Bench press, the perceived holy grail of upper body strength. Starting from the first time you wrapped your hands around the cool steel of a barbell, the ultimate conquest has been to increase how much weight you can load on the bar and press. First, it was to claim a spot on the sacred high school weight room chart. Then, it was to build a better set of pecs worthy of flexing for the girls at spring break in college. Now, it’s to continue chasing the physique you had back then by doing the same stuff that worked when you were 20.
The purpose of this post is to ensure you are choosing the right training stimulus specific to your goal. Not the most riveting literary topic you’ll find but if you’ve ever wondered why despite killing yourself in the gym, you look the same and aren’t getting stronger, it may be time to focus on a key concept of training that I see butchered on a regular basis.
Regardless of your training goals, whether it’s to build strength, jump higher, run faster, or look better, one movement pattern that must be trained is the squat. Any decent strength coach would agree that perfecting and building strength in this motor pattern will provide trainees a lengthy list of benefits
When it comes to training, most people are looking for absolute clear-cut answers when they ask a question. Whether it’s regarding how much cardio is necessary, how many sets/reps they should do, or if they should just bail on training all together and seek the help of a plastic surgeon, there is never an easy answer.
Unless the question falls into the waist trainer, juice cleanse, or elevation mask category of moronic, 99.9% of the time the answer is going to be “it depends”
When I started blogging, as a rule, I wanted to make it about you, the reader. If I didn’t focus on writing content that would help my readers improve then why would they read it? When I dig around online, it's crazy how many fitness bloggers and insatagramers ramble on about themselves like anyone cares. Pictures of their abs, half-assed written motivational quotes, pretty much everything across the board except quality info targeted to make their audience better.
Flat bench, incline bench, dumbbell bench, decline bench, flyes. If I just described your chest workout, don’t sweat it, you aren’t alone. If I just described your entire lifting program however, then get help, like now. The typical bro chest session has been around forever and is based on what is commonly thought of as the holy grail of chest development, the barbell bench press.
Squats: the unquestioned king of leg day. The Jay Z of strength training. Both squats and Jay Z are timeless contributors with the accolades and street cred to go along with it. Both have been genuine, authentic, fantastically talented pillars of the industry throughout their life span, earning the respect they garner for good reason. Jay Z and squats are in rare company in that they pass the “if you only had one for the rest of your life, what would you choose?” test for their respective arenas.
We as a human race are gullible. Even with modern technology, satellite photos, history books, the internet, etc., there exists a contingent of human beings (click here) who are convinced that Earth is flat. While I don’t possess the expertise to get into an astronomy debate with anyone with even a rudimentary education of the solar system, I can look at a globe and see it’s round.
For the first 8 years of my career in fitness, I had the pleasure of working in a cardiac rehab program. Of all my work in the field, this was probably the most rewarding. While helping someone etch out a six pack is kind of cool, it doesn’t really compare to helping a victim of a major heart event get back on their feet.
It’s been a long week. Between training clients, helping some readers with calorie tracking after reading last week's post (click here), and writing an article submission for another site, I haven’t had much time for timmyhendren.com content. So, I did what every self-respecting d-bag does when time is limited in the gym, bicep curls. While you’ll frequently hear experts downplay direct arm work in favor of hitting the major muscle groups with compound movements, I’ve yet to meet anyone who wouldn’t be happy with a chiseled set of biceps and triceps during tank top season.
Somewhere along the way, how we consume food has become a polarizing topic. We are surrounded by experts. If person X lost 15lbs on a new fad diet, it must be the secret that is holding person Y back from strolling to the pool looking like Brad Pitt in Fight Club. Also, according to person X, if person Y decides they like a different fad diet, not only will they fail, but something they read online said they will die from a flesh-eating virus due to lack of bacteria in the small intestine, or something like that.
It’s that time of year again, January 1st, a time of year where the masses resolve to improve their lives in several different areas. When it comes to resolutions, a high percentage are going to involve exercise and nutrition. As you peek into any fitness facility, you can be sure that poor form, worse exercise selection, horrific etiquette, and a general sense of cluelessness are commonplace. No other time of year is it ordinary to find someone wearing a plastic suit, doing half-assed burpees with a weighted vest in the squat rack while the google results to “how to lose 30lbs in 30 minutes” are still loading on his iPhone.
It’s funny, when I think of some of the concepts I use in my training and spend long portions of the day teaching to clients, it makes me laugh. My 21-year old self would mock the hell out of my present-day self instructing a client to “feel the lats squeeze when you drive your elbows back!” or “squeeze your butt as hard as you can at the top of the movement!”
If you are following any competent strength training program, you should be performing a variety of heavy compound movements such as bench press, overhead press, rows and pulldowns/pull-ups for the upper body. If you aren’t, it’s time to bail on your current program and start from scratch. Those are the basic movements of which there are a million different variations but including them is required for gains in size or strength. My holiday analogy would be to think of these movements as the turkey and mashed potatoes of your training program, everything else is a side dish.
When it comes to snacking, it’s hard to go wrong with chips. Pretzels and crackers are cool, no doubt, but chips are where it’s at. BBQ, sour cream and onion, and if you’re around the Baltimore area, crab chips lead the way for me. What’s not to love about a snack with great flavor, a good crunch, and just the right amount of grease? Ahhh yes, the calories and macros. There is a price to pay for that glorious snacking and it comes in the form of double chins and man boobs.
Recently, I have been getting a fair amount of questions about in-home workouts. I have been reluctant to answer because my honest response is usually “join a gym”. Depending on where you live, there is a gym in what seems like every square mile or so. Gyms are good, even crappy ones are still pretty good because they have weights. The science says weights make you sexy and strong. My advice is usually go to where they keep weights and work-out there.
Outside of the small window of prohibition, alcohol has been a legal, socially acceptable form of altering your state of consciousness that everyone over the legal age could enjoy. Booze is everywhere, it’s been handed out at church for centuries, you can get it on a plane ride, even some grocery store chains are encouraging getting a drink during your weekly food shopping run.