Monday, December 8, 2014

LRB - 20 things

I've had a string of posts on the LRB Facebook page (found here - ) regarding some simple guidelines about everything from getting bigger or stronger, to client/trainer relationships.

This is not a reprint of those, but more of a present narrative of simple principles you can use throughout your lifting life.

  1. HIIT vs steady state - Throw out the research for a minute and remember that conditioning is for heart health, and overall well being.  When you're in shape, you feel awesome.  And feeling awesome, is awesome.  Yes, they can both help you get leaner, but abs are made in the kitchen.
  2. You really can't out train a shitty diet - Not only that, why would you want to?  Eat like a champion would, and you'll get closer to looking like a champion.  Best of all, you'll feel like a champion.
  3. Sleep is your most natural restorative process - Make sure it's just as big of a priority as your training, dieting, and programming.  
  4. Your lifting should primarily be made up of barbell and dumbbell work - Machines can have a place but free weights offer more training economy.  
  5. Unless you are missing both legs, you should be squatting - Not much else to say here.  Stop making excuses and get a barbell on your back.  
  6. There's no such thing as an inherently dangerous movement - All movements are dangerous when performed improperly.  This doesn't apply to movements done on uneven surfaces.  You should never be standing on swiss balls to strength train.  If you're a circus clown...ok.
  7. Give every program a fair chance - Program hopping is the best way to find out that there isn't a simple program out there that works for you.  If you're going to give a program a try, give it an honest one.  6 weeks minimum.
  8. You can't stay lean and get huge - This doesn't mean you need to turn into Mr. 40" waist either.  But if you're holding on to a very low degree of bodyfat and won't give that up, don't expect muscle to pile on either.
  9. Do an equal amount of pulling work for your push work - If you are doing a total of 100 reps of pushing work in the training week, then you should be doing at least 100 reps of pulling work in that week as well.  It's important to keep muscular balance between antagonist groups to avoid injury and weak support muscle groups.  
  10. Work towards performance goals to fulfill physique goals - If you want a bigger back, improve your chin ups.  If you want bigger legs improve your squats.  If you want bigger arms, set goals to press and curl more.  If you increase the performance ability the physique improvement will come.
  11. Learn the difference in moving weight, and making muscles work - Moving weight means making the body work in a synergistic fashion to move the barbell through space.  Making the muscles work means you are cognizant of making certain muscle groups stretch and contract against the resistance.  They both have their place and are important.  Use them appropriately. 
  12. Be open to constructive criticism - Learn the difference in destructive criticism and constructive criticism.  One is there to be ignored and one is there to make you better.  Don't dismiss ideas, concepts, and arguments because of dogmatism and short sightedness.  
  13. Don't try to ride two horses with one ass - Trying to be good at a whole bunch of things at once is called Crossfit.  If you're more interested in getting stronger and growing more muscle mass as the main goals, narrow down your training to meet those goals.  Trying to get good at 17 different things means you will probably be about average at each.  Narrowing it down to 3 things means you have a much better shot at becoming great at those.
  14. Don't fret bad training sessions - It's going to happen.  Remind yourself of this fact.  A bad training session here and there is usually an indicator that progress is being made, because your body is downregulating performance.  Progress isn't always linear.  If progress has been oncoming and steady, then eventually you will overreach on the recovery curve (fatigue now outweighs recovery).  Your body is smarter than you are.  When you feel weaker than usual, and everything feels awful....LISTEN.  Pushing through one of those sessions is a recipe to get injured.   
  15. 80/10/10 - In regards to #14, remember that 80% of the session you perform will be run of the mill, "get the work in" type training.  10% will suck, and 10% will be awesome.  Believe it or not, those 80% sessions are the most important.  Those are the building blocks that create a base of strength and performance.  Don't get too elated about the awesome ones, and don't let the bad ones think you suck.  
  16. Set realistic goals - If you just squatted 405 for the first time, don't set a goal to squat 450 in the next six months.  Set a realistic goal in a realistic time frame that will give feedback that your training is on point.  Adding 5 pounds, just five pounds, every 6 weeks to a lift means you would have increased that lift by roughly 40 pounds in a year.  That's a massive gain in a year by just concentrating on the small goals.  
  17. Enjoy your time off - When life calls, listen.  Lifting should be what you do, not who you are.  Break your diet on special occasions.  Take time off from the gym for holidays and vacations.  A better quality of life generally means better training.  Don't deprive yourself of enjoying life because of the barbell.  The weights will be there waiting for you when you get back.  Life is fleeting.  Enjoy it.
  18. Don't get complacent - The best thing you can do to ensure that your progress dies is to be too satisfied with what you have accomplished.  If you don't desire to be any better and are happy with where you are at, then you have no worries.  Because you won't improve or get better.  But if you're not happy with where you are at, and progress has stalled for a long time, ask yourself if you've simply been complacent because of prior achievements.  Lots of times people get very happy with success, and then have trouble achieving more.  If training and progress have been in the shitter, take a long and honest look at the work you've been putting in and ask yourself if it's really been enough.  
  19. Believe in yourself - This is paramount if you are to overcome the many hurdles you will encounter in training.  If you don't believe you can do something, you won't.  The very start of getting past a plateau is finding the ability to summon up enough self belief, and eradicating self doubt, so that in your mind it becomes possible.  Achievable.  "Whatever I think about all day, I become."  Don't think about becoming a failure, or you will be one.  Think about becoming a bad ass Viking stud muffin or Warrior Goddess.  No, you won't become one, because it's metaphorical.  But you get what I'm saying......
  20. Learn to be patient - This one can be very hard.  But this is a lifetime journey.  Not "6 weeks to a bikini/beach body."  As the saying goes, Rome wasn't built in a day.  Enjoy the struggles as they will teach you more than your victories.  Then savor your victories and rise up for the next challenge.  
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