Tag Archives: training

Falling in Love with Training

This past week I had a good conversation with a very close friend of mine regarding some struggles that he had been facing with his training. More specifically, we discussed how some of life’s challenges have had a direct impact on the overall success of his training sessions, as well as his mindset towards training itself. After a few minutes of discussion and throwing around some ideas to help him going forward, he said “ I think one of my biggest issues is that I need to fall in love with training again”. 


This took me back for a second, as I was recently in the same exact situation as he. Before my injury, I found myself going through the motions, with training feeling more like a job than anything else. I was so caught up in the end result that I lost sight of filling each box of daily gratitude and appreciating the fact that I had the opportunity to do something that I love dearly. After my surgery, I took the time to reflect on everything in my life up to that point. I found myself thinking about my life with training in it, as well as my life before I found my love of training. Before I was able to return to training, I often found myself looking through old pictures, videos, and thinking about how and why I first got into lifting. Throughout that process, I was able to come back into training with a clear mind; focusing on making the most of each day and opportunity to train, instead of just looking towards the end goal.


Now don’t get me wrong, when you have very specific goals that involve being the absolute best version of yourself possible, you are going to have very tough days. Not every time you walk into the gym is going to be pure joy, sunshine, and rainbows. The higher the goal that you set, the more challenge and responsibility comes along with it. Everything from your nutrition, sleep, stress management, and even relationships have to be managed precisely in order to fit your goals. Over time, if we do not approach these things with a complete understanding, focus, and care, it can become very easy to lose sight of what attracted us to this journey in the first place, and why we are doing what we are. When we lose sight of this, we may find ourselves doing it for the wrong reasons.


My advice for anyone reading this, from my own personal experience, is to remember to be grateful for each and every opportunity that is placed in front of you. Be grateful for the struggle and every challenge. Be appreciative of the less-than-stelar days, and even more so of the good days. Sit down from time to time and reflect on why you’re doing what you’re doing, and why you began in the first place. Think of how your life would be different without that thing in it. Remember that at the end of the day, you are healthy and strong enough to have the opportunity to do something that many people are unable to do. That is a gift in itself. Finally, please don’t ever let the thought of the end goal distort the joy that comes with the ride.


– Curtis Miller

Forgotten Training Ideas

A few weeks ago I was speaking with one of our new rockstar employees (I won’t use Vickey’s name so she doesn’t get a big head). During this conversation I was reminded how long I have been in the iron game. When I began lifting few people had a “coach,” most people had a crew or training partners. I can’t tell you that one way of training is better than another. I also know that information for anyone training is much more readily available and instagram is great for lifting and lifters, even if at times it can bring out too much ego. Let me step back and return to the point of this blog.


Here is a short list of things that I do not see lifters using anymore and should revisit in their training.

  1. Escalating Density Training (EDT)- EDT is as simple as doing more work in less time. A simple explanation is pull ups. Let’s say you can do 6 strict pull ups. So maybe you can 3×4 for a total volume of 12 reps and this takes you 6 minutes to complete all the sets. Try this Do 12 sets of 1 with 10 seconds rest and you will have completed 12 reps in about 2 1/2 minutes. Now reduced the time until your rest period is 5 seconds. Once you can achieve this move to 6×2 with 10-12 seconds rest and again reduce rest period over time.
  2. Floor Press- Larsen press has seemed to replace floor press for most lifters. I tried the Larsen press and it is a fine lift. Yet, don’t forget about the floor press as an alternative to helping build a big bench.
  3. Timed Sets- Instead of doing 3×10 of an exercise do 3x30seconds and worry about your Time Under Tension (TUT) instead of just the reps.
  4. Generalist Training- When you do not have an upcoming competition just train to be a stronger human. Use some strongman, bodybuilding, and maybe even ideas from our olympic friends. Just become stronger and more resilient.
  5. Overhead Press- Stealing from my last point. Just be stronger.
  6. Going Off the Script- As I said at the beginning everyone used to have a training “crew.” Back then trash talking was the norm. With this trash talking often times we went off script and competed just to compete. There is a certain beauty in having fun with a group of people and trying to crush each other.


Well these are the rants of an old man lifter. As John Meadows would say, “old man cranking.” Keep evolving as a lifter and as a human and we will see what is old is new again… eventually.


Tempo Training; What, When, and How

In my most recent blog, I discussed the importance of performing paused reps and how to incorporate them into your training. Today, I’m going to go one step further and discuss tempo reps, and how you can use them within your training arsenal in order to continue progressing and knocking out your goals. The purpose of incorporating tempo work into your training is to emphasize your time in a particular portion of each lift in order to become more comfortable being in that portion, and therefore becoming stronger and more efficient within that given lift. First, let’s dive into the meaning of tempo in relation to the repetition.


In regards to performing a particular exercise, the tempo is the rate or pace that the exercise is being performed. Therefore, rep tempo is the rate at which you perform reps within a given set.


When written on paper, tempo is typically shown as a 3 digit code that looks something like this: (4-1-3). Each number portrays the amount of time in seconds to perform that specific portion of the exercise. The first digit (4) is always the eccentric (‘lowering’ or ‘negative’) portion of the lift. During a squat, that would consist of the descent into the bottom for a count of 4 seconds. The second digit (1) represents the mid-point of the lift. In the squat, this would be the bottom portion where you would typically transition from the descent to the ascent, except now you would hold for 1 second before ascending, just as we discussed in the last blog on paused reps. The third digit (3) would then be the concentric (‘lifting’ or ‘positive’) portion of the lift. This would be standing up with the bar for a count of 3 seconds.


Keep in mind, you can make the tempo whatever you want depending on where you think each lift needs the most emphasis. Let’s continue to use the squat as an example. If you have a problem with staying under control and in a good stable position on the descent of the squat, then you would want the greatest tempo to be applied to that part of the lift, with 4-5 seconds usually being the sweet spot. If you lose tension in the bottom of the squat, then you would want to add a pause around 1-3 seconds. If you are typically stable on the descent and in the bottom, but lose positioning on the way up, then, you guessed it, would want to add a tempo to the ascent. For this, 3-4 seconds is ideal.


When adding them into your training program, start with around 60% of your one rep max for anywhere from 3-4 sets of 3-5 reps. As you become more familiar, you can slowly increase the weight by 2.5-5% of your one rep max. This can be done weekly, but it doesn’t have to be. If you aren’t feeling ready to progress in weight, then stay at the same as the previous week with the goal of performing each rep more efficiently. Try this for 4-6 weeks and then go back to performing standard tempo repetitions and see the difference.


We are programmed to think that every lift should be performed as fast as possible in order to develop the most amount of force, recruit the most fast twitch muscle fibers, etc. The reality is, if we cannot move efficiently within each lift, then speed becomes irrelevant. So if you find yourself struggling to keep good form and tension within a given lift, or just want to change up your training program with a new challenge, try incorporating tempos and see the benefits for yourself.


– Curtis Miller

The Benefits of Hybrid Training.

In today’s world of training and exercise, there are so many programs, training styles, and philosophies floating somewhere around the internet claiming to be the best. Many of which go against the beliefs of some other programs. Two training styles in particular that have typically been believed to contradict one another are bodybuilding and powerlifting.


Typically, when we think of bodybuilding, we think of building muscle. Slow controlled repetitions using moderate weight with an emphasis on muscular contraction in order to build lean muscle. On the flip side, when we think of building strength and power, our mind typically goes to powerlifting. Explosive and forceful repetitions using heavier weights and higher intensities with the goal of building maximal strength. Both of these concepts have their place and can play an important role within a training program, regardless of the intended goal. The problem comes with the belief that these concepts must be used separately. In reality, there are many benefits to using them simultaneously. 


I am currently working with a member who is preparing for her second powerlifting meet. Prior to powerlifting, Caroline competed in bodybuilding with very good success. During her time training for bodybuilding, she developed quality lean muscle and balance among all of her muscle groups. Over the past year, she decided to give powerlifting a shot and found out that she loved it. Due to her background in bodybuilding, she already moved with great control, but her repetitions somewhat lacked the force production needed to move maximal weights which she needed for powerlifting. Keep in mind, this is very typical for someone just starting out. Over the last few weeks, she has progressed greatly with her mindset and approach to each repetition, and her overall strength has been increasing significantly due to her ability to move the bar with greater intent.


We have realized that the combination of her bodybuilding mindset and background was helping her with her strength training. Her ability to control the weight and feel her muscles engaging, combined with her explosiveness from her athletic background was unlocking some hidden potential. This is the same mindset that I have carried during my time as a competitive powerlifter, and something that I believe will help anyone even if they are not competing. In doing so, this has the ability to build lean muscle, increase coordination and motor control, decrease the chance of injury, and develop greater strength and power, just to name a few. All of which are things that we all will benefit from throughout our lifetime.


So the next time you’re training, don’t just focus on moving the weight slow and controlled, or solely think about being explosive and fast. Take the time to learn what it feels like to use both, and how they can both benefit your overall goals and outlook on training.