The Four Pillars of Strength, by the Strongman Jack Niles

Whats up Primal Camp?

I am psyched to bring you a guest post by my friend Jack Niles from  I met Jack a while back at a strongman competition in Richmond, VA.  He was there selling some of his awesome homemade strongman equipment, some of which I bought and still use on a weekly basis.  Check out his store.  He is offering free shipping from now until Christmas, so time to get yourself some early presents!

Jack also just won his age division at the Virginia state powerlifting meet, so he knows about true strength and how to kick some serious ass.  You should add his blog as a must read to your strength training library.  Here is a taste of how he approaches strength and overall physical fitness.  Enjoy!


JN — A well rounded program to increase strength has a minimum of four components. Organizing a program around these four tenents should allow you to increase your overall fitness a great deal if applied consistently for atleast 8 to 12 weeks. I will be glad to post specifics on each area individually later.

1. Periodization: A strength program needs to be periodized. It is not possible to always lift heavy and make gains. The body needs to recover. A three week period is good: One light week of each exercise. One week using medium weights for each lift, one heavy week of each exercise. Then start over adding but 5 lbs to each of your lifts.

2. Flexibility. Lifting heavy tightens your muscles. Stretching reduces injuries. A quick simple stretch routine is the ancient yoga “sunrise salutation.” Google it is quick to learn and a good total body stretch.

3. Cardio: The heart is the most important muscle. You need three sessions minimum a week. 1 session of 20 minutes of high speed exercise, 1 session of 30 minutes of medium speed exercise and 1 session of 40 minutes of slow speed exercise.

4. Plyometrics: Power is the ability to move a mass quickly. Plyometrics are used by strength athletes to develop explosive strength. One way to do plyometrics is to do exactly the same lifts as you normally do with half the weight. Do three quick lifts with an emphasis on speed. Rest a minute or less then repeat this. 24 reps or 8 sets of 3 reps is a good plyometric routine. Heavy lifts can be done during the first part of the week and plyometric lifts of the same exercise can be done later in the week.

— Jack Niles


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