How some professional advice can move you along!
By Mike Kubas
One of the smartest trainers I ever worked with once told me, “Even trainers need trainers.” After really thinking about this, I found it to be incredibly true, in the sense that as a trainer, one will over time gravitate towards their strengths and exercises/methods they are good at and gradually neglect areas that are challenging. That is the deep-seeded “gym-bro” in myself and other trainers. Essentially doing the exercises we like and avoiding the often important, challenging, beneficial, and tedious exercises. This inevitably creates plateaus and monotony in one’s training and leads to eventual disinterest and sometimes imbalances or other issues. This is even more true for your average gym-goer who has not made their fitness their primary life goal. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with making exercise a big part of your life and gravitating towards the things you are good at. That is perfectly normal and regular exercise is vastly better than no exercise. This also holds true if you do not have any strong, clearly defined goals and just like to be in a gym. It is when the motivations and goals are substantial and are directly influenced by your training, that this type of comfort can become an impedance to getting results. If it is not presenting a challenge to you, then it will not result in any profound change.
When you are truly trying to get results, whatever they may be, it will not come easy and when they are fitness related, they will most likely require a novel stimulus. This is where abandoning your present routine and using new or different training methods can kick start your progress and get you to those goals. Those goals can be anything from losing a few pounds, adding muscle, reducing back or knee pain, or just feeling stronger! (“strength” is different for everyone). To do this efficiently, your workout plan should have focus, structure, and progressions to it. Without that, there is no way to be sure your body is making adaptations and progress from the workouts. If you have no direct goals, then your main focus should be ensuring you’re not doing more harm than good, i.e., creating imbalances by avoiding certain areas, overtraining, or injuring yourself. Here are some benefits to being fully engaged in your workout planning and structure.
These are some of the common problems I see arise amongst avid, goal-oriented gym-goers. Most of the time, the stagnation comes from falling into a routine and in a way, being too comfortable with your workout. When this happens, results and often interest tends to dip. The good news is closely monitoring your workouts and working from a structured and challenging program can greatly reduce the chances of this happening to you and can keep your gains coming well into the summer!
- Don’t Waste Your Time!
Time-wasting in the gym is a thing of the past with a solid structure to your workout plan. If you are very goal driven and you have a clearly defined focus in your training, you want to be sure all of your workouts are moving you one step closer to your goals. Altering/progressing your routine/exercises is vital to prevent your body from plateauing or becoming run down from repetitive stress. Changing the stimulus (reps/sets/rest/exercises) is crucial to ensure that you’re getting maximum benefit/adaptation from your workouts and that your time spent in the gym is as efficient and beneficial as possible. Working with a professional and “outsourcing” this area of your workout can prove to be extremely efficient and help ensure the adjustments/progressions are appropriate and beneficial.
- Believe in Bro Science!
Some of it might sound ridiculous, but often little bits of bro-science that float around gyms are grounded in actual science. For instance, an old bodybuilding myth is that you will not grow without reaching a “pump.” While this is not stone-cold fact, there is a good amount of evidence that suggests growth benefits to achieving a pump. So, in some instances, training to achieve the “pump” can provide gains! Especially if it is a novel stimulus, i.e., a technique that you haven’t utilized before and haven’t adapted to! (SCJ-D-13-00081 21..25 (bretcontreras.com))
- Pass on Plateaus
One of the most frustrating things can be when you just cannot seem to add any more weight to your lift or get one more rep than you did last week. This is a good time to dial it back some, change up your routine for a few weeks (try to increase overall volume, drop the weight, increase the set/reps). This is a different stimulus for your body and will lead to a different adaptation. The extra volume might be enough to add a bit more muscle, then when you revisit the lift, you have a better shot at moving that extra weight or grinding out that extra rep. This variance/progression in volume is usually optimally programmed into an individual’s strength training program, to maximize the adaptation by adjusting the volume going into the next training cycle. (i.e. going from 4 sets of 6 reps to 3 sets of 15 reps, or 5 sets of 8 reps)
- Don’t Get Bored
If you are a long-time gym-goer, there is a good chance you have a set workout/split that you like to do. There is also a good chance you do not deviate much from what you’re good at and strong in. Therefore, you inevitably see your weight loss slow down, or muscle growth grind to a halt. At this point, not only are you coming to a plateau, but you are also probably a bit disinterested in your workouts and they might be feeling more like a chore. These are all good signs that it is time to switch your workout up, but you need to do so in a way that won’t injure you but will promote more growth and progress. This is a great time to explore new training methods and structure.
- Lose Old Aches and Pains
Often people find themselves with the same old issues and nagging pains, unsure why their training has not improved upon the said issue. Sometimes taking a new approach to training or introducing new exercises can work to strengthen the area in a way that has not been addressed by the previous exercise program. Different isolation exercises and different ranges of motions programmed correctly can be of great benefit to trouble areas. The same goes for body parts that are lagging. If say for instance you feel your shoulders are lagging, try adding in assistance shoulder work at the end of your workouts, or perhaps back off assistance work and focus on the main pushing and pulling movements, adding overall volume to see if your muscles respond. Working with a fitness professional can help in identifying which method would be most beneficial to you and determining how to implement it appropriately.
- Maximized Recovery
You are putting in all this hard work in the gym, you want to be sure that you don’t undo it all in the kitchen and outside the gym! There is a lot of different ways you can hinder gains when not working out; from refueling poorly, not properly handling stress, or not prioritizing sleep, all these things will impact your recovery and in turn your gains. It is important to have a sound nutritional plan to fuel your workouts, as well as one to adequately recover and bounce back from your training sessions. Enlisting the help of a professional can ensure your nutrition and eating is in line with not just your goals, but your workouts as well! When everything is working in conjunction with one another (engaging workouts, proper nutrition, less stress, quality sleep), the results come even faster!
If any of this sounds like it could apply to you or your workout, let’s talk! There are countless ways to reinvigorate your workout and get yourself engaged and motivated again!
For more information on improving your progress or just to get some ideas on reaching your goals schedule your Complimentary Strategy Session and Fitness Consultation today!