The Basics, Part 4 – Why we do certain set or rep schemes

[This is a series of posts I wrote for novice lifters I coach, but the information here applies to everyone. If you want to start at the beginning, go to Part 1: Recovering From Workouts  and then read Part 2: Why Resting Between Sets Is Important  and Part 3: Exercise Choice-Dave]

As we learned earlier, our bodies respond specifically to the demands imposed upon them. So squatting makes us better at squatting (and more generally gives us more strength we can bring to bear for any similar movement or exertion, such as coming off the line in a football game, “shooting” an opponents legs in wrestling, etc.), benching makes us better benchers, and so forth. Continue reading

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The Basics, Part 3 – Why We Do Certain Exercises And Not Others

[This is a series of posts I wrote for novice lifters I coach, but the information here applies to everyone. If you want to start at the beginning, go to Part 1: Recovering From Workouts  and then read Part 2: Why Resting Between Sets Is Important  -Dave]

I’ll start here by saying that full-body movements are the best things we can do as our major exercises. They are the best because they involve the greatest number of muscle groups, and that means we can get stronger with fewer exercises. They also mimic the ways we are likely to need our strength in the real world. So, we squat instead of leg pressing, as the former involves the legs, hips, back, and even arms, while the latter is mosly just the thighs and (to a lesser extent) calves. Continue reading

The Basics, Part 2 – Why Resting Between Sets Is Important

[This is a series of posts I wrote for novice lifters I coach, but the information here applies to everyone. If you want to start at the beginning, go to Part 1: Recovering From Workouts   -Dave]

 

First off, go read the Energy Systems And You article. It gives you most of the information you’ll need. Go on, go. I’ll wait here.


OK, you’re back. Now that you’ve read that article, you understand that your muscles can only store a finite amount of energy in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate/Creatine Phosphate, and that physical activity depletes that energy. You also understand that replenishing these ATP/CP stores does not happen instantaneously. It takes time. Continue reading

The Basics, Part 1: Recovering From Workouts

“You don’t get stronger from lifting weights. You get stronger from recovering from lifting weights.” – quote attributed variously to a lot of folks (it’s true no matter who said it)

sleep-doge
Recovery is doge’s best friend. And yours.

Lifting weights, and all exercise (or indeed movement of any kind) places a demand on the body, and over time the body will respond in a very particular way to the kinds of demands imposed upon it. This principle was first articulated by biologist Hans Selye in the early and mid twentieth century. He called the phenomenon General Adaptation Syndrome. Continue reading

Compatible Goals

I’ve learned over time that I don’t have to have the same goals as other people in my sport.

I mean, that’s not strictly true;  all powerlifters want to set personal records (PRs). But after that, some folks choose to focus on breaking state/regional records, or winning at a national (or international) meet, while others may focus more on breaking a gym record, learning to coach their friends, or something else.

Likewise, you don’t have to share a goal with your training partner(s) (if you have them). However, your goals and the goals of the folks you train with should be *compatible*, so you aren’t inadvertently working against each other! One person being a powerlifter while the other is a long distance runner will make it hard to train together. 

Legendary strongman Mark Felix and Olympic marathoner Paula Radcliffe don’t have many training goals in common!

Heck, even powerlifters, strongmen, Olympic lifters, and bodybuilders train differently enough that you might have a hard time meeting everyone’s needs in one session.

So take a minute examine your goals, as well as the goals of your training partners and/or people you train. Are they working towards the same general end? If so, that’s awesome. If not, you may need to re-evaluate some or all of the goals each of you has. Strategies for dealing with this goal disconnect might include:

  • Finding the common lifts each of you use, and moving those to the start of your training session so you can do them together, before each going off to do their own thing. This works best with the big lifts (e.g., squats) used by all strength sports; it’ll be harder to do if one of you needs to bench and the other needs to snatch
  • If you don’t have any “big lifts” in common, look to see if there are days where you can “focus” on one training partner over another. This may mean more days, or more time, in the gym, but it’ll also mean you get to not train alone, which many athletes find preferable.

Get those goals aligned, and support each other in your quest for gains!

Work through a checklist in the gym

Every time I go into the gym, I have a list of things I think about and do. The list isn’t long, and some of the items on it are subjective in nature, but those often are the most important items to assess. Inevitably, taking shortcuts on this stuff is where failure creeps into my program. Ignoring my mobility usually leads to injury, for example. Continue reading

Energy Systems and You – A Guide For Athletes

Hellooooo athletes!

Yes, you. You are an athlete. Some of you already have one or more athletic endeavors that you enjoy. Others of you may just have not found (or chosen) your activity yet. That’s how I like to think of every person: an athlete, at least in potentia. So many of us are told that we aren’t athletic, and that we can’t be athletic. Society, friends, authority figures, media – there are lots of people and institutions that try to act as gatekeepers of who gets to be called an athlete. Well, I don’t care. As far as I am concerned, you and I are athletes. Continue reading