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Barbell Logic

Aug 23, 2018

Gillian Ward returns to the show to talk more about her training philosophy, her approach to training women after the LP phase of training, and how she has developed her mindset for approaching difficult athletic tasks.


In her previous show, Episode 99: Defying Expectations... and Gravity, Gillian talked about her world record 1,190 pushups performed in one hour as well as many other spectacular feats of strength and athleticism. Early on in her career, she discovered that focusing on the immediate repetition at hand -- the present moment, so to speak -- allowed her to push through discomfort, fear, and other mental pitfalls which otherwise would have made her give up before her body was ready. This simple trick, counting to just "one", lies at the heart of Gillian's approach to training and explains how she is able to push herself to such incredible feats. Great physical gifts notwithstanding, it's Gillian's iron mind that explains her success.


Though often written off as a genetic outlier (and thus irrelevant to the general training public), Gillian has a wealth of experience to share, particularly for advanced athletes. She has trained many women at her gym, and one key observation she has made is the importance of hypertrophy work post-LP to drive upper body strength. As we have noted in previous episodes, women have lower neuromuscular efficiency than men, but greater muscular endurance. Gillian likes to take advantage of this trait and incorporate high volume assistance work aimed at creating upper body hypertrophy. She also likes antagonistic movements as a counterpoint to the competition lifts; if a trainee is benching in one workout, she'll have her follow the bench with rows, pull-downs, or other light upper body pull for lots of sets and reps.


Gillian also mentions that she has gotten her best results in the long run by balancing her strength work with endurance, mobility, and hypertrophy. While strength training is her foundation, she incorporates elements of gymnastics, HIIT, bodybuilding style volume training, and more to be a well-rounded athlete. And her performance speaks for itself.


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