Bringing Back Common Sense on Training Frequency

Look at any of the well established lifting schemes and you will notice a common factor. Most train only three days a week. Doggcrapp training (dc training), 5×5, Wendler’s 5/3/1, Westside Barbell, German Volume Training generally all train three days a week. Even my own program I created for myself, Trinity Method, is built on three days a week.  Certainly there are other training styles but I am thinking of the well known and established methods of working out that really I do believe have stood the test of time for effectiveness. Heck, even that football coach from high school who pulled his coaching shorts up WAYYYYY to high would have you lift Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Remember?

Doggcrapp Training uses its base template in 2 sessions plugged into three days.
Session A: chest, shoulders, triceps, back width, back thickness Session B: biceps, forearms, calves, hamstrings, quads
Monday A
Tuesday off
Wednesday B
Thursday off
Friday A
Saturday off
Sunday off
Monday B
Tuesday off
Wednesday A
Thursday off
Friday B
Saturday off
Sunday off

So during this time you are working each session for 3 times in the 2 week span. Eventually
Doggcrapp trainees will have to take some time off. Why? Even though the training days are limited they are training to failure every session. The goal is always to increase the weight or the reps. Your body can only take so much with intensity levels before you start to over-train.

The micro-trauma caused by training leads to an inflammatory response. If the body is not allowed adequate recovery time between workouts, chronic inflammation results, and cytokines involved in inflammation start to act on the CNS causing the various symptoms associated with over-training. These cytokines can also affect the hypothalamus, causing increased cortisol levels. So training programs must be intense enough to improve fitness and skill, yet provide enough rest to ensure adequate recovery.

Wendler’s 5/3/1 scheme is 4 sessions plugged into 3 training days. It is a % based scheme that does not generally warrant training to failure. Wendler suggests that you underestimate your loading percentages by subtracting 10% from your 1RM when calculating weights. He also suggests that on the last set you can do an “all out rep max” lifting that weight as many times as possible. The goal is to get at least the specified number of reps with that weight and anything beyond that can be considered the dividends that your efforts have payed out. Only attempt extra reps on the final heavy set.

One mesocycle lasts 16 workouts, or a little over 5 weeks.
Each mesocycle has 4 microcycles or “waves”.
Wave 1. Warmup, 75%x5, 80%x5, 85%x5
Wave 2. Warmup, 80%x3, 85%x3, 90%x3
Wave 3. Warmup, 75%x5, 85%x3, 95%x1
Wave 4. (deload) – 60%x5, 65%x5, 70%x5

Each wave has 4 workouts: A. Squat + assistance B. Bench press + assistance C. Deadlift + assistance D. Military press + assistance Wendler recommends 3 workouts per week.
Example:
Week 1: A1, B1, C1
Week 2: D1, A2, B2
Week 3: C2, D2, A3
Week 4: B3, C3, D3
Week 5: A4, B4, C4
Week 6: D4, etc. …

Optionally there is a second, less intensive, loading parameter:
Wave 1. Warmup, 65%x5, 75%x5, 85%x5
Wave 2. Warmup, 70%x3, 80%x3, 90%x3
Wave 3. Warmup, 75%x5, 85%x3, 95%x1
Wave 4 (Deload) – 60%x5, 65%x5, 70%x5

The main lifts can be substituted with variations (typically in subsequent mesocycles): Squat – box squat, squat with bands, front squat, etc. Bench press – board press, floor press, incline, etc. Deadlift – rack pulls, deficit DL, etc. Military press – push press, incline press, etc.

Westside Barbell is a scheme that can easily over-train someone because it happens very subtly. The idea is to make the lifter ready for a meet at all times using maximum effort training days along with practicing in lifting gear although not essential for being successful.

As you might guess, Westside Barbell uses 4 sessions but for many in 4 training days. I recommend using the idea like Wendler’s 5/3/1 where you use 4 sessions in 3 training days. This will help the joints in particular which can get very inflamed and sore while limiting over-training.

A. Max Effort Squat + assistance
B. Max Bench press + assistance
C. Speed Day Squat + assistance
D. Speed Day Bench Press + assistance

Example:
Week 1: A1, B1, C1
Week 2: D1, A2, B2
Week 3: C2, D2, A3
Week 4: B3, C3, D3
Week 5: A4, B4, C4
Week 6: D4, etc. …

Max effort bench press includes a variety of exercises, but the most are the floor press, 2 board press, 3 board press, incline press and close grip bench press. On max effort bench press day, you pick one of these exercises and work to a 1RM. Most will switch to a different exercise every 1-2 weeks and simply try to break their record. On this day, based on your 1RM for THAT day, you will try to do 3 lifts at or above 90%. You can take as much rest as you want, but I would probably say around 3-5 minutes between your heaviest sets.

Max Effort Squat and Deadlift is similar to the max effort bench press, one exercise is used per week and worked up to a 1RM.

Dynamic bench press is performed in 8 sets of 3 repetitions; all sets done are done with 55% of raw 1RM. Rest periods are approximately 60 seconds, but have never really seen the purpose of this, personally. The whole goal of speed day is to move the bar quickly on the concentric. If you need to take an extra minute to accomplish the goal of the day, then by all means, do so. Also, don’t get too hung up on changing your grips. The only reason why I changed my grip on this day was to keep track of the number of sets I was doing. Again, remember why you are doing what you are doing.
Dynamic Squat are all sets done on a parallel box. A three week wave is used using the following sets and reps. Once the 3 weeks cycle is finished, start over.

Week 1 – 10×2 @ 50% Week 2 – 10×2 @ 55% Week 3 – 10×2 @ 60%

5×5 training has become very popular over the past few years. Weight training is a quirky thing as many of the popular methods have actually been around for a long time. Originally developed by Reg Park, the 5×5 method involves doing 5 sets of 5 reps, using the same resistance. That’s the goal. However, if you’ve chosen the proper weight, you won’t be able to do 5 sets of 5, at least not right away. Now the problem though is you will over-train very quickly like this if you are doing too many sets of assistance exercises.

Your training sessions again can be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday.
Session 1: Squat Session 2: Bench Press Session 3: Deadlift
Note: You may use other exercises for similar movements. Instead of squats, front squats could be substituted.

Typically, if you’ve chosen the correct weight, the workout might look like this:
Set 1: 5×100
Set 2: 4×100
Set 3: 3×100
Set 4: 3×100
Set 5: 2×100

Remember, the goal of doing 5 sets of 5 reps is a hypothetical goal. If you can do 5 sets of 5 right off the bat, the weight you’ve chosen is too light. The important thing is to be focusing on progression while using 5×5 training. Most likely you can hit the first and possible second set for 5 reps. Also feel free to rest 3 minutes between sets.

This 5 x 5 variation is built for lifters that have good, or above average recovery and can be disciplined with their weight progression and know how to pick weights without going too high and inadvertently training to failure. They also need to be precise when calculating their weight increases that are based off percentages. This 5 x 5 succeeds where other fail.

Note, all these routines are written as “non failure routines” in other words none of the sets are to be taken to positive failure. For the repetition accessory work here is how performance is to be done. I will use an example of triceps push downs for 3 x 10.

After your warm-ups you’re going to pick a weight, and use that same way for all three sets. If it is done perfect here is how it will occur. It would do a set of 10 repetitions. Then rest. Rest periods between sets can be 90 seconds, 2, 3 or 4 minutes. For strength based routines use at least 2 minutes rest on smaller lifts and 3-4 on the big lifts.

You MUST use a stop watch and be consistent with your rest periods. After your rest, using the same weight, you will do another set, this set will be harder then the first but NOT to failure, if you can do more than 10 reps with it DO NOT, we are looking to do the first two sets to add volume, the last set is the only one that will be taken close to failure. Let’s say that on the last set, you get to exactly rep 10 and you know that if you tried another rep you would fail or your form would break down to get the rep, if that is the case it was done perfectly.

Let’s look at what happens if the weight is too heavy. Let’s say you get 10 reps for the first set, 10 for the second. And only 8 for the third. That means the weight was a bit too heavy, no problem you will have still stimulated growth. Do not make your form breakdown or get a spot from your buddy, To make the 10 reps, we are looking to take the last set to one rep short of failure. You should never miss a rep. Now let’s look at what happens if the wait was too light. Let’s say you got 1 x 10, 1 x 10, and then on the last set you get to rep 10 and it is obvious you can do more reps, go ahead and get the additional reps. But once again take the last repetition only to the point where you get all the reps in good form. DO NOT ATTEMPT A REP THAT YOU WILL NOT GET BY EITHER FAILING ON THE REP, OR HAVING FORM BREAK DOWN TO GET IT.

Again, on these routines you will fail if you take all your work sets to failure. On multiple set lifts you should use the same weight for all sets. As an example if you are doing rows for three sets of eight, the first should be relatively easy, the second should be a pretty hard set and a third should be almost a failure but not quite. When you know you going to fail on the last rap don’t attempt it.

Day 1: Chin-Ups – 10 x 3 Incline Dumbbell Curl – 3 x 8 Deadlift – 5 x 5 (After warmups start at 75,80,85,95,100%) Lat-Pulley Ab Crunch – 3 x 10 Leg Press Calf Raise – 3 x 20
Day 2: Rest Day
Day 3: Bench Press – 5 x 5 (After warmups start at 75,80,85,95,100%) Board Bench Press – 2 x 3 Dumbbell Skull Crushers – 3 x 10 Lateral Raise – 5 x 10
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: Bent Row – 5 x 5 (using a static weight, Use 85% of a weight you could get ALL 5 sets of 5 with, and add 5% a week until you are going all out) Squat – 5 x 5 (using a static weight, Use 85% of a weight you could get ALL 5 sets of 5 with, and add 5% a week until you are going all out) Weighted Abs – 3 x 10 Standing Calf Raise – 4 x 15
Day 6: Rest Day
Day 7: Bench Press – 5 x 5 (using a static weight, Use 85% of a weight you could get ALL 5 sets of 5 with, and add 5% a week until you are going all out) Dips – 4 x 5 Military Press – 5 x 10 Lateral Raise – 2 x 10
Day 8: Rest Day
Day 9: Rest Day
Day 10: REPEAT CYCLE

Finally we German Volume Training or the infamous 10×10 training. If ALL you want is 10 lbs of muscle this routine will work, but the size will be transient and likely lost when you discontinue the training. Also indicated for advanced and intermediates. This is a classic routine that was used by weightlifters to bring their body weight up to the next class during the off-season. Charles Poliquin brought it to the bodybuilding world where it has been an unqualified success. This routine is done picking a weight that you can do 20 reps with for 10 reps, using 60-90 second rest periods between
antagonistic body parts. Again, this routine is performed 3 days a week.

Day 1: Hammer Strength Bench Press -10 x 10 Assisted Pull-Up machine – 10 x 10 Incline Dumbbell Fly – 3 x 10 Hammer ISO Row – 3 x 8
Day 2: Rest Day
Day 3: Squat – 10 x 10 Glute/Ham Raise – 3 x 10 Standing Calf Raise – 3 x 15
Day 4: Rest Day
Day 5: Dips – 10 x 10 Hammer Curls – 10 x 10 Upright Row – 10 x 10 Hanging Leg Raises – 3 x 10
Day 6: Rest Day
Day 7: Rest Day
Day 8: REPEAT CYCLE

Doggcrapp training (dc training), 5×5, Wendler’s 5/3/1, Westside Barbell, German Volume Training generally all train three days a week. Hopefully, you can accept that more is not always better. You really don’t have to live in the gym. Many of the creators also encourage taking time off as needed as well. Clearly even 3 days a week over time can be too much. Finally, remember these models are templates so make the principles work for your goals, strengths and weaknesses.

Getting RAW About Squatting

1.       PRACTICE!
Despite what Allen Iverson said, it is imperative to practice your technique! I use the same steps from the lightest warm-up to the heaviest work set when I train. Perfect practice doesmake perfect lifting. It’s critical that you don’t just go through the paces of training each day. Mentally prepare yourself for every single session, set and rep. I appreciate how Louie Simmons encourages lifters to treat their dynamic sets as if they were true max sets in a meet. Do this religiously and half the battle is won as a champion squatter.

2.       CONTROL THE MOVEMENT.
It is clear there is some misunderstanding  about the speed of movement that is witnessed by equipped lifters because of how slow they go. Some people think this it means a raw lifter should be the opposite, with a faster descent. I disagree, but I don’t think you need to make it a five-count negative. I think a nice 3-4 count once the judge gives you the “squat” command works very well. This allows you to stay totally in control of the lift, to better find your depth and have the explosive power to come out of the hole. The faster you go, the harder you have to reverse the momentum. A high-speed “suicide squat” will eventually K.O. your powerlifting career! Somewhere you need to find the speed that works for you to be the most efficient, so be sure to practice.

3.       FIND THE BEST STANCE.
The stance is potentially the most debated part of squatting, period. I have been told that if I spread my feet out really wide I would be unstoppable. Well, that sounds great, but the application just doesn’t work for me. I am very comfortable being a shoulder width stance squatter. I have large quads so it stands to reason that I use effective leverages to be optimal in my lift. Some of the misunderstanding on stance has also been predicated due to equipped lifters that stand extremely wide. Equipment is going to protect the hips to a greater degree than without any, just as it does so for the knees. It makes little sense to copy someone if you are not using the same methods and equipment.  Based on my personal experience and coaching numerous lifters, I recommend that raw squatters use a shoulder width stance to start with along with the toes pointed out around 45 degrees. The recommended starting stance is your base to tweak and adjust during practice to see what is optimal and comfortable.

One great tip for finding the correct stance for your structure is to sit on the end of a flat bench with your feet flat and spread at hip width. Attempt to stand up without leaning forward at all. By doing this, you will quickly find that if your stance is too close you lean forward excessively. Picture that same movement with 400 lbs. on your back and imagine how badly you’ll pitch forward. As you gradually spread your feet and do this over and over, you’ll find the stance where you can easily stand without leaning forward at all – that’s the ideal stance spread for you. Likewise, if you spread your feet extremely wide, you’ll find that you start to lean forward again.

Legs built from lots of squats!

Here are my favorite squatting exercises:
1.       Safety Bar Squats
2.       Pause Squats
3.       Anderson Front Squats
4.       Reverse Band Squats

Despite what others state I think volume is needed for raw lifters to build strength.  I personally like variations like:
Week 1: 3 sets of 10 reps (7-8 RPE)
Weeks 2: 3 sets of 7 reps (7-8 RPE)
Week 3: 3 sets of 5 reps (8 RPE)
Week 4: 3 sets of 3 reps (8-9 RPE)
Week 5: Deload

Now I did leave you hanging a bit about the guess work for the intensity level of the weights to move.  I like using the RPE concept to self-assess where you are THAT DAY in your training.  RPE stands for the rate of perceived exertion.  So basically it means how hard the lift was to complete.

A simple RPE chart would state:
10: Maximal, no reps left in the tank
9: Last rep is tough but still one rep left in the tank
8: Weight is too heavy to maintain fast bar speed but isn’t a struggle; 2–4 reps left
7: Weight moves quickly when maximal force is applied to the weight; “speed weight”
6: Light speed work; moves quickly with moderate force
5: Most warm-up weights
4: Recovery; usually 20 plus rep sets; not hard but intended to flush the muscle

Don’t get so caught up on the numbers of what you lifter while ignoring how you feel.  Let’s face it, some days lifting just stinks!  Just shoot for your RPE range even if it means you dropped some weight to do it.  IF you have consistent workouts of 3 or more of failing with feeling like yourself DELOAD immediately and consider a break.

Once a week focus on one squatting movement while doing simple 3-5 sets of 5 reps as assistance work for another squatting movement.  I might focus my squatting on the safety bar for my main lift while adding in some pause squats for my easier sets of 5.  Obviously power squats and Olympic squats should be utilized regularly as well.

YOU DONT KNOW SQUAT! So read this.

Here are some notes from the squat seminar we had here at RPTS a month ago.

Safety:

Warm ups:  These are a combination of active and direct warm ups.  Active can be cardio, rolling etc.  Direct warm ups are done with the actual lift itself.  Never tire yourself out during warm ups and always use this as assessment time to see how you are feeling.  If things feel heavy maybe go lighter.  Seems like common sense but too many times people are married to the idea of the set numbers.  Flexibility in programming is a precursor to long term success and longevity.

Set up: Bar placement, bracing and the walkout are all part of the set up not excluding feet spacing as well.  Bar placement is the foundation to you success in the squat.  So long as the bar is stable and works with your mechanics that is what matters whether low, middle or high bar placement.  Keep the humerus pulled in tight to keep the upper back engaged along with the rear delts.  This will keep you from rounding as much when in trouble.  Bracing is just learning to take in air in the stomach and lungs and holding to support the spine to a higher degree than the belt alone.  The idea is to push into your belt while sort of crunching down.  Brace when lifting the bar off the rack and before you start your squat.  Walkouts need no explanation beyond what we discussed but please practice them.

Environment: Be aware of your surroundings particularly in a mainstream facility.  Never be afraid to approach people to give you space.  Safety is paramount.

Technique:

Foot placement:  This is partly comfort based but also based on the bar placement and the shoes you wear.  Be aware how these variables impact you as a lifter.  A close stance in heels with a high bar is prone to balance issues for example.

Bar placement: Already mentioned but learn and understand why you use the bar the way you do.  Understand which placement is best for your mechanics.  This is always going to be something that is individual.  Be willing to experiment.

Depth: If not competing find a comfortable range of motion period.  If competing learn to lift every time like on the platform which includes depth on every rep.  Know what is good by feel not others telling you.  The ping effect of the lifter hearing creates tentativeness and is very robotic.  The first sign of an unprepared lifter is bombing out of a meet for depth.

Mobility: Your feet, bar ride and depth are all factors of mobility.  Heels can come up because of high bar position pitching the lifter forward as can tight achilles and hips.  When squatting your descent is based on bending at the hips first.  Lifters than bend at the waist often get stuck being pitched forward and can even “lean into parallel” which is a crap shoot for white lights.

Bar Path: Sitting back is incorrect.  Drop.  Drop it like its hot.  Whatever helps you to understand.  Raw lifters drop but we do stick our butts out.  The bar should really travel in a straight line up and down.  Try some of the apps around to see the difference of a box squat and a regular squat.  Perfect practice makes perfect so consider box squats as a secondary or assistance exercise at best.

Assistance Lifts:

Getting out of the hole: Squat, pause squats, low box squats, high bar close stance, front squats, safety bar squats

Transition out of the hole: parallel box squats, GM squats, suspended GM, safety bar squats, bottom up squats

Lockout: High pin squats, adding chains or bands, reverse band squats

If you are struggling with exercise creativity here are a few to add to your training programming.

Supplemental lifts for the squat:  Pause squat, Pin squat, Front Box Squat, Slow Squat, Front Squat, Wide Front Squat, Anderson Front Squat, Safety Bar Squats, Manta/High Bar Squats

Developmental lifts for the squat: Wall Squats, Zercher Lunge, Front Lunge, Hack Lunge, Duck Foot Squat, Negative Squat, Belt Squat, Lockouts, Squat with Chains, Leg Press, Leg Extension, Ham Curls, Squat Jumps, Depth Jumps, Box Jumps, Calf Raises, Hyperextensions/Weighted in various ways, Seated GM, Reverse Hypers, ABS ABS ABS

Stop and Avoid Muscular Traffic Jams With These Detours

By Stacey Penney, NASM-CPT, CES, PES, FNS

Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release (SMR) stretching technique that has been embraced throughout the fitness industry. This effective and simple to do technique delivers positive, feel good results. Foam rollers have become easily accessible, either shared at the gym or found in almost any sporting goods aisle to bring home for a minimal investment. Using the foam roller can deliver improvements in flexibility, muscle recovery, movement efficiency, inhibiting overactive muscles, and pain reduction with just minutes of application

Why SMR?

SMR can be done with a variety of tools beyond foam rollers, such as medicine balls, handheld rollers or other assistive devices. Foam rollers vary in density, surface structure, and even temperature modifications. Whatever the tool or variation selected, SMR focuses on the neural and fascial systems in the body that can be negatively influenced by poor posture, repetitive motions, or dysfunctional movements (1). These mechanically stressful actions are recognized as an injury by the body, initiating a repair process called the Cumulative Injury Cycle (Figure 1) (1). This cycle follows a path of inflammation, muscle spasm, and the development of soft tissue adhesions that can lead to altered neuromuscular control and muscle imbalance (1-4). The adhesions reduce the elasticity of the soft tissues and can eventually cause a permanent change in the soft tissue structure, referred to as Davis’s Law. SMR focuses on alleviating these adhesions (also known as “trigger points” or “knots”) to restore optimal muscle motion and function (1,5).

SMR is based on the principal of autogenic inhibition. Skeletal muscle tissue contains muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs (GTO), two neural receptors. Muscle spindles are sensory receptors running parallel to muscle fibers, sensitive to a change and rate of muscle lengthening. When stimulated, they will cause a myotatic stretch reflex that causes the muscle to contract. The GTO receptors, located in the musculotendinous junctions, are stimulated by a change and rate of tension, and when they are stimulated will cause the muscle to relax (2). When a change in tension is sustained at an adequate intensity and duration, muscle spindle activity is inhibited causing a decrease in trigger point activity, accompanied by a reduction of pain (1,6-7). In simpler terms, when the pressure of the body against the foam roller is sustained on the trigger point, the GTO will “turn off” the muscle spindle activity allowing the muscle fibers to stretch, unknot, and realign (5).

Davis’s Law: Soft tissue models along lines of stress.

Autogenic Inhibition: The process by which neural impulses that sense tension are greater than the impulses that cause muscles to contract, providing an inhibitory effect to the muscle spindles.

The Benefits of SMR

SMR benefits include:
Correction of muscle imbalances
Muscle relaxation (1,2)
Improved joint range of motion
Improved neuromuscular efficiency (1,3,4)
Reduced soreness and improved tissue recovery (1)
Suppression/reduction of trigger point sensitivity and pain (2,6,7)
Decreased neuromuscular hypertonicity (1)
Provide optimal length-tension relationships
Decrease the overall effects of stress on the human movement system (1)

Guidelines to Start Rolling

Foam rolling should be done before static or dynamic stretching activities, improving the tissue’s ability to lengthen during stretching activities. Foam rolling can also be done as part of the cool-down (1-2). Foam rolling activities should be performed on tissues identified as overactive during the assessment process.

Most clients can enjoy foam rolling on their own once they’ve been instructed on how to properly perform the exercises. Foam rolling is not appropriate for all clients, including those with congestive heart failure, kidney failure, or any organ failure, bleeding disorders, or contagious skin conditions. If clients have medical issues, have them seek the advice of their medical professional before starting SMR or foam rolling activities (1).

Slowly roll the targeted area until the most tender spot is found. Hold on that spot while relaxing the targeted area and discomfort is reduce, between 30 seconds and 90 seconds (1,7). During the exercises it is important to maintain core stability. Use the drawing-in maneuver (pulling the navel in toward the spine) to maintain stability in the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex (1). Take the time to experience the exercises and discover how slightly modifying positions or angles can target different areas of the muscle.

Here are some of the top foam roller exercises to get you and your clients started on a path to moving and feeling better.

Calves (Gastrocnemius/Soleus)

Place foam roller under the mid-calf. Cross the opposite leg over the top of the other to increase pressure. Slowly roll calf area to find the most tender spot. Hold that spot for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Especially beneficial for runners or those who regularly wear shoes with elevated heels (8). Switch legs and repeat.

Adductors

Lie face down and place one thigh, flexed and abducted, over the foam roller. Slowly roll the upper, inner thigh area to find the most tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Switch legs and repeat.

Tensor Fascia Latae (TFL)

Lie on one side with the foam roller just in front of the hip. Cross the top leg over the lower leg, placing that foot on the floor. Slowly roll from the hip joint down toward the knee to find the tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Switch sides and repeat.

Piriformis

Sit on top of the foam roller, positioned on the back of the hip, crossing one foot over the opposite knee. Lean into the hip of the crossed leg. Slowly roll on the posterior hip area to find the tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Repeat on other side.

Latissimus Dorsi

Lie on one side with the arm closest to the ground outstretched with thumb facing upwards. Place the foam roller under the arm in the axillary region. Slowly roll back and forth to find the tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds until the discomfort is reduced. Repeat on other side.

Thoracic Spine

Lie on the floor with the foam roller behind the upper back. Cross arms to opposite shoulders. Raise hips off the floor and slowly roll back and forth to find the tender spot. Hold for 30-90 seconds.

References
Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Corrective Exercise Training, Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2011.
Clark MA, Lucett SL. NASM Essentials of Personal Fitness Training 4th ed. Baltimore, MD:Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2012.
Edgerton VR, Wolf S, Roy RR. Theoretical basis for patterning EMG amplitudes to assess muscle dysfunction. Med Sci Sports Exerc 1996;28(6):744-751.
Janda V. Muscle weakness and inhibition in back pain syndromes. In: Grieve GP (ed). Modern Manual Therpay of the Vertebral Column. New York: Churchill Livingstone, 1986.
Reid DA, McNair PJ. Passive force, angle and stiffness changes after stretching of hamstring muscles. Med Sci Sports Exer 2004;36(11):1944-48.
Hanten WP, Olson SL, Butts NL, Nowicki AL. Effectiveness of a home program of ischemic pressure followed by sustained stretch for treatment of myofascial trigger points. Phys Ther 2000;80:997-1003.
Hou CR, Tsai LC, Cheng KF, Chung KC, Hong CZ. Immediate effects of various therapeutic modalities on cervical myofascial pain and trigger-point sensitivity. Arch Phys Med Rehabil 2002;83: 1406-14.
Grieve R, et al. The immediate effect of soleus trigger point pressure release on restricted ankle joint dorsiflexion: A pilot randomised controlled trial. J Bodyw Mov Ther.2011;15:42-49.

Stacey Penney, Contributing Content Strategist with the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), holds a degree in Athletic Training from San Diego State University, along with credentials in Health Promotion Management and Consulting (UCSD), and Instructional Technology (SDSU). She holds certifications from NASM and ACE in personal training, corrective exercise, sports performance, group exercise, and health coaching. Previous San Diego Fall Prevention Task Force Chair, she develops continuing education curriculum for many fitness organizations in addition to personal training, writing, coaching youth soccer, and pursuing an MS in Exercise Science. – See more at: http://blog.nasm.org/training-benefits/foam-rolling-applying-the-technique-of-self-myofascial-release/#sthash.ORZcOStT.dpuf

SHAKE IT BABY!

Oatmeal Banana Shake:

48.8g Carbs
16.8g Fat
53.1g Protein
545.9 Calories

Oatmeal Cereals, Quaker, dry rolled oats 0.5 cup
Whey protein powder – Chocolate, 100% whey protein 60 grams
Banana 0.5 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long)
Flaxseed oil 1 tbsp
Water
Plain, clean water 1.5 cup
Add everything to a blender with two scoops of flaxseed oil. Replace some of the water with ice for a colder shake. Blend.

Peanut Butter Shake:

356.7 calories

1 shake Creamy peanut butter shake
Creamy peanut butter shake
(scaled to 1 shake)
30 grams Whey protein powder
2 tbsp Light whipping cream
1 tbsp Peanut butter
1 tbsp, whole Flaxseed
Mix the (chocolate) protein powder along with the cream, peanut butter and flaxseed in 350 ml water. Add a few ice cubes. Blend everything in mixer.

Strawberry Shake:

51.4g Carbs
5.6g Fat
39.9g Protein
416.4 Calories

100% whey protein 30 grams
Strawberries Frozen, unsweetened 1 cup
1% milkfat 1 cup
Vanilla extract 1 tsp
Banana 0.5 medium (7″ to 7-7/8″ long)
Plain yogurt Low fat 0.5 cup (8 fl oz)
Add everything to a blender and blend well. Using a plain, vanilla, or strawberry protein powder is ideal.

How to: Adductor and abductor training

Adductor and abductor training, two exercises that are rarely mentioned when it comes to working out. Some people feel that there is just no benefit to these exercises. Others feel that the actual workouts bring unwanted attention from gym spectators. Just as with any exercise, working the inner and outer thigh muscles is a necessary benefit to your training. Whether you agree or disagree with incorporating adductor/abductor training into your routine is your choice but the exercises are still worth taking a second look from a broader perspective before ruling them completely out as being a beneficial source for training.

ADDUCTOR
The adductor muscles are made up of a group of muscles originating on the ischium and pubis bones, ADDUCTOR TRAINING
and inserting on the medial posterior of the femur. When training these muscles, you are actually training the inside of the thigh. In order to train this muscle group by use of the adductor machine, you are simply placing your knees against the outside of the padded area of the adductor equipment, selecting a weight that will create tension, while allowing you to press your knees against the padding, bringing them together from their separated start position. (WATCH INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO) –

ABDUCTOR
The abductor muscles are made up of a group of four muscles located around the buttocks on both sides of the body. The main function of the abductors is to separate the legs from the midline of the body. When training these muscles, you are actually training the outside of the hip/gluteal area. When performing your exercise on the abductor machine, you will place your knees on the inside of the padded area and select a weight that will create tension, and then push your knees outward against the padding, separating them from their start position. (WATCH INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEO) – ABDUCTOR TRAINING

The best way to remember adductor from abductor is to note that adductor begins with knees apart, bringing the knees together, working the inner thigh and abductor begins with knees together and spreading outward which works the outer thigh. Just remember that adductor means to “add” and abductor means to “take away”

When these exercises are done correctly, there is no way that you will not feel the effects of their training. Some people say they’ve performed these exercises but didn’t feel anything nor see the benefit. Well, the only way you will not feel these exercises working your hip area, is if you perform them incorrectly.One of the first things you will need to do is select a weight that is resistent enough for you to not breeze through the movement but comfortable enough for you to perform at least 15 repetitions. There are seating variations to these exercises, as well. For both adductor and abductor, you can create a more intense movement that will be tougher to perform by leaning your body forward. In fact, with the right tension and proper execution of the movements, it should become more and more difficult to complete each set. Sometimes, depending on your body, you may not feel as if you’ve trained your adductor/abductor muscles right away. However, if you do train them correctly, you will know it in at least a day or so because you will definitely feel it.

Men often frown on adductor/abductor exercises for themselves because somehow, many of them come to associate it with femininity. However, these exercises benefit both males and females alike and are great tools to incorporate into your training routine.

The adductor/abductor machines are not miracle workers designed to take away from other training needed to reduce body fat and add definition. These exercises are simply tools you can use in your routines mainly to assist in toning or shaping the thighs and glutes. The single set of exercises alone will not rid your thighs of fat and cause them to become lean. This is perhaps why adductor/abductor exercises don’t get much recognition. People are, for the most part, misinformed about the exercises being this “miracle fat remover”. But just as with any other exercise you perform, losing weight and shaping your body happens through weight training, diet and the consistency of both. The exercises are merely tools that help the changes to occur faster. When various exercises work together over a period of time, that is how the body transforms, not from just one single movement.

The Shame of Starbucks

Who cares about Starbuck’s cups?  Their coffee flat out sucks.  Read on:

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There are two major varieties of coffee beans: arabica and robusta. Robusta coffees are easier and cheaper to grow, but they taste harsher and more bitter. Arabica coffees, from Mocha, to Java, to a dozen other varieties of more costly “gourmet” beans, have a range of subtle and rich flavors. However, there is more to coffee’s taste than the type of bean used. The way the coffee is roasted ultimately determines how it will taste to the drinker.

Coffee is generally either medium roasted, dark roasted, or burned. (“Light roast” properly refers to a special German and Viennese roast that has little currency.) When coffee beans are medium roasted, the full range of their abundant and satisfying flavors is brought out. When coffee beans are dark roasted, they lose much of their subtle flavor but attain a deep richness that some enjoy, for example, in espresso. When coffee beans are burned, their refined flavor is destroyed. What remains is bitter and unpleasant.

Most fine coffee beans should be medium roasted. Junk beans are often burned, because, once you burn the beans, you can no longer tell what sort of quality they might have had if they had been properly roasted. The fact is, all burned beans taste the same: burned and bitter. Starbucks coffee is burned and bitter. You can tell when beans are burned because they take on a black color. We can only assume that Starbucks starts with the worst possible beans. After all, burning better beans is just a waste of money. Unfortunately, through the vagaries of marketing, not only has Starbucks become virtually omnipresent, but nearly every other coffee roaster has jumped on the burned bean bandwagon. That is why, when you visit a shop selling a variety of whole coffee beans, most, if not all, of the beans have been burned black as hell.

Battling Coffees

In the ultimate coffee smackdown, it was yuppie Starbucks vs. Ronald McDonald and the Dunkin’ Kid. And the clown and the kid won!

Consumer Reports magazine said that in a test conducted at two locations of each emporium, its tasters found McDonald’s coffee to be “decent and moderately strong” with “no flaws.” On the other hand, the Starbucks brew “was strong, but burnt and bitter enough to make your eyes water instead of open.” The March, 2007 issue of the magazine, advises, “Try McDonald’s, which was cheapest and best.” Several other more recent blind taste tests have consistently rated Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s as the best tasting and Starbucks as the worst tasting coffee sampled.

So, if you want to find decent arabica coffee that is properly roasted and that therefore boasts subtle and satisfying flavor, you should shun Starbucks and try Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s. And, by the way, blind taste tests, for example, those conducted by Consumer Reports, consistently rate Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s as the best tasting and Starbucks as the worst tasting coffee sampled.

Dunkin’ Donuts: Best Tasting Arabica

To see the valiant efforts of coffee lovers to debunk the myth of Starbucks Coffee, check out The Great Starbucks Coffee Mystery -The Starbucks Free Speech Campaign, a web site in which people who love good coffee explain and discuss the inferiority of the Starbucks product.

In case anybody needs any more proof that Starbucks uses cheap junk robusta beans, you can be sure just because their coffee has twice the caffeine of McDonald’s. The CSPI study showed that Starbucks coffee has 20mg of caffeine per ounce, compared with McDonald’s that has only 8mg per ounce! See http://www.foodbeast.com/news/coffee-visuals/

Thinking Outside The Box Squat

It was summer before 8th grade when our new high school football coach arrived in town.  He had helped coach for a rival team that was a football powerhouse so he naturally was seen as our saviour to revitalize our football program.  Well he barely won any games my entire high school career while he was there but he introduced me to the high school weight room where I had a chance to use real weights while forsaking my old, plastic K-Mart, garage sale, gym I put together.  
The old football strength program “Bigger Faster Stronger” had box squats listed as an exercise to perform way back then I was 14 years old.  The box squatting was a real spine buster as we would sit down to a high bench almost bouncing off to a locked out position.  I could write a series just on bad coaching alone but let me just say we were doing it the way the coaches wanted.  Luckily, my USPF/IPF world champion coach Ernie Fleischer, aka The Iron Sheik, eventually got ahold of me to help improve my lifting along with our new wrestling coach Ron Kauffman.  Ernie also used box squats but a little differently.  When he saw how I did if based on my earlier experience he growled in his deep raspy voice, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?”  Clearly, I wasn’t doing it the way Ernie wanted.  No Ernie had us use a milk crate on its side to coach depth alone.  There was no bouncing.  Just feel pressure and that was the cue to drive the weight back up. His coaching helped me to learn so much and his strict approach to depth and technique made me the lifter I have become in many ways.  If we couldn’t pass the IPF for depth then it wasn’t a good squat to him.  I also might mention this was before the IPF decided that the deepest squat should win as seems to be the current trend with them.  
Living in the midwest and not far from Columbus I was drawn to  read different articles about Westside Barbell and all the amazing numbers they put up.  I went back to using my old milk crate again to work on squatting for my speed days.  I worked on my good mornings and max effort squats.  Equipment was limited so I made due with what I had.  Box squatting in that fashion worked well to add some reps in a different style while working my mobility.  In an Inzer Z suit I managed over 800 weighing 238 years ago.  I attribute that training to a lot of good mornings, varied depth squats and ab work.  I also was very meticulous on training my technique.
Many people have no idea that I lifted in single ply but honestly single ply then was pretty much being able to put on my suit by myself in about 5 minutes.  So it was very different to the material now.  Cost and time is why I was no longer interested in geared lifting.  I also train alone so dealing with a bench shirt by yourself can be an issue.  I love training and to take 20-30 minutes to put on a squat suit just ruined the flow of my workouts for me.  So raw it was and still is; luckily for me raw has really become huge for the masses which I am so thankful for.
While raw powerlifting is growing and here to stay it is funny that as methodologies like Westside/Conjugate are thriving with raw lifters, Westside/Conjugate really is for geared lifters.  All of their influences point to that,  from style of squatting, tricep work and deadlift technique.   I think the good is a lot of back and ab training are emphasized which is fantastic for most lifters because these are neglected areas in powerlifting.  The bad is neglecting areas like the chest, nor is there enough real training for the lifts performed in competition.  The ugly part in my mind is following Westside/Conjugate emphasis of box squatting.  This lift has no mechanical similarity for a raw lifter squatting.  Yes a geared lifter sits back  when he squat but a raw lifter drops.  Sure, raw lifters stick their butts out yet the bar path is almost perpendicular to the floor.  Box squats in my coaching opinion is an assistance movement at best for the raw lifter.   
So why do people follow something if it isn’t optimal for them?  Well that is a larger commentary on just the world in general but in this case I have several thoughts on the matter.  First, even during CrossFit seminars Louie boasts numbers of 1000+ lb squatters and 700+ lb benchers not mentioning that these are also from lifters that are doing multiply which has zero bearing on CrossFit.  Louie isn’t being dishonest but he is being deceptive if only omitting certain aspects of the lifters he is talking about.  Second, the status quo with Westside in the mid 90’s up until now says: do speed work, train triceps like crazy  and wear Chuck’s to lift in.  So people wanting to be part of the genre did that without understanding of what they were doing; so the misinformation spread while becoming more ingrained in the mind of particularly newer lifters.  Bottom line we like to belong.  We like cliques.  Third, in the same way we can throw the baby out with the bathwater we also can go all in because a system has some truth mixed with “lies” so to speak.  Sure increased back training and working on the abs are great.  Using bands and chains can have some great applications for a lifter.  But then things start to get muddy with silliness.  Teaching people to bench with their lats is just stupid.  It is impossible and yet this idea continues to be promoted.  Making people doing box squats all the time is a waste.  And not deadlifting is foolish!  Oh, you didn’t know that did you?  Yes, Westside for a long time didn’t recommend deadlifting because good mornings and dynamic squats were enough along with some other assistance movements.  After guys were squatting a grand and pulling 600 people began to really criticize Westside/Conjugate training.  It is ironic because conjugate is by definition working on your weaknesses so to not have lifters practicing at least the deadlift for a three lift sport is just foolhardy.  So many coaches using Westside/Conjugate ideas now have morphed training into something different from what Westside was years ago.  Is that bad?  Not at all because we should continue to learn and grow but when someone is so ardent in their position then suddenly does a 180,  it gives pause that maybe just maybe that person doesn’t have as many of the answers as he claims.
Let me say that I have no beef with Westside/Conjugate.  I practice the true definition of conjugate with my own clients as any good coach should.  I chose Westside/Conjugate because I want lifters challenged to understand what and why they do what they do.  It is just that simple.  Many raw lifters need to educate themselves, question methods and understand approaches.  They need to start thinking outside the box squat.