There are times and places in life when you can benefit from being an outlaw. Prohibition may have been such a time, but the time you spend in the weight room is not. If you want to build a leaner, stronger, cover-model body, you better obey these laws.
1 Check Your Pride
Pride is your biggest enemy in the gym. If you don't check your pride at the door, forget about growing that day, or any day. Pride allows your worst nightmares to come true; it allows your workout to be influenced by others.
Pride will cause you to lift to impress: You throw up more weight than you can handle, you lose correct form and, more often than not, suffer injury. Pride coerces you to lift heavy weight to prove something to someone. The resulting injurious fall takes you out of the gym for a month or more while your body heals.
The fastest path to growth and strength increases comes only through perfect form, which usually entails lighter weight. Growth isn't gained from the weight lifted. It is earned from the muscle burned.
2 The "Level of Respect"
We hit the gym with limitations and established parameters of strength and conditioning based on our current fitness levels. In order to improve conditioning and strength, we must push our bodies beyond failure. When we lay down to press, for example, and we stop at eight reps when we might have been able to get 10 or 12, we are not doing justice to our potential.
The speed at which we transform our bodies is controlled by our mindset in the gym. The weight room might be the only fair, non-subjective theater left; the gains we make or do not make directly correlate to our work. The mind drives success and the speed at which we achieve it.
If we stop at eight reps, when we might have been able to get 10 or 12, we fail to seize the moment and ultimately fail to train at the "level of respect."
Going to the "level of respect" is a term that means: Leave it all in the gym, with no regrets. When you walk out of the gym every day, you are proud of your work and the strides you made. You leave with self-respect and third-party respect for anyone who watched you work out. Going to the "level of respect" every workout will turn your dreams into reality.
A transformed body is the culmination of blood, sweat and tears. These expelled liquids reveal a victory in the crucible of work ethic, dedication and sacrifice.
Failure is your friend in the gym; it's an immediate report card of where you have been and currently are. When you hit failure during a set, a smile should curl your corners, because you just broke your current limitations and took a step toward growth. Failure rewards you with growth!
3 Value Today
Most people fail to transform and continue training because they don't have an end-goal in mind.
When we get into our cars, we intend to drive to a final destination. Yet even exercise-minded people often forget to hit the gym with a goal.
Without goals, we travel toward an unknown future. Training blindly leads to procrastination and a lack of motivation. Goal-lacking bums will push today's training routine to tomorrow because they don't value today.
Value is accrued by time: If your final destination is a contest/vacation/wedding/Wednesday in 90 days, then today is one of the 90 opportunities critical to the success of your journey.
If you don't have a future goal, then today doesn't have any time value and your workout can easily be forgotten for a party, a movie, or a dinner out. If the event you train for is 90 days down the calendar, each day has time value.
4 The Ideal Body Equation
The ideal body is the sum of four equal parts. If you neglect any aspect of the ideal body equation, your physique will never mature. If you drop one component of the equation, your goals will never add up.
Aerobic Conditioning + Anaerobic Strength + Nutrition + Rest = The Ideal Body
If you do not focus on conditioning, you sacrifice your health and an opportunity to move blood and oxygen to your muscles. If you do not strain your muscles consistently by lifting, your muscles will not grow!
If you do not feed your muscles with proper nutrition, they will not grow! If you do not rest, your body will not repair itself and your muscles will not grow!
5 The Heartbeat of Fat Loss
Your heart rate influences what your body breaks down for energy to sustain activity. If your heart rate goes too high for too long, your body might use muscle instead of fat for energy.
When your heart rate is sustained at a lower rate, you body is able to break down fat fast enough to provide the energy to sustain your exercise activity.
The heart rate level at which the fat/muscle switch flips is dependent on a person's level of aerobic shape, but most agree that 65% of your maximum BPM is the trigger point.
If you want burn fat, drop your BPM to 65% or lower and sustain that activity for 45 minutes to one hour, 3 times per week. It will no longer be a matter of "if," but "when" your hard work is rewarded in the mirror.
6 Split Lifting
I have a 5-day split that works one body part per day and the entire body over a 5-day period.
My split is: chest, back, shoulders, arms, legs. I hit my abs at the end of each workout for 10-to-15 minutes.
There are 3 major abdominal regions; I focus on one region each day. If I focus on the lower abdominal region, I do 10-to-15 minutes of leg raises, flutter kicks, ankles to the bar, rocky leg wipers, etc.
I do one set of 30-to-50 reps per exercise and then bounce to another one immediately and continue to exchange exercises after each set for 10-to-15 minutes.
My 5-day split doesn't reflect the days of the week. After the 5th day, I revert to the first workout again without a day off. Given that I have 4 days between each muscle group, I don't schedule a day off.
Given the nature of work and the hectic lifestyles we lead, there is always a challenge each week that prevents me from getting to the gym, so that is my day off. I never allow for two consecutive off days, however.
7 Training Time
I get to the gym at 5:30 a.m. to train each day because I know I always have that time free. Rarely does something prevent me from sticking to that schedule. At first, my body was sleepy; after a few weeks, my body thirsted for the early workout.
After leaving the gym for work, I felt faster, quicker and more mentally alert than any of my co-workers. I was running laps around them before anyone knew what hit them. This works for me. I'd actually prefer to lift in the evenings.
However, since I can't always find time for a nighttime lift, I lean toward a consistent time period.
8 Consistent Change
I change my workout every time I work out. Don't think this a huge task. Changing your workout is simple. Keep your body guessing and don't let it sync with your training routine.
If your body begins to figure out your pattern, it will find a more efficient way to move through the workout. Adaptation is a miracle of the human body, but it defeats our goal of getting stronger.
Your body grows when it's forced to adapt to new challenges. Your body gets stronger to overcome these new challenges.
Changing your workout is as simple as switching the routine, or doing dumbbells instead of barbells, or hammer strength and machines instead of free weight, or taking a day and doing only body weight.
Mix up variables like weights and rest. Do the same routine, but go for heavy (reps around 6-to-8), then do the next workout with the same routine but go light (reps around 18-to-20). It makes training more enjoyable and interesting, and it keeps you growing.
I shoot for 3 cardio sessions per week, but some weeks, I perform 5 sessions. Swimming is my cardio of choice. It builds muscle endurance and helps striate your muscles. I usually do cardio at night before I go to bed to ensure I burn off any food in my stomach.
If you are trying to grow and put on mass, you can still do cardio at night, but ensure you eat a high-protein meal before bed or drink a protein shake.
I take all my concerns, stresses, and worries and upload them in my head. Then, at the end of the day, I run the streets around my house and work through the worries. I plan the next day's missions; I play out what I want to happen.
Whenever I have a problem, I find that doing cardio while contemplating the problem provides quicker solutions than sitting in a chair. Exercise strengthens your mind.
The "Open" spot is room for anything I missed that week, or anything that needs extra love. I hit abs at the end of each workout except on back day.
Calves, much like abs, can be worked almost daily. If your calves need extra love, start throwing them in on days other than your leg workout.