Since just about everyone carries a high definition camera in their pocket I encourage everyone to film themselves working out. Not all the time but at least enough so you can get a good idea of your technique or lack there of. Many people have a hard time being aware of where their body or body parts are in space. Watch someone trying to perform a good morning for RDL for the first time and how they can’t get the idea of pushing the hips back without excessive bending of the knees. They may not be able to feel this because they have never tried that motion before. By being able to immediately see what you looked like it can help people realize what they are doing wrong and/or implement coaching cues more effectively. In this gym we film a good bit and often review in slow motion immediately after the lift to work on small details especially in the Olympic lifts. It is difficult for anyone to feel their lower back rounding in a squat or being able to judge their own depth while looking straight ahead. You can’t really be a judge of the relationship of your hips and knees when looking at your own face. Cameras are great for this if you train by yourself. Even if you are inexperienced and don’t know anatomy very well most movements aren’t too complicated. If it looks wrong it most likely is. This doesn’t mean film every workout and post it online. There is a difference between analysis and vanity. Although, to write that I guess I performed an analysis of vanity.
Primarily for females who are experienced. Don’t do more than 2 days in a row.
B. Overhead Lunge (walking if possible)
3×8 per leg
C1. Seated Cable Row
C2. Incline DB Press
D2. Hyper Ext
Wk3-4: 3×8 (hold weight if needed)
D3. Any AB
One other ab exercise
B1. CG Bench Press
B2. Barbell Curl
B2. Rear Dealt Machine
C1. Lying DB Ext
C2. Cable Curl
D. Standing Row Elbows Out
15 min cardio
8 min jump rope
B1 Frt. Squat
Wk3-4: 2,2,1,1 (doesn’t have to be max weight. Just heavy and challenging)
B2. Box Jump (small box on and off)
D1. LEG Ext
D2. Overhead Side Bend (can use very small plates)
3x8 Per side
10 min decent pace cardio
B1. 3 way shoulder
B2. Single arm DB Preacher Curl on incline
B3. Single Leg Ext
C1. K Bell swing
C3. Rev. Grip Pulldown
Barbell Complex (do 1 rep of each exercise then next movement)
Only perform for 2-3 workouts then switch to something more conventional.
A1. Leg Curl
A2. Good Morning
B1. Walking barbell lunge
B2. Leg Press
C. Leg Extension (Hold each rep for 3 seconds at the top)
Rest 60 seconds then
D. Back Squat
(Originally appeared on Mogy.me)
I often get the same questions from trainers and trainees alike. It seems that people go through a stage in their journey of fitness when they think they are missing something. The biggest secret in this business is that there is no secret. Many magazines and supplement companies want you to think otherwise, that there are pills you aren’t taking, powders you aren’t drinking, or training methods that are going to change your life. None of this is true. If you look at magazines from 20 years ago you will see the same type of supplement ads. If they worked then where are the supplements now? If the training methods in those same magazines are so magical then why are people using different training methods now? What happened to all the perfect physiques that should have been created?
The basic principles of fitness are the same as they have always been. Perform resistance training to improve muscle quality. Eat less to lose weight. Perform aerobic activity to improve endurance. These will always be the same. As we advance with our knowledge of the human body and our knowledge of training we find small things that can make a difference but these things are very small. The average person in the gym doesn’t need to be concerned with things that will help them improved a percent or two. So many people waste so much time trying to find hidden training information on the internet or trying every supplement under the sun. Really all you have to do is go to the gym consistently and be conscious of what you eat and you will achieve most of your goals. Of course if you are a high level athlete or trying to achieve something that is at the limits of your genetic potential you will have to be conscious of every little detail but these people are few and far between.
We love the idea that there is some rouge trainer or scientist going against what everyone else is doing and making incredible gains. In fact we hear about them all the time. Over and over they fade into obscurity. Sure on occasion someone may respond with a great amount of muscle growth performing only 2 workouts a week for 20 minutes. This is the exception, not the rule. If you are betting on what side a flipped coin lands on do you pick that it lands on neither heads nor tails and instead lands upright on the edge? Of course not. The chance of that is so remote and goes against everything we know about probability and the well-established history of how a coin lands. So why would you do the same with some magic solution for fitness. Sure we want to believe that it isn’t simply hard work. It is fun to play the lottery but no one in their right mind quits their job because they think they will really win.
We all have the feeling that the secret is JUST out of our grasp or we just haven’t stumbled on it yet. If you are training with relative intelligence and your nutrition is decent then you already have it figured out. At some point be it getting below 8% bodyfat or getting your bench press over 400lbs you may need to start exploring very specific diets or programs but until then the secret is just a lot of hard work and consistency.
There is no magic supplement.
There is no magic program.
There is no magic trainer.
There is no magic diet.
Those who have figured that out are making more progress than you are because instead of second guessing themselves they are forging ahead. Training is hard. Dieting is harder. That is the way it is. Accept it without looking for a way out and you will make better progress than you ever have.
In the 10 week training cycle leading up to this he only went 90% or more of his previous max for 2 weeks. However, since the training cycle was based on a very conservative number, he never crossed 87% of his true max the entire cycle. A PR is a nice surprise when you haven’t been training very close to it. The stronger you are and the older you are the less you can play with near max weights on a regular basis. Train smart and you can continue to progress.
When I meet people interested in being trainers or strength coaches I give them a challenge. It is to do the opposite of what they enjoy in the weight room or what they are good at. Thick powerlifter proud of his bench? Time to get down to 6% bodyfat. Super ripped guy who loves his abs? Time to get your squat to 500lbs.
The reason is this: How can you tell someone how to lose fat if you can’t do it? How can you tell someone to lift heavy if you have never done it? It is like a doctor telling you that you are unhealthy as his hands rest on his beer belly. If you think you are a good trainer then what you should be able to do is gain 30lbs and then lose it and be right back where you were. Or get super lean and come back stronger than before. Trust me, once you have experienced the effort it takes to get very low body fat you will have a much better approach with your clients. Who knows? You might actually have trouble. What you think will take 3 months may take 6. If that is the case perhaps you have been leading people down the wrong path. No matter what you will learn a lot about yourself and your craft. If you want to take it more extreme then do an actual competition. Bodybuilding, powerlifting, weightlifting, whatever. If nothing else it is something to add to your resume.
Here are a few hard truths you will have to deal with…
To the strong thick guy: You are 240lbs. Your shirts are tight, you move serious weight in the gym. Diet down? No problem. You will end up a ripped 220.
Reality: You are going to be under 200lbs and be amazed at how fat you actually were.
To the ripped guy: You could be really strong if you wanted to but you like to stay lean. You like to take your shirt of when the opportunity presents itself. You could squat just as much as that guy if you were fat too.
Reality: You will have way more trouble gaining weight than you think and the strength will stop coming at some point until you learn how to train for strength.
Note to females: Admittedly, guys can get away with packing on mass much easier than females in society. The solution is just don’t take it to such extremes. Get a bigger butt at the cost of some lbs. Lose your thick legs you subconsciously chalk up to genetics. Plus you are professional. You can gain weight for a few months then take it off again no problem right?
“But my clients expect me to be lean.” Tell them what you are doing. You aren’t going to break any hearts. Note: They shouldn’t know how lean you really are. Keep your clothes on at work.
“But my clients respect me because I am big and strong.” No they don’t. Lots of people are bigger and stronger than you. They respect you because of your training knowledge. Also Newsflash: You are fat.
“But my clients are female like me and they want to be lean like me” No. They want to be lean regardless if you are or not. PS. You have no ass. Grow one then lean out again. THEN they will want to be like you.
Now the excuses are out of the way. Good luck.
This is a project that will take months not weeks. Don’t half ass it. Make a goal and get there. If you do this and document the process imagine the power you will have next time someone says “The diet you gave me is impossible”. Take out a before and after picture of yourself. It’s worth a thousand words at least.
I don’t work out in commercial gyms too often but when I do I am shocked at some of the habits people have and what gyms allow people to get away with. While you can’t make people change, you can change yourself. If you do hopefully others will follow your example. So here are some items of what I consider proper gym etiquette.
- Rerack your weights.
Not doing this this should be grounds for revoking gym membership. This is simply picking up after yourself. Something we all learn to do as children. It takes very little effort and helps the next person. Some people might say that the person before them left the weights scattered around so they are just leaving it the way they found it. That leads us to our next item.
- Rerack someone else’s weights.
It won’t kill you to pick up a small area you are in. Lead by example. If someone left your area unorganized then organize it when you are putting your weights up. It only makes sense. Who cares if you didn’t make the mess? Be better than that. Most people who have a normally functioning brain will feel bad seeing you pick up after them and won’t make the same mistake again.
- Give your equipment to people who need it more than you.
If you are doing curls out of a squat rack for convenience there is nothing wrong with that. However, if someone is waiting to squat it is a deadly sin. Squat racks are for squatting. The same goes for deadlifting in front of a rack. You can deadlift anywhere. So you have to walk a few extra steps with weight. You are in a gym. Don’t be lazy.
- Wipe down the benches and seats you use.
Gyms are breeding ground for bacteria. Additionally no one wants to deal with your sweat grease.
- Don’t be an intimidating asshole.
No one cares how big you are or how much weight you can lift. Everyone starts somewhere. Just because you have 15 years of experience under your belt you don’t have to make the 15 year old feel more stupid that he or she already does trying to work out for the first time not knowing a clean from a curl. You aren’t in the gym to put on a show. You are there to workout. So is everyone else.
6. Leave the girls alone
I watched 3 different guys hit on a very attractive girl who was working her butt off. She clearly was not interested in a date and was there to get work done. It was a gym after all. I can’t imagine how distracting that would be. And remember mirrors work both ways fellas. She can see you staring at her like a creepy stalker.
Be courteous. Get your work done. Go home. Then everyone is happy.
Don’t go into a gym just to workout. Have a purpose. Have a goal. It shouldn’t be something you do just because you think you are supposed to do it. What are you trying to accomplish? Do you want to be leaner? Be stronger? Look better? Just get a good sweat?
You should have two basic types of goals. Long term goals and short term. Or you can look at this as general and specific.
Looking good naked is a long term, broad goal.
Losing 5lbs by the end of the month is a specific goal aimed towards that purpose.
You accomplish the long term goal by accomplishing many small goals. Most of the time people have long term goals and they think they can just show up in the gym and they will happen.
Here is the important stuff…
- Short term goals must be specific and realistic
- Long term goals are general and realistic but can be a reach
- Have a plan
- Tell people what your goal is. Be accountable. Don’t keep it a secret. It is too easy to get out of if you do.
- Find people with similar goals.
- Don’t have too many at once and keep in mind some will work against each other. (Example: Lost weight gain. Gain muscle. But if you lose weight you will lose muscle. Pick one to concentrate on)
- Body goals are accomplished outside the gym as well. Remember it doesn’t end just because your workout did.
- Take action. Be ready to adapt if you plain is failing. Don’t give up or spin your wheels just because you had the wrong approach.
If you have been don’t have a plan or a goal you will fail because you have nothing to accomplish. Write it down. Share it no matter how embarrassing it is for you. The only real reason you don’t want to share it is because it gives you and excuse to give up and fail and no one will know. Don’t be that person. Be brave.
Just in case you are feeling strong today here is Boyanka Kostova squatting 200kg.
Forgot to mention she is weighs about 130lbs.
Also, she was 20 years old when she did this.
This is a long process. If you are serious about having a better performing and/or better looking body then you will be working out for a long time. I always tell clients to think about months and years rather than days and weeks. Beginners will make tremendous gains in a short period of time. This is the exception. Olympic Weightlifters are happy if they add a few kilos to their total per year. Bodybuilders will normally compete around the same weight most of their careers and anyone who has worked for more than a year consistently knows how long it takes to see real gains.
Once you get to a certain level gains are made in small baby steps. Yes, there are exceptions to this but I am talking about advanced lifters or fitness enthusiast. When I get new people even if they are experienced they make large gains quickly. This is simply because I am correcting the mistakes they made in the past and they are introduced to organized training. Once that honeymoon is over they will stagnate. Then you find some small way to improve. Then stagnate again. Welcome to the world of working out. You should always strive for improvement but that doesn’t have to be a bigger arm, leaner legs or more weight. It can be small things like better form on exercises or to work on flexibility more. Think about it…
Let’s say you can bench press 315lbs
If you could add 5lbs to your bench press every month that doesn’t seem like much. However, at the end of the year your bench would be up 60lbs to 375
3 years = 495lbs
4 years = 555lbs
5 years = 615lbs
6 years = 675lb
If it was that easy everyone would bench 1000lbs. It is a constant battle to improve. You have to use smarter and smarter training methods and treat your body better and better for these small bits of improvement.
Anyone struggling with fat loss has experienced the same thing. You have 50lbs to lose. The first 20 come off quickly and then you are stuck. Instead of dieting smarter you do the same thing and get frustrated so you stop dieting all together. You gain ten pounds, get back to dieting, lose them quickly but are stuck again. This pattern goes on until you give up all together. However, it is you who has failed to accept what a battle this will be and that is a long process.
· The same training programs won’t keep working
· The same diets won’t keep working.
· It will get harder and harder and harder every year.
The improvement of elite athletes tend to look like steps. A push then a coast. These are people who have all day to dedicate to improving. They are fighting the same battle as everyone else. They have doctors, trainers, technology, physiotherapist, and everything else at their disposal but are still struggling for those small improvements. Then best thing you can do is learn how to work with your body instead of trying to force it to improve by doing the same thing you always do. You may feel like you deserve credit for putting in tremendous effort but no one gives credit to the fly who keeps bumping into the glass to get outside.
It isn’t easy to keep a six pack when you are 45. It isn’t easy to get your body back after having 3 kids in 5 years. It isn’t easy getting your deadlift up another 100lbs when you already can pull 650lbs but people do these things all the time. It is work and accepting that it isn’t easy. It is a long term relationship. The honeymoon is over. You have to grow together. You have to accept each other for what you are. You have to constantly work to improve.
It isn’t always easy. It isn’t always fun but if you are smart and you accept you are in it for the long haul then you will have something extraordinary.