In a previous article, I mentioned that I am the manager of a fitness center for an aerospace company. I have been working in this position for over twenty years, and it has given me the opportunity to see how people train -- or don't train. In assisting those that ask for my help I have been able to form an impression of why some people make improvement and why some make little or none.
For example, two men requested my assistance in their weight lifting programs. One man wanted to increase his bench press and the other man wanted a complete exercise program for increasing size and strength. Over the weeks, the man who wanted the bench press improvement made weekly progress, while the other man would come to the gym with little enthusiasm and seemed to lose sight of why he was there.
For the fellow with the bench press program, I reduced the number of upper body exercises and reduced the sets of the remaining exercises. This shortened the amount of time he worked out, boosted his energy level and ability to recuperate, and allowed him to focus much better on what he needed to do, and to get it done.
For the second fellow, I made similar changes to his program, and he chose to add various other activities, including a couple of days a week playing soccer (for cardio), partying and drinking liberal amounts of alcohol on weekends, and basically sabotaging himself and my efforts to help him. In observing his workouts, they are filled with plenty of socializing and talking. As a result, his workouts are too long, and they lose their meaning and their effectiveness -- truly an exercise in futility.
Having trained for the past forty years in my garage gym has taught me that the most effective way to train is when you are focused on a limited number of exercises per workout.
The most effective way to train is when you are focused on a limited number of exercises per workout.
Most peoples' attention span begins to drop off after less than an hour. To expect to have a long list of exercises and to put in the effort that is necessary to handle the poundage to get stronger is not realistic.
Time consuming lifting programs are not conducive to building strength. Several years ago, I had a conversation with a well known powerlifter about his exercise program. He revealed that he trained three days a week. When I asked him about writing a book detailing his training, his response was, "Nobody would believe me if I wrote about it." What is interesting here is that every exercise program that I have seen of his in print has him training five days a week!
Have you lost focus? Are your workouts boring and unproductive? It is easier to get comfortable on the couch and watch the latest TV shows. Are you about to give up training due to a lack of interest?
If you answer yes to any of these questions that are similar, then your training may be out of focus, and the first thing to examine is your weekly program. If it is too long (meaning more than one exercise per body part), immediately reduce the exercises to one per body part; for example, bench press for the chest and shoulders, squats for the legs, and deadlifts for the back. Do no more than five total sets for each exercise. Get used to handling weights in the 3 to 5 rep range, adding weight when reps are exceeded.
If you are squatting over 300 pounds, squat once a week, deadlift once a week, and bench press twice a week, one day after squatting and another day with bench press only.
This is a three day a week workout, so space the lifts so that recovery is complete.
Monday: Bench Press
Friday: Squat, Bench Press
Enjoy Your Lifting!