BarBend https://barbend.com The Online Home for Strength Sports Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:30:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 Check Out “Dear Brian”, a Moving Special Olympics Powerlifting Documentary https://barbend.com/documentary-brian-beirne/ https://barbend.com/documentary-brian-beirne/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 19:30:25 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=27030 In roughly five months, the Special Olympics USA Games will kick off in Seattle, Washington. This year’s Games are set to take place from July 1st-6th. Every year, the Special Olympics USA Games bring out thousands of athletes from every state across the nation to compete in a lineup of 14 individual and team sports. […]

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In roughly five months, the Special Olympics USA Games will kick off in Seattle, Washington. This year’s Games are set to take place from July 1st-6th. Every year, the Special Olympics USA Games bring out thousands of athletes from every state across the nation to compete in a lineup of 14 individual and team sports.

One of the sports included in the Special Olympics USA Games lineup is powerlifting, which is what brings us to the focus of this article. The recently produced documentary titled “Dear Brian” by Red Leaf Film & Upland Film Co. highlights the journey of New Jersey powerlifting athlete Brian Beirne.

“I’m a powerlifter. I know that I’m strong, but you know, you always have to look at yourself like you’re weak. After you hit a PR in a meet or something, maybe for a week you’re like, ‘yeah I’m pretty strong’, but a week later you’re back to it. Oh, I need to get bigger, I need to get better.” – Brian Beirne.

The documentary below follows Beirne through his day-to-day life and talks about his journey and growth as a powerlifting athlete at War Horse Barbell. Growing up, Beirne went through a traumatic experience that would change his life forever. When Beirne was younger, he underwent a tonsillectomy (a typically standard surgery for many young people) and experienced a hemorrhage later that night when he was home.

“It changed everything, the analogy I use is like a pebble hitting a pond. The waves that kind of emanate for years and years. When you think you want to move your fingers, your brain says move and they move, but all the connections were pretty much gone,” Jay Beirne says in the opening minutes of the documentary.

His father talks about how he spent years in physical therapy working to build back the basic connections needed for everyday movement, and he believes this is what sparked Brian’s love for powerlifting. In addition, the Special Olympics were another major bridge that connected Brian to a community that has since given him a greater purpose.

“He doesn’t quit, he doesn’t complain, he just puts his head down and he does the work. He’s an extraordinary young man and I’m really proud.” – Jay Beirne

If you have time, we recommend checking out the 7-minute documentary above. Beirne is not only motivating, but a true reminder of how strength sports can provide life with a bigger purpose and create community.

Feature image screenshot from Upland Film Co. Vimeo channel.

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Kimberly Walford Deadlifts a Huge 250kg, Seven Kilos Over Her World Record https://barbend.com/kimberly-walford-250kg-deadlift/ https://barbend.com/kimberly-walford-250kg-deadlift/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 18:30:13 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=27033 Thirty-nine-year-old powerlifter Kimberly Walford made a deadlift this weekend that exceeded her IPF raw world record by seven kilograms (15.4 pounds). That record is held in the -72kg weight class and while it’s not totally clear how much she weighs right now, this is nonetheless an extraordinary lift with some very extraordinary hype. This clip […]

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Thirty-nine-year-old powerlifter Kimberly Walford made a deadlift this weekend that exceeded her IPF raw world record by seven kilograms (15.4 pounds). That record is held in the -72kg weight class and while it’s not totally clear how much she weighs right now, this is nonetheless an extraordinary lift with some very extraordinary hype. This clip is worth watching before you try your next max deadlift.

A post shared by Kimberly Walford (@trackfu) on

Who wouldn’t PR with Ray Williams cheering them on like that?

Swedish world record holder Isabella Von Weissenberg popped into the comments section to say, “Incredible job Kim 😍 you’re unlimited!” to which Walford replied, “thank you Sis, I’m excited for the possibilities.”

The lift was made at a meet hosted by Walford and IPF world record holder Ray Williams called the Kim & Ray Speed Power Strength Invitational 2018, held at Speed Power Strength Gym in Oakland, California. Walford and Williams weren’t competing and lifted after the meet was over.

A post shared by Speed Power Strength (@spsgym) on

Walford holds two IPF deadlift world records in the -63kg class (221kg/487.2lb) and the -72kg class (243kg/535.7lb) as well as the -72kg world record total (540kg/1,190.5lb).

[Walford and 9 other athletes shared the reasons they started powerlifting in this eye-opening article.]

 She posted with her lift,

The Speed Power Strength crew put on amazing meet. Ray and I lifted after the meet. It felt great to pay homage to all the people who attended the meet. Thank you guys for coming , supporting, and being a part of the powerlifting family!!

At the same meet, Williams himself made a squat of 467 kilograms (1,030 pounds), a weight that’s almost 98 percent of his world record 477.5kg (1,053lb) lift from last year’s Arnold Classic. Watch his latest lift below.

[Williams took 1,003 pounds for a double just last week — read the article to hear him discuss in detail the reasons behind his squat depth.]

We’re certainly hoping the Kim & Ray Speed Power Strength Invitational becomes a regular event.

Featured image via @trackfu on Instagram.

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James Strickland Benches a Monstrous Raw 672 lb (305kg) Competition PR https://barbend.com/james-strickland-672lb-raw-bench/ https://barbend.com/james-strickland-672lb-raw-bench/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 15:38:00 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=27024 Over the weekend, powerlifter James Strickland competed in The IPA No Excuses Texas State Open, which was hosted in Kindwood, Texas. He weighed in at a light 293 lbs and had the goal of making a run at the 308 lb weight class all-time raw bench press world record. After opening with a strong and fast […]

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Over the weekend, powerlifter James Strickland competed in The IPA No Excuses Texas State Open, which was hosted in Kindwood, Texas. He weighed in at a light 293 lbs and had the goal of making a run at the 308 lb weight class all-time raw bench press world record.

After opening with a strong and fast 628 lb (285kg) first attempt, he called for 672 lbs (305kg) on his second. He crushed this lift, then called for 702 lbs (319kg) on the bar, which would have awarded him the all-time bench press world record and would top the current 701 lb (318kg) held by Scot Mendelson from 2002.

Strickland’s coach John Bryant of Jailhouse Strong wrote in his video’s description above, “672!! Competition PR for @swimhack !! Legit attempt at ATWR made!! Very proud of this man!!!”

In addition to his coach praising this insane feat of strength, Mark Bell’s Sling Shot Instagram wrote in their video description, “672 POUNDS! Someone write that man a speeding ticket. Competed at 308 weighing in at 293 lbs and took a crack at 702 lbs, which would be an ALL TIME WORLD RECORD, for a miss. This is just the beginning for @swimhack. He’s got that ATWR running on fumes and that is gonna be a light snacc when he’s done!”

Strickland is no stranger to world record attempts and strong competition benches. In fact, he also took a run at the 275 lb all-time world record back in July 2017 at the Alabama APA Raw War III powerlifting meet.

At this meet, Strickland weighed in at a light 266 lbs, and hit a 661 lb (300kg) bench on his third attempt before taking a run at the all-time world record with a granted 677 lb (307kg) fourth world record attempt.

A post shared by James Strickland (@swimhack) on

This lift above would have topped Jeremy Hoornstra’s 2014 all-time world record 675lb (306kg) bench press.

As many have pointed out in the powerlifting community, it’s just a matter of time until Strickland finds himself with one of the all-time world record benches, but which will it be?

Feature image screenshot from @jailhousestrong Instagram page. 

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Butterfly Pull-Ups vs Regular Pull-Ups – Which One Should You Be Doing? https://barbend.com/butterfly-pull-ups-vs-regular/ https://barbend.com/butterfly-pull-ups-vs-regular/#respond Mon, 19 Feb 2018 14:00:50 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=27007 In this article we will discuss two pull-up variations (the butterfly pull-up vs the regular pull-up) to determine which one is best for overall strength, muscle development, and gymnastic and functional fitness performance. In the below sections we will briefly discuss each exercise and offer a complete breakdown of training variables coaches and athletes should […]

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In this article we will discuss two pull-up variations (the butterfly pull-up vs the regular pull-up) to determine which one is best for overall strength, muscle development, and gymnastic and functional fitness performance. In the below sections we will briefly discuss each exercise and offer a complete breakdown of training variables coaches and athletes should consider when determine which movement is best for their goals.

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Butterfly Pull-Ups

In the below video the butterfly pull-up is demonstrated. Note, that lifters should be able to perform standard kipping pull-ups and regular strict pull-ups before performing this exercise for high amounts of repetitions (volume).

Regular Pull-Ups

In the below video the regular strict pull-up is demonstrated. This can be done in a wide variety of grip widths and can be done with additional weight to increase strength and muscle hypertrophy.

Butterfly Pull-Ups vs Regular Pull-Ups

In the below section we discuss five training variables coaches and athletes should consider when determining which movement (regular or butterfly pull-up) is best for their program.

Strength and Muscle Hypertrophy

The regular pull-up offers the most direct way to increase strength and muscle development in the back. White butterfly pull-ups can induce some muscular damage due to the eccentric phases and overall training volumes, the regular pull-up forces a lifter to build concentric strength, increases time under tension, and ensures force development throughout the entire range of motion (rather than relying on momentum). To best build a stronger, more muscular back, lifters should focus on regular pull-ups (and add weight once they can perform 10 or more strict repetitions), mixing in butterfly pull-ups if their goals also coincide with any of the sections below.

Gymnastic Skills

Both pull-up variations are necessary for overall development for gymnastics, as they both rescue strength, muscle control, body awareness, mobility, and general athleticism. Movements like kipping on rings, muscle-ups, and bodyweight calisthenics make both the regular and butterfly pull-ups valuable movements to be developed for all gymnastics and bodyweight training athletes.

CrossFit® WODs and Performance

Both movements are necessary for overall performance in competitive fitness workouts and training. The regular pull-up can increase muscle size, strength, and movement abilities necessary for more advanced gymnastic movements, deadlifts, and pulling exercises. The butterfly pull-up is an exercise often found in most competitive workouts which enables a lifter to be more energy and time efficient with their pull-ups in order to increase exercise outputs and performance.

A post shared by Kati Breazeal (@katibreazeal) on

Injury Risks

In an earlier article we discussed the injury risks of kipping pull-ups vs strict, regular pull-ups. The conclusion was that when done in a proper manner (thoughtful progressions, programming, and monitoring volume), the kipping pull-up can be a safe movement for most lifters who have no predispositions to shoulder injuries. Like most ballistic exercises, the kipping pull-up, including the butterfly pull-up, does offer some increased risk of injury due to the higher amounts of force being absorbed (due to increased speeds) on the muscle and connective tissues. The ability to perform more total repetitions due to the usage of moment may also contribute to more muscle damage and overuse injuries if not properly programmed and monitored.

Degree of Difficulty

Butterfly pull-ups require a great amount of timing, body control, and skipping skill when compared to regular pull-ups. When looking at which variation beginners should master first, undoublety it is the regular pull-up as it lays the foundation of strength, joint mechanics, and body awareness for needed for more advanced variations of pull-ups. In the progressions of pull-ups, the butterfly pull-up is near the end, which suggests a lifter must be able to perform strict pull-ups, kipping pull-ups, and chest to bar pull-ups prior to mastering the butterfly pull-ups variation.

Build a Better Pull-Up

Take a look below at some of these exercise guides and articles and learn how to build a stronger back, improve pull-up performance, and more.

Featured Image: @whitneykono on Instagram

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These Are 32 Things Strong Women Do Not Want to Hear On Dates https://barbend.com/strong-women-dates-opinion/ https://barbend.com/strong-women-dates-opinion/#respond Sun, 18 Feb 2018 20:42:29 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=26989 Let’s set the scene. You have a date coming up with a super cool lady, and you find out soon after she’s really into lifting. Now you’re no stranger to the gym, but you’re not heavily involved in strength sports such as powerlifting, weightlifting, CrossFit, strongman, or bodybuilding, which she is, so you begin to […]

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Let’s set the scene.

You have a date coming up with a super cool lady, and you find out soon after she’s really into lifting. Now you’re no stranger to the gym, but you’re not heavily involved in strength sports such as powerlifting, weightlifting, CrossFit, strongman, or bodybuilding, which she is, so you begin to wonder, “Is there anything I should avoid saying on our date?”.

For context, we recently wrote about the seven things not to say to 2-Time CrossFit Games Champion Katrin Davidsdottir on a date, which is what inspired this article. Her video got us thinking, what else shouldn’t you say to female strength athletes on a date?

We reached out to athletes in multiple strength sports, and here’s what they had to say.

A post shared by Kristen Dunsmore (@kriis_d) on

Daniella Melo – Powerlifter

“I wouldn’t date a girl who’s stronger than me.”

Tiffany Nguyen – Powerlifter

“What makes you want to be strong?”

“You don’t think you’re more masculine than other women?”

“Why would you want to lift that much weight?”

A post shared by Tiffany Nguyen (@liftliketiff) on

Sheri Miles – Powerlifter

“I wear gloves in the gym to keep my hands soft.”

“Can I try some of your food? Let’s share dessert.”

Stefi Cohen – Powerlifter/Weightlifter

“Wow you eat a lot.”

“You’re pretty muscular, for a girl.”

“You do powerlifting, isn’t that a men’s sport?”

Jordan Weichers – Weightlifter

“Those jeans make you look skinny.”

“Are you going to eat ALL of that?”

“Flex for me. We need to see who has bigger biceps.”

Amber Abweh – Powerlifter

“Do you ever arm wrestle?”

“So do you eat a lot of protein?”

Alex Silver-Fagan – Strength Coach

“Aren’t you afraid of getting bulky?”

Aysha Haley – Powerlifter

“So can you like deadlift me?”

“How many inches around are your thighs?”

A post shared by Aysha Haley (@ayshahaleyy_) on

[Read: Female powerlifters share the weirdest comments guys say to them!] 

Meghan Scanlon – Powerlifter

“How much do you lift? Okay, and how much do you weigh?”

“In high school I squatted 400 lbs.”

Sarah Brenner – Powerlifter

“I bet you could lift me.”

Kristen Dunsmore – Powerlifter

“Are you going to eat all of that?”

Maddy Forberg – Powerlifter

“Shouldn’t you be watching what you eat?”

“Do you think your legs could crush me?”

“Are you really going to eat all of that?”

Stacia-Al Mahoe – Powerlifter/Weightlifter

“You have rough hands.”

“Aren’t you afraid you’ll look like a man.”

“Your traps are too big.”

Bonica Brown – Powerlifter

“Why do you like to lift so heavy?”

“Can you help me with my squat technique? Maybe a program?”

Emily Hu – Powerlifter

“Wow your arms are big! Wanna arm wrestle?”

Chelsea Potter – Strength Coach

“Oh you wouldn’t like that, it’s not healthy.”

A post shared by Chelsea Potter 🇺🇸 (@cheslap) on

Wrapping Up

To be honest, some of the above quotes should come as a no brainer, but for someone not involved in strength sports, it may not be so obvious. Advice going forward: if you find yourself on a date with a woman who’s involved in strength sports, then think about what you say and how it could be taken before doing so.

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

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Harrison Maurus Becomes Youngest American to Clean & Jerk 200kg https://barbend.com/harrison-maurus-clean-jerk-200kg/ https://barbend.com/harrison-maurus-clean-jerk-200kg/#respond Sun, 18 Feb 2018 19:16:55 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=27004 Last night in Spokane, Washington, 17-year-old American weightlifter Harrison Maurus etched his name in the history books at the USA Weightlifting 2018 National Junior Championships. On Maurus’ second attempt he called for 200kg on the bar, which would would not only earn him the 85kg Junior American clean & jerk record, but would also make […]

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Last night in Spokane, Washington, 17-year-old American weightlifter Harrison Maurus etched his name in the history books at the USA Weightlifting 2018 National Junior Championships.

On Maurus’ second attempt he called for 200kg on the bar, which would would not only earn him the 85kg Junior American clean & jerk record, but would also make him the youngest American weightlifter to ever complete this monstrous feat in competition.

In USA Weightlifting’s video below they write in the description, “@harrison_maurus sets a new JUNIOR AMERICAN RECORD with a 200kg Clean and Jerk in the 85kg weight category at #18NJC!! The record was previously set by Kendrick Farris at 198kg in 2006. He also sweeps gold.”

In addition to Maurus’ record breaking clean & jerk, he also put up impressive snatch numbers. His opening attempt of 145kg sealed gold on the day, then he went on to complete a second attempt at 151kg, but missed his third attempt at 156kg.

Check out Maurus’ 151kg snatch video below where USA Weightlifting writes, “Harrison Maurus secures GOLD with his opening snatch of 145kg in the 85kg weight category, but his second attempt of 151kg is his best, putting him 16kg ahead of 2nd place at #18NJC!”

To wrap up his impressive day, Maurus finished with a 351kg total, which was only 2kg shy from breaking Kendrick Farris’ 353kg Junior American record set in 2006.

For this competition, Maurus moved up a weight class from 77kg to 85kg. The weightlifting world wasn’t worried that he’d continue to be a stellar athlete, but there was some speculation about what kind of numbers he’d put up, as the World Championships were only about three months ago.

With this last performance Maurus proves once again just how good he is. He not only swept gold, but he sealed a Junior American Record in the process.

Feature image screenshot from @usa_weightlifting Instagram page. 

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The 7 Fittest Presidents of All Time https://barbend.com/fittest-presidents/ https://barbend.com/fittest-presidents/#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 18:31:22 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=26964 When looking through the history of our nation’s leaders, many people overlook the fact that U.S. presidents tend to be remarkably fit individuals. Maybe it’s because most of them served in the military, maybe it’s because fitness and discipline go hand in hand, maybe it’s because Americans tend to admire rakish adventurers and restless athletes, […]

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When looking through the history of our nation’s leaders, many people overlook the fact that U.S. presidents tend to be remarkably fit individuals. Maybe it’s because most of them served in the military, maybe it’s because fitness and discipline go hand in hand, maybe it’s because Americans tend to admire rakish adventurers and restless athletes, but for whatever the reason we like our presidents looking like they’re in command of their bodies. Most of the time, anyway. (Sorry, Taft.)

We’ll probably never know the max deadlift of presidents past and present, but it does look like dedicated fitness regimes often comprise part of their success. This list is naturally limited by a lack of reliable information regarding earlier Commanders-in-chief and the fact that few presidents spent time discussing their workouts in interviews. That said, we think we’ve landed on a pretty solid group of notably athletic heads of state.

Theodore Roosevelt (served 1901-1909)

This list isn’t ranking from most to least fit — there are too many variables — but it’s hard to name a president better known for his physicality than Theodore Roosevelt, the man’s man’s man of presidents. He was a cattle rancher, a police commissioner, a Secretary of the Navy, and a war hero.

While he was president he earned America’s first brown belt in judo, trained jiu jitsu to lose weight prior to an election, and went virtually blind in one eye during a boxing match. And, allegedly in response to army cavalrymen’s complaints that they had to ride 25 miles a day on horseback during training, Roosevelt once rode horseback for 100 miles, from sunrise to sunset, at 51 years old.

When he died at 60, Woodrow Wilson’s vice president Thomas R. Marshall said, “Death had to take him sleeping, for if Roosevelt had been awake there would have been a fight.”

Abraham Lincoln (served 1861-1865)

When you’re reaching this far back in history it becomes awfully hard to separate fact from fiction when it comes to tales of physical prowess. With that caveat, there are a lot of stories about the physical strength of Lincoln, who at one time worked splitting logs to make split-rail fences.

In addition to his skill with an ax, the 6’4” Lincoln often got into public wrestling matches in his youth and almost always emerged victorious. (An 1831 match with one Jack Armstrong is heavily disputed, though most accounts name Lincoln the victor.) Plus, in addition to having once (allegedly) lifted a forty-four gallon barrel of whiskey for a drink, there are multiple stories of him picking up and hurling aggressive townsmen through the air — sometimes when campaigning. One bystander swore he saw Lincoln threw a guy twelve feet.

Oh, and as a lawyer he once accepted a challenge to duel with politician James Shields and decided they’d battle with broadswords. Right before the duel was meant to start, Lincoln sliced through a branch above Shields’ head to show him he meant business, but the duel’s overseers managed to convince them not to go through with the fight. Would have made a hell of a story, though.

Gerald Ford (served 1974-1977)

Ford — who was never actually elected, but became VP when Spiro Agnew resigned and president when Nixon resigned — played center and linebacker during two undefeated national championship football seasons at the University of Michigan and was offered to play pro football with the Packers and the Lions. He opted to go to law school instead.

Twenty-five years after a particularly tough game in his senior year, Ford said that, “in the rough-and-tumble world of politics, I often thought of the experiences before, during, and after that game in 1934. Remembering them has helped me many times to face a tough situation, take action, and make every effort possible despite adverse odds.”

He’s also the man credited with installing the White House pool, which he used regularly.

Ronald Reagan (served 1981-1989)

The man who served during the age of aerobics and jogging wrote an article for Parade magazine during his first term in office in which he called himself “a great believer in exercise, not only for reasons of fitness but also sheer pleasure.” He described a love of good old fashioned American wood chopping and horseback riding along with swimming — he rescued 77 people as a teenage lifeguard — and a weights routine that includes “bench presses, leg lifts and the like.”

He emphasized the need to exercise every muscle in the body and noted that he gained five pounds of (mostly) muscle since entering the White House. “The trick to keeping the exercises brief but effective,” he says, “is to increase the weights rather than the repetitions.” Words to lift by.

Herbert Hoover (served 1929-1933)

Hoover, or more accurately the White House physician Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone, invented his own sport that would probably earn a seal of approval from functional fitness athletes. Called Hoover ball, it involved throwing a weighted medicine ball over a net, a little like volleyball with more oomph.

He played with his cabinet so often they were nicknamed the “Medicine Ball Cabinet” and as an activity that’s seriously good for rotational and lateral strength, it’s a favorite of Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison.

George W. Bush (served 2001-2009)

Running was W’s workout of choice. He famously completed the Houston Marathon with a remarkable time of 3:44:52 at age 46, and secret service agent described him as “not a jogger but an honest-to-God runner.”

Bush usually ran three miles a day, six days a week and he even had a treadmill on Air Force One to keep his habit up. He told Runner’s World that when he wasn’t running, he’d be lifting weights or using the elliptical. Our favorite quotes from the interview:

“There’s never a question in my mind that I’ll exercise (…) First, it helps me sleep at night. Second, it keeps me disciplined. Running also breaks up my day and allows me to recharge my batteries. Running also enables me to set goals and push myself toward those goals. In essence, it keeps me young. A good run adds a little bounce to my step. I get a certain amount of self-esteem from it. Plus, I just look and feel better.”

Barack Obama (served 2009-2017)

The Obamas are well known for their physical fitness. We’ve mentioned before that the man’s 200-pound bench is pretty remarkable for a guy who was in his 50s and navigating the most stressful job on the planet, and he even made time to work out the day after he was first elected. Because the iron never sleeps.

During his time in office he told Men’s Health that he works out forty-five minutes per day, six days per week, alternating between cardio and weights. “The main reason I do it is just to clear my head and relieve me of stress,” he said.

While he’s famous for his love of basketball, a leaked video gave some insight into his weights routine in 2014, which showed a solid workout involving dumbbell military presses, weighted step-ups, and bent-over rear delt flyes. It’s nice to know we had a commander-in-chief who understood the importance of scap health.

[We named Obama one of 10 celebrities who have no business being so strong. Check out the rest of the list, which has more than one politician.]

A post shared by Battulga Khaltmaa (@battulgakh) on

Honorable Mention

Khaltmaagiin Battulga, President of Mongolia (right)

Hey, the article title doesn’t say United States presidents, and while few Americans will be thinking of Battulga on President’s Day, we couldn’t resist mentioning the man who might currently be the most jacked head of state.

Battulga rose to fame as a wrestler, winning the world cup of traditional Mongolian wrestling in 1989 and going on to serve as the Chairman of the Mongolian Judo federation, when he helped bring Mongolian judokas to the Olympics for the first time.

In addition to running the world’s most sparsely populated sovereign nation, he likes to post clips of himself working out which include low-ROM shoulder presses (80kg for 30 reps), sumo wrestling matches, and what he claims is a 20-rep set of 840kg leg presses.

A post shared by Battulga Khaltmaa (@battulgakh) on

While there’s a distinct lack of historical evidence of leg pressing, we’re still seriously impressed by the fitness legacy of the U.S. presidential office. Let’s hope it continues.

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5 Essential Tips for an Aspiring Young Bodybuilder https://barbend.com/advice-young-bodybuilders/ https://barbend.com/advice-young-bodybuilders/#respond Sat, 17 Feb 2018 14:59:41 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=26948 I am so grateful for the people I knew at the start of my bodybuilding career. They gave me words of advice that prevented me from making huge mistakes that could have jeopardized my future in bodybuilding. That advice helped me get my pro card and go all the way to the biggest stage you […]

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I am so grateful for the people I knew at the start of my bodybuilding career. They gave me words of advice that prevented me from making huge mistakes that could have jeopardized my future in bodybuilding. That advice helped me get my pro card and go all the way to the biggest stage you can step on in the sport: the Mr. Olympia stage.

In this article, I will try to give back and share my best pieces of advice for the young, aspiring bodybuilder who is just starting his journey.

The author. Photo courtesy of Amit Sapir.

1) More Is Not Better

Especially when starting out in the sport, when it comes to food, supplements, and “supplements,” more in most cases is not better.

Think about it like this: the better results you can get with minimal outside help, the more weapons you will have for the future when you really need them. Eat just enough to gain lean muscle and not to gain fat. The leaner you stay in your off season, the better. Do not go over 10-11% body fat, it will hinder your ability to gain new lean muscle mass. Staying lean will help with insulin sensitivity, general health, and will keep you disciplined and focused on making the right food choices to help you grow.

Take the minimum amount of supplements you need to grow. Do that and you will be one step ahead of everyone else at all times, as you will always have a new card to pull from up your sleeve. If you use super high calories, super high doses, and every supplement under the sun in the first few years, what will you add when will you actually need it?

Your body is the best machine you will ever have, trust it and do the work!

[Read more about how the author maintains his strength while cutting weight here.]

2) Get Strong While You’re Still Young

Get strong in the big compound movements and do them as often as training allows.

I cannot put into words how much I miss the days when my body allowed me to squat almost daily, to deadlift three times a week, and to bench or overhead press every day and still get bigger and stronger.

Those years created the base of my physique. My ability to train hard daily and the strength gains I got are still serving me till this day. When you are young and fresh, your body’s ability to recover quickly is nothing short of remarkable. If I only had the knowledge I have today with the physical abilities I had from 18 to 28 I’d have been invincible. I got better and stronger by the week and injuries were just something that couldn’t happen to me. I miss that resilience.

Take advantage of being young and push as hard as you can, don’t waste time on anything that is not challenging you. In this period of your life, the amount of hard work you will put in your training will determine your potential to be great down the road.

Image courtesy Amit Sapir.

3) Have One Big Goal and Many Smaller Ones Along the Way

I knew the day I started bodybuilding that I would be on the Olympia stage. It was my only goal. I said that to anyone who was willing to listen (and also to the ones who were not so willing).

I can’t even count the number of times I heard the following:

“You are delusional.”
“You’re 5’4″, that’s too short.”
You don’t have the genetics”.
“You will ruin your health.”
“You won’t be able to have kids.”

By the way, I have two amazing young boys, and I am healthy as a horse.

Every time I had the same response: “Watch me.”

Proving those people wrong was one of my more significant motivators during my career.

A post shared by Kai Greene (@kaigreene) on

However, you will only get to your Grand Goal if you focus on the boring, unexciting daily grind. All those workouts I did when everyone else was partying, the cardio I did in the rain for months, working with my clients and trying to smile to them while I am starving and cranky from the diet. Every single one of those was a little goal and a small win that I got daily.

Winning those minimal and attainable goals helped me to attain the mindset that no matter what goal I decide to put my mind and body through, I will achieve it. The way to make it work is to put a specific time frame on every goal and to ask someone you trust to hold you accountable to this time frame and goal.

For example: “In the next six weeks I will lose 2% body fat.” Or, “In two months, I will get 12 reps with a 405-pound squat.” Repeat and internalize these goals so that you’ll be motivated to get out of bed and to get the job done even when the motivation is not always there.

Your yearly goals should be winning small shows. After you have your yearly goals in place, break them into the daily, weekly, and monthly steps that are needed for making this goal into reality. Then go for it with everything you have.

4) Accept That You’ll Experience Failure

“It is not about how hard you hit, it’s about how much you can take and keep moving forward.” There’s no truer cliché when it comes to the sport of bodybuilding.

I finished dead last in my second pro show. It was the most laborious prep I ever had, and I gave it every ounce of my soul. Getting the last call out was the probably only time in my career that I thought I should quit and find a real job. My loved ones talked me out of it, and I went back to the drawing board and worked even harder for my next show — where I qualified for Mr. Olympia, the top of the world in bodybuilding standards.

I remember thinking that was God’s way of testing me to see how much I wanted it. You cannot knock down the person who keeps getting up, and if you want a real chance in this sport, you will need to learn to have the capacity to crash and rise. As long as you are ok with it, then your dream will stay alive. Failure does not mean the end. Quitting does.

5) Keep Your Day Job

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

When you aim for a goal that is big and difficult to achieve, that also means that you are exposing yourself to a chance that things can go sideways. In a sport where money is not significant and there’s a lot of health risks, it would be wise to have a safety net.

I’ve seen people risking and losing every dollar they have and ending up in the hospital with no money to pay for the doctor bill. Dream big, but be smart, and take into consideration the worst case scenario.

A post shared by Marina Sergevna (@mkhr109) on

Final Words

Remember that no matter what, if you end up achieving your dream or not, life is more significant than a pro card or any victory. Have one day a week that is as unrelated to bodybuilding as humanly possible. Spend time with your loved ones. If possible, have a weekly cheat meal when you do not think about macros at all. Pick one day a week to get outside, stay far away from the gym, and do other fun stuff that you would never do on a training day. This day will be your mental and physical recharge day.

A few more final words: have an extensive health insurance, save as much money as you can (the better you get, the more expensive this sport becomes), treat your health with the same respect and attention you give your performance in the gym (that means blood tests every 8 weeks), and supplement for general health, not just your appearance.

And spend time with loved ones. Yes, I know I just said that, but read it again. Trust me, in the end, they are more important than any pro card or a victory.

Featured image via @schwarzenegger on Instagram.

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Cardio and Powerlifting: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly https://barbend.com/cardio-powerlifting/ https://barbend.com/cardio-powerlifting/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 23:22:14 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=26951 Cardio is a double-edged sword for powerlifters. On the one hand, cardio will help you to shed fat, will probably make you feel a bit better and healthier in your daily life, and might improve your work capacity. On the other hand, cardio will detract from your recovery. Spending energy on cardio means you will […]

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Cardio is a double-edged sword for powerlifters. On the one hand, cardio will help you to shed fat, will probably make you feel a bit better and healthier in your daily life, and might improve your work capacity. On the other hand, cardio will detract from your recovery. Spending energy on cardio means you will have less energy to spend on getting stronger, and there’s no way around that.

Your goal, then, should be to minimize the negative effects of cardio (decreased recovery) while maximizing the benefits. This article explains how to do that.

(Before we begin, I want to reiterate that this article is directed at powerlifters. Not everything in here will apply to other types of trainees!)

Should You Even Do Cardio?

Until I decided that I wanted to be an elite lifter, I did a lot of cardio: intervals on the Airdyne, Prowler pushes until I nearly passed out, hill sprints, even metcons. I enjoy challenging myself, and so that’s why all of my cardio workouts were high-intensity ones, and it’s also why my powerlifting total was pretty uninspiring. High-intensity cardio is so difficult to recover from that I was unable to do that and progress in the weight room, too. When I cut all that stuff out, I quickly added about 100 pounds to my powerlifting total.

If your only goal is to become as strong as you possibly can, then I think you’d be well-advised to avoid cardio entirely. Even if you need to make a certain weight class, it’s generally better to just be careful with your diet and learn how to cut water safely and effectively.

A post shared by Ben Pollack (@phdeadlift) on

But most people have goals that are a little broader than that. And, if you fall into that crowd, you probably already know that cardio can have a lot of benefits:

  • It can decrease delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). If you had a killer leg day yesterday, and can barely squat on the toilet in the morning, then a little cardio can help to get some blood flow through your legs and ease some of that discomfort.
  • It burns calories! Yes, changing your diet is usually a more time-efficient way of cutting calories, but cardio can help, especially in the later stages of fat loss.
  • It has a ton of benefits for general health. Studies show that regular cardiovascular activity can improve mood, decrease risk of heart disease, and more.

Okay, so that’s why you should do cardio. Now let’s move on to what.

The Best Types of Cardio for Powerlifting

You probably already know that heavy squats, bench presses, and deadlifts can take a toll on your joints. I’m not trying to lecture you about health risks, here; I’m being practical. If you’re one of the lucky ones who can train hard in the gym and get out of bed the next day without creaky knees and sore elbows, that’s fantastic. But most people can’t – and the idea of getting up early after a heavy squat workout to go out to the track and pound on your knees some more while you run intervals should be a non-starter, unless you fancy yourself to be the next Jujimufu.

[Here are three reasons why you should always perform cardio after lifting!]

A post shared by Jon Call (@jujimufu) on

Instead, you want to choose low-impact activities that won’t exacerbate any pre-existing injuries, and won’t set you up for new ones. Good choices include stationary cycling, stair stepping, walking, and swimming. Bad choices are things like running, kickboxing, and plyometrics. Pick-up sports are the absolute worst choice of cardio for the competitive powerlifter. You have a sport already, and if you want to get good at it, you shouldn’t expose yourself to the risk of serious injury messing around with another one.

If you’re not competitive, you’ll have to weigh the risk-reward ratio for yourself, but I still strongly recommend against using basketball, soccer, or anything else remotely competitive as a form of cardio. Chances are, someone out there is going to take the game more serious than you are.

So we’ve covered the why and what. Let’s move on to how.

How to Incorporate Cardio into Your Training Program

The theme here – as usual – small changes. It’s tempting to jump into the deep end on a new cardio program, but I strongly recommend you avoid that. You want to give your body time to adjust to a new stimulus as gradually as possible to minimize the impact it has on your strength training. We’re going to discuss the same three variables that you should put most of your focus on in the rest of your programming: intensity, volume, and frequency.

First, you need to consider intensity. I’ve already touched on how much my lifting suffered when I was doing a lot of high-intensity cardio, and I recommend that powerlifters avoid it completely. It’s helpful for many goals – conditioning for sports like football, wrestling, and CrossFit, for example – but the benefits it offers to a powerlifter, competitive or not, aren’t enough to warrant inclusion in a balanced program.

Low-intensity, steady-state cardio is, in my opinion, a much better option. LISS is your typical “cardio bunny” type of training: some type of steady activity that gets your heart rate elevated to about 60-80% of your max. At this level of intensity, you’re able to carry on a conversation without too much difficulty. You shouldn’t be phoning it in, though – if you’re able to text or browse Instagram during your cardio sessions, you’re probably not working hard enough.

Next, consider volume. Studies suggest that cardio sessions of over 20-30 minutes are going to create a somewhat significant training response – in other words, once you’re doing longer sessions, your cardio is going to eat into your recovery ability for lifting. Of course, sessions shorter than 15-20 minutes aren’t going to do much of anything for you, so you’re basically working with 15-30 minute sessions when all is said and done.

And, finally, throw frequency into the mix. Here’s where the small changes come in: you start with one session and work your way up according to your goals. I recommend beginning with one, 15-20 minute cardio session on one of your off days from training. If that’s not enough, add a second, and so on. If you’re already doing cardio on all of your off days, you can either bump the session length to 30 minutes, or you can add a session to one of your training days.

The best time to perform cardio is a subject that gets a lot of debate. There are some big proponents of fasted cardio, and others who claim that timing is irrelevant. For powerlifting, though, I think the really important thing to consider is that if you’re doing cardio on your weight training days, you should do it immediately after you finish lifting. That will give you the most time between workouts of any kind to devote to recovery.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong way to do cardio, so if you have a routine that works well for you and allows you to progress, stick with it! If you don’t have a routine, and you want to begin one, the suggestions in this article should help you to do that as efficiently and effectively as possible. And if you’re struggling with personal programming for cardio or lifting, then I’d suggest checking out my UYP video series to get a grasp of the basics, which can be found through the YouTube video above. Also, you can always check out the course I made if you need more help.

Well, I’m off to do some cardio…

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

Feature image from Ben Pollack YouTube channel. 

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How Much Is Enough? Finding Your Perfect Workout Frequency https://barbend.com/workout-frequency/ https://barbend.com/workout-frequency/#respond Fri, 16 Feb 2018 20:27:29 +0000 https://barbend.com/?p=26836 Before reading any further, I have a confession. The title above is a little misleading because the idea of “perfect” isn’t really achievable in strength sports and working out. Sure, we can find what’s best for us, but perfection is pretty tough to accomplish with multiple workout options, variables, and daily changes in our bodies. […]

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Before reading any further, I have a confession.

The title above is a little misleading because the idea of “perfect” isn’t really achievable in strength sports and working out. Sure, we can find what’s best for us, but perfection is pretty tough to accomplish with multiple workout options, variables, and daily changes in our bodies. So while we may not be able to find perfection, we can find what’s best for us by looking at a few different criteria, and for many athlete that can be “perfect”.

Workout frequency has been and will continue to a debated topic in strength sports. After all, is there one frequency that clearly works best for a majority of athletes? It’s tough to say when we account for other workout parameters like intensity, volume, and so forth. This article will explore the research behind frequency, factors that can influence frequency, and a few pillars you can assess when finding your ideal frequency.

A post shared by Hayden Bowe (@hayden.bowe) on

High Vs. Low Workout Frequency and the Research

There have been multiple studies looking at whether higher versus lower frequency reigns as triumphant for optimal gains. They’ve suggested that both have benefit, but without a definitive winner. This is why this topic is highly debated, and various coaches continue to have split views on the topic. For this section, we’ll cover some of the most relevant studies and what they’ve suggested.

Lean Mass and Strength

This study from 2016 sought to find out whether higher or lower training frequency worked better for acquiring lean mass and strength. Researchers had 19 participants split into two groups: Low Frequency Training (LFT) and High Frequency Training (HFT) for an eight week training cycle. To assess lean muscle mass, researchers took each participant’s body fat measurements with a dual energy x-ray absorptiometry. For strength, they tested a subject’s 1-RM on the chest press and hack squat pre- and post-training protocol.

The LFT group worked out three times a week and trained agonist muscle groups once per week, so they had a chest, back, and leg focused day. For the HFT group, these members also trained three times a week, but hit full body workouts every lift, so the agonist muscle groups were being trained three times per week. Each workout, participants performed every exercise for three sets and aimed to hit 8-12 reps. Once a participant could hit 12 reps for an exercise, they’d increase the load by 3% and round to the nearest 1.3kg.

After the eight weeks, researchers found that both the HFT and LFT groups had similar pre- and post-training results. There was no significant difference between the two for lean mass. For 1-RM strength, researchers found that neither the chest press or hack squat improved over each other significantly, but the chest press did see a slightly higher improvement in the HFT group.

Muscular Adaptations – Hypertrophy

Another study worth noting is this 2015 study that was headed by Brad J. Schoenfeld assessing training frequency and muscular adaptations. For this study, researchers split 20 participants into two groups who followed a split-routine or total body workout. Researchers were interested in how muscular hypertrophy differed when volume was created equal. Participants in the split routine hit multiple exercises for 2-3 muscle groups per workout, and the total body routine trained each muscle group for one exercise once per workout.

Workout variables such as volume, exercises, and rest intervals were all held consistent for the eight-week exercise protocol. In addition, researchers advised subjects about proper dietary adherence to limit possible differences that could be caused by dietary and supplement variance. To look at muscular hypertrophy, subjects had B-mode ultrasounds performed on their forearm flexors, forearm extensors, and vastus lateralis. Strength was tested with the use of pre- and post-test 1-RM for the parallel back squat and barbell bench press.

A post shared by Kevin Oak (@oakstrong) on

After the completion of the eight-week workout protocol researchers noted that both the total and split-routine group saw improvements in all of their recorded muscle groups. Although, the forearm flexors saw a slightly higher improvement in the total group compared to the split-routine. For 1-RM tests, there was a slight advantage in the bench press with the total routine, but for the back squat both workout styles were nearly identical.

Researchers discussed that the trend for improvement of hypertrophy leaned towards the total group, as opposed to the split group when volume was created equal. Also, I’d suggest checking out Schoenfeld’s 2016 meta-analysis on frequency and muscular hypertrophy for further reading.

Muscular Adaptations – Strength

A study from 2000 sought out to find differences between 1-RM strength pre- and post- 12-week exercise intervention when resistance trained males trained either one or three times a week. Researchers split subjects into two groups, which either trained once a week or three times a week. The one day a week group performed an exercise for three sets to failure, while the three days a week group performed one exercise for one set to failure each workout.

To assess strength, researchers had subjects perform 1-RM tests on various upper and lower body exercises. 1-RM tests were performed pre-test, at 6-weeks, and at 12-weeks. Over the course of the 12-week exercise protocol each group saw improvements in their 1-RM strength, but the three days a week saw slightly more improvements. Additionally, researchers noted that increases in lean mass favored the higher frequency group, but these findings were relatively small.

Muscular Adaptations – Strength & Size [Untrained]

This study from 2017 analyzed the differences in muscular strength and size of the elbow flexors with training once or twice per week in untrained participants. Researchers had 30 subjects split into two groups who performed the same amount of volume during their workouts, but either trained once or twice per week. The subjects in this study didn’t have a previous resistance training history.

For the workouts subjects performed the same exercises, which consisted of lat pull-downs, seated row, barbell bench press, seated chest press, standing barbell biceps curl, Scott bench biceps curls, lying barbell, triceps extensions, and high pulley triceps extension. Upon finishing the 10-week exercise protocol, researchers investigated muscle thickness of the right arm flexors with the use of a B-mode ultrasound, along with measuring flexed arm circumference and peak torque.

A post shared by erica livoti (@ericalivoti) on

Both groups saw an improvement in muscle thickness, arm circumference, and peak torque after the 10-week intervention. However, the group that trained twice a week saw slightly more improvements for the three criteria, and improved their peak torque to a greater extent than the single session group. This would suggest that untrained individuals can improve with lower frequency training, but two days a week showed slightly higher improvements.

Volume Over Frequency?

The most relevant and recent study for strength athletes we’ll look at comes from this past January. Researchers were interested in assessing increases in maximal strength for the three powerlifts, along with body composition when athletes followed moderate and high frequency training. Subjects followed a 6-week exercise protocol and had at least 6-months of previous resistance training history.

To be included in this study, a subject needed to have a back squat of 125% of their bodyweight, a bench press of 100%, and a deadlift of 150%. For body composition, researchers had subjects use a Body-Metrix BX-2000 A-mode ultrasound to assess their fat free mass. To test 1-RM strength, researchers had subjects undergo the 1-RM protocol recommended by the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and for a lift to count it had to match the USA Powerlifting’s judging criteria for a “good lift”.

The two groups were split into a group that trained 3x a week and a group that trained 6x a week. Volume and intensity were equated to be equal, and athletes followed an undulated workout program with the utilization of auto-regulated progressive resistance exercise (APRE) to judge appropriate workout progressive overload.

Upon the completion of the study, researchers noted that both groups saw an improvement in their 1-RM back squat, bench press, deadlift, powerlifting total, Wilks Score, and improved their body composition. Researchers hypothesized that their results would reflect this, and suggested that volume may be more indicative for improvement when compared to frequency.

A post shared by Stefanie Cohen (@steficohen) on

Authors also discussed that while previous research has suggested that jumping from one to three days a week may show greater improvements in muscular adaptations that there may be a ceiling to frequency’s benefit, and the law of diminishing returns could be the reason for this.

However, there was a slight trend towards the 6x/week group [most for the bench press] when it came to improving 1-RM strength, so researchers also brought up that high frequency and lower volume could be beneficial, but there needs to be more research performed before drawing conclusions.

Research Takeaways

The above studies’ information are up for one’s own interpretation, and there’s really no conclusive findings that suggest higher versus lower being consistently better for maximal gains. Below are three takeaway points I noted from the research presented in this article.

  • If volume and intensity are equal, then frequency may be slightly less imperative for progress compared to overall volume. The last study is possibly the most applicable for strength sports [powerlifting specifically] and it suggests a valid point by accounting for the law of diminishing returns with increase in training frequency past a certain point.
  • If you’re on the newer side of lifting (<6 months or less), then frequency may be less important for growth, yet still beneficial. This was seen in the untrained study, and I would guess this is because of “newbie gains”, aka the time frame of rapid adaptation to resistance training when you begin lifting. Granted, higher frequency did see slightly better improvements, a newbie’s body will need a lower stimulus to grow, so they can get away with fewer days.
  • Higher frequency tended to suggest slightly better improvements in strength, hypertrophy, and muscle size, but it shouldn’t be the only variable accounted for. If you’re training at a higher frequency, then account for things like fatigue accumulation, total volume, intensity, and other variables. For example, don’t blindly increase frequency without a periodized plan or end goal in sight.

Again, the suggestions above are how I interpreted the research, and you may very well see it differently. As strength sports continue to grow, so does the research on frequency in this field, along with over variables. Hopefully we’ll continue to see more studies performed such as the last study that’s directly applicable to sports like powerlifting.

What Can Influence Frequency

There’s no clean-cut method to find your perfect workout frequency, but there are multiple factors we can look at to try and dial in on what could be best for you. Below are a few categories and subcategories that could influence your ideal workout frequency.

Strength Sport

Depending on your strength sport, there will be some variance in how often you need to train to progress. It would be impossible for me to suggest definitive time periods without knowing your training history and sport, but below are a few subcategories you should consider.

  • Type of Sport: Powerlifting, strongman, weightlifting, functional fitness, and bodybuilding will all have different demands when it comes to how often you need to train. For example, weightlifting may need a higher frequency as it’s more technical, while powerlifting may need less due to a higher fatigue factor.
  • Time of Season: Are you in prep for a meet or in the off-season? The timeline of your sport’s season will play a big role in frequency. This is something your coach would assess and program accordingly for your needs, as fatigue accumulation will be highly present in some of these scenarios.
  • Training Age: How long have you been in your sport? Some athletes who are further along their career may need increased frequency to match a stimulus they require to grow. On the other hand, they could also need less, as their sessions are more physically demanding. This is another consideration a coach would have to assess.

Lifestyle

It can be hard to accept, but it’s also impossible to ignore: your lifestyle can play a major role when finding your ideal workout frequency. For example, if you’re continually stressed and working long hours, but you want to train all of the time, yet you also continually feel run down, then you may need to train less often in order to progress. Below are a few lifestyle components to keep in mind for workout frequency.

  • Stress Levels: I’m not going to dive too deeply into the science behind stress, increased cortisol levels, and strength training. In some respects stress is good in strength training — it’s how we grow. But too much stress can decrease adrenal stores and deplete us of energy stores like glycogen, so when you feel that stress is affecting your energy and performance, you may want to make an effort to counter it, so you can achieve your desired workout frequency .
  • Time Allotment: Be honest with yourself and how much time you have to train. If you’re always pressed for time, and can’t get full programmed workouts in without rushing, then you may need to reassess how frequently you can work out.
  • Sleep: Similar to stress, sleep should be taken into consideration when finding ideal workout frequency. Sleep is when we recover the most and if you’re cutting your slumber short, then you may want to train less. Research backs this up: one study concluded that athletes who slept less than eight hours per night got injured 1.7 times more often.
  • Diet: This point alone isn’t going to make or break your workout frequency, but it can help when used wisely. Simply put: if you’re training more often, you’ll need to consume more food [energy] to match your output.

Workout Goals

This might be a no brainer, but a lot of athletes don’t ask themselves this question: what are your goals? When finding your ideal workout frequency your goals can play a major role in helping you decide where to start. Below are a few goals and how you might structure your frequency around them.

  • Strength & Power: If your main goal is strength and power, then I’d suggest looking at two factors: Training history and fatigue. These two will play important roles in deciding what’s a realistic frequency for you. For example, someone who’s closer to their genetic potential will have to carefully decide how to match their need for higher stimulus while keeping fatigue manageable. If you’re programming your own workouts, try taking a 2-week test: if you feel completely wiped the whole workout for every workout, then you may need to dial it back.
  • Cardiovascular fitness: If you’re working to improve your cardiovascular fitness, then you can most likely get away with working at higher frequencies, depending on the total volume in your program. Often with this goal you’ll be using less weight, so you can train more often without feeling drained or sacrificing form due to decrease in neural capacity.
  • Hypertrophy: From the research above, both higher and lower frequencies can be beneficial for hypertrophy, but higher may be slightly better. If hypertrophy (body composition) is your main goal, then make it a point to look at volume and realistic time allotments, these two factors are going to help with achieving ample progressive overload .Also, you could account for how much training you need to simply maintain the levels you’re at. For example, Dr. Mike Israetel has made an awesome video series on this, and I’ll embed one below.

Finding What’s Best For You

Now the fun part, finding what’s the best workout frequency for you. If you’re a recreational lifter, then we can look at what organizations like the National Strength and Conditioning Association have recommended for frequency. Check out their suggestions below.

  • Novice: 2-3x/Week
  • Intermediate: 3 for total body training, 4 for split-routines
  • Advanced: 4-6x/Week

What about strength athletes in particular? Their demands will most likely be different than the recreational lifter. This being said, I’ve put together a table below that has a few suggestions when accounting for strength sport and workout frequency.

This table is based off of what’s generally implemented in each sport for an athlete’s training age, along with how long they’ve spent in that sport specifically. The timelines are sport specific, and not just time spent working out. Also, the frequencies are roughly based off of the demands a sport can impose on an athlete during their career in the respective timelines given.

Is the chart above perfect? No, that would be impossible to construct, but hopefully it can act as a starting point for some. Also, note that the chart doesn’t account for training intensities, times of season, lifestyle factors, and specific athletic needs.

Wrapping Up

The main goal of this article wasn’t to give a definitive conclusion to what frequency is best, but to present information that can help one learn how to find what’s best for them. Frequency, like every other variable in a workout, will be subject to the athlete at hand.

Is there a perfect workout frequency? Yes and no. Perfect is impossible, but there are ways to learn what’s best for you — just remember it will always be individual.

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