Most reading this wondered into the gym one day hoping to be a bit fitter, stronger, or just look a bit better in front of the mirror. For some, the training has become a passion and may’ve even helped shape your lifestyle. In this article, I will outline some different methods of training and how I’ve come to train the way I do. I hope you find the article helpful.
How many times a week should we weight train, what’s right? Well, in theory you could train every day of the week, split your body up and train every day. When you’re starting out in weight training, that might sound great but a few factors will mean that soon becomes counter-productive.
Recovery - When you train you cause small tears in the muscle as you apply a stress (weights). The body can only repair and grow those if you rest and supply the correct nutrition. Your central nervous system tires too. So, every time you train, you get tired and, the more you hammer the body, the less likely you are to grow muscle.
Personal life - As you get older, there are more and more demands on your life e.g. work, family, a partner, etc. It’s not always possible to spend every day in the gym, you have to have a balanced life.
Motivation - If you’re following the same routine day in day out, you’re mentally just going to burn out. You should be approaching a workout ready to bring hell and you can only do that with a fresh and motivated mind.
No, I’m not talking about that great new vest you got!! Training styles are vast. High reps, low reps, machines, free weights, drop sets, rest pause, the list goes on and on.
For me, it comes down to a very simple thing: Your body will only adapt to new stress. Doing the same thing every week will not cause new muscle to grow or you to get any leaner. The simplest way to provide new stress is to lift a bit heavier each time you lift with good form. You could also keep the weight the same and do more reps. There are also a few little intensity techniques that I will cover that you might want to try when you feel you’re in a rut.
Drop sets - These are great as a finisher. You take a weight and perform a normal set, then, without rest you lower the weight and do another set. This is a new stress and can spark new growth.
Rest pause - Rest pause is very simple. Rather than doing one set, wait five minutes and do the next set. You pick a weight (I like one a bit heavier than normal) and do a set. Then, you wait 5-10 seconds and crank out some more reps and so on. This allows you to get a good number of reps with a weight that you previously thought was beyond you.
Static holds - Nice to do these at the end of a workout. I do these on a machine. For example, I did 2 sets on the chest press machine to failure and, then, immediately after my second set, I increased the weight by 20kg and pushed the weight to the mid-position. All you have to do then is make an effort to hold the weight static at the mid-position of a movement. As you fatigue, the weight will slowly return to the start-position (like a controlled negative). This is a great way of taxing your muscles.
Putting it all together
So, now comes the time when you need to put a training style suited to you together. To help you, this is how I structured my training:
I have a full-time job and a wife who I like to spend time with. Therefore, I choose to train at 6.30am. The early start allows me a nice quiet gym and I can also spend every evening with my wife. If we have anywhere we want to go or anything we wish to do (other than training), we can do it.
I find that training any more than three days a week takes a bit of anticipation away from my workouts. I find on 4 days a week, I’m plodding a bit by the end of the week. So, for me, three days works well. I can hit the workouts hard and I’m up for the workout every time.
Through trial and error, I have found that the best way for me to grow muscle is to keep my volume moderate, so nothing too high volume, but I’m doing enough working sets to feel I have worked. I up the volume or intensity if I am feeling great and, likewise, if I am feeling under the weather, I will cut back on the intensity. When you commit to a lifestyle where you will be working out for years, one slightly off workout won’t cause you to lose muscle, however, if you try and battle through on that day and end up injured, you can be out for a long time. So, in essence, listen to your body.
With my volume being moderate, I try and progress in weight (poundage lifted) most workouts. For me, a stronger muscle is a bigger muscle. I add-in intensity techniques (like those mentioned above) now and again, but there is no real structure to adding them in. If the heavy weight has taxed me and I feel it’s got the job done, then I won’t do a drop set. If I have missed my target reps or just feel I have more gas in the tank, then a drop set will be added.
As a side note: I do three session of cardiovascular exercise per week and, when the weather is nice, I walk at the weekend. This not only helps with my health, but helps my body recover from weight training.
I hope this article will help you decide on the best training plan for you. Learn about YOUR body, then act accordingly and your results will come.
This article was kindly provided by natural bodybuilder Scott Galton, with photos of IFBB Pro Dean Michael Fazzolari working out with the acclaimed Gym Professor Globe Gripz ergonomic workout tool.
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