Get Stronger With These Home Chest Workouts

Chest workouts you can do at home for more strength and muscle

These last couple of months I’ve been doing a lot of home chest workouts to help me maintain or build my upper body pushing strength. It’s been a challenge without weights but I’m confident in the workouts I’ve been doing. In general, my workout routines have changed but my training approach still remains the same. My training has focus is still on activating as much muscle fibers as possible. This is a major key to performing and looking your best. This is

Focus on high muscle contraction and quality conditioning. Focusing on these two training methods are the keys to an athletic and attractive body. A body that can lift, move well, and still look good.

Instead of heavy weights and explosive lifts, I’m doing plyometrics and isometrics. Even my regular bodyweight exercises involve me flexing my muscles as hard as possible while doing them.

Training is a mindset. It doesn’t matter what type of equipment you have. You can still approach your workouts with the same intention as you would when you’re lifting heavy. They say the body follows the mind. When you have the right mindset with the proper training knowledge, things take care of themselves. These are some of my home chest workouts for strength.

Chest Workout #1

This first workout is simple.

  1. Wall Pushes: Wall pushes are a form of overcoming isometrics.They’re a great way to activate a ton of muscle fibers.  With overcoming isometrics, you’ll actually use more muscle fibers than you would with a max effort lift.
  • Six sets of six second wall pushes: I like to use two different joint angles, doing three sets of each. This helps me mimic the two hardest joint angles of the bench press. I rest 1.5 minutes in between each set.

2. High Tension Pushups: These are like regular pushups except that you’re tensing your muscles as hard possible. Each rep is controlled and focusing on maintaining muscle tension.

  • 7- 10 sets of 15. Rest a minute and a half in between each set.

Chest Workout # 2

  1. Standard Pushups: Do 20 pushups to get started.
  2. Plyo Pushups: These are clap pushups without the clap. Lower yourself on a 3 count and once you get to the bottom, push off the ground as hard as possible.
  • 3 sets of 5. Rest 1 minute in between sets.

3.  Triangle Pushups

  • One set of 12

 

4. Max Tension Slow Pushups for one minute: These are tough. The goal is to go slow that it takes you 30 seconds to get to the bottom of the pushup position. After that, it should take you 30 seconds to get to the top of the push up position

  •  Two sets

5. Max Tension Slow Triangle pushups: It’s the same concept as the regular pushups but the only difference is each portion is 20 seconds rather than 30.

6. Decline Pushups: One set of 20.

7. Triangle Incline Pushups: One set of 12.

8. Timed Pushups: Set a timer for three minutes and do as many pushups as possible. Doing high reps will help you build Tendon Strength.

These are the chest and shoulder workouts I’ve been doing since the gyms have closed. I’m confident they can help you maintain or improve your upper body strength. You’ll also build some muscle !

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Tendon Strength

Why you should focus on strengthening your tendons for overall strength.

It’s common knowledge that you need to lift weights in order to gain strength, but what if you don’t have access to weights? What if there’s a global pandemic going on and all the gyms are closed ? Are your strength gains doomed ? I wouldn’t be writing this post if that was the case.

I’m in the same boat as a lot of gym goers who don’t have access to weights. It can be frustrating thinking that the progress you’ve made will go away. This doesn’t have to be the case. Something that’s often overlooked in gaining overall strength is the strength of your tendons. When you lift heavy weights, one thing that happens is your tendons and joints get stronger. This is your brain sending a message to your body that this change is necessary so you can handle that stress again.

It makes sense when you think about it. The stronger your tendons are, the more load your body can handle. As a student of strength I’ve done some research and discovered that a lot of the old school strong guys really focused on their tendon strength. A lot of these guys are known for incredible feats of strength despite not being so big. During this break from the gym, I’ll be focusing a lot on strengthening my tendons to help me to at least maintain my strength.

Exercises That Will Build Tendon Strength

High Rep Bodyweight Exercises: Doing high rep bodyweight exercises is a great way to strengthen your tendons. I’ve used high rep training in the past to help strengthen my knee tendons after suffering an injury. Famous fitness coach Max Shank used high rep squats to recover from a bone bruise caused by a hyper-extended knee.   

Isometrics: Since the day my gym closed, I had the idea of adding isometrics to my training routine. A lot of the old school strongmen I mentioned earlier were big on isometric training. It’s forgotten now because it doesn’t look as cool as moving heavy weight. There are two types of isometrics that I’ll be using; overcoming Isometrics and Extreme Isometrics.

I’ve played around with overcoming isometrics before but I never did it consistently. The idea is to use all the force in your body to move an immovable object. You might ask what’s the point of trying to move something that can’t be moved. The benefit to this type of training is your activating and using a large amount of muscle fiber. You’re applying as much force, if not more than you would for a 1 rep max. I’ve mentioned in the past that the key to maximum strength is applying more force .

In relation to tendon strength, exerting maximum force on an immovable object will place stress on your tendons as well as your muscles. This stress will force your tendons to adapt so it can handle that stress next time. It’s the same concept with how your body adapts to traditional strength training. Fortunately, overcoming isometrics doesn’t compress your joints the way traditional barbell and dumbbell training does.

The other type of isometric training that I’ve been utilizing is extreme isometric lunges. I’ve used these from the to time but now I’m willing to commit to them to reap their full benefits. The idea is to hold a lunge position for up to five minutes on each leg. In addition to stronger knees, you can expect to see an increase in leg muscle size, better nervous system function, and better athletic performance. The most I’ve been able to do is two minutes on each leg. After a week of consistent isometric lunges, I can already feel a difference in the stability of my knees. 

The key to making this work is your mindset towards the exercise. Rather than treating it as an endurance exercise that you need to hold for a certain amount of time, treat it as survival. You need to mentality that you’ll die if you drop in the lunge. This mentality puts extra stress on you. With this stress, your body and nervous system will adapt to make a stronger you.

Plyometrics: the stress put on your tendons through plyometrics forces your body to strengthen them as a result. Just like with weight lifting, you don’t want to overdo plyometrics. I speak from experience when I say doing too much volume on your plyos will lead to joint pain.

One of them best plyometric exercises to improve tendon strength is the depth jump. This is also the most strenuous so do these only when you’re ready. You’ll know you’re ready for depth jumps when you can squat at least double your body weight and learned proper jumping and landing techniques. The reason it’s so powerful is that it causes an impact of up to 3x your body weight on your body. That’s a lot of stress and in order  for you to handle that stress again, your body needs to adapt.

If you want to build strength without weights, focus on strengthening your tendons. By strengthening your tendons and joints, your body will be more equipped to handle heavy weights and other external forces.The interesting thing about the training methods I mentioned in this post is that they’re also know for strengthening the nervous system. There are no excuses. Let’s get to work! Below are some resources I’ve used to help me 

Benefit of High Rep bodyweight exercises:  https://www.t-nation.com/training/8-minutes-to-awesome

What motivated me to try extreme isometrics: https://www.just-fly-sports.com/one-mans-dive-into-extreme-isometrics/

Medical research talking about the muscle activation of isometric exercises: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11717228

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The Grind Continues!

How to adjust now that most gyms in the country are closed

What are we going to do now that the gyms are closed? Unless you have the luxury of a home gym, you’re going to have to make some adjustments. Since fitness is a lifestyle, we gotta continue the grind. It’s time to test the theory that the world is your gym!

I’m going to miss hitting the weights but part of me embraces this challenge. Since you have the fitness mindset , I’m sure you do too. For all you cardio junkies, you won’t have an issue getting in some good cardio outdoors. This post is more for my fellow lifters. Let’s make this work. Let’s approach our new training approach with the mindset that we’re still trying to get stronger.

How To Still Get in Good Workouts

High rep work: High rep bodyweight exercises are very underrated when it comes to strength training. It won’t beat heavy weight training but it definitely has it’s benefits.One of the main ones is stronger joints and tendons. By strengthening your joints and tendons, you’ll be better equipped to handle weights when you get back to lifting. I’ve even heard stories of people having impressive weight lifting numbers just from high rep bodyweight exercises.

Remember Your Movement Patterns: One way to reduce weightlifting rust is to find ways to replicate the movement patterns you already do in the gym. Bodyweight squats for front and back squats. Push-ups for the bench press. Get a broom and practice your deadlift technique. As long as you continue the movement patterns you did in the gym, the transition back won’t be as bad. Don’t be surprised if you make some progress!

Train your fast-twitch muscles: If you’re a strength and power athlete, you can still train your fast twitch muscles with just your body weight. Fast twitch muscle fibers are the ones most responsible for muscle and strength growth. You can train these with plyometric exercises including jumps, sprints, and explosive push-ups.

Yoga: Here’s your chance to give yoga a shot if you haven’t already. Since you’ll still be training hard, yoga will help with workout recovery. It’ll also help you keep your stress levels in check during these challenging times. I reccomend the yoga App, Down Dog.

Be Creative: When you don’t have access to weights, creativity will be big. I recently found some old tires and microwave in my backyard. I know there ways I can use these items for some resistance training. Check your surroundings and see what you can use as a workout tool. 

I’ll continue looking and finding ways to make progress during these challenging times. Weights and equipment are great but everything starts with you. You’re your own source of strength and power. The grind continues!

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The Secret To Elite Workout Recovery!

The post is about my first time in the sauna and why you should add it to your health and fitness routine.

I’ve never thought about using a sauna until recently. I always saw it as nonsense that wouldn’t provide any significant benefit to my health and fitness. It wasn’t until I had a conversation with a fellow lifter that I started to consider.

We were having a small conversation about our respective workouts. As we were talking, he mentions that he’s about to hit the sauna. As I have a curious response, he tells me that it helps him with workout recovery. We talk a little longer and go our separate ways.

Now I start thinking about the sauna. This guy at my gym who has impressive strength says the sauna helps him with workout recovery. Maybe he’s on to something. My mind starts flashing with thoughts. I suddenly remember listening to Joe Rogan talk on his Podcast about how the sauna has helped him physically. I don’t remember the details of what he said but just that it has helped him a lot. I went from curious to attentive. I decide to look up the benefits of the sauna.

What I find propels me to decide to use the sauna. I found all kinds of benefits in my research like the increase of HGH, increased muscle endurance, stress reduction, and better sleep. I even found one page that called the sauna a performance enhancement drug. If sitting in a hot ass room can help me achieve my goals at a faster rate, I have to give it a try.

Sauna Time

The day to use the sauna has arrived ! I do an intense total body workout and head to the locker room to. After a quick shower, I walk towards the sauna room. The moment I open the door, I feel intense heat approaching my face. The room is so hot. My goal is to sit in the sauna for 20 minutes but I have my doubts. I’ve never experienced anything like this! So much heat concentrated in one room. After 5-7 minutes, I start to get a little comfortable with the heat. It’s still extremely hot but my body has adapted. As I keep sitting in the room, I start sweating profusely. I can’t remember the last time I’ve sweated this much and I’m someone who enjoys doing outdoor workouts during the summer.

After 20 minutes of intense heat and sweating, I’m ready to leave the sauna. What I noticed as I was leaving surprised me. The joints that have been aching for the previous week suddenly felt great. They felt like I haven’t been beating them up with heavy weights and intense workouts. Maybe the workout recovery stuff was true about saunas. After I clean myself off and drink a ton of water, I leave the gym.

The next day I feel great! I feel mentally and physically revitalized. I think a big reason is I slept great the night before. I guess sauna use is great for sleep quality. As a result, I have greater excitement for my next workout and for the next time I use the sauna.

Sauna Tips

Drink a lot of water: If you use the sauna, I recommend drinking water before and after using it. You need to replace all the water you lose from sweating in the sauna. I learned this the hard way on my 2nd sauna day. I felt very lightheaded on my second sauna day because I didn’t drink enough water before entering the room. I was so focused on the benefits of the sauna that I ignored the tips and warnings that were shared. Drink more water than you normally would if you’re using the sauna after a workout.

In addition to drinking water, make sure you get electrolytes. I prefer Propel over Gatorade since there’s less sugar. You can also get electrolytes from foods like bananas, spinach; potatoes, and more.

Cold Shower: Take a shower that involves you using cold water at some point. Using the sauna will raise your body temperature so you need to find a way to cool down. This is especially important if you want to enjoy the sleep benefits related to sauna use.I’ve heard many times that it’s easier to sleep when your body temperature is low. You should try to take that shower as soon as possible after using the sauna.

This experience has thought me a valuable lesson about being open-minded. Never shrug anything off until you know what it’s all about. Do some research and if you really want to understand something, try to experience it!

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Pavel’s Philosophies

This post is about how I use Pavel Tsatsouline’s training philosophies in my fitness routine.

As a student of strength, I like to learn from different different strength coaches. One strength coach that has influenced me in recent years is Pavel Tsatsouline. I’ve dipped my toes in one of his programs.

Background

Pavel Tsatsouline is one of the most respected strength coaches. He’s the Chairman of Strongfirst Inc. and has trained athletes and military personnel. I first heard of him when I was listening to the Tim Ferriss Show. Since then I’ve been reading up in his training principles and implementing them in my workouts. I’ll be sharing some the training principles I’ve been using.

Grease The Groove

This principle is about training frequency. The more often you do a movement the better you’ll be at it. This is a big reason why I’m squatting or deadlifting every workout. The more often you do a movement, the better your nervous system will respond to it. A more efficient nervous system, the greater the strength potential.

In this philosophy, the weight you use doesn’t matter that much. The key is just doing the movement. You can use this next time you’re in the gym and resting in between sets. If you see an open power rack or bench, go in and do three light reps. Those three reps won’t strain you but after an hour in the gym, you’ll see that you got in an extra 30 reps of that movement.

Maximize Tension

Pavel also emphasizes maximizing muscle tension especially for the core muscles. He recommends tightening up your muscles even when lifting light weights. This is valuable because it teaches your body how to brace itself when lifting heavy. I take advantage of this training approach when doing my speed work. Not only do I focus on moving the weight as explosive as possible but I also squeeze my core muscles as if I was getting ready to max out. Doing this improves the mind- body connection when lifting.

Pavel also recommends squeezing the barbell or dumbbell you’re using as hard as possible in order to maximize tension. I’ve noticed that this helps engage my entire body during a lift. There’s something special about how you use your hands when lifting. It sends a message to the rest of your body that it’s time to do something serious.

Good Reps Only

This training principle goes around that idea that you should focus on getting quality reps only and avoid struggling with your lifts. Pavel’s philosophy is completely against training to failure when trying to gain strength. I wish I embraced this philosophy earlier in my fitness journey. I’ve failed on lifts before and it sucks.

An example of this training philosophy is if you can 10 reps at a certain weight, do only three instead. I’m someone who enjoys lifting at heavier weights so I use this principle by doing a few less reps than I can. Instead of six reps, I do three. The key is using set and rep ranges you know you’ll be able to successfully complete.

Another benefit of this training principle is it’s good for your lifting longevity and confidence. The more you see yourself succeed in a lift, the more confident you’ll be when adding weight. The only times I deviate from this approach is when I do paused reps or maxing out. Paused squats are meant to be difficult. Even then, I try not to do more than I think I’m capable of.

Pavel Tsatsouline is one of many fitness icons I’ve learned from. For any fitness or life goal you have, I recommend studying the experts in that area.

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Squat or Deadlift Every Workout

As someone who emphasizes total body workouts, I believe in squatting or deadlifting every workout. You can even do both. In my current routine, I’m in the gym three times a week and I’m doing at least one of these two compound lifts. I’ve been following this approach the last two months and I’m pleased with the results.

Reasons To Squat or Deadlift every Workout

Total body benefits– If you want to follow a total body training split, doing squats or deadlifts each workout will make that goal easier. Squats and deadlifts work several muscles from head to toe. There’s a reason they’re both in the discussion for king of all lifts. I often feel satisfied with my workout, knowing that I’ve hit as much muscles as possible.

Increase Strength and Muscle: If you want to get stronger in a lift, then do the lift often. A big reason powerlifters and weightlifters are so strong in their specific lifts is because they do those lifts almost every day. Some of the top performers do them twice a day. I may not be doing as much training frequency as those strength athletes but I believe my routine will allow me to gain strength. I can speak from experience  when I say doing a lift more often will make you better at that lift. I’m currently doing 40 squat reps and 60 deadlift reps every two weeks. My confidence in performing these lifts and my technique have also improved as a result of doing these lifts frequently.

You’ll not only gain strength with this training approach but you’ll also build muscle. In order to maximize muscle growth, you need to hit as much muscle fibers as possible. This is only possible through compound movements like the squat and deadlift. Doing at least one of these lifts three times a week will make it easier for you to gain muscle.

How To Make This Work

The squat and deadlift have great muscle and strength gaining benefits but they have their drawbacks as well. They put a lot of stress on your body and nervous system. The way I handle this challenge is by varying the way I train these lifts each workout.

I don’t go heavy more than once a week. Heavy is 80 % or more of my one rep max. On the days that I’m not going heavy, I’m either doing speed work or just regular light reps. The light reps are usually 20 pounds greater than my body weight.

Another thing that helps is to be aggressive with your recovery. When you train hard, you need to recover hard as well. The obvious methods are diet and sleep. Doing low-intensity yoga workouts, deep tissue work, and deep breathing. You should also rest one or two days in between workouts. Did I mention that cardio helps with muscle recovery?!Once you find an efficient way to do squats or deadlifts each workout, you’ll be pleased with the results.

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Are You Getting Stronger?

This post gives you a guide on how to test your strength progress in the weightroom.

Who doesn’t love to get stronger? Strength is one of the key foundations to fitness. The stronger you are, the more likely you can achieve other goals like muscle gain, fat-loss, athleticism, and overall good health. As someone who values strength, I always wonder if I’m getting stronger.

I bet many fitness lovers can relate to this feeling. Strength progress can be tough to measure because you can gain strength in one lift and stay stagnant on another. This article will focus on exercise specific strength. There are many ways to see if you’ve gotten stronger.

One Rep Max

One of the most common ways to see if you’ve gotten stronger is to test your one rep max. If you could deadlift 300 pounds last week for a one rep max but now you can do 310 pounds for a max, you’ve gotten stronger.

Pros:

  • Lifting heavy weights is fun!
  • It’s easy to find your weak points when doing a one rep max. For example, if you’re struggling at the bottom portion of a squat, you can do pause work. If you’re shoulders are letting you down with your bench press, do more direct shoulder work.
  • Confidence boost. Nothing in the gym gives me a greater sense of confidence than lifting a new max. You just feel powerful when you do something you weren’t previously able to do.

Cons:

  • The biggest problem when maxing out is the injury risk. The weight you try might too much for your body to handle. That’s why it’s important to have a spotter or safety pins when trying out a new max. One way I try to reduce injury risk when maxing out is to use the wave loading approach I learned from Charles Poliquin.
  • Confidence loss. When going for a one rep max, there’s a risk of failing on the lift. When it comes to gaining strength, failing is something you want to avoid.

 

Five Rep Max

This is one of the simplest ways to see how much you’ve progressed in strength. For the purpose of this article, I chose the number five rep max as a measuring tool. You can also different maxes like your three rep, seven rep, etc. Let’s say you can squat 250 pounds for five reps. If you can squat 250 pounds for seven reps two weeks later, you’ve gotten stronger.

Pros:

  • This is one of the the safest approaches to testing your strength because you’re using a weight you’re familiar. It’s easy to see if you can do more reps of weight you’ve used many times.

Cons:

  • This approach isn’t as fun as testing your one rep max unless you’re doing it with your two or three rep max.

Bar Speed

Another way to test strength progress is through bar speed. This approach is best used when you’re doing speed reps. If you can move a certain wait faster than you previously could, you’ve gotten stronger.

The idea is that you’re able to apply more force. The more force you can use in a lift, the more weight you’ll be able to use. You have to use more to move 400 pounds than to move 300 pounds. I learned about this when I started doing compensatory acceleration training (CAT).

Pros:

  • You’re not stressing yourself with a heavy load. When lifting for speed, it’s recommended to use 55-70% of your one rep max
  • Boosts athleticism! Most sports involve explosive movements like jumping and sprinting. If compound lifts like squats and deadlifts transfer well to sports performance, then doing them explosively could have an even greater impact. If you see athletes train in the weightroom, they often focus on doing the lifts in an explosive manner.

Cons:

  • Risk of injury: Speed reps can lead to injury if you’re not careful. Never compromise form in order to move the weight as fast as possible. I also try to keep my foundation as strong as possible through armor building exercises .

 

Increase Your Chances of Getting Stronger:

There are several programs, systems, and training protocols to get stronger. Many of them do work. The simplest advice I can give anyone who wants to get stronger is to focus on compound lifts.Compound lifts like the squat, deadlift, bench press, and chin-up work many muscles at once. These lifts are also the best way to measure your strength because more parts of your body is involved. The bench press is a greater strength evaluator than the tricep extension.

In addition to doing compound lifts, try to get as much muscle contraction as possible through heavier loads or by focusing on speed. Good things come to those with the right habits. How do you normally test your strength?

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Outdoor Leg Workout For The Ages!

This post is great for people without gym memberships and those who want to spice up their fitness routine.

Following the theme from my previous post,I added an outdoor workout to my routine. I’ll be doing this workout every week and I believe it’ll contribute to my Fitness goals of overall strength, athleticism, and health.

My Workout:

My workout was very simple. I found a short and moderately steep hill and did some hill sprints. The purpose of this workout was to build leg power. Since I do leg work at the gym too, I made sure my total volume was low.

Five sets of two hill sprints. I rested two minutes in between each set. After the hill workout, I did isometric lunges for one minute on each leg. I did two sets for each leg with a minute rest in between.

Benefits of This Workout:

Safety: There’s some form of risk with every workout you do. It depends on a number of factors like your mechanics, pre-existing injuries, and how much you recovered from previous workouts. I believe the rewards of this workout outweigh the risk since there’s no external load involved. Also, the sprints you’re doing is on a hill so won’t be moving fast enough to pull your hamstring or put your ligaments at risk.

Fast-Twitch Muscle Fiber Recruitment: By doing hill sprints with an emphasis on speed and power, you’ll be recruiting a lot of fast-twitch muscles. Fast-Twitch muscles are the muscle fibers that produce the greatest muscle growth.

Fast-twitch muscles also make you a better athlete. The explosive movements you see in sports and in the weightroom involve the usage of a lot of fast-twitch muscles. The isometric lunges also recruit fast twitch muscles due to the fact that you have to activate as much muscle fibers as possible so your legs can stay stable. Doing them after hill sprints makes me work that much harder.

Fat-Loss: Every time I’ve had sprints in my training routine, I’ve been my leanest. It makes sense when you think about how hard your body is working to move fast. There’s so much muscles involved in the movement. Now imagine the extra work you have to do to run up a hill as fast as possible. Sprinting is an aerobic workout too. When I did this workout, I was breathing heavily. My heart was moving faster than a stampede of buffalo. The image below is the aftermath of this workout.

Joint Health: This goes hand in hand with the safety aspect of the workout. Safety aside, I believe this workout makes your joints healthier. I’m speaking from experience when I say that hill sprints have helped me improve my joint health.

My ankles and hips have gotten stronger as a result of running hills. When I first started running hills, I experienced soreness in these joints as a result of the intensity of the movement.

The isometric lunge part of the workout also contributes to joint health. In order to hold the lunge position, your joints have to be stabilized. They also build muscle endurance, which is critical for injury prevention. Most injuries happen when the muscles are fatigued.

Closing Thoughts: If you want to get outside of the weightroom and hit your legs a different way, this article is for you. It’s a fun way to mix up your workouts. So remember, Hill Sprints are awesome and the world is your gym!

My Week With Easy Strength

Last week I talked about Easy Strength, one of the most respected strength training programs around. What separates Easy Strength from other strength training programs is that you’ll hardly ever use weight that makes you uncomfortable. My curiosity pushed me to try out the program for at least a week. My initial challenge was choosing the right weights. I didn’t want to choose something too light or I’d feel like I was wasting my time. I also added some moderate cardio after my main workouts.

Day One of Easy Strength

The movements I chose were squats, deadlifts, weighted chin-ups, dumbbell overhead press, and farmers walk. After doing my regular warmup routine, I did the following workout.

Barbell Back Squats: Two sets of five at 205 pounds. I normally do 330 pounds for my working set.

Deadlifts: Two sets of five at 285 pounds. I normally do 405 pounds for my working set.

Weighted Chin-Ups: Two sets of five with a 25 pound plate. I normally do 55 pounds for my working set.

Dumbbell Overhead Press: Two sets of five at 45 pounds. I normally do 60 pounds for my working set.

Farmers Walk: 100 yards with a 105 pound dumbbell.

This workout started off smoothly. I was moving the weights easily and didn’t feel like I really challenged myself. I even started to feel a little guilty until the farmers walks came. The workout called for doing a farmers walk with 105 pounds in each hand for a total of 200 yards. 100 yards down and back. I’ve never used that much weight on my farmer walk and I normally rest longer when doing them. It’s hard to measure 100 yards in a commercial gym so I did my best estimation. Carrying the dumbbells down didn’t feel that bad but taking them back was brutal. I had to stop a few times.

Day Two Of Easy Strength

The main thing that changed in day two is that my grip felt weak. It’s probably because of the Farmer Walks from the night before. I also didn’t sleep well. Despite having a weak grip and feeling tired, I did my workout. Luckily, Easy Strength doesn’t ask you to use too much weight ( except for the Farmer Walks). Maybe I just need to get my grip stronger. Everything felt fairly easy and then Farmer Walks came in. I put my ego to the side and only used 90 pound dumbbells this time.

Day Three of Easy Strength

I felt a lot better in day three thanks to a good night of sleep. My biggest challenge at this point was fighting boredom. I’m not used to doing the same workout on three consecutive days. Luckily the workout allowed me to add some weight after each set. The workout for day 3 followed a 5/3/2 rep and set scheme. The first set I did five reps for the same weight I used in the previous days. The second set I did three reps with a five pound increase in weight. Finally, I did two reps in the third set with another five pound increase in weight. When it came to farmer walks, I used 95 pound dumbbells. Day three went smoothly. The following day was a rest day.

Day Four of Easy Strength

That rest day made a world of difference. When I woke up on day four, I was ready to lift some heavy weight till I remembered the point of the program which was to get stronger without having to strain yourself. The program allows you to slightly increase the weight on this day if you’re feeling it. I guess that was good enough for me.  I went back to doing two sets of five on day four. On that day, I used 10 more pounds from what I started with. I used 95 pound dumbbells for my farmer walks on day four too.

Day Five of Easy Strength

Day five was the same as day four.

Closing Thoughts

After doing a only a week of the program, I can see why it works. By doing so many reps of a movement over time, your nervous system gets comfortable with it. Since strength is a function of the nervous system, this is very beneficial to increasing strength. Doing all those Farmer walks teaches you how to brace your core. Your ability to brace your core is critical when lifting heavy.

I reccomend this program if you don’t mind doing very similar workouts over a long period. Luckily, this program allows you to do different variations of your core lifts as the weeks continue. Easy Strength takes a lot of discipline. The discipline to do almost identical workouts every training day. Also, the discipline to not add too much weight.

I enjoyed this program because it allowed me joints to recover from the pounding of heavy weights. I also had more energy during the week since I wasn’t exerting myself too much. I definitely plan on doing the full program one day.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

Below is a link of the workout template, wrote by Dan John himself:

https://www.t-nation.com/training/40-workout-strength-challenge

 

Deadlifts Forever!

This post is about the deadlift exercise. I talk about the things that have helped my deadlift performance.

The deadlift is the king of all major lifts. The deadlift works every muscle in your body. No other movement takes more to recover from than heavy deadlifts. It’s a lift I take pride in and I’m always trying to improve it. I believe it’s the ultimate test of total body strength.

Why The Deadlift is So Important:

The deadlift is one of the most functional exercises that exists. Not only does it make you strong from head to toe, it also helps with sports performance. Due to the emphasis on powerful hip movement, the deadlift can help an athlete improve their sprint speed and vertical jump.

The deadlift also teaches you how to properly lift things from the ground, assuming you’re using correct form. This will come in handy when you’re helping a friend move their furniture. Deadlifts will also help you improve your posture.

How I Train The Deadlift:

Since the deadlift is so draining, I rarely ever max out. When I do try max out, I make sure to leave feeling like I have a lot left in the tank. The last time I tried a new max, I got 415 but definitely felt like I could do at least 10 more pounds.  Also, I don’t try to push my max since I don’t lift with a belt or use alternate grip. When I deadlift, I train mostly in the 90-92% max range. The percentage is based off the max that I set.

For my main deadlift workouts, I’ve been doing 10 sets of 1 in my working sets. I rest one minute in between each sets. So far I really enjoy this rep scheme because it allows me to have focus on the quality of each rep. The total volume is low enough so I can still lift heavy without draining myself. I also do speed deadlifts on other days.

Exercises To increase The Deadlift:

The best way to increase your deadlift is to deadlift. It’s that simple but there are supporting exercises that help. I like to do exercises that compliment each other. Two things I’m currently doing that are helping my deadlift are speed deadlifts and Farmers Walks.

Speed deadlifts are still deadlifts but they’re worth talking about. Improving the speed of your deadlifts allows you to move the weight easier. I noticed that once I added speed deadlifts to my routine, my heavy days felt easier. This gave me the confidence to increase the weight I was using in my workouts. This all comes down to force. When moving something heavy, you have to apply a lot of force from your body. Once I learned how to produce more force, everything changed.

I’ve also seen how Farmers Walks have helped my deadlift. The most obvious benefit is the grip strength gained from farmers walks. Grip strength makes a huge difference in deadlift performance. It’s hard to lift something that keeps slipping out of your hands.  Aside from grip strength, the farmers walk builds overall body strength especially in the core. This is the perfect complement to the benefits of speed deadlifts because the stronger your core, the more force you can apply.

Deadlift Tips:

Something that has helped me perform better with my deadlifts is stretching my hip flexors. Overtime I’ve learned that stretching your hip flexors allows greater glute activation. This is everything because most of your power comes from your glutes. The more power you can generate the more weight you can move. The hip flexor stretch is the only static stretch I do before lifting.

Another thing that has helped my deadlift performance is squeezing my lats. I’ve notice that the more I engage my lats, the less work my lower back has to do. To take advantage of this, add some lat building exercises to your routine. My Go-to movements are the previously mentioned farmers walk and the weighted chin-up.

Closing Thoughts: Deadlifts are awesome. If you want to maximize your overall strength, you have to deadlift. There are so many types of deadlifts you can do to get stronger. I prefer the conventional method. I hope this post provided some valuable information. Fell free to comment if you want to add anything!

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels