Tag Archives: Training Programs

Lean Mass Building Workouts

by Roger LaPointe

Adding Medicine Balls to your training program can help build lean muscle mass.

Summer is a time when you want to just pack on some great, quick lean mass. Try out this two workout combination. Take a day of rest between these workouts. There is a lot of lower body work here and you will feel it the next day. You will really feel it the day after Workout B. Give yourself two days of rest after Workout B, or just do some easy jogging or medicine ball work.

Workout A

Bodyweight Squats 3 sets of 10
Front Squat 3 sets of 10
Back Squat 5 sets of 5 up to 60%
Stiff Leg Deadlift 5 sets of 5 – see how high you can go using perfect form. You may hit 300 #, which would be great
Iron Boot Leg Ext. 2 sets of 20
Iron Boot Hanging Leg Curl 2 sets of 20
Hanging Frog Crunches 3 sets of 10

Workout B

Body weight squats
Stretch
5 sets of 6 depth jumps
Isometrics in the power rack: Squat, Standing Press, Deadlift, Bench – in that order
Stretch

Live strong, Roger LaPointe

Making Your Weight Training “All-Around”

by Jarrod Fobes

Dean Ross performing an Index Fingers Deadlift at the 2012 USAWA Grip Championships. This is one of the many variations of deadlifts within the USAWA that could be done as a "warm up" prior to a heavy deadlift training session.

Let me start off by saying that I am very new to the sport of weightlifting, and in that regard my opinions on how weight training should be done don’t count for squat. But I am a long time athlete and coach, and I do know a thing or two about creating an effective training program. So I thought I would share how I have been incorporating all-around lifting into my overall strength training, and see what the athletes of USAWA think.

Initially I tried training two days a week; one day of Olympic lifting and one day training whatever all-around lifts I was most interested in at the time. This didn’t work because if I had to miss a day of lifting, I either had to sacrifice my beloved all-around lifts, or miss out on some desperately needed Olympic practice. Also, my all-around sessions tended to focus on the lifts I was good at, rather than the lifts I needed to do. I needed to find a way to make sure I got a good full body workout on either day.

The general program I settled on is nothing revolutionary or even particularly intense: one or two full-body workouts a week, three or four lifts, each one for three or four sets of heavy singles, doubles, or triples. I pyramid up each set. I realize this is a pretty inexact scheme, but between teaching four martial arts classes a week and holding a physical job, I have to be able to vary the intensity based on how rested and ready I am. What is not inexact is my record-keeping. I think it’s important to diligently record the weight lifted each workout, regardless of whether it was a PR day or not.

With such a necessarily limited workout, it’s pretty hard to train the nearly 200 lifts included in the USAWA. So I’ve started “stealing” sets from the core lifts. For instance instead of doing four sets of Clean & Jerks, I might warm up with a set of Miller C&J. While this is a tough finger lift, it’s just a warm up for the back, leg, and shoulder muscles. Afterwards, I’ll struggle through a couple sets of Clean & Jerks, going up in weight if I feel my technique has improved enough. Then I’ll do one or two sets of an all-around lift that trains muscles or movement similar to the clean & jerk. If I’m sore and tired that day, I’ll pick something I’m not very good at (like One-Arm C&J, Judd C&J, etc) and focus on technique. If I’m feeling strong, I’ll pick one of my better lifts like the Turkish-Get Up and really try to push weight. Not only do the all-around lifts function as assistance exercises to the core lift, but the strength and technique gained from the core lift helps the all-around training too!

I bet there are a ton of creative ways to get some all-around practice in during your training, and I’d love to see some follow-up stories from veterans as well as other beginners.

MIM

by John McKean

“Oooh, Hon, how sweet – you remembered the nickname my family gave me when I was young!” purred my wife, Marilyn.

I noticed she was staring at a crumpled piece of paper I’d recently started scribbling on, that carried only the title “MIM.” So, thinking quickly, I replied “Yep, ya caught me. I was just penning you a little love note!” For certainly I would’ve lost this year’s batch of her famous Christmas cookies had I mentioned that the note was the nickname, and to be the recording  of my current training routine, which stood for “Monkey In the Middle”!!

John McKean training a backdown set, or as he calls it, a monkey set, with added band tension.

The MIM style workout refers to the middle-weight sets or “monkey,” and is my latest version of the “backdown set.” I learned about backdowns during the 1960s from famous Pittsburgh powerlifter Bob Weaver. Big Bob was one of our first National superheavyweight champions, using his 365 pound bulk to establish the U.S. record total and a national squat record of 807 – long before supersuits or other supportive gear, and when judging was STRICT. Bob typically would start his training squats with a set of 5 with 135 pounds on the bar, and add a pair of 45s for every set thereafter, until it stopped him. Then he’d reduce to a couple of hundred pounds lighter and bang out a few FAST sets – this was, of course, the backdown work. By the way, an amusing incident of his progressive training – Bob most often didn’t pay attention to the total amount of weight continually stacked on and once found, after the fact,  his final set to be 855; yes, he got stuck with no spotters around. But, the experienced squatter had a trick he used for such emergencies – he’d quickly frog-hop forward and shove the bar backwards (he taught this to me – it really worked and was actually more reliable and safer than half awake spotters!). Trouble was, ole Bob had his back to a big window on the second floor of the Oakland (uptown Pittsburgh) YMHA – it went right through the glass and a massively loaded, plate clanging Olympic set tumbled to the sidewalk below! Fortunately, the horrific crash was on a small, little used side street at night, so no one was nearby! Not that any of their cars were parked down there either, but the Y’s directors weren’t exactly laughing!

Anyway, MY “backdown” is what I consider the MAIN building set(done as “rest-pause” singles), as this is where I place bands over the barbell for “speed singles.” Usually used for training our various all-round deadlift type lifts, I begin a session with a non banded double using a medium weight, go to a heavy single (not a limit but enough to cause a bit of a strain!), then backdown to a weight right in the middle of those two sets for band work. I start these “monkey sets” with a normal initial pull, but then try to accelerate through the finish. These sets actually feel springy and easy, since they follow the heavy single for the day, yet are actually more resistant due to the extra band stress. Since they begin easier off the floor, I am able to “trick” the body into a harder, faster  lift!  Each subsequent middle weight single seem to become more vigorous and speedier! An important footnote – if I’d not use a heavy free weight single beforehand, the monkey speed singles couldn’t be performed as efficiently with quite as much weight.

Pavel's new book EASY STRENGTH

However, don’t go crazy with band speed singles.  I find 2 to, at most, 5 banded-bar singles will do the job. In fact, in the brand new book EASY STRENGTH by Pavel and Dan John (Dragon Door Publications), Pavel mentions a similar banded deadlift routine that I’d once  given him. He wrote that the speed singles seemed just too easy and merely 5 of them were probably only good for old men (like me!!). But after his first workout he learned the hard way that this is a MINIMUM quantity, high quality routine (he stuck to 5 or 6 thereafter and claimed he was so strong with such little work that it seemed like “cheating”!). For that matter, throughout the entire EASY STRENGTH text the authors continually stress the extreme value of employing minimum reps and sets for optimum strength gains. It’s one of the few teaching tools  that elaborate on TRUE strength strategies for athletes, as the old time lifters employed – our all-round forefathers!          

“By the way, Hubby,” cooed Marilyn. “What were you gonna tell me in your love note?”

“OH,” said I. “Just those three little words you always like to hear!”

“Really?” she gushed.

“Yep,” I whispered, ” Bake them cookies!”

I never learn.

Hot Stove Workout

by Thom Van Vleck

A Hot Stove is where work gets done, and managing what's important means putting it up front or in back....managing your workout is the idea of this article.

I just wanted to share a workout plan I have for this winter.  As most of you know, I do a lot of throwing in the Scottish Highland Games.   Winter time for me is “off season”.  It is a time where I am trying to build strength again.  I also want to increase my conditioning and flexibility.  In season, I do a lot of throwing, and in the process I get pretty burned out on it by the end of the year and it’s good to get back in the gym for some old school training.

The first thing I need to tell you is that there is NOTHING I enjoy more than the adrenaline rush that comes with heavy lifting.  I get a high that will last for days.  Any hardcore lifter will know what I mean, that moment when the weight starts piling on and the goosebumps pop up on your arms and a chill runs down your spin and it’s “GO TIME”!  I love it.  But, as I get older I have to deal with a couple of factors:  Recuperation and Injuries.

Because of the increased recuperation time that comes with age and the injuries my body has endured, I can’t hit the max attempts like I did 20 or 30 years ago. I have to be smart!  Part of the problem is that I want to work my entire body at once and be cycling into heavy lifts that involve  my entire body.  So this year I came up with my “Hot Stove Workout”.

The “Hot Stove Workout” has my hitting the big numbers on a particular lift during my “Big Saturday” workout.  This is when I’m hitting that adrenaline rush and feeling good about moving some heavy iron (heavy for me!).  This is what I call my “Front Burner” exercise.   I am also using that time to work on my Erector Spinae and hamstrings using the Reverse Hyper, swiss ball (leg curls), and leg curling on the Reverse Hyper (a little exercise I stole from Al Myers).

Then Sunday is my conditioning day.  Right now I’m doing football agility drills with my son, who’s playing football in school, medicine ball drills, and tossing the pigskin around along with hitting the volleyball back and forth with my wife who’s on a volleyball league.

Monday is a day when I work on Grip, Neck, and Abdominal exercises, really going crazy on them.  Then my “Big Tuesday Workout” I hit two exercised that are my “Back Burner” exercises.  They are on their way to being “Front Burner” exercises and when one gets moved up, then another takes it’s place…destined to eventually make it to the “Front Burner”.  I always have three exercises and I make sure I have one that’s a leg movement, one a pressing movement, and another that’s a pulling or back movement.  It is also this day that I do any assistance work.

I then finish off with a set of 100 on the leg press.  These are very explosive, I drive up on the toes, and I usually have to crawl out of the gym after that.  By then I’ve worked out for 4 days and then I have three days to rest and get ready for the next Saturday.  I enjoy this workout very much and for now, that’s all I need to keep me lifting.  It doesn’t matter how great the workout is, if you don’t enjoy it or it doesn’t motivate you, then it’s the same as worthless.

By keeping a couple exercised on the back burner, using less weight, I’m able to be ready to switch them to the front burner.  That way I’m always hitting something heavy on Saturday and not having to build up over time for a big lift.  By lifting only once a week with over 90% poundages, I am able to recuperate and stay fresh.  I hope my workout has given you some ideas for your own training.  Everything I know about training I learned from someone else!!!!

OLD ADAGES, NEW ADAGES

BY DAVE GLASGOW

Dave Glasgow now knows when to "take a break" from heavy training and enjoy a little relaxation in his rocking chair (photo contributed by the webmaster, which was taken a few weeks ago when Dave very successfully promoted a big Highland Games in Wichita, Kansas).

THERE IS AN ADAGE STATING, ‘IF ONE’S GOOD, TWO’S BETTER AND THREE’S JUST ENOUGH!” HOWEVER, IN TRAINING, THIS SAYING COULD NOT BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH!! LET ME EXPLAIN.

FOLKS WHO TRAIN WITH WEIGHTS ARE, FOR THE MOST PART, SELF-DRIVEN, HIGHLY MOTIVATED INDIVIDUALS. THEY SEE A MEANS TO THE GOAL THEY HAVE SET AND THEY “GET AFTER IT.” HOWEVER, IN MANY, MANY CASES, THIS ENTHUSIASM IS MISDIRECTED.

I WILL USE MY OWN EXPERIENCE AS AN EXAMPLE. WHEN I WAS JUST OUT OF COLLEGE, I BEGAN TRAINING ON MY OWN. ALL I KNEW WAS THE SPARSE, AND OFTEN MISLEADING, INFORMATION GLEANED FROM THE BODYBUILDING MAGAZINES OF THE TIME. I TOTALLY IGNORED, AS A WHOLE, THE INFO GIVEN BY PEARY RADAR IN THE NOW DEFUNCT, BUT NONE THE LESS VERY EXCELLENT ‘IRONMAN’.

BEING THAT ABOVE MENTIONED ‘ENTHUSIASTIC’ LIFTER, I WORKED THE SAME LIFTS TWICE A WEEK. BENCH, SQUAT, DEADLIFT. FIVE SETS OF FIVE. THOSE WERE MY ‘WORKING’ SETS!! SAME WEIGHT FOR EACH SET. SET AFTER SET, REP AFTER REP. I WORKED HARD BUT COULD NOT UNDERSTAND WHY I WAS MAKING VERY LITTLE PROGRESS! “IF ONE IS GOOD THEN TWO IS BETTER AND THREE JUST ENOUGH. WELL, THEN, BY GOD, FOUR TIMES A WEEK IS PERFECT!”. I THOUGHT!! WHEN WAS I TO RECOVER WITH THAT REGIME?? THE ANSWER? NEVER!! I HAD NO REAL RECOVERY TIME, AT ALL.

THERE ARE SO MANY FACTORS INVOLVED IN RECOVERY. AGE; WHAT ONE DOES FOR A LIVING; NUTRITION…. IT GOES ON AND ON. I FOUND THAT A GOOD NIGHTS SLEEP AND A COUPLE OF BEERS DID NOT CONSTITUTE RECOVERY.

WHEN WE WERE LIFTING IN COLLEGE, WE WOULD GO BALLS OUT FOR SIX WEEKS OR SO, THEN HAVE TO LAY OUT FOR A WEEK OR 10 DAYS FOR WHATEVER REASON. THEN WE WOULD COME BACK AND OUR LIFTS HAD ACTUALLY IMPROVED!! WHAT THE …???? SIMPLE. THE BODY HAD HAD TIME TO REBUILD AND ADAPT. WE WERE JUST TOO NAÏVE, AT THAT TIME, TO UNDERSTAND THE PHYSIOLOGY INVOLVED.

NOW, BEING MUCH OLDER AND WISER (!!??), I HAVE COME TO REALIZE THAT MOST TIMES A NEW ADAGE THAT HAS SPRUNG UP RECENTLY IS THE COURSE ONE SHOULD TAKE. LESS IS MORE!! WHEN YOU HAVE TO DRAG YOUR BUTT INTO A WORKOUT, CHANCES ARE YOU ARE JUST DEFEATING YOUR OBJECTIVE FROM THE GET GO. IN MY OPINION, YOU MIGHT BE BETTER OFF USING THAT HOUR OR SO THAT YOU WORKOUT TO TAKE A NAP. THAT, MY FRIENDS, MAY, INDEED, BE TIME WELL SPENT.

TRUTH IS, WHAT IS GOOD FOR LIFTER ‘A’, MAY NOT NECESSARILY, BE GOOD FOR LIFTER ‘B’. WE EACH HAVE TO FIND WHAT IS BEST FOR US AS INDIVIDUALS AND SEEK OUT OUR OWN LEVEL. THIS CAN ONLY BE ACCOMPLISHED BY A CONSTANT ‘TWEAKING’ OF OUR TRAINING, ESPECIALLY AS WE GET OLDER, TO GET MAXIMUM RESULTS FROM OUR EFFORTS. THIS TAKES TIME AND EFFORT; HOWEVER, I FEEL IT IS TIME WELL SPENT. NEVER FORGET!! TIME TAKES TIME!!

TRAIN HARD, SMART AND RECOVER. YOUR BODY WILL LOVE YOU FOR IT!!

###(AS A SIDE NOTE, I WOULD ENCOURAGE EVERY LIFTER TO READ WENDLER’S “5/3/1” PROGRAM. I FEEL HE MAKES SOME VERY VALID POINTS AND I HAVE HAD GOOD LUCK WITH THIS SCHEDULE. IT ALSO FITS IN PERFECTLY WITH MY THROWING AGENDA.)###

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