6 Lessons From The Gym Floor

8 Jul

Throughout the course of your training career you’re going to have a few moments that strike you. A few moments that change the way you train forever and unlock new gains. Here’s a few that I have picked up over the past years. I learned them the hard way…

I’m Not Ready To Split My Workouts by Body Part – What’s the most popular and employed strategy to get bigger by lifting weights? I would offer that it’s using a body part split. Monday is Chest and Tri’s. After a weekend of striking out in 10 consecutive at bats versus the pitcher that is the female sex, you gotta hit the bench press right? Tuesday is Legs, although you somehow figure out a way around this one. Wednesday is Back and Bi’s and generally consists of a lot more Bi’s then back. Thursday is Shoulders. Friday you get some cardio in, Abs of course, and maybe an extra few sets of bench press to prepare for the weekend. Sound like anyone you know?

* Before I go any farther, I realize this one of the most debated topics in training – but through my own experiences and the experiences of my clients this is my take…

Now stay with me here on this one, the body part split is the most successful way to train to get BIG and also the most failed. What the F Bomb does that mean? Body Part Splits DO WORK. When they are used correctly, or by the right person they can produce some pretty great amounts of hypertrophy. Generally the biggest guys you see use this training technique. However, the body part split is also hands down the most failed approach! I mean lets face it, you can walk into any gym and see plenty of guys, and girls for that matter, splitting their workouts by body part, and they’re not turning any heads.

Why? Their body isn’t recovering from the immense volume of work that training like this puts on a single muscle group.

To split your body parts and have success you need a few things going for you. First and foremost you need to be able to recover from the work load. Therefore you need to have sweet genetics. Or you have to have built up a great base, i.e. have many years of basic heavy lifting under your belt. Lastly you need to be devoting a lot of time to your recovery, i.e. nutrition, sleep, etc.. Even the right amount of attention to recovery won’t get most people very far. The guys you see endorsing body part splits in magazines aren’t only genetic freaks they generally take performance enhancing drugs.

This is why you find that most trainers have their clientele on full body workouts, or upper / lower splits. This approach works better for the majority of people. It gives them the opportunity to recover from the volume and focuses their efforts on bigger compound movements.

If you’re running head first into a wall with your body part split, change your approach and you will see the difference.

Strength Comes Before Size – It doesn’t take big weights to build big muscles. Although hypertrophy is a bi product of strength gains, you can build an impressive physique with sub maximal weights. That being said, In my experience you will build a bigger physique when you can lift heavier weights longer.  People make big gains when they can lift what they previously did for 3 reps 8 times or 5 reps for 12, etc. It’s common sense, right> You have successfully followed a progressive overload if you get this result, and your body has undergone adaptation, rendering you a bigger stronger specimen.

Focus on getting stronger first so that you can withstand a longer time under the bar with a big weight.

Increase Volume by Adding Sets – This is kind of a broad point, but it warrants bringing up. By adding sets you are adding volume. A lot of people I see associate their increased volume with more exercises. Start shying away from doing three sets of everything and start flirting with more sets per exercise at the same intensity (weight). By adding volume this way you are using only a few exercises to add more volume, and in doing so you are taking advantage of the fact that your Nervous System is primed to make that movement. Additionally you are mentally more accustomed to making that movement and you can focus on lifting bigger weights instead of continually adjusting to a new exercise.

Nutrition Trumps Everything – You will make the greatest physique changes by altering your nutrition. If you’re not losing fat start eating better. If you aren’t gaining weight start eating a lot more.

Workout Nutrition Can’t Be Overlooked – I won’t go into details but you need to focus on your post workout nutrition. After a workout your body is primed to take in a lot of nutrients. You have depleted your glycogen stores and your muscles are thirsting for quick acting protein and carbohydrates, give it to them.

Focusing on Your Weaknesses Will Unlock New Gains and a Better Physique – You’re inflexible and you don’t want to spend the time on mobility and stretching. Your upper back is weak and small and you don’t want to do heavy rack pulls. These are just some examples. Pick out your weaknesses and make sure you’re making them a priority. In doing so you will feel better and look better.

I could probably think of  some more but these are the ones that come up again and again. Review your approach and make sure that you’re splitting your workouts correctly, progressing them correctly, focusing on your nutrition, and addressing your weaknesses. Prioritizing these areas unlocked a lot of untapped muscle for me and my clients. I know they will do the same for you!



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