Strength Training Club

Ælfric

New member
want to fill a couple of hours

I can understand your desire to do more exercise, but quantity is the enemy of quality, in two ways.

Over-training and Recovery

You do not get stronger in the gym, you get weaker. When you lift weights, you break down the muscle. You're doing micro damage to the muscle tissue, literally causing little tears in the muscle fibres.

You get stronger and, hopefully, bigger muscles by resting and repairing the damage after training. The process is called recovery. Unless you're genetically blessed (and probably using chemical assistance), it takes more than 24 hours to repair the damage. For some, 48 hours is adequate, for others, a week isn't long enough. As you age, the time needed to fully recover will usually get longer.

Too much training, and not enough recovery, leads to over-training, the result of which is is you stop progressing, or worse, start going backwards.

Dilution of Effort

Weight training is most effective when the muscles are being pushed hard. Muscles, above and beyond what you need to function on a day to day basis, are not a survival characteristic—they burn calories that in lean times shorten the time you can survive. This is one reason why you lost muscle when you lost weight—you're running a calorie deficit and your body will do whatever it can to reduce the calorie requirements, which means get rid of muscle.

To get the body to create new muscle, you have to convince it that the muscle is required for your survival. You do that by pushing the muscles you have to, or very close to, their limit. If you do lots of exercise with relatively light weights, you'll increase the muscle's endurance, but not it's strength. Think about walking as an extreme example: you take thousands of steps (reps) every day, but your legs get no stronger.

To provide a stimulus to grow, you need to lift a weight that is close to the maximum you can lift. In a perfect world, you'd lift 100% of your maximum possible lift for one rep. In a more realistic world, you might lift 94% of your maximum for five reps, or 75% for 20 reps, or some other scheme where you trade off weight for repetitions. But you don't want to have too many repetitions, or you reduce the weight to the point where you don't push the muscles hard enough to trigger growth.

How many reps is ideal varies from person to person, and from msucle group to muscle group, but 15–25 would be a good starting point. This is per muscle group, not per exercise.
 

Ælfric

New member
Enough theory, on to the practical stuff:

Exercise selection

You can actually cover pretty much every muscle of any consequence with just three exercises (obviously you need to pick the right three exercises :)). You'll notice when I discussed your workouts above, I grouped the exercises into Legs, Push, and Pull. That was for a reason. Pick one compound exercise from each category, and you'll cover nearly every muscle. So lets look at what exercises are in each group.

Legs
  • Squats: Squats mainly work the quads and glutes, but they also work the calves, hamstrings, hip adductors, and core. Depending on the variant, they may also work some of the upper body (e.g., Zercher squats work the upper back due to the way the bar is held cradled in the elbows). Any variant is good except box squats (there's a risk of compressing your spine btween the bar on your shoulders and the box under your butt if you come down too far or too fast) and smith machine squats (the bar in a squat does not travel straight up and down, so the smith machine forces your body to adapt to an unnatural pathway, which can stress your joints in ways they are not designed to be stressed). To squat safely, you need one of three things:
    • a power rack to catch the bar should you fail to complete a rep;
    • a spotter to assist you to complete a rep should fail to complete it; or
    • a squat variant where you can ditch the bar safely shoudl you fail a rep (the Zercher squat).
  • Dead lifts: Deads mainly work the hamstrings and glutes, but they also work the quads, core, lats, upper back and forearms. Because the bar is below and to the front of you, it's easy to bail out if something goes wrong. Deadlifts come in two forms: those where the knees stay relatively straight and the lift is based around the hips (the so called "stiff legged" deadlift and Romanian DLs); and the bent legged lifts (which also work the quads and calves somehwat). There are two deadlift variants to mention:
    • Parallel grip dead lift (a.k.a. trap bar or hex bar dead lift): This falls somewhere between a conventional deadlift and a squat. The upper body remains more upright (like a squat) and you bend the knees (like a squat), but the mechanics are still closer to a dead lift than a squat. Because you're standing inside bar, the centre line of the bar can pass through your knees (unlike a conventional deadlift where the bar has to go around your knees, pulling you forwards), which can help with balance. Having the hands in the neutral alignment can make the bar easier to hold and put less stress on the elbows and wrists. There's also less tendency to over-pull and hyperextend the spine at the top of the movement.
    • Sumo dead lift: This is a lift with a wide stance, where you reach between your legs to pick up the barbell. Some people find this easier than the conventional deadlift, but it turns out to be mechanically closer to a squat than a deadlift.
  • Leg press: While squats and deadlifts are the gold standard, leg presses are a viable alternative. There are two big disadvantages of the leg press: they remove all of the muscles in the upper body from the exercise, including the tendency to switch off the core, and it is very easy to round your lower back because the hip flexion range of motion required is much larger, and can easily go beyond the point where you can maintain a neutral spine. Rounding your back when your core is switched off is not a fun experience.
  • Lunges and split squats: These work the same muscles as the conventional squats. The advantage is that they are non-symetrical, and so introduce twisting and larteral forces, providing work for a large number of stabilising muscles that aren't utilised in the conventional squats and deadlifts. The disadvantages are the weight you can lift is limited, and that they are highly dependent on having a good range of motion in your hip flexors.
Push
  • Bench press: benches work the chest, front of the shoulders, and triceps. The closer together your hands, the more the exercise focuses on the triceps. Any variation other than smith machine benches is good. The one handed versions will work the core and shoulder stablisers as well.
  • Overhead press: work the shoulders, triceps, and upper back (traps). The will hit the core (if standing or sitting without a back support) and one handed versions especially will work the shoulder stablisers as well.
  • Incline press: these are halfway between a bench and an overhead press, done on a bench inclined anywhere from 30° to 60°. Same muscles and comments as for those exercises.
  • Parallel bar dips: Chest, shoulders, back, and triceps. While the name says parallel bars, I would try to find somewhere where the bars can be toed in 10°–20°, which can reduce the stress on your shoulder joint. If you're in a gym, you can probably find a machine for these, they usually look like a platform you can stand on, with a cable and weight mechanism that partly supports you, so you can dip with less than your full body weight.
Pull
  • Lat pulldown: These work the lats, upper back, lats, and biceps, with some effect on the chest as well. You can take either a close grip with the hands supinated (facing you) or a wide grip with the hands facing forward (pronated). You can probably pull more weight with the close grip. You may find an attachment that will let you use a neutral, parallel grip.
  • Chins (supinated grip) and pullups (pronated grip): Same exercise as the pulldown, but using body weight instead of a cable and weight mechanism. The assistance machine of dips mentioned above will generally have a set of higher bars for doing these exercises as well.
  • Row: Rows work the lats, upper back, biceps, back of the shoulders, and forearms. There are all sorts of variations using barbells, cables, dumbells and machines, either one or two handed. Some, especially the one handed variants, also work the core effectively.

Basic Workout Structure

A simple basis for selecting the exercises for an effective workout is to select one exercise from each category: one legs, one push, and one pull. So you might choose a conventional back squat, a bench press, and a cable row. Work those exercises hard, and go home knowing you've worked your entire body in a balanced way.

You don't have to do the same exercises each time, you can pick different exercises from each group. An example of two alternating workouts would be:
  1. Zercher squats, bent over barbell row, overhead press with a curl bar;
  2. Parallel grip dead lift; toed in parallel bar dips; lat pull downs.
For a three workout cycle:
  1. Front squats; bench press; chins;
  2. Bent leg dead lifts; overhead press; one arm dumbbell row;
  3. Split squats; dips; cable row.

This gives you a basic workout structure, around which you can add additional exercises, either for vanity (bicep curls to get big guns), for sport specific training (e.g. cable wood chops can benefit kayaking), or for rehab to recover from injuries (or pre-hab to prevent injuries you may be prone to).


More to come.:)
 

alligatorob

Respected Member
Ælfric, this is really great information, I appreciate both your expertise and the time and effort you have given me.

I had a talk with the trainer here yesterday and she agreed with a lot of what you have said. She did not realize how much lifting I was doing on my own, outside of our sessions. She uses a bit different terminology, but many of the same ideas. She pointed out that when I work with her she does try to balance what you call push and pull exercises, and to be fair to her yesterday was pull day and so I had not published those exercises for you to review, lots of rows and some pull downs and arm curls. The big thing though was that she agreed with you that I am doing too many exercises in a week. Her guidance was not to do more than a total of 15 sets per week in each category, what you call push, pull, and legs. She was less concerned about how many ab exercises I did, but suggested rotating between the different ones. Advice that mostly seems in line with what you are saying.

I have not done squats with weight, not a lot anyway. Will have to figure out what works for me. I had to look the Zercher squat up, never heard of it, I will try that one. I have tried doing squats with weight on my shoulders but have not been happy with them.

I will study your suggestions more and try to make adjustments based on them, its a lot of information and input. All good. Thanks again!
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
I have been busy with my Uni study this semester so have not had much time to comment, @alligatorob the advice you have been given looks ok.

I have been learning a lot about the motivation side of sport and exercise in sport psychology, a lot of it aimed at high performance sport but is still applicable for those who struggle to get into exercise, a lot of it is common sense but it is good to be able to put a name to some of the theory and studies which have been done, When a client ask why they should be doing X a good trainer/coach should be able to answer that question or tell the client they will get back to them next session with an answer that has real scientific backing, not just "Bro Science"

Now I need to get back to study for my next anatomy assessment, which goes well beyond the anatomy classes I have had as part of my previous study, I have never needed to learn nerve names in the past or exactly which muscles they enervate lol. Most of the student in my tute class are either Med or Para Med.
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
I paid the price for inadequate warmup today, both hamstrings cramped during set 1 of bench press
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
Still limited training due to the fatigue issues

Explosive 10 X 10 on bench with 40 second rest followed by accessory exercises

Additional lifting of timber for the new PL platform.
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
A couple additions to the home gym, A landmine and a competition spec lifting platform. There are a few bits and pieces not shown in the pic including a heavy bag and a preacher curl bench.

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Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
Set some baseline numbers ready to re-write a formal program, I have been winging it whilst I have been having fatigue issues.

Stationary Bike
Bench Press
Close grip Bench Press
Banded flys
Wide pushups

I will work out the rest of my baseline number for lifts during the rest of the week before prepping a new 12 week program next weekend.
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
DIY Deadlift Bar Jack, Cost - $5 worth of timber and some time with the power tools. A bit of varnish is still needed to seal it.

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Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
I am getting ready to add a cable system to my power rack, ordered the plate pin today ($20), the rest of the system will be built with stuff from Bunnings (Hardware Store), some plastic coated steel cable, some pulleys, some cable ties and a couple of heavy duty carabiners.

A lot of fitness equipment can be DIY with a little effort, especially if you do not need competition quality gear. DIY can be a lot more affordable than a gym membership (if your gyms are open during pandemic)
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
Today was not a regular training day, with the start of the new semester at Uni , Friday training will be whatever is on the menu for my 2 hour tutorial in the gym (Subject: Exercise prescription and programming II)

Today was revision of FMS and recording baseline values in preparation for moving into prescribing corrective exercise.

Movement and stability testing is an often overlooked part of developing a safe effective training program, if your body cannot perform a movement correctly then the risk of injury when the movement is loaded with weight is guaranteed, the injury may not be instant but will happen.

EG. If you do not have the joint mobility or core stability to squat correctly without weight, you need to to fix those problems before adding weight.

For the record, I passed all of the tests today, including the the testing to assess shoulder mobility, a test I failed when I had adhesive capsulitis, and I achieved a perfect score for the core stability push-up test using the male protocol. I never do sit-ups they are NOT a good core exercise.

I am also feeling a little sore tonight, the simple unweighted exercises can hit the mark if done with perfect form.

Next week, the Y test.
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
Short afternoon session, will have 2nd session later tonight while also coaching.

RAMP - Snow Angels on foam roller, T-spine mobility, Incline scapular push-ups
Core - Palloff Press, Bird Dog
Strength - Bench Press super set inverted rows
Metabolic Conditioning - Stationary Bike
 

Trusylver

Powerlifting Coach
Staff member
Some of my tutorial work for Uni uses youtube video posted by my tutors and overlayed in the uni website with test questions etc.

This is the base tutorial video on Advanced core training without the assessment content etc., and is worth a watch of you are interested in core development exercises and what not to do.

 
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