Michael Grogan is a Personal Trainer/Movement Coach in Melbourne CBD & Clifton Hill, Australia. He uses a combination of Gymnastic Strength, Advanced Mobility and Barbell Strength & Power exercises to achieve increased levels of performance and body composition with his clients. For more information follow him on instagram: https://www.instagram.com/michaelgrogan_movement/ facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelGroganMovement and for enquiries contact [email protected]

Ever wanted to step outside of the box and try a new skill? Then when you try this skill for the first time you are so embarrassingly terrible at it that it puts you off and you never try that skill ever again?

Let me explain further; lets take our typical Alpha Male at the gym and lets call him ‘Johnny Biceps’. Johnny loves strutting his stuff among his fellow Alpha’s in the gym, they love pumping iron together and Johnny especially loves getting his flex on in the mirror.

But one day Johnny goes a little too hard on his curls and picks up an injury. Johnny heads to the physio for treatment and it is suggested he takes up Pilates in order to improve his flexibility. Johnny likes the idea of picking up a new skill that is outside of his box and heads to his first Pilates class the next day.

In the class Johnny realises that his body is very stiff and sore from all of his weightlifting. He is also very stressed that the other participants in the class are easily performing the exercises and he can barely even touch his toes.

Johnny leaves the class angry and frustrated and returns to the safety of his fellow Alpha’s in the weights room and proclaims “Pilates is boring” and its “only for chicks” – No Johnny, YOU are boring and YOU have not given it a chance.

Johnny’s injury does not heal and instead of accepting that this is because he was unable to accept the process of doing something new and uncomfortable he spins the story that injuries just happen as you get older and it’s a part of life – Yes Johnny, keep telling yourself that.

The purpose of this article is to teach you not be like Johnny. Express yourself by learning a new training method outside of your current training ‘box’ and how the learning of these new methods can compliment what your are already doing. I have outlined 5 alternative training methods and how they can compliment your strength training.

1. Pilates and Strength TrainingThe Pilates Teaser - that Skyline though!

The Pilates Teaser – that Skyline though!
The Pilates Teaser – that Skyline though!

Pilates is a phenomenal compliment to strength training.

Ever been told the importance of the process involved in ‘switching on your core’? Doing this allows you to create an invisible weight belt that will protect your back and give you an immense foundation for power creation from your core. This is the key the foundation Pilates.

If you do not ‘switch on’ your core before your lift then you are putting yourself at risk of a whole host of injuries.

If you are relying on using a weightlifting belt to substitute the fact you have not undertaken the due-diligence required using this process then your should really get your butt into a Pilates class to learn the basics.

Common Objections:

“Pilates is just stretching isn’t it?”

– Stretching is what it is not. Pilates creates length in the body via mindful movement and core control, exactly what you need when your are lifting.

“I tried a Pilates Class once and it was so hard”

– Yes it is, this is probably why you should go back and master the basics and use them when preparing to lift

2. Yoga and Strength TrainingChin-stand is an advanced yoga pose

Lets take the average bloke, we’ll call him Jimmy. Jimmy works hard as an accountant and spends a long period of time every day sitting down at his job. He knows that lifting is important so he makes sure he gets his Deadlifts, squats and Bench Press in every week – good on you Jimmy – but Jimmy is wondering why he is so stiff all the time from training, and why he can’t do the basics like scratch his own back or touch his toes.

Chin-stand is an advanced yoga pose
Chin-stand is an advanced yoga pose

Yoga is the perfect compliment to reversing the effects of a sedentary job and loss of flexibility through weight training. Yoga will ensure you get blood flow back into all your stiff muscles and give you movement back into places you thought would be immobilised forever. You can then take your improved range of movement back into your strength training by being able to squat deeper and maintain a more neutral spine whilst deadlifting.

Common Objections:

“Yoga is just stretching isn’t it?”

A large component of yoga is opening the body through joints and muscles and trying to increase their range of motion. This is exactly why you need to go, because how is stretching on your own going for you? I predict not well – this is a concentrated period of time where you can work on that side of your fitness and apply directly back to your strength training.

“I did Yoga once and it was too easy for me”

If this was the case then I expect you to be able to do all postures in their full expression with ease – lets see you handstand, do a front split or get your Eka Hasta Vrksasana on (one handed tree pose). What is likely is that your body is not open enough to get into a position where you find the poses challenging or developmental, a reason you should probably go to yoga.

3. Gymnastics and Strength Training

Gymnastic style training is a great complement to your strength training. This is a great one because you can use gymnastic based exercise as your strength training also. Exercises such as Skin the Cat on the rings or L-Sits on the paralettes will challenge your core strength and stability so much that it will result in fast results in your overall strength development.

Common Objections:

“Only people who have done gymnastics when they were younger can do those moves”

There are lots of people incorporating gymnastic style training into their own training regimen who have no history of this kind of training. There are scaled variations to suit people at any level.

“But why do I need to do that”

Why bother doing anything? Because it’s a challenge and it will help you get over training plateaus you might be firmly entrenched in by your regimented routine you have had for the last 5 years.

4. Myofascial Release and Strength TrainingThe King Pigeon Pose really opens up the glutes

Myofascial Release a.k.a foam rolling, spikey ball and various other self massage tools.

The King Pigeon Pose really opens up the glutes
The King Pigeon Pose really opens up the glutes

This can attack tight spots in the body that you just cant get too by stretching or performing movement based exercise. Myofascial Release is perfect for those who do not have access to a masseuse on a daily basis (pretty much everyone) and need to release tight spots in their body. Particular examples include the TFL (tensor fascia latae) which can become tight and inhibit your squat and also various muscles in the rear deltoid group that are difficult to target through stretching alone.

Common Objections:

“It hurts though”

Probably a good sign you need to do more of this work. Just breathe through the ‘pain’ and it will subside as you loosen the muscles.

“I don’t have time to do it in my workout”

Beside the fact you can always make time for anything e.g. get up earlier, be more efficient in other tasks, You can do myofascial release while doing other tasks at home, you just need access to a foam roller or ball.

5. Running (sprints) & Strength Training

Given you have no pre-existing injuries, interval style sprinting will increase your aerobic capacity and give you a solid foundation for high intensity strength training. Sprinting can also act as a complement to your squatting or deadlifting by working the muscles at intensity during a sprint.

Common objections:

“I don’t like running though”

This is because you probably suck at running because of your attitude before you have even put your shoes on is that you don’t like it. With high intensity sprint intervals the benefits can be high in a short period of time so its worth a try!

“I have pre-existing injuries”

Adaption’s can be made to accommodate such as the rower or airdyne.

To Conclude:

There are various other training alternatives that may also compliment your strength training. The ones mentioned in this article are just a few that are all worth a try and can benefit your training immensely.

The idea is that we should not box ourselves and become accustomed to only one style of training just because we only feel comfortable doing that particular style. The whole point of training is to make the body feel uncomfortable so it can adapt and to the new stresses it is being put under.

For all those wanting advice on incorporating alternative training styles please get in touch: [email protected]




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Michael is a Human Performance Coach based in Melbourne, Australia creating high performance human machines since 2009. Michael believes in building physical performance using gymnastic strength, advanced mobility and barbell strength & power. Building mental performance through constant challenge, goal setting and skill based activities. Building lifestyle performance through discipline and mental drive.