#2. Your Training Sucks!
If you spend a third of your time in the gym socializing or checking social media, you need to readjust your priorities. It’s basic logic that how you spend your time will determine how much you get from your gym sessions.
Of course that having a couple of laughs with your gym buddies shouldn’t be a crime, but remember that the first reason why you’re there is to train as hard as possible and make maximum gains. And in that case, you need to start taking your time in the gym seriously and teach yourself to train in a way that optimizes the efficiency of the workout. Focus on the activity you’re doing. If you have trouble focusing, maybe your routine is too mundane and you need to introduce some novelty.
In modern time, bodybuilders tend to focus so much on technicalities that they forget about the basic, vital things that make muscles strong and big – such as, you know, training really, really hard. Remember the old school bodybuilders?
They didn’t even know about the term ‘metabolic stress’, yet they worked to achieve maximum of it on a daily basis, using high-volume sets and set intensity-extending techniques. Instead of wasting time on discussing complex biomechanics and multi-factorial strategies for maximizing anabolism, they actually focused on training their asses off as best they could and built physiques all of us admire to this day. This is not about obsessively glorifying the past and criticizing the present, it’s about the healthy task of learning a lesson or two from the previous generations.
You want progress? Increase the volume of work you do at every training session. A three-rep max set is undoubtedly hard, but what’s even harder is a high-rep all-out set of the same exercise. “Go big or go home” doesn’t only refer to poundage. The volume of work will determine your gains even when you’re working with the heaviest weight. Here are two intensity-extending techniques that can help jump-start your progress:
- 50% Sets – After properly warming up, take your set to complete failure. Rest for 1 minute, then do another set, this time aiming to complete at least half the reps you did on the first set.
- Rest-Pause Sets – Rest-pause training incorporates 30-second rest pauses between sets. Set a goal to increase the total number of reps on each rest-pause training session. If you get 15 reps on your first set, 10 on your second and 6 on your final one – that’s 31 in total – aim to beat 31 total reps on the next workout.
The big advantage of these two set intensity-extending techniques over all others is that they involve goal setting. This is crucial because when you have a number you want to improve upon, you get extra motivation to work harder and this will improve your focus. If you don’t have small and precise training goals to guide your sessions, you’ll be less inclined to put a lot of effort into your sets, which can make even the best-conceived routine a complete waste of time.
The fear of overtraining is another famous obstacle to muscle building these days, and unfortunately it’s making even serious lifters forget that training frequency is a crucial factor for achieving optimal hypertrophy. It has become the most popular excuse for not making gains even though this lack of progress is usually caused by goofing around the gym, taking too long rest pauses and other intensity-killers. While overtraining is a real thing, it’s very unlikely that it will happen to the average lifter.
In fact, it’s very hard to overtrain and what people believe to be overtraining is more often than not prolonged fatigue caused by lack of rest. If you eat right and sleep well, you shouldn’t experience this, regardless of your level of experience.
One last thing: start doing the exercises you hate. Although it might seem counterintuitive, if you only do the movements you enjoy doing while avoiding crucial mass-building exercises just because they are difficult and uncomfortable, you will never get where you want to be. Everybody hate squats because they are hard, but smart bodybuilders make them the cornerstone of their routine because they’re incredibly effective for building functional strength and increasing overall muscle mass.
Also, exercises are hard when the muscles involved in performing them are small and weak. If you want to continue making gains, and eventually build a well-defined and well-proportioned physique, you need to constantly challenge your body and mind, and having a nice little comfort zone built around the movements you love or have mastered will prevent you from moving forward.
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