Lifting Tips From A Professional Millennial Weightlifter

Tyler Yasuda is an elite ranked powerlifter, and natural pro bodybuilder. At only 21 years old, Tyler has established himself in the fitness and coaching communities as a wellspring of training knowledge and innovation. He coaches clients across the globe (including yours truly), not to mention the thousands of YouTube and Instagram followers that devour his content for training guidance. Aside from Tyler’s fitness accolades, he deserves recognition for co-founding Strength Vs. Cancer, a cancer research campaign that fundraises through strength based challenges and activities. Widely respected among industry insiders and outsiders alike, Tyler is skyrocketing into the ranks of the millennial generation’s best coaches.

 

Team Tytanium x The Campus Gym, Tyler is second from right

 

I got the chance to ask Tyler a few questions that I think every novice lifter should ask. Scroll down to have your mind blown.

What are the biggest mistakes people make when they are new to weight training?

The list would be way too long if I tried to think of all the common mistakes, so I’ll focus on one. Most lifters tend to allocate most of their time and effort into building strength with very little emphasis on learning and developing the skill of lifting. It makes sense – slapping more weight on the bar is a fun, tangible way to see progress. This type of progress becomes the singular goal and proper skill development takes a back seat. Over enough time, they might learn enough to recognize their technical error, but in most cases, they’ve already built a base of strength in poor positions. Their existing strength then becomes the largest obstacle to the improvement of their technique. The lifter is faced with a tough choice: either continue developing strength in what they now know to be poor positions, or accept a large regression in training numbers for the sake of gradually correcting their technique. This issue could have been circumvented entirely if they had developed good mechanics from the get go.

How should a novice weightlifter structure his or her workouts?

This depends mostly on the lifter’s goals. Training might be very different if the primary goal is strength compared to another lifter whose main goal is hypertrophy [muscle growth]. In general, a good starting point is to focus on one or two compound lifts [e.g. squat, bench, deadlift] along with a few accessory exercises to fill in the gaps for each training day. Other than that, I’d be sure to have a clear distinction between resistance training and cardio. Too many people will compromise performance in their resistance exercises for the sake of burning a few more calories by cutting rest times. Rather than accomplishing both goals at once, they ultimately hinder their progress on both fronts.

Tyler deadlifts 600lbs for 4 reps, 2 shown

How should novices set up training so that they continue to see progress over time, and do not plateau?

Rather than just going into the gym and doing whatever “feels right” that day, it makes sense to plan out your progression over time. One easy way to quantify and track performance is to calculate volume in each exercise. Multiplying your working weight by the total number of working reps done will give you a number for training volume. For example, if you do 3 sets of 10 reps with 200 pounds on your back squat, your volume calculation would be:

3sets * 10 reps/set * 200 lb = 6000 rep*lb

Your goal would be to exceed 6000 rep*lb in your future sessions. You may not increase your working volume in every single session, but as long as the general trend is upward, you know you are progressing.

Are there any exercises or movements that you discourage, or avoid?

I generally believe that exercises are safe when done properly and that most injuries and problems stem from poor technique, but there are definitely some exercises that expose trainees to unnecessary risk. The first example off the top of my head is the whole category of loaded instability exercises (bosu ball barbell back squats and the like). If you want to get stronger or build muscle, then lift some weights. If you want to improve your balance, then practice that skill. Combining the two is not only ineffective, but also fairly dangerous. How bad would it be if you fell off that ball with a barbell on your back?

Stop gluten shaming

Do novice lifters need to squat, bench press, and deadlift in order to see gains?

The only people that need the big three are those that compete in sports that require them to perform those movements. Everyone else could find other movements to replace the big lifts. Take the back squat for example. This movement involves hip flexion, hip extension, knee flexion, knee extension, hip abduction, hip adduction, and isometric stabilization through the torso. You could find other movements to train the same muscular functions to a similar effect, but the squat – and most other compound lifts – gives you a lot of bang for your buck. It might be a lot of work to learn how to do these exercises well, but if you are willing to do the work, they are valuable tools for all strength and physique athletes.

What are your tips for recovery from a big workout?

Food and time. Everyone wants to find an ancient Chinese secret, but as long as you have solid nutrition and sleep, the best you can do is be sure that you give your body enough time to recover. Sure, you can and should do your prehab/mobility/stretching, but there’s not much you can do to accelerate recovery at the rate that most people might hope.

TFW you have so much weight on the bar you need to duct-tape the plates together

What is one food item that every weightlifter should have in his or her pantry?

Frosted Mini Wheats! I’ll admit that this is just my preference, but they taste pretty good, and are easy to pack in your gym bag or just eat throughout the day. They have a decent amount of fiber and protein that will help you stay full until your next meal, and the nutrition is solid for all the people that track their numbers out there.

Are there any foods you suggest weightlifters avoid?

No foods should be totally off limits as long as they are consumed in reasonable amounts. That said, there are probably a few things to avoid before and during training. Don’t eat four pounds of chili, or drink two liters of coke, and then expect to throw on your lifting belt for an intense training session. I can tell you from personal experience that it doesn’t work.

What style of workout or selection of exercises do you recommend for people trying to lose weight?

Training should not be much different than for someone who is looking to build muscle. You’d still want to induce that hypertrophy response to ensure that you hold onto as much muscle as you can, and in order to accomplish that goal, the same principles apply. Do your resistance training to induce that response and adjust your cardio and nutrition to ensure weight loss. Let’s face it – nobody starts a diet saying “I’d like to lose 20 pounds of muscle this year”. Unless that is the case for you, you should be doing everything you can to preserve muscle as you diet down.

Are there any resources you recommend for novices? Websites, books, journals, etc?

Yes, hiring a knowledgeable coach. That was originally going to be a joke, but after thinking about it, I wish I had some guidance when I first got into lifting. I spent a good portion of my first few years discovering what didn’t work. A good coach could have steered me down the right path from the start and saved me from all the trial and error. Coaching isn’t necessary for everyone, but especially for newer trainees, it might be the fastest way to learn and start making sustainable progress. For all those do-it-yourselfers and college students who lack the budget for coaching, there are a ton of free resources out there. Rather than listing all of the books and websites that have probably already been mentioned by others, one suggestion that most people don’t think of is research databases. Most colleges and universities give their students access to their own research database, and you’re technically paying for it, so you might as well get the most of out of your tuition.

Want more? Check out Tyler’s YouTube and Instagram accounts for hours of additional tips, footage, and pictures of food.

Follow Tyler on Youtube at TytaniumFitnessChannel & Instagram at @tytaniumfitness

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Learning Important Basics of Your Workout Routine

Having a routine is crucial to your progress in the iron temple. It’s important to develop a sound base and structure your workouts in a way that will allow you to build strong habits.

Never workout on an empty stomach

I’ve heard plenty of advice on why you should do cardio in the morning before breakfast or why you shouldn’t lift until hours after you eat. But the bottom line is that in order for you to kill your workout, your body needs to be able to readily metabolize glycogen. Going on a light-headed five mile jog in the wee hours of the morning may seem like a good idea, but there is no way to push your limits if you don’t have the fuel to do so.

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If you’re on a cycle where you’re doing both weight training and cardio daily, I suggest lifting in the morning and running at night. Personally I don’t like sacrificing anything in the gym. I would rather have a lighter run than a weaker lift.

Always start with compound exercises

This means exercises that target more than one isolated muscle group. If you’re doing chest, start with bench. If you’re doing legs, start with squats. A lot of lifting is mental, and you’re never going to feel like you’re getting stronger if you’re sacrificing weight on your main lifts because you decided to knock out 10 sets of incline flys beforehand.

Warm up, then stretch

Lots of people think it’s important to stretch before weight training. For most of us stretching first thing in the morning is like trying to jump rope with uncooked pasta. The key is to warm up with an exercise that will get blood flowing throughout your entire body so you’re ready to attack your workout from the very first rep. Try doing dumbbell step ups, mountain climbers, jumping jacks, or burpees for two to three minutes before hitting the weights.

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90 minute rule

Another good rule of thumb that will lock you into a routine and force you to hold yourself accountable is the 90-minute rule. If you spend more than an hour and a half in the gym, you’re wasting time and your body is most likely going catabolic (essentially breaking down muscle for energy). It’s good to rest between sets, but focus on keeping your heart rate up. I have an unorthodox habit of walking to my water bottle or water fountain and taking a few sips after each exercise. This keeps my body moving and my breaks short and sweet. Limiting your time in the gym will keep you from losing focus and intensity.

And when you’re waiting in line for a rack or platform to open up, get in the habit of asking how many sets the person in front of you has left so you don’t end up standing there awkwardly with your hands in your pockets for thirty minutes. Ultimate workout buzzkill.

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Gainz, bro

A good workout always leaves you feeling some type of way, but don’t forget to finish it off with some type of whey. Get some protein into your system immediately so you can begin recovering and follow it up with a balanced meal such as chicken breast, vegetables, and a complex carb like sweet potato.

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Don’t let your routine become static

Staying consistent and organized within a routine is essential for your success, but there comes a time when your best friend will become your greatest adversary. Letting your routine become static is the number one reason you will stop seeing improvements, which is depressing and aesthetically demoralizing. Be opportunistic at the gym and know the overall scheme of your workout so if it’s crowded you can do your exercises in any order. This is also helpful because it keeps your body guessing. Whether you realize it or not, your muscles remember whether you always follow up leg press with leg extensions. When you feel yourself losing motivation and plateauing in strength, switch your program.

The most important part of any workout plan is staying dynamic within your routine. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.