What’s The Single Best Thing You Can Do To Improve Your Program?
More specifically: what’s the single best thing you can do to get better results in the gym?
At the expense of making the most redundant statement ever, there’s a lot of information out there. We’re inundated with it. At no point in human history has information been more readily available and “in our face” than the here and now.
This is a blessing and a curse.
A blessing in that I can log onto Google right now and if I need to know the birthdate of Luke Skywalker, whether or not Alicia Keys is divorced yet, or say, the mating rituals of South African rhinoceroses, I can do it. And it’s awesome.
A curse in that, with so much information at our finger tips, people are often paralyzed into stagnancy.
This is never more apparent than in the health and fitness realm.
Take for example, food. One week we’re told that eggs are the most nutritious food known to man, and ten minutes later, a new story comes out detailing how eating an egg will spurn the Mayan Apocalypse.
People literally have no freakin idea what to eat that it’s gotten to the point where I have clients asking me if eating an apple is okay.
YES, it is, for the love of god!!!!!
And, for the record, Luke Skywalker was born in 19 BBY.
Switching gears to the fitness side of the equation, the waters are just as uncharted. Information is abundant, and if you were to type in bodybuilding, powerlifting, strength, or fat loss workouts into Google, you’d undoubtedly receive thousands of results for each.
There’s an endless cornucopia of websites, articles, and blog posts telling you the optimal set/rep scheme for this, the best weekly split for that, and any number of other factors you can think of.
As a result, for many people, the cycle is as follows:
One week the goal is to get jacked. The following you decide to start a fat loss phase. Oh snap, you just read an article that promises to increase you bench press 50 lbs in 13 minutes!!!!!!
Actually never mind, MMA sounds kind of cool.
No wait, GODDAMIT, those dudes in 300 were pretty ripped up, I think I changed my mind and want to get shredded again.
Before you know it, it’s been six months and you’ve made little (if any) progress in the gym
If it does, you’re what I call a flip-flopper, and it needs to stop.
Pick a goal, ANY goal, and stick with it for more than two minutes. Stealing a popular quote from Dan John, “your goal is to keep the goal, the goal.”
Expounding on things, and taking it even a step further, we could also make the case for exercise selection.
One popular (and valid) component of designing strength based programs – or any program for that matter – is the notion of “cycling” movements every 1-2 weeks.
So, for example, an elite powerlifter might choose to perform box squats one week for his main lower body exercise, and then switch to SUMO rack pulls the next.
The idea being that his CNS is so advanced and he’s developed such profound foundation of strength that in order to maintain a training effect (and make progress to boot) it’s advantageous to cycle though movements.
This issn’t always the case, of course, but it hopefully gets my point across.
Which is: most people aren’t elite nor are they advanced. And the notion of cycling through exercises is more harmful than good.
Not that I feel people are going to physically hurt themselves (although that’s certainly not out of the question), but rather, I think when people have an insatiable case of training ADD – where they’re switching training goals every week and not allowing themselves enough time to actually learn how to perform an exercise correctly – they hurt their progress.
I’m sorry but if you’re just learning how to deadlift – arguably one of the more technical exercises to learn – you don’t need to be worrying about whether or not you should add chains or perform them from a deficit in order to get all swole.
Funnily enough, if you were to look at the majority of programs I write, many may be surprised to find that I don’t go out of my way to add in a lot variety. It’s just not what most people need.
What they need is CONSISTENCY.
What they need is repetition and to learn how to squat properly by sitting back and pushing the knees out; to learn how to hip hinge properly when performing a deadlift; to not worry about making certain exercises more “McGyver(ish)” by adding bands, boards, weight releasers, a paper clip, and a rubber ducky.
Instead worry less about doing stuff that’s new and unique, and worry more about OWNING your training. Worry about perfecting technique and not switching your training emphasis every half hour, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be surprised as to how much progress you can make.