Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Hey guys, thanks for checking in.

Going to keep this one ¬†brief…a quick focus on grip strength!

An iron grip is a must! If you want to call yourself a real man, you gotta have a strong grip! I can’t express enough how much a weak grip frustrates me and how annoying it is when I shake someones hand and it’s like grabbing a dead fish! Ladies, you too should focus on having a strong grip…no more having to ask someone to open a jar or something right?! ūüėČ

Opens jars with one hand behind the back.

Not only does a strong grip come into play in your day to day living (opening that jar again) but it’s very important in the gym. There are a number of exercises that require a strong grip (deadlifts, shrugs, rows, etc) and if your grip is weak these exercises will be weak and you will be weak because you are limiting your growth/strength potential.

Some of you might be saying “what about using straps?” A good question and one that will have supporters on both sides. My belief is that you should always train to you maximum strength capability (if not slightly beyond it) before implementing any aides (ie. straps). ¬†Far too often I see people in the gym using straps at the wrong times (too light a weight) and/or for the wrong purpose (barbell curls). Please don’t be that guy!

Regretabbly, I used straps as part of my training too frequently when I was younger and as a result I am now playing catch up…trying to build up some solid iron bending grip strength!

No Straps!

Of course, being human I have my limitations and as much as I’d like to be able to deadlift ¬†1000lbs with no straps, that ain’t gonna happen! What I do know…and what I do is train to my max without straps and only occasionally and when absolutely necessary do I use them. I will seek out all other ways to use and increase my grip strength before strapping on a pair of straps.

A good rule of thumb: if your grip is limiting the amount you can lift and thereby limiting your focused muscle group strength capability; go ahead and use straps. But only after you have given it your all!

Only when the weight limits your muscle group strength gains should you use straps.

Before I strap up, the two most common techniques/aides I’ll use first are an alternating grip and/or chalk. ¬†It is amazing how much stronger you feel with some white dust on your hands. Once you wrap your hands around that bar…it pretty much isn’t going anywhere! I highly recommend you get some good quality chalk and give it a try.

Strong grip? Chalk it up.

My Saturday workout:

1.Heavy db step-ups 2×7, 1×20

2.Cheat bb shrugs 1×7,1×5, 1×10 **chalked up on this one, HUGE help** Grip strength in full effect!

3.a Standing calves 2×7, 1×20

b Incline db curl 2×7, 1×11

4.Reverse wrist curl 2×15

Pretty simple but sure got the job done! Feeling it today and my forearms, grip, and traps are in full FORCE! ¬†Still no squats but the replacements are doing an admirable job so far and legs are feeling strong. The step ups required a whole lot of mind over matter as the last set of 20 was suppose to be around 60% of the heavy working sets but due to a calculation error it was 80%. Got it done though and rocked that mofo! Goes to show ya…don’t let the weights defeat you!

Straight up gripping it,

Matt B

Dang! It is good to be blogging again…apologies for my recent, and far too lengthy,¬†absence. But, like George Costanza, I am back baby!

Joking aside, it’s time to get serious.

Re-read the subject heading: Fail to plan, plan to fail!

As simple as it sounds it should trigger some powerful thoughts and get you re-thinking many of your actions. Far too often (myself included) we all get amped up and pumped up about doing something or wanting to reach a certain goal but don’t implement a proper plan to help attain these goals. New years resolutions are a classic example and unfortunately probably the worst.

In an image conscious society many of us wish we could look a certain way. We all see muscular and shredded athletes and want to look the same ourselves. Likewise, for those health conscious individuals who know the benefits of training and want to get fitter and healthier as a result. Unfortunately for many that try, they will fail. Sound harsh? It’s meant to….if you don’t plan, you are planning to fail.

Too many people see pictures like those above and think that by simply going to the gym and doing some bench pressing, curls, and stair climber, they will magically transform themselves. Unfortunately this is not the case and won’t be the case.

You have to have a plan. ¬†A detailed and well thought out plan. Why are you going to the gym? Why are you doing the exercises you are doing? Why are you doing cardio? Why are you eating the way you’re eating? If you can’t answer these questions you won’t reach your goals and your enthusiasm for what you are doing will soon dwindle and disappear.

To be successful in your training (and in any area of life) you need to have a plan and know how that plan relates to your end goal.

So, for example, someone wants to build strength and put on size. GREAT! Don’t we all! ūüėČ

However, that’s too vague! How much and what type of strength? Break it down into smaller segments and work from there. In other words, if you currently bench press 100lbs, you should want to increase that to say, 125lbs. How much do you squat (and please don’t say you don’t squat) and then decide a reasonable increase. If you select all the major lifts and increase the weight on them…you will get stronger, period!

Now, it doesn’t stop there. You can’t just say “ok, i’m squatting 200lbs and want to get stronger so, tomorrow i’m going to squat 250”. You need to plan how you will get there. What rep and set scheme will you have to follow. How much rest periods in between sets. How often should you train each week, etc. Likewise, you will also need to analyze your diet and plan a way to eat more (if gaining size is part of your goal) and in a healthy manner.

For some people this will take some research and investigation. Reading blogs (yes, this one is a great start ;)), books, and training magazines will certainly help. Of course one of the greatest ways for the majority of people (specifically those with limited training/exercise knowledge) will be in getting the guidance from a professional (personal trainer, strength coach etc). Strength coaches/personal trainers (like myself) will be able to help you devise an intricate plan that will answer all the questions above and get you on the right path towards your goal.

Plan to succeed, work hard, and you will!

As always, hit me up with any questions you may have.

Straight up planning to succeed,

Matt B

Just do it!

Posted: March 22, 2011 in Misc.
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Watsup guys!?

I’m going ¬†to keep this one short and sweet…

Nike is a powerful and successful business and we all know their famed catch phrase: “just do it”.

That is the take home message I want to come across in this post.

Basically, if you are planning on starting a fitness/strength routine or doing something to get you more active…just do it!

Way too often, well intentioned people simply put off starting a new training program, class, or whatever it is. They say to themselves:

I’ll start tomorrow…or next week”

“This is a busy month, next month is better”

“I’ll start after my vacation”

“I need to get new gym clothes first”

Etc, etc.

When it comes down to it…these are simply all EXCUSES!

STOP!

Don’t put it off anymore…don’t wait…

JUST DO IT!

I’ve been guilty of this myself at times and i’m not saying it’s easy….but you have to believe in yourself and start today. What if tomorrow never comes? Scary thought, but you get my point. There is no perfect time to start…the only time is now!

Just do it…now…today! Not tomorrow…get after it TODAY!

In fact, stop reading this post right now and go start your training program, get to the gym, take that class…what ever it is…do it!

Ok, since you’re still reading, there’s something I want to add.

I’m not saying you have to become the next Arnold or Fitness figure champion…but, find something you like, something you enjoy and start doing it.

It could be lifting some heavy weights. It could be doing some hill sprints. It could be simply going for a fast paced walk around the neighborhood. It could be a game of touch football. Whatever it is….start now…do it…and keep doing it…and keep getting better/faster/stronger at whatever it is you started. That’s a sure way to reach your goals faster.

As they say: The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Take that first step, do yourself a favor and start TODAY!

That’s it guys…get after your dreams…believe and succeed!

You can do it…if you just do it! ūüėČ

A random but, solid tune to get you on your way:

Straight up doing it,

Matt B

Ch..ch…ch…changes!

Posted: January 14, 2011 in Training
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Happy New Year! (when is it too late to say that?!) ūüėČ

With a new year comes new beginnings, fresh starts, and the perfect time to make changes.

If you feel like your training has stalled or that you’re stuck in a rut, you’ll want to pay attention to this post.

An often overlooked, yet important, training principle is program modification. What this simply means is periodically making changes to your current training routine to continue making progress and gains.

Now, depending on your goals and current level of fitness, this can be done a number of ways.

The most common is to simply change the exercises you’re doing. So for example, if you’re currently doing dumbell rows you might then switch to recline/body inverted rows. This is a great way to make progress and to keep things fresh…which will help you stay excited and commited to your program.

Hot! But changes need to be made...

There are hundreds of different exercises to¬†incorporate¬†into your program…some are crap but many have stood the test of time. Sometimes there is only one way to find out and if your body responds to a new exercise and you enjoy it…it’s a win!

There are some exercises that deserve continued use, especially for beginner/intermediates who it is necessary for in order to learn the proper technique and get stronger at these specific movements. These basic lifts would include squat, bench, deadlift, chin/pull-ups, and some olympic movements (although these are quite difficult to learn and you might be better off getting help from someone who knows these movements). If you change these exercises too frequently, it will be hard to make steady strength gains and your progress will be limited. By focusing on these core lifts repeatedly your structural tolerance (strengthening of ligaments, tendons etc) will be better able to sustain subsequently greater stress/weight in further training sessions.

With that being said, it is still necessary to make alternative changes to these movements in other ways AND on your accessory exercises. ¬†Beginner/intermediate trainees will be best served switching up their program/exercises less frequently, anywhere from every 8-12 weeks while advanced lifters can benefit from switching it up more frequently. Therefore, if you’re a beginner and you are sticking with the basic lifts, when it comes time to switching it up, you would keep the same main lift but vary the intensity. This can be done by changing the rep scheme and load/weight: if you are doing 3×5 heavy change it to 4×8-12 moderate weight. ¬†This is essential if you want to make continued gains. Another way to change up the same exercise would be by decreasing the rest time between sets.

This change is also beneficial for those that change the exercises altogether. You wouldn’t simply want to go into the gym and do the exact same sequence, sets, reps, rest, etc of a different set of exercises. While this would be ok, you would reap much better rewards by switching up the exercises AND one other variable (sets/rep scheme, rest time, supersets, compound sets, ladders etc).

Here is a simple example for illustrative puposes:

Week 1-4                                                                                  Week 5-8

Bench 5×5 ¬†(90 sec rest) ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Bench 3×8-12 (60 sec rest)

DB Row 3×10-12 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Chin ups 3×5

Lunge 3×6-10 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† One leg hip thruster 2×12

Skull crushers 2×12-15 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Close grip bench 3×6-8

In the above example you are keeping the core lift (bench) but switching up the rep scheme AND rest time between sets.  You could also even change the bench to incline bench or db bench. The options really are quite endless.

The key thing to remember is you want to get excited about each training session and if you’re doing the EXACT same thing in 6 months from now as you are today, your enthusiasm will be lacking and you will find it hard to get motivated for your session and your gains will most likely not be where you want them to be.

It’s a new year and a new start. Heck, it’s a new day, a new start!

It’s time to get crack-a-lacking and make serious gains and progress.

If you’ve been using the same program for awhile….STOP! Make some changes, switch up the routine, and get back on the right path towards your goals.

Your body and your mind (including your sanity) will thank you! ūüėČ

Go make those ch..ch..ch…changes!

As always, if you have any questions/comments please fire away.

Straight up,

Matt B.

Who am I…?

Posted: November 29, 2010 in Uncategorized
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This is a question of the ages…

Today,¬† I want to try and simplify it and give you one answer…

When you, or someone else, asks “who are you?” I want you to answer them and yourself with four simple words:

I am a CHAMPION!

Watch this and let it sink in:

“Defeat, retreat, those are not in my words.” Powerful….

Strong beliefs in yourself and in your abilities is what will help you succeed, to pick yourself up when you fall, to never stop moving forward, to never doubt and to never quit!

Ignore the sappy music…but let the words connect:

“Success is failure turned inside out.” LOVE IT!

Think to yourself, what would a Champion do?

To become a Champion takes hard work. You must never quit, you must keep pushing ahead, stay on track, and keep a strong belief in yourself.

We all have bumps along the road, but you can not let these deter you from living up to your potential….from becoming a Champion.

Underneath it all, We are all Champions…for some it just takes a closer look within, extra hard work, and gut busting commitment in the face of failure when quitting would be the easiest thing to do.

Successful people do what unsuccessful people don’t like doing.

I decided to write this post because it often needs reminding….just as much for myself.

We all have goals, whether it’s losing weight, gaining muscle or whatever the case may be, but we all experience moments of weakness and failure. It’s at these times that true champions are born! A champion will get back up, push harder, and never ever quit!

Jordan was a champion…but he put in hours of hard work. Stories of him dribbling a basket ball to and from school, spending hours making free throws etc have been often documented.

Arnold was a champion…I remember a classic story about how his legs and calves were at one point a week area for him. Which is why in many early photographs, he was predominantly pictured from the waist up. So, he would wear pants that were cut into shorts to “show case” his legs which motivated him to train them harder and make them grow. He was also known to go into the gym and squat for 1 to 2 hours straight….just squats!

Find your weaknesses and make them strong!

Champions are comfortable being uncomfortable...let that one sink in.

There are many champions to draw on. Find one that relates to you, believe in yourself that you are a champion, and get after it. But, remember one thing about becoming a champion….it takes hard work and belief that you can!

Champions look adversity in the face and say (warning, strong language): “F%&K OFF!!!”

I believe in you…but you also have to believe in yourself!

Who are you?

I AM A CHAMPION!!!

Be a CHAMPION!

Straight up and striving to be a champion,

Matt B

Shut up and Squat!

Posted: November 2, 2010 in Training
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THE number one exercise (maybe tied with deadlifts) is the SQUAT!

Squats are a CHAMPIONS exercise!

Squats are the KING of all exercises!

Squats are a BEASTS reason for being!!!

In case you haven’t caught on yet…squats are “da whol’ bizness” (think Arnold)….and if you’re not doing them..start NOW!

You simply can’t get strong, built-up legs by doing leg extensions!

I’m JACKED up after my squat session yesterday, which is why i’m so pumped to brag about the benefits of squatting!

I won’t get technical this time around, but you need to get down to basics, get a bar on your back and attack squats.

Squats will build pure strength, size, power, and explosiveness. If you want your legs to grow, throw some HEAVY weight on the bar and SQUAT!

DISCLAIMER for my female readers: Don’t think you are omitted from the use of heavy squats! Do not think that your legs will get too big or too muscular. It takes much more than squatting heavy to do that (drugs, hormones, and ample amounts of calories, etc).¬† Besides, squats will help develop your Kardashian/J-Lo butt! It’s a win-win!

There are a bunch of different rep/set schemes you can use (especially depending on your training experience) but I generally like rep ranges of 5-8 with about 3-4 working sets.

Currently, I’m trying to get my legs to grow again and have been doing reps in the 2-8 range and training them twice per week. Great for beginners, but be sure to take a deload after several weeks of heavy squatting.

The legs are known to respond well to high rep work. Therefore, along with my heavy squatting, I have been throwing in a last set HIGH REP finisher….and these are just pure BRUTAL! I love it! These will rock your legs and will definitely be a good test of strength and will power…you just have to want it!

I wouldn’t do more than 2 high rep sets per session…one is all it takes if you’re doing them right ūüėČ

A couple key points to a strong and safe squat:

Feet outside hip or shoulder width, feet slightly turned out.

Get your eyes fixed on a point straight ahead and avoid the temptation to look up too much and strain your neck.

GRIP the bar TIGHT!

Before lowering the weight, fill your belly with air to create a nice ‘belly of support‘ (Practice without a bar first). Keep the air in the belly until you have gone down and then up. Some pros can maintain the “belly of support” for a couple of reps, but this takes some work…..or you’ll just pass out! Not fun!

Break at the hips first (not the knees) to start the decent.

Attack it…be aggressive…and explode up!


There is so much more to squats than this post addresses. You can incorporate many different types of squats from Zercher squats to Overhead squats and squats with sandbags or kb’s, etc etc. I will get into more on this in another post...time is precious and I want you getting out there and squatting!

My squat workout yesterday:

A couple warmup sets, then;

1×6, 1×4, 1×2, and 1×25!

It was GREAT and I felt STRONG! I am feeling it today and LOVE it…I just know my legs are growing!

Nothing left to say but, Shut up and Squat! ūüėČ

Get after it!

Matt B

I’ve said it before: I LOVE to train!

When I miss a workout for whatever reason, I’m like a junkie going through withdrawal…it’s not a pretty sight.

With that being said however, there comes a time when you NEED to back off from your training. You need to do this in order to continue your gains and help maintain intensity for future sessions.

The term used for this back off period is “deloading” and it can take on many forms.

Depending on how intense your current training program is, I recommend deloading once every 4-8 weeks. The more intense your training (i.e strength/power training that taxes your CNS and joints) the more often you should deload.

If you are doing a lot of deadlifting, squatting, and big, heavy power moves your body needs, and will benefit from, a deload once every 4 weeks. Conversely, if you are doing more circuit type training or conditioning type work, then you can get away with deloading every 8 weeks (I would not go longer than this and even backing off at the 6 week point could prove to be more beneficial).

Generally, the deload period should be about 1 week in length. Too long and your body and your mind might start to lose focus and strength; too short and your body won’t have enough time to fully recover and rejuvenate.

There are a number of things you can do during your deload. Again, depending on the intensity of your previous traning you can simply take the full week off. This would be recommended for those that have been tearing up the weights with brute intensity, specifically on the big 4 movements (squat, deadlift, chins, military press) or any of the olympic lifts (cleans, snatches etc). As long as you are minimizing CNS and joint stress, and spinal loading you are on the right track to a successful deload.

Now, i’m not saying that you have to stop all forms of physical activity (don’t avoid the stairs just because there’s an escalator!). The key is to simply back off….back off from what you were doing, from the heavy loads, etc.

You can, and it’s not a bad idea, to still partake in some activity. Playing some sports, doing some lighter conditioning loads, or even hitting the gym for a ‘lighter’ workout is still OK.

If you just can’t stay away and you have to get in the gym for a workout…be sure and keep the sets down and the weights low. I typically recommend 40-70% of the weight you were using when going balls to the wall!

If you want to maintain intensity and continue the gains you are making in your workouts, you need to be sure you are cycling in deload periods.

You will be amazed at how hungry you will be to hit your next workout after a deload session. You will be chomping at the bit and have a new found sense of intensity and motivation to get back in and attack your workouts.

It will be time to unleash the BEAST within.

Hit it up and get ready…it’s time to deload to explode!!!

‘And then, On to the next one….

Straight up and restful,

Matt B