Steiner is definitely a fan of the repetition method when it comes to writing.
No matter . . . it all deserves repeating.
When I first began to learn about physical training, I studied the works of Bob Hoffman, Jack LaLanne, Peary Rader and Harry B. Paschall. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have discovered those particular authorities at the outset of my quest.
In my teens I had absolutely no input from any source (in school, at home or anywhere) that offered me even the slightest encouragement to achieve my goals. Had I inadvertently become the pupil - read victim - of some of the so-called experts who were then, as now, peddling their junk theories and systems, I'm sure I'd have become horribly discouraged early on, since I was a weak, small-boned, nonathletic hard gainer.
When my fascination with physical training resulted in my writing about and teaching the subject, I vowed to always give my readers and students the best I was capable of giving. I wanted to pass on the wisdom that I had received, as well as whatever insights my own experiences and research had given me.
I keep coming back to the basics - basic exercises, basic dietary considerations and basic principles. One of the most important of those basic principles is this one:
Train very hard - but not too much.
Over the course of a typical year I receive at least one letter a month from a genuinely baffled trainee who, in essence, says, "I work out as hard as I can, and I train my entire body. I am in the gym religiously three or four times a week, and my workouts sometimes last for three hours or more. Yet my physique never improves. I'm getting weaker, not stronger, and I'm tired and discouraged. Can you help me?"
Too often an enthusiastic trainee confuses the need to work hard and regularly with training a lot. Any trainees who are in the gym for three hours straight must be doing too much. If they were doing the right amount of training and no more, their workouts would be 60 to 90 minutes long.
If you aren't as strong and well built as you want to be and you've been working out for while, there's a great probability that you're doing too much training but not training anywhere hard enough. Peary Rader once pointed out that doing a lot of training was like doing day labor. It's not an effective way to develop maximum size and strength. Training is different from physical work. Bricklayers and warehouse workers, while often stronger than the average man, do not develop the kind of physique and power that those who train properly with weights eventually develop.
Evaluate yourself according to the following checklist:
Does a typical workout leave you tired for more than a few hours after training? It should not. You should feel exhilarated within an hour or two of a good workout. Exhaustion means overwork.
Do you hold back on the big exercises - the squat, deadlift, standing press and so on - so you'll have energy enough to do more? Wrong move! Drop the little stuff and put all your work into the basic movements. You'll get better results.
Do you do more than three 8-rep sets? If so, you couldn't be working hard enough. Two or three sets work sets are the maximum if you're really working hard.
Do you limit your effort so you can achieve the greatest pump by doing lots of sets and relatively high reps? If you do, your gains are illusory. You want thickened muscle fibers, not tissue inflation.
Do your training cycles leave you beat and stale rather than stronger? If so, you're grinding yourself into the ground. You'll need two or three week layoffs to recover. You should peak at a nice level of condition and strength at the end of a cycle.
Do you try to train all you can rather than in proportion to what your experience has taught is most productive? If so, you're wasting time and energy.
Do you find yourself cheating a lot in order to handle more and more weight? That's overtraining. Cheating is okay maybe once every three or four weeks, but you will nearly always progress best if you work the muscles through their fullest range of movement with good, strict form. The fact that you're using lighter weights doesn't mean you'll fail to develop; by training strictly, you ensure that your muscles are working harder.
If you train your whole body at one session, do you spend longer than 60 to 90 minutes? If you split your training does a workout take more than an hour? If so, you're doing too much in terms of time and not enough in terms of effort. Train harder and briefer.
Boxers provide an excellent example of how to train. They carefully limit their workouts to avoid anything resembling overwork, and they build up through a progressive cycle leading to a bout. Then, before the match, they do not train t all for a day or two. Good trainers insist on a boxer's being in peak condition before he enters the ring. If he's drained and overworked, he will not be prepared to fight. It's not exactly the same in weight training, but the principle is similar.
Presumably, you are gainfully employed. Your job provides a day's work. When you go to the gym, it's time to train. Training is not working. The only thing overtime will get you is failure.
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