On a day sort of like this on out here in California, eighteen years ago, I started working out in my bedroom with a Sears plastic weight set and no clue of what I needed to do. Passion drove me and the hunger to build muscle, become stronger and change my body serve as the fuel for massive change in the future. A senior in high school without a clue except that I desired a different body image and I desperately wanted to change.
At the time, my mind overflowed with ambitious dreams of the future.
There are techniques that can make your quest easier and your journey more compelling. While this list is in no way comprehensive, these 10 strategies are used quite a bit because they work.
Frankly… it’s the foundation of my own fitness program. In order to see results, you’ve got to give your program time to work and it needs to be applied over a period of weeks. Since bodies don’t change overnight, most don’t, repetition is key and if you can keep repeating something over and over even as simple as going to the gym, ultimately you’ll be better off today than you were yesterday.
Most fitness experts won’t tell you this but even if it’s the WRONG thing to do (e.g. 60 minutes of low intensity cardio for some) it’s still better than doing nothing or being frustrated and staying home. Go to the gym, repeat the steps over and over and learn along the way. Then adjust. As you repeat the process, it becomes routine. Ingrained in your daily life and that is exact point when missing a workout feels strange. Because you’ve repeated it so many times it’s part of your life. Repetition.
During the months of October 2008 - December 2008, I lost my reasons why. Reasons why I went to the gym. I’m already healthy, I eat right and I workout. For those 3 months, I was focused on the Stock Market, my portfolio that was taking a beating and it’s when I learned something about trading options and changing my perspective on investing.
But my reasons why for going to the gym were back-burnered. I didn’t go much. My workouts were ho-hum and sub-par. I felt like the reason of the mindless crowd that shows up. Looks around and then tries to figure out what to do. Does some stuff and leaves unsatisfied. Reminded me of the college days when I had no time either!
The strategy itself does make sense if you think about it. We don’t like to be told things or asked to take action without a reasonable explanation. You need to give yourself a reason why. It will help you stay focused and enable repetition to become common place.
Dave Draper once said…
If there’s a secret, it’s consistency. Don’t quote me on this, but I believe bad exercise, badly executed consistently is far better than no exercise at all.
Exercise applied consistently over a period of years will lead to results. Even the guys in my gym that do the worst form, the sloppiest stuff and are all over the board at still 100x in better shape than those who do nothing and figure it’s not worth their time. These guys and gals are at least consistent in their efforts. Over time, they can learn and change. But it’s the repetition of going to the gym and making an appearance and then applying sound principles consistently over time that makes a person’s physique change.
Expand Your Social Support
Some people need personal trainers. Others need a training partner. And with Web 2.0 stuff becoming more and more mainstream to the point of Twitter updates on your cell phone mid-set, you can do something Adam Waters has said before.
There is a need for positive pressure to make accountability work.
My friend Mike Mahony wrote a 2 part post about Social Networking 101. He’s using it to provide accountability for himself in his muscle building goals and current fat loss endeavors. Instead of paying for a trainer in this case, he’s getting support from friends and making himself more accountable for his daily efforts by posting his results, his thoughts and his discoveries along the way.
Maybe you can use Social Media in some way to connect with like-minded people today that have similar goals? The power of the group is more than enough fuel when you don’t seem to have the energy yourself.
When somebody has the machine you want or the squat cage has a line longer than opening night of a hit movie, you need to have an arsenal of other exercises you can do. No matter the gym I step into, I’ve got a Plan A and a Plan B. If a station is taken or somebody steals my thunder during a super-set, I can switch it up quickly. Don’t worry…
You won’t have to learn every exercise in the book but it helps to have options. Sticking to a single plan for the rest of your life is not the way to go. Try new programs. See what works. Toss out what doesn’t. Learn new exercises. The more you have at your disposal, the faster you can keep challenging your body to grow.
Having an open mind will propel you to your goals so fast your head will spin. And in the event things don’t go your way, you’ll have options. I’ve know 2 people in my journey so far that literally left the gym when the only squat bar was in use. They had no other options to stimulate leg growth! Don’t be like that.
One such resource is Nick Nilsson and his Powerful Training Secrets. I have no idea how Nick comes up with all these exercises. It’’s an amazing resource of exercises, mainstream and not for every body part.
Once you’ve got some reasons why at any point in your quest, it’s equally important to address any objections you might have to starting a new program, a new gym or anything else.
If you start to think “yeah but…”
You’ll stray off the path. Figure out any issues up front and tackle them head-on. Here’s an example.
You purchase a new fat burning or muscle building program. You print it out and immediately pick it apart. “Yeah but squats and deadlifts on the same day? I read that’s not good.”
For starters, you’ve put yourself in a negative mindset and it’s doubtful the program will work for you. Before you start something, address those objections up front and get over it. If you can’t, then find another alternative. I’ve seen too many people download, print or purchase a program only to tweak the living heck out of it before Day 1 and in less than 2 weeks, they have determined the program isn’t any good.
They failed to address their personal objections up front Day 1.
Learn to Deal with Information Overload
15 years ago, all you had for fitness information came from the mainstream publications of professional bodybuilders. Doing those routines would eliminate the average person. Not a lot existed at the time to get quality information out to the masses for the natural bodybuilder.
There’s so much information out there that over time, you are just as confused as you were before you had any.
Cardio is bad?
No wait, low intensity cadio is bad.
Wait.. cardio over 45 minutes is bad but I see really ripped bodybuilders doing it and it’s working for them?!
Squat below parallel are bad for the knees but this guy says that’s not true?
1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. Or is that 1.43? Or 2 g? Or as much as possible?
Carbs before 7pm is bad. That’s a myth. No wait it is true if I go to be at 5pm. But…
Creatine works! Creatine doesn’t work.
The trick is to learn from quality sources and filter out the noise. If you listen to everybody and believe the hype, you’ll end up in the same position today as yesterday. Unable to move. Unable to make a decision. And more confused than ever before with the slew of information coming at you.
I’ve often said that unless your job is a personal trainer, a freelance writer or you have a passion for learning this stuff, there’s simply no point in learning all the minor details if whatever you are doing is working for you today.
In fact, some of the most brilliant minds in nutrition today don’t have the bodies to prove it. The reverse is true, some of the most gifted natural bodybuilders that work hard day in and day out and follow the basics, couldn’t tell you too much about Cortisol or how fat is stored. They don’t care, they just know how to burn it.
It does not take a degree in exercise physiology or a Masters in Nutrition to get this right. Learn what you need to know for your own personal goals and then apply those fundamentals consistently, over time with hard work and dedication. That’s how the job gets done.
Know Thyself or The Experiment of One
Carlos DeJesus said…
The experiment of one is essentially the Discovery of self.
Learning is awesome. Knowing fact from fiction is important. Following the fundamentals is the ultimate key to success. But the end result is you and you alone. What works for you and whatever gets you the results you desire.
I’ve read too many articles that tell me don’t use this machine. I’ve written articles myself that tell you to avoid 2 exercises if you value your lower back and shoulders. There’s plenty of research to support Brand X supplement.
A bit skinny? A bit overweight? Don’t avoid those issues if they bother you. Deal with them directly and learn how to solve them. I spent eighteen years dealing with the Skinny Guy issue but with repetition, consistency, being bugged by the problem and trying to solve it. I made plenty of mistakes along the way. But I got there and if I gave up years ago, I’d still have my personal issue that bothered me and I’d not be anywhere close to my goal.
Learn from Mistakes; Don’t Dwell on Them
It’s okay to miss a gym day. As I type out this blog skipping breakfast while being burned on a trade I place earlier today, once again I’m reminded that it’s okay to make mistakes. So what if I skipped breakfast just today? Big deal. I’ll live. I won’t lose 10 lbs of muscle and I will still have a kick butt gym day.
Now if I did that every single day, we’d have a problem.
Too many people beat themselves up for the smallest things. They will ruin an entire 12 hour day because they missed 45 minutes of the gym. I literally worked half-asses for 3 months while I focused on something else, I ate like the normal person and didn’t drink enough water.
I didn’t get much weaker. I didn’t lose much mass. And my entire body didn’t gain 12+ body fat. I’m not bragging about my lack of reasons why or my consistency in the gym. I only wish to prove that it’s okay to stumble a bit in your journey forward. If you beat yourself up over the minor mistakes, you end up being so negative you quit going altogether and that is a mistake you should dwell on!
Allow yourself to make some mistakes. Fitness is the quest of a lifetime. Give yourself room to breathe so you can focus on the important stuff and keep making the small steps forward.
If this resonates with you, feel free to drop me a comment below or add in a techinque I missed that has made all the difference in your life.