A1: Choke up on the band and focus on max scap movement here. Think about opening your shoulders up. Rest 30 sec before A2.
A2: Perform these in a push-up position with your shins on the ball. Maintain a neutral pelvis throughout and try to pull your hips up so that your torso is vertical at the top of the ROM. The ball should roll from shins to the tips of your toes. Take your time here and control the entire set. Balance and stability will be the most challenging components. Rest 30 sec before A3.
A3: Maintain a neutral pelvis and spine. Hold full extension for 2 count on each rep and think about "reaching for the walls" and "getting long". Do not force the ROM. Think about initiating the leg movement with your glutes. Take a moment when transitioning between reps to reset and find neutrality. Full rest before returning to A1.
B1: Hold the end of the bar in the goblet position at chest height. Adjust your feet width and placement carefully as the fixed movement of the landmine will push and pull your center of mass through the reps. Ease into the ROM but try to get a bit more stretch/depth on each rep. The goal here is fluidity and to increase mobility through the hips. Brace your abs hard at the bottom. Rest 60 sec before B2.
B2: Use a TRX or similar strap to hold on with your upper body and provide stability/assistance. Place a pad under your knees. Keep your hips extended throughout the set and sit back into knee flexion very slowly to allow the quads to handle the stretch. Ease into the deeper ROMs and try to push the stretch a bit further each rep. Use your upper body to keep the movement going and prevent technical breakdowns. The goal here is to stretch and lengthen the quads and hip flexors. Full rest before returning to B1.
C1: The setup is very important here so take the time to ensure your half-kneeling stance, distance from the pulley, and height of the cable are solidified. Each rep should be a press from the chest, a rotation ~30º away from the pulley, resisted trunk rotation back to neutral, then bringing the handle back into your chest. Take these very slow and controlled as the load/reps are not nearly as important as the execution/positioning. Rest 30 sec before C2.
C2: Start this movement from a plank position with your forearms on the floor. Your forearms should be angled so that your hands are touching just under your eye level. This "pushup" is actually more of a pike coming from shoulder flexion. Maintain a neutral pelvis throughout and try to get as much ROM as possible through your shoulders and scaps. Adhere to the tempo! If you can't get into the rep range, perform them with your forearms on an elevated surface. Rest 30 sec before C3.
C3: Set these up like a normal wide pronated cable pulldown but shift your hips all the way forward in the seat so the cable is actually pulling your arms slightly backwards. Through the concentric, keep your torso upright and pull the bar into your upper traps. Aim to touch your back/shoulders in the same position that a squat bar would be sitting. The goal here is max scap elevation and depression but they will need to remain relatively retracted throughout. Keep these strict! Full rest before returning to C1.
D: Note the tempo! After each set, rest for 30 sec then perform an EQI (eccentric quasi-isometric) with bw. You're going to start from the middle position in the rep where you are the strongest and hold that for ALAP. Once you can no longer maintain the hold, allow yourself to start descending but fight it as hard as you can the entire time! Continue fighting all the way until you're in the full stretch and deadhang. Once here, hold the deadhang for ALAP. These are absolutely brutal so make sure to wear straps and take full rest between sets. These can also be done weighted or assisted as needed—adjust for strength level.
As is common with many things in life, the small stuff in training and fitness often get relegated to the back of the line when so focused and preoccupied on the big stuff.
But the small stuff can be as impactful (though a bit more indirectly and often in more abstract ways) as the big stuff.
So even though it’s really easy to overlook and forget about the small stuff when the big stuff is always looming front and center, wouldn’t it make sense to take a step back and focus on the small stuff every once in a while?
In a relationship, this can take the form of flowers for your girlfriend.
In marketing, it might be quarterly audits of an automated email sequence.
Small work teams periodically plan some sort of bonding activity like a week-long retreat to boost rapport and re-establish the group dynamic.
Extrapolating this concept to the fitness world, where can we see potential application?
- Periodic blood work to ensure the physiological machinery is working as intended
- A return to “holistic” eating every once in a while for those who subscribe to a more flexible dieting approach such as macro counting
- Technique sessions in the gym for a powerlifter or Olympic lifter in which they just work on perfecting their movement patterns in line with their sport
- Scheduling those monthly massages to release all the bound up tissue and alleviate the accumulated aches and pains from hard training
Each of these presents an example of pulling back from the big stuff to focus on the small stuff…And I’m sure that you can now see how “small stuff” isn’t synonymous with “unimportant”.
But even within training, we can find more specific and practical instances of how this “zooming out” effect can be applied to great effect.
Take an average gym bro—Let’s call him Chad…
Chad really loves training his chest and arms. Like REALLY loves it. So much so that his split is designed in a way that has him training pecs, biceps and triceps directly three times per week. However, training exists in a very delicate balance, and when one side of the equation becomes overweight (such is the case here), another most be adjusted inversely proportional. Chad isn’t too fond of training his calves so he decided to remove direct calf work all together to better accomodate his chest+arm fetish.
Now, this isn’t going to be the end of the world as the calves, like all muscles, don’t function in complete isolation. Just because Chad removed all the Donkey Calf Raises from his programming doesn’t mean that they’re going to wither away to nothing. He will still be able to generate enough stimulus to maintain most, if not all, of his calf size just through the secondary stimulation they receive from exercises like squats, deadlifts, and even just walking.
Seems like there’s no downside to this right? Chad has found the cheat code to infinite gains!
Well, not so fast…
Reliance on ancillary volume to produce sufficient stimulus is fine to maintain muscle mass and strength in the short-term but falls well short of supplementing for the vast benefits that come with directly overloading a muscle and joint through a full range of motion.
But the temporal dilemma remains; as do the finite resources for recovery.
How do we get around the obvious issue that we’re just not capable of focusing on everything all at once and at the same time?
In one word: Periodization.
In more words: We break big stuff into chunks of small stuff that can be combined and sequenced in a way that makes the big stuff bigger.
Let’s return to Chad for a moment…He still really loves training his chest and arms but now he understands the importance of periodically adding in deliberate calf work. Instead of completely altering his plans in order to accommodate the personally insignificant goal of calf training (I felt that), he can instead dedicate a planned, but infrequent, session to topping up on the overlooked calf work as well as anything else that has been relegated to the back-burner in his bro-esque pursuits.
I like to call these “Accessory” sessions but the name isn’t really that important…The goal is to temporarily reorient your focus towards the small stuff that you’ve been overlooking. Calves, abs, forearms, mobility work, grip work, conditioning, power, and stability are some of the more common foci of these accessory sessions, but they’re really just geared towards whatever has been “out of sight, out of mind” but could use a topping up of the tank.
Even though it’s prudent to place your training goals into clear hierarchies of importance so you can easily separate the big stuff from the small stuff, remember that the seemingly innocuous small stuff can turn into big stuff if left untended-to—and not the good kind of big stuff.
Periodically revisiting the small stuff probably won’t directly lead to any Olympia wins or championships or even 100lb transformations…
But, just like the foundation that the skyscraper is built on, you don’t notice it until cracks begin to form and weaknesses permeate through the system.
In the case of the small stuff, it’s best to be proactive rather than reactive.