A workout using all of your muscles that are pullers will build a strong posterior chain and make you flexible! There’s nothing sexier than an upstanding skeleton, so pick up some weight and PULL!!! Here’s how:
Reverse Push Up
Use a Smith Machine or Squat Rack to position a secured barbell at chest height. Then position your hands equidistant from the center of the bar. Lean back and walk your feet forwards until your bod is angled 45 degrees to the floor…
Begin to pull, drawing your elbows backward as if trying to touch them together behind your back. When you get your chest to the bar, pause for a moment.
(No, this photo wasn’t stolen from the A.C. Slater archives)
Be sure to retract (squeeze) your shoulder blades together [without shrugging your shoulders up/tensing into the neck]. I tell my clients: “Imagine you’re trying to hold a pencil between your blades without letting it drop”. This visual cue seems to land with most folks; give it a try in your own mind’s eye. Then, slowly lower yourself back down and mentally prepare for many repeats (see program outline at the end)
Compound the fatigue on your synergists (helpers) with Barbell Bicep Curls. Stand erect, still “squeezing the pencil”, and get ready to CRANK!!!
Barbell Bicep Curls
With abs drawn in and towards the spine, begin barbell ascension with a focused lift.
Get It Up!
Envision no other muscle than your biceps (front of upper arm) doing the work. Mental focus is the thin blue line between workout efficacy and tiresome junk.
With bicep curls, I usually stop the lift when I get the load (barbell, dumbbell, cable, etc.) to armpit height (pictured below). Beyond that, I usually experience decreased muscle excitability and consider it wasted motion and unplanned rest.
Practically extend to completely straight, but not exactly. A little kink at the elbow keeps you right in the zone of intensity and puts the biceps in the position of least leverage to produce force again. Big time challenge, buddy!
After the set finishes you, find a pull-up bar. It’s time for an instant classic:
Get a proper grip and hoist yourself, thinking of the core muscles along side your ribs, underneath your shoulder blades and into your lower back. This is a latissimus exercise, but if you can access your deep core muscles while performing B.R.T. (body-weight resistance training), you’ll feel a serious kind of soreness in the days following your routine.
Note: I keep my thumb off the bar. By barely gripping surfaces, I experience far greater neuromuscular control, perform better reps and need to spend less time in the gym to create.
In the photo below, I am trying to retract my shoulders and “squeeze the pencil”, but if you look closely, you’ll see that my left shoulder is slightly raised. It is shrugging a bit towards my neck and throwing me somewhat out of alignment. It’s these minor details that make a major difference–I’d better lower myself down and try again.
Kill You Dead Bent Over Rows
This move combines a Dead Lift and a Bent Over Row. Bend down with a straight back to get ahold of the barbell, then stand erect.
In the low phase of the lift, your body should look like the number 7.
Pull the barbell up until it touches your belly button, pause there a moment and lower with control. Stand back up to straight and prepare for another rep, bending into the low phase of the Dead Lift before pulling up the row.
Finishing Move: Good Mornings
A lost art is the Good Morning, which is essentially a Dead Lift that is back-loaded instead of lap-loaded. Get the bar in a “comfortable” position across the shoulders, using the trapezius as memory foam padding. Begin the lift by bending at the hip to lower your torso down until you achieve the number 7 position again.
Stand up by squeezing your butt first and follow through until you are completely upright again. There is no movement that should occur in the vertebral column…it should just remain stabilized as you move through the range of motion of each repetition.
If you can execute this routine with perfect technique and consistency, then a battle-tested durable bod will be waiting for you at the finish line.
E-mail me at email@example.com to schedule your online Technique Training Session to learn every move in this circuit perfectly!
Spirit and Sport,
1. 20 Reverse Push Ups (or until failure)
2. 15-20 Barbell Bicep Curls (you’ll have to test your strength to find your working weight)
3. 10 Chin Ups
4. 12-15 Kill You Dead Bent Over Rows (you’ll have to test your strength to find your working weight)
5. 20 Good Mornings (you’ll have to test your strength to find your working weight)
6. 2-minute Sprint on a Treadmill at no less than 5 mph and an uphill incline of no less than 7.0
Rest 1-2 minutes. Repeat five times.
Nothing’s Worse Than a Busted Shoulder
Weight training programs that focus on moving heavy weight through a single plane of motion leave many bases uncovered when it comes to functional strength and joint stability. It’s quite possible to develop super-strong and ultra-sculpted shoulders with free, multiplanar motion. You begin by palming two weight plates and assuming an athletic-ready position:
Locked and Loaded
1. Skim the Meniscus
2. Throw the Discus
You look in the mirror to check form, not to admire muscle definition or despise figure.
It Takes Years of Dedication
The Disc Drive Series can be a useful way to become immensely strong. Practice the techniques demonstrated in each of the blog entries and you’re well on your way to a pro-form physique. The path to a peaking vessel is years long, and has no particular end. You go through your routines and before long, it’s automated–the highest level of systems functioning. Don’t let stagnation, discouragement or social distraction derail you. No one wants this for you as bad as you do; it’s one of the universal inequalities in life. So sink your teeth in, and plan on having tenacity.
Always The Upstanding Citizen
Grab two plates…hold on tight.
Get a Grip–Now Walk Forth, Young Man
Different foot strikes indicate a stability challenge, as well.
Make sure to take even paces, with shoulders pinned back.
Just Think: Age 30 will be my most athletic year…
Chin up. Shoulders back…this is Charm School, sucka!
So, let’s make this harder, ey?
Doubling the stack width coupled with added surface viscosity places increased demand on the gripping muscles.
The Farmer’s Walk
I can’t tell you how many exercises I take my clients through that could be more effective with improved grip strength. I’ve known this since somewhere near the beginning of my personal training career nearly 8 years ago. Clients would complain of searing, burning pain focused in the forearms, elbows and hands when performing lat pull-downs and rows; dead-lifts were a near impossibility; heavy weight couldn’t be moved without the use of wrist straps.
Your appendages and digits are your most literal translation of the tactile world outside. You get full neural input of the resistances placed on your frame when you are in direct touch with them. The Farmer’s Walk forces you to squeeze with all your might and to manage an efficient posture while swaying. This is truly a strength-building exercise.
1. Grip the rims of two weight plates using just finger tips. Hold them by your sides.
2. Stand up super tall and let the arms hang down, with a little stiffness in the elbow to avoid hyper-extending.
3. Walk forwards as far as you can until you feel like the grip is about to slip!
4. Hold on for dear life and take a few more steps for good measure.
5. Progress to stacked plates when you become bored with the traditional version.
6. Total 4 sets, mixed into core work (gluteus, abs, trunk, etc.)
Questions, comments or concerns, e-mail:
Time to Get Even: Side Bends
Half a Parabola
Bend and Extend
Keep It Close to the Heart
OK, Diver Down!
“On the Rise”
Burn It Out and Let It Hang
The Key to 6-Pack Abs:
Frequent Cardio: this is not new information.
Intense Weight Training: this is not new information.
Durable Nutrition: this needs to be the focus. I am willing to guarantee, that if you put yourself on a diet where you only eat foods that were grown within a 150-mile radius of where you live, you will lose the unwanted weight that you have.
Adequate Rest (see “Rest” on the Blog): habitual small abuses (frequent, small alcohol intakes; environmental pollutants; restless nights, food toxins, etc.) drain the body of its vitality. If you rejuvenate (see “Rejuvenate” on the blog), you’ll look great.
Repetitive Routines: Successful busy-ness hinges on systems. Be a corporate monolith of consistency and the pounds just melt away and evaporate *(gone forever; into mist)
Set the Intention: what are you going to do?
Change Speeds: you have to do sport; bottom line. Milling about on cardio machines is linear and unshocking. Pick up a floor-hockey stick or relive your glory days in an adult recreational soccer league.
Do all these things, and expand to your Volume!
Oh, and about the slideshow we just saw:
Side Bends are some of the riskiest, and therefore most rewarding, abdominal exercises you can perform. The vertebral column is designed to be stacked straight up. So imagine little pin cushions sitting atop each bone in the column…As you crunch in, you smear the pressure of the bones unevenly across the cushions and it literally smushes the cushion. When you flex your side across the frontal plane, it can really pinch unevenly to one side. The spinal discs contain nerve jelly within its walls, and the last thing you want is some of that squirting out of a rupture.
The upside is that laterally flexible people will be able to really develop their core by stretching the psoas, TFL, QL, lats, IT Bands and pec minor. It also hardens the body by challenging you to overcome inertia and move weight with no appendages. Here’s the program:
Set 1: body, 15-25 reps each side (stability challenges like bird-doggin’ a side plank better prepare the body for the variability of actual exercise repetition. It turns a general warm-up, into a specific warm-up).
Set 2: Plus 12kg, 12 reps each side.
Set 3: Remain neutral, select the same weight. 15 unilateral reps and challenge the depth.
Set 4: Grab a 45, 4-6 reps each side.
Stretch: Hip Flexors, Abs and Quads
Questions, comments or concerns, e-mail:
Twist & Shout: The Barbell Swivel
Alright. I’ma, like, hurl this thing…
(*brain teaser: how many triangles can you find in this picture?)
Your core is EVERYTHING
…are you strong?
Swinging for extra bases…doubles or better. Shoot it to the gap…
Six-pack abs? What can they DO?
Centered! New Balance!
Move Your Feet
(What’s Wrong With This Picture?)
If you guessed “distended rectus abdominis”…you’re right!!! The most common cause of ineffective abdominal work is lack of proper core engagement. Here, I failed to contract my deep core stabilizers and thus my “six-pack” turns into a “turtle shell”. Whether you’re doing a standard Crunch or a complex move, like a Barbell Swivel, if your deep core stabilizers are not online, your exercise is rendered utterly ineffective 🙁
I risk a hernia, bulged vertebral disc or torn muscle in my core rotators. The more you know about exercise, the longer the athletic career you’ll have. Even toying around with a 10-pound weight plate, you can suffer a devastating back injury.
Now Load Up!
++take note: When bending over, the author uses the “off-hand” (left) as a kickstand to support a hefty upper frame…perfect spinal alignment almost guarantees no repetitive stress injuries to the back or hips.
Shoulder Striation (after years of work)
Follow-Thru is Key
Thank you, Sir!… May I Have Another?!
This Is It:
Please look at my feet.
They are such beautiful sneakers: MADE IN USA!!!
1. Stand up tall
2. Hold a standard olympic barbell at arms length
3. Use only the core muscles to swivel the bar side-to-side
4. Fancy footwork ensures spinal safety
5. Each time the core rotates, you must “catch” the bar softly and redirect it!
6. Add weight as needed
Muscles to Stretch: Psoas, Iliopsoas, Quadriceps, Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Maximus, Rear Deltiods, Scalenes and Trapezius
It comes down to sheer will. Determination… I could easily quit, OR I could overcome difficulty and get the job done. One results in one, while the other results in the other–get me?
If you have been following this blog, then you are two moves away from rut-busting freedom!! Share this link with friends, family and colleagues, as your support structure ultimately determines the likelihood of your success!
I’m here to tell you that “it” is hard work. Whatever “it” is: GO GET “IT”!!! My workout is the most challenging part of my day. If–by some chance–my body happened to be in order without hard work behind it, then I’d find some other insurmountable task to excel at (finance, law, etc.). Turns out I value longevity, strength, mindfulness and discipline. Thus, physical training is uniquely suited for me. Find your values, and pursue perfection within them without compromise–there is your greatness…
*author found 13 triangles
Q & A
Time to Clean Your Plate
Plate work is some of my favorite. Just like kettle bells, dumbbells and machines, plates are just another tool in the gym that I can use to shape my body in a totally unique way. The demands placed on the core are equivalent to working with kettle bells. The majority of moves are bi-lateral, so it offers the same potential for symmetry as the machines. Unlike dumbbells, however, plate manipulation requires more advanced skill probably gained through extensive exercise experience.
Where to Begin?
Chop Squat with Rotation
1. As the basis of working with plates, understanding the Chop Squat is critical.
2. Hold the plate bi-laterally (evenly balanced right to left). Choose the weight wisely.
3. Let the plate sway in an arc to better understand the mechanics.
4. Drive from the hips and lower back to propel the plate skyward along the arc.
5. Overcome inertia, knock it off axis and shift the center of gravity.
6. Lock in rhythm with the swaying pendulum.
7. One Max Effort hurls the plate skyward on an arc.
8. Catch it high.
9. Once elevated, observe the distribution of different downward forces on your body as the position of the plate changes overhead.
Big Wide Orbital Arc
The Laws of Physics: The longer the lever of the pendulum, the more force it takes to overcome inertia, accelerate and decelerate it.
10. Arms bone straight, collapse the hips, knees and vertebral rotators simultaneously as the plate scrapes the perimeter.
A Complete Collapse
11. Catch it low.
12. Allow your body to give into the force so that you can accurately calculate how hard to counter.
The change in direction is initiated at the waist and then transferred through the arms. Drive first with the gluteus on the side over which the plate falls. Sequentially fire the external obliques, the erectors and the [rear] deltoids. Stabilize the shoulder with the middle trapezius, rhomboids, deltoids and the muscles with scapular insertions.
Repeat In Sequence
Mastering Plate Chop Squats does a body good! Everything gets stronger; you become more flexible; your heart rate is jacked and it’s highly functional. Whether for recreation or pro-competition, Chop Squats build athleticism and physique, and conquer uncoordinated efforts and imbalances.
– Use Plate Chop Squats as part of your general warm-up prior to weight training
– Start with a light 5-pound plate and become acclimated to the mechanics
– Always use a mirror to observe yourself
– Do Three Sets of 15 repeats to each side with 30 seconds of rest between sets
See beauty in yourself and the world loves you all around. You are Beautifully Sculpted; evenly shaped. Have a grasp on your reality by touching something–it’s likely right there, in the same place at the same time…everyday. Celebrate the pendulum of your life. It’s time for the upswing.
Excerpt from “The Art of Exercise”
Q & A
This type of move comes with seasons of Deadlift experience. Do not attempt, unless supervised. The key to Strongevity is experiencing phenomenons in your life. Physically, what happens with a deadlift is a phenomenon. I displace 135 lbs. (61.4 kg) an upward distance of 3 feet (92 cm). My eyes gauge the midpoint of a line 7 feet long (the length of an olympic Barbell) [http://www.livestrong.com/article/417430-standard-barbell-lengths/]; my body acts as an unbalanced single arm lever and begins to collapse into lift position with perfect symmetry and parallel angles; the lift begins–I overcome inertia…
A single hand then has to negotiate calculating lateral unevenness over 7 feet long while 135 lbs. tugs it straight down to the earth. A series of muscles then has to fire–in sequence–in order to gather enough absolute strength to leverage inert gravity… The sides sway; the back threatens an arch. Every ounce of strength is concentrated into one 4-inch highway of digitorums. At the summit is triumph, a brief celebration. No more than pleasantries exchanged at the crosswalk…time to lighten the load.
Sonically, weight crashing down is like the final strike of a timpani in a roll-off; purposefully percussive. Punctual and on time. With this sort of masterpiece intent, every layer of the realm of our existence was touched in a single stroke.
The human body is amazing. Overlooked and underused.
Bring it back home.
I field many questions regarding the efficacy of weight training for burning fat. This is because many and most associate sweating with fat burning and they seldom find themselves drenched after a resistance training workout. I should say that something that is often missed with weight training is the high intensity that it can offer. In order to get hot when you lift, you need to exercise laser-like focus on the agonistic, antagonistic and synergistic muscles working. This way, no time under tension is wasted and you take full advantage of the increased heart rate that will result from a well-executed set of lifts. Still, you may not get that emptied-out feeling that comes from a long run, but here is why it does not matter.
When you get off of the stair climber/treadmill/elliptical the interface displays a workout summary that shows the duration, average intensity and caloric expenditure* of your workout. For the purposes of this article, let’s say that in 40 minutes 400 calories were burned. Without access to some seriously sophisticated equipment, it is impossible to tell exactly how many of those 400 came from fat stores in your body. For argument’s sake we will say half came from fat stores, so 200 fat calories were burned–not bad.
The next day, you lift weights for an hour and are disappointed to learn that you only burned a measly 230 calories. Again, not sure of which calories came from where but staying with our 50% model, 115 fat calories were burned. This sort of information would prompt many people to abandon the resistance training program and resort back to six days a week of exclusively cardiovascular exercise. The quantitative analysis of comparative caloric expenditure supports this move, so why would I suggest trusting in the weight-training for optimal results?
There are 24 hours in a day, and only one of those will be spent exercising. At a ratio of 23-to-1, I submit that composition of metabolic activity during periods of rest takes priority over what you are capable of in an hour of exercise. Before starting a weight training program, a person might have a resting metabolic rate of 1800 calories. After three months of muscle development, the rate could be increased to 2400 calories. The addition of 600 extra calories spent per day at rest trumps whatever quantity one could amount in an hour of activity.
It does not matter what you do in the hour of exercise to burn fat. What accumulates is what your body does to burn fat the other twenty-three hours of the day. Even if you were able to burn 700 calories in an hour, the intensity of the workout would be so high that your body would not even take one glance at fat cells to metabolize glucose for usable energy. As a matter of fact, the lower your heart rate is, the more your body can utilize fat stores for its various functions. So, when is your heart rate at its lowest? Well, while you sleep, of course.
Stay strong. Live long.
* Caloric expenditure can only be accurately calculated with heart rate monitoring