Archive for category Q&A

Q&A- Learning to eat again

I received an email today:

Hi Craig

I enjoyed your learning to eat again article. As a newbie can you give me an idea of what a typical day looks like? What and when do you eat?


Hi Martin

My food log for yesterday is as follows:

5:30 am- Rolled oats and banana.
6:00 am- Train
7:00 am- Serious mass shake
8:00 am- Rice flakes with banana. Bacon.
11:00 am- Chicken, rice, veges
2:00 pm- Chicken, rice, veges
4.00 pm- Rice flakes and protein shake
5.00 pm- Train
6.00 pm- Serious mass shake
7.30 pm- Steak, potatoes and veges
10:00 pm- Rice flakes and protein shake

Pretty simple. Trying to eat every 3 hours at least and create a lifestyle. Whole foods are the key.

I hope this helps.


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Q&A- 5/3/1 leading into a comp

Hey Craig

so I plugged in 150 squat, 110 bench and 180 dead.
Here is what I have done so far in bold and what is planned based on those numbers. Haven’t included the accessories but have been following your suggestions for the next 3 weeks before the comp? Any comments?

week 1 squat 115×6 (5+) bench 85×9(5+)
week 2 squat 122×4(3+) bench 90×8 (3+) dead 140×10(5+)
week 3 squat 130×5 (1+) bench 95×7 (1+) dead 150×9(3+)
week 4 120 5+, 87 5+, 155 1+
week 5 127 3+, 92 3+, 145 5+
week 6 133 1+, 97 1+, 150 3+
comp week

Hi Richard

Looks like you are getting some good reps mate. Squat coming good as you get some time under the bar.

I think for the next 3 weeks you take 100% of your 1RM and go 85/90/95% as follows:

Squat (150)- 127.5×5+, 135×3, 142.5×1+
Bench- (110)- 95×5+, 100×3+, 105×1+
Deadlift- (180)- 155×5+, 162.5×3+, 170×1+

I suspect the reps will vary but I think you will get a triple in week 3 for each of these. 8 in week one would be good although this might be a stretch in the squat.

This will set you up to break those 1RMs on the day.

Let me know what you think.



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Q&A- Do you even lift?

From a PT who thinks that circuit training is a good way to get strong. Keep them coming boys.

Hi Craig

I am a PT and I read your blog. Sometimes I wonder why but you sometimes post some good links.

Your latest post got me a bit fired up. The reason is that you implied that I don’t know what I am talking about. I pride myself in having my clients reach their goals. You wrote about circuit training not being a good way to gain strength. I disagree. While most of my clients want to tone up and lose weight, the ones that want to get stronger get stronger. I like them to follow a balanced approach and we do a mixture of circuits and some free weights. Not only do that get stronger but they also get an aerobic workout and lose fat.

I think you need to be more open minded. Look beyond the traditional approach and think about what also works.



Thanks Sam

That’s pretty much the response I would expect from the average PT. I don’t really think it is worth engaging with you because you have made up your mind (so have I guess). I’m not sure what your background is but I’m picking you are not a big strong guy. I shouldn’t be judgmental but I suspect you are more of an endurance sort of a guy. 70 kg’s?

I will keep this quite brief. Getting strong is simple. You lift big weights with good form. You don’t do high reps with bad technique in between doing star jumps and burpees. If you want to get strong you need to stick to basic movements and progressively lift more and more weight.

Keep reading my blog Sam. I don’t have all of the answers but I do know how to get strong. And it’s not doing circuit training.



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Q&A- Power squats and high bar squats

Hi Craig

I’m confused. I do squats twice a week. I do them with the bar high on my shoulders and I have a wide stance. I squat below parallel. I think I am doing them correctly. But I read about you referring to low bar or power squats and also high bar squats? I’m not sure about the difference?



Hi Chris

It’s a good question you ask. There is a big difference between power squats and high bar squats.

Power squats are a power movement. The goal is to lift as much weight as possible. The bar is carried lower down the back, usually across the rear delts. The stance is wider and the emphasis is on using the big muscles (hips, glutes, lower back) to lift as much weight as possible. You should descend to at least parallel.

High bar squats are performed to target more of the quads but they also emphasis overall leg development. The key is to go rock bottom on these so that the hamstrings are sitting on the calves. The upper body should remain more upright. The goal is more about leg development than lifting huge weights.

Chris, it sounds like you are performing a bit of a hybrid. I usually encourage new lifters to perform power squats because they build the overall lower body and introduce lifters to the idea of shifting big weights. I would suggest you shift the bar down your back slowly and do power squats.

Here is an earlier article I wrote on the power squat which may interest you:

Powerlifting technique part I- The squat « biggerstrongersmarter.

Give these a go and let me know how it goes for you.



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Q&A- 5/3/1 Deload week

Hi Craig

I went to your gym tonight but just missed you. I am from Belfast and in Christchurch working for a bit. I am looking forward to meeting you.

I have a question about 5/3/1 and the deload week. I’m a bit confused. What’s your take?



Hey Kevin

A did a post on this a while back.

Every fourth week we deload. I take a liberal approach to this and adapt the training to individuals. After 3 weeks the lifters are often quite beaten up so this needs to be taken into account. The end goal needs to be kept in perspective- getting bigger and stronger. So week 4 may need to be modified to ensure that lifters are ready to attack the next 4 week cycle.

I keep the exercises the same as the previous 3 weeks. So we squat, bench and deadlift and then follow with assistance exercises. The difference is the percentages. Generally I use the following for the core lift:

Warm up
50% of 1RM for 5 reps
55% of 1RM for 5 reps
60% of 1RM for 5 reps

If the lifter is showing signs of fatigue we may drop these weights further. We have been known to go as low as 40% of 1RM and even skip the core exercise completely. Experience is the key here. Remember, this is preparation for the next 4 week cycle where we want to shift as much weight as possible for as many reps as possible.

All going well, the intensity on the assistance exercises should be maintained. Again, this can be modified if there are signs of fatigue.

I hope this helps Kevin. Send me a txt tomorrow and we can catch up. I am training tomorrow night at 5.30 pm.



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Q&A- Raw powerlifter and training quads

Hey Craig

I am a raw powerlifter. I have not trained quads specifically in the past. I train power squats and then focus on movements like box squats, good mornings and other hamstring and lower back exercises. I see that you have a separate quads day. Is this something I should be doing?

Thanks for your useful blog posts.


Hi Travis

I think I have posted on this previously. I could do a search but I will just answer directly here.

I do believe that the quads are neglected by powerlifters. I was the same as you for many years and focused on my posterior chain. The rationale was always that there is very little quad involved in the classic power squat. And this is largely true. But I also believe that stronger quads can help you achieve even greater results in the squat. And powerbuilding is all about developing a balanced physique. This is an important part of injury prevention of course.

Most of my guys and girls are doing some form of 5/3/1 which see them squatting on Monday and deadlifting on Friday. Therefore we treat Monday as a power squat and quads day and Friday as a deadlift and posterior chain day.

After squatting I have my guys complete something in the region of 20 sets for quads. This will be less for the beginners but I have found that the quads respond well to high volume and a varied rep range (5-20 reps).

Choose a variety of exercises from leg presses, high bar squats, hack squats, leg extensions, lunges etc.

I hope this helps Travis. There are no secrets to big, powerful quads. Train them hard and with lots of volume. If you want them to be your best bodypart then train them as hard as your best bodypart.



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Q&A- Protein powder versus whole food

Hey coach

I am a student and poor. I try to make my whey last as long as possible. But as I am trying to get my protein in it is not easy. How many shakes a day do you recommend and when.



Hey James

I used to be a big believer in protein shakes. I think my record was 7. I even put oats in them. Looking back- ridiculous.

I am now a big fan of whole food. Shakes are for the lazy arse bro. In most cases whole foods should be your choice.

Nowadays I have 2 shakes per day. One when I get out of bed and another post workout. And I feel a lot less bloated these days!

My advice to you. Have one when you first wake- about an hour before your first whole meal. Depending on what time you train I would also have one pre workout and one post workout.

In terms of your budget, buy your whole foods first and then your protein powder if you can afford it. Quality chicken, beef and fish are far better value and quality protein.

One last point. Buy the plain packaged protein that is generally better value than the fancy stuff. I have found it to be the same powder minus the fillers and glitzy packaging.

All the best.


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