Building strength is not complicated, in fact it is pretty simple. Simple doesn’t equal easy though and with the unlimited amounts of information available to us, the shiny object syndrome pulls our efforts from pillar to post distracting us from what is going to most easily make sustainable strength progress.
The 4 steps (or tips) I’m about to lay out will get you stronger than you ever thought possible – as simple as they sound. If you are straying too far from these steps then you are potentially holding back your progress, over-complicating things and denying yourself the results that you both crave and deserve.
Now let’s get stuck straight into these steps which I have ranked in order of importance so that you can implement them right away.
The Single Arm Row is my favourite upper body pulling exercise. By having your feet square and 3rd point of contact through your non-working arm, you can create a really stable position to lift heavy weights. It is for everyone, there is only a very low body awareness required to be able to perform this movement safely. You need minimal equipment too, a dumbbell and then something sturdy to lean on and you are good to go. This exercise gets your core working hard to brace and to resist rotation, you will feel it in your oblique’s the next day if you work hard to resist excess rotation. With 3 points of contact for support, you are really able to isolate your big pulling muscles of the back and arms. It will also raise awareness of any side to side deficiencies.
The box jump is a great introductory plyometric and power exercise. It is growing increasingly popular but is often done poorly or with inappropriate and excessive risk. Once you have mastered a bodyweight squat and can control your body through the full range you are able to progress to introductory plyometric like the box jump. The focus should be on controlling the landing before progressing to jumping onto higher boxes. The box jump forces the muscles of the lower body to work together rapidly to develop the force to get you flying into the air. This makes it great for power development, speed of movement and for intermuscular co-ordination (how well your muscles cooperate).
It is easy to cling onto certain ideas and let our biases shape what we do. This is particularly true when it comes to training for strength. We can end up on a very narrow and focused path and if we just take a step back to look at the bigger picture we might notice that we add or exclude certain things which aren’t necessary or even helpful for our original goals.
I’ll share 5 of the things that I see people with the goal of getting stronger clinging on to which are not necessary and sometimes even detrimental.
The more you can dig down into the why of your goal - Why do you want to get stronger?
Why have you chosen these particular lifts to define your strength?
Then the easier it becomes to guide how you go about achieving that. Remember you are individual and you have your own motivations for doing what you do, you can set your own path and don’t have to get stuck to the ideas that others have had before you.
Keep reading to find out 5 of the things you thought where non-negotiable when it comes to get stronger but you might actually be better off without.
In this week’s blog I’ll share 5 of the most common fallacies I come across when it comes to diet and fat loss. These ideas or pre-conceptions bias our opinions and give us a reduced sense of confidence in actually being able to make a change in our body. Normally we latch onto extreme ideas which are hard to shake off and these misconceptions can cause our efforts to be focused in the wrong areas or set us up with poor expectations on what we can or should achieve. Some of these have been around for years, have been continually debunked but yet still stick around. It just serves to highlight that you should question what you believe, try to figure out why you believe it or where the original idea came from. Hopefully dispelling some of these myths will help make things a bit clearer and make the path to your success a little easier.
In this blog I’ll share 5 benefits of Olympic Weightlifting that are either unique or at least more apparent than for other forms of weight training or exercise. As usual, these benefits are multi-faceted and extend beyond simply physical benefits to psychological and social.
The aim of this is not to tell you that you should try or take up Olympic Weightlifting but merely to share the benefits and give you some insight so that you can make the decision yourself if it is right for you. Like any high-skill movement, Olympic Weightlifting should be performed with the expert guidance of a coach. In-person is always better but there is guidance, tutorials and advice available online which means if you aren’t able to find a local coach then there are still options to get involved.
The Bench Press is probably the single exercise that most people who have set foot in a gym have performed. That said, it is often done poorly or without much thought. Read on to find out some key tips and to see if it is something that will benefit you. It doesn’t require a great deal of mobility or pre-requisite strength. If you can lift the bar in a control manner for the bench press then you are ready to get started. As it is so effective, it should form a staple movement in just about every gym program. It effectively works the pushing muscles of the upper body and is probably one of the best all round upper body exercises. You can use it to build strong chest, shoulders and triceps and is particularly useful to help build up the strength to do a pushup or to make them feel even easier.
The Bent Over Row is a major upper body pulling compound exercise. It’s easily performed with a barbell the muscles in the upper back like the lats and rhomboids as well as the biceps and forearms. As far as skill goes, this row is pretty simply to get to grips with. The toughest part generally for beginners is simply maintaining and holding the bent over position. When this is the limiting factor, I’d use simpler more supported variations of the row while working on the hip hinge position and strength through the hips and back. Requiring minimal equipment, the Bent Over Row is effective in building a strong back that will serve as your solid base for benching from, will help with developing the strength to bang out those chin-ups you have been working on and will generally strengthen those often neglected and dormant postural muscles of the back.
If your goal is to look more toned, more defined or reduce your bodyweight for health purposes then you need to focus on fat loss as the outcome. This week I’ll share 5 of my top diet tips for shedding that excess body-fat. The primary determining factor with any diet goal is adherence – Can you actually stick to what you have planned? Personally, I think the biggest reason why most people fail to get the results they are after is because they focus their efforts in the wrong places and then become demotivated when they don’t succeed. If you apply these 5 tips then I’m confident that you will set yourself up successfully for losing body-fat, no matter how you choose to approach it. Layer on general principles like eating slowly, eating slightly smaller portions than you would normally choose and adding more green vegetables to your plate then losing fat should become simple and seem like less of a chore.
The Barbell Deadlift is undoubtedly one of the best all-round gym exercises however it gets a bad name as we all know someone who has hurt their back doing it! With a bit of know-how or guidance and some attention to detail you can master your technique and keep making safe, low risk strength gains. It gets your full body working in co-ordination to generate really high force outputs. It effectively trains the lower body, particularly the hamstrings and glutes. It gets your core working hard to keep tight and transfer the force you generate from the ground to the bar. You are normally able to use the most amount of weight so there is the potential to create a huge hormonal stimulus and accelerate the rest of your strength work.
Allan Young is a Glasgow based Personal Training who runs Strength Coach Glasgow and is a 4x Scottish Champion Olympic Weightlifter.