Ever wonder why some guys keep growing every year while others seem to take one step forward and two steps back? The key to making continuous gains is not found in a supplement, a routine or a drug. It's a matter of following a basic set of common sense steps that help keep you on track.
Let's walk through them one by one. It's not rocket science, and you've probably heard some of this before, but put it all together and stay the course, and you're guaranteed to get results.
Step 1: Don't Get Injured:
This would seem to be a no-brainer. If you tear a muscle, you won't be able to train it properly. Worse yet, you may have to stay out of the gym for a month to let it heal, which will cause you to regress considerably.
The good news is that it is relatively easy to regain lost mass, but that's where many guys repeat their mistake. They either start training again before the injury is fully healed, or they pick up with the same weight they used before. Either way, you're back to square one in a jiffy.
The remedy is simple enough: Check your ego at the door, focus on good form, and listen to your body. Don't jerk or bounce the weights. One-rep-max attempts should be done very sparingly, if at all. If your joints are aching, it may be a good idea to cut them some slack.
It's the same old litany you've heard before, yet a large percentage of lifters, especially young ones, seem hell-bent on getting themselves a nice ligament tear. Training smart is more important than lifting heavy.
Step 2: Use What Works for You:
The magazines are littered with workout routines, fads and specific exercises that this or that professional bodybuilder swears by. Well, guess what? If squatting hurts your lower back, it is totally irrelevant that a pro gets excellent results from squats. There will always be those who don't benefit from certain exercises.
Some typical examples besides squats: barbell curls done with a straight bar, which kills some people's wrists, and behind-the-neck pulldowns, which force those with stiff shoulders to hunch over and take a large part of the load off the lats. While dips can be a boon to triceps development for some, for others the movement only seems to hit their pecs and delts.
You probably know a few exercises that just don't feel right, even though you use textbook form. Either they hurt in a negative way (as opposed to the positive pain you get from exhaustion), or you may not feel anything at all in the target muscle. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with you-the exercise just isn't working for you.
Get the full article in the September edition of Iron Man Magazine. Complete article contains all seven tips.
Editor's note: Matt Danielsson became an IFBB-certified personal trainer in 1998 and then ran a personal-training business, Pro PT, prior to moving to California in 1999. For more of his articles, visit Bodybuilding.com. IM