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Category: New Lifters (page 1 of 3)

Your Weekly Schedule for Building Strength of All Types

Quick Definitions

Types of Strength

Absolute strength is how much you can do. Period.

Relative strength is how much you can do… relative to your body weight. This type of strength is the most “functional” because it doesn’t come with the high cost of heavy bodyweight. This is what most normal people are looking for.

Barbell strength is generally measured by how much weight you can lift with a barbell. This is what most powerlifters are after: big squats, bench presses, and deadlifts.

Bodyweight strength is taxed by decreasing your joint leverage. If I want to move the most weight on a barbell, I want my joints to be in optimal alignment. If I want to do crazy bodyweight stuff, “optimal alignment” means something totally different. There is usually a strong mobility / flexibility component to this as well. High bodyweight strength is highly impressive.

Intensity is Important

Intensity is kind of jargon term. It means force and speed. Fast movements have high intensity. Heavy movements have high intensity. Pushing a really heavy sled — a weight you can only walk with, not run — is a high intensity activity. So is lifting a 5 rep maximum (5RM) on your squat.

Sprinting is very intense. A 1RM squat is a little less intense. A 3RM squat less than that. A 3RM deadlift less than that. A 3RM bench press less than that. Keep this in mind when picking your exercises.

Rest is Important

Rest is just as important. When fatigued, intensity drops; you can’t move as fast and you can’t use heavier weights. It is, therefore, imperative that you rest adequately. 1 minute is enough sometimes. Usually you need closer to 3 minutes. Sometimes you need 15 minutes (for max effort sprinting, as an example).

Your Weekly Plan: High/Low

Some days should be really intense. Your other days should be quite easy. There is no middleground.

Middle Days

CrossFit is a good example of middleground. You have pretty heavy weights and you just keep going and going and going and going until you’re too fatigued to continue. You aren’t using the most weight you’ve ever done, but you also couldn’t keep going for much longer.

You should generally avoid this type of training unless it’s what you’re testing.

High Days

High intensity days are your heavy lifts, challenging bodyweight position holds, and fast movements. You should have to hold your breath for this stuff.

The high intensity days develop your strength, speed, and power.

Low Days

Low intensity days are your continuous movements, your long runs, your elliptical work, and your exercise circuits. You should continue breathing here and nothing should burn too much.

The low intensity days teach technique and help you recover before your next high days.

Weekly Schedule

If you aren’t used to training high intensity days, start with two a week. You can move to three pretty quickly, but don’t let every day be heavy. This wears the body down. Lighter, fast work trains your nervous system to rev up hard without all the extra stress on the joints. Maybe you do some jumps, some med ball throws, and then work into a 4-exercise technique circuit.

More advanced trainees will even get to 4 or 5 high days each week.

Summary

  • Make your high days heavy and/or fast. Make it hard enough to have to hold your breath. Don’t do this if you’re at risk for stroke or not cleared by your doctor for exercise, please. Everything should be difficult, but still possible.
  • Make your low days full of movement. Breathe consistently. Your legs and lungs shouldn’t burn much, especially after the initial warm up period. Let this exercise clear your mind and energize you.

The Unseen Importance of a Warm Up — And How to Write Your Own

On my way to the gym. Running late. Got out of the office late. Then forgot something and had to head back really quickly. Stopped at seemingly every traffic light that has ever existed.

Surely you’ve experienced that. Do you ever skip your warm up when that happens?

How much of it do you skip? Do you even have a warm up?

There are some parts of a warm up that are absolutely essential. Then there are some things that you can use to “stack the deck”, so to speak, to ensure you’re optimizing your session.

A good warm up sets you up for a great workout.

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Measuring Your Progress

Getting frustrated with your progress — or lack thereof?

Maybe you’re right and you need to consider a new plan. That’s okay! But you have to know what you’ve been doing. And today I’ll help you set some goals (though you should talk to your coach and come up with a plan together).

Maybe, however, you actually HAVE made progress, but you just can’t see it. Let me help you take a step back and evaluate.

What is your BIG Goal?

What do you want to accomplish? Do you want to fit into an old dress? Excellent! That’s easy to measure. When do you want to fit into that dress? Let’s set a timeline.

S.M.A.R.T. Goal Framework

I’ve always found it helpful to make SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-sensitive

This is where your coach can really come in handy. Not every training method is good for every person. Some people will get a lot out of yoga, but you don’t NEED to do yoga.

I don’t mean to pick on yoga. It applies to all training methods: PRI, FMS correctives, CrossFit, whatever. Literally anything.

Anyways, since I’ve seen hundreds of different people as I’ve developed my coaching eye, I’ve seen hundreds of different ways that things can play out. I can steer you in the right direction. And when that direction proves to be a little off-target — because plan A never works — I can help you re-align.

Deeper SMART Goals

I implore you to do more than just listing one sentence for your goal. Dive deeper. How will you make this goal a reality? Be specific about your goal specificity. What are some ways you’re going to measure it? When are you going to take those measurements? Who will take those measurements? How often? What would make you change that plan? Think about every. little. detail.

Shoot to write at least 500 words on each goal. Write for at least ten minutes. If you don’t have anything to say, sit there and think about it instead. If you’re spinning your wheels, move on to the next goal and maybe that will jog some creative thinking.

What are your sub-goals?

Sub-goals comprise your BIG goal. What’s the best way to identify them? It happens when you dive deeper into your superficial SMART goal. Not much feels more magical than just continuously unlocking thoughts you didn’t know you were thinking. A lot of people are smarter than they allow themselves to be. It’s just like fitness, actually.

What else can you measure?

List out sub-goals. Then elaborate on each one of those.

I always like to set performance goals along with body composition goals. Looking to shed some fat? You can generally see progress pretty quickly there, but it’s susceptible to fluctuation. How about we also track your work capacity? Maybe your resting heart rate, strength, and subjective well-being, too.

Health is broad. What is important to you? Above all else, I want to feel well. That entails strength, cardiovascular fitness, business success, and social connections. Include all of those goals, too! I couldn’t live with myself if I helped you lose weight, but made you into a person you no longer liked.

Now I will leave you with some examples of things you can measure. Get your notebook and favorite pen ready.

Work capacity

Measure your work output. Maybe try some escalating density training, for example. See how far you’ve come.

Cardiovascular fitness

Tracking your resting heart rate can keep you in tune to your body.

Subjective well-being

Do you feel on top of your day? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you have a strategy for dealing with stress? If not, find one.

Maybe it could be exercise!

Consistency with diet

Are you sticking to your plan? If so, give yourself a check yes! Plan your “cheat” meals. You cannot be 100% ON all the time. Realize that. Don’t judge yourself more harshly than is fair.

Consistency with training

What did you and your coach decide is a realistic frequency of training? Have you stuck with it? If not, why not? Did the goal prove to be unrealistic? If so, change it. If not, is it not a priority for you? If not, why not? What is a higher priority?

Write this down. Introspect. Disconnect from the emotional and objectively evaluate your life for a few minutes. This will help you make logical decision.

Maybe You Shouldn’t Do Yoga, CrossFit, or Squat Deep

tl;dr
Doing any one thing in particular is unnecessary for your goals, no matter what they are. But doing something is necessary for progress.

  1. Find a direction.
  2. Figure out what steps will get you towards there.
  3. Re-evaluate monthly.
  4. Stay the course.
  5. Make every day a win.

Fitness is a bit of an amorphous target. It’s generic. Does it mean cardiovascular fitness? Weight loss? Relative strength? Absolute strength? Weight deadlifted? Flexibility measured? Workout done in x number of minutes?

Is your goal a fitness goal? Or are you just trying out a new training method?

Most people I work with — at least the “regular” people with day jobs — want to be more fit. It would always be nice to be skinnier, stronger, leaner, toner, healthier, smarter, more muscular, more patient, more even-keeled, less anxious, less depressed, less neurotic, less unstable.

But if you want these things, we have to talk about goal setting.

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When to Eat Carbs

tl;dr
Carbs are kind of bad, but not all the time… and not for all people.

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