Gym Guy: “So, I’ve been trying to increase my bench for like 5 years now and it just stays the same.  What is the best way to increase my bench?”

Me: “Well, what is your max?”

GG: “I have no idea.”

Me: “So what are you trying to increase?”

GG: “I never really thought about it.  I just want to get stronger, can you help me with that?”

Me: “Stronger in your max bench or stronger while doing sets of 8?”

GG: “Um, both I guess but I want to be able to do more in my sets.”

Me: “Have you tried to increase the weight you do each week?”

GG: “No, I just do the same weight every week.”

Me: ” If you don’t know where you are or where you are going then how do you plan to get there?”

This is a conversation that took place yesterday between myself and one of the members at Fitcorp and is not at all uncommon.  Whether the question is burning fat, losing weight, running faster or building muscle I always respond with “where are you now?” and “where do you want to go?”.

Okay, I know I sound like a Lewis Carroll quote (writer of Alice in Wonderland, c’mon guys) but these are serious questions.  In order to reach your goal you have to know what you want, where you are now and more importantly how to get there.

Once you have your instructions and roadmap, follow them until you get there.  The more detours and pitstops you take, the longer it will take you to arive at your destination right?  Training is no different.

To answer Gym Guy’s question, the first step is to figure out what you want to get your bench up to (why is a good question also but I didn’t want to open that can of worms with him).  Once you have a clear cut goal, then it is time to figure out where you are right now so for him, I would recommend finding is max.

With a clear starting point and ending point, now it is time to draw the map.  Most poeple are not experienced enough for this so that is when it is time to follow a program by an experienced trainer or strength coach.  If you know where to look you can find some great programs online or in books. 

Just remember that most of these programs were written with specifics in mind so it is important to stick to the map.  Otherwise you will end up missing key points in the program or like I see most people doing adding a ton of extra crap that will prevent you from reaching your destination.  (Remember: pitstops and detours)

Gym guy’s goal was increasing his bench but the same goes if your goal is weight loss or sports performance.  The best way to reach your goal is to stick to the map and avoid the roadblocks (missing workouts) and detours(eating junkfood).

As a strength coach, I have seen a lot of people reach their goals but I have also seen a lot of poeple fail.  The ones who succeed are the ones who have a clear map of what needs to be done and they just do it.  The ones who fail are the ones who don’t follow a map and take frequent detours.

Written by Steve