Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Are you fit to train? - The importance of G.P.P

As athletes we are always chasing numbers, be it trying to increase our lifts or reducing our times. Most of us spend countless hours perfecting technique, looking for exercise variations and keeping ourselves abreast of the latest developments in training programmes to improve our performance – all good stuff.

You don’t have to be Albert Einstein to understand if you can increase your work capacity and the quality of that work, you will enhance performance. However what we often neglect within our training regime is to dedicate time to get our bodies conditioned aerobically, anaerobically and physically to enable us to increase our training capacity either by way of volume or intensity.

This specific area of training has been labelled as General Physical Preparedness and is referred to in most writings as its acronym, G.P.P.

In addition to helping increase work capacity G.P.P will also give you longevity in the weight room; it’s the old adage ‘Prevention is better than cure”.

Exhibit A
When it comes to explosive strength one of our younger members at the Muscle Pit is in a league of his own, summed up he is the strongest kid I’ve ever meet.
He has enormous natural potential and has had the opportunity to pursue excellence in several sports. However those doors are rapidly closing as he gets older.

Weighing in at over 150Kg he carries a lot of excess weight however he has never felt the need to get his body better prepared & conditioned for his work-outs.
While he was powerlifting, his argument was “my lifts at comp time take less than a minute and the rest between each attempt is at least 5 minutes, besides, my numbers are still improving”.

Hard to argue against, – except equipment manipulation with natural ability will only go so far.

His work-outs would consist of one set of lifts, talk for 10 minutes till fully recovered, proceed to next set, fully recover & repeat. Very seldom would he up the tempo or increase his training volume and extend himself.

I hope for his sake as he gets older he doesn’t suffer any major injuries that keep him from training that could of been prevented with better G.P.P.

Where G.P.P. could have helped
Apart from setting a good base for long term longevity in the weight room, G.P.P could have immediately benefited his deadlift which by the way is his worst lift.

The deadlift is performed last on competition day when the lifter is most fatigued. Supportive equipment for the deadlift does not assist the lifter to the same degree as the squat and bench press, meaning that the lifter cannot rely on anything but pure strength.

He would regularly deadlift more in the gym fresh, than on the competition platform.
In addition he regularly picked up small niggly injuries that G.P.P could have played a role in preventing.

How much better could he of been had he improved his G.P.P and increased his work capacity?

It’s hard to put a number on it; however it would have helped immensely. More importantly it would have set a solid foundation for any sporting pursuit he chose.

If you are striving to be the best I feel you should look under every stone.

Incorporating G.P.P
Most of us at Muscle Pit incorporate G.P.P into our schedule with three goals in mind. The first being to raise work capacity; the second to aid in helping the muscles recover quicker between weight training sessions and the third is to develop any lagging muscle groups.

We use two methods of G.P.P work to raise our work capacity at Muscle Pit. The first is our weekly “Frontline” course; this course incorporates aerobic & anaerobic conditioning, plyometrics, agility and compound movements. It’s a ball breaker; however “the crew” find it enjoyable as it breaks up our weekly routine, gets us working more as a team and in some sadistic way we enjoy watching each other suffer.

You can check it out on our YouTube site by clicking the following link:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQHlLkj1HcA

The 2nd is by dragging sleds in a variety of ways. Sled work has no eccentric or "negative" movement. The non eccentric work will induce less muscle soreness and help to aid recovery by pumping fresh blood into the targeted area. Plus it helps to condition the joints.

Because of work schedules we normally do this training before or after our work-out sessions, some will also do it on our non-training days or 12 hours after their last training session.

We generally drag the sled over approximately 100m for each exercise.

Here are a couple of sled drag variations
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hIhRl8WdGM&feature=channel_page

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBdZ_b2wTLA&feature=channel_page

Summary
Like breast implants, Pamela Anderson & most guys right hand, G.P.P and work capacity also go hand in hand.

Think of it like building a pyramid, the larger the base (foundation) the higher you can build. Same with athletic performance, the more volume of training your body can handle the more progress you can make - which in turn will improve your numbers.


So the question is “Are you doing everything that is needed for continual improvement and like the pyramids will you stand the test of time in the weight room?”

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Starting Out - A Brief Overview

“The PIT”

For those that are reading this and are not familiar with the Muscle Pit, basically we are a training facility that focuses on strength development & sports conditioning.


That said we work with a mixture of both athletes and a few “athletes in disguise” to help them achieve their fitness goals.

The members themselves come from an array of backgrounds and professions ranging from Business Owners, Accountants, Doorman, Primary Care Givers, Students & one or two that are unemployed by choice. (After all you wouldn’t want work to get in the way of your training right?) Regardless, the common ground between all of our members is they all physically want to improve themselves and push their limits. The interpretation of this will vary from person to person, as some will put more emphasis on maximal strength opposed to strength endurance or explosive strength, however when it’s broken down to brass tacks they all want to be bigger, leaner, faster & stronger.


Starting Out

Often the first question a new member of our crew will ask is “What training program should I use?”

In my opinion before a training program or template is discussed your first concern should be technique. If you have the right leverages in place you will lift more - if not right away… eventually. Good technique also makes it easier to spot and correct any weakness in your strength chain.

Secondly the foundations of any quality training program should incorporate the big 3: Squat, Bench and Deadlift. Each of these compound movements work two or more body parts at a time, making them all great for strength and muscle development, while increasing your metabolism.


Next set a goal; know what you want to get out of your training. Make sure the goals are achievable at a stretch. It is more motivating to accomplish than trying to commit to something you haven’t got a hope in Halley’s of achieving in the next 100 years. From my experience, I’ve found it best to set a yearly goal and then break it down into mini goals over 12 week cycles.

Once the goal is set, formulate a strategy (plan) and record every workout including how you felt during each work-out. This information is invaluable as it will allow you to tweak future programs as you discover what has worked and what hasn’t.


Training Programmes

With the advent of the web there is a ton of diverse information & hybrid versions of various training methods, programmes & exercises easily accessible – so how do you cut through all the crap to decipher what is best for you?
A good place to start is to look at those with the same objectives as you that are accomplishing their goals. Look at the numbers these people are posting. If their numbers are good and they train at different facilities around the world, it would suggest that you are on to something.

At Muscle Pit the majority of us train to a “Westside” philosophy, however we have a few that train differing variations of this style… and all are progressing nicely.

This has led me to the conclusion it is far more important to get under the bar, and as Nike say “Just do it”, than to get bogged down rummaging through countless encyclopedias of training information to the point you develop “analysis paralysis”.

80% of what you will learn about training and yourself will come from time spent under the bar.
If the training programme & selection of exercises you use are delivering the gains, stay with it. Do not swap training programs every two minutes because someone broke a record last week using a different training method to you. Just add it to your tool box for that rainy day when your gains start to stall. Remember it takes time to develop strength, so give the programme a chance – it is not an overnight thing.


Exercise Selection

As for the exercises themselves, the main thing to know here is when lifting maximal weight you need to change or vary the movement at least every three weeks. It is well documented by many of the leading strength coaches that your nervous system adapts to any form of repetitive workload after 3 weeks, which means after 3 weeks your progress will go backwards. So if you Bench on a Monday look for variations of the movement. I.E Benching off Boards, Benching with Bands & Chains, Floor Press, Reverse Bands, Rack Lock-outs, Bench with Weight Releases etc… keep the body guessing.


From practical experience I have found I get better results by changing the exercises I max out on weekly. For me this keeps training more interesting and my mind set fresh. Each Max work out gives you an opportunity to hit a new P.R on a different exercise weekly.


Summary

Remember no matter how many training books and articles you read or Youtube downloads you watch you will never understand or harness the full impact of the lessons being taught unless you are constantly grappling with the iron in the field of battle.

Answer me this, do you think you can become a great fighter just by reading about fighting?

No… well it’s no different here… The bottom line is the training programme is not as important as the training itself and all training templates will work to some degree. The efficency and rate of return from each will depend on where your level is at before embarking on it.


Cheers...

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Cardio for Fat Lose??... What a Crock

If you are a women that has been training your butt off - and its still there, or you are about to embark on that endless quest for a new body in time for next summer (again), put down your latte & muffin and sit up. I’m going to give you the big heads up on burning fat that you won’t find talked about in any edition of Cosmo or Muscle & Fiction.

Ladies when it comes to burning fat … “Heavy weight training will beat cardio hands down”

If you want to look like the goddess sprawled across the cover of Cleo or one of those girls your man salivates over that is entrenched in his "wank bank".... train like a man!!

Simplifying it down even further; get off the tread mill, stepper and out of the aerobic classes & start lifting some free weights that actually challenges you when you lift.

One of many miss-beliefs that have been shaped by the health industry is that women should primarily spend their time on cardio activities and lift ‘light weights’ to strip fat and reshape saggy arms & wobbly bums.

I hear you regular work out girls saying “I’m exhausted when I’m finished, I’m sweating profusely (or glowing for the more refined reader)” But let’s be honest has your body morphed to where you want it to be? Have you noticed no one around you has changed either or those that temporarily did because they starved themselves are right back to their original starting point with out getting that toned look?

Sure cardio has its place (thou interval training is far more effective as a fat burner & cardio conditioner), but in the war against fat the most effective way to speed up the metabolism is to lift heavy weights that hit the central nervous system. This will get your body burning calories as you sleep. If you thought you miss read that I’ll say it again burn calories as you sleep!!

How many hours have you put in...?

If you new 3 x one hour sessions a week in the weight room, with a slight adjustment to your eating habits, could of delivered you the desired look over a sixteen week period, would you of ventured out of your comfort zone ???.... Well now you at least know - no more excuses.

Big Muscles??
A few of you will already be thinking “oh but I don’t want big muscles”, please..... Do you really think you are accidentally going to build overnight what has taken years of hard work, strict dieting and in some cases anabolic drug use to achieve?

How many women or men for that matter do you know that after a few weeks of training “accidentally” turned themselves into freak body builders?

The women you may have seen floating around the internet that dwarf Arnold, have devoted a good chunk of their life working dam hard to achieve that look. Their bodies have probably absorbed more testosterone based steroids than any winning tour de France cycling team.

It is just not possible to exceed your genetic potential to grow freaky muscles without a chemists help - Women do not possess the testosterone factor.

Muscle & the Metabolism
Muscles play a huge part in raising the metabolism.

A kilo of muscle burns about 132 calories a day while a kilo of fat burns 11.

That means any growth in your muscle tissue is going to help you burn more calories all day long.

In fact, strength training has all kinds of great effects on your body like:
1. Increasing the resting metabolic rate so you burn more calories, (3rd time…even while you sleep).
2. Muscle though it weighs more takes up less space than fat.... so the more lean mass the slimmer you are.
3. Helps strengthen bones and connective tissue.
4. Enhances your balance & stability
5. Builds confidence and self esteem.

However all the good stuff above only works if you are lifting enough weight to stimulate muscle growth.

Picking a weight that you can push or pull 15 to 20 times per set is a complete waste of time. You are not going to get the fat loss you’re looking for. You might as well roll up on the couch and tune into Desperate House Wives for an hour.

Independent Study Results
Still not convinced? You still cling to your belief that cardio is mandatory in fat loss, read on....

In a recent study published by the North American Association of Obesity, men & women were instructed to do 60 minutes of aerobic exercise per day for 6 days per a week for an entire year. That’s 6 hours of cardio per week.

Now with that much time & consistency spent huffing & puffing you’d expect a decent amount of weight loss, right?

Well, the surprise findings showed the average weight loss for females was only 4 pounds (less than 2 kilos) for the entire year, men faired slightly better at an average of 6.6pounds (3kilos).

That’s 300 hours of aerobic exercise just to lose a measly 3 kilos of blubber. - That’s time not well spent in my opinion.

Summary
So in summary ladies, ask yourself this; “Are your current training methods delivering you the body you are looking for? “ If not, I challenge you to get yourself into the weight room and start lifting heavy, after all what have you got to lose (other than fat), and who knows you may find yourself delightfully surprised.

Cheers….Henry

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bands 101 - An Introduction to band training

I’ve trained with flex bands now since 2001 and in doing so have personally witnessed the benefits first hand to the point I rate them as a necessity as an aid to strength training & injury rehabilitation.

In a space of 10 months I took my bench from 202.5Kg to 230Kg and I contributed a large portion of this improvement to the Jump stretch bands.

My first introduction to the flex bands was in an article by Louie Simmons in powerlifting USA. Not only were the numbers his lifters achieving impressive, but it was the first time I actually started thinking how the mechanics of each of the powerlifts; Squat, Bench & Deadlift worked & what muscle groups where engaged at each stage of the lift.

Up until that point I had followed the same old split routines that everyone around me used. Predominately out of the pages of Mr. Weiders “Muscle & Fiction”, publication. With Mr. Weiders inspiration I’d hit the gym and train like a lunatic. At that point I’d never considered over training was possible, never had a training template, all my training was done on instinct, and hey, there was always one of those world famous “ weirder principles” to say you were doing the right thing.

Inside that issue of Powerlifting USA was an advertisement for Jump Stretch Bands. I promptly phoned the USA at 10pm Perth time that night & two weeks later I had them.

A full set of bands in those days consisted of a pair, each of: Mini, Light, Average and Strong. That set even today, some eight years later, is still my recommendation to any one that has had a few years of lifting behind them and is looking to take their lifting to the next level.

Strength Development - How do the Bands work?

Trying to keep it as simple as possible, band training helps with the development of strength in two areas the concentric and eccentric phase of the movement.

Let’s take everyone’s favorite exercise the Bench.

When pressing the bar up this is the concentric phase, when bringing the bar down this is the eccentric.

By introducing the bands and fixing them to both the floor and the bar we are able to increase the bars weight at lock-out. Depending on band tension you may have 5 kilos extra weight on the bar at chest level and by the time you lock out you may have increased that tension to represent an increase of 20 kilo’s extra on the bar. I.E Total bar weight at the chest is 105KG (100Kg weight & 5Kg band tension) at the lock out point 125Kg (100Kg weight & 25Kg band tension).

The gradual increase of tension (weight) on the bar forces the lifter to push consistently thru the entire lift. This is helpful in developing starting strength off the chest, helps strengthen the triceps and gets the lifter more accustomed to handling heavier loads.

The bands will also help the eccentric portion of the bench as the lifter must control the extra weight at the top before commencing the downward towards the chest. As the bar comes down it is unloading weight (tension), however the nature of the bands increase the bars velocity towards the chest, this helps build kinetic energy that can be used to get the bar back up.

Take a basketball for example if you drop it from shoulder height it bounces knee high. Now drop the basketball from the same height, only this time add a bit of momentum behind it. What you will find is the basketball now bounces higher – that’s kinetic energy at work. Simple said “Faster down - Faster up.”

Bands can also be attached from above the bench and to the bar (The most common set-up is inside a power rack). Normally this is referred to as Reverse Band Benching and is designed to mimic the properties of a bench shirt that Powerlifters wear (that’s a whole different article in its self).

The purpose of the exercise here is that the bands will decrease the bar weight as it is lowered to your chest and as you push the weight up you are left with what weight is on the bar. I.E 150Kg at the start of the lift with arms fully extended (150Kg of weight no band tension) and as you lower the bar, band tension kicks in causing a de-loading effect to the point there maybe only be 120KG at chest level (still 150Kg on the bar but the band tension is holding up 30Kg).

What tension are the bands?

The tension of the bands are dependent on how you set them up, and as everyone’s set up is slightly different the tension will vary.

To measure the tension the best way I’ve found is as follows:

Bench – Once you have your bands hooked up to an Olympic bar, build up the height using boards and a set of scales until you reach the chest height you’re at before commencing the press portion of the bench. Lift the bar onto the scales, subtract your bar weight of 20Kg and there you have the band tension weight at the bottom of the lift. Keep building the height on the bench to your lockout point and repeat the previous steps and this will give you the weight of tension at the top of your lift. If you have a mechanics truck or car jack it is probably even easier.

With the reverse band set up, just keep adding weight until the bar hovers at chest height and you have the bands tension.

If you can understand the above, the same principals will apply to the other two powerlifts; Squat and Deadlift.

What other uses can we find for bands?

The flexibility is such that you don’t need bands in conjunction with big apparatus’s to make them effective, nearly all band exercises can be done from home. This makes them a great tool if you are traveling or you struggle to find the time to get to a gym.

In addition bands have become very popular as a stretching aid to help flexibility & to warm up muscles before activity.

Most sports therapists and physicians are starting to reach for bands as it allows the patient to self medicate injury as they can pin point their area of stress or weakness and exert their own pain tolerance on, or into, the injured area for relief.

Are there any pitfalls?

I’ve been training consistently with bands now for eight years with no problems. A couple (one) of the training crew at the Muscle Pit here in Perth, found that the bands are hard on their joints in reference to benching. Maybe the tension has been too much, maybe they need more joint conditioning… Maybe they just need to toughen up. The bands still play a part of their training program for stretching and other exercises – just not benching.

Where do you get them?

Like any product, once someone sees it as a good idea, it seams everyone’s on the band wagon. There will always be competition. Here at the Muscle Pit we distribute the Jump Stretch Bands around Australia but there are other brands out there as well with each manufacturer & distributor putting their own slant on why their bands are the best.

Guess what folks? They all stretch and in my observation all do the job.

Here is couple of things with bands you may find interesting:

1. Some bands are layered in construction opposed to solid compound. Layered in my experience has proven to last longer as compound bands tend to tear once they have a nick in them. Layered bands you just peel off or cut the peel.

2. Some brands I’ve experienced feel flat or doughy in certain areas, so when they stretch you get uneven tension on the bar.

3. Some bands come out of South America others out of Asia – no “biggy” either way, that’s just where they come from.

So why did we decide to distribute the Jump Stretch Bands?

That’s easy, every article from the strength world I’ve read including writings of Westside’s Louie Simmons, Sebastian Burns at Metal Militia, Dave Tate’s, Elite Fitness Team and a host of others all use Jump Stretch Bands.

So when they explain how to perform an exercise with the bands, at the very worst I have the starting point correct.

Dr Shimmell a leader in both rehab and prehab is using Jump Stretch Bands to service his clients. So when he sets up a patients exercise using a combination of bands in a certain way, I’m mirroring exactly what he’s doing – once again I am limiting the margin for era.

Also importantly when I’m corresponding with these guys I want to be on the same page.

And, Yes! Over the last eight years they have proven to be a durable product.

Summary

There is a plethora of information out there on Bands. The internet has been a great tool when it comes to the sharing of knowledge. My own YouTube Channel, MusclePitWA has an abundance of band uses covering all the areas we discussed in this article, plus a heap of exercise combos with kettlebells, specialty bars, chains and dumbbells for the more advanced lifters.

My experience has been nothing but positive, apart from getting kicked out of one gym for using them, as they deemed them as dangerous - It amazes me, that it doesn’t amaze me, how short sighted some of these pencil necked gym owners and managers are. (There’s also another story in that statement for later). Anyway I told them they could jam it and the Muscle Pit was conceived.., and that’s proving a positive.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Lazy Punter, Health Industry and Soiled Underpants.

The Lazy Punter
Do people really want to get fit, feel healthier, look better, live longer and have a more active life… Hell yeah!

Do the majority of people take action to ensure the above happens?

Sadly the answer is as obvious as the nose on Barbra Streisand face… NO!!

So why is there a break down for 80% of the population that desires to be healthier but can’t get off their fat butts long enough to do something about it?

In my own work place & at the odd weekend barbeque (I manage to squeeze in), I am asked consistently “What do I need to do to lose weight off my bum”, “tone up”, “get stronger”, “get fitter”, “put on muscle” etc…

My first question back is “what are you doing at the moment?”

The usual reply is “nothing!! I’m thinking about it”.


Well fuck me Sherlock? Try moving your frumpy arse down to the gym, do some exercise, watch what you put in your mouth and make time to train consistently…take action!!


Can I make it any clearer… but you know what, people are lazy and the retorts I usually hear are: “I haven’t got time”, “can’t afford it”, “got injuries”, blah blah blah….

The simple truth is at the moment you haven’t prioritized your health: you’re breathing (maybe hard but hey! You’re still breathing, right!), you’re moving (thou not with the same agility you once had), you can afford new clothes as your waist expands & as long as your memory is o.k, you can always relive you’re youth & what you used to be capable of.

Well you know what? If you want it bad enough you’ll find the time, you’ll find the money and you’ll get those injuries addressed or find work around exercises to compensate.

Look at any heart attack survivor; actually… look at anyone that has had a health scare or decrepitating injury. All of a sudden quality of life is no.1 on the priority scale and they take action to get their life back better than before.

Bottom line to all this is that people are lazy and undisciplined, they don’t want to hurt themselves, it’s much easier to hang on to the mantra of “One day I’m gonna do something” – “Yep! One day sooner than later, you will be a gone-a...for sure!”

The Health Industry
Playing right along with peoples’ desires to be lazy is the majority of the “health industry” who hone in on those people that do get motivated to take that first tentative step.


Ever hear someone advertizing how hard it is to get fit, how hard you’re going to need to work, what really is required to get you back in shape.


Nope! It’s all easy, easy, easy…Let’s look at 3 areas:

Info commercials: 5 to 10 minutes a day on a simple exercise device that you can pay off in easy installments.

Health Clubs: 90 days to a new you…. hell easy!!


Supplement Companies: Take this and you’ll be looking like the Incredible Hulk or Ms World Fitness champ in no time– there’s a pill & a picture to go with each product for everyone.

Damon Hayhow from Biologic Labs in Queensland - who in my opinion is one of the best trainers in the country when it comes to changing your bodies composition, wrote an article, I thought was right on the money on how the gym experience has evolved & how the big clubs are catering more & more towards people’s laziness to earn a dollar.

(Check out Damon at www.biologiclabs.com )

For those that are old enough to remember, gym’s where once a place where you trained & I mean TRAINED!!

That was obviously too hard for most people and limited the gym owners income, so a new breed of pencil necked gym owners, with a focus on dollars changed the gym experience to Fitness Centres, advocating it’s easier to walk on a tread mill for 30 minutes and watch a few music videos’, perhaps toss around a few light weights to get you that desired look in no time… Yeah right!!

Truth is they know the lazy undisciplined punter will use his membership for a few weeks and bugger off because nothing has changed. They might as well of hung out with Norm & Cliff at "Cheers" and deposited their money down the urinal.

They’ll be gone but the direct debit will still be active keeping the coffers flowing.

Now we have the emergence of Wellness Centres which are designed for rich lazy people to do even less. They engage in all sorts of rehabilitation that would be better suited for road crash victims, listening to tranquil music while smelling the scent of various floral aromas.

Soiled Underpants
To be truthful they’d get more of a workout if they sniffed my underpants after I’d done a heavy squat session at the Muscle Pit– that would have them stampeding to the toilet area, (aerobically challenging, with agility work tossed in as they avoid those in their path), massive contortion of the face (there’s a heap of muscles used there) and a good stomach heave (abb work out) to finish off.

In Summary
It’s amazing but currently thumb of rule is the more dollars you part with the less you physically do to stress your nervous system – which is the catalyst to kick starting your metabolism to effect change.

If you are motivated to improve your health & increase your quality of life, good for you, I applaud you. Just remember doing something is better than doing nothing, but please don’t do something that is really nothing.

1. Set yourself a routine: Set days, set times.


2. Then tie it together with discipline:
Discipline to train consistently
Discipline to use weights that challenge you
Discipline when selecting the foods that go in your mouth


Finally to help you stay on track, find a workout partner or partners’. This will then obligate you to keep focus on your goals, keep your routine on track and they can help spot you on those heavy reps your about to push out.

Take Action…..

Cheers

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Hardcore Gym... Who's Reality???

“Hey! Check out this gym it’s hardcore”

“…….. REALLY!!! “

Over the years I’ve heard the term “Hardcore Gym” bandied around by many people from all walks of life only to be disappointed at what I eventually saw and experienced when I finally got to train at “So & so’s hardcore gym”. In fact to be brutally honest reflecting on what I know today most of them weren’t worth a knob of goat shit.

It’s a phase I normally don’t give a second thought too as it has been used by so many gym owners in various marketing campaigns its lost all credibility in my eyes. That was until someone I know quite well, that hasn’t even stepped inside the walls of my own gym, (the muscle pit), said he didn’t want his son training there because he believed it was too hardcore and his boy just needed fitness for his sport. I won’t go into details of the preceding conversation however the point is it did get me thinking what the hell is a hardcore gym?

Have a think of what it means to you, & as you do, here is a myriad of people’s comments on what has been fed up to me over the years to support claims & views of hardcore gyms:

“So & so won some big bodybuilding contest and he runs the gym”

“So & so trains there” (ex - sporting champ - generally a bodybuilder)

“They have a whole lot of bodybuilders train there” (Substitute bodybuilder for doorman, local tough guy, gang members, etc..)

“They’ve got guys benching 3 plates (140Kg) aside”

“Man, they’ve got the latest Hammer strength machines “(substitute Hammer for Pantera, Nautlis, Flex etc...)
“It’s Gold’s gym … Arnold trained at Gold’s”


I’ve even had both a brand new chrome gym full of lycra and an old run down gym with decrepit equipment banging out George Thorogood music, tossed up to me as hardcore. - How much more diametrically opposed can you get?

From the small list above & probably combined with your own thoughts it’s a tuff one to be specific on, and I guess that’s the dilemma. Everyone has a different interpretation on what constitutes hardcore as it is generally based on your own gym experience, level of training knowledge & fitness goals.

Basically one man’s hardcore gym is another man’s “girly men” gym to coin half a phrase from Arnold.

So if it’s down to self evaluation here is my spin on the question of hardcore, split into various areas:

1. A hardcore gym must poses individuals with a focused & committed mindset.
To me hardcore starts at the front door, with you, the individual, & your approach to training. How focused you are on achieving your goals & demonstrating that commitment with consistency to training & nutrition both in and out of the gym. To have the will power to push yourself beyond your limits regardless of the level you are at today.
The more collective individuals like this you can squeeze under the same roof the more hardcore your facility will be regarded.

2. To have no fear of challengers is hardcore.
It’s then about harnessing that desire to be the best and still show good attitude & respect to others that train around you. A willingness to support, help-out & share information with others and encourage their ambitions. Nothing annoys me more than ass-holes who just take without giving back. It’s like they try to keep you down to stay ahead. I’ve always been of the belief the more you help others with their goals the more it will keep you moving towards your own goals.


3. Be inventive with the tools you use & always seek more knowledge. This helps develop a hardcore attitude.
As the owner of the Muscle Pit those that train there know my preference for equipment. First choice has always been for free weights, thou I will acknowledge machines do play their part, and as my focus has always been strength & conditioning, my tools of trade in no particular order will always consist of Olympic bars & weights, Glute-ham machine, Power racks with 1inch hole spacing, Reverse Hyper, Bands, Boards, Chains, Kettlebells, a decent Bench and a few Cambered Bars. These tools have been proven over time that with the right training template they produce results. The thing with training tools is you could spend a good chunk of Bill Gates fortune & still want more. When you have a good base of equipment it annoys me when I hear people blaming their tools of trade as hindering their progress when there is ton of work a rounds that can be utilized. You just need to build their knowledge base. “No excuses” is the mantra…


4. Respect of your training facility & peers will create a hardcore atmosphere.
The condition of the premises that houses the equipment I have no preference, old, new, it’s all the same to me. I couldn’t give a rats about air-conditioning and beautification as long as it’s not a slum & people put there weights back from where they got them. Putting weights away is a respect thing - you don’t shit in your own nest. (Unless you’re doing really heavy squats – that’s allowed… well more to the point, expected!!) Remember your training area is a temple – take ownership.


5. Stay 100% focused on the task at hand eliminating all distractions is hardcore.
Music has always played a big part in the gym experience ever since Olivia Newton-John paraded around in a leotard to “physical”. Which is juxtaposed to most powerlifting & strength facilities which shroud themselves in forms of metal music: heavy, death, black, thrash, glam, stoner, death-core, rap, gothic etc…, Frankly, I don’t care most of it just makes me mad. I don’t need sounds to pump me up to get the job done. If someone farts when lifting encourage them to shit. It shows there putting in, don’t snigger & laugh, concentrate at the task at hand you’ve heard & smelt worse.


Here are a few extra thoughts on the topic:

Most gyms today are measured in dollars while hardcore gyms are measured in results.
Hardcore doesn’t mean you bust ass over training, repping every set to failure to the point you are puking up all over yourself & the floor. Train hard, train smart. Hardcore Gym is not Stupid Gym.


Hardcore gyms should educate & inspire you.

The equipment purchased for these gyms are done so because it’s the shit that works and fits with proven training templates.

There must be a thirst within the place for knowledge & more importantly people that can gift that to others.
Chalk is allowed to be used.


Summary
So… Did any of the above match-up with your definition of hardcore?


As I said earlier we are all different in our evaluation of what it takes to make a hardcore gym. All the above I have tried to instill into the crew at Muscle Pit. However I’m uncomfortable to call it hardcore as in my eyes we still have a bit of a journey to go and a lot to achieve before it can wear that mantle in my eyes - Maybe it never will.

Here is a little something someone once told me in reference to training facilities and maybe applicable here “It’s not the gym… it’s the animal in the gym.”

Friday, April 17, 2009

2 Bar Partial Deadlift - Mechanical Ox Style

We found this adaptation of the mechanical Ox at Mark Roskill's, Toronto Barbell site. We set this up slightly different by using 2 monster mini bands to add more top end tension to the lift and also to help stabilize the bar. As this movement predominantly works top end strength we've found it best to work it as a partial movement. This is a great exercise that places a copious amount of stress on the body from the start to the finish. A big thank you to Mark Roskill,... from the crew at the Muscle Pit.

video