Tag Archives: cardio

Muscle Confusion

The theory that an individual requires large amounts of different exercises in order to continue to gain strength and skill is a fallacy.  In truth the body only requires a few core exercises along with a skillyfully planned manipulation of three variables.  weight, density, volume.

Weight is varied through different means, but typically through a cycling of the weights from light to heavy and back again.  Each time reaching a peak or personal best, then lowering the weight and working your way back up again past the  initial PR.  

Density is varied through how quickly you work through a workout.  Density is varied through the amount of time you rest between workouts.

Volume is how many times you list a particular weight.  

Muscle confusion does not require a constant changing of exercises.  All this does is ensure that you become semi-good at lots of things.  If your goal is greater strength you should focus on a few exercises and vary them as above.  

Example:

I love kettlebells.  It is difficult to vary the weight of a kettlebell when there are such large jumps between.  Therefore I vary density and volume.  On a typical three day a week workout plan you may have a heavy, light and medium day.  All days use the same weight kettlebell, however the volume of the exercise changes.  Therefore if I am doing kettlebell clean and presses, my heavy day will be 75 presses/side total, my light day will be 30, and my medium day will be 50.  These are one through russian ladders as pavel tsatsouline discusses in his book Enter The Kettlebell.  Once i work up to the overall numbers I then attempt to condense those movements into a shorter period of time.  Therefore, constantly changing density and volume.

If I am doing a free weight exercise you may follow the above principles, however you also have the ability to change the weight regularly.  This is done through cycling your workout.  Starting out light and working to a PR, then dropping the weight and working back up to a new PR.  Pavel also discusses this in Power to the People.  

So, in truth, you don’t need a thousand exercises fixing each tiny little thing that is wrong with your body.  You need a few great exercises that work your entire body.  You also don’t need to worry about “muscle confusion” as the trainers attempt to sell you their product.

Just pick a few good exercises and work hard on them.  Progress will show up.

My exercises that I have chosen are the deadlift, kettlebell clean and press, swings, snatches and Turkish Getups.  

Check out the links at the top of this page for more information on these exercises and cycling of your workout.  There is also a lot of info about food and wellness.

Brochures

I created a new brochure while in school and transitioned it for this site.  I hope that you enjoy it.  It is monochrome so that it is inexpensive to reproduce and it is paired down as much as possible.  Lets all print a bunch of these out and distribute them all over.  It could be an easy way to spread the message.

New version

Brochure technical writing.pdf

Old version

Natural Advantage Brochure version 3 pdf.pdf

Updated workout and reasonings

I have determined that I should change my workout slightly over the summer. I am going to mix my favorite parts of Enter the Kettlebell and Power to the People together. My intentions are to create a routine that will allow continued advancement in strength, small gains in size (I do not want to be a russian bear) and approach my workouts with a same but different approach. To do this I will start by dropping my weight on the dead lift down a bit in order to continue practicing my form.

I will use a three day a week routine where I will perform the following:

1. getups for 5 minutes (great core strength builder)

2. kettlebell clean and military press (sets of 5)

3. Dead lift (sets of 5)

4. cardio 5 days a week
I will determine the length of the cardio by using 6 sided dice. Two dice rolled for swings ad snatches and three dice rolled or sprints and the steady state run. (swings/snatches/sprints/steady state upwards of 3 mile run max)

I will perform these using a heavy, light, medium style routine that would resemble the Enter the Kettlebell Russian Kettlebell Challenge routine that I have performed previously with great success. I will modify it however because of time constraints. I will not perform the ladders that are described in Enter the Kettlebell.

On all days I will perform 5 minutes of getups and variable cardio.

On the heavy days (Monday) I will perform as many sets of 5 reps of clean and military press starting with my heavy kettlebell and working down as needed. I will lift as heavy as possible but will not start a set with a kettlebell that I will not be able to finish that set with. I currently own an 62, 53 and 44 pound kettlebells. My girlfriend has a 22 pound kettlebell and a 15 pound kettlebell that I am able to supplement my kettlebells with as well. If you are performing military press with free weights then you are able to use the power to the people style of progressive loading with more precision than you are able to with kettlebells.

I will also perform 5 sets of 5 reps of dead lift. This will start with the typical Power to the People sets. 1 starting set, 1 set that is 10% less than the first. Then as many sets that are possible with good form at 10% less than the second set. Therefore if we are using 100 pounds as the initial set then it will look like this. 100, 90, 80, 80, 80…and so on.

Light days (Wednesday) will be similar but with less sets. It will be clean and military press for two sets only this time. I will also complete dead lift for two sets of 5. Similar to the heavy days first two sets, with additional weight added due to the cycling of the weights.

The medium day (Friday) will also be similar to the first day. Here I will use less sets than the heavy day, but more sets than the light day. I will perform three sets of kettlebell clean and military press. Starting heavy and working down as needed. I will also perform three sets of the dead lift in similar fashion as to the heavy day.

workout example:

All days – 5 min. getups to start. variable cardio (mix of swings, snatches, sprints and steady state upwards of 3 mile) to finish

Heavy Day:

Kettlebell clean and press:

1st set: 62 pounds (5 reps)

2nd set: 53 pounds (5 reps)

3rd set to ?: 44 pounds (5 reps)

complete as many sets with 30-90 sec rest between sets while completing all five reps with good form

Dead lift:

1st set: 100 pounds (5 reps)

2nd set: 90 pounds (5 reps)

3rd set to ?: 80 pounds (5 reps)

complete as many sets with 30-90 sec rest between sets while completing all five reps with good form

Light Day:

Kettlebell Clean and Press:

1st set: 62 pounds (5 reps)

2nd set: 53 pounds (5 reps)

Dead lift:

1st set: 102.5 pounds (5 reps)

2nd set: 92.5 pounds (5 reps)

Medium Day:

Kettlebell Clean and Press:

1st set: 62 pounds (5 reps)

2nd set: 53 pounds (5 reps)

3rd set: 53 pounds (5 reps)

Dead Lift:

1st set: 105 pounds (5 reps)

2nd set: 95 pounds (5 reps)

3rd set: 85 pounds (5 reps)

The next week you would continue to add weight to the dead lift as above. Once you reach a point where you are unable to perform 5 reps at the heaviest weight then you would drop the weight down and work your way back up to a new max. The presses are a little different in that kettlebells make large jumps in weight. As stated above you may use typical free weights to more precisely approximate the Power to the People style of progressive resistance.

https://thenaturaladvantage.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/cycling-your-workout-the-key-to-continued-improvement/

My goal is to be able to dead lift 400 pounds and to be able to strictly military press the kettlebell closest to half of my body weight by the end of 2013. I feel as though both of these goals are very attainable.

The reasoning behind the design of this workout is that I wish to gain strength while gaining a small amount of size only. I have proven that you can gain strength without gaining size by performing two heavy sets of 5. The flip side is gaining size. This is done by placing the body under a heavy load as much as possible. Typical workouts to gain size are a simple but heavy 5 sets of 5 reps. This workout will allow me to both cycle my workouts by weight, as well as cycle them by workout density. I will go from working very heavy with many sets to working only a couple of sets.

Cycling your workout: the key to continued improvement

This is the key that I have continued to miss throughout my time in the gym. It was always understood by me that if you wanted to get bigger and stronger then you had to lift heavy and you had to keep increasing the weight. I was never really told that I would plateau. Therefore when it happened it was an unexpected occurrence, and if it did happen then the answer was always to eat more, maybe rest a bit and keep on going. Therefore after about two months I would plateau and I would keep trying to go heavier without any success and this would then lead to over training and becoming generally worn down and ill. I have had times where I have gained 20 pounds in two months only to get sick and to lose it all. The reality of the situation is that if I had known then what I know now then I would have cycled my workout and been able to continue on with great improvement.

What is cycling your workout?

Cycling your workout is when you start your workout progression with a weight that you could perform easily and you continue to increase that weight until it gets to a point where you are no longer able to perform it any longer. At this point instead of becoming frustrated you simply drop that weight down to a lighter weight (but heavier than your previous starting weight) and work your way back up. This time you will find your new max to be heavier than your previous max. Through this cycling you are able to increase your weight over and over again without overtraining.

As an example we will take my current dead lift workout. When I began this workout I started with a weight of 200 pounds. I have added 2.5 pounds to each side every workout. I perform this 3 times a week, however you could do it upwards of 5 times a week. I continued to improve until I reached a weight of 245 pounds. At this time I had reached my max weight and was only able to perform 4 reps. I then dropped my weight down to 215 and continued to increase my weight in the same manner. This cycle brought me up to a max of 270. A very good increase. I was only able to perform 2 or 3 reps at this weight so I started over. I dropped the weight back down to 245 (my first max) and I have been increasing that weight steadily. I am currently in this cycle and have every reason to believe that I will sail right past my previous max. I’m currently at 280 and have every expectation that I will continue to increase.

I am doing this with my bent press as well except that I am adding 2.5 pounds to each side once a week instead of every workout. You can also do this with your cardio, in fact it is suggested. WIth the cardio you can cycle the time of the workout and the intensity of your workout by tracking your heart rate.

Two great books for more information on this are Power to the People by Pavel Tsatsouline and The Purposeful Primitive by Marty Gallagher. Power to the People is a great book to get you started and will get you very far and the Purposeful Primitive is a fantastic in depth book with loads of information that will suffice for years of training progressions and success.

I hope that this information helps you out and that you are able to continue to progress in your fitness. I know that it has helped me out tremendously with my current fitness goals.