The benefits of singles training

Whether you’ve been lifting for a year or just looking to get started with strength training, you will have almost undoubtedly come across a 5 x 5 strength program. Mark Rippetoe of Starting Strength was one of the major pioneers in helping to shift powerlifting over to the mainstream. His books have inspired thousands of lifters, along with many imitators who have tried to piggyback off of his success and preach the virtues of 5 x 5 like its gospel: it isn’t.

Personally, one of the most effective methods I’ve used to break plateaus and mix up my routines is the singles method. It is probably one of the most simple to use programming styles out there and basically goes like this:

  • Work out your 1RM (1 rep max)
  • Choose a weight that is around 90% of that 1RM. This can be around 95% if you have been lifting a while.
  • Warm up by performing reps with a lighter weight.
  • Perform anything between 3 and 10 sets of singles (i.e. one rep)
  • Choose a secondary exercise to that supplements your chosen lift, such as the floor press for the bench press.
  • Stretch
  • Leave the gym

This is best used for the main lifts: bench press, deadlift, overhead press and squat. Just be aware that if size is what you’re after, then this isn’t for you. It is purely for strength and training your central nervous system to deal with heavy loads and as such is very taxing on your body. Therefore, perform no more than 2 weeks of singles training in any given month; it might be useful to spend the remaining weeks incorporating some high repetition or bodybuilding style of work to keep your overall fitness levels high.

Using this method I’ve managed to bring my deadlift up to 198kg and bench to 140kg at 83/84kg. Let us know what this does for you and we may feature you in our next article!

photo credit: USS Bataan (LHD 5)_140420-M-HZ646-008 via photopin (license)

The Best Way to Count Calories

You’ve probably heard that in order to lose weight you have to lower your calorie intake. Conversely, to gain weight you have to increase your calories. We can safely say that this is 100% true, and is one of the few things you’ve heard on the grape vine that are actually true. The issue arises however, with how to actually keep track of your calories! Luckily, due to the technology we have at our fingertips these days, it’s actually quite easy.


  • To start, you have to accept that fact that you’re going to have to weigh out your food. At first it can be really tedious and quite annoying, but believe us when we say it quickly becomes routine. If you have been weighing out food portions for a while, then when scales aren’t available you will become quite good at having a reasonable guess. (Taking food scales on your date is a big no-no.)
  • Use your phone (or your tablet if you carry that with you) and get the “myFitnessPal” app. This app is literally fantastic. It’s entirely free to use, and can link to nike+ and other fitness tracking stuff (we’ve never bothered with any of that, but if you do it’s got you covered).

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  • Use your app to scan your food, search for the item name and enter the amount eaten. It’s honestly as simple as that. If you want to watch your macros, it even works out all that information for you.
  • Be accurate! We all want to do it when we’re eating that brownie, but don’t lie and say it was smaller than it was. The only person you’re cheating is yourself!

We’re not endorsed by myFitnessPal, it is just genuinely the best calorie tracker out there. And don’t worry if you have a windows phone, we have one and it’s on there as well (who says windows phone is dead, eh?).

So start tracking your calories and reach those goals quicker! It’s really helped us, and it’ll really help you! Don’t forget to follow the blog and check out some of our other fat loss and muscle building articles.

 

photo credit: Eric Rice via photopin cc