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Professional Online Coaching, Body Transformations, Tailored Programmes and Competition Preparation for all goals. A Coaching service that you can trust.
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Alex - after a 16 week contest prep leading into the UKBFF West Midlands Championships 2016 - where he placed third and received an invitation to compete at the British Finals. We had to work closely together to achieve his stage condition, which worked very well - getting Alex his first top 3 placement in his second year of competing as a junior bodybuilder. Alex has a big future in the sport and I wish him all the best of luck. It has been a pleasure coaching him from his first prep in 2014 to present.
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Periodisation has stood the test of time for the simple fact that there are so many ways to progress and structure your training to enable adaptation and prevent plateauing. Failing to utilize any form of periodisation for your training could lead to overtraining, poor recovery and the inability to see the progress you deserve from the time you dedicate to training. The goal with periodisation is to maximize your gains while also reducing your risk of injury or going stale during the training period. Periodisation isn’t just used by strength and power athletes, but can be utilised by any gym goer with a long-term goal in mind. An intelligently designed training year will encompass smaller blocks of time that each has its own goals or priorities. This type of overall schedule will encompass all of the aspects of the individuals programming and can include strength training, conditioning, plyometrics, and sport-specific activities (dependant on goal and ability level).

For starters

If you are a complete beginner to training you will make adaptations fairly swiftly when starting out in the gym; whether this be improvement in aerobic fitness or strength in the weights room. All the while you are making improvements in your training and not seeing a decrease in your performance or a plateau effect this is ideal and you should continue to do this alongside an effective nutritional plan. However there will come a time when the same approach, using the same training volumes and intensities will see you plateau and you may want to structure your training differently moving forward to keep you progressing.

Linear periodisation

A basic example of a linear periodisation setup is the popular five sets of five repetitions on core exercises such as squat, bench, deadlift, and power clean. You could approach this by adding five pounds for upper body movements, and ten pounds for lower body movements every training session in a progressive fashion until you plateau. You could then reset and begin again.

Undulating periodisation

If you are more of an advanced/intermediate, then you could look at some form of the undulating periodisation model and its progressions. You could undulate your training intensities or volume on a weekly or daily basis. For example, utilizing the squat exercise for hypertrophy within the first phase of your undulating block, you could do something like this for volume:

Week 1: Squat, 3 Sets X 12 Reps

Week 2: Squat, 4 Sets X 8 Reps

Week 3: Squat, 5 Sets X 6 Reps

Week 4: Squat, 3 Sets X 5 Reps

From here you could then move into a strength block whereby the volume decreases and the intensity increases even more for example looking at rep ranges or 1 x 6/4/2 (more suitable for advanced lifters).

Periodisation is quite simple when you think about it, but how many people in the gym actually plan or structure their training? To get serious results I would highly recommend it. I have spoke about this in previous blogs but periodisation has a key bond with progressive overload – and this is in my opinion is the most important principle for progressing your training. The following piece of advice will take you a long way to achieving your goals – Lift the resistance for as many perfect repetitions possible using a full range of motion. Record the number of repetitions achieved. Attempt to do more in the next workout – once you have reached the higher spectrum of your desired rep-range, increase the weight marginally. It is that simple guys but so many people still don’t do this. Structuring your training can be useful in all aspects of gym goals, sports and competitions. I have used it in my bodybuilding training and at a competitive level for the last four years. It has enabled me to put on muscle and be in better condition year after year. It also works hand in hand with nutritional planning. If you have the same approach around bulking diets for example for too long your body will start to distribute those nutrients to fat stores and slowly become less and less effective at building lean tissue. If structuring our approaches to reach our goals wasn’t necessary then I would just stick to a continuous bulking plan for two years and put on 20 kilos of muscle mass – but this isn’t going to happen.

Remember guys if you're training hard for long periods of time and your results are halted, ask your self why?

It may be time to build a new approach to your training protocols to keep you on the continuous gain train.
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The Athlete’s A-game
How supplementation can help win gold

What is an athlete?
If Rio 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that an athlete is an individual proficient in their field – the very best of which being world class. The word itself comes from ‘Athelin’ – Greek for ‘compete for a prize’. Competition is defined as, ‘the activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others’. Put these meanings together and you can start to build a picture of what an athlete represents.

Regardless of chosen pursuit or skill level, a genuine athlete will be determined, dedicated and relentless in their training. These people are meticulous with their routines, programming, nutrition and goal setting to a point where sacrifice is often necessary. It’s not uncommon for an athlete to phase training into their routine 3-4 times per day, which could include resistance work, cardiovascular training, conditioning, flexibility, recovery work and more. How does someone like this not just burn out and give up?

In some respect they are a different breed – almost certainly possessing an insatiable hunger for success – however if you ask an athlete how their body withstands the physical toll, they will tell you the importance of supplementation. An athlete’s body is trained hard numerous times per day, meaning it is imperative they get quality nutrients, vitamins and minerals into their system to assist recovery. Let’s take a look at a few – some of which may surprise you.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish Oil)
A popular supplements within the fitness industry, yet still overlooked by some gym-goers. When high quality fish oil is taken in large enough amounts, it provides the greatest bang for your buck as far as supplements are concerned. You will benefit from improved cardiovascular health and function, higher lipid profiles (lower triglycerides) and greater brain function, with an additional boost from its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Athletes and those with body composition goals should start with 3,000 mg of fish oil spread out in 2-3 servings (it only lasts in the body about 8 hours) and work toward taking up to 6,000 mg per day.

B-Vitamins increase energy production and help improve your mood, helping to detoxify which is vital after exercise. The process of building and repairing muscle depletes B-Vitamins, so if you’re training like an athlete you may need to take extra B-Vitamins to help the rebuilding process, as you are burning through them at an alarming rate.

Is important to athletes because it regulates heart rhythm, allows muscles to contract and relax efficiently, reduces blood pressure and is necessary to produce ATP (the main source of energy in our cells). This is best taken post-workout on an empty stomach. Sedentary individuals need 600 mg a day and larger athletes in heavy training mode require up to 2,000 mg a day.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and can be used pre, during and after training. We consume proteins in our normal diets, but supplementing with particular types of proteins at different times can greatly improve our performance and recovery. Protein reduces the amount of stress hormones (mainly cortisol) released in our bodies when we exercise or come under stress. Whey is a highly marketed protein and is fairly inexpensive, so is frequently used by athletes. However you’ll find that top athletes will supplement with the highest quality whey isolate powder, which is virtually lactose free and has zero fats or sugars. Dependant on training type they will then add in a quality carbohydrate supplement if required.

ZMA (Zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6).
ZMA is a supplement made up of zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. It will aid in improved muscle recovery, increased strength and size, better sleep and some even report it as a weight loss aid. I personally use this regularly, and find it helps massively during periods of intense training, to achieve deeper sleep and better recovery.

Greens powders
Chockfull of superfoods, vitamins, minerals and active ingredients, a decent greens powder can support you with a large hit of dense nutrients in one supplement. The main benefits are an improved immune function and gut health. With a healthy digestive system the body can uptake and utilise nutrients much more effectively, which in turn will assist your training goals.

So whether you’re an athlete or not, we all look in awe at the pure brilliance that some individuals can deliver. But don’t forget, world-class performances are developed and nurtured over years of relentless training. Every one has to start somewhere, but you can almost guarantee the ones that work hardest – and exercise smart supplementation – will emerge wearing gold.

Ben Rowe | Team Benbo Body Coaching |

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The training checklist
Myth busting, gym problems and super frets.

So, you’re getting down the gym after a long period off, or perhaps for the first time. The gym environment is often thought of as a battlefield of ego and high-level experience - putting doubt in the eager beginner’s mind. I can assure you this is not the case. Free weight areas are no longer heaving with scary tattooed men in vests demanding the bench you’re sitting on, and no one is going to be judging you by the weight you’re lifting. All world champions started somewhere – I can promise that once you start to see improvement, you’ll soon look back glad you took that leap in the right direction.

What’s the goal?

To avoid disappointment, it’s really important to ensure your training and nutrition coincides with your desired goal. This may include increasing lean muscle whilst decreasing body fat, improving cardiovascular fitness, increasing strength and functionality, improving muscular endurance or even a sports specific goal. If you’re unsure, there’s plenty of reading available online, whereas you can always speak with an exercise professional.

Whatever your goal may be, I advise being realistic making short and long-term goals. I started out in the free weights area 13 years ago, at the age of 16. I wanted to be Arnold Schwarzenegger in 3 months, yet I quickly learned this was rather unrealistic. Throughout my time personal training, becoming a competitive athlete and coach I’ve found it’s really effective to make short-term goals to keep me focused, as then slowly but surely I creep towards the long-term goal. I’m still not Arnold Schwarzenegger, but I am closer than 13 years’ ago. Set yourself some realistic short-term goals, then start chipping away at them.

Box clever

If you’re starting a new exercise plan, take things slow at first and then build on the intensity. I often see people so fired up to start their new plan, but after the first workout have a week off due to aching so badly. DOMS (delayed on-set muscle soreness) is caused during exercise when our muscle fibres experience micro-tears, which then need repairing before we are able to hit them again at a good intensity. Muscle fibres adapt quicker than tendons and ligaments, so be sure not to crank the weights up too fast when your connective tissues can’t support it.

Good technique

Use a full ROM (range of motion) when performing exercises. One of the best bits of advice I can give in relation to lifting weights is using a full range of motion at the correct tempo. I’ve been there and made the mistakes of ego lifting. It isn’t big, or clever, it won’t improve your physique and you’re more likely to injure yourself.

Think of this example: a bicep curl with an 18kg dumbbell. Quick jerky reps are performed up and down (concentric and eccentric) for 12 reps; the time the biceps were under tension was 1 second per rep. Now think of a bicep curl performed for 12 reps using a 12kg dumbbell; the curl is a strong movement taking 1 second to the top of the movement then it’s held for a further 1 second before being lowered using a full range of motion for 3 seconds each rep. In the first set the biceps were under tension for 12 seconds; the second set – 60 seconds. Your muscles don’t know what weight you’ve got in your hand, they will only respond to the stress you put them under. This theory can be utilised across all exercise for beginners.

Progress your squat and deadlifts by just using a bar, with perfect technique, and take baby steps. I see too many injuries caused by people going in too hard. Speak with an exercise professional about how to keep neutral spine during lifts. This is where you maintain a natural curve in your lower lumbar with your head up and chest lifted with a strong foot stance. This will keep the pressure of your lower back and pelvis reducing the risk of any strains or sprains.

Is your nutrition supporting your goal?

Ensure you’re fuelling your body with sufficient nutrients to support your goal. I’ve covered this in previous blogs, but if you want to lose weight you need to be in a caloric deficit or surplus to put on weight. I’m often approached by gym-goers that train really hard, take a protein shake after training but are frustrated they aren’t putting on muscle. It’s usually due to not getting enough good calories in your diet to support muscle building. For some people wanting to lose weight, 45 minutes of cardio in the gym per day won’t achieve fat loss if your diet is poor, and your calorie intake is higher than your energy output.

During training, push your body to do things it’s not used to doing. If your training intensity matches your walk around Tesco, don’t expect adaptations to occur. Be safe and use perfect technique but, if you want to change your body, ensure it’s working at a suitable intensity. Get a sweat on using the treadmill, and set those delts on fire pushing the shoulder press.

Progressive overload

In my opinion, this is the most important thing to help monitor progression and achieve your goals. This ties in with intensity, technique and recovery. Record your workouts whether it be distances/times achieved during cardio, or weights and reps performed when lifting. This is one of the most powerful tools to ensure you’re improving. For example, if you perform a chest press with a 60kg barbell today for 10 reps, jot it down along with the rest of your workout. (I use my iPhone Notes). Next time it comes to perform this session, push yourself to perform 11-12 reps – then perhaps the following session another slight increment. Push your body to somewhere it hasn’t been before, to take it your body to higher levels.

Quick fire myth busting:

“I don’t do those protein shakes I don’t want too look like a bodybuilder.” – You won’t, I can assure you. To gain that kind of muscle mass it takes years of progressive overload and a lot of calories. Whey protein is an excellent source of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, which can support a healthy diet/training plan for men and women.

“I’m going to do lots of cardio first to drop some body fat, then tone up afterwards.” – I advise to do both at the same time. If you can increase your lean tissue you’ll quicken your metabolism. You can expect to burn 50-70 calories per day at rest for every 1lb of lean tissue increase.

“I’m not going to build too much muscle because if I stop it’ll all turn to fat” – This is impossible. Muscle and fat tissue are completely different entities. Your body will just utilise the proteins if you stop weight training and your muscle size will decrease. If you put on fat tissue, it’ll be due to lowering your activity levels and possibly retaining the same caloric intake.

“I’m just focusing on abs work to get a six pack” – This won’t happen if your body fat percentage is too high. The abdominals will become visible through your skin as you reduce your body fat nearer to 10-12%. Abs are made in the kitchen, with good nutrition alongside an effective training plan.

“I don’t have carbs after my weight training as I want to lose fat” – If you’ve worked hard during weight training, you will have used up energy from your glycogen stores, leaving your body hungry for recovery. Providing it with a quick digesting carbohydrate such as Vitargo or Maltodextrin, combined with Whey protein, immediately after training will be very beneficial.

I wish you great success in your personal gym mission. Just remember to be patient. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but once you start building your own Rome, you’ll be so glad you started. Improving your health and fitness is nothing but positive.

Ben Rowe | Team Benbo Body Coaching |
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Whey or no way.
Are protein powders the whey to go or is it all gym hype?

“I don’t use that whey stuff it’s bad for you.”While I thought the myth culture surrounding mainstream supplements had died, I still hear this type of comment a lot from gym goers. Some even claim whey can bring about horrific side effects. It doesn’t, but clearly confusion still exists. So, what are the benefits of supplementing with whey powders? What types are there? And when is it best incorporated into an exercise plan? Let’s find out.

What is protein?

Let’s get the science part out of the way sharpish: protein is a macronutrient we consume in our diets daily, and it comes from varying food sources. Proteins are made up of essential and non-essential amino acids, our bodies are able to synthesise the 11 non-essential ones but we need to consume the other 9 essential amino acids through our diet to enable the utilisation of a complete protein.

How important is protein to someone who
trains regularly?

Protein is essential to the human body’s functions, full stop; however for an individual who trains
regularly it plays a pivotal role in the building of lean tissue, immune function and recovery. The general health guideline for how much protein an individual should consume for recovery and repair is approximately 1 gram of protein per kilogram of bodyweight; in some cases for a well-trained person
dependant on goal this figure could be considerably different. Remember, a well balanced diet will comprise of all macronutrients of proteins, carbs and fats from quality food sources & supplements for optimum results.

What are protein powders?

As we discussed before, proteins are made up of amino acids. There are now various protein powder supplements on the market, including: whey isolate/concentrate, soy, casein, beef, hemp and
pea protein. Please note some vegan powders are not complete proteins with the required essential amino acids, so you may have to combine with another powder to enable a complete protein. It can be confusing when choosing a powder to use, but there a few handy tips to live by. Whey powders are all complete proteins. Soy, hemp and pea are vegan friendly (although not complete proteins so may have to be combined). Casein powders are slow release proteins, so are best used at times when you’re going to be without a meal for a period of time, or more commonly before bed. Whey protein is in and out of your system within approximately 90 minutes. Choose an honest brand that uses quality ingredients.Check the nutritional information on packaging for any hidden sugars or bulkers per serving.

So, whey or no whey?

Whey protein is a quick digesting and a very high quality source of amino acids. It can reduce blood pressure. Whey improves sports performance, as it reduces cortisol levels in the blood, which are responsible for breaking down muscle tissue. It can prove effective as a meal replacement to meet your daily protein requirements, or convenient for when you’re in a rush. Whey protein is crucial for post workout recovery and repair. Combined with an effective carbohydrate source such as Vitargo (my personal favourite) after weight training, the amino acids are shuttled even more efficiently into the muscle cell for optimal growth and repair. Whey powders are enriched with vitamins and minerals to aid with immune function.If you struggle with bloating, I recommend whey isolate powder. Due to the filtration process whey isolate is incredibly low in lactose.

In a nutshell, whey powders are a must have for anyone serious about training and recovering effectively. You shouldn’t survive solely on supplements – it’s imperative to maintain a
quality diet from solid food sources – however sticking to a good nutritional plan with some supplementation will hugely assist your goals long term. If you’re someone that trains incredibly hard (which in turn increases the stress hormones in your body), with no supplementation and that waits for over an hour to have a solid meal; you’re missing out on a huge recovery and repair window. It’s one that could assist your goals in a big way.

Author- Ben Rowe | Team Benbo Body Coaching |
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Steve completed an 8 week tailored programme with Team Benbo before getting a re-assessment to progress onto a new plan. Steve was unhappy with his shape and had lost all motivation. After receiving a programme from us with some direction Steve found his new love for training and is currently on his second plan as we speak. As you can see from his pictures he dropped body fat tissue and increased his lean mass.
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Ask a client what their goal is, and around 90% of responses will be a variation of the following: “I want to build some muscle and burn off some fat.”

You can’t zap fat tissue and build lean mass at the same time, they say. Their argument is one of thermodynamics – due to the way the body both
uses and stores energy, they suggest it’s physically impossible to burn fat and build muscle simultaneously. Those people are wrong, however. I’ve seen this process occur regularly in clients, and experienced it myself.

But, rather than take my word for it (although you are more than welcome to), here’s the science to back it

What is a calorie deficit?

We consume calories in our day-to-day diets from macronutrients (proteins, carbs and fats). They are the units of energy we use or store in the body for different purposes. A calorie deficit comes when we burn more calories per day than we consume through diet. These calories will be burnt through your metabolism and activity levels.

What is a calorie surplus?

Yep, you guessed it. A calorie surplus occurs when more calories per day are consumed than burned, with energy leftover as a result.

How does this work?

The laws of thermodynamics dictate you must use energy to burn fat, and store energy to build muscle. This suggests you need to be in a calorie (energy) surplus to build muscle tissue, and a deficit to burn fat. This isn’t 100% accurate, however, and with careful tweaking of training and diet alike you can create a body re-composition, taking the wheel of how your body utilises energy.

Gaining fat whilst losing muscle and gaining muscle whilst losing fat – what do these two things have in
common? Both involve losing energy from somewhere – either fat or muscle. Thermodynamics
is often referred to as ‘the movement of energy’, but also ‘the conversion of energy’. It’s the second one I find more apt, as it’s possible for your body to take energy from one source and use it for another purpose if it sees fit. Your body is a master adapter and will deal with the stress you place on it. That
said, it recovers in the most appropriate way dependant on the fuel you pour in. If you’ve ever found yourself puzzled why anyone would willingly spend extra on ‘Premium Unleaded’ at a petrol station – this is the bodily equivalent (and well worth the additional cost). If you wish to change your body
composition, it’s imperative you provide it with the correct stimulus (training) and intake the correct energy at the right times. If this is done correctly you can utilise fat stores as energy and build lean mass at the same time, changing your body composition over time, even when in a calorie deficit.

Thermodynamics covers the conversion of energy, but it doesn’t say anything about how you can use one cells energy source for another cell’s gain. Muscle and fat cells are directed calories completely independently within the body, as such they’re independent functioning compartments. What I see regularly with clients is by using effective nutrient timing; such as regulating sugars and carbohydrates during the day the body will go into fall back mode utilising energy from stored fat instead. If you regularly consume carbs and sugars during the day as energy your body will use it’s most readily available source of energy being the glucose in your blood from the snacks you’ve just eaten, keeping the excess fat exactly where it is (which I suspect isn’t your chosen goal).

So, what is the down low on muscle and fat?

If you incorporate some intense training and a more effective nutrition plan, you’ll soon find yourself dropping fat and gaining lean mass. I saw this myself in 2013, when dieting for my first men’s physique competition. I started my diet at 18% body fat, weighing in at 78kg. This was the first time I’d embarked on a structured nutrition plan across 12 weeks with a competition in mind. With effective
nutrient timing, good food sources and consistent hard training I competed weighing 76kg at 7% body fat, completely changing my body composition – decreasing fat tissue and increasing lean mass. I’ve utilised structured nutrition and training plans since, taking full advantage of these principles.

If you get to know your body and how to use energy more effectively, it’ll improve your training and body
composition greatly. Remember: your body is far too precious for Standard Unleaded. Pump yourself full of the good stuff.

Ben Rowe | Team Benbo Body Coaching |
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Why is the Squat the Super food to the Leg World like Kale is to the Greens arena; although Kale won’t grow your legs quite as much?
The Squat is renowned for being the King of leg exercises and still is championed by numerous athletes and gym goers around the World today, but why? The Squat has its variations but the compound movement will hit a large amount of muscles such as
your quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and incorporates a huge amount of core stability. If used as part of your workout routine with the correct form the benefits are endless and here are the main ones for me- ·

Squats will assist in building muscle in your entire body; its proven that your body triggers an increase in Growth Hormone and testosterone when doing this big compound movement which are vital for muscle growth; this will help in the muscle building of other muscle groups other than legs!·

Squats are functional and will make day-to-day activities easier in the long term. With greater power and strength in your core and legs day-to-day activities such as climbing the stairs or bringing in your monstrous food shop will become a breeze! ·

You can burn more fat tissue! If you develop your squat and put on some muscle your body will then in turn burn more
calories per day just standing still! For every 1lb of muscle gained you can expect a return of 50-70 calories burned per day for doing nothing! I’m not Carol Vorderman but… if you add 10lbs of muscle you can expect to burn an extra
500-700 calories.

Squats are good for improving mobility, balance and proprioception.·

Squats get a bad rep for being bad for the knees, however if performed correctly they can increase strength and stability in the joints and build the muscle structures around them for support.


The Russian Squat Programme

The Russian squat routine is a 6-week long programme that gets the individual to complete 9 sessions of progressive overload incorporating more volume with their 80% 1RM;

subsequently towards the end of the programme you are entering new realms of volume with either the same weight lifted and or relatively increasing your 1RM. This routine is a tried and tested 6 week programme that has put kilos on
squats for thousands of lifters around the world and it boasts that If you complete all of the session you can expect way in excess of 5% on your 1RM.

Westside Barbell Conjugate Method

This method came from the famous Westside Barbell Gym developed by Louie Simmons and boasts to be the best for maximal strength gains. The programme encourages the user to squat twice per week at least 72 hours apart; one day is dedicated to maximal effort with working sets to a 1-3 rep max. The second day is dynamic effort squatting and deadlifting whereby the user will perform 10-12 sets of 2 reps at 40-60% of your 1 rep max. The emphasis here is working on your explosive power throughout
the lift with correct form; after squatting you will carry out dynamic deadlifting performing 6-10 sets of 1-3 repetitions using 60-85% 1 rep max. The goal of these sessions is to improve every week and then re-assess every 3 weeks so that your progression reflects your percentages of your 1 rep max, thus progressively overloading.

20-Rep Squat Routine

One of the oldest lifting programmes around, this routine gets the user to squat three times per week for six weeks with one set of 20 squats per workout. The theory is that you add 5lbs to the bar every time you do a set. To workout what weight to start on with this programme simply take your 5 rep max and subtract 5lbs from every workout you will be doing in the six week period; the idea is by the end of the programme you will squat your 5 rep max twenty times.


The programme as developed by the former University of Arizona Football player Jim Wendler; 5/3/1 is a four-week program
in which you perform one session of squats (front and back) and assistance work per week; you also do three other sessions throughout the week that are dedicated to three other core lifts. 5/3/1 is performed in phases. This is how it works- Week 1 (wave 1), you will perform 3 sets of 5 repetitions at 75% of your 1RM squat, then 80%, then 85%. In week 2, you perform 3 sets of 3 repetitions at 80%, 85% and 90%. Week 3 will be 3 sets of 5 repetitions at 75%, 85% and 95%. The fourth week will be a de load phase of 3 sets at 60%, 65% and 70% of your 1RM. When you are done with this four-week cycle you can start a new one by just adding 10lbs to your 1RM squat and then re-evaluating the numbers.

Smolov Program

You realise that when a squat system is planned and named after a 'Russian Master of Sports' that it will be truly intense. Created by Sergey Smolov, this specific project makes the striking claim that a competitor can build their squat "by up to 100 lbs". The vast majority won't have the capacity to add 100lbs to their squat in the proposed time span (13 weeks), however this system isn’t for the faint hearted. The general system is 13 weeks, split into five cycles. Contained inside are more squats (can be utilized for front or back squats) at heavier burdens than some other plans, and it is intended for a transition from intermediate to advanced lifters—individuals who have been lifting for over a year. The main cycle starts with two weeks of prep before heading into a four-week cycle, which encourages you to squat with heavy loads four times each week. Taking after that comes a two-week "switching phase" before you go again into an additional four-week cycle of heavy lifts, where you just squat three times each week, however will utilize 81-90% of your 1RM. This specific cycle is so devastating that some individuals use it
as their sole training regime!

So which Squat programme is for you?

However you incorporate Squats into your exercise routine it’s going to be beneficial. For beginners though I would emphasise the importance of perfect technique and building your lifts up from scratch. Your muscles adapt far quicker than your ligaments and tendons so take things slow and progress safely. I highly recommend seeking an exercise professional to show you the correct technique and check on your progress as you start to increase the weights. All of programmes discussed have their advantages however some are more user friendly than others in my opinion depending on what your goal is. I would suggest that most people would like to improve other areas of their physique and functionality rather than just squats so to incorporate more movements I am favourable to the “Westside Barbell Conjugate Method” as its fairly low frequency compared to the other programmes and incorporates a dynamic day along with a heavier load day which to me will keep me more interested with the variation and seeing my progression over the weeks as I overload with new poundage’s. However progressive overload is the running theme understandably throughout the programmes so as long as you are doing this in any programme you will improve your muscle building capability and lifts. For me the Smolov programme is the most advanced with the user performing lifts regularly at 81-90% 1 rep max, which is very intense and taxing on the body for a beginner for example. This one may be worth a try after a good grounding for at least a year in squatting and progressive overload. The 5-3-1 in my opinion is a good mid-advanced level programme for someone keen to improve their lifts with a set goal when you enter the gym; you workout what weights your going to lift % wise relative to your 1 rep max and you have that set amount of sets and reps to achieve. The only down side I see to this is it’s very sum specific so if for example you do not reach the set reps for your 1RM calculation due to a long day at the office so may feel this is a failure and you’ll have to recalculate again to re-assess. And finally the 20-rep routine! I like it because it’s old school! You know where you stand with it, 20 reps and 3 times per week adding 5lbs every time. Knuckle down and get it done focussing on progressing your lifts! Due to the amount of reps it can be suitable for most people from beginner – intermediate with correct technique. With the time needed to complete the workouts too you also have the time to incorporate other exercises for other body part, which some people may find beneficial. In summary squatting movements will benefit your training programme when done correctly, just be careful out there & don't go to heavy too soon! The iron game is a marathon not a sprint!

Author - Ben Rowe - Team Benbo Lead Coach
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