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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!

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…

Ready Set Crossfit

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Brad’s gym got a quick write up on a local Detroit blog – http://www.chickinthemitt.com.  Check out the link – Ready Set Crossfit.

Workout Partners: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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Working out is one of your favorite things to do and you want to propel your gains to a level you have never reached before. Your first thought is how many supplements and food can I eat to make #gainz; your second thought however is how to properly choose a workout partner that will help you progress, get stronger, and push those heavy weights. There are a lot of positives and also negatives to workout partners, and this is coming from personal experience with both sides of the coin. Below I will present you with not only the pros and cons of workout partners, but also HOW to choose a proper workout partner based on your specific needs. Enjoy!

Pros:

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Spotting – Want a built in spotter for bench that knows your preferences and is always there to help you hit max weights, this is when a training partner is essential. I personally dislike asking people I don’t know for spots, because most of the time, they aren’t very good at it.

Accountability – There are a lot of people out there who wouldn’t set foot in a gym if it wasn’t for a workout partner motivating them to come. If you are the type of person who needs just a little push from others, a workout partner is almost essential.

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Motivation  – There isn’t a person on earth who would say a good workout partner didn’t help them to make any serious gains. When I had a solid workout partner my bench was at around 320#, it hasn’t been at that weight since 2004, when I had my training partner. A good training partner gives you just enough push to hit weights you wouldn’t normally do on your own.

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Form Police – There is only one way to properly coach form and that is to see it from the outside looking in. You could video all of your lifts but even then a second pair of eyes could be beneficial. A good workout partner will keep his or her eyes on your form at all times and give and constructive criticism when necessary.

 Cons:

Consistency – Some people just don’t want to train as much as they say they do. Your success will suffer if you rely on a training partner who will actually only workout with you once or twice a week, if at all. If this is your training partner, ditch him or her, and train on your own or find a new buddy.

Flakiness – My last training partner would schedule days to go with me to the gym and then cancel the night of. I would then reschedule for another day HOPING he would actually commit. Ultimately, he continued to flake so I stopped reaching out and went to the gym alone.

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Slackers – You may have a training partner who shows up to the gym on-time, every time, and meets all your overall criteria in a gym buddy but there’s just one thing you don’t like, they don’t workout. Its one thing to show up to a gym, its another thing to actually get the training volume in you prefer. I see it all over, training buddies more interested in talking than working. If this is your training partner, try to convert them or give them the boot!! Your success cannot ride on the shoulders of a gym slacker.

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Goals – You and your training partner need to have similar goals. If your partner wants to do all cardio and you want to hit weights, its not going to work out. Find someone looking to get big like you because lets face it, you don’t do cardio.

So how does one choose the perfect workout partner, and frankly, how do you find them? Well, if you consider all the above criteria then it seems like it could be a difficult process. The answer is Yes and no. The first workout partner I had was a co-worker who had the exact same goals as I. He was training at a differnet gym so I said “come to my gym” and from there we started an awesome gym relationship. We pushed each other, had competitions for weight gain, weights pushed or pulled, and just had fun while getting much bigger. We would bounce supplement ideas off each other, what worked, what didn’t. He was always on time and showed up for every workout. He was one of the best training partners I have ever had. I have gone through about 3 others since then and only one other, another co-worker, had matched up perfectly (see above push up picture). My last one was flakey, didn’t work as hard, and was inconsistent. He was a bomb and I dropped him and started working out by myself again. So, pick someone with similar goals, is on time, works hard, and pushes you to make gains safely. When you find this person, and where you find this person is up to you, but they are out there but choose wisely. Make them #gainz!

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)

 

Michael Phelps 12,000+cal Diet Challenge

12,000 calories in one day…psshh!! How about 12,000 calories in less than one hour. This beast of a eater takes on all of those calories in just over 42 minutes…amazing!! Could you do this in one day? Thoughts?
“This is the Michael Phelps Diet Challenge. The challenge is to eat what Michael Phelps claimed to have eaten on his days of training for the Olympics in one sitting.
The Challenge consists of….

BREAKFAST –
  • 5 Egg Omlet
  • 3-Fried Egg & Cheese Sandwiches
  • 3 Chocolate Chip Pancakes
  • 3 French Toast w/ Powdered Sugar
  • Large (4cups) Oatmeal w/ Blueberries
LUNCH –
  • 1+lbs of Pasta w/ Sause
  • 2 Large Ham & Cheese Sandwiches w/ Extra Mayo
DINNER –
  • 1+lbs of Pasta w/ Sause
  • 16″ XL Pepperoni Pizza PLUS
  • Lots (5) Energy Drinks
The whole Diet clocks in at over 12,000 Calories
The Dude can be found here:
https://www.facebook.com/megatoad

The Cost of Protein – Money Wasted Looking Great

Eating well costs money. One could easily live off ramen for a year and save quite a bit of money, but we won’t, because we are worth it. Instead, we are left to spend my money on lean beef,chicken, turkey, fish, veggies, fruit, and expensive healthy fats in order to eat clean.  There was an article years ago on 70’s Big  that breaks down here what the cost is for consumption of protein on a  daily, monthly, and yearly basis. The post is funny as hell, and really does make you realize how much you spend on keeping your physique in top form.

The Link:

http://70sbig.com/blog/2011/08/cost-of-protein/

Too Fit for Planet Fitness

JFZ

There is some more fun news circuiting the internet regarding a woman that was told to cover herself up at Planet Fitness for being “too toned”. I think Planet Fitness needs to really re-evaluate its “Judgment Free Zone” slogan plastered all over their walls as it seems to me that is ALL they do to gym goers. Surprisingly enough, people still join this worthless excuse for a gym which leaves me dumbfounded.

The Article Link

Kevin Ogar: Road To Recovery

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)