Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 2: Munich, Germany

imageLast weekend I had the chance to attend the Progressive Calisthenics Certification seminar hosted by Al and Danny Kavadlo in Munich.

For those of you not in the know, the Kavadlo brothers are arguably the most well-known calisthenics instructors on the planet.

Al especially has written several books on the topic of advanced bodyweight training for strength, and both of them have been featured in the bestselling Convict Conditioning series (you can see them on the cover of CC2 to the left).

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Strength & Conditioning World Tour 2014 – Part 1: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Most guys would probably describe their ideal vacation as a combination of sun, sea, surfing and leisurely sipping pina coladas on the beach while mingling with scantily clad young ladies.

Well, I’m not most people.

I’m a geek.

So I decided to dedicate this summer to traveling to far away places like Ljubljana, Slovenia to hear one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the US, Eric Cressey, talk about shoulder performance and lower extremity mobility as I did with my buddy Teemu Mäki this past weekend.

Mandatory seminar pic with EC.

Mandatory seminar pic with EC.

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Good Reads of the Month: March 2014

It’s that time of the month again when I’m dishing out a few good articles I’ve stumbled upon on other sites. Here are four good reads for the month of March.

• The Rules of Productive Weight Training for The Drug-Free Trainee by Casey Butt

Quite likely the most comprehensive, right on the money article ever written for the natural strength trainee.

Instead of wasting your employer’s time and money by killing your brain cells while mindlessly idling away the afternoon on social media, do something productive in the office and read this post.

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8 Random Thoughts on Strength Training

Dmitriy Klokov of Russia celebrates in tI recently had the chance to attend a two-day weightlifting seminar hosted by a former World Champion weightlifter.

Each of the seminar days began with a short 30-45 minute lecture after which we proceeded to the hands-on section of the event.

Many ideas the host presented resonated with me because of their simplicity and similarity to my training philosophy that I try to pass on to my trainees.

Much of what I’m listing in this post and writing about on this blog in general is very basic stuff but in my experience, very little of that is typically applied in the modern gym setting, so let’s get down to the basics again.

1. Strength Is a Skill

Strength, especially in a sport like weightlifting, is a skill.

I know this ain’t a revolutionary thought by any stretch of imagination, but you’d be surprised by how many guys still don’t grok this concept.

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15 Literary Sleeping Pills

homer-sleepRecovery is extremely underrated when it comes to training.

Everybody is more worried about finding the perfect training program that will magically boost their results in the gym when the simplest way to better performance is jacking up the hours spent between the sheets.

I’m a minimalist in many facets of life but when it comes to sleep, less is definitely not more.

Too many nights of less than stellar sleep and my ability to function like a normal human being is on par with the zombies in a George A. Romero flick.

In my opinion, the key to a good night’s sleep is catching the train to Slumberville ASAP. If you’re dozing off within minutes of hitting the sack, chances are you won’t have any recollection of falling asleep when you wake up in the morning, which is a sign you hit a deep state of sleep.

Then again, toss and turn around for an hour counting lambs before finally getting some shut-eye, and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t feel energized when the alarm clock goes off the next morning.

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How to Warm Up for Peak Performance – Part 1

ivan-stoitsovNot many people realize this but implementing a smart warm-up protocol before lifting weights could easily help you increase performance and get more out of your workouts in the gym.

The two biggest mistakes people make when warming up for a strength training session is a) they skip it or b) they overdo it.

Newsflash: Floating around on the elliptical for 15 minutes while reading US Weekly is not a very useful primer for lifting heavy stuff.

Neither is performing a few arm circles and leg swings, then proceeding to load a barbell with the heaviest weights you can handle three minutes after you have walked in through the gym doors.

A proper warm up should get your core temperature up to the point where you’re sweating, it should lubricate the joints, prime the nervous system for the upcoming working sets and it should both activate and pump up the muscles.

One thing you should remember is that you don’t want to kill yourself during the warm-up, thus sapping your energy before the actual workout has begun but you also shouldn’t be afraid of a little pre-fatigue to the point where you’re simply going through the motions and getting no real benefit of what you’re doing.

In this article we’ll take a look at how to setup an intelligent warm-up plan, which will allow you to lift more weight while decreasing the risk of injury. I’ve broken the protocols into upper/lower templates, because many of our clients follow upper/lower training programs.

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Research Corner March 2014 – How Many Sets Should You Perform for Optimal Strength Gains?

Side note: This article contains excerpts from my book Next Level Strength Training.

When it comes to designing strength training programs, there are only a handful of variables you can change. These variables include (among others):

• How many repetitions you perform

• How often you train

• Which exercises you choose

• How many sets you do

• Whether you perform a full range of motion in the movement or only partials

• The speed with which you perform an exercise

Training volume, intensity and frequency are all interdependent factors. Generally speaking, the lower your training intensity, the more volume you need in order to reap rewards and vice versa. Likewise, when frequency is high (i.e. daily training or multiple training sessions per day), intensity and volume can't remain high for long periods of time as this will compromise the body's ability to recover, leading to plateaued or even diminished strength levels and possibly overtraining.

In this installment of the Research Corner, I'll try and boil down what really constitutes effective training parameters for the natural, non-gifted strength trainee with the goal of strength and hypertrophy gains as far as the amount of total sets is concerned.

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