Strength and Conditioning Training
At ActiveBody our primary focus is on strength and conditioning.
The Top 10 Tips that you must know when building a strength training program
1. The most important factor in strength training is intensity of load. This is strength training, after all. So the goal is to (safely) move as much weight as possible.
2. Shoot for rest intervals between 3-5 minutes between sets. This will allow for adequate recovery of the phosphagen system (the main energy pathway used in strength training) without making the workouts intolerably long.
3. During strength phases you should resist the urge to add too much variety. Progress only a few lifts in each strength phase and save the variety for assistance movements or subsequent training phases.
4. For your primary movement(s) think more sets, less reps.
5. Strength training is very demanding on the central nervous system (CNS) which can take up to 5 times longer to recover than the skeletal-muscular system. Allow for proper rest and recovery between sessions.
6. Compound, multi-joint movements should be the staples of your strength training phase. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts, bench press, military press and pull-ups should be your main focus. These are much more valuable than increasing the load of a biceps curl or calf raise in this phase.
7. Don’t be afraid to ‘steal’ from the best. Wendler (5,3,1), Sheiko and Westside all have tried and true programs designed to increase strength. Give them a try.
8. Strength training phases are a great opportunity to break out some of the best toys in the gym. Bands, chains, boards and full speed devices can all be incorporated to great effect.
9. Don’t ignore core (especially obliques and lower back) training in your accessory movements. Being weak in those areas is often the limiting factor in the major lifts.
10. With that being said, if you were ever to use a lifting belt, knee wraps or specialty suits you can certainly do that during near-maximal or maximal attempts during this phase.
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4 Workout Moves Top Trainers Swear By
Lying YTA Raise
“This exercise is all about posture,” says Kendra Coppey Fitzgerald, ACE-certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, and founder and director of Barefoot Tiger, an in-home fitness concierge company. “Oftentimes, we focus on strengthening the muscles we can see (i.e., the muscles of the chest) and neglect the ones we can’t (like the back), which creates major imbalances and a forward slouch.” The lying YTA raise combats that by strengthening the upper back, stabilizing the shoulder joints, and helping to relieve upper-back pain.
How to do it: Lie flat on your stomach on a mat or carpet. Keeping your toes down, extend your arms overhead into a Y shape. Engaging through your shoulders and core, lift your arms and upper body off the floor, taking care to keep your toes firmly pressed into the ground. Lower down. Now, send arms out to the sides in a T shape. Raise your arms and upper body again in the same manner. Lower down. Finally, slide your arms back along your sides in an A shape. Raise your arms and upper body once more. This sequence is one rep. Do 10 total.
One word: glutes. For most people, this muscle group is, thanks to sitting a whole lot, weak. “The single-leg deadlift fires up the entire posterior chain while targeting your glutes,” says Greg Justice, MA, owner of AYC Health & Fitness in Kansas City, KS. “Doing one leg at a time forces you to use much more balance and coordination, and your stabilizing muscles have to work that much harder.”
How to do it: Stand tall with feet hips-width apart. Shift your weight to one foot, putting a micro-bend in that knee. Slowly hinge forward at your hips while sending your non-weight-bearing leg back behind you, so that your back and leg form a single plane. You’ll need to squeeze your glutes, legs, and abs to keep your back flat and moving leg extended straight. Only lower your chest to the point that you can keep your leg in the same plane — you may not end up at 90 degrees, and that’s totally okay. Then, slowly and with control, use the power of your standing leg to bring yourself back to your starting position. Do 10 reps on one side before switching to the other.
“Push-ups are one of the best exercises to build overall strength,” says Jaime Morocco, NASM-certified personal trainer and owner and founder of Jaime Morocco Fitness, an online personal-training and nutrition-coaching company. “They engage your core, shoulders, arms, back, and chest.” Doing the move on an incline allows you to keep your body in one continuous line, bringing a greater focus to core strength as well as synchronicity among all of your muscles. The added height also takes some of the onus off your arms, so you can do a deeper, full-range movement with your upper body.
How to do it: Place your hands on a sturdy, elevated surface, such as a countertop or bench. The higher the object, the easier this move is. Set your body in a tight plank position; the trick is to squeeze your glutes, thus letting the core and hamstrings do all the stabilizing work. As you inhale, bend your arms back and send your chest slightly forward and down. Your elbows should form an A shape with your head at the top point. Exhale as you press up. If it’s too much of a struggle to get that full range of movement, place your hands on a higher object (or even a wall) until you can comfortably do 10 push-ups with good form.
It’s tough to find a perfect anything exercise, and that’s especially true for the abs and core, given that these muscles are responsible for stabilizing basically every move you make. The V-Up is the closest you can get. “You’ll feel your rectus abdominus [six-pack muscle], external obliques [side-waist muscles], and even your quads,” says Ciara Delgado, ACE-certified personal trainer and personal training coordinator at Charlotte Athletic Club in Charlotte, NC. Plus, because you’re not crunching up as you do in, well, crunches, your posture stays intact and those back muscles serve to stabilize, rather than collapse.
How to do it: Lie flat on your back on a mat or carpet. Holding a body bar, broomstick, or nothing at all (don’t worry, you’ll still feel it!), fully extend your body, arms overhead in a Y shape. Using your abs, simultaneously lift your upper body and lower body, hinging at the hips, so your hands and feet meet in the air and you end up in a tight V shape. Slowly lower back down — this is actually the most important part — and the key word is “slowly.” Do 10 reps.