Mental Cues for the Squat

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Mental Cues for the Squat
By Mike Tuchscherer

I’m a very cognitive person. I think through everything – even when I lift I like to stay very mentally engaged. Lots of guys shout and yell before a big attempt. Not me. I even prefer silence as it lets me focus better.
One thing I’ve struggled with in the past is the depth of my squats in training. This has only rarely been a problem in a contest, especially in recent years, but it makes me wonder how much better of a competitive squatter I could be if I simply trained how I compete.
It took a lot more than this simple realization to make a difference in my training. At least for me, it wasn’t just “squat deeper” and voila. A whole array of technique cues needed to be lined up for me to squat well. I broke the lift up into a few phases and I developed a mental checklist that I think to myself as I execute each rep. That checklist helped my consistency immensely and that’s what I’d like to share with you today.

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RTS for Strongman

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RTS for Strongman
by Mike Tuchscherer

Reactive Training Systems began as a system of training for Powerlifters. It has since evolved into a system of principles that can govern any sort of physical training from Weightlifting to general fitness, from Bodybuilding to MMA. One of the most interesting applications so far has been applying RTS to Strongman.
I like training Strongman athletes for several reasons. The biggest reason is that Strongman requires a very interesting and ever-changing skill set to be successful. Success in one show may depend heavily on absolute strength in an athlete’s back where success at the next show may depend heavily on speed during walking events. Add on the comparatively complex energy system demands and you can have some pretty interesting training problems! But solving those problems is part of the fun of programming.
So without further adieu, here is a primer on using RTS to train for Strongman. Keep in mind that a complete discussion of the topic would well exceed article-length, so this will just get you thinking about the various training topics and how to address them. Read more…

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Gauging RPE

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Gauging RPE
By Bob Wanamaker

“How does an athlete know what an RPE of 8 feels like?” Which is the same as the question “How does an athlete know when s/he has 2 reps left in the tank?”
The first thing to note about gauging RPE is that there are training-specific variables which impact the intensity of which an athlete is capable. Number of reps in the set, volume of work, amount of rest between sets – all of these will impact the intensity an athlete can bring to the bar for a given working set. So, out of the gate, those variables need to be controlled to an appropriate degree. Read more…

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Auto-Regulating Intensity

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Auto-Regulating Intensity

By Bob Wanamaker

Quick review: autoregulation is a strategy to control the intensity and volume of training so as to maximize training effect while accounting for changes in the individual. Changes which impact training can include stress, illness, and injury. Of note is that “stress is stress.” Whether stress originates from training volume, from relationship problems, from money problems – there’s only one mechanism in the body for coping. So if that mechanism is busy coping with external stressors, the last thing we want to do increase stress from training.

A tactic that can be employed is RPE. RPE quite intuitively provides a means to regulate intensity on-the-fly: the basic concept employed is that of “difficulty in moving the weight.” As the athlete adds weight to the bar for the back squat, the move becomes progressively more difficult, and the athlete works with more intensity, up to maximum possible intensity: the one-rep max (1RM). Intensity determines training effect.
So why not just use the 1RM, and Prilepin’s table, and develop training blocks based on that?
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First Meet: Getting Ready for your Opener

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First Meet: Getting Ready for your Opener
by Eduardo Chile

Congratulations, you have taken the first step in becoming a powerlifter and want to compete! Now, what do you do? Step one is find a meet to compete in. With so many federations out there with different rule sets this could be a daunting task. The only advice I can give is to pick a federation that is in line with your standards of competition. If you like to compete in single ply, triple ply or raw it’s your decision. If you feel the judging is questionable to your standards then find another federation. Location-wise, you should find your first meet within 100 miles if at all possible. Here is a great resource for finding meets. You should perform a search based on location and date, and please give yourself at least 10 weeks until the meet. Once you have narrowed it down to a few meets research the federation for each one.

Once you have chosen your meet you will need to make plans for it. You will likely need a membership card to compete in the federation. Most federations allow you to sign up the day of the meet, but please check with the meet director to make sure. Most meet directors are very approachable and don’t mind answering questions for you. Next, you will need to send in the registration form. There is quite a bit of information on this form, so if there is anything that is confusing, contact the meet director to get some clarification. Even if you don’t have problems, contact the meet director anyway and introduce yourself. Inform them it is your first meet. My experience is they will be helpful in ensuring you have all of your paperwork in order. Read more…

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How I Became a Powerlifting Coach

 

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How I Became a Powerlifting Coach
By Josh Rohr

I had never really considered the possibility of personal training and helping people as a profession. I grew up on a dairy farm in a small town in Northeast Ohio, working in the barns before school in -10 degree weather during the winters. I guess I always just figured that I would be a farmer when I got older.
My freshmen year of high school I really got interested in football, mostly because I saw the guys in the weight room working out and noticed how big and strong they were. My sophomore year, I decided to play football for the first time. I was way behind the learning curve but I loved it. I learned a lot about the game and myself. I also learned a lot about weight training and I started learning some of the things I had been doing wrong. Read more…

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AMRAPS in Training

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AMRAPS in Training
By Bryce Lewis

The AMRAP or AMAP set is a training concept meaning simply to perform as many reps as possible with a given training load, taken from the acronym for “as many as possible”, or “as many reps as possible”. Bryan Mann, a researcher from Missouri State links the origins of this idea to 1945 and military surgeon Captain Thomas DeLorme, who used a basic increase in load from session to session and a set to failure after three sets of ten repetitions for post-surgery soldiers healing from bone and joint repairs. From there, Mel Siff proposed the idea again in Supertraining, called it the APRE (autoregulated progressive resistance exercise) method. It was Bryan Mann who did the research on APRE in comparison to linear and block models of periodization.

Since then, it has experienced a resurgence of popularity in the last year or two, and many athletes are interested in how to make use of this training tool. This brief article will serve to illustrate some concepts of the AMRAP set and cover some psychological, programming, and strength benefits, and some potential pitfalls. Read more…

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Fresh training log updates

Custom RPE Charts, expanded PR widget, lots of new notes, navigation fixes (arrow/tab key), and Calendar functional updates round out the new features in this release.

Custom RPE Charts

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When you’re viewing the Training Log pages, you’ll notice a new tab in the sub-menu for Custom RPE charts.  This page will allow you to create new custom RPE charts — as many as you want.  Name them and save them.

After you’re done creating them, head over to the revamped “Manage Exercises” tab to select a custom RPE chart for any movement you desire.  Once you do this, the chart will be used to generate estimated 1RMs, PR’s, and more.

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There are some things you should be aware of with this feature:
1) changing your RPE chart only changes FUTURE exercise entries.  This is intentional.  If you’d like to have the RPE chart also affect past entries, then you’ll need to edit those entries and re-save them.
2) You’ll designate a special RPE chart for an exercise.  That will affect all the modifiers too.  So designating a new chart for “Squat” will also be used for “Squat+bands” and any other modifier.  This is also intentional as you probably don’t want to be making 30,000 RPE charts.  You don’t need to anyway.
3) Just a side note about the Manage Exercise screens… you’ll notice Default Exercises don’t have edit/delete buttons.  This is because you can’t edit/delete default exercises.

Expanded PR widget

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On the dashboard, I’m sure you’ve noticed the PR widget.  We’ve added scroll to this widget and also expanded it to encompass the last 90 days.  You’re welcome.  :)

Notes Everywhere
We’ve actually added three layers of notes.  The first are workout notes.  These will be super obvious to everyone as you enter your data.  Write whatever notes you want to keep in there, but we ask you to PLEASE DO NOT WRITE MESSAGES TO YOUR COACH IN THE WORKOUT NOTES.  They likely won’t see it.  Besides, that’s what email and other messaging platforms are for.

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The second kind of note are Exercise Performance Notes.  To get to this note, while you’re on the edit screen, click the name of each exercise.  These notes are to help you keep track of performance cues or setup instructions for each exercise/modifier combination.  So for “Low Pin Squat”, you might write in what pin setting you use for your rack, or note that you’re adding the DB weights together for your Bulgarian Split Squats.

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The third kind of note is a Calendar Note.  You can add a note directly to the calendar on a specific day using the plus icon on each day.  This allows you to make a note of significant events like when a specific training cycle started, or if you get injured, etc.  Again, we ask that you not use this to send messages to your coach because they could be missed.

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Navigation Fixes
We’ve updated how the keyboard will navigate you around the Edit Workout screen.  Now you can use the left-right arrow or the tab key.  We hope this makes data entry a bit easier.

Calendar Updates
The calendar has been made much more useful.  Now you can add workouts, TRAC entries, and other events directly from the calendar using the plus icon (hover over a specific day).

Now clicking on a workout brings up the “view workout” screen in a pop-up, which means searching for a particular session should be much easier.  You can still easily edit or delete the workout using the on-screen buttons.

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We’ve also added a blue dot that will appear on the right side of any workout that has an attached video.  This will make it easier for you to find the sessions where you have video to watch.

 

That’s it for this round.  We’ll be back to work building more useful stuff for you soon.  If you have any feedback, please let me know.  Thanks for using our web tools!

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Treat the Issues, Not the Tissues

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Treat the Issues, Not the Tissues
By Dr. Rori Alter, PT, DPT

In a world that’s becoming more digitalized by the minute, it makes sense that information is more accessible than ever before. Just a few years ago there was (and continues to be) an upward trend of people “self-diagnosing,” incorrectly treating, and worrying themselves because they saw “Dr. Webernet.”

Web-MD, Wikepidia, and MayoClinic.com, among many other sites, became go-to places where the general population first looked for answers because it was quick and convenient, saved them a trip to the doctors’ office and a dent in their wallet from ever-increasing co-pays.

The endless wealth of information on the internet definitely has its benefits. Accessibility to information has allowed businesses to expand, entrepreneurs to set out on successful journeys, and people to expand their knowledge at quick and affordable rates. BUT! Like the hazards of Web-MD and self-diagnostics, people often times misinterpret and incorrectly apply information to their individual circumstances.

With the increasing popularity of barbell sports such as CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, and powerlifting, the online market for coaches, gurus, bloggers, and mobility devices has skyrocketed in the last few years. We see Mobility WOD, ROMWOD, body tempering, hip circles and 100s of mobility and programming templates available at minimal cost or even free to the public. But out of the bottomless pit of information out there, how do we know what’s just right for us or what’s really going to harm us? And do we really know if what we are looking at or considering applying to our own body is exactly what we need given our individual circumstances? Read more…

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Gym Toys for Powerlifters

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Gym Toys for Powerlifters
By Mark Robb

In the previous article, we discussed equipment used in raw (classic) competition, namely a belt and shoes. Next, we will discuss the how and why of using some of the other most common pieces of equipment that a raw lifter will likely find to be useful tools in his or her toolbox. I will again limit discussion to those tools used in the RTS method, as this would otherwise turn into a novel that only addresses bar variations. Other than the obvious straight barbell, power rack, and regulation sized bench, equipment we use will fall into one of three general categories: 1. Address range of motion weaknesses 2. Superload a movement 3. Special bars and racks The purpose of additional equipment is to illicit a specific training effect with the ultimate goal of increasing absolute strength in the competition lifts. These assistance movements should be implemented at the appropriate time in a lifters training plan, as well as in the right proportion. In this article we’ll focus on the tools used to address range of motion weaknesses. Read more…

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