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