What I wish I knew 10 years ago in the gym.
Half the time when I'm coming up with content, I put myself back in the shoes of my 18 year old self.
Fresh with all sorts of ambitions to get jacked/strong but without the know how.
Here's a few things that would help.
1) Learn periodisation.
Periodisation is basically intelligently manipulating training variables to produce better long term results.
This whole topic is a minefield which goes beyond the scope of this thread.
But let me give you some useful info about how we can do it.
The main levers we can pull in the gym with our training is intensity, volume and frequency.
Only 2 of these can be high at once or we run the risk of fucking ourselves up.
Now there's many different models that we use to manipulate these training variables.
Let's talk about good old fashioned linear periodisation.
You'll basically start the training block off with higher volumes/lower intensity and progress through to lower volumes/higher intensities.
Week 1 - 3x10
Week 3 - 3x8
Week 5 - 3x6
Week 7 - 3x4
Week 10 - 3x2
Then we have block periodisation.
Over the course of a 12-16 week block for example, each 4-6 week block will be split up into training for a specific adaptation.
That could be hypertrophy, strength, or peaking for example.
Basically each phase will build on top of another.
Then we have undulating periodisation.
This is where you can manipulate volume/intensity in a given week or week to week to work on specific adaptations...having heavier and lighter days for example.
Monday - 3x10
Wednesday - 3x7
Friday - 3x3
Then finally we have the Conjugate system which was popularised by the late Louie Simmons.
Where you're gonna train for multiple different adaptations throughout the week with a dynamic "speed day" and a max effort "strength day"
Also uses a wide variety of exercise rotations.
These are the 4 main methods.
You'll find that a lot of good programs probably have an element of all of these combined.
Study and understand each one of them and you'll set yourself up for success.
2) Stimulus, Recovery, Adaptation.
The SRA curve is the process that underpins everything to do with training.
Take one of these away and nothing productive is gonna happen.
Understand this and you'll understand the whole process of what we're doing in and out of the gym.
The stimulus is the actual training session itself and where we present a novel stimulus to the body (Something it isn't used to)
Then with an adequate supply of nutrition, sleep, rest etc, the body will recover from the training stress.
The body will then make the adaptation.
The body makes the adaptation to come back stronger so it won't be "caught off guard" again by something it isn't used to.
But that's exactly why we keep "overloading" so the body is forced to go through the SRA cycle again.
Do this for years to get big and strong.
3) Quality > Quantity.
More sets/total work doesn't equal more growth.
We need to hit a certain threshold per session to stimulate any sort of gains.
This seems to be anywhere from 3-10 sets per muscle group in a workout.
No point doing more sets for the sake of it.
Let's take two chest training examples below.
First one on the left is what a lot of people might do.
They can do this many sets as the intensity is low and they're not training close enough to failure.
On the right, intensity is there in that 0-2 reps in reserve mark.
Again this is just an example and not set in stone.
The amount of volume will vary from person to person.
But the main theme is that you don't need as much work if your intensity/set quality is on point in the gym.
Too many people just fucking around with low quality work.
4) Prioritise carbs pre workout.
Years ago, I never had a clue about nutrition.
I used to eat bacon, sausage and egg sandwiches before training...no wonder I felt sluggish/nauseous.
Too much fat/protein content which took too long to digest.
I perform better with a higher carb, moderate protein, lower fat meal before training.
Higher carbs for the fuel for when I need it most, some protein to promote protein synthesis, and a small dose of fat (10-20g) to slow down the absorption a little to avoid crashing.
Ideal carb sources?
Things that can digest quickly and avoid bloating.
Intra workout carbs...even something as small as 20-30g of carbs coming from dextrose/maltodextrin/cane sugar etc.
Can help maintain maximum performance.
5) Machines are elite for hypertrophy.
There was a time I used to think machines were a waste of time.
“Not hardcore enough" and "machines do all the work for you"
I was young and fucking dumb...how wrong I was.
But you live and learn as they say.
But why are machines so useful?
Basically you’re locked into a fixed position.
You don’t have to worry about stabilising the weight, the body detects this and you can focus solely on the target muscle.
And when hypertrophy is the goal?
This is exactly what you want.
You’ve also got the increased stimulus to fatigue ratio that comes from a lot of machines.
Basically means you can get a great stimulus on the target muscles, without any of the extra systemic fatigue/joint stress that other movements can bring.
Game changer over the long run.
This doesn’t mean you completely avoid free weights, far from it.
I’ll always be a big proponent of the big basics for building a solid physique.
Just know that machines have their place.
Some of my favourite machines?
-A good leg press
-Chest supported rows
-Converging chest press machines
-Shoulder press machine
Just to name a few.
Again, just dropping some knowledge on the important stuff I wish I knew when I first started.
Coming from real training experience and time in the trenches.
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