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Filtering by Tag: powerlifting

Pay Attention, CrossFit Box Owners

Jeremy Augusta

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For those who have been paying attention, there is a change happening in the fitness industry, and for those CrossFit box owners paying attention, there is an opportunity to capitalize. Guys, the industry is changing again, and now is the time to move on it. I'm going to show you how.

A few years ago, thanks to CrossFit, USA Weightlifting exploded in popularity. As a weightlifting coach and the admin of the USAW coaches forum on Facebook, both others and I are well aware that the sport of weightlifting grew so popular because of a mix of CrossFit and social media. As weightlifting grew in popularity, the CrossFit gyms that added weightlifting-specific programs began to see their memberships grow—and their revenue. As the memberships grew, these gyms (the smart ones with good coaches and weightlifting programs) began to win meets, their lifters began to grow in popularity, and the prestige and reputations of these gyms grew as places where winners trained. Many gyms now have dedicated USAW certified coaches. Those who didn't create weightlifting programs missed the bus. They missed out on income and missed out on greater success.

 

As both a weightlifting and a powerlifting coach, I've had my feet in both of these worlds while watching changes happen within all of the CrossFit gyms through which I provide strength training and competitive CrossFit programming via the American Strength Club. A lot of money is available for these gyms IF you know how to reach them before your competition does. Fair warning, chances are that your competition is already making the move.

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Powerlifting is growing at an incredible rate at the grassroots level. For gym owners, powerlifting is the new Bitcoin of membership growth. If you have a solid strength program, you can market it and increase your revenue and member count right now. There are a couple ways to do this.

First off, your current members already need this new strength program. Unless you've been lying to yourself, you know that CrossFit favors the strong. Even the CrossFit Games site directly points out this important aspect: “Games athletes are also stronger in the power lifts, and the differences nearly reach statistical significance. This all suggests that strength, especially the ability to apply that strength dynamically, is the biggest difference between a Games athlete and a regional athlete.” Not offering a true strength-based program is not only a disservice to your competitive athletes but also it guarantees that they will never reach the top.

Starting a powerlifting-based strength program has more benefits than just the awesome aspect of making your athletes stronger. It provides them with many more competitive opportunities as well. This is true not just for the best of the best but rather for every one of your members.

A powerlifting meet provides an opportunity to get on the platform, to do your best, and hopefully, to break a few records while you're at it. A lot of options exist for you when you go to compete. Athletes can choose to compete in the open category, which means no restraints in age or ability exist, or they can compete in age- and experience-based categories. That 40-year-old soccer mom at the gym who would never consider competing in a CrossFit competition is a lot more likely to compete in a powerlifting meet against women who are her age, her weight, and have the same experience as she does. That's something she can get excited about. So, not only can you take your top athletes to sharpen their skills but also you can take the average member and help him or her to feel like a rockstar.

 

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For example, I have a 71-year-old man who was inactive for 30 years before joining my gym. In the powerlifting program, when he started, he couldn't bench press a barbell. As his strength went up, he got more and more excited about the workouts, and he now has the national bench press record for his age group. At 71 years old, he gets excited about competing! When he gets to the meet, he competes against other guys his age, and they all have a fantastic time together. We get to take this man who will never do a pull-up or compete in a CrossFit event and give him a reason to celebrate himself through strength training. It's a fantastic feeling not just for him but also for you as a coach. Keep in mind that guys like him are the ones who are telling all their buddies how amazing the workouts are and how much fun it is to be at my gym. And that leads to referrals.

Another way to use this to grow your gym is that you now have a way to market to people who already know you are there but until now haven't been interested in what you offer. Think about this: That globo gym up the road has plenty of members and keeps growing. If you go inside of it, what you're going to find is a lot of people lifting weights. Many of these people have no technique and don't know what they are doing, but they are lifting because that is what they enjoy doing. They know that if they go to your CrossFit gym, they will be asked to run, to do those weird kipping pull-up things, and to do cardio, and they don't want to do this. You do not offer something that appeals to them, so they give their money to another place that does. They want to lift, to become stronger, and to become healthier without having to figure out how to do a double under. These guys already know that fitness is important, and they know that strength is important, but they are giving their money to somebody else at a cheap-ass globo gym up the road that doesn't even teach them how to perform the lifts correctly. This almost feels sinful, doesn't it? The way you reach these people is by having a program that appeals to them, and that's exactly what you're going to do. Now, you create your Barbell Club, which is a powerlifting-based program, so it appeals to these people. These guys already bench press, back squat, and deadlift, so you're going to market to them how to do it correctly and safely, and they are going to get much stronger.

 

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Here's a surprise for you: You may think that the ideal client in this category is male, but you're absolutely incorrect. Women are starting to flood powerlifting. In fact, when I spoke to the powerlifting federation, USPA, I was told that in the past three years, it has had an increase of 40% in lifters, almost all female, and many come from CrossFit gyms, the same CrossFit gyms that already figured this out before you did. Women find powerlifting empowering! For a woman, getting stronger, picking up heavy weights, and being independent is exciting and makes her feel like a badass. Don't believe me? Check your Instagram feed.

It's time to restructure your facility so that you can increase your revenue and boost your membership. We've seen the change happen before, and it is happening again. The bus is here, and you're either going to get on it or be left behind.

 

See the article originally published on EliteFTS

How To Set Up Bands In Your Gym

Jeremy Augusta

For those who follow The Swing Block Method, using bands for accommodating resistance is a big part of our strength training program. Below is a step by step guide  to help you set these up. 

Accommodating resistance is the use of chains and bands to increase the force velocity curve. The body is made up of lever systems. When you're at your lowest on the squat, your lever system is it it's weakest. That's why you see “bros" in the gym doing quarter squats because that high the lever system is at their strongest. It's harder to use full range of motion so they simply won't and happily let their knees pay the price without getting full results. Remember, partial reps mean partial results.

The way I prefer to set up bands is by placing anchors in the floor that fold up and down for easy access. These can go under the mats and not be seen, or you can do like I have and cut out the mats from around them. Cutting out the mats just makes access to them easier. They are in no way a tripping hazard and in fact, you can do double unders on them and they would never bother your rope. Here is a link to the ones I use. 

 

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You can also set up bands using heavy dumbbells or even a couple 45lb plates, but since this is a big part of our training, it's how I prefer to do it. 

When connecting your bands for the cleans or deadlift, you will want to pull it through itself and on the other end use a carabiner to connect it to the next anchor. Make sure you use the same kind of carabiner on each side. These are the ones I use. If floor anchors are not an option, it is easier to use very heavy dumbbells than lifting plates. If you do use a dumbbell, brace it with plates, like chocking a wheel. 

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When using these for cleans and deadlifts, you will need 4 on each side, 2 on each side of the platform, as wide as the platform, then 2 more about 3 and a half feet apart in length. This gives you enough distance that you can lay the bands out long ways and connect them without having any slack in the band. When it comes to bands, slack is your enemy. If youre using weights to hold the bands in place, make sure they are heavy enough to not move during the movements. 

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Once you have your anchors and bands in place, it's time to find out how much tension you have. Here is the thing, each website you order bands from will say it has 60-80lbs of tension, or 40-100lbs, the thing about that is it is complete bullshit numbers. The weight of the resistance from the bands change as it stretches more. So how do you know how much tension you have? You have to measure it for each of your movements so you understand how much you have at the top. It's only important to know these numbers if you care about how much weight you're moving. That's sarcasm, yes it's important to know these. 

So, how do you find your band tension? Ok, you're going to need a scale that isn't digital. A digital scale will not be able to read the resistance properly. Trust me on this, I've tried many times with a digital scale, it won't work. First thing, get your scale and a barbell, stand on it. Once you have that weight, You will want to then put the bands over it and hold it in the position of the movement, if it is a deadlift, hold the deadlift with the bands while standing on the scale, if it is a clean, stand up in a front rack position. You will want to do this with one band on each side, and then both. 

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Setting up for the back squat is a bit different. First off, you need to have the anchors close enough to your rig so that there isn't a lot of pull from an angle that can pull an empty barbell from the pins. You also have to pull the band through itself so that both ends of the bands go on the barbell. Doing it this way will make sure that there is zero slack at the bottom of the squat. As mentioned earlier, with bands, slack is your enemy. 

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Zero Slack

Zero Slack

The more tricky band resistance to measure is for the bench press. The way to get this tension, again while using the bands doubled through without having slack at the bottom, is to lay on the bench and hold the bar up at lockout and have someone mark the height with chalk on the rig. 

 

Notice the chalk mark on the rig at the height of the barbell. 

Notice the chalk mark on the rig at the height of the barbell. 

After the mark is made, have the athlete hold the barbell at the height of the mark while standing on the scale, remember, the weight of the band tension is the difference of the athletes weight with an empty barbell and the weight of the athlete with the barbell at the movement height with the bands attached. 

 

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So there you have it. For each kind of band you use, you will want to redo these steps, even for each different brand of band because the way they are manufactured could be different. If you are looking to get new bands, click here to find some of the cheaper ones to begin with. 

If you are wanting to have an effective program using bands, wanting to create a barbell club, a full competitive program for your gym or just to become on the the strongest people on earth, join our program to make the greatest gains of your life. 

 

Wrapping Your Wrists To Move The BIG Weights

Jeremy Augusta

One of the things I see in Powerlifting meets that annoy me is the amount of people who just don't know how to wrap their wrists properly. So, here we're learning how to do it correctly. If you're just starting to bench the big weights or starting to compete, this is for you.

 

 

In need of wrist wraps? Try a pair of Inzer wraps that you can get here on Amazon. 

Setting Up To Coach A Powerlifting Meet

Jeremy Augusta

I'm explaining how the behind the scenes prep work for coaching at a Powerlifting and Olympic Weightlifting meet. I explain how we come up with our opener, the second and third lifts as well as how we decide where to place the athletes in their category. Everything we do on our training is based off of the Swing Block Method of Training.

The Swing Block Method

Jeremy Augusta

Before you begin reading, you'll need to understand that this isn't a “bro program.” For the average gym member, this program is far too advanced. This is intended for serious athletes who are actively competing in their chosen sport. Specifically, this is geared towards powerlifters, Olympic weightlifting athletes, and sports specific coaches needing their athletes to compete at a high level who can also have those athletes monitored and watched closely.

Throughout reading, you'll see terms that you must be familiar with to understand the intended effects of what's being discussed. Following is a list of these terms.

Sarcoplasmic Hypertrophy

Sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is the process of increasing muscle size by increasing semifluid plasma between the muscle fibers. This process greatly increases the size of the muscle but makes the cross-sectional area of the muscle less dense. The muscle will be bigger and weigh more, but there are no strength increases from it because the plasma inside of the muscle is non-contractile. Fluid can fill an area, but fluid cannot contract. A great example of a sport focused on sarcoplasmic hypertrophy training is bodybuilding. While their muscles may be large, they are mostly for show.

MORE: Bigger Is Not Always Stronger: Fallacies of Muscle Hypertrophy for Strength Athletes

While sarcoplasmic hypertrophy may be used for bodybuilding by most, it also has great uses for increasing health of connective tissue, which is paramount for injury prevention. This type of training can also be beneficial for an athlete, such as a football lineman who is in need of increasing weight while adding as little fat as possible or a basketball player who is unusually small and needs the increased weight to not be pushed around easily on the court.

Myofibril/Sarcomere Hypertrophy

This is when we have an increase in sarcomeres, which is what comprises the myofibrils within the muscle. The myofibrils are hair-like structures that are what causes the muscle to contract. While the sarcomeres are what make up the myofibril, from here on out we will refer to this as myofibril hypertrophy.

Accommodating Resistance

Accommodating resistance is the use of chains and bands to increase the force velocity curve. The body is made up of lever systems. When you're at your lowest on the squat, your lever system is it it's weakest. That's why you see “bros" in the gym doing quarter squats because that high the lever system is at their strongest. It's harder to use full range of motion so they simply won't and happily let their knees pay the price without getting full results. Remember, partial reps mean partial results.

Post-Activation Potentiation (PAP)

Post-activation potentiation is the result of a muscle being able to produce more force than normal based on recent muscle contraction. An easy example is if you want your athlete to get a new 1RM for back squat at 300 pounds, you first load the bar with 350 to 400 pounds and let it sit on their back and perform partial reps. You want to let them hold it for 15 to 20 seconds. What's happening in the body is that the nervous system is now used to and prepared to move this much heavier than intended load, and the result will be a much more effective lift when attempting the new, true PR with a lighter weight.

 

In this writing, we will only be discussing the use of bands. While chains work for this and look cool to use, the results are subpar when compared to bands.

Bands train our body to accelerate much faster than free weights can while also increasing power production, explosiveness, and force development, which is great for the development of power. If you're an athlete of any sport, to become a greater athlete you must increase your power and explosiveness. The bands will train the body to control the bar during the eccentric phase of a movement, increasing elastic kinetic potential energy. The body will use that energy through the concentric phase. It's the stretch reflex. When using bands, we don't rely solely on barbells. My athletes jump with them often. My strength athletes perform a minimum of 40 jumps a week using bands setup in different ways for different effects, while my basketball athletes jump a minimum of 40 times a day.

Beyond the force velocity curve, there is a much greater benefit from accommodating resistance, and that is the nervous system response to them. Every response we want from our muscles for any movement is based on how hard they can contract. How hard a muscle can contract is based on the motor units within each muscle, which is controlled by the nervous system. When using bands the load increases with every inch you stretch. The body has to react to this continually increasing load and it does so by making the nervous system recruit more motor units to make the muscle contract harder. The harder the muscle can contract, the more explosive power you get in return.

Supercompensation

Supercompensation is the process in which a workout will break our body down, resulting in an adaptation that makes the body more prepared for the upcoming workloads. The body can only adapt to the load placed on it; supercompensation explains it. Directly after a workout, fatigue sets in and the body at that point is less capable of doing the same work. As the body recovers, its level of fitness in whatever specific situation trained will rise to levels above previous. With supercompensation we continuously build upon that, making the body stronger, faster, or specifically for the intended training effect.

This program was born out of a lot of trial and error in working on my own programming over 15 years, and the programming of my powerlifters, weightlifters, and functional fitness athletes.

 

The basis of this program is to move in a linear progression by alternating rep ranges with normal deload and sarcoplasmic hypertrophy phases to allow for supercompensation to take place, while also taking time to focus on high rep, low weight movements to increase muscle mass and strengthen the connective tissue. The reason for staying with a higher intensity for the majority of the time is that the body will only adapt to the stimulus put on it, so we're giving plenty of opportunities to adapt in different blocks while also allowing it time to rest with regular deloading.

This program has many influences based on the coaches and programs that I look to for inspiration, including the Westside Barbell methodMash Method5/3/1Supertraining, and the Texas Method by my good friend Glenn Pendlay, as well as borrowing from my time as a bodybuilder.

You're going to notice that there is constant change in these movements. We never do anything for more than three weeks. This prevents us from falling to the law of accommodation, while also keeping things fresh. According to Louie Simmons, after three weeks of doing the same movements, the body stops getting stronger and faster. Borrowing from his knowledge, we implement that into our program by changing the rep schemes.

You'll see that there are repeating patterns for the different blocks that swing from one to another. You'll be working in rep ranges of five sets of five reps, five sets of three reps, eight sets of one rep, and very high volume/ light intensity work. There are specific reasons for these rep schemes.

WATCH: Table Talk — When to Rotate Supplemental and Accessory Exercises

The lower the reps, the more strength/myofibril hypertrophy focused the movement is, and as the volume increases the more it moves to a sarcoplasmic hypertrophy effect. This is building muscle size and helping to increase the strength and health of the connective tissue.

When we are in the five-rep ranges we are building a combination of strength, speed, and mass. It isn't bodybuilding mass, but there will still be a slight amount of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy taking place. The majority of the benefits from this range, however, will be myofibril hypertrophy. When doing these movements you want the bar to move as fast as possible to build speed strength. The benefit of the sarcoplasmic hypertrophy in this instance is that it will help to stretch out the muscle to make more room for new muscle fibers and for myofibril hypertrophy to take place while you're progressing.

Within the three-rep range, we are focusing strictly on increasing strength and making myofibril hypertrophy take place. This is heavy lifting; we want the body to feel the stress of the weight and respond accordingly. Remember, the body can only adapt to the stimulus placed on it.

The week of sarcoplasmic hypertrophy is often one of the most fun for the athletes. This is called the submaximal effort method or the repetition method. Athletes seem to always look forward to this because it's completely different, has a totally different stimulus, and provides a great pump to the muscle. The main reason for this work, though, is that the low intensity/high volume work is good to strengthen the tendons and ligaments, which get stronger at a much slower pace than the muscles. We consider this to be prehab: it's work we do to prevent future entries. Another important benefit is that the high volume work is very beneficial for softening the arteries while working the heart. Heavy weight training can harden the arteries; we need this cardio type work to help soften them so we have that balance for our overall health.

 

When we do the eight sets of one rep, we intend to increase your max lifts every time. This is the max effort method based on Prilepin's chart, which was popularized by Westside Barbell. This is truly max effort work, and within this process, if you want to go for a new max go ahead, but adjust the weight for the following reps accordingly. This is your opportunity to feel like an animal. Before you do your sets, I suggest you load the bar with more than you're going to actually need (except deadlift). If it's back squat day and your working weight is 300 pounds, put 375 or 400 on there, stand up with it, and let your nervous system become adjusted for that weight. When you move the lesser weight your body will be prepared for something heavier and will move much easier. This is also suggested for when attempting a one-rep max. This is called post-activation potentiation (PAP) and is a lesson learned from one of the best USAW coaches, Travis Mash. It is detailed very well in his book the Mash Method.

Each Friday during the five-rep and three-rep blocks we will be getting a new five-rep back squat max, without bands. If you cannot get a new five-rep max, you must do five sets of five at 90% of your five-rep max. We take a page from Glenn Pendlay on this from his very popular Texas Method.

Deloading is an absolute necessity. You'll find many opinions about if you should deload or not, but the correct answer is that on this program we deload and it is a must. The reason is that we are doing a lot of heavy work, often. We have to let supercompensation take place. Supercompensation is the process of the muscles that are broken down recovering and getting stronger. With the amount of work you will be doing, you must deload. How you deload is up to you. I suggest laying off the weights and doing a bit of light cardio, getting a massage, or whatever else you do to relax. When you finish your deload week you will be stronger the next week.

 

In this writing, we will not be going into the accessory lifts. Accessory lifts are intended to bring up your main lifts by targeting your weaknesses. When you're doing your main lifts you are training the lift; when you're doing accessory work you are building the lift. Because everyone is different, I will let you decide on your own accessory work and not dictate it within this program. If you follow a functional fitness type of training method, make sure your main lift is always completed first with you daily workout incorporating your accessory movements in it.

The structure of the program follows with a sample program after. At this point, we will assume you already have a 1RM on all the needed lifts. If you do not, establish one before starting. Once you have completed the program, there are other ways to change the Swing Block Method to suit your needs. If you're gaining a great amount of strength, you will want to double your sarcoplasmic hypertrophy weeks by putting one in the middle of your cycle to increase joint and tendon health.

The most important aspect of this program which can not be changed is the three weeks of work followed by a transition to another rep scheme, with regular sarcoplasmic hypertrophy week, deload weeks, and max effort weeks.

This program has been used by members of Barton County Strength Club with amazing results. Over the past summer by using this method our members have secured over 115 state and national records in both Powerlifting and Olympic lifting.

 

The Swing Block Method

Week 1

  • We take a week to measure strength and set a record on with a five-rep max.