I am going to cut right to the chase, my training sucked last year! (2015) Well the second part of the year was awful, I badly injured my rotary cuff muscle, which is a nasty injury. It takes a while to recover from and it still affects me to this day.
But all pushing moves were out of the question. I literally did no chest work for a good 4 months. I was in turmoil, I had got to that stage where I was just going into the gym and doing what I felt like, which is not a good idea if you want the best possible results.
I had lost focus, I did not have a plan and like I said my training was awful!
But as soon as I recovered, I re discovered my mojo, I set myself a clear goal and a clear path in the gym.
In this blog I will share with you the 5 things that I did to turn my training from awful to amazing!
Have a clear plan and goal.
I started with the goal, why was I going to the gym?
Now I have always worked out and gone to the gym since I was 20 and that is 9 years now, but I haven’t always gone for the right reasons. In my earlier years I went to the gym to impress girls and look better for them nights out clubbing, which is perfectly fine! But at my age I needed a bigger why, a bigger purpose on why I was hitting the gym.
There are 2 main goals I set for myself.
I want to be the best possible coach I can be, I want to learn as much as I possibly can so I can help others get results they want in the gym without all the BS and hear say. For that to happen I need to be constantly practicing what I am preaching, I need to learn and then action these points. This year I have become a bit of a muscle geek and I am fascinated on how we can build muscle naturally.
I have decided to compete in natural bodybuilding in 2017. Since a young age I have always played sport and I think the one thing you can miss out on, working out in the gym is that competitive streak. Now I have no idea, how good I will be at it. But I want to prove to myself that I can do it, by following all of the solid scientific principles I know instead of living off fish and rice cakes. As long as I put 100% into the process I will be happy with the outcome.
So every time I go to the gym, these 2 goals are on my mind. Just by writing them in this blog it has re enforced them again.
So my training is always geared towards achieving these two goals, every session and every training program serves a purpose and this has help with being consistent and turning up to every session.
My advice to you is write down some very clear and specific goals, so you always have something to aim for when you hit the gym.
If you want to talk about your fitness goals for 2017 click HERE
By having clear goals and a clear why you are setting yourself up for a big win in the long term.
2. Do more “smarter” work
Let’s be honest if you want to get really really good at something you need to do more of it, up to a certain point. I mean look at Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, they are the two best footballer's in the whole world at the moment and I guarantee you they are the ones that stayed behind after training, they are the ones that put the extra hours in the gym.
This is the same with building muscle, if you really want to get the best possible results, you will have to do more reps, more sets and lift more total weight. This is even more the case when you have a few good years of proper resistance training under your belt. I mean a beginner can basically look at a barbell and grow. But if you have been in the gym a good few years now and been involved in proper resistance training the standard 3 sets of 10 may not cut it anymore.
Remember your body does not want you to grow muscle, it is more than happy to stay the same, so we have to provide the right stress in the gym and allow it to adapt.
Now before you all rush to the gym and start banging out 50 straights sets on your chest right away, you need to hold your horses. Noticed how I said smarter work, we cannot just go into the weights room and engage beast mode and train until will feel sick because this is unsustainable and you will not progress in the long term.
You need to be smart, you want to gradually build up the amount of work you do as the week progress.
The analogy I use here is that you do not want to blow your load too early!
So the first week of your training you do not want to go in and do EVERYTHING! Because fatigue will build up very quickly over time and if you always go balls to the wall every single week, your fatigue levels will quickly surpass your performance levels and your training will end up being awful.
Below is now how I structure my training program, week to week.
I normally focus on RPE scale so week one, I will stay completely away from failure and build it up, come week 4 I am going very close to failure and going to failure on isolation exercises. In addition to this I am always looking to add extra sets, as long as I am recovered, so week 1 I could be only doing 3 sets of an exercise, but come week 4 I could be doing 6 or 7 sets. So I am always looking at giving the body a reason to adapt and build more muscle. Come the end of week 4 my fatigue levels would of built up soo much that it is time for a deload, which is my next point.
3. Take regular deloads
Now if someone would of mentioned deloads to me a few years ago, I would of thought that they were speaking some sort of foreign language. So you mean to tell me that I can do less in the gym and it will bring me better long term results? Doesn’t quite make sense does it.
But I can honestly say that taking regular deloads this training year has been a complete game changer for me!
First let me explain what a deload is. A deload is a period of time normally a week’s worth of training where you bring volume or intensity down or both. So say you normally do 4 sets of each exercise, in the deload week you would only do 2.
Now the purpose of the deload week is to bring your fatigue levels right back down to baseline levels.
You see every time we work out and hit the gym we created two things, fitness and fatigue. Fitness is what we want to happen, so if you want to put on muscle and get stronger your fitness would be how jacked you get and how strong you get and both of these should go up if you’re following sensible training programs.
But what also goes up every time you work out is your fatigue levels, they will rise whether you like it or not. Now how much they rise depends on your training, which is why going beast mode every single session is not a good idea, because this will lead to your fatigue levels rising very quickly! That is why I structure my training the way I do because it allows me to manage fatigue and it rises gradually.
If you keep on training, keep on smashing the weights week after week, month after month, there will come a time where your fatigue will surpass your fitness levels and this is when you have a problem. When this happens no matter how much extra training you throw at yourself you will stop making progress, your fatigue levels are soo high now that it will make further gainz extremely difficult.
That is why taking a deload every 5th or 6th week of training is a great idea. It allows you to always stay in control of your fatigue levels. Think of it this way that deload week is setting you up for future wins. At the end of that week, you feel fresh, your motivation is sky high and you cannot wait to hit the gym for another 4 weeks of hard training.
Doing this has allowed me to have productive training, every single month, instead of dragging myself to the squat rack because I haven’t taken a break in 16 weeks!
Start programming in regular deloads into your training and watch the gainz come!
4. Learn and Apply
I have heavily invested this year in my own knowledge and made a big commitment in becoming the best possible coach I can be. I may have mentioned this before, but I do not have the best genetics for building muscle or for getting involved in natural bodybuilding. But what this has forced me to do is to learn as much as I can about building muscle, I have become fascinated with how an individual can build the most amount of muscle for them.
You see because of my natural genetics if I just went into the gym without a plan and just did what I felt like, my progress and results would suck! My own individual circumstances have forced me to learn and become the best possible coach for all of our clients. I am going to use another football analogy now. But if you look at all of the top managers in the premiership right now, none of them were world class players themselves, don’t get me wrong they were good players but not world class. But they have learned and studied the game religiously and that has allowed them to become world class coaches and that is what I plan on doing.
But is no good just learning this information and not doing anything with it. Everything that I have learned regarding training and nutrition this year I have put into my own training and have also programmed into my clients plans.
Everything that I have mentioned above I read and learned about for many hours, I have then acted on this information by putting it into my own training and clients training and allowing it time to work. Safe to say that it has improved the quality of training by increasing the amount work that I do in the gym but at the same time managing fatigue levels and keeping myself injury free, which allows the majority of my training weeks to be dream and they are all geared towards those two goals I mentioned at the start of this blog.
5. Ask for help
I believe one of the main issues that people get when going to the gym is that they are afraid to ask for help. I was exactly the same for years and years, I thought that all you had to do was lift heavy weights in the gym and smash yourself into the ground every session and results and progress would follow. How wrong I was! There is a lot more to building muscle and strength if you want to be in it for the long term and see results for the long term.
At the end of 2015 I was a bit lost with my training, my injuries had sucked the motivation out of me, and I didn’t really know what to do and how to get back on track. I made it my mission in 2016 to learn as much as I could, but there also came a point where I needed to ask for help if I really wanted to take my results further and at the same time learn more about training and programming. Enter Mr. Steve Hall, I had followed Steve’s work closely and was always on the lookout for his content and read every one of his articles. I reached out to Steve halfway through the year and offered to write an article for him, which we came up with a 2 part special on how you can get shredded which you can read here: part 1, part2.
I then did one of Steve’s online group training program's which was awesome, it was great to be part of a group where everybody was looking to get shredded. During this whole process I was speaking to Steve via social media learning more from him and always reading and listening to his podcasts. Another game changer was when Steve struck up a dream relationship with Dr Mike Israetel, Dr Mike is an extremely intelligent guy and I mean REALLY intelligent! He is a professor at Temple University in the states teaching exercise science he also practices what he preaches, he is a competitive bodybuilder and powerlifter and a Brazilian jiu jitsu grappler. So in other words he is jacked, strong as hell and he can hurt you lol. But the content that both Dr Mike and Steve were putting out on his podcast was unbelievable I had never heard this stuff and I started to put it into action.
You can probably see a pattern forming here, I see Steve as my mentor I can’t speak for Steve personally but I would have thought he sees Dr Mike as his mentor.
The last 3 months I have been working with Steve more closely he designs all my training, I speak with him in great length about training and how we can improve month to month. The last 3 months of training working with Steve have been so productive, training is awesome and there is always a clear goal and structure in place. I know exactly what I am doing and why I am doing it.
Going into 2017 I will be working with Steve even more as we work together to try and bring the best possible results into the sport of natural bodybuilding, so watch this space as I will be documenting how I prepare for a natural bodybuilding show.
Asking for help, hiring a coach, finding a mentor I believe is the biggest and most beneficial thing you can do if you are serious about your results. It takes all the stress and second guessing out of the process, you trust your coach and you trust the process and you watch the results and progression come.
So even though I had been training a good few years before 2016, I really see this year as a breakthrough year for myself when it comes to training. I am extremely excited to see what results I can continue to get with these principles as I enter my 30s next year!
The amazing thing about weight training is no matter what you have done in the past, how long you have trained for, injuries, genetics etc etc there is always room to learn more and improve your training to ensure results keep coming.
I am pretty sure that if you can include these 5 things into your training in 2017 you will have an amazing year of training and see some dream progress!
If you would like to chat about your training goals for 2017 in more depth, we would be more than happy to chat to you about how we can help you make 2017 a dream training year!