Wednesday, July 28, 2010

10 things every sound training program should have - Part Douche

6.  A proper warm up - This might sound too simple or even 1970ish (I still think of people in bright pink and blue tights with headbands on when I hear the term "warm up") but it's an important part of kicking off your training.  A general warm up to get you sweating, then the usual warm ups on the movement you are about to perform.  I used to not think much about warming up but I have come to realize just how important a solid warm up is.  Waking up your nervous system and getting the joints lubed up are critical in having a top shelf training session.  I don't really care what you do to get warm, but take 10 minutes out from the time you get into the gym to do the treadmill or walk or even go through a stretching routine.  Getting your joints greased and your nervous system primed before a training session has tremendous benefits.  You'll "wake up" better for the workout and reduce your chance of injury.  

7.  Bodyweight movements - To me, there is something about bodyweight movements that has benefits that are often hard to describe.  When I spend a ton of time doing bodyweight movements I find I get less dinged up, feel better from a mobility standpoint, look better, and feel fresh (not in a Massengill way dammit) most of the time.  When I train people I use a lot of difficult bodyweight movements like speed skater squats, chins, dips, suspended push ups, etc.  In my opinion bodyweight movements are the perfect compliment to your loaded bar work.  You've probably never heard anyone talk about getting overtrained from bodyweight stuff, and yet you can get big and strong as hell doing it.  Second, it's also a great equalizer.  I find most guys don't do chins.  Especially the "strong" guys who are well, fat guys.  If you're strong, you should be able to do some damn chin ups/pull ups.  For reps AND weighted.  If you can't, you're too fat or too weak, or both.    

8.  A plan for stagnation or lack of progress - This one is less difficult than people make it out to be.  Once you hit a wall you have a few choices....  

-  Keep training through it - I've done this before.  Few and far between has it ever turned out to be a good idea.
- Reset everything - Take the weight you have been using and reduce it by 5-10% and start over.  Reramping if you will.  This works very well.
- Take a week off.  This has generally been my preferred choice.  Mentally, I like getting away from the weights long enough that I start to crave lifting again.  I only have to do this a few times a year but it works for me.

Everyone is different so everyone will gravitate to different methods here.  Some guys are hard headed and like to keep banging their head against the wall to see if it will break down (their head or the wall I suppose).  This works for some guys, and not so well for others.  I found it to be less than ideal for me.  I found that a lot of my injuries came when I went too long not being able to break past a plateau, and kept pushing hard.  The times when I was smart (which are few and far between) I would back off the weight or just take a week off and start over lighter.  Generally I would break past a sticking point that way.  

I remember being stuck in a rut for a decent period when I was around 16 or 17.  None of my lifts had moved in months and I was very frustrated.  I ended up with a stomach bug and did the technicolor yawn for a few days, lost weight, and couldn't lift.  It took about a week and a half before I could get back to the gym.  To my surprise I broke tons of PR's the very first week of training.  Even at a lower bodyweight.  The reason why was fairly simple.  I was simply burnt out, needed to recover, and once that happened the strength I had been training for came to the surface.  Recovery is incredibly underrated in training, so when things are going wrong for weeks on it, shut it down, start back slow again and you'll most likely move past your old numbers.  

This topic relates to the other topic about deloads (I said there would be overlap) in a way.  Just remember, every routine is going to need an ebb and flow to it, and part of that ebb and flow is knowing what to do when stagnation sets in.    

9.  A 2:1 pull to push ratio - This one is pretty easy.  Do twice as many reps for your pulling as you do for pushing.  Some guys think this is the number of exercises but it's really about workload.  If you do bench and do 100 reps on it that day, and you then do pulldowns and rows for a total of 50 reps, you're still behind even though you did a 2:1 ratio in terms of pulling to pushing.  Just make sure you do twice as many, or near twice as many, reps for pulling as you do for your pushing.  There are a zillion reasons why you should do this from shoulder health, to posture, to lower and upperback health on and on and on.  Either way, just keep track of it and do your best to meet that standard.  It doesn't have to be all rowing and chins either.  Bent laterals and band pull aparts work well in this regard too.

10.  Balance - This isn't just about your training routine, but about life in general.  Obsessing over the gym and meals and supplements can and will eventually reek havoc on your life.  I know I've been there.  I still love to lift just as much as I ever did, but I don't live by the clock eating every 2.5555 hours, making sure every meal has so many grams of protein in it, obsessing for weeks over my lack of arm size, not taking jobs because I thought it would interfere with my lifting, etc.  I smartened up of course.  I quit sweating that shit and started living life.  I've had guys tell me they turned down sex because they thought it would effect their workout in a negative way.  This is retarded on a degree that is hard to comprehend.  

Look, if you are preparing for a bodybuilding show I know for a few months you will have to dig down and sacrifice.  If you are training for the NFL combine or training camp or for an MMA fight you have months where everything else has to take a backseat to training for a while.  This is a part of balance too.  However, if you are just a guy or gal who lifts and doesn't compete, yet live your gym life like you are competing you are slightly mental.  And this is coming from a guy that is squatting with a torn bicep and that arm in a sling.  

You get one life.  Live an interesting life.  Do interesting things.  Lifting is not that interesting in the grand scheme of things.  If you have a chance to go somewhere you've never been, and it's a once in a lifetime thing and you turn it down because you don't want to miss lifting for that week, you are a F'n moron and should have your ass kicked 6 ways till Sunday.  Lifting will always be there.  Don't miss out on the interesting things in life for some iron on the bar.  One of the best things I ever read in that regard was from Keith Wassung.  He said he had a squat session planned but his little girl came to him and asked him if he would have a tea party with her.  He went and had the tea party.  Why?  Because spending time with his flesh and blood was far more important than any squat session.  That, is balance.  Make sure you have it in your training and life.  Because your training will improve with balance, not regress.


  1. Soooo.. If you take these 10 aspects, the first thing that comes to mind is: 5/3/1, moving north of vag, jim wendler.


    Mark From Holland

  2. Well that's because Jim is always ripping me off..........

  3. And there I go thinking he stole everything from Matt kroc:)

  4. I don't know if this will be answered since it an old post but i'll try.

    With resetting 5-10 % do you suggest keeping the reps about the same and leaving more in the tank for a few sessions or also upping the reps and keep pushing but with lighter weight?

    great blog btw, keep up the good work!

    thanks in advance,

  5. If you reset it 10% the reps should be higher, even if you're leaving 1 in the tank.