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7 Tips to Develop Crushing Grip Strength

Grip strength is one of the most overlooked aspects of training, yet it can be one of your most important assets in your quest to get stronger.

grip strength

The stronger your grip, the better you will perform at all of the big lifts like the bench press and deadlift.

This all stems from something called “radiant tension”.  For every lift, you should be gripping the sh*t out of the bar.  When you do this, the tension will travel from your hands, into your forearms, through your upper arms and into your shoulders and so on.  This is radiant tension.  Any experienced lifter knows that to get stronger and press more weight, you have to be able to create not only radiant tension, but also total body tension.  Grip strength is your starting point.

If you want to test this concept, do a light set of bench presses with a slack or just loose grip.  You will notice that your control over the bar isn’t that great and you aren’t recruiting a ton of muscle to do the lift.  Then do a set with as much radiant tension as you can muster by really death clutching the bar, and I guarantee you will be able to feel a difference in your muscle recruitment, efficiency, and force production.

So, what if your grip sucks?  How the hell do you fix it?  Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.  Here are 7 ways to develop crushing grip strength:

#1: Death Grip the Bar

I already mentioned this is the key to creating radiant tension.  You should be doing this on every single rep of every single set.  If you want to get good at something, you have to practice.  Frequently grabbing the bar as hard as possible will improve your grip strength over time.

#2: Use a Thicker Bar

Thick bar training is not only what I attribute my grip strength to, but also my forearm development.  In fact, I haven’t used a standard size barbell in years.  Using a thick bar will challenge your grip and force you to get stronger.

If you don’t have thick bars at your gym, pony up $40 and invest in a pair of Fat Gripz.  This is what I use and they are ALWAYS in my gym bag.  You can purchase them on the right hand side of this page.

grip strength

#3: Do Not Lift With a Bar At All

If you missed my post on imperfection training, check it out here.

Training with odd objects can be one of the best things you can do to help develop your grip strength.  Why?  Because odd-objects typically have no grip!

Sandbags and stones for example have nowhere for you to naturally put your hand around.  You simply have to grip it wherever you can get your hands placed in order to move the weight, and your hand position will rarely be in the same place twice.  This is a sure-fire way to force your body to use radiant tension, whether or not you even realize it.

This will also take your fingers out of some of the lifts, forcing you to be more proficient with your entire hands and upper body muscles to help maintain a hold on whatever you are lifting.  This brings me to the next technique for maximizing your gripping power…

#4: Use False Grip

A false grip is simply switching up how you grip things, taking the emphasis off of your fingers, and gripping anything you might be holding deeper into your hands.

For those of you trying to learn muscle ups, using a false grip is crucial.  But this also applies to your various strength training exercises as well.  Using this kind of grip gives you more surface area on the things you are gripping, naturally giving you more power and ability to sustain gripping power.

Watch this video.  Travis Bagent gives a great breakdown on the false grip and how that has helped him in his arm wrestling career.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9235-tIBkA[/tube]


#5: Ditch the Straps

For the longest time I didn’t use straps.  I viewed them as cheating.  However, my outlook on that has since changed and I think there is a time and place for them.

If you want to emphasize a muscle group, but don’t want your reps to suffer and fail prematurely because of your grip, it makes sense to use straps.  But they are a slippery slope.  I started using them too frequently during a training cycle, and then when I started training without them again, I immediately noticed my grip had weakened.

Use them strategically but not too frequently.

#6: Deadlift

If you are picking up heavy weight off the floor repeatedly, you will develop serious gripping power.  Deadlifting is awesome for this because you inherently squeeze the hell out of the bar anyway.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone deadlift with a slack grip.

So, not only will you be moving serious weight with a strong grip, you will be utilizing radiant tension that will carry over into your other lifts.

grip strength

#7: Farmers Carries

Anybody that knows me knows that I have a special place in my heart for farmers carries.  In fact, I think they are one of the top 5 exercises of all time.

Picking up heavy sh*t and walking is the ultimate grip test.  You can also carry light to moderate weight over longer distances to develop your “grip endurance” that will help you maintain a strong grip over the course of long training sessions.

So get a grip Primal Nation.  Without it, I can promise you that your performance is suffering.

Evolve!!

— Tank

Imperfection Training

Imperfection training is a big part of what Primal Strength Camp is all about.

I first read about the idea of this type of training in the book “Supertraining” by Yuri Verkhoshansky.  If you’ve never heard of this book and are serious about strength training and muscle building, you need to invest in it.

Consider this statement:

All-round sports training must include the capability of coping with unexpected and sub-optimal conditions. In certain sports where accidents or unexpected situations often occur, such as the martial arts, parachuting and motor racing, participants are taught how to cope with events that can have serious consequences. This type of preparation needs to be adopted far more extensively in all sports so that the athlete is able to anticipate threatening situations, react much more rapidly to unexpected circumstances, take action to avoid or minimise injury, and cope with sub-optimal conditions by practising with imperfectly executed movements.

When I first started training outside with odd-objects for fun as a way to break up the monotony of the gym, I immediately noticed that my gym strength didn’t translate to the real world.

The real world IS a “sub-optimal condition”.  Nothing is ever perfect.  But our bodies get so damn accustomed to moving so rigidly in the gym (almost always in a linear fashion) that we are ill-equipped to handle unexpected movements and uneven loads.  This is why I had trouble lifting kegs and sandbags when I first started.  I was already using imperfection training without even realizing it.

One thing I think we can all relate to is helping somebody move furniture.  You can bench 300 pounds and squat twice your bodyweight, but if you ever try to move some weird shaped couch or get a dresser up some stairs, I bet it kicks your ass.

Anyhow, if you are interested in possessing “real-world strength”, the concept of imperfection training and working it into your routines is a no-brainer.  This especially goes for athletes because nothing you ever do in a game situation is perfect.  Rarely are you moving in a linear fashion like most of your exercises in a gym (they may be dynamic like Olympic lifts or jumps, but are still not chaotic).

“Creating chaos” in an exercise form is not totally accomplishable.  There is only so much you can do and you will never be able to mimic the things you will encounter in real-life situations, but there are things you can do to help bridge the gap.

#1: Lifting Odd-Objects

Kegs, stones, slosh pipes, and sandbags are all good tools to use here.  Cleans, clean and presses, overhead presses, and sandbag shouldering are all examples of movements to perform.  None of these tools have evenly distributed weight, especially in the case of kegs (only partially filled) and sandbags.  The water and sand will continually shift making each and every rep of the movement different.

#2: Uneven Carries

Farmers carries are an awesome exercise, but rarely do you see variations in style.  Uneven carries require different sized loads to be carried in each arm.  For example, two different sized kettlebells.

At Primal, we like to take things a step further and carry two entirely different objects altogether.  In one hand we may have a 50 pound kettlebell, but we will have a 100 pound sandbag in a shouldered position in the other arm.  Or carrying the same sized object in two different carry positions; one at your side and one in a cleaned position is a good example.

Ever used a slosh pipe?  This is an uneven carry extreme and a Primal favorite.  A 10 foot pipe filled only partially with water, the water is constantly changing positions side to side, creating full body tension in an effort to keep the pipe upright and stabilized.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c93mGtzBhJs[/tube]


#3: Outside Sled Work

Most of the time you see sled work, trainers have their people pulling/pushing the sled on turf.  That’s good and all, but it certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier.

We train with our sleds outside in parks, often times in tall, dry grass or patchy fields at best.  It may go from fairly easy to impossible in a split second if you snag it on a dirt pile or high-patch of grass.  Doing it this way, you have to be very focused on keeping your legs churning and burning, similar to how you would see a running back trying to push the pile in a short yardage situation.

#4: Dynamic Throws

Heavy throws are a great way to build strength and total body power and explosiveness.  Aside from normal medicine ball work, kegs and sandbags and even stones are a great tool to use for these.

strength training
Keg tossing will develop some serious explosive power. This will help you off the ground with your other lifts too, like deadlifts and the clean and press.

If you are trying to build some “functionality” behind all of that gym muscle, imperfection training is something you need to consider for your training arsenal.  Use some of these ideas and run with them.  The beauty of this style is it allows you to be creative.  When you get so bogged down in traditional training, throwing a little chaos into your world can be a really rewarding and refreshing thing to do.  Training this way once or twice a week in addition to your normal routine should reap you some benefits.

Just do it responsibly and with some thought behind it, because just like sports, some of these movements can lead to injury.  You should be concentrating and focusing on moving efficiently during this training just like any other gym session.

Evolve!!

— Tank

Top 10 Bodyweight Exercises

Bodyweight exercises are an awesome way to build total body strength and pack on some serious muscle if you know what movements to do and how to program them into your training.

The key here is learning the progressions and doing more advanced moves far beyond your everyday pushups and planks.  Mastering some of these moves will take a lot of practice (months or even years to achieve safely) but the rewards are well worth the time it takes to get there.

#1: Pushups (And Their Variations)

This is a no-brainer.  Pushups were probably one of the first bodyweight exercises you ever learned.  The key here is embracing all of the variations this exercise has to offer.  Plyo-pushups, diamond pushups, elevated feet pushups, handstand pushups, and one-am pushups are all killer movements to work into your training.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pIVTUUSBYQM[/tube]


#2: Pull-Ups (And Their Variations)

This one goes hand in hand with #1.  Pull-ups are one of the best bodyweight exercises for building an impressive back, as well as developing your biceps and grip strength.  You will want to work in different grip variations for these; neutral grip, narrow grip, wide grip, palms facing out, palms facing in, and even one-arm pull-ups are all good hand placements to use.

You can also use different modalities for these; do not relegate yourself to just using a bar.  Use gymnastics rings or clock handles, or even hit up outdoor sessions on tree branches.

#3: Glute Ham Raise

These are essential for developing your hamstrings and glutes.  Almost every person I come across is weak in their posterior chain.  This will affect your performance in lifts like the squat and deadlift, so you need to work these into your training and bring up those weaknesses.  A good way to do this is to hit at least 50 of these before every leg workout as part of your warmup.

#4: Jumps (Plyometrics)

Not only are these a great conditioning exercise, but they will develop leg strength and total body power.  Standard vertical box jumps are the most common, but do not forget all of the other variations.  One-legged jumps, broad jumps, jump-squats and split-lunges are all movements to consider here.

#5: Animal Walks

You rarely see these in the traditional gym scene but these are a Primal staple.  Bear crawls and partner hand walks are my two favorites.  These will develop your shoulders and core stability, and force you to create total body tension.  You will recruit a ton of muscle to do these movements and they are a great full-body exercise.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mas-jz4kK7U[/tube]


#6: Hanging Leg Raise

This is one of my top ab exercises.  It works all of the muscles in your midsection as well as your lats.  Performing these over time will improve your grip strength and help you with exercises like farmers carries and deadlifts.

#7: Pistol Squat

This is the king of all bodyweight squats.  As one of the most advanced bodyweight movements you can do, pistol squats require a great deal of total body strength and balance.  If you think bodyweight squats are beneath you because you can squat 400+ pounds, think again.  Work up to this movement.  Whenever I see someone able to do these, I know they are a badass.

bodyweight exercises

#8: Recline Rows

These are also referred to as inverted pull-ups.  Basically you have your feet on the ground and your body is nearly parallel to the floor, and using rings or a rope, or even a low fixed bar, you pull yourself up as if you were doing a pull-up.  I have all of my big guys do these as they are at a disadvantage when trying to do traditional pull-ups at their bodyweight.  I sometimes super-set these with regular pull-ups to really light up my lats and biceps.

#9: Front Lever

Front levers are a progression from hanging leg raises and an advanced movement requiring full body tension.  At the end position of this exercise, your entire body is parallel to the ground, feet and legs straight out with your back towards the ground and you staring at the ceiling.  Think of performing a hanging leg raise, and then flattening out your entire body, as if you were laying down.

#10: Muscle Up

Very few people are able to do these and they take a lot of skill, strength, and power.  But if you can do them, you will build a lot of muscle.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOCVo_gLoCo[/tube] So now that you know all of the best bodyweight exercises, how do you work them into your training?

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

Read this on some of the best ways to incorporate bodyweight exercises into your weight lifting routines.

How to Incorporate Bodyweight Exercises Into Your Training

Evolve!!

— Tank

Are You a Doer?

A lot of times, the distance between where we are in life and where we want to be is not that great.

It may seem way far out there, but the reality is that it may just be a matter of “doing” before you close the gap.

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJqr6LBFelI[/tube]

I knew for years that I wanted to be a strength coach before I made it happen.  I always had some reason (some good, some bad) that prevented me from getting certified.  Finally, one day I woke up and said “F**k it.  This is my passion and this is what I’m going to do.” I signed up that day.

After being certified I knew I didn’t want to train people in a box gym and that I only wanted to pour my energy out to people that were truly serious about training.  I wanted to train my way and help people not make the same mistakes I did.  So once again I said “F**k it.”  And I founded Primal Strength Camp.

Within 8 months I went from an uncertified dreamer to owning my own training business.

strength training

Now this may seem very quick, and some of you may be thinking “How the hell is this guy qualified to train people?  He hasn’t paid his dues with ‘in the trenches’ experience, yadda yadda yadda.”

That is a fair point actually and I would never advocate people taking shortcuts.  But the truth is I’ve been training for a long time, with all kinds of different people, in all kinds of different places.

This all serves to prove my point though.  I accomplished more in 8 months for my strength career than I did the previous 8 years all because I turned into a “doer”.  I made the conscious decision to act rather than simply dream.

For years I worked my day job, crushed the gym at night and gave out tons of free advice, wrote programs for people, coached them up for free when they should have been paying for a trainer.  And yet, there I was, being a “don’ter”.  Looking back on it I think, where would I be now if I started back then?

Are you ready to be a “doer”?  

If you have a dream, I implore you to take control of your future and get sh*t done.

Stop wasting time just thinking about it.  That won’t get you anywhere.  I speak from experience…

Don’t be like me.  If you wait too long, it might just be too late.

Evolve!

— Tank

How Do I Incorporate Bodyweight Into My Strength Training?

Bodyweight training is an essential part of any serious strength training routine.

Contrary to what many people may believe, it is a great way to build muscle if you know how to properly integrate it into your training.  It develops stability and balance, core strength, and will become more and more important as you get older.  Plus some of the movements require some serious muscle to pull off.

Still have your doubts?  Look at any male gymnast.  Those guys train bodyweight all day long and they are jacked.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzhQVDj0iOQ[/tube]

But, like anything else that you take on, to get good at it, you need to practice.  The one thing I’ve found is that we get so busy with the other aspects of our training, like trying to set PR’s at the big barbell lifts, or gain weight by doing high-volume, moderate-intensity work, we neglect the bodyweight exercises.

Listen, I get it 100%.  It’s tough to cram everything in.  It’s hard for me to pry myself away from the bar too.

At one point, I really tried.  I got really enthralled with bodyweight training and I decided to train that way once a week, in addition to a 4 day heavy strength training routine.  I had grand plans of crushing pistol squats, and all of the inversions, and every single pushup and parallel bar exercises you could imagine.

I quickly learned something.  My intentions were good, but you can’t get good at anything by doing it just once a week.  Getting bigger and stronger is my priority, which requires heavy lifting.  But bodyweight training is still an important component and I wasn’t going to neglect it.  So I had to find a better way…

So what is the best way to incorporate bodyweight training into a regular weight lifting routine?

Strategy #1: Work It Into Your Warm-Up

Every time you train, you should be warming up.  By working bodyweight movements into your warm-ups, you are practicing them upwards of 4 times a week.

Pushups, pull-ups, bodyweight squats, jumps, and lunges are all staples of Primal warm-ups.  By the time we are done, we’ve already hit 100 reps of bodyweight work before the workout has even started.  This allows you to keep your heavy weightlifting workouts the same, but still get in an ample dose of bodyweight training.

Strategy #2: Learn the Variations

This is a biggie.  The key to building muscle with bodyweight training is learning the progressions.

pistol squat strength training

A lot of times people master pushups or pull-ups and stop there.  It’s “too easy” and they get bored.

But can you do plyo-pushups?  Inverted pushups?  Feet elevated pushups?  Bet you can’t do one-arm pushups!

“I can squat 400lbs, so what do I need to bodyweight squat for?”

Sure you can, but what about jump squats?  One legged squats?  You are a real hard ass if you can pistol squat.

Maybe hanging leg raises are easy.  How about front-levers?

It takes impressive muscle development to pull off these moves.

Learn the variations and work them into your training.  Devote 10-15 minutes of your gym day to working on them.  You don’t need to master them all of course.

Pick 1 or 2 and work at them consistently.  Over time you will get better.  Then you can work one or two more variations into your training at a time until you eventually build up a repertoire.

Strategy #3: Use Bodyweight as a Finisher

This is one of my favorites and a good way to have a little competition with yourself or your training partner.

Pushup or pull-up ladders are awesome.  You perform 1 rep, your buddy performs 1.  You 2, them 2.  3, 3.  And so on.  First person to quit loses.  It wouldn’t be uncommon to get a hundred reps or more in just a few minutes.

Circuits are good here as well by picking a variety of bodyweight exercises and performing them one after the other for a set number of reps.

This time could also serve as your opportunity for practicing the variations I mentioned above.  After a heavy squat workout, finishing the day off with several sets of one legged squats would be icing on the cake.  Benched heavy?  Plyo-pushups to add in a little explosiveness and power will serve you well.

Strategy #4: Bodyweight Only During De-Load Phases

If you are coming off a heavy duration of heavy lifting or high volume work, de-loading is something you probably need for a few weeks after several months of wear and tear.  Or maybe you are just beat up from your previous workout and need “a break”.  Bodyweight training is a perfect way to do this.

Whole workouts built around bodyweight during de-load phases are great opportunities for several reasons.  One, you are protecting your body and central nervous system from prolonged bouts of heavy lifting.  Two, you are working your body more with different movements that will train your muscles in new ways.  Three, you will have entire workouts to practice the variations as opposed to 10-15 minutes a day.

As you get older, you will probably find your de-load phases will become more and more frequent.  Hate to burst your bubble but you can’t escape it.  Your ability to recover decreases and the aches and pains will probably increase.

But incorporating more bodyweight training and easing back on some of the heavy barbell work will keep you in the game longer.  Don’t be stubborn.  Accept it and prolong your shelf life.

flag pole strength training

Alright Primal Camp.  Take these strategies and run with them.  Using these will allow you to use bodyweight every day you train, without detracting from your normal lifting routine.  Use them properly, and you can build some big-time muscle in the process.

Evolve!!

— Tank
NASM Certified Personal Trainer
Underground Strength Coach

How to Build Bigger Legs

When explaining the human body to people, I generally compare it to a house.

strength bigger legs

Your legs are the foundation, your torso the frame, and everything else is supporting structure.

Without the foundation, the house sinks and crumbles over time.  It is not built to last.

Your body is no different.  Your legs are the most important part of your body and only become more important over time as you get older.

Top 5 Leg Exercises

#1: Squat Variations

There are dozens of squat variations out there with hundreds of different resistance tools to use.  Start with back squats and front squats.  Once you master those you can mix in the other variations, including the single leg variety.

I tend to train squats with low to moderate rep ranges most of the time to build maximal strength.  I rarely go above 8 reps here and train with a lot of heavy doubles and triples.

When you feel like you need more volume, throw in high rep sets every now and then.  If I’m squatting for say, multiple sets of 300+ with low reps, I may throw in one or two sets at 185 for 20 reps.  Your legs will be throbbing, and if you are a pump chaser, this will do the trick.

#2: Deadlift

It is the number one mass builder of all time and one of the top brute strength exercises.

Some people consider this an upper body exercise (and for good reason) because it will pack a lot of muscle on your back.  But it will also build tree trunk legs and help you develop overall body strength and power.

I rarely do these for high reps.  I make sure I’m really stacking the weight on the bar and getting after it.

If you want to do high reps here, really tamper down the weight, somewhere in the 50%-70% of your 1RM and perform reps explosively and with relatively high tempo.  High tempo is not an excuse for poor form.  Form always trumps all.

women's strength legs

#3: Good Mornings

A lot of times we focus too much on the muscles we can see, and neglect the posterior chain.  Good mornings will build football sized muscle on your hamstrings.  The added strength will benefit you in the squat and deadlift as well.

Hit these for moderate to high reps (5-16 reps) for multiple sets.  I do these after squats or deadlifts.  Keep your form tight to protect your back.

#4: Glute Ham Raise

Another great posterior chain exercise that will beef up your hamstrings.  I’d recommend doing these as a warmup, or as a precursor to one of the big leg lifts like the squat.  I’ve heard Joe DeFranco talking about his athletes performing upwards of 100 of these (with resistance) before doing anything else.

If you don’t have a glute ham raise machine, you can do these using TRX bands or a stability ball.  In the beginning, I would do these at least 3 times a week.  When I was trying to strengthen my hamstrings, I did these every single workout, even if I was training upper body.

#5: Jumps (Plyos)

Another great warm up exercise and a key component of training like an athlete.  For a while, my cardio consisted strictly of pulling and pushing sleds, and doing box jumps.  But plyos build a ton of leg strength and explosive power as well.  Coincidently, when I was at peak performance in my jumping, my squat numbers were at all time highs.

Box jumps, broad jumps, one legged jumps; if you can jump it, do it.  Work them into your warmup.  Start with just 3-5 sets of 3-5 reps a piece.  Rest up to 2 minutes in between.  

Focus with each rep because jumping can be dangerous, especially when landing.  Cushion yourself to absorb the fall and stick the landing.

Check this guy out, really damn impressive…

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGl2XFhpX5k[/tube]

Moving on…

Ok, so what else do you need to know? 

In addition to making those exercises are part of your normal training, you need to add the following components as well.

Warming Up

You should be hitting a warm up before every workout.  I have my clients do the same warm up every single time.  It may sound boring, but it is effective and is something I learned from world class strength coach Zach Even Esh.  In our warm-ups, we are hitting bodyweight squats and lunges, various jumps, sprinting, back pedaling, lateral shuffling, and crawling.

This is also a time when you should be foam rolling.  Hit your glutes, quads, hamstrings, and inner and outer thighs.  If you are hitting squats as the main component of your workout that day, take the foam roller with you.  It is not uncommon that I am foam rolling in between sets to keep loosening things up so I can squat deeper.

Hill Sprints and Sled Work

If you know my philosophy, I don’t believe in training muscles as much as I do movements.  One of the primary movements that man must perform to survive is “gait”.  Therefore you must run.  But I also believe in building muscle, so I don’t run for distance.  Instead I train high intensity which almost exclusively means hill sprints and sled work.  I do this a couple times a week to supplement my normal weight training.  Walter Payton emphasized hill sprints in his training and he seemed to have some minor success relying on his legs…

strength bigger legs

Stretching

Long muscles are strong muscles.  Remember that.

The longer your muscles are the more room you have to pack in dense mass, hence you get bigger.  Besides, as you get older, you need to be flexible.  You don’t want to be an old person who can’t tie their own shoes or spends half their morning trying to get out of bed.  If you are a young’en, you may be flexible now, but don’t think that will last forever.  And the more flexible you are, the more range of motion you have; this will come in key for squats, lunges, and jumps.

You can do some static stretching before your workout, but it really should only be the focus after the meat of your training is done.  Stick with foam rolling and active movements prior.  Then afterwards you can static stretch and foam roll some more and call it a day.

What now?

Put all of this together and you will build bigger legs, no doubt.

So if you are serious about training and improving your performance, you must attack your legs with the same ferocity that you would your chest or your biceps. You have the knowledge now, so take action and get it done.

Remember, you don’t build a house without a foundation…

— Tank

 

Don’t Be A Pump Chaser

Alright Primal Camp, listen up.

Now I know you love ‘the pump‘.

Nothing feels better than having throbbing guns from cranking out 45 minutes worth of biceps, or your chest stretching out that extra ‘smedium’ shirt you are wearing from bench press supersets with cable flyes.  It feels damn good; your muscles are full, you look big, you can barely move or otherwise your skin might just blow up from your swollness.

[tube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xZQ0YZ7ls4[/tube]

But that feeling comes with baggage.

It is like a drug.  It is addicting.  It clouds your judgment.  It is a temporary high.

You cannot judge a workout by it’s pump.

If you want to make progress, you have to understand that.  I’ll be the first to admit that it is tough.  Everyone likes to feel good, so naturally strength athletes have a tendency to chase that feeling.

But if you plan your workouts properly and stick to the plan, you may not even feel a pump at all, especially if you are training for strength and not hypertrophy.

I say this because I caught myself thinking this way for a minute today.  I trained heavy keg snatches, front squats, and then some ring pullups and a pushup ladder.  My goal was to lift heavy sh*t and train for serious strength and power with relatively low reps.

women's strength training

By the time the workout was over, I was still hungry for more, despite accomplishing a pretty decent workload. But I hadn’t achieved ‘the pump’.

I contemplated doing more until I rationally recapped all the training I had just done and realized I was a ‘pump chaser’.

My point is, I trained and did exactly what I set out to do.  I executed my plan, trained my body for strength, and the benefits will come, pump or not.

While the pump is a great feeling, it simply isn’t indicative of whether or not you had a good or bad training session, or whether or not your muscles are growing.

Hell, you could get a full upper body pump from doing a set of 25lb bicep curls and a quick set of 20 pushups. That won’t make you grow though!

Train with heavy weights and moderate rep ranges.  If you absolutely must get a pump, train those heavy sets first and finish with a drop set of 12-16 reps.  You could also decrease your rest intervals.

Just remember, stick with your plan.  The pump should never factor into your programming, no matter how good it feels…

Evolve!!

— Tank

Train Like an Animal, Walk Like an Animal

Are you ready for a new challenge?  Tired of the same old bodyweight routine?  Time to unleash a whole new set of movements that will add a huge boost to your bodyweight training.

Animal Walks

My concept for Primal Strength Camp revolved around training primitively, getting back to the roots of man and moving our bodies like we were intended to.  If I’m truly Primal, I need to not only train like an animal, I need to walk like one too!  Primal man was a beast!

Animal walks are a great set of movements, not only for their simplicity, but their versatility as well.  You can do them anywhere and they are easy to modify for increased difficulty.  You can progress to going up stairs, using dumbbells, going longer distances, or even wearing a weighted vest.

They are a great total body movement, especially for your back, triceps, shoulders, and core, and they will also test your conditioning levels.  I like to incorporate them into a dynamic warmup or a high intensity finisher.

They are tough, don’t let them fool you!

Try this as a finisher to your workout:

  • Pushups x 20
  • Bear crawl 50 feet forwards
  • High Jumps
  • Bear Crawl 50 feet backwards

Do this for a couple of rounds.  You can substitute other walks as well (crab walks, hand walks, etc.)

Check out this example of a modified bear crawl using roughly 30 pounds of resistance per arm.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mas-jz4kK7U&feature=plcp[/tube]

Evolve!!

— Tank

10 Ass Kicking Gym Songs

What’s up Primal Camp?

gym songs

Every day during the car ride to my workout, I blast the same playlist of about 50 songs.  The music helps transform me into a freakin’ animal and I more or less work myself into a frenzy before I ever even set foot inside the gym.If you want to make serious gains in the gym, intensity is a must, and music always delivers for me.It’s really hard to narrow the list down to a top 10, but I’ll give it a shot anyway.  In no particular order, mine are…

  1. Three Six Mafia & Akon – That’s Right
  2. H.E.D. PE – Wake Up
  3. Tupac – Hit Em’ Up
  4. Drowning Pool – Bodies
  5. Eminem – Till I Collapse
  6. Eminem – Lose Yourself
  7. Rage Against the Machine – Killing in the Name Of
  8. Young Jeezy – Put On
  9. Linkin Park – No More Sorrow
  10. H.E.D. PE – Raise Hell

What kind of music do you listen to?  What are the songs you turn to when you need to dominate some heavy weights?

Let me hear from ya so I can add to my list.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TADyXC2K0g[/tube]

Evolve!!

— Tank

Live in Your Vision, Not Your Circumstances

If you haven’t seen the following post-game speech by Chuck Pagano, head coach of the Indianapolis Colts, you need to watch it.

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDYi5u7csJM[/tube]

For those of you that don’t know, he is battling leukemia and has only missed a few games, but was still there to deliver some serious motivation yesterday after a big win.

I’ve watched this speech at least a dozen times since yesterday and something in it struck a cord with me.

“You refused to live in your circumstances and consciously chose to live your vision.”

Man, that is powerful isn’t it?

All of us have circumstances.  Do we let them dictate our lives and limit our ability to succeed?

Primal Strength Camp has circumstances.  For those of you that don’t know, I run Primal Strength Camp on my own and in my spare time.  In actuality, I have a full-time job with the federal government working 40 hours a week, a 9 week old puppy at home, a pregnant wife, and my own training time.  By the time I get home from my day job and training myself, I’m pretty damn tired.

Despite it all, I have a vision.  I refuse to give in to my circumstances.  I will make this a success and help people get stronger.

I trained today after being sick since Saturday, dropping 5lbs in the process, and being sleep deprived and dehydrated…after I worked 8 hours at my day job.  Now at 9pm, I’m writing this post.  No excuses;  I have a vision.

fitness motivation

I encourage all of you to think about your circumstances.  Despite how big they seem, you have to cast them aside.  Fight them with everything you got. You must and will overcome.

If you don’t have a vision, get one.  Everyone needs a dream.  Otherwise your circumstances will dictate your life without a long term goal to strive for.

Circumstances are temporary.  A vision can last an eternity.

If you have a vision, nothing can stop you.

Make that conscious decision and start living your vision.  Be unstoppable.

— Tank