I’m going to start this by saying there isn’t really any great secrets to training and making improvements. Sure, there’s more advanced tricks and techniques that you’ll learn as you go along but it’s really just about being consistent with the basics over time that will get you where you want to be.
People entering the gym will all have different types of objectives. Some will want to pursue bodybuilding, others will go down the route of powerlifting, some will be training for performance in a particular sport or hobby while the rest may just want to lead a healthier lifestyle and improve their body composition a little. Whichever category you fall into, it will benefit all groups to begin with pretty similar styles of training.
Beginning training should consist with learning the basic compound exercises like squatting, benching, deadlifting, an overhead press, barbell rows and possibly a Romanian deadlift. Learning these exercises properly from the beginning will set you up long term for better progress and less injuries. The truth is that you very rarely see people actually performing these exercises correctly day in day out. Training with these basic movements and adding in a couple as you go along in the beginner stage can form a base for strength, muscle and technique that will serve you well as you progress into more specialized and advanced training in your area.
I think people coming from all the different groups need to understand the concept of a progressive overload from the beginning. Basically, progressive overload is going to mean lifting heavier and heavier weight over time. This may seem like a simple idea in theory but it can be more difficult to implement in practice.
When you first begin weight training, you are applying a stimulus that your body hasn’t experienced before. Your body, in turn, is going to react by making certain adaptations; be it in terms of lean body mass or neurally. In order for your body to continue making further adaptations, you are going to have to provide the body with reason to do so and this will be in the form of a progressive overload. This is the reason that so many people will stall after a certain amount of time in the gym. It’s simply because they go in and perform the same number of sets and repetitions every day or attempt to inflate their ego by lifting their 1RM a couple of times and never progress.
Now, there’s always been an age old suggestion of high reps for “toning” while low reps for strength and its something I’ll probably go into more detail in the future. (Note: There is no such thing as “toning” a muscle and if you think there is, you are probably a moron). However, I want to introduce the concept of Volume to put things into perspective. I’m going to define volume as Sets x Reps x Weight Moved. Example: 3 sets of 10 repetitions with 50kg would be 1500kg of volume.
When talking about muscle growth, the number one dictator is volume. Let that sink in. So providing more and more volume over time, as it is required when you have stopped growing, will keep you progressing with muscle hypertrophy. This is extremely important for bodybuilders or anyone looking to add muscle to their physique. Of course, there is other factors that come into play such as metabolic stress, muscle damage, time under tension etc but volume is the number one determinant.
Strength is going to be determined by:
Muscle Mass * Neural Factors.
This is going to be important for powerlifters and anybody doing strength training. People in this area take advantage of neural adaptations to maximize their strength output and this is the reason why the biggest people aren’t necessarily the strongest.
As you progress into more advanced training there is different techniques that will allow you to progress further and further but it really isn’t necessary for the majority of people to go into these areas as they can make similar progress from a more simplistic approach.
So, as I said, there isn’t really any great secrets to training but I don’t think I should go any further for now. Keep lifting heavy sh*t and pushing yourself like you do when a hot person is standing behind you watching. That is all.