Monday, May 16, 2016

Staggered Sets for Grip Strength

Q: Hi James, 2 questions for you: 

  1. Several of your exercises, like the heavy squatting routine, requires up to 4 minutes of rest periods. James, I have ADD. I can’t wait around 4 minutes when I want to get in a solid effective heavy-based workout regimen. How do you recommend spending those minutes of rest instead of being stressed out just pacing around and my mind wandering and feeling like I’m wasting time? 
  2.  As for deadlifts, the weight I can lift is severely limited by my grip strength. Using wrist supporters allows me to deadlift up to 225 lbs instead of 95 lbs without them. However, one of my most important strength training goals is to improve my grip strength. Grip strength is VERY important to me. What would you recommend I do? Use other equipment like thick bar kettlebells for grip strength training and use the grip wraps for the deadlift? And are those grip wraps safe anyways?  

Thanks for your help as always. Love your blogs. 

My best,
Larry K.

My Answer: The long rest periods are there for a reason.  When you rest for up to 4 minutes between sets, it is to allow for full nervous system recovery.

Some workouts call for long rest periods, and these workouts are part of the decompression phases.  In decompression phases you're purposely pulling back on the amount of work per unit of time to build more muscle and strength.

Now if you have a hard time waiting around for a few minutes, then I suggest you do staggered sets.  Staggered sets are when you intersperse sets for smaller body parts into sets of larger muscle groups.

For example, you can intersperse sets of grip work in between sets of heavy squats:

  • Squat: 5-7 reps
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • One arm dead hangs
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • Squat: 5-7 reps
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • One arm dead hangs
  • Rest 2 minutes
  • and so on and so forth
If you want to build up your grip strength, then staggered sets of grip exercises are a great way to do it.  Here are some exercises to build grip strength:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

10 Must Have Items For Your Home Gym

Nothing beats the convenience of a good home gym! You never have to battle traffic on your way to a crowded facility where you then have to wait forever for equipment. Plus, the music is always your style and the post-workout smoothies are so much more affordable. Speaking of cheaper, just think of all the money you’ll save in memberships, fees, and gas! No matter your budget, when you invest in a home gym, you’ll start seeing a positive return on that investment almost immediately.

But what equipment should you have in order to still maintain your ideal physique? We at Modernize have put together the 10 must-have items for your home gym that will keep you healthy and looking good!

Nothing says strength training like a long line of dumbbells, but sets like that can run you thousands of dollars and eat up valuable floor space. If your home gym’s square footage or budget won’t allow for that, then opt for adjustable-weight dumbbells which give you virtually the same versatility at a fraction of the cost.

Kettlebells are a fantastic addition to any exercise program, regardless of where you work out. Since their center of gravity shifts as you move, they are able to add an intensity to each rep that you just can’t get from dumbbells. Be sure to get a few different sizes so you can make adjustments depending on the exercise you are performing and as your strength increases.

Barbell with Weight Plates
Hands down, the best tool for strength training is barbells. By fighting against gravity in the most natural movement a person can make, barbells build your power, strength, and muscular size faster than any other piece of equipment you can own. If you are concerned about keeping your floors in optimum condition, then opt for bumper weight plates that will cushion the blow whenever the bar is dropped.

Adjustable Bench
An adjustable bench will give you the versatility to optimize each exercise by adapting to fit whatever you needs may be. Many can be configured in over 50 different ways, allowing you to perform hundreds of different lifts from chest presses to crunches to hip thrusts.

Pull-Up Bar
If you are looking to build strength in your arms, back, chest, and abdominals simultaneously, then a pull-up bar is a definite must have because of its adaptability. By making simple changes like grip, hand placement, and body motion, you can isolate the exact muscle group you want to target.

Jump Rope
No workout is complete without an element of cardio. If you have the room for a treadmill or stationary bike, then go for it. But if you don’t, then a simple jump rope will give you all the positives of an aerobic workout without eating up crucial floor space.

Plyometric Box
Box jumps are able to exercise fast-twitch muscle fibers in your quadriceps that you are just not able to isolate with leg presses or leg extensions. This motion also ramps up your metabolism, burning fat like no other. For your home gym, choose a plyometric box set with varying heights so you can switch up your workouts as you get stronger. 

You, certainly, can workout on any type of floor surface, but rubber is the way to go. Half-inch thick rubber mats will soften the sound of a dropped barbell while giving enough cushion to keep your equipment (and flooring) in good condition.

Injuries, even small ones, are the best way to put a damper on positive momentum when it comes to weightlifting, and a major injury can end your ability to exercise in this manner altogether. That’s why a mirror is a must have for any home gym. By carefully watching each repetition, you can correct errors in your form immediately, rather than only knowing you were wrong once it hurts.

Whiteboard and Markers
When you are in the midst of an intense set, all your energy needs to be focused on maintaining proper technique and rep counts, not trying to remember your circuit order. The inexpensive addition of a whiteboard and markers can keep you on track in the simplest way possible.

Although each person is unique in their physical makeup and the workouts required for them to attain their ideal physique, these ten must haves will aid everyone universally in achieving their goals.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fat bar training equipment

Q: You had mentioned in a previous blog post a site to purchase thick bars. Can you remind me the name of this site again? Thank you.

My best,
Larry K.

My Answer: It was the Heavy Handle. I don't think they make the Heavy Handle anymore.  Which is unfortunate, because it was truly a unique and effective piece of equipment for thick bar training.

You may want to consider Fat Gripz.  It's an inexpensive way to do fat bar training.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What it's like to be both cop and trainer

Q: I was just wondering what its like to be both a cop and a personal trainer. I thought about doing that too.

- Sage

My Answer: There are very few people in the world with both backgrounds. You can really only do one or the other.  I've talked a little bit about this before:

PT or LE?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lat Shock Workout

Q: I want to employ your lat shock routine, but I am on a periodization routine.  I'm working upper and lower every other day.  Instead of putting all 4 exercises in one day, then resting that part for a week, I'm doing it all week.  

If I split up the lat work all week, will it still shock them into growth, or do they need all that work in one sitting?  Or should I do it once a week then the rest if the time do a lightweight lat workout?  Cause exercise done every other day would result in overtraining right?<


My Answer:  The Wingspan Workouts are 4 different WORKOUTS.  So you would not do all 4 in one day.  You can rotate through the 4 workouts through a length of 2 weeks, so that would mean 2 lat workouts a week.

Or you can do one lat shock workout a week, so that would mean 2 lat workouts a week:  one lat shock workout, one light active recovery workout for the back.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back Friendly Exercises on the RTC Program

Q: I am 19 years old and will be a sophomore in college this fall. I major in Criminal Justice and hope to one day become a law enforcement officer. I am 6 feet tall, 170 pounds, and in the worst shape of my life. I had back surgery for a herniated disc in January and haven't worked out since. 

While browsing articles on law enforcement fitness, I read a piece you wrote for I loved it. My surgeon has advised me to stay away from heavy deadlifts and squats for a long time. Basically, anything that could reherniate my disc is a big no no. In regards to the workout you listed, is there anything I could replace "high risk back" exercises with?

My goal is to become as agile as I used to be, and I would also like to put on a few more pounds of muscle. 

Jacob W.

My Answer: If you want to remove the deadlift and back squat from the RTC program, then I suggest you substitute cable pull-throughs and Bulgarian squats.  You will not add on as much muscle with these exercises, but the RTC program will be tough on you even with these substitutions.

Below is the program without deadlifts and back squats, but with cable pull-throughs and Bulgarian squats.  I've kept the front squats in the program, since the front squat does not stress the lower back as much as the back squat.

Weeks 1 and 2: Density Phase

Workout #1:

Quads Compound Set:

  1. Front squats, 6-8 reps, then go to
  2. Sissy squats, body weight only, as many reps as possible (AMRAP)
  3. Rest three minutes, and then repeat compound set two more times.

Back Giant Set:

  1. Wide-grip pull-ups (overhand grip) to failure, rest 10 seconds then go to
  2. Medium-grip pull-ups to failure, rest 10 seconds then go to
  3. Medium-grip chin-ups (underhand grip) to failure, rest 10 seconds then go to
  4. Narrow-grip chin-ups to failure.
  5. Rest three minutes, and then repeat the giant set two more times.

Wide grip upright barbell rows: 4 sets, 12-15 reps, 1 minute rest between sets

Biceps/Brachialis Compound Set:

  1. Zottman curls, 6-8 reps, then go to
  2. Lying dumbbell curls, 10-12 reps
  3. Rest two minutes, and then repeat the entire process two more times.

Dips, bodyweight only, 3 sets, AMRAP, 1 minute rest

Workout #2: High intensity interval training (HIIT), 20 minutes (90 seconds walk, 30 second sprints)

Workout #3:

Seated cable rows, 6 sets, 4-6 reps, 90 seconds rest

Arms Superset:

  1. Kettlebell curls or reverse grip barbell curls, 4 sets, 4-6 reps, 90 seconds rest
  2. Lying barbell triceps extensions, 4 sets, 4-6 reps, 90 seconds rest

Gironda dumbbell swings, 3 sets, 10-12 reps, 1 minute rest

Workout #4: HIIT – 20 minutes (Farmer’s walks for 30 seconds, walk with no weight for 90 seconds)

Weeks 3 and 4: Decompression Phase

Workout #1:

  1. Side to side pullups, 4 sets, AMRAP, 3 minutes rest
  2. Dumbbell military press, 4 sets, 6-8 reps, 3 minutes rest
  3. Bulgarian squats, 4 sets, AMRAP, 3 minutes rest

Workout #2:

  1. Sternum pull-ups, 4 sets, AMRAP, 3 minutes rest
  2. Close grip bench press, 4 sets, 5-7 reps, 3 minutes rest
  3. Cable pull throughs, 4 sets, 4-6 reps, 3 minutes rest

Workout #3:

  1. Subscapularis pull-ups, 4 sets, AMRAP, 3 minutes rest
  2. Weighted dips, 4 sets, 4-6 reps, 3 minutes rest
  3. Front squats, 4 sets, 4-6 reps, 3 minutes rest

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Workout to get ready for Corrections Physical Agility Test

Q: My name is Trey, and I am writing you today to see if by any way you could possible whip me in to shape with a workout. I would say I have maybe 2-3 months to get in to shape for the job demands. I work out now, but I feel like it's not getting me any where. I bust my ass when I go to the gym, but I see nothing different, so maybe you could refer something? Please help!

Thank you.

My Answer: First off I have no idea what is your physical condition and physical conditioning.  Are you overweight, or are you looking to add more muscle?

The problem I see with a lot of guys trying to get in shape is that they are not honest about what their condition is and what they need to do to remedy the condition.  I know a deputy who doesn't do cardio and was doing 5x5 to get in shape.

I thought to myself, "Dude, you're diabetic and overweight.  You don't need to do 5x5.  You need to do higher reps and cardio."

If you're trying to prepare for the physical agility test, then you should be practicing the physical agility test for corrections. That means running and whatever other body weight exercises they're testing you on (i.e. push ups, pull-ups, etc.).

Now let's just say you're overweight and want to improve your conditioning.  I would focus on strength training done in a cardio fashion.  In other words, do workouts like Tabatas and sprint intervals.  Do higher reps with short rest periods.

If you want to do something different from your usual workouts, then try my Strength Training for Fat Loss program.