Simply put there are two very basic types of training sessions. There are ‘gainers’ where we make genuine progress and there are ‘maintainers’ where we don’t.
Logic dictates that if we are to make the most of our time in the gym we must pro-actively seek to minimise the training sessions that fall into the second category of maintenance.
Most of us are aware of such workouts when for whatever reason (lack of sleep, busy day in the office, a ‘heavy weekend’ etc) we are not at our best and are merely going through the motions in order to avoid moving backwards.
But did you know the potential damage your inflicting on your progress by constantly going through the same work-outs, for the same body parts week in, week out?
By nature we are ‘creatures of adaption,’ we adapt to our surroundings and lifestyles very easily – just give 2 minutes thought to the appearance of the proverbial ‘couch potato’ and you’ll realise just how much our physiques reflect our approach to exercise! This is actually not a criticism by the way, far from it; in fact it’s without question ensured the survival of our species! But nevertheless our remarkable ability to adjust somewhat ‘fly’s in the face’ of the entire ethos of making continual progress in the gym. Allow me to explain, moving forward with your training can only be achieved by repeatedly taking yourself out of the comfort zone and literally forcing the body to adapt.
Again most of us have at some point found ourselves in a ‘bit of a rut’ with our training and may have only made slight adjustments in terms of increasing the resistance. This however is not enough to ensure maximum progress. Be honest are your muscle always sore in the morning after? If so, good – this is a testament to the fact you’ve stimulated the fibres enough to ensure a potential platform for growth. If not, then please forgive me but aside from burning up a few calories your muscles have adapted to your training regime and in terms of progress, well you’re not making any.
So, what do I mean when recommending that we should never have the same work-out twice? Well, I’m not merely suggesting that we should add a little more weight. I’m putting forward the idea that we take an entirely different approach to our training.
My point is we should never fail in our attempt to keep the ‘body guessing.’ This means being prepared to learn new exercises, to build up a solid understanding of up to 10 different movements per muscle group and then selecting a 3-4 which differ somewhat from last time around. Seek to utilise pre-exhaustion, as previously mentioned. Why not try incorporating various training intensity techniques (more about this next week)? Do whatever it takes in order to move forward – be open to suggestion, be prepared to further your training education. Some weeks prioritise heavy compound exercises, others concentrate more on isolating movements. Continuously alternate between dumbbells, barbells, pulleys and other machinery. The only things your workouts should have in common from week to week is perfect technique, adequate intensity and muscle over-load.
If you’re worried about compromising your strength, don’t be. Once or twice a month, start on a heavy squat, flat bench, dead-lifts etc and monitor your strength so you still have those all important reference points. Not only am I convinced that you’ll begin to progress again just like when you started out but the addition of new exercises and fresh impetus will do you, your training and your body the world of good!