Congratulations! By finding this article, I’m going to assume you have reached an important stage in your lifting career: you have discovered that all barbells are not created equally!
I’m also guessing you’ve discovered that two of the very best and most popular powerlifting bars are the Texas and Ohio power bars. Along with buying a power rack, selecting the right barbell for your training is a crucial decision.
Both bars featured here are great but which is best?
This article will take you through what to consider when buying a proper powerlifting barbell as well as pitting the two bars against each other with reviews and side-by-side comparisons.
As the name suggests, power bars are manufactured with the sport of powerlifting in mind. They are designed to be used for lifting the most amount of weight possible in the squat, bench press and deadlift.
For this reason, they need to be built much differently than weightlifting bars and the standard bars you might find in a commercial gym.
Compared to a weightlifting bar, which is used in for snatches and the clean and jerk, a power bar needs to be much more rigid or “stiff”, as you will hear it referred to.
On top of the extra stiffness, the knurling should be much deeper and sharer on a powerlifting bar. If you like having skin on your palms, you won't want to be cleaning a power bar too often.
Power bars also have no need for the free-pinning needle bearing that weightlifting bars use in the collars. This is good news for the wallet since power bars use bushings, which make the bars cheaper.
A power bar will generally be around 29mm thick, which is a touch thicker than a standard Olympic bar of 28mm.
Different federations have their own rulings on what bars are acceptable to be used in their competitions.
Certain federations use specialist bars for each of the three lifts. I believe it is important to spend a lot of time training with the bars you will be competing with.
The IPF is the most popular drug-tested powerlifting federation in the world and many other federations follow the same or similar when it comes to legal bar specifications.
Therefore, many power bar manufacturers will aim to create a bar that adheres to the IPF’s rulings.
Here is a diagram of a standard power bar that is legal for use in an IPF competition:
The bar should also weigh 20kg (not 45lbs.), be 2.2m in total length and have a diameter ranging from 28mm – 29mm. View the offical IPF rule book here.
1. Tensile Strength and capacity
You can fall into a bit of a trap with this one so it is worth knowing what to watch for.
Tensile strength, measured in PSI, is the amount of force it will take for the bar to break. Unfortunately, it is measure by pulling the bar apart length-ways, which is never something you will be doing with the bar.
So, keep an eye on the PSI rating but do not fall into the trap of believing a higher rating means a better bar. Higher tensile strength alone is not an indicator of a better bar.
Yield strength is a much better method of determining how strong your barbell really is.
It rates the point at which a bar will bend and not return back to its’ normal state. Basically, how much you can bend a bar before it is permanently deformed.
Unfortunately, many barbell suppliers do not disclose the yield strength rating.
Some will list their total capacity, which still isn’t the best, but you can combine that with the tensile strength rating to get a rough idea of the bar’s strength.
Luckily, both the Texas power bar and the Ohio power bar are very strong and highly unlikely to break on you.
A lot of people confuse tensile strength with stiffness; they mistakenly believe a higher tensile strength leads to a stiffer barbell.
As mentioned earlier, tensile strength measures the breaking point when a pulling force is applied to each end of the bar. No good for indicating bar stiffness or “whip”.
In this video you can see the difference between a bar with more whip (top) and a stiff Eleiko bar (bottom).
Luckily, stainless steel bars are now becoming more common, which give the same feel without all the maintenance. Stainless bars are going to be more expensive, though.
Bar length, thickness and material density all play a part in the overall stiffness of the bar.
For powerlifting, you will want to find a bar with a similar level of stiffness to the bars used in your federation. This is particularly important for the deadlift since a stiffer bar leads to a harder pull for most people.
By nature, power bars have very aggressive knurling, which makes keeping hold of them easier and stops them sliding down your back but can tear the shit out of your delicate skin until it toughens up.
In truth, if you are locking the bar in your hands or on your back tightly, it shouldn’t really move enough to tear your skin that much.
Knurling can be somewhat subjective in terms of preference, so the best idea is to feel a bar in your hands before buying.
I prefer a very aggressive and rough knurling on a bar since it feels almost glued into my hands.
4. Bar finish and feel
Many bars are coated to prevent rusting and keep them functioning at a high level.
Common coatings include chrome and zinc plating. The finish of the bar will affect how it feels in your hands as well as how much maintenance is required on the bar to keep it rust-free.
Without doubt, bare steel bars feel the best during lifts but also require a high amount of upkeep to prevent them rusting.
The good old Texas power bar! Manufactured by Buddy Capps and used in high-level meets for almost 40 years.
It is no fluke this bar has stood the test of time as is regarded by many as the best powerlifting bar for all-round use.
There are so many advantages to this bar:
It is strong, high-quality, features aggressive knurling, has a resistant finish with a good feel to it and the price is incredible.
The bar comes with the option of upgrading the sleeves from raw steel to chrome, which I think is a good move since it will cut down on bar maintenance needs.
However, these sleeves are slightly shorter than many bars, which may be a problem when using those stupidly thick bumper plates or if you’re freakishly strong.
All in all, you can’t go wrong with the Texas Power bar but is it still the best all-round powerlifting bar on the market?
We will discover that later on.
Length – 84”
Weight – 20 kg
Diameter – 28.5 mm
Capacity – 1500 lbs.
Tensile strength – 186,000 psi
Shaft material – Sprung tempered steel (zinc plated finish)
Ohio Power Bar Review
Whenever I sit down to write one of these reviews lately, I feel like I’m just shilling Rogue products.
They just seem to be absolutely killing it with their equipment and the Ohio power bar is no exception.
As mentioned, this article focuses on the 20kg variation as it is the one with the IPF stamp of approval.
The Ohio bar feature very deep and aggressive knurling, which I am a huge fan of. It is also the stiffest bar I have lifted with.
I have used an Eleiko PL bar, which I believe is stiffer. Unfortunately, with a meagre 260kg deadlift, I’m not yet strong enough to notice a real difference in “whip” between the Ohio bar and the Eleiko.
That last point is exactly why I feel this bar is awesome for most powerlifters, particularly IPF competitors. It provides a very similar lifting experience, in terms of difficulty, to that of the Eleiko bars used in many competitions.
The main difference being the rather large and, in my opinion, unjustifiable price-gap between the two bars when you compare their performance.
The black zinc version is obviously the most comparable to the Texas bar, but the Rogue bar does now come in a stainless steel shaft variation, which is certainly superior and recommended if your budget allows. The stainless steel one is $100 more but feels better and requires much less maintenance.
The 20kg version of the Ohio bar also has a larger loadable area on the collars than the Texas bar and the 45 lbs. versions of the Ohio. This may help you load an extra plate on the bar depending on what kind of plates you are using with it.
As you can see, there are many advantages to the Rogue Ohio Power bar. Read the next section to see exactly how it stacks up to the Texas bar.
Length – 86.52”
Weight – 20 kg
Diameter – 29 mm
Tensile strength – 205,000 psi
Shaft material – Steel with zinc finish or stainless steel shaft option
Loadable sleeve length
Like I have already said, both are great bars and I don’t think you will be disappointed with either one. If I walked into a gym, I would be pleased to see any of them.
Of course, you probably want some more solid recommendations than that so here they are:
If you have a tighter budget, get the Texas Bar
If you compete in a federation that uses Eleiko bars but don’t want to splurge on an Eleiko Pl bar, get the Ohio Power Bar
If you just want the better bar out of the two, get the Ohio Power Bar. Preferably, the stainless steel version if your budget allows it.
Looking for more home gym equipment? check out my article to make sure you get the best power rack as well.
Are you looking to find the best power rack for your home gym but are confused with the countless options available?
After the barbell itself, the power rack is probably the single most important purchase you will make for your gym. Finding the right one is crucial to the enjoyment and success of your training.
Fortunately, you aren’t short of options. Unfortunately, this can make it very difficult to pick make a good decision when buying your power rack.
To save you a whole load of time before, and possibly after, you purchase a rack, I have created this in-depth buying guide for 2018. After reading through it, you will know exactly what needs to be considered when searching for a quality power rack as well as my recommended power racks for various situations.
(In-depth reviews and descriptions below)
Best Wall-Mounted Power Rack
Best Squat Stands
Rogue S-4 2.0
Best Premium/High Budget Power Rack
Rogue R6 Monster Rack 2.0
The fact that you have found your way to this article tells me you probably already have a pretty good idea of the reasons to buy a power rack. However, it never hurts to re-emphasise the benefits of a product before making a purchase.
Some of these points may even impact your final decision.
When it comes to building a home gym, this is possibly the biggest concern since you are likely to be training completely alone on some, if not all, occasions. Even inside a commercial gym, the safety provided by a power rack is much higher and more convenient than asking for a spot.
There are going to be times in your training where you will want to push a little harder and test your limits, which increases the risk that things will not go as planned.
If you have a decent quality power rack with all the necessary safety bars or pins, failing a lift can be very safe. Whether it is a squat or a bench press, all you need to do is lower the bar carefully on to the bars or pins to avoid getting pinned or crushed by the weight.
When squatting, the pins should be set just below the level of the bar at the lowest point of your squat. If you fail a squat, all you will need to do is sit yourself down or let the bar slide off your back and on to the safety rails.
In the case of a bench press, the bars should be just below the level of the bar when it touches your chest. If you fail a rep, simply removing your arch will drop your chest enough to let the bar rest on the safety pins.
Of course, if you want to squat as safely as possible, a power rack, squat rack or squat stands are pretty much a necessity.
However, power racks are built for much more than just squatting.
Between a barbell, some plates, a bench and a power rack, you really have enough equipment to train every muscle in your body extremely effectively.
Especially, if you look for a power rack with a pull-up bar.
Many racks can also be fitted with several accessories like lat-pulldowns, dip bars and pegs for resistance bands.
You don’t really need any equipment other than those four pieces mentioned above. The power rack should be the centre-piece of any home gym or commercial gym for that matter.
3. Longevity (if you buy a good one)
With all gym equipment, you should aim to buy the highest quality gear that your budget allows. I would argue that the power rack is the one place where you should certainly stretch your budget to allow for better build-quality.
After all, your power rack is responsible for your safety and is going to be one of the most used pieces of equipment in your gym.
The good news is that a better-quality power rack will last for a long time. You may not ever even need to replace it if you choose the right one from the start.
A bonus, most gym equipment holds its’ value relatively well, if the condition is kept good. So, you shouldn’t have too much trouble selling a decent power rack if/when you are done with it.
1. Size of a full rack
To be honest with you, I really struggled to think of any disadvantages to buying a power rack.
The only real drawback I could think of is they are usually fairly big, which is going to be bad news for those without much space.
Luckily, there are other great options available that will save some space.
If ceiling height is a problem for you, short racks are an option. As the name suggests, a short rack is a full power rack that isn’t quite as tall as standard ones, which is perfect for lower ceiling rooms.
If your issue is the total footprint and space the rack takes up in your room then half racks, wall-mounted racks or squat stands could be an option for you.
Each of these is designed to take up less space while still providing the benefits and safety of a power rack.
As you can see, there is a rack to suit pretty much any home gym.
When deciding which type of rack to buy for your training, you need to take into account exactly what you wish to use the rack for. As an example, if you solely want to use it for squatting then a simpler squat rack or stands may be sufficient.
On the other hand, if you want a rack that can be used to give you as many different options as possible, you would be better off with a full power cage that allows for the attachment of accessories.
I would also suggest thinking about how often it will be used. If you are building a home gym to use as you regular gym, you want to opt for the highest quality rack that your budget allows with the most features.
If you are buying a power rack to use alongside your regular gym membership, maybe on days where you can’t make it to the gym, you might be able to get away with a cheaper option.
This one should go without saying; of course, you need to make sure the power rack is going to fit in the space you have available.
However, there are a few space factors people tend to forget about. For instance, the space left around the rack after installation is crucial.
Will you have enough height to perform pullups?
Does the cage height allow you to press a barbell overhead while standing inside it?
Is their plenty of space either side of the rack to comfortably load the barbell with plates?
These kinds of questions all must be considered. Only once you’ve figured out exactly how much space you have, can you decide what size power rack to get.
Adjustability and hole spacing
As noted above, one of the biggest advantages to using power racks is their versatility.
The more adjustability there is within your power rack, the more versatile it will be when it comes to using it. Being able to fully adjust spotter bars, J-hook heights and band pegs, for example, leads to a much more pleasant training experience.
There is nothing more annoying than a bar being in a slightly awkward position for you and not being able to move it.
The hole spacing on the racks is a great example of this adjustability.
You may have experienced this in a commercial gym with a cheap, non-adjustable rack:
You set up to bench press, put the bar on one of the hooks, go to un-rack it but it is so high that you can barely get it off. So, you drop it to the next hook down only to find out this hook is so low, you are performing a half-rep just to un-rack the bar.
Finding a rack with as many adjustment holes as possible means you can fine-tune the set-up to suit you.
Power rack accessories
Are you hoping to perform a wide variety of exercises on your power rack? Maybe even employ the use of bands for accommodating resistance.
If so, you should look out for whether your chosen rack comes with any accessories or if they can be bought separately.
Things like dip bars, band pegs, cable pulleys and even jumping platforms can be attached to power racks. Even if you won’t be buying these things right away, it is always nice to now you have options for adding them to your training in the future.
Just be sure to check exactly what is compatible with each power rack if you are looking to add some of these accessories.
Overall Budget (remember you need other equipment)
Finally, the power rack you buy must be well-priced to fit in with your total home gym budget.
Well, duh! I know it seems obvious and a stupid thing to say but it can be easy to forget about the other equipment needed for your home gym.
It’s no good buying an awesome power rack if you have not money left to buy a barbell to put on it.
On the flip-side to that point, it is an equally bad idea to spend so much of your budget on bars, calibrated plates and accessories that you can only afford a cheap, flimsy rack.
You must prioritise.
In my opinion, most of your budget should be spent on your power rack and barbell. Of course, you then just need to leave yourself enough money to purchase enough plates to train with.
You can always add more equipment over time, but an excellent quality power rack and bar are crucial from day one.
Here is a rough guide to how I would break it down using percentages of my total budget if I was building a home gym from scratch:
Power rack – 50%
Barbell – 25%
Weights – 25% (would probably look at buying weight plates used on lower budgets.)
This is a bit of a rough guide since there is going to be a lot of variability in the percentages due to the differing amount of weights each person is going to need. However, it should give you an idea of how to prioritise your budget.
The next purchase would be a good bench and then you can add other equipment as you see fit.
Rogue RML-490 Power Rack
2” hole spacing plus 1” spacing in bench press area.
Includes band pegs.
Fat and skinny pull up bars.
43” working space between front and back of cage.
Wide range of compatible accessories.
Fast assembly (30mins to an hour).
No integrated plate storage.
Must be bolted to the ground for stability if optional stabiliser isn’t bought.
Accessories are more expensive compared to the smaller framed racks.
The Rogue R-4 power rack has been an insanely popular power rack for home gyms and with good reason; it provides everything you need for training, superb quality and a great price point.
However, I believe the newer Rogue RML-490 is a better choice due to the added sturdiness while still being very similar in price.
The one thing that lets many racks down is the stability and, thanks to the 3” x 3” steel used in the RML-490, you will be hard-pushed to find a sturdier rack at this price-point.
It wouldn’t be out of place in most commercial gyms so is an excellent rack for your home gym that is rugged enough to last a lifetime of gruelling workouts.
Height: 90 3/8”
Footprint: 53” x 53”
3 x 3” 11-gauge steel
Westside hole spacing: 1” through bench and clean pull area, 2” spacing above/below
Pair of Monster Lite J-Cups with UHMW plastic inserts
Set of Pin/Pipe Safeties for Squats, Bench & Rack Pulls from any height
Band Pegs for additional resistance workouts
Titan T-3 Power Rack
Relatively small footprint.
Available in shorter size for low ceilings.
High capacity, especially for this price-point.
Variety of compatible accessories.
Wide base for sumo stance exercises.
Comes with weight storage and band pegs.
Smaller 24” working area could be restrictive for some.
Must be bolted to the ground to be stable.
Coating scratches easily.
The fact that this power rack has been compared to Rogue’s popular R-3 offering, despite the lower price, is a great compliment.
The only real downside, when compared to Rogue’s racks is the overall build quality. However, this is mainly aesthetic and does not draw away from the rack’s usability.
It is a sturdy rack, compatible with accessories and is very reasonably priced. If you aren’t too worried about some welding imperfections or a few scratches during use, this is a great power rack.
If you are on a tighter budget, you cannot go wrong with it!
Height: 91 1/8”
Inside Width: 42 1/8"
Outside Width: 53 1/4"
Inside Depth: 24"
Outside Depth: 32 3/4"
T-3 Series of Power Racks contain 2"x3" steel tubes
Capacity: 1000 lbs
1" round steel j-hooks
Chin up bars: 1 1/4" & 2" diameter
Includes J-Hooks and weight storage pegs
2” hole spacing with 1” spacing in bench press area
Rogue R-3W Foldable Power Rack
Space-saving foldable design.
Retains high level of stability.
Quick-attach pull-up bar included.
Simple to fold away.
No safety or spotter bars. Will need to be purchased separately.
Sometimes, particularly in a garage gym, space is at a premium. Unfortunately, there just may be no way you could fit a full power cage in the space you have.
Luckily, there are now some excellent options and the Rogue R3w is one of the best power racks for small spaces due to its foldable design.
I was super-impressed with the fold-away technology when I first saw this rack. On top of that, I was even more impressed that the rack retained a high level of quality and durability along with it.
It folds away so neatly, it really is perfect for those who don’t have much space but still want to train at home.
It comes in 20.5” or 40.5” depth versions. I would only suggest the deeper one if you are planning on performing kipping pullups, muscle ups etc. inside the rack.
I would recommend purchasing the pre-made stringers to help with mounting it to your wall.
Weight: 163 lbs (20.5” version) 190lbs (40.5” version)
Footprint: Less than 5” from the wall when folded. Choice of 20.5” or 40.5” depth.
Fully retractable power rack
Set of Infinity J-Cups
Quick-attach Pull-Up Bar
UHMW Plastic Caps to protect floor
Westside hole spacing
Rogue S-4 2.0 Squat Stands
Very easy to store and move around.
Sturdy, stable design.
2” hole spacing with 1” spacing around bench press area (Westside style).
Cheaper than a power cage or squat rack.
No spotter or safety bars included. Must be purchased separately, if required.
Very stable but obviously less-so than a full rack or cage.
Stand bases may be in the way for some people when walking the bar out of the rack.
Less versatile in terms of accessories and exercise selection.
Sometimes, a more portable option is needed for your home gym. This is where squat stands can be of great use.
For this category, I chose only independent squat stand i.e. stands that are not fixed together with any type of crossmember.
The advantage to squat stands over squat racks is they can be moved and stored very easily.
Of course, the disadvantage is you are more limited in terms of accessories and exercise. However, if you are just looking for somewhere to hold your bar for squats, bench presses and standing presses, squat stands are a viable option.
They also tend to be much, much cheaper than squat racks or power cages. The Rogue S-4 2.0 squat stands are excellent and feel even sturdier than some squat racks I have used in the past.
Weight: 130 lbs.
Footprint: Each stand base is 26” x 22”
Westside hole spacing
2” x 3” uprights made from 11-gauge steel
2 infinity J-cups with plastic inserts
Rubber feet to protect floor surfaces and add stability
Rogue R6 Monster Rack 2.0
Super sturdy and rugged. “Monster” certainly described it.
Includes plate storage.
Tonnes of optional extras/add-ons.
Close hole spacing.
Different heights available.
High-priced. However, it is supposed to be the premium offering and best power rack around.
Takes up a lot of room.
Requires 2 people to assemble.
If you just want the very best rack with all the bells and whistles without worrying too much about a budget, this is the one.
It features pretty much everything you would need from a squat rack and it looks pretty badass too.
On top of the supreme durability, there are a plethora of different options and accessories from custom colours to J-cup designs.
This is a serious piece of kit for a serious home gym.
Weight: Varies due to the number of options
Height: 90 3/8", 100 3/8", or 108 3/8"
Footprint: 80" x 53"
Westside hole spacing
23” x 3” uprights made from 11-gauge steel
1” heavy-duty hardware
With the range of power racks available to suit all different needs, there really is no reason to settle for an inferior option.
I strongly feel that the Rogue RML-490 will be suitable for the vast majority; it strikes an unbelievable balance between price and quality.
I know this article has probably sounded like a bit of an advert for Rogue power racks but they really provide a wide range of options to suit your needs, with great quality and customer service to match.
You cannot go wrong with any rack featured in this write-up so, just select one based on your own needs and situation.
Cardio. Some of us love it, and some (most) of us hate it! We all have our reasons to love and hate cardio.
A question you have probably asked is will performing cardio negatively affect your muscle gains?
Well, this article aims to give you the answer to that question as well as some suggestions for the best type of cardio to for building and maintaining muscle mass.
It cannot be argued that regular cardio training can have tremendous health benefits, fitness advantages and can be a key tool for staying lean.
It’s a great way to burn off some unwanted fat, but is it burning some of your hard-earned muscle too? Here are a couple of the common viewpoints about cardio and muscle gains.
1. Skinny people do cardio
People who perform considerable amounts of cardio, for example, a high-level runner, is typically a light build and doesn’t hold a lot of muscle.
This is by choice, they eat and train accordingly to maintain this physique since it helps them to perform at their best.
Anybody that highlights examples of cardio-enthusiasts being skinny has got it the wrong way around. The cardio itself isn’t necessarily making them skinny, they maintain that shape to make the cardio easier for themselves.
2. Cardio will burn all your gains
You may hear of professional or aspiring bodybuilders telling people about their ‘worst nightmare’ of losing all their muscle leading up to a show or competition as a result of too much cardio.
This is not solely down to cardio and, in a lot of cases, it has nothing to do with cardio in and of itself!
The cause of muscle loss is generally down to poor diet and nutrition protocols. Failing to consume the correct amount of Carbohydrates, Fats, and Protein.
The second big mistake people make with their cardio is choosing the wrong type.
This can be categorised by selecting inferior mode of cardio as well as the wrong intensities. More on this later.
As long as you program it correctly (again, more on this at the end), cardio should not have any actual negative affects on your body composition. In fact, there are some nice benefits to be had for those who perform cardio regularly alongside their lifting.
Now, while there don’t seem to be many (if any) studies confirming the reasons for it, from the experience of myself and many other lifter, it is generally agreed performing cardio on a regular basis aids recovery.
This study shows also shows a positive correlation between moderate-intensity aerobic work when performed after soreness-inducing exercise.
How can cardio improve recovery?
It can be theorised cardiovascular exercise improves your body’s overall blood circulation due to the sustained increase in heart rate.
Moreover, Increasing the blood flow to a specific area in your body, should increase blood supply to that area and boost its’ recovery.
For example, if you have completed a lower body weights workout, adding some moderate-intensity cardio such as a cycling to the end of your workout.
This should increase blood flow to the area and help the delivery of nutrients as well as flushing out “waste products” that are left because of the repeated muscle contractions during weight training.
By reducing the effect of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), you should be able to train more regularly and at a higher level in each workout.
Important for maintaining and building muscle mass.
Performing cardio on a regular basis will increase both your anaerobic and aerobic capacity, in other words, it will allow you to do more total work without feeling fatigued and to recover more efficiently from that work.
Of course, being able to do more in general can definitely help with you muscle building efforts.
Cardio is not just for cutting
Here’s a common scenario among bodybuilders:
During your “offseason” or “bulk”, you lay off the cardio to increase your size, lifting heavy and reducing the number of reps you perform during workouts. This is a great approach for adding muscle mass to your frame.
However, your work capacity and stamina are going to take a hit.
But, who cares, right? It’s all about gains!
Well, not only are you missing out on the benefits already covered earlier, you could well be making it harder for yourself when it comes time to cut down?
Your work cardiovascular fitness may be so low that you need to spend weeks just building that back up before it even becomes truly effective for fat loss.
Performing cardio all year around, even if it is only to maintain a base level of fitness during a gaining phase, will make it much easier to transition into doing more cardio work when the time comes to burn some extra calories.
Earlier, I alluded to the fact that many people suffer negative effects by choosing the wrong mode of cardio and/or the wrong intensity.
So, what is the best way to do cardio without losing muscle?
Firstly, selecting the best type is key.
There are so many different modes of cardio training for you to choose, which makes it near impossible to examine the effects of each one individually.
However, there has been one important study done in 2009, which compared to cycling to treadmill endurance and their effects on both strength and muscle size.
Cycling was found to be superior for maintaining muscle mass. This is likely down to the lower impact nature and reduced eccentric demand of cycling.
Therefore, choosing a lower impact mode of cardio like cycling is probably the way to go.
Secondly, you must pay attention to the intensity of your cardio.
To be honest with you, almost any cardio method is going to work for dropping bodyfat. All it takes is calorie burn.
What we are looking for is the most efficient and least detrimental method of cardio for you muscle levels.
With this is mind, it is clear that interval style training is superior. Not only is it much more time-efficient but it has been shown to be superior for muscle mass maintenance, as shown in this study.
4-10 rounds all-out effort sprints lasting 10-30 seconds is a solid protocol for fat burning cardio without sacrificing muscle. I like to keep recovery time relatively high with these sprints to allow for full effort on each one. 1-2 mins recovery between each is good.
Best time to do cardio?
As mentioned earlier on, it may be beneficial for recovery purposes to add some low to moderate-intensity cardio in after a workout.
However, for your fat burning cycling intervals, it is likely best to leave them away from your lower body training.
This does seem to be specific to the muscle groups used so you could still perform your intervals after a lower body workout, but the mode of cardio would need to change to something upper body dominant. An example could be battle ropes.
The key takeaway from this article is that cardio will not burn your hard-earned muscle as long as you program it correctly. Resistance training and endurance training combined are superior for body composition than performing either of them in isolation.
Don't get me wrong here. In the short term, extra cardio is probably going to decrease the amount of muscle you are building by a small amount.
However, I believe over the long-term it will benefit your body composition and health as a whole.
Follow these guidelines and you will be good to go:
Perform high intensity intervals of 10-30 seconds with rest periods of 1-2 minutes.
Choose a lower impact mode of cardio such as a spin bike.
Do not work the same muscles during your weight training and high intensity cardio on the same day.
Consume a diet that supports the amount of activity you are performing along with your goals. If you find yourself losing a great deal of muscle, you are probably eating too few calories.
Finding the best weightlifting shoes can be confusing with so many different options available. Obviously, you want the best for your training so getting the right pair is key.
This article goes into all the detail you need about lifting shoes. I also round up, review and recommend the very best squat shoes available.
If you have seen any of my other articles, you know I'm all about making my stuff as in-depth as possible.
This guide is going to be a long one so use the table below to navigate.
The boxes below show a quick view of each of the shoes that I will be reviewing for this article. I have chosen the seven shoes that I feel are the best available.
VS ATHLETICS WL SHOE 2
Best budget option!
POSITION USA P2.1
Sexiest looking (in my opinion)
I understand that lifting shoes are specialty shoes. Most types of specialty sports shoes are a fairly big investment.
So, that being said, I will go through some of the things you may wish to consider for you as an individual.
Firstly, I will get the Olympic lifters out of the way. If you want to Olympic lift, buy the shoes.
I’m not an expert on Oly lifting by any means but I haven’t seen a serious Olympic lifter that doesn’t wear lifting shoes. I could well be wrong and I’m sure there are a couple of exceptions but those are the outliers.
On to powerlifters, an area where I have much more expertise.
I will cover squat style a bit more later. But, If you squat with a more high-bar, Olympic style squat that requires you to be very upright, then weightlifting shoes will help.
If you purposefully squat with more forward lean in an effort to use your posterior chain and hips more, elevated heels may hinder you.
I will say that there are so many individual nuances in this, it’s almost impossible to make a set-in-stone rule for everybody. All you can do is test it out.
Borrow a pair from a friend, buy a really cheap or second-hand pair or even see how a couple of plates under the heels during squats feels for you first.
As far as mobility goes, if you lack range of motion at the ankles then a raise heel will certainly help you out.
To reach good depth in a squat, your knees must travel forwards a bit. If your calves are too tight and limit the amount of forward travel at your knees, hitting depth in a squat will be much more difficult.
Tight calves were an issue for me and my weightlifting shoes were a god send.
I have since spent a lot of time and still do spend time on improving my ankle mobility.
I recommend you do even if you decide to invest in the heeled footwear.
Lastly, general gym-goers and people that don’t compete in a sport that tests some kind of squat.
You guys can take the advice I just gave for the Olympic lifters and powerlifters and apply it to your own training styles.
You may not be competitive in one of those sports but if you are serious about progressing in the same lifts, you may want to consider getting the right shoes.
Likewise, if you have the mobility issues covered above and still want to get the most out of squats, buy the shoes.
On the other hand, if you aren’t worried about performing squats to the best of your ability or at all, weightlifting shoes probably won’t be a justified expense.
It’s up to you to decide if or not they are worth purchasing at all.
To help you make think about their value, let's talk about the real advantages of using weightlifting shoes for squats and your other lifts.
The obvious advantage of owning a pair of weightlifting shoes is that were made with the very purpose of lifting weights in mind. Hence, the manufacturers would have looked at and thought about all of the different demands that heavy lifting puts on a pair of shoes.
Those demands are not going to be met by a regular pair of shoes, especially once you start getting strong and lifting some heavier weights.
They are the tools purpose-built for the job. Just like I mentioned in my deadlift shoes article, you wear specific footwear for basketball, football and running, so why wouldn’t you wear shoes for weightlifting?
Getting into the more specific benefits of the shoes, the most stand-out feature is the raised heel. The heel is there to make reaching very deep squatting positions much easier.
A higher heel reduces the demand on ankle mobility and makes staying upright throughout a squat so much easier.
Staying upright in the squat is key for Olympic lifters but will also help powerlifters with their squat.
One example of when a powerlifter may find heeled squat shoes a disadvantage is if they like to use a more hip-dominant squat.
In some cases, a lifter that squats wider and with a bit more forward lean in order to utilize their hips more, may find that a heeled shoe throws his or her weight forward.
For the majority of lifters and gym-goers, weightlifting shoes will make squatting movements a whole lot more comfortable.
As you can see, the elevated heel is really the main feature of a shoe designed for weightlifting.
Here are some other features that can help your lifts. Note that some of these will vary from brand to brand, as I will discuss later.
- Almost perfectly flat soles to increase ground contact, which can help maximize power production as you lift.
- Solid soles. Having a sole that is firm and not spongey or compressible helps with stability and balance. You will notice this much more as you lift heavier.
- Reinforced and durable uppers. Due to the demands of lifting, most standard shoes or trainers would not last very long at all. A lot of force is put against the upper part of the shoe during the lifts, weightlifting shoes are strong enough to cope with this.
- Metatarsal straps. The straps across the foot are the to keep your foot snug and secure inside of the shoe. You do not want any lateral movement of your foot in your shoes while you are lifting.
There are some variances between the different brands and styles of lifting shoes, but there are some minimum standards that I think you should look out for.
I have taken the features from above and made a quick checklist. Go through it to make sure you're chosen shoes meet the minimum requirements.
This one may vary a little between shoes. Some shoes may feature heels that compress a bit under heavy loads so you need to consider your strength levels.
If the shoes you are looking at don’t match up to all of those three points, then you need to search elsewhere.
On the other hand, if you can check them all off then you are off to a good start.
To help you make your final decision, I have written up a more in-depth piece on each of my chosen products for the seven best weightlifting shoes.
In no particular order.
Originally released for their 2012 Olympic range, these shoes became crazy popular and are still going strong in 2017.
They were originally only available in the bright red colourway but Adidas have now introduced a few more options. The latest option, the all-black, look super sexy in my opinion.
The shoes have the now common heel height of 0.75inches. This height for heels is pretty much the norm now and should be perfect for most people.
I know some Olympic lifters may prefer a higher heel and those with seriously tight ankles might need more as well.
The material of the heel on these is a seriously hard plastic. It means, these heels will not compress to a noticeable degree, even under some seriously heavy weights. A definite plus.
I have owned a pair of these for the past 3 or 4 years and they are still in very good condition. They are a bit narrower on the foot than some of the competitor’s shoes but for me, that’s a good thing.
I like the feeling of a super tight fit around my foot but if you have wide feet, these may not be for you.
Overall, I honestly don’t think you can go wrong with these. The only reason to look elsewhere would be if you do have quite wide feet or if you really need a higher heel.
Since the adipowers, Adidas released a version called the Adidas Leistung, which I was not overly keen on. However, they have updated that with the Adidas Leistung 16.ii. This updated version may be worth a look but I am yet to review it properly.
These are kind of the step down from the Adipowers. Not quite as good but still a very good shoe.
The price reflects the slight drop in quality. These are a good alternative if you feel like the Adipowers are too expensive.
The power perfects only come in the one colour way, which is obviously annoying if you hate red and white.
The heel on these is around 0.6 inches, slightly lower than the other shoes in this guide. These heels are also made from a high-density foam material. It will compress very slightly.
Due to this compressive heel, I would rule these out for Olympic lifters. You guys really need a more solid sole.
For general gym use, these are a great option, the price is much lower and you will still get most of the benefits of a decent weightlifting shoe.
Many powerlifters might even consider these. Dan Green has used them to squat over 800lbs in the past, so they can't be too bad.
I actually started with these and then upgraded to my Adipowers. I'm somewhat ashamed to say, the reason for the switch was mainly vanity.
I just preferred how the Adipower shoes looked.
If you want a good pair of shoes for squatting at a reasonable price, these will do just fine.
Nike have now released the Romaleos 3 weightlifting shoes so you can check those out if you wish.
I, however, am including the 2s because they are so popular and have been the direct rival to Adipowers over the years.
On another note, I actually hate the look of the Romaleos 3 and really like the look of these.
In many ways, these are very comparable to the Adipowers. Same heel height of 0.75 inches, same kind of material and quite similar in overall performance.
These shoes do differ in a couple of big ways, though.
Firstly, they are a bit wider and have more room in the toe-box. If you were put off the Adipowers by my comments about them being narrow, then these could be the shoes for you.
Secondly, they include an extra metatarsal strap to keep the fit as tight as possible. I think this was a very wise move, it allows the shoe to cater for the wider foot but also provide a snug fit for people with narrower feet too.
You have a great range of colors to choose from here as well. I like the red and black. Just be warned, these shoes are getting harder to get hold of. Probably due to the release of the new version so get in quick if you want a pair.
Reebok have been hitting the weightlifting community hard in recent year with all of their products.
Mostly under their crossfit brand. As a result, most of their products have tried to cater to crossfitters. Nothing wrong with that, but it has meant that they haven’t really released a proper pair of dedicated weightlifting shoes.
Until Now. The release of the Legacy Lifter, means that Reebok have a proper specialist lifting shoe.
I think the Legacy lifters can be grouped among the Adipowers and Romaleos.
All three feature the same heel height of 0.75 inches and are all made of quite similar materials.
Like the Nikes, these are a bit wider than Adipowers and feature the double foot straps. You certainly won’t get much lateral movement of your feet inside these shoes.
Honestly, if you are choosing between these and the Romaleos, you just need to go with what you prefer the look of. I do like the black and gold version of these.
You might want to stand out from the crowd a bit, since everybody seems to have the Nikes now. In that case, grab a pair of these.
The Do-wins have been very popular in the Oly lifting community. The Do-win weightlifting shoes by Pendlay has a more classic look to the upper than most on the list.
However, for all of the classic looks, this shoe gets away from traditional Olympic weightlifting shoes by opting for a hard-plastic heel instead of wood.
The height of the heel is 0.75 inches, the more common height nowadays.
The Do-Wins are very wide so will certainly be suitable if you have wide feet. The manufacturers actually recommend opting for half a size below your usual.
The double strap does mean you can tighten them up nicely around your forefoot.
I have seen some reviewers say that half a size down is even still too big. So, if you have narrow feet then you probably want to stay away from these ones to avoid sizing headaches.
They are some very sturdy and hard wearing shoes and should last you a good while. The pricing is reasonable too.
With a few colour options to choose from, you should be able to find a style that suits you. I actually quite like the classic-looking white version.
These are the cheapest shoes out of my picks. I have included them, for that reason but they still perform well.
I would call them a perfect entry-level shoe. Good features but falls slightly behind the top brands. Then again, for the price, they represent excellent overall value.
The heels on them are a little higher than most at 1 inch, a good thing if you need that extra height due to limited ankle mobility.
The only downside, as far as the heel is concerned, is that they are made of a very hard rubber on the bottom.
Obviously, rubber is going to compress more than the plastic or wooden heals available.
To tell the truth, for an entry-level lifter, it probably won’t be noticeable.
Looks-wise, I think they look alright. Nothing too flashy about them but not ugly either.
I have heard a couple of complaints about the material not being breathable so if your feet get rather hot when you train, comfort might be an issue at times.
If you are looking to "test the waters" and want to try some cheap squat shoes, these are certainly an option.
I have to admit, I didn't know a huge deal about the technical side of these shoes.
I had heard some good things, seen them before and just really loved the look of them.
Instead of recommending them on looks alone, I did do a bit more research to help you out.
Position USA are an Olympic weightlifting brand so it stands to reason that these are my top choice for Oly lifters.
The wooden heel is a feature that I think the Olympic lifter will appreciate more than a powerlifter or general gym trainee.
The heels are also a little higher than most of the other shoes I have reviewed. They have an effective heel height of about 1 inch so they make staying upright in a squat quite a bit easier.
Vibram rubber soles and the tapered heel, provide grip and added stability
I have been extremely tempted to get myself a pair of these for a long while now but my Adipowers are still in perfect working order and have served me well.
I have to say, writing this review has tempted me further towards these.
If I got more into Olympic weightlifting, I would certainly snatch a pair (ha! See what I did there?).
Seriously, they look stunning. That blue suede sitting on top of the hand-crafted and stained wooden heel. Beautiful!
For the majority – Take your pick between the Adipowers and Romaleos based on how wide your foot is and which shoe you prefer the look of.
For Olympic lifters – Position USA P2.1 all day!
For the new lifters or the budget conscious – VS Athletic Weightlifting shoes 2 are the way to go.
If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment and I will do what I can to help you out.
Finally, if you do think this was a useful guide, help out your fellow-lifters by sharing it around social media!
I aim to make this strength training equipment guide the most in-depth available.
Whether you are a beginner who wants to learn about a piece of equipment, or a seasoned lifter looking to buy some new gear for the home gym, this guide has you covered.
It's gonna be a long old read, so here's a navigation table so you can skip to any equipment you like.
Please note: for my recommended products, I have factored in price as well as how good the item is. I have found, what I believe, is the best all round, cost-effective option.
A vital piece of strength training equipment. Provides a safe way to squat and bench press.
Also good for a number of other exercises: Overhead presses, rack pulls, inverted rows, pin presses and usually pull-ups.
Usage and buying tips:
Set safety bars at correct height if adjustable
Walk the bar out of the rack backwards
Don't overload the bar on one side. It will tip!
Perform curls inside them at your own risk.
Video review of the RML-490 rack:
Gives you the ability to do many of the same exercises as you can with a full power rack, without taking up as much space.
Usually stands don't have proper safety bars, you will definitely need a spotter.
Usage and buying tips:
Set safety bars at correct height if adjustable
Walk the bar out of the rack backwards
Don't overload the bar on one side. It will tip!
Usage and buying tips:
Some non-competition bars have no knurling in the center. I suggest finding one that does have a knurled center if you plan on squatting with it.
As the name suggests, designed for powerlifting exercises primarily.
Much stiffer than an Olympic bar since the added flex or "whip" isn't needed.
Power bars will usually have bushes in the sleeves instead of bearings, as they don't need to rotate as freely.
Buddy Caps Texas Power Bar
Usage and buying tips:
Not suited for Olympic lifting exercises, the more aggressive knurling on most power bars will tear your hands apart.
Check the tensile strength of the bars and get one that isn't going to be damaged by your heaviest lifts.
Very heavy duty bars made for very heavy deadlifts.
More aggressive knurling than any other bar, supremely high loading capacity and longer than standard bars. All things that will enhance your deadlift.
Rogue Ohio deadlift Bar
Usage and buying tips:
If you compete in a federation that doesn't use a deadlift bar on meet day, you probably shouldn't train with one too often.
Not suitable for other lifts. it's a deadlift bar.
Allows you to perform deadlifts with the weight in-line with your center of gravity, instead of being out in front.
Great for extra quad activation and less posterior chain involvement.
Usage and buying tips:
Make sure you get one with long sleeves if you want to deadlift heavy. There are some available with shorter sleeves that can only fit a few plates on.
Changes the center of mass when squatting. Brings the center of mass further forward, more like a front squat.
Forces you to stay much more upright and is usually more comfortable for those with lower back trouble.
Demands less shoulder flexibility. So, if you can't squat due to shoulder issues, this could be a life-saver.
Still a very challenging exercise and a great accessory movement for improving your squat.
Usage and buying tips:
Try it out if you have lower back trouble. An SSB should ease the pressure on your lumber.
Get one with a good amount of padding for extra comfort and stability over your shoulders.
Fixed bench press rack and bench. Usually there isn't any adjustment and they can vary in design quite a bit.
Probably won't have any safety bars.
Ader Olympic Bench Press Set. Pretty good bench for bench for a home gym. Has a 1500lbs capacity rating and comes with a bar.
Usage and buying tips:
Use a spotter if there aren't any safety bars.
If the bench is too high for you to plant your feet, try putting your feet on a couple of plates, boxes or aerobics steps.
As the name suggests, these are the benches used in powerlifting competitions.
Will usually be higher quality all round than a standard commercial bench press.
Adjustable rack height as well as safety bars making benching much easier.
Rogue Westside 2.0 Competition bench
Usage and buying tips:
Set the safety bars right below your chest when you are benching. If you are benching with you shoulders retracted and a slight arch in your lower back, all it should take is for you to flatten your back out in order for the barbell to rest on the safety bars.
The inclined angle of the bench slightly changes the way your muscles work to press the weight.
Compared to flat benching, you will work more of your upper chest and shoulder muscles. Most people will need to use slightly less weight.
Body-Solid GDIB46L Incline Bench. A fairly cheap bench that is still of good quality. Also has a few different adjustments so you can switch the angles up a bit. Not too keen on the leg developer, but it I see it as an added bonus that I might use at times.
Usage and buying tips:
Ideally, a bench that is adjustable for a couple of different incline angles will give more options.
I generally prefer quite a low incline. Once you start getting past around 30 degrees in incline angle, the shoulders come into play much more.
The opposite to the incline bench applies here. You will work less muscle of the upper chest.
Your triceps will also get more involvement than on the incline, but less than a flat bench.
Generally, people are able to handle more weight once they get used to the decline position. The extra weight is mostly due to a decrease in range of motion on the decline bench.
Body-Solid SBD351G Proclub Decline Bench. Commercial approved quality bench for non-commercial pricing. If you want a dedicated decline bench in a home gym, this is a great choice.
Usage and buying tips:
Start light and feel the movement out. It can be a strange position to get used to so don't jump straight in with your usual bench press weight.
A staple in pretty much every gym.
Will be mainly used for dumbbell work.
Can also be placed inside of a power rack if you want to bench safely without a spotter.
PowerBlock Sport Bench. Super sturdy bench, 5 incline adjustments from flat to upright. The seat can also be adjusted to stop you sliding off mid-set.
Usage and buying tips:
Make sure the bench is sturdy. Many adjustable benches shake around, particularly in the incline position.
Incorporate some dumbbell pressing in your program. Dumbbells are great for getting more of a stretch than the barbell allows on presses.
Be sure to work the full range of motion to get the benefits.
These will be what you find in the majority of gyms.
Can be used for a plethora of exercises.
You can incorporate dumbbell variations of barbell exercises like presses and rows to increase the range of motion of the exercise.
Will be very expensive to buy a full set for a home gym.
Rogue Rubber Hex Dumbbells
Usage and buying tips:
Work through the entire range of motion, don't cheat yourself.
Much more cost effective option if you're looking for home gym equipment.
Can be bought in various different weight ranges to suit your strength levels.
IronMaster Quick-Lock Adjustable dumbbells. These give you the quick-change over that you don't get with the spin-lock style dumbbells, while still retaining the actually dumbbell "feel" that many quick-change sets lose. Certainly the go-to dumbbells for a home gym.
Usage and buying tips:
Pay for quality here. There are some that are a little flimsy and rattle when you lift, very annoying.
Some sets also end up being quite bulky and awkward once you get into the higher weights. Bare that in mind when you browse your options.
A 2-in1 pull-up and dip station.
Some come with various grips for pull-ups and even varied dip-bar widths.
Fitness Reality X-Class High Capacity Power Tower. Bit of a mouthful to pronounce! If you are going to get a power tower, get one that's sturdy and doesn't shake around. This one is quite a big investment but the cheaper ones are infuriatingly flimsy.
In my opinion, you should put the money towards a good power rack that you can do pullups on instead, and then buy some parallel bar or a dips attachment, if available.
Usage and buying tips:
Make sure there is plenty of space between any handles on the pull-up bar. Some models come with different angled grips but lack space for your hands to do a regular pull-up.
If you have a power rack that allows pull-ups, you probably don't need to buy one of these. Just get some dip bars.
A set of parallel bars used for performing dips.
Some models have slightly angled bars so that you can vary grip width. Different grip widths will work your muscles slightly differently.
Body-Solid Commercial Dip Station. A nice, solid piece of equipment that would be suitable for a home gym or commercial gym. Has a 500lbs max capacity and the bars are slightly angles for different grip widths. More expensive than some but you pay for the quality with gym gear.
Usage and buying tips:
Dips are an excellent upper body builder.
They work your chest heavily as well as your triceps.
Lean your body forward with a slightly wider grip to target the chest more.
Stay more upright with a closer grip and tucked elbows to switch the emphasis more to your triceps.
One of the very oldest and time-tested pieces of strength training equipment.
Extremely versatile and unique in the way they force your muscles to work.
Use them for intense interval workouts, pure strength training or explosive, athletic movements.
Perform Better First Place Competition Kettlebell. Available from 8kg up to 48kg. Very solid kettlebell with a nice finish on the handle and no sharp burrs or edges to tear your hands up. Read my full post on finding the best kettlebell.
Usage and buying tips:
Use them for full-body, explosive movements like swings, cleans and press, snatches and Turkish get-ups to get the most out of them.
Males start with 12-16kg.
Females for for 8-12kg to start.
Go for competition kettlebells. They are shaped to be more comfortable to use. Plus, the size of the kettlebell and handle is the same, no matter the weight, which helps with technique consistency.
There are hardly any "machines" or contraptions on this list of strength training equipment. So, you can appreciate how much I rate this machine.
It's used to strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
Having a strong posterior chain is helpful strength sports, team sports, athletics and daily life.
A G.H.D is pretty expensive for your home gym but is an excellent piece of equipment if you have access to it or can buy one.
Rogue Abram GHD 2.0
Usage and buying tips:
I love doing these as an accessory after lower body movements.
It's really an awesome way to strengthen your posterior chain without putting any compressive load on your spine.
The internet is an amazing resource for gaining knowledge and information. But is does have its downfall:
Information online is often broken down into single pages or topics, which makes learning a large amount of information on a single subject rather time-consuming.
If you ever want a deep-dive into a topic, reading a book by experts in the field is still the way to go. That's why I have created my ultimate list of the best strength training books available.
They say knowledge is power. Well, in this case its strength and power!
Below is a series of what I feel are essential books for different aspects of strength training.
I have broken them down into categories for easy navigation but many books overlap and could have gone into multiple categories.
In all honesty, you will learn something from any book on this list, no matter what type of training you are involved with.
Practical Programming for Strength Training - Mark Rippetoe & Andy Baker
Powerlifting - Dan Austin & Bryan Mann
Westside Barbell Book of Methods - Louie Simmons
Louie Simmons and his Westside Barbell brand is a huge name in powerlifting. His methods are somewhat divisive but they have certainly made an impact on the powerlifting world.
The writing is pretty sporadic but there is a lot of information to give you some different views and methods of training.
New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding - Arnold Schwarzenegger
The Weightlifting Encyclopedia - Arthur Drechsler
Scientific principles of strength – Dr. Mike Israetel, James Hoffman and Chad Wesley-Smith
As the title suggests, this book provides an in-depth look at the science and principles behind programming for short and long-term strength gain.
Definitely not for the beginner lifter but coaches and individuals who are looking to learn about proper program design will benefit from this one.
The Science and Practice of Strength Training – Vladimir Zatoriorsky and William Kraemer
I would deem this to be almost essential reading for anybody involved with strength training.
Divided into 3 parts, the book covers a wide variety of practical information as it relates to strength training.
There is a lot of scientific information and it is rather textbook-like but is still readable and digestible for anybody.
Essentials of Strength and Conditioning - Gregory Haff and Travis Triplett
Becoming a Supple Leopard - Dr. Kelly Starrett
Movement - Gray Cook
Gray's book outlines the importance of assessing and fixing dysfunctional movement patterns to improve performance and reduce injury occurrence.
The book is a textbook style book and is certainly not light reading. However, it provides a great deal of important information for serious lifters, athletes and coaches.
Never Gymless - Ross Enamait
This is a 230 page book that covers a wide range of exercises and their progressions for a number of different training goals.
The book also features information on programming and periodization for bodyweight exercises as well as sample routines.
Note: purchase this from Ross's website (rosstraining.com); it's way cheaper than Amazon!
This section is for books that I love but don't necessarily fit into the categories above. However, I think lifters will get a lot out of reading them. I imagine this section will be added to and updated the most over time.
Never Let Go: A philosophy of lifting, living and learning - Dan John
For now, that concludes my list. I know there are plenty of others great books that could have gone into the list.
However, if you just read the books listed here to start with, you will gain more knowledge than you know what to do with.
Let me know what you think of my list in the comments and suggest some of your own for me to read myself.
I’m sure you will agree that for such a simple movement at its core, the deadlift can become very technical. With so many little nuances and teaching points, it can be hard to think straight and remember them all during the lift.
When I first learned to deadlift, I would just go up to the bar, get in the correct starting position and then pull. My start position was good but after that, my technique would always look and feel different.
That was until I came up with a small, rememberable sequence of coaching points or cues that I could run through during my deadlift set up…
During this article, I will explain each of them.
Sure, these cues will help your deadlift technique. However, you must actually have some form of a deadlift technique first. What I mean is that you need to know what a good start position looks like, feels like and how to perform the lift first.
My deadlift form guide article will give you all the info you need for this.
To help you quickly with your start position, I will give you 2 rules to follow:
As long as you adhere to those rules and your start position resembles something like the picture above, the following cues will help to reinforce your technique.
Trying to remember too many teaching points for the deadlift at once is likely to confuse matters further. So, after getting into a strong start position, I have a simple sequence of just 3 cues that I like to go through.
Here they are in the exact order that I think about them:
After not using this cue for years, it has become one of my favourites.
The purpose of the “bend the bar” cue is to get your upper back tight before you even lift the bar from the ground. This will help you to maintain a flatter back and neutral spine position.
This is a cue that I have only started using quite recently; I used to make sure my back position wouldn’t change during the lift, but I would begin the pull with my upper back rounded.
Pulling with a rounded upper back is a technique used by some great lifters, but I think the majority should aim to pull with a flatter back.
The rounded upper back start position usually helps with a faster pull from the floor. However, I have seen and experienced it have detrimental effects at lockout.
Lifting with a flatter back overall from start to finish tends to make it much easier to finish the lift. You may just have to be a bit more patient as you weight for the bar to break the ground if you are switching from a more rounded upper back technique.
The execution of this cue is simple:
Once you are in your desired start position for the deadlift, simply rotate your arm outwards as if you are trying to bend the bar around your shins.
Another way to think about this is to “point your elbows backwards”.You should instantly feel your lats engage and your chest will puff out slightly.
Correct and strong abdominal bracing is absolutely crucial for holding a solid, safe spine position throughout the deadlift.
Too many people completely ignore abdominal bracing before a lift or they simply don’t know how to do it correctly.
A common misconception is that you need to draw your stomach inwards to brace your abs. In fact, it is the opposite.
Right before you lift, as you suck in your big breath of air, you should be expanding your stomach to increase what is known as “intra-abdominal pressure”
This video from Brian Alsruhe explains it all in detail:
This cue is essentially the Valsalva manoeuvre, here’s how to use it:
Before lifting, you should be taking a big breath. It is up to you when you take this breath, but I like to do it after I set up, right before I pull. Some people take their breath while they are standing before setting up to the bar, but I prefer not to hold my breath any longer than necessary.
As you draw this breath in, you should expand your stomach, so it makes a little pot belly, like a buddha.
When you have sucked in all the air you can and extended your stomach, now you need to brace your stomach hard as if you are about to take a punch to the gut.
Keep the belly extended and abs tensed throughout the lift. This will help stabilise your spine and minimise flexion, which could cause injury.
This final cue should help you to initiate the lift with the correct muscles, which are the big, powerful muscles of your thighs.
People often think of the deadlift as “pulling the weight from the floor”. Of course, it is a pull, but it should begin with a forceful push from your legs.
By starting the lift by pushing with your legs, instead of pulling with your back, you stand a better chance holding a stronger position for the lockout.
If you initiate the lift with your legs, you can then use your glutes and spinal erector muscles to power your hips through as the bar passes your knees.
This cue is a simple one:
You should have completed all the steps in your deadlift set up and used the previous two cues to get yourself as tight as possible.
Once you are tight and ready to go, think of the initial movement as a leg press. You are pressing the floor away from you just as you would if your feet were on the platform of a leg press machine.
Once the bar reaches your knees, you will then be in a strong position to drive your hips through and finish the lift.
Once you have a basic understanding of how to properly perform the lift, the coaching points above can be used to give you a memorable, repeatable routine.
Try them out and see how they work for you.
You may even have your own little sequence of cues, in which case, I would love to hear how your mind works when you're about to rip a heavy weight from the floor. Let me know in the comments section!
Most lifters have asked the question, “what supplements should I take?” at some point. I mean, if you train, it’s hard to get away from talk about pills, powders and bars; the supplement industry is booming!
Booming with bullshit and products that do nothing but burn a hole in your pocket. With that said, there are a select few supplements that may be worth your while and can enhance your training.
The trouble is you must dig through mountains of absurd claims, marketing hype and poorly controlled, often biased studies if you want to find the supplements that work.
To help you find the best supplements from the get-go, I have done a bit of research and used my experience of taking various supplements (many an absolute waste of time) to come up with a list of my top 5 supplements that actually work.
This is quite possibly the easiest to add to the list due to its’ popularity and the importance of protein for building muscle. However, you need to be aware that there is no special muscle-building secret in the whey protein; it is just a very good way of increasing your total protein intake.
If you are already getting enough high-quality protein from sources with a complete amino acid profile, you may not need to take a whey protein supplement.
On the other hand, whey is a quickly absorbed and highly bioavailable source of protein. A good whey supplement will also contain few calories from carbs or fat, so it can help to keep protein high without bumping total calorie intake up too much.
Whey is an animal source of protein and a by-product of the curd and cheese manufacturing process and was originally thought of as a simple waste product. Whey has a very high protein content and makes up around 20% of the protein found in milk, the other type of milk protein is casein, which I will touch upon later.
There are two common types of whey protein that are found in supplement form: whey concentrate and whey isolate.
Whey concentrate – this is the most widely available and economical way to consume whey protein. The protein is very pure but still contains a certain amount of carbohydrates and fat, which means the total protein content of whey concentrate is usually around 80%.
Whey isolate – isolate whey protein goes through further filtration processes, which means it is usually more expensive to produce and purchase. The benefits of isolate protein are that many of the carbohydrates, in the form of lactose, and fats have been removed.
This leaves a powder with around a 90% protein content.
In all honesty, most people will do just fine with the cheaper concentrate version.
Whey isolate may be a better option for individuals with an intolerance to lactose.
It may also suit those who need to be very careful with total calorie or carbohydrate intake. For example, later stage contest-prep bodybuilders.
Whey protein can be taken at any time to increase total daily protein intake. I look at it mainly as a quick and convenient way to ingest more protein.
It may be beneficial to take whey post-workout as opposed to slower digesting sources. Taking whey after a workout has been observed to have a positive effect on muscle protein synthesis.
However, you don’t need to rush to consume your protein as soon as you re-rack the bar for your last set. The old myth of an “anabolic window” of 60 minutes may not be as important as people once believed. This post from TheBalancedBodyNutrition.com does a good job of summarising some of the science.
Whey and casein are different types of high-quality protein and the debate on which is better is ongoing. The difference between the two probably isn’t worth worrying about for most people.
There has been a couple of studies (effects of whey and casein after exercise and ingestion of whey and casein protein in a meal) that suggest combining whey protein and casein protein after a workout may be beneficial. The idea is that the faster-digesting whey helps to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, while the casein is digested more slowly and prevents the breakdown of muscle tissue.
Instead of buying both types, mixing whey protein with milk should be sufficient due to milk’s high casein protein content.
I could have selected a whole bunch of different vitamin and mineral supplements to be included here. Generally, vitamin and mineral supplements do work as intended but are only usually necessary where there is a deficiency.
This is the very reason that I chose to focus on vitamin D3; it has been observed that vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in cooler, darker climates.
On top of that, increasing vitamin D3 intake has been linked to a whole range of benefits that could have some very positive effects on your health and performance.
Stronger bones and teeth. Along with calcium, it is widely known that vitamin D is responsible for improving bone density and reducing the risk of developing osteoporosis.
Improved immune function and lower risk of developing a range of conditions from heart disease to multiple sclerosis. A study from 2010 even highlights how vitamin D can prevent you from getting the flu.
Weight loss. It is thought vitamin D can help with weight management; it may have some appetite suppressant and metabolic effects that could boost weight loss.
The are several types of vitamin D. The most important for your health and the types you will most likely come across are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3.
Vitamin D2 can be ingested via your diet by eating various plant and animal sources since the vitamin occurs naturally in plants.
Vitamin D3, on the other hand, is synthesised by your body after you have exposed yourself to ultraviolet rays, usually from the sun. Therefore, deficiency is prevalent in colder countries and civilisations where people spend large chunks of the day working inside.
It is generally accepted that vitamin D3 is likely the most important to supplement for the health benefits.
There is a wealth of studies and information proving the benefits of increasing your omega-3 fatty acid intake. The types of omega-3 fats known as EPA and DHA are known to be especially beneficial to health.
Another type of omega-3 oil found in some supplements is ALA. However, this is usually less crucial since it is found in many plant sources. On the other hand, EPA and DHA are found primarily in marine animal, which we tend to eat less of.
Lower risk factors associated with strokes and heart disease. Omega-3 fats have been observed to have numerous benefits for heart health, as shown by this study.
Decrease inflammation in the body. Studies like this have continuously linked omega-3 supplementation with lower levels of inflammation.
Stronger, healthier joints and bones. By increasing the amount of calcium available in the bones, omega-3s can lead to stronger bones and less risk of developing conditions like osteoporosis and arthritis.
As two of the most common sources of omega-3 fatty acids, there is often much debate about which source is superior.
Of course, if you are vegan or have a seafood allergy, flaxseed oil wins right away. For everybody else, you may be wondering which is the best omega-3 source.
Both sources can increase your intake of the important EPA and DHA fats, but they do so in diverse ways.
Fish and krill oils contain EPA and DHA in relatively large quantities, so you get an instant boost from supplementing with them.
On the other hand, flaxseed oil contains the other type of omega-3 fat: ALA. By using ALA, your body is able to synthesise EPA and DHA but it only happens when your body already has enough ALA to fulfil its primary functions.
The bottom line is that you are going to need to consume more flaxseed oil than fish or krill oil if you want to boost your EPA and DHA intake. Therefore, I prefer to go with a marine source like fish oil or krill oil.
A bodybuilding favourite and one of the most studied supplements around. Unlike most supplements that claim to boost muscle growth and performance, creatine does actually have the research to back it up.
By aiding in the regeneration of your muscles primary fuel source: adenosine triphosphate or “ATP”, creatine can help to boost power output as well as endurance in the muscles.
More energy during workouts. As well as helping with the chemical reactions involved in the synthesis of ATP, creatine itself can be used as an energy source. During fast, explosive movements like weightlifting, your body turns to its creatine phosphate stores for energy.
Hydrates the muscles and could lead to an increase in protein synthesis as a result.
Bigger, fuller looking muscles. Another benefit of creatine effectively “pulling” water into the muscle cells is that they can appear fuller and look bigger.
Creatine cycling is not necessary since your body will not build up a tolerance to it like it does with other substances like caffeine. There was also a study on the long-term creatine supplementation in 2003 that showed no adverse effects from 21 consecutive months of taking creatine.
A loading phase of around one week where you take a higher daily dose of around 20g per day of creatine to saturate the muscles cells more quickly is often suggested.
However, this protocol is not needed. While there may be a quicker response from the creatine thanks to the loading phase, the long-term results will be the same as taking 5g each day on a consistent basis.
The possibility of stomach cramping, which some people complain of, is likely going to be higher if you go with the loading method.
There are a ridiculous number of “specialised” pre-workout supplements available that contain all manner of different ingredients. The trouble with these type of supplements is they can include ingredients that are unnecessary hence, making them quite costly but ineffective.
I have taken pre-workout supplements before and I do like them since I certainly enjoy the extra energy. The likelihood is only a very small number of the ingredients in a pre-workout help you in the gym.
For this reason, I have picked the two ingredients that I feel really can benefit you when taken pre-workout: caffeine and citrulline malate. I guess this really makes it my top 6 supplements that actually work.
I feel like this question is self-explanatory; caffeine is one of the most commonly used drugs on earth and is well known for increasing energy levels.
It has also been shown to increase power output while suppressing pain and fatigue. A study of the effects of caffeine on rugby players so how it can improve performance, even in a sleep-deprived state.
Increased power and total training volume output
Suppression of fatigue and pain, which allows longer and harder training sessions.
Burn more calories. It has been observed that caffeine can increase energy expenditure by around 100 calories when ingesting 600mg of caffeine. To note, 600mg is probably too much for most people so I would not suggest taking this much. However, you are still going to burn more calories than normal when taking less than 600mg.
Unlike creatine, your body will build up a tolerance to caffeine after a while. As a result, the effects will diminish and taking a larger dose is not recommended and it may not even work.
Therefore, going through periods without caffeine is a good idea to allow your body to become sensitive to it again. Taking a few days or even a week off after every couple of months of supplementing it should help.
Most pre-made pre-workout supplements contain around 200mg of caffeine per serving. The amount you should take will depend on individual factors like body weight and your personal tolerance.
Between 200mg and 400mg is the general recommendation before a workout. I would certainly try to keep total intake below 500mg in a single day.
Citrulline malate may be known as a “pump product” since it influences the blood vessels in a way that increases the tight, pumped feeling of your muscles when you train them.
When ingested, citrulline is converted into arginine and stimulates the production of nitric oxide, which acts as a vasodilator and relaxes the muscles of the blood vessels. This increases blood flow and gives that pumped feeling.
Although the pump feels nice and could be a psychological factor in a training session, that by itself probably isn’t enough to make citrulline worthwhile.
Fortunately, citrulline malate has been shown to have some positive effects on athletic performance. Taking around 5-10 grams of citrulline malate 30-60 minutes before a workout should be sufficient.
Improved blood flow and greater muscle pump.
Enhanced performance and increased training volume.
Better recovery and less muscle soreness post-workout.
If you do like to take an all-in-one pre-workout supplement or you don’t want to worry about dosing caffeine and citrulline separately, I have found a very good pre-workout that contains both.
Altius from JackedFactory is a solid pre-workout supplement that contains both caffeine and citrulline in good dosages. If you are set on taking an actual pre-workout supplement and have the budget, this would be my recommendation.
Adding supplements to an already healthy diet can be an effective way to improve health and performance. However, they should not be seen as a miracle cure or something to be relied upon.
For the most part, if you are able to reach your nutritional requirements from proper food, you should go down that route first.
As with any dietary changes, you should always consult with your GP or a registered medical professional. This info is just my opinion and isn't meant to be medical advice, be sure to do as much research as possible before adding new supplements to your routine.
Powerlifting vs bodybuilding, what are the main differences between the two? Honestly, they are completely different sports but they do both require you to get in the gym and lift some iron.
However, the way you approach your lifting and nutrition will have a few key differences depending on whether you are a powerlifter or a bodybuilder.
This article will outline the main variances between each sport so you can tailor your own training approach depending on where your goals lie.
Even if you aren’t seeking to compete in either sport, this article can still help you out. After all, you are likely to be drawn more towards either a strength goal or an aesthetics one so your training needs to match.
Powerlifting is a strength sport that focuses around three barbell movements: The squat, bench press and deadlift. The idea is to master each of those three lifts to lift the most weight possible across all of them.
To even up the playing field, competitions are divided into different weight classes and even age classes as well. The weight classes vary among the different federations within powerlifting.
The rules for a successful rep on each lift may also vary slightly between different federations, as do the rules on equipment and drug testing.
One of the most well-known federations is the international powerlifting federation (IPF), which does drug test its’ competitors and holds itself to some fairly high standards for the what constitutes a passing attempt on each lift.
In powerlifting, every single lift is judged by three judges who award either a red (fail) or a white (pass) light. A lifter needs 2 out of 3 white lights for a lift to count.
A lifter gets three attempts at each lift with their highest weight recorded on each to give them what is known as their “total”, the sum of their highest weight in the squat, bench press and deadlift.
For a more detailed look at all the rules of powerlifting, you can check out the IPF’s rule book. Please note, as I mentioned earlier, these are the rules for that federation and some things may vary in the other organisations.
Bodybuilding is all about sculpting the most appealing looking physique as it is judged purely on aesthetic appearance. The winner should be the competitor who has ticked the most boxes when it comes to building and then showing off their physique.
Like powerlifting, bodybuilding incorporates the use of judges who mark each competitor on a list of criteria that includes muscle mass, body proportions, body fat levels, skin tone and their posing. As you can see, bodybuilding isn’t just about getting as big as possible; there are several different factors that must be acknowledged.
As is the case with powerlifting, there are several different bodybuilding federations so some rules will vary within each. Typically, a bodybuilding show will be split into two parts: pre-judging and the finals show. These may be held in the morning and then the evening or all in one go.
During pre-judging, all competitors in a weight class or category will be judged alongside each other through a series of standard poses.
During the finals show or “evening show”, competitors have the chance to show off their physique and impress the judges further by going through their own choreographed posing routine.
After the judge’s scores have been totalled from both portions of the competition, the winners are announced on stage.
If you are a powerlifter, the end goal of your training is to increase your squat, bench press and deadlift numbers. There may be times where you focus on a sub-goal like building leg size but your reason for doing so should always relate back to the three competition lifts.
The actual training for powerlifters is going to vary a lot based on your current level and the amount of time you have been training for.
As an example, somebody completely new to the powerlifting movements will be able to make vast improvements relatively quickly with a very basic program. On the other hand, a more advanced lifter may need to break his/her training down into multiple phases in order to make small gains over the course of an entire year.
As you have probably guessed, there are almost endless methods and programs out there to help you become a stronger powerlifter. Instead of going through all the individual programs and the nuances of each, I have listed a set of guidelines that you can put into consideration when selecting a powerlifting training program.
I have already covered this briefly but if you have been training for powerlifting for a long time, you are going to do more work if you want your body to adapt further.
Beginners are in the enviable position of being able to make strength gains on almost weekly basis without the need for complicated programs. Simply performing the main lifts a few sets and looking to progress from workout to workout is likely to be enough for a novice.
As you advance through your training life, gains will become harder to come by since you need to find ways to push your body further and force it to adapt. This is where you may have to get more creative with your programming and possibly even have phases of training with more specific goals.
Check out this guide on how to pick a program If you want a bit more detail and some recommendations on selecting a program by training level.
The goal of powerlifting is to perform heavy squats, bench presses and deadlifts. Therefore, your program should include heavy squats, bench presses and deadlifts if you want to get better at them.
On top of that, the rest of your training needs to be focused on improving those three lifts. If anything is in your program for any reason other than making you better at the competition lifts, take it out.
Your body gets stronger because it adapts to the demands you put it under so it can cope better with them in the future. The absolute key to any powerlifting program is progression over time; you need to be training and forcing your body to make adaptations.
This overload can come be the result of several factors: lifting more weight, performing more reps or sets and reducing rest times are just a few ways in which you can force progression over time.
Any good program will have some form of progression already built into it, you just need to decide if a given progression scheme matches your current goals and training level.
Although general guidelines can be used to get a rough idea of the best program for you, there are always going to be some individual factors to consider. If a program doesn’t cater to your own personal set of circumstances, you will not follow through with it.
This is a big reason that online coaching has become so popular; people have realised that customised programming is likely to yield better results. In my opinion, most beginner level trainees can get away with a generalised program but may want to seek additional help and personalisation once a more advanced stage is reached.
Most people should not be designing their own program until they have gained enough knowledge to do so. If you have no desire to learn about proper programming for lifting, you will fare better by sticking to pre-made, expertly designed programs or hiring a coach.
On the other hand, if you want to start gaining the know-how behind the principles of program design, a great place to start is the book “practical programming” by Mark Rippetoe.
You know that the goals of powerlifting and bodybuilding building are very different, so surely the training must be wildly different as well, right?
In fact, the principles spoke about in the powerlifting training section above still hold true for bodybuilding. The only difference would be that less focus should be placed on maximal strength in the squat, bench press and deadlift.
Performing those three lifts with as much weight for a single rep is not going to be of great use to a bodybuilder. However, progression in those exercises, as well as other movements should still be a focus.
There are many bodybuilders that put their efforts into just destroying a muscle group by splitting their training into weekly session for each body part. The reality is, training a muscle just once per week is sub-optimal.
The recovery cycle after a training session will last a maximum of 2-3 days, which means the muscle is ready to be trained again after that period of time. If your training volume is properly managed, you shouldn’t feel too sore and should be able to train a muscle group every 2-3 days.
For more info on this, go to this post: How often should you train a muscle group?
The body-part split method, where you have a separate day for each muscle, was popularised by professional bodybuilders. This isn’t a problem but you must realise that these guys are seriously advanced and likely to be using performance-enhancing drugs, which do change the rules of training recovery.
I must apologise in advance for the somewhat misleading title; there really isn’t one “best” program. There are way too many individual differences for there to be one program that will be optimal for everybody.
What I can offer you are some general rules and an example of what should be a very solid bodybuilding routine.
The following program is a very simple, yet effective program that trains the entire body. I would consider these to be a very general routine that will build a good base of muscle for most people.
The workout is broken down into two upper body workouts and two lower body workouts each week. To take advantage of the benefits of heavier training as well as higher rep training, there is a heavier and lighter day for each workout.
Sets X Reps
4 x 6
2 x 6
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Kneeling cable crunch
3 x 8-12
Sets X Reps
Bench press (M)
4 x 6
Bent over row (M)
4 x 6
Overhead press (M)
2 x 6
Weighted chin-ups (M)
2 x 6
Incline dumbbell curls
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Sets X Reps
Front squat (M)
3 x 10
Romanian deadlift (M)
3 x 10
3 x 8-12
3 x 8-12
Kneeling cable crunch
3 x 8-12
Sets X Reps
Incline Bench Press (M)
3 x 10
Bent over row (M)
3 x 10
Seated dumbbell press
3 x 10
3 x 10
3 x 8-12
Close grip bench press
3 x 8-12
* Sets and reps listed are main working sets. They do not include warm-up sets.
How to progress
The exercises labelled "(M)" are your "main" movements and should be your primary focus of progression.
For the first week, start with a weight that you are confident you can do the required amount of sets and reps with.
Start relatively light and then progress from there. If you can complete the required seats and reps, add weight to that exercise next time.
Only add weight once you can perform the target sets and reps with good technique. You may not be able to increase every single week.
You should still aim to increase the weight on the other exercises over time but progression will likely be a bit slower on these.
For example, leg press is 3 sets of 8-12 reps. Start with a weight that you can get 3 sets of 8 with and build up from there.
Once you have reached 3 sets of 12 with a weight, add weight next time and build back up to 3 sets of 12 again.
The nutrition side is probably where the most extreme differences are going to be seen between powerlifters and bodybuilders.
During the off-season, which is when competitors are not getting prepared for a competition, both groups may follow a relatively similar diet.
In general, the off-season diets will consist of quite a large amount of protein, higher carbs and a moderate amount of fat. This is to ensure that powerlifters are getting enough fuel to build strength and bodybuilders are getting enough to gain muscle mass.
The run-up to a competition is where things are really going to be different between competitors of the two sports.
A bodybuilder needs to be extremely lean to make all his/her muscles as visible as possible. To get to such low levels of body fat, an incredibly strict diet needs to be followed leading up to competition day.
The number of calories being consumed by a bodybuilder during the latter stages of a contest preparation phase is much lower than their body needs. Usually, this has a negative effect on strength and energy levels.
Of course, a powerlifter cannot afford to follow any type of diet that hampers their strength or energy for competition day. So, most competitive powerlifters won’t change too much in the run-up to a competition.
The only time nutrition may be altered is if a powerlifter needs to drop a small amount of weight to stay in their desired weight class. Often, a water cut will be done to achieve this weight loss instead of a calorie-restrictive diet.
I hope this has given you a much clearer understanding of the differences between powerlifting and bodybuilding. As you can see, the requirements, particularly on the nutrition side, for each sport are quite different.Because of the differences, successfully competing in both sports at the same time is tremendously difficult. If you do want to take part in both powerlifting and bodybuilding, you really need to focus on one at a time as your primary goal.
Anytime I sit down to write an article, I try to think of things that I have searched for in the past in an effort to produce content that is actually useful to lifters. I thought a massive list of high protein foods covering a number of different categories would be useful to almost anybody that lifts weights. So, here it is! A giant list of 100 protein sources (along with a few other helpful nuggets about protein).
A protein source that contains all 9 of the essential amino acids is known as a complete protein. Animal sources and dairy are usually complete protein sources.
All proteins are made of varying amounts of amino acids, which are used for a number of functions within your body. 9 of these amino acids are known as "essential amino acids", which means your body cannot synthesize them by itself so you must acquire them from your diet.
Many plant sources are incomplete since they may only contain a few of the essential amino acids. Therefore, plant sources must be combined to ensure you are eating all of the amino acids your body needs.
Protein is known as a type of macronutrient and is one of the four sources of energy (calories) for your body. Protein contains 4 calories per gram.
The other sources of energy or "macronutrients" are carbohydrates and fat. Carbs contain 4 calories per gram and fat contains 9 calories per gram.
Alcohol is also technically a macronutrient and contains 7 calories per gram.
This amount is going to vary slightly depending on some individual factors including body weight and activity level. However, most experts agree that your protein intake should be in the range of 1.2 - 1.8 grams per KG of body weight if you are lifting weights regularly.
For most people, somewhere around the middle of that range will be sufficient.
Too much of anything is usually going to have adverse effects at some point. Unless you have a pre-existing condition, even the upper end of the above guidelines should not cause you any trouble.
This is a very difficult question to answer since there are many factors at play and "best" can be very subjective. One way in which protein quality can be judged is by ranking different sources based on their "biological value" (BV).
This rating method has its' limitations but, essentially, compares proteins against each other depending how much of each source is absorbed and used inside the body.
In all honesty, if you are eating a variety of protein sources, you don't need to worry much about the biological value but it is interesting information.
High protein foods like whey protein, eggs and soy beans all have very high BVs. If you want info and to find out the values for more foods, check out this biological value article.
1. Steak (top/bottom round)
2. Ground/mince beef
3. Pork chop
4. Chicken breast
5. Turkey breast
6. Corned beef
7. Sliced deli beef
8. Canadian style bacon
9. Bison steak
10. Kangaroo steak
11. Horse steak
12. Ostrich steak
13. Crocodile meat
16. Turkey breast deli slices
If selecting protein for weight loss goals, select sources with lower fat content. These leaner sources can help cut down your total calorie intake.
24. Mackerel fillet
1 cooked fillet
Protein requires other vitamins and minerals such as calcium so that it can be absorbed and utilized properly. Do not neglect these nutrients in your diet if you are consuming high protein foods.
28. Beef jerky
29. Peanut butter
30. Ready-made smoothies
31. Quest bars
32. Lenny and Larry’s cookies
33. Bacon jerky
34. Clif builder’s bars
35. Nature valley protein granola bar
36. Ezekiel bread
37. Sprouted wholegrain bread
38. Greek yoghurt
39. Cottage cheese
40. Swiss cheese
42. Milk (2% fat)
43. Whey protein powder
Per average scoop
45. Gruyere cheese
47. Edam cheese
48. Feta cheese
Many plant-based protein sources are incomplete. Eating a variety of these sources and pairing complimenting sources together can help achieve a more complete amino acid profile.
49. Navy beans
50. Dried lentils
51. Edamame beans
54. Split peas
55. Black beans
56. Kidney beans
57. Pinto beans
58. Miso (paste)
60. Pumpkin seeds
62. Chia seeds
63. Cashew nuts
65. Sunflower seeds
66. Flax seeds
68. Pine nuts
There is research to suggest that distributing protein throughout the day is beneficial for muscle gain (study). Around 40g per meal seems to be most effective.
70. Green peas
72. Brussels Sprouts
74. Sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup sliced
79. Mange tout
80. Sweet corn
½ cup chopped
86. Passion fruit
If selecting high protein foods for weight loss goals, select sources with lower fat content. These leaner sources can help cut down your total calorie intake.
89. Oat bran
90. Wheat germ
96. Soba noodles
97. Wild rice
I hope this post has helped give you some extra ideas and information on protein intake. If you found it useful, please do hit one of the share buttons!
For anybody that wants to get all sciencey about protein for lifters and athletes, take a look at this crazy-detailed protein article by Jorn Trommelen.