The No Equipment Experience!

Make no mistake, when you're beginning, in other words, your first year or two of hard-core training, you have to follow a program- and follow it to the T.

At some point, everyone burns out. Everybody reaches a point where they just lose the same drive and motivation, among other things, that they once possessed. At this point, it's time for a break. It's often recommended to take a few days, a week, 2 weeks, or sometimes even 3 full weeks off to give your body a chance to collect itself and focus all of its energy on recuperation. For some, depending on a large number of factors such as training frequency/volume, nutritional intake, or volume of sleep, getting to this point takes a full year or two of intense training, and for others, it may only take several months. For some people, the thought of going without their daily dose of iron for a few full weeks is a thought of torture and restraint. I am one of those people. Although I really don't enjoy training (although I have my days), I still love the feeling I get afterwards, and that is something I can't go without.

In the past few weeks, for the first time since I started training, I've felt burned out. I mean, I've had those days before where I don't feel like pumpin or maybe even for a few days in a row I didn't, but nothing like this that sticks with you for over a week. I didn't know what to do. I'm in the middle of a creatine cycle, summer's almost over, and overall I'm making some good gains… Mentally: the last thing I want to do right now is take a break. Physically: I can't keep up with this…I need a break whether I like it or not. The thing is, I know I don't need a full week or anything like that, so what? A couple of days? Will that even do anything? Well, coincidentally, my vacation at my dad's was right around the corner, so before I had a chance to make up my mind as to what I was going to do, I was already there in Minneapolis.

I found out about this vacation in June, so I pretty much forgot about it knowing it wasn't coming for a few couple of months. My biggest fear of going was not being able to train. As long as I could train, I don't care what I do there. My dad is well aware of my involvement in bodybuilding so, back in June, he was quick to inform me that the apartment he lives in was planning to build an exceptional exercise facility with over $15,000 of equipment, most of which would be free weights. This was supposed to be built by mid July, so by the time I was there it would most definitely be complete. Well guess what…plans changed. They didn't even start it. This totally snapped me out of my "I don't feel like training" mode. You know how it is, you have your things you just count on having, and you take it for granted, weights for example. But the second you find out you won't have them, you want them more than anything. All I had was 2 dumbbells that could hold up to 70 pounds each, which was certainly better than nothing, but still. The night we got there, after a 13 hour drive, everybody went right to sleep, but I went straight for the dumbbells, and I pounded away at my delts and traps.

Morning brought good news, however: they did have a gym, although small, it had a universal and some cardio equipment. This was the best I could ask for, at least now I could hit my entire body with more than one exercise…well, almost entire. So I did lots of sets of the exercises that I could do, and got some decent workouts. I was there for a total of about 2 weeks, so that's 2 full weeks of pure cables, and yeah some dumbbells too. No barbells or extreme heavy work in 2 weeks… Have you ever done this? That, let me tell you, is a break in itself. By the time I got home, you wouldn't believe how ready I was to hit the free weights again.

So, my idea is this: If you are feeling burned out, bored with your routine, anything like that and you feel you need a break, restrict yourself to cables and machines and see how you feel after a few weeks. Try lasting more than two, if you're anything like me, I'd bet you can't. Every workout since I've been back has been a few levels higher than they were before I left. It's more of a mental thing than physical. Your body does get somewhat of a break, because the workouts are nowhere near as intense. For example, can you imagine training legs with only quad extensions? Now, I don't like squats very much, but man I love the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction I get after doing 5 or 6 sets of them. So here I was actually missing squats. The total change of attitude was great, and best of all, unexpected. I came into the gym with a completely different mindset. So go ahead and put this on your shelf of plateau busters, it just might come in handy some day.

Keep Pumpin'