What is Smolov Training?

Hailing from Russia, Smolov training is a type of training specifically designed to improve your squatting abilities. It’s an incredibly tough routine, certainly not for those without the will to succeed, however the results it brings can be quite stunning, with many often finding that they can increase their squat thrusts by 100lb in just 13 weeks.

 

Smolov training hasn’t actually been around for that long, as it was only conceived in 2001, by Sergey Smolov. After publication in Powerlifting USA, it took off in the mainstream, being taken up by large amounts of people not just in the US, but throughout the world.

How Does Smolov Training Work?

Smolov training is designed with maximum intensity in mind, which therefore leads to maximum results. It is split into four phases, each of which lasts for roughly two-three weeks, and each phase builds on the previous one. One of the phases is essentially a break though (the third cycle), which will certainly be needed, as by this point your body will be physically exhausted from your exertions.

It should be stated that Smolov training is not compatible with many other exercises, as it will result in your muscles simply being overworked. Deadlifting is the main exercise to avoid, and ignoring this advice will lead to your exercise routine being completely destroyed. The fact that Smolov training is so tough should ensure that most simply don’t want to exercise any more after they’ve finished though.

Is Smolov Training for Everyone?

Absolutely not. Firstly, as already mentioned, it is only suitable for those with the will to succeed, as it is extremely tough. Secondly, it can only be achieved by those who already have a good base level when it comes to squatting. This means that only those who are able to already squat 300lbs should attempt this regime. Finally, you’ll need a lot of experience to succeed, so if you haven’t been squatting for at least a year, it probably isn’t for you.

What Can You Gain from Smolov Training?

Through Smolov training, you can potentially add 110lbs to your squats, however this figure will clearly fluctuate depending on each individual. You might think that some other regimes offer more gains than this, however the ones you’re thinking of are for beginners, meaning that faster progress is much simpler. This is more of an intermediate program, for the stage when your progression simply can’t be as fast.

Smolov training also has another great benefit, as you’ll lose weight at the same time as putting on muscle. This is even the case if you eat huge amounts during the regime, as it requires so many calories.

Some Helpful Tips

Sticking to the routine is the best possible tip, but there are some other tips that will help you achieve the best possible results.

  • Eat plenty. You should aim to eat around 4,000 calories a day when you are on Smolov training.
  • Stretching will help to prevent any injuries from developing, plus it will also kickstart the recovery process.
  • Sleep. You absolutely must sleep. While sleeping, your body repairs itself, and being well rested will also ensure that you remain motivated.
Woman Doing Deadlift

Deadlifting: Use Proper Form to Avoid Injury

Like squats, the deadlift is a powerful exercise that works multiple muscle groups at the same time. But form is everything when deadlifting. Do it the right way, and you’ll see impressive gains. Do it the wrong way, and you’ll see nothing – or worse, you’ll injure your back. Use the tips below to correct your form, and avoid injury in the process.

Woman Doing Deadlift

Keep Your Back Straight

When deadlifting, it’s crucial to keep your lower back in the neutral position. Performing this move with a hyper-extended or rounded lower back can lead to spinal disc injuries. Rounding your back will compress the front part of your spinal discs, while excess arching will compress the back part of your discs.

In either case, you’re setting your back up for painful injuries. Always keep your lower back in a neutral position. Period.

Push Through Your Feet

Most people view deadlifts as a “pull” exercise, but try pushing instead. Move the bar by pushing your feet into the floor. Imagine that you are doing a leg press. Once you get the bar to your knees, thrust your hips forward to lockout the weight.

When you push through your feet, you minimize back pain caused by trying to pull the weight back too hard.

Always Use Your Legs

When deadlifting, don’t use your lower back – use your legs. This move is more than just a back exercise. The lower back should stay in a neutral position while you pull the weight. Your knees and hips should be doing the brunt of the work as you lift the weight and straighten your legs.

Start with the Bar Mid-Foot

Rather than starting with the bar over your forefoot, start with it over your mid-foot. The further away the bar is, the more stress you’ll put on your lower back. When you lift, pull the bar in a vertical line up to the top. Never let the bar drift away from the legs. Pull the bar to your body and drag it up over your legs until you get to the lockout point. If you’re worried about shin scraping, wear long pants and socks.

Don’t Lean Backward

Many people make the mistake of leaning backward when finishing a deadlift. But leaning backwards at the top or hyper extending your back compresses your spinal discs, which can lead to painful injuries. You may see competitive powerlifters leaning back at the top of their deadlift. This is merely just to show the judges that they have locked out the weight. It’s unnecessary for you to do this. Make sure that your lower back is always in a neutral position when finishing a deadlift.

Deadlifts are a great addition to any exercise routine, but they need to be performed properly if you want to avoid back injuries. Remember, always keep your lower back in a neutral position. That’s the key most important thing as this will help you avoid spinal disc compression. If you’re concerned about your form, try practicing without any weight to master the core movements first.

Master-Your-Rowing-Form-with-These-4-Tips

Master Your Rowing Form with These 3 Tips

When it comes to at-home workouts, few machines will give you a better cardio workout than the indoor rowing machine. A good workout on a rowing machine can blast away calories, melt fat, and help you build muscle. But if you’re not using the right form, you may be sabotaging your workout results.

Master Your Rowing Form with These 4 Tips

Here are four easy tips to help you master your rowing form.

1. Start with the Catch

Every row should start with the catch, and it’s important to get this move right because it serves as the foundation for the rest of the row.

Start by sitting with your legs bent, and placing your feet in the stirrups. Your shins should be about 90° to the floor.

Extend your arms forward to grab the handles. When you lean forward, don’t overextend. Your shoulder should come just ahead of your hips. Your back should be flat, be sure to engage your core muscles for added stability.

2. Master the Drive

Once you’ve mastered the catch, it’s time to move on to the drive. Start with a flat back, keeping your abdominals engaged, and lock your arms. Now, drive your legs back, pushing until they are almost straight. Hinge from your hips, leaning your torso backwards. Your torso should be 90° against the floor. Pull the handle with your arms, bending at your elbows.

It’s common for people to make the mistake of extending their legs, and nothing else. The handle and seat should be moving at the same time, so you maximize momentum and power.

Also, be sure not to over extend your torso past the 90° angle because this will put you back in a weaker position. Try to stay as close to 90° as possible.

3. Finish Strong

At this point, your legs should be straight and your elbows should be bent. Pull the handle towards your lower chest to push your arms slightly away from your rib cage (avoid flaring them out to the side). Keep your abdominals engaged here, and make sure that your back is straight.

Next, you’ll move on to the recovery stage. Let your arms straighten, and once they’re almost fully extended, hinge your torso forward from your hips. Keep your core tight and your back straight. Your knees should start to bend once the handle moves past them.

We really want to stress the importance of keeping your back straight while rowing. If your back is curved and your hips are pushed forward, you won’t see the results you’re looking for. Imagine that your torso is stacked directly on top of your hips, and practice rowing using just your torso. This will help you get a better feel of the seat moving under you. Remember, the key here is to hinge at your hips, not bend and curve your back. Use your torso to stabilize your upper body.

Rowing offers a great workout, but in order to maximize your results, you need to make sure that you perform each stage of the movement properly. Use these tips to correct your form and get the most out of each workout.

Squat

Why Proper Squat Form Matters – And How to Master It

Squats are a full body workout. When performed with proper form, this one move will work your lower body, abdominal muscles, shoulders, upper back, and arms. But if your form is off, you won’t see the gains that you’re after. You may also injure your back and knees in the process.

Squat

How to Squat Properly

For maximum safety, use the power rack when squatting. Make sure that the horizontal safety pins are set, so they can catch the bar and prevent you from injuring yourself.

Proper squat form is simple and straightforward, but people tend to over complicate this move. Here’s how to perform a squat properly:

  1. Facing forward, grab the bar tightly using a medium grip.
  2. Dip under the bar to place it gently on your upper back. Lift your chest.
  3. Move your feet underneath the bar, and straighten your legs to un-rack the bar.
  4. With your legs straight, step back while locking your knees and hips.
  5. Inhale, and squat down. Move your hips back while pushing your knees outward. Keep your lower back in a neutral position.
  6. Continue squatting down until your hips are below your knees – don’t stop when your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  7. Exhale while squatting back up. Keep your chest up, your knees out, and your knees and hips locked.

Squats are simple, but you need to break parallel and make sure that your body is properly aligned if you want to avoid injury.

Form Tips

  • Always push your knees out to the side and in the direction of your feet. Keep your knees locked at the top of each rep.
  • Stance is important. When squatting, your heels should be under your shoulders (shoulder-width apart).
  • Keep your feet turned out at a 30° angle, and your entire foot flat on the floor. Never raise your heels or toes.
  • Make sure that your lower back is in a neutral position, maintaining the natural arch you have when standing. Never round out or excessively arch your back.
  • When holding the bar, you should use a medium grip. Keep your hands outside of your shoulders.
  • Squeeze the bar when squatting, but don’t use your hands to support the heavy weight. The upper back should be carrying the bar.
  • If you’re squatting with a low bar, keep it positioned between your rear shoulders and traps. For a high bar, position the bar on your traps.
  • Before you un-rack the bar, raise your chest and keep it up before you squat down.
  • From start to finish, keep your head in line with your torso. Don’t look off to the side, up at the ceiling, or down at the floor.
  • When squatting down, bend your knees and your hips at the same time. Keep your hips back and your knees out.
  • When squatting back up, keep your knees out and push your hips straight up. Keep your chest up and your head a neutral position.

Squatting is a powerful exercise that will work all major muscle groups – if you use the proper form. Use these tips to master your form and get the most out of each and every squat session.

Injury

How to Safely Train While Recovering from an Injury

If you find yourself on the bench after suffering an injury, you don’t have to necessarily wait on the sidelines until you’re fully recovered. Many runners turn to cross-training as a way to continue training while still recovering from a recent injury. Which activities are best? Let’s weigh the options.

Injury

Cross Trainer

Sometimes referred to as an elliptical trainer, a cross trainer is on par with the treadmill as far as fitness gains go. However, the movement is altogether different, which will impact its effectiveness.

Elliptical workouts are low impact, but they do require you to bend your ankles, knees and hips more. Some experts say that this can be detrimental if you’re nursing an injury, a knee injury specifically. Others say that activating your major calf muscles may help with achilles problems or calf injuries.

Cross trainers still offer a great workout, allowing you to burn 318 calories per hour at a moderate pace.

Cycling

Cycling is a great complementary activity for runners, so this is a natural choice when recovering from an injury. Studies show that interval training on a bike can improve a runner’s 5km time by 30 seconds in a little over a month.

The quadriceps are responsible for about 39% of the total work performed when cycling, but your calves and hips play a big role, too. Experts recommend using cycling as a form of training when you’re recovering from achilles tendon problems and knee ligament issues.

Calorie expenditure varies greatly depending on how quickly the cycle. At 12 mph, cycling will burn about 509 calories per hour. Pushing the pace to 18 mph will allow you to burn 763 calories per hour.

The Stepper

The stepper is another low-impact activity that mimics the action of running. As far as fitness gains go, the stepper is similar to the elliptical trainer.

When using the machine, you’ll rely heavily on your quadriceps muscles, calves and glutes. Hip flexion is greater than the elliptical or treadmill, so this activity may not be the best option for someone with a hip injury. Experts recommend stairclimbing as an alternative to cycling for those who are recovering from ACL injuries.

The stepper will help you burn about 382 calories per hour at a moderate pace.

Swimming

Swimming offers some unique advantages over the other activities on our list. The position of your body is different (horizontal vs. vertical), but your weight will also be supported by the water when you’re swimming. This takes some of the stress off the injured soft tissue and joints.

Swimming can be heavy on the shoulders, back and arms, which makes it a great option for people recovering from leg injuries. The breast stroke, on the other hand, requires more effort from the lower body, which makes it a poor choice for knee injuries.

The amount of calories you burn while swimming will vary greatly depending on how much effort you put into the workout. Crawl laps at a moderate pace can burn up to 623 calories an hour. Slower strokes and a slower pace may only burn 445 calories per hour.

If you recovering from an injury, it’s important to choose an activity that will allow you to continue training without further injuring yourself. If you have a leg injury, it may be best to focus on activities that work the upper body, such as swimming. However, for calf and ACL injuries, a cross trainer, cycling and other similar activities are great options.

bench-press-featured

The 4 Most Common Bench Press Variations

There’s only one way to do a bench press – right? Wrong. This classic exercise is probably already in your workout routine, but what you may not know is that there are several different variations that you can incorporate into your regimen to boost your results and work different muscles. Some common bench press variations include:
bench press

1. Inclined Bench Press

As you may have guessed, the inclined bench press is performed on an incline bench. Make sure the bench is at a 45° angle, and lie down with your feet flat on the floor. With a medium grip, grab the bar and un-rack it with straight arms. Lower the bar to your chest, and then press it back up to your shoulders. Make sure that your lower back is in a neutral position.

If you can’t press the weight, try performing this move in the power rack to avoid injuries.

2. Close Grip Bench Press

The close grip bench press is simply a bench press with a narrower grip. The setup is the same, but you’ll grip the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart instead. At the top, your hands should be above your shoulders. At the bottom, your hands should be near your torso.

Avoid using too narrow of a grip, as this will put more stress on your wrists and put you off balance.

Bench pressing with a closer grip is more difficult than using a medium grip, so keep this in mind before you give it a try.

3. Decline Bench Press

The decline bench press is, essentially, the opposite of the incline bench press. In this case, you’ll be laying down with your hips higher than your head. You’ll need to perform this move with leg attachments, so you don’t slide around the bench.

The move is the same as any other bench press: un-rack the weight, lower it down to your chest, and press it back up to the starting point.

Most fitness experts agree that this bench press is a waste of your time. It doesn’t target any specific part of your chest because it’s impossible to do so. If you’re looking for gains, you’re better off working on your standard bench press.

4. Dumbbell Bench Press

As its name suggests, dumbbell bench presses use dumbbells in place of a bar.

Start with the dumbbells on the floor, and sit at the end of the bench. Pick up the dumbbells while standing up, stopping when the weight reaches your thighs. Sit down again while keeping the dumbbells on your thighs and close to your chest. Keep your elbows tucked at 75 degrees.

Lie down, and press the weights. Keep the dumbbells balanced properly over your shoulders, and your arms straight.

Benching with dumbbells isn’t necessarily the better option, and you typically can’t bench heavier than you would with barbells. But if you’re just getting started, this may be a better option until you can master the proper benching form.

Although there are variations, nothing beats the effects of the classic bench press move. But if you’re looking for variety, these moves can reinvigorate your routine.

Mustache

Movember for Charity

Movember isn’t just a pun for November. This is a serious event that millions of people partake in every year, and our team of personal trainers are happy to announce that we are taking part in the Movember for charity.

Mustache

 

What is the World is Movember?

Movember is all about spreading the word about some of the issues that men face each and every day around the world:

And there’s so much more that the Movember movement supports, too. The Movember Foundation tries to foster and facilitate collaboration, understand, promote and advocate for men’s health, build evidence on what works and doesn’t work, invest in clinical research and finally mobilize men around the world to take part in spreading the word about men’s health.

When you see men around the world start growing mustaches during November, now you know why.

Why We Joined the Movement

We’re going to be honest with you – we didn’t know much about Movember initially. We definitely saw men walking around with mustaches, but as a group, we didn’t understand what this was all about. Why are men growing mustaches? What does it mean? Is this a fad?

As we began to research, we realized that there are a growing number of men, especially young men, that do not take their own health seriously.

While cancer and mental health are definitely more of a medical issue, we do know that physical inactivity is a growing problem – we see it in our clients every day. Being personal trainers, we know that being inactive can cause in myriad of different problems, and we want to do our part with helping the Movember movement educate and eliminate physical inactivity in men around the world.

Through our personal training, this is the perfect fit for us as we already promote a healthy lifestyle, and want to further educate men of problems that they may face in the future with their health.

And we’ve done such a good job that BeGoneHairRemoval has decided to be our sponsor for the event. We’ll be able to promote Movember through the sponsorship, and help educate even more men about potential health issues.