COACH FORUM: Strength from anywhere: Your Questions on How to Execute Strength No Matter the Circumstances
Coach Mike here to address and answer your questions about challenges or difficulties that you might have in staying consistent on your strength training. We understand that with busy lives, family, travel, and facility challenges you might not always have the availability to hit strength as described. Here is your forum to ask questions or get ideas about ways or modifications you can make to keep your strength routine happening, which is really what matters most.
I will be answering these questions for the rest of the week. So be sure to drop them here in the Education Hub and we will answer in the comments section.
This concludes this week's Coach Forum. If you have any additional questions, please book a coaching consult.
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Mike, and the Purple Patch StaffComment actions
Question on the squats and dead lifts from home:
Background: I know the ideal build phase strength session would be to go and lift heavy weight at gym. I dead lift/squat 150-200lbs. When that's not possible and I'm at home, I use a 40lb (18kg) barbell, the heaviest I have, and follow the video.
Question: Sets of 8 squats/dead lifts with 40lbs is fairly easy to do for me - how can I adjust when heavier weight is not available? More reps? Buy something heavier?
Coach Mike, can you give some rough guidance in terms of how we might want to be progressing in the big lifts, squats and deadlifts, particularly in this build phase of the season? In other words, should we be looking to add a certain percentage of weight above what we successfully lifted in a prior session each time a squat or DL session appears as a strength workout in our calendars? Further, is there a point during the season where "enough is enough," and we'll stop looking to add weight but perhaps to just maintain? Thanks!
What are your recommendations when mixing a strength training session back to back with a swim session? Does it ever make sense to do the strength before the swim workout to get a more heavy muscle feeling, similar to some of the SE workouts on the bike before some endurance riding? Or would you try to do the swim workout before the strength session?
Alex Fuller + Andrew Luneau great questions there. First off, a 75lb barbell is probably the heaviest barbell I've ever heard of or seen... that is massive, must be some kind of specialty one.
I would recommend in these cases that you actually can lift those lighter weights but add some reps for each set. So maybe instead of 6 or 8 reps, you can do 12 (or even 15 if you feel good) on the days that you have much lighter weights. Additionally, if you do already have a decent barbell at home, I would recommend getting a set of some heavier Bumper plates so that they don't damage your floor, but you can do some heavier deadlifts at home.
The most important is that you keep the movement patterns there, if you miss a heavier day that's not the end of the world... you can feel ever better for your other sessions!
Marty Garcia-Cotter that's a tough one b/c ultimately what needs to happen is you just heal the wrist and follow your PTs rehab procedures. That would be slightly outside my scope of practice to give you recommendations for wrist rehab. I'd prefer you just work on the PT exercises than try to modify mine.
That said, what you can do is double-down on the lower body exercises that you can do with body weight. Good examples of these are Step Ups, Lunges, Single leg deadlift (with no weight), Hollow-body rocks, etc. I would recommend extracting all of the potential Body Weight exercises and put them into a stand alone session called "Marty's Hands-Free Workout" until that thing is healed.
Michael Olzinski sorry should have explained. It's actually a 25lb barbell and I have 2x25lb plates. Thanks for the feedback!
Normcerullo + tiger paton good questions and I'll actually start this answer backwards by answering the last question first. I simply don't see our program being all that long in this phase to get to the "enough is enough" point. We are truly only lifting "HEAVY heavy" for a combined total of 6 (maybe 8 max if the athlete is super experiences) weeks, for the entire year. So that is simply not enough time for you to build so much that it is too much. When we get to the Race Phase, we will be dropping the weight.
I'll quote from the Essentials book on S&C and say this:
"A conservative method that can be used to increase your training load is called the 2-for-2 rule. If you can perform two or more repetitions over your assigned repetition goal in the last set in two consecutive workouts for a certain exercise, weight should be added to that exercise for the next training session. (Baechle, T. and Earle, R.; Essentials of Strength Training and Conditioning)
The quantity of load increases, when progression is warranted, should generally be about 2.5-10%."
In fewer words, I would really only ask for 10% increases on load safely... and since we are doing it for 8 weeks or so you might only add a few. Remember, we are still not asking you to lift to FAILURE. That is not the goal, we are just trying to get a good, efficient response and increase your training capacity. We don't need you PR'ing in any lifts, but you should finish them thinking "Wow, that was a strong." It might take a little trial and error and if you don't nail it this season don't worry, there are more chances in the future.
Brian Black GREAT one there I love that. My best answer here is... how good at swimming are you! The better the swimmer, the more value in a "fatigued" swim. So a pure swimmer or collegiate swimmer might be hitting the gym before a swim to get that activation going and go into their swim a bit heavier to amplify the training effect of swimming while fatigued.
But... if being tired or worked will truly leave you feeling heavy and lose form in the water, then I would not recommend a full strength session before. Doing some Stretch Cords and dryland core exercises would be a great idea, but not a full deadlift, pull up, pressing session (as an example).
If you are super confident swimmer, then I'm all for you using that as some variety and an experiment. But many triathlon swimmers might just lose body position in the water making them a bit slower and sluggish.
I will make a caveat here... for a developing swimmer. IF you have a very easy supporting swim (short, lighter, etc.) and have the time... I would think its fine to try it out! After all, we are athletes.. and if you just adjust your expectations on how great the swim will be, I think everything has it's place and can be interesting!
Coach Mike, let me start by commenting on how well produced your strength videos are. I was wondering if you and/or others are planning to introduce TRX videos or suggestions in the content library.
I had another question - I have lower back niggles and tightness. So I feel very nervous in trying the dead-lifts and loaded back squats. While you do post alternate exercises for them, I was wondering if you can also suggest any machines that might be similar?
I've got another semi related question on the time of the workouts themselves. For example you say in this week's Thursday workout that the back squats can be a 15 minute set. At 5 seconds per squat (slower than you demo in the videos) with a few seconds of break in between each one, x 8 reps, x 4 sets (the max recommended)... thats 4 minutes. Even with 2 full minutes between sets to rest and change weights, thats only 10 minutes. Can you provide some insight on how we should be structuring these to get to what you say is "easily" a 15 minute set? I generally am done with strength sessions in about 30-35 min, not the 50 they are set for, and want to make sure I'm not missing anything. Understanding this also helps me better estimate time when I am trying to fit these workouts in on tighter scheduled days. Thanks!
Hey Coach Mike - if I can’t get to the gym my home is pretty small so I have access to Kettle Bells and a few of the 41” round monster bands. Would goblet squats with Kettle Bells or monster band squats be the better replacement for traditional bar squats?
For Deadlifts I am tying 2 kettle bells together to increase the weight.
Also - just to share with the others. I ended up with a bulged disc in my thoracic spine in November from releasing my form too early when putting the bar back on the rack. After 6 weeks of rehab with Chiro and a mobility expert I booked a form refresher session with my old Personal Trainer. He pointed out a few bad habits I hadn’t realized crept in on my form since last year. I am grateful for his keen eye and highly recommend an annual form refresher regardless of your lifting experience. I have a lot of experience but still discovered I could make improvements.
Hi coach mike,
I work a very physical job (building concrete foundations) that involves a lot of picking up heavy things moving them to another area and setting them down. I used to count this as my strength training. Last year I decided to add actual strength training and it seemed to help. My question is, how do I know when and how to shorten the Today’s Plan Strength workouts when I end up getting overworked physically at my actual job? I don’t want to cut them out all together but I occasionally need to tone it down
I am in my second season of training for triathlons. I have a background in strength sports and have a lot more muscle than most triathletes and have successfully lost some muscle mass last season. I am looking to keep reducing muscle mass this season slowly. What is your recommendation for strength training?
Rajesh Ruia Thank you! I expect when we get the center firing we will be shooting exercise videos with all sorts of equipment, and we'll definitely have TRX as it's one of my favorites... but before even going that far and waiting, I recommend checking their Youtube Channel, it's really good and has way more and with great explanations.
As for those movements and low back tightness, I will say that I actually see machines as worse for the problem (i.e. leg press, smith machine, etc) b/c they just put you under weight without forcing you to engage properly. So that said, I would simply recommend staring with light weights and the Kettlebell version of it. For the Back Squat, I would actually use a Kettlebell front loaded squat. Don't load up your back too much, and if you load the front of your body instead that can help give you some strength where you need it.
tiger paton good question, to be honest it was a bit of a guesstimate because I want people to take their time and not rush through those main sets. I generally would take more than 2 minutes between the heavier sets and just do some mobilizing. You're not missing anything at all, I just like people to take their time during those workouts and feel free to add some movements here and there if they feel they need it.
Paul Gryglewicz thanks for writing! I absolutely love KB Goblet squats in place of the loaded back squat. That is a tremendous exercise. And if you get creative you can even make it a bit heavier by using the monster band and attaching it to the KB, and stepping on the other end of it. You can get those lifts REALLY heavy if you keep shortening the band! Plus, I love the engagement and forced upright posture of those exercises, that is as good of an exercise as you can do, you just can't do them as heavy, which is A-OK for us!!
SIMILAR with the Deadlifts. You can absolutely use the bands attached to the KBs and make those a bit tougher! Play with it and get creative.
Lastly, thanks for the shout-out to working with a coach and trainer. The best movers in the world work with a strength coach every session and still come up with things to work on.... I believe its always useful.
Zachjosie wow yes you are right man. That is a very physical job and must leave you pretty physically torn up pretty regularly. I would imagine that just pure brut strength is not your weakness haha. For that reason, I would definitely recommend you acknowledge and play with the workouts based on how you feel. You're right, in fact doing actual heavy lifts in the gym could indeed help you perform better at your job, and perhaps over time even be slightly less drained from a stressful day.
That said, you might be someone that I would recommend doing some more of the circuit workouts or core + mobility workouts. If you got worked in your work day, maybe substitute a good core + mobility session and do it as good as you can. Maybe even add an extra round. I'm certain that the extra core would be useful when you're lugging around concrete.
tony durham good concept here as it really does dig into the individual differences that our athletes will possess. The fact is that these movements themselves are still important given how much repetitive stress we put on our joints during swim, bike, and run training... but you might just be able to do some lighter loads, with low rep schemes, and just do them with a bit more "speed" or in a faster fashion. If you do a 5 x 6 deadlift with around 75-80% load, but move through the bar extremely quickly and even extend up onto your toes (as if it was almost getting ready to be a jump) then you are getting a lot of benefit from the movement without the hypertrophy effects (even though in these rep schemes, hypertrophy is really minimal). For these shorter phases, I think you can go through the movements and then gear up for some of the more power-development phases and things like the Hang Clean and the Box Jump.
Definitely a great concept and you can take it easier on the heavier days, toss in some more of the ancillary work like the SL Deadlift and Single-Leg squats. Go heavy on the BALANCE and coordination movements and let's put that muscle to work!
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