I’m going to go in a different direction in this post and just share some of my own personal philosophies on exercise and how my views have evolved over the years.  Keep in mind that these are my own opinions and there is no right way to exercise but most times there is a better way.  Believe me, I have made many mistakes in my own training over the years and through this trial and error method I have also found better ways of doing things.  Here are a few thoughts:

  1. 10 years ago my workouts consisted of solely body-part training.  Monday was chest and tri day, Tuesday was back and bi day, Wednesday was legs day, Thursday was rest, Friday was shoulders, and Saturday was a random day(more chest).  This body-part split is good for bodybuilders but not efficient for the rest of us who lead busy lives centered around family, work, and anything that doesn’t involve spending 2 hours in the gym each day.  Yeah, this type of training will help you look good naked but at what cost?
  2. Many times, the same type of body-part split training contains too much volume.  What I mean is that by doing too much exercise you may hinder the results you want to get.  Personally, in the past few years I have found that my body responds much better to lower volume training.  Honestly, it is awesome to be able to finish a workout in less than an hour and feel good about it.  I focus my workouts on the big lifts such as squats, deadlifts, pressing, and pullups to train movements and not bodyparts.
  3. Another mistake I made was not doing any mobility work.  After doing body part training for over a decade, I began to realize how much damage I had done to my posture as well as lost much of the stability in my hips and shoulders.  Last summer was almost a reeducation of my body where I spent over 3 months laying off the weights and focusing on correcting my own posture and regaining stability.  This was hard for me as I like to lift heavy things repetitively but all in all, I learned a lot about my body and just movement in general.  I am back to lifting heavy things repetitively.
  4. I also got into Crossfit style training for a little while.  It is great for a short period of time, especially for weight loss or burning a little fat but little else.  I have never felt more drained than when I trained like this and for most people who are not in shape it will just shit kick you until you can’t move.
  5. If you are not changing your training periodically by either increasing the weight, using a different training style, changing the rep scheme, or just deloading then you may never acquire the results you want.  Our bodies get accommodated to training and stop progressing after a certain period of time.  That time may be different for each person or athlete but I like to change up my routine or load monthly or bi-monthly.
  6. If your trying to get stronger and not measuring how strong you are then what are you trying to do?  I am a strength athlete and measure my max lifts every couple of months or so.  If I am not improving then it is time to reconsider what I am doing.
  7. Find a program and stick to it.  Going to the gym without a plan will cause most people to half-ass their workouts and in turn will not reach their goals.  I have tried Jim Wendler’s 5-3-1, Eric Cressey’s Maximum Strength, and I a will be starting Show and Go next week.  These programs have been written by strength coaches and trainers whom are much smarter than I.  Long story short, I’ve been studying exercise and athletic training for many years and I am just understanding how to write a program.  Using ones that are proven to work for the average person is a great strategy to hit your goals and reach your potential.
  8. One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made and one that if I could go back in time I would definitely change would be de-loading more often.  By de-loading, I mean taking a week or so off from lifting heavy.  This doesn’t mean not doing anything at all as there are other things you can do besides lifting.  I like to use this time to focus on some mobility work and RNT neuromuscular training such as speed deadlifts.  Bodyweight squats and pushups all week baby!
  9. Bodyweight and metabolic circuits are more fun than doing cardio and more effective at “training” your body to work better.  A quick workout can be nothing more than performing 10 prisoner squats, 10 spiderman pushups, 10 single-leg romanian deadlifts, 10 lunges, and 10 burpees, resting 30-60 seconds and repeating for 3-5 sets.  This also works as a great on-the-go workout if you can’t make it to the gym or are traveling.
  10. A lot of what you read on the internet, books, and see on infomercials in regards to exercise is wrong.  I mean, I am not always right but some of the crap that is put out in the mainstream media is confusing and hurting people more than it is helping.  The best way to learn is to find the person who is the best at doing what you want to do and reading everything they write, watching everything they have on DVD and asking questions.

If you are reading this then you probably spend a lot of time at the gym, so the biggest mistake you can make is not asking questions or changing your way of thinking.  Like I have said in the past, there is no best way to train but there is always a better way.  I plan to keep evolving and learning from the best and if something I try doesn’t work, I will try something else.

Written by Steve