Three Things I Learned From Strength Coach Charles Poliquin

This post is about some valuable knowledge I gained from Strength Coach Charles Polinquin

This article is in honor of Strength Training legend Charles Poliquin. Poliquin died last September after decades of contribution to the fitness industry. Poliquin was one of the most well known and respected strength coaches. He trained olympic athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters. He was extremely knowledgeable in fitness and I learned a lot from him and his team. I might not have progressed as much as I have if it wasn’t for him.

Sprint Workouts Are Not All Built The Same

I learned that not all sprint workouts were built the same. In the early days of my fitness journey, I knew that sprints were a great exercise to do. They burn fat, build muscle, and increase athleticism. I used to just sprint thinking that was enough to get all these benefits. I’m sure the sprints I did helped me make improvements int these areas but I wasn’t aware that different sprint workouts emphasized different areas of fitness. One day I stumbled upon an old sprint workout article on one of Poliquin’s websites. I saw different ways to sprint to maximize certain goals.

I’ve shared some of these goal specific sprint workouts in previous posts. These workouts have helped me when focusing on different aspects of fitness. I learned how to sprint specifically for athletic performance, fat loss, and muscle gain. Knowledge is power.

 

Different Strength Building Rep and Set Schemes

The great Charles Poliquin thought me different strength building methods that have helped me tremendously.  When I started focusing on strength, I just focused on the regular progressive overload approach. This approach works but sometimes you have to mix things up, especially if progress starts stalling. One of them is Cluster Sets. I mentioned cluster sets before but it’s worth repeating. Cluster sets are sets within a set.

An example is if you’re comfortable doing three reps per set for an exercise. Instead of doing all three reps continuously, you’ll stop at two reps rest for 20 seconds and do another rep. By taking short rests during each set, you’ll find yourself being able to do more reps per set and more reps overall.

Another strength building protocol I learned from him is wave loading. I’ve used wave loading. Wave loading is a way to help you work up to a new max. I use wave loading whenever I want to test a new max.

1st Wave:

  • 3 reps at 90% of one rep max
  • Three minute rest
  • Two reps at 95% of one rep max
  • Three minute rest
  • One rep at 98% of one rep max
  • Three minute rest

2nd Wave:

  • Same number of reps and rest time, the only difference is you’ll add five pounds to each set.

3rd Wave, if you have enough left in the tank:

  • Same as second wave but with another five pound increase in weights.

Earn Your Carbs

The idea behind earn your carbs is you should only be eating carbs on days you do challenging workouts. Since carbs are used for energy, there’s no point in eating a bunch of carbs if you’re sitting on the couch all day. You don’t need energy to watch TV. This idea focuses mainly on simple carbs like rice, pasta, and bread. since they’re the ones that contribute mostly to fat loss. You can still get carbs from fruit and beans.

This is one of the simplest pieces of advice for anyone trying to lose fat.I try to follow this principle as best as I can but I love eating carbs. I’m not perfect.

Closing Thoughts

As a student of strength, I’m truly grateful for the knowledge that Charles Poliquin has shared. I’ve made great progress in my fitness journey thanks to him. He’ll always be a legend in the fitness world.

Below are links from two of his main sites.

https://www.strengthsensei.com

https://www.poliquingroup.com

Total Body Workout For 2/21/19

I’m sharing the total body workout I’ll be doing tomorrow. This will be part of my current routine.

Fitness is an experiment. You try different things to see how your body responds. You can mix your sets and reps or follow a new workout program. Tomorrow I’ll be doing a workout I’ve never done before. I’ve done all the exercises that will be mentioned but never in one workout. This workout follows the trend I’m going in my fitness.

I’m currently doing a total body workout split. I prefer this method because it let’s me get more work done in less days. I also prefer total body workouts over bodyweight splits because I feel less soreness the following days. The only drawback is total body workouts affect your energy levels more. Different things work for different people but so far this approach has been working for me.

The goal of my workouts is to hit as many muscle groups as possible while also activating a lot of muscle fibers. I talked about the benefits of activating a lot of muscle fibers in my previous post How To Build An Impressive Body .

The Workout

Below is the workout I’ll be doing.

Dynamic Warmup

Dumbbell Overhead Press: 5 sets of 3 with 3 minute rest in between. I’ll be using 85% of my one rep max. I’ve been doing more overhead presses because I feel like my shoulders have been a weak point. Dumbbells allow me to work each shoulder equally.

Squats: 60% of my 1 rep max. I’ll do 5 sets of 3 with 1 minute rest in between. I’ll be using the Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT) method Use CAT For Strength Gainz.

Farmers Walk: I’ll carry two 90 pound dumbbells for 45 seconds and rest 2 minutes in between sets. It’s hard to do a one rep max percentage for farmer’s walks but you should aim for at least your body weight for the total weight you’ll be carrying. I’ll do 3 rounds of this.

Jump rope for 5 consecutive minutes. I’ll be switching from a steady to a fast pace throughout.

I’ll finish off with some static stretches.

What I like about this workout is that my body won’t be bored. I’ll be working almost every muscle in my body in different ways. This workout has strength, speed, and conditioning in it. If it sounds interesting, give it a try and see how your body responds to it.

Photo on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a>

Do A Workout That Scares You!

This post is about why you should do a workout that scares you from time to time.

Remember the satisfaction you felt after doing something that scared you or made you nervous? It’s one of the best feelings you can have. As a fitness lover, I believe it’s important to do workouts that scare you a little.Not only will it spice up your routine and help you with your fitness goals but it’ll also make you a better person.

In our day to day lives, we don’t always get the opportunity to do something scary. With work, family, and friends , it doesn’t really come to mind. I’ve always heard how moving beyond your comfort zone will make you grow as a person. One way to move out of your comfort zone is to do a workout that scares you.

Fitness Benefits: It’s pretty obvious that doing a challenging workout will help you achieve better results with your fitness through the stress it puts on your body. There’s a mental side to this too. By doing and finishing a workout that initially scared you, you build up the confidence to do other ” scary “workouts. The more often you challenge yourself, the further along you’ll be in achieving your fitness goals.

Doing a workout that scares you will also revitalize your love for fitness. Excitement and anxiety are very similar emotions. You’re more likely to be into a workout that excites you. Personally, the idea of doing heavy deadlifts excites me more than doing wrist curls. Maybe it’s the level of danger involved that raises my excitement levels.

The main fitness benefit to doing a workout that scares you is mental. Nothing will build mental toughness like doing something that scares you. In order to have any great achievement you’ll need to be mentally tough. You don’t need to become a world class athlete but being mentally tough will help you achieve any goal faster.

Mental toughness has been a key factor in the achievement of many fitness goals such as running a marathon and squatting 600 pounds. Don’t be surprised if you start setting big goals as a result of doing ” scary ” workouts.

Things To Consider: One thing that’s important is to make sure the workout contributes to your goal. Don’t do a workout just because it sounds hard. If there’s no benefit to the workout, the level of satisfaction won’t be as high as if you did a challenging workout that moves you closer to your goal. Also, use common sense. It wouldn’t be smart to do a high volume leg workout if you sprained your knee the week before.

Another thing is to make sure you have good form before trying to go heavy or do a large amount of volume on an exercise.There’s a difference between challenging yourself and being reckless.

Closing Thoughts: If you’re looking to spice up your fitness technique or build the type of mentality that will help you achieve great things in your life and fitness, do a workout that scares you. At the very least, you’ll feel a sense of thrill. At best, you’ll realize the only thing holding you back is the limitations you place in your mind.

Photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/149902454@N08/35493040080/”>Witches Falls Cotages</a> on <a href=”https://bestrunningshoes.com/”>Best Running</a> / <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”&gt; CC BY</a>

Assault on The Squat pt.2

This article is about what I did to boost my squat performance

(Long Read)

In a previous post I mentioned my plan to boost my squat performance.My 1 rep max was 355 pounds before I implemented my plan. It’s time to share how it went.

The two main methods I used to make an improvement were paused squats and CAT squats.

Workouts:

During this training phase, I kept my normal routine but made some adjustments help my goal of getting a stronger squat.One change was squatting twice a week every other week. The week in between I’d do a heavy deadlift day and a light squat day. My light squat days were focused on explosiveness.

Paused Squat Workout:

In my main squat workout, I focused primarily on paused squats. Below is the workout I’d did.

1. Paused Squats- 315 pounds, 6 sets of 2 with 4 second paused. I chose this weight because it’s a weight I’m mentally and physically comfortable moving. Also, it’s heavy enough to make my muscles work harder after a 4 second pause. I’d rest 2 minutes in between sets.

2. Bulgarian Split-Squats: 3 sets of 3 with 90 pound dumbbells.I followed the paused back squats with Bulgarian split squats to target my legs more directly.

3. Cardio: I usually finished the workouts off with 5-7 minutes of jump roping.

CAT Squat Workout:

On my speed focused squat days, I used Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT) squats. I read that CAT squats should be done with 55-65% of your 1 rep max so I chose 215 pounds as my working set. I aimed for 6 sets of 3 so each of my reps were as explosive as possible. Sometimes I’d get carried away and do more sets. Moving explosively is fun. I did this workout the same days I bench-pressed. I did this workout every week.

Core Work: I also did some direct core work. I used to do these but for some reason I stopped doing it for months. I chose alternating leg raises as my core work. The key to making the most of this is bracing your core as if you’re about to get punched really hard in the stomach. This move builds core coordination, allowing all your core muscles to fire as one unit when performing a heavy lift.

Progression:

During the period of using this approach, I was getting more comfortable with my squat. My speed on the cat squats improves drastically so I moved up to 225 pounds. I also got in a groove with my paused squats. I went from being relieved to be done with 6 sets to wanting to stay at the squat rack all day. I knew this was a good time to test my one rep max.

Outcome:

After 5 weeks of using this approach, it was time to test my squatting strength. Below is the workout I used to test my squat. I rested 4 minutes in between each set.

3 reps at 330 pounds

2 reps at 340 pounds

1 rep at 355 pounds

3 reps at 335 pounds

2 reps at 345 pounds

Now it’s time to test my max. I went for 360 pounds. 360 went up smoothly and I felt good enough to go for more. After a 4 minute break, I went for 365. 365 felt so easy. I didn’t strain at all. After another 4 minute break, I was ready for 370. I went for 370 but I got stuck halfway through the lift and my spotter helped me finish.

After 5 weeks, I gained 10 pounds on my squat. I think I could’ve gotten 370 if I didn’t run out of gas.The previous sets felt easy but the nervous system can be tricky. I’m also happy that I at least got past the bottom position on the missed reps. I think the paused squats are a big reason for that.

Learning Points:

Paused squats are great for getting past sticking points.

The key to improving lifting performance is applying more force to a lift. You need to apply more than 400 pounds of force to move a 400 pound weight.

CAT squats will teach you how to apply more force when squatting.

Paused squats help your deadlift performance because it teaches you to unleash great force from a dead stop position. Paused squats also causes major glute activation

What’s Next?

I plan on continuing this approach to boost my squat. I’m a big believer in these two strength building methods. Pausing at the bottom of your squat takes away the momentum factor that plays into regular squats. It also gives you better awareness of your squat depth so you don’t cheat any reps.

CAT squats obviously boosts squatting speed but it’s known as a great way to boost strength as well. The purpose of CAT squats is to apply the type of force you’d do for a heavy weight into a light weight. The more force you put into a weight, the more likely you’ll be able to move it. This training method was created by a man named Fred Hatfield aka Dr. Squat. I’ll take squatting advice from a man named Dr. Squat any day. The journey continues!

Why You Should Lift Heavy When Trying To Lose Fat

This post is about the best way to lift weights when trying to lose fat

When it comes to fat loss, the most important thing is your diet. If you have a terrible diet you’re not going to lose much fat unless you have amazing genetics. Another thing that comes to people’s minds when trying to lose fat is cardio. Cardio definitely has its place in a fat loss program but people often neglect weightlifting.

Weightlifting can be your best friend when you’re trying to burn fat. The key is doing it correctly. I believe doing heavy ( 80-95% of 1 rep max) compound lifts helps a lot with fat loss. Personally, I’ve looked my best when I focused on lifting heavy. I think it’s because lifting heavy activates a ton of muscle fibers.

Logically it makes sense to lift in a way that makes your muscles work harder when trying to burn fat. I never understood why some think doing high repetitions is the way to go. My opinion that heavy lifting is the best approach comes from the same train of thought that sprints are better than jogging for fat loss. Intensity wins when it comes to transforming your body.

Alternative To Heavy Lifting: Outside of lifting heavy, the best way to lift when trying to lose fat is explosively. Explosive movements force your muscles to work hard. Your body is also forced to activate many muscle fibers in order to move explosively.

Training like this is the reason I’ve been able to stay lean for the longest time. In addition to boosting fat loss, who doesn’t want to be strong and explosive? Lifting like this solves the problem for those who want to lose fat while keeping or gaining muscle.

Assault on The Squat!

This article is about strategies I’m using to strengthen my back squat

I’m obsessed with the back squat exercise.There’s something about this movement that makes me want more. Maybe it’s because the back squat was one of the first movements I’ve done in the weight room. I squatted before I ever benched or deadlifted. The joy I feel for an improved back squat surpasses that of any other lift.

The back squats is an awesome movement that hits nearly every muscle in your body and has a positive effect on testosterone and HGH production. It’s also an empowering movement because you’re overcoming the force of gravity to move something that’s meant to keep you down.

My current one rep max is 355 lbs but I’m determined to increase it. I’m using the high bar method for my back squat which means putting the bar on top of my traps. I’ve been told switching to the low bar stance will help me move more weight but I’m determined to see how far I can get with the high bar method.

Even though there’s many exercises that will help you boost your squat, the best way to improve your squat is to squat. Depending on your fitness needs, you can modify lifts in your favor.

Plan of Attack:

One of the best ways to get better at something is to attack your weaknesses and see how it can become a strength. With the back squat, two things I have to work on is bar speed and just getting out of the hole ( the bottom position of the squat). I’m using two squatting methods to attack these weak points.

Bar Speed: To improve my speed in the squat movement, I’ve been using Compensatory Acceleration Training (CAT) squats. This method involves setting up the barbell at 55-60% of your one rep max. In this method, the lowering portion of the squat is done in a controlled manner. The concentric/ rising part of the squat is done as explosively as possible. Imagine yourself as a rocket being launched when rising in the squat.By trying to move as explosively as possible, you’re teaching your body to contract/ activate your muscle fibers quickly. The faster your muscle fibers activate, the more explosive your movement will be. Increasing my squat speed means I feel less strain in the movement.

Getting out of The Hole: The hardest part of the squat is the bottom position. If you can increase improve your ability to get past the bottom of your squat, the easier the lift will be. In order to get more comfortable at the bottom of the squat, I’ll be doing a lot of pause squats. Pause squats also teach you how to brace your core through out the lift. It also forces you to rely on pure strength rather than momentum. Paused squats have helped me in the past so I’m confident it’ll help me again.

To Be Continued….

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