Tag Archives: procrastination
Making progress is something everyone aims to do, today I am going to list the most common reasons why you’re NOT progressing and have become stuck at a certain level.
Some of these answers may surprise you.
1 – No Overload
Essentially you’re not training hard enough to prompt a stimulus that will require and adaptive response (SAID, GAS principles, look them up). You need to be creating as much time under maximal tension as possible to elicit a noteworthy response from your body/nervous system.
Try 10×3 at 80% 1RM followed by 70% 1RM for one all out set to failure.
2 – Too Much Overload
You’re training too hard.
Yep, on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the point above this is common for people who are working out for hours at a time, often doing a gym session and then possibly cardio and back to back gym classes (or something like that). This can take you past the stage of Overreaching, which is needed to create the stimulus required for super compensation to take place, and put you in to a perpetual state of “I must survive” meaning you won’t adapt, merely just make it through.
You may also not be having enough rest days (2-3 per week is good for average folk).
Training too much can easily be avoided by planning in deloads every 3rd or 4th week, or at the bare minimum you will want a reduction in volume, so something like this:
Week 1 – 10x3x80%
Week 2 – 10x4x80%
Week 3 – 10x5x80%
Week 4 – 5x3x original 80%
Week 5 – 10x3x80%+5lbs and so on.
3 – Under Eating
This is exactly as it sounds. You’re not eating enough calories to recover/build muscle and sustain your activity levels. You might be eating in balance with your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) or possibly be in a deficit (under what you need each day), both of these will contribute to a lack of progress.
To establish a baseline guide for calories take your weight in Lbs and multiply it by 17-19 for a quick daily calories number. If you want to be more technical use the Harris-Benedict formula, link here:
There is also the question of macros, you can find that info here:
4 – No Rest Days
Rest days can seem like a pain to the hard core gym goer but they are essential for recovery and building/repairing tissues and progressing.
Optimal training frequency per muscle group is 3-5 days, this can be found in both peer reviewed studies and also through anecdotal evidence from some of the worlds best lifters, you are free to do your own digging on this. Start here and look at the studies referenced:
5 – No Tracking
All of the above are some of the reasons people don’t progress, from my experience they are the most common (other reasons can be hormonal, stress related etc but this will require blood tests to establish), however if you don’t track what you’re doing, what you’re eating and how you’re actually progressing you won’t really have any idea of what is going wrong. It’s like pissing in to the wind.
Go to a local shop and buy a diary, they are around £1-3 and will dramatically improve your training and your progress.
Time to stop slacking, start progressing and take things to the next level.
Are you coasting when you’re in the gym?
Do you pick up the same weights and do the same reps/sets as you’ve done for the last who knows how long?
Do you still do 2-3 gym classes back to back with minimal effort and reward yourself with some calorific sturdbucks drink afterwards because ‘you deserve it because you just did 2-3 classes back to back’?
If this sounds like you then it’s time for a healthy does of reality.
Coasting along in the gym is not healthy.Not just physically but also mentally too. You will get stuck in a rut and eventually end up going backwards because your body will have become so efficient at doing the same things you always do that your overall energy expenditure will drop but I’m positive that you won’t adjust your calories to accommodate for this, meaning inevitable muscle loss and fat gain.
Harsh but something that you can see in literally every commercial gym. Don’t be one of these people.
Going to the gym shouldn’t be an all out struggle each session, but you should have at least one hard and one medium session per week with a light session to allow recovery but still keep your body/mind in the right place. This doesn’t mean to say you use baby weights on the right session, it simply means adjusting the volume/intensity (I wrote about this a few days ago, check it out). Here is a nice little option for H-L-M days:
- Medium – 8x3x80-85%
- Light – 5x5x75-80%
- Heavy – 6-10x2x85-90%
Easy to rotate this, all it takes is some planning. Simply sit down and establish what this correlates to for each of your workout days (Pull, Push, Legs for example) and you will have a training program that looks like this:
- Pull – Medium
- Push – Light
- Legs – Heavy
- Pull – Light
- Push – Heavy
- Legs – Medium
- Pull – Heavy
- Push – Medium
- Legs – Light
- Off – Then the cycle starts again.
This is a simple 3 days on 1 day off. You don’t have to follow that, you could do 3 workouts a week and that would give you a three week cycle instead of a two week one. You can arrange the days however bas too suit you – keep in mind that from various research that the optimal training frequency for each movement/muscle group is every 3-5days and the optimal amount of sets is 10-20 (tops) with an average load of 80%.
Take some time and look at what you’re currently doing in the gym and ask yourself these questions:
Does it challenge me?
Does it make me want more?
Does it scare me slightly?
If the answers are NO then you need to take a week off and get your head together, pick a solid goal, return with a plan and knuckle down. As the old saying goes:
“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”
Walkouts, Partial Reps, Banded Moments, Movements with Chains, Lockout Reps, Board Pressing, the list of specialist exercises is numerous but do you really need them?
Building is the aim, but with all the set and rep ranges out there which one should you use?
There was the famous 6×6 & 8×8 that was used by Vince Gironda
Or the hugely successful 7-5-3 Wave Loading System found under the tutelage of Charles Poliquin
You even heard stories of how well people did on Dorian Yates’ ‘Blood & Guts One Set to Faliure’
Some even did phenomenally well on the very simple 4×8-12
But the truth is that all of the systems work, lets be honest and accept that if they didn’t work they wouldn’t be spoken about.
The hardest part isn’t finding a set/rep scheme that works, it’s finding one YOU can stick with for the long haul, in our society of quick fixes and instant gratification we want to add 30lbs of lean muscles, drop 50lbs of body fat and look akin to a Greek God all by last week.
Sadly life doesn’t work that way. If you want to build some decent lean muscle you will need to be prepared to put in the hard work, eat adequately and have everything pretty much on point. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a life but you must understand that the more effort you put in and the more sacrifice you’re willing to make the faster and less time you will need you will achieve your results (which could still be in the years in most cases).
Now the obvious points are out of the way it’s time to give you some options to help you on your way to a better you.
The rotation of set/rep schemes will be set using a 3 days on 1 day off rotation until you have done the particular set/rep scheme 4/5 times (this will last mean each set/rep system will last around 3 weeks or so) with a total of 4 different rep/set options to go though. The main exercises will stay the same for all 4 mini blocks, as for assistance work you can add in some DT (Density Training) that should take no more than 10min and the chosen assistance movements can change every 3/4 workouts if you feel the need, but remember a change is only needed if you have become stagnant on that particular exercise.
Parameters for the mains lifts:
First 5 Workouts (weeks 1-3):
Loading % of 1RM: 70%,75%,80%,60%
Tempo: 6-1-1-1 and 2-1-1-1 for the 20 rep set
Rest: 90 Seconds
Second 5 Workouts (weeks 4-6)
Loading % of 1RM: 75-80%
Rest: 30 Seconds
Third 5 Workouts (weeks 7-9)
Loading % of 1RM: 80-85%
Rest: 90-120 Seconds
Forth 5 Workouts (weeks 10-12)
Loading % of 1RM: 82,85,87,90,92%
Rest: 120 Seconds or as needed
The main lifts will be comprised of the following:
– Squat (Front or Back)
– Bench Press (Incline of Flat)
– Deadlift (Overhand only)
– Bent Over Row (Supinated Grip)
– Press (Military or Behind Neck)
– Pull Up (Weighted or Body Weight)
Now it’s time for the interesting part, the workouts themselves.
Based on 3 working days you will only be required to do 2 movements per workout, plus 1-2 assistance movements if you feel the need.
A1 – Squat
B1 – Pull Up
C1 – Dumbbell Curl (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)
A1 – Bench Press
B1 – Bent Over Row
C1 – Skull Crusher (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)
A1 – Deadlift
B1 – Press
C1 – Lateral Raise – Do one set of C1 followed by C2, minimal rest between transitions.
C2 – Face Pull or Reverse Fly (5-10min on timer, do as many reps as possible in the time limit)
Day 4: Off
The above is a very simple progression that will help you build some quality lean muscle tissue while keeping things fresh and interesting. as I mentioned above you can change your assistance exercises as you see fit but try to keep the main movements the same as this will help with the accumulation f overload stimulus.
One benefit of these workouts is that they won’t take long to complete, perhaps 40min tops meaning that you will have lots more free time to spend with friends and family, eat lots of good foods and because the workouts are so short you will look forward to your next one, unlike some other extreme training programs that kill your motivation to train.
You will also need to make sure you’re eating enough, if you want my opinion on how to make a educated guess then do the following:
LBM (Lean Body Mass) x 17-19 = Daily Calories
LBM x 1-1.2 = Protein in Grams for the day x4 = calories from protein.
Protein x 1.5-3 = Carbs for the day (1 if you’re a desk jockey. Use 2 if you’re somewhat active at work and 3 if you’re job is very physical) x4 = Calories from carbohydrates.
Daily Calories – (Protein Calories + Carb Calories) = Calories of Fat per day, divide this number by 9 to get your daily grams of fat.
Now go and make some progress.
You’re not training hard enough.
No, you’re not.
If you were then you wouldn’t be looking of rate next best program, you would be slowly and steadily making progress.
I have noticed that lots of people seem to be training much LONGER but not HARDER.
While this is only my opinion and lots will disagree, if you spend more than 45-75min in the gym then you’re not working hard enough, period.
In my opinion if you can train ‘hard’ for longer than that then you’re not training hard enough or you’re on some form of PED (steroid) because there are very few exceptions to this rule.
Why between those times?
Depending on the length or warm up you need (some people need up to 30min with all their pre mobility etc), once you’re body feels ready you start lifting and pushing yourself.
What does hard work feel like?
How should your reps feel?
How should your breathing be when running (cardio training)?
Lets say you’re doing 6 sets of 6 reps, the first 2 sets of 6 should feel easy ish, the next two you will want to be struggling to get 6 and the last two you should only get 4, perhaps 5 reps out and those should be a struggle. This is coming close to hard work.
Alternatively you could go in with the ind set that even on your first set the 6th rep should be a fighting struggle to achieve (I like this mind set).
You shouldn’t be able to hold a conversation. Simple.
Too much chatter when CV training means you;re not working at the correct intensity, you should be abel to get out maybe 3-5 words or single sentences, but if you can talk almost normally then you need to be working harder.
This all sounds quite logical doesn’t it?
You’d be surprised at the amount of people who have ‘pseudo intensity’. What is it?
Pseudo Intensity is when people are working hard ish, but they often hold a lot back, this is why allows them to stay in the gym for upwards of 90min and sometimes even 3 hours.
There is a simple equation I like to remember, it goes like this:
Hard Work + Consistency = Results
Okay, there are some nuances to that but the general ethos is solid.
Now stop faffing about and go do some proper training!
Today it’s time to talk about technique, or more importantly your ability to preform correct technique.
There are lots of compound exercises that require certain amounts skill, but that’s not really in question that often because the average gym goer forgets one crucial element, most compound exercises also require adequate mobility to be preformed correctly.
Before I move on let us establish what mobility actually is.
Mobility, or joint mobility, is the ability to move a limb through the full range of motion with control, people often get mobility and flexibility confused.
Mobility is based on voluntary movement (squatting to full depth for example) while flexibility involves static holds (touching your toes) and is often dependent upon gravity or passive forces. Mobility demands strength to produce full-range movement, whereas flexibility is passive and not strength-dependent.
It is possible to have good mobility without being especially flexible, after all, someone who is able to perform a full overhead squat won’t necessarily be able to do the splits. Just as someone who is flexible can have poor mobility, i.e., control. Of the two, mobility is more important. It is better to be inflexible with good mobility than flexible with poor mobility.
Mobility isn’t just required for lifting weights though. having good mobility will also improve your quality of life too. In an ideal world you would wake up every morning and perform a mobility routine to help prepare your body for the trials of the day. it doesn’t have to take long, 5-10min is more than sufficient and you can do it while your breakfast is cooking.
Here is a sample routine that you can do at home and before your workouts each and everyday.
- Rocking Ankle Mobilization (walking on the inner/outer portion of your foot for 20 meters per side)
- Quadruped Crawl (bear crawl) 20 meter
- Squat with chest expansion and arm swings
- Squat hold with shoulder dislocation (sit in a deep squat and hold a towel in both hands and try to take it fro the front of your body over your head and touch your lower back)
- Spidermans (also called a low lateral lunge from side to side)
- Reverse Lunge
Bonus: Static Stretching
*Hip Flexor Stretch (rear foot elevated on sofa or chair, push hips forwards)
* Door Frame Chest Stretch (have your elbows at shoulder height and lean through an open doorway)
There are lots of mobility routines available on YouTube and other such websites, the one above is a simple suggestion, i would do some research and find one that works for you and takes less than 10min to do each day.