The Lifestyle

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by Tony Gentilcore · about 2 hours ago · Fitness

This guest post was written by Tony Gentilcore, certified strength and conditioning specialist and co-owner of Cressey Performance. The opinions expressed herein are his. To learn more about Tony, visit www.tonygentilcore.com.

If I had to make a list of things that really annoy me, it would be as follows:

1. “Twilight.”
2. People who don’t turn right on red.
3. People who don’t prioritize getting stronger.

Photo by Kim Lloyd

As a strength coach this last one is what really gets me irritated, and for good reason. To be blunt: Strength is kind of a big deal. It’s what allows us to pick up that bag of groceries off the floor without blowing our back out; it’s what keeps us from getting injured on the playing field (whether a professional athlete or weekend warrior); and it’s undoubtedly the foundation behind many of the “qualities” we’re chasing in the weight room (be it speed, agility, power, or just looking good with our clothes off).

Unfortunately for some, despite knowing better, and despite their best efforts, they’re just not getting stronger. No matter what routine they follow or how many days per week they hit the iron, they’re just not getting any results — frustrated they’re still using the same weight now as they were weeks (if not months) prior.

Are you making the mistakes below?

Progressive Overload (Not Using It)

While it’s the most obvious place to start, surprisingly, there are many trainees who fail to grasp the notion that progressive overload is key when it comes to strength. Simply stated: The body will adapt to any stress placed upon it, and in order to get stronger, you need to make certain that you force the body to do so.

Many know the story of the Greek god, Milo, who, as a young boy, made it a point to carry a small heifer over his shoulder every day. Each and every day, for years, Milo would carry the heifer, and as the heifer grew and became a full-grown cow, Milo, too, grew. So much so that stories of his strength have lived on forever in Greek mythology.

There are numerous ways to approach progressive overload and make any exercise more challenging. Adding more sets, decreasing rest intervals, and increasing range of motion are some of the more common components.

The most evident, however (and in many cases, the most neglected), is to simply increase the weight or load of an exercise by adding a little weight each and every week.

It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that (really!). We’re not trying to do calculus here.

It could be as simple as adding five more pounds to the barbell on your squats; or maybe just grabbing the next heaviest pair of dumbbells on your next set of presses. Either way, unless you’re making a concerted effort to challenge your body and force it to adapt to heavier loads consistently, you’ll never make much progress.

Doing Too Much (Volume)

We live in a society that celebrates excess. It’s not uncommon for someone to own more than one car, or even more than one house. Likewise, when it comes to training, many people are of the mentality that more is better. If training three days per week is good, then logic would dictate that training every… single… day… until you can’t feel the left side of your face, or you cough up your spleen (whichever comes first) must be even better, right?

Wrong.

Fatigue will mask an individual’s true fitness level. In other words: Making yourself tired for the sake of making yourself tired, and accumulating more and more fatigue is a tried and true recipe for zapping your strength (and performance).

As an example, let’s say we go ahead and figure out what your one-rep max is for the deadlift. Afterwards, you go out and run 10 miles.

Upon your return we decide to re-test your deadlift.  What are the chances you’ll even sniff that original number? My guess is you’d have a better shot at winning the lottery and getting struck by lighting in the same day.

To that end, it’s often beneficial to implement structured de-load weeks where the goal is to allow the body to rest and recover. There are a multitude of ways to approach a de-load week: Decrease total reps, decrease total number of exercises performed, omit direct spinal loading, maybe even take a week and perform outdoor activities rather than hit the gym.

The point is, in order to make consistent progress, it’s imperative to give your body a break every now and then.

Not Focusing on the Basics

People often look at the programs I write and are amazed at just how “simple” they are. Funny enough, every client I train always gets stronger — because I place a premium on mastering the basics:

  • Squat pattern
  • Deadlift pattern
  • Single Leg pattern
  • Push-Up
  • Row
  • Chin-Up

If people learned to place a priority on those six movements and did away with all the “fluff” (Really? Seventeen sets of bicep curls?), they’d be amazed how much improvement they’d see.

In order to get strong, you need to perform movements that will force you to get strong. Oftentimes this entails people going outside of their comfort zone — and not only learning the basics, but mastering them.

Your Action Plan: For the next 1-2 months every session should begin with one compound movement:

Day 1:  Squat Variation (box squat, front squat, back squat, etc.)
Day 2: Pressing Variation (bench press, floor press, etc.)
Day 3: Deadlift Variation (trap bar deadlift, SUMO deadlift, etc.)

You should put your heart and soul into that first movement of the day. Literally, you should hate life.

Remember: Each week, try to add just a little weight. After that, do whatever you want. Do some handstands for all I care. Just, for the love of God, perform one of the six patterns above to start each and every training session, and I guarantee you’re going to get stronger.

Lift Heavy Stuff. Like, a Lot.

Pigging back on the previous point, while it will increase your general level of awesomeness to include more compound movements in your routine, it would also be nice if you’d quit with the three sets of 10 nonsense. I don’t know who made the golden rule that every exercise, every day, had to be done for three sets of ten reps (3×10), but it needs to stop.

Sure, you can get strong(er) using 3×10 — but it only lasts for so long, and it really only works for newbies, and they could do anything and get stronger. Ah, to be a newbie again.

Instead, I like to advocate different set/rep schemes that have more of a strength focus — anything between 3-5 repetitions.

The options are boundless: 5×5, 4×3, 4×4, 8×3…

It doesn’t matter. There are no rules! All that matters is you get outside your comfort zone and start utilizing set/rep schemes that will force you to get strong.

Using an example, lets say every Monday is “deadlift” day.

Week 1: Trap Bar Deadlift – 5×5
Week 2: Trap Bar Deadlift – 4×5
Week 3: SUMO Deadlift – 6×5
Week 4: SUMO Deadlift – 3×5
Week 5: Pull-Through – 3×10 (deload week, no spinal loading)
Week 6: Conventional Deadlift – 4×3
Week 7: Conventional Deadlift – 5×3
Week 8: Conventional Deadlift – work up to 3 rep max, then 2×5

And, to take it a step further (to give people an idea of what an entire training day would look like):

Assuming a three-day per week, full-body split:

Day 1 (Monday)

A1: Trap Bar Deadlift 5×5
A2: Supine Glute Bridge 4×8
Note: A1-A2 is performed as a superset, going from A1 right to A2, and then resting 90-120 seconds before moving on to the next set.

B1. Seated Cable Row 3×10
B2. 1-Legged Push-Ups 3×5/leg
Note: B1-B2 is performed as a superset, going from B1 right intoto B2, and then resting 60-90 seconds before moving on to the next set.

C1. Dumbbell Forward Lunge 3×6/leg
C2. Pallof Press 3×8/side
Note: C1-C2 is performed as a super set, going from C1 right to C2, and then resting 60-90 seconds before moving on to the next set.

D. Additional Scapular Stability/Rotator Cuff Work
E. Be Awesome x infinity

You Don’t Train Around Other Strong People

Lastly, and this is a point I won’t spend a lot of time on: If you want to get better at chess, you hang out with people who play chess. If you want to get better at computer programming, you hang out with people who program computers. If you want to get better at never getting laid, you hang out at Star Trek conventions.

Likewise, if you want to get stronger, you need to hang out with people who have the same passion as yourself, will push you to get better, and more importantly, are much, much stronger than you.

Even if it’s only one day per week, go out of your way to train at a facility that prides itself not on the number of treadmills or fancy gadgets it has, but rather encourages its members to use chalk and throw around some weight. Train in that sort of environment and the sky’s the limit!

Food Today

Breakfast
Kashi Go lean with fresh strawberries

Snack
Luna Protein

Lunch
3 oz sliced turkey
2 cups steamed veggies
1/2 banana

Dinner
6 oz. grilled chicken
brussel sprouts
orange

I’m taking the day off from the gym tomorrow because I definitely feel over trained right now..

by Laura Schwecherl · 2 months ago · Fitness

Used to getting loose and limber before going on a run? It may be time to think twice about reaching for those toes. There’s a good chance we’re stretching out the wrong way or for the wrong reasons. It’s time to debunk the biggest stretching myths, so we can bend, flex, and stretch— the right way.

Stretching the Truth

Photo by Ben Draper

1. Myth: Stretching prevents injury.
Researchers are finding that stretching won’t necessarily prevent sitting out on the sidelines [1]. Injury is due to many factors, including poor technique, muscle imbalances, and not warming up properly. The upside: Greatist expert and trainer Kelvin Gary says the risk can be minimized by stretching regularly as part of a warm-up and cool down.
Truth: Injuries are complicated, but stretching may be one way to keep them at bay.

2. Myth: Stretching nixes soreness.
Aches from yesterday’s CrossFit W.O.D. might not fade with a few good stretches [2] [3]. In a study of over 2,000 adults, stretching before and after exercising didn’t stop those pesky post-workout aches and pains [4]. (Fun fact: Feeling sore comes from micro tears in muscles, and stretching is not effective in preventing these tears and subsequent soreness, Gary notes.)
Truth: Soreness can strike any athlete, regardless of their stretching regime.

3. Myth: Stretching a few days a week is plenty.
We may not want to hit the gym seven days a week, but according to Greatist expert and triathlon coach Andrew Kalley, consistent stretching is key to increasing flexibility, range of motion, and potentially reducing the risk of muscle strain.
Truth: Stretching consistently is the best way to reap its benefits.

4. Myth: Static stretching should come first.
Stretching before a workout when the body is at rest can be harmful, since muscles may actually tighten up in the process. But static stretching after exercise is typically beneficial, helping the muscles to relax, Gary says.
Truth: Go static after working out— not before.

5. Myth: A bit of light cardio is the perfect warm-up.
A quick jog isn’t all you need before hitting the weights, the courts, or the ‘mill. Dynamic stretching (think: walking lunges, running butt kicks, and power skips) in addition to some light cardio will warm up muscles and prep the body for a safe and effective workout, Kalley and Gary advise.
Truth: A proper warm-up should include dynamic stretching, too.

6. Myth: Stretching won’t help performance.
Dynamic stretching involves movements that jump-start range of motion, making them a great warm-up solution. And like the name suggests, studies show these moves may even help power-up those muscles [5] [6].
Truth: Dynamic stretching might give muscles an extra power boost.

7. Myth: It’s OK to jet out after a workout.
To get the most out of a workout, don’t forget to stretch at the finish line. Kalley recommends static stretching before hitting the locker room to relax those heated muscles. Try foam rolling post-workout/pre-stretching to really get those knots out.
Truth: Foam rolling and stretching are important post-exercise to-dos.

8. Myth: Stretch extra long on race day.
Don’t take those race day jitters out on cold muscles. Researchers have found that static stretching before sprints could both harm muscles and prevent athletes from reaching their A-game potential [7].
Truth: When it comes to stretching, treat race days like any other training day.

9. Myth: Stretching one muscle group will only relieve strain in that area.
Sore in one spot? The source may be another muscle group altogether [8]. One example: Lower back pain isn’t necessarily from forgetting to stretch that back— the culprit could be tight hip flexors. (Sneaky, right?)
Truth: Everything’s connected. Stretch one area, and another might benefit, too.

10. Myth: A five-minute warm-up should cut it.
There’s no way we can squeeze in all those Frankensteins and hit the elliptical in five minutes flat. A proper warm-up often involves foam rolling, dynamic and active stretching, and then light cardio, Gary says, so don’t skimp out on warming up properly.
Truth: When it comes to warming up, take 10 (at least!).

11. Myth: All individuals need the same amount of stretching.
Working long hours at a desk can lead to seriously stiff muscles. So cube-dwellers, remember those muscles might need a little extra attention before and after working out.
Truth: Workaholics may need to stretch more than others.

12. Myth: I’m already flexible, so there’s no need to stretch.
Not necessarily. According to Gary, dynamic stretching and warming up are still important for everyone in order to increase blood flow to muscles. And remember, skimping out on stretching might also decrease flexibility over time.
Truth: Stick to stretching, even once flexibility goals are achieved.

**For the cardio, you need 2 towels..a smooth floor..and a jump rope! Whether you’re jump roping or doing a equipment free move..you need to move as quickly as possible.

1 min Jump Rope
30 seconds Mountain Climbers..put feet on towels..go as fast as possible..I shall call them towel climbers lol
30 sec Jump Rope
30 second Towel Climbers
30 sec Jump Rope
30 second Towel Climbers
30 sec jump Rope
30 second Towel Climbers
30 sec jump rope
**Rest 20 seconds.
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds burpees
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds plank jacks with towels on feet
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds burpees
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds plank jacks with towels on feet
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds burpees
**rest 20 seconds
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds squat jumps
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds lunge jumps
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds squat jumps
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds lunge jumps
30 seconds jump rope
30 seconds lunge jumps

**Strength Training
Smith Machine Squats, 65lbs, 3 sets of 15
Side lunges with 8 lbs med ball twist, 3 sets of 15
Calf Raises on step with 1 riser holding 12 lb weight, 3 sets of 25
Squats with stability ball against wall holding 12 lb weight, 3 sets of 15
Romanian Deadlifts with 40 lbs, 3 sets of 15
Cable kickbacks, 3 sets of 15, 25 lbs
Bulgarian Split Squats, 3 sets of 15, holding 8lb dumbbells
Deep plie squats holding 20 lb kettle bell, 3 sets of 15
Deep plie squat pulses, 3 sets of 10

**Ending Cardio (Treadmill)
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Jog, 1 minute, 6.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Run, 1 minute, 7.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Run, 1 minute, 8.0
**Incline 1.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Jog, 1 minute, 6.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Run, 1 minute, 7.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Run, 1 minute, 8.0
**Incline 2.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Jog, 1 minute, 6.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Run, 1 minute, 7.0
Walk, 1 minute, 4.0
Run, 1 minute, 8.0

Donnnnneee!

Work Out Time: 1 hour 15 min
Cals burned: 527