The fundamentals of the Push/Pull Days

Stefan - Push/Pull Article - SupplementCentral.com

One of my favorite ways to train the upper body is to have push/pull days or agonist/antagonist days. The benefits of this type of training are

– Increase in strength and size gains

– Muscular balance

– Efficient workouts

Weighted Dips - Stefan - SupplementCentral.comThe key to this type of training is to pair two exercises together that train similar planes of motion. For example, with military press you are pressing straight overhead with your elbows locked out, and pull-ups have you starting with locked out arms and ending the movement in a similar position as the starting position for military press (the obvious difference is that the concentric and eccentric phases of each movement are opposites of one another).

Another example would pairing bench press and bent over rows together. With bench press, you face the ceiling and bent over rows face the floor. The prime movers and stabilizers in a bench press are the antagonistic muscles during a row and vice versa. When doing these sets you want to perform them as alternating sets, not to be confused with super-setting. Do a set of bench, rest 2-3 mins, then do a set of rows, rest 2-3 mins and then repeat. Working “opposite” movements in this way has proven to increase pressing strength.

The same pairs can be made with dips and inverted rows, dumbbell overhead pressLat Pulldown - Stefan - SupplementCentral.com and lat pull downs, incline press and incline pull machine, back flys and chest flys, bicep curls and rope pull downs, and any other exercises that share planes of motion.

From a bodybuilder’s perspective, this type of training ensures that your muscle groups are treated equally, helping to achieve a balanced and symmetrical physique. From an athletic perspective, this type of training can help prevent muscle imbalances or postural issues that can occur by having strength imbalances between the anterior and posterior chains. Being too “press heavy”, for example, can cause you to slouch forward and thus mess with your movement mechanics or cause back pain.

The third benefit of this type of training is that your workouts will be efficient and allow you to get a ton of work done in a shorter amount of time. Instead of crushing your chest with every exercise known to man, the push/pull method gives your chest longer breaks between sets while activating antagonistic muscles that can assist in the following sets.

When applying this to your training week, chest and back (horizontal pushes/pulls) work great together as do vertical presses and pulls. Remember to focus on your bigger lifts like bench press and military press before accessory movements like chest flys and shoulder raises. And last but not least, remember to train like a legend!

– Stefan Lundberg
Legends of Pittsburgh Training 

THE “HYOOOGE” CHEST FORMULA

Sam Hall - HYOOGE Chest Formula - SupplementCentral.com

Warm up

– 2 sets flat bench of 135

– 2 sets increased weight for 10-12 reps

– 2 sets heavy weight 4-6 reps

• Drop set 8-10 reps

• Drop set 10-12 reps

• Cool down 135 for 15-20 reps

Now that you’re warmed up, time to grow that stubborn upper chest!

INCLINE BENCH OR HAMMER STRENGTH

Sam Hall - Hammer Strength - SupplementCentral.com

During this exercise keep your body supported by arching your lower back slightly.

6 sets total for maximum growth/pump

• Warm up set 15 reps

• Increase the weight for 10-12 reps

• Increase again for 6-8 reps

• Heavy set for 4-6 reps

• Drop sets 10-12 and then 12-15

Now time for the Ronnie Coleman LOWER CHEST DEVELOPMENT

• DECLINE HAMMER STRENGTH OR FLAT BENCH (preferably if your gym has a decline hammer strength).

• Four heavy sets starting with 10-12 reps

• Increasing weight for 6-8 2x

• One final max weight set for 6 reps

TIME TO PUMP YOU UP!

RESISTANCE PREACHER CURL DUMBBELL FLIES – THE GAME CHANGER!

*MUST HAVE A TRAINING PARTNER OR A SPOT FOR THIS EXERCISE*

Sam Hall - Resistance Preacher Curl Dumbbell Flies - SupplementCentral.com

• Warm up set with light weight Dumbbells for 15 reps

• Increase dumbbell weight for 10 reps with resistance on every single rep

• Another set of 10 with heavier Dumbbells and resistance

• Last set with heavier Dumbbells for 8 reps

Finish your workout with cable flyes. 5 sets 20 reps.

Sam Hall - Chest Flies - SupplementCentral.com

Finally take your best chest day picture and hashtag #SCSam for a shout out. If you didn’t take a gym swolfie, did you even workout?

– Sam Hall
Bodybuilder, Writer, Sponsored Athlete
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Everyday should be LEG DAY

Double Squat - Everyday should be Leg Day - SupplementCentral.com

Leg day. One day out of the week that you absolutely crush your legs via squats, lunges, calf raises, leg extensions, leg curls, leg press, and the awkward adductor/abductor machine that gynecologists probably use in their office. The split routine of “leg day”, “chest day”, “back day”, etc is the most common way of training in the fitness world. And unfortunately this idea of isolating each body part on certain days out of the week creeps its way into athlete programming at the high school, collegiate, and even professional level.

The truth is that training your muscles to act in isolation and through motions that have no direct correlation to athletic movement is counterproductive. Not only will this training have limited carryover into athletic performance, but will inevitably lead to injury. Spending countless sets on hamstring curls and leg extensions, for example, teaches your muscles to act on their own instead of in unison like they do during sports.

It’s no big secret that the legs are the biggest asset to athletes—controlling running speed, jumping power, force production, and ground contact force for quick cuts and turns. Why, then, would you want to train your legs once a week and with many exercises that don’t help you out on the field, court, or rink?

To understand the importance of training legs multiple times a week, let’s examine some of the skills necessary for athletic performance.

– Strength
– Power
– Balance
– Agility
– Flexibility
– Endurance

Let’s break each component down. Strength comes in many forms and can be expressed through a variety of exercises. Athletic movement in sports is always some variation of squats, deadlifts, lunges, and olympic lifts. The mechanics of deadlift, for example, begins with the hip hinge. Working from the top down, the deadlift teaches the athlete to eccentrically load up the hamstrings in the same way they are loaded during a jump. A hang clean is the next progression from this hip hinge and is an actual expression of power and force.  Like jumping, a clean takes an athlete into triple extension of the ankles, knees, and hips. Lunging, among other things, builds power off a single leg that comes into play with sprinting and jumps off of a single leg.

Power. As stated already, lifts like the hang clean and snatch teach an athlete how to create force and power as well as absorb it. Improving these lifts means a more powerful first step, a harder kick, a bigger jump, and a harder hit. And because it teaches you how to absorb force, it’s a way to prevent injuries as well.

Balance. There’s no better balance training than learning how to squat twice your body weight through the full range of motion. Not to mention the core stability and balance required in overhead squats, front squats, cleans, and snatches.

Agility can be improved through various running drills and sprints, and also through the use of plyometrics. Box jumps, broad jumps, split jumps, and squat jumps are your friends. So start using them!

Flexibility. Again, clean, snatch, squat, lunge, and deadlift through your full range of motion. Seated calf raises won’t do “squat” for you. You can also do active stretching and mobility work which Mike Whiteman covered in a previous article, “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

Endurance. The ultimate bang for your buck endurance exercises are prowler sprints, sled sprints, resisted sprints, and good old fashion body weight sprints. The metabolic carryover is unmatched. Doing a burnout set of 20 leg presses can’t compare.

Sled Pulls - Legends of Pittsburgh - SupplementCentral.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So now that you’ve seen how each component of an athlete is improved, does it still make sense to dedicate one day to training legs? Here is a sample training week for legs.

Monday:

Snatches

Back squat

Box jumps

Walking lunges

Wednesday:

Clean and jerk

Deadlift

Broad jumps

Front squat

Friday:

Back squat

Split jumps

Split squats

Saturday:

Snatch

Clean and jerk

Prowler sprints

I’m a fan of having my clients combine their strength movements with their jumps, creating something called a complex. For example, let’s say you were doing 5×5 back squats. After each set of squats hit a set of 3-5 box jumps. This type of training fires up your nervous system and allows you to hit all aspects of the strength/power curve.

At the end of the day, the legs give the athlete their strength, speed, and power. But even if you weren’t an athlete, why would you only use the muscle building, testosterone producing, metabolic effects of squats and deadlifts once a week? Always remember what we say here at Legends of Pittsburgh FitnessYou can’t spell “legends” without “legs”!

– Stefan Lundberg
Legends of Pittsburgh Training 

Ain’t Got No Time for Percentages! The Bulgarian Training Method

Front Squat - Bulgarian Method - SupplementCentral.com

What is it?

Bulgarian training principles are simple and very intuitive in nature.  If you want to get strong you need to lift heavy as frequently as possible.  Ivan Abadjiev championed this very philosophy and in the process created a weightlifting world super power with a country that had a population of less than 8 million.  Abadjiev pushed his Bulgarian lifters to maximum snatches, clean and jerks, and front squats multiple times a day.  As result, the Bulgarian system has become synonymous with maximum efforts and very little assistance work.

Why is it effective?

The human body is resilient and will adapt to stresses placed upon it.  We know that in competitive lifting sports such as weightlifting or powerlifting the highest adaptation occurs at percentages over 85% of one’s maximum. If your goal is to lift maximum weights in either of these two sports you must do most of your training at near maximal loads.  The more the training, the more adaptation the bigger the weights!!!

Mike Overhead - Bulgarian Method - SupplementCentral.com

Who should use it?

Athletes that want to get crazy strong with at least a few good years of strength training experience to ensure that ligaments and tendons have pre requisite strength levels to sustain such demanding loading.  IF YOU ARE A NOVICE THIS IS NOT FOR YOU!

Also, if you’re doing this for looks or bodybuilding this is also not for you. Taking max singles and doubles daily do not provide the time under tension necessary to grow cross sectional area of muscle or sustain muscular hypertrophy.

How it should be used?

Follow how your body feels!  I cannot stress this enough!  You will not be able to PR every day, even if your one of Abadjiev’s “enhanced” lifters.  Sometimes ya got it, some days you don’t .  Being able to distinguish between good and bad days is huge, push it on good days back off on bad ones.

If it is crazy power and strength you seek quit messing with percentages and quit worrying about overtraining! Got off the couch, turn off Sports Center, get some coffee and get your ass to the gym and train hard!

Until next time, stay juiced!

Mike Whiteman
Host of the Fast and Jacked Podcast
Instagram @get_juiced77
Twitter @get_JUICED77 

Accessory work – are you doing too much or too little?

Stefan Lundberg - Squat 1 - SupplementCentral.com

Let’s start with what accessory work is. By definition it’s the exercises that help increase your main lifts. Your main lifts should be squat, deadlift, bench press, overhead press, bent-over rows, snatches, clean and jerks, and any other variation of these. These are the “biggest bang for your buck” lifts that target your largest muscle groups and have the greatest effect on your nervous system (which helps dictate strength and size gains).

In the world of training athletes, there’s been a growing trend of putting assistance work over the meat and potatoes of what makes an athlete strong—-I.e. the lifts listed above. It’s all fallen under the brand of “functional training.” So-called strength coaches would rather teach their athletes to balance on a stability ball or do fancy core exercises than have them squat and deadlift. The same can be said about the emphasis put into single leg/arm development over the training of engine building exercises like hang cleans and snatches. Don’t get me wrong—single leg exercises like lunges, split squats, pistol squats, Turkish getups etc. are very important to athletes, but should not be programmed in 4x a week while back squats, cleans, and deadlifts show up once a week or less. Simply put, multi-joint, compound movements like the squat, deadlift, and power clean have a direct translation into athletic prowess and full body strength that can’t be replicated through single leg kettlebell deadlifts and bosu ball squats. No amount of fancy balance and core training is going to give you the full body balance and core stability you get from learning to squat 300lbs ass to grass. If you aren’t convinced, ask yourself if you’d rather be hit by the 140lb guy who can squat on a stability ball holding your mom’s Pilates ring or the lineman that squats 450lbs and cleans 315?

Stefan Lundburg training kids - SupplementCentral.com

Now that I’ve made you doubt accessory work let me tell you why it’s vital to your training. Simply put, accessory work helps to target your weaknesses so that the whole body works in sync and harmony. Weak or inflexible shoulders may hinder your ability to properly accept and stabilize the bar in the catch position of a snatch. Simply trying to add more weight to the bar won’t address this issue because you will most likely continue to fail at the lift. An accessory movement like snatch grip push press, for example, would help you build up your shoulder strength and become more comfortable with the bar overhead. Furthermore, if you find you lose positioning easily throughout your clean, pause cleans at various positions can address your posture issues and allow you to become more comfortable in the various positions by strengthening the stabilizers that each position relies on.

As an athlete, your body has left and right imbalances that can’t always be corrected in multi-joint exercises like the squat or bench press. The use of assistance work through pistol squats, Turkish getups, one armed presses and rows, etc. will address these imbalances in addition to building power off a single leg or arm which is vital in virtually every sport. Furthermore, total body strength means a balanced body. Doing presses all the time without proper back work, for example, would cause an imbalance in your structure that would inevitably lead to injuries. As a soccer player, we typically have overdeveloped quads which leads to hamstring injuries. So from a functioning standpoint, you need to work all the muscles you have. And from an aesthetics standpoint, who wants to be the dude that everyone jokes about “skipping leg day”?

In summary, there’s a fine line between too much accessory work and not enough. To simplify your program, make sure the big lifts (squat, deadlift, overhead press, cleans, snatches, etc) formulate the core of your exercises. Address your weaknesses and program in accessory work that will enhance your main lifts.

Here are some of our favorite assistance exercises here at Legends of Pittsburgh

Fitness Tips:

For squat improvement  – walking lunges

For deadlift improvement – glute-ham raises and good mornings

For bench press improvement – hit antagonistic muscles through lat pulldowns, bent-over rows, and band pull aparts

Overhead press/push press/jerk press improvement – turkish get-ups, hand-stands, kettlebell bottoms-up presses

Snatch improvement – snatch-grip press and overhead squats

Clean improvement – clean pulls, front squats, broad jumps

Train like a legend, become a legend!

– Stefan Lundberg
Legends of Pittsburgh Training