4 STEPS TO A BETTER DEADLIFT (Feat. Massthetics)

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There is something I am not saying.

I don’t even have a fancy way to dress this up and make it sound deep and meaningful.

So the simplistic version – I’m scaring myself…Again.

I was once a stupidly aggressive and depressed individual, with little to stop me taking it too far. I am no longer that person I am happy to say as I refuse to ever let myself fall back to where I once stood. But what I am not saying is that the person I am today, is standing on a very familiar line. I’ve known this before and it frightens me to be in such a familiar place. The aggression I feel, near everyday, is something many of you won’t be able to fathom. A relentless resentment towards the world, a resentment for having been so alone for so long, for suffering far too much, for the depression it brought me for not one single f****** hand to stop me falling.

I am angry that people are so damn ready to stop being there when you need them. That I lost friends just because I didn’t want to be average. That I had to do this alone and am not far from still being alone (one or two not to be undervalued).

It’s like I want to run from the world and yet it’s the only platform where I can become who I want to be. I aim to dedicate my life to helping others, but yet resent so incredibly much that there are not people doing the same for me. I am proud to be that guy that gives up a fairly large portion of his life, but by no means does that mean it is easy.

All of this is building at an exponential rate inside me and at moments lashes out, an anger, fear and in some ways sadness that I really do struggle to contain. I frighten myself because without my outlets, without training that drains me or a girlfriend who I physically can not explain how inexplicably kind she is and prepared to help me relax, I don’t know what state I would be in without those two things in particular.

No that’s a lie. I know exactly where I would be. That is what frightens me. This is all a bit harder than I wanted, I thought by now I would be complete new, but I suppose elements of who we are can’t just be ignored, they live with us, demons in the closet, except mine rage around my mind at times. Thank god (an expression) that I have my outlets, that I am strong enough to not falter like I once did. It’d just be nice to have a few hands out, giving me help climbing my own little hills.

Aspire to inspire – No matter what.

Okay .. now what.

I’ve reached a point that has me …befuddled (what a word).

It is in my nature to pick up new things, like a child in a toy store, explore it, learn about it, throw the damned thing away and move on.

So when it comes to ambitions I have spent a life prior to who I am today, unable to build any due to the fact I could not sustain interest in…well anything. I now have ambitions, a commitment to a lifestyle, skill set and life goals that give me great joy. However, in beginning an endeavour there are simplistic drives. the drive to become somewhat capable in the new field, to develop an understanding and grasp. Then we try to stand out in that field, once we either achieve or fail at that, it is often the end of the endeavour. No longer is this the case.

In my field of fitness I currently am experienced. I am in better physical condition than 80% ish of the population, I am stronger than more than that, more knowledgeable than more than that still. So now, well now I have to just add percentiles to my uniqueness. This is somewhat new to me. Though I consistently aim to learn about every damned thing in this world (and become somewhat capable), I am now dedicated to this one area (broad as it might be), it is required of me if I want to move forward, to work for the inches, the single efforts, the ‘by a hair’ victories.

This new mindset is something harder than most will experience. When sticking to a particular area, over time people lose interest, its no longer new, interesting, you’ve been at it for a while and support fades away. That is where I find myself. I stand with a life ahead of me, but all that stands behind me holding me up is my back foot.

By no means do I undervalue the support I have. For instance, my unequivocally perfect girlfriend – Holly. I am unquestionably in love with this girl and she is consistently there for me, whether it be listening to my ramblings about fitness plans, cheering me up when training goes to shit or any of the other endless reasons I fell for her. However, as I’m sure she will not mind me saying, she isn’t exactly striving for the same goals, therefore her ability to aid me in training advice, nutrition factors and alike does lack somewhat. As for those I know within the industry, they to lack knowledge as I am only aware of a lower level of ‘gym goers’ or at least those I am aware of who are more elite, are not available to me.

In essence, I am doing this off my own back. No trainer, no partners, no advice, guidance, help, understanding. It’s me, chasing down the hardest part of success. I guess that is what it takes.

Aspire to Inspire.

Stop dreaming.

I do not believe that there is anyone on this earth who does not have any dream. But are some of us better at getting what we want in life? And why do some keep waiting their entire life to achieve their dreams?

Whenever we start proceeding toward our dreams, we will always encounter challenges. Suddenly we’ll find that things are not going well. This is true for most of us. I have seen many of my friends who quit before even starting.

It examines each of us. There will always be difficulties in the beginning.

1. Awaken 

All our life we run after the things that are not even close to our heart. Where is the fun living someone else’s life? It is your life and you have to live it with dignity. The dignity comes from the things that you actually want to do.

There is only one who knows what you want from life, and it’s you. Do not let your dreams die. Identify and take charge of them.

2. Never underestimate your potential

Each of us has potential to live our dreams. Do not underestimate yourself. If you need to climb a hill, there is no need to jump right now. You only need to evaluate the initial step.

Do not believe the hundred reasons why you cannot do it, but believe one reason why you can do it. Do not depend on others. No one will do it for you. It is your life and it is your dream. Trust your instinct and make it happen.

3. Do not wait too long

Life is too short, why wait? Tell me when you first realized your dreams and how much time has already passed. Are you at the same place where you were 3 years ago? What are you waiting for?

The more you wait, the less time you will have to work on them. Do not believe me? Just look at your watch. It is not passing time. It is passing life.

4. Have a positive perspective

It will not be easy when you begin something great. But you will be able to cope with any situation more efficiently if you see it as an opportunity rather than a difficulty. Everything that comes to you makes you strong. Challenges and struggle are things that are essential for your growth. “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” – Nietzsche

5. Fake it until you make it

In order to achieve anything in life, you first have to prepare yourself internally. You have to believe as if you are already experiencing your dream life. This is how “the law of attraction works”. The more you imagine success in your mind, the more possibilities this universe creates to make your dream come true.

6. Use your time well

No matter who you are, you have exactly twenty four hours a day. It is all about how you manage it.

If you set your priorities, you can use your time well. Remember: Money lost can be recovered, but time lost is lost forever.

7. Overcome fear of failure

Every great personality in their time has made mistakes. They failed again and again. That is why they succeeded. Failures are essential and acceptable if you’re learning from them. They prepare us to do better next time.

So, believe in the power of your dreams and start following them. There will be obstacles, but keep going. It takes time to climb a high hill, but it is worth for the view from the top.

Well this took a damn while.

Most experienced gym rats align themselves with one of two training modalities: powerlifting or bodybuilding. The goal is either strength or size. While a dichotomy exists between the training styles, there also exists a middle ground in which they’re complementary. Here, strength is used to build size.

Once a lifter has passed the beginner stage, his or her body needs greater amounts of stress to continue growing. There are numerous advanced hypertrophy techniques to choose from, but when approached from a strength standpoint instead the size equation remains simple: Lift the most weight possible while employing the greatest volume possible. What’s possible, in this instance, is governed by recovery.

Increased strength can be a catalyst for increased muscle mass. How, then, do you use strength to build size? By using these training-tested techniques approved by powerlifters and bodybuilders all over the globe!

1 CLUSTER SETS

Cluster sets utilize rest between reps to help you accrue a total amount of reps with a heavier weight than is normally possible in a straight set.

To perform a cluster set of, say, 5 reps, you employ 5 single reps with 20 seconds between each rep until 5 total reps are achieved. In other words, do one rep, rest 20 seconds, do another rep, rest 20, and continue in this fashion until you’ve completed all your reps. Clustering reps like this allows you to achieve more volume per set with weights you normally couldn’t use for that many reps.

This, of course, isn’t the only way to arrange your cluster set; clusters of 2 and 3 reps are also useful depending on the application.

Cluster sets can be arranged in two ways: to load the day’s main lift, or to extend the day’s main lift. Let’s explain using examples.

LOADING THE MAIN LIFT

Exercise Total Sets Total Reps Per Set Clusters @ % 1RM Rest Between Clusters Rest Between Sets
Squat 3 8 4 x 2 @ 85% 20 seconds 2 minutes

You wouldn’t normally be able to do 8 straight reps with 85 percent of your 1-rep max (1RM), especially for 3 sets. But here your 8 reps are broken down into four 2-rep clusters per set, so you squat 85 percent of your 1RM for 8 reps. This allows you to achieve greater volume with heavier weight and build more muscle!

EXTENDING THE MAIN LIFT

Exercise Total Cluster Sets Total Reps Per Set Clusters @ % 1RM Rest Between Clusters Rest Between Sets
Squat 2 5 2×2, 1×1 @ 85% 20 seconds 2 minutes

Clusters are also great for extending your main lift, which would first be done with straight sets. To put this into practice, let’s say you complete 4 straight sets of 3 reps on the squat, but you want to continue to build volume with that lift. Extend your main lift by adding cluster sets after your straight sets. This cluster application works well during heavy, absolute-strength-training phases. The weight is kept heavy to build strength while also engaging size-building volume.

When using clusters to extend your main lift, use the same weight you did for your straight sets. (In some cases, slightly more.) This ensures you achieve more hypertrophy by amassing volume with heavier loads.

In the example above, your cluster set would consist of 2 sets of 2 reps and a set of 1 rep, each set separated by 20 seconds rest. After you complete all 5 reps, rest two minutes before completing a second time (two total cluster sets).

2 HEAVY ECCENTRICS (NEGATIVES)

Hypertrophy fanatics often espouse time-under-tension’s muscle-building virtues. Their enthusiasm isn’t unwarranted—increasing a muscle’s time under tension promotes growth. What’s key, however, is keeping the intensity high while maintaining the tension. Heavy eccentrics, sometimes called negatives, tap into your strength and provide that key.

Eccentric muscle contractions—lowering a weight rather than lifting it—are the most damaging. As a result, eccentrics trigger the most inflammation and have an increased propensity to restructure muscle. If you create a lot of muscle damage, your body will adapt by adding more muscle so the same stimulus isn’t as damaging the next time around.

But the process requires heavy weight. Light eccentrics teach control, but creating a disruption that will build muscle requires intensity to the tune of 75-85 percent of 1RM. (Unless you have a trained and dedicated spotter, I wouldn’t recommend using 90 percent or more of your 1RM for extended eccentrics.)

You’ll lower these heavy loads during eccentric phases for as long as 4-6 seconds while completing 3-6 reps in this manner per set. As the load increases, you’ll extend the length of the eccentrics and decrease the reps per set.

You must choose exercises that have a pronounced eccentric phase. Squat variations, bench-press variations, rowing variations, and Romanian deadlifts work best.

Heavy eccentrics are well-suited for loading main and assistance lifts. Here’s a programming snapshot of each.

HEAVY ECCENTRIC MAIN LIFT

Exercise Total Sets Total Reps Per Set Length of Eccentric Percent of 1RM Rest Between Sets
Bench Press 5 3 5 seconds 80% 2 minutes

The reps per set are kept low and the eccentric contraction is kept in the mid-range timeframe because the load is at 80 percent of one-rep max. The eccentric could stay at five seconds as the load is increased to 85 percent, but it’s often advantageous to decrease the length to four seconds to maintain quality reps. Doing 5 sets supplies a total volume that spurs adaptation.

HEAVY ECCENTRIC ASSISTANCE LIFT

Exercise Total Sets Total Reps Per Set Length of Eccentric Percent of 1RM Rest Between Sets
Dumbbell Bench Press 3 5 6 seconds 75% 90 seconds

Assistance eccentrics require a few programming alterations. Total volume remains, but we’re dropping the load and increasing the length of the eccentric phase. These alterations maintain muscle-building stress while preserving the nervous system. If you keep the load high, it’s likely that your nervous system would receive more input than it could handle. The result is overtraining accompanied by minimal gains.

Heavy eccentrics are a great loading choice to apply early in your training season. They build muscle and soft-tissue resiliency while setting the neurological stage for big strength gains. This takes place, of course, as you pack mass on your frame.

BUILD STRENGTH, GET BIG

In the end, size and strength training aren’t always mutually exclusive; hypertrophy is often the result of strength-building strategies. If you’ve surpassed the basics, it’s time to employ these lifter-tested techniques to gain new levels of mass and strength.

Aspire to inspire.

TONED IS NOT A THING- Edited

It’s damn-near impossible to search for anything related to women’s fitness without coming across the word “toned.” Magazines, television advertisements, group fitness classes, and diet books all claim to help women get those “toned arms.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard a friend say, “I wish my arms were more toned.”

It’s utter shite.

Although I understand what my friends want and what advertisers are selling, it bothers me that women feel uncomfortable using the word “muscular” to describe their goals. I wonder when and why the word “toned” took the place of “bigger muscles” and “less body fat.”

“What’s the big deal?” you may ask. “It’s just a word, after all.” Well, words have significance, and I think the word “toned” conveys misinformation and supports stereotypes. It’s become shorthand for something that doesn’t exist, and replaced more accurate adjectives.

So, here are four reasons the word needs to burn.

1 IT’S AN ACTUAL THING YOUR MUSCLES DO

Despite its mainstream definition as “something ladies want their arms to look like,” the actual meaning of muscle tone has biomechanical significance. Muscle tone, or tonus, is what exercise scientists and fitness experts use to describe the continuous contraction of the muscles. In other words, your muscles are always slightly tense. So, technically, the more “toned” your muscles are, the more contracted they are.

This continuous contraction is necessary. First, tonus helps keep you upright and balanced. It also helps your muscles stay prepared for any reactive tension they might need to perform. For example, if you’re walking down the sidewalk and trip on a crack, your muscles will tense and your body will work to keep you upright without you consciously having to tell it to. That’s much better than face-planting on the pavement.

Tonus also helps keep your muscles warm, firm, and healthy.

2 IT’S LIMITING

Using the word “toned” instead of “muscular” to describe a goal or a woman’s body reinforces the notion that if a woman picks up more than an 8-pound dumbbell, she’ll somehow look like the Hulk.

Women don’t have the testosterone levels to build the amount of muscle that a male bodybuilder has. One of the few exceptions is the female professional bodybuilder, but she spends years building and carving her physique, and also uses hormonal aid.

Using the word “toned” also reinforces the concept that there is a specific way women should look. Heaven forbid that ladies are actually strong and muscular. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a man use the word “toned” to describe his body or his goal physique. Why are men allowed to be “buff,” “muscular,” or “jacked,” and women are only allowed to be “toned?” There’s no legit reason women should be limited in their goals or the language they use to describe those goals.

3 IT’S A MARKETING PLOY

Lady-focused group exercise programs like pole dancing and zumba offer “all-over tone.” These classes have gotten popular because they play off the notion that women can’t do the same workouts that men do. They’re marketed toward women who are uncomfortable lifting weights and think that the only way to get lean is to do massive amounts of cardio.

In reality, if you want arms that have shape—i.e., you can see your biceps and shoulder caps—sitting on a stationary bike isn’t going to get you there.

Now, I’m not saying that group exercise class can’t be effective. But it might be unwise to assume they will work as effectively as weight-training will. Classes like Zumba are basically cardio. Don’t get me wrong: Cardio can be great for fat loss, but if you don’t have any muscle on your arms, leaning them down won’t help you show off that “tone.”

I know what you’re thinking: “But my Zumba instructor ishot. She looks exactly how I want to look. She’s got great arms and a flat belly.” I have no doubt there are some group-exercise instructors who look amazing. However, it’s important to remember that your Zumba instructor probably lifts in addition to doing cardio, and pays really close attention to what she eats.

Cardio is an essential part of a healthy exercise program—your heart is a muscle, after all,—but don’t make the mistake of thinking your cardio-only workouts will give you those shapely shoulders.

4 CONVENTIONAL “HOW TO GET TONED” WISDOM IS FLAWED

People who want to learn about training either hire a trainer or look to media sources to help them out. Nobody knows everything about everything, and beginners don’t know anything—we’ve all been there—so we have no choice but to look elsewhere for knowledge and expertise.

Articles are the reason that, because women don’t want to be muscular, they shouldn’t use heavy weights. Instead, the authors suggest that women use super-light weight for at least 15 reps, or train using only their body weight. It sounds good in theory, but in reality couldn’t be more wrong.

Muscle mass is what makes your arms, shoulders, and butt look firm and shapely. But, in order to see muscle shape on your body, you first have to build muscle. Putting on muscle is no easy task; it takes a lot of hard work and significant resistance.

Sure there are lifts, like the lateral raise, that can be difficult with even tiny dumbbells. And if you’ve ever done a yoga class, you know how heavy your body weight can feel. You don’t always have to grab the heaviest weight possible, but your lifting sessions need to be hard. If you’re curling weight so light it feels like you’re holding a remote control, you won’t see results.

It takes some time to grow accustomed to the pain and tightness that happen in your muscles when you’re lifting, but, keep going. It’ll work.

Putting more muscle on your body will also help you lean down. Having more muscle mass increases your metabolic activity level. It takes a lot of extra energy to keep those muscles working, so you’ll actually burn more calories throughout the day. When your body burns more calories, you get leaner. It’s a trifecta of awesome.

GET JACKED, LADIES

I don’t know if there’s anything more liberating or more empowering than being strong and letting go of any preconceived notions about how you are “supposed” to look. Your body is yours to mold into whatever shape you want and make perform however you want it to perform.

Aspire to Inspire.

Dissertation – HELP FIT FREAKS

As some of you will know I have recently begun my third year at university studying Criminology and Applied Psychology. With that comes the inevitable dissertation. God help me.

I’ll be writing my dissertation on the psychology of males in partaking in exercise, both male body image, goal pursuit, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations….Yeah the title still avoids me.

My intention is to highlight the psychological drive for fitness and display both the pros and cons of it. Simple right? WRONG. It’s actually incredible complex, so many varied motivational drives, alongside the variation of fitness types and platforms, it may just kill me.

So to any intellectual fit freaks – I could do with some help (no not just from the average gym goer), anyone who thinks they may be able to help me in any form (evening just nailing a title) please contact me! (callumbarney@gmail.com), or hell even if you just want fitness or nutritional advice..why not.

Aspire to inspire

What’s with this crap attitude?

I wonder if I can be flagged for swearing…. Well I’m sorry but it stands.
Something that I’ve become increasingly aware of is a reoccurring behaviour among friends and the general public. This is the constant need to compare, to compete. Now I know it’s natural to perceive the world around us as better or worse than our own, however this is in terms of accomplishments.
For instance, I have just competed in powerlifting, I was NOT there seeing who I could beat, who was better than me or any of that. This is the same for my education, I do not care what grades people get in terms of my own happiness. When you see what other people achieve or fail to achieve your response should be either a pride for them on their behalf or a hand up if you are capable.
It seems the more I accomplish, the more people feel the need to tell me they could do what I do, or that what I do is not an interest of theirs. Let me make this clear, I do not care. I better myself every day in every way I can, that is all I care for. Handle your shit and I’ll handle mine. Stop competing with me or comparing me to others. Cool, thanks. Rant over.

Aspire to Inspire.

A proud day.

Driving down the M40 at 6:30pm, headed home. The last 12hours were spent in a gym.
To clarify, I’ve just finished my first powerlifting meet and my fuck did I love it. Oh and apologies for swearing but there will be some, there’s a fair amount of passion here.
After weighing in at 8am and over the proceeding 12hours completed three attempts of squat, bench and deadlift. With those completed, I have now qualified for the British Championships….
Sorry let me say that again. I HAVE JUST QUALIFIED FOR BRITISH CHAMPIONSHIPS.
Yes yes it’s nice to have lifted some heavy ass weight. Nope I didn’t break my records by any means, so why so happy?
A- I qualified
B- I proved it.
I proved that it was worth it, that in worth it, that it can damn well be done (plus all the rest in my last blog).
Beyond ecstatic and one of the rare occurrences in my life- I’m proud of myself.
BRING ON NATIONALS.

Aspire to Inspire.

Walk not Talk.

SO – Tomorrow for me is a rather big deal. At 10am my powerlifting meet begins and in the following hours I’ll be given the opportunity to prove a hell of a lot, to friends, to family, to people as a whole, but damn well most importantly, to myself.

What I am proving depends on the people. To my friends and family it’s pretty self explanatory, it is a demonstration of my ability verifying that the time I put in gives a tangible result. In terms of ‘people as a whole’ I just want to prove again (after having completed a Spartan race) that you can over come any and all physical and mental barriers you believe to be real, serving as motivation for the masses …maybe..

Then it’s what I am proving to myself. Well this is a bit more serious because in reality, I couldn’t care less what the world thinks. Every day I fight against a voice, this little, rather vocal voice that tells me I am not unique, impressive, important nor worth being here. A voice that once nearly got the better of me and took my life.

Day in and day out, I do the most possible to prove I have what it takes to stand out, that my life was worth continuing. Its as if that voice called into being my eating disorders, created for itself my hyper-mobilty, to further cease any attempt at being unique. So tomorrow (and all further events yet to come), the weight on my shoulders, back and chest, will be that of the voice. I will proving at least one more god damn time that I deserve to be proud, to be happy, to be here and that nothing thrown at me will stop me.

Aspire to Inspire.