A handul of rapid fire lifting tips

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A week or so ago I shot out an email with a handful of rapid-fire dieting and nutrition tips. I got a lot of positive feedback on the format, so I’m back today with some rapid-fire lifting tips…


  • Next time you’re doing leg curls, pull your toes in on the way up, then point them on the way down (like you’re a ballerina). The additional hamstring activation is insane.
  • If you’re competing in powerlifting, or just want to change things up a bit, most of your bench work should have a “one one thousand” pause on your chest. Some touch and go work is fine, but you may as well train how you compete.
  • If you want something to do on your off day’s training, jump on the stationary bike. Stay away from the treadmill, rower or stepmill as they have a much bigger recovery debt than a stationary bike. Try to spend approx. 30 minutes doing some zone 2 work 1-3x per week (zone 2 = about 6/10 difficulty, able to hold a convo for an entire workout kinda intensity)
  • Unless you’re benching well over bodyweight on the bench press, you’re not too advanced for push-ups. And I’d even argue that once you get up above 1x bodyweight bench, there’s still some benefit to push-ups as part of your normal programming
  • Do more single leg work – if you’re a powerlifter or training legs 3x per week, make sure at least one of those days is devoted to single leg work. It’ll keep you healthy and under the bar longer.
  • Unless you move like a picnic table, you probably don’t need more mobility work. Mobility is important, but if you can perform a good quality bodyweight squat and pick up a deadlift, you’re set. Instead of wasting time holding a stretch for 20 minutes go do some real work
  • If you haven’t trained your arms much recently, you should probably devote a minimum of 10 minutes per workout to getting as much volume in as you can. Improving bicep and tricep muscular strength and endurance has loads of positive carryover to elbow health. If anyone slags you, just say you’re doing “elbow health work.”
  • If you’re short on motivation and time and want a really tough but effective workout – go do 100 dips and 100 pull-ups or any kind
  • Next time you’re doing rear foot elevated split squats, don’t elevate your back leg so much. Try it with just a 20 or 25kg bumper plate behind you. Too much of an elevation can put you in an awfully twisted and ming’s hip position
  • Struggling to feel a muscle working during an exercise? Slow it down. Try 3s down and 3s back up. It’ll force you to contract all the way thru without trying to speed thru the hard part. If you can’t control it, you don’t own it. And when you’re doing it, be slow all the way thru, most people sprint outta the bottom of a squat and slow down the top half when trying this first – be slow all the way thru

  • 1 out of every 4 weeks bro the hell out. If you don’t have a comp upcoming or have a lot of years behind you, it’s totally ok to just do some machine circuits, go to failure, hit some drop sets and go crazy. It’ll keep things fresh and give your body a break
  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else in the gym. You’ve no idea what their life is like. The gym and nutrition might be the ONLY thing they care about. If you’ve got friends, a job and friends and family that love you, they’d probably trade places.
  • Don’t stare at girls when they’re deadlifting. It’s creepy. Leave the staring to the professionals who get paid to do it.
  • Speaking of deadlifts – you don’t have to deadlift. Really, you don’t. You don’t have to squat either. They’re just movements that provide a stimulus to a group of muscles. If they hurt, you don’t know how to do them or just don’t wanna do em, that’s fine. Do something else that has a similar effect and work really hard at that instead
  • And finally… there’s pretty much NO black or white certainties in the gym when it comes to exercise selections or ways of doing things. Everything works for a while. 99% of exercises aren’t inherently bad. If you have a good coach and he answers most questions with “it depends” – he’s not copping out. It’s the truth.

Sin é. Another one in the bank. I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy writing them.

Eoin Small