Thursday, 28 July 2011

Pre-Training Rituals and Focus

I have seen countless athletes and gym rats alike who plod through their training sessions at such a slow pace, with huge rest times, despite complaining they do not have much time to train. When they walk through the gym doors, they are making excuses and saying they will probably be cutting it a bit short, or just doing a bit of this, or a bit of that, or "going light", regardless of the fact that they did this the week before and the week before that.  I have seen people amble through warm ups, performing a token gesture towards joint mobilisation and SMR (a token gesture i suppose is better than nothing at all).  They idle through a few warm up sets and then somehow out of nowhere expect to hit personal bests and break records all of a sudden when they finally get to a weight which is challenging.  If you don't turn up with the right attitude, and don't know exactly what you are trying to achieve, it will be by sheer luck and coincidence if you make much progress.
It is essential to have a plan and stick to it.  Know before you turn up to train what you want to get out of your session.  Remember how previous training sessions have gone, establish which areas need work, and focus your attention  on the task in hand. I fully understand that a lot of people come straight from work, and their mind is likely to be elsewhere, but I feel it is essential to get your head right before you train. If you come through the doors with your mind elsewhere on other things, it is unlikely you will be able to focus once in the gym.  I would recommend that those wanting real results, take just a couple of minutes before they come into the gym to focus their mind, think about what they are trying to achieve, and make sure they know exactly what they are going to do.  Just sitting in your car for 3 mins is enough to do this.  Its enough time to clear your head of everything else. If you've had an argument with your other half, or if your boss has given you grief, or if you are worried about this or that, whatever it is cannot be on your mind when you start to train.
If you want to lift big weights it takes a huge amount of concentration and with that a whole load of determination.
Find a pre-training ritual, a way of preparing yourself before you train.  It might be 15 mins long and include taking any pre-workout drinks, applying tiger balm or deep heat to sore joints, or whatever other ritual.  Or it might be as simple as sitting in your car with the radio off and just taking a few seconds and a few deep breaths.  Either way it is vital, in my opinion, to ensure that you don't come and 'drift' through the whole session not really being switched on.   For those of you who play sports, in particular contact sports, most of you will have pre-match rituals which you rely on to get you feeling prepared to compete.  A similar thing should be in place for when you train.  Especially if you are looking to maximise the results of your training.

If you are happy having half arsed training sessions where you finish up with that thought in the back of your mind that you could have done more and weren't really focussed, then carry on how you are.  Personally I am certain I train more effectively when I start the session right.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Including General conditioning into a programme already containing 5-6 weights and calisthenics sessions per week

1st day back adding in GPP to my training, dragged 40kg for a 1000m non stop fast pace walk.  Took approx 15 mins. Was very comfortable which is ideal, as GPP should never be too taxing to the muscular system or CNS.  Will do this every day from now on for the next two weeks and then change to hill climbs. This will of course be additional to my current 5-6 sessions per week of regular weight training.   #EitherGotheExtraMileOrGiveUpAndDie

I will post again asap with details of why I have included this and with details on how to apply this to your own training


Sunday, 15 May 2011

Quick training update

Quick training update.

Last week saw more improvements.
Squat saw 2 triples at 220kg
Deadlift saw new personal best of 230kg (sumo)

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Max Effort Lowerbody 25/04/2011

Yesterday saw a couple of new Personal bests for both myself and Ross Gribble.
Squats were taken up to some heavy singles.  My top set, and new Personal Best, was 250kg, (click the link to see video)

and Ross also hit a new Personal best at 260kg. (click link to see video)

Deadlifts were done using the trap bar, and both myself and ross, managed a fairly comfortable 256kg.
(click the links to see video footage)

A great start to a new week.

Friday, 22 April 2011

My first session with a bench shirt

Tried out my Titan Fury F6 bench shirt today. This is the first bench shirt I have used and so is going to take some getting used to. After warming up and Ross, Hedi,and Lewis helping me get into the shirt, I ramped up with a few singles up to 170kg. I knew this first session in the shirt would be a case of breaking it in and gradually over the course of the session I managed to get the bar down lower and lower. Finished on a 170kg 2 board press. And will return to using the shirt again next week. Shoulders and triceps are cut and bruised from the shirt but it's just one thing will have to get used to until shirt has loosened up a bit.

Happy lifting

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Upperbody training update

Today was upperbody max effort. Took the slingshot bench up to 160kg for 3 reps. Still getting stronger. Great week so far. Rest day tomorrow so plenty of SMR and mobility and stretching

Squat training update

Yesterday was glad to get back after a deload week of lifting light weights. Squatted and worked up in 3's up to 200kg Then did a set of 5 on 210kg and then 2 reps on 220kg. This was my previous one rep max from 3 weeks ago so glad to have already pushed past this. I can smell 250 on the horizon or maybe even 6 plates. Just being patient and biding my time and slowly but surely I'll get there

Friday, 1 April 2011

Training update

Pretty successful week. Monday was max effort upper body, finally nailed a new PB on the squat getting a comfortable 220kg. Deadlifted 220kg for 1 rep, and realised technique needs a little adjustment and so this will be a focus over next few weeks. Had been using mark Bell's slingshot band for the bench press max effort and on Tuesday pressed 165kg for one. Returning to regular pressing next week and hoping get a good carry over. Successfully completed 2 more dynamic Sessions with no problems and now am resting up for the weekend and preparing for Next week.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Training Update

Haven't a posted any notes on training recently so thought would give an update.

Squat has shown good improvements with last week hitting 200kg for 5 reps, and this week 210kg for 3 reps.  Am hoping to finally crack the 220kg mark very soon which I have had as a target for the last 18 months.
Deadlift, I have decided to have a play around with using a Sumo stance and so this week only took it to 200 for  2 reps just to try and get the hang of it.  Still needs some work, but feel stronger in that stance so will continue and see how it improves in upcoming weeks.
On the bench press, I used a slingshot band this week for the first time and got a very comfortable 4 reps on 140kg, but will look to improve on this next week.  I am using the slingshot band for a 3-4 week cycle, to accustom myself to heavier weights and push past my 140kg plateau, but following this will return to regular bench press.
I have upped my conditioning work as well, including much more sled work, and a lot of kettlebell squats and swing variations.

4 Prowler /. Dragging Sled Variations

In light of the recent EliteFTS article listing some prowler suicide variations I thought I would post a few of my own sled drills up here.  For all those who don't have a prowler sled at your gym or a dragging sled, get to somewhere that does and give these a go.
With help from some of the guys, have given these drills nicknames.
Here we go.

  1. "The Gribbler"
        • For this you will need 7 x 20kg plates (weights can of course be adjusted to suit the individual), 1 x prowler sled, 1 dragging sled, 2 black heavy bands, 1 x 1m sling
        • You will also need a 50m straight section of tarmac or concrete to use as the full course is 50m long.
        • Load up the dragging sled with 5 of the 20kg plates, attach the sling and the heavy black bands to form a harness.
        • Load the prowler with 2 x 20kg plates
        • Push the prowler sled 25m, whilst dragging the other sled (using the band harness).
        • Without stopping, push the prowler aside and keep running another 25m still draggin the sled until you reach the end of the course.
        • Rest for 30 secs (in this time someone needs to have turned the prowler around facing the start)
        • Sprint with the dragging sled for 25m and as you approach the prowler hit it and drive it 25 m, all the way to the end.
  2. "The Bear Trap"
        • The first half of this drill is exactly the same, but while you are resting for 30 seconds at the far end, a sandbag (we use a 70kg one) is loaded onto the prowler sled.  Then on the return journey, when you pass the 25m mark, you leave the dragging sled behind and drive the sled (+sandbag) a further 25m back to the start.
  3. "Fully loaded"
        • For this drill you need a prowler sled loaded with 2 x 20kg plates, One 45kg keg and one 45kg sandbag. (Once again of course weights can vary depending upon the individual)
        • This drill requires a 25m strip of tarmac or concrete.
        • You set up with the prowler sled at one end, and the keg and sandbag at the other.
        • You push the prowler 25m to the end, and load on the keg, and push back to the start.
        • You then push the prowler (+the keg) back to the far end, load on the sandbag as well and push back to the start.
  4. "The Slayer"
        • For this you will need a prowler loaded with 2 x 20kg plates, and a set of cones, and a 50m strip of tarmac or concrete to lay out the course.
        • This is a series of shuttle runs.
        • You set a cone for the start, then 1 cone at 5m, 1 cone a further 5m, 1 cone a further 15m, and one cone a further 25m, totalling the 50m course.
        • This is a timed event.
        • Push the prowler (from the upright poles) 5m then leave the prowler where it is and sprint back and touch the start line.
        • Sprint out to the prowler and drive it another 5m to the next cone, then again leave the sled and sprint back to the start.
        • Sprint out to the sled again and this time push it 15m to the half way mark, once again leaving the sled there and sprinting back to the start and back.
        • Push the sled to the far end of the course (the final 25m).
        • Then using the low pegs, push the prowler 50m all the way back to the start.



Monday, 7 March 2011

Wanting to Win Vs Working to Win

Whatever your goal or aim when training, why aim for mediocrity?  I spoke to a couple of people recently who stunned me, when I asked them what they were aiming for, they said they wanted to get really strong, and yet after further discussion it seemed that the more they found out about how hard the process can be and how mentally tough one must be to keep battling, they said "oh well I don't want to be THAT strong".  I have come across this attitude before, and I always hear the same thing, they say they want to achieve something, and then when you explain to them what is involved, they slip into denial and start setting limits as to what they actually want to achieve. This is simply fear of committment and hardwork, and is something people should learn to overcome.
I have a friend who contacted me asking if I would give him some advice as to how to train in preparation for starting back into rugby for next season, after a 2 year gap.  I started explaining to him that first thing he should do is come down to the gym so I could check his technique on his main lifts (squat, dead lift, bench, power cleans etc).  I explained that if he wanted to get stronger, technique is paramount and should be a primary focus throughout any programme.  He came back with that he had 'pretty good technique already' and that 'he had been training in gyms for 8 years and although his technique might be perfect, it was good enough for what he wanted'.  I knew this wasn't the case, and explained that to build true strength, he must treat his training as a learning process and not just a 'workout'.  He then recoiled and after all his initial enthusiasm, said, 'Oh well I don't want to be THAT strong, I just want to get a little bit stronger'.  After this, all sorts of excuses came out including how he couldn't be bothered to keep a training diary, as he hated having to do homework.
This for me is a perfect example of the difference between a successful athlete and someone who will always be on and off the sideline bench for an average/poor team.  Lots of athletes want to win, but not enough as prepared to work to win.  Some small steps towards taking a more structured and organised approach to training, and a few words about how he was going to have to actually work on technique were enough to put him off.
If someone does not want to achieve much from their training and are happy pottering along, doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and getting a BIT stronger, and maybe putting on a little BIT of muscle, or getting a BIT fitter, or losing a BIT of body fat then I have no problem with this.  What I find frustrating is when people profess to want to win, they say they want to achieve great things, but when it comes down to it, they just can't step to the plate because they shy away from the hard work, and then start to lower their own goals in line with the amount of effort they really can be bothered to put in.
Now I haven't broken any world records, and it is likely I never will, but I have over the last few years taken leaps and bounds with my training.  I am stronger, fitter and more powerful than ever before, and it frustrates me when I get friends who ask me what my secret is, because there is no secret.  I have simply stuck at it. I've worked at it, and have persisted even when things seemed impossible or I lost sight of why I was doing it. When I've felt like my body has been through a million car crashes, or I've thrown up, or I've got ill, or I've just lost motivation.  I've had great training sessions, but I've also had shocking ones.  But there has been a driving force which has picked me up and told me to do it all over again the next day.
Nobody will give you it, you can't just want to win, to just want to get better, and stronger and faster and fitter, you MUST at all costs WORK to win, and be prepared to do EVERYTHING it takes.  You must point everything in the right direction.  If, for example, your diet is bad and letting you down, you have to ask yourself, what do you love more, cakes and biscuits, or nailing a new personal best on your squat?  It all comes down to how much are you really prepared to do?

Working to Win i

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Cycle 2, week 3 update

Bench 5/3/1 day yesterday. 125 for 6. Not too pleased with that but still moving forward.
Deadlifted today 5/3/1, top set got 190kg for 10. Felt strong. Followed this with banded box squats and achieved much better loading of the hamstrings and glutes as well as taking the box down to a lower depth. Managed to really lock in tight and keep a tight arch in the back and pushed the hips right back so the lower leg was past vertical. Those who have done box squats properly will know what this means.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Squat day

Cycle 2, week 3, day 1, squat day, top set 182.5kg x 10reps. Great start to the week and rounds off a great cycle for the squat.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Cycle 2, week 2, day 3 (deadlifts)

Deadlifted today, 180kg was top weight, 3 was the target, ended up getting 13reps. Very successful month so far

Equipment coming soon...

Currently pricing up some atlas stones and planning out the construction of a power-rack platform to lift them onto. The atlas stones will make a nice addition to the current strongman kit here at the gym (steel log, farmers walk handles, duck walk, heavy tyres, super yoke, sandbags, kegs, dragging sled and the two prowler sleds)

Also coming soon:

Football Bar
More sandbags
Another utility bench
A second trap bar (narrower basic kind)
More heavy duty flooring mats so provide even more lifting space

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Cycle 2 week 2 squat day

3 was the target today on our top set of squats and both myself and Graham managed to exceed the target comfortably with myself getting 14 reps @ 172.5kg, and Graham getting 13 reps at the same weight. Now thinking of increasing by 5kg for next cycle as opposed to just 2.5kg. Don't want to get ahead of myself but feel this is the sensible choice. Noticing an increase in lean muscle mass, large reduction in bodyfat and I am eating like a horse at every opportunity.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Priscilla and Peaches

'Priscilla' and 'Peaches' just hanging out

9.24am Tuesday 8th Feb

Morning's jobs completed.  Off to the gym to Bench. Feeling strong.  Busy day today

Monday, 7 February 2011

2nd cycle of 5/3/1, week 1, day 1

Squats 5's day of 2nd cycle. Nice start to the week smashing my target of 5 reps @ 162.5kg by getting 17reps on top set

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Picture from Saturday

Setting up equipment for a Saturday Strongman Session

Sun 6th Feb

Absolutely shattered. But succeeded on getting all this weekends tasks done. Always love the feeling of ticking that last checkbox off my to do list. Programmes written and research done. Off to bed to get a good nights sleep before tomorrow's squat session

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Saturday Strongman Training

Very few turned out today, but meant the faithful few could work on technique and focus on their own training. Prowler sled work was the finisher, and the main session included a lot of work on the battling ropes, HASD's, heavy sandbag lifts (over the yoke) and some sled rope hand over hand hauls. We also did a seated rope 25yrd car pull with a 4x4. Proved too easy. We need bigger vehicles to move next time

Farnham Knights Strongman Training photos

Monday Morning Circuits

Fixing your weaknesses

5/3/1 and checking your ego

The importance of grip training

The effects of alcohol on training

Staying injury free this season