By Eric and Chris Martinez
This article isn’t meant to make your jaw drop or teach you a bunch of new stuff.
Instead, look at it as a friendly reminder to start doing some of the small stuff you haven’t paid attention to much.
As we continue to learn more, we’re finding that constantly reminding ourselves and others of the small things that ultimately need to be practiced and implemented into the trainee’s iron game for ultimate success.
So what you’re about to read might be considered “nothing new,” but there’s probably a few gems that even the most well-rounded trainee could benefit from inserting back into his or her iron game.
If you’re new to the iron game, let us explain what “Deloading” is. It’s a form of less intense training where you let your central nervous system, joints, ligaments, tendons, mental health, and whole body recover from a hard training program.
There’s usually 2 sides to this, one being the angel on your right shoulder telling you to deload because you will see longer and more consistent gains in the gym, be less injury prone, and will enjoy lifting more in the long run and the little devil on your left shoulder telling you not to deload and he’s not telling you why because he wants you to push and push until you get injured. If you’re on a routine where the intensity is low then you can get away with a break anywhere from 12-16 weeks. On the contrary, if your routine’s intensity is high and you’re trying to set PR’s every week, then your body probably needs a deload every 3-6 weeks.
Deloading is anywhere from 1-4 weeks. You do thesame sets and reps with 60-70% of normal weights or 80% of normal volume. It’s up to you to listen to your body and know when it’s time for a deload!
Go Through a Proper Warm-Up
We can’t tell you how many times we see this in the gym, people not taking the time to go through a proper warm up. This is something we were guilty of ourselves when we didn’t know any better. We know everyone wants to get yoked, ripped and have super human strength, but let’s be real here and not neglect the small things that are important in the gym.
We’re huge believers in going through a proper warm up that includes: Light static stretching followed by dynamic warm ups, mobility work and foam rolling. We’d much rather do this than go into a workout ice cold and stiff, looking to rush our workouts or get injured.
A recent paper by MacDonald et al. showed thatfoam rolling enhances ROM (Range Of Motion) without diminishing neuromuscular performance. This is the very first peer-reviewed study that examined the effects of foam rolling and more research needs to be conducted but it looks very promising.
Do What Psyches You Up the Most
Now this doesn’t mean to go off and take 5 scoops of Jacked 3D or drink a whole pot of coffee before your workout. This simply means do a workout or routine that is going to psyche you up and fire you up the most. Chances are you will work extremely hard at this if you are psyched up for it and you will be more consistent with it.
Now don’t get us wrong here, there are basic principles and training methodologies that have been around for a long long time that have proven to work, so we’re always going to advocate some of this type of training because it’s tried and true and has research to back it up. But if some of it isn’t for you, then incorporate some stuff that will psyche your ass up so that you’ll DO WORK! End of story.
Map Out Your Workouts
This is another one that drives us nuts and we’re guilty of it ourselves. And that was working out without a training journal. My lord were we lost lil puppies, until we started using a training journal and tracking our progress. How the hell do you track your progress without writing it down on something or somewhere? It’s damn near impossible and your only cheating yourself. We can almost promise you that if you start mapping out your workouts, have a training regimen planned and track your progress with a training journal you will see longer and more consistent gains. Do yourself a favor and spend no more than $10 dollars on a training journal that will pay off immensely!
Don’t Be Afraid To Try New Things
Trying new things can really be the make or break of some people because if you never try anything new in the gym or in life most importantly, how will you ever know what interests you and doesn’t interest you or makes you happy? Weight training can be pretty complicated at times, especially if you are new to the iron game. There are tons of different fitness trends out there, so make sure you have a specific goal with an open mind and keep practicing and experimenting on yourself and paying attention to what happens to your body only, do not worry about anyone else’s. Make sure to always practice what you are interested in, good practice means embracing the uncertainty and realizing that trial and error are part of the iron game and the keys to your overall success.
Let Your Body Adapt To a Routine
Variety for the sake of variety in exercise routines is pretty foolish. Not all adaptation to an exercise is bad; in fact it’s quite the opposite. Some adaptation is crucial to strength and hypertrophy. There’s no such thing as muscle confusion! Your body and central nervous system needs time to adapt to a certain routine. Don’t be a “program hopper” and do four weeks of sheiko, four weeks of hypertrophy, for weeks of strength training, four weeks of 5×5, four weeks of cross-fit, and four weeks of P-90X or Insanity DVD’s. People wonder why they are constantly hitting plateaus in their training and never seeing results, let your body and brain adapt to one routine at a time for 3-4 months. “Rome wasn’t built in one day,” “Slow and steady wins the race,” the key is patience, consistency, and hard work.
Outwork Your Competition
This is about as plain and simple as it gets. If you have any sense of PRIDE, you will not let your competition OUTWORK you! You must create an edge by outworking everyone, and then you have a physical and mental edge over everyone else. If you feel like you are going to half ass it on your workout, don’t even bother going to the gym, stay home get your mind right and save it for when you are going to go all out. If you feel like you want to go to the gym to chit chat, text message and check out girls then take your ass elsewhere and do it there because clearly you are doing yourself a disservice by even stepping foot into the gym to begin with. In a nutshell, stop the complaining, do the work, and always outwork your competition. As Layne Norton says “You may be bigger and stronger than me, but you will not OUTWORK me.”
We save the best for last of course. The key word is FUN and we are pretty sure everyone knows how to do that in their own respective ways. If you are working out every day just going through the motions and not having fun, it’s only a matter of time until you quit. Many people exercise for the wrong reasons, force themselves, and are even intimidated of going to gyms. If you have a specific goal you want to accomplish in the gym, it will make your process that much easier and fun at the same time. Why? Because when you have a goal and plan mapped out you challenge yourself and see progress every week whether its strength wise, losing weight, or just physiological changes in your body composition. Progress equals having fun, beating personal records equals fun, and when you get compliments from others and look awesome in board shorts or a bikini, how can that not be fun and rewarding. So, no matter what happens throughout your journey, remember if you are not having fun while training, you do not love and appreciate the process of the iron game.