It isn’t all about your form. Often people who ask me details on technique have trouble accepting they just aren’t strong enough. This is especially true in the Olympic lifts. Do you really think you will be able to clean 100kg if your front squat is 80kg? Do you think you will be able to bench press 405lbs if you can only close grip bench 225? To be a strong person you need strong hands and a strong back. That is the foundation of everything. You can’t pick up more than you can hold on to and you can’t squat more than you can support with your lower back. Then internet has given us amazing resources to research strength but the most important message is lost. Do the work. Work your ass off in the gym. Over and over. Year after year. I am not saying technique doesn’t matter. It does, but people seem to be forgetting you have to be just plain strong to lift big weights. Lift hard and rest hard. Get stronger. While you do that, enjoy this video of a real man doing a man thing with lots of weight.
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.
For an expanded version of this click here
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.