I’ve been toying with the idea of competing for a while but after getting ill in February it put a stop to any pipe dreams and up till now I’ve just been working back up to previous strength levels. However …
Had a great training session Saturday with the current World Champion and holder of several records Paul Murphy and the tank Aaron Hosking (who hit a massive 370kg squat – see vid). I squat up to 180kg with belt only, and then hit 190kg x2 and 200kg x1 with knee wraps – Paul was very encouraging and is convinced I have ‘a lot more in the tank’ and has offered to help coach me and to compete in September! What a result! I have decided to take him up on this and am now planning on entering that meet coming in just a few months.
A bit sore over Sunday and Monday so just enjoyed some time with the family over the bank holiday. This week I’ll be starting the shift in training over specifically to powerlifting, however my interests are still in strength and size so will continue to post as regularly as I can and get some more articles out there – click here to read previous articles.
I’m back! Sorry it’s been so long, had so much going on recently and I have been in hospital with a kidney stone – If you’ve had one, then you know how painful it is! If you haven’t, then hopefully you won’t find out 😉
Needless to say, after that setback my strength has taken a drop so I’m currently working back to previous lifts. A bit disappointing and I’ve had to swallow my ego and try to forget what I ‘could’ lift, and focus on just getting strong as I did before.
You will also notice a few changes around the site over the next few weeks as I haven’t taken the time to update in ages! I will also be looking to get ‘Hench – A Straightforward Guide To Size And Strength’ published and out there ASAP. This has taken a back seat for far too long. Watch this space for further details…
You don’t keep a training log.
Keeping a detailed log of your progress is one of the most important things you can do to make sure you are constantly progressing and acheiving optimal results from your training. Without this, your training is just guesswork. If you keep a log you can look back and set yourself a goal/PR to beat every session, or look back and make adjustments/changes when you hit a plateau. On top of this, how will you know you’ve improved over time? Wouldn’t you like to be able to look back and say ‘I’ve added 20kg to my Bench Press in the last 6 months!’ or ‘My 1 mile run time has dropped by over 30 seconds in the last 8 weeks’?
To build muscle you should always be striving to beat PR’s (personal records) in your training. Without your training log you will be hard pressed to remember all of your PR’s so you won’t know if your progressing or just spinning wheels, and without it, everything you do is just like driving without a map and your progress will be much slower than it could be.
This basic rule should form the basis of your entire workout plan, especially if strength is your goal. To structure your training approach, this is the most important factor. Nowadays everyone is so obsessed with all of the specific principles in the gym (such as rep ranges, grip variations, speed of reps, how many sets to perform, whioch days to train, exercise selection .. the list goes on ..) they fail to see the big picture.
Whatever your goal is, the underlying principle will always be progression.
Our bodies build muscle as an adaptive response to the environment they are exposed to. When you go to the gym, you break down your muscle fibers by lifting weights. Your body senses this as a potential threat to its survival and will react by rebuilding the damaged fibers larger and stronger in order to better enable them to cope with the threat next time. So in order to make continual gains in muscle size and strength, you must focus on progressing workout to workout in order to consistently increase that stress level and so growth.
Progression is in one of two forms – An increase in weight or an increase in reps. As long as you increase one of these every session you will give your body the incentive to grow stronger. If you ignore this and train without a logbook or a planned out session you will be ignoring the principle of growth and your gains will come to a grinding halt.
Your aim is to improve on a session by session basis, how can you do this without documenting it somehow? You need to record the lift, weight used and reps acheived so that the next time you enter the gym you can sit down, review the previous session/lifts performed and aim to smash the weight or reps you’ve recorded previously. Buy yourself a cheap diary and start writing it down!
How many of you see people training multiple sets to failure at every angle possible for chest development? How many sets should people be doing of curls? Why perform squats, then leg extensions, then lunges, then several different calf movements when working legs?
We have been polluted with these ridiculous bodybuilding methods for years, and despite the fact that nobody ever seems to make much progress from these, we continue to train in the same manner. Men’s fitness magazines to this day push high volume training and splits as a good thing, yet any personal trainer who has been around for a while or bothered to do some research on more than just one type of training should be able to tell you otherwise (I say should, as I have encountered many a complete idiot in the industry as well as some very knowledgeable trainers).
I myself used high volume training and although I did gain some weight in the short-term, most of this was just due to increasing the amount I was eating, alongside what is affectionally termed ‘the beginner effect’.
I’m not saying that no-one will benefit from high volume, there’s plenty out there who have, but this is structured volume like GVT or otherwise – The type of high volume I’m talking about is the classic split – Let’s take Chest & Triceps as an example split – several sets of flat bench, followed by incline, decline, some flyes or crossovers and then onto tricep extensions, pushdowns and maybe some dips to follow. Sound like something you’ve seen? Has this person made significant gains in the last year? Most likely not.
If you want to get bigger or stronger, you need to increase the weight on the bar, or the number of reps your performing with that weight. Adding another 4 sets will not help if you’re still only managing 10 reps every session with that same weight. I read a great article the other day where the author wrote “What if someone added 20kg to the bar, put a gun to your head and said ‘do another rep!’ You’d do it!, how about if they said ‘do two more or I shoot your wife?’ Again, you’d do it. How many sets would you do at that intensity? and do you think you would then go and perform 5 more sets of a different exercise using the same bodypart?”
How many of us are working at that level of intensity? If you are training without a log book your holding yourself back already. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing if you’re not taking note and increasing the intensity with either weight or reps each time you hit the gym – how do you know your progressing? You don’t! Cut all the crap, get a log book, start writing it down and start adding some intensity to your workouts!