I am constantly looking for new ways to improve my life whether its energy, health, strength or lifestyle. I am at a point in my life and health career that I know my body pretty well. I know whats going to make me gain weight the fastest and how to get under 7% body fat. It’s taken me time and a lot of trial and error but I feel like I have a good grasp on the big picture.
These key points are going to improve your strength, focus and overall time inside the gym and out. All you have to do is take massive action and apply them. These 5 simple points touch on a few different areas of your training so sit tight and don’t get lost!!
1) Know what your goals are: So we are past the “I just want to be healthy”. That’s good but eventually you want to get specific. It keeps the motivation up and makes it easier to set goals along the way. Currently my main goal is to gain strength and weight. My life year goal is to weigh in at 200lbs at sub 10% BF. Its a big goal and def a long term one but its something that stays in the back of my head as I go through my workouts. Other small goals for me would be to have better body control. Sprints and body weight workouts are going to help me reach this goal so I try an spend extra time working on these exact things.
A lot of guys walk into the gym just aiming to move weight, talk, check out girls and walk out. Please leave because you’re in the way of the other guys getting their work done. Have a purpose when you walk into the gym. Understand exactly what your short and long term goals are and why your lifting the way you do. Once you have established these goals go after them relentlessly..not for a couple months but think years!! You are not here until you hit that weight loss or PR on overhead press. Your here until you get the feeling of a void that needs filled when you skip your training day. Lifestyle
2) Think mastering before variety: Program hoppers…the gym is full of them. They are the guys and gals who you will see in the gym for over a year and they look exactly the same. One mind set that I have really gone back to over the past 2 years is sticking to the basics and doing them until I have mastered them. Once I have done that I focus on weight and reps. I stay away from doing 10 different back exercises over 2 weeks worth of training just so I have variety. It’s hard to grade progress with that. Every exercise you do should have a standard of completion. I’m not expecting you to be perfect at everything but you should strive to be the best at that specific exercise as much as possible. This is going to train your brain to only except a certain standard. As long as you continue to work at that capacity then mastering exercises will come easy.
3) Strive to be 100% natural: This rings out different for a lot of people but my standard for training is 100% natural (I don’t consider whey protein a performance enhancer so I do take that). Stuff like creatine, beta alanine, pre-workouts etc. are just going bring manufactured results. Without those sups you wouldn’t be able to do what you do therefore your strength is not natural. Everyone has bad days and I am sure its nice to have that extra surge of energy before you crush it in the gym but why not just down a cup of coffee. All you need is a little natural caffeine and you will be fine. I have met so many guys who take a laundry list of sups and feel without them they wouldn’t be able to lift heavy and see the gains they want….patience is usually an issue here. If you want to look like Jay Cutler than juice up and train until your eyes explode. Don’t take a bunch of junk and expect the results just because you paid for some overpriced diluted chemical that claims to pack on lbs of muscle in a couple months.
Take a deep breath, get on a good program and eat. The results will come.
4) Learn to control breathing: One of the most overlooked techniques in the gym. I remember in college learning about the valsalva maneuver which is basically holding your breath while you lift. They basically shunned it and said you should never do it. Keep in mind none of my professors even remotely looked like they could even squat their own weight. There is a time and a place for holding your breath during your lifts. When it comes to squats, presses and pulls (deads) and all olympic lifts, keeping a tight abdominal structure is extremely important. Before every squat I take a deep breath, fill my belly and drop and wont exhale until the end or slowly let a little air out as I am coming up. I feel more control over my midsection when I have that air pulled in tight. I do the same thing with push presses, deads and bench. The sloppier your midsection is when pressing the weight up the more room you have for injury and less power behind your push. Again, it all comes down to the rigidity of your body when doing these major lifts you need to pull your self in tight and hold that throughout the lift.
This takes practice and I always say to take every step to lifting slowly. If your body is not conditioned to holding your breath during that period of time work up to it but always try to maintain a rigid and tight body during the entire lift.
This does not apply to lifts like curls, extension or any other isolated machine or free weight lift.
5) Work ROM: This is one of those things that you don’t really notice until its too late. I have been lifting for over 10 years and only really started working on “Range of Motion” work for the past 2 years. I have a lot of work to do but I have dedicated myself to really trying to make it a habit. I have gotten to the point that after every workout I am doing some kind of basic ROM drill to work whatever muscle group I hit that day. I have issues that have taken me years to get and its going to take a while to correct them but persistence will bring the results!! If you continue to lift heavy and skip over the rolling, stretching and other mobility work you’re going to pay for it and eventually, as strong as you may look, your performance in a functional way is going to suffer.
Here are a few key mobility exercises and workshops!
Get after it!