Saturday, 27 June 2009

Length of Time Weightlifting

This time round the research poll didn't get many results, well thirteen to be exact but we still have some data so here goes with the results of the length of time people have been weightlifting.

As you can see most people have been training for 3 years or under with under one year receiving 3 votes, one to two years receiving 4 votes and two to three years receiving three votes. This means that 76.92% of people who responded have been training for three years or under.

We did have 2 people say they have been training for three to four years and one person who has been training for over five years.

What did interest me in the results is that the average length of time people have been weightlifting from those who responded is exactly two and a half years. This figure surprises me as most people only train for a year or so as a maximum before giving up, its only the die hards that carry on past this point.

If you think about how many people do go to the gym lifting weights and the time they have been doing so you can understand what my point is.

I suppose the low response doesn't give too much credit to the data but it is interesting none the less.

Friday, 26 June 2009

The Difference in Weighlifting Sports

There are four well known variations of different types of weight lifting, some of which people understand and some of which alot of people fail to know of. Today I have decided to write about the differences in these sports for all to bear witness to.

This post comes straight from a question asked on the newly built forum about the different types of weightlifting.


Powerlifting is a sport that is gauged on pure strength. In powerlifting tournaments a lifter will carry out three exercises, the deadlift, the bench press and the squat for one rep on the heaviest weight they can carry out one rep with. The total weight they can lift over all exercises combined is their score for the tournament.

In the tournament there are different weight classes to ensure the competition is fair for all.


Bodybuilding is all about looking good, a bodybuilder works hard on sculpting their muscles in size and definition to create an aesthetically pleasing and proportional body. In competitions bodybuilders complete many poses to show off their muscles and a panel judge them on the poses and their body to crown one the champion.

Olympic Lifting

Olympic lifting is a test of power rather than strength (yes these are different) unlike the powerlifting sport and uses different exercises. The idea is to use explosive power and speed to push the wieght up to the required position using correct form.

The Olympic Lifting sport carries out two exercises called the clean and jerk and the snatch. The winner is the person who can lift the most weight and gains the most points from the judges on form.

As with the powerlifting sport Olympic Lifting works on weight categories.


Weightlifting can refer to Olympic Lifting but is generally used as a non sport term for someone who trains in the gym with weights. The term weightlifting can also be called weight training.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Ahmed Abukhater Interview

Today is a great and happy day for me as I have just finished interviewing another of my favourite Powerlifters. I am so happy and know you will be to when you read this great interview with Ahmed Abukhater the Palestinian Powerlifting Champion.

In such a short period of time Ahmed Abukhater has achieved so much and I feel he is such an inspiration to others for his achievements in both the powerlifting and academic world.

Please join me in the enjoyment of my latest interview.

What made you start out in Powerlifting and how old were you?

I was 14 when I started weightlifting with my younger brother, Mustafah, and we both gradually got into powerlifting. My idle in powerlifting (and a whole bunch of other things) is my father who introduced me to weightlifting at a very young age. The first Palestinian uprising was in full swing then and he knew I had tremendous academic potential that could easily be lost to the political violence enveloping them at the time.

Weightlifting gave me a physical release, but also helped focus my mind. However, I do not train continuously due to other obligations, so it’s pretty much touch and go. Since then, I have been proactively involved in training myself and others.

How did you become professional?

Well, my first real competition was in 2003, after which point I competed at the national level in 2004, where I placed first. Since then, I have competed in many championships and held many regional, national and world titles, and set national and world records. In 2006, I was the first power lifter to represent Palestine in the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) World Championship. I benched 452 lbs in the 2007 and 2008 World Championships, which won the division and set a new Palestinian national record.

Most recently, I set a new Palestinian record with a 502lb bench press. I was almost speechless when I saw the Palestinian flag displayed proudly and clearly among the flags of other nations in a fair athletic competition. It was indeed a dream come true. Now, I serve as the Chairman of the State of Texas WABDL (World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters) and established my own powerlifting team (Texas professional powerlifting team). We are very small yet selective group of lifters.

What is your favorite exercise in the gym?

Generally, it is bench press (surprise!). Yeah, I pretty much like all exercises that involve heavy lifting. My favorite exercise does not stay the same. It is rather a moving target depending on my level of training, and it is unusually the one that I hate the most that becomes my favorite. This is because the exercise that you hate (which means that you are not good at) is usually your weakest point and the one that you need to focus on more to improve your overall strength – a little wise advice from my father.

What are your personal bests and your weight:

Your Weight: 198lbs
Squat: 630lbs
Bench Press: 610lbs
Deadlift: 705lbs

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

If and when I have time, I usually train three days a week (1-2 hours each), alternating focus on different body parts. For example, one day I may train for chest and biceps, the other for shoulders, back and triceps, and the other is for legs. During times of preparation for an upcoming championship, my training changes slightly, in that it focuses more on heavy lifting. For example, before a bench press meet I follow the following bench press training program (or something similar to that):

1- Max effort day (without shirt): work up to 1 or 3 reps with supplemental triceps, lats, and delts exercise with high volume.
2- Dynamic Bench Training: this includes a variety of exercises
3- Max effort bench training (with shirt): this day is exclusively dedicated to heavy bench press including:

- two warm-up sets (135lbs)
- one set/ 15 reps (225lbs)
- one set/ 3-5 reps (315lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ 3-5 reps (405lbs)
- one set (shirted – touch)/ 3-5 reps (405lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ 3-5 reps (500lbs)
- one set (shirted with 2 board press)/ one rep (max weight)
- one set (shirted – touch)/ one rep (max weight)

I rest during the last week prior to the meet to let my muscles recoup.

Where do you see your future as you have already achieved so much?

I will definitely continue to compete and up my records, while managing a career and a family life at the same time. As I already started my own team, I look forward to imparting my experience in powerlifting to others who really want to learn and become professional in this sport. Having my own gym is a long term goal of mine that I would really like to attain at some point in my life. Being able to give the opportunity that I had to train and compete on a world scale to other young athletes in Palestine and other disenfranchised regions is an ultimate goal of mine.

With my PhD and experience that focus on a topic about which I am most passionate – water allocation equity in the context of the Arab-Israeli conflict, another prominent goal is near and dear to my heart, which is to promote “a vision of peace through equitable allocation of disputed natural resources.”

My family is the most important thing to me. I have a loving wife and two beautiful sons who I adore and dearly enjoy spending time with. I would not trade my time with them for anything, except of course powerlifting … just kidding ;)

Do you have any words of motivation for our readers?

Stay on target. With persistence, you can do anything you put your mind to. The three key ingredients for a successful powerlifting training experience is (1) setting a training goal; (2) having a training program; and (3) being consistent with your training and diet (very pivotal to gaining strength). Make up time to train and do not let your busy life (no matter how busy it is) deter you from achieving your training goals. You can always find time to train.

More information can be found at:


Saturday, 20 June 2009

Crucifix Weightlifting Exercise

The Crucifix exercise is one that I have never seen anyone carry out in the gym unless they happen to be training with me, to me this is surprising as its such a great exercise.

Many of you who follow strongman competitions will know the Crucifix as its one of the competition lifts. The Crucifix involves lifting a weight in each hand until your arms are out stretched so your in the crucifix position and then standing in this position as long as you can, needless to say its a killer!

Crucifix Exercise

Equipment - Dumbbells or Kettlebells of desired weight

Preparation - Stand straight with your feet shoulder width apart and the weights by your side.

Movement - Lift the weights until your arms are straight out to the side with your hands slightly higher than shoulder height and your hands are facing palm up. Stay with your hands and arms in this position for as long as possible.

Note - Remember to start light as this is extremely hard and many people try to lift heavier than they physically can. There is no point cheating by bending your arms at the elbows or letting your arms/hands drop lower than the position they are meant to be in so keep your arms high and straight.

Reps/Sets Try to hold the weights for two minutes at one set only.

Crucifix Exercise

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Pendlay Rows

The Pendlay row is a variation to the Barbell row and was designed by Glenn Pendlay who the exercise is named after. Glenn Pendlay is a weightlifting coach in the US.

The difference between the Pendlay row and the Barbell row is that the Pendlay row is strict in its form compared to the Barbell row, this means you are sure you are building your back in the correct way.

Pendlay Row

Equipment - Barbell of desired weight

Preparation - Bend over with your back straight and legs bent then grip the barbell with your hands in an overhand grip and shoulder width apart.

Keep your form strict for the whole movement, dont let your legs/hips move at all in the lift and make sure your back stays straight.

Movement - Keeping your back straight and legs rigid (dont let them move...yes Ive mentioned this twice but its important) pull the bar up towards your upp abs. Return the weight to the floor then lift again, unlike other exercises you are meant to bring the bar back to the floor before starting the next rep.

Note - Remember to start with an empty bar and build weight gradually to ensure you have correct form and do not try to lift heavier than you can. This is very important so you do not cause yourself an injury.

Reps/Sets 5 to 12 reps for 4 sets

Pendlay Row

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Favourite Muscle Groups

The poll on favourite muscle groups has finished and there are interesting results to talk about so lets get down to business.

Firstly lets look at the results in a graph showing the total results by muscle type.

Straight away you can see that the favourite muscle group by a large margin is the chest, this actually didn't surprise me much as its a strong muscle group and also one that offers a lot aesthetically.

What did surprise is the second favourite muscle group. There are two in joint second, one is the shoulders which again I wasn't surprised about but the other was legs. Now I know a high percentage of those that train in the gym neglect to train their legs and it is for this reason I am surprised to see that legs was joint second choice for favourite muscle group.

The third favourite choice is the back, a great big muscle group full of strength and giving great width from behind so not surprising it is high in the table.

Joint fourth is the Biceps and Triceps, the Triceps being fourth was not too surprising but I expected the Biceps to rank more highly. The Biceps, also lovingly known as the guns, are one of mans favourite vanity muscles so I would have thought many people would have favoured this muscle group more.

The final and fifth muscle group is the abs, now the fact that abs came last may be debated by many. The abs are a vanity muscle in the sense of many men aspiring to achieve a six pack so is highly favoured in this manner but the problem is that the abs workouts are not as interesting as others and it takes a massive amount of work to achieve a six pack. It is for the latter reasons I think it finished last.

The full breakdown of the results by percentage is below.

Chest - 32.56%
Legs - 16.28%
Shoulders - 16.28%
Back - 11.63%
Triceps - 9.30%
Biceps - 9.30%
Abs - 4.65%

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Weightlifting and Boxing

There is a mantra in the boxing world that says one should not carry out any weightlifting using weights if training to be a boxer. The mantra is that all weightlifting should be completed through calisthenic exercises utilising a persons own body weight, but is this correct?

The rationale behind this is that weightlifting will increase your muscle mass making you bulky which will cause you to become slow and less flexible in the ring while calisthenics will keep the flexibility and add some strength without slowing you down.

It is important to mention that Calisthnics is a great way to improve muscle endurance while increase a persons strength but it has its limits, namely you cannot lift more than you weigh.

I personally believe that many boxing trainers automatically think of bodybuilding style weightlifting when telling budding boxers not to weight train. Bodybuilding style lifting is all about building bulky muscle so yes they are correct in this regard but I feel they have never understood or they have overlooked two other types of weight training, strength training and power training.

Strength training

For strength training you need to lift the 5x5 workout which will improve overall strength without building huge bulky muscles.

This involves lifting 5 sets of 5 reps on the heaviest weight you can lift for 5 sets and reps using any compound movement (movement where you use more than one joint such as the deadlift, benchpress or squat).

Power training

For power training you need to carry out explosive reps, other wise known as speed training. What you need to do is lift a weight you can comfortably carry out 8 reps but instead of lifting them normally you will push the weight out as quick as possible making it an explosive move....great for improving your speed.

An example is when I carry this out for the bench press using the smith machine I push so hard that the weight jumps out of my hands at the top and lands back in my hands before bringing the weight back down (this is a purposeful act but dont do this unless you comfortable to do so).


With strength training and powertraining you will improve your strength and power/ speed which will aid your boxing. Its important to use this as an aid to your boxing training and not let it take over any of your boxing regimes.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Changing Exercises Regularly

Many people who visit the gym have a workout plan they use week in and week out which is great but is also a hindrance to their potential to increase strength and mass.

Changing exercises regularly is one way to enough you dont hit a plateau and continue to see your strength and muscle mass increase month on month. The reason that changing exercises regularly is important can be broken down in to multiple benefits as shown below.

Shock and awe

Your muscles over time will get used to the movements of the exercises you are using in your workouts, this means that the improvments in strength and muscle mass will reduce, or even plateau.

By changing exercises regularly you are shocking your muscles as they do not get time to become comfortable with the movement of one exercise before you are then changing it to another.

This change keeps strength and muscle mass improvments at the optimum level as your muscles continue to work hard to lift different exercises they are not accustomed to lifting on a regular basis.

Different angles of attack

Another great reason for changing exercises regularly is to try all angles of movement through various exercises to build your muscles. It seems simple yet alot of people dont try all exercises for each muscle group to ensure that each muscle gets a complete workout from each angle of attack.

An example is the back, you can use the lat pulldown, seated rows, barbell rows, single arm dumbbell rows, supine rows, single arm pulldowns....each of this has the benefit of using different angles of attack on your back muscles.

Mental Stimulation

Another great reason to keep changing exercises is to keep your mental stimulation of wanting to workout.

It can be quite monotonous to carry out the same exercsies in the same routine lifting the same amount of weight week in and week out. By changing the exercises and the placement of them in your routine it will also keep your mind stimulated as you try new things.


You should try changing one or more of your exercises in all workout routines every 8 to 12 weeks to ensure you get the most out of your training. My personal preference is to keep a base compound lift as my main lift in my training (this never changes) then place other exercises around this, it is these other exercises that I change regularly.

An example of this would be that for chest I always use the standard barbell bench press but change other exercises in the routine every 2 or 3 months to keep the strength gains on my chest on an incline.