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.
Here we see a 450lbs front squat by John Cena which is a great feat especially when your arms are too big to rack a bar properly.
However, after this something more amazing happened. When timing on a stopwatch he Cena was able to stop the watch at exactly the correct time to the hundreth of a second multiple times in a row. Some people are smart. Some are strong. But some have real talents like stopwatch stopping.
A very common theme especially for beginners is trying to have a body like someone else. They want to look like a certain celebrity or athlete so they search high and wide for the training methods they use. This has never made sense to me. This is like trying to have someone else’s face. You are born with a certain blue print. The shape of your muscles and length of limbs etc. is determined by this. It is foolish to think that if you workout just like Joe Athlete then you will look just like him. Or if you follow the diet of Jane Sexygirl you will get her butt. You are unique. Some people respond best to higher reps. Some respond better to lower reps. Some can more carb tolerant than others. Some can recover from more frequent workouts. The trick is to find what works for you. It is great to look to others for inspiration but thinking you will be like them will only lead to disappointment.
Another thing to consider is that when you read someone’s workout or diet, you aren’t reading their history. Sergio Olivia was a great bodybuilder but he started out Olympic lifting. Magnus Samuelsson was an arm wrestler before he was the world’s strongest man. When you read a workout online or in a magazine you are looking at snapshot of what they are doing at the time (assuming it is a truthful article). How many people do you know workout the same way year after year? The work outs you read are good for ideas but you don’t have to copy it. Just because it worked for them for a period of time doesn’t mean it is going to work for you.
If it was that easy to look like someone else then the world wouldn’t be as interesting. Think of how boring it would be if everyone looked the same. Or if all singers had the same voice. Or if all athletes ran at the same speed. Embrace these differences and see where it takes you. Maybe your physique idol lifts heavy and take long rest. If you respond better to shorter, lighter workouts then do it. It is great and necessary to experiment and find what works for you but don’t do something just because someone else is. The principles of diet and exercises will stay the same. If you want to be bigger and/or stronger you need to perform some kind of resistance training. If you want to lose weight then you are going to need to restrict calories somewhat. That’s it. The rest is filling in the details.
A note to the ladies:
You are beautiful. Maybe you need to lose weight or gain muscle or both but please stop trying to obtain something that isn’t possible for you. Stop getting cut open and stuffing your body or getting fat sucked out just to look like someone you aren’t. If you work hard you can be lean, keep your curves, and I promise you will look great. It takes HARD work and time but you can do it. You might not have the genetics for the perfect bubble butt you want but you can build a killer butt that no guy would turn down (or girl if you go that way). Stop looking at other women. Look at yourself, get to work and be amazed at what you can do with the body you were given.
A. CG Bench w/Bands
B1. Thick Bar Incline Curl
B2. Lying Tricep DB Ext
C1. Reverse Barbell Curl
(rest 1 min then go again)
D1. Tri Pushdown
D2. Standing high pulley curl to head
3×10 (3 second eccentric per rep, 2 second contraction at top)
When it comes to your physique or athletic performance progress isn’t linear. When you first start out progress is easy and everything works. However, as you approach the limits of what your body can do progress slows. Once you could put 10lbs on your squat a week but now you are happy with 10lbs in 4 months. The better you get, the fancier you have to be to make progress. This is why you see world records in many sports being slowly chipped away instead of blown away. Eventually your progress will look like a series of steps and plateaus. It is important to remember the basic idea of what you are trying to do in the gym.
Provide a stimulus sufficient to cause the organism to adapt.
As it adapts over time, it takes more stimulus to cause an adaptation. Therefore, what you did to get your squat to 225lbs isn’t going to get your squat to 600lbs. Or what got you to 10% fat won’t get you to 5%. The problem with this very basic formula is that people being creatures of habit tend to not change enough to give their body enough of a stimulus. This doesn’t mean working out more. It may mean fixing weaknesses you have been ignoring. It may mean doing less work and recovering more. Your workouts will be a series of pushes and backing off. Push your body to the edge. Back off and let it heal. Progress is like steps. Small goals that lead to bigger goals. The point is that it is OK to get stuck. It just isn’t ok to stay stuck.
This idea is expanded on here…
Pause Squat on pins at height of throw start
up to max then 3×5 w/ 40 sec rest
2 abdominal exercises and stretching for 10 minutes
This was a personal record that had been a long time in the making. The training cycle leading up to this was focused more on Olympic lifts than bench specialization. In addition the lifter was not as well rested as he could have been. The interesting part is that the he never lifted more than about 87% of this weight leading up to testing day. It should be noted that the lifter was very experienced but is not built optimally for the bench press and previously had trouble with fully utilizing his enormous strength base and explosiveness out of the bottom of the lift. A number of sets backs from surgeries to an extremely demanding work and travel schedule had prevented him from breaking his previous PR always coming within 5KG of it.
Because of elbow surgery 4 months earlier programming had to be focused on regaining strength through range of motion rather than building to maximum weight. From a strength stand point this allowed more focus on lockout strength and power at the end range of the bench press. After some weeks getting used to full range bench press a program that included slow introduction to mild upper body plyometric exercises was used building up in intensity in a linear fashion. This was not only to help activate the CNS but also to reintroduce the bodies ability to absorb eccentric force and utilize the stretch reflex. The volume of horizontal pushing exercises was not excessive as the actual focus of the 2 month program was more towards regaining abilities in Olympic lifting. The athlete already had a good amount of muscle mass so besides a brief period during the rehab phase, direct hypertrophy work was unnecessary. Bench press weights were assigned with 1 heavy session and 1 light session per week when possible. The weights were kept manageable increasing an average of 2% per week with a jump on week five of 3% and week six of 5% with a corresponding drop in reps and increase in sets. The goal was every rep achieved and to be able to walk away from the exercises with more in the tank every week thus keeping a good groove on every rep. Week 6-8 more time was spend on double and single repetition sets with the goal of practicing the feel of heavy weight without losing form. Ballistic work was increased in intensity while other accessory work took a back seat. It should be noted that the athlete was unaware of his goal for the day until he was in the gym. Sleep had been sub par and he had trained in high volume Olympic lifting the night before. However, he is gifted in the ability to operate at a high level in sub optimal conditions.
This shows the importance of specific programing for athletes at a high level. Programs need to be designed with the considerations of the unique abilities, weaknesses, psychology, and lifestyle of the person in question.
This was the approximate sequence used on testing day. (In kilograms)20kgx10
Not enough attention is paid to coming down after a workout. There are lots of things we do to wake up and arouse our central nervous system but not enough on how to come down. We have limited abilities to stay in an excited state which should be respected. Time and time again people have learned that there is no way to get around this without consequences. The truth is many people don’t know how to relax. Sitting in front of a tv or computer screen is still quite stimulating. The idea of relaxing with your thoughts seems to be a lost art. People get into a cycle of drinking coffee or other caffeinated beverage to wake up and drinking alcohol to come down. They stress the body constantly throwing drugs into it and then wonder why they seem to NEED caffeine to wake up. It is a difficult cycle to break. If you get at least decent sleep you shouldn’t NEED a pre workout. They certainly can help but if you are taking them before every workout you may have more problems than you realize.
One of the reasons massage helps athletes isn’t just because your muscles are being massaged but because of the calming effect and atmosphere. It is one of the few times people will listen to calming music and just let their mind go. In world we live today this is more important than ever. It is ok to do nothing. No phone, no tv, no computer, just you and that mess you call a brain. If nothing is too much for you, then get a massage, try yoga, listen to calm music, write in a journal anything you can think of that will allow you to relax. This is a way to be fair to your system. If you want it to be super awake, then you need to let it be super calm. You can only push so hard for so long before you crash. The most successful people have found ways to have balance. Professional athletes sometimes have multiple training sessions per day but they also take a lot of rest and naps. The body can do amazing things if you know how to let it. Don’t complain about your lack of progress if you are going a hundred miles per hour at all times. Give something to your body so it can give something back to you.
Whether you are performing a fast lift like a clean or a slow lift like a curl, you should always be in control. If you feel like the weight has you and you don’t have the weight then you are going too heavy. If you feel like for some reason you are unstable when lifting then you need to evaluate your technique and your program. You may need some specialized exercises to work small muscles that may be weak. Remember that your body will always try to take the easy way out. You have to make it do the opposite in the gym. There is a difference between pulling yourself up to a bar or doing a pullup to increase back size and strength. You have to be in control. Are you pulling with your back or using your arms more? Do you go all the way down and let your back stretch? Can you pause on the way up, at the top, and on the way down? If you can’t do these things then you aren’t working out a muscle as much as working a movement. Cleans, snatches and the like and movements that we train. Exercises like curls, pullups, and pushdowns are to train muscles. Know the difference and make sure YOU are in control and not the weight.
B1. Sumo Deadlift
B2. Incline Bench Press
C2. Rear leg elevated Split squat
6 reps then next move