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Strength training

Seven Laws of Building Athletic Muscle

I almost quit.


I failed as an athlete trying to build athletic muscle and as a college meathead trying to re-establish some semblance of athleticism. 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. What’s the point in being a muscle bound sluggish Ogre or lacking confidence?

There’s more to building athletic muscle than deadlifts and lifting weights. Instead of being ripe with dysfunction and scrawny you must ditch the old school “body-part splits,” “insanity workouts,” and “ the Westside or Die” mentality. There’s no perfect recipe.

Forget these tools, they’re only a method of training. 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 seven things will build explosiveness, lean muscle, shred body fat, and boost your confidence.

sprints, building athletic muscle
Photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rethwill/8752384617/

1.)  Movement is a Must

The most common tip to become a better athlete is “get stronger.” This is important, but sports are more about movement than being strong. An over-emphasis on building strength is as dangerous as minimizing it. Without a base of movement it doesn’t matter how strong you are, inefficiencies in movement will hold back your high performance training. Sports occur with jumps, throws, sprints, cuts, hops, and reactive movement, not barbells and dumbbells.

Besides, sprints keep your fast twitch muscles firing on all cylinders and maintain explosiveness as you age. Perform jumps and throws before workouts. Sprint and do change of direction drills two or three times per week to keep you athletic and lean.

2.) Build a base of strength

There are multiple types of strength, but we’re focusing on absolute and relative strength.

Relative Strength is the amount of strength relative to body size. This reflects a person’s ability to control or move their body through space. All else being equal, smaller individuals have higher relative strength.

Absolute Strength is the maximum amount of force exerted regardless of muscle or body size. Greater amounts of absolute strength favor those with higher bodyweight and in general, larger individuals.

Building a base of strength improves relative strength (when size is in check) and improves your ability to generate force.

building athletic muscle
Building Athletic muscle require heavy lifting

Why this matters:

You want a body that performs as well as it looks. Both absolute strength and relative strength are needed for high-performance gains. Greater relative strength can be driven up by greater absolute strength and tested through activities that require moving the body through space—jumps, chin-ups, sprints, and bodyweight movements in sport.

Plus, you’ll increase nervous system activation, leading too:

1.  Increases muscle fiber recruitment: the number of muscle fibers being recruited.

2.  Increases speed of rate coding: the speed at which the body sends electrical signals to the muscles.

These both lead to greater adaptation and improvements in workout performance and help you build lean muscle. Build your strength base, it improves your ability to build lean muscle, strength, boosts your endurance, and shreds body fat.

3.) Progressive overload

I hate to break it to you, but squats, cleans, presses, pulls and lunges are still the best for building lean muscle and strength. Too maximize these exercises you must progressively overload the body. That means add weight, decrease rest, and increase training volume. Push your body beyond its abilities or you won’t grow. Get comfortable being uncomfortable or get left behind.

4.) Keep Isolation Isolated

By isolation exercises I’m referring to the typical bodybuilder exercises: lateral raises, biceps curls, and the like. Except for a few exercises at the end of your workouts these isolation exercises are inefficient and a waste of time. They’re a piece of the puzzle for building muscle, but everything has its place. With a limited amount of time to train you’re better off building strength and explosiveness. Get strong, and then worry about isolation, as it’s needed. For others use isolation as it’s needed to prevent injury and improve movement. Here I’m referring to your rotator cuff exercises, activation exercises in your hips and trunk and the like. Make them a piece of the puzzle, but not the main focus of your workouts.

5.) Pride, Passion, and Perseverance.

“Pride, passion, and perseverance.”

“Pride, passion, and perseverance.”

I remember my High-School Football coach preaching these terms over, and over, and over again. I used to think he was full of shit, but he’s right. These three terms are vital to your success on and off the field.

Pride to put your best foot forward and pursue your goals no matter the circumstances. Passion to be relentless and put in the time when no-one is working. Perseverance to push through plateaus and struggles that will occur. Attacking training with pride, passion, and perseverance is imperative to building athletic muscle.

“Knowing” what to do is great, but it won’t get you results. Put in the work!

6.) Exercise Risk/Reward

Everything is a tool and requires a risk-reward analysis.

building athletic muscle
Sorry, this won’t help you unless you’re training for the circus

The behind-the-neck overhead press is a great muscle builder, but creates shoulder impingement and dysfunction in lots of individuals. Is the trade-off worth it?

No. Each exercise is a tool, not the end-all-be-all. There are dozens of exercises to train the same muscles, pick a better option.

7.) De-loading Exercise

Train all you want, but without an emphasis on recovery you’ll end up beat up, weak, and un-athletic.

Training hard is rarely the missing piece for progress. That title goes to recovery, the vital component that most athletes neglect. Intense exercise causes tons of stress: joint & ligament stress, muscular damage, neural fatigue, and hormone disruption are all factors that must be taken into account and is highly individualized to each athlete. Beginners may be able to go for months without backing down; however, advancing athletes require individually specialized programs to maximize training gains. De-load, do recovery workouts, use soft-tissue therapies and contrast showers for better recovery.

Building Athletic Muscle Wrap Up

There’s more to building muscle and being athletic than your strength numbers. Get off the platform and into the world. You have to move, move well, and move often in a variety of ways. You have a finite amount of resources for training; pick exercises wisely, train hard, and be persistent. There you have it. These principles are key for building athletic muscle without turning you into a bloated ball of fail.


About:Eric Bach, CSCS, PN1 is a strength coach at Steadman Hawkins Sports Performance in Denver, Colorado. As an author Eric has been featured in publications such as T-Nation, eliteFTS, and the PTDC. He is the owner of Bach Performance where he coaches clients to take control of their lives, helping them become stronger, shredded, and more athletic. Get your Free Ebook 101 Tips to Jacked and Shredded Here.Athletic Muscle Building

FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/bachperformance/
TWITTER: twitter.com/Eric_Bach


If you want all of this programmed into a workout to finally build the body you desire join Bach Performance Online Coaching today. I’ve got a ton of projects coming an awesome things for you coming up, so stay tuned and join the Bach Performance community for exclusive offers and updates.

Join us now at Bach Performance.com 

Have a tip to add? Drop the Comment Here, I’d love to see it!


photo credit: oscarandtara via photopin cc

53 Tips to Build Herculean Strength- The Community Has Spoken Part 1

Strongman Pudzianowski
Photocredit: http://workoutsinc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/pudzianowski3.jpg

Training for Strength performance is the BEST method for results in the gym.

Being strong is impressive. It builds a huge fitness base, improving everything from speed and power to your ability to perform fat blasting high intensity exercise with greater weight and intensity.

Besides making you a bad-ass, building strength is imperative to long-term health and maintaining function as you age. So, unless you want to be hobbling around like peg-legged pirate by the time you’re 45 building herculean strength is damn important.

My Top 5 Tips to Build Herculean Strength Are:

1.) Pick basic, compound movements like squats, pull-ups, deadlifts, and presses.

2.) Start with weights that are too light and progress over time. 

3.) Deload every four to six weeks. Recovery is vital to long-term health and results.

4.) Get high quality coaching to ensure proper form and ideal loading. 

5.) Persevere. Building long-term strength takes years of hard work and dedication. 

Instead of having all the fun I decided to reach out and engage the Bach Performance Communities of Facebook and Google+. Here’s what the crew game up with.

Build Strength
Photocredit: http://uncontrolledvocabulary.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/woman-squatting.jpg


1.) Nick BuchanStick to the basics of squat, deadlift, bench, pull up etc, do them well and do them regularly. www.strongergolf.org

2.) Juciest L ‪-Lifting every week and actually doing something while your there.

3.) Jason’s Journal– Find a way to train that you can truly believe in to be able to work hard and as consistent as possible for a very very long time.

4.)Matthew Marshall– Don’t jump around and switch up too much, variety is the spice of life but if you train something consistently chances are it’s going to get stronger.

5.)illy Fanska -Lift heavy…


David Moya -Be consistent

7.)Joseph Armenta- Don’t worry about 1rm move weight when it gets easy add more

8.)James R Anderson -Put more weight on the bar.

9.)Steve Denison -Have a written training plan and stick to it. Lots of good strength templates out there. Just find one and use it for a complete training cycle of 8-12 weeks. Applying yourself to any of them you will make gains. Then evaluate your progress at the end.

10.) James Fuller- Dont be afraid of the weight or an attempt.

11.)Charlie Martin-I think Steve has the key points right on. I would also include this: In addition to building strength never stop investigating the fine points of proper technique.


Ben Gallaher -Work hard. www.goldenempiretraining.com

13.)Zack McDole- Attack your weaknesses and make progress without going to fast to avoid hitting a wall


Nathan Chaszeyka -Consistency. It doesn’t matter how good your plan is, or how hard you work if you aren’t consistent with it.

15.)Dylan Poesch -Add weight to the bar

16.)Chris Leavy- Pilates
. JK, Be consistent and show up to do the work.


Matt Dustin -Track your progress, don’t guess and improvise as you go.

Dave Tate powerlifter strong
Photocredit: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-sydBs9Mo5l8/TdF8MyZ1qyI/AAAAAAAAArI/KGgpLd5GNYU/s400/dave-tate-pullup.jpg

18.)Mike Marino -Don’t overtrain! Allow your body adequate time to repair and recover! Sleep and Rest between bouts is vital to strength gains! That’s more than one sentence but it’s such a common mistake…. More training volume isn’t always best….. Smart training with focus on recover outside the gym is crucial


Joel Erickson-Something Johnny Ibar told me once – stress the negatives


Wade Carter- show up…

21.)Kedric Kwan-Focusing on your weakness. Most people don’t necessarily need to train their core but if your core is limiting your squat and deadlifts you need to train them. Same thing with the bench, and all the other lifts. Know your weakness and make them strong. site: http://kedrickwan.com


Greg Ohnoez- Consistency with your workouts with due intensity (just showing up doesn’t count)


Abbie Fratzke- Find a coach or mentor (in the gym or online) and learn as much as you can, experiment, play and try new things; never stop learning or experimenting.  Absolutely Strong


Daniel Freedman-Okay, you’ll see the badass cliches below.

Weakness is a Choice.

Get Strong.

Saw it on the back of a T-shirt. So it must be true.


Daniel Freedman-Don’t be a pussy.


Dave Dreas-Push the Weight!

27.)Daniel Freedman-Pain is weakness leaving the body.

29.) Daniel Freedman-No one ever drowned in sweat.


Patrick Umphrey-Use an appropriate training program that is designed to increase your strength through progressive loading.

Mike Campbell-Consistency, patience, intensity and simplicity. One sentence, 4 things.. http://unleashyouralpha.com/

Lara Lazaro-Strength, like all other worthwhile gainzzz in life, is born through cultivation; accept the process of getting stronger as just that, a process, that takes time, consistency, proper progression, and patience.
 www.laralazaro.com and/or Be Strong Savvy Sexy


Alison Wheatley-Grit your teeth, dig in ensure your form is correct and believe in yourself to make progress.

female powerlifter
Photo Credit: http://www.thesimplesongbird.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/bw-lifter.jpg

34.)Jimi Lanham-Get adequate rest.

35.) Marc-Jason Locquiao-Lift heavy, lift often.  Redline Conditioning


Amy Rubin Yunger-Warm- Up

37.)Vincent Allen-Never skip a Monday workout and focus on compound movements.


Genia Cheresh-Progressive overload, with built in deloads for advanced trainees.

39.) Josh Gibson-Have your plan worked out and work your plan. www.facebook.com/gibsonperformancetraining

40.)Tony Bonvechio-There are more ways to set PRs than just weight or reps, including (but not limited to) bar speed, improved form, reduced rating of perceived exertion and tougher tempo/increased time under tension. http://bonvecstrength.com/

41.)James Cerbie-At the end of the day, you have to lift heavy to get strong. http://rebel-performance.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/rebelperf


Sam Topping-High Intensity of effort

43.)The Bodyweight Files Use as advanced-BW strength training as possible for maximizing strength-to-BW ratio.

Lift heavy to build strength
Photo Credit http://undergroundstrengthmanual.com/images/arnold-squats.jpg

44.Kelly Clay– Squats, lunges, dead lifts are money!

45.)Nick Mckim- Stick to some sort of a program (obviously with a strength focus) and be consistent, it will pay off!


Joel McGrath-In my opinion i would have to say high intensity intervals is the best way i have gained strength the fastest


Nghi Tran combination of hypertrophy and strength workout routine sets. to build strength, I focus to deadlift, squat, and bench press. then do total body routine as well for muscles

 48.)Jonathan Lautermilch-I’ll take you up on this. My number one tip for strength gain is to increase your strength of managing your own body weight before looking to add more weight to manage. If you can’t handle doing a push up why look to want to bench your body weight or more? Just my opinion. my site is www.thinkyourself2health.com

There you go, there is no excuse to walk through life weak! Building strength is the most important thing you can do in the gym.

P.S. Shout out to my dude Mike Samuels of Healthylivinghealthyeating.com, I kind of completely borrowed this idea from him.

Have something to add? Drop me a comment and I’ll add you to the list!

Strong. Shredded. Athletic.


Build Massive Shoulders in 30 Minutes

bodyweight training, Expert Tips to Build Muscle

I’ve got some more awesome short workouts for you coming up, as I already published a quick workout to build up your arms here. These workouts are extremely effective when you find yourself in a time crunch.

Building strong and defined shoulders is a trademark of having a good physique. Having a good set of well developed shoulders will be visible in any article of clothing while also making the waist appear smaller. Double Whammy!

Broad shoulders in men will make you stand out in any room while improving posture. In women having broader shoulders will accentuate the hour-glass figure and make the waist appear smaller.

The exercises below will improve shoulder health, definition, size, and power.

Dumbbell 1 arm Push Press: Use the legs to give your typical overhead press some extra power. Accelerate the bar with as much force as you can generate and hold the lockout position on each rep (this will build shoulder stability). Performing the push press with 1-arm will also provide a challenge to your core (specifically obliques) to stabilize the torso with a weight being held overhead.


1.Perform 4 sets of 6-8 reps with 30 seconds of rest between arms

Bent Over Lateral Raise: To perform stand up with the feet shoulder width apart and a slight bend in the knee. Hinge over at the hips, creating a stretch in the hamstrings with your body at a 45 degree angle. With dumbbells in hand and the arms hanging down retract the shoulders and pull the dumbbells apart (reverse fly). Hold each dumbbell at the top of the movement to stop momentum and squeeze the shoulders together.

2a. Perform 2-3 sets of 12 repetitions, super-setting with exercise 2b with 0 rest.


2b. Perform 2-3 sets of 15 repetitions, super-setting with exercise 2a with 0 rest.

Dumbbell Standing Y Press: Hold dumbbells in a neutral grip position and press up and out to form a Y. This exercise greatly challenges the shoulders, upper back, and their respective stabilizers to support the weight overhead.

**video performed using pronated grip rather than neutral grip, either works

Overhead Javelin Press:  With a neutral grip hold a straight bar, or barbell if able in a neutral position as if you were throwing a javelin. Press the bar overhead and transfer the bar to your other hand, perform a press and transfer the bar back to the original hand. The javelin press will really burn the shoulders and stabilizing muscles while simultaneously challenging grip strength.

3. Perform 2 Sets of 6-8 repetitions on each arm, resting 45-60 seconds between sets.

There you have it, a quick workout to build health, ripped, shoulders in less time than it takes you to drive to the gym. Share me!

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

Is your Training in a Rut?

Have your workouts as of late been lackluster? Do you lack motivation in the gym, always sore, and not making progress?

I have a big secret……. and it will keep you healthier and making gains year in, year out.

Are you ready?

Take a week off. Don’t come in and lift, don’t run and do sprints, don’t do bodyweight work, and don’t go for a 20 mile bike ride because you feel guilty.More than likely you are in some state of overtraining and need more time to recover. Before you think I have lost my mind let me explain this.

(This only applies if you have at least a year of solid training under your belt and are in pretty decent shape)

You should know your way around the gym and be able to move some decent weight and or be proficient at whatever task you are training for. I already recommend taking a week or two every two-three months and back off of your training by lowering your volume, intensity or both. unfortunately  wrists, elbows, knees, backs, and shoulders will still ache and the same nagging injuries will be hanging around. Muscles typically heal faster than the joints, tendons, and ligaments because of superior blood flow. Therefore even when a muscle feels healed from the constant beating workouts provide the joints, tendons, ligaments, and even the nervous system are not healed and need more time away.

After athletic seasons it is common for athletes to take a few weeks, even a month or so completely off from working out and training. In some comes cases, especially with wrestlers I have trained and my experiences playing football, this time leaves you mentally and physically rejuvenated. It’s not uncommon to add a few pounds of lean muscle and have more energy as a result.

Going pedal to the metal non-stop will lead to more injuries. Take period times away, cycle intense workouts with low intensity workouts, and occasionally take some time completely off.

Taking time off can be extremely difficult advice to take, but it works. Next time you are in a rut take time off, avoid the gym, and use the extra time to relax and recover.

Get Outside to get in Shape!

Far and away the easiest part of working out for me tends to be resistance training. Conditioning, cardio, energy system work, or whatever you want to call it is often the one thing I never want to do. Not because it’s incredibly hard, but I get so bored by the thoughts of running on a machine for 30 minutes per day 3-5x per week which is so often recommended. This may work to an extent and even be fun for some people, but I prefer brief yet extremely challenging conditioning to get me in, out, and on with my life.

As the weather gets nicer take time to get off of the hamster wheel (aka treadmill) and get outside for some fresh air. Run stairs, run hills, go to a park and utilize the open space to sprint and perform bodyweight exercises. These activities are all liberating as you enjoy the sunshine, smells of spring, and fresh air. Near all-out activity accompanied by short rest periods will give an extremely difficult challenge for all your energy systems while giving you the benefits of increased growth hormone production which decreases as you age.

Benefits of Human Growth Hormone Include:

• increased protein synthesis

• increase fat burning

• tissue repair

• improved sexual performance

• improved bone density

• Improved sleep quality and increased energy

I could be wrong, but I tend to think these are things most people would love to improve on. Here are some simple examples of exercises to increase your GH while enjoying nature.

Hill Sprints:

Find a hill 40-80 meters long Perform 6-8 Sprints and walk back for a recovery


Sprint up the stairs touching each step 3x, jog back down

Sprint up the stairs touching every other step 3x, jog back down

Perform jumps on each step 3x, jog back down Rest 2-3 minutes and repeat if able

Bodyweight Exercises+Stairs:

Sprint up stairs touching every other stair, perform pushups to failure

Sprint up stairs touching every step perform 25 jump squats

Jump up the stairs and perform 20 burpee jumps Rest 2-3 minutes and Repeat

Other tools that work great for outdoor workouts include sleds, medicine balls, heavy bags, sandbags, logs, Vipr, and tires. Sprint, throw, jump, and carry heavy objects until you’re exhausted, don’t dilly dally on the hamster wheel until it tells you 400 calories have been burnt.

Take back fitness and enjoy being outside wherever you are! Leave your favorite outdoor workout below!

Copyright 2012 by Eric R Bach.  All rights reserved.  This material may not be duplicated or distributed without written consent from the author.

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