Category Archives: Training Philosophy

Know Thy Personal Records: Are You Aware of Your Indicators?

Deadlift

Everyone should be aware of their personal records (PRs). You should know multiple PRs for each variation.

Before I did 2 x 4 Maximum Strength, I didn’t have an adequate grasp of my PRs, therefore I wasn’t fully aware of my training efficiency.

I wanted you all to have this PR Sheet (click to download) from 2 x 4 so that you can know your indicators of progress. 

2 x 4 will help you determine these PRs within 14-weeks, which will benefit your training immensely. With my second time running 2 x 4, I found that my PRs were even more accurate/reflective of my true strength, and I believe that this made a big difference in helping me do well at the powerlifting meet a few weeks ago. Even if you don’t do 2 x 4, you should figure these PRs out over time.

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Why Percentages Fail Some Lifters

The following is an excerpt from 2 x 4: Maximum Strength

Many programs utilize percentages for loading schemes. To name a few, Shieko, Smolov, and The Russian Squat Routine each provide the lifter with detailed set and rep schemes based off of percentages of 1RM. For example, a particular training day might have the lifter performing 7 sets of 5 reps with 80% of 1RM. These types of programs are very convenient as they take all of the guesswork out of the equation and allow the lifter to get in and get the job done.

Sounds incredible in theory, right? Problem is, programming just isn’t that simple. My colleague Brad Schoenfeld and I recently collected data for an upcoming study we intend on publishing that examines the EMG activation in the leg muscles with heavier weight (75% of 1RM) versus light weight (30% of 1RM) to failure. While we weren’t particularly interested in the number of repetitions the subjects achieved during exercise performance, we were intrigued to find that with the 75% of 1RM loading, the ranges of repetitions achieved by the subjects varied dramatically from one lifter to the next. While most subjects performed between 10 and 15 repetitions, one subject performed a whopping 21 repetitions, and another subject performed just 7 repetitions (with 30% of 1RM, the range was 30 to 71).

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Learning Proper Form in Strength Training

I have three simple rules when it comes to form:

  1. Due to anatomical differences, good form will necessarily look different from one lifter to the next
  2. All beginning lifters must master the basics
  3. Once a base of strength and muscle has been built, form adjustments can be made depending on the goal

Allow me to elaborate. Sometimes I read articles by various strength & conditioning experts and my jaw drops. I wonder if any of them really train people or pay attention to joint angles and biomechanics.

For example, I recently read that a good squat looks the same for every lifter. Having trained thousands of people in my life, I can assure you that there are many ways for a squat to look right, and that different lifters will have markedly different squat form depending on their body structure. I liken the torso, femur, and tibia to a lightning bolt. Everyone has a unique “lightning bolt,” and your lightning bolt will highly influence the joint angles inherent to your maximal squat form.

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The Illustrated Guide to a PhD

This article is by Matt Might. What an excellent way to view a PhD! Using my situation as an example, I’ve read all the research on the glutes, I’ve conducted my own experiments, soon I’ll be collecting and publishing my data, and I’ll have expanded the boundaries on glute training. But in the grand scheme of things (taking the cosmic-overview, as my grandmother used to like to say), it’s just one small aspect of knowledge.

This is why we need all sorts of individuals pushing the boundaries in their particular areas of focus, so we continue to broaden the sphere of knowledge. Strength training research requires so much additional research and is slow-growing, but nevertheless we manage to make considerable progress each and every month (see HERE if you’re interested in strength and conditioning research). I hope you enjoy the pictures.

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