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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!

Beast of the Week: Andrey Malanichev

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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

Rack Chat: Partial Squats vs. Full Squats

A little over a year ago there was a video going viral around the strength and conditioning community; essentially it was a video of a “strength coach” telling some Olympians that partial squats are the way to go nowadays instead of those dangerous full squats. Anyways, I am not going to beat a dead horse and pick the video apart…mostly because the dudes over at 70’s Big have already done just that. Enjoy.

The Video:

The 70’s Big Response:

I’m really good at pointing out things that are wrong, so let’s get started.

1. Nobody in this video can string a sentence together confidently. At one point Maurice Greene says that the coach is going “to facilitate us on the weightroom”. Huh??? Then he says, “Here we have Montel Douglas who is the British national record holder…for Great Britain…and shit.” I added the last part because they undoubtedly had to edit that part out. Then the coach makes up his sentence as he goes along as if he’s never had to think about it before. Then he says the squat is “important for a track athlete to simply create force into the ground”. To clarify, we don’t summon force out of thin air like a demon, we apply force into the ground so that Newton’s third law occurs (equal and opposite reaction) to move. I’m not expecting this explanation, but I am expecting correct terminology when you’re a supposed expert.

I could keep going. “We go a hip-width distance” — of what? “We feel that halfway to a quarter is deep enough,” — sharing your feelings is not a way to prove why to do something.

Sure, even I have bad days with communicating, but this was terrible. What is Montel the world record holder of? Why should track athletes lift weights? What is this squat movement accomplishing? Why is this “new” movement beneficial?

2. “What better exercise to load the lower body than the barbell squat,” and then he hardly loads the body by doing a partial rep. And wasn’t this the reason that Maurice stated that they didn’t want to go deeper?

3. ”Puts a lot of stress on yo body, creates injuries…and shit”. If you perform the squat like Maurice Greene, who is labeling himself as the expert, then yes, they can be injurious. In fact, decent squats can be injurious if regular mobility work isn’t performed. This is why a proper squat is done with the hip going below the knee so that it trains the lower body joints and musculature through a full range of motion. This is also why proper foot attire is worn to increase the efficiency and subsequently the safety. Remember that lifting shoes have the slight heel increase, the non-compressible sole, the meta-tarsal straps, and the wider sole base to help solidify the articulation of the athlete to the ground so that they can properly apply force. Furthermore, lifting shoes help utilize the body’s mechanics more efficiently to distribute force evenly across the thighs and hips regardless of anthropometry. A belt will only increase all of this efficiency by increasing the intra-abdominal and thoracic pressure, increasing the stability of the trunk which will not only improve the transmission of force (AKA performance), but help protect the spine by improving the pneumatic “brace” against the anterior portion of the spine.

The rest of the response can be found in the link below…

http://70sbig.com/blog/2012/08/a-part-of-me-died/

Rack Chat: Back Squats vs. Front Squats

There is a ongoing argument within the fitness community on which squat is better, the front squat, or the back squat. Lets call this the beer vs. wine debate. Some like wine, some like beer, others like none or both. In the end though we should all know beer has its place at the local watering hole, and wine serves its purpose at classed up dinner parties. This is probably a bad analogy but I going to run with it. I think the same can be said for front and back squats. I don’t think any one is better than the other, rather each one serves a specific purpose and both should be implemented in a strength program(given the clients limitations). I personally implement front, back, overhead, and box squat into my strength program. I find I enjoy the variety, each serves a purpose, and they keep my program dynamic and strength gains are maximized.

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There is a great article titled “A Biomechanical Comparison of Back and Front Squats in Health Trained Individuals” that goes over each lift, and the differences between the two. It is a good read, check it out.

There was another blog posted on the Elite FTS website on the advantages of the front squat which sparked quite a debate in the comments section. I would encourage you to read the comments, pretty funny stuff.

Seven Points to Getting Stronger – A Basic Road Map

So you’ve been cutting work and bailing on your responsibilities to hit the gym three times a day for the last handful of months.  You’re training partner knows more about you than your own family.  You’ve even shaved your chest and fake tanned, but the problem is you’re still benching 135 and can’t dead lift your body weight.  What’s the deal?  Your girl is gonna be pissed when she finds out you’ve been ditching her every night to lift, and you still can’t squat 225.

Below are 7 points to consider on your way to deltoid domination.

1) GOALS – Rich FroningKendrick FarrisOh…So you want to be the next Rich Froning or Kendrick Ferris ?  Good for you.  So do I.  But let’s be realistic.  What do you want to clean & jerk in three, six, even twelve months?  WRITE IT DOWN!  What’s the saying? You’re 110% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down or something like that? I don’t know but it WORKS.  Give yourself something to focus on.  Look at it every day.  Think about it when you walk into the gym.  Make the goals tough yet achievable.  Don’t sell yourself short.  I often find that people are much stronger than they believe they are.  Own the mental game, or it will own you.  Goals…It does a body good.

2) PROGRAMMING – You’re not a planner are you?  I saw you at the gym looking like the new kid at school.  Do you know what you’re doing today?  More importantly, what are you doing the rest of the week, next week, next month?  See where I’m going with this? If you don’t have a plan, how do expect to hit your goal of a 225 bench?  If you don’t know how to program or what to do to reach your swoll goal, find someone that knows what they’re doing to program for you.  Look up Wendler, Smolov, or Hatch and follow those programs.  They are well-known and proven strength programs you can use to get stronger, and they are readily available on the internet for free.  Guess what? Your four sets of 8-12 reps ain’t gonna get you a 225 bench press.

3) WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN – Did I shoulder press 175 or 185 last week? Hmmm…Well I forgot my pre-workout so I’ll just do 175. SOFT. HTFU and start writing EVERYTHING down.  It’s called accountability.  Write down your weights, reps, how they felt, if they were good or shitty reps, if the moon was waxing or waning…I don’t give a shit. Write down the color hair of the girl you were creepily staring at if that helps.  For example, you might lift the same weight this week as you did last week, but this week your reps and form we’re solid.  That’s a gain.  Be happy about it.  I bet you wouldn’t have recognized that before your started writing everything down.  This also gives you a point of reference – If you did a max set of 15 pullups this week, no doubt you can do that many again next week.  And when you try again, you have a benchmark to shoot for…16 reps.  What’s that?  You did 17?  Check you out.
4) YOUR FORM IS AWFULAwful DeadliftHoly shit, put that bar down before you permanently change the genetics in your back so your future children aren’t affected.  You sure as hell aren’t going to deadlift twice your body weight with that noodle spine.  Check your ego at the door and lift within your means.  Lift with the best form possible, and watch your numbers increase.  Don’t know how to perform a specific movement or lift?  Find someone that does.  Shit, pay a qualified trainer $25 to take you through the movements and show you proper technique.  $25 is a lot less than the cost of a knee replacement.  How about this – Put yourself through an On-Ramp program at your local CrossFit gym.  In two weeks you’ll learn well enough how to back squat, front squat, overhead squat, deadlift, press, push press, push jerk, split jerk, clean and snatch.  You don’t know what half that is? That’s because you’ve been spending too much time on the Smith machine.  And remember – you have to constantly refine your form just as much as you do your golf swing.  FOUR!
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5) REST– Bro, take it easy.  That’s right; a rest day might actually HELP you.  After all, your muscles have been working overtime every day for the past few weeks.   Listen to your body.  Are you tired?  Are you stupid sore?  I have a solution for you – Take the day off.  Two days off?  Sure, if you’ve been hitting it hard.  Don’t stress about it.  A couple days is not going to derail your training.  Some of my best PR’s have come after traveling for a week or two and not lifting a finger the entire time.  Intensity gets results…Crazy right?

6) YOUR DIET SUCKS – Donuts Look, I’m not a dietician, so I’m not going to beat the proverbial diet horse.  It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to tell you to put down the pizza, ditch the donuts, and skip the soda .  Or maybe you’re on the other end of the spectrum – Eat something…ANYTHING.  Your car will run like shit with bad gas, and won’t run at all if the tank is empty.  Eat a lot, and eat WELL. There are a million different beliefs on diet, what’s healthy and why, when to eat, where to get carbs, etc.  Find something that works for you and use it as a framework.  It’s going to take some time, trial and error, and adjusting to really dial in your diet. But do me a favor…Try to pick ingredients with some redeeming value, please?

7) PUT OUT THE VIBE – This has nothing to do with directly getting strong, but I think it’s just as important.  You gotta find that headspace where you believe you can rip Hulk Hogan’s bandana off before he crushes you like a soda can.  Figure out what gets you pumped.  Sitting in the gym listening to Adele feeling sorry for yourself ain’t gonna get your adrenaline racing.  Grab some buddies, turn on some Pantera, and get to work.  Yell at each other, high five, scream, chest bump…I don’t care what you do, just build some momentum, have fun, and get strong. BRO SESH!
Bro Sesh