This is Part 1 of a 3-part series on building massive strength for CrossFitters, Endurance Athletes, and the Other guys!:
- Part 1 – [You Are Here] – A Simple Method I Used to Double My Strength Horsepower…
- Part 2 – The Missing Element in Your Strength Program
- Part 3 – CrossFit Will Make You Weaker…
Let me ask you a question…
If you had the choice to cruise around in a Lamborghini or Toyota, which would you pick?
Ok, forget economical, forget speed limits, forget price…
What if all you had to do to get the Lamborghini was focus on how well you drive it, and the rest of that stuff didn’t matter?
What about in strength?
What if the program didn’t matter, coaches didn’t matter and all you had to do was focus on HOW you were lifting to be the strongest and most powerful you have ever been?
We know lifting heavy things leads to becoming a stronger and faster human being, but what about the HOW…?
I’m not talking about form. We know you must have good form when lifting to see the best results and to minimize injuries.
I’m talking about HOW you lift; speed, tempo, rest, explosion…does it matter?
The short answer: YES!
Honestly, before you get wrapped up in trying to change your program you should focus on how you lift, and not what program you are doing.
Let me start by sharing my experience, in really focusing on how I lift, then I will give you a few tips and strategies to apply it to your lifting today to take you from a Toyota to a Lamborghini.
Deadlifting with Twice the Horsepower
I have taken an extreme focus on how I lift.
I want to be fast (with good form), because speed makes you powerful and power makes you strong.
I’ve discussed the importance of speed in lifting before when I wrote “The Missing Element in Your Strength Program”.
So a little back story…in 2012 when One Man One Barbell was still in the testing phases I achieved a long-time goal of deadlifting 500 lb.
What I didn’t tell you was how hard that lift was…
Of course, it was max effort, so it is intended to be about as hard as it can get.
But man it was tough…I was dizzy afterward, seeing stars and didn’t want to deadlift that heavy again for a while. That could have also been due to the fact that my first son was born right around that PR and I wasn’t sleeping much, but anyway…
The good news was the program was working…I was getting stronger. The bad news was I wasn’t focusing on HOW I was lifting.
Fast forward to now…
I recently deadlifted 525 lb. (and my second son was born…maybe some correlation). No, it didn’t take two years to increase 25 lb, I have just jumped around with my goals in the last two years. My million pound quest lead me to crush all my old PRs.
So 525 is my new PR.
No, I’m not here to celebrate my PRs, I’m just here to share what I have learned.
The coolest thing about this PR was not the fact that it is more weight than previous deadlift PRs. No, the coolest thing about the PR is that it is a heavier PR, but ALSO, I lifted MORE weight in LESS time.
One more time…MORE weight in LESS time.
Here let’s watch:
It matters big time!
You have to do a few power calculations to really find our WHY it matters…
In the 500 lb deadlift video I generated only HALF of the horsepower that I did in 525 lb deadlift.
To get extremely nerdy, for the 525 lb lift the power output was:
- 820.01 watts
- 1.11 horsepower
- 604.81 ft-lbs/sec.
And for the 500 lb lift the power output was:
- 393.33 watts
- 0.53 horsepower
- 290.11 ft-lbs/sec…but who’s counting…
So…why does it matter?
That’s like asking why a Lamborghini is better than a Toyota. It’s half the horsepower!
When you’re faster everything is better.
- The 525 lb deadlift was actually AFTER setting PRs in both my Squat and Press (only minutes apart). The 500 lb deadlift was 100% fresh.
- You can also probably tell that the 525 lb lift did not look near as bad or as difficult as the 500 lb lift.
- When you are faster and more powerful you are not only stronger; you are safer, more efficient and more well-equipped to handle fitness in general.
It’s the same difference as 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds vs. 0-60 mph in 7.2 seconds.
You pay BIG for that difference.
So how do we take you strength training from Toyota to Lamborghini??
Let’s get right to it…
How to Take Your Strength to the Next Level
This is a very simple technique and similar to some of the methodology behind One Man One Barbell.
We are going to use a metronome when you lift.
A metronome is any device that produces regular, metrical ticks (beats, clicks) — settable in beats per minute, and you are going to wish these things were never invented when you apply them to your fitness…especially the barbell.
First, I’ll start with the ‘why use a metronome?’ question:
- Put simply, a metronome keeps you honest.
- No excessive resting at the top or bottom of the lift (depending on the lift)
- It will help you control the mean velocity of your lifting.
Remember, we want you fast!
That’s the short of it: A metronome will make your fast, which makes you powerful, which makes you…you guessed it:
Also, if you regularly play with new tempos you will constantly be adapting and rarely hit plateaus.
Now, let’s talk about how to use a metronome in barbell lifting.
You can get really creative with a metronome and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ways you could apply a metronome to your lifting.
I am only going to go over one proven method today, but if you decide to start using a metronome in your lifting you will quickly realize you can play with different combinations and methods for continuous gains.
So how do you lift to a metronome?
Now, I can’t give YOU a tempo (beats per minute) to set your metronome to, because this will vary significantly on the individual and level of experience.
But don’t worry, it will only take you one or two sets to find a good pace – for you.
I will say if you are a super-beginner, I would start metronome lifting with bodyweight movements only before moving to a barbell.
Here are the basic steps:
- Step 1: Pick a weight between 40-60% of your 1RM
- Step 2: Now lift to the metronome (get one on your phone for free: iPhone or Android)
Let’s not get wrapped around eccentric on concentric phases, that will just get confusing; here’s how you think of it:
Start with the bar in the resting (starting) position:
- For deadlift, that is the ground
- For squat, that is standing with weight on back
- For press that is in the front rack position
Now, every time you hear a “TICK” you will squat, press or deadlift the weight and get back to the resting/starting position.
That’s one rep.
Every time you here a “TICK” you do a rep. You want to focus on doing the reps quickly and safely.
Pretty easy, right?
Well, the difficulty will depend on your speed and tempo of the metronome and what you can handle. I can guarantee you this should not be easy.
And remember, this is only part one of getting you A LOT stronger – part two goes in even more depth.
Step 3: Sets and reps
- Start anywhere from 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps (beginners start at the low-end and advanced starts at high-end).
- On set one you need to do a slower tempo and progress to a faster tempo each set.
- So keep that in mind when you begin.
- Set one should be pretty slow and controlled, but by your last set you should be moving pretty quickly to those ticks.
That’s where you start, and it is a great place to start!
Don’t change your program or anything, YET!
Just add a few sets of focusing on lifting like this, or better yet, if you are following a program then simply apply the metronome to the sets you are already doing.
Like I said you can make this more and more challenging by following “Tempo training” methods, where you rest for certain periods in the up and down position while focusing on being explosive in certain parts of the lift and more controlled in others, but that’s phase two, and that is a completely different post, my friend.
First, see how much damage you can do with metronome madness.
Good luck in taking your Toyota to a Lamborghini!
Here’s to becoming a better human!
(NOTE: Need a strength program made for you? See End of Three’s One Man One Barbell by clicking here.)
Sources: A metronome for controlling the mean velocity during the bench press exercise. Optimizing power output by varying repetition tempo.
photo credits: DryHeatPanzer odolphie