RACHELL DURDEN'S FIT CLUB

Calves to Cows

Although some folks have a genetic “advantage” given their muscle length and tendon’s insertion points, your genetics are not a good reason to have calves instead of cows….you might be training them incorrectly or even avoiding them all-together “because they will never grow”. I promise you have not “tried everything” or else you would not be making excuses.

Acknowledgement + understanding + application = growth. =)

Understanding the calves: you have 2 major muscles - Gastrocnemius (upper) and Soleus (lower) a 1 smaller muscle - Tibialis Anterior. The calves have slow-twitch fibres (low-intensity; walking) and fast-twitch fibres (bursts; sprints).

Gastrocnemius muscles have that upside down heart shape that really pops when accompanied by a low body fat or when knees are locked. To train these muscles directly, you want to lock your knees to isolate energy to those muscles directly and not bring anything else into play. The Gastrocnemius muscle responds best to HEAVY WEIGHT and LOWER REP due to the number of fast-twitch fibres present.

TRAIN THESE FIRST IN YOUR COWS ROUTINE.

Application: I recommend donkey calve raises and standing calf raises (locked knees; barbell).

Soleus muscles -although smaller- are the most significant muscles of the lower leg so far as width and size are concerned. To focus on the soleus directly, you want to do movements with a BENT KKEE using LIGHTER WEIGHT and EXTREME REP due to the number of slow-twitch fibres present.

Application: I usually do at least 3 sets of 50 on the seated calf raise when I want to hit the soleus.

Anterior Tibialis are often bypassed but let’s not do that! I recommend reverse calf raises with a barbell at a moderate weight and rep.

I have an ENTIRE PROGRAM SPECIFICALLY for LEGS (top to bottom). The training changes WEEKLY and I can guarantee you will see big thangs change if you follow it correctly and ask ANY questions you have so we make sure you are doing the movements efficiently. If you would like a copy, email me today for a discount. =)

"Rachell, I have seen a lot of folks use a toes-in-toes-out method when training their calves. How should I go about doing that?"

Well, you should not! That is a complete waste of time, considering all the muscle fibres there run in the same direction. Switching up toe angle during your training is dangerous because it directly effects your knee and ankle, which can quickly lead to injury. Let’s keep our toes forward the entire time. Now what you CAN safely and effectively do is angle the pressure per inversion (big toes) or eversion (lil toes) while training. This redirects stress between lateral and medial heads.

BPI has always formulated some of the most quality potions in sports nutrition. BEST BCAA is superior to others for a few reasons..top priority to me being that these are a peptide-linked chain which allows for more efficient absorption/rate. One thing I always look for in a BCAA that boasts about their leucine is if I can see it or not. You can spot leucine really easily in your water (unless it is room-temperature, which post training it usually ain’t anything but cold LOL) because it does not break down fully or mix quite as smoothly - there will be a lil layer at the top. While the balance of this BCAA blends perfectly, you’ll get that leucine up top and I love that. it also has Agmatine (!! Never seen this in a BCAA !! Lean muscle !!) and CLA (!! Spared lean muscle / cut excess fat !! ).

BPI has always formulated some of the most quality potions in sports nutrition. BEST BCAA is superior to others for a few reasons..top priority to me being that these are a peptide-linked chain which allows for more efficient absorption/rate. One thing I always look for in a BCAA that boasts about their leucine is if I can see it or not. You can spot leucine really easily in your water (unless it is room-temperature, which post training it usually ain’t anything but cold LOL) because it does not break down fully or mix quite as smoothly - there will be a lil layer at the top. While the balance of this BCAA blends perfectly, you’ll get that leucine up top and I love that. it also has Agmatine (!! Never seen this in a BCAA !! Lean muscle !!) and CLA (!! Spared lean muscle / cut excess fat !! ).

Alternative training + Avoiding injuries

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Greetings! I hope this meets you all well.

Oftentimes, injuries come from either using more weight than you can effectively push/press/pull, using improper form (weighted or not!), or unfortunately in many cases: both. Make sure you can perform every movement you do without weight before you ever get under the bar.

In this article, I want to discuss some alternative movements you can use while recovering from/rehabbing injuries or discomfourts you may be experiencing. These are movements you can do either briefly in place of others in order to strengthen weak links or recover from injuries, or in addition to others in order to add variety to your training.Of course I am not addressing all areas of interest in this single article; however, I have chosen the few that seem to be the most common.

I would like to preface this publication by reminding you that if you are experiencing a level of pain that inhibits regular activities or you feel that you have seriously injured yourself, you are encouraged to contact a medical professional or your physical therapist for proper evaluation and treatment. Although in my personal first- and second-hand experiences I have been able to recover naturally or with certain exercises, I am not a medical professional and therefore encourage you to not discount your discomfourt if you feel you need further help.

I would like to also remind you how important your dietary habits are to your overall state of health, to include mental and emotional in addition to the commonly-praised physical. Details for a healthy lifestyle in this regard can be found in my essay, “Fitness Nutrition” as well as many other articles here.. Please note that eating habits have a great deal to do with how the body responds to fitness before, during, and after effort.

Now for the purpose of this particular essay – below I will outline some of the most common aches and how to recover with another exercise.

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INJURED HOW?

Have you ever heard anybody claim that they “do not squat” because it “is bad for the knees”? I know I have! This is similar to saying I do not pet animals because they always bite me. It is all about your approach. The knee joint is likely hurt by continual, deep bending or hard impact.  

HOW CAN I ENSURE MY FORM IS CORRECT?

Always execute proper form when performing squats and lunges by not pushing your knees over (in front of) your ankles. Focus on the balance and stability of your overall form.

When it comes to the squat, please be sure you form is excellent before you even get under the bar. Wear flat shoes (no raised heel)….The uneven or extra elevation dispositions your center of gravity. Sit back INTO the squat but pushing the glutes back FIRST once you are settled under the bar (grip strong, back/spine neutral, head up, elbows in, ready to walk out if necessary, etc.) instead of bending your knees first. When you bend your knees before pushing your glutes back, you may not realize it (even if watching a video because the timing is very very quick) but your knees generally end up traveling either in, too far forward, or both.

WHAT MOVEMENTS CAN I DO?

One of my favourite squats is the box squat. I love them for beginners as well as seasoned lifters, because you can really easily manipulate your depth per the height of the box and there is a degree of comfourt/”safety” with this set up. Having something to actually “sit” on will generally give you more confidence in sitting BACK versus leaning forward and putting undue stress and weight on your toes/knees. Make sure your box is parallel if not deeper so that you are still practicing a full squat.

You can also try a FORWARD-REACHING LUNGE. This exercise will reduce some of the stress from your knees by activating a bend at the hips, also enforcing a nice stretch for the glutes and hamstrings. Grip a dumbbell in each hand and allow your arms to hang freely to your sides with palms inward. Step forward (watch knees - or else step back if you cannot control your drift) with one foot, slightly bending the knee of respective leg. Bend at your hips and push your butt back until you feel a little tension in your glutes and hamstrings. Your upper body needs to be hovering over the knee of the forward-front leg. Raise your body and return slowly to the starting position. This is very static in nature, so no quick movements.

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INJURED HOW?

Incorrect squatting and deadlifting; weak core; weak links in the posterior chain; overloading; overextension, etc.

HOW CAN I ENSURE MY FORM IS CORRECT?

When doing a routine that focuses on the back, you need to pay special attention to your core as well, as each supports one another and the congruent strength of each will aid in overall performance. This is so much more than “training ab” or doing some fancy leg lifts for the hip flexors, so get into a good dynamic program that addresses your core/lower back directly if you have strength and mobility issues. Read some of my powerlifting articles  (or anybody elses) that directly address form with the squat and the deadlift + variations of each.

WHAT MOVEMENTS CAN I DO?

When performing a routine squat, the weight can easily cause the back to bow or round if you are not careful. Parenthesis People ahahha.Try a BULGARIAN SPLIT SQUAT to make it easier for your body to stay upright if you have this issue. Grip a dumbbell in each hand and allow your arms to hand freely. You will need a bench to your behind, at a comfourtable elevation to place the top of the foot of one limb on the set for support. Do NOT compromise your form when you go into the lunge for this exercise – I mean to say do not allow your body to overlap your grounded foot with the knee over the ankle. Keep your knee parallel and torso straight and upright. Hang arms freely or raise in front of your body, parallel to the ground for added resistance to the exercise.

When doing deadlifts, you are paying great focus to the hamstrings and glutes (although this is a full body movement), but natural fashion bends the spine and can cause injury to the back. Try SINGLE-LEG HIP RAISES to relieve pain from the back, as the spine is kept straight and stabilized during this exercise. Lie on your back, with one heel rested on a bench and the other with leg up in the air – each leg fully extended. Raise your hips from the ground by aid of pressing the benched-heel into the surface, keeping your body a straight line from shoulder to toe. Slowly lower and repeat. Note that this is great for the core, which as mentioned will enhance overall affectivity for the back.

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INJURED HOW?

I remember the first time I felt some discomfourt in this area….it was my left anterior delt region to be specific. I had been learning the sport powerlifting (very fortunate to have had a mentor from day one, before I even knew we were powerlifting) when I identified some light pain when training chest or shoulders. This is somewhat common for folks who have long arms and a standard to somewhat-wide grip on the bench press if not careful. The shoulders are most often needled by this and overhead press movements.

HOW CAN I ENSURE MY FORM IS CORRECT?

I have 2 articles written exclusively for the bench press. Please check those out for thorough information, including photographs.

A minor adjustment (could be weight or volume) to an exercise you are familiar with will enable less stress to a common injury area –the shoulders- without compromising use of the movements all together.

WHAT MOVEMENTS CAN I DO?

The bench press is one of the most popular and well-known upper body exercises used all over the world. While this is a great element of conditioning, the range of motion can very easily make all of the tiny muscles in your shoulders accident-prone if you are not careful. Try a FLOOR PRESS to limit the range of the barbell, resulting in more stability and improvement of your form. This is pretty much the same as a bench press, just lying on the ground as opposed to on a bench ;). Lying on your back, hold the barbell to your chest and press the weight upward. Smoothly restore the bar to your chest, of course only being able to angle your upper arm so far as the ground will allow. This is what allows a limited range of motion that will be consistent for each repetition.

The overhead press used to be one of the most difficult things for me to day, but because of that I obsessed over it and it has resulted in being one of my strongest lifts! Try an ANGLED SHOULDER PRESS to enable less strain on your shoulder by slightly shifting the angle of the movement while still benefiting the same muscle groups. Place a heavy, sturdy plate on the ground, against a wall if you can. Wedge one end of the raw barbell into the hole in the grounded plate. Stand with your knees slightly bent, holding the barbell with one hand in front of your shoulder so your elbow is bent at a nicely squared angle. Push the bar up and away from the body, until your arm is fully extended. Perform slowly.

Did you like this article and would you be interested in reading more about alterative training techniques? Let me know what you would like to learn more about.

Thank you for reading and take care xo
Rachell

Extra glutes/legs staple for Growth

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My top priority while cutting is not dropping fat..it is keeping what muscle I have spent so much time growing. This is why I believe in lifting heavy.
One thing I have started doing is adding this glutes/legs “circuit” 2x a week. Once on my heavy leg day, and again 3 days later on my heavy back day. Folks, the glutes an legs are not areas to “tone up”….they are areas to make bigger, stronger, and more functional. Use WEIGHT as heavy as you can effectively can.
I chose 35s for a total of 110# today. Seems light, but this is a NO REST circuit so trust me when I say that weight gets heavy fast. Use a free barbell not a machine.
01:00 back lunge (left leg) with leg lift
00:30 pulse lunge
01:00 back lunge (right leg) with leg lift
00:30 pulse lunge
01:00 full squat
00:30 pulse narrow squat
00:30 pulse wide squat
If this is your first time doing something like this (let alone these movements at all), try a round without weight to establish you stability and form. Make SURE that before you add weight, your form is perfect. No rushing through this despite it being a timed circuit. Enjoy!

Powerlifting: Improving Your Bench Press, Part II

Hello!

You may be thinking, “there are too many articles about how to improve my bench….why would she publish another?”, but I am the type who learns best by practice and repetition. Maybe some of this is redundant, but that should let you know how relevant it is.

If you missed my first article, I went into greater detail than I will here, mostly about form and sprinkling a little over techniques. Although some notes are bench-specific, these concepts easily carry over to any lift. Enjoy!

+ Concentrate. Nothing else matters when you are under the bar. If something else -ANYTHING ELSE- is on your mind, then you need to go home.

+ Focus on one thing at a time.
Are you looking to grow right now, or cut? If you want to add mass and get stronger, TRAIN THAT WAY. Eat enough to actually support growth, and drink your water to keep your body clean and optimal. Reduce your cardio to preserve energy for strength training. Food = calories = energy….if you are trying to cut AND increase muscle mass and/or numbers, your body is going to have a hard time deciding which goal to honour because they definitely conflict. Pick a goal and focus….longer than a week, too, because if you keep switching it up week in and out, you are going to keep hitting walls.

+ Execute your presses correctly.
Obviously, right? Not so much….I know you have all seen it before. The way you set up your entire body before you even touch the bar is important, but also while executing the movement. Bring the bar just below your pecs (touch…no quarter bench unless you are burning out, isolating lower end (see note: pulse presses/half reps), or obviously if board pressing) so to not injure or strain shoulders.

+ Rest between sets, but stay warm.
When I am training for gains, I rest at least 3 minutes between heavy sets. This is a completely different concept from when I am cutting for a few reasons, namely a shorter rest period to keep my heart rate blazing and body burning calories. Otherwise, I rest 3-5 minutes. I want all my calories when growing so I am not jumping around during my rest periods - I instead stay warm by wearing layers. In the few years I have lifted, I have never worn a sleeveless shirt to the gym. I always always always wear long sleeves and/or hoodies in order to keep my body warm and muscles fluid.

+ Do not bounce the bar.

+ No suicide grip.
Need I say anything else? Wrap your thumbs AROUND the bar. Do not put your thumbs alongside your other fingers. Grip is extremely important for safety.

+ Do not train your body incompletely. The bench is not “just” about your chest.
This is another one that may seem “obvious” to many of you. This all goes back to proper form and technique. You would know right away that the bench press is not all about the chest if you know how to set up under the bar. Train your upper back, glutes, and core to be tight, table, and to draw in and stay grounded. Your shoulders and triceps play a big role as well, particularly as your change your grip distance. Educate yourself on proper form so that you are not of those folks welcoming injury by executing your movements incorrectly.

+ Log your training.
I do not necessarily do this AT the gym, but I will make notes afterward while I am eating. I scale my strength from 1-4 (I keep it simple like that so I can easily relate progress later on….1: poor/weak, 2: moderate, 3: strong, 4: powerful, usually hit a personal record) and will note any weight or volume changes. Again, I keep this simple and to the point so that I can quickly cast an eye on it later when I need to.

+ Use chains.
Chains are excellent to capitalize on your lockout and explosive power on the return, making chains a good addition for your speed training days. Conventional bench presses do not add anymore resistence or weight throughout the phases of the movement (although it might feel like it) so this is definitely a ticket to overcoming stick points on the upper end.

+ Floor press.
I tend to struggle a couple of inches from my chest on the return, so floor presses are an accessory lift I do every week. Lie on the ground in the power rack and lower elbows to the floor, then explode to the top. I sometimes do these with free weights also. If your lockout needs improvement, set your pins to that very-most upper end and blast out reps within that range. Again, change up grip distance to condition all supporting muscle groups for a better quality lift.

+ Board press.
Board pressing is my favourite thing to do. You can overcome absolutely any stick point with the use of boards because you are limiting your range of motion to whichever phase of the press you want. I tend to use the 2-board most often (like I mentioned, my stick point tends to be right off my chest). Overload the bar as you are generally afforded the ability to use more weight.

+ Pulse press/half rep.
Use a moderate weight (50% full bench is what I do here) and perform “half reps”. Bring the bar to your chest, but instead of locking out, about halfway up the return, stop and bring it back to your chest. Blast out reps until you burn out - this always gives me a good pump. If you are not lifting with a shirt, you have got to develop dynamic power and endurance for every single phase of your bench, and I find this to be a really effective technique.

+ Breathe.
Well….

Thank you for reading - have a wonderful and safe weekend. Take care!

Rachell

Powerlifting: Improving Your Bench Press

Hello!

Before I get into the content of the article, I want to preface with a couple of things….. if you are not a competitive powerlifter or even interested in the sport, this does not mean you cannot benefit from this information. I included “powerlifting” in the title of the article and its’ corresponding video for a couple of reasons. When I first became invested in lifting and began taking my lifts seriously, I had the privilege and pleasure of being mentored by somebody who already had an extensive background in powerlifting. Because of this, the methods and techniques I was learning and growing with are those made popular in the sport of powerlifting (often referenced).

Thanks to Bob Doll (whom you will find bench pressing 405# later in the article), I consider myself fortunate to have learned properly the first time around. What if you did not? Stay tuned. ;)

Let’s talk about the Bench Press. I am not getting into anything too fancy here – I just want to capitalize on the most important component to any movement, with specific regard to one of the oldest lifts in the books.

The bench press is an upper body exercise that zones in on developing the chest while engaging supporting muscles, such as the deltoids, trapezii, and triceps to name a few. You can change up the grip width in order to recruit more/less emphasis on particular muscles – the wider your grip the more your chest is open and engage, thus the closer your grip the more your triceps are engaged. 

If you are anything like me, your Bench is the weaker link of your powerlifts. I catch myself saying I do not like to press weight, but that could not be further from the truth. The statement really stems from that voice in my head telling me I am not putting up as much weight as I should in comparison to my other lifts and what I think my capabilities are. The truth of the matter is, I need to work harder and spend more time doing what challenges me the most.If I could break my personal records on the deadlift every couple of weeks, why could I not budge on the bench?

Louie Simmons (Westside Barbell) mentions the following in one of his many helpful discussions,

"If you are strong in one record, you will break any other record you want to break. It is all a cycle. It is all in your mind. Everything is a dream….. my dreams turn into nightmares *laughs*”

I got to thinking about improving my bench numbers by making simple corrections if I needed to, or paying closer attention to the basics of lifting. You can also change up your training program by adding speed or board press days and expanding your assistance movements as needed, but let’s talk about that technique later. I want you to think about your set up and form right now.

Quickest way to get your numbers up is to start correctly before you even think about adding weight. As I was just telling a friend earlier this morning, you could be bench pressing feathers for all I care as long as you are doing so with proper form never compromised. When you learn to call somebody by their name and have known them for a long time, it would be really hard to change the way you address them. The same goes with your form when you are learning how to lift or correcting your current mistakes. While it might be hard to change, it is never too late. Do not be too humble to recognize what you need to improve. ;)

Answer these questions to yourself:

  • Where are your feet, and what you are doing with them?
  • What are you doing with your shoulders?
  • What are you doing with your back?
  • Where are your wrists in relation to your forearms and the barbell?
  • Where are your glutes?

****Do you learn better by SEEING? Skip the text and scroll down to the photos****

Your feet should be grounded if possible (reason to not be might be hip injury, etc. You could put your feet on the bench, and this will generally be harder than if they are flat-grounded). DRIVES YOUR HEELS INTO THE GROUND. You absolutely have to drive into the ground.

Your shoulders need to kiss together in the back the *$(% best you can. I call it a lateral arch and it pisses people off, so for those of you who get sensitive about me or anybody else telling you to arch your upper back, then consider it retracting your scapula and thus flaring your chest. This will activate your pec muscles much more than having a flat back.

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As you could have guessed and gathered from the position of your shoulders, your back needs an arch. You do not have to be like Lamar Gant (photographed above), but having an arch in your mid to upper back to give a solid base and driving foundation for a successful press. Pulling your shoulder blades together and arching your back is going to limit the range of motion, which could ultimately be the few inches difference in completing a lift or not.

Your wrists need to be in line with the barbell. If you really insist on suicide grip (look it up if you are not familiar with it), you are not only risking loss of control over the lift, but you are compromising the engagement of muscle(s) used in the lift. Do not rev the barbell like a motorcycle, because if you are stable and in good form to begin with, you are not driving away anywhere at this point. STAY PUT. Squeeze the bar hard. The wider your grip on standard bench, the better. Again, this limits range of motion.

Your glutes are staying put…. keep them in contact with the bench at all times. I see this often: guy has the sleeves loaded and gets on the bench. He is all wired up wiggling around like a worm. He pulls the bar out and brings it 3 inches from his chest (yep, that guy who does not even try to do an entire lift. He is probably doing quarter squats afterward.) Here is the fun part….. he lifts his body from the bench - squeezing his glutes and using that muscle group to what he thinks is his advantage for the lift. Not only will you destroy your back, but you are nowhere near proper form for a lift worth a thing in the world. Like I said before, the weight does not matter if your form is awful. Glutes stay put, period.

My friend Bob (whom I mentioned earlier) shared a photograph with me to use on the column. The only note he wanted to further make here is that he did not have a spotter in the picture, as they were photographing the lift. Use a spotter when you need one.

Bob, I drew all over your picture and hope you do not mind. This is for the folks who do not want to read a lot or learn better visually. Fancy lift!

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A popular training technique in powerlifting to increase your bench press beyond improving your arch is the use of bands and chains (shout outs to Westside Barbell again). The accessories make the press more difficult toward the lockout as the bands are stretched or the chains are loaded from the floor onto the bar. This added resistance was key for me to developing that explosive power when I could not seem to improve my press.

In addition to the use of bands and chains, boards and speed bench, you can change up the angle of the bench to target various supporting muscles. No muscle is every really isolated in a movement. People tend to think bench relates to “arms”, squat relates to “quadriceps”, and deadlift relates to “back”. These are all seriously generalized concepts that are far too limited to actually be true. Simply due to the anatomy of the human body, your muscles are always working together during any movement. Add weight and resistance to the equation and you are recruiting even more proximal and distal mobility/stability. Decline bench for lower pectoralis major, and incline bench for anterior deltoids and upper pectoralis major.

Not to keep kicking the dead horse, but I wanted to include some information from a successful powerlifter before closing.

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Louie Simmons and A.J. Roberts, Westside Barball. Photograph: wannabebig

Westside Barbell’s own A.J. Roberts is a remarkable example of what you can do when you work hard and train correctly. A.J. really emphasizes the importance of form on the bench in the following statements:

"There are two ways to set your feet. One is tucked up underneath you, which you see a lot of guys do. I used to do this, but what I found was that it was pretty unstable. If you get to rocking from side to side, it’s hard to keep your balance, so I have my feet out in front of me, basically creating a solid base with my feet. The whole part of the press starts with a foot drive, pushing the heels into the ground. Once you have that solid base, you shouldn’t be able to move anything. You should be rigid.

You have to create what I call a platform shelf that you bench off of. When you bench press, you need to squeeze your shoulders together and make sure your upper back is completely on the bench, otherwise you get a lot of shoulder rotation, so you can move your shoulders up and down. What that is going to do is make you lose force through the shoulder when you press the bar. If you have them pinched under you, giving you a solid base with no movement in your shoulders, there is no place for that force to go but through the bar.”

A.J. goes on to discuss more tips and techniques in further reading and video. I strongly encourage you to take time to read articles and watch videos from folks like A.J., who have added substantial weight and improved overall strength just by training a certain way.

There is a lot of information available to you and anyone in the world who wants to become a smart, stronger human being. You do not have to be a competitive powerlifter to use powerlifting techniques and methods. You do not have to be a marathon runner to have a good pair of running shoes. Invest in your fitness and always make sure you are doing everything as properly as possible.

Thank you for reading! Take care

Rachell

All-Time World Record Holder, Brian Carroll, shares his take on the SQUAT

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REPUBLISHED FROM 2011-2012

 While at Pro/Am last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting and watching some absolutely incredible men and women do big things. Of this group of lifters was Brian Carroll, who set an All-Time World Record Squat of 1185lb @ 275lb on Sunday morning. Click here to watch Brian’s squats!

Before I get to the article, I would like to share some information about Brian Carroll, given directly from EliteFTS:

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"Brian has been a competitive powerlifter since 1999, when he broke into the sport with bench-only competitions. In 2004, within a year of his first full power meet, he finished second at the WPC Worlds in the open class as a junior – totaling 2000 pounds. Since then, Brian has recorded numerous top-two finishes, including the WPC Worlds, WPO Finals, APF Seniors and the IPA Pro-Am. For the past six years, Brian has consistently added 90+ pounds to his total each year, going from 1752 to 2700 over this span. Brian is employed as a licensed massage therapist in Jacksonville, FL. - where he owns his own massage and personal training business. Brian enjoys coaching lifters, guiding their training and watching them succeed.

Best official lifts:
220 - 1030 Squat, 633 Bench, 755 Dead - 2375 TOT
242 - 1064 Squat, 785 Bench, 771 Dead - 2570 TOT
275 - 1185 Squat, 785 Bench, 800 Dead - 2730 TOT”
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The following article was written by Brian Carroll, and can be found in the Powerlifting element of the article section on http://www.elitefts.com/ You may click the link “article" to be directed to the publication, where you are able to leave comments. Enjoy!

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"What are the five biggest squat mistakes made by intermediate lifters?

  1. Form. Don’t let the knees shoot forward like you are trying to do some form of breakdancing or some twisted sissy squat. Most of the time, a lifter’s shin to knee will not be perfectly perpendicular. However, you still need to sit your ass back, get depth, and don’t let your knees fall way out over your toes. Sit back and imagine that you’re sitting into a chair, then start to flair your knees as hard as you can and arch your back with your head UP. Continue to do all this as you wait on your up call.
  2. Wide Squats. Squatting too damn wide kills power, inhibits ability to hit depth and leaves you with zero stability. Nobody else on the planet is Chuck V, as he’s one of the best squatters that has and will ever come into the game. With that said, he is built to squat super wide. Chances are…you are not. I like people to start out at a medium wide stance, then go from there. In most cases, they won’t need to go too much wider. Of course, this still depends on many factors, such as build, height, leverages, etc.
  3. High Squats. Don’t chop everything in training three inches high because you won’t be able to get down in the meet and you’ll wonder what the hell is going on. Now, I understand that everyone has trouble with the lighter weight, but once you reach 75%, you should be able to hit depth, or at least parallel.
  4. Looking Down. Don’t glance or stare at the ground while unracking of the weight, or during any part of the squat. Many people have their own opinions. I personally, look up. Almost toward the ceiling, but more so where the wall would meet the ceiling in front of me. When a squat starts to slow midway-up, I really drive my head up, and push my heels through the ground.  A lot of time when the bar slows down, it has a tendency to roll up your back and make you get on your toes. This can cost you a squat that you could have easily finished.
  5. Jell-O Unracks. Get tight before you unrack a big weight. Pay attention to where you are lined up on the bar and your foot placement. Don’t just slam the bar out of the rack because then you’ll either shake all over the place, get on your toes, fall on your heels or drop your chin. You have to make sure to apply some pressure (about 20%) to the bar BEFORE you unrack it. This goes for a walkout or monolift. I like to push into the bar as I’m setting up and do a mental check of body tightness. Once I have concluded that everything is in place, I will then apply the other 80% and forcefully, but under control – rip the bar out of the racks with an arched back and heels pushed through the ground.”
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Brian Carroll is currently training to bring his bench up and to improve upon his best lifts of 1185,785,800 —2730TOT. To follow Brian Carroll’s EliteFTS Training Log, please click here.


Thank you to Brian for the inspiration, tips, and personal permission to allow me to publish this in my column - the moment I saw Form as the first note, I knew I wanted to have this on my page. Proper form and focus cannot possibly be stressed enough when it comes to powerlifting.


Rach




I spent exactly 1 year focused 100% on growing. This is something I needed desperately for any type of development. I could use another year&#8230;.or several&#8230;.but I am ready to compete again and take my place to the next level in this sport so I am going to slice up for a bit before growing again.
I ended 2013 around 155-160# (my last stage weight was right at 128# 1 year ago) with a 25&#8221; waist and somewhere around 41-42&#8221; glutes. Looking for a 22&#8221; waist after this cut&#8230;.my adult waist has never been smaller than 24&#8221; (but I knew then that I was not as lean as I could have been) so this is going to be so much fun to work for and see happen. I know for sure I can do it :) just got to be patient. The immediate glutes is 44&#8221; (basically twice the size of the waist) but I know that goal will constantly get bigger haha! :)
You all take care.

I spent exactly 1 year focused 100% on growing. This is something I needed desperately for any type of development. I could use another year….or several….but I am ready to compete again and take my place to the next level in this sport so I am going to slice up for a bit before growing again.

I ended 2013 around 155-160# (my last stage weight was right at 128# 1 year ago) with a 25” waist and somewhere around 41-42” glutes. Looking for a 22” waist after this cut….my adult waist has never been smaller than 24” (but I knew then that I was not as lean as I could have been) so this is going to be so much fun to work for and see happen. I know for sure I can do it :) just got to be patient. The immediate glutes is 44” (basically twice the size of the waist) but I know that goal will constantly get bigger haha! :)

You all take care.

A lot of folks are unclear of what the word &#8220;intensity&#8221; means. We often associate intensity with what ends up being overtraining and a waste of time. To avoid that, an understanding of how to apply intensity to your training based on your intentions is necessary&#8230;.:) 

With this lil reference I wrote down, be sure to not misunderstand the aerobic as a period without lifting. I will never suggest anybody discount weight training, as it is far more valuable than anything else. 
The key🔑 is to keep weight as heavy (you did not grow squating 135 so you ain&#8217;t going to keep your muscle with it either - keep it heavy) as you can while increasing volume, speed, and lessening rest periods. Incorporate circuits and super sets into your routines and add some cardiovascular a few days a week. 
I prefer sprints and step mill, as those cardios will not only generally shred fat but will preserve lean mass per all the muscular engagement. 


☺ email me today for customized training and nutrition programs or with any questions. Xo

A lot of folks are unclear of what the word “intensity” means. We often associate intensity with what ends up being overtraining and a waste of time. To avoid that, an understanding of how to apply intensity to your training based on your intentions is necessary….:)

With this lil reference I wrote down, be sure to not misunderstand the aerobic as a period without lifting. I will never suggest anybody discount weight training, as it is far more valuable than anything else.

The key🔑 is to keep weight as heavy (you did not grow squating 135 so you ain’t going to keep your muscle with it either - keep it heavy) as you can while increasing volume, speed, and lessening rest periods. Incorporate circuits and super sets into your routines and add some cardiovascular a few days a week.

I prefer sprints and step mill, as those cardios will not only generally shred fat but will preserve lean mass per all the muscular engagement.

☺ email me today for customized training and nutrition programs or with any questions. Xo

Take Advantage of Simple Carb

Did you know that insulin resistance (when your cells become less responsive to insulins action, thus glucose in the blood does not get moved to cells properly) is associated with type ii diabetes? 

Examples of simple carb….

Pop..

Sugary cereal..

🍚White rice..

White pasta..

🍞Bread..

🍟White potato..

🍦🍧Candies, cookie bars, etc. ….

I am not suggesting you avoid simple carb all-together ~ just be mindful of the time you choose to consume them. There are a few anabolic windows that carb would be ideal to consume:

+ Breakfast!

+ A lil complex carb pre-training

+ Simple AND complex carb immediately post-training (ESPECIALLY if you want to grow!)

For a completely customized and comprehensive nutrition plan and/or training program, email me today. 📩RachellDurden@yahoo.com

Seasonal Support + Biceps Tip

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Taking care of your immune system now can prevent trading energy, time, and a lot of money (ahem, antibiotics and other fancy prescriptions) later. I recommend….

🎯 A citrus with breakfast + 2 grams of Vitamin C throughout the day. (daily and protective)

🎯 25-50billion CFU probiotics + enzymes daily for immune support and digestive aid. (daily and protective)

🎯 65mg Zinc for natural resistance. (protective and treatment)

🎯 1tsp-3tsp Colloidal Silver!!!! (daily, protective, and treatment)

🎯 Throat Coat tea to soothe dry, swollen, or otherwise pained pipes. (treatment)

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Seated curls are my favourite direct biceps movement. The extension provides a full, constant tension which is really nice to get every lil fibre involved. I have noticed much quicker size gains since using this movement each week.

 I do super slow negatives and dropets with these..start around 35# and finish with 25#. I prefer to max out with each arm before moving on.

Happy December!

Happy December!

People who know me might say that all I talk about is powerlifting. The truth is..it has been my lifeline for the past few years, and I have no realistic foresight of a future without it. 
Powerlifting translates to every aspect of life and success..it is about so much more than being under the bar or X amount of weight or size. I cannot be a good powerlifter and also perpetually late to work or meetings every day &#8230;ununfaithful in relationships &#8230;unloyal to friends and clients &#8230;lazy at the schoolhouse &#8230;disrespectful to &amp; neglectful of myself &#8230;.etc. I have to always be open to criticism because it will make me better..but I cannot get caught up in what he or she is telling me, because there is a certain level of skill I need to focus that requires me to tune out any negativity (if that is) coming into my skull from the outside. 
Powerlifting has made me a better person all-together. If you feel the same about something you better hold on tight.

People who know me might say that all I talk about is powerlifting. The truth is..it has been my lifeline for the past few years, and I have no realistic foresight of a future without it.

Powerlifting translates to every aspect of life and success..it is about so much more than being under the bar or X amount of weight or size. I cannot be a good powerlifter and also perpetually late to work or meetings every day …ununfaithful in relationships …unloyal to friends and clients …lazy at the schoolhouse …disrespectful to & neglectful of myself ….etc. I have to always be open to criticism because it will make me better..but I cannot get caught up in what he or she is telling me, because there is a certain level of skill I need to focus that requires me to tune out any negativity (if that is) coming into my skull from the outside.

Powerlifting has made me a better person all-together. If you feel the same about something you better hold on tight.

Excuses I frequently hear

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Hi :)

These are some of the excuses I hear over and over again. My response may seem harsh, but that is a result of redundant issues alongside seeing or being an overcoming factor to each.

What (we) say has so so much to do with how (we) behave. I know you do not want to be negative and feeling stuck in life, all because of the comfourt of making an excuse…. so do something to change.

  • + I do not have the time.

  • + It is really hard to eat a certain way with work, family, any my many other invalid reasons.
  • + (“at the gym I belong to”)….the rack is too narrow…. the people there to spot me are awful…. I do not have the right equipment for my sport…. the bars are phoney….

  • + I used to be X or I used to be able to press that X times.
  • + My shirt was too big…. my wraps were too tight…. my suit did not fit right after last night….

  • + My “significant other” does not like me being at the gym so much, so I cannot train.
  • + Man it was crazy..out of nowhere my X started acting up again so I could not get any control over my lifts.
Here is the thing….everybody has the same 24 hours in a day. As you have probably heard before, “somewhere, somebody busier than you is still making time to (lift)”. It is not any more difficult to eat strawberries than to eat blueberries. I get that preparing your meals may take more time but unless you want your body to be a garbage can, I would consider feeding it the food it needs, no matter how much time it may (really does not even) take to prepare it.
First of all, if the gym you belong to is that awful for what you intend to do, get another gym. Hush about it being the only one in town….I have driven 1.5 hours EACH WAY to lift at what I considered the RIGHT gym when I was living in South Carolina….those trips were UNFORGETTABLE. The 3 hours alone in those days afforded me time to take care of ME and to THINK and CLEAR my mind and get EXCITED about having the OPPORTUNITY to train with the state’s finest folks. I only wish I had made more time to go there.

Also, back to the equipment issue - do we even need to go down the road of early powerlifting before the IPF rules system was not even published yet and wraps were up in the air and SHIRTS and SUITS did not even exist?? That in and of itself let alone all the fancy machines and things people hang from like monkeys when all we need has been here for decades.
Next thing….if you “used to” look or perform a certain way that you were/are proud of, why on Earth have you declined and are complaining about it? 
Your shirt is not too big..you are too small. Your wraps are not too tight..relax and get some help.
The significant other deal….been there, hated that. I am not even opening that can of snakes.

Excuses are really easy to make if that is all you focus on doing. Working hard..focusing..honouring your word…that would all be EVEN EASIER but not until you wrap your mind around it.

Take care! xoxo