The assessment is a critical first step in your training program. If you’d like to learn a little bit about my philosophy on assessments, just follow the link below:
Do you have old injuries? Did you play specific sports growing up? Are you just starting a training program?
A good trainer or coach will evaluate you to determine all of these things. A solid assessment examines your static posture, isolated joint movements, as well as big-bang movement patterns like squats, push-ups, lunges, etc.
You have a few options when it comes to getting an assessment:
- You can find a qualified trainer near you; my Training Network is a great place to start.
- You can find someone online to do it (this is actually a service I offer)
- You can purchase a product such as Assess and Correct that not only helps you assess yourself, but gives you the exact exercises you should be performing to improve your posture, alignment and movement.
Develop a program
Program Design 101 – Covers the individual elements of program design to help you create your own programming
Neanderthal No More, Part 4 – Improving Computer Guy Posture
Neanderthal No More, Part 5 – Improving Computer Guy Posture, Phase 2
Vixen Lifin’ – A Starting Program for Female Trainees
Blood on the Barbell – A mish-mash of powerlifting, fat loss, and basic strength.
The Modified 5×5 Squat Routine – A squat routine that’s virtually guaranteed to put numbers on this big lift.
Designer Athletes – An off-season program for athletes.
A dynamic warm-up is superior to a more traditional “10 minutes of cardio and static stretching” protocol for several reasons:
- Increases core temperature, along with that of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, etc.
- An increase in temperature leads to improved nervous system recruitment.
- Improves joint lubrication and decreases the viscosity of synovial fluid (the “oil” for your joints”).
- Prepares your body to go through the various ranges of motion you’ll be performing within your workout.
- Grooves the motor patterns you’ll be using within your workout.
- Can be used to relax chronically short/stiff muscles, while “activating” lengthened, weak, or inhibited muscle groups like the gluteals, middle and lower trapezius, etc.
Corrective exercise is a garbage term. In my opinion, all exercise should be “corrective” in nature – workouts that keep you strong, healthy and injury-free. The article below is a bit o a rant, but it helps discuss what true corrective exercise looks and feels like.
At the end of the day, corrective exercise is simply smart program design (choosing the correct exercises, set/rep schemes, etc.) for the client, and making sure that they’re perform the exercises with perfect technique.
If you’re interested in learning more about corrective exercise, I would highly recommend checking out the “Secrets” series created by Gray Cook, Lee Burton, and Brett Jones.
Strength training, or “lifting,” can be intimidating to a lot of folks. Whether it’s trying something new, or the fear that they’ll get injured, a lot of people just need more education on the topic.
Here’s a brief primer to get you started – at the very least, you should know some of the lingo before you hit the gym!
- A repetition is defined as one performance of an exercise. For example, moving down and up in a squat would be considered one repetition.
- A set is defined as a series of repetitions of an exercise. For example, if you perform 10 repetitions before taking a break, that is considered one set.
- Rest periods are defined as the amount of time you take in between sets.
- Time under tension is the amount of time it takes you to perform one repetition of an exercise. Often, this is noted by four numbers:
- The first number is the eccentric, or lowering/yielding, portion of the lift.
- The second number is the midpoint of the lift.
- The third number is the concentric, or overcoming/lifting, portion of the lift.
- The fourth number is the time you take to rest, squeeze or hold in between repetitions.
- A compound exercise uses more than one joint. An example of a compound lift would be a squat for the lower body, where the ankles, knees, and hips are forced to move. In the upper body, a chin-up or bench press would be an example of a compound lift.
- An isolation exercise focuses specifically on one joint or muscle group at a time. In this case, a barbell curl or leg extension would be isolation exercises.
- Exercises that use both arms or both legs simultaneously are considered bilateral exercises. A squat, deadlift, or bench press would be a bilateral exercise.
- Exercises that use one arm or leg independently of the other would be considered unilateral exercises. A lunge, or single-arm dumbbell bench press would be considered unilateral exercises.
- Core training are exercises that are geared to develop the muscles of the abdominals and lower back. While core training is often misguided, there’s a growing amount of research that core stability and endurance are more important than core strength.
- Olympic lifting is what you would see in the Olympics. In this case, two lifts are tested – the snatch and the clean and jerk. These movements are often used in athletic settings as well to help athletes improve their speed and power.
- Powerlifting is a different strength sport. In this case, athletes are tested on three lifts – the squat, the bench press, and the deadlift.
- Bodybuilding is different from the previous two examples. In this case, the results aren’t based off objective measures such as pounds lifted, but rather based on aesthetics of how developed and/or proportional a man’s or woman’s body is.
- Finally, kettlebells are a tool that you’ll often see referenced on this site, as well as the Internet in general. Kettlebells are a unique tool, in the fact that they look like a cannonball with a handle. While many people participate in kettlebell sport events, the primary use for kettlebells at this point in time is for conditioning and/or fat loss purposes.
Depending on your training goals, a good program will specify your sets and reps (for instance, 3×10 would be 3 sets of 10 repetitions), how long each repetition should take, and the amount of time you should rest in between sets.
Most programs will be initiated with the biggest, heaviest, fastest or most technical lifts first. For example, you would typically start a training session with a squat over a lunge, or a chin-up before a bicep curl. If we’re thinking a continuum, you’ll typically move from bigger and more compound lifts to lifts that are more isolative in nature.
Energy system training is a key component of almost any program whether your goal is to total Elite in powerlifting or win a figure contest.
Unfortunately, many people grossly misunderstand how to properly implement energy system training into their workouts. Below is a primer on how to effectively incorporate energy system training into your workout.
Guide to Metabolic Training – A Simple Guide to Developing Fat Loss Workouts
The Cardio Conundrum – Covers how to implement cardio, and another basic fat loss workout
Tools we use at my gym (IFAST)
One question I get almost daily is, “What kind of equipment do you have at your gym?”
Needless to say, IFAST isn’t your typical chrome-and-mirrors fitness facility. We believe in low-tech, high-concept equipment. Basic equipment like barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells and the like aren’t the sexiest pieces of equipment, but they get the job done.
The items linked below represent a fairly comprehensive list of what we use in our gym.
|Landmine Torso Trainer
||Gray Cook Bands
||Just Jump Mats
|Elite FTS Power Racks