Sometimes busting through a gym plateau just means adding a new twist to your training – but how do you know what to do, and when? Simple – get yourself a dictionary…
Gaining strength and size isn’t always as simple as chucking extra plates on the bar. At some point, you’ll have to embrace different training methods – and that’s when you end up in the rabbit hole of endless websites and ebooks all selling their own systems. What you need, of course, is everything neatly lined up in one place, some sort of A-Z, if you like. And RISING’s got just the thing…
AMRAP As Many Reps As Possible. A set in which the lifter simply hits as many reps as they can without form breaking down. Popularised by 5/3/1, in which every workout (excluding deload weeks) includes at least one AMRAP set, but also a feature of Greyskull and other programmes. As Many Rounds As Possible. A workout format popularised by CrossFit in which the lifter does as many rounds as possible of a circuit of moves in a set time. Classic CrossFit WOD ‘Cindy’, for instance, is an AMRAP of five pull-ups, 10 press-ups and 15 squats, done for 20 minutes.
Bro Split Training regime in which the lifter tends to hit each muscle group once per week, distinct from a body part split in that particular emphasis is given to arms and chest, and not enough precedence is given to leg day. Not necessarily a bad way to train, but sub-optimal for the beginning or intermediate lifter, who could make faster gains by hitting each body part two or three times a week. Often based on the (mistaken) idea that using the isolation-heavy routines of Mr Olympia contestants (who have years of strength training experience and often a backup steroid habit) will have the best results for beginner lifters.
Cluster Sets Sets done with short, in-built pauses, usually taking around 5-20 seconds. A typical ‘cluster’ might be a set of 2-2-2-2 reps, making a total of 8 reps, with 10-second pauses in between them. This allows for extra volume at a heavier weight than would usually be possible. Sometimes used to refer to rest-pause training, though technically slightly different.
Death Set A set done to failure or near-failure, typically for a compound, full-body move like the deadlift, squat or bench. A death set will typically be the last set done for that move – or possibly for the day – and is done ‘to the death’, or all-out. A good example might be deadlifting a weight that you’d typically expect to get for 10 reps, but aiming for 20 or more, ‘resting’ at the top of the move with the bar still in your hands. A closely-related concept is the 20 Rep Squat programme.
EMOM Every Minute On The Minute. A style of training popularised by four-time CrossFit Games champion Rich Froning, in which the lifter completes a prescribed number of reps every minute, preferably starting ‘On The Minute.’ Benefits include fitting a high volume of work into a relatively short space of time – leading to better conditioning and fat loss – while still including enough rest to allow good form.
False Grip Grip variation for pull-ups, especially done on Olympic rings, in which a lifter wraps his thumbs around the bar, and often shifts his wrists as high as possible. Helpful for muscular activation and essential to mastering the muscle-up.
Girevoy Sport Competitive kettlebell lifting as originally practised in Russia and standardised in the 1960s. The sport consists of three lifts: the snatch, the jerk, and the ‘long jerk’, in which two kettlebells are cleaned from knee to chest level, then jerked overhead. The competition comes in two formats: the biathlon, in which the girevik performs a set of jerks for ten minutes, followed by a set of snatches for ten minutes, and the ‘long cycle’, or performing a set of long jerks for ten minutes.
HIRT High Intensity Resistance training. Mix of cardio/ conditioning and resistance training, aimed at increasing Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption. Techniques vary, but workouts are usually full-body, using a combination of super-sets, tri-sets and giant sets, as well as rest-pause techniques designed to push past the point of muscular failure.
Imaginary Lat Syndrome Condition in which the afflicted lifter walks around as if they’re carrying a rolled-up carpet under each arm, or as if in possession of much larger latissimus dorsi than they actually are. One suffering from ILS is sometimes known as ‘Johnny Phonebooks’.
Judi A slang term for hench, someone strong-looking or muscular. As in: ‘He looks well Judi.’ From acclaimed Brit actress Judi Dench.
Klokov Press A behind the neck push-press done with a wide, snatch grip as popularised by Olympic gold medallist heavyweight lifter Dmitry Klokov. An excellent way to tear something important in your (probably inflexible) shoulders, while admittedly building huge shoulder strength.
Lockouts Moves – typically the squat, deadlift, bench or overhead press – performed with minimal range of motion, often as little as the last inch or two of the movement. Used to work on sticking points, or occasionally to prime the muscles before a max strength attempt.
Meadows Row A rowing exercise variation in which the bar is slotted into a landmine baseplate attachment and then gripped by the sleeve of the bar before being rowed with one hand, typically with straps. Invented and perfected by bodybuilding coach John Meadows, who credits it for much of the detail and size of his enormous lats.
Natty Used to describe a ‘natural’ lifter, or one who has made their gains without resorting to anabolic steroids or other illegal performance enhancers. Often a point of pride or discussion, as in: ‘Bro, I’d rather be 180lb and natty than roided out and 210lb.’
Odd Lifts Exercises used in competitions other than traditional powerlifting or Olympic lifting; including everything from the cheat curl to the two-hands-anyhow. Some organisations, such as the USAWA, keep vast records of Odd Lifts on file, for the lifter who wishes to try the Two-Finger-Deadlift, for instance.
Paused Training Training incorporating a pause between the eccentric and concentric parts of the movement, eliminating any assistance provided by the stretch-reflex of the muscles. Useful for building strength out of the bottom of a movement, but also essential for powerlifters, who are required to pause at the bottom of the bench until the judge gives the command to ‘press.’
Quadratus Lumborum Muscle of the posterior abdominal wall: the deepest abdominal muscle and generally classed as a back muscle. Tight QLs are often the result of excessive sitting down (and inadequate squatting/hip mobility).
Rest-Pause A training protocol in which the lifter does reps to failure, then takes a very short rest (10-15 seconds is typical) before going to failure again, and then repeats the process. This allows more work than a typical set to failure, in less time, but it can be very draining for recovery purposes.
Spoto Press Bench press variation invented by arm-wrestler (and former raw bench pressing record holder) Eric Spoto, in which the bar is paused an inch or two above the chest at the bottom of each rep, to promote tightness and bottom-end pressing power.
Time Under Tension The length of time a muscle is under strain during a set. Some trainers speculate that for size, 30-60 seconds of ‘TUT’ per set is preferable: leading to tempo schemes such as the popular 4020, in which the weight is lowered for four seconds, and raised for two: making a ten-rep set at least 60 seconds in duration.
Unilateral Work Working one side of the body at a time – for instance, by doing Bulgarian split squats or overhead presses with one arm. Not as exciting as squatting the heaviest weight you can, but often the best way to keep the body balanced, improve proprioception, and enhance athletic performance. If your programme doesn’t include unilateral work, it’s likely worth adding.
Variable Resistance Training Another name for ‘accommodating resistance training’, where chains and bands are used to tweak the strength/resistance of a given exercise to increase tension throughout each rep.
Wave Loading Training by increasing and decreasing the weights of several sets in a ‘wave’ pattern, as opposed to the more usual pyramid or ladder: an example might be squat sets of 100, 120, 140, 120, 140. A useful method of getting in more volume at higher weights, since the lifter has a chance to recover between his two heaviest sets. Sets can also be done with wave repetitions, for instance doing squat sets with a 2,3,5,10,2,3,5,10 rep scheme. This is useful for adding volume without increasing the length of the workout or reducing weight, since recovering from two reps with a given weight is obviously easier and faster than recovering from 10.
X Used to signify ‘Explosive’ in a tempo chart, typically for the concentric part of a move. Suggests that the lift should be performed as fast as possible.
Yates Row Variation of the bent-over row in which the lifter keeps their upper body vertical and uses an underhand grip, reducing the pressure on the lower back and increasing the recruitment of the biceps muscles. Popularised by six-time Mr Olympia Dorian Yates, who preferred the move to a more conventional row because of the intense lat contraction it causes.
Z-Press Lift popularised by multi-time World’s Strongest Man winner Zydrunas Savickas, in which the lifter sits on the floor with their legs straight and overhead presses a barbell. Demands huge core strength to keep the weight stable, and eliminates leg drive – not for the faint-hearted.
WHAT NEXT? For an even more comprehensive breakdown, grab yourself a copy of RISING writer Joel Snape’s The Dictionary Of Muscle – then pick one of the above movements or methods (ask a PT to demonstrate the correct form first) and give it a go this week.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care or recommendations. Please check with your Doctor before embarking on exercise or nutrition regimes for the first time.