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  • Anthony Mychal 3:13 pm on September 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Link to the old Start Here page, with best articles 

    The post Link to the old Start Here page, with best articles appeared first on Anthony Mychal will help you build the body of your dreams..

     
  • Lore McSpadden 9:00 am on July 28, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    Zen and the Art of Barbell Training 

    By Lore McSpadden, SFL

    Recently, I met up with an old friend from high school for dinner. We hadn’t seen each other in approximately eighteen years, so you could say we had a bit of catching up to do. Thanks to the fact that he and I have remained friends via the digital ether, though, my friend was well aware that I have become a strength coach and competitive powerlifter. Because it is a mild understatement to say I was not much interested in either my health or strength training in high school, he was understandably curious how I ended up in this line of work.

    My friend asked me, with great curiosity, what it was like to perform a max-effort lift in a competition. It was clear to me the question behind the question was, “Why do you do it?”

    Lore McSpadden Bench Press
    Performing a bench press in competition. (Photo courtesy of Greg Sykes.)

    I paused and asked myself what it is that draws me to such an extreme physical practice and how I could describe it to my friend. Was there anything else I had ever done that I could compare my strength training to?

    The closest parallel I could come up with were my experiences when I lived and trained at a residential Zen meditation center in upstate New York for a period during my early- and mid-twenties. Approximately nine times per year, we did a week-long silent meditation retreat. No eye contact, no talking, and long hours of meditation shaped each moment of each day. Through that experience came a clarity that doesn’t fit into words, where everything was just so, exactly what it was and no more, and I was right there in the midst of it.

    What does that have to do with strength training?

    As far as I’m concerned, everything.

    Zen and the Art of Barbell Training

    I am writing this having recently assisted at an SFL Barbell Instructor Certification in Boston at Skill of Strength. This is the third SFL I have attended and the second one at which I have assisted, and the awe I feel for the depth of detail that goes into each of the lifts taught over the course of the weekend increases each time I am lucky enough to attend.

    Take, for instance, the front squat. Six pages into the manual’s step-by-step description of the barbell front squat comes the fourteenth step, “Squat.” That’s right: the point in the description of the squat where the squat actually happens follows pages of solid-gold material about the feet, breath, thoracic spine, wrists, fingers—the list goes on.

    Another great example is the post The Subtle but Essential Role of the Triceps Brachii in the Deadlift by Chief SFL Dr. Michael Hartle. When people think of the muscles involved in the deadlift, the triceps brachii is hardly one of the first that comes to mind, and yet my experience echoes that of Dr. Mike—the more the triceps are engaged when deadlifting, the better.

    Zen and the Art of Barbell Training
    Chief SFL Dr. Michael Hartle instructing the deadlift at an SFL Certification.

    The quality of focus that goes into the set-up for a successful lift is unparalleled; while this can be seen in the lifts of the best-of-the-best lifters throughout history, it is available to people at all levels of experience after they are exposed to StrongFirst methods. In SFL Certifications, we talk about going through a “pre-flight checklist” when setting up for any lift. But here’s the thing: the checklist really is just the start. As anyone who has attended an SFL can attest, knowing what to do is one thing—and getting your set-up fully dialed in is quite another. So many times through the weekend people have “A-ha!” moments in which their team members’ vigilant eyes and skillful cues helped them bridge the gap between an okay set-up and a really, truly fully engaged set-up.

    Then comes the challenge of duplicating that set-up again, and again, and again, and again, and again, dozens upon hundreds upon thousands of times.

    And a person’s only chance—and I mean their only chance—of doing that is if they are fully present.

    Just Lift

    When I’m at my best, the entire world goes silent when I get ready for a lift. I tune out any sounds and sights, any of the people who are present, any stresses or worries—everything. From feet to head and back again, I come home to myself. I center my awareness in the pit of my belly—the part of the body that many practitioners of Japanese Buddhism, various martial arts, and Eastern medicine call the hara—and become aware of my breath. There is no thought of anything—there is only the attention I bring to my body and its position in that exact moment.

    And in that silence, the lift happens.

    During the SFL, Dr. Mike shared an anecdote about the day when he achieved his best-ever competition back squat to date at 705 pounds. “I don’t even remember making the lift,” he said. “I’ve seen the videos of it. I know it happened. I just don’t remember it.”

    That is the quality of pure absorption in the moment that can happen after training a lift so many times that the movement isn’t something you do—it’s part of you. That feeling of being profoundly connected and present through a difficult effort is why I love training, both in the gym and in competitions.

    Zen and the Art of Barbell Training
    The Zendo in New York where I spent many hours meditating.

    Radical Presence

    We joke in SFLs about “Becoming One with the Bar.” The goal is to have your set-up be so engaged that you’re no longer lifting the weight, you’re just moving your body and the weight happens to be attached to you. But, truth be told, it’s not just a joke. It’s the potential of what can truly happen.

    Of course, barbell work isn’t the only form of training that can help you get to that point of meditative, focused quality of presence. I’ve also experienced it with kettlebells, and Pavel wrote insightfully about this experience in his post titled The Will to Happiness. I have no doubt this level of complete focus is something all elite level athletes have in common. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that part of the love people have for watching professional sports is that something deep and primal within us wakes up when we witness the pure responsiveness that athletes are able to actualize when they are fully absorbed in what they are doing.

    That primal part of us knows we have the capacity for that, too—and we long for it.

    Does this mean that you have to be an elite level athlete to experience this quality of mindfulness? Not at all! You just need to be willing to be present. But this is the antithesis of the default settings of modern life, which tend more toward “pop an ibuprofen and binge watch Netflix while slouching” than it does toward “feel your feet on the ground and pay attention to what your breath and lats are doing.”

    One could even say that, at this point in history, being fully present is so rare that it is a radical and revolutionary act.

    Zen and the Art of Barbell Training

    Only One Thing

    When coaching, I am conscious of integrating questions along with my cues. When first teaching someone a lift, I might tell them to engage their lats (or any other body part) or to adjust the rhythm of their breathing. However, once they become more comfortable with the movement, I might instead ask, “What are your lats doing?” “How about your knees?” or “Where is your breath?”

    And immediately they correct whatever was off. I’ve never once seen someone who knew how to perform an exercise get into a worse position when asked questions along these lines. They know exactly what to do—as soon as they are present and paying attention to what their body is doing.

    How amazing is that? When we are present, our bodies reflexively know what to do. We only need to do one thing: pay attention. And whatever the tool—whether kettlebells, barbells, or bodyweight—StrongFirst methods are uniquely equipped to encourage this level of mindfulness.

    Lore McSpaddenLore McSpadden is a certified personal trainer through the NSCA and a StrongFirst Certified Barbell Instructor (SFL) who has been honored to assist at StrongFirst Barbell Instructor Certifications. While she does hold state, national, and world powerlifting records in the WNPF and continues to enjoy competing in powerlifting meets, nothing is more exciting to her than watching others meet and exceed their goals.

    Lore works at the Charles River YMCA in Needham, MA. In addition to personal training, she also leads small-group sessions for people on the autism spectrum and is a coach in the Y’s Livestrong program, which is designed to help cancer survivors improve their strength and quality of life. She strongly believes that strength and fitness are for everyone and that focusing on performance-related goals is healthier and more sustainable than a primarily aesthetic focus. She empowers clients to manifest their full potential while moving safely and having fun.

    Lore is also a published poet, freelance editor, and experienced baker. You can learn more about Lore at her blog, Positive Force Strength Training, and contact her at positiveforcestrength@gmail.com.

    The post Zen and the Art of Barbell Training appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Chris Abbott 9:00 am on July 26, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    4 Essential Mental Tools for Passing the SFG Level I Cert 

    By Chris Abbott, SFG I

    Ten years ago I signed-up for my first Ironman triathlon. At that time, I had never swum more than 500 yards, never ridden a road bike, and only run three miles once in my life—and hated every minute of it at that. As I found early and often during my training, successfully preparing for and finishing an Ironman triathlon is far more mental than it is physical.

    My experience with triathlons was brief, just three years. I guess you could say I ran it out of my system. But while I left the swim-bike-run business behind, I took with me the mental strength I gained to use later in life.

    When I signed up for my SFG Level I Certification, I had no prior training in the snatch. Yet on week one-day two of my preparation plan, I was scheduled to do my first volume snatch session. High on my horse from a successful on-the-minute swing session the day before, I tore the palm of my hand wide open after just ten minutes of snatching with the 16kg.

    To say I was humbled would be an understatement. Worry and doubt crept in. With only eight weeks, how was I going to get to the point where I could snatch the 24kg 100 times in five minutes? That was the first of many lessons I would learn over the eight weeks to follow.

    Today, I’m going to challenge you to go deep, beyond what you see and feel on the surface, and dive into what matters most—what’s within. Passing the snatch test is far less physical than you think. In my opinion, it’s the easiest part of your weekend.

    To prove that, I’ll equip you with the mental tools you need to succeed, share why adversity is a good thing and should be welcomed, and explain why being relaxed is paramount to your success. If you’ve signed up for the SFG Level I Cert, or are considering it, then read this article, put the tools to work, and know you can and will pass your test.

    SFG Level I Cert
    Practicing swings at the SFG Level I Cert. Photo courtesy of

    1. The Bell Will Always Win, So Don’t Make It a Competition

    You’re at a disadvantage starting your journey in becoming StrongFirst—you haven’t yet learned the tension strategies and world-class drills to fine-tune your technique, but you shouldn’t worry. You’re going to fail in your training many, many times—and that’s a good thing, so long as you view it from the proper perspective. Failures are nothing more than temporary setbacks, and within every temporary setback is a lesson to be learned.

    Don’t fight with the bell—it’ll always win. A loss might come in the form of a sore back, a torn callus, a bum shoulder, or a bruised wrist. Tearing my hand week one was a quick lesson in over-gripping the bell. Later once my hand healed, I realized I also wasn’t taming the arc enough, so the bell was getting away from me both on the way up and on the way down. Just the other day I learned I could pack my left shoulder a little more and tame the arc even more. It’s a never-ending journey.

    Kettlebell training is an art form. When done properly there’s no fighting, forcing, or muscling through. The bell and the user are essentially one. If you view your training sessions as opportunities to get better—and not something that is to be won—you’re ahead of the game and your road to success will be much easier.

    In this sense, the bell is and always will be your best instructor, so long as you agree to become its student. It all starts with the muscle between your ears.

    2. Use Obstacles to Your Advantage

    If you’re training for your SFG Level I Cert, your obstacle is undoubtedly the snatch test. It’s what everyone fears. Overcoming your obstacle will require persistence and resistance. As Ryan Holiday says (author of The Obstacle Is the Way):

    • Persist in your efforts
    • Resist giving into distractions

    You might think that entering a snatch session with a recovering callus and battered body is a recipe for disaster—and it is if you have the wrong mindset. I’ve come to view these types of sessions as tremendous learning opportunities. I place no expectations on the session at hand and simply sort my way through it. I ask myself, “How can I make this feel easy?” After all, like I mentioned earlier, the bell isn’t changing, it’s up to you to adjust to the bell.

    In order to do so, you’ll need to:

    • Control your mind
    • Control your breath
    • Remain focused

    These are all abilities that will come in handy in a variety of real-life situations.

    If you practice enough persistence in your training, control your mind, control your breath, and stay focused, you will without a doubt realize that there are no exterior obstacles—you are the one getting in the way of your success and, therefore, the power to influence your outcome lies within.

    When you’re tired you’re going to want to stop. At some point, you’ll consider changing programs and trying something new in hopes of an answer. Resist distraction and instead, dig your heels in and not only face adversity, but welcome it with open arms. It will provide you with the tools you need to succeed come test day.

    Kettlebell Rack Carry
    Practicing the rack carry at my SFG Level I Cert weekend. Photo courtesy of Extreme Training LLC and DLAB.

    3. Get Out of Your Own Way—Relax and Win

    If you’re not relaxed, then you’re not really in control, and when you’re not in control, you stand little chance in passing your snatch test. The voice inside your head likes to make quick, rash, and sometimes costly decisions that have profound effects on your training.

    Being relaxed in your training allows you to:

    • Control the moment
    • Be present
    • Adjust to the circumstances
    • Crush your training session/lift/test

    I first heard the phrase “relax and win” from Dan John, but the meaning of it didn’t sink in until I finished reading the book Untethered Soul, a book about spiritual enlightenment. The author says that to relax and release is the way to enhance the “here and now” —to let go of stress, worry, the past and the future, to focus on what’s currently happening, and “win,” as I then later applied.

    4. Expect the Unexpected and Roll with It

    Over the course of your training, you’ll fall into a routine. The shape of one bell over the other, the temperature you prefer for training, the training surface you stand on—these all play a part in your performance and your environment becomes your domain.

    My suggestion? Challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. When you aren’t able to use the bells you like or aren’t able to train in the comfort of your “natural” training environment, you will learn something new.

    The first thing I thought when I walked into venue of my SFG Level I Cert was, “Damn, it’s humid in here.” Then I picked up a 24kg and noticed the handle felt thicker than what I had trained with. On top of that, we were training and testing on turf, whereas I prefer to do swings, cleans, and snatches on a hard surface.

    But I had no control over this environment. I either needed to figure out a way to get around my new obstacles or risk failing my test.

    I babied and prepped my hands all weekend. During training I wore sock sleeves (highly recommended). Toward the end of day two, I took off the sleeves to play around with chalk, the feel of the bell, etc. The morning of the snatch test I was about to lose a callus—go figure—and there was nothing to do but roll with it. I elected to forgo chalk in hopes of the callus not catching and tearing off midway through the test.

    I ended up crushing the test. At the four-minute mark I was at ninety snatches. I took a rest, shook it off, and hammered out my last ten nice and easy.

    SFG Level I Cert
    Don’t forget to celebrate! After we passed our SFG Level I Cert, my crew and I attempted to pig out on Fogo De Chao only to realize they were closed—burgers and beer were had elsewhere!

    Are You Ready for the SFG Level I Cert?

    If you’re thinking of signing up for any event, my recommendation is this—just do it!  Whether it’s the SFG Level I Cert, another StrongFirst Course or Cert, or something entirely different, just get after it. And once you’re committed:

    • Hire a coach
    • Be humble in your approach
    • Know you’re going to fail at times in your training, but don’t think of it as a failure—think of it as a temporary defeat, a lesson to be learned
    • Persist in your efforts
    • Resist distractions
    • Get out of your own way
    • Relax and win

    You might think that upon successfully passing the snatch test that you’ve reached the pinnacle of kettlebell training. However, I’ve realized it’s really the beginning and more a rite of passage than a mountaintop. My dad constantly reminds me to “enjoy the ride,” referring to life itself. Perception is reality. Challenge yourself and remember that adversity is not a bad thing, but rather the fuel you need to go further—embrace it.

    When you’re frustrated, panicking, or worrying about the future, stop yourself. Take a few deep breaths, channel the present moment, and let your training take over—after all, they call it “training” for a reason. If you can win the battle between your ears, the physical battle will already be won.

    Chris Abbott StrongFirstChris has an appetite for knowledge and continually attends seminars and workshops to further his education, including classes with The Postural Restoration Institute. Along with his general population clients, he has worked with a variety of professional athletes including players in the NFL, NHL, and MLB. Additionally, he’s found training with kettlebells, eating really healthy, and having a damn good time in the process does a lot of good for the people he works with.

    Chris owns and operates a personal training company called Evolution Strength and Performance out of Santa Monica, California. He’s currently following a 21-week Simple & Sinister program designed to get him to sinister status. You can follow his journey on Facebook and Instagram. Chris also has a weekly blog. For more information, visit his website.

    The post 4 Essential Mental Tools for Passing the SFG Level I Cert appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Kenton Boutwell 9:00 am on July 19, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    The Keys to Executing a Successful Weighted Tactical Pull-Up 

    By Kenton Boutwell, SFG II

    The chain rattled as he looped it through the kettlebell, securing it to his belt. He gripped the pull-up bar and lowered himself into a full hanging position. In a valiant effort, he pulled with all of his might, just managing to clear his chin over the bar. Sadly, the attempt was deemed unsuccessful, as he was unable to touch his neck to the bar.

    This has been the disappointing tale of many Beast Tamer candidates.

    If you watch my video below, you should be able to tell that the pull-up was by far my easiest lift, but this is because of my training history and this experience is not typical. The pull-up is the hardest movement for most people, especially the bigger guys and gals since they have even more mass to move.

     

    So what are some technical keys to the weighted pull-up? In this article, I’m going to focus on the technical setup and execution of the pull-up, specifically the importance of mental imagery, strength, tension, hand placement, and respiration patterns. Perhaps these tips can help you have a better experience at the Beast Tamer or Iron Maiden Challenge.

    The Proper Setup to Perform a Successful Pull-up

    Begin by doing a few mental replays of yourself successfully completing the pull-up. Visualize the entire movement from start to finish. Getting stronger is about maximizing neural recruitment and contraction/tension patterns. By maximizing these patterns, you will improve your proficiency at overcoming external resistances. Mental imagery comes in handy when priming the neural system for motor unit recruitment.

    Once the weight is hooked to you, place your hands on the bar. I recommend a near shoulder-width grip for maximal attempts. Too wide or too narrow of a grip may cause an uneven distribution of the load on the body. Try to be as symmetrical as possible. And don’t forget that a thumbless grip is mandatory.

    Prior to training for the Beast Tamer Challenge, all of my pull-ups were performed non-tactically, including the thumb and excluding neck-to-bar contact. However, after training using the tactical pull-up requirements, I believe training tactically allows for the greatest muscle recruitment and engagement.

    weighted tactical pull-up
    It’s up to you to be ready for the big day.

    Once your grip is set, drop into a full hang position with your elbows locked out, bringing your legs together and crossing your feet. I like to place one foot in front of the bell and pull it back a bit before crossing the top leg over as a way to secure the kettlebell. The last thing you want is a kettlebell swinging back and forth while you are trying to finish your pull-up.

    Many candidates perform weighted pull-ups with their feet and legs apart. In my opinion, this decreases the maximal tension you can produce. Your entire body should be tight and connected in order to perform optimally as a unit, and that’s more difficult when your feet and legs are not together.

    Once you have stabilized the kettlebell, begin priming yourself for the big pull by slightly tensing your entire body. Next, inhale deeply through the nose and into the diaphragm while simultaneously giving yourself a quick body scan. Make sure everything feels stabilized and try to focus on the latissimus dorsi, core, and scapular regions as they are the key muscles involved in this movement. The biceps brachii are also involved, but I’ve intentionally excluded them here since most individuals are already overly focused on this muscle group. The breath, as always, is essential.

    At this point, you should be ready to pull.

    Execution of the Pull-up

    In one explosive pulling motion, begin a tempo-based exhale through the mouth, while simultaneously pulling yourself toward the bar. Try to generate as much tension as possible throughout the body, starting in the lats and moving to the core region. Begin forcefully tensing the core musculature in an attempt to stabilize your body and optimize your position to touch your neck to the bar. Stabilization of the body is going to help keep you in a solid upright, vertical position and decrease the distance between you and the bar. The farther away from the bar you are, the harder it will be to successfully complete this lift.

    You should strive to move your body in a straight line.

    The latissimus dorsi activation coupled with core stabilization should get your chin just over the bar. As soon as your chin passes the bar, immediately shift your awareness to the scapula in order to close the distance between the bar and your neck. Think of squeezing your shoulder blades together as you begin forcefully retracting the scapula.

    You should be exhaling (tempo-based) throughout your ascent, ideally finishing as your neck makes contact with the bar and shoulder blades are pinched together.

    You can view a technical video breakdown of the pull-up here:

    How to Progress Your Weighted Tactical Pull-up

    At this point some of you may be thinking, “Well, that’s great info about the pull-up, but how do I progress to the 48/24kg bell?” As I stated in the opening paragraph, the purpose of this article was to focus on the finer technical points of the movement. True progression relies on having both great technique and great programming.

    In terms of programming, my advice would be to build up to multiple sets of ten repetitions using your own bodyweight with perfect technique and form prior to loading the lift. The best way to learn this technique is to attend an SFB Course or SFB Certification. Once you are ready to start adding weight, factor in both higher volume bodyweight-only days (performing a higher number of total reps) and lower volume-loaded days (lower total reps).

    Once you get within a bell size or two of the 48/24kg, then you will need to begin refining your programming and technical strategies, since fine-tuning will begin to make the most difference in the final stages of training. Good luck!

    Kenton Boutwell AvatarKenton Boutwell is co-founder and CEO of GymCloud and co-owner of Evolve Fitness Nashville. He holds an M.S. in Exercise Physiology and Kinesiology, and is a StrongFirst Kettlebell Level II Instructor, American College of Sports Medicine certified Personal Trainer, USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, USA Powerlifting Club Coach, Precision Nutrition Level 1, and Functional Movement Screen certified fitness professional. He is also a USAF Veteran. He can be reached at kenton@gymcloud.com.

    The post The Keys to Executing a Successful Weighted Tactical Pull-Up appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Craig Marker 9:00 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Get the Benefit of Depth Jumps Without Jumping 

    By Dr. Craig Marker, Research Director, SFG II, SFL, SFB, and COO of StrongFirst

    Although the current Russian Track and Field team is in the news for other reasons, the Soviet teams have long been dominant in the Olympics. One reason is the work of sport scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky. He was obsessive about measuring the effects of each new training method he tried. His obsessiveness paid off in creating one of the most successful training protocols—one based around jumping drills.

    While jumping drills are not appropriate for all athletes, by understanding the science behind them, we can then take those concepts and find ways to apply them using the kettlebell—and without even needing to leave the ground.

    Overspeed Eccentric Kettlebell Swings and Depth Jumps

    The Science Behind Soviet Plyometrics

    Verkhoshansky’s depth jumps eventually became known as plyometrics. But modern day “plyometrics” are quite different from his original work. In Verkhoshansky’s depth jump, an athlete drops off a box, lands briefly absorbing the shock, and then immediately jumps as high as possible. The landing period (or amortization phase) is usually less than 0.2 seconds.

    Verkhoshansky originally called this method shock training. This type of training primes the neurological system for strength changes and explosiveness. In 1989, Verkhoshansky found that highly trained volleyball players undertaking a depth jump program gained 14% in their maximal strength.

    Overspeed Eccentric Kettlebell Swings and Depth Jumps

    There are three main reasons why depth jumps build explosiveness and strength:

    1. Greater Central Nervous System Stimulation: The shock of the depth jump leads to greater muscular excitation. The more frequent the muscle nerve fires, the more strength we have. This strengthens the neural to muscle circuitry.
    2. Myotatic Reflex: As the muscle lengthens, the myotatic reflex (also called the Liddell-Sherrington reflex) causes the muscle to contract. The more our muscles contract reflexively or through neural commands, the stronger we are. Andy Bolton utilizes this reflex right before he deadlifts. He performs three hamstring stretches and on the third stretch he begins his lift.
    3. Neurogenic Effects: Simply put, neurogenic effects occur when the time between stretching the muscle and the subsequent shortening decreases as the pre-motor cortex anticipates the shock. Over time, the firing rates increase in the myotatic reflex. This means, our reflexes get faster as our body anticipates the shock.

    Practical Application of Depth Jumps in Training

    Depth jumps should never be done for high volume and should only be performed one to two times per week. Fewer than ten repetitions is a good standard as the jumps are taxing on the neurological system. These are a speed-strength tool and not an endurance tool.

    Research indicates that dropping from around thirty inches leads to the greatest explosive strength and reactive abilities. Thus, a running back or a soccer player would benefit the most from these heights. Dropping from around 42 inches leads to the greatest maximal strength development. One common training strategy is to start around a person’s maximum vertical jump height.

    Dropping from higher heights is not recommended until an athlete can squat at least 1.5 times his or her bodyweight as the shock from the drop can be three to four times the person’s bodyweight. In addition, any time a person is landing and absorbing shock from great heights, he or she must have good body position. I would not recommend them for most athletes unless they have great squat form and strength. There is a safer alternative.

    Robert Griffin III's form at the 2012 NFL Combine. He has a long history of injuries.

    Robert Griffin III’s jumping form at the 2012 NFL Combine. He has a long history of injuries. This is not recommended form.

    Overspeed Eccentric Kettlebell Swings

    We can activate the same beneficial mechanisms found in the depth jump with Russian kettlebell swings by placing an emphasis on the downward (eccentric) portion of the swing. Instead of absorbing the weight of our own body, as we do in depth jumps, we absorb the shock of the kettlebell when it switches directions. The more we force the kettlebell down, the greater the plyometric effect. In the lab, experienced kettlebell instructors like Pavel Tsatsouline and Brett Jones can make a 24kg kettlebell come back down with the force equivalent to three times their bodyweight.

    Movement expert and physical therapist Kelly Starrett categorizes movements according to their demands on the body. “Category 3” movements are when the body changes position, but must quickly return to a stable position. Verkhoshansky’s depth jumps are a good example of this. As the person absorbs the shock of landing, he or she must quickly get into proper position. Category 3 movements are much more demanding than when the body is already in a stable position. Kettlebell swings have the advantage of allowing us to have good foot position and ankle and knee stability before we absorb the shock of the kettlebell switching directions.

    I might speculate that much of the “what the heck” effects of kettlebell swings come from when we reverse force. The more force there is to reverse, then the more strength we will gain. Additionally, as we build the reflex system, we build an explosive hair trigger that we can fire very quickly with a lot of force. There are multiple stories of advanced powerlifters adding strength to their deadlifts by doing these types of kettlebell swings.

    Kettlebell swing overspeed eccentrics can be accomplished in three ways, which are all demonstrated in the video below:

    1. Accentuate the Eccentric: Generally, we let the kettlebell float into position and let gravity take it back down into our next swing. However, we can actively accelerate it downward by throwing it down and between our legs.
    2. Partner Assisted Downward Throw: Have a person stand on the side and push down on the kettlebell when it reaches the top.
    3. Band Assisted Eccentric: Wrap a band around the kettlebell and stand on the band. Once the kettlebell hits the top of the swing, the band will accelerate the kettlebell back down.

    How to Add Overspeed Eccentric Swings to Your Training

    Similar to the recommendations above for depth jumps, I would not recommend doing overspeed eccentric swings frequently or with higher reps. The neurologic system is taxed much more than in regular swings and will not make gains with high-rep schemes. Ten or fewer reps is a good rule of thumb with at least a few minutes of rest in between sets. Don’t do these more than a few days a week. Brett Jones might call overspeed eccentric swings a “spice” and not the main course.

    Summary

    The more we do plyometrics, the more our body responds and builds explosive power. This explosive power can help our absolute strength (e.g., deadlift), speed strength (e.g., clean), and pure speed (e.g., sprinting). Basically, we are learning to load our muscles with potential energy for later release. While depth jumps are effective, the overspeed eccentric swing is a safer and more practical alternative.

    References:
    1. Cook, Christian J., C. Martyn Beaven, and Liam P. Kilduff. 2013. “Three Weeks of Eccentric Training Combined With Overspeed Exercises Enhances Power and Running Speed Performance Gains in Trained Athletes:” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27 (5): 1280–86. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182679278.
    2. Isner-Horobeti, Marie-Eve, Stéphane Pascal Dufour, Philippe Vautravers, Bernard Geny, Emmanuel Coudeyre, and Ruddy Richard. “Eccentric Exercise Training: Modalities, Applications and Perspectives.Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 43, no. 6 (June 2013): 483–512. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0052-y.
    3. Santello, M. 2005. “Review of Motor Control Mechanisms Underlying Impact Absorption from Falls.” Gait & Posture 21 (1): 85–94. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2004.01.005.
    4. Turner, Anthony N, and Ian Jeffreys. “The Stretch-Shortening Cycle: Proposed Mechanisms and Methods for Enhancement. Strength and Conditioning Journal 32, no. 4 (August 2010): 87–99. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181e928f9.
    5. Verkhoshansky, YV., “Are Depth Jumps Useful.” Track and Field 1967 12 (9).
    6. Verkhoshansky, Yuri V., and V. V. Lazarev. 1989. “Principles of Planning Speed and Strength/speed Endurance Training in Sports.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 11 (2): 58–61.
    7. Yessis, M., “Kinesiological Research in the Soviet Union.” Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation 1972 43 (1): 93–98.

    Craig Marker StrongFirstCraig Marker, Ph.D., COO, SFB, SFGII, CSCS, is a fitness enthusiast who has spent his life trying to help people improve their lives. As a professor, he works with students on how best to understand research and place it into context. He has published over fifty articles, chapters, and textbooks on psychology and research methods. As a researcher, he understands the cutting edge of strength, sports performance, body composition, and nutrition. As a psychologist, he has focused on research and treatment of anxiety disorders, which positions him to understand motivation and the fear of making life changes.

    Craig’s upcoming book, the AntiFragile Self, takes on the topic of building a stronger person in the mental and physical domains. As a certified StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor, Craig views kettlebells as one tool in the trade of forging a better person. He uses the Functional Movement Screen and multiple corrective movements to make sure his students are performing at their best for the rest of their lives. Visit his intentional community in Atlanta at Armour Building.

    The post How to Get the Benefit of Depth Jumps Without Jumping appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Craig Marker 9:00 am on July 14, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Get the Benefit of Depth Jumps Without Jumping 

    By Dr. Craig Marker, Research Director, SFG II, SFL, SFB, and COO of StrongFirst

    Although the current Russian Track and Field team is in the news for other reasons, the Soviet teams have long been dominant in the Olympics. One reason is the work of sport scientist Yuri Verkhoshansky. He was obsessive about measuring the effects of each new training method he tried. His obsessiveness paid off in creating one of the most successful training protocols—one based around jumping drills.

    While jumping drills are not appropriate for all athletes, by understanding the science behind them, we can then take those concepts and find ways to apply them using the kettlebell—and without even needing to leave the ground.

    Overspeed Eccentric Kettlebell Swings and Depth Jumps

    The Science Behind Soviet Plyometrics

    Verkhoshansky’s depth jumps eventually became known as plyometrics. But modern day “plyometrics” are quite different from his original work. In Verkhoshansky’s depth jump, an athlete drops off a box, lands briefly absorbing the shock, and then immediately jumps as high as possible. The landing period (or amortization phase) is usually less than 0.2 seconds.

    Verkhoshansky originally called this method shock training. This type of training primes the neurological system for strength changes and explosiveness. In 1989, Verkhoshansky found that highly trained volleyball players undertaking a depth jump program gained 14% in their maximal strength.

    Overspeed Eccentric Kettlebell Swings and Depth Jumps

    There are three main reasons why depth jumps build explosiveness and strength:

    1. Greater Central Nervous System Stimulation: The shock of the depth jump leads to greater muscular excitation. The more frequent the muscle nerve fires, the more strength we have. This strengthens the neural to muscle circuitry.
    2. Myotatic Reflex: As the muscle lengthens, the myotatic reflex (also called the Liddell-Sherrington reflex) causes the muscle to contract. The more our muscles contract reflexively or through neural commands, the stronger we are. Andy Bolton utilizes this reflex right before he deadlifts. He performs three hamstring stretches and on the third stretch he begins his lift.
    3. Neurogenic Effects: Simply put, neurogenic effects occur when the time between stretching the muscle and the subsequent shortening decreases as the pre-motor cortex anticipates the shock. Over time, the firing rates increase in the myotatic reflex. This means, our reflexes get faster as our body anticipates the shock.

    Practical Application of Depth Jumps in Training

    Depth jumps should never be done for high volume and should only be performed one to two times per week. Fewer than ten repetitions is a good standard as the jumps are taxing on the neurological system. These are a speed-strength tool and not an endurance tool.

    Research indicates that dropping from around thirty inches leads to the greatest explosive strength and reactive abilities. Thus, a running back or a soccer player would benefit the most from these heights. Dropping from around 42 inches leads to the greatest maximal strength development. One common training strategy is to start around a person’s maximum vertical jump height.

    Dropping from higher heights is not recommended until an athlete can squat at least 1.5 times his or her bodyweight as the shock from the drop can be three to four times the person’s bodyweight. In addition, any time a person is landing and absorbing shock from great heights, he or she must have good body position. I would not recommend them for most athletes unless they have great squat form and strength. There is a safer alternative.

    Robert Griffin III's form at the 2012 NFL Combine. He has a long history of injuries.

    Robert Griffin III’s jumping form at the 2012 NFL Combine. He has a long history of injuries. This is not recommended form.

    Overspeed Eccentric Kettlebell Swings

    We can activate the same beneficial mechanisms found in the depth jump with Russian kettlebell swings by placing an emphasis on the downward (eccentric) portion of the swing. Instead of absorbing the weight of our own body, as we do in depth jumps, we absorb the shock of the kettlebell when it switches directions. The more we force the kettlebell down, the greater the plyometric effect. In the lab, experienced kettlebell instructors like Pavel Tsatsouline and Brett Jones can make a 24kg kettlebell come back down with the force equivalent to three times their bodyweight.

    Movement expert and physical therapist Kelly Starrett categorizes movements according to their demands on the body. “Category 3” movements are when the body changes position, but must quickly return to a stable position. Verkhoshansky’s depth jumps are a good example of this. As the person absorbs the shock of landing, he or she must quickly get into proper position. Category 3 movements are much more demanding than when the body is already in a stable position. Kettlebell swings have the advantage of allowing us to have good foot position and ankle and knee stability before we absorb the shock of the kettlebell switching directions.

    I might speculate that much of the “what the heck” effects of kettlebell swings come from when we reverse force. The more force there is to reverse, then the more strength we will gain. Additionally, as we build the reflex system, we build an explosive hair trigger that we can fire very quickly with a lot of force. There are multiple stories of advanced powerlifters adding strength to their deadlifts by doing these types of kettlebell swings.

    Kettlebell swing overspeed eccentrics can be accomplished in three ways, which are all demonstrated in the video below:

    1. Accentuate the Eccentric: Generally, we let the kettlebell float into position and let gravity take it back down into our next swing. However, we can actively accelerate it downward by throwing it down and between our legs.
    2. Partner Assisted Downward Throw: Have a person stand on the side and push down on the kettlebell when it reaches the top.
    3. Band Assisted Eccentric: Wrap a band around the kettlebell and stand on the band. Once the kettlebell hits the top of the swing, the band will accelerate the kettlebell back down.

    How to Add Overspeed Eccentric Swings to Your Training

    Similar to the recommendations above for depth jumps, I would not recommend doing overspeed eccentric swings frequently or with higher reps. The neurologic system is taxed much more than in regular swings and will not make gains with high-rep schemes. Ten or fewer reps is a good rule of thumb with at least a few minutes of rest in between sets. Don’t do these more than a few days a week. Brett Jones might call overspeed eccentric swings a “spice” and not the main course.

    Summary

    The more we do plyometrics, the more our body responds and builds explosive power. This explosive power can help our absolute strength (e.g., deadlift), speed strength (e.g., clean), and pure speed (e.g., sprinting). Basically, we are learning to load our muscles with potential energy for later release. While depth jumps are effective, the overspeed eccentric swing is a safer and more practical alternative.

    References:
    1. Cook, Christian J., C. Martyn Beaven, and Liam P. Kilduff. 2013. “Three Weeks of Eccentric Training Combined With Overspeed Exercises Enhances Power and Running Speed Performance Gains in Trained Athletes:” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 27 (5): 1280–86. doi:10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182679278.
    2. Isner-Horobeti, Marie-Eve, Stéphane Pascal Dufour, Philippe Vautravers, Bernard Geny, Emmanuel Coudeyre, and Ruddy Richard. “Eccentric Exercise Training: Modalities, Applications and Perspectives.Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.) 43, no. 6 (June 2013): 483–512. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0052-y.
    3. Santello, M. 2005. “Review of Motor Control Mechanisms Underlying Impact Absorption from Falls.” Gait & Posture 21 (1): 85–94. doi:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2004.01.005.
    4. Turner, Anthony N, and Ian Jeffreys. “The Stretch-Shortening Cycle: Proposed Mechanisms and Methods for Enhancement. Strength and Conditioning Journal 32, no. 4 (August 2010): 87–99. doi:10.1519/SSC.0b013e3181e928f9.
    5. Verkhoshansky, YV., “Are Depth Jumps Useful.” Track and Field 1967 12 (9).
    6. Verkhoshansky, Yuri V., and V. V. Lazarev. 1989. “Principles of Planning Speed and Strength/speed Endurance Training in Sports.” Strength & Conditioning Journal 11 (2): 58–61.
    7. Yessis, M., “Kinesiological Research in the Soviet Union.” Journal of Health, Physical Education, Recreation 1972 43 (1): 93–98.

    Craig Marker StrongFirstCraig Marker, Ph.D., COO, SFB, SFGII, CSCS, is a fitness enthusiast who has spent his life trying to help people improve their lives. As a professor, he works with students on how best to understand research and place it into context. He has published over fifty articles, chapters, and textbooks on psychology and research methods. As a researcher, he understands the cutting edge of strength, sports performance, body composition, and nutrition. As a psychologist, he has focused on research and treatment of anxiety disorders, which positions him to understand motivation and the fear of making life changes.

    Craig’s upcoming book, the AntiFragile Self, takes on the topic of building a stronger person in the mental and physical domains. As a certified StrongFirst Kettlebell Instructor, Craig views kettlebells as one tool in the trade of forging a better person. He uses the Functional Movement Screen and multiple corrective movements to make sure his students are performing at their best for the rest of their lives. Visit his intentional community in Atlanta at Armour Building.

    The post How to Get the Benefit of Depth Jumps Without Jumping appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Aleks Salkin 9:00 am on July 12, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags:   

    The Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program 

    By Aleks Salkin, SFG II, SFB

    Odds are you have some fond memories of college. Odds are also that you remember doing something you’re not very proud of during that time. I know I do. In my junior year of college, I signed up to undergo one of those medical testing studies that seems to lure so many undergrads and other assorted weirdos into its sterile, scrubs-laden clutches with the promise of a quick $1,000+ in exchange for you to become a human guinea pig for a weekend.

    That in and of itself isn’t what I’m not proud of (at the time it was the fastest $1,000 I’d ever made; don’t judge). Far from it. What shamed me that weekend was the sad predicament I found myself in—nay, created for myself. After being told I couldn’t bring a kettlebell into the facility with me to workout and pass my time during the weekend—and yes, I asked—I thought to myself, “No problem, I’ll just figure out something else to do.” How wrong I was.

    At the time, I was familiar with bodyweight training, having read Pavel’s pedestal-worthy classic The Naked Warrior. I had done pistols before and had feasted on a face full of dirt more times than I could count after hurriedly attempting (and failing at) one-arm push-ups. I had no patience and was certainly lacking a hefty amount of foresight. Because I always had a kettlebell handy, I relegated calisthenics to the side, thinking I’d learn more about it “one of these days” when I had more time on my hands.

    That weekend, locked in that clinic, the time had come. And this naked warrior was completely unarmed and caught totally off guard. I lost a decisive and quick battle that weekend, and my punishment was to spend a long three days as a shiftless lay-about watching bad movies and avoiding the other walking medical experiments.

    Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program

    What Would You Do Without Your Kettlebell?

    As with most early twenty-somethings, it took me a long time of making the same mistake over and over before I learned my lesson. But I’m proud to say I’ve learned it well and have since taken on calisthenics training as a serious discipline, and I’ve been reaping the rewards ever since—in terms of health, physical development, and, of course, strength.

    One of the major things I learned that weekend—and something it seems every strength fanatic learns the hard way at some point or another—is that lifting yourself into a very narrow corner will stunt your physical development on two fronts: first, in terms of your overall gains, and second, in terms of what you can get accomplished in less-than-favorable circumstances.

    The sad truth is most of us are still lost without our kettlebells. Most of us are lost without our barbells. But no matter how lost you get, you will never be without your body weight—and that means your strength doesn’t have to get lost along with you.

    So how do you work on continuing to get stronger when you are limited to next-to-no equipment, save for the ground, a wall, and something to hang on?

    The program contained later in this article will address just that—how to get freakishly strong on a carefully crafted and logically progressed skeleton crew of exercises: a push, a pull, and a squat. But in order to take advantage of this program, you must first realize two things:

    1. You are, in fact, unlimited in your options with that skeleton crew of “equipment” and exercise selection.
    2. Being “equipment-less” is a golden opportunity to take advantage of what calisthenics does best: forces you to be creative, fill your training gaps, and build a strong scaffold for future kettlebell and barbell success.

    Step 1: Perfect the Hollow Position

    “If I had two hours to cut down a tree, I’d spend an hour and a half sharpening my axe.”—Abraham Lincoln

    At StrongFirst, we place a premium on fine tuning the basics for the simple reason that everything else is built upon them. And what could be more basic than learning (or perhaps relearning) how to generate tension from nothing and how to maintain the proper body position for the techniques in question? (The answer is “nothing,” for those keeping track at home.)

    For the record, the photo below shows the hollow position: an open C-shape of the body, with the distance between the sternum and the navel shortened, and everything between the fingers and the toes held tight as possible. Because there are plenty of fine details that go into this otherwise simple position—details that are beyond the scope of this article—you’ll get only a crash course here (attend an SFB Course or SFB Certification to dive deeper into the details).

    The Hollow Position

    The Hollow Position

    To get into the hollow position:

    1. Lay on your back, lift your head to look at your belly button
    2. Point your legs toward the sky and lower your them until it feels like your legs are resting on your butt
    3. Extend your hands overhead.

    Holding this position alone will ratchet up the tension in your body, but a few simple drills, such as squeezing a towel between the legs, crushing a towel with the low back, and pressing your hands together will send the tension levels sky high. This will come in handy not only for the bodyweight exercises you’ll be practicing, but will have an unbeatable carryover into your favorite barbell and kettlebell exercises.

    The hollow position will apply in varying degrees to nearly all the major bodyweight strength exercises and you will need it to ensure the proper linkage, tension, and control in each move, so don’t gloss over it.

    Step 2: Learn the Moves

    In The Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program, you’ll have three main days wherein you’ll work each of your three major movements—a push, a pull, and a squat—at varying intensities. You’ll also have two optional variety days to fill in the gaps and scaffold your success at your main movements.

    Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program

    The Handstand Push-up (and Progressions)

    Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program

    The Tactical Pull-up

    Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program

    The Pistol Squat

    For the pistol, you can remain perfectly hollow throughout. With the pull-up and handstand push-up, for both performance and shoulder health reasons, I would recommend you open your chest a bit. Your abs, glutes, and legs, however, should stay locked down for strength, tension, and control.

    The pistol and the pull-up make perfect sense as the go-to squat and pull exercises in a bodyweight-only program for a variety of reasons so blindingly obvious they don’t even bear repeating in this short article, but you might want to know why I’d go with handstand push-ups over one-arm push-ups in a program like this.

    The answer is simple: from my experience, one-arm push-ups respond best to lower volume, plenty of rest between sets, and a grease-the-groove or Easy Strength schedule. Trying to cram a move that requires the level of tension, precision, and technical skill as the one-arm push-up does into a higher volume program is a recipe for disappointment.

    What’s more, your stabilizer muscles such as your quadratus lumborum and hip rotators probably won’t appreciate the double shot of demands placed on them by both higher volume pistols and one-arm push-ups in a single program. If you’re really proficient at them, by all means, give it a shot, but in my correct opinion, you’ll be better off with handstand push-ups.

    Step 3: Understand the Rep Scheme

    A rep scheme I like and that allows you to get a lot of volume in a relatively short amount of time while still focusing on strength is the following (all listed as sets x reps)

    • 15×1
    • 12×2
    • 10×3

    For the 15×1, use your 3TRM, for the 12×2 use your 6TRM, and for 10×3 use your 10TRM. TRM, for those not familiar with it, is your technical rep max (see Master SFG Fabio Zonin’s fantastic article The 5TRM Back Squat Program for further details). Your TRM is the rep max you can do while making each rep look exactly the same—no loss in rep speed, no loss in technical soundness, and no loss in quality. If you can do six reps of a given exercise, but the sixth rep looks like a struggle, it’s not your 6TRM. In order to qualify, each rep must look really solid. This may require you to get your ego in check, but you can only train one thing at a time: your body or your ego. Pick one.

    As for how to get to your 3-, 6-, and 10TRM, the method is different for each move:

    • For starters, with the pull-up and pistol you should simply add weight. Do not complicate things with fancy variations; stick to the tried-and-true standard variations of both for this program and play with more complex variations later. If you cannot get at least ten reps with your bodyweight with both the pistol and pull-up, I suggest you work on that before beginning this program.
    • For the handstand push-up (HSPU), I recommend manipulating the range of motion. Since most people only ever do them from head to ground on up, they miss out on all the strength benefits there are to be wrought from increasing the range of motion (ROM). An increase in ROM with HSPUs, however, is kind of a tall order. So how do you get stronger through the full range of motion when you’re struggling to add even a little to this movement? Enter the souped-up pike push-up. I started doing these many moons ago to bump up my regular handstand push-ups and sure enough, I went from five to nine in a single week’s worth of practice, so these are not to be ignored.

    The strength benefits of a farmer’s tan are almost universally underestimated.

    The Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program

    With many strength programs, you have dedicated hard, medium, and light days. On this program, you will work different moves hard/medium/light each main day. It makes for a surprisingly tough, but effective, program. The layout will look something like this:

    Monday:

    • HSPU: 15×1
    • Pistol: 12×2
    • Pull-up: 10×3

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: 15×1
    • Pull-up: 12×2
    • HSPU: 10×3

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: 15×1
    • HSPU: 12×2
    • Pistol: 10×3

    And on your variety days? Well, they’re perfectly optional. You might find the above is enough to warrant more rest days, and that’s fine. If you’ve still got some energy in the tank on your variety days to do more than stretch, relax, and watch your favorite cat videos on YouTube, I’d recommend the following:

    Variety days:

    • Hanging leg raise: 1-3 reps x 3-5 sets
    • Back bridge progression: submaximal holds

    And if you must get some conditioning or power work in, your variety days are the days to do it. In those categories, my vote goes to hill sprints for your power work and crawling, Original Strength-style, for your conditioning. Keep your eyes up and move contralaterally. No plodding along like a pachyderm. And yes, I know, I know, “Crawling’s for babies.” And making passive-aggressive attacks from the safety of your computer is for juveniles, but only one of them will make you stronger, leaner, better conditioned, and a better mover—so take your pick, tough guy.

    The Method: How to Progress

    The above set and rep demands can be tough the first time around, so look at them as the benchmark, not the requirement. Work your way toward them if you must, but don’t bother going beyond (yet).

    One thing each rep scheme has in common is they all revolve around a roughly 30% effort of your max reps in the given TRM. The way you will progress through time is by increasing the percentage effort of your TRM in each set. For example:

    Week 1:

    Monday:

    • HSPU: 15×1
    • Pistol: 12×2
    • Pull-up: 10×3

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: 15×1
    • Pull-up: 12×2
    • HSPU: 10×3

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: 15×1
    • HSPU: 12×2
    • Pistol: 10×3

    Week 2:

    Monday:

    • HSPU: (1, 2) x 5 (3TRM)
    • Pistol: (2, 3) x 4 + 2×2 (6TRM)
    • Pull-up: (3, 4) x 3 + 3×3 (10TRM)

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: (1, 2) x 5 (3TRM)
    • Pull-up: (2, 3) x 4 + 2×2 (6TRM)
    • HSPU: (3, 4) x 3 + 3×3 (10TRM)

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: (1, 2) x 5 (3TRM)
    • HSPU: (2, 3) x 4 + 2×2 (6TRM)
    • Pistol: (3, 4) x 3 + 3×3 (10TRM)

    Week 3:

    Monday:

    • HSPU: 8×2
    • Pistol: 8×3
    • Pull-up: 8×4

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: 8×2
    • Pull-up: 8×3
    • HSPU: 8×4

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: 8×2
    • HSPU: 8×3
    • Pistol: 8×4

    Week 4:

    Deload – Repeat Week 1

    Week 5:

    Monday:

    • HSPU: 8×2
    • Pistol: 8×3
    • Pull-up: 8×4

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: 8×2
    • Pull-up: 8×3
    • HSPU: 8×4

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: 8×2
    • HSPU: 8×3
    • Pistol: 8×4

    Week 6:

    Monday:

    • HSPU: (2, 3) x 3
    • Pistol: (3, 4) x 3 + 1×3
    • Pull-up: (4, 5) x 3 + 1×3

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: (2, 3) x 3
    • Pull-up: (3, 4) x 3 + 1×3
    • HSPU: (4, 5) x 3 + 1×3

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: (2, 3) x 3
    • HSPU: (3, 4) x 3 + 1×3
    • Pistol: (4, 5) x 3 + 1×3

    Week 7

    Monday:

    • HSPU: 5×3
    • Pistol: 6×4
    • Pull-up: 6×5

    Wednesday:

    • Pistol: 5×3
    • Pull-up: 6×4
    • HSPU: 6×5

    Friday:

    • Pull-up: 5×3
    • HSPU: 6×4
    • Pistol: 6×5

    Week 8:

    Deload – repeat week 5

    Week 9:

    Here you have two options:

    • Retest 3-, 6-, and 10TRMs of each exercise at your leisure and start the program over or move on to a different program.
    • Start adding a set or two per workout and begin increasing the volume. If you keep the added volume somewhat moderate, you can likely maintain the same schedule, but if you aim to increase volume significantly, then you will want to break things up to no more than two moves per workout (ex: pull-up and HSPU on one day, pistols the next, etc.). Once you’ve reached a satisfactory amount of added volume (between 7-10 sets), you can then start increasing the density by “racing the clock” to complete your sessions more quickly. Once you can no longer do this, take a few days off and test your maxes.

    Never Miss Out on Training Ever Again

    After several weeks on a program like this, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised. This was the program that led me to my first legit full-ROM handstand push-up, not to mention helped me reclaim my weighted pull-up and pistol strength that I had lost through time and disuse.

    Of course, you can also choose to practice just one of the above techniques and insert it into your existing program following the same rep scheme, or do it on a grease the groove-styled schedule. The choice is yours, but no matter what, you’ll gain a lot of readily applicable brute strength as well as some mental toughness to boot.

    As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Life is guaranteed to throw you a curveball and whisk you off of your carefully plotted course when you least expect it. But your path to greater strength and muscularity can stay right on track when you learn to capitalize on one of the greatest and most under-utilized strength training tools in existence: your own fair flesh.

    So go ahead: take the road less traveled, get a little lost, and along your way, find your strength—any time, anywhere.

    To learn more about bodyweight training, consider the SFB Course or SFB Certification.

    Aleks Salkin StrongFirstAleks Salkin is a Level II StrongFirst Certified kettlebell instructor (SFG II) and an Original Strength Instructor. He grew up scrawny, unathletic, weak, and goofy until he was exposed in his early twenties to kettlebells and the teachings and methodology of Pavel. He is currently based out of Jerusalem, Israel and spends his time teaching clients both in person and online, as well as spreading the word of StrongFirst and calisthenics. He is the author of The 8-Week Kettlebell and Bodyweight Challenge. Find him online at Aleks Salkin and on Facebook.

    The post The Anytime, Anywhere Bodyweight-Only Strength Program appeared first on StrongFirst.

     
  • Brett Jones 9:00 am on July 5, 2016 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Exercise the Vital Muscle of Patience 


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