As strong as your weakest link

As most of my summer is spent outside with the strongman and hockey trainings, I feel my best especially in that time of the year (who wouldn’t). I love the hot weather and I guess my energy level is proportional to the amount of vitamin D that comes in. Although I love to train, I think throughout the years I have developed training ADD. If my trainings aren’t interesting, my motivation won’t be up to par. Recently, I stumbled upon Dan John’s book, never let go. Turns out that it was exactly what I needed. If I had to summarize the message I learned from it,  it would be do whatever the fuck you want and whatever needs to be done to improve yourself. Don’t get hold up by what you have learned in the past because even though science backs it up, doesn’t mean it will work all the time. I Just felt like kicking it old school. After 20 years of training every possible trick in the book, tweaking programs, listening and learning as much as possible from every possible coach out there, I have developed a keen sense of smelling bullshit, and also am fed up of technical shit (yes, I said it). I gave my fare share of tempo but sometimes, just doing reps and lifting for fun once in a while, not for sense and technicality, makes a happy me.

No I still won’t do zumba or crossfit, nor P90x or the brazilian butt lift. My problem was time and efficiency. I don’t have an hour to train most of the time and if I catch myself thinking that unless I have plenty of time, I rather not train, I’ll just do that. Since I am a trainer and I strongly believe that you are your own business card, I try not to listen to my brainfarts and still bust my ass in the gym. What I decided to do is pick two exercise that I don’t like (read hate) or something that I needed to improve on and work on it, non stop for a given time. Before you go on and do some squats and deadlifts in supersets, you need to still keep some sense into your workouts. Since it summer time, anst still want to keep the shredded look, I decided to do a type of advanced german bodycomposition which the concept was designed by Poliquin. However, for this one, I chose a rep range, and stuck to it for a given time, which this week was 45 minutes, with only 60 to 75 minutes between each exercises. The trick is to choose exercises that you want to improve, the strength, techniques or just your love hate situation with it.

Here is how I did it…

Day 1

A1 fat dog bone pull ups X max out, rest one minute

All the muscles that were sore for the next 3 days

A2 Front squats x 5-6 reps, rest one minute and repeat for 45 minutes

I can’t say I hate pull ups but I can’t say I love them either. However, recently I bought some new toys to spice up mytrainings (and obviously, my clients as well) and it was just what I needed to love pullups again. The cool thing about improving your grip is that it will help you increase almost every lift. After doing pull ups for a couple of weeks with the rogue fitness balls grip, I went from doing 12-14 maxout pullups at bodyweight (with the most perfect technique, counting 3010 as a tempo) I can now do more than 15 reps. Since I am a bit perfectionist, I decided to improve it a bit more and use the fat dog bone. To my delight, it is freakin’ impossible to hold a grip on that thing so you have to use totally different grip (overhand grip, with the palm of your hand over the ball) which uses wrist flexors at the same time as you destroy every single finger flexors as well. Since every rep was almost impossible to hold, it was a single for every 5 reps I did because I had to replace my hands and grip the bone properly at every single rep. As for the front squats, I loved them but always wanted to increase my strength. After years of back squats, judo and jiu jitsu, my neck is a tad under the weather and have to go easy on the squats, or else my neck can’t hold my head. What else can improve your front squats than doing more than 10 sets per workout….of front squats.

The fat dog bone

Day 2

A1 incline benchpress x8, 60 seconds rest
A2 romanian deadlift on podium x8, 60 seconds rest and repeat for 45 minutes

Nothing too complicated. I neglected the incline presses for a while and it was the perfect time to get into it. To tweak it a bit, I put the pins to colar bone level and started from a dead stop at every repetition. I also neglected the deadlifts for while so it is a part of every training of mine since may. The podium adds a great stretch. As a general rule for all the workouts, aim to uuse a weight for the full 45 minutes which should represent a bit more than 60-70 of you 1 rep max. The goal is to push beyond, not be comfortable.

Day 3

A1 Dumbell skull crusher x8 no rest
A2 leg press calf raise
30 seconds rest
A3 supinated grip chin ups x10 no rest
A4 leg press calf raise
30 seconds rest and repeat for 35 minutes

Due to a schedule conflict, I only had 35 minutes but I guess 45 minutes would be doable for this workout, but 35 minutes was plenty enough due to short rest and the calves in between made this workout gut wrenching. I was flying on the chin ups but by the 20 minute mark, I switched to the neutral grip to keep the reps as close as possible to 10 reps instead of just doing less. My forearms where still trashed beyond belief from monday’s fat dog bone workout and I did day 3 on thursday.

Again, training does not have to be complicated. Although this workout would be good to use for great exercises you like, the point is the higher number of sets and the complete peace of mind makes this kind of practice perfect. Most of the exercise we dislike are just boring or let’s face it, we suck at them. So using a lighter weight but doing set after set forces adaptation. With adaptation comes strength and a better technique. It’s all about gains! Next week, I dare you to try it out and use exercise you suck at or that you want to improve. I dare you…

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