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We all want muscle! After all, that’s why we’re here, and there is no shame in that! However, you should hang your head in shame if you don’t have some sort of strength behind that muscle!
There is nothing worse than seeing someone who looks as jacked as Tarzan but plays like Jane. Think about it logically for a second…Which one do you think is likely to build greater muscle; a 150kg squat or a 200kg squat? The answer is obvious!
So, pump up your iron numbers and watch your strength skyrocket!
Now I can openly admit that I’m not one of the strongest people in the world. However, after using these 4 tips based on Pavel Tsatsouline’s theories found in his book ‘Beyond Bodybuilding’ I am definitely the strongest version of myself.
Tsatsouline came up with the notion of training using high tension techniques; meaning that you should aim to create as much tension as possible throughout your entire body when performing an exercise.
For example, when you grip the barbell, try and crush it in your hand and you will immediately notice energy radiate throughout your arms and shoulders. Also, try corkscrewing your feet into the ground when you perform a shoulder press; this will fire up your glutes, quads, abductors and adductors, and help you finish off with a couple of extra reps.
Here, I demonstrate 4 high tension techniques whilst performing one arm push ups:
• I grip the ground until my fingertips turn white.
• I try and corkscrew my hand into the ground as I push up.
• I squeeze my non-working hand (right), abs and glutes as I push up.
• I hiss as I push up.
Remember, the aim is to create as much muscle tension as possible, especially with your hands and feet, in order to protect yourself and increase your strength.
Ditch the shoes and deadlift barefoot! According to Tsatsouline, a very strong and powerful reflex called the extensor reflex, ‘causes the leg musculature to contract in response to the pressure on the sole of your foot’.
When you deadlift with shoes on, it redirects the pressure and then diminishes the sensitivity in the foot, which doesn’t allow the leg muscles to contract as much.
If you think of Newton’s third law – for every action there is an opposite and an equal reaction. So, the harder you push your feet into the ground, the harder your muscles will work and the easier the lift will be.
Just like deadlifting barefoot, heavy lockouts are a form of reflex training. Not exactly sure what they are? Well, heavy lockouts are when you hold a heavier weight than usual for 5-10 seconds, you then rest and attempt a PR. For example, say your bench press PR is 150kgs; you would hold 165kgs in the locked position for 5-10 seconds. Rack it. Rest a couple of minutes and then attempt a new PR, which may end up being something like 152.5kgs or 155kgs. When you perform heavy lockouts you recruit more muscle fibres. When your body realises that it can deal with a heavier load, the CNS and reflexes in your body think that anything below the locked out weight is a piece of cake.
Want to learn more about this technique? Check out Tsatsouline’s book ‘Beyond Bodybuilding’ where heavy lockouts are explained in greater detail.
As preached by Tsatsouline, hissing is a fantastic technique that will instantly increase your strength. When you are performing an exercise and you reach a sticking point, tighten your glutes and abs and then hiss through pursed lips; this hiss will create abdominal pressure. This is yet another great example of a ‘high tension technique’.
Bonus tip – Single Limb Training
This last tip isn’t instant but it worked for me within 4 weeks and added 10 kilos to my bench PR without benching. I don’t even know why I decided to do this, but I’m glad I did! For 4 weeks I didn’t do anything but single limb exercises such as 1 arm presses, rows, push ups and lat pull downs.
After 4 weeks, I got back into the bench press and hit a new PR. You’re thinking that it must have something to do with the deload, right? Wrong. I already took that into consideration a few weeks prior.
When you perform single limb exercises, your small stabiliser muscles get a chance to catch up to your prime movers. You also get some pretty sweet core training due to all of the anti-rotation that you are preventing.
Implement any of the above tips in your training and watch your numbers and confidence skyrocket!
Grant Lofthouse is a trainer from Australia. He trains average joes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors at his private training facility, Cardio Haters Gym and specializes in building lean muscle and getting ripped without cardio. He also writes for Women’s Health and Fitness.
For more info visit www.cardiohaters.com