4 Random Thoughts for Faster Training Results
This year marks my 22nd year of training myself and competing in various sports, as well as my 13th year coaching others. All of this time in the iron game means that a LOT of random thoughts roll through my head every day.
Along with my own training experience, I also love to study and stay up to date on training and exercise science. With that comes the need to take any information I learn as well as my experiences and simplify the delivery to my clients and athletes. After all, most people I work with, in fact less than 1%, want to know the science of why what I have them do works, they just want progress.
So, here are some random thoughts to help you improve your training results:
1.Push progressive overload: This principle is simple and easily applied by doing any of the following in your training:
- Try to complete more reps/set with a given weight from week to week
- Add an extra set of an exercise to add more total training sets and volume
- Increase the load and work to complete the same reps as a lighter weight
It really is not complex. Do not walk in the gym and have exact weights and reps in your head. Push to do more, add weight and add reps or sets. The body adapts quickly, so variety and constant change are needed to push constant adaptation
2. Take sets to positive failure: Especially in regards to building muscle, there seems to be a high correlation in the research that shows a favorable amount of proof for taking sets to failure in order to promote muscle growth. The biggest mistake I see made here is that when someone sees 10 reps on 5 reps or whatever it may be on their program, they are married to that number. This is in general an error and will lead to less total improvement for both beginners as well as trained individuals.
Easy fix: On the last set of ANY given exercise, at any weight, take the set to positive muscle failure. I use the term positive muscle failure, meaning stop the set as soon as you cannot with maximal effort complete another rep with good technique. Push your limits, but know a safe stop or fail point.
3. Vary your training time: I realize that this is not an option for everyone all the time, but I do feel that occasionally training at different times of day, or with more alertness or energy via food intake can lead to more aggressive or focused training sessions. Training in the early morning before work all the time puts a certain time constraint on people. It is what it is really, and I understand it. I also coach a large number of motivated morning clients at 6am 3 days/week. I choose to do this, because they train as hard as my evening athletes and clients, so it is rewarding for me- usually, lol.
This big difference with this group, is that in the morning we have less time for extra work, less time for warm ups, less energy in general, less time to talk shop and less time to plug in extra sets or weak point work.
Morning training, usually at least, requires us to hammer the basics, keep things simple and get solid well rounded work done. Obviously this does not apply to all, but I do recommend many morning trainees try to get at least 1-2 days/ week in whenever they can in order to have that extra time to hammer out some solid weak point work and just fill in the holes that may get missed in the shorter morning time slots.
I’ll end this note by saying that morning training is not bad, not at all. It does come with restrictions and differences though and after 13 years of coaching, I hold strong to this point. Do what you have to, but be open to change every once in a while and you may be pleasantly surprised.
4. Add an extra session for fun, conditioning and weak point work: This is simple, add 1-2 extra short and focused training sessions. These days can be plugged in anywhere, and really on a day you have a lot of time available, you could add it to the end of a training session for 10-20 minutes. These days can be viewed as whatever you want:
- Extra volume work to bring up weak points or muscular imbalances
- Rehab/recovery work to prepare for upcoming heavy training sessions
- Conditioning work or low complexity circuits to build conditioning or burn calories
- A combination of new exercises you are trying to learn so you can use them efficiently in future training sessions with higher loads
The possibilities are endless, but the takeaway here is to sort of remove the strict rules of more serious training sessions. Still work hard and use good technique, that goes without saying- but enjoy yourself.
For people who work hard in the gym for years, the heavy training can sometimes get interrupted by life, schedules, injuries, etc…. Get your main work in, but be open to just add in the things you want to keep enjoyment high.
The best program is the one you will follow consistently, so while your coach or the program you are on laid out and detailed, you can still include your extra tidbits to keep yourself happy and motivated. These mini sessions can be written in pencil and adjusted on the fly.
Call them finishers, met-cons, fluff and buff or vanity work. The name doesn’t matter- just have fun and select extra work with your other sessions in mind.
Don’t overcomplicate things. Just work hard, consistently push your limits and don’t be too rigid or have everything set in stone!
Keep training simple,