As a Personal Trainer, it may come as no surprise to you that, in addition to personal training clients, I like to keep in shape myself. With this in mind, I thought it may be of interest to the Chorlton Personal Training blog readers, to find out a little bit about what I am getting up to in my training.
With this in mind, today I want to talk about using chains in your strength training workouts.
Right now, I am Very much enjoying incorporating the use of chains into my workouts. It makes for a nice change in the programme and adds variety, without deviating from the key movement patterns and exercises I want to work on. The main selling point for using chains is that they provide accommodating resistance, since the load is reduced at the bottom of the movement and increased at the top. I have certainly noticed that there is no real sticking point for me when using chains on the bench press - all portions of the movement seem equally difficult.
How does it work?
Well, as you can see from the photo above, some of the links on the chain are resting on the floor. As you lower the weight, more of those chain links are resting on the floor. As you lift the weight, less of the chain links are resting on the floor. This means, as you lower the bar, the weight is decreasing and as you lift the bar, the weight is increasing. This is what is meant by accommodating resistance. Using chains therefore works very well with exercises that are normally more difficult at the bottom and less difficult at the top.
If you want to learn more about how to include advanced strength training methods such as this into your training programme, then give me a shout using the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Form.
I have now written extensively on the Chorlton Personal Training blog about how to structure training programmes designed for muscle building. This is the big picture. The overall outlook on how a training week or a month of training or even a year will look. However, as important as the big picture is, as a personal trainer, I also need to consider the finer detail of how to structure an individual workout.
So todays' article on the Chorlton Personal Training blog will tackle exactly that... the anatomy of a muscle building workout!
Now of course, the structure of of your muscle building workout could vary enormously, depending on factors such as:
This is to name just a few of the possible factors that could influence how you structure your muscle building workouts. So of course, everything that follows in this article is going to be dependant on a number of assumptions. If you are looking to receive a truly personalised and effective muscle building plan, then contact me on the Chorlton Personal Training Contact form, and I will be more than happy to work with you to make sure you start getting some great results.
For now, lets make the assumption that you are following a full body routine three days per week and are in your first year of training and working out in the gym.
In this situation, the following Muscle Building Workout might well be a great fit for you.
As you are using full body workouts, you need to create balance within each session. The above example session utilises the following template to ensure balance:
Of course, there is potential to change up some of the exercises whilst still adhering to the same template. For example, you might decide to perform Hip Thrusts instead of Hyperextensions as your Hip Dominant Lower Body Exercise. Or you might prefer to perform Bench Pulls instead of Bent Over Row for your Horizontal Pulling Exercise.
You may change the exercises as you see fit. But if you are performing full body workouts three times per week, then you will not go too far wrong if you make sure to adhere to the above template.
You will have noticed in the example full body training session above, the bench press and bent over row exercises have been listed as exercise 2a) and exercise 2b) respectively. This is because these two exercises are to be paired up so that in between each set of bench press, a set of bent over rows are performed. Similarly, in between each set of pull ups a set of overhead presses are performed. This is done because the exercises that are paired with each other are working opposing muscle groups. This is a time efficient way of training, since you are able to recover from one exercise whilst you are working hard on the other exercise.
Arnold Schwarzenegger made this style of training popular by pairing chest and back exercises together in the same workout. Give it a try, you may just find your productivity in the gym goes through the roof!
Happy lifting folks.
Over the last couple of months I have written extensively on the Chorlton Personal Training blog about training to build muscle mass and size.
So I thought it was time for a little summary on some of the main factors to consider when training for gains in muscle mass.
As a reminder the three key principles of training for muscle mass and size are as follows:
The following infographic will very quickly summarise for you, how to approach your training in order ensure you generating enough mechanical tension and enough metabolic stress to achieve significant gains in muscle mass and size.
Of course, the above information only scratches the surface of training for muscle mass and size. For more detailed information, I will list below my previous muscle building articles on the Chorlton Personal Training blog.
Muscle Building Principles
Muscle Building for Fat Loss
German Volume Training
High Density Training for Muscle Building
Chorlton Personal Training on Supersets
Chorlton Personal Training discusses Intensity Techniques
Body Part Splits with Chorlton Personal Training
Chorlton Personal Training on Periodisation
Training for Muscle and Size
Of course, there is a substantial amount of reading available for you to look at there. But I hope you will find a number of common themes running through the various articles on building muscle and size.
However, if you are still struggling to make sense of it all... Or perhaps you feel like you have got it kinda figured out in your head, but for whatever you are struggling to make actual progress in the gym....Don't beat yourself up about it. Give me a shout on the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Form, and we will get you set on the right track to achieving the muscular physique you are after.
Last week on Chorlton Personal Training, we looked at how to structure your training week, by discussing body part splits in relation to whole body workouts.
To find out how you should structure your week when training to build muscle mass, check out the previous Chorlton Personal Training article on Body Part Splits.
Having established how best to structure a training week; This brings along a brand new questions on how to achieve variety in your training programme.
Periodisation is fancy term to describe the planning of variety in your training programme. Periodisation is important, because, if you perform the same training routine day in, day out and week in, week out.... your body will soon become accustomed to your routine and your progress will grind to a halt.
But if we have established an ideal way to structure a training week... How do you adhere to that training structure whilst also getting that all important training variety?
Well, let us say that you had a read of the Chorlton Personal Training article on Body Part Splits. Let us also say that, given you currently train in the gym six days per week, you decide that the Push / Pull / Legs training split is the best way for you to structure your week.
This means you can train....
Two Upper Body Pushing Workouts per week
Two Upper Body Pulling Workouts per week
Two leg workouts per week
This already provides a reasonable amount of variety for a single training week. But to add more variety still, we could perform one push workout, one pull workout and one legs workout with heavy weights and a low number of repetitions per set (low volume). Then we could perform the second push / pull / legs workouts with light weights and high volume.
If you have read my article on muscle building principles. You will know that optimal zone for building muscle is not too heavy, and not too light.
With that in mind, you might be reluctant to split your workouts between sessions using heavy weights and ones using light weights, whilst ignoring that all important middle area!
The reason why the middle area is so effective for building muscle is because it provides a compromise between all the different mechanisms that contribute to building muscle.
Whilst that is great. If you go heavier, but with less volume, you can attack certain muscle building mechanisms harder. Likewise, if you go lighter, but with more volume, you can attack alternative muscle building mechanisms harder.
So, you might do well to have a six to eight week training block where your workouts are alternating between heavy, low volume sessions and light, high volume sessions. You would then switch things up, by sticking with those middle range weights for the following six to eight weeks.
That sounds like a win win scenario!
Of course there are lots of other ways you can get variety in your training programmes. You could vary exercise selection, exercise order and even exercise technique...
But we will leave a discussion on those factors until another time.
Until then, if you want to learn more about periodisation and exercise variety, please hit me up on the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Page.
Today on Chorlton Personal Training I want to talk about body part splits!
This question of whether to perform full body workouts or to focus on different muscle groups during different workouts (aka body part splits) is an eternal one in the world of lifting weights and building muscle. Here at Chorlton Personal Training we believe there is a place for both styles of training... and which one is best for you comes down to training experience and also how frequently you train.
Training frequency is a key factor.
I strongly believe that, for most people, training a body part or muscle group just once per week is insufficient when you are training for muscle size and mass. So if you are only getting to the gym two or three times per week, you need to make sure you are performing full body workouts each time you hit the gym.
What about the slightly more committed lifter who hits the gym four times per week?
For this individual, I would be likely to recommend a combination of split training and whole body training. But traditional body part splits are still unlikely to work for the four times per week gym goer.
Instead, for this type of lifter, here at Chorlton Personal Training, we would recommend a push / pull / legs split.
So on a Monday, you would be training pushing exercises such as Bench Press, Shoulder Press and Dips.
On a Tuesday, you would be training pulling exercises such as Pull Ups and Bent Over Rows.
On a Thursday, you would be working your legs with things like Squats, Lunges and Hip Thrusts.
Then on Saturday you would perform a whole body workout.
Splitting the first three workouts of the week into push / pull / legs means you can hit each of those areas harder, compared to a full body workout. Yet the addition of a full body workout on Saturday means you are still getting the frequency of training each body part twice per week.
For the lifter training five times per week. I would recommend the same approach of combining split training with whole body training. However, you can now afford to use a more traditional body part split.
Here's what your week might look like if training five days per week:
For the serious lifter that is training up to six times per week. I would recommend ditching the whole body workout completely, but going back to the push / pull / legs routine. This is because, at six training sessions per week, you will be able to move through this split twice each week.
So there's some food for though on how to structure your training week when training for muscle gains. Of course, there are more options than those outlined above, but I think this article is long enough for now.
Until next time!
My last article was titled Chorlton Personal Training on Supersets.
Supersets would be described by bodybuilders as an intensity technique. To learn exactly what they are and how you can use them, you should check out the supersets article.
For now lets take a look at some other intensity techniques that may be of value in your muscle building toolbox.
Simply put, intensity techniques are methods for making your sets harder.
We have already covered supersets in a previous article. But what other intensity techniques are out there?
1) Drop Sets
With drop sets, you perform a standard set of an exercise to failure. But as soon as you reach failure (the point at which you can no longer perform any more repetitions), you remove some of the weight. This enables you to crank out some additional repetitions on the same exercise without taking a rest.
A double drop set would involve reducing the weight a second time and then further cranking out some additional repetitions. For the brave, you could even try a triple drop set.
A triple drop set is likely to prove extremely painful...
2) Mechanical Drop Sets
With mechanical drop sets, once you reach failure, rather than reduce the weight, you perform the same exercise in a slightly different way in order to make it an easier version of the exercise. Once again, this allows you to carry on performing additional repetitions after the point of failure.
A good example of a mechanical drop set would be performing narrow grip bench press to the point of failure. Then widening the grip, to enable additional repetitions to be performed with wide(r) grip bench press.
3) Forced Repetitions
With forced repetitions, once again you would perform a standard set of an exercise to failure. However, this time, upon reaching failure, your personal trainer will help you to perform some additional repetitions by assisting with the lifting portion of each repetition.
It is important to have an experienced personal trainer that understands when and how to provide the type of assistance that will enable you to perform forced repetitions correctly.
So if you are unsure at all about how to implement some of these intensity techniques, and you want to take your muscle building to the next level, then please use the Chorlton Personal Training Contact form, and we can chat about how to build the type of body you desire.
In my previous article on high density training, I touched on using supersets in order to increase training density.
Today let's take a closer look at some of the different ways in which you can incorporate supersets into your training.
To recap on the previous article, a superset is when two exercises are performed in a row without stopping.
There are two main ways of performing supersets.
Firstly, we can use two consecutive exercises that involve the same muscle groups. This is what bodybuilders would call an intensity technique. Intensity techniques are used to train beyond failure. In other words, when you reach failure in the first exercise and you can no longer perform any more repetitions, you are still able to continue working the same muscle by immediately moving onto a second exercise. This is great for creating more muscle damage and more metabolic stress (two of the main precursors to muscle building).
The alternative way of performing supersets is to use antagonistic supersets. This means using two exercises that use opposing muscle groups. A classic example, and one which was heavily endorsed and used by Arnold Schwarzenegger, is the pairing up of back and chest exercises. This is less useful for inducing more muscle damage, since it does not provide an increase in training volume for any given muscle group. However, it is great for increasing metabolic stress, as the increase in training density is through the roof! This method of training potentially allows you to progress through a training session without taking any significant rest periods. This is because you are using non-competing exercise pairings. In other words, the back muscles are resting while you are working the chest muscles and vice versa.
As you might imagine, this second method of performing supersets is great for your fat loss goals in addition to being a wonderful tool in your muscle building armoury.
Hey there Chorltonians!
Last week I wrote about my best tips for getting into shape and staying in shape... the Chorlton Personal Training way!
This week I want to expand upon the first of those fitness training tips.
The first tip I gave you last week was to start the day right.
Make sure that exercise is the first thing you do in the morning. It doesn't have to be much. A five to ten minute morning exercise routine can give you the boost you need for the rest of the day. And if you have a busy work schedule looming for the rest of the day that results in you missing an evening workout... well at least you have done something!
Of course, if you can find the time for something a little more substantial for your morning exercise routine. Well all the better!
Here are a couple of reasons why training first thing in the morning rocks!
1) If you train before breakfast, you are effectively exercising in a fasted state. That is, you are exercising at a time when your Glycogen stores are rather depleted.
Now Glycogen is a Carbohydrate. So if you exercise at a time when your body does not have much Carbohydrate to use as a fuel... Bingo! Your body has little choice but to turn to your fat stores as fuel for your exercise session.
Kudos to morning exercise for fat burning!
2) Fasted exercise is great for activating a whole series of fat burning genes. These genes then code for enzymes that do a bunch of cool stuff to promote fat burning.
This is great news, because there's a limit to how many calories you can burn during a relatively brief morning exercise session. But by switching on these fat burning genes as well, you will continue to increase the rate at which you burn fat throughout the day (long after your morning exercise workout is over).
So there you have it Chorlton folks! A pre-breakfast morning exercise routine can go a long way to helping you with your fat loss goals.
If your not sure how to best go about your morning exercise routine you can leave me a message by visiting the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Page.
If there is a demand for it, I could also be persuaded into putting on a regular morning group workout designed for fat burning. Once again, if you would be keen for this to happen, just leave me a message by visiting the Chorlton Personal Training Contact Page.
That's all for now folks!
Yes Chorlton fitness peeps! It's time for another ramble from me.
As the Chorlton Personal Training website is still in its infancy, I thought we could still get to know one another it a bit more. I particularly thought you might like to get a feel for the Chorlton Personal Training style of getting into shape.
What better way to do that than sharing with you my top tips for getting into shape and staying in shape?
So without further ado, here's my best tips...
1) Start the Day Right
Before breakfast...Boom! Just get up and go. No dilly dallying. Start your day with a morning workout. It doesn't need to be big. And frankly, it can be whatever form of exercise you like.
A walk, a run, kettlebells, bodyweight calisthenics...
Just get it done! Even if it is just a small five minute routine that you do every morning, then if the worst comes to the worst and you can't do any exercise for the rest of the day... At least you have done something!
2) Train Hard
At least two or three times a week, if you want to make good progress, the truth is, you are going to have to set aside time to really push yourself.
Sometimes you just got to man up and put yourself in the hurt locker.
If you know that you are going to struggle to motivate yourself to train with the requisite level of intensity, then that's okay... it's even kinda normal. But you might want to get yourself a friendly personal trainer that can fire up that beast inside of you. I've heard Chorlton has a pretty good personal trainer ;-)
3) Train Easy
As important as it is to go full on beast mode from time to time. Sometimes you've just got to go easy.
Listen to your body. Are you still recovering from that last hard workout? Do you feel fried from having the day from hell at work?
Then train accordingly. In actual fact a light and easy workout can help set you up nicely for your next hard session.
4) Don't Get Hurt
In the world of training and fitness... consistency is key. So if you pick up an injury that interferes with your training routine; well that has the potential to stop your progress in its tracks.
Make sure you learn how to perform exercises correctly and make sure you know which exercises are right for your body.
Oh, and don't forget to take heed of point three above. Sometimes you just have to take it easy.
5) No Excuses
If you're out of luck, and despite being on point with respect to all of my above tips, you still manage to injure yourself... Well, my friend, you still need to train.
If you know what your doing, there's loads of stuff you can do to work around almost any injury and still make progress in the gym.
And if you don't know what your doing?
Well that's where Chorlton Personal Training comes in I guess!
If you are finding that injuries are preventing you from making those gains, please do get in touch. Just send me a message using the contact form here.
Here's to the rest of 2017, and getting you into tip top condition!