July 31, 2016

Instrument Assisted Soft Tissue Manipulation For Maximal Performance - AKA Gua Sha

First off, I just want to briefly update those who have followed my work over the last few years to explain why I’ve discontinued my work on the site. It is my personal belief that people these days are more prone to watch videos to obtain information as opposed to read, so I’ve directed my efforts towards creating content for YouTube as of late. For those interested, here’s a link to my channel


September 13, 2015

Mechanical Ascension Training System

The Difference Between A Program, And A System

A lot of people lack direction in their training, and appear to do things without any rhyme or reason hoping that it will get them the results they desire. While this can work for some, “hope” is not a strategy – at least not an effective one. It’s for this reason that many search endlessly for a “program” designed to provide them with the results they so desire. The program itself provides guidance and purpose, which is great, but there’s one major drawback with this approach, and it is: it’s impossible to predict how you’re body is going to respond from day to day, workout to workout, set to set, and even rep to rep.

Because a program is nothing more than a physical representation of a strategy, it has room for error as some days you may be able to perform more sets and reps, or you may not be able to perform the prescribed amount of sets and reps – in either case (feeling like you can do more, or feeling like it’s too hard), the psychological effect may be that the program isn’t the best for the person following it. It’s for these reasons that a “system” of training, one in which accounts are taken to allow for the natural daily fluctuations in performance, may be a more effective approach both physically, and mentally.

A system allows for interpretation, and for on the fly adjustments to be made based on how your body is reacting to the work that you are doing. After all, a training session is something that the individual is experiencing, and only that individual knows exactly how the work they’re performing is effecting them, therefore the individual must learn to listen to the internal cues of the body and base what they do off of that. That in essence is what training is all about. To go one further, that’s pretty much what life is all about – feedback: performing an action, gauging the reaction, taking the reaction into consideration and performing a following action.

September 1, 2015

Special 5 Year Anniversary Article - The Most Effective Muscle Building Strategy: Recruit, Then Fatigue

Freedom within a structure

As far as training is concerned, bodybuilding, or rather training to build muscle, is primarily the result of recruiting and fatiguing as many muscle fibers within a muscle as possible (without overworking the body’s capacity to recover). The most appealing characteristic about bodybuilding training is the freedom you have when it comes to structuring a workout, just as long as it remains within the recruit and fatigue framework. Within this structure you can pretty much do whatever you want (as long as it’s not completely idiotic), while still promoting the desired result.

July 12, 2015

The Training Program – What It Is, And What It Is Not

The Program Represents The Strategy

A training program is nothing more than the physical representation of a strategy designed to specifically make you progress in one way, or another. The “program” itself is not important, but rather the strategy that undermines the decisions made in terms of what exercises to perform, and when/how.

June 7, 2015

Logical, Volume Based Progression Models For Sustainable Gains

The Magic Is In The Strategy

A “program” is nothing more than a physical representation of a strategy, aimed at making you better at something. Whether that be bigger, stronger, faster, the program is simply a strategy used to create a physiological response.

For those training primarily for aesthetics, like a bodybuilder, progression is measured by what you see in the mirror (which is largely dependent on what you put in your body). But, for the rest of the world, progression is generally based on how much weight is being lifted.

May 10, 2015

Plateau Busters - The Most Effective Strategies To Promote New Strength And Size Gains

In “the science and practice of strength training,” which has largely become a bible in the world of strength and conditioning, Zatsiorsky suggests that for a muscle to be “trained,” it must not only be recruited, but exhausted as well. When framed under this scope, it’s easy to understand how to train a muscle to respond to further growth, when it seems nothing else is working.

Break Away From The Norm

When people hit a plateau, they don’t really care to attempt to understand why, they just know that they want it to end, and in doing so they try a plethora of different methods, in hopes that something will work and kick-start making progress once again.when it seems nothing else iswoing, irrespective of whether or not you include explosive reps concurrently, is thatt, an But before one can attempt to break out of a plateau, one must understand how they got there in the first place.

Training normally focuses on the concentric capacities of the muscles – meaning, we base the amount of weight we use, and reps we perform, on what are muscles are capable of lifting concentrically. When we can no longer lift the weight concentrically, the set is over. And this is where a lot of people are lost – they are unaware that their muscles are still quite capable of handling loads isometrically, and eccentrically, and as a result are leaving gains to be had on the table.

The following are some of the best ways known to exhaust a muscle, when traditional concentric focused training no longer seems to be working:

March 8, 2015

Numbers, Angles, Rhythm, And Symmetry

This Is Really Just A Game Of Numbers, And Angles

Super Bowl winning coach, and NFL analyst, Brian Billick has popularized the phrase, ‘professional football has been and always will be a game of numbers, angles, rhythm and symmetry’.

Numbers in this case refers to the matchups and mismatches on the field, such as when 3 receivers are lined up on the same side of the field, with the defense showing zone coverage with 2 deep safeties (the safety on the far side will presumably be unable to make a play on the side of the field that the 3 receivers are lined up on, unless leaving his position, and a huge portion of the field wide open). This would be considered a very favorable matchup for the offence to take advantage of. The numbers are the first key to running a successful play.

But all the numbers in the world, in terms of advantages in personnel, are meaningless if the receivers don’t take advantage by running routes that place themselves between the quarterback and the closest defender. If the defender is able to identify the route and place himself between the targeted receiver and the quarterback, the likeliness of the play being broken up, or worse yet, intercepted, is heightened dramatically. Therefore, the angles are the second key to running a successful play, as they enable the offence to take advantage of the numbers/mismatches.

Billick is natural statistician, and goes on to say that over the course of a given season, the offensive and defensive units will run about 1,000 plays per season. Of these 1,000 plays, roughly 45% of them will be first down plays, with roughly 20% being third down plays. 14% of plays will be within the ‘red zone’ (AKA within scoring range by most accounts), with 2.5% of plays from the goal line. These numbers heavily influence how much time is spent practicing specific situations, and with good reason – why would anyone invest a lot of time into practicing a situation that you’re only going to face 2.5% of the time? You have to get to the goal line first, and if you can’t do that, there’s not much value in practicing plays from there.

This is where symmetry comes in, as it refers to the amount of time spent on the demand of the situation – since third down plays occupy only 20% of the situations that will be faced, more time is spent practicing first down plays, which occupy 45% of the situations. Time is spent on addressing and practicing for the situation that requires the most attention, and will make the greatest impact on the outcome of the game. This is the third key to being able to successfully run a play – practicing the numbers and angles.

Rhythm is developed as a result of the symmetry, which in this case refers to successfully running plays – as situations are practiced and dealt with, and success is seen in the physical form, momentum begins to form, and things come together more naturally. As a team’s ability to string together successful plays improves, confidence is built, and more time can be spent on addressing other situations that require it the most, in the hopes of creating the most complete team as possible.

March 1, 2015

Bodybuilding - A Simplistic View Of How You Should Train To Build Your Body

A lot of people who get into bodybuilding, or who train with the goal of building their body (which pretty much defines what ‘bodybuilding’ is), fall into the trap of focusing on the wrong things like external cues. Building your body is an ‘experience’ that YOU are central to, not the result of doing things that are written down on a piece of paper, or on your smart phone.

External cues like how much weight you’re using, how long you’re resting for/supposed to rest for, and how long you’re supposed to follow a program completely remove YOU from the experience – and YOU are ‘supposed’ to be central to which all those variables are based upon.

If you want to build your body, you must understand YOUR BODY, and also know what you want to get from your body through your training. Then, from there obviously it would help to know how to go about taking your body from where you’re at, to where you want to be. But before you can take your body from where you’re at, to where you want to be, it’s probably a good idea to understand what will prevent you from getting there, so you can account for that beforehand.

February 15, 2015

Auto-Regulatory Minimalist Training For Strength, Size, And Performance

Know Your Response, And Cater Your Training To It

The act of strength training, or ‘working out’, does not build muscle (or increase strength/endurance) – the body responds to the strength training by building muscle (or increases its ability to generate/maintain force). Strength training is simply the catalyst which initiates the adaptive processes, therefore one must first know what physiological/neurological response it is they wish to achieve in response to their efforts, so their strength training regimen can be tailored accordingly.

Exercises are nothing more than the ‘tools’ that are used to ‘do the job’ and trigger the response. The way in which the tools are used, as in the weight that is used, which determines roughly how many reps can be performed, the amount of sets, along with the rest between them, should all be based upon the goal, as they all heavily contribute to the end result.

Because our ability to progress is limited by our ability to recover, and the body has a limited capacity to positively respond to training, in terms of how much ‘work’ it can recover from, it’s of paramount importance to invest the limited amount of time and energy that can be spent training, on the exercises which provide the greatest return (on investment). It can’t be expected that more and more work can just be piled on without having some sort of downstream effect.

Since there’s essentially a limited supply, or maximum amount, of time and effort that can be invested into training, and there’s a cap on the amount of work that the body can endure, it’s only logical to invest that time and effort as wisely as possible – which is done by placing emphasis on making improvements in the lifts that provide the most benefit and greatest return on investment. After all, it’s the loading parameters that ultimately determine how the body will respond to the workout.

January 25, 2015

Everything You Need To Know About How To Concurrently Develop Multiple Physical Capacities - Complexes

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

A large percentage of competitive athletes only have 12-16 weeks of uninterrupted training time per year, in which there's a lot to accomplish. Muscle that is lost during the season must be regained and new muscle mass must be built in most cases as it will likely only help performance, and conjugate periodization is likely the best system there is for this purpose, or for those who simply don’t have the luxury of time on their hands.

November 30, 2014

The Soviet Lifting Cycle, And How You Can Modify It To Increase Your Strength And Size!


Week 1
80% (6x2)
80% (6x3)
80% (6x2)
Week 2
80% (6x4)
80% (6x2)
80% (6x5)
Week 3
80% (6x2)
80% (6x6)
80% (6x2)
Week 4
85% (5x5)
80% (6x2)
90% (4x4)
Week 5
80% (6x2)
95% (3x3)
80% (6x2)
Week 6
100% (2x2)
80% (6x2)
102-105% (new max)

The table above is a copy of an old Soviet cycle which was originally used to gradually build raw strength in the Olympic lifts, and also the squat – depending on the lifter’s needs.

November 23, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About Training To Failure

Is it necessary to train to failure for optimal growth?
While training to failure can be dangerous (especially with heavy weights), as well as lead to neural fatigue, cause an excessive amount of muscle damage, and contribute to localized overtraining, there are significant benefits as well, but it really depends on what it is that caused failure in the first place.

What is ‘muscle’ failure?
Failure in this context refers to the incapacity to sustain the required amount of force output for a specific task. In other words, the task of performing more and more repetitions will become more daunting until it’s no longer physically possible to continue to produce the required amount of force to complete a repetition – this is failure.

What causes failure?
The concept of training to failure is easy to understand, but the reasons underlying its occurrence are more complex because there's not always a single isolated cause of failure – they are (but are not limited to):

November 16, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About How To Activate mTOR During Your Workout

Eccentrics, And Their Connection To mTOR

Activation of the mTOR pathway is the switch that triggers protein synthesis, and as far as mechanical tension is concerned, this switch is activated almost exclusively during muscle lengthening (eccentric) actions.

It was once thought that because eccentric loading inflicts the greatest micro-tearing to the muscles, muscle damage must be the main stimulus for growth, but this isn’t the case. In fact, excessive micro-trauma to the muscle fibers might even retard the growth process (partly because eccentrics reduce muscle insulin sensitivity).

It’s the cell signaling, via several pathways (ex. EPK and PKB pathways), as well as the activation of mTOR and the production of local growth factors (like IGF-1) in response to eccentrics which is the main stimulus for muscle growth. The micro-tears to the muscle are just a consequence of training, and are not necessary for growth to occur.

The external resistance needed to optimally activate mTOR is only 60% of maximum (a weight allows for roughly 20 reps to be performed), as it's the act of stretching the muscle under load which is responsible for the effect (and this effect is further magnified if the muscle being stretched is ‘pumped’, because performing a loaded stretch on a pumped muscle stretches the surrounding fascia, and increases the sensitivity of the IGF-1 receptors). Eccentrics performed in this manner, with such loads, aren't damaging and won't impair recovery, but will activate one of the main pathways involved in muscle growth.

Along with the cell signaling effect that low load, slow eccentrics have, is the occlusion effect (depriving the muscle of oxygen while it's doing mechanical work) that they can create, as long as constant tension is maintained – when a muscle is contracted, blood can't enter the muscle so oxygen isn't delivered, and if a muscle never relaxes during a set, blood will remain outside the muscle, and the muscle will go into an hypoxic state, increases the release of IGF-1. All of this positively affects both protein synthesis, and muscle growth.

October 19, 2014

Everything You Need To Know About mTOR, And How To Maximally Stimulate Protein Synthesis

Protein Synthesis Is Activated By mTOR
Activation of protein synthesis is controlled by a series of phosphorylation events orchestrated by a protein called ‘mammalian target of rapamycin’ (mTOR) – which is the master-controller of protein synthesis in the cell, and thus the most important cell signaling complex for muscle growth. Muscle growth is directly related to mTOR activation – greater mTOR activation equals greater protein synthesis, meaning more new proteins are sent out for muscle growth and repair

September 21, 2014

How To Determine The Value Of An Exercise, And Whether It Is The Best One For You

Get Results, Or Die Trying

Progression is the name of the game, to which every single decision, as it relates to a strength training program, should be built upon. Progression in this context is best quantified by the following criteria – this criteria also happens to determine whether an exercise can be classified as one with a high, or low, rate of return on investment (ROI), and if it has a lot of room to grow (how high it’s ‘ceiling’ is):

·         An increase in the amount of weight lifted for a given number of reps

·         An increase in the amount of reps performed with a given amount of weight

·         Increased density – performing the same amount of work in less time, or performing more work in same amount of time

*The first two best categorize an exercise’s room to grow, while all three can effectively gauge an exercise’s rate of ROI in relation to the goal.

September 14, 2014

Excitation Thresholds - Why A Muscle Won't Grow, And What You Can Do About It

The 2 Primary Training Related Reasons Why A Muscle Won’t Grow

1.    One has difficulty recruiting a specific muscle group (likely because it’s the weak link in the chain, and stronger muscles take over during movements that are ‘supposed’ to target a specific muscle)

2.    One has difficulty recruiting the high threshold motor units/fast-twitch fibers of the targeted muscle (which have the greatest potential for growth and are only recruited only when the tension is high enough – which is maximized with the use of heavy loads, explosive movements, or at the end of a set taken to failure with lighter loads)

August 9, 2014

SPECIAL FOUR YEAR ANNIVERSARY ARTICLE - Everything You Need To Know About Training For Your Fiber Type To Get The Best Results For Your Body

The secret

Everybody is different, right? Which means everyone responds differently to a given stimulus, right? And to get the best result you have to find what works for you, right?

Obviously the answer to each of the questions above is yes, but knowing that doesn’t really tell you much at all. Knowing that everybody is different or that a certain stimulus will generate a different reaction in various individuals tells you nothing. If anything, it leads to more questions like ‘what’s the best way to build muscle?’, or ‘how many reps should I do if I want to (fill in the blank)’?

The answers to those questions are far more valuable, but are a lot harder to come by because everybody is different and will get a different response to a given stimulus.

July 27, 2014

Training Programs - Over 50 Programs To Build Strength And/Or Size!

The goal of any program is obviously to promote the desired adaptation in the shortest period of time, but because training programs are not so much ‘black and white’, but rather consist of a lot of ‘grey area’, there are numerous ways in which one could go about accomplishing the same goal. Here are some of the more popular programs that have stood the test of time for no other reason than they produce the result that they are supposed to and have a very high success rate.

June 1, 2014

The 100 Rep Method, And How It May Be Exactly What You Need To Continue Making Progress

Betcha any money, you can’t do that again

The ability to repeat efforts is what differentiates a ‘one trick pony’, from someone who can prove that they’re not just a fluke. As it relates to strength training, work capacity (the ability to repeat efforts in a set amount of time), and your ability to build upon it, can be the catalyst for newfound progress when it seems like all else is failing.

The ‘results chain of events’ typically sees trainees making strength gains first, followed by increases in muscular development (this happens because it’s a lot easier for the nervous system to become more efficient than it is for the body to slap on pounds of muscle), but after that gains taper off. While you could ‘switch it up’ and continue to see small increases in strength (primarily as a result of the nervous system adapting to the new stimulus), the gains are generally minimal at best. There comes a time when getting stronger becomes seemingly impossible, especially at a given bodyweight, and when that happens, the only way to see your strength go up is to simply gain more weight (easier said than done, otherwise everyone would already be packing on pounds like nothing).

For most, gaining more weight isn’t an option (if it was, it would already have happened, and would still be happening), and when strength gains have pretty much been maxed out at a given bodyweight (as we can only deadlift, squat, or bench press so many times our bodyweight), you arrive at a crossroads and are left with a decision to make – do you keep doing what got you to where you’re at, with the hopes that the progress you once experienced will magically pickup where it left off, or do you re-evaluate the situation and use the strength you’ve acquired to your advantage?

May 25, 2014

The Jettison Technique - How To Use The Resources Available To Maximize Tension, Thus Results

Meet the Jettisons

The Jettison technique is where two different forms of resistance (free weights, cables, machines, resistance bands, lifting chains, etc) are combined during the same exercise to create a variation of a mechanical drop set/improved leverage set aimed at maximizing muscle recruitment and fatigue. An example would be a barbell with a resistance band wrapped around it (which you would be standing on to anchor the band), curled till failure, remove the band, pick up the bar and curl to failure once more, put the bar down, pick up the band and curl that till failure.

While performing exercises with two forms of resistance coming from different planes may not be practical, it is extremely beneficial, regardless of your goal (building muscle, increasing strength, etc), because of the enhanced effect that it has on the nervous system, specifically motor unit recruitment.

May 18, 2014

Clusters - How To Maximize Both The Load AND Time Under Tension

Take your pick, load or time under tension? BOTH!

The goal with any training program should always be to try and maximize the load, as well as the time under tension, at least if making positive strides towards putting muscle on your frame, burning fat off of it, or increasing your strength is the desired result. Obviously various goals will favor lifting a heavier load at the expense of time under tension, or favor a greater time under tension at the expense of the load, but the most effective techniques are those that capitalize on maximizing both.

Equally obvious is (at least it should be), the more weight you lift, and the more times you lift it, the better result you’re going to get regardless of the goal (obviously the amount of weight and reps performed is predetermined by the goal). This becomes problematic however, because the heavier the weight, the less reps that can be performed, therefore limiting the time under (near maximal) tension. Therefore, to lift the heaviest weights for prolonged times under tension, intermittent breaks are needed to allow for partial ATP regeneration, the clearance of metabolites, and neural recovery.

May 11, 2014

Partials - That Horrible Form You See In The Gym Can Actually Be Beneficial... If You Use It Right

A primer on strength curves

Every exercise has a specific strength curve, which basically means that they either get harder (descending), easier (ascending), or harder and then easier (concave), throughout the range of motion because of the biomechanics of the body.

Not a single exercise requires an identical amount of force to be produced throughout a full range of motion. Some machines have been developed with the hopes of creating a delicate balance in which the amount of force required matches the amount of resistance provided, but even the most technologically advanced machines still have their flaws.

Because of this, muscles are not thoroughly stimulated through a full range of motion with a given amount of weight, because the amount of weight that can be lifted through a full range of motion is limited only by how strong weight can be lifted through the weakest range of the movement. Therefore, to fully stimulate a muscle throughout its entire range, a different approach is going to need to be taken than the traditional method in which you select a weight and perform a full range of motion till failure, as this will only ensure that the muscles are fully fatigued through the range in which they’re weakest.

May 4, 2014

Ladders - Maximize Performance While Minimizing Fatigue To Allow For A Greater Volume Of Work

What are we really doing here?

If one thing’s for sure, it’s that there’s definitely no shortage of training programs out there for those wanting to build muscle, get stronger, or transform their body. Hell, some programs are promoted to do all those things simultaneously. Generally these programs consist of the same exercises (because the same movements that provided the most bang for your buck before, are still the same now), with slight alterations to the parameters (sets, reps, rest, intensity, etc) to achieve the desired result. After all, that’s all training really is. It’s management of the parameters combined with showing up to the gym and working your ass off, and as long as you do the right amount of work (no more, and no less), then you’re in a good position to get the best result for your time and effort.

The way you structure that work though, is entirely up to you, and there is a ton of room for interpretation. Typically, people like to have a predetermined amount of sets and reps in place, whether it be 10 sets of 10, 8 by 8, 6 by 6, 5 by 5, 3 by 3 (you get the point), as it makes it easier to quantify progression, and also pinpoint what exactly you need to focus on, and what changes, if any, need to be made.

March 30, 2014

How To Maximize Muscle Fiber Recruitment And Fully Exhaust As Many Fibers As Possible - Stage Sets

The excellence of execution

It would be a challenging assignment to find anyone who doesn’t agree that what you do matters far less than how you do something. Anyone can put in the time necessary to be as prepared as humanly possible for any given situation, but if effective execution of the plan is less than optimal, it’s all for nothing. As it relates to strength training, one of the most, if not the most, underrated parameters when it comes to effectively executing an exercise is the tempo in which it’s performed.

Trainers are often nothing more than exercise instructors, for the lack of a better term, if they don’t emphasize the importance of execution. I’m not talking about alignment, and what would be considered proper form, but rather the tempo that is used to raise and lower the weight.