Archive for March, 2010

Kroc Rows – Part 1

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Since noticing a strong correlation between deadlift performance and Strongman results I’ve been working hard on pushing my deadlift up.  I’m going to do a longer article on my current 6 week training cycle after I finish up in a couple of weeks and can assess it’s effectiveness but in the mean time here is a sneak peak of one technique I’m using.

While a lot of your improvements in deadlift strength are going to come from deadlifting (well DUH!) there are a number of accessory exercises that can help attack weaknesses in the deadlift and as part of my current program I’ve been using few different things and thought I’d share them with you.

Kroc rows are a great exercise for strengthening your upper back to improve the deadlift lockout, they are also good for balancing out heavy bench pressing and for adding mass and explosive power to your back.  They are named after top powerlifter Matt Kroczaleski and are basically a one arm dumbell row performed with a heavy weight for as many reps as you can with fairly loose form.

For a complete demo here is Matt doing a set of 25 each side with just over 100kg.

Now I’m nowhere near Matt’s size or strength but I’ve worked up to sets of 25 with the heaviest Dumbells at the gym (50kg) and so to progress this movement I decided to get some custom dumbell handles made up.

I called up Mark Roskell from Toronto Barbell and in a couple of weeks he had made me these bad boys which I have christened “Kroc Bells”

With a loading capacity of over 100kg each hand they should keep me busy until I have reached Kroc like levels of strength!

Stay tuned for video in part 2!

Sports Supplements

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Different supplements have got different effects but in general if you are training as hard as you possibly can you are going to want to take something even if it’s just a multivitamin.

The reality is that most people don’t train hard enough to justify the supplements they are on but they can be very useful.

Before taking any supplements you need to understand which level of training you are at and then get the appropriate stuff. You also need to make sure your basics are squared away. If your diet is crap, you don’t get enough sleep or your training program is rubbish no amount of expensive powders will make you big and strong.

So here is a guide for three basic levels of training, keep in mind that these are cumulative which means that people at the advanced/competitive level need to take everything from the levels below as well.

Before you think about supplementation check the following

1. Are you eating 3 solid meals a day + 2 – 3 snacks each containing some protein, carbs and good fats

2. Are you training at least 4 days a week with a focus on the big basics like deadlifts, squats, bench press, chinups and military press.

3. Are you getting 7- 9 hours of sleep a night.

If the answer to any of these is a no then spending big bucks on supplements is going to be a waste of time.

Level 1 – Beginners

During the first 6 months to 1 year of serious training it’s unlikely that you’ll need much more than lots of food and some hard training to make gains.

Supplements at this level are restricted to stuff that’s cheap and highly effective.

Multivitamin – Train hard and chances are that you’ll be working your bodies vitamin and mineral stores a bit harder than the average couch potato. While you may be getting enough from your diet a multivitamin is good insurance and costs bugger all.

Protein – Plain Whey Protein Concentrate mixed with whole milk 2-3 times a day. No need for fancy pants stuff that’s been bioengineered to death.

Fish oil – 3 – 6 caps a day for general heart, brain and joint health. Start now and never stop taking it.

Sports drinks – Gatorade or similar during hard training to replace electrolytes and provide energy. Avoid if your goal is fat loss.


Developing a Professional Attitude

Monday, March 22nd, 2010

Developing a professional attitude

For most people training is something they do to keep in shape and stay healthy.

While many people WISH they could perform at the level of the elite athletes they see on TV the reality is that only a handful will transition from “working out” to training seriously for a competitive sport.

In my mind if you want to work out for health or whatever that’s fine, just don’t come complaining to me if you don’t look or perform like an Olympic medallist or pro footballer.  These guys and girls are (mostly) as good as they are for one big reason.

The reason is pretty straight forward.  Whether or not employed full time to train these athletes are professionals and their training is structured in a professional manner.

Before I go any further one quick caveat.  The main thrust of this article is on developing the attitude of a professional athlete toward your training.  Now there are certainly examples of paid professional athletes that act far from professional, drinking, taking drugs and partying etc but mostly they are in the minority and only get away with that crap because they have put the hard work in years before and are genetic freaks.

So, let’s assume that you are currently a pretty hard core fitness enthusiast who trains at least 3-4 times a week and who pushes most of your workouts pretty hard. You may already compete in a sport or martial art or you may be thinking about competing in the near future.

To get the best results in a competitive sport you are going to need to adjust your current training program and attitude.  I suggest you take a page out of the training diaries of the true professionals and adopt some of the following strategies.

Strategy #1 – Decide what you want to be good at

A lot of gym goers want it all.  They want power lifter strength, marathon runner endurance and underwear model abs.  Bad news for anyone like this, you are deluding yourself.  To develop the attitude and training of a true professional athlete you need to decide upon a very narrow set of goals and then pursue them to the exclusion of all others.  As a simple example if you are going to focus on maximal strength training you can’t worry too much about how you look, on the other hand if you are training for a bodybuilding comp you can’t expect to have the strength of a powerlifter.  Pusuing too many fitness goals at the same time is a recipe for becoming averagely good at all of them and competitive at none.


So You Want to be a Strongman (or Woman!)

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Strongman – No longer a sport just for fat bastards!

Right off the bat so that I don’t lose anyone I want to make it very clear that the sport of Strongman in Australia in 2010 is massively different to previous years.

Before you start thinking “I’m too small for Strongman” just hold on a second.

Certainly in previous years Strongman competitions were the exclusive domain of a bunch of 6’4”, 140kg + Vikings who spent all day lifting stones, dragging planes with their teeth and then retired to their long halls to eat entire cows and plan their next session of plane dragging, however these days it’s a bit different.

Essentially what has happened is that a new wave of competitors and promoters have teamed up with some of the old guns and created a rapidly growing sport with different levels to suit everyone from the first timer through to seasoned Pros who are competing against the worlds best overseas.

There are now lightweight divisions down to 75kg, women’s divisions, junior divisions and novice divisions for first timers!

So if you’ve ever watched “Worlds Strongest Man” on TV and though that it looked like fun now is the time to get out of the gym and enter a competition.

In order to help you I’ve put together this article which will give you a guide on how to transition from your regular gym training into your first comp.