Archive for November, 2010
Twice now in the past few weeks, I’ve seen articles published online from some pretty big names in the S&C industry, detailing what their own workouts were like. One instance was just a sort of a snapshot (not a recommendation) of this guy’s training, and the other was more or less a breakdown of how he designs programs as a whole.
I wasn’t a fan of either one, really. Why? Listen to the podcast to find out, but to sum it up:
- the programs were way to involved and complicated
- virtually no sustainability
- pull one thing out of the programs as a whole (and I don’t mean just the workouts), and you lose massive amounts of effectiveness
- a complete and utter lack of training economy (or in other words, kiss your “bang for the training buck” ratio goodbye)
Give it a listen, and lemme know what you think. This whole podcast thing is new, so gimme your thoughts on that, too…
(And if you don’t have time to listen to the podcast now, feel free to download a copy for yourself HERE.)
Posted in Cardio, Circuit Training, Muscle Building, Podcasts, Strength Training | No Comments »
It’s pretty rare that I get a question that I’ve not seen or been asked before (or asked myself), so when I do, I get pretty pumped.
That’s what happened the other day. Tom H. from the UK shot me an email, asking me something that had I not really been asked before, but showed a lot of intelligence on his part…dude did some thinking.
I’m paraphrasing here, but the basic gist of Tom’s email goes like this:
Why are “pulling” movements usually considered just supplementary exercises or as assistance work? Tom goes on to describe how most “tested” (be it in powerlifting, Olympic lifting, or pretty much any other lifting competitions) movements are extension movements – not flexion.
Meaning that during the exertion portion of the movement, joints are being opened – not closed. For example, when exerting during a triceps movement, you do it while extending your arm straight, thus ‘opening’ the elbow. This would be an extension movement. On the other hand, during a biceps movement, you exert when bringing your hand to your shoulder, thus ‘closing’ the elbow. This would be a flexion movement.
So, the question begs – why aren’t flexion movements generally treated as ‘primary’ exercises, and why aren’t they tested in competitions?
There are a ton of possible answers to these questions, and quite honestly, most (none?) of them will be “right” or “wrong”. That said, here are my thoughts…
First of all, nobody ever said that you couldn’t make pulling movements a primary exercise instead of just accessory work. It all depends on what your training needs and what your goals are. Pulling is much more important than ‘pushing’ in combat sports (esp grappling), so anybody that participates in MMA, wrestling, BJJ, or the like would be smart to give pulling exercises primary focus (at least for a while) in their training. I know I did when I created the Championship Edition 2.0 MMA workout.
I feel one of the reasons why pulling movements generally aren’t done as primary exercises is that in many programs, primary exercises are concerned with improving strength (say building to a 5RM). When your training has this kinda focus, that work you do for that movement is going to have that focus. Or, in other words, you’re gonna be interested in always putting more weight on the bar.
With pulling movements, this isn’t always a good idea.
If you’re bench pressing, you either lift the weight or you don’t. Sure, you can cheat some by bouncing the weight off your chest. But when it comes to completing the rep, anything less than “lockout” isn’t a full lift.
Same kinda thing goes with the squat. Sure, you can not go down all the way, but to complete the lift, you’ve gotta lock the rep out.
Cheating or incomplete ROM aside, once you finally get to that point of the rep (and given proper exercise execution and ROM, it’s at the very beginning of the rep) that you’re testing strength, then it’s up to you to complete the rep. You can’t really cheat the weight up.
Now let’s look at a pulling movement like a bent row. Here, your strongest part of the movement (where the lifter is generally the strongest) isn’t at exercise completion – it’s when you start. (Yeah, I know this kinda thing varies from person to person and exercise to exercise. Just stick w/me for a minute.) You also won’t have a sticking point that if you “get through” it, you can complete the rep (like you might have with a bench press, squat, or the like). Once you stick on a bent row, that’s it – game over. You’re done.
As a result, it can lead to a lot of cheating when doing the exercise, and some pretty funky form. This is the same with all pulling movements.
When people cheat at ‘pushing’ exercises, it’s generally bouncing the bottom of the movement (bench, deadlift, turning a strict overhead press into a pushpress, etc) or cutting the ROM short (squat). Most of these exercises also have a sticking point as we just discussed.
However, when people cheat at ‘pulling’ movements, it’s generally using a bunch of swinging or body momentum. Think bent rows, DB rows, or barbell curls. And like we talked about before, there usually isn’t a sticking point in these movements.
When movements are tested in a competition – like a powerlifting meet, as long as proper ROM is maintained and other certain factors are met (e.g. – feet, ass, and shoulders stay put and don’t move in the bench press), nobody really gives a damn about form. If you get the weight gets lifted and the rep is completed, the lift is good. When going for a true max, many times form is kinda ugly, but that’s Ok. It’s a 1RM attempt – ugly form now and then is Ok (just don’t make it a regular thing) and getting through a sticking point can lead to that.
Imagine trying to do that with a pulling movement though – would never happen. To get more weight up, you’d have to cheat. And unless you bring something into play in order to maintain proper form (say leaning against a wall when doing curls), then it’s too hard to maintain that form.
Maintaining proper form when going for new maxes in pulling movements for less than 5-6 reps generally just results to lousy form. So why even mess with it? In my programs, when I’m doing heavy sets of pulling movements, there’s not really much need to go below 5-6 reps when looking to build strength.
Also, in my programs, because I always wanna make sure pulling and pushing movements are kept equal, though a pushing exercise might be deemed ‘primary’ and pulling exercise deemed ‘accessory’, the pulling movement will almost always have as much, if not more, volume than the primary movement, and generally, more of the volume will be done heavy when compared to the primary movement.
For example, say a program involves building up to a 3RM on the bench press, and after warming up, it takes you 8 sets (which would be a lot) to get there. You just did 24 total ‘work’ reps, with really only the last 2-3 sets being taxing. Then you might follow it up with heavy rows for 4 sets of 6-8 reps, which would be 24-32 total reps – and probably all sets would be taxing.
Just because pulling exercises aren’t always labeled as ‘primary’ doesn’t mean they get ‘secondary’ treatment. You just gotta make sure your program is designed correctly.
Tags: accessory exercise, flexion exercise, pulling movement
Posted in Muscle Building, Strength Training | 1 Comment »
So not long ago, I get an email from this guy, and he’s telling me that he’s got my Championship Edition 2.0 MMA workout programs, but they just don’t work for him.
Was kinda surprised, as most people rave about how kickass the workouts are, and the awesome gains they get.
But not this guy.
He tells me that while he likes the workouts, he’s an amateur fighter, and in trying to get all the experience he can (plus, being a sort of ‘throwback’ to the early days of MMA), he fights as often as he can – often just on a few days notice.
Good as the Championship Edition 2.0 is, it’s just too damn long. He can’t build up to being in shape to fight – he’s gotta be as close to ‘fighting shape’ as he can be all the time. He doesn’t have 3 months to get ready.
Then, two days later, I’m talking to a buddy of mine – a guy that has literally every single program I’ve ever put out. And he tells me that while he likes my programs, they just don’t work for him.
(Jeez…I’m getting this 2x in one week? WTF?)
His problem, he tells me, is “Workout ADD”. Or in other words, though he knows he shouldn’t, but with all the information and programs and stuff out there, he gets distracted *way* too easily, and never sticks to a program for more than a few weeks.
Like the fighter, he just can’t (or won’t) stick to a program for 90+ days like mine require. He wants something that he can focus on for a few weeks, and get done. Sort of a “get in and get out” kinda deal.
That’s when I decided I had to create something that was pretty much “excuse-proof”.
So, I put together Wiggy’s “4-Week MMA Blast”
–everything spelled out for you (workouts, exercises, sets, reps, etc…just add effort)
–uses “micro-periodization” (remember that recent blog post?) to cycle your strength work, power training, complexes, roadwork & sprints, “Singles & Doubles” work, “Power Complexes”, and more
–can be done in any gym (no fancy or special equipment required)
–progression to increase you work capacity
…plus a bunch of other cool stuff.
And you can get it all for a cool $17 =>CLICK HERE TO ORDER RIGHT NOW
You gotta know this kinda offer ain’t gonna be around forever. Come Friday night at midnight, the offer as it stands now goes away. Not quite sure how yet – either I strip some of the cool stuff away, the price goes up, or I just simply pull it down completely…
(…which is what my marketing mastermind buddies are telling me to do – bring it back next friggin’ year sometime…what is it with them wanting me to keep all my stuff to myself? sheesh…)
Either way, the deal goes away Friday night at midnight. So you’d better jump on it while you can.
Have an awesome week and I hope you enjoy the new workouts!
Train Hard, Rest Hard, Play Hard-
Matt “Wiggy” Wiggins
Tags: 4-week MMA blast, mma workouts
Posted in Cardio, MMA, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »
You know, almost everything gets sensationalized, exaggerated, and over-publicized these days. And unfortunately, very few things ever actually live up to the hype. We all know it’s true. How many times have we seen the latest song/movie/invention/doo-dad/workout/whatever get this amazing amount of build-up, only to find out that in real life, it actually sucks. (Or at best is just mediocre.)
Well, Netflix is NOT one of those things.
HOLY COW, I love Netflix. I’ve actually not been a subscriber for that long (yeah, sometimes I’m a little late on things, LOL), but DAMN I love having the ability to get as many DVDs sent to me as I can watch in a month, not to mention streaming them to my PS3.
I don’t watch a whole ton of TV, but aside from the few shows I do watch, most of the rest is generally Netflix.
Take the other day – I watched that Quentin Tarantino movie “Death Proof”. Now usually, I’m a big Tarantino fan, but “Death Proof” just didn’t “do it” for me. It was an Ok movie, but just kinda…meh.
Of course, all that didn’t mean a damn thing b/c of all the bitchin’ cars in it. (Many of y’all prolly know by now I’m kind of a car guy…lol.)
Though, there was one scene in the movie that I thought was kinda cool – the one where Stuntman Mike (Kurt Russell) is showing off his Nova, talking about how it’s “better than safe…it’s death-proof”.
Corny as it sounds, this is kinda the approach I like to take to when it comes to designing workouts – make somebody what I generally call “bulletproof”.
(Public service announcement – Wiggy does not endorse nor condone the use of an intimidating physique, outstanding levels of strength, power, or conditioning, or a badass muscle car to kill, maim, or otherwise incapacitate innocent victims. However, wowing unaware citizens and impressing that cute hottie that just moved in down the street is not only advocated, it’s highly encouraged. Thank you.)
If you’ve done any reading of my articles or blog and/or done any of my workouts, you know that I really like to be efficient, not spend a whole ton of time training, yet accomplish as much as possible, over a widespread array of physical qualities.
Again, like I’ve said before, it’s not about being ‘great’ or ‘elite’ at any one particular thing (unless, of course, you’re required or get paid to), but instead, being very good at everything.
(Kinda like a decathlete – he might not be able to throw as far as a thrower, jump as high or far as a jumper, or sprint as fast as a sprinter, but you can be for damn sure that he throws a ton further than a jumper, jumps a ton further and higher than a distance runner, sprints faster than a thrower, etc.)
However, being “bulletproof” isn’t just about being able to do a ton of different things really well. It’s about being able to do them pretty much whenever you want.
Now, this doesn’t mean just doing a program that utilizes concepts like conjugate or concurrent periodization, or what those Bulgarian-wannabe guys called “micro-periodization” (recently wrote a blog post about there HERE). It’s about being able to go from “0 to performing like a badass mofo” in almost nothing flat.
I’ve seen some pretty gnarly workout programs, and also seen some guys do some pretty gnarly athletic feats (be it in the weight room, field of play, or whatever). But here’s the thing – if you have to massively build up to that feat or event…yeah, it’s cool…and surely impressive as all hell…but it’s just not usable.
Personally, while seeing what the limits of human potential are is fascinating, I’m a lot more interested in developing capabilities that can be called upon at a moment’s notice, regardless of the situation.
Now, I am NOT saying that elements of a workout such as pre-workout GPP, dynamic warmup, range of motion work, etc aren’t important, nor should they be a part of your overall program – b/c they should.
BUT, if you have to go through all these things in order to perform at your physical peak…then what good is it?
Strength & conditioning coach John Davies (known as “The Renegade”) has spoken more times than I can count of the ability to “roll out of bed and be able to clean 300 lbs”. This means that your body is in a constant state of readiness – that you’ve conditioned yourself to the point that you can handle almost anything at anytime.
Something else I see more and more of in the fitness industry are all these insane recovery methods, be it special kinds of massage, ice baths, specifically timed contrasting showers, intense supplementation rituals, etc. If you need all these things to be able to train and perform at a certain level…are you really at that level?
Now please people, do not lose the message I’m trying to convey in the details. I’m **NOT** saying that things like a proper warmup, flexibility work, good diet, getting enough sleep and recovery, etc aren’t important. THEY ARE IMPORTANT.
What I am trying to say, though, is that if you need all these things just in order to train or maintain your current level of (insert physical quality here), then unless you’re an ultra-elite level anything, then I just gotta question if what you’re doing is really that beneficial. Somebody in that situation is supposed to be the best, but in many ways, if you stop to think about, they’re a lot more fragile.
Personally, I like to think of my training as not being in such a fine balance that one slight thing can totally throw the whole system out of whack. I mean, what if you have to skip an ice bath for a day? Or you run out of one of your supplements? Or your masseuse goes out of town for a week on vacation during Thanksgiving or Christmas?
Then what do you do? Are you “bulletproof” enough to be able to keep on keeping on, or is your entire training and physical development and performance system about to be thrown off its delicate balance and be totally skewed?
Can you train hard all week, have a few beers on Friday night (like I generally like to do), take part – or all – of the weekend off, then hit it hard again on Monday without having lost a step? What if, for whatever reason, you get a lousy night’s sleep for a few days in a row. Can you still keep on training hard?
If the unthinkable actually happens, and you have to survive the dreaded Zombiepocalypse, will you be able to still be that physical badass, all while dodging the undead, eating stockpiled MREs, getting little sleep, keeping on the run?
(Ok, that last situation might be a *tad* melodramatic…LOL. But you get what I mean…
In the end, my question to you comes down to this – training, in my mind, should be designed to allow you to dramatically outperform the person you once were, and turn you into somebody you hope to be. When push comes to shove, it doesn’t matter the scenario or situation, you need to be able to perform and just flat out get the job done. No excuses. No ‘woulda, shoulda, coulda’. No failure. Just results.
Can you…could you…perform in an impressive fashion if you were forced to deal with and endure less than ideal circumstances?
If you can…IMO…that’s being “bulletproof”.
Have a great rest of the weekend.
Tags: bulletproof, death proof, decathlete, tarantino
Posted in Cardio, Character/Motivation, Muscle Building, Strength Training | No Comments »
With the growth of my businesses, websites, and blogs in recent years, I know there are a number of y’all that have only come to start reading my articles, posts, newsletters, and such fairly recently (like as in the past couple years or so). Many of y’all might not know that I actually put out my first training manual back way back in 2003.
Geared toward MMA, it was called “Singles & Doubles”. The original book was originally written with sandbag training in mind, but the driving force behind the program was using a lot of sets of just one or two reps (hence the “Singles & Doubles” name) while reducing rest periods over time.
I had a few articles published around the intranetz at the time, one of which at the T-Nation site (or T-Muscle or Testosterone.net or whatever they hell they’re calling themselves right now). The article was called “Staying Power” and I’ve re-printed the article over at my site.
If you’ve never seen my old “Singles & Doubles” style of training, go check the article out:
It’s a pretty cool method of training that can lead to some pretty awesome work capacity gains with near maximal weights. I think alot of y’all will like it.
HOWEVER, I will advise you – don’t use this S&D protocol for either you entire training program, or if you do, not for an extended period of time. While it can build some pretty kickass capacity with near maximal weights, and even though you are resting very minimal, because you’re never doing more than two reps at a time, if you do only this style of training for too long, you shoot your muscular endurance straight in the ass.
(I had to learn this the hard way after training like this for a good 1.5+ years, only to come back to more medium to high rep training, only to realize my muscular endurance would crap out – even with fairly light weights – in as few as six reps. So don’t let this happen to you…)
=>CLICK HERE to give the article a read – I think y’all will like it.
Oh and watch out in the coming days…I’ll be revealing a method (actually, a MMA-specific workout) that utilizes this style of training as a part of an overall program. It’s pretty kickass. But all in good time…
Tags: mma workout, singles and doubles, t-nation.com
Posted in MMA, Strength Training | 1 Comment »