Andy Jones' research on beetroot juice helped Mo and other UK athletes clean up at last year's Olympic Games
Professor Andy Jones is regarded as one of the finest exercise/sports physiologists of our time. He is a world authority on endurance training, nitric oxide (especially beetroot juice), oxygen transport and was the physiologist to Paula Radcliffe when she set the WR female marathon time.
He shared his unpublished research on the use of beetroot juice to enhance performance with the British Olympic Team, who used it with many of their athletes. They cleaned up. In Olympic competition, where milliseconds separate places, some say the beetroot juice was the difference between the gold medal and sixth place. Since then he has published the data for all the world to see.
I asked him this week for his favourite reads in exercise science:
"These days I tend to focus on original research articles rather than books but I think I can name you a few (in no particular order):
Astrand and Rodahl. Textbook of Work Physiology.
Wasserman et al. Exercise Testing and Interpretation.
Jones and Poole. Oxygen Uptake Kinetics in Sport, Exercise and Medicine"
Dr Greg Haff coaching Indonesia's elite athletes
Dr Greg Haff is a world leading authority on strength training and in particular, periodization of training. He is a strength expert, researcher, author, coach and prolific author who's writings are required reading for those working in strength training.
I had dinner with him and Mark McKean a couple of months ago on the eve of our Boutagy Strength Conference, and I was impressed with the depth and range of his knowledge and the athletes he has worked with. From elite Tour de France cyclists to Olympic weightlifters, he has worked with the who's who of athletes.
I asked him if he had to pick his Top 5 Books for coaches what would they be.
- Radcliffe JC. Functional Training for Athletes at All Levels. Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press; 2007.
- Thibaudeau C. The Black Book of Training Secrets. Quebec, Canada: F.Lepine Publishing; 2006.
- Verkhoshansky YU, Verkhoshansky N. Special Strength Training Manual for Coaches. Rome, Italy: Verkhosansky STM; 2011.
- Siff MC. Supertraining. 6th ed. Denver, CO: Supertrainig Institute; 2003. (there is a newer version by Verkhoshansky but it isn't in my database)
- Brown LE, Ferrigno VA, eds. Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness. 2 ed. Champagne, IL: Human Kinetics Publishers; 2005.
Louie Simmons, author of the Westside Barbell Book of Methods
Last week I posted my top 5 (and runners up) books on Strength Training Theory. Here are my picks for books on Practical Strength Training...
In no particular order:
How to Write Strength Training Programs by Ian King
Poliquin Principles by Charles R. Poliquin
Easy Strength by Pavel and Dan John
The Westside Barbell Book of Methods by Louie Simmons
Building the Gymnastic Body by Christopher Sommer
Come to think about it, I have enjoyed all books to varying degrees written by the above authors, but this is a good place to start.
What do you get when you add slow speed eccentrics, drop sets, 1 & 1/4 technique, giant sets and the repeated method all into one program?
The answer: sore. Very very sore.
Here is a three day split hypertrophy (muscle building) program that introduces a number of different overload techniques.
They include: Slow speed eccentrics
This involves lowering the weight very slowly. In this case you only do one rep, with a very heavy weight, and lower it for 10 seconds. It is recommended you use a spotter for safety, and use multiple warm up sets. Giant sets
A super set is two exercises back to back on the same muscle group, with little to no rest between sets. A tri-set is three exercises on the same muscle group, with little to no rest between sets. A giant
set is four our more exercises back to back on the same muscle group. In this case you do five sets back to back (eg A1 – A5). Brutal. Have a bucket ready on leg day. Repeated method
A repeated tri-set for quads could look like this:
A1 Lunges, rest 10 sec
A2 Squats, rest 10 sec
A3 Lunges, rest 3 min
In other words, you repeat the lunges. This program takes that idea to the next level by incorporating a repeat of the first two exercises of the giant set. For example on day one for chest you repeat the push ups and bench press. Of course don’t expect to use anywhere near the same weight on A4 and A5 that you used on A1 and A2. Drop sets
This is were you perform a set to failure or near failure, lower the weigh, and perform another set of exactly the same exercise.
In this program you are to perform 15 reps, drop the weight, and perform another 15 reps. 1 &1/4 method
This is a simple overload technique that can be used on novices and advanced lifters alike. It means that you perform one and a quarter reps. Typically you perform the quarter at the least advantageous, or ‘hardest’ part of the lift. For example in this program for push ups, you lower down all the way to the floor, push up a quarter of the way, lower down to the floor, then push all the way up – that is one rep.
These are all separate overload techniques that ought to be used one at a time initially before they are combined in a program like this.
For example, program one focuses on 1 & ¼ technique, program two focuses on drop sets, program three focuses on tri-sets or giant sets, program four focuses on slow-speed eccentrics etc.
But if you want to jump straight into the deep end, then give this program a try for four weeks. Just don’t blame me if you can’t walk properly all month. DAY ONE – Chest and Biceps
A1. Bench press, 3 x 1 with a 10 second eccentric, rest 10 seconds
A2. Push-ups, hands elevated on dumbbells, 3 x 12-20, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
A3. Lying dumbbell press, 3 x 15+15 (drop set), rest 10 seconds
A4. Push-ups, hands elevated on dumbbells, 3 x 12-20, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
A5. Bench press, 3 x 1 with a 10 seconds eccentric, rest 180 seconds
B1. Preacher barbell curls, 3 x 1 with a 10 second eccentric, rest 10 seconds
B2. Standing reverse grip EZ bar curl, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
B3. Incline dumbbell hammer curl, 3 x 15+15 (drop set), rest 10 seconds
B4. Standing reverse grip EZ bar curl, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
B5. Preacher barbell curls, 3 x 1 with a 10 seconds eccentric, rest 180 seconds DAY TWO – Quads and Hamstrings
A1. Back squat, 3 x 1 with a 10 second eccentric, rest 10 seconds
A2. Leg press, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
A3. Leg extensions, 3 x 15+15 (drop set), rest 10 seconds
A4. Leg press, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
A5. Back squat, 3 x 1 with a 10 seconds eccentric, rest 180 seconds
B1. Standing good morning or Romanian deadlift, 3 x 1 with a 10 second eccentric, rest 10 seconds
B2. Lying leg curl, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
B3. Horizontal back extension, 3 x 15+15 (drop set), rest 10 seconds
B4. Lying leg curl, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
B5. Standing good morning or Romanian deadlift, 3 x 1 with a 10 seconds eccentric, rest 180 seconds DAY THREE – Back and Triceps
A1. Pull-ups, 3 x 1 with a 10 second eccentric, rest 10 seconds
A2. Close-parallel grip seated row, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
A3. Pulldowns to face with rope, 3 x 15+15 (drop set), rest 10 seconds
A4. Close-parallel grip seated row, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
A5. Pull-ups, 3 x 1 with a 10 seconds eccentric, rest 180 seconds
B1. Low decline close-grip bench press, 3 x 1 with a 10 second eccentric, rest 10 seconds
B2. Lying EZ bar triceps extension, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
B3. 55-degree incline high cable pushdowns, 3 x 15+15 (drop set), rest 10 seconds
B4. Lying EZ bar triceps extension, 3 x 12, 1&1/4 method, rest 10 seconds
B5. Low decline close-grip bench press, 3 x 1 with a 10 seconds eccentric, rest 180 seconds
To learn how to write programs such as these, check out the BFI Level 2 (Strength & Hypertrophy) Certification for Personal Trainers
. There are still 5 spots left for our course this Friday.
It's around this time every year, with Christmas just around the corner, that I start compiling my Summer reading list. Each year I spend all of January on the mid-north coast with family and friends. A great chance to relax, recharge and train outdoors on the bush trails and in the warm waters. I also use the time to catch up all the reading I've missed throughout the year as life became busier and busier.
With books on the mind, I thought I'd post my 'Top 5' in a few areas: practical strength training, general nutrition, sports nutrition and today, strength training theory. Feel free to comment if you'd like my picks in other areas. It is, of course, extremely difficult to narrow down favourite books in any field, and I'm sure I'll miss some, but here goes:
Strength Training Theory.
5. Block Periodization 2: Fundamentals Concepts & Training Design by Vladamir Issurin
4. Fitness and Strength Training by Jurgen Hartmann and Harold Tunneman.
3. Science of Sports Training by Thomas Kurz
2. Supertraining by Yuri Verkoshansky and Mel Siff
1. Science and Practice of Strength Training, 1st edition by Vladimir Zatsiorsky
Notable runner ups:
Strength and Power in Sports, edited by Paavo Komi
Periodization by Bompa and Haff
Designing Resistance Training Programs by Fleck and Kraemer
Strength and Conditioning by Cardinale, Newton and Nosaka
So you're getting ready for summer, and you want a fat loss program for the gym, right?
Well here is the program to end all programs.
The challenge is: can you get through it?
My fittest and most experienced clients have seriously struggled.
Here is the program:
Take four bang for your buck exercises (two lower body, two upper body) and perform them in a circuit with 30 seconds rest in between. Take 3 seconds to lower the weight and lift it explosively on each exercise.
Rest 2.5 minutes at the end of each circuit. Do four total circuits.
Pretty simple so far?
What about the reps, you say?
Well, here's where it gets interesting.
The first round through, use a 10RM. The second round through, use a drop set method using a 12RM + 12RM. The third round through, use a 15RM, and the final round use a drop set method using 20RM +20RM.
RM stands for Repetition Maximum. So 10RM means a weight that you can lift with perfect form 10 times, but could not do an eleventh rep.
12RM + 12RM means use a weight that you can lift for 12 reps (but not 13), then quickly drop the weight (strip the bar or grab lighter dumbbells) so that you can push out another 12 reps.
Below is the exact workout I have been using with one of my star clients. Perform each program on non-consecutive days. My guess is you will only be able to handle two sessions like this per week.
A1. Full barbell back squat
A2. Incline barbell press
A3. Deadlift, clean grip, straps allowed if necessary
A4. Medium parallel grip pulldowns
A1. Trap bar deadlift or leg press
A2. Standing overhead barbell press
A3. Kettlebell swing
A4. Medium pronated grip seated row
Set 1: 10RM
Set 2: 12RM + 12RM (drop set)
Set 3: 15 RM
Set 4: 20RM + 20RM (drop set)
30 seconds rest between A1-A3 and 2.5 minutes rest after A4.
If I could put my success as a trainer and coach down to one thing (other than my rugged good looks and smooth charm of course) it would be that I spent a great deal of the early part of my career learning how to write programs.
My earliest and best mentor was Dr Russell Carrington. I would ask him for copies of the programs he wrote his clients. I would take them home and study them, trying to work out why he chose this exercise, that rep range, that body part split.
I have honed my skill at program writing over the years because I noticed that it works to keep clients. Personal training clients are much smarter than many of us give them credit for, and when they work out that you aren’t writing systematic, thought-out training programs, they will leave you and find someone who does.
One of the reasons PTs feel the need to use ‘entertainment’ training for their clients is that they don’t know how to write programs. By instead using a wide variety of equipment (speed ladders, Vipers, BOSUs, etc) trainers manage to hold onto clients by keeping the sessions novel week after week.
Standing on a BOSU is certainly entertaining
The problem with that (other than the obvious issue that this is not in the best interest of the client) is you simply can’t keep coming up with novel entertainment training past the first year of training. I have had some clients for 18 years. To keep these clients I have progressed them through years of systematic programs.
When you know how to write proper programs, you have no need to entertain clients. Clients don’t want to be entertained, they want results. They want to see progress. They want to see their weights go up (which means you have to record their weights). They also appreciate it when you show them your plan for them.
One of my earlier mentors and now long time friend Dr Mark McKean and I were discussing this subject when he was down in Sydney for the 2013 Boutagy Strength & Hypertrophy Conference.
If we are going to talk training Olympic Athletes, then Mark has done it all – he has trained medalists at World Championship and Olympic level in 28 different sports. At the conference, he so graciously gave us an insight into what it takes to write programs for elite athletes: he walked us through 12 month’s worth of programs for one of his elite kayakers as he prepared for the national championships. This gave attendees a valuable insight into the thought and practise required for long term programming.
There is a saying in strength & conditioning circles that paraphrased goes something like: anyone can smash a client, but not everyone can write a program that improves performance.
Now PTs certainly don’t need to understand the intricacies of strength programs for elite athletes. Writing programs for general population clients can be far simpler than that.
S&C coaches need to consider skill training for their sport, tapering, peaking for competition. PTs don’t need to worry about any of that when training general population.
In probably 90% of cases, your clients are after body composition changes. Whether they say they want to get ‘buffed’, ‘ripped’, ‘jacked’, or ‘toned’, ‘lean’ or simply ‘lose weight’ what they mean is they want to lose some fat and potentially gain some muscle.
In the other 10% of cases they want to get stronger.
So once you have learned how to write basic programs for general physical preparedness (GPP), all you need to learn is how to program for:
1. Fat loss,
2. Hypertrophy, and
3. Maximal strength.
If you do this successfully, you will book yourself solid with clients, because you will be able to get results, and word will spread. It really is that simple.
The BFI Level 2 Certification for Personal Trainers has two streams that teach exactly that.
Both of these are coming up: the Level 2 Strength & Hypertrophy is on 21-23 November 2013
and the Level 2 Fat Loss is on 6-8 December 2013
is not a prerequisite, but it is certainly assumed knowledge. If you are considering enrolling in one of the Level 2 courses but are unsure about whether you have the assumed knowledge, contact email@example.com
to discuss your situation.
Personal trainers on average spend two sessions per week with a fat loss client. This means that it is in the client's best interest for the trainer to use the most efficient, effective and bang-for-your-buck training methods to take the client towards his or her goals.
When we run our courses and workshops in gyms and health clubs around the country, I often see box jumps and other plyometrics used by PTs training general population clients for fat loss.
The question must be asked whether this is optimal use of the client's time.
In this video I address my approach to the use of plyometrics for general population fat loss clients, and the reasons why.
I am often asked whether it is possible to overtrain.
The answer is, absolutely. Ian King
, who is speaking for us at the Boutagy Strength & Hypertrophy Conference this Friday
, has strong opinions
on overtraining for athletes.
Here is my two cents when working with general population clients:
A seminar attendee asked me recently about a client of his who spends 3-4 hours in the gym training every day, and wanted to know whether she was overtraining.
It is clearly a psychological issue if a person is spending 3-4 hours in the gym without a performance goal in mind. Of course athletes would do that. But if it is not performance related and it is about body image then we are entering the world psychology. So, in that respect that girl absolutely has the possibility to over-train.
Now there are two questions here:
1. Is it possible to do too much training relatively to one's fitness level?
And then the next question which is more common:
2. Is it possible to do too much training and expend too much energy based on how much energy you're bringing in?
Let’s look at question 2, because that's what usually goes wrong with girls such as our friend’s client. Now it doesn’t happen very often with athletes because they are smart when it comes to their nutrition. Athletes know that if you're going to drive out 3,000 calories from training, you've got to bring in 3,000 calories extra from food otherwise you cannot train the next day. Athletes have worked this out, but the general public haven’t. In other words they've got no idea how much they expend in one hour of exercise but they still eat 1200 calories.
There is a popular weight loss program in Australia at the moment which puts females on 1,200 calorie diets, who are then encouraged to exercise 5-6 times per week.
Let’s take a look at that.
Take Sophie, an imaginary participant in this program. Sophie is 68 kilograms and 30% bodyfat, which means her resting metabolic rate, or the energy her body needs to survive without taking into account physical activity, is around 1,400 calories per day.
Now when you are walking or running, how much you expend in calories is basically how much you weigh multiplied by the distance in kilometres. This is a fairly accurate rule of thumb.
So let’s say Sophie walks briskly 6km in one hour. She will have expended:
68kg multiplied by 6km = 408 calories.
Now in the hour, she would have already expended 60 calories from metabolism because we all expend about 1-1.2 calories a minute while you're at rest so you deduct that, so it's about 348 calories.
Now lets say she didn’t walk but ran the 12 Ks in an hour, which is not uncommon, then she is now burning 756 calories in the hour.
If Sophie is doing 3 runs and 3 walks per week, she will have created a 3,312 caloie deficit from exercise for the week. Add to that her 200 daily deficit from diet and she is averaging only 526 available calories per day to run her body. Remember, her RMR is 1,400.
Now 3 runs and 3 walks per week is by no means excessive. In fact ACSM guidelines
recommend 45-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise most days, so our imaginary friend Sophie is actually coming in just under that.
So, if question is “can you do too much training based on your current fitness levels?”, the answer is yes it is possible, and athletes do this sometimes. Ian King is an expert on this because he has worked with hundreds of elite athletes over 8 Olympic cycles, and we will hear his take on it on Friday.
But if the question is “is it possible to do too much exercise based on how much energy intake you're doing?” the answer is a resounding absolutely
because virtually every non-athlete who competes in marathons, triathlons, cycling and any physique sports like body building, figure shaping, fitness competitor - they're all energy deficit.
Now, if you do that repeatedly, the body is very clever and it will lower resting metabolic rate, it's no longer a 600 calorie deficit, it's a 300 calorie deficit.
How long does it take for your body to slow down metabolism in reaction to low energy availability?
Just 3-5 days.
So while it is essential to create an energy deficit if you want to lose fat, it is equally important that the deficit isn't too large that you slow down metabolism.
This is a tricky balance that is made easier with the use of heart rate monitors and food tracking apps such as Calorie King and My Fitness Pal. We cover how to achieve an optimal deficit for fat loss without ruining your metabolism in detail in the BFI Level 2 (Fat Loss) Certification for Personal Trainers
Leg extensions before squats? Ian King would...
If you have spent any length of time on the internet reading fitness articles, you will no doubt have come across T-Nation
, or what was formerly called Testorsterone Magazine.
Back in the late 1990s there were two writers whose innovative and revolutionary ideas dominated the website. One was Charles Poliquin
. The other was Ian King
Many people don’t realize the debt of gratitude we as strength training enthusiasts owe to Ian King. Much of what we now take for granted was essentially created, or at least popularized, by him. My program writing
was heavily influenced by his methods – such ideas as single limb training, reverse sequencing, tempo prescription (I’ll let Ian and Charles fight it out for who popularized that one!), prioritisation, planes of movement patterns (hip dominant - deadlift, knee dominant - squat, vertical pushing/pulling, horizontal pushing/pulling), and program balance were taken from his work.
A few of his innovative ideas were showcased in his ‘Limping into …’ articles from 1999
I highly recommend personal trainers and anyone interested in strength training take a look
at these programs.
Students who have taken the BFI Level 2 (Strength & Hypertrophy)
know that we start our first of 8 workouts for the course with a reverse sequence program with ideas similar to this.
The concept behind a reverse sequence workout is that you vary the training impact by performing isolated exercises before compound.
A traditional leg program would start the day with squats and end with leg extensions
In Ian’s Limping Into October, he starts with leg extensions and finishes with squats.
Taking the idea further, reverse sequencing can be used to emphasize smaller muscle groups. The sequence in which exercises are performed is important for training induced adaptation: those muscles trained earlier in the workout receive the best training stimulus. So for example, you would train your calves and dorsiflexors first in the session, followed by hamstrings, and then, finally quadriceps.
I would typically use a reverse sequence program once or twice a training year with each client.
Here is an example of a reverse sequence program for the upper body.
As Ian says, remember that you need to leave your ego at the front door when trying this type of program. By the time you get to the incline bench press, you will be flat out lifting the bar if you have performed the rest of the program correctly!