Success Factors for Fitness and Health: Free Download

Hey everyone!!

I’m excited to announce that I’m offering my health guide, Success Factors of Health, as FREE to DOWNLOAD for anyone looking to improve their health and performance, both inside and out of the gym.

In the guide, you will find the four success factors you need to optimize daily to better achieve the health and fitness you are looking to reach.

They are simple, yet difficult in practice to accomplish, so I’ll go in detail through each one and present facts about each factor, and methods to better achieve reaching each one adequately.

To download my SUCCESS FACTORS of HEALTH guide, click HERE.

As always, thank you for stopping by, and if not a subscriber please subscribe.

Until next time be strong and be you!

Best,

Cody

Stop Making EXCUSES! JUST SHOW UP! (RANT)

Image result for excuses meme working out

“EXCUSES EQUALS NON-PERFORMANCE.”

That is what my Mom told me when I was a kid when I didn’t do my homework.

That same principle applies to working out and eating right to be in the shape you want.

EXCUSES = NON-PERFORMANCE

Simple.

Excuses kill your progress and they will only stop your fitness goals from happening: losing weight, gaining muscle, building endurance, improving aesthetics, increasing body mobility and functionality, etc.

This is why you have to be real with yourself about things by setting clear priorities, being self-disciplined, and honest with yourself and the effort that you are putting in.

I’m not here to be Tony Robins and give you the motivational “pep talk” to get you off your ass and in the gym.

What I am saying is that EXCUSES KILL the shape and level of health you want to be in.

Period.

Saying things like…

  • I’m too tried
  • I had to work late
  • I had to do this thing for my friend
  • I’m too sore
  • I had to run errands
  • I haven’t ate today

…are all excuses that lead to no progress and no results.

And, look. I get it. Sometimes things do come up that take precedent over working out or training, and you can’t go to the gym and get your work in. I’m not talking about those things because most of those things that do take precedent, like a family emergency, a car breaking down, an injury, the storm of the century, etc., rarely come up.

What I am talking about are your EVERYDAY EXCUSES that you tell yourself to make you believe that it is “OKAY” not to go to the gym or just be physically active.

THIS IS THE PROBLEM.

This “PUTTING THINGS OFF” because of A, B, or C only leads to more and more of not doing instead of doing.

THIS LEADS TO POOR HABITS AND DISCIPLINE THAT MAKE CONSISTENCY – THE NUMBER 1 INGREDIENT FOR HEALTH AND FITNESS – ELUSIVE.

This results in no positive change and progress to achieve the health and fitness you want.

IF YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME MAKE TIME.

Cut the goofing off, looking at social media, watching TV, or whatever else you do that makes you procrastinate, and not workout and get the work that you need to get in done.

Structure your day better by organizing and prioritizing what matters and what doesn’t. Block out a specific time that you need to work out. If you’re really busy change your workout routine to circuits to be more efficient with your time instead of having 3 hour long workouts. Begin prepping your meals for the day, or week, to stop you from eating-out several times a week to avoid poor decisions and decision fatigue.

You have got to PRIORITIZE things in your life that lead to GOOD LIFESTYLE HABITS that make decisions like working out or eating healthy a “NO-BRAINER” decision because it’s built into your everyday lifestyle.

Ultimately, if our bodies do not function like they should everything in our life starts to break down. If you have a job that makes you work 12 hour days and exhausts you maybe that is not for you. Or, maybe you need to be more disciplined with your time and cut out the nonsense so you have time to workout and eat healthy. Again, prioritizing and organizing is what matters, and it starts by cutting out the excuses.

We only have one body, so why not optimize our body to the best of our abilities to be in good health and shape that we want? There is no reason not to, so you have got to MAKE HEALTH A PRIORITY.

This will help our day-to-day energy levels, maintaining a healthy weight and metabolism, and decrease our risk of developing chronic diseases when we make OUR HEALTH a priority instead of an afterthought.

Do what you need to do, and get it done.

You can make all the excuses in the world, but, at the end of the day, if you do not put in the work that you need to do no results and progress will come.

  • The weight you want to lose will not happen.
  • The muscle you want to put on will not be there.
  • The level of shape and health that you are seeking will not be there.

To perform at our best our body demands good physical health. Pulling all-nighters and sacrificing sleep does not equal optimal performance. Neither does choosing fast-food because it is convenient.

And, listen…

I’m not saying you cannot get the work that you need to get in when you are tired or if you’re surviving on a Ramen noodle diet. Based on the society we live in and lifestyles most of us have — fast-paced with a short attention span causing poor sleep, high stress, and unhealthy food — things like that become “normal”. What I am saying, however, is that being consistently tired, not eating right and not being physically active is going to catch up to you eventually, and your body will suffer for it (me included).

For example, you may notice when your health starts to break-down you begin to experience abnormal things, such as brain fog, digestive issues, poor complexion, frequent colds/runny nose, weight-gain, muscle atrophy, and a host of other minor ailments. If not addressed and action taken to resolve or mitigate these issues, it will likely lead to significant chronic diseases, such as Type II diabetes, heart disease, digestive disorders, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue, etc., quicker.

HOW DO WE STOP THAT?

We stop these things from happening by doing our best to minimize things that take away from our health as much as possible, and do things that build us up as much as possible.

It all begins by leaving the excuses behind.

Don’t get me wrong. I have been there myself, and like everyone, struggle with issues that claw away at my health everyday. At one time, being severely overweight, I know it even more. I made all the excuses, and avoided anything fitness or diet related for the longest time. Mostly, because I was intimidated by the process of change, causing great resistance. But, once I started to be honest with myself and take small steps forward and accept the situation I was in things began to get better.

It did not happen overnight, but the more and more I showed up and cut the excuses the more successful I became at losing weight, gaining muscle, and improving my overall physical health.

It’s cliché, but half the battle is showing up.

You have JUST got to show-up and good things will happen. If you know you need to go to the gym and do not feel like it do it anyway. Once you get your body warmed-up and going you will start to feel good.

I can say confidently that the best workouts I have had have been times where I did not feel like working out. What I did do is show up, and once I got started I hit my flow and crushed what I needed to do. That is why you need to stop making excuses.

In my opinion, you do not need motivation, especially to get started.

What you need is ACTION and the motivation will come after, and carry you far forward thereafter, breeding motivation to go harder and do better.

JUST SHOW UP and STOP THE EXCUSES.

Done.

(Photo Credit)

Strength Programming Update: 2017 Quarter 1

Hey guys!

I’ve completed my first programming cycle of the year and it feels great!

I hit new PRs for every lift, and the best part is that my body is healthy and not too beat up. I’ve put in a lot of work inside and outside of the gym for that to happen and it’s paying dividends.

To recap, below is a table chart of where I started 2017 and where I stand right now after my first training cycle of 2017.

First Quarter Programming Recap (Jan-Feb 2017)
Lift Starting Max (lbs.) Ending Max (lbs.) Total Increase (lbs.)
1.      Squat 355 385 30
2.      Bench Press 275 295 20
3.      Deadlift 445 465 20
4.      Overhead Press 185 195 10
Totals 1260 1340 100
BODY WEIGHT 187 188 ~1-1.5

To illustrate this training cycle I’m in right now reference the table below.Now, that I have my first quarter out of the way (yes, I know I ended my first training cycle early – 8 weeks instead of 12), but I’m already in the next cycle, and so far it is a grind, but going good.

Mar – May 2017 Training Cycle (total weeks: 12)
Week Focus
Weeks 1-2 – March Hypertrophy
Weeks 3-4 – March Traditional 5×5, Variation
Weeks 5-6 – April Triples, Variation
Weeks 7-8 – April Mix
Weeks 9-10 – May Doubles, Variation
Weeks 11-12 – May Peak
 

As you can see from the table above, this training cycle will be 12 weeks, or 3 months, instead of 8 weeks (or 2 months). I’ve broken the cycle into segments each having its own focus. That said, like with anything, I will modify it on an as-need basis if anything comes up or I think it is better to change things up (i.e. getting sick, switching focus for a particular time period, etc.).

It will be interesting to see how this training cycle goes as opposed to the first one of the year, since this cycle will be 12 weeks instead of 8.

Also, this training cycle I will try a better job at tightening my focus for each particular week making things a bit more consistent. This week I am doing the traditional 5×5 style and next week I will focus on variation of the 5×5 model. For example, in the squat I may choose a front squat or pause squat as variation instead of trying to go heavier in the normal 5×5 style in each lift. This way I feel I can keep things consistent, and do a better job at challenging my body and progressing more and more each week (even if it is just a baby step forward).

At the end of the day, progress is all that matters to me, so as long as I am moving forward and getting stronger in some way that is all I care about.

I believe progression is number 1, no matter what the goal, so I encourage you to do the same and keep getting stronger.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading, and if not a subscriber please subscribe.

If you are interested in learning more about my training style, have a question, or interested in working with me please comment below or email me at builtfromstrength@gmail.com, and I will get back to you right away.

If you have not already, click HERE to download my LEAN MUSCLE BUILDING program free. This is the base program I’m using right now for my training cycles, and if you are knew to lifting and getting stronger, it is a great place to start.

Until next time, be strong and be you!

Should You Workout Fasted…MY EXPERIENCE

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Working out or training fasted.

  • Does it work for fat lost?
  • Does it hinder your strength and burn your muscle?
  • Is it even safe?

I’m sure if you’ve been working out for awhile you have probably heard some talk regarding this subject and these questions.

With that said, I am not here to present a body of evidence for or against fasted exercise, although I do advocate it. All I will do is give you my honest experience training fasted, and the results from it, giving you a new perspective allowing you to determine whether or not it is worth trying for you.

Yes, my experience is anecdotal evidence, but that does not make it useless.

At one time, or another, everything that has been studied in the fitness arena has been anecdotal. That’s why there are studies because someone says this or that works and it is then studied. That said, use my experience for what it’s worth: my experience.

My Fasted Training

Over the last 4 years, I have worked out in a fasted state regularly.

What exactly is considered a fasted state?

To me, fasting is not eating anything for 8 hours or more.

For example, if you stopped eating at 9:00pm and had breakfast the next day at 7:00am, then you would have fasted for 10 hours.

With that said, I have trained fasted for as much as 3 to 4 times per week (currently, I am training twice a week fasted) for approximately the last 4 years. These fasted workouts are the same type of workouts I do if I wasn’t fasting. I’m lifting heavy weights, pushing myself as hard as I can, and not going light.

What has my experience been like?

It’s been great.

How do I measure that?

I measure that based on my level of strength week-to-week, my body composition (weight and body fat percentage), and just how I feel overall the rest of the day compared to other days I do not work out fasted.

I know some of that measure is subjective, but measure nonetheless. During my time training fasted, I’ve kept my level of strength, improved it, and increased my lean muscle mass, as well as endurance.

How do I do I train fasted?

Typically, the night before I exercise fasted, I stop eating anywhere from 8 to 10pm, based upon my current schedule. I typically wake around 7am, and arrive at the gym from 8:30 to 9am. Between that time, I hydrate as soon as I wake by drinking lots of water, usually 32 to 50 ounces, and do some light stretching and mobility exercises before the gym. Next, I drink a branched chain amino acid (BCAA) supplement before I leave.

Once I arrive to the gym, I do my warm-up routine and start my workout. During my workout, I’ll drink plenty of fluids and take more BCAAs to keep going hard until the end. After my workout, I might take more BCAAs or, finally, break my fast and eat a protein bar or my post workout meal (it all depends).

Importance of BCAAs

Image result for bcaa scivation

Now, let me explain to you why I take BCAAs while training fasted.

I’m sure many of you have your own opinion on them, but I do believe they are a supplement worth taking, especially if you are going to work out fasted.

BCAAs are the amino acids that first break down when you start to workout once your muscle begins to break down. They are leucine, isoleucine, and valine, and are essential amino acids. This means they must be obtained through the diet (virtually in all major sources of protein, like any meat, eggs, etc.) and/or supplementation. BCAAs have been heavily studied and have shown to have positive influence on protein synthesis, adding lean muscle mass, and in some instances fighting fatigue during a workout.

(Click HERE  and HERE to learn more about BCAAs and studies on them).

From working out fasted and not taking them, to working out fasted and taking them, I do 100% feel a difference.

For example, if I do not take them I notice that I cannot train with as much as intensity. I feel weaker, have less endurance, and do not get as good of a pump if I skip out on them while training fasted. In contrast, when I take them fasted and workout I feel much more alive, energetic, my endurance and strength are at expected levels, and I get a better pump. A noticeable difference.

How do I know?

Lots of experimentation with myself.

Keyword: MYSELF.

This is what works out for me, and taking BCAAs helps me maximize my fasted workouts. I cannot feel weak and not get the work in that I need to, especially if I am going to lift heavy. I do not want any excuses holding me back. I have repeatedly got new PRs training fasted, and BCAAs are a critical factor in that.

The video below is me hitting a new all-time squat PR last week at 385 pounds around 188 pounds body weight (and beltless!).

The squat felt great, even though I had to grind it out. No issues with my back, and all while training fasted with BCAAs.

Fasted Training Benefits

The reason why I train fasted are many, but below are the main reasons why:

  • I want to stimulate fat loss.
  • I want to challenge my body to perform at different times.
  • It is more convenient for me.
  • I think it helps increase glucose sensitivity, and elevate testosterone and growth hormone production.
  • It helps boosts my metabolism, and maintain a healthy weight for me.

(Click HERE to learn more about fasted training benefits and how to start, and HERE for an interesting insulin study comparing fasted and non-fasted workouts).

For me, all these benefits are great, and the number one reason why I do fasted workouts is to help stimulate fat-loss and control my weight. The difference is astounding to me, and I love it. I feel leaner afterwards, and I notice that I can keep my weight under control a lot more when I do consistent fasted workouts.

The one thing you and I must do, however, is keep your fasted workouts and the routine you do to prepare for them consistent.

This way, I think, you will have more success in maximizing the benefits of training fasted, while progressing like you want during your training.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of your experience with fasted workouts, I suggest you re-evaluate your thoughts and give it a shot.

Again, the worst thing you could do is be scared of training fasted. Keep your preparation routines consistent, and prioritize and/or schedule your days to where it fits your calendar. For example, trying intermittent fasting (or feasting, depending how you look at it) will aid in your pursuit of training fasted.

Is it a one-all solution to exponentially improve muscle building, strength, endurance, etc.?

No, but I DO THINK you can feel a significant and positive difference if you do it right.

That is why I highly recommend giving it a shot. It may feel draining at first, but if you make sure to hydrate, take a solid BCAA supplement (I take a brand called Scviation), and do it earlyish in the morning, I think you will really come to like it.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. If it calls you please comment down below, and if not a subscriber please subscribe.

Until next time, be strong and be you!

(Photo Credit: Main photo)

(Photo Credit: BCAA)

Breaking Strength Plateaus: The Mental

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There’s a saying in the Navy Seals that you can do 20 times what you think you think your body can do. From the BUDs training they go through it upholds its truth.

Now, lifting heavy weights and becoming a Navy Seal are two totally completely different things (becoming a Navy Seal is by FAR much more intense and difficult to do, I understand!), BUT…the one transfer to lifting is the mindset of pushing through of what you think your body can do, as you start to progress and seek to lift heavier weight.

For example, lifting heavier weights, from my experience, has had more mental plateaus and turmoil than my body. Yes, I have had some significant injuries, which probably play a factor in that mindset to lift heavier weights, but for the most part, during my lifting career, many of the plateaus I experienced were more mental than physical.

For example, I remember when I first wanted to squat 315, and I put those three 45 pound plates on the barbell my attitude changed. First, I was confident, then when I saw the barbell loaded up I got nervous. I was anxious and had self-doubt if I could even do it, even when 275 and 295 before went up like nothing.

This has been a common experience for me in my lifting career, especially when I set a new PR goal in any lift. What happens is that there is some emotional barrier in my subconscious regarding that PR goal that makes it hard when I start to train, and especially when it is time to lift it.

I know if I do an okay job at programming, do my best to train with intensity, and do all things to be consistent when training at and away from the gym I know I can get there. The issue, for me, is believing I can, and pushing through that mental plateau of what I think I can do.

There is no doubt that you have to have your body prepared, in good shape, and technique down to lift heavy weight. But, if that mental baggage of whether you think  you can do it or not is with you, you are going to have a lot of trouble getting there, if at all. This is especially true if you’ve been a the same weights for what seems like the longest time. You have to turn that switch, and get comfortable at being uncomfortable.

For example, one of my goals is to deadlift 500 pounds, and I just recently sumo deadlifted 465 beltless. That success is great, but I really have to get after it every time now because I am going to start to train at weights I thought were really heavy, but are now not heavy like they once were.

Essentially, I, and you, have to get more comfortable at lifting heavier weights as the “NEW NORMAL”.

It is important to understand that in our progression weights will not feel so monumental anymore, and that is normal. That is a good thing. That means you and I are getting stronger, and progressing like we hope and should, given the effort and investment put in.

What I believe we have to do is attack the weight. Attack the weight and give it your all, and leave the excuses behind. If you are truly injured then wait another day. BUT, if you are good attack those damn weights, and when it’s your time to do a maximal lift, lift that shit or die trying (Elliott Hulse reference)!

Own the weight, and go for it. Whether you succeed or you fail is not the point. You have just got to attack.

In this process, you will be in a better position to break down your own mental barriers if you are on the attack. As you start to do so, you’ll gain confidence in future lifts, and be in a better position to succeed. It will take time, but if you attack the weight and visualize yourself performing it with success you will make lifting heavier a reality and break plateaus.

Let’s break ’em!

 

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading. Comment below and subscribe if not already.

Until next time, be strong and be you.

 

(Photo Credit)

Breaking Strength Plateaus: Importance of Adding Variation

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The number ONE priority of any strength training is to get stronger.

Duhhhh!

This is obvious, but the persistent pursuit of strength can be elusive, at times, causing us to hit plateau after plateau. Progress is good for a period, at least it feels that way during the early stages of lifting and moving weight, but there comes a point where everything sigfiicantly slows down, stops, or even regresses.

What Now?

Assuming you are taking care of all the things outside of training — adequate sleep, good nutrition, managing your stress, and working on mobility and taking care of your body — it is time to add in VARIATION.

Other than technique, VARIATION is the best KEY to force your body to adapt to new stimulus to increase its strength.

If you have any experience with any strength training endeavor, like powerlifting, football, or just trying to get stronger, then you know that you get to a point where the next increase in strength is that much more difficult to attain, and you have got to add in complexity to your training — variation — that forces the body to adapt further and get stronger.

Just look at the graph below. I think it does a great job at mapping out what I mean of what strength performance progression looks like over time.

Image result for strength progression curve

(Photo Credit)

For example, you will notice in the beginning of the graph (as a novice), your progress is rapid and efficient. That is because your body can adapt fairly quickly to the new stimulus of performing movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc.) with increased neurological efficiency (your body’s ability to control itself through the central nervous system  — CNS), as you do them more often. This accounts for as much as 30% increase in strength gains within the first 6 to 8 weeks for a beginner in a movement.

The reason for this is because strength is a function of your CNS.

If your CNS can perform better by signaling all of the muscle available at its disposable and using all the avialable pathways for those muscles, your body will have more potential to lift more weight and overcome resistance, in any particular movement.

How we get better and better is progressively overloading the muscle with load, but there comes a point where that sort of linear progression fails and progress stops.

What happens then is to add variation.

Adding variation is especially key when you become a more advanced lifter, as the graph above describes. Just trying to increase load ALONE fails because the progression as a lifter is not linear after the beginning stages — it is curved. That means you have got to add complexity in your training and variation is that complexity to keep progressing.

What is Variation?

When I say variation I am not talking about load (or intensity). Load is how much weight you have on the bar, and that varies week-to-week based on your programming progression, level of experience, and is crucial in getting stronger.

That said, however, when I talk about VARIATION I am talking about doing any exercise, especially the big compound movements, like the squat, deadlift, overhead press, and bench press, in slightly different ways than what is “NORMAL” for you.

What happens is that this new variation seeks to challenge your body in different spots, during a movement, that you may have trouble with. For example, if you notice that when doing a squat you have trouble coming out of the “HOLE” then doing a pause squat will help you in that regard. It will help train your body to be more explosive coming out of the hole by teaching you to activate your glutes more, and improving core stability. Any variation like this, can be applied to any of the lifts.

Even doing something as simple as experimenting with a different stance or grip in a movement will do wonders. For instance, if someone always does a conventional deadlift and then tries sumo that would be a variation for that person. That is because doing a sumo deadlift forces your hips in a different position because of the wide stance, which targets the glutes, hamstrings, traps, and quads a lot more, rather than your spinal erectors and lower back in the conventional deadlift. This will help you be a more rounded lifter with improved hip and glute strength helping you in all other areas.

With new variations to your lifts you will notice that you will feel stronger and more stable with weights that were once shaky for you. This will improve overall performance in a movement by increasing the effectiveness of your CNS, which leads to strength gains.

Variation is Not Bodybuilding

Yes, variation can mean multiple things, but variation in your programming should not necessarily be different modes of training, like powerlifting to bodybuilding.

Of course, it is good to add in another style of training because most of it has overlap with strength training, and sets you up in a position for more strength potential.

That is great.

However, please do not mistake variation in your strength movements with HYPERTROPHIC TRAINING.

HYPERTROPHIC TRAINING is commonly referred to as bodybuilding, and seeks to build muscle volume to its maximum by focusing on the contraction of the muscle under high times of tension.

Hypertrophic training is a totally different type of training style, and is not variation to your strength lifts.

Where hypertrophic training comes in is allowing you to build a bigger engine over a given time period, giving you more potential for your CNS to work with. This is because you have more muscle mass that, in theory, will allow you to have increased strength potential when you train for strength.

(I wrote a post about this in detail after hearing powerlifting legend Eddy Coan talk about this in a video with Mark Bell. I encourage you to click HERE to read “How to Build a Bigger Engine” because there is some good stuff).

Strength training, on the other hand, is different. Strength training is being able to use you CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM (CNS) at its highest potential to unlock all the muscle your body has to perform a movement and overcome a resistance or move a weight.

THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY FOR STRENGTH TRAINING:

TRAINING YOUR BODY TO WORK AS ONE UNIT WITH GREATEST EFFICIENCY TO MOVE OR OVERCOME A RESISTANCE.

Bodybuilding, does not necessarily do that because the goal is to get as much muscle mass on your frame as you possibly can.

What I am saying, is that if you want to get stronger variation is the key, and that variation is seen in your strength lifts. Balance other type of training from your strength training, and determine what matters to you by periodizing any programming you have for your goal, and ultimately prioritize what matters to you.

If your priority is strength, do variation. Period.

Variations to Add to Your Lifts

With everything said, so far, what are some variations you can do that will help you in your lifts?

I will break them down based on movement below:

DEADLIFT

  • Non-dominant style
    • If you always do conventional do sumo, or vice versa.
  • Pause-deadlifts
    • You can vary the duration of your pause, and do lighter weigths to focus on stability and explosiveness out of the hold.
  • Romanian deadlifts
    • Good for working your posterior chain really good and improving grip strength.
    • Can be done with the barbell or dumbbells.
  • Stiff-legged deadlifts
    • Good for working your hamstrings and glutes, and turning them on.
    • Use a barbell, or even dumbbells, and always train within your means and focus on form.
  • Snatch-grip deadlifts
    • Strength coach legend Charles Poliquin called the snatch grip deadlift the best deadlift to do for strength. Why? Because you are at your weakest when you have your arms far away from your center of mass forcing your body to work extra.
    • Do them for grip work, and training your back.
  • Trap Bar deadlift
    • Relieves stress on the lower back because the bar is not in front of you.
    • Good for people with back injuries or who are tall.
    • Good for increasing power.
  • Accommodating resistance
    • Any use of chains or bands, that hit sticking points during this movement that hits you when you need to feel it the most.
  • Fat grip deadlift
    • Grab an axle barbell, or a pair of Fat Gripz that you can put on the barbell, to train your grip strength.

SQUAT

  • Front squats
    • Great for core strength and stability, thoracic extension (good for posture), and teaching your glutes to activate, while killing your quads at the same time. They are essential.
  • Paused squats
    • Great for core stability, control in the hole, explosiveness rising up in the squat, as it teaches you to engage more muscle at the right times.
  • Tempo squats
    • Hard to do but, like pause squats, great for stability and control over your decent in the hole. Also, great at working your body for endurance, given the increase in time under tension.
  • Box squats
    • Good for being explosive and teaching your body to fire at the right times.
  • SSB (safety squat bar) squats
    • 4x World’s Strongest man, Brian Shaw, called SSB squats the only squat you need to do.
    • It alleviates pressure on your elbows, and upper back, because of the padding and how the bar is constructed.
    • Great for building massive strength and muscle mass.
  • Yoke Walk
    • Will teach you more about core strength and stability than anything else because you can handle more weight than any squat you can do. Do them and you will understand.
  • Sled work
    • Not a direct variation to the squat, but I think sleds have carry over for the squat, namely that it is great for conditioning and putting your muscle to use.
    • It improves endurance, and can be used as an active recovery tool for heavy squat days.
  • High or low bar squat, and doing varying stance widths
    • Doing the non-dominant squat style for you.
    • Will teach you how to control your body better, and you might even discover that something else works better for you.

BENCH PRESS

  • Wide or close grip bench press
    • Anything outside of your “normal” bench press grip. Teach you to work varying aspects of muscle and ways to fire on your CNS more (like your lats, triceps, leg drive, etc.).
  • Incline bench press
    • Good for developing upper pec development and it tends to be easier on the shoulders for most people, especially if you have prior shoulder injuries.
    • Also, good for shoulder stability in pressing movements.
  • Paused bench press
    • This is essential if you’re in power-lifting because you are required to rest (pause) the weight on your chest and press.
    • Great for stability, control, and building time under tension to work you muscles and CNS further.
  • Spoto bench press
    • Made famous by world record holder Eric Spoto for how he got up to his 722lb bench press.
    • Great for control and stability in the descent and explosiveness when pressing up.
  • Accomodating Resistance
    • Use any accommodating resistance, like chains or bands, that force your body to work harder at weak points for you.
  • Bamboo, Duffalo bar, or other type of bar for bench press
    • For advanced lifters with access to this special equipment. Using different bars like these will force your body to perform better by working in different ways, even with lighter weights, like the bamboo bar.

OVERHEAD PRESS

  • Push or jerk-press
    • Will teach you to engage your lower body, while also teaching you to handle more weight than strict press.
  • Axle Press
    • Forces you to press using a thick bar forcing good technique and leverage to perform.
  • 1-arm overhead push press
    • Good for isolating one-arm and one-side of body to correct imbalances, while improving explosiveness.
  • Dumbbell shoulder press
    • Good for control and stability for the shoulders while isolating each arm to spot imbalances that are a concern.
Conclusion

There you have it!

All the basics you need to know about improving strength through the addition of variation to your strength training.

These variations will take time to implement and get proficient at, but are easy to practice once a week if you do programming right. For example, using something like the CONJUGATE METHOD, popularized by Louie Simmons at Westside Barbell, or a derivative of that works great.

Click HERE to learn more about the conjugate, or click HERE to check out a video about it from strongman athlete Brian Alsruhe.

I’ve also included these things into my own strength and muscle building program called LEAN MUSCLE BUILDING.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD LEAN MUSCLE BUILDING.

Regardless of what you do, if you want to get stronger you have got to add variation.

Without it you will be missing out on those strength gains, and no one likes that.

SO, go do it!

Share your thoughts by commenting down below, and if not a subscriber please subscribe.

As always, thanks for stopping by and reading.

Until next time, be strong and be you!

 

(Cover photo credit)

If You Want to Get a Strong Body Stick With the BIG 4

Image result for barbell gym

“So, what do you think I should do to get stronger?”

This question makes me smile and laugh, yet frustrates me at the same time because the answer is not complicated, but people think it is.

From experience, people generally want to hear a complicated or sexy answer with this complex system, or program, or array of exercises that will get them strong, in better shape, and looking good.

But, if you really want a strong body just stick with the basic movements. They will give you 80% plus of the results you’re looking for: strength, power, function, muscle, and aesthetics.

WHAT ARE THEY?

  • THE SQUAT

  • THE DEADLIFT

  • THE OVERHEAD PRESS

  • THE BENCH PRESS

You do those 4 exercises consistently, over time, you will get freaking strong.

Period.

These four exercises will give you the most return on investment for not only getting strong, but molding a lean, hard body head-to-toe, especially if you are half-way decent at trying to eat right.

What if you can’t do those exercises?

Figure it out, so you can. Find a way. Just make it happen. No excuses.

If you can’t do a back squat, try a front, goblet, or body squat to start. If deadlifts hurt your back, maybe try learning sumo instead, and put some effort into learning better technique and rehabing your back (click HERE for how I rehabed my back). If your shoulder hurts all the time then find out why, get it into better shape, and start pressing.

It is really that simple.

This, however, does not make it easy. It is going to be hard, especially in the beginning, and once you start lifting heavier and start to progress.

The weight will humble you, and you will fail. That’s okay. Failure is normal, and you can come back and try again.

Once you try hard, you will get success — lifting better and lifting heavier — and it will feel freaking awesome. You’ll be so happy with yourself, and hang your head up high because all the effort paid off for you to hit that squat or deadlift goal that at one time you may have thought was not possible for you. When that happens, you just want to keep going.

When you keep going, you’ll find out that these movements have so much more to offer, once you add in their variations. For example, doing a stiff-legged or Romanian deadlift (RDL), or a front or pause squat, is going to challenge and work your body further by hitting weak points that need to be addressed. This leads to getting stronger, by building various aspects of your body, like the glutes, hamstrings, core stability, back, etc., that will get you stronger.

Look, strong is the new sexy. If you are strong you are going to look good for yourself. If you can deadlift two or more times your body-weight, you’re probably going to look half-way decent. That’s just how it is.

The best part, at least for me, is that you and I will be STRONG.

The big 4 lifts are the “HOLY GRAIL” of strength. They will get you stronger, more functional, and well proportioned than any leg press, MTS press, or other machine that is out there.

GRAB A BARBELL AND START LIFTING.

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Extra

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD MY FREE LEAN MUSCLE BUILDING PROGRAM THAT I USED TO INCREASE MY LIFTS BY 130 POUNDS IN 6 MONTHS. CHECK OUT THE ARTICLE HERE TOO!

(Photo Credit)