One of the most bothersome things for me to see in the iron game is a trainee who makes absolutely ZERO progress in the gym.
It’s bad when you see someone and their physique looks the exact same month after month.
It’s bad when you see someone and their training numbers are the same year after year.
It’s even worse when that person who is making no progress in their fitness journey is you.
This is a very disturbing trend in the game today. Who can possibly be satisfied with going nowhere fast?
There is a way to ensure that this does not happen to you. The 3 keys you must utilize to start making real progress are:
1. Adding Weight To The Bar
Your muscles are not going to get bigger if you are not making an effort to get stronger.
Getting strong is the name of the game hence the name strength training.
Progressive overload is one of the oldest principals in the game yet it is ignored in today’s soft gym culture.
Many lifters and trainees want to do high rep sets all the time but how effective are those sets when you have no base strength to move any appreciable weight with those reps?
As you get stronger the weights will undoubtedly get heavier. When you are avoiding heavy weights out of fear then you need to evaluate yourself. Giving into fear is no way to live life.
We are not talking about maxing out every time you touch the bar. We are not talking about using a weight that you cannot handle that promotes horrendous form and getting hurt. We are talking about adding small amounts of weight to the bar over time.
Outside of warming up, there is no value in using weights during your live sets that create no challenge and require no effort.
That is taking the easy way out and the end result will be a weak physique that looks nothing like what you envision looking like.
Heavy Lifting Causes Injury?
Many folks do not lift heavy because they read an article or heard a theory that heavy lifting can lead to injury.
Look, stepping out of the shower can result in injury. So can walking down the street. So can going down the steps. So can playing with your kids.
As long as you are lifting with proper and safe form, your risk of injury will be minimal. Injuries can still happen when you do everything right but the chances are substantially less.
Injuries from lifting typically happen when:
- Your form is sloppy.
- Your mobility and flexibility is bad.
- The weights you are lifting are too heavy.
- Your recovery from your workouts, mainly your sleep, has not been optimal or even good.
Too heavy would be when you can barely do 1-2 reps with decent form. I have seen it in gyms during my whole career in the iron game and it never ends well.
If you are squatting 225lbs x 5 today and then next year you can still only squat 225lbs x 5 then you have attained no strength. There is no reason for your legs to look bigger or stronger when no progress has occurred.
Your gains in strength are not unlimited but it takes many, many years of training to know how strong you can be.
You might not want to ever squat super heavy like a powerlifter and that is fine. But if you want to maximize your physique, spend more time getting stronger.
2. Performing More Repetitions at a Given or Heavier Weight
Strength is extremely important because without getting stronger, you cannot perform more reps with a given weight.
Let’s say Donna Derriere is performing barbell hip thrusts and is stuck at 275lbs x 5. Donna has been trying for months to increase that number but it will not budge despite her efforts.
Donna then begins to focus on increasing her absolute strength. Her max hip thrust grows from 315lbs to 375lbs. When she goes back to 275lbs in the hip thrust she can now perform 10 reps. She also notices that her glutes are looking much bigger, higher, fuller, and tighter. Why?
Because she is performing more reps with 275lbs!
Donna increased her absolute strength which led to the given weight of 275lbs feeling lighter than normal. When you can perform more reps with more weight your muscles are going to become bigger.
- 225lbs x 3 turns into 225lbs x 6.
- 225lbs x 6 turns into 225lbs x 9.
- 225lbs x 9 turns into 225lbs x 12.
And then 225lbs turns into 230lbs or 235lbs and you keep moving up the progression ladder.
Do not get complacent with performing the same amount of reps with the same weight every time. Your body will also get complacent and what you see in the mirror will always be the same, non-progressing physique.
3. Perform More Work in Less Time
The greatest bodybuilding coach of all time, Vince Gironda, was big on doing more training in less time. His 8×8 training scheme is all about it!
Improving your training density or the amount of work you do in a given time will have a major impact on your physique and more importantly, your conditioning.
How does density work? Let’s say you are performing RP-21 with dips and chin-ups for the first time ever. In the first week of performing the workout, it takes you 29 minutes.
In week 2 it takes you 27 minutes. In week 3 it only takes 25 minutes. You have become more conditioned with each passing week.
Training at a faster pace is very uncomfortable for your body. It can become brutally hard and sometimes unbearable. Your heart begins to thump faster and your muscles begin to sear since you are lowering the amount of rest. You find out exactly who you are when you improve your training density.
But remember, being uncomfortable is what you need to make big-time changes with your physique. If it was easy to build a top-flight physique then everyone would be breaking necks when they walked down the street.
I want you to put a timer on your next workout. The next time you perform that workout I want you to perform at a faster pace. When you are going against the clock it will raise your sense of urgency.
Although bad workouts happen as a natural part of training hard, it never feels good to have a workout where your performance is worse than it was previously. Don’t let your performance dip because you have been dogging it like certain pro athletes AFTER they sign the big-money deal.
Focus on adding weight to the bar, performing more reps with those heavier weights, and doing more work in less time. By using these 3 keys, you will unleash your inner greatness and unlock the door to the incredible physique that you want to build.
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