How to be a Great Training Partner

Training Part Feat

Good training partners are perhaps the most underestimated piece of the training equation. You can have all of the best possible equipment, the ultimate training plan, and all the potent gains-inducing supplements in the world and you’re still going to miss out on a host of benefits that good training partners provide. For some people the training partner is the lynchpin, because without one, they won’t show up to train at all.

Here’s how you can be a great training partner:

 1. Show Up

A training partner who cancels or doesn’t show up to train is worse than not having one at all. At least if you’re used to flying solo you’re not doing anything different than usual, but when you’re expecting a partner it is totally demotivating to have them skip their workout and have to do it on your lonesome. Being someone’s training partner is a duty you accept and you have responsibilities that go with that. Show up.

2. Know When to Encourage and When to STFU

A good training partner is not an incessant cheerleader constantly hyping you up and telling you that you can do it no matter what. Sometimes some encouragement and hype is appropriate. Sometimes it’s best to shut the fuck up and let someone focus on what they’re doing. Know when to do each and pay attention to social cues.

3. Challenge by Asking

One of the most powerful phrases you can use is “Can I do that?” This simple question has transformed the training of many people. But almost as powerful is “Can you do that?” The best training partner I ever had was someone who had such an intimate knowledge of the spectrum of difficulty in strength feats that he was always able to ask “can you do that?” of the next progression I was capable, or almost capable of. This drove my training forward in a way that I’ve never before or since experienced. Challenging your training partners to perform new feats or reach new PRs by asking the question of them is one of the very best ways a partner can improve the training environment.

4. Leave Your Partner Better

This one is a little nebulous and vague, but stay with me. Ultimately your goal needs to be that when your training partner(s) leave the gym they are better than when they came, and not just from the strength session. If they leave burdened with or annoyed by your life problems that you foisted onto them during the training session, well, you screwed up. That’s not to say you can’t hash out issues during your lift, just make sure you’re respectful about it and that they leave better because they were able to help or because you canned it before things got out of control. Another example would be when training partners have major discrepancies in strength levels. You don’t have to be at the same level of strength or ability, but you don’t get to gloat about it or be a dick – everyone has to leave better. Manners go a long way in this department, such as pick up after yourself  and not leaving it to your partner. Offer words of encouragement or praise, make them feel better.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Training partners can make or break your training. Do your part to be a great training partner and you’ll reap the benefits many times over.

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Using Biofeedback in Competition

Using biofeedback in training has distinct, proven advantages over other methods of training that do not incorporate auto-regulation, or adapting the stimulus to the state of the system. Biofeedback essentially allows you to get more out of your training at a lower cost in terms of stress and recovery. The long-term benefits of this should be obvious in reducing injuries and maximizing progress. Training is often like the fable of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady gains beat short intense bursts of progress followed by long recovery from injury.

But, it’s not as obvious how biofeedback can be used in the competition context to win.

There are two main ways to use it that I have used myself and in athletes I coach.

1. Selecting Movement Variations

Even in the sport of powerlifting, which has a fairly limited range of options for how you can legally perform a lift, there are still quite a few options. You can squat high-bar or low-bar, wide stance or narrow, ass to grass or just below parallel and so on. In the bench press you can vary your grip, foot placement, and bar path among other things. In the deadlift you’ve got two main stances to choose from, everything in between, as well as smaller variations like round-back or not.

All of these things can be tested.

In her most recent meet my wife, Jen Sinkler, made a last-minute switch to a conventional stance from a poorly-testing sumo stance. The result? A roughly 60-pound PR in her conventional stance that she hadn’t been training in years, a 2.5kg lifetime competition PR in the deadlift, a Minnesota state record, and a meet win. Oh, and a 364 pound deadlift.

Results may not always be this dramatic, but when faced with a choice you may be given an opportunity to select the best-testing movement for your body that day. Doing so, in my experience, is virtually guaranteed to result in the best possible result with the least chance of injury when you’re inherently testing the absolute limits of your body.

2. Potentiating Other Movements

Movement that tests well has a striking effect: It potentiates, or increases the output of, all other movement. To put that another way, you could take the output or quality of any given movement as your metric, do a movement that tests well, and then do the first movement again and it will be better. That’s just how it works. In fact, that’s the principle that the ROM or grip testing is based on: if you do something that tests well, you will get more from the ROM or grip.

How can you use this?

In between competitive events that may or may not test well – that part is irrelevant – you can do movements that you know test well. This can be informed from your previous training and knowing what works for your body, or it can be from movements that are components or opposites of the movement you’re competing in. Two examples:

  • In grip competitions when every last tenth of a kilogram matters I would often do movements that test well for me, rows and deadlifts (no load, just the movement) primarily, in between the grip events.  In some contests this has been the difference between making the next weight jump and not making it at all.
  • This last meet that Jen competed in her back was pretty tight after the bench press. She doesn’t have great extension, and the extreme arch in the bench probably didn’t test well for her. Before the deadlift, a lift where extension is required, I had her doing some one-hand reverse extensions which test exceptionally well for her. It’s impossible to quantify how much this helped in such a big lift, but it instantly made her back feel closer to normal.

In short, a quick and easy “hack” to increase your movement quality in ALL the movements you do is to do a few reps of something that tests well. You can almost think of it as a sub-micro training session that makes you instantaneously better – the same idea we’re going for in training over the long term.

Preparation Meets Opportunity

A few movements that test well aren’t going to make up for a lack of training, a lack of preparedness, or a lack of capability. It’s not magic. But when you bring a complete package of training and preparedness to the competition, biofeedback can still help you on game day to put it all together and maximize your potential.

Biofeedback For The Literal Win

Read how to use Biofeedback in Competition

It was the middle of last week and I was worried. I just happened to be walking by the door to the training floor at The Movement Minneapolis at the exact moment that my wife, Jen Sinkler, took a pull on a heavily loaded bar, barely broke it off the ground, and then knelt on the ground behind it. I did a double take, took two steps back into the doorway, and said: “What was that?”

“Oh, ahh, nothing, totally fine,” came her response.

It did not look fine to me.

One thing I know about Jen is that she doesn’t show, or even admit, for that matter, weakness when it comes to competition – and the powerlifting contest she had been training for was a mere five days away. I asked about it later and was met with more insistence that everything was fine and that her “hip flexors were just tight.”

I didn’t give it any more thought until six of nine lifts were in the books and Jen was going into the deadlift with a 2.5-kilogram lead against her arch rival. It’s also worth mentioning that because of a rule change in weight classes, any records broken at this meet would have their holder’s names in the Minnesota state record books forever. She already held the squat record and she was going for the deadlift and total record.

But her hips were in pain. She pulled a little over 138 kg (305 pounds) in her normal competition sumo stance in the warm-up area and it was suspiciously slow and effortful.

To even maintain her lead, she was going to have to deadlift something equal to or greater than her previous meet lifetime PR of 162.5 kg (358.2 pounds), and her rival was opening 7.5 kg (roughly 16 pounds) higher than she was. She needed big pulls, and she wasn’t looking to be in any kind of shape to pull big.

“It’s really hurting my hip flexors at the bottom of the pull now,” she said.

On a hunch, I asked, “How does conventional test?”

Even the best of us forget the basics sometimes, and Jen hadn’t considered questioning her premise that sumo was her best competition stance. She took a few seconds to run through the testing protocol and discovered that sumo tested terribly, while conventional tested extremely well. She went back to the 138 kg bar, pulled it conventional, and tested. Not only did the weight fly up, but it tested extremely well.

Jen walked out onto the platform and confidently pulled 147.5 kg (325 pounds), then 160 kg (353 pounds), and then 165 kg (364 pounds) to seal a lifetime deadlift PR, the state deadlift record, the total record, the middleweight win, and the meet’s best lifter award. Her rival pulled 162.5 kg (358 pounds), a pull that would have likely given her the win, resulting in her name in the record book, had Jen not switched her style of deadlifting that day.

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Up to that point there were many factors to thank for getting her there. Chad Wesley Smith’s Juggernaut programming, which had a squat emphasis, put 15 kg on her total. Advice from some other badass female lifters helped her cut a few pounds and make her weight class. Her lifting partners provided encouragement and support to keep her training consistent.

But none of that would have mattered had she not tested her movement before stepping out on the platform. She had been doing too much of the same thing, she was in pain, and there is no way she would have pulled a lifetime PR deadlift in that condition. She may have even injured herself.

Biofeedback for the win, indeed.

You know, it’s funny, every once in a while some jackass, thinking they’re finding a flaw in the system, will ask me, “Well, what if something doesn’t test well on meet day, do you just tell them you can’t lift that day?” And the answer is, no, you step out on the platform and you do what you have to do no matter what – because it’s competition. But, if you can adjust your game and make better decisions because of biofeedback, then you’re not at a disadvantage: instead, you’re gaining a massive competitive advantage.

This isn’t the first time I’ve seen this play out, but it is certainly one of the most dramatic.

And, it came as a wonderful punctuation to last week’s Off The Floor anniversary sale that ended this weekend. (I extended it for a couple days because of Jen’s victory.)

Ultimately, if you’ve been on the fence about biofeedback testing, I want you to ask yourself if you’re going to question your premises or stay where you are.

If you already have been testing and following your body, then I have a challenge for you: what things are you not questioning that could get you better results?

The quality of your answers depends on the quality of your questions.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who picked up OTF last week. Your support means the world to me, and allows me to continue doing what I love and providing great information.

Better Biofeedback Pull-up Program

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Ask almost any coach who has been around for a while how to do more pull-ups and they’ll likely mention Pavel’s Fighter Pull-Up program. And for good reason, because it’s a great program that hinges on a fundamental tenet of many good training programs: high-frequency of training at sub-maximal intensities.

For those unfamiliar with the program the idea is to take your best max pull-up set, do a maximal set, and then do about 4 drop-off sets of fewer reps each. You may only do 3 drop-off sets just dropping a rep each set, or you may do up to 5 more sets dropping 5 reps per set all depending on what your total rep max is. Someone who can do 25 reps is going to need more of a drop-off than someone who can do 5.

But, it could be better.

The problem with the Fighter Pull-up program is that it’s essential a linear progression distress training program. Another way to say that is that you have to hit a certain number of reps and you’re expected to always be increasing that number and if you don’t the whole thing falls apart. The instructions for what to do if you don’t hit the prescribed reps is literally: “If you run into a snag with this routine, back off a week and build up again. If you hit the wall again switch to another routine.” So if it doesn’t work, do something else. Duh.

I’d like to present to you the Better Biofeedback Pull-up Program. This program is both a great introduction to biofeedback training keeping it simple and to just one exercise, as well a more advanced and smarter way to approach pull-up training. I’ve used this exact method with countless clients, and myself, to increase my pull-up strength and ability.
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P.S. If you want a full biofeedback-based training program you need to check out my deadlifting program, Off The Floor, which is on sale for HALF OFF this week only until Friday at midnight. It has been upgraded and expanded since the original release, and I’ve got some awesome prizes to draw for people who pick it up this week. If you’re serious about putting pounds on your deadlift, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this opportunity!

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Four Ways to Band Up Your Deadlift

Bands are like shots of flavoring in your coffee. They should be used with extreme prejudice, but when the time is right they’re exactly what you want.

I’ve got 4 ways to use bands in your deadlifting, judiciously of course. Two of them you may have seen before, but I’ll bet you haven’t seen the other two.

1) Banded DeadliftOff The Floor by David Dellanave.pdf (page 47 of 90)

This is the most common form of using a band in a deadlift. It provides an accommodating resistance that gets progressively harder as you get closer to lockout due to the stretch in the band. As an aside, I’ve never liked the term accommodating resistance for something that sure as shit doesn’t accommodate and definitely makes it harder, but I digress.

The idea behind the standard band deadlift is that because the deadlift gets easier as you get closer to lockout but weight stays constant it may be useful to make the top range of the movement more difficult. In practice I have found this to be useful when used sparingly.

My preference is to use a setup where the majority of the weight is on the bar, but you get 100 to 150 pounds of additional resistance at the top of the lockout. My band of choice is usually a thin purple Iron Woody band (like I’m giving away to one lucky purchaser of Off The Floor) on each side of the bar. I’ve measured this out and it works out to be about 100lbs depending on the specific dimensions of your setup.

A word of caution. Be extra careful on the eccentric or lowering portion. The band is going to actively pull you down in a way that gravity alone does not, and if it catches you by surprise you may be on your way to snap city.

2) Reverse Band Deadlift

Off The Floor by David Dellanave.pdf (page 49 of 90)The reverse band deadlift, perhaps not at all surprisingly, is intended to have the opposite effect of the banded deadlift. Instead of making the lockout harder, you’re getting some help in the initial portion of the pull and as you release tension from the band the weight gets heavier and gets closer to the true weight on the bar. In other words, it makes the start of the pull easier but the lockout is the same. This could allow you more total repetitions at a difficult starting weight than if you had to complete the full rep. Another advantage may be that it teaches you to have a specific load in your hands, but you’re moving it more quickly thanks to the band assistance.

For the reverse band deadlift you’ll need much heavier bands if you’re hanging them from a typical power rack. The thick green Iron Woody bands are a good starting point. In this variation you need a pretty good amount of resistance to make a significant impact on a heavily loaded barbell.

3) Front Banded Deadlift

This variation can be incredibly hard and a fantastic teaching tool. One of the biggest and most common mistakes people make with their deadlift is letting the bar drift forward away from the body. Any separation between the bar and the shins is increasing the leverage significantly. As you can probably imagine, using bands to actually forcefully put tension on that vector is going to make things pretty exciting. If you have trouble getting your lats engaged then this variation is a winner.


This works best with very light band tension – the same thin purple Iron Woody bands as in the band deadlift and you’ll want to only pull a few inches of tension into the band by backing the bar away from the rack or anchor point. I like to loop the bands around the bar first, and then use rack pins if available.

4) Solo Band Deadlift

I don’t know what else to call this so as not to confuse it with doing a barbell deadlift with bands. I want to be very clear, this is not a go-to strength builder. You’re not going to get to a triple-bodyweight pull by jumping up band sizes doing this movement. But here’s an example of when it’s really useful:

We had been in Ecuador for 4 days. After an 18 hour travel day of multiple flights, many hours in the car, and several hikes my back was really bothering me. It wasn’t injured, just the kind of annoying tension and ache that I often feel when I haven’t done some resisted hip and spinal extension (aka deadlifts) in a while. Since there was no hope of finding a barbell and plates, I was glad I had packed a couple bands. A couple sets of 15-20 later and I felt good as new.

The solo band deadlift is a travel lifesaver. Bands take up very little space and are versatile exercise tools besides the use for deadlifts. Here’s how I set it up:

P.S. If you like this post, you should know that even more useful information just like it is in my book, Off The Floor which is on sale for HALF OFF this week only until Friday at midnight. It has been upgraded and expanded since the original release, and I’ve got some awesome prizes to draw for people who pick it up this week. If you’re serious about putting pounds on your deadlift, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this opportunity!

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The Weirdest Deadlift You Should Be Testing

For the past few years I’ve been something of a prophet for the Jefferson deadlift. It’s weird to be specifically known for one odd lift, but I think it’s for good reason. The fact is that I tell people about or show people the Jefferson lift, they try it out, and they find that it fulfills a clear need or lacking in their training. I have dozens and dozens of emails, tweets, and Facebook messages from people who have alleviated back pain or gotten stronger than ever before thanks to introducing the Jefferson.

When it comes to explaining why the Jefferson is so great the biggest reason that it’s useful is exactly that it isn’t a conventional sumo deadlift. Here’s what it’s not:

  • Symmetrical – one side of the body takes more load than the other.
  • Sagittal-plane dominant – you’re not moving straight up and down or forward and backwards.
  • Linear – it’s impossible to perform without some degree of rotation.

As a result it changes everything about the movement and how it applies to the body. Your tissue is stressed in completely different ways and, well, based on results this seems to work incredibly well for people.

But this post isn’t about the Jefferson.

I’ve got a lift I want you to test that is in many ways even stranger than the Jefferson and is sure to rustle even more jimmies.

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The lift I want you to test is the Behind the Back Deadlift, or Hack Lift. (Not to be confused with the Hack Squat which generally starts at the top with the bar being lowered to the floor. No, I want you to pick it up off the floor.)

Here’s a good Behind the Back Lift:

And here’s a fucking great lift. This guy is a freak show:

Why though? What is good about this lift?

I derive most of my assessment of the usefulness and validity of lifts not from theoretical biomechanics or from ideology about how things should be but from informed experience. I get to watch people move in the gym every day and observe what works. Better still, through biofeedback testing I am able to observe how people move as well as how their body responds to the stimulus. Here’s what I’ve found about the Behind the Back Deadlift:

When people come in who have been doing a lot of saggital-plane, symmetrical, linear movements (conventional deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, cleans, snatches) often times more of this type of movement won’t test well. Sometimes even Jefferson doesn’t test well.

But Behind the Back Deadlift does.

Often enough that I’m almost guaranteed to look like a genius when nothing seems to be testing well and I can with a wave of the hand offer BTBDL and it tests well.

I can’t prove it, but my hunch is that this weird looking deadlift tests so well because it’s the exact opposite of the movements people are doing so much of. Whereas in nearly every deadlift the load is anteriorally biased, the Behind the Back Deadlift is posteriorally loaded with the weight well behind the heels.

It’s an opposition movement – something that almost invariably tests well when you’ve gone too far in one direction.

Here’s how to do it, directly from Off The Floor:

Off The Floor by David Dellanave.pdf (page 33 of 90)

If you watch videos of heavy BTBDLs you will notice an odd pattern to the movement where the knees have to come forward about mid-lift. This is normal and to be expected.  You’re not doing it wrong because that’s happening.

One note about a variation that is useful for restoring extension function as well as rotation: Use only one weight, such as a kettlbell, in one hand. This allows the body to make up for some of the lack of extension with some rotation, and it tests really well for people.

Ultimately you may not need or want to pursue insane levels of strength in this lift and that’s fine. BUT, having it in the back of your mind to test when other things aren’t working well or when you feel like you want an alternative just gives you one more direction to make progress in.

P.S. Off The Floor is on sale for HALF OFF this week only until Friday at midnight. It has been upgraded and expanded since the original release, and I’ve got some awesome prizes to draw for people who pick it up this week. If you’re serious about putting pounds on your deadlift, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this opportunity!

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Off The Floor Anniversary Update and Sale

Espressos, deadlifts, and progress have one major thing in common: I like to enjoy them everyday.

The latter two are what I want to bring to your attention today. Having spent the last year collecting testimonials and feedback on the original program, last week I finished up a massive update on my magnum opus for the world: Off The Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination.

While I was extremely happy with how the first iteration was received, like making progress on my own deadlift, I wasn’t happy leaving the program static. So I took the feedback I got over the past year and made the program even better.

To celebrate the update — and anniversary of the original — I’ve put Off the Floor back on sale to get the program (and a heavier deadlift) in more people’s hands. Here’s what’s new for 2014:

Off The Floor now includes three made-for-you programs: beginner (8-weeks), intermediate (8-weeks), and advanced (12-weeks). Not only does the manual include a template to help you build your own program, I’ve taken all the guesswork out with pre-made programs. Better yet, the programs use biofeedback testing so the workouts are customized to you every workout. I’ve also updated the exercise glossary to include all the movements added to the new programs.

Completely new to this update is a bonus guide that is so awesome it could easily stand on its own.  Within each program you’ll see “Grip Challenge” pop up once a week. These challenges are all described in a bonus grip challenge guide with two dozen unique challenges to test you and train you. I’ve included a smorgasbord of different feats to train your pinch, crush, open-hand, support and lever grip strength — and using the foundation I’ve built, you can come up with your own challenges. Yeah, a better deadlift and better forearms are included with your purchase.

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Finally, there’s just under an hour of video content covering how to perform the main deadlift variations, with common mistakes, as well as a walk-through on biofeedback testing. With it, you’ll be able to make better adjustments to your form and position — leading to more pounds on the bar and a stronger back. The biofeedback testing video alone has been highly requested and makes this update worthwhile of its place in your training education library.

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Basically I just made a great program even better. All of these updates and additions are FREE to previous purchasers of Off The Floor. I’m going for a good guy 2014 award.

For new people who haven’t bought in yet I’m sweetening the pot: I’ve included an awesome giveaway for three lucky people that purchase Off the Floor this week through midnight on Friday, December 5th:

  • Apparel Set: HYLETE Shorts and Hoodie – $140 value
  • Deadlift Band Package: One travel band and a pair of rack Iron Woody bands – $50 Value
  • Grip Set: Captains of Crush #1, a pair each of Fat Gripz and Fat Gripz Extreme, and a Sorinex 2″ Pinch Block – $150 value

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So here’s your decision point: You can go back to doing the same thing, or you can either add pounds to your deadlift, inevitably leading to higher levels of awesomeness.

Click here if you’re ready to take on the latter with Off the Floor.

No Headphones In My Gym

It’s not like I created a rule or policy against headphones. In fact I didn’t even realize it was happening until mid-sentence when I was talking about community and the gym. No one at my gym ever wears headphones. I don’t mean generally. I mean it has literally never happened in all the years we have been open, and I think not only does it say a lot about the gym but there’s something you can learn from it.

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What do most gym floors look like? A bunch of people all in their own little zone with their headphones on going about their workouts.  I’m not saying there is anything especially wrong about this because there are plenty of lone rangers who have gotten stupid strong or super jacked training this way and enjoy every second of their solitude. But here are a few of the things they’re not doing:

  • Taking input and learning from a coach or their peers.
  • Throwing out and receiving impromptu challenges: “Hey, can you do this?”
  • Asking questions.
  • Talking through their day or about what’s on their mind.
  • Building relationships with like-minded people.
  • Encouraging others or being encouraged.

Believe me there are times when the music selection would drive any reasonable person to want to put in headphones. But they don’t, presumably because they’re getting far more out of the environment than they’d gain by going to their fortress of solitude.

This isn’t meant to be an ad for my gym, especially because I know there are tons of gyms in which you’ll never see headphones, like most Crossfits and hint-hint this is what makes it so popular. That’s not the point. The point is the environment and what it does and does not facilitate.

My question to you is – what do you get out of your gym environment? Is it the best you can do?

 

Million Pound November Challenge

Volume is the driver of strength training. Not only that, but volume is the driver of all training. You know how I get better at skydiving? Moar skydiving! Want to build more muscle? Moar volume!

MOAR

Volume is the foundation that you build all the levels above upon, as well as the mortar that goes between the bricks. While certainly not the only important metric in strength training—you can’t increase volume indefinitely, and to do so would be ignoring the other directions you can make progress in—it is immeasurably important to your progress.

The surprising truth about training volume is that most people don’t do enough of it, and most people can handle much, much more than they currently do. Don’t believe me? Add up your daily volume from your past five workouts and find the average. (Don’t have a training log? Shame on you.) My money says the over-under is 8,000 pounds and I’ll take the under.

I’ve been precisely tracking training for myself and every member of The Movement Minneapolis for over four years, and have over 500,000 rows of valuable data. Sifting through this confirms a pattern that experienced coaches will find familiar – the people who make the most progress are moving about 15,000 pounds per workout with an average weekly volume of 50,000 to 60,000 pounds.

At the risk of oversimplifying: want more strength gains and better physique improvements in less time? Do more volume.

Yes, the intensity (the absolute or relative weight you’re lifting) with which you lift matters, as does the density (pounds per minute), but both my data and the body of scientific evidence available points to the same conclusion: neither matters as much as total volume.

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Greg Nuckols discussed this phenomenon in his episode of Evil Sugar Radio. The Russians’ blunt tool to solve training problems is more volume. Based on results, this tactic seems to be working for them.

Three years ago, I took on a personal challenge to lift a million pounds of volume over the course of one month. I wrote about that experience here.

My challenge to you is to take on Million Pound November yourself. As a gym, The Movement Minneapolis has created a team challenge. Teams of members from the gym will be attacking this challenge collectively, pooling their volume to reach a total of a million or more by the end of the month.

Accomplishing this task alone is no small feat and is not for beginner or even intermediate lifters. You need both a solid foundation of strength, as well as a keen understanding of your own physiology so that you reap rewards from the challenge instead of it leaving you worse off than before.

For a bit of perspective, if you train three times per week for a total of 12 workouts, you would have to perform 83,333 pounds of volume per workout. Most people average 8,000. Training twenty times still means 50,000 pounds per workout. Training daily with occasional breaks leaves you with a more reasonable per-session volume.

Million_Pound_Hash

Here are a few suggestions of ways to tackle #MilPndNov:

  • By yourself, for the truly daring, and those who are ready for the challenge.
  • In a small team of two or three training partners as a realistic and achievable goal, as well as a target on which to focus a month of training together.
  • In a larger team of eight to 10 people, be they local or spread across the globe, to stay accountable and chip away together at a mountainous achievement.

No matter how you tackle it, the #MilPndNov will net you several rewards:

  • Setting a habit of consistently getting to the gym and putting in the work.
  • By and large, more volume equals more results. If you put in the work, your body will respond and adapt. You’ll like what happens.

A few guidelines are in order, but this isn’t a strict challenge and you’re welcome to interpret as you see fit:

  • The main drivers of training volume are the big, compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, ballistics such as swings, rows, pull-ups, and pressing. Heavy partials can massively inflate your training volume, and certainly have your place, but would skew the data. Stick to whatever variations test best for you, but don’t try to game the system by just doing partials just to rack up volume. You’re just cheating yourself. Or do, I don’t really care.
  • Be reasonable with how you count your bodyweight exercises. Unless it’s in a handstand, you’re not pushing full bodyweight in a pushup, so estimate and adjust accordingly.
  • You are the only one who stands to gain or lose here, so keep it easy and stay in a eustress state (i.e., don’t push through lifts that feel awful). Pushing to hit an external number might feed your ego, but it’ll break your body.

Throughout the month, I will provide resources to help you stay on track, keep you inspired and motivated, and also throw out the occasional door prize to keep it fun. And possibly a million pound meme or two.

dr-evil

 

How to Lift 1,066,554 Pounds Without a Crane

Several years ago in late October I decided to undertake a personal challenge. I was already planning to participate in Movember the following month, but that wasn’t the real challenge. I figured as long as I am growing a mustache I might as well attempt a heroic feat of strength that can be accomplished only by someone growing a wicked ‘stache.

I failed at one of those tasks, but I succeeded spectacularly at the other. On a cold, dark night in mid-November, I had to cut short (pun intended) my goal of growing a wild and wooly mustache because of a photo shoot that came up.

But, I did lift a lot of weight.  In fact I lifted:

399,280 lbs of Sumo Deadlifts in 1550 reps
152,989 lbs of Kettlebell Rows in 2513 reps
97,539 lbs of Push Presses in 2694 reps
51,483 lbs of Chin-Ups in 272 reps
59,220 lbs of Push-Ups in 329 reps
14,580 lbs of Pull-Ups in 81 reps

Those lifts and the many others I did added up to a grand total of 1,066,554 pounds in 22 workouts from November 1st to November 30th.  In fact, I hit the one million mark on the 27th.

I will discuss the role of volume in training a bit more in a blog post announcing something exciting tomorrow, but suffice to say that volume is one of the main drivers of strength training. If there’s one thing you can do to see better results, it’s just simply do more work.

What did this do to my body?  From November 3rd to December 5th I gained 5 inches from head to toe:

Bodyweight: +5lbs

Waist: .75″
Neck: .1″
Shoulders: .8″
Hip: 1.25″
Thigh: 1.25″
Arm (Bicep): .63″
Forearm: .5″
Chest: .25″

During this period I maintained a body fat of around 7-8%.

What did it do to my strength? I didn’t specifically test any strength quantities directly before and after, but I can tell you that a few months later I hit my best-ever triple-bodyweight deadlift of 603 at 195. In addition to that, I was over all probably the strongest I have ever been.

What did I eat?  Pretty much whatever I felt like.  A couple times we went to Axel’s Bonfire and crushed bull bites, a half a chicken, sides, and the epic chocolate chip cookie with ice cream dessert.  I probably drank 4-5 quarts of chocolate milk during the month, usually a quart at a time.

Other times I just wasn’t all that hungry, so I ate when I got hungry.  That’s it.

Supplements?  Just creatine.  Jack3d on occasion.  I don’t think I had a protein shake all month.  Maybe a couple.  Nothing worth writing home about.

Did I feel crushed all month: no.

Did I feel tired all the time: no.

Was I sore: no.

Did I get hurt? No.  (In fact, I resolved a shoulder issue that crept up beforehand.)

Every movement I did tested well and I stopped all sets before the elements of effort set in.

Would I recommend to everyone that you set an external goal: NO.  It is too easy to get focused on the goal, and break your body when you stop listening to it. (But if you do tune in, it just might be possible.)

One more thing to consider is what was going on in the rest of my life at the time that I did this. In short, very little. I was able to direct much of my ability to resolve stress towards my training because I had much less stress in other parts of my life. While none of the training was distressful, it is likely that it wasn’t because of how much extra stress I could handle. I’ve attempted this amount of volume in a month one other time and I had to shut it down because I just couldn’t handle it, so context matters.

Stay tuned for an exciting announcement tomorrow.