just watch for yourself. Excuse the language of my teammates…lol!
To be honest, I don’t really know why I missed it. The first two didn’t really feel that bad at all, but when I went of that third, it literally was just not there. After this I threw my belt on and tried it again, but it just didn’t happen. I have watched this video so many times since and found myself laughing almost every time I watched it. I freaking love my teammates and the way they push me and support me. They are a great group of guys and I wouldn’t want to train with any other group. Thanks for the push guys. Just remember that it’s okay to fail. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Every training day is an opportunity to start fresh and forget about the bad training day you had two days ago. Get it out of your mind, and SFW!
Since joining NBS almost 2 years ago when I was just interning here, I have managed to add about 100 lbs to my bench press, well over 100 lbs on my squat, and well over 100 lbs to my deadlift. Needless to say, if you are wanting to become a stronger version of yourself, then this is the only gym in Memphis that is right for helping you reach success. In addition to adding pounds to these lifts, I have put on about 30lbs of bodyweight in the time that I have been here, too! I truly believe that this wouldn’t have been possible had I not surrounded myself with others that were more knowledgeable on getting bigger and stronger than I was. In the time that I have been here, I have learned a couple of things along the way on how to pack on the pounds, and I would like to share them with you.
First of all, if you want to get big, consistency is king. You have to be consistent on your meals and on your training. Yes, there are probably going to be days when you “don’t feel like it”, and you may have to force feed yourself, but that is just the nature of the game. No one ever said it was going to be easy. Typically, depending on how big or small you are currently, you will probably be eating around 6 to 8 times per day about every 2 to 4 hours.
What you want to try to shoot for is to have all three of the macronutrients in your meals. Each meal should consist of a source of carbs, fat, and protein. Depending on what your occupation is, or how much whole food you can shovel into your mouth, you may want to supplement with one to two protein shakes throughout the day, but no more than two. A decent increase in bodyweight would be anywhere from 1 to maybe 2lbs per week. Anymore than that and you are probably going to end up having too much excess fat, or as some say, the wrong kind of weight. A little extra never hurt anyone, but too much could have a negative effect on your daily life, health. etc.
Recently I was dealing with some gastrointestinal discomfort and digestion issues. This, too, can be a common thing that people deal with when being in a hypocaloric state. For weeks I thought that it was something that I was eating that I just couldn’t digest very well. I tried a variety of different carbs, but nothing was working. I felt bloated all of the time, especially in the evening. I asked some of my peers about it, as well as mentioning it to my nutrition coach. I came to the conclusion that I should get some raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar, probiotics and digestive enzymes. Boom! A week went by, and I didn’t have any issues. Another week and another week, and now its been well over a month, and I have not had any problems, fingers crossed. So, if you’ve been looking to pack on the pounds, but have been dealing with bloat, and GI issues, I would give those a try immediately. I’m not saying it will work for everyone, but it worked for me.
Have a cheat meal once or twice a week. If you are one of those people that call yourself a “hardgainer,” then this will be ideal for you to help you pack on those stubborn pounds. Time and time again I hear people say that they “just can’t gain weight.” Well, the answer will always be the same, eat more! You are not exempt from the laws of thermodynamics! However, I will say that just like the journey goes for losing weight, it will be the same for gaining. It is not a sprint, it is a marathon, keep chipping away day by day, meal by meal and before you know it you will be a monster.
One of the great things about nutrition and your body is that it is dynamic; it is ever changing. You can go through periods of adding on weight and periods of losing weight. Usually, no matter which one you are doing, you will be learning something about nutrition and yourself. You will form new habits, some good and some bad. The important thing to realize is that it is a journey and you’ve got to learn to enjoy the journey. You may have slip ups from time to time, and that is okay. There is no success without failure.
As I stated earlier, I had someone to help and guide me along the way. If you aren’t well-educated in the science of nutrition, then we have some pretty experienced people here that can help you gain, or lose depending on what your specific goals are. Remember, it won’t always be easy, but if you want it bad enough, it will definitely be worth it.
Seeing how metal music is basically my favorite music in the whole wide world, I wanted to share a couple of tunes with you all from some bands I’ve been listening to lately. Music is a pretty important aspect in my life and I love sharing it with people, especially fellow metal heads. Since I first joined NBS, I thought I already knew of all of the metal that I ever cared to listen to, but I couldn’t have been more wrong! I swear it seems like every week I hear another band, or song and I think to myself, “man this stuff kicks ass!” Some of it is old stuff and some of it is new, but either way I like it. Just another reason why we are the best gym in Memphis. Without further ado ladies and gentlemen, here they are.
It’s safe to say that this list could probably go on forever, so I’m going to cut it off here and safe some for the future. Check some if these out if you want to hit some big pr’s. I like them and I hope you do.
I haven’t really given any updates on my training lately, so I figured I would give you all a quick glimpse. Its been about 9 months probably since the last time I was doing triphasic. In between that time I’ve pretty much been running 5 3 1, which as I have mentioned before, I’m pretty fond of. Now, I don’t always know whats going on in our coach David Allen’s head, or exactly how he does all of his programming for us, but I think he has changed things up just a bit from how he usually does things. I think all in all, he’s probably just trying to kill us. However, I’m sure if I survive, Ill be stronger, This is our second week in preparation for our next meet in September, which is approaching rapidly! Here are some short clis from this past weeks training. Both squat and bench are at 55% with bands, 6 sets of 3 with a 4 second negative. Been a while since I’ve used bands. I hope you enjoy, and I will try to keep some things coming out here and there as we get closer and closer to competition time.
If any of you are following along, then you know that I just had a birthday, and if you read my last blog, then you know I spoke about surrounding yourself with awesome people. Well, one of those awsesome people just so happens to be my girlfriend who got me a trip and much needed vacation, as a part of my birthday down to the Gulf in Perdido Key, AL. It has been a year, or maybe more since I had been able to take some time off to myself and just relax. You hear a lot of people say that you NEED to take some time off for yourself at least once a year to just relax and do absolutely nothing, no work, no worries, and yes, even no training. I feel like the longer you go without taking time off for yourself, the more you make a habit out of that, the more it becomes increasingly difficult for you to “work into your schedule” taking time off. Then, when you finally do it you think to yourself, “damn, I need to do this more often!” That is pretty much how I felt on this recent trip.
I was only gone from Wednesday to Sunday, but just that little bit made a huge difference for me. Just being able to wake up every morning n your own without the sound of an alarm is amazing in itself. I didn’t take the time to try to find a gym to train at because I wasn’t going to train. I’m not saying that I don’t ever train when I go out of town, or on vacation, but on this particular one I was going to be in complete relaxation. Plus, I was starting a new training program of triphasic on the following Monday in preparation for my next competition in mid September. Also I didn’t bother to pack any Tupperware and cook chicken and rice, again, this was a vacation, no worries, no food prep, no training. When I returned back home I felt great! I woke up feeling refreshed with a sense of mental clarity that I haven’t had in a while. I loved every second of it, and I am already looking forward to my next. Perhaps this next time we will take a trip out of the country and really see some sights. If you haven’t had a vacation in a while, one of those ones where you do absolutely nothing, then maybe its about time you do.
This past month I turned 27. I would have to say that it was a pretty good day all in all. I got to the gym at 6am to start training my clients, it was my last day for running our 5/3/1 hypertrophy program, the whole gym sang happy birthday to me, and I got some cake…well..two to be exact. It was a great reminder on my birthday that I am surrounded with some really awesome people that I am very grateful to have around. I’ve started to notice something as I get older, and that is the older I get the faster the years seem to fly by. One thing that I’ve come to realize as I age (and yes, I’m still really young) is that who you surround yourself with on a daily basis has a profound effect on who you are and the person that you become. This is something that I didn’t really think about, and probably didn’t even care about when I was younger, but as I age I realize that this means more and more to me if I want to have a quality life, and pursue the things in life that I want to do. People who want to be successful hang around other successful people.
With all of that being said, I am very happy with the place and the people that my life has led me to be around at this point. 26 has been a pretty good year for me, and I feel that 27 is going to be even better. Surrounding yourself with like minded people makes all of the difference when trying to reach your goals. And, not only are they good for helping you reach your goals, but they make your birthdays pretty sweet too! Thanks everyone!
So you’ve just got done with a competition, and the summer is coming up. You’d like to give your body a break from the grind of meet prep training. You’re making the transition over to hypertrophy-style training to try to get some bigger “gunz.” You know what they say, “suns out, guns out.” “Curls for the girls.” Everyone loves a massive set of wheels, right? Well, if this is you, don’t fall victim to some of these common mistakes people make when making the transition to hypertrophy style training.
First things first, hypertrophy style training is not like powerlifting. You aren’t just moving some heavy weight from point a to point b. You need to focus on how the weight feels, how does the specific muscle being targeted feel, and how good of a quality contraction are you getting. If you are having problems finding a connection with your muscles, then take time to focus and isolate each individual muscle that you are trying to work. Can you contract your left lat, your right quad, your left pec, your right calf, your biceps, etc. If you can’t consciously contract these muscles with no weight at all, then how are you going to do it under tension? Now, don’t get me wrong here, mechanical tension, i.e. the amount of weight being used, is one of the means for inducing muscle growth, but you will be missing out on all of those “gains” if you don’t start with a good base of connection and if you aren’t controlling the weight.
One thing I mentioned earlier was quality contractions. One way you can build up a quality contraction is by not alternating your exercises that you are doing for a particular muscle group every day, or every week. If you are constantly changing up your exercises or movements for a particular muscle group, then you will likely never build a great connection with that muscle because you are constantly having to get used to this new movement and how it feels to your body. My coach David Allen has told me before that he calls this “milking” a movement. You basically do one or two exercises for a particular muscle group until you feel like you can’t get anything else out of it. This could be anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks depending on your level of experience in lifting. After all, we do want to harvest “all of the gains!” Now, if you are older or tend to have pretty achy joints, you may want a little more variety in your movements. Give it a try and see if you build a better connection with a group that you may be having trouble with.
Another tip I would offer is not to go too hard too fast, especially if you are going to be doing the same movements for about 3 to 4 weeks. I have been guilty of this myself time and time again, as well as some of the other points I have made. If you push yourself to your absolute max on your first week of training these exercises how are you going to give yourself room to progress over the next couple of weeks? Sometimes this can be a difficult thing to do because most people feel that if they aren’t pushing to their absolute max, they are not making any progress, and that is just not the case here. I recall a line from the book Built to the Hilt by Josh Bryant I recently read that said the goal is “to stimulate, not annihilate.” One of the goals of building muscle is to do just the right amount of work to stimulate a muscle to grow. Create a stimulus and an adaptation will take place. Hopefully that adaptation will be bigger stronger muscles. The amount of stimulus will vary from person to person. One person’s stimulus might be another person’s annihilation. This will all depend on your level of experience in weight training. So remember, give yourself space to grow.
There is one last tip that I would like to cover and that is time under tension. You may have heard about this concept a time or two and wondered what it was. The name basically says it all. It is the amount of time that your muscles are under tension from the weight that you are using to train them with. I have been thinking about this a little over the past week and I recently had a conversation with a client about it. Let me give you this example. Let’s say we have two guys, one of them is a pretty big, muscular guy, and the other one is skinny with very little muscle mass. They are both doing curls using the same weight, doing the same set/rep scheme. The smaller guy goes to curl the weight and he uses just about every muscle in his body except his biceps to curl the weight, moving it from point a to point b. It takes him roughly 25 seconds to finish the set. He lets the weight control him, instead of him controlling the weight. Now, the bigger guy moves the weight in a very controlled manner, a very controlled eccentric with a great contraction at the top of the movement. He is definitely using strict form and his biceps are the prime movers of the weight. It takes him 45 seconds to complete the set. Now, what’s the main difference that you notice between both of their sets? It took the smaller guy 12 seconds and the bigger guy about 25 seconds. That’s 20 more seconds of time under tension for the bigger, more muscular guy. Over 4 sets that is 48 seconds. Over 4 weeks that turns into minutes, over a years time that turns into much longer. It’s no wonder the bigger guy is larger and more muscular, his muscles are under tension far longer then the smaller guy. Start trying to form better habits now for keeping things controlled and under tension longer and in a years time you’d probably be surprised at the amount of muscle you can put on, as well as the good connection you can build with them.
I hope some of these tips will help you in your journey to “harvest more gains.” The main thing to remember is that you aren’t just moving weight from point a to point b, you have to really focus on the feel. If you can take these principles and apply them to your training, then it should have a great carryover to your powerlifting style training. You will have bigger stronger muscles that are capable of a greater contraction and you will be able to move more weight when the time comes to just moving the it from point a to b. Plus, you’ll have big biceps, and who doesn’t want those?
Okay, Picking up where we left off, which was the conclusion of squats and now we’re heading into bench press. For me, bench press really didn’t seem like anything too special. Although, my opener and my second attempt were both meet pr’s, I just didn’t feel too amped up around this time. The meet and the flights were starting to drag, and I felt like I was beginning to tire. During bench, I was giving lift offs to my girlfriend, as well as another teammate who was also giving me a lift because that’s how we were doing it in our training cycle, and that’s what we felt comfortable with. I would find myself struggling to pay close attention to make sure that I wasn’t missing giving anyone a lift, and also that I didn’t miss my turn to warm up for bench. I would try my best to listen for names being called out over the mic over the loud music.
My female client was the first to go hitting her opener with ease. She hit her second attempt, and ended up missing her 3rd because the bar was dropped a bit too low on her chest and she just got out of groove. I know she had it in her though because she hit it in training. My girlfriend opened with 185 making it look easy, and jumped to 200 for her second. Now she hit this plenty of times in training, but I will admit that the jump made me a little nervous. She ended up hitting that as well, but just didn’t have enough left in the tank to hit her 3rd. Its kinda funny because that’s how it went for all of us. I ended up missing my third, which was my heaviest weight I hit in training at 295, but it just wasn’t there on meet day. My male client had things go exactly the same for him, hitting an opener at 315 easily. Smoked his 2nd attempt, and just didn’t have enough to make his third. At this point you could pretty much say we were all having the same meet. I’m sure we wanted more, but all in all were probably okay. one thing to remember is that things can always be worse.
The morning had slipped into the afternoon, and the afternoon had slipped into the evening and it was now time for deathlifts. For me, now was the time to start getting amped! I’m not sure if it works for everyone, but I can’t seem to rip a barbell off the ground if I’m calm, cool, and collected. I think by this time everyone was ready to end the meet and go home. Fortunately for me, deadlifts don’t require and knee wrapping, or lift offs, so for the most part everyone was on their own at this point. The first flight went, which included my female client who ended up going 3 for 3 on her deadlifts pulling a nice 315 on her 3rd attempt. Up next was my girlfriend who had pretty smooth 1st and second attempts. From there, she wasn’t sure what to do for her third. She only needed 15 more lbs to hit an elite total for her weight class. In order for her to get this, she needed to pull 350. She asked our head coach for his opinion and he said to go for it, which I think was a good call too, I mean why not. She ended up getting it off the ground, but got called for a hitch. I spoke with her afterwards and she knew that she had hitched it, she said she could feel exactly when it happened. She didn’t blame the judges one bit on their calling. Next up was my male client. Although he was in the second flight, our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd attempts were pretty much identical. He ended up going 2 for 3 hitting his 455 opener with ease, but just didn’t have enough left to hit his 500 3rd. He has hit that in training,but just wasn’t there on meet day.
Finally it was my turn! One of my fellow teammates, who was also a judge at this meet was there from my first attempt, all the way to my last in my ear giving me the encouragement that I needed. He could see that I was starting to drag and that I needed some amping up if I was going to pull my shit together. I puled my opener pretty easy, second attempt went descent as well. Now, I had set my third which was 500. I had not hit this number yet in training, but I had hit 495, so I knew it wasn’t completely out of reach. But I had also missed it twice in training. I had my entire team behind me supporting me, when I happroached the bar it felt as if everyone in the gym was cheering for me. I grabbed the bar and started to pull, a smile gradually started to fill my face! It actually felt a bit easier than I thought it would. I made locked it out, and returned it to the ground. I can’t even begin to describe the amount of joy that fell over me! One of the greatest feelings in the world!
Best lifts and totals for everyone:
Myself: squat-460 bench 285 Deadlift 500 1245
Courtney: squat-300 bench-200 deadlift-335 835
Sarah: squat-245 bench-155 deadlift-315 715
Cody- squat-400 bench- 325 deadlift-475 1200
I just want to take a moment to say how proud I am of all of them, everybody gave it their best and that’s all you can ask for. It was definitely a learning experience for me, and this is something that I will remember for the rest of my life! How could I ever forget the first time a became a competitor and a coach! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for all of us, there is so much more to come.
Picking up on where we left off last time, which was me trying to find some last minute assistance with wrapping my knees. It was at this time that I was doing my warm up sets on squats, and I was trying to get at least one or two sets in with wraps before my opener. All the while this was happening, my girlfriend was taking her attempts in the second flight and needed my help wrapping her knees. Prior to any of this, my female client had already taken all three of her attempts in the first flight. Unfortunatley, she missed her opener due to not hitting depth. The weight was not an issue for her, it was most likely due to her still not quite trusing the wraps, and not opening her hips enough on the descent we’ve all been there a time or two, I know I have before and probably will again. When she came back over I told her not to worry about it, the weight wasn’t an issue, she just needed about another inch to hit depth. She smoked her other two attempts. My male client was also in the second flight, and he had one of his good friends do his knee wrapping for the meet. He ended up going 2 for three on his squats, missing his third attempt. Not bad for squats on your first meet.
Now, back to myself, on my first wrapped warm up set of squats I had another gym member and friend of mine do my wrapping. This guy was also competing, but he was in the third flight. I wasn’t particularly too nervous about this because he was actually my wrapper in my very first meet almost a year prior to this one. To be completely honest I wasn’t really feeling the wrap that well, and I knew I needed to do something and do it fast. I ended up asking another teammate if he would mind helping me wrap. He was cool with it. He was in the second flight, so he would’ve been completely done with squats by the time it was my turn. This ended up working out quite well. Warm ups went good for the most part, and I ended up going 2 for 3 on my squats, just barely missing my 3rd. I was almost up with the weight, then I lost my back and started to collapse, I’ll have it next time! My girlfriend pretty much ended up in the same boat as all of us, and ended up going 2 for 3 on squats, just missing her 3rd attempt at 315. I know she’ll have it next time too! Tune in for part 3 to see how it all ends!
If there is anyone out there following along with my posts, then you know that I just recently competed in the RPS King of Spring meet here at NBS Fitness. What some of you may not have known is that I had two clients that were also competing in the competition, as well as my significant other, along with many other teammates. This was my first time having clients compete in the same event that I was participating in, in fact one of them was in the same weight division that I was in. Most of us, excluding my female client had water cuts leading up to weigh in day, which I think made some of us a little more nervous than usual. Check my cut out here.
One thing that made this competition a little more challenging than others was the fact that almost all NBS team members and just members in general were competing. This made little things like having a handler, and a person to wrap your knees a little difficult. With this being the case, most of us finally learned how to wrap our knees during the peaking phase of our training cycle. If you are interested in learning how to wrap, the check out this video. As long as I had another individual to pull the extra slack out of my knee wraps while I was actually doing the wrapping, I was good to go. Both of my clients had never really used wraps before, but I had both of them train with them in the last weeks of peaking, so they would at least have gotten under a heavy bar a couple of times with them before meet day.
With the day of the competition approaching rapidly, I knew that I would be wrapping myself, my girlfriend’s knees, and at least one of my clients, along with a superstitious teammate on the women’s powerlifting team who didn’t think she could hit a heavy bench, unless I wrapped her wrists. When I thought about all of this, it didn’t seem so bad, in fact I thought it would be a breeze.
So here it is, Saturday April 30th 2016. The day has finally arrived and we get to have our first powerlifting meet in the brand new facility for NBS. Anyone who has ever competed before knows that 9 times out of 10 you are going to be crammed into a pretty small place with a bunch of smelly and sweaty powerlifters all around you. During warm-ups I felt like a chicken running around with my head cut off, and I felt like that’s what everyone else looked like too. For many competitors, it was their first meet, which can always be a little nerve wrecking. Finally, the flights were posted. One client was in the first, another in the second, along with my girlfriend. I was in the last flight, along with some of my other close teammates, including my friend and fellow trainer who was going to pull the slack out of my wraps for me. In fact, he was about 3 people after me. After seeing the flight posted, I asked him if he still thought he would be able to assist me and he said he didn’t think he could swing it, and I couldn’t blame him one single bit. I got pretty nervous at first because I felt like things were already going wrong before I even got under the bar, but I just remembered what our coach had told us before, and that was the fact that things are never going to go exactly the way you want them to on meet day. You just have to adapt and change, so that’s what I did. Stay tuned for part two, to see how things went from there.
I am writing this article in an attempt to help anyone out that may not be at the time paying a professional to write out a structured program for them to follow. Since being at NBS and working under the wing of our owner David Allen, I have learned a couple of things about programming that I would like to share with you today. Too often I see people trying to overcomplicate their program and put in too many things that in reality, are probably just getting them further and further from their goals. Follow these 4 rules to keep your training program simple, but effective.
- keep things simple
Too often you tend to see beginners putting way too much into their program. If you have only been weight training for 4 to 6 months, chances are you don’t need to hit your biceps from 6 different angles with 6 different curl variations. Master one or two movements while practicing on a quality muscular contraction before moving on to something new.
2. Start out with full body routines
Again, if you are a beginner or have been out of the game of training for quite some time now, you don’t need a day dedicated to legs, chest, back, biceps, and triceps. I think you see where I’m going with this. If you are not an IFBB bodybuilder, stop training like you are one. Most of the people that train like that have multiple years of training under their belt and it is that type of stimulus that they need to elicit any changes in their body. If you find Jay Cutler’s 12 week mass gaining program in the latest Flex magazine, that doesn’t mean that you are going to look like Olympia stage ready Jay Cutler. Stick to doing a full body routine at least 3 to 4 days a week. This will allow you to force more frequency of training on multiple muscle groups which will yield you greater results in a shorter time as opposed to the split previously mentioned.
3. Allow yourself time to recover
If you feel guilty or feel like you’re not making progress unless your going hard in the gym 6 to 7 days a week, I would suggest taking a step back and allowing yourself more time for adequate recovery. I feel that some people forget the fact that recovery from all the hard work you put into gym comes when you rest and sleep. Again, if you are someone who is still fresh to training, this is especially important for you. Only if you have been training consistently for anywhere from 5 to 10 to 20 years, is a 5 to 6 day split more appropriate. Use your non weight training days as a means of active recovery.
4. Don’t neglect to do your cardio
I know, I get it, cardio sucks! But, you’ve got to do it. Your ability to recover in between your sets during weight training is going to be limited by how well you are conditioned. You can use your steady state cardio as a means of active recovery on your days off from weight training. This will make a tremendous difference in minimizing the feeling of delayed onset muscle soreness that comes along with proper weight training. Try experimenting with different methods. Some people prefer to do 20 to 30 minutes of steady state 3 to 5 times a week, while others prefer doing HITT style cardio. An example of this would be 15 seconds of work and 45 seconds of rest for 10 to 15 minutes straight. This type of training can be done with prowler sprints or even battle ropes. The possibilities are endless when it comes to cardio, the thing that matters most in the end is that you are doing it.
So there you have it, 4 rules to keep your training program simple but effective. Don’t fall victim to any of the latest fads or trends. Stick to what is true, tried, and tested, and has stood the sands of time. If you try things on your own and start to get to a point where you are no longer making progress and have hit a plateau, then get in touch with a professional that can get you headed in the right direction again. We have plenty of them here at NBS that can get you on the right track again.
So we finally had our RPS, King of Spring powerlifting competition here at our new facility at NBS. For myself, I would say all in all it was a pretty good meet. I don’t think that everyone on the team would say the same, but I would without a doubt say that we all went out there and did the best we could. For a lot of lifters, it was their first meet, which can always be nerve wrecking. The only thing that matters in the end is what were you able to take away from this experience to help yourself in the future.
I ended going 7 for 9 with all of my lifts. I missed my 3rd attempt squat, and my 3rd attempt bench press. Had I hit my squat, it would’ve been a nice little 15lb pr. I hit my 3rd attempt bench in our training cycle fairly easy, but it just wasn’t there on meet day. I was able to pull it together on my third attempt deadlift hitting 500lbs. Best squat was 460, best bench was 280. I think everyone was feeling a little run down towards the end seeing as how the meet started at 9am, and didn’t end until about 8:30 pm. On top of all of this, I did about a 13lb water cut the week of the meet, which you can read about in my other teammates blog We had a couple of ladies here at NBS hit elite totals in their first meet, which is pretty cool, as well as one that hit a 200lb bench and another who hit a 410lb squat!
I just want to say how proud I am of everyone and how they did on competition day. It is more than a privilege to be surrounded with all of the incredible people that I get to be around on a daily basis. I couldn’t ask for a better support system, than the one that is provided here. I know not everyone had the meet that they had planned for, but all the more sweeter it will be when you do have things go your way. You only really lose if you don’t learn something from your experience.
In closing, I would like to thank everyone who made this day possible. Many people do not realize the amount of work that goes in to making these things happen, and we have the best people in the city of Memphis working hard to provide the best gym in Memphis. Thank you to all who helped make the meet a reality, as well as everyone who helped out to move everything into the new facility. Great things are in store for NBS.
It’s been about a year now that I handed the wheel over to my coach, David Allen and had him start my nutrition programming. In addition to this, I have been training powerlifting for about a year and four months now. When I first started with him, it was a little challenging to make the necessary adjustments that were needed to stay consistent with everything. I find that this is one aspect of my journey that I enjoy the struggle of because it helps me better relate to my clients when they are having trouble and are looking for advice on what to do. I find it hard to help people out who are having problems if I haven’t experienced those problems for myself. Everyday that I face a new problem, I just try to see it as an opportunity to help another friend, client, or family member out in the future that may be facing a similar situation.
When I was young, I never wanted to “listen to my elders” and what they were trying to tell me, not realizing that they themselves have been through many different scenarios in life, and they may actually have an idea of what they are talking about. This is just another reason why I believe that having an experienced coach to guide you along your fitness journey will be much more beneficial, rather then trying to blindly do things on your own and having to learn things “the hard way.” The biggest thing that I have come to realize is that these things take time and they will not happen over night. Nothing is a quick fix. It will take discipline, it will take sacrifice, and it may not always be fun. Through struggle, comes success. Learn to enjoy the process, and you will reap the benefits.
Below are some photos of my year in nutrition, and my almost year and a half powerlifting. My journey is just beginning.
So I got a pretty cool opportunity this past Sunday to go see one of my favorite metal bands of all time, Disturbed! It was really fun to go out with a couple of friends from the gym and get our faces melted off! What I really enjoyed most about this show is that it was in a much smaller venue, the New Daisy Theater. I haven’t been to this place in a very long time, and it was pretty cool to see some of the changes that have taken place there with the renovations. It’s not everyday that you get to see such a big band in a smaller, intimate setting. Had some good food before the show at one of our gym members restaurants down on Beale Street called Kings Palace. I would recommend it to anyone looking for some good Cajun, creole food. I don’t think I have sweat that hard in an inside venue in quite a while, but hey, we all have to make sacrifices from time to time to see our favorite bands. I’ve got some pictures and videos posted below. They actually did a pretty cool medley of some cover songs from bands like The Who, Rage Against the Machine, Nine Inch Nails, and Simon and Garfunkel. Hope you guys enjoy, and remember, we are all disturbed! Lol!
In my first article, I want to talk about a couple of reasons why it is important to be on some type of program. Not everyone can get a degree in Exercise Science, spend 10 years working with clients, and building experience but you can work with someone who has done just that. Not everyone knows what they’re doing when it comes to writing a sound, structured training program, and that’s okay. I don’t know how to do trigonometry or rebuild the engine of a car. That’s why we hire someone with the knowledge and experience that can.
1.Work with someone who knows what they are doing
The best way to tell if you know if you’re working with someone who knows what they are doing, is if that person actually has real life experience with what they are coaching. Do they practice what they preach? If you are working with someone who knows what does and doesn’t work because they have tried and tested it themselves, then you have a much better chance of wasting less of your time. Working with a trainer or coach who knows what they are doing will not only help you reach your goals but it should help you do it in the safest, most efficient way possible.
2.It will make you step outside of your comfort zone
Since coming to NBS Fitness I have learned that stepping outside of your comfort zone is vitally important to your success. It is when you step outside of your comfort zone that you truly start to become something else, something that you may not of expected you could ever become. When you work with someone else, whether that be with personal training or online training, that person is typically going to have you do things that you wouldn’t normally choose to do on your own. All trainers have a different approach to things and will usually have different methods of programming but if it is a well thought out and methodical program, then there should be no question that it will help you get to where you want to be. I know from first hand experience that this has worked for me. Since I have joined NBS, I have been following a program and has helped me step outside of my comfort zone time and time again. It has help me get comfortable with being uncomfortable. This type of mentality isn’t limited to just the gym but also transfers over to other aspects of life like developing new business relationships or just meeting new people.
3.It will make you do something even if you don’t “feel” like doing it
Having a program to follow will keep your from making poor decisions and changing things up based upon how you feel on that particular day. Sometimes we need the structure of a program to keep the emotions of daily life from hindering our progress and having a negative effect on our training. Most people I know who go to the gym don’t like to think about what they are doing or what they are going to do. They’ve already been pushing themselves mentally through the day, now they just want to blow off some steam and push themselves physically. Since I have joined NBS there hasn’t been a single time that I’ve gone into the gym and I didn’t know exactly what I was going to do. Sure, there are going to be times your body is feeling a certain way and maybe you don’t “feel” like doing this or that today. Well the gym doesn’t care about your feelings, an elite total doesn’t care about your feelings, and a first place trophy doesn’t care about your feelings. Your weight loss goals doesn’t care about your feelings either. Sometimes if you want to progress, you have to do it regardless of how you feel. There are days that you go to work even though you may not”feel” like going in but you do it anyways because if you didn’t, you wouldn’t make any money. If you don’t follow and stick to program, then you have no way of measuring your progress. Your basically just pissing into the wind.
4. It’s cost effective
If personal training isn’t your thing or outside of your budget, hiring a trainer to do online programming for you is a very cost effective option. You can even combine the two to get some one on one work to guide you towards the beginning and a program to follow from there. Also, if you want to work with someone that you can’t logistically personal train with, online programming is a way for you to still work with them.
So, this is my call to action for you. Get on a program and stick with it, stay on one for as long as you can. Stop staying in your comfort zone! Find someone that will push you to do things that you never thought were possible. Stop going through the motions or doing things for likes on your Instagram and start making real progress.
If you are interested in doing online programming. I can be reached using the form on the sidebar to the right.
So here we are at about 3 and a half to four weeks out from our King of Spring powerlifting competition here at NBS. It’s that special time where everyone is slipping into something a little more comfortable, like singlets and the dreaded knee wraps. It’s this time of the training cycle that really captured me when I started here as an intern and made me want to join the powerlifting team here at NBS. The sweat, the emotions, the screaming, slapping, and all of the help that you get from your other teammates when you are getting ready to “smash” some heavy weights.
There is a trend that I have been noticing among various people as the competition draws near us. I’ve talked with a couple of folks around the gym who I thought were competing, but have decided not to, or have even decided not to do full power because they feel that they are lacking in one of the big lifts. The only legitimate reason to not do a full meet is if you are facing a debilitating injury that is preventing you from performing one of the big three. The truth is that you are never going to be as strong as you want to! Your bench will never be big enough, your squat will never be big enough, I think you get the idea. I think that this decision is mostly due to a persons ego getting in their way, particularly guys. They tell themselves that they have a 400lb bench, a 550lb deadlift and a 315 lb squat, so they are only going to do a push pull meet. Okay, so you only squat 315, yea that sucks, but there’s nothing that a little technique adjustment with one of our trainers here couldn’t do to help that shoot up to 415, or 450. Before you know it you’ll be on your way to squatting 1000! Okay, maybe that’s just a bit ambitious, but all good things come with time.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that if you think you have a lift that sucks, nobody really cares anyways. Most people are going to be concerned with themselves and the numbers they are putting up, not with what you are squatting. My advice is to just suck it up and go ahead and get the experience of doing a full meet under your belt. For all you know, you could spend 4 months out of a year trying to perfect your squat, and end up bombing out in your competition because you weren’t mentally prepared. Do the full meet, get a total, and work hard the next training cycle to be better than you were before. Like they say, strength is a marathon not a sprint. It’s you against you. Unless there’s another guy or girl in your weight class who’s ass you want to kick…lol!
Also, I thought I’d start throwing in some cool tunes here and there of some stuff that I like to listen to inside and outside of training. Maybe if you like it, you can add it to your playlist and get your squat bigger!
What’s up everyone? I just wanted to check back in and give some updates on how my training went this past week with Bench and Deadlift. Wednesday was our day to bench and everything felt pretty good, especially my last set. I worked up to 245 for a single and went up 10lbs each set until I got to 275. This was actually a 15lb pr for me since my meet in December. I definitely left some in the tank because I didn’t want to push things too hard still being about 5 or 6 weeks out from the meet in April, but for now bench is feeling great!
Friday was deadlift day, and a slightly different story. As I stated in my last blog, my previous single I worked up to on deadlift was 455, so I figured I would try to work up to 475 this time. Things were feeling pretty good working up in weight on these and I had my other teammate, Christian Anto looking at some of my top sets, and he thought everything was looking solid. You’ll notice in the video that I am pulling sumo style, which is something that is still fairly new to me, so I am still doing some fine tuning on it. In all of my previous training cycles, I have always used conventional style, but for the first time since our coach David has had us do them, they actually feel good.
If you’ll notice in the video, my deadlift is a bit slow. If you look at my hips right before I pull, you will see that they are just a little too high and not open enough. Had I gotten that locked in better, there would have much better leg drive, and it probably would’ve been much more faster. At least for now I know what I need to work on for next time. Hope you all enjoy, and feel free to give me any feedback in the comments section, and let me know if there is anything that any of you would like to hear about in future articles, or blogs. Thank you.
Alright, everyone bear with me for the next couple of weeks. Blogging is something that is still new to me and I’m still trying to get a feel for everything. We’ve got a lot of stuff going on at NBS right now. We are moving into our new facility in about 2 or 3 weeks, and we have a strongman competition and a powerlifting competition booked in the same month! I’m a little nervous, but very excited for all of the new changes that are about to come. With all of that being said, I figured I would just touch on my training for a minute, and let everyone know how its been going.
For the past 12 or 13 weeks our coach David Allen has had us running a variation of 5/3/1. Personally, I have been enjoying the hell out of it! Its been pretty cool getting back to doing some overhead pressing and working with varying percentages each week. And best of all, my teammates and I have actually been getting stronger! We’ve been training in three week cycles, and every 3rd week we hit a single for each of the four main movements. My last competition was in December, and my best lifts were Squat-450, Bench-260, and Deadlift-455. 3 weeks ago, I took my bench press for a single and hit 260 with no issues. That same week I hit a 455 deadlift pretty easily too. Two days ago on Monday, I hit a 420 squat for 1, (no wraps). This is posted in the video below. The first two lifts were hit at about 8 or 9 weeks out from the meet, so needless to say I’m pretty happy with the way things have been going. I will try to continue to keep everyone updated on how everything is going leading up to the meet, and post some videos as well. In the mean time, I hope you all enjoy my blogs and articles to come in the future.