I think the biggest hole in the fitness industry is the ease of seeming like a expert. Anyone can get on a computer, log on a website and start giving advice. Which may be useful for many other fields, however in the delicate dance of gaining muscle, you simply do not have time to waste. If you want to take chances on random advice, it is your choice, but in my own training especially when just starting out I learned fast you need to do what is proven to work. Otherwise, your training will produce little to no results, you will get depressed, you will begin to hate training and ultimately quit.
And that is something I have seen far too many times, people who just hate training because they never really get results, which is why I decided to write his article. To give a list of tips ANYONE can apply to their training right now and expect far better results. If you already incorporate these tips into your training, great, with a sound nutrition program and consistency you can be sure you will get the results you are looking for.
1. Keep A Workout Log: If you look the legends like Dave Draper and Arnold Schwarzenegger, you can be sure they kept workout logs spanning not just months but years, or even decades . Because they knew the key to progressing your physique to seemingly unreachable levels, is to progress your workouts a little at a time. If you are not slightly stronger now then you were a month ago, you need to revaluate your training. Charles Poliquin a famous trainer employs a 1% or 2% rule, if each workout you cannot improve your strength by 1-2%, especially if you are a beginner, you need to change your approach. Now as you become more advanced, this may be harder to do or your goals may change ,but nonetheless recorded progression is key, whether that be needing less rest time, adding weight to the bar, or doing more reps or sets( up until a point).
2. Stay Consistent : Consistency is ultimately what will make our break a trainee , if you are constantly missing workouts, return to eating unhealthy or cut workouts short you will not get the near the results. Missing one or two workouts may only cause you to fall out of your groove, missing three will likely cost you results, and more then that can set you back pretty far.
3. Train The Muscle Not Your Ego: As a guy, I understand the feeling of just wanting to get in there, smash heavy weights and even go for a max. However, being a trainer I know this is all ego, knowing my bench max will not make my Chest 50 inches, but throwing a whole day out of whack finding it can set me back… Just as strict barbell curling 170 pounds( near my max) looks dang impressive, but I can’t expect to do it every bicep session and still get optimal muscle development.
4. Train Smarter AND Harder: Remember there is a difference between general training intensity, and how much stress you actually put on the targeted muscle. You can throw weight around with momentum all day or yell as you swing the curl bar like doing a power clean all you want , but if your not applying the intensity in a logical manner to challenge the muscle , its not doing anything. When old school bodybuilders talk about training intensity it involves a lot then what some of the new guns may think. You need to develop a mind muscle connection with the muscle you are training , really squeeze every rep and feel the contraction, then feel the stretch as you lower the weight. You also need to keep the rest periods consistent and not tweeting how you just benched 225. That is how you develop smart intensity, not by yelling or jerking the weight around.
5. Change your Routine Often : Changing up your routine is not only important for linear progression , but keeps you from becoming bored. The changes can be as simple as hand or foot placement, moving an exercise from standing to seated or exercise order. It is also important to entirely mix things up sometimes by working different muscles together, using different rest days, or entirely different rep schemes. So you do 4 sets of 15 for lat pull downs? Great, but did you know Vince Gironda could produce amazing results doing 15 sets of 4?
While I realize none of these tips are groundbreaking, but we do not always need the latest researched movements, programs, or supplements to make gains. People have been building astonishing physiques on the basics for over a century now.
Brad Kelly writes a weekly article every Tuesday. He is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer, Performance Enhancement Specialist, and Corrective Exercise Specialist out of Panama City, Florida. Driven by a passion to help others he not only trains locals, but also performs online personal training and writes fitness articles to reach as many fellow fitness enthusiasts as possible.