Tag

The following are labeled with the Tag you have selected.

Tag Archive

How to Break Through Plateaus

It’s inevitable. You will hit a wall or plateau of sorts on your major lifts. Yes, you can cruise along for a relatively long time adding small amounts of weight each time you perform a lift. The more of a novice you are the longer this period will continue. Enjoy it and take full advantage of “beginner gains”. However, as you become more experienced and your training age increases the jumps in weight will become smaller and smaller until you hit a plateau and your increases start to flat line. At this point, an inexperienced lifter will become frustrated. He or she will continue to try the same weight over and over again until they eke out a rep even if it takes another number of weeks. On the other hand, an experienced lifter will know that this is just part of the game and will strategize and create a game plan of sorts to move past this plateau. In the following sections I have provided some of those strategies along with a few tips for less experienced lifters. Also, note that the major lifts are the bench press, deadlift, squat, and overhead press.

 

Beginners

  • Note: “Beginners” refers to anyone that is relatively inexperienced with the “big” lifts and also inexperienced with following a structured program. You can be a “beginner” even if you have been working out for years.
  • Stick to the 3-5 rule. Perform some combination of 3-5 sets with 3-5 reps.
  • Mark Rippetoe’s Starting Strength program is perfect for this. 5 sets of 5 increasing the weight each week.
  • Start light. Give yourself time to “grease the groove” and become proficient with the technique of the major lifts. Starting light also allows for more improvement for a longer period of time.
  • Small increases in weight. You don’t need to “max” out each week. Increasing the upper body lifts by 5 pounds each week and the lower body lifts by 10 pounds per week is more than enough, if you start light. Increases smaller than this might be even more beneficial.

 

Strategies for More Advanced Lifters

Use Percentages

 

  • Once you have experience with the major lifts and your technique is at least proficient I highly recommend the use of percentages in your program. Are there programs that don’t utilize percentages all the time? Sure, I previously mentioned the Starting Strength program which I love and which also does not use percentages. However, the use of percentages will allow you to have a long term plan and goal.
  • The use of percentages ensures that you are continuing along a path that is sustainable for a longer period of time and it also gives you a clear picture of how much you are improving.
  • Two of my favorite programs that utilize percentages are Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 program and Chad Wesley Smith’s Juggernaut program.

 

Same but Different

  • This strategy is probably the most difficult to follow especially if you have an inflated ego which I’m sure is not the case with most young lifters right?
  • It’s tough to follow through with this strategy because it calls for completely ignoring the lift you are trying to improve on for a period of time and doing something a little different instead.
  • It’s called same but different because in this strategy you will ignore the lift you are trying to improve upon and perform a similar exercise instead. For example, instead of performing the flat bench press you will instead program around the incline bench press. Or instead of programming the back squat you perform the front squat for a period of time.
  • This works for two major reasons. One, your mind and body gets a rest from the exercise you have been desperately been trying to improve for a period of time. In my opinion, the mental rest is just as beneficial as the physical one. Two, by working on the same movement just in a slightly different way you are actually working on a portion of the lift that may be lacking and holding you back on your “main” exercise.
  • You don’t necessarily have to do the same but different exercise for an entire training cycle but for a substantial amount of time maybe a month or 6 weeks would suffice.

I have personally done and seen this strategy work wonders in a relatively short period of time.

 

Train Weak Points

  • This is not for beginners because everything is a weak point for you. So do everything and do it often. Do not overthink this part of your programming.
  • Training Weak points will always be a necessary part of your programming.
  • The toughest thing for some people will be realizing what there weak points are. If you are one of the many people unsure what there weak points are try this; think about the accessory exercises, movements, and/or body parts that are your least favorite to execute. Those are most likely your weak points. People avoid doing what they don’t enjoy and most become a weak point.
  • If still unsure what your weak points are sit down and evaluate your program. What is missing or what haven’t you done in a while. Take note of the accessory lifts you are doing when your numbers are increasing but also take note of what you avoided when you hit your plateau.
  • You can also ask other people. Ask your lifting buddy who sees you perform the lift, ask a more experienced lifter for advice, etc.

 

Rest Days

  • Yes, rest days are important and I know it may strange coming from me, heck it feels weird typing this out. However, rest days are very important if you want to gain maximal strength.
  • This article was written to give you advice on increasing maximal strength in your major lifts when you hit a plateau. We weren’t discussing bodybuilding or any other type of training.
  • Your body needs to be as fully recovered as possible when strength is the goal.
  • If you do something the day before that is going to negatively affect your main lift the next day that is counterproductive to what we discussed in this article today.

 

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to support the site by subscribing with your email.

 

7 Reasons Your Not Seeing Results In The Gym

One might think that after two degrees and a few certifications my education might be over. Think again, because the real education begins after college graduation. As a professional in the strength and conditioning and personal training worlds I am continuously trying to improve myself. At first thought, it would be easy to assume that with increased knowledge and experience comes a better understanding of what to do and while that is a correct thought I have learned that although I do learn about what to do and what works I actually learn more of what not to do and what doesn’t work. I have a saying that I tell some of my clients that might question when I tell them not to do something. I say, “I may not know everything that works but I do know what doesn’t.” In my opinion, knowing what not to do because it doesn’t work is just as if not more important than knowing what does work. In my experience, you can always find a new strategy or tool that helps you get over a hurdle or plateau, but the things that don’t work never change. These seven things listed below have never helped anyone achieve anything in the past or present, nor will they in the future.

Note: You may notice I don’t talk about the importance of nutrition and sleep/recovery in any of the points listed below. If you don’t realize that those two things are just as important as the act of working out itself then please don’t even bother reading on

1. Lack of Patience

It blows my mind the lack of patience people have in the gym. It’s not just one demographic either. I have worked with high school and collegiate athletes, stay at home moms, business professionals, you name it and almost everyone suffers with a lack of patience at some point. The reason this drives me crazy sometimes is because the lack of common sense some people display the minute they step in the gym. If someone wants to learn how to play the guitar they’d most likely realize that it’s going to take an enormous amount of practice to even learn to play one song correctly and they accept this challenge because well how can you expect to learn a song in the first week if you’ve never played the guitar? But then that same person that hasn’t worked out in three years becomes frustrated that they haven’t gotten their body back that they had three years ago within the first two months of training. I also see people visibly upset that their weight in a certain lift only went up five pounds in one month. Let’s do the math, five pounds per month x twelve months= sixty pounds in a year. Go ahead and ask any experienced lifter if they would turn down an improvement of sixty pounds in a year. The answer is no way in hell. Bottom line: be patient, work hard, and quit crying.

2. Ego

One of my earliest articles was on ego (A Bodybuilders Worst Nightmare). In my opinion, this is the most amusing on the list. I’ve been working out since I was 14 years old and most of the time I don’t have a gym buddy so every once in a while I have to find ways to amuse myself. There is nothing more amusing than finding that person with the inflated ego at the gym. Just watching them walk across the gym amuses me. How they interact with other strangers at the gym, giving unwanted advice to some teenagers, or talking about their 1 rep max no one has ever witnessed brings amusement to my workout. It’s amusing to me because I will see that person six months to a year down the road and they have made zero improvement. The ironic thing is that the people with an inflated ego are the ones that should read this but they don’t realize that I am talking about them. Bottom line, leave your ego at the door. Bottom line: learn from others that are where you want to be, learn what not to do from those that are screwing up, learn from everyone.

3. No Clear Path/Goals

This point is pretty straight forward but no less important. If you don’t know where you are going how do you know when you have arrived? Or better yet how do you even plan the trip? Yes, doing anything is better than doing nothing. But doing something with a purpose is better yet. The goals you set don’t need to be permanent but they can’t change every week either. Having goals, or a why, uh huh see what I did there, will be your motivation and compass. It is harder to skip the gym if in the back of your mind you know you are screwing up a bigger plan rather than just skipping a single day. Bottom line: set a goal, make a plan, and attack it.

4.Fear of Failure

A fear of failure is something I see fairly often in the gym and it breaks my heart. It hits me hard because I know it is a difficult mental hurdle to get past. A common reason people are afraid to fail in the gym is because of the ego that we discussed earlier. They see failure as a hit to their ego, to their perceived awesomeness. I believe that failure is mandatory for success to happen in life and the gym is no different. I try to explain to my athletes and clients to expect failure. Failure is coming whether you like it or not so expect it. If you expect failure to come one day then it doesn’t hit you quite as hard when it does. Sure, it sucks when it happens but if it was part of the plan from the beginning then no big deal, regroup and push forward. Training in the gym for fat loss, strength gains, etc., is not a linear journey. You cannot continue to improve forever without any bumps in the road. It’s physically impossible. Bottom line: expect failure, learn from it, say screw it, and push forward.

5. Inconsistency

This is a no brainer. If you don’t show up regularly you will not see results or the results will be minimal. Period. End of story. And yes, you do have time for twenty minutes a day for an at home interval workout that will burn more fat than the hamsters running on the treadmill or elliptical for an hour every day at the gym.Bottom line: if it’s important to you, you will find time.

6. You Get Bored

I have to be careful not to go on a rant about this topic. Does training need to be boring to be effective? Absolutely not. Will it get boring sometimes? Most likely, yes. If you need your workouts to be entertaining every day the entire time you are working out then you might want to rethink yourwhy.Is your goal to see results or to be entertained? I can honestly say 1000% if someone told me watching paint dry for five hours a day would make me see the results I wanted I absolutely would do it. Of course, there are always ways to make training fun and there are too many for me to begin to list them. That’s not the point I’m trying to make anyways. Bottom line: if you can make training entertaining then absolutely do it but don’t lose sight of why you are training in the first place.

7. Majoring in the Minors

This last point is one that most people don’t even realize they are doing. Majoring in the minors refers to giving major focus to minor details. In my professional opinion, based off of my experiences, your success, no matter what your goal is, is going to come down to you doing anywhere from three to five things correctly and consistently. Yet, for whatever reason I have witnessed people giving a crazy amount of attention to one minor aspect of their training that will have little to no effect on them achieving their goal. I know at the beginning I mentioned I was not going to discuss the importance of nutrition and sleep but a perfect example of majoring in the minors would be stressing about what brand of supplements to purchase when you are sleeping four hours a night and eating processed crap. Guess what? You can spend whatever you want on the “perfect” supplement and if you are sleeping and eating like crap you can say bye-bye to those goals. And that’s not up for debate. An easy way to determine if it’s a minor aspect of training or a major aspect is if you have to think about it, it’s minor. I hope you get the point I’m trying to make because this topic was actually more difficult to discuss than I initially thought. Bottom line is: majoring in the minors, you just know it when you see it. Avoid doing it.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to support the site by subscribing with your email.

Say No to the Scale

I named my business “Training With a Why” because I wanted to help people develop a different way of thinking about their fitness and really their life. If you take a moment to think about, it it’s amazing how many things we do daily in our lives without thinking or asking ourselves why. We become so accustomed to thinking or doing things a certain way that it becomes automatic.

As a trainer, I am constantly challenging my clients to find the why. I find that this not only gives them a better understanding of what it is that we are trying to accomplish but is also a great source of motivation. It is harder to give up when the reason you started in the first place is in the forefront of your mind. Reading this without context I can see how some people may have a hard time understanding how someone can forget why they are doing what they are doing. However, it is fairly common for me to see people lose track of their why.

A perfect example of this is the weight scale. P.S., if I don’t go on a ten-page rant about the weight scale I’ll consider that a win and be very proud of myself if not downright surprised. This is by far my biggest complaint as a trainer. My issue is not with the scale itself, it has done nothing wrong to me, my problem is with the people that give it too much power. The scale is a single tool that can be used as a guide. Notice the phrase, “a single tool” as it is just one of many tools that can be used to track progress and in my opinion it is the least important tool as well. It can be helpful to use every once in awhile to reaffirm we are on the correct path. However, for someone who loses track of their “Why” the scale can be their number one enemy.

When someone loses track of their “Why” and begins treating the scale as the single most important thing, my headaches as a trainer begin. I can go on and on about why giving the scale too much power is a bad thing. However, I have found that the problems begin before the workouts and diet plans even take form. People get their “Why” all screwed up. What is just as bad as not having a “Why” is having a poor understanding of what the why actually is. The following is an example of a conversation I’ve had at least a few hundred times with clients over the years helping them gain full understanding of their “Why.”

Client: “I want to start working out and eating healthier.”

Me: “Okay and why is this important to you?”

Client: “I would like to lose some weight.”

Me: “Okay and what is your goal weight”

Client: “I would like to weigh (Enter very specific number here)”

Me: “And why is this important to you?”

Client: “I got on the scale last week and couldn’t believe how much I weighed.  I used to weight x amount at (enter period of time here).”

Me: “Okay and why do you believe you have to weigh X amount?”

Client: “So I can look and feel better in my clothes, bathing suit, etc. etc.”

Me: “Ding, Ding, Ding!!! And there is the winner. That is your why! Not the specific number on the scale.”

I can see why asking “why” over and over again to my clients can become annoying, but what I am actually doing is getting to the very roots of their dreams and desires. The number on the scale is not the why. It is simply a tool in tracking the progress of the true why. It is my job to help people find and understand their true “Why” and then keep it in the forefront.

It is getting harder and harder to do this with all these 10-minute ab workouts and fad diets placing too much emphasis and power on what the scale says. I’ve had clients with goals of becoming stronger, or more lean, or healthier, or a big one is to look better in their clothes. So, we train and train and they continually improve their diet and sure enough they are getting stronger every day and their clothes are visibly fitting them better. They are feeling really good about themselves and then they step on the scale and are heartbroken that they have only lost 7 pounds. Are you freaking kidding me!

This is when I have to remind them of their “Why” and how they are achieving that why. It’s like the saying I have heard many times growing up about money. Find a job that you love and the money will come. In fitness, in regards to the number on the scale, keep inching closer to the true why and the weight will come. To close this article out, I have listed a few reasons below about why you should not give the scale too much power. I hope that this will entice you to possibly change about how you view fitness and your own goals and your why behind them.

Why The Weight Scale is Not the Answer
  • Everyone holds weight differently and you should not base your weight goals off of someone else.
  • Improvement can be made before change is visible on the scale.
  • Body weight fluctuates more than you realize.
  • It is not always a reliable tool for your state of “health”.
  • Muscle weighs more than fat.
  • The mirror is a much more reliable tool.
  • It can cause you to lose track of your why.

 

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to support the site by subscribing with your email.

Killer Back Routine YouTube Video

Check out our latest YouTube video “Killer Back Routine”.

Thanks for viewing and make sure to our website for more blogs and information and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for additional videos: Training With a “Why?”

 

 

Lessons the Gym Has Taught Me

You can call me weird, but I loved being in school. I loved being around my friends, the extracurricular activities, and I enjoyed playing sports and the atmosphere of a Friday during football season. In college I loved meeting new people, living in a different town, and just all the new experiences college brought into my life. I think towards the top of that list of things I loved, if not at the very top, was just being a student. I always loved learning new things and bettering myself. I enjoyed the process that was school. It turns out that it was a good thing I liked school because at twenty-five years old and a graduate from high school, a four year college, and another year to earn my master’s degree, roughly 92% of my life so far has been spent in an academic setting. My experiences and lessons learned in high school led me to what I wanted to study in college.

Earning my bachelor’s and master’s degrees gave me a foundation of knowledge that I use every day. These countless lessons shaped me into the kind of professional I am today and I am proud of that. However, what I am more proud of is the type of person I am and continue to develop into. Besides my parents, who obviously played an enormous part of developing me into the person I am today, I can honestly say next on that list is the gym. The gym is an enormous part of my life but the reasons and benefits extend far beyond the bench and squat rack. Here are a few lessons the gym has taught me over the years.

Discipline and Patience

I went back and forth about which word to put first in the heading because both are important and you can’t have one without the other. If you aren’t disciplined or you lack patience you will not succeed in the gym. Heck, I guess you can say that about almost any goal in life. You learn fast that you better have the discipline to consistently go to the gym. Especially the days when you have other offers on the table or you didn’t get a good night sleep the night before. The thing most people forget is the discipline you need outside the gym to help reach your goals. The discipline to go to bed earlier, meal prep for the week, to stay in on Friday night when you are supposed to work out Saturday morning. This discipline will also come in handy when your patience is starting to waver and you become discouraged. And trust me it will happen at some point! When you are at the gym you better possess patience because nothing happens overnight, or in a week.

Depending on the situation you might not approach your goals for months or years at a time! I truly believe that the success I have had in the gym is because I honestly love the process. I am a nerd when it comes to winning the little battles. I love it when I improve on a lift by five or ten pounds even if it takes a month or more.! Learn to love the process and be patient and results will follow, guaranteed.

The Skill to Adjust

This one is definitely the one that I naturally struggle with the most. I love routines. I love knowing what I am going to do well in advance. This is actually a good thing regarding the gym because routines, or programs, are how you progress. However, the gym, like life, is not always perfect with impeccable conditions. Things happen and you must adjust. Unfortunately, I had many injuries during my football career that ultimately ended my playing days. While trying to combine preparing for the upcoming season and still rehabbing an injury I was forced to learn how to adjust and work around things. Even now that my playing days are over I still struggle with the inconvenient injuries that come with training. Anyone that works out regularly can attest that you are not always going to be 100% all the time. So you have to adjust so that you still get your work done. Bodybuilders are great at this because not being able to train a certain body part because of injury is just not acceptable. So they become masters at finding different ways of working around an injury. I have also had to adjust my routines when certain equipment is not available for whatever reason.

The third reason you may have to adjust is because something is just not working. In training almost everything will work when you first try it. Then your body adapts and you must adapt with it. You must adjust what you are doing to continue down the path to success. This realizing that something must be adjusted leads me to my next and last point, self-awareness.

Self-Awareness

Okay, maybe I lied. Honestly, I’m not sure what I naturally struggle with more, adjusting or being self-aware. But I am aware that self-awareness is not a strong point so does that mean I am actually self-aware? Ironic, but I digress. I believe that self-awareness is one of the most underrated skill sets not just in the gym but in life in general. I hold it in such high regard that it is probably the one skill I would choose if I only had one choice. If you are self-aware you know exactly what you are good at and what you aren’t good at. Sounds like common sense right? Not so much. I see it all the time in the gym. People have an inflated idea about what they are good at and completely ignore what they suck at. In the gym that is a recipe for disaster. You need to attack what you are bad at. See my article about training weak points Weak Point Training – Training With a “Why?”

I am continuously trying to improve my self-awareness not just in the gym but in all other aspects of my life. The gym is a great way to practice this. Being self-aware about what body parts are my strong points, which ones are lagging behind. What movements am I good at? Which ones need some extra attention? This a skill set that will not only improve your performance in the gym but in everyday life. Self-awareness and being honest with yourself can become uncomfortable at times because no one wants to admit that they are bad at something. Maybe ask a family member or close friend to help you figure out what your strong points and weak points are. But remain open minded and remind yourself it will lead to growth in more ways than one.

As always, thanks for reading and be sure to subscribe to the site to stay up to date on all the new articles coming soon!