GPP Considerations for Strength Sports
By Mike Tuchscherer
General Physical Preparedness (or “GPP”) has become somewhat of a catch phrase for Powerlifters in the last decade or so. It is a term tossed around to describe a wide range of activity from mowing the lawn to dragging a sled. The truth is that we often misuse this term or apply it loosely. I’m not here to be the word-police, but today we’re going to learn some more about GPP – what it is and how it can benefit you.
GPP describes the body’s general ability to do work that it is not specifically trained to do. Simply break the word down – How prepared is your physical body in general terms? Do you tire easily or can you work all day and still have energy left at the end? For powerlifters, bodybuilders, and other gym-rats – can you go outside and play a pickup game of basketball or football and at least look coordinated? GPP is more than just work capacity – it is a general measure of the other physical fitness traits that are not assessed evenly by your given sport of choice. For example, Powerlifting focuses on the development of absolute strength. So things like flexibility, aerobic fitness, etc would fall under the category of GPP.
But why should you care about GPP at all? As a strength athlete under normal conditions, improving aerobic fitness won’t improve your squat and flexibility won’t make you snatch more. Or will it? Read more…
By Mike Tuchscherer
If you don’t know what TRAC is, you should definitely check out the information on it here.This article will focus on how to execute the required tests to get your TRAC score.
TRAC consists of three tests: The Orthostatic Test, the Reaction Time test, and the Tap Test.All tests are performed in that order first thing when you wake up in the morning. The first test we’ll discuss is the Orthostatic Test. This test seems to be the most difficult, but it’s really not hard once you get the hang of it. There are two versions of the test; the test for those with a heart rate monitor and a test for those without a heart rate monitor. Read more…
Understanding Your TRAC Score
By Mike Tuchscherer
We live in a smart age. Smart phones. Smart bombs. Even smart cars (yuck!). It’s about time our training system got smart too. When you think about it, this is really the mission of TRAC – smart training.
And boy, is it ever smart! When you perform your tests in the morning, it takes somewhere between 7 and 10 minutes to complete it. Using that data, TRAC can figure out how several systems in your body are functioning and it spits it out on a nice, smart report! Your TRAC Report is really what gives you insight on how you can react to your body. But when you’ve got smart tests, smart systems, and a smart report, do you have to be smart too? Well, maybe a little, but by the end of this article, you should be smart enough to get the bulk of your TRAC report.
Just to reiterate, it can take a few days before your report is populated and several days after that before TRAC “gets to know you” well enough for your report to be reliable. But just the same, the more you use it, the better it works. Read more…
Getting Over Overtraining
By Mike Tuchscherer
If you read interviews with top athletes, especially powerlifters and bodybuilders, a favorite question to ask them seems to be if they made any mistakes in their early training. And most of them will say that they spent too much time early in their careers overtraining. Many of these athletes feel that if they hadn’t, they could have reached their current levels faster or maybe could have been even better than they already are.
Overtraining is a result of training stress, plus the rest of life’s stress, exceeding an athlete’s ability to recover. This results in stagnation, or even injury. At a minimum, it is inefficient – meaning that the athlete won’t improve at their optimal rate.
If overtraining is so bad, and it’s easy enough to fall into that even top athletes sometimes mess it up, what can you do about it? Well, I’m glad you asked! Below are five practical tips that you can use to prevent and/or treat overtraining. They are not in a particular order, nor are they all-inclusive. However, they are effective. So without further delay, let’s jump right in. Read more…
RTS for Bodybuilding
Bodybuilders and Powerlifters have not historically gotten along very well. Although the relationship strain seems to be mostly limited to internet forums, it’s interesting nonetheless. The thing is we can learn a lot from each other just by looking.
I like to think of myself as observant of trends in iron sports. Training in general is fascinating to me, so it’s always enjoyable for me to watch how things develop and evolve over time. Whether it be the way Olympic lifting ebbs and flows in and out of favor for training athletes, or the way that foam rolling first gained popularity and is now becoming almost cliché, it’s interesting to watch. One trend I’ve noticed lately is that bodybuilders are beginning to train more like powerlifters and are showing good results because of it. Additionally, powerlifters are beginning to have a more balanced approach (similar to bodybuilders), and also seem to be benefitting from it. This simply highlights the fact that we can learn from one another. Read more…
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.
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…
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Driving Analogy
By Mike Tuchscherer
I’m going to use a little different analogy to describe what RTS does for you.
Think of your strength like a place. It doesn’t matter which place – you are where you are right now. That might be 700 Totalville. It might be 2000 Totalville. Then your goals are another place somewhere else. Perhaps that’s Word’sStrongestMan City. Or even WorldRecordstown. So how do you get to your goals? You use a car (training).
The Russian Classification Chart
By Mike Tuchscherer
What is your experience level as a Powerlifter? Kind of a hard question to answer, huh? Some will answer with how many years they’ve been competing. Others will tell you their total. Still others might give a vague “not much” or “been around a while”.
What if I told you we have a tool that allows us to approximate a lifter’s experience level? Well, there are many charts out there for classifying lifters, but the one I have had the most success with is the Russian Classification Chart.
The Russian Classification Chart matches a lifter’s raw total against his weight class to give an experience classification. Read more…