Featured story January 6, 2015
Most regular gym attendees stick to their programs for way to long, or don't have one at all. Once you have repeated a program for more than 6 times, progress will slow down very fast and so will your gains. Your body requires small but frequent changes to get stronger and bigger. You need to get it used to a given load and repetition range. Then your job is to increase those amounts and ranges during the next 4 to 6 workouts. You don't have to go crazy every workout. Rome was not built in a day.
Let's say that your target is to increase by 3-4 pounds (in total) your bench press. I know it's not very impressive, but after 6 weeks of a bench press specialization program, repeating the workout twice a week, it would end up being a whopping 36 to 60 pounds at the end. Not bad at all.
Regular or seasoned gym attendees go to the gym and do whatever they like, which is often always the same thing. Bench press, curls, abs and cardio. In the old times, some very successful bodybuilders used the "instinctive" training method. Without actually admitting it, there was a plan behind what seemed to be madness or what they called “instinct”. They alternated between strength and hypertrophy. The instinct kicked in once they stopped seeing progress.
When you looked at their routine, most had some type of basic lift in it, such as heavy pulls, a variation of squats, and for a few advanced ones, Olympic lifts. Those lifts give you the most bang for your buck and can make you gain strength and lean muscle faster than any other lifts.
Following resolution number 2 guidelines, planning these big lifts during the year is the best-kept secret of top bodybuilding coaches. Including strength phases of about 3-4 weeks into your yearly plan will increase your 6-10 rep max weight, which will boost your hypertrophy protocols to the max with new gains. The ideal ratio between hypertrophy and strength phases would be 2 to 1, meaning 2 hypertrophy phases followed by a strength phase. This is where you will transfer your new strength gains into greater time under tension. We call that phase "functional hypertrophy". Functional as in getting your muscles bigger whilegaining strength and applying it to higher repetition ranges, which is the "functional" part of it.
If you know a good trainer, my best advice would be to go ahead and hire him or her. Invest and hire a professional. You don't have to hire him for a lifetime. Hire someone that will run you through an evaluation such as bodyfat assessment and muscle testing to determine strengths and weaknesses. Knowing what is holding you back and fixing these problems will bring you more return on your investment.
For the serious, beast mode, no easy way out crowd, resting is optional and more often than not, taboo. "I'll rest when I am dead" might be cool to say but it's really not the best way to go. Trying to be lean and muscular with adrenal fatigue has never been done before and will never be possible.
Don't wait until you crash or start having overtraining symptoms like disturbed sleep, joint issues, cramps, or just plain generalized fatigue to stop training for a few days. It won't make you a bad person. Plan some rest and regeneration phases into your annual planning. Ideally, every 12 weeks, take 5 to 7 days off. In these off periods, you can add some mobility drills, core and light cardio sessions or just take it easy. Your joints and adrenal glands will always thank you for it.
All these might be good but the need to individualize is always a great idea since no one is the same, thus, the need to hire a professional. Look for someone trustworthy who has proven results, not just with his own physique, but with his clientele.