Bearded Beast of Duloc
Join Date: Jul 2009
Training Exp: 20+ years
Training Type: Powerbuilding
Fav Exercise: Deadlift
Fav Supp: Butter
Get It Right This Time
Take a moment to reflect on your training. More specifically, reflect on if you are really making progress. Almost all serious weight trainees want either to get bigger, get stronger or both. So, are you? Be serious about this. Measure your arms, chest, and thighs – are they bigger or not? Can you squat; bench, curl more weight than you could for the same number of reps than you could 3 (6, 9, 12) months ago?
Long time readers of my material will recognize where I’m headed with this line of questioning: If you aren’t measurably bigger, measurably stronger, or both, than you were 6 months ago – then guess what? Your training time has been wasted. If you’re serious about making gains then this realization should make you sick.
I’ll give you a moment to get over the nausea.
Now let’s do something about it and get it right this time so that after busting your butt for 6 months you are definitely bigger and stronger. First off, you’re not going to go back to doing the same ole things because all you’ll get is the same ole results – or lack thereof. Second you need to find out where you’re messing up. Here’s a ‘to the point’ checklist:
1. You’re following the program of some stupid steroid-using phony. If you’re not a steroid using phony then the program is not going to work. All you’ll do is overtrain and ‘under-stimulate’.
2. You start out trying to follow a decent program but you keep switching to new programs every time you read a new article. Or you keep messing up a good program by trying to do too much (too many sets, too many exercises), or trying to do too little (one workout every 2 weeks), or not working hard enough, or not focusing on being progressive, or getting hurt too often because your technique stinks.
3. You’re not consistent because you’re constantly hurt.
4. You think you’re eating to gain, but in actuality, your caloric consumption resembles more of what my 9-year old daughter eats. Or … you rely on worthless ‘super-supplement’ powders, ‘metabolic optimizers, and a whole host of other junk.
Be honest in your assessment. If you do this I can help you to make your training productive and you’ll be happy as a pig in poop. I know you don’t want to bust your butt for another year – let alone another workout – and not make any progress.
Now let’s knock off the list one point at a time.
1. Get on a program that is designed to work for a real trainee with a real life – a proven program that works for trainees who don’t take steroids. A ‘real trainee’ has a serious career/job, a real family, friends, real academic responsibilities and a whole host of other ‘real’ stuff to do – and yet they want to be huge and/or strong as they can be. They want it all without sacrificing anything.
Weight train either 2 or 3 times per week. Perform whole body routines consisting of big basic exercises (squat, rows, presses, etc.) Read the excerpt from chapter one of my book “How to Design Your Training Program” and check out the workout templates that I present there. It’s only an excerpt from the chapter but I give you enough info to set up a good program.
2. If you are seasoned enough to know and implement a good program then be seasoned enough and disciplined enough not to be fooled by the workout ‘flavor of the month’. If you are promised to add 20 pounds of ‘rock hard’ muscle to your physique and increase your bench by 50 pounds in a month - then the purveyor of the information is a liar or a steroid user. The body can undergo a tremendous transformation in size and strength in a year or two – which is fast – but it will take a year or two. How much progress have you made in the last two years anyway?
Quit performing a whole bunch of worthless sets (going for the ‘pump’, ‘ the burn’, ‘using multiple angles’, yada, yada, yada). A worthless set is one in which you are not being progressive in your approach; i.e. Using more weight. Maybe you’re doing a whole bunch of worthless exercises. If you are doing either of the above (worthless sets or exercises) then all that you are doing is using up fuel and not stimulating an ounce of muscle gain.
Quit adding ‘extra’ exercises for a lagging bodypart or weak link. If you are trying to bring up the size and/or strength of the triceps for example and have properly performed 3 sets of close grip bench presses what is the addition of 3 sets of pushdowns supposed to do? I’ll tell you what it’ll do. It’ll overtrain the area causing elbow problems (goodbye tricep size, hello ice bags), and simply use up fuel. These are known as ‘garbage sets’. Once you’ve hit the close grips hard and progressively, the tricep is as stimulated as it needs to be.
If you have fallen prey to the ‘all you need is one workout every two weeks thinking’ all you’ll get is enough stimulation that will create an adaptation that will last about 4 or 5 days and in the subsequent time thereafter all you’ll do is lose what you’ve gained in those few days. Most trainees get some very limited success with this method for a short period because I think they are severely overtrained coming into it.
Another reason I believe is that they feel that they need all that time in between workouts to recover properly – because they were tired all the time when they trained 2 or 3 times per week. The truth of the matter is that these trainees are just poorly conditioned or eat terribly – most likely both reasons. Twenty-one years of training weight trainees one-on-one has taught me that all trainees can train 2 times per week and make tremendous gains.
You have to train hard to make gains – but how hard is hard enough? I can’t delve into this topic completely as it would take a book to give you my two cents. Again, experience has taught me (and empirical data from 100 years of evidence supports this) that if you train within one rep of failure or to a point where you complete the goal rep of a set with all you have – and stop without attempting the next rep in which you would fail - you will have achieved an optimal amount of stimulation. By training at this effort level you will also be able to maintain perfect lifting biomechanics (making you very efficient which allows you to lift more weight), and foster a positive mind set. Sure you can train to failure and make good gains also – I just know from my experience that ‘beating failure’; completing your last ‘hard to complete’ rep then stopping produces good gains consistently over the long haul of your training life.
I bet you haven’t heard a strength coach say this: Does it really matter how hard you train as long as you are able to consistently lift more weight? One month from now if you can bench press 10 more pounds on your 5 rep set and you didn't even get close to muscular failure - does it matter that your intensity of effort wasn't beyond 100%? Now of course you have to work very hard to make gains - I just wanted to give you another way of judging your workout efforts based on what matters the most: PROGRESS!
You must focus your efforts on being progressive – you must lift heavier and heavier weights. So many trainees are focused on everything but that. Even well-intentioned trainees get caught up in measuring the success of a workout on how hard they’ve trained; how they had to lay on the floor for a half-hour after the workout, how ‘beat-up’ they are, or how many times they’ve cramped and thrown-up. A successful workout is one in which you’ve lifted more weight on some if not all exercises – even if it is only a pound or two. Now if you are in the ‘lay on the floor and throw-up’ scenario above and you’ve lifted more weight that workout then you have been successful also. My point is; make sure your efforts produce measurable strength increases.
Unless you are a rank beginner, you know if your technique stinks or not. And you know how to ‘clean it up’ but you don’t want to because you’ll have to use less weight and your ego just can’t tolerate that. Well, I suggest you make the rational decision to ‘clean it up’ because that pain you’re feeling in your X (replace the X with any joint that is constantly hurting; shoulder, elbow, knee, back, etc) will become so bad that it will stop you from training if it hasn’t already. And I don’t mean that it will stop you from training for a few weeks – it may stop you from performing certain movements forever!
3. You must minimize your risk of injury in the weight room so that you can train consistently. I have stated many times in the past that consistency is just as important as progression. You won’t be able to be progressive if you can’t be consistent. If you constantly have to ‘re-start’ exercises (using reduced weights because you’re weaker) after you’ve come off an injury all you’ll be doing is covering ‘old’ ground. Once you start closing in on your personal records again, you get hurt again, only to have to let the injury rest and start over again. What a viscous cycle. Make sure you use weight increases that your body can really handle and get your technique in order! See the paragraph above.
4. Quit screwing around and eat to gain. Quit worrying about your pretty waistline. You’re fooling yourself if you think that you’re going to pack on some serious mass – and when I mean ‘serious mass’ I’m talking about gaining at least 30 pounds – and trying to get a ‘six-pack’ at the same time. Now, I don’t want you to turn into a fat unhealthy slob, gaining 30 pounds and half of it is fat. But, with the proper application of aerobic work you’ll be able to keep your fat gain to a minimum and keep/get your heart and lungs in good shape.
Quit relying on goofy supplements. Find out how many calories you’re really consuming. Then slowly increase it by 500 calories per week, eating 5 to 6 meals per day, until you are gaining at least one pound per week. You will have to work at this. Many of my trainees have said that getting your nutrition right; eating enough, is one of the hardest parts to gaining. Because unlike the ‘training’ part in which you lift 2 to 3 times per week, you have to constantly focus on your food intake 7 days per week, every 3 hours. Sure it’s tough to do, but if you really ‘want it’ then you’ll ‘do it’.
The only supplements you should use is a good multi-vitamin and multiple mineral pill along with protein powder to augment the food you eat. Don’t use a protein powder that has a bunch of worthless junk in it. One of the best that I know of is called Just Protein. You can get it at IronMind.com. Or if you are lactose intolerant then try one that is nearly lactose free like Designer Protein.
Please take this article to heart. Apply what you’ve learned. Don’t settle for anything but the best results that your body is capable of. You can achieve greatness but you’re going to have to earn it. Apply what you’ve learned in this article and six months from now you’ll be in ‘PR’ territory and will have finally 'gotten it right this time'.
Destroy That Which Destroys You
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."