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High performance training

Four Tips to Implement Maximize Athletic Power Training

Key Points:

Relative Strength is the secret sauce that allows you to run faster, move quicker, and jump higher

-Absolute strength and relative strength are both vital to athletes, but more attention must be paid to relative strength for athletes.

– Strength is a key component for athletic success, but of one of many components.

-Further increasing strength levels may reach a point of diminishing returns in athletic performance if the pursuit of strength is overemphasized other components of sport.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret that most magazines and the industry don’t want you to hear.

Absolute strength gets all the glory, but relative strength for athletes reigns king, especially to maximize athletic power training. Being big and strong alone isn’t enough for performance, you must be relatively stronger than your opponents to hold a competitive advantage.

Wait…What?


“I thought being super strong was a cure-all?”

Absolute strength is very important for force output, but improving relative strength is the oh-so secret sauce to maximize athletic power training, allowing you to run faster, move quicker, and jump higher.

All else being equal, the athlete with the higher relative strength has the competitive advantage as an athlete.

That’s one of the main reasons athletes don’t train exactly like powerlifters, and a reason powerlifters don’t train exactly like athletes.

They require different skills; have individual needs, and limited resources to train. Plain and simple, your body makes specific adaptations to the imposed demands or the SAID principle.

To be honest, not everyone needs to be jacked out of their minds and squat 350+ pounds to be a better athlete. Those guys are a dime a dozen– just by following progressive overload, cramming food down your gullet, and sleeping enough you’ll get big and strong.

On the contrary, witnessing smaller guys performing insane feats of strength during sports are few and far between Think 5’8″ Nate Robinson throwing down Tomahawk dunks or 5’6” Darren Sproles juking, sprinting, and running through opponents. When it comes to movement-based athletes relative strength reigns king.

As a coach who works with athletes on both sides of the spectrum, I’m fortunate to have an improved perspective on what my athletes need to emphasize to maximize training and carryover into sports.

By exclusively focusing on adding plates to the bar athletes reach a point of diminishing returns if it causes the un-necessary allocation of training and recovery resources.

Stop Taking Every Strength Building Article as the End all Be All

I want to be crystal clear–absolute strength is essential for athletes. To be relatively strong you must have a base of absolute strength.

Relative strength= absolute strength/bodyweight 

But, contrary to what most articles say absolute strength isn’t the end all be all–you must be relatively stronger than your competitors to gain a distinct advantage in sports that require movement or have weight restrictions. I love lifting heavy as much as anyone, but there is a point when “strong” is strong enough and the risks of pursuing further strength enhancement outweigh the rewards of a new personal record.

 Take the following example:

Ben Johnson, juiced or not juiced, was an absolute beast on the track and in the gym. With a 600lb+ squats at 170-180lbs he was absolutely stronger and relatively stronger than his competition, but would training to improve his squat as the primary mode of training improve his performance if other training suffers and he potentially gains weight to accommodate his training?

Let’s say his squat is emphasized and bodyweight also increases by ten pounds.

Here are hypothetical numbers:

625lbs squat at 175lbs= 3.57x/bw

650 lbs squat at 185lbs= 3.51x/bw

Or a More practical Example:

405lb squat at 200 lbs. = 2.025 x/bw

425 lb squat at 225 lbs = 1.89 x/bw

In both cases, being stronger in an absolute sense doesn’t improve relative strength, which is the secret sauce to master movement. This difference might seem minor, but if the additional weight results in being a step slower, or losing the ability to decelerate the body is the athlete better? No, they’re less explosive and probably more prone to non-contact injury.

Relative Strength for Athletes 

There are many factors to consider when programming for athletes, 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?

No, 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.

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Want to Get Ripped and Optimize Performance❓ [Bookmark for workout below] — Maybe I’m strange here…but I like the idea of building a body that’s just as athletic as it is “aesthetic.” When you improve performance, you tend to function better in every area of life from the gym to your job💰. — Do you feel the same way…like you want a body both looks great 🤩and performs well and the confidence and BELIEF in yourself that comes with it? — If so, you’ll love these types of workouts: — Here’s a sample day built around the hinge/deadlift movement pattern. 1. Broad Jump 3×5 (explosive exercise 2. Deadlift 5×3-5 (strength movement) 3. Barbell RDL 3×12,10,8 (hypertrophy focus, use 3-4 second eccentric) 4a. TRX Inverted Row 4×10 4b. TRX Face Pull 4×12 4c. Alternating Dumbbell Curl 4×12 — This program is best for the athletic generalist who want to zap some fat and gain strength at the same time. — Should you want to build more muscle, dial back the volume on heavy strength work and add in more muscle-building volume.💪🏼 — If you want to develop more athleticism and power, increase your explosive movements and dial back strength work and hypertrophy work. — The options are endless as long as you adjust volume and intensity accordingly: if the volume in one area increases, adjustments in other areas must be altered to allow adequate recovery. — ⬇️If you know someone who wants to get athletic and ripped without living in the gym, send them here⬇️ . . #newyorkcityphotos #athleticaesthetic #physiquetraining #athleticbodybuilding #lookgoodnaked #tnation #throwback #jump #jumptraining #explosiveness #fitnessculture #onlinepersonaltraining #bachperformance #deadliftworkout

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How to Gain Strength without Size:

Strength builds a foundation that improves the ability to train all other qualities—speed, power, agility, and endurance are all improved with increased strength. Although it’s impossible to make only neurological gains or muscular gains with training, emphasizing certain factors will maximize relative strength without un-necessary gains in bodyweight.

Lift Heavy Weights

Lifting- moderate to heavy loads (80%+ 1-RM) will stimulate high-threshold fast-twitch muscle fibers and improve muscle fiber recruitment. Most initial gains in strength training occur as a result of neural adaptations due to increased muscle fiber recruitment and increased rate coding/firing frequency.

Heavy loads will stimulate gains, but in the absence of high significant volume most will result in myofibrillar hypertrophy—actively strengthening the muscle fiber itself. Essentially, lifting heavy the majority of the time will always get you stronger, but not necessarily much bigger. Ensure the exercise selection fits the needs of your athletes and risk to common injury sites is minimized.

 

Bottom Line: Heavy strength training is ideal for improving relative strength, but the exercise selection should match the needs of the sport while minimizing risk to common injury sites. Hoisting heavy weights is still necessary.

Train With Lower Volume

Train high-intensity, but decrease the volume to prevent unnecessary hypertrophy. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is growth triggered by higher volume, more metabolic training and increases the storage of non-contractile cell fluid. Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy isn’t itself is non-function, but excessive amounts of hypertrophy are more beneficial to stretching your shirtsleeves than maximizing performance.

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Figured I’d use the 7️⃣ pounds I gained yesterday to crush some deadlifts this morning, working up to triples at 405. This got me thinking… — Don’t waste your time dieting during the holidays. The deck is stacked against you, you’ll beat yourself up mentally about a lack of progress, and the anxiety of it all will prevent you from enjoying what SHOULD be a special time of year. — Instead, use this as a time to build metabolism boosting muscle. — Here’s why: ➡️Building Muscle Boosts Your Metabolism: If you have more lean muscle, you’ll be able to burn more calories while your laid up on the couch after a turkey and stuffing induced coma. Over time, these small improves make a HUGE difference in metabolic health and your ability to lose fat. — ➡️Building Muscle Gives you a Dietary “Buffer”: Have you seen someone who’s in great shape devour three plates of food and wonder, “How can they eat THAT and still look great?” Building muscle is a cheat code of sorts as it allows you to store more “fuel” in your muscles as glycogen rather than depositing the extra piece of pumpkin 🥧 on your belly. — Besides…What’s the point of all this work if you can’t kick back and enjoy yourself? . . . #thanksgiving #blackfriday #athleticbody #lookgoodnaked #deadlift #deadliftday #backday #buildmuscleburnfat #holidayworkout #menshealth #mensfitness #caffeineandkilos #mackweldon

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Bottom line: Yeah, the occasional pump is okay, but there’s no need train like a bodybuilder if your goals are improved relative strength and performance. Limit your training volume and emphasize intensity to maximize strength gains with additional hypertrophy.

Incorporate Explosive Exercises

Most barbell, dumbbell, and bodyweight exercises can be performed in an explosive manor, but the best are the Olympic lifts, throws, and jumps. Throws and jumps are great for nervous system activation, pure speed work, and improving overall athleticism directly after a warm-up.

Olympic lifts are staples in most resistance training programs unless the performance risks to important body parts for sport performance. Few exercises are as demanding as cleans, split jerks and snatches—performing these along will make workouts more efficient and decrease the training volume needed for performance gains.

 

Bottom Line: Sprint, throw, jump, and lift explosively to maximize nervous system efficiency in your workouts. By hoisting weights with max speed you’ll activate more muscle fibers and in-turn, become relatively stronger and more explosive. BOOOYAH.

Increase Rest Periods

Longer rest periods will allow better quality reps, higher training loads, better neural recovery, and decrease the acidic muscular environment. If you’re incorporating heavy and explosive exercises you want to perform them with technical proficiency to increase performance, not mega-setted with a handful of other exercises. Creating a metabolic and acidic environment is also conducive to building muscle—something you’re looking to avoid if you want to maximize relative strength over hypertrophy.

Plyo Push Up

Rack Clean

Bottom Line: Keep most weight training heavy and explosive with full recovery rather than being metabolically demanding. You’ll improve technique and maximize performance rather than gasp for air while peeling your sweaty carcass out of the squat rack.

What This Means for You:
Whether you’re a coaching practitioner, an athlete, or an iron junky it’s important to have perspective on what different goals entail. If you’re looking to improve strength and not necessarily gain muscle or bodyweight then these recommendations are right up your alley.

Not every one of these factors needs to be implemented immediately nor year-round, but they should serve as a great reminder on how constant heavy lifting, training volume, lifting speed, rest periods, and dietary choices all fit into the big picture of getting more explosive.

The Wrap Up

Quality strength training is one of the fastest ways to improve performance, but don’t be obsessed with huge absolute strength numbers as the end-all-be-all in performance.

Relative Strength is the secret sauce that allows you to run faster, move quicker, and jump higher. Every aspect of training is a tool in the performance toolbox– focus on the variables that fill needs of each athlete rather than blindly attaching absolute strength as the holy grail of performance.

photo credit: Keith Allison via photopin cc

Are you looking for a comprehensive, simple to follow workout to combine all the training variables covered in this article? Grab your copy of the Power Primer by clicking the image below:

One Simple Habit To Guarantee Fitness Success

One Simple Habit To Guarantee Fitness Success

One Simple Habit To Guarantee Fitness Success
First, the sad truth: conventional ideas about so-called fitness motivation suck.

You can’t count on “wisdom” that belongs in fortune cookies. Nor can you count on hardass sayings that belong on t-shirts.

Neither will get your butt out of bed and into the gym at 6:00 AM on those cold winter mornings.

The truth is a much simpler and vastly more effective:
Set a training schedule and stick to it.

It’s the best way to lock inconsistency with your diet in the training and make better progress. Which brings us to…..

The Day I Met Arnold Schwarzenegger

Well, almost. I didn’t actually meet Arnold Schwarzenegger.

There I was sitting in a cafe in Venice, California with my wife and Jay Ferruggia. And then… there was Arnold. In the flesh! I gasped, did some weird shaking thing with my hands, and lost my shit like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

But it wasn’t just the fact that I saw Arnold. It’s what he was doing.

He was exercising. Riding a bike, actually. With a full boot on his leg.

Think about that for a second. Yes, it was Arnold Schwarzenegger, arguably the most influential figure in the history of fitness.

But he’s still a 70-year old man crushing exercise after an obvious injury or surgery. For all I know, he could have broken his foot delivering a face kick to the predator and saved us all from impending doom.

But that wasn’t it.

Two fellow trainers in town for the same event also saw Arnold the day before and day after. Guess what he was doing? Training at Gold’s gym.

Arnold had every excuse to not be motivated and skip training. His leg was jacked. He’s probably insanely busy. His joints likely ache and pain from decades of extreme training. But at the end of the day, these are all excuses.

And excuses are the result of relying on motivation; rather than habits, to drive action. All of which leads me to say…

Fuck motivation.

It’s only temporary. You don’t need it. You need habits. And one habit in particular: a regular workout schedule, like my client John.

John’s Story

John is 35 years old and single. John made a lot of money in his business and cashed out. He can do pretty much whatever he wants pretty much whenever he wants. All day, every day.

But John is 70 pounds overweight. He’s frustrated and overwhelmed by information overload and his inability to stay consistently motivated.

He’s sick of feeling embarrassed to take his shirt off on his boat (#firstworldproblems) and hates the way his clothes fit.

Still, when John is motivated to train he’s strong and focused…for about a month at a time. He loses weight, his clothes fit better, and he starts going on dates again.

Then, all hell breaks loose. He relies on motivation and starts training at consistent times. Soon, 3:00 pm becomes 4:00 pm. Then, it’s 4:30 pm..then he cancels.

His diet falls off and he’s back to crushing fast food because it’s convenient. The “lack of motivation” leads him astray to the vaunted negative feedback loop and he adds the same 5-10 pounds back time and time again.

Does John sound familiar?

Chances are, yeah. Either you or someone you know has the same struggle. Motivation crumbles and program hopping sets in. One Dorito leads to the whole bag. Soon, you’re ordering Dominos and falling into the same old trap of…

* frustration
* no results
* wasted cash on over-hyped up supplements, and “lose ten pounds by yesterday” schemes

The Real Answer

So what’s the solution? Sure, giving tough love and saying “suck it up, buttercup” sounds great in theory. But it doesn’t always work in practice. Most times it doesn’t.

So, what is the one thing that really helps people stick to their fitness routine, get stronger and look better naked?

Setting a rigid schedule and sticking to it. With consequences.

And no, I’m not talking about punishment burpees. I’m talking cold hard cash. Read on…

If you’re here, you’re probably in the minority of folks who enjoy exercise. But we both know it’s never enjoyable to do anything you don’t like, whether it’s suffering through another episode of Lost, working a job you hate or eating a bland diet of rubbery chicken and broccoli.

Instead of wondering….

“Will I be motivated to lift after a work and sitting in traffic?”
“Can I really stick to workouts before work?”
“Do I have enough time to exercise today?”

We need discipline to drive action, not motivation.

How To Make It Work

We need to set rigid guidelines to clarify action and purpose in today’s work. Currently, we all have too many choices throughout our day. As pointed out in the Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, our plethora of options isn’t doing us any favors physically or psychologically.

“Autonomy and freedom of choice are critical to our wellbeing, and choice is critical to freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, though modern Americans have more choice than any group of people ever has before, and thus, presumably, more freedom and autonomy, we don’t seem to be benefiting from it psychologically.”
— The Paradox of Choice, 2004

Basically, we have so many choices we have no idea what to do with ourselves. This leads us to piss our time away on social media and snapchatting “date night” instead of being present.

We focus on tasks that are neither associated with our goals or have any positive impact on our lives.

They’re just empty entertainment at the cost of your goals. With this in mind, I propose an idea have a directive to get you back on track to building your best body.

Plan exercise, so action is no longer a choice.

It’s not an option “when it’s convenient,” because that time will never come. There is no perfect time. It’s time to stop relying on emotion.

Do you want to know who relies on emotion? Dogs.

And as much as I love dogs, their emotions dictate they’ll eventually shit on the floor. Or pee on your comforter.

Even the guy below.

Your ability to set a schedule and make decisions based on their benefit, rather than your raw emotion separates you as a human from an animal. It also separates who build the high-performance body they want from those who don’t.

The choice is yours. Are you ready to take the next step?

Then set a schedule and stick to it.

Back To John and Arnold

This is what John and I agreed to. No longer would “fun” plans or an unplanned moving knock him off his plan to workout. No, it wasn’t fun to get up at 5:30 AM and be to the gym by 7:00 AM when he could have slept in. But it didn’t matter. It got the job done.

Thinking back to Arnold, there’s no denying he’s blessed with incredible grit and genetics to be in great shape. But he has the determination to set habits and make training a priority in his day.

It’s not a choice. It’s a planned event in his day to improve his health so he can stay jacked enjoy life to the fullest.

There’s no need for motivation if you set habits and get it done.

There is no hoping for time to train if you make the time.

Schedule workouts like any other meeting or event. Organize your life and responsibilities around them.

True emergencies can prevent you from training. Such is life. But you can still make progress by using 1% of your day, a measly 15 minutes, to workout.

It’s okay to dial back your training or trim a workout to a fifteen-minute bodyweight circuit. But it’s not okay to completely stop training for weeks or months on end. When you remove choices, you’re only left with the option to take action and succeed.

My Challenge to You

Set a schedule for working out. I recommend getting up earlier and doing it before the inevitable “panic emails” or emergencies of the day occur. Pick when, where, and how you’re going to train.

Take out $150 in cash in $5 denominations. Grab two envelopes, one labeled “hits,” and the other labeled “misses.” Tell someone you need their help to keep you accountable this month.

Hits: Plan a night out 30 days from now or a purchase that costs $150. Start with all your money in the “hits” envelope.

Misses: Think of a cause or charity you hate. Politics seem to have everyone’s panties in a bunch, so pick a politician you despise.

What to do: Every time you miss a workout, take five bucks from your “hits” envelope and put it into your misses. At the end of the month, send your hard earned cash to your misses.

Why this Works: Loss aversion is the powerful tendency of people to avoid loss. It’s twice as powerful as acquiring gains.

What Will Happen?

If you step up to the plate and own it you’ll lose fat, build strength/ muscle, and achieve any other goal you set your sights on. Plus, you’ll “find” $150 to spend on something you enjoy. Score.

If you swing…and miss? That’s okay. We all fuck up, but you still need to put $5 into the “misses” envelope. Use screw-ups as a reason to get back on track. Pick yourself up and make the next best decision…or fund something you despise.

But if you stay in the dugout and skip workouts? You’ll stay the same…searching for the magic cure and fall into the same vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting and program hopping. Plus you’ll waste $150, which really sucks.

We all have choices. Be like Arnold. Stop treating exercise as an option;. Make it an event.

Your ability to set a schedule and limit decisions preserves your ability to make the right decisions for the goals you really want to achieve.

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Are you ready to step up to the plate?

Then all you need is an expert plan, the accountability to see it through, and the consistency to take action.

But will you?
Further, if you were going to take action…wouldn’t you have done it already? 

All great transformations take the right customized plan and hard work. But working with an expert coach accelerates your progress by giving you elite knowledge, motivation, and the accountability to build your best body.

Those are what’s missing, and I can supply them to help you build your best body. 

I’ve recently opened new spots in my elite online training program and want to personally invite you to join the elite and build your best body. Why me? While it’s “cool” and a stamp on my ego to tell you I’ve helped hundreds of people transform their lives, worked with everyone from busy men and women to elite athletes and published content read by millions on every website from CNN to T-Nation…

my real passion is helping busy people like John retake their bodies, build muscle, lost fat, and build a body that looks as well as it performs. 

If you have a spring-break to get ready for, a New Year’s resolution to crush once and for all, or just a strong desire to transform your body, retake your health, and optimize your life then I want to help you.

No one builds their best body alone. I know I haven’t. So let’s do this together. Believe in yourself, put your faith in me, and apply for the program. Spots are competitive, but if you’re a good fit for the program, we’ll get after it and transform your life.

You’ll transform your body.

You’ll get strong AF.

You’ll simplify your training and diet.

You’ll look better naked.

 Let’s do this together.

 

====> Apply Today ⇐===

 

 

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

hormones

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.

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-like dude who dominated every sport and got the hottest chicks in school. 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 body lost cabin pressure, with my wind being ripped out of my lungs. I’d taken a punch to the gut before, but this felt like a body shot from Connor McGregor and I crumbled to the turf like a ragdoll.

 I felt weak.
I felt pathetic.
I felt worthless.

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 working out?

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 building strength, muscle, and confidence. To forge a body and will harder than iron. To build a body that improved my life, rather than consumed it. 

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

Helping busy men and athletes alike get strong, lean, and powerful became my obsession.

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 “cardio.” 

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 drunk baby giraffe.

Bewildered by my lack of coordination, I lost focused and stumbled over my own feet.

What the heck 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 side 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 wrench the same way it does after Montezuma’s revenge, without the aftermath. 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 being strong, healthy, and athletic?

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, athletic and most of all, have a body that improves their life.

Today, more than ever, many of us are weak. Many kids drop out of sports by age 12.

Overprotective parents don’t help and participation trophies don’t help.

Neither do sedentary desk jobs.

And despite the increasing popularity of fitness, actual sports and athleticism are quickly going down the shitter, as is our health and worst of all, our confidence.

The result?
We’re fatty, weaker, and in worse health than ever before. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 36% of the U.S. population is obese, and 70% are overweight, increasing the risk for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes.

Physically, men today are 17% weaker than their fathers one generation earlier when looking at grip strength.

Physiologically speaking, research has shown an average drop in testosterone levels of 22%  since 1987; meaning the hormone that determines the male gender is a fraction of what it used to be.

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. Most of all, you deserve the confidence to stand in front of the mirror, at the beach, in front of your friends and colleagues and be proud of your body. 

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, lean, and athletic body.

I’ve handcrafted the perfect workout to take your physique to the next level without beating up your joints or forcing you to do soul-sucking cardio.

You can check it out here.

Here’s a sneak-peek of the top five exercises to build strength, explosive power, and the ultimate athletic physique.

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.

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

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 lose fat 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

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 body fat, 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 elliptical 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.

It’s time to maximize your training by unleashing 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 know 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 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 to say that sprinting during the summer is the best training method accelerate fat loss and improve your athleticism. And do your best Rocky and Apollo reenactment before the most famous bro-hug of all time.

https://youtu.be/Ylv89_oCCjE

As an added bonus, sprinting works as a check-and-balance system during bulking phases. 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 be 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

Tweet This workout

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 athleticism and preserve muscle. Just as important, sprinting torches unwanted body fat 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 post activation 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 Facebook community to help you do just that. Join the Minimalist Muscle Community for my best free training and nutrition tips.

Join us here.

 

Three Problems with Your Bent Over Row

underhand row

There is no question: the barbell bent over row is one of the best exercises you can do to build thick slabs of muscle to support every strength movement and build a powerful, head turning body.

In fact, from a pure benefit driven perspective, I’d argue the barbell bent over row should be a staple in nearly every program whether you’re trying to build muscle, lose fat, and look good naked or hoist a huge deadlift.

Taking this a step further, the barbell bent over row requires you to perform a hip hinge and isometrically hold position. This builds incredible strength and resiliency through your core stabilizers to build an injury resistant midsection and of course, brutal strength on hip hinge patterns like deadlifts.

As you can see, the starting position for a barbell bent over row matches the body position required to perform deadlifts with optimal form. 

More directly, barbell bent over rows build incredible strength and muscle through your posterior chain. Barbell rows specifically hammer your lats, those funny-lookin’ wings under your arms that give you the vaunted v-tapered physique.

When it comes to training your lats, they’re a different animal. Rather than a completely horizontal or completely vertical muscle fiber orientation, these goofy lil muscle fibers are oriented diagonally, making both vertical (think chin ups) and horizontal pulling (rows) exercises necessary for you to maximize the thickness and size of your back. Thus, if you want a back that’s big and strong enough to block out the sun, you gotta row if you want to grow. 

 

Secondarily, barbell bent over rows will hammer your rear delts, traps, rhomboids, and to a lesser extent, your forearms and biceps.

Surely with all these benefits there’s no doubt you should row, right?

Well, similiar to an akward rehearsal dinner there’s always an elehpant in the room when it comes to exercise selection. For barbell rows, it’s how to do them properly to maximize gains while simultanously preventing you from rowing like a hunchback and jacking up your spine.

But when it comes to bent over rows there is an elephant in the room: how to do them properly to maxmize your gains while minimizing your chance of injury. 

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…

is to create a physiological response to lose fat, build muscle, and improve performance…not make yourself miserable. 

In the case of the barbell bent over rows, a premium is placed on holding body position to get strong through the trunk while challenging your hamstrings, glutes, spinal errectors, and core to hold position and build brutal strength in the hip hinge position.  lats, rhomboids, spinal errectorshammering your 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. Well, it’s time to whip your row into shape and fix three problems with your bent over row to help you minimize your risk of injury and maximize your gains.

Potential Issues with the Row

Rounding Your Lower Back:

 

Lifters with flexion based back injuries may struggle to hold a flat-back 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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