Improve your WN8 by Squatting Everyday

This is the program I used for the past month or so to add 30kg to my Squat 1RM!

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Squat to 2RM Full body band workout at least 3 hours before workout Squat to 2RM Full body band workout at least 3 hours before workout Squat to 2RM Full body band workout at least 3 hours before workout Full body band workout
Bench press to 1RM Front squat to 1RM Speed bench press to 3RM Speed deadlift to 3RM Volume bench to 5RM Squat to 2RM
If fail, add reverse bands and try again Deadlift to 2RM 10 mins conditioning Conditioning Volume deadlift to 5RM
10 mins conditioning If fail, put weight on blocks and increase weight Military press to 80% +5% every week

As you can see I am squatting 6 times per week, which is no easy task! My number 1 priority was recovery and stretching, and I can confidently say that as a result of this program, I am way more flexible than I used to be. I usually stretched for 20 minutes before and after squatting, as well as utilising various dynamic exercises to prepare myself for squats. I warmed up using 5 reps on lighter weights, 3 reps on moderate weights, until I got to heavy weights and just went for a new 2RM everyday.

I chose to go for a 2RM instead of a 1RM everyday because it put less strain on the body and I could go by feel better. For example, if the first rep was very difficult, I could decide to not go for the second and instead drop the weight. I believe this helped me prevent injury.

In terms of the full body band workout that I used as hypertrophy and to aid in recovery, you can find details here.

My conditioning consisted of an intense 10 minutes that had me close to vomiting using a variety of templates that I gathered from this video by Brian Alsruhe.

I started this program with a 150kg squat, and I recently hit a 180kg one rep max. Squatting everyday works! Try it for yourself.

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Heavily Armoured Shoulder Workout Video!

Check out our brand new workout available now on Matt’s channel!
Let us know if this is a format that you would like to see more of, this was very fun to make so we are keen to see how you guys like it.

A Case for the Rack Pull

I originally found out about rack pulls when I watched Eric Bugenhagen pulling a crazy amount of weight (~500kg) and screaming to the tune of heavy metal music and was inspired to incorporate them into my training.

In essence, a rack pull is the top part of the deadlift, and involves placing the barbell on top of the safety bars in a rack and pulling it until lockout. There are a variety of different ways this can be performed, and obviously the higher you place the safety bars, the less range of motion you can do, therefore the more weight you can load.

Below you can see me performing an “above the knee” rack pull.

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300 kg rack pull with ~6 cm range of motion

There are quite a few proponents of heavy rack pulls in the fitness community, namely Eric Bugenhagen, as well as AlphaDestiny who provides excellent bodybuilding and powerlifting information supported with proven sports science and the owner of “Naturally Enhanced”, a program that seeks to give natural lifters an “enhanced” look by focusing on building huge traps, neck, and glutes.

Safety

Since this movement requires very heavy weight, grip strength will be a limiting factor. I highly recommend using straps for this exercise so that you are able to hold at the top for longer, and don’t rip your hands to shreds.

This movement involves a slight hinge movement in the hips which has a tendency to place pressure on the spine. I recommend using a powerlifting belt as well as proper breathing and bracing techniques covered in my Deadlift Exercise Spotlight.

Use appropriate footwear, such as flat sole deadlifting shoes when performing this exercise to provide proper stability and a solid foundation for your entire body. Running shoes with spongy soles are probably not a good idea.

Benefits

The rack pull places a very heavy load on the upper back and as a result is a great way to strengthen your tendons and ligaments and overload your central nervous system. This will however, not improve your strength off the floor, so for a deadlift accessory exercise it is not that useful.

The rack pull above the knee has been referred to as “one of the best trap builders of all time” because it builds the upper back and traps through hard stretching and isometric contraction. Just holding a heavy weight in an upright position will be enough to tear muscle fibres in the traps and upper back and this is proven because heavy deadlifts and farmers walks are shown to increase hypertrophy in the traps and why? Because of the hard stretch and isometric contraction at the top of the movement. Now imagine taking a weight far exceeding your max deadlift and doing the same thing!

I greatly encourage you to try out this exercise and see how sore your traps are the next day.

Full Body Band Workout!

Image courtesy of www.rogueaustralia.com

We have been receiving questions regarding how to work out while travelling or if you don’t have access to a gym! So I have put together an extremely high rep full body band hypertrophy workout which will get the blood flowing, and only takes about 5-10 minutes to complete! I highly recommend purchasing bands from Rogue Fitness, we are not sponsored but they provide extremely high quality products. Here is the full workout:

Perform the following with a mid weight band:

For my workout I used a blue Rogue Monster Band.

50 x Leg Extension

50 x Leg Curl

30 x Face Pull

30 x Bicep Curl

30 x Seated rows each arm

30 x Seated flies each arm

50 x Good Morning

30 x Overhead press each arm

Perform the following with a heavy band:

For my workout I used a green Rogue Monster Band.

50 x Calf Raises

30 x Ab Crunches

30 x Triceps Skullcrushers

Remember to experiment with band resistances to find which work best for you. The good thing about bands is that their resistance can be fine-tuned just by changing where you grip it, or changing the way it is attached to the bar or whatever you are using to leverage it.

Do all this without a break and I guarantee you will be feeling it, this is 410 total reps! Now there is no excuse for not having access to a gym!

Coming Soon: A video of this workout, as well as a guide to set up the resistance bands for each exercise.

 

Exercise Spotlight: Deadlift

The deadlift is a full body compound movement that involves lifting a bar off the floor, then putting it back down. It is a bit more complex than this but that is the general premise. The are many variations of the deadlift that have a huge variety of benefits, but this spotlight will be covering the traditional deadlift since this is the one that I perform most often and therefore have more experience doing. We will be exploring the 3 main stages of the lift, as well as what stretches and exercises are best to prepare for the lift, and why it is considered a primary staple exercise in every training program.

Warming Up

It is important to remember that without a sufficient warm up, you will be setting yourself up for injury. If you don’t set up your spine properly, and don’t have enough tension around it you can seriously hurt yourself which is why breathing and bracing is very important and will be discussed soon. The hip joints also need to be prepared so that they can get into the correct positions to generate the explosiveness required to lift heavy weights off the ground.

Stretches

The main areas to focus on when stretching to recover from deadlifts are the hamstrings, lower back, hip flexors, glutes, and upper back. I also recommend performing these stretches only when warmed up, as well as post workout.

The below stretch works really well for me to help stretch out my lower back and glutes, just ensure that you are breathing slowly and when you exhale, push your leg harder to increase the stretch. Also make sure that your shoulder of the arm that is not being used is maintaining contact with the ground.

stretch4_lowerback_hip_hamstring

The stretch below is an upper back stretch that is useful for post workout recovery by reducing tension in your lats and rhomboids that may have accumulated during deadlifting.

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Mobility

I recommend performing static stretches post workout or when warmed up, but dynamic stretches can be performed any time and also help prepare for the movement.

Hanging from a bar, lifting your knees to 90 degrees and moving them from side to side helps warm up your core, hips, as well as decompresses your spine.

Eric Bugenhagen, a very intense and very strong lifter has an excellent video in which he goes through a general mobility drill that he uses to get ready for squats and deadlifts. It is important to note that he is an advocate of the ‘Bulgarian Lite’ method which involves performing the same exercise every day, at maximal intensity, so for him warming up and recovery are number 1 priority. I highly recommend his channel for intensity and motivation.

Mobility Drill

Breathing and Bracing

Breathing is very important because a stomach full of air provides a lot more support for your spine throughout the movement. Also you read that correctly, you need to be breathing into your stomach, also known as diaphragmatic breathing. If your chest is rising when you breath, you are doing it wrong. This provides 360 degrees of tension in your midsection which is ideal for your spine.

The steps to follow to ensure you are breathing correctly and in the right timing is to, when set up in the starting position, breath out until you have no air left, then take one big breath into your stomach, and as soon as you can’t take any more air lift the weight, while holding your breath. You can release the breath once you have locked out the weight at the top. You must do this for every repetition.

Starting Position

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Start with the bar directly over the centre of your foot. Next, reach straight down and grab the bar slightly wider than shoulder width. Think slightly narrower than your bench press grip. Once you are holding onto the bar, lower your hips, which will cause your shins to go forward and meet the bar. When your shins touch the bar, push your knees out to touch your arms. This is the basic starting position, but we are still not ready to lift the weight. Before you begin make sure that you are engaging your entire back, so that it does not round over and place strain on your spine. Flex your triceps to force your arms to stay straight, if I was using over-under grip and not flexing my triceps, there is a risk of me using my biceps which could result in a tear. Engage your hips so that you are putting force through the bar. At this point, it should feel quite uncomfortable and if there is a heavy weight on the bar, it should already be bending without the weight lifting up. From here you are ready to lift the weight.

During the lift

You should be driving through your heels and trying to hinge your hips at the same time as extending your legs. Make sure that the bar maintains contact with yourself at all times! Yes, this may result in some shin scraps but it is maximising the amount you can lift and minimising risk of injury if you keep the weight as close to your centre of mass as possible. It is also important to control the weight on the way down, by lowering it the same way you lifted it, and resetting at the bottom. If you start every deadlift the exact same way, your brain will create neurological pathways which will make lifting easier.

Your set should look a little something like this (minus the failed row at the end):

Exercise Spotlight – Bench Press

Basics of the movement

The bench press, specifically the flat barbell bench press is a popular compound exercise that is a commonly used to measure upper body strength. It involves lying on your back on a bench with your feet planted firmly on the ground, and your shoulder blades tucked in. You hold the barbell in a neutral grip slightly wider than shoulder width apart, and at full extension, your arms should be perpendicular to your torso. You lower the bar slowly, using your core and legs to assist with stabilisation until the bar touches your chest, then using your chest and assisting muscles explosively drive the barbell back to the starting position. Continue reading to find out how and why this famous exercise is used by almost all strength athletes as a complete upper body builder. Continue reading Exercise Spotlight – Bench Press

5/3/1 Powerlifting Program Review!

Overview

The 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program, otherwise known as Wendler’s 5/3/1 is a linear progression program that was created by none other than Jim Wendler himself. It works by progressively overloading the body with higher weight, and lower reps as the weeks go on. This program is seen as a very effective novice program and is considered one of the most popular workout regimes for people looking to get stronger. It also is quite a flexible program in that you can choose whether to train 3 or 4 days per week. The main premise according to Jim Wendler is to make slow, consistent gains and to beat rep records rather than setting new 1RM’s, which have a greater risk of injury. Basically, if you go from a 5×140 kg squat, to a 7×140 kg squat you have gotten stronger even if you haven’t set a new 1RM. If you are brand new to lifting, you may benefit from performing the lifts more frequently. But for anyone looking to make gradual strength gains with short and efficient training sessions, this program is good for you.

Continue reading 5/3/1 Powerlifting Program Review!