SOME ADVICE FROM 9 MONTHS OF HARD WORK
I’m as strong as I ever want to be
Such a weird thing to say. How can one be too strong? But getting strong is fucking hard man. It takes a lot of time, hard work, and discipline. Now that I am part of the 4/3/2/1 club for the major lifts I feel like if I can maintain this for the next half of my life, I’ll always be strong enough for myself. I have no need to try to squat 500lbs. I’m good staying in the 300s.
Pick one goal at a time
It’s hard to be the most conditioned, most ripped, strongest, most agile, can jump the highest, can throw a car at someone person at the same time. You will have to work in blocks. Always get gassed doing a set of squats? Then work on conditioning. Always had chicken legs? Then work more on lower body. Etc etc. Just pick one thing and don’t abandon the other stuff, but don’t emphasize it. For example I wanted to be strong. So I put most of my focus on my workout days, but still made sure I conditioned 2-3x a week so maintained and even improved my conditioning.
Conditioning is not an afterthought
Conditioning matters a shit ton. You don’t have to go out to run to condition. There is lots of ways to do it. You can instead of resting your 5 minutes between sets, rest for only 30 seconds after a heavy set of 6. You can use KB, bw circuits, jump rope, even just do jumping jacks. For most people I say play a sport like tennis or bball. This will be way more fun than being by yourself. At least 2 times a week condition hard.
Assistance work is important
My upper body responds easily to compound work. My lower body takes a lot more work. I personally needed to do lunges, ghr, goblet squats, and tons of core work to make my squat and deadlift go through the roof. I was stuck at 225 for 3 weeks. One week I could get 5 reps, then the next week it was hard at 2. Once I included lunges, ghr, direct ab and lower back work, my squat and deadlift exploded.
Direct core work is not assistance. It is vital!
Ab wheel, sit ups, hanging leg raises, 45 back extensions are vital. A strong core will help out a lot. I know all the compounds work your core, but direct core work truly helps. I would do it every training session. Everything was a lot more stable once I included them as a necessity.
Stretch before and after
You don’t have to kill yourself doing this or spend 30 minutes foam rolling. I spend 15 minutes warming up. This includes some basic stretches, jumps, and I flow through a few movements. Everyone should have their own routine. As we age it gets even more important to have a proper warm up. After lifting you should stretch out a few muscles that you know are tight. My favorite thing to do is stretch my back, quads, wrists, and hip flexors.
All you need is basic equipment
Anyone can get strong using the most basic equipment. If all you had was a barbell and plates and a jump rope, you can get fucking strong and stay conditioned. All those cables and machines are nice, but that’s a luxury. For Christmas I’ll be getting myself a squat stand with dip/chin attachment, barbell, bumper plates and some heavy dumbbells. No bench? That’s because I know at least once a month I’ll be going to LA Fitness with the friends and I’ll do it while I’m there since they all for sure will.
Curls help the elbows
Do curls once a week. I don’t think the average person needs to hit them a million different ways. Get in 100 reps a week. You are already doing rows and chins. Use light weight. I only use 20lbs.
Go for reps before weight
I took big jumps in weight. Sometimes 10lbs, but sometimes 50lbs. Work on doing more reps before adding weight to the bar. That volume of reps will really help reinforce technique and does build strength.
Reps/Sets don’t matter
Well they do matter, some are probably more optimal, but just get in and put in work. I didn’t have any set rep scheme in place. My 531 days I would just go all out some days working up to a 1RM and then doing 5x10 after. Some days I would do 3x5, but on the last set try to go all out for as many reps as I could. Sometimes I would even work up to my 1rm and then do a set of 20-30 squats. Just get in and put in some solid work.
For a big squat, you need to squat
Everyone is built different. But in my opinion I think in the beginning you need to squat 3x a week. It doesn’t always need to be heavy, but just get use to squatting. Perfect mix is one heavy day, one light day, and one day thats moderate that maybe you try to set yourself some type of pr whether it be weight or reps.
Body-weight exercises works wonders
All my assistance work was body weight work. They really strengthen everything and you can really focus on the muscles and get tons of reps in. Trust me if you can do 100 back raises in a row with just your bw this helps your deadlift and squat.
Bar speed matters
Don’t grind out a ton of reps. Reps should be smooth and fluid and the bar should move relatively fast. Grinders once in a while are ok, but 90% of your reps should feel powerful and explosive.
Rows and chins are not assistance
They are super important and should be treated as such. Always superset these with your pressing. This way you never have to wait to get to it. My personal favorites are db rows and neutral pull ups. Band pull aparts are a nice way to finish off your session.
Most importantly, eat and rest
You MUST eat! Start with 3 solid meals a day. Don’t worry about calories, macros, weight, etc. Build the habit of eating well. Easiest way to eat for anyone is:
- breakfast - eggs, slices toast w/ butter, glass of milk, banana
- lunch - big salad w/ meat, spinach, lettuce, tomato, seeds, dressing
- dinner - meat, rice, beans, roasted vegs
- snack - spoonful of peanut butter
You don’t even have to meal prep. All I did was basically eat like this and when I started feeling run down a bit, I would increase the portion size.
Eat your vegetables
Just eat them. Lots of spinach, broccoli and then whatever else you like. Buk choy in garlic sauce is a good one.
Trouble eating right? limit carbs to only right before/after workout
This saved my ass. I only ate carbs (bread, fruit, rice, potatoes) before and right after working out. I don’t think carbs are bad. But when you have some extra flab, I think it helps to develop the habit of EARNING those carbs.
Drink non-milk tea
I always drink tea with my dinner and breakfast. Having a hot tea when eating really helps settle the food. I feel much lighter after I eat.
Build one habit at a time
This my personal advice to anyone seeking to get into shape or strong. This was my progression and I had crazy program ADD. Only difference it took me 3 months. My friend did this with me at the same time and it took him 6 months.
- Month 1 - Pick a program, don’t miss a training/conditioning day at all
- Month 2 - Continue not missing training days, now add eating a big breakfast daily
- Month 3 - Now you haven’t missed days and your eating a big breakfast daily, now time to add a big salad for lunch daily.
- Month 4 - Haven’t missed a training day and first half of the day you’ve been eating right, now time to get those dinners up to par.
- Month 5 - You’ve been busting ass. Time to up the intensity of your workouts and add a pre workout snack
- Month 6 - Continue with exactly how you’re doing things for years and you’ll have the body you are dreaming of.
In 6 months you can change your life physically and mentally. I think that’s all a person needs to really change things around!