I was back East this past weekend for my older brother’s bachelor party in Dewey Beach. Now, for those who have spent any time at all in Dewey you know my brain is operating at about a third grade level right now, hoping to be junior high by the end of the day. It was a crisp 106 degrees the day we went to the Bottle and Cork and combined with being over served by the irresponsible bartender, I was a tad parched for about two days afterwards. There are only so many Orange Crushes a man can drink to hydrate.
Anyways, while it was a great trip I am very glad to be back to San Diego and on a diet that doesn’t include Grotto’s pizza, WaWa and cheese puffs.
Onto tips four through six.
#4: Destabilize the Foundation
Destabilize the foundation and the rest of the beams on top, previously conditioned to maintaing easy balance now have to fight like hell to stay upright and intact. Bad for architectural design and killing an entire building of people, great for training stabilizing muscles.
For this part of the recommendations we use ‘foundation’ very loosely. It could be grip on a push-up, feet for running and jumping, heels on a squat or any other movement that’s normally performed on solid ground.
Here are several ways you can de-stabilize good exercises to make them overload muscles in a de-loaded state.
- Ring pushups (video) – These are much harder than traditional pushups as your core and even quads will pick up a lot of the slack. Further, you can get a bit lower on ring push-ups since the base of the movement is slightly elevated and it’s likely that increased range of motion exposes your chest to new stimulus.
- Bosu push-ups – slightly less challenging than rings but acts as a means of destabilization for folks in between traditional and ring pushups.
- Sprinters lunges – allows for deep glute and hamstring activation via increased range of motion and forces the stabilizing muscles of the balancing leg to fire constantly.
- 1-Leg Box Jumps (video includes pistols which are not necessary) – this would be for an advanced crowd only as it’s both ballistic and destabilized, a big no no for someone who does not already posses a lot of knee stability and core strength. Great exercise to target Type-II power for a stronger crowd as it helps to even out weaker sides (as you can see mine is the left).
- Ring Dips & Pull-Ups – ring dips are substantially harder than mounted dips and tend to tax the chest much more.
- Muscle Ups (video) – I was screwing around with this for the first time last week and have mixed feelings on them. I think I do like them at one to two reps for complete upper body destabilized power exercise. Don’t confuse this for a total body exercise, though. There is absolutely no leg involvement as having sexual intercourse with the air does not count. I could tell this really hit my chest hard and I love non-weighted exercises that do that as I’m not a huge fan of the bench press.
There are many other ways to destabilize and I’d love to hear some good examples from you guys.
Add Functional Mass
Yes, this is coming from the same guy who wrote that adding the wrong kind of mass for the purpose of strength is overrated and I stand by everything in that. Problem is, some douchers read that article as saying I hate muscle. Which is why I hate people.
Isolated hypertrophy training to get stronger is counterproductive (i.e. lat pulldown to help deadlift). But, if we are talking functional mass built on the right type of muscle fiber once you are already at a high level of individual strength, then we’re discussing something beneficial for gains.
Two caveats, though.
- You must achieve this growth through heavy total body, compound lifts…no fucking curls and extensions.
- You must add this mass while still part of a strength program. Mass should be a side effect. My beef with mass is when it’s done in a bodybuilding approach that’s all show and no go, and performed as the focus of a program.
I’ve seen some jacked guys who are not strong at all so make sure you follow one and two, which can both be solved by taking deadlifts, squats, presses, cleans and rows into the eight to ten rep range at big body or big girl weight for a periodized cycle. I’ll always prefer those big exercises at low reps, high load but six to eight weeks of strategic growth can be beneficial, as well.
My recommended approach for adding mass while not adding body fat is to spike your insulin immediately after training with a carb like white rice or yellow potatoes and include lots of proteins and healthy fats. You want this meal to be upwards of 1,000 to 2,000 calories. The insulin spiking effect of the high GI foods that release glucose rapidly into the bloodstream will shuttle the nutrients to your muscles like a Stephen Strasburg fastball.
If you have an additional five to ten pounds of muscle on your frame then you are essentially adding another few dozen soldiers in an attempt to move a force.
I’ll be the first to concede I am no diet expert on mass gaining. My body despises mass and I’ve never put it on without an equal amount of body fat, but the tip above is definitely a great starting point.
This falls dangerously close into ‘don’t get ballin’ ass rims on a piece of shit car’ territory, but bands can serve a great purpose if you feel you are close to maxing out strength on your current routine. I wrote about this earlier this year but worth reiterating that adding bands to exercises like pull-ups, squats, bench press and broad jumps overload the “lifting” portion of the lift, whether it’s concentric or eccentric.
Let’s use the pull-up as an example.
The lifting portion of this movement would be the actual concentric ‘pulling’ part of it, when we are pulling ourselves towards the bar after we have eccentrically lowered our body and reached elbow extension. The beauty of bands is that they do not provide the same resistance throughout the movement, only as they become stretched tighter and tighter during the “lift” portion right as we near the very top. This also happens to be when you are strongest mechanically so what’s really happening is the band cranks up the resistance during the last few inches of the movement when you are typically in ‘killin’ it mode’ and puts the breaks on what your body is used to performing rather easily.
In short it makes the entire motion difficult and creates a completely new stimulus on an otherwise easy part of the movement.
This has tremendous carry over to our ability to accelerate which helps our strength and power, and also helps us decelerate which is a critical skill for sports-performance.
My favorite examples of band resisted exercises are:
- Band Bench Press
- Guillotine Pull-Ups (above)
- Band-Resisted Broad Jumps
- Band Squats – can be overloaded during the eccentric lockout portion, typically the easiest part of the movement.
That’s it. Six quality implements in the constant quest of getting to the next level. As a final reminder, these skew a bit more towards the advanced crowd and you should also ensure you maintain linear progression for as long as it takes you. Beginners and intermediate trainees should first worry about getting their squat and deadlift to a respectable level before destabilizing anything, and you don’t need to worry about mass at all until you start hitting plateaus. In your first few months plateaus basically don’t exist.