Bearded Beast of Duloc
First of all you have to determine what your strength training goals are. And actually there really aren't that many choices here. I know that many in the strength training field would have you believe that there are literally thousands of different strength training methods dependant upon the specific strength qualities or metabolic demands of your chosen activity. Well, it's not really that complicated. If you are in the weight room to enhance performance of any kind (powerlifting, swimming, lacrosse) then your goal in the weight room is to get stronger - period! Now, you may need to do this over different rep schemes, and different exercises dependant upon your activity but that is about as complicated as it gets. You are in the weight room to get stronger, and then you are on the court, on the field, on the track, in the pool, or on the slope - practicing the skills of your sport - to convert that strength to enhance performance. In other words, build the raw strength in your entire body (which will increase your body's ability to produce force) in the weight room and then practice the specific skills of your sport so that the strength will transfer into that specific skill.
If you are training at the right level of intensity - and don't / won't take steroids - the body can't tolerate weight training more than three times per week and 21+ years of experience training a wide variety of trainees, has taught me that in many cases two times per week is better. I am aware that most of you have been bombarded for years by the mainstream muscle building media that more is better when it comes to achieving great size and strength, and nothing could be further from the truth. If you try to apply this philosophy, all you will do is end up hurt, disappointed, frustrated and with not much in the strength and muscle department. If you simply start with following the recommendations of training two to three times per week, you'll be on the road to achieving results. I've turned many trainees into some of the strongest and biggest men that you would ever see and they did it by strength training two times per week.
You need to choose exercises (compound exercises) that work as much muscle mass as possible. For instance, squats and bench presses verses leg extensions and flyes. By utilizing compound exercises you're getting more bang for your effort buck. What I mean by this is that for the amount of time and effort that you would put into, say, a leg extension you would get many times more muscle building and strength building results by putting the same amount of time and effort into a squat. It's really that simple..
To derive the most benefit out of a training program it must be comprehensive. Your training program must address aerobic / anaerobic conditioning, flexibility, nutrition and sport specific skill training. These elements are critical to your success.
There is so much macho B.S. about this subject it makes me sick. It seems that everyone wants to talk about how hard they work. They base a great workout on the fact that they threw-up, passed-out, or trained so hard that they were sore for a week. These trainees lose site of the fact that a great workout is based on the fact that the trainee used more weight or completed more reps on all - or some of - the exercises used during that workout!
Let me tell you one absolute fact that I have learned from all of my years of training and observation; all the effort in the world won't mean diddly if it doesn't manifest itself as weight on the bar, or more reps with a previously used weight. Sure, you have to train hard - very hard - if you expect to produce results (and yes, you might throw-up once in awhile), but once again, it has to be directed at what you're trying to achieve. It's like a fly trying to get out the window but the window is closed. It can try as hard as it wants but it isn't going anywhere until that window is open.
Make sure that you aren't just working hard for the sake of working hard. But work hard for the sake of adding more and more weight to the bar. Here's a good example. Take a trainee who works the bench press to failure using the same weight he always uses - then he performs two to three forced reps, then two to three more negatives, then possibly strip weight off of the bar and perform two or three more forced reps (actually the spotter gets a great low back workout) - a great display of effort but they never try to add weight to the bar. Sure they may make a little progress but once again their effort is misdirected. They are just hitting the dart board instead of hitting the bulls-eye. This trainee would be hitting the bull's-eye if he simply put a couple of more pounds on the bar above what he used in the previous workout and busted his butt to at least achieve, if not complete more reps than he'd done before. This is regardless if he went to muscular failure or not.
Stimulate the body to change by using a little more weight or performing more reps, give it adequate rest and nutrients, then repeat for a number of years and you will achieve results that will astound you. That's it - pretty simple stuff.
In order for your body to change you must subject it to a stimulus on a consistent basis. If you apply the stimulus too often you'll overtrain. If you allow the body too much time away from the stimulus adaptation will cease. When you are strength training at the right frequency (two to three times per week), and at the correct rate of progression, consistency becomes the magical element in training.
Let me ask you a question, and I want you to be brutally honest - not with me - but with yourself. Have you ever trained an entire year without missing a single workout? If you are training two times per week that would equal 104 workouts without missing. Have you ever really done this? I've had trainees that have actually exceeded this number and the results are astounding. I know you love training and wouldn't miss a workout voluntarily. So, what causes you to miss? Is it injuries or illness brought about by overtraining? This is usually the case. Overtraining is a result of you trying to workout on a program that is not designed for a 'real trainee' who has a 'real life' and who doesn't take steroids. These programs are generally not stimulating enough on a per-set basis, but have you training 4 to 6 days per week using 20 to 30 sets per bodypart - a gorilla couldn't recover from this.
Reaching one's ultimate state of physical development takes something more than all the required cliché attributes of hard work, dedication, discipline, and sacrifice, to name a few. It actually requires one more ingredient than the ones that I wrote about above. The one ingredient that is seldom talked about or more importantly not taught is the time requirement involved to achieve one's potential. Great developments in size, strength, power, speed, sports skills, etc. require that one practice all the above for a relatively long period of time - usually many, many years. I use the word relatively because I'm referring to what is usually promoted in the widespread mainstream muscle literature that significant development can occur virtually overnight. And this is a flat-out lie that leads many, many trainees down a road that not only leads to limited physical development, but also to many, many years of frustration.
Well, here's the truth. If a trainee, with average genetics, does everything right he or she can add 15 to 25 pounds of solid weight in 6 months. But this will only be the start. The major transformation will take place over the next three to five years. At this point they will still not have achieved their ultimate state of development - they could go further - but they will have achieved the strength and development beyond what 90% of gym trainees will ever accomplish. And honestly, 3 to 5 years is not a long period of time. Let me paint you a picture of what I'm taking about.
I can take a 5'11", 28 year old trainee who weighs in at 140 pounds and by the time his 31st birthday rolls around he will weigh in the neighborhood of 240 pounds with the strength to match.
Now, I want you to honestly assess how much progress you've made in the last 3 years. Really, how much? How many times have you been hurt and had to stop training? How many different programs have you started and stopped because they didn't bring home the bacon in a couple of months as promised? How frustrated are you because you just cant make progress? Have you convinced yourself that it's just because you have bad genetics? Well, let me assure you it's just because you haven't had a good teacher - yet.
Destroy That Which Destroys You
"Let bravery be thy choice, but not bravado."