5 Underappreciated Benefits of Lifting Weights

One of the most damaging misconceptions out there is that lifting weights is an exercise in vanity.

“All those meatheads curling dumbbells and admiring themselves in the mirror,” scoff the untrained masses. “I’m so glad I’m not a narcissist like they are.”

Hold up! An essential first step when learning to lift is that looking nice is just a side effect. An enjoyable side effect, sure, and for many it’s the reason they picked up their first barbell.

But the benefits of strength go way, way, way beyond that. Some of them – confidence, lower body fat, resistance to injury – you’re probably aware of. Here are five effects that get less time in the spotlight. (Next time someone asks why you lift, try sending ‘em this.)

unknown-1769656_1280

1) A Stronger Brain

Like many parts of the body, the brain tends to shrink with age, but lifting weights appears to help slow the process.

A lot of studies on brain health focus on the benefits of aerobic exercise, but a recent study of women aged between 65 and 75 showed that twice-weekly strength training can dramatically slow the disintegration of white matter in the brain when compared to a group that lifted weights just once per week and another that only focused on stretching and balance training. (White matter is the material that connects and passes information between different brain regions.)

When younger folks start a lifting habit, it builds a stronger brain that’s less likely to experience Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of mental decline, probably due in part to the fact that progressive resistance training seems to boost BDNF, a protein that helps to build new brain cells.

blood-1813410_1920

2) Cleaner Blood

Worried about your cholesterol? Strength training is a solid natural remedy.

In one widely cited study of women in their twenties, fourteen weeks of heavy strength training (at eighty-five percent of their one-rep max) resulted in significant decreases in blood cholesterol levels and a strong trend toward more favorable ratios of LDL (bad) to HDL (good) cholesterol. Other studies have shown better blood sugar, a lower heart rate, and a heart that’s literally bigger and stronger.

Even though “cardio” sounds like the pick for a healthier heart, the American Heart Association strongly recommends strength training. Not just because lifting weights improves blood pressure, but also because it seems to boost performance at aerobic exercise. (More strength means improved speed and time to exhaustion during cardio.)

Of course, heavy lifting is a super effective way to reduce body fat, and a slimmer waistline is another factor in reducing the risk of heart disease. What was that about abs just being for show?

dna-1811955_1920

3) Activated Genes

The genes you’re born with, as it turns out, don’t control your destiny. Not entirely, anyway: while your genes are fixed, strength training appears to activate and “reprogram” certain genes. (Think of it like changing the software in your hardware – the genes don’t change, but the way they act does.)

This is obviously a complex topic, but in a 2014 study where participants only strengthened one of their legs, the genomes in that leg changed. In fact, more than five thousand areas of the genome were expressing themselves differently, showing improvement in their energy metabolism, inflammation, and insulin response. Other studies have shown that a shift in gene expression could be why resistance training is linked to better immunity, stress response, and protein synthesis.

There’s still a lot to learn, but one thing’s relatively clear: stronger muscles means healthier genes.

A photo posted by 🌸Rachel🌸 (@rachelironbarbie) on Nov 30, 2016 at 2:00pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

4) Reduced Depression

Iron may indeed be the best therapy for some of us.

When compared with aerobic training or no exercise at all, resistance training has been shown in several studies to be the best form of physical exercise to reduce the symptoms of generalized anxiety. In one particularly promising trial of thirty sedentary women, signs of worry and anxiety showed remission in sixty percent of the participants, compared with forty percent for the aerobic training group. Studies have shown a beneficial effect on people suffering from clinical depression, too.

While these studies are definitely promising, they’re not a blanket recommendation; we absolutely advise speaking with a medical practitioner first if you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of depression.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

5) Fewer Strokes

Physical inactivity has been listed by the famous Interstroke study as one of the five key risk factors that are responsible for eighty percent of the world’s strokes, and in this case, more is better: one meta-analysis of twenty-three studies concluded that the risk reduction in moderately and high physically active results was twenty-seven percent.

A lot of this literature doesn’t much differentiate between aerobic and resistance training, but while aerobic definitely has its place, strength – in particular, grip strength – has been very strongly correlated with stroke risk. (One study found that each eleven-pound decrease in grip strength is associated with a nine percent increase in stroke risk.)

Strength training is also one of the best-studied methods to improve function after a stroke. This is likely because of the effect on mental health, balance, and blood pressure.

Wrapping Up

Many of the conditions we just mentioned are considered consequences of the aging process, and strength training’s ability prevent, combat, and reverse some of their effects is why – and we know this sounds a little dramatic – lifting weights literally makes your body younger.

So, get lifting! It makes you look awesome and, as it turns out, your life depends on it.

This article is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. See your doctor if you’re experiencing any symptoms of the preceding conditions.

The post 5 Underappreciated Benefits of Lifting Weights appeared first on BarBend.

All Dates, Cities Announced for 2017 USA Weightlifting American Open Series

In a post on the Team USA website today, USA Weightlifting announced the third and final city to host an American Open Series event in 2017. From the release:

“Michigan holds a special place in our sport’s history,” USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews said. “We look forward to a great meet, thanks to our partnership with the West Michigan Sports Commission.”

The event is also the last chance for athletes to qualify for the 2017 International Weightlifting Federation Weightlifting World Championships in Anaheim, California. The 2017 Worlds Squad will be announced at the conclusion of the event.

We now know the dates and cities for all events in the new competition series (below), according to USA Weightlifting’s website.

downtown_grand_rapids_from_river_house

Image by Rachel Kramer, licensed under CC BY 2.0

American Open Series 1

March 16-19, 2017
Reno, NV

American Open Series 2

July 28-31, 2017
Miami, FL

American Open Series 3

September 8-10, 2017
Grand Rapids, Michigan

American Open Finals

December 7 – 10, 2017
Anaheim, California

2017 will be the first year to use the new points system for the American Open Series, which we’ve described in more detail here.

Qualifying totals for the 2017 American Open Series are also now available here. (Hint: They’re probably a lot more accessible than you think.)

A few more details about the new competition series:

  • The American Open will henceforth be referred to as the “American Open Finals” to reflect its place as the culmination of a season-long competition series. Points will be earned across all four Series events, and Champions will be awarded at the Finals.
  • Each event in the Series will allow lifters the chance to set American Records and earn Rankings and Stipend eligibility.
  • Championships will be awarded across Team, Adult/Junior, Youth, and Masters categories.
  • All top three finishers in their weight categories at each Series event will automatically qualify for the American Open Finals, which will be held at the end of 2017.

Do you plan on participating in the American Open Series? Let us know in the comments below!

The post All Dates, Cities Announced for 2017 USA Weightlifting American Open Series appeared first on BarBend.

Mark Bell and Silent Mike Teach Us How To Bench Efficiently

Mark Bell, Silent Mike, and the Super Training Team continue to pump out great content, figuratively and literally.

The most recent video they shared was a 35-minute clip called, “The Definitive Guide to Bench Press Like a Beast.” This video was awesome. It was descriptive and informative, plus it provided practical cues for lifters to start using ASAP.

Although…the video is 35-minutes long, and while I highly suggest watching all of it, time isn’t always on our side. So to save you some time – I summed up a few of the key talking points from the video.

1. Comfort Within The Uncomfortable (:50)

Bell begins by discussing developing habits that become routine when putting ourselves in an uncomfortable position, i.e., the bench press. From your mental preparation, getting into position, and to the chalk you put on – everything should become routine.

A structured routine will then allow you to focus on the lift without wasted prep thought.

2. Positioning (2:40)

Silent Mike discusses how he positions himself on the bench and how to decide if you should bench with a wider or narrower grip. A few of the key setup points Silent Mike discusses in his routine that could be used for everyone’s include…

  • Eyes under bar and head positioning at the top of the bench.
  • Use the power rings to ensure the same grip every time and to adjust for your arm width.
  • Upper back tightness (squeeze through the whole press), this provides the body a platform to bench off of and creates stability.
  • Knees below hips, lock the legs in (driving heels to ground) and actively squeezing the butt to push energy to the upper body.

3. Bar Path (6:05)

Bar paths can vary, but for the majority of us, the bar will make contact with the lower chest/bottom of the sternum. Elbows should be slightly flared making the elbows remain under the bar or slightly in front it.

Bell tip: Pull the weight out of the rack, don’t lift it. Ideally, have someone provide a lift off for you, this keeps the back tight – plus you don’t have to lift off in a meet, so why do it in training?

3.5. Breathing (8:00)

A controversial topic, but breathing into the chest and belly can both be okay for the bench press. Judge this off of personal preference, and how the bar tracks on your body. Bell points out at Super Training they wear belts to avoid hyperextension of the back.

4. Mark Bell Sets Up (11:45)

Mark Bell takes you through his set up methods and key points he likes to focus on. He talks about how everyone has their own means of getting hyped up before the lift. Also, he gives a great cue and this is – think about bending the bar on the eccentric (downward motion) and absorbing the force before performing the concentric (upward motion).

5. Differences in Bar Path (15:00)

At this point in the video there’s the discussion of differences in bar paths from athlete and athlete. All of the logistics of pressing, along with examples are included by both Silent Mike and Bell.

6. Head Positioning (23:00)

The head positioning you use should be dictated by your press, most people feel comfort leaving their head on the bench.

Bell expresses that he lifts his head when he benches because it enhances his ability to pause and move weight. Find what’s most comfortable for you.

7. Arch (25:00)

Our body’s anthropometrics and  how we get positioned for the bench will create a natural arch – excessive arch can actually inhibit pressing for some.

8. Single Most Effective Exercise for Bench Pressing (28:00)

Bench pressing. For increased bench strength vary reps, sets, modalities, loading methods, and positions.

9. Examples of Bench Pressing Accessory Movements (29:25)

The rest of the video discusses methods for increasing bench through changing training methods. Plus, how to train for a sticking point, and much more.

“Leave no stone unturned with your training.”

Feature image from Supertraining06 YouTube page. 

The post Mark Bell and Silent Mike Teach Us How To Bench Efficiently appeared first on BarBend.

Isometrics Are Your Secret Weapon for Heavier Lifts

A lot of lifters forget that there are three basic types of muscular contractions: concentric, which is contraction while the muscle shortens, eccentric, contraction while lengthening, and the all too-neglected isometric. That’s when you work a muscle without moving it at all.

During a strength athlete’s eternal quest to hoist heavier and heavier loads from the beginning to the end point of an exercise, the middle portion of a movement – say, when a barbell is at knee-level during a deadlift – can swiftly become a lifter’s weakest link.

Most of us know this, but few of us spend time working in this middle range of an exercise. That’s where isometrics come in: they have an extremely effective, yet underappreciated and underutilized ability to improve the smoothness and efficiency of a lift’s entire range of motion.

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js
“Isometrics get shafted and pushed to the side as this kind of useless part of a repetition, but they actually have a ton of transfer over to athletic performance,” says Eric Johnson, CSCS, co-founder of Sons of Strength. “A lot of the time, force gets lost during the process of a lift, and by adding time under tension in that isometric phase, you can basically transfer from the eccentric to the concentric a lot more efficiently and have a better rate of power transfer over time.”

They can also be great form fixers. Johnson points out that in the bottom of a squat, many people experience the infamous “butt wink.” But if a person can learn to hold that position with correct form while loaded up with a bar, they’ll become more comfortable in that and other sticking points in which they feel the most vulnerable.

It turns out that this sort of exercise is fantastic at recruiting muscle fibers as well. A widely-cited study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, for example, showed that maximal isometric contraction of the quadriceps resulted in over five percent more muscle fibers activated than during a maximal eccentric or concentric action. That means isometric training can improve your ability to recruit motor units, which could increase strength and power production overall.

screenshot-2016-11-30-at-9-57-09-am

The Mind Muscle Connection

This is always a tricky topic to examine – it just sounds so mystical – but warming up with isometric exercises could help muscles to fire appropriately.

“Most of us just want the bar to get from point A to point B as fast and efficiently as possible, but you want the right musculature to be working,” says Johnson. “You want to feel like you’re initiating from the hamstrings and glutes on that first pull, driving your feet through the ground, and feeling tension in your lats. If you work in an isometric phase during your warmup, it helps to turn everything on in a sense, to stimulate these muscles so that way they’re fired up and ready to go. That way when you go to lift, you’re just focused on your lift and you’re not focused on that mind-muscle connection. It’s already been ingrained within your performance.”

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

How to Incorporate Isometric Movements

On the micro level, there are a few ways to work isometrics into a given strength workout.

During a warmup, you can try using loads that are about half your working weight, like the deadlift preparation described above, to stimulate your muscles and (possibly) improve the mind-muscle connection. With slightly heavier loads, isometrics holds can be used throughout the range of a deadlift to help ensure a neutral spine during the movement. Johnson recommends doing this kind of workout on its own, as opposed to using it to warm up for very heavy reps – your muscles will probably be too fatigued.

Another method is supra-maximal loading, which is a kind of post-activation potentiation. This involves loading a bar with 120 to 150 percent of your one-rep max and holding it at lock out. He describes it in the video below.

The goal is to holding the weight for three to ten seconds while bracing your muscles, crushing the bar, and pushing into the floor. Then you can rack the bar, adjust the weight, and start your working set – busting out reps will suddenly feel a lot lighter. He recommends this for compound movements like the bench, pull-up, and squat. For the latter exercise, push your hips back a tiny little bit before locking into the position

Pulling or pressing into an immovable object is another way to improve isometric strength. Take the bench press: you can set up safety pins in a squat rack at the height where you’re weakest in the movement and press the bar into those pins as hard as you can. Just remember that getting strong in those positions aren’t worth much if your form is flawed.

“I also love isometric holds as finishers, especially if you can use them to help improve mobility,” says Johnson. The goal is to stretch under tension. Here, he demonstrates with an isometric Bulgarian split squat in what he calls an “extreme loaded stretch.”

When you’re in the bottom of the exercise, squeeze the glute of the leg that’s on the bench. You can make the stretch even deeper by elevating the front leg. Other examples include holding the bottom of a push-up while the pec is stretched or holding a dead hang at the bottom of pull-up.

On a macro level, if you’re looking at a twelve- to sixteen-week training program,  Johnson would concentrate isometric training during the two to four weeks in the middle. This helps to shore up sticking points as your lifts are progressing and, because isometrics don’t cause much wear and tear on the joints, it helps your body to recover mid-program as well.

Final Thoughts

Lifts aren’t just lifts. The bar doesn’t just exist at the beginning and end of a movement; it moves through a range of motion that for many of us, is pretty weak around the midpoint. After all, when struggling to increase lifts, many athletes will notice that they don’t lose strength at the start of the movement, they lose it at the halfway point: when the bar is a foot above the shoulders, or when the deadlift hits the knees. Strategically using isometric exercises is an underutilized, but very effective tool that could prove the missing link in hitting your next PR.

Featured image sourced from @sonsofstrength

The post Isometrics Are Your Secret Weapon for Heavier Lifts appeared first on BarBend.

How I Became One Of Meg Squat’s Strong Strong Friends

You may not know the name Meg Gallagher. But if I asked if you’d heard of @MegSquats, you’d probably give me a different answer.

Meg is a well-known powerlifter and influencer in the strength sports community. What originally started as a YouTube channel documenting her lifting journey has since grown into a business and a personal identity.

silly_barbend

She competes, teaches, programs, and works with other professionals to improve other’s lives. One of her driving goals is to share and spread light on the sport of powerlifting. From the moment I met her, I knew Meg was in this industry for all the right reasons.

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to sit down with Meg and talk about…a variety of subjects. We talked about legally changing our names, how to compete and get into powerlifting, what the future holds for her, and so much more. By the end of our interview I felt as though I had truly become one of her many Strong Strong Friends.

On The Name Meg Squats

Jake: First, I have to know…how did you come up with the name Meg Squats?

Meg: The name somewhat came about before I got into powerlifting. I was originally involved in CrossFit. Also, I tried a bikini show, which didn’t workout for me personally – I lost a bunch of weight for the show, but then after ended up rebounding and putting it all back on. 

At this point, I just wanted to get back into the gym and begin lifting again, but all I wanted to do was squat. So I ran a Bulgarian program, right after Smolov, so I was literally squatting everyday. I started gaining a little traction on social media for my increase in numbers, so I decided to change my name to Meg Squats.

Jake: So if you were benching all of the time, you would have been Meg Benches?

Meg: Exactly.

bench_barbend

Jake: Do you think that would have been better or worse for building a brand?

Meg: Well…I think the problem is, is at the time my squat was really great, but then I cut down a weight class and my squat hasn’t seen the numbers I was squatting originally. When you compare all of my lifts to other competitors, my squat is probably the least competitive. I still enjoy squatting, but my deadlift is way better than my squat.

Jake: So…if I changed my name to Jake Deadlifts, do you think that would be good or bad thing? From a legal point of view.

Meg: I think if you’re passionate enough about something that you want to change your name, then why not? I think we should be whoever we want to be, our name is so ingrained in our identity, yet we don’t have a choice over it.

Editor’s note: I’m still waiting on my mom’s response to the idea of me legally changing my name to Jake Deadlifts. 

A photo posted by Jake Boly (@jake_boly) on Nov 12, 2016 at 12:01pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

On The Transition To a Full Time Strength Career

Jake: What did you do before fitness?

Meg: My background is in graphic design. I studied design in college and worked in Washington D.C. after college at a job that worked with Governments Internationally. So I kind of had this secret agent job, where I handled their marketing and communications. It was really cool, I was traveling all over the world to countries I never would have gone to, had I worked somewhere else.

Ryan (my boyfriend) and I then moved to New York when Ryan got a job here. I told the company I was with that I was moving to New York and this is what I’m doing, so they allowed me to work as a consultant for them.

I stayed there working remotely for about a year, and then slowly, I think that the flexibility working as a consultant made it so we could start offering some coaching, create better content, and start to focus on building our brand. Then eventually we began to make more money, so the revenue stream allowed me to no longer have to work. My boyfriend Ryan also works for me, he’s my main consultant on Excel things.

On Working With a Significant Other and Being Strength Nerds

Jake: Do you find it difficult to work with a significant other? Is it hard to separate church from state with business and personal issues?

A photo posted by Meg Squats (@megsquats) on Nov 26, 2016 at 6:27am PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Meg: I think we’ll figure it out. I’ll have a better answer for you in the next few months. Currently, he works around 80 hours a week at his normal job, so our actual office time is limited. It’s nice because I am the brand, marketing, and communications person, while he is the back end stuff. We work on programming for clients together and it’s very collaborative there. This all started because he began programming for me.

Personally, with my programming, he always gets the last say, because he’s going to push me a little harder than I would myself. In other words, he’s kind of the back end, aka the kind of nerd stuff…I’m the cool stuff, which is great. Plus, we work together very well in our relationship and so far running a business together.

Jake: So does Ryan have a background in fitness?

Meg: Ryan is a weightlifter and he’s been doing so for about four years now. He studied powerlifting a lot, I know in college, he did his thesis on powerlifting, even though he was an economics major. He’s almost a bigger strength nerd than I am. Since I’m a woman, I pay attention to female athletes more closely and those numbers are so much more relative to my own strength, so I can be more interested in them. On the flip side, a lot of the guys, especially old school powerlifters, Ryan will know exactly who they are – for example, he taught me who Paul Anderson was, do you know who that is?

A video posted by Meg Squats (@megsquats) on Nov 28, 2016 at 6:11am PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Jake: Actually yes, we’ve written about Anderson. I always find it interesting how older, history oriented pieces do so well, we’ve written about Milo Steinborn, Eugene Sandow, Paul Anderson, and many more

Meg: That stuff is so interesting, plus you’ll gain more of true, hardcore following creating pieces like that. I recently started a Pinterest board of old school strength inspiration. Whenever I interview athletes, sometimes it takes the spotlight away from me, but I’m also self aware and I understand I’m not always the most interesting person in the world. So interviewing other athletes and covering that, is like paying homage to a sport that is massively growing and also massively changing from what it used to be.

I think it’s important to recognize the history of powerlifting, for example, a lot of raw lifters I know have no idea what equipped lifting is. As an ambassador for the sport, I think it’s almost my responsibility to help educate others about the sport of powerlifting.  Also, understanding powerlifting’s roots is super important to me and that’s something I want to keep as a theme in all of the content I create. It’s cool that you guys are writing about that stuff.

On Growing a YouTube Channel and Helping Others

Jake: When you first began making videos, did you ever think they would be to the point where they are now with 99,000+ subscribers and such widespread success?

Meg: I mean…that’s always the hope, you always hope that something will be successful. Although, when I started I had no intentions of leaving my job, I had no intentions of coaching, but it wasn’t until I started making videos and interacting with subscribers that I learned, “Oh, I’m really helping people.” For example, I did a video on, “What To Pack Before a Meet,” and now I meet people in person that express how much it helped them.

The fact that I can help someone prepare for a meet that they’ve spent months in training cycles preparing for is huge to me. And it wasn’t until I really started interacting with people did I realize, “Oh, I want to coach,” and “Oh, this could be something big.” I like talking to people on the internet about lifting, so it was a no brainer to continue making these videos.

Jake: I completely get that. It’s hard to explain that aspect to others outside of the strength industry. I have buddies on Wall Street making a ton of money, and they always question me about training. It’s always the same story, when you genuinely help someone, there are few things that compare to that and I feel like that’s exactly what you just summed up.

A photo posted by Meg Squats (@megsquats) on Nov 26, 2016 at 2:11pm PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Meg: Exactly. The strength community is so small and widespread across the world, especially for women, not every girl has a woman at her gym that’s giving her tips. That’s really huge for me, at my first gym I had a great community and that was key to making me a better lifter and learning to enjoy the process of lifting.

I talk to girls on the internet and they explain how they’re the only girl at their gym or they’re at a commercial gym and no one has even heard of the word powerlifting. So I think I found a gap between something that no one was talking about, which was powerlifting. And powerlifting is cool because you can compete, and for a lot of us that’s an exciting thought. Competing makes me feel like a kid again. It’s awesome because it’s a sport. No one outside of high school and college really plays sports, so it’s nice having something to constantly work towards that isn’t your job.

On Beginning to Compete and Getting Into Powerlifting

Jake: What are two or three tips you would give someone who’s on the cusp of thinking about competing, but are not sure if they’re strong enough to do so? For example, what if I wanted to compete in the spring (something I’m trying to do)? 

Meg: I actually have a chart that has questions you should ask yourself before you compete. It’s also in a video and you can download it from my site.

So If you are on the cusp and you’re trying to figure out: Should I compete?

One, if it’s your dying wish, and you are actually dying – just compete. Just do it.

Two, if it’s your dying wish, and you’re not dying right now, I would train for a solid training cycle, maybe 12-weeks, sometimes longer. That’s a powerlifting and competition specific program, by the way. Also, know the rules. Next, I would suggest going to a meet. These are all prerequisites before entering a competition. There are a lot of rules and it can be quite technical. Although, that’s just a big picture to find out if you’re ready to compete, my tips would be…

I don’t want anyone to be discouraged, but there is a little barrier to entry and we should respect the sport.

Tips for you specifically…

1. Don’t cut weight.

2. Go 9 for 9.

3. Have fun.

4. Don’t get too amped – the time before your first squat and last deadlift will be around 4-hours.

meg

On Goal Setting

Jake: From a personal and fitness standpoint, how do you set goals? Do you set short-term, long-term, both, how do you dictate where you’re going next?

Meg: I set both short-term and long-term goals.

Short-term in that, I grade every training session I have everyday. I grade how much fun I had and how accomplished I feel. For me to achieve a 10/10 accomplished grade, I just need to hit the numbers I’m programmed to hit. Which is good, that’s all you really need to do, day in and day out.

Although, there are days when you don’t get to accomplish everything you wanted to, but that’s okay.

Jake: You need those days, they make you appreciate the 10/10 days.

Meg: Completely agree. Long-term, I try to set 3-month, 6-month, 12-month, and 18-month goals, right now I’m not that structured because I just finished a big meet. Usually I’ll have a big meet in mind for a year and the long-term is usually adding a little bit to my total, meet to meet.

Jake: When you set these goals, do you sit down and actually write them out?

Meg: I have a piece of paper on my desk and it has my financial, work, life, and strength goals. So I see it everyday. For example, my current 2016 strength goal is to increase my squat and bench, they’re still not where I want them, but they’re closer than they were at the start of 2016 and I see the improvement every day.

squat_barbend

Also with goal setting, I have all my 1-on-1 client set goals, these are clients I speak to on a weekly basis. I have all of their starting numbers and their goal numbers. This way we can assess and reassess their programs to achieve these goals.

I think a lot of time you see lifters post their goals, then you scale that to where they are now and it’s just so ridiculous. I would love to be squatting 330 in a year, but is it going to happen? Probably not. I think making realistic goals is so important, an example for me would be, when I retest my single, I want to add 5 lbs. For the longest time I was hitting 1 lb PR’s on my bench, and you should be happy with all PR’s. One pound PR’s are nothing to be ashamed of.

On Shrugging Off Critics

Jake: How do you personally shrug off any any form of negativity you receive from a personal and professional standpoint?

Meg: I go through waves of having it affect me. I’ve found that responding to it, in any form will be always negative for me. Usually when someone goes out of their way to make a mean comment, there’s nothing you can say that will sway them otherwise. This being said, I try my hardest to not let it bother me. Realistically speaking, not everyone is going to like you, that’s just life. I’m not perfect, so I go through waves of having it affect me and not.

A photo posted by Meg Squats (@megsquats) on Nov 23, 2016 at 5:58am PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

It’s always important to remember as a professional, commenters have nothing to lose, while I have quite a bit to lose. I can’t remember who I heard this from, but the quote, “You have to choose what hills you die on,” has really stuck with me. For me, I’m very aware of what I’m willing to fight for and what I won’t. I have those two or three things that I’ll fight for, and negative anonymous person on the internet is not one of them.

On Your Defining Moment

Jake: Do you remember the moment or time that helped you realize that you have really built a presence and that you’re really leaving your mark?

Meg: I collaborated with Maxx Chewning, he’s another YouTuber and he has a really strong deadlift. He’s more of the typical YouTuber, so he’s a YouTuber before a powerlifter and I think he would agree with that. The videos with him was a big boost in my platform, and I got a lot of general lifters, so for a while I thought I was a YouTuber, not a powerlifter. 

Then I came to New York and did a video with Kevin Oak, and having the opportunity to lift with him, on top of him knowing who I was was huge for me. That’s when I was like, “Woah, this is a world record holder who knows who this pretty strong powerlifter girl was.” I think there was kind of a moment in that collab when I realized I have the opportunity to lift with the best in the world, and I could do really cool stuff with this interview style.

After that point, more opportunities continued to come and people began to know more so who I was. I knew when I was starting to make powerlifting videos that the epitome of that would be doing an episode on the PowerCast (Mark Bell’s podcast). When I recently did that, that’s when I truly knew and realized how far this has come.

On Building Your Confidence In The Strength World

Jake: How did you build your voice and confidence in the strength world?

Meg: I first started out by just documenting my experiences and then giving advice on my experiences. Now I’ve been powerlifting for long enough, I’ve literally had the opportunities to meet some of the strongest people in the world and some the best coaches in the world. I think being open to their ideas and new perspectives makes it so I can continue to share what I’ve learned and what I think.

On the YouTube platform I’m on, I’m very open to letting people know what I’m doing and assuring people that I’m always learning. I think building my confidence is a combination of having great opportunities and access to people where I can learn new things. I’m sure in five years my views will change, but that happens sometimes, it shows growth.

Jake: That’s always a trend I see with athletes, coaches, and personalities I interact with, there’s always an emphasis on being open and continuing to learn. John Gaglione told me about the “white belt mentality,” and that’s really stuck with me.

Do you ever find it overwhelming? Sometimes I sit down and realize how much I don’t know and it makes me want to learn, but also stressed me out a little bit.

Meg: You’re never going to learn everything, but it’s good because it shows you’re eager and willing to learn. A lot of it is understanding what works for you, and knowing that what works for you may work for someone else differently.

On a Client Story That’s Left a Lasting Impact

Jake: Do you have a client story that has left a lasting impact on you? For example, I have my client story that I always tap into when I need extra inspiration.

Meg: I have a client now that’s stronger than me, which is sweet. Right now, we’re working on her mental game and her self-talk when she’s approaching the barbell. I think that is where I see the most growth in me and my coaching business.

A photo posted by Meg Squats (@megsquats) on Nov 12, 2016 at 7:49am PST

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

I myself am constantly figuring out how I can adjust the ways I talk to myself and how I approach the barbell. I’m starting to implement some of these practices and mantras to my client, so that’s really cool for me. She just re-tested and squatted 365, she’s gearing up to compete in the summer of 2017.

Right now it’s fun because we’re taking mental notes, and I’m getting into her brain to figure out what we can adjust to improve, which is a huge part of competition lifting. I’ve only been working with her for 6-months, and she was one of my first clients. While it’s not a life changing story, it’s really cool to see a client exceed my strength abilities and still want to work with me.

On The Most Important Lesson Learned From Lifting

Jake: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from lifting?

Meg: Have fun. I want to lift for a long period of time, and I’m not going to get anywhere in my strength, personal, and business life unless I’m enjoying the process of achieving new goals.

On Random Meg Squats Facts

Jake: Favorite all time food?

Meg: Pho Noodles and burgers.

Jake: If you had to do one lift for the rest of your life, what is it?

Meg: Deadlift.

A video posted by Meg Squats (@megsquats) on Oct 30, 2016 at 2:37pm PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Jake: Favorite song when you need a pick me up?

Meg: Borderline by Madonna

Jake: Hobbies outside of fitness?

Meg: So I still do freelance work and illustrations for children’s books, it’s still a job, but I enjoy it. I like to ride my bike.

Jake: Cats or dogs?

Meg: Cats, plus Ryan loves cats.

Jake: Rom com or horror movie?

Meg: Rom Com

Jake: Daytime or nighttime and favorite season?

Meg: Daytime and Summer

It’s always an awesome experience when you meet personalities that are as genuine as they portray online, and Meg is the definition of that. She’s in the industry for the right reasons and is as down to earth as anyone can be, Meg has definitely won me over as a Strong Strong Friend. I would highly recommend giving her a follow on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

The post How I Became One Of Meg Squat’s Strong Strong Friends appeared first on BarBend.

4 Reasons Why Every Lifter Can Benefit from Unilateral Training

Regardless of sport, research suggests most athletes can benefit immensely from adding unilateral training into their current training routine. Often, training regimens include a slew of bilateral movements, such as; barbell squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, snatches, and cleans, just to name a few. By not training unilaterally, (that is, training with one side/limb of the body at a time) coaches and athletes fail to address core stabilization, muscular imbalances, and even the well-documented, “Bilateral Deficit”.

“The bilateral limb deficit (BLD) phenomenon is the difference in maximal or near maximal force generating capacity of muscles when they are contracted alone or in combination with the contralateral muscles. A deficit occurs when the summed unilateral force is greater than the bilateral force.”

split-squat

What Is Unilateral Training

Simply put, unilateral training is any form of movement that trains one limb at a time, rather than both. Common examples are:

  • Split Squats
  • Single-Arm Pressing
  • Single-Arm Rowing
  • Single-Leg RDLs
  • Pistol Squats

Any variation and modality (barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, cables, bands, bodyweight, etc) can be used.

Unilateral vs. Bilateral Training

Most athletes train strength, power, and competition lifts using bilateral exercises, such as; snatches, cleans, squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc. Unlike bilateral exercises, unilateral training offers coaches an athletes a unique training stimulus to maximize performance, increase injury resilience, and even enhance bilateral outputs.

Over time, poor movement mechanics and compensation patterning can lead to inefficient bar paths, overuse injury, and stalled progress. By addressing certain neuromuscluar (movement patterning) and muscular (strength, hypertrophy, explosiveness) with unilateral training exercises, coaches and athletes can better develop and maintain muscle mass, connective tissues strength, and joint integrity.

Below are some benefits and expected outcomes of unilateral training within a sound strength and conditioning program.

Correct Imbalances

A video posted by Marcus Filly (@marcusfilly) on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:46am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Muscular and movement imbalances can affect the whole. By solely performing bilateral lifts like squats and deadlifts, many imbalances may go unnoticed, often “fixed” by the body’s natural tendency to compensate. Those compensation behaviors often lead to overuse injury, movement faults, and muscle weaknesses. Simply adding unilateral training into one’s assistance program can improve potentially harmful muscular and movement based imbalances.

Core Stabilization

Core stabilization is another benefit that unilateral training has to offer. By training unilaterally, we challenge stabilizing core muscles to support the loaded imbalances to promote sound movement patterns. Research suggests that single arm should pressing led to greater muscle activity and core stabilization in the trunk, showcasing the value of unilateral exercises when trying to further develop core strength.

Application to Human Movement

A video posted by Jonerik Murphy (@jemfast) on Oct 27, 2016 at 8:35am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Nearly all athletic movements are done unilaterally. With the exception of formal squatting, deadlifting, and Olympic lifts, foot placement is often slightly off while in open chained environments, such as formal athletics, functional fitness competitions, and endurance training. Despite the sport-specific “need” to be in a unilateral position during weightlifting and powerlifting (assuming one doesn’t split jerk), strength and power athletes can use unilateral training within assistance work to bulletproof their competition lifts and body. The ability to promote sound movement both bilaterally and unilaterally will ensure greater potentials for general physical preparedness and injury prevention.

Decrease Injury Risks

A video posted by TESSA (@chess_tessa) on Oct 17, 2016 at 6:01am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Injuries often result from overuse, muscular imbalances, and poor movement. Unilateral training offers coaches and athletes the ability to isolate specific movements, muscles, and joints to increase symmetry of muscular development and movement. By training unilaterally, athletes can better diversify their fitness, attack muscular weaknesses and imbalances, and close the asymmetry gaps that may go uncovered if only training bilaterally.

Improve Muscular Stimulation

Research suggests that unilateral training can promote greater muscular stimulation. Referred to as the “Bilateral Deficit”, research indicated that EMG activity and strength recordings were higher in unilateral limbs when relatively compared to bilateral movements. The ability to isolate and train individual movements and muscles on an unilateral basis could help promote muscular development and growth.

Final Words

Unilateral exercises can be simple modifications from common bilateral movements. Coaches and athletes can implement them within most formal training programs after main lifts to ensure optimal development. By taking the time to address unilateral concerns, coaches and athletes can improve muscular and movement pattern imbalances, potentially prevent injury, and stimulate new muscular growth development.

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.

Featured Image: @marcusfilly on Instagram

The post 4 Reasons Why Every Lifter Can Benefit from Unilateral Training appeared first on BarBend.

4 Reasons Why Every Lifter Can Benefit from Unilateral Training

Regardless of sport, research suggests most athletes can benefit immensely from adding unilateral training into their current training routine. Often, training regimens include a slew of bilateral movements, such as; barbell squats, deadlifts, presses, rows, snatches, and cleans, just to name a few. By not training unilaterally, (that is, training with one side/limb of the body at a time) coaches and athletes fail to address core stabilization, muscular imbalances, and even the well-documented, “Bilateral Deficit”.

“The bilateral limb deficit (BLD) phenomenon is the difference in maximal or near maximal force generating capacity of muscles when they are contracted alone or in combination with the contralateral muscles. A deficit occurs when the summed unilateral force is greater than the bilateral force.”

split-squat

What Is Unilateral Training

Simply put, unilateral training is any form of movement that trains one limb at a time, rather than both. Common examples are:

  • Split Squats
  • Single-Arm Pressing
  • Single-Arm Rowing
  • Single-Leg RDLs
  • Pistol Squats

Any variation and modality (barbell, dumbbell, kettlebell, cables, bands, bodyweight, etc) can be used.

Unilateral vs. Bilateral Training

Most athletes train strength, power, and competition lifts using bilateral exercises, such as; snatches, cleans, squats, deadlifts, bench press, etc. Unlike bilateral exercises, unilateral training offers coaches an athletes a unique training stimulus to maximize performance, increase injury resilience, and even enhance bilateral outputs.

Over time, poor movement mechanics and compensation patterning can lead to inefficient bar paths, overuse injury, and stalled progress. By addressing certain neuromuscluar (movement patterning) and muscular (strength, hypertrophy, explosiveness) with unilateral training exercises, coaches and athletes can better develop and maintain muscle mass, connective tissues strength, and joint integrity.

Below are some benefits and expected outcomes of unilateral training within a sound strength and conditioning program.

Correct Imbalances

A video posted by Marcus Filly (@marcusfilly) on Nov 2, 2016 at 6:46am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Muscular and movement imbalances can affect the whole. By solely performing bilateral lifts like squats and deadlifts, many imbalances may go unnoticed, often “fixed” by the body’s natural tendency to compensate. Those compensation behaviors often lead to overuse injury, movement faults, and muscle weaknesses. Simply adding unilateral training into one’s assistance program can improve potentially harmful muscular and movement based imbalances.

Core Stabilization

Core stabilization is another benefit that unilateral training has to offer. By training unilaterally, we challenge stabilizing core muscles to support the loaded imbalances to promote sound movement patterns. Research suggests that single arm should pressing led to greater muscle activity and core stabilization in the trunk, showcasing the value of unilateral exercises when trying to further develop core strength.

Application to Human Movement

A video posted by Jonerik Murphy (@jemfast) on Oct 27, 2016 at 8:35am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Nearly all athletic movements are done unilaterally. With the exception of formal squatting, deadlifting, and Olympic lifts, foot placement is often slightly off while in open chained environments, such as formal athletics, functional fitness competitions, and endurance training. Despite the sport-specific “need” to be in a unilateral position during weightlifting and powerlifting (assuming one doesn’t split jerk), strength and power athletes can use unilateral training within assistance work to bulletproof their competition lifts and body. The ability to promote sound movement both bilaterally and unilaterally will ensure greater potentials for general physical preparedness and injury prevention.

Decrease Injury Risks

A video posted by TESSA (@chess_tessa) on Oct 17, 2016 at 6:01am PDT

//platform.instagram.com/en_US/embeds.js

Injuries often result from overuse, muscular imbalances, and poor movement. Unilateral training offers coaches and athletes the ability to isolate specific movements, muscles, and joints to increase symmetry of muscular development and movement. By training unilaterally, athletes can better diversify their fitness, attack muscular weaknesses and imbalances, and close the asymmetry gaps that may go uncovered if only training bilaterally.

Improve Muscular Stimulation

Research suggests that unilateral training can promote greater muscular stimulation. Referred to as the “Bilateral Deficit”, research indicated that EMG activity and strength recordings were higher in unilateral limbs when relatively compared to bilateral movements. The ability to isolate and train individual movements and muscles on an unilateral basis could help promote muscular development and growth.

Final Words

Unilateral exercises can be simple modifications from common bilateral movements. Coaches and athletes can implement them within most formal training programs after main lifts to ensure optimal development. By taking the time to address unilateral concerns, coaches and athletes can improve muscular and movement pattern imbalances, potentially prevent injury, and stimulate new muscular growth development.

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.

Featured Image: @marcusfilly on Instagram

The post 4 Reasons Why Every Lifter Can Benefit from Unilateral Training appeared first on BarBend.