Month: June 2012

HSP on STACK

A couple new developments with HSP this week. First, I have joined STACK Media as an online contributor, and my first article went up yesterday. You can find it here, or for my running list of articles, visit my profile page. If you like the article, please share it with anyone else you know who may enjoy it.

Lifts that Build Muscle and Burn Fat Fastest

Second, I have finally put together a Facebook page at the urging of several people much smarter than me about social media. You can find it at Facebook.com/HenleySP and all likes are appreciated. I’ll be sharing links and other material there that I won’t put up here or on Twitter.

HSP on Facebook

I appreciate all your support and if there are any topics you would like to see here, please feel free to contact me at any time. Unless I am without internet, I make it point to respond within 72 hours to every message I receive (yes, I picked that up from Alan Stein, who gets a few more emails than I do and manages to do it).

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
Facebook.com/HenleySP
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

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Step Back to Move Forward: Looking at Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Method

I was planning to write a long post, detailing the 5/3/1 method and then sharing my view on it, but I realized I kept referring to the same source. This article on T-Nation is an excellent piece on Jim Wendler and the 5/3/1 program. It’s an older article, but I have read it quite a few times and stumbled across it again the other day. I strongly urge you to read it, especially if you are looking to add raw strength to your powerlifts. 5/3/1 is a perfect example of the difference between simplicity and ease. Put another way, the 5/3/1 method is simple, but far from easy.

One of the key concepts of 5/3/1 is to calculate your weights off your 90% 1RM rather than using the actual 1RM. This demonstrates an excellent point of training – sometimes, you need to step back to move forward. Egos can get in the way of results; be honest with your abilities and allow them to progress. Strength training is not a wonder pill (those are illegal most of the time) with immediate results, especially if you’re an experienced lifter. It takes time to allow incremental gains to build into significant results. Too often, we’re focused on the quick fix for immediate gain to add 50 pounds to a lift in a month or make other drastic changes in a relatively short time. The truth is, outside of individuals new to training, rapid gains are hard to come by. Think of building a skyscraper – one I-beam may not be much, but look at what time and effort can produce using these relatively small pieces.

Injuries and over-training occur when you try to do too much in too short a time. Focus on longer term goals of at least six months, or preferably a year, and realize that it’s better to make steady progress than monumental gains followed by an injury.

T-Nation.com

If you’re an aspiring powerlifter, or just looking for pure strength in the powerlifts, than I suggest taking a look at 5/3/1 and giving it a try. Its simplicity makes it an easy program to implement and follow, while requiring very little equipment (if you’re in a facility with limited choices). Step back, analyze what you can actually do, then move forward with consistent gains.

If you are looking for more information on 5/3/1, you can purchase Wendler’s ebook here.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

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5 Ways to Boost Your Workouts

It happens to everyone, we all get bored with our workouts from time to time. Maybe you’ve just been doing the same thing for too long or your training partner has skipped out on you lately, so you haven’t been as motivated. Then again, maybe you’re like me and enjoy trying new things in the gym and playing around with them in your workouts. Whatever the reason, here are a few ways to put the spark back in your love/hate relationship with training (because some will leave you cursing at me and/or the chair you try to sit on the next day).

1. Tabata Protocol

If you didn’t just get the chills, then you’ve never experienced the horror of Tabata front squats, allow me to explain. Tabata is essentially an interval training protocol created by Izumi Tabata and involves eight rounds of 20 seconds work to 10 seconds rest. So four minutes total (3:50, technically), what could be so tough about four minutes of work? The answer – everything. The ten seconds goes by in a hurry and the twenty seconds seems to last about three weeks. The demand on the anaerobic system is incredible, and the added rest periods (brief as they may feel) result in higher demands on the aerobic system as well. If you want to use weights instead of machines for cardio, try Tabata – specifically front squats or goblet squats. You won’t need much weight and these two exercises are great at forcing good form, whereas back squat or deadlift technique would suffer as you fatigue. If your form begins to fail you in a front squat, you drop the weight – a much safer alternative than straining your lower back.

2. Vary your Sets & Reps

While it might seem simple, often times this is all the variation needed to break through a plateau. For athletes who are training on their own without a coach providing the programs, or active individuals not using personal trainers, it’s easy to get locked onto a specific workout. The most common I see is someone staying on 3×10 work for months at a time. If it’s been a while since you lifted heavy, try a 5×5 program or some variation that demands more weight. Besides, I know for me it’s a lot more fun to lift for a triple than move moderate weights for 8-12.

3. Cluster Sets

If your in a phase where you NEED to maintain heavy weight training and don’t have the luxury of tossing in a week or two of higher rep workouts, then try cluster sets. Basically, cluster sets are groups of mini-sets with intraset rest periods. An example of this would be to take your 5RM deadlift and perform three sets of triples, with a 15-25 second rest between each. So in one set, you completed nine reps of your 5RM, nearly doubling the volume you would be able to complete without the short rests. The only limitations of cluster sets are you need to use heavy weights that can be split into manageable mini-sets (such as 3×3, 3×2, 4×2, 3-2-1, etc.) and lifts that aren’t power-based (like Olympic lifts).

4. Pyramid/Countdown Sets

This is another set/rep variation that I’ve used as cardio or to mix things up. Pick two or three exercises (any more and it just becomes a circuit, I prefer just using two) and do one rep of each, then two, then three…up to ten or twelve. Then head back down, nine reps each, eight reps, seven…then go invent some new curse words because your water is too far away. That’s a Pyramid set; it has other names, but Pyramid always made sense to me. A Countdown set is just the second half of a Pyramid, start at a set number of reps (again, I usually suggest between ten or twelve) and alternate exercises as you go down. With Countdown sets (also known by other names by other people) you can do two or three rounds, switching in different exercises to hit different muscle groups. For both varieties, be sure you’re using compound lifts to actually get the cardio benefits. Deadlifts, squat variations, lunge variations, push ups, presses, chin ups, rows, etc.

5. Interval Sprints

In case you haven’t noticed with the above suggestions, I like interval training as a change of pace or conditioning tool. The key difference is this time I am suggesting using actual cardio machines for your cardio – shocking. I’m not a huge fan of the treadmills in commercial gyms, they are usually more style than substance, but if you’re lucky enough to have a Woodway treadmill, sprint intervals are a whole new level of exhausting. If you’re one of the many who don’t have access to a Woodway (or similar, heavy-duty treadmill), then I suggest either a Schwinn Airdyne or a Spinning bike. I like the Airdyne because it’s the only bike I know of that involves your upper body, and spin bikes are great because you can stop and rest without needing to reset everything, as is the case with normal stationary bikes. There are several variations of sprint intervals, but coming from a track background, I recognize fast sprints – 10, 15, 20 seconds – instead of rapid jogging (30+ seconds).

Once you decide on how hard you want to run/bike, then it’s easy to program – start on every minute. So if you’re doing a 15 second sprint, you have 45 seconds to rest, then at 1:00 sprint another 15 seconds, and so on. The time of the sprint dictates the intensity, you should be spent afterwards and in need of the rest period. Speaking of the rest period, it’s just that – rest, no light jogging, walking, pedaling, anything. Recover as much as you can so you can hit the next round with maximum intensity. 8-15 rounds is a good way to end a workout, or if you like to mix it in during your lift (it instantly cranks up the intensity), 5 minute bursts work well.

These are just a few ways of giving your workout a boost or change of pace. Remember, use each independently, a workout consisting of all the above would – a) take several hours, b) probably kill you, or at least leave you unable to function for several days. Moderation is always important when using little boosters like these.

I hope you give them a try and enjoy the change. As always, if I can ever help you or your program, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

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Youth Football Training

If you have a child involved in youth football, or trying to get involved, I recommend visiting Youth Football Online. It’s an excellent source for parents and coaches trying to help their young athletes play the game they love.

Coach Jeff & Vin asked me to write a piece for parents on what to do with their kids during the off-season to help prepare them for the next year. Check it out here and let me know what you think.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES

480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

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6 Investments for Your Health (That are Worth the Money)

1. Foam Roller

I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions my love for foam rollers, and it still bears repeating – if you don’t have one, get one. For about twenty bucks, you can’t find a better deal to help your body.

2. Tennis Balls

As great as a foam roller is, sometimes it’s better to have something more localized. Tennis balls act as a poor man’s shiatsu massage, hitting on specific trigger points with more pressure than a foam roll can produce. Also great for smaller areas such as feet and the posterior shoulder. If you get a sleeve of three, keep one as a trigger point tool, then tape the remaining two together to form a peanut. The peanut is great for going along the spine and can be used for soft-tissue work or T-spine mobilization.

3. Theracane

Unless you’re lucky enough to have someone on call for massages whenever you please, you can’t do much better than the theracane. There are some areas (like the upper traps) that are hard to work on with the foam roll or tennis ball.

4. Ab Wheel

My favorite tool for training the abs, the ab wheel has stood the test of time and far outperformed any other “six pack abs” device. The abdominal muscles, as well as the lumber spine, were not made for repetitive flexion. The proper function of the rectus abdominis (the main abdominal muscle trained with crunch-related exercises) is to resist spinal extension and hyperextension, which is trained with the ab wheel.

5. Quality Shoes

Many leg and lower back issues caused by exercise can be attributed to improper footwear. My personal preferences are Asics and Brooks, but there are several other good brands (New Balance, Saucony, among others) available, I’ve just learned these fit my feet well. The human body is built from the ground up, a poor base will lead to other problems up the chain.

6. The Right Gym

Depending on what you need or want in a gym (pool, basketball, racquetball, etc.), the cost can go from modest to pretty absurd. Many gyms sound great with the bells and whistles they feature, but how much will you actually use them? The gym I grew up in was subsidized by the city and only cost $100 a year, which will only cover 2-3 months at some of the chains. There were no frills, no extra amenities, and it worked great for me. It might not have been the best fit for others, but for me it was perfect. I recommend looking into private personal training based gyms, most will offer times other than your scheduled training sessions where you are free to use the facility.

This is only a partial list, but it is a good place to start if you’re hoping to move & feel better. As always, if I can ever help out in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

All the best,

Drew Henley, CSCS, USAW, CES
480-241-4112
Drew@HenleySP.com
Twitter.com/DrewBHenley
YouTube.com/DrewBHenley

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