Blog Archives

Top 5 Pieces of Strength Equipment you Can’t live Without

Picture this scenario: You have a few thousand dollars burning a hole in your pocket and you want to build yourself a home gym. Of course, a few thousand dollars in normal circumstances cannot outfit a complete commercial quality gym selection of equipment, but most definitely can purchase the bare essentials for a good workout. So let’s say this few thousand dollars can net you a total of FIVE pieces of strength equipment, what do you choose? Strength Militia staff did a private polling of over 1000 strength enthusiasts and asked them this exact question, with no restriction on price, but you could only choose your top 5 pieces. Below are the TOP FIVE responses we received from our poll. Enjoy!

1) Power Rack: This was an obvious no-brainer for most since the traditional power rack is capable of offering a wide variety of exercises in a single unit. And, depending on your choice of power rack, many of the ones available today come with band attachments, dip bars, pull up bars, and the like. But, what good is a power rack without one of the most important accessories to the rack, the barbell, which leads us to selection #2.

2) The Barbell: There are varying types of barbells to purchase but one thing remains the same with all, the barbell is a very useful piece of equipment. Paired with a nice power rack, the barbell is highly important for mainstay exercises like the squat (front, back, overhead, etc.), bench press (flat, incline, decline, etc.), floor press, standing press, deadlift rack pulls, and more. Outside of the rack, the barbell is great for various exercises like deadlifts (sumo, conventional, etc.), bent over row, Olympic weightlifting and other accessory lifts. But, what good is a 45lb barbell without more weight creating added resistance; hello selection #3!!

3) Bumper Plates: The problem with conventional steel plates is they don’t rebound well when dropped from above the shoulder, or even from six inches from the ground for that matter. This is why when polled, most chose to have a nice set of bumper plates as one of their necessary pieces of equipment. Not only are bumper plates fine to use in everyday strength training, they are also one of the most important items used when training in Olympic weightlifting.

4) Bench: What good is a power rack, barbell, and bumper plates if you don’t have a bench to bench press with? Not only that, a good bench can be used in other ways like step ups, box squats, jump box,hip bridges, bench dips, and other various accessory exercises. In the poll, people did not specify what type of bench they wanted, flat or adjustable, but lets just say for the sake of variety the adjustable one since it allows for more exercises than the purely flat bench.

5) Dumbells: I know what you are all thinking, why do we need a set of dumbells if we have a perfectly good barbell and bumper plates? The short and obvious answer is, because they said so. When we were outfitting my old gym we purchased a set of rubber hex dumbells (10lbs-100lbs) for a little over $1000. This to me was an invaluable purchase since dumbells add that many more exercises to your regimen, making your workouts much more successful.

Whatever equipment you find invaluable, whatever wets your whistle, as long as you can get the workout you desire it is the perfect choice, for you. Some of the notable runner ups for this poll were powerlifting chains, bands, Olympic rings, and lifting belts. Please comment below with your top five strength equipment choices. Thanks for reading!

Advertisements

Westside for Skinny Bastards, Part III

Joe DeFranco of DeFranco’s Training is a leader in the no bullshit type strength and conditioning that has gained popularity over the past several years. Work hard, get results, end of story. Joe’s third and final installment of Westside for Skinny Bastards is awesome and you should check it out. The program is a super detailed, easy to follow plan all laid out for you, just follow along and get bigger and stronger.

From Joe DeFranco: WS4SB

After a year of answering questions about my original article and making modifications to it in the gym with my athletes, I decided to write Part 2. In that second installment, I discussed how to incorporate running workouts into the original training template. Another two years have passed now, and the avalanche of questions involving WS4SB continues to kill my inbox! This is what prompted me to sit down and provide more answers to the most common questions people have been asking. In this, my third and final chapter, I will clarify the following:

  • A new 4-day-a-week strength training template for the off-season
  • Explanation of warm-up sets
  • New ways to incorporate speed training and conditioning into the program
  • Sample in-season training templates
  • Bonus “Washed-up Meathead” template
  • The importance of including “indicator” exercises in your program

The Plan:

4-DAY STRENGTH TRAINING TEMPLATE

My original Skinny Bastard template consisted of three strength training days with an optional fourth day. Although a 3-day template is sufficient for building size and strength, I quickly realized that most people want to train more. WS4SB3 will now provide you with a 4-day strength training template. It’s been over three years since I wrote the original article, so it’s about time you skinny bastards graduated to a 4-day split that more closely resembles a “traditional” Westside split! First, I’ll reveal the new and improved template. After that, I’ll go over the specific details you’ll need to know.

MONDAYMax-Effort Upper Body
TUESDAYDynamic-Effort Lower Body
WEDNESDAY – Off
THURSDAYRepetition Upper Body
FRIDAYMax-Effort Lower Body
SATURDAY – Off
SUNDAYOff

You can also split up the training like this…

MONDAYMax-Effort Lower Body
TUESDAYOff
WEDNESDAYMax-Effort Upper Body
THURSDAYOff
FRIDAYDynamic-Effort Lower Body
SATURDAYOff
SUNDAYRepetition Upper Body

Now that the new template is in place, I’ll reveal the changes I’ve made since my original article…

Battle of the Champions 2014

Battle-of-Champions

Really cool vids from the practice of the Battle of the Champions powerlifting comp hosted in Russia. I posted the results below.

Final results of the “Battle of Champions-2014″ Arkhangelsk, Russia
cash prize – $100.000
Benchpres RAW
1 – Kirill Sarychev (Russia) 326kg (719 lb) b/w 179kg (393.8 lb)
2 – Roman Eremashvili (Belarus) 218kg (479,6 lb) b/w 67,4kg (148.3 lb)
3 – Laslo Mezharosh (Hungary) 295kg (649 lb) b/w 132,5kg (291.5 lb)

Deadlift RAW
1 – Andrey Belyaev (Russia), 395kg (869 lb) b/w 89,9kg (197.7 lb)
2 – Konstantin Pozdeev (Russia) 405kg (891 lb) b/w 103kg (226.6 lb)
3 – Sergey Daragan (Russia) 403,5kg (887.7 lb) b/w 119,2kg (262.24 lb)

 

The Truth about Vegi-Oils

You sure you want to cook with the same oil used to power this dudes car??

I have been reading a lot about different types of oils recently, which ones to avoid, and of course which ones to use in daily food preparation. Well, I stumbled upon this article on Thankyourbody.com that I felt was a great overview of the good and bad oils, and so instead of being redundant, I went ahead and posted the link to the article below. Enjoy!!

Here is a snippet from the article regarding type of oils to use and which ones to avoid.

Oils that are OK to use:

  • Coconut Oil (Use expeller-pressed to avoid a coconut flavor)
  • Tallow
  • Lard
  • Butter
  • Palm Oil (Although, please find from a sustainable source as so much palm oil today is being harvested in horrific ways. When in doubt just stick with coconut oil.)
  • Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (Great for non-heat dishes like salad dressings, humus, mayo, etc. Can be used in cooking at lower temperatures or when combined with another saturated fat like butter or coconut oil.)
  • Avocado Oil (Great for non-heat dishes)
  • Other fats (not necessarily for cooking, but essential to good health) include meats, eggs, dairy, and fish (nuts are also good in moderation as they have a high level of polyunsaturated fats).

Oils to be used sparingly:

The following oils are okay in moderations. Most contain high levels of Omega-6 fatty acids, so they shouldn’t be consumed freely. But they are considered natural fats, and do have health benefits. They are not great for high heat cooking, but acceptable in dressings, mayos, and other non-heat foods.

  • Walnut Oil
  • Flaxseed Oil
  • Macadamia Nut Oil

Oils to avoid completely:

Here’s the big list I avoid as much as possible:

  • Canola Oil
  • Corn Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • “Vegetable” oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Safflower Oil
  • Cottonseed Oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Margarine
  • Shortening
  • Any fake butter substitutes

http://thankyourbody.com/vegetable-oils/

Online Coaches (The 4 Golden Rules)

 

Throwback Thursday article regarding the surge in online coaches; this was written by two well known people in the industry, Dave Tate (Elite FTS) and John Meadows. Enjoy!

“With the recent surge in online coaches, I thought I would share a little something Dave Tate and I put together (mostly Dave) to help you assess if someone is worthy of your hard earned dough.
Here are the 4 Golden Rules:
1. What is their education? … Do they have a degree? In a related field? BS, Masters, PHD? Certifications? Continuing Education? Internships? Work History? Mentors? Self Thought? It’s very important that they understand how to translate education, studies, etc into actual client scenarios too. This is critical. On a scale of 1-5 where do they rank? 5 would be advanced degree, internship and 2-3 very good mentors. Work back from there. If they are only self thought they get a 1 or 2. 2.
2. What have they done? Do they lift? Did they play sports? What level? How long? How long to get to the top level? How long did they stay at top level? What adversity did they face? If they are so good at coaching, they should have at least been able to get results with themself.
A 5 would be the person who busted ass for years to get into the top 10%. They faced adversity and had to earn every pound and sacrificed and paid a price for it. A 1 would be the person who did nothing. A 2 would be the genetic freak/anomoly who hit the top fast and never really faced adversity.
3. Who have they trained? Who are their clients? Do they have any? Did they ever have any? What hands on experience do they have? Have they created people better than they were? Have they worked with beginners? Intermediate? Advanced?
A 5 would have worked with every skill level and has made people better than they were (are). They have years of experience doing so and have many tools in the box. A 1 lies about who they have trained. I also wouldn’t give a 5 to those who only work with advanced or pro athletes. A real coaches knows not just how to work with pros but also how to create them.
4. Who coached them and who have they trained with? Do they know how to listen? Follow directions? Were they coached by the best or by nobody at all? Have they trained with champions (it rubs off). Do they know when to drive and push hard and when to back down? Do they know how a squat should look, feel and sound? Do they know basic gym manners.
A 5 has been coached by the best and has learned respect for it. A one has never been coached by anyone who pushed them hard, disagreed with and learned to respect. Typically these are know it alls. Avoid at all costs. If you find a perfect 20 its REALLY rare. The goal would be to find a 16 or better. They won’t be cheap but they will get you where you need to go and the extra money you do spend will be nothing compared to the medical expense and downtime working with a 12 or below. Hope this helps.”

Grabbing Bars – Hitting PR’s

Picture 112

It has been a while since I have hit a solid PR on the conventional deadlift. I believe the last “real” PR I had was back in 2012 when I hit 350lbs x 1. Last week I hit 315 x 2 which I am unsure if I had done before. In years past, I never doubled any weight over 300lbs as I was usually working towards a heavy single vs. heavy double. This week I decided that I wanted to hit 315lbs x 2 again, which felt easy. So,  I decided to bump it up another 10lbs to hit a solid 325lbs x 2 PR. It actually felt really good and I want to continue to push through these heavy weights with a goal of hitting over 350lbs again for a single. I edited the full video (you can kind of catch the beginning part) but my face was priceless when I finished the lift; It was like huh, I actually did it.

Rack Chat: To Spot or Not to Spot…

spotting

Spotting, we have all been told it is something that NEEDS to happen anytime we are lifting weights heavier than we are accustomed to. We spot on bench, we spot on squat, and we even spot on things like bicep curls and what not. I think spotting is important, don’t get me wrong. However, I don’t use a spotter, too many variables that could go wrong when asking for a spot (see video below). One recent really epic spotting mishap was when Brandon Lilly went down while squatting in competition. They had two side spotters, and one from behind and no one could have reacted fast enough, or been able to catch as much weight as was on it in time. I understand why the spotters are there, but there are certain circumstances in which spotters can do nothing to prevent major catastrophic fails…and you cant guess when they will happen.

Spotting Positives

  • Safety
  • Potential for gainz
  • Potential for more reps, or heavier weight

Spotting Negatives:

  • False sense of security
  • Spotters who do to much (see video)
  • Potential awkwardness…(see pic above)

Beast of the Week: Andrey Malanichev

a

I have been a big fan of Andrey Malanichev for years. He recently competed at the GPA world championships and went 435/260/405 for 1100kg @ 146kg, raw (with wraps). That’s 959/573/892 – 2425lb @ 321lbs, which is a world record number.

“Andrey skipped his opener because he wasn’t done warming up yet. He took 435kgs-959lbs as his first squat on the 2nd attempts and it was a very fast, easy lift. He jumped to 455kgs-1,003lbs on his last attempt to try and break the all time highest raw squat ever in history. He finished the lift just as easy as his first, but it was a no lift. I’m still not sure why though? He destroyed that lift. -Eric Lilliebridge”

It is with great confidence that we vote Andrey Malanichev as this weeks Beast of the Week. I am sure we will continue to see this powerful Russian destroy  lifts on his way to more records.

Here are the clips from the meet:

Squat:

Deadlift:

Compilation: Including Bench Press Lift

Brandon Lilly – Broken Knee Cap: LA Fit Expo

8d93f944870211e389ba12538dcb3c3c_8
Brandon Lilly suffered an injury this weekend at the LA Fit Expo during his final squat attempt @ 744lbs. It has been stated through the grapevine that he has suffered a broken knee cap and some ligament/tendon damage in the same area (knee). I will update this post with any new info I receive on Brandon’s condition. Strength Militia wishes Brandon a speedy recovery!
From Brandon Lilly – 1/27/14
First I want to than Steve Denison for the invitation to compete in such a great event. Second congrats to Daniel Green for yet another World Record.
On my squat as I descended my left knee popped wildly, and gave out,… causing similar strain to the right leg. Thank everyone of the crew onstage, and EMT’s on the scene.
As of right now without surgery I’d never walk again as I sheared my ACL, meniscus, patella, tore both quad tendons, and MCL in both knees and the knee cap in my left knee will be replaced. I go in for surgery in 10-15 minutes, I just wanted to thank every single person for the comments, status updates, texts, and emails. This is just a bump in the road.
I have one of the best knee surgeons in the US. Say a prayer or keep me in your thoughts… I appreciate you all very much, and I’ll see you on the flip side.

— with Brandon Lilly.

Update: 1/27/14: Brandon Lilly was injured in his third squat attempt at the LA Fit Expo on Sunday January 26th. According to Chad Wesley Smith, Brandon has broken his left knee cap in half, and there is likely ligament damage in both knees. Brandon Lilly will undergo surgery this morning to repair meniscus, patella tendon and quad tendon tears in both legs, as well as an ACL tear and totally fractured (like in 2 very distinct pieces) patella in the left leg. We will give you more updates as information becomes available.

Juggernaut Training Systems

“We are at the hospital and he is back from x-rays and has broken his left knee cap completely in half. Likely ligament damage in both knees.”

The Video:

Beast of the Week: Arnold Schwarzenegger

What does Beast of the Week Mean? If Strength Militia chooses a certain person for BOTW it means they have done something extraordinary in the area of wellness, fitness, strength and conditioning, bodybuilding, powerlifting, CrossFit, or anything health related. We at Strength Militia feel that if someone does something special in fitness they should be acknowledged for it…hence, the Beast of the Week honor.

Arnold Schwarzenegger played an integral role in the acceptance of bodybuilding, powerlifting, and fitness in general by the public. Arnie has multiple powerlifting titles as well as six straight Mr. Olympia Titles; in our opinion he had one of the best bodybuilding physiques of all time. We listed some of his PR’s from his career, damn impressive if we do say so ourselves. Hats off the Arnold Schwarzenegger for claiming our first installment of the Beast of the Week title. The world probably wouldn’t be the same without you Arnie; thanks for your contribution to the growth and continued support of the bodybuilding, weightlifting, and the powerlifting communities.

P.S. Thanks for the movie Pumping Iron, still a favorite of mine to this day.

Powerlifting/Weightlifting

During Arnold’s early years in bodybuilding, he also competed in several Olympic weightlifting & Powerlifting contests. Arnold won 2 weightlifting contests in 1964 & 1965, as well as 2 powerlifting contests in 1966 & 1968.

In 1967, Schwarzenegger competed in and won the Munich stone-lifting contest, in which a stone weighing 508 German pounds (254 kg/560 lbs.) is lifted between the legs while standing on two foot rests.

Personal records

Bodybuilding

Schwarzenegger’s goal was to become the greatest bodybuilder in the world, which meant becoming Mr. Olympia. His first attempt was in 1969, when he lost to three-time champion Sergio Oliva. However, Schwarzenegger came back in 1970 and won the competition, making him the youngest ever Mr. Olympia at the age of 23, a record he still holds to this day.

He continued his winning streak in the 1971–74 competitions. In 1975, Schwarzenegger was once again in top form, and won the title for the sixth consecutive time, beating Franco Columbu. After the 1975 Mr. Olympia contest, Schwarzenegger announced his retirement from professional bodybuilding.