Monday, 31 May 2010

5 ways to increase strength

Are you working hard in the gym but hitting the plateau and want a way to increase your strength? Maybe your new to training and want some instant strength gratification for motivation purposes, well now’s your chance with my 10 ways to increase strength.

Tip 1) Warm up before lifting weights

Yes it’s the old cliché that you need to warm up before lifting but it is true. It is so common for people to neglect their warm up and then find their muscles can’t lift very heavy, not to mention the potential for injury. It is very important for strength training and to reduce the possibility of injury to warm up before weightlifting.

Tip 2) Rest

By rest we don’t mean sit in front of the TV like Homer Simpson, no we mean give your body a good three minute rest between sets so your body can regenerate ATP so your muscles have as much energy as possible to lift.

Tip 3) Train your weaknesses

Most people actually neglect their weaknesses and keep to the exercises that make them feel strong, but without training your weaknesses you will not see so many strength gains. Make sure you include one exercise at least per session that works on a weakness in your body, this may be partial reps for the lower part of the benchpress or carrying out that exercise you hate.

Tip 4) Find a stronger partner

It is surprising how having a training partner stronger than yourself can actually help you lift heavier. Its simple mental strength on this one, you don’t want to be the weaker of the two training partners so you motivate yourself mentally to lift heavier and find inspiration from your partner.

Tip 5) Go heavy on 5x5

Take your compound lifts and start lifting with five sets for five reps on the heaviest weight you can manage the full five sets and five reps. This is the typical workout regime for the strong men of the world and will really boost your strength. As soon as you achieve five set for five reps on a weight add another 2.5kg on your next session.


Follow the simple tips above and you could see an increase in strength in a matter of weeks rather than months. It is the simple changes in training that have the biggest impact.

Saturday, 29 May 2010

Training like a Dream

I realised its been over two months since I last posted in my journal so thought it time to give an update of where I am.

I went to the consultant at the end of March, he did want me to have injections in my back for my ruptured disc but I said everything is going well at the moment, in the end we decided that I wont have them now and will only have them if I have issues in the future. The final consultation has meant I am able to train to full effect but not allowed to deadlift or squat.

Since this consultation I have been in Bulgaria for two weeks where I carried out some great training and I have been training hard back in the UK.

My training is actually going very well, I am training like a dream. In fact I have only one issue with my training and that is that the gym weights only go up to 40kg (88lbs) so I am unable to move past this weight on some of my exercises and have had to look at other freeweight exercises to progress.

I went to the gym today and managed a huge back session that is making me feel great, I feel I am moving in the right direction. Currently I am weighing in at between 96kg (211 lbs) and 98kg (215 lbs) and given my next target is 100kg (220 lbs) Im not far off!

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Weightlifting Weight Loss

Did you know that weightlifting is an amazing way to support weight loss?

Its true yet not something many people try in their endeavours to lose weight, even though weight lifting is an immense way to not only increase muscle mass but lose weight through fat loss.

When you carry out weight lifting you will start building muscle mass and without realising you will also start to see your fat start to reduce. Contrary to popular belief fat does not turn into muscle, what will happen is that you will expend more calories from weight training than before when you didnt train. You will also see that when your muscle mass increases you will actually expend more energy without even training on a daily basis.

This works because for every extra pound (just under half kilogram) of weight you put on in muscle mass your body will expend an extra sixty calories per day without you even moving! It is for this reason that bigger muscular men can eat all the time while staying lean....well there is a little part of diet in this too.

So if your thinking of losing weight dont just stick to the cardio get involved and start weight lifting too.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Athletic Leg Training

Im sure you have all seen those powerful athletes with huge legs that seem to achieve superior levels of speed, power and agility on the athletics field but how do they achieve this?

Yes I know your going to say train hard but its more than that, its about how they train.

Bodybuilders and other types of weight lifters tend to stick to leg exercises that train both legs in tandem, truth be told your better off training each leg individually.

How to carry out athletic leg training

Take compound exercises that use free weights the modify them so only a single leg is used in the exercise, for example:

Instead of carrying out the squat, use dumbbells and carry out the Bulgarian split squat, its so much more challenging and your legs will tuly benefit.

So what does an athletic leg training session look like?

Bulgarian split squat - 3 or 4 sets of 6 to 15 reps
Single leg deadlift - 3 or 4 sets of 6 to 15 reps
Lunges (holding dumbbells) - 3 or 4 sets of 6 to 15 reps
High step up - 3 or 4 sets of 6 to 15 reps
Calf raises - 3 or 4 sets of 6 to 15 reps

Carry out these exercises in curcuits so your completing the exercises 2 or 3 times per training session. This should not take longer than 45 minutes, as soon as 45 minutes are up stop your training session.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Muscle Balancing Act

We all know the balancing act whereby we have one side of our bodies stronger than the other, this is most evident in the arms due to being right handed or left handed. This is most common among newbies to the gym who have never trained before.

We all know that when we lift the bench press for example there is one side that we find easier to lift than another; it may be that your right side feels it can keep going while the left starts to flounder so how do you combat this imbalance?

My personal preference to combat this issue is by lifting with dumbbells. By taking the same exercises but using dumbbells you are letting each side of the body work independent of the other, this means that one side cannot support the other by taking the brunt of the weight.

Initially you may find the weaker side gives up before your stronger side so you have to stop earlier than you would expect but over time (a short time) the weaker side will improve and catch up with your stronger side. By doing this you will also find when you go back to barbell exercises you will actually be able to lift more!

If you find that you have one side of your body weaker than the other whether its your arms, shoulders or legs why not start isolating the muscles so they work independent and can catch up with the stronger side over time.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Clean and Press

The Clean and press exercise works most muscles in the body in one function or another starting from the calves and quads right up to the deltoids of the shoulders.

This is a big compound lift that used to be part of Olympic weightlifting right up until the early 1970’s.

The Clean and press works in two movements, the first bringing the bar from the floor to chest height and the second pressing the bar over the head. The clean and press can be completed with either dumbbells, kettle bells or a barbell.

I have started carrying out this great exercise as part of my own training session and thoroughly enjoy it. I personally use a barbell.

To add size and strength to your overall physique this is one hell of an exercise.

Clean and Press

Equipment – Dumbbells, Kettle bells or Barbell of desired weight

Preparation - Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and an overhand grip on the equipment of choice keeping your back straight as your bent over the weight.

Movement – Pull the bar up to your chest pushing through your legs in a squat then shrugging motion (always keeping your back straight) then rotate your palms under the bar before pressing above your shoulders.

Remember to never arch your back; it should stay straight throughout the movement. If you arch your back to far (known as hyperextension) you can seriously damage your lower back.

Reps/Sets 1 to 12 reps for 4 sets