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Double Your Chin Ups in 30 Days

Double Your Chin Ups in 30 Days

Double Your Chin Ups in 30 Days
This article is a bonus feature for the Minimalist Muscle Course. Build muscle and look better naked without living in the gym. Enroll now and use the code “GAINS” for a readers’ only discount. Thank you for reading.

-Eric


Here’s how to add muscle in all the right places — your forearms, lats and biceps — by doing chin-ups. I’ll explain the exact process I’ve used to help clients double their chin-ups in 30 days.

But begs the question…Why do chin-ups matter?
For most lifters, grabbing a barbell and pulling their body to the top more than three or four times is tough.
But doing 6-10+ chin-ups without kipping and wiggling like an angry honey badger? Less than 10% of folks are capable (C’mon, use your imagination. Honey Badger wouldn’t care.)
Which leads me to say chin-ups are bad-ass. Beyond standing out in the gym and carrying bragging rights, chin-ups are one of the best exercises for adding muscle to your traps, lats, forearms, and lats.

Even better, you can do them in nearly any training environment, making them an ideal exercise for training on the road (free guide).

 

From a performance perspective?
Chin-ups are a wicked display of relative strength–or how strong you are for your size. Relative strength begets greater control and movement of your own body. And while the skills don’t transfer directly, being a badass with your chin-ups is a good indication you’re strong, fast, explosive, and close to becoming one of the ninjas from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon.

Okay, that was a stretch. But in the context of being strong, jacked, and athletic chins-up matter. A lot.

Real men do chin-ups. And so do badass women. Chin up prowess is a key indicator of:

* Relative strength: how strong you are for your size.
* Balanced training: whether you’re spending too much time posing between bench presses and biceps curls.
* Dedication: Wanna become a high-performance machine? Prove it by committing to chip-up improvement and getting strong for your size.

It won’t be easy. After the initial training stages, improving chin-ups is harder than staying composed during your first trip to the Boobie Bungalo. But, with this tested plan, focused recovery, and determination you can build size to your lats and arms, and brutal strength, and chin-ups to your repertoire.

Do Chin-Ups First in Training

A basic law of training is to do whatever is most important first in your workouts, especially technical and difficult exercises.This narrows your focus to the essential tasks to achieving your goal and helps base your training on neurological demands.

A lot of lifters mess this part up. They consider only squats, deadlifts bench presses, or Olympic lifts to be neurologically demanding.

Not so.

Any exercise where you’re unable to perform more six perfect reps IS a pure strength exercise, especially if it’s a multi-joint lift like chin-ups.

If you were a 400-pound squatter training for maximum strength you wouldn’t wait three or four exercises before attempting to squat 370 x 5 reps, right?

The same logic of intensity applies to chin-ups. If you’re looking to make rapid improvements or are unable to do more than six perfect chin-ups, move them up to the beginning of your routine–this is a strength building exercise and you need to do them while fresh to continue boosting strength and performance.

Use Multiple Rep Schemes

The chin-up is a great test of relative strength and indication of whether you need to cut body fat and or improve strength.

There are two ways to improve relative strength: improve absolute strength or drop a few pounds. We’ll focus on the former.

Heavy strength work builds the foundation for everything you do. And like constructing a building, you need a huge foundation to build layers of muscle, endurance, and athleticism.

Pure Strength rep schemes

Make building strength your primary goal, improving your ability to move your body and/or extra weight with two to six reps set.

Avoid failure on heavy rep sets, whether it’s 5×2, 6×3, or 4×4 with two to three minutes of rest in between. Each rep should be explosive on the concentric and controlled on the eccentric.

You’ll be chinin’ on the regular, so don’t blow your….energy in week one and fry your nervous system. Stay calm, stay cool, and avoid grinding on too many reps to build strength.

Play around with rep schemes, but the sweet spot here is between 10 and 20 heavy reps per week. Progressively add resistance and get strong.

Moderate Reps

For years, coaches like Chad Waterbury have talked about twenty-five reps as a key trigger for size and strength. And when looking at most rep schemes, that seems about right.

Twice per week 5×5, 4×6,3×8, and even 2×12-15 hit the perfect blend of high-tension and total time under tension to help you build strength and mass. Rest one to two minutes between sets while focusing on perfect form.

Perform one or two workouts per week with moderate, hypertrophy driven rep schemes.

High Reps

I’m giving you two options here.
First, attempt Rep schemes like 3×10-15, 2×12-20 once per week work wonders in stimulating size and endurance. Pick one pull weekly, keep the tempo slow, and maximize the time under tension.

BUT, since most people struggle doing more than 6 chin-ups, high rep work sets are out of the question.

Instead, employ a plethora of other lifts like inverted rows, high-rep dumbbell rows, band-assisted chin-ups, pull-downs, and my personal favorite, 2:1 lat pull-down to build in volume for both endurance and muscle growth.
You won’t be able to do a ton of reps on these, but what’s lacking in reps in made up in overloading the eccentric and time under tension.

Alternatively, here’s a chin-up with demonstrating 3-4 second eccentrics on my youtube channel. Here, the total time under tension for the set is 30-40 seconds, plenty to build endurance.


At the end of the day, your body doesn’t know reps. All it knows are it needs to recruit as many muscle fibers as possible (heavy, tension based work), and battle metabolic stress (moderate-high rep work) to complete a muscular action.

By subbing chin-ups and attacking local muscular endurance we can still provide tons of time under tension to boost endurance and gains.

Optimize Your Form:

You’re either getting better or getting worse with every rep, every set, and every workout.

Most lifters agree. They understand letting form collapse on exercises like deadlifts is not only risky but grooves faulty movement patterns likely to spark plateaus and injuries down the road.

Still, that logic isn’t applied to chin-ups. Why?
The answer eludes me.

Most lifters think it’s fine to keep, squirm, and wiggle your way up the bar. Like any lift, you’re opening the door for injury and poor habits. Don’t. Make every rep as perfect as possible.

Focus on the technique. This article from Lee Boyce is the best one I’ve seen.

All exercises, even if they’re bodyweight, need careful attention to form. Rest, recover and maximize rep quality before piling on weight.

You’re either doing an exercise right and building good habits, or you’re cheating and opening the door for injury.

Train Chin Ups Often

My clients improve fastest when we increase training frequency to three, four, or even five times per week.

Mastering any skill requires practice, whether it’s learning a new language or a new exercise.

Or to get geeky about it: consistent stimuli to any movement pattern leads to faster skill acquisition.

Now, you don’t need to chin up every time you walk under a bar, but the increased training frequency will speed up your progress.

First, you’ll improve technique via better intermuscular and intramuscular coordination. Then, more muscular contractions up-regulate protein synthesis for growth. With a ramp up in training volume, you’ll set the body up for a huge super-compensation effect when frequency goes back to once or twice per week.

To focus in on higher frequency training you’ll focus on pure strength once per week. This improves overall work capacity and muscle fiber recruitment.
Moderate rep training (6-12 reps) once or twice per week provides the volume to add strength and size concurrently.

Then, once per week hit high-rep, near failure sets. This provides the local muscular endurance to boost your chin-up prowess, test your progress, and add additional metabolic stress to boost muscle growth.

Vary Your Chin-ups

When training chin ups with high volume it’s important to provide slight tweaks to technique to prevent stagnation and overuse injuries.

It’s best to tweak grip position from supinated to pronated (overhand) and neutral (palms facing) once or twice per week. Also, move your hands narrower and wider by a few inches every few training sessions.

These small changes, even if it’s an inch difference in grip width, stress joints and muscles differently. This changes the recruitment patterns to prevent overuse injury and fire up new muscle growth and well-balanced strength.

Don’t overcomplicate this. Make small changes by moving your hands in or out an inch and add in a change of grip once per week, ideally on your moderate rep work.

Wrap Up: The Official Guidelines

Avoid failure and ugly reps. Remember, you’re either getting better or getting worse with every set and every rep.

Concurrently lift heavy, moderate, and lighter loads throughout the week. This obliterates weaknesses and sets your body up for a huge rebound after ramping up your training.

Train frequently. Do chin-ups four times per week for the next month. Then back off to once or twice per week. You’ll get stronger and bigger in a hurry.

Make small tweaks to your grip style and width weekly.

Step up to the plate. Balance push/pull strength to drive performance. A more powerful body will be your reward. And your new found muscle will stretch your shirtsleeves.

30 Days to Double your Chins Workout Plan

I kicked the tires on throwing this in the blog post as it’s directly from the Minimalist Muscle course. But, you’re worth it. Enroll now and use the code “GAINS” for a readers’ only discount. 

For the next month, arrange a push, pull, lower, total body split like this:

Monday: Upper Body Push

Warm Up +

1a.Band Dislocations 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1b.Scapular Wall Slides 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1c.Band Pull Apart 2×20 rest 0 seconds

  1. Chin-Up 2×5-6. Rest 60-90 seconds

 

  • Consider this an additional warm-up. We’re simply looking to boost volume here.

 

  1. Bench Press 5×5, rest 2-3 minutes
  2. Chin Up 3×6-8, rest 90-120 seconds

 

  • If necessary, add weight. This is your moderate rep hypertrophy work.

 

5a. Dumbbell Incline Bench 3×8-12, rest 45 seconds

5b. Plank 3×60 seconds, rest 45 seconds

  1. Dumbbell Military Press 3×10, rest 60-90 seconds

7a. DB rear delt fly 2×12, rest 0 seconds

7b. Push Up 2x Fail, rest 90-120 seconds

*Heavy Strength work followed by 3×8 (moderate rep) chin-up and auxiliary work

Tuesday: Lower Body (Volume)

Warm Up

1.Box Jump 3×5, rest 45-60 seconds     

2.45-degree back extension 3×10 rest 30 seconds

  1. Front Squat 6×4, rest 120 seconds

4.Dumbbell RDL 5×8 rest 60 seconds

5a. Bulgarian split squat 3×10/leg rest 60 seconds

5b. Ab rollout 3×10 rest 60 seconds

Wednesday: Upper Body Pull

1a.Band Dislocations 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1b.Scapular Wall Slides 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1c.Band Pull Apart 2×20 rest 0 seconds

2.Chin-Up Strength Focus 6×4, rest 2-3 minutes

 

  • Add weight and push strength work to the max.

 

  1. Dumbbell Row 4×8, rest 60 seconds

4a. Chest supported row 3×12, rest 45 seconds

4b. Face Pull 3×20, rest 45 seconds

  1.  2:1 Lat Pulldown 3×6/arm, rest 60-90 seconds

This serves as an eccentric overload to boost local muscular endurance AND attack high threshold muscle fibers.

  1. Dumbbell Hammer Curl 3×12/arm rest 45

Thursday: Off

Friday: Total Body

1a.Band Dislocations 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1b.Scapular Wall Slides 2×10, rest 0 seconds

1c.Band Pull Apart 2×20 rest 0 seconds

  1. Neutral grip Chin Up Moderate Rep Focus, 4×5-8,(4111 tempo) rest 120 seconds

 

  • This tempo means you’ll take 4 seconds on the eccentric, pause at the bottom, pull-up in one second, and pause one second at the top. These are brutal for building size, strength, and endurance.

 

  1.   Trap Bar Deadlift 5×5, rest 90 seconds
  2. Single arm dumbbell press, 3×6-8, rest 90 seconds

5a. Inverted Row 3×10, rest 30 seconds

5b. Goblet walking lunge 3×10/leg, rest 30 seconds

5c. Dumbbell Biceps curl 3×10, rest 30 seconds

Saturday/Sunday Rest or Conditioning

The basics of progressive overload apply on these workouts. Don’t go insane on week one and miss reps. Perfect technique, add weight over time and grow.

BONUS LADDERS

Once per week perform a ladder either on an off-day or 8+ hours separated from your pre-planned workout.
Here’s the deal.

If you can perform 1-6 chin-ups….
You start with one rep on a chin-up, take a brief rest, then add a rep until you hit five reps.
We’ll set a total goal of 50 reps, which is plenty to add size and an extremely dense, arm-pumping workout.

1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1+1= 50 chin ups


If you can do 6+ chin-ups….

Start with six reps and perform 2,4,6,4,2,4,6,2,4,6,4,2,4,6 for 50 chin ups.


This should take 4-6 minutes, tops and build incredible strength, size, and endurance.

Want to Build 8-15 pounds of muscle without living in the gym?


Join the Minimalist Muscle Course today.

Build muscle and look better naked without living in the gym. Enroll now and use the code “GAINS” for a special discount.

Chin Ups

The Power Primer: How an Embarrassing Story lead me to focus on Athleticism

hormones

( First, I have a story. Honestly,  it’s not a story I like to tell because it was embarrassing and a difficult time. Still, I’m sure you can relate.

At the end, I’ll tell you about my latest Workout, the Power Primer 2.0. The Power Primer is three full workout programs (36 weeks) of top-notch programming to help you build a body that performs like a top athlete…and looks good naked. But I’ll get to that later.  ) 

As a kid athleticism was never an issue.  I played a ton of sports, ran around the neighborhood making forts and playing pick-up games.

But, I was small and weak. Puny even. Especially compared to my classmates.

As a result, I was timed. I lacked confidence in how I looked, and how I performed playing sports.

This built up until at all once, it came to head.  It was high school gym class in late October. In Wisconsin, the frigid temperatures meant the ground was rock solid. Every time you hit the ground, it felt like falling on a pile of rocks.

We were playing flag Football…where the idea is to pull a flag rather than tackle each other into oblivion. Well, that’s the idea anyways.
Being a smaller, fast dude I was playing safety. My job was to run anyone down who might score.

The other team lined up and through the ball to Jason. Jason was the token overdeveloped, terminator of a dude that dominated every sport. He caught it and sprinted in my direction.
Soon, I was in the last place a puny unconfident dude wanted to be: between Jason and the end zone.

Jason had two options; race past me, or run through me.

Naturally, Jason decided I provided less resistance than a blade of grass. So he lowered his shoulder and sent my helpless corpse tumbling to the turf as he gliding to the end zone.

I looked up at the overcast sky. I heard the jeers. And then I lay there ,motionless for a moment.
Physically, I was a mess.

My wind was gone. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut.

My body ached and throbbed after getting tossed like a lifeless doll across the turf.

And that was just the start.

Mentally, I felt weak, pathetic, and insignificant.

I peeled my carcass off the grass, stumbled to a knee, and caught my breath.
As I stumbled to the sidelines, chin down and arm cradled at my side, the jeers and taunts grew louder.

I walked away from everyone: friends, teachers, and classmates.

I stood there, staring blankly into nowhere. I just wanted to be alone.

The skin on my cheeks tightened and my eyes got big. I held back tears of embarrassment. But my cheeks blushed, illustrating exactly how I felt inside.

Fuck it.  

Why was I even bothering with this stuff?

Then, I snapped out of it. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for myself, I got pissed.

Pride, passion, perseverance.

I heard the voice of an old coach saying these words. Whenever a game got tough, that was his credo.

That did it. It was a turning point.  Why let some asshole like Jason ruin me?

From there on, I dedicated myself to training.

To getting bigger, stronger, and better. To forge a body and will harder than iron.

Fast forward eight years. Sixty pounds of muscle and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Sixty pounds of muscle and a ton of enhanced confidence later, I was a coach.

Helping athletes and other dudes get strong, jacked, and athletic was my passion.

And then it happened.

I was at a seminar, working with other trainers and a handful of coaches on sprint technique.

Problem was, I hadn’t done much in the way of sprinting, jumping, or sports in a few years.

Competitive and intramurals sports were over.

Now, I relegated my fitness to lifting heavy shit and the bi-monthly sprint workout.

We all stood in a line, facing the instructor, and began a skipping drill.

I tried my best to mimic the drill he covered, but to no avail. I skipped awkwardly, like a teenager who had just finished his growth spurt. Bewildered by my lack of coordination, I lost focused and stumbled over my own feet.

What in the fuck was I doing?

Rather than the athleticism I’d had my whole life, I looked like a convulsing teenager who had just seen his first FULL BOOB.

The same crushing embarrassment took hold. My skin flushed. This time, I cracked a joke.

It was my new coping mechanism. But I wasn’t really fooling anyone, least of all myself.

Despite a fake smile and a few jokes, my gut wrenched. I stood there, embarrassed and dumbfounded.

Sure, I was strong, lean, and pretty built. But where had all l my athleticism gone?

Further, I asked what’s the point in all this heavy lifting, counting macros, and dedication if we ignore the basic idea of improving athleticism?

That’s the problem I’d set out to fix. First for myself, and then for hundreds of clients who wanted to be the total package: strong, lean, and athletic.
Today, more than ever, many of us are weak. Many kids drop out of sports by age 12.

Overprotective parents don’t help. Neither do sedentary desk jobs.

Neither do sedentary desk jobs.
And despite the increasing popularity of fitness, actual sports and athleticism are quickly going down the shitter.

 

The result?

A fair number of strong and lean bodies, but piss-poor athleticism and power.

To steal from Nate Green’s masterful rant titled “For the Guys who Don’t Workout.

“But you gotta understand the gym doesn’t define me. I am not my broad shoulders. I am not my six-pack. I am not my freakin’ biceps.”

Sure, your broad shoulders, six-pack, and biceps are great. But you deserve more. You deserve a capable body and the unconquerable will that comes with building athleticism and powerful performance.

And that means changing your training to incorporate values of athleticism, namely, explosive power.

After working with hundreds of clients, I’ve found that adding in explosive power to be the best method for getting what we all want: a strong, shredded, and athletic body.

That’s exactly what these five exercises deliver: a blend of strength, athleticism, and explosive power to unleash your inner athlete.

By adding these five movements alone into your training, you’ll be light years more athletic than the average meathead.

5 Power Primer Exercises to Build Athleticism

Jump Rope

Jump ropes aren’t a stupid tool you force-fed in Elementary school. They’re a badass old-school tool that boosts athleticism and shreds bodyfat.

Let’s dive into boosting athleticism first.

Jumping rope develops speed, agility, and coordination for sports. Sprinting is great too ( and I’ll cover it later), but for dudes who haven’t run around the block in five years, jumping into full-speed sprints is asking for injuries.

You wouldn’t jump into near-maximal lifting after a long layoff, would you?

Nah. You’re smarter than that.

The same philosophy applies to sprints. You must first condition your joints and ligaments, especially the Achilles tendon, for high-speed impact.

Even better, the jump rope is a one of the safest conditioning tools for two reasons:

First, jumping rope is a self-limiting exercise, meaning that when your form breaks down the exercise ends.

To be successful skippin’ the ole’ rope, you’re forced to stay in an aligned, joint stacked position, stabilizing your core under the load of movement.

bach performance jump rope, athleticism, power primer, the power primer
This teaches your core to hold position under movement while preventing the chances of overuse.

Second, jumping rope is low-impact despite a high number of foot strikes. This keeps the joint stress low and conditions the Achilles tendon for explosive movement. Achilles tendon injuries are alarmingly common in weekend warriors.

The jump rope provides one of the best prevention tools around. It is exceptionally effective both as a low impact athleticism and conditioning tool. For most, jumping rope two or three times per week for 10-15 minutes provides a huge boost.

Squat Jump

The squat jump is one of the best exercises to improve your power and get more athletic, especially if your gym doesn’t allow Olympic lifts. Squat jumps mimic the squat and a vertical jump, bridging the gap between jumping in sport and squatting in the gym.

In the short term, these explosive exercises improve your workouts by activating high-threshold motor units to fire and recruit more muscle during training. This means you’ll be able to lift more weight and stimulate more muscle growth and strength during workouts. 

 

In the long-term, you’ll recruit more muscle fibers with less effort.

This makes it easier to call all more muscle to action and smash heavy weights, thus helping you build a strong, lean, and explosive body.

How to do it: There are three phases: loading, exploding, and landing.

Loading: Set up with feet about shoulder-width apart in an athletic stance with arms up at chest height. The loading phase uses downward arm swing with flexing at the hips and knees to load your legs.

Exploding: Swing your arms up while extending your hips and knees, taking off on the balls of your feet. Extend the arms overhead and aim to extend the body with the ankle, knee, hip, trunk, shoulder, and ear all aligned.

Landing: Bend your knees into a squat position and absorb force evenly through the foot. Keep your chest and head up, looking straight ahead.

How many: Three sets of five reps with 60-90 seconds rest. Perform on a lower-body training day, before a squat or deadlift.

Hill Sprints

Sprinters have some of the world’s best bodies. And while correlation does not equal causation, sprinting is a basic skill in sports and gets you shredded.

So what’s the key?

Sprints create a physiological response like high-intensity weight lifting.
In sprinting, your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves, and hips generate insane amounts of force while your spine stabilizes and transfers power.
This builds stronger legs and youthful athleticism while triggering a massive hormonal shift in your body.

 

Three hormones that help you look better naked are affected by sprints:

Testosterone – The major masculinizing hormone in your body. Greater testosterone levels improve your energy, improve sex drive (wee!), build stacks of lean mass, and cut body fat.

Growth Hormone (GH) – GH is released in response to large muscle contractions and is further stimulated by training without full recovery.

Triggered by metabolic stress, the stressful environment when you’re gasping for air and muscles are on fire, GH is referred to as the fountain of youth. GH slows the aging process, aid in fatty acid metabolism, and boost protein synthesis.

Improved Insulin Sensitivity – Huge muscular contractions stimulate improved insulin sensitivity, which improves markers of cardiovascular health, builds lean muscle, and carves body fat off your body.

Further, improved insulin sensitivity improves nutrient partitioning. That means your body improves at breaking down nutrients for energy and muscular recovery rather than fat storage.

What to Do: Hill or incline sprints are best as they reduce injury risk. The hill makes it mechanically impossible to over stride, decreasing the risk of the dreaded hamstring pull.

Further, running up a hill shrinks the distance your foot covers to the ground, decreasing joint stress.Sprint twice per week, as an individual workout or after a lift.
After a warm-up, sprint all out for eight – twelve rounds of sprints.

Here’s a sample six-week progression:

Weeks One and Two: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45 seconds
Weeks Three and Four: Sprint 20 seconds, rest 40 seconds
Weeks Five and Six: Sprint 25 seconds, rest 35 seconds

High Pull

I love cleans, but for a lot of lifters, years of heavy loading and poor thoracic mobility make it impossible to catch the bar with the elbows up. Enter the high pull.

The high pull uses explosive hip extension, teaching the glutes, quads, and hamstrings to generate insane amounts of force while your core stabilizes your spine and elbows drive the bar up.

As a result, the high pull helps you develop explosive athletic power and builds a jacked and athletic body. After a few weeks of high pulls, you’ll notice thicker glutes and hamstrings to pair with thick traps and cables for forearms.

High pulls are great on both upper and lower body days. Since they’re explosive in nature, make high-pulls the first exercise you do in training to get more athletic with sets and reps like 3-4 sets of 3-6 reps.If you want to add a bit more size, add them after your main lift for 4-5 sets of 6-8 reps.

Clean Grip Reverse Lunge

Most lifters have tight hips, achy knees, a weak upper back, underactive abs and tons of asymmetries between their legs. If I told you I had an exercise that takes care of all these ailments and makes you more athletic and resistance to injury, you’d say I was full of shit, right?

Well, I’m not. The clean grip reverse lunge is that exercise.

Reverse-Lunge-Side

Stronger thoracic extensors: Are you hunched over your smartphone reading this?

Tsk, Tsk!

Bad posture is an epidemic and we’re all guilty. To improve posture and shoulder health we need to train the traps, serratus, levator scapulae, rhomboids, and lats to hold position and prevent you from flexing forward. Holding the bar in the clean grip does exactly that.

 

Less Knee Stress: Holding the barbell on the front of your body limits the weight you can use. That means less joint compression on the knee and spine.
Further, stepping backward keepings your shin vertical, limiting shear stress on the knee. By reducing shear and compressive stress, you’ll keep happier, healthier knees.

Better Abs: Holding the bar on the front of your body forces your entire core to engage, keeping your vertical so you don’t fold like an accordion.

Fix asymmetries: The clean grip reverse lunge requires dynamic stabilization and single leg strength. This works the major muscles in your leg and what’s termed the lateral subsystem, a group of neglected muscles (quadratus lumborum, adductors, and glutes) to stabilize each leg and generate strength.

Medicine Ball back Toss

The medicine ball back toss is one of the best exercises to get more athletic for two reasons:
1. You get to throw stuff.
After a long day, or just for the hell of it, it’s fun to throw heavy stuff around.
2. Explosive Hip Extension.
Explosive hip extension is the driving force behind taking off in a sprint, maximizing your clean, squat, or deadlift, and jumping. Adding a medicine ball is just another way to add explosiveness to the same movement pattern while having a bit more fun.

Instead of squats or deadlifts, add medicine ball back tosses in the beginning of your workout for 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps.

The Power Primer 2.0 is here!

Most lifters fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all other training parameters.

That’s fine for elite athletes. But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve created eight months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until 2017.

Get the Power Primer Today

Athlete Strong in 12 Weeks, Power Primer


1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

Four Training Splits to Build an Athletic Body

The Power Primer

We’ve both been there. Your bar speed is explosive on every rep, and you’re adding strength regularly.

Your skin is tighter, shirt sleeves stretching, and muscles bulging as you’re building muscle and losing fat simultaneously.

You’ve got tons of energy, feel athletic, and are crushing your training.
Then WHAM. Like getting hit by a semi, your progress comes screeching to a halt.

Suddenly, your joints ache. Without four cups of coffee, you’re unmotivated, mentally foggy, and exhausted. You get through one or two easy warm-up sets and you’ve had enough–the gym is the last place you want to be. Suffice to say, your training sucks.

Except for the occasional finisher, brutal conditioning workout, or off day you should make constant gains and enjoy training. That’s why when your training takes a sharp dive off the deep end and your progress stalls it’s time to change.

Not just your grip or your stance. Nor a change from front squats to back squats.

No, I’m talking a monumental shift. A new training split. Yes, your long-term training principles should remain constant, but you need new methods. As long as you’re adding weight to the bar, moving like an explosive athlete, eating well, and sleeping enough then a new training split is what you need to build an athletic body.

The Power Primer, athletic body

 

And despite what some coaches say, there’s no one size fit’s all approach to training splits. A bodybuilder shouldn’t train exactly like an athlete, nor should a powerlifter train exactly like a weekend pavement pounder. Your training depends on your goals, energy system requirements, schedule, and individual differences.

That said, let’s review the best splits to help you build a stronger, shredded, and athletic body.  I’ll explain the good and the bad of each, giving you the knowledge to pick your next training split so you can build the lean, athletic look you’re after.

Either way, a new program is exciting—renewed motivation will have you attacking each workout with eye-splitting intensity.

Decide your goal, stick to sound principles, and pick the training routine that best fits your goals.

Upper Lower Training Split

Upper-lower training splits are a novel progression for total-body training splits to allow more recovery and training volume. Upper body and lower body days alternate for 4 workouts in a 7-day training split.

Pros: Upper-Lower training splits are a great progression from total body training and work well with most populations looking to gain size and strength concurrently. Upper-Lower splits allow greater training frequency for quicker learning and mastery while still using significant loading, aka big ole’ weights like a boss. Upper-lower splits offer a moderate training frequency and Moderate-high volume for gains hypertrophy.

Cons: There are unbalanced training times with upper body workouts taking much longer than most lower body sessions. Upper-lower training splits offer shorter recovery time between training sessions compared to body-part splits, which may hinder recovery if you’re not getting enough sleep, working on tissue quality, nor eating enough steak. (P.S. here’s my favorite steak recipe)

Lower body training is brutal; doing it two times per week might be too much for the weak minded.

Example:

Monday: Upper Body (Push Strength Emphasis)

Tuesday: Lower Body (Squat Pattern Strength Emphasis)

Wednesday: Off/active recovery

Thursday: Upper Body (Pull Strength Emphasis)

Friday: Lower Body (Hinge pattern strength Focus)

Saturday/Sunday: Off

Total Body Training Split

Total body training splits are maximally efficient and train the body as a unit rather than it’s component parts.

Pros: Total body splits are maximally efficient for those short on time and looking for full body stimulation. High frequency of stimulation for muscles and moderate training volume suits many goals, such as fat loss, strength building, and muscular hypertrophy. Total body training is good for building an athletic body and allows movement training like sprints.

Minimized “fluff” forces workouts to focus on the essential, not 13 variations of lateral raises. Total body workouts are great for beginners, fat loss, and general health. It’s easy to integrate other training modalities around total body routines as most movements and muscles are hit during each workout.

 

Cons: Low intra-workout volume will minimize metabolic stress related hypertrophy, so it’s not the best for your sweet, sweet biceps gains.

Plus, stronger lifters tend to struggle with recoverability from training legs 3x+/week. It’s a difficult split to train more than 3-4x per week without knowledge and self-awareness for auto-regulation.

Among all programs, these are the universal “best” for most busy dudes. They cover all your bases and eliminate the fluff. 

Example:

Monday:

1.Power Clean 5×3

2.Bench Press 3×6

3.Lunge 3×8-12

4a.Farmer Walks 3×30 seconds

4b. Dips 3x 30 seconds timed set

Tuesday: OFF/conditioning

Wednesday:

1.Push Press 5×3

2.Deadlift 4×6

3.Chin Up 3×8-12

4a.Plank 3×30 seconds

4b. Biceps Curl 3x 30 seconds timed set

Thursday: OFF/conditioning

Friday:

1. Back Squat 5×3

2. Bent Over Row 4×6

3. Dumbbell Bench Press 3×8-12

4a. Kettlebell Crosswalk 3×30 seconds

4b. Hip Thrust 3×12

Saturday/Sunday: Off/Conditioning

3. Push-Pull Training Split

Push/Pull Training splits break training up by movement pattern. The movements on the posterior side of the body are predominantly responsible for pulling actions like deadlifts and chin-ups while the front/anterior side of the body is responsible for pushing actions like push-ups.

Unless you’re a glutton for punishment and want to try legs four days per week, pair legs on pull days.

Pros: Push-Pull routines are suitable for intermediate-advanced trainees. Push-pull routines are an economical way to train and allow for flexible planning. Moderate training frequency is better for skill acquisition, meaning you’ll learn movements and exercises faster.
You can combine push-pull routines combine with other training splits to create hybrid programs like an upper-lower push-pull routine.

Cons: Push-pull splits are limited with athletic populations unless you break up upper and lower body sessions. In this case, it becomes difficult to maximize training efficiency. Push-pull routines are a bit advanced for beginners looking to maximize their gains.

Example:

Day One: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Two: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Three: OFF

Day Four: Pull (legs/hamstrings, back, biceps, lower back)

Day Five: Push (chest, shoulders, triceps, legs/quads, abs)

Day Six: OFF

Day Seven: OFF

4. Intensive/Extensive Training Split

Giggity.

These are my favorite.

The intensive/extensive split bases training splits on the neural demands of a workout. For example, a heavy/explosive day is often followed by a metabolic/higher volume day.

This also corresponds with conditioning.

So, a workout focused on jumps, cleans, heavy squats, and sprints is neurally demanding as it drains your nervous system. Without ample recovery between intensive training sessions, you’ll feel like garbage and injury risk will sky-rocket.

Instead of back-to-back heavy, you’d want to make your next session higher rep, less intense (in terms of loading and explosive exercises), and focused more on the pump.

Three or four days of training per week works best.

Pros: Intensive/Extensive training splits are advanced programming strategy for athletes looking to take the next step. Great for building an athletic body and training movement skills like acceleration in coordination with resistance training. Intensive/Extensive splits offer a sound progression for developing greater levels of performance.

Cons: Intensive/extensive training splits are advanced and complicated to design. IF your primary goal is to look great naked, you’ll want to eliminate *some* of the movement training and focus more on higher-rep work for better muscle building. Workouts are longer in duration on intensive days due to neural recovery demands of intense exercise.

Get Athletic an Athletic Body:

This example uses a Push-pull split (mentioned above) with movement training if you’re a competitive athlete.

Monday: Speed work (before if competitive, conditioning if non-competitive athlete), Olympic lift+ compound push exercises

Tuesday: Metabolic/ change of direction (before if competitive, conditioning if non-competitive athlete), Pull Emphasis

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Speed work, Olympic lift+ compound push exercises

Friday: Metabolic focus, pull emphasis in weight room

Saturday/Sunday: Active Recovery

 

 

Look Good Naked:

This is focused on keeping you athletic, but a bit more on body composition so you look hot.

Monday:  Olympic lift+ compound push exercises, Heavy and explosive. Light conditioning.

Tuesday: Pull Emphasis, high rep (8-15+) and hypertrophy focused. Hard conditioning.

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Olympic lift+ compound pull exercises. Heavy and explosive, light conditioning.

Friday: Pull Emphasis, high rep (8-15+) and hypertrophy focused.

Saturday/Sunday: Hard conditioning 1x, active recovery

 

5. Primary Mover + Opposing Supersets

Also known as non-competing supersets or agonist, antagonist supersets these training splits work opposing muscle groups together. For example, a dumbbell bench press and a chest supported row.

Pros: Non-competing supersets are good for building muscle and achieving training balance.

You don’t want to be lopsided or injury prone, right?

Increased blood flow to antagonist muscle groups may improve performance and metabolic stress-related hypertrophy. Non-competing supersets are flexible and can allow for 3-6 days of training based on training age. Supersets are easily done to maximize training efficiency.

Cons: Difficult to integrate movement skills, but you can easily use jumping rope or sprinting as conditioning as a second workout.  A bit advanced for beginners and tough to recover from for older dudes.

Example:

Monday: Chest+ Back

Tuesday: Legs optional Shoulders, sprints

Wednesday: Off

Thursday: Chest/Back, sprints

Friday: Biceps/Triceps

Saturday/Sunday: active recovery/off

 

Training Split Considerations:

Above all else your training must be specific to your goal. IF that means getting jacked and athletic, then stop wasting your time on useless body part splits.

No matter how #beastmode you go– you won’t be a stronger, leaner, and more athletic by spending half your time curling in the squat rack.

How much time will you dedicate to training? Regardless of how “busy” you are you still have 24 hours like the rest of us. I don’t say this to be a dick, but it’s true.
You have the time to prioritize training if you want your dream body. Regardless, weigh how committed you are and pick a training split you know you’ll crush. For most dudes, that means crushing a total body training split so they cover all their bases.

Remember, a so-so training split done consistently is better than the best training split done inconsistently.

Training Experience: How strong and experienced are you in the gym?

For most guys, they’re best off crushing total body or upper lower training splits to get strong, explosive and athletic. Still, make sure you’re varying training as you gain strength and experience to prevent plateaus and minimize joint stress.

Recovery: The body is an integrated system. Rather than looking at recovery based on how your muscles feel you must take into account everyday stress, the nervous system, sleep quality, and nutrition.

For example, for a the past few years I crushed training in a high-end performance facility. That meant tons of sprints, jumps, throws, coffee, and explosive demonstrations. All these short, high-intensity bouts added up quickly, and I had to dial back heavy lifting, sprints, and jumps.
Now that I train fewer clients, write more, and demo less, I’m more recovered and can train harder more often.

Stress is systemic, everything counts and should be factored into your training.

Your Training Split to Build an Athletic Body

If your current training isn’t helping your build an athletic body, then  you need to analyze your training, recovery, diet, and supplementation to fill in the gaps.

It doesn’t need to be complicated– find a program that fits your schedule, allows hard, athletic training, recover, and stick to it for the next 12 weeks. Then, reassess things once gains slow down and revisit this article to shock your body into new growth.

thePowerprimer athlete strong

>> Get The Power Primer here <<

Most lifters fall into the trap of endlessly pursuing one goal at the expense of all other training parameters.

That’s fine for elite athletes. But for the rest of us, we’re after the total package.

There’s no better tool to bridge the gap between the body you want and the athleticism you deserve than my latest program The Power Primer, 2.0.

I’ve I’ve created a Full Eight Months worth of programming to get you Strong, Shredded, and Athletic. This isn’t a program for athletes.

It’s for those of us that refuse to accept pathetic athleticism a the cost of building your best-looking body.

It’s time to bridge the gap between athleticism and aesthetics.

It’s time to unleash the Power Primer and build your leanest, strongest, and most athletic body to date.

Think about it.

For less than you spend on protein powder each month, you’ll have all your workouts expertly planned, organized, and guided by a custom video guide from now until 2017.

Get the Power Primer today.

1. Gould D, Petlichkoff L. Participation motivation and attrition in young athletes. In: Smoll FL, Magill RA, Ash MJ, eds. Children in Sport. 3rd ed. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics; 1988:161-178.

The Simple Way to Achieve Your Fitness Goals

Online Personal Training

If all workouts went as planned, supplements were a magical cure-all, and the perfect diet really existed, most guys would be swinging a hammer like Thor and picking up Natalie Portman.

Instead, we bite off more than we can chew.

We throw the the old workout program in the trash, and latch onto the next big thing. 

We change our entire dietary strategy. We load up with tupperware containers. Or we starve ourselves for half the day until our magical “feasting” window arrives.

But there’s really no single perfect answer. One size never fits all. 

My approach is to focus on small steps that create big, life-changing improvements quickly. My clients get bigger, stronger, leaner, and more athletic.

The article explains explains how. 

First, Picture This

It’s 4:45 pm, Monday afternoon. Work is over. And you’ve traded in your button down for your slick new bro-tank.

 International bench press day has arrived. And your pump is going to be epic.

Dudes old and young flock to the center of the gym to take control of the bench press.

You’re no different. Warm-up and activation done, it’s time to get to work.

Reps one, two, and three pop up easily, four starts to grind, and rep number five is firmly planted on your chest.

“WTF?”

This is the same weight you started your work sets at last week…and the week before. You’re five weeks into your new program, the article said you would be hitting new PR’s by now.

Plus, you added two sets of 12 inverted rows before your bench.

Last week, you read a great article that advised plyometric push ups before you bench because it “instantly improves your strength and supercharge your nervous system.”

It seems, you’re doing all the right things.

In the last four weeks the changes you made should make your strength skyrocket, muscles grow in heaping slabs, and fat to slide off your chiseled new physique.

Problem is, you’re completely and utterly overwhelmed. Despite your efforts, strength and muscle are falling off…not piling on.

 

Here’s the hard truth: You bit off more than you can chew.

You have set goals, have huge ambitions, and a have the work ethic to match. These are all necessary tools to get a bigger, stronger, more athletic body. But, you changed too much, too soon.

I’ve learned huge lessons helping hundreds of clients transform their lives

Big problems are rarely solved with commensurately big solutions. Rather, they are often solved by a sequence of small solutions and small victories.

Rather than picking and changing as many things as possible immediately, pick just one.

One. Uno. Einer. Un. 

 JUST change one behavior at a time, and implement it flawlessly.

Let’s put this strategy into play. Let’s day a 31 year old man wants to gain ten pounds of muscle, and drop his body fat from 20% to 15% — a common and achievable goal.

To hit goals, break them into two categories:

  • Outcome Goals: drop body fat from 20% to 15% and gain 10 pounds of muscle
  • Behavioural Goals:  lift four times and week and bit macronutrient goals 80% of the time. Behavioral goals pave the path to the outcome goal.

 Each behavioral goal must be mastered over a period of two weeks. Once you have performed the goal 14ish times,  it will be ingrained as a behaviour.   After two solid weeks, we’ll take another baby step that brings you closer to your goals.

Here are some examples.

Weeks 1-2 ==> Perform four muscle-building workouts per week, all under 1 hour in length.

*Note: Because this is only four days per week it works as a great introduction to the method without overloading your motivation.

Why: Resistance training 4x/week in one my specialized programs provides the necessary hormonal influx, metabolic stress, and muscular tension to build muscle.

Weeks 3-4 ==> Drink two customized workout shakes each day.

Why: I hook my clients up with customized nutrition plans to fit their goals. In this case, it’s an influx of high quality nutrients  through real food and calories to support lean muscle growth and overall health.

Weeks 5-6 ==> Begin a Carb Cycling Routine.

Why: Carb cycling, the fluctuation of carbohydrate intake based upon the day, will keep fat loss at a minimum while providing fuel for high quality workouts.

Weeks 7-8 ==>  Spend 3 minutes foam rolling and stretching each day.

Why: Active recovery methods, such as foam rolling and stretching will boost recovery, keeping you healthy and consistent in the gym.

Follow this program and  you’ll be much closer to unleashing your inner athlete. And remember, it’s just one example of the customized approach I provide.

One goal, two weeks. Simple, right?

Build up over time, simple works. That’s how I help my clients get awesome results. May I help you? Click below to find out more and get a 20% discount.

Apply Now for 20% Off Select Packages

Wrap Up: How to Win Every Day

Winning your goal daily builds successful behaviors that bring you closer to the stronger, leaner, and more athletic body you’ve been working for. Getting better every day, even if it’s one small step keeps the seemingly impossible within reach.

If you’re struggling to get bigger, stronger, and leaner, then I’d like to help you.

By effectively helping you “chunk” your goals into small, easily attainable parts, I’ll speed up your progress in the gym.

The Best part?

I’ll personally guide you and carve the path to your goals, eliminating the confusion and winning every day.

Take charge and build your way to a stronger, leaner, and more athletic body today.

Head over to Bach Performance Coaching until September 21st for a 20% discount on all six-month training programs. That means we’ll get you bigger for Christmas, then leaner for Spring Break. 

5-Minute Micro-Routines to Build Muscle

Online Personal Training

High frequency training is one of the most important factors for muscle growth, yet it’s habitually neglected.

What gives?

Rather than opt for frequently training muscle most dudes train sporadically and as a result, stay small, un-athletic, and softer than they want to be. Basically, they develop the “dadbod,” unintentionally. Well, I’m here to change that.

In today’s post I’m going to show you the strategy I use with my online clients to help them:

  • build more muscle
  •  move like athletes
  •  cut body fat

Starting today, you’ll have the blueprint to accelerate progress. You’ll build an athletic body, no matter how busy you are.

It all started….

…with a message from my online client Jake:

“ Eric, I literally can’t get my workouts done right now. I’m so damn busy and can’t get workouts in with my current schedule. That’s why I keep missing the scheduled sessions.”

Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare message.

Most of my clients are extremely busy. They lack  the time to find and execute the training programing best for them. That’s why they hire me.

Back to the story.

In this case, Jake was already following a condensed, minimalist training routine. Once his schedule got exceedingly busy, training sessions started falling by the wayside.

This causes two major problems:

First, without frequent stimulation and reminders of a goal, people take a  “fuck it” attitude and revert to past behaviours. They don;t stay the course when things get busy.

This means half-assed workouts and poor dietary decisions. The result? No results. The lean, athletic body they wanted doesn’t happen. One missed workout turns into two or three. A snowball effect takes hold. 

 

Second, you can’t win with sporadic workouts. Consistent training is essential. So are small wins along the way in your fitness journey. They build momentum for long term success.

Beyond the psychological havoc inconsistency brings, it’s physically impossible to build a high-performance body if you don’t train consistently.

Aim for Consistent, Small Wins

Instead of scrapping the whole plan when you get busy, it’s best to implement simple routines that take place at the same time each day. Mornings are best. You’ll reinforce goals, achieve small victories and eliminatesdecision fatigue.

Here’s What to Do:

  1. Pick two or three exercises and do them every morning right when you wake up. Pick one from the Following:

Upper Body Exercise:

Push up; feet elevated push-up, chin up (get a simple, 30 dollar doorframe chin up bar), Pike push-up, and elbow tap push up

Trunk Exercise:

Mountain climber, plank, push up plank, side plank, glute bridge, bird-dog, elbow tap

Lower Body Exercise:

Bodyweight squat, split squat, step back lunge, forward lunge, lateral squat, toe-grab bodyweight squat, single leg RDL

  1. Perform the exercises in order for sets of 5-10 reps for five minutes without rest.

That’s it.

Take your morning pee and do a simple routine.

Why 5 Minute Micro-Routines Help you Build Muscle

Seven days per week for 5 minutes each adds up to a lot of additional training. At the end of the week, you’ll have busted out an additional 35 minutes of resistance training extremely dense microcircuits.

To quantify the volume: let’s say you do 45 push-ups during each workout.

In 30 days, that’s an additional 1,350 push-ups in a month.

DAYUM.

If you did an additional 1,350 push-ups next month, would you be bigger and stronger?

Without a doubt you would be biggest, stronger, and consistently making progress, and that’s without taking your other training into account.

Wrap Up

You’re busy. I get that.

Still, there’s no excuse to completely abandon your training. You, me, and Richard Branson have the same 24 hours.

You CAN make time to make progress if you want it.

Dense, high frequency training is the best way to add muscle fast when you’re in a time crunch. More specifically, five-minute morning routines create tons of additional training volume for muscle growth while “winning small” each day to keep you on-track and engaged in your progress.

More importantly, these small circuits reinforce why you’re training in the first place, leading better consistency with your big training sessions.

Take action and get started.

-Eric

P.S. How much are you getting from your current workouts?

Have you really changed your body and your life over the last six months, or even two years?

Most people jump from program to program. Others hit the same workout they’ve done since high school.

Neither is a good option.

A lack of variety never allows the body to change, while too much variety never allows you to get good at anything.

Rather than being disappointed despite your efforts, let me do the planning and coaching for you. I charge depending on your coaching package. I offer three separate tiers. There is something for every budget.

If you’re a serious action taker and ready to get results: let’s do this thing.

Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

“Hey, bones!”

Yea, you.

In the skinny jeans and skin-tight compression shirt.

If you’re a skinny hard gainer struggling to gain a mere pound on the scale and build some muscle before beach season you best listen up to someone who’s been there.

I high school I once peeled my 103lb carcass off of the football field after being plastered on my back. The sad part isn’t that I got lit up—it’s that the other player could have ran anywhere. The field was wide open.

I just provided less resistance than the open field and a few blades of grass.

Embarrassing. Enraging really. 

It’s time to stop being the object of ridicule despite busting your ass in the gym and seeing zero results.

The journey to appreciable muscle is an arduous one, but if you’re willing to re-evaluate your training, eat more than a small army, and persevere through the tough training then you’ll build muscle.

Trust me—I spent years spinning my wheels with pointless exercises, training methods, and routines. While I’ll never be huge, I’m consistently 185lbs at 5’8″ and fairly lean–a worthy goal for any hard-gainer. Now, I’m here to help you avoid the same fate and align your training with your muscle building goals.

training tips for skinny guys
Photo Credit: Ryan Dial

Genetics be damned, these five training laws coupled with a firm nutrition plan (coming Tuesday) will help any hard gainer finally build high-performance muscle.

Continue Reading Here on T-Nation for the Full article. Using these tips, I escaped the Hardgainer Mindset and body.

It’s time you do the same.

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Escape from Hardgainer Hell: 5 Training tips for Skinny Guys

Eight Training Splits for Strength and Mass

How many times have you started the perfect new training split only to realize it doesn’t fit your goals or your busy schedule, leaving you banging your head against a wall wondering “where to go now” with your training.

training splits for strength and mass Keep Reading

Part 3 Training Essentialism: Eliminate Useless Exercises

In today’s post we”ll work together to Eliminate Useless Exercises to optimize your training. Before we dive into that lets rehash what we covered in the past two posts.

First, we covered the essential pieces what every workout needs. The 80/20 if you will, that give you the most bang for your buck. Training for one goal while ensuring progressive overload in the major movements is key to long-term results. If you haven’t read part one What Every Workout Needs please do so now.

In part two we addressed the biggest issue of all: training consistency. A plan is only as good as it’s execution. To set yourself up for success you must understand your limits and create a plan that accounts for your goals and busy lifestyle. Your training isn’t 100% perfect for your goal, but a program performed with focus and intensity consistently will beat the perfect program performed sporadically every time.

Moving on my friends. It’s time to delve into the truth about elimination. I don’t mean throwing away all your clothes, getting rid of your possessions, and moving to a shack in Guam, but eliminating unnecessary barriers in training. The biggest problem most guys have is focusing on too many damn goals at once. You have a limited attention. Remember this: You can do anything, but not everything.

Limited Attention:

Throughout the day you have a limited attention. Despite all the advances in technology that make information easily attainable it’s only possible to absorb so much. As an example, Tim Ferris breaks it down into attention units.

The choice-minimal lifestyle becomes an attractive tool when we consider two truths:

1) Considering options costs attention that then can’t be spent on action or present-state awareness.

2) Attention is necessary for not only productivity but appreciation.

Therefore:

Too many choices = less or no productivity

Too many choices = less or no appreciation

Too many choices = sense of overwhelm

Tim Ferriss breaks attention down to “Attention units.”

If you start the day with 10 attention units, have a complicated workout with percentages, a choice of six squat variations, fluctuating volume, and advanced methods it might demand 3/10 daily units calculate and complete. If work, family obligations, and a big side project take up 9 attention units before you get to your workout we have a problem— attention debt. Focus diminishes, effort dwindles, and your workout sucks.

It’s safe to say, after a grueling day even a Tracy Anderson workout is a strain for your mental capacity.

Side note: What in the actual hell is this exercise?

http://fourhourworkweek.com/2008/02/06/the-choice-minimal-lifestyle-6-formulas-for-more-output-and-less-overwhelm/
Photocredit: www.lookgreatnaked.com/blog/stay-away-from-the-pink-dumbbells/

Don’t Strive For Exercise Variety

Don’t strive for variation—and thus increase option consideration—when it’s not needed. Too many choices zaps your focus and negate your ability to put into energy into what matters most like building strength in major, multi-joint lifts. You should enjoy exercise, but remember exercise is a results-driven with task, not solely enjoyment driven. Your goal is to create a physiological response in the body to build muscle, shred fat, and improve athleticism. Stick with the major movement patterns, get stronger, and get a routine that works around your limited time.

Define, identify, and eliminate

Instead of giving up altogether you must first define what is essential to your goal. The next step is ruthlessly hacking away at the unessential. A plan is only as good as its execution—this is the way to set yourself up for success.

In this post I’m going to provide you with the path to stick to your goal, hack away at the unessential, and optimize your workout plans for optimal effort and consistency. I’ll use real-world examples from my clients to give you a template to hack away your workout and focus on the important parts. As a result, you’ll have a clear vision of the goal and the brainpower to do it.

Remove the Unessential:

Before hacking away chunks of your workout you must first define what is essential. These steps help you define what’s essential to your goal, and what must be eliminated.

1.) Define Your Goal and Stick to It

If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve how will you possibly make the changes to make it happen?

It won’t happen. Define your goal, and as Dan John says “ The goal is to keep the goal, the goal.” If you constantly change workout goals and never see them through you’ll never have success. Rep schemes, exercises, and programs shouldn’t always change—the body needs to strain and adapt to stress to grow. Patience, dedication, and time are required. It’s painfully difficult in today’s “everything right now” world, but all true accomplishments take time. Define your goal and stick to it until it’s complete.

Example Goals:

“ I want to look awesome naked by losing fat and gaining muscle. I want to look better than guys 20 years younger than me and be able to play sports with my kids.”

“ I want to be strong. I don’t care what else. I want to be able to lift a fricken’ house.”

“I want to gain muscle so I (begrudgingly) fill out my schmedium t-shirt and have to buy a large. This will be 2-3 inches on my chest and – or so.”  

2.) Identify Your Obstacles To Reaching The Goal

Here’s the fun part: Take an introspective look at your training and lifestyle to see what factors hinder you from reaching your goal.

Take these examples from my clients:

“I work 60 hours per week and start missing gym sessions after I start training 5 days per week.”

“ I can’t eat enough calories following an intermittent fasting diet to support training and muscle growth.”

“ My kids are in hockey season, I run my own business, and I need for time for my family. I’ll train 30 minutes 4-5 days per week, but can’t do longer workouts. The sacrifice isn’t worth neglecting my family.”

Identify in order to eliminate. Look at the big picture and your whole lifestyle.What obstacles are the biggest roadblock to my success?

Are they removable?

Do they fix more than one problem?

If the answer is “yes” to any or all of these problems then take the next step to elimination.

3.) Remove the Obstacles

Identifying and being aware of what’s holding you back is great, but you need to take action on and remove your obstacles. As the father of the light-bulb (and maybe light sabers?) Thomas Edison said, ” Knowledge without action is meaningless.”

No-one will do this step for you—it takes real willpower to remove obstacles. That’s why building an awesome body is more than physical—it’s mental growth, sacrifice, and determination.

Obstacles you remove/ changes you could make to fit the goals above could be:

– One less training day per week

– Take out isolation work

– Reduced rest periods

– Shorten up your fasting window to get more calories

– Decrease training volume during workouts to allow a greater training frequency

Changes highly dependent on you and your goals. Using an example below I illustrate the entire process of hacking away the unessential with one of my online training clients:

Tom: Hey Eric, I need to reduce my training and switch to mornings. Tom JR. has hockey every night during the week, work is insane, and I need to spend my nights with my wife instead of the gym.

I still want to be a shredded Beast (*goal*), but I need more time for my family. (*Obstacle*)

Here’s how we *Removed the Obstacles*:

We shortened all Tom’s workouts and took out anything that appeared redundant. Tom still wanted to workout for 30 minutes each morning in his basement and only wanted the essentials. Each week we made sure Tom had the following movements:

– Weighted Carries

– Upper Body Pull

– Upper Body Push

– Lower Body Squat pattern

– Lower Body Hinge pattern

– Single Leg movement

– High-Intensity Intervals,Versa Climber

So a sample workout could be:

Dynamic Warm Up (Top-secret recipe)

1a. Weighted Chin Up 5×8

1b. One Arm Push-Up 5×8

2. 5x 30 sec (30 sec rest) Versa Climber SprintO

Or

Dynamic Warm-Up

1a. Kettlebell Floor Press 4×12

1b. Goblet Squat 4×12

2a. Kettlebell Swing 3×20

2b. Farmers walk 3×50 steps

Spread out over the course of 5 days Tom gets in five efficient, challenging workouts without missing any major movements. Plus, he’s able to see his son play hockey, spend time with his wife, and relax. In the end training is about more than building an awesome body, it’s about building an awesome body and hitting your goals on your terms. Training should improve your life, rather than consume it.

Now it’s Your Turn:

Embrace essentialism into your workouts and eliminate all that is unnecessary. It’s a subtle way to produce dramatic results in the gym with less overwhelm.

-Focus on the big movements

-Ensure progressive overload

-Schedule your training when it fits your life. Make it a priority, but don’t sacrifice everything else for your gains.

-Remove unnecessary exercises

Define your goal, identify the obstacles, and ruthlessly remove them.

The biggest mistake most guys make is focusing on every finite details of their program. Keep your eye on the prize, remove anything that isn’t essential, and see the best gains of your life.

“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”-Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

Resources

McKeown, Greg. “Subtract.” Essentialism. New York: Crown Business, 2014. 190-191. Print.

Ferriss, Tim. “The Choice-Minimal Lifestyle: 6 Formulas for More Output and Less Overwhelm.” Fourhourworkweek.com. 6 Feb. 2008. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Recommended Reading:

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

80/20 Pareto’s Principle

25 for 25:Training Tips to Build Muscle, Strength, and Athleticism-Part 2

I told you I’d be back. I’ve got over a dozen more tips to help you build muscle, strength and athleticism intermingled with lifestyle advice that’s made my life much more enriching and enjoyable.  If you haven’t read part one I strongly suggest you do so here ===> Part 1

If not then here’s the cliff notes version:

  1. Take everything with a grain of salt and find out why
  2. Hip Dominant exercises for bad knees
  3. Play more
  4. Stop training to failure
  5. Put more Pull in your training
  6. Train heavy while dieting
  7. Carb Backloading is awesome
  8. Deload your training for the love of god
  9. Perform mini-workouts
  10. There is no perfect diet
  11. Sacrifices must be made
  12. Read more, learn more
  13. How you train is what you get

14.Bruce Lee is the Man

Take any one of these quotes and live by it. My favorite is “To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

bruce lee knows how to build strength, muscle, and athleticism
Photo credit: http://marcus-chai.blogspot.com

 

15. Go Neutral 

Neutral hand position will place a greater amount of work on pushing and pulling muscles without compromising the position the shoulder joint. By dispersing the weight over the entire hand the load is spread evenly through the arm, maintaining forearm and elbow health. In pressing exercises keeping the elbows tucked decrease shoulder joint impingement. A neutral grip is your best choice with the presence of shoulder pain.

16.Stop Being a jerk

This should be a no-brainer but more people than not would rather trash someone or call them out rather than provide a solution. This is disgustingly prevalent in the fitness industry where we preach caring about people and improving lives. The hypocrisy is alarming.  Step up and be a leader, not a prick.

17.Have Free Days

Not all training needs to be recorded, planned, and calculated. It’s important to take time and do the things you enjoy in training. Stop being so  stingy and have some fun. 

(Note: I do this weekly, keeping one day where I don’t keep track and hit my biceps, calfs, lats, or whatever other exercise I’m looking to bring up. It’s made my training much more fun. )

18. High Frequency Training 

High-Frequency training is the best option for beginning lifters, athletes, and those looking to acquire a new movement skill as training movements with a high-frequency rapidly improves motor learning and skill acquisition. In other words, you’ll learn what to do and perfect your technique faster. In you’re a beginner then full body workouts are your premier muscle-building workout for improvements in both size and strength. ====> Learn More About High Frequency Training

 20.Everything has a risk/reward

This has become evident as I train a predominantly athlete population. Too often everything is said in absolutes because it’s influential writing.

“ Box squats are “the best way to do squats for strength or performance.”

You “must do the Olympic lifts to be athletic.”

“maximal strength is the most important quality to train.”

Those are all valid points, but everything has it’s place and everything is a tool.

No-one will have the same form–there are anatomical limb-length differences, injuries and bony junctures that require unique considerations. You just might not be built to do a specific lift, regardless of what the hottest  program on the market says. Consistently trying to jam square pegs into round holes will leave you beaten, broken, and weak.

Sorry, this won't help you unless you're training for the circus
Sorry, this won’t help you unless you’re training for the circus

21.Countdown sets > High Rep Sets

I’m not a huge proponent of high-rep training. In pursuit of reaching the numbers on a workout people sell out on technique and heave weight without care for form or control. In most cases I stick with countdown sets over high rep sets, here’s why:

  • Improved rep quality
  • Increase in total training volume
  • Increased cardiovascular demand
  •  Increased load at set reps

Here’s how to break it up:

  • Instead of 8 Reps per set Countdown 4-3-2-1
  • instead of 10 Reps per set Countdown 5-4-3-2-1
  • Instead of 12 Reps per set Countdown 6-5-4-3-2-1
  • Instead of 15 reps per set 7-6-5-4-3-2-1

22.Stop Multi-tasking

Don’t be the “10 year guy” who despite his hard work, lives the same life with the same body, same frustrations, and exact same goal. It’s probably that guy we all know doing 3 sets of 10 with 135 on the bench press every day.

Drop the act and get awesome by narrowing your focus. Here’s How:

1.Multitasking is less efficient. Switching back and forth between tasks zaps focus and takes more time.

2.Multitasking is complicated, leaving you more prone to mistakes and stress.

3.Multitasking makes you GO CRAZY. In this age of information we need to reign in terror and find a calm medium.

the Solution:

Pick a big goal. Following the goal, pick out what small, behaviors you can do each day for two weeks that will help you reach you goal. Once you have mastered and tracked that goal for two weeks, add to it with another behavior.

Main Goal: I want to gain 10 pounds of muscle

Behavior 1: Lift weights 4x per week focusing on squats, deadlifts, bench presses, and chin ups (check off everyday for two weeks)

Behavior 2: Consume a post-workout shake of 50g protein and 100g carbs. (check off everyday for two weeks)

Behavior 3: Get at minimum 6 hours of sleep per night. (check off everyday for two weeks)

Get the point? I work with my clients to add one behavior at a time for 12 week blocks. Taking things step by step, focusing on one goal at a time yields real, practical change no matter the goal.

P.S. Use this ===> Goal Tracking Sheet

23.Take Creatine

Creatine is the safest, most researched, and effective sports performance supplement on the market. In addition, creatine is now being researched as a study and cognitive aid. If you’re looking to increase your work capacity, strength, and power then it should be a supplement staple.

Get more creatine knowledge bombs from a post I did for Tony Gentilcore here: Creatine: Cutting to the Chase 

24.Practice what you preach and find a Mentor

Book and scientific knowledge is very useful, but it won’t make you stronger, shredded, athletic, or a better coach unless you apply what you know. Don’t be an internet hard-ass who critiques everyone, get uncomfortable, learn, and better yourself.

Admittedly I’ve struggled with criticism in the past—until I sought out mentors and coaches to learn from. Train hard, find someone better at it than you, and listen.

25.Do Floor Presses

Don’t get me wrong—I love the bench press, but my body doesn’t always agree. I still barbell press, but my heavy days are more shoulder friendly with the floor press. Plus, you’ll negate leg-drive and get the more pure-upper body strength exercise and develop a ton of deadstop-starting strength.

Get the details in an article I wrote for T-Nation here: Master the Floor Press

26.Travel More

Listen, you come up with every “yeah, but” excuse in the book but they’re all just a  cop-out.  At 25 I already notice how much more difficult it is to travel—commitments at home to my fiancée, my dog, my job, and my Facebook community all make it difficult. Regardless, I still book a trip every couple months because it helps me:

  1. Live life as an adventure
  2. Connect with more people and understand the world
  3.  Gain some damn culture!

You won’t regret leaving your weekends of watching movies on the couch—go explore, learn, and try something new.

Still not convinced? Read this: Travel while you’re young

27. My Mission is to give you the Tools to Take Control

 

Closing Thoughts:

I could keep going but this beastly post is over 2,000 words and nine pages, but at least I have a head-start for the next few years. No doubt this list will change and continue to grow. I have many ways to improve but being a young dude I’m looking forward to the challenges of becoming a better coach, leader, and person.

Hopefully these tips help you take control and get better, too.

In Strength,

Eric

25 for 25:Training Tips to Build Muscle, Strength, and Athleticism-Part 1

Considering I turn 25 at the end of this month I thought it’d be cool to spin off 25 Tips for 25 Years.  Yep—Training Tips to build muscle, strength, and athleticism tossed in with a few bits of randomness to guide your pursuit of a strong, shredded, and athletic body.

Well, That was the plan.  Then I couldn’t stop writing so you’re in for a few bonus tips.

Nuff’ chit-chat, lets get down to business.

 1.Take Everything with a Grain of salt

I used to believe everything said by my peers —whether it was from a popular website or word of mouth from someone in great shape if It was on the web or important enough to share it must be true. Problem is everyone has their biases and is a product of their unique experiences. It’s best determine things for yourself by becoming educated with experience in the gym, under the bar, on the field,  and through science.

Bottom Line: Try to take something from every experience and apply it to make yourself better,  but also ask ” why do they think this, what is there past, and does this necessarily apply to me.” Success speaks, but question everything with an open mind and find out “why”.

2. Focus on Hip Extension Dominant Exercises 

Most people are unable to master the basic “hinge” position and as a result use their lower back for most exercises, stick to potentially dangerous machines, and can’t reach full hip extension.
The result?

Pancake asses, back injuries, and no explosive power.
Tisk, Tisk.

Flip the script and master technique with  exercises like Romanian Deadlifts, trap bar deadlifts, hackey pulls, cleans, and glute-bridges. In addition to growing a glorious set of butt cheeks you’ll be training movements that transfer athletically, resist back injuries, and improve your posture.

3.Play

Luckily I had great parents growing up that taught me you reap what you sow and instilling the value of hard work.  Problem is I have issues relaxing and turning the switch to “off” until recently.
Hard work is great, but being all-work and no play is recipe for burnout and a pretty unhappy life.
Work hard, but  value un- winding and doing things for pure enjoyment.

Take some time to Play

P.S. go do something fun immediately after reading this.

4. Stop Training to Failure

Performing an exercise to failure consistently zaps the central nervous system (CNS) and will leave you exhausted and unable to train hard consistently. There’s a difference between what you feel and what’s creating an actual training stimulus. Keep the burn-outs to a minimum or at least stick to low-risk exercises like bodyweight movements or isolation exercises.

5. Use a 1:2 Push: Pull ratio

I’ve had Cranky and crunchy shoulders for years but I’ve still made pushing the most weight I could a priority.
Why?
That’s a damn good question. It’s probably because XYZ program from (enter your favorite major fitness site) said I need to train a big bench press or I’m a sissy destined to be small, weak, and un-athletic.

Personally, it’s no longer worth blitzing my shoulders to add 5 lbs to my bench, so I overhauled my training with a push-pull ratio of 1:2 and even 1:3 with carefully planned heavy pressing to fill my ego.  The result—Healthier (and bigger) shoulders, better posture, and a thicker yoke. Add in chin-ups whenever you pass the bar, do 100 band-pull a-parts daily, and perform a pulling exercise between every set of pushes.

How To Do Pull-Ups

 

6.Train Heavy When Dieting

Let’s make this clear—doing a significant cut really sucks, but the results are well worth it when you get that six pack or fit back into your “skinny clothes”. Problem is most people blitz themselves with high volume and low loads when in a caloric deficit.

That’s a No, No. Too much volume will be more than you’re able to recover from, zapping your energy and wrecking your hormones. 

Instead, use loads of 85+% of lifts to maintain/improve testosterone production, maintain strength, and preserve muscle mass when in a caloric deficit.

7.Erghh ma Gerd Carb Backloading 

 I’ve spoken ad-naseum on carb cycling and the importance of food choices over other factors, but carb backloading is awesome.

What it is: Eat a diet focused around healthy fats and lean protein for the majority of your day. Then, have large qualities of carbohydrates (if it fits your goals) at night.

By keeping carbs towards the end of the day you’re allowed more freedom to eat socially—large meals at night where you relax and enjoy good company. The increased carbs at night promotes relaxation and serotonin production, helping you sleep like a post-Thanksgiving turkey bender.

8. Take a Damn De-load Week

Like most of you I’ve fallen prey to the thought that more exercise is always better. Problem is if you never back off with a deload  you’re really limiting your performance gains and opening the door for injury.

It’s so important that I wrote an entire post on the deload and how to do it. Click here for the piece I did for Dean Somerset ==> Recovery and Adaptation: The missing piece in Training Program

9.Mini-Workouts

Jump out of your chair and do 20 push-ups and 20 squats. Feel better?
Thought so.

Intersperse bodyweight workouts throughout your day whenever you get the chance: Do Push-ups, pull-ups, squats, or whatever floats your boat. You’ll feel better and accumulate a ton of training volume that adds up big time.

10. Read 1+ Hour/Day

I’m an avid reader, but it wasn’t always that way. Like anything else reading is a skill, you must extract the information you’re consuming and absorb it like a sponge.
You won’t get a better education value than spending $20 on a book every few weeks. There are people much smarter and better at things than you and I; invest your time in critically reading their work and you’ll hone your craft rapidly.

Vary your reading and get a blend—marketing, training, business development, sci-fi, 50 Shades of Kinky Grey it doesn’t matter, read things that challenge your mindset with the intent to learn. If you pick up a few things and disregard the rest of a book it’s perfectly fine.

Here are five of my favorites:

  • The Power of Less by Leo Babauta
  • Seth Godinà anything by him is gold
  • Supertraining by Siff and Verkhoshansky (get your exercise nerd on!)
  • The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
  • Why Zebras don’t  Get Ulcers By Robert M. Sapolsky

11.There is No Perfect Diet

Food choices are the key, not how and when you eat them. Intermittent fasting, carb backloading, six-meals per day, and Atkins are all great, but there is no perfect diet. Find what style of eating best suits your busy lifestyle, and then implement it with high quality food choices and discipline.

Hello Meat Sweats
Hello Meat Sweats

12.Sacrifice

How far you fly depends on how hard you’re willing to work and what sacrifices you will make. Going out to get blitzed on Jager-bombs every weekend might be fun, but it’ll negate your diet and hard-work from the gym.   While you don’t need to completely neglect things you enjoy, step back, and see where you can improve.

13.You get what you train for

If you train like a bodybuilder you might build some solid muscle, but probably won’t be too athletic. Same thing with powerlifting, you’ll get strong, but will it transfer to looking good naked and being a high-performance beast? Nah. You MUST train for what you want. If you’re training is imbalanced your results will be imbalanced. If you don’t jump, run, cut, throw etc. you won’t be athletic, you’ll look like Tarzan and play like Jane.

Closing Thoughts:
“Wait, what? I thought you said 25?” I didn’t forget, but I know you and I can only focus on a blog post for a few minutes. Anymore and I start drawing random animals on the “paint” application and you’ll browse ESPN for the latest arrested athlete.
Anyways, some of those may be old-hat, but i’d implore you take these tips to heart and improve where you find holes in your life and training. Whether it immediately improves your training balance or makes you smarter I’m willing to bet you’ll take your training up a notch.

In Strength,
Eric

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