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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.

Fitness Guide to Parkinson’s Law: How to Lose Fat Faster

parkinsons-law

Flashback to 2014.

My days all started the same: Up at 4:00 a.m., a cup of black coffee, and heading to the gym.

Then, in a caffeine infused blitzkrieg, the day was on. Clients from 5 am to 6 or 7 pm, with a few one-hour breaks.

These one-hour breaks were a godsend. Besides getting off my feet, they were long enough to do meaningful work but short enough to create a sense of urgency.

Bach Performance was a baby at the time, a spot for me to explore my brain and write about fitness to help my clients, friends, and family. But, despite a lack of time, I made big moves.

Fast forward to today: Bach Performance is my full-time job. Rather than five or six days and 50 clients, I hold a limited clientele with three to four days and 25-30 sessions per week.

My schedule is self-determined, and more or less, I do what I want every day.

But that also leaves me more time than I’m used too. There are no extraneous demands on my time, so common sense would say I would get exponentially more work done, right?

Nope.

coffee

Logically that makes sense, but we live in an illogical world.

If everything worked as it seemed, we’d lose stubborn belly fat on the Twinkie diet….as long as calories were in check. By following progressive overload and adding 5 lbs on the bench press, we’d go from a Zero pound bench to 520 lb bench in two years.

That isn’t always the case.

Until six months ago, I had all the time in the world. I didn’t have as many client deadlines and let time slip through my fingers.

Instead of spending my time writing programs, I was geeking out to BroScience videos.

Or reading every Packers’ article on Bleacher report.

Or, #ing my face off on Instagram.

Then, the question hit me like a cold slap in the face: Why wasn’t I hitting my goals?

It wasn’t having too much time, it was a lack of urgency with the limited time I did have.

I’d fallen prey to Parkinsons Law. Coined by famous Brit Cyril Northcote Parkinson, Parkinson’s Law sits at the forefront of productivity hacking and is the focus on Parkinson’s book, Parkinsons Law: The Pursuit of Progress(1).

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Parkinson’s Law: ‘Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

Parkinson’s law means that if you give yourself six weeks to tackle a project that you can handle in one week, procrastination seeps in, the task get’s complex, and you’ll freak out until it’s done.

The same meaningless, productivity-zapping stress happens with fitness.

In particular, fat loss around the New Year.

Tell me if these proclamations sound familiar:

This year, I’m going to lose 20 pounds and look awesome in my swimsuit.

Reality: You can do this in two or three months.

This year, I’m going to workout consistently.

Reality: This year is a long time. Focus on working out consistently this week, then each of the following.

By assigning the right amount of time and focus to a goal, you’ll decrease stress and the complexity of said goal, increasing your chance of success.

I’ve seen Parkinson’s law crush the fitness goals of hundreds of people, all under the pretense that there’s always tomorrow.

There’s not. We’re guaranteed nothing and time in a finite resource.

It’s time to have a sense of urgency, working smarter and faster, rather than longer and harder. Here are the action steps you need to accomplish your fitness goals in less time.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Set Tight Deadlines

Deadline set by teachers, clients, or bosses have an immediate sense of urgency. Still, it’s a new ballgame when deadlines are self-imposed. We struggle to attach the same focus and intensity on self-imposed deadlines.

This is what cripples most people from the start—they aren’t aggressive enough on their gameplan.

Try This: Designate time to your goal:

Three months to lose 10 lbs. of body fat.

Then cut it in half.

Six weeks to lose 10 lbs. of body fat.

“Goals are often something to aim for, rather than always achieve.” Bruce Lee

An aggressive deadline forces aggressive action, which this is precisely what you need. Channel your competitive streak and apply it to fitness.

believe, lose Fat Faster

If you’re a gamer, pretend you’re on a time sensitive mission.

If you’re an athlete, pretend it’s six weeks until the season starts, and your roster spot and workout bonus (there’s a reason for these) depend on it.

By attaching a sense of urgency and competition to your goal you’re setting the table for high-quality action and rapid progress.

Define your M.I.T.’s for the Following Day:

Pick the 1-3 Most important tasks (M.I.T.’s) you will complete towards your goal.

You have six weeks to lose 10 lbs, so we’ll start there.

Number One: Track your food and hit your macros (Mike Vacanti has an epic post here). Diet is king for fat loss, after all.

Number Two: Perform your Fat Loss workout, such as Blended Training for Fat Loss.

Number Three: Walk 10,000 steps.

Of these three steps, hitting your diet is the most important task for losing ten pounds, followed by your workout and extra activity.

Base hits lead to runs the same as homers do, and over time, many more runs. Focus on consistent wins on MIT’s and you’ll achieve your longer-term fat loss goals.

Own the A.M.: Be proactive, not REACTIVE.

Willpower is highest in the morning and the best time to take care of your M.I.T.’s.

This is the time to be proactive and take massive action towards your goals, rather than react to the demands of others.

Personally, my writing is 200% better at 5:00 A.M. than 5:00 P.M., when I’ve answered emails and had meetings. Later in the day, I’m much more concerned with what I’m going to eat for dinner and Snapping pictures of Rocky on SnapChat (bachreric, btw ;).

Yes. This is a real unicorn mask.
Yes. This is a real unicorn mask.

If I don’t own the morning, my days aren’t productive.

In Fitness, the same principles apply. My 5:00-8:00 am clients have historically been my most consistent clients by a mile, and it’s due to more than caffeine.

They’re proactively working out before the chaos of the day gives them a reason to skip.

The same applies to your diet.

If you wait until the end of the day to track your macros, you’ll skip it or way overshoot your numbers.

I can’t stress this enough, but for 90% of people getting up and nailing your workout early is a game changer.

There’s a reason Mike Vacanti trains Gary Vaynerchuck at 6:00 A.M., or that Phil Knight crushes his workouts at 5:00 A.M., and Richard Branson all workout early in the day (3).

As the day goes on more important work crisis come up and give you an easy (albeit lame) excuse to skip your training.

Eliminate the issue and start training early in the morning. These tips here will help.

Eliminate Distractions

“It’s hip to focus on getting things done, but this can only happen when we remove static and distraction. “ – Tim Ferriss

In today’s fast-paced world, having internal focus is a rarity.

It’s sad, but true.

Rather than falling prey to internal A.D.D., take action and eliminate the noise.

To get anything meaningful accomplished discipline alone won’t cut it. Instead, take action to end distractions. To get work done, use websites like Self-Control and throw your phone in another room.

When you’re working out, leave your iPhone in your bag pick up a don’t skip more than two songs and leave your phone in your gym bag.

For fitness information, pick out two websites and eliminate the rest. Program hopping and yo-yo dieting are huge reason people never see results. Don’t even risk falling in love with the next big fad diet.

Most programs from good coaches work well, follow them to their completion and eliminate distractions.

We’re an ADD-ridden bunch and we’ll get lost for hours on LOLCatz if allowed. Eliminate distractions and focus on the essential.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Attach a Reward

All goals are reward driven.

There’s an emotional key behind every goal whether it’s more confidence, better health, finding love or being more attractive.

There are also external rewards. As psychologist B.F. Skinner puts it, positive reinforcement strengths a behavior by providing a reward for completing a task.

In school, this could have been a pizza party for turning all your homework in on time.

SCORE.

pizza, lose Fat Faster, Parkinsons law

Or, getting A and a star sticker on each assignment.

“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important than the amount.“ BF Skinner

As external rewards apply to fitness, I won’t advocate pizza for reach workout, but you can attach external rewards.

Small rewards like a compliment from a coworker or social reinforcement on Facebook are important.

Bigger rewards, like winning cash in a transformation content, buying new clothes at the end of a diet, or going to the beach for a long weekend and kickin’ back a few cocktails in your new bikini, are also important.

Whatever your goal, understand what emotionally drives your decision. Then, apply extrinsic rewards that reinforce and motivate you to take massive action. With an aggressive timeline, social support and rewards push you to achieve more in less time.

Take Action and Lose Fat Faster

Parkinson’s law is more than a productivity theory for entrepreneurs, it’s a thought process that forces you to take positive action in all areas of life.

Set a tight deadline, focus on the essential, take action, and set-up rewards to make it happen.

P.S.

Are you struggling to set goals, hit deadlines, and build your best body?

Sick of spinning your wheel and not seeing results despite your hard work?

Join Bach Performance Elite Online Training for the expert coaching, accountability, and motivation to build your best body. Only two spots left this month, apply here: Elite Online Coaching 

 

 

Links and Helpful Resources:

  1. Parkinsons Law: Read the Full book here.
  1. Bruce Lee: My daily reading is Striking Thoughts. Be like water my friends.
  2. Seriously, check out this list of Successful people who workout early.
  3. Tim Ferriss: Four Hour WorkWeek
  1. We all need a basic understanding of Human Psychology. This article and this book are good places to start

 

Your 1-Rep Max Testing Made Simple

Expert Tips to Build Muscle, build muscle

A generic warm-up and a few arm swings aren’t enough to make the most out of your training. In fact, if you’re looking to build athletic muscle and strength, then you’ll need a specific warm-up that leads up to crushing your 1-Rep Max (1RM). Keep Reading

Lifting Speed:The Biggest Mistakes In Training

benchtough

By Eric Bach- Get more emails like these sent to your email here

Key Points:

  • Eccentric strength is necessary to maintain position during lifts. It controls deceleration and helps you build muscle mass
  • But lifting ONLY fast leaves gaps in muscular and strength development
  • You don’t need to be a tempo-counting dweeb

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’m a huge proponent of lifting fast. After all, lifting fast (or with maximum intent) helps you recruit more motor units.

That translates into recruiting more muscle. You’ll get jacked and athletic.

But there’s one huge thing most lifters forget: Your strength is only as potent as the foundation of eccentric control it’s built upon.

What the Hell Does That Mean? 

The eccentric refers to the lengthening of a muscle. Also termed yielding action, the eccentric portion of a lift opposes the overcoming, or concentric,  portion of a lift.

That means the “way down” on a squat, or lowering a barbell to your chest during a bench press. To lift safely, you need to control the resistance during the eccentric and be able to hold position.

This means preventing your knees from diving in, or your back rounding in a squat. Simply put, to train safely and maximize your gains in strength and size, you must have a huge base of eccentric strength and control.

Taken a step further, you don’t even need to “always” lift explosively, and occasionally need to lift with slower tempos and control. 

All of which raises a bunch of questions.

Should you drop deadlifts?

Should you turn into a tempo-counting dweeb?

Should you go slow to maximize the “burn” in muscles?

Will slow eccentrics hinder your recovery?

Calm down, dude.

  
In this article, I’m going to show you the differences between slow and fast lifting speed. More importantly, I’ll cover why different rep speeds are essential for your performance, getting jacked, and most importantly, staying safe.
Lifting Speed: The Biggest Mistakes In Training

 

Wait, What? I thought all I needed to do was lift explosively.

There’s nothing wrong with lifting explosively when you’re strong and have great technique.

Problem is, most lifters miss the boat due to a lack of eccentric control and a propensity to only lift fast, regardless of goal. This compromises technique, leading to injuries and major technique issues that prevent you from getting stronger.

Further, without emphasizing the eccentric portion of lifts along with the explosive concentric, gains in strength and size are also minimized.  I don’t know about you, but staying smaller, weaker, and jacking up technique is the last thing I want in training.

Regardless of whether you want to get jacked, stronger, or more athletic, the eccentric muscle actions and control are important. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.

In other words, you’re doing yourself a disservice by only training one way. 

Leave clunky deadlifts, herky-jerky swing curls, and bottomed out squats by the wayside. It’s time to reinforce movement with controlled eccentrics for rock solid technique, rapid muscle growth, and improved strength.

Why Controlling Your Eccentrics is Super Important

Controlling the eccentric portion of lifts with technical precision is superior than pure explosive concentric training.

1.Improved Technical Practice

Common sense tells us if you can’t control the weight during the eccentric with sub-maximal weight your form will surely breakdown under near-maximal loads.

Controlling the eccentric helps you reinforce body position and technique on your lifts. That means going slower on the negative to maintain joint alignment, such as keeping your back from flexing forward and rounding,  and knees from diving into valgus on the squat.

This is the devil in the detailsBy putting your body in the correct positions you’ll maximize your training without reinforcing bad technique.

What to Do:  Train to a biomechanically appropriate depth, ingrain it with a controlled eccentric, and complete the lift. That means the minute your form breaks down, you end your depth or end the rep.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

2. More Muscle Growth

Research shows that eccentric training causes increased micro-trauma of the muscle fibers, which in turn can lead to increased muscle growth. In the presence of sound nutrition, controlled eccentrics cause greater muscular damage and subsequent migration of nutrients for recovery and growth to get you jacked.

Lifting Speed: The Biggest Mistakes In Training

There’s a fine balance between acceptable and excessive soreness that limits training intensity, frequency, and athletic performance. In the case of competitive explosive athletes, care must be taken to avoid excessive eccentric training if it hinders training frequency and intensity.

For the muscle-building dude like yourself, analyze the trade-off between soreness and training frequency.

Muscle soreness is beneficial for hypertrophy, but only if it doesn’t exceed recovery capabilities and hinder your ability to hit the gym again.

What to Do: Control the eccentric with isolation and hypertrophy focused work. Keep in mind the risk-reward if fatigue and soreness limits training frequency, training intensity, or counteracts the muscular demands of sport.

3.Get Stronger In Stick Points

Many lifters’ greatest weakness is the transition from eccentric to concentric. That includes coming out of the hole on a squat.

Luckily, you’re stronger in the eccentric or yielding portion of a lift. Pausing at weak points helps build strength and stability in the weakest portions of your movements.

Picture the lifter who squats slow until halfway through their descent, then speeds up to the bottom and posteriorly tilts pelvis (buttwink), before the hips shoot up and the lift finishes with a good morning. It might look something like this.

Now, I feel bad for this kid and don’t mean to be a bag of dicks. Beyond the loading being far too heavy, he actually has pretty good eccentric control.

Then, Armageddon. Everything goes to hell on the concentric. In this case, pausing at stick points just out of the hole near 90 degrees would help reinforce stability and control at what looks like his weakest point of the lift. In time, this improves technique to reduce injuries and eliminates sticking points to boost strength. 

What to Do: Work on sub-maximal pauses during the stick-points of your lifts. 3-4 sets of 3 reps with 2-3 second pauses will be plenty.

4. Get in the Zone

Slowing down and focusing on your eccentrics gets you maximally mentally engaged on your lifts.

The process of training is maximized through maximizing rep quality first, and quantitative outcomes like weight or volume second.

Nothing requires more focus than pausing under a squat, or holding position near your sticking point. The position of joints dictates which muscles are working; if you’re losing position you’re engraining poor technique and decreasing performance.

” Joint Position Dictates Muscle Function.” Greg Roskopf

What To Do:  Sprinkle in 2 sets of 3-5 reps with controlled eccentrics finished with explosive concentric’s in warm-up sets.

5. Improved Sport and Movement Performance

We’ve all seen athletes who can stop on a dime and changes direction, ala Barry Sanders. And we also seen fast athletes who can’t put the brakes on fast enough. They either miss a play or get injured.

Training only concentric based explosive movements limits the development of eccentric strength—a vital form of strength for relative strength and movement deceleration.

Sprinting, change-of-direction work, and the chaotic nature of sports involve huge ground reaction forces that need eccentric strength for control.

Without adequate strength to provide eccentric control, unconditioned bodies wilt under pressure. Trying anything athletic risks injury.

What to Do: If you’re an athlete, train strength through stable range of motion, as mentioned in the squat example above.  And control eccentrics on non-ballistic weight-training exercises until control to ingrain control.

The Eccentric Exceptions

Nothing in training is absolute. There’s a time and a place for everything, except for dudes lifting in compression shorts.

Stability, control, strength, and technique are indispensable before most ballistic weight-room exercises are trainable and transferable. That means before you can be explosive, you must be strong and stable. 

The Use of Eccentrics Depends on your Goal

Your training style should be dictated based on your goals, and that means varying needs for explosive movement, pure strength work, and hypertrophy work. That’s why power lifters, sprinters, bodybuilders all have different demands that must be trained individually as they advance.

Program your exercises based on neural demands, with explosive exercises followed by heavy strength work and finished with higher volume. Use, longer eccentric exercises if you’re looking for the best of all worlds. The amount of each will be determined by your goals. 

Olympic Lifts: Opt for a Controlled Drop

Olympic lifts are ballistic in nature and require subtle concentric muscle actions to rapidly generate force. According to the work of Vladimir Zatsiorsky in The Science and Practice of Strength Training, the usage of eccentric training is limited in transfer for activities that are primarily concentric (Zatsiorsky, 1995).

On a macro-scale, the Olympic lifts require tons of practice and technique from a high frequency of training.

Soreness and fatigue from eccentrics aren’t conducive to optimal training.  And it’s unnatural to  try to try to  control a clean from your shoulders back to the ground. (That’s why we use bumper plates.)

Attempting to reverse the movement of an Olympic lift opens the door for unnecessary injury. Opt for a controlled drop instead.

Stop Dropping All Your Deadlifts

Eccentric strength is important in strengthening the body to hold positions and not all  deadlifts should be dropped. That said, there’s a fine line of risk/reward with near-maximal weights and the amount of stress heavy lifts and the ensuing eccentric place on the CNS.If you’re near competition or at the end of a heavy training cycle heavy eccentrics may fry your CNS and zap the strength you’ve been ramping your training for.

But non-competitors should ensure a base of eccentric control on deadlifts. If you can’t control the weight eccentrically when you’re stronger, your form is likely garbage on the concentric.

The Eccentric Trade Off

There is a huge trade off between stress caused from eccentric loading, training volume, and the impact on training frequency and intensity.

If you’re performing timed eccentrics with massive weights, and a high training volume stop in your tracks, you’re setting yourself up for fatigue and stagnation rather than strength, performance, and muscular gains.

On the flip side, if your technique is shaky and muscle growth is stagnant,  then a focus on eccentric control in your warm-ups and submaximal sets will reinforce technique and provide additional time under tension to boost muscle growth.

P.S. Get your free eBook 25 Expert Tips to Master Muscle Growth here. Offer expires 10/31/16.

Lifting Speed Recommendations

  • Control eccentrics on isolation exercises. They’re meant to isolate, create muscular tension, and damage for growth to get you gainz bro’.
  • Train explosively on the concentric action of most movements for explosiveness and maximal muscle fiber recruitment.
  • Keep an eye on total training volume. If it’s high, you’re probably already getting a significant eccentric loading volume that must be factored into programming.
  • Control eccentrics on machine and cable exercises. Cables and machines apply constant tension through that range of motion in the first place. Use them how they’re supposed to be used.
  • Control, technique, and a strength foundation must be in place before rapid eccentrics and ballistic exercises.
  • Yes, it’s fine to drop your Olympic lifts, heavy deadlifts, but be reasonable, Bubba and use control.

The Bottom Line

Program your exercises based on neural demands. Use explosive exercises followed by heavy strength work and finished with higher volume, longer eccentric exercises for the best of all worlds.

The best approach to the eccentric depends on your goals.

But all training qualities are improved once you have a foundation of eccentric control.

Only then will you maximize your maximum strength, performance, and muscle-building capabilities.

Zatsiorsky, Vladimir M. “Strength Exercises.” In Science and Practice of Strength Training, 157-158. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1995.

 

The 11 Laws of Athletic Muscle

athletic muscle

I almost quit.

Twice.

I failed as an athlete trying to build athletic muscle and as a college meathead trying to re-establish some semblance of athleticism.

From those days forward, I’ve been on a mission to build a body that both looks good, and is able to perform outside the gym.

Truth was, I wasn’t’ happy with my porous results and I wouldn’t be happy unless I had the best of both worlds—being athletic and muscular. Not one, not the other, but both. I battled with the question, what’s the point in being just strong, just athletic, or just jacked?

athletic muscle

I found I wasn’t alone. There were hundreds of others who felt the same way, you’re probably one of them.

There’s more to building athletic muscle than deadlifts and lifting weights. There’s no perfect recipe, and that’s a big part of what Bach Performance is about.

That’s why I’m excited for my brand new post with T-Nation.

I’ve expanded my Seven Laws of Athletic Muscle to 11 laws to help you build a high performance body. What’s needed are sound principles to make real change and get things done.

Your body should exude confidence in your abilities and perform in the world, not just the platform. These 11 tips will take your training to the next level.

Read it here: 11 Laws of Athletic Muscle

4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast

eric bach, the power primer, the power primer 2.0Expert Tips to Build Muscle, 4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Lifting more weight and adding some high-performance muscle is a pretty common goal.

But what happens when you don’t have Olympic bars, bumper plates, and all the necessary equipment? Unfortunately, some people throw in the towel and digress to subpar training methods that aren’t nearly as effective.

4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast

But not you.

You’re different.

You find a way.

Today, I’m going to help you with my latest post on T-Nation.com by hooking you up with four exercises to build explosive power, even if you don’t have a barbell or dumbbells.

4 Explosive Exercises to Make You a Beast… What you Need to Know

  1. In the short term, explosive exercises activate high-threshold motor units to recruit more muscle during your training. More recruitment means more weight and more muscle.
  2. In the long-term, explosive exercises allow you to recruit more muscle fibers with less effort. This makes it easier to smash heavy weights.
  3. You can maximize this muscular recruitment by lifting more heavy stuff, or by lifting, jumping, or throwing lighter stuff faster.

 

>>Check it Out Here<<

Why You Must Sprint

lose fat fast

Quite the statement, but consider this:

  • Sprints will keep you lean during a bulking phase.
  • Sprints will shred fat when dieting down due to their impact on insulin sensitivity.
  • Sprinting before lifting will potentiate the CNS for greater gains in strength.
  • Sprinting helps you build powerful hamstrings and glutes and may be the key to conquering your muscle building plateau.

While sprinting is typically been associated with athletic development, lacing up the Nikes and hitting the track improves your conditioning, athleticism, and shreds ridiculous amounts of bodyfat, all while preserving your hard-earned muscle.

Yes, even when you’re looking to gain muscle.

The fact is that even skinny dudes need conditioning work. Hoisting weights isn’t enough, especially when the end goal is a body that’s shredded and athletic.

In all honestly, what’s the point being strong and jacked when you’re gassed walking up the stairs or can’t sustain your beastly skills a simple pick-up game?

Don’t be like most people who slug away on the treadmill or scan Facebook with a half-assed eliptical workout for 30 minutes, four days per week. Most of all, don’t skip conditioning altogether.

Drop the “conditioning keeps me small and weak ” sob story.

I’s time to maximize your training by uneashing the power of sprints. You’ll stay shredded, uncork new power and athleticism, and when combined with a muscle building diet, add muscle onto your glutes, hamstrings, and quads.

Here’s Why You Must Sprint

Speed Work Potentiates the CNS for Gains in Strength

Place your sprint training directly after a dynamic warm-up and movement prep to supercharge the nervous system for more strength. From sprinting, your central nervous system (CNS) is fired up to speed up your rate of force development via two potential mechanisms:

  • According to Hamada et. el (2000), there is an increased phosphorylation of myosin regulatory light chains during a maximum voluntary contraction (MVC). This allows the actin and myosin binding (for muscle contraction) to react to the increased calcium release. This reaction triggers a cascade of events leading to enhanced force muscle production at the structural level of muscle (Horwath & Kravitz ). Thus, increased muscle activation yields a greater duration of calcium ions in the muscle cell environment, yielding a greater phosphorylation of the myosin light chain protein (Rixon et al. 2007).
  • The second theory is based on the H-reflex, an excitation of a spinal reflex elicited by afferent muscle nerves. It is theorized that the PAP intervention enhances the H-reflex, thus increasing the efficiency and rate of the nerve impulses to the muscle (Hodgson, Docherty, Robbins, 2005).

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. Start your training by doing sprints to hack your nervous system and improve strength performance. 

Improved Anaerobic Conditioning Levels

Ahh, the good ole’ C-word. No, not Crossfit. Kidding aside,  cardio really is regarded strangely in the fitness industry; some people love it for overall health and fat loss, and some people are hell bent on making cardio-bashing memes and slamming running like it’s worse than ISIS.

Smart people and good coaches no the answer is always “It depends with cardio.” You probably also know that—if used correctly, like sprints—cardio has a place.

To cut through the basis, our body has three main energy systems that work in concert to provide us with the energy (i.e. ATP) necessary for our daily activities, including exercise.

  • ATP-PCr: Provides energy for very high intensity, short duration activities (6 – 10 seconds) without the use of oxygen (1 ATP per reaction)
  • Anaerobic Glycolysis: Provides energy for high intensity, short-to-moderate duration activities (10-90 seconds) without the use of oxygen (2 ATP per anaerobic cycle)
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation (Aerobic): Provides energy for low-to-moderate intensity activities lasting more than 2 minutes (36-38 ATP’s per cycle)

To keep this short and concise, it’s important to note energy systems are not mutually exclusive. They all work together and are recruited based on the demands of an activity.

For example, a two mile race is primarily oxidative, a power clean is primarily ATP-PCr dominant, and a 200 meter sprint is primarily anaerobic glycolytic dominant.

Back to my point: Sprinting is a high intensity method that emphasizes the ATP-PCr and anaerobic glycolysis systems, the same energy systems used during  most high intensity lifting sessions.

 

By sprinting and improving your anaerobic glycolytic capabilities you’re allowed  to work at higher relative intensities, which elicit peripheral adaptations associated with aerobic AND anaerobic metabolism (i.e. improves function of ALL three energy pathways). This means, you’ll improve work capacity in your muscle-building workouts, allowing for harder training and building more muscle.

Sprints Build your Glutes and Hamstrings

Sprinting is a total body exercise with the primary driving force being powerful hip extension and flexion in acceleration, then rapid stride turnover as you reach top speed. The muscles primarily responsible for explosive hip extension/flexion are some of the biggest muscles in your body: the glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors, and quads.

Rather than solely using deadlifts, squats, cleans, and other weight-room exercise to build your backside —  use sprints. My assumption is you haven’t sprinted in ages. The training variety should be just  what the doctor ordered to jump-start rapid growth.

 

Sprinting Shreds Body Fat

Besides improving the look of your booty, improving athleticism, and stimulating muscle growth, sprinting will of course, shred body fat.

I’d take it as as to say that sprinting during the summer is the best training method accelerate fat loss and improve you athleticism. And do your best Rocky and Apollo reenactment before the most famous bro-hug of all time.

As an added bonus, sprinting works as a check-and-balance system during bulking phases. Too often, du. Oftentimes, overzealous lifters crush every calorie source available and follow the “See-Food” diet. Sprinting provides a similar reaction for the body to resistance by improving insulin sensitivity, increasing anabolic hormone levels, while burning more calories through high intensity exercise.

Sprinting effectively builds a safeguard against this all too common bulking pitfall to keep bodyfat low, even when you’re bulking up.

Sprinting Options:

Tweet: Check out these awesome sprint workouts to shred fat and preserve #muscle. @Eric_BachCheck out these awesome sprint workouts to shred fat and preserve #muscle. @Eric_Bach

 Low Volume Sprints Before lifting

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. As a result, your strength performance will increase, conditioning will improve, and athleticism will be preserved.

But wait…Sprinting is a technical movement that needs practice. The most demanding and explosive exercises require maximum focus and energy to preserve technique and thus, should done first in a workout, which means sprints.

The neural demands of sprints need full focus for maximum performance and low injury risk, at least if you’re moving at top speed. Remember peeps, we need risk versus reward: enough sprinting to spark the nervous system, yet low enough in volume to prevent excess fatigue, especially in hard-gainers.

Perform low volume, short distance sprints before training rather than long-duration sprints when you’re already gassed and fatigued. Two days per week perform five sets of 10-20 yards with walk-back recovery and adding one sprint per week.

This way, you’ll improve athleticism and power without excess stress and training volume to interfere with your gains.

Sprints at the End of Your Workout

Option BEEE (B, duh), is sprinting at the end of your workout, ideally on a hill. Using a hill keep sprints sub-maximal in speed, but not effort to prevent overstraining and hamstring pulls, yet still shred fat and scorch your legs.

sprinting for skinny guys, why you must sprint
Photo Credit: http://rpmftns.com/hill-sprints-a-fat-burning-hell/

When sprinting for conditioning start with running two days per week on a treadmill or slight hill. After a warm-up and speed drills, sprint for 10 minutes with 8 second sprints and 50 second rests, increasing sprint time by one second and decreasing sprint rest by one second each week up to 15 second sprints.

Week One: Sprint 10 seconds, rest 50

Week Two: Sprint 11 seconds, rest 49

Week Three: Sprint 12 seconds, rest 48

Week Four: Sprint 13 seconds, rest 47

Week Five: Sprint 14 seconds, rest 46

Week Six: Sprint 15 seconds, rest 45

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As always, a micro-progression to condition the body and tissues to the demands of sprinting without exceeding your recovery capabilities.

Wrap Up

Listen, I know cardio sucks. That’s why we all skip it, even more-so when there are too many options. Unfortunately, neither is a good option, So I’ll make it simple:

Get up and sprint.

Yea, it might be scary, but you must sprint to maximally improve improve athleticism and preserve muscle. Just as important, sprinting torches unwanted bodyfat that’s been hanging over your jeans from the Holiday season.

You have nothing to lose—only athleticism, a shredded body, and powerful legs to gain. Alright, I gotta go hit the gym to use the recumbent bike. Just kidding, hill sprints it is.

 

References

Horwath, R., & Kravitz , L. (n.d.). postactivation potentiation: A brief review. Informally published manuscript, Exercise Science , Retrieved from http://www.unm.edu/~lkravitz/Article folder/postactivationUNM.html

Rixon KP, Lamont HS, Bemben M. Influence of type of muscle contraction, gender, and lifting experience on postactivation potentiation performance. J Strength Cond Res. 2007; 21: 500–505.

P.S.

I want to help you avoid my training mistakes: you can start building your ultimate high-performance body now. And I’ve put together a free step-by-step guide to show you how.

Click here to get the free guide.

 

Three Problems with Your Bent Over Row

underhand row

While many coaches haphazardly throw exercises into a routine because they’re painstakingly difficult it’s imperative that all exercises have a clear point and purpose.

After all, in training…
Tweet: The goal is creating a physiological response to get jacked, lean, or athletic, not miserable. @Eric_Bach : http://bit.ly/1FbIBM4 #trainingThe goal is creating a physiological response to get jacked, lean, or athletic, not miserable.

In the case of the supinated barbell bent over row, a premium is placed on holding body position to get strong through the trunk while hammering the lats, rhomboids, traps, erectors, biceps, glutes, and hamstrings into hypertrophy.

Barbell bent-over rows are a great exercise to address common technique weaknesses and flaws, such as trunk stability and strength in the hinge position.

Problem is, they’re butchered all the time leading to dysfunction and injury instead of high performance gains.

In this post, I’m covering three major concerns with your bent over row that you must take into account to maximize your training and minimize the risk of injury.

Potential Issues with the Row

Rounding and Shear Stress on the Spine:

Lifters with flexion based back injuries may struggle to hold pain-free position with a loaded barbell in front of the body.
It’s essential to pull the body tight to the body, brace the abs to ensure neutral spine, and eliminate body english, to minimize problems due to shear stress.

Furthermore, be conservative programming heavy rows in conjunction with squats and deadlifts in the same workout.
Rows are great to get jacked and strong, but that’s no good if you have a mangled spine.

Program bent over rows conservatively if you have a history of flexion based back injuries.
Pulling the Body to the Bar:

Let your muscles lift the weight, not your ego. Most lifters have a tendency to excessively load the bar and end up using way too much momentum to move weight. While the intentions are good, losing position, raising the chest, flexing the spine, and doing total body convulsions to complete the lift do more harm than good.

Hold solid joint position, drop the weight a bit, and train what you mean to train!

Pulling the Elbows Too far Back:

When rowing, some lifters pull the bar too far past mid-line. While you might feel a better “squeeze” in the muscles, the humerus may migrate forward into the anterior socket of the shoulder, potentially causing impingement and dysfunction.

Rather than driving the elbows as far as possible aim to break the plane of the body, but no further if the shoulder caves forward. This way, you’ll optimize muscular recruitment for gains in strength and size without compromising the integrity of the shoulder joint.

Basically, you’ll still get jacked without harming your shoulders.

bent over row

(Photo credit: Brett Contreras)

Wrap Up:

No doubt, the supinated bent over row provides some massive benefits in terms of pulling strength and hypertrophy. But, every exercise is a tool, and any tool is only as good as its use. Troubleshoot your row and ensure you’re not making errors to the detriment of your health and function.

P.S.

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15 Expert Tips: How to Improve Athleticism

31191036 - man start running on the pathway with the blue sky in the background and copy space around him. motion blur.

Lets be Clear: 

To Improve athleticism, building muscle and strength isn’t enough—you must be able to move and generate force rapidly to stand above the average meathead.

Who wants to be all show and no go?

Further, what fun is having tons of endurance without appreciable muscle mass?

If you’re like most lifters, you want demand a blend of both athleticism and muscle mass, and that’s what I’m here to deliver. 

Short on time? Grab this article as a Checklist

 

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to build a body capable of competing with the toughest athletes, yet still lean and muscular.

I reached out to a handful of expert coaches in the industry to help you maximize your training and improve athletic performance.

Not only will you maximize your training, you’ll build real-world athleticism. In other words, these tips will help you become Unleash Your Athleticism, and become a beast both in, and out of the gym. 

 1) Value Relative Strength As much as Absolute Strength

There are many factors to consider, but heavy strength training is a tool for improvement, not the end-all be-all in performance.

Does the allocation of resources towards building more strength with potential gains in size outweigh the benefits of higher relative strength and corresponding improvements in agility, speed, power, and coordination?

Sorry to burst your bubble, but no.

bodyweight training, Expert Tips to Build Muscle, How to Improve Athleticism

There are always exceptions like absolute strength athletes such as lineman, throwers, and strongman competitors, but when athletes’ sports are movement based relative strength reigns king.

Incorporate bodyweight training, movement skills like sprints and jumps, and stop blindly adding weight to the bar above all else.

Related: Find out Seven Ways to Improve Relative Strength

2) Develop Unilateral Strength and Power

David Dellanave of Dellanave.com

If you want a more athletic, and dare I say functional, type of strength prepare to get comfortable with unilateral work. The fact is most sport movements happen from an offset stance and favor power development unilaterally.

Let’s look at two great movements to make this happen:

The first is the skater squat, or airborne lunge. This is a super challenging movement that is fantastic for building single leg strength. Don’t be put off by this bodyweight exercise – most people have to progress from a Bulgarian split squat to develop single leg strength and stability to prepare for the unsupported, skater squat.

The skater squat is like a pistol squat, but instead of the non-working leg being outstretched in front of you, the hip is flexed and you tap the knee of the non-working leg on the ground near your planted foot. Here’s one of Ben Bruno’s guys doing it:

In most cases, you’ll want a little weight to act as a counterbalance to aid in balance. To progress the skater squat slightly reduce the range of motion by tapping the knee to a yoga block rather than on the ground. This increases the difficulty of the exercise by requiring additional eccentric control. Gradually increase the range of motion until you’re going all the way to the ground.

The second unilateral power exercise is the split stance one-armed push press, one of the most underrated exercises for athletic power development. Working with one arm negates the bilateral deficit and allows you to move a ton of weight for massive gains in strength and power. The push press requires other transfer of force from the power body until a full-body, coordinated movement.

When done from a split stance, the push press forces stability through the hip and trunk. Keep in mind the best way to find which foot position is best is to biofeedback test it.

Integrate these two staples into your strength and conditioning program and you’re going to be a force to be reckoned with on the field.

3) Jump Rope to Improve Coordination

Jumping rope is an excellent way to develop the individual qualities that make up coordinative athletic movement—what we typically call “athleticism.”

Tweet: Check out this awesome tip to build athleticism in the gym @Eric_Bach: http://bit.ly/1bg0bAw #performance #trainingCheck out this awesome tip to build athleticism in the gym @Eric_Bach: http://bit.ly/1bg0bAw #performance #training

Hitting the weights hard and eating well is important, but true athleticism requires coordination, not just brute strength. Everyone loves being big, strong, and fast, but they’re useless without technique and the ability to consistently express those physical qualities on demand in a coordinated manner.

Jumping rope not only allows you to develop these qualities individually but also trains your body to seamlessly integrate them in concert with one another.

4) Improve Functional Mobility and Reinforce with Strength and Stability

Dr. John Rusin, the Strength Doc.

If you have goals of becoming an elite athlete, functional mobility is a pivotal aspect of high performance.

If your first thought in achieving Gumby-like mobility is with the addition of more stretching and foam rolling to training program, think again.

Short on time? Grab this article as a Checklist

Whether stretching and rolling works is still under academic debate but one thing holds true; neither of these modalities are going to streamline translatable mobility like the pristine execution of accentuated loaded eccentrics to your training schedule.

johnrusin, How to Improve Athleticism

You have most likely already had a taste of the basics of accentuated loaded eccentrics in foundational barbell movements like the Romanian deadlift. With the operative word being “accentuated,” this type of training method is largely dependent on the execution of prescribed tempos and extended ranges of motion.

Increasing the time under tension during the eccentric phases of big compound movements while moving into the last 10% of available range will strategically micro-tear facial layers and muscle tissue, while also retraining neural receptors to adapt to extended ranges of motion under load.

In other words, you’ll build strength, stability, and increase range of motion all in one.

Give it a shot, and remember this method can be used for nearly any movement pattern of muscle group. The key is in the execution– own your movement, challenge your body and reap the benefits of Olympian level mobility.

Tweet: Check out this awesome tip to build athleticism in the gym @Eric_Bach: http://bit.ly/1bg0bAw #performance #trainingCheck out this awesome tip to build athleticism in the gym @Eric_Bach: http://bit.ly/1bg0bAw #performance #training
5) Incorporate Basic Movement Patterns Like Skipping

Tony Gentilcore of Tonygentilcore.com

I like to use skipping drills with many of my general fitness population clients. Most have spent YEARS in front of a computer and their idea of athleticism is taking the stairs over the elevator. People don’t move a lot anymore and end up having the movement quality of a crowbar.

It’s funny: I’ll say to someone, “we’re going to warm-up with some skipping drills,” and many will roll their eyes and chuckle as if to say “dude, really? Skipping?” Then I watch them skip and I’m the one who ends up laughing.

Skipping is a nice way to help build “groove” proper sprinting mechanics (opposite arm/leg swing), not to mention is a low-grade drill that pretty much anyone can do without risk of injury.

It’s a nice way to “extend” a warm-up or to introduce SOME form of athletic movement if they haven’t done anything more than walk to the water cooler in the past ten years.

Tweet: Check out this great list to Build Athleticism in the Gym Try this awesome tip to build more athleticism in the gym

6) Balance Training based on Neural Demands 

When setting up any training program or workout, you need to place more neurologically demanding exercises early in the week, and early in each session.

In other words, neural demands are the requirements placed on the nervous system for the ideal execution of an exercise. 
Athletes require high speed, technical, multi-joint movements like sprinting, jumping, and compound lifts. In these exercises, the nervous system is the driver of performance.

If you’re blasting cleans with excess fatigue the nervous system fails to send signals to the muscles fast enough to allow technique execution of the exercise.

weight-lifting-for-women-2, How to Improve Athleticism

In the case of sprinting under fatigue, you’re unable to produce maximal efforts and training conditioning rather than truly increasing speed, all while increasing the risk of injury due to technical changes. This leads to missed lifts, altered technique, and potentially wreckin’ yo gains.

Keep the high-intensity exercises like sprinting, cleans, or near-maximal lifts with full recovery in the beginning of your workouts.

Exercises towards the velocity portion of the graph (i.e. speed) are obviously faster and more sensitive to changes in technique than slower speed exercises like heavy deadlifts or squats.

To get jacked to the max start your workout with explosive movement like sprints, jumps, or throws and then hit the weights to get stronger and create muscular damage for growth.

Tweet: Check out this awesome tip to build athleticism in the gym @Eric_Bach: http://bit.ly/1bg0bAw #performance #trainingCheck out this awesome tip to build athleticism in the gym @Eric_Bach: http://bit.ly/1bg0bAw #performance #training

7) Build your Base of Strength to Improve Athleticism

Ben Bruno of benbruno.com

For most gym-goers, a basic strength- training program will go a long way in improving athleticism. Keep the specialized exercise programs for more advanced athletes and hammer full-range-of-motion strength training.

benbruno

Training with good form and in a progressive manner will give you a bigger bang for your training buck than a lot of the fancier “sport specific” drills, especially until you have a foundation of strength.

Emphasize major lifts with sound technique, get strong and develop your base of strength. This sets the table for improved training with more sports specific drills going forward.

8) Move Explosively Everyday

Nick Tumminello of Nicktumminello.com

If you’re like most lifters, you stopped rapid, explosive movement years, if not decades ago.
Rather than solely lifting heavy, incorporate explosive movement and do something fast every day.” That means you should sprint, throw, punch, or jump regularly.

Being jacked and strong is nice, but expressing strength fast and generating tons of power separates the contenders from the pretenders.

Moreover, rather than spending countless hours refining technique on Olympic lifts, it’s best to use exercises with an accelerated learning curve to train the same qualities: explosive power, nervous system activation, and activation of high threshold muscle fibers.

Whether your goals are physique or athletic oriented, you’ll reap huge benefits from explosive throws, pushes, and jumps. By bridging the gap between strength and speed, your nervous system functions at a faster, more efficient rate to improve firing rates of muscles on your big lifts.

Add in jumps for the lower body and push-up variations or explosive throws for three sets of five reps with light resistance after your movement training or directly after your warm-up.

That way, you’ll improve neural activation, better recruit muscle fibers, and prepare the body for activity and sport. 

9) Incorporate Multi-planar Training

Travis Pollen, the Fitness Pollenator

As an amputee, I might be a little biased, but single-leg training with the aforementioned exercises will boost athleticism, especially if you’ve been spending all your time on conventional barbell exercises.

Train unilaterally: multi-planar split squats and lunges, single-leg stiff-legged deadlifts, single leg hurdle jumps, even single-leg hang cleans.

travispollen

Most lifts take place solely in the sagittal plane, yet sports are chaotic and take place with frontal, sagittal, and transverse plane movements. All movements have forces in multiple planes, but it serves the average gym-goer well to incorporate direct multi-planar movements.

While you must master basic exercise first, incorporating movements that require greater stabilization throughout the entire body will undoubtedly improve a variety of qualities that contribute to athleticism. There are the obvious ones like strength and power and then some less obvious ones, too, like mobility, stability, balance, and proprioception.

10) Build Up Multi-level Strength

Chad Landers of Push Private Fitness

 To improve athleticism get stronger, both in an absolute and relative sense. 90% of people will never have the issue of being too strong to excel in sports. As a result, improving strength and training with a variety of rep ranges to set your infrastructure for speed, stability, power, and improvements in body composition.

It’s imperative to note that you don’t need to train at 90, 95% of your one-rep-max, save that for the power lifters.

Instead, hammer the 3-5 rep range with 80% 1-RM in the “big lifts” like squats, deadlifts, presses, cleans, rows and pull-ups.” You’ll still build strength without excessive stress that crushes the high training demands of athletes.

Not only do the lighter loads add a greater speed component, they reduce the risk of technical breakdowns and form.

11) Improve Rotational Strength and Power

Kennet Waale is a facilitator, coach and founder of Move Strong and www.kennetwaale.com.

Power is vector specific, so it requires athletes to train rotational skills directly. The four exercises below are thoroughly explained in the videos regarding execution to help you build rotational strength and power. Following is an outline of how you could use the exercises to improve rotational power and strength in a more traditional athletic performance program.

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A proper periodization plan is obviously important and practicing the foundations is of utmost importance to master any skill. Don’t let your ego come in the way – start light; master the movements and progress the weights and tempo as you go. Soon, you’ll be swinging and punching harder with specific rotational power.

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Information:

  • Males +70kg start with: 20kg Kettlebell
  • Males -70kg start with: 16kg Kettlebell
  • Females +60kg start with: 16kg Kettlebell
  • Females -60kg start with: 12kg Kettlebell
  • Stick with the above weights for the first three weeks before you decide to increase it when technique is optimal.

 

Day 1: Lower BodyDate:   Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
A1) Half Dragon Press (Weeks 1&2)Full Dragon Press (Week 3) Weight *As Above *As Above *As Above
Sets vs. Reps 3×5/side 3×6/side 3×8/side
Speed Controlled Controlled Controlled
Rest 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes
A2) Depth Jumps Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×5 3×6 3×6
Speed Explosive Explosive Explosive
Rest 60-120sec 60-120sec 60-120sec
B1) Sumo Deadlifts Weight 50%1RM 55%1RM 60%1RM
Sets vs. Reps 3×6 3×5 4×4
Speed Explosive Explosive Explosive
Rest 0 0 0
C1) Rotational Medicine Ball Tosses Weight 3kg 4kg 4kg
Sets vs. Reps 3×6-8 3×8-10 3×8-12
Speed 5-0-2 5-0-2 5-0-2
Rest 90sec 90sec 90sec
C2) Walking Lunges with Bar in Front Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×10/leg 3×10/leg 3×12/leg
Speed   5-0-2 5-0-2

 

Day 2: Upper BodyDate:   Week 1 Week 2 Week 3
A1) Lateral Cleans Weight *As Above *As Above *As Above
Sets vs. Reps 3×5/side 3×6/side 3×8/side
Speed Controlled Controlled Controlled
Rest 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes 1-2 minutes
A2) Push Ups w/Clap Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×5 3×6 3×6
Speed 2-0-2 2-0-2 2-0-2
Rest 60-120sec 60-120sec 60-120sec
B1) 1-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press Weight 50%1RM 55%1RM 60%1RM
Sets vs. Reps 3×6 3×5 4×4
Speed Explosive Explosive Explosive
Rest 0 0 0
C1) Rotational Swings Weight *As Above *As Above *As Above
Sets vs. Reps 3×8-12/side 3×8-12/side 3×8-12/side
Speed 5-0-2 5-0-2 5-0-2
Rest 90sec 90sec 90sec
C2) Cry Babies Weight      
Sets vs. Reps 3×6-10/side 3×6-10/side 3×6-10/side
Speed   5-0-2 5-0-2

Video Tutorials:

The Dragon Press Half Rotation

 

The Dragon Press Full Rotation

The Lateral Clean

>

 

The Rotational Swing

12) Improve Thoracic Mobility for better Overhead Movement

Dean Somerset of Deansomerset.com

Thoracic mobility gains could be made through improving breathing patterns and glute engagement.

Stay with me, as I know it sounds crazy, but the implications are pretty powerful. For breathing work, inhalation involves the expansion of the rib cage and extension of the thoracic spine, helping you pull in larger volumes of air during inhalation. As a result, this increases movement in thoracic mobility and stability for overhead movements.

For the glutes, their glute contraction has a massive impact within a very short period of time to help increase thoracic drive. In a situation where the glutes aren’t being used, the pelvis can be held with a bit more anterior tilt, which causes a compensatory movement of the lumbar spine into more lordosis, or extension.

To balance this out, the thoracic spine winds up getting more kyphotic, or flexed so as to keep your head vertical over your feet and keep you from falling over.

Flexing the glutes helps to pull the pelvis into slightly more posterior tilt, which reduces the drive on the low back into extension and thus reduces the drive into the thoracic spine into flexion. It’s simple tip with profound, performing improving implications.

The combined aspect of breathing in more air, opening the lungs, and flexing the glutes, increases thoracic extension range of motion rapidly, which can help put you into a better position to overhead press while stabilizing the pelvis for less discomfort and pain in overhead movements.

13) Don’t Sacrifice Nutrition

Kedric Kwan of Kedrickwan.com

 With all the training sessions and high demands on game day, athletes have an extremely high-energy output.

This gives the perception that because of the high-energy output, athletes don’t have to watch what they eat and body composition is last on their list.

Unfortunately, most athletes crush insane amount of junk, wrecking body composition and reducing recoverability. If you’re a recreational athlete and scarf skittles like Marshawn Lynch, you’ll turn into a slob rather than a high-performance machine.

 

Even though most of us aren’t looking to be a stage ready bodybuilder anytime soon, improving body composition can help improve athletic performance.

Seriously, body fat doesn’t produce force the way muscle can and may decrease relative strength by increasing bodyweight.

The better your body composition is and the higher the ratio of muscle you have to fat, the more force you’re cable of producing. This force, under the right training conditions will enhance your athletic potential.

By periodizing your nutrition, being aware of your food intake and using specific supplements will help improve your body composition.

Instead of eating everything in sight thinking you’ll burn it all off during training or competition, focus on your body composition with proper nutrition.

Besides, who doesn’t want to be a badass on the pitch while looking jacked on the beach?

14) Incorporate the Medicine Ball Back Toss for Explosive Power

Joey Percia 

One of my favorite drills to use with clients to improve athleticism, more specifically jumping ability, is the overhead backward medicine ball toss for height. I like the throw for height opposed to distance because it decreases the likelihood of over extending the low back in an attempt to get more power, which is a common fault for beginners and those new to the movement.

Most clients who haven’t jumped in years let their arms flop around like wet noodles or tuck them tight to the side like pencil diving in a pool. Not only is this disadvantageous for jumping but it’s an awkward thing to see. This movement gives the client a basic understanding of using an effective arm swing, gets the CNS jacked up and most importantly, it’s fun.”

15) Start Sprinting to Improve Athleticism

Option One: Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance by potentiating the nervous system for heavy and explosive training.

This comes with a risk versus reward trade-off as sprinting done before training must be enough to spark the nervous system, yet low enough in volume and intensity to not fatigue the body and hinder lifting ability. When fatigue is managed, strength performance, conditioning, and athleticism will skyrocket.

After your dynamic warm-up (that you’re already doing, right?), do some submaximal speed drills like skips and low-intensity sprints for 5-10 minutes.

Low volume, short distance sprints performed before strength training help prevent injury and improve performance, as opposed to doing a technical, neurologically demanding exercise after training when fatigue predisposes you to injury.

Perform sprints two days per week. Start with 5 sprints of 10-20 yards with 30-60 seconds of recovery and add one sprint per week, maxing out at 10 sprints.

Option Two: Sprints Conditioning After a Lift

Sprints require sound mechanics and practice before you can pile on tons of volume, a process to which most gym rats aren’t willing to dedicate time. With that in mind, sprinting for conditioning must be done sub-maximally on either a hill or incline to prevent overstriding and hamstring injuries.

How to Improve your Athleticism: Wrap Up

Your body is an integrated system and should be trained as such. When in doubt, training for improving performance builds a foundation for better training of aesthetic goals, bringing you the total package of a lean, strong, athletic body. 

Take a few minutes to review your training and ask, “Where can I improve my performance?”


 

I put together a brief checklist covering all 15 tips, on one short list for you to throw in your gym bag. Download for free below to optimize your athleticism. 

Get Your Free Athleticism CheckList, ASAP!

Four Hardgainer Cardio Solutions

IMG_0584

I think you’ll agree with me when I say:

Conditioning is the most overlooked aspect of building athletic muscle, especially for skinny dudes. After all, you need to do is eat, hoist huge weights, and eat some more and you’ll easily build muscle.

Or is it?

In today’s post, I’ll show you how to escape from hardgainer hell and improve your conditioning while simultaneously building high-performance muscle.

Building slabs of high-performance muscle isn’t just lifting and crushing your diet—you need specific conditioning for hardgainers for optimal muscular development, workout efficiency, and overall health.

What’s the point in being strong and jacked without the ability to use or sustain your athleticism?

conditioning for hardgainers

Yea, gaining mass is hard work, and along with the hard work comes a fear of over-conditioning and as a result, stalling muscle growth. Don’t fall for the belief that conditioning will zap your training to the detriment of your health and athletic performance.

When it’s all said and done the real badasses are strong and well-conditioned machines, not just muscular.

Don’t be like most scraggly hardgainers who avoid conditioning like it’s an Ebola-laced napkin. Your gains won’t hemorrhage out of all your orfices, far from it.

I’ve been around the block and spent my time as a hard-gainer. I’ve done moderate steady state cardio, kept volume super-low, and even skipped conditioning completely.

As a result, I’ve grown a smidge bigger, but I always lose athleticism, and gain a ton of fat.

Drop the “conditioning keeps me small” sob story—it’s time to maximize your training with well-planned and precisely executed conditioning. With these four conditioning methods you’ll build renewed athleticism and get jacked with minimal fat gain in your escape from hardgainer hell.

1) Low Volume Sprints

 Option One: Sprints Before Lifting: 

Sprinting before lifting is ideal for improving performance in athletes and potentiating the nervous system for heavy lifts and explosive training. This comes with a risk vs reward trade-off as sprinting done before training should be enough to spark the nervous system yet low enough in volume and intensity to not fatigue the body and hinder lifting ability.

Moreover, sprinting is a technical movement that needs practice. The most most nuerally demanding and explosive exercises need maximum focus and energy and thus, must done first in a workout.

That’s why jumps get scheduled before Olympic lifts or heavy strength work. The neural demands of sprints need full focus and energy for maximum performance at the beginning of your workout.

Perform low volume, short distance sprints before training rather than long-duration sprints when you’re already gassed and fatigued. Two days per week perform five sets of 10-20 yards with walk-back recovery and adding one sprint per week is ideal.

This way, you’ll condition the body to high velocity, high impact movement without excess stress and training volume to interfere with your gains. 

hardgainer conditioning

Option Two: Sprints at the end of your workout:

I’m a huge fan of sprints, agility drills, and movement skills, but there’s a catch:

Performing any coordinative skill under excess fatigue runs the risk of engraining a poor movement pattern and subsequent injury.

In other words, sprinting while exhausted from your hardgainer training is a great pop yo’ hammies, especially if you haven’t sprinted in ages.

While sprints are obviously a great exercise, and not inherently “bad” or dangerous, they’re a skill that requires mechanics and practice before piling on tons of volume, a process to which most gym rats aren’t willing to dedicate time.

That said, sprints as a conditioning tool do them with sub-maximal speeds and on a hill or incline. Using an incline and submaximal speeds prevents over striding and most hamstring related injuries.

If you go with this option sprint two days per week on a treadmill or hill. Don’t worry about the specifics; work your ass off for 10 minutes with 5-10 second sprints and 30-60 second rests. Increase your speed before the jacking up the incline to technique.

            Do your Sprints:

As a performance coach first I prefer sprints before any lifting because of the neural demands mentioned above. Being strong is important, but being athletic is more about movement than just being strong in the gym.

Without a base of movement it doesn’t matter how strong you are, inefficiencies in movement will hold back your high performance training.

Sprints fire up fast-twitch fibers and potentiate your nervous system for greater muscular recruitment and strength to keep your strong and shredded as you escape hardgainer hell.

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 2) Conditioning Complexes

Before going any further there is a clear distinction between complex pairs and conditioning complexes.

Complex pairs use a heavy strength movement and an explosive lighter movement in sequence to improve explosive performance. Complex pairs are an advanced training method for elite sports performance, which I covered in depth here on elitefts.

When it comes to conditioning I’m referring to barbell complexes: A series of major movement patterns performed in-series without rest. Better yet, complexes only take 5-10 minutes at the end of your workout to keep you lean while you get big and jacked.

Regardless of strength levels I’d recommend starting with an empty barbell. Speed and full range of motion are more important than weight. Besides, adding too much weight will hinder your recovery and conflict with the rest of your intelligent programming. Move as fast as possible through each exercise (with good form, ahem) and without putting the bar down. Your heart will be pulsating through your t-shirt, your lunges will scream, but damn you will be glad you did these.

“Rookie”

  • deadlift 4×12 rest 0
  • hang clean 4×12 rest 0
  • Military press 4×12 rest 0
  • front squat 4×12 rest 60-90 sec
hardgainer conditioning
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaredpolin/4560294699/

“The Olympian” 

Hang Snatch 3×10 Rest 0

Push Press 3×10 Rest 0

Hang Clean 3×10 Rest 0

Front Squat 3×10 Rest 0

Front Squat Reverse Lunge 3×10 Rest 0

High Pull 3×10 rest 60-90 sec

**Note: If you don’t know how to properly perform these exercises avoid this sequence. Never perform exercises without proper training, but even more with overhead lifts such as the Olympic lifts.

“The Widow Maker”

Overhead Press 2×10 Rest 0

back squat 2×10 Rest 0

reverse lunge 2×10 Rest 0

hang clean 2×10 Rest 0

front squat 2×10 Rest 0

  • bent over row 2×10 Rest 0
  • Romanian deadlift 2×10 Rest 0
  • Front Squat lunge 2×10 Rest 0
  • biceps curl 2×10 Rest 0
  • front squat hold calf raise 2×10 Rest 90-120 sec

Complexes are an ideal conditioning tool for hard-gainers once per week because they’re of short duration and high-density. As a result, the conditioning affects span beyond the immediate workout because of exercise post-oxygen consumption (EPOC). In other words, your heart rate stays jacked up for greater cardiovascular benefit to keep you leaner while your building muscle.

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3)Jumping Rope

Hardcore exercises like sled pushes and sprints get all the glory, but one old school tool doesn’t’ get the attention it lightly deserves: the jump rope.

Jumping rope is low impact and not-overly catabolic—two huge factors in recover for hardgainers. Beyond that, jumping rope is safer than most conditioning drills for two reasons.

First, jumping rope is a self-limiting exercise: to jump rope without failing you must stay in an aligned, joint stacked position while moving, forcing your trunk to stay engaged and resilient under the load of movement. If you miss mess up, welt your calves or triceps, or catch a toe, the exercise ends. All of this makes it extremely unlikely to over-do it; and, even better, nearly impossible to incur injury.

Second, jumping rope is a low-impact movement, despite a high number of foot strikes. Here’s why this is important for us formerly skinny guys: the lower impact does not create a hyper-catabolic environment that will erode your precious hypertrophy like other repetitive impact exercises. In other words, you will get shredded without about dropping lean body mass.

For hardgainer conditioning Double-Unders and the Runnin’ Man are my two go-to conditioning drills with each being performed twice per week with at least 48 hours between workouts.
So, if I did double-unders as my focus on Monday I would wait until Wednesday or Thursday until my next jump-rope conditioning session.

Double Unders:

Exactly like it sounds—whip the jump rope two times in a row with one singular jump. Work up to sets of 10 and use a lighter rope, like the Cross Rope Burn set. Rests 30-60 seconds and continue on for 10-15 minutes or until your lungs and calves explode, your choice.

Runnin’ Man:

No, you don’t need the Running Man outfit Arnold wore in the movie, but that will increase your anabolism 400%. Fact. Seriously, I’m kidding. But, seriously.

Run in place while skipping the rope. Not only will this improve your coordination, it’s a deceptively tough conditioning workout. Go for time and work up to 10-15 minutes of continuous “running.” The impact is far less than your traditional steady state cardio or plodding along on the treadmill.

 

As it stands, the jump rope is the ultimate low impact tool for accelerated fat loss, conditioning, and improved athleticism for hard gainers.

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4) Sled Work

I’m a huge proponent of sled-work as a conditioning tool. Hardgainers are terrified of conditioning exercises overloading their recoverability and zapping their hypertrophy.

Besides building muscle, sled work gets better: 

Sleds have no eccentric stress—the stress incurred on the “negative” of resistance training exercises that causes the most muscle damage. For this reason, the volume accumulated with sleds won’t hinder recover to the same extent as other training methods.

Once the force applied to the sled exceeds that needed to overcome friction all muscular actions are concentric, resulting in increased total training volume and thus, increased protein synthesis for muscle building. For this reason, sled work is great to improve conditioning and muscle building without stressing the body past its recoverability.

In other words, sleds are a top tool to help you minimize fat gain and improve conditioning—especially if you’re a hustlin’ hardgainer with muscle building ambitions.

Hardgainer Cardio Solutions

It’s important to prioritize weight training as it’s the driving force for muscle building. Regardless, well planned conditioning is imperative to improve work capacity, improve athleticism, and keep you lean while you’re bulking. Conditioning one to three times per week, but absolutely no more.

Sample Conditioning Routine

Monday: Upper Body Training
Tuesday: Lower Body Training+ Sprint work

Wednesday: Off or Jump Rope

Thursday: Upper Body Training

Friday: Total Body Training + Sled Work
Saturday: Off

Sunday: Off 

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Wrap Up:

The hard to swallow fact is you still need some conditioning even if you’re looking to gain mass. Hypertrophy training is no reason to get fat and out of-shape—it’s a cop out for laziness and poor planning even for the locked in hard-gainer.

Train with these four conditioning methods you’ll build renewed athleticism and get seriously jacked with minimal fat gain in your escape from hardgainer hell.

 

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[A variation of this article was published on T-Nation]

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