By Chris Wilson, Head Strength Coach
Let’s get right to it!
There is a lift LOTS of guys struggle with improving at the gym that can be extremely frustrating and defeating…
The Bench Press
These guys work as hard as any of the other guys in the gym but feel so inferior, especially when one of them asks, “So how much can you bench?” They embarrassingly mumble “My max is 205 pounds.”
If they weigh 225 pounds but struggle to rep out their own body weight, it’s as if they can hear people chuckling throughout the gym at them.
This ‘strength technique’ I’m about to share with you is for the guys who are getting sick and tired of justifying their weakness in the bench press and being the laughing stock of the gym.
With this training technique, you will have a shot at increasing your bench in only 6 weeks!
So you SUCK BIG TIME when it comes to bench press…
Don’t feel like you are alone as I can relate to you (as well as many other guys) with regard to a having a weak bench press at some point in our training.
Back in the day, I could do full barbell back squats with 315 pounds for 15 reps without much of a warm-up easier than I could bench press 225 pounds for ten reps.
Basically I could easily rep out my body weight PLUS 100 lbs on squats but only hit my body weight for like 10 reps. Compared to other guys with big benches, I felt like a failure.
I just wanted to feel the same kind of confidence while lying under the bar that I felt while standing under it.
If there is a positive to my bench press weakness it is that I have researched nearly every bench press routine known to mankind over the years. I know what works and what is monkey crap when it comes to bench press routines.
Here is a 6-week bench press routine, which will give you the most amount of gain factor in the least amount of training time.
It is called ‘Flashpoint Bench Pressing’.
This training technique uses a fixed poundage percentage of a maximum un-fatigued single-effort. The percentages of maximum and corresponding poundage increases only once every seven days, over the next six weeks. Here is an outline of the six progression training levels that many bodybuilders in both the amateur and pro ranks will use in their quest for upping bench press power.
Do this workout on Monday and Friday or…Tuesday and Saturday
The point is to have 3 days off in the middle of your bench days.
Level One (Week #1)
After a couple of light specific warm-up sets perform 5 sets of ten reps with 65% of current un-fatigued maximum single effort (MSE).
Level Two (Week #2)
5 sets x 8 reps with 72% MSE
Level Three (Week #3)
5 sets x 6 power reps with 79% MSE
Level Four (Week #4)
5 sets x 4 power reps with 86% MSE
Level Five (Week #5)
4 sets x 3 power reps with 93% MSE
Level Six (Week #6)
1 set x 2 power reps with 100% MSE
NOTE: Always be sure to do a couple of light specific warm-up sets at each level of training.
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Not any one training schedule works for all lifters. That’s a FACT.
Some guys have super busy schedules and have limited time to devote to working out while others can easily adjust their schedule to meet their training needs.
Below you will see 13 different training frequency options. Look them over carefully, study them for a moment and then decide for yourself which one makes sense in your life.
Options 1-10 are based on body part split routines (more bodybuilding) and options 11-13 are based on total body workouts (more powerlifting/powerbuilding). In order for these options to make sense in your life, you must first decide what type of training routine meets your needs.
How to Choose the ‘Right’ Training Option
Choose a training frequency option (for example 2-On/1-Off, 1-On/1-Off repeat frequency) which best accommodates:
- Your current daily lifestyle,
- Recovery ability tolerances (localized muscle and central nervous system),
- Major and minor muscle grouping preferences (body part splits), and
- Number of training sessions dedicated to select muscle groups.
If you may want to focus extra time and attention on a particular lift like the bench press or squat in order to make faster progress with that lift, you will want to immediately focus on options 11-13.
Options 11-13 are broken up into 3’s – Workout A, Workout B and Workout C. To make this simpler, you will see WOA, WOB & WOC in the charts. Remember, it is up to you to decide what specific exercises you want in each workout. This is simply a template to help you stay on track with your training and is based on a schedule that works best for you.
Lastly, for options that don’t show all 7 days of the week (options 1, 2 & 4), it is assumed that you then REPEAT the cycle. So, for example, Option 1 has Day 1-4 listed, on Day 5 you would then repeat the cycle with the Day 1 workout.
So let’s dive right in…
13-Dynamic Training Frequency Options
OPTIONS 11-12-13: Abbreviations: WOA, WOB, WOC symbolizes muscle group(s): WORKOUTS A, B, and C
By Chris Wilson, RKC, CPT, CSN
Are you a Belieber? I certainly am. But not in the way you might think.
I “beliebe” Justin has horrible forward head posture after seeing that police profile picture that became famous not that long ago due to his accentuated head position and his childish behavior.
I admit I did laugh at first but I also realized something else much more troublesome about that photo.
Unfortunately, Justin Beiber’s profile image is not unique. His extreme forward head position is a very common and very scary problem plaguing millions of people around the world.
In today’s tech crazy world, people are attached to their cell phones, tablets, kindles and laptops nonstop. It’s unlikely this will change anytime soon, in fact it will only worsen. Go just about anywhere and you will see at least half the people communicating on one of these gadgets even when in the company of others.
It doesn’t even stop there since this poor head position is commonplace when driving a car or sitting in front of our home computers.
I’m no different, my cell phone goes everywhere with me and I drive several miles per day in my car.
So why is technology quickly destroying our posture, namely our head posture?
The answer is that a majority of us use poor body position while engaging in cell phone or computer activities and while driving. Our head is typically in a forward leaning position or on many occasions looking downward.
This is commonly known as Forward Head Posture or FHP.
This position all by itself isn’t necessarily bad since our body is designed to move in many different positions but we begin to cause some serious trouble when this is repeated and sustained for hours per day.
With repetition, this head movement is rapidly hurting our neck muscles and cervical spines. Without getting too technical, we have created a huge imbalance in the muscles that support the head. The muscles on the anterior or front of the neck called the sternocleidomastoid and scalene muscles have become over used. Because of this dominance, they have tightened up.
In contrast, the posterior muscles of the neck (like the upper trapezius) have weakened from inactivity. Since everything is connected in the body, you can imagine the kind of domino effect this has on other things like the shoulders, pectorals and mid-back.
The good news is that you are in good company since 99% of America either uses a cell phone, drives a car or sits for hours at a computer every day. We are in this fight together.
The Big Question: Is It Possible to ‘Undo’
All of This Damage?
By Chris Wilson
What is your “fuel” in life?
More specifically, what “thing” in your life do you think about 24/7 (besides chicks guys) and want to constantly find ways to get better at doing?
I’m not talking about a casual interest in a particular idea, sport, hobby or profession.
I’m talking about PASSION.
Most of us have something that occupies our thoughts during our waking moments and often times even when we’re in dreamland. This doesn’t have to be your career, although if you’re lucky, you’ve found a way to make it your career.
Being passionate about what you do in life can in many ways determine the quality of your life. It can bring about the meaning of your life.
I’m sure you, like me, have occasionally asked yourself the age old question, “Why am I here?”
“What purpose do I serve in the world?”
We can cite men and women in history that just seemed destined to become great at what they did:
Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Benjamin Franklin, Susan B. Anthony, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Henry Ford, Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan to name a few.
Did they have a “casual” interest in what they did and just get lucky or did they spend each day perfecting their skills and dedicating all of their time and energy towards that ONE thing that meant everything to them?
I shouldn’t have to answer that. I’m fairly certain that anyone on that level of superior talent worked their tail off to get there. Luck was never an expectation. Hard work was the process.
But besides hard work, these amazing men and women all had something else in common. They were tirelessly and insanely PASSIONATE about what they did in life. Anything that distracted them or kept them from their mission was immediately removed and discarded. Nothing would hold them back from accomplishing their desires.
They also strived to surround themselves with other influential people that they could learn from and help them further their greatness allowing them to maintain and exceed a level of excellence foreign to most ordinary folk.
You might be thinking, “Yeah, yeah…but I’m not an inventor, sports phenom, saint or explorer…”
News flash…Me neither!
But I will tell you what I am. I’m out of control ridiculously passionate about what I do for a living. I absolutely love what I do for work and wake up each day excited about how I can get better and improve at what gives me a true sense of accomplishment and satisfaction in life.
Aside from our family and friends that give us immense joy, there is something else we all need to satisfy our craving to feel valued.
We NEED to be connected to something bigger than ourselves.
Over the years I’ve come across school teachers, coaches, on-line entrepreneurs, small business owners and doctors who possessed the same traits as the legendary figures I mentioned previously.
However, if I listed their names here, you wouldn’t recognize a single one. Does that devalue them or make their passion any less extraordinary? No way.
Their contributions to this world have been as meaningful to their friends, family and community as any 20th century hero.
You see, we are all capable of pursuing and finding passion in our lives. We are all capable of finding something that breaths fire into our soul and makes us want to leap from our beds with excitement.
This is REAL. This isn’t fantasyland talk. I speak from experience.
Allowing yourself to be enveloped by passion for a hobby, skill, profession, trade or cause is one of the most human things in the world. No matter the day, I can always lean against my passion as a source of strength.
In many ways, uncovering your passion leads to the discovery of your meaning in life and your contribution to the world.
Now your passion may not change the world and your name may not be found in historical books, on the $100 bill or in lights at NBA arenas but the fulfillment and gratification you receive from that “one thing” will change your life and those people in your life.
Realizing what your passion is may be one of the most remarkable and rewarding experiences you could ever have. Don’t disregard the things that give you ultimate joy. Embrace them and develop them.
Examine your life today. Determine what just interests you and what ‘FUELS’ you. Casual interests are fine but not fulfilling. Decide today to let your passion consume you and watch your life transform.
I guarantee if you find your true passion and devote yourself to it, the meaning of your life will seem to find you when you least expect it.
Click Here for a practical, step-by-step blueprint to rapidly developing mental toughness, igniting your passion and suppress the fear and self-limiting beliefs
that sabotage your success.
By Chris Wilson
In today’s world, “time” has become a very valuable thing. It’s the ONE thing that money just cannot buy. Many of us wish we had more of it in the day but sadly besides tricks like daylight savings time (DST), it’s just not possible. Work, family, bills and errands all rob us of our valuable time and pull us in multiple directions. And because of this “lack of time” issue, our bodies have a tendency to get neglected. That means soft, mushy, and weak.
Enough with the depressing news…let’s talk about getting leaner, more muscular and burning off unwanted fat. Yeah, that’s better!
How can this be done effectively from home in just a few minutes per day???
It’s actually much easier than you think.
Calorie burning, muscle gains and fat loss ALL happen at the same time, regardless of what you’ve read in the past. Our bodies can do LOTS of things at once…without us even having to think about them. Our bodies are so adaptive and so intelligent that we just never give them the credit they deserve. Talk about a TRUE multi-tasker. In as little as 5-10 minutes every day, you can have lingering effects on your metabolism, muscle building capabilities and fat burning processes. That’s the TRUTH!
By doing a series of Continuous Anaerobic Movements (CAM) you can have a HUGE impact on all the muscles in your body allowing you to burn some serious calories in very short bursts. The bonus is that this method has an aerobic element even though you’re not on a boring treadmill, uncomfortable bike or in an over-chlorinated pool at the local “Y.”
Aerobic activity is simply defined as your bodies need to consume oxygen more rapidly due to the physical nature of what you’re doing. Thus, you breathe heavily when jogging or doing sprints versus walking slowly at the grocery store. By forcing your body to move nonstop with resistance exercises, you create this perfect blend of anaerobic and aerobic activity which not only impacts the muscles but also the heart, lungs and circulatory system.
Whenever you mention the heart, lungs and circulatory system you are talking about CARDIOVASCULAR exercise which is NOT what you’re actually doing. That’s the amazing side effect of C.A.M. Getting the heart to pump and work hard is a result of your bodies demand to get oxygen to the muscles which also places great stress on the respiratory system. This is a “healthy stress.”
Much like a well-oiled race car, the body is a machine doing several things at once. It WANTS to move, it LONGS to perform. Age should not be the reason for laziness and living a sedentary life. No matter what your age, there are exercises that can be done daily to enhance your body’s ability to slash fat, build muscles and devour calories.
Here is a list of some of my favorite C.A.M. movements and how they can be used in a workout program:
Take any 4 of the exercises above and create a circuit workout. The key is to either count reps or do them for time. For example, you could do 10 reps of each OR do each movement for 30 seconds. The reps and time amounts will vary and should become more challenging over time. The other KEY element to this is rest period. Rest should only come at the end of a round and try to only rest when you must. Whether you can devote 5 or 10 minutes or somewhere in between, try to minimize rest and maximize movement.
Just the 8 exercises listed above can yield tremendous results for the man or woman trying to slash annoying belly fat, add quality muscle tone and feel healthy and energetic!
by Coach Chris Wilson of Team Critical Bench
The weekend before my big debut with Team Critical Bench started with a 3 Day Workshop in Tallahassee Florida and about 30 hours of kettlebell exercise.A few months prior to this amazing weekend the Founder of Critical Bench who is my good friend Mike Westerdal reached out to me with an opportunity.
We had already been discussing the possibility of me joining the business but at the time he was searching for a training partner.
He wasn’t looking for a spotter or motivator…he was looking for a commitment from a hard working friend.
Mike had recently been rewarded with the chance to train with kettlebell’s. And not with Joe Schmoe either. With the most prestigious organization in the world for Russian Kettlebell Training…Dragondoor.
He’s like, “Hey, do you know much about kettlebells?” I said, “a little bit, stuff like swings and squats I guess.”
He proceeds to tell me a little bit more about this awesome chance to learn from the best in the business and offered me the opportunity to join him. Knowing that I had a real chance at joining Critical Bench in the near future, I felt almost an obligation to say YES to Mike.
So the date was circled on the calendar and I felt great about it, until…I drove up to where Mike had been training for the past few weeks with an RKC Instructor and I had a…….
I meet this really nice, reserved fellow named Mike Wille as well. We make friendly conversation during warm ups and then we start doing some basic kettlebell exercises.
Fast forward about 5 minutes…
I’m already dying and scared about what’s coming next! Meanwhile, Mike the trainer is tossing these things around like they’re 5 lbs AND I outweigh him by at least 50 lbs! Talk about feeling wimpy.
Mike Westerdal & Mike Wille, RKC
I barely get through the hour long workout and I have to drive back to my old work (almost two hours by the way…ughh). Let me tell you, I’ve been training with weights for years and just one hour of doing strict kettlebell movements left me beaten, battered and extremely humbled.
I was so nervous about not only the next training session with “Mr. Nice Guy” Mike the trainer but I was seriously considering bailing out on that RKC Workshop thing at the end of April. Well, I didn’t quit just yet…I wanted to stay the course for my friend and see if there was any chance that I could improve my skills with that darn 24 kilogram weight. I’m usually pretty confident when it comes to strength movements and being explosive.
But not doing stuff like deadlifts, power cleans, clean and jerk, and push presses for a while will drastically destroy your chances of being truly explosive with weights. I practically had to reteach myself to be explosive and move with real power through my hips.
By the fourth session with Mike the trainer I had a smidge of confidence in myself. Enough to remain committed to my friend and this upcoming weekend workshop.
Russian Kettlebell Certification “RKC” WEEKEND
Mike and I make the drive to northern Florida from the Tampa Bay area in good time. We decide to eat some burgers (with some reservations of course) the Thursday night before the workshop started.Little did we know, we could have eaten 5,000 calories if we wanted to and still lost weight over the weekend.
By Friday evening (after 10 hours of straight exercise), Mike and I were so sore, so exhausted that we looked at each other at dinner and thought, “how in the world are we gonna be able to do that again on Saturday AND Sunday???”
Well, Saturday came and went ending with the kettlebell Snatch Test, an RKC special. After moving around all day long with kettlebells varying in weight from 16 kg to 32 kg, we were asked to do 100 reps of kettlebell snatches in 5 minutes or less….it still scares me to think about.
I was toasted. I failed to get 100 snatches. My hands were destroyed with open sores and I fumbled my way to 67 reps. Mike did much better and got to 88 reps. His powerlifting background really helped his efforts. For the rest of my life, I will remember those numbers!
Sunday was more of the same with even more testing at the end along with the final workout called the Graduate Workout….let me just say, imagine the worst 20 minutes of your life and multiply it by 5.
Easily, one of the most grueling exercise routines I’ve ever participated in. A non-stop combination of kettlebell swings, cleans, presses and squats….I mean non-stop…you never put the weight down!
Mike and I received certificates of attendance and we passed on several of the skills but both of us had to retest the Snatch Test and we had 90 days to do it following the workshop. Good old Mike was the first one to nail it and a few weeks later (after 3 failed attempts) I reached 100 reps with the 24 kg kettlebell in 5 minutes and became an RKC certified instructor too.
Here is a cool video of me passing my snatch test finally. This was months after the RKC but it is an example of what perseverance and dedication can do when achieving your goals.
And of course, we can’t forget the man himself, Coach Mike passing his snatch test!
Easily, one of the greatest and most challenging accomplishments of our life.
Get Ripped in 8-Minutes or Less with Kettlebell Finishers…
By Chris Wilson
The Health and Fitness community really benefits during this special time of year. It is this particular 2 month stretch where normally healthy people end up making very unhealthy decisions. And you know what….good for them!
I’m the first one at the dinner table to indulge in mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, corn bread and of course turkey (and in some cases ham too). I work my tail off all year long as do many health conscious people across our great country. This is the time of year for reflection and celebration. A time to give more and be kinder to those around us.
Being thankful and extra thoughtful for a few months seems to come naturally to some during the months of November and December and FOOD is often the catalyst!
Just think about, co-workers and patrons bringing delicious treats into the work place for you. Desserts and high calorie food present in almost any place of business and certainly sitting on the kitchen counter at home. Leftovers for days and weeks. It’s impossible to avoid the stuff.
Okay, be smart about this and have a game plan. Don’t just throw caution to the wind. Like any good sports team, you need to do some homework and have a plan of attack.
Tip #1: The 10 minute rule
We’ve all heard this one before and guess what…it works! After you have ONE plate of food, STOP and give yourself 10 minutes before loading up the second plate. I promise you, that second plate will be smaller than had you immediately restocked after the initial consumption.
Tip #2: Drink water before you eat ANYTHING
This one is a no brainer and easily forgotten by many. A majority of the country is dehydrated on a regular basis. Instead of drinking water and recognizing our thirst indicators, we very quickly jump to food which satisfies both hunger and thirst. If you fill up on a large glass of water every hour or so and certainly just before a meal…you will do a much better job satiating the body. That translates to LESS superfluous calories at dinner time leaving you feeling more comfortable and less lethargic.
Tip #3: Workout Finishers
Exercise is critical in the effort to maintain a muscular build and keep the body revved up all day long. This can be done in less time than you might think. The 5-10 minute workout finisher can be extremely useful during a time of year when family, friends and celebration take center stage. Making time for working out is very hard and for some of us, nearly impossible. Enter the 10 minute (or less) workout. By doing a series of movements like push-ups, body weight squats, lunge patterns and planks, it is possible to burn off those extra calories AND hold on to that well-earned muscle you’ve been piling on all year long!
When it comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas time, I’m ALL IN. I want to eat and drink with my close friends and relatives. I don’t want to miss out on the fun and enjoyment of home-cooked meals and hand-made desserts.
By plugging in the 3 BEST muscle saving and waist reducing tips, I can still look good on January 1st and have memories that will last for years to come.