“Blasting,” “killing,” “destroying,” “pummeling”, and “crushing” training sessions seems to be the accepted vernacular in your common, big-box gyms these days. If you’re not “killing it” every day then don’t even show up until you’re ready to show your mettle. You need extreme intensity mustered from the depths of your soul.
Best recipe, right?
Building our physique for the long-term should be the goal for most of us. By building I mean all aspects of the word: strength, healthy muscle, mobility, wellness/health, and eating habits as well as stress management and recovery/injury prevention.
As with most things in life moderation is key. “Killing it” every day will only lead to burnout, stagnation, and possibly getting benched from the gym. Moderation doesn’t have to mean easy or soft. It’s simply a more long-term, sustainable attitude toward our goals that will allow us to get a little better every day without limping out of the gym after each session.
Below I’ve outlined several principles to keep in mind when long-term goal-setting is on the docket. Later I’ll post some simple-to-follow programs for uncomplicated muscle building.
Set Real-World Goals
Short-term total body transformations should be reserved for too-good-to-be-true supplement ads. Of course, you’ll need to set long term goals such as losing 30 pounds or gaining 10 pounds of lean muscle but focusing on the short term daily and weekly habits will set the pace more effectively. As a rule, shoot to lose one to two pounds of fat per week or gain one, two, or three pounds of muscle per month.
Cruise Control vs. Turbo
Going all out in the gym on the daily will guarantee burnout. Sure, it’s great to have one of those balls-to-the-wall training sessions every now and again – you know, those days where everything’s clicking, and you feel you’d be a fool not to take advantage of it. But most days should be “steady as she goes.” The best results will come from getting in a great workout, progressing on a few lifts (reps or weight) and leaving the gym with just a little left in the tank to jump start the recovery process.
Moderation in Sets and Reps and Load and Failure
Whether it’s diets training, or any other mode of self-improvement we live in a world of extremes. But think back to when you were the most productive. I bet moderation reigned. When it comes to reps, sets, weight lifted, and even recovery (nutrition, supplementation) moderation should be your best friend. Rep in the 8 to 12 range, two or three exercises for larger body parts (chest, back, thighs) and two for smaller body parts (shoulders, arms, calves), and weight amounts that enable you to hit your rep ranges with textbook form.
Consistency for the Tong Term
It’s not just an intense workout or two that will produce the best results. Get in your training each day, week, and month with progression in mind. It’s the small, deliberate steps, one after the other, that result in real change. Even when you feel like you’re not making any significant progress, keep at it.
Try to increase reps and/or weight each workout. Sure, you’ll get to a point where that seems impossible and that’s fine. Don’t bail. Just adjust a few things slightly and get back at it. My personal rule of thumb, when hitting a plateau, is to either take a few days off or downshift training intensity for about a week or so and then crank it up again.
When we follow crazy, intense training programs they usually warn against missing any days. It’s forbidden. If you do you’ll never reach your pinnacle of perfection right? Here’s the deal: stop worrying so much. Missing a day or two won’t kill you if you just pick up where you left off. Here’s another rule of thumb: don’t schedule lengthy time off – life will provide it for you whether it’s family obligations, work, or any other spontaneous responsibility.
Another crux is the world’s never-ending, out-of-control take on nutrition. Much like training nutrition is another touchy subject and one that isn’t immune to extreme thinking. Let me tell you a secret; we all know what and how to eat for muscle gain and for fat loss. We just don’t follow our own advice. Lean proteins, plenty of complex carbs, healthy fats and plenty of water. If you want to gain muscle add around 300 to 500 extra calories. Do the opposite for fat loss. Don’t sweat it.
Rest and Stress
Speaking of sweating it – regulating rest and stress are possibly the most important factors determining your success. Without proper rest you’ll have an uphill battle trying to lose fat or gain muscle mass. And with an out-of-control stress level you’ll most certainly undermine your ability to progress. Make rest a priority. Seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Go to bed at a decent time and wake up the same time each day. Manage stress levels by developing healthy habits and organize your daily schedule.
How to Choose the Best Program
I’m a huge believer in the now old saying, “the best program is the one you’re on right now.” Whatever you decide stick with it for at least three months. Avoid program hopping. How will you know what worked and what didn’t if you’re constantly jumping around chasing shiny things all the time?
I’ll be posting some solid training programs soon, so you can start to build your best physique for life.
See you then!
List of the entire program:
Best Physique Introduction