Estimated Reading time: 4 minutes.
In my last post about my return to the powerlifting platform. I posted my planned pivot out of that block. The Pivot went well, fatigue dropped, sore things got a lot less sore.
Then I ran another developmental block, so I figured I’d post about that and how it went.
The goal of the block was to explore some meme variants, get another block of drama-free strength training in, and see if I could reverse grip 3 plates. For no other reason than the meme factor of doing it.
The Microcycle for Dev Block 2 was as follows.
Front Squat x5@8, Drop 5%
Reverse Grip Bench x1@8, x3@8, Repeat till x3@9
Bulgarian Split Squats 3 sets @9
Trap Bar Deadlift x5@8. Drop 10%
Paused Closegrip Bench x3@8, Repeat till x3@9
DB Overhead Press 3 sets @9
SSB Squat x1@7
Reverse Grip Bench x1@7
Sumo Deadlift x1@7
From my previous training, I’ve really never managed to do a great number of sets on lower movements. Even while I was just doing more hypertrophy-style training, I really struggled to get past 4 work sets at a higher intensity. Having had my main block going into my last competition being to test out minimal effective dose stuff, I averaged 1-2 drop sets per week.
In this dev block, I aimed to see what volume was like at a couple of breakpoints. I also kept upper volume minimal with repeats, though I’ve never had issues with upper volumes ever.
Along with me not really having the time to train for hours, I need to keep sessions pretty concise. Here are a couple of tables regarding fatigue % drops.
I’ve already written about them in depth here.
But TL;DR higher % drops take longer, and equal more total volume on average. Whilst being auto-regulating.
I’ve picked out 15% total volume for the week between my Front Squats and Trap bar Deads. So we’re going in pretty low, but remember I’m not very accustomed to this.
I chose an SBD day on the third day, to limit my total volume, and also to see how it works. I’ve never done one in a block before and they seem fairly popular now, with the rationale of sports practice (doing all three lifts on the same day).
I also decided to play around with measuring bar speed and using it to help make some decisions through training. Overall my training priorities went something like:
Pain lead. If something goes past a 3/10 on the pain scale, we call it.
RPE. My own perception of how performance felt.
Average bar speed on the app. If I couldn’t decide based on how it felt, I’d watch the video and decide based on the video and the measured speed.
Let’s look at some top sets from week 1.
Reverse Grip Bench x1@8 120kg 0.27ms
Front Squat x5@8 110kg 0.46ms
Trap Bar Deadlift x5@8 200kg 0.42ms
These singles are technically week 2. I did my first-week session in a warm-up room at a comp, so I didn't get vids.
SSB x1@7 150kg 0.41ms
Sumo x1@7 180kg 0.23ms
Everything looking fine. No massive drops post-pivot. Though the variations are really different, so it’s hard to tell even versus my pre-comp block.
Now let’s compare them to the peak week of the block, week 7.
Reverse Grip Bench 1@10 140kg 0.13ms
Front Squat x5@8 125kg 0.38ms
Trap Bar Deadlift x5@8 230kg 0.38ms
SSB x1@7 170kg 0.41ms
Sumo x1@7 210kg 0.27ms
Overall a very good block for increases.
+30kg on the trap bar deadlift is the most notable.
+30kg on the sumo deadlift
+10kg on reverse grip bench
+15kg on front squat
Going forward I’m going to pivot out and hopefully decrease fatigue a bunch.
My rough plan to get towards my next competition looks a bit like this.
Given that I don’t know when in November the competition is yet, I think my next development block will be another more exploratory block, aimed at progressing some less specific work.
Hopefully, you found some of this information useful, and if you’re keen to see how things go and how I develop things, stay tuned, and I’ll post the new dev block construction and implementation.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
For our last blog post of the beginner season, we will discuss some tips and tricks on keeping your exercise habit trucking. How do you keep things going once you’re over that initial couple of weeks, even a month of consistency, and the reality is setting in that this is a (hopefully) lifelong process that you’re committing to?
Firstly, start small! Don’t try and do too much too soon. You see this play out on your social media every year. Folk try to kick off about 3 different new year’s resolutions at once, they want to exercise, lose weight, read three books a week, and do Duolingo every day. It never works out, best case scenario they might stick to one of those, but more likely than not it’ll all come crashing down after a few weeks. It’s just too big a change all at once. Aim lower, start with amounts of almost trivial change, and build up from there.
Schedule your exercise. Pretend it’s just like any other appointment, even if you don’t work with a PT or coach, pretend it’s a work meeting. Try to make time for it at a place in your day where you never have any other conflicting activities if possible, and no, Netflix doesn’t count. We recently sent out a goal hierarchy worksheet to our newsletter subscribers that helps you do this exact bit of admin, so if you’re interested in that please sign up below.
Find an activity you enjoy. Exercise really doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. There are thousands of ways to exercise and finding one that jives with you might take a bunch of experimentation, but it’s worth it in the long run. There’s everything from hot yoga, dance classes and swimming, powerlifting, CrossFit, kayaking and everything in between. Think about things you enjoy and try to look for exercise classes or structures that are based on or include that thing.
Mix it up. One thing that can really tank motivation after the initial surge is the tedium of the routine. This is why I advise mixing up your workouts or activities. Even better, is to save the variety one for when things are really starting to get boring, and then sprinkle them in. Like having a break glass in case of low motivation button, keep them for emergencies only, and that way they keep their restorative powers.
Create accountability. This isn’t just limited to exercise, but a super easy way to hold yourself accountable to stuff is just to tell people that you're doing it, then they’ll typically ask about it most times that they see you, and that small inkling of pressure can help spur you on. Some people find having a PT or a gym buddy a great help for this reason. You build a routine together, and there’s an expectation that you’ll be turning up, which can really help you get in gear and get to those sessions you really don’t want to go to.
Reward yourself. Celebrate your exercise-related accomplishments. A small caveat, probably don’t celebrate with a calorie-dense meal out, as that will likely pull against your overall aims with exercise, however, some self-care activities such as a spa treatment, or buying new workout clothes are excellent rewards for exercise accomplishments! You want to try and think of things that will compound your motivation and desire to exercise, not subtract from it.
Track your progress. Somewhere in the back of a cupboard I still have the first workout my friend in school wrote for us both to do back in 2006/7. It can be incredibly rewarding to see how far you’ve come in your exercise journey, especially at times when you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. Plateaus do happen, and we’ll be covering what to do about that in our next month of content, aimed at people already well on their way with exercise.
Please also remember that building a habit takes time and effort, you have to put both the time and the work in. It won't be a straight upward road. But eventually, it will just become part of your routine and personality as a whole.
Hopefully, you found some of these tips helpful, and if you have any comments on them, or want to let us know any tips you use to stay on track, please let us know in the comments below. @atsapproved on all social media.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes.
In our previous articles, we’ve often mentioned that a key part of getting an exercise habit to stick to is finding some form of exercise that you enjoy. So, this week’s article is going to be a list of some of the more niche sports clubs across Scotland and hopefully, some of them may pique your interest.
First up is Orienteering. If you enjoy the outdoors this one is almost certainly for you. You navigate and plan a route through the wilderness using a map and compass, on routes with a variety of difficulties, and aim to complete your chosen route as fast as you can.
Photo credit: Scottish orienteering
A more in-depth beginner’s guide by Scottish Orienteering is listed here.
Scottish Orienteering has a bunch of clubs all over the country which you can find here.
With summer still to come this year, it could be a fantastic new way to experience the outdoors, meet some new folks, and get your exercise in all in one!
Next up is Ultimate Frisbee
Though now it’s apparently known as just ‘Ultimate’, *due to copyright issues around the word Frisbee apparently*
Is a non-contact team sport played with, you guessed it, a frisbee/plastic disc. Two teams of 7 players are aiming to score points by having one of their team receive the frisbee in the end zone. The rub being that while in possession of the frisbee, a player may not move.
The Scottish scene seems active and has several teams across the nation. They can be found here.
Photo credit: https://losquijotes.es/
Thirdly, we have roller derby.
Roller derby is a roller skating contact sport played on an oval track by two teams of five skaters. Teams of fifteen players field up to five members for two-minute periods of play. Where one designated player on each team is attempting to score points by lapping the non-scoring players of the other team. Each team’s non-scoring players are attempting to stop that happening through physically blocking/contacting the scoring player to prevent being lapped.
The Scottish League(s) have a website as well as plenty of social media to get in touch with!
Photo credit: Team Scotland Roller Derby
Lastly, and probably the most niche. Camogie.
By all accounts, Camogie is essentially ladies-only Hurling.
While there seems to just be the one Scottish club based in Glasgow. Camogie also likely falls under the Gaelic Athletics Association.
I advise having a gander at the variety of Gaelic sports listed there and seeing if anything takes your fancy!
Photo credit: Wikipedia
Hopefully, something on this list spurred some interest, if you have your own recommendation for a niche sport in Scotland drop it in the comments!
As always hit us up @atsapproved on all socials.
Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes
I’m approaching this from a fairly biased viewpoint, however, I don’t think I’m understating anything when I say that exercise is probably one of the top 3 most powerful tools you have at your disposal for improving your health and well-being, both long and short term.
Within exercise as a whole, one specific discipline has benefits unique to it that you can’t get from any other form of exercise, which is why I’m such a personal advocate for it.
That being resistance training. The best approach would be to have a mixture of both cardiovascular exercise (heart/lungs/circulation) and resistance training (muscles, bones joints). Which should hopefully shine a light on the popularity of things such as circuits, CrossFit, Hyrox.
They are not for everyone, however, and keeping them in separate workouts also has benefits.
Weightlifting helps increase your overall day-to-day energy, there are a few mechanisms involved in this, but at the most basic level, if you are stronger, you’re more efficient at moving yourself through your daily non-exercising tasks. Walking the dog, picking up kids, and doing household chores, and if those take up less of your total daily energy, you’ll have loads more left to do with whatever you want.
Lifting weights builds muscles and helps you reduce your body fat. Both of which will affect your appearance in and out of clothes, which is what a lot of people begin their training with in mind. Dieting can only get you so far if you aren’t lifting weights, you can drop all the body fat you want, but if there’s nothing under it to provide shape, you may not get the appearance you’re looking for.
It also makes any reduction in body fat easier. Muscle is a metabolically active tissue, it requires caloric expenditure to stay around and function, whereas fat has a far lesser demand.
Lifting will also strengthen, not only your muscles but all of your connective tissues as well. I realise there’s a bit of a dark cloud over lifting weights regarding form and making sure you’re ‘doing it right’ but this (like a lot of stuff) has been blown up a lot more than is realistic, normally to attract attention to content, or to sell specific things. Is there potential for increased injury risk if you do silly, non-appropriate things relative to your level of ability? 100% yes. Are you going to immediately snap something if you try and do a beginner program using appropriate loads and maybe just need more practice on your form? 100% no.
If you are still concerned about getting some advice or oversight for your training or technique, then you should hire a coach. You don’t have to think of this as a long term commitment, plenty of people visit us for some consultations on certain aspects of training, and then go off and continue on their own, to great success.
Hopefully, this has convinced you that this year is the year to try out lifting! If it is, please consider coming down to ATS and giving it a bash. Feel free to get in touch on 07843024606 or @atsapproved on all socials.
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes.
With the turn of the new year, a lot of people are going to be looking to start or restart their fitness journeys to try and achieve their health and fitness goals.
One of the most efficient ways to do that is to hire a coach or personal trainer. You don’t have to go trawling online to learn how to do everything, you just pay them and they tell you! Easy peasy right?
Sadly not, much like any profession, the skill and professionalism (and cost) of PTs vary wildly, and it’s not always clear who would be the best fit for you so here are some tips for what to look for before hiring a coach.
Qualifications. Do they have a valid level 3 personal training qualification from a reputable service provider, do they have valid professional insurance? Typically people will display their qualifications on their website (not having a formal website and only having a social media page is a bit of a red flag).
How experienced are they? Have they been working in the industry for a long time? Most people will cite their industry experience, and if they don’t, it usually means they haven’t been going long. This is fine, everyone starts somewhere, but the less professional experience should be somewhat reflected in the price.
Personality. This is where social media can come in very clutch. Realistically you’re going to be spending a fair amount of time with this person, and if their personality doesn’t gel with you it isn’t going to be an enjoyable process, and will likely hinder your motivation to go to sessions as well as your enjoyment of them. It’s worth following people’s socials for a bit and seeing whether they’d be a good fit for you.
Professionalism. Personally, this one hits home the most, since everything to do with it takes literally no talent. Are they punctual, arriving early? Are they organised, do they get paperwork and programs to you ahead/of time? Are they reliable, do they give you plenty of notice for any schedule changes, or payment deadlines/processes? This one you really only get from references or once you’re already working with someone, but I strongly advise not sticking around if they struggle with stuff.
Specialisation. If you have a specific health condition or are training for a specific sport, or level of sport, you may wish to investigate to see if they can facilitate your needs. Not everyone will be a specialist and that’s fine, it doesn’t mean they aren’t great coaches, but if you are concerned that you may require specialist/bespoke help, I’d do a lot of looking around and asking questions to find the right person.
References. Ask them for references, or find former clients and get a vibe check for them. I particularly advise people who no longer work with them for this purpose, as they’re not under any great pressure to sugarcoat anything, so you’ll get an honest take.
Price. As I alluded to earlier, the price for PT varies wildly, from the sceptically cheap to the eye-watering/celebrity-level price tags. Realistically the actual difference in service between the two isn’t as big as the price would suggest, certainly at the top end. It’s also a good idea to clarify ahead of formal sign-up the full payment option you are selecting, just so you’re aware of any additional fees or contractual obligations like cancellation policies or fees.
That’s my list for helping you find a coach or personal trainer, I hope you found some of those tips helpful and if you’re looking for a PT in 2023, consider getting in touch with us! @atsapproved on all social media, and visit our website for our introductory offer that’s frankly ridiculous value.
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes.
With the fresh start, the new year brings, many people will be taking their first tentative steps into pursuing health and fitness, perhaps stepping inside the gym for the first time ever.
It was once everyone’s first time in the gym, and there will be some nervousness and anxiety about going anywhere new, especially when you are a beginner.
Here are some practical tips for your first few visits to any gym.
Check online or over the phone before going to see if they have any inductions or paperwork that need filling out prior to becoming a member or using the facilities. This will save you from having to feel rushed in your session or having to cut it short on your first visit.
If you have any health concerns about specific exercises and how they relate to you, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions, consult your GP or PPC first before engaging in any formal exercise program.
Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in. Whatever you feel comfortable, or the least uncomfortable in will be the best bet to start with. Try to pick things that won't impair your movement and you won't mind getting sweaty in.
Remember to bring a water bottle and towel. Staying hydrated through your sessions is important, and having a towel to help clean the equipment after you’ve used it is just gym use courtesy.
Once you’re done with a piece of equipment put it back where you found it. Most gym kit has a designated storage place and it’s just good manners to put things back where you find them. Even if some people struggle to follow this one....
Do your best to minimise using your phone during your session. Yes, there are use cases for apps, and some people like to record themselves to check their form or technique. But scrolling away on social media is a massive time sink and will not only lessen your focus on your session but will also likely mean you use a piece of equipment for longer than you probably could have.
Hopefully, you found some of those tips helpful, and if you’re just starting out on your fitness journey this year I wish you all the best and hope you stick with it!
If you’d like guidance and support on getting started, or how to get the results you want from your fitness and exercise, feel free to give us a shout. @atsapproved on all socials, except Tik Tok because we’re old.