Tyler Robbins Fitness

B.Sc. Biochemistry, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), Certified CrossFit Trainer (CCFT/CF-L3), USA Weightlifting Level 1

Filtering by Category: "Strength"

Day 346 - Methods of Developing Speed & Agility

Primary Method

Many skill-specific activities should be started slow so that proper mechanics can be learned. Once the proper mechanics begin to take hold, then an individual can increase speed to that, or exceeding that, of game speed.

Some mechanics we take for granted and may learn on our own throughout life, such as running or throwing a ball. Unfortunately, there may be flaws with the technique since some individuals may not have be given proper coaching on the specialized technique. In this case, proper technique can be introduced to the individual to help perfect form.

Secondary Methods

Secondary methods involve sprint resistance and sprint assistance:

Sprint Resistance - Also known as an overload effect, the idea is to use resistance in some form to improve explosive strength and stride length. Examples of resistance that can be applied in such a situation would be gravity (running up a grade like stairs or a slope) or such apparatus such as parachutes or weighted vests.

Sprint Assistance - By using assistance techniques such as running downhill or a high-speed towing apparatus, the aim is to maintain proper running form but increase stride frequency.

Tertiary Methods

Tertiary methods are broken down into mobility, strength and speed-endurance categories:

Mobility - Athletic tasks require specific ranges of motion (ROM). If an individual does not use their full mobility at a certain joint or limb, they can impact performance or even increase their likelihood of injury. For example, someone who is running, if there is not enough mobility at the hip joint, there could too much braking effect caused by the foot strike on the ground. Proper stretching and flexibility should be used by all to maintain proper range of motion.

Strength - In order for individuals to improve their speed and agility, their resistance training program should include explosive, quick movements. This does not necessarily mean that only light weights with high velocity should be used. Resistance training that targets a wide range of muscular fiber types should be employed.

Speed-Endurance - To train for speed-endurance events, athletes must use a wide variety of training styles including short-duration intense training as well as long-duration, less-intense exercises.


Quote of the day:
"It is better to travel well than to arrive." 
~ Buddha

Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com





Day 305 - Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 7: Rest Periods

What I am referring to here when I discuss rest periods is the amount of time between sets. For the most part, rest periods are directly related to the workload. I will break down the 4 main training goal categories below and detail the fine particulars in their rest periods.

Strength and Power
For a quick refresher, strength and power exercises usually involve maximal and near-maximal weights with repetitions of 6 or lower. Research has shown that there are much greater strength gains from individuals who rest for 2-5 minutes rather than 30 seconds.

The fact that when your training goals are for strength and power, and you are literally pushing your muscles to the limit should be no surprise that longer rest periods are necessary.

Hypertrophy

Studies have shown that 30-90 second rest periods facilitate the greatest gains for hypertrophy training goals (6-12reps). The theory behind this time frame is that you actually want to start another set of exercises for the same muscle group before it has completely recovered. This can increase the metabolic demand and damage within the muscles to facilitate muscular growth.

Muscular Endurance

Muscular endurance training (12+ reps) has a goal to increase the aerobic capacity of muscles. In doing so, and the fact that muscular endurance training is training with lighter resistance, rest periods between sets should be as minimum as possible (30 seconds or less).

Quote of the day:
"Success doesn’t come to you… you go to it."
-Marva Collins

Check out my new Website: tylerrobbinsfitness.com





Day 123 - My Future Plans

I am in the process of recovering from my first ever Tough Mudder a few days ago, and also planning my future fitness goals.

I have had a very regimented schedule for pretty much all of 2012. At the beginning of the year, I was wrapping up my round first round of P90X2. After that, I jumped right into a mass phase where I had some pretty good success packing on some muscle mass.

April 19 2012

Next, I moved into a performance-based training schedule to prepare for Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder. Heading into Tough Mudder, I honestly felt like I was in the best overall shape of my life. I have been an athlete all of my life, competing at fairly high levels of competition in soccer and hockey (and other sports), however my level of fitness would generally be geared towards the sport I was to be competing in.

August 16 2012

For Tough Mudder, and something I will touch on in future blogs, my goal was to be as efficient as possible in many different facets of fitness and energy systems in my body.

Needless to say, I have been very regimented in my training, and diet as possible throughout the year. So I feel as though my fitness plans, at least for the next little while, is to be as opposite to that as possible.

I will still attempt to follow a structured schedule for the coming weeks, however my training goals will be far from structured. My Tough Mudder training was very specific in its periodization. I wanted to first put on a bit of muscle mass, then increase the performance of said muscle so that it could perform as highly as possible.

Now, my goals are to be a bit more 'primal' if you will. I am definitely going to step back a bit in regards to my cardio training. 2012 has been a year full of aerobic cardio, which is fine when I am training for an endurance event like Tough Mudder, but now that I no longer have a specific event to train for, my cardio training will be utilized much more efficiently with interval training - or in other words, higher levels of effort, shorter overall workouts.

Back to the 'primal' ideal, I want to lift stuff...heavy stuff. Most specifically, heavy weights. My resistance workouts will be targeted towards building a bit of hypertrophy, but to also maintain/increase my overall strength. With all of my cardio and performance-based strength training this year, I have no doubt lost a bit of my strength gains, as is the case when you don't lift as many heavy things!

I really enjoy watching the movie "Pumping Iron". For those of you who haven't seen it, you can actually watch the movie in its entirety on Youtube. It follows the bodybuilding phenomenon of the 70's, most notably Arnold Schwarzenegger in his heyday. Sure, these guys were 'roidin', but how else do you suppose you build muscles that large?

Anyways, watching the movie not only gives me a new appreciation for how much of a complete animal Arnold is, but also cracks me up at how funny/playful of a guy he is. Every time I watch the movie I get inspired to go lift heavy things! I will link part 1 of the movie below, you can then continue on to find the other 11 parts on Youtube if you wish! 


For my schedule, many of you who follow my blog, or my youtube channel know that I really enjoy the Beachbody workouts. Tony Horton is of great inspiration, displaying how much is possible physically, even into your 50's.

I really enjoy using home-workout DVDs, mainly because the timing of the workouts keeps me from dawdling, and spending an entire morning working out. More often than not, especially recently, I find myself modifying or adjusting the workouts so much that I don't even watch them, it is just nice to have something on my workout room tv and some background noise.

So having said that, I have decided to really branch away from the Beachbody workouts as I am using quite a few modifications and concoctions of my own.

One of the main reasons for this is that I feel I want to build a bigger chest. I consider myself a 'hardgainer', and nowhere on my body is it harder for me to put on mass than on my chest. Because of this, I have created a couple different workouts so that I can attack my chest twice a week.

Day 1 - Chest & Back and Core
Day 2 - Plyo Legs
Day 3 - Shoulders & Arms
Day 4 - Core and Yoga/Stretching/Recovery
Day 5 - Chest & Shoulders
Day 6 - Sprint Training
Day 7 - Recovery

This will be my schedule for the next 4 weeks. I am currently planning on starting this schedule this upcoming Sunday (August 26th). If this schedule looks new or unusual to you, I will provide more details on each of the workouts towards the end of the 4 weeks. They may need some refining or adjustments to them, since they are new to me as well. I will check back in a few weeks to give you full details on each so that, if interested, you can add them to your repertoire as well.

I will of course keep you updated as I go, so stay tuned!

Quote of the day:
“Defeat is not bitter unless you swallow it.”
~ Joe Clark




Day 113 - Shutting Things Down



Asylum's Strength has caused me a bit of trouble in the past, so I try and make sure I am careful, but it has bitten me again.

I hurt my back on the first round of "Jump Squat Rotations". The exercise where you hold a dumbbell between your hands, crouch down so that your elbows touch your knees, then jump while rotating. I have had troubles in the past with the dumbbell rotations.

For those of you with lower back problems or may have troubles in the future, it is exercises like these that can be dangerous. Traditional heavy squats where you have a barbell resting on your shoulders is far safer in my opinion because you are adding weight to your frame down your centre of gravity. Attempting to add too much weight with exercises where you are just using dumbbells can be dangerous, especially the moves in Asylum, because the weight tracks out in front of your body, placing additional stress on your lower back. (I hope that makes sense)

Anyways, my back isn't too bad *knock on wood*, after I felt my back tweak a bit, I finished the workout, making sure I was very careful with any exercises involving the back, but I can definitely feel some tightness, so of course I skipped Overtime. These past few weeks of training has been tough on me, and my back just adds to the list of a few other little nagging injuries I have (left elbow, muscle tightness in my neck/trap) so like my wife said, maybe this is the last straw for my body telling me to shut things down.

So...no more Asylum for me before Tough Mudder. I am planning on doing 1 more long run, my final Asylum Fit Test, and some very light cardio work/stretching/foam rolling throughout the week.

Quote of the day:
"We cannot do everything at once, but we can do something at once."
~ Calvin Coolidge





Day 109 - Your Guide to Sets and Reps (Recovery Time Too!)

Any training program should begin first and foremost with setting a goal or goals. Last year, I blogged a 7-step approach to program design. If interested, you can start here with Step 1: Needs Analysis

If you want a quick, straight to the point guide to sets and reps, refer to the image above, while I explain each "Training Goal" below, along with applications of each.

To begin, however, as I said before, you should start at square one, and decide on what your training goals are. Secondly, you should determine either your 1RM (1-rep maximum) or 10RM. If you look around online, you can find many different ways of calculating such a thing. You can choose to either test yourself to determine your 1 or 10-rep maximum, or you can try various testing procedures to estimate your 1RM or 10RM.

Testing your rep maximums is not necessarily imperative, but it can be helpful to accurately choose proper resistance to hone in on your repetition goals listed in the table above.

If you decide to calculate your 1RM, you can then follow this table to aim for specific reps:

%1RM - Number of Repetitions Allowed
100 - 1
95 - 2
93 - 3
90 - 4
87 - 5
85 - 6
83 - 7
80 - 8
77 - 9
75 - 10
70 - 11
67 - 12
65 - 15

So, a quick example on how to use this table: If you can bench press 250 pounds 1 time, you should use 218 pounds for 5 reps. Make sense? Good, let's move on.

What training goal should I aim for?

Hard to say, that is usually up to the individual, but for most folks who are just looking to "get in shape", usually the hypertrophy and muscular endurance categories are mostly used. Both of these categories allow for a fair amount of strength increase, but also allows folks to burn calories, etc.

Strength training and power training (for the most part) is targeted for specific sports and athletic performance. Not only that, but as I will explain later, strength and power training repetition goals should only be used by experienced resistance-trained individuals, done with safe, proper, equipment, monitored by a certified strength and conditioning specialist, and be performed as "core exercises".

Strength vs. Power Training

I don't intend on making this a science lesson, so I will do my best to explain this in simple terms. Strength is the amount of force a muscle or muscles can generate to move a load or weight. For example, an individual may be able to max out their bench press at 250 pounds. By lifting that 250 pounds, once, they can generate a lot of strength to move the weight up one time, but the repetition may be slow.

Power, on the other hand, is being able to generate force at a much higher rate. For example, an individual who can bench press 250 pounds, 1 time, would want to drop down in weight, in order to press the weight at a faster rate.

Strength training can be valuable in many facets of athletics, however, in many cases, power is far more valuable to perform better. Let me use this example, because of the recent events at the 2012 London Olympics. Usain Bolt has very strong legs. I am assuming he uses strength training to make his legs strong. Having said that, there are many individuals who have just as strong, if not stronger legs than he does.

The difference here, is his ability to generate force, or power. He is able to generate a tremendous amount of power to propel himself down the track.

"Core" vs. "Assistance" Exercises

Strength and power repetition ranges are intended to be done by "core exercises". A core exercise is one that recruits one or more large muscle areas (chest, shoulder, back, hip, thigh), involve two or more primary joints, and receive priority when one is selecting exercises because of their direct application to sport.

"Assistance exercises" on the other hand, usually recruit smaller muscle areas (upper arm, abdonminals, calf, neck, forearm, lower back, or anterior lower leg), involve only one primary joint, and are considered less important to improving sport performance.

Summary:

Strength - High-load, low-repetition training to improve overall strength of the muscle(s) being trained. Should mainly be targeted by "core exercises". Long periods of rest between sets to allow full recovery of muscle fibers in order to produce maximum amount of force every subsequent set.

Power - High-load, low-repetition training similar to strength training but designed to increase the overall explosiveness of the muscles. Also designed to be targeted by "core exercises" only. Also intended to have long periods of rest between sets to promote full recovery.

Hypertrophy - Higher repetition goals when compared to strength or power training. Shorter breaks as well, as the intention is to cause a higher metabolic demand in the muscle fibers to promote muscular growth.

Muscular Endurance - Low rest periods, higher rep goals, lower loads. Ideally used to improve the aerobic efficiency of the muscle fibers. Should be used by endurance athletes to improve muscular efficiency. Not intended to improve overall strength or power, however.

Quote of the day:
"The more I want to get something done, the less I call it work."
~ Richard Bach





Methods of Developing Speed & Agility

Primary Method

Many skill-specific activities should be started slow so that proper mechanics can be learned. Once the proper mechanics begin to take hold, then an individual can increase speed to that, or exceeding that, of game speed.

Some mechanics we take for granted and may learn on our own throughout life, such as running or throwing a ball. Unfortunately, there may be flaws with the technique since some individuals may not have be given proper coaching on the specialized technique. In this case, proper technique can be introduced to the individual to help perfect form.

Secondary Methods

Secondary methods involve sprint resistance and sprint assistance:

Sprint Resistance - Also known as an overload effect, the idea is to use resistance in some form to improve explosive strength and stride length. Examples of resistance that can be applied in such a situation would be gravity (running up a grade like stairs or a slope) or such apparatus such as parachutes or weighted vests.

Sprint Assistance - By using assistance techniques such as running downhill or a high-speed towing apparatus, the aim is to maintain proper running form but increase stride frequency.

Tertiary Methods

Tertiary methods are broken down into mobility, strength and speed-endurance categories:

Mobility - Athletic tasks require specific ranges of motion (ROM). If an individual does not use their full mobility at a certain joint or limb, they can impact performance or even increase their likelihood of injury. For example, someone who is running, if there is not enough mobility at the hip joint, there could too much braking effect caused by the foot strike on the ground. Proper stretching and flexibility should be used by all to maintain proper range of motion.

Strength - In order for individuals to improve their speed and agility, their resistance training program should include explosive, quick movements. This does not necessarily mean that only light weights with high velocity should be used. Resistance training that targets a wide range of muscular fiber types should be employed.

Speed-Endurance - To train for speed-endurance events, athletes must use a wide variety of training styles including short-duration intense training as well as long-duration, less-intense exercises.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Plyometric Safety Considerations

Whenever someone is exercising or performing physical activities, there are inherent dangers that accompany said activities. Plyometric exercise is no exception to this, and may even have more potential dangers involved, but usually only when certain guidelines are not followed. I have detailed some of these guidelines below and given some insight into each.

Pretraining Evaluation of the Athlete

Every individual that wishes to begin plyometric exercise should evaluate their current health and fitness status to determine if they are an appropriate candidate to follow such an intense training regimen.

Technique - Individuals should be not only physically mature, but mentally mature enough to be able to follow instructions to follow correct form and technique. For example, proper technique should be followed to maintain control of the body's center of gravity. A specific example of this would be the body's shoulders staying in line with the knees when performing jumping type exercises.

Strength - For lower body plyometrics, the NSCA recommends that an individual's 1RM squat should be at least 1.5 times their body weight in order to be strong enough to perform plyometric exercises. For upper body, the bench press 1RM should be at least the individual's body weight.

Speed - Again, for lower body plyometrics, the NSCA recommends that an individual be able to 5 reps of the squat with 60% body weight in 5 seconds or less. Upper body speed should be able to perform 5 bench press reps of 60% body weight in 5 seconds or less.

Balance - Plyometric exercises are not always done in a vertical plane, as some plyometric and agility exercises require lateral or horizontal displacements. An individual should have a good level of balance and spatial control over their body so that they reduce their risk for injury when exercising. An example of a balance test would be an individual balancing on one leg for 30 seconds without falling.

Physical Characteristics - Joint disorders, back disorders, or other disorders that affect an individual's ability to control their limbs in a controllable manner could increase the risk of injury. Not only that, but the NSCA recommends that individuals that are over 220 pounds may be at an increased risk of injury due to the immense stresses and strains placed on the body.

Equipment and Facilities

Going beyond the physical demands required for plyometric exercise, certain equipment as well as the area used should be of ideal conditions that are detailed below.

Landing Surface - As shock-absorbing as possible such as a grass field, suspended floor, or rubber mats are the best choices.

Training Area - This category is entirely dependent on the exercise being conducted. Bounding drills may require large horizontal spaces, whereas standing power jumps could be done in a small relative space.

Equipment - Boxes or platforms used for depth jumps, jumping on or off of, should have non-slip surfaces to prevent slipping and injury.

Proper Footwear - Cross training shoes are the best fit for plyometric exercises as they generally have more support for lateral movements of the feet and ankles.

Depth Jumps - This exercise in particular warrants its own category because a height of 48 inches (1.2m) is the recommended maximum height from the NSCA as jumping from a platform any higher than this could cause injury.

-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS




Resistance Training 7 Step Approach - Step 5: Training Load and Repetitions

Load is the most critical part of a resistance training program. I will detail ways in which fitness professionals define and use loads in a well-rounded resistance training program.

Terminology Used to Quantify and Qualify Mechanical Work

Mechanical Work - force and displacement (distance) an object or weight is moved. A quantifiable way in which you can measure mechanical work is like in Olympic weight lifting when you multiply a weight lifted by the number of times lifted.

Load Volume (or Volume Load) - Basically a measurement of weight (units) multiplied by distance (distance units) and repetitions. To note however, that certain repetition quantities alter the quality of the work being done. For example, 1 set of 15 repetitions is not the same as 3 sets of 5 repetitions.

Relationship Between Load and Repetitions

Repetitions is and should be inversely related to the load lifted, especially when calculating correct loads for specific repetition amounts. For example, the higher the load, the lower number of reps an individual should be able to lift.

Calculating 1-repetition maximum (1RM) and 10-repetition maximum for individuals is a highly effective tool to structure a proper resistance training program. Depending on an individual's goals, their resistance exercises should remain within a specific rep range to meet such goals, which will be discussed later.

Keep in mind that an individual's 1RM (or calculated 1RM) on a weight machine may be significantly higher than doing a similar action with free weights as more synergistic muscles must be involved, potentially lowering the overall strength capacity of the user.

Below is a chart that can be used to determine 1RM based on percentages of weights lifted. There are many exceptions to this chart however based upon what muscles are being worked as well as the individual's comfort and skill level.

%1RM - # Repetitions Allowed
100 - 1
95 - 2
93 - 3
90 - 4
87 - 5
85 - 6
83 - 7
80 - 8
77 - 9
75 - 10
70 - 11
67 - 12
65 - 15

Calculating 1RM

There are few different ways you can calculate a 1RM for a specific exercise for an individual. For starters, a test can be conducted in which an individual can progress through a few "warm-up" sets and then, using a hypothetical 1RM, attempt to lift their heaviest weight possible for 1 repetition. Another way to calculate is by using the above chart to have an individual complete an exercise with a desired weight for as many repetitions as they can (preferably below 10 reps or so) to then calculate a theoretical 1RM.

When attempting an accurate 1RM test, where the individual is attempting to lift their heaviest weight for 1 repetition, a few things should be considered. First of all, only those individuals who are considered intermediate or experienced weightlifters who have a lot of experience at the specific exercise should attempt a 1RM test. Also, only power or core exercises that involve large muscle groups and multiple joints can withstand the large forces placed upon the body.

Assigning Load and Repetitions Based on the Training Goal

Once a strength and conditioning specialist has made a well-judged assessment based on an individuals needs (Step 1: Needs Analysis), as well as tested for actual and theoretical 1RM's, a training program can then be designed based upon the trainee's goals and therefore load and repetition quantities.

Generally, there are 4 main categories of resistance training goal sets.

1. "Strength" training is when an individual stays in a 1-6 rep range or so (85-100% 1RM). Strength training has minimal muscular growth, but very large potential for very strong muscles. Strength training should primarily be kept to "Core" exercises (large muscle groups, multi-joint).

2. "Hypertrophy" training is the training mode that creates the most muscular growth with added strength as well. Here, an individual should aim for a 6-12 rep range (85-70% 1RM).

3. "Endurance" training is to teach your muscles to be as fatigue-resistant as possible. Not a whole lot of strength gains are found here, nor much muscular growth, but muscular endurance training certainly has its place in training many individuals and athletes alike. Here you would want to push your repetitions higher than 12 (67% 1RM).

4. "Power" training is similar to strength training but slightly different. Due to the fact that the muscles are trying to displace (move) a weight as fast as possible, the muscles can not generate as much overall force, therefore slightly lowering the power weight goals to stay within a specific rep range. Here, you would be aiming for approximately 80% 1RM in order to stay in a 2-5 rep range.

Variation of the Training Load

Although an experienced weightlifter or athlete may mentally feel prepared to lift "heavy" 3 times a week (M,W,F), the heavy strains placed on the body can quickly lead to overtraining. Instead, a 3 day-a-week training schedule involving power and other core exercises should be split into a "heavy", "medium", and "light" day where the light day involves lifting 80% of the loads lifted on the heavy day, while maintaining the same repetition counts as the heavy day.
-Tyler Robbins
B.Sc. PTS