Posts tagged strength
Jay's Tips: 5 Things NOT To Do Before Training

When we look at fitness and training at RSG we always try to first look at the science behind any fact that is thrown our way. The problem with doing that nowadays is that everything can be very easily ‘backed up’ by science and sometimes looking at the “facts” just adds to the confusion.

The main issue is that anybody and everybody can voice their opinion and due to the digital world, we live in, we can all see it.

You should eat this but wait…don’t eat it. No, you can eat it but only now whilst you stand on your head with your fingers in your ears.

There’s too much conflicting information out there about what you can and can’t do when it comes to getting in shape. Raw Strength’s goal is to filter out the BS thrown around by the fitness industry and to silence out all the noise so you only hear what is absolutely necessary.

One way to do this is to give you 5 things you definitely shouldn’t be doing before you embark on a training session. Enjoy!

Eating Right Before Training

This one is simple, eating right before a hardcore workout isn’t going to end well for anyone.
How close is too close? This can really depend on how your body has been built; some can literally eat just minutes before training and there are others who need a good couple of hours to allow ‘settling’…to be on the safe side, the general rule is at least 60 minutes. So why is eating right before a session a no go?

Scoffing your face before a training session (particularly carbs) can make you feel sluggish –this doesn’t bode well for an awesome, productive workout. To digest your food properly, you need your blood to be going to the digestive system in order to help break down the food. Once we start training, the blood will head straight towards your muscles, leaving that food you just ate sat right in your gut and of course, not being digested.


Eat Carbohydrates

If fat loss is your goal, eating carbs before training is not the essential that you may have been told. Feeding to fuel your workouts is an individual thing, just like all aspects of nutrition. The idea that you “need” carbs for energy is outdated and just plain wrong. Carbohydrates (as glycogen stored in the muscles) do fuel a large part of our workouts but they are not obligatory pre-training as they tend to blunt the optimal fat burning effect by raising insulin levels.

Does this mean that carbs and fat loss don’t go together? No, it isn’t that simple, but it does mean that carbs pre-workout are usually an unwise decision if fat loss is your goal.


Drink Alcohol

You may laugh at this one but in all seriousness, you will be surprised at how often this happens, especially during the summer. It should be common knowledge that training under the influence of alcohol is a big mistake for many reasons, the most important being due to the higher risk of injury.

Being under the influence numbs our senses, making us much more vulnerable to hurting ourselves or worse…someone else. Alcohol is also a toxin to the body, so as soon as you start to train with alcohol in your system, your blood will start moving around your body, simply helping the alcohol get to other areas of the body quicker.


Static Stretch

To stretch or not stretch? That is the question that seems to be a controversial one in the fitness industry. The answer all depends on the type of stretching. Static stretching before a heavy session has actually been proven to decrease performance and tends to stretch your muscles much further than you actually need them to be stretched.

To prepare your body for a physically demanding training session, dynamic stretching such as hip grinders, lunges and squats has much more of a positive influence on power and muscle strength than traditional touching of your toes. Couple that with some dynamic effort or plyometric work such as jump squats and ploy push ups which will wake up and excite your central nervous system and you will be fired up and lifting more.

Too Much Sleep

If you’re looking to have a training session worth doing, watch out for having too much sleep. Too much resting can cause problems when working out, especially if you wake up feeling groggy and in a rather ‘relaxed’ state of mind.

If you are training in the early morning, ensure your mind and body are ready for it as not only will you not be hugely productive but you also run the risk of injury if you’re half asleep whilst hitting heavy squats and deadlifts. If you really have to hit the ground running as soon as you wake, spend a little time getting warmed up before you get into the heavy stuff.

So there you have it! Go train hard :)

Coffee: The Ultimate Pre-Workout (But NOT Post Workout) Drink

The Facts

There are numerous scientific studies that demonstrate that coffee is a potent ergogenic (a drug with the capability for increasing capacity for bodily or mental labour especially by eliminating fatigue symptoms.) It can increase fat burning during training, heighten an athlete’s ability to perform optimally and improve work capacity.

However, if you drink it post-workout, you will delay recovery and elevate the stress hormone cortisol just when you need to clear it.

This is due to two factors that we should be aware of. Cortisol and the Parasympathetic nervous system. 

Exercising naturally elevates cortisol. If you are training hard enough to trigger an adaptive response then you are exposing the body to an acute bout of stress. 

After exercising you want to do everything you can to help the body metabolise that cortisol so that you get rid of all the metabolic by-products of training. If cortisol remains high, waste won’t be removed, tissue won’t be rebuilt as quickly, recovery will be delayed, and you’ll feel fatigued for longer.

Caffeine has been shown to elevate cortisol, and at the least, its presence in the body will slow the metabolism of cortisol.

But what does it mean?!

To avoid the risk of coffee ruining your recovery, drink your caffeine pre-workout.

Post-workout do the following instead:

  • Take Magnesium to replenish lost electrolytes 
  • Take Vitamin C. As little at 2mg post workout can clear excess caffeine and cortisol thus speeding up recovery
  • Drink Green Tea. Green Tea contains numerous antioxidants that can accelerate recovery and it has not been found to elevate cortisol to the same extent as coffee, this may be due to the l-theanine present in the tea which exerts a calming effect on the body.
  • Finally give your body time to recover before you drink, eat or take anything else…

The Parasympathetic Nervous system

Sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. The Parasympathetic Nervous system is the opposite to the sympathetic nervous system which is linked in part to our fight and flight response, a response that is wide awake when we are working out.

If we want to recover post workout and get the best from our post workout nutrition, we need to spend time moving from the sympathetic nervous system back into the parasympathetic nervous system.

The Meathead myth about a “Metabolic window” is not quite true as actually downing a ton of protein shake and food right after training could lead to more fat storage and wasted energy as your body is still reacting to it’s fight or flight response. Eating 15 minutes later when your heart rate has slowed down would lead to better intake of nutrients and less energy stored as fat. 

So how do we start our recovery process and activate our parasympathetic nervous system? 

  • Pranayama (Deep Breathing): Following your workout lay down and start to breath deeply, 4 to 5 seconds in, hold for 4 to 5 seconds then breath out, again taking 4 to 5 seconds to do so. 
  • Elevate your legs: enhance your breathing by finding a declined bench or wall to put your feet against, practice your Pranayama, this doesn’t “drain lactic acid” or “help with circulation” as the old wives tales would lead you to believe, but it does align your diaphragm and pelvic floor, facilitating better belly breathing and the relaxed position allows you to slow your BPM quicker than standing.

Train hard and recover well,

Live in or near Warrington? This is for you!

We're looking for 20 people that would love to kick start their body transformation on our next '6' in 60 Days' challenge so you can look and feel great in 2017.

All the info (start date, location, cost etc.) is here:



So if you:

- Want to lose 6kg of body fat, gain 6 pounds of lean muscle and absolutely transform yourself

- Want to lift weights and get super strong, really really strong... then we'll help you add at least 30kg of total strength to your squat, bench and deadlift in the gym

- Can train at our New and Improved Gym in Warrington (Birchwood Park WA3 6AX) 3-4 times a week

- Are able to invest £44 per week in massively kickstarting your progress

- And willing to follow an individualised nutrition plan.

... then you might fit the criteria to join our '6 in 60 Days' Transformation challenge.


The best part?

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See more info and JOIN THE EARLY BIRD LIST by clicking the link below.

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Anthony Shaw

Head Coach
Raw Strength Gym, Warrington

We could stop calling it 'weight loss'....


Conditional happiness happens when you say things like:


"I'll be happy when I fit into my bikini"


"I'll be happy when I get a promotion"


"I'll be happy when I bench press 100kg"


The happiness is conditional on you achieving whatever's in your mind.


Therefore, and this is THE most important thing....




Which is what I believe is the entire problem with the phrase:


"weight loss"


^^ what does that even mean?


My grandad always says, if you wanna lose weight just cut your legs off!


But if you want to lose FAT, well that's very different.


And that's where the weight loss industry falls down for YOU as a consumer.


Herbashite and other shake companies, you gotta give them credit.


Their products do make you lose weight.


But only through the same mechanisms that kill people through dysentery.


Drink sugar water and rapidly lose water weight.


'YAY - 7 pounds down in my first week!'


But ZERO health benefits.


I'd like to suggest we start calling 'weight loss' by the more accurate term of:




I'd love to tell people I'm a 'Master of Gains'


I'm the 'Gains Guy'


I'm a 'Gainz Coach!"


Could go on all day :-)


But this term causes you to hold your actions accountable to your health.


'Does this improve my health?' is a much better question than 'does this help me lose weight?'


When we improve the questions we ask ourselves, we improve the answers.




a focus on weight loss triggers a limited mindset.


You will begin to focus on what you can't have any more.


Immediately thinking up ideas such as:


"I can't have my Starbucks caramel macchiato everyday now"


"I can't be lazy, gotta sleep less, get up early and go jogging"


"I can't eat crap, gotta cut back on sugar"


"I can't eat too many carbs, just salad everyday from now on"


Honestly, if you ask yourself "how can I lose weight today?" you'll see similar restrictive answers.


Let's compare that to "how can I improve my health today?"




Subtle difference in question, big difference in how I feel.


Now I'm thinking:


"I could hit the sauna and relax for 20 mins"


"I could grab an early night and read my favourite book"


"I could go for a walk with my girlfriend"


"I could eat some fish, steak and eggs, roast some mediterranean veggies and have a greens smoothie"


"I could carry a water bottle with me and make sure I drink it all before 5pm"


You with me?


Swap the questions


You'll feel different.


Lighter, freer, easier....


Maybe you'll even feel Happier!


Train Hard




"Master of Gains"

Is there a life-force to Fitness?

Are the areas of mindset, nutrition and training linked?


I remember many times where my training and nutrition was perfect. Then knocked off track by a tiny detail.


For example, during my first year of university I was fixated on becoming a professional rugby player.


The study of sports science, the research on strength and conditioning I was doing, it was all very selfishly for my own gain!


I had my meal plans mapped out and printed, stuck to a corkboard in my tiny student accommodation.


I'd priced up lists of foods to go buy from tesco or aldi or asda, depending on the cheapest - so I could afford MORE food, not necessarily keep the price down.


Supplementation; creatine, fish-oil and whey protein powder were diligently ordered and rationed daily.


Hell, I even did the washing up straight after eating (deffo lost that good habit now!).


Training-wise, I ran sprints on Monday mornings alone on the rugby fields, rugby training Monday nights, lifted weights Tuesdays, played on Wednesdays, inevitable hangover day Thursday, lifted again on Friday. Weekends were spent shopping for food and resting up.


Then something happened that crushed my discipline.


I'll get to it in a little while but let's re-focus on the problem for a second.....


I believe that we are all capable of epic levels of organisation and consistency.


I wasn't necessarily on the best nutrition or training plan back then.


But I bloody well did my plan 100% of the time.


That tends to be the difference-maker in fitness: The DOING of the thing.


Even today I'm writing this with some pride, but also envious of my past focus and discipline (gonna get me fired up though and I'll put some systems in play this week, could be good things to write about!).


Why the hell do we all fall off the wagon so easily?


Back to the story.....


So there I am, New Years resolution time 2007....


"I will not drink alcohol all year."




Bet we've all tried that one.


Yet I did it for almost 3 months, and my training got better.


[Side note: Quitting alcohol gave me a strange, clarity of mind and energy that I can't explain and I've never had since.]


So I'd been almost biblically disciplined for 6 months....


Then I went and had a fucking beer.


It was one of those days where all your friends gang up on you to peer pressure you into a night out.


I can even remember getting out my training journal and drawing a big black X through my planned workout for that day.


I got drunk.


Super drunk.


Like, LEVEL 5 'wanting to steal cars' drunk.


Did I get back on track the next day?


The next week maybe?




I relaxed. Lost my edge. Drank every week.


I kept training and eating clean, for sure.


But missed a few training sessions. Stopped taking some of my supplements. After all, it made no difference to my playing ability.


Then.....I got a HUGE shoulder injury. Ripping my rotator cuff and my AC joint apart.


9 months of no playing.


Then I tore my achilles tendon that summer (being stupid and trying to do back flips to impress girls....*sigh*).


It kind of gets me upset when I look back and wonder what I could have achieved.


Even though I'm 99% sure I was too small, weak and slow to play pro-rugby, and I LOVE coaching now, hell, it's nice to dream!




So on a grander scale, if we look at LIFE and everything in it.


Why does a single night out have the power to stop you going to the gym?


Arguably training and drinking alcohol are two different things.


But they are linked somehow.


Losing integrity in one area chips away at the focus you have in another area.


Is it ok to have a cheat day once per week?


I don't know.


For some people it may be a helpful recharging of the batteries.


For others, it could be the beginning of a self-destructive slide.


They'll have a cheat day then skip a few workouts.


I know, I've been there.


So just food for thought today....


Does increasing discipline around nutrition improve training consistency?


Does better recovery (massage, sauna, yoga) and abstaining from alcohol improve focus and mental intensity?


And the big question:


Does laziness in one area creep into all the others?


What do you think?


Train hard.




Raw Strength Gym


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EVERYDAY ATHLETE: Isn't it Obvious?

Here's today's post, food for thought, and hopefully ACTION!


Ever had a conversation with some super clever?

One of those where you have no fucking idea what they are talking about..

...but you nod along and agree anyway!

Like, "hey Ant, what were you talking to Steve about?"

"I have no idea, but I didn't want to seem stupid by asking!"

Well, I'm worried that in fitness we are doing that every day to our clients.

And YOU guys who want to change your lives and get in shape

You're not asking the questions you think are stupid.

This is a problem.

On the one hand we have fitness professionals (fit pros) who are trying to appear scientific to fuel the ego.

On the other hand we have clients smiling, nodding but thinking.... 'wha da fuck this guy on about'

I had a great conversation last week where someone told me...


Meaning; what come's across as obvious to me may not be obvious to the other person.

Here's a list of things that I once thought were obvious, next to the 'stupid question' the client could have asked, but didn't.....

fit pro: Don't eat carbs
client: What is a carb?

fit pro: Ok let's warm up
client: Why?

fit pro: Eat low carb
client: Can I eat fruit?

fit pro: Eat healthy fats
client: Fat's bad right?

fit pro: Let's go deadlift!
client: Won't that be bad for my back?

fit pro: Just grab a protein shake
client: Which protein powder should I buy?

fit pro: I want you to stretch your glutes and hip flexors every day
client: What are they?

I could go on and on....

Make sense?

Coaches in this situation then feel that clients aren't changing, or worse, are stupid and actively opposed to making a change.

Clients feel they will never understand and give up.

All we need (both parties) is the coaching habit.


Recently I read an awesome book called the coaching habit.

As coaches we want to fix people, it's our calling in life.

In fact, most men in a relationship can identify with this...

...and ladies, your man will DEFINITELY have done this....

The lady tells the fella how she feels about something. Rather than listening and empathising, the man says:

"yeah but do this, this and this and it'll be fucking sorted love."

Men are fixers, BUT they should be listening.

Coaches are fixers, BUT they should be questioning.

So the coaching habit book has a ton of questions to ask:

"What do you think the solution is?"

"Why has that happened?"

"What can you see here that could change your opinion?"

"So what's on your mind?"

"How does that make you feel?"

"....and what else?"


So that's half the battle, asking questions. And having a good coach is someone who DOES NOT FIX THINGS.

But we can question ourselves too.

For example, 'How does that make me feel?'

Or my personal favourite from Tim Ferriss:

"If this (thing I'm struggling with) was easy, what would it look like?"

You probably know the answer.

But instead, we are all stuck in a cycle of looking for quick fixes, and coaches offering answers.


Imagine you're back at school, in maths, day one.

The teacher stands at the board and says:

'2+2=4 and the square root of 16 is 4, everyone understand?'

Well, that would be a shit teacher - confusing the kids.

But they don't do that, teachers know the answers but have a process where we DISCOVER them rather than memorise them.

Learning IS the process of discovery, it is how you change your life.

Here's an example of NOT changing my life:

I remember memorising 3 political essays word for word for my politics A level. Yes, my memory is awesome.

But I knew nothing about politics, NOTHING.

I got a B. Can you believe that!

I still know nothing!

On paper I have an education in an area I do not understand.

But in reality, I was allowed to waste 2 years of my life at school 'learning politics'.


If you're stuck, out of shape and want to make a radical change, ask better questions - both of yourself and your coach.

If you're coaching clients, stop fixing their lives, start setting a process in place so they can fix themselves.

And remember, what you think is obvious probably isn't.

But rather than list answers for people to memorise, instead set a process of discovery, ask a question and check the other person get's it.

If you're being coached, ask better questions, just say "I don't understand" over and over again.

Make sure you learn things, rather than copying without query.

Or carry on as you have been, repeating knowledge from fit pros, or getting annoyed that your clients seem to be fighting you

All we have then is a frustrated coach and a client who quits.

Who's that helping?


....and how does that make you feel?

Running is NOT Good For You!

What’s up Raw Strength Fans!

Yesterday we started off a conversation on Surprising fitness truths…



Then read it here >>


Now let’s dive into the second mind bending truth…

** Running is NOT good for you! **


Yes, I know that YOU reading this right now have been running in the past

Maybe even in the past few weeks

You did it to lose weight, right?

But, if your goal is fat loss, and let’s face it for most people thats the prime concern…

Then running is actually NOT helping your goal

It may even be making things worse!


Allow me to explain…


The body wants to be lean

Believe me, it does.

Given the correct diet, exercise and environment, the body will naturally lean out

Meaning = you look good nekkid!

Yet there are a few, if not thousands, of mistakes that you can routinely make that can affect the body burning fat…


Let’s run through the main ones (this will REALLY help you to burn more fat once you get rid of these mistakes)

QUICK NOTE: ALL of these mistakes cause the body to go into a stressed ‘mode’ and in this mode the body will not burn body fat for fuel, but instead run alternative ways of getting energy such as burning muscle (Noooooo!!)…

….or making you crave sugar (so the ice cream you eat can be used as energy)

…And basically the body does this to PRESERVE body fat stores.

Also known as - The Worst Case Scenario!


Here are the mistakes that cause this scenario:

> Not sleeping enough hours (7 minimum)

> Not relaxing enough, or not at all (no quiet time, no meditation, no reading of fiction)

> No conversations with friends (to unwind and decompress the mind)

> Always thinking about work (the body gets ready for battle!)

> Not eating enough (we covered this yesterday)

> Too much cardio work like RUNNING

SO yes, running can and does put the body into a stressed state and for most people…

…Stops fat loss!


Now, I’m not going to say stop running if you love it, because of course it’s better than sitting on your arse watching re-runs of Friends on the TV

What I am saying, is that for your goals of a leaner, better looking body…

Shouldn’t we be looking to OPTIMISE fat loss?


In that case, understand that running causes a stressed state (impact on the joints, increased rate of breathing, increased heart rate, mental pain from ‘the burn’)

This stressed state stops fat burning and the body must recover from the constant, grinding impact of each step 


Compare that to lifting weights, where the movement is relatively slow, controlled and we know exactly how to stimulate each muscle for growth

And we can train the WHOLE body every workout without pounding the joints and lengthening recovery time

Whereas running only really trains the legs (and not all of the leg muscles either)

We can progress the weight week upon week and burn MORE calories every session

Whereas with running, after increasing your distance and decreasing your time…. There ain’t a lot more you can do to progress

With weight training you can change exercises, vary the same exercises, there’s literally an infinite amount of options


To sum up:

> Running is one-dimensional, no real way of progressing for years and years

> Running causes the body to enter a stressed state that takes a while for the joints to recover from

> Running is boring for most people, and is not a life long habit you will maintain

> Running DOES NOT burn fat as well as other methods


So remember, OPTIMISE your fat burning

Don’t just run because everyone else is


Final food for thought:

> If all the bodybuilders, fitness models, magazine muscle men and celebrity fitness trainers recommend that you should be lifting weights and NOT running, as I am recommending, then don’t you think it’s time you lifted weights?!

If so, then email me back and I can explain our body transformation programs in greater detail

The combination of lifting weights, intense conditioning workouts and a scientific, measurable nutrition program (and results tracking) ensures that we constantly get life-changing results for our members

Programs start from £129 per month on Team Tone [Beginner's Fitness & Fat Loss]

And just £199 per month for Lean Girls [Ladies Athletic Physique Coaching] 

….and Built [Mens Strength & Transformation Coaching] 


Email me back to discuss your goals and which program is best suited

OR fill out this application if you’d like to have a FREE consultation call to see if we can help you


You could be 1-2 stone leaner and MUCH stronger, more energetic and happier after the initial 12 week program

This is a program to improve your life, if you want this, INVEST in yourself



> Tomorrow we are going through the THIRD surprising fitness truth


If you currently have back pain, you won’t want to miss this.


Speak soon!

Anthony Shaw

Head Coach
Raw Strength Gym, Warrington 

How Can I Get My Shoulders to Grow?


You know that when you wear a t-shirt, the scrawniness of your bony shoulder joints and meat-free collarbones must really turn heads! Just focus on those curls and you’ll look great at all times, but make sure you pump up the arms 1-2 hours before heading out on a Friday night…..


The reality is: your deltoids are tiny. They look like someone’s wrapped a piece of cling film over a pancake and your traps have gone on holiday (they’ll come back when you get a pair).


So when no one is around and after you’ve had a few beers you silently whisper…‘How can I get my shoulders to grow?!’




How to get disgustingly large shoulders:


Step 1


After you’ve thrown away all your horrible v-neck t-shirts and floppy shoes, start a heavy strength program consisting of deadlifts, squats, bench press, overhead press.


Do one exercise per workout for 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps spread over 4 days a week. Or two exercises per workout twice a week. Jim Wendlers 5/3/1 program is awesome, just do it and stop wasting your time.


Keep doing your basic strength program, or a maintenance version, for the rest of your life. Strength is key to all physical progress. So go get some.


Step 2


Following your strength work on upper body days choose one of the following exercises or something similar:


  1. Clean and press
  2. Handstand holds/press-ups
  3. Push Press


This will get your pressing strength up to par and start building up the deltoids. Train in 3-4 week cycles, focus on strength (3-5 reps) for the first cycle and then hypertrophy (6-8 reps) for the second cycle. Then alternate between the two cycles until big enough to warrant writing your own programs.


Step 3


Now we need to bring your traps back from their extended holiday, so following your strength work on lower body days choose one of the following exercises:


  1. Snatch pulls
  2. Shrugs (any kind, just don’t stick your neck out like a chicken or do ‘circles’. That will make you look stupid and wreck your shoulders)
  3. Clean pulls


Now your traps should be awake! Train using same reps as above (3-4 week cycles alternating between 3-5 reps and 6-8 reps). Some people think that traps should be trained with high volume, rather than doing more reps per set simply increase the weight and get strong first…the size will come.


Step 4


Finally, after your upper body strength + assistance workout has been done, do the farmers walk. This will build some mighty shoulders, a grip of steel and some quality total-body strength too. If you don’t have farmers bars, a couple of dumbbells will do. Just walk up and down for 3-4 sets, I’ll leave the distance up to you.



Try this program for 3 months and eat some quality food and you may be in with a chance of getting some good looking shoulders! Plus you’ll be nice and strong which will help you pursue any goal you like.


Basic strength program + focused assistance work = success


Good luck!


Anthony Shaw

Why You Aren’t Very Strong


Ever wondered why there are girls that lift more than you (no offence ladies!). Well it could be that you are training like an idiot, lets take a look at a few reasons why you aren't very strong...and what you can do about it.

Reason #1 – Spotter Curls


Picture the scene….


“Yeeaahhh, load up that bar bro! It’s all YOU” (as you bench with the ‘spotter’ basically doing a cheat curl)


This happens so often it’s a joke, it must be ingrained in everyone’s minds as acceptable behaviour because I regularly have new clients who I have to reprimand for actually lifting the bar for existing clients who are benching and the bar speed is slowing.


There is nothing worse than grinding through the third rep of a 3 rep max and fighting through the sticking point when some idiot grabs the bar to ‘spot’ you. My friends always have a laugh at my expense when we recall the time this happened to me. I starting swearing and shouting at the offender whilst still lifting. It is very annoying.


Stop doing this! If you can’t lift the weight, lighten up. Be honest and you may just get strong. Counterintuitive perhaps, but lifting weights that are too heavy for too many reps is training (read; programming your body) bad technique, bad mental practice and too much stress on your recovery ability.


Reason #2 – Training to Failure


When training for strength, training to failure is stupid. Lift a heavy weight for many repetitions and your muscles will get tired and motor control will deteriorate. If you continue until failure, your motor control will become so bad that the risk of injury increases significantly. Why risk it?


Training to failure on squats, deadlifts and bench press is a bad idea IF you are training for strength. Always leave at least one or two reps ‘in the bank’ and rack the bar.


Strength is a skill, practice your strength and stay fresh whilst lifting a heavy weight. Blitzing your muscles every session will destroy their ability to recover, instead train often, take little steps and regular breaks and you will get strong. Going to failure is ok on smaller assistance exercises such as curls as the stress on the body is much less.


You should also learn to stop the set when you reach ‘technical failure’. As soon as your technique worsens from your normal, solid groove and turns into a shaky, wobbly, camel-backed rep, you need to stop the set…for the sake of your strength gains as much as for your spine health.

Reason #3 – You don’t train enough


For a long time this was lost on me….


I discovered that if I really need to get strong on an exercise I must train it every day….100 percent of the time, it works every time (thanks Anchorman!).


Now remember what you have learned so far. I do as little as necessary every day to elicit a positive response from my body in my chosen exercise. This is without ‘spotters’ or going to failure and destroying my muscles in the process and taking a week off (which incidentally, was pretty much my old training method).


This, surprisingly, is much easier than you would think. Imagine doing a solid 5x5 workout for deadlifts on Monday, training your other lifts throughout the week and then upping the weights the following Monday for another 5x5 workout. This works! But it just isn’t as effective for strength as doing 2 sets every day for 10 sets per week.


You can literally train twice as much each week if you spread out the training load, this is because you can recover (which is our unofficial reason #4 of why you aren’t strong enough).




1. Lift the weights yourself. Don’t be friends with people who lift the bar when you could have got it yourself!

2. Leave one to two reps in the bank when training for strength, only go to failure on smaller, assistance exercises.

3. Train more often, using less sets per session but more sets per week.


Stop being an idiot, practice your strength, help your body recover and you will get STRONG!


Get your FREE e-book The Ultimate Warm-Up Plan HERE and then sign up to the weekly newsletter to stay updated with all the great info from the blog!

Stay strong


3 Tough Methods for Strength and Size

Here is a little method that I use with my athletes week in week out at the Raw Strength Gym, it allows us to get more reps, more muscle, more strength than anything else.


It’s called the rest-pause method (or cluster training, or ladders) and it’s absolutely brilliant! Basically, you do a set number of reps, take a brief rest (5-10 seconds) and go again with the same weight. Here are my favourite ways of doing this:


1) Strength Rest-Pause


Pick a BIG exercise such as deadlifts, bench etc. and do 3 reps with a HEAVY weight but leave at least 2 reps in the tank, so basically pick your 5RM weight or slightly less. Now rest 10 seconds and aim to do 3 more reps with that same weight. Repeat for 3-5 total sets.


A great way to do more quality reps with a really heavy weight AKA getting crazy STRONG!


2) Dan John’s Hypertrophy Clusters


I got this method ages ago from one of my favourite strength coaches, Dan John (Dan featured one of my articles a while back, you can also read that here).


Pick a reasonably light weight, you’ll be surprised how tough this is, then perform the following reps; 2 (10 secs rest), 3 (10 secs rest), 5 (10 secs rest), 10. Rest for 90-120 secs, add weight and perform another, then rest again, add more weight and get a third cluster set and you’re all done! Oh, and don’t use it on curls.


3) Pavel’s Ladder Method


I use this with clients who can’t do many pull-ups or glute-ham raises, these tough exercises are difficult to perform for beginners as you must start with your own bodyweight, which is often more than people’s strength levels!


Really easy to do, so lets use pull-ups as an example, do 1 pull-up then rest for as long as it took you to do so, then do 2 pull-ups, rest for as long as it took you to do 2 pull-ups, do 3 then rest for 3, do 4 then rest for 4 etc. all the way until you can’t get the prescribed reps. Then take a brief rest and start over again on 1 rep.


Two or three of these ladders will add up to a lot of strength building reps!



These three methods are extremely effective and I’d suggest picking one method and using it for 4-6 weeks with one exercise before trying a different method. So you may start out not being able to do many pull-ups and your training would look like this:


  • 4-6 weeks of ladders, 3-5 times per week
  • 4-6 weeks of rest-pause, 1-2 times per week
  • 4-6 weeks of hypertrophy clusters, 1 time per week


Then start over again and you’d be amazed how much muscle and strength you will have built up, now get thee to thy gym!!

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