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Thread: Functional strength training

  1. #1
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Functional strength training

    I used to train fairly regularly but mostly cardio.

    After injury and Covid have sidelined me for a while, I've realised that although I'm now back running regularly, I've let strength training slide.

    I used to do a few sit ups, press ups, pull ups and dips but it's a distant memory - is it just a case of repeating the same old exercises or is there another way?

    Diet tips would be good too. There are lots of running threads so hoping not to stray into that area too much.

    Forgive me if there's already a thread on this that I've missed.

  2. #2
    Grand Master GraniteQuarry's Avatar
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    Lift heavy and protein protein protein - otherwise you’ll not see dem gainz

  3. #3
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    GQ, oh God I may just be a tad past that.

    Mind you, then I watch an interview with Laird Hamilton... and... I still think I'm past it!

    Think I may be the 1.8L Carlton rather than the Lotus version.

  4. #4
    you cant really do much at home at the moment as strength training goes (unless you have a good home gym with plenty of weights ) , i go 3/4 times a week when they are open and have done so for 10+yrs , ive been doing around 1k pressups a week and have lost a lot of strength over the lockdown period not being able to get in the gym.
    you could get you joints and tendons half ready for the gym by doing supersets etc with pressups and changing the position (decline pressups etc) - that way at least you wont seize up when you can hit the plates.
    Last edited by pugster; 23rd February 2021 at 00:03.

  5. #5
    Like a lot of things these days, there's a lot of bull being talked in order to make more Youtube videos or sell the latest course or piece of equipment. But in my view nothing has changed - heavy compound movements are what get the job done quickest and most effectively. So things like squats, deadlifts, chins, rows, bench presses, overhead presses, cleans. The exercises that engage the most muscle groups.

    The problem at the moment of course is that unless you have your own equipment, a lot of this is difficult. You can do an awful lot with a couple of dumbbells, a pull up bar and your bodyweight though. Have you got access to any resistance equipment?

  6. #6
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Thanks pugster, will do.

    @J, am thinking of getting some resistance equipment. My local gym is good but of course closed for now. I try and do a few pull ups after a run using a cross beam but truth be told I've lost the appetite to knock out a few press ups as well.

    I've just started to change my diet away from carbs to protein a little in the hope that it will give me a bit of a boost.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    Thanks pugster, will do.

    @J, am thinking of getting some resistance equipment. My local gym is good but of course closed for now. I try and do a few pull ups after a run using a cross beam but truth be told I've lost the appetite to knock out a few press ups as well.

    I've just started to change my diet away from carbs to protein a little in the hope that it will give me a bit of a boost.
    Going off subject a tad, but you mentioned the running and I wanted to show you this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IQLDlWMl7Q

    Never understood the benefits of intervals before (and the negatives of the alternative) but found this interesting.

  8. #8
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    ^Think I have been missing a trick - had no idea it was that important. Very good to know.

  9. #9
    Just before this lockdown and not wanting to go to go back in the gym, I decided to get my own weight set up to start doing full body training to build back up my strength. You donít need to go mad, but basics such as bench/squat rack, weights etc and you can then pretty much do the 5 fundamental strength exercises. I have really enjoyed doing the basics than all the machine/cable exercises.

    Diet wise, get to know your TDEE and macros, really simple and gives you a clear plan around your food intake.

    Good luck

  10. #10
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    ^Cav, thanks a few things I can Google there. TDEE is new to me.

  11. #11
    Once you understand your TDEE and macros use an app like my fitness pal to track food and macros. Takes all the guess work out of it and helps make you accountable for what you put in your mouth.

    This is a pretty good calculator and goes into getting macros right. https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/mac...calculator.htm

    Good luck

  12. #12
    I was purely focused on powerlifting for many years, but got a bit bored of it, so have switched towards more strongman type of stuff, which has done me a lot of favours during lockdown as it's much easier to do a lot of work with only a few pieces of equipment. During lockdown I devised a three day routine to keep it fun and manageable for myself. I got quite a bit stronger during the first lockdown, which actually made me alter my regime in the gym as well.

    At the gym my main focus for a while now has been log pressing, which works a lot of the body, including the core, stabiliser muscles, etc. but a full size log is too unwieldy to keep at home, so instead I got a sandbag (filled with 80kg of kiln dried sand from the builder's yard) and I just do as many reps of deadlifting it off the ground, squatting with it and standing straight up while hugging it against my chest. I do that for an hour and pretty much every single thing in my body gets exhausted, my quads and glutes burn, the back is tired, arms ache... the full works.

    The second day is focused almost entirely on single dumbbell clean and press/circus press. I have a a few dumbbells, but really just one would do. I do sets of 10 and aim to do 70 per side. Again, most of the body afterwards feels like I've been in a fight. The weight needs to be at the limit of what you can do for reps though, as otherwise it's just cardio.

    Third day, I do bench and various accessory lifts. I only have 40kg dumbbells, so I can only keep adding reps and speed, but again, sets of 8-12, for 6 or 7 sets, you really feel it. Then I do rows, lat raises, curls, etc. to hit all of the smaller muscle groups which respond well to high reps.

    This method improved my peak strength at the gym as well, but has also significantly improved my endurance and recovery rate (Anything above 5 reps per set I used to consider cardio!).

  13. #13
    Forget the exercise....are you still doing that fantastic artwork for Marvel?

    (I do barbell clean and press for multiple sets and 6-10 reps and this wipes me out - I'm breathing like like a racehorse afterwards! Your regime sounds like an absolute killer)


    Quote Originally Posted by adigra View Post
    I was purely focused on powerlifting for many years, but got a bit bored of it, so have switched towards more strongman type of stuff, which has done me a lot of favours during lockdown as it's much easier to do a lot of work with only a few pieces of equipment. During lockdown I devised a three day routine to keep it fun and manageable for myself. I got quite a bit stronger during the first lockdown, which actually made me alter my regime in the gym as well.

    At the gym my main focus for a while now has been log pressing, which works a lot of the body, including the core, stabiliser muscles, etc. but a full size log is too unwieldy to keep at home, so instead I got a sandbag (filled with 80kg of kiln dried sand from the builder's yard) and I just do as many reps of deadlifting it off the ground, squatting with it and standing straight up while hugging it against my chest. I do that for an hour and pretty much every single thing in my body gets exhausted, my quads and glutes burn, the back is tired, arms ache... the full works.

    The second day is focused almost entirely on single dumbbell clean and press/circus press. I have a a few dumbbells, but really just one would do. I do sets of 10 and aim to do 70 per side. Again, most of the body afterwards feels like I've been in a fight. The weight needs to be at the limit of what you can do for reps though, as otherwise it's just cardio.

    Third day, I do bench and various accessory lifts. I only have 40kg dumbbells, so I can only keep adding reps and speed, but again, sets of 8-12, for 6 or 7 sets, you really feel it. Then I do rows, lat raises, curls, etc. to hit all of the smaller muscle groups which respond well to high reps.

    This method improved my peak strength at the gym as well, but has also significantly improved my endurance and recovery rate (Anything above 5 reps per set I used to consider cardio!).

  14. #14
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    ^I'm with Shane, Adi.

    I hope that after every workout you do the Ironman signature pose on the floor.

    Like the idea of using sand (albeit at much lower weights for me).

    The reason I was injured was a lower back bit of stupidity in the gym.

    Anyway, the reason I mention it is to ask whether any of you are careful not to overstress your lower back while still pushing hard to get stronger - is it possible to do both safely?

  15. #15
    I am still doing Marvel stuff, albeit almost entirely movie work for quite a while now. I think I did only 3 or 4 comic covers all last year.

    As for the lifts, the sandbag has been a revelation. I panicked during the first lockdown thinking I would lose all of this hard work I put in over the years, but changing it up from the strict gym routine has only been beneficial. As with anything, sticking with it and consistency is key, so as long as you do something, and it's fun and makes you feel good, it's going to be beneficial (except for heroin, don't do that).

  16. #16
    Although you cannot completely prevent injuries you can minimise the chances by taking as many precautions as possible - warming up properly, mobility/activation and as many light sets as is required before the heavy ones.

    I injured my back in 2000 doing heavy squats - it took two weeks of rest and anti-inflammatories to put it right. Nowdays the only exercise I do that 'could' injure my back because of the nature of the movement is bent over barbell rows, so I make sure that I take my time getting into position and ensuring that my core is tight and back is flat and body is locked. So if you're doing anything that you fear might compromise your back, make sure you know exactly what technique is necessary to do it as safely as possible and don't be afraid to start really light and build up from there.

    You asked about functional strength training but would this be in general or to help with your running? If you do a lot of running and this is your main activity, there's no point packing on muscle mass. A routine similar to what Adi does might be beneficial as it would condition the whole body and help your cardiovascular system, which would give you more strength for running.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    ^I'm with Shane, Adi.

    I hope that after every workout you do the Ironman signature pose on the floor.

    Like the idea of using sand (albeit at much lower weights for me).

    The reason I was injured was a lower back bit of stupidity in the gym.

    Anyway, the reason I mention it is to ask whether any of you are careful not to overstress your lower back while still pushing hard to get stronger - is it possible to do both safely?

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by adigra View Post
    The weight needs to be at the limit of what you can do for reps though, as otherwise it's just cardio.
    I'm not convinced that's the case, or the most effective way to train, at least for most people (although after another read I am probably misreading your intention and apologise of that is the case - as you have stated for reps) ; especially those that aren't experienced lifters. Research shows consistently that hypertrophy (muscle adaptation/growth) takes place at a much lower weight compared to a one rep max than strength training. Of course over time a larger muscle will usually always be stronger than a smaller muscle (at least within the same individual provided they still have the same ratio of muscle fibres by type).

    Around 65%+ as an absolute minimum of one rep max should be sufficient to stimulate muscle growth, provided you have adequate protein to be in a positive nitrogen balance, and in Muscle Protein Synthesis. I would generally train heavier sets between 70% and 85% of one rep max, which are much more comfortable at the lower end of that scale and much less prone to injury than lifting close to maximum weights/efforts.

    After diet, and then the training weight, intensity and progressive overload are the key factors. You can slowly increase the weight, but at some point it will reach a limit - you can then reduce the time between resting, increase the reps (if you can and they aren't too high already), or increase the volume (add more sets) - a mix of all of those factors, either together or at different times in your progression is going to be key to continue making improvements, or gains, or just offsetting decline.
    It's just a matter of time...

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    ^I'm with Shane, Adi.

    I hope that after every workout you do the Ironman signature pose on the floor.

    Like the idea of using sand (albeit at much lower weights for me).

    The reason I was injured was a lower back bit of stupidity in the gym.

    Anyway, the reason I mention it is to ask whether any of you are careful not to overstress your lower back while still pushing hard to get stronger - is it possible to do both safely?

    Coincidentally I tweeked my lower back last night being a little careless with bent over rows. Good form is important with all exercises, but particularly so with anything related to the lower back. For what it's worth I think shying away from working the lower back is a mistake because it's made up of muscles just like everything else. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. What was the piece of stupidity that precipitated the injury?

  19. #19
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Good question. I've had to think hard about this as you're right, there is a compromise to be had.

    There are some goals I have that will require good core strength as well as good cardio. So the strength training is an end in itself. I don't mind if it slows my running a little.

  20. #20
    Yeah, I think I could've made it clearer. I meant for reps, as in sets of 10 reps x 5, so 50 reps with no more than a few minutes rest in between. That will probably work out to be no more than 70%-ish of the one rep max weight, if that. I tend to stay away from any kind of one rep max stuff. It's good for the ego, but I pay for it with pain.

  21. #21
    There are lots of core exercises you can do with just your bodyweight - personally I prefer the ones where you are actually moving (as opposed to static holds like planks). I do a lot of walking lunges, reverse lunges from a platform, split squats - all of these will hit your core as well as the posterior chain muscles (plus quads of course) and you might consider these yourself as they are safer for your lower back and will help with your cardio-v system.

    Do you have a park you can get to which has pull up bars and parallel dip bars? It's another option and these two exercises will really help your upper body.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    Good question. I've had to think hard about this as you're right, there is a compromise to be had.

    There are some goals I have that will require good core strength as well as good cardio. So the strength training is an end in itself. I don't mind if it slows my running a little.

  22. #22
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jdh1 View Post
    What was the piece of stupidity that precipitated the injury?
    Heavy bag work.

  23. #23
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shane View Post
    Do you have a park you can get to which has pull up bars and parallel dip bars? It's another option and these two exercises will really help your upper body.
    OK for pull ups, I have tried to get into those after a run to help decompress. Parallel dips might be a problem unless I could use furniture as a way around it. Would chairs work?

  24. #24
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adigra View Post
    Yeah, I think I could've made it clearer. I meant for reps, as in sets of 10 reps x 5, so 50 reps with no more than a few minutes rest in between. That will probably work out to be no more than 70%-ish of the one rep max weight, if that. I tend to stay away from any kind of one rep max stuff. It's good for the ego, but I pay for it with pain.
    OK that's a good guide. I'll be taking it easy at the start as I'm no longer able to shrug off injuries like I used to.

  25. #25
    Chairs might not be possible....they've never worked for me. What you could do is get a couple of yoga blocks and place them shoulder width apart; elevate your legs on a footstool or low chair and do push ups this way. You can then double up with the blocks to increase the stretch but make sure your front delts are warmed up properly - do regular push ups first.

    Quote Originally Posted by AlphaOmega View Post
    OK for pull ups, I have tried to get into those after a run to help decompress. Parallel dips might be a problem unless I could use furniture as a way around it. Would chairs work?

  26. #26
    I donít like gyms much, too many prancing around checking themselves out in the mirror. Iíve been doing this - https://www.bemilitaryfit.com/ - for about 4 years and really enjoy it. Mostly HIIT with Kit classes mixed in. I top it up with running. My strength and stamina has improved greatly. I prefer being outdoors in all weather plus I like the competitive element as this pushes me to go further and harder.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by adigra View Post
    Yeah, I think I could've made it clearer. I meant for reps, as in sets of 10 reps x 5, so 50 reps with no more than a few minutes rest in between. That will probably work out to be no more than 70%-ish of the one rep max weight, if that. I tend to stay away from any kind of one rep max stuff. It's good for the ego, but I pay for it with pain.

    Thanks Adi. Agreed, and I did think that after I had re-read your post, but had already thought about what the best rep ranges/effort/etc. would be for most, so again apologies if my post came across too strongly in response to yours.

    I am finding that I'm getting just about as much benefit from a slightly lighter weight and higher rep range, without the wrist pains etc. in the heavier weights - early days though so I would expect a great initial response, as I have gone from approx. one weights workout per week on average (minus lockdowns) over the previous 18 months to five in recent weeks. On my higher rep work outs I'm also stopping approx. 2 reps away from absolute failure, which enables me to cut down on the rest between sets, and increase overall workout volumes - also less CNS stress and better recovery for the next days workout.

    Cheers
    It's just a matter of time...

  28. #28
    Grand Master AlphaOmega's Avatar
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    Well, as a result of this thread I'm going to order a couple of yoga blocks and will pick up some sand.

    Small steps but could make a big difference.

    Also, thanks for the PM.

  29. #29
    BTW, this is the bag I got. It's quite different in shape from the ones I was used to at our gym as it's more round, thicker and shorter. Took some getting used to, but it is really strong and well made. And yeah, kiln dried sand... At our gym they used normal sand and the bags slowly got lighter as it dried out.

    https://www.strengthshop.co.uk/doubl...andbag-v2.html

  30. #30
    Master mindforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pugster View Post
    you cant really do much at home at the moment as strength training goes (unless you have a good home gym with plenty of weights ) , i go 3/4 times a week when they are open and have done so for 10+yrs , ive been doing around 1k pressups a week and have lost a lot of strength over the lockdown period not being able to get in the gym.
    you could get you joints and tendons half ready for the gym by doing supersets etc with pressups and changing the position (decline pressups etc) - that way at least you wont seize up when you can hit the plates.
    Disagree, I have been keeping training going with kettlebells and a pullup bar. Had the opportunity to test strength in a hotel gym over the summer and could still pull over 160kg deadlift without problem so it's working. Can't see myself going back to the gym ever although I do miss deadlifting so might get a bar one day.

    Sent from my IN2023 using Tapatalk

  31. #31
    Master mindforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adigra View Post
    I am still doing Marvel stuff, albeit almost entirely movie work for quite a while now. I think I did only 3 or 4 comic covers all last year.

    As for the lifts, the sandbag has been a revelation. I panicked during the first lockdown thinking I would lose all of this hard work I put in over the years, but changing it up from the strict gym routine has only been beneficial. As with anything, sticking with it and consistency is key, so as long as you do something, and it's fun and makes you feel good, it's going to be beneficial (except for heroin, don't do that).
    Which sandbag do you use and where did you get it from? I fancy doing that over the summer.

    I swing a heavy sledgehammer against a tire buried in the ground and that's a great workout.


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  32. #32
    Master mindforge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mindforge View Post
    Which sandbag do you use and where did you get it from? I fancy doing that over the summer.

    I swing a heavy sledgehammer against a tire buried in the ground and that's a great workout.


    Sent from my IN2023 using Tapatalk
    Ah just seen your bag above, good shop, I have bought stuff from there before.

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