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Deadlift – The Bar Ain’t Bending

By | Chiropractic, Deadlift, motivation, Strongman, Training Tips | No Comments
The Bar Ain't Bending

The deadlift is the truest test of strength. It’s as simple as picking the weight up and putting it down. These are five points that I find to be most important for training your deadlifts.

Understanding The Mechanics of the Deadlift

Every individual, athletes or gym goer who does the deadlift are all different. Especially when it come to leverages and mechanics. Some athletes are natural born deadlifters with short legs, long arms and thick upper torso. Your deadlift stance can never be the same as Benni Magnusson or Eddie Hall but it can be adjusted to what will work for you. This can be resolved with tweaking or adjusting your starting position. How high or low your hips should be, your feet placement, hand placement, shoulders, chest and chin.

Here is the catch, from my own experience my deadlift style is constantly changing or evolving. It is also very dependent on the weight that is being lifted. The higher the weight on the bar, you will soon find out that what you have been using needs a slight tweak. Remember the smallest tweaks makes the most difference. I have to state that I am NO expert but I am still constantly learning from the best deadlifters in the world. Find a coach with experience, credentials and preferably not a $20 online coach with a generic template that he plagiarised from someone else

Cues, Cues, Cues

Every coach that you work with have their own specific set of Cues that make sure you practice. The ones I uses are Hips, Shoulders and Chin. These are the mental cues that I give myself

Hips
My hips or butt hover at parallel or slightly below parallel to the ground. The lower your hips the more hip and leg drive you will have.

Shoulders
This movement I tend to exaggerate a bit. It’s not so much a shoulder movement but it’s more of a pulling my scapulas together and then downwards to activate and lock in my upper back (lats, rhomboids, traps). If you also notice at this point. Your hips will dip a little lower.

Chin
Let’s face it, deadlifting is not the lift to make you feel or look pretty. I focus my gaze on something in front of me on the floor and tuck my chin in. This is just to make my lift more efficient and lessen the need for unnecessary movements. Once again this was the advice given to me by my Chiropractor who is an expert. The lesser lateral movement or shearing forces during the deadlift, the lesser chance of getting hurt.

Why you still suck at Deadlifting!

Let’s face it, if you go to a gym you are probably going to see some individuals attempting PRs every single training session. Firstly, you are not Larry Wheels or have the same lifestyle that he has. I’ve seen people who get hurt so often during training because listening to your coach or following the stated program is like a plague. Or maybe its opposite day everyday. When you get hurt, you tend to blame others. When you should be blaming yourself for your “ER or PR” mentality.

Your body is not designed to PR every training session. Every heavy training session that you have, put on a huge beating to your central nervous system (CNS). You need to learn how to regulate your training to give and allow enough time for your CNS to recover. Your muscles do the work and movement, your CNS is the one that controls your muscles to move all that weight. You can’t lift with your muscles alone you need both your muscles and CNS to work in sync. How do you know that your CNS is overworked. When you feel tired, lethargic or just have no mood to lift. Give yourself a day or two off from training to allow your CNS to recover.

Accessory Work and the 100 reps protocol

Doing deadlifts alone won’t improve your deadlifts. I’ve seen athletes who just do Squat, Bench and Deadlifts three to four times a week and expect different results. Doing three compound movements in a training session is demanding and strenuous. It also puts an incredible amount of stress on your CNS. You probably get better at the movement but the improvement will be rather scarce. You have to do accessory work. I dedicate one full training session a week for accessory work. Which means I train my back twice a week.

Volume days are incredibly long, tough and intense. Usually mine will look like this

Tuesday – Back Accessory Volume
– Seated Iso Metric Pull Downs (Hammer Strength)

20 reps x 5 sets
– Seated Pull Downs (Hammer Strength)
20 reps x 5 sets
– Dumbell Rows on Incline Bench (I usually superset this with the Hammer Strength movements)
10 reps x 10 sets
– Seated Rows
20 reps x 5 sets
– Shrugs pyramid (Smith Machine)
1 plate – 20 reps
2 plates – 20 reps
3 plates – 20 reps
2 plates – 20 reps
1 plate – 20 reps
(Thats 1 set… I do 2 sets)
– Face pulls
20 reps x 5 sets

Why 100 reps for all exercises? The real question is. Do you want to stand on podium or finish 4th with a difference of 5kg or 2.5kg. Nobody cares about how difficult or how sore you are. Nobody Cares, Work Harder!

Thursday
Deadlift (Volume/Speed/Max Effort)
Reverse Hypers
GHD
Face Pulls
Abs

Importance of Self-Regulation

Before you think that you can go balls to the walls and lift heavy every single day. You need to understand and accept that there will be some training days that are just terrible. These days you will feel tired, lousy or just not in the right frame of mind. Its important to acknowledge days like this and stop whatever you are doing, take off your gym shoes and head back home.

This probably caused by Your CNS being over worked, not enough sleep or stress from work/school. This concept of Self-regulation is important for longevity. You want to be doing this for a long time. The longer you stay in the sport injury free, the more achievements you will achieve.

I hope you find this article to be useful for your training. In the meantime train hard and stay injury free!

365kg (800lbs) in Static Monsters Loket, Czech Republic
Deadlift

Interview with Coach Rich Thurman

By | Deadlift, Food for thought, Health Tips, Interviews, motivation, Tip Tuesdays, Training Tips | No Comments

I’ve known Coach Rich since way back in 2010. I think as an athlete I’ve been very blessed to have gotten to know, work with amazing people and coaches.That time he was more into strength and conditioning as a trainer. He still does coaching and training but his training methodology and philosophy has changed. Mainly by incorporating more natural movements and tools likes mace, club bells and everything else in between.

I had an amazing session with Rich as I take him through the paces of what I do for stability and on a rehab day. In this session we traded training philosophies and different training techniques.

One of the points that we talked about was the importance of showing up and doing your best at competitions. Instead of just achieving PBs at the gym because only lifts at competitions counts. What was interesting was when Coach Rich asked me what I did for a day job… Do catch that bit during the interview.

I really enjoyed this interview / training session because it was pretty chill but we also managed to put in the work. We do hope that you enjoy the

You can also follow Coach Rich Thurman

Follow Coach RT3

http://www.instagram.com/coach_rt3

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Are you ready for Comp Prep

By | Food for thought, motivation, Strongman | One Comment

Are you ready for Comp Prep?

Ever wondered how it feels like to be in comp prep? Preparing for a competition be it strongman, powerlifting, physique or even track and field can be tricky and at most times tough. It is a very lonely process. A few weeks ago I posted this on Instagram with the caption “Success is not glamorous, its a lot of hours in darkness alone”.

Even in an interview with Stan Efferding, he mentioned that… “If you want to stay healthy and maintain good relationships, don’t be competitive” but we also know that Mark Bell stated “I rather die doing something I love than be average!”. So which brings us to a conundrum.

Personally I’m going to share with you some of my personal perspectives during comp prep and what to expect of course this is solely from my own experience.

Overcoming Adversity
The term adversity is pretty much the same in any language meaning -“A difficult or uncomfortable situation”. Not too long ago in the midst of preparing for the Static Monsters World Championships 2018.

I had a meeting with my former sponsors of five years and they told me that they would not be renewing my contract because “I wasn’t the type of athlete that the average joe would be able to relate to” because of the nature of my sport. Its too hardcore or not appealing to the masses.

I was rather disappointed and upset because for the past few years my former sponsors were the ones supporting my international competitions in terms of covering my flight expenses. I wasn’t just upset but more angry… In my head, my mind went into a flurry of rage with my thoughts going “How could you even do this to me 4 weeks out to my competition (insert expletives). Is this how you treat loyalty and my efforts for the past five years!?” But of course this was just inside in my head

Being dropped from a major sponsor is definitely a huge blow mentally. I’m not going to lie… I was pretty upset, it did affect my comp prep for a week because I kept asking myself. What am I really fighting for and why was I so moody, brooding and upset. Almost like Jon Snow when he broods but without the fur coat.

But I remembered, for the first 10 years I was competing, I had NO sponsors and I still did well. I still managed to hold my own on the international stage. It dawned on me that “Nothing Lasts Forever” and while I may be simmering and raging inside. It made me want to excel even more. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being a whiny little bitch complaining “Why does this happen to me??? Bla bla bla”. I was truly appreciative of what they have provided me for the past 5 years but good times don’t last forever. And this my friends is the harsh reality of life.

This could also probably be one of the best things to ever happen to me. For one simple reason that I am now responsible for my own goals and it just lit a fire in me to achieve my set goals. “Success is not glamorous, its a lot of hours in darkness alone”. This phrase was probably the most apt during that point. This was probably one of the darker periods of my life and I did felt alone but nobody died from a lack of sponsorship or nobody even cares about how I feel. Overcoming adversity is life, because nothing will actually go to plan you just have to adapt, flow and basically suck it up!

All I am going to focus on is me doing well and showing up on competition day. Make sure I give my best and give everything that I got.


Balance (Work, Family, Relationships and Training)

I’m going to be really upfront and honest here… I still struggle with finding balance even after 15 years of competing. But as each year goes it seems to get really difficult, never easier. It gets difficult because being an athlete competing at the highest level of competition puts a tremendous strain on pretty much everything in your life. You become cranky on rest days, you become grumpy when you are not getting in your meals or you become a complete asshole in the gym when someone takes away your plates. Basically you just become  selfish in the self directed, cold and calculated pursuit of your goals.

All you think about is training, making sure you eat your meals, getting enough hydration, recovery, sleeping and then work. Notice how family and relationships are not mentioned.

Someone ask me before “How do you manage to keep everything together and still be doing what you do?”. The answer is simple… I sacrificed my social life, keep my family engagements to a minimum, relationships will take a back seat which means no dating (then again, I don’t event date) and definitely no late nights outs.

Mark Manson an award winning author stated that “You can’t have everything all at the same time. You can only be good one thing at a time”.

– You can’t be an athlete and maintain a blossoming relationship especially if your partner is not an athlete or doesn’t understand your needs.

– You can’t be a fully functioning person and excel in all aspects of your life because being an athlete will consume your very existence.

– You can’t be an athlete and run a growing business, sure your business will still run but it will run to break even.

– You can’t be an athlete and have full time 9-5 or shift job these would just suck your soul dry.

Like I say… This is just coming from experience and in the event that these does not apply to you. Then you my friend are at outlier and I am truly envious of you and I would love to sit down and pick your brains.

So what balance actually mean? Human existence is all about balance and equilibrium to our lives, but the athlete life is rather extreme we abuse ourselves day in and day out during training. We eat the same food, we keep our relationships on hold or add strain to it, we keep every single thing to a routine and when our routine is disrupted we get frustrated. So what is this balance are we talking about.

But the reality is this… While we seek out balance, perhaps this madness, this way of living or this life we chose as an athlete is our very definition of balance. We are not average joes or the weekend warrior. These societal rules do not apply to us. We define what balance is for us and yours will be different from mine. But that being said, winning a medal or world title does not make you a better husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, cousin or human being. It is just a testament of your hard work and consistent effort. At the end of the day you want to go home and celebrate this achievement with your loved ones, family, friends and close circle of friends.

Don’t be that person who gave up everything and everyone just for vanity, world or regional title and a $20 medal. Make time for people that matter, appreciate those around you and most importantly be relentless in your goals but kind to those around you.

If you are prepping for a competition and neck deep in comp prep. Keep on moving forward and persevere. Nobody achieved greatness by quitting but remember to always find your balance and make time for the important stuff or people in your life.

In the meantime train hard and stay injury free. I look forward to seeing everyone on the platform at the Static Monsters World Championships 2018!

Training to Be Stronger

By | motivation, Strongman, Tip Tuesdays | 2 Comments

Training to be Stronger

This month for “Tip Tuesdays” and since my sport is on strength and moving heavy stuff. I will focus on tips and tricks that I use to get stronger and be competition ready for those of you who are prepping for a powerlifting, strongman or any strength competition in the near future focusing on training to be stronger. This is the program that works for me. Feel free to try it out and let me know how it works for you.

But before we do that. I’m going to debunk a myth of strength training from my own experience,  what I’ve learnt from my coaches and athletes who are bigger and stronger than me.

Myth: You need to lift heavy weights all the time to get stronger
Truth: Yes. But you do NOT need to lift heavy weights all the time.

So when people ask me “What muscle do you train when you do a deadlift?”. First reaction is to slap the person silly but not everyone is a gym rat or an athlete so I tend to keep it in and smile and respond to the best that I can.

So which brings to the real question…

Does lifting heavy make you stronger? Yes it definitely does because more weights you lift/move you will incorporate more than one muscle. And when you incorporate and activate more muscles from different parts of your body that would have an instantaneous by-product which is strength. But the real question would be are you performing and executing the lifts with good form and proper technique?

But lifting heavy to get stronger is not enough! Let’s just be upfront and honest, while in my younger lifting days 15 to 20 years ago. All I want to do is be the biggest and strongest guy in the gym and lift more weights than everyone else just because I could. This approach to training had both positive and negative outcomes getting  stronger which is a huge positive but mainly this approach caused me more negative effects which were feeling burned out, tired of the gym and getting stuck in a plateau.

So let’s cover and break this article into a two parts

Lifting heavy and lifting in general

Plan a training cycle in 6 to 8 weeks period where you aim to achieve a certain weight you want to lift safely. And if you are planning to go heavy or “Beast Mode” all day and every day. Just stop and re-evaluate your training goals. Firstly because a “Beast Mode” program is not sustainable. You will be doing more harm to your body, you want to be lifting for a life time

So here is me sharing with you my very own lifting program that I use to prepare for my competitions.

My lifting program includes

Max Weight Day
An example of my Max day Lifting program would be as below
40% x 5 reps x 2 sets (Warm Up)
50% x 5 reps x 2 sets (Warm Up)
60% x 5 reps
70% x 4 reps
80% x 3 reps x 2 to 3 sets (Working Sets)
50% x 20 reps

On a Max Weight Lifting day it should not exceed more than 10 sets in total, if you are feeling strong enough for that day you can go up to 90% of your 1RM for 2-3 reps. I like to do a 20 reps finisher just to flood my muscles with blood. This at times can be a questionable life decision.

Maximum Repetitions Days
An example of my Max Repetition Lifting program would be as below
30% x 20 reps x 2 sets (Warm Up)
40% x 15 reps x 2 sets
50% x 12 reps x 3 sets
60% x 8 – 10 reps x 3 sets
65% x 6 – 8 reps x 2 – 3 sets

Repetitions days are never meant to exceed 65% of your 1RM and a maximum of 12-13 sets inclusive of warm ups. You might want to rest longer between sets because this could be mentally demanding.

Speed / Dynamic Days
50% x 2 reps x 10 to 12 sets (1 minute per set)

Many athletes and gym rats underestimate Dynamic lifts. “Oh it’s so easy! Just 2 reps!”. Trust me after the 7th set you will be asking doubting why did you start in the first place!

So here is me being awesome and sharing with you how my own 1 month program looks like

Monday Presses and Overheads Tuesday Deadlifts Wednesday Thursday Squats Friday Strongman Training Day
Week 1 Technique Max Reps Rest Dynamic Max Weight
Week 2

Max Reps

Dynamic Rest Technique Dynamic
Week 3

Dynamic

Technique Rest Max Reps Max Weight
Week 4 Deload Deload Rest Deload

Dynamic

My rest day is fixed on Wednesday because I am unable to train 3 days in a row because of the physical and mental drain on my central nervous system (CNS) that my training programs puts me through. I’ve tried training 3 days is a row and it was just dangerous as I felt tired, lousy and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind. Be safe not sorry… these are the things that you tend to pick up from experience over the years.

Technique and Form

Lifting heavy in the gym is an awesome sight to behold where you can see guys in the gym squatting over 240kg with perfect form. You know when the guy is lifting because the whole gym goes quiet just to observe and see what’s going on. Lifting heavy with terrible form is dangerous and if you need someone to bail you out in the middle of a repetition, chances are you are NOT strong enough! Drop the weight and complete your set safely.

While ego lifting may attract attention it does NOT do anything for your safety (Trust me guys… You don’t attract the ladies with bellowing, shouting and groaning with every ego lifting repetition, all you attract are “gym-bros” who gives you high-fives and that’s about it).

Technique and form when performing the lifts are crucial it sets apart the difference between going home for dinner or being hospitalized and having dinner on the bed being served to you by a nurse! So how do you execute a lift with proper form and technique?

Learn from the best! There are many strength coaches in our sunny island. It seems nowadays there are also many “Online Coaches” too who will write your programs. Personally I have nothing against them but as much as there are quality and credible “online coaches”. There are just as many bogus ones. Make sure you do your own research BUT nothing beats a coach by your side with his watchful eyes watching over you like a hawk. I’ve been lifting and competing for many years and I still have a coach.

In my next article on training, I would be covering the importance of accessory work and managing your plateaus.
Being strong is NOT easy and you have to put in the hours, time, effort, dedication and love into being Strong. It’s a choice that you make giving up is not one of them!

And if you are looking to get stronger and need help for coaching. Click Here to find out more…

In the meantime enjoy lifting! Be strong, lift smart and stay injury free!

Ahmad Taufiq
Team Optimum Nutrition Strongman Athlete