Trainers/trainees make the mistake of beginning a strength routine and going straight for the heavyweights.

This usually ends up causing an injury. An individual has no business using load if he/she cannot stabilize, control and move efficiently with only their bodyweight, If you can’t stabilize your shoulder girdle and core doing push-ups then there is no way you should be under a bench press bar.

For example, you should also be able to get a full range (ass to grass) bodyweight squat or correctly hip hinge while maintaining a neutral lower back. If not then what do you think will happen if you move into positions your body can’t stabilise under load?

Hint: it won’t be pretty!

So your strength program in the beginning stages may actually include little or no weights whatsoever. It will work better and faster than a typical program that relies primarily on weights and machines in the beginning stages.

A quick example of how I like to implement this with my clients:

Guys should be able to do 20 push-ups before I have them barbell bench pressing.

How many of you were joining International Bench Press Day (aka Monday) before you could do 20 good push-ups?

If that’s you then I would suggest rethinking your strategy.



Once you’ve got bodyweight exercises sussed then adding external load is key to transforming your physique.

We aren’t talking triceps kickbacks here though. Instead, use a multi-joint exercise.

For example, the front squat. This exercise may be the single most athletic exercise. You’ll get leg and core strength, wrist, knee, hip, shoulder and ankle flexibility all in a single exercise.

Similarly to get more bang for your buck, compound lifts such as squats, deadlifts, overhead presses should be a fundamental component of any good strength and conditioning program.

Lifting big weights in these movements brings with it many benefits, burning more calories, recruiting more muscle fibres, working for more muscle groups, making you stronger and look like a bad-ass!



This is crucial, stress hormones like cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline can play havoc with muscle development and body composition. Being stressed produces a catabolic effect, breaking down muscle tissue which leads to muscular atrophy, fat accumulation and even susceptibility to infections and illnesses. You can only train as hard as you can rest, do not overlook this or do so at your own peril.

In fact for great results you want to train as hard an often as possible WITHOUT EXCEEDING your capacity to recover.

The two opportunities for your body to recovery are when sleep and eat.

So here are 5 simple tips for a good nights sleep:

  1. Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. This includes weekends!
  2. Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine.

For example, read a good book (fiction is best, not work or education-related book), drink chamomile tea, soak in a hot bath or listen to soothing music (classical is good).

Give yourself time to unwind and begin this process 30 mins to an hour before the time you want to fall asleep.

  1. Make sure your bedroom is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool. This is the most sleep conducive environment.
  2. Finish eating at least 3 hours before your bedtime
  3. Avoid caffeine after 4 pm.

For tips on eating to support your recovery read this article (link to top 10 nutrition strategies)



Any machine limits the range of motion and controls the movement. This is fine for beginners, but athletes need to be able to stabilize and control their bodies in all three planes of motion simultaneously.

As a result, the foundation of your training programme should involve free weights.




“Tempo” is the speed at which you lift the weight.

On the off chance that you go to most rec centres or gym far and wide the greater part lift at a quite quick beat, say a 1 second eccentric (negative or bringing down) and a 1 second

concentric (positive or raising).

You ought to change the “tempo” at which you train and this can be worked into the “plan” in the scaled-down blocks.

A few examples of how to change the tempo are slowing down both the eccentric and concentric pausing in the top or the bottom of the movement.

By changing the TEMPO you will expand the time under strain and along these lines power the muscles to adjust to an alternate pressure.

This is something that should be part of your plan and it should be recorded in each session.

Manipulating tempo is just another variable like sets, reps, weight, frequency, volume, and rest to be varied. Don’t miss out on it. According to Derek Woodske manipulating tempo is like turning your training programme from 2D to 3D!



The majority of strength training programs take place in the sagittal plane with bilateral movements. However, the majority of sport takes place in all 3 planes simultaneously with primarily unilateral movements. EVERY single sports conditioning program should include split squats, step-ups and/or lunge variations at some point. 85% of the gait cycle (walking, running) is spent on one leg. Over 70% of the muscles of the core run in a rotational plane.

Does your training program reflect that?



“The faintest ink is better is more reliable than the best memory.”

By keeping an accurate journal you will have a record of what you have done and what you are aiming to beat the next session. This increases the chances that you are making progress, and if you are not then the journal itself will have the answers to why you are not making progress.



Everybody seems to understand that training load should be progressively increased. Few understand that the training stimulus must also be progressively and periodically varied.

All programs have positive and negative aspects no matter how well designed or specific – too much time on one program and you’ll habituate to the positive aspects and accumulate the negative aspects.

Even the most perfectly balanced program has to have one exercise performed first and another performed last. Not being aware of the potential negatives of this (i.e. one exercise is never trained when you are fresh) can create an injury situation.

Also, make sure you address pushing and pulling on both horizontal and vertical planes and attempt to balance the loading.

If you are bench pressing 400lbs but can only do a chest supported row with 50lbs your shoulder girdle is going to suffer.

If you can’t handle the same loads for two opposing movements then increase the volume of the weaker movement (e.g. by doing an extra exercise or an extra set or two) to compensate. Trust me this might not seem that important now but I’m not just interested in athletic performance, I’m interested in the long term health of my clients.



Try some strongman training: sledge dragging, farmers walks or tyre flips.

How about some uphill sprints?

I’m sick of hearing coaches telling me that they think outside of the box, yet they never leave the confines of their own little box – the weight room.



Is Strength training important?


Is Rest important?


Is Nutrition important?


Is Motivation important?


In other words, it is not about finding a magic formula or ratio/percentage ALL aspects are 100% IMPORTANT for SUCCESS

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