Saturday, 25 July 2009

Nick Uhlin Interview

Today we have an interview with Nick Uhlin a Strongman from Sweden.

As many of you will probably know strongmen seem to come in abundance from the Scandinavian countries and Nick Uhlin is certainly a great addition to this with his brute strength and enjoyment in lifting heavy weights.

To see just how Nick trains why not watch his video below.

I am really happy to have been able to interview Nick and believe you will truly enjoy todays interview.


What made you start out in Strongman training and how old were you?

After years of ordinary bodybuilding training I got tired of it and looked for another way to train.

I started powerlifting training at first but started going more and more over to pure strongman training. I started to train at 25 and Im 42 today, so I have lifted heavy stuff for a long time and hope that I can do that for many years to come. I like strongman training becuse it taxes your body in every way you can think of.

What is your favourite weight training exercise?

Deadlift and stonelifting/walking.

What are your personal bests in?

Weight - 102kg (224lbs)

PR Year 2009 (I was stronger in squat and deadlift when I was younger)
Shoulder Press - 100kg / 2 reps
Crucifix I train with 10kg (timehold)
Squat - 220kg (484lbs)
Deadlift - 200kg (440lbs)

How often do you train?

4-5 times/week

What does your weekly training schedule consist of?

Basic stuff in the gym. Squat, deadlift, benchpress.

Strongman training at my home with a lots of homemade equipment. I also train my grip one time per week.

What do you see as the big difference between strongman and other weightlifting sports?

In competions there is more show in strongman and you need better cardio for strongman. But the best is the fun of lifting heavy and odd things, you cant beat that :)

Why are the scandinavians so good in the strongman and dominate the competitions?

Today you can find good strongman atletes in every country. Strongman grows every year with more people training and doing competitions. But Magnus Samuelsson and Svend Karlsen was great strongmans.

Where do you see your future in strongman?

My goal is to start compete next year 2010 and I will take it from there. I see bright on the future as a strongman.

Do you have any words of motivation for our readers?

The most important is to have fun and train hard.

To find out more about Nick Uhlin you can visit his Youtube channel or his new website

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Squat Form: Leaning Forward

One of the most common mistakes for those new to lifting the squat is that they lean forward towards the bottom of the lift. This may be a genuine mistake in that they think they are squatting deeper but the truth is they could be causing themselves harm.

Leaning forward in the squat almost makes the lift into a good morning, this change in exercise half way through the lift, especially if using heavy weights, can be damaging for the following three reasons:

  • Added stress to the lower back
  • Higher risk of not keeping your back straight
  • Less usage of the hip muscles
The two main reasons that people end up leaning forward in the squat are that they either raise their hips quicker than their shoulders or do not bring the Glutes into play when carrying out the lift.

Either way the outcome is the same….bad form and a bad lift.

To combat this problem you can try lowering the weight you’re lifting and concentrating on your form. If you still have problems with the standard squat and you still lean forward with low weight why not try lifting with the front squat as its difficult to lean forward so much as you will lose balance.

Another little gem of information is that practice makes perfect, if you still have issues just take an empty bar and keep practicing….its all about perseverance.

The squat is probably the most important exercise for the legs so spending time getting the squat correct early on will ensure you get the most gains out of your leg workouts while keeping you safe from injury.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Training Negatives: Muscle and Strength

Training negatives is one of those training techniques that I never see people do when in the gym; this however is something I don’t understand as trainings negatives is a big positive.

What is negatives training?

For those that don’t know, when you lift there are three areas of the lift and these are:

  • Positive: Contracting the muscle, as in curling a barbell to the top of a biceps curl.
  • Static: Not moving, holding the weight in one position.
  • Negative: Extending the muscle, as in lowering the barbell down.
So training the negative is not lifting the weight to the top but just carrying out the part of controlling the weight down to the bottom of the lift. This is done by using a training partner who will lift the weight to the top for you.

Why should we train the negative section of the lift?

Well the body has a defense mechanism whereby it is always stronger on the negative than on the positive. Imagine that you could lift something up but didn’t have the strength to put it down that would cause us to sustain all sorts of injuries.

The key to why negative training works is the fact that because of the above you can lift more on the negative than you can on the positive. In essence if you can biceps curl 35 kg normally then with someone lifting the weight for you and you just controlling the negative you will probably be able to handle 40kg to 45kg in weight. It is this key reason that you will find your overall strength increase as your body gets used to lifting a bigger loan on the negative.

It is important to note that with negative training you should not complete this week in and week out as its taxing on the body. The suggestion is to use it in 6 to 8 week cycles with a good break in between and only using one exercise of three sets per muscle group workout.

Below is an example of the negative biceps curl.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Keeping Strict Form

One of the most important issues to keep a note of when in the gym is keeping strict form. We have all fallen fowl to getting tired and slipping out of form on some exercises, but truth be told you may as well not carry out that last rep if it is not carried out correctly.

There are many ways people neglect their form and try to lift heavier than they can, the most common of which are below

1) Deadlift

People are noted for rounding the back and not using their legs enough when carrying out the deadlift which is a prime candidate for showing that they are not lifting with good form, most likely because they are lifting too heavy. This not only moves the emphasis of the lift to other muscles but is also very dangerous and can be damaging to the lower back.

2) Bicep Curls

There are three ways people neglect their form in this exercise, in fact this is the exercise where you see the worst form out of all the gym exercises. The first reason people lose form is because they do not keep their elbows in by the sides, the second is they throw the weight up and use their shoulders to take the strain of the weight and finally they rock their pelvis and hips using momentum to help lift the weight.

3) All Exercises

One of the most interesting and most used ways of neglecting form on all exercises is stopping short. By stopping short this means not completing the full range of movement. I have seen it very frequently where people use a heavy weight but only carry out half the movement required for a full rep. An example is someone using dumbbells too heavy for them on the shoulder press so they don't bring the dumbbells down far enough in the movement.

4) Holding Your Breath

Very frequently people hold their breath while lifting and this is actually very bad for the body. When lifting your blood pressure raises quickly to a high level. By holding your breath you will cause your blood pressure to raise even higher then crash quite dramatically, this can make you pass out and is hard on the heart.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

How Much Do You Bench?

The poll on "How much do you bench" is in and the results are great. This time we got a good commitment with 56 people giving their data to give us a good volume of results.

So heres the graph...

I was not surprised by the results of this poll, well maybe a little about the amount of people who say they bench more than 150 kg but Ill explain why further on in the post.

So looking at the results we can clearly see that the majority of people bench press between 70 and 90 kilograms, this is actually the weight group I expected to see the highest amount of results given the average amount I see people lifting.

Two choices came joint second and these are those either side of the 70 to 90 kilogram option. These two choices are the 50 to 70 kg and the 90 to 110 kg group. Again this is not surprising as you would expect the results in second place to be close to the top choice with the option before or after dependant on a persons training schedule and years of training.

Other than these results we see that 5 people choice the under 50kg option which I believe would represent those that have not been training for a long period as this is usually about the starting point for someone new to weightlifting.

The results that did surprise me were those for the top end of the poll, the choice for 110 to 130kg received 4 counts while 130 to 150kg received 5 and 150kg plus received 6. I would honestly have expected the results to have been reversed with a decline in numbers as the weight lifted grew but this was not to be.

I feel this was an interesting poll and probably my favourite of all polls to date.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Big Biceps Workout

Many men in this world wish to build the vanity muscles that are the Biceps as the Biceps can draw female attention, gain respect from fellow man and also improve ones confidence. so how do you build bulging big Biceps?

Well heres a simple Biceps workout that is sure to test your strength and resolve, this workout has been compiled to ensure you get the best possible chance of building those Biceps that you have always wanted.

If you carry out the below workout once a week you are sure to see a huge increase in the size of your Biceps in a short period of time.

The Big Biceps Workout

Dumbbell Hammer Curls 3 x 8

Dumbbell Biceps Curls 3 x 8

Biceps Negative Curls 3 x 8

Biceps 21's 3 x 21

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Achieving Muscle Gains Without Supplements

I used to be big into taking supplements like weight gainer and protein shakes but have found that you do not need to take these to achieve muscle gains.

I am now stronger than I have ever been yet I have only taken two protein shakes this year!

Granted if you are someone who is always on the go then a protein shake or weight gain shake can be helpful to either ensuring you achieve your daily intake of protein or act as a meal replacement on the odd occasion.

If you are someone who doesn't have that much money spare to be spending on high quality protein supplements then I suggest that you don't as there are many foods out there you can use as an alternative.

Now this post isn't saying that protein supplements are bad or even that you shouldn't take them, far from it. For some people they really do support what they want to achieve in muscle building but for people like me they are not needed and natural food achieves what I want.

So how does it work?

Well if you don't want to take supplements for what ever reason I suggest having five to six meals a day and aim for a minimum thirty grams of protein in each meal. An easy way of achieving this in snacks is by using tuna as one tin of tuna carries around 31 grams of protein (differs depending on the make and type). tuna is also very versatile and works well in sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes and much more.

For larger meals use turkey, chicken or red meat and you are sure to achieve forty grams of protein in these meals.

The hardest meal to achieve your protein requirements is breakfast as its normally the meal where there is not much protein, this is seen in cereals etc. For breakfast you can supplement you cereal with eggs, kippers or sardines on toast.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Training Has Never Been Better

My training has never been going so well, this past couple of months with my new training partner has seen both me and my training partner make some amazing gains in all areas.

We have achieved this with a gruelling training schedule and mixing in loads of new assistance exercises to build our supporting muscles for some added assistance in our lifts.

We are currently carrying out crucifix exercises, wrist and forearm exercises to build our muscles for supporting the bigger lifts. Further to this we have given ourselves some huge stretching targets to achieve in a small period of time that we are definately on course to achieve.

One of the big factors in our improvements is also the constant changes in exercises used to keep our body from hitting a plateau. Rather than just changing every 6 weeks we are actually setting targets to achieve and once we have hit them, then moving on to new exercises or variations of the exercise.

As well as the change in weights and lifting we are also carrying out CV work at the end of every weight lifting workout, this is running after all workouts except our back workout where we finish with rowing.

Currently I am weighing in at 94 kilograms,. I jumped on the scales this morning and was very pleased to see the needle waver around the 94 to 95 kilogram mark before settling on 94 kilograms, this shows that I am making the right progress towards my 100 kilo target.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Grip and Wrist Strength

As your body gets stronger there is one part of your body that gets neglected that you will start to notice, this is your hands and wrists.

As you gain strength and start to go heavy on exercises like the shoulder shrugs or the deadlift you may start to find your grip on the bar failing you. Its annoying when this happens because you know your body has the strength to carry out many reps but you just dont have the strength in your grip to hold the bar!

Another issue is your wrists, many people feel pains in their wrists from biceps and triceps training, they feel they have an injury but the truth is its your wrists being weak and not having the strength for the weight your lifting.

Now we come to the part where I mention the importance of training your grip and wrists. To improve your grip simply grab a barbell with heavy weights and hold it as you would at the top of a deadlift for as long as possible. Another method is to get up on a chin up bar and hang at arms length for as long as possible.

To improve your wrist strength try holding a weight plate or dumbbell in your hand with your forearm resting on your leg (hand inside your leg) and bringing your wrist up towards your forearm before returning to its normal position and repeating.

For some this may seem like a trivial post but for others it will help improve your overall weightlifting greatly as a result of something as simple as improving your write and wrist strength.