The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #4

This couple needs to wait at least 4 hours before any endurance work...

The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #4

The first three blogs of this series provided a basic understanding of the molecular underpinnings of the concurrent training effect (the blunting/elimination of the hypertrophy and strength response when both strength and endurance training are performed concurrently).  This edition is going to take that knowledge and use it to recommend specific training protocols focused on mitigating, and potentially even eliminating it.

The primary training factor which seems to drive the concurrent training effect is the intensity of the endurance exercise being performed.  Closely following intensity is frequency, and when high intensity is combined with high frequency the effect is maximized.

Recommendation 1:

As noted in blog #3 both AMPK and SIRT1 are activated by high intensity endurance exercise.  As both can inhibit mTORC1 one clearly does not want them activated when strength training is performed.  What has not yet been noted is that both will return to baseline levels roughly three hours after activation from intense endurance exercise.  The simple conclusion is that there should be at least three hours between an intense endurance session and a strength training session.  CrossFitters take note, if you are going to do an intense endurance session, and can only train once that day, skip the strength training afterwards (or prior to).  If you can do more than one session, intense endurance in the morning followed by strength training in the evening would be ideal.

This couple needs to wait at least 4 hours before any endurance work...
This couple needs to wait at least 3 hours before any endurance work…

Recommendation 2:

As noted above, frequency of high intensity endurance training is a factor in the concurrent training effect.  The molecular reason for this effect is unknown, but empirical evidence and personal experience indicate that no more than three sessions at greater than 70% of VO2max are best for mitigation of the concurrent training effect.

Recommendation 3:

Blog #2 focused on the molecular machinations relative to the hypertrophy response to strength training.  It was noted that mTORC1 is the driver of hypertrophy.  It was also noted that the mechanical stimulation of strength training was not the only manner in which mTORC1 is potently activated post workout.  A huge skeletal muscular spike in the uptake of the BCAA leucine occurs immediately after strength training.  Leucine itself is a potent stimulator of mTORC1.  The recommendation is thus to make sure plenty of blood-borne leucine is available.  Below are some specific recommendations using ALN products:

1) Take one serving of ALN Finish immediately after strength training.  Within 30 minutes, and preferably as soon as possible, take one serving of Recover as well.
2) If fat loss is the primary goal replace Recover above with Nitrean, or take two servings of Finish and skip either Recover or Nitrean to minimize total caloric intake.

ALN's Finish
ALN’s Finish

Recommendation 4:

Strength training immediately after an endurance session of low to moderate intensity (no more than 69%) is fine.  In fact, strength training immediately following a low intensity endurance session positively influences the endurance adaptation while simultaneously not impairing the hypertrophy and strength adaptations.

We aren’t done yet.  I am going to do more research and we are going to learn even more about the concurrent training effect and how to control it.  

Chris Mason
Owner
AtLarge Nutrition, LLC

The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #3

To read the first two installments please see the ALN blog page here: http://atlargenutrition.com/blog/

The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #3

As noted in our first installment, the concurrent training effect is a mitigation or cessation of the hypertrophy response to strength training when both strength and endurance training are performed concurrently.  Now that we understand mTORC1 (from blog #2) is almost exclusively the driver of strength training induced hypertrophy we know that looking into how endurance training can influence it is the key to insight into how to mitigate the concurrent training effect and thus to creating a superior CrossFitter or hybrid athlete.

marathon

In this blog we are going to seek a better understanding of how endurance training can effect mTORC1.  The molecular effects of endurance training on hypertrophy are much more equivocal than the molecular effects of strength training.  There is no single molecular source for the manner in which endurance training can or does effect hypertrophy.  This blog will focus on those sources most generally accepted to have the greatest impact.

We will begin with AMPK (adenosine monophosphate activated protein kinase).  Endurance training of sufficient intensity results in metabolic and molecular responses that activate AMPK.  AMPK has been shown in animal studies to be able to inhibit mTORC1.  In humans its effects on mTORC1 are less certain, but overall the scientific consensus is that it (a specific form of it) likely contributes to the concurrent training effect.

Our next focus is on the sirtuin family of NAD+ dependent deacetylases with SIRT1 being of primary interest.  In the previous paragraph it was noted that the intensity of endurance exercise is a controlling factor in AMPK activation.  The same is true for SIRT1.  The presence of SIRT1 has been clearly demonstrated to inhibit mTORC1, thus the effects on mTORC1 of relatively frequent intense endurance training may due fully, or in part, to SIRT1.

The final possible metabolic cause of the effect of endurance training on mTORC1 to be covered in this blog are unfolded proteins.  Intense and frequent endurance training and high fat diets are both triggers for unfolded proteins.  The body’s response to increased unfolded proteins includes the blocking of protein synthesis via a decrease in mTORC1 activity.

Hopefully you have already noted the fact that the intensity and frequency of endurance training are catalysts in each of the above possible metabolic pathways in which endurance training can effect mTORC1.  This fact will be the focus of our next blog when we take the information from the first three blogs and use it to propose specific training protocols which can mitigate, and even nearly eliminate, the concurrent training effect.

The Concurrent Training Effect Blog #2

CrossFit competitors who have significantly above average strength and endurance.

This 2nd edition of The Concurrent Training Effect blog is going to focus on the molecular underpinnings of skeletal muscular hypertrophy.  Understanding the driving force behind the molecular response to strength training can provide us insight into why concurrent strength and endurance training can negatively affect muscular hypertrophy and strength.  In addition, a better understanding can lead to ways to mitigate the effect and optimize progress.  If you are a CrossFitter, or any other form of hybrid athlete this blog is for you.  Keep reading…

Mike Mentzer - knew a thing or two about muscular hypertrophy.
Mike Mentzer – knew a thing or two about muscular hypertrophy.

A Very Cursory Overview of the Science:

The currently agreed upon molecular key to skeletal muscular hypertrophy is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR).  mTOR exists in two complexes with mTORC1 as the type associated with muscular hypertrophy.  mTOR is most commonly activated via growth factors, but with strength training its activation is executed in an entirely different fashion.  An unknown kinase gets activated causing a chemical cascade resulting in the potent stimulation of mTORC1.

Mechanical kinase activation is the not the only manner in which strength training stimulates mTOR.  We have all heard of the post-workout anabolic window for nutrient consumption.  The following molecular explanation is THE reason the post-workout window has been so widely touted (and misrepresented equally as often) in the fitness world.

After an intense training session (and for several hours) the skeletal muscles pull a significantly greater amount of the amino acids leucine and glutamine from the blood.  The leucine individually is a potent activator mTORC1 and augments the previously mentioned kinase based mTORC1 activation.  The increased glutamine yet again enhances this synergistic effect as the resultant transport of glutamine out of the muscle further up-regulates leucine intake.

Start and Finish provide both leucine and glutamine (as well as other great stuff).
Start and Finish provide both leucine and glutamine (as well as other great stuff).

The Bottom Line

Bottom line, and there is a lot more to it than described here, the end game for strength training induced muscular hypertrophy is it is almost totally dependent on mTORC1.  One can thus reasonably deduct that endurance training can somehow blunt mTORC1 activation, and or its ability once activated to execute its normal spike in protein synthesis and the resultant muscular hypertrophy.

The next installment of The Concurrent Training Effect blog will focus on the manner(s) with which endurance training may effect mTORC1.

ALN Concurrent Training Effect Blog Installment #1

Joan Rivers used to say, “Can we talk?”  So, can we talk?  I want to “talk” to you in this blog about something very important to anyone interested in complete fitness (CrossFitters, this means YOU), and that is building strength and endurance simultaneously.

Simultaneously training for both strength and endurance can (and will to some degree) result in the inhibition of the body’s ability to adapt to either stimulus with the greater inhibition seemingly focused on the hypertrophy response to strength training.  This is known as the concurrent training effect.  Until fairly recently this effect was generally misunderstood in the fitness community.  Most trainers, coaches, and trainees thought that simultaneously training for strength and endurance would pretty much negate the strength training results.  In other words, they thought the concurrent training effect was absolute.  It isn’t, and the balance of this blog is going to be a chronicle of my research into the concurrent training effect.  As I learn so will you…

CrossFit competitors who have significantly above average strength and endurance.
CrossFit competitors who have significantly above average strength and endurance.

In my opinion, the advent of Greg Glassman’s CrossFit has done more than any formal research to change the fitness world’s concept of what can be done in terms of increasing all aspects of fitness simultaneously (even beyond strength and endurance to things like skill development).  CrossFitters have shown that you can become bigger, faster, stronger, AND dramatically increase your strength endurance and endurance.  I would say that one of the best examples from the CrossFit world of how much the concurrent training effect can be mitigated is a woman named Tia-Claire Toomey.  She has placed second at the CrossFit Games (a massive test of all things fitness related) and made the Australian weightlifting team which competed at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio just two weeks after the CrossFit Games.  She performed better at the CrossFit Games than the Olympics in terms of placing, but the fact she was able to compete at a very high level in both CrossFit and weightlifting is a testament to what can be done in terms of building strength and endurance simultaneously.

My research will begin with examining adaptation to both strength and endurance training at the molecular level.  Don’t worry, this blog is not going to turn into a science blog, but the bottom line is that it is only a minor flub to say it all starts at the molecular level and if we can understand that, in only the most cursory sense, we can gain a much deeper understanding of how to optimize performance when simultaneously training for both strength and endurance.

Watch our page on Facebook and the blog on www.atlargenutrition.com for the 2nd installment of the ALN Concurrent Training Effect Blog.

Chris Mason
Author
Owner AtLarge Nutrition, LLC

Your author and his bae :).
Your author and his bae :).

Squatting for Hybrid Athletes, Functional Fitness Trainees, and CrossFitters

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 9.50.43 AM

I will go on the operating assumption anyone reading this blog has heard of CrossFit. The term is pervasive in today’s fitness culture and has even begun to be used in general popular culture. In addition to CrossFit, there is another term that has worked its way into the collective fitness consciousness and that is functional fitness. Finally, hybrid athlete is now being bandied about in the fitness world. What all of these terms have in common is they reference a level of fitness that goes beyond the training specialization focus of the previous several decades.

CrossFitters, those who train for functional fitness, and hybrid athletes all become more physically fit across a broad spectrum. CrossFit in particular addresses virtually all of the components of physical fitness: strength, strength endurance, endurance, and skill. A high level CrossFitter is going to be above average at virtually any form of physical fitness.

One thing that each of these forms of varied training have in common is they include movements which are hard on the knees. All of them include some form of running, most of them jumping, and most of them some form of strength training.

The human body is a wonderful machine, but overuse injuries can and do occur and the knees are no exception. Strength training is a key to overall fitness and performance enhancement, but strength training for anyone other than a competitive weightlifter or powerlifter should be used as a means to enhance performance in their sport of choice. Unfortunately, that is NOT what occurs at most boxes and gyms, even at the highest levels. One need only watch training videos posted by strength coaches, box owners, and others to include Division 1 and professional athletes. Poor form is the order of the day, and that is nothing short of a recipe for disaster for the athlete(s) in question.
If you CrossFit, train for functional fitness, or are a hybrid athlete the majority of your lower body strength training should consist primarily of properly performed box squats. The reason for this is simple, box squats train all of the musculature of the traditional back squat, but they reduce the forces directed to the knees. It should be clear, but in case not, reduced knee stress when strength training makes injury on the field of play during execution of the athlete’s sport less likely. It also makes injury in the gym less likely. In short, it does exactly what strength training should do for an athlete by increasing the force production potential of the involved musculature without increasing the chance of injury.

I know, you CrossFitters are thinking this blog does not pertain to you because the box squat differs too much from Olympic style squats. You are concerned your Olympic movements will suffer if you heed my advice. In truth, you DO need to practice Olympic style front and back squats, but not in the manner you think. What you want to do is incorporate the actual Olympic lifts in order to build skill for those movements, but use box squats to increase the force production capacity of the involved musculature. The increased strength production capacity in your lower back, quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes from box squats will then translate into bigger Olympic lifts once you master the skill of the movements. All the while you will be reducing stress to your knee joints and increasing your chances of remaining injury free which is a key to athletic progression.

Watch the video below of Laura Phelps demonstrating both perfect, and improper box squat form. This video was from a Westside Powerlifting Certification class for CrossFitters. Your author is narrating.

Poor box squat form is almost as bad as poor free squat form. Whether you are a coach or an athlete, learn to box squat like Laura. Make box squat variations (different bars if you have them, and different box heights) with perfect technique the primary source of your squatting volume for strength training and you will reap the benefits of enhanced athletic performance and reduced injury rates.

Three Things You Should Be Doing in 2016

three things you should be doing

Most people reading this have one or more social media accounts and will be bombarded by lists of things NOT to do in 2016, but I want to start the year on a positive note, so this blog is going to focus on three things you should be doing in 2016.

1) Whether you are just beginning to train or are a seasoned veteran, make 2016 the year that you focus on perfecting form/technique for every exercise you practice.

Strength training is my first love so I will speak to that, but the principle is equally applicable to any movement or exercise.

Strength training and the heavy loads inherent to it can wreak havoc on your joints and connective tissues, but use of proper form/technique can greatly mitigate and even eliminate said damage.

Nearly all strength-trained athletes incorporate the barbell bench press and back squat into their strength training regimen. Bad technique and crap form are the norm even at the highest professional levels (read NBA, NFL  etc.).  While this concept may boggle the mind, I can only assume it is ill-informed coaches/trainers who either don’t teach or refuse to enforce proper technique with their athletes.

A note of caution to the young and those whose hubris may cloud their ability to be objective: the fact you have done something a certain way for a prolonged period and not yet experienced injury does NOT indicate you will continue with your current streak of luck. Sure, some people have nearly superhuman connective tissue and or more advantageous anatomical leverages such that they can get away with poor form.  Some of these people are even top-tier athletes, and thus someone that others will want to mimic in the hopes of achieving even a modicum of their success.  Chances are very good you are NOT like them.  Change your evil ways before they catch up to you :).

I am a huge fan of Louie Simmons, strength coach extraordinaire, inventor, entrepreneur and one hell of a strength athlete (Louie’s company site is www.westside-barbell.com). One of Louie’s finest proteges is Laura Phelps Sweatt. Laura and her trainer husband Shane own gyms and work with athletes worldwide. Laura herself is one of the most dominant strength athletes ever. She has set so many all-time powerlifting records it boggles the mind. One of the things I have always admired about Laura is her literally flawless execution of virtually every strength training movement. If you want to learn correct form, you either consult with her, or at the very least watch her videos.

Below are two videos of Laura demonstrating first the box squat and then the barbell bench press.

A quick note on the box squat: if you strength train the box squat should make up the majority of your squat training (unless you are an Olympic lifter). The box squat is safer and just as effective as any back squat variety.  It’s safety advantage lies in the physics of the movement. Less stress is placed on the knee joints.

This is Laura demonstrating good and bad form for the box squat (with me narrating):

I encourage you to search for more videos with Shane and Laura and to visit Louie’s site to learn all you can about proper form.

2) Make sure your diet best meets your needs.

Don’t get caught up in the fad diet of the moment especially if it does not help you to meet your goals.  For instance, a “Paleo” based diet is not an optimal performance diet.  Paleo style diets as a rule lack the carbs needed for top performance and recovery by athletes who require strength and endurance.

Consume a diet which consists of foods which are as minimally processed as is reasonably possible, are varied in makeup, and has a macronutrient content that best supports your physical goals.

3) More is NOT better, better is better :).

The above concept is true universally when it comes to training, but especially so regarding strength training. Training volume and intensity are inversely correlated.  If you train with higher volume, intensity must be reduced and vice versa. Before you “there is no such thing as overtraining” nuts get all riled up, the data on this phenomena is overwhelming and virtually indisputable EVEN for doped athletes.

Why strength training volume and intensity are inversely correlated is equivocal. The prevailing theory proffers that the nervous system is the limiting factor and increased intensity stresses the nervous system to a greater and greater degree. Whatever the reason, if you want to be successful, especially over time, moderating your high intensity training volume is key.

Now, get offline and get to the gym and make 2016 your best physical accomplishment year ever!

THREE TRAINING MYTHS TO AVOID IN THE NEW YEAR

This goof seems to be working "stability" AND foam rolling...

1) You need to foam roll, stretch, and God knows what else to warm-up prior to training.

NO!  Was that clear enough?  Crushing your flesh, fatiguing yourself with endless repetitions etc. will NOT decrease your chances of injury, nor will it enhance performance.  With strength training, exercise specific warm-ups are all that are needed.  If you are going to squat then a couple of sets of squats will give your body the movement specific warm-up it needs.  If you feel you need more you are doing something wrong.  Your training is damaging your joints and changes must be made.

By the way, for other sporting activities and less intensive exercise the same principal holds true.  An “easy” version of said activity to get started will be more the sufficient to prepare the athlete for the increased intensity of activity to come.

Gee, this will make ALL the difference in your training session...
Gee, this will make ALL the difference in your training session…

One final note, I am not calling all such activities worthless.  I am specifically referring to timing.  If you feel said activities help you with mobility and recovery then by all means do them, but don’t do them immediately before training.

2) If you don’t go all out, psyching yourself out of your mind and pushing yourself beyond fatigue with every training session you are wasting your time.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  Training like that will quickly lead to stagnation, overtraining, and eventually injury and or regression.  The majority of one’s training should be done in a non-elevated psychological state.

Does that mean training should be light or easy?  Heck no!  Training should not be easy, nor should it wipe you out.  Met-Con based athletes, bodybuilders, and powerlifters take heed, killing yourself might make you look cool and even be beneficial in the short term, but you will not reach your goals if you don’t modulate the intensity and volume of your training.

Mike Mentzer - the right combination of intensity of effort and volume can lead to some very impressive results.
Mike Mentzer – the right combination of intensity of effort and volume can lead to some very impressive results.

3) Training for “stability” will improve your functional fitness.

This is one of the STUPIDEST and WORST myths…  Squatting on a Bosu Ball will NOT improve anything other than your ability to squat on a Bosu Ball.  Adaptation, or response to training stimuli is extremely specific.  If you want to get better at a specific activity practice that specific activity.  Use strength training to either increase the general force production capacity of the musculature you are training, or to get better at a specific lift for competition purposes.  If I see you doing any kind of balance crap while strength training I will be forced to slap you silly…  Thank you.

This goof seems to be working "stability" AND foam rolling...
This goof seems to be working “stability” AND foam rolling…

 

Chris Mason

Author Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines.

STRENGTH TRAINING ON A LIMITED SCHEDULE

Scott Wilson

For the past couple of years the amount of time I can commit to training has been severely curtailed. My business life literally runs from about 8:15 A.M. to 9 P.M. (or later) six days per week. I have thus been relegated to primarily training on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings (I will sometimes get in late mini-workouts in my basement).

As you may know I am a huge advocate of Louie Simmons’ Westside training methodologies (www.westside-barbell.com). The Westside program when properly adhered to calls for at least four training days per week. Mini workouts to add additional volume (especially for weak points) are also indicated and can be done on otherwise “off” days. Following this protocol is optimal, but not viable due to work and other life considerations for many individuals interested in increasing their absolute size, strength, or both.

I don’t promote excuses or weakness. Many people who claim they can only find the time to train once or twice per week simply lack the will to do what must be done. With that said, there are some people who truly cannot devote more time to their training and yet want to see results. For those of you who are in this category, take heart, it CAN be done. In fact, it has been done at the highest level. I remember reading some time ago that one of the greatest strength athletes in history, Jon Cole, trained twice per week at his peak. Jon set powerlifting records that stood for 40 years!

Jon Cole
Jon Cole, one of the strongest men who ever lived.

If Jon did it, so can YOU. Well, not set records that stand for 40 years, but get darn big and strong training only twice per week. The key is the right mix of intensity, volume, and exercise selection.

For the purposes of this article I am going to focus on a blend of size and strength. What follows will provide you the information you need to train twice per week and add both lean muscle mass and strength.

Total Body Sessions

When your training time is limited to two sessions per week it is imperative that you hit all of the major muscle groups each session. Training the total body in one session requires a low volume of work by body part. As the target reader of this article has a severely curtailed amount of training time, the length of a given session is necessarily short. Even if one had more time, sessions much in excess of an hour have been shown to produce diminishing returns (hormonal and other considerations being the presumed culprits). The good news is that despite what you may have read and heard, given a proper level of intensity and mix of rep schemes etc. the actual amount of volume required to add size and strength is much less than commonly accepted.

Prescribed volume for the vast majority of trainees on a twice per week system is 2-5 working sets by body part/group. Working sets are defined as post-warm-up work. See below for more specific recommendations:

Chest – 3-5 sets
Upper back – 3-5 sets
Whole body movements such as squats and deadlifts – 2-5 sets
Accessory work – 2-4 sets

Each of the above sets should be taken to near concentric failure (concentric failure defined as the inability to complete a rep). Rep counts should be varied targeting absolute strength with reps in the 1-3 range, and then following up with higher repetitions to promote growth of the contractile myofibrils and conditioning/thickening of the connective tissues. Here is a sample chest workout to illustrate this concept:

* Only working sets will be noted. The set and rep scheme will be presented in this fashion – 4 x 3/3/12/12 – this indicates four working sets of 3 reps for the first and second sets to be followed by 12 reps each for the third and fourth sets.

Floor Press: 3 x 1/5/12
Incline Press: 2 x 8/15

In the case above the floor press is the primary movement of the day. After an appropriate (specific to the individual) warm-up the first working set is a training one rep maximum/near maximum (max) attempt. A training one rep max attempt by definition involves very little psychological stimulation. In other words, the lifter doesn’t get “crazy” for the attempt. He or she simply concentrates and handles a very heavy load in a calm state. Training singles should consist primarily of such attempts as excessively psyched max attempts are very draining in general, to the nervous system in particular, and can quickly lead to training stagnation.

A heavy training single is very important to, if not optimal for, the building of maximal strength. The ability to move a near maximal load for one repetition requires neural optimization relative to the specific movement pattern and loading. While multiple repetitions can and do build absolute strength (up to a point), only heavy single attempts can optimally stimulate the adaptation required to maximize absolute strength. This is the S.A.I.D. (Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand) principle in practice. Human physical adaptation is highly specific and the neural coordination required to move a maximal load through a specific movement pattern can only be peaked with single repetition practice (yes, repeated for emphasis…).

Absolute strength is a combination of neural optimization and the force production capacity of the contractile myofibrils (actin and myosin – the contractile components of skeletal muscle). Maximal individual demonstrable strength is thus achieved via a combination of contractile hypertrophy and neural adaptation. This is the reason for the combination of both heavy singles and moderate and higher repetitions. Moderate reps (4-8 or so) target both maximal strength and hypertrophy while higher reps stimulate what is commonly referred to as non-contractile hypertrophy (hypertrophy of the non-contractile elements of muscle fibers) and the maintenance/hypertrophy of the very important connective tissues. The importance of the repetition blend cannot be overemphasized.

To clarify the force production capacity statement, the contractile components of the muscles cells are known as the aforementioned myofibrils actin and myosin. Individually speaking, the larger the myofibrils the greater the force production capacity, but greater capacity does not automatically equate to greater expressed strength. A automotive analogy is appropriate to illustrate the concept. With an automobile engine and transmission the transmission is required to take the force production capacity of the engine and translate it to the wheels so the car will move. In the body the nervous system is loosely analogous to the automobile transmission and the myofibrils to the engine. The myofibrils need to have the capacity for high force production and the nervous system must orchestrate everything in one of life’s most beautiful symphonies, the symphony of physical expression.

Want the laymen’s translation? If you want to be really strong make your muscles big and practice heavy singles…

Varying Movements and Intensity

Followers of Westside know that exercise variety is one of the cornerstones of the program. Maximum Effort movements are varied weekly by cycling through 3-4 primary movements. Twice per week trainees should approach things a bit differently. The reduced volume dictated by the program changes the paradigm such that repetition of the same movement is beneficial, at least for a longer period of time than with a standard Westside protocol.

The legend Louie Simmons holding court.
The legend Louie Simmons holding court.

Westside switches Max Effort (ME) movements weekly because Louie Simmons’ research led him to the conclusion that it is optimal for the vast majority of those practicing his program. The higher the level the athlete, the less frequently a one rep max attempt can be made for the same movement. In practice, Louie observed that for most of his athletes the same movement one rep max cannot be repeated for more than 2-3 weeks before stagnation occurs. Weekly rotation proved to be superior as it permitted the most consistent progress with a minimization of injuries from overuse as an added benefit.

This brings us back to some specific verbiage I used earlier in this article. I noted the use of the training one rep max/near max. The reason for the inclusion of the “near max” terminology is that with my program the prescribed one rep max attempts differ from those practiced at Westside in that majority of them are lower in intensity. With my program instead of only one max effort weekly for either a bench or squat variation there are two such attempts. The performance of two very heavy singles per week dictates a reduction in intensity when compared to a true training one rep max. In practice I have found that doing so leads to more consistent progress.

Not to confuse the issue, but my program also relies on a degree of autoregulation. Performing two near max singles per week by body part weekly can overwhelm even those with above average recovery ability, so I encourage practitioners of my program to monitor their progress and make adjustments as needed. When I feel that my body is getting too beat up with heavy singles, and or stagnation sets in, I will switch to a higher rep scheme. In most cases only a week or two of less intense work is needed to right the ship.

A Sample Week of Training

Wednesday:

Rack pulls (from about 2″ off the floor): 1/5
Floor press: 1/5

Giant Set (3 rounds)*:
Original Nautilus pullover: one arm at a time – 12 reps
Close grip pulldown: 10
Machine chest press: 15-20
Machine lateral raise: 10
* No rest is taken between exercises. The trainee moves as quickly as possible from one exercise to the next.

Scott Wilson
Bodybuilder Scott Wilson built those boulders with low volume and frequency.

Leg press: 15-20/15-20 – these are done using a rest pause style. Reps are continuous until fatigue demands a break and then the load is held at lockout just long enough to take a few deep breaths and to allow the burn to subside. A few more reps are then done until fatigue again demands a brief break. This is repeated 2-3 times per “set” until the target rep count is hit.

Overhead cable crunches: 20/20

Sunday:

Box squat with various bars: 1/5 (I will normally switch bars every 3rd-4th week)

Bench press with pause: 1/5

Giant Set (3 rounds):
Seated cable rows with the two handed rope attachment: 10
Seated machine chest press: 10
Machine lateral raise: 10
Seated Nautilus shoulder press: 10

Leg curl: 12/12/12

Triceps pushdowns: 1 set performed in a rest pause fashion for 15-25 reps. Choose a load which allows for 10-12 strict, unbroken reps.

Overhead cable crunches: 20/20

Wrap

You can get bigger and stronger training twice per week. Is it ideal? No, but if your schedule truly precludes a more expansive training regimen a twice per week program can and will be effective if properly executed.

No excuses, you can get bigger and stronger no matter what your life schedule looks like.

Chris Mason

Author Chris Mason is the owner of AtLarge Nutrition, LLC and an accomplished author in the fitness genre. He has written for numerous websites and magazines.

#TeamALN athlete Anna Khudayarov at the WRPF Pro World Championships

Anna K

#Team ALN – AtLarge Nutrition female powerlifter extraordinaire Anna Khudayarov competed this past weekend in Russia at the WRPF Pro World Championships. She had the highest women’s total of the meet with the following lifts (raw with knees wraps):

Squat – 484 lbs
Bench – 281 lbs
Deadlift – 501 lbs

(R) Anna
(R) Anna

Anna K

5 Protein Pumped Holiday Recipes

ALN_Holiday_Recipes_v3

The holidays can be a trying time for those of us that are serious about training. As an AtLarge athlete you more than likely have no intention of letting the plethora of saturated fats and empty carbs associated with holiday feasts throw you off track and deter you from achieving your goals, and for that we salute you.

Being dedicated to your goals and wanting to look and feel your best doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some of the wonderful flavors associated with holiday eating. In fact some of the most famous holiday dishes can be turned into protein-packed power meals, if prepared correctly.

Enjoy one of these five amazing meals that will not only help you stay fit, but will also satisfy your cravings for all of those traditional holiday delicacies.

1. Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

P Pancake

Ingredients

  • 1/2 scoop AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup organic canned pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp stevia
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder

Directions

  • Mix all of the ingredients in medium sized bowl until smooth.
  • Spray non-stick cooking spray into a griddle or skillet and heat over medium-high heat.
  • Pour two dollops of batter onto your cooking surface; these should be 4-5 inches in circumference. Cook for 90 seconds or until the top starts to bubble.
  • Continue to cook for 30-60 seconds or until the pancake is completely cooked through.
  • Serve warm and enjoy.

2. Chocolate Protein Bars

P Brownie

Ingredients

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease an 8 x 8 baking dish.
  • Combine through salt in a large bowl, set aside.
  • Combine eggs and stevia and whisk together until fully incorporated in a medium bowl.
  • Add remaining wet ingredients to the medium bowl and whisk together.
  • Pour wet into dry ingredients and add in chocolate chips and walnuts if using.
  • Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  • Let cool completely in pan and then cut into 9 squares, wrap individually and store in refrigerator.

3. Protein Iced Coffee

Iced Coffee

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, regular skim milk or fat free milk
  • 3 scoops AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • 1 ½ tsp instant coffee granules
  • ⅛ tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 no-calorie sweetener packet
  • 1 ¼ cup crushed ice

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients and ice in blender.
  • Blend at highest speed.
  • Blend until consistency is frothy, smooth and free of lumps.
  • Serve and enjoy chilled.

4. Pumpkin Protein Cheesecake Ice Cream

P Ice cream

Ingredients

  • 1 cup regular skim milk or nonfat milk
  • 2 scoops AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • ½ cup low fat cottage cheese
  • ½ cup plain low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar free vanilla syrup
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

Directions

  • Combine all ingredients in a blender.
  • Blend at highest speed.
  • Blend ingredients until smooth and free of lumps.
  • Pour mixture into ice cream maker and freeze according to your machine’s instructions.
  • Serve and enjoy.

5. Eggnog Protein Shake

P eggnog

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup full fat coconut milk
  • ¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 scoops AtLarge Nutrition Nitrean Natural Raw Protein– Vanilla
  • **1 whole egg, raw (optional, consume at your own risk)
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Directions

  • Add all ingredients to Blender.
  • Blend until smooth without lumps.
  • Serve in chilled glass.