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Written on June 14, 2013 at 5:03 am, by Eric Cressey
Thanks to CP coach Greg Robins, here are this week's list of tips to help out your nutrition and strength and conditioning programs.
1. Make sure you're using an appropriate set-up for chops and lifts.
2. Consider using “strongman” events for assistance lifts.
To be clear: what I am about to say is not the only time strongman training is beneficial. Furthermore, it’s hard to pigeonhole something into a token term like this to begin in the first place. The traditional strongman lifts, such as the farmer’s carry, hand-over-hand rope pull, and sled towing, pushing, and dragging are exercises from which a TON of people can benefit.
There is one class of individuals for whom these lifts can be especially useful. For lack of a better term, I just call these people “timid.” I don’t use the term negatively, nor do I intend to degrade these folks. The simple truth is that they’re a common example of a great strength conversely serving as a great weakness.
These athletes, or gym goers, are often the “hard gainers” who also tend to be a bit overly analytical. The best medicine for them is a heavy dose of big compound movements. Unfortunately, they are also somewhat predisposed to overthinking every rep and every increase in weight. This provides the obvious problem of stagnancy, thwarting any efforts to enforce a constant theme of progressive overload to get strong.
Enter the “strongman” lifts. The beauty here is in their simplicity, as well as their somewhat self-limiting properties. After our less aggressive individual finishes his or her main lift(s) for the day (they should still be doing them, albeit at a snails pace of progression), consider basing a good chunk of their assistance work around these staples. Having them push, drag, and tow a heavy sled leaves little room for thinking, and a lot of room for doing and character building. Furthermore, carrying weight has a similar advantage. Once it’s in hand there’s only one thing to do: GO!
If you or one of your athletes, fits the bill give these more of your attention. The gains you make in size and strength will be very noticeable. Plus, the mental fortitude these movements build will carry over into the rest of your workouts, and time on the field. As with any exercise, evaluate individuals ahead of time to make sure these lifts fit the person in question.
3. Give your chocolate protein shakes an overhaul.
Chocolate protein powder is a staple. If you’re trying a new brand, you always choose chocolate. If you’ve taken a tour of every exotic flavor, you always return to the old standby. Sure, vanilla is solid, but sometimes even vanilla has a shady aftertaste, depending on the brand. Chocolate is the safe choice, time and time gain.
Maybe though, even chocolate is becoming a bit stale. Another, peanut butter chocolate concoction is already turning your stomach, and chocolate banana was cast away as a viable option a few months ago. Sounds to me like you need a whole new taste to blow your mind, and make protein shakes a frothy delight once again.
Next time you’re at the market pick up some peppermint extract. If you like mint chocolate chip ice cream or York peppermint patties, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you will likely rejoice in utter chocolate mint ecstasy. Simply add a drop of this elixir to your protein shakes and see for yourself.
NOTE: I wouldn’t use the bananas with this one either…
Here’s a quick recipe:
8oz Water, Milk, or Almond Milk
4. Try forward lunges to a step.
5. Try ascending tri-sets for muscle gains.
I’ve somehow found myself coaching quite a few figure competitors over the last few years. It’s not something I write, or even talk about much, but I am fortunate that they have had a great amount of success. It’s a pretty good gig actually. Basically, it involves being handed the best clients in the world. They are extremely focused, and will do everything you tell them – and to a “T.” The credit belongs to them, though (and not me), so I just choose to let them do the talking.
I will share one strategy I use with them as we enter a more “hypertrophy” based focus in their training. This is also a time when we might be honing in on a certain area, trying to accentuate a body part or bring up a weak point. I call these ascending tri-sets, because that’s what they are (I’m still working on some catchy name). It basically involves moving from a big compound movement, to a more bodyweight style, or larger isolated movement, and finishing with a smaller isolated movement. The reps ascend from low to high, and each exercise targets the same general area.
You can get creative and make up a few examples yourself, but here are a few staples:
A1. Alternating Dumbbell Bench Press x 5/side
A1. Barbell Romanian Deadlift x 6
If you have a weak point to bring up, or are just looking to mix up your routine, come up with a few yourself and give them a try
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